Sunday, November 29, 2015

Coptic Pope to visit Jerusalem

(Pravmir) - According to church spokesman Paul Halim, “Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria will attend the funeral and pray for the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Near East, His Eminence Dr Anba Abraham, who died on Wednesday.”

The high profile visit is being made despite the church’s firm position not to visit Jerusalem without a solution to the Palestinian cause. This, explained Halim, is because the late archbishop of Jerusalem was second in importance after Pope Tawadros in the Holy Synod of Bishops, the supreme canonical authority of the Coptic Church. The Holy Synod banned visits to Jerusalem on 26 March, 1980 following the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met Pope Tawadros II earlier this month at the papal residence in the Cathedral of Saint Mark in Cairo’s Abbassiya district. The Coptic pope was reported to have told Abbas that the Palestinian cause is “the top” Arab priority. “Dialogue is the best way to reach a solution for the Palestinian cause,” he added.

The Palestinian leader invited the pope to visit Jerusalem, which he said would be “a big step in support of the Palestinian people, as such visits are always for the prisoners [the Palestinians], not for the wardens [the Israelis].”

Athos – pro-life! The legacy of Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

Belarus (OCP) - Belarusian journalists finished the work on a new pro-life movie called “Athos – pro-life! The legacy of Saint Paisios of Mount Athos”. The first copy of a movie created by Artem Mahakeev and Matvey Rodov was given as a present to a First Lady of Serbia during her visiting of a cathedral church in Minsk.

The film dedicated to a pro-life movement in Orthodox Christian countries has been filmed this year on the Holy Mount of Athos. It was created with the participation of the abbots of the numerous monasteries on Athos. One of such abbots was archimandrite Mefodiy (Markovich), the abbot of the Serbian monastery Hilandar on the Holy Mount.

Mrs. Dragica Nikolic, the First Lady of Serbia, expressed an interest in the topic of the movie as the idea of pro-life is important for all the Slavic peoples, both on the Balkans and in the Eastern Europe. Also Mrs. Nikolic told the journalists about her church activities – she is engaged in creating church mosaics in Serbia.

The movie “Athos – pro-life! The legacy of Saint Paisios of Mount Athos” will soon be shown on the Orthodox Christian channel “Souyz”. The on-line version of the movie will also be available on Youtube.

"Speaking to Secular America" conference videos

The videos can be found here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Readings & Inspiration from the Diocese of Charleston
( - Thanks to His Grace Bishop Thomas and the clergy of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic, a new collection of inspirational readings is now available here. The series "Spiritual Notes from the Diocese of Charleston" (formerly "Notes from Bishop Thomas"), complied by Fr. Daniel Meyer, offers teachings selected from Sayedna Thomas' treasured collection of essays, articles, homilies and more, including many rare pieces from earlier decades of The Word. "Diocese of Charleston Bible Study" is a study of scripture from Fr. Stephen DeYoung and includes weekly scripture texts, reflections on the readings and questions for further contemplation. In "Spiritual Nuggets from the Diocese of Charleston," Fr. Noah Bushelli provides brief reflections and quotations from Church fathers as a source of concise spiritual edification.

All three series are updated weekly, and Spiritual Notes and Bible Study pieces are also available in PDF format for easy download and printing. May God reward the efforts of Bishop Thomas and his dedicated priests in providing spiritual nourishment to the faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese and all those who seek to hear the Word of God!

Traditional Orthodoxy in Latin America

From a blog by Anastasios Hudson.

Knowledge of the Orthodox Christian faith is growing in Latin America; there is an increasing number of clergy, parishes, and monastic institutions, and more and more materials are being published in Spanish and Portuguese, as well. This is a cause for rejoicing, as more and more people are able to find the original Christian Church, especially in an age where modernism and relativism obscure the Truth and hinder man’s salvation.

However, as Latin American people become more and more familiar with Orthodox Christianity, there is likewise a growing confusion regarding what exactly constitutes authentic and legitimate Orthodox Christianity. On the one hand, there are numerous so-called “official” jurisdictions which teach and practice things at variance with authentic Orthodox Christianity, but excuse these abuses based on their supposed canonical legitimacy and authority; on the other hand, there are numerous charlatans who take advantage of the ignorance of the common people, and set themselves up illegitimately as Orthodox clergy, without, however, having any legitimate training or the blessing of an established Orthodox Synod.

