April 24, 2014

Kremlin, Vatican upgrade diplomatic ties

Kremlin

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI and visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed Thursday to upgrade Vatican-Kremlin relations to full diplomatic ties, the Vatican said. The step forward on the diplomatic front comes at the same time as a warming in previously tense relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican. A Vatican statement said Benedict and Medvedev agreed that Russia will upgrade its representation at the Vatican from a special mission to embassy level and that the Vatican will reciprocate in Moscow. The two men also discussed challenges to "security and peace" in the world and "themes of mutual interest such as the value of the family and the contribution of believers to the life of Russia," the Vatican said. More >>> … [Read more...]

Archbishop Hilarion responds to U.S. State Dept. report on religious freedom

In late October, the State Department released the 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom, a study annually submitted to Congress. Remarks on the study by Michael H. Posner, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, are available here. (The country report for Turkey is available here.) The Russian foreign ministry said, on publication of the report, that it was compelled "to reiterate our previous repeated assessments of the U.S. State Department report as a politically engaged, garbled document which intentionally distorts the real situation of religious freedom in Russia and keeps silent about positive developments in this field." Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk issued his own response to the State Department study (full text at the bottom of this post) which amounts to a summary of the Moscow Patriarchate's position on religious freedom in Russia. While much more temperate than the Russian government's response, the archbishop's letter did, … [Read more...]

Robert P. George on the Manhattan Declaration

Robert P. George

Princeton professor Robert P. George, one of the drafters of the Manhattan Declaration, is interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez on National Review Online. LOPEZ: Why just Christians? GEORGE: For too long, the historic traditions of Catholicism, Evangelical Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy have failed to speak formally with a united voice, despite their deep agreement on fundamental questions of morality, justice, and the common good. The Manhattan Declaration provided leaders of these traditions with an opportunity to rectify that. It is gratifying that they were willing — indeed eager — to seize that opportunity. Of course, as Cardinal Justin Rigali observed at the press conference at which the Declaration was released, the foundational principles it defends “are not the unique preserve of any particular Christian community or of the Christian tradition as a whole. . . . They are principles that can be known and honored by men and women of goodwill even apart from divine … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew greets Vatican delegation at the Phanar

Pat. Bartholomew and Card. Kasper

From the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle: Istanbul, Turkey 11/30/2009 His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed a Vatican delegation representing Pope Benedict XVI at the Thronal Feast of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on November 30, 2009. The delegation, led by Cardinal Walter Kasper also delivered greetings to His All Holiness on behalf of Pope Benedict. The Ecumenical Patriarch's greeting on the feast of St. Andrew the First Called follows: Your Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper, representative of His Holiness the Pope and Bishop of Rome, Benedict XVI, and your honorable entourage, It is with great joy that we welcome you once again to the courtyard of the Church of New Rome in order to concelebrate the sacred memory of its founder and protector Saint Andrew the First-Called of the Apostles. We express our heartfelt gratitude to our beloved brother in the Lord, His Holiness Pope Benedict of Old Rome, who deigned to delegate his representatives to the … [Read more...]

Benedict to Bartholomew: Unity through truth and charity, not power

Pope Benedict and Pat. Bartholomew

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received a message today from Pope Benedict XVI at the Phanar on the occasion of the Feastday of St. Andrew the Apostle. The pope's message was delivered by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, during the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George. From AsiaNews.it: Following an old tradition dating back to Pope Paul VI, the two Churches send delegations to celebrate their respective patron saints, an Orthodox delegation coming to Rome on the Feast Day of SS Peter and Paul (29 June), and a Vatican delegation travelling to the Phanar for the Feast Day of Saint Andrew (30 November). Led by Card Walter Kasper, the Vatican delegation took part in the Divine Liturgy celebrated this morning in the Phanar by Bartholomew. At the end Cardinal Kasper, who chairs the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, handed the patriarch the papal message. The theological dialogue … [Read more...]

Report: Egyptian State Security Accused of Cover-up in Muslim Riots

From the Assyrian International News Agency. (HT: The Volokh Conspiracy): Cairo (AINA) -- In an effort to cover up the Muslim mob violence against the Copts which broke out last week in the town of Farshoot and neighboring villages (AINA 11-22-2009, 11-23-2009), and in view of the complete news blackout imposed by the Egyptian government, Egyptian State Security has intensified its pressure on the Coptic Church in Nag Hammadi and the victims of the violence into accepting extrajudicial reconciliation with the perpetrators, and opening their businesses without any compensation. Similar State Security scenarios have been experienced by Copts in all sectarian incidents in the past, in which they always come out as losers, having been forced to give up civil and criminal charges, while the criminals get away scot-free. "There will be no reconciliation before full financial compensation has been paid to the Coptic victims, and the criminals are brought to justice, so that safety … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill calls for powerful reply to train bomb

