(Pravoslavie.ru) - The Romfea.gr Greek portal, referring to its own reliable sources, writes that the Holy Kinot of Holy Mount Athos has received an extensive message from His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople recently, reports AgionOros.ru.
This document expresses his concern in connection with the attempts to over-build Mt. Athos and "change its look" through the uncontrolled and free influx of monks of non-Greek origin.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople informs that it will no longer grant permission to "non-Greek speaking monks" to reside in Greek-speaking monasteries.
The letter also contains a recommendation, according to which the total number of foreign monks must not exceed 10% of the total number of the brethren on Holy Mount Athos.
In fact, this decision means a ban on foreigners coming to live on Athos, as the number of monks of non-Greek origin at the moment exceeds 10% of the total number of monks.
Athonite monks stress that this message is raising many questions, particularly in a period "when the Phanar has announcing a struggle against philetism in the Church".
"This statement (if the information regarding the message of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is confirmed) casts doubt on the universal nature of Holy Mount Athos, where for over 1000 years, Greeks, Serbs, Russians, Romanians, Bulgarians, and monks from all over the world have coexisted together harmoniously. The Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, during his recent visit, was astonished when he saw a Chinese monk in one of the Athonite monasteries."
Sources of Romfea.gr inform that the Holy Kinot of Holy Mount Athos intends to consider the Patriarch’s message after the first week of the Lenten fast.
Friday, March 7, 2014
Even if you don't speak Russian, the below video will give you a sense of the "feel" of the event.
(mospat.ru) - On March 6, 2014, Primates and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches met for their first day at the Cathedral of St. George at Fanar, the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Istanbul.
His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople led the participants in prayer before the meeting. Then he opened the meeting outlining the main topics for discussion, including persecution of Christians in various parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, the ousting of the Church to the periphery of public life in countries which once were Christian, consequences of the globalization and technological progress, the economic crisis, consolidation of internal unity of Orthodoxy as well as preparations and conduct of a Pan-Orthodox Council.
Patriarch Bartholomew described any notion allowing of “the universal dominion of any Local Church or her Primate as alien to Orthodox ecclesiology”. He stressed that “we all are entrusted with responsibility for the unity of our Holy Church”.
Then each Primate of a Local Church made his remarks, which were followed by a lively discussion.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, in his remarks, presented in particular the vision of the Russian Orthodox Church concerning the preparation of a Pan-Orthodox Council expressed by the Bishops’ Council in February 2013 in Moscow. Its participants expressed a common conviction that all the decisions of the Pan-Orthodox Council should be made by consensus of all Local Churches, not by a majority of votes, that the Council’s procedure and agenda, the principles of its formation, the protocol of its divine services and sessions and its draft documents should be preliminarily negotiated with all the Local Orthodox Churches. “The hierarchs of the Russian Church believe that the preparation of a Pan-Orthodox Council should provide for a broad discussion of resolutions in preparation and should be distinguished by special concern for the preservation of the purity of Orthodox doctrine. The members of the Bishops’ Council believe it necessary to ensure that the presidium of the Pan-Orthodox Council should include the Primates of all the Local Orthodox Churches and that the episcopate of the Local Churches should be represented at the Council as fully as possible”, the resolutions of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church state.
Explaining the essence of this position, Patriarch Kirill reminded the meeting that it is the principle of consensus that has successfully guided the pre-Council process so far, which began with the conference in 1961 in Rhodes and which laid this principle in the basis of decision-making on the initiative of the Patriarch of Constantinople. It is on this basis that the list of the Pan-Orthodox Council agenda items was agreed together with the procedure of Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conferences and draft decisions on eight out of the ten themes to be considered by the Council. “The principle of consensus has proved to be the best and it would be counterproductive and extremely dangerous to reject it in preparing the Council”, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church said.
(UticaOD) - The Very Rev. Stephen Enea admits he made a “stupid mistake” trying to fix up the Italo-Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan church in Utica without having the money to pay the contractors.
