Rest in Peace, Patriarch Pavle

November 17, 2009

Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle Dies At 95

Patriarch Pavle prays at Serbian Orthodox Christmas liturgy in Belgrade in January 2007.
November 15, 2009
BELGRADE — The head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, 95-year-old Patriarch Pavle, has died after a lengthy battle with age-related illness, RFE/RL’s Balkan Service reports.His death ends nearly two decades of leadership that spanned one of the most painful chapters in Serbian history.

His rise to the patriarchate in 1990 — soon after Slobodan Milosevic had become president of an increasingly divided Yugoslavia — placed Pavle in the eye of a gathering storm. Pavle’s tenure as patriarch sparked fierce disputes over the actions of the Church as nationalist and ethnic conflagrations spread through the Balkans.
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Patriarch Bartholemew pushes his Green Agenda in Washington

November 5, 2009

Patriarch Bartholemew Obama

Religious leader promotes ‘green’ causes

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 3, 2009 An unusual environmental lobbyist will be making the rounds this week on Capitol Hill: the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the highest spiritual figure for the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians, arrived in Washington on Sunday night for a week of lectures and meetings highlighting his interest in environmental health as a religious issue. He is scheduled to meet with President Obama on Tuesday, Vice President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »


Patriarch Kirill against Independent Ukraine Church

July 30, 2009

patriarch kirilWith regard to independent church in Ukraine, Patriarch Kirill says “I’m against it.”

By MARIA DANILOVA

The Associated Press

Monday, July 27, 2009; 1:06 PM

KIEV, Ukraine — The head of the Russian Orthodox Church rejected calls from Ukraine’s president to create a local Orthodox church that would be independent from Moscow, saying he firmly supports the status quo.

Patriarch Kirill arrived in Ukraine for a prolonged visit, which observers say is aimed at reasserting Moscow’s religious and political influence over this predominantly Orthodox nation of 46 million, which is trying to integrate with the West.

President Viktor Yushchenko has led a campaign to win recognition of a separatist church that broke away from the Moscow Patriarchate in the 1990s.

“The main aspiration of the Ukrainian people is to live in a united, self-governing Apostolic Orthodox church,” Yushchenko said in a speech, standing alongside Kirill.

Kirill was quick to stress that the dominant Orthodox church in Ukraine, which answers to Moscow, is the only legitimate church here.

“This church, Mr. President, already exists,” Kirill said. “If it didn’t exist today, Ukraine wouldn’t exist either.”

“But wounds have formed in this church and these wounds must be healed,” he said.

The two leaders made the statements after laying flowers at a memorial commemorating the victims of a 1932-33 famine that killed millions which was engineered by Soviet authorities to abolish private land ownership.

Yushchenko is also leading a campaign to win recognition of the famine as an act of genocide; Moscow counters that the campaign was not aimed specifically at Ukrainians.

Kirill said that he mourns the tragedy and prays for all those who perished, but stressed that other ethnic groups, including Russians, also suffered.

The Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the Kremlin, worry about losing dominance in Ukraine.

The mainstream, Moscow-aligned church claims about 28 million believers, while the separatist Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate claims about 14 million followers. Opinion polls show the splinter church’s popularity is growing.

Earlier Monday, Kirill led a service on St. Volodymyr Hill in central Kiev near the statue of Prince Volodymyr, who launched the Slavic world’s conversion to Christianity in 988. Kirill called for friendship, brotherhood and unity.

Yushchenko, who has sought to break free from Russia’s centuries-old political dominance and integrate with the European Union and NATO, has appealed to the spiritual leader of the world’s 250 million Orthodox believers, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, to recognize the separatist church.

Bartholomew, who visited Kiev last summer, has not given a clear response.

Kirill is to visit a number of Ukrainian cities during a prolonged visit that his office says is devoted strictly to pilgrimage. But observers note that his trips to such strongholds of pro-Russian support as the eastern coal-mining city of Donetsk and the port of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula have clear political undertones.

Before Kirill led the prayers, a group of nationalist activists shouting “Moscow priest get out!” briefly scuffled with his supporters near the St. Volodymyr Hill. The scuffle was broken up by police.


Ben Lomond: When Antiochian Orthodoxy Drove Away its Converts

August 22, 2008

A terrible tragedy happened 10 years ago this month known as the Ben Lomond Crisis. According to these re-published accounts, it was an event characterized by rigidity, intrigue and ethnocentricism on the one hand, and a defiance of legitimate episcopal authority on the other, which ruined Antiochian Orthodoxy’s best hope for a major influx of Evangelical converts. The “Orthodox Moment” among Evangelicals began and ended at Ben Lomond, California.

While there are undoubtedly conflicting versions of this event, here are two accounts of what took place in this historic turn for Orthodoxy in America.

