Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Russian, Romanian Orthodox Hierarchs Concelebrate in NYC

Archbishop Justinian (Ovchinnikov) of Narofominsk, head of the patriarchal Russian Orthodox representation to the American Orthodox Church (OCA), concelebrated the Divine Liturgy today with Bishop Irineu (Duvlea) of Dearborn Heights, auxiliary of the OCA's Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America, in New York's Cathedral of St. Nicholas. The services were celebrated in a mixture of English, Romanian, and Slavonic. More (in Russian) here.

ROCOR Parish in Toronto Joins Metropolitan Agathangel

Holy Resurrection Church in Toronto, Ontario, a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), has entered the communion of the schismatic branch of the ROCOR led by Metropolitan Agathangel (Pashkovskiy) of Odessa. The rector of the parish led it into Metropolitan Agathangel's jurisdiction, but it appears that the parish's assistant priest remains part of the mainstream ROCOR. The parish was received by Archbishop Andronik of Ottawa. More here.

100,000 Protest Greek Government's Handling of Economic Crisis

Some 100,000 Greeks took to the streets of Athens and other major cities to protest the ongoing economic crisis in Greece and the Greek government's failure to deal with it in a way that protects the interests of the country's citizens. The protests received the support of Archbishop Anthimos of Thessalonica, the most prominent diocese of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church in Greek-occupied southern Macedonia. More here.

Bank of Greece Governor Meets with Greek Orthodox Hierarchy

The governor of the Bank of Greece, George Provopoulos, has met with leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church to discuss the effects the ongoing economic crisis in Greece is having on the financial reserves of the Church of Greece, whose finances are largely provided by the Greek government as it remains the state church of Greece. More (in Greek) here.

Jordanian Orthodox Protest Greek-Dominated, Pro-Israeli Hierarchy

In a protest Sunday evening faithful of Jordan's Metropolis of Philadelphia based in Amman called for the Arabization of the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and the resignation of Patriarch Theofilos III (Giannopoulos) in favor of a Palestinian or Jordanian Arab native to the Holy Land. The protests were organized after Patriarch Theofilos renewed land use agreements with the Israeli government that he had indicated he would cancel when he replaced deposed Patriarch Irenaios (Skopelitis) in 2005. More here.

Moscow Patriarchate Spokesman Calls for Patience in Considering Lenin's Burial

Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman of the Moscow Patriarchate, has called on the Russian government not to make any unconsidered decisions regarding the disposal of Vladimir Lenin's body, which despite efforts at preserving it incorrupt continues to rot in its Soviet-era mausoleum on Moscow's Red Square. Although the Russian Orthodox Church supports the removal of Lenin's body from Red Square, Fr. Vsevolod urged the government not to hastily make any decisions that would offend large segments of Russian society. More here.

Coptic Orthodox Church Requests Preview of Church Construction Law

The Coptic Orthodox Church has requested that the interim Egyptian government present a draft law being prepared for the regulation of the construction of places of worship for its consideration prior to its promulgation. The current draft would give the government supervisory powers over the finances of religious organizations, which the Coptic Orthodox Church strongly rejects as its funding comes from church endowments and the donations of its faithful. More here.

Russia Considers Child Abandonment Centers

The Russian Parliament is considering a bill whereby women not able or willing to keep their newborn children could anonymously leave them at 'wellness centers.' The bill is part of legislation being promoted by both the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church to reduce the number of abortions in the country, which tops Western Europe's rates and equals or surpasses (depending on the year) the number of live births in the country. More here.

Syriac Orthodox Man Murdered in Mosul

A member of Mosul's Syriac Orthodox community, Arkan Jihad Yacob, was murdered in the northern Iraqi city over the weekend. Mr. Yacob, a father of four and the vice-president of his company, had escaped several kidnapping attempts prior to his execution-style murder. More here. May his memory be eternal!

Kiev's Golden-Domed Monastery Celebrates Restoration Anniversary

This past Sunday one of the earliest and best known monasteries in Ukraine, St. Michael's Golden-domed Monastery in Kiev (so named because its catholicon was apparently the first in Rus' to have golden domes), celebrated the anniversary of its restoration after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Monastery, which was an architectural masterpiece and historical landmark, was demolished during the Soviet era and replaced by a sports complex, only to be restored to its pre-demolition state after Ukraine became independent in 1991.

This past weekend's celebrations were led by Patriarch Philaret (Denysenko) of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, whose theological academy and seminary are housed on the remaining grounds of St. Michael's. The celebratory services were concelebrated by auxiliary Bishop Ahapit of Vyshhorod, superior of the Monastery, and nine other hierarchs of the Kiev Patriarchate. More (in Ukrainian) here.

On a personal note, although I'm not a supporter of the Kiev Patriarchate, St. Michael's was my favorite place to go when I lived in Kiev. Its catholicon is one of the most beautiful churches in the city and is a good representation of both its Byzantine beginnings and its later Ukrainian Baroque remodeling. For anyone visiting Kiev the Monastery stands alongside Holy Wisdom Cathedral, the Kiev Caves Lavra, and St. Volodymyr's Cathedral as a must visit for both historical and artistic reasons.

Ordination at Christminster

Brother Joseph (del Giorno), a monk at the Benedictine Monastery of Christ the Savior in Hamilton, Ontario, was ordained to the deaconate by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad's Bishop Jerome (Shaw) of Manhattan this past Saturday. The ordination services were celebrated according to the Roman Rite as it is observed at the Monastery and were well attended by Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike.

Bishop Jerome stayed at the Monastery for the weekend to celebrate a pontifical Sunday Mass and formally install Dom James (Deschene) as abbot, although he has served as abbot of Christ the Savior for several years now. More on both Saturday and Sunday's services can be found here.

Pictured is Bishop Jerome (vested according to the practice of the Roman Rite) as he gives the pontifical blessing at the end of this past weekend's ordination Mass.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bishop Mark of Baltimore Removed as Diocesan Administrator

Bishop Mark (Maymon) has been removed as administrator of the American Orthodox Diocese of Dallas and "the South," though he remains a candidate for its vacant cathedra and will still be making pastoral visits to the Diocese's parish on behalf of its locum tenens, Bishop Nikon (Liolin) of Boston. More here.

Update (1/6/2011): Seyidna Mark was removed as diocesan administrator by the Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Church per his request, though he remains "as a guest" in the Diocese for the time being. Whether he will be nominated and elected Bishop of Dallas in the future, elected shepherd of another diocese, or elected shepherd of part of the Diocese of Dallas (should it be divided as it needs to be) remains to be seen. More here.

Russian Orthodox Holy Synod Establishes New Dioceses, Elects Bishops

A session of the Russian Orthodox Holy Synod was held today in the historic building of the Most Holy Synod in St. Petersburg. In addition to the permanent members of the Holy Synod four hierarchs from Russia and Ukraine and Archbishop Feofan of Berlin are also participating in the meeting. More on that here.

Among other decisions taken during today's session the Holy Synod blessed the establishment of the new Eparchies of Narva in northeastern Estonia, Krasnoslobodsk in the west of the Republic of Mordovia (a member republic of the Russian Federation), Ardatov in eastern Mordovia, Khanty-Mansiysk in central Siberia, Salekhard in northwestern Siberia, and Norilsk in northern Siberia.

Having established the new dioceses in Russia and Estonia and determined the need for new auxiliary bishops in certain dioceses the Holy Synod proceeded to elect Bishops Nikodim of Chukotka as ruling Bishop of Norilsk and the Yenisei and Ilya of Yakutsk as the Eparchy of Saransk's auxiliary Bishop of Ruzaevsky; auxiliary Bishops Lazar of Narva as ruling Bishop of Narva, Kliment (formerly of Ruzaevsky) as ruling Bishop of Krasnoslobodsk, Nikolai of Zvenigorod as ruling Bishop of Salekhard, and Seraphim of Voskresensk as ruling Bishop of Chukotka; Archimandrites Roman (Lukin) as Bishop of Yakutsk and Pavel (Fokine) as Bishop of Khanty-Mansiysk; and Igumen Savva (Mikheyev) as the Eparchy of Moscow's auxiliary Bishop of Voskresensk.

