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  1. Relics of Agios Nektarios, which were kept in a special casket in front of his icon, in the Church of Agios Nektarios, in the village of Platanitis in central Greece, were stolen on Thursday. The thieves broke into the church in the middle of the night and, for an unknown reason, removed the holy relics which are visited and revered by thousands of Orthodox faithful every year. Nektarios, born in the mid-nineteenth century and died in the early twentieth century. Born in Selyvria, Thrace (part of present day Turkey), in October of 1846 as Anastasios Kephalas, Nektarios (his ordained name) began working and studying in Constantinople at the age of 14. In 1904 at the request of several nuns, he established a monastery for them on the island of Aegina. The monastery was then named Holy Trinity Monastery. In December of 1908, at the age of 62, Nektarios withdrew to the monastery on Aegina, where he lived out the rest of his life as a monk. He wrote, published, preached, and heard confessions from those who came from near and far to seek out his spiritual guidance. Thousands of miracles have been attributed to his intercession, with cases of cancer in particular, and other serious illnesses being totally cured. Nektarios died on the evening of November 8, 1920, at the age of 74. He was buried at the Holy Trinity Monastery on Aegina. His relics were removed from the grave in 1953 and parts were given to different churches around the Greek Orthodox world. Some relics were kept at the Church of Agios Nektarios, in the village of Platanitis, from where they were stolen on Thursday. Ηe was officially recognized as a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1961. His feast day is celebrated annually on November 9. https://greece.greekreporter.com/2020/07/17/relics-of-orthodox-saint-nektarios-stolen-from-greek-church/
  2. Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 3. THE CHURCH IS ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, AND APOSTOLIC 811 "This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic."256 These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other,257 indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. the Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities. 812 Only faith can recognize that the Church possesses these properties from her divine source. But their historical manifestations are signs that also speak clearly to human reason. As the First Vatican Council noted, the "Church herself, with her marvellous propagation, eminent holiness, and inexhaustible fruitfulness in everything good, her catholic unity and invincible stability, is a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefutable witness of her divine mission."258 I. THE CHURCH IS ONE "The sacred mystery of the Church's unity" (UR 2) 813 The Church is one because of her source: "the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit."259 The Church is one because of her founder: for "the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body."260 The Church is one because of her "soul": "It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity."261 Unity is of the essence of the Church: What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her "Church."262 814 From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God's gifts and the diversity of those who receive them. Within the unity of the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together. Among the Church's members, there are different gifts, offices, conditions, and ways of life. "Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions."263 The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity. Yet sin and the burden of its consequences constantly threaten the gift of unity. and so the Apostle has to exhort Christians to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."264 815 What are these bonds of unity? Above all, charity "binds everything together in perfect harmony."265 But the unity of the pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion: - profession of one faith received from the Apostles; -common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments; - apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders, maintaining the fraternal concord of God's family.266 816 "The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it.... This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him."267 The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains: "For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God."268 Wounds to unity 817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame."269 The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism270 - do not occur without human sin: Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.271 818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers .... All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272 819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276 Toward unity 820 "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time."277 Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: "That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me."278 The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.279 821 Certain things are required in order to respond adequately to this call: - a permanent renewal of the Church in greater fidelity to her vocation; such renewal is the driving-force of the movement toward unity;280 - conversion of heart as the faithful "try to live holier lives according to the Gospel";281 for it is the unfaithfulness of the members to Christ's gift which causes divisions; - prayer in common, because "change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name 'spiritual ecumenism;"'282 -fraternal knowledge of each other;283 - ecumenical formation of the faithful and especially of priests;284 - dialogue among theologians and meetings among Christians of the different churches and communities;285 - collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind.286 "Human service" is the idiomatic phrase. 822 Concern for achieving unity "involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike."287 But we must realize "that this holy objective - the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ - transcends human powers and gifts." That is why we place all our hope "in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit."288 II THE CHURCH IS HOLY 823 "The Church . . . is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as 'alone holy,' loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God."289 The Church, then, is "the holy People of God,"290 and her members are called "saints."291 824 United with Christ, the Church is sanctified by him; through him and with him she becomes sanctifying. "All the activities of the Church are directed, as toward their end, to the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God."292 It is in the Church that "the fullness of the means of salvation"293 has been deposited. It is in her that "by the grace of God we acquire holiness."294 825 "The Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect."295 In her members perfect holiness is something yet to be acquired: "Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state - though each in his own way - are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father himself is perfect."296 826 Charity is the soul of the holiness to which all are called: it "governs, shapes, and perfects all the means of sanctification."297 If the Church was a body composed of different members, it couldn't lack the noblest of all; it must have a Heart, and a Heart BURNING WITH LOVE. and I realized that this love alone was the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act; if it ceased to function, the Apostles would forget to preach the gospel, the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. LOVE, IN FACT, IS THE VOCATION WHICH INCLUDES ALL OTHERS; IT'S A UNIVERSE OF ITS OWN, COMPRISING ALL TIME AND SPACE - IT'S ETERNAL!298 827 "Christ, 'holy, innocent, and undefiled,' knew nothing of sin, but came only to expiate the sins of the people. the Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal."299 All members of the Church, including her ministers, must acknowledge that they are sinners.300 In everyone, the weeds of sin will still be mixed with the good wheat of the Gospel until the end of time.301 Hence the Church gathers sinners already caught up in Christ's salvation but still on the way to holiness: The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offenses, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.302 828 By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly pro claiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God's grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.303 "The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church's history."304 Indeed, "holiness is the hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and missionary zeal."305 829 "But while in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle, the faithful still strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness. and so they turn their eyes to Mary":306 in her, the Church is already the "all-holy." III. THE CHURCH IS CATHOLIC What does "catholic" mean? 830 The word "catholic" means "universal," in the sense of "according to the totality" or "in keeping with the whole." the Church is catholic in a double sense: First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. "Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church."307 In her subsists the fullness of Christ's body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him "the fullness of the means of salvation"308 which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. the Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost309 and will always be so until the day of the Parousia. 831 Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race:310 All men are called to belong to the new People of God. This People, therefore, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and to all ages in order that the design of God's will may be fulfilled: he made human nature one in the beginning and has decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one.... the character of universality which adorns the People of God is a gift from the Lord himself whereby the Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaciously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods, under Christ the Head in the unity of his Spirit.311 Each particular Church is "catholic" 832 "The Church of Christ is really present in all legitimately organized local groups of the faithful, which, in so far as they are united to their pastors, are also quite appropriately called Churches in the New Testament.... In them the faithful are gathered together through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and the mystery of the Lord's Supper is celebrated.... In these communities, though they may often be small and poor, or existing in the diaspora, Christ is present, through whose power and influence the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is constituted."312 833 The phrase "particular church," which is the diocese (or eparchy), refers to a community of the Christian faithful in communion of faith and sacraments with their bishop ordained in apostolic succession.313 These particular Churches "are constituted after the model of the universal Church; it is in these and formed out of them that the one and unique Catholic Church exists."314 834 Particular Churches are fully catholic through their communion with one of them, the Church of Rome "which presides in charity."315 "For with this church, by reason of its pre-eminence, the whole Church, that is the faithful everywhere, must necessarily be in accord."316 Indeed, "from the incarnate Word's descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior's promise, the gates of hell have never prevailed against her."317 835 "Let us be very careful not to conceive of the universal Church as the simple sum, or . . . the more or less anomalous federation of essentially different particular churches. In the mind of the Lord the Church is universal by vocation and mission, but when she pub down her roots in a variety of cultural, social, and human terrains, she takes on different external expressions and appearances in each part of the world."318 The rich variety of ecclesiastical disciplines, liturgical rites, and theological and spiritual heritages proper to the local churches "unified in a common effort, shows all the more resplendently the catholicity of the undivided Church."319 Who belongs to the Catholic Church? 836 "All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God.... and to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God's grace to salvation."320 837 "Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who - by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion - are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but 'in body' not 'in heart.'"321 838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist."324 The Church and non-Christians 839 "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways."325 The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 "the first to hear the Word of God."327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews "belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ",328 "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."329 840 and when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus. 841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."330 842 The Church's bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race: All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city. . .331 843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332 844 In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them: Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.333 845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. the Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. the Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood.334 "Outside the Church there is no salvation" 846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336 847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337 848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338 Mission - a requirement of the Church's catholicity 849 The missionary mandate. "Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be 'the universal sacrament of salvation,' the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men":339 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age."340 850 The origin and purpose of mission. the Lord's missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: "The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit."341 The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love.342 851 Missionary motivation. It is from God's love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, "for the love of Christ urges us on."343 Indeed, God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth";344 that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary. 852 Missionary paths. the Holy Spirit is the protagonist, "the principal agent of the whole of the Church's mission."345 It is he who leads the Church on her missionary paths. "This mission continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection."346 So it is that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians."347 853 On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the "discrepancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted."348 Only by taking the "way of penance and renewal," the "narrow way of the cross," can the People of God extend Christ's reign.349 For "just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men."350 854 By her very mission, "the Church . . . travels the same journey as all humanity and shares the same earthly lot with the world: she is to be a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal by Christ and transformation into the family of God."351 Missionary endeavor requires patience. It begins with the proclamation of the Gospel to peoples and groups who do not yet believe in Christ,352 continues with the establishment of Christian communities that are "a sign of God's presence in the world,"353 and leads to the foundation of local churches.354 It must involve a process of inculturation if the Gospel is to take flesh in each people's culture.355 There will be times of defeat. "With regard to individuals, groups, and peoples it is only by degrees that [the Church] touches and penetrates them and so receives them into a fullness which is Catholic."356 855 The Church's mission stimulates efforts towards Christian unity.357 Indeed, "divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects."358 856 The missionary task implies a respectful dialogue with those who do not yet accept the Gospel.359 Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better "those elements of truth and grace which are found among peoples, and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God."360 They proclaim the Good News to those who do not know it, in order to consolidate, complete, and raise up the truth and the goodness that God has distributed among men and nations, and to purify them from error and evil "for the glory of God, the confusion of the demon, and the happiness of man."361 IV. THE CHURCH IS APOSTOLIC 857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways: - she was and remains built on "the foundation of the Apostles,"362 The witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;363 - with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,364 The "good deposit," the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;365 - she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ's return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, "assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church's supreme pastor":366 You are the eternal Shepherd who never leaves his flock untended. Through the apostles you watch over us and protect us always. You made them shepherds of the flock to share in the work of your Son....367 The Apostles' mission 858 Jesus is the Father's Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he "called to him those whom he desired; .... and he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach."368 From then on, they would also be his "emissaries" (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."369 The apostles' ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: "he who receives you receives me."370 859 Jesus unites them to the mission he received from the Father. As "the Son can do nothing of his own accord," but receives everything from the Father who sent him, so those whom Jesus sends can do nothing apart from him,371 from whom they received both the mandate for their mission and the power to carry it out. Christ's apostles knew that they were called by God as "ministers of a new covenant," "servants of God," "ambassadors for Christ," "servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God."372 860 In the office of the apostles there is one aspect that cannot be transmitted: to be the chosen witnesses of the Lord's Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church. But their office also has a permanent aspect. Christ promised to remain with them always. the divine mission entrusted by Jesus to them "will continue to the end of time, since the Gospel they handed on is the lasting source of all life for the Church. Therefore, . . . the apostles took care to appoint successors."373 The bishops - successors of the apostles 861 "In order that the mission entrusted to them might be continued after their death, [the apostles] consigned, by will and testament, as it were, to their immediate collaborators the duty of completing and consolidating the work they had begun, urging them to tend to the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit had appointed them to shepherd the Church of God. They accordingly designated such men and then made the ruling that likewise on their death other proven men should take over their ministry."374 862 "Just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone, as first of the apostles, destined to be transmitted to his successors, is a permanent one, so also endures the office, which the apostles received, of shepherding the Church, a charge destined to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops."375 Hence the Church teaches that "the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ."376 The apostolate 863 The whole Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin: and in that she is "sent out" into the whole world. All members of the Church share in this mission, though in various ways. "The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well." Indeed, we call an apostolate "every activity of the Mystical Body" that aims "to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth."377 864 "Christ, sent by the Father, is the source of the Church's whole apostolate"; thus the fruitfulness of apostolate for ordained ministers as well as for lay people clearly depends on their vital union with Christ.378 In keeping with their vocations, the demands of the times and the various gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostolate assumes the most varied forms. But charity, drawn from the Eucharist above all, is always "as it were, the soul of the whole apostolate."379 865 The Church is ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her deepest and ultimate identity, because it is in her that "the Kingdom of heaven," the "Reign of God,"380 already exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time. the kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation. Then all those he has redeemed and made "holy and blameless before him in love,"381 will be gathered together as the one People of God, the "Bride of the Lamb,"382 "the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God."383 For "the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."384 IN BRIEF 866 The Church is one: she acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (cf ⇒ Eph 4:3-5), at whose fulfillment all divisions will be overcome. 867 The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is "the sinless one made up of sinners." Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy. 868 The Church is catholic: she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times. She is "missionary of her very nature" (AG 2). 869 The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: "the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (⇒ Rev 21:14). She is indestructible (cf ⇒ Mt 16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops. 870 "The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, . . . subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines"(LG 8). Catechism of the Catholic Church - IntraText WWW.VATICAN.VA
  3. Vasile Banescu, a spokesman for the Romanian Patriarchate, denounced billboards depicting doctors and nurses as “saints” with coronavirus-shaped halos as a blasphemous “visual mistreatment of Christian iconography” on Wednesday. The posters, created by Romanian artist Wanda Hutira for the McCann Worldgroup ad agency’s “Thank you doctors” campaign and posted throughout Bucharest, have also offended the Medical Guild, Banescu said, reports the Romanian Church’s Basilica News Agency. The scandalous images combine eclectic elements of Indian religious art and Orthodox iconography. In one image, a character wearing a robe, goggles, stethoscope, and mask, blesses with his right hand, as does Christ in Orthodox iconography, while holding a medical chart in his left. In another, a nurse is depicted with several hands, as in images of the god Shiva, the creator and destroy of the universe in Hindu mythology. All the characters have halos in the shape of the coronavirus. Banescu responded strongly: “I think this is a ridiculous campaign to promote a dystopian vision of the situation caused by the pandemic; an embarrassing attempt at symbolic theft and visual mistreatment of Christian iconography, marked by bad taste fed by ignorance and a hideous ideology that only knows how to caricature Christianity.” The images are an affront to the hard-working doctors and nurses themselves, Banescu believes: “It is not just a blasphemous act but also an insult to the very honorable profession of doctors who, like all of us, do not think they are saints or improvised saviors and do not demand a public cult.” Bucharest city hall said it would ask the advertising firm to remove the billboards, “which could be replaced with images that bring homage to hero doctors without offending the faith of passersby,” reports Reuters. “[They’re] a daring artistic choice but one which is in no way following a political, religious or any other kind of purpose,” McCann Romania said in a statement. https://orthochristian.com/130765.html?fbclid=IwAR0QP7K5O9GDx_432tvZBZZC2ieE2lfGDc32AR5LrvSKHy8AcML0hxQ3nE8
  4. The Priest Who Did Not Want to Serve the Divine Liturgy There was once a priest who did not want to serve the Liturgy because it was a cold winter day. The temperature was 10 degrees below zero and the priest knew that the only person who was likely to come to the service was the chanter. The priest had no idea about the Church’s teaching on the presence of the Triumphant Church and how the Divine Liturgy benefits the living and the departed. With difficulty he forced himself to go to church. On the way to church he kept wishing that the chanter would not come so that he would not have to serve and go home. However, the chanter did come. The priest did the Prothesis (or Proskomedia, the service of preparing the holy gifts) in a hurry and began the Divine Liturgy. Shortly after, some bishops, priests, monks and nuns and some lay people arrived. Most of them sat in the choir section and began to chant so beautifully that the priest forgot about how cold and lonely he was earlier. His whole body was warm and his whole being was all a flame…. When he did the small entrance he noticed that the church was full of people – most of them familiar – he did not pay much attention and just continued with the Divine Liturgy. When the time came for the Sanctification of the Holy Gifts he saw three bishops, brightly clothed and radiant entering the Holy Altar. They knelt with him and prayed. The priest then stood up very carefully with fear, took the censer and in a loud voice said, ‘Especially our All Holy, Immaculate, Most Blessed and glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary…’. The soul of the priest was amazed and filled with divine joy. Peace and heavenly stillness, hesychia, dominated his inner self. When the time came for the elevation and dividing of the Host (Lamb) the whole church filled with the sweetest melodies. The whole multitude of people who were present along with the monks, priests and bishops chanted not only once but many times, ‘One is Holy, One is Lord: Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen’. Next they chanted the Holy Communion hymn, ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good, Alleluia.’ The priest was wondering what to do. Should he partake of the Holy Communion first or step aside for the three bishops who were present. Just as he was thinking this, one of the bishops nodded to him indicating that he should receive Holy Communion and then to Unify and Place the remaining of the portions of the Lamb into the Chalice along with the portions in memory of the Holy Theotokos and the Saints. Having completed this the priest then opened the Beautiful Gate … and saw no one in the Church… he turned and looked back into the holy altar, he looked to the right, looked to the left, the bishops had disappeared, he stood there speechless, amazed. He slowly opened his mouth and chanted the next petition, ‘With the fear of God and faith and love, draw near …,’ and the chanter slowly drew near to take Holy Communion. The priest was still amazed, still wondering! The whole Triumphant Church was present. All those present in the church were persons familiar to him, they were persons that had departed from this life and he would from time to time commemorate their names during each liturgy: ‘that’s why they were present, that’s why they all seemed so familiar’, he thought. As for the bishops in the altar they were the Three Hierarchs: Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian. So many years of study at university, so much research and so many sleepless nights he spent studying and these efforts were not able to give him not even one drop of the sweetness and divine knowledge that this one Divine Liturgy gave him. The Priest Who Did Not Want to Serve the Divine Liturgy | The Truth About the Gospel TTATG.WORDPRESS.COM There was once a priest who did not want to serve the liturgy because it was a cold winter day. The temperature was 10 degrees below zero and the priest knew that the only person who was...
  5. The Abbot of the Historic Life-Giving Spring Monastery in Longovardas, Paros has Petitioned the Holy Synod to "Repudiate and Condemn" the Patriarch's Teachings Archimandrite Chrysostom, the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring in Paros, Greece, has submitted to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece an historic formal accusation of heresy against Patriarch Bartholomew. Abbot Chrysostom has petitioned the Holy Synod to recognize, repudiate and condemn the Patriarch's "eterodidaskalia" (heterodox teachings) as contrary to the right teaching of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ. "In submitting this letter to you," he wrote to the Holy Synod, "we place before the honorable Body of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece the scandal caused to myself, our brotherhood, clergy, monks and countless laity, by the successive waves of heterodox teachings which have been expressed at various times by His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, the pinnacle of which being [expressed at] the Holy and Great Council held in Kolympari of Crete." The formal petition provides 12 examples of heterodox teaching issued by the Patriarch over several decades, as well as 9 relevant canons of the Church, and ends with a list of bishops (13), abbots, hieromonks and clergy (14), and theologians (9) which the Abbot is suggesting be called as supportive witnesses before the Holy Synod when he will be formally called to defend his accusation. Orthodox Ethos hopes to have the historic appeal translated soon. The text of the Abbot's appeal (in Greek) follows: Formal Accusation of Heterodox Teaching by Patriarch Bartholomew Submitted to the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece | The Abbot of the Historic Life-Giving Spring Monastery in Longovardas, Paros has Petitioned the Holy Synod to “Repudiate and Condemn” the Patriarch’s Teachings ORTHODOXETHOS.COM Orthodox Ethos is a collective effort of ordained and lay Orthodox Christians. Our purpose is to present and support the Orthodox truth, way and life.
