Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bishop of Kyzyl and Tyva Consecrated in Moscow

At this morning's Sunday Liturgy in the Muscovite district of Strogino's newly consecrated Church of the Dormition Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow, Metropolitan Ambrose (Zographos) of Seoul of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church, and seven hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church concelebrated the consecration of Bishop-elect Theophan (Kim) to the episcopacy as Bishop of Kyzyl and the Orthodox Church in Tyva. Axios!

Although a native of the Russian Far East, Bishop Theophan previously served in Seoul under the Ecumenical Patriarchate's South Korean metropolis and is the first ethnically Korean hierarch of the Orthodox Church worldwide. More (in Russian) on the consecration can be found here.

Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch Visits Milan Synod Headquarters

As part of his ongoing pastoral visit to the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church in Western Europe Patriarch Abune Diyosqoros of Asmera has met with Metropolitan Evloghios of Aquileia and Milan, first hierarch of the Old Calendrist Milan Synod. More (in Italian) on the visit can be found here.

Akhtamar Cathedral Damaged in Van Earthquake

In addition to killing and injuring hundreds eastern Turkey's recent earthquake also cracked the dome of the former seat of the Armenian Orthodox Catholicosate of Akhtamar, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Akhtamar Island near Van. The newly restored cathedral does not seem to have suffered any other significant damage, but a full inspection has yet to take place. More here. Hat tip to The Orthodox Church website for posting this first!

Armenia Considers Tax Breaks for Armenian Orthodox Church

The Armenian Parliament is considering legislation that would grant significant tax breaks to the Armenian Orthodox Church of Echmiadzin by exempting it from Armenia's property and land taxes. More here. Hat tip to The Orthodox Church website for posting this first!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

SCOOCH Concelebration Scheduled for November

The Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches (SCOOCH) in the United States has scheduled a concelebration of the Divine Liturgy by SCOOCH member hierarchs for 19 November at the Coptic Orthodox Church of Sts. Michael and Menas on Staten Island. More here.

Annual UN Orthodox Prayer Service Held in NYC

The annual United Nations Orthodox Prayer Service has been held in New York, hosted this year by Archbishop Khajag (Barsamian) of New York and the city's Armenian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Vartan. The annual UN Orthodox Prayer Service is organized jointly by the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Episcopal Assembly of North America and this year included special prayers for Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Christians. A full account of this year's service can be found here.

St. Longinus the Centurion

Joyous feast! Today we celebrate the memory of the Roman centurion who witnessed the Crucifixion of our Lord and recognized that "truly this was the Son of God!" St. Longinus (often shortened to Longin) is remembered by the Tradition to be the Roman soldier who pierced the Lord's side with a spear, bringing forth water and the divine blood and being healed by the flow from a disease afflicting his eyes.

After the Lord's burial St. Longinus and his company were assigned to stand watch by the Tomb and thus became some of the first witnesses of the glorious Resurrection. Although most of the company were bribed by the Jews to deny what they had seen, the Saint and two of his fellow soldiers refused to take the money and received baptism from the Apostles.

After being baptized St. Longinus left the military and Palestine to preach the Gospel of the Son of God in his homeland, Cappadocia. Christianity spread quickly wherever the centurion and his two companions preached in Cappadocia. In time the three were martyred for their faith, being beheaded by their former comrades.

More on the life of St. Longinus can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bulgarians Prepare for New Antarctica Chapel

Bulgaria is sending a new expedition to Antarctica, which will engage in scientific research while also preparing for the construction of a Bulgarian Orthodox church to be dedicated to St. John of Rila. More here.

Kiev Patriarchate, UAOC Dialogue Committee Meets

The dialogue committee of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) has met at St. Michael's Golden-domed Monastery in Kiev to discuss the reasons for the schism between the Kiev Patriarchate and the UAOC. Three hierarchs of the Kiev Patriarchate and five hierarchs of the UAOC participated in the meeting, which drafted an outline of the unification process discussed by the committee for submission to the hierarchies of the two churches. More (in Ukrainian) here.

Appeal for Thailand Flooding Victims

The head of the Orthodox Church in Thailand, Archimandrite Oleg (Cherepanin), has issued an appeal for assistance to be provided to Thailand, which is experiencing its worst flooding in 50 years. The flooding has caused an estimated $2 billion in damages and affected roughly 8.2 million people. The full appeal can be found here.

Maronite Catholic Patriarch Attends Reception Hosted by Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese

As part of his ongoing visit to the United States the head of the Maronite Catholic Church, Patriarch Beshara Rai of Antioch, has attended a reception in his honor hosted by Metropolitan Philip (Saliba) of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America and attended by the Archdiocese's auxiliary bishops as well as several Maronite Catholic hierarchs and Muslim ulama (clergymen). More here.

Update (29/10/2011): The next day Metropolitan Philip, Metropolitan Mor Cyril (Karim) of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of the Eastern United States, and Antiochian Orthodox auxiliary Bishop Antoun (Khouri) of Miami attended the Sunday Liturgy celebrated by Patriarch Bechara at the Maronite Catholic cathedral in Brooklyn. More on that here.

Pope Theodore Comments on Unity of the Alexandria Patriarchate

As part of remarks at the opening of his ongoing visit to Romania Pope Theodoros II (Horeftakis) of Alexandria was careful to point out the multiethnic character of the Church of Alexandria and his thankfulness to God for the cooperation of its sister Orthodox Churches in sending clergymen to serve their compatriots in Africa under the jurisdiction of the Alexandria Patriarchate. A full account (in Greek) of Pope Theodoros' comments can be found here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Roman Catholic Church Hosts Inter-Religious Conference in Assisi

Pope Benedict XVI Ratzinger of the Roman Catholic Church presided today over an inter-religious peace conference in Assisi's Basilica of St. Francis, flanked by Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople and Rabbi David Rosen and with representatives of animism, Baha'ism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, paganism, Protestantism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism participating. The conference was organized to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a similar conference organized by Pope John Paul II. More here.

