Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Bishop Joseph (Absi) elected to head Melkites

(Narharnet) - Bishop Joseph Absi was elected on Wednesday the new Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the National News Agency reported.

Absi was elected one month after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Melkite Greek Patriarch of Antioch Gregory III Lahham, 82 years.

The Melkite Greek Catholic Synod has been convening since Monday at the Patriarchate's summer seat in Aley.

Absi was born on June 20, 1946 in Damascus, Syria. He obtained the Lebanese nationality.

In 1973, he was ordained priest and became Chaplain of the Missionary Society of Saint Paul.

On 22 June 2001, he was appointed Titular Archbishop of Tarsus of Greek Melkites and Curial Bishop and Auxiliary Bishop in the Melkite Patriarchate.

Melkite Patriarchate of Antioch Gregory III Laham, BS, was his consecrator and the co-consecrators were Archbishop Jean Mansour, SMSP, titular archbishop of Apamea in Syria dei Greco-Melkiti and Archbishop Joseph Kallas, SMSP, Archeparch of Beirut and Jbeil, on September 2, 2001.

Since 2007, he has served as Patriarchal Vicar in the Archdiocese of Damascus.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Melkites awaiting Roman approval to declare new Patriarch

(CWN) - The Synod of the Melkite Catholic Church convened on June 19 in Ain Traz, Lebanon, to choose a new Patriarch.

The resignation of Patriarch Gregory III Laham, who is 82 years old, was accepted by Pope Francis in June. After a day of prayer and reflection, the Melkite bishops will begin voting on June 20 to elect a successor. The new Patriarch will be announced after the vote received papal recognition.

Defunct Catholic monastery reborn as Orthodox seminary

Apostolic Mission of the Moscow Patriarchate has converted deserted Roman-catholic Monastery in to growing Orthodox Christian Seminary.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A monarchy for Georgia?

(OC Media) - Leaders of Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party have said that they may consider turning Georgia into a constitutional monarchy, after the head of Georgia’s Orthodox Church Patriarch Ilia II suggested it during an 18 June sermon.

‘We could think of Georgia as the oldest monarchy’, Ilia II said, adding that ‘this [a shift to constitutional monarchy] cannot happen today or tomorrow, but we must analyse the past, present, and future’.

Parliamentary Chair Irakli Kobakhidze met the Patriarch on 19 June with parliament’s Legal Issues Committee Head Eka Beselia to discuss the initiative. Beselia confirmed that it would be possible to hold a plebiscite on the issue, adding that the Patriarch’s initiative is a ‘notable idea’, but that ‘people need to understand the idea first’.

Kobakhidze said earlier on 19 June ‘what His Holiness has said is truth’ and that ‘constitutional monarchy brings peace in political and state life’. He made no additional comments after the meeting.

Parliament’s Deputy Chairman Giorgi Volski said that ‘monarchy would bring positive changes to Georgia’, but added that ‘no prospects are visible in the near future’.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

"Unclean" Christians face uphill battle in Egypt

(AINA) - In Egypt's Minya province, which has the highest percentage of Christians in the country, even the mention of the word "church" can be dangerous, as churches are believed to be religiously "unclean" by some local Muslims, according to a report.

"They burned my house. They burned the house my brother was building and the houses of five other brothers. They thought we were going to open a church," NPR quotes Ebrahim Fahmy, a resident of Kom al-Lufi village, where the houses were attacked and set on fire in April when they had gathered to pray for the families of victims of the Palm Sunday attacks that had killed 44 people.

"Christians should go somewhere else to pray because the village has a lot more Muslims than Christians," the mother of an underage Muslim student who allegedly attacked a group of Christian students was quoted as saying. She claimed that the Quran says churches are "haram," or religiously unclean.

Father Daud, a member of the clergy, confirmed that he a has applied for a permit twice since 2006 to build a church in Kom al-Lufi, but the approval is still pending.

