July 29, 2014

Orthodox Bishops Assembly Silent on Moral Issues

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By John Couretas - At an October 1970 meeting of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the Americas (SCOBA), which was called to discuss the burning question of an independent American Church, the presiding conference chair Archbishop Iakovos got fed up and quit. Official letters raising the subject of independence had been sent to the “mother Churches” in Constantinople, Bucharest, Belgrade, Athens and other Orthodox “centers” pointing for the need to do something about the chaotic “situation of Orthodoxy in America.” Only three replies came back. To the Greek Orthodox Iakovos, this was proof that no one took SCOBA seriously and, for that matter, the American Orthodox. The archbishop resigned from SCOBA in disgust, saying that he had no desire to be the head of a “dead body.” According to a contemporary account, the official minutes of the meeting were forged to cover up what would turn out to be a temporary … [Read more...]

Mattingly: Pope Benedict, President Obama and Religious Freedom

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- Source: The Republic | Terry Mattingly Pope Benedict XVI cut to the chase when meeting with the visiting bishops from Washington, D.C., Baltimore and the U.S. armed services. The pope mentioned "religious freedom" in the third sentence of his Jan. 19 remarks at the Vatican and he never let up -- returning to this hot topic again and again. The bottom line, he said, is that America's once-strong political consensus has "eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such." It doesn't matter if these attacks originate in "radical secularism," "radical individualism," a "merely scientific rationality" or suppressive forms of "majority rule," said Benedict, during one in an ongoing series of meetings with American bishops. Catholic leaders must strive to defend church teachings in ways that reach all believers in their … [Read more...]

Why is the Orthodox Episcopal Assembly Silent as Religious Liberty Erodes?

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Source: Fr. Peter-Michael Preble Blog (The Church Under Attack) | Fr. Peter-Michael Preble - In the Gospels Jesus warns us that the world will hate us. He is giving us a warning that being a Christian will not be easy and that it will be a fight, every day, for what we believe in. The world is becoming increasingly hostile to the truth of Jesus Christ and I do not see it getting any better. Yesterday I posted an essay on the Huffington Post Religion Page and before my finger was even off the send button the attackers came out. They hate the fact that the church would dare speak out on issues that affect people and their beliefs, one of the more shocking things was that some of those attacking my words were Orthodox! Yes, the Orthodox Church teaches and preaches traditional family values, well it is supposed to anyway, but I fear that many of my brother priests have not done their job. I know our bishops have not done their job as they have been silent these last few years as the … [Read more...]

Religious Freedom Under Attack

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Three cheers to Fr. Peter Michael-Preble and Chris Banescu, the first Orthodox Christians to criticize Pres. Obama's arbitrary ruling forcing all Americans to comply with the anti-life agenda of the cultural left. The Catholics have been front and center on this threat to religious freedom. Orthodox leaders have been silent except for Fr. Preble and Banescu who recognize the dangers inherent in the policy change. Source: Huffington Post | Fr. Peter-Michael Prebble America has a very long tradition of freedom. We cherish these freedoms like, the freedom of speech, freedom of religion and until recently, freedom of choice. I will admit right up front that I voted for President Obama because, like many, I believed we needed change. Well I now feel I was duped and his brand of change is not what America needs at all. As an Orthodox priest and an American I believe in traditional family values like marriage, family, saving one's self for that person we plan to spend the rest … [Read more...]

Obama’s Assault on Religious Liberty

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Source: The Voice Blog | Chris Banescu - President Barack Obama, a life-long Champion for Abortion, is hell-bent on forcing religious institutions to pay for birth control and abortion drugs coverage for their employees. New regulations implemented by the Obama administration mandate that sterilization options, abortifacients (abortion drugs), and contraception services must be included in virtually all health plans, including those offered by Christian charities, church-based hospitals, Christian universities, and other faith-based social services agencies. Obama now demands that his anti-life and pro-abortion agenda must be supported not only by our tax dollars, but also by the donations of Christians who consider the destruction of human life morally abhorrent and an abomination. Abortion is held in such high regard by President Obama that he is willing to violate the First Amendment religious rights of millions of Americans in order to impose and fund his agenda. On January … [Read more...]

Pope to American Bishops: Secularism Threatens Liberty, Church Must Respond

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Freedom detached from moral truth, said Pope Benedict XVI in a recent address to American Catholic Bishops, reflects an "extreme individualism" that requires response from the (Catholic) Church. This is an argument not limited to Catholics alone (see: "Has Europe Lost its Soul" by Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks) and includes the Orthodox as well (see: "With the Rise of Militant Secularism, Rome and Moscow Make Common Cause"). "The Gospel," said Pope Benedict, "proclaims unchanging moral truths," as indeed it does. If those truths are not proclaimed, particularly in the cauldron of moral confusion that characterizes Western Culture today, then we can conclude that fidelity to the Gospel does not exist. This is a hard saying but true: if religious leaders remain silent on the moral issues that have become flashpoints in the culture, then it is time to question whether they really comprehend this gospel that they say they guard. The Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be conflated to a political … [Read more...]

