Sunday, June 23, 2024

Met. Constantine enthroned in Denver Metropolis

Thursday, June 20, 2024

A step closer to a new Patriarch of Bulgaria

(Orthodox Times) - Metropolitans Grigory of Vratsa, Daniil of Vidin, and Gavriil of Lovchan have been selected to form the triprosopon, from which the new Patriarch of Bulgaria will be chosen.

The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Church convened today to elect these three Metropolitans, who will be considered for succession following the late Patriarch Neophytos. During this process, several Metropolitans were not eligible for election due to age and experience requirements outlined in the Charter of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

Specifically, Metropolitan Antony of Western and Central Europe, Metropolitan Seraphim of Nevrokop, and Metropolitan Cyprian of Stara Zagora did not meet the age requirement of 50 years, as specified in Article 40, paragraph 2. Additionally, Metropolitan Yakov of Dorostol did not qualify due to the requirement in Article 40, paragraph 3, which mandates five years of service as a Metropolitan. Metropolitan Arsenij of Sliven was also ineligible due to both reasons mentioned.

According to the results of the vote, Metropolitan Grigory of Vratsa received 11 votes, while Metropolitans Daniil of Vidin and Gavriil of Lovchan each received 9 votes. These Metropolitans secured the required two-thirds majority of the synodal bishops’ votes, as stipulated in Articles 45 and 47 of the Charter, thus deeming them worthy candidates for the Patriarchal throne.

The election and enthronement of the new Patriarch of Bulgaria are scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 30, in Sofia, in the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. “I received a kind letter from our brother and locum tenens, Metropolitan Grigory of Vratsa, inviting me to be present at the election and enthronement of the new Primate of the Bulgarian Church. It is very kind of you to extend this personal invitation to the Ecumenical Patriarch for such a historic moment in your Church’s life,” the Ecumenical Patriarch said on Saturday, May 18, when he welcomed a large delegation from the Holy Church of Bulgaria at the headquarters of the Mother Church.

The Ecumenical Patriarch mentioned that although he had planned to visit the Holy Metropolis of Arta on June 30, the date of the election, he would endeavor to adjust his schedule. “I consider this invitation very important and blessed, and I hope the Metropolitan of Arta will understand and allow us to modify the program.”

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The deaconess in the Syriac Orthodox Church

An interesting thing about the Oriental Orthodox Church (pictures taken from this recent article) is the role of deacon and deaconess is thought of quite differently from the way the Orthodox Church does. This confuses many people as what we call a deacon with all his responsibilities is not comparable. In the way in which we historically set people aside for a role before they were allowed into the altar, they make young men deacons. To go into the altar you needed to be a taper bearers, readers, subdeacon, etc. and the Oriental Church throws all of that into different ranks of deacons. And for deaconesses, this permits women to sing in the choir. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Archpriest James Bernstein has reposed in the Lord

It would be hard to overstate the influence Fr. James had on American Orthodoxy. Surprised by Christ alone brought many people to the Church. And his constant evangelism and willingness to speak to all comers endeared him to many, many people. I fully expect his writings, talks, and pastoral love of Christ to resonate for many years to come.

( - Archpriest James Bernstein, 78, reposed in the Lord Jesus Christ in the early morning hours of June 17, 2024, surrounded by his family.

Arnold Bernstein, better known as Fr. James, was born May 6,1946 to Isaac and Belle Bernstein in Lansing, Mich. Soon thereafter, the family moved to Queens, New York. Young "Arnie" grew up helping in his father's candy store and playing chess, even winning the U.S. Junior Chess Championship at 16. At home, his parents spoke Yiddish to one another, but chose not to teach the language Arnie or his brother Solomon because they wanted them to be more "American." Still, their Jewish roots and ancestry were deeply entwined in their lives and identity. 

As a teenager, Arnie obtained a copy of the New Testament, and his life took a dramatic turn as he felt called to learn more about Christianity and Jesus Christ. This was difficult; he read the Scriptures secretly under his bedcovers with a flashlight to avoid creating conflict in the family. Eventually, his deep thirst for Christ and His truth resulted in a revelation in which "the inner light went on and God became ever-present."

At 20, Arnold was sent to Jerusalem to stay with family; his father hoped this would help him embrace Judaism. However, Arnold returned home still firmly committed to Christ. 

