Thursday, July 2, 2015

Antioch breaks communion with Jerusalem over Qatar

I have been posting on this Qatar issue for many months now with the last update being here. As far back as 2013 Antioch has been warning the Orthodox world that this would happen. Below is a machine translation of the French (PDF) from the Antiochian Synod.


(Orthodoxie) - Resolution no. 5-3 / 2015

Considering that since the violation of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem geographical boundaries of the Patriarchate of Antioch and the creation of a diocese in Qatar entrusted to an archbishop ', the Church of Antioch tried to find a solution in a spirit peace and on a basis of cooperation and coordination between the Orthodox sister Churches, in order to reach a solution that could put an end to the violation of its rights, to ensure the sustainability of pastoral work in progress in Qatar and avoid 'undermine the unity of Orthodoxy;

Since the Church of Antioch used, since this violation and to this day, all the irenic means, including mediation undertaken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other sister Churches and by the Greek Government, without reaching a solution to the problem;

Since the Patriarchate of Jerusalem recently steals the agreement in the presence of delegates from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and promises made primates of Churches sisters who offered their good offices;

As the Patriarchate told persists in the violation of our rights and in its claim to have itself rights to canonically dependent regions of the Patriarchate of Antioch, and refuses any attempt to dispute resolution;

In WITNESS WHEREOF,

Since all conciliation initiatives have stalled, And all those who have undertaken these initiatives have recognized the inalienable and full right of Patriarchate of Antioch on 'Saudi', including all countries of the Arabian Gulf, The Fathers of the Holy Synod took the following resolution:
  1. The rupture of ecclesiastical communion with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and until further notice.
  2. The assertion that any resolution of the dispute must be based on the agreement reached in Athens in June 2013.
  3. The insistence of the Church of Antioch on the principle of unanimity in all Pan-Orthodox meetings, both as regards the presence of all the Orthodox Churches sisters decisions.
  4. The provisions of this Resolution shall apply from that day and it is not possible at all Antiochian clergy to participate in any liturgical service chaired by clerics of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, or to which it ceux- participate.

Assembly of Bishops responds to SCOTUS marriage invention

(AOB) - The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America strongly disagrees with the United States Supreme Court decision of June 26, Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court invents a constitutional right for two members of the same sex to marry, and imposes upon all States the responsibility to license and recognize such “marriages.”

The Supreme Court, in the narrowest majority possible, has overstepped its purview by essentially re-defining marriage itself. It has attempted to settle a polarizing social and moral question through legislative fiat. It is immoral and unjust for our government to establish in law a “right” for two members of the same sex to wed. Such legislation harms society and especially threatens children who, where possible, deserve the loving care of both a father and a mother.

As Orthodox Christian bishops, charged by our Savior Jesus Christ to shepherd His flock, we will continue to uphold and proclaim the teaching of our Lord that marriage, from its inception, is the lifelong sacramental union of a man and a woman. We call upon all Orthodox Christians in our nation to remain firm in their Orthodox faith, and to renew their deep reverence for and commitment to marriage as taught by the Church. We also call upon our nation’s civic leaders to respect the law of Almighty God and uphold the deeply-rooted beliefs of millions of Americans.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

An Orthodox approach to wealth

http://bookstore.jordanville.org/books/english/ethics-philosophy/beyond-wealth-orthodoxy-capitalism-and-the-gospel-of-wealth/

Author: Kyriakos Dounetas
Format: Paperback
Pages: 98

“...[T]he need for earthly security, manifested in the quest for riches, is but a symptom of the existential sickness from which mankind suffers on account of sin and death. Its cure is found in the Tradition of the Orthodox Church, where one encounters the Risen Christ and where necessity is replaced by an immediate and loving relationship with God.

“This essay draws from the teachings of the Holy Fathers, and especially from the numerous incisive and eloquent homilies of St. John Chrysostom. It attempts to describe the frame of mind or phronema of the Orthodox Church towards wealth and necessity. It attempts not to judge or condemn anyone for any particular opinion held or decision made, but rather to show a manner of living that befits one’s dignity as a being made in God’s image.” —From the Introduction

Girl Scouts earning street cred

In recent news the Girl Scouts return a donation made by someone who opposes boys "who identify as girls" from being in troops. They use this as a springboard of outrage to make a crowdfunding campaign that has already collected more than double the initial 100k donated.

So, the Girl Scouts get to make a very public move to show how hip they are to the new gender-fluid madness sweeping the country AND they get bags full of money for themselves. The Machiavelli merit badge cannot be far off.

