Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New ACROD Bishop Consecrated, Enthroned

Bishop-elect Gregory (Tatsis) of Nyssa has been consecrated to the episcopacy and enthroned as ruling bishop of the American Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Diocese (ACROD) in services led by Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrius (Trakatellis) of New York and concelebrated by Metropolitan Anthony (Scherba) of Hierapolis of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (UOCUSA) and the Diaspora, Metropolitans Alexis (Panagiotopoulos) of Atlanta and Sabbas (Zembillas) of Pittsburgh of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and Bishop Daniel (Zelinskyy) of Pamphilon of the UOCUSA. Axios! Bishop Gregory is the fourth hierarch of the ACROD. More here.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Coptic Orthodox Pope Enthroned

Pope Theodore II (al-Anba Bishoy) has been enthroned at St. Mark's Cathedral in the Cairene district of Abbasiya as patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and 118th successor to St. Mark. The enthronement prayer was read by Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zacchaeus (Iwas) of the Syriac Orthodox Church. Axios!

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Coptic Orthodox Pope Speaks Against Violence, Attacks

Pope Theodore II (al-Anba Bishoy) of Alexandria has stated that he is not intimidated by the rise of Islamism in Egypt since the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, saying that, "[For] our part, we work with love and respect, we reject violence and...the idea of attacks on property, people, lives and homes." The new Coptic Orthodox patriarch also spoke out against clergy and monks who have participated in political demonstrations. More here.

Address of Fr. Matthew Moriak to the 2012 Midwestern Diocesan Assembly

Below are the comments made by Fr. Matthew Moriak, rector of St. Gregory of Nyssa's Church in Columbus, Ohio, and son of Bishop Matthias (Moriak) of Chicago, at the recent Midwestern Diocesan Assembly. The text was prepared by Fr. Matthew prior to the Assembly and formed the core of what he said at the Assembly, although he may have made minor additions or changes to the text as he was speaking. The text is as I received it, with one minor clarification in brackets.

Your Eminence [Archbishop Nikon], my brother clergy, brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ is Amongst Us! I had no idea coming into this assembly whether I would, could, or even should speak. But, I prepared a statement in advance, because I felt if I were to say something, it would be entirely too emotional of an effort without something written in front of me. Whatever feelings of ill will people have towards His Grace, the fact is that I know him better and have known him longer than anyone in this room, so I do feel I speak with some authority. First, I wish to express my continued prayers for the complainant. She is remembered by me during Proskomeida each and every Sunday. I feel a strong sense of sadness that she felt uncomfortable because of the things His Grace said to her. My defense of His Grace, if that’s what you choose to call it, is not meant to somehow place any blame on her, or to diminish her feelings. Some have come to definitive conclusions about this matter based on what they have seen and what they know. On the surface, I do not fault anyone for reaching those conclusions. Below the surface, there is more to it than that. His Grace’s statement has been made out to be his way of justifying his actions.  I can tell you with great certainty that this is not the case. His Grace does take responsibility for the things he knows he did wrong. That does not include owning up to an attempt to seduce the complainant or to have had any impure intention towards her. To confess to such things would be dishonest. I am sorry if this is offensive to some, but it is the truth.

We have procedures, policies and guidelines in the OCA that we follow in cases like this. Part of that would include the confidentiality of the testimonies, accusations and responses made during the course of the investigation. The majority of the people, clergy and faithful alike, should not have even seen these accusations. If we wish to be fair, and if we wish to make a judgment based on the totality of the investigation than we should all have a desire and a responsibility to demand, now that the investigation is complete, to see and/or hear His Grace’s response to the allegations. I would feel justified standing before you today in sharing portions of that response given the amount of information that has been leaked and given the verbal evisceration His Grace has been exposed to for the past two months, and I could do it in a way that would protect the identity of the complainant, but I won’t do that, because I have not been given a blessing to do so. I will simply say that upon hearing His Grace’s response, those who initially interviewed him informed him that accusation, according to the standards and procedures of the OCA, was the lowest level of accusation that could be made and still fall under the category of “sexual misconduct.”

