Thursday, June 30, 2011

Romanian President Condemns Former King of Romania as Pro-Nazi, Pro-Soviet

Romanian President Traian Basescu has strongly criticized King Michael I of Romania, accusing him of complicity in the Holocaust during World War II and of serving Soviet interests in the country. President Basescu's comments have stunned Romanians, among whom King Michael remains highly popular. Although King Michael's reign saw the rise of a pro-Nazi government in the country, it was the king who organized the overthrow of the fascist regime. He later sought to remain in Romania as the Soviet Union orchestrated the rise to power of a Communist regime there, but abdicated when the new Romanian Communist authorities threatened to execute 1,000 Romanians if he did not do so. More here.

DC Monastery Received into the ROCOR

The Greek Orthodox sisterhood brought by Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) to establish a monastery in the District of Columbia has been received into the Diocese of New York and Eastern America of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). The Monastery was released to the ROCOR by Metropolitan Jonah, implying that its sisterhood was finally granted a release to the OCA by its diocesan metropolitan in Greece. More here.

Antiochian Orthodox Priest Leading Demonstration in Orlando

An Antiochian Orthodox priest from northwestern Florida is headed to Orlando, Florida, to lead a demonstration there in support of an organization facing legal trouble for feeding some of the city's homeless. More here. Hat tip to Byzantine Texas for posting this first!

In Memoriam: Fr. Philaret (Konstantakopoulos) of the Holy Lavra

The abbot of the Peloponnesus' Holy Lavra, Archimandrite Philaret (Konstantakopoulos), has fallen asleep at the age of fifty-five. Fr. Philaret was born in the southern Peloponnesus near the town of Messinia, eventually leaving his home as a youth to enter the Holy Lavra, where he was tonsured a monk at the age of nineteen. At twenty-one Fr. Philaret was ordained a deacon and at twenty-seven he was ordained a priest. He later served as chancellor of the Metropolis of Elassona in Thessaly before returning to the Holy Lavra in 1985 and becoming its abbot in 1993. Fr. Philaret's funeral will be served tomorrow at the Holy Lavra by Metropolitan Amvrosios of Kalavryta. More (in Greek) here.

The Holy Lavra is well known as the birthplace of modern Greece, being the site from which the first successful Greek uprising against Ottoman Turkish rule was launched in 1821. The Lavra dates to the 10th century and was burned down twice by the Ottomans and once by the Nazi Germans. More on the Holy Lavra can be found here.

Serbia Protests Reclassification of Kosovar Monuments as 'Byzantine Albanian'

The Serbian government is blocking a Kosovar initiative in UNESCO to reclassify historic Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches in Kosovo as 'Byzantine Albanian' monuments. The move comes as the Kosovar regime has undertaken a sweeping rewrite of its history, recasting the founder of the Serbian Empire and the nobleman who killed Ottoman Padishah Murat during the Battle of Kosovo Polje (among others) as ethnic Albanians. More here.

New Moscow Churches Not Financed With State Funds

The chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church's information department, Vladimir Legoyda, has clarified for the Russian public that the new churches being built in metropolitan Moscow are not being built with taxpayers' money, but with church funds and private donations. The city government has allocated land for the churches, but is not contributing to their actual construction. More (in Russian) here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Serbian Defense Ministry, Orthodox Church Sign Chaplaincy Agreement

The Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian Ministry of Defense has concluded an agreement allowing for the provision of pastoral care by the Serbian Orthodox Church for the members of Serbia's armed forces in active service. More here.

Metropolitan Varsanufiy On Smaller Dioceses, Regional Metropolias

In an interview recently published in The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Varsanufiy (Sudakov) of Saransk has responded to questions on the ongoing division of the Russian Orthodox Church's existing eparchies into smaller ones, noting that it is impossible for a hierarch to be an effective shepherd of his diocese when it consists of 300 parishes or more as is often the case today.

As stated by Metropolitan Varsanufiy in the interview, the Russian Orthodox Church's long-term goal is to raise the ratio of churches to people (currently at one for every ten thousand Russians) and enable the Church's episcopate to better oversee their flocks through the creation of smaller, more manageable dioceses. (Metropolitan Varsanufiy's own Eparchy of Saransk included over four hundred parishes prior to its recent division into three eparchies.) In the interview Metropolitan Varsanufiy also discussed the possibility of devolving some central authority to regional metropolias, as has already occurred in the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan.

The full interview (in Russian) can be found here.

Catholicos Karekin Visits St. Petersburg

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin has begun his visit to St. Petersburg, being welcomed to the city by Bishop Yezras (Nersissian) of Novo-Nakhichevan, who serves the Armenian Orthodox Church in Russia. Catholicos Karekin began his time in St. Petersburg with a visit to the city's Armenian Orthodox Church of St. Catherine before moving on to participate in the launch of a book on Russian-Armenian relations. More on Catholicos Karekin's ongoing visit to St. Petersburg can be found here.

St. Moses of Optina

Joyous feast! С праздником! St. Moses was one of the famed elders of the Optina Hermitage, in the early 1800s beginning his pursuit of the monastic life first at the Sarov Monastery, then home to St. Seraphim, and then with the hermits of the Roslavl forests. There in the forests St. Moses became a spiritual son of one of the disciples of St. Paisius (Velichkovskiy) of Neamts and was tonsured a monk with the name Moses. (The Saint was originally named Timothy.)

In 1822 St. Moses and several of his brother monks moved at the suggestion of the Bishop of Kaluga to settle in a skete of the Optina Hermitage, located not far from Kaluga to the southwest of Moscow. There the monks built a church and skete and St. Moses was ordained to the priesthood, consequently being appointed confessor for the whole of the Optina Hermitage. Four years later the Saint was appointed superior of Optina.

During St. Moses' abbacy the Optina Hermitage saw significant changes, with the Hermitage growing both in the number of monks resident there as well as structurally and territorially. It also became a spiritual center for much of the Russian Empire as Elders Sts. Leonid and Macarius joined Optina's brotherhood during St. Moses' abbacy, though St. Moses was himself an elder.

As his death approached St. Moses began to bless Optina's monks one final time. After they had all received his blessing St. Moses continued to bless the empty room. It was later discovered that at that same time he had been seen in a vision in St. Petersburg blessing faithful there known to him. Several years after the Saint's repose his relics were found to be incorrupt. He was glorified locally in the Eparchy of Kaluga in 1996 and glorified by the whole of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000 some 138 years after his repose.

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Montenegro Demands Orthodox Church Register

The Montenegrin Ministry of the Interior has overlooked laws in force and demanded that the Orthodox Church in Montenegro apply for registration as a legitimate religious organization. Under Montenegrin law religious organizations that existed at the time the last regulations regulating their existence was enacted in 1977 are not required to register with the government. More here.

Egyptian Court Dismisses Shehata Case

An Egyptian court has thrown out an Islamist-backed lawsuit demanding that the location of Camelia Shehata be revealed, stating that investigations had shown she was not being held against her will by the Coptic Orthodox Church. More here.

All-Ukrainian Council Preparations Continue

The autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church is preparing for its first All-Ukrainian Council since the 1992 council that saw the election of Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) as Metropolitan of Kiev and the confirmation of the Church of Ukraine's union with the Moscow Patriarchate.

The upcoming council, to be held this July, will be comprised of all the ruling and auxiliary hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, diocesan delegates (representing each eparchy's clergy, laity, and monastics), the rectors of Ukraine's theological academies and seminaries, and the chairmen of the various synodal institutions. The Council is expected to review the development of church life in Ukraine over the past 19 years. More (in Ukrainian) here.

Establishment of New Serbian Orthodox Diocese Marked in Vienna

Bishops Irinej of Bachka and Constantine of Central Europe of the Serbian Orthodox Church have concelebrated the Divine Liturgy in Vienna's Church of the Resurrection to mark the formal handing over of care for the Serbian Orthodox Church in Austria and Switzerland to Bishop Irinej, who was made locum tenens of the new Eparchy of Vienna during the recent Holy Assembly of Bishops in Belgrade. More here.

Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Returns to Syria

Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatios Zakka I (Iwas) of the Syriac Orthodox Church has returned to Damascus after traveling to Germany for medical attention. More (in Arabic) here.

