Sunday, February 23, 2020

Who is going to Amman to discuss Ukraine and who isn't

Here is the current accounting...

Nay: 9 / Aye: 6


Ecumenical Patriarchate

Patriarchate of Alexandria

Patriarchate of Antioch

Patriarchate of Jerusalem - Hosting

Church of Russia - Committed

Church of Serbia - Committed

Church of Romania - Committed

Church of Bulgaria

Church of Georgia

Church of Cyprus

Church of Greece

Church of Poland - Committed

Church of Albania

Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia - Committed

Orthodox Church in America - Russians can always send as part of Russian contingent

Orthodox Church of Ukraine


Saturday, February 22, 2020

New Men

Maybe show some financial love to educating our children?


It has been said that beauty shall save the world. Dr. Timothy Patitsas observes that only beauty can make the eye chaste. Beauty tames the heart and extinguishes hatred, envy, and concupiscence. In that regard, the mission of St. Constantine School of Lehigh Valley to train up the child in the way that she should grow so that later she will not depart from it could not be more necessary than it is today. By training the soul of the child in beauty wed to goodness and truth, she can thrive in any occupation, and develop the critical elements of the mind so that she will be a master of her own person, and not in the thrall of fads, propaganda, or demagogues. Please consider supporting us through your prayers and gifts as we move forward in our work.

The Saint Constantine School of the Lehigh Valley is a tax-exempt public charity (federal tax ID #84-2177887). All contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law. No goods or services were provided in exchange for your generous financial donation.

Groups urging President Trump to visit India’s Christians

(International Christian Concern) – A group of Indian-American Christians has urged President Donald Trump to visit with India’s Christian community during his upcoming state visit next week. According to these Indian-American Christians, visiting with Christians in India will help President Trump understand the growing persecution faced by Indian Christians and other minorities.

Next week, President Trump will pay a state visit to India after accepting an invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two-day trip will be President Trump’s first visit to India.

In a letter to President Trump, the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA) urged President Trump to meet with members of India’s Christian community while in the country.

“Today, Christians across India are living in fear,” FIACONA wrote. “Pastors, social workers, and ordinary Christians are arrested, tortured, or killed. Christian properties are burnt or destroyed by supports of the ruling party.”

“We urge you to meet with selected leaders of the Christian community in India as a show of support to the freedom of conscience and religion in India on this historic occasion,” FIACONA’s letter concluded.

In January 2015, President Barrack Obama made a speech in New Delhi calling on India to uphold the principle of religious freedom. Speaking at a town hall in New Delhi, President Obama said, “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith, as long as it is not splintered along any lines, and it is unified as one nation.”

This speech was made only months after the current BJP-led government, led by Prime Minister Modi, came to power. This rise to power by the BJP was coupled with an unleashing of attacks on religious minorities, including Christians, by radical Hindu nationalists. Will President Trump take greater action to protect persecuted Christians in India?

Setting the record straight on Jerusalem-Antioch relations

From the incomparable Notes on Arab Orthodoxy, a post entitled "Jad Ganem: The Press Release from Jerusalem." Several people emailed me after the Jerusalem press release came out to call it so much hogwash. The below does nothing to improve on the calls of porcine palaver that have come my way. So as not to feign a lack of bias here: Qatar is Antioch's and there's simply no getting around it.


The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has issued a press release following its latest meeting, presided by His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, which treats what it calls "the pending matter with the Patriarchate of Antioch relating to Qatar" on account of Jerusalem's violation of the territory of the Patriarchate of Antioch and ordination of a bishop bearing the title "of Qatar" which is within the territory of the Archdiocese of Iraq, Kuwait and the Gulf of the Patriarchate of Antioch.

According to the press release, during this meeting Patriarch Theophilos asserted that "that since the two Primates met together mid last year in Cyprus dialogue has been taking place between the two Patriarchates on the matter" and clearly stated that "a resolution between both Patriarchates, regarding Qatar, had not yet been concluded." The press release also expresses the Patriarchate of Jerusalem's hope that "a final agreement on the matter of Qatar" will be reached with the Patriarch of Antioch during the fraternal gathering of primates of the local Orthodox Churches that will be held in Amman on the 26th of this month.

If one reads this press release closely and examines its content and purpose, it becomes clear that:

-- The Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem have entered into bilateral negotiations regarding the issue of Qatar after the meeting between the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem on Cyprus.