(Fox News) - The Girl Scouts of Western Washington said it refunded a $100,000 donation because it came with a provision that the money couldn’t be used to support transgender girls.

The group said it sent the money back in May after the donor had asked that the gift be returned unless the group guaranteed it would not be used to benefit transgender girls.

"Girl Scouts is for every girl, and that is every girl regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion. Every girl is every girl," Megan Ferland, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, said in an interview Tuesday. "It was a sad decision, but it was not a difficult decision. There was no way I would be put in a situation of refusing a girl participating because of a gift. It was really that quick."

The local council has transgender girls participating in Girl Scouts, said Kate Dabe, the council’s vice president of marketing and communications. Dabe declined to provide additional details about them.

The group noted that $100,000 is a lot of money as it represents one-quarter of what it raises each year to provide financial help for girls to go to camp and participate in other activities.

On Monday, the group set up a crowdfunding campaign asking for help to fill the gap. "Help us raise back the $100,000 a donor asked us to return because we welcome transgender girls," it said on its fundraising page on Indiegogo.com.

By Tuesday afternoon, thousands had given more than $185,000.

"We are astounded," Dabe said. "We were prepared for a 30-day campaign. We raised our goal in a day."

Dabe didn’t give additional information about the donor, citing privacy concerns.

Ferland said the donor gave the money a few months back. But in the midst of a national discussion about the Girls Scouts USA being an inclusive organization and discussions about Bruce Jenner’s transgender journey, the donor wrote back with the catch, Ferland said.

In an emailed statement Tuesday, Girl Scouts USA said that the group, "as a movement, has always been committed to inclusivity and supporting all girls." It said it works with local councils, which are responsible for their own fundraising. "Inclusion of transgender girls is handled at a council level on a case-by-case basis, with the welfare and best interests of all members as a top priority," the group added.

In Washington state, the local council has heard from both sides on the issue, but the overwhelming majority of comments have been positive, Ferland said.

"I understand that people have different views. We stand by the fact that Girl Scouts is for every girl. We knew going in that not everyone would share that view," Ferland said.

But plenty of supporters, including current and former Girl Scouts, praised the move on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Orthodox Christian Laity asks: Where are all the Antiochians?

(OCL) - Where is ANTIOCHIAN participation in the Assembly of Bishops in the USA and in Europe?

Where is the participation of the Laity of the Antiochian Archdiocese on the matter of Unity?

Why have the many years of leadership – promoting Unity, the legacy Metropolitan Philip, been reversed by Metropolitan Joseph?

Why do the problems of the Patriarchates in Europe and other regions have ripple effects on the work of the Assembly of Bishops in charge of the spiritual lives of the faithful in the United States?

Controversy between Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem caused a directive to come from the Patriarch of Antioch in October 2013 calling for all Antiochian bishops to withdraw from the Assemblies around the world. Metropolitan Philip directed clergy, laity and bishops to withdraw from the US Assembly in January 2014. Their participation was reinstated in May 2014.

Will the latest severing of relations between the two Patriarchate on June 26-27, 2015, result in the withdrawal of participation in the Assembly of Bishops around the world and the withdrawal of participation of Antioch from the Great and Holy Council of 2016?

Why has Metropolitan Joseph made a choice not to participate in the work of the Assembly of Bishops? Why has he been absent from the work of the Executive Committee in which he is a member and leader? What was the hold up in issuing the report completed by his committee in November 2014? It was not issued until June, 2015. Why did he not attend the Meeting of the Assembly of Bishops’ Executive Committee at the Phanar on June 16, 2015?

Why was Bishop Basil, the Secretary of the Assembly, not present at this meeting?

Will the laity of the Antiochian Archdiocese bring up the issue of Unity and the participation of their hierarchy at the National Assembly of their Church which will take place in Boston, July 20-26, 2015? Where is the laity on these matters? Are they reasoned sheep or are they asleep?

The dilemma within the Antiochian Patriarchate and the Antiochian Archdiocese is a case study for why the Assembly needs to be a Synod, and the Church in the U.S. needs to be self-governing and autocephalous with its own Patriarch elected by its own Synod. The present state of affairs is uncanonical. Our mission and outreach is compromised. We are in a no-growth situation and cannot retain the faithful.

George Matsoukas, Executive Director
Orthodox Christian Laity

A single Patriarch for the East?

(Vatican Insider) - He didn’t shout it about but the proposal made by Patriarch Louis Raphael, Primate of the Chaldean Church was still shocking: doing away with the three Patriarchates rooted in the ancient Church of the East - the first Church to bring Christianity to Persia, India and even faraway China – and unifying the three ecclesial communities, bringing them under the leadership of one single Patriarch.

This is a delicate moment for the three local ecclesial communities of Mesopotamia as their very existence is at risk in their own homeland. The Chaldean Church, which is the largest and tied to the Apostolic See in Rome, has been haemorrhaging faithful since the US-led western military invasions took place. It is losing faithful in Iraq and as such Christians risk extinction in areas where it has been present for thousands of years. For decades now, most of the faithful belonging to the Assyrian Church of the East have lived in flourishing diaspora communities spread across America, Europe and Oceania. This Church is going through a delicate transition phase: after Patriarch Mar Dikha IV’s death last 26 March, the election of a successor was put off until September, while the re-transferral of the Patriarchal See from Chicago – where the Patriarch migrated to as an “exile” in 1940 – to Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, is at stake. Meanwhile, the minority Ancient Church of the East – created in 1964 as the result of a schism in the Assyrian Church of the East, currently headed by Patriarch Mar Addai II, who is resident in Baghdad – faces re-unification after a proposal presented by Assyrian bishops.

In light of these developments, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael published some “personal thoughts” on the Patriarchate’s website. He sketches out the early stages of an actual plan for the re-establishment of the Church of the East as a Patriarchal Church that is independent from a jurisdictional point of view but in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. The full re-unification of the three Churches of Nestorian descent would help deal with the dangers that threaten the survival of local Christian communities across the Middle East, together, the Patriarch said in his proposal.

What the Chaldean Patriarch’s proposal means in practical terms, in the unconditional renunciation of the patriarchal title on his part as well as on the part of Patriarch Mar Addai. All bishops of the three Churches currently in existence should then meet in a joint Synod to elect a single Patriarch who would then choose three bishops from the three Churches “being merged” as his main coadjutors. The “ethnic” self-definitions that currently distinguish the Chaldean and Assyrian Churches would have to be set aside: the new Church would simply be called: Church of the East, a Church that is universal and open to all, without any “nationalist” reductionisms. A programmatic general Synod, open to the laity, would have to plan the concrete implementation of full hierarchical and structural unity between the different Churches.

As far as the central issue of communion with the Bishop of Rome is concerned, the Chaldean Patriarch reiterated that this communion is based on the sharing of a common faith and doctrine, confirmed also in the joint Christological declaration signed by John Paul II and Mar Dinkha in 1994. In this declaration, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Catholic Church state that they profess the same faith in Christ and it recognises that the Christological controversies of the distant past were mostly down to misunderstandings. Rome is Prima Sedes – Patriarch Louis Raphael recalls, referring back to a shared ecclesiology between East and West for the entire first Christian millennium – and being in full communion with the Bishop of Rome does not involve a “dissolution” of one’s ecclesial identity but it helps protect “the unity of plurality”, maintaining a Church’s individual features on a liturgical, canonical, disciplinary and jurisdictional level, thereby also protecting the prerogatives of the Patriarch and the Synod.

Even as far back as September 2013, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I invited the Assyrian Patriarch of Mar Dinkha to begin a path of dialogue with the aim of restoring full ecclesial communion between the Chaldean Christian community and its Assyrian counterpart. At the start of October 2013, Mar Dinkha accepted, suggesting the creation of a “joint committee” as an instrument for dealing with the emergencies the two sister Churches had in common. Said Churches share the same liturgical, theological ad spiritual heritage.

There is a recent precedent to the Chaldean Patriarch’s initiative, which is evocative and important also in terms of its outcome: In the mid-1990s, the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch had started a project for the full sacramental re-unification with the Greek orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, while at the same time maintaining full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. It was the elderly Melkite bishop Elias Zoghby who set all this in motion. He was known for his fervent pro-unity interventions during the Second Vatican Council. In February 1995 he wrote a two-point profession of faith testimony in which he confessed that he believed “in everything Eastern orthodoxy teaches” while at the same time being in communion “with the Bishop of Rome, within the limits attributed to the Bishop of Rome by the Holy Fathers of the East in the First Millenium and before the separation”. Just a few days later, this profession of the faith was signed by Georges Khodr, orthodox Metropolitan of Byblos: ““I consider this profession of faith of Kyr Elias Zoghby to fulfil the necessary and sufficient conditions to re-establish the unity of the Orthodox Churches with Rome,” Khodr wrote. On this basis, the plan to restore “Antiochian” unity between the two Churches was supported by almost all Melkite Greek bishops. Meanwhile, in September 1996, the Holy See urged caution. According to the Pope’s collaborators, Rome could take into considerations any “Antiochian” decisions only if these did not create conflict and tension within the Orthodox world. The aim was to avoid being accused of creating division between the Orthodox Churches, seeing as though the Church of Rome had begun a theological dialogue in order to improve relations with Orthodoxy as a whole. In the end, it was the bishops of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch who suspended the project during a Synod, stressing that the bilateral dialogue with their Melkite Greek “brothers and sisters” “could not be separated from the resumption of communion between the See of Rome and Orthodoxy as a whole”.

