International Orthodox Christian News

On March 26, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church took part in the work of the International academic research conference "Gogol as a Prophet of Word",dedicated to the 200th birthday anniversary of the Ukrainian writer Mykola (Nikolai) Vasyliovych Gogol, which took place in the assembly hall of the Kyiv National Shevchenko University.

Let's note that the given action was held on the blessing if His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr of Kyiv and All Ukraine and was organised by the Missionary Department to the Holy Synod of the UOC, the All-Ukraine Pedagogical Fellowship and the Kyiv Shevchenko National University.

Before the conference started its work, the Archpastor looked over the exposition of the exhibition dedicated to the anniversary mentioned, arranged by the Missionary Department to the Holy Synod of the UOC, the All-Ukraine Pedagogical Fellowship and the Pedagogical Museum to the Academy of Pedagogical Science of Ukraine.

Great amount of modern and rare literature, belonging, in particular to the life period of Mykola Vasyliovych Gogol was presented for the visitors' review These are the works belonging to the author's pen, and many editions concerning the life and creative work of the famous writer.

Note that a part of the exposition consisted of the samples of Gogol's works from the collection of His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr and from the collection of thehead of the All Ukraine Pedagogical Fellowship Anatoly Zatovskyi.

Besides, the exhibition was decorated by the photographs of the places, related to the life and creative work of the writer, the quotations of the scientists investigating and studying the creative inheritance of the native writer.

Thereafter the international academic research conference "Gogol as Prophet of Word" started its session.

First, the Chairman of Missionary Department to the Holy Synod of the UOC, Archbishop Philip of Poltava and Myrhorod announced the presidium members' list, which included, besides His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr and His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Archbishop Anthony of Boryspil, Rector of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary, Leonid Guberskyi, Rector of the Kyiv National University, Olga Sukhomlynska, academician of the Academy of Pedagogical Science of Ukraine, Petro Tolochko, academician of the National Academy of Science, academician Ivan Bekh, Director of the Institute of Pedagogical Problems of Ukraine, archpriest Anatoly Zatovsky, chairman of the All Ukraine Orthodox Pedagogical Fellowship, hegumeness Seraphima (Shevchyk) head of the mission "Church and Culture", deputy head of the Kyiv city state administration Vitaly Zhuravsky.

Also attending the meeting on behalf of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were Deputy Abbot of the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Archbishop Pavel of Vyshgorod, Executive Administrator of the UOC Archbishop Metrophanes of Bila Tserkva and Bohuslav, Bishop Alexander of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytskyi, teachers and students of the Kyiv Theological Schools.

Thereafter the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church addressed the assembly.

"I greet all of you on the anniversary of the prominent Ukrainian writer Mykola Vasyliovych Gogol. 200 years is not much time as compared to eternity, but, on the other hand, it is a long period time. Within this period Gogol for some people Gogol was an atheist, for others - a prominent person. The time is cruel but just. Whatever might be said and by anyone, Gogol was talented and great, he was simple and complex, understandable and vice versa. Rendering homage to this person, let's pray to the Lord that He gave eternal peace to his soul, and gave wisdom and resurrection to all of us", -said His Beatitude Metropolitan.

After the speech those present rendered homage to the famous Ukrainian, singing him "memory eternal".

Upon completion Leonide Gubernsky, Rector of the National University addressed those present with a word of greeting, referring to the close relation of Mykola Gogol with the University: "Mykola Vasyliovych Gogol respected our university very much and was eager to become a teacher of history here. But it all happened the other way. Nevertheless, we respect Gogol very much, studying his creative heritage, which cannot be cfully comprehended".

Petro Tolochko also spoke to the assembly, reading the greeting address of Boris Paton, President of the NASU to the conference participants, and underlining the special life choice of Mykola Gogol: "We do not know professor of history Mykola Gogol, but we have got a great artist of word and a genius of the Ukrainian Land."

Other presidium members spoke after this short greeting. .

After a little break,the work of the academic research conference was continued, and the following reports were heard: "What is the use of eloquence... if the re is no Holy Spirit in the soul?" by Archbishop Philip of Myrhorod and Poltava. "The word of the Church in the kife and creative work of Gogol" by Volodymyr Voropaev, professor of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, "The Drama of religious and spiritual transformation of M.V.Gogol" by Ivan Bekh, "Gogol and modernity" by hegumeness Seraphima (Shevchyk), "Gogol as Prophet of Orthodox Culture" by archpriest Anatoly Zatovsky, "Gogol as historian of Ukraine" by director of the publishing house of the Presentation of Our Lord Monastery hieromonk Symeon (Tomachynsky), "Literature journey of M.V.Gogol: from ethnographic and mystical aesthetics to religious truth" by the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary teacher archpriest Oleg Kozhushnyi, etc.


On March 25, at the Primate's residence in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra the regular session of the Holy Synod of the UOC began, presided over by His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr.

Taking part in the session are Metropolitans Agathangel of Odessa and Izmail, Ioanniky of Luhansk and Alchevsk, Onuphry of Chernivtsy and Bukovyna, Sophrony of Cherkasy and Kaniv, Hialrion of Donetsk and Mariupol, Archbishops Mark of Khust and Vynohradiv, Metrophanes of Bila Tserkva and Bohuslav, Pavel of Vyshgorod and Luka of Konotop and Glukhiv.

At the beginning of the session's work His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr noted that it was the first session since the new Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia had been elected. On his suggestion the hierarchs served litia for the late Patriarch Alexy II and proclaimed "many years" to the newly elected Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

The Primate also conferred the Church awards to the diocesan bishops who celebrated their anniversaries this year. On the occasion of the 65th anniversary Archbishop Pytyrym of Voznesensk and Mykolayiv was conferred the order of the Venerable Nestor the Chronicler
, 1st degree, Archbishop Ionafam of Tulchyn and Bratslav was granted the order of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, and Archbishop Ioann of Kherson and Tavriysk was given the order of the Venerable Nestor the Chronicler of the 1st degree, on the occasion of his 45th birthday anniversary.

Journal of Sessions the Holy Synod


Remarks of His Eminence
Archbishop Demetrios of America
President Barack Obama
On the Occasion of Greek Independence Day
The White house
March 25, 2009

Mr. President,

On behalf of the Greek American Orthodox Community of this blessed Land, I have the great honor to wholeheartedly congratulate you upon historic ascendance to the Presidency of the United States. In addition to our warmest congratulations to you and the First Lady, you have our fervent prayers and support as you proceed with the awesome task of leading our Nation in accomplishing its great mission in our troubled world.

You also have our deepest thanks for kindly and personally inviting us to the White House for this commemoration of Greek Independence Day, a Presidential celebration of Greek and American Democracy.

It was on this day, the 25th of March, in the year 1821 that the Greek People, after suffering nearly 400 years of tyrannical occupation, stood up – a David against a Goliath, and declared their independence. They fought with astonishing bravery and against all odds, and established the free, modern Greek Nation among the Nations of the Earth, bringing democracy once again to its very birthplace of democracy.

Today, as we offer tribute to the heroes who, with the help of God, produced the miracle of the March 25, 1821, we honor them in this unique place, which constitutes a pre-eminent symbol of freedom and peace, justice and democracy, life and abundance of life, to use the words of Jesus from the Gospel of John.

