Friday, December 2, 2016

Bulgarian Church not mincing words in dismissing Crete

(Sofia Globe) - The Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, has formally rejected the Pan-Orthodox Council and its conclusions, it emerged from an announcement in Sofia on November 29.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church declined to attend the council, held in Crete in June, after its call for the Pan-Orthodox Council to be postponed was not heeded.

It was among four autocephalous Orthodox churches that refused to attend, along with the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Georgian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church.

The event in Crete was “neither Great, nor Pan, nor Pan-Orthodox,” the Holy Synod said in its November 29 decision.

The decision noted that the Crete council had been attended by “representatives of the media and guests from heterodox religious groups (Roman Catholic, Anglican, etc)”.

It noted that 33 people from among the bishops who had participated in the council had not signed the document on “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world”. Some of the bishops who had not signed included prominent Orthodox theologians, the Bulgarian church’s document said.

Bulgaria’s Holy Synod said that it had examined the documents from Crete after specialist translation by an authorised translator.

It said that it had noted that, in part, the documents that had been circulated before the Crete meeting had undergone some changes “but insignificant and insufficient” for ecumenical acceptance.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Copts clarify rules on women receiving the Eucharist

(LA Copts) - The following is a summary of a study dealing with women receiving Holy Communion presented by the Medical Subcommittee of the Holy Synod, which convened at the Synod’s request in March 2016 at Logos Center.

The Christian Church clearly teaches that sin alone defiles a believer and that men and women are temples of the Holy Spirit, which only leaves a person in the case of death in sin. Thus, a woman is a pure dwelling place of the Holy Spirit every day of her life.

However, because of piety and the proper care concerning the Holy Mysteries of the Church, and for the preservation of the received traditions, it is fitting for both men and women to refrain from Holy Communion during periods of physical unpreparedness, which include all kinds of bodily secretions such as nocturnal emissions of semen for men (i.e., “wet dreams”), the menstrual cycle, the period of postpartum bleeding, and normal marital relations, except in special cases at the advice of the spiritual father of confession and for pastoral reasons.

We further assert that any woman in these states is not forbidden at any time from all other spiritual activities, including personal prayer, reading the Holy Scripture, serving, and attending the Divine services.

We also emphasize that a child (male or female) can be baptized on any day after his/her birth.

On Liturgical Colors

From the blog Byzantine Frontier, a post on liturgical colors. This isn't a big, complex article but instead presents things simply and and succinctly.

I love the change of liturgical colors because it helps mark the seasons with a different focus so quickly and beautifully. But one in Orthodox churches we run into such variety about what color is used for what season or feast it seems confusing. Well, it is confusing, sort of anyway.

Before the fourteenth century no Christian church had assigned colors for seasons, fasts or feasts the way we understand them now. There was only a very broad guideline. In the Orthodox Church the colors are specified in what is called the Typikon, but in the Typikon there are only three colors called for: general, dark and bright. That’s as specific as it gets. General is taken to mean gold. Dark is often thought of a purple (but can be red, burgundy, or even black). Bright is white but historically could also simply mean one’s nicest or most beautiful set.

So where did all of these colors come from? In the early 1500s the Roman Church came upon a set pattern of colors and seasons. They used five colors: white, red, green, violet, and black — although Spain was allowed to use blue as well. The Orthodox Church saw the use of colors used in the West and adopted (and altered) that pattern. This is usually thought to have come through Russian and perhaps from Czar Peter the Great’s experience with the West. But the adoption in the Orthodox Church was not uniform and the old Typikon still stands. Even different areas of Russia have slightly different customs for liturgical colors...

Complete post here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sometimes I worry about our priorities

SVS hosts Conflict Resolution in the Family, & Parish Family

Note: The podcast episode embedded below the image is from a general talk about the Faithtree program and not from the SVS event itself.

(SVOTS) - How do you handle conflict in your family, and in your parish family?

That’s the question Michelle Moujaes, founder of FaithTree, addressed at the mid-November gathering of St. Juliana’s Society—our campus women’s fellowship.

Djakonitsa Adrienne Soper, wife of first-year Seminarian Dn. Larry Soper, remarked on Ms. Moujaes’s presentation about conflict resolution, saying, "I was moved by her ability to relay her experience and her wisdom as we ladies enter the world of being married—God-Willing—to future clergymen.