These aren’t His Grace’s words, but what he was told because it boiled down to how one interprets what was said. Even the complainant herself said she couldn’t say whether His Grace’s intentions were pure or evil. There is nearly 18 months of background that led to the text conversations in question, and 90% of the texts in question have simple, logical, explanations that would render them completely innocuous. Those that do not have simple explanations, are, at worst, completely stupid statements—this is the word I used myself when I spoke with His Grace shortly after the complaint had been made. You haven’t seen His Grace’s response to the allegations. Perhaps in seeing it, your feelings and judgments would be the same as they are today, but at least you would have heard the entirety of the investigation.

To render definitive judgments without that information is reckless and irresponsible. It would be akin to sitting on a jury, hearing the prosecution’s argument and than telling the defense “you have no need to speak, we’ve made up our minds.”  This wouldn’t fly in the court of law, and I’m quite certain it is not the way the Church is supposed to work. I pray that none of us, in this life or the next, has to face that sort of judgment. This is not to say that His Grace has no need of repentance. It is not to say that I have no level of disappointment in His Grace for putting himself in this position. It is to say that I am certain that His Grace was not attempting to seduce this woman; it is to say that I am certain that His Grace is not some sort of sexual predator, or that he was “grooming” her as has been suggested on the internet and today. This is something I know him to be not capable of.

I was the first person he called upon learning of the allegation, and we talked for along time. I can assure you, if I thought even for one second, that my father was capable of the things he has been accused of, I would have been the first person to ask him to resign. I could share with you any number of stories about His Grace that speak to who I know him to be; stories of his great generosity and willingness to go out of his way for people in ways that, in our cynical world, would no doubt be viewed by some in this room as “suspicious” There’s one of my sister’s best friends, who while in college remembered repressed memories of abuse she suffered at the hands of her father when she was a child. This was compounded by the realization that her mother knew about the abuse and did nothing to protect her. My parents opened the doors of our home to her whenever she needed a place to stay. She stayed with us often, both before and after my mother’s passing, because she felt safe there. My father counseled her through the horror of dealing with these memories.

There is a family in one of His Grace’s former parishes. His Grace baptized their youngest daughter and watched her struggle in her youth with a learning disability. The family became very close to my father because of his support for them. The girl’s mother became the choir director after my mother passed away. In a parish that existed for over 100 years without a woman ever reading the Epistle, His Grace trained this young girl to read it when she was 13, to help her with her confidence and her growth in her faith. If it had been up to His Grace, she would’ve read the Epistle at his consecration. To this day, the family is still close with my father. The mother reached out to him recently, reminding him of his friendship with her family, of the impact he has had on their lives, and on how her daughter still considers him to be her “2nd father.”

But perhaps the best way I can shed some light onto His Grace would be to say this: His Grace, as you know, has been visiting the orphanage and monastery in Guatemala for 12 years. The nuns there, due to their unique ministry, are quite adept at identifying those people who come to the orphanage who may not have the best interest of the children in mind. His Grace has been told and has seen these people removed from the orphanage over the years. The nuns have had a standing invite to His Grace for him to come to be at the monastery and orphanage permanently, if it were his desire to do. His Grace has been in contact with the Mother Inez throughout this process. She knows the nature of the accusations made against him. That invitation still stands. During those 12 years, His Grace has seen the horrors of the abuses the majority of those orphans have suffered through—sexually, as well as emotionally and physically—more often than not at the hands of their own parents.  He has also seen how genuine love and the Light of Christ in their hearts and souls has brought them peace and healing. He has brought that love to them, counseled them, and seen how their faces light up each and every time he arrives and how they shed tears each and every time he leaves.

I am sorry this doesn’t sync up with what some of you think about my father, but it is the truth.

