International Orthodox Christian News

Russian Orthodox mission has first service in Belfast

Russian Orthodox mission in Belfast has had its first Orthodox Communion service - known as the divine liturgy.It was celebrated in Slavonic and English by Father George Zavershinsky, right, and Deacon Nikolai from the Moscow Patriarchate parish of St Peter & St Paul in Dublin.

The liturgy took place on Saturday, December 20, in the St George's church in the city centre, made available by the Church of Ireland.

It was well-attended by mostly Russians and a number of local Orthodox. After the liturgy Fr George performed the first Russian baptism service in Belfast.

The events were the fruits of more than a year of planning and preparation.

Organisers say this was done to begin serving the spiritual needs of the Russian-speaking community in the Belfast area. The Russian Orthodox mission in Belfast welcomes both Russian-speaking immigrants and others interested in the Orthodox Christian Tradition. The next liturgy is planned for January 24.


The Serbian Orthodox Church

to her spiritual children at Christmas, 2008


By the Grace of God

Orthodox Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch, with all the Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church to all the clergy, monastics, and all the sons and daughters of our Holy Church: grace, mercy and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, with the joyous Christmas greeting:

Peace from God! Christ is Born!

Every year, dear spiritual children, and so it is this year as well, we anticipate and welcome Christmas, the birthday of the Son of God, with joy, faith, hope and love. Why? Because it is in this event that the "fullness of time" was fulfilled, and so God the Father, "gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). This event is the fulfillment of all cosmological and historical events: everything that had happened in God's creation and mankind's history received in that day "which the Lord had made" its fulfillment and realization. The entry of God into the innermost part of life represents, also, a fulfillment of all of mankind's deepest yearnings as attested and proclaimed in all earthly nations before the birth of Christ. With His birth, the light of the knowledge of God shone forth. In that Divine light the meaning of the world, nature, and the ultimate goal of man's existence and the existence of all creatures, both visible and invisible, was revealed to us.

In Christ God, Whom we in the Creed confess as "the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made; being of one essence with the Father, through Whom all things were made, Who, for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and became man..." - the victory has been realized once and for all over imperfection, sin and death. With the manifestation of the fullness of His Divinity and His unification with human nature, man's fullness and perfection has also been realized. Without mingling or change, the undivided unity and community of the divine and human natures in the God-man Jesus Christ bestows upon the world and man humanity, through the indestructible truth and the eternal, Divine-human community which is God's Church.

From the day of Christ's birth the world is not nor can it ever be that which it was before. Man's nature and the world, filled with the yeast of eternal Life, received the potential to be a new man, a new heaven and a new earth, a new eternal mankind. This is why Christ was the only one Who could say these words: "Behold, I create everything new" (cf. Rev. 21:5). He, as "the Only new under the sun," eternally renews everything that exists; His Light enlightens everyone and everything, enlightening every man that comes into the world (cf. John 1:9).

As such, Christ is the "fullness of the Law and Prophets" as He Himself said: "I did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it." (Matthew 5:17) This word - "to fulfill" - has dual meaning: to accomplish, on the one hand, and to give to the world fullness and perfection, on the other hand, so that we humans and the world may be filled and grow in Him until, as the divinely wise Apostle Paul says: "we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).

It is on this all encompassing truth about the Person Christ, as the beginning and the endlessness of all that exists, that everyday life is founded, and which enlightens man's way of life and behavior. This is why we always come back to the Nativity of the God-child, His Theanthropic work, with which we enlighten our own works and our relationship with each other, with God and with His creation.

With His birth as a man, the holiness of every birth and of all life is affirmed. It is fearful to imagine - let alone to accept and legalize as something normal - that defiling attitude towards the sanctity of life which would allow that even the Mother of God could be a child killer, just as are many contemporary women who kill their offspring in their wombs. Those mothers who kill their children become not only child murderers, but also God murderers, since every human being is a God-bearer and Christ-bearer. We will mention only one distressing and sad example of one mother who gave birth to a few daughters, and together with her husband wanted to have a son. When she conceived again, because the doctor wrongly determined that she was carrying another girl, she underwent an abortion, despite the pleas of her husband and others. It was discovered after the fact-oh, how heartrending-that she was carrying two boys, twins! What then, can comfort and heal this unfortunate mother's deep wound?! May our Lord have mercy upon her and all other child destroying mothers who, in their selfishness or some similar reason, sacrifice their most holy gift from God. Don't they turn the mother's womb - that workshop of life - into a shop of death and nothingness!

The selfishness and self-indulgence of man, such as that cited above, leads to the endangerment and misuse of the very nature into which we are born and live. As man lives and breathes with love, likewise all creatures and all nature's elements need mercy, love and goodness: the water which we drink, the air that we breathe, the flowers and trees in the field, the fish in the sea, the beasts in the mountains, the domestic animals - all yearn for mercy, love and goodness. If we misuse any part of creation or infect and pollute it - it becomes alienated, falls apart and disintegrates, and retaliates against its abusers. In this way the God-given order is broken : water loses its healthiness, and so does the earth, and with it the earthly fruits are polluted, and in turn they contaminate those who consume them - man and other living beings. The climate is changing, the ice is melting in the North Pole, the change of seasons is diminishing; the rising heat is preparing the globe to be one day, God forbid, consumed in fire.

Together with this, contemporary man, in conquering with his technology far-flung territories, imperils the living space of numerous other beings. Instead of turning to the inner spiritual dimensions which are limitless and conquering those territories which endanger no one, but rather which give fullness to all things, opening up inexpressible horizons of growth and perfection - instead, man turns to that which is by it's very nature limited and transient, and thus himself becomes limited and crippled. The real and true fullness of all things is precisely the Theanthropic Person of Christ in Whom is the "plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God" (Ephesians 3:9). When "Christ enters into our hearts through faith," only then can we be "rooted and grounded in love...comprehending with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Aside from this, today's mankind is very concerned with the beginning of a severe economic crisis. More frequently than not, it is overlooked that the crisis is not only economic, but rather its nature is more complex and deeper. Is it no wonder that it is manifested first of all among the wealthiest: the most frightened are those who are the most affluent. Their unquenchable greed for money and enjoyment, their over-consumption of natural and material goods, produces an imbalance in human relationships - the relationship towards the deepest mysteries of life and the relationship towards the entire creation. This means that behind the economic crisis is hidden a spiritual and moral crisis, and with that a crisis of all of mankind. It has been rightly stated that the economic crisis is connected with political calamity; as is the disregard for international rights and the ignoring of the United Nations Charter on human rights - as well as the extinguishing of justice in general, engenders a political crisis, and this in turn engenders economic and financial chaos. The law and justice, both God's and man's, are ignored because of lust for power and economic interest. The consequences of placing the economic and global interests of the world's mighty ones above justice and human rights are best seen in the tragic situation of our country and of the Serbian people, as well as other countries and peoples in the modern world.

