Monday, January 31, 2011

Metropolitan Bartolomeu of Cluj Reposes

Metropolitan Bartolomeu (Anania) of Cluj fell asleep in the Lord today. Upon learning of Vladica Bartolomeu's repose Patriarch Daniel (Ciobotea) of Bucharest stated that he was "a defender of the Orthodox Faith." The late metropolitan was a voice for Tradition within the Church of Romania and was one of the front runners in the patriarchal elections that resulted in the more pro-Western Vladica Daniel being elected patriarch. More here. May Vladica Bartolomeu's memory be eternal! Veşnica pomenire!

Razgrad Commemorates Deliverance from the Turkish Yoke

In honor of the 133rd anniversary of the liberation of Razgrad, Bulgaria, from the Turks Metropolitan Neofit of Ruse celebrated a memorial for the imperial Russian soldiers and Bulgarian freedom fighters responsible for the expulsion of the Turkish occupying forces on 28 January in the city's Church of St. Nicholas. More here.

Meeting of the Bulgarian Orthodox Holy Synod

At its first session in the New Year the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church approved the ongoing visit of Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech to Russia and also appointed Metropolitan Kirill of Varna as its representative at an upcoming planning meeting in Chambessy for a general council of the Local Orthodox Churches. More on those decisions here. The Holy Synod also approved a previous decision not to include Metropolitan Simeon (Dimitrov) of Berlin and Western Europe and Metropolitan Joseph of New York and the USA, Canada, and Australia in its rotating membership due to the logistical issues involved. More on that and other decisions here.

OCA Dioceses to be Reorganized?

At next month's meeting of the Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) the Synod will be discussing, among other things, reorganizing the territorial dioceses of the OCA, primarily by dividing the territorially and numerically large Diocese of Dallas and South[eastern] America. More here.

Friends of Indonesia Appeal

The Friends of Indonesia, an organization established to support the missionary efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Indonesia under Archimandrite Daniel (Byantoro), has issued an appeal for support for the Indonesian Orthodox Church. More here.

Antiochian Orthodox Statement on Homosexuality

Metropolitan Paul (Saliba) of Sydney of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and Oceania has released a statement on homosexuality specifically refuting the claims of John Boswell concerning past acceptance of committed gay and lesbian relationships in the Church. Although apparently for the benefit of the whole of the diocese, the statement has only been released on the diocesan website in Arabic. More here.

Archbishop Mark Awarded Order of St. Sergius

On the occasion of his 75th birthday Archbishop Mark (Arndt) of Berlin of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has been awarded the Order of St. Sergius of Radonezh, second class, by Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow in recognition of his service to the Russian Orthodox Church in Germany and Western Europe. More here.

Interview with an SSPX Priest in Italy

A fascinating glimpse into modern Roman Catholicism in Italy through the eyes of an Italian Catholic priest recently received into the traditionalist Society of St. Piux X can be found here.

Clerical Celibacy Theological Dogma?

It appears that the Vatican is moving to lay dogmatic foundations for the discipline of clerical celibacy in the Roman Church, which would have significant implications for the Eastern Catholic ghettos and their largely non-celibate clergy. More on that here. Hat tip to Ad Orientem for posting this!

In Memoriam: Mother Joanna (Pomazanskaya) of Jordanville

A biography of the recently reposed Nun Ioanna (Pomazanskaya), a founder of St. Elizabeth's Skete in Jordanville, New York, can be found here. Вечная память! May her memory be eternal!

Status of Bulgarian Orthodox Eparchy in North America Discussed in Moscow

During his visit to Moscow Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church met with Archimandrite Zacchaeus (Wood) of the American Orthodox representation in the city to discuss a possible visit by Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) to Bulgaria as well as the status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church's communities in North America. More here.

"Is the St. Peter the Aleut Story True?"

An excellent summary of the arguments for and against the existence of St. Peter the Aleut New Martyr can be found here.

Representatives of Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches Meet

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk has met in Moscow with representatives of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to discuss relations between the sister Orthodox Churches and particularly the pastoral care of Bulgarians living in Russia's Komi Republic. More here.

Demotic Greek Services?

For a look at what's happening in Greece where vernacular Greek has been introduced for the Scripture readings check this out over at Byzantine Texas. One headscarf in the whole place, but they're upset that they can understand the reading. Odd priorities.

Russian Orthodox Holy Synod Meets in Moscow

The first 2011 session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has been held in Moscow. In addition to the permanent members of the Holy Synod and hierarchs from Russia the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of New York, and hierarchs from the Russian Orthodox Church in Azerbaijan and the Crimea were invited to participate in the meeting. More here.

Russian Orthodox Priest in Cairo Prepares Community for Evacuation

As unrest continues to grow in Egypt the rector of the Moscow Patriarchate's representation to the Alexandrian Orthodox Church, Archimandrite Leonid (Gorbachev), has been gathering members of the community in the representation house next to St. Demetrius' Church and preparing a list of parishioners from the former USSR for evacuation should the situation in Egypt continue to worsen. More here.

Sts. Athanasius the Great and Cyril of Alexandria

Joyous feast!

St. Athanasius is called "the Great" generally because of his theology, but in Ethiopia also because he blessed St. Frumentius' missionary labors there and consecrated him Metropolitan of Aksum. He suffered a great deal of persecution for his defense of the Orthodox Faith during his lifetime. More on his life can be found here.

St. Cyril's legacy lives on amongst the Orthodox of the seven councils, but is much more prominent amongst the Orthodox of the three councils who hold strongly to his Christological definition of "one incarnate nature of God the Word" in their opposition to Nestorianism. More on St. Cyril's life can be found here.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Copts Want Equality, Not Special Treatment

An interview with Bishop Angaelos (al-Anba Bishoy) of Stevenage of the Coptic Orthodox Church on the current political crisis in Egypt and the future of the country's native Copts can be found here.

Serbia's Bulgarian Minority

Serbia's small Bulgarian minority is becoming more vocal in its defense of its rights in the country as it prepares for European Union membership. Among other things, a priest active in the community's affairs has been disciplined by the Serbian Orthodox Church for serving in Bulgarian instead of Church Slavonic or Serbian. More here.

Kiev Patriarchate under Siege

In an interview with Express Patriarch Philaret (Denisenko) of Kiev of the schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Church has stated that the current Ukrainian government is seeking to liquidate his jurisdiction in the country. In recent months the state has begun returning churches taken from the Moscow Patriarchate at the time of Patriarch Philaret's excommunication to the control of the Moscow Patriarchate's autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Moscow Patriarchate has also made a greater effort in recent months to dialogue with the hierarchs and clergy of the Kiev Patriarchate to bring them back into the communion of the worldwide Orthodox Churches. More here.