Serbian Orthodox Seminary to Reopen in Kosovo

The Serbian Orthodox Eparchy of Raska and Prizren has announced that reconstruction of the diocesan seminary in Prizren has begun and that it will be reopened in the future. The seminary was one of the many institutions of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo destroyed following the region's takeover by NATO. More here.

Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Fears Possible Schism

Upon returning from his recent visit to Constantinople Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Ghudushauri-Shiolashvili) of the Georgian Orthodox Church expressed reservations about the convening of a general council of the Local Orthodox Churches, saying that he feared holding such a council in the near future could lead to a schism within world Orthodoxy due to the assorted issues between the Orthodox Churches that remain contentious and unresolved. Patriarch Ilia also expressed disagreement with the Ecumenical Patriarchate's recent reinterpretation of the 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon that would give the Church of Constantinople jurisdiction over Orthodox Christians living outside the canonical territories of the existing Orthodox Churches. More (in Russian) here.

Investigation Concludes Romanovs' Remains Authentic

A Russian investigative committee has determined that the bodies identified as belonging to Tsar St. Nicholas II and his family are in fact their remains. The identity of the bodies, most of which are buried in St. Petersburg's Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul on Hare Island, is contentious in Russia due to the Russian Orthodox Church's refusal to recognize their identities despite the findings of several investigations. The House of Romanov will not accept or reject the findings until the Moscow Patriarchate recognizes them as being the relics of the last imperial family. More here.

Kosovo's Cemeteries in Poor State

The Kosovo-Metohija mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has released a report on the state of the breakaway region's Serb cemeteries, which receive little to no attention from local authorities and are in an increasingly poor condition. Of the 392 cemeteries in central and southern Kosovo surveyed in the report 229 were listed as being in a poor or bad condition. More here.

70 Pre-Revolutionary Icons Returned to Russia

A Russian businessman, Sergey A. Shmakov, has donated 70 icons worth over $1 million to the Russian Orthodox Church. The icons had all been removed from the former Russian Empire after the Bolshevik Revolution and were purchased at various art auctions and stores abroad for return to Russia. More here.

Greek Orthodox Church, Qatari Government Discuss Investment Projects

The Church of Greece is reportedly exploring potential investment projects with the Qatari government due to a decline in its rental incomes caused by the ongoing economic crisis in Greece. The news comes in the wake of the recent visit to Qatar of Archbishop Jerome II (Liapis) of Athens, the first hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Church. More here.

Palestinian Orthodox Metropolitan Calls for Unity in Syria

Metropolitan Theodosios (Hanna) of Sebaste, the only Palestinian Arab member of the hierarchy of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, has called on Syrians to hold on to their unity despite the ongoing unrest in their country so that it can maintain the state of freedom that has existed for its peoples over the past decades. Metropolitan Theodosios' call came during his recent visit to the Golan Heights, formerly Syrian territory that has been annexed by Israel. More here.

300,000 Venerate Sash in St. Petersburg

Since the arrival of the Sash of the Mother of God in St. Petersburg earlier this month over 300,000 people have venerated it despite the waiting line, which is generally 10 to 15 hours long. The Sash is due to remain in St. Petersburg until 19 November, after which it will be transferred to Moscow before its return to Mount Athos on 23 November. More here.

Services Being Translated Into Ossetian

In a recent interview Archbishop Zosima (Ostapenko) of Vladikavkaz expressed the hope that by the 1,100th anniversary of the Baptism of the Alans in 2014 the translation of the divine services into the Ossetian language would be complete so that the Alans' modern day descendants could pray in their own language. The full Russian-language interview, which covers the overall state of the Russian Orthodox Eparchy of Vladikavkaz, can be found here.

St. Parasceva

Joyous feast! Today we celebrate the memory of St. Parasceva, better known in much of the Balkans as Petka, who lived in the 11th century. The Saint was born to a Bulgarian family in Epibata, a Thracian town near Constantinople, and at an early age was inspired by her parents' righteous way of life to serve her Lord with her entire being.

After her parents' death St. Parasceva took up the monastic life, first in nearby Constantinople and then in the region of the Jordan, growing strong in the virtues and in prayer. Years after her arrival in the Holy Land an angel appeared to St. Parasceva and commanded her to return to her hometown, where she lived another two years before falling asleep and being buried in an unmarked grave.

Many years after St. Parasceva's repose the decaying body of a sailor washed up on the nearby shores of the Marmara and was buried on top of her grave, which had been forgotten by the inhabitants of her town. That night the Saint appeared to one of the grave-diggers and a pious townswoman in dreams, commanding them to remove her incorrupt relics from beneath the sailor's tomb.

Thereafter St. Paraceva's fragrant relics were enshrined and venerated by the faithful, first in Epibata and later in Trnovo, Belgrade, and Constantinople before coming to rest in Iasi, where they remain to this day and where the Saint is venerated as the protectress of Moldavia. More on St. Paraceva's life can be found here and here. May her blessing and prayers be with us all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Malankara Orthodox Metropolitan Visits Crestwood Seminary, Discusses Curriculum Development

Metropolitan Alexios Mar Eusebius of the Southwest American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church has visited Sts. Vladimir's and Nerses' Seminaries in New York to meet with the seminaries' leaderships and with the diocesan seminarians studying at St. Vladimir's. During his time at St. Vladimir's Metropolitan Mar Eusebius discussed the creation of a curriculum more oriented to the needs of the seminary's Malankara Orthodox students with the seminary's dean. More here and here.