His Grace continues to be obedient to what he has been asked to do, as he has been obedient at every turn during this investigation. Perhaps he will resign, if it is God’s will. As his son, part of me hopes he does, not for the reasons some wish him to resign, but because I know it would be better for his physical, emotional, and perhaps in some ways, his spiritual life. Should he be restored, I am confident that he will have the ability to continue to work for the well being of this Diocese. If you ask my father, he will readily tell you that he is not a scholar or an academic. He is a pastor, and a good one at that. It is his ability to be a pastor that will allow him to shepherd this Diocese. Regardless of what happens, and regardless of whether he remains the Bishop of this Diocese, those of us who know him best, those of us who have been touched by his ministry will continue to love and support him, knowing who he is, and what is in his heart. And no matter what happens, he will find a way to serve the Church, whether it is in Guatemala or somewhere else, because that is all he has done and known for over 40 years. Thank you for listening.

Orthodox Cemetery Vandalized in Libya

The Alexandrian Orthodox Church in Libya is reporting that the Greek Cemetery in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, has been vandalized. The damage to the cemetery was discovered when Metropolitan Theophylact (Tzoumerkas) of Tripoli visited it to serve an annual memorial commemorating Greeks who died fighting in Libya during World War II. More here.

Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Remembered in Rakovica

Yesterday marked the third anniversary of the repose of Patriarch Paul (Stojcevic) of Serbia of thrice blessed memory. The day was marked at Serbia's Rakovica Monastery of the Trinity, where Patriarch Paul was buried, with a memorial Divine Liturgy led by Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irenaeus (Gavrilovic) and attended by the Serbian president and prime minister as well as other hierarchs and prominent Serbs. More here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On Bishop Matthias (Moriak)

I am a member of a parish church that has belonged to the American Orthodox Church (OCA) since its founding and, indeed, belonged to the Russian Orthodox Metropolia of North America for many decades before the 1970 autocephaly. Although I have moved a fair amount over the past few years, I have always maintained my membership in my parish here in the Midwest and have followed the assorted developments within our Chicago Diocese with interest.

The nomination of Bishop Matthias (Moriak) for election as Bishop of Chicago and Midwestern America filled me with great joy. I had nothing against the other candidates in the diocesan selection process (one was and is the parish priest of a friend of mine and is very much loved by all who have met him), but of the three I felt that Bishop Matthias was most like our beloved Archbishop Job (Osacky) of thrice blessed memory and would do what was best for the building up of our diocesan church and of Orthodoxy in the Midwest.

Since Bishop Matthias' election and consecration I've run into him during pastoral visits on a couple of occasions and have never particularly liked him. It must be very hard to try to fill Archbishop Job's shoes given what an amazing man he was, and I confess to not knowing Bishop Matthias well enough to appreciate him for himself, something which is no doubt true in much of the diocese. (Though how quickly we forget the difficulties Vladyka Job experienced when he was first enthroned in our diocese.)

Nevertheless, Bishop Matthias' carefulness in his early management of the diocese - his pastoral visits to each of our parish and mission churches and monastic communities to get a feel for the realty of life in the communities of our diocese, his refusal to begin making changes during his first year as our diocesan bishop - impressed me, and still does. (After all, at every hierarchical service we - through the subdeacons - dress our hierarchs up like East Roman emperors and then sing that they live forever! It wouldn't be surprising for such things to go to one's head, and quickly!)

When Bishop Matthias did make changes, they were to bring the liturgical life in our diocese into conformity with the customs of our Byzantine Rite. They were not anti-woman, they were not unpastoral - they were simply to save us from the liturgical abuses all too characteristic of some segments of our OCA and of certain of our sister jurisdictions here in North America, failings that would never be tolerated in the Old World and would never have been tolerated under Sts. Alexis (Toth) of Minneapolis, Barnabas (Nastic) of Gary, John (Kochurov) of Chicago, Nicholas (Velimirovich) of Libertyville, Leontius (Turkevich) of Chicago, or any other of our Midwestern or North American saints.