But as he faced two to six years in prison Thursday, Enea refused to stand silent in Oneida County Court while prosecutors and the judge suggested he was an “illegitimate” priest with a pattern of cheating people out of their money.
“I disagree with everything that’s been said in this court today,” Enea said. “It makes everything I’ve done over the past 16 years meaningless. This was one instance of a stupid mistake … I’ve suffered and I’ve sacrificed and I’ve gotten nothing from it.”
When Enea pleaded guilty last November to third-degree grand larceny for failing to pay the contractors who did more than $212,000 in restoration to the church, he agreed to have at least $100,000 in restitution by the time he was due to be sentenced.
But after coming up with only $14,000 when he appeared in Oneida County Court, Judge Michael L. Dwyer said there was less than “a 1 percent chance” Enea would ever be able raise the total amount owed. In the meantime, one of the contractors has lost his business and would likely lose his home, Dwyer said.
“I’m not going to fall into the same trap that the victims fell into,” Dwyer said, referring to the contractors who had accepted Enea’s empty promises to pay them. “They’re never going to get their money … but you stole their money, and you are going to be punished.”
Enea explained that the travel restrictions imposed by his arrest prevented him from leaving the area to visit other congregations and ask them for financial help.
As Enea’s public defender, Cory Zennamo, attempted to rein in Enea’s verbal attack on the judge, the priest shouted back: “No, I’m not going to calm down.”
“Your ‘1 percent’ is (expletive),” Enea shouted to Dwyer, referring to the judge’s doubt that Enea could raise the money simply by selling fried dough. “It can be done.”
“That’s very religious of you,” Dwyer replied to Enea’s vulgarity.
A pre-sentence probation report had initially recommended that Enea receive only probation and a few months in jail. David Tomidy, the director of Oneida County’s Probation Department, however, then offered his own opinion that Enea should face stiff incarceration for the financial harm he caused.
Dwyer said he took no pleasure in sending Enea to prison, and he would rather have seen the contractors get their money back. After Enea was taken into custody, Enea’s mother stood up in court and asked to speak.
“I’m his mom, and you’re wrong, judge,” Gloria Enea said tearfully. “He would have paid it back. Sometimes judges are wrong.”
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Constantinople (AsiaNews) - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I expressed a resounding no to the reopening of Constantinople's Hagia Sophia as a mosque. In fact he said that if it "must be returned to religious worship, that can only be for Christian worship."
Bartholomew's statement came on the eve of synaxis, the meeting of all the heads of Orthodox Churches, gathered at the initiative of the Phanar, and can be considered as a response to persistent rumours circulating in sectors in Turkish society close to the ruling AKP party.
The remarks were made during the homily the ecumenical patriarch addressed to a large group of students and visiting scholars at the Phanar. Such visits are part of a series of educational trips frequently organised by foreign and Turkish groups.
"With these trips and visits, you are given the opportunity to come into contact with the entire Christian tradition that has developed in these lands," Bartholomew said, which are "based on the Greek language and culture, and emphasise the importance of Christian ideas and life. This is why you should always enrich and deepen your research and knowledge. "
"Hagia Sophia, a place of reference for everyone, is evidence of the historic and lasting presence of Christian ideas in these lands," he added.
"Certainly, you have not missed persistent rumours circulating lately within certain sectors of Turkish society to reopen Hagia Sophia as a mosque," the ecumenical patriarch noted.
"We shall oppose it, and all Christians, be they Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant, shall be with us," Bartholomew said.
"Hagia Sophia," he concluded, "was built to bear witness to the Christian faith and if it must be returned to religious worship, that can only be for Christian worship."
It is hard to express how comprehensive and important this address is. Questions people have been posing for decades are discussed here. You will also see two major points that will not be discussing in the upcoming council. It is well worth reading in its entirety.
