Monday, February 28, 2011

Pictures of Patriarch Irinej in Des Plaines

Some beautiful photos from the recent visit of Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovich) of Pech to Holy Protection Cathedral in Des Plaines, Illinois, can be found here.

In Memoriam: Fr. Elias Morcos

Archimandrite Elias (Morcos), an early leader of Syria and Lebanon's Orthodox Youth Movement and founder of the Holy Monastery of St. George or Deir el-Harf on Mount Lebanon, has fallen asleep. May his memory be eternal! More here.

Bishop Jerome Serves in Moscow

Bishop Jerome (Shaw) of Manhattan of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad led the celebration of the divine services today in Moscow's Kuznetskaya Church of St. Nicholas. In attendance at the services was Maria Borisovna Alexandrova, sister of the Old Ritualist Bishop Daniel (Alexandrov) of Erie of blessed memory. More here.

"Saving Ethiopia's 'Church Forests'"

A wonderful article by T.D. Beeland on northern Ethiopia's surviving woodlands and the role of the Church in their preservation can be found here.

Old Believers Return to Siberia from Bolivia

Old Believers who fled the Soviet conquest of Siberia and the Russian Far East continue to return to Russia, this time from Bolivia. More here.

Armenian Orthodox Catholicos Hopes for Return of Churches in Georgia

During his upcoming visit to Georgia this year Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin hopes to finally negotiate the full registration of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Georgia and the return of six Armenian Orthodox churches confiscated under the Soviet Union, neither of which have been undertaken despite positive statements on the former issue by the Georgian government. More here.

Maslenitsa!

Across the lands of the old Russian Empire the festival week of Maslenitsa, observed throughout the Orthodox Christian world as the last week to eat animal products (excluding meat) before the start of Lent, has begun. More about the ongoing celebrations in Russia can be found here. Yours personally with be celebrating with an eclectic mix of kefir, phad thai, ice cream, and Moroccan flan :-). Enjoy!

Russian and Polish Orthodox Hierarchs Concelebrate in Geneva

After the close of the meeting of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission in Chambesy, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, Archbishops Mark (Arndt) of Berlin of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) and Jeremiah of Wroclaw and Szczecin of the Polish Orthodox Church, and Bishop Michael (Donskoff) of Geneva of the ROCOR concelebrated the Divine Liturgy in Geneva's Cathedral of the Elevation of the Holy Cross. More here.

Macedonian Orthodox Archbishop Visits Germany

Archbishop Stefan (Veljanovski) of Ohrid of the independent Macedonian Orthodox Church is on a pastoral visit to Germany. Over the weekend he celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Church of St. George of Kratovo in Hamburg, which is part of the Macedonian Orthodox Diocese of Europe, with Metropolitans Pimen of Europe and Hilarion of Bregalnitsa. More here.

Metropolitan Volodymyr Visits Transcarpathia

Over the weekend Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) made a pastoral visit to the westernmost diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Transcarpathia, part of the homeland of the Ruthenian (or Carpatho-Russian/Rusyn) people in the Carpathian Mountains. During his visit he met with Archbishops Theodore of Mukachevo and Uzhhorod and Mark of Khust and Vynohradiv, both of whom serve in the region. He also celebrated the divine services in Svalyava's Monastery of the Holy Trinity and Sts. Cyril and Methodius. More here.

Pope Theodoros Meets with Bishop of Madagascar

This past Saturday Pope Theodoros II (Horeftakis) of Alexandria met with Bishop Ignatios (Stavronikitis) of Antananarivo to discuss the pastoral work and missionary outreach of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church in Madagascar.

Orthodoxy was virtually extinct on the island, having been brought to Madagascar by Greek immigrants to Antananarivo, when Bishop Nectarios (Kellis) of blessed memory began his missionary labors there in 1994. Today the Diocese of Antananarivo consists of some 80 parishes served by 30 Madagascaran Orthodox priests. The Diocese also maintains 8 missionary centers, 16 schools, 3 technical colleges, 2 clinics, and a nursing home.

More on the recent meeting in Alexandria can be found here.

Patriarch Irinej Meets with Chicagoland ROCOR Hierarchs

Over the weekend Patriarhc Irinej (Gavrilovich) of Pech of the Serbian Orthodox Church continued his visit to the United States, serving the Saturday Vigil at the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad's Holy Protection Cathedral in Des Plaines, Illinois, where he met with Archbishop Alypy (Gamanovich) of Chicago and Bishop Peter (Loukianoff) of Cleveland of the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Mid-America. More here.

Metropolitans Christopher, Jonah, and Hilarion Meet in New York

Following the arrival of Metropolitan Christopher (Pulec) of Prague of the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church he met with Metropolitans Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) and Hilarion (Kapral) of New York of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and Archbishop Justinian (Ovchinnikov) of Narofominsk of the patriarchal Russian Orthodox representation to the OCA at Metropolitan Hilarion's residence in New York City. During the meeting Metropolitan Christopher invited Metropolitan Jonah to visit the Czech Republic and Slovakia. More here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Metropolitan Jonah on Lenten 'Time Off'

During the services for the Sunday of the Last Judgment this morning at St. Nicholas' Memorial Cathedral in Washington, DC, Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) sought to clarify the recent decision of the Holy Synod to grant him an informal leave of absence. In his remarks Vladyka Jonah stated that he needed "to set aside a period of time...during the Great Fast to spend in personal reflection and renewal," going on to emphasize that he remained "the active primate of the Orthodox Church in America." He also thanked his brother hierarchs in the OCA for taking on his workload during Lent so that he could have a rest. His full statement can be found here. Hat tip to Orthocath for posting this first!

Malankara Orthodox Holy Synod Okays Women's Participation in Church Administration

At its recent session the Holy Synod of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church approved the participation of women in ecclesiastical administrative structures that have lay members. As a result any woman belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Church can be elected to parish councils, diocesan assemblies, the Malankara Association, and so on. More here.

Turkish Supreme Court Rules Against Mor Gabriel

The Turkish Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of Dayro d'Mor Gabriel in Tur Abdin, one of the oldest surviving monastic communities of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the world. More here and here.

St. Maron

Again, a joyous feast! St. Maron is usually associated with the Maronite Catholic Church in Lebanon, which views him as its founder, but is in fact also a saint in our Orthodox Churches for and against Chalcedon. He lived as a hermit in the mountains near Antioch where he was renowned for his asceticism and holiness and even met with St. John Chrysostom, who asked for his prayers.

St. Maron's disciples were initially centered in northern Syria, but came to be concentrated on and around Mount Lebanon. Today the Maronite Catholic Church claims to have always been in communion with Rome, but in reality it is more likely that St. Maron's followers either went into schism or heresy, electing their own patriarchs of Antioch until submitting to Rome during the Crusades.

More on St. Maron's life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

St. Valentine of Rome

Joyous feast! There were two (or three?) different martyrs from the West named Valentine, but the one best known today is St. Valentine of Rome, the priest martyred under Emperor Claudius II for marrying young couples despite an edict forbidding it (this was an effort to increase conscription to the imperial army).

