April 24, 2014

Postcards from Greece: Phyletism

PostcardsFromGreece

On a new Postcards from Greece, Fr. Peter Alban Heers explains the heresy of Phyletism, which means placing one’s ethnic identity above the Orthodox faith. Fr. Peter shares with us his ten years of experience of living the Faith and serving the Church in Greece, and in particular the ancient Church of the Thessalonians. On visits to parishes and monasteries, and in interviews with clergy and laymen, Fr. Peter, as an American convert, introduces us to the ancient practice of the Church in Greece in terms and ways we can readily understand and apply to our contemporary way of life. Listen here: … [Read more...]

Halki: ‘Same old story’

Nat da Polis, in a new report in AsiaNews, quotes a "senior lecturer" from the "almost non existent Orthodox community" in Istanbul on the Halki Seminary question. The lecturer, a Greek, expects little movement from Turkish authorities toward reopening the seminary. “In short it’s the same old story," says the lecturer. Full report follows: Despite Europe's request, Ankara continues to waver on Religious Freedom By NAT da Polis The head of EU enlargement has said that the accession process of Turkey also depends on the Halki school, an institution for the formation of the clergy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, closed since 1971. The government remains silent, while the debate grows in the media. The real issue is the recognition of the status of the Patriarchate. Istanbul -- Rumours abound in Turkish press over the imminent reopening of the Halki Theological School, for the formation of theologians and the clergy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, closed suddenly in 1971, … [Read more...]

Opening Halki A Done Deal?

Fr. Dositheos Anagnostopoulos, spokesman for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, says the issue concerning the reopening of the Halki Seminary has been resolved: In an interview published yesterday in the Taraf daily, ... Anagnostopoulos said: “Erdoğan will certainly etch his name in history. He is the first politician to directly address issues, avoiding euphemisms when referring to them. He has talked about the “Kurdish question”, he has said that our status as an ecumenical church concerns the church only and later he said Turkey had made fascistic moves in the past. He is very open and courageous. That's how he'll be etched in history. We need people like this. Would this solve problems? Not right away, but the prime minister has started this. I think the Heybeliada problem has been solved.” From Today's Zaman. … [Read more...]

Ukrainian Orthodoxy ‘Very Politicized’

From the Religious Information Service of the Ukraine: MOSCOW—Representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) expressed confidence that foreign structures will not interfere with church problems in Ukraine. In particular, they mean the Constantinople Patriarchate, which, according to the ROC representatives, the Ukrainian authorities hoped to engage in the establishment of a national church separate from the Moscow Patriarchate. “They (Constantinople Patriarchate) understand well that Ukraine is an integral part of the Russian Orthodox Church, that there exists spiritual unity of nations – Russians, Ukrainians, Moldovians, Belarusians,” noted the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop Ilarion (Alfeiev) of Volokolamsk, at a press conference in Moscow about the visit of the head of ROC to Istanbul in early July. News.ru reports that in the archbishop’s opinion, the very tone of the past negotiations shows that the … [Read more...]

The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the ‘Deep State’

Writing in Today's Zaman, Orhan Kemal Cengiz throws a little cold water on current reports that the Halki Seminary may be reopened. Has anything really changed, he asks? Cengiz points to a long campaign, dating back to the Ottoman period, designed to either force the patriarchate to leave or to push it into extinction. The Turkish "deep state" was behind much of this, the writer says. And he places considerable blame for the patriarchate's dire situation on its own passivity. Opinion piece follows: Is the ecumenical patriarchate in Turkey waiting for Godot? By Orhan Kemal Cengiz Since the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power in 2002, the reopening of the Halki Seminary has repeatedly returned to the political agenda in Turkey. There is almost a pattern. Some government officials say, “There is no harm in reopening the school [which was closed down in 1971], and there are some preparations taking place to that effect.” If you read these statements you can … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill Meets with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan

Report from the Department of External Relations, Moscow Patriarchate: The head of the Turkish Government expressed satisfaction at Patriarch Kirill’s visit and the fact that he visited not only Istanbul but also the Turkish capital city of Ankara. The sides noted with satisfaction the developing relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation. Mr. Erdogan spoke about his experience of contacts with Russian leaders and the development of bilateral relations including in economy and tourism, pointing out that about three million Russian tourists had visited Turkey in the previous year alone. His Holiness Kirill stressed that the Republic of Turkey is Russia’s friendly neighbouring country and expressed the conviction that the development of relations between Turkey, on one hand, and Russia, Ukraine and other nations nourished spiritually by the Moscow Patriarchate, on the other, may help promote not only the ‘beach’ tourism but also religious tourism … [Read more...]

