April 20, 2014

Report: Phanar backtracks on crucifixion remark

From Today's Zaman (Dec. 24). No statement yet on the Patriarchate's site. The patriarchate’s statement said: “There are similar idioms in all languages, and they are not evaluated in their narrow meanings but in their broad sense in that language. While answering questions in that regard, the patriarch obviously did not intend to imply any pressure from our government.” The statement also said that there was a need to make a public announcement about the issue because the patriarch’s words were interpreted in a way that goes beyond their meaning. Turkish government officials continue to denounce the patriarch for his crucifixion remark: In İzmir, speaking at a conference organized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç called the patriarch’s criticism “unacceptable,” while reiterating that Turkey doesn’t consider the patriarchate to be ecumenical in line with the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, which governs the status of the … [Read more...]

Battle looming over icons and prayers in Greek schools

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MbEL-C7ypU[/youtube] The head of the Greek Orthodox Church has warned the country's new socialist government that it faces a major battle over removing religious symbols from schools. The European Court in Strasbourg has ordered Italy to take down crucifixes from its classrooms, and Greece's Justice Minister has acknowledged that it may have to follow suit. From Lamia in Central Greece, Malcolm Brabant reports. "This is a major battle of faith, which is just beginning," he says. From Moscow, December 21 (RIA Novosti): Europe's future unthinkable without Christianity - Patriarch Kirill The future of the European continent is impossible without taking into account its Christian heritage, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church said Monday. "People who attached great significance to European cultural and religious identity as an important element of pan-European wellbeing were among the EU originators," Patriarch Kirill of Moscow … [Read more...]

Editorial: Who will pay the taxes?

From the National Herald: Judging from the massive, angry reaction of our readers so far, it is obvious that we have hit a nerve with our editorial in last week’s edition entitled “Give Us Your Property”, rejecting Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s demand for “at least” a building from each one of our nine metropolises, in order, supposedly, to save the Patriarchate from the Turks. A prominent member of the community - who asked us to withhold his name - went so far as to cite this demand as the justification for taking the first steps towards launching an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church in America. While we fully understand his reaction, we do not see this as necessary. As we stated in this space last week: “We wish there was a nicer way to say it, but this demand by Patriarch Bartholomew has crossed the line. It is so unacceptable and offensive, but also so revealing of his designs on our Church and its assets, that it raises many questions about his relationship … [Read more...]

Church of Greece rallies opposition to crucifix ban

crucifix

From Malcolm Brabant reporting for the BBC in Athens: The Greek Orthodox Church is urging Christians across Europe to unite in an appeal against a ban on crucifixes in classrooms in Italy. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled last week that the presence of crucifixes violated a child's right to freedom of religion. Greece's Orthodox Church fears the Italian case will set a precedent. It has called an emergency Holy Synod meeting for next week to devise an action plan. Although the Greek Orthodox Church has been at odds with Roman Catholicism for 1,000 years, the judicial threat to Christian symbols has acted as a unifying force. The European Court of Human Rights found that the compulsory display of crucifixes violated parents' rights to educate their children as they saw fit and restricted the right of children to believe or not to believe. … [Read more...]

Boldness or Irrelevance?

Dr. John Mark Reynolds

John Mark Reynolds at the Scriptorium: There is a boldness that should come with the a commitment to Christ. When the Green Patriarch (Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew) goes to a university ridden with the problems of our age and only tells them the parts of the Christian faith with which they are likely to agree, we are troubled by it. We hope he did not wimp out to curry political favor for causes where he is desperate for Western support, but we long for the clarity or boldness of a John Paul the Great in Poland. We cannot judge for certain, but the Biblical prophetic witness sounds more like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s address to Harvard. There a brave man spoke truth to power . . . not in our modern trivialization of the phrase where it means taking on figures that are unpopular in our own social set. Solzhenitsyn did not take on oil companies to Green Peace or abortionists at Liberty University. He attacked those he admired in other ways or whose admiration he might have … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: ‘Humans have lost their original humanity’