St. Lazar the Tsar-Martyr

Joyous feast! St. Lazar, also known as Lazarus, is remembered primarily for his leadership of the Serbian armies at the Battle of Kosovo Polje that saw the destruction of much of the Serbian nobility and the occupation of what was left of the old Serbian Empire by the Ottoman Turks. St. Lazar first rose to prominence at the court of the last Serbian emperor, Tsar Stephen Uros V, after whose death the Saint assumed leadership of what was left of the Serbian Empire with the titles prince and autocrat, hence the common references to him as also being a tsar or 'caesar.'

Although St. Lazar labored to unify and strengthen free Serbia, his defeat and martyrdom at Kosovo Polje left Serbia without strong leadership or enough troops to continue the resistance to Ottoman encroachment and thus the battle, which equally devastated both sides, led to the extension of the Turkish Yoke to Serbia.

St. Lazar's incorrupt relics were translated from a church near Kosovo Polje to the Ravanica Monastery, which he had founded during his reign, two years after the battle in 1391. When the Ottoman Turks destroyed the Ravanica Monastery in the late 1600s the Saint's relics were removed to Srem and then to Belgrade during World War II. In 1989 on the 600th anniversary of his martyrdom St. Lazar's relics were again translated, this time to their former resting place at the Ravanica Monastery.

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

St. Michael of Kiev

Joyous feast! С праздником! St. Michael was the first Metropolitan of Kiev elected by the Church of Constantinople after the conversion of St. Vladimir and Rus' in 988, arriving in Rus' in 989 with other clergy sent to continue the Christianization of the country. Some chronicles say that the Saint was a Syrian, but others claim him to have been a Bulgarian or Serb.

Metropolitan Michael was zealous in preaching the Gospel, traveling throughout Rus' to baptize and teach his young flock and everywhere founding churches and schools. The Saint was gentle, but also strict and is remembered in some chronicles as 'the Initiator' for his work in implanting Orthodoxy in the hearts of the people of Rus'.

St. Michael reposed in 992 having only served three years in the Kiev cathedra and was buried in the city's Church of the Tithe. More on the Saint's life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

St. Jerome of Stridonium

Joyous feast! St. Jerome was born to an Orthodox family in the Roman city of Stridonium, which is believed to have been in ancient Dalmatia, now part of Croatia, or Pannonia, now divided between western Hungary, eastern Austria, and countries of the former Yugoslavia. As a youth he was sent to Rome to further his studies. While there he fell into dissolution, but by the age of twenty the Saint had repented and been baptized.

Not long after his baptism St. Jerome visited Gaul, present day France, and there began to desire to dedicate his life to God as a monk. Returning to his home city in 372 the Saint found his parents departed and took over the care of his siblings, putting everything in order before leaving the West to study and struggle in the monasteries of Syria before traveling to Constantinople, where he met Sts. Gregory the Theologian and Gregory of Nyssa before leaving in 381 for Rome.

In Rome St. Jerome continued his study of the Scriptures, but became resented for his denunciation of the lax morals of the city's Orthodox faithful. Consequently the Saint left the imperial city for the Holy Land, where he settled in a cave in Bethlehem near the place of the Lord's birth and entered more deeply into the ascetic life. Troubled in his last years by the Goths' sack of Rome and the depredations of Arab tribes, St. Jerome reposed around the year 420. His relics were later translated from Bethlehem to Rome.

St. Jerome is remembered for his prolific commentaries on the Scriptures and writings on the Faith, asceticism, and history. Perhaps his most lasting legacy, however, was his translation of the Bible into the Latin, with his version, the Vulgate, becoming the standard text used throughout the Church in the West. More on the Saint's life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

St. Augustine of Hippo

Joyous feast! St. Augustine was born in the Berber territory of Numidia, then the Roman province of Africa and now divided between Algeria and Tunisia, in 354 and was raised by his devout mother, St. Monica, who eventually sent him to ancient Carthage to further his studies.

The Saint, then a Manichean, eventually became a professor of rhetoric and moved to Milan to teach in the late 300s. In Milan St. Augustine met the great St. Ambrose and was converted to Orthodoxy, giving away his worldly possessions to the poor to become a monk.

In 391 St. Augustine was ordained a priest and, four years later, consecrated to the episcopacy and after some time as an auxiliary was in 395 elected Bishop of Hippo in Numidia. During his 35 years as a bishop St. Augustine wrote his famous Confessions as well as many works combating the various heresies besetting the Church at that time.

St. Augustine fell asleep during the Vandal siege of his see in 430 at the age of seventy-six. More on his life can be found here and here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bulgarian PM Supports Religious Education in Schools

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has expressed his support for mandatory religious education in Bulgaria's schools at the recent consecration of the Church of St. Procopius of Varna by Metropolitan Kiril (Yordanov) of Varna of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. During his remarks in Varna the Bulgarian prime minister singled out atheism as the single greatest threat to the Bulgarian nation. More here.

Ustashe Victims Commemorated in Jadovno

Bishop Gerasim (Popovic) of Gornyo-Karlovac earlier today celebrated the Divine Liturgy and a memorial on the site of the Jadovno concentration camp in western Croatia, where during World War II the Croatian Ustashe killed roughly 38,000 Serbs and 2,000 Jews. The services were attended by pilgrims from throughout Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Serbia, many of whom had relatives who died in the Jadovno camp. More (in Serbian) here.

Bulgarian Orthodox Church Commemorates Exarch Joseph I

This past Saturday the Bulgarian Orthodox Church commemorated Exarch Joseph (Yovchev) of Sofia, the second head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church after the restoration of its autocephaly in 1872. The Divine Liturgy was led by a patriarchal auxiliary, Bishop Tikhon of Tiveropol, whilst the memorial that followed it was concelebrated by Patriarch Maxim (Minkov) of Sofia and Metropolitans Dometian of Vidin, Neofit of Ruse, Bishop Tikhon, and patriarchal auxiliary Bishop Ioan of Znepole at Exarch Joseph's tomb. More (in Bulgarian) here.

360th Anniversary of Battle of Berestechko Commemorated in Volhynia

This past weekend on the Sunday of All the Saints of Ukraine Patriarch Philaret (Denysenko) of Kiev celebrated the festal Sunday Liturgy in the historic Monastery of St. George in Plyasheva.

St. George's was built on the site of the graves of the Cossack soldiers who fell during a battle in nearby Berestechko that was fought in 1651 between the forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Zaporozhian Cossack armies under Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky. After the Divine Liturgy the 360th anniversary of the Battle of Berestechko was commemorated by Patriarch Philaret with a memorial for the repose of the Cossack soldiers who were killed during its course.

Metropolitans Dymytry of L'viv and Yevsevy of Rivne; Archbishops Iov of Kremenets, Mikhail of Lutsk, and Ioan of Cherkasy; Bishops Epifany of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytskyi, Onufry of Vinnytsia, Nestor of Ternopil', and Ilarion of Chernigov; and many other clergy of the Kiev Patriarchate concelebrated the services with Patriarch Philaret. More (in Ukrainian) here.

Catholicos Karekin Leaves for St. Petersburg, Riga

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin has departed for Russia and Latvia to begin a pastoral visit to the Armenian Diaspora in St. Petersburg and Riga. In St. Petersburg Catholicos Karekin will be participating in the 300th anniversary celebrations of the Armenian community there, whilst in Riga he will consecrate a new Armenian Orthodox church built for the Latvian capital. More here.

Clashes Break Out in Cairo Suburb

Muslims and Copts have clashed today in Cairo's Shubra al-Kheima district. The violence comes after a Copt shot and killed two Muslims on Sunday and the area's Muslims found out the suspected killer was hiding in a church in the district. Police have cordoned off Shubra al-Kheima's churches while an investigation into the killings and clashes is undertaken. More here.

New Martyrs of Naousa Glorified in Greece

This past Sunday Metropolitan Panteleimon of Berea and Naousa together with brother hierarchs of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church; hierarchs representing the Alexandrian, Jerusalemite, Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Cypriot, Greek, and Czechoslovak Orthodox Churches; and clergymen representing the Albanian and Polish Orthodox Churches celebrated the glorification of the New Martyrs of Naousa in Naousa's Church of the Transfiguration. More (in Greek) here.

The New Martyrs of Naousa were martyred for the Orthodox Faith by the Ottoman Turks in 1822 following the city's capture of the city during an unsuccessful attempts by Macedonian Greeks to liberate the region from Ottoman rule. The glorification of the Naousa New Martyrs was recently approved by the Holy Synod of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church, which holds jurisdiction over the region despite its oversight by the Church of Greece.

Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Visits Greece

Metropolitan Mor Gregorios (Yohanna) of Aleppo of the Syriac Orthodox Church has concluded a visit to Greece. During his time in Greece Metropolitan Mor Gregorios met with representatives of the Greek Foreign Ministry to discuss the ongoing unrest in Syria and also with Archbishop Jerome II (Liapis) of Athens to convey to him the greetings of Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatios Zakka I (Iwas) of Antioch and discuss relations between the Syriac and Greek Orthodox Churches. More (in Arabic) here.

Metropolitan Hilarion Holds Press Conference on Proposed Slavonic Reform

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk has given a press conference on the subject of the impending updating of Slavonic, the primary liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox Church, at the request of Russian journalists.

During the press conference Metropolitan Hilarion noted the efforts of the Church prior to the Bolshevik Revolution to begin a revision of the Slavonic used in the service books to make it more comprehensible and the need for this to be undertaken today. He also, however, denied that a need existed for the services to be translated into modern Russian, saying both that they would still be difficult to understand at points and that such a translation could cause a schism like that of the Old Believers in the 17th century.

More on the press conference and Metropolitan Hilarion's statements can be found here.

Suspects in Sohag Clashes Detained

Two suspects in Saturday's violence between Muslims and Orthodox Copts in the Upper Egyptian city of Sohag have been detained pending further investigation into their involvement in the violence, which left eight houses belonging to Copts burned to the ground. The conflict erupted when rumors spread amongst the city's Islamists that a Copt was building an unlicensed church. More here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday of All the Saints of North America

Joyous feast! Today we honor all the saints glorified by God in North America, both those clearly revealed to us, as St. Herman was, and those known only to God, as many of our yiayias and babas and whoever else no doubt are. For more links to information on the lives of the North American saints and some of the righteous known to us see my earlier (and still growing) post on the subject. May their blessings and prayers be with us all!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Catholicos Aram Welcomes Syrian President's Address

Catholicos Aram I (Keshishian) of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia has indirectly stated his support for the recent statement of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, also expressing his hope that political stability would return to Syria. More here.

Orthodox Church in Montenegro Responds to Illegal Immigration Claims

The Metropolitanate of Cetinje has responded to the Montenegrin government's claims that it has sponsored the illegal immigration of many of its clergymen from neighboring Serbia, noting that the cases cited by the government have all been in the process of legalization, a process apparently obstructed by the Montenegrin police and then used in the government's media campaign against the Orthodox Church in Montenegro. More (in Serbian) here.

Georgian Orthodox Patriarch to Attend Anniversary Celebrations in Kiev

Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church has received a delegation of the Georgian Orthodox Church at his residence in Kiev. During the meeting the plans for next month's celebrations in honor of the 45th anniversary of Metropolitan Volodymyr's consecration, in which Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) of the Georgian Orthodox Church will participating, were discussed. More (in Ukrainian) here.

Patriarch Bartholomew Visits Athens

Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople has begun a visit to Athens accompanied by several of metropolitans of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church. The ecumenical patriarch was received in the Greek capital by Archbishop Jerome II (Liapis) of the Greek Orthodox Church. More (in Greek) here.

Appeal Made for New Eparchies in Primorye

Archbishop Veniamin (Pushkar) of Vladivostok has submitted a request to Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow that the creation of two additional eparchies out of his existing Eparchy of Vladivostok be considered for the better care of the Orthodox faithful living in Russia's Primorye Territory. The request was submitted during a meeting between Patriarch Kirill, Archbishop Veniamin, and Governor Sergey Darkin of Primorye. More (in Russian) here.

Upper Egyptian Police Remove Priest After Muslim Death Threats

Egyptian police have removed a Coptic Orthodox priest serving St. George's Church in Beni Ahmed, Upper Egypt, after a crowd of local Muslims surrounded the church during the Divine Liturgy yesterday saying that they would kill the priest. More here and here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pope Shenouda Meets with Former Arab League Leader in Cairo

Former head of the Arab League and Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Moussa has visited Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) of the Coptic Orthodox Church at the Cathedral of St. Mark in Abbasiya, Cairo. During their meeting the two discussed ongoing political developments in Egypt and the need for a new constitution that would protect the rights of all of Egypt's citizens. More here.

Antiochian Orthodox Holy Synod Elects 12 New Bishops for Levant and Diaspora

The Holy Synod of the Antiochian Orthodox Church has ended its spring session, which was held this year in Lebanon's Balamand Monastery. During the session the Holy Synod elected twelve new bishops. Archimandrites Nicholas (Baalbeki), Isaac (Barakat), and Kosta (Kiyal) were elected to serve as patriarchal auxiliaries; Archimandrites Athanasios (Fahd), Elias (Tameh), and Demitri (Sharbak) were elected to serve as auxiliaries in the Metropolis of Akkar; Archimandrites Yuhanna (Haykal), Ephrem (Ma'louli), and Ignatius (al-Hawshi) were elected to serve as auxiliaries in the Metropolis of Paris; Archimandrites Marcos (Cury), and Roman (Dawoud) were elected to serve as auxiliaries in the Metropolis of Sao Paulo; and Archimandrite Ignacio (Samaan) was elected to serve as an auxiliary for the Metropolis of Mexico City. Axios! More here.

In Memoriam: Mother Christina (Baz) of Saidnaya

Mother Christina (Baz), abbess of the patriarchal Antiochian Orthodox Monastery of Our Lady of Saydnaya in Saydnaya, Syria, has fallen asleep in the Lord. Mother Christina was born in 1934 and joined the sisterhood at Our Lady of Saydnaya at the age of nine after the death of her father, eventually being elected abbess in 2006. She reposed two days ago on 21 June, the feast of St. Ephraim of Antioch.

The funeral services for Mother Christina were served at Our Lady of Saydnaya Monastery, with several hierarchs and clergy concelebrating. A representative of the Syriac Orthodox Church, patriarchal auxiliary Metropolitan Mor Dionysios (Yuhanon), was also present. More (in Arabic) here and here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hungarians Call for Investigation of Alba Iulia Attack

Hungary's ruling party has called on the Romanian government to investigate a recent attack on a Hungarian Catholic clergyman in the city of Alba Iulia during which the clergyman's attackers shouted anti-Hungarian slogans and beat him with baseball bats. More here.

Relations between Hungary and Romania have been improving in recent years, but Romania's Hungarian minority still faces a great deal of discrimination for its past dominance of local government when Transylvania (now northwestern Romania) was part of the Kingdom of Hungary.

Foundations of 14th Century Kosovar Church Damaged

The Eparchy of Raska and Prizren of the Serbian Orthodox Church has reported that the historic 14th Church of St. Cyriaca in Potkaljaja, a suburb of Prizren, has had its foundations damaged by new construction in its vicinity. More here.

Patriarch Cyril Commemorates WWII Dead

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's entrance into World War II (due to its invasion by the Nazis) Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow has served a memorial in Moscow's historic Transfiguration Cemetery for the many Soviet soldiers who died during the conflict with the Axis powers. More (in Russian) here.

Queen Maria of Yugoslavia Remembered in Belgrade

Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovich) of the Serbian Orthodox Church served a memorial earlier today for Queen Maria of Yugoslavia, who reposed 50 years ago on this date. The anniversary of Queen Maria's death coincides with the opening this year of an exhibition in her honor in the former royal palace in Belgrade. Crown Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic and other members of the Yugoslav royal family were in attendance at the memorial, which was served in the royal palace's Church of St. Andrew. More here.

Ancient Church, Mosques Unearthed in Luxor

Coptic Orthodox and Arab Muslim ruins have been unearthed by Egyptian archaeologists in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor. The ruins include a church built in a style reminiscent of pagan Egyptian temples and two mosques built after the Arab conquest of Egypt. More here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Armenian Orthodox Church Comments on Catholicos Karekin's Visit to Georgia

Commenting on the recent visit of Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin to Georgia Bishop Arshak (Khachatrian), chancellor of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Echmiadzin, said that throughout Catholicos Karekin's time in Georgia he faced obstacles put in place by both the Georgian government and the Georgian Orthodox Church. Bishop Arshak also noted that the communique released by the Georgian Orthodox Church on the meeting of Catholicos Karekin and Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) of Mtskheta-Tbilisi did not represent both Churches despite the Georgian Orthodox Church's claim to the contrary.