The oversight of the Eparchy of Ardatov was left in the hands of Metropolitan Varsonofiy of Saransk for the time being. More on the various decisions taken at today's session can be found (in Russian) here.

Memorial Day

Christ is risen! Today's commemoration is kept by Orthodox Christians in the United States and informally at that. Although a federal holiday, Memorial Day is very much in keeping with the practice of preserving the memory of the dead and those who have died for their country.

This particular holiday began amongst black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, to commemorate the US soldiers who died to reintegrate the South into the United States and to bring freedom to the South's slaves. Since its beginnings in the late 1800s Memorial Day has become a holiday celebrating all the soldiers who have died fighting for the United States and in popular practice often supplants All Saints' as a day for visiting loved ones in the cemeteries.

May the memory of our loved ones who have fallen asleep be eternal! God grant them and us His peace, in this life and the next...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Abkhazian President Dies in Moscow

President Sergei Bagapsh of Abkhazia has died in Moscow following complications from lung surgery he underwent in the Russian capital. His vice-president, Alyksandr Ankvab, is now Abkhazia's acting president. More here.

Metropolitan Christopher Celebrates 5th Anniversary of Enthronement

Metropolitan Christopher (Pulec) of Prague is celebrating the 5th anniversary of his enthronement as First Hierarch of the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church today. Representatives of the Constantinopolitan, Russian, Georgian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Greek, Albanian, Polish, and American Orthodox Churches were present in Prague to concelebrate the Sunday Liturgy with him, as were clergy of the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church. More here.

St. Brendan the Navigator

Christ is risen! Joyous feast! St. Brendan may well be the earliest North American saint, though it's hard to know with any certainty at this point. More on his life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Plovdiv Metropolitan Accuses Bulgarian Politician of "Cave Nationalism"

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church's Metropolitan Nikolai of Plovdiv has accused the leader of Bulgarian ultranationalist party Ataka, Volen Siderov, of "cave nationalism" and protested his attempts "on two occasions to involve the Bulgarian Church in scandals." More here.

Moscow Pride Parade Disbanded

A pride parade in Moscow banned by Russian authorities has been disbanded by the police, with more than a dozen activists being arrested, among them well known US veteran Dan Choi. The parade was banned this year despite the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to fine Russia $40,000 for banning the parade last year. More here.

Former Parish Treasurer in Warren, MI, Arrested for Embezzlement

Police have arrested Helen Gvozdic, the 76-year old former treasurer of St. Stevan Decanski's Church in Warren, Michigan, for embezzling more than $79,000 from the parish. More here.

Armenia Frees Opposition Leaders

The Armenian Parliament has approved a general amnesty that will free most members of opposition parties currently being detained in Armenia's jails. The move comes as part of a dialogue between Armenian President Serzh Sargsian and opposition movements in the country. More here.

New Syro-Malabar Catholic Primate Elected

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church of Kerala has elected Bishop Mar George Alencherry of Thuckalay as the new Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly and primate of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. Archbishop Mar George is the first primate to be elected since Pope John Paul II of Rome's grant of the equivalent of autocephaly to the church in 1992. The election has already been approved by Pope Benedict XVI. More here.

Serbian Orthodox Holy Assembly Elects New Bishops, Reorganizes Dioceses

The session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops in Belgrade has come to a close. The session, which included all the diocesan hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the autonomous Macedonian Orthodox Church, took a number of decisions regarding the life of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

To care for vacant dioceses the Holy Assembly elected an auxiliary to the Metropolitan of Cetinje, Bishop Jovan of Diocleia, as Bishop of Nish (the former cathedra of the current patriarch) and Hierodeacon David (Perovic) was elected bishop of the newly established diocese of Krusevac. It also elected Protosyngellus Jovan (Culibrk) and Archimandrite Andrej (Cilerdzic) as patriarchal auxiliaries as the Bishops of Lipljan and Remezijane respectively.

Vis-a-vis the dioceses it established during its recent session the Holy Assembly appointed Bishop Irinej of Bachka as administrator of the new Diocese of Vienna and southern Europe and Metropolitan Amfilohije of Cetinje as administrator of the new Diocese of Buenos Aires and Latin America. In North America the Holy Assembly suppressed the Metropolitanate of Libertyville, designating St. Sava's Monastery in Libertyville as a stavropeghial institution and merging the other parishes of the Metropolitanate with the Diocese of Nova Grachanitsa and Midwestern America.

The Holy Assembly had been expected to divide the Archdiocese of Belgrade (the current seat of the Pech Patriarchate) and Sremski Karlovci (the former seat of the first hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in Austria-Hungary) as well as the Diocese of Raska (a city in southern Serbia) and Prizren (the capital of Kosovo), but given current conditions it delayed a decision on the creation of new dioceses out of the existing diocesan structures.

Considering the issues existing between the Serbian Orthodox Church and state authorities in neighboring Macedonia and Montenegro the Holy Assembly expressed its regret that the Macedonian and Montenegrin governments continued to interfere in the internal life of the Orthodox Churches in their countries and violated the human rights and freedom of their citizens. It also noted with sadness the ongoing challenges facing the Serb nation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo and in particular the latter's failure to allow its Serb residents to return to their homes.

Regarding the uncanonical intrusions of the Romanian Orthodox Church into eastern Serbia the Holy Assembly agreed that appropriate canonical and legal measures would have to be taken if the Bucharest Patriarchate refused to stop violating the canonical order and sacred unity of the worldwide Orthodox Church.

Responding to the request of Metropolitan Nikolaj (Mrda) of Sarajevo and Bosnia for retirement the Holy Assembly decided to instead releave Metropolitan Nikolaj of his day-to-day duties and appoint Bishop Grigorije (Duric) of Mostar and Herzegovina as administrator of the Metropolitanate.

More (in Serbian) on the Holy Assembly's deliberations and decisions can be found here.

Pope Theodoros Leads Graduation Ceremonies in Alexandria

Pope Theodoros II (Horeftakis) of Alexandria has led graduation celebrations at St. Athanasius' Patriarchal School in Alexandria, which is largely attended by students from sub-Saharan Africa. During the graduation itself Pope Theodoros called on the graduating students preach the Gospel in their homelands and not to forget 'that the heart of the Orthodox Church of Africa beats in the Holy City of Alexandria.' More (in Greek) here.

Patriarch Cyril Visits St. Petersburg

Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow has begun a pastoral visit to the Eparchy of St. Petersburg. Upon arriving in the city Patriarch Kirill was met by Metropolitan Vladimir (Kotlyarov) of St. Petersburg and his auxiliaries, Bishops Amvrosiy (Yermakov) of Gatchina, Markell (Vetrov) of Peterhof, and Nazariy (Lavrinenko) of Vyborg, and then proceeded to visit the Cathedral of the Smolensk Icon where his brother, Archpriest Nikolai Gundyayev, serves.

During his visit to St. Petersburg Patriarch Kirill will be serving in the city's churches, visiting the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, attending a meeting on the restoration of St. Nicholas' Naval Cathedral in Kronstadt, visiting St. Alexander of the Neva's Lavra, and presiding over a meeting of the Holy Synod in the historic Synod building built for the Holy Synod after Peter I's reorganization of the Church. More (in Russian) here.

Armenia Celebrates the Restoration of Its Independence

Armenia is celebrating Republic Day, this year marking the 93rd anniversary of the Armenian nation's restoration of its independence from the Russian and Ottoman Empires. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union the holiday was restored in free Armenia to celebrate its renewed independence from foreign occupation. More here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Patriach Ilia Calls for Clemency from the Georgian Government

Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) of the Georgian Orthodox Church has called on the government of President Mikheil Saakashvili to be merciful to the members of opposition parties detained after the recent Independence Day demonstrations in Tbilisi. During the breakup of the demonstrations earlier this week Patriarch Ilia blessed clergy to shelter supporters of the opposition in a church near the Georgian Parliament. More here.

New Romanian Orthodox Parish Organized in Eastern Serbia

The Romanian Orthodox Church continues to actively violate the canonical territories of its sister Orthodox Churches, most recently by organizing a parish under its jurisdiction in the eastern Serbian city of Negotin. More (in Romanian) here.

