Friday, July 27, 2012

Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of Buenos Aires Retires

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has accepted the request for retirement of Metropolitan Platon (Udovenko) of the Eparchy of Buenos Aires and South America. Until the election of a new bishop for the diocese the Holy Synod has entrusted its care not to the administrator of the South American diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, but rather to Archbishop Justinian (Ovchinnikov) of Narofominsk, the New York-based auxiliary bishop who oversees the representation of the Moscow Patriarchate to the American Orthodox Church (OCA). More here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Abkhazia to Recognize Orthodoxy as National Faith

A draft law on religion under consideration in the Abkhazian Parliament has been modified to recognize the role Orthodox Christianity plays in Abkhazian life. A previous version had included references to paganism, Orthodoxy, and Islam. While recognizing Orthodoxy's place in Abkhazia the draft law would also maintain the secular nature of the country's government. More here.

New Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Consecrated in Kiev

It has been reported that this past Sunday Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of Kiev and nine other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church consecrated Archimandrite Roman (Kymovych) as Bishop of Konotop. Axios! Bishop Roman will shepherd the Eparchy of Konotop in northeastern Ukraine. More in Ukrainian here.

The following day, the commemoration of St. Anthony of the Kiev Caves, Metropolitan Volodymyr led festal services at the Kiev Caves Lavra, during which he consecrated Archimandrite Clement (Vecher) as Bishop of Irpin' together with nineteen other hierarchs of the Church of Ukraine. Axios! The newly consecrated Bishop Clement will serve as an auxiliary of the Metropolitanate of Kiev and chairman of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's education committee. More in Ukrainian here.

Turkish Mayor Protests Monolingualism

The mayor of a city in southeastern Turkey is protesting the Turkish government's hypocritical attacks on his efforts to provide government services not only in Turkish, spoken by a minority in the area, but also in Armenian, Assyrian, and Kurdish, which collectively are spoken by a large majority of the city's residents. More here.

New Bishops for Siberia, Western Russia Consecrated in Moscow

On the recent commemoration of the Kazan Icon' Patriarch Cyril (Gundyayev) of Moscow led the festal celebrations in Moscow's Holy Theophany Cathedral, during which he consecrated Archimandrite Sabbatius (Zagrebel'niy) as Bishop of Tara together with eight other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church. Axios! Bishop Sabbatius will shepherd the recently established Eparchy of Tara in western Siberia. More in Russian on Bishop Sabbatius' consecration can be found here.

This past Sunday Patriarch Cyril celebrated the Sunday Liturgy in Holy Transfiguration Church in Tushino, a district of Moscow. During the services the patriarch and six other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church consecrated Archimandrite Sophronius (Kitayev) as Bishop of Gubkin. Axios! Bishop Sophronius will serve in the newly established Eparchy of Gubkin of the Belgorod Metropolitanate in western Russia. More in Russian on Sunday's events can be found here.

Macedonia Celebrates 45th Anniversary of the Restoration of Autocephaly

In its recent session earlier this month the Holy Synod of the independent Macedonian Orthodox Church reaffirmed the year's programs celebrating the 45th anniversary of the restoration of the Archdiocese of Ohrid's autocephaly in 1967, noting that the celebrations will include the glorification in Kicevo of the New Martyrs Eusebius, Paisius, and Avercius of the Turkish Yoke, who suffered for the Lord in 1558. More in Macedonian here.

Aleppan Christians Fear Rebel Attacks

As Syrian rebels attack the city of Aleppo Christians there fear they will suffer as their coreligionists in Homs did. Following Islamist rebels' seizure of parts of Homs most of its 120,000 Christian residents fled the city. More here.

Russian Orthodox Holy Synod Establishes New Metropolitanates, Dioceses

The lesser Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has met at Ukraine's Kiev Caves Lavra for a regular session to discuss developments and issues in the life of the Church of Rus'. Early on at today's session it was decided to convene the Hierarchical Council of the Russian Orthodox Church this coming February to allow the members of the hierarchy to meet and fellowship with one another.

