International Orthodox Christian News

Members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, during a formal session, on January 22, 2009 met and discussed with ministers of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Mr. Vuk Jeremic, a Minister of Foreign affairs; and Mr. Bogoljub Sijakovic, a Minister of faith. During the talks they specially concentrated on a question of Kosovo and Metohija and a protection of spiritual and cultural heritage of the Serbian Church and Serbian people on Kosovo and Metohija.Minister Jeremic informed the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops about efforts of the Serbian government to preserve Kosovo and Metohia as an integral part of the Republic of Serbia, as well as on that the international law is the strongest argument in witnessing of our State at the International Justice Tribunal as the defense of the integrity of the Republic of Serbia.Also minister Jeremic reported to the Holy Synod about future actions of the legal team of the Government of the Republicof Serbia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs considering the protection of our people and its sanctuaries in Kosovo and Metohija. He emphasized the necessity of a synergy of the Church and the State in this hard moment for our people in Kosovo and Metohija, especially after the formation of paramilitary organizations - selfnamed as Security Forces of Kosovo, which supported some European countries and other states.

They also discussed the cooperation with the UNESCO in there re-construction of destroyed churches and monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija.


MEXICO CITY, MEXICO [OCA Communications] -- On Sunday, January 18, 2009, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, together with hierarchs from the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, clergy, monastics, and a multitude of faithful from throughout Mexico, the US, and Canada gathered at La Catedral de la Asención de Nuestro Señor in Mexico City to celebrate the enthronement of His Grace, Bishop Alejo [Pacheco-Vera] of Mexico City, as ruling bishop of the Exarchate of Mexico.

With its own ruling hierarch, the Exarchate of Mexico now has full diocesan status in the Orthodox Church in America.

Among those present for the historic occasion were His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South, who for many years served as exarch of Mexico, and several founding clergy Mexican Church, including Priest Ramon Merlos and Priest José Raul Valencia.

Speaking in Spanish, Metropolitan Jonah shared his joy in announcing that the exarchate was being elevated to the status of a diocese, thereby fully equipping the Church in Mexico to accomplish the task Christ has set before it. At the end of the Rite of Installation, each bishop congratulated Bishop Alejo.

At present, the Exarchate of Mexico is made up of nine churches and missions, including Mexico City's cathedral, which minister to several thousand faithful.

"It is good to experience, participate in, and help build the Orthodox Church in Mexico as it now enters into this new chapter of its story," said Subdeacon Abraham Labrada, a Mexican seminarian studying at St. Tikhon's Seminary, South Canaan, PA. The seminary's mission choir sang the responses at Saturday evening Vespers and joined the cathedral choir in singing the Sunday Divine Liturgy.

"It was a wonderful and awe-inspiring weekend, and we were very blessed to be here," said guest choir director, Analucia Perdomo, of St. George Church, Pharr, TX. "Through our many visits over the past several years, we've been blessed to see the Mexican Exarchate grow, become a diocese, and now come into its own. It is great to, in some small way, have been part of it all."

In addition to Metropolitan Jonah and Archbishop Dmitri, other members of the OCA Holy Synod who participated in weekend celebration included His Eminence, Archbishop Nathanial of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; and His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West. Other clergy in attendance included Archpriests Ernesto Rios and Ramon Merlos; Archpriest Dennis Pihach, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Canada; Igumen Nazario Ipac-Uribe; and Priests José Raul Valencia-Salinas, Jorge Barrera-Zermeno, Antonio Perdomo, and José Luis Serna-Estrada; and Priestmonks Victorin Torres-Martinez and Serafin Mendoza Segundo. A number of deacons, sub-deacons and monastics were also present for the weekend.


SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- The Orthodox Church in America has shipped 276 copies of the new edition of the Orthodox Study Bible to Russia for distribution in theological academies and monasteries in Russia and Ukraine

"Several years ago, approximately $65,000.00 was raised in the OCA's 'Bibles for Russia' special appeal," said OCA treasurer, Priest Michael Tassos. "In September 2008, with the assistance of the representative of the Orthodox Church in America to the Moscow Patriarchate, Archimandrite Zacchaeus, an amount of approximately $40,000.00 was transferred to the Russian Bible Society in response to their request that the OCA help fund a project of printing Bibles translated into the Chuvash language."

In consultation with His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, a portion of the remaining sum in the "Bibles for Russia" fund has been used to purchase copies of the Orthodox Study Bible for theological libraries in Russia and Ukraine.

"Fr. Zaccheus has informed us the theological academies in St. Petersburg and Kyiv are particularly excited about having this resource available to their faculty and students," Fr. Michael noted.

"Once the Study Bibles have been shipped and we have the exact figures of what remains in the account," Fr. Michael said, "we will determine how to use the rest of the funds to support the publication and/or dissemination of the Holy Scriptures in Russia."


St. Nina’s Day in Georgia

On January 27, the Georgian Orthodox Church marked St. Nino's Day. In all churches of Georgian Patriarchate will be heldspecial festive prayer. His Holiness Ilia the Second, Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgians, delivered a religious service at Sioni Cathedral.

On January 26, Saint Nina's Cross was brought to the Dusk Prayer and put down at the center of the temple. This is the very cross with which the saint baptized the whole Georgia. The believers will have a chance to visit the cathedral in the evening of January 27 and worship the miraculous cross. Thanks to the prophecy of St. Nina, all Georgians' enlightener and the equal to the prophets, the Christianity was declared the state religion of Georgia in 326, during the reign of the King Mirian and Queen Nana.

