Sunday, December 10, 2017


Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Consultation meets in New Jersey

Paramus, NJ (SCOOCH) – After a one year hiatus, the US Roman Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Consultation reconvened on December 6-7 at New Jersey’s Mor Aphrem Center, hosted by H.E. Archbishop Dionysios Jean Kawak and the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of the Eastern United States on behalf of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches. The assembled clergy and lay theologians discussed a variety of issues relative to the two communions. Chief among them was the means by which each jurisdiction addresses the sad reality that in the modern day, many marriages end in divorce. Papers were presented on divorce and remarriage by Fr. Diran Bohajian of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Fr. Joseph Varghese of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church, and Fr. Yacoub Ghaly of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Other topics discussed included the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, the efforts of Dr. Robin Darling Young and other academics to create a digital history of the Christian communities of the Middle East, the recent visits of the Roman Catholic Pope to Armenia and Egypt, and the statement produced by the International Eastern Orthodox-Roman Catholic Dialogue on Synodality and Primacy During the First Millennium and its ramifications for dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church. V. Rev. Chorbishop Anthony DeLuca also presented a paper addressing obstacles towards the retention of Christian youth in a given church in the modern day.

Over the course of the two day event, vespers and matins were prayed in the Syriac Rite, led by H.E. Mor Dionysios and his clergy.

Participating members of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches included:

H.E. Mor Dionysios Jean Kawak (Syriac Orthodox Church)
H.E. Mor Titus Yeldho (Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church)
H.G. Bishop David (Coptic Orthodox Church)
V. Rev. Fr. Joseph Chamoun (Syriac Orthodox Church)
V. Rev. Chorebishop Anthony DeLuca (Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church)
V. Rev. Fr. Joseph Varghese (Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church)
Rev. Fr. Jerry Jacob (Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church)
V. Rev. Fr. Moises Bogdhady (Coptic Orthodox Church)
V. Rev. Fr. Yacoub Ghaly (Coptic Orthodox Church)
V. Rev. Fr. Athanasius Farag (Coptic Orthodox Church)
V. Rev. Fr. Dawoud Bebaby (Coptic Orthodox Church)
Rev. Fr. John Rizkalla (Coptic Orthodox Church)
V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan (Armenian Apostolic Church)
V. Rev. Fr. Tateos Abdalian (Armenian Apostolic Church)
V. Rev. Fr. Diran Bohajian (Armenian Apostolic Church)
Rev. Dn. Gebre Kristos Nicholas (Coptic Orthodox Church)
Rev. Dn. Eric Vozzy (Armenian Apostolic Church)

The Church in Guatemala is making us look lazy

Thursday, December 7, 2017

joint Jesus-Mohammed birthday celebration at UK church

(Christian Institute) - A Church of England church in London has come under fire for holding a joint birthday celebration for Jesus and Mohammed.

The “Milad, Advent and Christmas Celebration” took place on Sunday at All Saints Church in Kingston upon Thames.

In a promotional flier, the church said the service was “Marking the birthday of Prophet Mohammed and looking forward to the birthday of Jesus”.

The hour-long service included time for Islamic prayer and was followed by the cutting of a birthday cake.

Prominent Christian blogger Archbishop Cranmer castigated the church for its lack of reverence for Jesus.

He said the church was “rejoicing in both, eulogising both, solemnising both, glorifying both, honouring both”.

Cranmer questioned this “sensitively missional” approach, saying that exalting Mohammed in churches effectively proclaims that Mohammed is greater than Jesus.

He wrote: “Every time a church accords Mohammed the epithet ‘Prophet’, they are rejecting the cruxifixion, denying the resurrection of Christ, and refuting that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, for Mohammed denied all of these foundational tenets of the Christian faith.”

The church organised the event alongside the Kingston Inter Faith Forum and the South London Inter Faith Group.

Earlier this year, a passage from the Koran denying that Jesus is the Son of God was read during a service at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow.

The passage claims that Mary was “ashamed” after giving birth and that Jesus spoke to her from his crib.