Quote of the Day: Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

What happens to a person who enters an Orthodox church for the first time out of curiosity or inner dissatisfaction or in search for the truth? Nobody will touch him at best...at worst a newcomer coming to a church from the street will encounter ordinary rudeness. He would be scolded by the babushka who serves behind the candle box. She would condemn him for making the sign of the cross in a wrong way, for standing at a wrong place, for wearing wrong clothes, et cetera. And after coming to church two or three times, the person will lose any interest in coming back.

Takeover of Astoria Monastery Complete

The takeover of what was once a preeminent monastery of the Greek Orthodox Old Calendrist movement in the United States, St. Irene Chrysovolantou's in Astoria, New York, appears complete. In the wake of the sexual scandals involving the Monastery's former abbot, Metropolitan Paisios (Loulourgas) of Tyana, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has appointed mainline Greek Orthodox hierarchs and clergy from outside the Monastery as its abbot and legal trustees.

St. Irene's together with a number of other Old Calendrist communities in the USA were received into the Church of Constantinople in 1998. At the time there was unease in some of the Monastery's dependencies regarding Metropolitan Paisios' submission to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but the Monastery was guaranteed its self-governance under its metropolitan-abbot and the right to remain faithful to the Julian calendar. What the future holds in the aftermath of the recent scandals remains to be seen.

More here.

The Two Girls and the Monastery

Two girls in bikini after sunbathing decided to visit the church of a male monastery. At first they doubted that they could go there dressed like this, but finally they took the risk. In the monastery they immediately heard remarks regarding their appearance and one of the girls said: "I'm told we should cover our heads!"

This and other religiously inspired jokes from Interfax can be found here. The translations aren't always great, but you can usually get the gist of things :-).

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Museum of the Russian Icon Opens in Moscow

A new museum, the Museum of the Russian Icon, has opened in Moscow. The museum's substantial collection numbering some 8,000 pieces, only 4,000 of which are currently on display. The museum in cooperation with the Moscow Patriarchate plans to showcase exhibits in New York and other US cities in the near future. More here.

Sandzhak Mufti Calls for Regional Autonomy

The Grand Mufti of Novi Pazar, Muamer Zukorlić, and leader of Serbia's Muslim minority in the Sandzhak region called on Muslims in Serbia to boycott school and national St. Sava celebrations on his feast day, calling the celebrations attempts at forced conversion. He is leading a push to have Sandzhak granted autonomy, saying that autonomy would protect the region's Muslim minority from the Orthodox majority while also not infringing on the rights of the region's Serbian Orthodox residents. Given recent events in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo there is an understandable reluctance on the part of Serbia to grant the region autonomy. More here.

Former Malankara Orthodox Catholicos Visits Dubai

During a visit to St. Thomas' Cathedral in Dubai, UAE, retired Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Didymos I of the independent Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church spoke on the need of the faithful in Kerala and throughout the world to attend the divine services regularly, pray daily, and keep the fasts to provide the younger generations of the Church with a spiritual inheritance worthy of emulation. He also spoke against alcoholism, which is a growing problem in all segments of society in Kerala.

The retired catholicos is in Dubai as part of a week-long visit to the Malankara Orthodox Church in the United Arab Emirates that will include services at the cathedral in Dubai and the parish churches in Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaymah, al-Ain, and Abu Dhabi. More on the Catholicos' visit can be found here.

Quote of the Day: St. Mark the Ascetic

He who wants to do something and cannot is, in the eyes of God Who sees our hearts, as though he has done it. This should be understood as being so in relation to good and evil alike.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hierarchs of the Assyrian and Ancient Churches of the East Meet

At the recent anniversary celebrations of the Assyrian National Council in Chicago, Illinois, Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV of the Assyrian Church of the East met with a hierarch of the Ancient Church of the East, Metropolitan Mar Nursai (Thomas) of Kirkuk. The two parts of the Church of the East split over the secular marriage of a past catholicos-patriarch and his switch of the church from the old calendar to the Gregorian one. In recent years, however, relations have become increasingly warm between the two factions, with the Ancient Church of the East also switching to the Gregorian calendar. More here.

Iraqi Christianity: Freedom? Democracy?

"Americans came here to bring us democracy. What democracy? To be allowed to kill without any responsibility?" This, from the Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, and other updates on the ongoing plight of Iraq's Christian minorities can be found here.

Convert to Islam Suspect in Domodedovo Bombing

The Russian government has named a convert to Islam from the southern Russian city of Stavropol', Vitaliy Razdobudko, as its priem suspect in the recent suicide bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport. More here.

Bishop John of Caracas Participates in Moscow Old Ritualist Conference

At a recent conference at Christ the Savior Church in Moscow the secretary of the commission for the Old Ritualist parishes of the Moscow Patriarch, Fr. John Mirolubov, gave a presentation on the past and present role of the Old Rite in the Russian Orthodox Church. Bishop John (Berzins) of Caracas, who was recently made part-time overseer of the Old Ritualist parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, participated in the conference as part of his ongoing visit to Moscow.

Services at the conference were held according to the Old Rite. Both the ongoing growth of the Old Rite and intolerance to it on the part of adherents of the New Rite was discussed as part of the conference. More here and here.

Quote of the Day: Elder Paisius the Athonite

A Christian must not be fanatic; he must have love for and be sensitive towards all people. Those who inconsiderately toss out comments, even if they are true, can cause harm.

"Atheism and Orthodoxy in Modern Russia"

An excellent article on atheism and Orthodoxy in modern Russia by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Church can be found here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Armenia, Artsakh, and Abkhazia in the News

President Serzh Sargsian of Armenia has repeated Armenia's intention not to recognize the independence of South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Kosovo until the status of the Armenian Republic of Artsakh on the territory of what was Nagorno-Karabakh and southwestern Azerbaijan. Although the governments of Armenia and Artsakh are close the former does not formally recognize Artsakh's independence from Azerbaijan in the hope of resolving the dispute between Azerbaijan and its former region peacefully. More on President Sargsian's statements here.

In other news, representatives of Abkhazia's Armenian minority recently met with President Sergey Bagapsh of Abkhazia to discuss the role of the community in developing the country. More on that here. The Armenian government, despite its reluctance to recognize Abkhazian independence, is active in supporting that country's Armenian minority, as evidenced by its recent donation of Armenian-language books to Abkhazia's Armenian schools.