The Georgian Orthodox Church marks St. Nina's Memory day twice a year. June 1 is the day when she arrived in Georgia, while January 27 is her death day.


Your All Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, our dear and beloved brother in Christ and concelebrant, we Greet Your Holiness in the Lord, and address ourselves to you.

It is with great joy that we heard the joyous announcement of your most worthy election to the Patriarchal Throne of the Church of Russia .

Your spiritual person, your broad and well known theological knowledge, your many years of experience regarding ecclesiastical issues, especially your love for our Holy Church and the faithful people of God, provide the guarantee for your bright Patriarchal tenure.

We all wholeheartedly, therefore, pray that the Arch Shepherd Jesus Christ will strengthen your All Holiness, in constant health and much strength, and for many years, rightly keeping the word of His Truth, for the commendation and praise of the Russian Church and all Orthodoxy.

In congratulating you again for your most worthy election, we embrace Your All Holiness and remain Your beloved brother in Christ.


Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa

In the Great City of Alexandria
28th January 2008



On 20th January 2009, His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, together with His Grace Nikodimos of Nitria, Patriarchal Vicar of Cairo, visited the Old Age Home in Cairo , where 120 aged of various Christian faiths are cared for. During this visit, which was attended by various high-ranking clergy, representatives of Christian faiths and dogmas, His Beatitude spoke to the aged and gave each one a gift of love.

On 21st January 2209, His Beatitude went to the city of Suez and visited the Holy Church of St Catherine, which is adjacent to the Greek School . His emotion was visible on seeing the place where Hellenism was once rife. The start of the work on restoring the Holy Church is imminent and the costs will be born by Greeks from South Africa .

The Venerable Primate of the Throne of St Mark then visited the ancient church of St George as well as the Greek cemetery in Suez , where he conducted the Trisagion paryers for the Greeks buried there.



On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the massacres of Adana (1909-2009), His Holiness Aram I said: “this sad page in the contemporary history of the Armenian nation should be remembered with due importance and seriousness.” He then continued, “in 2009, the Catholicosate of Cilicia will organize a conference, an exhibition, and will oversee the publication of books and documents related to the Adana massacres.

Based on this decision, the Catholicosate informs the community organizations, academic institutions, scholars and the general public of the following plans:

1) During October 29-30 2009, a conference will be held in Antelias, dedicated to the Adana massacres under the leadership of His Holiness Aram I. All those interested in participating in the event should contact the Catholicosate of Cilicia.

2) A Special Committee, in cooperation with The Department of Armenian Studies of the Catholicosate of Cilicia, will screen and sponsor publications related to the Adana massacres. The Catholicosate invites researchers, scholars, writers and all those who possess relevant works are invited to submit their proposals to the Catholicosate.

3) We invite all Armenians in the community who own valuable artifacts, photos and archive documents that relate to the Armenians of Adana and their massacre, to make them available to the Catholicosate for the planned exhibition.

The deadline to receive all materials is 31 March 2009. All contacts and enquiries should be addressed to:

Bishop Nareg Alemezian

Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia

Department of Ecumenical Relations

P.O.Box: 70 317

Antelias, Lebanon

Tel: +961-4-410001, +961-3-486943

Fax: +961-4-417 971

E-mail :


His Holiness Aram I headed to Dubai, the Unites Arab Emirates on January 29. During his visit to the country and the community, His Holiness will deliver his pontifical address at the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church in Sharja.

He will then preside over the fund-raising event planned to gather donations for funding activities related to the Armenian Cause. The Pontiff will also deliver a lecture at the American University of Sharja and hold a number of important meetings. His Holiness will return to Antelias on February 3.


The Patriarch’s Health Is Stable

Georgian Orthodox Church

Health condition of His Holiness and Beatitude Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgi Ilia II is stable and his life is no more under fear. Last night Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II was moved to scientific Research institute of Clinical Medicine. Patriarch has had virus influenza, high temperature, and is health got worse. Currently, all danger symptoms have been removed and His Holiness feels better. Later, it will be known when the Patriarch leaves the Todua Clinic.


In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

"A new king is born in Bethlehem
Bless (Him) sons of mankind,
For He became incarnate for us."
Armenian Church Hymnal

Dear pious faithful in Armenia, Artsakh and the Dispersion,

With songs of praise and prayers of thanksgiving we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ today, conveying the good news of the incarnation of God and the revelation of the Savior.

The prayerful fathers of our Church called the Holy Nativity a "mystery great and wondrous". They named it as such, since it is impossible to describe how the uncontainable, the eternal and the boundless was contained in a manger; how the Word and Wisdom of God was born in a stable of incognizant animals. It remains beyond the comprehension of the human mind how the Only Begotten Son of God – the Creator’s Light of Glory – became a created being, and the Lord took on the form of the servant.

We do not know how this great miracle of God came to pass nor can it be explained; however we do know the reason for the miracle, "For He became incarnate for us". Truly, these few words explain the Almighty’s providential will, guiding and directing the Holy Nativity and Theophany.

God is Lord and Creator "of heaven and earth, of things visible and invisible". His glory is shown by His temporal and spiritual creations – the universe, mankind and the angels. The God of all has no need for body nor time. The Savior seated on the eternal throne of God had no need to descend from the heights of heaven to this sinful earth. The Prince of Peace had no need for persecution, torture, and crucifixion; there was no need for a crown of thorns, death, or resurrection. But all of this the Savior took upon Himself for our sake. The Love of God took on flesh to liberate us from the power of sin and death, and to make us worthy of the blessedness of eternal life. "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins." I John 4:10. God Whom we lovingly worship does not desire our death or condemnation, and for that reason He Himself came to live within us. He came to transform our lives, to grant us the hope of salvation and eternal life.

