Contribution à la réflexion sur le sujet de la bénédiction des armes
Actuellement l'Assemblée inter-conciliaire du Patriarcat de Moscou étudie un projet de document sur « la bénédiction des fidèles orthodoxes pour l'exercice de leur devoir militaire ».

Comme contribution à ce processus de réflexion, un nombre de prêtres, diacres et fidèles orthodoxes ont écrit un texte qui souligne en particulier l’importance d’une discussion sur la bénédiction des armes. L’initiative de cette lettre vient de la « Fraternité orthodoxe pour la paix » ont le fondateur lecteur Jim Forest a publié entre autre un recueil de textes orthodoxes sur la guerre, la paix et la nationalisme « Pour la paix d’en haut» ensemble avec l’un des signataires de la lettre, prêtre Hildo Bos

Le texte a été retenu par le portail russe et nous vous le proposons en anglais et en français.

Lettre adressée au patriarche Cyrille

Votre Sainteté, bénissez!

Le projet de document sur « la bénédiction des fidèles orthodoxes pour l'exercice de leur devoir militaire »est actuellement discuté par l'Assemblée inter-conciliaire. Ce débat est maintenant plus que nécessaire et présente un grand intérêt. Son thème concerne non seulement l'Eglise orthodoxe russe mais l'orthodoxie dans son ensemble.

Ci-joint un document qui, comme nous l'espérons, enrichira le débat d'une manière constructive.

Comme Sa Sainteté le verra il serait souhaitable de ne pas admettre la bénédiction de toutes les armes de destruction massive ainsi que de toute arme mortelle. En effet, toute arme peut être utilisée d'une manière non sélective et ne pas servir seulement à l'autodéfense. Cela dépend des mains dans lesquelles elle se trouve.

Nous proposons également dans ce message quelques considérations sur la mission de l'église parmi les militaires et les personnes corporellement ou moralement blessées dans le courant des combats.

Fidèlement, en sollicitant vos saintes prières,
Contribution à la réflexion sur le sujet de la bénédiction des armes

On the blessing of weapons and soldiers: Letter to Patriarch Kirill in Moscow and All Russia

On 3 February 2020, the Inter-Council Presence of the Russian Orthodox Church, an advisory body that helps the Russian Hierarchy make decisions, released a draft text of guidelines on blessing weapons and soldiers. The text represented a step forward for the Church, as it bans the blessing of weapons of mass destruction. The Council will be considering the document until at least June 1, 2020. The Orthodox Peace Fellowship sent the following letter as our contribution to the ongoing review process. OPF commends the work of the council, but recommends that the guidelines broaden the ban on weapons and provide more substantive guidance for the pastoral care of soldiers.

Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky
Archpriest Andrew Louth
Archpriest Elijah Mueller
Archpriest Patrick Henry
Reardon Archpriest Theodore Van der Voort,
Priest Michael Bakker,
Priest Hildo Bos
Priest Silviu Bunta
Priest Sergey Trostyanskiy
Priest Steve Tsichlis
Dr. Hanna Bos
Reader James Forest
Reader Nicholas Sooy
Reader Brad Jersak,
PhD Andrew Klager,
PhD Yuli Nazarov,
PhD Tatiana Pantchenko
Richard Pevear
Larissa Volokhonsky

To our brothers and sisters in the Church in Russia:
The fact that we send this letter during the holy season of Lent is timely. At this season of the year, more than at any other time, one senses in the air that something is brewing. Although we experience the same glow of expectation year after year, what awaits us is such a mystery that each year it becomes new: God dies for us under our very eyes. As we prepare for this silencing sight, we have a sense that God has already unleashed the hounds of His love. His mercy is already in close pursuit, as the blessed psalmist says (Psalm 22:6). Therefore we write with this sense of joyful expectation, of being pursued by Christ’s love, of preparing for the sight of God arising from the tomb.

In this time of joyful expectation, we welcome the draft document on the blessing of soldiers, a document currently under discussion within the Moscow Patriarchate. The Church’s guidance on this grave matter is much needed as there is wide variance in this practice today not only in Russia but throughout the Orthodox world. At times practice diverges widely from the canonical bounds the document outlines.

In particular, we are grateful for the distinction between prayer for and blessings of soldiers, and the blessing of weapons. It is so important to note, as the document does, that while the blessing of soldiers is well documented in Orthodox practice, the blessing of any sort of weapon only comes relatively recently, and is a practice borrowed from Latin sources.

