International Orthodox Christian News

Hindus laud Orthodox Christians for strong stand on Environment

Hindus have praised Orthodox Christian Church, second largest Christian denomination of the world, for taking a strong stand on environment. Hindu leader Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, applauded powerful statement of His All Holiness Archbishop Bartholomew, Patriarch of Orthodox Christian Church, which described climate change “a moral and spiritual problem”. Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, commended Bartholomew’s message for the upcoming Day of the Protection of the Environment (September one) posted on website of the Church, which said, “…the irrational use of natural resources and the unchecked consumption of energy contribute to the reality of climate change, with consequences on the life and survival of humanity created in the image of God and is therefore tantamount to sin.”

Zed also lauded Bartholomew’s dedication of September one “as a day of supplication for the preservation of God’s beautiful creation”; for launching “Religion, Science and the Environment (RSE) Movement”; for organizing RSE symposia and reaching out across different faiths and denominations in the symposia, revealing the wisdom of diverse theological traditions; for striving to establish a stable and innovative alliance between religion and science; and for saying, “Especially disturbing is the fact that the poorest and most vulnerable members of the human race are being affected by environmental problems which they did not create”.

Faiths coming out in support of the environment were a remarkable signal; Zed said and urged all world religious leaders, religions and denominations to openly bless the environmental causes. Ancient Hindu scriptures, especially Atharva-Veda, were highly respectful of Mother Nature, he added. We may believe indifferent religions, yet we share the same home—our Earth. We must learn to happily progress or miserably perish together. For man can live individually but can only survive collectively, Zed said quoting scriptures.

His All Holiness, Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch is the 270th successor to the Apostle Andrew and spiritual leader of about 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion followers. Moksha (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.


Joint Dialogue Commission Meets to Continue Discussion on Unity

The Joint Dialogue Commission of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America and the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas met at St. George Cathedral in Southfield, Michigan on Tuesday, August 12, 2008. With the blessing of the Hierarchs, and as directed by their respective Congresses, the Commission met to continue its work on the proposal to establish a Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate in North America. Three major topics were discussed: (1) the deliberation and decisions of the respective Congresses; (2) reactions to certain public statements made following the Congresses; and (3) the refinement of the Proposal text.
Following the direction of the Congresses, the Commission made further refinements to the text of the Proposal. This, along with the findings of various working committees appointed by our Hierarchs, will form the basis for expanding discussion on the practical aspects of unity.
The Commission members noted that both Congresses took an historic step by approving the proposal as a basis for continued dialogue. The Commission regrets the hasty pronouncements of various officials and the media immediately after our Congresses. These misrepresented our Congresses' decisions as being final decisions on unity. Both sides recognize that a difficult road remains ahead in addressing the concerns, past and present, regarding such a unity. The Commission members insist that the process of discussion and possible union is in the competence of our two eparchies alone. Recent speculation and public commentary by individuals outside of our eparchies have only complicated the delicate nature of this process and threatened its ultimate success. The Commission members urge that patience and discretion be exercised as this process takes its course.
Lastly, the Commission members would like to emphasize that the healing of the decades-long division within the Romanian Orthodox community in North America should be seen as part of the greater task of Orthodox unity. In our first meeting in 1993 the Commission said: "We are cognizant of the fact that the reconciliation and normalization of relations between our respective dioceses is part of the larger process of bringing the various Orthodox jurisdictions together in the great work of an administratively united Orthodox Church on the American continent." The Commission would ask that our continuing efforts be understood within this larger context.
The Commission will meet again after discussing its work with the respective Hierarchs.
Fr. Nicholas Apostola Fr. Laurence LazarFr. Ioan Ioniţă Fr. Romey RoscoFr. Ion Gherman Fr. Remus GramaFr. George Chişcă Fr. Cătălin MitescuFr. George Săndulescu Fr. Ian Pac-Urar
Southfield, Michigan12 August 2008

Working on a scaffold that rises toward the chapel's ceiling, his brush strokes play gently in the singular light. Above him, below him - in stunning colors and searing hues - his frescos create a union between the undying past and visions of infinity. Miloje Milinkovic is painting heaven on Earth.
Milinkovic is one of the top Serbo-Byzantanic iconographers working today. His skills as a painter have taken him from monasteries in the Ukraine and Greece, to the largest Serbian churches in Chicago, Detroit and Washington D.C. Yet in 1995, in the midst of working on his grand national projects, he also began a relatively small but incredibly important mission - to turn the very first Serbian Orthodox Church in all of North America into a breathtaking work of art. After 12 years of visiting Jackson, his labors within the dazzling sanctuary of St. Sava are nearly complete.
Milinkovic first began painting when he was in theology school in Belgrade, Serbia. Becoming an iconographer meant not only developing his abilities with a brush on an ever-reaching level, but deeply immersing himself in Biblical study and the history of art. By 1986, his achievements in Europe made him the ideal candidate to paint many of America's thriving Serbian Orthodox churches. His strong ties to the Serbian community in Fair Oaks eventually led to his introduction to the priests at St. Sava.
"When I was asked to paint St. Sava, it was a huge honor," Milinkovic said. "Being the first Serbian church in America gives it a special history. I felt a deep obligation to do my very best. In the years since I've been working here, the congregation has treated me like a family member. Though I travel to different places, I now consider myself a member of this church."
Agreeing to paint St. Sava presented two major challenges for Milinkovic. The first was finding time to work on it because his presence was also being requested by other bishops. The second was coming up with a traditional fresco program that would work with the unique inner-dimensions of St. Sava. Throughout his career, Milinkovic has had long arches and looming domes to paint on - elaborate physical canvases big enough to tell many of the Bible's stories. Constructed in 1894, St. Sava was a church of the frontier. It has no dome or arches. Its modest, rectangular design is a testament to the lives of pious immigrants.
"Its walls are very unusual for a Serbian Orthodox church," Milinkovic explained. "There's certainly beauty in its simplicity - but it's also hard for an iconographer. The theological canon guides us on what stories the frescos should represent: we show the entire life of Jesus Christ through different images, from his birth to the Pentecost. Yet the icons also hearken back to saints and figures from the Old Testament as well - all working together in a special, inter-related design."
Space at St. Sava is limited, so a decision had to be made on which icons and images to use. "Then we also had to look at the story in its entirety, and I personally had to think about the beauty and composition of the paintings from different angles," he said. "The goal is always to breathe life into the walls."
Milinkovic began his work in St. Sava with the Ascension of Christ above the church's altar. Next, he focused on making the Pantocrator, which is the dominant image across the chapel's ceiling. Pantocrator is a Greek word that means "Ruler of All." In Greek, Russian and Serbian Orthodox churches, the Pantocrator is the central image which all other narratives revolve around. Typically, Pantocrators encompass the dome of a church or monastery. Though St. Sava has a flat ceiling, Milinkovic's Pantocrator inspires a staggering sense of awe through its massive size and lush, jewel-like colors.
While the artwork in St. Sava offers the same timeless story as all Orthodox churches, Milinkovic has celebrated its unique stature in Serbian history with frescos that are wholly original to it. His favorite among these is an image of Sebastian Dabovich, the missionary-priest who founded St. Sava 114 years ago, getting blessed by St. Simeon. Milinkovic has also rendered a mural of the ceremony that was held in Jackson last year when Dabovich's earthly remains were given to St. Sava and re-buried in a crypt under the church. "He lived an incredible life," Milinkovic said of the man who's now called the Serbian Apostle to the Americas. "He and all of the hard-working miners who built this community are an inspiration."
For the parishioners at St. Sava, the brilliant job Milinkovic has done in converting their church into one of the greatest works of art in the entire Mother Lode is an inspiration as well. "He's done unbelievably wonderful art here," said Triva Pavlov, a deacon at St. Sava. "It helps teach the story. It's natural sometimes for peoples' eyes to wander during a service. These impressive images bring them back to God and remind them why they're here."
Milinkovic agrees. "The whole purpose of the frescos is to make people feel at home in the presence of God," he observed. "People should walk in, see these images, and want to pray. If that doesn't happen, then what's the point? If you don't inspire people that way, you may be a really great artist but not a great iconographer. I love my work because it's a privilege to try to make people feel that. Like the priests, my job is to try to tell a magnificent story. The difference is I do my talking with my brushes."

