Thursday, March 23, 2017

Camouflaged UOC-KP devotees storm church & hold service

March 13, 2017 (Orthodox Rights) – On 11 March representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP), accompanied by a group of volunteers in camouflage, occupied the Assumption Cathedral of the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, where they performed a service despite the protests of the clergy of the UOC, writes Patriots of Ukraine.

Representative of the UOC-KP, priest Dmitry, accompanied by 200 volunteers who participated in the service, came to the Cathedral on the pretext of visiting the National Kiev-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Reserve.

Two priests of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church attempted to prevent a 15-minute worship of the schismatics, however, as reported, “the activists asked not to interfere with the service.”

The radical group justified their provocation by the fact that the Assumption Cathedral is part of the reserve, which “belongs to the people of Ukraine.”

The "Council" of Crete & the New Emerging Ecclesiology

When the video of this talk is online, I'll post it.

(Orthodox Ethos) - The "Council" of Crete and the New Emerging Ecclesiology: An Orthodox Examination

By Protopresbyter Peter Heers, Professor of Old and New Testament, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, Jordanville, NY

Christ is in Our Midst!

I consider it an honor to stand before you today, to speak to the Shepherds and Pastors of Christ's rational flock, and in particular to the successors of the great work begun in the Russian Diaspora by such holy ones as St. John the Wonderworker and Metropolitans Anthony, Anastasi, Philaret, and Vitaly, Archbishop Averky and Metropolitan Laurus and many others, who are revered fathers not only of the Russian Church Abroad, but indeed of the Church Catholic.

The witness given by the Fathers of the Russian Church Outside of Russia with regard to the Holy Tradition, the monastic and ascetic ideal and in particular the ecclesiology of the Church, continues to inspire and guide Orthodox throughout the world.

Today, as the Ark of the Church sways in the wake of the passing of the self-styled 'Great and Holy Council" of Crete, we have great need of their exactitude in life and faith - or, better, we have great need to follow and imitate them in these.

In the short time allotted me today, I hope to succinctly but clearly lay out before you what of notability and significance happened in Crete in June of last year, that being informed you may act according to God's will. In particular I will briefly examine and critique the following three aspects of the "Council" and its aftermath...
Complete article here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

OCA synod to meet in Syosset

(OCA) - The Spring Session of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America will be held at the Chancery here from Tuesday, March 28 through Friday, March 31, 2017.

According to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, the meeting will open with the address of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon. Reports from the OCA’s Officers — Archpriest John Jillions, Chancellor; Melanie Ringa, Treasurer; and Father Eric — will be presented, as will updates by Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs; the OCA General Counsel; and representatives of the Church’s boards, departments, commissions and other offices. Especially highlighted will be the work of the OCA Department of Christian Education and the Department of Christian Service and Humanitarian Aid, while an update on the OCA’s communications efforts and web site also will be presented. In addition, the Board of Theological Education will present the list of ordination candidates through the Diaconal Vocations Program.

A key agenda item will be a review of the work of the Preconciliar Commission, charged with organizing the 19th All-American Council [AAC], slated to convene in Saint Louis, MO in July 2018. Among the AAC-related matters to be reviewed will be the Council theme, logo, preliminary agenda and associated events.

Also slated to be presented is a report on the progress of the Holy Synod’s Standing Committee for Canonical Procedure, which is examining the process of spiritual courts and the work of the Spiritual Abuse Working Group, based on the initiative from the 18th AAC. The reestablishment of the Canonization and Bioethics Commissions also will be under consideration.

Initial plans for the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the glorification of Saint Herman of Alaska and the autocephaly of the OCA, both of which will be observed in 2020, and this year’s 100th Anniversary of the election of Saint Tikhon as Patriarch of Moscow, also will be reviewed.

On Wednesday evening, March 29, members of the Holy Synod will meet with graduating OCA students from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary, South Canaan, PA and Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, who will sing the responses at the celebration of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.

The Holy Synod of Bishops is the supreme canonical authority in the Orthodox Church in America. Chaired by the Metropolitan, the Synod includes as voting members all diocesan bishops.