Committee Issues Advice on New Egyptian Law on Mosque, Church Construction

A committee appointed to examine Egypt's new law on the construction of places of worship has recommended that the distance between an existing place of worship and a site for the construction of a new one not be included in the law given the needs of Egyptians living in urban areas for more mosques and churches. The committee also recommended that municipal authorities be given responsibility for issuing the necessary construction permits given the failure of the provincial governors to properly handle the issuing of the permits. More here.

First Royal Address to the Romanian Parliament in 64 Years

On the occasion of his 90th birthday King Michael I of Romania addressed the Romanian Parliament for the first time in 64 years. In his address King Michael called on the Romanian MPs to restore faith in democracy and the dignity of the Romanian nation on the world scene, indirectly condemning post-Communist Romanian governments by calling on the country's leadership to "break for good with the bad habits of the past."

Romanian President Traian Basescu refused to attend the special joint session of Parliament, condemning King Michael, who was forced to abdicate by the Communist regime in 1947, "Russia's servant." More here.

Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Visits Halki

As part of his recent visit to Turkey Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovic) of the Serbian Orthodox Church paid a visit to the campus of the Halki Theological Seminary near Constantinople accompanied by Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople and the closed seminary's rector, Metropolitan Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) of Brusa. More here.

Pope Shenouda, Supreme Military Council Meet

Pope Shenouda III (a-Suriani) of Alexandria has met with the members of the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces, which currently rules the country, to discuss the repurcussions of the 9 October incident in Cairo that resulted in the deaths of 27 Copts. Prior to Monday's meeting Pope Shenouda and a representative of the Supreme Council reportedly discussed the incident, Copts' demands for a new constitution, and the transitional government's efforts to promote national unity in the wake of the deaths. More here.

Greek Orthodox Archbishop Orders Assistance for Turkish Earthquake Victims

Archbishop Jerome II (Liapis) of Athens has ordered an NGO affiliated with the Church of Greece to provide every assistance to the victims of the recent earthquake in far eastern Turkey. More (in Greek) here.

Patriarch Philaret Marks 16 Years as Kievan Patriarch

The independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church has marked the 16th anniversary of the enthronement of Philaret (Denysenko), who initially served as a metropolitan in the Russian Orthodox Church and later in the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, as head of the Kiev Patriarchate. The anniversary was marked with a celebratory Divine Liturgy and a thanksgiving in Kiev's Cathedral of St. Volodymyr. More (in Ukrainian) here.

Hong Kong Metropolis Marks 15 Years

The Metropolis of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has marked the 15th anniversary of its foundation by the Holy Synod of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church. Since its establishment the Metropolis has grown to include 47 parishes, missions, and monasteries in Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan. More (in Greek) here.

Auxiliary Bishop Elected for Romanian Orthodox Church in Spain and Portugal

At its recent session the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church decided to appoint an auxiliary for the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of Spain and Portugal, electing Archimandrite Ignatie (Trif) to the position as Bishop of Mures. Axios! Fr. Ignatie, a native of Bilbor in northeastern Transylvania, was ordained to the priesthood in 2001 and has served in the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Western and Southern Europe since March of this year. More (in Romanian) here.

Pope Theodoros Begins Visit to Romania

Pope Theodoros II (Horeftakis) of Alexandria has begun a visit to the Romanian Orthodox Church, being received in the Romanian capital by Patriarch Daniel of Bucharest. The texts (in Romanian) of the first hierarchs' speeches at the reception can be found here.

Maronite Catholic Patriarch Expresses Concern Over the 'Arab Winter'

Maronite Catholic Patriarch Beshara (Rai) has expressed his concern over the ongoing unrest in Syria and much of the Middle East, saying that the so-called 'Arab Spring' may in fact lead to a 'winter' for the region's Orthodox Christians, Eastern Catholics, and Assyrian Christians, as has been the case in Iraq and increasingly seems to be the case in Egypt. More here.

Catholicos Karekin Visits Moscow, Blesses New Cathedral

This past Sunday Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin visited Moscow to bless the crosses of the large Armenian Orthodox cathedral under construction there. Bishop Ezras (Nersisyan) of Novo-Nakhichevan participated in the service with Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Church also in attendance together with Armenian President Serzh Sargsian and other representatives of the Armenian government and the Armenian Diaspora in Russia. More here.

St. Chryse the Great-Martyr

Joyous feast! St. Chryse the Virgin-Martyr (more commonly known as Zlata) was born in the region between what today are Bulgaria and Serbia during the Turkish Yoke. The Saint possessed a strong character and deep faith, but drew the attention of a Turk because of her great beauty. Having kidnapped her, the Turk attempted to seduce the virgin and convert her to Islam, turning from seduction to threats when St. Chryse remained firm in her faith.

St. Chryse endured six months of threats in the Turk's household. Seeing that his threats had no effect on the Saint, the Turk turned on her family and threatened to murder her and torture them if they did not persuade her to accept Islam. Despite their appeals to convert for appearance's sake, however, St. Chryse remained steadfast in the Orthodox Faith and endured three months of tortures, being beaten and having her skin peeled off her body by her tormenters.

At the last St. Chryse was tied to a tree by the Turks and cut into pieces, her precious relics later being recovered by the area's Christians and buried with reverence. She witnessed to the Orthodox Faith in 1795. May her blessing and prayers be with us all! More on St. Chryse's life can be found here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Eastern Turkey Hit by Earthquake

Far eastern Turkey has been hit by a massive earthquake centering on the former Armenian royal capital of Van. So far over 200 have been reported dead and more than a 1,000 injured. More here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fr. John Jillions Appointed OCA Chancellor

The Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) has appointed Archpriest John Jillions, well known throughout the Orthodox world, as the new chancellor of the OCA. Fr. John is well known for his erudition and has served parishes in New York, Queensland, New Jersey, Greece, the United Kingdom, Ottawa, and Ontario. More here. Hat tip to Byzantine Texas!

