April 16, 2014

New book. Orthodox Christianity at the Crossroad: A Great Council of the Church, When and Why?

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By Archbisop Nathaniel of Detroit. HT: Orthodox News As plans are moving ahead for the convening of preparatory meetings for a Great and Holy Council to take place in Cyprus in June 2009, you need to prepare yourself for what is at stake through these meetings.  How can you prepare yourself?  Pray that the Holy Spirit guide the participants and read this timely volume: Orthodox Christianity at the Crossroad: A Great Council of the Church - When and Why One of the many tracts that the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) organization has distributed during its twenty years of service to Holy Orthodoxy in North America is An Orthodox Christian Church in the United States: Unified and Self-governed, copyrighted in 2000. It is given out at all meetings and sent to the mailing list of the organization. On the outside back cover is a statement entitled “Resolution for Autocephaly Adopted October 10, 1998,” in which an appeal is made to His All Holiness, … [Read more...]

Holy Cross Faculty Weighs in on ‘Distinctive Prerogatives’ of Ecumenical Patriarch

The Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass., released a "Faculty Statement on the Ecumenical Patriarchate" on April 30 and posted it on the school's Web site on May 8. HT: Andrew. Text follows: The Leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Significance of Canon 28 of Chalcedon The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the preeminent Church in the communion of the fourteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches. Reflecting the witness of St. Andrew, the First Called Apostle, the enduring mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is to proclaim the salutary Gospel of Jesus Christ in accordance with the Apostolic and Orthodox Faith. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has a particular responsibility to strengthen the unity of the Orthodox Churches and to coordinate their common witness. At the same time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has a specific responsibility to care for the faithful in lands beyond the borders of the other Autocephalous … [Read more...]

Benedict XVI in the Holy Land

Pope Benedict's trip is off to a good start and the intense media coverage (1,300 journalists covering the trip by one estimate) is already bringing much needed attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East. The Bishop of Rome has a deep appreciation for Eastern Christianity, as did his predecessor John Paul II. In his Vespers homily delivered in the Greek-Melkite Cathedral of St. George in Amman, Benedict said this: The ancient living treasure of the traditions of the Eastern Churches enriches the universal Church and could never be understood simply as objects to be passively preserved. All Christians are called to respond actively to the Lord's mandate -- as Saint George did in dramatic ways according to popular record -- to bring others to know and love him. In fact the vicissitudes of history have strengthened the members of particular Churches to embrace this task with vigor and to engage resolutely with the pastoral realities of today. Most of you trace ancient … [Read more...]

Wisdom from Samuel Adams

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Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Icon of Christ opening the gates of Dachau

Every Pascha, I repost two stories on OrthodoxyToday.org. that tell how Orthodox prisoners in Dachau held the Paschal Liturgy during their liberation. The first, "The Souls of All are Aflame" provides historical background and detail. The second, "Pascha in Dachau" recounts the story of a prisoner who was there. Dachua was liberated during Holy Week. The Orthodox believers experienced Christ's triumph over the forces of darkness to a depth that is difficult to understand. It is hard to fathom the depravity the evil ideologies fostered in their persecutors short of any direct experience, but anyone who has confronted lesser evils knows that such great evil can exist. The resurrection of Christ is the final confrontation to the horrors unleashed when the embrace of Nazism and Communism opened the jaws of a deep hell. We see it in our own day too, especially the embrace of the nihilistic fantasies that fuel the arguments that devalue human life. It began with that faceless figure, … [Read more...]

Fr. Alexander Schmemann on Primacy in the Orthodox Church

Many of the current jurisdictional controversies within the Orthodox Church involving the Ecumenical Patriarch, relations between Constantinople and Moscow, the status of the "autocephalies" -- even the future of the American Orthodox Church -- hinge on the question of primacy. While Orthodox Christians have rejected the Roman model of primacy as "supreme power" over the Bishop and local Church, the question of primacy within the Orthodox Church is a complete muddle. In "The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology," an essay written in 1960 and now available on the AOI main site, Fr. Alexander Schmemann examines various aspects of the primacy question, an issue he describes as "on the agenda for our time." As he reminds us, the ecclesiological interpretation of primacy -- regional, autocephalous, and "universal" -- is "virtually absent" from from Orthodox theology. "We badly need a clarification of the nature and functions of all these primacies and, first of all, of the very concept … [Read more...]