In this spirit, and in full awareness of the tremendous power, both personal and institutional, of the President of the United States, we feel that we can kindly ask you for your special assistance. An assistance in resolving chronic injustices related to issues of religious freedom, human values, peaceful coexistence, democratic rule of law, and the pursuit of happiness.
I am specifically referring to the following three cases:
First: The case of the religious freedom of our Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. This means the free and unfettered exercise of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s purely spiritual mission of leading the leading Orthodox Christian world of over a quarter of a billion people. Furthermore, his possibility to proceed freely and effectively in his is pioneering work for the environment, and his passionate promotion of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue.
Second: The case of the well-known issue of the Republic of Cyprus, and
Third: The case of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

We are confident, Mr. President, that you, following the brilliant example of Alexander the Great, will be able to cut the Gordian knot of these unresolved issues, and by so doing, enhance peace and reconciliation among the peoples included and involved.
The history of unbreakable ties and sincere friendship between the United States and Greece is well known, but there is a special connection prior to 1821. I speak of the famous “Barbary War” in Tripoli, Libya, North Africa, that involved the newly established Marine Corps in April 1805. A detachment under the command of a Lieutenant O’Bannon, consisting of six American Marines, a company of twenty four commoners, and another twenty six Greeks with their own proper officers, engaged the enemy. Seven Greeks fell in that battle on African soil in defense of the American Flag in 1805.

Mr. President,

As I offer to you a memorabilia from this event, a copy of a Master Roll including some of the names of these Men of Greece who fought for the United States, I should like to close by calling to mind that when Greece a few years later rose up in 1821, it was, in part, inspired by the declaration of the American Revolution for Independence in 1776. This comes as no surprise, as the love of freedom and democracy forges a bond among peoples that knows no boundaries of race, creed, ethnic origin or language or distance. And it is also no surprise that when the War of 1821 began, there were Americans of that time – the Philhellenes – who traveled across land and sea to help restore democracy in its native land, Greece.

As you continue to lead our blessed United States, the world’s greatest democracy, please know, Mr. President, that our fervent prayers are with you, our First Lady Michelle, and your daughters Sasha and Malia. We thank you once again for the great honor of this noble celebration of March 25th 1821.


WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama welcomed Archbishop Demetrios of America and the Greek-American Orthodox community to the White House yesterday and hosted a celebration and reception for March 25th, the 188th Anniversary of the start of the Greek War for Independence of 1821.

The President received the Archbishop in private and along with Vice-President Joseph Biden had a very cordial and open conversation. Later they all came into the East Room of the White House, where for the first time in the history of this event, the Vice-President introduced Archbishop Demetrios and said: “I speak on behalf of every American, Greek or otherwise, who cares about the union we share when I say that, Archbishop, we are truly lucky to have you here. And I feel and the President feels fortunate to be able to call you a friend, as well as a leading leader of one of the great faiths in the world.”

Archbishop Demetrios in talking the podium thanked the Vice-President, and in addressing the President and the guests of the event congratulated President Obama on his election and thanked him for the “kind and personal” invitation to a “truly Presidential celebration.” The Archbishop paid tribute to those who fought and died for freedom and liberty during the Greek War of Independence of 1821.

Subsequently, the Archbishop asked the President’s special assistance “… in resolving chronic injustices related to issues of religious freedom, human rights, peaceful coexistence, democratic rule of law, and the pursuit of happiness,” naming three unresolved issues relating to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Cyprus and the name of FYROM. “We are confident, Mr. President, that you, following the brilliant example of Alexander the Great, will be able to cut the Gordian knot of these unresolved issues, and by so doing, enhance peace and reconciliation among the peoples included and involved,” said His Eminence and concluded with the following:

“As you continue to lead our blessed United States, the world’s greatest democracy, please know, Mr. President that our fervent prayers are with you, our First Lady Michelle, and your daughters Sasha and Malia. We thank you once again for the great honor of this noble celebration of March 25th 1821.”

President Barack Obama in his response thanked the Archbishop for the favorable comparison to Alexander the Great and said it was a great honor to be with His Eminence “as we mark the 10th anniversary” since his enthronement. The President making the case for the long and historic ties between the United States and Greece mentioned the role the Hellenic ideals have played in establishing the American democracy.

At the conclusion of the program President Obama and the Vice-President greeted many of the attendees and the reception continued in a festive atmosphere. The Archdiocesan Metropolitan Youth Choir performed for the second year at the White House event, songs related to the occasion. President Obama asked to see the children of the choir greeted them warmly and was photographed with them.

The morning of March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, Archbishop Demetrios presided at the Divine Liturgy in Washington’s St. Sophia Cathedral, followed by the service of Doxology. In the evening and following the White House event he attended the reception hosted by the Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandros Mallias at the Greek Embassy. Minister of Justice Nikolaos Dendias represented the Greek Government at these events.


Georgian Orthodox Church

XVII century Bethany Holy Mother Virgin’s icon will be brought from the National Art Museum to Kashueti Church.

The clergy and the parish will gather at the National Art Museum in order to organize a festive rally from the museum to church. There will be held a praying after the rally at Kashueti Church.

The icon has been restored upon blessing by His Holiness and Beatitude Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II. The restoration works were led by art centre at Georgian Patriarchate. The parish donated to create a special frame decorated with precious metals and stones for the icon.


Copy of St. George’s miraculous icon is rested at Holy Trinity Cathedral. The icon has been brought from Holy Mount Athos upon blessing by Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia.

The delegation included Metropolitan Daniel of Tskhum-Abkhazeti, and Chairman of the Government of Abkhazia Malkhaz Akishbaya.

Copy of St. George’s miraculous icon was written specially for Georgia upon unanimous consent of the monks at Bulgarian Fathers Monastery on Holy Mount of Athos.

The first miracle of the icon is known in 10th century, when St. George appeared on a clean wall of Bulgarian Monastery on Holy Mount of Athos.


Statement by Georgian Patriarchate

Recently, there have been appeared publications about health of Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II in Georgian media specifying no sources the articles give “detail information” on events which did not occurred in reality. Those articles cast aspersions on specific hierarchy as well as the Georgian Patriarchate in general.
We are certain that such articles and materials about the Catholicos Patriarch are directed to discredit the church authority and image among the population.

We kindly ask everyone to be concerned about such publications.


Kaliningrad, March 23, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said that the global economic crisis will do its bit for spiritual improvement of people, despite its adverse effects.

"Not only is the crisis our plague, it is also our blessing. It gives us a good opportunity for soul-searching and makes us think. Following our well-trodden ways, we get used to our bread-and-butter sandwich, but when this sandwich is taken from our mouths, this means a challenge and an impulse," Patriarch Kirill said Sunday at a press conference in Kaliningrad.

According to him, the downturn gives the global community a chance to "get rid of the unwanted ballast of easy money, wash out economic wrongs, and gratuitous self-indulgence, and make every person face the real world."

Therefore, Patriarch speculates, the economic crisis "should encourage people to seek ethical and religious conclusions." Speaking about this, the Patriarch voiced his hope that the global recession would help many people to develop the right attitude to work and money, make them pull themselves together and value their jobs.

Patriarch urged people to remember that money imposes a huge responsibility upon its owner, because "God does not give money for squandering." Russia has not yet developed such careless attitude to accumulated capital as Western countries have, where one can see elderly ladies walking their dogs on the leashes decorated with diamonds." However, in Russia, according to Patriarch, there arises a new class of self-indulgent people and idlers who only throw their money about."

Patriarch Kirill expressed hope that the economic crisis would "finally pick this thin artificial coating called "virtual economy" which covers nothing in fact, and the Russian society will emerge from the crisis strong rather than weakened."

