Saturday, August 1, 2020

No in-person school? Consider homeschooling.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Oriental Orthodox Bishops pray for Peace & Justice

(SCOOCH) Paramus, NJ – Last night – July 17 2020 – the bishops of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches joined together in a prayer for peace and justice in our troubled world.
The service was hosted and led by His Eminence Mor Dionysios John Kawak and the clergy of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of the Eastern USA at St. Mark’s Syriac Orthodox Cathedral. His Eminence was joined at the altar by the President of SCOOCh, His Grace Bishop David, Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of New York & New England and Patriarchal Exarch of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, His Eminence Mor Titus Yeldho of the Malankara Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and His Grace Bishop Daniel of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church. Clergy of the Armenian, Coptic, Eritrean, Ethiopian, and Syriac Orthodox Churches were also present.
After vespers prayed in the Syriac Orthodox rite, His Grace Bishop Daniel Findikyan preached a moving homily on the need for peace and justice in our world, citing the present COVID-19 crisis, the racial unrest in the United States, Azerbaijan’s recent military aggression against Armenia, and other issues, noting that true peace and justice cannot be achieved apart from the Author and Finisher of Our Faith, Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. His Grace made note of the icon of unity in diversity that the Oriental Orthodox Church provides to the world.
The service was live-streamed across the globe on the Facebook and YouTube channels of the Syriac Archdiocese.

Sexual misconduct and the Coptic Church

(Coptic-NYNE) - Joint Statement of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese in New Jersey and the Diocese of New York and New England on Sexual Misconduct

July 22, 2020

With allegations of sexual misconduct recently coming to light, we recall the words of St. Paul saying, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26). We condemn the cruelty of any and all sexual misconduct. The betrayal of trust and abuse of authority by any member of the clergy or servant within our churches is, without exception, unacceptable and abhorrent to the teachings of our Christian faith. We bitterly regret any harm inflicted on our daughters, sons, or their families.

The Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese in New Jersey and the Diocese of New York and New England (“Archdiocese and Diocese”) will not tolerate sexual misconduct of any kind, including sexual abuse of minors by any of our clergy, employees or servants. If anyone is aware of any suspected incident of sexual abuse of a minor by any such person, we urge you to immediately report to law enforcement and also to your Regional Vicar, whose contact information may be accessed through your parish priest.

We pledge our best efforts to prevent any such conduct, to immediately report allegations of such conduct to law enforcement, to promptly investigate such allegations, and to take appropriate action.

To honor this pledge, the Archdiocese and Diocese will continue to act in accordance with our Sexual Misconduct Policies. We urge all our clergy, employees and servants to review and comply with those Policies. We also urge them to thoughtfully apply our Guidelines on Interactions with Children and Young People. These Guidelines offer direction on how best to interact with children. We are bound by the words of Christ Himself who said, “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10).

Our Policies and Guidelines have been distributed to our clergy and will be made available online to our employees and our servants who interact regularly with minors.

To those who have suffered, we hear you. We stand by you. We pray for you in the words of Psalms 147:3, for the Lord “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” May the Helper, the Holy Spirit through the Church, the Bride of Christ, provide comfort to those afflicted and provide healing and restoration to us all.

OCA begins process to fill spot for Diocese of New England

(OCA-DNE) - July 24, 2020 Protocol 07/017

To the Reverend Clergy and Pious Faithful of the Diocese of New England,

Christ is in our midst!

With this letter, I am happy to announce the procedure by which, God-willing, a new bishop will be nominated and elected for the Diocese of New England. This procedure is in conformity with the standard procedure for such an election in the Orthodox Church in America.

The procedure is as follows:

1) This present letter will serve as notice to all parishes of the Diocese of New England that any parishioner in good standing can identify one possible candidate for possible nomination as diocesan bishop. Names may be submitted directly and confidentially to the Chancellor of the Diocese of New England, Archpriest John Kreta, at the following email address: All names of candidates must be submitted for nomination by August 31, 2020, and no names received after that date will be considered...
Complete article here (PDF).

