International Orthodox Christian News

OBL Condemns Terrorist Attacks in India

OBL Statement on Terrorist Attacks in India

Dear Members/Readers

The recent terrorist attack on India can be seen as an act to challenge democracy and peace. Many innocent people has lost their lives in this barbaric act by some anti-democratic and perverted groups. OBL strongly condemns this barbaric act.

We salute the courage of the hotels staff, NSG members, Military, Police Force, Commandos,Media and all those who have risked their lives to defend Mother India.

May these kind of incident never repeat anywhere in the world. Regardless of caste, creed, sex or nationality
let us all unite against terrorism and defend democracy, fraternity and peace. We take this opportunity offer special prayers for the departed souls, may God strengthen the families of the lost ones. Peace be with them.

Thanking You

Mr Subin Varghese

For the Entire OBl team

Denver, Colorado – Facing a global economic downturn not seen in generations, the Board of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) met at St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Greenwood Village, Colorado, for its annual Fall Board meeting.

The possible effects of a worsening economy on charitable giving weighed heavily on those gathered. With a new Missionary Training and Administrative building near completion, nearly 100 inquirers seeking long-term missionary assignment, and a growing demand for missionary witness around the world, the global missions ministries of OCMC are truly poised to reach new levels in 2009. Resources for this vital work of the North American Orthodox Churches, however, are needed now more than ever.

On Tuesday, November 18th, the Board’s Executive Committee, led by OCMC Board President Mr. Cliff Argue, OCMC Executive Director Fr. Martin Ritsi, and OCMC Associate Director Fr. David Rucker met while a Health Care Outreach Reception was held at St. Catherine. The reception featured presentations by OCMC Team Members Dr. Gregory Papadeas and Mrs. Susan Nelson. As the guests that gathered for the Health Care Reception learned about sharing Christ through ministries of healing, the Executive Committee was left to prayerfully discern how to overcome the current financial climate.

Following a beautiful Divine Liturgy, celebrated at St. Catherine Church by Fr. David Rucker, and OCMC Board Members Fr. John Chakos and Dcn. John Christakis on Wednesday, November 19th, the entire Board gathered for a full day of meetings. OCMC Board Member Fr. Matthew Tate read a greeting from His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH, the newly elected Primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). The Board in turn extended its congratulations and wishes for many years to His Beatitude. Board members who had traveled to Albania earlier in the year, including former OCMC Board President Mrs. Helen Nicozisis, Mrs. Cina Dasakalakis, and Mr. John Colis, shared their experiences. A presentation was given by OCMC Missionary Coordinator Dcn. James Nicholas on recruiting and retaining missionaries as the Board heard reports on 2008 accomplishments and 2009 operational planning. The afternoon hours were filled with a discussion on further articulating the mission and vision of the OCMC for the North American faithful. A day dedicated to prayer, pragmatism, and vision revealed a formula that will hopefully see the Mission Center through the challenges it now faces.

This hope was reinforced as the Board visited with His Eminence, Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, during an evening reception at the Metropolis Center, and as many people attended a Missions Banquet hosted at the nearby Assumption Cathedral. The banquet, which was underwritten by generous contributions from OCMC Ambassador Dr. and Mrs. Nicholas Kyriazi, Dr. and Mrs. Gregory Papadeas, and Dr. William White. The blessing for the event was offered by Metropolitan Isaiah. During the banquet, former OCMC missionaries Driko and Christine Pappas relayed the importance of making disciples of all nations by sharing their missionary experiences. Several former OCMC missionaries and Team members were in attendance and recognized for their service. Fr. Evan Armatas, of St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church who coordinates the St. Nectarios Program in support of children's education worldwide, presented OCMC with a check for $5000 to complete a school for a new Orthodox community in Lodwar, Kenya.

On Thursday, November 20th, following morning prayers, the 2008 Fall Board meeting concluded with a workshop by OCMC Communications Director Mr. Alex Goodwin on the Mission Center’s new internet initiative. This ministry is aimed at broadening awareness of missions through OCMC’s new website and the strategic utilization of media sharing and social networking technologies.

In many ways, Orthodox missions will be sailing uncharted waters in 2009. Through the efforts of people like OCMC Board Member and presiding priest at St. Catherine Fr. Louis Christopulos, the St. Catherine parish, the Organizing Committee who coordinated this Fall's Board Meeting, and the Philoptocos chapters of the Assumption Cathedral and St. Catherine, the witness of the North American faithful will continue to grow. The Board, staff, missionaries, volunteers, and thousands of souls around the world yearning for Christ ask that you continue to remember OCMC and the work of Orthodox missions in your prayers.

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) is the official mission agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) dedicated to making disciples of all nations by incorporating them into the vibrant Eucharistic life of the Church.


The Coptic Pope Shenuda III barred Egyptian Christians from praying in a church building in Cairo Tuesday after sectarian violence broke out this past weekend over the building’s use as a Christian prayer hall.  At least eight men were arrested on Sunday night when Muslims clashed with Coptic Christians in the neighborhood of Ein Shams to protest the use of the property for prayer, according to state news agency MENA. 

Muslims reportedly threw stones and burned two cars during the riot. 

In response to the clash, Pope Shenuda III ordered Copts to cease praying in the church-owned building that was previously an unused factory. Following the clash, Copts complained about the unfair law that requires them to be granted presidential permission before building a church or expanding an existing church. The authorization is difficult to near impossible to get and many Christians feel the law exists only to oppress the Christian minority community in a country where 90 percent or more of the population is Muslim.  Relations between Egyptian Muslims and the Christian minority were in the past peaceful, but have recently grown strained. Conversions to Christianity and a growing tendency to work and live among members of one’s religion have escalated tension between the two groups. 

There are an estimated 10 million Copts in Egypt, or the equivalent of about 10 percent of the population. The Coptic population, or the Orthodox Christians of Egypt, is the largest group of Christians in the Middle East.

The bones of St. Andrew on tour

Some of the human remains of Saint Andrew the Apostle, also named “the First-Called,” were brought to Riga, Latvia on October, 24th from Odessa under police escort. The bones of St. Andrew are priceless relics considered to be holy by the Orthodox Church (as well as the Roman Catholic Church).

The relics, housed or kept in what is called a reliquary, were on display in the Cathedral of Riga for only four days. Faithful Orthodox Christians from as far as hundreds of miles away made the journey in order to be near the bones of this venerated saint. Saint Andrew is considered by the Orthodox Church to be the apostle who brought the Christian faith to Russia and then further to the Baltic States. Saint Andrew is seen as the founding apostle for Orthodox Christianity (the Eastern Church) just as St. Peter serves that role for Roman Catholic Christianity (the Western Church).*

The relics of St. Andrew from Odessa represent only some of his earthly remains. His skull, for example, is kept in the cathedral in Patras, Greece, where it was returned in 1967 after having been removed in the year 1460. Some of the remains of St. Andrew were taken to Scotland where he was adopted as the patron saint of Scotland.