At 24, Arnold moved to California and helped establish "Jews for Jesus," a Hebrew Christian outreach organization. He also became more involved in the "Jesus Movement," ministering to both Jews and Gentiles. He became a member of the "Christian World Liberation Front" and was involved in Christian Street Theater.

Arnold met his beloved wife Bonnie at a Christian retreat and as Fr. James later recalled, "the winter's cold could not diminish the blossoming of love's flower at our first encounter." The couple was married seven months later in July of 1971. Their shared Christian faith was central to their lives and their commitment to God and one another set the foundation for a blessed marriage.

Over the next 11 years, Arnold and Bonnie welcomed their four children: Heather, Holly, Peter and Mary. In 1979, they entered the Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC), and Arnold became a pastor. Still, he continued his search for "the Church that created the New Testament," ultimately discovering and joining the Orthodox Christian church in 1981.

Arnold felt called to the priesthood, and in fall 1985 returned to New York, entering St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. In 1988, at 42, Arnold was ordained a priest and given the name Fr. James. Bonnie became known as Khouria (Kh.) Martha. Bonnie also obtained her master's degree in midwifery from Columbia University. Fr. James would say, "What a team we were… she could deliver babies and I could baptize them!"

In the fall of 1990, Fr. James was assigned to serve as the priest of St. Paul Church in Lynnwood, Wash., a small Antiochian mission of 30 souls. Soon the church expanded, and the congregation built their own temple in nearby Brier. Fr. James catechized many inquirers, and through the grace of God, St. Paul Church grew, matured and thrived. His evangelical roots remained central to his priesthood. Through his pastoral outreach, Fr. James met Fr. David Hovik, then a Protestant pastor, and shepherded Fr. David and his congregation (St. Andrew Church of Arlington, Wash.) into Orthodoxy.

There were countless highlights to his priesthood, such as when a smiling, exuberant Fr. James, dressed in white Paschal vestments on Holy Saturday would joyfully throw rose petals and sprinkle holy water on the faithful. For 27 years, he ministered to his beloved congregation as a teacher; catechizing, baptizing, marrying and burying his flock.

Fr. James was also a strong supporter of the establishment of St. Thomas Church in Snohomish, Wash., a congregation led by Fr. David Sommer, his very own son-in-law! For many years, moreover, Fr. James served as the dean of the Pacific Northwest Deanery, fostering and building many lifelong friendships with his brother priests. In 2008, Fr. James published his book "Surprised by Christ" which has touched countless lives and led many to Christ and Orthodoxy. His book has been published in seven languages.

In 2017, Fr. James retired from pastoral ministry. He and Kh. Martha moved to Snohomish to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Over the next seven years, he deeply enjoyed his leisurely days, spending quality time with those he loved. 

An informal ministry continued as Fr. James became a beloved fixture in downtown Snohomish. There, he made a daily trip to the bakery with his son Peter, where they would sit for hours conversing with each other and passersby. Fr. James was always recognizable, carrying the leather satchel housing his book and booklets, pipe, tobacco and harmonica. He was always eager to enter into conversation about the Orthodox faith and gifted many of his books to those interested. He attended St. Thomas Church, serving alongside his son-in-law.

We remember Fr. James with love and affection: his humility, honesty, easy and bright smile, unexpected sense of humor, and, always, his humble and unwavering faith in his Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Fr. James shared Orthodoxy with an unwavering enthusiasm. He had a great impact on so many; his life is a testimony as Fr. James sought Christ with his whole heart. Our beloved father will be greatly missed.

In the 'phenomenal' words of Fr. James, "There you have it!" Glory to God for all things! Christ is risen! Memory eternal!

Fr. James is survived by his wife Khouria Martha (Bonnie); children Khouria Heather (Fr. David) Sommer, Holly Bernstein, Peter Bernstein, Mary (James) Curry; and grandchildren John (Audrey), Nicholas, Ephramia, Elizabeth, and Irene Sommer; Violet Bernstein, Noah, Levi, Lina and Sarah Curry.

Funeral information:

Wednesday, June 19

7:00 a.m. Divine Liturgy at St. Paul Church, St. Paul Church, 21236 Poplar Way, Brier, WA 98036.

10:00 a.m. Funeral Service

Three Holy Hierarchs Romanian Orthodox Church, 6402 226th St. SW, Mountlake Terrace, WA 98043.

In lieu of flowers, Fr. James requested donations be made to the St. Thomas Church building fund, P.O. Box 1367, Snohomish, WA 98291.

His Eminence Metropolitan Saba and the hierarchs, clergy and laity of the Antiochian Archdiocese extend their love and sympathies to the family and friends of Fr. James. May his memory be eternal!

Monday, June 17, 2024

Go check out the Orthodox Studies Institute

They are putting out good stuff over there. Want to see a reasoned take on the female "diaoconate" or the current priest shortage? The OSI has got you.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Episcopal Assembly executive meeting in NJ

NEW JERSEY (EA) – The Assembly of Bishops Executive Committee was held at the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America on June 4, 2024.

The meeting began with a financial report followed by the approval of new board members for Orthodox Christian Prison Ministries (“OCPM”), Orthodox Christian Fellowship (“OCF”), and Orthodox Volunteer Corps (“OVC”).

The Executive Committee then agreed to designate Sunday of Orthodoxy as “Assembly of Bishops Sunday” in order to celebrate the good work of the Assembly with Orthodox Christians nationwide. Each year there will be a Pan-Orthodox encyclical issued to all the Orthodox parishes in the country.

The Hierarchs then reviewed the proposed agenda for the upcoming annual meeting of the Assembly of Bishops in Atlanta from September 28th – October 1st. They also received updates on the Inter-Parish Associations, the Accessibility Ministry, as well as other programs in common.

During their meeting, the Executive Committee lamented the violence and divisions that have affected Ukraine and Gaza. As peacemakers, intercessors for healing and reconciliation, they encourage the whole of humanity to metanoia, to repentance and spiritual conversion, returning to the ways of forgiveness, compassion, peace, and love as taught by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Finally, on behalf of the entire Assembly of Bishops, the members of the Executive Committee extend their sincere wishes for a blessed Paschal season and Pentecost!

A bevy of "Archiepiscopal Vicars" for Antiochian Archdiocese

(Antiochian) - 

Metropolitan Saba's Letter Concerning Diocesan Oversight Assignments 


Prot. no.: 255/2024

June 10, 2024

Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, and Christ-loving Faithful of our Archdiocese,

Christ is risen!

Since my arrival as your Metropolitan, I have been concerned that two dioceses of our vast archdiocese are without a bishop to oversee them: Los Angeles and the West, and Wichita and Mid-America. Although we are not yet ready for an election of new bishops, I want to ensure that these dioceses have the attention and care they need.

In particular, during my recent travels in the West, I saw firsthand that our clergy and parishes there need an experienced bishop, since they have for a long time been without a local bishop who permanently resides among them. Therefore, I have asked His Grace Bishop Anthony—who has served well and faithfully for many years—to move to Los Angeles and serve as Bishop in the West. We are grateful that he has taken this diocese’s needs to heart and accepted this assignment, which will be effective August 1, 2024.

With His Grace’s transfer to Los Angeles, I am assigning the Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Jeremy (Davis) as Archiepiscopal Vicar for the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. Additionally, I am assigning the Rev. Hieromonk Calinic (Berger) as Archiepiscopal Vicar for the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America—God-willing, I will elevate him to the rank and dignity of Archimandrite this Thursday, on the Feast of the Ascension. Finally, I am assigning the Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Paul (Matar) as Archiepiscopal Vicar for the Diocese of New York and Washington, D.C., so that these parishes can have special care and attention as I can focus on archdiocesan matters. All of these assignments will also be effective August 1, 2024.

Met. Nicholas of NY interviewed as he visits Serbia with Kursk-Root icon

Thursday, May 30, 2024

OCA takes strong stand for canonical Orthodoxy

( - The primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of Washington and All America and Canada, will concelebrate with the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, in western Ukraine later this week.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Diocese of Chernivtsi and Bukovina “awaits the visit of the primate of the Orthodox Church in America on June 1–2, 2024. Solemn services will be held in the Cathedral of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Chernivtsi, with the participation of both primates.”

The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America formally rejects communion with the schismatics of the “Orthodox Church in Ukraine,” recognizing only the canonical UOC under Met. Onuphry.

The Ukrainian primate was the honored guest at the OCA’s 18th All-American Council in July 2015.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Prayers for Fr. James Bernstein

The Very Rev. A. James Bernstein was a teenage chess champion whose dramatic conversion experience at the age of 16 led him to Christianity. His spiritual journey has included a number of twists and turns: he was chapter president of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at Queens College, helped found the Jews for Jesus ministry in San Francisco, was a staff member of the Christian World Liberation Front in Berkeley, served as a pastor of an Evangelical Orthodox Church near Silicon Valley, and later became an Eastern Orthodox convert and then priest. He lives with his wife Bonnie outside of Seattle, Washington, where he serves as pastor of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church. Father James is the author of several AFP topical booklets: Orthodoxy: Jewish and Christian; Which Came First: The Church or the New Testament; Communion: A Family Affair: Heaven and Hell; and The Orthodox Christian Gospel. He was also a contributor to the Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms (Thomas Nelson, 1993).

Fr. Josiah Trenham in Romania

Friday, May 17, 2024

A new hierarch for the Metropolis of Denver

(GOARCH) - His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America is pleased to announce that the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate accepted the Holy Eparchial Synod’s petition and unanimously elected His Grace Bishop Constantine of Sassima as the new Metropolitan of the Holy Metropolis of Denver at its meeting today.

His Eminence Metropolitan Constantine of Denver was born in Baltimore on October 30th, 1966. He graduated from Hellenic College (BA) in 1991 and Holy Cross (Master of Divinity) in 1994. Thereafter, he was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1994 and has served the Sacred Archdiocese of America in various capacities ever since as an Archimandrite and Presiding Priest at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Baltimore, and as Chancellor of the Holy Metropolises of New Jersey and Denver, respectively. Furthermore, he has served on the Archdiocesan Council and the Board of Trustees at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Most recently, he served the pastoral and liturgical needs of the Holy Metropolis of Denver.

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros has directed the clergy of the Holy Metropolis of Denver to commemorate the canonical name of their new Shepherd in the divine services. The Archbishop also expressed his gratefulness to the Locum Tenens of the Holy Metropolis of Denver, His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago, for his loving and faithful archpastoral oversight of the metropolis, its clergy, and faithful.

The Enthronement of His Eminence Metropolitan Constantine of Denver will take place on Saturday, June 22, 2024, at 10:00 a.m., at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Assumption in Denver, Colorado. The following day, Sunday of the Holy Pentecost, His Eminence will celebrate his first Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral as the new Metropolitan of Denver.

Met. Saba: "May God protect us from replacing Orthodox unity with an Orthodox union."

Metropolitan Saba (Isper) posted this article today entitled "What is the goal?" on the topic of the so-called "deaconess" issue wherein a woman was "ordained" to be a deaconess in Africa. This differs from the status quo in Alexandria where women were set aside as deaconesses in a non-liturgical role. They vested her like a deacon and had her communing people. All to the surprise of not only the world, but from the patriarch's letter, from the patriarchate as well. You can read more about that here

Internet response to this has ranged from "Finally our day has come!" to "Maranatha!" from the people you would assume would say which. For my part, Orthodox unity right now seems to be hanging on by a thread. We are one event from a de facto dissolution of the Assembly of Bishops as a functional body.

We can only hope more jurisdictions are similarly disposed to speak publicly on this as His Eminence was. One thing is for certain: putting your head in the sand and pretending like it is not happening or that it will go away is not going to resolve this even a little bit.

(AOCANA) - During Holy Week, ecclesiastical media reported news of the ordination of a liturgical deaconess in one of the churches in Zimbabwe, Africa, affiliated with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. I won't delve into the subject of ordaining a deaconess. That's a matter I'll leave to theologians and synods, for now. In this article, I'll simply raise some questions stemming from this event. Such an event requires Orthodox consensus, as any ecclesiastical action outside Orthodox consensus and unanimity poses a danger and leads to undesirable consequences. How much more so a matter as sensitive as this, especially at this time, would be considered a step towards the ordination of women to the priesthood.

There is no doubt that a deep and faithful study of the Christian heritage, especially the Orthodox one, and the pastoral needs required by the Church in today's world, is urgently needed for this topic. However, resorting to individual decisions remains more dangerous than any step its proponents might perceive as beneficial to the Church. Theological studies require scientific honesty and objectivity, not manipulation of information to serve personal agendas. Here, the role of the pure saints, not just scholars and researchers, is highlighted, lest we negate what we have been saying for centuries, that theology is the experience of God's presence, not just rational or philosophical thinking.

My deliberations stem from a concern for Orthodox unity, which I see in danger due to the absence of dialogue among the churches and the spread of individualism within them, to the point where the fear of following the footsteps of Protestant-type individualism is imminent. May God protect us from replacing Orthodox unity with an Orthodox union.

The existence of deaconesses in the early Church needs further clarification. Our historical information does not confirm that all churches witnessed the service of deaconesses, but rather some, especially large churches and in major cities. Moreover, the distinction between the service of deaconesses and the service of widows also needs further exploration. Our available information indicates that the service of deaconesses included several aspects, such as guarding and overseeing the women's section in the church; according to the social custom in the past, women and men each stood in designated areas of the nave. Also, deaconesses assisted women in baptisms, such as anointing their bodies with oil. Furthermore, deaconesses may have been responsible for teaching women, but not all scholars agree on this. In the fourth service, based on the social tradition of the past, deaconesses accompanied women when they needed to meet with the bishop, as it was forbidden for a bishop to meet with a woman alone.

There came a time when this ministry fell into disuse in the Church. We do not know the exact reasons for its disappearance. Don't we need studies to show the reasons why? Don't we need to clarify its fields of service before adopting it in our churches? Is its acceptance consistent with Orthodox tradition and understanding of the ordained priesthood? Can it be limited to educational service and service of love in all its forms? What are the boundaries between this ministry and the ministry of the faithful (laity)? What are the motives behind giving it a liturgical role? Why is this role necessary?

If this type of service is authentic, should we demand it, and does the Church really need it? To what extent do we demand it as influenced by humanistic and feminist movements? What is motivating the Church to activate its pastoral service: theological thought or worldly thought? How does the Church respond to the faith, moral, and humanitarian challenges facing today's societies? On what basis does the Church build its pastoral programs, social or theological?

Moreso, what is the effect of accepting deaconesses and female priests in non-Orthodox churches that have adopted this phenomenon? Has this acceptance increased their spiritual and numerical growth, or the opposite? Is accepting deaconesses a first step towards accepting priestesses? What would be the effect of having male and female priests on the spiritual and theological concept of the priesthood? To what extent does this contribute to the secularization or degeneration of the priesthood and considering it a religious function? What is the psychological effect of having both sexes around the Holy Table?

Where will the Orthodox Church end up if each church continues to adopt what it deems appropriate without consulting and agreeing among all Orthodox churches? Where is the collective spirit that distinguishes Orthodoxy? What about the unity of the Faith? And what will unite Orthodox Churches if practices without unanimous agreement begin to appear here and there?

Do those who applaud the emergence of deaconesses think about the future of Orthodox unity? How do we know if we are allowing the Holy Spirit to work and create new talents? How do we know if we are limiting It within the framework of our limited thinking? Are we submitting It to our personal desires and visions?

I won't add any more questions here, although they would be necessary if we truly want to be honest, faithful, and pure in every work we do in the Church. The pain from what is happening stifles me.

I hope that some of these questions encourage a few sincere, honest, and humble persons to pause before proceeding with individualism that increases divisions and creates new schisms.

Elpidophoros "put[ting] new wine into old wineskins"

The question that keeps getting asked on the Internet is, "When is Constantinople going to do something?" Or, more naively (bless their hearts), "Does His All-Holiness know about this?!" The answer is, if you have been reading previous posts on events in the US being brought up at the regular meetings of the synod in the Phanar, that Patriarch Bartholomew is well aware of the things going on.

( - Over the weekend, the outlet published an interview with Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America entitled, “Discriminating against people based on their love life isn’t Orthodoxy.”

In the interview, the Archbishop discusses the Baptism that he served in Greece in the summer of 2022, dubbed the Greek Church’s “first openly gay Baptism” by one of the gay fathers of the children who were baptized.

The event became an international scandal, and the Greek Holy Synod sent a letter of protest to Abp. Elpidophoros and a corresponding letter to Patriarch Bartholomew. The Archbishop was not accorded the usual greeting of a hierarch when he visited Mt. Athos in January of this year because of the public spectacle surrounding the “gay Baptism.”

Nevertheless, Abp. Elpidophoros affirms in the new interview that he would absolutely serve such a Baptism again.

He also compares the hierarchs of the Greek Church who openly protested the legalization of gay marriage in Greece with antisemites and Nazis.

Abp. Elpidophoros also argues that because 70% of Orthodox marriages in America today are to non-Orthodox or even non-Christians, the Church can’t have an “exclusionary mentality.” He has openly stated in the past that because of the prevalence of these mixed marriages, the non-Orthodox spouses of Orthodox Christians should be allowed to receive Holy Communion in Orthodox churches.

Read the relevant portion of the Archbishop’s new interview:

—Is there room for modernization in the Church?

—Over the years, the Church has changed and evolved. Clearly, what cannot be influenced are the principles of the faith. Everything else, however, can be modernized. Undoubtedly, some people get agitated even at the mention of the word “change.” I advocate that the practice of our religious duties cannot be threatened, just adapted. You change the way the truth of the Gospel is expressed. You put new wine into old wineskins, as our sacred texts mention. Confidence and courage are needed from the clergy so that in every era we can speak the language and communication codes of the time. Otherwise, we only manage to marginalize the Church and put ourselves out of community. Consider that today 70% of marriages in the United States are made with non-Orthodox and in many cases non-Christians. Therefore, if we adopt an exclusionary mentality, our flock will diminish each year. However, the Church has always embraced and will embrace all people. Everyone is accepted and welcome. The "exclusionary mentality" here might be reference to his public desire to commune non-Orthodox spouses. This is not unique to the archbishop; it has been echoed in interviews with other metropolitans. More broadly, he seems to think that being more open and accepting is what will grow the church. Do you agree? Do we find the most growth in the jurisdictions where the emphasis is on Orthodoxy or on Orthodoxy being conducive to modernity?

—You faced intense criticism for serving the first Baptism of a same-sex couple’s children in Greece. After everything that was written and said, do you have any regrets?

—First, let's clarify, because this was also misinterpreted, that we are talking about a Baptism ceremony, not a marriage. When the parents asked me to baptize their children, as I was obliged to do, I accepted with great joy. I don't think he was obliged to travel outside of his canonical territory, not notify the local hierarch of the special circumstances, or attend the lavish party - complete with fireworks - afterward. Besides, the Godparents were Orthodox and I had absolutely no reason to refuse. This novel and truly incredible criterion that some use, namely that we must discriminate against people based on their sexual life, is not Orthodoxy, it doesn't even count as a humane attitude. We can’t elevate sexual behavior and someone’s love life as the sole criterion either to accept or reject them. These are unprecedented things and I would say that in Greece, they are a result of an imported Western Puritanism. Read that again. Is that a "love is love" argument? For example, they interpret the original sin as sexual. If you read Genesis, nowhere does it mention sex nor that the original sin was related to a “sexual” act. Essentially, it was nothing more than the rejection of God’s authority on moral issues, namely disobedience, i.e. a misuse of the freedom of choice. We don’t even know if it was an apple, if it was generally a fruit, because it doesn’t matter. The motive was selfishness and ambition, not sex or love. It was a Puritan fabrication and nothing else, aimed at incriminating sexual acts and romantic behavior, and on top of this guilt narrative, which has nothing to do with Christian teaching, some invested in order to control people, projecting an inherited punishment. Thus, we reached, even in Greece, this extreme phenomenon, where the sexual behavior of a person becomes a criterion for any discrimination in professional, social, or political spheres, even within the Church. It is entirely un-Christian and never has Greek culture weighed any person according to their romantic behavior. We must condemn all forms of violence, verbal and physical, and denounce the hatred and prejudice based on each person's differences. If your bingo card included "words are violence," please use your dauber now.

—Did the criticism and what was written about your trip to Mount Athos and the possibility of a postponement because you would not be welcomed bother you?

—Criticism makes us all better and it doesn’t bother me. What saddened me is that the facts were misrepresented, something that also reflects the real intention of the people who protested. What we eventually saw happen is a defamation campaign on the verge of yellow journalism. I repeat, all I did was baptize two little children. And it’s something I would do again, without any difficulty.

—On the occasion of the voting on the marriage equality bill, we heard incendiary statements from metropolitans like Nikolaos of Mesogaias, who in his lengthy report to the Synod characterized homosexuality as a deviation and mentioned that “our biggest mistake would be to accept that the homosexual act, apart from being a psychological disorder, is not also a sin.” How would you comment on that?

—Look, I listen carefully to everyone who seeks my advice. However, I am neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist. Therefore, to come out publicly and stigmatize anyone, I must tell you, I consider it fascistic. And fascistic behaviors are based on blaming our fellow citizens for some reason. We have seen it historically happen, e.g., with the Nazis. It’s an extremely dangerous mentality, which manifests in various aspects. Look what’s happening with the rising trend of antisemitism. Therefore, is it possible for the Church to give the impression that it blesses or covers up or tolerates such behaviors with its silence? This is a malignant disease, a carcinoma that will spread to other parts of the body. Today it may be Jews, tomorrow homosexuals, the day after tomorrow dark-haired, blond people, and at some point, fascism will knock on our door and we will feel the cold metal cutting our neck. Especially, the degree of antisemitism in a society shows how healthy it is. These are ideologies that bloodied Europe and the world and can have no relation to Christian theology, no matter how some try to dress their extreme ideological fantasies in a Christian cloak. Read that again. Maintaining the historical stance on homosexuality as being contrary to the divine plan is now both fascism and cancer.

—There were also some metropolitans who argued that those who voted for the marriage equality bill should be banned from entering the churches. What did you think of this?

—You see how the cancer I told you about progresses? Do you see that when something is left unchecked, it goes further? The abscess must be cut and we need to set a limit, because as a society, we’re very likely at risk. It’s clear, therefore, that fascist behaviors have no place in the Church.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Alexandria speaks on deaconess kerfuffle

This letter fails to address much of what many people are asking. To name but a few:

  • How could this happen?
  • By what authority to you make an entirely new order of clergy?
  • What are you going to do next?
  • Is this woman going to perform as her bishop "ordained" her to do?

(Patriarchate of Alexandria) - In the last few days, there was talk about the energy of the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Zimbabwe and Angola, Mr. Seraphim, who, last Thursday, May 2, 2024 , ordained a minister for the missionary needs of his Holy Metropolis. The event caused a lot of reactions, and gave rise to the free expression of various opinions and approaches.

To avoid confusion, the following is clarified:

– The mission in Africa needs deaconesses, mainly for the pastoral work and for the baptisms of adult women, as well as in special cases, such as widowhood, in stricter male-dominated environments, where for a long time the widowed woman is cut off from social and church life.

- The Church is well aware of the position, the order and the conditions-conditions of the status of a ministry, as they are described in the Prayers, the Rules of the Apostolic Orders and the Synod in Trullo. It is particularly pointed out that deaconesses were never established in the history of the Church as women-ministers of the Holy Mysteries, but as dedicated women-helpers of the general pastoral, liturgical and sanctifying work of the Church, addressed only to women, where local conditions and customs they were excluded from church life. The first Church was faced with this pastoral problem and found the solution, through deacons. When, of course, societies progressed spiritually, matured, recognized women's rights, the institution of deaconesses fell into disuse. But it is documented that the institution existed and certainly remains in the "spiritual arsenal" of the Church to deal with similar situations even today, under special local conditions.

-In the face of the continuous spread of the Gospel word in Africa and the continuous influx of local brothers to Orthodoxy, pastoral issues were raised, concerning African women, exactly similar to those faced by the Church of the early Christian years. The Holy Synod of the Presbyterian Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa took the decision in principle to revive and activate the institution of Deaconesses within its pastoral jurisdiction. However, this Decision was referred for further study to finalize the individual details, such as the vestment, the way of ministry and the functional position of the deacons in the life of the Church today.

However, Rev. Metropolitan of Zimbabwe Mr. Seraphim, for many years a missionary in Africa, joined the implementation of the initial decision of the Holy Synod, which, however, has not become active until today, since the study on the subject to take the final Synodal Decision has not been completed. Does this mean he jumped the gun? Does it mean this was the eventual goal of the study? Is some correction coming? What of this woman?

Let us have confidence in our Church and especially in the Ambassadorial Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa, which sacrificially, quietly and selflessly proclaims Christ and this Crucified One to the ends of the African land, based on the tradition and practice of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. May the same sensitivity be shown, which now appears in the case of the intention to properly revive an ancient pastoral act of our Holy Church and in the matters of staffing the holy clergy of the Patriarchal Throne of Saint Mark, of the systematic and practical support of the Apostolic work in Africa or to the major issue of the illegal entry of another Autocephalous Church into the jurisdictional limits of the Palaeate Patriarchate of Alexandria and to the blasphemous attempt to split His native flock, which came to know Christ through the intense sacrificial ministry and the death of even humble Greek missionaries, to the glory of God and illumination of our African brothers who are "in darkness and the shadow of death".

From the Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa

Alexandria, May 11, 2024