Category : Orthodox Church

(PRC) Orthodox Christianity in the 21st Century

Over the last century, the Orthodox Christian population around the world has more than doubled and now stands at nearly 260 million. In Russia alone, it has surpassed 100 million, a sharp resurgence after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Yet despite these increases in absolute numbers, Orthodox Christians have been declining as a share of the overall Christian population – and the global population – due to far faster growth among Protestants, Catholics and non-Christians. Today, just 12% of Christians around the world are Orthodox, compared with an estimated 20% a century ago. And 4% of the total global population is Orthodox, compared with an estimated 7% in 1910.

The geographic distribution of Orthodoxy also differs from the other major Christian traditions in the 21st century. In 1910 – shortly before the watershed events of World War I, the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and the breakup of several European empires – all three major branches of Christianity (Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Protestantism) were predominantly concentrated in Europe. Since then, Catholics and Protestants have expanded enormously outside the continent, while Orthodoxy remains largely centered in Europe. Today, nearly four-in-five Orthodox Christians (77%) live in Europe, a relatively modest change from a century ago (91%). By contrast, only about one-quarter of Catholics (24%) and one-in-eight Protestants (12%) now live in Europe, down from an estimated 65% and 52%, respectively, in 1910.

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Posted in Church History, Globalization, Orthodox Church, Religion & Culture

(ACNS) Communiqué: International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue

The papers presented were:

  1. Ecology: An Orthodox Approach
    by the Very Revd Dr Valentin Vassechko
    Anglican Response : The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut
    Orthodox Response : Metropolitan Seraphim of Zimbabwe
  2. “And it was good”: The Love of God and the Fragility of Creation
    by Bishop Humberto Maiztegui Gonçalves
    Anglican Response : Bishop Graham Usher
    Orthodox Response : Prof. Dr. Miltiadis Konstantinou
  3. Anglican Approaches to Death and Dying
    by the Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke and the Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones
    Anglican Response : The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce
    Orthodox Response : The Revd. Fr. Jonathan A. Hemmings
  4. Euthanasia and the Orthodox Approach
    by the Revd Dr George Dragas
    Anglican Response : The Revd Canon Philip Hobson OGS
    Orthodox Response : Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Kition

In the context of environmental issues and the ecological crisis facing our common home the Commission extended its gratitude to both the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion for their committment in recent years through their leaders and synods to offering substantial leadership to the movement for environmental justice and sustainability.

 

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church

Anglican Oriental–Orthodox International Commission To Meet in Dublin, Ireland for the First Time

The Anglican Oriental–Orthodox International Commission will meet in Dublin from October 23 to 28 for the first time since its foundation. Hosted by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, who is one of the founding members, the Commission will consider two main items. The first is the completion of an agreed text on the Holy Spirit that will be linked with the mission of the Church. It is hoped that the agreed statement will be completed and signed by the two co–chairs in the course of the meeting. The second agenda item is an initial exploration of areas around “authority in the Church”.

This will be the sixth meeting of the Commission since its foundation in 2001. While in Dublin, members will attend St Maximous and St Domatius Coptic Orthodox Church in Drumcondra for prayers in the Coptic tradition.

They will also visit the Chester Beatty Library, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Marsh’s Library, the Book of Kells in Trinity College. They will attend Choral Evensong and a reception in Christ Church Cathedral hosted by Dean Dermot Dunne and a reception in the Mansion House to meet the Ardmhéara Bhaile Átha Cliath/Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha and leaders of other faiths in Ireland and members of inter faith groups.

“We look forward to welcoming the Anglican Oriental–Orthodox International Commission to Dublin and our hopes for this consultation are that the Commission might see that there is a spiritual core and a religious dynamic to Dublin historically and in lived actuality,” said Archbishop Michael Jackson.

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Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church

(AFP) A New bishop brings hope to some of Syria’s Christians

Syriac Orthodox Christians in Syria’s northeastern city of Hasakeh celebrated the inauguration of the community’s new bishop on Saturday, four years after the last one left the country.

Six years of conflict have ravaged Syria and displaced more than half of its population, including millions who have become refugees.

Christians in some parts of the country have been particularly targeted by the jihadists of the Islamic State group, who have torn down and desecrated churches and Christian icons.

In the Saint George Cathedral in Hasakeh city, worshippers said Archbishop Maurice Amseeh’s arrival was a sign that their community remained resilient despite the war.

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Posted in Middle East, Orthodox Church, Religion & Culture, Syria, Violence

David Frost–The Influence of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer on the Orthodox: Opening a Can of Worms?

You will recognize it, though my quotation is in fact from an internet version of that Orthodox ‘Western Rite’, The Liturgy of Saint Tikhon. The passage appears in THE COMMUNION DEVOTIONS as a congregational response to the priest’s invitation to ‘draw near with faith, and take this Holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.’

R. Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men; we acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which wefrom time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed,against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us; the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A side of me still thrills to that. Brought up in a guilt-culture, I still want to binge on selfabasement,followed by the ‘high’ of unmerited, almost magical release. But long before Ibecame Orthodox, I began to have doubts, especially in an Anglican parish thatencouraged frequent communion. How could the sacrifice of Christ be failing to createthat serving and pleasing of God in ‘newness of life’ for which I pleaded each Sunday?Why did I have to come back week after week, making the same old complaints of badmemories and intolerable burdens? When would I, ‘reflecting as in a mirror the glory ofthe Lord’, be ‘transformed’ (as St Paul said happened to all Christians) ‘into the same image from glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3: 18 in the Revised Version)?

Returning to my difficulties in reciting the ‘Jesus Prayer’, I realized that phrases in it –‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ – had unconsciously triggeredthat image of the wrathful monarch and his princeling son, whose royal dignity andhonour I had offended since childhood, ‘provoking most justly’ their ‘wrath andindignation against me’. Immediately, as from behind a cloud, the Lordship of Christ revealed itself simply as leadership: of the leader I loved and whose commands I sought to obey because I loved him. Any plea for his ‘mercy’ became an asking for the immeasurable benefits of his grace and for his sympathetic understanding of my shortcomings, together with my acceptance of his generous offer of transformation and new life. And as for the last phrase about ‘me, a sinner’, that was just an obvious statement of fact. I’ve been able to use the prayer ever since.

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Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Anthropology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Orthodox Church, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

(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