International Orthodox Christian News


The Standing Committee of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Middle Eastmet in St Mark Coptic Orthodox Conference Centre ­ Cairo May 7 ­ 8। On the9th, the meeting was presided by His Holiness Pope Shenouda of the CopticOrthodox Church, and His Holiness Patriarch Zakka Iwas I of the SyrianOrthodox Church। His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian OrthodoxChurch was not able to travel from Beirut because of the special situationin Lebanon। The Committee presented its working papers to the Heads of Churches। No common declaration was issued until the Heads of OrientalOrthodox meet again. There were many issues and reports on the agenda of the meeting, regarding the relations and dialogues between the Oriental Orthodox churches in the Middle East and the Anglican, Catholic and Lutheran Churches as well as the World Council of Churches and the Middle East Council ofChurches. >Middle East Council of Churches>Office of International Ecumenical Relations>P.O. Box 5376, Beirut, Lebanon Guirgis Ibrahim Saleh, General Secretary or >+961-1-353-938>

Moscow, May 29, Interfax - Head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, presented a message by Pope of Rome Benedict XVI to Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexy II on Thursday.He told the Patriarch he was glad to meet him and to hand over the Pontiff's message.The cardinal also voiced hope that the meeting would promote further contacts between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church."The Orthodox-Catholic dialogue is necessary," Alexy II said. The two Churches have similar positions on many modern problems, among them morals, social and family relations, human rights and bio-ethics."Our dialogue must lead to the Orthodox-Catholic interaction in the defense of traditional Christian values in the secular world," the Patriarch said.Kasper said he had visited several dioceses and monasteries of the Russian Orthodox Church during his unofficial visit to Russia.

Moscow, May 29, Interfax - Head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, presented a message by Pope of Rome Benedict XVI to Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexy II on Thursday.He told the Patriarch he was glad to meet him and to hand over the Pontiff's message.The cardinal also voiced hope that the meeting would promote further contacts between the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church."The Orthodox-Catholic dialogue is necessary," Alexy II said. The two Churches have similar positions on many modern problems, among them morals, social and family relations, human rights and bio-ethics."Our dialogue must lead to the Orthodox-Catholic interaction in the defense of traditional Christian values in the secular world," the Patriarch said.Kasper said he had visited several dioceses and monasteries of the Russian Orthodox Church during his unofficial visit to Russia.

Moscow, May 27, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church believes that Russia cannot be powerful and successful if its people don't realize supreme ideals and values and don't have will to stand up for them।"Neither oil nor weapons make nation great. If we don't have ideals and a supreme global goal, we will be deprived of oil and gas and all our weapons either won't be used due to the lack of political will or will be used against ourselves," the deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said on Tuesday at a conference in Moscow. He thinks that "ideological and volitional components of politics are central and define everything," and only having it realized, "Russia can achieve success."According to him, the minority won the October coup in 1917 because they had "a supreme aim and spared no effort to achieve it." Fr. Vsevolod noted that the society's majority also had the same goal "but, perhaps, they weren't taught to defend their choice.""Future Russia's victories also depend on whether there are supreme goals, supreme values and ability to achieve the goal leaving out minor every day priorities for the sake of our global mission," the Moscow Patriarchate's representative summed up.

The decision comes at the end of a meeting by a joint working group on problems between the two Churches. The Patriarchate wants to keep an eye on Orthodox children who live in Catholic institutions. This however has been the rule for years. Once again silence prevails on other, more important issues.
Vladimir (AsiaNews) – The Russian Orthodox Church has decided that it will closely and constantly monitor the activities of Catholic social organisations, especially orphanages. The decision was taken at a meeting of a joint working group on problems between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Churches that was held in the city of Vladimir, east of Moscow.
“The working group is ready to do such monitoring,” said working group Co-Chairman Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin. It will “try to work out a common vision of ways that could make Orthodox-Catholic interrelation [. . .] more systematic.”
For Archpriest Chaplin, who is also Vice Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations at the Moscow Patriarchate, this means that Orthodox children in Catholic orphanages and other Catholic institutions will obligatorily receive spiritual assistance and services from Orthodox clergymen.
There are no precise data on the exact number of children in Catholic orphanages, but according to some experts, the number is no more than 200 throughout the entire Russian Federation.
The Orthodox clergy’s request is understandable and reasonable, but the rights and interests of Orthodox children are already protected. Orthodox children in fact are already cared for by Orthodox priests and are free to practice their faith according to the principles of their Church.
One example among many: Father Igor Vyzhanov from the Department for External Church Relations at the Moscow Patriarchate baptised a child in April 2006 inside the St John Bosco Orphanage.
Over the years the approach of the Catholic Church to the education of minors has not changed. None the less, Catholic social activities will be “monitored”.
Like the 19 March meeting between Patriarch Aleksij II and the Mother of God archbishop that was postponed upon request by the Patriarchate, the Vladimir meeting represents another lost opportunity to talk about issues that are “sensitive” in the relationship between the two sister Churches, issues like visas for foreign religious, the return of Church property seized by the Soviet state, or the absence of Catholics from the Inter-faith Council of Russia (whose members include Orthodox, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists।)
by D. Dudochkin, A. Pirogov

Turkmen President receives Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has received a prominent hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Chirch, Chairman of the Department for External Ecclesiastical Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropoplitan of Smolensk and Kalinigrad Kirill in Ashgabat, May 27. Igor Blatov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Turkmenistan, attended the meeting.

According to the Turkmen State News Agency (TDH), the high guest conveyed the heartfelt greetings on behalf of Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II and expressed the wishes of wellbeing and prosperity to the people of Turkmenistan.

Thanking for the wishes the Turkmen leader said he was very glad to welcome on the Turkmen land the envoy of the Russian Orthodox Church that, “like in other major world religions, builds its activities on the principles of kindness, humanism and love of mankind”.

“Tolerance and respect for other religions are the main traits of the national character of the Turkmen people, who highly rate the universal virtues and postulates”, said Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. “The people of Turkmenistan cherish the interethnic and religious harmony reigning in the country. They consider it as one of the most important conditions of maintaining peace and stability and a basis for further strengthening of mutual understanding among nations”.

Metropolitan Kirill expressed sincere gratitude for the attention and tolerant attitude toward the Russian Orthodox Church and its parishes in Turkmenistan saying that the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church highly appreciates this attitude.

“I have seen many spiritual faces on which I was able to realize the atmosphere of peace and confidence in the future that the citizens of your country live in”, the Metropolitan said and told about the service he had held at an orthodox church in Ashgabat.


An emotional visit to the new Institute for Street Children of Johannesburg to which the Orthodox Church of Africa
shows its love, was undertaken on 22nd May 2008 By His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa.

It is the “Centre for Street Children” of the Holy Metropolis of Johannesburg which was established earlier this year with the care and concern of the local Metropolitan Seraphim, within the framework of the initiative which the Alexandrian Primate gives to the support of the poor and orphaned children of Africa .

More than forty children coming from divorced parents or parents who have lost the fight with AIDS, find care, a home and food.

There is significant contribution by specialists for their psychological care, as they are visited on a daily basis, as well as by teachers who prepare them during their pre-school education that they may soon join primary schools.