And lastly, the Russian government has given Abkhazia a loan of $67 million to rehabilitate its railway system, which was damaged during the country's war for independence with Georgia. More on that here.

St. Peter the Aleut New Martyr - True or False?

Fr. Oliver Herbel has posted an article claiming that St. Peter the Aleut did not exist. It can be found here. I don't have particularly strong opinions on this topic, but I find it surprising that Fr. Oliver bases part of his argument on Fr. Michael Oleksa's failure to write about Aleut oral traditions concerning St. Peter in Orthodox Alaska, but also says he couldn't be bothered to write Fr. Michael to ask him about this omission before publishing his article.

Coptic Orthodox Church Against Protests

The Coptic Orthodox Church has advised its faithful in Egypt not to join the protests sweeping the nation, but also recognizes that it can't stop its members from joining the protests if they choose to do so. Copts living freely abroad have criticized the Church's statements, encouraging their compatriots in Egypt to join the protests against President Hosni Mubarak's government. More here.

Syriac and Greek Orthodox Primates Meet in Damascus

Archbishop Jerome II (Liapis) of Athens of the Greek Orthodox Church met today with Patriarch Ignatios Zakka I (Iwas) of Antioch of the Syriac Orthodox Church at St. Ephraim's Monastery in Ma'arat Saydnaya, Syria, to discuss potential areas of cooperation between the two Orthodox Churches. More here.

Muslim Death Threats in Southern Ethiopia

Relations between Muslims and Christians in Ethiopia continue to deteriorate, especially in the periphery of the country. Recently threats have been posted on the doors of Christian houses in the southern town of Besheno, demanding that their residents convert to Islam or die. More here.

"Ethiopian Liturgy"

A fascinating survey of the services of the Ethiopian Rite in comparison with its mother, the Alexandrian Rite as used in the Coptic Orthodox Church, can be found here. The article is unfortunately limited in that it only discusses the Ethiopian and Alexandrian Rites. It would have been nice had the author more intensively studied the liturgics of the West Syrian Rite - it could be that more than one or two of the pecularities he ascribes to Ethiopian custom are actually Syriac Orthodox practices brought by the Nine Roman Saints or later Syrian (or even Indian?) visitors to Ethiopia.

St. Nina


Joyous feast! The life of St. Nina the Enlightener of Georgia can be found here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Diocese of Herzegovina Returns to Mostar

After nearly two decades in exile the Diocese of Zahumlje and Herzegovina has returned to its cathedra in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. In announcing the return Bishop Grigorije (Durić) of Zahumlje encouraged the Serbs who had fled the city during the Bosnian Civil War to return to help rebuild the city's Serbian Orthodox population. More here.

Ukrainian Playwright Among Domodedovo Dead

Among the 35 killed in the recent suicide bombing at Domodedovo Airport was Anna Yablonska (nee Anna G. Mashutina), a playwright and poetess from Odessa, Ukraine. She was on her way to accept a prestigious Russian literary prize for her play The Pagans when the Domodedovo bombing took place. Although Yablonska was only 29-years old she was already famous across Russia, Belarus, and her native Ukraine. More here.

Assyrian Metropolitan Meets with Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon

Metropolitan Mar Meelis (Zaia) of Sydney of the Assyrian Church of the East met with the Iraqi ambassador to Lebanon this week in Beirut to discuss the situation of Assyrian Christians in Iraq and the Diaspora and the efforts of the Iraqi government to protect them in the Iraqi-occupied regions of their homeland, which also in the past included parts of what is today southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria. More here.

Bishop John of Caracas Visits New York, Moscow

Bishop John (Berzins) of Caracas, administrator of the Diocese of South America of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, has visited New York on his way to Moscow to participate in a Council of Bishops of the worldwide Russian Orthodox Church. Although currently in the South American Diocese, Bishop John was consecrated according to the Old Rite and may eventually serve the Old Ritualist flock of Edinovertsy of the Synod Abroad. More here.

On Bishop Basil of San Francisco

Some beautiful reminiscences about Bishop Basil (Rodzianko) of San Francisco of the American Orthodox Church by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), Abbot of the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, can be found here. A website dedicated to Vladyka Basil can be found here. May his memory be eternal! Вечная память!

Malankara Orthodox Service in Kuala Lumpur

The Malankara Orthodox patriarchal auxiliary for Bahrain, Malaysia, and Singapore, Metropolitan Mar Eustathius, has served the first Divine Liturgy of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox parish in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. More here.

Moscow Participates in Ecumenical Gathering at the Phanar

Representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate participated in yesterday's meeting of the "World Christian Forum" hosted by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) at the Phanar. More here.

Kiev's Church of the Tithe Not To Be Rebuilt

The Ukrainian government has decided to build a museum over the foundations of the ancient Church of the Tithe in Kiev instead of restoring the church as it had previously indicated it would. There is already a small church next to the site that was meant to serve in place of the Church of the Tithe until it could be rebuilt. More here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Theophilus III Calls for Peace Between Orthodox Churches of Jerusalem

At a gathering today of hierarchs and clergy of the Church of Jerusalem and the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilus III (Giannopoulos) of Jerusalem called for both churches to "work to be examples of peace, non-violence, reconciliation and true symbiosis."

Patriarch Theophilus' words are a breath of fresh air as the Holy Land is the site of regular clashes between the clergy (and even the monks) of the Jerusalemite, Coptic, Armenian, and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches in Israel and Palestine and also between them and the Roman Catholic Church in the area.

The full text of Patriarch Theophilus' speech can be found here.

"Eastern Orthodox Believers Hit the Streets"

The Washington Post has a great article about yesterday's March for Life and the participation of Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington and other hierarchs of the American Orthodox Church. The article can be found here. Hat tip to Byzantine Texas for posting this!

On Schisms and Unity

Recent conversations have reminded me of an important truth - that schisms are not always clear cut. Many of us Orthodox Christians in the world Orthodox Churches (the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Albanian Orthodox Church, et cetera) view schisms as very black and white. One side, the side our hierarchs are in communion with, is right and the other is wrong. And in some cases that is certainly correct. The baseless schism of former Bishop Basil (Osborne) of Sergievo is a good example of such a schism (one that was resolved with little time, thank God).

There are many situations, however, when the lines simply are not so clear. Who is at fault for the schism between the Orthodox Churches accepting Chalcedon and those who reject it? The Orthodox who upheld St. Cyril's Christology and preached against comprise with the Nestorians for the sake of keeping more of them in the Church or the Orthodox whose emperors used the sword to persecute those who disagreed with their political policies as implemented through the imperially-convened ecumenical councils? Or, to use a more recent example, was the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad wrong to break away from the Moscow Patriarchate because of the latter's obvious and decades-long manipulation by the Soviet regime? Prior to 2007 many world Orthodox used to preach virulently against the Synod Abroad while also openly venerating St. John the Wonderworker of San Francisco, a staunch member and long-time hierarch of the Synod Abroad.