Patriarch Kirill confessed that he is happy about the recent statements relative to the crisis made by the leaders of Russia and some foreign states, in particular, he thinks that the statements by Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown agree with the standpoint of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Patriarch urged everyone to remember that by virtue of this crisis God gives the global community another chance to purify. "The main thing is to avoid hysteria and fault-finding, in particular, with the authorities," Patriarch said.


Moscow, March 24, Interfax – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia confirmed position of the Russian Orthodox Church on Kosovo and its readiness to protect Orthodox believers of this Serbian district.

“The Russian Church will further use every chance to raise its voice and protect God’s truth, protect our Orthodox brothers and sisters living in the Kosovo district of Serbia and exiled from it, protect all victims of violence and flouting of justice,” Patriarch Kirill said in his address to Patriarch Pavle of Serbia dedicated the 10th commemoration of NATO bombing of Belgrade.

In his message published at the Moscow Patriarchate official website on Tuesday, the Primate reminds that in preceding years the Russian Church “has more than once spoke up to support our Sister-Church regarding the ways of settling the current crisis.”

“Your sorrows are the pain of the entire Orthodox Church,” His Holiness said to the Serbian Patriarch.

Commenting on NATO interference in Kosovo crisis, Patriarch Kirill said that in March 1999 ‘several countries, being sure they have right to determine world fate, united to impose their will on a nation.”


Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, March 27, Interfax – Over 100 foreign citizens entered the Sakhalin Region for missionary purposes last year, the regional Information Department has told Interfax on Friday.

“Mostly, they were representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). There were also some Pentecostals, representatives of the Roman-Catholic and Presbyterian Churches,” the interviewee of the agency said.

According to statistics, the number of non-resident missionaries has doubled in 2008 if compared to 2007.

The regional Council on religion recommended regional executive board and local municipal authorities, public associations and religious organizations to intensify preventive work on opposing religious extremism and ethnic intolerance.


Moscow, March 23, Interfax - The Holy See representative to Russia Archbishop Antonio Mennini said he believes that the Moscow visit of Secretary for Relations with States Dominique Mamberti will strengthen bilateral relations.

"The visit and the meetings Dominique Mamberti has had in Moscow will certainly strengthen relations between Russia and the Vatican on the interstate and interchurch levels," he told Interfax-Religion on Monday.

Earlier in the day Mamberti met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and acting head of Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations Bishop Mark of Yegoryevsk.

"Both meetings were held in a friendly and positive atmosphere," Mennini said.

Bishop Mark told Interfax-Religion that his meeting with Mamberti was about bilateral cooperation at international organizations. "The meeting was held in an amicable atmosphere," he remarked.

The Moscow visit of Mamberti "was an information one and focused on the meeting with Sergei Lavrov," the Bishop said.


OBL Supported Earth Hour


This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming.

For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.

This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.

We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.

VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour.

Saturday, March 28, 8:30-9:30pm.

Orthodoxy Beyond Limits also supported this endeavor by switching off all the lights and all our workstations for the hour. Its believed that it could save a lot of carbon emissions. We believe because everyone can make a change.

Technical Department

Orthodoxy Beyond Limits

Pastoral letter of His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, to Most Rev. Siluan, Romanian Orthodox Bishop of Italy, to the clergy and faithful of the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Italy, on the Sunday of the Holy Cross, the 3rd of the Great Lent, March 22, 2009:

From the Suffering of the Cross to the Hope of the Resurrection

– Pastoral letter to Romanians in Italy –

Your Grace,

Reverend Fathers,

Beloved faithful,

As a result of the facts brought to the attention of the Holy Synod, on February 26, 2009, by Right Rev. Siluan, Romanian Orthodox Bishop of Italy, concerning the situation of Romanians in Italy and as a result of the request for a Pastoral letter from Us, which would express the communion of the entire Romanian Orthodox Church with its sons in Italy, We have decided to send you a Pastoral letter on this Sunday of the Holy Cross, the third of the Great Lent of the Holy Easter. The i>Sunday of the Holy Cross is found at the middle of the struggles of the Great Lent as a “sign” of the suffering of Christ, and, at the same time, of His victory over human weaknesses and, most of all, over the evil of sin.

That is why, looking at the Cross of Christ which faces us in church, on this feast, we are venerating it singing “before Thy Cross we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify.” Thus the Cross is for us not only a commemoration of the suffering and death of our Savior Christ, but also a sign of the victory and grace of the Resurrection of Christ, which is anticipated or foreshadowed by today’s Sunday. Today we are invited to contemplate from the heights of Golgotha the luminous horizon of Resurrection. Let us enter the mystery of the Cross which carries hidden within the light and joy of the Resurrection, “for through Cross joy has come to the entire world”. The connection between the suffering of the Cross and the grace of the Resurrection can also be seen during the presentation of the Gospel during the Holy Liturgy, which symbolizes the beginning of our Lord Christ’s preaching, when we are singing “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” (NIV Matthew 5, 11).

Thus the unjust persecution and suffering is transfigured through the passion, death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Whom today’s Sunday is presenting to us as filled with humble love and unwavering kindness, as He does not answer to evil with evil, neither to hate with hate. We are thus thinking that on this Sunday of the Holy Cross, we can also better understand the suffering caused by the slandering and accusation of all Romanians in Italy for some evil deeds by only a few of our members of our nation. We are thus seeing how passion-filled and unjust thinking mistakes without discernment the part for its whole and those guilty for those innocent.

In this situation, however, we are greatly helped by the prayers of martyr and confessor saints, who are seeing the patience and strength of Romanian Christians in Italy, in front of the general accusations against them. Also, the prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian is of great help to us in this time of fasting, teaching us to ask ”Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother.

Only by having inside the soul this light of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, we can vanquish today’s suffering with tomorrow’s hope. Thus, the Christian who is going through tribulations does not despair, but comes out of them even more strengthened, so that he can help those weaker or helpless.

As our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us, Who was praying for those who were persecuting and mocking Him, let us also pray for those who hate us and talk lowly of us, so that God makes them gentler and friendlier. And we are fatherly asking our Orthodox Christian Romanians, who have committed grave acts, to repent and abandon evil deeds.

Romanian brothers in Italy,

Looking at the tribulations you are bearing in these times in Italy, the Mother Church in Romania appreciates the Christian and Romanian witness that you are showing through the way you are protecting your dignity, both on a personal, parochial and diocesan level. The over 20,000 signatures which you have collected so far and which you have given to the Catholic curia who are offering the church in which you are praying, and to the local, provincial and regional authorities, are also a witness to this end.

We cannot overlook the tremendous echo which the ”Cara Italia” (“Dear Italy”) letter has had in both the public and the press in Italy and Romania. That is why we are also encouraging you to a more efficient mobilization, which will lead to the collection of a number of signatures as high as possible, which will witness by itself the number of hard working, peaceful and friendly Orthodox Christian Romanians in Italy.

We are reassuring you that our entire Church, the Holy Synod, the dear parishes where you came from, the holy monasteries in Romania and the Romanians everywhere, are keeping you in their prayers, are appreciating you and are, in spirit, close to you.

Especially, we are addressing thanks to all the women, daughters of our Church, who, sometimes, with the price of the neglect of their own families and own parents in Romania, are humbly caring for the children and elderly of Italian families, sometimes suffering major hardships and even humiliation. We are praying to the Merciful God that He helps and protects them, together with all those who are working in Italy, demonstrating honesty and hard work, dignity and kindness.

