Thursday, February 27, 2020

How the Korean Church is handling Coronavirus

(Orthodox Korea) - The unexpected calamity that has emerged in China with the deadly Coronavirus epidemic, it has also struck our homeland in recent days.

Apart from the special prayer, which we have already started offering in our everyday Church Services, and by which we ask the Lord for the victims of the Coronavirus, for their loved ones, and for the protection of all people from this great danger, we have also decided to take certain safety measures, in accordance with the instructions of the Ministry of Health of our country.

For this reason, we urge all believers to follow the following instructions until the problem ends:

1. During the Divine Liturgy all believers will wear masks.

2. Before entering the Church, they will disinfect their hands with a disinfectant present at the entrance of the Church.

3. They will not shake hands with anyone.

4. They will not kiss the hand of the Clergy.

5. They will not kiss the Icons, but they will bow before them.

6. They will not use the liturgical books at the time of prayer.

7. They will not receive the Antidoron from the Clergy, but on their own as they leave the church.

8. The Agape Meal will not be served following the Sunday Liturgy.

9. The various group meetings of the Faithful as well as the Catechumens will not take place.

Hoping soon to overcome this crisis in our country and at a global level, let us pray in a humble spirit and repentant heart to our Philanthropic Lord to show His mercy and free us from this grave problem.

What hath Amman wrought?

(ROC) - Press release on the results of the fraternal meeting of the Orthodox Primates and delegates (26 February 2020 – Amman, Jordan)

On February 26, 2020, a meeting of Primates and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches was held in Amman, Jordan, with the primary view of unity and reconciliation within the Holy Orthodoxy. The participants noted their understanding of the anguish of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem for the imminent danger of schism within our Orthodox Communion.

Participating in the meeting were delegations of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem led by His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, the Russian Orthodox Church led by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Serbian Orthodox Church led by His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, the Romanian Orthodox Church led by His Eminence Metropolitan Nifon of Targoviste, the Polish Orthodox Church led by His Eminence Archbishop Abel of Lublin and Chelm, and the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia led by His Beatitude Metropolitan Rastislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia.

The participants expressed their gratitude to His Majesty King Abdullah II, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Hashemite Custodian of the Christian and Muslim Holy Places in the Holy Land and to the people of Jordan for facilitating the hosting of this gathering in their capital city, Amman, noting His Majesty’s outstanding work in promoting interfaith dialogue internationally.

The participants also thanked the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos for all the relentless efforts aimed at paving the way for dialogue and bringing brothers together in the precious spirit of unity, noting that the light that emanates from Jerusalem stands as a witness to that Holy City which continuously proclaims its multi-faith and multicultural tapestry rejoicing in its existence as the warm home for the three Abrahamic faiths, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

The delegations declared that this gathering was to strengthen the fraternal bonds between brothers and their Churches, to promote the bonds of peace in Christ among them, to advocate for the unity of the Orthodox Churches, and to renew dialogue in the prayerful hope of bringing reconciliation where there has been discord.

In the atmosphere of fraternal love, those gathered for the meeting agreed that decisions concerning issues of Orthodox-wide importance, including the granting of autocephaly to particular Churches, should be finalized in a spirit of pan-Orthodox dialogue and unity, and with pan-Orthodox consensus.

Concerning the current ecclesiastical situation in the Ukraine the participants also recognised that a pan-Orthodox dialogue is necessary for healing and reconciliation. Not a lot of meat to chew on there.

In the matter concerning North Macedonia, the delegations stated that this matter is to be solved through dialogue within the Serbian Orthodox Church and with pan-Orthodox support.

Regarding Montenegro, the participating delegations urged the relevant authorities to respect and uphold the fundamental right of ownership of property including that of the Church.

The delegations agreed that they should gather as brothers, preferably before the end of this year, to strengthen the bonds of fellowship through prayer and dialogue. The participants hope that His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with his known seniority of honour (πρεσβεια τιμής) will join this dialogue along with his brother Primates.

The delegations embraced the call of their brother Patriarch Theophilos III to hold a prayer for the world, for an end to war, sickness and suffering, and for the Christians as well as for the unity of the Orthodox Church. This prayer is to be held in the Mother Church, the Church of the Resurrection (Holy Sepulchre) in Jerusalem, before the Holy Tomb of Christ, from which He rose and proclaims peace to the world.

