Friday, July 12, 2019

Notes from UGCC visit with Pope of Rome

Given that the unions (Brest, Uzhorod) that created the Unia were political actions and not religious ones and that the current belief is that Greek Catholics are not a "third way" but are understood to be "Orthodox in communion with Rome" by many of the faithful, I wonder why they need to continue to separate themselves from Orthodoxy at all. If you were to make a list of all the things the UGCC, Melkites, et al. share with the Orthodox and what they share with Rome, the list would be far longer on the Orthodox side.

Even as they declare themselves a bridge between East and West, the Eastern side considers Greek Catholicism to be the opposite - a conditio cum qua non - an impediment to further work on unity. The OCU is not subject to Moscow, which was a major historical obstacle. And today, if the OCU is only acknowledged by some in world Orthodoxy, the UGCC is accepted by none of it. But is a volatile OCU preferable to the seemingly benevolent hand of Rome?

I'm happy to hear from Eastern Catholics of all stripes on the matter.

(RISU) - The Pope's visit to Ukraine, the granting of the Patriarchate to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the beatification of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky became closer to realization after a recent meeting with the Pope. This belief was expressed by the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, His Beatitude Sviatoslav in an interview with the Italian media outlet ACI Stampa. The text of the interview was distributed by the Information Department of the UGCC.

"These two days (5-6 July. – ed.) were not intended to present ready-made decisions, considered and taken in advance in some Dicastery. These were days of study, analysis, thinking about further steps. We expect that in the near future there will be the fruits of these reflections, concrete decisions, the creation of certain structures and mechanisms that can help our Church to prosper in Ukraine and in the world," the head of the UGCC said.

"We have publicly invited the Pope to come to Ukraine," said the Primate. We repeated our invitation in an informal atmosphere when we met with the Holy Father during dinner at the house of St. Martha. The Pope told me, "I will think about it."

"We said to the Pope, "Today we are meeting with You and You are listening to us." And many of those who want to hear you and see you cannot be present here now. We are waiting for You in Ukraine so that You can touch the wounds of the war and help stop their bleeding." With such initiatives as "Pope for Ukraine", His Holiness Father Francis wanted to ease our suffering. However, we have the impression that we are working only to rectify the consequences of the war. And it is necessary to affect its causes. Therefore, when the Pope comes to Ukraine, it will be work to end the war," the Head of the Church added.

According to him, the issue of the Patriarchy of the UGCC was also considered during the meeting when they discussed the ecumenical dimension of the life of our Church.

"Patriarchate is a way of existence, not a reward. This is the development of mechanisms for the prosperity of our Church, as it increases our efficiency and pastoral work. Our Church, its development and flourishing is not a threat to our Orthodox brothers. We are not against anybody, but for their sake. This mental revolution is not yet complete. But we need new structures. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, every year a million of Ukrainians leave Ukraine, and we must provide pastoral support to these migrants," said His Beatitude Sviatoslav. This bit needs some context. The Ukrainian Greek Catholics consider their primate to be a patriarch. The Vatican considers him to be a "Major-Archbishop," which is a made up term put into place so as not to name a patriarch in opposition to the Orthodox primate for the same territory, but to acknowledge that he is something more than just an archbishop.

All this, in his opinion, testifies to the need for the establishment of a patriarchate: although the roots of the Church are in Ukraine, but the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is a global Church which goes beyond the borders of the geographical territory.

According to His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the righteous Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky was also touched upon during the meeting. "Metropolitan Sheptytsky was the first to understand the global dimension of our Church. At the time when he headed the UGCC, it had only three dioceses in Western Ukraine which at that time was under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, we have 34 dioceses around the world, and this is also thanks to Metropolitan Sheptytsky who was the first to make pastoral visits to his faithful in all corners of the globe. And he did everything necessary for them to have priests and bishops. He was the first to note the pastoral needs of creating structures for migrants. We live by the fruits of what Metropolitan Sheptytsky started," said the Head of the UGCC.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Have a Little Faith with Zach Anner

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

California tries to crack the seal on confessions

(GetReligion) - In this politically polarized world, there are issues that can drive a large wedge between people — including several that, one way or another, are tied to religion.