Also, we are thinking of all those who, with the price of their sweat, are performing the hardest of jobs, and who, often, are exploited by very low pay, and are even left sometimes without their wages. We are reassuring all of our appreciation and we are asking that God makes them justice, grants them health and support, so that they can bear through all these hardships.

The Romanian Orthodox Church, the Spiritual Mother of the Romanian people, as the great Mihai Eminescu called it, is constantly mentioning in its prayers those in suffering, those in hospitals and nurseries, wishing them speedy recovery and the joy of rejoining those dear.

At the same time, we are thinking of the families who, due to material poverty or other reasons, are separated, either by work trips to Italy by one of the parents, or through the leave of both parents, who let the children to grandparents and relatives in Romania, or sometimes in nobody’s care. We are praying to God to help those in this situation to see their family reunited as soon as possible. To this end, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church has decided that, yearly, the first Sunday after the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15) will be celebrated as the Sunday of Romanian Migrants, through prayers and brotherly talks with the migrants who are spending their vacation in Romania.

A word of special gratefulness we are addressing to Most Rev. Siluan, Romanian Orthodox Bishop of Italy, to our priests and deacons in Italy and to all Romanians and Italians who are appreciating and helping Romanians in this country.

In the end, We are asking God to bless you, to grant you a blessed time of fasting, and the joy and peace of the Holy Easter. May that your stay and activity in Italy to unfold in peace and health, good understanding with those around you and in the defense of the good Christian and Romanian name.

With utmost appreciation, fatherly blessings and prayers to God,

† Daniel,
Patriarch of Romania
President of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church


At the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest, the passing of 91 years since the Union of Bessarabia with Romania were celebrated today, March 27, 2009. The event started at 12 p.m. with the celebration of the Te Deum and a memorial service for the makers of the Union of 1918. The two liturgical services were celebrated, with the blessing of His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, by Right Rev. Ciprian, Patriarchal Vicar Bishop, surrounded by a sobor of priests, deacons, and in the presence of Right Rev. Varsanufie, Vicar Bishop of the Bucharest Archdiocese, members of the Standing Meeting of the National Church Council and of the Bucharest Archdiocese and a large number of faithful.

At the end of the memorial service, Most Rev. Ciprian delivered a sermon in which he evoked the historical moment which took place 91 years ago, lauding the memory of the makers of the Union of Bessarabia with Romania.


Inspection by His Beatitude of the placement of new glass panes at the Rock of the Holy Calvary and the new hygiene facilities at the Church of Resurrection.

A meeting of the three Committees of the Holy Shrines i.e the Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian, was held at the holy Convent of Abraham. The delegates had a discussion regarding matters of common concern. After this, His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theofilos III, accompanied by fathers of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchure, descended to the Holy Sepulcher were he inspected the works carried out by the Technical Bureau of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem; the placement of new transparent panes from solid glass at the Holy Calvary and the placement of solid iron joists subservient to the scale rise leading to it.

His Beatitude then inspected the complete renovation of the lavatories of the Holy Sepulchure according to an agreement and with expenses of the three Communities, the Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian. The works began six months ago and after many difficulties and obstacles they were completed by the Technical Bureau of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The new complete structure of the lavatories is admittedly incomparable from the previous unacceptable situation.

The three Communities are looking for and expect from the relative government authorities and officials to exercise the appropriate pressure and leverage to the Copts, who contrary to the Status Quo, refuse to allow the unblocking of the sewerage and thus the new lavatories fall into desuetude. This results to problems for the priests and a serious hygienic issue to the multitudinous pilgrims of the Holy Sepulchre.

From the Holy Sepulchre Office

Coptic Pope Shenouda III rejected to acknowledge civil marriage between young Copts living abroad, describing this as a civil relation with no divine bond.

The Pope said during the weekly general audience in Alexandria yesterday evening that «some young immigrants resort to this type of marriage in order to improve their situation”, stressing that a marriage between young Orthodox must be religious so that it may be recognized.

The Pope denied the existence of polygamy in Christianity as affirmed by Egypt’s Ifta’ House. “I’ve already discussed this issue at length in my book [The law of monogamy].”

He called on the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, to read the Bible. He also commented on Gomaa’s recent statement that there was no evidence in the Bible that prohibited polygamy by replying that the Bible was indeed full of such evidence.

With regard to marriages being put off until the age of 35, the Pope ascribed this to the financial crisis, a wave of price rises sweeping the world, and spreading unemployment, which does not allow young people to form a family.

A university girl asked him whether she could be engaged to a perfect man but not very witty. He answered: “Try and see if he’s really not so unamusing as you’re saying. By the way, how can you say this guy’s perfect and then he’s got a defect? Look, you’d find a defect even in Archangel Michael, as he’s 7,000 years old. So, try to be a little bit reasonable, ok?”

The Pope advised girls not to be dragged by their feelings and passions. “It’s risky for university girls to fall in love. They should first think about completing their studies” he said.

The Pope urged priests and bishops to pay the tithe, saying: “You can’t transgress what you teach to people. You’re indeed the first who have to pay the tithe.”


The Moscow House of Compatriots, founded by the Moscow City government, offers assistance to ROCOR parishes in need of holy vessels, vestments, liturgical books, and other church-related materials.

In order to apply for assistance through the Moscow House of Compatriots, please fill out this application in Russian, coordinate the text with the local Russian Embassy and send it to MHC (see application for address).

The Center of Humanitarian and Business Cooperation with Compatriots Abroad, also known as the Moscow House of Compatriots was established in 2003. The goal of the organization is the strengthening of ties between the Russian Diaspora and their historical homeland, as well as humanitarian and business cooperation with Russians living abroad. Through its various programs MHC assists compatriots in their efforts to preserve the Russian culture and language, and actively supports Russian Orthodox parishes around the world.

For more information please visit


Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

Representatives of the parish clergy and laity of the Eastern American Diocese, having gathered on March 16-18, 2009, for a Regular Diocesan Assembly, under the holy aegis of the relics of the Lord’s Life-Creating Cross, His Raiment, and His Life-Creating Tomb, under the sacred canopy of St Vladimir’s Memorial Church dedicated to the Millennial Celebration of the Baptism of Russia, and under the presidency of His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York, raised up their prayers to the Lord of Hosts for the repose of the souls of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy, and His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, the latter having passed away on March 16 of last year, on the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, and of those builders of this majestic church here buried: Archbishops Vitaly (Maximenko; +1960) and Nikon (Rklitsky; +1976). Our meeting opened with the serving of a pannikhida for these departed hierarchs, led by our First Hierarch and concelebrated by Bishop Mercurius, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the United States, Bishop George of Mayfield, and Bishop Jerome of Manhattan.

We rejoice in the Lord over the election of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who in his sermons has called us to repent “in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), and to an apostolic mission among the people and in society, in spreading the good news of Christ’s Light, which “enlighteneth all.” To this we are called also by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, who said the following in his opening address: “We must have pastoral care for those who have always lived and remain within the Church, nurture them, show attention to them, take part in their life, travel with them on the path to God. There are also children of the Diocese who have come from the lands of the former Soviet Union in more recent times, and who, yearning for the Homeland, find it in our churches. For their churching and enlightenment we must not only take thought, but intercede in prayer before the throne of God. We must actively provide them with the good news of Christ, the Gospel, and the Church… We must extend a helping hand to those who live next door to us; that is, we must engage in missionary work. We have the possibility to share with local Americans the rich legacy of the Russian Orthodox Church, its traditions and spirit, the ideals of Holy Russia.”