Because of this visit, His Beatitude gave to the suffering children of Africa parcels with gifts and foods, and expressed his satisfaction with the work of the local church as well as with the donations given by local Greeks who voluntarily contribute to this work of love.

His Beatitude also expressed his great content on the donations to this cause by the relative branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece, the N.G.O. of the Church of Greece “Allilengii”, as well as the N.G.O. of the Metropolis of Johannesburg.

It should be noted that the works of the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria in Johannesburg is extended to the “STEGI AGAPIS” which is for poor Greeks, an Old Age Home which operates at the Church of St Nektarios in Johannesburg, as well as the Ecclesiastical Academy “Patriarch Petros VII”, for the preparation of local clergy and lay members of the local Church for the pastoral needs of Orthodox Missions.


His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa paid visits to the Cypiot and Egyptian Embassies as well as the Greek Ambassadorial Residence on the 19th May 2008.

His Beatitude was made warmly welcome at the Cypriot Embassy by the High Commissioner of Cyprus, His Excellency Mr. Argyros Antoniou and the entire diplomatic staff.

During this meeting, His Beatitude thanked His Excellency the President of Cyprus, Mr Dimitri Christofias through Mr Antoniou, as well as His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II for the welcome he received during his recent visit to Cyprus . He also emphasized that the Church of St Mark will assist the efforts of Cyprus to gain a just solution to its ethnic problem.

His Excellency the High Commissioner expressed clearly that Cyprus would always support the missionary efforts of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.

His Beatitude then went on to meet with the Ambassador of Egypt Mrs. Mona Omar, and spoke with her about the multifaceted missionary work of the Patriarchate and expressed his great joy for the support given by Egypt and its Leader President Hosni Mubarak. He invited Mrs Omar to visit the Patriarchal See in the Great City of Alexandria as soon as possible.

The official programme of the day continued with the official lunch which was hosted by His Excellency the Ambassador of Greece Mr. Aristeidis Sandis, which was also attended by the Ambassadors of Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania.

His Beatitude was accompanied to this lunch by His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Johannesburg and Pretoria and an honoured guest was His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Paul of Memphis.

Welcoming His Beatitude, the Greek Ambassador called the Alexandrian Church the light which illumines all of Africa . His Beatitude spoke on the significance both of the missions as well as of the co-operation of Orthodox countries on issues regarding the preservation of human rights and the peaceful co-existence of countries.

On the evening of the same day, the Venerable Primate of the Alexandrian Church visited the local Greek radio, “New Pan-Hellenic Voice” which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. He gave an interview, speaking of the missionary work of the Alexandrian Church, Greeks living abroad and the Greek Community in South Africa.


On May 21, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, blessed and officially opened the Chancellery building in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The members of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin, led by His Holiness, and surrounded by members of the Supreme Spiritual Council, builders, employees, representatives of local authorities and guests conducted a Home Blessing service for the new building.

The Chancellery was constructed and furnished through the generosity of benefactors of the Mother See, Mr. and Mrs. Nazar and Artemis Nazarian of the United States. The architect of the building is Mr. Armand Avakian of the Unites States. The Chancellery was built by a local company, "Horizon-95".

Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, His Holiness congratulated everyone on this joyous occasion, delivering his blessing and appreciation to the benefactors, architects and builders. He also congratulated the employees of the chancellery who will be continuing their work in new and advanced working conditions to serve our Church, homeland and nation. The Chancellery will house the employees of the secretariat of the Catholicosate of all Armenians as well as additional departments providing primary coordination of works with different international and non-governmental organizations and state institutions.

In his remarks, His Holiness stated, "We are confident that through the new working conditions of the chancellery, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin will reap the benefits and accomplish even greater work – Work that will fill the souls of our faithful sons and daughters with spiritual joy and consolation.".

At the end of his remarks, for the dedicated and expert work implemented at the Mother See, His Holiness bestowed Mr. Gagik Galstian, President of the construction company "Horizon-95" with one of the highest awards of the Armenian Church – the Order of St. Nerses the Graceful, and presented him with the medal of St. Nerses. At the conclusion of the ceremony, guests in attendance toured the various floors, offices and archival facilities of the Chancellery.



The Catholicosate of Cilicia ceremoniously marked the 90th anniversary of Armenia’s first independence, established heroically on May 28, 1918 following the victory of Armenian freedom fighters in the battle of Sartarabad. A requiem service in the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral paid tribute to the memory of brave men who fell for the independence of their homeland and an official ceremony in the Veharan celebrated this victorious episode of contemporary Armenian history. The events on Sunday also collided with the naming of His Holiness Aram I.

Officiating the Mass and delivering the sermon was Father Sahag Yemishian, who highlighted the Armenian nation’s struggle for survival and the great resistance it put on in May 1918 on the battlefront. Catholicos Aram I presided over the Requiem Service for the memory of the heroes of the Sartarabad, Gharakilise and Pash Abaran battles, as well as other battles fought during the same time.

The religious class then moved to the Veharan, where Bishop Norayr Ashekian spoke on behalf of the Cilician Brotherhood. Going through the historic events surrounding the battles of May 1918, Bishop Ashekian emphasized the courage and willfulness displayed by the Armenian nation in its existential struggle. He stressed that the struggle continues today in various ways until the restoration of our nation’s violated rights. Among the initiators of this holy struggle, he signaled out the first President of the first independent Republic of Armenia, Aram Manoukian, and among those who have continued on this path he pointed to Catholicos Aram I. Referring to the Pontiff’s bold statements on the internationalization of the Armenian Cause and his achievements in this respect, Bishop Ashekian maintained that His Holiness is the champion of this ongoing struggle.

Deacon Hagop Kortmosian read out an address on behalf of the Seminary’s management, faculty and students, extolling the self-dedication of the May 1918 heroes, who through their conscious death and martyrdom, upheld the dignity of our nation rising from the ashes of the Genocide. Father Hagop then reviewed Catholicos Aram I’s 40 years of service in the Armenian Church, stamped with the same spirit of May 28 and the vision of an independent homeland.

In his Pontifical message, His Holiness first expressed his contentment at the statements made by the previous speakers. He observed that the memory of those heroes who established the May independence has been immortalized in those who remember them. The Catholicos then spoke about the indifference, which has become our present enemy, much like the enemy our forefathers fought in the battlefields of independence in 1918.

“Where are the children and grandchildren of those fathers and grandfathers, who for 70 years kept the Armenian flag high up throughout the Diaspora as a symbol of independence and national identity? However, the Catholicosate of Cilicia with its Catholicoi, and clergy remains the guardian of our nation’s supreme values. The spirit of May 28 is imprinted in the heart and soul of each one of our Brotherhood members,” the Pontiff assured.

The Seminary’s Choir then performed a series of national and patriotic songs and the official anthem of the Sartarabad victory “Yerp Tchi Menoum Yelk ou Djar” (“When no solution or exit remains”), in which the audience participated.

The ceremony ended with Catholicos Aram I “Bahbanitch” followed by Atchahampouyr, during which the attendants congratulated the Catholicos.