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has introduced legislation to urge the Government of Turkey to respect the rights and freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Christian Church, in accordance with criteria necessary to join the European Union. The Ecumenical Patriarch is the leading figure in the Orthodox Church and has suffered from discriminatory treatment from the Turkish government.
"For a government to treat a revered religious institution and leader in such a discriminatory manner is an affront to human and religious rights and shows disrespect to the hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians," said Senator Menendez. "There must be fairness and freedom when it comes to the Turkish government's treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. As Turkey appeals to the European Union for membership, I would expect its treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to be a prime topic that must be addressed."
Senator Menendez's resolution, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MA), urges the Government of Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Christian Church. It calls on the Turkish government to immediately:
• recognize the right to the title of Ecumenical Patriarch;• grant the Ecumenical Patriarch appropriate international recognition and ecclesiastic succession;• grant the Ecumenical Patriarch the right to train clergy of all nationalities, not just Turkish nationals; and• respect property rights and human rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Government of Turkey has sought membership in the European Union and maintains strong bilateral relations with the United States Government. The accession of Turkey to the European Union will depend on its adherence to the Copenhagen criteria that require candidate countries to have stable governmental institutions that guarantee human rights and that respect and protect minorities, including religious minorities such as Orthodox Christians.


Metropolitan Herman scheduled for back surgery

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, is scheduled for lumbar spine surgery on September 9, 2008, at Shady Side Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA.
After his surgery, Metropolitan Herman will have a short hospital stay and will continue his recovery at home. The clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America are asked to pray that His Beatitude’s surgery is successful and for a quick recovery.

Leading figure of the Orthodox Church said there are about 1,000 churches in Egypt, which is not enough for the 12 million Copts currently living in the country.”The Church trusts President Mubarak’s wisdom,” said Shubra el-Kheima Bishop Anba Morkos, who described that wisdom as the best guarantee for Copts.
He told al-Masry al-Youm: “We call on the President to declare Nayrouz Day on September 11 of every year as an official holiday, as it marks the Pharaonic New Year’s Day and also the Martyrs’ Day. It is the beginning of the agricultural year for peasants and it is also a symbol of good.”"The Christians’ situation in Egypt is constantly improving,” said the head of the Coptic Church Media Committee. “Yes, no Copts have been appointed as National Democratic Party (NDP) Secretary General, but the Party has recently started including Coptic candidates in their lists for municipal elections. We do not call for positive discrimination, but for equal opportunities.”
He went on to say that the Church is constantly seeking to develop its visual media given the absence of Christian programs on state-owned TV channels except the Masses on Christmas and Easter. “We may launch a third TV satellite channel owned by the Church,” he added. Morkos said he visited Pope Shenouda in the US just to be reassured of his condition and to review with him some issues concerning the Church.

On Saturday, August 23, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church presided over the festivities on the occasion of glorification among saints of the Holy Hierarch Gurias (Karpov). That day all the clergy of the Diocese of Crimea gathered in Simferopol, as well as thousands of believers who came from various places of Ukraine and near abroad.

That day the Primate celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Symferopol.

Concelebrating with His Beatitude were: Metropolitan Iriney of Dnipropetrovsk amd Pavlohrad, Metropolitan Lazarus of Simferopol and Crimea, Archbishop Ionafan of Tulchin and Bratslav, Archbishop Sophrony of Kaniv and Cherkasy, Archbishop Ephraim of Nikolpol and Kryvyi Rih, Archbishop Pavel of Vyshgorod, Archbishop Luka of Glukhiv and Konotop, Bishop of Khotyn Melety, Bishop Ioasaph of Berislav and Nova Kahovka, Secretary to the Primate of the UOC Bishop Alexander of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytskyi.

In the course of the liturgy the ceremonial glorification among the saints of the Holy Hierarch Gurias (Karpov) was performed. Following the last Litia for the ascetic served by the Primate Archbishop Ephraim of Kryvyi Rih and Nikopol and Metropolitan Lazarus of Simferopol and Crimea read out the resolution of the Holy Synod of the UOC of April 18, 2008 (Journal of Proceedings No.30) on glorification among the ranks of the locally venerated saints of the Diocese of Simferopol Archbishop Gurias of Tavryisk, and read out the life of the Holy Hierarch.

Thereafter the clergy brought the icon of the saint from the altar and placed it in the middle of the temple. His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr was the first to venerate the icon of the God-pleaser, and then the same did the concelebrating hierarchs, priests and the faithful.


The Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting [EOCS], a SCOBA agency, announces the selection of the winners of the sixteenth annual Scout Scholarships. The 2008 winners are Anastasia C. Markiw, of Pittsburgh, PA and the runner-up Samuel C. Ely of Merrillville, IN. who received $1,000 and $500 respectively.

The eligibility requirements for these awards are: be a registered active member of a Boy or Girl Scout unit, have earned the Eagle Scout Award for boys or the Gold Award for girls, be an active member of an Eastern Orthodox Church, have earned the Alpha Omega Religious Scout Award, and a senior in high school.

They are evaluated on their participation in their church, school, community and Scouting unit. The emphasis is on their scholastic achievement and not on financial need. This was a banner year for applicants from throughout the United States. The committee was impressed with the high caliber and number of applicants.

For further information and 2009 applications, write: EOCS Scholarship Chairman, 862 Guy Lombardo Avenue, Freeport, New York, 11520.





The Catholicosate of Cilicia ceremoniously observed the Feast of Saint Mary on August 16 during the Holy Mass officiated by His Holiness Aram I on a special altar built for this purpose outside the St. Asdvadzadzine Monastery in Bikfaya.

Armenian believers take unique spiritual relish in this traditional feast held annually in the Monastery in Bikfaya, which they visit in large numbers on this occasion.

The Primate of the Diocese of Lebanon, Bishop Kegham Khatcherian performed the Holy Mass. The believers sung the hymns led by the Seminary choir.