Wikileaks: Constantinople Concerned About Russian Ambitions

A recent Wikileaks release has shed new light on the discussions between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Turkish, US, and Greek governments regarding the reopening of the Halki Seminary, with Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople at one point telling a US senator that, 'If the Ecumenical Patriarchate abandons its traditional headquarters in Istanbul, then the Russian Orthodox Church will fulfill its ambition to take command of the Ecumenical Patriarchate." He went on to say that, 'The Patriarchate needs protection so as not to lose face before Ankara and the ambition of the Russians.' More (in Greek) here.

Romanian Orthodox Local Synod for Western, Southern Europe Meets in Brussels

The Local Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Western and Southern Europe has met in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss the internal life of the Metropolitanate, the possibility of obtaining funds from the European Union, and the expansion of monasticism in the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of Spain and Portugal. Following their meeting the hierarchs of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Western and Southern Europe traveled to eastern Belgium to bless the founding of a new monastery in Namur on the site of a former Byzantine Catholic monastery. More (in Romanian) here.

NSW Monasteries' Future Expansion Threatened

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia's Monasteries of the Pantanassa and the Holy Cross are facing challenges to their future on their properties on New South Wales' Central Coast as a local governmental authority has rezoned them to ban the future expansion or construction of churches or chapels by the Monasteries. More here.

US Senate Calls for Halki Seminary's Reopening

The United States Senate has passed a resolution calling on the Turkish government to address the challenges faced by Turkey's dwindling Greek-speaking minority, among them the need to reopen the Halki Seminary. More here.

Russian Orthodox Donate Mobile Church to Paratroopers

The Russian Orthodox Church has donated a mobile church to Russia's paratroopers to serve the needs of the members of the Airborne Troops during drills and missions. More here.

Minya Celebrates the Mother of God

Despite growing tensions between Orthodox Christianity and Islam in Egypt some 2 million Copts and Muslims have participated in a feast day of the Mother of God in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya, with many holding signs saying, "Minya Without Sectarianism." More here.

Moldovan Orthodox Delegation Visits Finland

A delegation of the Moldovan Orthodox Church has visited Finland with the blessing of Metropolitan Vladimir (Cantarean) of Chisinau. The delegation went to Finland to learn more about the social outreach of the Finnish Orthodox Church. During its time in Finland the delegation's members visited the Uusi Valamo Monastery and other communities and institutions of the Orthodox Church in Finland and also met with Archbishop Leo (Makkonen) of Kuopio and All Finland. More (in Romanian) here.

Pictured is Archbishop Leo with the delegation's leader, Archimandrite Ioan (Moşneguţu).

Chicago Meeting of the North American Episcopal Assembly Ends

The Episcopal Assembly of North America has concluded its second session in Chicago. This year's session was not attended by most of the hierarchs serving in Canada, who are pushing for the creation of a separate Episcopal Assembly of Canada, or by the bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Americas, who were attending a session of the Serbian Orthodox Holy Assembly of Bishops in Belgrade. More here and here.

Georgian Opposition Members Arrested in Monastery Refuge

Thirty members of Georgian opposition parties who took refuge in the famous Qintsvisi Monastery in eastern Georgia after yesterday's Independence Day clashes have been arrested in the Monastery by Georgian police. More here.

Bulgarian Orthodox Metropolitan Visits Constantinople, Turkish Thrace

Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech has made a pastoral visit the Bulgarian Diaspora in Constantinople and Turkish-occupied Thrace, first visiting St. Stephen's Iron Church in Constantinople, the representation of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and then concelebrating with Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the latter's election as ecumenical patriarch. After his time in Constantinople Metropolitan Gabriel visited the two Bulgarian-speaking parishes in Adrianople (Edirne in Turkish) before returning to Bulgaria. More (in Bulgarian) here.

Catholicos Karekin Visits Chile

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin has concluded his pastoral visit to Chile. Accompanied by Archbishop Kissag of Buenos Aires, Catholicos Karekin met with Chilean officials and representatives of the Armenian Diaspora in Chile and discussed the assignment of a pastor to the Armenian Orthodox parish being organized in Santiago. More here.

Pictured are the visiting clergy serving in a Roman Catholic church loaned to their use during Catholicos Karekin's stay in Chile.

Quote of the Day: St. Raphael of Lesbos

Have faith that is as unshakable as a rock, so that nothing frightens you...the person who has deep faith within himself, fixes his attention on the good path, and seeks to improve the condition of his soul and to adapt his thought to the good is happy... The happiness of man consists in faith in God and in good acts which are done with love.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ukrainian Orthodox Church Endorses Ottawa Shevchenko Monument

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada has issued an appeal to its clergy and faithful to financially support the erection of a monument to renowned Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko in the Canadian capital. The Shevchenko Monument is to be unveiled this summer in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the USSR, the 120th anniversary of the establishment of the Ukrainian Diaspora in Canada, and the 150th anniversary of Shevchenko's death.

Construction of the Shevchenko Monument, which is to be situated on the grounds of Ottawa's Ukrainian Catholic shrine Church of St. John the Baptist (pictured with what with Monument), is already underway and should be completed by June. More here. The official website for the project as a whoel can be found here.

South Sudan Refuses War Over Abyei

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has said that his country will not go to war with North Sudan over the latter's ongoing effort to ethnically cleanse a disputed district straddling the North-South Sudan border. More here.

Photo of the Day: Members of the North American Episcopal Assembly in Chicago

The hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches in North America at the ongoing session of the Episcopal Assembly of North America in Chicago. More pictures can be found here.

Patriarch Bartholomew to Visit Smyrna, Ephesus

This coming weekend Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople will undertake a historic visit to the city of Smyrna in Turkey, the first such pastoral visit by an ecumenical patriarch since the Turks' expulsion of the city's Orthodox Christians (who used to form the vast majority of the population) in 1922. Patriarch Bartholomew will serve in St. Mary's Church in Alacati (used as a mosque from the 1930s until recently) before moving on to Ephesus to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Saturday and Sunday in the ancient city's Churches of Sts. John the Theologian and Photina the Samaritan Woman. More here.

"One Citizenship or Two?"

An excellent article by Fr. Georges Massouh, professor of Islamic studies at Lebanon's Balamand University, on citizenship in the Dar al-Islam (the Islamic world) can be found here.

Serbia Arrests Ratko Mladic

Serbia has arrested war crimes perpetrator Ratko Mladic and handed him over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, in the words of Serbian President Boris Tadic closing "a difficult of [Serbian] history." More here.

Egyptian Politician Denounces Plans for Anti-Corruption March in Cairo

Prominent Coptic Orthodox businessman and politician Naguib Sawiris has denounced plans for a million-strong march in Cairo to demand the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other prominent Egyptians for corruption. More here.

Anti-Saakashvili Protesters Dispersed, Arrested in Tbilisi

The Georgian police have dispersed protesters at Independence Day celebrations in Tbilisi at the urging of controversial President Mikheil Saakashvili. Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) of the Georgian Orthodox Church did not attend the parades that were held following the incident, in which one died, many were injured, and others were detained by the police. More here.

Moldovan Orthodox Local Synod Discusses Upcoming Patriarchal Visit

The Local Synod of the Moldovan Orthodox Church began meeting yesterday to discuss issues in the life of the Orthodox Church in Moldova. Among other things the Local Synod approved the establishment of a commission on the glorification of saints and the development of plans for the upcoming visit of Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow to Moldova this coming fall. More (in Romanian) here.

After their meeting the members of the Local Synod met with Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat to discuss recent changes in laws regulating religious organizations in Moldova. Filat agreed to establish a commission to review the new laws that would include representatives of both the Moldovan government and the Moldovan Orthodox Church. More (in Romanian) here.

Metropolitan Hilarion Meets with Prince Philip

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk has met with Prince Philip, royal consort of Queen Elizabeth II, during a brief visit to London. Metropolitan Hilarion greeted Prince Philip with his upcoming 90th birthday and gave him an icon of St. Elizabeth the New Martyr, to whom the House of Windsor is related by blood and with whom Prince Philip shared the Orthodox Faith prior to his conversion to Anglicanism to marry the future Queen Elizabeth. More (in Russian) here.