Despite Patriarch Ilia's comments yesterday on Catholicos Karekin and the latter's visit, during today's press conference Bishop Arshak expressed his hope that relations between the Churches of Armenia and Georgia would continue to develop. More here and here.

Coptic Orthodox Church Calls for Investigation of Former Interior Minister

The Coptic Orthodox Church has called for the investigation of former Egyptian Minister of the Interior Habib al-Adly for his role in the deadly New Year's Eve bombing in Alexandria that killed 23 Copts. On the basis of the contents of secret police reports obtained by the Coptic Orthodox Church al-Adly is suspected of criminal negligence, and possibly much worse, regarding the bombing. More here.

Gospels to be Published in Modern Georgian

The Georgian Orthodox Church is preparing to release a translation of the Gospels into modern Georgian from Greek and ecclesiastical Georgian undertaken with the blessing of Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) of Mtskheta-Tbilisi. The work of translating the four Gospels has been underway for some 15 years. More (in Greek) here.

Russian Orthodox Church Considers Election of Future Patriarchs, Comprehensibility of Slavonic

In a press conference on the recent meetings of the committees of the 'Inter-Council Presence' of the Russian Orthodox Church representatives of the Church have spoken on the work of the committees in seeking to establish the guidelines for the election of future patriarchs of Moscow and take decisions on principles to guide the updating of the Slavonic-language service books of the Russian Orthodox Church to make the liturgical language more comprehensible for speakers of modern Russian. More (in Russian) here.

Romanian Orthodox Patriarch, Georgian Orthodox Archbishop Meet in Bucharest

Patriarch Daniel (Ciobotea) of the Romanian Orthodox Church has received a representative of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Stephan of Tsageri, in Bucharest. During their meeting the two hierarchs discussed ways in which the two sister Orthodox Churches could draw closer to one another through pilgrimages and other projects. More (in Romanian) here.

Rock 'n Roll Priest Plays in St. Petersburg

An Orthodox priest from Russia's Nizhniy Novgorod region, Fr. Nikolai Kokurin, has made an appearance at an anti-drug rock and roll concert in St. Petersburg to preach and play for the audience. Fr. Nikolai's songs have featured on another musician's album and have also released on his own album. More here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

South Ossetian Supreme Court Rules Out Term Limits Referendum

The South Ossetian Supreme Court has ruled that it is illegal for President Eduard Kokoity to hold a national referendum to abolish restrictions keeping him from running for a third consecutive term as president. More here.

Bishop of Baku Praises Azerbaijani President

Bishop Alexander (Ishchyein) of Baku and the Orthodox Church in Azerbaijan has defended the religious policies of Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev, saying in part that, "Today religion takes its rightful place in society." More here.

Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Says Armenian Orthodox Counterpart "In A Hurry"

Commenting on his failure to release a joint statement with Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin during the latter's visit to Georgia, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) said that his Armenian Orthodox counterpart was "in a hurry" and "young and should gain more experience."

The two patriarchs failed to release a joint statement on their work towards resolving long-standing issues between the Armenian and Georgian Orthodox Churches because of Patriarch Ilia's insistence that Armenia transfer churches in northern Armenia to the tiny Georgian minority in Armenia in exchange for the return of historically Armenian Orthodox churches belonging to Georgia's large Armenian minority that are currently used by the Church of Georgia. More here.

Pope Shenouda Meets with Head of Military Council

Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) of Alexandria and the head of the military council ruling Egypt, Hussein Tantawi, met yesterday to discuss a draft law that would change regulations regarding the construction of new places of worship and the internal financial management of religious organizations as well as a proposed law that would criminalize discrimination on religious grounds. More here.

Memorial Church for Utashe Victims Opened in Bosnia

The foundations of a chapel in Stari Brod, Bosnia, erected in memory of 6,000 Serbs killed there by the Ustashe in 1942 have been consecrated by a representative of Metropolitan Nokolaj of Sarajevo of the Serbian Orthodox Church, with a memorial also being served for the Ustashe victims. More (in Serbian) here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Metropolitan Hilarion Visits Cyprus, Meets with Archbishop Chrysostomos

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk has begun a visit to Cyprus, visiting various Cypriot Orthodox holy places and meeting with Archbishop Chrysostomos II (Demetriou) of Nea Justiniana to discuss relations between the Russian and Cypriot Orthodox Churches. More (in Russian) here.

New Bishop of Kremenchug Consecrated in Kiev

Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev and eight other hierarchs of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church have consecrated Archimandrite Mikolai (Kapustin) as Bishop of Kremenchug during a festal Sunday Liturgy served near the site of the future Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kiev. More (in Ukrainian) here.

New Bishop of Yakutsk Consecrated in Moscow

Earlier today Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow and All Rus' together with twelve hierarchs of the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches consecrated Archimandrite Roman (Lukin) as Bishop of Yakutsk and the Lena in Moscow's Church of Christ the Savior. In his address to Bishop Roman following the festal services Patriarch Kirill called on the new shepherd of Yakutia to "be the protector of this [Yakut] nation and...the father of all believers." More (in Russian) here and here.

St. Lalibela

Joyous feast! On this the 12th of Sené on the Ethiopian calendar we commemorate the righteous Emperor Lalibela. St. Lalibela is remembered as the greatest of the emperors of the Zagwé dynasty that temporarily supplanted the Solomonids in the 1100s and 1200s.

Born in Lasta in what today is northeastern Ethiopia the future emperor was named Lalibela ('the bees acknowledge his supremacy') because at his birth a swarm of bees surrounded him, which at the time was taken as a sign that the child would one day be emperor.

The seeming divine favor naturally made St. Lalibela unpopular with the reigning emperor, and as a young man the Saint retreated from the world to live as a hermit. He later went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land before returning to Ethiopia, where he was acclaimed as emperor even by the reigning Emperor Harbay and enthroned with the name Gebre Mesqel ('servant of the Cross').

During St. Lalibela's reign he established the town of Roha (now called Lalibela after him) as his capital and there carved ten churches out of the ground in accordance with a vision he was given that commanded him to establish Roha as a 'new Jerusalem' in Ethiopia. In addition to having the world-renowned churches in Roha built St. Lalibela also gave generously to the poor.

When the construction of Roha's churches was complete St. Lalibela abdicated in favor of his nephew and reposed in peace. To this day his hand cross is treasured in his former capital and the churches he built continue to amaze pilgrims, who come to the city from throughout Ethiopia. More on his life can be found here and in the Synaxarium of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. May St. Lalibela's blessing and prayers be with us all!

Pictured is St. George's Church, one of the monolithic rock-hewn churches built in Roha during St. Lalibela's reign.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Bishop of Shepetivka Consecrated in Kiev

During the Divine Liturgy this morning Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev and fourteen other hierarchs of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church consecrated Archimandrite Dionisiy (Konstantinov) as Bishop of Shepetivka in the Refectory Church of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius at the Kiev Caves Lavra. More (in Russian) here.

Syriac Orthodox Patriarch, Catholicos Meet in Germany

Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatios Zakka I (Iwas) of Antioch has met with Catholicos Abun Mar Baselios Thomas I of the East in Germany to discuss the decisions of the recent session of the Local Synod of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church. More (in Arabic) here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Greek Orthodox Spokesman Fears Repeat of 1967 Coup in Greece

A spokesman of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira in the United Kingdom has compared the ongoing economic crisis in Greece to the conditions that in 1967 lead to the imposition of a military dictatorship on the country. More here.

UOCC Priest Charged in Alberta Work Scam

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada has removed Fr. John Lipinski from his duties at two parishes northeast of Edmonton, Alberta, after his charging by Canadian police for his involvement in a scam that lured foreign workers to Alberta with false promises of work and fake student visas. The scam netted its organizers more than $1 million in profits. More here.

Coptic Orthodox Church Renews Call for No Youth Protests

The Coptic Orthodox Church has again called on a Coptic Orthodox youth movement not to hold a second sit-in in the Egyptian capital. More here.