The new hedonistic-utilitarian myths, today placed on the pedestal of divinity and propagated with all the modern means, are endangering most of all those most innocent and least able to repel them: children and youth. Drugs and immorality, the narrowing of life to instinct and the satisfaction of carnal lusts, the desire of the eye and of vanity (cf. 1 John 2:16), are the fruit of these ancient myths dressed in new and eye-catching clothing.

In the midst of all this we Christians, as before and as always, "wait for Christ, and not better times" (St. Nicholai of Zicha); we wait for Him Who is "the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow." We always go back to Him - "to a Young Child, the pre-eternal God," as the absolute measure and criterion of everything that happened and happens in all of human history. In Him as God's Son and Man's Son, as perfect God and perfect man "we have known and believed the love that God has for us" (1 John 4:16). Since God appeared to us with His Birth and lived with us, we know that "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this..." (1 John 4:16-17), and with "this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also" (1 John 4:21).

In the name of such a God Who is Love, and in the name of such a Love to which all peoples and nations are called, we greet you all, dear spiritual children - most especially you in the suffering Kosovo and Metohija and throughout the world, with the greeting of God's truth, justice and eternal love:


And may the crown of the goodness of the new year of our Lord be blessed!

Given at the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade, at Christmas, 2008.

Your prayerful intercessors before the Divine Christ-Child:

Archbishop of Pec,
Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and
Serbian Patriarch PAVLE

Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana JOVAN
Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Coastlands AMPHILOHIJE
Metropolitan of Midwestern America CHRISTOPHER
Metropolitan of Dabro-Bosna NIKOLAJ

Bishop of Sabac-Valjevo LAVRENTIJE
Bishop of Nis IRINEJ
Bishop of Zvornik-Tuzla VASILIJE
Bishop of Srem VASILIJE
Bishop of Banja Luka JEFREM
Bishop of Budim LUKIJAN
Bishop of Canada GEORGIJE
Bishop of Banat NIKANOR
Bishop for America and Canada (New Gracanica Metropolitanate) LONGIN
Bishop of Eastern America MITROPHAN
Bishop of Zica CHRYSOSTOM
Bishop of Backa IRINEJ
Bishop of Great Britain and Scandinavia DOSITEJ
Bishop of Ras and Prizren ARTEMIJE
Retired Bishop of Zahumlje and Hercegovina ATANASIJE
Bishop of Bihac and Petrovac CHRYSOSTOM
Bishop of Osijek and Baranja LUKIJAN
Bishop of Central Europe CONSTANTINE
Bishop of Western Europe LUKA
Bishop of Timok JUSTIN
Bishop of Vranje PAHOMIJE
Bishop of Sumadija JOVAN
Bishop of Slavonia SAVA
Bishop of Branicevo IGNATIJE
Bishop of Milesevo FILARET
Bishop of Dalmatia FOTIJE
Bishop of Budimlje and Niksic JOANIKIJE
Bishop of Zahumlje and Hercegovina GRIGORIJE
Bishop of Valjevo MILUTIN
Bishop of Western America MAXIM
Bishop of Gornji Karlovci GERASIM
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand IRINEJ
Vicar Bishop of Hvostno ATANASIJE
Vicar Bishop of Jegar PORFIRIJE
Vicar Bishop of Lipljan TEODOSIJE
Vicar Bishop of Dioclea JOVAN
Vicar Bishop of Moravica ANTONIJE

Archbishop of Ochrid and Metropolitan of Skoplje JOVAN
Bishop of Polos and Kumanovo JOAKIM
Bishop of Bregal and locum tenens of the Diocese of Bitolj MARKO
Vicar Bishop of Stobija DAVID


(December 18, 2008) The Turkish foreign ministry and the state bureaucracy are trying to diminish the importance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for all of Orthodoxy. The shortcomings and errors of the report on minorities in Turkey . Putin hopes to visit Bartholomew. "We will never permit tricks or the vagaries of history to wipe us out from this land": the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, has commented on the report of the Turkish foreign ministry, which denigrates the "minority" presence of the Greek Orthodox community in Turkey , and refuses to recognize the "ecumenical" character of the ancient patriarchate. Presiding over the reopening of the church dedicated to Saints Constantine and Helena in the Bozakoy neighborhood in Istanbul , Bartholomew I highlighted for the faithful present that "we are not finished, or hopeless." And recalling the great battle of Greek king Leonides against Xerxes of Persia, he added: "we will never abandon our Thermopylae ." It seems that the Turkish foreign ministry is trying to make the Ecumenical Patriarchate "disappear," continuing to call Bartholomew I "the patriarch of Fanar [editor's note: the neighborhood where the Ecumenical Patriarch resides]," refusing to use the title "ecumenical" and acknowledging only that he has spiritual responsibility for the domestic Greek minority, and not for the Orthodox communities connected to Constantinople. It also seems almost a concession from above to accept that Bartholomew I uses the title "ecumenical" abroad. All of this has an impact on the juridical status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, on its freedom to travel abroad, and to host foreign delegations in Turkey. This position has been reaffirmed in a report on the minorities in Turkey, presented by the foreign ministry in parliament, the details of which have been released recently. The report states that according to the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), the patriarchate of Fanar is allowed ecumenical status: its presence and residence in Turkey is only in function of its service to the religious needs of the Orthodox, Turkish citizens who because of the persecutions and expulsions of the past have been reduced to a small minority of 3,000 souls, with an average age of 60. But the report does not say that this interpretation is not accepted by the international community, and is also contested by eminent Turkish personalities like Professor Baskin Oran. The report also excludes the possibility of reopening the theological school of Halki , in the name of state secularism, but does not say that the Turkish state, secular (and Sunni), finances mosques and schools for imams. The curious thing is that the report on the minorities should be produced by the foreign ministry. In this way, Turkish citizens are in practice considered foreigners in their own country, under the constant and vigilant observation of the Turkish bureaucracy. The report also contains manipulations of a political nature. In order to demonstrate to the world the magnanimity of the Turkish state toward the Orthodox minority - especially in view of entry into the European Union - the fact is cited that in Turkey , there are at least 270 places of worship for the Orthodox. But it says nothing about the fact that all of these were built before the foundation of the Turkish republic, during the Ottoman Empire , which, although it was a Muslim state, defended the minorities much more than the current state does. The report also talks about the "interest" that the United States allegedly has in supporting the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. This "interest" is due to the fact that the United States would like to counterbalance the importance and influence of the Church of Moscow. "It is clear," says an Orthodox source, "that the bureaucracy of Ankara wants to diminish the importance of the Patriarch after the reconciliation between Moscow and Constantinople, in Kiev and during the pan-Orthodox summit. "Besides," continues the same source, " Turkey was highly disturbed by the emphasis that the Russian media gave to the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Bartholomew at the funeral for Alexy II." On that occasion, the Head of the Patriarchal see of Moscow, Metropolitan Kyril of Smolensk, praised the role of Constantinople. And even Prime Minister Putin thanked Bartholomew I and expressed his desire to visit the see of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.