Bulgaria presents a new monument at Mini-Europe

Mini-Europe is continuing to expand! In the presence of the Bulgarian Minister of Culture Stefan Danailov and Minister-President of the Walloon Community Rudy Demotte, Mini-Europe revealed the Rila Monastery from Bulgaria. After the Air France Airbus A380, the Millennium Tower of Magdeburg and the Thermal Baths of Szecheny, it is the fourth new miniature of 2008. This new monument is intended to give the visitors of Mini-Europe an even more comprehensive picture of Europe, and the countries and cultures that compose it.

The Rila Monastery is not only Mini-Europe’s first monastery, but also, for the first time, it represents the Orthodox religion to which a sizeable proportion of Europeans belong. The Orthodox religion forms the foundation of the Cyrillic alphabet, whose birthday is celebrated by Bulgarians every year on 24 May. The Rila Monastery is a perfect illustration of the Bulgarian spirit, since it has always been the cradle of the Bulgarian Orthodox tradition, particularly during the Ottoman occupation. Furthermore, the monastery is resplendent with its brilliantly decorated inner courtyard and a church dating from the nine-teenth century.

The Rila Monastery was founded in the tenth century by students of Saint John of Rila, a hermit who was later canonized by the Orthodox Church. In the tenth century, he left his life at the monastery in Rouen to move to the barren Rila Mountains, and settled in the vicinity of the spectacular deep valleys of the Rilski River. A monastic community formed around John, and they founded the monastery after his death in 946.

The accommodation for ascetics and the caves were sanctuaries, and were gradually converted into a monastery complex that played an important role in the social and spiritual life of Bulgaria during the Middle Ages. The monastery was partly destroyed by a fire in the early nineteenth century, and was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862, while the parts which escaped the fire remained intact.

The Monastery of Saint John of Rila is a symbol of the Slavic culture after a long period of occupation and oppression by the Turks, which made it a national place of pilgrimage for Bulgarians. It can be seen as the religious centre of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and an expression of Bulgarian cultural identity. The monastery is also an example of the Bulgarian National Revival from the eighteenth and ninete

enth century. Since 1961, the Rila Monastery has been a national museum and in 1983, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Like all the other monuments at Mini-Europe, the monastery is built to a scale of 1/25th. The irregular lozenge shape of the monastery is 5.90 m long and 5.20 m wide.


Moscow, May 26, Interfax - Russian authorities may assign about 2, 000, 000 dollars to restore Orthodox churches and monasteries in Kosovo. Today Russian Foreign Ministry only works out a possibility of Russia's participation in restoration of Kosovo shrines in frames of the UNESCO project, Interfax-Religion has reported. "Russian government should study our project first. If it is approved, a leading team of officials from specialized ministries will be send to Kosovo. They will define what sites Russia is to restore," executive secretary of the National Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO Grigory Orjonikidze is quoted as saying by the Ogonyokmagazine on Monday.

According to him, only then the exact sum to be assigned from the state budget will be declared. It is approximately 2,000,000 dollars. "Then Russian architects, engineers and fine art experts will visit Kosovo. We will act in frames of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and UN mission in Kosovo. By the way, some countries have already allotted money for this project, for example, Greece and the USA," Orjonikidze said.

Deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin commented on the Russian initiative and said that "it is the matter of honor to help suffering Orthodox Christians in Kosovo." "No doubt, several thousands of Russian churches also should be restored. But Kosovo churches are a different matter. We all remember how radicals in Kosovo defiantly destroyed crosses and cupolas, shot at the icons, burnt and blew up the churches only to wipe out the memory of Serb spiritual heritage," the priest noted. According to him, Russia has always helped Orthodox churches abroad - in the Holy Land, in Western Europe, in America, on the Balkans "and they are grateful to this country up to day. Now Kosovo needs our help."


Istanbul, May 23, Interfax - Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European International Organizations Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and all Austria again stated that non-canonical Churches can't participate in inter-Christian dialogue, the representation's press-service has told Interfax-Religion.

At the session of the Supervisory Committee for the Orthodox-Anglican dialogue in Istanbul, Bishop Hilarion reminded about the Ravenna incident in October 2007 that took place during the work of the Mixed Orthodox-Catholic Commission. The Moscow Patriarchate's delegation left the meeting as among its participants were representatives of the so-called Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church set up by the Constantinople Patriarchate in 1996 in the canonical territory of the Russian Church without the latter's approval.

Bishop Hilarion stressed that in compliance with the decision of the Bishops' Council 2000, the Russian Orthodox Church can't participate in a dialogue together with representatives of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church and warned the participants of the Orthodox-Anglican session against "Ravenna scenario."

Among Orthodox participants in the Istanbul session also were Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokletia (the Constantinople Patriarchate) and Metropolitan Nifon of Targovishte (the Romanian Patriarchate) while the Anglicans were presented by Bishop Mark Dyer, Rev. Jonathan Goodall and Gregory Cameron.


Moscow, May 23, Interfax - The new First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) Metropolitan Hilarion congratulated Dmitry Medvedev on his assuming the office of the President of the Russian Federation and wished him to make Russia blossom and spiritually strong.

"In these complicated times for Russia, times of change and socio-economic transformation, you took upon yourself a great responsibility for the present and future of our Fatherland, for the fate of millions of Russians," states the Metropolitan's letter to Dmitry Medvedev published on the official site of ROCOR.

According to Metropolitan Hilarion, the Russian Diaspora knows and deeply values the fact that thanks to personal participation of the Russian President, "a spirit of trust and mutual understanding is being formed and the relationship between the Russian State and the Russian Orthodox Church is developing fruitfully."

"We hope for further strengthening for the good of Orthodox Christians living in the Fatherland and abroad," says the letter.

In conclusion, Metropolian Hilarion wished Dmitry Medvedev that the Lord helped him to "labor through his best efforts to make Russia blossom, spiritually strong and an enlightened government which remembers its past and preserves the holy traditions of her forefathers."

Metropolitan Hilarion also forwarded a letter to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin thanking him for his enormous contribution to the strengthening of the Russian State."

"I pray the Lord God that He help you in your task as Prime Minister, that with your help the newly-elected President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Anatolievich Medvedev will continue along the path you embarked upon of the renascence, renewal and strengthening of Russia," states the letter.

On May 17, the Church celebrated the first anniversary of signing the Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate. Thus, after decades of the Soviet epoch there was established the communion not only of the two parts of the Russian Church, but also of the Russian people split as a result of the revolution and the civil war.

For a long time, the clergy and lay people of ROCOR were explaining the failure to reconcile with the Mother Church with the alleged collaboration of the latter with the Soviet regime.


The restoration will continue in cooperation with the Culture Ministry, international institutions and UNMIK.

The SPC’s Synod finished its regular spring session yesterday, stating that the Church and the Serbian people would never countenance the unlawful, violent usurpation of Kosovo, and thanked all the countries that had not recognized the province’s unilateral independence declaration.

In a statement, the Synod added that it had been ”taken aback” by the behavior of some media channels, “whose goal is obviously not to objectively and responsibly inform the public, but to publish malicious lies about goings-on in the life of the Church.”