We have so many sad, wrenching schisms dividing us today and we are right to be zealous in their resolution because they do hurt the Church and its God-given mission in the world. But zeal for healing schisms shouldn't be expressed in vitriol, in arguments about gracelessness and closed-door politics and whatever else. I certainly have my views on who is right and who is wrong in India and the Ukraine and elsewhere, but in the end we should be working for unity, not striving to prove ourselves right and the other side wrong.

I have sinned in the past in how I've portrayed various schisms and contentions within the Church. I ask you to join me in praying for the resolution of these schisms and disputes. God knows I still have my opinions on what should be done, but praying for God's will to be done and for unity to be restored amongst us is far more important than our petty human opinions and agendas. God help us all!

St. Sabbas of Serbia

Joyous feast! St. Sabbas, more commonly known as St. Sava, is the best known saint and father of the Serbian Orthodox Church. More on his life can be found here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Suicide Bomber Attacks Moscow Airport

Moscow's Domodedovo Airport has bin hit by a suicide bomber, who killed 35 and put 168 more in the hospital. Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington has called for all the faithful of the American Orthodox Church to pray for the victims of the attack. More here.

"Is Outrage!"

Good news! Excerpts from The Onion Dome website have been published as a book! "Is outrage!" (Literally - that's the book's title :-).) More here.

Muslim Proposal on the Lenin Mausoleum

The head of Russia's national organization for Muslims has called on the Communist Party of Russia to take over the cost of maintaining the Lenin Mausoleum and keeping Vladimir I. Lenin's body from continuing to rot. In recent years pressure has mounted for Lenin to be buried to save the state the cost of maintaining his reliquary-style mausoleum and to unify the nation, whose Communists venerate Lenin and whose religious faithful see him as a precurser of the Antichrist. More here.

Russian Foreign Minister Pledges Support for Church Activities

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov has pledged his ministry's support for the international activities of the Russian Orthodox Church, saying that the Church "promotes the strengthening of spiritual and cultural relations between the Russian [Diaspora] and the home country." More here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bishop Mark Resident in Dallas

Bishop Mark (Maymon) of Baltimore of the American Orthodox Church, auxiliary of the Diocese of Washington, is now in residence in Dallas, Texas, and has begun his duties as administrator of the Diocese of Dallas and 'the South.' More here.

More Felasha Arrive in Israel from Ethiopia

The last 300 of a group of 8,000 Felasha, Jews from northern Ethiopia, has arrived in Israel. Some Felasha are Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, but many have continued to follow their form of Judaism, which in its worship and sacrificial practices far predates the modern rabbinical Judaism that dominates Israeli society. Nevertheless, the Israeli government has required the Felasha to convert to rabbinic Judaism within 2 years of their immigration to Israel or face deportation. More here.

Pictured are some of the new Felasha immigrants arriving in Tel Aviv.

"Will There Be an 'Indian Orthodox Church of North America'?"

An interesting article proposing the eventual development of an autocephalous 'Indian Orthodox Church of North America' by Fr. Joy Pyngolil can be found here.

Saakashvili Visiting Armenia

President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia is on a state visit to neighboring Armenia in an attempt to improve relations between the two countries, resolve the issue of the Armenian minority in southeastern Georgia and the status of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Georgia, and discuss recent problems in Russian-Georgian and Turkish-Georgian relations. More here.

"Solving Health Issues in Ethiopia with Religion"

A brief survey of how the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church has become involved in resolving Ethiopia's significant health care issues can be found here.

Egypt Blames Palestinian Group for Alexandria Bombing

The Egyptian government has singled out a Palestinian Arab organization, the Army of Islam, as being responsible for the New Year bombing of All Saints' Church in Alexandria. The group is apparently inspired by al-Qaeda, but not directly linked with it. More here.

Greek-Americans Considered "Churchy" in Greece

Apparently Greek-Americans are far more involved in church life than Greeks in Greece are, which I'm sure will surprise a great number of people on this side of the Atlantic. More here.

Bishop-elect of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Consecrated

At the Sunday Liturgy in Moscow's Christ the Savior Church Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow together with Metropolitan Seraphim of Borjomi and Bakuriani of the Georgian Orthodox Church and numerous hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church consecrated Archimandrite Tikhon (Dorovskikh) Bishop of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and the Kuriles. In addition to the assembled Russian and Georgian Orthodox clergy a delegation from Mount Athos was also present at the consecration. More here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Afar Districts Oppose FGM

Two districts in Ethiopia's Afar Region have committed to prohibiting female genital mutilation (FGM) or circumcision. In both districts elected and customary leaders together with many of the circumcisers committed to abandoning the practice.

The Afars are Muslim, but FGM is widespread throughout the Horn of Africa amongst both Muslims and Orthodox Christians. Some see it as a counterpart to male circumcision, which is also universally practiced amongst Muslims and Ethiopian Orthodox, while others think it keeps women (who are considered to be inherently sexually promiscuous) from cheating on their husbands.

More on the recent abandonment drives in the Afar Region can be found here.

New Malankara Orthodox Diocese of Punalur to Enthrone First Metropolitan

This Sunday Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II of the East of the schismatic Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church will enthrone Metropolitan Yuhanon Mar Theodoros of Kottarakara and Punalur at St. John's Church in Chemmanthoor, Punalur. Metropolitan Mar Theodoros will be the first hierarch to serve the newly created Diocese of Kottarakara and Punalur. Most of the metropolitans of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church are expected to attend the enthronement celebrations. More here.

Pictured is Metropolitan Mar Theodore.

Karekin II Leads Diocesan Council in New York

As part of his pastoral visit to the USA Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin presided today over a meeting of the diocesan council of the Armenian Orthodox Diocese of New York and the Eastern United States together with Archbishop Khajag (Barsamian), the diocese's ruling hierarch. More here.

EU-Serbia Relations Regularized

The European Parliament in Strasbourg has passed a pact regulating relations between the European Union and Serbia. Despite EU reservations over Serbia's reluctance to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and its treatment of its ethnic and sexual minorities. More here.

Parisian Bishop Visits Solesmes Abbey

In honor of the Westerners' "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity" Bishop Nestor (Sirotenko) of Korsun of the Russian Orthodox Church in France on Thursday presented a lecture on Russian Orthodox monasticism at the Solesmes Abbey before discussing with its abbot ways in which Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic monasteries could work together. More here.

St. Philip of Moscow Celebrated in the Kremlin

In honor of the feast of St. Philip of Moscow Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow and Archbishop Chrysostomos II (Demetriou) of Nea Justiniana concelebrated the festal Divine Liturgy today in the Kremlin's Holy Dormition Cathedral together with hierarchs of the Alexandrian, Russian, and Cypriot Orthodox Churches. More here.

Metropolitan Jonah Concludes Visit to Russia

After a visit to the Diocese of Tver, where he was received by Archbishop Victor of Tver and Kashin, Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington concluded his trip to Russia. Archbishop Justinian of Narofominsk, administrator of the patriarchal Russian Orthodox exarchate in the United States, together with Bishop Alexander of Dmitrov and Russian and American Orthodox clergy from Moscow saw Metropolitan Jonah off at the airport. More on that here. More on Metropolitan Jonah's visit to the Tver region can be found here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Assyrian Center in Baghdad Attacked

The Ashurbanipal Cultural Association in Baghdad was recently raided by armed gunmen who told its staff that they were criminals and did not belong in Iraq. The incident is the latest in a string of attacks, generally ending in murder, against Iraqi Christians. Christianity predates Islam in the region by centuries, but Islamists either unaware of this or insecure because of it are continuing to demand that the region's Christians leave. The Assyrians predate Christianity itself in Iraq and once ruled a great empire dominating most of Mesopotamia and the Levant. More on the attack and the Association here.

Albanian Orthodox Church Opposes New Education Law

The Albanian Orthodox Church has come out against a new law in Albania that would ban the wearing of religious symbols in educational institutions, saying it is a violation of teachers' and students' human rights. More here.

Athens Archbishop to Visit the Levant

Archbishop Jerome II (Liapis) of Athens of the Greek Orthodox Church will be visiting Syria and Lebanon next week on a visit to the Antiochian Orthodox Church. More here.

Cypriot Archbishop Meets with Medvedev

Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow and Archbishop Chrysostomos II (Demetriou) of Nea Justiniana met today with President Dmitriy A. Medvedev in the Moscow Kremlin. Archbishop Chrysostomos is in Russia to receive an award for strengthening the unity of Orthodox nations. More here.

Bishop Benjamin Visits Nondalton, AK; Opposes US Mine Opening

On Theophany this year Bishop Benjamin (Peterson) of San Francisco of the American Orthodox Church celebrated the festal services in Nondalton, Alaska, to highlight the plight of the Athabaskan Orthodox village and its neighboring villages, which have been targeted by US companies to be turned into the world's largest open pit copper and gold mine. The Diocese of Sitka and Alaska is strongly behind the villages' efforts to halt the development of the mine, which has already been approved by the US-backed government of Alaska. More here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Maronite Catholic Patriarch Appeals to Rome for Retirement

In a statement released earlier this week it was announced that Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Cardinal Sfeir of the Maronite Catholic Church, the largest Eastern Catholic organization in Lebanon, submitted his resignation to the Vatican two months ago. As the Maronite Catholic Church is submitted to Rome, although it is technically recognized as an autocephalous, self-governing sister church by Rome in practice its primate needs the approval of the Vatican to resign, just as he needs papal approval to be enthroned.

The Vatican is hesitating in accepting the 91-year old patriarch's retirement because of the mandatory retirement of six Maronite Catholic hierarchs over the summer and the upcoming mandatory retirement of two more this spring. Cardinal Sfeir, who has served as head of the Maronite Catholic Church since 1986, says that he is tired of dealing with the difficult political situation in Lebanon and needs rest. More here.

Copts Protest in Sydney

The Diocese of Sydney of the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Australian Coptic Movement sponsored a peaceful demonstration yesterday in protest of the New Year bombing in Alexandria, Egypt, and the persecution of non-Muslim minorities in Egypt. The demonstration also honored the memories of the victims of the recent flooding in Queensland and raised money for relief efforts in the state. More here.

New Malankara Orthodox Diocese to Enthrone First Metropolitan

Preparations are underway for the enthronement of the first metropolitan of the newly created Diocese of Ahmedabad of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Yulios of Ahmedabad will be enthroned in that city by Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II this coming March. More here.

Boy George Returns Icon to Cypriot Orthodox Church

The Cypriot Orthodox Church recently thanked singer Boy George for returning an 18th century icon of Christ stolen following the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus. Boy George had owned the icon since buying it at an auction in 1985, but agreed to return it to Cyprus when presented with proof of its origins and theft. More here.

Patriarchal Baptisms in Tbilisi

Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili) of Mtskheta yesterday baptized 500 children as part of the festal celebrations at Tbilisi's Holy Trinity Cathedral as part of his initiative to encourage Georgians to have larger families. More here.

Theophany Celebrations in Eritrea

T'imqet (Theophany) celebrations in the Eritrean capital were led yesterday by the government-appointed Patriarch Abune Diosqoros of Asmera and other hierarchs of the government-approved Holy Synod of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church. Despite the recent repression of religious activity in Eritrea thousands of Eritrean Orthodox faithful turned out for the holiday, which is one of the largest (if not the largest) in the Ethiopian Rite. More here.

Cypriot Orthodox Archbishop Visits Russia

Archbishop Chrysostomos II (Englistriotis) of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus arrived in Moscow today on a visit to the Russian Orthodox Church. His visit began with a stop at the city's Christ the Savior Church, the largest church in Russia (and the Orthodox world?). More here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Homily on Theophany

A Theophany homily by St. Philaret (Vosnesenky) the Confessor of New York can be found here.

Russian and American Orthodox First Hierarchs Discuss Church Issues

Following the festal services at Holy Theophany Cathedral in Yelokhovo, Russia, Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow and Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington, who concelebrated the services together, met to discuss matters of mutual concern to the Russian and American Orthodox Churches. More here.

Theophany in Yelokhovo

Patriarch Cyril of Moscow, Metropolitan Jonah of Washington, and Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh following the festal services at Holy Theophany Cathedral in Yelokhovo, Russia. More pictures from the celebrations can be found here.

T'imqet (Theophany) in Addis Abeba

The tabots (arks) present at today's patriarchal Theophany celebrations at Jan Meda in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia.


The crowds at Jan Meda today.


Patriarch Abune P'awlos of Addis Abeba blessing the faithful at Jan Meda with holy water.