(Ecumenical Patriarchate) - Your Beatitudes and most venerable Brothers in Christ, First-Hierarchs of the Most Holy Orthodox Churches, and honorable members of your entourages,
Welcome to the courtyard of our Church, the martyric and historical Ecumenical Patriarchate, this humble servant of unity in Christ for us all. From the depths of our heart, we thank you for the labor of love, which has brought you here in eager response to our invitation.
We offer glory and praise to our God who is worshipped in the Trinity for rendering us worthy to convene once again in the same place for another Synaxis, as those entrusted by His grace and mercy with the responsibility of leadership for the local autocephalous Orthodox Churches. This is the sixth such consecutive Synaxis since this blessed custom commenced in 1992, shortly after our elevation to the Throne of Constantinople. Like the Psalmist, we too proclaim: “Behold what a good and wonderful thing it is for brothers to dwell in the same place.” Our heart is filled with joy and delight in receiving you and embracing each one of you with sincere love, profound honor and favorable anticipation of our encounter.
Indeed, we could say that our encounter is a great event, both blessed and historical. The breath of the Paraclete has gathered us, and the eyes of those both inside and outside of our Church are anxiously focused on this Synaxis, in anticipation of an edifying and comforting word, which our world so needs today.
This increases and intensifies our responsibility, rendering our obligation more serious, so that through fervent prayer we might seek assistance from above in the work that lies before us; for without this divine support we can do nothing. (Cf. John 15.5) This is why we humbly beseech the Lord, as the Founder of the Church, to bless our work abundantly and through the Paraclete to direct our hearts, minds and decisions for the fulfillment of His holy will, the strengthening and sealing of our unity, as well as the glory of the Holy and Triune God.
As we recall the previous Synaxis meetings of the First-Hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches, all of which with the grace of God were crowned with complete success, we bring to mind in gratitude those who participated in these assemblies, having already departed and being of blessed memory, the late Patriarchs Parthenios and Petros of Alexandria, Ignatius of Antioch, Diodoros of Jerusalem, Alexy of Moscow, Pavel of Serbia, Teoktist of Romania, Maxim of Bulgaria, as well as Archbishops Chrysostomos of Cyprus, Seraphim and Christodoulos of Athens, Vasili of Poland, and Dorotheos of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, whose contribution to the success of these meetings was exceptionally edifying, also bequeathing to us as their successors an example to imitate and a legacy to preserve. May their memory be eternal!
The reasons that led us to assume the initiative for convening this Synaxis are already well known to you from the Letter of invitation, which we addressed to you. Echoing the words of the Apostle, we wrote to you: “There is fighting without and fear within.” (2 Cor. 7.6) Inasmuch as it exists in the world, our Holy Church always endures the turmoil of historical upheaval, which is sometimes very fierce. In the critical times that we are undergoing, this upheaval is especially palpable in the geographical regions, where the Christian Church emerged, matured and flourished, namely in the ancient senior Patriarchates of the Most Holy Orthodox Church. There, frequently in the name of religion, violence dominates and threatens all believers in Christ irrespective of confessional identity. We follow with great sorrow and concern the persecutions of Christians, the destruction and sacrilege of sacred churches, the abduction and assassination of clergy and monastics, even of hierarchs, such as the long kidnapped Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul of the ancient Patriarchate of Antioch and Yuhanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Jacobite Church, whose whereabouts have since been unknown.
Before this phenomenon, which threatens the very existence of the Orthodox Churches, we are called to raise a voice of protest, not as isolated individuals or Churches, but as the one, united Orthodox Church throughout the world.
(OMHKSEA) - At the invitation of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the First-Hierarchs of all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches will gather from March 6-9, 2014, for a Sacred Synaxis at the Phanar in order to deliberate on matters pertaining to the entire Orthodox Church throughout the world and procedural issues for the convocation of the Holy and Great Council, whose preparation is coming to an end.