Skopje. A new church will be built in Tetovo, the first one after 80 years, Makfax's correspondent reported, Makfax reports.

The new religious object will be constructed in the north part of the town, at a 3,000 square meter-site located near the sports hall. The total investment is estimated at about 1 million euros. The funds will be provided through citizens' donations, and a portion of the needed resources will be allocated by the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

The announcement of the tender for the architecture design and the execution of the construction works of the new church building is expected to be published after New Year's holidays. The idea for the new church was initiated by the citizens of the Tetovo's District of Boris Kidric with support of the Tetovo's clergy, under blessing of the Metropolitan Kiril. Tetovo's local authorities have already adopted the decision for building of the new religious temple.


Baltimore, MD — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) announces a new program that will help farmers in Greece’s Peloponnese region to significantly increase their production yield. Through a $1.3 million grant from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and other supporters, IOCC will construct a soil lab in the Peloponnese to help farmers analyze the condition of their soil and water in order to determine what crops to cultivate and what kinds of fertilizers to use.

This is the third grant that the Archdiocese has provided to help farmers recover their livelihood since the devastating wildfires of 2007 which destroyed cattle, grazing lands and significantly altered the composition of soil and polluted water sources. The Pancretan Association of America will also assist in the lab’s funding with a $75,000 grant to IOCC.

Previously, farmers willing and able to test their soil had to send samples to Athens and wait an average of three weeks for the results. Farmers often think of testing their soil very close to the agricultural season and the three week waiting period is impractical. “The availability of a soil lab in the Prefecture would return results within a matter of days and encourage more farmers to test their soil,” said Alex Machaskee, IOCC Board Chairman. “Environmentalists and agronomists agree that this will help the Peloponnese to recover economically and environmentally.”

This latest grant from the Archdiocese will also provide a two month supply of feed for up to 80,000 animals, benefiting 1,000 farming families whose lands were completely destroyed by the fires of 2007. “We are grateful to the Almighty for the devoted faithful of our Archdiocese of America whose magnanimous generosity enabled us to respond in such a substantial way from the onset of this catastrophe,” said His Eminence Archbishop DEMETRIOS of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

The 2007 fires were Greece’s worst wildfires in a century and killed 61 people and over 25,000 cattle and sheep. More than 500,000 acres of land were damaged and destroyed, amounting to about 5% of Greece’s territory. IOCC has provided nearly $4 million in relief and development programs to the Peloponnese since September 2007, including 3,100 tons of animal feed and 60 tons of forage seed to replant grasslands.

Help us speed relief to families in the Peloponnese that are still feeling the effects of the 2007 wildfires. Visit, call IOCC toll free at 1-877-803-4622 or mail a check or money order payable to “IOCC” and write “Greece Wildfires” 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.


WASHINGTON, DC [OCA Communications] – On December 29, 2008, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America met at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC. Members of the Holy Synod were in Washington for the Enthronement of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, on Sunday, December 28.

The first order of business at the meeting was a discussion of the preparation for the strategic plan that was mandated by the OCA's 15th All-American Council in Pittsburgh, PA, November 10 to 13, 2008. The hierarchs heard a presentation from Metropolitan Council members Protodeacon Peter Danilchik, Deacon John Zarras, and Dr. Dmitri Solodow, on possible processes for developing the plan. In his comments, Metropolitan Jonah stressed that strategic planning must be carried out under the initiative and guidance of the Holy Synod, but that it is critical that the planning process also involve the Metropolitan Council and the Church at large. The Synod will further discuss the development of the strategic plan at a meeting in mid-January in Mexico City, coinciding with the Enthronement of His Grace, Bishop Alejo of Mexico City and the Exarchate of Mexico, and also at their coming retreat in February.

Other business at the December 29 meeting included a progress report on St. Tikhon's Monastery, Book Store and Seminary, and the appointment of the Lesser Synod. For the year 2009, members of the Lesser Synod will include, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest, and His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West.

A number of episcopal candidates were also reviewed at the meeting. The discussion of possible episcopal elections will be continued at the Synod's 2009 spring session, when candidates, and elections are normally considered.


New Chairman Appointed for Orthodoxy Beyond Limits

Orthodoxy Beyond Limits Online Forum has a new Chairman. Mr Lejith George been appointed as the new Chairman by Very Dr Kyriakose Thottupuram, Director-OBL on 25/12/08. Mr George Alexander, former Chairman resigned from his post on 20/12/2008. He will assume charge of the public relations department of OBL hereafter.

The New Chairman will officially take charge of the office from the first of January, 2009. Vice-Chairman of OBL, Mr Subin Varghese officially thanked Mr George Alexander for all his commendable services and also expect him to do more help to the forum as head and in charge of the Public Relations Department.

Orthodoxy beyond Limits is an Online Forum for Orthodox Christian Unity and Faith, which is online since 2007. It has around 1500 readers worldwide.

Special News By:
Mr Boaz Reji John
Project Manager-OBL

WASHINGTON, DC [OCA Communications] -- On Sunday, December 28, 2008, His Beatitude, the Most Blessed Jonah, Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, was enthroned at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC.

In attendance at the Enthronement were members of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops and guests representing several Orthodox Churches in North America and abroad. "Unfortunately, because of poor travel conditions in some regions, not all of those who were to take part in the Enthronement were able to join us," said OCA communications director, Archpriest Andrew Jarmus.