Armenian Muslims Baptized in Turkey

Dozens of Armenians whose ancestors were forced to convert to Islam after the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire were baptized today in the newly reopened Church of St. Cyriacus in Diyarbakir, a city in southeastern Turkey. Archbishop Aram (Atesyan), administrator of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, celebrated the baptisms. Archbishop Vicken (Ayvazian), an auxiliary of the Eastern American Diocese of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Echmiadzin, Metropolitan Mor Philoxinos (Cetin) of Constantinople of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and a spokesman of the Ecumenical Patriarchate were also present. More here.

Kerala 2-Child Draft Bill Criticized By Religious Organizations

The Malankara Orthodox Syrian and Malankara Syriac Orthodox Churches are joining other religious organizations in Kerala in criticizing a draft bill on women's rights in the Indian state that would limit couples to having two children in an effort to curb the growth of the state's population. More here.

Egyptian Jailed for Anti-Islamic FB Comments

Close on the heels of Egypt's 'Bloody Sunday,' in which Egyptian state media called on Cairenes to come and defend the Egyptian Armed Forces from a "Coptic attack," an Egyptian court has sentenced a man to jail for 3 years for allegedly posting anti-Islamic comments on his Facebook wall. More here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pope Shenouda to Visit Martyrs' Families

Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) of Alexandria will be visiting the families of the victims of Egypt's 'Blood Sunday,' the 9 October clashes that resulted in the deaths of 27 Copts. The Coptic Orthodox Church intends to provide aid to those of the families in need of economic assistance because of their connection to the Bloody Sunday martyrs. More here.

Icon of St. Anna Moves to South Canaan

The myrrh-streaming icon of St. Anna and its caretaker, Archimandrite Athanasy (Mastalski), have taken up residence at St. Tikhon's Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, which will be holding weekly supplications for the sick before the icon on Sundays. More here.

Apparitions of the Mother of God Reported in Cairo, Alexandria

Coptic Orthodox Christians from Alexandria and Cairo are reportedly claiming to have witnessed multiple appearances of the Mother of God last night as Egypt continues to mourn clashes in Cairo that resulted in the death of twenty-eight Copts. A film of one of the apparitions reported in Heliopolis, a Cairo suburb, can be found here. There is no word as to whether anyone in the hierarchy of the Coptic Orthodox Church has verified the apparitions.

Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch Comments on Syrian Unrest from Beirut

While on a pastoral visit to Lebanon the Antiochian Orthodox Church's Patriarch Ignatios IV (Hazim) has stated that he does not believe that Syria will collapse into civil war or that the efforts of its religious minorities to preserve their homeland's peace and stability are at the expense of either its freedom or its peoples' human rights. More here.

Bulgarian Orthodox Church Trusted by 3% of Bulgarians

In recent pre-election polls in Bulgaria it has been found that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is trusted by 3% of the population, whilst institutions like the police and the armed forces both enjoy the trust of roughly 40% of Bulgarians. More here.

Catholicos Aram Blesses Church Foundation Stone in Las Vegas

As part of his ongoing pastoral visit to the western United States Catholicos Aram I (Keshishian) of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia has participated in the blessing of the foundation stone of the new church of the Armenian Orthodox parish in Las Vegas, Nevada. The service was concelebrated by Archbishop Moushegh (Mardirossian) of the Western American Prelacy of the Church of Cilicia. More here.

Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Visiting Jordanian Capital

Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatios Zakka I (Iwas) of Antioch has begun a pastoral visit to the Syriac Orthodox Church in Jordan, meeting with representatives of the Suryoyo community in the Jordanian capital, Amman, and consecrating the city's large new Church of St. Ephraim, which was filled to capacity. More (in Arabic) on the patriarch's visit can be found here.

Catholicos Karekin Receives Rector of Moscow Theological Academy

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of the Armenian Orthodox Church has received Archbishop Yevgeniy (Reshetnikov) of Verey, auxiliary of the Russian Orthodox Eparchy of Moscow and rector of the Moscow Theological Academy, at Holy Echmiadzin. The two met to discuss ways in which the Moscow Theological Academy and the Gevorkian Theological Seminary at Holy Echmiadzin could cooperate in the education and training of the future clergy of the Russian and Armenian Orthodox Churches. More here.

Patriarch of Constantinople Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Election

Patriarch Bartholomew (Arhondonis) of Constantinople has marked the 20th anniversary of his election to the throne of St. Andrew, with Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovic) of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and Archbishop Anastasios (Yannoulatos) of the Albanian Orthodox Church and hierarchs from the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church in Greece, Western Europe, and North America and the Russian Orthodox Church participating in the celebrations organized at the Phanar. More (in Greek) here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Greeks Call for Church Properties to be Taxed

As protests continue against the Greek government's austerity measures there is a spreading call for the Church of Greece to pay higher taxes on its properties, which when grouped together make the Greek Orthodox Church the second largest landowner in Greece after the national government. More here. Hat tip to Ad Orientem!

ROCOR Schism Holds Hierarchical Council in Mansonville

The Hierarchical Council of a schism from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile (ROCIE), has met at Holy Transfiguration Skete in Mansonville, Quebec, to discuss the internal life of the Church in Exile and to consecrate Hieromonk Ambrose (Dvornichenko) as Bishop of Denver and auxiliary of the ROCIE's Western American Diocese. Hierarchs from the ROCIE in North America, the former USSR, and Western Europe took part in the Council. More (in Russian) on the recent meeting can be found here.