Alexandrian Orthodox Cathedral in Libya Vandalized, Looted

The Cathedral of St. George in Tripoli, Libya, seat of the Alexandrian Orthodox Metropolis of Tripoli, was attacked during the night, with its doors being broken down, the holy vessels from the sanctuary and St. George's relics stolen, the interior vandalized, and the Gospels and vestments likewise stolen. The vandalism and thefts were reported to the police, but no action has been taken. More (in Greek) here.

Metropolitan Amfilohije Ready to Appeal Government Mistreatment to European Courts

Serbian Orthodox Metropolitan Amfilohije of Cetinje has stated that the Orthodox Church in Montenegro respects the independence of the Montenegrin state, but expects the state to respect the ancient structure of the Church. During his statements Metropolitan Amfilohije indicated that the Orthodox Church in Montenegro will appeal to European courts in Strasbourg and Brussels should the Montenegrin government not respect the freedom of the Church. More here.

Greek Orthodox Parish in SLC Protests Its Redivision

A Greek Orthodox parish in Salt Lake City, Utah, is considering appealing its division into two parishes by Metropolitan Isaiah (Chronopoulos) of Denver to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The parish is already divided between two churches with two priests, but Metropolitan Isaiah's decision last year to formally divide it into two distinct parishes was met with opposition by Salt Lake City's Greek Orthodox Christians and eventually resulted in Metropolitan Isaiah's withdrawal during a session of the Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America of his decision to divide the parish this past March. Since the resolution of the dispute in New England between St. George's Church in Lynn, Massachusetts, and the Metropolis of Boston, however, Metropolitan Isaiah has reneged on his March decision and is again demanding the division of the parish into two. More (in Greek) here.

Metropolitan Volodymyr Meets with Ukrainian Defense Minister

Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev has met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Mikhail Yezhel to discuss plans for the development of a military chaplaincy and spheres of cooperation between the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church. During the meeting Metropolitan Volodymyr awarded Yezhel the Order of St. Vladimir. More (in Ukrainian) here.

Copts End Minya Protests

Copts protesting in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya have ended their protests after Egyptian police promised to find two teenage Coptic Orthodox girls, Christine Ezzat Fathy and Nancy Magdy Fathy, who went missing this past Sunday. The police's promise comes after clashes between the demonstrators and security forces Wednesday that left six Copts and three policemen injured. More here.

Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Calls for "Stability and Independence" for Syria

In a talk after Sunday Liturgy this past weekend in the Cathedral of St. Ephraim in Burbank, California, visiting Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Mor Gregorios (Yohanna) of Aleppo stressed Syria's right to "stability and independence" and the need for peace in the country and freedom from outside ambitions so that the recent reforms enacted by the government of President Bashar al-Assad can have time to be implemented fully. More (in Arabic) here.

Belorussian Orthodox Discuss Sectarian Activities

Representatives of the dioceses of the Belorussian Orthodox Church have met in Minsk to discuss the activities and growth of sects and cults in Belarus, their beliefs, and the Church's response to them. More (in Russian) here.

Syrian Christians Call for Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace

Representatives of the Orthodox Churches and other Christian organizations present in Damascus, Syria, met yesterday at the seat of the Syriac Orthodox patriarchate to call for a day of fasting and prayer for the return of peace and unity to the country. More (in Arabic) here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

OCA Youth Department to be Represented at 2011 Cornerstone Festival

The youth and young adult ministry department of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) will be participating this year in the Cornerstone Festival, an Evangelical Protestant music festival that generally features a number of bands, speakers, and other performers each year. The department has been okayed by the Festival's director to have a booth at the event and also celebrate daily Vespers and Matins as well as a Divine Liturgy. More here.

Armenian PM Calls on Turkey to Establish Diplomatic Relations with Armenia

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian has called on Turkey to proceed with the implementation of a 2009 agreement to establish full diplomatic relations with Armenia and open their shared border. The Turkish government has refused to formally establish relations with Armenia despite the 2009 agreement on the grounds that Armenia and Artsakh must first resolve their conflict with Azerbaijan. More here.

"Christ...Has Drawn Us Closer to Him"

Three parishes of the Assyrian Church of the East in Baghdad have gathered to celebrate the Divine Liturgy together and encourage one another as Iraqi Christians continue to live daily with the threats of Islamists seeking to purge the country of its non-Muslim minorities. More here.

Alaskan Diocesan Assembly in August to Nominate Episcopal Candidate

It has been announced that this August a special diocesan assembly will meet in Anchorage, Alaska, to nominate a candidate for election by the Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Church as Bishop of Sitka and Alaska. More here.

Catholicos Karekin Meets with Parents of Jailed Armenian Activist in Georgia

During a visit to the Armenian community in southeastern Georgia, Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II of Echmiadzin has met with the parents of jailed Armenian activist Vahan Chakhalyan. The release of Chakhalyan was brought up during Catholicos Karekin's recent meeting in Tbilisi with Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) of the Georgian Orthodox Church. More here.

Bulgaria Declares Day of National Mourning

Bulgaria has declared a day of national mourning today after a bus crash late last night killed eight passengers and wounded a further twenty-two. Members of the Holy Synod served a memorial for the victims this morning in the synodal Church of St. Boris. More here and (in Bulgarian) here.

Bishop Cyril of Stavropol' Meets with Cossack Clergy

Bishop Kirill (Pokrovskiy) of Stavropol' has met with the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church serving Cossack communities and organizations in Russia proper to discuss issues in the lives of Russia's Cossacks. Singled out in particular were the growing influence of neo-paganism amongst the Cossacks and plans to resettle Cossacks immigrating from Kyrgyzstan in southern Russia. More (in Russian) here.

St. Clotilda

Joyous feast! St. Clotilda was Queen of the Franks through her marriage to Clovis I and it was thanks to her influence (and a battlefield victory) that Clovis accepted baptism in 496 and converted the Franks to Orthodoxy. After Clovis' death in 511 St. Clotilda remained for a time in Paris and at the center of Frankish politics, but later withdrew to Tours to live in seclusion and prayer near the relics of St. Martin, for whom she had a strong devotion.

After 34 years as a widow St. Clotilda reposed and was buried with her husband in the mausoleum church they had founded together in Paris. More on her life can be found here. May St. Clotilda's blessing and prayers be with us all!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Site for Future Cathedral Blessed in Diveyevo

Archbishop George (Danilov) of Nizhniy Novgorod has blessed the ground for the construction of a new cathedral at the Diveyevo Monastery that will be dedicated to the Annunciation of the Mother of God. The site of the future cathedral was originally occupied by a church built by the Monastery's sisterhood in disobedience to St. Seraphim that was subsequently destroyed during the Soviet era. More here.

Patriarch Irinej Protests NATO Conference

Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovich) of the Serbian Orthodox Church has protested the holding of a NATO conference in Belgrade, saying that the wounds inflicted by NATO on Serbia have not yet healed. (As is evidenced by the damaged state of buildings in Belgrade bombed by NATO during Lent in 1999.) More here.

Metropolitan Hilarion Meets with Archbishop Jerome, Participates in Orthodox-Catholic Commission

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk has begun another visit to Greece, meeting with Archbishop Jerome II (Liapis) of Athens in the Greek capital to discuss relations between the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches before proceeding to Crete to participate in a meeting of the working group of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. More here.

Photo of the Day: Pentecost in Butte

From the Pentecost services at Holy Trinity Church in Butte, Montana, which were led by Bishop Maxim (Vasilijevic) of Alhambra of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

St. Constantine the New Martyr

Joyous feast! Today we commemorate the New Martyr Constantine. St. Constantine was born to a Muslim family on the Greek island of Mytilene and as a child became sick and lost his sight. Although he expected to die, a Christian took him to a nearby church and washed the Saint with holy water, after which his health and sight were restored.

After searching for a long time St. Constantine took refuge on Mount Athos, where he was baptized and requested a blessing to go and be martyred. (In those times a convert from Islam to another faith in the Ottoman Empire was subject to the death penalty.) After 40 days of fasting and prayer the Saint was blessed to return to the world, where he confessed the Christ before Turkish officials and was martyred for his Lord.

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

"Shades of Grey: The Record of Archbishop Stepinac"

An excellent survey on why many have reservations over the veneration of Roman Catholic Archbishop Alojzije Cardinal Stepinac of Zagreb can be found here. Yes, the biases and past political associations of the author, Srdja Trifkovic, are well known. They do not, however, change Cardinal Stepinac's words or actions, and the article is therefore worth a read.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Protos for Mount Athos

Elder Barnabas of Vatopaidi Monastery has been installed as Protos of Mount Athos. The protos is the head of Mount Athos' Holy Community as functions as the Holy Mountain's supervisor under the oversight of the ecumenical patriarch. More (in Greek) here.

Egyptian Christians Prepare to Meet to Discuss Draft Law

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church and Coptic Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Roman Catholic organizations are considering joint meetings to discuss their common issues with a proposed draft law to regulate the construction of new places of worship and the repair of existing ones. More here.

Ancient Church Discovered in Acre

Israeli archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 6th century church in the city of Acre. More here.

Ukrainian Orthodox Local Synod Glorifies New Saints, Elects Bishop of Kremenchug

The Local Synod of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church met today under Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev to discuss internal issues in the life of the Church of Ukraine. Among other things preparations for the upcoming 1,000th anniversary of the Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom in Kiev were approved and Archimandrite Nikolai (Kapustin) was elected as Bishop of Kremenchug. The Local Synod also glorified Schema-Archbishop Anthony (Abashidze) of the Kiev Caves Lavra, Schema-Archimandrite Theophan (Medvedev) of Nizhyn, Archpriest Sergius (Bondarenko) the Hieromartyr of Chernobyl, and Stephen (Nalyvaika) the New Martyr of Melitopol' as saints. More (in Ukrainian) can be found here.

Update (15-6-2011): At its meeting yesterday the Local Synod also transferred Bishop Nikodim (Gorenko) of Volodymyr-in-Volhynia to the cathedra of the Eparchy of Zhytomyr, transferred Bishop Volodymyr (Mel'nik) of Shepetivka to the Eparchy of Volodymyr-in-Volhynia, and elected Archimandrite Dionisiy (Konstantinov) of the Kiev Caves Lavra as Bishop of Shepetivka.

Metropolitan Hilarion Meets with Pope Theodore, al-Azhar Grand Imam

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk has begun a visit to Egypt. After meeting with the rector of the Russian Orthodox representation in Cairo and the Russian ambassador to Egypt Metropolitan Hilarion held meetings with Pope Theodoros II (Horeftakis) of Alexandria and Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb of Cairo's al-Azhar University to discuss relations between the Alexandrian and Russian Orthodox Churches and the situation of Egypt's Orthodox Christians in the country.

Pictured are Pope Theodoros and Metropolitan Hilarion with papal auxiliaries Bishops Niphon of Babylon and Nicodemus of Nitria.

Candidates Named for Episcopal Nominations in Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese

The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America has released a list of seven candidates for nomination as new archdiocesan auxiliary bishops at this summer's upcoming Archdiocesan Convention in Chicago. The Convention is to nominate two of the seven for election as auxiliary bishops. More here. Hat tip to Byzantine Texas for posting this first!

It's not entirely clear who is electing the new auxiliary bishops. The link above states that the "Archdiocesan Synod" will elect them, but given that a synod normally consists of ruling hierarchs it is not apparent how a collection of hierarchs including one ruling metropolitan and several auxiliary bishops can elect new bishops without someone from outside the Archdiocese joining them.

In the biographies themselves the emphasis placed on the languages known by the applicants is interesting, as is the presence of not one, but three clergy who have been priests for less than ten years. Length of pastoral service certainly isn't an absolute indicator of whether someone would make a good bishop or not, but one would think that it would certainly be a help...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pope Shenouda Returns from Medical Checkups

Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) of the Coptic Orthodox Church has returned to Egypt from his most recent round of medical checkups in the United States. More here.

Malbis Plantation and Memorial Church Added to US National Register of Historic Places

The structures of the Malbis Plantation in Malbis, Alabama, have been added to the US National Register of Historic Places. The Plantation was founded by a Greek immigrant, Jason Malbis (born Antonios Markopoulos), seeking to establish a Greek colony in the United States and includes the Church of the Entrance of the Theotokos, which was built in memory of Malbis after his death. More here.

Suryoyo Candidate for Turkish Parliament Leading in Polls

According to unofficial results Syriac Orthodox Erol Dora has won one of the five seats held by the province of Mardin in the Turkish Parliament. If the results are confirmed Dora will become the first Christian member of the Turkish Parliament in over 50 years. More (in Turkish) here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Estonian Apostolic Church Adopts Revised Julian Calendar

The Estonian Apostolic Church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a breakaway from the Estonian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate, has switched from the Julian calendar to the 'revised Julian' calendar. The change will take place in 2012, but will not include parishes near the Russian border that desire to remain on the church calendar. The mainstream Orthodox Church in Estonia remains on the Julian calendar. More (in French) here.

Bishop Paul of Khanty-Mansiysk Consecrated in Sergiev Posad

During today's Pentecost celebrations at Sergiev Posad's Lavra of the Holy Trinity thirteen hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church led by Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow consecrated Archimandrite Pavel (Fokine) to the episcopacy as Bishop of Khanty-Mansiysk and Surgut. In addition to the concelebrating clergy present the governor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District was also in attendance. More (in Russian) here.

Photo of the Day: Consecration of Bishop Paul of Khanty-Mansiysk

The consecration of Bishop Pavel (Fokine) of Khanty-Mansiysk during the festal Divine Liturgy for Pentecost in Sergiev Posad's Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

Holy New Martyrs of Ajaria

Joyous feast! In Georgia the Sunday of Pentecost is also the commemoration of the Holy New Martyrs of Ajaria who suffered under the Turkish Yoke in the 18th century.

When Ajaria, a region in what today is southwestern Georgia, was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire its Turkish rulers strongly encouraged its Georgian inhabitants to convert to Islam in the hope of detaching the area from its long association with the rest of Orthodox Georgia. As part of this push to convert Ajaria to Islam in 1790 the area's rulers organized a massacre of those who were steadfast in their Orthodox Faith and were encouraging others to likewise resist Islam, with the faithful being tortured and guillotined and their bodies dumped in Ajaria's rivers.

More (in Russian) on the sufferings of the Ajarian New Martyrs can be found here. May their blessings and prayers be with us all!

Pentecost

"Glory to the Holy, Consubstantial, Life-giving, and Undivided Trinity, always, now and forever, and to the ages of ages!"

On this 7th Sunday after the Lord's Pascha we celebrate the descent and indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the disciples in the Holy City, Jerusalem, and the revelation of God as Trinity to the fledgling Church. By the Holy Spirit the disciples were empowered to preach the good news of the Resurrection not only in Palestine, but to the ends of the world. More on the significance of this great feast and its significance in the life of all Christians can be found here.

As last night's hymns said, "Let us celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the appointed day of promise, and the fulfillment of hope, the mystery which is as great as it is precious!" Amen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Northern Kosovar Church Desecrated

A Serbian Orthodox church in the northern Kosovar village of Samodreza has been broken into by local Kosovar Albanians and used as a toilet and garbage dump. The church had been vandalized in the past, but so far no one has been caught or prosecuted for the damages. More here.

Armenian, Georgian Orthodox Catholicoses Agree to Committees to Resolve Issues

The Armenian and Georgian Orthodox Churches have agreed to establish committees to work towards the resolution of the standing issues between the two churches and the Armenian and Georgian nations, among them the return of appropriated Armenian Orthodox churches in Georgia and of appropriated Georgian Orthodox churches in Armenia. The decision to establish the committees was made during a meeting between Catholicos-Patriarchs Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin and Ilia II (Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili) of Mtskheta-Tbilisi. More here.

Photo of the Day: Eve of Pentecost in Sergiev Posad

Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow serving Vespers and the Akathist to the Holy Trinity in Sergiev Posad's Cathedral of the Trinity on the eve of Pentecost Sunday.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sanctions on Lynn Parish Removed

Metropolitan Methodios (Tournas) of Boston of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has relented in a financial dispute with one of his parishes, St. George's Church in Lynn, Massachusetts, and allowed the celebration of the services and mysteries to resume in the parish. The issue of the parish's dues to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston is to be resolved by 'accounting techniques.'

At its height the dues dispute had divided the clergy and parishes of the Metropolis of Boston between supporters and opponents of Metropolitan Methodios' harsh approach to the Lynn parish's financial troubles and led the Archdiocesan Council to threaten St. George's with excommunication if it didn't pay the extra $20,000 demanded of it by Metropolitan Methodios.

More on the dispute and its resolution can be found here.