Immigration and abortion are two of the biggest in the Donald Trump era, issues that dominated the Supreme Court’s recently-completed term and the Democratic presidential primaries that are just underway. Then again, immigration and abortion are the issues that dominate news on the web and cable TV.

Religious freedom, an old-school liberal issue now largely taken up by conservatives, is often lost in mainstream news coverage. Lost in this coverage is an issue of such importance to Roman Catholics, that it may very well be the biggest fallout to come from years of clerical sex abuse when it comes to how it affects the law.

The California State Senate, controlled by Democrats, recently passed a bill (the first of its kind in the United States) that would compel a priest — violating centuries of Catholic law and tradition — to disclose to civil authorities any information learned in the confessional if it involves the sexual abuse of a minor committed by another priest or lay worker. The bill was supposed to head to the State Assembly later this summer, where Democrats hold a majority...
Complete article here.

On the fraught exarchate in Europe

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Archbishop Ioann of Chariopoulis (Jeanne Rennetau), exarch of European Russians, has convened an assembly of the archdiocese's clergy for 7 September, in order to definitively resolve the fate of this particular Orthodox community. The exarchate was formed among the emigrants who fled from Russia after the 1917 revolution, creating their own European ecclesiastical structure, based in Paris, under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Due to the dramatic split between Moscow and Constantinople, following the establishment of the autocephalous Church of Ukraine, Patriarch Bartholomew (Archontonis) dissolved the exarchate last December, forcing the Russians to sell their churches to the Greeks. On February 23 of this year, the assembly of Russian priests in Paris voted 93% for the preservation of the archdiocese, effectively refusing the decree of dissolution issued by Constantinople. Some parishes in Italy and France have decided independently to join the Russian Church abroad (Zarubezhnaja) and the Moscow Patriarchate, the others are still considering their options.

Archbishop Ioann wants an autonomous solution, a kind of "autocephaly" of European Russians, which would hardly be recognized by other Orthodox. His intention is based on the particular "democratic" nature of this Church, daughter of the 1917 Moscow Council, in which a very liberal reform of the dioceses and parishes was discussed, then not applied because of the revolution.

At the same time, the lack of support from Constantinople has created practical and administrative problems that are difficult to solve, starting with the management of the cathedral and the exarchate buildings of Rue Darue in Paris. The Moscow Patriarchate, in turn, presses on the Russian European clergy for a return to the Russian "Mother Church", promising to take on the debts and needs of the communities scattered in over ten countries of Western Europe.

Immediately after the dissolution of the Exarchate by Constantinople, Moscow set up its own Exarchate in Paris for Western Europe, entrusted last December to Metropolitan Ioann (Roscin), a man very close to Patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev).

Last month Kirill himself replaced Ioann, who had shown himself too accommodating, with Metropolitan Antonij (Sevrjuk), who occupied the Vienna office, to whom the same Ioann was sent.

Antonij, appointed bishop of the Russians in Italy in Rome in 2015 at the age of 29, was the secretary of the patriarch, and applies his directives with a much more resolute form, almost threatening the European Russians with punitive measures, if they do not accept reunification with Moscow.

This is why Ioann of Chariopoulis decided, after weeks of internal controversy in the exarchate, to make one last attempt to submit the possible autonomy of his Church to the democratic vote , to save, as he writes, "an exclusive right in our canonical world, involving everyone in participation and lived communion".

If the vote does not achieve the outcome he hoped for, the Patriarchate of Moscow will finally be able to reunite all the parts of its Church, which had been dispersed a century ago in Europe and in other parts of the world.