Prior to this, from March 4-5, 2014, a Preparatory Committee for the Synaxis was also held at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, chaired by His Eminence Metropolitan John of Pergamon, in order to formulate the program of proceedings and draft the Message of the First-Hierarchs, who will conclude the Synaxis with a concelebration on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in the venerable Patriarchal Church of St. George, thereby also visibly expressing the unity of Orthodoxy.
During this festive Divine Liturgy on the occasion of great feast of Orthodoxy, the Message of the First-Hierarchs will be read from the Patriarchal Ambon to the faithful of the Most Holy Churches throughout the world.
(mospat.ru) - On 5 March 2014, the commission for the preparation of the forthcoming meeting of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches, chaired by Metropolitan John of Pergamon, continued its work at the Throne Hall of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Taking part in the commission was the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church, which included Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations; archpriest Nikolai Balashov, DECR vice-chairman; and deacon Anatoly Churiakov, a DECR staff member.
The members of the commission shared their opinions on a wide range of issues, including the preparation for the Pan-Orthodox Council.
Metropolitan Hilarion noted, in particular, the importance of the preparatory work, during which certain differences in the views of the Local Orthodox Churches should be taken into consideration. “The unity of the Holy Orthodox Church, which we have preserved over two thousand years, without any administrative instruments of unity, is such a precious heritage that first and foremost, we need to keep and strengthen it,” Metropolitan Hilarion said. Following the decisions of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church made in 2013, the DECR chairman emphasized that the Pan-Orthodox Council should take decisions by consensus. “We should think not only about the success of the Council,” Metropolitan Hilarion added, “but also about the acceptance of its results by the Local Orthodox Churches.”
The preparatory commission resolved that the meeting of the Primates will be a consultative meeting. Each Primate will submit its results to the members of the Holy Synod of his respective Church for consideration.
(mospat.ru) - On 5 March 2014, upon his arrival to Istanbul, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia headed for the Patriarchate of Constantinople where he met with His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew.
His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople warmly greeted the Primate of the Russian Church and his suite and expressed his joy over the participation of Patriarch Kirill in the meeting (synaxis) of the Primates and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches.
“I thank Your Holiness for inviting me to take part in the meeting,” Patriarch Kirill said. “You know that during the first week of Lent we have strict discipline and every morning and evening I celebrate divine services at various Moscow parishes. However, having received your letter, I decided to come here.”
Patriarch Bartholomew said he understands what regret the Moscow flock feels due to the departure of the Bishop of Moscow, noting, at the same time, that the forthcoming meeting of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches will contribute to the unity of the Church.
During the fraternal meeting, the Patriarchs discussed various issues.
According to the Orthodox Lenten tradition, Patriarch Bartholomew and Patriarch Kirill asked each other for forgiveness and for prayers.
Taking part in the meeting were also Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations; Bishop Sergiy of Solnechnogorsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Administrative Secretariat; and other members of the delegation accompanying His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on his visit. Representing the Patriarchate of Constantinople were Metropolitan John of Pergamon, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, and Archimandrite Bartholomew (Samaras), Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
(Jerusalem Patriarchate) - On the afternoon of Wednesday of Lent, namely the 20th of February/5th of March 2014, His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, accompanied by the Elder Secretary-General, His Eminence Aristarchos, Archbishop of Constantina, and the Very Reverend Archdeacon f. Evlogios, boarded a Turkish Airlines plane from Ben Gurion airport for Constantinople. There, he will participate alongside the Patriarchal Commissioner in Constantinople, His Eminence Nektarios of Anthedon, in the Gathering of the Heads of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, upon the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
The Patriarchate’s website shall in due time keep its readers up-to-date with the proceedings of this Pan-Orthodox Gathering.
