Category : Orthodox Church

(Economist Erasmus Blog) A new Orthodox church next to the Eiffel Tower boosts Russian soft power

The skyline of Paris has just acquired yet another arresting feature. Only a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, a spanking new Russian Orthodox cathedral, complete with five onion domes and a cultural centre, was inaugurated on December 4th by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, amid sonorous rhetoric about the long and chequered history of the Russian diaspora in France.

To secular observers, this was the latest success for Russian soft power, showing that even in times when intergovernmental relations are frosty, ecclesiastical relations can still forge ahead. In October, Patriarch Kirill reconsecrated the Russian cathedral in London and had a brief meeting with the supreme governor of the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth; this was a more cordial chat than any conversation the political leaders of Britain and Russia have had recently.

The new temple in Paris was, in a sense, both a product and a hostage of secular politics. Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s then-president, agreed to its construction, with Russian funds, back in 2007 as a good-will gesture to Russia. Plans to turn the cathedral’s opening into a moment of diplomatic togetherness, attended by the French and Russian presidents, foundered after the countries’ row over Syria sharpened. But nothing prevented Patriarch Kirill from inaugurating the new house of prayer, with French cultural figures like the singer Mireille Matthieu in attendance.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Architecture, Europe, France, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Russia, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Archbishop Cranmer Blog) Persecuted Middle East bishops banned from visiting UK

Why are suffering Syrian and Iraqi bishops banned from visiting the UK? They only wanted to attend the consecration of the country’s first Syriac Orthodox cathedral, dedicated to St Thomas. They might even have met the Prince of Wales for a cup of tea, but after that they’d have surely returned to serve their rapidly-diminishing flocks and lead them through their daily crucifixions, beheadings, enslavement, murder, rape”¦ Surely the Sunday Express has got this story completely wrong. Bishops banned? Why on earth?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(CC) Amy Frykholm–What we can learn from Orthodox nun Maria Skobtsova

In the midst of Nazi-occupied Paris, an independent-minded Russian Orthodox nun lamented that Christians were not equipped to meet the challenges of the moment. “I look everywhere and nowhere do I find anything that would point to the possibility of a breakthrough from material life to eternity,” wrote Maria Skobtsova in an essay titled “Insight in Wartime.” She did not see around her any forms of Christian life that had the “right voice, the right pathos, the kind of wings” to stand against the terrors of the era.

Skobtsova herself was perhaps the exception. Born in 1891 under the czar, she had by the 1940s been a Bolshevik, a poet, and a refugee. She was almost killed by both White and Red armies during the Russian Revolution of 1917. She fled Russia after briefly serving as the deputy mayor of Anapa, a city near the Black Sea. In exile she returned to the Orthodox faith, and in 1932 she became a nun.

She refused, however, to take up residence in a convent or traditional religious community. Issuing a thoroughgoing critique of monasticism, she insisted that she would seek instead “to share the life of paupers and tramps.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Russia, Theology, Women

(ACNS) Britain’s first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral consecrated

The Patriarch of Antioch was in London… [this past Thursday] for the consecration of Britain’s first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral. The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, was the guest of honour at the service, which was attended by a number of senior Anglicans from the Church of England, including the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres; the Bishop at Lambeth, Nigel Stock; and the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, the former ecumenical secretary at Lambeth Palace.

The new cathedral of St Thomas is the former Saint Saviour’s Church in Acton, west London ”“ formerly a chapel for deaf Christians operated by the Royal Association for the Deaf.

The joyous service was marked with sadness as the congregation and a succession of speakers reflected on life for Christians in the homelands of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Syria and Iraq.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Middle East, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Syria

Anglicans and Oriental Orthodox theologians reach further agreement on the Holy Spirit

Last year, the AOOIC communiqué recommended the omission of the Filioque clause ”“ the words “and the son” which western churches added to “”¦which proceeds from the Father” in the Nicene Creed without international consensus. The Anglican co-chair of the Commission, Bishop Gregory Cameron from St Asaph in Wales, said at the time that it had “long been a source of contention between Western and Eastern Christians.”

In their communiqué issued at the end of last week’s talks, the members of the AOOIC said that “having completed its work on the Procession of the Holy Spirit at its 2015 meeting, the Commission continued its reflection on the second part of its Agreed Statement on pneumatology, ”˜The Sending of the Holy Spirit in Time (Economia).’