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

In an address Tuesday at the University of the Peloponnese in Tripolis, Greece, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said that “a homogenization of humans and peoples is in progress” and underlined that the environmental threat points to “problematic anthropology.” He spoke of an “ecological crisis” and stressed that “the looting of the planet, the burning of the forests and the pollution of the air and water mean that humans have lost their original humanity. People never knew as much as they know today but never before were so catastrophic toward their fellow human beings and nature.” The patriarch also said that the future cannot be entrusted to “extremist technocrats” who see humans as machines and underlined the need for the mobilization of the young generation. He completed his visit to the region that was devastated by wildfires with a symbolic gesture by planting two trees, a sycamore and a fir, characterizing as “criminals targeting humanity” all those who deliberately set … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Gerasimos on Christian Unity

The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco recently posted the keynote speech that Metropolitan Gerasimos delivered in April for the National Workshop on Christian Unity in Phoenix. It is a lengthy speech so we will post only a few excerpts here. Metropolitan Gerasimos: Our task as Christians is to keep the Body of Christ united and where we find division, we must become agents of healing and reconciliation. Dialogue in all its manifestations - bilateral, multilateral and other exchanges - is still the most critical pathway to reconciliation. Christians have been explaining their doctrine and theology to one another since the beginning of the Church, in order to maintain the integrity of the Body of Christ and to restore unity when divisions occurred. We can find examples of this from the earliest days of Christianity. The language of orthodoxy and heresy, lapsed and restored all emerged from the continual efforts of Church leaders - in those days usually the bishops - to … [Read more...]

Archbishop Demetrios to hold memorial service at Ground Zero

NEW YORK -- His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America will hold a memorial service on Friday, September 11, at 2:30 p.m. at Ground Zero on the site of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the only religious edifice destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. The location where the service will be held is near Gate 7, corner of Greenwich and Liberty Streets at Ground Zero. Source: Worldwide Faith News … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Methodios: Urgent Need for a Missionary Effort

Thoughts for the New Ecclesiastical Year By Metropolitan Methodios As we begin the new ecclesiastical year, I urge you to reflect upon the theme chosen for the last Clergy Laity Congress, "Gather My People to My Home." It is critically important for us all -- clergy and laity -- to respond to the call of the Church to undertake a Missionary effort in our parishes. We must to open the embrace of every Community to welcome the sojourners of life to quench their spiritual thirsts at the well of Orthodoxy. We must welcome brethren to dialogue - to discuss their concerns, their questions, their visions and yes, their complaints and disappointments with the Church. Opening our embrace and welcoming our brethren does not mean sitting in our offices or Parish Council meeting rooms. It means finding all those not connected with the Church wherever they may be -- in their homes, where they work, where they spend their time. We have to feel the same imperative that Jesus had when he … [Read more...]

Chambesy statement posted on the GOARCH website

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has just posted the official English version of the Chambesy statement, the decision to form conciliar committees in the churches of the diaspora (.pdf file). … [Read more...]

Orthodoxy and Obama’s conscience clause

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A friend sent me an email earlier today. Search Google, he said, with the terms conscience rule obama catholic bishops and conscience rule obama orthodox bishops and then compare the two. Not very impressive. (Actually, the AOI blog article on Abp. Demetrios' awkward praise of Pres. Obama ranks first in Google, but that's beside the point.) It got me to thinking. If there is ever a need for Orthodox unity, the time is now. The authority of the Orthodox moral tradition far exceeds our numbers, but that authority has to be exercised. As long as we remain disunited our voice is muted and the culture does not receive the direction it needs. The Catholic Bishops understand this, just as they understand that the life issues are a matter of not only personal life and death, but cultural life and death. That is why they are ready to use their authority to clarify these issues and, if necessary, offer moral resistance. It is time for us to step up too. Apart from the GOA, the … [Read more...]

Bishop Savas Launching New Blog

Bishop Savas, head of the Greek Orthodox Office of Society and Culture, is starting a new blog called Living in the LOGOSphere (no posts yet). He told Greek News that the new blog "will have a different, less personal, less whimsical character" than the travel diary blog he authored last year. Readers of the AOI Observer will recall that his blog greeting to the new president after last year's election included this exclamation: This is the Day that the Lord has made! The editorial focus on the new blog will range from "the political to the environmental, from bioethical issues to trends in popular culture," the bishop says. A number of writers will be involved. This is a positive development and welcomed here. Too much of what passes for "social witness" in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in recent years has been focused on the very mixed bag of "national issues" of the Greek state and constant collaboration with various and sundry Greek pols and bureaucrats. Defense of the … [Read more...]