Canopy of the Most Holy Sepulchre restored and reopened

Things begin in earnest at about the 29:45 mark.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Monastery of Vatopaidi land deal defendants found innocent

(Pemptousia) - Today, 21 March 2017, the three-member Court of Appeals in Athens declared all the defendants innocent in the case of the Monastery of Vatopaidi land exchange. This verdict comes at the end of eight difficult years for Abbot Ephraim and the other defendants, including two years of judicial sessions and sixty days in court.

In December, the Public Prosecutor had made a recommendation of acquittal for all the defendants in the case, stating that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing on their part.

The courtroom was filled to capacity with hierarchs, clergy, monastics and lay people, who expressed their approval and relief by a generous round of applause.

Priest changes tactics in dealing with local prostitutes

Moscow, March 20 (Interfax) - Rector of a new Moscow church dedicated to St. Iona, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, priest Alexander Narushev told how he tried to speak the same language with prostitutes.

"Not far from the site where the church was constructed, there was a place where prostitutes gathered. My attempts to hold negotiations with them failed. I asked them not to commit sin, I tried to explain that a church is being constructed here, so that they do not offend God. But they even threatened me in response. Once they asked: "Aren't you afraid not to get back home?" I answered: "I am afraid, I have four children, but I can't keep silence," he said in his interview to the Moscow City Diocese.

According to him, he decided to change tactics and came to these women to congratulate them on Christmas and Easter, brought them Easter cakes and blessed eggs, and "their conscience started saying that something went wrong."

"One of the girls from this contingent came up to me and said: "Father, there lives a boy in our neighborhood, he wants to have a scooter, but they don't have money on it, we collected a certain sum for this dream, please, give it to his mother." But I suggested them to buy a scooter themselves and give it to the boy. And they did it. This mutual kindness became possible in result of building our church," Father Alexander said.

Chaldeans unable to supply priests to diaspora

(CC) - The Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate has announced that it cannot supply priests for all of the Chaldean communities living outside Iraq, and has urged those communities to find their own candidates for the priesthood.

Because of the enormous exodus of Christians from Iraq to Australia, the US, Canada, and other countries, the patriarchate explained, there are not “sufficient Chaldean priests to be sent in all the cities were new Chaldean communities are created.” The patriarchate notes that other Eastern Christian churches based in the Middle East are experiencing the same problem.

Chaldean bishops leading communities in the “diaspora” have been asked, therefore, to look for their own internal solutions to the shortage of priests. The patriarchate specifically suggested the ordination of married men, which is allowed in the tradition of the Eastern Catholic churches.

Greek Synod receives accusation of heresy against EP

(Orthodox Ethos) - Archimandrite Chrysostom, the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring in Paros, Greece, has submitted to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece an historic formal accusation of heresy against Patriarch Bartholomew. Abbot Chrysostom has petitioned the Holy Synod to recognize, repudiate and condemn the Patriarch's "eterodidaskalia" (heterodox teachings) as contrary to the right teaching of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.

"In submitting this letter to you," he wrote to the Holy Synod, "we place before the honorable Body of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece the scandal caused to myself, our brotherhood, clergy, monks and countless laity, by the successive waves of heterodox teachings which have been expressed at various times by His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, the pinnacle of which being [expressed at] the Holy and Great Council held in Kolympari of Crete."

The formal petition provides 12 examples of heterodox teaching issued by the Patriarch over several decades, as well as 9 relevant canons of the Church, and ends with a list of bishops (13), abbots, hieromonks and clergy (14), and theologians (9) which the Abbot is suggesting be called as supportive witnesses before the Holy Synod when he will be formally called to defend his accusation.

Orthodox Ethos hopes to have the historic appeal translated soon.

Available in Greek here.

Germany's Episcopal Assembly met in Munich

( - The Spring Session of the Orthodox Bishops’ Assembly in Germany took place from March 5 to 7, 2017, in Munich. The ruling and vicar bishops of the dioceses in the country celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the ROCOR’s Cathedral of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Church of Russia, held working meetings and met with faculty and students of the Orthodox Theology Training Center of the Ludwig Maximillian-University in Munich.