On Constantinople's designs for the CZ / SK lands

(ROC) - The establishment by the Patriarchate of Constantinople of a parallel jurisdiction in the canonical territory of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia is discussed in particular in an article by Peter Brandtner.

Our Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia is one of the youngest in the Orthodox world. However, from the moment it received independence it has been in the canonically equal relationships with other autocephalous sister Churches. These equitable relationships already constitute its integral tradition and a constant of its self-perception. Lately this tradition has been subjected to a deliberate untrue interpretation in the mass media with the hardly concealed view of justifying at any cost the notorious uncanonical steps, concerning which the Holy Synod of our Church expressed its judgment at its extraordinary session on December 17, 2019.

In its resolution our Holy Synod expressed its canonical position with regard to an organization called “Holy Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos” registered as a non-church legal entity (non-governmental association) of the Czech Republic with the number 08502374, which is headed by a metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Arsenios (Kardamakis). The Holy Synod of our Church unanimously resolved that the establishment and function in its territory of monasteries and parishes of other autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches without prior consent of our Holy Synod are inadmissible.

At the moment acting in the territory of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, apart from the abovementioned organization whose establishment and activities the Holy Synod considered to be uncanonical, is the Metochion of the Russian Orthodox Church in Karlovy Vary. This Metochion was set up over 40 years ago at the request of the First Hierarch of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia (at the time of the Metochion’s establishment our country was called Czechoslovakia, hence our Church was named the Orthodox Church of Czechoslovakia), His Beatitude Metropolitan Dorotheos and the Holy Synod of our Church. The Metochion enjoyed support of all our subsequent Primates. In its turn, according to the deep-rooted tradition and the principle of reciprocity, the Metochion of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia has been operating in Moscow for more than 20 years.

Another brotherly meeting of Churches planned for later this year

Amman, February 27 (Interfax) - Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople's refusal to participate in inter-Orthodox dialogue on the procedure for granting autocephality will not impede its continuation, the Russian Orthodox Church said.

"If he refuses again, consultations will carry on anyway," head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion told the press following a meeting of heads and delegations of local Orthodox Churches in Amman.

The main result of the meeting was the agreement of the Churches to continue their consultations and interaction, he said.

The next meeting in this format is scheduled to take place before the end of the year, and Patriarch Bartholomew is invited to join in.

Meanwhile, a letter written by Patriarch Bartholomew was published on the same day as the Amman meeting. He accused participants at the meeting of trampling upon church foundations.

"If we want to stay true to ourselves, to live by faith, and to obey the centuries-old principles of Orthodoxy, a local Church should not [attend a meeting] that involves the local Church siding with the Russian Federation," Patriarch Bartholomew said in his letter to Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, the organizer of the meeting. In Patriarch Bartholomew's opinion, the Patriarch of Jerusalem should have contacted him before putting forward the initiative, if he wanted to solve problems of the Orthodox world.

Nonetheless, the final communique of the Amman meeting indicated that the question of church autocephaly, including in Ukraine, should be resolved by Orthodox consensus.

What Met. Hilarion thought before the Amman meeting

(Interfax) - In anticipation of the meeting of heads and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches in the capital city of Jordan, Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion website about what and in what format is to be discussed by this forum.

– Your Eminence, what do you expect from the meeting in Amman?

– We expect a fraternal discussion of Primates and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches on problems of concern for the Orthodox world today. There are many such problems and attempts to present them as if they are being solved or have already been solved can only be misleading.

For instance, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has stated that it has already "solved" the problem of the Ukrainian schism. But it is impossible to heal a schism simply through legalizing the actions of schismatics – without their repentance and re-consecration of those who name themselves hierarchs actually without being in any holy order.

In the Orthodox Church, only those can be considered bishops who were consecrated by two or three bishops who have the right to do it. The present hierarchy of the OCU are persons who have no canonical consecration. One of them, for instance, was ordained by two persons, a suspended bishop of the Russian Church and an imposter who pretended to be sometimes Orthodox, sometimes Uniate bishop, sometimes an Anglican pastor, but who had actually nothing except for the ordination as deacon. The persons ordained in this way are popularly called "samosvyaty" [self-ordained clergy]. And Patriarch Bartholomew, without any examination and on the basis of forged document palmed off on him by schismatics, accepted them in communion without repentance and re-consecration and "restored" them in the rank they have never had in fact.