Muslims attacks a second Coptic Church.

Another Muslim attack was carried out Saturday evening on a wedding held in the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin 'Farid', in Ezbet El Nakhl, Ain Shams.

During the wedding ceremony a bearded man and a woman went inside the Church and started using profane insults to the people present. When the clash was taken outside the Church to be resolved, a large number of Muslims who were waiting in a shop facing the Church and who were armed with knives and weapons attacked the Coptic wedding guests.

Five Copts were injured, two seriously, one with broken limbs and the other sustained head injuries resulting in concussion. However, in spite of their injuries, the police took them into custody. Mr. Said Fayez, a Coptic defense lawyer said that the injured were charged with causing bodily harm.

It is worth noting that this attack took place at the same time, as the attack which was carried out on The Coptic Church of the Virgin, Ain Shams, and in which 1000 Copts were besieged inside the Church while 10-20,000 Muslims surrounded the Church and threw them with stones and used butane gas cylinders. Lawyer Fayez advised that three Coptic lawyers, who were present in Church during this horrific attack, were charged with causing public disturbance.

Mr. Fayez added that the distance between the two attacked Churches is only a 10 minutes walk, and wonders whether this is a coincidence or some form of a Muslim deliberate and concerted attack on all churches in Ain Shams.


10,000 Muslims attacked a Church in Cairo

One thousand Christians were today trapped inside the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in West Ain Shams,Cairo, after more than twenty thousand Muslims attacked them with stones and butane gas cylinders. The Church's priest Father Antonious said that the situation is extremely dangerous.

The Muslim mob that attacked the church blocked both sides of the street and encircled the church building, broke its doors and demolished its entire first floor. The mob were chanting Jihad verses as well as slogans saying "we will demolish the church" and "We sacrifice our blood and souls, we sacrifice ourselves for you, Islam", while the entrapped Christians chanted "Lord have mercy".

The incident started on the occasion of the inauguration of the Church today, when the Muslims hastily established a Mosque in the early hours of this morning, by taking over the first floor of a newly-built building facing the Church and started praying there.

When the security forces tried to disperse the mob, they went to nearby homes and shops owned by Christians, and were armed with sticks, butane, knives and other sharp objects. Witnesses said the mob included children from as young as 8-years old to men of over 50-years old, in addition to women.

The Church building was originally a factory that was adapted into its present state, the matter which took over five years to complete and to get the necessary permissions from the authorities to have a Church established. Human rights organizations and lawyers were refused entry into the besieged Church.

George Andriadze, Director of Patriarchate television “IVERIA” has left his position. According to the statement made by Mr Andriadze at a news conference, his decision was provoked with problems regarding broadcasting frequency of the television. Mr Andriadze states that the studio does not have its frequency and leases “Evrica” channel. Mr Andreadze notes that he begins political activity in order to solve the problem. Though, it has not been mentioned which political party he is going to collaborate with yet. “We have been demanding our legal frequency for several months. We have collected over 60 thousand supporting signatures, and the process is still on. I have decided to leave my position and start active political fight”, said Mr Andriadze.

Members of the delegation of Georgian Patriarchate visiting Russia summarized the visit. The 4-10 November visit was summarized by Metropolitan Grigol of Poti and Khobi, Archbishop Andria of Samtavisi and Gori, Archpriest George Kharazishvili, and expert of political science Zurab Abashidze. According to Mr Abashidze, main issue to be discussed during Russian visit was permission of Georgian clergy to serve at our churches in Abkhazia and the so-called South Ossetia. The issue was discussed together with Patriarch of All Russia Alexi II, and Head of Foreign Relations Department Metropolitan Cyril. As it is known, Russian Patriarchate offered Georgian Patriarchate to let Russian clergy to serve at churches in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. They offered Russian clergy to lead spiritual life until Georgian clergy could enter the territory. The Georgian Patriarchate refused the offer. Georgian side stated that only Georgian clergy could be spiritual leaders for their parish, and no any other church should do that despite its kind will. “Hence, there has not been worked out any ready-made recipe for returning back to Abkhazia and the so-called South Ossetia yet. Though, negotiation has been started. The visit is rather significant. Churches try to build first bridge after August events”, said Mr Zurab Abashidze. According to Mr Abashidze, Russian delegation pays return visit on 25 December 2008 to participate in celebrations of Catholicos Patriarch Enthronization day, and continue launched negotiations. Besides, upon initiative by Ministry of Foreign affairs of Russia, the Georgian delegation had meetings at the Ministry. The delegation also met with Georgian Diaspora, and Russian Patriarchate Charitable Foundation. According to Metropolitan Grigol, it is expected to have joint projects by charitable foundations of Georgian and Russian patriarchates. The Georgian delegation’s visit wad been scheduled to be held in August, though it was postponed in November due to august events.


Friday 14 November saw Pope Shenouda III inaugurate the first phase of the project of the Coptic Orthodox Culture Centre and the Saint Mark Public Library in Anba Rweiss grounds in Abbasiya, Cairo.
The story of the centre began long before, though, with the pope issuing a decree on 14 November 2000-14 November is the anniversary of the seating of Pope Shenouda III-for the establishment of a Coptic cultural centre and library. Now the eight-storey building has been completed and the project is on to a fine start.

Magnificently Coptic
The first stage of the project was financed in the major part through the donations of Coptic businessmen and professionals at home and abroad, and the volunteer work of experts and specialists.The interior of the building is magnificently decorated in Coptic style. The ceilings are covered with inlaid woodwork inspired by the fourth century Coptic iconostases of the Hanging Church and Abu-Seifein’s in Old Cairo.
The building contains a conference centre with a main hall that can host up to 1000 persons, as well as smaller meeting rooms, teleconferencing and translation facilities. A number of permanent exhibits, including rare manuscripts and icons, will be showcased in this area, while an exhibition hall will host exhibits of Coptic collections on loan from museums and universities abroad.
A number of specialised research units will be housed in the centre, providing research opportunities in such fields as Coptic architecture, archaeology, language and literature, history, hagiography, patristic and ecumenical studies. The purpose, according to the pope’s secretary Anba Ermiya, is to revitalise interest in Coptic studies at home and abroad.
The ground floor contains a fully equipped kitchen, a cafeteria and a restaurant.