"The Mystery of Theophany"

Fr. Stephen Freeman's recent article on the significance of Theophany in our lives as Orthodox Christians can be found here.

"On Holy Water"

Some words from St. John (Maximovich) of San Francisco on Theophany and holy water can be found here.

Turkey Refuses to Recognize Patriarchate

The Turkish government continues to refuse to recognize the legal personality of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which it rightly notes is not "ecumenical" in the modern sense of that term. More here.

Theophany Celebrations in Russia

Some pictures from today's Theophany celebrations in Russia can be found here and here.

Bulgarians in Macedonia Protest Archbishop's Remarks

Following comments by Archbishop Stefan (Veljanovski) of Ohrid of the schismatic Macedonian Orthodox Church that ethnically Macedonian Spaska Mitrova's Bulgarian citizenship makes her one of the "dregs of society, traitors and freaks" Macedonia's Bulgarian Cultural Club (BCC), which represents Macedonians still aware of their Bulgarian heritage and identity, has demanded an apology from Archbishop Stefan. Should he not apologize the BCC will appeal to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to restore its dioceses on the territory of independent Macedonia. More here.

Patriarch Ilia Protests Turkey-Georgia Talks

Patriarch Ilia II of Mtskheta-Tbilisi has criticized recent talks between Turkey and Georgia over the restoration of Georgian Orthodox churches in Turkey and Turkish Muslim mosques in Georgia. The patriarch thinks that the reopened churches should come under his patriarchate's administration instead of becoming the property of the Turkish government. More here.

Pope Shenouda Cancels Public Papal Theophany Services

Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) canceled the public services that had been planned for Theophany due to security concerns for the large crowds expected on the holiday. More here.

Monk Caught Stealing Relics

A Greek Orthodox monk has been caught in the Athens airport attempting to steal the remains of a Cypriot Orthodox nun who reposed in Greece four years ago. More here.

Theophany

Joyous feast!!! Christ is baptized!!! More on this great feast can be found here.

Russian Orthodox Church to be Built in Strasbourg

The city of Strasbourg in France has agreed to allocate land for the construction of a Russian Orthodox church for the city's Russian Orthodox faithful. More here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Russians Affirm Recognition of Palestinian Independence

During his ongoing state visit to the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank President Dmitriy A. Medvedev of Russia has reaffirmed Russia's acceptance of the 1988 recognition of Palestinian independence by the Soviet Union. The USSR was one of the first nations to recognize an independent Palestine. More here.

Pictured is President Medvedev with President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine.

Immodesty Leads to Rape - Accept It or Cover Up?

In a recent discussion of church dress codes and modesty in Russian life the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's department for relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian society, Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin, stated that a woman who dressed immodestly and was later raped could not be surprised at the result. Fr. Vsevolod also spoke against men's immodesty in dress, but failed to note that Russian society does not give women leeway to rape improperly dressed men, only (apparently) women. Neither Fr. Vsevolod nor the Patriarchate have apologized for his remarks despite protests from members of the Church in Russia. More here.

New Church in Chechnya

The Chechen government is okaying the construction of a church in Naurskaya to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Naura District. The district is roughly half Russian Orthodox and half Chechen Muslim. More here.

"Stop Beating About the Bush"

Al-Arabiya has posted an article on recent calls in Egypt for the secularization of the country's constitution. Among other things, it claims that there is no basis for the rising discrimination against Copts in Egyptian life in sharia. This seems disingenuous as churches are required to acquire government approval for the fixing even of broken toilets on church premises, the government's recently interference in church marriage despite the supposed constitutional recognition of Coptic Orthodox customary law, and the customary taxation of Christians as dhimmis ("protected" second-class citizens in Islamic law), although that last is not observed in modern Egypt (as far as this author knows). How these and a host of other things contribute to the marginalization of Egypt's Copts is not difficult to see.

Arab League to Discuss Christian Minority

At its upcoming summit the Arab League will be discussing the state of Christianity in the Middle East and what can be done to protect the region's Christian minorities. More here.

Serbian Government Rethinks Diaspora

The Serbian government is restructuring its approach to the Serb Diaspora in the hopes of bolstering its involvement in the economic life of Serbia. How this will impact the Serbian Orthodox Church outside the former Yugoslavia and its interaction with other Local Orthodox Churches in the West remains to be seen. More here.

Midwestern Diocese Designates February "Diocesan Mission Month"

The Midwestern American Diocese of the American Orthodox Church is designating this February as "Diocesan Mission Month" in memory of Archbishop Job (Osacky) of Chicago of thrice blessed memory. The Diocese is sponsoring a mission trip to Project Mexico in July in Vladyka Job's memory and will take special collections this coming month to support the trip. More here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Clarifies Past Statements

In an interview Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus sought to clarify his previous statements on Jews and other groups he views as threat to Greece, but in the process only reinforced the impressions given by his previous statements. More here.

Queensland Flooding Damages Russian Orthodox Church

Severe flooding in Queensland, Australia, has caused serious damage to Our Lady of Vladimir Russian Orthodox Church near Brisbane and also led to the evacuation of the Russian retirement center in the same city. More here.

Pictured is Our Lady of Vladimir Church in Rocklea, Australia, surrounded by the flood waters.

EU Urges Census in Bosnia-Herzegovina

The European Union (EU) is pressuring Bosnia-Herzegovina to form a new coalition government and to prioritize the enactment of census legislation to speed the process of the country's entrance into the EU. Bosnia-Herzegovina's last census was in 1991, at which time 43% of the country was Bosnian Muslim, 31% Serbian Orthodox, and 17% Croatian Catholic. More here.

"Bosnia's 'Patient' Fight for Religious Tolerance"

An interesting survey of issues surrounding religious tolerance in modern-day Bosnia-Herzegovina by Rusmir Smajilhodzic can be found here.

Greek Hiring Cuts Effect Church

In the face of public sector hiring cuts in Greece the Church of Greece is requesting a partial exemption from the cuts so that it can provide salaries to new clergy serving in the country. The Greek Orthodox Church is the state church of Greece and its clergy are paid by the Greek government. More here.

Pope Shenouda Returns to Egypt

Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) has just returned to Egypt from a check-up at a hospital in Ohio. More here.

Moscow Patriarchate on Russian Demographic Crisis

The Moscow Patriarchate has proposed a variety of measures to reduce the number of abortions occurring in Russia and help slow the country's demographic crisis. More here.

Russian Government Closes Romanov Investigation

A Russian investigative committee has confirmed the identification of remains at St. Petersburg's Sts. Peter and Paul's Cathedral as those of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and his family. More here.

