April 20, 2014

Met. Kirill named Patriarch of Russian Orthodox Church

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad has been elected head of the Russian Orthodox Church. He will become the 16th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. The International Herald Tribune described him as "an articulate critic of declining moral values in the modern world who has been actively involved in the ecumenical movement and [has] called for the Russian Orthodox Church to step up its outreach in secular society ... " Novosti said the 62-year-old Metropolitan "received 508 votes, and the second candidate, Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk - 169 votes. A total of 700 ballots were cast in the vote, with 23 recognized as invalid." He is expected to be enthroned on Sunday and his term of office is lifelong. The Moscow Times highlighted Metropolitan Kirill's ecumenical work, noting that he is "an experienced diplomat who has been the church's point man in often-difficult negotiations with other churches, prompting speculation that he might take steps to improve … [Read more...]

Theophany of Our Lord

The Theophany

From the OCA site: Troparion - Tone 1 When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan The worship of the Trinity was made manifest For the voice of the Father bore witness to You And called You His beloved Son. And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, Confirmed the truthfulness of His word. O Christ, our God, You have revealed Yourself And have enlightened the world, glory to You! Kontakion - Tone 4 Today You have shown forth to the world, O Lord, and the light of Your countenance has been marked on us. Knowing You, we sing Your praises. You have come and revealed Yourself, O unapproachable Light. Christmas Message of the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad to the Archpastors, Pastors, Monastics and All Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church: Beloved in the Lord my brethren archpastors, honourable presbyters, pious deacons, God-loving monks and nuns and all faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church. … [Read more...]

Alexy II: A ‘Transitional’ Patriarch

Vladimir Berezansky, Jr., a U.S. lawyer with experience in Russia and former Soviet republics, recalls an interview with Patriarch Alexy II in 1991. Like many Russians at the time, the Patriarch was coping with a "disorienting change" following the fall of the Soviet Empire, Berezansky writes. At the time, he seemed overcome by the changes taking place around him, and he did not know where to begin. "For our entire lives, we [clerics] were pariahs, and now we are being called on to do everything: chaplains for the military, ministries to hospitals, orphanages, prisons," he said. He even voiced regret about taking the time to travel to the United States. But he had gambled -- correctly, as it turned out -- that he could do more for his flock by seeking foreign assistance than by staying home to manage the Russian Orthodox Church's destitution. His plate was full and overflowing, and he seemed keenly aware of the ironies of his situation. The Russian state was returning … [Read more...]

The Church and the Terror State

Priests, archbishops and a metropolitan imprisoned in the Solovetsky labor camp (1926). Solovetsky, a thriving monastery before the Bolshevik takover, was returned to the Russian Church in 1990. Source: Tomas Kizny

The Moscow Times reports on the funeral of Russian Patriarch Alexy II: Candles flickered and white-robed elders chanted prayers as the country bade farewell Tuesday to Patriarch Alexy II, who guided the country's dominant Russian Orthodox Church through its remarkable recovery after decades of Communist-era repression. Nuns, believers and government officials looked on as prayers filled the soaring Christ the Savior Cathedral at a six-hour funeral service for Alexy, who died Friday at age 79. He was buried later Tuesday at the Epiphany Cathedral across town in a ceremony closed to the public and media, the church said ... "We are burying a great man, a great son of our nation, a beautiful holy fruit grown by our Russian church," Reverend Dmitry Smirnov, a Moscow archpriest, said in an address at the funeral, which was broadcast live on state-run television. "Our whole nation has been orphaned." The BBC has a clip from the very moving funeral service here. I published "The … [Read more...]

Russia Prays for its Patriarch

The death of Russian Patriarch Aleksy II, the man who guided the world's largest Orthodox Church during Soviet repression and then into a period of recovery and growth, will occasion a time of deep reflection and prayer for Orthodox Christians the world over. The Zenit News Service has published this touching account of the Patriarch's passing by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria, representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to European Organizations: In my memory Patriarch Alexy will remain first of all as a loving father, who was always ready to listen, who was supportive and gentle. Almost half of the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, including myself, were ordained into episcopate by Patriarch Alexy. We are all deeply indebted to him. The years of his patriarchate constituted an entire epoch in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church. It was precisely in this time that the resurrection of the Russian Church took place, which continues to this … [Read more...]

Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches

Leaders of the world's Orthodox churches released a joint statement that touched on far ranging issues of interest to the Church, including the global economic crisis, the environment and the prospects for further pan-Orthodox consultations and a Holy and Great Council. The primates were gathered for the Oct. 10-12 Synaxis of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches and Pauline Symposium at the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George in Istanbul, Turkey. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I addressed the gathering on Oct. 10, saying that "such a Synaxis is deemed necessary and beneficial, especially in times like ours, when the personal encounter and conversation among responsible leaders in all public domains of human life is rendered increasingly accessible and essential." The Message from the Primates, posted on the Europaica site, also pointedly affirmed the Church's role in the social sphere. "Efforts to distance religion from societal life constitute the common … [Read more...]

Orthodox Christian Patriarchs Celebrate Baptism of Russia

Orthodox Churches have long been involved in ecumenical projects, such as the World Council of Churches, and affirm the Lord's mandate "that they all may be one" (John 17:21). Yet, I can't help thinking at times that the Orthodox Churches might work a little harder at unity in their own house. For that reason, it was encouraging to follow the progress of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios' recent visit to the Moscow Patriarchate and see Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I side by side with Patriarch Alexy II for the celebration of the baptism of Russia. The Greeks and the Russians have had some contentious moments of late, such as the controversy over who shall have jurisdiction for Orthodox Christians in Estonia. Good background here in an AP story on the tensions between the Ukrainians and Russians: Ukrainian officials are determined to use the events to lobby for autonomy for the local church from Russia, while the dominant Moscow Patriarchate will fight to retain … [Read more...]