“This second part considers the action of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of the Church making it one, holy, catholic and apostolic. The Co-Chairs signed the second part of Agreed Statement that will be sent to our churches for reflection and comment, after which the Commission will produce the full statement, ”˜The Nature and Work of the Holy Spirit,’ in its final form.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Archbishop Welby welcomes Patriarch Kirill to Lambeth Palace

The visit represents the first time that Archbishop Justin and Patriarch Kirill have met, but it is the second time a Patriarch of Moscow and an Archbishop of Canterbury have met at Lambeth Palace in recent times. The first meeting was that of Archbishop Michael Ramsey with His Holiness Alexey I in 1964.

The relationship between the two churches has endured for more than three centuries, through some very difficult times as well periods when the two countries have stood side by side. This relationship has been cemented through many personal contacts and through the spiritual and cultural interchange which has enriched both churches.

After welcoming Patriarch Kirill and his delegation to Lambeth Palace, Archbishop Justin had a personal conversation with Patriarch Kirill. Uppermost in the conversation was their shared compassion for Christian, and other, minorities in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, where they have been systematically targeted and persecuted and their communities decimated.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Europe, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Russia

Archbishop Welby prays for peace with Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew in Assisi

We are those who live in a world which struggles to distinguish between what something costs and what it is worth. So powerful is this trend that we face Christ and seek to put a price on grace. He responds with infinite love and mercy ”“ and with a command that seems irrational when we first hear it. He says to us, who think ourselves rich, that we are to receive freely from him.

The reason for his offer is that, in God’s economy, we are the poorest of the poor; poorer than ever because we think ourselves rich. Our money and wealth is like the toy money in a children’s game: it may buy goods in our human economies that seem so powerful, but in the economy of God it is worthless. We are only truly rich when we accept mercy from God, through Christ our Saviour.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(CC) Peter Bouteneff–The Great and Holy Council maps an Eastern Orthodox future

Perhaps the most significant thing about the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church that met in June in Crete is that it took place at all. The Eastern Orthodox churches hadn’t met in this way in nearly a century, and it was their first meeting since the fall of the communist regimes that had decimated the religious landscape of Eastern Europe, home to the majority of Ortho­dox Christians. Even if the decisions taken at the council are contested, there is now a mechanism in place by which they might be revisited.

In the Orthodox Church, nothing happens quickly. Yet the ripples of conciliarity being felt from the June meeting are significant, and they will not soon die out. Some within the Orthodox Church are proposing regular meetings, perhaps not unlike the Lambeth conferences held every decade in the Anglican Com­munion. Regular assemblies like this would be something new, and all of a sudden they feel more possible.

The Eastern Orthodox Church is composed of 14 self-governing churches (15 if you count the Orthodox Church in America, whose independent, self-governing status is contested). Of these, four did not attend, largely due to disagreements over some of the texts that were to be discussed in Crete.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecclesiology, Globalization, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology

(RNS) Overcoming their estrangement: How Orthodox churches came together

Q: Can you give us some highlights or stories from the council?

A: For me, the most obvious highlight was observing the bishops (25 from each church) speaking openly and honestly to one another, learning about their respective circumstances and contexts. On several occasions, I heard bishops saying: “I had no idea this was happening in Nigeria (or Albania, or Poland).”

One consequence of the walls of estrangement that existed between the various churches was that each of them developed ”” or responded to the modern demands of the West ”” at a different pace. Where, for example, we are quite accustomed to seeing images of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew working closely with the pope for many years, other churches (such as Bulgaria and Georgia) have struggled to communicate or cooperate with any Christian church whatsoever, withdrawing from the World Council of Churches in recent years. The same is true of the Patriarchate of Moscow, whose primate Patriarch Kirill met with Pope Francis earlier this year, only to return to a church protesting (even threatening schism) over his “heretical” flirting with the Vatican.

So this sort of uneven evolution required a council to establish some fundamental guidelines for the Orthodox Churches.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology

[Moscow Times] Ukrainian Orthodox Church Seeks to Cut Ties With Russia

The Ukrainian parliament has requested that Constantinople recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s independence from Russia, the parliament website reported Thursday.