Episcopal Assembly of Oceania Holds 2nd Session

The hierarchs of the Local Orthodox Churches serving in Australia and Oceania have met for the second session of the Episcopal Assembly of Oceania at the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia in the greater Sydney area. Hierarchs and clergy representing the Greek, Antiochian, Russian, Serbian, Romanian, and Ukrainian Orthodox dioceses in Oceania were present for the Assembly. More here. Hat tip to Byzantine Texas!

US Troops to Withdraw Fully from Iraq

President Barack Obama has announced that all US troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year, bringing to a close the long US military involvement in the country that has seen the collapse of order and widespread discrimination against and persecution of Iraq's previously sizable Assyrian Christian, Eastern Catholic, and Orthodox Christian minorities. More here.

Russian Orthodox Dioceses in Germany Hold Joint Pastoral Conference

The German dioceses of the patriarchal Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia have held a joint pastoral conference in Berlin under the leadership of Archbishops Mark (Arndt) and Feofan () of Berlin and Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart. The conference, which was timed to coincide with the national celebration of the reunion of East and West Germany, discussed pastoral issues in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church in Germany as well as German-language translations of the services being prepared for use in the churches. (The translations are being prepared with the participation of representatives of the other Local Orthodox Churches present in Germany.) More on the conference can be found here.

Western Rites Conference Takes Place in Upstate New York

The 2011 Western Rites Conference of the Western Rites Vicariate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) has successfully taken place in upstate New York with the participation of Bishop Jerome (Shaw) of Manhattan and clergy and faithful of the Western Rites Vicariates of both the ROCOR and the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.

The Conference discussed pastoral issues in the life of the Western Rites parishes and included the daily celebration of the divine services, including a pontifical Mass in Latin celebrated by Bishop Jerome. More on the Conference's proceedings can be found here.

Pope Theodore Consecrates New Church in Malawi

During his recent pastoral visit to Malawi Pope Theodoros II (Horeftakis) of Alexandria consecrated the new Church of St. George in Kampodzi near the southern city of Blantyre. Metropolitan Ioakeim of Lusaka and Bishops Ioanis of Maputo and Nikodimos of Nitria concelebrated the services with Pope Theodoros. More (in Greek) here.

New Russian Law Limits Abortions

The Russian Parliament has passed legislation restriction abortions in Russia. The high rate of abortions in the country has become increasingly alarming as the overall population has been shrinking annual for a number of years now. The new law would limit abortions to the first twelve weeks of pregnancy except in the case of financially struggling women. More here.

Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Supports Northern Kosovar Roadblocks

Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovic) of the Serbian Orthodox Church has spoken in defense of the right of northern Kosovo's Serbs to maintain their political and economic ties with Serbia in the face of opposition from the Kosovar government and the international community, which want the borders between Kosovo and Serbia to be placed under the control of KFOR and the Kosovar government. Patriarch Irinej expressed his support for Kosovo's Serbs after festal services in honor of the Protection in Pech, Kosovo. More here and here.

UAOC Skeptical of Dialogue with Kiev Patriarchate

Despite approving the resumption of dialogue with the Kiev Patriarchate the hierarchy of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) has expressed skepticisim that the unity discussions will bear any fruit due to the non-participation of Ukraine's largest jurisdiction, the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the dialogues and the UAOC hierarchy's distrust of the leadership of the Kiev Patriarchate. More here.

Russian Orthodox Exarchate Maintains Parish Occupation of Cathedral in Nice

The Russian Orthodox Exarchate of Western Europe is appealing the efforts of the Russian Orthodox Eparchy of Korsun to expel its parish in Nice on the grounds that the change in ownership of St. Nicholas' Cathedral in Nice should not mandate a change in the jurisdictional affiliation of the parish. More here.

Egyptian Government Amends Place of Worship Laws

The Egyptian government has approved controversial amendments to new laws on the construction of places of worship delegating authority to grant construction permits to local municipal authorities and mandating minimum size requirements for new places of worship. More here.

Syriac Orthodox Parish in Constantinople Secures Permission to Build Church

Constantinople's Syriac Orthodox parish has finally secured government permission to build its own church after decades of renting spaces to worship in. More here.

Egyptian Government to Examine Copt, Muslim Conflicts

In the aftermath of the Cairo clashes between Copts and the Egyptian security forces the Egyptian government has committed itself to examining the church construction issues that led to the clashes. The government previously stated it would make it easier for the Coptic Orthodox Church to repair its existing places of worship and build new ones, but incidents have continued to occur between local Coptic Orthodox parishes and Islamists opposed to changes in the status quo. More here.

Kiev Patriarchate Holy Synod Approves Unity Dialogue with UAOC, Appeals to Ukrainian Orthodox Church for Dialogue

The fall session of the Holy Synod of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church has concluded in Kiev. Under the leadership of Patriarch Philaret (Denysenko) of Kiev the Holy Synod discussed recent political developments in Ukraine and approved an appeal to the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Ukraine's largest Orthodox Church and the only one recognized by the Local Orthodox Churches, to resume dialogue with the Kiev Patriarchate oriented towards the creation of a united, independent Church of Ukraine.

The Holy Synod also approved the resumption of the unity dialogue with the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, of which the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church was briefly a part prior to the rise of Patriarch Philaret to the leadership of the Kiev Patriarchate. The dialogue was recognized as the only potentially fruitful dialogue currently being engaged in by the Kiev Patriarchate.