From Reuters: A blast derailed a high-speed Russian train Friday night on the main line between Moscow and Russia's second city, St Petersburg, raising fears of a new wave of attacks five years after a bombing campaign in Moscow by Chechen rebels. "We believe the reply will be effective and powerful enough to show these shameful, terrible people that ... when the hand of an enemy is lifted against our lives, we are able to defend our citizens," Patriarch Kirill said at a memorial service in Moscow. The comments were the strongest statement of anger against the perpetrators by a senior public figure. President Dmitry Medvedev Saturday called for calm and ordered officials to do everything to help the victims of the attack. No one has claimed responsibility for the blast, but security analysts said militant groups from Russia's mainly Muslim North Caucasus were the most likely culprits. … [Read more...]

Report: ‘Serious violations’ of human rights in Turkey

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Here's an introductory clip from Forum 18's "TURKEY: Religious freedom survey, November 2009": Ahead of the UN Human Rights Council May 2010 Universal Periodic Review of Turkey, Forum 18 News Service has found that the country continues to see serious violations of international human rights standards on freedom of religion or belief. A long-standing crucially important issue, with many implications, is that Turkey has not legally recognised religious communities in their own right as independent communities with full legal status - such as the right to own places of worship and the legal protection religious communities normally have in states under the rule of law. Additionally, the most dangerous threat to individuals exercising freedom of religion or belief has been a series of violent attacks and murders on those perceived as threats; in recent years the victims have been Christians. Here's a hypothetical: What if American bishops in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese applied … [Read more...]

Fr. Symeon on the Manhattan Declaration

(HT: ONet) On the one hand there are those who find it [the Manhattan Declaration] “shocking” and part of the culture war, etc. These are frightened that the document will be perceived as harsh and unloving, etc.. God forbid that anyone Christian ever stand in public for Truth. And on the other hand those that are relieved to see an Orthodox Pastor with backbone to stand with others and speak truth to error, truth to power, and truth to the politically correct stricture in our society that is choking free speech and seeking to criminalize Truth. – If this much sets you off, don’t bother to read further. My Bishop, fifth generation Orthodox priest, survived the Holodomor, the systematic starvation of between 10 and 20 million people mostly Christians in Ukraine by the communist in 1932 and 33. His father was forbidden to celebrate divine liturgy – all Christian worship was forbidden. He celebrated liturgy anyway and at the end of the service the local commissar showed up and … [Read more...]

Why he signed the Manhattan Declaration

albert-mohler

R. Albert Mohler Jr, the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes on his blog that he is not usually "inclined to sign manifestos or petitions." Because he is not reluctant to speak out on matters of faith and on public square issues, he is not usually "impressed" with public statements such as the Manhattan Declaration. Nor did he, as one with a deep antipathy to Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity, sign because the declaration was an attempt "to establish common ground on vast theological terrain." Yet Mohler made an exception for the Manhattan Declaration. Here's why: There are several reasons, but they all come down to this -- I believe we are facing an inevitable and culture-determining decision on the three issues centrally identified in this statement. I also believe that we will experience a significant loss of Christian churches, denominations, and institutions in this process. There is every good reason to believe that the freedom to … [Read more...]

A ‘Controversial’ Priest

The Russian Orthodox priest gunned down in his church last week was buried yesterday in Moscow. There has been an intense amount of media coverage of this crime and most of the speculation, by the media and police authorities, centers on a suspected Islamist killer in light of Fr. Daniel Sysoyev's outspoken and aggressive campaign to promote Orthodox Christianity among Muslims and other non-Christian communities. From the Moscow Times: Church insiders said the attack, which happened late Thursday in southern Moscow, could have been the work of radical Islamists, who had regularly threatened him for preaching to Muslims. Law enforcement officials said they believed religion was the primary motive in the killing. The 35-year-old Sysoyev, who led the St. Thomas Church on Kantemirovskaya Ulitsa, was shot point-blank four times by an unidentified man wearing a medical face mask, police said. He was severely wounded and died in an ambulance. Vladimir Strelbitsky, a … [Read more...]

Letters to Metropolitan Gerasimos and Rep. Dina Titus

From the Solomon Hezekiah blog: His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco 245 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94103 Your Eminence As an American member of the Greek Orthodox Church currently living abroad, I was appalled when I learned that a member of your diocese serving in the United State House of Representatives, Dina Titus, publicly declares that she supports ethics of which Orthodox Christians would be proud and uses her position in Congress to look out for Orthodox issues. Rep. Titus’ ethics are in direct contradiction to the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Rep. Titus openly supports the federally sponsored killing of the unborn. By her words and actions she is declaring that support for abortion is compatible with Orthodoxy. … [Read more...]