  6. Why Constantinople registered its organization of one person at the address of the Czech monastery. It has become known from open sources that the Patriarchate of Constantinople began to create a parallel jurisdiction in the Czech Republic, in the canonical territory of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia (OCCLS) and registered a “monastery” subordinate to Phanar. What are the Phanariots striving for and what may their plan of forcible takeover of this Local Church be? Christianity was brought to Moravia by Sts. Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodius, who are also called the Moravian brothers. In 869, Pope Adrian II ordained St. Methodius to the rank of Archbishop of Moravia. This was before the fall of the Roman Church, which happened almost 200 years later, in 1054. Thus, the first Mother Church for the OCCLS was precisely the Orthodox Sazavska Monastery, and Orthodoxy disappeared from these lands for almost 800 years. Only at the end of the 19th century Orthodox temples appeared in the Czech Republic, which the Russian Church built for vacationers from Russia in Czech resorts. There appeared a Czech Orthodox community in Prague, which was also led by a priest from the Russian Church. However, amid political disagreements between Russia and Austria-Hungary, and then World War I, the Austrian authorities did not register this Orthodox community in Prague and it legally belonged to the community of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Vienna. The Serbian Church ordained the first bishop for the Czech and Slovak lands, Bishop Gorazd (Pavlik). Thus, the Serbian Church became the second Mother Church for the OCCLS. Bishop Gorazd put a lot of efforts in the formation of the Church in Czechoslovakia, and in the interwar period it developed quite actively, while being in the jurisdiction of the Serbian Church. During the Second World War, Bishop Gorazd was tortured by the Nazis and became the first holy martyr of the Church of Czechoslovakia. At the same time, instead of supporting the work of St. Gorazd, the Patriarchate of Constantinople tried to create a parallel jurisdiction and in 1923 established its Autonomous Orthodox Church in the Czech Republic and Moravia and ordained Bishop Sabbatius (Vrabets) to lead it. However, the believers rejected him and remained faithful to Bishop Gorazd. Bishop Sabbatius retired, while the autonomous Church from Constantinople remained on paper. During World War II, the Czechoslovak Church was liquidated by the Nazis and revived after the victory but already in the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. Unlike Phanar, the Russian Orthodox Church did not pretend to rule this Church and in 1951 granted it full autocephaly, thus becoming the third Mother Church for the OCCLS. An act signed by Patriarch Alexy (Simansky) read as follows: “The Russian Orthodox Church, represented by Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia and the entire Holy Council of Bishops, in consideration of the petition of the Church Council of the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia, grants autocephaly to this Church, formerly the Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Russian Orthodox Church with one heart prays to the Heavenly Shepherd, our Head the Lord Jesus Christ so that He sends His Divine blessing to the youngest sister in the family of Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, the Church of Czechoslovakia and crowns Her with eternal glory.” It is noteworthy that this is the full text of the act. Constantinople categorically did not recognize it arguing that Saints Cyril and Methodius came to Moravia from Constantinople, therefore this is its canonical territory. Phanar was not at all embarrassed by the fact that Methodius was ordained bishop of Moravia in Rome and that for almost 800 years there was no Orthodoxy in these lands at all,. But even without the recognition of Constantinople, the OCCLS was developing quite successfully and by the end of the 20th century already numbered several hundred thousand parishioners. In 1998, the current Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, recognized the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia by publishing his Tomos on the autocephaly of OCCLS. This Tomos is strikingly different from the ROC act. Whereas the act does not contain any terms on limitations of autocephaly, the Phanar’s Tomos abounds with them. Like in the Tomos for the OCU, there is an obligation for the OCCLS to receive the myrrh from Constantinople, to appeal there, coordinate all important issues with Phanar and act strictly in line with the foreign policy pursued by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The OCCLS considered the Phanar-issued Tomos to be simply an internal document of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. However, in 2013, the Primate of the OCCLS Metropolitan Christopher (Pulz) was forced to retire due to the appearance of publications casting a shadow on his moral character. The publications, as it was established later, turned out to be slanderous, but this enabled Phanar to intervene in the affairs of the OCCLS. On October 19, 2013, at the diocesan meeting of the Prague diocese, which was supposed to choose a new Prague bishop, the well-known Metropolitan Emmanuel (Adamakis) of France turned up and said that Phanar would not recognize any of the candidates proposed at the meeting. This caused confusion and the congregation was not able to elect its bishop. In December 2013, in Prague, a meeting of the Holy Synod of the OCCLS was held, to which the locum tenens of the head of this Church, Archbishop Simeon (Yakovlevic) had already invited two Metropolitans of Constantinople – Emmanuel (Adamakis) of France and Arseny (Kardamakis) of Vienna. It was announced to everyone that these hierarchs would participate in the meetings of the Synod of a foreign Church with a casting vote. The rest of the Czechoslovak hierarchs resolutely opposed to this and asked the Russian Orthodox Church for protection from Phanar’s gross interference in the affairs of the Church OCCLS. Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the head of the Department for External Church Relations, arrived in Prague. He negotiated with the Phanariots and ensured that the Synod of the OCCLS would settle its own affairs without interference from other Churches. The Synod of the OCCLS removed the locum tenens, Archbishop Simeon (Yakovlevic), from office and appointed Metropolitan Rostislav (Gont). And soon after the Local Council of the OCCLS elected Metropolitan Rostislav, who received 87% of the vote, as the Primate. It is easy to guess that Phanar did not recognize such an election and continued to consider its protégé – Archbishop Simeon – as the locum tenens thus provoking a split in the OCCLS. In February 2015, Constantinople further aggravated this schism, having ordained Bishop Isaiah (Slanink) for the OCCLS in order to create an “alternative Synod” of the OCCLS. It is not known how the situation would develop further, but in 2016 Phanar urgently needed the support of the OCCLS in the run-up to the Cretan Council. This Council, as we recall, was supposed to affirm the primacy of Constantinople in the Orthodox world, securing it many exclusive powers, and also open the way to unification with the Latins, recognizing the Vatican as an Orthodox Church along with Orthodoxy. Thanks to the Providence of God, Four Local Churches did not attend this Council and it did not become pan-Orthodox, in fact. But then, before this Council, Patriarch Bartholomew struggled to ensure the presence of the Primates of all Local Churches and he had no time to fight with Metropolitan Rostislav. As a result, Phanar recognized Metropolitan Rostislav as the head of the Church, while the OCCLS recognized the Tomos of Constantinople of 1998 on its own autocephaly, which puts the OCCLS in actual subordination to Phanar. A new attack by Phanar on the OCCLS ensued already in 2019 due to the fact that the Czechoslovak Church did not recognize the OCU and declared support for the UOC and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry. On the same day when Phanar made its lawless decisions on Ukraine, on October 11, 2018, Metropolitan Rostislav sent a letter to the Russian Orthodox Church condemning the gross interference of the Ukrainian government in the internal life of the OCCLS and also stated that the position of the Church on this issue remains unchanged. “World Orthodoxy recognizes the only canonical head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. This fact was repeatedly mentioned and reiterated on behalf of all those present by the Holy Primate of the Great Christ Church of Constantinople, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Synaxis of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches, which took place in Chambesy (Switzerland) from January 21 to 27, 2016. Therefore, any attempt to legalize the Ukrainian schismatics by the state authorities should be strongly condemned by all the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches,” the letter said. And on February 3, 2019, on the day of “enthronement” of Epiphany Dumenko, Metropolitan Rostislav declared the following: “In fact, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has existed for centuries – from the time of Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir and Princess Olga, from the day of the Baptism in the Dnieper, and it has its primate – this is His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. <...> Among the high-ranking hierarchs there were those who decided to refute this, who considered for nothing what had been for centuries and proclaimed this impostor ‘a metropolitan of all Ukraine’ instead of the canonical metropolitan.” Of course, this position aroused the indignation of Constantinople, which launched a new offensive on the OCCLS. In August 2019, Phanar initiated the creation of a parallel jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the Czech Republic. At the constituent assembly, the legal entity “Association: Holy Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (hereinafter referred to as the Association)” was created and the statute was adopted. Only three people took part in the Constituent Assembly: Konstantinos Kardamakis, who is also Metropolitan Arseny of Austria (Constantinople Patriarchate), ThDr. Igor Slaninka, who is also Bishop Isaiah, and also a certain Roman Rugyko. These three established the Association and elected its chairman – “Dr. Konstantinos Kardamakis, born on October 31, 1973, residing at 13 Fleiskmarket, 1010 Vienna, Austria” and his deputy – “ThDr. (Doctor of Theology) Igor Isaiah Slaninka, born on June 25, 1980, living at the address: Jana Zizky, 1116/13, 434 01 Bridge.” On October 1, 2019, the Association was registered by the regional court of Ostrava city. What is noteworthy, in this extract in the column "number of members" there is a number 1. And the most interesting thing is that the monastery of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at this address has already existed for a long while. There is not much information about it on the Internet. There are some photos on the Czech site “Light of Orthodoxy” and a little information for the pilgrims on the website "Pilgrimage Alphabet": “The Monastery of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is located in the town of Vilemov, which is located in the Czech Republic. Over the long years of its existence, this convent became one of the main centers of Orthodoxy in the traditionally Catholic Czech Republic. Located in a quiet area, the monastery became a place of seclusion for a small Orthodox community. <...> Address: Czech Republic, Olomouc District, 783 22 Vilemov 159.” What do we have? Phanar creates a monastery under the name "Association" at the same address, on the site of a female monastic community, which has existed for many years. Moreover, the Association formally establishes three people, none of whom has anything to do with this monastic community. The number of members of the Association, according to the extract from the register, is only one person. Furthermore, the Association is subordinate not to the OCCLS, i.e. the Local Church in whose canonical territory it is registered but directly to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Here is a paragraph of the Association’s statute on its goals: “The Association is a voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit association of Orthodox believers under the spiritual leadership of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which united the advocates of the spiritual development of Orthodox citizens living in the Czech Republic and other Orthodox believers to satisfy their spiritual needs, for vigorous activity in this development, to popularize this goal and ensure charitable activities in the field of this missionary work. The task is also to lead a spiritual and liturgical life, to be engaged in charity work, to help those in need, and at the same time to create contact spiritual centers (dependencies) to fulfill this goal. For this purpose, the chairman of the association (abbot) appoints the clergy who received the canonical mission. At the same time, it has to pay attention and help protect the rights of citizens and Orthodox believers, defend their interests in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom and to make sure that no one incites hatred, intolerance, supports violence or violates the Constitution and laws.” We emphasize: The Association is subordinate to Constantinople; The Association extends its activities to all Orthodox citizens living in the Czech Republic; in the list of tasks of the established monastery (Association) there is not a word about monastic life. This means that under the guise of a monastery, a parallel jurisdiction will be established, which will expand throughout the Czech Republic, and then, possibly, will spread to Slovakia. The fact that the Association is supervised by the bishop, who lives in Austria, speaks of two things. First, the Association will not attract “seekers of the monastic life” but entire parishes with the clergy, laity, churches and church property. As the recent developments show, Phanar has perfectly mastered the art of “head-hunting” clerics into its jurisdiction using blackmail, threats, financial incentives, political and other pressures, etc. Secondly, if there are not so many people who want to move from the OCCLS to the jurisdiction of Phanar, not only Czech or Slovak priests will be attracted but also Phanar-loyal clergy from other countries. When the members of the Association are significantly more than one person, Phanar will be able to either carry out a coup in the OCCLS, bringing its people to power (the same Igor-Isaiah Slaninka), or even transfer the OCCLS to its jurisdiction having eliminated autocephaly. Such a renewed (or abolished) OCCLS will definitely recognize the OCU. Time will tell whether these plans are destined to come true, yet we have no choice but to pray for the Primate of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Metropolitan Rostislav, and the faithful hierarchs of his Church wishing them to have the same stamina and courage as His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. Patriarchate of Constantinople is trying to create another parallel jurisdiction in Europe - UOJ - the Union of Orthodox Journalists SPZH.NEWS
  7. Knowing that the local faithful were planning to protest and block their entry to St. Andrew’s Church in Patras, the pilgrims of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” changed their schedule to visit the church without incident, but the faithful were already on-guard. Thus, a conflict broke out between the faithful Orthodox believers of Patras and the clergy of the Church of St. Andrew when the schismatic pilgrims, including “Metrpolitans” Simeon Shostasky and Alexander Drabinko, who abandoned the Church of Christ to become schismatics, were allowed inside the church, reports the Greek outlet Oukraniko. The schismatics also encountered trouble on the island of Aegina, not being allowed to enter the Holy Trinity-St. Nektarios and St. Minas Monasteries. They were warmly received, however, on Evia and in Fokidos. The OCU pilgrims were initially scheduled to visit the church this morning but decided to visit yesterday after lunch, as it was publicly reported that there would be a protest to block them from entering the church on Thursday. However, the OCU schismatics nevertheless “found the faithful of Patras who were on duty in case they [the schismatic pilgrims—Ed.] would appear outside their schedule,” as “there was a suspicion that they would change their program,” as they have been doing frequently during their trip. “The inhabitants of Patras were in the church and found the schismatics, and [a certain] Mr. Zorbalas just happened to come in at the same time and saw that the rector of the church, Fr. Skiaradesis, was conducting a tour for the schismatics. They were near the honorable head of St. Andrew just then.” Oukranki reports that “while the schismatics were shooting videos and taking photos to publish on the internet, a lively altercation began between Zorbalas and the rector, who was leading a tour for the schismatics. The conflict continued for quite a while, and, probably, the schismatics will have to shoot new videos.” It was also reported yesterday that the faithful of Patras were to gather this morning at 6:00 for a protest at the Church of St. Andrew. The faithful emphasized that “we say ‘no’ to the schismatics. We are on the side of our Orthodox brothers in Ukraine, who suffer because of them. The fight has begun! The schismatics will come again, as they did to the Holy Mountain.” Altercation erupts in Patras church over visit of schismatics ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM The OCU pilgrims were initially scheduled to visit the church this morning but decided to visit yesterday after lunch, as it was publicly reported that there would be a protest to block them...