Religious analyst Živica Tucić told B92 that the Church’s statement showed that there were no divisions within the Church, especially at a time when its head was very ill.

“I see that certain topics that have been discussed, some that maybe the public, even the religious public expected, have not been mentioned. It is very important for worshippers to hear that issues related to liturgies, for example, have been discussed. It has been agreed that services will continue as before. There are many divisions on that topic generally,” Tucić said.

He said that the references to the media “show that relations between the media and the Church are very delicate, and that there is dissatisfaction on both sides.”

“I think that a serious discussion is required between the media and the Church in a constructive tone, and in a tone that shows readiness for cooperation,” he said.

The Church also stated that a report from the Commission for Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church had been adopted without any negative ramifications for the SPC.

Tucić said that the decision to conduct dialogue with the Catholic Church was necessary because there were many internal divisions regarding that issue.

He said that the document was being criticized most harshly by those who had not read it.

“It is a working document. I see that the Cypriot Orthodox Church stated two days ago that it had been notified of the document and would have a look at it. The SPC also stated that it was aware of it, and stated that it was not detrimental to Orthodoxy, but that it must be looked into more thoroughly,” Tucić said.

The Synod session was chaired by Bishop Amfilohije, who, under the SPC’s constitution, replaced Patriarch Pavle for health reasons.

It was stated that the meeting had dealt with “the vital questions of life, structure and the mission of the Serbian Orthodox Church.”


On Pascha, April 27th, His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios, joined by Assistant Bishops Nikolla and Andoni, held a reception at the Holy Metropolis in honor of the Orthodox Feastday.
The reception was attended by representatives from the other religious communities including the Suni Muslim, Bektashi Muslim, Roman Catholic, and Alevian Mulism Communities. Many politicians, diplomats, distinguished intellectuals and faithful also attended.President Bamir Topi and his wife were among those present and he expressed his warmest Paschal wishes to Archbishop Anastasios and all Albanian Orthodox Christians all over the world. Before the media in attendance, he declared; “Today is a notable day, first of all for Orthodox Faithful to whom I wish a ‘Happy Pascha’, but it is also a feastday for all Albanians who are known for celebrating well each other’s feasts. ... I believe this is a day when everyone should be inspired to return to the true spiritual values of the Albanian society. ... It is a day for hope to dominate over despair and altruism over egoism. ... Once again, to everyone I wish ‘Happy Pascha’.”
Prime Minister Sali Berisha also came with his wife to offer their congratulations and had a warm discussion with His Beatitude. In his words to those present at the reception, including the media, he brought to light some of the contributions which Archbishop Anastasios made this year.
As he left the Metropolis he declared to the journalists: “My most heartfelt congratulations to all Albanian Christian faithful for this day of the Resurrection of Christ, a day which represents the light of mankind’s eternity, the great hope of faith in the Lord, and the future.

A deep thanks to the nations spiritual leaders ... who have made vital contributions towards all the nation’s accomplishments, have built national spiritual infrastructure, who have stayed and continue to stay closer than anyone else to those in pain and need and who protect religious faith in its most shining tradition ... of religious tolerance. This is a day which is celebrated not only by Orthodox faithful, but also by Catholic and Muslim believers and others. Happy Pascha!” ozefina Topalli, leader of the Parliament also came and said “The Resurrection of Christ is an important event. This day has a deep inner meaning, the preservation of hopes, dreams, and faith for more beautiful days and for a time we desire and dream about for our generation and our children’s. I wish all Albanians of every religion: Happy Orthodox Pascha!”

Thoma Dhima
Translated and edited by Georgia Bendo


Moscow, May 22, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church is concerned that some missionaries don't observe the law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations as they conceal their confession, Interfax-Religion reports.

"The Russian law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations clearly reads: "Name of the religious organization should contain information on its confession. Religious organization should indicate its full title when carrying out its activities," Vice-chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin writes in his Scraps essays published by the Pravoslavnaya Moskva paper.

"Unfortunately, no responsibility is provided for this violation," the priest noted.

According to him, it results in common practice of "religious anonymity:" "missionaries don't say what Church they present."

"Though they claim to preach over-confessional "general Christianity. Or even disguise as Orthodox," Fr. Vsevolod said.


In the Patriarchate in Belgrade, with the blessings of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle, and under the presidency of His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, who in accordance with Article 62 of the Constitution of the Serbian Orthodox Church substitutes for His Holiness, who is currently absent due to illness, the regular convocation of The Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church was held from 15 to 21 May 2008. All of the diocesan hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the country and abroad, as well as His Beatitude Jovan, Archbishop of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, together with the hierarchs of the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ochrid participated in the work of The Assembly.

In the spirit of Paschal joy and with love in the Risen Lord, confronted by great contemporary spiritual challenges, The Holy Assembly of Bishops concerned itself with issues vital to the life, order and mission of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

In addition to numerous ongoing concerns, The Assembly paid special attention to Kosovo and Metohija in wake of the illegal proclamation of “independence” of this Region. Concurrently, The Assembly put forth its appreciation to all those who did not recognise this unjust act, and especially to those who manifested sincere solidarity with our Church and co-suffering love toward our Serbian people, stating once and for ever to all that the Serbian Church and people will never submit to the lawless severing of Kosovo and Metohija.

The restoration processes involving our sanctuaries in Kosovo and Metohija, destroyed during the pogrom of March 2004, were taken into consideration and it was determined that the same are to be continued in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia, and the international institutions and representatives of UNMIK – as the only international authority and legal factor in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1244. Insisting on the acceptance and sanctification of these restored churches and other ecclesiastical structures will enable the clergy and/or faithful to inhabit the same, thereby safeguarding and restoring them to their intended purpose. The Assembly believes that the Serbian Orthodox people will be thus encouraged to persevere and return to their age-old hearths in the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, to their heartland and sanctuaries.

With the aim, however, of preserving the venerable prayerful tradition and living witness of the Church in the contemporary world, The Assembly confirmed its position with regard to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and other liturgical services in the spirit of the age-old liturgical tradition of our Church. The Assembly celebration of the Holy Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the Temple of Saint Sava on Vrachar, once again manifested this, our firm unity at the Lord’s Table, on the Feast of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Sava, on Monday, 6/19 May 2008.

Particular attention was paid to continuing the building of the Memorial Temple of Saint Sava on Vrachar with the express desire, come invitation to all the faithful of our Church to assist in the completion of this testimonial temple of the Serbian people.

The Assembly once again showed its spiritual and archpastoral responsibility by paying due attention to the circumstances and difficult problems confronting our dioceses in the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, as well as to the life of our dioceses in the Diaspora throughout the world. The Assembly Fathers thereby deliberated on issues pertinent to the life of the Church in Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina appealing to their authorities to respect the elementary religious and property rights of the adherents of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In like manner, an appeal was issued to the authorities of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to desist with the persecution of His Beatitude Jovan, Archbishop of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skopje, and to remove all prohibitions and other illegal measures taken against the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ochrid.

The issue of Church property, the preservation of the existing and the restitution of the confiscated, as well as the issue of ecclesiastical foundations and funds were taken into consideration.

