April 20, 2014

Bp. Hilarion: Russian Orthodox Must Stay in WCC

Moscow, June 30, Interfax - Withdrawal of the Russian Orthodox Church from the World Council of Churches should weaken positions of Moscow Patriarchate in the inter-Orthodox dialogue, the representative of Russian Church in European international organizations believes. "This withdrawal may only weaken our positions today in defending the Church teaching which we consider traditional, which for many centuries was the basis of relations among the Orthodox Churches, and which is now challenged by the Patriarchate of Constantinople," Bishop Hilarion said Monday to Interfax-Religion. He also mentioned that the last Bishops' Council discussed "the claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to the jurisdiction of the whole diaspora" and the Patriarch of Constantinople's seeking to receive the position "which is somewhat equal to that of Pope in the Catholic Church." "Today, the Russian Orthodox Church is the major opponent of Constantinople, therefore, the Patriarchate of … [Read more...]

Rebuilding at Ground Zero

The New York Times has a detailed story about the long-delayed rebuilding of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, crushed when the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. The Times reports that the rebuilding effort is "a microcosm of the seven-year, $16 billion, problem-plagued effort to reconstruct the entire trade center site." Summary paragraph: The church wants the authority to provide roughly $55 million toward the estimated $75 million cost of rebuilding St. Nicholas. The Port Authority in turn wants the church to scale back its plans, move the location slightly and raise more money privately. … [Read more...]

Independence Day

Thoughts on freedom as we approach the celebration of another Independence Day: From the beginning the Creator allowed human beings their freedom and a free will; they were bound only by the law of his commandment. St. Gregory the Theologian (Orations 14.25 ["On Caring for the Poor"], PG 35:892A) Freedom means being one's own master and ruling oneself; this is the gift that God granted to us from the beginning. St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Soul and Resurrection, PG 46:101CD) Man is made in the image of God, Who is humble but at the same time free. Therefore it is normal and natural that he should be after the likeness of his Creator -- that he should recoil from exercising control over others while himself being free and independent by virtue of the presence of the Holy Spirit within him. Those who are possessed by the lust for power cloud the image of God in themselves. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 9; St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 73) The idea of … [Read more...]

Russian Orthodox: Human Rights ‘not absolute’

In Russia Profile, Andrei Zolotov Jr. reports on the Russian Orthodox Council of Bishops and its adoption of a new work titled, "The Bases of the Russian Orthodox Church's Teaching on Dignity, Liberty and Human Rights." Zolotov says it's no accident that this report surfaces at a time when Russia and the European Union are "actively engaged" on a discussion of common values. In the Bishops Council document, he reports, the Church says that "human rights are definitely a value, and they belong to everybody, not just to the priests and priestesses of the new human rights religion. But it is not the absolute value. It has to be harmonized with the values of faith, morals, love of thy neighbor (and thus family and patriotic values), and of the environment." Zolotov continued: In essence, what we see here is a process of analysis, adaptation and reception – not in a wholesale, packaged way, but in a "processed" form – of the values that had been developed in the modern period on a … [Read more...]

Orthodox-Catholic dialogue ‘progressing’

In Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said that the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue was showing progress despite "considerable difficulties that exist and the well-known problems." The patriarch attended the inauguration of the Pauline Jubilee Year and Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. Zenit News said Patriarch Bartholomew voiced optimism about the prospect for closer relations: The theological dialogue between our Churches 'in faith, truth and love,' thanks to divine help, goes forward despite the considerable difficulties that exist and the well-known problems. We truly desire and fervently pray that these difficulties will be overcome and that the problems will disappear as soon as possible so that we may reach the desired final goal for the glory of God. We know well that this is your desire too, as we also are certain that Your Holiness will neglect nothing, personally working, together with your illustrious collaborators, … [Read more...]

Orthodoxy: A Fertile Faith

When a recent coffee hour conversation turned, unexpectedly, to politics and what if anything the Church has to say about public issues and then all of the "God talk" in the current presidential contest, a friend said, "Oh, that's politics. The Orthodox Church shouldn't get involved in politics. Nothing good can come of it." Well, yes and no. If we're talking about partisan politics then yes, of course, the Church must stay out of it. The Church was not founded to endorse candidates for office or advance a political ideology. But if we're talking about the political dimensions of important moral issues, then yes, of course, the Church may quite properly speak to these. Did we notice that there is something going on in California about marriage? Were political institutions involved? Do we recall the 2003 Statement on Moral Crisis on Our Nation issued by SCOBA? I wonder if some Orthodox Christians wish that the faith could somehow remain removed from politics and other worldly … [Read more...]

Orthodox Women in the Ecumenical Movement

An Inter-Orthodox Consultation, under the auspices of the World Council of Churches, held a program titled, "Participation of Orthodox Women in the Ecumenical Movement: Past, Present, Future” at the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Greece, from June 8-12. The meeting brought together some 45 women from Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and North America. They discussed the participation, ministry and concerns of Orthodox women in the church and in the ecumenical movement. According to the WCC report, participants at the consultation recommended undertaking a full assessment of the current situation and needs of Orthodox women, given the many changes that have taken place over the last decade, as well as the development of a framework for future action. "We see the need to identify, together with our church leadership, the ways and instruments to implement decisions and recommendations of women's consultations in our churches," … [Read more...]

“On the Advantages of Dying Young”

Jonathan David Price, editor of "The Clarion Review" (published by AOI) wrote the essay "On the Advantages of Dying Young ", that was recently published in First Principles ("the home of American intellectual conservatism"). Price writes: There is so much talk about the advantages of long life nowadays that when confronted with "tragic" young deaths our only response is pity. Obsession with longevity is no longer merely an existential anxiety; lifespan has even become a key measure of the health of nations. We are concerned with it collectively. And since quantity of life is what we value, death is the enemy. There is no such thing as a good death at any age, much less in youth. . . . Read the essay in the First Principles Journal. This essay was also blogged by Benjamin MacConchie: http://benjaminmacconchie.wordpress.com/. … [Read more...]

The Theological Roots of Nazism and Stalinism

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Rescuing Britain’s Christian Heritage Video

Learn more about Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust. … [Read more...]

The Late, Refined Flower of Culture

Russian emigre philosopher Georgy Fedotov (1888-1951) proposed two basic principles for all of the freedoms by which modern democracy lives. First, and most valuable, there are the freedoms of "conviction" -- in speech, in print, and in organized social activity. These freedoms, Fedotov asserted, developed out of the freedom of faith. The other principle of freedom "defends the individual from the arbitrary will of the state (which is independent of questions of conscience and thought) -- freedom from arbitrary arrest and punishment, from insult, plundering and coercion on the part of the organs of power ... " In an ideal world, all of these freedoms would be present. But Fedotov also cautioned that "freedom is the late, refined flower of culture." For the flower to bloom, the roots need to be watered. A free society, from the ground up, requires a respect for the rule of law, a judiciary and police force that aren't easily bought, a political culture that knows how to rid itself … [Read more...]

The Cohabitation Bomb

In the most emphatic fashion, reports the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, the Church of Greece’s Holy Synod yesterday declared its opposition to the government’s bid to give unmarried couples greater rights by stating that any form of relationship other than a couple married in an Orthodox Church is tantamount to “prostitution.” The Synod said that a draft law under consideration constituted a “catastrophic bomb” being placed under the foundations of Greek society. Archbishop Ieronymos II, the new leader of the Church of Greece who arrived with the reputation for being a moderate, was pushing for a moderate position on the issue. But the other 12 members of the Synod would have none of it. “The Church accepts and blesses the established wedding, according to Orthodox traditions, and considers any other type of similar relationship to be prostitution,” the Synod said in a statement. … [Read more...]