  8. OCU raiders attacked the temple of the canonical Church in Malinsk There is currently an attempt to seize Sts. Peter and Paul’s Church of the UOC in Malinsk. According to eyewitnesses, the situation is very critical. Today, on September 3, 2019, at about 7:00, OCU supporters cut locks on the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul Church of the UOC in the village of Malinsk of the Berezno district. According to eyewitnesses, about three dozen people came to the temple in early morning and immediately began to cut down the locks. The first to see this was the abbot, Archpriest Vasily Gnes, who had been on watch at the church for several months in a row because of the constant threats of the OCU activists to take it over. Castles were cut in a matter of minutes, activists, among whom were local school teachers and many non-residents, led by their "priest", immediately went inside the temple. “It was still very early, I didn’t even think that they would do it so early,” said Father Vasily. “As usual, I was going around the churchyard when a crowd with a flag approached the church door the door and started to cut locks. “I immediately began to call my parishioners and people themselves rushed to the church.” As archpriest Sergiy Kaminsky, a clergyman of the Sarny Eparchy, a native of the village and rector of the Assumption of the Most Holy Theotokos Church in neighbouring Kuzmovka of the Sarny district, said that in the morning he arrived in Malinsk and, coming up to the church, saw a large group of strangers in camouflage there. “At the moment, all are waiting, there is no open confrontation, only separate cross-talks between locals,” he said. “Of all the situations that have been around the temple, this is the most critical. The locks were cut off at about 7:30, and their tool bag was left.” As of 9:00, the head of the village arrived at the scene of the incident and asked everyone who was not a member of the religious community to leave the church fence. As it became known later, the believers managed to defend their temple. Inside the religious building, they found all the intruders' tools: hammers, grinders, saw blades, pliers and even binoculars. “They (OCU supporters – Ed.) didn’t stay long in the church because a lot of people gathered and drove them out of the territory,” said Father Vasily, the rector of the church. “I am proud of my parishioners, women and men, who are ready to stand to the end for the Orthodox faith and not give up the church, which is native, prayed.” The believers are praying in the church and planning to guard the religious building. Perhaps, the parishioners will remain inside the church overnight, therefore, they ask all those who care to support with prayers the believers, who for the fifth month in a row have been forced to resent the church raiders from the OCU. The UOJ is monitoring the developments. We recall that a previous attempt to seize the temple in Malinsk occurred on April 23, 2019. Thanks to the assistance of the RSA deputy Anatoly Rudkovsky, who held talks with both communities and the police, the raider seizure was avoided. The UOJ editorial board reminds: in case of violation of the rights of the episcopate, clergy, laity and institutions of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (obstruction of worship, seizure of churches, provocations pressure, threats, etc.), you must immediately contact the Legal Department of the UOC by telephone: 097- 537-55-96. OCU activists cut locks on UOC church in Malinsk, Rovno region - UOJ - the Union of Orthodox Journalists SPZH.NEWS
  9. The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople unexpectedly decided to remove the exarchate status of the Archdiocese of Russian Churches in Western Europe, telling the parishes that they had to become part of the Patriarchate’s Greek metropolises. However, the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese then overwhelmingly voted to remain together as an ecclesiastical body. They are actively considering several options for their future, the most likely being to join the Moscow Patriarchate, which has the backing of the Archdiocese’s hierarch, Archbishop John of Chariopoulis, though there are certainly those members who actively oppose returning to the Russian Church. On August 9, the parishes of the former Exarchate received two documents, one with a proposal from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the other with a proposal from the Moscow Patriarchate. The clergy and parishioners have until September 7 to consider the two proposals, when the Archdiocese’s next General Assembly will be held to take a vote, “either to preserve its identity, specificity, and traditions under the Patriarchal omophorion of Moscow,” or “to abandon the past, becoming a vicariate without a future,” Abp. John wrote in his address accompanying the letters, reports the Independent Gazette. The 24-page document from Constantinople is, “in fact, the same statutes that the parishes of the Russian tradition live by today, but with all the references to the Archdiocese as a territorial and legal entity replaced with ‘vicariate,’ with the addition of ‘the Gallic Orthodox Metropolis, in the canonical jurisdiction of the Constantinople (Ecumenical ) Patriarchate.” Whereas the statutes previously proclaimed the independence of the Exarchate, they now note that decisions can be made only with the “consultation” or “approval” of Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul. Metropolitan Emmanuel previously sent a letter with a proposal for the churches within his territory to become a vicariate to the priests of the Archdiocese. His letter stipulated the “the preservation of the existing association, which will continue to manage the property belonging to it, and to function according to its own statutes, probably with some necessary adaptations.” The new Constantinople letter makes clear that the “necessary adaptations” are to strip the Archdiocese of its former freedom, as Abp. John comments. Moreover, both Met. Emmanuel’s letter and the present proposal apply only to the churches in France. No offer has been made for the parishes throughout the rest of Western Europe. “We are not talking about the preservation of the Archdiocese, but only about the preservation of its French part,” Deacon Alexander Zanemonets explained to the Gazette. Noting that Abp. John would be able to take actions only with the consent of Met. Emmanuel, Dcn. Alexander commented that “the proposal of the Russian Orthodox Church should be considered both in the context of the Romanian refusal and in the context of this Constantinople option.” As Dcn. Alexander explained, the Romanian Patriarchate offered the Archdiocese to join it only temporarily, and required a canonical release from Constantinople. “But since the Archdiocese is no longer part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, there cannot be any canonical release,” the clergyman explained. Meanwhile, as he notes, the Moscow Patriarchate’s latest offer “corresponds to what was originally discussed.” That is, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s winter letter and the final proposal are identical, with all the features of the entire Archdiocese being preserved, including the independence of the Archdiocese in all internal decisions. “That is, in fact, the only change is that the Patriarch of Moscow will be commemorated instead of the Patriarch of Constantinople, while the structure of the internal life of the Archdiocese remains the same,” Dcn. Alexander explained. And, importantly, the Moscow proposal allows the Archdiocese to quickly elect diocesan and vicar bishops. Abp. John’s age has been a point of concern for the Archdiocese, but there has been no hope of electing successor bishops under Constantinople. The Russian Church has even offered to amend its own statutes to accommodate the traditions of the Archdiocese of Russian Churches. http://orthochristian.com/123008.html?fbclid=IwAR3HtowjDzzE4_a-elqZ6iVnTD7ueCxwnDFDr0yrIRTnxJEbymxXBzW9lV4
  10. ARCHDIOCESE OF RUSSIAN CHURCHES IN WESTERN EUROPE LIKELY TO RETURN TO RUSSIAN CHURCH The administration of the Archdiocese of Russian Churches in Western Europe, formerly an Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, has published a number of texts leading up to and resulting from its recent pastoral assembly on May 11 in which the clergy of the Archdiocese gathered in Paris to further deliberate on their future following Constantinople’s sudden revocation of Exarchate status in November. In a proposal on the future of the Archdiocese, a group of Archdiocesan clergy write about the structure’s history as the continuation of the Provisional Administration of the Russian Parishes in Western Europe, founded by St. Tikhon of Moscow in 1921. It was this structure, created by the Russian Church, that later received Exarchate status from the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1931, 1971, and 1999—and it was this status that linked the group to a Local Church in communion with the broader Orthodox community, the authors write. “Therefore, we consider that while the Patriarchate of Constantinople may indeed revoke the status of Exarchate as stated in the synodal act of November 27, 2018, it is not for it to abolish a structure that the Patriarchate did not create,” they continue. With the tomos granting Exarchate status revoked, the Archdiocese must be attached to a Local Church. The proposal notes that the Archdiocese is looking for a home that will respect its administrative independence, statutes, and liturgical and linguistic practices, grant the possibility of electing hierarchs by Clergy-Laity Assemblies, according to the principles of the Moscow Council of 1917-1918, grant the status of metropolis to the group and of metropolitan to its primate, and grant the possibility of participating in the work of the councils and hierarchical assemblies of the given Local Church. Moreover, the authors “note that at present, only the Russian Orthodox Church is likely to give an answer that would make it possible to elaborate a solution corresponding to the requirements of our principles of ecclesiastical functioning.” Likewise, in his letter of April 22, His Eminence Archbishop John of Chariopoulis, the ruling hierarch of the Archdiocese, noted that contact with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Orthodox Church in America, and the Romanian Patriarchate did not yield results. He then notes that contact was made with the Moscow Patriarchate via His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), recalling the words of Metropolitan Evlogy who, on the eve of a receiving the tomos that provisionally linked the group to Constantinople, noted that it was not therefore separating from the Russian Church and had every intention of returning fully to the Moscow Patriarchate when conditions would allow. Abp. John notes that the dialogue with the Russian Church has been frank and respectful and allows the Archdiocese to continue its mission in Western Europe. He has openly spoken previously about his desire to see the Archdiocese join the Moscow Patriarchate, which has offered to accept it intact as an ecclesiastical body. He also writes that following the Assembly of February 23, a delegation was sent to Istanbul to ask the Patriarchate to reexamine the situation, though it was told only that it had to implement the Synod’s surprise decision of November 27 because the Patriarchate had no intention of reversing its decision. Moreover, the delegation was told that not only had the Archdiocese lots its Exarchate status, but it no longer existed at all in Constantinople’s vision. No response has been received to letters sent to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Abp. John notes. A General Assembly is scheduled for September 7. http://orthochristian.com/121549.html?fbclid=IwAR3LH-7lF1h00h3ibUjIP3hcW_xKrV0t9psVUk7BrG8lOsxF85l_cuvDvNI
  11. The Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church is about to convene within the next few days. A group of hierarchs allegedly led by Metropolitan Daniel of Chiatura and Sachkhere is up to discuss the recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), which was established in Kiev in December 2018, and received autocephalous status from the Ecumenical Patriarch. Constantinople is especially interested in the recognition of the OCU. If recognized, “Metropolitan” Epiphany and his organization can augment the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s power in the Orthodox world, weaken the Moscow Patriarchate’s influence and allow the Patriarch of Constantinople to make decisions on extremely important matters for Orthodoxy by sole authority. Local Churches are in doubt: Despite pressure, none of them has recognized the OCU yet. How could autocephaly have been granted to the Ukrainian Church if it still lacks unity, and some parishes seize the churches of other parishes? Why was autocephaly granted solely by Patriarch Bartholomew, without any discussion with the other Local Churches, in total disregard of the existing canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church? Why there was so much haste with the Tomos, why did it happen shortly before the electoral campaign of Ukraine’s former president Poroshenko? Could Ukrainian autocephaly cause a schism in the Orthodox world? These and other questions were addressed to Constantinople delegations by Local Churches before and after the OCU was established. Some Local Churches have opposed Patriarch Bartholomew’s policy—including the Patriarchate of Antioch, which once granted autocephaly to the Georgian Orthodox Church; and the Patriarchate of Serbia, which claimed that the OCU hierarchy has no canonical succession. Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus and Archbishop Anastasios of Albania asked Patriarch Bartholomew to convene a Synaxis of Primates but he firmly refused. The OCU’s future is uncertain; the relations between the groups that formed it are unstable. Even now there is a conflict between Philaret Denisenko, the “honorary patriarch” of the OCU, and its formal head Epiphany. This conflict undermines the OCU’s unity and can lead to its breakup in the nearest future. If the Georgian Orthodox Church recognizes the OCU, it won’t be able to independently deal with its own issues. Abkhazians have already asked to be allowed to join the Ecumenical Patriarchate and receive the status of autonomy. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France once hinted to the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia at the fact that the Abkhazian plea could receive a positive answer if the Georgian Church doesn’t support Constantinople. But now Constantinople pretends to have the right to grant autocephaly anywhere across the world. If we recognize the OCU, we will let Constantinople into the canonical territory of the Georgian Church. During the previous meeting of Constantinople hierarchs with Ilia II in Tbilisi, one of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s representatives, Metropolitan Amphilochios of Adrianopolis, is said to have begun his speech with the words: “There is an opinion that the Orthodox Church is led by Jesus Christ. But in fact the Church is led by the Ecumenical Patriarch.” The Catholicos-Patriarch seems to disagree with this statement. Those Orthodox hierarchs who are famous for their spiritual experience and the purity of their edifying life disagree with that also, for example, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, who restored his Church after communist repressions and who is already considered to be saint by many Greeks. The Orthodox Church has never followed after the Roman Catholics. But those of spiritual clarity understand that the Orthodox Church is facing a new large-scale threat, and the Ukrainian issue is only a part of it. http://orthochristian.com/121558.html?fbclid=IwAR346GxnYyy2ZmMjxgg8cj7JHC0S6U3pcP5s3l20ZfZb6Z2mluDKTOHG4YE
