July 25, 2014

E Pluribus Unum: One Church From Many?

The American Orthodox Institute has published a new paper on Orthodox unity by George Michalopulos that examines the historical usage of the title "metropolitan," the role of the metropolitan in Church administration, and the "crucial" pastoral duty defined in the Divine Liturgy as "rightly dividing the Word of [God's] Truth." In "E Pluribus Unum: One Church From Many?" Michalopulos takes it a step further. He offers a "sketch" of how an American Orthodox Church might be structured along traditional lines. In a unified American Orthodox Church, for example, the Archbishop of Washington would be the primate of the American Church and also carry the title of Patriarch. Rather coincidentally, AOI published "E Pluribus Unum: One Church from Many?" just a day after the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis delivered his speech "Challenges of Orthodoxy in America And the Role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate" at Holy Cross seminary. The Ecumenical Patriarchate sees … [Read more...]

Obama Waffling on Armenian Genocide Declaration?

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Obama administration "is hesitating on a promised presidential declaration that Armenians were the victims of genocide in the early 20th century, fearful of alienating Turkey when U.S. officials badly want its help." The L. A. Times, in "Obama wavers on pledge to declare Armenian genocide," says Obama and "other top administration officials" were to officially designate the 1915 killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide. But the administration also has been soliciting Ankara's help on Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other security issues amid Turkish warnings that an official U.S. statement would imperil Turkey's assistance. Administration officials are considering postponing a presidential statement, citing progress toward a thaw in relations between Turkey and neighboring Armenia. Further signs of warming -- such as talk of reopening border crossings -- would strengthen arguments that a U.S. statement could imperil the … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarchate: American ‘Diaspora’ must submit to Mother Church

Arch. Elpidophoros Lamprianidis

The battle is joined. Highlight: With regards to the United States, the submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only fitting with the American society and mentality but also it opens up the horizons of possibilities for this much-promising region, which is capable of becoming an example of Pan-Orthodox unity and witness. The Mother Church of Constantinople safeguards for the Orthodox Church in America those provisions that are needed for further progress and maturity in Christ. Full text follows: Challenges of Orthodoxy in America And the Role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate By Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod (Chapel of the Holy Cross, March 16, 2009) Reverend Protopresbyter Nicholas Triantafyllou, President, Reverend Protopresbyter Thomas Fitzgerald, Dean of the School of Theology, Reverend and Esteemed Members of the Faculty and … [Read more...]

St. Tikhon: Shine the Light

St. Tikhon of Moscow

Monachos.net, a great resource, has published a new translation by St. Tikhon, Metropolitan of Moscow, delivered in 1907 at the New York cathedral on the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. Monachos.net describes this as "the saint's 'farewell homily' to his flock, before departing the United States, and contains important reflections on missionary zeal as well as touching reflections by St. Tikhon on his work in North America." Isn't it interesting that St. Tikhon was calling for the Orthodox to evangelize America in a serious way more than 100 years ago? He closes the sermon by recognizing that some of his flock found "shelter, work, and well-being" in America and all "received the freedom to profess the right Faith in your liberal land." St. Tikhon exhorts us: But it is not enough, brethren, only to celebrate “The Triumph of Orthodoxy.” It is necessary for us personally to promote and contribute to this triumph. And for this we must reverently preserve the Orthodox … [Read more...]

More plans for Pan-Orthodox Synod

Asianews has an update on the preparatory meetings for a pan-Orthodox synod, which seems to be gaining momentum. After various mishaps, in 1961 a pan-Orthodox conference was convened in Rhodes, with significant pressure from patriarch Athenagoras, for the purpose of preparing an Orthodox synod. This conference was also followed by numerous obstacles, because as theologian Giorgos Tetsetis observes, the local Churches did not have a clear idea of what they wanted from the Synod. "It is time," says Fr. Tetsetis, a theologian for the ecumenical patriarchate, "that our Church finally realize that it is doing poorly as a whole. The Church needs an open and sincere dialogue. Because it is only then, with its rich tradition as a compass, that it will be able to emerge from its blind alley and together face its existential problems, which are becoming increasingly severe and complicated. It is only then that the importance of the Ecumenical Patriarch's initiative can be … [Read more...]

Obama, Stem Cell Research, and Orthodox Christianity

Earlier this week, President Obama issued an Executive Order repealing President Bush's August 2001 restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. This was no surprise, especially since, as Senator, he voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which was vetoed by President Bush. While, the issues surrounding the creation and use of embryonic stem cells remain substantially the same, this change in political policy affords us another opportunity to reflect on how we, as Orthodox Christians, might approach this topic in the context of the public controversy. There is no doubt that there has been a simmering resentment in the scientific community over these restrictions (spurred on in part by more general funding cuts for the National Institutes of Health). Obama gave voice to this during his campaign when he charged the Bush administration with "handcuffing" scientific progress. There is also no doubt in my mind that researchers themselves are most competent to … [Read more...]