He said that Christians and Muslims generally have no tension in MInya but only as long as you don't mention the word "church."

Christian groups have called for a special legislation for churches in Egypt.

"The torching of Coptic homes in Kom al-Lufi underscores once more the urgent need for Egypt's House of Representatives to enact a law regulating the construction and renovation of houses of worship in a manner that guarantees the right of Christians to worship in community with others," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide's senior press officer Kiri Kankhwende at the time.

In May, 29 people were killed in an attack in Minya. Children, including a 2-year-old girl, were among the victims.

The Christians were traveling in two buses and a small truck when masked gunmen stopped the vehicles on a road leading to a monastery. Each person was asked to deny their faith in Jesus Christ, and when they all refused, they were shot dead, according to reports.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Swimming the Dnieper: St. Alexis relics head to Ukraine

(Orthodox Christianity) - St. Alexis Toth arrived to the United States from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1889, and now a piece of St. Alexis has returned to his native land. During the celebrations of the 113th annual Memorial Day Pilgrimage at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in Waymart, PA, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon had the blessing of gifting a particle of the relics of St. Alexis to Archimandrite Pimen (Matsola) who was visiting from the Western Ukrainian Diocese of Khust and Vinohradova, reports the Orthodox Church in America.

Archimandrite Pimen, the dean of the Monastery of the Archangel St. Michael, visited the holy sites of America from May 22 to 31 with the blessing of Metropolitan Mark of Khust and Vinohradova. The main purpose of his visit, according to the Pilgrimage Center of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, was to visit St. Tikhon’s Monastery, where the incorrupt relics of the Carpatho-Russian St. Alexis Toth are kept. The Khust Diocese is located near the Slovak and Hungarian borders, the area where St. Alexis was born and ministered before coming to America.

Noting that American Orthodox Christians have traveled abroad for many years to venerate the relics of the saints, it is “something wonderful to see pilgrims from Europe coming to America to venerate our saints!” said an elated Met. Tikhon. Archimandrite Pimen received the gift at the Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the anniversary of St. Alexis’ glorification, which took place at St. Tikhon’s on May 29, 1994.

The relics of St. Alexis were delivered to Ukraine on May 31, and will be carried in the traditional diocesan procession on August 20. After that, the relics will be exhibited for veneration in Sts. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral in Khust.

Fr. Pimen also had the blessing of traveling to San Francisco to venerate the relics of St. John Maximovitch, and to visit the Old Russian Cathedral where the saint’s mantia is kept. He also visited St. Herman’s Monastery in Platina, CA to venerate the grave and visit the cell of Fr. Seraphim Rose, as well as St. John’s Monastery in Manton, CA.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Pat. Irinej meets Syrian-Jacobite Church representative

( - His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej received the Archbishop of the Syrian-Jacobite Church in Sweden, His Eminence Benjamin (Atas), at the Serbian Patriarchate on 14 June 2017.

Archbishop Benjamin expressed his gratitude to the Primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church for the cordial reception during which they discussed various challenges and problems faced by Christians in the modern world. The Serbian Patriarch thanked His Eminence for the visit, wishing him, his faithful flock as well as his people abundant Divine blessings.

The reception was attended by His Grace Dositej, Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Britain-Scandinavia, together with Archpriest-stavrophor Dusan Rakovic, entourage of Archbishop Benjamin and the General Secretary of the Office of Serbian Patriarch deacon Dr. Aleksandar Prascevic.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Metropolitan Antonio (Chedraoui) has reposed in the Lord

( - "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." John 11:25

His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, the Holy Synod of Antioch, and the Archdiocese of North America announce with great regret the departure to the house of the Lord of Metropolitan Antonio Chedraoui on the morning of June 14, 2017.

His Eminence was born in the City of Tripoli, Lebanon, on January 17, 1932. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Lebanon and the Bachelor of Theology at the University of Athens, Greece. On July 20, 1952, he was ordained as a deacon, and on August 29, 1958, he was ordained a priest and elevated to be an archimandrite.