The Assembly paid diligent attention and concern to relations and cooperation with Sister Orthodox Churches, as well as relations and dialogue with other Churches and Communities of Faith. The Assembly adopted the Report of the Commission of The Holy Assembly of Bishops on the dialogue with the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church in Ravenna (Italy) and constituted that the same dialogue was not held in detriment to the Orthodox Church. Relative to the same, The Holy Assembly was stunned by the behaviour of certain media, both electronic and print, whose aim was obviously not to objectively and responsibly inform the public; rather deliberately construed to spread lies concerning events in the life of the Church. Sadly, with the same intentions and prejudices certain media misrepresented the work in progress of The Assembly and even the health of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle. The Assembly constituted that such behaviour of certain media does not maintain as its goal timely and truthful reporting to the public; rather to exacerbate confusion and create strife among the faithful in our local Church and the public in general.

To the plenitude of the Serbian Orthodox Church and all persons of good will, The Holy Assembly puts forth its tidings of peace and love, once again greeting all with the most joyous salutation:




Moscow, May 22, Interfax - The Union of Orthodox citizens predicts that Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko will have a special place in history as a "grave-digger of Orthodoxy."

"President Yuschenko is engaging Ukraine in the Constantinople Patriarchate and he bears main responsibility for potential consequences of this tragedy. If the Constantinople Patriarchate intrudes into Ukraine, the one who is guilty in it will be "bruited" in centuries as a grave-digger of canonical Orthodoxy in Ukraine and co-author of Ecumenical Orthodox schism," the Union's statement reads as it has been conveyed to Interfax-Religion.

Thus, the famous public organization reacts on Yuschenko's meeting with Constantinople representatives where the president stated that Ukraine approached "Mother Church of the Constantinople Patriarchate," while the Russian Orthodox Church had always decisively opposed it as Ukraine was its canonical territory.

According to the Union of Orthodox citizens "consequences of the Constantinople Patriarchate's intrusion into the others' canonical territory may result in schism of the Orthodox world that can be compared to the tragedy of 1054 schism when the Roman Church broke away with Orthodoxy and the nerve, the thread of this split will go through Ukraine."

The public figures stress that "the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has always been and will be an integral part, the core of the whole Russian Church" and "the unity and integrity of the Russian Orthodox Church in its canonical territory is an axiom not subjected to discussions."


Moscow, May 22, Interfax - The European Union should address the destruction of Orthodox sanctuaries in Kosovo with much more attention, the new Russian minister of Culture Alexander Avdeyev believes.

"I saw destroyed churches, museums, and desecrated sanctuaries in Kosovo, and, of cause, I find it impossible to stay indifferent, whether it concerns the Moslem or the Orthodox religion. Most of the sanctuaries destroyed in Kosovo are Orthodox. UNESCO sounds the alarm, but more often than not receives no adequate reaction from the EU," said the minister, as quoted by the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily on Thursday.

Speaking of Russia, the minister mentioned that it has "an acute sense of the need to treat other cultures with respect," reports Interfax-Religion.

"We can boast with the great Russian culture and the great Muslim culture. This is our main asset and our specific feature. We have the same fate, the same Homeland, and the same country,' said minister Avdeyev.


On May 13, 2008, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia adopted the Prayer for the Prosperity of the Church of Russia, to be read during Divine Liturgy on the Ascension of the Lord; and, as desired, on the feast day of All Russian Saints; the feast days of St Vladimir, St Olga and especially-venerated Russian saints. This prayer replaces the Prayer for the Salvation of Russia:
O Lord Jesus Christ our God, accept from us, Thine unworthy servants, these words of thanksgiving: for Thou hast given unity to the Church of Russia and transformed into joy the greatly painful cry of Thy servants. Hearken now to our supplication: Bring Thine own laborers unto the harvest, that the Church may not lack good pastors to enlighten so great a multitude of those who have not been taught the Faith or have fallen away therefrom. Instill obedience to Thee in those who govern, and justice and mercy in their judgments; compassion in the rich, and long-suffering in the weak: that in our land the kingdom of Christ may thus grow and increase, and that Thou, O God Who art wondrous in Thy saints, may be glorified therein. Unto those who are led astray by heresies and schisms, who have fallen away from Thee or seek Thee not, show Thyself forth as almighty, that not one of them may perish, but that all of us may be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth: that all, in harmonious oneness of mind and constant love, may glorify Thy most honored name, O kind and patient-hearted Lord, unto the ages of ages.

The Holy Apostles customarily greeted the first Christians with these words when addressing them in person or in writing. And with these words I also, an unworthy bearer of the grace of the Apostles, permit myself to greet you today. These are great words—great in their significance and meaning. By them the Apostles showed wherein man's true good lies, and gave voice to the desire that Christians receive it. Man strives for happiness, strives to find it; yet for the most part he seeks it far from where he should. Thus, by these words the apostles clearly directed the Christians to that path which leads unfailingly to the desired good.
Only in peace of soul is there true blessedness for us; only those who possess an untroubled conscience before God and their fellow man can really be called happy. It is never too late to obtain this happiness, this peace: one need only actively strive towards God to the limit of one's abilities, trying to live in love and peace with others and to resolve firmly to begin a new, pious life. Then the desired peace will flow into our soul in a calm, almost imperceptible stream, and with God's help we will quickly sense that we have become happy. Then will no trials seem difficult and unbearable for us—neither sicknesses, nor poverty, nor sufferings, nor any type of problem or disorder, nor slander, nor persecution, nor imprisonment. All such things will be shown to be insignificant and easy to bear when compared to the great good which will fill our souls and which we call peace and a pure conscience.
His Eminence, the ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus lived in peace with God and his neighbor. He believed in God and trusted wholly in Him and His guidance. He humbled himself and bowed to the will of God; that is, he gave himself over to it completely and joyfully. From him there always wafted forth an unbelievable peace and inner tranquility. His peaceful spirit preserved us in unity and led us to reestablish the fullness of brotherly fellowship within the Russian Orthodox Church. For this reason, with reverence, love and a sense of personal unworthiness, I pay homage to the struggle of his ministry and his blessed memory, just as I revere the struggle of the primatial ministry of his divinely-wise predecessors, who "rightly divided" the word of Christ's Truth during the difficult years of the Russian emigration. I trust that the Lord will grant my unworthiness to carry out if only a portion of what my ever-memorable predecessors accomplished in their service. This is what my constant prayer is; it is for this that I ask all of you to pray.
Our leaders, the organizers of Russia Abroad, always taught that we must preserve what we have, so as to serve Russia and the Russian Orthodox people in the homeland and in diaspora, and to include in the process of salvation its spiritual rebirth, which is, as we see, the direct fruit of the sufferings, the confessional ministry and martyric struggle of the millions of new martyrs and confessors of Russia. And laboring as missionaries, we must also share this rich inheritance with the world that surrounds us. The Russian Orthodox Church has always felt a particular calling to the missionary ministry. We must take particular care for this, continuing the holy work of those who served here and enjoyed success in their apostolic labors: St Tikhon the Confessor, Patriarch of All Russia; and St Innocent, the Equal of the Apostles, who later became Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna. May they help us, by their fervent intercession, to share pure and unadulterated Orthodoxy and the glory of the Russian Orthodox Church with all who surround us!
On this day, which for me is "appointed and holy", with all my heart I greet my brother archpastors, the pastors and all here assembled in the home of the Hodigitria of the Russian Diaspora. I am moved to the depths of my soul by the love of our flock, by their words of greeting, comfort and support, their good wishes and prayers. In particular, I greet the representatives of the clergy and flock of the Diocese of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand, which was entrusted to me by the Council of Bishops in 1996. During my service in Australia, my pious flock, which the ever-memorable Metropolitan Vitaly called "the pearl of the Russian Church Abroad," became like my own family. May God grant that, with the help of my staff, I may try to combine my duties as First Hierarch with my previous diocesan duties in the land which lies beneath the Southern Cross. I express my profound gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia, for his primate's blessing and prayerful support; as well as to Archbishop Innocent of Korsun and the members of the Moscow Patriarchate's delegation. I thank my brother archpastors, who have elected me, for their trust and holy prayers.
Today, we listened to the Gospel account of the Lord's healing of the paralyzed man. Paying close attention today to this scriptural passage, I felt that I am paralyzed by many weaknesses and am in need of God's help. For this reason, I place my trust in God Who helps us; and I trust the ministers of His Church to His carry out and do His work in a worthy fashion. I trust in the archpastoral wisdom, counsel and support of my brother concelebrants, and in the prayers of the clergy and the whole flock of our Holy Church.
"Behold now, what is so good or so joyous as for brethren to dwell together in unity?" (Psalms 132:1). Or, to put it differently, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together, that is, in peace and love, says the Psalmist. In the early days of Christianity, pastors and flock always lived the same life: the sorrows and joys of the pastor were at the same time the sorrows and joys of the flock, and the sorrows and joys of the flock were also the sorrows and joys of the pastor. If, fathers, brethren and sisters beloved in the Lord, it is in general difficult for us to imitate fully the holy and pious life of the early Christians, let us try to borrow from them if only this trait, which is so precious to the Church.
May the peace of Christ reign in our mutual relations: between me, your unworthy First Hierarch, and you, my dear fellow archpastors, brethren and sisters in Christ. Let mutual trust and love prevail between us. I will support you in your every need, and you will do the same for me. And thus let us fulfill the commandment of God Who loves us all, and Who said: "Love one another" (John 13:34). Amen.