Montenegro church situation not improving

(Interfax) - The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church expresses profound concern over the worsening situation with the dioceses of the Serbian Patriarchate in the territory of Montenegro where during several years the unity of Orthodoxy has been suffering from the schismatic actions of the so called Montenegrin Orthodox Church.

An alarming trend of increasing the authorities’ pressure on the canonical clerics and laypersons has emerged in Montenegro. The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church held on May 9-18, 2019, stated: “there are attempts to violently take away our holy sites in favour of the canonically and realistically non-existent ‘Montenegrin Orthodox Church’ and threats to destroy” certain places of prayerful veneration. President of Montenegro Milo Ðukanović at the party meeting in Nikšic on June 8, 2019, voiced an intention to “restore the Montenegrin Autocephalous Church.”

The draft law on freedom of religion or beliefs and legal status of religious communities published by the government of Montenegro in May 2019 gives rise to anxiety. The draft contains several discriminatory measures, for instance, requisition to the title of the state of a part of the Serbian Patriarchate’s property, including church buildings and monasteries. The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church characterized this draft law as “anti-European and anti-civilized,” aimed at the discrimination against the Serbian Patriarchate’s dioceses in the territory of Montenegro and “direct interference into internal Church affairs.”

Serious remarks on certain provisions of the draft law were made by the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission).

We take the recent initiatives of the Montenegrin authorities with concern and call upon them to stop discrimination and frustration of the unity of the Serbian Orthodox Church. We raise our voice in her defense while seeing the centuries-old historical foundation, on which the Montenegrin Orthodox culture and statehood have been built, in the spiritual tradition tracing its origin to St. Sava.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church expresses brotherly support to the bishops, clerics and all faithful of the Serbian Patriarchate in Montenegro who, fulfilling the precepts of the great saints having shone forth in this land: Sts. Sava of Serbia, Basil of Ostrog, Peter of Cetinje and hieromartyr Joanicus of Montenegro and the Coast, remain faithful to the truth of Holy Orthodoxy despite the hardships of oppression.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Monday, July 8, 2019

In the US, we would call this a suicide note

Moscow, July 8 (Interfax) - Women's mental capabilities are, as a rule, lower than men's, but they are more selfless than men, Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov, the head of the patriarch's commission on family issues and protection of mothers and children, said.

"Women aren't as smart. Of course, there are women like Marie Curie, but they are still rare," the priest said on Radonezh radio.

At the same time, women are more patient and have more love, he said. "The care women give to children cannot be compared to what a man can do. Everything a woman does is a heroic deed [...] it's exactly what the Lord expects from every person; in the first place, naturally, from men, but they evade it," Father Dimitry said.

To illustrate his words, he mentioned a situation from his parish life. "A woman comes to church, she brings her husband along, and he's just standing there like the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, blinking, and can't say anything. She explains everything more or less reasonably, but he can't say a word," the priest said.

Romanian-Romani Liturgy celebrated in Cluj

(Basilica) - Marking this year’s International Romani Day, His Eminence Metropolitan Andrei of Cluj presided over a Romanian-Romani bilingual Divine Liturgy at an Orthodox parish led by a Roma priest in Turda.

The Orthodox Archdiocese of Cluj includes two missionary parishes dedicated to Roma people, one in Pata Rât and the other in Turda.

The 27-year old priest Marin Trandafir Roz who belongs to the Roma community is the first Roma priest to be ordained in the Cluj County.

It is interesting to note that Metropolitan Andrei Andreicut previously served as a parish priest at the Nativity of St john the Baptist parish in Turda-Fabrici for several years (1978-1985), thus showing a high appreciation for the Roma priest by his appointment to this parochial community.

The Orthodox Archdiocese of Vad, Feleac and Cluj constantly helps the Romani communities in Pata Rât, Turda, Cluj and Bistrița-Năsăud, having a number of 50 social projects and programs dedicated to Roma people.