Indeed, our songs of praise and giving of thanks have no value, if within the depths of our soul we do not have the unshaken faith that God "became incarnate for us". Our prayers will not be heard, if God does not abide in the very center of our existence.

Holy Nativity marks the beginning of reconciliation between God and man; it is the invitation to inherit eternal life and the exhortation to remain under the grace of salvation with Jesus Christ. God revealed Himself to us in His fullness, so that we do not remain apart from that fullness of divine and human perfection, and so that our lives hoping for salvation become satiated with that fullness of perfection. We believe that God is one. Is unity not essential for us? We preach that God is love. Do we not feel the need for love? Can we live without love? Can we create without love? God, to Whom we constantly pray, is holy, righteous and benevolent. Let us examine our hearts – do we not feel the need for holiness? Let us examine our actions – are they always truthful, good and benevolent? We declare that God is just. Do we not long for justice every hour of every day? We confess that God is our Father; that He is merciful, the unending source of peace and the grantor of goodness. Is peace not our daily appeal and wish? Does the earth not yearn for mercy and care every day? He who recognizes God in this manner, cannot live without Him; cannot live without binding his own hope for salvation with the faith of the incarnation of the Son of God; and cannot live without aspiring to always be under His blessings and graces.

The world loses its path without the light from the star of Bethlehem. Without Christ, the world will always be in distress, troubled and lacking morality. Material progress alone will not secure the avoidance of crisis situations, the prevention of conflicts and discord, or the elimination of disasters and poverty. The disregard of spiritual values and the tendencies of secularization unequivocally damage sacred traditions, distort moral concepts and understanding, as well as the inner-world of man, causing him to be indifferent to and alienated from God, from himself and the world. It is God who sustains the human soul. Human life shall be repaired by the soul that loves God and the power of faith, so that there is no blurring of the boundaries between philanthropy and egoism, so that there is no failure to differentiate between the just and the unjust, truth and falsehood, good and evil. Many issues shall be decided, many disparities shall be leveled and wounds shall be healed by the discerning comprehension and belief that the Son of God became man for our sake. This example of perfect love is light and direction for our lives and a commission to work with love. "Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another; and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." Colossians 3:12-14.

Dear faithful Armenians, on the "great and wondrous" feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany, our Church commemorates the holy baptism of Jesus Christ with the Blessing of the Waters service, so that through the graces of Christ’s revelation to mankind, the blessed water be distributed throughout our families, increasing the love and blessings of God in our lives. Through our baptism, we are adopted by God. Through our baptism, we are one – regardless of where we may be; we are the sons and daughters of our Holy Apostolic Church, our nation and our homeland. Let us live and work with this sense of unity and love towards one another, so that we may be empowered to overcome all difficulties and challenges, to progress toward the achievement of our hopes and aims. As the oldest Christian nation and as God’s people, let us bring our participation with our God-pleasing lives in the creation of a peaceful and prosperous world – a world filled with solidarity and happiness. Today our Lord and Savior comes to live within our hearts and to renew us with His grace. Let us receive the Lord in our souls, be reinforced with faith, and remain loyal to our spiritual inheritance and Christian values. With reliance on our Lord and Savior and the steadfast hope and strength granted from Him, let us make our lives flourishing in all aspects, continue to build our native land, and care and strive for the manifestation of all national aspirations and the rights of our people in Artsakh. May our virtuous works and benevolent souls filled with love towards one another always shine brightly in our lives, whereby we shall bear witness that we love God.

It is with these emotions, prayers of joy and warm Pontifical love, from the cradle of our faith – the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin – that we greet all sons and daughters of our people in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora.

With fraternal love in Christ, we greet the incumbents of the hierarchal sees of our Holy Apostolic Church: His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; His Beatitude Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem; His Beatitude Mesrob Mutafyan, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople; and the oath-bound ranks of our clergy.

We extend our Pontifical blessings and greetings to the President of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsian; the President of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh, Bako Sahakian; all state officials of the Armenians, and leaders and representatives of diplomatic missions accredited to Armenia.

On this grace-renewing day of the Holy Nativity, let us offer thanksgiving with prayers to God in heaven for the blessings and consolation He grants us; for the successes and achievements in our ecclesiastical and national life, and ask that He care for us with His boundless love as is His will. May He make us worthy to remain steadfast on His path, reinforce us, illuminate us and make His saving grace shine within us, today and always.

"Bless (Him) sons of mankind, for He became incarnate for us."

Christ is Born and Revealed
Great Tidings to All


Kirill's Vision of a Great Russia

Russia is a conundrum. On one hand, it is a profoundly secularized society in which traditional religious practice is sporadic and often superficial. This abandonment of the country's traditional Orthodox faith is in part due to the period of state atheism from 1918 to 1991 and the subsequent 18 years of nihilism in which idealism is as out of fashion as religious belief. But on the other hand, Russian society longs for political idealism and religious faith.

And so Kirill, who was elected patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church on Tuesday, faces a difficult problem. Within the church, he must go beyond what his predecessor, Alexy II, accomplished over the past two decades, rebuilding the institutional structures of the church. He must fill churches, seminaries, monasteries and schools with fervent believers. Outside the church, he must persuade society to engage with the church and seek to build a post-Soviet Russia that can flourish and provide a just, prosperous life for the Russian people.