We welcome the prescription that indiscriminate and offensive weapons should not be blessed. At the same time we would like to strengthen this aspect of the document and express our reservations with any proposal to draw a border between weapons which can be blessed and those which cannot. We suggest that this prohibition should be extended to all weapons, for all weapons may be used in an indiscriminate or non-defensive way, depending on the hands into which the weapon falls.

It seems to us that any such distinctions between weapons can only obscure the fact that our Tradition has a particular framework or focus. Our history indicates that there is no other framework in which the Church can function but the life of the God-man granted to the Church. The definition of humanity is now a person: Christ.

Like all aspects of our human existence, war has to do with this divine-human life. It is nothing less than a problem of the health of the soul. Consequently, such distinctions as the ones proposed in the draft document amount to a hazardous discarding of the traditional Orthodox framework. Moreover, we are also concerned that taking such a path will inevitably end up looking at war in unrealistic ways, sanitizing it and disguising its reality in abstract ideologies. The realism of our tradition is in danger of being supplanted, and, despite Apostle Paul’s plea to think as Christ thinks (Phil 2:5-8), we perceive a new way of thinking which is not Christ’s and which endangers our faithful.

Given this concern, we welcome the document’s pointing out that, in accordance with the canons, any shedding of blood, including killing in defense of one’s community, is seen as “making one’s hands unclean.” St. Basil the Great, among others, declares that no one who has killed can be ordained to holy orders. Also, anyone ordained cannot do injury to another human being, not even as much as striking them:
“As for a Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon that strikes believers for sinning, or unbelievers for wrong-doing, with the idea of making them afraid, we command that he be deposed from office. For the Lord has nowhere taught that. On the contrary, He Himself, when struck, did not strike back; when reviled He did not revile His revilers; when suffering, He did not threaten.” (Apostolic 27; also Apostolic 83; I Ecumenical 7)

The accompanying later interpretation of this canon sets up its framework clearly:
“In teaching His disciples His divine commandments, the Lord used to say, ‘Whatever I say to you my disciples, I say also to all Christians.’ (cf. Mark 13:37) One of His commandments is to turn our left cheek to anyone that strikes our right cheek. (Mt 5:59). If, therefore, this commandment ought to be kept by all Christians, it ought much more to be obeyed by those in holy orders, and especially by bishops, regarding whom divine Paul wrote to Timothy that a bishop ought not to be a striker.” (1 Tim 3:3)

It should also be repeated that, while our Tradition may praise our soldiers’ piety and willingness to serve in the military as a service to their fellow human beings, it nevertheless does not canonize anyone on the basis of military valor. For example, such a saint as Alexander Nevski was placed in the church calendar not for his achievements in battle but because of the ascetic life he later embraced in becoming a monastic.

Also, as the splendid Russian tradition has it, people who die in war and other human atrocities are “passion-bearers” because they resemble Christ in suffering and dying, even more than in living. Rather, as praiseworthy as any service to others is, including military service, our tradition has marked soldiery as somewhat removed from Christian life. For example, Canon 12 of the First Ecumenical Council reads:
“As many as were called by grace, and displayed the first zeal, having cast aside their military girdles, but afterwards returned, like dogs, to their own vomit, so that some spent money and by means of gifts regained their military stations; let these, after they have passed the space of three years as hearers, be for ten years prostrators.”

And our tradition knows that this is so, because to kill, even if it is not murder, leaves a deep wound:
“Our Fathers did not consider murders committed in the course of wars to be classifiable as murders at all, on the score, it seems to me, of allowing a pardon to men fighting in defense of sobriety and piety. Perhaps, though, it might be advisable to refuse them communion for three years, on the ground that they are not clean-handed.” (St. Basil, canon 13)

The culture surrounding us glorifies war. This glorification has produced much suffering not only from physical injuries but also wounds to the mind and soul. Such glorification ends up playing the perverse purpose of holding our soldiers to the impossible standards of the false axiom of a “just war”, and thus of setting them up for even greater suffering and a deep sense of being alone and abandoned, while providing the rest of us, the ones who do not serve in the military, with a false sense of moral superiority, as if our hands were clean.