Mor Gabriel, Halki and Obama

A very timely story yesterday in the Wall Street Journal by Andrew Higgins about a land dispute between Syriac Orthodox monastery Mor Gabriel and Turkish authorities. Also yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, during a stop in Ankara, announced that President Obama will be visiting Turkey "in a month or so." She said this toward the end of her public remarks: I reiterate the Obama Administration’s support for Turkey’s membership in the European Union. The United States believes it will strengthen Turkey, Europe, and our transatlantic partnership. The United States continues to support the UN-sponsored talks now taking place to achieve a settlement of the Cyprus conflict based on reunification of the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. We talked about Turkey’s democracy, its multiethnic heritage, and in that context, I raised the importance that we place on reopening the Halki Seminary and efforts to reach out to all of Turkey’s communities. For … [Read more...]

A Prayer for Guidance and Peace

In all humility we pray to You and we entreat You, Who are the source of wisdom, bless and grant perfect health of mind and body to our President and all leaders of our nation. Direct, O Lord, their thoughts to the way of truth, so that they may enact, order and enforce whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are just, tending toward all excellence and virtue. Enlighten them to govern our country with justice and to lead our people in the ways of Your righteousness. Send to us and to the whole world a just and lasting peace to the glory of Your holy name. Amen. … [Read more...]

Met. Jonah’s 2009 Lenten message

On Feb. 28, Metropolitan Jonah, the head of the Orthodox Church in America, posted the following message: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America Dearly Beloved in the Lord: Christ is in our midst! Our Church has gone through a tragic and bitter episode in her history. Many souls suffered shipwreck, demoralized by the sins of a few. That is over. But the lingering bitterness and mistrust, resentment and desire for retribution, hang over us. We must heal this, both on an individual as well as corporate level. The only way to do this is repentance, using this season of repentance to make changes in our lives, cleanse our hearts and minds, and embrace the hope that can only be grasped by forgiveness. Unless we forgive others from our hearts, we cannot accept God's forgiveness for our own sins. Every time we criticize, judge, condemn or despise another person, no … [Read more...]

Met. Philip offers background on new Archpastoral Directive

Metropolitan Philip, the head of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America, issued a statement today explaining some of the background to the Archpastoral Directive of March 3. The letter follows: Beloved Hierarchs and Clergy, Members of the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese, Parish Councils and Faithful of this God-Protected Archdiocese: Greetings and blessings during this Holy Lenten Season! There have been some questions raised regarding the February 24th decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which addressed the status of bishops across the entire See of Antioch. The purpose of this letter is to try to answer these questions so that confusion may be avoided. The first question deals with whether or not I am supportive of the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which was taken on February 24, 2009. I am supportive of this decision, for a simple reason. I am convinced that the institutional structure of our Archdiocese here requires it at this time. One of the … [Read more...]

Bishop Savas to head GOA Office of Church and Society

Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios announced yesterday that Bishop Savas of Troas, most recently the chancellor of the archdiocese, has been named director of the Office of Church and Society. The bishop will be charged with developing "programs and ministries that promote a creative Orthodox Christian engagement with contemporary societal and cultural realities." Readers of this blog will recall the effusive praise with which Bishop Savas greeted the election of Barack Obama, rejoicing that "this is the day that the Lord has made!" Yesterday, the Obama administration moved to rescind a Bush administration regulation, put in place in December, that cuts off federal funding for medical facilities that would force doctors, nurses and other health care workers to participate in practices, such as abortion, that "they feel violates their personal, moral or religious beliefs." The move to lift the so-called "conscience rule," which is subject to a 30 day public comment period, was … [Read more...]

Repentence and Renewal

From the encyclical of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios on the beginning of Great and Holy Lent, which begins March 2. Like the children of Israel, we too are called to have faith as we set out on a journey that we know is not easy. The days and sacred services of this holy season lead us to the Holy Week, to the Cross of our Lord whereupon we venerate His crucifixion, the supreme act of sacrifice and love by God for us. At the same time, we enter this Lenten journey today with hearts filled with faith, hope, and love; because we know that the destination of this journey, after the spiritual intensity of the Holy Week, culminates with the glorious Resurrection of Christ and His complete triumph over sin, evil, and death. Today, as we embark upon this great Lenten journey, these forty days of the Great Fast, let us be mindful of all of those before us who also wandered in the wilderness. Let us not squander this beautiful opportunity for repentance and renewal; but … [Read more...]