On Friday, a US drone attack killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force in Baghdad, prompting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to warn that Tehran will take revenge for what it views to be a heinous crime.
An unnamed US official claimed that Iranian missile forces across the country were at a "heightened state of alert", noting that the US military have been closely watching for any further moves by Tehran, Reuters reported.
According to the report, the official said that "it was unclear whether the higher readiness level was defensive in nature or not".
US Official Claims Iran Missile Forces Across Country Are On Heightened State of Alert - Report
SPUTNIKNEWS.COM On Friday, a US drone attack killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force in Baghdad, prompting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani...
Met. Chrysostomos of Dodoni (right) with Pat. Bartholomew (left)
Several Moscow Patriarchate hierarchs and clergy went on pilgrimage recently to the Greek Ionian Islands, where they had a chance to meet with the Greek hierarchs of Zakynthos and Dodoni and to discuss current Orthodox events.
During the course of the conversation, His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Dodoni expressed his views on the Ukrainian issue, revealing the influence of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s particular understanding of the issue on certain hierarchs in the Greek Church.
On Sunday, September 15, His Eminence Metropolitan Isidore of Smolensk and His Grace Bishop Seraphim of Bobruisk of the Belarusian Exarchate and two accompanying priests were warmly welcomed at the Monastery of Strofades and St. Dionysios in Zakynthos by His Eminence Metropolitan Dionysios II of Zakynthos and His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Dodoni, formerly the hierarch of Zakynthos, reports nyxthimeron.com.
After visiting the sepulchral church of St. Dionysius, the guests toured the ecclesiastical museum, exchanged gifts, and were served a rich meal, during which Met. Chrysostomos, who has served as a bishop since 1976, expressed his nostalgic love for the two former Patriarchs of Moscow, with whom he had close ties, as well as several other historical figures of the Russian Church.
However, the metropolitan revealed another attitude towards the Russian Church when the guests broached the topic of the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. “With the boldness that distinguishes him, [he] pointed out that any problem could have been raised and solved at the Holy and Great Council of Crete (2016) if the Moscow Patriarchate had not refused, with various excuses, to attend, thereby sabotaging unanimity and unity, and even compelling other Churches. This is because Russia always has aspirations of being ‘Third Rome,’” nyxthimeron.com reports.
Whether Met. Chrysostomos has simply grown fuzzy on the details in the years since the Council or whether he was intentionally distorting the timeline is unclear.
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church announced on June 1, 2016 that it would not attend the Council; the Antiochian Church announced on June 6 that it would not attend; and the Georgian Orthodox Church announced on June 10 that it would not attend. Only after these three Churches had withdrawn did the Russian Church announce that it could not attend.
Moreover, the Churches did not simply withdraw, but rather called for the council to be postponed so that their respective issues could be addressed. The Moscow Patriarchate specifically proposed holding an emergency pre-conciliar session for just this purpose, but Patriarch Bartholomew refused to do so, choosing instead to plow ahead with the council without full pan-Orthodox unity.
While the Patriarchate of Constantinople blames the Russian Church for influencing the other Churches to withdraw, this has always remained groundless speculation, as are paranoid fears of a “Third Rome” ecclesiology. A position of respect for the other Local Churches allows them to speak for themselves, and each of the Churches expressed their own seriously-considered reasons for withdrawing from the Council.
And despite Met. Chrysostomos’ contention, the Ukrainian issue would not have been addressed at Crete even had the Russian Church attended, as Pat. Bartholomew publicly acknowledged already in January of 2016 that it was not on the agenda. The official agenda for the Crete Council was published on January 28, and also did not include the topic of autocephaly and how to grant it.
Pat. Bartholomew has referred to the fact that autocephaly was not dealt with at Crete to justify his claim to the right to grant autocephaly whenever to whomever, wherever.
Meeting with the Russian hierarchs, the Metropolitan of Dodoni also stated that every nation has the right to self-determination and to Church autocephaly. Recall, however, that the Patriarchate of Constantinople claims large chunks of Greece for itself, thus there are two Local Churches operating within one nation.
Met. Chrysostomos also noted that autocephaly is typically given by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as was the case with Russia, Greece, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. It should be noted, however, that those territories were within the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople before they received autocephaly, whereas Ukraine has not been part of Constantinople for more than 300 years. Moreover, the Georgian Church received its ancient autocephaly from the Patriarchate of Antioch.
Concerning the Russian clerics disquiet concerning “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko, Met. Chrysostomos again insisted that everything could have been settled if not for the Russian Church’s efforts to “torpedo” any pan-Orthodox council. Recall that His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, and many other primates, hierarchs, and Synods, specifically called upon Pat. Bartholomew to summon a pan-Orthodox council to deal with the Ukrainian issue, and Pat. Bartholomew flatly refused, citing the failure of the Crete council.
The Greek hierarch also criticized the Russian Church for ceasing Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, though reports did not mention if he detailed how he thinks a Church should respond to another Local Church non-canonically invading its territory and setting up schismatics as a new church.
Met. Chrysostomos concluded with a very revealing remark, noting that the Church of Greece is of the same ethnicity and race as the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and thus it is inconceivable for it not to align itself with Constantinople.
The Greek metropolitan is echoing the sentiment of Pat. Bartholomew and the Patriarchate of Constantinople with such remarks. Certain Greek and Ukrainian media outlets have repeatedly framed the Ukrainian issue as “Russia vs. Ukraine”
or “Russia vs. Constantinople,” rather than considering it through the lens of Orthodoxy.
In October of last year, Pat. Bartholomew himself declared that “Our Slavic brothers cannot tolerate the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our nation in Orthodoxy,” and “Whether our Russian brothers like it or not, sooner or later, they will follow the decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarch, because they have no other choice.”
A similar attitude was displayed recently when Metropolitan Ephraim of Hydra, Spetses, and Aegina threatened to canonically punish three clerics who had written a letter of support to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. Viewing the matter as one of ethnic enmity rather than one of holy Orthodoxy, the metropolitan interpreted their support for Met. Onuphry as a declaration of loyalty to the Moscow Patriarchate, rather than as the declaration of loyalty to the sacred canons of which they wrote.
Such an attitude stands in stark contrast to that of many other hierarchs, including His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who recently spoke of how the Serbian Church is autocephalous and equal to all the other autocephalous Churches, as racial or ethnic superiority has no place in the Church of Christ.
Greek hierarch: We are the same race as Constantinople, we must side with the Patriarchate
ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM Several Moscow Patriarchate hierarchs and clergy went on pilgrimage recently to the Greek Ionian Islands, where they had a chance to meet with the Greek hierarchs of Zakynthos and...
The Orthodox Church in America will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its autocephaly next year, with several events dedicated to the anniversary throughout America. Its tomos of autocephaly, granted by the Moscow Patriarchate, was signed by His Holiness Patriarch Alexei I and the 14 hierarchs of the Holy Synod in Moscow on April 10, 1970.
However, rumors and reports of the OCA’s plans to forfeit its autocephaly have been fairly commonplace in the past few years. While all Local Churches recognize the OCA as a true Orthodox Church, currently only the Russian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Polish, Serbian, and Czech and Slovak Churches recognize its autocephaly. Thus, there are those who believe the OCA would give up its autocephaly to “normalize” its situation.
Most notably, the Patriarchate of Constantinople refuses to recognize the OCA’s independence, arguing that it alone has the authority to grant autocephaly. Thus, the OCA was not invited to participate in 2016’s “Great and Holy Council” on the island of Crete.
More recently, the primate of the OCA, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of America and All Canada concelebrated with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in Cappadocia on the Sunday of All Saints in June this year, which, along with the OCA’s stance against the schismatics of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” led to accusations of “back room deals,” though, as OrthoChristian reported, sources involved in the trip denied these rumors.