There were many other breaches made in the process of granting "autocephaly to Ukraine", as they put it in the Patriarchate of Constantinople. And the main breach is that autocephaly was given to a group of schismatics contrary to the will of the canonical Ukrainian Church which unites twelve thousand parishes, over two hundred fifty monasteries and millions of the faithful. She did not ask for autocephaly but there were attempts to impose it on her. When she rejected it, the tomos was given to an alternative group.

– Are you not afraid that the absence of a number of Local Churches from Amman will make the meeting not authoritative enough?

– We are ready to discuss inter-Orthodox problems in any format, bilateral, trilateral, multi-lateral. The Patriarch of Jerusalem has invited all the universally recognized Local Churches to attend. Some have agreed while others have refused to come. The Council of Crete convened by the Patriarch of Constantinople in 2016 was not attended by all either. And the point here is not a pan-Orthodox council, nor what has come to be called "Synaxis", an official meeting of the Primates of Churches. It is a fraternal meeting of those who wished to participate and discuss accumulated problems. Someone has to help Orthodox Churches to find a way out of the crisis. Today, the initiative to organize a discussion has been assumed by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and we are grateful to him for that.

– Was the refusal of the Patriarchate of Antioch to attend the meeting unexpected for you? How do you explain it?

– The Patriarchate of Antioch, in its time, refused to attend the Council of Crete because of an unsolved conflict with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem over the church presence in Qatar. The same reason is mentioned in the communique of the Patriarchate of Antioch on its refusal to attend the Amman meeting. As far as we know, in the recent days, negotiations have been held between Antioch and Jerusalem over this topic. However, they have apparently failed to achieve a full agreement.

– And how do you explain the refusal of the Churches of Bulgaria and Georgia?

– Again, the both Churches have refused in their time to attend the Council of Crete, and each had its own reason for it. The Patriarch of Georgia, for one, explained his refusal by stating that problems should be solved in pan-Orthodox dialogue, that is, with the participation of all the Churches.

The absence of particular Churches from Amman will not make the meeting less significant. In their time, when four Churches announced their refusal to attend the Council of Crete, Patriarch Bartholomew still held it, and the decisions of that council are considered in the Churches who attended it to be obligatory. In Amman, no decisions are supposed to be made. This meeting is not for decision-making but for a fraternal discussion of urgent problems and possible ways of coming out of the crisis.

Let us hope that the Amman meeting will start a process of discussion on common Orthodox problems to be joined with time by other Churches.

– What problems, along with the Ukrainian one, will be discussed?

– I suppose that the Serbian Church will wish to discuss the situation in Montenegro where the authorities have introduced a discriminatory law that allows of taking property from the canonical Church and hand it over to other structures. Perhaps, there will also be a discussion of the church situation in Northern Macedonia.

Besides, there are problems that should be considered on the pan-Orthodox level but they were removed from the Council of Crete agenda even before it was convened. In particular, it is the question of who and in what situation has the right to grant autocephaly. During the pre-council process, the Churches agreed in principle that in future autocephaly can be given only with a consent of all the universally recognized Local Churches. However, Constantinople first managed to make this item disappear from the agenda and now it states that these agreements were invalid and appropriates the sole right to invade in others’ bounds, to reshape the boundaries of Churches, to grant autocephaly to whoever they fancy, including schismatics lacking canonical ordinations.

We have encountered an unprecedented situation generated by the actions of one of the Primates. He has thought himself "the first without equals", who has a right to act unilaterally, without the consent of other Churches. In this situation, the Primates and representatives of Local Churches have something to discuss and think about.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Bp. Irenei of Richmond and W. Europe on Amman meeting

(Orthodox Europe) - Interview with Bishop Irenei About Today’s Meeting of Primates in Amman

— Your Grace, today in Amman the heads of several of the Orthodox Churches are meeting. What can you tell us about this gathering?

Several primates of the Local Orthodox Churches have accepted the generous invitation of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem, to meet in Amman in order to discus, in a fraternal and prayerful manner, some of the issues relating to the disunity that has arisen in parts of the Orthodox world. Their aim, as archpastors, is to seek the Orthodox path of cooperative resolution to difficult circumstances, constructively attempting to overcome worldly divisions through wise application of canonical principles and pastoral love.

— These issues of disunity, you are speaking of the situation regarding the Patriarchate of Constantinople?

