Thursday, February 14, 2019

OCU delegation: Nobody shut the door on us at Mt. Athos

(ROMFEA) - Metropolitan Pavlos of Odessa of the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine was very impressed after his returning from Mount Athos, where he paid a visit, accompanied by 7 priests of the Metropolitan of Odessa.

The Ukrainian delegation visited 16 Monasteries while in two of them they co-officiated with the Brotherhood.

“Nobody shut the door upon us! All the rumors were inaccurate and propaganda,” said f. Valerios, priest of the Holy Metropolis.

Regarding the visit to Saint Panteleimon Monastery, they stated that they were let to get in the Monastery, stressing that they did not have the opportunity to worship the relics of Saint Panteleimon because they had been removed in the morning.”

Both the Metropolitan and the clergy were excited about their pilgrimage, while they underlined that after so many years of isolation, they would make other trips to other local Churches.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Wheel asks "What Dialogue Means"

(Wheel) - Unless one is particularly interested in the politics of North American Christianity, it is easy not to know about the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Founded in 2009, the ACNA is a schismatic group within the global Anglican Communion created by former members of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada (the official provinces of the Anglican Communion in North America). The vast majority of ACNAs members, particularly among the clergy, broke with the Anglican Communion because of the main bodies decisions to ordain women (though this subject is treated in a variety of ways by ACNA dioceses) and extend full sacramental inclusion to LGBT people. Not quite accurate. Many priestesses went to ACNA as well. It was a point of contention immediately and mentioned by Met. Jonah as soon as he spoke with those people at their first meeting. I was there and it was not received warmly. There were other issues as well, like the removal of the final protections for traditionally-minded parishes who used to be able opt out of falling under liberal or female bishops, what looked to be forthcoming compulsion for blessing same-sex unions, etc. Basically the last remnants of orthodoxy.

For three days last month, culminating on the Feast Day of the Three Hierarchs, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) hosted a dialogue at its flagship seminary, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, between the OCA and the ACNA. To be clear, before we go any further, there is an ongoing official dialogue between global Orthodoxy and the Anglican Communion that began in 1973 and continues to this day. There is no doubt that Orthodoxy acknowledges the Anglican Communion and has continued contact through the liberalizing of Anglican practice. None of this stopped St. Vladimir’s from inviting the ACNA onto campus.

While it would seem unadvisable to encourage schism anywhere within the greater Christian body at anytime, the choice seems particularly hypocritical at the moment. The OCA has been resolute in its support of the Moscow Patriarchate’s position in Ukraine and has announced its ongoing support for Metropolitan Onufry as the rightful hierarch of Ukraine, though stopping short of breaking communion with Constantinople. This is to say, the OCA is simultaneously condemning Orthodox bishops in Ukraine under the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople (with whom it remains in communion) as “schismatics” while entertaining clearly schismatic Anglicans in Yonkers. Ostensibly, this has all happened in the name of Christian unity. However, a closer look might lead one to believe that one or both of these decisions is founded not from a genuine concern that “brothers dwell together in unity,” but instead on cynical political motives. Or, perhaps worse these decisions could be founded upon a desire to be united with those who would push a global political agenda based upon narrow prejudice and decidedly un-Christian bigotry. There's a lot of backhanded commentary here. It might be just as fair to say that the OCA is trying to save what people it can as they abandon the Church of England ship. While some seem content to tread water or eat the last of the cucumber sandwiches while the barque bubbles its way into the briny depths, the OCA is obliged to throw life preservers to those swimming their direction. Orthodox ecclesiology is rather clear here - there's the Church and everything else. Do we really care in Orthodoxy if someone graduated from Nashotah House or Trinity?