Lastly, in addition to dealing with various pastoral matters the Holy Synod also approved the local glorification of St. Mercurius of Bryhyntsi, a confessor of the Soviet Yoke, by the Eparchy of Chernigov. More (in Ukrainian) on the recent session of the Holy Synod can be found here.

Catholicos Aram Visits USA, Leads Ecumenical Service in Los Angeles Area

Catholicos Aram I (Keshishian) of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia has begun a pastoral visit to the western United States, meeting with clergy and representatives of the various Orthodox churches in the region and leading a prayer service for peace in Egypt and the Middle East with representatives of the Antiochian, Armenian, Coptic, and Syriac Orthodox Churches as well as Evangelical Protestant and Roman Catholic churches at Sts. Mary and Athanasius' Church in the Los Angeles area. More here.

All-Macedonian Council Held in Skopje

The All-Macedonian Council of the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of the independent Macedonian Orthodox Church has taken place at the Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God in the Macedonian capital, Skopje. The Council was led by Archbishop Stefan (Veljanovski) of Ohrid and Skopje and the Church's diocesan metropolitans. During his sermon at the start of the Council Archbishop Stefan emphasized the need for unity both within the Macedonian nation and within the Church of Macedonia. More (in Macedonian) here.

Greek Orthodox Eparchial Synod Meets in New York, Approves Candidates for Pittsburgh Metropolis

The Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has met at the archdiocesan headquarters in New York. In addition to discussing various pastoral issues in the life of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States the Synod approved an archdiocesan list of episcopal candidates and approved a list of three candidates for submission to the Holy Synod of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church for its consideration when electing the next Metropolitan of Pittsburgh. The names of the candidates have not been generally released as of yet. More here.

Update (1:19pm): I haven't come across any official English-language release, but it appears that the Eparchial Synod's list consists of archdiocesan auxiliary Bishop Savvas (Zembillas) of Troas and Archimandrites Sevastianos (Skordallos) and Constantine (Moralis). The Synod strongly endorsed the election of Bishop Savvas, but the election itself will be taken by the Holy Synod of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church. More here.

Relic of St. Andrew to Visit Romania

Preparations are being made for the visit of the head of St. Andrew the Apostle from its resting place in Greece to Romania. During its time in Romania the relic will make stops in Bucharest, Sibiu, and Alba Iulia. More (in Romanian) here.

New Bishop of Blagoveshchensk Consecrated

This past Sunday in Moscow's Church of Christ the Savior Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow and eight other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church concelebrated the Sunday Liturgy, during which they consecrated Archimandrite Lukian (Kutsenko) as Bishop of Blagoveshchensk and Tynda. Axios! More (in Russian) here.

In Memoriam: Metropolitan Michael of Vienna

Metropolitan Michael (Staikos) of Vienna has fallen asleep in the Lord at the age of sixty-five. Metropolitan Michael, a native of Athens, was educated in Athens, Vienna, and Thessalonica. From 1965 onwards he served in various capacities in the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Vienna, being elected an auxiliary of the metropolis in 1985 and in late 1991 being elected Metropolitan of Vienna by the Holy Synod of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church. May his memory be eternal! More (in Bulgarian) on his life and recent repose can be found here.

Sash of the Mother of God Visiting Russia

The Sash of the Mother of God has left Mount Athos to make its first visit to Russia. The sash normally leaves the Holy Mountain once a year to visit different cities in Greece, but this year the abbot of the Vatopedi Monastery where it is kept blessed the request of the Russian Orthodox Church to have the relic visit Russia for the next month. More here.

St. Nicholas' to be Rebuilt at World Trade Center Site

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have finally reached an agreement on the rebuilding of St. Nicholas' Church at the former site of the World Trade Center. St. Nicholas' was the only place of worship to be destroyed in the 11 September attacks. More here.

Russian Orthodox Holy Synod Creates 10 Regional Metropolias, 13 New Dioceses

This is a little dated, but as I couldn't find any specifics on the recent fall session of the Holy Synod I thought I would post some here.

At the fall session of the Russian Orthodox Holy Synod earlier this month the Holy Synod decided to create a number of new eparchies for the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia and Kazakhstan. In European Russia the Holy Synod established the Eparchies of Balashov, Buzuluk, Kasimov, Orsk, Pokrovsk-Engels, and Skopin; in Siberia the Eparchies of the Amur (with its seat at Komsomolsk-na-Amure in Khabarovsk Territory), Bratsk, Kyzyl (for the Orthodox Church in Tyva), and Sayansk; and in Kazakhstan the Eparchies of Kokshetau, Petropavlovsk, and Ust-Kamenogorsk. In addition to the thirteen new eparchies it established the Holy Synod also approved the creation of ten regional metropolitanates for the Orthodox Church in Mordovia, the Irkutsk, Orenburg, Rostov-na-Donu, Ryazan, Saratov, and Sverdlovsk Regions, and the Khabarovsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Primorye Territories.