Among the guest hierarchs and clergy that were able to attend the Enthronement were His Grace, Bishop Mercurius, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, who represented His Eminence, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Patriarchal Locum tenens of the Church of Russia, His Grace, Bishop Ilia of Philomelion, representing His Beatitude, Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durres, and All Albania, and His Eminence, Archbishop Abel of Ljublin and Kholm representing His Beatitude, Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland.

Hierarchs from North American jurisdictions taking part in the Enthronement included His Eminence, Metropolitan Christopher of the Serbian Orthodox Mid-western Diocese, His Eminence, Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada, His Grace, Bishop Thomas of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America and His Grace, Bishop Jerome of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

"In addition to visiting hierarchs, we welcomed Fr. Mark Arey, the ecumenical officer of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, who represented the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Archpriest Jan Polansky, representing the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia and Archimandrite Kirill Hovorun who represented the Church of Ukraine."

"We were also honored to have with us the Russian Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency, Mr. Sergei Kislyak," Fr. Andrew noted.

"Among other participants," Fr. Andrew said, "we were looking forward to having Ancient Faith Radio [AFR] join us to broadcast events from the Enthronement on the Internet. Unfortunately, they were among those who were unable come to Washington because of complications with their travel plans. This was disappointing for both the OCA and AFR. However, OCA Communications will be providing AFR with audio files to post on their web site."

Although unable to attend in person, His Eminence, Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland conveyed his greetings in a message read at the Enthronement banquet. Archbishop Leo wrote that the election of Metropolitan Jonah revealed that the vocation of the OCA is to bring to Orthodoxy the hope that affairs in the Church do not always have to be conducted "in the same unproductive way" and hope "that the future can be good." His Eminence said that much that is not possible in Orthodox churches elsewhere in the world can be done in North America, and he encouraged Metropolitan Jonah to continue the OCA's tradition of "innovative continuity."

In his banquet address, Metropolitan Jonah said that the Church can keep the message of hope alive only if all of its members keep their eyes fixed on Jesus Christ alone. He stated that the vision of the Church had been very narrow in the past and that it was time to broaden it to include the work of bringing all people into communion with the Father. He said that this will only be achieved as members of the Church become the living presence of Christ in the world, "going into highways and byways to bring in whoever may come."

His Beatitude also stressed that Orthodox unity in North America is a goal to which all the faithful here must strive. He stated that unity is not only a canonical or institutional imperative, but the will of God. It is God who calls His faithful to put aside the things that separate them from one another. However, Metropolitan Jonah said, the task of achieving unity in North America must be carried out with utmost respect and love for the other Orthodox churches of the world who have faithful here.

His Beatitude called the Enthronement a celebration of new birth in the OCA. Making reference to the process of strategic planning mandated by the 15th All-American Council earlier this year, Metropolitan Jonah said that it was time for the OCA to overcome old ways of being Church and to reevaluate every aspect of its life. This process of reevaluation, he said, must involve the Holy Synod of Bishops, the Metropolitan Council and clergy and faithful from all corners of the Church. He stated that the thing most needful was to put aside personal opinions and preferences for the sake of the Church. "Overcoming ourselves," His Beatitude said, "is a tremendous ascetic act."

Metropolitan Jonah was born James Paffhausen in 1959 and was baptized into the Episcopal Church. His family later settled near San Diego, CA, where he was received into the Orthodox Church in 1978. After completing studies at UCSC, he attended St. Vladimir's Seminary, Crestwood, NY, from which he graduated with a Master of Divinity degree in 1985 and a Master of Theology in Dogmatics in 1988. He went on to pursue studies towards a Ph.D. at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, but interrupted those studies to spend a year in Russia.

In Moscow, while working at the Publishing Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, he was introduced to life of the Russian church, in particular monastic life. Later that year, he entered the Valaam Monastery, where he received a blessing to become a priestmonk. He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1994 and in 1995 was tonsured to monastic rank at St. Tikhon's Monastery, South Canaan, PA, having received the name Jonah.

Returning to California, Fr. Jonah served a number of missions and was later given the obedience to establish a monastery under the patronage of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco. During his time building up the monastic community, Fr. Jonah also worked to establish missions in Merced, Sonora, Chico, Eureka, Redding, Susanville, and other communities in California, as well as in Kona, HI.

On Saturday, November 1, 2008, Fr. Jonah was consecrated Bishop of Fort Worth and Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of the South. On Wednesday, November 12, 2008, he was elected Archbishop of Washington and New York and Metropolitan of All America and Canada at the 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America in Pittsburgh, PA.

"Going into the Council, the then-Bishop Jonah was not considered a likely candidate for the office of Primate, simply because he was new to the episcopacy," Fr. Andrew said. "But on the evening before the election, he gave a presentation on the current state of the OCA, on where we have been in recent years and where we need to go. He spoke in such a forthright, honest and loving manner. By the time he finished, I think that for many the choice the following day was clear. Almost anyone in the room the day Vladyka Jonah was elected Metropolitan will tell you that the movement of the Holy Spirit in the process was palpable."




Preliminary plans announced for Enthronement of His Grace Bishop Daniel as a Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA

The Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA has announced preliminary plans for the Enthronement of His Grace Bishop Daniel as a Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, 2238 West Cortez Street, Chicago, IL, on Saturday, 7 February 2009. On Friday, 6 February 2009, at 5:00 PM, Bishop Daniel will preside at the Vespers service at the Cathedral.

The Enthronement will take place following Hierarchical Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA Metropolitan Constantine along with His Eminence Archbishop Antony and the visiting hierarchs. The Greeting of the Hierarchs and Divine Liturgy will begin at 9:00 a.m.

The Consistory will host an Agape Feast following the Enthronement service. Information regarding tickets to the Feast will be published within a few weeks along with further information regarding the entire program.


NEW YORK – Archbishop Demetrios announced today that the Special Committee overseeing the Greek Fire Relief Fund of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America allocated $1,294,934 to assist those impacted by the 2007 wildfires in Greece.

This amount will fund two important projects to be coordinated by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). The first project will help build a Soil Laboratory in the affected region. The second will continue the Livelihood Recovery Project III, a program for farmers in the Prefecture of Ileia, the region that suffered the greatest destruction.

“We are grateful to the Almighty for the devoted faithful of our Archdiocese of America whose magnanimous generosity enabled us to respond in such a substantial way from the onset of this catastrophe,” wrote Archbishop Demetrios in a letter to IOCC, announcing the Committee’s decision to approve these two proposals.