The main working session took place on March 6 at the Serbian St. Jovan Vladimir church compound in Munich. After the agenda was announced, reports were made by representatives of the Bishops’ Assembly commissions. The head of the translation commission, Archbishop Mark of Berlin-Germany and Great Britain (ROCOR), presented the first official German version of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, which had been approved by all the Orthodox bishops in Germany.

The hierarchs considered problems involved in teaching Orthodox faith in general education schools in some federal lands. Special attention was given to the licensing of teachers, recognition of theological higher education certificates in countries not members of the EU, as well as possible ways of raising the level of the teachers. Having considered the state of affairs in dioceses, the participants stressed the need to intensify the work of joint Orthodox pastoral conferences.

Archpriest Constantine Miron (Patriarchate of Constantinople), the commissioner of the Bishops’ Conference on Inter-Christian Cooperation, made a report on the state of affairs in the field of relationships with other Christian confessions. The bishops considered the nature and dynamic of the development of inter-Christian relations and expressed concern for the activity of pseudo-Orthodox schismatic groups in Germany.

On March 7, the participants in the session visited the University of Munich center for Orthodox theology. The center’s staff presented the programs implemented in the university and spoke about possibilities for deepening one’s knowledge and carrying out research work at the center.

After the presentation, the final meeting of the Spring Session took place. It was agreed that the next, Autumn Session of the Orthodox Bishops’ Assembly in Germany will take place in late October in Aachen, the ROC Diocese of Berlin-Germany website reports.

Met. Hilarion of Volokolamsk visits Mt. Athos again

( - Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations (DECR), with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, was on a visit to Holy Mount Athos from March 11 to 13, 2017.

During the same days, Bishop Antoniy of Bogorodsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate office for institutions abroad, began his working visit to Mount Athos.

Upon his arrival to the Holy Mountain, Metropolitan Hilarion, together with Bishop Antoniy, visited the New Phivaida hermitage, which belongs to the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon, to see the progress of the large-scale restoration work carried out in the skete.

Then the pilgrims went to Karyes, where they were received by the Protoepistatis of the Mount Athos Holy Epistasia, Father Barnabas of the Vatopedi monastery. Having venerated the Icon of Our Lady ‘It is Meet and Right’ at the church of the Dormition, the guests went to the Iviron monastery, where Metropolitan Hilarion venerated the Ivirion Icon of Our Lady and read the acathistus in Greek.

Having later that day come to the St. Panteleimon monastery, the pilgrims prayed at Small Vespers followed by All-Night Vigil, at the Holy Protomartyr Panteleimon church.

On March 12, the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the cathedral church. He was assisted by Bishop Antoniy, Father Superior Archimandrite Yevlogiy, brethren and members of the pilgrims group in holy orders.

After the dismissal, Metropolitan Hilarion delivered a sermon:

‘Your Grace,

Very Reverend Father Yevlogiy,

Dear Fathers and Brothers:

I cordially greet you on behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who asked me to convey to all of you his Primatial blessing. Every day He prays for Holy Mount Athos, the monastery of the Holy Martyr and Healer Panteleimon and for all the brethren in Christ of this holy monastery.

I am delighted at the opportunity, with the Patriarchal blessing, to celebrate here the Divine Liturgy on the commemoration day of St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki. It is not accidental that his memory is honoured on the second Sunday of Great Lent because St. Gregory, as we heard during the matins canon, is ‘the second important theologian’ after the first one, namely, St. Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople who lived in the 3th century.

St. Gregory Palamas lived ten centuries later but the Church glorifies his as ‘the second Theologian’ because it fell to his lot to safeguard the Church against a dangerous heresy and formulate the very important doctrine of the divine light and the essence and actions of God.

In our time, few understand the meaning of these doctrines and the significance of the disputes developed in Constantinople in the mid-14th century, just as why we should remember today and glorify this great saint. Actually, the disputes were about the very core of spiritual and religious life at a time when the ages-long experience of Athonite monks was challenged, who in their prayer with incessant mention of the name of God rose up to such high stages of the contemplation of God as to see the divine light with their inner eyes. Some theologians decided to challenge this experience and to state that the monks, while praying, saw ordinary material light. And St. Gregory Palamas, who was not an academic theologian but a theologian of spiritual experience, described this experience in his writings and gave it a theological meaning.