  12. The ongoing Church problem in Ukraine should be solved by all Local Churches together, not each unilaterally, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus said in an interview with Romfea in Athens yesterday. Asked whether he thought the Greek Church would be the first to recognize the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” Abp. Chrysostomos underlined that “a unilateral decision would not be helpful, and the result would be what I feared. I also could have made a decision in favor of one or another, but I find this to be wrong. That’s why we did not do it.” Meanwhile, the schismatics openly expect the Greek Church to be among the first to recognize them, and an archimandrite from the Greek Church, Epiphany (Dimitriou) will be consecrated as a bishop of the schismatic church this weekend, the Union of Orthodox Journalists learned. The Cypriot Holy Synod issued a statement on the Ukrainian problem in which they criticized the Russian Church’s’ breaking of communion with Constantinople but also expressed serious reservations about the Ukrainian schismatics being received by Constantinople without them being canonically ordained. He also considers it fair and just that none of the other Local Churches have taken a position in favor of either Constantinople or Moscow. Otherwise “we would have a definite schism, with mathematical precision,” Abp. Chrysostomos added. It is notable that he does not accuse any of the Churches of deciding in favor of Moscow, as Greek and Ukrainian media widely accuses the Serbian, Polish, Czech-Slovak, and Antiochian Churches of siding with Moscow for political reasons. His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia and His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Poland, however, have emphasized that their decisions to not accept the Ukrainian schismatics are based solely in the canonical tradition of the Church. All parties involved need to think only about the good of the Church, not about personal interests, the Cypriot primate emphasized. “The Church is one, and we must all help to raise it up. We must cherish Orthodoxy as the apple of our eye,” he said. Abp. Chrysostomos has taken up the role of mediator between the Churches, in lieu of Patriarch Bartholomew, visiting the primates of the fraternal Local Churches in order to coordinate and find a real solution to the crisis facing the Church. He noted in his interview that his recent visits with the primates of the Serbian, Bulgarian, and Greek Churches went well and were undertaken with the blessing of Pat. Bartholomew. In his view, Moscow and Constantinople do not need to enter into dialogue together alone, but that all the Churches will enter into dialogue when the right time comes, which he is trying to facilitate. He also explained that the idea to visit the other primates arose in conversation with His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, who cannot accompany him due to eye problems and the pressure he is under. Abp. Chrysostomos also reported that His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, will visit him in Cyprus next week. “I do not know what he wants, but be sure that I will answer him directly,” the Archbishop emphasized. In conclusion, Abp. Chrysostomos said he is confident that God will bless the Church’s work in solving the problem, undertaken with faith and love and for the interest of the Church as a whole. http://orthochristian.com/121349.html?fbclid=IwAR2XaMkBNSinAtAnoCrdwubiTMOc2Q2MVd3FyyqF5TwjQELY_P2fs50q7f4
  13. At an untold number of Christian churches and institutions, the silence on sexual abuse is deafening. Statistically, evangelical pastors rarely mention the issue from the pulpit. According to research from the evangelical publishing company LifeWay, 64 percent of pastors said they talk about sexual violence once a year, or even less than that. Pastors drastically underestimate the number of victims in their congregations; a majority of them guessed in the survey that 10 percent or less might be victims. But in 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 4 women (women make up approximately 55 percent of evangelicals) and 1 in 9 men have been sexually abused. There is no evidence suggesting those numbers are lower inside the church. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/05/31/feature/the-epidemic-of-denial-about-sexual-abuse-in-the-evangelical-church/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f06aaee9a787
  14. Ukrainian media has been reporting on trouble boiling under the surface of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) for several weeks now. Factions have formed between those who support the official primate “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko and those who remain loyal to and supportive of “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko and are indignant at his minimal role in the new structure. Denisenko has been the unrivaled leader of the schismatic autocephaly movement in Ukraine for 30 years but was relegated to the role of “Honorary Patriarch” in the OCU, forbidden to put his name in for primate by the Patriarchate of Constantinople which created the new church in cooperation with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine. The first Synod meeting for the new “church” gave him control of Kiev churches—a far cry from the primatial leadership he had imagined for himself. Now the trouble has boiled over and Philaret has openly declared that he intends to restore the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) and take those hierarchs loyal to him with him. That is, the schismatic OCU, made up of two schismatic bodies, now faces the serious threaten of breaking down into two schismatic groups again. Despite promising Constantinople that the KP was liquidated just before the “unification council” on December 15 that united the KP with the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (UAOC) to create the OCU, Philaret has since then continually declared that the KP still exists. He has given awards on behalf of the KP and parishes of the canonical Church that decided to go into schism were re-registered to the KP, not to the OCU. He has also declared that the “unification council” was in no way a Ukrainian council, but was a function of the Constantinople Church. It has become clear that Philaret kept the KP alive as Plan B in case he wasn’t satisfied with the new OCU, and he’s openly not. “The Kiev Patriarchate exists, it does not need to be returned,” he said in a recent interview 1+1. “There is a patriarch, and if there is a patriarch, then there is a patriarchate, the Kiev Patriarchate. And there it does and should exist. And the time will come when it will be recognized. I am 100% certain,” he added. He went on to acknowledge that there is a division in the “Ukrainian Church,” but said, “We are creating a single church—the Kiev Patriarchate. Necessarily.” The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine, on the other hand, has officially stated on May 10 that the KP no longer legally exists in Ukraine as of January 30. However, the evidence shows otherwise, as the KP (and the UAOC) remains active in the state register of legal entities, individual entrepreneurs and public formations. As mentioned above, the KP has continued to receive new parishes since January 30. Philaret has also declared that only he who created the KP can liquidate it. Epiphany Dumenko was the protégé of Philaret Denisenko in the KP. Denisenko forced another KP “hierarch,” Mikhail Zinkevich, to remove his name from consideration for the primatial slot so his loyal project Dumenko could be elected. Denisenko assumed continued loyalty from Dumenko and even declared that he would continue to rule the church in tandem with the much younger Dumenko. However, the frosting of their relationship became apparent when Denisenko recently invited a number of “hierarchs” of the OCU to join him at Kiev’s Vladimir Cathedral on May 14 to celebrate the memory of St. Makary of Kiev, whose relics are kept at the cathedral. The invitations were sent on behalf of the KP, and Dumenko was not among the invitees. It is widely expected that the revival of the KP will be discussed. The Ternopil Diocese of the OCU, formerly the Ternopil Diocese of the UAOC, offered the clever response of expressing its support for Epiphany Dumenko in a letter published on UAOC letterhead. Denisenko did eventually invite Dumenko, commenting to him that he had not initially invited him because “not once after your election as the primate of the UOC—for five months—did you celebrate the Divine Liturgy with me. I had the thought, perhaps it’s wrong, that you consider it humiliating to serve with Patriarch Philaret?” The fact that Dumenko has not served with his mentor and “Honorary Patriarch” for five months indicates the growing sentiment among mainly the younger members of the KP that the future is not with Denisekno—it’s time to move on. And Dumenko’s supporters are striking back. An appeal to the supporters of Philaret, “10 Theses for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” has appealed online, imploring them not to provoke a new schism. Additionally, the administration of the schismatic Kiev Theological Academy has forbade its students from attending Philaret’s May 14 service for St. Makary. The online appeal states: “Immediately after the unification council, strange processes incomprehensible to us began, which we connect with the unacceptable lust for power and ambition of some of the church hierarchs… First of all, we are talking about several interviews of the former Patriarch of the UOC-KP Philaret.” The Orthodox world has long known that Philaret Denisenko went into schism in the first place 30 years ago after he was passed over for the Russian Patriarchal throne. As the Metropolitan of Kiev and Locum Tenens following the repose of Patriarch Pimen, Denisenko fully expected to ascend the throne, but in the aftermath of Alexei II’s election and enthronement, he betrayed Christ in His Church and became an ideologue of schismatic nationalism. He was defrocked, excommunicated, and eventually anathematized for persisting in schism. On October 11, the Holy Synod of Constantinople declared the anathema against him null and void. Its spokesmen have justified the overturning of the anathema by claiming it was never justified in the first place. Moscow had simply taken revenge on Philaret for seeking Ukrainian autocephaly they claim—it had nothing to do with Philaret’s lust for power. However, now that the Ukrainian schismatic church has autocephaly from Constantinople (though it is recognized only by Constantinople), there seems to be no justification for Philaret’s ongoing provocations, other than his egocentrism and lust for power that His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania spoke of in a 2015 interview. For his part, Epiphany Dumenko, who will not attend Philaret’s gathering, has responded that a return to the KP would mean the loss of the tomos of autocephaly from Constantinople and the isolation of the OCU. The OCU is, in fact, currently isolated from the rest of the Orthodox world, though Dumenko recently expressed the hope and belief that this will change. The current state of the OCU is only a continuation of what has always been. Before the “unification council” in December, the “hierarchs” of the KP and UAOC could not work together and the Holy Synod of Constantinople was forced to write the statutes for the schismatic church and to convene the “council,” forcing a unification of incompatible groups. http://orthochristian.com/121136.html?fbclid=IwAR1M8S0t4Ttj44C33Or8c5_ZuTrBkDHvIK9qslV_vqxNJGiEuxeCGHCst-s