According to the traditions of the Armenian Church, His Holiness Aram I performed the blessing of grapes, which symbolizes the presentation to God of the earth’s harvest and the prayers of its people. After the service, His Holiness delivered his sermon to the believers, among which the number of youth was noticeable. Also attending the service were several young Armenians who were participating in the Catholicosate’s youth conference from various corners around the world.

The message was delivered by His Holiness Aram I. The main theme of the message was the crucial importance of spiritual and moral values. In his introductory remarks His Holiness pointed out the meaning and importance of moral and spiritual values that must govern our individual and community life. He said: “These values give substance and identity to our life. These values ensure the quality of our life. They come to us from the Bible and our church fathers. As Christians, we must respond positively to these values with the profound sense of faithfulness and responsibility”.

After these general remarks, with a more specific approach, His Holiness first focused his attention on family by stressing the unique role of family in Christian life. “Family is the backbone of a society and the heart of Christian community. It is in the family that a child is grown up and formed with Christian values and teachings. In a world in which the family is exposed to the kind of trends which this integrate the family life and jeopardize its Christian values, we must pay a particular attention to family life, safe guarding its integrity and morality”.

The second point of emphasis of His Holiness was the actual state of Christian education on Armenian schools. Catholicos Aram I “reminded the crucial importance of Christian education. For us, Christians, there is only one education: Christian education. Our approaches, methodologies and perspectives may be change in the course of time and in different contexts, but the essence of Christian education based on Biblical teaching and values must remain the same. Our schools must integrate Christian education, beyond being a learning process as a formation process, in there curriculum and activities”. His Holiness also reminded the faithful that a few weeks ago a conference was held with his initiative specifically on reorganizing Christian education in the Armenian schools.

His Holiness gave a special attention in his message to the youth. He said that a pan-Diaspora Armenian Youth conference is taking place at the Catholicosate. He expressed his joy about the active and serious participation of young people from different parts of the world. His Holiness said “This is the time that we start listening what the youth are saying. We must engage in dialogue with them. A meaningful interaction with the youth is crucial for the progress and wellbeing of our church and communities. Youth should not remain on the periphery of our life. They must become active participants in all aspects of our church and community life. This is the message that I gave to youth”.

The Pontiff raised his prayers to St. Mary for her mediation with her God-given Son to grant peace, love, unity, harmony and progress to the Armenian nation.

Until late in the evening, believers stayed in the Monastery, renewing and strengthening their faith on this occasion. They returned home with the modest spirits of pilgrims and the kind feeling of benevolence. A number of pilgrims had attended the Vespers Service the night before and spent the night in the Monastery in preparation for the next day.

Holy Mass was also held in the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral on Sunday marking the Feast of St. Mary. Archbishop Gomidas Ohanian officiated the Mass and performed the blessing of the grapes.

The following day, Monday August 18, was Remembrance Day for the dead. Holy Mass was also held on this occasion in the Asdvadzadzine Chapel in Bikfayya, where the nation’s dead were remembered alongside the benefactors of the Chapel Mr. and Mrs. Yervant and Alice Demirdjian. Prayers were recited and incense was burnt in their memory.

At noon, the Cilician Brotherhood members, the members of the women’s committee of Antelias and Seminary student joined His Holiness in the Seminary’s lunch hall over the now traditional table of love.

The youth conference organized by the Catholicosate of Cilicia’s Youth Department continued the third day of its activities in Bikfaya on August 16 through a series of lectures and group discussions that provided young delegates to exchange their viewpoints on different issues of concern. The conference concluded the same day under the chairmanship of His Holiness Aram I.
After the end of the Morning service, the participants listened to the biblical interpretations of Rev. Fr. Masis Tchobouyian. The delegates then moved to the “Prapion Doumanian” Hall of the Seminary, where they listened to the President of Haigazian University, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian deliver a very contemporary talk entitled “what are the challenges of the 21st century?”
Pointing to the main challenges facing the Armenian youth in the present world, Dr. Haidostian underlined the difficulty of making choices from the several paths that the current ever-changing world offers the youth. He emphasized that today’s youth first finds it difficult to recognize harmful phenomena due to their multi-faceted nature. This in turn proves an obstacle to passing on to the second stage- choosing the best option amongst the available alternatives. This phenomenon is a symbol of development and progress but can also be considered dangerous, he said.
Dr. Haidostian affirmed that presenting a brief talk about the 21st century is next to impossible, because any such talk can become untimely in this fast-paced world. He talked about the frenzy of information and knowledge traveling in the world, assuring that they can exert an influence on the human mind even indirectly, even when people want to refuse them. Dr. Haidostian noted a fallout in values given the easy attainability of everything desired in social and material life. He also talked about the shake-up of moral principles due to the scientific explanations provided to certain phenomena.
In an attempt to predict future developments, Dr. Haidostian talked about those probable scientific developments, which will create deep conflicts in the future particularly in the Church.
After presenting these issues briefly and with concise examples, the speaker outlined four possible and yet dangerous approaches that can be adopted by the youth: a) avoiding the difficulties and giving in to self-destruction through drugs; b) Remain indifferent and criticize in particular those institutions and people involved in moral education, such as the church and the spiritual class; c) Live in confusion and deception without being able to tell right from wrong; d) Develop a negative identity, rejecting others and their advice, become involved in emotional religion and enjoy those parts of religion that are emotional.
His Holiness Aram I chaired over the final and concluding session of the conference, which became a podium for an honest discussion. The young delegates freely addressed His Holiness with their questions and the latter demonstrated that he truly is the Pontiff of the youth showing utmost patience and care and giving Pontifical advice to the young Armenians born and formed in different countries and different circumstances.
“Our church is the reservoir of spiritual and moral values,” said His Holiness talking about the national character of our Church. “We cannot separate the spiritual from the national,” referring to those periods in Armenian history when after the fall of kingdoms the Church had taken up the task of taking care of cultural, educational and even political issues. He added: “Today, however, our Church and particularly the Catholicosate of Cilicia is trying to reemphasize our church’s religious service.” His Holiness pointed to the activities of the Christian Education and Youth Departments of the Catholicosate, which are primarily involved in educating the new generation.

Finally, His Holiness called on the youth to continue their path, to increase their ranks through the use of Internet and modern technology and to gather around our church. He emphasized that it would not be possible to renew our faith or the church if we stayed away from the church. He underlined the importance of the Armenian youth’s support for the efforts to transform our church into a source for the renewal of faith.
After the Pontiff’s detailed explanations, the proposals presented during the 12 sessions of the conference were read out and adopted by the delegates.
On Saturday evening the young delegates participated in the Feats of Saint Mary held in the Saint Asdvadzadzine Monastery in Bikfaya. In the next few days the participants will also have the opportunity to tour the touristic and historic sites of Lebanon.


Moscow, August 22, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church believes Russian children have a right to study their religious culture and the only state school can provide them with such a possibility. "Over 30, 000 buildings belonged to church schools before the October revolution in Russia. However, nowadays no one in Moscow and other cities will give these buildings back. No "great power" of the Church that, according to some people, must make officials kneel down, doesn't help here. We have no such power," deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said on air of the Finam FM radio station.The priest reminded that private schools in Russia are schools for rich or very rich people. The Church tries to set up non-governmental schools in various regions of the country: there are about 20 such schools in Moscow and one-two of them work in regional centers."However, 95 per cent of Russians consider state schools the only place for educating children in compliance with their outlook", the priest said.He pointed out to the positive example of state Jewish schools in Russia, where children have a chance to study the basics of Judaism.

