Monday, March 27, 2017

The long road to a new Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople

(Al-Monitor) - When Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan, the spiritual leader of Turkey’s Armenians, fell ill in 2008, few would have thought that the debate on how to elect a new patriarch would drag on for years. Yet, ever since then, heated debates and divisions have haunted the Armenian community.

The debate had initially focused on whether the circumstances allowed for the election of a new patriarch at all. According to customs, a new patriarch is elected only when the incumbent one dies or steps down. Mesrob II was seriously ill and unable to perform his duties, but he was still alive.

In time, the debate evolved into whether the community should elect a new patriarch or a co-patriarch. Competing to have their respective solutions adopted, proponents of the two options applied separately to the Interior Ministry for permission to hold elections. The ministry, however, made a decision that further complicated the matter, concluding that the community could elect neither a new patriarch nor a co-patriarch but a “patriarch deputy-general.” Although such a post was without precedent in the history and traditions of the Armenian community, the Patriarchate complied. In July 2010, Archbishop Aram Atesyan was appointed patriarch deputy-general.

By October 2016, any remaining hope that Mesrob II could recover was gone. Heeding church traditions, the Patriarchate’s Clerical Assembly had him retired on the grounds he had been unable to perform his duties for seven years. Thus, the process for the election of a new patriarch kicked off.

According to tradition, the Armenians first elect a “degabah,” or trustee, to officially launch and manage the election process and run the Patriarchate until the new patriarch assumes office. So an election was held March 15, with two candidates running for the post: Archbishop Atesyan, and Archbishop Karekin Bekciyan, the primate of the Armenian diocese of Germany. Eventually, the latter was elected degabah.

Soon, however, an “urgent” letter from the Istanbul governor’s office arrived to the Patriarchate, disrupting the process and further entangling things. The letter said the Armenian community was “well-aware of the fundamental methods and customs on the election of patriarchs,” stressed that a patriarch deputy-general was already on duty and proclaimed that starting an election process was “legally impossible.”

The role of the Reader

This article, entitled "The Reader in the Orthodox Church," is one of my favorite articles from my subscription to Orthodox Life. Do give it a read if you are a reader, want to be a reader, or are a priest who wants to give some solid instruction.

(Orthodox Life) - There is an unfortunate dearth of guidance available to the lower ranks of clergy in the Orthodox Church — namely, readers and subdeacons. Toward the aim of remedying this problem, we offer here the work of a seminary graduate and ordained reader summarizing the historical basis and canonical responsibilities of the office of Reader. This article first appeared in Russian in Православный Путь for 2005 and was subsequently featured in Orthodox Life Vol. 62.1.

By Reader Vitaly Efimenkov

As a Reader of the Orthodox Church, I have always been interested in how to fulfill my service to the Holy Church better and more correctly. From the moment I was appointed to this degree of the priesthood I have not often found literature dedicated to this aspect of service to the Church. Every time I encountered an article or note about this theme I made a photocopy for myself and kept it. In this way I began to collect a certain amount of information, and the thought was born to write an essay on this theme, which I present here. In this work the following aspects connected with the rank of Reader in the Orthodox Church are presented...
Complete article here.

First Russian language church opened Cyprus

Moscow, March 27 (Interfax) - The Russian Church of St. Andrew and All Saints glorified in Russia was opened on Sunday in the town of Episkopi on Cyprus.

"Liturgies will be celebrated here in the Slavonic language, and sermons will be preached in Russian and Greek. Any Orthodox person can become a parishioner of the church. The Church of St. Andrew and All Russian saints will house the Russian-speaking community of Cyprus and Episkopi," head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk said after the Liturgy in the church.

He points out that it is the first Russian church in the island, though it belongs to jurisdiction of the Cyprus Orthodox Church.

According to the hierarch, "many Russian people with their families have recently moved to this blessed island for permanent residence, its land is blessed by visits of Holy Apostles Paul and Varnava, Evangelist Mark, where St. Lazar was the bishop and where there are many Orthodox shrines and centers of pilgrimage."