At the time, the Revd Dr Gavin Ashenden, then chaplain to the Queen, referred to the reading as “blasphemy”, saying: “There are other and considerably better ways to build ‘bridges of understanding’”.

A belated blessed feast of St. Nicholas to all!

Well, belated to some, anticipatory to others.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Report says St. Nicholas Shrine defaulted

On the lookout for corroboration.

(Pappas Post) - Construction at the site of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox National Shrine at Ground Zero in New York City has been halted by the main construction company because the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has defaulted on payments, according to a letter sent by the company to its subcontractors working at the site.

The letter from the site’s main contractor, Skanksa USA Building, notifies its subcontractors to withdraw from the building site immediately. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Pappas Post by one of the project’s subcontractors that was working under Skanksa and the validity of the letter was verified by Skanksa.

St. Nicholas was the only house of worship destroyed on 9/11 when terrorists struck the World Trade Center. A massive fundraising campaign was undertaken to re-build the church, which was originally founded by Greek immigrants in the early 1900s when the Lower East Side of Manhattan was a thriving ethnic neighborhood.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has been rocked by a string of financial scandals over the past several months when it was revealed that monies from various restricted funds were “raided” to pay for day to day operations.

The complete text of the letter:

“Effective December 5, 2017, Skanska USA Building, Inc. (‘Skanska’) has terminated its contract with The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (‘GOA’), on account of GOA’s defaults in making payment under the Owner Contract. Skanska is demobilizing from the Project site.

Effective immediately, you are directed to stop all Work under the Subcontract, both on and off the Project site. Take measures to protect and secure your Work, demobilize from the Project site, and coordinate your efforts with Skanska’s project team.

If you elect not to remove materials or equipment promptly from the Project site, be advised that you may not be able to recover them later. Contact the Skanska project team concerning the transfer or cancellation of any permits you may have procured for the Project.

Skanska is continuing its pursuit of payment from GOA under the Owner Contract, together with any other remedies it may have on account of GOA’s breaches. We will advise you when there is progress toward a resolution with GOA.
Very Truly Yours,


Thomas W. Perry
Project Director

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pope of Alexandria presides over Divine Liturgy in Moscow

His Holiness Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and all Africa Theodore II has presided over the Grand Catholic Orthodox Divine Liturgy in Moscow.

The Divine Worship was celebrated also by:

His Holiness Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and all Palestine Theophilos III
His Holiness Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Cyril
His Holiness Orthodox Metropolitan of Belgrade Serbian Patriarch Irenaeus
His Holiness Orthodox Archbishop of Bucharest Romanian Patriarch Daniel
His Beatitude Orthodox Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and all Cyprus Chrysostom II
His Beatitude Orthodox Archbishop of Tirana and all Albania Anastasios
His Beatitude Orthodox Metropolitan of Warsaw and all Poland Sawa
His Beatitude Orthodox Archbishop of Preshov and all Czech and Slovak Lands Rastislav
His Beatitude Orthodox Archbishop of Washington and all America Tikhon
Orthodox Bishops from the Moscow Patriarchate and other local Orthodox Churches.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Russian Church provides results of study on Crete event

(ROC) - As a continuation on the topic raised in the presentation of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at the session of the Episcopal Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate and chairman of the Biblical-Theological Commission Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk spoke on the topic of the results of studying the documents of the Council of Crete (18th – 27th June 2016).

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church at its session on the 15th of July 2016 entrusted the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission with the task of, “upon receipt of officially verified copies of the documents approved by the Council of Crete, publishing these documents and studing them, taking into account the possible responses and comments of their Graces the bishops, the religious educational institutes and schools, theologians, clerics, monks and nuns, and to present the conclusions of this thorough study to the Holy Synod” (Journal no.48).

In touching upon the status of the Council of Crete in his speech, Metropolitan Hilarion reminded listeners that from the very outset of the pre-Conciliar process the principle of consensus among all the commonly recognized Local Autocephalous Churches was to be the basis for the taking of decisions at all events in preparation for the Pan-Orthodox Council. However, by June of 2016 this consensus in relation to the convocation of the Holy and Great Council was absent for a number of reasons. In particular, the delegation of the Patriarchate of Antioch did not sign the resolutions of the gathering if the First Hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches in Constantinople of 2014, among which was the resolution on the convocation of the Council in 2016, as well as the resolutions and a number of other documents (including the Council’s agenda) of the gathering of the First Hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches in Chambésy in 2016.

The draft of the Council document on the topic of marriage was not signed at the gathering of the First Hierarchs in 2016, nor by the delegation of the Church of Georgia.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Heads & delegates of the Local Orthodox Churches in Moscow

Friday, December 1, 2017

ROCOR playing role in Ukrainian reconciliation talks

Kiev, December 1 (Interfax) - The initiative for reconciliation with the Kiev Patriarchate was put forward by the Russian Orthodox Church with the mediation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Filaret, head of the Kiev Patriarchate, said.

"The initiative came from the Moscow Patriarchate. But not directly from Moscow to Kiev, but through New York, through Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia," the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev Patriarchate told a press conference in Kiev on Friday.

Old Believers want some episcopal representation

Moscow, December 1 (Interfax) - Leonid Sevastyanov, executive director of the Grigory Bogoslov Foundation and permanent member of the commission of Old Believer parishes in the Moscow Patriarchate, has called on members of the Bishops Council to ordain a separate bishop for Old Believers.

"I call on the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church to make a decision as soon as possible and ordain a one-faith bishop. Moreover, I support the idea of developing a Provision on the Old Rites in the Russian Orthodox Church, by which any community where a majority of members want to serve according to the old rites can do that. I am calling for the community to be brought back to the center of church life, resume elections of bishops and priests. Because a clergyman should serve the community, but the community does not have to serve the priest," Sevastyanov told Interfax-Religion.

By doing so, the Bishops' Council would implement the decision made at the 1917 Council, which the council was called to celebrate, he said.

Sevastyanov said he often hears complaints about unofficial internal persecution when he talks to Old Believers.

"The public life of Old Believers is now under a lot of pressure. Initiative is being suppressed. The old rites are not encouraged, and some priests who wish to serve according to the old rites are even subjected to disciplinary punishment," Sevastyanov said.

He also said he believes it is reasonable to give the Old Believer commission of the Russian Orthodox Church supervisory functions so it can defend the rights of Old Believers and all Orthodox people who want to pray and serve according to the old rites.

EP’s Thronal Feast of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle

The Mustard Seed, a resource for small church schools

( - Small church schools have unique needs. The Mustard Seed website was created several years ago as a way for the Antiochian Orthodox Department of Christian Education (AODCE) to support these needs. Through the vision and dedication of Catherine Sullivan, an Associate of the Department, materials and curriculum suitable for small church schools were selected and organized on The Mustard Seed website, with regular additions and updates.

We are saddened by the passing of Elaine Victoria Sullivan "Catherine" on April 7, 2017, in Charlotte, North Carolina, after courageously battling cancer for many years. Memory Eternal! We wish to recognize all of Catherine's efforts, including the creation of The Mustard Seed which laid the groundwork for serving the needs of the small church school. The support of small church schools through the Department continues, with The Mustard Seed shifting into a new phase: social media.

To read (and subscribe to) posts about resources/activities/staffing/training that are geared toward the life of small church schools, visit The Mustard Seed blog; and to join an online community of Orthodox Christian church school staff from schools of all sizes, visit the AODCE Church School Director Facebook page.

If you have questions, need assistance, or would like to join the Church School Director listserv, please send your name, parish and email address to us at

Filaret clarifies UOC-KP - Moscow relations

KYIV (RFERL) - The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Filaret, has said the Ukrainian church will never go back under the control of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Filaret told journalists in Kyiv on December 1 that the Russian Orthodox Church was "deceptive" on November 30 when it said he had written a letter to Russian Patriarch Kirill asking for forgiveness.

The Moscow Patriarchate excommunicated Filaret after he broke his Kyiv Patriarchate from Moscow in 1992.