-- These negotiations have made some progress on certain aspects of the crisis but they have not yet reached a final solution to it.

-- The Patriarch of Jerusalem does not wish to find a solution to this crisis before the meeting of the "familial gathering" which he has called in Amman.

-- The press release used ambiguous language with the purpose of distracting from the points above and implying that a solution to the crisis over Qatar has been reached.

A close reading of the press release leads one to conclude that:

-- It was issued in violation of the most basic principles of responsible and transparent interaction between local churches.

-- It constitutes a covert attempt to exert moral pressure on the Church of Antioch to force it to take part in the Amman meeting.

-- It aims to lay upon the Church of Antioch responsibility for not reaching an agreement on the Qatar issue in the event that it chooses not to participate in the Amman meeting for reasons of principle.

Therefore, by attempting to delay resolution of the Qatar issue, trying to pressure Antioch by holding it publicly responsible for refusing to find a solution to this issue and insisting on using this issue for leverage to get Antioch to take part in this meeting, the Patriarch of Jerusalem deprives himself of the role he desires of fostering "dialogue, reconciliation and the preservation of Orthodox unity." Perhaps this is what has led a number of local churches to decline his invitation. It may also indicate the eventual fate that awaits the meeting in Amman, which will not succeed in achieving its purpose if it is approached in the same way that the Patriarchate has approached the Qatar issue.

Add Antioch to the list of no-shows at Amman conference

I'll save people the typing of cries of "more US government pressure." That does not seem to be at play at all here.


(Antioch Patriarchate) - A Statement by the Antiochian Orthodox Media Center
Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East
Balamand, February 22, 2020

Following the generous invitation of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem to His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, to participate in a consultative meeting of Church leaders in Amman, Jordan, on the twenty-fifth of this month, the Antiochian Church declares that She will not participate in this meeting.

The Church of Antioch acknowledges the concern of the Orthodox Churches’ Primates and their initiatives to what could contribute to finding solutions for the grave crisis that the Orthodox Church is witnessing today. However, She has decided not to participate in this meeting, based on the information that has been provided, and for Her care to avoid whatever increases divergence and deepens the rift between brothers. Her position does not mean that She is not eager to expedite necessary solutions for the reasons that led to the severance of communion between the Church of Antioch and the Church of Jerusalem, even after the Church of Antioch has showed readiness for everything that facilitates these solutions.

On this occasion, the Church of Antioch reiterates Her firm position that the "unanimous consensus" between the Churches, based on the Holy Scripture and the Holy Tradition, is the essential rule in the Orthodox Church, with regards to general decisions on the universal Orthodox level, as well as in resolving outstanding issues. She also affirms Her endeavor, through the continuous communication with the Churches, to what yields an atmosphere of love and to a return to the mutual consultation and unanimity between the brothers, in order for Her to be faithful to the mission of joy, peace, and unity that the Lord wants from His Church.

The Church of Antioch calls upon all of Her children to join together in prayer and work for peace in the Church and the whole world.

Friday, February 21, 2020

On the sad popular effort to paganize feast days

(Roger Pearse) - Something weird has begun to happen over the last couple of years. Twitter is filling up with claims that “Christmas is really pagan”; the same for Easter (!), St Valentine’s Day – indeed for every single Christian holiday. This is new, and started maybe in 2018, and now has become very commonplace. The object is without a doubt to diminish the Christian significance of American holidays. I get the impression that this may be part of the anti-Trump reaction. It is clearly orchestrated, and obviously a nuisance.

This year I came across the claim that St Valentine’s Day is really the Lupercalia (!), and that Pope Gelasius I abolished the Lupercalia and created St Valentine’s Day instead...
Complete article here.

Add Bulgarians to list of churches not going to Amman

(Bulgarian Patriarchate - machine translated) - In connection with letters received from His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilus III of Jerusalem, in which he invites to the Fraternal Assembly of the Presidents of the Local Orthodox Churches and their delegations in Amman, Jordan, St. The BOC-BP Synod announces that it is refraining from attending the above meeting and will accordingly not send its representatives to Amman, the capital of Jordan. St. Holy Synod expresses his personal brotherly love for His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilus III and his deep respect for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem - the millennial guardian of the life-giving Tomb of the Lord.