I know some Orthodox today resent new style St. Valentine's day as a symbol of misdirected romantic love and hedonism, but I personally have a strong appreciation for the saint. He shed his blood for love and the family - it's hard to be against that! I also feel that he has granted a request I brought to him some time ago, one I felt would not and even could not be granted, and so I am profoundly grateful to him for his prayers.

More on St. Valentine's life can be found here and here. His relics remain at the Church of St. Praxedes in Rome. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Alba Iulia Archbishop Leads Holy Land Pilgrimage

Archbishop Andrei of Alba Iulia is leading a pilgrimage from Transylvania to the Holy Land, visiting the establishments of the Romanian Orthodox Church's representation to the Church of Jerusalem and serving at the Church of the Holy Resurrection. More here.

Chambesy Meeting Ends

The Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission has finished its meeting in Chambesy, coming to a unanimous agreement on the granting of autocephaly (that it should be studied further, but that in principle all the Local Orthodox Churches should sign a tomos granting autocephaly) and autonomy (that it is granted by the mother Orthodox Church) and failing to come to any agreement on the order of the diptychs. The Albanian and Polish Orthodox Churches both appealed for the establishment of a single order in the diptychs, whilst the Georgian and Cypriot Orthodox Churches appealed for an elevation in their rank.

All of the Local Orthodox Churches were represented by hierarchs with the exception of the Church of Romania, which sent the secretary of its Holy Synod. More here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Polygamy in Chechnya?

The President of Chechnya has once again made a public statement in favor of polygamy, saying that he himself has already begun searching for a second wife. A leader of the Russian opposition has also come out in favor of polygamy for Russian Muslims, rhetorically asking those opposed to it, "Why [not] - it's a tradition!" (To which refrains of "tradition, tradition..." broke out thunderously across the land ;-).) More here.

OCA Holy Synod Grants "Personal Retreat" to Metropolitan, Relieves Him as Locum Tenens, Appoints Interim Chancellor

The Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Church has announced that it has granted Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington a 60-day leave for a time of "personal retreat and spiritual renewal" and appointed Archbishop Nathaniel (Popp) of Detroit administrator of the OCA in his absence. The Holy Synod also appointed Bishop Nikon (Liolin) of Boston as locum tenens of the Diocese of the South and Bishop Tikhon (Mollard) of Philadelphia as locum tenens of the Diocese of the Midwest.

Receiving the resignation of Archpriest Alexander Garklavs as OCA chancellor the Holy Synod appointed Bishop Melchisedek (Pleska) of Pittsburgh as temporary chancellor. More here.

Archbishop Gabriel of Comana Resumes Duties

Archbishop Gabriel (de Vylder) of Comana has resumed his duties in the Russian Orthodox Exarchate of Western Europe of the Ecumenical Patriarchate following surgery on one of his lungs, but will scale back his activities until he has fully recovery from the operation and chemotherapy that has followed it. More here.

Metropolitan Theophylact Refuses to Abandon Libya

Despite the state of civil war existing in Libya, Metropolitan Theophylaktos (Tzoumerkas) of Tripoli of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church refuses to leave the country, saying that he must remain with what's left of his flock in the country to care for their spiritual needs. More here.

New Church Opened in Eastern Nigeria

Metropolitan Alexander (Gianniris) of Lagos of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church in Nigeria has consecrated a new parish church in the eastern Nigerian town of Umudioka. A full description of the opening of the church in Greek with some lovely pictures can be found here.

A Question for Our OCA

Given the many diverse and concerning allegations made on OCA News which, regardless of your feelings on it, rarely posts incorrect information the question we in the American Orthodox Church (OCA) might want to be asking ourselves at this point is not 'when will Metropolitan Jonah resume his duties as our first hierarch,' but rather 'who on earth is going to be our next first hierarch?' God help us...

Metropolitan Christopher of Prague Begins US Visit

Metropolitan Christopher (Pulec) of Prague of the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church is beginning a visit to the American Orthodox Church (OCA) and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) today in New York. During the course of his visit to the United States Metropolitan Christopher will meet with Metropolitans Jonah (Paffhausen) of the OCA and Hilarion (Kapral) of New York of the ROCOR as well as Archbishop Demetrios (Trakatellis) of New York of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. He will also serve a memorial for the ever memorable Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla) of the ROCOR at his tomb in Jordanville, New York. More here.

Coptic Catholics Bishops Will Not Seek Repeal of Article 2

As Copts protests in Tahrir Square to demand equal rights and the repeal of the second article of the Egyptian constitution, which establishes Islam as the national faith and sharia the principle source of legislation, the hierarchs of the Coptic Catholic Church have stated that they will not seek the repeal of the article. More here.

Moscow Patriarchate Says Black Sea Palace a 'Spiritual Center'

A controversial residence being built by the Russian Orthodox Church in a popular resort area on the Black Sea is being billed by the Moscow Patriarchate as a 'spiritual and administrative center' and not a resort palace for the patriarch. The construction in the area has Russian environmentalists up in arms and others questioning how the Moscow Patriarchate uses its funds. More here.

Diptychs Remain Controversial at Chambesy

To no one's surprise, the issue of the diptychs is the most contentious currently being discussed and Chambesy, with some advocating a single list, others advocating each church having its own list and ranking it as it sees fit, and still others focusing on jockeying for the sixth place in the current diptychs after the pentarchy of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Moscow. More here.

Romanian Orthodox Episcopate Recognized by Sweden

The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of Northern Europe under Bishop Macarie of Stockholm has received the official recognition of the Swedish government. More here.

Metropolitan of the OCA Resigns?

A Greek-language website is reporting that Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) has resigned as First Hierarch of the OCA and that Archbishop Nathaniel (Popp) of Detroit and the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America has been appointed locum tenens. That here. So far this is the only place I've seen this information, so it's entirely possible that it's wishful thinking on the part of someone under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, especially as another rumor has it that Metropolitan Jonah has requested a two or three-month sabbatical.

Update: More rumors have surfaced stating that Metropolitan Jonah has been placed on a leave of absence by the Holy Synod and that Archbishop Nathaniel is to fulfill the duties of Metropolitan Jonah in his absence. Some also say that Fr. Alexander Garklavs has been replaced as chancellor of the OCA by Bishop Melchisedek (Pleska) of Pittsburgh, but others deny this. There are still no official statements on the matter from the OCA. More here.

Metropolitan Mar Nicholavos Nominated for Vacant MOSC Diocese

Metropolitan Zachariah Mar Nicholavos has been nominated for election as ruling metropolitan of the Northeastern American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The Holy Synod will consider the nomination at its session today. More here.

Egyptian Court Acquits Accomplices of Nag Hammadi Murderer

As Copts protest the Egyptian Army's attacks on Anba Bishoi and Anba Makary Monasteries and the martyrdom of Fr. Daoud Boutros, an Egyptian court has acquitted the two accomplices of the man responsible for the murder of six Copts and a Muslim in Nag Hammadi in January 2010.

Upon learning of the verdict, which issued the death penalty for the murderer, Bishop Kyrillos of Nag Hammadi of the Coptic Orthodox Church said that the ruling demonstrated that "the blood of a Christian is worth nothing." It is believed that the death sentence was imposed because of the death of the Muslim, who was a security guard at the church that was attacked. More on the ruling here.