Kirill has deep convictions about the role of the Christian faith in the future of Russia and about Russia's role in the future of Europe and the world. As he has stated on numerous occasions, he is convinced that only a return to "real values" can enable Russia and Europe to confront the current economic crisis. Moreover, he believes that Russia's greatness, eclipsed in recent years, can only be restored by renewing its ancient Orthodox faith.

Given his relatively young age, 62, Kirill could be patriarch for the next generation. He will undoubtedly set out to fulfill a double agenda. First, he will want to build on what Alexy II accomplished during the 18 years of his patriarchate, continuing the rebuilding of the church's ruined infrastructure. Thousands of churches have been rebuilt across Russia since 1991. Second, he could start a series of new initiatives to strengthen the church's voice and influence in Russian society.

The new patriarch can be expected to reopen schools, expand seminaries, renew monasteries and in general restore the outward signs of Russian Orthodox religious life. But Kirill, who was the key figure behind the unprecedented promulgation of the church's social teaching in a document in 2000, can also be expected to take bold new steps to go beyond renewing the institutional structure of the church.

One big question concerns his relations with the pope and with the Roman Catholic Church. Kirill will be looking for allies in his effort to move Russian and European society in a religious direction. But he will not strive for a theocratic state. Indeed, it is precisely his acceptance of the need for dialogue with non-Christians in a modern, pluralistic state that has prompted some of the more conservative elements in the Orthodox church to be sharply critical of him as too "progressive."

Kirill, who has been serving for eight weeks as "interim patriarch," made his thoughts clear in a sermon he delivered on Jan. 6 at a Christmas Eve service held at Christ the Savior Cathedral. Kirill invited those present, including President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, to be valiant during the current economic crisis.

The word "crisis" comes from the Greek meaning "decision," Kirill said. He said that today, decisions have been affected by attitudes such as "greed, loss of control over consumption, a bid to enrich oneself by all means and have as much as possible." He said the crisis began when people forgot true values, and that further crises could be avoided if those values provided the foundation for the economy.

Kirill has his own vision for the future of Europe. In an address to the Third European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu in September 2007, Kirill said that in order for Europe to survive the tribulations that have befallen previous civilizations, it must retain its Christian identity. An increasing number of Europeans -- Christians and non-Christians alike -- have come to recognize "Christianity [as] a powerful source of support for European civilization," he said.

At the same time, Kirill was careful to explain that this does not imply that "there is no room" in Europe "for people of other religions and with other outlooks on the world."

With Kirill's appointment as patriarch, Russian society opens a new page in its history.

Leonid Sevastyanov, Robert Moynihan

The Moscow Times


Moscow, January 28, Interfax - There is no meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on the immediate agenda of Kirill, who was elected on Tuesday as head of the Russian Orthodox Church, nor does Kirill take a different stance on the Vatican than late Patriarch Alexy II did, a Russian bishop said on Wednesday.

"Setting the date for a meeting [between Patriarch Kirill and] the Pope is not on the immediate agenda nor are there any immediate plans to bring forward such a meeting," Hilarion, Bishop of Vienna and Austria and the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to European organizations, told Interfax-Religion.

"The position of Metropolitan Kirill on his meeting with the Pope, or on the entire range of relations with the Catholic Church, for that matter, in no way differs from the position of the late Patriarch Alexy," Hilarion said.

"As the holy Patriarch Alexy said, and as Patriarch Kirill says now, such a meeting can take place when the problems that prevent such a meeting are solved," the Bishop said. "There is willingness on both sides to meet each other halfway and solve these problems."

"As for how soon they will be solved, we believe this depends on the leadership of the Catholic Church," Hilarion said.


Vatican, January 28, Interfax - Pope Benedict XVI has sent his greetings to Patriarch Kirill, the newly elected head of the Russian Orthodox Church, expressing the hope for a broader dialogue between the two Churches.

"I assure Your Holiness of my spiritual closeness and of the Catholic Church's commitment to cooperate with the Russian Orthodox Church for an ever clearer witness to the truth of the Christian message and to the values which alone can sustain today's world along the way of peace, justice and loving care of the marginalized," the Pope says in a telegram, made available by Interfax-Religion on Wednesday.

"I have received with gladness the news of your election as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. I warmly congratulate you and wish you every strength and joy in the fulfillment of the great task which lies before you as you guide the Church, over which you now preside, along the path of spiritual growth and unity," Pope Benedict XVI writes.

"In prayer, I ask the Lord to grant you an abundance of wisdom to discern his will, to persevere in loving service of the people, entrusted to your patriarchal ministry, and to sustain them in fidelity to the Gospel and the great traditions of Russian Orthodoxy," the Pontiff said.

"May the Almighty also bless your efforts to maintain communion among the Orthodox churches and to seek that fullness of communion which is the goal of Catholic-Orthodox collaboration and dialogue," Pope Benedict said.


Metropolitan Kirill elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

Moscow, January 27, Interfax - The delegates to the Church Council meeting under way in Moscow have elected Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad the 16th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

Metropolitan Kirill garnered 508 (72%) out of the 702 votes during the election on Tuesday. To be elected Patriarch, a candidate had to be supported by more than half of the delegates.

Another 169 votes (24%) went to Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk. Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, who was also nominated for Patriarch by the Bishops' Council several days ago, had withdrawn from the elections in favor of Metropolitan Kirill about two hours before the voting.