Moscow, August 20, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church urges peoples of Russia and Georgia to remain friends and warns against kindling hatred to each other. "Russian and Georgian people have always been together. We know that Russians have saved Georgians from enslavement and extermination more than once. We know, how we helped each other in our shared trials whether it was the Great Patriotic War or hardships of the Soviet period when faith and Church were persecuted," deputy chair of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said on air of the Soyuz Orthodox TV channel."We know how rich are our Orthodox Christian cultures, how many Russian-Georgian families live in Russia and Georgia, how many Georgians live in our country and make their worthy contribution in its economics, culture, science, and other spheres of life. Today it's very important not to waste the potential of our friendship and our mutual help," the priest stressed. According to him, "only a madman can declare all Georgians are enemies and kindle anti-Georgian moods in the country.""Politicians come and go, conflicts are always crowned with peace, but nations keep on living and we have to show wisdom, good will, patience and love so that our Orthodox peoples could always feel their connection to one God's affair, to one Church of Christ and always prefer peace to hostility and love to hatred," Fr. Vsevolod believes.

Moscow, August 20, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church reminds Georgia that Russia once saved it from slavery and urges it to reconciliation."It seems the right time to remind Georgian government and its people what Russia has done for this country. It was time when Georgia asked Russia to take it in to escape Turkish enslavement. And only thanks to support and protection of our empire and blood shed by Russian soldiers, they were able to preserve their state system and remain a nation," head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for Relations with the Armed Forces Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov says in the article published by the Argumenty i Fakty weekly on Wednesday.However, he says, "unfortunately, for the time present Georgia is intoxicated by Saakashvili's propagandistic speeches."Speaking about Georgian military aggression in South Ossetia, the priest said, "the nation, which had joint the Russian Empire long ago, was subjected to genocide and this fact forced our country, Russians, Orthodox to extend help to Ossetia.""Today we suffer losses: human, material, and even moral ones. Our help is only sacrificial service to our brother. I lament that the other historically and spiritually close nation has left brotherly feelings," the article notes.According to Fr. Dmitry, today "the priority task for fraternal peoples of Ossetia, Georgia and Russia is to come over this nightmare, to cast aside alien harmful influence and reconcile with each other." He points out that Church the plays the key role in it.

Tbilisi, August 19, Interfax - Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia believes the Most High would award Georgians after all their trials. "Perhaps, Georgia has never faced such a trial, but it means that the Almighty will grant Georgia His mercy after it," Ilia II said in his sermon in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava and MPs attended the patriarchal liturgy, the Georgia Online website has reported on Tuesday.The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia urged his flock not to "surrender to despair." "We ask the Lord to soothe our hearts and unite our country. It will surely happen, but it is a great trial for us, for Georgia and we have to go through it," Ilia II said.

On August 12th, Archpriest Nikolai Sokolov and Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev for the first time celebrated an Orthodox Liturgy at the Religious Center of the Olympic Village. These are the clerics who are responsible for the spiritual wellbeing of the sportsmen belonging to the Russian selection at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The Divine Service was attended by the leading members of the Russian team. D. I. Petrovsky, a staff member of the Department of Foreign Church Communication of the Moscow Patriarchate, who was also present in Beijing, gave a statement to ITAR-TASS Agency saying that special prayers were said for the Russian athletes and the other members of the Russian selection.

He also added that Orthodox prayer services were held on daily basis at Olympic Village.


Muslim scholar's novel angers Coptic Church

Cairo: Tensions between Egypt's Muslims and Coptic Christians are not uncommon. The latest spark is ignited by a book, which Coptic critics accuse of trying to insult the Church and calling into question the tenets of Christianity.Since published last month, Azazel, a novel by professor of Islamic philosophy Yousuf Zidan has been panned by Coptic clerics as unfair and offensive to Christianity.

Zaidan's book seeks to persuade readers that the Azazel story is true and was found in ancient scrolls written in Syrianic and Aramiyan languages," Bishop Abdul Massih Bassiut, a theology scholar, told Gulf News.Azazel refers to the chief of goat-demons to whom most primitive Semitic tribes offered sacrifices. The controversial novel is set in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria in the fourth century when the city experienced a turbulent era of shifting from polytheism to Christianity.

"The author tries to Islamise Christian beliefs and takes the side of heretics," added Bishop Bassiut.He has disclosed that two Church lawyers are examining the book at the request of Pope Shenouda III, the top Coptic cleric, before deciding on the next move."We will not demand the book be banned or take the author to court. But there will be a rebuttal of the fallacies mentioned in the book," added Bassiut.

The furore over Azazel has coincided with Muslim-Coptic tensions triggered by a dispute between monks and Muslim nomads over a piece of land in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya, some 338km south of Cairo. One Muslim was killed and several others were injured in the dispute.Christians, who are believed to make up 10 per cent of this predominantly Muslim country of 80 million, claim persecution. The Government of President Hosni Mubarak has repeatedly denied that Christians are discriminated against.

"Any Christian cleric reading Azazel as a chronicle of the history of the Coptic Church or a treatise on theology, would undoubtedly feel angry and agonised," said literary critic Helmi Namnam. "But it should be clear that the book is a literary work inspired by an important epoch in the Egyptian history, marking the shift from the ancient Egyptian religion to Christianity," Namnam told Gulf News.

He likened the Coptic reaction to Azazel to the "inquisition logic" of the Middle Ages."The allegation that a literary work can shake a solid heavenly religion reflects weak faith in this religion, because no work of art can discredit a divine religion," he added. The author, who teaches Islamic philosophy at Egypt's University of Alexandria, has denied Copts' accusations he seeks to undermine their beliefs.

"This is my 54th book and I did not imagine it would trigger all this debate," Zidan told the private Egyptian Dream TV.

According to him, Azazel re-reads history to draw lessons.

"The Coptic era is part of Egypt's history, which is not an internal Christian affair," he added.


Abou Fana local residents’ lawyer Gamal Musaid said the declarations made by MP Alaa Hasanein and a businessman member of the so-called ad-hoc committee charged with solving the Abou Fana monastery problem were not true.He affirmed the problem had not been solved and disputes were still going on as monastery leading figures were still insisting on building the wall before handing over the land to local residents.

The lawyer added the two members announced the end of the problem only to be in the spotlight.He also affirmed that they had not unveiled what he called “the bitter truth”, namely that no solution had been reached that satisfied both parties and no final agreement had been struck, as the monks were still clinging on things which, he said, hampered this agreement.The monastery had been the scene of clashes on May 31 between local residents of Kasr el-Hor village, close to the monastery (Menya Governorate), and the monks because of a dispute on State-owned lands close to the monastery itself. A young Muslim had been killed in the clash and seven monks had been injured.

For his part, Mr. Hasanein said he would meet Governor Ahmed Diaa Eddin to show him the solutions proposed by the committee to start building the wall and to solve the problem.He accused diocese’s lawyer Ehab Ramzi of inciting the public opinion over the past two months through what he called “provocative declarations” against the Governor and the control and security organs.

