Sunday, September 15, 2019

Abp. John of Dubna asks exarchate to follow him to Moscow

(AROC-WE) - The Archbishop - Protocol number : 19.046

Beloved in Christ Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,

Since the decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople of 27 November 2018 repealing the tomos signed in 1999, which granted our Archdiocese canonical link with the Ecumenical Throne, I have never ceased to protect our communities of "canonical subjection" (Act of 12 January 2019) which removed purely and simply the Archdiocese as created by the Metropolitan Euloge of blessed memory.

This decision has shaken our Archdiocese, which lived peacefully from nearly 90 years under the omophorion of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, where I myself grew up and celebrated until today. It still confuses the entire world to be honest. No one really knows why the EP did what it did, so we are left to guess.

For the past ten months, we have been looking together for a future for our Archdiocese, and a very clear mandate was given to us by the Extraordinary General Assembly of February 23, where 93% of delegates chose not to dissolve our Archdiocese. We worked tirelessly, but after the EGA of September 7th, which left us in a state of shock with regard to the violence and the destructive mood of some of us. I humbly think that we have to admit : we went astray.

I looked again at our statutes. These statutes organize the life of our Archdiocese and protect us. However, it must be said here, that they are not the foundation of the Archdiocese. The purpose of our Archdiocese is the exercise and coordination of worship in accordance with Orthodox Greco-Russian rite in respect of the holy canons of the Orthodox Church and the specific rules of the Russian tradition, in accordance with the decisions of the Council of Moscow 1917-1918.

Our statutes organize and thus make possible our pastoral activity. They rule the essential and organic problems of the functioning of our clergy, its composition, its resources, the election of bishops, its assemblies, its organs of control, and its eventual dissolution. However, they do not regulate pastoral care, and they remind us that the sacramental link between the Archbishop and the Archdiocese is intrinsic.

Russian Church reaffirms desire to absorb EU exarchate

(ROC) - On September 14, 2019, the Holy Synod considered an appeal from Archbishop John (Renneteau), head of the Archdiocese of Western European Parishes of Russian Tradition, who expressed the desire of a majority of the Archdiocese’s clergy and parishes to preserve its existence through entering the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church and asked for the entry in canonical communion and unity with the Moscow Patriarchate together with those clergy and parishes who wish to follow him. Archbishop John also informed that an assembly of representatives of these parishes would take place in the nearest future to send their proposals on the canonical form of their organization to His Holiness the Patriarch and the Holy Synod.

Having considered this appeal through remote connection, the members of the Holy Synod resolved (Minutes No. 122):
  • That Archbishop John (Renneteau) be accepted in the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate with the title ‘of Dubna’ together with all the clergy under his leadership who wish to follow him and parishes which will express this desire;
  • That Archbishop John of Dubna be charged with administration of these parishes;
  • That, after receiving an appeal from the assembly of representatives of the parishes, additional consideration be given to define the canonical form of their organization on the basis of the historically developed special features of the diocesan and parochial administration as well as liturgical and pastoral traditions established by Metropolitan Eulogius, taking into account the conditions of existence of the Church’s part which he headed in Western Europe.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Timeless wisdom

On Folk Wisdom and Allegory

So this image has been making the rounds of late. And while I appreciate the symbolism applied to this very commonplace item, I think there's a bit of confusion that comes with such things.

People who come to the church as inquirers, children, and the just very curious often ask what such-and-such meaning something has in our services. Often the angels are brought in somehow (or almost as often, the Holy Spirit) as being participants in what is being discussed. I've heard everything from the most reasonable explanation to the most outlandish for why I might be doing most anything behind the altar.

I appreciate the sentiment. But I also think we need to separate the folk knowledge that is a very natural outgrowth of our reverence for God and His Church with the reality of things. Or, to be more specific, it is perfectly fine to highlight spiritual truths by pointing to the way things are configured, but those are often accidental (or at least not essential) to why something is the way it is. It's a venerable practice to point to the seasons or plants or animals or even architecture as a way of understanding the divine, His body, or the articles used in His worship. Less palatable is presenting causality and correlation where functionality and historical development is at the root of the configuration.

So if you want to take something like a censer or vestments or anything really and point out how X being connected to Y is sort of like the way [insert broader, more existential thing] connects to [another big picture idea thing], you need to be explicit that this is a method of instruction and not the reason why it is that way. Otherwise people assume (and quite rightly) that we have four chains, a pull ring, and a hook on our censers because we want to express holy ideas whilst we flail the thing around the church.

There's enough beauty in our faith that we don't need to gild every lily.