In response to the request of Archbishop Proclus (Khazov) of Simbirsk the Holy Synod elevated the Eparchy of Simbirsk to the rank of a metropolitanate and established the suffragan Eparchies of Barysh and Melekess (now known as Dimitrovgrad) within it. Igumen Philaret (Kon'kov) was elected Bishop of Barysh, whilst the Eparchy of Melekess was left in the case of the newly elevated Metropolitan Proclus of Simbirsk.

At the request of Archbishop Herman (Moralin) of Kursk the Holy Synod elevated his diocese to the rank of a metropolitanate and established within its borders the new Eparchies of Zheleznogorsk and Shchigry. The newly elevated Metropolitan Herman was given care of the Eparchy of Shchigry, whilst Igumen Benjamin (Korolev) was elected Bishop of Zheleznogorsk.

The Holy Synod also granted the petition of Archbishop Theophan (Ashurkov) of Chelyabinsk that his diocese be reorganized as a metropolitanate, accordingly elevating it to the rank of a metropolitanate and founding on its territory the suffragan Eparchies of Troitsk and Magnitogorsk. The Holy Synod elected Igumen Innocent (Vasetsk) as Bishop of Magnitogorsk, whilst the newly elevated Metropolitan Theophan was left with the care of the Eparchy of Troitsk.

Per the request of Bishop Benjamin (Zaritskiy) of Penza the Holy Synod recognized elevated his diocese to the rank of a metropolitanate and established within its borders the new Eparchies of Kuznetsk and Serdobsk. The Eparchy of Serdobsk remains in the care of the newly elevated Metropolitan Benjamin of Penza, whilst Igumen Seraphim (Domnin) was elected Bishop of Kuznetsk by the Holy Synod.

Responding to the request of Bishop Aristarchus (Smirnov) of Kemerovo in central Siberia the Holy Synod established his diocese as a metropolitanate and created on its territory the suffragan Eparchies of Mariinsk and Novokuznetsk. The Holy Synod proceeded to elect Igumen Innocent (Vetrov) as Bishop of Mariinsk, leaving the Eparchy of Novokuznetsk in the care of the newly elevated Metropolitan Aristarchus of Kemerovo.

A full account of the decisions taken by the Holy Synod at today's session in Kiev can be found in Russian here.

Armenian Orthodox Echmiadzin Catholicos Visiting Italy, Romania

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin has begun a pastoral visit to the Armenian Orthodox Church in Italy and Romania. More here.

Russian Orthodox Church Reconsidering Recognition of 'Yekaterinburg Remains'

It is being reported that new evidence has emerged in Brussels which may lead to the Moscow Patriarchate's recognition of remains at St. Petersburg's Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul as the the relics of the Romanov imperial family. The evidence and the Russian Orthodox Church's official position on the remains will be discussed at today's session of the Russian Orthodox Holy Synod in Kiev.

If the remains are recognized by the Church as the Royal Martyrs' relics they will also be recognized by the current head of the House of Romanov, Grand Duchess Mariya Vladimirovna Romanova. More here and here.

Alexandrian Orthodox Pope Visiting Russia

Pope Theodore II (Horeftakis) of Alexandria has begun a visit to Russia at the invitation of the Russian Orthodox Church. After meeting with Patriarch Cyril (Gundyayev) of Moscow prior to the latter's departure for Ukraine the pope will travel to southern Russia to visit the communities of the Russian Orthodox Church in that region. More here.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Begins Visit to Kiev

Patriarch Cyril (Gundyayev) of Moscow has begun a pastoral visit to the autonomous Church of Ukraine, flying into the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, earlier today and meeting with Metropolitan Volodymyr (Sabodan) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Y. Azarov at the Kiev Caves Lavra shortly after his arrival in the city.

Patriarch Cyril is opening a session of the Russian Orthodox Holy Synod at the Kiev Caves Lavra today, and on Saturday will lead the celebrations of the feast of St. Vladimir and the Baptism of Rus'. More here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"The OCA and Spiritual Maturity"

Fr. Theodore Bobosh, pastor of St. Paul's Church in Dayton, Ohio, has a wonderful reflection on the recent events in the American Orthodox Church (OCA) posted on his blog.

Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Visits Alexandria

Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, head of external affairs for the Moscow Patriarchate, has paid a brief visit to Pope Theodore II (Horeftakis) at the seat of the Alexandria Patriarchate to discuss relations between the Alexandrian and Russian Orthodox Churches. Participating in the discussions were papal auxiliary Bishops Gabriel of Mareotis and Nicodemus of Nitria

Following his time with the Alexandrian Orthodox pope Metropolitan Hilarion remained in Alexandria to visit the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of St. Mark, which enshrines part of the saint's relics. More here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Greek Orthodox Church Responds to Criticism of Finances

The Church of Greece has responded to widespread criticisms of its financial support by the Greek state - an arrangement made when the latter took the Church's lands (it's main financial support until then) at the time of Greece's independence from the Ottoman Empire - by noting that since 2010 its clergy have been paying taxes on their salaries together with the rest of the country. More here.

Abductions Up in Egypt as Syrian Islamists Continue Attacks on Christians, Iraqis

It is being reported that planned abductions of Coptic Orthodox women and girls in Egypt have risen significantly since the overthrow there of President Hosni Mubarak, while in Syria Islamist terrorists fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad continue to terrorize the country's large Christian minorities, including the many Iraqi Christian refugees who fled to the country after the US occupation of Iraq. More here and here.

Prague Metropolitan to Visit Alaska

It has been announced that Metropolitan Christopher (Pulec) of the 'Czechoslovak' Orthodox Church will begin a visit to the American Orthodox (OCA) Diocese of Sitka and Alaska at the end of this month. The visit will be the second to Alaska by a first hierarch of one of the Local Orthodox Churches. More here.

Coptic Orthodox Church Prepares to Nominate New Pope

The Coptic Orthodox Church has released the names of clerical and lay participants in a special ecclesiastical assembly to nominate a successor to the recently reposed Pope Shenouda III (al-Suriani) of Alexandria. The release of the list is the first step towards the convening of the assembly, which will nominate three candidates for inclusion in the drawing of lots to chose the next Coptic Orthodox patriarch.

The Church also recently announced that it will not have representatives at the annual iftaar (a dinner breaking the Ramadan fast) this year due to its continued mourning of Pope Shenouda's falling asleep. More here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ukrainian Orthodox Synod Elects New Bishops, Approves Athonite Dependency

The Local Synod of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church has met in Kiev in advance of the upcoming celebrations in honor of the Baptism of Rus'. The Synod took a number of decisions concerning the life of the Church of Ukraine, including the transfer of several hierarchs to new sees. It also elected Archimandrites Roman (Kymovych) as Bishop of Konotop, Ephraim (Yarinko) as Bishop of Berdyansk, Clement (Vecher) as Bishop of Irpin' and auxiliary of the Metropolitanate of Kiev, and Arcadius (Taranov) as Bishop of Ovidiopol' and auxiliary of the Eparchy of Odessa and approved the request of St. Panteleimon's Monastery on Mount Athos to reestablish a dependency (μετοχιον/подворье) in Kiev, pending the approval of the Moscow Patriarchate. More in Ukrainian here and here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Moldovan, Transdniestrian Leaders Visit Mount Athos with Moldovan Orthodox Metropolitan

Moldovan Prime Minister Vladimir Filat and President Yevgeniy V. Shevchuk of the breakaway state of Transdniestria in eastern Moldova have begun a joint pilgrimage with Metropolitan Vladimir (Cantarean) of the Moldovan Orthodox Church to Mount Athos. The leaders are described as being "on a private visit to jointly pray at the ancient monasteries on Mount Athos." The pilgrimage is the latest in a series of informal contacts between the two. More here.

Chicago Priest Elected Bishop of Scopelos

The Holy Synod of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church has elected Archimandrite Pankratij (Dubas), rector of Chicago's Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Volodymyr, as Bishop of Scopelos and auxiliary to Metropolitan Athenagoras (Anastasiadis) of Mexico City. Axios!

Roughly 17,000 Ukrainians have immigrated to the countries comprising the territory of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico City in recent years and Bishop-elect Pancratius will be responsible for the Metropolis' outreach to them. Further information will be linked as it becomes available.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ethiopian Muslims Protest Government

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Abeba, turned out this past weekend to protest what they feel is mistreatment at the hands of the Ethiopian government. More here.

Orthodox-Muslim relations in Ethiopia have been tense over recent years due to the sporadic burning of Orthodox churches in primarily Muslim areas and the Muslim minority's dissatisfaction with a national census that showed that Islam is not practiced by over half the country, despite Muslim claims to the contrary and sometimes aggressive proselytization funded out of the Arabian Peninsula.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Visits Katyn Memorial

Patriarch Cyril (Gundyayev) of Moscow has visited the Katyn Memorial in Russia's Smolensk region to pay his respects to the memory of the many thousands of Russians and Poles executed there by the Soviet government. As part of his visit to the memorial the patriarch celebrated the Sunday Liturgy in the memorial Church of the Resurrection. More here and here.

OCA Holy Synod Releases Statement on Metropolitan's Resignation

Due to the ongoing controversy over the recent resignation of Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) the Holy Synod of the OCA has released a statement clarifying some of the reasons for its unanimous request that the metropolitan resign.

Photo of the Day: Festal Services in Haiti

The festal services at the Church of St. Augustine in Jacmel, Haiti, on the eve of St. Augustine's day.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Abune P'awlos Marks 20 Years as Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch

Patriarch Abune P'awlos of Addis Abeba has celebrated the 20th anniversary of his enthronement as patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. More here.

Memorial Complex Opens in Tatarstan

On 10 July local officials and religious leaders in Tatarstan, a member republic of the Russian Federation, opened a memorial complex in honor of the sinking of the Bulgaria cruise ship near the site of the tragedy in which one hundred twenty-two people died. The memorial complex includes both a Russian Orthodox chapel and a Tatar Muslim mosque and was opened on the anniversary of the disaster. More in Russian here.

Istanbul Government Attempts to Divide City's Christians in Property Offer

It has emerged that the Istanbul city government, in an attempt to induce infighting between Turkey's Orthodox Christian minorities, has offered the Syriac Orthodox Church properties belonging to the Constantinopolitan and Armenian Orthodox Churches for the establishment of its first permanent parish church in Constantinople. More here.

Last Christians in Homs Evacuated

Christians from the Syrian city of Homs have been evacuated under an agreement on the issue between the Syrian Armed Forces and the rebels fighting to take the city. At the time of the evacuation the city, once home to tens of thousands of Christians, only had roughly a hundred left due to Islamist rebels' targeting of the city's churches. More here.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Consecrates New Suffragan Bishop for Omsk Region

On the recent feast of Sts. Peter and Paul Patriarch Cyril (Gundyayev) of Moscow led the festal services in the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Lefortovo. During the services the patriarch and four other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church consecrated Archimandrite Peter (Mansurov) as Bishop of Kalachinsk. Axios! Bishop Peter is one of the new suffragan bishops of the Metropolitanate of Omsk. More in Russian here.

Moscow Church on Site of Napoleonic Burials to be Rebuilt

As part of the "Program 200" to build two hundred new parish churches in metropolitan Moscow the decision has been made to rebuild the historic Church of the Kazan' Icon in western Moscow. The church, originally situated outside of the city, was built on the site of the burial of the French soldiers who died in the area of Moscow during Napoleon's occupation of the city. More in Russian here.

Assyrian Patriarch Plans Visits to Turkey, China

Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV (Khnanya) of Seleucia-Ctesiphon has received invitations to visit both Turkey, where efforts have begun to preserve historic Assyrian churches and monasteries in its southeastern districts, and the People's Republic of China, where discussions are underway to reestablish the Church of the East in the country. (Christians were historically a significant religious minority in the Chinese Empire, and were members of the Church of the East.) More here.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Visits Valaam, Consecrates New Bishop for Tatarstan

Patriarch Cyril (Gundyayev) of Moscow has undertaken a pastoral visit to the patriarchal Valaam Monastery of the Transfiguration in northern Russia, which has seen an extraordinary transformation from the ruins it was left in after the collapse of the Soviet Union to one of the best known Russian Orthodox monasteries in the world.

During his time on Valaam the patriarch led the celebrations in honor of the Monastery's founders, Sts. Sergius and Herman. During the festal Divine Liturgy Patriarch Cyril, Valaam's abbot Bishop Pancratius (Zhyerdyev) of Troitsk, and six other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church consecrated Archimandrite Mefodiy (Zaitsev) as Bishop Methodius of Almetyevsk, one of the new eparchies established for the Orthodox Church in Tatarstan.

More in Russian on the patriarch's visit to Valaam and the festal services can be found here and here.

Syriac Orthodox Monastery Loses Lands Under Turkish Court Ruling

The highest Turkish court of appeals has upheld illegal claims on the lands of St. Gabriel's Monastery in Tur Abdin by neighboring Kurdish Muslim villages, ignoring the Monastery's 1,600-year history by claiming that it was built on the site of a mosque (!) and that its lands actually belong to the nearby Kurds. The Monastery is expected to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. More here. H/t to Ad Orientem.

ACROD Clergy Nominate Episcopal Candidate

The special clerical assembly of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese that met today under Archbishop Demetrius (Trakatellis) of New York has nominated Greek-American Archimandrite Grigorios (Tatsis) for election as its next ruling bishop. More here.

ACROD Clergy Gather to Nominate New Bishop

Please keep the clergy of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in your prayers today as they gather under their locum tenens, Archbishop Demetrius (Trakatellis) of New York and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to nominate a candidate for election by the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Holy Synod as their next bishop. The website for the nomination assembly can be found here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

UOCUSA Announces Special Assembly to Elect Metropolitan

Archbishop Anthony (Scherba) of Hierapolis, locum tenens of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Diaspora (UOCUSA), has announced that the UOCUSA will hold a special assembly (собор) of the Church this coming October to elect a successor to its recently reposed first hierarch, Metropolitan Constantine (Buggan) of Irinoupolis. More here. H/t to Byzantine Texas.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

OCA Holy Synod Appoints Locum Tenentes, Administrator

In meetings this past Saturday and today the Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) has appointed Archbishop Nathaniel (Popp) of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America as locum tenens of the OCA, Bishop Michael (Dahulich) of New York as its administrator, and Bishop Alexander (Golitzin) of the Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese of Toledo as locum tenens of the Diocese of Washington, D.C. More here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

OCA Metropolitan Resigns

This past Friday Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) has submitted his resignation to the Holy Synod of the OCA at the unanimous request of the American Orthodox hierarchy, expressing in the resignation that he "had come to the realization long ago that that [he had] neither the personality nor the temperament for the position of primate." Who the Holy Synod will appoint as locum tenens of the Diocese of Washington, D.C., and whether Metropolitan Jonah will be elected to another diocese within the OCA have yet to be decided. The text of the metropolitan's resignation letter can be found here.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cyprus Appeals for Russian Financial Assistance

The Cypriot government has officially requested €5 billion in financial assistance from Russia to offset losses caused by the economic crisis in nearby Greece. Cyprus chose to appeal to Russia rather than the European Union because of the lower interest rates offered by the Russian government. More here.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Confirms al-Qaeda Fighters Entering Syria

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has confirmed reports that there is a significant flow of Islamists militants from Iraq into Syria to participate in the Sunni uprisings there against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Supporters of al-Qaeda, theoretically one of the United States' main opponents in the international terrorist scene, are among the militants entering Syria to fight its secularist regime. More here.

Montenegrin Orthodox Metropolitan Visits Macedonia

Metropolitan Amphilochius (Radovic) of Cetinje, leader of the Orthodox Church in Montenegro, has undertaken a three-day visit to Macedonia and the Serbian Orthodox Church's autonomous Archdiocese of Ohrid there. While in Macedonia Metropolitan Amphilochius met with the bishops of the autonomous Macedonian Orthodox Church, visited some of its monasteries and parishes, and discussed the situation of Archbishop John VI (Vraniskovski) of Ohrid, who has been imprisoned for the sixth time by the Macedonian authorities. More in Serbian here.

GOAA Clergy-Laity Congress Passes Resolutions Supporting Greece, Middle Eastern Orthodox

The biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, has passed resolutions calling on the US government to protect the Orthodox Christian minorities native to Syria and Egypt. The Congress also appealed to all Americans to help Greece as it continues to struggle with the effects of its economic crisis. More here.