The Patronal feast of the Alexandrian Church took place with particular splendour on 10th and 11th may 2008, on the Feast of the Saint Apostle and Evangelist Mark, its enlightener, first Bishop and trustee.
On the eve of the feast, 10th May 2008, His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, together with Their Eminences the Elder Metropolitan Paul of Memphis, Elder Petros of Aksum, Kallinikos of Pilousion, George of Zimbabwe, Nicholas of Ermopolis, Dimitrios of Irinopolis, and Bishops Gabriel of Mareotis, Spyridon of Kanopos, Nikodimos of Nitria and Gennadios of Nilopolis, officiated during Great vespers at the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Alexandria, during which he awarded the title of Archon Author to Professor Panayiotis Tzoumerkas, for his significant writings on the general historic journey of the ancient Patriarchate, as well as for his excellent service to the Patriarchal Library of Alexandria.

The next day, 11th May 2008, His Beatitude conducted a Patriarchal Divine Liturgy, at the above-named Cathedral together with all hierarchs mentioned as well as Archbishop Alexios of Orechovo-Zwevski, a hierarch of the Russian Church who was leading a delegation of pilgrims and a large choir from the Novospasky Monastery in Russia which sang the hymns during the Liturgy.

Prior to the end of the Liturgy, His Beatitude awarded Patriarchal Offices to five distinguished Greek erudite professionals, Mr. Defkalion Rediadis, Dr Theodoros Pittaras, Mr. Lazaros Kageorgis, Professor Agamemnon Tselikas and Mr. Konstantinos Xenopoulos. A celebratory reception was held in the Hall of the Throne in the Patriarchal Mansion, where the Patriarch, addressing especially the new Office Bearers, defined them as “worthy continuers of tradition, valuable colleagues, and loving cyreneans, who give time, labour and costs without concern, to support all programmes of the Orthodox Church, including the fight against AIDS, education of the children of Africa, and evangelism to 54 countries on this continent”. He expressed fervent thanks to all the Office Bearers of the Patriarchal Brotherhood “St Mark”, the ancient Order of the Parabalani and the Order of St Constantine.

On their behalf, the Office Bearers of the Patriarchate, through the Chairman of the Brotherhood of Office Bearers, Professor Theodoros Panagopoulos, expressed their unfailing support of the multifaceted work of the Second Throne Church, and gave honour to the Great Archon of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, Mr Spyridon Kamalakis.

Addressing Archbishop Alexios from Russia who had brought Paschal greetings from patriarch Alexios of Moscow and All Russia, His Beatitude mentioned the fraternal relations between the two Churches, and presented the new publication of the ancient Patriarchate, which records all the moments of his conciliatory visit to Russia and the Ukraine from 6th – 16th

At noon, the Chairman and the members of the Brotherhood of Office Bearers of the Throne hosted a lunch in honour of His Beatitude at the Hellenic Naval Club of Alexandria.

The celebratory and Liturgical events for the Patronal Feast of the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, which ended on the evening of the same day with a musical event in the gardens of the Patriarchal palace, were attended by His Excellency the Ambassador for Greece in Egypt Mr. Alexios Ioannis Zeppos, the Member of Parliament and former Minister Mr. George Kalatzis, the Consul General of Greece in Alexandria Mr. George Diakofotakis, the President of SAE Mr. Stephanos Tamvakis, the Chairman and Members of the Hellenic Community of Alexandria, representative of Hellenic Societies, Institutes and Organizations, the greek community as a whole and many visitors and pilgrims, from Greece, Cyprus and other countries.


IOCC Emergency Appeal: Myanmar Cyclone

The New York Times is reporting that the number of deaths from Tropical Cyclone Nargis that struck Myanmar (formerly Burma) three days ago has reached 22,500. The government of Myanmar has said that another 41,000 people are still missing.

Fierce winds, rain and storm surge have devastated much of the Irrawaddy Delta and Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. According to the U.N. World Food Program, as many as one million people might have lost their homes.

IOCC will provide cash support to its ecumenical partners toward emergency relief supplies for the survivors in Myanmar, as well as issuing an Emergency Appeal for the crisis.

Contributions to IOCC’s Myanmar Emergency Appeal can be made online (, by calling IOCC’s donation hotline toll-free at 1-877-803-4622, or by mailing a check or money order payable to “IOCC” (include “Myanmar Cyclone” in memo line) to: IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225.

Media: Contact Ms. Amal Morcos at 410-243-9820 or (cell) 443-823-3489.


IOCC Emergency Appeal: China Earthquake

Chinese state media is reporting that more than 13,000 people were killed in Monday’s earthquake, China’s worst natural disaster in decades. A massive search and rescue operation is underway in Sichuan province, in southwest China, to free people trapped beneath the rubble. According to the BBC, in one nearby town of Manzhu, at least 4,800 people are still trapped and landslides have buried roads to outlying villages.