(Levant Report) - Two-and-a-half years ago Fr. Joseph Huneycutt traveled to Syria as part of an official delegation of Christian pastors and leaders to investigate the emerging political crisis and to assess the situation of Syria’s Christians. The September 2011 trip was sponsored by the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, and a report of the delegation’s findings was issued here. Now in its third year, the Syria conflict has taken countless lives and has left much of the country destroyed. Reports seem to come in weekly detailing the struggles of Syria’s ancient Christian community. Reports of kidnapping, murder, rape, torture, and destruction of churches at the hands of rebel insurgents are now a common theme of the Syria crisis. Last December, Fr. Joseph’s parish, St. Joseph Orthodox church in Houston, hosted the “Hope, Humanity, Healing” benefit concert to spread awareness of the plight of Syria’s Christians and to raise funds for the relief of all suffering innocents of the conflict. Fr. Joseph agreed to speak with Levant Report this week:Complete article here.
Levant Report: Thank you for agreeing to talk to us about the Christian situation in Syria. Last December, your parish, St. Joseph Orthodox church, hosted a benefit concert for the Syrian humanitarian crisis. What prompted you to put together such an event and how did the community respond?
Fr. Joseph: The event came together thanks to the dream of St Joseph parishioner Lama Nashawati DeVries, a classically trained professional pianist, along with her brother Deacon George (Bassam) Nashawati, a violinist for the San Antonio Symphony. They teamed up with other Houston area performers, both within and without the parish: Christine Yacoub, Len Verrett, Mariam Haddad, Osama Raad, Tracey Parker, Dr Bill Attra and the St Romanos Chorale, and pulled together a special night of entertainment: “Hope, Humanity, Healing – A Musical Offering to Syria.” It was standing room only in the parish hall; around 250 people came out to enjoy the show and support the cause. The event raised $18,000 of which the Diocese of Bosra-Hauran, Jabal al-Arab, and the Golan in southern Syria, and the St Gregory Orthodox Society for the Elderly and Orphans in Damascus were the beneficiaries. Thanks God, it was a very special evening in support of our brothers and sisters in Syria...
Moscow, March 5 (Interfax) – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will head to Istanbul on Wednesday, where a meeting of the heads of the Orthodox Churches is opening.
"Despite all wishes for a change of the date of the meeting, which have more than once been stated by the Russian Church, the heads and representatives of local Orthodox Churches will meet in the first week of Lent and is expected to end on Sunday, March 9," Deacon Alexander Volkov, the head of the patriarch's press service, told Interfax-Religion on Wednesday.
Patriarch Kirill said he regrets that he cannot "pray with his flock in the coming days of the first week of Lent."
Deacon Volkov also said that Patriarch Kirill will pray for the strengthening of all Russian Christians who have started Lent during his stay in the Constantinople Patriarchate, on the land sanctified by the deeds of ancient ascetic champions.
"The Russian patriarch is also asking everyone to pray that the upcoming meeting serve the unity of the Orthodox Churches and strengthen mutual understanding and brotherly cooperation," Father Alexander said.
The Synodal Department for External Church Relations, for its part, told Interfax-Religion that the meeting will address issues relating to the preparations for the upcoming All-Orthodox Council and the situation of Christians in the Middle East.
The All-Orthodox Council has not convened for more than 1,000 years. Preparations for it have been made for more than fifty years. The agenda and regulations of the Council have not been approved yet.
Monday, March 3, 2014
To my mind Forgiveness Vespers is a service wherein the people seek mutual forgiveness as a community that lives a life of prayer and worship together. I'm not sure - beyond extending "forgiveness" to be something like a trite and contrived "forgiveness for our disunity" - how this special and quite personal experience would be fostered by complete strangers looking through stapled photocopies of the service trying to figure out what's going on.
(Orthodoxy & Heterodoxy) - When the blog Red River Orthodox announced a change in format in order to attempt a “liberal engagement with the ‘West,’” many of us were both intrigued with the hopeful possibilities of such an endeavor but troubled at what might actually occur. Now that a number of posts have been published, I would like to take this opportunity to reexamine the notion “liberal engagement” for fear that an authentic “liberal engagement” has not in fact occurred.Complete post here.