From Ben Lomond Tragedy:

An account from 1998, November 26, 1998 (broken into paragraphs for easier reading)

The parish in Ben Lomond, CA was then the largest parish of the Antiochian Evangelical Mission. In 1997, it was a parish of about 1500. Saturday Vespers had about 200 attendees. The entire congregation sang as the choir. It has a K-12 school, a world class choir, a hospitality house (for visitors), programs for teens, and a publishing house, Conciliar Press, which the evangelicals brought with them. The parish allowed a highly respected spiritual father from Mount Athos to visit them and to hear confessions and give guidance. People began to fast and pray more.

The hierarchy of the Antiochian Archdiocese then forbade any Antiochian clergy or faithful to go for a confession to a non-Antiochian priest. Their practice of having a complete round of daily services, with Matins, Liturgy, Vespers, and everything else, all well attended, was considered bizarre and no longer normal. Moreover, they had some unusual liturgical customs and Russian customs in their services. Certain Arab ladies in the parish got the ear of the local Bishop and started demanding that the thing was getting out of control; a new leadership had to be installed at Ben Lomond. Read the rest of this entry »


Orthodox Metropolitan Soft on Sacred Tradition

August 5, 2008

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware was waxing philosophical in the wake of the Lambeth Conference, presenting a soft approach to Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. There are some interesting parallels with an earlier post of mine, Orthodox EP Soft Like Anglicans on Abortion, in that these comments are given with the intention of being sympathetic with the current Anglican predicament. Still, this cannot be understood as mere diplomatic speech as it was given in the wake of the Vatican’s stunningly frank language on the same matters delivered by Cardinal Kasper just days prior. The full interview is found here.

An interesting exerpt (emphasis mine):

… First, I admire deeply the way in which Archbishop Rowan is fulfilling his role as Archbishop of Canterbury, at this moment of crisis. It’s easy to say, with reference to his position here at the Lambeth Conference or generally in the current Anglican world, that he is in a no-win situation. But granted the immense difficulties that he is facing, he is not doing too badly. Now, what should he be doing here at Lambeth? Should he be offering very firm and clear leadership, insisting on a particular point of view, putting forward resolutions to the plenary gathering of the bishops for their acceptance? He has not chosen to do that. Some people feel disappointed. Some people feel he should be doing that. But if he were to do that, it would create confrontation and division. If you walk through the mountains and you find a large rock in your path, one method is to kick it out of the way. The other is to walk around it and go on with your journey. Now Archbishop Rowan has probably understood that if he tries to kick this particular stone, or this double rock – the ordination of women and homosexual relations – if he tries to confront it head-on and insist on a clear expression of the position of the Anglican Communion, to kick the stone out of the path, he is likely to hurt his toe. Read the rest of this entry »


Text of Cardinal Kasper to Anglican Bishops: It’s Over

August 1, 2008

Anglicanism Fading from Historic Christianity

Cardinal Kasper, the best Catholic friend to the Anglican Communion, the one who has remained most optimistic for an ongoing relationship with Anglicanism, delivers the coup de grace wearing a velvet glove. Anglican orders will never be recognized and Anglican-Catholic relations are no longer ordered toward a future unity.

Emphasis mine.

Full text here.

The Catholic Church’s teaching regarding human sexuality, especially homosexuality, is clear, as set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 2357-59. We are convinced that this teaching is well founded in the Old and in the New Testament, and therefore that faithfulness to the Scriptures and to apostolic tradition is at stake. I can only highlight what IARCCUM’s “Growing Together in Unity and Mission” said: “In the discussions on human sexuality within the Anglican Communion, and between it and the Catholic Church, stand anthropological and biblical hermeneutical questions which need to be addressed” (§86e). Not without reason is today’s principal theme at the Lambeth Conference concerned with biblical hermeneutics.

I would like briefly to draw your attention to the ARCIC statement “Life in Christ”, where it was noted (nn. 87-88) that Anglicans could agree with Catholics that homosexual activity is disordered, but that we might differ in the moral and pastoral advice we would offer to those seeking our counsel. We realise and appreciate that the recent statements of the Primates are consistent with that teaching, which was given clear expression in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. In light of tensions over the past years in this regard, a clear statement from the Anglican Communion would greatly strengthen the possibility of us giving common witness regarding human sexuality and marriage, a witness which is sorely needed in the world of today. Read the rest of this entry »


Orthodox EP Soft Like Anglicans on Abortion

July 25, 2008

It’s not just about the filioque or the Immaculate Conception, folks. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have encouraged Catholics to reach out to Orthodox Christians, to respect them and learn their traditions. Catholics by and large have accepted that the Orthodox really are very close to Catholicism in many areas. But many would be surprised to learn that some Orthodox hierarchs (and Oriental Orthodox hierarchs) are soft, even permissive on the issue of abortion–soft like Anglicans.

His Holiness, Patriarch Karekin I of Etchmiadzin of Armenia (Oriental Orthodox) who came on a pastoral visit to the US had this to say about the Oriental Orthodox Church’s position on abortion- Read the rest of this entry »