A host of luminaries and officials attended the opening ceremony. Minister of Endowments Hamdi Zaqzouq, Minister of Administrative Development Ahmed Darwish, Nabil Mirhom head of the State Council-the highest administrative court in Egypt-as well as a number of Egypt’s governors were present. The German ambassador to Cairo Bernd Erbel, the Swiss ambassador Charles Held, and a number of MPs and Shura Council members among whom was Ali al-Samman, who previously headed the joint commission with the Vatican on dialogue between religions, also attended. Present also were Safwat al-Bayadi, head of the Evangelical Church in Egypt, representatives from the Catholic and Anglican churches, a number of bishops and archbishops and members of the Coptic Orthodox Melli (Community) Council.
The pope unveiled a memorial marble plaque commemorating the occasion. The members of the commission in charge of the project-Anba Ermiya and the Coptic professionals and businessmen Fawzy Estafanous, Tharwat Bassily, Samy Fahim, Lutfy Basta, and Naguib Sawiris spoke about the idea and effort behind the establishment of the centre and library. Mr Sawiris, who was outside Egypt, delivered his message pre-recorded and televised through a projector screen.

For all
Anba Bishoi, Secretary-General of the Holy Synod spoke about Coptic heritage and presented copies of manuscripts and old Bible editions which he had succeeded in collecting from libraries in Europe.Finally, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III spoke in depth about Coptic heritage and stressed that the Saint Mark Public Library would not be a religious library, but one that would offer a wide range of knowledge to all Egyptians. “We are lucky to live in the age of advanced technology,” the pope said, “when it is easy to obtain excellent copies of original material and manuscripts that libraries, museums, or monasteries the world over would never part with. Now such copies can be accessible to researchers.”The pope announced that he was offering the library 20 encyclopaedias of his own, as well as his private Islamic library.

The library
Watani was informed by Anba Ermiya that the St Mark Public Library will contain a state-of-the-art electronic library, and will house specialised manuscripts and rare book exhibits.
The new library, he said, will house some 3500 books given to the library by Pope Shenouda III, the 27,000-volume strong Clerical College’s collection, the 32,000-volume collection of the late Anba Gregorious and the late Murad Kamel’s 13,000-volume library.
As for the manuscript collection, the St Mark’s will house, among others, 1310 unique manuscripts from the old Coptic Patriarchate Library, 1140 manuscripts (some one million folios) donated by St Shenoute the Archimandrite Society-a copy of these was donated to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina by Pope Shenouda III-and 360 manuscripts (7110 folios).St Mark’s will also include a children’s library which will house interactive exhibits and hands-on learning facilities. Regular activities will include story telling, arts and crafts, and writing workshops.


On the occasion of the celebration of 2000 years since the birth of Holy Apostle Paul, the Church’s greatest missionary and the author of most of the Biblical writings used in the Orthodox service, the holy relics of St Paul, the Apostle to the Nations, are being brought to Bucharest from Greece for a week (October 23-29, 2008), thanks to the benevolence of Most Rev. Panteleimon, Metropolitan of Veria, Nausa and Kampania.

The presence in Bucharest, over these feast days, of the holy relics of St Paul, together with those of Righteous Demetrios the New, the Protector of Bucharest, is a great blessing to us all: hierarchs, clergy, monastics, faithful pilgrims from Romania and abroad.

Holy Apostle Paul is, after our Savior Jesus Christ, the greatest teacher of the Gospel of God’s love for humans. The life of the Holy Apostle and Martyr shows how God’s grace worked in this man who became, from tormentor of the Church, its zealous shepherd and showed how very alive is the connection between Christ and His Church.

Worthy shepherd and enlightened theologian of Christ’s Church, who went through many tribulations and trials before his martyr death, Holy Apostle Paul teaches us, through word and deed, to love Christ and His Church, to be witnesses to the grace and love of the Holy Trinity, working within the Church, to honor God’s saints and to live the Christian life in holiness, as a preparation for the Resurrection and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. All the epistles or letters of Holy Apostle Paul show us how Christ’s Gospel must be lived practically: as repentance for sins, as joy of forgiveness and of our reconciliation with God and with each other, as a life of prayer, holiness, brotherly love and good deeds.

Holy Apostle Paul is the teacher of Christian family, which he calls a Mystery, being an icon of light of the love of Groom Christ towards His Bride – the Church, as he teaches us in the Epistle read during the Service of the Holy Matrimony (Ephesians 5:20-32). At the same time, Holy Apostle Paul is a teacher of evangelical advices and of monastic life as a spiritual struggle for the shedding of passions and gaining of holiness, as he highlights in the same Epistle to the Ephesians (6:10-18).

Holy Apostle Paul is, at the same time, a teacher of Christian life in the midst of society, persuading Christians to live a pure and balanced life, to cooperate with state authorities for the common good of the society (Romans 13:1-8), to help the poor and the widows, to respect parents and the elderly, to raise children and youths in faith and holiness, to help needy church communities in a brotherly way.

Holy Apostle Paul teaches us, as well, to see the sky and earth as the work and gift of God for us humans (Romans 1:20), offering thus light for the dialog between faith and science, but also to contribute to the sanctification and protection of creation, of the environment.

In a special way, Holy Apostle Paul presents the earthly Christian time, in history, as a journey towards the heavenly homeland (Hebrews 11:13-16; 13:14).

In this light of Christian life as pilgrimage or seeking of holiness or of heavenly grace, St Paul is enriching, these days, the joy of all pilgrims who are venerating his holy relics together with those of Righteous Demetrios the New and of Holy Emperors Constantine and Helen, protectors of the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucharest. This church is being reconsecrated now, 350 years since its construction (1658 – 2008), but also 320 since the printing of the first complete translation of the Holy Scripture in Romanian (the Bible of Bucharest: 1688) and on the celebration of 500 years since the printing of the first Orthodox Euchologion in the world (the Euchologion of Macarie, 1508).

Beloved pilgrims,

In these days of blessing and joy, which Christ our Lord is giving us through His saints, we congratulate you all for coming to Bucharest and we are praying to the Allmerciful God to reward your faith and effort, your yearning and charity, with His grace and gifts, with health and redemption, peace and joy, help in your family and activity, with many and blessed years, to grow richer in faith and brotherly love, in holiness and good deeds, for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity, for the joy of the saints and for redemption.

Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church


Public communique of the Holy Hierarchical Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church

Communique from the second regular session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, held in Belgrade November 11-15, 2008.

With the blessings of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia and under the presidency of His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilohije of Montenegro and the Coastlands who, in accordance with Article 62 of the Constitution of the Serbian Orthodox Church took the place of His Holiness, who was absent for health reasons, the second regular Assembly of the Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church took place November 11 through 15, 2008 at the Patriarchate in Belgrade.

