The Setos

On the border of Estonia and Russia, the Setos struggle to create a modern identity from ancient beliefs

CHR Comment: The photo essay shows that the Setos, a culturally and linguistically distinct group, hold Christian Orthodox beliefs but also retain elements of their earlier beliefs. Their traditional deity is said to reside under an Orthodox monastery.

Source: A Fairytale Kingdom Faces Real-Life Troubles

Ukraine’s President Calls for Recognition of Splinter Church

The Ukrainian president has called on an Orthodox Christian leader to recognize the independence of his country’s splinter church.

CHR Comment: The article refers to the divide in the Ukraine, which centers around Russian presence and involvement in the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine. The church divide dates to 1997.

Source: Ukraine’s president calls for recognition of splinter church – The Washington Post

Pan-Orthodox Synod Stalls over Disputes

A historic attempt to bring together all leaders of the world’s Orthodox churches for the first time in more than a millennium has stalled after the powerful Russian church and three others pulled out at the last minute over disputes ranging from the seating plan to efforts to reconcile with the Vatican.

CHR Comment: This article provides more context over what is causing dispute. The issues are primarily about influence and authority, manifested by a dispute over seating at the council. The article confirms the greater size of the Russian Orthodox Church, which may have influenced the withdraw of some smaller churches. Another point of potential dispute may be a measure to foster reconciliation with Roman Catholicism, which would affect the authority and standing of the individual Orthodox church bodies.

Source: Attempt to hold pan-Orthodox synod stalls over disputes – The Washington Post

Putin Visits Mt. Athos Monastic Community

On his first trip to a European Union country this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday sharply criticized western policy toward Moscow, describing a newly expanded U.S. missile defense system as a threat to his country’s security — and vowing to retaliate.

CHR Comment: The end of the article briefly mentions Putin’s visit to the monastery along with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, illustrating the church-state diplomacy current in Russia.

The second link below is to a BBC article/video, “No Women Allowed: Sacred sites where even Female Animals Are Banned,” which describes the restrictions of various religious sites such as Mt. Athos.

Source: Putin blasts West on first trip to EU country this year – The Washington Post

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-36405038