‘Istanbul is anxious’

Lots of press attention being paid to the possible reopening of the Halki Seminary in the wake of Patriarch Kirill's visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (The patriarch is now back in Moscow where he met with President Obama.) In his analysis of the Bartholomew-Kirill meeting for Today's Zaman, Ali Murat Yel argues for a reopening of the seminary (known to Turks as Heybeliada) if the Turkish state "wishes to be counted among the civilized and democratic countries in the world." The writer also said that "Istanbul is anxious about the revival and renaissance of the Russian Church, as its weight and power might lead it to claim the overarching leadership of the Orthodox Church in the near future. The claim would not be groundless because the Patriarchate of Moscow has some 95 million followers, which constitute more than one third of the 250 million Orthodox worldwide." Then there's the problem of where to find Turkish clergy for the Ecumenical Patriarchate: The closure of the … [Read more...]

Official Statement on the ‘Diaspora’ from the Chambesy Conference

THE FOURTH PRE-CONCILIAR PAN-ORTHODOX CONFERENCE The Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Chambésy, 6-13 June 2009 THE ORTHODOX DIASPORA Decision The Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference was convened by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with the consensus of Their Beatitudes the Primates of the Most Holy Orthodox Churches expressed during their Sacred Synaxis at the Phanar in October 2008. The Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference met at the Orthodox Center of Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, from 6 to 13 June 2009 under the chairmanship of His Eminence Metropolitan John of Pergamon, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This Conference, to which all of the most holy Orthodox Autocephalous Churches were invited and were represented, studied the issue of the canonical organization of the Orthodox Diaspora. Pursuant to article 16 of the Rules of Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conferences, this Conference discussed the … [Read more...]

The Greek Ecclesiastical Settlement

A really interesting passage from "The legacy of the French Revolution: Orthodoxy and nationalism," an essay by Paschalis Kitromilides, which explains, among other things, the historical process by which the Church of Greece was granted autocephaly. While the Enlightenment confronted the church with a secular universalist ideology, which, questions of doctrine aside, could in some instances complement and even sustain its own ecumenical values, nationalism gave rise to a conflict, where the issues not only were on the level of secular versus transcendental values but also set the ecumenicity of Christian ideals against the parochialism of nationalism. The history of this conflict turned out to be identical with the history of the Orthodox Church in the nineteenth century. Ultimately, writes Kitromilides, "the ecumenical patriarchate, once its own formal requirements were satisfied, supplied the canonical sanction for turning regional churches into instruments of secular … [Read more...]

Moscow Patriarchate reports on Chambesy meeting

The Moscow Patriarchate has released a statement, in English, on the work of the all-Orthodox pre-conciliar meeting in Chambesy, Switzerland, earlier this month. The patriarchate explains how "episcopal assemblies" are to be constituted. Text follows: The 4th Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference, which took place at the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Orthodox Center in Chambesy near Geneva, completed its work on 12 June 2009. The delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church led by Archpriest Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, included Archbishop Mark of Berlin, Germany and Great Britain, Russian Church Outside Russia, Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, DECR vice-chairman, and Mr. A. Churyakov, an interpreter. The conference was chaired by Metropolitan John of Pergamon. Metropolitan Jeremiah of Switzerland, Patriarchate of Constantinople, acted as its secretary. It was attended by delegations of the Patriarchates of … [Read more...]

Report: Turkey to reopen Halki Seminary

Turkish newspapers say a deal is in the works. Will there be reciprocity from Greece? When President Obama was in Turkey, there were reports that "the recognition by Greek authorities of muftis in Thrace and financial support for Muslim schools might prompt a Turkish rethink on the Halki school." Here is the story from Hurriyet, the Turkish newspaper: ANKARA - The Halki seminary on the island of Heybeliada is to be reopened, Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay said, adding that they are searching for a formula to integrate the Orthodox theological school into Turkey’s university system. "Although we have not finalized a decision in the Cabinet, my personal impression is that we are going to open the seminary," said Günay, speaking on Kanal 24 television over the weekend. Recalling that the functioning of the Halki seminary is not compatible with the Turkish university system, Günay maintained that work is underway to find a formula for its status. He explained that the question … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarch releases agenda for Mississippi Symposium

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese released the schedule for Ecumenical Patriarch Batholomew's visit to the United States in October. Separately, a detailed agenda for his upcoming environmental symposium has been posted online. The patriarch's "Symposium VIII -- Restoring Balance: The Great Mississippi River" offers a rare opportunity to present Orthodoxy's distinctive, sacramental understanding of the stewardship of Creation to America and the world. And this trip, which will involve about 200 participants in all, will no doubt generate a huge volume of media attention. We will be following the symposium closely here on the Observer. If the text accompanying the agenda is any indication, the work of the symposium will be heavily inflected by an environmentalist ethic that looks at humanity primarily as a source of pollution and largely ignores the benefits of balanced economic development that does not degrade or abuse Creation. There is the utopian dream of returning the Earth to … [Read more...]