Formerly, such deception was common among Roman Catholics and Anglicans, where “independent” clergy would pose as Roman Catholic or Anglican bishops or priests, but as the Internet has helped weed out such imposters, they have taken their game to the Orthodox “scene,” where the lack of information available and the perceived exoticness of Orthodoxy has allowed them to have moderate success. In more recent times, they have even taken advantage of the schism between traditional Orthodox Christians (Genuine Orthodox Christians [GOC] or Old Calendarists) and the New Calendarist, Ecumenist heretics, in order to present themselves as traditional Orthodox Christian clergy who are separate from the “official” and “canonical” New Calendarist/Ecumenist Churches due to reasons of faith, rather than due to canonical infractions, scandals, lack of qualifications, or self-will. They are “Genuine Orthodox” in name only, but are able to manipulate the faithful with their sophistry...

Complete post here.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Ancient Christian papyrus put on eBay

(Greek Reporter) - Geoffrey Smith, a scholar of early Christianity studies at the University of Texas found a strange Ebay entry last January. An ancient Greek papyrus with quotes from the Gospel of John was being sold at a starting price of 99 dollars.

“I thought, this can’t be allowed to sell on eBay,” Dr. Smith said to the New York Times. “It will just disappear into a private collection

The scholar decided to contact the seller, asking him to put an end to the online auction and allow him to examine the ancient Greek papyrus. In the end his wish was fulfilled and he had the chance to take a look at the ancient document which dated back to around 250-350 AD.

His research show that on one side the papyrus contained part of the New Testament, specifically six lines from the Gospel of John. On the other side he found part of an unknown Christian text.

According to the New York Times the the discovery of the ancient Greek papyrus brings up another issue that has to do with the use of internet. “The fact that this one came to light on the internet speaks to the reality for all of us who deal with manuscripts and antiquities,” Dr. Smith said to NYT. “We’re all trying to come to terms with these things we study, our prized scholarly possessions, are now coming up for sale online.

Motorcycles for the Church of Kenya

(OCMC) - To the Reverend Clergy, Parish Council members, and Faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest,

On November 15, 2015, we begin the Nativity Fast — that season during which we especially focus our attention on prayer, fasting and almsgiving in preparation for our celebration of the Incarnation of Our Lord, Jesus Christ!

By taking on our human nature, the Living Word of God shares, in His very person, the “Good News” of salvation. He comes to proclaim the Gospel to all who would receive it, especially the poor, as we read in the written words of Scripture. And He calls upon us to likewise share this Good News in every way possible, “to the ends of the earth.”

Within the Orthodox Archdiocese of Kenya, under the omophorion of His Eminence, Archbishop Makarios, over 250 priests labor to proclaim the Gospel in a growing number of communities, many of which are remote and not easily accessible. Transportation is a major obstacle in pursuing their ministry. In order to assist these dedicated servants of the Living Word, the Orthodox Christian Mission Center has undertaking the cause of raising funds to purchase motorcycles, to be used by the Kenyan clergy, which will greatly assist them in visiting the People of God. This quest, it seems, would provide an ideal way for the faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest to not only give alms during the Nativity Fast, but to ensure that those who otherwise might not hear the joyous message of the Incarnation and to receive the Holy Mysteries might do so, especially during this most holy season and beyond.

With this in mind, I would like to ask our diocesan parishes and missions to raise alms during the Nativity Fast to purchase at least 10 motorcycles for the Archdiocese of Kenya. One motorcycle costs a mere $1,000.00. Perhaps one parish can donate the entire amount to purchase a motorcycle, two parishes donate $500.00 to purchase one, or four parishes can donate $250.00 each to purchase another. Of course, any gifts of any amount would be greatly appreciated. What a wonderful way for parishes of our diocese to work together to raise these funds.

Whether it be through an outright donation, a special collection, or a fundraiser – bake sale, luncheon, or related event — every parish is asked to “do something” in our collective almsgiving effort. Families and individuals also may send donations as well, which will be gratefully received. Regardless of the “method,” we do, as a diocesan family, have the “means” to assist in this endeavor to bring the Light of Christ to those who otherwise might not encounter it.

Additional information may be found on our diocesan website at There you will find a flyer that may be downloaded, printed and distributed locally, beginning November 15, highlighting our effort.

Please send all donations, which will be sent to Kenya in partnership with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, to the Diocese of the Midwest Kenya Fund, 927 North LaSalle, Chicago, Illinois 60610 by January 1, 2016. Checks should be made payable to the Diocese of the Midwest, with “Motorbikes for Kenya” noted in the memo line. Once all donations have been received, we will forward our collective alms to OCMC with our prayers for the ongoing ministry of the Kenyan clergy and the faithful they serve.

Thanking you in advance for your positive and generous response to this effort, I remain.

With love in Our Lord,

Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest

New project highlights "lesser known saints"

(OCA) - The Department of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministry of the Orthodox Church in America has launched a new digital project titled “Saints You Missed in Sunday School”. This project will highlight the lives of some of the lesser known saints found on the OCA’s daily “Lives of the Saints.”

“The lives of our saints are an incredible resource for all of us, demonstrating the continuous preaching of the Gospel throughout history and encouraging us towards missionary work, deeper prayer, and acts of mercy by their example,” said Andrew Boyd, OCA Youth Director. “With the launching of ‘Saints You Missed in Sunday School,’ we hope to present these saints in a way that’s easier to share on social media and through other digital means, making them more accessible to youth and young adults.”

Priest Gregoire Legoute has reposed in the Lord
(ROCOR) - On Tuesday, November 17, 2015, Priest Gregoire Legoute of the Mission in Haiti of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, reposed in the Lord at the age of 53.

Fr. Gregoire was born in Les Cayes, Haiti in 1962. He converted to Holy Orthodoxy and, in 1996, was tonsured a reader and ordained subdeacon and deacon by Bishop Hilarion of Manhattan. In 2002, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe, and served the Haitian Mission with distinction for 13 years, spiritually nourishing the seven parishes of the Mission alongside his brother-priest, Fr. Jean Chenier-Dumais.

He is survived by his Matushka Rose, and their two daughters, Anastasia and Chrissy.
Memory eternal to the newly reposed Priest Gregoire!

Met. Tikhon heading to Malankara

(Malankara-NAD) - His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will be the chief guest of honor at the bicentenary valedictory celebrations of the Orthodox Theological Seminary in Kottayam, Kerala, India, along with in the inauguration of the 200th Memorial of Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysius (Pulikkottil I).

The ceremony will be held on November 26th at the SMRITHI Auditorium of the Seminary. Along with His Beatitude, the esteemed presence of His Excellency P. Sathasivam, Governor of Kerala will grace the occasion.

Our Diocesan Metropolitan, His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Very Rev. Steven A. Voytovich, Dean of St. Tikhon's Seminary and Very Rev. Fr. Dr. John Behr, Dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary, will accompany His Beatitude on this fraternal visit to Malankara.

The Orthodox Church in America, a church belonging to the family of Eastern Orthodox Churches, has a long relationship with the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in North America. Their prestigious theological institutions, namely - St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Canaan, Pennsylvania), and St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, (Scarsdale, New York), have helped pastorally and theologically form many of our Metropolitans, Priests, Deacons and lay leaders.

In order to ensure such institutions offers the best program of formation for students from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Metropolitan of the Northeast American Diocese serves as the member of the Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Board of Trustees, as an Episcopal appointed member. His Grace's appointment to serve on this board, helps to ensure students from the Malankara Church receive important elements of pastoral formation which is crucial for future pastors of the Indian Church.

Both St. Tikhon's, and St. Vladimir's Seminaries have chapels for the students of the Malankara Church, to ensure they are able to pray the liturgical offices of the Church. Furthermore, both institutions have appointed faculty to teach the students Of the Malankara Church - namely Rev. Fr. M. K. Kuriakose at St. Tikhon's Seminary, and Rev. Fr. Dr. Varghese M. Daniel at St. Vladimir's Seminary.

His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, a convert to Holy Orthodoxy, was awarded the Master of Divinity degree from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary in 1993, after which he was appointed Instructor in Old Testament and subsequently Senior Lecturer in Old Testament, teaching Master level courses in the Prophets and the Psalms and Wisdom Literature. He also served as an Instructor in the seminary’s Extension Studies program, offering courses in the lives of the Old Testament saints, the liturgical use of the Old Testament, and the Old Testament in patristic literature.

He collaborated with Igumen Alexander [Golitzin]—now Bishop of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America—in the publication of “The Living Witness of the Holy Mountain” by Saint Tikhon’s Seminary Press.