The bilingual Divine Liturgy took place on April 6, two days before the International Romani Day.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Pope of Rome calls UGCC hierarchs to Rome

(RISU) - The Pope has invited the Metropolitans of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and the Permanent Synod to a meeting that will take place in Rome on July 5 and 6, 2019. His Beatitude Sviatoslav shares his expectations of the upcoming meeting.

According to the Head of the UGCC, since the Ukrainian Orthodox Church launched new processes, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was subject to a very powerful attack on the part of Russia. They alleged that the UGCC acted deliberately to separate Orthodox Ukraine from the Russian Orthodox Church and, consequently, to bring it to the union.

"I asked the Holy Father for his support. Therefore, Pope Francis will convene a meeting in order to demonstrate on the part of the Vatican that there is no condemnation of the UGCC, no one crosses out neither our existence nor our future. Why? For such a meeting has three objectives: support, consolidation and development,” says His Beatitude Sviatoslav.

He notes that now it is perhaps hard to find in Ukraine a community to explain to the Orthodox the meaning of the service of the Pope, as our Church does. "I have written a separate epistle "Our St Sofia” to explain who we are as Greek Catholics, what our identity in the context of the unifying movements in Orthodoxy is. We have also translated the message into English,” says the Head of the UGCC.

The spiritual leader of the Greek Catholics is confident that meeting with the Holy Father is a unique chance for the development of his Church, and is also a good news for Ukraine. “We have always been paying attention that they often talk about us, but in our absence. I hope this meeting will put an end to this. Why? We are called specifically to speak on our behalf - to speak in modern new realities (in particular, social, political and economic), in order to work out a strategy with us, that is, certain steps and the vision of the Apostolic Capital towards Ukraine,” says the head of the UGCC. “It seems to me that the Holy Father and his collaborators become more aware every time that the key to understanding the state of affairs in Ukraine, that is, the social and church processes, is the UGCC.”

His Beatitude Sviatoslav thinks it is too early to talk about what the next steps may be. “However, we hope that this highest level of attention to our Church, which is now manifested, will have its good consequences,” the Head of the UGCC stresses.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Abbot Tryphon on keeping children in the Church

As always, the blue sections are my own commentary (and in the case of this post, the image is mine as well).

(The Morning Offering) - When parishes are forced to close, it is not just because the children have moved away, and the old folks have died off. The problem is much greater than this. With increased numbers of immigrants joining parishes, often with the expressed desire to preserve their Russian identity, we can easily fall prey to believing our churches are on solid ground, and will thrive into the next generations. In our collective joy at seeing our churches packed for Sunday Liturgies, we forget about previous influxes of immigrants, whose children, upon growing into adulthood, became so Americanized that they saw the Orthodox Faith as relevant only for their parents and grandparents, but meaningless to themselves. It's really a trapeze act of flying through the air out of the hands of one person into the hands of another. How do you take Orthodoxy so tied into the cultural context of your elders and carry it into your new American identity? My answer is to be Orthodox because of Christ and not because of a heartstrung connection to the past. Sentimental feelings do not hold people, Christ however is an inexhaustible spring that you keep coming back to. Is the focus of coming to church to reconnect socially, or speak with God. If the answer is primarily the former, you will find it difficult to hear God's words at all.

The remedy, I believe, in forestalling another great exodus of our youth, is to wage a concerted effort to help our youth embrace Orthodoxy as their own. This means they must be able to understand the services, and since they are unlikely to learn Church Slavonic, or liturgical Greek, we must admit that it is time to serve in English. The Ancient Church saw the language of the people as the vehicle for teaching the faith, and passing Orthodoxy on to the next generations. Saints Cyril and Methodius helped to Slavic people receive Orthodoxy by translating the services into a language the people understood. Thus the Greek language did not remain the liturgical language of the newly illumined people of the Slavic lands. How many of our churches are actually performing services entirely in those languages? Is the impediment of some Greek or Slavonic so daunting that it is insurmountable for our youth? I think the disconnect has more to do with parents not instructing their children in the faith at home than it does with language. A child who is engaged with his faith at home is going to find resonance with it in church. A child who hears nothing about God or the saints and never sees his parents pray, will see no connection between getting up early on Sunday and the rest of his life. Fix that problem and a few litanies in a foreign language won't even be noticeable.