Participating in the work of the Assembly were all the diocesan hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the homeland and from abroad, as well as His Beatitude Archbishop of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skopje Jovan with the hierarchs of the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ochrid. Confronted with the great spiritual challenges of our time, the Assembly dealt with vital questions of the life, organization and mission of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

In addition to a number of current issues, the Assembly gave particular attention to his Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle's request of October 8, 2008, to be relieved of active service for reasons of health and physical infirmity. Despite the reasons stated in his request, the Assembly beseeched His Holiness to remain at the helm of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Very serious attention was given to church and school education, and to school and parochial catechism classes for children and adults, both in the country and the Diaspora.

The Assembly, responsibly and analytically, considered the difficult situation in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as the accumulated problems in the Diocesan life of Ras and Prizren, showing concern for the church's faithful people and the holy sites in Kosovo and Metohija.

The Assembly fathers with great care and supervision resolved all disagreements regarding the reconstruction of all holy sites in Kosovo and Metohija. They asked Bishop Artemije of Ras and Prizren to receive them as soon as possible and return them to use. At the same time, the fathers of the Holy Assembly of Bishops confirmed the earlier decisions of Holy Synod related to the administration and brotherhood Visoki Decani Monastery, respecting the canonical jurisdiction of Bishop Artemije.

Special attention was given to the situation and serious problems occurring in the Archdiocese of Ohrid, as well as all of our dioceses in the countries on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. The Assembly appeals once again to the ruling government of the Republic of Macedonia that they cease the persecution of His Beatitude Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skoplje Jovan, and to abolish restrictions and other unlawful measures against the autonomous Ohrid Archdiocese.

Amending the 2002 Nis Agreement, the Holy Assembly of Bishops decided: To accept, in principle, the proposal on the manner of participation of the Hierarchs from the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ohrid in the work of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Assembly fathers discussed questions regarding church life in Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Hercegovina, once again appealing to the respective governments that the basic religious and property rights of members of the Serbian Orthodox Church not be endangered.

Relations and cooperation with the local Orthodox Churches were the subject of further attention and care by the Assembly, as well as relations and dialog with other churches and religious communities. The Assembly respectfully listened to the report and message from the recent gathering of Primates from all Orthodox Churches, held in the Phanar from October 10 through 12, 2008.

The Holy Assembly of Bishops was astonished by the behavior of certain media sources, electronic and written, with respect to the aforementioned petition of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia. The Assembly thanks those media sources that have objectively informed the public of their work. To the fullness of the Serbian Orthodox Church and to all people of good will, the Holy Assembly sends a message of peace and love.


NEW YORK Archbishop Demetrios of America received this year’s Distinguished Leadership in Education Award sponsored by the New York State Coalition of Independent and ReligiousSchools, during a Luncheon on November 17, in Albany, the State Capital.

Tom Hogan, from the Office of Nonpublic Schools/ New York State Education Department in reading the award citation said, “You have demonstrated Leadership in support of Hellenic Culture, Orthodox Christian Theology and Education. You have upgraded the schools, granted scholarships, opened horizons and been a constant positive presence to the children, resulting in a hope-filled future for the Youth.”
Following the presentation, His Eminence expressed his gratitude to the Coalition and the hundreds of educators present. He called teaching “the noblest of professions,” and said, “It is the school teacher that makes history today.” The Archbishop related his “shared passion and dedication for education” and remarked on the four-step process of classical Paideia, the all-encompassing Greek term for education, which consists of surprise, amazement, question and finally knowledge. “We have a duty, he said, to make this process towards knowledge and education a work full of interest and joy.”

The luncheon marked the opening of the 24th Annual Conference for Administrators of Independent and Religious Schools, which offers the opportunity to the administrators of faith-based schools in the State of New York to attend workshops and meet with representatives of the State Education Department. Many of the principals, clergy and administrators of the New York Greek Orthodox schools attended. The New York State Board of Regents joined the conference this year for the first time. Among the many other officials and educators present were: James Anderson of the Office of Nonpublic Schools/New York State Education Department, the two conference co-chairs Rabbi David Zwiebel, director of Agudath Israel of America and James Cultrara, director for Education of the NYS Catholic Conference, Dr. Catherine Hickey secretary for Education of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Marlene Lund of the Lutheran Schools Association and Rabbi Dr. Marty Schloss, director of the Board of Jewish Education. Rev. Fr. Patric Legato of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in Albany NY offered the invocation.
The New York State Coalition of Independent and Religious Schools is comprised of the following organizations: the Agudath Israel of America, the Association of Christian Schools International, the Board of Jewish Education, the Lutheran Schools Association, the NYS Association of Independent Schools, and the NYS Catholic Conference. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is one of its affiliate organizations represented by Maria Makedon, Director of the Direct Archdiocesan District Office of Education who serves on the Chairs Committee.


SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — The Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America has announced preliminary plans for the enthronement of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, at St. Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC, on Sunday, December 28, 2008.

On Saturday, December 27, 2008, at 5:00 PM, Metropolitan Jonah will preside at the Vigil service at St. Nicholas Cathedral.

On Sunday morning at 9:00 AM, the enthronement will take place in conjunction with the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, at which Metropolitan Jonah will preside. Members of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops and guest hierarchs will concelebrate. A banquet will follow the Liturgy and enthronement.

The Chancery is pleased to announce that clergy and faithful wishing to travel to the WashingtonDC area for the enthronement may reserve rooms at the Key Bridge Marriot Hotel in Arlington, VA, at a special guest rate of $99.00 per night. This rate will be available from December 24 through 29. When making reservations, make reference to the Orthodox Church in America. Bookings at the special rate will be open from Wednesday, November 26 to Friday, December 12.


PITTSBURGH, PA [OCA Communications] – From Monday, November 10 through Thursday, November 13, 2008, members of the Orthodox Church in America gathered in Pittsburgh, PA, for the Church's 15th All-American Council. Over 600 delegates and 200 observers attended the Council, which opened with a Service of Thanksgiving celebrated by His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South, Locum Tenens of the Metropolitan See. During his opening address at the Council's first plenary session, Archbishop Dmitri stressed the need for all members of the Church to recommit themselves to the OCA's vision, which is driven by Christ's Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

Council participants also heard a greeting at the opening session from His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania and Locum Tenens of the Archdiocese of Western Pennsylvania. At this session, greetings also were read from His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia [ROCOR], by Archpriest Alexander Lebedev of ROCOR's department of inter-Orthodox relations.

A key item on Monday evening's agenda was a discussion of the Town Hall Meetings held in the summer of 2008 in preparation for the Council. His Grace, Bishop Nikon of Boston, New England, and the Albanian Archdiocese, reviewed the Town Hall process and objectives. He stated that the hierarchs and Preconciliar Commission members who took part in the meetings clearly exprienced the pain, hopes, and concerns of the clergy and faithful in attendance. Bishop Nikon shared his hope that the Town Hall Meetings, together with the All-American Council, would be instrumental in the healing that is necessary in the OCA at this time. Following Bishop Nikon's remarks, a question and answer session began, during which Council delegates presented written questions to the hierarchs. Members of the Holy Synod began responding to the questions at that session, offering additional responses the following day.