"The One-Article Constitution"

An excellent article by Sonia Farid on the debates in Egypt over article 2 of the current Egyptian constitution can be found here.

US President Calls for Wider Religious Freedom in Macedonia

US President Barack Obama has called on President Gjorge Ivanov of Macedonia to do more to safeguard the religious freedoms of all Macedonians, noting in particular the discrimination against the autonomous Macedonian Orthodox Church under Archbishop Jovan (Vraniskovski) of Ohrid and the Macedonian government's refusal to allow it to register as a religious organization. More (in Macedonian) here.

Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Commemorates Prince Mihailo Obrenovich

Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovich) of Pech earlier today served a memorial for Prince Mihailo Obrenovich of Serbia at the latter's tomb in Belgrade's Cathedral of St. Michael. Prince Mihailo was the third ruler of newly independent Serbia. Today's memorial marked the 143rd anniversary of his death and was attended by state dignitaries and local faithful. More (in Serbian) here.

Metropolitan Amfilohije Responds to Montenegrin Court

Metropolitan Amfilohije (Radovich) of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro has responded to a Montenegrin court's claim that he is in contempt of court for not appearing at a hearing, sayign that he was not informed of the court date and did not learn of it until Montenegrin newspapers began running the story that he had defied the court's summons. More (in Serbian) here.

Metropolitan of Zakynthos Prepares for Retirement

Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Zakynthos has announced that he will retire this fall due to his age and to allow the Holy Synod to elect a younger shepherd for the Greek Orthodox Church on Zakynthos. More (in Greek) here.

Catholicos Karekin Visits Georgia

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin has begun a visit to Georgia at the invitation of Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) of Mtskheta-Tbilisi. The visit is apparently the first to what today is Georgia undertaken by a first hierarch of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Echmiadzin since the late 1800s. During his stay in the country Catholicos Karekin will meet with Patriarch Ilia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, and the clergy and faithful of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Georgia. More here.

Quote of the Day: Fr. Thomas Hopko

There was a whole thousand years when the Church had multiple rites of praise to God. In fact, the irony is, the time when there were the most multiple rituals for the sacraments and the services was the time there was the greatest unity in doctrine and spiritual life, evangelism, et cetera. In any case, the ritual is not of the essence of the Faith. Language isn’t, calendars are not…all those things are not part of the essence of the Faith. But unless we have the desire for unity, which then would lead us to feel that we have an absolute obligation from God to distinguish between what is really essential and what is not, we are never going to be united.

St. William of Gellone

Joyous feast! St. William of Gellone, also known after his homeland as St. William of Languedoc, was a count in the southern reaches of the empire of Charlemagne and led the forces that defeated the invading armies of the Emir of Cordoba at the Battle of Orange. The Saint later founded a monastery in Gellone (near Montpellier) that strictly followed the Rule of St. Benedict and eventually retired there as a monk, falling asleep in 812.

After St. William's glorification his relics were exhumed and enshrined in the Gellone Monastery's main church alongside a fragment of the Cross that the Saint had given the Monastery at its founding. Thanks to St. William's popularity his monastery became a major stopover for pilgrims from across Western Europe who were making their way to Compostela.

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

Pictured is the Gellone Monastery, now known as the Abbey of St. William 'of the Desert.'

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Genuine Orthodox Church Receives HOCNA Canadian Clergy

The Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece under Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens reportedly received five of the Canadian clergymen of the Holy Orthodox Church of North America (HOCNA) on the feast of the Ascension, with Metropolitan Moses of Portland and Bishop Sergios of Loch Lomond (both formerly of the HOCNA) participating in their reception alongside Metropolitan Pavlos of Astoria. More here.

Nepalese Government Considers Outlawing Evangelism, Proselytism

The Nepalese government is considering a new criminal code that would forbid the country's citizens from encouraging others by word, example, or inducement to doubt or change their faith. More here. Hat tip to Byzantine Texas for posting this first!

Protestant Appointed Vice-Chairman of Muslim Brotherhood Party

It turns out that the Egyptian Christian appointed vice-chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, Rafiq Habib, is not a Copt, but an Evangelical Protestant scholar of politics and Islam. More here.

I had thought the Brotherhood had strong-armed a Copt into its party's leadership to lessen the Copts' fears of living in an Islamist state, but to find that the appointee is not even Orthodox makes me wonder how on earth the Brotherhood thinks it can seriously claim to represent (or want to represent) the interests of all Egyptians when it doesn't even understand the significant differences between Orthodox Copts and the followers of Western religious movements in Egypt.

Regardless, the link above includes an interesting interview with Habib on his reasons for supporting the "moderate" Muslim Brotherhood that's worth a read.

Interview on Russian Orthodoxy in New Zealand

An interesting interview with Fr. Vladimir Boikov, head of the New Zealand Deanery of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad's Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, can be found here.

Malankara Orthodox Local Synod Meets

The Local Synod of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church has met under Catholicos Mar Baselios Thomas I of the East to discuss issues in the life of the Church in India and candidates for election to the Church's vacant dioceses in the country. More (in Arabic) here.

Muslims, Copts Critical of Draft Law on Mosque/Church Construction

Representatives of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood are criticizing the recently released draft of a new law for the regulation of the construction of places of worship. The draft law would not allow the construction of new places of worship within one kilometer of existing ones, which the Brotherhood says would deprive Muslims in areas with high population densities of an adequate number of mosques to pray in.

For its part the Coptic Orthodox Church has criticized other articles of the draft law that would place all churches and mosques under a government-sponsored central auditing authority and retain the old system of requiring government permission for new churches to be built. More here.

Sino-Russian Consultation Held in Moscow

Representatives of the Russian and Chinese governments and of the Russian Orthodox Church have met in Moscow to discuss Sino-Russian relations and the current activity of the autonomous Chinese Orthodox Church. More here.

St. John the Russian

Joyous feast! St. John the Confessor was born in the 1600s in what today is Ukraine and raised as a devout Orthodox Christian. Drafted into military service, the Saint fought the Ottoman Turks and was captured by them in 1711 and enslaved in the village of Procopia in Asia Minor. Although St. John's master beat him and sought to convert him to Islam the Saint refused, saying that, "Neither by threats, nor with promises of riches and delights you will turn me away from my holy faith. I was born a Christian, and a Christian I shall die."

Despite his mistreatment St. John served his master zealously and was mocked by his fellow slaves for his commitment to his duties. The Saint's master, seeing his faithfulness, offered to let him live as a free man and resettle him wherever he wished, but St. John preferred to remain in his service so that he could continue his nightly prayers in the stables.

When St. John fell asleep on this day in 1730 his body was given over to the clergy of Procopia, who buried it surrounded by the village's Orthodox Christian inhabitants. Three years later the Saint's relics, having been revealed to be incorrupt in a vision, were exhumed and enshrined in Procopia's Church of St. George, later being translated in part to Panteleimonou on Mount Athos in 1881 and in 1924 to the Greek island of Eubeia together with the residents of Procopia as part of the population exchange between Greece and Turkey.

Through St. John's prayers many are helped and in the past not only Greeks, but also many Orthodox Armenians and Turkish Muslims came to St. John's relics in Procopia to be healed. More on St. John's life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

St. Bede

Joyous feast! St. Bede was an 8th century English monk who is well known to us today for the many copies of his historical and exegetical writings that have survived. More on his life can be found here. May St. Bede's blessing and prayers be with us all!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

ROCOR Church in Cannes Receives New Rector

Protopresbyter Michael Boikov, formerly secretary to Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of New York, has been appointed rector of the stavropeghial Church of St. Michael in Cannes, France. The Cannes parish was formerly the seat of Bishop Varnava (Prokofiev) of Cannes, who led it out of the communion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) and then returned with it to the ROCOR before finally being removed as its rector. More here and here.

Haitian Orthodox Appeal for Help

The fledgling Haitian Orthodox Church, a mission of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, is appealing for assistance as Haiti continues to struggle to rebuild from a devastating 2010 earthquake and the Haitian Orthodox parishes and missions work to reestablish destroyed churches and homes. More here.

Russian Orthodox Professor Expresses Support for Macedonian Autocephaly

A professor of the Moscow Theological Academy, Deacon Andrei Kuraev, has expressed his belief that the independent Macedonian Orthodox Church ought to be considered autocephalous by the world Orthodox Churches and that it is only political issues in Greece and Serbia that are keeping the Serbian and Greek Orthodox Churches from recognizing the independence of the Church of Macedonia. More (in Macedonian) here.