He also pointed out that Pope Shenouda III had deplored, in a phone call with the Governor, Ramzi’s declarations and said the Church had nothing to do with them.

The Director of the Governorate press office Saad Mansour said water connections to the monastery had been installed and the path leading to it had been provided with lights.He explained facilities were connected by submitting orders and affirmed the diocese had asked to change the generator power at its expense to activate its irrigation hoses. The monastery, though, did not ask the electric company for the prices, contrary to what is always the case in all desert regions.

Mansour added that the Governorate had provided the generator and the lights for the road leading to the monastery. Likewise, he said the water and sewage company had provided the water line, pointing out that the monastery buildings and isolated cells had been erected on State-owned land and had not been legalized until that moment.He also affirmed there were no electricity or water lines inside the monastery, which made it impossible for them to be cut as affirmed by those in charge inside the building.


SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- On August 11, 2008, His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman issued the following statement concerning the recent military conflict between Russia and Georgia that broke out in the disputed Caucasus region of South Ossetia on August 8.

"The hierarchs, clergy, and laity of the Orthodox Church in America are observing the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia with heavy hearts. In the course of many years we have regarded our close relations with the Orthodox Churches of Russia and Georgia as precious signs of communion and solidarity. It is thus deeply painful to see the war between GeorgiaRussia, and the resulting suffering for many in the war zones in South Ossetia and Georgia.

"We pray that the political leaders, as they make their decisions, may care above all for the life and safety and well-being of their peoples. "We pray that the cessation of hostilities through a cease-fire will create the conditions for a peaceful settlement.

"We pray that all political leaders and political institutions may exhibit realism and sanity as they dedicate their efforts to a peaceful resolution of a conflict which is causing suffering to many people and which has dangerous implications for the relations among states in the Caucasus, in Eastern Europe, and in the whole world.

"We thank Almighty God for the witness for peaceful relations between Russian and Georgia consistently given by the Patriarch of Moscow and the Patriarch of Georgia. May this witness be an effective avenue for the overcoming of violence and all threats to peace in the Caucasus region."

His Beatitude has also sent letters of support to His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksy of Russia and His Holiness and Beatitude, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia of Georgia. "The violent conflict between Russia and Georgia, resulting in much suffering and bloodshed, is observed by Orthodox Christians in America with deep concern and with heavy hearts," Metropolitan Herman wrote. "I extend to you my profound sympathy as you face the tragic conflict. Your spiritual leadership is, of course, a powerful witness in the Russian and Georgian societies. May God bless your continuing efforts to promote realism, sanity, and hope."


Baltimore, Maryland — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) distributed emergency food and hygiene supplies to people who were displaced due to the conflict between Georgian, Russian, and South Ossetian forces. The distribution took place on Thursday in Tbilisi where displaced families took shelter in a school for the blind and in the nearby town of Tskvarichamia. IOCC is also coordinating assistance to refugees in North Ossetia (Russia) in partnership with the Russian Orthodox Church.

“Most people had to flee the fighting in South Ossetia and brought nothing more than the clothes on their backs,” said IOCC Georgia Program Manager Darejan Dzotsenidze. The Georgian government and the U.N. are currently registering some 23,000 people who fled the conflict and poured into Tbilisi. Those numbers are expected to increase.

IOCC released emergency funds to its Tbilisi and Moscow offices earlier this week to purchase food items such as pasta, rice, cereal, sugar and tea, and hygiene items including towels, soap and tooth paste. The collective centers where the displaced are housed often have two families in one room.

“Many of those who fled hid in basements and forests until they had to find food,” said Dzotsenidze. “Now they are saying, ‘please help me to get home – even if you give me a palace here, I would rather go home.’”

IOCC, which has worked on emergency and development projects in Russia and Georgia since the early 1990s, is working in partnership with the Georgian Orthodox Church in the affected areas of Georgia and with the Russian Orthodox Church in North Ossetia.

To help in providing emergency relief, call IOCC’s donation hotline toll-free at 1-877-803-4622, make a gift on-line at, or mail a check or money order payable to “IOCC” and write “Conflict in the Caucasus” in the memo line to: IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225.

IOCC, founded in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), has implemented over $275 million in relief and development programs in 33 countries around the world.

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


On the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, on August 15 2008, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, thanked the clergy and faithful who, in churches and monasteries, on each day of the Dormition Fast, have read the Paraklisis of the Mother of God while thinking about the suffering of our brothers who are affected by the unmerciful floods, offering them, through prayer and good deeds, spiritual and material support, according to each one's possibilities.

In his address to the faithful attending the Holy Liturgy at the 'Dormition' Monastery in Techirghiol, Constanta county, His Beatitude has said that the Romanian Patriarchate has suggested that August 15, the Christian feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, should be observed as a legal holiday. The representatives of the Romanian Orthodox Church have thus filed a request with the Romanian Parliament in this issue:

'We requested for the Dormition feast to be observed as an annual legal holiday, as other countries of the European Union have already done,' said His Beatitude, Patriarch Daniel, indicating France as one of the examples.

Also, His Beatitude congratulated Very Rev. Archimandrite Arsenie Papacioc, the spiritual guide of the Techirghiol Monastery, who turned 94.


UOL Convention Highlights - 2008

The 61st Annual Convention of the Ukrainian Orthodox League (UOL) of the USA was held at the Holiday Inn Arena in Binghamton, NY on July 30 - August 3, with the Senior and Junior UOL Chapters of St. John’s Church, Johnson City, serving as hosts. After the Senior and Junior National Executive Boards held their pre-convention meetings, the convention program began on Wednesday, July 30 with Great Vespers by Fr. Zinoviy Zharskiy, convention Spiritual Advisor, in the Convention Chapel. The iconostas and altar for the Chapel were beautifully constructed from wood by Phil Harendza, and the hope is that the iconostas will be donated to a mission parish. After Vespers Senior UOL President Oleh Bilynsky (Philadelphia, PA) and Junior UOL President Patrick Scannell (Johnson City, NY) opened the business sessions with welcoming remarks, and His Beatitude Metropolitan Constantine then offered inspirational words to set an appropriate tone for the 61st Convention.The Annual Convention Agenda included the establishment of a number of functioning committees which met to prepare suggested goals and objectives for the Senior and Junior Executive Boards to implement with the assistance of local chapters: Vocations and Clergy Support, Nominating, Resolutions, Ways and Means, Christian Caregiving and Missions, Youth, Membership and Chapter Development, and Education.

After the individual committees met and discussed appropriate topics, each submitted a report to the convention body for final ratification. Particular emphasis was placed on increasing the membership of the UOL, and along those lines all members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA are invited to join the UOL, and to form UOL chapters in those parishes which do not yet have a local UOL chapter.

During the convention the Business Sessions also included the approval of the 60th Annual Convention Minutes, review of the 2008 Annual Report and Audit Report, and review and approval of the 2007-2008 Financial Report, which also included the acceptance of the 2008-2009 budget. During the sessions (on Thursday and Friday) preteen activities were made available and coordinated by Cathy Bucharew (Philadelphia, PA). Wednesday evening concluded with the traditional Hospitality Night, with wine tasting hosted by the St. John’s Senior UOL chapter.