  15. The consequences of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s creation of a new schismatic church in Ukraine and the granting of autocephaly to it continue to reverberate throughout the entire Orthodox world, and the monastic enclave of Mt. Athos is no exception. The issue has divided the monasteries, some of which have accepted and concelebrated with the visiting representatives of the new “church,” and some of which categorically reject them as schismatics. OrthoChristian recently published a translation of the opinion of the representatives of four Greek monasteries that sharply criticized the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian St. Panteleimon’s Monastery on Mt. Athos. Now a letter from 12 Athonite elders from various sketes and cells has been published in Greek by Romfea and in Russian by the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church. The letter is dated March 17—a month after the first schismatic delegation visited Mt. Athos and celebrated Liturgy in several monasteries. “With great sorrow and concern we learn about what is happening in the Orthodox Church as a whole because of the non-canonical granting of autocephaly to the schismatics of Ukraine without the consent of the canonical autonomous Church headed by Metropolitan Onuphry, which continues to consider the new autocephalites as schismatics, having no communion with them and, on the basis of the sacred canons, with all of those who have communion with the schismatics,” the letter opens. The Patriarchate of Constantinople granted autocephaly to a group within another Church’s jurisdiction, in clear violation of the holy canons, the Athonite fathers write, and thus the Russian Church has broken communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In the authors’ view, Constantinople’s actions threaten a schism on the scale of the 1054 split between Rome and Constantinople. The Church is still bleeding from the wounds from the ecumenist council of Crete in 2016, and now there has been inflicted a new wound, “for which the Ecumenical Patriarchate is solely responsible,” the letter reads. Further, this justification of schism places people’s souls in danger of damnation because the Holy Spirit is not active in schism, the fathers write, with reference to the teachings of Sts. Basil the Great and John Chrysostom. Heresy and schism are the work of satan, the Athonites write categorically. “When [the devil] fails to thwart salvation through heresies, then he works to provoke schisms,” they assert. The occasion of the writing of this letter, the authors write, is that they do not want to fall into this soul-destroying work of the devil. The Athonite elders continue to recognize the schismatics precisely as such, and they reject the historical revisionism of Constantinople which claims that Ukraine has always been its territory: We have left the world and the pleasures of the world and we use our souls and bodies for ascetic podvigs, to obtain the mercy of God. Would it not be inexcusable negligence and folly to render our labors and aspirations worthless by communing with the Ukrainian schismatics who are removed from Eucharistic communion and defrocked by the Russian Church to which they belonged for more than three centuries, according to the unchanging, continuous, and general recognition of all Orthodoxy, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate? The fathers then point to canons from the ecumenically-recognized councils of Laodicea and Antioch to demonstrate that joint prayer with schismatics is prohibited, and that those who enter into communion with the excommunicated ought themselves to be excommunicated. Further, only the Church that excommunicates someone can receive him back—a rule clearly broken by Pat. Bartholomew, the fathers write, which according to the Council of Antioch, makes him subject to excommunication. “In 1686, by an act of Patriarch Dionysius IV, [Ukraine] entered the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, which according to pan-Orthodox consent has remained for 333 years until this day,” the letter reads. Later, after the fall of communism, Philaret Denisenko went into schism after he lost the election for Patriarch of Moscow and was subsequently defrocked and anathematized. Thus, the Athonite ascetics reject the historical revisionism that says that Philaret was punished simply for desiring autocephaly. Additionally, the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” of Makary Maletich traces not only to schismatics, but even to those wholly devoid of any apostolic succession, the letter states, and thus they are recognized as schismatic by all, except for Constantinople. However, the canonical Church remains that headed by Met. Onuphry, according to the Athonite elders. And the problem did not begin with the Ukrainian situation: “It has long been known that Pat. Bartholomew does not have any particular respect for the sacred canons, which he has violated and violates, especially with regard to relations with heretics, and now with schismatics.” The entire construct upon which Pat. Bartholomew’s invasion of Ukrainian Church territory is built is like a house built on the sand of inept advisors: At first, relying on insufficiently-educated or self-serving theological consultants, he tried to justify his invasion by referring to the concept of ekkliton (ἔκκλητον), that is, that he alone, as a second pope, can accept appeals and petitions from other autocephalous Churches, as he is, allegedly, according to the recently-appeared prevailing opinion of the pseudo-theologians of the post-Patristic era, not the first among equals (primus inter pares), but the first without equals (primus sine paribus). And further: But this argument immediately crashed with a bang, because it contradicts the conciliar system of Church governance, in which all patriarchs and primates are considered equal to one another, with Constantinople having only a primacy of honor, not power, as claimed by the Pope. The right to hear appeals extends only to those of his own jurisdiction, and not to the jurisdiction of other patriarchs. The fathers then refer to the comments on the 9th canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council of the “God-moved” St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, “one of our greatest theologians and canonists,” to substantiate their argument about who has the right to hear which appeals. The Athonite elders then point to Constantinople’s changing tactics in regard to the Ukrainian situation: When Patriarch Bartholomew realized that he couldn’t rely upon ekkliton in his cross-border intervention within the bounds of another’s jurisdiction, then with the help of his own advisors, ready to serve him, he discovered 333 years later that Ukraine is within the jurisdiction not of the Russian, but of the Constantinopolitan Church! His inattentive or militant theologians concealed and misinterpreted many documents and opinions in order to come to the ridiculous conclusion about the temporary nature of the transfer of Ukraine to the Russian Church (a temporary character of more than three centuries!), and that now this concession is canceled. Despite these games on the part of Constantinople, every Local Church recognizes the Church in Ukraine as that headed by the “wise and modest” Met. Onuphry, as the elders write, which did not request autocephaly. As autocephaly was given to a minority group of schismatics, against the pan-Orthodox opinion, the autocephaly is highly problematic. The authors of the letter also consider it unjust and devoid of basic logic to “place a magnifying glass” on the nationalistic or ecumenistic tendencies of some in the Russian Church (past and present), though not of the canonical Ukrainian Church they note, in order to justify Constantinople’s anti-canonical invasion. The elders then testify that the majority of the fathers of the Holy Mountain rejoiced with great joy when the Sacred Community decided not to send a delegation to the enthronement of the schismatic “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko or even to send him a congratulatory letter. But they were very upset by the minority of monasteries and fathers which still participated in the enthronement. The same torn feelings were caused by the visitation of the delegation of the schismatic church to the Holy Mountain: “The exact same feelings of joy filled our hearts because many monasteries prevented the visit of ‘bishops’ and ‘clerics’ of the new false Church, but bitterness and dispassionate anger towards those, fortunately, few who courteously accepted them and/or served with them!!!” Due to the seriousness of the issue, and for the sake of the high authority that Mt. Athos enjoys in the Orthodox world, and for the sake of ensuring inter-Athonite unity, the authors of the letter entreat that the schismatics be denied access to the Holy Mountain, or at the least that their “clerics” not be allowed to serve, until a pan-Orthodox resolution is reached, given that, despite the extreme pressure, no Church has recognized the schismatics over the past three months. This decision should be made as soon as possible given the news about the schismatics planning more visits to Mt. Athos, the fathers write. Moreover, the founders of the Ukrainian schismatic movement are not only condemned by the Church, but also have the condemnation of civil courts for grave moral crimes, unthinkable even for non-Christians, the letter reads. They are also weighed down by involvement in the recent Bulgarian schism, ties with the Ukrainian Uniates, and persecution against the canonical Church, especially after Constantinople recognized them. They also lament Epiphany Dumenko’s recent statements about softening on the sin of homosexuality. Moreover, the schismatics visiting the Holy Mountain are not spiritually, but are rather politically motivated—looking only for acceptance of their illegitimate group that they can then advertise to the Orthodox world, “and to achieve their wicked plans,” the Athonite elders write. In conclusion, the fathers emphasize that they will not jeopardize their salvation by entering into communion with the excommunicated schismatics and that they will not promote the present schism on the local or global Orthodox level. “We fear an inter-Athonite schism if we do not make correct and courageous decisions,” the Fathers conclude. The letter is signed by: Elder Hieromonk Arsenios with the brotherhood of Panagouda cell of Koutloumousiou Monastery; Elder Hieromonk Abraham with the brotherhood of the kallyva of St. Gerasimos of Koutloumousiou Skete; Elder Hierodeacon Theophilos with the brotherhood of the cell of the Holy Unmercenaries of Grigoriou Monastery; Elder Nicholas of the cell of St. Demetrios of Hilandar Monastery; Elder Joseph with the brotherhood of the cell of St. Theodore of St. Paul’s Monastery; Elder Savva with the brotherhood of the cell of the Holy Archangels of Hilandar Monastery; Elder Nikodemos of the cell of St. Nektarios of Stavronikita Monastery; Elder Gabriel of the cell of St. Christodoulos of Koutloumousiou Monastery; Elder Euphrosynos with the brotherhood of the cell of St. John the Forerunner of Koutloumousiou Monastery; Elder Paisios with the brotherhood of the cell of the Holy Archangels of Hilandar Monastery; Elder Nikodemos of the cell of St. John the Theologian of the Great Lavra; Elder Arsenios of the kallyva of the Holy Monk-Martyr Gerasimos of Koutloumousiou Skete. http://orthochristian.com/120863.html?fbclid=IwAR1zff4SNu49qZZFj35lUMS7iPxGUBWZJPaVCfkYqZxCxm1KlS58nFcR1GA
  16. Despite enduring 3 months of persecutions, threats, church seizures, and promises of material goods, the clergy of the Chernivtsi-Bukovina Diocese of the canonical Church are remaining faithful to Christ in His Church, under the primatial rule of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists. According to the diocesan press service, only 2 priests have defected to the schismatic church, with 447 priests remaining faithful to the Church and the oath they gave at their ordinations. Thus, they have not abandoned the flocks entrusted to them by God. “In recent months we have seen personal threats, the seizure of churches, cut locks, buckets of slop poured out by the ‘independent’ media, the temptation of honors from state officials, promises of material benefits from the creators of the new faith… But what’s it all for if having crossed over the threshold, you can only fall down dead?” write the clergy of the diocese. In January, the clergy of the Gertsa Deanery of the Chernivtsi-Bukovina Diocese appealed to local authorities with an open letter, calling for an end to the persecution of the clergy of the canonical Church. “We will confess the faith that Christ has left us,” the statement read. “We remain faithful to the Lord God, our canonical UOC in the person of his Beatitude Onuphry Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine and we will serve, above all, God, the true Orthodox faith and the Ukrainian people, and we will be in a prayerful connection with the entire canonical Orthodox world.” In this latest report, the clergy call on all to pray for the faithful pastors of the Church, that the Lord would grant them strength to worthily withstand the present trials. The Bukovina region is home to more than 100 Romanian-language parishes, which has made it somewhat of a disputed area. In its latest statement on the Ukrainian crisis, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Patriarchate declared that it would take the fate of those parishes into special consideration and would seek a guarantee from both ecclesiastical and state authorities that the Romanian language and culture there would be protected and that a Romanian vicariate would be established to facilitate their connection with their Romanian homeland. “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the head of the schismatic church, then declared that they were ready to meet the Romanian Synod’s conditions and open a vicariate, and later that they are preparing a delegation to send to the Romanian Church. The schismatics expect the Romanian Church to be among the first to recognize them, though the Romanian Synod called on Moscow and Constantinople to work out the issue jointly. http://orthochristian.com/120135.html?fbclid=IwAR0WGDPDBb3xE_9k_LCr9AGKIS8lCwRfLwLUB59wZAhdPCxC6D76JxbkfaU