Over the past decade, scholars and journalists have discussed the emergence of a “traditionalists” Christian network. There exists directed and concrete efforts to unite arch-conservative Christians across national and denominational lines against perceptive civilizational threats, specifically Islam, feminism, multiculturalism and LGBT rights. It is an informal, yet growingly powerful group in which Orthodoxy, particularly the Moscow Patriarchate (you can almost hear the ominous organ music playing), has played an increasing role. And whatever one thinks of the “threats” which have been identified, the goals of this group (whatever they may be in practical terms) deserve scrutiny. This is particularly true since key figures in this movement, including Steve Bannon and Franklin Graham, have expressed both political and theological opinions that are at complete odds with the Orthodox tradition, regardless of how one feels about the Culture Wars. This seems to be a very Fordham anti-fundamentalist argument: Traditionalists are being oppositional and hurting people and so we need to listen for all their secret dog whistles and steal their secret decoder rings lest their "bigotry" spread. Being empathetic (read: permissive) and adaptable (read: willing to tear out certain beliefs as simple-minded anachronisms) is more important than holding some imaginary line beyond which Orthodoxy goes the way of the Anglican Dodo bird.

Moreover, it is worth asking why the OCA has chosen to side so openly with the most socially and politically conservative faction within both ecclesiastical conflicts. Not to mention the faction in both conflicts with has received the greatest sympathy from the American Evangelical movement. The answer is pretty simple. Orthodoxy is conservative - it attempts to hold onto the teachings of Christ and safeguard His body the Church. You don't do that with liturgical dancers, pop theories from Cosmo, and a new Bible translation for every clutch of people with a wayward Facebook group.

It is impossible to look at the situation and not feel a hint of the growing “Evangelical-ization” of many corners of American Orthodoxy. The OCA and the Antiochian Archdiocese have been the center of this shift (largely for the fairly banal reason of language--at least initially), but no American jurisdiction is immune. And it is a sad thing for Orthodoxy in America. It is a devil’s bargain in which we trade away our tradition in order to gain inconsistent allies against imagined enemies. Frequently, it is a deal in which we join the army of Caesar against the most vulnerable. It is a dimming of the light of Orthodoxy in America and in the world. There's no substance here. Just invective. Given the birth rates of Orthodox in the United States, short of putting fertility drugs in the parish halls' drinking fountain water supply we must evangelize. And given Orthodoxy's rather radical dissimilarity to mainline Protestantism we need to find a conduit to get people in the door.

The next issue of The Wheel focuses on the life and work of Father Alexander Schmemann and Olivier Clément, both towering figures in modern Orthodox theology, who (along with the other members of the “Paris School”) represented hope for a robust, intellectually vibrant, and open Orthodox Christian theology and practice in the modern world. What does this mean? Father Schmemann is also one of the guiding figures of St. Vladimir’s. The idea that the exercise in trained closed-mindedness, of unity through fear, that was the OCA-ACNA dialogue happened in the “house that Father Alexander built” is difficult to even contemplate. But it is indicative of the direction of Orthodox faith, theology, and practice in America. It is a trend that should not go unchallenged. On the surface, a three day meeting with the ACNA might appear innocent enough, but it is not. It is part of a bigger picture. And that picture is, at the moment, not a pretty one. How silly. How very silly. This ends like a poorly written middle school paper on the perils of not recycling.


Katherine Kelaidis is the editor at The Wheel, and a Resident Scholar at the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago. She is a professional historian, trained at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of London.

How Moscow sees Mount Athos

(ROC) - The Jesus portal has published a commentary of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, on the attitudes prevalent on Holy Mount Athos ard to Constantinople’s creation of ‘a new church’ in Ukraine.

There is a contradictory information coming from Mouth Athos. On one hand, we have seen how two Athonite abbots came to Kiev for the ‘enthronement’ of a new head of the schism legalized by Constantinople, with Father Xenophon attending the event while the abbot of the Vatopedi monastery fell ill but managed to take a picture with the leaders of the schismatics. On the other hand, we can hear how the delegation of the Ukrainian schismatic structure was not let in the St. Panteleimon monastery while, after the visit of this delegation, seven monks have left the Vatopedi.

Evidently, the legalization of the Ukrainian schism by Patriarch Bartholomew has caused new divisions: one of them is being formed before our eyes in the very heart of the Patriarchate of Constantinople – on Holy Mount Athos.