Serbian Minister for Diaspora Holds Reception for Serbian Orthodox Hierarchy

A reception has been held in Belgrade by Srdjan Sreckovic, Minister for Faith and the Diaspora of the Serbian government, for the members of the Serbian Orthodox hierarchy gathered in the city for the ongoing Holy Assembly of Bishops. At the reception Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovich) of Pech said in part that, "To us, as the Church, it is highly important to help the mission of the state, as the state helps also the mission of the Church, because we are the two most important pillars in [the] life and history of the [Serb] nation." More here.

Catechetical Conference to be Held at Rila Monastery

With the blessing of the Bulgarian Orthodox Holy Synod a conference on catechism in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church will be held tomorrow at the famous Rila Monastery in southwestern Bulgaria. The conference will include clerical and lay participants and will both discuss current experiences in religious education and seek to develop principles for a comprehensive catechetical strategy to promote the spiritual enlightenment of the Bulgarian nation. More (in Bulgarian) here.

First Slavonic Divine Liturgy in Rome Commemorated 1,000+ Years Later

On the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius the Orthodox Church in Rome commemorated the Equals-to-the-Apostles by celebrating a Slavonic-language Divine Liturgy in the Roman Catholic Basilica of St. Maria Maggiore, the place of the first Slavonic-language Divine Liturgy served with the blessing of Pope Adrian II of Rome over a thousand years ago.

Archbishop Mark (Golovkov) of Yegorevsk, auxiliary of the Moscow Patriarchate, led the festal services, which were concelebrated by Archbishop Alexander (Drabynko) of Pereyaslav-Khmel'nyts'kyi, auxiliary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's Kiev Metropolitanate, and Bishop Nestor (Sirotenko) of Korsun, ruling bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in southwestern Europe. More (in Russian) here.

Egyptian Government to Restore Imbaba Church

The Egyptian government has organized the restoration of St. Mary's Church in Imbaba that suffered heavy damage from a recent Islamist attack. More here.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Receives Delegation from Constantinople

Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow yesterday received a delegation from the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church led by Metropolitan Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) of Brusa. The delegation was sent to Russia on the occasion of Patriarch Kirill's nameday and the opening of the 'Days of Slavic Writing and Culture' in Moscow and discussed relations between the two sister Orthodox Churches. More here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Copts Object to Proposed Law Regulating Places of Worship

Members of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt are objecting to a proposed law to regulate the construction of places of worship as it would also place the finances of religious organizations under the direct supervision of the Egyptian government. More here.

A Life of St. John of Santa Cruz

An interesting account of the life and death of St. John (Karastamatis) of Santa Cruz can be found here. Hat tip to Mystagogy for reminding me of St. John!

Assyrian Church Planned for Auckland

The Assyrian Church of the East in New Zealand will shortly begin the construction of a permanent church for its parish in Auckland with the blessing of Metropolitan Mar Meelis (Zaia) of Sydney. More here.

ROCOR Auxiliary Bishop Visits OCA Seminary

Bishop George (Schaefer) of Mayfield, auxiliary of the Diocese of New York of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, has visited St. Tikhon's Theological Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, together with the rector of his cathedra, St. John the Baptist's Cathedral in nearby Mayfield. More here. Hat tip to Byzantine Texas for posting this first!

North American Episcopal Assembly Begins Meeting in Chicago

The Episcopal Assembly of North America has begun its spring meeting today in Chicago under the chairmanship of Archbishop Demetrios (Trakatellis) of New York of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church. More here.

Egyptian Tourist Destination Introduces Dress Code

A movement in Egypt to require visiting tourists to follow a dress code respectful of the local population is gaining momentum as a popular coastal tourist destination has introduced a local code requiring women to wear skirts reaching past their knees and tops that cover their arms. More here.

Russian Orthodox Church Not Aligned with Russian Political Parties

Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow has stated that the Russian Orthodox Church is not and will not be supporting any particular political party or movement in upcoming Russian elections, saying that the Church will "pursue a dialogue with all political forces." More here.

Patriarch Bartholomew Says Greek Policies Should Not Effect Halki Reopening

Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople has reacted to Turkish demands that Greece improve its treatment of its Turkish minority in southwestern Thrace before it will consider reopening the Halki Seminary by saying that both he is Turkish and that the Greek government and its policies should not factor into the reopening of the patriarchal seminary. More here.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Calls USSR a "Great Country"

At the opening of celebrations in honor of Slavonic writing and literature in Moscow Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of All Rus' referred to the Soviet Union, which collapsed 20 years ago this year, a great country that few apart because of the decay of its foundations. More here.

Supplication Held at St. Cyril's Tomb in Rome

On yesterday's feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius the Macedonian Orthodox community in Rome held a supplication at the tomb of St. Cyril, which is contained in the Roman Catholic Basilica of San Clemente. Metropolitans Petar of Prespa and Pimen of Europe concelebrated the supplication, which was the 43rd organized at the Saint's tomb by the Macedonian Orthodox Church. More (in Macedonian) here.

Metropolitanate of Chisinau Holds Assembly

The Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Chisinau and Bessarabia, established by the Bucharest Patriarchate on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church in the former USSR, has held its annual Metropolitan Assembly in Chisinau, Moldova. At the Metropolitan Assembly the holding of nominations for new diocesan bishops under the Metropolitanate, the Romanian Orthodox Church's educational work in Moldova, and the reception of parishes from the canonical Moldovan Orthodox Church were discussed. More (in Romanian) here.

Macedonian Archbishop Meets with Russian Ambassador

Archbishop Stefan (Veljanovski) of the independent Macedonian Orthodox Church has met with the Russian ambassador to Macedonia. The topics of their discussions have not been published. More (in Macedonian) here.

Ahmedabad Metropolitan Visits USA

Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Yulios of Ahmedabad begins a month-long visit to the USA today to visit the parish he served as a priest in Chicagoland and other parishes of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in the eastern and central United States. More here.

Quote of the Day: Elder Ephraim of Philotheou

Is there anyone who has entered paradise by a different path, a path without temptations, whom we can imitate? No. All the saints passed through fire and water, through various temptations and afflictions, and they glorified God with their patience and received crowns of eternal glory...when we are still in our youth, we must be tempted, for youth is easily derailed. In time, the war will cease and the desired grace will come. Just have courage and patience. Do not despair, no matter how much the passions may fight you...do not lose courage in the struggle; our Christ is invisibly standing by.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

OCA, ROCOR Metropolitans Concelebrate in NYC

Metropolitans Jonah (Paffhausen) of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) and Hilarion (Kapral) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) have concelebrated the festal services in honor of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in New York's Cathedral of St. Nicholas together with the Moscow Patriarchate's Archbishop Justinian (Ovchinnikov) of Narofominsk, the OCA's Bishop Tikhon (Mollard) of Philadelphia, and the ROCOR's auxiliary Bishop Jerome (Shaw) of Manhattan to celebrate the nameday of Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow. More pictures from the services can be found here.

Update (25/5/2011): According to the website of the Moscow Patriarchate (neither the OCA nor the ROCOR websites have posted anything on this so far) yesterday's Divine Liturgy was the first time since the last break between the ROCOR and what was then the Russian Orthodox Metropolia of North America that hierarchs of the two have concelebrated. After the services Metropolitan Jonah gave relics of Sts. Herman of Alaska and Alexis of Minneapolis to Metropolitan Hilarion, who in return gave Metropolitan Jonah relics of St. John of San Francisco. More (in Russian) here.

Fundamentalists Block Church Reopening in Cairo

The story of one of the Coptic Orthodox churches Muslim fundamentalists in Egypt have kept from opening (and now reopening) can be found here. Hit tip to Ad Orientem for posting this! Interestingly enough, this sort of thing happens in a low key way in Ethiopia (43% Orthodox, 33% Muslim, 18% Protestant) too. My understanding is that legally you can't build new places of worship within a certain distance of each other. As a result, a number of new mosques have been built along the new highways and roads to raise Islam's visibility in the country and to force churches to build further away from major transportation routes and developing population centers.