The names of the six New Martyrs of Nag Hammadi are Abanub, Aiman (Macarius), Bishoi (Paisius), Boula (Paula), Mina (Menas), and Rafik (Clement). Most were in their teens and all were under thirty.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Coptic Orthodox Priest Murdered in Upper Egypt

A Coptic Orthodox priest, Fr. Daoud Boutros, has been found murdered in his apartment in Shotb, Upper Egypt. Fr. Daoud had been accused on Islamist websites of evangelizing Muslims and was stabbed 22 times before being beheaded.

Following the news of Fr. Daoud's death yesterday Copts demonstrated in Tahrir Square to protest his death and the action taken by the Egyptian Army against Anba Bishoi Monastery in Wadi Natrun. More here.

First Greek Orthodox Church in Alaska Built

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has built its first church in Alaska. The Alaskan Orthodox Church had generally been the one exception to the fractured nature of Orthodoxy in North America, remaining united under the American Orthodox Church (formerly the Russian Orthodox Metropolia). In recent decades, however, small Antiochian, Serbian, and Bulgarian (and now Greek) Orthodox communities have been established in the state, bringing the jurisdiction of Old World Orthodox Churches to the region. More on the new Greek Orthodox church in Anchorage can be found here.

Iraqi Christian Leaders Appeal to WCC

A delegation of various Iraqi Christian leaders including Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Addai II of Seleucia-Ctesiphon of the Ancient Church of the East, Archbishop Avak (Asadourian) of Baghdad of the Armenian Orthodox Church, and Metropolitan Mar Gewargis (Sliwa) of Baghdad of the Assyrian Church of the East has gone to the World Council of Churches to ask for help in improving the security situation of Christians in Iraq. More here.

Egyptian Army Injures 6 While Destroying Monastery Wall

The Egyptian Army has removed a wall built at St. Paisius' Monastery in Wadi Natrun, injuring six monks in the process. Under Egyptian law any construction or repairs by Orthodox Christians require the authorization of the national government, making even the most minor repairs a long and drawn out process. Following the incident at Anba Bishoi some 2,000 Copts demonstrated in Cairo's Tahrir Square this past Wednesday. More here.

Day of the Defenders of the Fatherland

On this Day of the Defenders of the Fatherland, originally a Soviet holiday to commemorate the soldiers who died during the Great Patriotic War/World War II, commemorative services and events have taken place throughout the former USSR and at monuments to the Great Patriotic War abroad. More here (for Russia), here (for Ukraine), here (for Belarus), here (for Armenia), and here (for Bulgaria).

Russian, Finnish Orthodox Bishops Concelebrate in Helsinki Cathedral

A delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church led by Bishop Lazar (Gurkin) of Narva, an auxiliary of the Estonian Orthodox Church, concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with Bishop Arseny (Heikkinen) of Joensuu of the Finnish Orthodox Church at Helsinki's famous Cathedral of the Dormition. More here.

Ukrainian Orthodox Bishop Consecrates Air Force Church in Vasylkiv

On the 70th anniversary of the Vasylkiv training center of the Ukrainian Air Force, Bishop Panteleimon (Povoroznyuk) of Vasylkiv (an auxiliary to Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev and All Ukraine) consecrated a church at the center in the name of St. Sergius of Radonezh. More here.

Finnish Orthodox Archbishop Leads Ecumenical Delegation in Constantinople

Archbishop Leo (Makkonen) of Kuopio, Karelia, and Finland of the Finnish Orthodox Church is leading a mixed ecumenical delegation of Orthodox, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics from Finland on a visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. More here and here.

Catholicos Aram Visiting Qatar

Catholics Aram I (Keshishian) of Sis of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia is on a visit to Doha, Qatar, at the invitation of Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar. During his stay in Qatar, Catholicos Aram is meeting with Emir Hamad and members of his government, speaking at Georgetown University's Doha campus, and visiting with the faithful of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Doha. More here.

Catholicos to Consecrate Metro Dallas Church

During his upcoming visit to the United States, Catholicos Moran Mar Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church will consecrate the newly completely Church of St. Mary in metro Dallas, Texas, this coming May. More here.

"Shaikh Zekaryas"

A fascinating survey of the life of an Ethiopian Muslim sheikh who led roughly 10,000 Ethiopian Muslims into Orthodoxy during the reign of Emperor Menelik II can be found here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Consensus on Autocephaly, Autonomy Procedures; Diptychs Remain Unresolved

The Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission meeting in Chambesy, Switzerland, has confirmed that autonomy will be granted to a particular region by its mother Orthodox Church, whilst autocephaly shall be granted by the mother Orthodox Church following the receipt of the approval of all the first hierarchs of its sister Local Orthodox Churches. The main issue still under discussion at Chambesy at the moment would appear to be the ranking of the first hierarchs of the Local Orthodox Churches in the diptychs. More here.

Orthodox Church in Montenegro Responds to Property Dispute in Cetinje

In the wake of another attempt by the uncanonical Montenegrin Orthodox Church to seize the property of the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro in the royal capital of Cetinje the Metropolitanate of Cetinje has issued a press release reviewing the history of the Orthodox Church in Montenegro as well as its legal standing and the illegality of the Montenegrin government's interference in the dispute on the side of the defrocked priest who leads the Montenegrin Orthodox Church. More here.

Cossack Atamans Visit Mount Athos

This past weekend Bishop Kirill (Pokrovskiy) of Pavlovskiy Posad, head of the Moscow Patriarchate's commission on cooperation with the Cossacks, led a pilgrimage of Cossack atamans to Mount Athos. During the pilgrimage the group visited St. Panteleimon's Monastery together with other Athonite monastic communities. The pilgrimage was the first of its kind and was made with the blessing of Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow and All Rus'. More here.

Debate in Albania Continues

Albanian Orthodox and Albanian Muslims remain united in their opposition to proposed legislation that would ban the wearing of religious symbols in public schools. During the Communist era that followed World War II in Eastern Europe the Albanian government was the most harshly anti-religious in the world, eventually completely liquidating formal religious structures and declaring Albania the world's first atheist country. Consequently Albania's religions are concerned that the proposed ban is just the first step back towards the outright oppression or ban of religion in the country. More here.

Cleveland Monastery Abbot Resigns Following Discovery of Weapons

Abbot John (Henry), the superior of a Ukrainian Orthodox monastery and house of mercy in Cleveland, Ohio, has resigned his abbacy and oversight of the house of mercy after investigators found 230 guns and 2,000 rounds of ammunition on Monastery property in the Cleveland area. More on that here.

My only personal experience with Fr. John came from a weekend retreat sponsored by a Chicagoland parish of the Kiev Patriarchate, at which Fr. John was the main speaker. I spent most of the weekend trying to figure out what was Orthodox about standing in a circle holding hands or advocating being "slain in the Spirit," but I spent the rest of the time wondering how on earth either the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA or the Kiev Patriarchate could be so lax in their clergy standards that they could allow such men to become parish priests, much less the abbots of monasteries...

The above aside, St. Herman's House of Mercy (attached to Fr. John's St. Herman's Monastery) has done a tremendous amount of good in Cleveland. That shall continue under the supervision of an interim administrative committee, but it's to be hoped that both the Monastery and its house of mercy will somehow survive this and grow from it.