In his presentation, Bishop George of Mayfield continued those thoughts on missionary service expressed by His Eminence, while Bishop Jerome of Manhattan shared his memories of the renowned archpastoral efforts and legacy of Archbishop Nikon, who selflessly served the fortification and growth of our parishes in North America, and who fostered in our midst a truly Orthodox worldview. Over the course of our discussions, which passed in a spirit of brotherly love, the question of Ecumenism arose, a teaching which continues to disrupt the peace of members of the whole Russian Orthodox Church. Here, His Eminence, Vladyka Hilarion, reminded the participants of the Meeting of the decisions of the Councils of the Moscow Patriarchate, condemning both the “branch theory” and joint prayer with heretics, and of the declaration of Patriarch Kirill, who emphasized at a Local Council that deciding the issue of Ecumenism is absolutely necessary to help quell misunderstandings that lead to fighting within the Church, brought on by supporters of one view accusing their ideological opponents of betrayal and apostasy. Participants at the meeting echoed their support for these statements, and continue to grieve for those who have fallen away from us through misunderstanding. We pray for them, awaiting their return, that we may “in oneness of mind and ceaseless love” once more praise the name of God “with one voice and one heart.”

With heartfelt gratitude we thank our merciful father and hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, and the Bishop’s Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, who provided our Diocese with Bishops George and Jerome, for fatherly care of us.

We raise up prayers of thanksgiving to God, who allowed us to meet at His holy altar, to pray together, and to commune from a single Chalice the Holy Mysteries of Christ, in these days of our “spiritual spring.”


Ordination of Forty Nine New Deacons

Diocese of Eritrean Orthodox Church,North America

On Sunday March 8, 2009, forty one servants were ordained to the ranks of Deacons, assistant Deacons, readers and singers through the blessed hands of His Grace Bishop Youssef, Bishop of the
Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States. The ordination took place at Saint Mary Coptic Church, in Atlanta, GA.

Thirty nine of the forty one newly ordained Deacons are servants of the Eritrean Mehanie-Alem Churcha in Atlanta, while the other two are servants of Saint Mary Coptic Church, in Atlanta.

On the other hand, On 20th February 2009, four servants of the Eritrean Orthodox Church were ordained at the monastery of Mar Mina in Cairo, Egypt, through the blessed hands of Bishop Kyrillos the abbot of the monastery. Three of them were ordained as assistant deacons while the fourth one was ordained a deacon.The Eritrean Orthodox Church prays to the Lord to bless the deacons and their service.

Also, on October 12, 2008, four servants of the Eritrean Orthodox Church were ordained at St. Mina Coptic Church in Cincinnati, Ohio ,USA, through the blessed hands of Bishop Wissa. Four of them are currently serving at St Mina Coptic Church.The Eritrean Orthodox Church prays to the Lord to bless the deacons and their service.

"To God be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen." (Eph 3: 21).


Diocese of the South

Orthodox Church in America
P.O. Box 191109
Dallas, Texas 75219
(214) 522-4149

March 22, 2009 Sunday of the Cross

To the Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America:

I would like to take this opportunity first, to ask for your prayers and forgiveness as we continue our journey to Pascha. May our Lord grant you a blessed and fruitful Lent and Holy Week.

In addition, please know that over the years your tireless efforts in service to Christ have been a tremendous source of inspiration and joy. We have labored together for 'the Truth that sets man free': in light of your personal dedication it may be said that, "I have (had) no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 4). With each conversion, with the start of each new mission I thank the Lord for "revealing Himself unto us," and for providing His humble servant an opportunity to be a steward of such a flock as we have in the Diocese of the South.

Overseeing a Diocese, however, is a temporary calling by nature. Thus, after fifty five years in the priesthood and forty years as a bishop of the Orthodox Church in America, I have asked for retirement from the active episcopacy, effective March 31, 2009. It is not a decision I make lightly. I feel confident that with our current Synod of Bishops as well as Diocesan leaders (both clergy and laymen) already in place, that the work of the Orthodox Church in the South will continue. Together we have helped to lay the foundation which is Christ, and now it is time for others to build upon our labors (1 Corinthians 3).

Again, I ask for your prayers. Be assured of my love and prayers for all of you.

In the love of Christ,

Archbishop of Dallas and the South


ALEPPO, SYRIA [IOCC] -- On a rainy evening in this ancient city famed for its pistachios and historic mosques and churches, 120 Iraqi refugees gather in a church's basement to learn about the "silent killers" of their community: diabetes and high blood pressure. The prevalence of both diseases is rising among the estimated one million Iraqis who have fled to Syria from Iraq since 2003.

Dr. Rana, an Iraqi refugee who came to Syria in 2008 after completing her medical degree at Baghdad University, has organized the gathering. She pulls out test kits and begins to teach each patient how to measure their blood pressure and their glucose level. Dr. Rana explains that diabetes and high blood pressure are prevalent in refugee communities where unemployment is high and people lack access to regular health care. "Many Iraqis do not go to the doctor because they spend time worrying about their families and so do not have the very important regular tests for these illnesses," she says.

Dr. Rana is one of 70 Iraqi volunteers who have been trained by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) to design and implement their own community social service project to benefit their community. Participants were trained in making assessments and in designing and implementing a project that would assist about 100 people. Thirty-five community projects will be implemented, reaching a total of 3,500 individuals.

The project is part of IOCC's $4 million program to assist Iraqi refugees in Syria by providing vocational training for young people, school tuition and school supplies for children, and emergency supplies for impoverished families. The program, which benefits an estimated 65,000 Iraqi refugees and 22,000 disadvantaged Syrians, is funded by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) and implemented by IOCC's major partner in Syria, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch.

Anna, an Iraqi mother, says that her 7-year-old son was diagnosed with diabetes soon after a bomb went off near their home in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. She had been using out-of-date and unreliable testing equipment brought with them from Iraq when they came to Syria in 2003. Now, armed with a new kit from IOCC, as well as training in how to use it, Anna says she feels more equipped to handle her son's condition: "We can now be more secure in the care we give our son, having accurate readings of his glucose levels."

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 $300 million in relief and development programs in more than 33 countries around the world.


Archbishop Chrysostomos ll is in Brussels, where he will officially open an Orthodox church representation office.

The archbishop said that the church office will brief Cyprus' European partners on a daily basis and exert pressure until the Turkish side gives in and allows the restoration of damaged churches in the occupied north of the island.

He also wants people to have free access to all Orthodox places of worship.

Archbishop Chrysostomos added that the representation will operate as a liaison office for the repatriation of holy icons and relics from churches in the occupied territories. He stressed that the church office will constantly be in cooperation with the Cyprus representation in Brussels.


Three Ordinations in Kodiak

Orthodox Dioscese of Alaska

His Grace Bishop BENJAMIN of San Francisco and the West, administrator of the Diocese of Alaska ordained Deacon Gregory Parker to the Holy Priesthood on Sunday, March 15th, 2009. Celebrating a joyous hierarchical liturgy of St. Basil with His Grace was Archpriest Michael Oleksa acting chancellor of the diocese, Priet Innocent Dresdow, Dean of Holy Resurrection Cathedral, Archimandrite Juvenaly, Hieromonk Sergius, Archpriest Martin Nicolai, Archpriest John Dunlop, Dean of St. Herman Seminary, Priest Paisius Delucia, Dean of St. Innocent Academy, Priest Evon Bereskin, Priest Joshua Resnick and Deacon Anthony May.

