April 18, 2014

The Constitution of the Eastern Church

In 1942, Russian emigre and lay theologian Nicholas Zernov published a little book on the Orthodox Church under the auspices of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius. Much of Zernov's "The Church of the Eastern Christians" is aimed -- no surprise -- at educating the British public about the Orthodox Church and advancing the cause of unity between Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox. He also has some things to say about how the Church governs itself that we would do well to reflect upon today. "The Eastern Church rejects altogether the attempts of the West to locate Church authority in one or another ecclesiastical institution," Zernov wrote. "It is the Holy Spirit speaking and acting through the whole body of believers who is the teacher and guardian of truth for them." In his introduction, written against the backdrop of WWII, he identified two major problems facing Christians: the lack of unity and the rise of totalitarianism, first in Russia following the revolution and then … [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...]

ROCOR-OCA: Time to heal?

A report from the regular session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, held May 5-7 in New York, discloses a plan to form a joint commission with the Orthodox Church in America to discuss issues that have kept the Churches apart. HT: Joe. The report says: It was also decided to form a commission to study the relationship with the Orthodox Church in America and to hold joint meetings to discuss the sources of the division between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the American Metropoliate. Included in this commission are Bishop George, President; Archimandrite Luke (Murianka); Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Secretary; Protopriest David Moser and Priest Peter Jackson. The commission is to study and present findings on the reasons for the division and to evaluate the mutual accusations, and propose methods of healing the separation. … [Read more...]

Transcription of Met. Jonah’s Speech on Orthodoxy Unity in America

Metropolitan Jonah

Sermon delivered at St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral in Dallas, Texas on April 5, 2009. It is a great joy to see everybody here this evening from so many different communities, from different traditions. Orthodoxy is a celebration of diversity in unity, and unity in diversity. Our unity is in our one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and our one Orthodox faith and our one commitment to living the truth, to living as Christians. Not to live according the spirit of the world, not to live according to our passions, not to live according to the desires that flit by through our minds and lead us into all sorts of trouble, but to live the truth, to live Orthodox. And, our diversity is something we celebrate, not a diversity of lifestyles, but a diversity that reflects the whole spectrum of our community, people of all races, people of all colors, people from a multitude of different ethnic backgrounds. … [Read more...]

Met. Jonah to Old World bishops: Hands Off the American Church!

In a stinging rebuke to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America issued a call for a unified American Church and rejected any path to unity that would mean "we surrender the freedom we have embraced as American Orthodox Christians to a patriarchate still under Islamic domination." The video here records his sermon on April 5 at Pan-Orthodox vespers at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas. Although he did not mention him by name, the Metropolitan was responding to a speech given March 16 at Holy Cross School of Theology by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, chief secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In the speech, Fr. Lambriniadis was critical of calls for unity by both the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese and OCA and asserted that "submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate" is the proper mode of unity for American Orthodox Christians. To such a … [Read more...]

E Pluribus Unum: One Church From Many?

The American Orthodox Institute has published a new paper on Orthodox unity by George Michalopulos that examines the historical usage of the title "metropolitan," the role of the metropolitan in Church administration, and the "crucial" pastoral duty defined in the Divine Liturgy as "rightly dividing the Word of [God's] Truth." In "E Pluribus Unum: One Church From Many?" Michalopulos takes it a step further. He offers a "sketch" of how an American Orthodox Church might be structured along traditional lines. In a unified American Orthodox Church, for example, the Archbishop of Washington would be the primate of the American Church and also carry the title of Patriarch. Rather coincidentally, AOI published "E Pluribus Unum: One Church from Many?" just a day after the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis delivered his speech "Challenges of Orthodoxy in America And the Role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate" at Holy Cross seminary. The Ecumenical Patriarchate sees … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarchate: American ‘Diaspora’ must submit to Mother Church