On June 5, 1966, he was consecrated as a bishop, receiving the appointment of Patriarchal Vicar for Mexico, Venezuela, Central America and the Caribbean.

On June 12, 1996, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch elevated the Diocese of Mexico, Venezuela, Central America and the Caribbean to the category of Archdiocese, and appointed him as Metropolitan Archbishop of the said Archdiocese, a position he currently occupied.

His Eminence was active in his ministry. He took the role of Private Secretary of the Archbishop of Tripoli and President of the Spiritual Court from 1957 to 1959. He became the Private Secretary of the Patriarch from 1959 to 1962. He also was Vicar General of the Archbishopric of Mount Lebanon and President of the Spiritual Court from 1962 to 1966. His Eminence had the respect, appreciation and friendship of several presidents of the Mexican Republic such as Mr. Gustavo Diaz Ordaz and Mr. Vicente Fox Quesada, as well as various secretaries of state and religious leaders from various churches.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph has asked the clergy and laity of this Archdiocese to pray the Trisagion Prayers for Metropolitan Antonio for the next forty days and to keep him in their personal prayers for the departed. On behalf of the bishops, clergy, Board of Trustees, the organizations and all of the faithful of this Archdiocese, Sayidna Joseph offers to His Beatitude, the Holy Synod of Antioch, and the Archdiocese of Mexico our love, prayers and condolences.

May his memory be eternal!

Britain's Sourozh Diocese launches new website

French govt. calls for release of Eritrean Patriarch

(Republic of France) - France is deeply concerned by the continued house arrest – which has now lasted 10 years - of His Holiness Abune Antonios, Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church.

We deplore the fact that in addition the 89-year-old does not have access to the medical care he needs.

We call for his release.

This situation reflects the Eritrean authorities’ serious and persistent violation of the freedom of religion or belief and fundamental freedoms.

France reaffirms its attachment to the freedom of religion or belief, as well as the freedom of opinion and expression. It calls on the Eritrean authorities to take all necessary steps to comply with the international commitments to which they have freely subscribed.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

St. Vladimir's hosting "Modern Martyrs" lectures in October

Archpriest Dimitry Smirnoff "You are living in hell"

As one priest friend told me, "Yes, Father, this is quite good, but you're too young to deliver it." Point taken.

You may bring yourself to believe that there is life after death

Or you might have the same outlook as some of our ancestors who were Nihilists boldly asserting that life is meaningless and death is permanent!

But regardless what you believe in, there is a God, there is life after death. And of course there is a place called "Hell"

Some folks say: "There is No Hell". Well how can there be No Hell when you are living in it?

Don't believe me? Go look in the mirror of yourself and notice the grim expression on your face

Can the Crown of Creation in other words the Supreme creation of God really have such a gloomy miserable look on its face?

If you believe you're very smart have a free will to do anything you want you think you know it all" and don't have a care in the world, then why do you have such a huge scowl on your face?

Because you are already living in Hell son. You don't understand the meaning of true happiness, you are spiritually dead. You feel emotionally burdened, everything irritates and bothers you such as people, insects, bad weather, worldly events, politics.

Everything in this world is making you sick not to mention your parents, grandparents, neighbors, political leaders such as Putin, Obama. All of these things are depressing and making you unhappy.

Even the nightingales deprive you from your sleep

You put in a lot of effort to escape this damnable existence in order to forget all your worries, so you end up either hitting the bottle or injecting yourself with drugs. Why? Because you are in Hell.

You don't have a "free will" to either choose "Heaven or Hell"

You my friend have been living in Hell since the day you were born. And there is only one way out.......

Through a Savior!