Since its inception, the Fund has collected over $4.1 million. With these two latest allocations, the Archdiocese has distributed over $3,315,000 in assistance to farmers and firefighters in the Prefectures of Ileia and Arcadia. Immediately after the fires, in the Fall of 2007 the Archdiocese gave over $250,000 to provide 442 metric tons of feed to almost two thousand farmers and in January of this year, gave another $1,652,998 to continue this critical program which has greatly assisted hard-hit farmers with 2,685 metric tons of animal feed and forage seed. Last September the Fund donated $117,322 to supply the firefighters in Pyrgos with 215 fire shelters, which will improve their safety and enhance their ability to effectively combat wildfires. There are several proposals that the Committee will review in the New Year.

These latest endeavors will greatly assist the Prefecture of Ileia to recover its agricultural production following the devastation of 2007. The new Soil Laboratory will enable farmers to determine how best to revive production and rehabilitate the soil which has been impacted not only by the fires and the chemicals used to extinguish them, but also by years of haphazard use. Until now, farmers in the area have had to send soil samples to Athens and wait an average of three weeks for results. A local laboratory will facilitate those farmers as well as encourage many others to take advantage of this innovative program. The Livelihood Recovery Project III will assist those farmers whose lands have not recovered from the devastation and do not yet produce sufficient quantities of forage to sustain their animals especially during the winter months.

Archbishop Demetrios serves as Chairman of the committee overseeing the Greek Fire Relief Fund. Committee members are Michael Jaharis, vice-chair of the Archdiocesan Council; Aphrodite Skeadas, president of the National Philoptochos; Steven Yeonas, chairman of Leadership 100; Peter Kikis, president of the Faith Endowment; Anthony Limberakis, national commander of the Order of St. Andrew and Andrew Natsios, past administrator of USAID who has extensive experience in effectively coordinating international philanthropic assistance.


Protocol 101/08

December 25, 2008
The Nativity of Christ And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
Full of grace and truth;
(John 1:14)

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On this most joyous day, our Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and the fundamentally life-affirming and awesome consequences that flowed from this miraculous event. The birth of Jesus Christ was nothing less than the entry of salvation into our world. It was at that singular defining moment in history, a moment of cosmic significance, that God the Word became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ, and began to dwell among us. This is what is meant by the above-cited passage from the Gospel of John, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

That the Almighty God freely chose to become a human being, in every manner like us except for sin, is a concept that is unique and central to our Christian faith. It is, in fact, a quite radical concept: because God became a human being, we have been offered the ability to appreciate anew the exalted status of what it means to be a true human being. Equally radical was the divine and saving plan behind the manner by which God chose to enter our world and our human condition. Even though it was within His power, our God did not enter our world clothed as an earthly monarch seeking to acquire worldly dominion and control over those who might be called subjects. Rather, He came as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), Whose desire was to restore all human beings to a relationship with God permanently bonded by love, to herald the coming of a heavenly Kingdom, and to loose all human beings from the bonds of death. And this is what is meant by those familiar and beautiful words of Saint John, the Evangelist, which we truly take to heart on this most magnificent day: For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

My beloved Christians,

These words are especially important on this day of Christmas since we are living at a time when in our world we are experiencing heavy levels of anxiety due to many ordeals. Some of these ordeals include the present state of our global economy, the rising of unemployment, the problems related to the use of energy, the health of our environment, and the continuing presence of terrorism and civil unrest. In the face of such tremendous stress, we take comfort that our loving and Almighty God Himself took on all kinds of ordeals. Indeed, the newborn Christ took on all the evils, sins, and pains of the entire humanity, and He transformed these ordeals into hope, strength, peace and resurrection. Therefore, even in the midst of difficulty, we experience the joy of hope and love that we spread abundantly to others.

On this day I extend to all of you my fervent prayers that the divine light of our Incarnate God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who is born to us on this day, may shine forever in your hearts and homes as a brilliant beacon of hope, joy, and love throughout this Christmas season, and indeed on every day of this New Year 2009 now at hand; and may His infinite mercy, protection, and peace be with you always.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America

See a Video Christmas Message by Archbishop Demetrios.



CAIRO - Egypt’s Coptic pope has banned the faithful from confessing their sins to priests over the telephone because intelligence agents might be listening in, a newspaper reported on Friday.

“Confessions over the telephone are forbidden, because there is a chance the telephones are monitored and the confessions will reach state security,” the independent Al-Masri Al-Yom quoted Pope Shenuda III as saying.

The leader of the Coptic minority also said confessions over the Internet were invalid because they might be read by websurfers.“A confession over the Internet does not count as a confession, because everybody can look at it and it won’t be secret,” he said.

The sacrament of confession, also practiced by Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians, is normally a very private conversation between penitent and priest.

Unlike Roman Catholic confessions, Coptic confessions are done face to face.

Coptic Patriarch Anba Morcos said that people have begun to phone in their confessions.

“It’s a new thing; it’s been happening for the past four or five years,” he said.

Morcos added that Pope Shenuda has also banned monks in Coptic monasteries from using cell phones.

“The monk is supposed to be secluded from the world. But the mobile phone brings the world to him,” he said, adding that monastery administrators were allowed to keep their cell phones.

The Vatican does not recognise confessions by telephone or over the Internet.

Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, has said “confession requires the physical presence of the priest and the penitent.

“Privacy is absolutely not guaranteed on Internet, and there is no certainty as to the identity of the two parties to the communication. You can’t have confession by e-mail, any more than you can have it by telephone or letter.”



By the Mercy of God

Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Plenitude of the Church

Grace, peace and mercy from the Savior Christ, born in Bethlehem

Beloved brethren and children in the Lord,

The great and sacred day of Christmas has dawned, the metropolis and mother of all feasts, inviting each of us to spiritual uplifting and encounter with the Ancient of Days, who became an infant for us.

As St. John of Damascus underlines: “By the grace of God the Father, the only begotten Son and divine Word of God, who is in the bosom of the Father, consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the pre-eternal and perfect God, who is without beginning, condescends to us as His servants, becoming fully human and achieves that which is newer than new, the only new thing under the sun.” (On the Orthodox Faith) This incarnation of the Son of God is not merely symbolical, like the other incarnations of the numerous gods in mythology; it is reality, a truly new reality, the only new thing under the sun, which occurred at a specific historical moment in the reign of the Emperor Octavian Augustus some 746 years (according to new astronomical data) since the establishment of Rome, in the midst of a specific people, from the house and line of David (Luke 2.4), in a specific place, namely Bethlehem of Judaea, with a very specific purpose: “He became human in order that we might become divine,” in accordance with the succinct expression of Athanasius the Great. (On the Divine Incarnation 54).

The event of incarnation of God’s Word grants us the opportunity to reach the extreme limits of our nature, which are identified neither with the “good and beautiful” of the ancient Greeks and the “justice” of the philosophers, nor with the tranquility of Buddhist “nirvana” and the transcendental “fate” or so-called “karma” by means of the reputedly continuous changes in the form of life, nor again with any “harmony” of supposedly contradictory elements of some imaginary “living force” and anything else like these. Rather, it is the ontological transcendence of corruption and death through Christ, our integration into His divine life and glory, and our union by grace through Him with the Father in the Holy Spirit. These are our ultimate limits: personal union with the Trinitarian God! And Christ’s nativity does not promise any vague blessedness or abstract eternity; it places “in our hands” the potential of personal participation in God’s sacred life and love in an endless progression. It grants us the possibility not only “of receiving adoption” (Gal. 4.5) but also of becoming “partakers of divine nature.” (2 Peter 1.4).

Of course, amid the global confusion and crisis of our time, these truths have a strange echo. Most people’s hope, resting on worldly “deities,” is falsified on a daily basis in the most terrible ways. The human person is humiliated and crushed by numbers, machines, computers, stock markets, and diverse flags of vain ideological opportunism. Nature is blasphemed; the environment groans; young people despair and protest against the injustice of the present and the uncertainty of the future. “Darkness, clouds, storms and noise” (Deut. 4.11) prevail in our world, giving the impression that even the light of hope that dawns in Bethlehem is threatened with extinction and the angelic hymn of universal joy – “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to all people” (Luke 2.14) – is in danger of being overcome. Nevertheless, the Church calls everyone to sober attention, re-evaluation of priorities in life, and pursuit of divine traces and value in every other person of respect toward the image of God. Indeed, the Church will not cease to proclaim – with all the strength acquired by its two millennia of experience – that the child that lies in the manger of Bethlehem is “the hope of all ends of the earth,” the Word and purpose of life, redemption sent by God to His people, namely to the whole world.

We share this good news with much love from the martyric Throne of the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople, proclaiming it to all children of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to every person that thirsts for Christ, invoking upon all of you the mercy, peace and grace of God, together with the saving gift of the only-begotten Son of God, who came down from the heavens – for us and for our salvation – and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, becoming human. To Him belong the glory, power, honor and worship, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, to the ages.

At the Phanar, Christmas 2008
Fervent supplicant to God for all


On the afternoon of 27
th November 2008, His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, accompanied by His Grace Gabriel, Bishop of Mareotis, Patriarchal Vicar of Alexandria, went to the Alexandrian Library where the inauguration of the Hellenistic Studies Centre as well as the significant Velimezi-Margariti Icon collection Exhibition took place. His Beatitude made the following address at the function which is under the aegis of His Excellency the President of Greece Mr Karolos Papoulias and Mrs Susan Mubarak, First Lady of Egypt:

“Alexandria, of art, letters, culture, spiritual research, and man’s ascending to God, famous to the ends of the universe and untouched by the ravages of time once again opens the doors of history here at the Alexandrian Library and welcomes the excellent exhibition of icons from the collection of Velimezi-Margariti.

It is undoubtedly a unique event, because, looking t these brilliant ecclesiastical works, which are the artistic tangible expression of Orthodox faith and teaching, we come to know the historic outcome of their formation, from their beginning, to the technique of Fayum of the ancient Egyptian culture up until their final shaping in the spiritual bosom of Byzantine art.

A meeting, then, of cultures from within the transforming power of faith! A visible expression of the soul’s need to portray high and venerable emotions! A spiritual fragrance, emanating from the finest chords of human substance. Holy artifacts which were respected by the centuries and were preserved by the nations within the changes in the autocracies which prevailed over the ages, so that today, we, the citizens of the 21st century can enjoy them and through them we can remember that even in contemporary times when creation is revered and the Creator God is unknown, man can still adorn the earthly world with unique and inspired works.

We worthily congratulate the organizers of this exhibition which is under the aegis of the President of the Hellenic Republic , Mr. Karolos Papoulias and Mrs. Susan Mubarak, the First Lady of Egypt, the country which surrounded us with so much love, honour and respect and to which we wholeheartedly express our deep and sincere gratitude.

We congratulate Messrs. Emilio and Christos Margaritis, who donated the icons from the Collection of Velimezi-Margaritis to the Benefit Insitute “Alexander Onasis” which, under the Chairmanship of the Hellene from Egypt Mr. Antonios Papademetriou, and his colleagues, are inaugurating in the city of Alexander the Great, this great exhibition.


His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, on receiving the news of the passing of Patriarch Alexios II of Moscow and All Russia, during the Divine Liturgy at the Church of St Savvas the Sanctified in Alexandria, served an emotional prayer for the repose of the soul of the Primate of the Russian Church and spoke of him to the many faithful present, about the spiritual bonds which united him with Patriarch Alexios II for many years.

His Beatitude had bonded with the deceased Patriarch from 1985 when he was appointed Exarch of the Alexandrian Patriarchate to the Russian Church , but more especially from 1986 following the sudden passing of Patriarch Nicholas VI of Alexandria in Russia , while on an official visit. The then Metropolitan of Leningrad, later Patriarch Alexios II, fully supported the Alexandrian Exarch in his responsibilities for the preparation and transfer of the remains of Patriarch Nicholas VI, accompanying him to Egypt.

During his tenure as Patriarch, the late Alexios II surrounded with paternal love the and concern from 1990 the Bishop of Cyrene and Exarch of the Alexandrian Church in Russia, now Patriarch Theodoros II, and supported in all ways the Ancient Patriarchate, especially following the elevation to the Apostolic and Patriarchal Throne of St Mark in 2004 of His Beatitude Theodoros II.

In October of 2007, His Beatitude paid an official Conciliatory visit to the Church of Russia, within the framework of which he had the opportunity to have private contacts with the late Patriarch Alexios II, whom he met in Constantinople for the last time on the 11th and 12th October 2008 at the Synaxis of the Primates called by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios.