  17. The Orthodox Churches have no right to speak on the matter of the Ukrainian crisis other than to affirm the decisions and actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, according to Patriarch Bartholomew’s reply to the Albanian Church that was recently published in Greek and subsequently in Russian. In December, Pat. Bartholomew wrote to the primates of the Orthodox Churches throughout the world, calling on them to recognize the results of December 15’s “unification council” that created a new ecclesiastical structure in Ukraine. On January 14, the Albanian Church responded that while it cannot accept the Russian Church’s decision to break communion with Constantinople, it also has serious issues with Constantinople’s decision to accept the hierarchs and clergy o the Ukrainian schismatic groups whose ordinations are devoid of grace and the action of Holy Spirit. They also lament that the creation of a new “autocephalous” church did nothing to create unity in Ukraine, but conversely, has only deepened the divisions there and threatens a schism in the entire Orthodox world. As the Albanian Church’ statement was published in full, the Patriarchate of Constantinople also published its response to the Albanian Church in full. In the reply, Pat. Bartholomew laments that the “Mother Church and the Patriarch himself” are being “slandered” by those who benefit from misinterpreting Constantinople’s actions. This echoes statements he made in early January, that he would not change course on the Ukrainian issue no matter what the Local Churches say, as they need to learn to respect Constantinople more: “We pray that the sister Churches which unjustly oppose the decisions and initiatives of the first throne of the Constantinople Church would finally begin to think logically and fairly, with great respect and gratitude to the Church of our Ecumenical Patriarchate.” ‘Therefore,” the Patriarch writes to the Albanian Synod, “it is up to you to realize the truths that have been spoken, not to ratify them.” This echoes the Patriarch’s statement from October that, in the end, the Russian Church will have no choice but to obey its decisions. For Constantinople, it is a matter of having enough respect for the Patriarchate of Constantinople to simply accept whatever decisions and actions it makes, while the Synods, primates, and hierarchs from the various Local Churches have shown that they believe that these actions and decisions should be evaluated as to whether they are true to Orthodox ecclesiology and canon law. There seems to be contradictory statements and reasonings coming from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. During the recent town hall meeting put on by the Archons of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul took care to emphasize the supposed conciliarity of the Patriarchate’s actions, referring to the visits to each Local Church by a Constantinople delegation to discuss the matter. Here the Patriarch, however, openly states that conciliarity is unnecessary when Constantinople has already made a decision. As is typical for his statements on this matter, Pat. Bartholomew also states that the Patriarchate acts only out of love and the desire for good order, not out of self-interest or any other motive, including political. However, there have been voices throughout the Orthodox Church recognizing the opposite in the Patriarchate’s actions. For example, His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro of the Serbian Church said of Pat. Bartholomew in December that “His love of power has led to great sorrow in Ukraine, to discord that is catastrophic for the future not only of Ukraine and all the Slavic peoples, but at the same time for all of Orthodoxy.” Moreover, the recent news that Constantinople is in fact receiving a number of buildings, premises, and other properties in exchange for the tomos of autocephaly invalidates the claim that the Patriarchate did not act out of any self-interest. Pat. Bartholomew also repeats his Patriarchate’s assertion that the canons of the Church grant universal jurisdiction to Constantinople, to hear appeals and intervene in situations in any Church’s territory—an assertion that has been heard more and more frequently in the context of the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. For example, in his letter to Alexander Drabinko, one of the two bishops who defected from the canonical Church, in which Pat. Bartholomew received him into his jurisdiction (without a canonical release from the Ukrainian Church) on the eve of the “unification council,” he wrote that Constantinople “indisputably has the responsibility to judge ecclesiastical matters everywhere and to give them a final conclusion.” The same assertion was also made in the tomos granted to the Ukrainian schismatic church. However, St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, the Church’s foremost canonist, writes that “the Bishop of Constantinople has no authority to officiate in the dioceses and parishes of other Patriarchs, nor has he been given by this Canon [Canon 9 of Constantinople—O.C.] to grant a decision in reference to an appeal on the part of the whole Church.” Further, Pat. Bartholomew notes that the newest autocephalies were granted by Constantinople, but degrades the independent statutes of these Churches at the same time. “The newest and so-called ‘autocephalies,’” he terms them, reflecting Constantinople’s conviction that the autocephaly of any Church except for the four ancient Patriarchates and the Church of Cyprus can, in fact, be revoked by Constantinople, as they were never explicitly confirmed by an Ecumenical Council. However, their autocephalous status was confirmed by the organizational makeup of the Crete Council of 2016, which Constantinople considers to be binding on all Orthodox Churches. Moreover, it should be noted that most of these autocephalous were granted to Churches that were formerly precisely under the jurisdiction of Constantinople, such as the Russian Church, whereas Ukraine is not under Constantinople’s jurisdiction and thus its intervention there is non-canonical. And despite recent examples, the Church of Cyprus received its autocephaly from an Ecumenical Council, and the Church of Georgia initially from the Church of Antioch. Thus there is ancient precedent for autocephaly begin granted not by Constantinople. And regarding the newer examples, they were not always without controversy. Constantinople granted the Polish Church its autocephaly at a time when its Mother Church in Russia was weak, and this caused no little stir. The Polish Church later sought autocephaly from the Russian Church. The autocephaly granted to the Georgian Church in the 1990s was actually a recognition of what had already been, since the Georgian Church declared its own autocephaly in 1917, which was recognized by the Russian Church a few decades later. And the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia received its autocephaly first from the Russian Church, though Constantinople issued a new tomos of autocephaly later when the Czech-Slovak Church sought to regularize its relations with Constantinople (though without actually seeking a new tomos). Also regarding the canonical tradition, Pat. Bartholomew writes that he included with his letter a study on the reality of ordinations celebrated by schismatic or deposed bishops, which would mean by extension that Constantinople recognizes the hierarchs and clergy of the various Old Calendarist groups as true clergy. “However,” the Union of Orthodox Journalists writes, “in the very document, at the very beginning, Metropolitan Basil of Smyrna recognizes that on the basis of the sacred canons of the Church, it is impossible to draw a conclusion about the effectiveness of such schismatic ‘ordinations.’” Pat. Bartholomew also offers several historical examples of schismatic ordinations being accepted by the Church: the Meletian schism in the early Church, the case of the Bulgarian Church from 1872 to 1945, and the reunion of ROCOR with the Moscow Patriarchate. However, none of these situations are analogous, as none of them involves one Patriarchate interfering in the life of another to cancel legitimate excommunications and anathematizations and create an entirely new structure within another Church’s territory. The case of ROCOR is especially helpful in that we see a Church body, which was never fully out of communion with the Church, returning precisely to the body from which it had separated. In the case of the Bulgarian Church, it was not excommunicated by every Local Church—concelebrations continued with other Local Churches and the Romanian Church provided holy Chrism to it for many years—and in 1945 was received back into communion with other Local Churches—it was not a case of a sect of schismatics within one Local Church being restored under the authority of another Local Church altogether. http://orthochristian.com/119888.html?fbclid=IwAR3x-cHBJEfQ_bg-nEcg1tw1idOleTjDoXNSyWArVM2auoSUCK4RSguncNc
  18. Gnezdichno, Ukraine, March 5, 2019 Video has appeared online showing a “priest” of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and other activists of the schismatic church and the nationalist terrorist group Right Sector beating parishioners, including women, of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, reports the site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The video clearly shows “Father” Ivan Lesik, known for political racketeering, pushing and hitting women parishioners of the canonical Holy Transfiguration Church in the village of Gnezdichno in the Ternopil Province, and the same violence being used by the other schismatics and the Right Sector nationalists. The video also shows police standing idly by, not intervening. Despite the multitude of such cases, many of which have been caught on video, the hierarchy of the schismatic church continue to insist that no parishes are every forcefully converted. The press service of the Ukrainian Church stressed that the incident shows how unprotected believers of the canonical Church experience the gross violation of their rights and freedoms. Supporters of the schismatic church held a village meeting on January 13 at which part of the attendees to move into the schismatic church, though the parish community resolved to remain in the canonical Church. At that time, the parties managed to reach an agreement on peaceful co-existence. However, the schismatics returned and started a fight outside the church in early February, injuring the rector Fr. Stephan Balan at that time. The parishioners showed up to protect their church, though the police took the side of the provocateurs. Fr. Stephan warned at that time that they were likely planning to return and finally seize the church, which they did on Sunday. Though the church was to be sealed, with the communities alternating services on the street, they “for the third time broke their own conditions, opened the sealed church, and started celebrating the ‘Liturgy.’ When our faithful came to the church at the end of the service and asked to be given the opportunity to worship in the church, they were sharply refused,” Fr. Stephan explained. Negotiations continued for a while, while 15-20 Right Sector thugs blocked the entrance to the church. After some shouts and shoving, the supporters of the OCU, headed by the pseudo-priest Lesik, began to beat and throw the faithful of the UOC out of the church onto street, under shouts of “There will be no Muscovites here.” In a separate incident in the Ternopil Province, 15 schismatics surrounded the home of Fr. Yaroslav in the village of Trebukhovtsi, demanding that he and his family leave. They say the house also belongs to the church that was seized on February 28, reports the Ukrainian site Vesti. The schismatics have already removed Fr. Yaroslav’s belongings and plan to build a Sunday School in his house. Meanwhile, the priest and his family will have to move to Ternopil, an hour away from his parishioners. http://orthochristian.com/119723.html?fbclid=IwAR1MiMbF6cIE0zFLjNOEfmneNOUmMC13Hkx3KpjW6SXJOIctb6kTYgDn6hc
  19. Celebrations in honor of the 180th anniversary of the Polotsk Council that reunited Belarusian and Lithuanian Uniates with the Orthodox Church in 1839 were held on Sunday in the ancient town of Polotsk. The festive celebrations began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in St. Sophia’s Cathedral, one of the oldest churches in Belarus. The Divine service was headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Zaslav, the Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, with the concelebration of several other hierarchs and a number of clergy, reports sobor.by. St. Sophia’s Cathedral, rebuilt after a devastating war in the 18th century on the foundations of an 11th-century Byzantine cathedral, witnessed the fateful decision of the Uniate hierarchs and clergy to return to the bosom of the Orthodox Church, the main initiator of which was the Uniate bishop (later Orthodox Metropolitan of Lithuania and Vilna) Joseph (Semashko). The Belarusian Church has discussed the possibility of canonizing this great reunifier, and 2018 was declared the year of Met. Joseph in the Belarusian Exarchate. As Met. Pavel noted during the service, 180 years ago, Met. Joseph gathered bishop and priests and, with God’s help, abolished the 1596 Union of Brest that saw a number of Orthodox bishops departing from the Church and placing themselves under the authority of the Pope, thus creating the Unia. Two years before the council, Met. Joseph initiated the collecting of signatures from Uniate clergy who desired to return to Orthodoxy. Only 2% of the Belarusian and Lithuanian Uniate clergy opposed, and the council in the Cathedral of St. Sophia opened on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in 1839. As a result of the council, more than 1,600 parishes, with more than 1.6 million parishioners were reunited to holy Orthodoxy, who are the ancestors of modern Central and Western Belarus. The Polotsk Council put an end to difficult times of hostility and hatred, Met. Pavel said. His Eminence Archbishop Theodosy of Polotsk and Glubokoe highlighted that through Met. Joseph’s efforts, the ancient Orthodox Diocese of Polotsk was able to return to its ancient and unique spiritual, ecclesiastical, social, political, scientific, and educational sources and fruits. “We continue to live in the traditions that were originally laid in our Church, that were at the origins of our state and nation. And now we enjoy their fruits by the labors of St. Euphrosyne of Polotsk, and Joseph (Semashko), who was able to renew and revive all of it,” Abp. Theodosius said. During the celebrations, it was announced that an international forum decided to the 180th anniversary of the council will be held in October. In September 2016, Polish Orthodox believers also celebrated the 90th anniversary of the return of the people of Lemkos to the Orthodox Church from Uniatism. http://orthochristian.com/119602.html?fbclid=IwAR3tW60dHcYUHZFRKCsLz5lXfTUi7VRURM_Vl0W1i7VHaQijRHJnCo0NLGU