Maronites celebrate Feast of Saint Maroun in the Holy Land

Qatar a topic of discussion at Jerusalem-Antioch meeting

(Jerusalem Patriarchate) - In the Holy Synod convened today, Friday 21 of February, by His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III various matters relating to the Patriarchate’s ministry were discussed, including the pending matter with the Patriarchate of Antioch relating to Qatar.

It was asserted by Patriarch Theophilos that since the two Primates met together mid last year in Cyprus dialogue has been taking place between the two Patriarchates on the matter.

In today’s Synod, Patriarch Theophilos positively commended the position of His Beatitude Patriarch John X in welcoming Jerusalem’s initiative for Orthodox Unity being held as the “Amman Fraternal Gathering” even though a resolution between both Patriarchates, regarding Qatar, had not yet been concluded.

Patriarch Theophilos briefed the members of the Synod that, with gratitude to the Almighty, in the last weeks, concrete understandings have been reached with Antioch for a resolution to this matter.

His Beatitude concluded that Jerusalem is looking forward to next week’s familial gathering of Orthodox Primates, with hope for continued dialogue towards the precious unity amongst brothers, as well as keenness for the opportunity to further discuss with His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch in order to reach a final agreement on the matter of Qatar.

Met. Hilarion interviewed on upcoming Amman meeting

(ROC) - Heads and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches are to meet next week in Amman on the initiative of Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem. In an exclusive interview to RIA Novosti, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, tells who will discuss what and when and what will be the aims of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church to be led by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

– Your Eminence, when exactly will the pan-Orthodox conference take place in Amman and how is it to be called correctly?

– According to the letter from Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, the main event will take place on February 26. The delegations are expected to arrive on February 25 and leave on February 27. It is more correct to refer to it not as a pan-Orthodox conference, but rather a fraternal meeting of Primates and representatives of Local Churches.

– What are the aims of this meeting, with what tasks and hopes will Patriarch Kirill go there?

– The aim of this gathering as outlined by Patriarch Theophilos is to discuss the preservation of church unity. Regrettably, as of today, there is the fact of existing divisions and serious disagreements among the Local Churches. There is a danger of a deep schism in the Orthodox Church. These divisions can be overcome only through an honest and fraternal dialogue and joint efforts of all the universally recognized autocephalous Churches. We hope that the forthcoming meeting will become an important stage in this direction.

– Which Churches have already agreed to attend this meeting and which have refused to attend and why?

– The Russian Church is not the initiator nor the organizer of this event and therefore it has no exact information about the number and composition of its participants.

As far as we can judge from the information available to us, it is expected that the meeting will be attended by several autocephalous Churches. Meanwhile, a refusal to attend was publicly stated, along with Patriarch Bartholomew, by the Primates of the Churches of Greece, Cyprus and Albania, who maintain the Patriarch of Constantinople alone can convene such events.

– Will Metropolitan Onufriy, the Primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, go to Amman?

– The composition of our delegation will be announced later.

– What do you know about the interference of some politicians who dissuaded primates from attending the meeting? What is the role of the USA in this story?

– The political interference in the process of creating the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” was obvious from the very beginning. We are fully aware that the ensuing recognition of the schismatics by the Churches of Greece and Alexandria happened not without participation of external forces.

We know that pressure was also made on some Primates concerning the issue of the meeting in Amman. Anyway, it is difficult to interpret in any other way the refusal of the Archbishop of Athens to attend this meeting, which he announced to journalists immediately after the meeting with the American ambassador. I will remind you that he also announced the recognition of the “OCU” after repeated meeting with the same diplomat.

– Are common celebrations and meetings with state officials planned in Amman?

– As it follows from the invitation letters of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, they do not plan common divine services in Amman.

It is expected that the participants will meet with King Abdullah ibn-Hussein of Jordan.

– Are more such meetings possible and how often and where?

– We hope that the meeting in Amman will make the beginning of other similar meetings that our Orthodox family needs so much now.

Bringing St. Constantine to the Lehigh Valley

(Morning Call) - In this era of Common Core, STEM and standardized tests, launching a school with a medieval curriculum sounds quixotic. But the Orthodox churches of the Lehigh Valley intend to do that very thing, bringing the trivium and quadrivium (more on those later) back to the fore of education.

“Classical education is on the rise. We’re living in a deprived area in that regard,” said Cyril Gary Jenkins, a member of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Emmaus who is president of the fledgling St. Constantine School of the Lehigh Valley.

Right now, St. Constantine exists only in name, as the board of directors seeks a building to house it. Jenkins said a community survey shows the tuition-based private school could launch in the fall of 2021 as a K-5 or K-6 facility with about 100 students, mostly from the six Orthodox churches represented on the board.

Ideally, it would expand into a K-12 school, with students of any faith — or no faith — welcome to enroll. Tuition has yet to be determined, but no one would be turned away for lack of funds.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

On the non-synaxis-synaxis in Amman

The UOJ entitled this post "Patriarch of Jerusalem reports on the format of Primates’ Synaxis," but Jerusalem has pointedly and repeatedly stated that this is not a synaxis but a congenial meeting of brothers. It will be interesting to read what the letter coming out after this meeting will say. Unless something goes very awry, there will be one.


(UOJ) - Patriarch Theophilos hopes that the Council of Primates in Amman can become a preparatory ground for further cooperation in maintaining the unity of Orthodoxy. Again, decidedly not a council from everything the Patriarch of Jerusalem has said.

Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem addressed the Heads of the Local Orthodox Churches with a letter in which he gave details of the future Synaxis of Primates in Amman. The full text of the letter was published by the Greek edition Ethnos.

Patriarch Theophilos recalled that "dialogue and reconciliation between brothers is the only way to move forward."

Reporting on the details of the upcoming fraternal gathering in Amman, the Patriarch emphasized that this "meeting will not be an official Synod but rather a fraternal meeting that will inaugurate the dialogue on the challenges facing the Orthodox community at this critical time".

He also stated that “we continue to use any means of communication with the Ecumenical Patriarchate to achieve consensus between our brethren-primates, welcoming His All-Holiness welcoming His Holiness in his acknowledged seniority”.

According to the Head of the Church of Jerusalem, “a favorable outcome in this endeavor is based on being treated merely as a welcoming gathering of brothers to consider the methodology used to achieve the common goal of dialogue and reconciliation in order to preserve the unity of our Orthodox society”.

Patriarch Theophilos believes that "given the fraternal nature of the meeting ... participation in it will not involve sharing the Divine Eucharist" but will require "only a willingness to work and pray together". A meeting or primates without the Eucharist. My goodness.

The Patriarch announced that the Jerusalem Patriarchate will host the Primates and their representatives upon their arrival in Amman, Jordan, from February 25 to their departure on February 27. The meeting is expected to take place on February 26.

The Patriarchate will extend its hospitality to the distinguished Primates and their representatives at the Fairmont Hotel in Amman throughout their stay.

The Primates will also be received at the Hashemite Royal Court at the audience of His Majesty King Abdullah II.

“The solutions to our biggest problems are to be found in the dialogue and depths of brotherhood we share, and we pray the Holy Spirit will lead us on the path of our unity in Christ,” wrote Patriarch Theophilos.

Earlier, the UOJ wrote that the delegation of the Jerusalem Patriarchate visited Phanar and extended another invitation to the meeting in Amman; however, Patriarch Bartholomew refused to attend it without Epiphany Dumenko. Now that constraint is not one I had heard before. 

How Jerusalem saw its delegation's visit to Constantinople

(Jerusalem Patriarchate) - A high level delegation formally representing the Patriarchate of Jerusalem was commissioned by H.B. Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, to meet with His All Holiness Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, to further explain the importance of the fraternal gathering scheduled to be held in Amman, Jordan later on this month with the participation of the vast majority of Orthodox Patriarchs and heads of Churches, to discuss global orthodox unity and to enhance inter-orthodox dialogue and reconciliation.

The delegation assured H.A.H. the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during a 2-hour meeting held today at H.A.H. headquarters in the presence of members of the Ecumenical Synod, that the Amman fraternal gathering does not constitute a formal Synaxis but rather a familial gathering of the Orthodox Primates for the purpose of dialogue.

The delegation carried a letter from H.B. Theophilos III in which he extended H.A.H. Bartholomew an invitation to the Amman gathering, and pointed out his sincerity in upholding the Holy Canons of the Church and respecting H.A.H the Ecumenical Patriarch’s acknowledged seniority.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Frank words from Met. Nicholas of Detroit