In 1995, he was tonsured to the Lesser Schema with the name Tikhon, in honor of Saint Patriarch Tikhon, Enlightener of North America. Later that year, he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate and Holy Priesthood at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery. In 1998, he was elevated to the rank of Igumen, and in 2000, to the rank of Archimandrite.

In December 2002, he was named Deputy Abbot of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery. After his election to the episcopacy by the Holy Synod of Bishops in October 2003, he was consecrated on February 14, 2004 at Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery Church as the first Bishop of South Canaan, auxiliary for the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania. Following his nomination as ruling hierarch by a diocesan assembly and subsequent canonical election by the Holy Synod on May 27, 2005, he was installed as Bishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania on October 29, 2005. From 2005 to 2012, he also served as Rector of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary. He was elevated to the dignity of Archbishop on May 9, 2012.

On November 13, 2012, Archbishop Tikhon was elected Primate of the Orthodox Church in America at the 17th All-American Council.

On September 14, 2015, Metropolitan Tikhon was honored by St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary with the bestowal of a Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Important new Bible resources developing

NEW YORK (GOARCH) - The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is pleased to announce the launch of two new websites, and, as part of the new .BIBLE top-level domain (TLD) initiative. The .BIBLE TLD joined .com and .org this past year as a new option for web site addresses on the Internet. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s Department of Internet Ministries is one of only a select number of key ministry partners of American Bible Society participating in this initiative in 2015. American Bible Society is administering the new .Bible TLD), with the aim to open up a new platform for engagement with the Scriptures. Domain names ending with .BIBLE will be available for public purchase in early 2016 (for more information please visit

“There is no mission more sacred than sharing the message of the Gospel and giving people from around the world the opportunity to engage with the Scriptures on a daily basis,” said Theo Nicolakis, Chief Information Officer of the Archdiocese and member of the .BIBLE TLD Advisory Council. “These new sites continue the Archdiocese’s legacy and strong commitment to digital ministry.”

“We are honored to have the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Department of Internet Ministries as one of our key ministry partners,” said Scott Wennermark, Director of Strategic Advancements for the .BIBLE TLD. “The GreekOrthodox.Bible and Septuagint.Bible sites represent exactly the kind of technology innovation and vision that the Archdiocese is known for.”


The www.GreekOrthodox.Bible site will serve as the central hub for the development of multi-lingual, Scripture-based technology services; mobile apps; and Biblical resources for the Orthodox Christian Church worldwide. In 2016, www.GreekOrthodox.Bible will be expanded to serve as a central clearinghouse for Liturgical texts and prayers in the life of the Orthodox Christian Church—all of which are deeply rooted in the Scriptures. Visitors will also have the ability to build and download Liturgical services automatically for any given date.

GreekOrthodox.Bible is the culmination of nearly two decades’ work by the Department of Internet Ministries, which originally began as an initiative to digitize the Typicon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1997. The result of this initiative, now known as the Online Chapel Digital Engine, has served as the foundation for many of the Archdiocese’s most popular offerings over the past 17 years such as the Online Chapel on, Bulletin Builder, and the Daily Readings mobile app.


The Septuagint (LXX), also called the Translation of the Seventy, is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). The Septuagint has been a living part of the faith and worship of the Orthodox Christian Church since the time of the Apostles. It still serves as the source for the Old Testament readings in the various liturgical services of the Orthodox Church.

Septuagint.Bible is a joint initiative between the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Hellenic Bible Society. The aim of www.Septuagint.Bible is to:
  1. Make available the living Septuagint text as it is used in the sacred services of the Orthodox Christian Church as well as for private devotion in the life of Orthodox Christians worldwide
  2. Promote easy accessibility to the Septuagint
  3. Publish a properly edited edition of the Septuagint for use in the Divine Services of the Orthodox Christian Church

A Prayer for Peace for the Nativity Fast

Lord Jesus Christ, our God, You said to Your disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” We come before You in humility and ask that Your peace which surpasses all understanding will descend upon all people around the world, especially those currently in conflict and at war. Increase understanding and forgiveness between nations. Awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hatred for their neighbor. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. Grant wisdom to civil authorities. Free those held captive, protect those in danger, and comfort those who are suffering and displaced. Implant in all of us reverence for You, and confirm us in love for one another. Make us worthy to celebrate the feast of Your holy nativity and to join with the angels in chanting: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.” For You are the King of Peace and the Savior of our souls and to You we give glory together with Your eternal Father and Your most-holy, gracious and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and forever. Amen.