Record Number of Attendees at Sacred Music Institute

(Antiochian) - Not even a global pandemic could stop 357 voices from across the Antiochian Archdiocese – and other Orthodox Christian jurisdictions – from gathering to learn how best to worship and glorify God through singing/chanting and conducting. Without missing a beat, the Department of Sacred Music hosted its 35th annual Sacred Music Institute and ninth annual Youth Music Ministry – virtually via Zoom meeting – on the weekend of July 17-19, 2020. The theme served as a comfort during troubling times: “God is with Us: Music of the Nativity of Christ.”

From his office at the Archdiocesan Headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph welcomed the attendees and teachers. He had hoped to greet each one of them in person – as is the yearly custom at the Antiochian Village – but Sayidna found silver linings. “This generation has its turn to sacrifice for the common good and safety of our brothers and sisters while denying our own wants and desires.” He continued, “This time has hopefully allowed us to pray more, be with the family, look inwardly and see that while we commune with God in the church in an intimate way as the body of Christ, He is also ‘everywhere present and fillest all things.’” Sayidna Joseph was also thankful that the SMI and YMM could gather virtually.

Throughout the weekend, the hundreds of small faces filled computer and tablet screens, actively listening to their instructors, taking notes, and even activating their microphones to chime in with answers during the interactive learning. In the breakout sessions, the instructors shared views of their course work and presentations on their screens so the students could easily follow along. Those students flashed “thumbs up” signs every time they understood something new.

National Advanced Leadership Conference announced

Monday, July 27, 2020

Abandon the faith in Europe, expect more destruction

Moscow, July 27 (Interfax) - The Hagia Sophia becoming a mosque and the recent arson of a church in Nantes should make one pause for thought and undertake to prevent such things in Russia, Bishop Savva, a deputy administrator of the Moscow Patriarchate, said.

"A namaz in the Cathedral of Saint Sophia... The arson of the Nantes Cathedral (far from being the first church arson in France in a year, let alone other anti-Christian actions) ... Some would say, perhaps even with a kind of smirk, that this is a response to Europe's abandoning Christianity. What are you laughing at? You're laughing at our common tragedy!" Bishop Savva said on Telegram.

Having acknowledged that Russia's path is special, he nevertheless said, "But European civilization is our common civilization. An assault on it is an assault on us."

Bishop Savva called Russia "one of the main pillars of Europe (whatever the descendants of various Germanic tribes, from the Saxons to the Langobards, might think)" and called Russian culture "one of the gems of European culture."

"And the Ottoman sword in the Hagia Sophia, and the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson mocking 'the children of Europe' and church arsons and the demolition of monuments... All these assaults on our confused European neighbors, including on the fraternal Church, albeit one that betrayed us, these are assaults on us, too. The lesson for us, the titular nation, is to preserve our civilization and our culture," Bishop Savva said.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Abp. Elpidophoros visits White House over Hagia Sophia

New York, NY (GOARCH) – Today, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros met with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on the concerns of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese over the seizure and re-conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Following the meeting with the President and Vice President, the Archbishop stated:

“I am grateful to have met with President Trump and Vice President Pence in the White House and communicated our grave dismay at the re-conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, as well as ongoing security concerns for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and issues of religious liberty. In view of tomorrow’s day of mourning, we persevere in prayer but also bring our struggle to the highest levels of government for action and consideration.”
And also...
(Greek Reporter) - Archbishop Elpidophoros of America met with President Trump and Vice President Pence late on Thursday to discuss Turkey’s recent decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

The previously-unannounced meeting with the President and Vice President at the White House was an opportunity for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese to air their deep concerns over the seizure of the Byzantine-era building.

US President Donald Trump expressed his strong dissatisfaction with the decision of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque at the meeting.

After the scheduled 30-minute meeting on Thursday that Archbishop Elpidophoros had with US Vice President, Trump, informed of the Archbishop’s presence in the White House, called him to his office and spoke with him on critical issues for about 15 minutes. 

The US President appeared very annoyed and expressed his concern about the issue of the protection of human rights and especially religious freedoms of minorities in Turkey. In fact, he declared himself a helper and supporter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and personally of Patriarch Bartholomew, as well as of Hellenism, and stressed that he would proceed immediately with the necessary interventions.

Following the meeting with the President and Vice President, the Archbishop stated “I am grateful to have met with President Trump and Vice President Pence in the White House and communicated our grave dismay at the re-conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, as well as ongoing security concerns for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and issues of religious liberty.

“In view of tomorrow’s day of mourning, we persevere in prayer but also bring our struggle to the highest levels of authority.”

After the meeting Pence said that “America will stand firm with the Greek Orthodox Church in the call for Hagia Sophia to remain accessible as a source of inspiration and reflection for every person of every faith.”

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has already declared Friday as a day of mourning over the reconversion of the hallowed building, which served for almost a thousand years as the seat of all Eastern Christianity.

The cathedral of Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque after the 1453 fall of the city of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. It was made into a secular museum in 1935 and is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Friday, July 24 marks the first day that a Muslim prayer service has been scheduled to take place in Hagia Sophia in many years.

An interesting Twitter thread on anti-religious bias in academia

Thursday, July 23, 2020

"The priest’s son asked me to marry him..."

Possibly good fodder for seminarians needing a wife...

A silly song about a woman who regrets declining a marriage proposal from the priest’s son: 
The priest’s son asked me to marry him - he was giving me seven oxen. Oh, I thought and thought - I won’t accept, I thought. He was giving me seven oxen. But I stupidly didn’t take them, I would have plowed with six of them and sold the seventh. I would have hired a guy to take care of them, a young man that would chase the oxen to the watering hole. And while the oxen are drinking, you’ll stand with me. We’ll chat, my sweetheart, we’ll speak softly like doves murmuring.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Russian Church links Ukraine to Hagia Sophia problem

(ROC) - At its session held on July 16-17, 2020, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted a statement concerning the decision of Turkey’s authorities to change the status of Hagia Sophia. The text of the statement is given below.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church expresses its profound regret over the decision of the state leadership of Turkey to revoke the museum status of Hagia Sophia and to give it to the Muslim community for public worship.

The decision was taken with no regard for the petitions and explicit position of the Primates and hierarchs of the Orthodox Local Churches, representatives of foreign states, numerous international non-governmental and human rights organisations, and clerics of various confessions and religious traditions. It has hurt religious feelings of millions of Christians all over the world, which can cause disturbance of interfaith balance and impair mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims both in and beyond Turkey.

At a time when Christianity is being persecuted in many places on the planet and the exodus of Christians from the countries of the Middle East continues, this decision of the Turkish authorities inflicts particular pain. Hagia Sophia was built in honour of Christ the Saviour, remaining a church in the consciousness of millions of Christians. And to the Orthodox Church this cathedral is of special historical and spiritual importance.

Appealing to the brotherly Local Churches, we note with great sadness that this dismal event has found the Orthodox world divided, as a direct consequence of the uncanonical legalisation of the schism in Ukraine, which weakened our ability to oppose together new spiritual threats and civilisational challenges. Now, at a time of growing Christianophobia and increasing pressure on the Church from the secular society, unity is needed more than ever. We call upon the brotherly Local Churches to work together in the spirit of peace and love in Christ in order to seek ways to overcome the crisis.

We hope that the Turkish authorities will take necessary steps to preserve the priceless Christian mosaics which have miraculously survived to this day and will ensure access to them for Christian pilgrims.

Expressing our hope for further promotion and strengthening of mutual respect and understanding between believers of various world religions, we also call upon the world community to render all possible assistance in maintaining the special status of Hagia Sophia, which is of timeless importance to all Christians.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Canadian govt. vs. the church. vs. the laity

It bears repeating that many of the protections on the practice of religion and freedom of speech in the United States are absent in Canada. What we have codified from the beginning, they have not. And yet, as with what we see in the UK, government overreach and thought policing in Canada often presage what will happen here. That's why it's important to see what they are doing to groups like the Knights of Columbus, to pro-life advocates, to students and faculty in universities who don't keep current on the latest woke theory, et al. 