It is well known that the most serious issues of disunity in the present moment are the result of the actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which have brought their relationship with the rest of the Orthodox world into a tenuous state, and which relationships clearly cannot continue in a full manner without those behaviours and actions being addressed. So yes, such matters will be at the heart of the discussions in Amman; though there are also other issues that the primates and their representatives may discuss.

— Not all the Churches will have their primates in Amman. Does this hinder the meeting’s usefulness?

Of course it would be desirable for all the Local Churches to gather together to address such weighty matters together in a spirit of fraternity and love. However, so long as one of the patriarchs declares that only he alone has the right to convene a council of all the Churches, and refuses to do so, this is not a possibility. Such a position is of course neither canonical nor traditional, nor is it realistic, especially when that primate’s actions are themselves amongst the subjects such a council might be called to discuss.

In Amman, then, we see the convening of those primates and representatives of the Local Churches willing righteously and fearlessly to stand for the truth and follow the Orthodox path of addressing challenges in a conciliar way when they arise. Of course their work will not be definitive; it is but a beginning, but a necessary one, and one for which we can be thankful to God.

— You speak of “standing for the truth,” but we often hear on the internet that the disputes are mostly political, that they involve power struggles between Constantinople and Moscow but not matters of faith or dogma.

I hear these statements too, and it saddens me to realise how easily people are swayed by the politicisation of their perception. While it is true that, in its origins, the present situation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s relationship to the rest of the Orthodox world began in the territorial realms of jurisdictional incursion and a misuse of authority and power, it has since escalated directly into the realms of dogma — of the sacraments, of the nature of the Church. When individuals with no sacramental ordination in the Church are falsely claimed to be priests and hierarchs and set over the holy Mysteries, this is a fundamental denial of the nature of those sacraments, especially that of ordination. When those outside the Church are falsely claimed to be part of it, simply by fiat or pronouncement and not by repentance and sacramental baptism and chrismation, this is a fundamental denial of the nature of the Church itself, and of those sacramental realities. So these are the most grave of matters. Whatever may be the “political” issues surrounding the origins of the disputes, or whatever political factors may still figure into various behaviours on all sides, no one with their spiritual eyes open can deny that these are theological matters. They are matters of truth, and more importantly, of falsehood being promulgated under the guise of truth. It is for this reason that the hierarchs of the Churches, and above all their primates, must work together in earnest to ensure that such falsehood does not go uncorrected.

— Finally, Your Grace, do you see any significance in the fact that this meeting falls just before the beginning of Lent? Is there a message for us in this?

God’s hands are visible in all good things. Great Lent is a season of repentance, and it is only through repentance that sin is overcome and those in error are called back to the truth and life in Christ. This is true for each of us. We all sin, we all wander at times, wittingly or unwittingly, into error and must be called back through repentance to what is right and true. This is no less the case for clerics or hierarchs or those in the administration of Patriarchates. Error is error, truth is truth, and when the one appears, it must be cast out in favour of the other. This is the nature of our life in Christ.

Let us pray that the patriarchs and others gathered today in Amman will, by the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit, take positive and holy steps towards disclosing this path of repentance to all those currently sowing discord, so that real peace, not worldly peace but the peace that comes from unity in the truth who is God himself, may prevail always and everywhere.

Ecumenical Patriarch sends another letter to Jerusalem

(EP) - His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew sent an austere letter to Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, a few days after the meeting with the delegation of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem at headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Phanar (Istanbul), and on the eve of the “fraternal gathering of primates and delegates” taking place in Amman (Jordan) on 26 February 2020 with the participation of the primates of the Churches of Jerusalem, Russia, Serbia and of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, and of the delegates of the Churches of Romania and Poland.

“We cannot understand how you overlook or even ignore the magnitude of the negative effects of this initiative,” wrote the Ecumenical Patriarch to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, while stressing that this “familial gathering” initiative only aims at “subverting the established norms and alienating the Orthodox Church from its ecclesiastical foundations.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch made clear to the Patriarch of Jerusalem that the real aims of his initiative were obvious. He also spoke of an “unutterable context of such an effort,” which he described as “problematic,” without having examined the costs and benefits of this initiative for the Church.

As the Ecumenical Patriarch said, “If your true concern was generally about ‘the challenges that the Orthodox society faces in critical times,’ after what was decided unanimously by the recent Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, then you should first address us for the extra issues that were not included in it, and we strongly believe that there would be an agreement.”