(ACROD) - Nativity Fast 2015 - Protocol N. 19/2015

Glory Be To Jesus Christ!

My beloved Faithful Clergy and Laity of our God-Protected Diocese:

It is hard to believe that this month marks the third anniversary of my Consecration and Enthronement as your Bishop. I have enjoyed travelling throughout the Diocese and visiting your parishes and getting to know you. I have been encouraged that while the majority of our Diocesan parishes are small in size, the clergy and faithful who labor in the Vineyard of the Lord are doing much to further the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
As you have heard me preach, I am deeply concerned about the state of affairs in the world. There is strife and conflict in every corner of the globe, including our own country, our local communities and even our families. I am also deeply saddened and troubled by the moral decline in society that is causing chaos and confusion for our youth and young adults. This lack of peace brings unrest to our hearts, and instability in the world. It is, as I have shared with you, the direct result of an increase of selfishness and hatred and the decrease of humility and love. It has become a vicious cycle that can only be broken by a radical metanoia or change of mind and heart on the part of all of the inhabitants of the earth.

As we enter into the Season of the Nativity Fast, I ask you, the good faithful and clergy of the Diocese, to join me on a journey of peace and repentance which will begin in our hearts and end at the manger in Bethlehem. During this time, let us increase our efforts in church attendance, in prayer, in fasting, in scriptural reading, in almsgiving, in repentance and confession, and in receiving the Holy Eucharist.

This year, to further focus our journey of peace and love this Nativity season, I am offering a challenge to all of the clergy and faithful and especially the youth and young adults of the Diocese. Let us not just talk about making the world a more peaceful place, but let us actually do something about it. And the challenge is:

To offer a special prayer for peace during evening prayers. During the Litany of Fervent Supplication at each Divine Liturgy a special petition is also to be included. The text of these prayers will be provided to the clergy for distribution. Each household should have sufficient copies so that each young person that can read has one by their bed to use nightly and those who are too young to read may say this prayer together with their parents before they go to bed. Of course all adults should join the challenge as well so that all together our prayers will reach our Lord’s ears.

To assist with this challenge, a special web page has been created on the Diocesan Website, Praying For Peace, which contains downloadable texts of the special prayers. Other postings will be made on various social media outlets to encourage maximal exposure and participation.

With all of us united in prayer and laboring for peace this Nativity Fasting Season, I am convinced that we will help, even if only in a small way, to make our lives and that of the world more peaceful.

Praying that this Nativity Fasting Season is a spiritually uplifting experience for all of us, I remain,

Working in His Vineyard with much love,


Demacopoulos vs. the Russians... again

Some might remember the Demacopoulos piece "On Orthodox Fundamentalism." Here, there, in conference, and in other writings he has shown himself to be staunchly anti-Muscovite. The below article strays from that position not one iota.

(GOARCH) - Pundits from both America and Europe have recently ascribed religious motivations to the actions of Vladimir Putin. Is Orthodox Christianity to blame for his militant incursions, reactionary policies, or anti-Western rhetoric?

Absolutely not.

The notion that the Ukrainian crisis has religious causes is both factually wrong and religiously offensive. What’s worse, it is politically foolish, playing directly into Putin’s preferred narrative of a culture war.

Nonetheless, the idea is gaining a foothold among powerful Western politicians. Carl Bildt, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, recently asserted that Putin’s efforts to destabilize the Ukraine and his “anti-Western and anti-decadent line” have been “building on deeply conservative orthodox ideas.” The irony is that both Mr. Bildt and Mr. Putin, who have opposing political goals, are employing a strikingly similar misrepresentation of Orthodox Christianity—that it is incompatible with the modern West. Many readers will in fact agree with this assessment. Commercialism, narcissism, and rabid secularism are hallmarks of the modern West. Recent legislation decried as foolish, injurious, and amoral by many jurisdictions is the fruit of the pleaching of pluralism and "rights" at the expense of traditional ethics.