IOCC will provide cash support to its ecumenical partners who are on the ground and evaluating the damage throughout the affected areas. IOCC’s cash grant will help provide emergency relief supplies for the survivors.

Contributions to IOCC’s China Emergency Appeal can be made online (, by calling IOCC’s donation hotline toll-free at 1-877-803-4622, or by mailing a check or money order payable to “IOCC” (include “China Earthquake” in memo line) to: IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225.

Media: Contact Ms. Amal Morcos at 410-243-9820 or (cell) 443-823-3489.


His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, has been recognized by Time Magazine as one of the world’s most influential people. This is the fifth annual list compiled by the magazine. In an article included with the selection and written by the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is honored for his clear moral and spiritual vision and for his concern for the environment.

Article by Rt Rev Rowan Williams, the Canterbury Archbishop

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople enjoys a resonant historical title but, unlike the Pope in the Roman Catholic context, has little direct executive power in the world of Eastern Orthodoxy. Patriarchs have had to earn their authority on the world stage, and, in fact, not many Patriarchs in recent centuries have done much more than maintain the form of their historic dignities.

Patriarch Bartholomew, however, has turned the relative political weakness of the office into a strength, grasping the fact that it allows him to stake out a clear moral and spiritual vision that is not tangled up in negotiation and balances of power. And this vision is dominated by his concern for the environment.

In a way that is profoundly loyal to the traditions of worship and reflection in the Eastern Orthodox Church, he has insisted that ecological questions are essentially spiritual ones. He has stressed that a world in which God the Creator uses the material stuff of the universe to communicate who he is and what he wants is one that demands reverence from human beings. Probably more than any other religious leader from any faith, Patriarch Bartholomew, 68, has kept open this spiritual dimension of environmentalism.

The title Ecumenical Patriarch historically refers to the Patriarch's pastoral responsibility for "the whole inhabited world." This brave and visionary pastor has given a completely new sense to the ancient honorific; his work puts squarely on our agenda the question of how we express spiritual responsibility for the world we live in.


New Greek Archbishop visits Patriarchate in Constantinople

Constantinople has had an unusual visitor this past weekend - Archbishop Ieronymos of Greece and Athens who was elected head of the Orthodox Church of Greece last February following the death of Archbishop Christodoulos. He came as the guest of Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos.

The Archbishop of Athens and Greece Ieronymos was on a three-day official visit to the Fener Patriarchate, his first visit to the Patriarchate since he was elected archbishop. Speaking at the reception, Archbishop Ieronymos said, "Conditions have ripened now and we have all understood that we should put the differences behind us. I want to assure you that I will do everything in my power together with my brothers, the archbishops, to achieve an absolute coexistence with you. Rest assured, your Holiness, that from today, we will plow deeply into the ecclesiastical field to cultivate the church, unity, coexistence and cooperation in our common route." Bartholomeos spoke highly about the personality and morality of the new archbishop. He also underlined the close ties that have existed between the Church of Greece and the Patriarchate for over 12 centuries and stressed that the church does not accept divisions.

On Sunday both participated in the Holy Liturgy at the Church of the Balikli Monastery. Balikli was originally named Zoodochos Pege, the life-giving spring, an epithet of the Holy Virgin. One legend has it that the Byzantine Emperor Justinian had a vision of it with a chapel and many people around it. Balikli Church was once one of many built in the area by Byzantine emperors where on Ascension Day the emperor and members of his court used to come to worship. The present church was built in 1833. Yesterday was the feast day of Zoodochos Pege so it was appropriate to attend worship service there.

Photo: Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos (right) with Archbishop Ieronymos at the Patriarchate in Constantnople (Fener, Istanbul). (Photo: Nikolaos Manginas)

For the www.spc.yu transformed story of GÜL DEMİR- Turkish Daily News


Alexy II approves new ROCOR First Hierarch

Moscow, May 14, Interfax - Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate approved Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand as first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), a statement posted on the Moscow Patriarchate's website says. Archbishop Hilarion earlier asked Alexy II to bless him as ROCOR's first hierarch. Archbishop Hilarion was elected metropolitan of East America and New York at a meeting of the ROCOR Archbishops Synod in Jordanville, New York, on Monday.


Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Athens

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Tuesday called on Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, immediately after arriving in Athens. There followed a dinner hosted by Archbishop Ieronymos for Patriarch Bartholomew and the delegation of high-ranking clerics accompanying him.

The Patriarch is due to visit the city of Larisa in central Greece to attend celebrations for St Achilleios on Wednesday, while his visit to Greece is expected to end Saturday.

In a speech during the dinner, Bartholomew referred to the Greek Archbishop’s visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar, Istanbul just days before and praised him highly, describing him as a “good shepherd, an honest servant of the Church, a brilliant theologian, a distinguished scientist, a man of open horizons, contemporary concerns and great visions.”

Stressing that they had known each other for decades, the Ecumenical Patriarch also expressed conviction that relations between the Church of Greece and all the other Orthodox Churches would be greatly enhanced under Archbishop Ieronymos.

Replying, Archbishop Ieronymos stressed the need to make use of the bonds and ties between the Churches in order to “live in the unity of faith and communion with the Holy Spirit” and stressed the need to join in “redefining” the role of the Church to make it relevant to the needs and demands of the present day.

During Archbishop Ieronymos’ visit to Istanbul, the two Church leaders appeared to achieve much higher levels of agreement on issues that had seriously strained relations between the two Churches in the past, such as a spat in 2004 under the late Archbishop Christodoulos concerning a bid by Fanar to establish greater control over the administration of the so-called ‘New Lands’ dioceses in northern Greece.

Statue of Patriarch Constantine VI unveiled

Visiting Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew accompanied by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece unveiled Tuesday the statue of Patriarch Constantine VI at the Athens suburb of Nea Philadelphia.

During the unveiling ceremony, the Ecumenical Patriarch hailed the work of Patriarch Constantine VI who was elected in 1924, “two years after the Asia Minor disaster, that is, in times difficult for Hellenism”.

A dinner was hosted in honor of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Nea Philadelphia.


H H Karekin's Visit to Vatican - Report & Snaps

His Holiness Karekin II Visits His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services May 13, 2008 6:14 AM

May 12, San Lazzaro – His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, today concludes his one week fraternal visit to the Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic Church, His Holiness Benedict XVI.

Accompanying His Holiness throughout the duration of the visit were His Eminence Archbishop Nourhan Manoogian, Grand Sacristan of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem; His Grace Bishop Aram Ateshian, Grand Sacristan of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople; and approximately 20 additional archbishops and bishops of the Armenian Church – primates of Armenian Dioceses in North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

On Tuesday, May 6, the Pontiff of All Armenians and his delegation arrived at Ciampino Airport in Rome. Also joining His Holiness were more than 75 devoted laymen of the Armenian Church from throughout the world who were invited by the Catholicos to participate in this historic visit to the Holy See and Italy. This was His Holiness’ third visit to the Vatican since his election as Catholicos of All Armenians in 1999.