“Michelle's candid, yet, respectful way of lending advice, mixed with reality and humor, was refreshing to me,” continued Djakonitsa Adrienne. “Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in the fear of the future and of the unknown, and speakers like Michelle offer great opportunities to draw hope and strength as we wives prepare for our journey to serve Christ, the church and our husbands."

FaithTree is a ministry of St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Van Nuys, California. Its educational programs and resources aim to equip Orthodox Christian families to be able to live out their beliefs within their cultural context, by answering questions like: How do I forgive someone? How do I make good choices? How do I care for my body and eat properly? What do the Gospels say about finances and money?

While speaking about conflict resolution to our women’s fellowship, Mrs. Moujaes zeroed in on a crucial area that could either ensure or destroy harmony within a family unit or within a faith community.

“We were thrilled to have Michelle discuss this issue with us,” said Matushka Thekla Hatfield, coordinator of St. Juliana Society. “Her knowledge and training as a Social Worker, coupled with her dedicated struggle to live as a Christian, truly gave us all gems of wisdom that we can use as tools when encountering personal conflict.”

Liturgy of the Ordinary

A really intriguing book review from the blog Again and Again.

The people at InterVarsity Press surprised me with a small package in last week’s mail: a copy of Liturgy of the Ordinary, by Tish Harrison Warren. An attractive looking book that didn’t appear to be too complicated to read. What on earth compelled them to send this to me, I thought? Do I really want to read this? I have so many books by Orthodox writers to read, do I have time to spend reading this?

I came home late that evening – after a church board meeting of all things – and decided to leaf through it. The Foreword by Andy Crouch was good but not too convincing.

I decided to read the first chapter. It was late, but I continued on to the second and then read the first half of chapter three, decided to go to sleep….But then decided to just finish that chapter as well...

Complete post here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Assyrian Church of the East elects two bishops

(Assyrian Church) - The Holy Synod of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, headed by His Holiness Mar Gewargis Sliwa III convened in the city of Erbil, Iraq commencing on Monday the 7th November till Saturday 12th November 2016. The Synod opened the meeting with the offering of the Holy Oblation in St Youkhana Mamdnana Cathedral (St John the Baptist) in Ankawa, Erbil.

The Holy Synod elected two priests to be consecrated bishops in the year of 2017, namely;

Reverend Father Dr Tyari Jonsen for the Diocese of Erbil and Patriarchal Vicar and Reverend Father Ninos Elya for the Diocese of Melbourne (Australia) and temporarily New Zealand.


1- Reverend Father Dr Tyari Jonsen

Reverend Tyari was born in Erbil, Iraq in the year of 1978. He was ordained a deacon by Metropolitan His Beatitude Mar Gewaris (currently His Holiness) in Baghdad on the 23rd November 2002. He was ordained a priest once again by the Metropolitan at the time in Kirkuk’s St George’s Church on the 14th January 2007. Rev’d Tyari received his Bachelor Degree in Political Science from the University of Baghdad in 2007. Rev’d Tyari also received his Masters Degree in Theology 2011 from Alphonsian Academy in Rome, Italy. And finally, received his PhD from the same institute in 2016. He was appointed as the parish priest of Erbil’s cathedral on the 3rd May 2016.

2- Reverend Father Ninos Elya

Reverend Ninos was born in Baghdad, Iraq in the year 1985. He was ordained a deacon in 2002 by Metropolitan His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia AM in Sydney’s St Hurmizd’s Cathedral. He was ordained a priest in 2012 once again by His Beatitude Mar Meelis. Rev’d Ninos received his Bachelor Degree from the Australian Catholic University in 2013. He also received his Masters Degree from the same institute in 2015. Currently Rev’d Ninos is the chaplain of the Assyrian Schools (St Hurmizd Primary and St Narsai High Schools), concentrating on the Christian Studies of the schools. Also, he is currently the parish priest of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Sydney.

With God’s grace, Rev’d Fr Tyari will be consecrated bishop in Erbil (Iraq) on the 27th April 2017, and Rev’d Fr Ninos will be consecrated bishop in Melbourne (Australia) in June same year.