Mr. Bildt is not the only global leader to presume the incompatibility of Orthodoxy and modernity. Since the early 1990s, US and European foreign policy has been profoundly shaped by a political thesis first advocated by Harvard professor Samuel Huntington. Huntington argued that both the Slavic-Orthodox and the Islamic “civilizations” were incapable of embracing Western-styled democracy. Their religious and cultural traditions were supposedly too primitive to accept the Enlightenment principles championed in the West. Foreign policy consultants Molly A. McKew and Gregory A. Maniatis have sounded similar notes, recently linking Mr. Putin’s “revitalization” of “orthodox morality” to his “expansionist vision” and repressive domestic policies.

Only the most superficial of analyses can claim that Mr. Putin’s actions are motivated by Orthodox Christian faith. He is, in fact, doing little more than masking his own political objectives behind the veil of a moralizing principle. Mr. Putin’s efforts to criminalize homosexuality or public swearing are a function of his political calculus, not the inevitable legislative outcome of Orthodox Christian faith. Says who? What does barring homosexuality do to strengthen state power (In fact, homosexuality and the practice thereof is perfectly legal. Propaganda and enticing the youth is not.)? For that matter, how does endorsement of homosexuality ring true with millennia of Orthodox theology?

Throughout history in both East and West, political activists have routinely attempted to solidify their bases by demonizing a religious other. Mr. Putin seeks to present himself as a valiant defender of traditional Russian values against a vacuous and immoral West precisely because he believes that linking himself to the cause of a self-made Christianity will authorize him to enact his stated desire to reintegrate the ancestral Eurasian lands of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. This is an odd accusation considering Putin introduced legislation making canonical religious texts "... the Bible, Quran, Tanakh and Kanjur" protected speech (see here). One could also see his spearheading a return to Christ as in important task considering the slaughter of millions of Orthodox Christians by the previous Soviet regime.

This is not Orthodox Christianity, but classic political showmanship. And it’s far from unique to Mr. Putin. Dressing up political ambition in the clothes of traditional values goes back as far as Caesar Augustus—and for good reason. This rhetorical move is often, unfortunately, effective. While leadership as strong as Putin's is not the American way, the Russian people have always sought strong leadership that goes beyond the bounds of what Mr. Demacopoulos is comfortable with (The Liturgy itself still maintains a structure that signals the entrance of monarchs so it seems we have not cast off monarchial rule entirely.). While Putin is no Emperor, neither is America the model that Russia is trying to construct its state from. The Greek Church is not immune from secular pressure either. The New Calendar, pressed onto the Church from corporate and governmental forces, is an illuminating example.

Mr. Bildt should know better, and perhaps he does. But a more sophisticated parsing of the religious rhetoric is not useful to him and his neo-conservative American supporters. It would undermine their desire to paint the Ukrainian crisis as an exaggerated clash between East and West, wherein the West is modern and good and the East is dangerously religious and totalitarian. I'm not sure what place neoconservatives have in this discussion. As a not infrequent reader of the Weekly Standard I don't see this to be the narrative they are proposing. Nor, really, does the neoconservative movement hold nearly as much sway as it did at its apogee under the Bush years.

The “clash of civilizations” viewpoint also relies on flawed assumptions about Orthodox Christian history and doctrine. Over the past decade, scholarship has conclusively demonstrated that the supposed cultural divide between Christian East and Christian West was largely a political invention that reaches back centuries. How strongly can I disagree with this unsupported statement? A lot. Christian leaders from Popes to Patriarchs agree that there is substantive difference after a thousand years of separation. Two lungs (one for the East and one for the West) says Rome, and they say the Church must breathe with both in complementarity. Both sides say that love is the bridge between the gap, but no one pretends that there is but one monolithic breathing apparatus. 

From opposing sides, then, both Mr. Bildt and Mr. Putin exaggerate the incompatibility of Orthodoxy and the modern West because it allows them to paint the political unrest in Ukraine as something other than it actually is—a political crisis brought on by the interconnection and fierce competition within the global debt and commodity markets.

The significance of these issues stretch beyond the current crisis in Russia/Ukraine because Orthodoxy is the dominant expression of Christianity in many other global hotspots, including the Balkans and the Middle East. If the economic and political interests of the West in these regions are going to be well served, then we must resist the facile characterizations of the Orthodox world and Orthodox/Western difference. They originate from an outdated and dangerous colonial vision that assumes the rest of the world should be measured according to an imaginary Western European standard. Ironically, though, the foundations of democracy, international trade, and Christianity originate from the very locations that are presented by Mr. Bildt and Mr. Putin as incompatible with the Western world. Then they will certainly be proved wrong by how smoothly the assemblies of bishops across the globe in the "diaspora" are integrating themselves into local, unified Orthodox bodies. In fact, we see no such progress and a cursory examination of the declarations written by those bodies in recent years seem to target supposedly innocuous Western actions in the areas of same-sex marriage, abortion on demand at any time, and wars fought to secure oil at the expense of innocent lives.