New Website for Ethiopian Orthodox Parish in Seattle

The seat of the Archdiocese of Washington and Australia of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in Exile, St. Gabriel's Church in Seattle, Washington, has a new website.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Patriarch Theophilos Visits Jordan

Patriarch Theophilos III (Giannopoulos) of Jerusalem has visited Jordan despite the recent unrest there to attend an interfaith meeting led by a member of the Jordanian royal family and to visit the newly established Monastery of St. John the Baptist. More here.

Hilandar Abbot Meets with Ecumenical Patriarch

The recently elected abbot of the Serbian-speaking Hilandar Monastery of the Entrance of the Theotokos on Mount Athos, Archimandrite Metodije, has met with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at the Phanar to discuss the state of the monastery. During the course of Fr. Metodije's visit to Constantinople he concelebrated the Holy Liturgy with Patriarch Bartholomew in the city's Church of St. Haralambus. More here.

Fr. Metodije was elected abbot of Hilandar following the death of Archimandrite Mojsije (Zharkovich), Hilandar's previous abbot, in March 2010. Following their election it is customary for the abbots of Mount Athos' imperial monasteries (the ruling monasteries represented on the Mountain's Holy Council) and sketes to visit the Phanar as they are under the direct oversight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Memorial Served for Patriarch Justinian in Bucharest

A memorial was held this morning for Patriarch Justinian (Marina) of Bucharest at Bucharest's Radu Voda Monastery, where he was buried following his repose in 1977. Patriarch Justinian was the third patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church and its first under Communism. He did a great deal to develop and strengthen the Church of Romania, but it was also during his patriarchate that the Romanian Catholics were returned to the Church with the encouragement of the Romanian Communist government and schisms caused in the Romanian Orthodox Church in North America and Western Europe. More here.

PM Vows to End Anti-Muslim Discrimination in Grece

During his recent visit to a Turkish Muslim village in Greek-occupied Thrace Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece committed himself to addressing the challenges faced by Greece's Muslims in public life. Among other things this would mean more Turkish-language services in Thrace and national efforts to end discrimination against Muslims in the majority Orthodox country. More here.

Tajikistan Considers Ban on Youth in Religious Organizations

The government of Tajikistan is considering banning citizens under 18-years of age from attending religious services in mosques, churches, and other centers of worship. The legislation under consideration is prompted by the rise of Islamism in the country, but would prompt many of the country's remaining non-Muslims to immigrate to Russia and other countries in the region that allow freedom of worship. More here.

Metropolitan Nicholas Turns 75

The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is celebrating the birthday of its diocesan hierarch, Metropolitan Nicholas (Smisko) of Amissus, with a thanksgiving at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Eis polla eti despota! More on Metropolitan Nicholas' birthday celebrations can be found here.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently ran an article on Metropolitan Nicholas and his ecumenical involvement with the Ruthenian Catholic Church in the United States that can be found here.

In Memoriam: Fr. Petroniu Tanase

The former abbot of the Romanian-speaking Skete of St. John the Baptist on Mount Athos, Protosingel Petroniu (Tanase), fell asleep in the Lord today. Fr. Petroniu, born in Neamt County in Romania, was a monk at the Neamts Monastery and studied theology, mathematics, and philosophy before leaving for Mount Athos in 1978. He served as abbot of Prodromou until his recent retirement, at which time he was replaced by Hieromonk Atanasie (Floroiu). May his memory be eternal! Veşnica pomenire! More here.

Russian Prisons Opened to Orthodox Church

Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow and A.A. Reymer, head of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, have signed an agreement allowing the Russian Orthodox Church to provide pastoral care to prisoners throughout the country. Under the agreement the Church will be able to minister to the spiritual needs of prisoners and also maintain churches and chapels at prisons as need dictates. More here.

Romanian Orthodox Church to be Built in Guadalajara

This coming Sunday Bishop Timotei (Lauran) of Madrid of the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Spain and Portugal will bless the cornerstone for the Church of St. John Cassian in Guadalajara, Spain. More here.

Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission Meets in Chambesy

The Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission begins meeting today in Chambesy, Switzerland, to discuss the procedure from granting/recognizing autocephaly (which has been varied over the centuries) and the order of the diptychs (which currently place young churches like Romania over much older churches like Georgia and Bulgaria). Fourteen of the fifteen autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches will be represented at the meeting.

The Russian Orthodox delegation to Chambesy includes Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk of the Moscow Patriarchate and Archbishop Mark (Arndt) of Berlin of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. More here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Metropolitan Mar Meelis Visits Lebanon, UAE

Metropolitan Mar Meelis (Zaia) of Sydney has concluded a month-long visit to the Assyrian faithful in Lebanon, who since the repose of Metropolitan Mar Narsai (D'Baz) a year ago have been under the Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand, and Lebanon of the Assyrian Church of the East.

During the course of his stay Metropolitan Mar Meelis supervised the efforts of the Church of the East in Lebanon to care for incoming refugees from Iraq and met with Metropolitan Mar Thephilos (Saliba) of Mount Lebanon of the Syriac Orthodox Church to discuss the common heritage of the two churches. More on his time in Lebanon can be found here.

On his way back to Australia from Lebanon Metropolitan Mar Meelis visited the faithful of the Church of the East in the United Arab Emirates. His flock there consists of both Assyrians and Indians who remained faithful to the Church of the East following the arrival of Roman Catholicism and Syriac Orthodoxy in Kerala. More on that visit here.

Malankara Orthodox Holy Synod Hears Appeal on English-Language Service Books

During its winter session, which started today, the Holy Synod of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church will be considering an appeal from a senior clergyman of the Church in the United States that concrete steps be taken immediately to publish the services of the West Syrian Rite followed by the Malankara Orthodox Church in English so that the Church's youth abroad aren't lost to sects. The Church has considered the issue in the past, but nothing has yet to materialize on an official level. More here.

Romanian Orthodox Church in Edinburgh?

During the course of this past weekend's visit of Metropolitan Joseph (Pop) of Paris and the Metropolitanate of Western and Southern Europe to Scotland the Romanian Orthodox mission in Edinburgh discussed with him the possibility of obtaining a church and establishing a permanent parish in the city. More here.

Patriarch Bartholomew Receives Russian Delegation

Over the weekend Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhontonis) of Constantinople received a delegation of the Russian government to Turkey at the Phanar. During the course of their meeting the state of the Orthodox Church in the country was discussed as well as ways to improve its standing under the Turkish government. More here.

Patriarch Irinej Serves in Libertyville

This past Saturday Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovic) of Pech concelebrated the Divine Liturgy and the 6-month memorial for Metropolitan Christopher (Kovacevich) of Libertyville with Bishops Longin (Krcho) of Nova Grachanica and Maksim (Vasilijevic) of Alhambra as well as clergy of the Serbian, Russian, and American Orthodox Churches in Libertyville's Cathedral of St. Sava. More here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Memoriam: Bishop Tikhon of Kremenchuk

The funeral of Bishop Tikhon (Zhylyakov) of Kremenchuk and Lubens'kiy of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church was served today in Kremenchuk's Holy Dormition Cathedral by Archbishop Yefrem (Kytsay) of Kryvoriz and Nikopol' and Bishop Yevlogiy of Sumy and Okhtyrka. Vladyka Tikhon, who was 42-years old at the time of his repose, was ordained a deacon in 1992 and a priest in 1993. Following his consecration to the episcopacy in 2009 he served the Eparchy of Kremenchuk in central Ukraine.