Appointed and festooned

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Assyrian Church of the East delegation meets with Pope

His Holiness Pope Francis received His Holiness Mar Gewargis III, Catholicos-Patriarch and a delegation of prelates and clergy of the Assyrian Church of the East on Thursday November 17th at the Vatican. Delegations from both churches are convened to discuss preparations for a common declaration on sacramental life in the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East.

Consecration of Bp. Irenei of Sacramento

(YouTube) - The Consecration of His Grace IRENEI (Steenberg) Bishop of Sacramento took place at Holy Virgin Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" on Sunday November 6, 2016. Participating in the consecration were His Eminence KYRILL Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, His Eminence PETER Archbishop of Chicago and Mid-America, His Grace THEODOSY Bishop of Seattle, His Grace NICHOLAI Bishop of Manhattan and His Grace JOHN Bishop of Naro-Fominsk.

OCAMPR "On Pain and Suffering" conference videos released

Complete Youtube series available here (AFR recordings available here).

(AFR) - With the theme “On Pain and Suffering” the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology, and Religion conference was held November 3-5, 2016 on the campus of Holy Cross/Hellenic College in Brookline, MA. OCAMPR exists to facilitate Orthodox Christian fellowship, dialogue and education of professionals in religion, psychology and medicine.

Patriarch Kirill on topics of the day

Monday, November 21, 2016

As ISIS retreats the churches reopen

(Reuters) - The bells have rung out after two years of silence in the Mar Korkeis church in the town of Bashiqa, some 15 km (10 miles) north of Mosul, Islamic State's last major city stronghold in Iraq.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters retook the town on Nov. 7, ending two years of rule by the hardline Sunni group which persecuted Christians and other minorities in the Nineveh plains, one of the world's oldest centres of Christianity.

Women trilled to celebrate the moment when a new crucifix was erected on the church, replacing one that was broken by the Islamic State militants.

The town is largely empty as the Peshmerga have not finished clearing explosives and mines left behind by the insurgents in their fight against U.S.-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces who launched an offensive on Mosul on Oct. 17.

"We want people to be patient and not to return here until we completely clear the area, as we want to ensure their safety," said Peshmerga Brigadier General Mahram Yasin.

After seizing the Nineveh plains in 2014, Islamic State issued an ultimatum to Christians: pay a tax, convert to Islam, or die by the sword. Most abandoned their homes and fled to the nearby autonomous Kurdish region.

The priest at the Mar Korkeis church, Father Afram, said he would prefer Bashiqa to remain under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and not revert to the Iraqi central government in Baghdad, about 400 km (250 miles) to the south.

"Of course we would prefer to be part of the KRG, because of our proximity to the area and because, for the past 13 years, the regional government has been looking after us," he said.

"Nobody from Baghdad came here to say hello, at all," since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, he said.

Christianity in northern Iraq dates back to the first century AD.

The number of Christians has fallen sharply during the violence which followed the 2003 toppling of Hussein, and Islamic State's takeover of Mosul two years ago saw the city purged of Christians for the first time in two millennia.

From a Mosul mosque in 2014 Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a "caliphate" spanning parts of Iraq and Syria. The recapture of Mosul would mark the effective defeat of the group in Iraq.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Patriarchate of Alexandria discusses deaconesses, more

(Patriarchate of Alexandria) - On 16th November 2016, the Holy Synod of the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa continued its deliberations presided over by His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa at the Patriarchal See.

Speakers at today’s meeting were His Eminence Alexandros Metropolitan of Nigeria, who discussed the issue of Fasting in African reality, as well as His Eminence Gregory Metropolitan of Cameroon who spoke on the institution of Deaconesses in the Missionary field. Both speakers presented their positions and proposals with Theological debate and a lengthy discussion was held on both.

As far as the issue of Fasting is concerned the decisions of the Synod will be announced to the clergy and the people in the spiritual jurisdiction of the Patriarchate shortly, by Patriarchal Encyclicals.

Regarding the issue of the institution of Deaconesses, it was decided to revive this and a tripartite committee of Hierarchs was appointed for a detailed consideration of the subject. They have decided to revive the discussion of the female diaconate (which is not nor ever has been comparable in liturgical participation to that of a deacon), so don't expect to see deaconesses walking around Africa next week. Much had been said about this in recent days from Greek news sources, but the reality is much less of a lightning strike than some had reported.