Throughout centuries Athos has stood guard over the church truth and canonical order. And now it has to make a choice: to continue its ages-old vigil for the canonical truth or to obey the lawless decision of the Patriarch of Constantinople. This choice is to be made by Athonite monastic brotherhood as a whole and each monastery in particular.

The Athonites know Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine very well. Until recently, he was their frequent guest. Once, having come to Athos, I could hardly recognize him in the monks’ midst, as he stood modestly, wearing an ordinary black monastic klobuk sawn in the Greek fashion and wearing no pectoral icon. And many other hierarchs of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church used to come to Athos on a regular basis. And now Patriarch Bartholomew has declared their Church non-existent.

We all love Athos and used to come to it with joy until it was possible. But we love Athos not for its antiquity or architecture or beautiful landscapes, but, first of all, for the fact that Athos remains important as a pillar of the church truth for millions of Orthodox believers, for the feat of prayer for peace that the Athonite monks are performing, for the striking spiritual tranquillity with which everyone who comes to the Holy Mount comes in touch.

The spiritual atmosphere of Athos is unique. It has been created by the efforts of many generations of the religious. And many Athonite monks are right to fear that it may be destroyed if Athos becomes open to women, as European politicians have repeatedly proposed it. But isn’t communion with the schismatics fraught with even more dangers for the whole order of monastic life? Will not Athos turn into the salt which has lost its savour (Mt. 5:13), if the troubled waters of the schism flood this holy place?

I sincerely hope that in this situation, which has been suddenly dumped on it, Athos will make the only right choice – the one in favour of canonical order. And I thank all the Athonite monks and abbots who have already made this choice.

Holy Community of Mount Athos speaks on Ukraine

(ROMFEA) - “We remain on the side of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and we will not tolerate its humiliation,” the members of the Holy Community of Mount Athos said on Monday on the occasion of the recent developments in Ukraine and the granting of Autocephaly to the local Church.

At the meeting held behind closed doors and without any publicity, much was said about the issue that has sparked controversy among the leaders of the Orthodox Churches.

The Athonites emphasized that this particular issue should make them feel proud. “It has been clear in this case too,” they noted, “that Hellenism and the Ecumenical Patriarchate have the Primacy in Orthodoxy,” while they agreed that everyone should stand by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

They even agreed that it is preferable for the Holy Community to be silenced at this time so as not to create misinterpretations.

They suggested waiting for the conditions to mature more. “Besides,” they said, “we are not a Church, and we are not called upon to make a decision on recognition.”

“What is important is to maintain the unity of the Holy Monasteries and to send in every direction a clear message that no one will be allowed ‘to instrumentalize’ Mount Athos. Because Mount Athos concerns everyone,” all those present argued unanimously.

“We want to preserve the peace and unity of the Church,” they noted at the meeting. “However, as Athonites, we do not accept Hellenism and the Ecumenical Patriarchate to be humiliated by anyone.”

They also added that “The Holy Community has wisdom and experience so that Mount Athos will not be turned into a tool and a lever of pressure for purposes other than in the general interest.”

“In all national struggles,” they concluded, “monks preceded to protect Mount Athos, not to put it in the front. Friars martyred protecting the Garden of the Virgin Mary! So, are we going to do the opposite today?”

Our Journey to Pascha!

Possibly the silliest article ever written by Interfax

In a country where we let Scientologists and Mormons run around, we're going to "repress" the OCA? How silly.

Moscow, February 12 (Interfax) - The United States authorities may resort to discriminatory measures toward the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) for its support of Russia's stance on the infringement of the rights of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Sergey Gavrilov, the head of the Russian State Duma Committee on the Development of Civil Society, said on Tuesday.

"Speaking at the Patriarch's [Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia] jubilee ceremony several days ago, the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America declared support for Russia in the wake of the schism in Ukraine and the suppression of the rights of Ukrainian Orthodox Christians. And, as far as we know, after the delegation's return, the American authorities are preparing serious discriminatory measures in relation to American Orthodox Christians," Gavrilov said at a Duma meeting on Tuesday.

The Orthodox Church in America is an independent and "a purely American organization, which comprises over 100,000 active parishioners," he said.