Thursday morning began with a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy which was celebrated by His Beatitude Metropolitan Constantine, who was assisted by His Eminence Archbishop Antony, His Grace Bishop Daniel and a number of clergy. Afterwards the convention delegates and guests were treated to a delicious Breakfast Buffet followed by Thursday’s Business Sessions.

Thursday Business Sessions included inspirational remarks by His Eminence Archbishop Antony. A presentation and update on “The UOL Fund to Furnish the Chapel at All Saints Camp” was made by Mrs. Irene Carman (Watertown, NY), who along with Pani Matka Mary Anne Nakonachny (Parma, OH) and Mrs. Diane Senedak (Youngstown, OH) chaired the committee to raise those funds. Mrs. Carman reported that over $160,000.00 was raised by the UOL for the iconography and furnishings in the Chapel, and with the approval of the convention body any money remaining after the Chapel is fully furnished will be used for the upkeep and maintenance of the Chapel.

On Thursday a check for over $6,900.00 was presented to the St. Andrew’s Society for soup kitchens in Ukraine, the proceeds from the UOL’s “Souper Bowl Sunday” fund-raising project. Following sessions on Thursday Night “A Taste of the Southern Tier” was held in the State Office Building (the tallest building in Binghamton), where Convention attendees were treated to Spiedies (the local delicacy), music and dancing and a trivia contest. The night was topped off by a great view of the fireworks at the stadium for Binghamton’s minor league baseball team.

Friday’s business sessions included inspirational remarks by His Grace Bishop Daniel, and by keynote speaker Father David Smith, who spoke on the theme of the Convention, “The Light of Christ Illumines All.” An enthusiastic presentation was made by Ginny Ulbricht and other members of the Senior and Junior UOL chapters from Youngstown, OH, for the 62nd UOL Convention which will be hosted by the Senior and Junior UOL chapters from Sts. Peter & Paul Church, Youngstown, OH and which will take place on July 22-26, 2009.

Friday night’s event was a “Rally with Friends, “ held in the hotel’s ballroom, and the band had everyone dancing until the very last song. Afterwards the Youngstown, OH Senior and Junior UOL chapters (hosts of the 62nd UOL Convention) held a wonderful hospitality event.

Saturday’s activities included a workshop on “Ukrainian Torte Making” and a presentation on the Holodomor. After Great Vespers the traditional Banquet and Ball was held, during which the old and new Senior and Junior Executive Boards were introduced, annual UOL awards were given out, and LSSK (Lynn Sawchuk-Sharon Kuzbyt) scholarships were presented to six worthy Junior UOL members. The UOL also presented MJSF (Metropolitan John Scholarship Fund) grants totaling over $15,000.00 to St. Sophia’s Seminary on behalf of our five full-time seminarians. Afterwards, the band once again had everyone dancing until the very last song, especially during the traditional and show-stopping “Kolomeyka.”

On Sunday the Senior and Junior UOL Presidents greeted the Hierarchs at St. John’s Church with thanks for their spiritual guidance during the Convention, and presented each with flowers. Parish representatives also greeted the Hierarchs with the traditional bread and salt.

Following the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, the St. John’s Senior and Junior UOL chapters sponsored a Farewell Luncheon at St. John’s Memorial Center. The luncheon was especially memorable as St. John’s parishioners treated the Convention attendees to Ukrainian singing and dancing during the luncheon. A very special “Thank You” is extended to all the Hierarchs, clergy, delegates and guests who attended this year’s Convention, and all are invited to attend next year’s Annual UOL Convention in Youngstown, OH, on July 22-26, 2009.


MANIZALES, COLOMBIA: Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox clergy and faithful, joined tens of thousands of other Colombian citizens in a united march to protest the continued captivity of hostages held by leftist rebels, including FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia). Similar marches took place throughout Colombian cities and in at least 40 countries around the world, as citizens observed the July 20th Colombian independence day

In a message to Metropolitan Mykhayil, Archbishop Odón Gómez Barbosa, UAOC Archbishop of Manizales and Latin America gave an electrified description of the day's historic event,

Respected and beloved Vladyka, with great joy, I want to tell you that for the first time, the Orthodox Church has made a public presence in Colombia. Today, a representation of our religious and faithful went out, with our full Orthodox identity and our proper presentation as Ukrainians. Carrying a banner identifying the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the precious flags of Ukraine and Colombia, we joined military, civil, political and religious authorities. This is very important to us, because we made a presence for the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Certainly we now feel as true and proud Ukrainians. Esteemed Vladyka, I hope that this news will be very pleasing to you and to our beloved Predstoyatel, His Beatitude, Mefodiy, since now God has converted us into ambassadors of Ukraine for ColombiaLatin America, bearing the good news of His liberating grace. and

The marches are a statement of "no tolerance" to the guerrilla terrorists and follow a July 2 bloodless rescue mobilization effort by the Colombian government that freed 14 hostages, including 2002 presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. Sgt. Julio Cesar Buitrago, a Colombian police officer also freed, suggested that the nation utilize its July 20th independence day with a march demanding the release of the remaining hostages, estimated by the government to be as high as 700. There were over 900,000 marchers in the capitol city of Bogatá alone.

Holding banners which read, "The Orthodox Church says no to captivity and yes to liberty" the UAOC faithful, led by Vladyka Odón also carried icons and the flags of Ukraine and Colombia. The Archeparchy of Latin America has a presence in Colombia and other countries of Spanish-speaking America. The eparchial center in Manizales is presently nearing completion and while already housing the cathedral church, will soon also be the home to the seminary, cultural center and episcopal residence. Two sizable monastic communities have recently been established in the eparchy.

Vladyka Mykhayil, as Metropolitan of New York and America, made a pastoral visitation to the Latin American eparchy in 2005, to celebrate the 15th. Jubilee of the Third Resurrection of the UAOC. He plans to return for the dedication of the completed eparchial complex and has also discussed possible plans for a future pastoral visitation of the worldwide Predstoyatel of the UAOC to the faithful in South America.

His Eminence, Metropolitan Mykhayil, inspired by the Colombian faithful's participation in this worldwide display of solidarity, made the following observations: This is yet another occasion in which I am deeply inspired by our ever faithful people in Latin America. Their steadfast devotion to their Orthodox faith and dedication to our Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church has made of them, a pivotal people in their communities. Their voice in the name of justice and righteousness is a dual reflection of personal experience and the deeply rooted path of all Ukrainian Christians and the Ukrainian nation. By recognizing a situation which necessitates a response from the church, they have not only followed the Gospel call to true holiness, but have followed in the tradition of that longing spirit for freedom, embedded in the Ukrainian ethos. We are all very proud and very inspired by their zeal and movement to action.


Moscow, August 15, Interfax – Ruling bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church received a circular letter from Patriarch Alexy II to arrange fundraising for victims of humanitarian catastrophe in South Ossetia. “Recently accomplished military actions in South Ossetia forced thousands of people leave their homes. According to various sources, over thirty thousands of South Ossetian residents found temporary refuge in the Russian Federation,” Alexy II’s letter says as cited by the Moscow Patriarchate official website. In this connection, the Primate charged the Department on church charity and social service of the Russian Orthodox Church to extend help to “refugees, deprived of the roof and subsistence, as there are many our compatriots among them.”