Johannesburg Metropolitan Serves in Russian Orthodox Church

This past Saturday the newly enthroned Metropolitan Damascene of Johannesburg celebrated the festal Divine Liturgy for St. Seraphim's day in St. Sergius' Church in Johannesburg, which is a representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in South Africa. More here.

Quote of the Day: St. Silouan the Athonite

Do not be cast down over the struggle - the Lord loves a brave warrior. The Lord loves the soul that is valiant.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Ethiopians Need Not Apply"

An excellent article by Ido Solomon on Israel's Ethiopian minority, which is both Felasha (Jewish) and Orthodox Christian, and the challenges it faces in Israeli society can be found here.

"Could It Happen in Syria?"

An interesting survey of life in Syria, particularly for its Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic minorities, by Sami Moubayed can be found here.

Quote of the Day: Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria

All you need, dear brother, is to meet with Christ, and speak to Him, to listen to Him and form a relationship with Him, and you will find in Him all that you will ever need. With Christ you will lack nothing. Give Him your heart, and then you will feel all the triviality of the world, and you will be happy with God's love.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Metropolitan Jonah Leads Festal Services in Diveyevo

This morning Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington of the American Orthodox Church concelebrated the festal Divine Liturgy for St. Seraphim's day with Archbishop George of Nizhniy Novgorod and a number of other hierarchs and clergy of the Russian and American Orthodox Churches. More here.

St. Seraphim of Sarov

Joyous feast! С праздником! I remember planning a pilgrimage to the Diveyevo Monastery while I was studying in Nizhniy Novgorod out of a sense of duty. I had prayed to St. Seraphim for years and suddenly I was living a bus trip away from his relics, so of course I had to go venerate them. The Monastery was beautiful, the abundance of relics of the various righteous from the Monastery impressive, and the fervor of the other pilgrims impressive.

But what really struck me was St. Seraphim himself. I walked into Holy Trinity Cathedral (where his relics rest) with a divided and troubled heart, having not really prayed for days (possibly weeks) and not expecting anything particularly noteworthy, and was suddenly hit by a wave of peace and...presence. St. Seraphim was there. I wasn't even sure where his relics were for a moment, but I knew he was there.

I struggle and I doubt, but I cannot doubt the realness of Orthodoxy. It has its problems and its failings, but I've experienced the joy of Pascha and felt it in the living presence of a monk who died 178 years ago. How can I not believe? I hope and pray that St. Seraphim's blessings, and most especially his joy and his peace, are with you today.

More on St. Seraphim's life can be found here.

Polish President Meets with Polish Orthodox Metropolitan

President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland has met with Metropolitan Sawa (Hrycuniak) of Warsaw and other clergy of the Polish Orthodox Church. During the meeting President Komorowski said there must be room in Poland for tolerance and mutual respect between Poles and the country's ethnic and religious minorities.

In the distant past Poland (then the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) was a bastion of religious tolerance and political freedom (for the time) in Europe, but following the restoration of Polish independence in the early 1900s the state at times fiercely persecuted its non-Polish and non-Roman Catholic minorities.

More on the meeting can be found here.

Medvedev to Inaugurate Jericho Museum

During an upcoming state visit to Palestine President Dmitriy Medvedev of Russia will inaugurate a new museum in Jericho built on lands recently returned to the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, to whose care they were entrusted after their purchase by the Russian imperial government. More here.

Quote of the Day: St. Zena Marqos

Never permit your tongue to utter a word unless you are convinced that what you say is beneficial either for yourself or for whom you are saying it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Saakashvili Visits Armenian Church

In an effort to shore up the support of Georgia's remaining ethnic minorities for his government President Mikheil Saakashvili has attended an Armenian Orthodox Theophany service and expressed his congratulations to the substantial Armenian minority in southeast Georgia and to Armenians throughout the world. More here.

Pictured is President Saakashvili in the Holy Echmiadzin Armenian Orthodox church in Avlabari, a district of Tbilisi.

Macedonian Metropolitan Being Sued

A Macedonian human rights organization is suing Metropolitan Petar of Prespa and Pelagonia of the schismatic Macedonian Orthodox Church for comments he made over the Nativity holidays comparing gays and lesbians to animals. More here.

Second Orthodox Church to be Built in Antarctica

The Ukrainian government is funding the construction of a Ukrainian Orthodox church in Antarctica for its scientists and researchers on the continent. The church, which will be under the jurisdiction of the autonomous Church of Ukraine of the Moscow Patriarchate, will be the second in Antarctica. The Ukrainian government will also be presenting a bell to the first Orthodox church on the continent, which was built by the Russian government. More here.

Pictured is Holy Trinity, Antarctica's Russian Orthodox church.

Metropolitan Jonah Visits Diveyevo

Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington of the American Orthodox Church is on a visit the Diveyevo Monastery in Russia, founded by spiritual daughters of St. Seraphim of Sarov and home to his relics. More here.

Pictured is the Diveyevo Monastery.

Quote of the Day: St. Isaac of Nineveh

Gossip begets gossip and blessing begets blessing, therefore, bless others. Always bless with your tongue so that nobody will gossip about you.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Pilgrimage to Syria and Lebanon

An account of a recent trip by Mother Alexandra (Magan), a nun at St. Thecla's Monastery in Bolivar, Pennsylvania, to St. Thecla's Monastery in Ma'aloula and other holy places in Syria and Lebanon together with a number of lovely pictures can be found here.

Greek Orthodox Church Speaks Against Piraeus Metropolitan's Comments

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece has denounced the recent anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic comments of Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus, saying that the Greek Orthodox Church opposes "any form of racial and religious discrimination." More here.

Civil Marriage in Russia

The head of Moscow's marriage registry service says that same-sex marriages remain illegal in Russia, but that pets dressed in marriage attire are, of course, allowed to participate in ceremonies. What the one has to do with the other is somewhat unclear - welcome to Russia ;-). More here.

Quote of the Day: St. Fiqerte Kristos

You are a king and not an evangelist. You need religious guidance from us as we need righteous rule from you.

Spoken by Mother Fiqerte Kristos to Emperor Susniyos of Ethiopia when he established Roman Catholicism as the state religion.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Construction Plans for St. Tikhon's Monastery

This is nothing particularly new, but the beautiful plans for the building of a permanent complex for St. Tikhon of Zadonsk's Monastery, North America's oldest monastic community, can be found here.