Out of the 702 ballots given out to the delegates for voting, 700 were retrieved from the ballot box, and 677 of them were found valid and the other 23 invalid. Metropolitan Isidor of Yekaterinodar and Kuban, the head of the tabulation board, proclaimed the result of the voting from the ambo of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

The belfry of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior announced the election of the 16th patriarch of Moscow and All Russia by a peal of bells. The Czars' Bell started tolling first, and then all the other bells played a historic melody dating back to the 17th century. The Reut, one of the oldest bells in the Kremlin, also started chiming immediately after the voting result was announced.


Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow - Snaps

Moscow, January 27, Interfax - The voting procedure in the election of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia finished at about 6:30 p.m. Moscow time at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, where the Church Council gathered for a meeting on Tuesday.

"The boxes into which the Church Council meeting participants put their ballots have been sealed and taken out of the hall. The vote counting is to begin now," the Moscow Patriarchate spokesman Mikhail Moiseyev told Interfax-Religion.


Moscow, January 27, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church will not make any compromise with other Christian confessions as far as faith is concerned, and will hold a dialog with the most sensible of them, Patriarchal Locum Tenens Metropolitan Kirill said.

"I would like to emphasize that there can be no question about compromise of faith with other confessions... On the contrary, many other confessions are attracted particularly by our firmness in our Orthodox belief, our endurance under the pressure of various forces willing to weaken the Christian presence in the modern world," Metropolitan Kirill said while presenting his report to the Local Council at the Christ the Savior Cathedral on Tuesday.

This is exactly how "they see the hope for the revival of the Christianity in Europe and the world," he said.

"Our dialog with other confessions is aimed at supporting those partners who are ready to oppose, together with us, the marginalization of religion, to speak out for believers' rights and to build one's life according to one's own principles, to defend the underlying meaning of morality in the life of an individual and society," the Patriarchal Locum Tenens said.

"Today, Christianity is, on the one hand, experiencing the pressure of aggressive and ungodly secularism, which dominates Western society. On the other hand, it is suffering from a number of attempts by Protestant communities to radically review Christianity and the Gospel morality, which in effect facilitates the aforesaid secularist pressure," the hierarch said.


Moscow, January 27, Interfax - In many respects, it was acting Locum Tenens Metropolitan Kirill, who prevented attempts of Western missionaries to gain control over Russian people in the early 1990s.

"Metropolitan Kirill very firmly, emotionally and toughly talked with all these Western people, both state and religious figures. Then we made many of them change their mind, many of these people winded down their work in Russia, and now we see that such are activities are not developed any more," deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said on air Radonezh radio.

According to him, rumors that "Metropolitan Kirill is going to surrender Russia to the West are myth."

"He is person who clearly understands that there is no Russia without Orthodoxy and doesn't accept any attempts to make Russia Catholic, Protestant or some pseudo-Orthodox country, where the Church will be dissolved in reforms or changed by some kind of reforms," Fr. Vsevold stressed.


Moscow, January 26, Interfax - The position of the Russian Orthodox Church as to the possibility of meeting with the Pope remains unchanged, the Patriarchal Locum Tenens Metropolitan Kirill said.

"It is not a matter of the Patriarch's or the Pope's personality, there is the matter of certain realities that exist in the relations between our Churches. This is why at the moment I repeat what the late Patriarch had been saying in recent years when asked such questions," he said in an interview published in the Trud daily on Monday.

The Patriarch and the Pope cannot meet "unless we see some real progress in the issues that have long been problematic in our relations," he said.

Asked about the key tasks of the next Patriarch, Metropolitan Kirill pointed primarily to the need of getting people involved in the life of Church.

"Under Patriarch Alexy II there was an impressive growth in the number of parishes, monasteries and schools. Millions of people were baptized and consider themselves Orthodox. However, the extent of their church involvement leaves much to be desired," the hierarch said.

Currently, "there is a need to revive the church in the broadest sense of this word - through spiritual enlightenment, missionary activity, catechism, social service, and the Church's public activity," Metropolitan Kirill said.


Moscow, January 27, Interfax - Patriarch Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, one of the three candidates for the Moscow Patriarchal See, withdrew his candidacy at a Church Council session on Tuesday afternoon, a source attending the forum told Interfax-Religion.

The Church Council also decided not to nominate more candidates for Patriarch, the source said.

Thus, the Council has to choose the 16th Patriarch of the Russian Church from only two candidates: Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad and Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk. According to the credentials committee, 702 delegates are participating in the Council work.


Moscow, January 25, Interfax - The Archbishop's Council of the Russian Orthodox Church has approved Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Metropolitan Kiment of Kaluga and Borovsk and Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, who is also the head of the Byelorussian Orthodox Church, as candidates for Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

Metropolitan Kirill won 97 votes, Metropolitan Kliment - 32 votes and Metropolitan Filaret - 16 votes. Some 198 out of 202 bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate took part in the Archbishop's Council, with four being unable to attend it. Head of the counting board of the Archbishop's Council Metropolitan Isidor of Yekaterinodar and Kuban announced the results of the voting.


Possible contenders for next Russian Patriarch

(Reuters) - The most likely contenders to succeed Alexy II as Patriarch are the following senior figures within the Russian Orthodox Church, according to church sources, religious scholars and media.

The Church will pick a new leader next week for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad and Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk are considered to be the two main candidates to replace Patriarch Alexy II, who died on Dec. 5 at the age of 79.

A third possibly compromise candidate would be Metropolitan Juvenaly of Krutitsy and Kolomna.

Following are brief descriptions of the three:

METROPOLITAN KIRILL, 62: Kirill heads the Church's department for external relations, the same role filled by Alexiy II before he became Patriarch.

Until the election, Kirill is acting head of the church.