The appeal to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople ”” the head of the Orthodox Church”” was supported by 245 deputies, with 20 deputies voting against. The move is hoped to speed up “changes that will grant the Ukrainian church independence from an aggressor state,” the Kommersant newspaper reported.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

Moscow Patriarchate: Statement on the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church

Statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church

On the situation caused by the refusal of several Local Orthodox Churches to participate in the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church

For many decades the Russian Orthodox Church took and continues to take an active part in the preparation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. Since the 1st Pan-Orthodox Conference in 1961 on Rhodes, the outstanding hierarchs and the best theologians of our Church have made their contribution to the work on a great number of the Council’s topics, including those which were not to be included later in the agenda of the Holy and Great Council. For the sake of the earliest convocation of the Council, the Russian Orthodox Church has repeatedly re-affirmed her readiness to achieve decisions mutually acceptable for all the participants in the pre-Council process, even if such decisions diverted from the already agreed rules of the Council’s preparation.

However, the principle of pan-Orthodox consensus has been the invariable basis of the pre-Council process…

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

(CT) Mark Galli–A Meditation on the Orlando Shooting

…there is one particular prayer that Jesus teaches and models. I’m not enough of a world religion scholar to know if it is unique to Christianity, but it is remarkable part of Christian faith and life. It’s the prayer of Stephen as he was stoned and of Jesus on the Cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

It is one way we obey Jesus’ command to love enemies, even murderous ones””whether they target us or those with whom we sympathize.

This struck me afresh recently as I recited an Eastern Orthodox prayer of intercession. In the litany of petitions, this one jumped out at me: “Lord, we pray”¦ for those who hate us and those who love us.”

In the Orthodox tradition, this prayer is to be said every evening.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Archbishop Welby gives Vespers address during pilgrimage to Cappadocia

Finally, at a choral evensong in Westminster Abbey, a copy of the latest Agreed Statement, entitled In The Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology was presented to us by the Co-Chairmen of the International Commission for the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue. We were able to celebrate what Anglicans and Orthodox affirm together about the human person. This milestone provides the theological foundation for forthcoming discussions on the practical consequences of our shared theology to address the key themes, including the protection of the environment, ethical questions around medical interventions, and family life, and our call to reconciliation in the world around us. You yourself have been an untiring advocate for peace and reconciliation – politically, with the natural world and in your historic visit at the installation of His Holiness Pope Francis.

Historically I see these achievements as signs of a further deepening of the deep-rooted friendship between our two churches. As noted by Your All Holiness during the visit to Lambeth Palace, as early as the 17th century Cyril Lukaris, Patriarch first of Alexandria and then of Constantinople, had many contacts with the English Church and State. The Anglican and Eastern Churches Association and the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius have both fostered and continue to strengthen ecumenical friendships.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

[Russian Orthodox Church] HH Patriarch Kirill meets with William Franklin Graham

the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church said with regret, ”“ spiritual and religious life in the West has undergone radical changes in the recent years. Western civilization and Western countries ceased to indentify themselves with Christian tradition and adopted an idea of society in which Christian moral values should not be dominant. And then, legislative solutions were taken in many countries, the United States of America including, which allow same-sex marriage, equaling it to natural marriage that the Lord has given us in commandment. People who do not want to abide by these solutions may be subjected to repressions. Today, Christians who uphold the intransient importance of Christian moral values had to become confessors of the faith living under various kind of pressure, on the part of mass media including.”

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill noted that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association courageously confessed its faith and defended Christian values. “This gives us a sign of hope: there are people among Western Christians akin to us in ethic principles, sharing them with the Russian Orthodox Church,” His Holiness said and reminded his listeners that the Moscow Patriarchate had suspended any contacts and dialogue with Christian Churches and communities which perform same-sex marriages in church and even ordain people of non-traditional sexual orientation as priests and bishops. For instance, we had to break off contacts with the Episcopal Church in the USA, but we support the Anglican Church in North America which remains faithful to Christian ethics. I would like to note once again the role played by the conservative evangelicals in the United States as their position gives us an opportunity to continue our dialogue with Christians in America.”

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

Archbishop Welby sends greetings to His Eminence Silouan upon enthronement

The Archbishop of Canterbury sent greetings to His Eminence Silouan, Metropolitan of Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland, who was enthroned on Saturday 27th February.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture