Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Controversy in Bulgaria Over Archons

Controversy has engulfed the Bulgarian Orthodox Church due to its recent decision to follow the example of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church in awarding the providers of large monetary contributions with the imperial East Roman title of archon (literally "ruler"). Guidelines for awarding the title were recently approved by the Bulgarian Orthodox Holy Synod. The decision came under widespread criticism immediately after its publication, with some seeing it as a public expression of the power of the mafia in the country and the Church. One of the country's hierarchs, Metropolitan Nathaniel (Kalaidzhiev) of Nevrokop, has publicly criticized the Holy Synod's ruling. More here.

EU, Montenegro to Begin Membership Talks

Montenegro and the European Union (EU) are set to begin talks this week concerning the former's admission to the EU. They were scheduled after Montenegro met preliminary human rights and legal standards necessary for consideration for EU membership. More here.

Romanov Memorial Cross Vandalized

The memorial cross at the site of the discovery of the remains of the last Russian imperial family near Yekaterinburg has been vandalized. It is unknown whether the vandalism was a random act or an indirect attack on the Russian Orthodox Church. More here.

Bulgarian Government Supports Jerusalem Church Initiative

An initiative launched in western Bulgaria for the construction of a Bulgarian Orthodox representation church in Jerusalem has gained the support of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church attempted in the past to establish a representation in the Holy City, but was later forced by the Bulgarian Communist regime to halt its efforts. More here.

Coptic Orthodox Delegation Meets with Morsi

Metropolitan Pachomius of Beheira, locum tenens of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, visited Egyptian President-elect Mohamed Morsi today to congratulate him on his electoral victory. Morsi assured Anba Pachomius and those with him that he would remain in close contact with the Coptic Orthodox Church and that he would not allow any in Egypt to "condescend" to its native Copts. More here.

Turkey Returns Properties to Bulgarian Orthodox Church

The Turkish government has announced that it intends to transfer ownership of seven properties in Constantinople formerly belonging to the Bulgarian Orthodox Exarchate to the representation of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Constantinople. The properties include both a former monastery and a Bulgarian Orthodox cemetery. More here.

New Egyptian Government to Include Coptic Vice-President

It has been announced that newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party intends to appoint a Copt and also a woman to the Egyptian vice-presidencies as a sign of his intention to be a president for all Egyptians, very much in opposition to his previous campaign comments on the suitability of women and non-Muslims serving in the Egyptian presidency. More here.

In Memoriam: Metropolitan Meletius of Nicopolis

Metropolitan Meletius (Kalamaras) of Nicopolis of the Greek Orthodox Church has fallen asleep in the Lord. A native of the Peloponnese, as a young man Metropolitan Meletius studied theology in Athens before serving in the Metropolis of Messenia. In 1980 he was consecrated ruling hierarch of the Metropolis of Nicopolis and Preveza in southern Epirus, which he shepherded until his repose on 21 June at the age of seventy-nine. May Metropolitan Meletius' memory be eternal! More in Greek here.

Update (12:35pm): An English-language press release on Metropolitan Meletius' repose can be found here.

Assyrian Patriarch Meets with Chinese Christians

Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV (Khnanya) of the Church of the East has met in Chicago with the director of Hong Kong's Jingjiao Fellowship to discuss relations between the Assyrian Church and the Fellowship, which was founded to promote awareness of the ancient presence and activity of the Church of the East in China. During the meeting the Fellowship's head presented the Assyrian patriarch with a copy of the first translation of the Assyrian Divine Liturgy into Chinese. More here.

Russian President Visits Holy Places in Jerusalem, Bethlehem

As part of his recent state visit to Israel Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has made a pilgrimage to the holy places of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, stopping at the Church of the Resurrection (the "Holy Sepulchre") in Jerusalem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. In Jerusalem the president was welcomed by Patriarch Theophilus III (Giannopoulos) of Jerusalem and representatives of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Russian Orthodox Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. More here.

Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Undergoes Surgery in Germany

Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zacchaeus I (Iwas) of the Syriac Orthodox Church underwent a successful surgery this morning in Hanover, Germany. Prayers for his continued good health and recovery are appreciated as the patriarch convalesces in Hanover over the next few days. More in Arabic here.

Services Celebrated in Western Cuba

Western Cuba has seen its first Orthodox services, celebrated in Pinar del Rio by the rector of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Kazan' Icon in the Cuban capital Havana. More here.

New Cathedral Consecrated in Tirana

Archbishop Anastasius (Yannoulatos) of the Albanian Orthodox Church has consecrated the new national Cathedral of the Resurrection in the Albanian capital, Tirana. The new cathedral is a symbol of the resurrection of the Church of Albania, whose institutions were completely destroyed by the Albanian Communist regime during the Cold War era. More in Romanian here.

The consecration took place as part of a celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the Albanian Orthodox Church's revival under Archbishop Anastasius. Archbishops Demetrius (Trakatellis) of New York of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church and Nicon (Liolin) of Boston and the Albanians of the American Orthodox Church participated in the celebration alongside the members of the Holy Synod of the Albanian Orthodox Church. More here.

Former Evangelical Orthodox Leader Diagnosed with Cancer

Archpriest Peter Gillquist, a leader of the union of the larger part of the independent Evangelical Orthodox Church in North America with the Antiochian Orthodox Church in the late 1980s, has been diagnosed with skin cancer. Please remember him and his family in your prayers! More here.

New Bishop of Kinel Consecrated in Russia

During the festal services in honor of All Saints of Rus' Patriarch Cyril (Gundyayev) of Moscow consecrated the new Church of St. Igor in Peredelkino. During the Sunday Liturgy that followed the church's consecration Patriarch Cyril together with twenty-eight other hierarchs also consecrated the new ruling hierarch of the Eparchy of Kinel and Bezenchuk, Bishop Sophronius (Balandin). More in Russian here.

Appeal: Kitchen Renovations at South Canaan Monastery

St. Tikhon's Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, is beginning the renovation of the kitchen used for the children's summer camp held annually at the Monastery and would appreciate any assistance that can be provided. The full appeal with a link for donations can be found here.

Assyrian Holy Synod Meets, Consecrates New Bishop

A session of the full Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East has been held under Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV (Khnanya) of Seleucia-Ctesiphon at the seat of the Church in Chicago. During the course of session the assembled hierarchs discussed the current challenges facing the Assyrian Church in Iraq and Syria as well as in the Assyrian Diaspora. A new bishop for the eastern United States, Bishop Mar Paul (Benyamin), was consecrated following the close of the session. Prior to his consecration Bishop Mar Paul, a native of northwestern Iran, served in Assyrian parishes in Tehran and Chicago. More here and here.

Harbin Church Hosts Russian Orthodox Metropolitan

For the first time in fifty years Holy Protection Church in Harbin, Manchuria, has had hierarchical services, celebrated on the feast of the Holy New Martyrs of China by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Hilarion stopped at the Harbin parish as part of his ongoing visit to China on behalf of Patriarch Cyril (Gundyayev) of Moscow. More here.

Since the death of its rector in 2001 Holy Protection Church has been without regular services despite being one of the only remaining parishes in China outside of Hong Kong allowed to operate by the Chinese government. In the fall two members of the Harbin parish will begin theological studies in Russia to prepare to serve the Chinese Orthodox Church.

Romanian Orthodox Bishop Meets with Department for Romanians Abroad

Bishop Cyprian of Campineanca, an auxiliary of the Bucharest Patriarchate, has met with representatives of the Romanian government's Department for Romanians Abroad to discuss ways in which the department and the Romanian Orthodox Church can cooperate in caring for the Romanian Diaspora. Bishop Cyprian discussed the recent expansion of the Bucharest Patriarchate in the Diaspora and into the canonical territories of its sister Orthodox Churches during the course of the meeting, also noting that the Patriarchate is now preparing to open a church on the canonical territory of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church in South Africa. More in Romanian here.

Russian Orthodox Delegation Visits Romania

A delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate has visited the headquarters of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Bucharest. More here and in Romanian here.

St. Alexandra of Diveyevo

Joyous feast!

Today we commemorate St. Alexandra (Melgunova), founder and first abbess of the Diveyevo Monastery of the Holy Trinity. Born a noblewoman in Ryazan, early in her marriage St. Alexandra (then named Agafia) was widowed and decided to dedicate her life to God, becoming a nun at St. Florus' Monastery in Kiev.

After receiving visions from the Mother of God and the death of her only child St. Alexandra moved from Kiev to Diveyevo, where she began the building of the monastery with funds from the sale of her lands. The first cells for the future sisterhood were built around the Monastery's Church of the Kazan Icon with the blessing of the Sarov elders, among them St. Seraphim of Sarov.

After Mother Alexandra's repose St. Seraphim told pilgrims to visit her grave and ask for her prayers, prophesying the later uncovering of her relics and her glorification by the Russian Orthodox Church. Of the Saint he said, "She was a great woman, a saint; her eyes were fountains of tears, her humility was inscrutable, her prayers to God were pure, and her love for everyone was unfeigned!"

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

Sunday, June 17, 2012

In Memoriam: Mother Marina (Iltola) of Lintula

Abbess Marina (Iltola) of the Lintula Monastery of the Holy Trinity in eastern Finland has fallen asleep in the Lord at the age of eighty-two. Born in 1930 on the shores of Lake Ladoga, Mother Marina (originally named Maria) studied in Finland and the United States. As a young woman Maria worked in Finland as a teacher while remaining actively involved in the life of the Orthodox Church, even going to Kenya in 1977 as a missionary.

