Monday, November 30, 2009

Orthodox-Catholic Working Group Discusses Role of Pope at Meeting in Kiev

A meeting of the St. Irenaeus Orthodox-Catholic Working Group was held in Kiev, Ukraine, November 3-7, 2009, according to Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological School (SVOTS) website. The Working Group was hosted at the Kievan Monastery of the Caves and the Kiev Theological Academy, and was received by Metropolitan Wolodymir of Kiev.

The Working Group, founded in Germany in 2004 -- at a time when the official Orthodox-Catholic international dialogue was at a standstill -- is an informal gathering of 24 scholars and theologians, equally divided between Roman Catholics and Orthodox.

Meeting annually since its inception, this year's meeting of the group centered on the Vatican I declarations on the infallibility and universal jurisdiction of the Pope, which poses a major stumbling block in the relationship between the two churches.

Dr. Paul Meyendorff, professor of theology at St. Vladimir's Seminary, who attended the meeting, said, "A close reading of the conciliar decree in its historical context, indicates that the Catholic doctrines regarding infallibility and universal jurisdiction may not be as absolute as they are often understood on both the Catholic and Orthodox sides." He added that a better understanding of these dogmas "could help to resolve this major obstacle to the rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Patriarch Kirill Supports Serbia in Resolving Kosovo Problem

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia recently expressed his support of the people of Serbia.

"The Russian Orthodox Church will never leave brothers in the Christ in Kosovo enduring the difficult period on the territory of the sacred and God-loving ancestors," he wrote in a message to the President of the Association of the Serb Municipalities in Kosovo, according to the Moscow Patriarchate website.

The Patriarch added, "The Moscow Patriarchate has been invariably supporting efforts of the Serbian state and the Serbian Orthodox Church in search of the weighed and fair decision of the Kosovo problem."

Kosovo broke away from Serbia and declared itself an independent state several months ago. The United Nations, the European Union, and most nations -- including Russia -- have refused to recognize Kosovo as an independent nation.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Orthodox Carpatho-Russians: The People from "Nowhere"

When American pop-artist Andy Warhol was once asked where he came from, he answered, "I come from nowhere." In a sense, he was right, because his real name was Ondrej Varchola, the son of Carpatho-Russian immigrants who came to Pittsburgh in 1918.

You will not find Carpatho-Russia on a map. It exists, and yet it has never existed; indeed, it is "nowhere." It is no wonder that some people call Carpatho-Russians "the Kurds of Europe."

A more common name for Carpatho-Russia is Ruthenia. These Eastern Slavs live in and around the Carpathian Mountains, and speak a language which is similar to -- but different from -- Ukrainian. For more than 1500 years, they have lived in these Carpathian Mountains -- the original home of all the Slavs.

With their emigration, the Carpatho-Russians number as many as one and a half million people. By folklore, the Carpatho-Russians resemble the Slovaks, Ukrainians, and Poles, with influences from Austrians and Hungarians.

Most Carpatho-Russians are Orthodox Christians. They comprise one of the nine major national Orthodox Jurisdictions in America -- the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of the USA (ACROD).

St. Nicholas Icon Exhibition Begins December 1 at Museum of Russian Icons

The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts is presenting an extraordinary collection of icons and holiday events from December 1 through January 9, 2010 to mark the Feast of St. Nicholas and Orthodox Christmas.

The exhibit places 11 St. Nicholas icons together in the upper South Gallery on display to the public for the first time, including the first icon acquired by museum founder Gordon Lankton in 1991.

Visitors will be able to see works spanning four centuries, with 14 others shown throughout the Museum.

St. Nicholas performed good works for the poor and oppressed. His many deeds entered the realm of myth and contribute to stories of Father Christmas, St. Nick, and Santa Claus.

"Free Hugs" to Occur at Celebration in Moscow Today

A celebration titled "Davaite Obnimat'sya!" ("Let's Hug!") will assemble today, November 28, at Pushkin Square in Moscow, according to the Voices from Russia website.

It will be part of a series of such actions around the world, designed to give a warm greeting to people on the street, organizers of the rally said.

Organizers believe that 100 to 150 people will take part in the Moscow celebration.

This celebration reminds me of the "Christ is in Our Midst" portion of the Sunday church services. Some churches do encourage hugging by parishioners at that time, because it portrays how loving Christ is toward mankind. We do need more love -- and less hate -- in our society today. Do you agree with me? Let us know how you feel by posting a comment....

Friday, November 27, 2009

Russian Patriarch Protests Court Ruling to Ban Crucifixes in Italian Schools

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has supported Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's opposition to the idea of banning crucifixes from Italian public schools.

"Italy and other European countries' Christian heritage must not be subject to scrutiny at European rights agencies," Patriarch Kirill said in a letter to Berlusconi, posted today on the Moscow Patriarchate's website.

The Patriarch was commenting on the ruling, passed by the European Court of Human Rights on November 3, on a lawsuit, filed by an Italian mother, who claimed that the crucifixes in public schools are a violation of human rights.

A mother from Greece, whose son is studying in Italy, appealed the ruling to ban crucifixes in Italian public schools two weeks ago.

Orthodox and Catholics to Prepare Joint Approach on Dialogue with EU

Orthodox and Catholics intend to develop a joint approach to forming dialogue with the European Union (EU), according to the Interfax-Religion website.

The first working meeting was held on November 17, 2009. Representatives of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches at the EU took part in it.

During the discussion, participants at the meeting underlined the importance of a uniform approach development of Christian Churches for forming institutional dialogue with the EU.

They especially noted the importance of the joint mission of Orthodox and Catholic Churches, because these churches tend to have the same positions in the majority of pressing questions.

As a result of this meeting, participants have decided to hold such consultations regularly as of December, 2009.

Russian President to Meet with Pope Benedict in Vatican on December 3

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will meet with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican on December 3, 2009 during his brief visit to Italy, the Kremlin said today.

Medvedev's talks with the Pope could help in mending ties between the Roman Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox Church.

The late Russian Patriarch Alexi II refused to meet with the then Pope John Paul II, and called for resolving disputes between the two churches.

Earlier this year, Medvedev had spoken about plans to improve ties with the Vatican, which have been strained in recent years over the Orthodox Church's displeasure at the Roman Catholic Church's missionary activities and conversions in Russia.

New Russian Patriarch Kiril, who succeeded Alexi II earlier this year, is considered to be a liberal in the predominantly conservative Russian Orthodox Church, and is reported to be eager to mend relations with the Vatican.

A meeting between Patriarch Kiril and Pope Benedict XVI is expected to occur in 2010, because of the friendly ecclesiastical interaction that has prevailed between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Vatican in recent months.

Holy Synod to Elect New Serbian Patriarch on January 22

The new Serbian Orthodox Patriarch will be elected on January 22, 2010 by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Church's website said today.

The election will take place 40 days after the November 15 death of Patriarch Pavle.

Patriarch Pavle -- elected to head the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1990 -- died at the age of 95 of a cardiac arrest during his sleep, after being treated for two years in the Belgrade Military Medical Academy.

Serbia declared a period of national mourning, and more than a half-million Serbs lined the streets to bid farewell to Patriarch Pavle, as the country's Orthodox Church leader was buried in a Belgrade suburb.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Corruption Pervades Nearly All Aspects of Life in Romania

Romania is primarily an Orthodox Christian country with a solid economy and a passionate democratic life, but it has a serious problem that it needs to rectify: rampant corruption.

According to the National Public Radio (NPR) website, corruption and bribes have become a part of nearly every aspect of Romanian life: medical care, justice, education, and even religion.

In one recent high-profile case, Razvan Chiruta, a reporter with "Romania Libera" newspaper, and a colleague went undercover as prospective priests. They videotaped Archbishop Theodosius of Constanta,one of the highest officials in the Romanian Orthodox Church, allegedly agreeing to sell them positions in the priesthood.

Chiruta said they were told to pay $4,500, but it can go up to nearly $75,000, depending on where you are. "It depends where you become a priest. If you become a priest in the countryside, it's cheaper," he said.

Despite the video evidence, Archbishop Theodosius remains in his post. He denies the charges. Romanian prosecutors and church officials say they are investigating.

What do you think about the rampant corruption in Romania? How can it be put to rest? Let us know your thoughts with a comment....

Meeting on Orthodox Christianity and Judaism Focuses on "The World in Crisis "

The Seventh Academic Consultation of Orthodox Christians and Judaism was held in Athens, Greece on "The World in Crisis: Ethical Challenges and Religious Perspectives" from November 10-12, 2009.

Thirty delegates participated in the meeting, co-chaired by Rabbi Richard Marker, Chair of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, and His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Director of the Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union, Office of Interreligious and Intercultural Affairs, Brussels.