The Department’s officials worked out a plan of measures, including fundraising, to help the victims. The patriarch blessed and backed up this good undertaking. Russian Church ruling bishops, the patriarch asked them to bless parishes and monasteries to participate in actions for the welfare of victims of military operations in Ossetia. Patriarch Alexy blessed to open a special account for charities in Vneshprombank.

USD Account:
Moscow, Russia
Account No 40703840200100007714
Correspondent Account No. 301-0104479-91-USD
Correspondent Bank ING BELGIUM NV/SA


Moscow, August 18, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church uplifts a special prayer for peace in the Caucasus. It asks the Lord to grant peace "to everyone living in the Caucasus, especially to the long-suffering people of South Ossetia."

"Keep our people in love to each other, release of any hostility, take away all discords and temptations. Oh Lord, grant them harmony and good health, guard them against any sorrow, exasperation and sudden death, heal any enmity and anger implanted by the Satan," the prayer asks. Besides, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia blessed to add some petitions asking God to deliver peoples of the Caucuses from "any hostility, disputes and internecine quarrel and grant them peaceful and prosperous life," protect them from afflictions with "peace and hosts of His angels," the Moscow Patriarchate website reports.


Moscow, August 15, Interfax - The Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches declared their common peacemaking position and readiness to cooperate in this field. Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia had a phone talk with chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad. "The parties appreciated peacemaking position of two Churches and agreed to develop the contacts and cooperation in order to overcome hardest after-effect of the armed clashes for peaceful citizens," the Moscow Patriarchate website reports.

The participants discussed tragic effects of the last week events and focused on the situation of peaceful population in the area of military conflict.


Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch visited Gori

Tbilisi, August 18, Interfax - Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia, the spiritual leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, has arrived in the town of Gori, whose outskirts are still controlled by Russian troops. Several ambulances were trailing the patriarch's motorcade when it was entering the town. The patriarch had asked the Russian Orthodox Church on Friday to provide him with assistance in visiting Gori and Georgian villages around Tskhinvali to evacuate those dead and wounded. Georgian media said Russian troops were guarding the patriarch on the trip.


The youth conference organized by the Catholicosate of Cilicia’s Youth Department was officially launched in the Saint Mary Monastery in Bikfaya on August 14. The conference convenes under the theme “The Armenian Youth in the face of the challenges of the 21st century.”

The conference is held under the auspices of His Holiness Aram I, who also presided over the opening ceremony and addressed the young delegates participating the conference from Armenian communities worldwide. The conference brought together over 100 young Armenians from the Eastern and Western prelacies of North America, Istanbul, Cyprus, Kuwait, the Arab Gulf countries, Tehran and Isfahan, Syria and Lebanon. The prelacies of Greece and Azerbaijan in Iran did not send representatives.

In his opening remarks the director of the Catholicosate of Cilicia’s Youth Department, Rev. Sahag Yemishian, underlined the unique character of the conference and its promising prospects. He wished that the conference participants would appropriately discuss the ideas and proposals expressed during the sessions with a view to plan new projects that would improve the lives of young Armenians.

The opening ceremony became all the more exciting with the encouraging words of His Holiness Aram I- a hearty Pontifical message spoken to the Armenian youth. The young participants intently listened to the wise words of the Catholicos who, fully aware of present circumstances, inspired them to face all the challenges they encounter.

His Holiness welcomed the young Armenians that had come to Bikfaya from around the world and presented a thorough analysis of the difficulties that the Armenian youth face both at the global and national levels. Referring to the characteristics relevant to a person’s adolescent life, he underlined the importance of Christian formation and a purpose-goal life. His Holiness considered that the Church, as a source of morality, is a compass, a path leading to Christ, an institution that organizes social life based mutual respect of the laws governing society.

“In the life of present-day society, religion has started becoming an existential presence. In the past, particularly in the West, religion was an individual matter. Today, it is a matter of public concern. Inter-faith meetings are held today with utmost seriousness and uninterrupted continuity- a non-existing phenomenon in the past. The youth cannot remain indifferent towards this. However, where is the youth in all this?” wondered His Holiness.

In his message, the Pontiff stressed the importance of participation. “The youth and passivity are opposing concepts. The youth should be present in our collective life. Its role is not marginal; it is important, it is central. Look at today’s world and you will see that those occupying important position are mostly the youth. This is so because it is through your work that our life flourishes and develops. Otherwise, our collective life will become immobile like a swamp. Our church needs your fresh forces and minds,” he said.

In the last part of his speech, the Pontiff spoke about the dangers threatening the life of the youth. “We are becoming witness to mentalities and lifestyles that do not correspond to our traditions and are based on morally different perceptions. The youth is quickly affected by such phenomena. It is true that in the current world we cannot build up walls around ourselves or live in isolation. However, with the guidance of the Church the youth can find its true path, renewing the church in its mission and service. The meaning of the church cannot be explained in its sanctity only, but in the realization of its mission, in which our youth should participate,” His Holiness stressed.

The Pontiff’s message became a guideline for the conference. During the following session, Garo Hovhannessian delivered a presentation entitles: “Where is the Armenian youth in face of the challenges of the 21st century and how does he overcome them?” Hovhannessian stressed the concepts of national identity and the need for an understanding of national belonging among the youth. He made a call for reviewing the concept of “culture” and underlined the importance of preserving the Armenian Language for the preservation of Armenian identity. Referring to the contribution expected from the youth, he said: “In our history we have not had a period when we’ve had so many of our youngsters enrolled in universities. However, we feel the lack of man force everywhere today. Degrees have no meaning if they do not contribute to our highest national interests and to the realization of our primary goals.”

Following the lecture, the participants were divided into workshops to discuss more deeply the issues at hand and prepare brief reports of the ideas and thoughts expressed. The workshops became serious discussions, healthy criticism, fiery debates and attempts to reach the truth through the exchange of viewpoints.

One of the sessions was dedicated to the exchange of information on the experiences of the youth living in different geographic locations and communities. The session was also rich in relevant topics with young Armenians providing information about their respective communities and environments, explaining their concerns and the obstacles they face. The dangers threatening the life of the youth were also discussed with a view to seek preventive measures.

The conference started with the morning service, at the end of which spiritual contemplation was performed by Rev. Magar Ashkarian. After the day-long sessions, the participants attended the Evening Mass in the St. Mary Monastery.



Young Armenians from around the world gathered in the summer headquarters of the Catholicosate of Cilicia on Thursday to inaugurate the youth conference organized by the Catholicosate’s youth department.

Held under the auspices of His Holiness Aram I, the conference convenes under the theme “The Armenian youth in the face of the challenges of the 21st century.” It will feature lectures by the President of Haigazian University, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, Lecturer at the University of Geneva, Dr. Joe Pirri, historian Garo Hovhannesian and other prominent intellectuals.

A committee responsible for organizing the conference limited the number of participants- young Armenians from communities worldwide- to 110 to ensure the effectiveness of discussions and a result-oriented conference.