Bibliophiliacs rejoice! More Philokalia!

(ROC-Sourozh) - On September 7, 2019, His Grace Bishop Matthew of Sourozh took part in a theological conference dedicated to the completion of the publication of the fifth volume of Philokalia in English, held at St. Anthony College of the University of Oxford.

Presentations at the conference were made by the honorary lecturer of the University of Oxford - Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, professor of the Harvard University James C. Skedros and professor of Durham University Christopher C.H. Cook.

Philokalia [Greek Θιλοκαλία], which has received the widest distribution in the Orthodox world, is an anthology of patristic writings (from the 4th to the 15th centuries), mainly dedicated to the prayer-contemplative experience of monastic life. Most of the writings included in the Philokalia in Greek, were in circulation on the Mount Athos already in the heyday of Hesychasm in the XIVth century. In its final form, Philokalia was prepared for publication by St. Macarius Notara, former Metropolitan of Corinth, and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain. The book includes carefully edited and systematized rich materials collected by them in the Holy Mountain’ manuscripts repositories. To the present time, Philokalia remains a fundamental "encyclopedia" of spiritual life.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Met. Tikhon is locum tenens of Nikonian dioceses

(OCA) - On Tuesday evening, September 3, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church met via teleconference in Special Session under the presidency of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon. At this meeting, the Holy Synod declared vacant the sees of the Diocese of New England and the Albanian Archdiocese following the death of His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon.

At this same meeting, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon informed the members of the Holy Synod that he would be the locum tenens for these two dioceses. It is to be remembered that under Met. Jonah the synod said that the metropolitan should not be put into this position because of the strain it places on the primate - this edict was immediately abandoned following his stepping down.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Russian exarchate not as pro-Moscow as many have assumed

(Orthodoxie) - Today was held in Paris an Extraordinary General Assembly ( Statutes , Articles 35 and 28) of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe. The discussion was lively and the various opinions could be exchanged. The question asked was: " Do you accept the canonical act of attachment of the Archdiocese to the Moscow Patriarchate as presented in the published document? The assembly counted 186 voters. There were 179 votes cast, six whites and one draw. The "yes" vote received 104 votes, or 58.1% of the votes cast, the "no" 75 votes, or 41.9% of the votes cast. We are waiting for the official communique of the Archbishop who will inform about what will be done.

Friday, September 6, 2019

On Mount Saint Macrina

(SQPN) - Every year, thousands of Eastern-rite Catholics gather in a small Western Pennsylvania town on pilgrimage to Mount Saint Macrina. Tom and Noelle Crowe explain how the pilgrimage started and what Pope Pius XI and Archbishop Fulton Sheen had to do with it.

St. Gabriel Monastery welcomes pilgrims

(Daily Sabah) - Some 5,000 members of the Assyrian community from around the the world gathered in the southeastern town of Midyat to remember Mor Gabriel or Saint Gabriel, on the 1,351st anniversary of his death.

The faithful gathered at a monastery bearing the saint's name in the town, located in southeastern Turkey's Mardin. The monastery is one of the oldest surviving Assyrian monasteries in the world and believed to have been built some 1,600 years ago. Speaking at the religious service dedicated to the saint, Hori Gabriel Aktaş, vice metropolitan of Midyat for the Assyrian church, said they were pleased with the fervent atmosphere.

"We have a large crowd today who came from Europe and other cities," he said. Daniel Savcı, an Assyrian priest who attended the service, said Mor Gabriel was among the most revered saints of the community due to the multiple miracles he exhibited during his lifetime.

"We mark his anniversary of death here in this monastery because this is where he was buried along with thousands of other saints. It is like a second Jerusalem for the community," he said. The community set up large pots outside the monastery and served meals to the guests while the faithful recited the Bible throughout the night and into the early hours of Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Russian exarchate's initial response to Constantinople

From computer-translated French...

(AROC-WE) - On Saturday August 31, 2019, the day after the meeting of the Board of Directors, the Office of the Archdiocese issued a communiqué detailing the three points that were retained by the Board for consideration by the Assembly on the future of the Archdiocese.

Shortly after this publication appeared a statement from the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople expressing his decision to grant a canonical leave to Archbishop John "personally and only for him".

Monseigneur Jean announces that he had not requested such a holiday to date and sent the Patriarchate a request for explanation. In the meantime, Archbishop Jean confirms that the Extraordinary General Assembly will be held regularly on the 7th of September as planned.

But the decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople has the consequence of modifying the list of the solutions envisaged, submitted for the consideration of the Assembly.