"They now want to call us again to talks on a return to the Moscow Patriarchate," Filaret said. "First of all, I want to tell the Moscow patriarch and the Russian bishops that the Ukrainian church will never go back to the Moscow Patriarchate. Why is that? Because we have our own state. Don't you see how deceptive Moscow is? One cannot trust them."

Filaret added that in the letter, which was part of an exchange initiated by the Russian side, he wrote about a possible dialogue between the two churches. However, he requested that the Moscow Patriarchate recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church's autocephaly as a precondition for such talks.

Can I become a priest's wife?

My first thought here is that being a priest's wife is a very difficult thing. At the same time I've run into women who want to be the wife of a priest who neither know any available men or are even Orthodox! There's an image of what such a life is like that bears little resemblance to the actual experience. Just as with any endeavor, it's advisable to actually speak with women who have made this choice (and it is a choice because no good bishop lets a man become a priest without the wife's permission).

I'd recommend speaking to several women because one woman's paradise is another woman's nightmare. The cost of getting out of such a life is also very high - for the parish, for the husband, for the children, and for the marriage (if it should survive which it often doesn't). A new marriage is tough. A new marriage under the attentive eye of hundreds of people can feel oppressive.

Lastly, let me say that getting married to someone in the hopes that being a priest's wife is going to make you more holy is an awful idea. If you don't do your prayers now, if you don't fast, if you don't go to services now, you aren't going to magically start being the perfect Christian just because you are married to a priest. Don't fall for that illusion for even a moment.

( - Recently a letter came to Foma Magazine’s column entitled, “Questions to Priests”, addressed to priests’ wives instead of priests. It read, “I wonder if your magazine publishes articles such as, ‘I want to become a priest’s wife [in Russian: “matushka”, literally meaning “mother”]’, containing advice and recommendations of ladies who have already become priests’ wives, complete with counsel from the priests who have chosen them as their spouses. If you don’t, then it would be wonderful if publications on this theme could be written.”

We asked several pastors’ wives to answer this letter. Below is the answer of Anna Romashko, who is a priest’s wife and a mother of eight children.

by Anna Romashko
Translation by Dmitry Lapa

It would be so wonderful if we could open a book, entitled “A Manual”, or even “The Ladder of Perfection”, which would describe in detail the ascent of a priest’s wife to the heights of prosperous life, providing detailed recommendations, illustrative examples, and all the qualities required for becoming a pastor’s better half. Or if we could have a sort of, “Lives of the Holy Mothers” that would provide brief and happy stories of the priests’ wives who especially pleased God, complete with their spiritual accomplishments and selected instructions.

Alas, such books do not exist. And there is a reason. A young lady’s seemingly innocent longing “to become a priest’s wife” is actually dangerous. In my judgment, a young woman who wants to become a priest’s wife is none other than an incarnation of the popular “Zhdun” (“Zhdun” is the name given by Russian internet users to a new sculpture by the Dutch artist Margriet van Breevoort in 2016 for Leiden University. The character looks like the hybrid of an elephant, a walrus and a giant insect, and because of its ridiculous appearance it quickly became a popular Russian “meme star”. This word in Russian comes from “zhdat’” (“to wait”), and literally means “one who waits”.) who, unlike the real humble and good-natured personality, will inevitably turn into a depressive and ever discontented “female Zhdun”.

Let me put it more clearly; I’d better paraphrase it. This desire should be formulated this way: “I would like to become a priest’s wife. But may Thy will be done, O Lord! I want to become a true Christian, I wish to be pure, to be a helpmate to a future pastor, I am willing to support him in any place (even in a remote village), to give birth to as many children as Thou wilt give to me, to strive for righteous life above all, to give my love to all my nearest and dearest, to be meek and patient… In a word, Lord, help me become Thy faithful lamb. And may thy will be done in all other things.”

“Yet in real life all this is very different,” some readers may argue. From an outsider’s viewpoint, life of a cleric’s wife may seem very comfortable. True, dear readers, sometimes families of priests do have material wealth. And in some cases it provokes someone’s envy.