Patriarch Urges Russia’s Government To ‘Listen’ And ‘Correct The Course’

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (left) with President Dmitry Medvedev at the Church of Our Lady's Nativity in the Kremlin

Much political and social analysis in America about the Russian Orthodox Church tends to view Russia through the lens of the Cold War. Russia remains an enemy to American interests and the Russian Orthodox Church is merely a vassal to the Russian State that sanctifies, as it were, state policies that are inimical to American ideals, including freedom of religion. It's a peculiar analysis that is more concerned about maintaining neo-conservative ideas about the relationship of the state to civic values (as opposed to the conservative ideas of thinkers like Russell Kirk and others) that sheds little light on either Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church, or the relationship between religion and culture. The brief report below on the warning from Patriarch Kyrill to the leadership of the Russian State reveals that the neo-con assumption about the subservience of the Russian Church to the State is wrong. Source: Radio Free Europe The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has used a … [Read more...]

The Limits of Secularism

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An outsanding analysis by the Chief Rabbi of England Lord Sacks. Some highlights: In 1997...I argued that the world had moved on since (Isaiah) Berlin's great 1957 lecture "Two Concepts of Liberty" (.pdf), and that the threat to liberty was now different: not totalitarianism but rather the internal moral decay of free societies. So there it is: the evidence that intellectuals have systematically misunderstood the nature of religion and religious observance and have constantly been thinking, for the better part of three centuries, that religion was about to disappear, yet it hasn't. In certain parts of the world it is growing. The 21st century is likely to be a more religious century than the 20th. It is interesting that religion is particularly growing in places like China where the economy is growing. We must ask ourselves why this is, because it is actually very odd indeed. Think about it: every function that was once performed by religion can now be done by something else. … [Read more...]

Nigel Farage on the EU Descent into Bureaucratic Facism and Roger Scruton on the Recovery of Western Culture [VIDEO]

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Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, delivered a stinging rebuke to European Union bureaucrats recently accusing them of using the mechanisms of the EU to stifle democratic forces in Europe. The UKIP leader says Europe's crisis is 'like an Agatha Christie novel', trying to guess who'll be bumped off next. 'The difference is we know who the villains are' (City Wire). For background see: On Germany and Britain (and others). Following Farage's rebuke is a lecture by philosopher Roger Scruton. Scruton, arguably one the clearest thinkers speaking on culture and politics today, argues for the recovery and restoration of Western Culture. Scruton can always be trusted for insights not heard in mainstream discourse such as questioning what would happen if the Russian Federation would crumble and cause a immigration crisis in Western Europe, a good question. Another is his criticism of Western Elites concerning the assumption that majority opinion is de-facto wrong simply … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Hilarion Accuses West of Leaving Egypt Christians in the Lurch

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The Episcopal Assembly could be in the forefront of this. Moscow, November 1, Interfax - Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations has accused the West of failing to stand up for Egyptian Christians during recent violence against them and has slammed Western governments for putting economic interests before human life. "Despite the unprecedented escalation of violence against Christians in Egypt early in October, not a single Western country has put any pressure on the provisional military authorities of that country or threatened economic sanctions," a statement from the Synodal Department for External Church Relations quoted Metropolitan Hilarion as saying during a ceremony at the university of Lugano, Switzerland, in which he had the degree of doctor honoris causa conferred on him. Footage showing armored personnel carriers "crushing a peaceful Coptic demonstration and shooting at unarmed people remain outside … [Read more...]

With the Rise of Militant Secularism, Rome and Moscow Make Common Cause

Pat. Kyrill and Pope Benedict

The Acton Institute just published my essay. Source: Acton Institute | Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse The European religious press is abuzz over recent developments in Orthodox – Catholic relations that indicate both Churches are moving closer together. The diplomatic centerpiece of the activity would be a meeting of Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kyrill of the Russian Orthodox Church that was first proposed by Pope John Paul II but never realized. Some look to a meeting in 2013 which would mark the 1,700th anniversary of the signing of the Edict of Milan when Constantine lifted the persecution of Christians. It would be the first visit between the Pope of Rome and Patriarch of Moscow in history. A few short years ago a visit between Pope and Patriarch seemed impossible because of lingering problems between the two Churches as they reasserted territorial claims and began the revival of the faith in post-Soviet Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. The relationship grew tense at times and while … [Read more...]

Hadley Arkes. From California: Another Front in the Culture Wars

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Source: Ruth Institute | By Hadley Arkes From California again we get a glimpse of the future – or the future that a political class is consciously seeking to prepare for us in reshaping the culture. During the summer the legislature enacted, and Governor Jerry Brown signed into law, SB48, as an amendment to “the Education Code, relating to instruction.” That Code had already made ample provision to instruct the children of California in the contributions made by all racial and ethnic groups supplying votes for politicians. But there was an appreciation also for the contributors who were “entrepreneurs” and labor unions, and whose stories deserved to be told. With SB48 the legislature took a further step by adding: “Pacific Islanders, European Americans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.” The schools were directed to give only favorable accounts of these groups in telling the story. But on the other side, teachers and administrators were enjoined not to offer any … [Read more...]