July 24, 2014

Bishop Savas to head GOA Office of Church and Society

Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios announced yesterday that Bishop Savas of Troas, most recently the chancellor of the archdiocese, has been named director of the Office of Church and Society. The bishop will be charged with developing "programs and ministries that promote a creative Orthodox Christian engagement with contemporary societal and cultural realities." Readers of this blog will recall the effusive praise with which Bishop Savas greeted the election of Barack Obama, rejoicing that "this is the day that the Lord has made!" Yesterday, the Obama administration moved to rescind a Bush administration regulation, put in place in December, that cuts off federal funding for medical facilities that would force doctors, nurses and other health care workers to participate in practices, such as abortion, that "they feel violates their personal, moral or religious beliefs." The move to lift the so-called "conscience rule," which is subject to a 30 day public comment period, was … [Read more...]

Srdja Trifkovic on Patriarch Aleksy

Cultural commentator Srdja Trifkovic writes on Patriarch Akeksy in the latest issue of Chronicles Magazine: Aleksy II, Patriarch of Moscow and head of the Russian Orthodox Church, died of heart failure on December 5, 2008, at the age of 79... Aleksy II came to the throne just as the Soviet state was beginning to disintegrate. The early years of his tenure were dominated by the tremendous task of restoring the moral authority of the Church in a nation devastated by seven decades of lethal anti-Christian rule. The scale of that devastation defies imagination. Persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church and other denominations under the communists is one of the greatest crimes in history. Its death toll was several times greater than that of the holocaust. It had killed more Christians than all other persecutions in all ages put together, with Islam a distant second. In 20 interwar years (1918-38), the number of churches that remained open in Russia was reduced from 54,000 to … [Read more...]

All-Orthodox Council on the way?

Interfax reports that planning for a council of Orthodox Churches is actively underway. “We expect that preparatory process for the great and holy All-Orthodox Council of the Eastern Church will be revived,” Inter-Orthodox Secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Nikolay Balashov said on Friday. He reminded that preparations for the Council started in 1960 and after 30 years “unfortunately, they were suspended, but not through the Russian Church fault.” The Preparatory Commission last met about fifteen years ago. Fr. Nikolay reminded that last autumn at the Istanbul meeting between primates of all Orthodox Churches Patriarch Kirill (then Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad - IF) “actively and largely contributed” in taking decisions to lead preparatory work out of the deadlock. … [Read more...]

Battle for the ‘Soul of Orthodoxy’ in the UK?

Writing for the Independent, a UK newspaper, Paul Vallely looks at a legal battle over control of an Orthodox cathedral. The power struggle, he writes, began with an influx of Russian immigrants to the United Kingdom and their clash with an assimilated, diverse Orthodox community. "Huge numbers arrived," says one of the parishioners, Ruth Nares, a teacher who converted from Anglicanism two decades before because of what she describes as Orthodoxy's extraordinary sense of sacredness. "We were a community of white Russians, Finns, French, Italians and English converts. But the incomers had a different mentality. To many, it was just a place to meet fellow Russians. They would come in halfway through service, talking loudly at the back, and started making lunch there." Karin Greenhead, a musician, says: "There was a lot of unpleasantness and elbowing and pushing. It was noisy and unprayerful. There was even a fight outside the church." But it was not just the congregation that … [Read more...]

Russia welcomes Patriarch Kirill

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zbtVDt1NgQ[/youtube] In the Moscow Times, Leonid Sevastyanov and Robert Moynihan write that the new Russian Patriarch Kirill "has deep convictions about the role of the Christian faith in the future of Russia and about Russia's role in the future of Europe and the world." The writers say that the Patriarch is convinced that only a return to "real values" can enable Russia and Europe to confront the current economic crisis. "Moreover," the authors say, Patriarch Kirill "believes that Russia's greatness, eclipsed in recent years, can only be restored by renewing its ancient Orthodox faith." Given his relatively young age, 62, Kirill could be patriarch for the next generation. He will undoubtedly set out to fulfill a double agenda. First, he will want to build on what Alexy II accomplished during the 18 years of his patriarchate, continuing the rebuilding of the church's ruined infrastructure. Thousands of churches have been rebuilt … [Read more...]

Essays on Canon 28

Met. Philip's recently posted essay on Constantinople's misuse of Canon 28 got me hunting for more analysis. I've posted what I found (including one by St. John Maximovitch written in 1938) on the main site. … [Read more...]

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...]

The Church of New Martyrs

Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and Gallich

The Orthodox Church today commemorates St. Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople, famed for his "lofty eloquence and ... wondrous breadth of learning." In Russia, today is also the feast day of the New Martyrs, the millions of faithful Christians who perished under the Communist terror. Among them was the holy New Martyr Metropolitan Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky) of Kiev and Gallich, the first bishop to be tortured and slain by the Communists at the time of the Russian Revolution. The Church was an immediate target of the Bolsheviks who saw the faithful as "a threat from the opposing political force." On January 23, 1918, during the battle for Kiev, the Bolsheviks seized the Kiev Caves Lavra, and the monks were taken out into the courtyard to be stripped and beaten. A few nights later, according to one account, five armed soldiers and a sailor came looking for Metropolitan Vladimir. The hierarch was tortured and choked in his bedroom with the chain of his cross. They … [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...]