ROCOR, Moscow parishes in US planning pastoral conference

(ROC-USA) - On Thursday, March 23, a meeting was held between the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York and the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, His Grace Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk in the residence of the First Hierarch in New York City.

Also attending the meeting was the Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan; Chancellor of the Synod of Bishops, Archpriest Serafim Gan; Archpriest Alexandre Anchoutine, rector of Holy Protection Church in Glen Cove, NY and secretary of the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes, Abbot Nicodemus (Balyasnikov).

Participants in the meeting discussed plans for commemorating the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion. Plans are being developed for a joint pastoral conference to be held between clerics of the Eastern American Diocese and the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA for October 2017.

"Modern Christian Martyrs" screening at Wheaton College



CHICAGO, IL (GOA-Chicago) - We have all heard about refugees in the news. We have all seen the situation in Syria in the news. But have you taken the time to be a witness to the plight of Christians in the Middle East? Have you listened to the story of a refugee?

The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago is proud to have partnered with the Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministries to produce this documentary that will be aired each Sunday in March at noon on the ABC Live Well Network, which is available in the following broadcast areas: Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Fresno, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston and Raleigh.

Kidnapped, tortured, their priest murdered, a Syrian family is forced to flee, finding asylum here in the United States. In this edition of Sanctuary, we meet the Alkhoury family, and take a closer look at growing evidence of widespread persecution of religious minorities, as well as efforts by faith communities here in Chicago, the United States government, and the United Nations to find ways to support and protect some of the worlds most vulnerable people.

More on Restoration of Holy Sepulchre

Greek Independence Day celebrated at White House

As promised: "Council" of Crete & new emerging ecclesiology

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Camouflaged UOC-KP devotees storm church & hold service

March 13, 2017 (Orthodox Rights) – On 11 March representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP), accompanied by a group of volunteers in camouflage, occupied the Assumption Cathedral of the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, where they performed a service despite the protests of the clergy of the UOC, writes Patriots of Ukraine.

Representative of the UOC-KP, priest Dmitry, accompanied by 200 volunteers who participated in the service, came to the Cathedral on the pretext of visiting the National Kiev-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Reserve.

Two priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church attempted to prevent a 15-minute worship of the schismatics, however, as reported, “the activists asked not to interfere with the service.”

The radical group justified their provocation by the fact that the Assumption Cathedral is part of the reserve, which “belongs to the people of Ukraine.”

The "Council" of Crete & the New Emerging Ecclesiology

When the video of this talk is online, I'll post it.

(Orthodox Ethos) - The "Council" of Crete and the New Emerging Ecclesiology: An Orthodox Examination

By Protopresbyter Peter Heers, Professor of Old and New Testament, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, Jordanville, NY

Christ is in Our Midst!

I consider it an honor to stand before you today, to speak to the Shepherds and Pastors of Christ's rational flock, and in particular to the successors of the great work begun in the Russian Diaspora by such holy ones as St. John the Wonderworker and Metropolitans Anthony, Anastasi, Philaret, and Vitaly, Archbishop Averky and Metropolitan Laurus and many others, who are revered fathers not only of the Russian Church Abroad, but indeed of the Church Catholic.

The witness given by the Fathers of the Russian Church Outside of Russia with regard to the Holy Tradition, the monastic and ascetic ideal and in particular the ecclesiology of the Church, continues to inspire and guide Orthodox throughout the world.

Today, as the Ark of the Church sways in the wake of the passing of the self-styled 'Great and Holy Council" of Crete, we have great need of their exactitude in life and faith - or, better, we have great need to follow and imitate them in these.

In the short time allotted me today, I hope to succinctly but clearly lay out before you what of notability and significance happened in Crete in June of last year, that being informed you may act according to God's will. In particular I will briefly examine and critique the following three aspects of the "Council" and its aftermath...
Complete article here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

OCA synod to meet in Syosset

(OCA) - The Spring Session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America will be held at the Chancery here from Tuesday, March 28 through Friday, March 31, 2017.