During the afternoon session, His Eminence Alexandros Metropolitan of Nigeria proposed the agenda of the Alexandrian Church for the next three years in relation to the social and cultural conditions prevailing in the African continent and the pastoral needs arising from them, as well as the revision of the Patriarchal Operating Regulations of the Synod of the Throne.

In conclusion the Holy Body, having engaged at length during these days with the historic event of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church in Crete, announces the following: «Evaluation of the Holy and Great Synod in Crete, by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria» The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria Presided over by His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, following extensive discussion announces the following:

1. We express glory and praise to the Triune God, who deemed us worthy to participate in the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church last June. The Synod was the seal on a long course of several decades amidst intense Theological consultations, agreements and disagreements. It was the vision of our enlightened and charismatic predecessors who prayed to witness the day of the its convening, but they were not fortunate. We express our deep gratitude to them and pray for the repose of their souls.

2. The Synod in Crete was an extremely important event for the course of the Orthodox Church as it gave testimony of unity, testimony of responsibility and anxiety for the contemporary world. It was, is and will remain as a great miracle “of meeting and coexisting for this” of the Orthodox Churches and we believe that this new experience will gradually be decoded and will yield new fruits in the Orthodox world. Blessed are they who will taste of this fruit!

3. It confirmed that conciliarity is the pre-eminent expression of the ecclesiological consciousness of the Orthodox Church and at the same time is a dynamic response to the ardent preachers of introversion, exclusivity, racial prejudice and fundamentalism. We believe that in the near future, at the Synods which God willing will follow, and imperfections and weaknesses of this Synod will be overcome.

4. We wholeheartedly thank the Most Holy President of the Great and Holy Synod, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, Their Beatitudes the Primates and all who worked tirelessly for the realization of the Synod amidst many adversities and challenges.

5. We consider as particularly important the concilliar consolidation of the ecclesiastical dispensation amidst various extremist and conservative positions, as opportunity is given to local churches to exercise their pastoral work in rfeal time and in the particular sites and conditions. However, with regret we found that, despite the prophetic voices which were heard in the Synod and those during the pre-Synodal conferences, timidity and reluctance to understand “deviations” from earlier settings of the life of the Church as accuracy and not as dispensation, although this would have been the true affirmation of the mystery of Christ’s incarnation today, in other words the living and salvific Revelation of God. The differing approaches to issues of life in the Church are not deviations for us from Orthodox truth, but adaptation to African reality.

6. The Church of Africa will continue to participate actively in all the official inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogues, despite whichever difficulties and problems which arise from time to time. Besides our participation in the WCC, we are upgrading our activity in the Pan-African Council of Churches. At every moment we should humbly submit our testimony of the Orthodox Faith, the fullness of the Orthodox revelation which our Church preserves. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we must become instruments of reconciliation and to cultivate the peaceful coexistence of people, respecting and defending their national, racial and religious diversity. Together with the other Churches and Religions we are called on to work towards combating every systemic injustice anything demonic, in whatever form it appears, which nullifies the lives of the critically injured and bleeding in our flock.

7. We feel that as a living and dynamic Church, we are emerging from within a growing and long-suffering world, we have a duty with courage and prophetic vision to formulate within ourselves the conditions for recruitment and the transformation of our world, and to place a proposition of hope, and life throughout it for all people, as well as resurrectional joy. We ask for the fervent prayers of the Body of our Church, clergy and laity, so that with the cooperation of everyone to build on the momentum of the Great Synod and to liberate those powers that will show the Church of Africa to be a prophetic presence, fearing the Lord and always open to the surprising action of the Most Holy Spirit”.

The deliberations of the Holy Synod in Alexandria will continue tomorrow, God willing.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Monomakhos reports unrest at Holy Cross

The original post is here. I've posted images of the PDF below. These are quite outrageous claims that will need to be investigated immediately for the welfare of the seminary alone, if not for the serious legal implications (e.g. providing alcohol to youth and sexual immorality). At the same time, a threat of a website going live to expose things next month is quite a thing to swing around. Dangerous times for all involved.