Monday's session ended with the celebration of Compline with the Canon of Repentance and a meditation on repentance delivered by Bishop Tikhon, who stressed the importance of understanding one's own brokenness in light of Christ's Passion and Resurrection. It is the reality of the Lord's death and rising again, he said, that gives context and strength in the face of all suffering.

The second day of the Council, November 11, 2008, opened with a hierarchical Divine LiturgyMexico CityUSA and Remembrance Day in Canada, both of which fall on November 11, the hierarchs and military chaplains celebrated a Memorial Litiya for those who had fallen in battle and veterans of military conflicts who had entered eternal rest.

Later in the morning, Council participants were saddened to learn of the that the Archpriest Stephen Karaffa, rector of Saints Peter and Paul Church, Burr Ridge, IL, who was attending the Council, had fallen asleep in the Lord shortly after the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy. At the beginning of Tuesday afternoon's session, Bishop Tikhon served a Memorial Litiya for the repose of his soul.

On Tuesday afternoon, Council delegates discussed the report and recommendations of the OCA's Special Investigating Committee [SIC] that was charged with looking into past financial mismanagement at the OCA Chancery. His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, SIC chair, and other members of the committee moderated these sessions, during which other hierarchs sat among the faithful rather than at a head table. Council participants engaged in a frank, open. and respectful dialogue about the SIC's work, conclusions, and recommendations.

On Tuesday evening, Council participants heard reports from three of the four OCA Chancery administrative team members -- Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, Chancellor; Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, Secretary; and Archpriest Andrew Jarmus, Director of Ministries and Communications. Each officer summarized their written reports, which can be read here. The fourth administrative team member, Priest Michael Tassos, Treasurer, gave his report on Church finances on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 12.

At the end of the day, Council delegates and observers heard responses from OCA hierarchs to a number of the written questions presented to the Holy Synod the previous evening. Among the hierarchs offering responses was Bishop Nikon, who spoke of the need to nurture unity within the Church and stressed that this internal unity was critical before unity with other Orthodox jurisdictions could become a reality. His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate explained the ongoing dialogue between the Episcopate and the Patriarchate of Romania as they examine the possibility of uniting all Romanian Orthodox faith in North America into a single autonomous Church body. Bishop Tikhon also spoke, stressing that the most important task before the clergy and faithful of the OCA was to "seek the light and allow the Lord to act."

What is identified by many as the turning point of the Council came with the words of the first hierarch to speak, His Grace, Bishop Jonah, who had been selected by the members of the Holy Synod to offer responses to questions submitted on Monday evening on their behalf. Bishop Jonah spoke openly and forthrightly about the crisis in which the OCA had been mired over the past several years. He emphasized that the days of leadership by intimidation were over in the Orthodox Church in America. He stressed that Christ-centered leadership is based in love, and that obedience to leadership is cooperation out of love and respect. "Authority is responsibility. Authority is accountability. It's not power," he stated emphatically. He also said that members of the Church must put aside feelings of bitterness, acknowledging that these emotions are harmful to oneself and to others -- especially to those who are closest. Instead, he added, the Church's clergy and faithful must choose to move forward in love. Bishop Jonah's honest and heartfelt answers drew such a positive response from Council participants that in the hearts of many the necessary outcome of the following morning's session seemed clear.

On Wednesday, November 12, several clergy involved in misison work across the OCA concelebrated at a Divine Liturgy at which Bishop Jonah presided. In his homily, Bishop Jonah said that the task of evangelization not only belongs to people who go out to establish new parishes, but is the work of every Christian. "Each and every one of us has been anointed with the gift of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to reveal through our lives, through our actions, by how we treat one another -- by the nature of our relationships -- and then by our words that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, that Jesus Christ has given us forgiveness, if we repent," he said. "And that Good News of forgiveness of sins, of repentance, is what our world is so longing to hear."

Following the Divine Liturgy, the much anticipated special session at which a new Metropolitan of All America and Canada would be elected commenced. According to the OCA Statue, delegates at an All-American Council vote for a candidate or candidates to be considered for election by the Holy Synod of Bishops. If the delegates select one name with two-thirds majority vote on a first ballot, this name is forwarded to the Holy Synod. If no name receives the two-thirds vote, a second ballot is taken and the top two names are forwarded to the hierarchs for consideration. On the first ballot, the two hierarchs receiving the greatest number of votes were His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest, and Bishop Jonah; neither received the two-thirds majority. On the second ballot, Archbishop Job and Bishop Jonah again received the greatest number of votes, after which their names were submitted to the Holy Synod of Bishops for consideration and canonical election.

The members of the Holy Synod retired into the the chapel's altar for prayerful deliberation. Shortly thereafter, Archbishop Dmitri announced that "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to this sacred Council of the Holy Orthodox Church in America, to elect this 12th day of November, 2008, to the office of Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Bishop Jonah of Forth Worth. Axios!" The announcement of Bishop Jonah's election, who had received the greatest number of votes on both ballots, brought an overwhelming, joyous response from Council participants. Amid chants and calls of "Axios -- He is worthy!!" Bishop Jonah was brought into the midst of the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful and installed as the new Metropolitan of All America and Canada.

After the Rite of Installation, the newly-elected Metropolitan remained in the plenary hall, blessing the clergy and faithful who approached him to offer their prayerful best wishes. News of Metropolitan Jonah's election quickly spread, especially via the internet, and it was not long before greetings from hierarchs, clergy, and faithful from other parts of the US and Canada and throughout the world began to be received as well.

On Wednesday afternoon, Council participants turned their attention to reports on the financial state of the Church. During this session, moderated by OCA Treasurer, Priest Michael Tassos, delegates first heard a report from Mr. John Barrone, a partner in the accounting firm of Weiser LLP engaged in the external audit of the OCA's 2007 financial statements. Mr. Barrone stated that his firm would be issuing a qualified opinion on the 2007 financial statements, as a result of inadequate accounting records related to the time period addressed by the SIC. He concluded by stating that what was necessary to maintain good financial practices in the Church was a proper attitude toward the importance of sound accounting procedures, competence among financial personnel, and diligence in assuring that financial practices are appropriate.

Later during this session, the OCA's internal audit committee, chaired by Archpriest Paul Suda, reported that with only a few minor exceptions, financial matters at the OCA Chancery were in good order. He attributed this to the diligence of the Chancery's financial staff under the supervision of Father Tassos.

To present the financial report, Father Michael was joined by Archpriest Matthew Tate, chair of the Metropolitan Council Finance Committee. Father Matthew reviewed the steps taken by the Metropolitan Council over the past four years to address the financial mismanagement that had taken place at the OCA Chancery. One of the significant changes implemented by the Metropolitan Council was to no longer pass deficit budgets, which in some cases had been as great as $1.2 million.