Following the conclusion of today's funeral services Bishop Tikhon was buried under the altar of his cathedral. May his memory be eternal! Вечная память! More on his life and funeral can be found here.

Bishop Sebastian of Karaganda Consecrated in Moscow

This morning Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow and twelve other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan and Russia concelebrated the consecration of Bishop Sebastian (Osokin) of Karaganda and Shakhtinskiy in Moscow's Christ the Savior Church. Axios! More here.

New Parish Priest in Bergen, Norway

A permanent priest has been assigned to St. Philothea of Arges' Church in Bergen, Norway, by Bishop Macarie of Northern Europe of the Romanian Orthodox Church. More here.

Syriac Orthodox Patriarchal Delegation Visits Catholicos

As part of their recent visit to India a delegation from the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Syriac Orthodox Church met with Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I at the headquarters of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church in Puthencuriz. More here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bishop Iakovos Consecrated in Sydney

Fr. Iakovos (Tsigounis) has been consecrated Bishop of Meletoupolis in Sydney! Axios! His consecration coincided with the 25th anniversary of St. Andrew's Theological College on the compound of Holy Annunciation Cathedral in Redfern, New South Wales, and was well attended. Bishop Iakovos' title is the same as that held by Archbishop Stylianos (Harkianakis) of Sydney during his service under the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Greek-occupied Macedonia.

The newly consecrated Bishop Iakovos will be serving under Archbishop Stylianos in the Australian states of Victoria and Tasmania. God grant him many, many years in His service!

Greek Foreign Minister Visits Greek Orthodox Archbishop in NYC

During his visit to the United Nations the Foreign Minister of Greece, Dimitris Droutsas, met with Archbishop Demetrios (Trakatellis) of New York at the archdiocesan offices in the city. More here.

Catholicos Baselios Thomas I Visiting Australia and New Zealand

Catholicos Abun Mor Baselios Thomas I has begun a pastoral visit to the parishes of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church in Australia and New Zealand. More here.

Serbian Government Slows Return of Religious Properties

The various religious organizations are protesting the Serbian government apparent efforts to slow or obstruct the return of properties alienated from religious organizations under the Communist regime. More here.

Catholicos Aram Visiting Cyprus

Catholicos Aram I (Keshishian) of Sis and Cilicia of the Armenian Orthodox Church is on a pastoral visit to the Armenian Orthodox Church in Cyprus. More here.

Interview with Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech

A fascinating Bulgarian-language interview with Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church about the Bulgarian Diaspora in the Komi Republic of the Russian Federation can be found here. The Russian Orthodox Church recently asked the Church of Bulgaria to send a priest to Komi to care for the Bulgarians there and organize a Bulgarian-language school, the prospects for which Metropolitan Gabriel was investigating during his recent visit to Russia.

Appeal for Our Lady of Kazan Church on the Russian River

An appeal has been issued for Our Lady of Kazan Church in Guerneville, California, by the Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. More here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Icon of Charles I

The monthly newsletter of St. Mark's Church in Denver has an icon of Anglican King Charles I of England (killed for his perceived sympathy for Roman Catholicism) in its February edition. Check it out here. Francis of Assisi, Charles I - perhaps Mahatma Gandhi could be the next candidate for addition to the repertoire of Orthodox iconographers?

Chisinau Theological Academy Introduces Pedagogical Courses

The Chisinau Theological Academy of the Moldovan Orthodox Church has introduced courses in the psychology of teaching to prepare students for teaching religion in Moldova's primary and secondary schools. More here.

Opening of New Kievan Cathedral to be Held April 2011

A meeting of the committee supervising the construction of the Cathedral of the Holy Resurrection in Kiev has been held in the city. The completion of the cathedral is to be crowned by the celebration of the Paschal Divine Liturgy by Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev this coming April. More here.

Patriarch Cyril Speaks Against Legalism

Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow has called on the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church not to turn the Gospel into a system of rules and regulations that associate the Church in the people's mind "with a system of restrictions that...obscure the essence of the divine message." More here.

Macedonian Orthodox Holy Synod Calls for an End to Skopje Violence

At its meeting this week the Holy Synod of the independent Macedonian Orthodox Church has called for an end to conflict between the Macedonian and Albanian residents of the country over the construction of a church and museum in the Skopje Fortress, pointing out that the authorities responsible for the construction did not obtain the blessing of the Archbishop of Ohrid, who serves as Metropolitan of Skopje, and thus are not building a church for the use of the Macedonian Orthodox faithful. More here.

Constantinople Property Returned to Armenian Orthodox Church

The Turkish government has returned a property in Constantinople confiscated from the Armenian Orthodox Church there. Since the passage of a 2008 law paving the way for the return of properties confiscated by Turkey from its religious minorities since 1974 applications have been submitted for the return of 410 properties, of which 96 have been given back. More here.

Plans for Sevastopol's First Mosque Approved

Plans to build a mosque in central Sevastopol', Ukraine, have been approved by the city's government. Although in an area formerly part of the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire, Sevastopol' was founded following the Russian Empire's conquest of the Khanate and the mosque will thus be the city's first. Most Muslims in the Crimea are Tatars expelled from the territory during World War II and mosque construction is therefore a contentious issues for the area's Slav majority, which generally opposes the return of the Crimean Tatars to their homeland. More here.

Malankara Orthodox Holy Synod to Meet

The Holy Synod of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is to meet this coming Monday in Kottayam to discuss the life of the Church and celebrate the feast of St. Dionysius of Vattasseril. Names for commemoration at the festal Divine Liturgy can be submitted by e-mail at saintsprayer at gmail.com. More here and here.

Nameday Celebrations of Jerusalem Mission Head

Yesterday's nameday celebrations for the head of the patriarchal Russian Orthodox Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, Archimandrite Isidor (Minayev), included members of both the patriarchal and synodal Missions as well as Bishop Agapit (Gorachek) of Stuttgart of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. More here.

Armenian Orthodox Church in Diyarbakir to Reopen

A large church in upper Mesopotamia (modern day southeastern Turkey), St. Cyriacus' Church in Diyarbakir, is being renovated and will by reopened by the Armenian Orthodox Church of Constantinople later this year for use as a pilgrimage center as the city's once large Armenian community was completely wiped out by the area's Kurds and Turks during the Armenian Genocide. The church will quite possibly be the largest in use in the Middle East. More here and here.

Funding Sought for Old Ritualist Center in Moscow

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk met yesterday with businessmen to garner support for the planned center for the study of the Old Rite, which will be established at Moscow's Holy Protection Church. More here.