Immediately following the passing of the Russian Primate His Beatitude sent the following Patriarchal letter of condolence to the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia:

Protocol Numbe: 583

To the Holy Synod

of the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia


Your Eminences and Holy Brothers,

On the sad news of the passing to the Lord of the late Patriarch Alexios II, who guided the Holy Church of Russia most skillfully for many years and under whom we, personally, while serving as Exarch in Moscow, received his assistance and support, through this fraternal letter we pass on to you and all the Hierarchs, clergy and the faithful people of Russia our heartfelt condolences and we pray the Lord of Eternal Life will number him among the Saints and the Righteous, and appoint a worthy successor.

We wish you also a long life, with the blessings of divine treasures and gifts, and we remain yours in the Lord’s love.

Your beloved brother in Christ,


Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa

In the Great City of Alexandria
5th December 2008


Washington, DC [OCA Communications] -- Hierarchs, clergy and faithful from parishes throughout the Orthodox Church in America are gathering in Washington, DC, this weekend for the Enthronement of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah at St. Nicholas Cathedral.
"In addition to members of the OCA, we are looking forward to welcoming several guests from other Orthodox Churches," said OCA communications director, Archpriest Andrew Jarmus. "Joining us from Europe will be His Eminence Archbishop Leo of Karelia and all Finland, and His Grace Bishop Abel representing the Church of Poland, together with clergy representing the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia and the Church of Ukraine. Also joining us will be hierarchs and clergy from our sister jurisdictions here in North America. We also look forward to the presence of the Russian Ambassador to the United States."
The weekend's events will begin Saturday evening, December 27, at St. Nicholas Cathedral, with the Vigil celebrated by Metropolitan Jonah. On Sunday morning, December 28, Metropolitan Jonah will celebrate the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with the other members of the OCA Holy Synod of Bishops and guest hierarchs and clergy. The Divine Liturgy will conclude with the Enthronement rite. Following the services at the Cathedral, a banquet in honor of His Beatitude will be held Sunday afternoon at the Wardam Park Marriott in Washington.
"At the 15th All-American Council in Pittsburgh last month, Ancient Faith Radio was our official media partner," Fr. Andrew said. "We are very pleased that we will have Ancient Faith Radio with us again this weekend covering the Enthronement." In preparation for the Enthronement, Ancient Faith Radio has posted the first of a two-part interview with Metropolitan Jonah on "The Illumined Heart" Internet radio program. The second part of the interview will be posted on Friday, January 2, 2009. "The Illumined Heart" interview with His Beatitude may be heard at
Reports on the Enthronement of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, along with photos and links to audio and video files will be posted as they become available. They may be found on a special Enthronement page of the web site.

This new volume written by His Holiness treats issues pertaining to inter-church and inter-religious dialogue, ecumenism, church and society relations and human rights. Most of the articles included in the book have already appeared in Aram I’s previous volume, “For a Church Beyond Its Walls”. The preface of the book is written by Dr. Jean-Arnold de Clermont, President of the Conference of European Churches. The publication of this volume is made possible through a generous contribution from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Moscow, December 25, Interfax - Locum tenens Metropolitan Kirill has sent felicitation messages to the heads of Churches celebrating Christmas on December 25.

"In these holy days we deeply call on every person who professes Christianity to testify before modern society eternal spiritual and moral values annunciated by the Savior and God," Metropolitan Kirill's message obtained by Interfax-Religion on Thursday reads.

The locum tenens wished that God gives "mirth, peace, competence and His generous help to Your high service."

The message was sent Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany Wolfgang Huber and the leaders of other Churches and Christian communities that celebrate Christmas on December 25.


Moscow, December 19, Interfax - Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will conduct Christmas service in Antarctica. "On the Christmas Eve, the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will make a special tour to the Southern Pole," initiators of the expedition told Interfax-Religion on Friday. January 7, 2009, Metropolitan Hilarion together with Archbishop Ignaty of Petropavlovsk and Kamchatka will conduct the Christmas liturgy service in the Patriots' Hills (the central inland part of Antarctica).

This trip was blessed by Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II and Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

A mobile Orthodox church is being put up for this purpose.
Members of the Russian Antarctic Expedition, specialists of Tsentrospas (central air-mobile rescue team) of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Agency on Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring take part in the organization and execution of the mission.

"The participants are sure that this mission will foster further reunification of the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church, reinforce the international standing of Russia and allow attracting the world community attention to spiritual values," a spokesperson told the agency. 

Moscow, December 25, Interfax – The Moscow Patriarchate Holy Synod speaks for developing all-round dialogue with the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Members of the Synod, who met on Wednesday in Moscow, believe this dialogue should touch upon a wide range of themes on peacekeeping, church cooperation, strengthening spiritual and cultural relations between peoples under jurisdiction of the two Churches.

The Synod is also satisfied with the visit of the Georgian church delegation to the Russian capital on November 5-10, 2008.

Members of the delegation concelebrated with Patriarch Alexy II at the prayer service in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior on November 5 when Moscow welcomed relics of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki. Patriarch Alexy II and Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad conducted talks with them on November 6. The delegates also met with Russian Foreign Ministry leaders during their visit to Moscow.


Moscow, December 25, Interfax – Winner of Miss Universe – 2002 Baptismal Icon: History and Modernity exhibition in St. Petersburg.Television hostess Oxana Fyodorova will open the Baptismal icon was traditionally given to every baby on the day of Baptism. Special measures are taken to make an icon: height of its desk, where the kid’s heavenly protector is depicted full-length, exactly corresponds with birth height of a child while the width of the board equals to shoulder width of the newborn.

Oxana is “the face of Project on reviving traditions of baptismal icon in Russia,” press service of the Russian Club of Patrons told Interfax-Religion. She has already opened similar exhibitions in Tallinn and Paris.

The Russian Club of Patrons started reviving an ancient tradition of baptismal icons late in 2005. About 50,000 baptismal icons were written only during 2006. All the icons are made according to canons of icon painting, which existed 300 years ago.


Kiev, December 26, Interfax - The Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) has said that no one nominated Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine as a candidate for the upcoming election of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.  "What the Ukrainian Orthodox bishops said to their Patriarch cannot and must not be interpreted as a formal nomination of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine for patriarchate," the Metropolitan press secretary Archpriest Georgy Kovalenko said in the comments posted on the UOC website.  The statement comes after several allegations made by the media, which Fr. Georgy said misinterpreted what happened and was said by the UOC bishops to their Patriarch on December 20, 2008.  It was reported that at a UOC Synod session on December 20, Ukrainian bishops told Metropolitan Vladimir that they would support his candidacy during the vote at the Russian Church's Local Council.  This is not a formal synodal or collegiate document but "an informal request by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church bishops to His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir," Fr. Georgy said.