The delegates will discuss serious issues affecting the Armenian youth today through a series of lectures and group discussions over the next three days. Community representatives will convene round tables on previously assigned topics, following which small groups will discuss the issues at hand in depth and present summaries of their conclusions.

The conference will be a podium to shed light on the concerns and conflicts that Armenian youth face in present times particularly in the Diaspora. All the proposals made by the conference will be passed on to His Holiness who will take them into consideration while formulating the Catholicosate’s future projects and table them for discussion by National General Assembly to be held in early December this year.

I would like to invite the attention of Holy Primates Holy Synods members, Bishops, Priests, Monks, Nuns and memebers of the Orthodox Churches World Wide.

I would like to invite the Special attention of the Holy Synod, Priest, Managing Committee members, Monks, Nuns, all memebers of the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Church to this issue.

Kindly read the following

Relationship between Malankara Orthodox Church(Indian Orthodox Church) and Malankara Catholic Rite (Eastern Rite Catholic Church in India)

There have been some tensions between the two Churches since the origin of the Malankara Catholic Rite in 1930 when Archbishop Mar Ivanious joined the Roman Catholic Church. During the past three years the tension are on the hike even though it is not been exhibited publicly. This was especially after the declaration of the Malankara Catholic Rite that their primate has been elevated to the Position of 'Catholicose' in the year 2005, along with the elevation of their Church to the Archie- Episcopal Status by the Holy See. This has caused further confusions for the Orthodox Church of the East.

The Malankara Orthodox Church had an enquiry with the Vatican on the issue. The Holy See responded that 'Catholicose' title has not been granted to the Major Archbishop of the Malankara Catholic Rite. This has been clearly mentioned in the letter (PRONT N: 2581/2005/h) send to the Malankara Orthodox Church from the Holy See by His Eminence Cardinal Walter Casper dated on 18 June 2005. But it seems that the declarations from the Holy See are not at all applicable to the Malankara Catholic Rite and her Leadership. Many a times they have used the title 'Catholicose' along with Major Archbishop, to address the Primate of the Malankara Catholic Church in news papers, public forum, official documents of the Church, magazines, Church publication etc.

The Issue

The New Malankara Metropolitan

Check the following link

International Home page

All the above websites claim the following


Successor of the Apostolic See of St. Thomas in India

Malankara Metropolitan

Major Archbishop-Catholicos
of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church

Major Archbishop of Trivandrum

As accepted worldwide there is only one Successor to the Apostolic See of St Thomas and that is His Holiness Catholicose of the all East and Malankara Metropolitan who is the Supreme Primate of the Malankara Orthodox Church. The present Catholicose of the East and Malankara Metropolitan is His Holiness Moran Mor Baseluis Marthoma Dydimos I. Then how can His Grace BASELIOS CLEEMIS claim that he is enthroned on the Throne of St.Thomas?

As per the doctrines, faith and believes of the Roman Catholic Church, there is only one Apostolic Throne and that is the Throne of St. Peter His Holiness Pope is enthroned on throne of St. Peter. Then how can be there another throne in the Roman Catholic Church which belongs to St.Thomas?

Many a times the Priest and lay men of the Malankara Catholic Rite has used the title 'His Holiness BASELIOS CLEEMIS CATHOLICOS' at several public forums and meetings. There is only one His Holiness in the Roman Catholic Church and that is His Holiness Pope Himself, then how can there be another His Holiness along with His Holiness Pope?

The IOC leadership and members must act against this.

Some may feel that the above statement is of less importance as its just part of some website or what will happen if they write something in a website. No this is a problem indeed. This is kind of slow poisoning by the Reethu.

Earlier they claimed the throne of Malankara and now they claim the throne of St Thomas. Very shortly all Kalpana by the Major Archbishop will carry the title 'Successor of St Thomas'.

Remember the recent books; a statement from Vatican does not address the Reethu Major Archbishop as Catholicose.

It's high time we do something.

This is no joke.. Consider this as a serious issue. And we must show the right sense and courage to act against these atrocities

If proper communications from Devalokam are send to Vatican as well as to other concerned person's these nonsense acts by the Malankara Reethu can be put to an end.

Also Consider the following

I do have some questions for the Malankara Catholic Rite.

1. The People and the Malankara Catholic Prelates claim the H B Baselious Clemis Can Use the title 'Catholicose'. But what about the letter issued by the Holy See (PRONT N: 2581/2005/h) which Cleary mentions that 'no Catholicose' title has been issued to the Head of Malankara Catholic rite. Decisions taken by the Holy See is normally applicable to all rites, but what is very special to the Malankara Catholic Rite? Is the Malankara Catholic rite above the Holy See?

2. There is only one His Holiness in the Roman Catholic Church and that is His Holiness Pope Himself. Then How does anther 'HIS HOLINESS' possible in one of most tiny rites in the Roman Catholic Church?? The Malankara Catholic Rite has publicly displayed boards at Trivandrum and elsewhere addressing their Primate as His Holiness!! Are they still under the Control of Rome or does HB Baselious Cleemis considered above the status of His Holiness Poe by the rest of the Roman Catholic rites and members?? What about the Status of His Eminence Cardinal and Major Archbishop Mar Varkey Vithayathil and Archbishop His Grace Most. Rev.Dr. M. Soosa Pakiam??? Are they both above below His Holiness Pope or HB Baselious Cleemis???

3. In the recent books, notes, documents issued by Vatican it has been clearly mentioned that the title of the Primate of the Malankara Catholic rite is Major Archbishop, nothing more or nothing less!!!

4. According to the beliefs and traditions of the Roman Catholic Church there is one Apostolic Throne and that is the Throne of St.Peter and His Holiness Pope is enthroned on it. The how can be another Throne (Throne of St Thomas) in the Same Roman Catholic Church?? How can His Beatitude Baselius Cleemis Enthroned on the Apostolic Throne of St.Thomas???

5. The title Catholicose of the all East has been granted by the Jerusalem Synod. The First Catholicose of the East was St.Thomas Himself. The Present Catholicose of the East is His Holiness Baselius Marthoma Dydioms I who is the 90th successor to the throne of St Thomas. Then how can His Beatitude Baselius Cleemis claim that he is enthroned on the Apostolic Throne of St.Thomas???

6. The Vatican Has recognized the Supreme Primate of the Malankara Orthodox Church as the 'Catholicose of the Apostolic Throne of St.Thomas and Malankara Metropolitan'. Vatican Codex clearly mentions the head of Orthodox Church in India as the Metropolitan and all the Gate of India(Metropolitan on the throne of St.Thomas

Online Evidence: (CNEWA (Catholic Near East Welfare Association Website- A Papal Agency for humanitarian and Patrol Support )

Check below what the Holy See has mentioned about the title of the Primate of the Syr-Malankara Church.

It has been clearly mentioned that the title is - Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars.

The claims made by the Malankara Catholic Rite is illegal and unacceptable at any cost. Orthodoxy Beyond Limits take this opportunity to condemn the illegal acts of the Malankara Catholic Rite.

It is always better to remember the following

"You may fool some people some time

You may fool some people all the time,

But you cannot fool all people all the time"


George Alexander


Orthodoxy Beyond Limits Forum (OBL)


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