Nomination of Bishop-elect of Karaganda Celebrated in Moscow

Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) together with other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church celebrated the rite of nomination of Archimandrite Sebastian (Osokin), who is Bishop-elect of Karaganda and Shachtinsky of the Russian Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan. Axios! More here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ratchaburi Monastery Opened in Thailand

Holy Dormition Monastery in Ratchaburi, Thailand, has been officially opened! Some beautiful pictures from the opening of the Monastery and the blessing of its church together a full write-up of the ceremonies in Russian can be found here . So far the Monastery's brotherhood includes novices from Laos, Romania, and Russia as well as from Thailand itself. The full consecration of the Monastery's church is expected to celebrated by Archbishop Mark of Yegorevsk, auxiliary to the patriarch, in November of this year.

Californian Catholic, Presbyterian pastors Concelebrate Mass

This past Sunday a Roman Catholic priest concelebrated Mass for the parish church he was filling in at in the Diocese of Orange with a Presbyterian pastor, who took communion and then assisted in distributing communion to the Roman Catholic faithful present. More here. Hat tip to Ad Orientem for posting this!

Ukrainian Catholic Primate Crucial to Relations with Russian Orthodox Church?

Roman Catholics believe that the next primate of the Ukrainian Catholic Church will be crucial in determining whether Pope Benedict XVI of Rome and Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow meet in the near future. Some Russian Orthodox would counter that the very existence of a primate of the Ukrainian Catholic Church (not to mention of the Ukrainian Catholic Church itself) is an obstacle to the two meeting. For the former perspective see here.

Pope Theodore Celebrates Nameday

Pope Theodoros II (Horeftakis) of Alexandria celebrated his nameday today at Alexandria's Church of St. Sabbas the Sanctified, concelebrating the festal Divine Liturgy with Archbishop Nicholas of Hermopolis and Bishops Gabriel of Mareotis and Niphon of Babylon. More here.

Russian President Meets with Roman Pope

President Dmitriy Medvedev of Russia met with Pope Benedict XVI of Rome today at the Vatican. More here.

Patriarch Irinej Begins Visit to the USA

Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovic) of Pech has begun his visit to the Metropolitanate of Libertyville of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA. Since the death of Metropolitan Christopher (Kovacevich) of Libertyville, Patriarch Irinej has served as locum tenens of the metropolitanate. More here and here.

Quote of the Day: Fr. Michael Pomazansky

The unity of the Church is not violated because of temporary divisions of a non-dogmatic nature. Differences between churches arise frequently out of insufficient or incorrect information. Also, sometimes a temporary breaking of communion is caused by the personal errors of individual hierarchs who stand at the head of one or another local church, or it is caused by their violation of the canons of the Church, or by the violation of the submission of one territorial ecclesiastical group to another in accordance with anciently established tradition. Moreover, life shows us the possibility of disturbances within a local church which hinder the normal communion of other churches with the given local church until the outward manifestation and triumph of the defenders of authentic Orthodox truth. Finally, the bond between churches can sometimes be violated for a long time by political conditions, as has often happened in history. In such cases, the division touches only outward relations, but does not touch or violate inward spiritual unity.

EOTC Commits to Assist Development of Gambela

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church has committed to work together with Ethiopia's Gambela State to promote peace and development in the region. The Chief of State of Gambela, Omod Ubong, welcomed the Church's commitment at the inauguration of a boarding school in Gambela city by Patriarch Abune P'awlos of Addis Abeba.

Gambela's native ethnic groups are closely related to peoples in neighboring Sudan and suffered greatly from the slave trade conducted by both Arab Muslim states in the Sudan and Egypt and by the Orthodox Christian Ethiopian Empire. Taking this into account it is only reasonable that the Church as the last surviving institution of imperial Ethiopia help Gambela's peoples in their ongoing recovery from the effects of decades (possibly centuries?) of slave raids.

More here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Protests Over Viennese Church Transfer Continue

Protests in Vienna continue over a church there that was recently given to the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Sava. Many of the former Roman Catholic parish's 800 members have signed a petition for the church's return. Oddly enough, the parish was apparently one of the better attended in its district, which makes one wonder why the Archdiocese of Vienna chose it for transfer to the Church of Serbia. The ethnic makeup of the former parish (which was/is largely Polish) in a country of a very different ethnicity makes the whole situation doubly interesting. More here.

Appeal for St. Luke's Church in Warners, NY

A parish of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, St. Luke's Church in Warners, New York, has suffered extensive damage to its community hall's roof due to a collapse caused by snow. For more on the accident or to donate to the upcoming repairs please see here.

Archbishop Elisha Serves in Bodiam

On the Muscovite Sunday of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh of the Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland celebrated the festal services at the patriarchal Monastery of St. Elizabeth and the Holy New Martyrs in Bodiam, England. More here.

Icon of Our Lady of Sorrows Visiting Australia

The wonderworking icon of the Mother of God 'Softener of Hardened Hearts' is visiting the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Australia. In the West this depiction of the Mother of God is known as 'Our Lady of Sorrows' as it depicts seven swords symbolizing the seven sorrows of the Mother of God. More on the icon can be found here. Its itinerary in Australia can be found here.

Rioters Charged in Skopje

The Macedonian government has filed criminal charges against 60 people involved in the riot over church construction at the Skopje Fortress. More here.

Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod Issues Statement Supporting Egyptian Revolution

On the feast of the Lord's Presentation in the Temple Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) and the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement on the recent events in Egypt, "[praising] Egypt's honest youth" and saying that it believes "that Egypt should be a democratic civil country." More here.

Romanian Orthodox Holy Synod Meets in Bucharest

The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church opened its first session of the year today with the singing of Memory Eternal for the newly reposed Metropolitan Bartolomeu (Anania) of Cluj. During his introductory talk Patriarch Daniel (Ciobotea) announced that St. Herodion of the Lainici Monastery would be glorified this year. More here.

Update: The Holy Synod also took decisions to undertake a national collection for the building of a patriarchal cathedral in Bucharest (the construction of which is underway), to appoint hierarchs for a joint committee with the Romanian Catholic Church to resume their past dialogue, and to begin a dialogue with the Serbian Orthodox Church concerning the Church of Romania's uncanonical incursions into the territory of the Church of Serbia. More on that and other decisions taken at the Holy Synod's recent session can be found here.

Newlyweds Blessed in Echmiadzin on the Presentation

At the end of his celebration of the Presentation of the Lord this past Monday Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin served a special service to bless newlywed couples. More here.

Pictured is Catholicos Karekin blessed a couple in Echmiadzin.

The Salvation of Nineveh

It displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord...but the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left?

Pictured is the Monastery of St. Hormisdas near ancient Nineveh (now Mosul) in northern Iraq, formerly a center of monasticism in the Church of the East and now under the Chaldean Catholic Church.

Greek Orthodox Church Refuses to Pay Assessment

A parish of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston, St. George's Church in Lynn, Massachusetts, has refused to pay a raise in its assessment, saying that the metropolis and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America are, in essence, engaged in extortion. More here.