Metropolitan Vladimir "thanked bishops for their trust, but would not respond or formally comment on the request," the Metropolitan's press secretary said.

"The formal nomination of the candidate for Patriarch, including the nomination of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir, should he agree to it, will take place at the Russian Orthodox Church's Archbishop Council on January 25-26, 2009, as provided by relevant regulations," Fr. Georgy said.


Moscow, December 19, Interfax - Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will conduct Christmas service in Antarctica. "On the Christmas Eve, the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will make a special tour to the Southern Pole," initiators of the expedition told Interfax-Religion on Friday. January 7, 2009, Metropolitan Hilarion together with Archbishop Ignaty of Petropavlovsk and Kamchatka will conduct the Christmas liturgy service in the Patriots' Hills (the central inland part of Antarctica).

This trip was blessed by Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II and Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

A mobile Orthodox church is being put up for this purpose.
Members of the Russian Antarctic Expedition, specialists of Tsentrospas (central air-mobile rescue team) of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Agency on Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring take part in the organization and execution of the mission.

"The participants are sure that this mission will foster further reunification of the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church, reinforce the international standing of Russia and allow attracting the world community attention to spiritual values," a spokesperson told the agency.


Orthodox Church of the East (Indian Orthodox Church)

Fr Dr Markose Joseph (SST ) wins the 2008 SB Award for the Best Teacher. Fr Dr Markose Joseph is one among seven the newly elected Bishop designate for the Malankara Orthodox Church. The ordination is to take place in the month of February 2009. Fr Dr Markose Joseph is the Reader and the Director of the Zoology Research Centre in St Stephens College, Pathanapuram (An Arts and Science University College owned by the Mount Tabore Monastery of the Malankara Orthodox Church).

The SB award has been installed by the Kuwait Alumni Association of the St Berchmans College (An Arts and Science University College run by the Archdiocese of Changanessrry of the Syro - Malabar Rite in Kerala). The award ceremony was held in the Antony cardinal Padiyara Hall on 19/12/08 at 3.00 pm. Shri Mons Joseph, Hon’ble Minister for Public Works-Government of Kerala handed over the Shield, Citation and a cash prize of Indian Rs 25001/- Many dignitaries attended the function.

Profile of Fr Dr Markose Joseph, SST


Orthodoxy Beyond Limits News Service

Visit of the Ethiopian Patriarch His Holiness Abuna Paulose to India

The Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church His Holiness Abuna Paulose will visit the Malankara Church from 29-31 December 2008. His Holiness will arrive at the Trivandrum Interational Airport on 29 where His Holiness will be received by H.B. Paulose Mar Milithios Metropolitan and other Metropolitans of the H. Church. By around 7:00 PM His Holiness will reach Catholicate Aramana where His Holiness will be received by the Primat of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Didymus I. On 31 His Holiness will attend the Centenary celebrations of MGOCSM. His Holiness will return on 31 after the short visit to Malankara Church.

Mr Chinthu Maliakal

On the Feast of St. Herman of Alaska, December 13, 2008, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah visited St. Vladimir's Seminary to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and to preside at a Panikhida (memorial) service in honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the falling asleep of Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, who served as the dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary (SVS) from 1962 until his death in 1983. His Beatitude, who was elected Metropolitan of All America and Canada of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) this past November and who is an alumnus of SVS, recalled in his homily at the memorial service the influential words and works of Fr. Alexander.

Calling Fr. Alexander "the most significant person in Orthodoxy in the twentieth century," His Beatitude first remembered the impact that his former teacher had on his own life. "Father Alexander used to say to incoming students: 'You will not save the Church. The Church will save you.' He desired only that we understand the reality of union in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, through an authentic ascetical struggle.

"We are heirs of Father Alexander's vision, ministry, and mission," His Beatitude continued. "His prophetic vision of what the Church can be, in all of its fullness, can come to pass in and through us. If we strive with love and compassion to cast out the works of darkness, then we can let his vision of faith—which transcends mere 'religion'—enter into us."

Concelebrating the divine services with Metropolitan Jonah were seminary chapel clergy, among them Dean Archpriest John Behr; Chancellor Archpriest Chad Hatfield; Associate Dean for Student Affairs Archpriest Steven Belonick; Priest Alexander Rentel, Assistant Professor of Canon Law and Byzantine Studies; and Protodeacon Kirill Sokolov, Associate Chancellor for Systems. SVS seminarians serving included Priest Aaron Warwick and Deacons John Vitko, Peter Robichau, and Gregory Wassen.

Visiting priests who served included Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, Chancellor of the OCA, and Archpriest John Hopko, grandson of Fr. Schmemann and rector of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Church, Terryville, CT. His Grace Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist), formerly of Sendai, also attended the services.


Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, head of the Russian Orthodox Church's representative branch in European international organizations, took modern Western society to task for backsliding on traditional family values.

"The dramatic and unprecedented in scale social sweeping change caused by the "sexual revolution" has affected almost all Western countries. Within less than fifty years, the traditional assumptions about family and sex have been overthrown: they are replaced with the "progressive" norms based on a liberal ideology," Bishop Hilarion said reporting to the First Orthodox-Catholic Forum in Trento, Italy.

According to Bishop Hilarion, quoted by his press-service on Monday, the "sexual revolution" and an upsurge of the feminist movement in 1960s "have resulted in a radical transformation of the family and sexual ethics, and started the avalanche liberalization of legislation in the moral sphere, which continues now."

Bishop Hilarion said that this "has not only drastically changed the image of the Western civilization", but also has created "an impassable gulf between the Western civilizations and those ones which keep the traditional family and sexual ethics."

The "sexual revolution" said Bishop Hilarion, has destroyed "the balance between a man and a woman in the family deeply rooted in the human nature, overturned the idea of maternity, and damaged the image of a husband as a "breadwinner" who is mainly responsible to support his family."

"Now, both a man and a woman are equally concerned with the realization of their own professional potential, and they both have to bear the financial burden of the family," Bishop said.

According to Bishop Hilarion, this is "one of the reasons why the number of large families declines, and the number of families with one or two children and childless families grows, and the total birth rate in the most Western countries goes down during the last years."

"Sexual revolution" Bishop Hilarion said, has lead to "the world-wide campaign for the legalization of abortions," and changed "the traditional negative attitude towards homosexual relations."

Bishop Hilarion believes that only the return to the traditional ideas of the family and marriage, childbirth and the value of human life can reverse the "process of extinction" of the European population.



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