Monday, September 03, 2012

A Letter to Pussy Riot



Dear Maria, Nadezhda and Ekaterina,

You made an appearance in another Cathedral yesterday – Derby Cathedral in England where I serve as Canon Chancellor.  Our Gospel reading for the day told a story of Jesus confronting those who wanted to keep good order and good religious behaviour at the price of excluding many, especially the poorest and the vulnerable.  In my sermon, I urged the congregation to write you a letter of support, and I think the least I should do is follow my own injunction.

Jesus himself led a protest against the misuse of the Temple in his day.  He turned over the tables of the money changers and prevented people coming in at all.  Like your protest it was symbolic, like your protest it led to his arrest.  It may be cold comfort at this time, but you stand in an exalted line!

The Church in Russia has a wonderful history.  It is said that the Tzar who brought the Orthodox version of Christianity to Russia did so because he found its worship to be like entering heaven.  Certainly it has produced many great theologians and spiritual directors.  My own prayer life owes much to the anonymous Russian who wrote about the Pilgrim’s discovery of the Jesus Prayer.  Russian Christianity has also suffered great oppression, both under the Tzars and under the Soviet Union, in which Christ the Saviour Cathedral was destroyed and thousands of church leaders, clergy and lay Christians were killed and imprisoned.  Some havesuggested that your protest is wrong because of that history, and that your acts are reminiscent of the Soviet oppression.  I think that you are rightly pointing to the Church’s uncritical support of an oppressive state.

As a long standing member of Amnesty International, I am pleased that they are supporting you.  If this letter makes it to you, it will be because of their abilities to send it.  I hope that you will be unconditionally released, and soon.  But even more, I hope that your witness to justice and freedom will be met with reality in your country.

Sending you greetings and prayers from Derby Cathedral,

Yours in hope,

Simon


The Revd Canon Dr Simon Taylor
Canon Chancellor, Derby Cathedral


Send your message of support here.

No comments: