April 18, 2014

Fr. Hopko at Hope College, Feb. 23-24

Fr. Thomas Hopko, an advisor to AOI, will be speaking at an event titled "Encountering Eastern Orthodoxy: An Introduction to the Faith and Life of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church" at Hope College in Holland, Mich. The two-day program (Feb. 23-24) "will examine the Orthodox Christian faith as a way of life." The event is hosted by the college's Orthodox Christian Fellowship student organization in partnership with the Religious Life Committee at Hope, and co-sponsored by the departments of philosophy and religion, the general education program, and the offices of student development and campus ministries. The public is invited and welcome, the school says. Admission is free to all events, although a free-will offering to benefit Orthodox Christian Fellowship at Hope College will be taken after the lecture on Monday evening. For more on the lectures, and a schedule of worship services, read the release on the Hope College site. … [Read more...]

Alexy II: A ‘Transitional’ Patriarch

Vladimir Berezansky, Jr., a U.S. lawyer with experience in Russia and former Soviet republics, recalls an interview with Patriarch Alexy II in 1991. Like many Russians at the time, the Patriarch was coping with a "disorienting change" following the fall of the Soviet Empire, Berezansky writes. At the time, he seemed overcome by the changes taking place around him, and he did not know where to begin. "For our entire lives, we [clerics] were pariahs, and now we are being called on to do everything: chaplains for the military, ministries to hospitals, orphanages, prisons," he said. He even voiced regret about taking the time to travel to the United States. But he had gambled -- correctly, as it turned out -- that he could do more for his flock by seeking foreign assistance than by staying home to manage the Russian Orthodox Church's destitution. His plate was full and overflowing, and he seemed keenly aware of the ironies of his situation. The Russian state was returning … [Read more...]

The Church and the Terror State

Priests, archbishops and a metropolitan imprisoned in the Solovetsky labor camp (1926). Solovetsky, a thriving monastery before the Bolshevik takover, was returned to the Russian Church in 1990. Source: Tomas Kizny

The Moscow Times reports on the funeral of Russian Patriarch Alexy II: Candles flickered and white-robed elders chanted prayers as the country bade farewell Tuesday to Patriarch Alexy II, who guided the country's dominant Russian Orthodox Church through its remarkable recovery after decades of Communist-era repression. Nuns, believers and government officials looked on as prayers filled the soaring Christ the Savior Cathedral at a six-hour funeral service for Alexy, who died Friday at age 79. He was buried later Tuesday at the Epiphany Cathedral across town in a ceremony closed to the public and media, the church said ... "We are burying a great man, a great son of our nation, a beautiful holy fruit grown by our Russian church," Reverend Dmitry Smirnov, a Moscow archpriest, said in an address at the funeral, which was broadcast live on state-run television. "Our whole nation has been orphaned." The BBC has a clip from the very moving funeral service here. I published "The … [Read more...]

The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow

A new American Orthodoxy, one more vitalized by the Gospel, is taking shape now. There will be fewer parishes, more and younger bishops, a clergy that is better educated and morally rigorous. And, finally, the ethnic "coffee club" model of Orthodox Christianity will fade away. This is the vision of Fr. John A. Peck in "The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow," just published on the AOI site. "As frightening and disconcerting as it may seem to our leaders, they will learn that emerging from a cocoon, even a Byzantine cocoon, is not a bad thing," Fr. John writes. "Orthodoxy is about to take flight on new beautiful wings. Here he is on the future of the hierarchy in America: If our current slate of bishops has been mostly a disappointment, reducing their number will only tighten this closed circle, making the hierarchy less and less accessible, and more and more immune to things like, oh, the needs and concerns of their flock. The process of selection for the episcopacy will contain a … [Read more...]

New Leader for Korean Orthodox

Metropolitan Ambrosios Aristotelis Zographos was enthroned on July 20 at St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Seoul as the Church's second metropolitan, reports the Union of Catholic Asian News. Around 450 clergy and laypeople of the Orthodox Church from South Korea and abroad attended. The Orthodox Metropolis of Korea, which is under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, has about 3,000 members with eight local clergymen, including two deacons, and two nuns, the news site reported. It administers seven churches and one monastery. In his enthronement speech, the new metropolitan spoke of the Orthodox Church's "unknown treasure" of patristic traditions. He called on all members of the Church in South Korea to bear faith witness through its liturgical and spiritual traditions. "Nowadays, many non-Orthodox Christians around the world recognize the uniqueness of Orthodox spirituality and seek to learn it," he said. More on the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea here. HT: The Western Confucian … [Read more...]

Egypt’s Copts the ‘New Martyrs’?

Perilous times for Egypt's Christian community. In "Egypt's Coptic Christians Are Choosing Isolation," the Washington Post reports that "the most populous Christian community in the Middle East is seeking safety by turning inward, cutting day-to-day social ties that have bound Muslim to Christian in Egypt for centuries." The story notes a dramatic decline in of the Coptic Christian population in Egypt. Violent confrontations between Muslims and Christians are on the upswing. In May, Arab Bedouins attacked monks reclaiming the 1,700-year-old monastery of Abu Fana. Monks say the attackers fired on them with AK-47 assault rifles and captured some among them to torture. Attackers broke the legs of one monk by pounding them between two rocks. One Muslim man was killed. A few days earlier, gunmen in Cairo killed four Copts at a jewelry store but left without taking anything. Strife over liaisons between Christian and Muslim men and women led to recent clashes between the … [Read more...]