Having been in Cappadocia when Archbishop Elpidophoros was enthroned in New York as head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Met. Tikhon instead paid his first visit to the new Archbishop at the Archdiocesan headquarters on Wednesday.
The next day, a report appeared on the blog Monomakhos entitled, “Breaking: The OCA to go under EP!” with reference to two sources claiming that the OCA “has been in negotiations to cede its autocephaly and go under Istanbul.”
“One source says that this is ‘a done deal,’ the other says that negotiations are ‘ongoing,’” the report reads, adding that the OCA could either become a vicariate of the Greek Archdiocese or America, or receive an impaired form of autocephaly, such as the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” received from Constantinople in January.
However, as with the rumors surrounding His Beatitude’s trip to Cappadocia, OrthoChristian has been assured by multiple sources within the OCA administration that the Church has no such plans to give up its autocephaly.
One such source, His Eminence Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey, the Secretary of the OCA Holy Synod, assured: “The OCA is not giving up its autocephaly— it will be celebrating the Golden Jubilee of getting it next year ... a number of times and in a number of places: May (South Canaan), August (Alaska), and November (Washington DC). There will be symposia on the history of it, the meaning of it and the future of it, etc.”
“As the Secretary of the OCA Synod of Bishops, I know of no such movement ... and I know of no such intention by His Beatitude (or any of our hierarchs),” His Eminence added.
Moreover, the OCA’s administrative organization would seem to effectively preclude any such secret deals. The Statute of the OCA defines the Church as autocephalous: “The Orthodox Church in America is an autocephalous Church with territorial jurisdiction in the United States of America and in Canada.” And while the Holy Synod of the OCA holds competency over “All matters involving doctrine, canonical order, morals, and liturgical practice,” it is the All-American Council that possesses the authority to “Adopt and amend the Statute.”
The All-American Council is convened periodically, normally at intervals of three years, as per the Statute. Its members include the hierarchs, clergy, and lay representatives. The last All-American Council was held in St. Louis, Missouri last year.
Update: His Grace Bishop David Mahaffey of Alaska has also responded to the rumors, on his Facebook page, stating: “Beloved in the Lord. There is a very vicious rumor being circulated ... concerning the status of the OCA that is completely false. I will not even mention the rumor here because I will not be fuel it any further, but suffice it to say, IT IS COMPLETELY FALSE.”
Reports of OCA giving up its autocephaly are unfounded, say OCA hierarchs
ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM The Orthodox Church in America will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its autocephaly next year, with several events dedicated to the anniversary throughout America.
During the French Revolution’s worst years, some of the most visible expressions of violence involved attacks on the Church, which was perceived as a pillar of the ancien régime. Revolutionaries slaughtered numerous clergy and expelled thousands of others. They expropriated Church-owned property and occasionally ransacked and burnt churches.
It was hard not to recall these past events when reading about the recent spate of vandalism inflicted on Catholic churches throughout France over the past two weeks.
The Observatoire de la Christianophobie reports that between February 3 and 11, nine Catholic churches were subject to severe vandalism, ranging from the smashing of statues and stained-glass windows to the overturning of tabernacles. One church in Yvelines, the church of Saint-Nicolas de Houilles, was vandalised three times in seven days. It follows a series of similar attacks on Catholic churches throughout France in 2018.
Vandalism isn’t a new problem. But why have Catholic churches in France become a target in recent years?
Part of the answer lies in that they are easy targets. Many churches are open to the public on a regular basis. In some cases, they lack internal surveillance cameras. This made it simple for a group of Romanian migrants, for instance, to stroll into Catholic churches throughout 2018 and walk out unimpeded with valuable artifacts to sell.