An articulate public speaker, Kirill is often perceived as the public face of the Church to many Russians, with frequent public appearances on television programmes.

Many hope he will establish better ties with Catholics if elected next Patriarch. In Dec. 2007 Kirill held a rare meeting with Pope Benedict in the Vatican. Kirill said he was increasingly optimistic about better relations with Rome.

Orthodox theologian Jean-Francois Colossimo said: "Kirill was the rector of the Leningrad seminary, which was the one most open to the West. He is very open to international questions and speaks very well."

Kirill was born in Leningrad -- now St Petersburg -- into a priest's family and was ordained a priest in 1969.

METROPOLITAN KLIMENT, 59: Kliment is a prominent figure within the hierarchy and manages the Church's economic affairs, though compared with Kirill, he is considered to be closer to the government, said a church source.

Kliment was born in the Moscow region and enrolled in a Moscow seminary in 1970. He completed his studies in 1974 after serving two years in the Soviet army, according to his biography on the website.

Apart from ministering in the United States and Canada in the 1980s, the website reports he held a succession of prominent positions in the Church in the 1990s.

In 2006 he was appointed to a state role, to chair a committee of the Russian Federation's Public Chamber responsible for the country's spiritual and cultural heritage.

"Kliment is a man of the shadows, of the system," said Antoine Niviere, editor of the Orthodox Press Service in Paris. "He took an official trip to the U.S. in the 1980s, which means he was considered loyal to the state."

"Kliment gives the impression of being conservative and dependable. Kliment represents continuity in the tradition of a Russian Orthodox Church subservient to the state. Kirill is ... seeking an alliance, a partnership with the state."

METROPOLITAN JUVENALY, 73: Juvenaly, who has been linked in the early 1990s to Church reformers, has also been mentioned by analysts and in Russian media as a possible successor.

Juvenaly is more than a decade older than either Kirill or Kliment. He was born in Yaroslavl in 1935 and enrolled in a seminary in 1953, the same year Stalin died.

In 1964, Juvenaly led the first Orthodox Church delegation to visit Jerusalem since the 1917 revolution, according to the Church website . For more than 30 years, Juvenaly has been a member of the Church's Synod.

Juvenaly was the Church's foreign minister in Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev's era. Analysts say he is "reassuring to the state".


Moscow, January 23, Interfax - Patriarchal Locum Tenens Metropolitan Kirill says that accusations of the Russian Church leaders in betrayal of Orthodoxy are groundless.

"I can't understand those who repeat old, long ago disproved myths about "betrayal of Orthodoxy," "confusion of confessions" and so on," the Metropolitan said in his interview published by the Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Friday.

Thus, he commented on the opinion of some Orthodox believers who speak against participation of the Russian Church in work of the World Council of Churches and any contacts with representatives of other Christian confessions.

"I would like to assure everyone interested that I am rather critical about this organization and I see both positive and negative sides of our participation in it. We carefully monitor all recent developments in the World Council of Churches, especially in the field of its contacts with extremely liberal wing of modern Protestantism," Metropolitan Kirill said.

He noted that until now the Moscow Patriarchate together with other Orthodox Churches "has managed to keep the World Council of Churches from sliding to this dangerous side."

"However, we should be ready to make decisive steps any moment, including to suspend our membership. It's important that decisions on our membership in international Christian organizations are taken on basis of wide theological discussion among those who know the discussed subject very well and are capable of making responsible decisions," the Patriarchal Locum Tenens summed up.


Moscow, January 22, Interfax – Locum Tenens of the Moscow Patriarchal See Metropolitan Kirill reminds that the Church should always stay out of politics.

He recalled that various politics urged the Church “to take concrete political position” in the 1990s: to support authorities or, on the contrary, to oppose it. However, according to Metropolitan Kirill, the Church “cannot take any political position.”

“We should tell people not what they would like to hear from us, not what they expect us to say, or something to reserve a little pat on our back, but to tell them God’s truth, as Holy Metropolitan Philipp of Moscow told Tsar Ivan the Terrible and was tortured by him,” the Patriarchal Locum Tenens said.

He spoke about St. Philipp’s life as the Russian Church commemorates the saint this Thursday, about his courage in standing for the truth in conflict with Ivan the Terrible and urged to learn from St. Philipp how to oppose slander.

“We should always pray for the slanders who offend us. Then the Lord will step into our life and punish those who slander against us and bring His justice into this world,” Metropolitan Kirill said.

To sum up his sermon, he urged all believers “to say a special prayer for the coming (Local – IF) Council and ask the Lord to point out to the one, who will be able to head the patriarchal see and has enough inner power and ability to serve the Russian Church and our country like St. Philipp did.”


Moscow, January 22, Interfax - Locum Tenens of the Moscow Patriarchal See Metropolitan Kirill has congratulated Barack Obama on his inauguration as U.S. president. "The American people pin hopes for the country's peaceful and creative development, for overcoming the serious economic crisis and for strengthening the principles of friendship and cooperation in international relations on your future work," Metropolitan Kirill said in a message of greetings, posted on the website of the Moscow Patriarchate.

"We live in a difficult time of political and economic contradictions and of numerous threats to peace and security," he said.

"The system of international relations is going through fundamental and fast changes, which deeply affect the interests of all nations and each individual. New challenges and threats of a trans-border nature are emerging. In such conditions, exclusive responsibility for the future of the world is vested on state and public figures," Metropolitan Kirill said. The Russian Church sees "adherence to inter-cultural and inter-civilization dialogue, and to the moral values in one's private and in the public and international life" as a way to resolve these problems, he said.