Father Michael then presented an outline of his activities as Treasurer from the time of his appointment in November 2007, including a review of the 2007 financial statements. He continued by reviewing Church finances to date in 2008. He concluded by listing a number of action items that require attention, which include expenses related to legal matters; ensuring that financial reporting is done in a regular, timely, and accurate manner; and implementation of the Blackbaud accounting software. He further emphasized that, while finances must be cared for properly and responsibly, the life of the Church was not about money, but about doing the work to which Christ had entrusted to His People. Keeping finances in order helps to ensure that the Church can do its primary task effectively.

The final financial report of the day was given by Archpriest Michael Westerberg, Group Leader of the OCA Pension Board. Father Michael noted that approximately 62% of eligible OCA clergy are members of the Pension Plan. He also noted that as of November 7, 2008, the Pension Plan was worth over $19,000,000.00. Although the worth of the Plan had dropped as markets dipped, the worth increased from 2007. In response to concerns resulting from pending legal actions against the Church, Father Michael stated that the plan's assets are separate from those of the Church. All Pension Plan assets belong to participants.

Wednesday's sessions concluded with a formal dinner for Council participants, guests, and faithful from local OCA parishes. Special dinner guests included His Grace, Bishop Mark of Toledo and the Midwest of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, who was present at the Council throughout the day, including at the election of Metropolitan Jonah. Another special guest was Archpriest Alexander Lebedev, who represented ROCOR Metropolitan Hilarion.

The keynote speaker at the dinner was the OCA Chancellor, Father Alexander Garklavs, who stated that conflicts are not new to the Church. He said that the scandal the OCA faced was "a sign of our coming of age." It represented a part of the maturation process of the Church. Acknowledging that there will be ongoing challenges in Church life, he stated that the faithful will persevere to a large extent through the legacy of the Church's living Tradition. He then went on to speak directly to the clergy, stating that although very difficult at times, the priestly ministry is the most noble of vocations. He concluded by expressing his gratitude to the members of the local planning Committee and the volunteer staff that assisted them. He also thanked the clergy of the Church and the Holy Synod of Bishops. Referring to the election of Metropolitan Jonah, he stated that, although there are complaints that the bishops do not speak out enough, this day they spoke out clearly without even saying a word.

Other presenters during the dinner were Mr. Nick Chakos of International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC] and Priest David Rucker of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center [OCMC], both of whom highlighted the work of their respective organizations. Both presenters made it clear that ministry, such as that undertaken by IOCC and OCMC, is the core work of the Church.

The final speaker of the evening was Metropolitan Jonah, who began by stating again that Christian leadership is grounded in service, not in power. He went on to share his vision of the work that lies before the OCA, stressing that the heart of the Church's work was ministry, such as campus ministry and evangelization. These ministries provide a safe haven and a place for healing in a society filled with pain and disillusionment. He also identified inter-Church relations as an important priority for the OCA; in order to be respected and affirmed by other Churches, he said, it is essential that the OCA respect and affirm them as well. The most important thing that each believer can do, he stressed, is to live out the Orthodox faith and life, making a new commitment to spiritual discipline and sacramental life. He further stated that making this commitment bears much fruit in one's personal life and ensures that the initiatives taken on by the Church are filled with grace.

The final day of the Council, Thursday, November 13, 2008, coincided with the the Feast of Saint John Chrysostom. The hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrated by Metropolitan Jonah, who in his homily reflected on the words of the day's Gospel reading from Saint John, in which Jesus identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd, Metropolitan Jonah spoke of the task of the pastor. "When we exercise our own pastoral office in whatever context it is, whether it’s the father in a family, whether it’s the mother in a family, whether it’s the priest in a parish, a bishop in a diocese, or -- I will be finding out -- the Metropolitan of a local Church, we come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly, that they might be filled with joy, that they might be able to banish despair, that they might have hope." He continued by stating that the only way this life is achievable is for the faithful to place Christ above all else, because "very few things cannot be worked out and resolved if we approach them with good will, if we approach them keeping Christ first and foremost as the criteria of our life and our judgment."

Following the Divine Liturgy, delegates gathered for the closing plenary session. The first item on the agenda was a continuation of the discussion on Church finances initiated on the prior evening. A central issue was the approval of the per capita assessment for the next three-year term, which included a discussion on the resolution proposed by the Diocese of Western Pennsylvania to reduce the assessment to $50.00 per adult member. In the ensuing discussion, Metropolitan Jonah shared is conviction that funding the central Church by a "head tax" must come to an end. The proper way to fund Church life is through the biblical model of tithing -- a target of 10% giving. He identified the goal of scaling down central administrative operations so that they may be funded by tithes received from dioceses. However, he added that it will take time for the Church to embrace this model as a whole, and that in the interim there are financial needs that the central administration must meet. He said that a radical reduction in assessments would not allow the Church to meet its responsibilities and would hinder the effective operations of the central Church, including the work that he would be able to accomplish as Primate.

After much discussion, Council delegates passed a per capita assessment of $105.00 per adult member for the next three-year term. With this decision, the Council also expressed the expectation that the OCA would move to a model of percentage giving for funding the work of the Church, ideally by the 16th All-American Council. A related motion stated that dioceses may pay their assessments by means of proportional giving during the next three years instead of waiting for this issue to be discussed at the next All-American Council.

Delegates also heard a brief presentation from OCA General Counsel, Mr. Thaddeus Wojcik, who defined his role as OCA general counsel "as helping Church leadership comply with the law." Another brief presentation was given Mr. George Caravakis of the Orthodox Health Plan, who spoke about plan benefits and announced that the plan was having an open enrollment through the month of November.

The final session of the All-American Council also heard a report from the Council's Resolutions Committee, chaired by Archpriest John Erickson. Among the resolutions considered, Council delegates unanimously recognized former OCA Treasurer, Protodeacon Eric Wheeler, who brought to light the financial mismanagement at the OCA Chancery, and offered an apology to him for the mistreatment that he had endured as a result of his actions.

New officers to serve on the Metropolitan Council and Pension Board also were elected. The clergy delegates elected to the Metropolitan Council were Archpriest David Garretson, Saints Peter and Paul Church, South River, NJ, who will serve a six-year term, and Archpriest Theodore Bobosh, Saint Paul the Apostle Church, Dayton, OH, who will serve a three-year term. Elected as Metropolitan Council lay delegate for a six-year term was Dr. Faith Skordinski, while Protodeacon Peter Danilchik was elected to serve a three-year term. The alternate delegates are Priest Thomas Moore, Holy Apostles Church, Columbia, SC, and Dr. Paul Meyendorff.