Beyond professional thieves, the absence of security means that anyone with a grudge or strong resentment about their present circumstances won’t encounter too much difficulty if they choose to wreak havoc on a church’s interior. That could include people ranging from disgruntled teenagers to Islamists looking for easy targets.
To that extent, the outbreak of church vandalism may reflect the social unrest presently permeating France. The country is now into its fourth month of protest by the gilets jaunes (yellow vests). Much of this has been expressed through vandalism of banks, high-end businesses in fashionable parts of Paris and other cities, and the occasional scrawling of graffiti on national monuments. The police’s aggressive response to the gilets jaunes has also helped inure many otherwise peaceful people to everyday violence.
That, however, doesn’t explain the French media’s relative silence on church desecrations or the French government’s indifferent response to the problem. The only major French newspaper to raise major concerns has been the centre-right Le Figaro. On February 13, Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe belatedly tweeted a condemnation of the attacks, promising he would discuss the issue at his next meeting with France’s Catholic bishops.
That’s hardly a robust response. It also suggests that, when it comes to violence against Catholic places of worship, the reaction of much of France’s political and media establishment is a collective shrug.
In some quarters, things have not changed much since 1789.
MANY THOUSANDS WILL DIE – The Coming Schism in Orthodoxy: “Repent, and Stop This Insanity” By Metropolitan JonahОд o. Miroljub,
Published on: Oct 14, 2018 @ 00:40 – By Metropolitan Jonah – Once again, the United States and its policies are creating chaos, setting up the murder of innocent people, and disrupting an ancient institution. Only this time, it is direct interference in the affairs not just of a nation state, Ukraine, but of a religious institution, the Orthodox Church. And the effect of this is not just on a local, but worldwide level.
The granting of autocephaly to the schismatic Ukrainian body, the so-called Kiev Patriarchate, is not primarily an ecclesiastical issue, but a political one. Ecclesiastically, the US policy is interfering on a number of different levels. It is not, of course, interfering for the sake of human rights, freedom of religion, of religious institutions governing their own lives without government interference, or the fundamental American principle of the separation of church and state. It is rather operating contrary to these fundamental American principles, and trying to force the faithful people of Ukraine into a unified state church, supporting an unpopular government installed, supported and maintained by the United States, and essentially appointing the clergy and hierarchy, particularly the patriarch, for that body. Undoubtedly it will support the Ukrainian government in its efforts to nationalize the 12,000 churches belonging to the legitimate canonical Ukrainian Churchand its faithful people, confiscating the buildings and property, including the ancient sacred monasteries and national landmarks.
The Ukrainian people, faithful Orthodox Christians, will fight against the confiscation of their churches, just as they fought the Soviet confiscation of their churches by the Communists in the 1920s. And now as then, they will give their lives for the protection of their holy places from defilement by false brethren. Just as they heroically fought the Nazis in the Second World War, and then the Communists again after the Nazis were expelled, they will reject the false patriarch Denisenko and fight against a government that they know cares nothing for them and their interests, their liberty and religious freedom, just as they rejected the Living Church Renovationists in the 1920’s.
Thousands will die, protesting against American policy translated into violent action by the Ukrainian government. This is a grave sin, for the Ukrainian leadership and their American masters.
Moreover, not content to manipulate the ecclesiastical and political mafiosi of Ukraine, a failing state grasping for power and lacking legitimacy from its people, the State Department and other agencies have injected themselves into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. They have manipulated the elderly Ecumenical Patriarch, either directly or through their proxies, through his greatest weakness: the precarious position of the Patriarchate within Turkey, politically and financially. They would expand his jurisdiction, and have ensured his financial stability with bribes of millions of dollars. They are using and abusing an old man who is trying with all his might to preserve an ancient institution. They have compromised him, and the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and are thereby disrupting not only the Ukraine and its precarious peace, but fostering a schism that will rend the Orthodox world, a community larger than the United States. This is a bitter and cynical move, and profoundly evil.