The meeting opened with a welcome message from His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who said, "For a world in crisis and yearning for hope, the parallel aspirations of the Sacred Scripture -- whether of the Torah and Prophets or the Gospels and Epistles -- are the source of inspiration for the world."

Additional messages were delivered by Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, and Archbishop Hieronymos II of Athens and All Greece. Rabbi David Rosen, Interreligious Affairs Advisor to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, also delivered a message.

For a more in-depth description of this meeting, visit the Archons website.

Archbishop of Canterbury's Views on Anglicans Converting to Catholicism

Now that the Archbishop of Canterbury has had several weeks to contemplate the ramifications of the Vatican's surprise announcement to ease the conversion of Anglicans to Catholicism, the question arises of how he really views this phenomenon.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, had no part whatsoever in the development of this plan, and was only given two weeks' notice of its announcement by the Vatican. Dr. Williams -- the most senior cleric in the Church of England -- recently said that joint statements made by the Anglican and Catholic churches since the 1960s showed a "strong convergence" in ideas about what the Christian Church is.

He admitted that there remain areas where the denominations differ -- such as the role of the Pope, the ordination of women, and same-sex marriages -- but claimed that these are not theological but "second order" issues.

The Archbishop said that the "unfinished business" between Catholicism and Anglicanism is not "as fundamentally church-dividing as our Roman Catholic friends generally assume and maintain."

What do you personally think of the Pope easing the procedure for Anglicans to convert to Catholicism? We would like an exchange of ideas, so please comment....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Russian Communists Seek to Eliminate "God" from National Anthem

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (Kprf) wants to delete the reference to God from the text of the national anthem. Boris Kashin, of the Chamber of Deputies of Moscow, has submitted a bill to replace the phrase of the anthem that says "protected by God as our beloved homeland" with "protected by us as our beloved homeland."

Kashin complains that the anthem does not respect the various non-Christian religions recognized in the Federation and offends the feelings of atheists.

Lyubov Sliska, vice chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, said the Kprf proposal was a "rude initiative." He added, "If the communists think that the word of 'God' is in contradiction with the Constitution, that means that they think they can put themselves in the place of God, and this is a grave mistake."

For more information on this subject, visit the Directions to Orthodoxy website.

Evangelicals Woo Orthodox Christians in Egypt

Prominent Orthodox leaders have publicly accused Protestant Evangelicals -- a Christian sect with strong roots in the United States -- of recruiting Orthodox youth during the past few months, as part of a broader plot to evangelize Egypt's estimated eight million Christians.

"There are many rules among Christians. One of the most important of these rules is not to recruit people from one church to another," said Father Abdel Masiih Basiit, pastor of St. Mary's Orthodox Church of Mostarid in Qalubiya, about an hour north of Cairo. He added, "The Evangelicals did not respect this rule."

Protestant leaders have denied that there is any such recruitment scheme in Egypt. They do admit, however, that Evangelicals proselytize those Christians whose faith has lapsed and who may lack allegiance to a specific Christian sect.

For more information on this topic, visit the Coptreal website.

Priest-Writer Says Writing Is a Calling by God

A Nigerian Roman Catholic priest, who appeared on the Opra Winfrey television show and won praise for his fictional accounts of the lives of children in Africa, says writing, like the priesthood, is a religious calling.

"If you want your congregation to listen, that's where you begin: stories," author Uwem Akpan said during a recent reading and discussion at New York's Inter-church Center.

Akpan said he has more control in writing fiction than in his work as a priest. In the priesthood, he added, "You have to work with the characters God has made."

For more information on this priest-writer, visit the Ecumenical News International (ENI) website.

Russian Rabbi Advises Russians Not to Marry Foreigners

Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar has warned Russians against entering into a marriage with foreigners, according to the Interfax-Religion website.

"You know, even Jews from Georgia, from Caucasus are quite strongly different from European Jews. I don't advise such couples to marry -- there are a lot of cultural distinctions," the Rabbi told the "Izvestia Nedeli" weekly.

He added that there is a huge number of divorces between Russians and foreigners.

According to Rabbi Lazar, men and women are "so strongly different from each other, it is better to search for the second half with similar mentality."

What do you think about Rabbi Lazar's advice on marriage? We encourage you to express your views with a comment.

