Sunday, October 2, 2022

Dialogue between Russian Church & the Copts continues

(ROC) - On September 20, His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, met at the Cathedral Church of Christ the Saviour with members of the Commission for Dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church, which is holding its session in Russia.

Among the participants in the meeting from the Russian Orthodox Church were Hieromonk Stephen (Igumnov), DECR secretary for inter-Christian relations, and S. G. Alferov, DECR, a member of the Commission.

The meeting was co-chaired by Metropolitan Serapion of Los Angeles, Coptic Church, who attended the meeting online. Present at the meeting were Bishop Cyril, secretary of the Commission, dean of the Ss Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria Seminary; Hieromonk Dawoud El Antony, representative of the Coptic Church in Russia; Dr Anton Milad, Patriarchal adviser; Ms Barbara Soliman, head of the Patriarchal department for church projects; and Dr Iskhak Ibrahim Agban, general secretary of the Institute of Coptic Studies.

‘We cherish the longstanding good and friendly relations that tie our two Churches, and, certainly, the ages-old friendship between the peoples of Egypt and Russia’, Patriarch Kirill said welcoming the delegation of the Coptic Church, ‘Now we are going through a special history of international relations, which in many cases are breaking, becoming more strained and burdened with conflicts. However, we should thank the Lord for the relations between our Churches as well as our countries, Russia and Egypt, which are invariably good and lasting’.The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church stressed that in recent years, the development of her relations with Churches in Africa became one of the priorities of the Moscow Patriarchate’s external work. His Holiness recalled that in December 2021 the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church established the Patriarchal Exarchate for Africa, which has created an additional potent base for developing cooperation with the Coptic Church in the continent.

Notes from Romanian Church's synod meeting

( - The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church met under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel at “Patriarch Teoctist” Aula Magna of the Patriarchal Palace for a working session on Thursday, September 29, 2022.

The main decisions of the Holy Synod are the following:

A. The Holy Synod established the “Praying Theotokos” Order for hierarchs, clerics and laypeople;

B. The enrollment conditions for the doctorate in Theology were reconfirmed;

C. Several proposals of the Holy Synod’s Committee for pastoral, monastic and social issues regarding the Sacrament of Confession and spiritual guidance were approved:

1. Holy Confession is performed inside the church, in front of an icon of Christ the Saviour, so that the person who confesses has the most vivid awareness of the presence of God by their side and by the spiritual father during confession;

2. The spiritual father has first of all the duty to listen and then to ask delicately, to help the penitent to be as sincere as possible during confession;

3. The Seal of Confession cannot be conditioned by any material or other interest;

4. Every spiritual father must also have a spiritual father to whom they can confess constantly;

5. The spiritual father must be a cleric with a mature spiritual life who has freed himself from the bondage of carnal passions and cultivates the virtue of holiness;

6. Strict observance of the appropriate framework for Confession, that is, its performance in the place of worship or, exceptionally, in an open and visible space adjacent to the church;

7. Avoid any gesture or word that could be interpreted as inappropriate familiarity with the penitent (inappropriate jokes or indecent gestures).

The Holy Synod requests the dioceses to periodically organise consultations with priests regarding the proper celebration of the Holy Mysteries, as well as catechesis with the faithful regarding their rite and spiritual significance.

Ancient Faith has new head

( – The Ancient Faith Ministries (AFM) Board of Directors has named Melinda Johnson the new CEO of the Orthodox media outreach operating Ancient Faith Radio, Ancient Faith Publishing, and related ventures. Johnson replaces AFM founder and CEO John Maddex, who will be retiring from the position on January 1, 2023.

First hired as the AFM Director of Marketing, Johnson later served as the Communications Director of the ministry before being appointed to the CEO position earlier this year. She is an Orthodox Christian, khouria, mother, and the author of multiple children's books. Johnson earned an M.A. in English literature from The College of William and Mary and worked in a variety of nonprofit and for-profit settings before joining AFM.

"The AFM Board is 100% behind Melinda as our incoming CEO. Her passion and enthusiasm for bringing the ancient Faith to the world is tangible and infections!" said Board Chairman Dn. Tom Braun. "We are excited to support her in her leadership role as we see how God will use her talents to further His Kingdom!"

Outgoing CEO John Maddex commented, "Retiring from a ministry you love and had a hand in creating is never easy, especially when things are going so well. The selection of Melinda Johnson to be my replacement just made it very much easier. Her infectious enthusiasm for the work that we produce here is second to none. I can tell you without a doubt that the best years are ahead for AFM under her strong and capable leadership."

Succeeding Johnson as the Director of Marketing and Communications is Ellie Shackleford, a recent graduate of Wheaton College who formerly served as the AFM Social Media Coordinator.

Pat. Theodore II of Alexandria to receive award from Archons

I'm delighted - nay surprised - to see them pick someone who is not actively working against the Church and what it believes. Sadly, recent awardees have been such and some have even been so contrary to the faith that the Archons scrubbed them from their website. 

(Orthodox Times) - Archbishop Elpidophoros of America is pleased to welcome Pope and Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and all Africa to the United States, where he will receive the 2022 Athenagoras Human Rights Award from the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarch in America, at their annual Banquet on Saturday, October 8, 2022.

The Patriarch will be honored for his “tireless” defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and “determined advocacy for religious freedom.” He is also recognized for his extraordinary ministry in Africa.

Following his arrival on October 5, Patriarch Theodore will visit New York City and Washington, DC. He is scheduled to meet with local religious leaders, including Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, and will have the opportunity to visit a number of Greek Orthodox communities and learn about the spiritual and cultural life of the Omogeneia in America.

Patriarch Theodore will be accompanied by the Metropolitans George of Guinea and Metropolitan Nikodimos of Memphis, as well as Sub-Deacon Moses Kariuki Maina. The visit— the Patriarch’s first to the United States— is scheduled to continue through October 12, 2022.

Monday, September 26, 2022

"... all sins forgiven" for those who die in Ukraine

(Orthodox Times) - The head of the Russian Orthodox Church said that Russian soldiers dying in the war against Ukraine would be forgiven, a few days after the partial mobilization ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

Patriarch Kirill is an ally of Putin and has supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He has criticized those who oppose the war in the past and called on the Russians to rally around the Kremlin.

“Many die in the fields of fratricidal war,” said 75-year-old Kirill in his first Sunday speech after the draft order. “The Church prays that this battle will end as soon as possible, so that as few brothers as possible will kill each other in this fratricidal war.”

“But at the same time, the Church realizes that if someone, driven by a sense of duty and the need to fulfill his oath… goes to do what he is called to do and if someone dies in the performance of that duty, then he has undoubtedly committed something that amounts to a sacrifice. He will have sacrificed himself for others. And therefore, we believe that this sacrifice washes away all the sins committed by such a man.”

Kirill’s support for the war in Ukraine has deepened the rift between the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox Churches around the world.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Caretaker committees filling gap for Antiochians

(Antiochian) - To our beloved in the Lord, the Hierarchs, Priests, Deacons, Members of the Board of Trustees, and Faithful of our Holy Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America,

I greet you in Christ, lifting up my prayers for your protection.

In accordance with the pertinent Antiochian Laws and Regulations,

whereas His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH Zehlaoui submitted his Retirement Letter from his position as Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of New York and All North America;

and whereas the resignation request, along with the circumstances related to it, makes the resignation effective immediately;

and whereas it is necessary to ensure the proper care and administration of the Archdiocese, especially in these current circumstances.

Therefore, we inform you that the pastoral, administrative, and financial affairs of the Archdiocese shall be managed by a "Temporary Operating Committee for the Oversight of the Archdiocesan Office." This Committee works according to the Patriarch's directives. Its work is effective immediately, and until a Patriarchal Vicar is appointed. It is composed of the following members:

His Grace Bishop John Abdalah, Committee Chairman;

Mr. Fawaz El Khoury, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees;

Mr. Salim Abboud, Chief Financial Officer;

Archdeacon Emile Sayegh, Chancellor;

Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar General.

With my love in Christ.

Damascus, 23 September 2022.


Patriarch of Antioch and all the East 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Abp. Elpidophoros on baptism and the Greek language

Two points on the below:
  • One, baptism is not inoculation.  It is not Thetis dipping Achilles in the River Styx. It is not blood thrown against the lintel of your front door. It is in fact asking more of someone in their life and not less. It is obliging not only the person baptized, but also the godparents, and the parents to live a life according to the dogma and discipline and ethos of the Church. A baby cannot autodidactically teach himself what that means. So it is especially important that both the sponsors and the parents intend to make it their primary mission in life to fulfill this promise to Christ and His Church. 
  • Two, if you were to be presented this and spoke no Greek, would you have any idea what it is? Does it look especially appetizing? I would say that the proof would be in the tasting and not in the packaging. Then I could say whether it was worth purchasing or not. And yet the below purports to say that the loss of the Greek language is the chief problem in the Greek Archdiocese. Not birth rates, not marrying non-Orthodox, not poor catechesis, it's the language. And yet, when I have served at Greek parishes and spoken to the people, few people were native speakers or even able to articulate much more than a few choice phrases. The diminishing return of using a language more and more foreign to the people you wish to have "taste and see" would seem to point to language just being a wrapper and not and end in itself. Greek of course has a special place in the Church, but I hazard a guess that if we all spoke Esperanto tomorrow, I could evangelize with the same ability I have today. The Gospel message is timeless and not bounded by any linguistic borders.

(Espresso) [machine translated] - "Anyone who asks me to baptize their child will do so , regardless of who they are. I baptize children and I don't care about the personal life of their parents. I don't judge people's lives."

These words of the Archbishop of America Elpidophoros , whom "Espresso" had the opportunity to travel with on one of his many trips to Greece , give his own dimension to the issue that broke out and the negative publicity that the baptism of children had received of a same-sex couple (s.s.: Evangelos Bousis and Petre Dundas), which he performed two months ago in the Holy Church of Panagia Faneromeni, in Vouliagmeni.

He didn't get a chance to take a clear stand on the matter, but we as a column had the chance to hear his take on it, on a half-hour plane ride, during which we were lucky enough to sit side by side.

The hierarch, after giving his own explanations on the topic that "Espressso" dealt with extensively on its front pages, showed that he is very worried about the Greek language, which, as he told us, is slowly being lost among the diaspora. This he considers to be the number 1 current problem of the American diaspora.

"Unfortunately, schools in the diaspora are closed every year . The problem is that the Greek language is being lost, slowly but surely. That is why I undertook many related actions. I found money from our expatriates and built a first center to save the language. But what is primarily needed is for the children to come to Greece. We need to get expatriates to visit the country with their families. Because it is different when you learn something in theory and different when you experience it.

When you have an image of Greece and have experienced it, you never forget that, and then you will want to learn to speak its language" Elpidophoros told us with the blue eyes, which, as he revealed to us, he got from his mother and his grandfather. Finally, the day before yesterday, the Archbishop of America met at the headquarters of the Archdiocese of America, in New York, with the former prime minister and president of the Socialist International George Papandreou.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Enthronement of New First Hierarch of ROCOR

Saturday, September 17, 2022

American Antiochians lose hierarch as Met. Joseph retires

Interestingly, the AOCNA will continue to commemorate Met. Joseph on Sunday.

( - To our Beloved in the Lord, The Hierarchs, Priests, Deacons, Members of the Board of Trustees, and Spiritual Children of our Holy Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America,

I greet you in Christ, lifting up my prayers for your protection.

Further to my previous letters to you at this critical period in the life of the Archdiocese, I would like through the present letter to inform you of the following:

First, we have received from His Eminence, the Most Reverend JOSEPH Zehlaoui, Metropolitan of New York and Archbishop of all North America, his Retirement Letter from his position as Metropolitan of the Archdiocese.

Second, we will duly forward the letter of His Eminence to the Holy Synod to take the necessary actions accordingly.

Third, the immediate effect of the resignation of His Eminence the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese and the circumstances related to it necessitate from us, as patriarch, to take appropriate measures in order to ensure the proper care and administration of the Archdiocese, in preparation for the next phase. We will inform you of these measures in due course.

Fourth, we ask the Lord to give Metropolitan JOSEPH many years of good health, that he “may complete the remaining time of his life in peace and repentance,” in a manner well-pleasing to the Lord, and in His Grace.

Fifth, last but not least, I call upon you again to remain united in prayer, and we are with you in this before the Lord, asking for the wellbeing of the Archdiocese and of each and everyone member in it, both clergy and laity. We put our hope in the Lord, and He always does not disappoint those who rely on Him with faith.

With our Apostolic blessings.

Damascus, 17 September 2022.


Patriarch of Antioch and all the East 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

New composition of EP's Holy Synod

You may have said to yourself, "Well, Abp. Elpidophoros is not being thought of kindly by the Church of Greece or by his own archdiocesan hierarchs. Certainly they aren't going to elevate him to a position of even higher authority where he can do more damage." That version of you would be surprised by the below.

(Orthodox Times) - The Ecumenical Patriarchate announced the new members who will form the Holy Synod for the semester 01.09.2022 – 28.02.2023, chaired by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

The Synodal Hierarchs for the new semester are:

Elder Apostolos of Derkoi, Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, Nikandros of Irenoupolis, Polykarpos of Italy, Stephanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, Elpidophoros of America, Gerasimos of Petra and Chersonissos, Bartholomew of Smyrna, Kirill of Ierapytnos and Sitia, Vissarion of Spain and Portugal, Andreas of Saranta Ekklisies and Joachim of Prusa.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

On the commemoration of Patriarch Kirill

Latvian Church responds to government's designs

Moscow, September 12 (Interfax) - The Latvian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has given a reserved response to the Latvian parliament's decision to "grant' autocephaly to it.

"The government has established the status of our Church as autocephalous. The government has established that the Latvian Orthodox Church is de jure independent from any church center outside Latvia, while preserving spiritual, prayer and liturgical communion with all canonical Orthodox Churches of the world. The changed status does not alter the Orthodox faith, dogmas, the liturgical life of the Church, the calendar style, the sacred liturgical language, rites, traditions, and inner church life," the church press service said.

The Synod of the Latvian Orthodox Church "lovingly calls on the clergy and laity to maintain a peaceful disposition of the spirit" and the unity of the Church, strictly observing the laws of Latvia," it said.

Last Thursday, the Latvian Saeima passed in the final reading the amendments to the Law on the Latvian Orthodox Church, submitted by President Egils Levits. The amendments adjust the status of the Latvian Orthodox Church, which becomes fully autonomous and independent. The Latvian Orthodox Church is due to reconcile its charter with the amendments to the Church status law by October 31.

The Latvian parliament's decision has been criticized by the Moscow Patriarchate, which noted a flagrant interference of secular authorities in church affairs. Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, an advisor to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, said that the Latvian authorities "outdid the Middle Ages" by their decision.

Bp. Daniel: Sermon on the Feast of the Cross

A new Primate for ROCOR

(ROCOR) - On Tuesday, 13 September, 2022, the election of the new Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia by its Council of Bishops took place. In accordance with the Act of Canonical Communion, signed on 17 May, 2007, the Council will send the Act of the election, drafted by the counting committee to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia with a request to bless the electee to assume the duties of the First Hierarch entrusted to him by his brethren archpastors, and for confirmation of the election by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The rite of enthronement of His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Eastern America and New York, newly-elected First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, will take place on Sunday, 18 September.

The schedule of divine services associated with the enthronement is as follows:

Saturday, 17 September - all-night vigil at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign” at 6 pm.

At the end of the service, the newly-elected Primate will emerge through the Royal Doors in a black klobuk and common bishop’s mantle and face the congregation. Two senior hierarchs will then present a white klobuk and blue mantle, which the newly-elected First Hierarch will don, aided by subdeacons. At this moment, the senior-most hierarch will announce “Axios” (“he is worthy”) which will be repeated first by the bishops then by the choir. After this, the Primate will bless the clergy and congregants. Before this, the blue mantle and white klobuk will be blessed with holy water by the most senior of the hierarchs of the Russian Church Abroad during the reading of the First Hour.

Sunday, 18 September - Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral at 9:30 am.

After the reading of the entrance prayers and the customary vesting of the two senior hierarchs, the new Metropolitan will be escorted to the vesting area, when “Axios” will be repeated by the hierarchs and clergy, then by the choir. Divine Liturgy will commence in the customary manner. After the service, a moleben will be performed along with the entrusting of the archpastoral staff to the new Primate, which was blessed on the crypt of St Tikhon, All-Russian Patriarch and Confessor.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Latvian Orthodox Church seeks independence from Moscow

Riga, September 8 (Interfax) - The Latvian Saeima at a plenary session on Thursday passed in the final reading amendments to the law on the Latvian Orthodox Church (LOC) submitted by President Egils Levits, which envision changing the LOC status so that it would operate fully autonomously and independently, the BNS news agency reported.

The LOC used to act under the Moscow Patriarchate. According to Levits, the amendments will reinstate the LOC's historical status and rule out any authority of the Moscow Patriarchate over the Latvian Church.

The law stipulates that the LOC with all its dioceses, parishes and institutions is completely independent and not dependent on the authority of any Church outside Latvia.

The law establishes a fully autocephalous status for the Church and stipulates that it will be headed by a primate of the Church who is not dependent on any Church authority outside of Latvia.