April 16, 2014

Bp. Nicholas DiMarzio: Catholic Church Must Influence Marriage Debate

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio

So far the only Orthodox bishops offering more than pro-forma defenses of the moral tradition are Met. Job and Bp. Michael of the OCA. Below is an example of how moral authority is rightly exercised. Roman Catholic Bp. Nicholas DiMarzio offers a very reasoned and accessible analysis and defense of the major points in the same-sex marriage debate. Some highlights: We who oppose same-sex marriage are not callous to the very real longings for friendship, affection and belonging that proponents of this legislation espouse. We have, in part, failed as the proponents of the historical understanding of marriage as that between a man and a woman precisely because we have sought to be sensitive to those who have same-sex attractions. Perhaps we must now speak more forcefully and clearly. I believe the passage of same-sex marriage is another “nail in the coffin” of marriage. It is destructive because it shows a failure to view marriage in the context of a vocation: a calling to participate … [Read more...]

Seal of Confession Goes on Trial

I only recently heard about this case where a confession being heard by priest in a federal prison was recorded by authorities. It raises the most fundamental legal questions about Church and State separation. Church and State Face Off in Court By Annamarie Adkins SALEM, Oregon, AUG. 26, 2009 (Zenit.org).- When Father Timothy Mockaitis heard inmate Conan Wayne Hale’s sacramental confession on April 22, 1996, he had no idea it was being recorded. He also didn't know that the event would spur an unprecedented legal case that attempted to demonstrate that a violation of the seal of the confessional was an infringement on the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Father Mockaitis details these pivotal events in his new book, “The Seal: A Priest’s Story.” The pastor of Queen of Peace Catholic Church shared with ZENIT how this case involved not only canon law versus civil law, but also a threat to the long term viability of … [Read more...]

Bureaucratic Church and Imperial State

In response to comments here on this blog about whether the Byzantines will one day "save" the American Church, the answer to that, as has been observed, is that there are no Byzantines remaining to save us. What's more, there would be little support among American Orthodox Christians for the sort of deep involvement by the state in Church affairs that was typical of Byzantium. The American Founders, in their wisdom, went to great lengths to make sure that the state would not establish a Church nor would the state control its life. The following excerpt is from "Church Structures and Administration," by Michael Angold and Michael Whitby, in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies. In their broad outlines the administrative structure of the Byzantine Church as systematized under Justinian survived without radical change down to the end of the Byzantine Empire. This was testimony both to Justinian's administrative and legislative abilities and to the Church's ability to adapt … [Read more...]

Medvedev Supports Religion Education in Schools

Patriarch Kirill offers a caution. From RIA Novosti: BARVIKHA, July 21 -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday expressed his support for a proposal to teach religious education in Russian state schools. He also backed the suggestion that chaplains should be employed in Russia's armed forces. "I decided to support both proposals," the president said at a special meeting on the subject. The proposals had been made by religious leaders from Russia's main faiths. The president said a pilot project would be launched in 18 Russian regions until 2012, and later across the whole of Russia. The first lessons, to involve 256,000 children and 44,000 teachers, could begin next spring. "It could be the basics of Orthodox or Islamic culture, as well as Judaism and Buddhism. Students and their parents should make this choice for themselves," he said. A course on Russia's four largest religions, as well a course on secular ethics will also be available as an option, … [Read more...]

Radio Free Europe: The Price Of Influence

Writing on the RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty Power Vertical blog, Brian Whitmore suggests that there may be a little too much symphonia in a recent move by Russian Patriarch Kirill to work closely with the United Russia political party. Whitmore: What motivated United Russia and Patriarch Kirill I to reach an agreement giving the Russian Orthodox Church an unprecedented voice in the legislative work of the State Duma? Aleksei Malashenko of the Moscow Carnegie Center tackles the issue in today's issue of "Nezavisimaya Gazeta." He begins by asking why the ruling party would want to enter into such an arrangement: Why? Because United Russia desperately lacks something despite its triumphs in elections throughout the country and the overwhelming majority in the lower house of the parliament. And what does it lack? It lacks society's respect. It lacks recognition as a genuine political party and not just an organization founded and coddled by the Kremlin. Because … [Read more...]

Interview: A Mission in the World

The Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate distributed "A Mission in the World," an interview of Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk by Expert Magazine (Issue No. 23 (661) June 15, 2009). Expert Magazine Your Eminence, one hundred days have passed since the enthronement of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. What has changed in church-society relations since? Have any new tendencies emerged? Archbishop Hilarion The man who ascended to the throne of the Moscow Patriarchate is one who has been known for many years for his focus on mission and his capacity to shed light on matters. He has long been in active co-operation with all parts of the society, hosting a TV programme of his own and making regular appearances in the print media. Even before he was elected Patriarch, he was known and loved by millions of Russian Orthodox faithful throughout the world. He has gained authority in broad public circles. Metropolitan Kirill accumulated a unique … [Read more...]

Fr. Alexander Schmemann on Primacy in the Orthodox Church

Many of the current jurisdictional controversies within the Orthodox Church involving the Ecumenical Patriarch, relations between Constantinople and Moscow, the status of the "autocephalies" -- even the future of the American Orthodox Church -- hinge on the question of primacy. While Orthodox Christians have rejected the Roman model of primacy as "supreme power" over the Bishop and local Church, the question of primacy within the Orthodox Church is a complete muddle. In "The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology," an essay written in 1960 and now available on the AOI main site, Fr. Alexander Schmemann examines various aspects of the primacy question, an issue he describes as "on the agenda for our time." As he reminds us, the ecclesiological interpretation of primacy -- regional, autocephalous, and "universal" -- is "virtually absent" from from Orthodox theology. "We badly need a clarification of the nature and functions of all these primacies and, first of all, of the very concept … [Read more...]

Srdja Trifkovic on Patriarch Aleksy

Cultural commentator Srdja Trifkovic writes on Patriarch Akeksy in the latest issue of Chronicles Magazine: Aleksy II, Patriarch of Moscow and head of the Russian Orthodox Church, died of heart failure on December 5, 2008, at the age of 79... Aleksy II came to the throne just as the Soviet state was beginning to disintegrate. The early years of his tenure were dominated by the tremendous task of restoring the moral authority of the Church in a nation devastated by seven decades of lethal anti-Christian rule. The scale of that devastation defies imagination. Persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church and other denominations under the communists is one of the greatest crimes in history. Its death toll was several times greater than that of the holocaust. It had killed more Christians than all other persecutions in all ages put together, with Islam a distant second. In 20 interwar years (1918-38), the number of churches that remained open in Russia was reduced from 54,000 to … [Read more...]

Invocation Prayer

The following prayer was offered by Fr. John A. Peck (see his Orthodox Church of Tomorrow below) at the Prescott (Ariz.) City Council meeting on Sept. 9. Fr. John is pastor of Prescott Orthodox Church, The "Mile High" Mission. Invocation Prayer O God, the God of principalities and powers, authorities and dominions, we ask You to send Your Most Holy, Good and Life-Creating Spirit upon this noble assembly, that You may bless what we do, and that we may do what You bless. Strengthen us to labor without partiality or favor for the increase of prosperity to the benefit of all Your people, to establish Your peace and Your justice among men. Guide us by Your Holy Spirit that we may not tolerate in our midst those who would lie, cheat or steal, who would circumvent justice for the righteous, or reward the transgressor. For You are the benefactor of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and to You we ascribe glory, together with Your Father, Who is from everlasting, and Your Most … [Read more...]