Kosovar Churches Suffer from Frequent Vandalism

Kosovo's Serbian Orthodox parishes continue to suffer frequent vandalism and looting, with the Kosovar police generally unable to catch the culprits. More here.

Plans for the Restoration of Kiev's Church of the Tithe Approved

The proposed plans for the restoration of Kiev's Church of the Tithe suggested by the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been approved by the city government of Kiev. More here.

Serbian Orthodox Church to Establish New Dioceses, "Bond" Dioceses in Americas Closer to the Old World

The Holy Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church has decided to create new dioceses in the Americas and Europe. Discussions on the division of the Eparchy of Raska and Prizren in Kosovo into new dioceses has, however, been postponed.

In Europe the Serbian Orthodox Church in Austria, Switzerland, and Italy is to be separated from the Central European Eparchy of Hildesheim and established as the Eparchy of Vienna, whilst the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Americas is to be reorganized to include a diocese with jurisdiction over Latin America.

The Holy Assembly also discussed designating St. Sava's Monastery and Theological Seminary in Libertyville, Illinois, as stavropeghial institutions as "an an effective way of bonding the Church in America closer to the mother country" (so much for pan-Orthodox unity).

More on the above can be found here.

Coptic Orthodox Diocese Hopes to Build Large Complex in Melbourne

The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Melbourne has submitted an application with the city of Melbourne for permission to build a large church and seminary complex on the former site of a sauna that it bought several years ago. The current plans call for a 42-storey bell tower and enough space inside the church to accommodate over 300 worshipers. More here.

Sofia Celebrates Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Although on the revised calendar the Bulgarian Orthodox Church joined in national celebrations in Sofia today in honor of Sts. Cyril and Methodius and their literary, cultural, and spiritual legacy amongst the Bulgarian people. Patriarch Maxim (Minkov) of Sofia attended official celebrations at Sofia's monument to the Saints, whilst his auxiliary Bishop Ioan of Znepolska offered a prayer during the ceremonies. More (in Bulgarian) here.

Patriarch Cyril Celebrates Nameday in Moscow Kremlin Cathedral

In honor of his patron St. Cyril and his brother St. Methodius Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow celebrated the festal Divine Liturgy today in the Moscow Kremlin's Cathedral of the Dormition. The members of the lesser Holy Synod and hierarchs and clergy representing the Constantinopolitan, Alexandrian, Jerusalemite, Bulgarian, and American Orthodox Churches concelebrated the festal services. More (in Russian) here.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Christ is risen! Joyous feast! Sts. Cyril and Methodius are known as the 'Equals-to-the-Apostles' for their pioneering mission work amongst the Slavs of Moravia, a work which led to the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet and the conversion of all the Slavs scattered throughout Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe to either Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism. More on their lives and labors can be found here. May their blessings and prayers be with us all!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Assyrian Patriarch to Visit Australia

Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV (Khananya) of Seleucia-Ctesiphon will be visiting the Church of the East's Archdiocese of Sydney and Australia this coming September. More on his upcoming visit can be found here.

Constantinopolitan Orthodox Metropolitan Visits Transdniestria

Metropolitan Panteleimon of Beroia of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church in Greek-occupied Macedonia visited the breakaway Republic of Transdniestria in Moldova over the weekend at the invitation of Bishop Savva (Volkov) of Tiraspol' to celebrate the legacy of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the formation of the Slavonic language and the conversion of the Slavs to Orthodoxy. More (in Greek) here.

Bulgarian Ultra-Nationalists Attack Sofia Muslims

This past Friday Bulgarian ultra-nationalists attacked Turkish Muslims praying at a mosque in downtown Sofia, beating many of them and burning their prayer rugs. A member of the Bulgarian Parliament involved in the attack was injured during the ensuing fight. More on the attack here. Following the incident several hundred Bulgarians organized a demonstration in Sofia, laying flowers at the mosque in protest of the attack. More here.

Israel Approves West Bank Housing Expansion

The Israeli government has approved the construction of 294 homes on Palestinian Arab territory on the West Bank in the wake of an announcement from the US government that it still expects a peace between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority to include Palestinian Arab control of the entirety of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The houses will become residences for Jewish fundamentalists wanting to live in the area. More here.

Moscow, Tbilisi Universities Sign Agreement

St. Tikhon's Humanitarian University in Moscow and St. Andrew's Patriarchal University in Tbilisi have signed a agreement that will widen educational cooperation between the universities and the joint publication of Georgian and Russian-language theological works in Georgia and Russia. More here.

Al-Azhar Announces Guidance Sessions for Copts Converting to Islam

Cairo's famous Al-Azhar University has announced that it will be organizing guidance sessions for Copts wishing to convert to Islam that will include their Coptic Orthodox clergymen and members of their families. It is hoped that the sessions will help avoid the development of situations where Copts seeking to divorce their spouses or avoid other issues convert to Islam and then seek to revert, only to find that they cannot do so legally. More here.

Ancient Church Unearthed in Laodicea

Turkish archaeologists have found an ancient church in Laodicea built shortly after the imperial Edict of Toleration issued in Milan in the early 300s. More here.

Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Calls for Unity, Peace

After festal services in honor of St. Nicholas this past Sunday Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) of Mtskheta-Tbilisi said that he was praying for "peace and a united spirit" in Georgia, calling on Georgians to "not say or do things to one another that would make them feel ashamed afterwards." More here.

Patriarch Philaret, Archbishop Major Svyatoslav Discuss Areas of Inter-Church Cooperation

This past week Patriarch Philaret (Denysenko) of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Archbishop Major Metropolitan Svyatoslav (Shevchuk) of the Ukrainian Catholic Church met in Kiev to discuss possible areas of cooperation between the two churches, among them social issues, relations between the churches and the Ukrainian government, and education. More here.

Copts Resume Cairo Protests

Hours after ending their protests outside the Egyptian state media buildings in Cairo last week Coptic Orthodox resumed their protests after learning that three churches that the Egyptian government had committed to reopening would not be reopened due to the demands of Muslim fundamentalists. More here and here.

Russian Orthodox Church Works to Develop Prison Ministries

The leadership of the Synodal Department for Prison Ministry of the Russian Orthodox Church has met under Bishop Irinarkh (Grezin) of Krasnogorsk, an auxiliary of the Eparchy of Moscow, to continue working on the development of district rehabilitation centers for former prisoners, the education of prison chaplains, the development of rehabilitation centers for minors, and the amendment of prison regulations to enable prisoners to more easily attend the divine services in prison churches. More (in Russian) here.

Sremski Karlovci Cathedral Celebrates 250th Anniversary

This past Sunday the cathedral of Sremski Karlovci in the Serbian Banat, formerly the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Austria-Hungary, celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding. The festal services in honor of St. Nicholas, the cathedral's patron, were concelebrated by Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovich) of Pech and eleven other hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church. More here.

Kazakh Orthodox Metropolitan Visits Cyprus

As part of his visit to Cyprus this past weekend to participate in the consecration of the new diocesan cathedral of the Metropolis of Kykkos Metropolitan Alexander (Mogilev) of Astana and the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan visited the diocesan administrations of the Archdiocese of Nea Justiniana and the Metropolis of Tamassos, during which he met with Archbishop Chrysostomos II (Demetriou) of Nea Justiniana and Metropolitan Isaias of Tamassos. Metropolitan Alexander concelebrated the Sunday Liturgy in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia, with Metropolitans Isaias of Tamassos and Nikolai of Plovdiv, with Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkos in attendance. More (in Russian) here.

New Diocesan Cathedral Consecrated in Kykkos

This past Saturday hierarchs of the Russian and Cypriot Orthodox Churches concelebrated the consecration of the new diocesan cathedral of the Cypriot Orthodox Metropolis of Kykkos. The services were concelebrated by Metropolitans Nikiforos of Kykkos, Chrysostomos of Kition, Neofitos of Morphou, Vasilios of Constantia, and Isaias of Tamassos of the Cypriot Orthodox Church; Metropolitan Alexander (Mogilev) of Astana of the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan; Metropolitan Nikolai of Plovdiv of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church; and Metropolitans Theodore of Akhaltsikhe and Savva of Khoni of the Georgian Orthodox Church. More (in Russian) here.

Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Meets with UAE Ruler

During his recent visit to the United Arab Emirates Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatios Zakka I (Iwas) of Antioch met with Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al-Qasimi of Ras al-Khaimah to discuss the state of the Syriac and Malankara Orthodox faithful in the area. During the meeting both emphasized the need for tolerant coexistence between the followers of different faiths. More (in Arabic) here.

Bishop of Voskresensk Consecrated in Ugreshi Monastery

This past Sunday Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow and twelve other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church consecrated Archimandrite Seraphim (Glushakov) as Bishop of Voskresensk during the festal services in honor of St. Nicholas in the Ugreshskiy Monastery's Cathedral of the Transfiguration in a suburb of Moscow. Axios! Bishop Seraphim will be serving as an auxiliary of the patriarchal Eparchy of Moscow. More (in Russian) here.

Photo of the Day: Commemoration of the New Martyrs of Butovo

This past Saturday was the Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs of Butovo, who have been memorialized by a church on the site of their martyrdom co-founded by Patriarch Alexis (Ridiger) of Moscow and Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla) of New York of blessed memory. Pictured is Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow celebrating the festal services in Butovo this past weekend.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

St. Christopher the God-bearer

Christ is risen! Joyous feast! St. Christopher is an early martyr of the Church and widely venerated in both the East and the West, in particular by travelers. More on his life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jerusalem Patriarchate Refutes Romanian Claims of Dialogue, Confirms Defrocking of Jericho Priest

The Church of Jerusalem has rejected the Romanian Orthodox Church's claims to have sincerely engaged in dialogue with the Jerusalem Patriarchate over its parish and institutions in Jericho, noting that throughout its dialogues the Church of Romania had remained firm in its intention to establish the Jericho parish under its direct jurisdiction and not as a representation as is normally done in keeping with the canons. The Jerusalem Patriarchate also confirmed its defrocking of Archimandrite Ieronim (Creţu), the priest at the Jericho parish, on the grounds that he had been illicitly serving in the Holy Land without the blessing of the Church of Jerusalem and had continued to do so despite repeated warnings. More (in Greek) here.

Cetinje Metropolitanate Sues Montenegrin Government

The Orthodox Church in Montenegro is suing the Montenegrin government in the European Court of Human Rights for the return of properties alienated from the ownership of the Church that are currently being considered for transfer to the ownership of a small schismatic church headed by a Serbian Orthodox clergyman previously defrocked by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. More here.

French Court Confirms Russian Ownership of Cathedral in Nice

France's highest court of appeals has confirmed that St. Nicholas' Cathedral in Nice belongs to the Russian government as the representative of the former imperial government and to the Moscow Patriarchate as the highest authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, to which the cathedral previously belonged (the cathedral parish affiliated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Russian Orthodox exarchate after the Bolshevik Revolution). St. Nicholas' is currently the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral outside the former Russian Empire and is visited by some 200,000 tourists annually. More here.

Macedonian Orthodox Holy Synod Calls for Peace as Elections Approach

At the close of its recent meeting the Holy Synod of the independent Macedonian Orthodox Church called on its faithful and all the citizens of free Macedonia to display "worthy inter-ethnic and inter-religious respect and understanding" as the country prepares for upcoming parliamentary elections. More (in Macedonian) here.

Memorial Served for Taras Shevchenko in Kiev

Patriarch Filaret (Denysenko) of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church and his auxiliary, Bishop Ahapit of Vyshhorod, have served a memorial in Kiev's Church of the Nativity for the repose of the famous Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his reburial in the church. In attendance were several Ukrainian politicians and the famous soccer player Andriy Shevchenko. More here.

Romanian Orthodox Holy Synod Appoints Delegation for Talks with Jerusalem

At its recent session the Romanian Orthodox Holy Synod the Holy Synod refused to sever communion with the Church of Jerusalem, instead appointing a delegation consisting of Archbishop Nifon of Targoviste, Bishops Ioan of Covasna and Vincentiu of Slobozia, and patriarchal auxiliary Bishop Ciprian of Campineanca to dialogue with the Church of Jerusalem towards the resolution of the schism caused by the establishment of a Romanian Orthodox parish in the Holy Land. More (in Romanian) here.

Metropolitan Philaret Serves Memorial for Minsk Attack Victims

Today marks the 40th day since the terrorist attack in Minsk, Belarus. The day is being marked with a memorial served by Metropolitan Filaret (Vakhromeyev) of the Belorussian Orthodox Church in Minsk's Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, with President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus in attendance. More (in Russian) here.

Zhirovits Icon of the Mother of God

Christ is risen! Joyous feast! Today is the commemoration of the wonderworking Zhirovits Icon of the Mother of God, which was discovered shining radiantly on a tree by shepherds near the village of Zhirovitsa (today in western Belarus). More on the Zhirovits Icon's discovery and history can be found here. May the Theotokos' protection and intercessions be with us all!

This icon was somewhat dear to an old friend of mine whose family immigrated from Belarus, where its still widely venerated. He's no longer living, but whenever I see this icon I think of him - please remember in your prayers today God's servant Michael.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Antiochian Orthodox in North America Prepare for June, July Meetings

The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America is preparing for a meeting of its "synod" (consisting of its ruling metropolitan and his auxiliary bishops), at which the nomination of new auxiliary bishops at the July Archdiocesan Convention will be discussed together with issues in the internal life of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America. More here.

Patriarch Bartholomew Visits Kavala

Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople has begun his pastoral visit to Kavala, a city in Greek-occupied southeastern Macedonia that falls under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Metropolitans Chrysostomos of Myra and Jeremiah of Geneva are accompanying Patriarch Bartholomew on his visit to northern Greece, during which he will meet with metropolitans from Greek-occupied Macedonia and Greece proper as well as local officials. More (in Greek) here.

Iraqi Christian Brutally Tortured, Murdered in Kirkuk

The return of the brutally tortured body of murdered Chaldean Catholic Ashur Issa Yaqub has the Christian residents of Kirkuk in northern Iraq reconsidering whether to remain in the region or leave their homeland altogether. More here.

Moldovans Protest Recognition of Islam

Moldovans carrying signs saying "Moldova - Orthodox Land!" have rallied in Chisinau to protest the Moldovan government's registration of the Islamic League, an organization representing the country's Muslim minority. The associations sponsoring the rallies are connected with the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which has reacted strongly to the move to register the Islamic League despite the tiny size of the Muslim community in Moldova (somewhere between 2,000 and 17,000 out of 3,500,000). More here.

Metropolitan Kallistos Visits Helsinki

Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diocleia of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has visited Helsinki, Finland, to deliver a lecture in the Finnish Orthodox Church's Sophia Cultural Center there. During his visit to Helsinki Metropolitan Kallistos also celebrated the Sunday Liturgy in the city's Cathedral of the Dormition. More (in Finnish) here.

Romanian Orthodox Holy Synod Meets to Discuss Jerusalem

The Romanian Orthodox Holy Synod began meeting today in Bucharest to discuss the Church of Jerusalem's excommunication of the Church of Romania over its schismatic activities in the Holy Land and other internal issues in the life of the Romanian Orthodox Church. More (in Romanian) here.

New Archbishop of Alba Iulia Elected

The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church has, in consultation with the Archdiocesan Assembly of Alba Iulia, elected auxiliary Bishop Irineu (Pop) of Bistrita as Archbishop of Alba Iulia. His enthronement is scheduled to take place on the Sunday of the Fathers of the First Council of Nicaea. The new Archbishop of Alba Iulia was born in Romania, but prior to his consecration to the episcopacy served as a priest in the patriarchal Romanian Orthodox Church in the United States. More (in Romanian) here.