Fr. Iakovos Tsigounis Elected Bishop of Meletoupolis

The Holy Synod of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church has elected a parish priest in Australia, Archimandrite Iakovos Tsigounis, Bishop-elect of Meletoupolis and auxiliary to Archbishop Stylianos (Harkianakis) of Sydney. He is the first Australian-born hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Church. God grant Bishop-elect Iakovos many years! More on Bishop-elect Iakovos and his election to the episcopacy can be found here.

Pictured is Bishop-elect Iakovos.

"In America the Canons of the Church Don't Matter, Right?"

An excellent article on the need for a stricter following of the canons in American Orthodoxy from the perspective of a priest of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Corbishop Kuriakos Thottupuram, can be found here.

Note: In West Syrian custom (and perhaps East Syrian/Assyrian as well?) corbishop is the highest rank to which a priest can be elevated, not the lowest rank of the hierarchy as in Byzantine practice.

Kosovar Bishop Calls for Serb Return

Newly enthroned Bishop Teodosije (Sibalic) of Raska and Prizren has called on Kosovar Serbs who fled the UN-backed Albanian regime to return to their homes in Kosovo so that the province will not be lost to its native Serbs forever. More here.

Four Shot by Policeman in Egypt

Less than a week after the New Year's bombing of All Saints' Church in Alexandria an off-duty policeman opened fire on a train, hitting four and killing one. The policeman reportedly searched the train for Christians and when he found women not wearing hijabs he opened fire. More here.

Lawsuits Against Malankara Church Should End

The first hierarch of the independent Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in India, Catholicos Mar Thoma Paulose II of the East, has stated that his church and the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church under the Patriarchate of Antioch should reunite, but that the latter should withdraw a recent lawsuit against the property of a church and seminary of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church's Diocese of Ankamali so that his church can know that its motives are pure. More here.

Quote of the Day: St. Athanasius the Great

Disputes merely about words must not be suffered to divide those who think alike.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Malankara Orthodox Metropolitan in USA to Retire

Metropolitan Mar Barnabas of New York of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church's Northeastern American Diocese has announced his intention to retire due to his advanced age and to return to Kerala to finish his life there. More on the retirement here. More on Mar Barnabas' life can be found here.

Pictured is Metropolitan Mar Barnabas.

Nativity Services Held in Shanghai

This past Thursday Chinese authorities allowed Russian Orthodox Christians in the city of Shanghai to celebrate the Lord's Nativity in that city's St. Nicholas' Church with visiting priest Fr. Aleksiy Kiselevich. Although the festal services were only open to non-PRC citizens Fr. Aleksiy was able to visit the city's retired Chinese Orthodox priest, Fr. Michael Wang, in the days following the Nativity to congratulate him with the feast. More here.

Pictured is Fr. Aleksiy Kiselevich giving a book on Chinese Orthodoxy published in Russia to Fr. Michael Wang, Shanghai's only surviving Chinese Orthodox priest.

Photo of the Day: St. Cyril the Wonderworker and H.I.M. Haile Silase I

Pope St. Cyril VI of Alexandria with Emperor Haile Silase I of Ethiopia.

Armenian Patriarch Visits the USA

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin and All the Armenians is currently on a pastoral visit to the United States. More here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"Sloshing Our Way into the Kingdom"

Fr. Stephen Freeman has an excellent article on the sanctity of matter in traditional Christianity here.

Greek Community in Turkey Hopes for EU Membership

The small Greek-speaking community remaining in Turkey says that its only hope of survival is the entrance of Turkey into the European Union. More here.

Pope Theodore Meets with Governor of Alexandria

In a meeting with Pope Theodore II (Horeftakis) of Alexandria after the festal services for new style Theophany the governor of Alexandria guaranteed the security of the city's Orthodox Greeks, Copts, and Arabs and noted the generally excellent relations between Islam and Orthodoxy in the city. More here.

Pictured is Pope Theodoros with the Orthodox who dove after the blessing cross this year in Alexandria following the blessing of the waters.

Palestine to Seek UN Recognition

As Israel continues to stall the peace process and build new settlements on Palestinian Arab land the Palestinian National Authority's foreign minister has stated that his government will seek for United Nations' recognition of an independent Palestinian state. Roughly a 100 countries worldwide already recognize Palestine as a sovereign state. More here.

Syriac Orthodox Bishop's Attackers Charged in Germany

German prosecutors have finally charged three men, two from the Middle East and one from Sri Lanka, who attacked Metropolitan Mor Julius of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Germany nine months ago. During the attack, which took place in Bishop Mor Julius' office, the metropolitan was gagged, beaten, had his beard cut off, and was then robbed by his assailants. His attackers have been charged with theft, assault, and attempted murder. More here.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Visits Bethlehem

In the wake of the recent violence against Christians in Iraq and Egypt the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, sent his foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, to Bethlehem to participate in the old style Nativity celebrations there and to express his solidarity with and support for the Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics living in the occupied territories in Palestine. More here.

Bishop Irenaeus of Quebec Hospitalized

Please keep Bishop Irenee (Rochon) of Quebec, auxiliary and administrator of the Canadian Diocese of the American Orthodox Church, in your prayers as he suffered a heart attack over the weekend and had to be hospitalized. More here.

Beirut Cathedral Opens Museum

Beirut's St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral has opened a museum on its premises highlighting the nearly 2,000-year long history of Orthodox Christianity in Lebanon. The modern cathedral is the seventh church structure to be built on the site. More here.

Pictured is St. George's Cathedral.

Copts Advised Not to Befriend Gays, Lesbians

In its 'question and answer' section the website of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States discourages its faithful from having openly homosexual friends, saying that its faithful should protect their reputations and not encourage homosexuals by being their friends. Its full statement can be found here.

The modern consensus of the Orthodox Churches regarding homosexuality is negative, but recent official statements of the Coptic Orthodox Church have been particularly harsh.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

St. Stephen the Protomartyr

Joyous feast! I nearly forgot that today is also the feast of St. Stephen the Archdeacon and Protomartyr. More on his life can be found here. May his blessings and prayers be with us all!

South Sudan Independence Referendum Today

TIME has just released an article on today's independence referendum in South Sudan. Please, please pray for peace, unity, and freedom for the many nations and peoples of South Sudan.

Sunday of St. Joseph

Joyous feast! St. Joseph is one of the great saints of the Church in the East and the West. More on his life can be found here.

I prayed to St. Joseph for a long time for work and for help with another matter and for most of that time thought my prayers wasted. Then four months ago I found work in Oregon, two months ago my other request was granted, and then a month ago my other request received a second answer that I had not even dared to hope for, so I no longer think the time with him misspent :-).

May St. Joseph's blessings and prayers continue to be with us all! I hope this finds you well with the feast!