I believe Church Slavonic has it’s place, for as a common language it can be a point of unity, especially when used during joint services among Slavic peoples from different countries. Church Slavonic, as well as Liturgical Greek, are both lovely languages, and have their place in the life of the Church. However, that most lay people do not understand these languages (beyond the parts that are used during each service), should be a wakeup call. If the changeable parts of the service are not understood by life-long Orthodox faithful, what does this mean for our children, and for visitors who might be looking into Orthodoxy? The romantic attachment to an ancient language is just not sufficient if we want the Faith to be delivered to both the heart and the mind, and become the mainstay of our life. The Roman Catholics discovered this truth when they dumped Latin as the normal language for Mass, in favor of the vernacular, and the move has worked very well in those places where the Mass is served with the dignity and tradition of the ancient Western Rite. It served the Roman Church very poorly. The "rupture" (as they call it) of radically reformatting the mass and throwing out Latin has devastated the Catholic Church. The baby went out with the bath water and they know not how to find him again.

The early missionaries knew the importance of teaching the faith so as to accommodate the local population, and allow newly converted people to really know the Orthodox Faith. Just as was the case when Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Orthodoxy to the people of Kievan Rus, our children must be able to understand the services, and be taught the faith. Our children must understand why we do the things we do, why we fast, and why we worship the way we have worshiped for almost two thousand years. If these changes are not implemented by the local parishes, our youth will see Orthodoxy as nothing more than a quaint religion of a bygone age, meaningless to their own lives as modern Americans, and they will depart from the faith. Again, we have to equip parents to make this connection and reinforce it in our churches. Language is important, but you have to keep children at church into adulthood for them to press for this change. In most parishes that are holding onto liturgical languages it is influential (read: wealthy and outspoken) parishioners who adjure the parish to changing nothing.

Since a priest is allowed to celebrate only one Liturgy per day, the introduction of English Liturgies could be gradually introduced, with one Sunday given over to English, and the second Sunday to Church Slavonic. Another option, in the beginning, might be to balance the service by using both English and Slavonic in equal amounts. This is an uphill battle without the parish and the bishop requesting it. Priests are often seen as contract labor that shouldn't go "messing about with what we have always done here."

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Irresolute resolve resorbs resonant resolution

(Orthodoxy Today) - As publicly confirmed by a senior OCA priest and privately confirmed by other OCA priests, at the Nineteenth All-American Council in July 2018, a Resolution aimed at asking the bishops to correct errant clergy and lay persons who promote false teaching on same-sex relationships was rejected by the OCA Synod of Bishops and not permitted to be voted on by the assembly. Concerned that publications such as The Wheel were perceived to be given a tacit blessing by the hierarchy, senior priests urged the bishops, through the resolution, to send an unambiguous message that false teaching will not be tolerated.

The OCA Synod rejected the resolution citing that it was not appropriate for the All-American Council to “give direction” to the Synod. The OCA bishops also did not provide any feedback to revise or edit the priests’ statement to make it more acceptable to them. The answer of the resolution’s sponsors was that the resolution was a plea, not a demand. As a result, publications such as The Wheel continue to disseminate false teaching without episcopal correction.

Here is the Resolution.