Unknown Writings of St. Theophan the Recluse Discovered at Panteleimonou

Previously unknown writings of St. Theophan the Recluse have been discovered in the archives of St. Panteleimon's Monastery on Mount Athos, with the works being digitized for inclusion in a comprehensive collection of the Saint's writings. More (in Russian) here.

Pope Shenouda in USA for Medical Tests, Not Protests

A spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod has denied rumors that Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) is in the United States to protest political developments in Egypt. Pope Shenouda traveled to the USA at the end of May for a round of medical examinations and recently announced an extension of his stay to finish additional tests requested by his doctors. More here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

South Ossetian Orthodox Bishop Retired

The Old Calendrist 'Holy Synod in Resistance' of the Greek Orthodox Church has granted the head of the Orthodox Church in South Ossetia, Bishop George of Alania, retirement due to his ongoing health issues. Bishop Ambrose of Methone, an auxiliary to the first hierarch of the Synod in Resistance, has been appointed locum tenens of the Diocese of Alania. More here.

More Chinese Catholic Bishops to be Consecrated Without Papal Approval

The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the state-sponsored organization that oversees the life of the Roman Catholic Church on mainland China, is preparing to consecrate several new Chinese Catholic bishops, some with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI and others without. More here.

Metropolitan Hilarion, Archbishop Justinian Concelebrate in Tampa

Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and Archbishop Justinian (Ovchinnikov) of Narofominsk, head of the patriarchal Russian Orthodox representation to the American Orthodox Church in the United States, have concelebrated in Tampa's Church of St. Gregory the Theologian during their pastoral visits to their respective parishes in Florida. More here.

Bulgaria's Turks Call for Second Mosque in Sofia

Representatives of Bulgaria's Turkish minority are calling for the construction of a second mosque in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, to relieve the crowding at the city's downtown mosque and to help discourage future street attacks on Turks forced to pray on the street outside the mosque due to the lack of space. More here.

Kosovar Orthodox Bishop Speaks Out Against Partition of Kosovo

Bishop Teodosije (Sibalic) of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and southwestern Serbia has spoken out against proposals by Serbian politicians that Kosovo be partitioned to allow its primarily Serb enclaves to remain part of Serbia, saying that this would result in Kosovo's remaining Serbs suffering even more than they already have. More here.

Roman Catholic Pope Visits Stepinac's Grave in Croatia

During his recent visited to Croatia Pope Benedict XVI of the Roman Catholic Church visited the grave of beatified Archbishop Alojzije Cardinal Stepinac of Zagreb, accused of collusion with the pro-Nazi Ustashe regime in its attempts to ethnically cleanse Croatia of Serbs and Jews, and praised him as 'a defender of the Jews, the Orthodox and of all the persecuted.' More here.

Visoki Decani Monastery Elects New Abbot

With the participation of its former abbot, Bishop Teodosije (Sibalic) of Raska and Prizren, the brotherhood of Kosovo's Visoki Dechani Monastery of the Ascension has elected its deputy superior, Archimandrite Sava (Janjic), as its new abbot. Axios! More (in Serbian) here.

Greek Orthodox Hierarchy Divided Over Greek Economic Crisis, Disestablishment

As Greece continues to struggle through its economic and debt crisis there are growing calls within the hierarchy of the Greek Orthodox Church for its disestablishment to preserve the institutions and finances of the Church and free it from government regulation. A committee has been established to discuss how the crisis will impact the Church, but the hierarchy lacks a united voice as to how the Church of Greece in general should respond to the ongoing issues in Greek life, with some opposing any change in the status quo and others calling the crisis an opportunity for the Church to escape being part of the state. More (in Greek) here.

Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Visits UAE Parish

An auxiliary to Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatios Zakka I (Iwas) of Antioch, Metropolitan Mor Dionysios (Yuhanon), has made a pastoral visit to the Syriac Orthodox Church of St. Zacchaeus in Sharjah, UAE, to celebrate the Lord's Ascension with the young parish, which was established 5 years ago. More (in Arabic) here.

Cypriot Orthodox Holy Synod Meets

At its session today the Holy Synod of the Cypriot Orthodox Church expressed its concern about the possible removal of religious symbols from the classrooms of Cyprus' public schools and defended its first hierarch's public statements on political issues in the country as expressing the Church's views on developments in Cypriot life without becoming involved in politics per se. More (in Greek) here.

Malankara Orthodox Catholicate Celebrates Earth Day in Kottayam

The Catholicate of the independent Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church is hosting Earth Day celebrations at its seat in Kottayam, during which Catholicos Moran Mar Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II of the East planted a tree on the grounds of the Catholicate and noted that, "If greed-driven continual exploitation of nature takes place, human extinction will result." More here.

Russian Orthodox Spokesman Responds to Criticisms of Moscow Church Construction Plans

A spokesperson for the Moscow Patriarchate, Vladimir Legoyda, has responded to criticisms of a recent decision to build roughly 200 new parish churches in metropolitan Moscow by pointing out that church construction does not inhibit the development of much needed social infrastructure like kindergartens and noting a recent initiative to greatly increase the number of residential daycare centers in the Russian capital. Observing that it is not an 'either/or' situation, Legoyda also discussed a recent patriarchal decree that Moscow's new churches to built to include educational centers hosting spaces for Sunday schools, libraries, and youth clubs. More (in Russian) here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod Meeting Cancelled

The annual session of the full Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church has been cancelled due to Pope Shenouda's unexpected return to the USA for medical treatment. More here.

Former Old Believer Center in Bukovina Seeks Restoration Funds

The former center of the world's largest Old Believer accord, the Cathedral of the Dormition in Belokrinitsa, Bukovina (now part of Ukraine), is in need of extensive repairs and seeking for financial assistance from both its small flock and the Ukrainian government. More here.

Belorussian Orthodox Local Synod Glorifies St. Cyprian Klimuts, Establishes Department for Cossack Relations

The Local Synod of the Belorussian Orthodox Church met late last week in Polotsk, Belarus, to discuss internal issues in the life of the Church. Among other things the Local Synod glorified St. Cyprian Klimuts and blessed the establishment of a department to regulate the Church's relations with Belarus' Cossacks. More (in Russian) here.

Turkey Considers New Constitution

Calls are growing in Turkey for a new constitution that would enshrine equality for Turkey's non-Muslim citizens. More here.

Belorussian Orthodox Glorify New Saint

This past Friday Metropolitan Philaret (Vakhromeyev) of Minsk led services glorifying the New Hieromartyr Constantine (Zhdanov) of Disna, whose glorification was recently blessed by the Local Synod of the Belorussian Orthodox Church in light of the 2007 discovery that the Saint's relics were incorrupt. Metropolitan Philaret was joined in the services by many of the other hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in Belarus. More here and (in Russian) here.

Pictured is St. Constantine prior to his martyrdom in 1919.

Catholicos Aram Commemorates Victims of Battle of Sardarabad

On the last Sunday in May, following the Divine Liturgy, Catholicos Aram I (Keshishian) of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia celebrated a memorial for all the soldiers who died fighting to establish the first Republic of Armenia in the 1918 Battle of Sardarabad. More here.

Archbishop Irineu of Alba Iulia Enthroned

The Romanian Orthodox Church's newly elected Archbishop Irineu (Pop) of Alba Iulia was enthroned over the weekend by Metropolitan Andrei of Cluj in the presence of Patriarch Daniel (Ciobotea) of Bucharest and many other hierarchs of the Church of Romania and hundreds of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Alba Iulia. In the practice of the Romanian Orthodox Church metropolitans enthrone their suffragan archbishops and bishops, whilst the patriarch enthrones the metropolitans. More (in Romanian) here.

Kazakh Orthodox Local Synod Meets in Uralsk

The Local Synod of the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan has met under its first hierarch, Metropolitan Alexander (Mogilev) of Astana, in Uralsk, Kazakhstan, to discuss issues in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church in the country. Among other things the assembled hierarchs approved plans for a September visit by the Kursk-Root Icon and blessed the commemoration of the Astana Icon of the Theotokos.

The Local Synod's session closed with a concelebration of services in Uralsk's Cathedral of the Nativity to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Eparchy of Uralsk. More (in Russian) here.