Thus the first option for the study of a new ecclesial structure for the archbishopric in the Patriarchate of Constantinople is rendered obsolete.

Father George Ashkov, for his part, informed the Archbishop that he was asking for the withdrawal of his project, which had become unimaginable for the time being in the newly created situation, while hoping that it could be examined later.

Thus it will remain in the General Assembly of September 7 to decide directly on the "project of attachment to the Moscow Patriarchate" developed during six months by the joint commission "archbishop-patriarchate of Moscow".

In order to carry our assembly in prayer, we ask all our faithful to practice a fast from Wednesday to Friday and to invoke in their prayers the Holy Spirit so that He will lead the members of the AGE towards the path that will allow the Archdiocese to continue the works of our predecessors with blessed memory.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Syriac Catholic Church reestablished diocese in Northern Iraq

BERUIT (Crux) - To support the faithful and encourage them to stay in their homeland, the Syriac Catholic Church has reestablished a diocese for the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan celebrated the new diocese at a Mass at Queen of Peace Syriac Catholic Church in Irbil, Iraq, Aug. 24. In his homily, he commended the faithful for being “the embodiment of the living faith, and a testimony to the challenge and steadfastness amid takfiri terrorism and in the face of evil forces that wanted to kill hope in your believing souls.”

“I say and repeat: You have carried the cross on the example of the Savior, our divine teacher, and you have persevered in your faith, your heritage and your hope, which has been admired around the world, East and West alike,” Younan said.

Archbishop Nathaniel Nizar Semaan heads the new Diocese of Hadiab-Irbil and all Kurdistan. Previously, the area was under the Mosul Archdiocese’s jurisdiction.

Semaan was ordained a bishop June 7 as the coadjutor archbishop of Mosul; then he was named archbishop of the new diocese when it was erected June 28. He had served as a priest in London for 14 years.

The Hadiab Diocese was founded in the 13th century, but had dissolved by the mid-17th century.

In the summer of 2014, some 120,000 Christians were uprooted from Mosul and the Ninevah Plain by the Islamic State, fleeing to Irbil in the Kurdistan region. While dozens of families have since migrated to the West, some families have returned to liberated areas in the Ninevah Plain, and others have settled in the Kurdistan region.

Younan noted that, during their synod in June, the Syriac Catholic bishops decided to revive the diocese “in order to activate the episcopal care of the clergy and believers residing in the Kurdistan region.”

The Kurdistan regional government has provided two plots of land in Ainkawa and Dahuk, each dedicated to the construction of a Syriac Catholic church.

Pat. Irinej recovering following hospitalization

( - A health condition of His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch, who is being hospitalized at the Military Medical Academy, is stable.

His recovery is in progress, and a permanent consulting body of doctors of the Military Medical Academy headed by Brigadier General Prof. Dr. Dragan Dincic expects that the Primate of the Serbian Church will reassume his regular responsibilities soon.

His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej has been in the Military Medical Academy since the 27th August 2019.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Grand event at St. Sava Serbian Church in San Gabriel, CA

And to quote my favorite line from the event - Metropolitan Joseph: "Kosovo is Serbia!"

( - For months the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in San Gabriel, California has been actively beautifying their church, parish hall and grounds in preparation of hosting the annual Diocesan Days celebration on this jubilee year 2019, as we mark the 800th anniversary of the autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church. With the blessings of His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America the annual Diocesan Days celebration came to an official start on Friday, August 30, 2019, as distinguished guests, clergy, monastics and the faithful began to slowly arrive to St. Sava’s Church in San Gabriel. As is the established custom, this annual celebration in the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western America, per the blessings of the diocesan bishop, dedicates the first day and first order of business to a clergy seminar. This year’s seminar was led by the Most Venerable Archimandrite Metodije of the Royal Lavra Hilandar Monastery.

Following lunch Bishop Maxim introduced Fr. Metodije who delivered a moving talk on the role of Mount Athos in the celebration of eight centuries of the Serbian Orthodox Church. After all, Fr. Metodije noted, St. Sava was abbot of Monastery Hilandar at the time he became the first Serbian Archbishop. Moreover, St. Sava played a great role not only in the life of the Serbian monastery but throughout the Holy Mountain. There is an opinion that the entire Athonite monastic community rejoiced exceedingly upon hearing of his appointment to the rank of archbishop. The reason was that the Latins, who had control of Constantinople at that time, had appointed one of their bishops to the Diocese of Ierissos, under whose jurisdiction Mount Athos belonged. As the Athonite monks were firm and staunch defenders of Orthodoxy, they did not want the Latins to tonsure their monks, ordain their hierodeacons and hieromonks. Thus, St. Sava’s election brought much joy as he, himself, was an Athonite monk, and now would be able to tonsure and ordain monks throughout the Holy Mountain, which, in fact, he did.