The news that Vladyka Matthias had been involved in some sort of sexual misconduct came as a surprise to me, and yet not. Not because I had suspicions of him before, but simply because of the many scandals our OCA has suffered through in recent years. ('What? Another one? Well, lets start the nominations for a new bishop...again...') And then the Holy Synod took its time in initiating an investigation of the allegations, which, given the track record of the Holy Synod when its membership was quite different from what it is now, understandably made many think there would be yet another cover up in the Church where there ought instead to be justice.

And then the text of the texts was released on one of those silly, scandal-worshiping, anti-Orthodox blogs one hears about all the time - the likes of which only the crazed Voices from Russia site or the internet posts of a certain retired bishop can compare to - and I, while embarrassed by what our bishop had written, couldn't help but think, 'Well, there must be more. This can't be it, clearly it's the tip of the ice berg.'

And wasn't. The texts were it. Period. When the Midwestern Diocesan Assembly was briefed on the investigation, its recommendations, and the decision of the Holy Synod on the matter it became clear that there was no sexual abuse that had happened, there was no appalling file of other incidents of sexual abuse from Bishop Matthias' 38 years of priestly service in the American Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Diocese, and that, in fact, the texts were of the sort that close friends and I exchange daily when teasing each other.

It emerged that Vladyka Matthias had been trying to cover up his plans to visit this woman because they had close mutual friends of each of their families at her parish who would have been offended if he'd dropped by and not seen them too, even though he was coming for less than a day to anoint someone who was sick. It was pointed out to us that the Holy Synod had taken so long in launching an investigation because the allegations were so minor - and the back story provided by Bishop Matthias and other witnesses so convincing - that our hierarchy hadn't been sure that the allegations even qualified as sexual misconduct. The investigation concluded that they were, but of the most minor sort.

And so I find myself, after months of scandal and turmoil in our Midwestern Diocese that has taken its toll on our bishop, our clergy, and our already thoroughly scandalized and demoralized laity, incredibly upset. Of course I am upset that Bishop Matthias misjudged the informality of his relationship with this woman, and that he didn't have the sense to realize that when he texts now he does so as a successor to the Apostles and our Metropolitan Leontius, and not simply as a grandfather, father, or friend.

I am, however, even more upset that these "issues" were not resolved privately, and appalled that we have a policy that deliberately scandalizes the faithful and all who do not (and cannot) know the confidential details of such proceedings by labeling such a thing as texts as "sexual misconduct." If such a policy were applied to the laity and they were driven out of the diocese over the silly and even wildly inappropriate texts they sent their close friends, I'm not sure there'd be a parish in the diocese left with a member under the age of 50! (And perhaps anyone, period - I'm always surprised by how many older people have begun to figure out texting and e-mail :-).)

Why is it that texting and severe sexual abuse are both classified as "sexual misconduct"? Why, in our zealousness to protect the weak - an entirely appropriate and needed zealousness I would like to add - have we condemned a good man without impure intentions alongside the damnable? If there were ever a reason to rethink our policy, to have a sexual misconduct policy for actual sexual misconduct and a 'professional misconduct' policy or something similarly named for this matter, which has caused such pain and heartache in our diocese, then this is it!

Perhaps there is more to the story than either side has confessed to our Holy Synod. I don't know. But if matters stand as they were clarified for us at the Midwestern Diocesan Assembly, then all of this scandal and agony in our diocese was for nothing. And even so, it might be too late. Even if Bishop Matthias is a second Nectarius, his authority and credibility in our diocese may be too damaged for him to continue to serve in it as a father and shepherd of souls. And that remains to be decided as he undergoes the therapy prescribed by the Holy Synod of our OCA.