Following its decisions on the diocesan structures of the Church the Holy Synod transferred Archbishops Panteleimon of Orlov to the Eparchy of Krasnoyarsk, Anthony of Krasnoyarsk to the Eparchy of Orlov, and Gabriel of Blagoveshchensk to the Eparchy of Ust-Kamenogorsk and Bishop Guriy of Magadan to the Eparchy of Petropavlovsk. It also elected Archimandrite Lukian (Kutsenko) as Bishop of Lodeynoye Pole and auxiliary of the Eparchy of St. Petersburg, Archimandrite Ioann (Pavlikhin) as Bishop of Magadan, Igumen Veniamin (Kirillov) as Bishop of Ardatov, Igumen Feofan (Kim) as Bishop of Kyzyl and Tyva, Igumen Ireney (Tafun) as Bishop of Orsk, Igumen Stefan (Gordeyev) as Bishop of Alatyr and auxiliary of the Eparchy of Cheboksary, Igumen Feodosiy (Gazh) as Bishop of Bishkek and Kyrgyzstan, Igumen Dionisiy (Poruba) as Bishop of Kasimov, Igumen Taras (Vladimirov) as Bishop of Balashov, Igumen Pakhomiy (Bruskov) as Bishop of Pokrovsk, Igumen Artisarkh (Yatsurin) as Bishop of the Amur, Igumen Yefraim (Prosyanka) as Bishop of Nikolayev and auxiliary of the Eparchy of Khabarovsk, Igumen Maksimilian (Klyuyev) as Bishop of Bratsk, Hieromonk Nikolai (Pogrebnyak) as Bishop of Balashikha and auxiliary of the Eparchy of Moscow, Hieromonk Guriy (Fedorov) as Bishop of Arsenev, and Hieromonk Vladimir (Samokhin) as Bishop of Skopin.

Lastly, in addition to dealing with other matters the Holy Synod also resolved to petition the next session of the Hierarchical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (consisting of all the metropolitans, archbishops, and bishops of the Church) to designate the Metropolitans of Astana and Tashkent as permanent members of the Holy Synod due to their leadership of the Orthodox Churches in Kazakhstan and Central Asia respectively.

A full account of the Holy Synod's recent session can be found here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fast Called for Victims of Cairo Clashes

Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) of Alexandria has called a fast tomorrow (Tuesday) through Thursday/Friday to mourn the victims of the recent clashes in Cairo and for the peace of Egypt's Copts and the nation as a whole. Please join in the fast as you're able - we are witnessing a pivotal time in Egyptian history and next month's elections could change the lives of Egypt's Orthodox Christians greatly, for better or for worse.

24 Dead in Cairo Clashes

Riots broke out in Cairo over the weekend as Coptic Orthodox protests over the plight of a church in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Aswan turned into clashes with Egyptian security forces. Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf is urging calm in the aftermath of the riots, in which twenty-four died. More here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Antiochian Orthodox Auxiliaries for North America to be Consecrated at Balamand

It has been decided with the blessing of Patriarch Ignatios IV (Hazim) of Antioch that the consecrations of Bishops-elect John (Abdalah) of Worcester, Anthony (Michaels) of Toledo, and Nicholas (Ozone) of Brooklyn will take place in early December at Lebanon's Monastery of the Dormition in Balamand. More details on the upcoming consecrations can be found here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

OCA Elects New Bishop for Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese

The Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) has formally elected Archimandrite Alexander (Golitzin) as Bishop of Toledo and the Bulgarians to lead the OCA's Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese. Axios! Bishop-elect Alexander is to be consecrated in May 2012. More here.

St. Thecla

Joyous feast! Today we commemorate one of the great saints of the early Church, the Equal-to-the-Apostles Thecla. St. Thecla was born to wealthy parents in Iconium (modern day Konya, Turkey). Although betrothed, the Saint heard the preaching of St. Paul and was inspired to preach the Gospel to the nations, rejecting her fiance and becoming St. Paul's disciple.

St. Thecla went on to preach the Gospel in Syria and Isauria, eventually settling near Seleucia-in-Isauria, where she continued to proclaim the Gospel and heal the sick by her prayers. After having suffered much for her Lord and the Christian Faith St. Thecla surrendered her soul to God at the age of ninety.

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

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Church, Homes Burned in Upper Egypt

Clashes between Muslims and Copts have taken place in the Upper Egyptian city of Edfu after Muslims attacked a parish there that was undertaking the expansion of its church. After setting fire to the church the attackers burned other Copt-owned houses and shops in the area. More here.

KFOR Soldiers Injured in Northern Kosovo Clashes

Four KFOR soldiers have been injured in clashes with northern Kosovo's ethnic Serb majority, which is resisting the efforts of the Kosovar government to instate its control over the region and its borders with Serbia. More here.

St. Igor of Kiev

Joyous feast! С праздником! Today we commemorate the Holy Great Prince Igor of Kiev. St. Igor came to lead Rus' during a time of great internal division within its royal family, and only served briefly as great prince before his overthrow and banishment to a monastery. The Saint embraced the monastic life and was eventually tonsured to the great schema.

After a short time in the monastery a mob of his family's opponents sought St. Igor out, dragging him out of the monastery church during the Divine Liturgy and murdered him. When the Saint's body was later recovered and taken to St. Michael's Monastery the candles near it lit of their own accord. The Saint was buried at another monastery on the outskirts of Kiev.

In 1150 St. Igor's relics were translated to the city cathedral of Chernigov, whilst the wonderworking Igorov Icon before which he had been praying prior to his martyrdom was enshrined in the catholicon of the Kiev Caves Lavra. More on his life can be found here. May St. Igor's blessing and prayers be with us all!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Serbian Patriarch, Czechoslovak Metropolitan Mark Anniversary in Belgrade

Metropolitan Krystof (Pulec) of the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church has visited Belgrade to concelebrate the festal Divine Liturgy for the Cross on the 90th anniversary of the enthronement of St. Gorazd of Prague by the Serbian Orthodox Church as diocesan hierarch of the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia. The festal services were concelebrated by Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovic) of Pech and clergy of the Russian, Serbian, Czechoslovak, and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches. More (in Greek) here.

Cypriot Archbishop Visiting Georgia

Archbishop Chrysostomos II (Demetriou) of the Cypriot Orthodox Church has begun a visit to Georgia at the invitation of Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II (Gudushauri-Shiolashvili) of the Georgian Orthodox Church. More (in Greek) here.