St. Ansgar of Hamburg

Joyous feast! St. Ansgar, first Archbishop of Hamburg and Apostle of the North, was responsible for expanding the evangelization of the Danish and Swedish nations in the early and mid-800s. More on his life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

St. Severus of Antioch

Joyous feast! St. Severus is one of the great Fathers of the Church of Antioch. He was enthroned as Patriarch of Antioch in 512 as the divisions over Nestorianism and the Council of Chalcedon were hardening. During the first part of his patriarchate he did not suffer persecution, but following the enthronement of a new, pro-Chalcedon emperor St. Severus was persecuted for his opposition to Chalcedon and even threatened with death. Thanks to the intervention of the empress, St. Theodora (a former dancer venerated by both those for and against Chalcedon), St. Severus was able to escape to Egypt, where he visited the desert monasteries disguised as a simple monk. He fell asleep in the city of Sakha in 538. More here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

German Theologians Once Again Challenge Roman Catholic Church

A group of 144 Roman Catholic theologians from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have called on the Church of Rome to continue reforming itself. Among other things the theologians' statement recommended dropping clerical celibacy, conciliarity in ecclesiastical life, and the ordination of women to the priesthood. More here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ROCOR Schism Commemorating Deposed Patriarch of Jerusalem

The recent 2007 schism from the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad led by Metropolitan Agathangel (Pashkovskiy) of Odessa has begun commemorating deposed Patriarch Irinaios of Jerusalem, apparently with his blessing. What this means, if anything, for the unity of the Church of Jerusalem, if anything, remains to be seen. More here.

In Memoriam: Bishop Pavlos of Maspeth

I just found out that Bishop Pavlos (Metroupoulos) of Maspeth of the Milan Synod, an Old Calendrist movement in Western Europe and North America, fell asleep on 3 February. Bishop Pavlos, the grandson of a priest from Georgia, died of congestive heart failure at 85-years old. More here.

Russian Orthodox Dioceses to Open Integration Centers

Several dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia are considering opening integration centers for new immigrants in cooperation with the Federal Migration Service to teach immigrants the Russian language and about Russian culture to ease their transition to the country. More here.

Impact of Upcoming KFOR Troop Reduction

As of 1 March the international Kosovo Force (KFOR) will only protect four of Kosovo's monasteries, transferring the other properties under its protection to the Kosovo Police Service. More here.

"Iconographer Creating Colorful Frescoes at Jackson Church"

A lovely article on the frescoes being painted at my parish's sister church, St. Demetrius' in Jackson, Michigan, can be found here. I visited St. Demetrius' regularly before the new iconostas and frescoes were begun, but since they've been put in the church has been completely transformed and turned into a beautiful example of Orthodox iconography in southern Michigan.

Church of Ukraine Urges Return of Lost Properties

The mainstream Ukrainian Orthodox Church has called for the Ukrainian government to pass legislation clearing the way for the return of church properties to their rightful owners. The spokesman for the Church of Ukraine specifically singled out the schismatic Kiev Patriarchate as a culprit in the illegal expropriation of church properties and funds in the 1990s when his organization enjoyed government support.

The cathedral of the Kiev Patriarchate, St. Volodymyr's in Kiev, is one of many properties illegally taken by the organization when it broke away from the Moscow Patriarchate following the decision of the Holy Synod not to elect Metropolitan Philaret (Denisenko) of Kiev as Patriarch of Moscow. It was built under the Russian Empire through the donations of peasants from throughout Rus' and was also the cathedra of the Church of Ukraine under the Soviet Yoke, so its alienation from the Church of Rus' is keenly felt in Kiev and elsewhere.

More here.

The Prayer of St. Jonah

I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.
Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.
For You cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the floods surrounded me;
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
The waters surrounded me, even to my soul;
The deep closed around me;
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
I went down to the moorings of the mountains;
The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord, my God.
When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the Lord;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.
Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own mercy.
But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.

Presentation of the Lord in the Temple

Joyous feast! С праздником! This great feast is a double feast of the Lord and of the Mother of God and is sometimes known as the Purification of the Virgin as a result.

More on the feast can be found here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Greek Orthodox Church Sues New York Port Authority

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has sued the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for its abrogation of a long-standing agreement between itself and the Church of St. Nicholas to rebuild the church at the Ground Zero site. St. Nicholas' Church was the only house of worship destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. More here.

Metropolitan Hilarion Begins Visit to the Czech Republic

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Church began a visit today to Metropolitan Christopher (Pulets) of Prague of the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church. In addition to celebrating services at the Russian Orthodox representation church in Karlovy Vary Metropolitan Hilarion will also meet with state authorities of the Czech Republic and be presented with a Czech translation of his book "The Spiritual World of St. Isaac of Syria." More here.

Jobs: Chicago Cathedral Seeking Choir Director

Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois, is looking for a part-time choir director. The cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Midwestern America of the American Orthodox Church. More here.

Clashes Over New Church in Skopje

Eight were injured yesterday in clashes between Macedonians and Albanians in Skopje over the planned construction of a church and museum on the site of the Skopje Fortress. The site is in a predominantly Albanian district of the Macedonian capital and since the construction plans were announced the district's Albanian residents have been demanding that a mosque also be included in the new complex. The Macedonian government has so far refused the plans as the new church is being built on the foundations of a preexisting 14th century church and the fortress was never home to a mosque. More here.

A Homily on St. Brigid

A lovely sermon about St. Brigid can be found here.

Metropolitan Mar Militheos Hospitalized

Metropolitan Mar Militheos (Yuhanon) of Thumpamon of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church was hospitalized yesterday and is currently in the ICU at the Pushpagiri Hospital. Please pray for Metropolitan Mar Militheos' quick recovery! Updates on Metropolitan Mar Militheos' health should be posted here.

Founding of New Serbian Orthodox Diocese Celebrated in Krusevac

Services were held yesterday to celebrate the inauguration of the newest eparchy of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Diocese of Krusevac. Bishop Jovan of Shumadija, administrator of the new diocese, led the celebrations in Krusevac's Cathedral of St. George. More here.

Belorussian Orthodox Youth Association Meets

The Youth Association of the Belorussian Orthodox Church met today in central Belarus. Attended by 150 representatives from all the dioceses of the Orthodox Church in Belarus, the Association meeting was opened by Bishop Artemiy of Hrodno with a greeting from Metropolitan Philaret (Vakhromeyev) of Minsk and All Belarus. More here.

Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Celebrates 30th Anniversary in Bouchrieh, Lebanon

This past Tuesday Metropolitan Mar Theophilos (Saliba) of Tripoli and Mount Lebanon of the Syriac Orthodox Church celebrated the 30th anniversary of his consecration to the episcopacy. In addition to Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I (Iwas) of Antioch and other Syriac Orthodox hierarchs and clergy and representatives of the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia participated in the festivities. More here.

National Church Council Meets in Bucharest

The annual meeting of the National Church Council of the Romanian Orthodox Church took place today at the patriarchal palace in Bucharest. The National Church Council meets between sessions of the full Holy Synod and the Church National Assembly and includes one clergyman and layperson from each metropolitanate of the Romanian Orthodox Church. It is responsible for overseeing the development and direction of church life in Romania. More here.

Three Holy Hierarchs' Church in Paris Celebrates 80th Anniversary

This past Saturday the Church of the Three Holy Hierarchs in Paris, seat of the Diocese of Korsun of the patriarchal Russian Orthodox Church, celebrated the 80th anniversary of its foundation. The festal services were concelebrated by Bishop Nestor (Sirotenko) of Korsun, Bishop Michael (Donskoff) of Geneva of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and clergymen of the patriarchal and synodal Russian Orthodox Churches, the Russian Orthodox Exarchate of Western Europe of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. More here.