Artists Agree to Support Mission of Church

In a landmark meeting in the Sistine Chapel with Pope Benedict XVI on November 21, 2009, more than 250 international artists agreed that the art world is ready to collaborate with the church in creating inspirational modern art.

The artists were invited to the Vatican in an effort to revitalize dialogue and collaboration between the worlds of faith and art.

In his address to the artists, Pope Benedict said his meeting with the artists was "my invitation to friendship, dialogue, and cooperation." He urged the artists to think of themselves as "custodians of beauty."

For more information on this meeting, visit the Catholic News website.

Bishop Forbids Rep. Kennedy from Receiving Communion

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island has told U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy not to receive Holy Communion -- the central sacrament of the Catholic Church -- because of the Congressman's support for abortion rights.

Rep. Kennedy, who is the son of the late U.S. Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy of Massachusetts, criticized the nation's Catholic bishops last month for threatening to oppose an overhaul of the nation's health-care system, unless lawmakers included tighter restrictions on abortion. Bishop Tobin said Rep. Kennedy made an unprovoked attack on the Catholic Church and demanded an apology, according to the Associated Press.

This week Bishop Tobin said, "Because of his obstinate public support of abortion, which is clearly contrary to an essential teaching of the church of a matter of critical morality, he is then not properly prepared to receive Holy Communion. No one has a right to receive Holy Communion."

This quote of Bishop Tobin seems to me to be very offensive in describing Rep. Kennedy's recent support of abortion. What do you think? Please feel free to comment.

Town Denies Church Permission for Nativity Scene

Members of the First Parish Church in Manchester-by-the-Sea (MA) planned to present a play on Christmas eve, having a nativity scene with people playing the roles of Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus.

Unfortunately, town leaders this week denied permission of church members to take part in this play. The problem, the town said, is that the church is located very close to public property.

Excuse me, but what is wrong with having a Christmas play on public property? Isn't the play available for everyone in the town to see? Or, is this just another example of secularism prevailing over Christianity because of our selfish-oriented society?

We would like to know what you think about this situation. Please feel free to comment on it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Patriarch Bartholomew's Visit to Washington Leads to Key Legislation

Some of the most influential U.S. Senators introduced legislation this week, calling on Turkey to reopen the Greek Orthodox Theological School in Halki, Turkey, "without condition or further delay" and to "address other longstanding concerns relating to the Ecumenical Patriarchate," according to the Archons website."

While in Washington, D.C. during the first week in November, 2009, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew held in-depth discussions with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as well as numerous other key members of Congress and Administration officials.

Patriarch Bartholomew is the spiritual leader of some 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world. This number of Orthodox Christians is greater than the number in all of the Protestant denominations combined.

The Patriarch of Constantinople has often been compared to the Pope at Rome, because by virtue of his title, the Patriarch of Constantinople is considered to be "first among equals" with respect to all of the other Orthodox Patriarchs around the world.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Patriarch Kirill: Christian Identity Essential for Europe's Survival

A greeting today from Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to the participants of a conference in Venice titled "Identity of Values for Europe" states, "Christianity has formed Europe's values basis and idea. Outside the Christian tradition, it is impossible to become aware of the inner contents and driving mechanism of the development of this region and the cultural code of the ethnoses inhabiting it."

Patriarch Kirill added, "Europe's Christian identity is an immutable given which cannot be destroyed without destroying the European world itself."

He also urged the participants of the conference to increase Christian principles, "putting them in the foundation of all the socially significant projects."

For more information on this topic, visit the Interfax-Religion website.

Orthodox Christians View Icons as "Windows to Heaven"

Icons are customary in all Eastern Orthodox Churches, and are often called “windows to heaven,” because they offer us a glimpse of what awaits us in eternity with Christ.

The word icon is derived from eikon, the Greek word meaning “image.” An icon can be defined as an image created for religious veneration that provides a space for the mystical encounter between the person before it and God.

Icons usually represent Christ, the Virgin Mary, the saints, and angels. Since the sixth century, they have been considered to be a means to assist the worshipper in making his prayers heard by the holy figure represented in the icon.

The icon developed from the mosaic and fresco tradition of early Byzantine art. Unfortunately, early examples of this art have been lost mainly because of their destruction during the iconoclastic controversy (726-843).
Iconoclasm—that is, the opposition and destruction of icons-- began in 726, when Emperor Leo III and a group of traditionalists believed misinterpretation of religious images could lead to heresy. Consequently, the iconoclasts banned all pictorial representations and began a systematic destruction of holy images.