Unlike many in our diocese, I trust our Holy Synod, whose membership has changed so drastically since the revelation of some of the scandals surrounding Metropolitans Theodosius (Lazor) and Herman (Swaiko), to make the right decision in the end, knowing as they do the full story behind all of this. And if we lose our bishop it may be a loss for us, but it will be a gain for the Holy Trinity Monastery and St. Raphael Orphanage (Hogar Rafael Ayau) in Guatemala, where Mother Ines, the abbess, who has known Vladyka Matthias for years and as part of her orphanage's ministry takes in many abused and neglected children, has already made it clear that he will always be welcome to minister there full-time.

Please, whoever you are and whatever you think of this most recent scandal in our OCA, pray for us - for the Holy Synod, for Bishop Matthias, and for the clergy and faithful of our Chicago Diocese, especially the woman who brought these allegations forward in the first place. Pray that God, Who sees the hearts of men, will make clear what is best for the salvation of this woman, of our diocesan church in the Midwest, and for our OCA as a whole.

God help all of you starting the Prophets' Fast today - I hope it is a peaceful, illumining time for you as you prepare to celebrate the Nativity in the flesh of our God and Savior.

On the 2012 Midwestern Diocesan Assembly and Bishop Matthias (Moriak)

I'm posting below a guest editorial from a clergyman of the Diocese of Chicago and Midwestern America of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) who was at Monday's Midwestern Diocesan Assembly. I am neither endorsing nor rejecting it, I simply thought that it would provide a good counterbalance to the editorial already posted on the Assembly's discussions by Fr. Theodore Bobosh.

All relevant comments will be posted after moderation. Comments specifically directed to the author of this editorial will be passed on to him, and any of his responses will be posted.

The Midwest Assembly was attended by about 110 persons, chaired by the Chancellor of the Diocese, Fr. John Zdinak.  His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon attended, as did the Chancellor of the OCA, Fr. John Jillions.

The agenda began with typical financial reports and a budget that needed to be passed. But some were anxious to talk about the “elephant in the room” and pushed to have that dealt with first.  By a slim margin, tabling of budget issues was passed so that a discussion about the status Bishop Matthias could begin.

It began with Fr. John Zdinak laying a few ground rules and making some clarifications. He explained that the Assembly is not empowered to make any decisions about the matter, and thus any proposed resolutions about it would not be considered.

Fr. John Jillions then presented the assembly with a thorough summary of the situation.  He explained that all the policies of the OCA were followed to the letter, that Bishop Matthias was placed on leave, and that an investigation was begun.  They selected three very highly qualified and impartial professionals who had a great deal of experience in these matters.   They were then left to work independently to conduct their interviews and make their report and their recommendations.

The results:  while Bishop Matthias was found to be technically in violation of the policy, it was at the lowest possible level to be considered as “sexual misconduct.”  So low, in fact, that they recommended to the Synod that he could be reinstated after a time of rehabilitation.   The Synod of bishops reviewed all the details of the case and agreed it had that level of severity.  They released a letter stating this decision, and the decisions are now in the process of implementation.   Fr Jillions also warned us that one’s understanding of the text messages, without the other details of the investigation, would be misleading.

Fr. Jillions also wished to dispel a rumor that Bishop Matthias had a “file” on him during his time in the Carpatho-Russian Diocese.  The truth is that, after 38 years of service as a priest, there was not a single complaint against him.

After this report, several different people came to speak at the microphone, continuing until after lunch, a summary of which would be difficult.   Perhaps the main point of those who spoke against Bishop Matthias was that we ought not to confuse the question of forgiveness with whether or not he ought to be restored as bishop; these two are not the same question.  Some who spoke felt, at times quite strongly, that this level of misconduct was enough to make his restoration to the diocese impossible.