Clergy members elected to the OCA Pension Board were Archpriest John Zdinak, St. Theodosius Cathedral, Cleveland, OH, and and Priest Gleb McFatter, St. Demetrius Mission, Naples, FL, who will both serve six-year terms, and Priest John Hopko, Saints Cyril and Methodius Church, Terryville, CT, elected to serve a three-year term. Archpriest John Adamcio, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Chicago, IL, was elected alternate. Lay members elected include Mr. John Sedor, elected to serve for six years, and Mr. Gregory Shesko, who will serve for three years. Mr. Martin Brown will serve as alternate.

Delegates also passed an amendment to the OCA Statue which mandates that the Metropolitan Council appoint members to the Church's internal audit committee and requires that all members of this committee be qualified with appropriate financial experience. The other proposed statue amendments, concerning the procedure for electing a Metropolitan, was tabled with the hope that, given the age of Metropolitan Jonah, the need to elect a new Primate would not arise for many years to come.

The overwhelming majority of participants at the Council spoke of the gathering as a watershed moment for the Church. Many delegates and guests shared the belief that what was accomplished came to be by the action of the Holy Spirit. In a spirit of open dialogue, "speaking the truth in love," and with the election of a new Metropolitan, participants stated that they could return to their parishes to report that the OCA had turned a corner and that there was much hope for the Church's future.

More information about the 15th All-American Council and about Metropolitan Jonah is available on the OCA web site and will be featured in the Nativity/Theophany issue of "The Orthodox Church" magazine, which also will report on the installation of Metropolitan Jonah at the end of December 2008. Further details and minutes will be posted as soon as they become available.
concelebrated by Archbishop Dmitri, Bishop Tikhon, and His Grace, Bishop Alejo of and the Exarchate of Mexico. At the end of the Liturgy, in honor of Veterans Day in the


Ukraine Greets her Primate on his Birthday

On Sunday, November 23, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church celebrated his seventy-third birthday anniversary.

On that day a great number of clergymen and faithful from many corners of Ukraine came to the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra to greet their Primate and to pray together with him.

On the occasion of the feast His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr in concelebration of the synaxis of the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church served the Divine Liturgy in the Refectory Church dedicated to Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of the Kyiv Caves of the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. At the worship service the Primate ordained to the holy diaconate the assistant of the head of the parish council of the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ and his subdeacon Victor Ivashchuk.

Following the Divine Liturgy the hero of the day received congratulation of numerous guests: clergy, politicians, public and cultural leaders and god-loving flock at the Gallery of Arts "Lavra". On Tuesday, November 18, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church received the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko at his residence in the Holy Dormition Kyiv -Pechersk Lavra. The head of the state greeted His beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr and offered him an ancient icon as a gift.On November 23, in the course of the greeting part of the celebration of the birthday anniversary of His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr the Prime Minister of Ukraine Yuliya Tymoshenko greeted the Primate of the UOC over the phone.

On November 24, the leader of the Party of Regions Victor Yanukovych made a visit to the Primate of the UOC. The people's deputy presented Metropolitan Volodymyr a bunch of roses and wished him good health and high spirits, success in his difficult work on restoration of the moral and spiritual foundations of the society.

On the eve of his birthday, November 22, His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr received greetings from Archbishop Pavel of Vyshhorod, the Superior of Lavra, who presented a suit of bishop's vestments to the Primate, and a magnificent bunch of red roses. On November, 24 at the Synodal Hall at the Metropolitan's residence His beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr received greetings of the teachers, students and alumna of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary with their rector - archbishop Anthony of Boryspil at the head. Vladyka thanked the Primate of the UOC for his care and patronage of the Theological Schools. Finally the guests sang "many years" to the Primate.


UOC Primate Blessed Holodomor Victims Memorial

On November 22, in the framework of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Holodomor (Ukrainian Famine) of 1932-1933, His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr at the request of the President of Ukraine blessed the newly-built monument in honour of the victims of Holodomor, which had been built near the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in the Park of Glory.

Concelebrating with His Beatitude were the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. At the divine office Secretary General of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople archimandrite Elpidoforos (Lambriniadis), who came to Ukraine at the invitation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was also present.

After the blessing rite the Litia was served "for the repose of the souls of the deceased and starved by hunger by the godless power". Praying at the office for the dead was President o Ukraine Victor Yushchenko with wife, Prime-Minister of Ukraine Yuliya Tymoshenko, Kyiv city mayor Leonid Chernivetskyi, Presidents of Latvia (Valdis Zatlers) and of Lithuania (Valdas Adamkus), representatives of many foreign states, diplomatic corps and religious confessions.

Finally the ceremony of laying flowers and pots with candles to the Memorial took place, and right before the beginning of the office for the dead the names of the victims of genocide.

REFERENCE In compliance with the Decree of the President of Ukraine the Memorial was constructed in the complex of high cranberry wood, the monument to the victims of Holodomor, the museum and the scientific methodic centre of Holodomor studies in Ukraine. The project was realized by the collective under the guidance of the people's artist of Ukraine Anatoly Haydamaka.


Beloved children of the Church, dear Ukrainians!

By God's Providence, we have another occasion for a paternal address to you. The Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, hereby again addresses you to share with you not only joy, but also the grief caused by the Holodomor.

The few sons and daughters of the Ukrainian nation whom the Lord helped to survive at the time of the Ukrainian tragedy, the Holodomor of 1932-1933, increasingly often are leaving forever their homes, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Therefore, our address is first of all to young people representing the future of the Ukrainian state.

Together with you, we seek to comprehend not only the number of Ukrainians killed by the famine, but, above all, the causes which led to the tragedy. Let us leave the study of the political and social causes to secular scholars. We will try to look at the Holodomor from the Church's viewpoint. Why did Ukraine, which from ancient times supplied bread to countries which lacked it, begin at a peaceful time to starve more severely than any European nation did in times of war?

The power of the newly-established state on the territory of the collapsed empire replaced the star of Bethlehem with one of human blood, and in place of Christ's purple, which absorbed the holy blood of the Savior of the world and which has been its holy banner, leading to eternal life and always followed by believing people, the red flag began flying, which made the innocent blood of the best sons and daughters of your nation invisible.