Reader Methodius Nicori was ordained to the diaconate on Saturday, March 14, and served his first vigil as a Deacon on Saturday evening. Deacon Methodius is completing his third year of study at St. Herman Theological Seminary in Kodiak. He is from Kwethluk, Alaska, where he attends St. Nicholas Church. He is a graduate of Alaska Moravian Seminary (2001). He is supported in his studies in Kodiak by his wife Elsie and children Martha, Katherine and Juvenaly. A group of five individuals sponsor him financially through Outreach Alaska.
Deacon Gregory Parker was ordained to the priesthood on Sunday, March 15, He is completing his fourth and final year of study at St. Herman Theological Seminary in Kodiak. He has served as a Deacon at the Seminary and Cathedral for the past year. Deacon Gregory is from Lame Deer, Montana, which is located in the northern Cheyenne reservation. He has a bachelor of arts degree in human services from Salish-Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana. He is supported in his studies in Kodiak by his wife Marlene, children Gabe, Roger and Leo, and mother Sue Parker. Two Orthodox parishes support him financially, his home parish St. Nicholas of Zhica and St. Nicholas Church in Washington, D.C. (through Outreach Alaska).

Reader Ishmael Andrew was ordained to the diaconate on Sunday, March 15. Deacon Andrew is completing his third year of study at St. Herman Theological Seminary in Kodiak. He is from Kwigillingok, Alaska, where he attends St. Michael Church. In addition to his seminary studies, Andrew has a background in elementary education, having received an associate of arts degree and neared completion of a teaching certificate at the Kuskokwim Campus of the University of Alaska. He is supported in his studies in Kodiak by his wife Anastasia, children Elijah, Zenaida and Aidan and his father Noah Sr. and mother Donna from Kwigillingok. He is sponsored financially by St. John the Forerunner Church in Texas and by individuals from New Jersey who support him through Outreach Alaska.

His Grace admonished the newly ordained of their role as shepherds, a role in which the shepherd faithfully leads by serving with love, humility, and forgiveness being the living image of Christ to the flock entrusted to their care.


Stanishev: We should defend the unity of the Bulgarian Church

We should find ways, legal and other instruments, to defend the authority and the unity of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

This claimed the prime minister Sergei Stanishev after discussing with the Bulgarian patriarch Maxim the situation with the decision of the European court for human rights in Strasbourg and the actions of the Bulgarian state.

Stanishev said that he was worried about this decision and that he has requested the patriarch to inform him about his meeting with the representatives of all orthodox churches throughout the world.

The decision of the European human rights court is an attitude not only towards the Bulgarian orthodox church but also to the orthodoxy as whole and its autonomous actions, claimed Stanishev.

We will do everything necessary to defend our arguments, stressed the prime minister and added that the Bulgarian orthodox church was, is and will be united, with a united clear leadership, which is respected not only by all orthodox people in Bulgaria.

“The whole orthodox world recognizes this leadership and the unity of our orthodox church”, claimed Stanishev. He said he wanted to hear the opinion of the Bulgarian patriarch, the ecumenical orthodox church and the viewpoint of the canonic law.

Exactly the canonic law is the basis for the decisions which are taken by the orthodox people throughout the world during their gatherings, pointed out Stanishev. The PM added he would request the judicial minister Miglena Tacheva, who leads the established interinstitutional group to prepare a report on the case and the council of ministers to take a decision.

Sergei Stanishev underlined the special role of the Bulgarian orthodox church, which according to him is a special part of the Bulgarian identity. Due to orthodoxy we have endure hard centuries under foreign yoke and we have preserved ourselves as a people, marked Stanishev and added that in the contemporary history the Bulgarian church was passing through a lot of hardships.

In the 90s there was an acute political intervention in the deeds of the Bulgarian orthodox church which led to tension and schism, said Stanishev and stressed that this schism was overcome with the Church convention in the autumn of 1998, when the unity of the Bulgarian orthodox church and its legitimate leadership was completely restored.

“There is one Bulgarian orthodox church, which is legitimate. Its leadership is confirmed also by the orthodox convention and is accepted by all orthodox churches in the world and this should be clear to everyone”, claimed Stanishev.


Reopening of Theological School of Halki

United Nations' Committee calls on Turkey to reopen Theological School of Halki

3/18/2009 - The United Nations' Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has called on Turkey to reopen the Greek Orthodox Theological Seminary on the island of Halki, to return confiscated properties and to promptly execute all judgments by the European Court of Human Rights relating to it.

"The Committee invited Turkey to promote adequate representation of the various ethnic groups in the Parliament and other elected bodies, as well as their participation in public bodies. It recommended that research be conducted with a view to effectively assessing and evaluating the incidence of racial discrimination in Turkey, with particular focus on discrimination based on national or ethnic origin, and that Turkey take targeted measures to eliminate such discrimination," a press release by the Committee in Geneva said on Tuesday.

The Committee noted its concern "at the particularly serious situation of the Greek minority" and called upon Turkey "to redress such discrimination and to urgently take the necessary measures to reopen the Greek Orthodox theological seminary in the island of Heybeliada (Halki), to return confiscated properties and to promptly execute all relevant judgments by the European Court of Human Rights in that respect."

Pointing out that no country was entirely free from racial discrimination, the Committee also urged Turkey "to investigate why there had been no complaints of discrimination and recommended that it verify that the lack of such complaints was not the result of lack of effective remedies, victims' lack of awareness of their rights, fear of reprisals, or lack of confidence in the police and judicial authorities, among others," a CERD press release added.

The Committee also "regretted the absence of a definition of racial discrimination in domestic law, which might impede the adequate application of relevant legislation. It was noted that some groups, such as the Roma and the Kurds, faced a more difficult socio-economic situation than the rest of the population.

The Committee was concerned that the application of restrictive criteria to determine the existence of ethnic groups (by following criteria established in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne), official recognition of some and refusal to recognize others, might give rise to differing treatment for various ethnic and other groups which might, in turn, lead to de facto discrimination.

It was further concerned by allegations of persisting hostile attitudes on the part of the general public, including attacks and threats, towards Roma, Kurds and persons belonging to non- Muslim minorities. Another concern was that Turkey maintained the geographical limitation to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, which reduced the protection, offered to refugees from non-European States and might subject them to discrimination.

In that connection, the Committee was also concerned at reports on deportation and refoulement (repatriation to danger zone) of refugees recognized under UNHCR's mandate, as well as of persons registered with UNHCR as asylum-seekers.

A remaining concern was that there were inadequate possibilities for children belonging to ethnic groups to learn their mother tongue," it also said.


From the Holy Synod of Bishops

Polish Orthodox Church

On the 10 March the meeting of the holy synod of bishops was held. The meeting was presided by the metropolitan Sawa, the head of the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

Bishops discussed life and problems of each of the diocese in Poland. Monastic life was also discussed. There are more than a 100 monks in Polish monasteries now.

Bishop of Piotrków, Paisjusz, who has been an auxiliary bishop in Łódź and Poznań diocese was appointed a bishop of Gorlice – an auxiliary bishop in Przemyśl and Nowy Sącz diocese.