Prayers Requested for Flood Victims in Krasnodar Territory

During the festal services celebrated by Metropolitan Isidore (Kirichenko) of Yekaterinodar and Bishop Herman (Kamalov) of Yeysk this morning in honor of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist at the Cathedral of St. Catherine in Yekaterinodar, Russia, special petitions were included for the victims victims of the recent flooding in southern Russia's Krasnodar Territory, which so far have claimed ninety-nine lives. Per Metropolitan Isidore's request please keep the Krasnodar Territory and its residents in your prayers as they continue to deal with the damage caused by the flooding. More here and in Russian here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

OCA Diocese of Dallas Assembly to Nominate Bishop Postponed

Archbishop Nikon (Liolin) of Boston, locum tenens of the Diocese of Dallas and the South of the American Orthodox Church (OCA), has postponed the special diocesan assembly scheduled for later this month to nominate the next Bishop of Dallas. The most popular candidate currently under consideration in the Diocese, Archimandrite Gerasim (Eliel), is slated for a second vetting by the Holy Synod of the OCA due to the change in the composition of its membership since his fist vetting in 2009. More here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Israel Considers Mandating Military Service for Israeli Arabs, Ultra-Orthodox Jews

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has announced that legislation under consideration to introduce universal conscription would mandate that Israel's Orthodox Jewish fundamentalists as well as its Arab citizens participate in military and national service. More here.

Romania Makes St. Andrew's Day a Public Holiday

The Romanian Parliament has designated the new style feast of St. Andrew (30 November) as a public holiday in recognition of the widely held belief that St. Andrew introduced Orthodox Christianity to what is today Romania. More here.

Turkish Imam Calls for Reopening of Halki

Imam Mehmet Gormez, head of the Turkish government's Religious Affairs Directorate, has publicly called on the Turkish government to allow the Halki Theological Seminary to reopen during his visit today to the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. More here.

Bulgarian Orthodox Church Calls for Religious Education in State Schools

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is calling upon its members to pray for the introduction of religious education into the curriculum of Bulgaria's state schools. Proposals for the introduction of religious education are currently under discussion by the Bulgarian government. More in Bulgarian here.

Armenian Orthodox Catholicos Visits France

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of Echmiadzin has undertaken a pastoral visit to the Armenian Orthodox Diocese of Marseille in southern France. While in France Catholicos Karekin celebrated the 80th anniversary of Holy Translators' Church in Marseille and met with the hierarchs, clergy, and representatives of the Armenian Orthodox Church in France as well as with Bishop Anba Athanasius of the Coptic Orthodox Church in France. More here.

Fast for Eritrean Orthodox Church Announced

Three days of fasting and prayer for the clergy and faithful of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church in Eritrea have been announced. The days are to be observed on 24, 25, and 26 July, and clergymen are requested to especially remember Patriarch Abune Anthony of Asmera, who has been placed under house arrest by the Eritrean regime, at any Divine Liturgies they serve on these days. More here.

Bulgarian Orthodox Primate Marks 41 Years as Patriarch

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church yesterday marked the 41st anniversary of the election of Patriarch Maxim (Minkov) to the Sofia Patriarchate with celebratory services in Sofia's Cathedral of St. Alexander of the Neva concelebrated by the Church's hierarchs in Bulgaria. More in Bulgarian here.

Syriac Orthodox Church Announces Plans to Open Private University in Syria

The Syriac Orthodox Church has announced plans for the construction of a church-affiliated private university near al-Qamishli in northeastern Syria. The new Al-Akhtal University will focus on scientific fields, with faculties of dentistry, engineering, medicine, and pharmacology (among others) planned. More here.

Place of the Nativity Listed as a World Heritage Site

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has approved the Palestinian National Authority's request that the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem be listed as a World Heritage site. The church was listed as being "in danger" due to the political unrest in the area and its general need for significant repairs. More here.

'No Comment' from Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Language Law

Archbishop Mitrophan (Yurchuk) of Bila Tserkva, a spokesman of the autonomous Church of Ukraine, has called for a "constructive dialogue" between the proponents and opponents of the recent legislation establishing Russian as a regional official language alongside Ukrainian while at the same time distancing the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the conflict by noting that the Church supports the integrity of the Ukrainian state, but refuses to participate in the political process when it does not touch on matters affecting public morality. More in Ukrainian here.