In a recent post, Orthodox priest Fr. Oliver Herbel asks why Orthodox Christians would not participate in a suggested joint Orthodox-Catholic service of Forgiveness Vespers. His reply is a vitriolic assertion that Orthodox bishops and priests simply don’t have “the guts” to do so. In referencing Eastern Catholic scholar Adam DeVille’s original suggestion of the idea, we find that he intends it as an effort to “heal the divisions of the dead, and moreover, the memory of those divisions among the living.”
So I ask the question: Is this a true, liberal engagement with “the other”? May Catholics and Orthodox engage each other authentically with such a service? In order to extrapolate this question, we must delve further into the concept of “liberal engagement.”
What does a “liberal engagement” actually look like? I propose we tackle the issue by expressing it in simpler terms, terms that I encountered and embraced while an undergraduate student at a Southern Baptist liberal arts university – the integration of faith and learning...
(OMF) - Dear friends of the Mission, rejoice in the Lord!Complete article here.
First of all, I would like to thank you for your continuous support to the work which our Holy Metropolis has undertaken to accomplish in far off Madagascar by the Grace of God and the blessings of our Revered Head, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria Theodore II.
The struggle still goes on, despite the difficulties we have to confront, economic as well as in human resources. However, how could we possibly stop such a God-pleasing work, when the Grace of the Most Holy Spirit is ahead of us and paves our way for the Evangelization of immortal souls? When the people who live isolated in far off villages do not mind the efforts and the discomfort and walk for hours in order to reach us and ask from us to go and catechize them so that they find true God and join the body of the Church?
Once, we went to a village 1,300 km away from our missionary centre for christenings. It was a long journey and special preparation for everything necessary was needed, because in such multi-day trips no mistake or omission is allowed. On the way, we stopped at a very distant village to have a lunch in one of the small shops along the road. Our presence and appearance aroused the local people’s interest. Before long a large number of them had gathered around us; then, they were given the explanations they were looking for and their catechesis began. After giving them plenty of books on our Church, we left with the promise to visit this village again. We did visit it again and eventually we created a good parish there...
(The National) - The UAE’s biggest Indian Orthodox church, with a capacity of 1,500, was consecrated this weekend in two days of ceremonies that drew 6,000 worshippers from across the country. The Al Ain St Dionysius Orthodox Church has been a long time in the making and will now serve as the country’s primary location for Christians of all denominations to come and worship during big festivals such as Christmas and Easter.
It is the sixth Indian Orthodox church to be built in the country. The others are in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah and RAK.
The parish priest, Father Saji Abraham, said: “All the people from around the emirates can come together here. We expect more than 500 families from the local area to become members but many of our other sister congregations don’t have the facilities like this so this will enable everyone to worship together.”
He said those from the likes of the Syrian and Egyptian Orthodox churches will share major festivities but even those churches the Indian Orthodox has in other emirates are overcrowded.
“We don’t have the space we need, it’s very limited,” he said. “They are struggling to accommodate the communities so our aim is that for any kind of general functions relating to all the churches, this is a place for everyone to come together. We have almost 2.5 acres of land so there is plenty of parking as well.”
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth, and Social Development, was at Thursday evening’s initial inauguration before the main event on Friday. Other dignitaries included the Indian ambassador and Dr George Mathew, a member of the congregation but also medical advisor at the Diwan of Al Ain, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed’s office
The church was allocated the plot in 2010 by Sheikh Khalifa and approvals for the project were granted in 2012.
The Dh13 million project was funded by donations from members and local and international benefactors. Sister churches in other emirates have also been major contributors.
The church held its first service in Al Ain in 1969 as a branch of St George Orthodox cathedral in Abu Dhabi. Officially established in 1974 but not declared a parish until 2002, the church has grown to about 700 members.
In 2003, the church was the first to be named for Vattasseril Geevarghese Mar Dionysius, on the same day he was canonised a saint.
Worshippers had previously gathered at the parsonage for evening prayers and services and special events were held at other churches in the city, including St Mary’s Catholic church.