As soon as an oppressor comes to power, he does not care about the good of the governed native nation or respect its spiritual, cultural and material values. He knows well that sooner or later the people will begin to see and get rid of the yoke. Therefore, to ensure a long rule, it is necessary to terrorize the titular nation. The preserved historic documents of the Soviet Union are rich in information about the nationality of the repressed. The overwhelming majority of the destroyed, imprisoned or exiled people were Ukrainians who were nationally conscious or good managers. The inspirers, organizers, managers and chief executors of the extermination of the Ukrainians were people who can be described with the words of Jesus Christ: "You belong to your father, the devil... He was a murderer from the beginning..." (Jn. 8:44)

Three holodomors, repressions, and war should have become for you, the Ukrainian nation, a stimulus to spiritual purification, moral improvement, return to your forefathers` Christian tradition with its own Church and internal Christian spirituality and not an imported external, formal Christianity verging on the worship of ritual. And our visit to Kyiv for the celebration of the 1020th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus-Ukraine showed us the real sons and daughters of the Ukrainian Church, who pray to God and not to man, even if he holds a high post. We saw that even the terrors of the 20th century did not break the backbone of the nation, did not make the Ukrainian a slave and obedient executer of other people's intentions.

We call all to turn their faces to Kyiv, to Ukrainian spiritual shrines, religious and cultural, to the Ukrainian nation: all people born in Ukraine have one and the same mother, Ukraine, which should be served by everyone, without exception, both those vested with power and "small" citizens. Remember the Savior's words: "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand." (Matt. 12:25)

Dear Ukrainians! Your past, whether joyful and victorious or sad and tragic, especially the Holodomor, will always remain with you, even when you try to forget, diminish or distort it to please your neighbors. The following words of the Apostle Paul apply to you: "Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to." (1st Cor. 7:24) Your calling is to be good Christians within the ancient Ukrainian Church tradition and citizens of Ukraine, as well as to witness unanimously to the tragedies of the Ukrainian nation in the 20th century, especially the Great Holodomor of 1932-1933, to the world. It is your duty to the memory of your great grandparents, grandparents and parents, for there was no tragedy in human history when more representatives of a single nation were destroyed in one peaceful year than during the several years of a war. And no matter what anyone says or if they try to belittle the evil, this is the clear sign of genocide.

Children of Christ's Church, dear Ukrainians! In the days of remembrance of the victims of the Great Holodomor of 1932-1933, especially on its 75th anniversary, your Mother-Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, grieves together with you and expresses its deep and sincere sympathies to all of you and Ukraine's President, Viktor Yushchenko, who represents Ukraine before the world and through whose persistent efforts the world learns increasingly more information about the terrible tragedy of Ukrainians in the 20th century. We bring our prayers to our Lord Jesus Christ and ask the Most Gracious Savior to give rest in holy dwellings to the souls of all those killed by the Famine and admit them to the assembly of His Martyrs as those innocently killed. May their memory live forever and may the heavenly blessing of the Most High be on you who are alive!

At the Phanar, 20 November 2008
+ Bartholomew
Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch


Mething of the Three Orthodox Primates

Meeting in the Coptic Patriarchate of Cairo, His Holiness Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia and His Holiness Patriarch Shenouda III released a joint declaration with regard to the sad incident between Armenians and Greeks in Jerusalem recently. The Spiritual Leader of the Syrian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Patriarch Zakka I expressed his support for the declaration. In their joint declaration the spiritual leaders expressed sadness at the clashes between the two groups. They emphasized the respect for the historic rights of all churches in Jerusalem and the importance for resolving misunderstandings and sensitivities through mutual understand. The declaration also stressed the need to strengthen Christian unity in the Middle East. His Holiness Aram I visited Cairo on a one-day trip to meet with Patriarch Shenouda II. He was accompanied by Bishop Nareg Alemezian.


From the Editors: Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Rector of Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA, and Secretary of Inter-Orthodox Relations of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, participating as an observer in the All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, read the following greeting during the opening of the event:

Your Eminences! Your Graces! Esteemed Reverend Fathers and Honored Delegates to the XV All-American Council! I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

The events of the past years have been momentous for the Holy Church of Russia and for our Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. After 80 years of separation, which had resulted from the attempts of the God-fighting communists to destroy the Church in Russia, and which caused millions of Orthodox Christians to flee abroad, we have achieved reconciliation and established canonical and Eucharistic communion between the two parts of the Russian Church, in the homeland and beyond its borders. This is a sign of the great mercy of God, showing us that no matter how deep divisions may seem between us, people of good will on both sides can come together and achieve unity in Christ—as our Lord said, --“that all may be one, as We are.”

We are gratified that this reconciliation gives us the opportunity to stretch out a brotherly hand to the Orthodox Church in America and to the other Orthodox jurisdictions sharing this continent, and to strive to work together, as brethren in Christ, in fulfilling our mission here.

With the Orthodox Church in America we share a common heritage—the legacy of the holy Patriarch Tikhon, and we share the same two goals in our service in the new world: to preserve the great spiritual and liturgical traditions of the Russian Church and to reach out in missionary efforts to bring the treasures of Holy Orthodoxy to the people in these lands.

We look with joy at the positive fruits of our cooperation that have already appeared: the close collaboration of our Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville with both St. Vladimir’s and St. Tikhon’s Seminaries. There is much more that we can do together, including developing youth programs, Orthodox educational materials, liturgical resources, and active missionary work. We ask that the Lord send His blessings upon this august assembly, the XVth All-American Council, and pray that this Council will work with one heart and one mind toward the benefit of the Holy Church of Christ.

+ Hilarion,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia


Moscow, November 18, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate believes actions of Bolsheviks that caused mass famine of the 1930s should be decisively assessed, but urges to renounce attempts to consider the tragedy genocide.

"The theme of mass holodomor of the 1930s gives grounds for thinking both in Ukraine and in Russia. Kiev should understand that this tragedy didn't affect only Ukrainian people, and Moscow should decisively condemn Bolshevik actions that resulted in mass famine," Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin told Interfax-Religion on Thursday. It is evident for him, that these "actions were consciously aimed to wipe out the whole classes of nation." He also fully agrees with the position of the Kiev vicar Bishop Alexander of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky who said about the position of the Ukrainian Church to holodomor as genocide: "We tried to avoid this word, because genocide is a crime of one nation against another."

"Genocide is historically defined as an act committed to annihilate people on national or religious basis, and it wasn't the case with mass famine of the 1930s," the priest is convinced.

"There were social repressions. People of various nationalities suffered, peasants suffered as they were Christian and contrary to the myths of Soviet propaganda didn't destroy churches, but stood for them, rebelled against Bolsheviks and didn't want to put up with collectivization and other monstrous experiments on Russian, Ukrainian and other peoples," Fr. Vsevolod said.

According to him, "Bolsheviks indeed tried to annihilate peasants as a class Russia was based on and actions of that times so-called Bolshevik power should be decisively assessed.' The interviewee of the agency said that "these crimes may and should be named unacceptable, unprecedented annihilation of our own people on social basis." According to him, it is also necessary to pay homage to the victims of mass famine on national level.

"There is no one to try for this crime - the Lord Himself judged the guilty if they didn't repent, but I believe that to call crime a crime, to call the involved structures criminal, would be very useful not only for assessing the past, but for creating decent future as well," the Russian Church official said.



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