So here is a letter from Archbishop Sotirios of Canada entitled "Coronavirus and Holy Communion: A Chronicle of Events."

(GOA-CA) - With the advent of the coronavirus, our churches were closed to the public on March 17, 2020, by order of the government authorities in Canada (we are generally referring to government authorities in Canada, because matters in regard to health do not fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government, but rather under the jurisdiction of provincial governments and local municipalities). The churches reopened on June 12, 2020.

For the period between June 12 to July 3, 2020, the churches dispersed Holy Communion normally, until one or more persons (their names are known, but will only be made public at a later date) complained to the government authorities in Canada that the Greek Orthodox Churches are giving Holy Communion with a common spoon for all the faithful, and that this practice would create serious health problems. It is noted here that all Christian churches, as well as places of worship of all other religions, have received and continue to receive the same treatment on behalf of government authorities.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Neowise over Belarus

Millions murdered. Lesson still not learned.

July 6, 2020 (UCC-CA) - OTTAWA. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) is saddened by the disgraceful act of vandalism that took place at the site of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism – Canada, a Land of Refuge.

The Memorial to the Victims of Communism is to be a national place of mourning, reflection, contemplation, and remembrance, honouring the millions of innocent victims murdered by Communist regimes throughout the world.

Millions of people, including many Ukrainians, who were subjected to the brutality and inhumanity of Communism, fled to Canada – where they found liberty and peace. That this sight was desecrated through this act of hate is unacceptable and deplorable, and an insult to the hallowed memory of the millions of innocent victims of Communism.

This is a reminder to us all of the need for further education and awareness in our own society about the evil and crimes of Communism.

The vandalized sign has been removed and the UCC National Office has contacted the Ottawa Police Service about this incident. We will update our community and the public when more information is available.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Abp. Kyrill of SF opposes no singing order

(ROCOR-WAD) - Open Letter to The Honourable Gavin Newsom, Governor of California from His Eminence Kyrill Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America in light of the decree issued by the Governor of California that forbids choral singing in churches.

Your Excellency,

I hereby express my protest against the recent prohibition of liturgical singing in houses of worship, which is an infringement of the rights and religious freedoms of the clergy and faithful of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Diaspora, the other Local Orthodox Churches, performing their ministry in this state, as well as other religious bodies.

During the years of Soviet rule, when the Russian Orthodox Church was subjected to persecution, Russian émigrés and their descendants comprising the Russia Church Abroad, came to the United States of America and other countries overseas, in order to freely confess their Orthodox Faith, to freely perform Divine Services, to observe the feast days, fasts and all the customs established by the Orthodox Church. In this manner, they followed the example of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, who sought the possibility of freely confessing their faith.

From the very beginning of the current global outbreak of the coronavirus the clergy and faithful of our Diocese, desiring to preserve the health of the population and stop the spread of the coronavirus, and respecting those in power, rigorously strove to adhere to all the standard norms and restrictions introduced by local health authorities. Even though they were deprived of the reverent Divine Services of Great Lent and the joyous celebration of the Triumph of the Holy Resurrection, our parishioners were sympathetic to our directives, attending our churches “virtually.” However, we now observe a contradiction in that mass protests take place everywhere, at which absolutely all precautions are violated with impunity. Yet, liturgical singing performed during the Divine Services and while observing all of the rules, is forbidden. This is open discrimination, hypocrisy and the infringement of our religious rights, prompting us to recall the era of godless persecutions in the USSR.

Nonetheless, we will continue to pray with gratitude “for this land, its authorities and armed forces,” and “for this city, every city and country and all who in faith dwell therein.” Yet, at the same time, we will defend the rights of our clergy and our parishioners who possess full citizenship in the United States of America.

Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America
Secretary of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad