Metropolitan Feofan tells ‘about what he is sick at heart’ and asks Minnikhanov to stay
Orthodox believers have turned to the government and businesses for aid at the forum of the Orthodox community of Tatarstan in Kazan
The plenary session of the 4th forum of the Orthodox community of Tatarstan discussed what helps people of different faiths to coexist in Tatarstan, the reconstruction of churches and social support for people in need. The participants also asked the Tatarstan president to support social projects and the construction of a hall of residence for the theological seminary and wished Rustam Minnikhanov and themselves to meet again after two years at the next meeting of the Orthodox believers in the region. Read the details in the material of Realnoe Vremya.
Umileniye runs out of money
The ballroom of Korston entertainment complex gathered, as they say, the flower of the clergy and secular Tatarstan for the final event of the forum dedicated to the 440th anniversary of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. During the round table discussion and in four sections, people of different professions, ages and faiths communicated on the topics of interreligious cooperation, education, youth education, social activities, charity, and at the plenary session they summed up the results of this work.
“It is gratifying that the current forum is being held in a more meaningful form. I think I will not be mistaken if I say that the leitmotif of the activity of the Tatarstan Metropolitanate of the ROC in recent years has been the revival of the Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God of the Bogoroditsky Monastery. Thanks to the joint efforts, the world-famous cathedral has been almost recreated. This nationwide project, carried out simultaneously with the construction of the Bolgar Islamic Academy, is one of the clearest examples of the course pursued in the republic to restore historical justice and strengthen interethnic and interreligious peace and harmony,” Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov opened the plenary session.
The moderators of the events told about the discussions taken place at the round table discussion and in sections. The head of the organization of the parents of disabled children of Tatarstan Zabota, Nadezhda Titova, listed the problems faced by social activists: lack of specialists, lack of a single online portal to cover significant projects and activities of non-profit organizations, disunity, the remoteness of parishes. She said that it is necessary to train employees in financial literacy, to involve representatives of organizations, universities, and schools in volunteering.
Titova asked the president of Tatarstan for help for Umileniye centre, which works at the expense of the Presidential Grants Fund. The centre works with pregnant women, persuading them to refuse abortions, help women with children in difficult life situations. Women, while “their life is getting back to normal”, find a shelter in the centre, they receive help to find a job. But the centre also needs support, in particular, it needs premises. This year, the grant is finishing, the employees of Umileniye are drawing up documents for the new programme. But if it's approved, the money won't start coming until next year. Therefore, the organization appeals to the help of the authorities and businesses.
“The country is rich, but people are few”
“When you see a lot of faces, and in the presidium — the leadership of the republic, one of the most respected people in our country, it involuntarily causes a certain confusion. But it has to be dealt with somehow. I’ve listened to the report of the president of Tatarstan and I am thinking: 'Well, what else to say?' He has said everything, and everything is very correct, I agree with everything. Therefore, let my secretariat forgive me that the report is written. But I will try to say what is thought over, what is comprehended, what I am sick at heart about,” Metropolitan Feofan of Kazan and Tatarstan put aside the prepared speech.
The bishop thanked the head of the republic for the revival of the Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, the Bolgar Islamic Academy, the Kazan Theological Seminary.
“The cathedral was laid only two years ago. So fundamental, majestic, it is already erected. This miracle has become possible thanks to what we are talking about today — the cooperation of the state and society, religious associations and businesses,” said the metropolitan.
According to him, the cathedral “strengthens the spirit of the people, glorifies Kazan and Tatarstan”, which becomes the symbol of peaceful, good coexistence.
“I see the development of charitable service. I look at the sisters of mercy and think — they do not aim to earn. They give their heart to the sick, the disadvantaged. And our house Umileniye is for single mothers, women in difficult situations! You have watched only the video, but behind it — saved people, not killed in the womb, but children who saw the light, not mothers saddened by the loss of a child, and happy, holding babies in their arms. Isn't that enough?” asked the metropolitan and rector of the Kazan Theological Seminary.
“The country is rich, but people are few. We spend a lot of money on maternity capital, the government is doing a lot. But there's another trouble: women refuse to give birth — devil abortions. Neither the Tatars nor the Russians had a practice of perishing babies in such a way. The president of the republic, heads of administrations, sitting there at the head table — they are all from big families, and none of them is a beggar. The issue of anti-abortion activity — we all need to understand — is a weapon of our self-preservation, maybe stronger than our technical equipment. If our land is populated, we will be even stronger, greater and stronger country,” Feofan reasoned.
“Now I will say something for which the press may criticize me”
The bishop also spoke about the need to continue to take care of the elderly, “developing the institution of almshouses”. It is necessary to work with young people “without superficiality and eternal looking down on them”, “awakening in them the taste for goodness”, to restore monuments of culture and Orthodoxy, “awakening the love of beauty” and interest in history. The metropolitan informed about the transformation of the seminary — it repaired the premises, gym, purchased computers, that the issue with the land has been solved. But they need a hall of residence. With this request, he appealed to the president.
Touching upon the interethnic agenda, the metropolitan assured that every day he communicates with the mufti of Tatarstan, his deputy — even more than with the Orthodox believers:
“When we meet with foreign representatives on interfaith relations, I say: ‘Why are you racking your brains?! There's a laboratory.’ They ask: ‘Where? What?’ I answer: ‘Interethnic peace and harmony. We invite everyone to visit Tatarstan and see how we live.’ We also have American delegations. They came from Germany and Austria, from the Emirates and Iran. And I am appealing to our Muslim brothers. We were, are and will always be together. God bless us all!”
Before moving on to the next exciting topic, Metropolitan Feofan tried to prepare the audience and the president.
“Mr Minnikhanov, now I will say something for which the press may criticize me later. I haven't consulted anyone, only my heart knows. This year we have had the elections to the State Council. In my unenlightened opinion, everything turned out well with the good old Chairperson of the State Council Mukhametshin. And in 2020, they say, it is going to concern the head of the republic. Now, I am appealing to you: if you, sitting in the audience, support me, we will delegate you. In order at the next — it will be in 2 years — meeting of the Orthodox community, we see our leader Rustam Nurgalievich. It will be timely,” the metropolitan said, provoking a storm of applause of the audience.