While the U.S. formally proclaims that freedom of religion is inviolable, the U.S. authorities might be "preparing serious repressions against the Orthodox Church in America," Gavrilov said.

Archimandrite Luke (Murianka) to Bishop of Syracuse

My impression of him from our limited interactions is of a very kind and learned man. Axios!

Video starts out a bit choppy, but evens out a bit later.

(ROCOR) - The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church confirms the election of Archimandrite Luke (Murianka) as Bishop of Syracuse

On December 28, 2018, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church made the following decision regarding the election of Archimandrite Luke (Murianka) as Bishop of Syracuse of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia:


The report of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, President of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, interceding for the confirmation of the election of Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, and Rector of Holy Trinity Seminary, as Bishop of Syracuse, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese.


In accordance with the Act of Canonical Communion (par. 7), signed on May 17, 2007, hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia are elected by its Council of Bishops, or in instances delineated by the Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, by its Synod of Bishops. Such elections are confirmed on canonical grounds by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

On December 6, 2018, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia elected Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, and Rector of its seminary, as Bishop of Syracuse, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese. His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York sent an appeal to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia for confirmation of this election.


To confirm the election of Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, and Rector of its seminary, as Bishop of Syracuse, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Cyprus decides to talk about Ukraine some more

(Basilica) - The ecclesiastical issue of Ukraine was on the agenda of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus, Romfea News reports.

At today’s meeting of the Holy Synod, under the supervision of the Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, there was an exchange of views on the ecclesiastical issue of Ukraine.

It was decided to continue the debate in an extraordinary session on 18 February.

In addition, the Holy Synod was informed of its participation in the Inter-Orthodox, Inter-Christian and Inter-Religious dialogue by its appointed protopriests.

Then, there was a discussion on the decisions taken during that dialogue.

Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Update on Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe

(Orthodoxie) - On February 7, 2019, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France sent a letter to the priests of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe, in anticipation of the upcoming meeting of the General Assembly of their Diocesan Union, scheduled for 23 February.

Dear Fathers,

Paris, February 7, 2019

You all know about the decision made by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate concerning the withdrawal of the Tomos and the invitation for you to join the Metropolises of the countries where you are established. I know the important statutory role of your Extraordinary General Assembly, and I pray that God will send the Holy Spirit to fill your work with His grace and His love, so that you may find the best way to continue witnessing to Christ here, in Western Europe.

I am sending you this letter today to assure you I do not try by any means to dispossess anyone of anything. Rather, I am ready, within the limits of the metropolis for which I am responsible, to keep the following characteristics through a status of vicariate:

• the preservation of the existing association, which will continue to manage the property belonging to it, and to function according to its own statutes, probably with some necessary adaptations;

• the commemoration by His Excellency, Archbishop John, of His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew;

• the guarantee, in keeping with the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s constant care about it, of the preservation of your Russian liturgical and spiritual tradition, as well as of your work of Orthodox witness in Western societies.

I recently met with his Excellency, Archbishop John, and I was able to present these points to him in person. I am convinced that, through fruitful dialogue, we will be able to deal with the challenges facing us today. Know that I remain at the disposal of each of you, to answer your legitimate questions.

Looking forward to meeting you soon, dear Fathers. Please receive my best regards in the Lord.

+ Metropolitan Emmanuel of France

Mary, Mother of God, pray to God for us!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Our part in the lives of our brothers

(Basilica) - ‘We label those around us according to what exists in our soul, depending on the frustrations living inside us, but God looks at the heart,’ Bishop Ignatie of Husi said on Sunday.

‘We are very cruel, we judge very harshly. Christ always rejoices over the return of a sinner and stands by him when he decides to return,’ His Grace noted in his homily delivered Feb. 3.

His Grace Bishop Ignatie celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St Thomas Church in Husi, where he told the believers about God’s unceasing help offered to those who follow the path of change and stop speaking ill of our neighbour.

‘When God observes our change, the decision made in our inner forum, in the face of our own consciousness, He always comes and enters the habitation of our heart and brings joy.’

‘Always, no matter how many things we hear about someone, may our first thought be: Lord, change this man! Vouchsafe me not to judge him, to put a label on him,’ said the Bishop of Husi.

Bishop Ignatie offered suggestions on how we can help those around us who we consider affected by different passions.

‘God has called us to pray for those who lead a reprobate life.’

‘Let us be firm in the face of sin, but at the same time, if you are a true Christian, you will pray for that person. Your inner impulse will be to ask God to change them, to give them a thought of correction.’

‘You will help if you pray for them. The grace of your prayer will go into the heart of that person, and will work.’

During the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Ignatie ordained Dănuţ Bejan to the Diaconate.

Liturgy now translated into Urdu

(Pravmir) - With the blessing of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Fr. Paul Sushil, priest of the Russian Orthodox Church in Pakistan (Moscow Patriarchate), would like to share that they have completed the First translation of Divine Liturgy according to St. John Chrysostom into native Language URDU . This book has been translated from Church Slavonic and English texts. It is the first most accurate translation which took about 2 years to complete.

The texts that were available before were translated by Google translator. After complete research Fr. Paul and people who helped him came to the decision that the previous books lacked theology and thus, had no essence. Therefore, it was decided to make a new, more accurate translation.

Before beginning his translation, Fr. Paul graduated from the Tomsk Theological Seminary in 2017. Currently, there are two parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in Pakistan: in Islamabad and Lahore. Fr. Paul is the only priest there.

The translated book was proofread by a theology teacher and Urdu experts as well.
The book will soon be printed and available to people.

Translated by: Fr. Paul Sushil and Matushka (presbytera) Elizabeth.
Proofread by: Mark Shafiq, Raphael Anjum, Esther Parveen

The Super Bowl commercial formulation of equality

We aren't robots composed of software routines that will eventually get the fullness of humanity "right." From the very beginning, we were distinct, interrelated beings - "He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created."

Female empowerment according to Super Bowl commercials is women doing things men do. Raise your hand if you think the female body was meant to experience full contact football or frontline combat.

Women are amazing, powerful, and majestic creatures in the full flowering of their femininity. Equality of the sexes is found not in homogeneity but complementarity.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Czech Lands & Slovakia head calls for pan-Orthodox council

Metropolitan Rostislav gave very diplomatic and measured answers as he invariably does. The more responses I hear from primates around the world, the move I think we'll see fewer "sides" chosen and more calls for the conciliar process to do what the conciliar process is designed to do: resolve disputes. "Put a pin in it for now" meets "Let us sit down and discuss the matter further."

(ROC) - On 31 January 2019, after the meeting with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Primate of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia answered several questions from journalists.

– Your Beatitude, I would like to ask you the most burning question – about the ecclesiastical situation in Ukraine. I know that this issue was included in the agenda of a session of your Church’s Holy Synod. What decision will be taken – to support or not the newly established “Orthodox church of Ukraine”?

– The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia held its session the day before yesterday, and members of the Synod charged me with a duty to appeal to representatives of all the Local Orthodox Churches with a request to convene a pan-Orthodox meeting over the Ukrainian issue. Until all the developments in the Ukrainian church life are discussed and a conciliar decision is taken, our position will remain unchanged.

I would like to express support to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine. We are neighbours of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Having heard about the persecutions caused by what occurred last December, we have been praying and hoping for the solution to the problem created in the Ukrainian church life by the so-called “unification council” to be found in the near future.

– Do you think it is possible to restore communion between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate? How can the consensus be found?

It is not only possible; it is necessary to restore communion. I believe that without dialogue, meetings and discussion of all the problems related to Ukraine and its church life there can be no progress.

– There is another important aspect. As far as we know, many Ukrainian citizens with their families are moving to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, integrating themselves into local Orthodox communities. How do you receive them? Tell us about it.

– We accept them all. Yet, we are categorical in our attitude to the schism: there is no place for it in the church life. Any schism can only be healed through repentance and return to the canonical Church. We say it also to those coming from Ukraine; if they were somehow connected with the schismatic organizations in their country, we explain to them what the schism is and that they have to guard against it.