Their justification is that they want to curtail the influence of Russia. The neoconservatives and others who control so much US policy are possessed by a paranoid Russophobia, left over from the first Cold War, and a new hatred of the Christian values espoused by the resurgent Russia. Despite Russia’s overtures for greater cooperation and détente, and President Trump’s apparent willingness to make friends with Russia, we remain hostage to the fears of State Department and Pentagon bureaucrats. Should we not to mention that Russia has a GDP less than that of Texas, and a military budget less than one tenth that of the US. So the United States tries to hit the Russians in the place they care about the most: their Faith, their Church, their Christianity.
The canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, under Metropolitan Onuphry, is a maximally autonomous church attached to the Russian Orthodox Church. It is the Mother diocese of the Russian Church, and there is a thousand year connection between the Kievan Metropolitanate and the rest of the Russian Church. For years, the Kievan Metropolitanate has been autonomous, which means that their main connection with Moscow is that they commemorate (pray for) the Patriarch of Moscow at services. Otherwise, they govern their own life. The Russian Patriarch has far less authority over the Church in Ukraine than the Pope does over the Roman Catholics in America. (There is a close parallel to old deep seated American anti-Catholic attitudes, and fears of the Moscow Patriarchate.) Yet there are close personal ties, and huge numbers of Ukrainians serve in parishes and dioceses throughout Russia. The ties are organic, and the canonical Ukrainian Church has no desire, and has not asked, for autocephaly.
And so the United States State Department and agencies support a disgraced and legitimately defrocked charlatan who is all dressed up, and who is himself manipulating the pathetic Poroshenko, for his own ambition. They have blackmailed the elderly Ecumenical Patriarch, in regards to the disappearance of funds from the American Archdiocese, and then bribed him. To justify himself he asserted an interpretation of his own jurisdiction that is rejected by the rest of the Orthodox Churches.
The other thirteen Orthodox Churches, with one or two exceptions that have remained silent, condemn this move by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. They do not accept the assertion of virtually universal jurisdiction by the Patriarch of Constantinople, nor the authority to act unilaterally, especially on matters that require the consensus of all the Churches, such as the granting of autocephaly. While the Patriarchs cannot control what happens politically in Ukraine, what is more likely is that they will meet and try to remove Patriarch Bartholomew for having acted contrary to the universal canons. The greatest hope is that the Ecumenical Patriarchate will repent and stop this madness. It may be too late.
In the meantime, if they go through with the autocephaly, babushki—grandmothers—will be dying in Ukraine trying to defend their beloved churches from the new Ukraino-Nazis.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople will have relegated itself to schism from the rest of the Orthodox world; it might as well then join the Vatican. In any event it will lose any claim to the primacy, save historical memory, and thus any influence.
Sooner than later in Ukraine, Poroshenko will be voted out, and Denisenko, 90+ years old, will die. Then the schism will fall apart, regardless of its status. Ukraine will continue to collapse, autocephalous church or no, into political, social, economic and ecclesiastical chaos. No one, not the US and not Russia, is willing or able to step in and save it. It will finally have to emerge from the ashes. So it will join Iraq, Libya, Syria and other places destroyed by US intervention.
Orthodoxy, however will survive – preferably with the Ecumenical Patriarchate intact, but even without it. The other churches have already rallied around the Patriarch of Moscow as standing for and maintaining canonical order; and around Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev as a victim of profound injustice, revealing Christ suffering in the midst of persecution. So thanks to US policy, Moscow emerges strongly as the moral leader of the Orthodox world. Poetic justice.
But you, State Department, will have the blood of the little Ukrainian grandmothers and old men on your hands and your heads. And you will have to answer for your decisions and actions before God. Or do you even care?
October 12, 2018
Metropolitan Jonah is a bishop within the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the former Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and a native born American.
HOUSANDS WILL DIE – The Coming Schism in Orthodoxy: “Repent, and Stop This Insan