July 24, 2014

More to the Ecumenical Patriarch’s recent encyclical than meets the eye

Pat. Bartholomew and Pope Benedict in Rome

As I mentioned last week, I recently became a columnist for Catholic Online. They just posted my latest piece. (They are fast. I submitted it just this afternoon.) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Last week Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew released an encyclical castigating what he called Orthodox “fanatics” who object to Orthodox ecumenical involvement. The encyclical was well received in Christian circles outside of the Orthodox Church, but raised eyebrows among those in the fold, not least for the strength of the language. Here’s the background. The Orthodox Church is emerging out of a period of active persecution that lasted centuries for the Greeks and a generation for the Russians and other Eastern Europeans. Orthodoxy still flourishes in the Middle East although under considerable Muslim pressure. It is growing in Africa, Indonesia (where an indigenous Orthodox Church was started by several Moslem converts), America, Western Europe, and elsewhere in the world. Two … [Read more...]

Odds & Ends

-- A new book claims that the "Greek mafia" controlled not only the drug trade in Tarpon Springs but the local Greek Orthodox Church, too. Some say the book is "a bunch of garbage." -- Church of Greece bishops are anxious about the new Socialist government's plan to tax church property. Don't forget about property owned by the Roman Catholics and the Ecumenical Patriarch, the bishops helpfully remind. Separately, there's a question about those 1.2 million Euros. -- Archons make their case for the Ecumenical Patriarchate before the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). -- "Among the comments that received most attention was Metropolitan Geevarghese Coorilos's suggestion to look at the reality of the church not only 'from above', but also 'from below', taking into account the daily experience of 'being church' in particular contexts, citing the example of his Dalit church in Kerala, India." Is this what we mean by "practiced incoherence"? -- While Moscow … [Read more...]

Ecumenicism in the trenches…

Two National Rabbinic Groups Issue Religious Ban on Voting for Pro-Homosexual Agenda Politicians; Call on Pope and other Denominations to Follow Suit BROOKLYN, NY, May 27 /Christian Newswire/ -- In light of recent developments in the ongoing push to legislate a Federal Hate Crimes Bill in Congress and same gender marriage legislation in New York and other states, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the 65 year old Orthodox Jewish national Rabbinic organization Rabbinical Alliance of America, surrounded by Rabbis, issued a religious ban on voting for any politician or office holder who supports any aspect of the homosexual political agenda. Go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8VkYFAGR9I to see the actual video of the statement. Rabbi Levin also called upon other Orthodox Jewish religious and civic organizations such as Agudath Israel of America, the OU, the Rabbinical Council of America, Chabad and the Chasidic groups to follow suit. … [Read more...]

Interview with Bp. Hilarion of Vienna and Austria

Reflections on the American Orthodox experience by foreign leaders are often interesting. Sometimes they are even insightful. That's what we see in the recent interview with Bp. Hilarion of Vienna and Austria conducted by Dr. Peter Bouteneff, Associate Professor of Dogmatic Theology at St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York. Discussion ranged from the American jurisdictional divisions, proper ecclesiology, the failure of ecumenical initiatives, to Bp. Hilarion's musical compositions (The Passion of St. Matthew). Some highlights: Your Grace, as an archpastor and scholar, with experience both within the Moscow Patriarchate and globally, you have reflected on a vast array of topics, many of which are now of key importance to us in the Orthodox Church in America as we prepare to meet in council and elect a new primate. While we in America reflect on the origins of our autocephaly, the recent scandal in our Church, and the challenges we face, how do you see a way forward for us? I … [Read more...]

Ecumenicism: The Moral Imperative Based on the Priestly Prayer of Jesus

Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one (John 17:11). In just a few short weeks most of the Eastern Churches (and Western Churches as well) will be reading this passage from St. John’s Gospel during Holy Week. Are we one, are we in unity, are we responding to the Fathers embrace prayed for by His Divine Son? The answer is blatantly: No! Not to respond to God’s Will is being in a state of sin: thus disunity is sinful. Jesus prayed that we be ‘kept in the Fathers name and be one’ but we are free to reject the Father. Why? Because we are created with ‘free will’. Thus we are free to sin. But we are also free to work toward conforming our will to His Will. Brokenness in the world, the evils around us, the disunity among the communities of Christians are due to choices made by us individually and collectively by our Churches, ecclesial communities and religious establishments. There is no doubt that Ecumenism … [Read more...]