Dialogue Commission for Russian and Coptic Churches meets

( - On March 11-17, 2017, a delegation of the Coptic Church visited Moscow to get acquainted with social service of the Moscow Patriarchate. The visit takes place as a part of activities of the Commission for Dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church.

The delegation includes Bishop Julius, general bishop for public, ecumenical and social services, and Ms Barbara Soliman, director of the papal office for projects and relations.

On March 13, the guests had a talk with Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuevo, chairman of the Synodal Department for church charity and social ministry of the Russian Orthodox Church. Also attending the meeting, which was held at the Ss Martha and Mary community, were hieromonk Thomas Ava Mina, representative of the Coptic Church in Russia; hegumeness Yelisaveta (Pozdnyakova), mother superior of the community; and Mr. Sergey Alferov, a staff member of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR). Prospects of cooperation between the Synodal department and social services of the Coptic Church for realization of common initiatives in the social sphere were outlined.

That same day representatives of Pope and Patriarch Tawadros II visited the DECR. With the blessing of its chairman, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Bishop Julius and Ms Soliman were greeted by hieromonk Stefan (Igumnov), DECR secretary for inter-Christian relations. A wide range of issues of mutual interest was discussed.

The delegation also visited the St. Alexius hospital, the St. Demetrius sisterhood and college for nurses, the St. Spyridon almhouse and the St. Sophia children’s home, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and the stavropegic Convent of the Intercession.

On the last day of their visit, Bishop Julius and Ms Soliman were received by Bishop Gennady of Kaskelen, the co-chairman of the Commission for Dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church. Discussed at the meeting, which took place at the Moscow representation of the Metropolitan area of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Republic of Kazakhstan, were various directions of the Commission’s activity.

Monday, March 20, 2017

What is the Precious Cross for Orthodox Christians?

(Pemptousia) - The Church boasts of the Precious Cross and experiences its message at every point of its worship. At every service, throughout the whole of the Church’s life, the presence of the Tree of Life is palpable.

The Precious Cross is highlighted as a source of power and life at the mid-point of Great Lent, reminding us that the path leading to our resurrection with the Risen Christ involves being crucified, according to Saint Justin Popović. If we don’t endure the Cross, we won’t reach the Resurrection.

The Precious Cross is a weapon against the devil: ‘Lord, you have given us a weapon against the devil’, says the hymnographer . It’s the sign of the grace of God. From being a dishonourable symbol of death, in the Old Testament (‘cursed are they who are hanged on the tree’, Deuteronomy 21, 23) in the New it becomes the symbol of victory, the life-bearing force, the invincible trophy, the firm support of our lives (Gal. 3, 13).

During the course of the forty-day fast, we, too, in a sense are crucified, by mortifying the passions, realizing the bitterness of sloth and our fallen state. This is why the precious and life-giving Cross is elevated, for our rest and recuperation, for our enlightenment and inspiration, as a reminder of the suffering of Our Lord.

The Lord wishes to tell us that His Cross is no mere symbol, but an experience, a way of life. If we live in the Cross of Christ, we have the chance to be saved, to be revived and to defeat death, as the Lord Himself did, ‘trampling down death by death’ as we shall sing on Easter Sunday.

But what is the Precious Cross for Orthodox Christians?

Telos Project seeks to learn about young adults' religious lives

(OCA) - The Telos Project, a five-year initiative at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology [HCHC] exploring the religious lives of young adults ages 23-29, is seeking 14 parishes belonging to the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America to pilot new forms of young adult ministry.

“The Telos Project is a tremendous opportunity to engage and embrace Orthodox Christian youth, and inspire them to a life integrated in Jesus Christ,” said the Rev. Christopher T. Metropulos, President of HCHC. “It is further an exercise toward greater cooperation and understanding throughout all levels and jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church in America.”

Hosted by the Office of Vocation and Ministry, the Telos Project was inspired by the popular CrossRoad Summer Theology Institute, whose alumni identified the need for more faith-based support systems in young adulthood. It seeks to help parishes guide young adults through the questions of identity, vocation, and relationships they face in their twenties and beyond. Telos Project findings will also shape curriculum for Orthodox clergy and lay leader formation.