Not only was Saint Sava respected at one time in history among Athonite monks but even to this day. As Fr. Metodije noted, eight centuries have passed since the time of Saint Sava and yet he is still loved greatly by monastics throughout the Holy Mountain. In fact, it is hard to find a monastery that doesn’t have a fresco of him or his father St. Symeon the Myrrh-bearer.

Groundbreaking at new Orthodox school in Ann Arbor, MI

(ROCOR-Chicago) - On August 28, 2019 – the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos – His Eminence Archbishop Peter presided at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Ann Arbor Orthodox Classical Academy, located on the campus of St. Vladimir Orthodox Church in Ann Arbor, MI. Following the evening services for the Image of the Lord Not Made by Hands, a special prayer for the founding of a new structure, and the requisite sprinkling of the site of the school with Holy Water, His Eminence took up a shovel and broke the ground at the location of the future day school. His Eminence was joined at the groundbreaking by the Rector of the St. Vladimir parish, Archpriest Gregory Joyce, along with the parish deacons Vladimir Pyrozhenko and Dmitriy Kashchenko. Also participating were visiting clerics Archpriest Victor Trotskyy (Rector of Dormition Cathedral, Ferndale, MI), Archpriest Vasily Kuzmych (Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Milwaukee, WI), and Priest Joshua Genig (Rector of St. Innocent Church, Redford, MI). Also taking part in the ceremonial groundbreaking was Jack (Alexei) Mitchell, Starosta of the St. Vladimir parish, and Gloria Appling, Head of the Academy.

God willing, construction will start on the school building in the next few weeks, with classes beginning in the fall of 2020. The parish and the school Steering Committee ask the prayers of all for the success of this important venture, which is slated to be the only preK-12 Orthodox Christian daily school in Michigan.

To learn more about the Ann Arbor Orthodox Classical Academy please visit the school web site here.

To make a donation to support the school project, please visit the school’s "Network for Good" site here.

Pictures of the Groundbreaking can be found here.

Russian Church receives Malankara delegation

The Russian Church really has no equal in holding discussions with Oriental Orthodox bodies. There's a constant stream of delegations, talks, reciprocal visits, etc. going on all year long.

(ROCOR) - On August 31, 2019, at the invitation of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Primate of the Malankara Orthodox Church, India, His Holiness Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, arrived in Russia. During his official visit he is accompanied by Metropolitan Zachariah Mar Nikolovos, head of the Malankara Church department for external church relations; Metropolitan Yuhanon Mar Diascoros, secretary of the Malankara Church Holy Synod; Rev. Abraham Thomas, secretary of the Malankara Church department for external church relations; and Rev. Aswin Zefrin Fernandis, head of the Malankara Catholicos’s protocol service; Rev. Jiss Jonson, personal secretary to His Holiness the Catholicos; Mr. Jacob Mathew, member of the Malankara Church Council; Mr. Kevin George Koshi, head of the communication service of the Malankara Church department for external church relations; Dr Cherian Eapen, a representative of the Malankara diaspora in Russia.

At Domodedovo airport, His Holiness was met by Bishop Dionisy of Voskresensk, first Patriarchal vicar for Moscow and deputy chancellor of the Russian Orthodox Church; Hieromonk Stephan (Igumnov), DECR secretary for inter-Christian relations; Archpriest Sergiy Tocheny, head of the Moscow Patriarchate administrative secretariat; and R. Akhmatkhanov, DECR secretariat for inter-Christian relations.

On the same day, the guests visited the Patriarchal Convent of the Protecting Veil to venerate the honourable relic of the Blessed Matrona of Moscow. They saw the churches and buildings of the convent and met with the mother superior Theophania (Miskina) and inmates of the convent’s orphanage for girls.

The plan of the visit includes a meeting with His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia; talks with Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations (DECR), a tour of churches and monasteries in Moscow and the Moscow Region and visits to theological institutions of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The visit will last until September the 5th.


The Malankara Church is part of the family of the Oriental Churches along with the Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean Churches and the Armenian Apostolic Church. According to tradition, it was founded by St. Thomas in the 1st century. Its center is located in the State of Kerala, India. It has dioceses and parishes in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Europe and North America. The latest visit of its Primate to Russia took place in 1976.