Many other people reminded the assembly that we do not have all the information, and how easy it is for information taken out of its context to look different than the reality.   The investigation team, which did have all the information in their hands, reached a conclusion quite different than those who wanted him retired.  One priest pointed out that, at this level of ‘misconduct’, many priests would also be guilty of it on a regular basis, and he gave many examples.   In spite of the fact that no one was privy to the complete details of the situation, some priests recounted to the Assembly that they actually took the confidential-leaked text messages and presented them to their parishes or parish councils, and, not surprisingly, there was outrage.  In parishes where that was done, the priests reported that Bishop Matthias would not be “welcomed” there.

Father Matthew Moriak, Bishop Matthias’ son, spoke eloquently for six or seven minutes.   He said that, yes, those texts were stupid, and he had told his father as much.  But to those who have read any sexual content into those texts, of which there was actually none present, it was clear proof that they did not know this man at all.  He recounted his father’s years of service, how he was the first priest to ever have a woman read the Epistle in that parish, how he has tirelessly served the Orphanage in Guatemala for years, etc.  The Abbess there, Mother Ines, has said that she has known Bishop Matthias very well for many years, and, were Bishop Matthias to resign, she would be happy to have him come and serve there in the orphanage full time.

Father Matthew also filled in some of the background about the relationship between the woman, her boyfriend, and her family with the Moriaks, which explained why Bishop Matthias mistook his relationship with the woman as being more familiar than she perceived it to be.  Fr Matthew also expressed some dismay that people want his father to apologize for having had sexual intentions, which he could not and would not do, because it is simply not the truth.

Another priest who has known Bishop Matthias for decades, also reiterated, VERY vociferously, that those who had read sexual content into those messages were quite mistaken.  He spoke of the horrible problems that internet gossip causes, and that, in his estimation, some who were speaking against Bishop Matthias seemed to have other motives.

It was difficult to gauge the overall feeling of the room, because most remained silent.   Numerically, more people spoke against His Grace than on his behalf.   But there was clearly more applause after those who spoke on behalf of His Grace.  Only roughly ten priests (of the sixty or so that were there) stated they did not want the Bishop to visit their parishes.  There were two votes that might be indirectly taken as a measure of the room temperature. The first was a motion to delay the budget discussion so that talking about our hierarchal situation might immediately commence (as mentioned above), and another voice vote to not allow his salary to automatically increase next year.  Both of these passed by narrow margins (the first was so close that raised hands had to be counted).

A side note: it was made to sound as though Bishop Matthias had requested this raise.  Bishop Matthias did NOT request this raise.  Also note that his salary is MUCH less than our previous bishop’s salary.

After everyone was done speaking on this topic, the meeting moved ahead with its other normal items.  Elections were conducted for Metropolitan council, Diocesan Council, etc.  Besides those already mentioned, a resolution was passed to give the Diocesan Council more discretion in adjusting spending for the following year, in order to be able to react as the situation with our hierarch may change.

There was also the annual discussion on switching from a head-tax to a tithing model, which, drum-roll-please..., failed again.  It was again sent to the Diocesan Council where a committee will be formed to deal with collecting the necessary data from the parishes, in order to implement a tithing model at our NEXT Assembly.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Macedonian Orthodox Holy Synod Open to Dialogue with Serbian Orthodox Church

The Holy Synod of the independent Macedonian Orthodox Church has welcomed the statement of the President of Serbia calling for a resumption of dialogue between the Macedonian and Serbian Orthodox Churches concerning the canonical situation of the former, which unilaterally separated from the Church of Serbia in 1967 to restore the autocephaly of the ancient Archdiocese of Ohrid, which had been suppressed by the Ottoman government in 1767. More in Macedonian here.

Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarch Visits Chicagoland

Patriarch Philaret (Denysenko), first hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate, has completed a pastoral visit to the exarchate of the Kiev Patriarchate in the United States. During his time in the USA the Ukrainian Orthodox patriarch, once a frontrunner in the USSR for election as head of the Russian Orthodox Church, visited Ukrainian Orthodox churches in the Chicago area. More here.