It is likely that the proposal put forward by the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I will come up against insurmountable obstacles, particularly within the Chaldean and Assyrian communities in diaspora, where the ethnic and national element has been nurtured and fomented, even by some representatives of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, as part of their identity. Nevertheless, the Chaldean Patriarch’s proposal is valuable in that it tries to overcome existing obstacles with a sense of goodwill, promoting – as Francis has done on more than one occasion – the experience of communion of the first Christian millennium as a model to be followed on the concrete path towards achieving full sacramental communion between sister Churches.

Monday, June 29, 2015

September 2014 - Assembly of Bishops Q&A

Fordham hosts conference on upcoming Great & Holy Council

I took a trip up north to attend the "Conference in Preparation for the Great and Holy​ ​Council of the Orthodox Church" Co-​sponsored by the Orthodox Theological Society in America ​(​OTSA) and the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University. Many well-known names in Orthodoxy gave talks or were on panel discussions.

Met. Kallistos was present for almost all of the proceedings and gave the Florovsky Lecture entitled “The Decisive Importance of Councils in the Life of the Church.” He was a fine choice as an expert on Church history and theology, but was somewhat hampered in speaking on the upcoming council directly as his Eminence is not actively involved in the conciliar preparation himself. To my mind he could talk about Orthodox clerical footwear and make it a joy to listen to so it should be no surprise that he completely entertained a packed crowd of academics, clergy, and students for over an hour with a Q&A afterward where he responded with refreshing frankness to questions on things like the reception of councils and Oriental Orthodox relations.

The talks themselves were a mix of student presentations, academic papers, and panel discussions. If that sounds boring, it wasn't. There was quite a lot of saucy talk and polemical banter throughout. Met. Hilarion specifically and the Russian Church broadly were the targets of many of these papers and openly mocked for what were perceived disingenuous actions, strong-arm tactics, and self-serving theology. Having followed the Russian Church for a number of years I was surprised that no one came to Moscow's defense. Additionally, if I were to borrow from political rhetoric, there were some decidedly liberal talks delivered on Orthodox fundamentalism (reminiscent of the famous Obama "clinging to guns and religion" line), yet another paper on deaconesses, engaging in discussions with non-Christians, and a paper proposing that the hierarchs leave bio-ethics to the economia of the parish priest.

Before you ask, I have no idea if the talks will be available online. I actually doubt it, but the papers the talks are given from might well be published later.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

UOC-MP "concerned" by EP bishops visiting UOC-KP/UAOC

(RISU) - The arrival of two bishops of the Constantinople Patriarchate in Ukraine and their meeting with Ukrainian clergy was one of the topics discussed by the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), held on 24 June in Kyiv. In particular, they referred to Bishop Hilarion (Rudnik) of Edmonton and the Western Eparchyand Bishop Daniel (Zelinsky) of Pamphilon.

This was reported by the official website of the UOC (MP).

Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) “expressed concern” about their activities in the “canonical territory” of the UOC (MP) without consent of the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). Separately, members of the Synod asked Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv and All Ukraine toturn to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I for an explanation of the situation.

As it was previously reported, on June 8, 2015 in St. Michael's Monastery, in the Hall of the Academic Council of the Kyiv Orthodox Theological Academy, a joint meeting of the Committees UOC Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was held.

The hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople – Bishop Hilarion (Rudnik) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada and Bishop of the UOC in the USA Daniel (Zelinsky).

St. Sergius Theological Institute suspends operations

Please forgive this robo-translated passage from a much larger declaration [DECLARATION DE L'INSTITUT SAINT-SERGE (16 juin 2015)].