Arch. Elpidophoros Lamprianidis

The battle is joined. Highlight: With regards to the United States, the submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only fitting with the American society and mentality but also it opens up the horizons of possibilities for this much-promising region, which is capable of becoming an example of Pan-Orthodox unity and witness. The Mother Church of Constantinople safeguards for the Orthodox Church in America those provisions that are needed for further progress and maturity in Christ. Full text follows: Challenges of Orthodoxy in America And the Role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate By Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod (Chapel of the Holy Cross, March 16, 2009) Reverend Protopresbyter Nicholas Triantafyllou, President, Reverend Protopresbyter Thomas Fitzgerald, Dean of the School of Theology, Reverend and Esteemed Members of the Faculty and … [Read more...]

Met. Philip offers background on new Archpastoral Directive

Metropolitan Philip, the head of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America, issued a statement today explaining some of the background to the Archpastoral Directive of March 3. The letter follows: Beloved Hierarchs and Clergy, Members of the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese, Parish Councils and Faithful of this God-Protected Archdiocese: Greetings and blessings during this Holy Lenten Season! There have been some questions raised regarding the February 24th decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which addressed the status of bishops across the entire See of Antioch. The purpose of this letter is to try to answer these questions so that confusion may be avoided. The first question deals with whether or not I am supportive of the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which was taken on February 24, 2009. I am supportive of this decision, for a simple reason. I am convinced that the institutional structure of our Archdiocese here requires it at this time. One of the … [Read more...]

Disarray, Disunity and the Metropolitans

AOI has published an article by George C Michalopulos titled "The Role of Metropolitan and Its Relationship within the Episcopate: A Reappraisal." This original work looks at the historical antecedents of the office of the Metropolitan from early Christianity to today. Along the way, we discover that although the office arose out of the episkopos (overseer) in the first centuries and lasted a millennium, the fall of Constantinople and the Ottoman oppression changed that early practice. The Patriarch and his bishops, while still holding some authority over the Orthodox Christians under the Ottomans, lost their episcopal sees and the office took on bureaucratic functions along with the petty intrigues, corruptions, and loss of prestige that followed the historic catastrophe. We've inherited that model today, Michalopulos argues, and it explains in some measure why the American Orthodox are afflicted with jurisdictional confusion. He also suggests how the episcopal hierarchy might … [Read more...]

Mattingly: What do the Converts Want?

In light of the recent exchanges on The Observer about converts, cradle Orthodox and the future of American Orthodoxy, we are republishing Terry Mattingly's essay that touches on these important issues. This article was adapted from an address titled "So What Do the Converts Want, Anyway?" given at the 2006 Orthodox Christian Laity conference in Baltimore. Terry Mattingly, an advisor to AOI, is director of the Washington Journalism Center, editor of the www.GetReligion.org website, and a weekly syndicated columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service. What Do the Converts Want? By Terry Mattingly It doesn't take a Ph.D. in Liturgical Studies to tell the difference between a Southern Baptist church and an Orthodox church. You can get some pretty good clues just by walking in the door and looking around. But there are some similarities between the two that might be a little trickier to spot. For instance, let me tell you about what life is like on Sunday nights in a Southern … [Read more...]

Fr. Hopko: A Spiritual Springtime for American Orthodoxy

Fr. Thomas Hopko, an advisor to AOI, delivered an address in late September for the 40th Anniversary of the Consecration of the Chapel at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, a monastery for women in Ellwood City, Pa. Fr. Tom observes that while a "sprinkling" of Orthodox Christians in academic circles have been known to the wider American public, "hardly any other practicing Orthodox Christian has been publicly recognizable in American society in the past forty years." Among the clergy, the late Archbishop Iakovos is singled out for social witness in the civil rights movement. "Things are not much different today," Fr. Tom says. "But there are some notable exceptions." He opens with a sobering assessment and then explores the accomplishments of the Church in recent decades: A Spiritual Springtime for American Orthodoxy -- Reflections on the last 40 Years Membership in the Orthodox churches in North America in the past forty years has radically decreased. There … [Read more...]