Metropolitan Volodymyr Released from Hospital

Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev has been released from the hospital following a successful operation on one of his legs. More (in Ukrainian) here.

Kursk-Root Icon Visits Kazakhstan, Russia

The Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God has made a visit to its original home in Kursk, Russia, following its first visit to the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan. After a brief stop in Moscow the Icon is due to return to its home at Our Lady of the Sign Cathedral in New York this coming week. More here.

Cilicia Catholicos to Visit Western USA

Catholicos Aram I (Keshishian) of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Cilicia will shortly begin a pastoral visit to the Armenian Orthodox parishes under his jurisdiction in the western United States. More here.

Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Leads Jajinci Memorial in Belgrade

Patriarch Irinej (Gavrilovic) of Pech led a memorial today at Jajinci in Belgrade for the victims of the mass executions in Serbia during World War II that resulted in the deaths of 80,000 Serbs, Roma, and Jews. The commemorative events were attended by Serbian President Boris Tadic, other prominent Serbian officials, and veterans and survivors of the Holocaust in Serbia. More (in Serbian) here.

Service for Bulgarian Unity Held in Sofia

Patriarch Maxim (Minkov) of Sofia and ten of the ruling metropolitans of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church have concelebrated a supplication for the unity and peace of the Bulgarian nation in Sofia. The supplication is held as Bulgaria grows increasingly troubled by economic, ethnic, and security concerns, the most recent being anti-Roma protests organized by a Bulgarian ultranationalist party over national concerns over organized crime. An appeal from the Holy Synod for the unity of the nation was read following the supplication. More (in Bulgarian) here.

Montenegrin Orthodox Episcopal Council Meets

The Episcopal Council of the Orthodox Church in Montenegro has held a session near Danilovgrad, Montenegro, with Metropolitan Amfilohije of Cetinje, Bishops Filaret (Micevic) of Mileseva, Joanikije (Micovic) of Budimlje, and Grigorije (Duric) of Zahumlje, and retired Bishop Atanasije of Zahumlje participating. (The diocesan boundaries of the Serbian Orthodox Church don't always correspond to current territorial realities, hence the inclusion in the Episcopal Council of hierarchs based in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.)

The assembled hierarchs discussed at length the need for legal regulation of the relationship between the Montenegrin government and the Church of Montenegro that would respect the former's non-interference in the canonical structure and internal life of the Church. At its close the Council reiterated the Church of Montenegro's commitment to caring for the spiritual needs of all the Orthodox faithful in Montenegro regardless of their ethnic or political background. More (in Serbian) here.

Patriarch Philaret Leads Babyn Yar Memorial

Patriarch Philaret (Denysenko) of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church has led a memorial commemorating the victims of the Nazi mass executions at Babyn Yar. The memorial was organized at Babyn Yar for the 70th anniversary of the executions this past Wednesday. After the memorial Patriarch Philaret called for the establishment of a chapel on the site of a memorial to Ukrainian nationalists killed by the Nazis. More (in Ukrainian) here.

The Soviet and Holocaust memorials at Babyn Yar are truly haunting. The district was farmland at the time of the Nazis' massacres and it's said that after the war had ended Kiev's residents refused to buy produce from its fields out of respect for the tens of thousands murdered and buried there.

Armenia, Artsakh Diocesan Hierarchs Meet at Holy Echmiadzin

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin has presided over a meeting of the diocesan hierarchs of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Echmiadzin in Armenia and Artsakh at Holy Echmiadzin. During the meeting the assembled hierarchs discussed the challenges facing the Armenian Orthodox Church in its heartlands, particularly the need for greater focus on the relationship between the Church's clergy and clerical families and its parishes. Concerns were also raised over the activities of various sects in Armenia and Artsakh. More here.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Visits Bukovina

Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow, accompanied by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, has begun a pastoral visit to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in northern Bukovina. The patriarchal delegation was welcomed to the region by Metropolitan Onufriy (Berezovskiy) of Chernivtsi and Bukovina, who with the rest of the clergy and faithful of the Chernivtsi diocesan administration were exhorted by Patriarch Kirill to never forget "Great [and] Holy Rus.'" More (in Russian) here and here.

Syriac Orthodox Metropolitans in Syria, Lebanon Meet in Damascus

This past Saturday Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatios Zakka (Iwas) of Antioch led a meeting of the Syriac Orthodox metropolitans in Lebanon and Syria to discuss the state of the Syriac Orthodox Church there. During the meeting the hierarchs also discussed recent developments in the life of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Germany and India as well as the Church's ecumenical commitments. More (in Arabic) here.

Roman Catholic Pope, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Meet at Castel Gandolfo

As part of his recent visit to Italy Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk met with Pope Benedict XVI of Rome to discuss relations between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. The meeting took place with the blessing of Patriarch Kirill (Gundyayev) of Moscow. More here.

Alaskan Church Lands Returned to Sitka Diocese

After years of their management by the central ecclesiastical administration the church lands in Alaska have been returned by the American Orthodox Church (OCA) to the ownership of the Diocese of Sitka and Alaska. The lands were formally signed over to the Alaskan Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) this past Wednesday in the presence of Bishop Benjamin (Pederson) of San Francisco, locum tenens of the Diocese of Sitka. The return of the lands means that the Alaskan Orthodox faithful now legally own their churches and cemeteries. The decision to return the lands was taken by the Metropolitan Council of the OCA. More here.

Beds of Sickness and Whatnot

Well dear readers, I had every intention of resuming regular posting after my New Year's post...and then I got rather horribly sick, which has put me behind in both my classwork and the short-term jobs I had lined up. So, no promises (who knows the future?), but I really do intend to resume the regular posting, though as always there are other things that have first priority. I hope this finds you well wherever you are!