Met. Jonah to Old World bishops: Hands Off the American Church!

In a stinging rebuke to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America issued a call for a unified American Church and rejected any path to unity that would mean "we surrender the freedom we have embraced as American Orthodox Christians to a patriarchate still under Islamic domination." The video here records his sermon on April 5 at Pan-Orthodox vespers at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas. Although he did not mention him by name, the Metropolitan was responding to a speech given March 16 at Holy Cross School of Theology by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, chief secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In the speech, Fr. Lambriniadis was critical of calls for unity by both the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese and OCA and asserted that "submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate" is the proper mode of unity for American Orthodox Christians. To such a … [Read more...]

Obama in the Blue Mosque

Obama in the Hagia Sophia (April 2009)

President Barack Obama, center, is accompanied by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rear center, and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, fourth from right, rear, as he visits the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, April 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) … [Read more...]

Obama Waffling on Armenian Genocide Declaration?

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Obama administration "is hesitating on a promised presidential declaration that Armenians were the victims of genocide in the early 20th century, fearful of alienating Turkey when U.S. officials badly want its help." The L. A. Times, in "Obama wavers on pledge to declare Armenian genocide," says Obama and "other top administration officials" were to officially designate the 1915 killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide. But the administration also has been soliciting Ankara's help on Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other security issues amid Turkish warnings that an official U.S. statement would imperil Turkey's assistance. Administration officials are considering postponing a presidential statement, citing progress toward a thaw in relations between Turkey and neighboring Armenia. Further signs of warming -- such as talk of reopening border crossings -- would strengthen arguments that a U.S. statement could imperil the … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarchate: American ‘Diaspora’ must submit to Mother Church

Arch. Elpidophoros Lamprianidis

The battle is joined. Highlight: With regards to the United States, the submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only fitting with the American society and mentality but also it opens up the horizons of possibilities for this much-promising region, which is capable of becoming an example of Pan-Orthodox unity and witness. The Mother Church of Constantinople safeguards for the Orthodox Church in America those provisions that are needed for further progress and maturity in Christ. Full text follows: Challenges of Orthodoxy in America And the Role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate By Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod (Chapel of the Holy Cross, March 16, 2009) Reverend Protopresbyter Nicholas Triantafyllou, President, Reverend Protopresbyter Thomas Fitzgerald, Dean of the School of Theology, Reverend and Esteemed Members of the Faculty and … [Read more...]

More plans for Pan-Orthodox Synod

Asianews has an update on the preparatory meetings for a pan-Orthodox synod, which seems to be gaining momentum. After various mishaps, in 1961 a pan-Orthodox conference was convened in Rhodes, with significant pressure from patriarch Athenagoras, for the purpose of preparing an Orthodox synod. This conference was also followed by numerous obstacles, because as theologian Giorgos Tetsetis observes, the local Churches did not have a clear idea of what they wanted from the Synod. "It is time," says Fr. Tetsetis, a theologian for the ecumenical patriarchate, "that our Church finally realize that it is doing poorly as a whole. The Church needs an open and sincere dialogue. Because it is only then, with its rich tradition as a compass, that it will be able to emerge from its blind alley and together face its existential problems, which are becoming increasingly severe and complicated. It is only then that the importance of the Ecumenical Patriarch's initiative can be … [Read more...]

Mor Gabriel, Halki and Obama

A very timely story yesterday in the Wall Street Journal by Andrew Higgins about a land dispute between Syriac Orthodox monastery Mor Gabriel and Turkish authorities. Also yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, during a stop in Ankara, announced that President Obama will be visiting Turkey "in a month or so." She said this toward the end of her public remarks: I reiterate the Obama Administration’s support for Turkey’s membership in the European Union. The United States believes it will strengthen Turkey, Europe, and our transatlantic partnership. The United States continues to support the UN-sponsored talks now taking place to achieve a settlement of the Cyprus conflict based on reunification of the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. We talked about Turkey’s democracy, its multiethnic heritage, and in that context, I raised the importance that we place on reopening the Halki Seminary and efforts to reach out to all of Turkey’s communities. For … [Read more...]