The visit to Italy was composed of three parts: a four-day visit to the Vatican, a one-day visit to the Armenian community of Milan and a two-day visit to the Mekhitarian Congregation on the Island of San Lazzaro in Venice.

On Wednesday morning, His Holiness Karekin II and the Armenian bishops visited the tomb of Pope John Paul II of blessed memory, in the crypt below Saint Peter’s Basilica, and offered a solemn prayer for the repose of his soul. The Catholicos and the Armenian delegation also visited the newly named St. Gregory the Illuminator plaza inside St. Peter’s courtyard and viewed the statue of the patron saint of the Armenian Church, placed there during the pontificate of John Paul II. Immediately afterwards, the Armenian delegation of clergy and laity participated in the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, jointly held by Pope Benedict XVI and Catholicos Karekin II. The two church heads exchanged messages of greeting, a fraternal embrace and kiss of peace on the platform in front of the mother cathedral of the Roman Catholic Church, before a crowd of more than 35,000 faithful.

In his message to the Pope and the faithful, the Catholicos stated in part, "Dear Brother in Christ, today, on the threshold of the Feast of Pentecost, when we unite our prayers to those of Your Holiness and of your faithful sons and daughters, we praise and glorify the Holy Spirit, Who is the fountainhead of unity and transforms our steps on the paths of brotherhood with grace – steps which are for the glory of God and are born from the love of Christ, for the sake of establishing peace in the world and a blessed life for mankind. In spite of different historical experiences and paths we have traversed; in spite of dogmatic and cultural divergences, we are all children of the one God, and we are all brothers and sisters in His Holy love. For in our diversity, it is our unity of love that is the genuine testimony that we are children of God.

"Intolerance and confrontation must not be allowed within the brotherhood and love of Christ. Mankind has suffered much as a result. Today as well, the creation of God – the world that surrounds us – is imperiled through interfaith disagreements, through wars and terrorism, through the effects of poverty and neglect. Our brothers and sisters are in distress in the Middle East and many other regions of the world; where women and children, the elderly and disabled are endangered by the blows of disagreement and division, unjust competition and enmity. This is not the Will of God. This is not our calling. We aspire to live a life in peace, of creation and creativity, to use the graces given to us by the Holy Spirit, to serve the establishment of unity and solidarity with the love of Jesus Christ and the message of the Gospel, since ‘for those that love God, all things work together unto good.’ (Romans 8:28)

"We Armenians are a people who have survived genocide, and we know well the value of love, brotherhood, friendship, peace and a secure life. Today, many countries of the world recognize and condemn the Genocide committed against the Armenian people by Ottoman Turkey, as did the Holy See, by His Holiness Pope John Paul II of blessed memory during our fraternal visit to Rome in 2000. Offering prayers to his luminous memory, we as Pontiff of the Armenians, appeal to all nations and lands to universally condemn all genocides that have occurred throughout history and those that continue through the present day, so that those who yield power and authority realize their responsibilities and results of those crimes which have been and continue to be committed against the creation of God, and that the denial of these crimes is an injustice that equals the commission of the same."

That same afternoon, His Holiness Karekin II was presented with an Honoris Causa doctorate degree from the Pontifical Salesian University recognizing his fruitful work in Christian Education and Youth Instruction. Attending the ceremony representing His Holiness the Pope were His Eminence Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Vatican State Secretary and His Eminence Walter Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

On Thursday, May 8, His Holiness Karekin II and his delegation visited the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, and conveyed his blessings and warm greetings to the participants of a symposium dedicated to the study of the Armenian Divine Liturgy. The symposium was organized by Fr. Robert Taft and included presentations by Armenian and Catholic learned scholars from throughout Europe and North America. His Eminence Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, Prefect for the Vatican’s Council for Oriental Churches, also accompanied His Holiness to the symposium.

Friday morning, May 9, the delegation of 100 Armenian bishops and faithful went to the Apostolic Palace of the Holy See, for a private audience under the joint presidency of His Holiness Karekin II and His Holiness Benedict XVI. The two pontiffs again exchanged warm messages of greeting and brotherly love, embraced with a solemn kiss of peace and spoke of the strong ties and increasing collaboration between the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

His Holiness Karekin II, addressing the head of the Catholic Church and the Armenian faithful gathered for the audience, stated in part, "We offer gratitude to the Almighty in heaven, as successor to Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew, and the saint co-equal to the apostles, Gregory the Illuminator, that we are enjoying the light of this good day when we exchange the divinely ordained kiss of peace with Your Holiness, worthy successor to the See of Saint Peter, seven years after experiencing the joy of receiving your predecessor of blessed memory under the gaze of biblical Mount Ararat. It is even more joyous that this kiss of peace is exchanged on this day, the 9th of May, when we are celebrating Victory and Peace Day in our homeland – the day which commemorates the conclusion of World War II – the cause of great human tragedy and misery; as well as the triumph of our people in the national liberation struggle for Mountainous Karabagh.

"…Dear Brother in Christ, through the blessings of our Lord’s All-Provident Right Hand, we stand alongside one another today, to strengthen and testify to the fraternal love between our two Churches. Faithful to the holy Church fathers and their legacy, despite our differences and unique characteristics, we shall place greater importance on that which unites us. It is especially pleasing for us to confirm that the spirit of love and collaboration between the Armenian and Catholic Churches finds its tangible expressions in our time, confirming the words of the psalmist: "Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!" Psalms 133:1.

"The love received from our Lord Jesus Christ bears much good fruit in the field of ecumenism today. We welcome the ongoing dialogue between the Catholic Church and the family of Ancient Oriental Orthodox Churches. In our present, fast-paced world where developments and changes rapidly occur, many environmental, social, political, economic, and moral issues urgently need attention, especially in the process of globalization, when true respect for life and man, and love for God, is diminishing. The greater consolidation of diligent efforts and partnership are an imperative for Christian Churches, because only through inclusive cooperation shall we be able to better serve the establishment of peace in the world and to better defend human rights, and the rights of nations, families, and those classes of society which are at-risk. The transfiguration of life through the values of the Gospel, shall be our path to the creation of a prosperous and virtuous world."

A short prayer service was held under the presidency of both church heads, following which, the faithful approached the Catholicos and the Pope to kiss their right hands and receive their blessings. At the conclusion of the audience, Catholicos Karekin II and Pope Benedict XVI met privately during lunch to discuss issues of importance to both Churches.

In the afternoon, His Holiness Karekin II, met with His Grace Archbishop Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the Vatican Guest House for a private meeting. The head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion was coincidentally also in the Holy See this week, and the two fondly recalled the Archbishop’s fraternal visit to Holy Etchmiadzin in September 2007, as well as discussed the upcoming Lambeth Conference for the Anglican Communion and the current state of relations with sister Churches.

The final event at the Vatican was an Ecumenical Prayer Service, offered at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, where the grave of St. Paul the Apostle is located. His Holiness Karekin II presided during the service, which included the participation of Roman Catholic and Armenian Church bishops and clergy.

In addition to the official events throughout the course of the week, His Holiness and the church hierarchs also visited a number of Armenian and Catholic churches and shrines. His Holiness and the high-ranking clergymen departed Rome for Milan on Saturday morning.

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