8. This is the inviolable right of the St Sergius Institute, higher private educational institution recognized by the State and governed by a free association of law 1901 which, de facto , can legally raise the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe, which is a diocesan union of religious associations of the 1905 Act This is also the imperative duty of the St Sergius Institute, in view of the pan-Orthodox mission he accomplished over ninety years in the service of all, the Committee and the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of France, of all the Orthodox Churches in the world and first of the Ecumenical Throne has always guaranteed up today, freedom of the Institute as an expression of its own radiation.

9. This period of suspension of regular education on site will be developed in compliance with the students concerned and the proper pursuit of their studies that will make possible our various cooperation agreements with sister institutions and the maintenance of theological training by correspondence. But this period is mainly used, ninety years after our founding, our thinking overhaul for the next ninety years by adapting the spirit of our origins to current challenges. Throughout fiscal 2015-2016, the Institute, thus escaping the deleterious paralysis in which Archbishop Job of Telmessos works to the dive, do remain nonetheless a lively place, open to all and preparing his future. That all those who have continued to accompany and help are fully assured of our commitment to return perpetuate our vocation. We also invite to participate in our reflection on the future of the Institute.

10. This decision therefore not equivalent to a withdrawal of the Church, but a defense of the Church. It certainly is a risk of marginalization or even disappearance, which nevertheless seemed a lesser evil in terms of the canonical asphyxiation business and ideological diversion led by Mgr Job Getcha. For we are not fighting for ourselves but for the testimony of faith. Thus, it would be better for the Institute no longer exist rather than surrender to a spiritual death that would result in the continuation of his name as he would have lost his identity.

11. Because we want lively St. Sergius, we dare ask, respectfully but trust, His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew and His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, which we know how deep their attachment to the Institute, so they give us the spiritual and canonical support that will enable us to continue our mission in a climate of authentic ecclesial communion, legal compliance and human dignity. And that, in turn and in their name we can communicate "living water" of Orthodox theology to any woman and any man "who feels thirst" (Rev 22, 17).

12. Endorsing the definition of Father Sergius Bulgakov which at the same time of the establishment of the Institute and was its first Dean, declared that "Orthodoxy, to be itself, can not be only richness of faith and life by faith, but must be as prophecy, "we make our own finally the word of our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, and say with him:" Thanks be to God for everything. "
Complete article here.

Arch. Silouan (Oner) metropolitan-designate for UK/IE

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland will soon have its own hierarch.

Armenian Catholic Catholicos Nerses (Bedros) reposes

(Asbarez) - The leader of worldwide Armenian Catholics, Catholicos Nerses Bedros XIX passed away Thursday from a heart attack in Lebanon, reported the administration of the Glendale-based St. Gregory the Illuminator Church.

A memorial Mass will be held Sunday, June 28, at the St. Gregory the Illuminator in Glendale in Armenian and English. A Mass in Arabic in memory of Nerses Bedros XIX will be held in Glendora

Born in Egypt in 1940, His Beatitude completed his philosophical and theological studies in Rome and was ordained a diocesan priest for the Armenian Catholic Eparchy in Egypt on August 15, 1965. He served that Eparchy and its parishes as a parish priest until 1990, when he was elected diocesan bishop. He was consecrated a bishop of the same Eparchy on February 18, 1990.

He was elected and enthroned Catholicos-Patriarch of Armenian Catholics on October 24, 1999, a position he held until his passing away on June 25, 2015.

The Vatican press service reported Thursday that Pope Francis has expressed his heartfelt condolences on the passing Catholicos Nerses Bedrox XIX.

His Beatitude was ordained priest in Cairo on Aug. 15, 1965 by His Excellency Msgr. Raphael Bayan. He served the parish of the Armenian Catholic Cathedral in Cairo from 1965 to 1968 with the R. Father Hovannes Kasparian who became Catholicos Patriarch under the name of Hovannes Bedros XVIII in 1982. From 1968 till 1990, he became pastor of the parish of Heliopolis (Cairo), where he encouraged the various religious movements. On Feb. 18, 1990, he was consecrated bishop of the Eparchy of Alexandria for the Armenian Catholics of Egypt and Sudan by His Beatitude Hovannes Bedros XVIII. From 1992 to 1997, as a member of the Catholic Hierarchy of Egypt, he occupied the position of Secretary General of the Pastoral Council of the Catholic Church of Egypt. On Oct. 7, 1999, he was elected Catholicos Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenian Catholics by the Bishops of the Saint Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church, and was named Nerses Bedros XIX. He was enthroned on Oct. 24 the same year. He received the Ecclesiastical Communion from His Holiness Pope John Paul II on Dec. 13, 1999.

