NEWS: Situation...p.1

The political situation of the Monastery of the Dormition in Bakchisaray

On the 4th of May 2001 the monastery was granted the right to farm indefinitely an area of 46 acres as stipulated by the State Act II KM n°002916.

It should however be noted that before the Revolution of 1917 the land owned was far more extensive.

On the 4th of July 2001 a group of Tartar fundamentalists supported by the present administrative leader of the Bakchisaray district, Ilmi UMEROV, who was at the same time president of the illegal "Medjlice" faction of Bakchisaray decided to take justice into their own hands and take possession of the land which traditionally belonged to the monastery using sticks and stones.

On the 6th of December 2005 the general governor of the monastery and all the monks were invited to the open Administrative Assembly of the Bakchisaray district. On that occasion the representatives of the Tartar minority politely asked for the return of a 12-acre area of land situated in the proximity of Croix Poklonni to the city. They promised a large sum of money in exchange, in order to extend the territory at the expense of the city, to build a road around the property and to allow new building without authorisation from the Executive Committee.

It must be remembered that the Orthodox Church was founded about 2000 years ago on rules settled by the 7 Sacred Oecumenical Councils. For instance, referring to the 12th rule of the 7th council in 787 we may read: "if it can be proved that the bishop or the superior either sold to the public authorities or offered to a third person the goods belonging to a diocese or a monastery, this action would be considered null and void."

The rule of the Holy Apostles also says that the bishop should look after the ecclesiastical goods and answer for their proper administration. He is not their owner and therefore cannot either give up or sell what belongs to God.

If a poor man asks, he may be offered something in consideration of his poverty, but under no circumstances can anyone sell what belongs to the Church. Even if the land is considered to be expensive or useless, it cannot be surrendered to local political leaders but only to clergy or farmers.

If anyone buys back such land belonging to clergy or to farmers, the sale will not be ratified. What has been sold must be given back to the diocese or monastery. The bishop of the diocese or the superior involved in such a business must be evicted as well as any other people dishonestly selling what they do not own.

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