  20. According to an order from Ukrainian Minister of Culture Evgeny Nischuk, the Uniates will be allowed to serve the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of St. Sophia, one of the most ancient Orthodox churches in the city, on the feast of the Annunciation on March 25/April 7. The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholics Svyatoslav Shevchuk announced the upcoming service during a service on February 17. As has been stated before, the common goal of the schismatic church and the Uniates is to create a single Kiev Patriarchate that will be recognized by both Rome and Constantinople. And on January 17, Shevchuk stressed his belief that no one church can lay claim to St. Sophia’s, but that it is “a meeting place for all descendants of the St. Sophia Church of Kiev.” The church currently belongs to the Ukrainian government. However, not everyone is happy with these plans. Philaret Denisenko, the “Patriarch” of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) and “Honorary Patriarch” of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” the ideological leader of the Ukrainian schismatic-nationalist movement, is concerned about how Ukrainian Orthodox will react, and, resorting to his typical Russophobia, about the possibility of provocations from the Kremlin. In an address to Shevchuk published on the KP website, Denisenko asked him not to serve in St. Sophia’s because “it’s like if one of the Orthodox primates celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of the Holy Apostle Peter in Rome.” The Ministry of Culture seems to have waivered in its decision following the statement by the ideological schismatic leader. In his message, Philaret calls the Uniate plans to celebrate Annunciation in the Orthodox cathedral “unusual,” because, he says, the Ukrainian Uniates have never served there, and he recalled that the enthronement of “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic church, was recently held there. Uniates contend, however, that St. Sophia’s was transferred to them for a time beginning in 1596. According to Orthodox ecclesiology and canons, it is forbidden for non-Orthodox to serve at an Orthodox altar, though Denisenko focuses only the possibility of negative reactions. He stresses that if the Uniates serve there, “it will cause resistance from Orthodox Ukrainians… At a time when there is a war for the independence and integrity of Ukraine in the eastern part of our country, we are called to testify and maintain peace and unity in society.” Moreover, the “Patriarch” fears, as he often does, how the Kremlin will respond: “There is a danger that this situation can be used by Russia to carry out provocations to harm the Ukrainian people.” Thus, Philaret urges Shevchuk to give up the idea of serving in St. Sophia’s and expresses hope that the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” and the Uniates will continue to develop good relations. Interestingly, following the publication of Denisenko’s letter, the Ministry of Culture posted a message on Saturday that the Uniates were not allowed to serve in St. Sophia’s, as that would harm the great UNESCO monument, though the message was soon removed, reports the Ukrainian site Strana, with a screenshot of the removed message. Many Ukrainian leaders, including the Minister of Culture himself, and the Parliament Speaker Andrei Paruby, are Uniates. Yesterday, the Information Department of the Uniate church reported that they respect the opinions of their “Orthodox brothers,” and thus a meeting between Shevchuk and Dumenko will be held to resolve the issue. http://orthochristian.com/119564.html?fbclid=IwAR0FaVLey2T8b86_8yocmgt2NkSMgcwQxl-GkyM6fwgsKA7olXZyTeyESow
  21. Two matushkas of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church were injured on Friday when the Church of St. Nicholas in the village of Zhidichin in the Volyn Province was forcibly seized by radicals from the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP). As reported by Fr. Roman Geleta, his matushka was injured when a rock hit her just below the eye, and his mother, also a matushka at the parish, was hit in the forehead. Both priests’ wives were taken away from the scene to be examined, reports the press service of the Volyn Diocese. According to Fr. Roman, the faithful of the parish gathered at their church of their own accord to try to prevent the seizure, though the schismatics were able to break through the crowd and cut the locks on the door. The group of raiders included both locals and people brought in from outside. The entrance to the church territory was blocked by a car. At the beginning of the clash, the abbot of a KP monastery in Lutsk arrived and led an akathist with the gathered schismatics. Students of the KP’s Volyn Academy were among those gathered near the church. Before the seizure, the group demanded the keys to the church from the rector, Fr. Vladimir Geleta, but he refused. They then cut the locks to the church and went inside to “take inventory.” They also lite a fire in the church yard and began to “protect” the church. It is unknown if any of the personal belongings of the parish clergy have been taken since no one from the canonical community has been allowed inside the church. Leaflets with schismatic propaganda have been distributed in the village sine the beginning of the month, and Fr. Roman even received a “decree” from Mikhail Zinkevich, a hierarch of the KP, about the local deanery’s acceptance into the KP. Zinkevich even appointed a new rector to replace Fr. Roman’s father, Fr. Vladimir, who has served in the church for 30 years. However, the priests and community of the Church of St. Nicholas have confirmed their intention to remain faithful to the canonical Church several times, in particular on February 10, when a legal parish meeting was held and the faithful expressed their loyalty to the canonical Church and its primate His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. The meeting’s results were recorded in the parish protocols. Fr. Vladimir also had to defend his parish from schismatics in the 1990s. KP representatives even kidnapped his then-3-year old son—Fr. Roman—for several hours to try to convince him to join their schism. http://orthochristian.com/119559.html?fbclid=IwAR29fFthQWZ_sBdsk6jqzO-axSV5Dxx6Daet8p7usaLRfC3UM7u7MKnqELk
  22. His Grace Bishop John of Glavinitsa of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church reposed in the Lord this morning in a Sofia hospital after a brief battle with cancer, reports Dobrotoliubie. Bp. John served as Vicar Bishop to His Eminence Metropolitan Kiril of Varna and Veliki Preslav and in recent years carried out his ministry at the world-famous St. John of Rila Monastery. He will be remembered as a hierarch who loved the service of God and the liturgical services. His Grace was born Stoyan Kostadinov Stoykov on November 29, 1949 in Sofia. He received his secondary education at the St. John of Rila Sofia Seminary, and on January 11, 1969, he took his monastic vows in the Bachkovo Monastery, and was ordained as a hierodeacon later that year. He was ordained as a hieromonk in 1971, and raised to the rank of archimandrite in 1976. n 1976, he graduated from the St. Clement of Ohrid Theological Academy in Sofia. He served as a priest in the Metropolis of Vidin, as the Deputy Rector of the Sofia Theological Seminary, and as the head of the Synodal Liturgical Department before becoming a bishop. He was consecrated as the Bishop of Glavinitsa on November 30, 2010, serving as a vicar to the Metropolitan of Varna. May his memory be eternal! http://orthochristian.com/119524.html?fbclid=IwAR2HffDPJ3aEpMVHPcsPiX8K9hj_VjinNZ1NjMsXOFgPn_BMvmG6DgS4KWQ
  23. The Archdiocese of the Russian Churches in Western Europe, officially the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of the Russian Tradition in Western Europe, reportedly intends to ask to be accepted into the Russian Orthodox Church. The Archdiocese had been a part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for decades, though it was suddenly abolished without warning by the Holy Synod of the Constantinople on November 27. The Patriarchate then officially announced that it had revoked the 1999 tomos that gave the care of the Archdiocese to its own Archbishop-Exarch and that the Russian parishes were to be integrated into the dioceses of the Patriarchate of Constantinople already present in their countries. The Archdiocese then announced that it would hold a clergy meeting on December 15 that would set a date for a General Assembly that would formulate a response to Constantinople. And today, a Russian translation of a letter sent from the Archdiocesan hierarch Archbishop John (Renneteau) of Chariopoulis to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, received by the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations (DECR), has been published on Credo Press, revealing that the Archdiocese intends to petition for canonical recognition by the Russian Orthodox Church. The letter reads: Your Holiness! After my meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion on November 30, 2018, I am allowing myself, as Archbishop, to begin a correspondence with you regarding the Archdiocese of the Russian Churches in Western Europe's new situation. My main pastoral concern is to preserve the unity, integrity, and specificity of this Archdiocese, which played an important role in preserving the theological, liturgical, and ecclesiological spiritual tradition of the Russian Church in Western Europe in a difficult historical period. We are planning to ask you for canonical recognition of the aforementioned Archdiocese, which would ensure the continuity of the inheritance and mission that is turning 100 (in 2024), and which will also allow many to enter the path of reconciliation after so many years of mutual distrust. To this end, we would like you to consider it possible to confirm to us the assurance of the legal and ecclesiastical continuity of our structure, regulated by its statutes, in accordance with the provisions of the Act of July 1, 1901 and the Act of December 9, 1905, and also the decree of May 6, 1906, in accordance with the laws of the French Republic on relations between the state and churches. Moreover, our statutes directly refer to the resolutions of the Moscow Council of 1917-1918. It is this inheritance that we would like to preserve, because it allowed for the preservation of an open Church life including the participation of the laity in the life of the community. Asking this, Your Holiness, we do not want to enter into any competition with your dioceses in Western Europe, but into cooperation with respect for our own historical path. It could be fruitful and allow us to join the Synod or Metropolia of the Russian Church in Western Europe, allowing for the better integration of all our parishes of various languages in various countries, while maintaining the integrity of this Archdiocese in the universal mission of the Orthodox Church. Requesting this, Your Holiness, I understand that we will have to deepen this return together, addressing the fundamental principles of our Archdiocese, which is within the Mother Church from which it is transferring. Being confident in your positive and pastoral attitude towards our request, I wish you a good feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos and we entreat your holy prayers for us all, and your blessing. Archbishop John of Chariopoulis Paris, December 7, 2018 http://orthochristian.com/117864.html?fbclid=IwAR2kAsK7LKUi-unGjzcFaNSAQDuzg_BbU17PdwdS5N35gkAdzwPv0IH-bQ4
  24. The Patriarchate of Constantinople has declared that the Russian Church of the Life-Giving Trinity in Pyongyang, North Korea to it, as was stated in the calendar published by the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the occasion of the visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to Seoul, South Korea. The church is the first and only Orthodox parish in North Korea, and has nothing do with the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the Russian Embassy in North Korea wrote on its Facebook page yesterday. “The question is, what relation does Patriarch Bartholomew have with our church? Why does he want it? To gratify his ambitions? To turn the fruits of the ministry of the Russian missionaries into politicking, parasitic for the faith? We will not allow him to cause chaos, as he has managed to do in Ukraine, here in DPRK,” the message reads. The decision to build the church was personally made by former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on August 22, 2002, as a sign of Russian-Korean friendship, after he visited the Church of St. Innocent of Irkutsk in Khabarovsk, Russia, according to the site of the Russian Embassy in North Korea. The foundation stone for the church was laid on June 24, 2003, and four North Korean students entered the Moscow Seminary the same year, two of them being ordained as deacons in 2005. The parish community of the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity was officially established by the Russian Holy Synod in July 2006, and the church was consecrated on August 13, 2006, with the two deacons being ordained as priests. The parish is part of the Vladivostok Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. However, Constantinple has always considered the church to be its own, under the idea that that entire Korean Peninsula is its own canonical territory. “When the parish was finally prepared, the then head of the Russian Orthodox Department for External Church Relations and now Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill, with the support of the Russian Embassy in North Korea, went into the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and uncanonically consecrated the parish,” Metropolitan Ambrosios of the Korean Metropolis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate said in an interview last summer. In its post entitled “UNSEEMLY AMBITIONS,” the embassy reports: “We were very surprised that in far-away Istanbul, they seriously consider the Pyongyang Holy Trinity Church to be their own. In any case, this follows from the calendar published by the Korean Metropolis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the occasion of Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to Seoul.” Patriarch Bartholomew is visiting South Korea from December 3 to 8. His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, also just visited China and both Koreas in late November. Further, the embassy notes that such ambitions from Constantinople have been rebuffed several times by North Korea. “Just recently, Patriarch Bartholomew was given the cold shoulder when he again asked to be received in Pyongyang. More than once, and more than twice the Orthodox Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has explained its position to the Turkish subjects: The Holy Trinity Church was erected as a symbol of Korean-Russian friendship by decision of the former leader of the DPRK Kim Jong Il,” the embassy’s message reads, adding that the church has been a place of prayer for many years for diplomats of the Russian Embassy and others. “The Ecumenical Patriarch, which was brought to Korea on the bayonets of Greek soldiers in 1950, cannot, by definition, have any relation to this project,” the message further reads. The embassy also notes that the parish was built and beautified by the embassy staff and their families, together with the Koreans, and with financial support from Vladivostok. The icons and bells are Russian, the clergy were trained and ordained by the Russian Church, and the altar is blessed with the presence of relics of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church. In his interview, Met. Ambrosios also states that Metropolitan Sotirios, the previous ruling hierarch for Constantinople, had sent large containers with materials for the church three times, and that he had even sent and traveled with a crane to place the dome on top the church. He also notes that Met. Sotirios was invited by the parish to visit and serve several times, with their gratitude for his help in building the church. The parish’s permanent parishioners are all embassy staff and their families. http://orthochristian.com/117710.html?fbclid=IwAR1_hr-yS3PjoJpTeqt4F_kuzj0EuMMRAAhk5xE-YCc-h-_BTchGZCKe-lY

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