Conference Held for Belorussian Cossacks

Moscow's Donskoy Monastery has hosted a conference for the atamans and clergy serving the Cossack community in Belarus. Following a supplication (молебен) in the Donskoy Monastery's cathedral Bishop Kirill of Stavropol', chairman of the Russian Orthodox Synodal Commission for Cooperation with the Cossacks, said in part that, "The Cossacks today will not only spiritually revive, but will also protect the Orthodox Faith in the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church...and, if necessary, give their lives, as our ancestors did, for the Faith." More (in Russian) here.

Catholicos Aram Meets with Emir of Kuwait

As part of his ongoing pastoral visit to Kuwait Catholicos Aram I (Keshishian) of Sis has met with the Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Jabr al-Sabah, and his prime minister. During the meeting Catholicos Aram asked that Emir Sabah allow Kuwaiti Christians to own land so that the Armenian Orthodox parish in Kuwait City could build its own church. More here.

Russian Orthodox Commission on Canonizing Saints Meets in Moscow

The Synodal Commission on the Canonization of Saints of the Russian Orthodox Church met today at the Danilov Monastery in Moscow to discuss the Commission's ongoing work to glorify the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Soviet Yoke and issues that have developed in the Commission's cooperative work with local diocesan commissions on the glorification of saints. (In the Russian Orthodox Church dioceses are blessed to glorify saints from their regions, who are then only blessed for veneration by the faithful of the particular diocese that glorified them.) More (in Russian) here.

Catholicos Karekin Visits Uruguay, Argentina

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin has completed his pastoral visits to the Armenian Orthodox Dioceses of Montevideo in Uruguay and Buenos Aires in Argentina. During his stays in both countries Catholicos Karekin celebrated the services, spoke with government officials, and met with representatives of the Armenian Diaspora in South America. More here (on the visit to Uruguay) and here (on the visit to Argentina).

Pictured are the faithful of St. Gregory the Illuminator's Church in Buenos Aires during a service celebrated by Catholicos Karekin.

Metropolitan Hilarion Attends Conference in Jamaica

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Church has arrived in Jamaica to take part in an ecumenical peace conference being held in the country. Nothing has been said about whether Metropolitan Hilarion will visit any of the parishes of the Orthodox Church in Jamaica, which is part of the Church of Ethiopia. More here.

Update (2:59pm): The text of Metropolitan Hilarion's speech at the conference can be found here.

Cairene Copts Halt Protest

Organizers of protests outside the Egyptian state media offices in Cairo have called off the protests as the Egyptian government begins meeting some of their demands. More here.

St. Job of Pochaev

Christ is risen! Joyous feast! St. Job is well known through Ukraine and all of Rus' for his holy life and labors in resisting the imposition of the Union of Brest in what then was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. More on his life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Plans Released for Monastery at Antiochian Village

Plans for the construction of a permanent complex for St. Thekla's Convent at the Antiochian Village in Bolivar, Pennsylvania, have been posted here. Hat tip to Byzantine Texas for posting this first!

Decisions Taken on Jerusalem, Western Rites by ROCOR Synod

At its recent session the full Synod Abroad of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) took several decisions regarding the life of the ROCOR, among them organizing a stavropeghial vicariate under the supervision of Bishop Jerome (Shaw) of Manhattan for the care of the ROCOR's Western Orthodox faithful, the appointment of Hegumen Tikhon (Amelchenya) as head of the Synodal Russian Orthodox Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, the elevation of Bishop Gabriel (Chemodakov) of Montreal to the rank of archbishop, and the blessing of a request that the Kursk-Root Icon visit the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan.

In addition to the reports on the dioceses by its members the Synod Abroad also heard a report from Archbishop Justinian (Ovchinnikov) of Narofominsk on the state of the patriarchal Russian Orthodox representation to the American Orthodox Church (OCA) in the United States. Bishop Job (Smakouz) of Kashira, head of the patriarchal Russian Orthodox representation to the Canadian Orthodox Church (OCA), was not present at the session. More here.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church Distances Itself from Tent Church Removal

The autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church has distanced itself from association with the recently dismantled tent church at the Ukrainian Parliament, saying that the parish should have followed the sanitation guidelines laid down by the city administration so that the tent church would not be removed. More here.

Egyptian Armed Forces Will Not End Cairo Sit-In

The Egyptian Armed Forces have stated their intention not to end a Coptic sit-in in front of the Egyptian state media offices in Cairo and to protect the protesters there from further attacks. More here.

Boyadzhik Commemorates Victims of Turkish Massacre

Yesterday marked the 135th anniversary of the slaughter of the villagers of Boyadzhik by the Ottoman Turks and was celebrated by Metropolitan Ioanikiy of Sliven with a memorial in Boyadzhik's Church of St. Demetrius. The names of the victims of the massacre have been forwarded by the Eparchy of Sliven to the Bulgarian Orthodox Holy Synod to be glorified as New Martyrs. More (in Bulgarian) here.

Orthodox Church in Montenegro Rejects Proposal of a Change in Its Status

The Orthodox Church in Montenegro has released a statement criticizing the recent proposals of a major Montenegrin political party regarding changing the status of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, which is currently part of the Pech Patriarchate based in Belgrade. Among other things the statement notes the irony of an avowedly secular political party making proposals vis-a-vis changing the affiliation of a purely religious organization. More (in Serbian) here.

Update: A good English-language article surveying the issue can be found here.

Foundation of New Cathedral Laid in Tbilisi

Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili) of Mtskheta-Tbilisi has laid the foundation for a new cathedral dedicated to the Mother of God the Gatekeeper (also known as the Iveron Icon) in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Participating in the service were Archbishop Feognost (Guzikov) of Sergiev Posad, auxiliary to the Moscow Patriarchate and superior of Holy Trinity Lavra, and representatives of the other Local Orthodox Churches. More (in Russian) here.

Quote of the Day: Fr. Alexander Elchaninov

"In our present life everything is so uncertain, insecure, painful, almost intolerable, that death in no way appears as something terrifying. I often think of death as a calm and luminous haven, where there is no sickness, no sadness and, in particular, no parting. When, during morning and evening prayers, I pray for my loved ones in minutes of sadness, I am almost glad to think that I will soon be with them, and their life seems more certain than our phantom existence."

From page 117 of "The Diary of a Russian Priest," a posthumous compilation of the notes of Fr. Alexander Elchaninov, a Russian Orthodox priest who served in the south of France after the Bolshevik Revolution.

St. Irene the Great-Martyr

Christ is risen! Joyous feast! St. Irene was a renowned missionary and virgin-martyr of the 4th century Church who converted many to Orthodox Christianity and endured great sufferings for her Lord before being translated to heaven near Ephesus in Asia Minor. More on her life can be found here. May her blessing and prayer be with us all!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Elder Cleopa Still Heals, Works Miracles

There are growing reports of miracles being worked through the prayers of reposed Elder Cleopa (Ilie) of Sihastria. More here. Hat tip to Mystagogy for posting this!

Moscow Patriarchate Rejects Abkhazian Orthodox Attempt to Organize a Metropolia at New Athos

The Moscow Patriarchate has rejected an attempt by the Abkhazian Orthodox clergy and laity to establish a metropolitanate for the Church of Abkhazia, reaffirming the necessity of an existing hierarchy for the organization of an independent Orthodox Church. More here.

Armenian Orthodox Church in Georgia Remains Unregistered

The status of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Georgia remains unresolved as the government has still not registered the Armenian Orthodox Diocese of Georgia or discussed with the Georgian Orthodox Church the return of occupied Armenian Orthodox churches to the Diocese of Georgia. More here.

Serb Referendum Canceled in Bosnia-Herzegovina

A referendum in Bosnia-Herzegovina's Serb Republic over the legitimacy of the country's federal courts, which have been accused of being biased against the country's Serb residents, has been canceled under pressure from the European Union. More here.

Jobs: Winnipeg Cathedral Seeking Choir Director

Holy Protection Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is seeking a new choir director with a knowledge of both Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian folk music. More here.

Kiev Theological Academy/Seminary Choir Visits France

Archbishop Antoniy (Pakanich) of Boryspil', auxiliary to Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev, is leading a pilgrimage to holy places in France and Monaco in conjunction with a tour of the Choir of the Kiev Theological Seminary and Academy in the country. More (in Ukrainian) here.

Grabarka Monastery Hosts 32nd Youth Pilgrimage

The 32nd annual Polish Orthodox youth pilgrimage was held this past weekend at the Mount Grabarka Monastery of Sts. Mary and Martha in eastern Poland with the participation of clergymen of the Polish and Belorussian Orthodox Churches. More (in Russian) here.

Batak Celebrates Its New Martyrs

Celebrations in Bulgaria honoring the recently glorified New Martyrs of Batak have concluded. Representatives of the Constantinopolitan, Alexandrian, Antiochian, Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Romanian, Cypriot, Greek, Albanian, Polish, Czechoslovak, and American Orthodox Orthodox Churches participated in the celebratory services, while the Bulgarian government, to mark the occasion, returned Holy Resurrection Church in Batak to the care of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. More (in Bulgarian) here.

Patriarch Bartholomew Visits Bithynia's Ruined Churches

Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople has undertaken a tour of the ruined churches of the ancient Anatolian region of Bithynia in what today is Turkey. Among other places Patriarch Bartholomew visited the Church of St. George in Moudania, now site of the town government's administrative offices, and the Chinolakkou Monastery of St. Stephen in Triglia, which is now a mosque. More (in Romanian) here.

Synod Abroad Releases Epistle

The Synod Abroad of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) has released an epistle in commemoration of the anniversaries of the ROCOR's organization and the reunion of the Moscow Patriarchate and the ROCOR. The full text can be found here.

St. Monica of Tagaste

Christ is risen! Joyous feast! St. Monica was the mother of one of the great Fathers of the Orthodox West, St. Augustine of Hippo, and her prayers are credited with bringing him to faith. More on her life can be found here. May her blessing and prayers be with us all!

Two Levels of Autocephaly?

Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople is being accused of indirectly laying the foundations for the creation of two levels of autocephaly within Orthodoxy by distinguishing between the Orthodox Churches recognized by the councils of the Roman Empire (whose first hierarchs have been invited to a synaxis later this year) and those Orthodox Churches organized outside the borders of the Roman Empire. More (in Greek) here.

Romanian Orthodox Holy Synod to Elect New Archbishop of Alba Iulia, Discuss Excommunication

In addition to its excommunication by the Church of Jerusalem the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church will be considering other recent developments in world Orthodoxy and the election of the next Archbishop of Alba Iulia. More (in Romanian) on the latter here.

OCA Dallas Cathedral Holds Town Hall Meeting with Bishop Nikon

Bishop Nikon (Liolin) of Boston and the Albanians, locum tenens of the American Orthodox Diocese of Dallas and Southeastern America, has held a town hall meeting at St. Seraphim's Cathedral in Dallas to discuss the rather numerous concerns of the cathedral parish regarding its future, the future of the Diocese of Dallas, and the place of Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of Washington in the American Orthodox Church. More here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Historic Wooden Church Burns Down

A historic 18th century wooden church has burned down in Zalyzhzhia, Ukraine. More here.

Free Greek School to Open in North London

Plans have been announced for the organization of a free Greek Orthodox school for north London's Greek community. More here.

Turkish Minister Visits Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Constantinople

Turkey's minister for talks with the European Union has visited the seat of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Turkey, St. Mary's Church in Constantinople, and met with Metropolitan Mor Philoxenos (Cetin), head of the patriarchal Vicariate of Constantinople, to discuss the place of Turkey's native Suryoyo minority in Turkish life. More here.

Coptic, Ethiopian Orthodox Churches Discuss Relations

Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) of Alexandria has met with a delegation from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church to discuss relations between the latter and the Coptic Orthodox Church as well as recent developments in Egyptian and Ethiopian relations generally. More here.

Park Opened in Memory of Hrant Dink

A park has been opened in the Turkish town of Akdeniz in memory of murdered Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. More here.

Kiev Patriarchate Disciplines Metropolitan of Kryvyi Rih and Bohorodsk

In its recent meeting the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate removed its Metropolitan Adrian of Kryvyi Rih from his diocese in Ukraine because of his attempt to join the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (which refused his request). Metropolitan Adrian remains head of the Eparchy of Bohorodsk that the Kiev Patriarchate maintains in central Russia. More here.

Tent Church in Kiev Torn Down

Ukrainian authorities have removed a tent church outside the Ukrainian Parliament set up in protest of the illegal seizure of a church in western Ukraine of ultra-nationalists working with the Kiev Patriarchate. More here.

Abkhazian Orthodox Conference Appeals to World Orthodox Churches

The Georgian Orthodox Church has called on a national conference of the Abkhazian Orthodox Church to give up its call for the restoration of its past autocephaly and submit to the Georgian-dominated Patriarchate of Mtskheta-Tbilisi. The conference itself organized the Orthodox Church in Abkhazia as an archdiocese with its see at the New Athos Monastery and appealed to the first hierarchs of the Local Orthodox Churches to work together to resolve the status of the Church of Abkhazia. More here.

Metropolitan Volodymyr Visits Western Ukraine

Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev has begun a pastoral visit to the eparchies of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in western Ukraine and to the Pochaev Lavra. More (in Russian) here.

Catholicos Aram Visits Kuwait

Catholicos Aram I (Keshishian) of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia has begun a visit to Kuwait to visit the Armenian Orthodox community there and participate in the the 50th anniversary celebrations of Kuwait City's Armenian school. More here.

Serbian Orthodox Assembly of Bishops Begins

The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church has opened in Belgrade, Serbia, with a Divine Liturgy served by Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovich) of Pech together with his brother hierarchs. More here.

Update (1:07pm): Reportedly on the agenda of the current session of the Assembly is a decision on the excommunication of the schismatic former Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren and the creation of new eparchies. More here.

UAE Parish Becomes Cathedral

Over the weekend Catholicos Moran Mar Baselios Thoma I of Kottayam and the East concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with other hierarchs of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church in the Church of St. George in Al Ain, UAE, which by a decree of Patriarch Ignatios Zakka I (Iwas) of Antioch was elevated to the rank of a cathedral. More (in Arabic) here.

Bulgarian and Russian Orthodox Hierarchs Discuss Inter-Orthodox Relations

Patriarch Maxim (Minkov) of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Church have met together with other hierarchs of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Sofia, Bulgaria, to discuss relations between the two sister Orthodox Churches and recent developments in relations between all the Local Orthodox Churches. More (in Russian) here.

Update (17/5/2011): An English-language report on the meeting can be found here.

Constantinopolitan, Russian Orthodox Hierarchs Concelebrate in Cappadocia

Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople and Archbishop Arseniy (Epifanov) of Istra, auxiliary of the Moscow Patriarchate, have concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with other hierarchs and clergy of the Constantinopolitan and Russian Orthodox Churches in the village of Arvissos (Gyulsehir) as part of their joint pilgrimage to Cappadocia. More (in Russian) here.

Photo of the Day: Consecration of Idaho Church

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph (al-Zehlaoui) of Los Angeles of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America consecrates Holy Myrrhbearers' Church in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

St. Leontius of Vilnius Glorified in Minsk

This past Sunday Metropolitan Filaret (Vakhromeyev) of the Belorussian Orthodox Church celebrated the glorification of Archimandrite St. Leontius (Karpovich) of Vilnius, a widely venerated saint in Belarus who led the resistance to the Union of Brest in what today is Lithuania and Belarus. The glorification was concelebrated by hierarchs of the Belorussian Orthodox Church and many clergy from the Orthodox Churches in Belarus and Lithuania. More (in Russian) here.

Metropolitan Hilarion Visits Bulgaria

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk has begun a visit to Bulgaria to meet with the leadership of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and participate in the celebrations commemorating the newly glorified Bulgarian New Martyrs of Batak. More (in Russian) here.

St. Theodosius of the Kiev Caves

Christ is risen! Христос воскрес! Joyous feast! С праздником! St. Theodosius is one of the renowned early abbots of the Kiev Caves Lavra of the Dormition in Ukraine and is often remembered in the same breath as St. Anthony, the Lavra's founder. During his abbacy the Lavra's communal rule (устав) was adopted by the brotherhood. More on St. Theodosius' life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!