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RIMINI MEETING/ Filonenko: The martyrs of the 20th century, a "gift" from Russia to the West

ALEKSANDR FILONENKO, professor of philosophy at the University of Kharkov, Ukraine, talks about the witness of the Russian Orthodox Church during the years of the Soviet persecution

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Aleksandr Filonenko, professor of philosophy at the University of Kharkov, Ukraine, spoke this week at the Rimini Meeting. In this interview with ilsussidiario.net, Filonenko talks about some of the content of his speech. The first is about the blood tribute that Soviet totalitarianism took on the people. The second concerns the very meaning of martyrdom: it is not because communism failed miserably that it loses its meaning. "We must let ourselves be touched by these figures of people who have lived a full life in spite of everything. In their footsteps and in their company, we too can live; we must put ourselves on their path, to be their disciples, disciples who may be bad and weak, but who still have someone to follow."

At the Meeting of Rimini this year, there is an exhibition dedicated to the new Russian martyrs: the question arises to what end, today, do we speak of a martyrdom tied to facts, such as the Russian Revolution, which is now a century old and rendered obsolete.

Of course, today Russia has turned the corner, the persecutions have ended as well as the regime that produced them, but remember that there was a war for decades: the war of the state against society and the Church. Now the war is over, but the psychology that was forged remains, and we continue to think in terms of conflict, of enemies, attacks and defenses. In this context, the human person is not involved, the person is simply a component of the system, ensuring its stability. The martyr is instead above all a "thinking I", a protagonist, who reminds us of "personalization" at a time, like the present, of a universal crisis of the human person.

The martyr as a solitary hero?

There are two ways to look at the martyr. If we take the phrase from the Gospel where it is said that the gates of hell "will not prevail," we can understand it in the sense that the gates of hell will never be able to defeat the Church, which will always remain intact and safe. But in this reading, there may be a lot of ambiguity and unwarranted triumphalism. Or you can understand it in the sense that the gates of hell cannot attack the Church, but arises as an eternal limit to redemption, which by its nature is infinite and open to expand everywhere. Still, evil is limited while the good is infinite, and so is the power of faith which casts its light even over the gates of hell and in this way does not allow it to stop it. Not even the gates of hell can do anything against faith.

This is the sense of modern martyrdom?