"A significant part of the American people stick to the Russian Orthodox tradition or are part of the Russian Church's flock. With representatives of other religious communities they contribute worthily to the country's national development and to strengthening its scientific and cultural ties," he added. Hopefully, "the new presidential administration will be attentive to their spiritual needs," Metropolitan Kiril said.

"I do believe that the spirit of trust and mutual understanding will be typical of our relations, and of the United States' relations with the nations, the Russian Orthodox Church ministers to," he said.

Homage to His Grace Philipose Mar Eusabius

PATHANAMTHITTA: Thousands of people, including bishops, ministers, MLAs, leaders of political parties, elected representatives, members of clergy, faithful and the general public, paid homage to the metropolitan and head of Thumpamon diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Church Philipose Mar Eusebius, who passed away at 11.05 pm on Wednesday, when the mortal remains were kept at St Basel diocese headquarters and at Makamkunnu St Stephan’s Cathedral on Thursday.Valia Metropolitan of Marthoma Church Philipose Mar Chrysostum, Changanassery Archbishop Joseph Mar Powathil, Catholicose-designate Paulose Mar Milithios, CSI Bishop Sam Mathew, Zacharias Mar Anthonios, Zacharias Mar Theophilos, Mathews Mar Zeverios, Kuriakose Mar Clemis and Yuhananon Mar Chrysostimos were among the bishops who paid homage to the metropolitan. Education Minister M A Baby and Transport Minister Mons Joseph, MPs Francis George and P J Kurian, MLAs K Sivadasan Nair, K C Rajagopalan, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, P J Joseph, Adoor Prakash, Raju Abraham and Joseph M Puthussery, District Panchayat president Appinazhikathu Santhakumari, Sabha Secretary George Joseph, clergy secretary Fr Abraham Konnattu, MG University Controller of Examinations Thomas John Mambara, CPM secretary K Anandagopan, DCC president P Mohanraj, BJP state secretary A G Unnikrishnan, CPI district secretary Mundappally Thomas, former MLA K K Nair, municipal chairman Zakhir Hussain, vice-chairman Ajithkumar, Jose K Mani and RYF state secretary Salim P Chacko paid homage to the departed metropolitan. Procession Hundreds of people, including members of clergy and faithful led by Thumpamon diocese secretary Fr Titus George, participated in the procession carrying the mortal remains of the metropolitan from St Basel diocese headquarters to Makamkunnu St Stephan’s Cathedral at 5 pm. Funeral rites on Friday The mortal remains of the metropolitan will be laid to rest at St Basel Aramana Chapel at 11.30 a.m. on Friday. As part of the funeral rites, Catholicos-designate Paulose Mar Milithios will lead the special mass at St Stephan’s Cathedral at 8 am. The funeral procession will be taken out from the cathedral at 9 a.m. and reach St Basel Aramana at 11 a.m. after passing through the town. Catholicos and Supreme head of Malankara Orthodox Church Baselios Marthoma Didimos I and Paulose Mar Milithios lead the funeral rites.


Diocese of Eastern America and New York

Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York

Bishop George of Mayfield, Vicar Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern America and New York

Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, Vicar Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern America and New York

Bishop Daniel of Erie, Vicar of the President of the Synod of Bishops for Old Believers

Bishop Ambroise (Cantacuzene)

  1. Protopriest Alexey Petrovich Ohotin, Rector of Annunciation Church, New York
  2. Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY
  3. Alexei Serafimovich Slobodskoy, Parishioner of St Seraphim Church, Sea Cliff, NY

Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America

Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America

  1. Protopriest Andre Papkov, Senior Priest of Holy Protection Cathedral, Chicago, IL
  2. Archimandrite John (Magramm), Rector of Resurrection of Christ Skete, Fridley, MN
  3. Andrei Pavlovich Urtiev, Treasurer of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America

Diocese of San Francisco and Western America

Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America

Bishop Theodosius of Seattle, Vicar Bishop of the Diocese of San Francisco and Western America

  1. Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, Rector of Transfiguration Cathedral, Los Angeles, CA
  2. Peter Alendrovich Karakozoff, Parishioner of the Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow,” San Francisco, CA

Diocese of Montreal and Canada

Bishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada

  1. Yuri Georgievich Miloslavsky, Administrator of the Chancery of the Diocese of Montreal and Canada

Diocese of Berlin and Germany

Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany

Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart, Vicar Bishop of the German Diocese

  1. Protopriest Nikolai Artemoff
  2. Hegumen Evfimy (Logvinov)
  3. Michael Gorachek

Diocese of Great Britain

  1. Priest Peter Baulk
  2. Vera Alexandrovna MacNagan

Diocese of Western Europe

Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe

  1. Protopriest Pavel Nikolaevich Tsvetkoff, Senior Priest of Elevation of the Cross Cathedral, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. Bernard Petrovich le Caro, Member of the Diocesan Council and of the Commission on the New Martyrs Glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

Diocese of South America

Bishop John of Caracas, Administrator of the Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in South America

  1. Protopriest Vladimir Nikolaevich Skalon, Rector of Resurrection Cathedral, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  2. Igor Nikolaevich Andrushkevich, Parishioner of Resurrection Cathedral, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Diocese of Australia and New Zealand

  1. Protopriest Michael Protopopoff, Rector of Church of Our Lady’s Dormition, Dandenong, Australia, Dean of Victoria
  2. Abbess Anna (Karipoff), Presentation Sisterhood, Bungarby, Australia
  3. Protodeacon Alexander Kotliaroff, Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul, Sydney, Australia

A complete list of delegates to the Council may be viewed here (in Russian).