Resolution to Petition the Holy Synod to Correct Errant Clergy and Lay Persons on Issues of Same-Sex Erotic Relationships

WHEREAS, there are Orthodox magazines, websites, and articles which seek to theologically normalize same-sex erotic relationships, contradicting the long-held Tradition of the Orthodox Christian faith, and

WHEREAS, the Holy Synod has repeatedly and consistently upheld past statements of the Orthodox Church in America which affirm that sexual relationships are blessed only within the context of a marriage between one man and one woman, and which calls those who have same-sex attractions, motivated by love and out of sincere care for their souls, to a life of steadfast chastity, and

WHEREAS, there are clergy, theologians, teachers, and lay persons within the Orthodox Church in America who have boldly contradicted those teachings which affirm traditional marriage by publishing magazines, websites, and articles challenging those views, attempting to create a theological framework which normalizes same-sex erotic relationships, and

WHEREAS, St Paul writes that such teachings will “increase to more ungodliness”, and that such a “message will spread like cancer” (2 Tim 2:16), misleading the faithful and inquirers seeking the truth, now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Nineteenth All-American Council respectfully petitions the members of the Holy Synod to, without hesitation, reprove and correct such clergy, theologians, teachers, and lay persons who dare to challenge the teaching of the Orthodox Church and the authority of her hierarchs by not upholding the traditional teachings on marriage and human sexuality.

Rare word #21: cerement

Cerement - Waxed wrappings for the dead; loosely, grave-clothes generally. Also: cerecloth; winding-sheet, shroud. The verb form means the act of wrapping in same.

Etymologically we get it from "cirer" to wax and "cere" to wrap (a corpse) in a waxed cloth or shroud.

In pronunciation it is "seer-muh nt" and not like "ser-uh-" as you would find in ceremony.

The Protection of the Mother of God is one of the most beloved feast days on the Orthodox calendar among the Slavic peoples, commemorated on October 1. The feast is celebrated additionally on October 28 in the Greek tradition. It is also known as the feast of the Virgin Mary's Cerement. The Deposition (or Placement) of the Venerable Robe of the Most Holy Mother of God at Blachernae is celebrated on July 2nd.

In most Slavic languages the word "cerement" has a dual meaning of "veil" and "protection." The Russian word Pokrov (Покров), like the Greek Skepi (Σκέπη), has a complex meaning. First of all, it refers to a cloak or shroud, but it also means protection or intercession. For this reason, the name of the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God is variously translated as the Veil of Our Lady, the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos, the Protection of the Theotokos, or the Intercession of the Theotokos.

(GOARCH) - During the reign of Leo the Great (457-474) two patricians and brethren on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land lodged with an old widow, a Christian of Jewish descent. Seeing the many miracles wrought at a small shrine in her house, they pressed her until she revealed to them that she had raiment of the most holy Theotokos kept in a small coffer.

Our Lady had had two virgins in her lifetime who attended upon her; before her holy dormition, she gave each of them one of her divine garments as a blessing. This old widow was of the family of one of those two virgins, and it had come through the generations into her hands.

With the permission of God, that this holy relic might be had for the profit of many, the two men took the garment by stealth and brought it to Blachernae near Constantinople, and building a church in honor of the Apostles Peter and Mark, they secretly enshrined the garment therein. But here again, because of the multitude of miracles that were worked, it became known to the Emperor Leo, and a magnificent church was built, as some say, by that same Leo, but according to others, by his predecessors Marcian and Pulcheria, and enlarged by Leo when the holy raiment was found.

The Emperor Justin the Younger completed the church, which the Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes raised up immediately again after it had burned in 1070. It burned again in 1434, and from that time it remained a small house of prayer together with the renowned holy spring.

After the seventh century, the name Blachernae was given to other churches and monasteries by their pious founders out of reverence for this famous church in Constantinople. In this church John Catacuzene was crowned in 1345; also, the Council against Acindynus, the follower of Barlaam, was convoked here (see the Second Sunday of the Great Fast).

Kontakion of Robe of the Theotokos
Fourth Tone

O godly shelter that dost cover all mankind, the sacred robe that covered thy sacred body hast thou bestowed on all the faithful graciously, O pure Virgin, as a robe of divine incorruption. As we celebrate with love its august deposition, we cry to thee with fear, O graced of God: Rejoice, O modest one, boast of the Christian race.