To counter the iconoclasts, the iconodules (defenders of icons) argued that icons were not worshipped, but venerated, and that veneration was not idolatry. The most influential spokesman for the support of icons, St. John of Damascus (627-749), argued that icons of Christ may be made because of the incarnation of the Son of God. Therefore, to prohibit icons is in effect a denial that God became man in Christ.

Although St. John’s argument appeared to be persuasive, the attack on icons continued. Finally, the iconoclasts were defeated once and for all in 843 during the reign of Empress Theodora. The day of their defeat is celebrated in the Orthodox Church each year on the first Sunday of Great Lent known as the Triumph of Orthodoxy.

Following the triumph of the icon defenders, Byzantine icons were produced at a rapid pace. This was the case until 1453 when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire.

Thereafter, Russia became the center of iconography until 1917 when the Bolshevik Revolution occurred. This Revolution resulted in a godless communist government ruling Russia, until its collapse in 1991.
Icons are a glorification of the incarnation of the Lord, since they remind us that Christ rescued man from his sins and death. Because Christ took on human flesh, we can see Him. His face can be portrayed on wood with paint.
Iconography is a sacred art created with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Painting an icon requires prayer, humility, repentance, fasting, humility, and Holy Communion on the part of the iconographer. An iconographer is usually a pious monk and devout Christian whose primary objective is to serve the Lord and to glorify His Church.

The creation of an icon is a stylized art based upon Holy Tradition. St. Luke is credited with painting the first icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Each subsequent iconographer has used the original icon as a guide. Therefore, even today an iconographer may not change the shape of Christ’s face.
The painter of an icon must abide by certain rules and regulations concerning the execution of his work. These guidelines have been established by the Orthodox Church and one is not allowed to deviate from the norms which the Church has sanctioned.

Almost everything painted on an icon has a symbolic meaning. Christ, the Virgin Mary, the saints, and the angels all have halos which represent the presence of the Holy Spirit. Color also plays an important part. Gold represents heaven and eternity; red, divine life; blue, purity; and white, the divine energies used only for the Resurrection and Transfiguration of Christ.
As links between Heaven and earth, icons continue to evoke for Orthodox Christians the invisible presence of the Kingdom of Heaven. Indeed, icons are “windows to Heaven,” because they allow us to venerate Christ and His saints and to look forward to His Kingdom.

(George Patsourakos of Billerica, MA retired as an education specialist for the United States government. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in education, both from Northeastern University. You can email him at

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Catholic Priests Become Anglicans in Order to Marry

The Catholic Church in South Korea has lost four priests to the Anglicans in recent years, with marriage cited as the most important reason.

"They want to marry and at the same time serve as pastors," Anglican Father Peter Lee Kyong-nae, a former Catholic seminarian, told the Asian church news agency, UCA News. Two more Catholic priests are currently preparing to become Anglican priests, he added.

While the focus of attention in the Catholic Church around the world concerns Pope Benedict XVI's decision in October, 2009 to make it easier for Anglicans to become Catholics, Korea has had an opposite effect, as several Catholic priests have become Anglicans, so that they can get married and still preach the Word of God.

Whether a plethora of Catholic priests around the world will become Anglicans, in order to get married -- and still remain pastors -- might prove to be an interesting by-product, resulting from the current close relations between the Catholic and Anglican Churches.

Archbishop of Canterbury Meets with Pope

Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams held a cordial meeting at the Vatican on November 21, 2009 -- their first meeting since the Vatican eased the process for Anglicans to convert to Catholicism four weeks earlier.

A recent Vatican initiative would allow congregations -- and even dioceses -- to become Catholic, while keeping some of the Anglican liturgy and traditions.

The Vatican said the pope and Williams discussed recent events between their two churches, and agreed to continue ecumenical discussions.

Many Anglicans have converted to Catholicism during the past year or so, because they disagree with the Anglican Church's acceptance of women and gay clergy.

For more information on this topic, visit the United Press International (UPI) website.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Religious Leaders Sign "Manhattan Declaration"

Some 125 U.S. religious leaders -- Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant -- signed a declaration in New York City recently that addresses the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty.

Known as the "Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience," the statement urges Christians to adhere to their convictions, and informs civil authorities that the signers will not "under any circumstances" abandon their Christian consciences. The text of the declaration was released on November 20, 2009.

For more information on this declaration, log onto the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) website.