There are 6 dioceses in Poland now - Warsaw-Bielsk, with metropolitan Sawa, the head of the church, and bishop auxiliary Miron of Hajnówka, a head of Orthodox Chaplainship, and auxiliary bishop Jerzy of Siemiatycze; Białystok and Gdańsk diocese with archbishop Jakub and bishop auxiliary Grzegorz, Lublin and Chełm diocese with archbishop Abel, Wrocław and Szczecin diocese with archbishop Jeremiasz, Łódź and Poznań diocese with archbishop Szymon and Przemyśl and Nowy Sącz diocese with archbishop Adam and bishop auxiliary Paisjusz of Gorlice.

The holy synod answered a request of Polish Central Bank to delegate priests and other employees of the church, who care for a church property, for a training organised by the bank on important financial and economical issues. Such a training has been already organized by the bank for a Roman-Catholic church priests and employees.

According to an invitation from the ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew the Orthodox church in Poland delegated archbishop Jeremiasz and dr. Andrzej Kuźma for a meeting on “Pan-Orthodox Synod preparation”. To the international bioethics committee archbishop Jakub and father Artur Aleksiejuk were nominated.

The synod has also given awards on the occasion of Pascha 2009. These were among others mitras for 24 priests. Other reward was an order of st. Mary Magdalene, which was given for lay people, who occurred to be especially helpful for the Orthodox Church last y


The publication of the Letter of the UOC-KP letter on their official site, regarding "the practice of second baptism for those baptized in the Kyivan Patriarchate" is a positive fact. It marks the departure of the schismatic leaders from the political subject matter and their return to the canonical and ecclesiological subjects, i.e. essentially churchly subjects.

Indeed, there is a practice in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, though not generally accepted, to receive those coming from schism through Baptism. However, at the same time, there are cases when a person, baptized in the Kyivan Patriarchate, is received through Chrismation or even merely through the Sacrament of Penance. In other words, at presence we have a practice to leave the choice of the rite of admission to the Orthodox Church for those coming from the UOC-KP to the discretion of a diocesan bishop, the choice made between the church akriveia (strictness) and oikonomia (lenience), being guided first of all by pastoral considerations. It is largely due to this fact that the absence of the official document of the UOC on the subject is explained.

I guess that this question is to be elaborated further on by the Theological Canonical Commission to the Holy Synod of the UOC, in order to provide official answer to the church community and representatives of the UOC-KP. I hope that the dialogue on the canonical status of the schismatics and the ways of their admission to the Orthodox Church will work for overcoming of split and restoration of unity on the Ukrainian Orthodoxy.


Kyiv Theological Academy, Ophthalmologists' Association and All-Ukraine public organization "Ukrainian Medical Union" have organized a joint action dedicated to the International Glaucoma day, in the course of which the students and teachers of the Kyiv Theological Schools learnt more of glaucoma - eye disease with no pain symptoms, which makes progress all the time and caused irreversible process - the blindness. Since the priests communicate with population, especially the elderly people, the knowledge about this treacherous disease will help them insure their parishioners from disaster.

In the course of the action "Preserve Eyesight Together" the leading ophthalmologists performed diagnostics of glaucoma among the professorial and pedagogical staff and the Seminary students of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary. The action was headed by the chief ophthalmologist of the health Ministry of Ukraine, member of the All-Ukraine public organization "Ukrainian Medical Union", doctor of medicine professor Sergey Rykov.

In the evening there was a briefing for mass-media representatives with the participation of professor Sergey Rykov, vice-rector on pedagogical work of KTA&S, chairman of the Synodal Department for Charity and Social Ministry of the UOC Archdeacon Sergety Kosovsky, the teacher of the KTA&S archpriest Dionisy Martyshyn.

After the briefing S.Rykov gave a lecture "Glaucoma and its prevention' to the students and teachers of the Kyiv Theological Schools.

Opening the briefing, Archdeacon Sergey Kosovsky and the teacher of the KTA&S archpriest Dionisy Martyshyn underscored the importance of cooperation between the Church and medical workers in the field of social work with population of Ukraine. "No doubt, one cannot feel the joy of life, doesn't feel oneself a sound member of society, having serious health problems", archpriest Dionisy Martyshyn addressed the journalists. Therefore the being of modern man becomes a subject for investigation of the Church and the scientists at various conferences and workshops, and with this purpose we have introduced in the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary the subject of Christian Social Doctrine within the framework of the theological subjects.


The Ukrainian Orthodox Church treats with maternal care her faithful children and all those needing compassion, patronage, love and mercy, and pays special attention to those people, whose life is coming to an end, and who suffer physical and spiritual pains due to serious incurable diseases.

The number of such people in our society constantly grows today. Apart from purely physical negative manifestations of illnesses, the final days of the earthy life of many patients are accompanied by distress of soul, fear of death, feeling of personal helplessness, absolute loneliness, isolation, anxiety over the fate of their relatives and dear ones. At the same time, the effective measures and means of assistance to such patients and their families are non-developed or absent in our society.

The so-called palliative assistance can facilitate solving the problems that the incurable patients are faced; in its modern meaning it is considered as a complex system of social, medical, spiritual and psychological measures, aimed at full-scale support of a patient in case of incurable diseases.

Unlike specialized medical assistance, oriented at healing a disease, palliative assistance is primarily concerned with easement of the physical condition of a patient - pain relief and removal of other negative manifestations of a disease (symptomatic treatment), facilitation of his/her spiritual and emotional state, it also attempts to improve existence conditions of a patient and his/her encirclement.

Among the problems emerging in Ukraine in connection with the introduction and implementation of the system of palliative assistance, there are problems of ideological, axiological and spiritual character, the problems concerning conceptualization of palliative assistance as such, its place and role in modern medicine and society on the whole, its content and actual ways of organization of palliative assistance, and the society's attitude to incurable patients.

That is why the Ukrainian Orthodox Church finds it necessary to declare her attitude towards and her position concerning the problems mentioned, and possible ways of their solution.

1. Conceptualization of palliative assistance from the perspective of the Orthodox doctrine

1.1 The Orthodox Church, proceeding from her doctrine, considers the last days of human life as the time preceding direct encounter with God, which has to be filled with special spiritual content, worthy of man as the image and likeness of God.

The Church emphasizes that death, being a tragic consequence of man's secession from God, at the same time is the doors to the future life of man, his second birth, sacrament, in which the way to the new life and the succeeding renewal of man in perfection of his nature due to the salutary sacrifice of Christ.

According to the doctrine of the Holy Fathers, the primary organization of man's nature supposed hierarchical subordination of the body to the soul and of the soul to the spirit, and of the spirit - to God, with whom man was supposed to be in continuous connection as the source of his own being.

The original sin - the self-will of man towards the God-given commandment - broke the communion of man and God and transformed the very nature of man, which began its autonomous existence under conditions of surrounding physical reality. At the same time the nature of the surrounding world - the earth - becomes the main source of existence of man, subjecting him to its laws. The original order of organization of the human nature changes for diverse: the spirit starts feeding from the soul, the soul - from the body, the body - from the material world. The soul obeys the needs and whims of the body, becomes its hostage. The spirit comes under command of the passions - sufferings of the soul. Physical abilities of man become principally finite, and the death he can experience - inevitable.

Restoring communion of man and God, Christ the Savior restores the very nature of man, releasing him from the power of sin and death through His free-will sufferings, death on the Cross and Resurrection. Indivisible and unconfused union of the divine and human natures in Christ makes mutual communion of God and man possible, both in the plane of the sufferings and death and of the resurrection and eternal life. From now on the pre-mortal sufferings and death unites man with the death and sufferings of the Savior, and the free and conscious union with Christ in the Sacraments of the Church enables each man reunite with God and inherit the Kingdom of Heavens and the life of the age to come.

