On September 7, 2004, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, sent condolences to His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and All Russia and President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, on behalf of the members of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops and the Church’s clergy and faithful in the wake of the terrorist attack on a school in Beslan, Russia.
The text of Metropolitan Herman’s letter to Patriarch Aleksy reads as follows.
“‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more’ [Jeremiah 31:15].
“It is with profound sorrow that I and my brother hierarchs of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America have followed the tragic events at School Number One in Beslan, North Ossetia. The senseless and perverse slaughter of over four hundred people, half of whom were children, has left not only the Russian people but the entire world deeply shocked and dismayed. All peoples of goodwill now join with the Russian nation in condemning these barbaric acts, and in mourning the loss of so many innocent lives.
“Please know that the American people, recalling their own experience of terror on September 11, 2001, stand especially close to the Russian nation at this time. Terrorism knows no boundary of creed, nationality or ethnicity, and now more than ever the nations of the world must work together in addressing these appalling acts of terror.
“During these days of mourning, as you and the hierarchs and clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church continue to minister to a grieving nation, I ask that you extend to the families of the victims the heartfelt sympathy and support of all the hierarchs, clergy, monastics and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America. They and their community will be in our thoughts and prayers for many weeks to come.
“I also ask you to join me in the prayer that our leaders may be granted the wisdom and insight to address the growing international threat of terrorism in a spirit of prudence and discernment. Today more than ever Christians are called to bear witness in a world broken by death and destruction to our Lord’s message of peace and life. We are called to manifest our deep confidence that the mystery of evil is defeated by the mystery of the cross, the mystery of life. Truly the tools of terror—fear and hatred—are powerless before the love of Christ. ‘Be not afraid,’ says our Lord, ‘I have overcome the world’ [John 16:33].”
Metropolitan Herman’s letter to President Putin reads as follows.
“It is with deep dismay and sorrow that I and the members of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America have followed the tragic events in Beslan, North Ossetia over the past week. The horrific and brutal slaughtering of over four hundred people, half of whom were children, is an unspeakable criminal act perpetrated against not only the Russian people but all of humanity. Please accept on behalf of all the Russian people, but especially the families and community of Beslan, the sincerest condolences and prayers of all the hierarchs, clergy, monastics and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America.
“During this difficult time the American people, still mindful of September 11, 2001, feel a deep and heartfelt sympathy for the Russian nation. Now more than ever the nations of the world are called to set aside political differences in order to address the growing dilemma of international terrorism in a spirit of cooperation and solidarity.
“I pray that in the upcoming days and weeks you may be inspired to respond to these acts of terrors with wisdom, courage and prudence. Our Lord has laid upon us a commandment of peace and life, and I pray that your actions will witness to the power of His victory over fear, death and all the tools of terror and darkness.”
Copies of the letters were sent to His Excellency Yuri V. Ushakov, Ambassador of the Russian Federationto the US.
Donations to assist the suffering in Beslan may be sent to the Orthodox Church in America’s “Beslan Relief Fund,” PO Box 675, Syosset, NY 11791 or may be made on-line on the OCA web site at “Beslan Relief Fund.”