April 23, 2014

Another Brawl at the Holy Sepulchre

Maybe it's time to put these on pay-per-view, like they do for the cage fighters. Here's the report from AP on those brawlin' monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem: A bearded Armenian monk in a red-and-pink robe and a black-clad Greek Orthodox monk with a bloody gash on his forehead were both taken away in handcuffs after scuffling with dozens of riot police. Six Christian sects divide control of the ancient church. They regularly fight over turf and influence, and Israeli police are occasionally forced to intervene. Note to AP: The Orthodox Church is not a "sect." Note to monks: I teach my Sunday School class that Christianity is The Way of brotherly love, peacemaking, and mastery of the passions. You are not making my job easier. … [Read more...]

New study: The Orthodox Church Today

The Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, based in Berkeley, Calif., has released what it is calling "the first national survey based study of the laity, ordinary church members, in the two largest Orthodox Churches in the United States: the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) and the Orthodox Church in America (OCA)." To a significant degree, PAOI said, the study reflects the profile of an entire Orthodox community in the United States. "The Orthodox Church Today" study addressed four broad questions: -- What is the "image" of the Orthodox clergy in the eyes of the "people in the pews?" -- To what extent do the social and religious attitudes of the ordinary parishioners reflect those of their parish priests? -- What do church members think about patterns of Church life in their local parishes? -- What do laity think about various issues dealing with "Democracy and Pluralism in the chirch," "Changes and Innovations in the Church," and "religious "Particularism' … [Read more...]

California Bishops Support Ballot Initiative on Marriage

Orthodox bishops have announced their support for Proposition 8, known as the "California Marriage Protection Act." The measure would amend the state constitution by adding this line: Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. More on this proposal on the Protect Marriage Web site. Here is the message from Orthodox bishops: A Statement of the Orthodox Christian Bishops of California in Support of Proposition 8: A Constitutional Amendment to Restore the Definition of Marriage The decision of the California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008, unilaterally redefines the sacred institution of marriage in a manner unprecedented in human history — and alien to our Christian tradition. We, the Orthodox Christian bishops of California, were saddened by this decision which constitutes a direct attack upon the longstanding role and freedom of religion in American life. A majority of the justices declared not only that same-sex couplings must be allowed … [Read more...]

Michalopulos responds to Katopodis on ‘Orthodox Dominionists’

George C. Michalopulos has submitted the following in response to Harry Katopodis' article on Orthodox Dominionists. Michalopulos is co-author, with Herb Ham, of "The American Orthodox Church -- A History of its Beginnings" (Regina Orthodox Press). Michalopulos: It never ceases to amaze me how certain benighted and theologically inept individuals take upon themselves the task of speaking for Christ’s Church as it traverses on its voyage through history. One such individual fears that the so-called religious right has made inroads into the Orthodox Church in North America, and that it is only because of noble souls such as himself that tolerance can only be found in one remaining bastion, i.e. the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. And of what is Katapodis afraid? In no particular order: converts, “theocons,” non-GOAA bishops, and the rising tide of pro-lifers within American Orthodoxy. The ridiculousness does … [Read more...]

Mattingly on Fr. John Peck

Update (10/13/08): The complete, unedited column is now available on Terry Mattingly's site under the title, "Beyond Orthodox folk dancing." (10/11/08): Religion writer Terry Mattingly has a column in today's Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera newspaper that is a must read. He looks at the controversy surrounding the publication of Fr. John Peck's "The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow" here on the Web site of the American Orthodox Institute. Mattingly is a blogger at the GetReligion site, a syndicated columnist, and directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He recently joined AOI as an adviser. About Fr. Peck, Mattingly said that "the 46-year-old priest wrote an article about the positive Orthodox trends in America, as well as offering candid talk about the problems faced by some of his friends. He finished 'The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow' soon after arriving at the Greek Orthodox mission in Prescott, Ariz., and sent it to the American … [Read more...]

Katopodis Responds to ‘Orthodox Dominionists’

Mr. Harry Katopodis has sent AOI an article to further elaborate on the thinking behind his article in the Hellenic Voice, "Religious Right Must Not Set Agenda for Orthodox Church." Which led to my post, "Where are the Orthodox Dominionists?" The Katopodis response is published here unedited: Dominionists or Pro-Life? By Harry Katopodis Several bloggers have criticized my article because I called called pro-life Orthodox dominionists, however the difference in reality is very small. The point is that whether I call them dominionists or religious right their stands are very similar, put Christian values and doctrine in the government of the United States. I was raised in the Orthodox Church, and I left the Greek Church and went to the OCA so I could hear English services. A few years later I returned home to the Greek Church when I felt I wasn’t welcome in the OCA because I am a Democrat and a proud union member that votes for Democrats because it is in my economic interest … [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...]

Clergy-Laity: ‘a changing of mentality and attitude’

Just back from Washington where I attended the 39th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. This was my first Clergy-Laity and I am glad I went. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, in his keynote address, went beyond the theoretical to actual application when he developed the theme of the Congress: "Gather My People to My Home." Any effort for a serious application of our theme must begin with a changing of mentality and attitude. We must change from an exclusive and all absorbing focusing on our parish to an awareness of the existence of people outside of our Parishes, Metropolises and Archdiocese. People who have the right to know what we know as the truth of God, to taste the joy of participating in our ecclesial community, and to experience the blessings we experience to be with God as we are by being Greek Orthodox Christians. The area of our focused action should gradually be enlarged by including those who are outside, by … [Read more...]

The Cohabitation Bomb

In the most emphatic fashion, reports the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, the Church of Greece’s Holy Synod yesterday declared its opposition to the government’s bid to give unmarried couples greater rights by stating that any form of relationship other than a couple married in an Orthodox Church is tantamount to “prostitution.” The Synod said that a draft law under consideration constituted a “catastrophic bomb” being placed under the foundations of Greek society. Archbishop Ieronymos II, the new leader of the Church of Greece who arrived with the reputation for being a moderate, was pushing for a moderate position on the issue. But the other 12 members of the Synod would have none of it. “The Church accepts and blesses the established wedding, according to Orthodox traditions, and considers any other type of similar relationship to be prostitution,” the Synod said in a statement. … [Read more...]

Recognizing the Orthodox in China

Metropolitan Nektarios, newly enthroned at the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia, says his priorities include dealing with the Chinese government to bring about the recognition of Orthodox Christians in mainland China. "There are many Orthodox in the port cities in South China. Greeks are working on the ships and they want a place of worship," Metropolitan Nektarios told Ecumenical News International on 29 February. "The pastoral activities are first for the [Orthodox] Greeks, then for the Chinese. There are only a few Orthodox Chinese there." In January, Met. Nektarios told Asia News: "Orthodoxy, as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has said, is not anxious about expanding its numerical and geographical extension, but it wants to make man, with his passions and limitations, understand his true worth. Its power is spiritual, and its purpose is the diakonia [service] of man, in order to realise the divine within man. There is great need for this in our little … [Read more...]