American and Russian Orthodox Metropolitans Concelebrate in Dallas

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Church concelebrated the Divine Liturgy this past Sunday with Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) in the Cathedral of St. Seraphim of Sarov in Dallas, Texas. More here.

Pictured are Metropolitans Jonah and Hilarion with Archbishop Dmitri (Royster), retired Archbishop of Dallas of the OCA.

An Excerpt from "Thoughts on Fasting and Temperance" by St. Sebastian

Such is the mercy of God's condescension towards us, that we should be again restored to the former dignity, which we had enjoyed through His love to man, and which mercy we did not carefully keep. Fasting is a type of the future life, an imitation of the incorruptible existence...Do not flee from the difficulty of fasting, but set up hope against the trial, and you will obtain the desired abstinence from food. Repeat to yourself the words of the pious: "Fasting is bitter, but paradise is sweet; thirst is tormenting, but the spring, from which he who drinks will thirst never again, is at hand." The body is importunate, but the immaterial soul is much stronger—strength is dead, but nigh is the resurrection. Let us say to our much-craving stomach what the Lord said to the tempter: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God (Luke 4:4). Fasting is not hunger, but a little abstinence from food, not an inevitable punishment, but a voluntary continence, not a servile necessity, but a free selection of the wise. Pray and you will be strengthened; call, and a prompt helper will come to your assistance.

Fast of Nineveh

Today is the first day of the Fast of Nineveh. While the Roman Orthodox world (Arabs, Greeks, Russians, et cetera) celebrates this as a fast-free week the Copts, Ethiopians, Syrians, Eritreans, and Indians fast for three days in memory of God's mercy to the city of Nineveh and the preaching of St. Jonah there. The Fast originated amongst the Assyrians living around the site of ancient Nineveh and spread westwards from the Church of the East to the Syriac Orthodox Church and its sister churches in Africa. More here. God help you all whatever you are doing this week as we draw closer to the Great and Holy Fast!

St. Brigid of Kildare

Joyous feast! More on St. Brigid's life can be found here. May her blessing and prayers be with us!

"O God, Whose dwelling place is the pure in heart, grant that we who honor the memory of St. Brigid, your faithful one, may have the grace to follow the example of her blameless life!"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

First Church in Arunachal Pradesh Consecrated

The first Orthodox church in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh has been consecrated by Metropolitan Joseph Mar Dionysius of Calcutta of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. More here.

"St. Valentine's Day: The Feast of Debauchery"

The Kiev Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has jumped on the bandwagon in Russia and the Ukraine condemning the celebration of St. Valentine's day in any way by Orthodox Christians in the former member republics of the Soviet Union.

The article against the holiday posted on the Kiev Patriarchate's website goes into the history of St. Valentine's day celebrations and its pagan equivalent in detail and uses the pagan holiday as a primary reason for forbidding the observance of St. Valentine's day, something rather ironic given how many pagan customs have been christianized in historic Orthodox Christian countries to combat and supplant pagan practices and festivals. Apparently such things are appropriate when done in the ancient Christian East, but not the ancient Christian West.

The Ukrainian-language article by Stepan Voznyak posted on the Kiev Patriarchate's website, "St. Valentine's Day: The Feast of Debauchery," can be found here.

St. Petka's Monastery in NSW Completed

Construction of St. Petka's Monastery in New South Wales is nearly complete and will soon be home to a Macedonian Orthodox sisterhood. The Monastery has already become a focal point for pilgrimage, with nearly 10,000 pilgrims from Sydney and nearby Wollongong coming to celebrate Theophany this past January. Metropolitan Petar of Prespa, administrator of the Macedonian Orthodox Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, recently blessed the Monastery church's domes during a pastoral visit to Australia. More here.

New Ukrainian Orthodox Bishop Consecrated in Kiev

In keeping with a decision taken at the recent meeting of the Local Synod of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Archimandrite Philaret (Zverev) of the Church's Liturgical and Theological Commission was consecrated Bishop of Nova Kakhovka and Henichesk yesterday in the refectory Church of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius at the Kiev Caves Lavra. Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev concelebrated the service with several other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Axios! More on the consecration can be found here.

In Memoriam: Archbishop Abune Zena Marqos

Today marks the anniversary of the repose of Archbishop Abune Zena Marqos of Seattle of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in Exile. May his memory be eternal! More on his life and service to the Church of Ethiopia in both Ethiopia and the Diaspora can be found here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Metropolitan Mar Aprem of Adoor Enthroned Today

The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is celebrating the foundation of the Diocese of Adoor and Kadampanaadu in Kerala today. Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II is celebrating the inauguration of the diocese and the enthronement of its first ruling bishop, Metropolitan Zachariah Mar Aprem, at St. Thomas' Cathedrals in Adoor and Kadampanaadu. More here.

Medvedev Calls for Multiculturalism in Russia

During a visit to Bashkortostan, a member republic of the Russian Federation, President Dmitriy Medvedev called for a return to the more idealistic values of the Soviet Union that called for all of the country's many nations to work together to build a better future, also saying that it is "categorically unacceptable to allow into governmental service those who have a criminal record for crimes of an inter-ethnic nature." His statement comes as rising ethnic and religious tension continues to grow in Moscow and Russian Transcaucasia. More here.

Copts Concerned Over Egypt's Future

Copts remain concerned over the future of Egypt and their place in it even as the Egyptian Armed Forces have promised the country a smooth transition to democracy. More here.

Medvedev Calls for Regional Interfaith Councils

President Dmitriy Medvedev of Russia has called for the creation of regional interfaith councils so that religious organizations can participate in national efforts to reduce inter-ethnic tensions and conflict within the Russian Federation. More here.

"Evangelical Issues with Orthodoxy: Most Holy Mother of God"

A good survey of Evangelical Protestantism's approach to the Mother of God by a recent convert to Orthodox Christianity in Kenya can be found here.

Patriarch Irinej to Visit the USA

Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilović) of Pech of the Serbian Orthodox Church will begin his visit to the USA on 16 February at Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Libertyville, Illinois, whose rector he is until the Metropolitanate of Libertyville receives a new metropolitan. More here.

Three Holy Hierarchs

Joyous feast! С праздником! I must confess to find this day somewhat silly in its beginnings, but it is a wonderful feast nonetheless! More on its origins can be found here.

Western Orthodox Novice to be Blessed at St. Eanswythe's in Dorset

The last Sunday of this month a Western Orthodox missionary priest in the UK serving under Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will bless a novice at St. Eanswythe's Mission in Christchurch, Dorset, prior to the celebration of the Holy Mass. God grant her many years! More here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Metropolitan Hilarion Meets with George W. Bush

At the start of his visit to Dallas, Texas, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk met with former President George W. Bush of the United States, speaking with him for over an hour about the need for Orthodox Christians and Westerners to work together to preserve "traditional moral values" and presenting him with the first volume of his newly published book, Orthodoxy. More here. The visit comes shortly after news that Bush canceled a planned trip to Switzerland for fear that he would be brought to trial for crimes against humanity by European human rights organizations.