Varna Metropolitan Appointed Locum Tenens of Sofia Patriarchate

In light of the recent repose of Patriarch Maxim (Minkov) of Sofia the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has appointed Metropolitan Cyril (Kovachev) of Varna as interim chairman of the Holy Synod and locum tenens of the Sofia Patriarchate until the election of a new patriarch. More in Bulgarian here.

Echmiadzin Catholicos Visits the Eastern USA

Catholicos-Patriarch Karekin II (Nersessian) of the Armenian Orthodox Church of Echmiadzin has begun a pastoral visit to the Armenian Orthodox Diocese of New York and Eastern America. More here.

Alexandrian Orthodox Pope Visits Congo-Brazzaville

Pope Theodore II (Horeftakis) of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church has undertaken a pastoral visit to the Orthodox Church in Congo, where he visited the parish churches of the Ascension, St. Photina, and St. Demetrius in the coastal city of Pointe-Noire, blessed the future site of a clinic being organized in the city, and met with local clergy, laity, and government officials. More in Greek here, here, and here.

Pan-Orthodox Funeral for Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Held in Sofia

This past Friday the Bulgarian Orthodox Church held the funeral of newly reposed Patriarch Maxim (Minkov) of Sofia in the Bulgarian capital's Cathedral of St. Alexander of the Neva. The funeral was concelebrated by Patriarchs Bartholomew (Arhondonis) and Irenaeus (Gavrilovic) of the Constantinopolitan and Serbian Orthodox Churches, Archbishops Jerome II (Liapis) and Anastasius (Yannoulatos) of the Greek and Albanian Orthodox Churches, and hierarchs and clergy of the Church of Bulgaria and other Local Orthodox Churches. Archbishop Stephen (Veljanovski) of the Macedonian Orthodox Church was also present, and met with Patriarchs Bartholomew and Irenaeus after the funeral services.

May Patriarch Maxim's memory be eternal! More here and, in Macedonian, here.

New Coptic Orthodox Pope Elected

Following the nomination of three candidates for the throne of St. Mark recently in Cairo auxiliary Bishop Tawadros (al-Anba Bishoy), who until now has served in the Diocese of Beheira under Metropolitan Pachomius of Beheira, has been revealed as the 118th successor to St. Mark as Pope and Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and All Africa of the Coptic Orthodox Church. He is worthy! Axios! More here.

On a personal note, God certainly has a sense of humor in elevating two Theodores, both the second of that name, as popes of the Churches of Alexandria :-).

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Visits Holy Land

Patriarch Cyril (Gundyayev) of Moscow has undertaken a visit to the Holy Land, meeting with Patriarch Theophilus III (Giannopoulos) of Jerusalem as well as with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Ecclesiastical Missions in Jerusalem of both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). More here and here.

Philadelphia Archbishop Elected OCA Metropolitan

The Holy Synod of the American Orthodox Church (OCA) has elected Archbishop Tikhon (Mollard) of Philadelphia as Metropolitan of Washington and All America and Canada. Axios! The election closed the special All-American Council in Parma, Ohio, held to nominate a new first hierarch for the OCA to succeed Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen). The Council was held on the old style feast of St. John (Kochurov) of Chicago, and was lifted up in the prayers of many, no doubt especially by Sts. John of Chicago and John (Maximovich) of San Francisco, before whose relics a supplication for the Council was held by cathedral clergy in San Francisco on 12 November.

Archbishop Tikhon was a frontrunner on the Council's first and second ballots, but was second in number of votes to Bishop Michael (Dahulich) of New York. There were no disruptions of the Council by supporters of Metropolitan Jonah, who himself only received seventeen votes on each round of voting, and there was no effort on anyone's part to have the election held off so that the former metropolitan could be reinstated. Metropolitan Tikhon's election was received by the Council with joy, and he was warmly acclaimed when he was presented to the Council.