Hindus have praised Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania for promoting “respect towards the environment” and calling over-exploitation and contempt towards nature an “unforgivable abuse”.

Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, applauded Archbishop His Beatitude Anastasios’s powerful stand in this regard: “…cultivation of a religious conscience, with evident interest in the natural environment, constitutes the basic element of glorification and gratitude towards the Creator of the Universe.”

Faiths coming out in support of the environment was a remarkable signal, Rajan Zed said and urged all world religious leaders, religions and denominations to openly bless the environmental causes. Ancient Hindu scriptures, especially Atharva-Veda, were highly respectful of mother nature, he added.

We may believe in different religions, yet we share the same home—our Earth. We must learn to happily progress or miserably perish together. For man can live individually but can only survive collectively, Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, says quoting scriptures.

Christianity came to Albania before the fourth century AD. Autocephalous Church has launched a "Program for the Protection of the Environment” whose purpose is “protection of the eco-system, managing solid waste, etc.” Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksha (liberation) is its ultimate goal.


Moscow, January 21, Interfax - There can be no room for any compromises on belief-preaching issues in the dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, Metropolitan Kirill, the Moscow Patriarchate Locum Tenens, said in an interview published in the Argumenty i Fakty weekly on Wednesday.

"The Roman Catholic Church's position on many issues of social life is closer to the Orthodox point of view [than that of the Protestants]. Anyway, we bear in mind a whole range of differences in the belief-preaching and practice of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. No compromises can be made in this area," he said.

As for the Russian Church's relations with foreign faiths, "all parties are aware of all existing fundamental differences," Metropolitan Kirill said. "And the very fact of our dialogue does not mean that we seek to become a single entity," he said.

"For instance, Russia maintains relations with the U.S., but it by no means seeks to become one of the American states," he added.

Differences in the belief-preaching and religious practice of the Orthodox Church and foreign faiths "are now growing," Metropolitan Kirill said. "Relations have completely been severed" with some of the Protestant communities - the Lutheran Church of Sweden and the U.S. Episcopal Church - "because of their official approval of homosexuals," he said.

The Orthodox Church is "that One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church through which God opens the road toward eternal life," he said.


The Moscow Patriarch to be elected on Jan 27

Moscow, January 20, Interfax - Candidates for Moscow Patriarchal See will be elected at the Archbishop Council on January 25, while the Patriarch will be elected on the first day of work of the Local Council, on January 27, a statement posted on the official website of the Councils reads.

The agenda of the Local Council stipulates that the election of the Patriarch will take place at 5.30 p.m. Moscow time: the final part of the first day of the Council after its program, the order of meetings and the election of its working bodies and the procedure of electing a new Patriarch are approved.

711 people are to participate in the Council work. The Russian Church has parishes in 12 CIS countries (apart from Russia) and in 51 states of other foreign countries.


Moscow, January 21, Interfax – Delegates start coming to the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church which is to elect a new Patriarch, the Forum’s organizational committee has told Interfax-Religion.

According to the recent information, 711 people representing 64 countries of the world are going to participate in the work of the Local Council, which is to be held on January 27-29.

One of the last Commission sessions will be held on January 22, Thursday, the Synod will meet in Moscow next day - its members will sum up and preparatory work for the Bishops’ and Local Councils.

According to the interviewee of the agency, now they are completing final lists of delegates basing on the documents received from dioceses and reserving places for guests.

“Members of the pre-council commission focus on creating all necessary conditions for the delegates, they should be well-accommodated, fed and to feel at ease in Moscow as for many of them it will be their first visit to the Russian capital,” the Committee official said.

He also reminded that an extensive program is in store for the guests: after Council work, they can visit shrines of the Holy Trinity St. Sergius Laura, the Donskoy Monastery and other popular sites for pilgrims.


Moscow, January 21, Interfax – The Moscow Patriarchate believes that Lenin’s body should be taken out of the mausoleum on Red Square.

“If Communists want to venerate Lenin’s body, as he is their idol, their shrine, then they have the Lenin Museum in Ulyanovsk, they can place his body there,” head of the Moscow Patriarchate press service Priest Vladimir Vigilyansky told Interfax-Religion on the 85th anniversary of the leader’s death.

He believes, “it will be compromise and fair decision.”

“I think Lenin shouldn’t remain on Red Square as it belongs to everyone and not only to the Communists,” the priest stressed.


Moscow, January 21, Interfax – Actual status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) as a self-governed part of the Moscow Patriarchate shouldn’t be subjected to changes, Head of its Department for External Church Relations Archimandrite Kirill (Hovorun) said.

“Today it’s difficult to say whether the Local Council is going to raise a question of Ukrainian Orthodox Church status or not. I can say that today our Church enjoys a great number of rights that even some autocephalous Churches lack,” he said in his interview published by the NG-Religii paper on Wednesday.

Fr. Kirill believes, the Ukrainian Church “should better develop the potential of the status” it currently enjoys, “than to raise a question of changing it.”

“This is the only way to preserve peace in the Church and avoid new schisms,” the Archimandrite said.

The Russian Church Local Council granted independence and self-governance to the UOC in 1990. The Primate of the Ukrainian Church was given a title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

According to the Council Act, Ukrainian bishops elect Metropolitan of Kiev, while the Moscow Patriarchate blesses their choice. Synod of the Ukrainian Church elects and consecrates bishops, establishes and abolishes dioceses in Ukraine. Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine represents the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Holy Synod of the Russian Church as its permanent member.



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