July 28, 2014

Benedict to Bartholomew: Called to ‘One Hope’

The Zenit news agency published the translation of Pope Benedict XVI's address to the delegation the Ecumenical Patriarchate sent to the Vatican for the celebration of "the solemnity" of Sts. Peter and Paul and the conclusion of the Pauline Year. The patriarchate's delegation was led by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, director of the Office of the Orthodox Church Before the European Union. The other members include Bishop Anthenagoras of Sinope, auxiliary bishop of the Patriarchate of Belgium, and Deacon Ioakim Billis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Pope Benedict: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Epehesians 1:2). Venerable Brothers, It is with these words that St. Paul, "apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God," addresses "the saints" who live in Ephesus, "believers in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 1:1). Today, with this proclamation of peace and salvation, I bid you welcome for the patronal feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, … [Read more...]

Obama and His Pro-Life Apologists

At the National Press Club yesterday, the Catholic University of America hosted a discussion on "The Obama Administration and the Sanctity of Human Life: Is there a common ground on life issues? What is the right response by 'Pro-Life' Citizens?" One of President Obama's most prominent pro-life opponents, Robert P. George, engaged in a debate with one of his most prominent pro-life supporters, Douglas W. Kmiec. Public Discourse published an adapted version of George's remarks, excerpted below. You can watch a video of the George-Kmiec debate on the C-SPAN Web site here. Robert George: Because the President does not believe in the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family; because he does not believe that babies acquire human rights until after birth; because he does not see abortion as tragic because it takes the life of an innocent human being, he is utterly and intransigently unwilling to support even efforts short of prohibiting … [Read more...]

Renewing Christian Roots

From the Catholic news service Zenit, which strained a bit for a news angle with this headline: Orthodox Priest Says Faith Is Not Dead in Russia PAMPLONA, Spain, MAY 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Moscow Patriarchate's secretary for ecumenical relations is affirming that relations between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church in Russia are progressing, and that it is an important step for evangelizing the world. In an address at the University of Navarra in Spain, Father Igor Vyzhanov stated that the two Churches "seem to understand each other better now than before." His conference titled "Relations Between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church: The Current Situation" noted signs of the Churches' collaboration. The priest affirmed a shared responsibility of Orthodox and Catholics to "renew the Christian roots of Europe" and to preach the message of Christ to the world. He explained the challenges of the Orthodox Church in the task of evangelization, … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill: A Global Reach

Russia's new patriarch is "proving to be a capable administrator" and has surrounded himself with a team of "well-trained and capable younger clerics," say Leonid Sevastyanov and Robert Moynihan in the Moscow Times. In "100 Days of Patriarch Kirill," the writers also say that the new leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has a "fully European" vision for his ministry. Kirill now heads a church with about 140 million adherents, far larger than the Anglican Church and second only to the Roman Catholic Church. With a significant percent of Orthodox believers living outside Russia, this gives the church a truly global reach. But statistics are less important than suffering and faith. The Russian Orthodox Church suffered greatly under Soviet rule. Now it has re-emerged from the catacombs following the collapse of the Soviet Union 17 years ago to take on a greater role in post-Soviet Russia. Despite the enormous challenges that the Orthodox Church faces, now is the time of … [Read more...]

Pope and Patriarch meet in Jerusalem

Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit today to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilus III. The pope, according to the Catholic News Agency, "spoke with the patriarch of his gratitude for efforts to achieve greater unity between their Churches and asked the Christians of Jerusalem to raise a generation dedicated to the faith." Pope Benedict began his speech to those assembled by calling to mind the past meetings between his two predecessors and the Orthodox patriarchs of their time. “These encounters, including my visit today,” he said, “are of great symbolic significance. They recall that the light of the East has illumined the entire world from the very moment when a 'rising sun' came to visit us and they remind us too that from here the Gospel was preached to all nations.” Here is the full text of the speech from Vatican Radio: Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, It is with profound gratitude and joy that I make this visit to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Alexios Prays for Unity at Roman Catholic Service

Archbishop-emeritus John F. Donoghue, left, and Metropolitan Alexios, right, join Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory for a final blessing of the congregation. (Photo by Michael Alexander)

Alexios, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Atlanta, joined Roman Catholic Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory on May 6 for an “Evening of Prayer and Unity” service at Atlanta's Cathedral of Christ the King in honor of the Jubilee Year of St. Paul. Archbishop Gregory graciously welcomed Orthodox Christians to the service. “Our Orthodox brothers and sisters represent a fraternity in the Lord that we cherish and long to strengthen in the Holy Spirit,” he said. According to The Georgia Bulletin, a diocesan newspaper, the "prayer service blended together Eastern and Western traditions with song, prayer and words of wisdom from shepherds of each of the churches." The paper said that members of the Choir of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Atlanta and the Chanters of the Cathedral of the Annunciation then sang “Phos Hilaron.” The Cathedral Choir of Christ the King also sang the hymn, this time in English, "again linking the two traditions together in Christ." Metropolitan … [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...]

Bishop Hilarion: Ecumenical Patriarchate seeks to impose Roman Catholic model of primacy

From Interfax: Moscow Patriarchate disagrees with Constantinople desire to play special role in Orthodoxy MOSCOW (April 10) -- Bishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's external church relations department, has criticized the Constantinople Patriarchate's intention to control all church communities within the Orthodox diaspora. "I see the situation in the inter-Orthodox relations surrounding the Constantinople Patriarchate's claim to have some special role in the Orthodox Church as one of the key challenges today," Bishop Hilarion said at a press conference at the Interfax main office in Moscow on Friday. "What is happening is in fact an attempt to impose a model existing in the Catholic Church on the Orthodox Church to have as centralized church power as possible, with one bishop leading it as the head of the Ecumenical Church," he said. "There has never been such a model in the Orthodox tradition," Bishop Hilarion said. He … [Read more...]

Catholic-Orthodox: The Trent Agreed Statement on the Family

The Trent Agreed Statement on the Family of the First European Catholic-Orthodox Forum on the theme: ‘The Family: A Good for Humanity,’ Trent, Italy, on December 10-14, 2008. Preamble By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we, thirty representatives of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches in Europe, from countries stretching from the Urals to the Atlantic, have gathered together for the First European Catholic-Orthodox Forum. We express our gratitude to all who have worked for the success of this meeting, especially to the Archbishop of Trent who warmly received us and offered hospitality. The meeting has been organised by the Council of European Bishops Conferences (CCEE), in close collaboration with various Orthodox Churches and some of the dicasteries of the Holy See. We have expressed our deep sorrow at the sudden death of His Holiness, Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia, who had warmly extended his blessing upon the project of this Forum. What is the … [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...]

Metropolitan Kirill on Economic Globalization

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the President of the Department of Foreign Religious Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, has written a prologue or introduction to “The Ethics of the Common Good in Catholic Social Doctrine” (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2008) by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State. The article by Metropolitan Kirill was translated from the Italian and into English for the first time by Paola Fantini, an intern in the Rome office of the Acton Institute. Considering the Orthodox concept of the common good, it must be noted that this concept refers not only to material well-being, not only to peace and harmony on earth, but most of all to the aspirations of man and human society to eternal life, which is the ultimate good of every Christian. For this reason, according to the Orthodox conscience, the debate on the common good will always be incomplete if it considers earthly life exclusively, while the highest good – life in … [Read more...]