“The aim, if we are to be true to ourselves and consistent with God, is to tenaciously cling to the refusal of one particular local Church to follow the centuries-old accepted principles in the Orthodox Church while having the Russian Federation by its side,” said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Patriarch Theophilos while reminding him that "numerical strength has never been the quintessence of Orthodox morality…”

The letter sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch clearly reminded the Patriarch of Jerusalem that his actions are not only harmful to the Church of Constantinople but also to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem itself as well as to the entire Orthodox Church.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Some not so sanguine remarks about Amman

( via Orthodox Times) - In the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Amman, the attention of the puzzled global Orthodox community turns today and for one more day with a great deal of skepticism to the implementation of the Patriarch Jerusalem initiative to resolve the crisis in Orthodox Church.

Three months after his visit to Moscow where he announced his initiative to convene a Primates’ meeting, the Patriarch of Jerusalem welcomes today in Amman just three Church leaders who responded to his invitation.

Patriarchs Kirill of Moscow, Irinej of Serbia and Metropolitan Rastislav of the Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church are arriving today in Amman, which is still moving at its normal pace.

According to reports, since the organizing Church, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem has not made public the details of the meeting, the Primates will have two meetings, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They will also have a meeting with King Abdallah.

The Meeting will be held at one of the central hotels of the Jordanian capital, Fairmont Amman.

Yesterday a large support group arrived in the country from the Russian Church which has already settled in the above hotel and the rest of the participants are expected to arrive within the day.

An Embarrassed Patriarchate

Since the day Patriarch Theophilos announced his initiative, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem has been showing an unprecedented embarrassment over the issue. It has not issued a single press release. Patriarch Theophilos himself has not taken a stance publicly on this initiative, and even the correspondence of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem with the other Churches on the subject was in English, surprising even the non-Greek-speaking Churches. Or one might think Jerusalem is trying to have an open mind about the topic and doesn't want to color opinions.

Serbs on the ground in Amman to discuss Ukraine

(SOC) - His Holiness Patriarch Irinej and a delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church were welcomed on behalf of the host, His Beatitude Patriarch Teophilos III of Jerusalem and All Palestine, by Their Eminences hierarchs Benedict and Christopher, Archimandrite Raphael, Benedict and Athanasius, and Cross-bearing archpriests Irenaeus, Abraham, Alexios, Peter, Gerasimos and Arsenios.

The delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church, next to His Holiness, consists of His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro-Coastlands; His Grace Bishop Irinej of Backa and His Grace Bishop David of Krusevac.

The Patriarch and his delegation are accompanied by protopresbyter-staurophor Milutin Timotijevic, principal of the Seminary of Sts. Cyrill and Methodius in Nis; protodeacon Damjan Bozic, PhD, editor-in-chief of newspaper Orthodoxy and periodical Theological Views; deacon Aleksandar Prascevic, PhD, Secretary of the Office of the Serbian Patriarch, and hypodeacon Dejan Nakic, personal secretary of the Serbian Patriarch.

The Belya story continues on

You can read about the history here. It is as strange a story as you'll find.

(ROCOR-EAD) - For Release: At the February 5/18, 2020, session of the Synod of Bishops, which was held at the Synodal Headquarters in New York City, an appeal was heard from the Spiritual Court of the Eastern American Diocese regarding the activities of Archimandrite Alexander (Belya) who, while under suspension from serving, wrought disturbance in the church life of several diocesan parishes. Having discussed the appeal and the circumstances of this case comprehensively, as well as the violations of the terms set forth in his suspension that have been a cause of temptation for both clergy and flock, to the point of fleeing beneath the homophorion of a separate jurisdiction without a release from his ruling bishop, it is with sorrow that the Synod of Bishops adopts the following resolution, provided here in brief:

To ratify the resolution of the Spiritual Court of the Eastern American Diocese regarding the laicization of the former Archimandrite Alexander (Belya), in accordance with the determination of his ruling bishop.

Monday, February 24, 2020

We're going the wrong direction

Eastern Catholics make ad limina apostolorum visits to Rome

Celebrating re-establishment of the Orthodox Church in Cuba

(ACROD) - His Eminence, Metropolitan Gregory represented His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the weekend of January 24 – 27, 2020, during an archpastoral visit to Havana, Cuba. Metropolitan Gregory joined His Eminence, Metropolitan Athenagoras, The Primate of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, and the Caribbean Islands for the celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the Consecration of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral and the re-establishment of the Orthodox Church in Cuba.

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