“HCHC is honored to hold a leading role in examining and educating Orthodox Christian young adults,” continued Father Christopher. “It is my hope that all parishes meeting the pilot criteria will consider an application to join with us to inspire a new generation of clergy, lay leaders, philanthropists and volunteers who will serve the Orthodox Church well into the 21st century.”

Any canonical Orthodox parish located in the US is invited to apply to be a pilot parish. Accepted parishes will be required to assemble a team of three to seven parish leaders, young adults, and other community members to serve as a young adult leadership team for the project. Leadership teams will participate in collaborative webinars, annual learning conferences, and other learning resources as they design new ministries for and with the young adults in their communities. Pilot parish findings will then be shared on the web, social media, and other multimedia outlets.

Additional information is available on-line here or may be obtained by contacting Telos Project Director Elyse Buffenbarger at

Friday, March 17, 2017

Post-Cretan event showdown intensifies across the globe

( - As previously reported, two priests, Fr. Theodore Zisis and Fr. Nicholas Manolis, from the Thessaloniki Diocese have been called to ecclesiastical court for ceasing commemoration of their ruling bishop, in protest of his acceptance of June 2016’s Pan-Orthodox Council. The priests’ decision came after years of struggling with the spirit of ecumenism and months of turmoil in the Greek Church and beyond since the Crete Council.

Bishop Longin (Zhara) of Banchensk of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has taken a similar stand, as have a host of clergy of the Moldovan Church and of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and of Mt. Athos.

The Holy Provincial Synod of the Church of Crete met on March 16 to discuss, among other things, the same phenomenon occurring in their canonical territory, with at least four priests having ceased commemoration of their bishops at the Divine Liturgy and other services of the Church.

The Synod held their meeting after a letter was drafted and signed by Protopresbyter Gabriel Mazanaki, Fr. Emmanual Sarri, Fr. Spyridon Damanaki, and Fr. Paul Mazanaki and given to their bishops Metropolitan Damaskinos of Kydonia and Apokoronos, Metropolitan Eugenios of Rethymno and Avlopotamos, and Metropolitan Irenaios of Lambi, Syvritos and Sfakia, reports

The content of their letter is similar to that which Fr. Theodore Zisis announced in his parish on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. In it the priests write that “with sorrow” they feel they must cease commemorating their ruling bishops, as they believe they have fallen into the heresy of ecumenism by accepting the documents of last year’s council on their island. They write that they believe their decision is “consistent with the Apostolic and Patristic Tradition on the issue of communion of heretics.” In their letter they state that their non-commemoration would begin, as did Fr. Theodore’s, on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, when the Rite of Orthodoxy is read out, in which all heretics who have attacked the Church are anathematized. Ecumenism, the belief that the Orthodox Church is not the one, true Church, but that the Church somehow exists beyond its bounds, is commonly referred to as the “pan-heresy” by modern saints and holy elders.

St. Patrick gets Muscovite calendrical recognition

Moscow, March 10 (Interfax) - The Russian Orthodox Church will from now on mark March 30 as Saint Patrick's Day in commemoration of St. Patrick (ca. 385-461 AD), a saint of the ancient and undivided Church, who is now widely known as the patron saint of Ireland.

"Among the important issues considered at the Holy Synod's meeting today was the inclusion of the names of ancient saints who acted in Central and Western Europe before 1054 in the menology. In all, the names of more than fifteen saints who acted in western countries have been included in the menology, among them Saint Patricius, the enlightener of Ireland, better known among our country's believers as Saint Patrick," Vladimir Legoyda, the chairman of the Synodal Department for Church, Society and Media Relations, said Interfax-Religion.

The list of saints was compiled based on information on their veneration by Orthodox believers in Western European dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church and also based on the tradition of their veneration by other local Orthodox Churches, he said.

"Among the factors taken into consideration were the impeccability with which they professed the Orthodox faith, the circumstances of glorification, and the absence of the saint's name among those mentioned in polemical works dealing with the struggle against the Eastern Church and eastern rite," Legoyda said.

Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated annually in Western countries on March 17, the day of St. Patrick's earthly death.