1.2 The ideological stance of the Church, which immediately ensues from the Orthodox Christian doctrine, is that whatever level of development the science might reach, it would never be able to overcome diseases and death.

That is why the Church believes that the aims, declared by the modern medical biological science as for the final victory over death and the unlimited continuation of human life are not absolute, and achievement of these goals for any price is not acceptable either from a religious or socio-historical viewpoint.

At the same time, it should be noted that the quality of life as a purpose, declared by the modern secular medicine, cannot be self-sufficient and complete, since it can serve both spiritual development of man as well as his degradation.

The objectives of medicine, concerning both healing diseases and alleviation of physical condition of a patient by medical means, should be set in order to create such living conditions for man to enable him fulfill his life mission and to grow spiritually in his own dignity.

The essence of medicine should be closely connected to the essence of human existence, and its tasks and objectives should be subordinate to this essence and its discovery by every individual. Confrontation with disease is a struggle for the sense of existence of a human being, for his/her personality, ability to concentrate their spiritual resources and to focus them at the benefit of the soul.

For that reason the medical care can be naturally combined with the spiritual care, it requires cooperation with a patient, it becomes active when it takes into account his/her personality and his/her essence, significance and value are not diminished even when physical abilities of his/her organism are exhausted.

In this case, in combination with spiritual care and various means of support of a patient, the medicine still answers its purpose, working for discovery and comprehension by a patient of his spiritual essence in the first place.

Therein lays the assistance to an incurable patient, only in this meaning the palliative assistance may be considered, only in this perspective the Church may view palliative assistance as an object of her care and attention.

2. Forms and essence of palliative assistance organization

2.1 The Christian Orthodox doctrine considers man as a unique entity, in which the spiritual and physical principles are united. Their close connection is manifested in the fact that physical disorders and pain the body suffers affect the state of mind of human, and at the same time the psychological and spiritual feelings may cause bodily sufferings or increase them. That is why the pains that a patient suffers are total and undifferentiated by nature; they overtake man on the whole as a person and cannot be reduced to exclusively somatic (bodily) factors.

At the same time, alleviation of physical condition of a patient by medical means opens possibilities of delivering assistance to a sick person, which in its turn, facilitates relieving of his bodily pains, and as a consequence, a conscious perception by the patient of his life and death.

That is why the palliative assistance can find its meaningful and functional completion only on condition of such a combination of medical, spiritual, social and psychological measures, when every separate component of assistance will be considered as precondition and means of implementation of the other ones, and all of them will work for the relief of a patient's sufferings and facilitate spiritually conscious and worthy completion of the earthy life by the sick.

2.2 In accordance with its contents, palliative assistance may be embodied in those organizational forms, which can ensure natural combination of all its components.

In particular, there might be possibilities and conditions created for cooperation of the spiritual counsellors or other persons delivering spiritual care to the patient with medical personnel, social workers and other persons, who immediately patronize a patient. Such cooperation should proceed on a mutually consentient, stable and scheduled basis, it should imply acquaintance of the medical personnel, social workers and other people taking care of patients, with the contents and means of spiritual care.

2.3 Organizational implementation and delivery of palliative care should be carried out in such a way that correlates with existing cultural, religious, historical experience and tradition, and answers the claims and expectations of the society and does not derogate dignity and rights of a patient. In this connection one may pay attention to the following:

1. Probable functional and organizational delimitation of the measures of palliative assistance and specialized medical intervention should not cause alienation of palliative care from the system of specialized medical assistance, exclusion of palliative assistance from the context of the clinical care of the specialized medical institutions, or cause extrusion of incurable patients from the field of action of these institutions, and even more - to refusal of specialized medical assistance to such patients.
The presence of incurable disease and the limited life-term, prognosticated by medical criteria, can be regarded as a certain state of a patient, but not as his status. Thereat, mechanical isolation of incurable patients from other ones may cause psychological and social alienation of this kind of patients, their social exclusion and stigmatization, and in general can be negatively interpreted by social consciousness.

It also should be taken into account that it is also peculiar of the native medical tradition not to make principal division of the patients by their medical prognosis, but to deliver assistance to the sick in those aspects they need, combining active treatment measures with palliative measures.

At the same time, the whole context of rendering assistance to the sick requires presence of the facilities for palliative assistance at the medical institutions which render specialized medical care, both for inpatients and outpatients.

2. Addressing the experience of organization of the specialized establishments of palliative care, i.e. of the hospices, it should be taken into account that being continuation of the common Christian tradition of care for the necessitous, in a part of the modern western society they are specifically conditioned and interpreted. This interpretation is based on the concept of autonomy of human personality and the freedom of self-definition of man at any living conditions.

Thus, the hospice is considered as to some extent a proposition and alternative, intended to create for an incurable patients such conditions, in which he/she could take charge of him/herself and enjoy their lives as long as it is possible.

At the same time, the possibilities of the modern medicine in the sphere of artificial life-sustaining activity of some categories of patients contributed to the fact in some cases hospices served as their place of residence.

Not generalizing from these conclusions and not rejecting possibility of practical application of modern experience of the hospice care in native conditions, the Church believes that in our society the organization and implementation of the hospices should be aimed first of all at providing palliative care to those incurable patients who are devoid of family care, material wealth and conditions for worthy end of their lives.

Those patients, who have to stay in closed institutions, i.e. places of detention, psycho-neurological hospitals etc, might also be under the patronage of these institutions. This is the direction of the hospices' work which would be approved of and find wide public and charitable support in our society.

At the same time the Church consider the home setting to be the most favorable place for a sick person to end his/her life, and the care of the sick should become the primary duty of his relatives and dear ones, and should not be fully transferred to professional organizations and institutions.

3. Role of the Church in the establishment and development of the palliative care

3.1 The Church considers her role in establishment and development of palliative care in two main aspects: first of all, in the aspect of pastoral care of patients and dying, second - in the aspect of her social ministry, aimed at asserting in the society of Christian values of love, mercy and compassion to the neighbor in their practical application.

The Church thinks it possible to take immediate part in the programs of palliative care to the extent it complies with the salutary mission of the Church and in which she will be able to facilitate performance of this mission.

The Church will support only those efforts of organization if palliative care and those forms of this care, which will ensure complex approach to the needs and wants of a sick person and which will enable creating conditions and opportunities for patronage of the patients.

3.2 Regarding palliative care as complex of interrelated steps, and not as a single medical and social branch, the Church directs her efforts to the development of the spiritual principles of the medicine, of the social and psychological work with the patients and their complex combination in practical usage.

That is why the Church believes that her role in the development of the palliative assistance lies in spiritual and moral upbringing of man, based on the values of love, mercy, compassion to the neighbor, in combination with practical embodiment of these values in the field of delivering assistance to the sick and dying and their dear ones.

The Church believes that a necessary precondition of successful implementation of palliative care is first of all the positive, spiritually purposeful attitude to incurable patients throughout the society, understanding and perception by the community of care of the dying as a social and spiritual necessity.

That is why the Church, the religious organizations and communities, proceeding from both the spiritual and socio-historical experience of care and service to the neighbor, have to become the introducers of the values, standards and examples of activity, facilitating the individualized, personally motivated and complex approach to needs and wants of a sick person.



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