The Church Fathers, St Basil among them, see war in a different light. The blessed saint knows that killing in war wounds the soldier. In an eschatological light — the light of Christ — soldiers do not need moral expiation, but need to be healed. Of its nature, killing is always a sin, and sin is always self-injuring. Being injured by killing others is not unnatural or evil, but rather the natural consequence of an unnatural act. It is not the suffering that is the problem. On the contrary, hurting is paradoxically part of the healing process itself and a sign of the goodness of one’s soul. Rather the problem is the killing that our soldiers do on behalf of all of us.

Therefore, it is rather indifference to killing — a more or less unintended consequence of the romanticizing of war — that is evil, a grave spiritual-psychological illness indeed. This is the reason for which, in our Tradition, it seemed essential to keep soldiers who have killed or injured others away from Communion for a time, as our canons have it. This is not a punishment for what they have done — their killing under obedience is not murder — but it is an allowance for convalescence of the mind and heart, for time to heal, in order for this hurting itself to mature into Christ’s own health.

We dare to say bluntly what our great ascetics have always known and pointed out: that taking someone else’s life wounds and indeed, in a sense, kills one’s own. Indeed, we do not take our Lord’s words that “all those who take a sword will die by a sword” (Mt 25:62) to mean that anyone who takes a life deserves to die — God forbid! — but rather to indicate that killing always distances us from the one who “is Life” (John 14:6). Our canons and traditional practices show this. Our great ascetics and mystics, such as Sts. Dionysius the Areopagite and Macarius the Great, and our deepest minds, such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, learned from Christ that all people are one and they can do harm to each other only at their own peril.

We also welcome the statement of the document that the purpose of the prayers for soldiers is first and foremost for peace on earth and for the protection of life, whether that be the life of the innocent or the life of those engaged in combat. In agreement, we would like to point out that traditionally those willing to die for their country were actually blessed in such ways as to subvert killing on all sides. Our prayers before war are a desperate cry toward heaven that the wars which human passions set in motion, as the holy apostle James says (James 4), do not come to fruition. Our poor and brave soldiers were blessed not in order to kill their fellow human beings but to return home safely.
We pray that it is appropriate to note here the example of many saints who in various ways challenge us to take the greatest care about what we bless. As an example we offer this story from the life of the great Irish abbot, St Columba of Iona (521-597):

“A certain brother named Molua … came to the saint while he was writing and said to him, ‘I beg you to bless this knife which I am holding.’ The saint, without turning his face from the book which he was writing, extended his holy hand, still holding a pen in it, and blessed the knife with the sign of the cross. But when the brother had departed with the knife thus blessed, the saint asked, ‘What sort of a knife have I blessed for that brother?’ ‘You blessed a knife for killing bulls or oxen,’ answered Diormit, the saint’s faithful cell attendant. The saint then said, ‘I trust in my Lord that the knife I have blessed will never wound men or cattle.’ This word of the holy man received the strongest confirmation that same hour, for the same brother who sought the blessing went beyond the enclosure of the monastery and attempted to kill an ox, but, although he made three strong attempts with all his strength, could not even pierce the skin. When this came to the knowledge of the monks, they melted down the iron of the knife and applied a thin coating of it to all the iron tools used in the monastery. And such was the abiding virtue of the saint’s blessing that these tools could never afterwards inflict a wound on flesh.” (Life of Columba, chapter 30, from the Hagiography of St. Adamnan)

Also, with one voice, our Tradition teaches that weapons do not belong in the Church. Our Fathers prohibit anyone, no matter his or her rank, from entering churches while carrying weapons. The Acts of the Third Ecumenical Council teach us that soldiers wearing their weapons can only be blessed (and only the soldiers, not the weapons) outside of the Church.

As a final note, insofar as this document provides guidelines for the pastoral care of soldiers, we also think it would be useful to counsel and aid soldiers in their reintegration into civilian life, aware that many who return from war bear not only bodily wounds, but grave invisible injuries.

We end this letter on the note on which it started, but in the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch (To the Romans, 7): “Our Love has been crucified. Therefore, we take no pleasure in the food that perishes nor in the pleasures of this life. We desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the one from the seed of David; and for drink we desire his blood, which is imperishable love.” (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Romans 7)

We who have signed these thoughts express our deep gratitude to the authors of the document.
With joy in the crucified and resurrected Lord,

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Mgr Sabba /Toutounov/ :Les armes de destruction massive ne doivent pas être bénies par les membres du clergé

Rédigé par Parlons D'orthodoxie le 11 Juin 2020 à 12:03 | 0 commentaire | Permalien


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