Flag waving hierarchs not Athonite community's cup of tea

(Romfea) - The Holy Community of Mount Athos has sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, George Katrougalos, with which it expressed its strong protest regarding the visit of an Hierarch of the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine.

Specifically, the Holy Community communicates to the Minister of Foreign Affairs a article, which concerned a visit by Metropolitan Mikhail of Lutsk and Volyn to Mount Athos.

The Holy Community describes the action of the Metropolitan and his escort as provocative, for they were holding Ukrainian flags while they chanted the National Anthem of Ukraine.

“The action of this Metropolitan, following his visit to the Holy Epistasis, constitutes a violation of Article 184 of the Charter of Mount Athos, on the basis of which ‘any moral, religious, ecclesiastical, social, nationalist and any other kind of proselytizing and propagandistic action in Mount Athos’ is absolutely forbidden and punished with the expulsion penalty”, as the Holy Community of Mount Athos states in its letter.

Also, the Athonites emphasize: “This action is incompatible with the hesychastic, spiritual and sacred character of our Holy Land and its millennial tradition, it creates a dangerous precedent for the repetition of similar actions on either side and for nationalist conflicts in it, and is totally contrary to the Charter of the Mount Athos.”

Finally, the Holy Community asks the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs to take the necessary measures to prevent such acts in the future, so that the character of the Holy Mountain may remain untouched.

Pope of Rome gives relics of Apostle Peter to Constantinople

(EP) - The delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which participated in the celebration of the throne feast of the Church of Rome on 29 June 2019, received from Pope Francis an unexpected and valuable gift: a reliquary with the holy relics of Saint Peter the Apostle, which were kept in the private chapel of the Pope at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. These are nine fragments of Saint Peter’s bones, which, after important archaeological excavations, have been confirmed to be authentic. At the request of Pope Paul VI in 1968, these fragments have been separated from the rest of the relics and placed in a bronze reliquary with the inscription: “Of the bones found in the Vatican Basilica belonging to the holy Apostle Peter”. These relics were exhibited in the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican only once, on 24 November, 2013, on the occasion of the closing of the Holy Year of Faith. The rest of the relics of the Apostle are kept under the main altar of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Archbishop Job of Telmessos, Co-Chairman of the Mixed International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, who headed the official delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, has reported about this event. On 29 June, 2019, after the Papal Mass in the Basilica of St. Peter, His Holiness Pope Francis invited him to descend to the tomb of St. Peter under the main altar. They prayed together and the Pope then told him that he had “a gift for the Church of Constantinople”, not indicating what he intended, and invited him to accompany him to the Apostolic Palace. In the private chapel of the popes, he took the reliquary into his hands and handed it to Archbishop Job.

“When we entered the chapel,” said Archbishop Job, “the Pope Francis explained to me that Pope Paul VI wanted to keep a part of the relics of St. Peter from the Vatican Basilica in his private chapel. Further, Pope Francis told him that during the prayer the previous evening he had this thought: “I no longer live in the Apostolic Palace, I never use this chapel, I never serve the Holy Mass here, and we have St. Peter’s relics in the basilica itself, so it will be better if they will be kept in Constantinople. This is my gift to the Church of Constantinople. Please take this reliquary and give it to my brother Patriarch Bartholomew. This gift is not from me, it is a gift from God.” Archbishop Job admitted that this decision of Pope Francis was a surprise to everyone: “This is an extraordinary and unexpected event that we did not expect. The relics of the Holy Apostle Peter were always kept in Rome where they were the purpose of pilgrimages. The Orthodox Church has never asked for them since they never belonged to the Church of Constantinople. This time, we do not speak of a return of relics to their original place. This time, the relics are being presented as a gift. This prophetic gesture is another huge step on the path to concrete unity,” stressed Archbishop Job of Telmessos.