Not long after her service in Kenya, in 1982, Maria joined the sisterhood of the Lintula Monastery, being tonsured to the little schema in 1988. Ten years later Mother Marina was elected abbess of the Lintula sisterhood, in which capacity she served until her repose earlier today due to complications from an auto accident. May Mother Marina's memory be eternal! More on her life can be found in Finnish here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese Blames ROEA for Dialogue Failures

The patriarchal Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of the Two Americas has released the report for its upcoming archdiocesan clergy-laity Congress on the state of the dialogue between itself and the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America (ROEA), the original Romanian Orthodox diocese for North America and a constituent diocese of the American Orthodox Church (OCA). In the report the Archdiocese blames the failure of its dialogue with the ROEA on "a fundamentally different understanding of dialogue, dispute resolution, and processes equipped to heal division" and not its refusal to consider a solution that would include unity with the OCA (as opposed to the Bucharest Patriarchate) or its failure to follow the due diligence practices already implemented by the ROEA. The full report can be found here.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Conference of the Russian Orthodox Hierarchs in the Far Abroad Announced

The Synod Abroad of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) has announced plans for the convening of a conference of all Russian Orthodox hierarchs serving outside the canonical territory of the Church of Rus' in the former Soviet Union. The conference, which is to be held this fall in London, will be dedicated to the 5th anniversary of the reconciliation of the Moscow Patriarchate and the ROCOR.

In addition to other matters the Synod Abroad decided to designate St. Seraphim's Church in Sea Cliff, New York, as a memorial church in honor of the reconciliation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the former USSR and the ROCOR.

More on the recent session of the Synod Abroad can be found here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Russian Orthodox Holy Synod Establishes New Dioceses, Metropolitanates in Russia

In addition to reviewing recent events in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church, at its session this month the Russian Orthodox Holy Synod also established the new dioceses and metropolitanates for the Republic of Tatarstan, the regions of Belgorod, Ivanovo, and Omsk, and the Stavropol' Territory.

The Orthodox Church in Tatarstan, previously organized as the Eparchy of Kazan', was reorganized to establish the new Eparchies of Almetyevsk and Chistopol'. Igumen Methodius (Zaitsyev) was elected as Bishop of Almetyevsk while the newly elevated Metropolitan Anastasius (Metkin) of Kazan' was given temporary care of the Eparchy of Chistopol'.

In the Belgorod region of southwestern Russia the Eparchies of Gubkin and Valuyki were established. Igumen Sophronius (Kitayev) was elected Bishop of Gubkin, whilst the newly elevated Metropolitan John (Popov) of Belgorod was given care of the Valuyki Eparchy.

The Ivanovo Eparchy in central Russia was divided to establish the new Eparchies of Kineshma and Shuya. Archimandrite Nicon (Fomin) and Igumen Hilarion (Kaigorodtsev) were elected Bishops of Kineshma and Shuya respectively.

In western Siberia's Omsk region the Eparchies of Isilkul, Kalachinsk, and Tara were established. Igumen Sabbatius (Zagryebyelniy) was elected Bishop of Tara and Hieromonk Peter (Mansurov) was elected Bishop of Kalachinsk with Metropolitan Vladimir (Ikim) of Omsk being left in charge of the Eparchy of Isilkul.

The Eparchy of Stavropol', with jurisdiction over Stavropol' Territory in southern Russia, was equally divided to create the new Eparchy of Georgiyevsk, which was entrusted to the newly elevated Metropolitan Cyril (Pokrovskiy) of Stavropol'.

At the request of the Local Synod of the Belorussian Orthodox Church the Holy Synod also transferred Bishop Stephen (Neshcheret) of Turau to the vacant Eparchy of Homyel in southeastern Belarus and auxiliary Bishop Leonid (Fil') of Rechitsa to the newly vacated Eparchy of Turau in southern Belarus.

The Holy Synod also accepted the retirement of auxiliary Bishop Eutyches or Evtikhiy (Kurochkin) of Domodedovo, formerly a diocesan bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in Russia and more recently (since the reconciliation with the ROCOR) an auxiliary of the Moscow Patriarchate.

A brief report in English on the Holy Synod's recent session can be found here, while the full report in Russian can be read here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

ACROD Announces Nomination Assembly

The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese (ACROD) has announced that a special assembly of diocesan clergy will be held this July to nominate a candidate for election as bishop of the ACROD by the Holy Synod of the Constantinopolitan Orthodox Church. Several candidates have been nominated, but the press release from the ACROD only noted a Greek-American nominee, Archimandrite Grigorios Tatsis, by name. Fr. Grigorios is apparently the candidate approved by the ACROD's locum tenens, Archbishop Demetrios (Trakatellis) of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. More here.