Synodality and Crete

This summary for this book is almost breathless and promises more than I think it can possibly delivery. I neither think that the milquetoast pronouncements of Crete started an "entirely new [chapter]" in the history go the Church nor do I think a collection of theologians can yet write the definitive text that gives us the "right answer" to the what transpired.

(St. Sebastian Orthodox Press) - Synodality: A Forgotten and Misapprehended Vision Reflections on the Holy and Great Council of 2016, Sebastian Press 2017. Price $20.

The Orthodox Church will never be the same after June 26th, 2016. On that day, when the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church held at Crete (Greece) finished, one big chapter of its history was concluded, or perhaps, an entirely new one has been opened. The most important question, perplexing the whole Orthodox world, before the Council was summoned and after it ended, is: What exactly is this thing? Metropolitans Kallistos Ware, Amfilohije Radović, and Chrysostomos Savvatos, Bishop Maxim Vasiljević, Fr John Behr, Fr Cyril Hovorun, Deacon Nicholas Denysenko, and Еvagelos Sotiropoulos, give us the right answer!

Theologians meet in Amsterdam to discuss human sexuality

(ACOT) - From 7 to 9 June, the Amsterdam Centre for Orthodox Theology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam hosted an invited international group of Orthodox theologians and pastors to reflect on a wide range of matters concerning human sexuality as addressed by science and natural law, theological anthropology, legal issues, psychology, and pastoral care. This was an GroepfotoSymposiumJune2017opportunity for scholars and pastors to share work that they have been doing with their colleagues, in a conversation about how the Orthodox Churches might consider and respond to current pastoral questions while remaining faithful to Christ, the Gospel and Orthodox Christian Tradition. The dialogue was collegial and fruitful, offering each of those present food for thought in their continuing work and ministry.

Participants were: Bishop Maxim (Vasiljevic) of Western America (Serbian Orthodox Church), Nikolaos Asproulis (Volos Academy), Fr. Michael Bakker (ACOT), Fr. John Behr (St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, ACOT), Brandon Gallaher (University of Exeter), Edith Humphrey (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary), Fr John Jillions (SVOTS), Pantelis Kalaitzidis, (Volos Academy), Fr. Philip LeMasters (McMurry University, SVOTS), Fr. Joan Lena (ACOT), Fr. Andrew Louth (Emeritus Durham University, ACOT), Fr. Nicolae Mosoiu (Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu), Aristotle Papanikolaou (Fordham University), Fr Vasileios Thermos (University of Athens), Gayle Woloschak (Northwestern University, SVOTS).

The symposium contributes to the courses of the master and post-master programmes of the Amsterdam Centre for Orthodox Theology.

The tightrope walk of the Cretan skeptic

(Orthodox Christianity) - Archimandrite Gregory (Zumis), abbot of the Dochariou Monastery on Mt. Athos, has released another article, this time devoted to topical problems of Church life, including persecutions against monks who do not accept the Crete Council, and ecumenical dialogues. The main points of his article have been published on

“We proclaim that Christ has freed us, and that man has become a participant in this freedom in Christ,” the abbot writes, “Therefore, it is very sorrowful to see how monks are being persecuted with impunity, but Muslims enjoy freedom and patronage from Church and state authorities.” Fr. Gregory is referring to the more than fifty Athonite monastic kalyves and cells which ceased commemoration of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, in response to the “ecumenical course” of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, especially following last June’s “Great and Holy Council.”

Although non-commemorators have been left in peace in the past, these roughly one hundred monks have received notification that they must leave their cells. However, many of the monks have declined to voluntarily leave their habitations.

“The same persecutions were undertaken during the transition to the new style liturgical calendar, resulting in a Church schism,” Fr. Gregory writes, recalling the sad splintering of “Old Calendarist” groups.

However, while the abbot decries the current harassment that the non-commemorators are being subjected to, he also writes, “I do not cease commemoration of my bishop (unless he is subjected to conciliar condemnation). I do not want to cause a split in the Church, because I consider it the greatest sin…”