Archbishop Job immediately reported the event to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who expressed his immense joy. The transfer of the relics of the Holy Apostle Peter from Rome to Constantinople were accompanied by Monsignor Andrea Palmieri, deputy secretary of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of Christian unity. They were exposed to the veneration of the faithful during the solemn Divine Liturgy presided by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the occasion of the feast of the Holy Twelve Apostles, on 30 June, 2019, celebrated in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Feriköy, in the neighborhood of Şişli in Istanbul. After that, the reliquary will be kept at the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The first stage of archaeological excavations under the main altar of St. Peter’s basilica took place on the initiative of Pope Pius XII from 1939 to 1949. As a result, the place of burial of the Holy Apostle Peter was found, but his remains were not yet found. In 1952, scientists pursued a study led by Margherita Guardacci. The object of study was the wall, next to the monument built over the grave of St. Peter in the 2nd century. It was covered with many ancient graffiti with Christian symbols and mentioned the names of Jesus, Mary, Peter. One of the inscriptions, about 160 years old, in Greek, reported: “Petros eni”: “Peter is here”, probably pointing to the location of the relics. A small niche was found nearby where bones were found. The scientific analysis showed that the remains belong to a man who lived in the beginning of the first century, was of a solid body constitution and died at an advanced age. On them were found particles of earth, identical to that which is located under the gravestone monument, as well as fragments of purple fabric with golden thread — a testimony of the particular respect for the buried person. There were no feet found. This detail is very important, since St. Peter has been crucified with his head down with his feet cut off. The results of the research have allowed to state that the remains found under the basilica were those of St. Peter. This was officially declared by Pope Paul VI on 26 June, 1968. When scientists completed their work, most of the relics were left in the place where they were stored for centuries, in the small niche in the wall under the main altar of the basilica. Nine fragments where taken by Pope Paul VI who ordered to placed them in a bronze reliquary and stored in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace. This is precisely this reliquary that was given by Pope Francis to the Church of Constantinople.

Monday, July 1, 2019

A word on this blog

A few years back I posted this and again here. I think it's time for a reposting with a little further augmentation.

This is a blog. It is not a news outfit. No one pays me to post anything nor is there a foundation that sends me money by the word. If we look at this with a chronological and historical eye, it was my wife who thought with all my combing of Orthodox resources on the Internet that I should put what I find in one place online. It followed me from Texas, to seminary, to the priesthood and parish life. Seven thousand, eight hundred and thirty one posts later we are here.

If I enjoy a photo of a monk throwing a snowball, it will probably get posted. If I think someone made an interesting point, it might get posted. If there is a spat between two parties and you are expecting that I'm going to strive for the news media's Israel-Palestinian parity policy you're going to be let down. There is bias, but there is also often an attempt to post from the other side as well. Also, I will post about non-Chalcedonians or even Greek Catholics (as I've done since the beginning) without feeling like I'm putting out sugary treats forming an insidious path to an inescapable gingerbread house of heresy.

If you see an article and your entire purpose for commenting is to say something snarky or be contrary, don't. There's a legion of people who already do so to my consternation. Those who are already doing it aren't grandfathered in either so I reserve the right to apply a purgative to their efforts at will.

But, I also have to say I am imperfect. In recent months I have reposted some articles that were written by others with an aim to be injurious instead of expositional. They were intended to do more harm than educate and I missed the mark in spotting them for what they were. I have tried and will continue to try to only post things where there is a benefit to readers in doing so. I will not suddenly gain perfect perspicacity through simple dint of will, though. So, when I am more clanging cymbal than timbrel and harp, please do contact me directly. Marriage, children, and parishioners have taught me how to take advice with humility. "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise."

It's wonderful to have so many people visit every day from all over the world. There are lots of emails with stories sent to me, lots of comments on what makes it into a post, and even the occasional retweet. I appreciate it all. But this isn't network news. This is a blog. I ask that you be civil. Or, as we say to visitors in Texas, "Howdy! Wipe your feet and take your hat off."