According to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, the meeting will open with the address of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon. Reports from the OCA’s Officers — Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor; Melanie Ringa, Treasurer; and Father Eric — will be presented, as will updates by Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs; the OCA General Counsel; and representatives of the Church’s boards, departments, commissions and other offices. Especially highlighted will be the work of the OCA Department of Christian Education and the Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid, while an update on the OCA’s communications efforts and web site also will be presented. In addition, the Board of Theological Education will present the list of ordination candidates through the Diaconal Vocations Program.

A key agenda item will be a review of the work of the Preconciliar Commission, charged with organizing the 19th All-American Council [AAC], slated to convene in Saint Louis, MO in July 2018. Among the AAC-related matters to be reviewed will be the Council theme, logo, preliminary agenda and associated events.

Also slated to be presented is a report on the progress of the Holy Synod’s Standing Committee for Canonical Procedure, which is examining the process of spiritual courts and the work of the Spiritual Abuse Working Group, based on the initiative from the 18th AAC. The reestablishment of the Canonization and Bioethics Commissions also will be under consideration.

Initial plans for the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the glorification of Saint Herman of Alaska and the autocephaly of the OCA, both of which will be observed in 2020, and this year’s 100th Anniversary of the election of Saint Tikhon as Patriarch of Moscow, also will be reviewed.

On Wednesday evening, March 29, members of the Holy Synod will meet with graduating OCA students from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA and Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, who will sing the responses at the celebration of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.

The Holy Synod of Bishops is the supreme canonical authority in the Orthodox Church in America. Chaired by the Metropolitan, the Synod includes as voting members all diocesan bishops.

Canopy of the Most Holy Sepulchre restored and reopened

Things begin in earnest at about the 29:45 mark.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Monastery of Vatopaidi land deal defendants found innocent

(Pemptousia) - Today, 21 March 2017, the three-member Court of Appeals in Athens declared all the defendants innocent in the case of the Monastery of Vatopaidi land exchange. This verdict comes at the end of eight difficult years for Abbot Ephraim and the other defendants, including two years of judicial sessions and sixty days in court.

In December, the Public Prosecutor had made a recommendation of acquittal for all the defendants in the case, stating that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing on their part.

The courtroom was filled to capacity with hierarchs, clergy, monastics and lay people, who expressed their approval and relief by a generous round of applause.

Priest changes tactics in dealing with local prostitutes

Moscow, March 20 (Interfax) - Rector of a new Moscow church dedicated to St. Iona, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, priest Alexander Narushev told how he tried to speak the same language with prostitutes.

"Not far from the site where the church was constructed, there was a place where prostitutes gathered. My attempts to hold negotiations with them failed. I asked them not to commit sin, I tried to explain that a church is being constructed here, so that they do not offend God. But they even threatened me in response. Once they asked: "Aren't you afraid not to get back home?" I answered: "I am afraid, I have four children, but I can't keep silence," he said in his interview to the Moscow City Diocese.

According to him, he decided to change tactics and came to these women to congratulate them on Christmas and Easter, brought them Easter cakes and blessed eggs, and "their conscience started saying that something went wrong."

"One of the girls from this contingent came up to me and said: "Father, there lives a boy in our neighborhood, he wants to have a scooter, but they don't have money on it, we collected a certain sum for this dream, please, give it to his mother." But I suggested them to buy a scooter themselves and give it to the boy. And they did it. This mutual kindness became possible in result of building our church," Father Alexander said.

Chaldeans unable to supply priests to diaspora

(CC) - The Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate has announced that it cannot supply priests for all of the Chaldean communities living outside Iraq, and has urged those communities to find their own candidates for the priesthood.

Because of the enormous exodus of Christians from Iraq to Australia, the US, Canada, and other countries, the patriarchate explained, there are not “sufficient Chaldean priests to be sent in all the cities were new Chaldean communities are created.” The patriarchate notes that other Eastern Christian churches based in the Middle East are experiencing the same problem.

Chaldean bishops leading communities in the “diaspora” have been asked, therefore, to look for their own internal solutions to the shortage of priests. The patriarchate specifically suggested the ordination of married men, which is allowed in the tradition of the Eastern Catholic churches.