Our world—both West and East—offers enough real examples in which religious convictions misguide public policy and foreign affairs. We need not create a new one by believing the rhetoric of Mr. Putin.

Co-authored by Fordham Professors: Aristotle Papanikolaou, Archbishop Demetrios Chair of Orthodox Theology and Culture, and George E. Demacopoulos, Director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center.

From Anglican to Orthodox, a building in growth

Before (below) and After (above)
(CBC) - After three years of planning and renovations, parishioners of Saint Antonios Orthodox Church in Halifax held their first Sunday service at their new home.

The original Saint Antonios church is located across the street from what used to be Saint Matthias Anglican Church on the corner of Chebucto and Windsor Street.

After the Anglican church closed, the Lebanese church decided to take it over to accommodate their growing congregation of more than 200 families.

This saw the century-old church transform from a red brick building with steeples to a white building with gold domes.

"It was a big challenge for us to transform it to what it is now," said Father Maximos Saikali, priest of Saint Antonios, "It's breathtaking."

Saikali says the smaller, original Saint Antonios will remain open for services held throughout the week.

The $6 million renovation began in May 2013. Original elements from Saint Matthias can still be seen inside and outside the church, including the church's cornerstone and stained glass windows.

"One of the things we love about this church are the windows," said Rhaba Habib, a long time parishioner of Saint Antonios.

"We wanted to keep it that way and our priest wanted to keep it because it's so beautiful," she said.

Successful Antiochian Village a model for Australian compeer

(Antiochian-AU) - The Antiochian Village is a spiritual revelation. There are facilities where the faithful will be able to stay in for some days, praying, contemplating, learning, mixing with others, etc.… it is the church in the world.

Today, more than any other period of our history, the church needs effective means to face the secular and paganistic world and to prepare and provide its faithful, from the day of their birth until leaving this world all the necessary means to defeat the spiritual darkness and to live and preach the Teachings of their Savior.

The village has begun working with the children and youth plus the parents and grandparents. Will provide educational programs “we have started that” already began utilizing the facilities which may cater to hundred persons in addition to the clergy and leaders and teachers. We have a permanent nun; soon we will have a permanent priest. We already began the celebration of the divine services beginning the first of September 2015.

What we have been seeing of damage happening in the family and the community, will leave us no choice, but to work seriously to face and replace the atheistic secularism of our time; and to place God and His Teachings back in the heart of the family; you see, like I do, that a good percentage of our youth do not know the real God, the normal, the spiritual, etc.… the family has gone down and adopted instead a personal philosophy which satisfy its physical and temporary desires according to the Western Philosophy.

What we see around us, is the destruction of the family and the ignorance of all the teachings which can build the soul and bring a person closer to the God.

For this reason, it was the responsibility of the church to begin working to preserve the Christians teachings and the moral which the Lord Himself gave us.

Here, comes the idea of the Antiochian Village, yes, we have been working diligently for the last-fifteen years to build Sunday schools, youth groups and activities, choirs, little children school, working with the homeless, helping the refugees and the needies, etc.

The Village consists of 4 sets of buildings, each consists of two floors. We are equipped to serve one hundred persons plus, for 1 to 5 days. This is the plan A. Our B plan is to have the place to accommodate people for 5, 10, 15, 20 days. The idea of the village and its importance spread fast in the minds and hearts of our people all over the Archdiocese. They responded generously to meet the responsibility of the remodeling and purchasing whatever needed (and much is needed) we will be using these facilities to prepare our next generations, it’s a place where your children and grandchildren will have a place where they may go, relax, pray, learn, mix, meet, play etc... And be exposed to the will of their Lord. To strengthened the feeling between the generations and with their families and their Lord. We will work for a better and stronger family, church and nation. This Community is our Community and whatever will help to promote it we will be ready to do.

To all those who came forward from the beginning offered a generous helping hand, thanks and God Blessing.