As a member of the Synod of the Bishops of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Church, he became successively: Member of the Council of the Bishops of the Patriarchal Curia from 1993 to 1995, President of the Patriarchal Commission for the Vocations from 1993 to 1995, Member of the Permanent Synod from 1994 to 1999.

During his 6 years of office, His Beatitude made pastoral visits to the following countries: Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, Poland, Sweden, Jordan, Ukraine, Iran, Kessab and Aleppo in Syria, Jerusalem, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentine in Latin America. He also boosted the Armenian catholic schools and encouraged the media, especially by reediting the monthly magazine “Massis” and by republishing the bulletin for the Sunday celebrations. On Oct. 7, 2001 on request of His Beatitude and on the occasion of the 1700th anniversary of the Christening (Baptism) of Armenia, the archbishop of Mardine Ignace Maloyan, martyr of the Armenian genocide of 1915, was proclaimed Blessed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Square in Rome. In Feb. 2002, His Beatitude Catholicos Patriarch sent the first parish priest to Moscow in order to begin a new mission among the Armenian Catholics in Russia, following the opening in 1991 of missions in Armenia a nd Georgia.

On Jamuary 2005, by the request of His Beatitude, the Holy Pontiff Jean Paul II gave his blessings on the opening ceremony of the statue of St. Gregory the Illuminator placed in one of the exterior niches of St. Peter basilica. In July 2006, His Beatitude visited Karabakh. This was a historical event because it was the first time in history that an Armenian Catholic Patriarch visited the Republic of Karabakh. In February 2008, by the initiative of His Beatitude, the Holy Pontiff Benedict XVI performed the opening ceremony and blessed the St. Gregory the Illuminator square in the presence of ecclesiastic and political figures that came from Rome as well as from all parts of the world.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

White supremacist with Orthodox history: Roof a "victim"

You may well remember Heimbach as a man who was at the center of a large kerfuffle over his entry into Orthodoxy and later messy end with it over his ties to white supremacy (you can read more about it here). Well, he's back in the news again.

(ABC News) - While thousands of mourners and well-wishers have come to pay their respects to the nine people killed in a Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting last week and to further a message of racial harmony, there is one young man came to Charleston with a different message.

“Dylan Roof is a victim in regards to he was a white man born to a society that actively hates him and hates his people, hates his culture and his identity,” Matt Heimbach told “Nightline” in an interview Monday.

“There is a culture war being waged. There is a war on the streets against whites,” he added.

Heimbach, 24, is a college-educated white separatist who believes the United States would be a better place if it went back to segregation. But he condemns the rampage that Dylann Roof, 21, carried out at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church June 17, when Roof walked into a Bible study group and shot and killed nine people. Heimbach said he believes innocent people should never be targeted as a way to advance the white separatist message.

“My first gut reaction when I heard about the shooting was, ‘Uh no,’ because there is no circumstance where taking the lives of civilians, innocent women and children, that's never OK,” Heimbach said. “It's very important to show that the white separatists community does not believe in using terrorism against civilians."

But Heimbach refuses to blame his ideology for the violence caused by someone who may be a like-minded individual.

“The left that persecutes and hates white culture, white identity and the Christian faith, they are the ones that are responsible because you will push individuals only so long before they react,” he said. “You cannot step on an individual forever before they decide that they are going to bite back and that’s what we see.”

While Heimbach’s platform is inflammatory, some believe he is tapping into a growing and freighting trend of discontent in the United States. In the past decade, the number of hate groups has increased by nearly 30 percent, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Like Roof, Heimbach said he was not raised in a racist environment. Indeed, he said his upbringing was “very moderate” and his beliefs now have “caused a lot of tension” in his family.

Heimbach said he found his way into the white separatist movement through his love of history, taking part in Civil War re-enactments as a Confederate soldier.

The Charleston shooting has reignited the fierce debate over the Confederate flag, prompting “Take Down That Flag” protests on the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse in Columbia, where the flag still flies. While many see it as a symbol of oppression and racist hatred toward African-Americans, others see it as a symbol of pride for their ancestors, who fought and died in the Civil War.

Heimbach, too, has a fondness for the Confederate flag. A graduate of Towson University in Maryland, Heimbach founded a controversial student group on campus called the White Student Union while he was a student in 2012, and launched a nationwide campaign to spread his beliefs. He has since made a name for himself speaking on the white supremacy circuit at various conventions.

“White people are waking up,” he said. “White people are reacting and I pray and hope that they come and join me through this struggle politically.”

Friday, June 19, 2015

Transgenderism, xenomelia, and how we treat sex differently

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