Bulgarian Orthodox Youth Pilgrimage Planned from North America

The Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese of New York, the United States, and Canada is organizing a youth pilgrimage to Bulgaria, with visits to holy places throughout the country. To sign up for the pilgrimage please visit the pilgrimage's website.

First Services Held at New Russian Orthodox Church in Lisbon

Bishop Nestor (Sirotenko) of Korsun has led the first services to be celebrated at the new Russian Orthodox Church of St. Felix in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. The church was transferred to the Eparchy of Korsun, which cares for the communities of the patriarchal Russian Orthodox Church in Western and Southern Europe, from the Roman Catholic Patriarchate of Lisbon.

Following the services Bishop Nestor met with all the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church in Portugal to discuss the possibilities for the future development of the Church in the country. More here.

Coptic Orthodox Representatives Consider Withdrawal from Egyptian Constituent Assembly

The Coptic Orthodox Church is considering withdrawing its representatives from the Egyptian Constituent Assembly, charged with revising the Egyptian constitution, due to efforts on the part of Islamist members of the Constituent Assembly to strengthen the place of Islamic law in the document. More here. H/t to Ad Orientem.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Consecrates New Bishop of Shuya

As part of his recent pastoral visit to the Eparchy of Bryansk in western Russia Patriarch Cyril (Gundyayev) of Moscow celebrated the consecration of the new diocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Bryansk as well as the consecration of Archimandrite Nicon (Fomin) to the episcopacy as Bishop of Shuya. Axios! Bishop Nicon's diocese is part of the newly established Metropolitanate of Ivanovo in central Russia. More here.

50,000 Christians Flee Syria?

In a repose to the Duma a Russian diplomat serving in Syria has estimated that 50,000 Christians have fled Syria or been killed during the course of the ongoing Syrian conflict. More here.

Russian Orthodox Church to Promote Environmental Conservation

The Moscow Patriarchate, the All-Russian Society of Nature Protection, and the World Russian People's Council have signed an agreement to work together to promote the conservation and protection of the environment. Commenting on the agreement, Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, noted that over the last twenty years conservation efforts hadn't been a priority for the Russian Orthodox Church due to the assortment of political and economic challenges facing its members, but that the Church needed to encourage its clergy and laity to become more actively involved in protecting the environment.

The signatories have yet to agree to concrete steps on environmental issues that they can take together, but plan to discuss (among other possible plans of action) programs to encourage churches and monasteries to take an interest in the physical state of the areas around them to encourage a greater overall awareness of the state of environment being a community responsibility. More in Russian here.

Photo of the Day: Consecration of Bishop Nicon of Shuya

Archimandrite Nicon (Fomin) being consecrated Bishop of Shuya by Patriarch Cyril (Gundyayev) and other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church in Bryansk's Holy Trinity Cathedral. More pictures from the service can be found here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

In Memoriam: Archpriest Peter Gillquist

Fr. Peter E. Gillquist, a retired clergyman of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, fell asleep in the Lord last night at the age of seventy-three. Born into a Lutheran family, the future priest went on after university to become a full-time staff member of the Evangelical Protestant Campus Crusade for Christ, eventually becoming one of the organization's regional directors. He also worked as a senior editor for Thomas Nelson Publishers, being involved in the 1970s on the overview committee for the New King James Version Bible.

While still working with Campus Crusade Fr. Peter and some of his colleagues became convinced through their studies that the Orthodox Church was the only one that had preserved the ancient Christian Faith through the centuries. In 1973 this led to their organization of a network of house churches in the USA and Canada, at first called the "New Covenant Apostolic Order" and later (after 1979) the Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC), as part of their efforts to live the Orthodox Faith as they knew it.

After exploring the possibility of joining the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America or the American Orthodox Church (OCA) the majority of the EOC joined the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese. (Although several EOC parishes that initially refused to be united with the Orthodox Church were later accepted through the OCA.) Fr. Peter went on to serve as director of the archdiocesan department for missions and evangelism as well as project director for the Orthodox Study Bible. He reposed due to a recurring skin cancer. May his memory be eternal! Further information about Fr. Peter and funeral announcements should be posted here.