The Moscow Patriarchate and the Pope

Has anyone noticed how the Russian Orthodox Church and the Moscow Patriarchate have been having a warm and friendly relationship with Pope Benedict XVI? Russian Orthodox hierarchs have gone to Rome on several occasions during the past few months to meet with the Pope or his representative. One of the major topics they discussed is Christian unity.

Does this mean that the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church could set the groundwork to establish a united Christian Church?

I find this relationship between Moscow and Rome to be interesting, because I would have expected to see the Patriarch of Constantinople -- who is "first among equals" with respect to all of the Orthodox Patriarchs -- or his representative visiting Rome, rather than Russian hierarchs, in an effort to establish Christian unity between Orthodoxy and Catholicism.

We need to keep in mind that Pope Benedict XVI recently eased the process for Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church. Because of the exceptionally warm recent relationship between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Pope, it would not surprise me if Pope Benedict also eased this process for Russian Orthodox Christians.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lesbian Woman Ordained Bishop of Stockholm

Church of Sweden Archbishop Anders Wejryd ordained an openly lesbian woman as Bishop of Stockholm on November 8, 2009, according to Ecumenical News International (ENI).

The archbishop said the Swedish (Lutheran) Church encourages faithful and stable relationships between people whatever their sexual orientation may be.

The Church of Sweden issued a press statement when Eva Brunne, 55, was consecrated as the Bishop of Stockholm in a ceremony at Uppsala Cathedral, the mother church of the world's largest Lutheran denomination with some seven million members.

Brunne lives in a civil union with another woman, Gunilla Linden, who is a Church of Sweden pastor, and they are the guardians of a three-year-old child.

What are your thoughts on this situation?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Russian Orthodox and Catholic Churches May Unite

The Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches have held several high-level talks in recent months to lay the groundwork for a historic meeting of their two leaders that could result in uniting the two churches.

Archbishop Hilarion, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign relations department, said that both sides wanted a meeting.

In an interview with the "Telegraph" of England, Hilarion spoke of a rapprochement under Pope Benedict XVI that would allow for a meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kiril.

Hilarion said that there have been "noticeable improvements" in relations between the two churches in recent years. He added that significant progress began after Benedict XVI became pope.

The Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches have been in existence since 1054 when the Great Schism occurred. The Great Schism split the Christian Church into two major divisions -- the Roman Catholic Church with headquarters in Rome, and the Eastern Orthodox Church with headquarters in Constantinople.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Court Orders Italy to Remove Classroom Crucifixes

On November 3, 2009, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in France ruled that the presence of crucifixes in classrooms in Italy violated a child's right to freedom of religion.

Consequently, Italy must remove all the crucifixes from all of its classrooms.

The Greek Orthodox Church is urging Christians throughout Europe to oppose this ban of classroom crucifixes, because it fears that this ruling could set a precedent to ban crucifixes in other European countries.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Russia to End 50-year Lutheran Dialogue

The Russian Orthodox Church will soon sever its 50-year dialogue with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (EKD), because a woman bishop was elected to chair the EKD's council. The Orthodox Church does not accept female clergy.

The woman bishop, Margot Kaessmann, was elected the leader of the EKD at a Synod meeting held on October 28, 2009, according to Russia's daily online newspaper, Kommersant. The EKD unites more than 20 Lutheran and Reformed Churches.

Russian Lutherans supported the Moscow Patriarchate's decision to sever relations with the EKD, and agreed that female episcopate is a sign of crisis in Western society.

Because it is considered a violation of Christian Doctrine, both the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches do not allow females to be clergy; however, some Protestant denominations do allow women to be clergy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A United American Orthodox Church

I don't know about anyone else, but I believe that Orthodox Americans have waited long enough -- in fact, too long -- for the establishment of a united American Orthodox Church. Such a church would unite the various Orthodox ethnic jurisdictions into one spiritual and harmonious Orthodox Church.

I believe that this goal has not been achieved because the motherland countries and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople do not want to relinquish their control of the various ethnic jurisdictions. I find this desire for power and control to be ironic -- even sacrilegious -- because Christ did not want His Church to be subdivided into various ethnic or national divisions; rather, Christ wanted His Church to be solidified in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cost of Discipleship: The perfect Psalm

Cost of Discipleship: The perfect Psalm
The perfect Psalm indicates that as long as we love and revere Jesus -- and we pray faithfully to Him every day -- we do not have to fear anything.