Monday, May 31, 2010

Bartholomew Urges Ukrainian Dissenters to Repent and Join Canonic Orthodox Church

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew today (May 31, 2010) urged Ukrainian dissenters to repent and join the canonic Orthodox Church, according to the Interfax-Religion website.

He noted that speaking with Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev and All Ukraine, he wished him that "he be honored by God to see the solution to this problem while alive, and that the schism ceased to exist."

Patriarch Bartholomew expressed a willingness of his Church to pray both for "Russian and Ukrainian people."

Although Ukraine is a predominantly Orthodox nation, the Orthodox Church in Ukraine is divided into a Moscow Patriarchy and an independent Kiev Patriarchy, which declared its independence from Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Patriarch Bartholomew's call for Ukraine dissenters to join the Canonic Orthodox Church follows his week-long visit in Russia with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. Patriarch Kirill had visited Ukraine in 2009, at which time he urged the independent Kiev Patriarchy to relinquish its independence and unite with the Moscow Patriarchy. It appears obvious that the Kiev Patriarchy has no intention whatsoever of giving up its independence.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

COMMENTARY: A New Spiritual Resurrection Is Now Flourishing in the Orthodox Church

A new spiritual and harmonious resurrection has occurred in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It actually began to flourish a few months ago, but it was solidified and brought to completion this week with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's visit and dialogue with Russian Patriarch Kirill in Moscow.

Until a year ago or so, there was much friction between the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. This included the anger of of the Russian Patriarchate when Estonia was granted permission by the Patriarch of Constantinople to leave Russia's jurisdiction , and to come directly under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.

Another example of friction dealt with meetings of Orthodox hierarchs with the Patriarch of Constantinople, who is considered to be "the first among equals" in his relationship with other Orthodox Patriarchs. Russian hierarchs had become so infuriated by the power and pompousness displayed by the Patriarch of Constantinople that they actually refused to attend such meetings. Moreover, they described the Patriarch of Constantinople as "the Eastern Pope," and referred to Moscow as "the third Rome."

So much for past friction. These differences have now been resolved, since both the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Patriarch of Russia have become more humble in recent months. Humility -- Jesus' favorite attribute -- can indeed be a powerful force in resolving serious differences.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev -- upon welcoming Patriarch Bartholomew to Moscow -- said, "Your visit will help strengthen the dialogue which links the two churches."

In fact, this harmonious dialogue that occurred between Patriarch Bartholomew and Patriarch Kirill will have a significant impact on all Orthodox Christians for many years. Patriarch Bartholomew is the spiritual leader of more than 300 million Orthodox Christians, more than half of whom are of Russian ancestry.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Catholic Charities Aids Oil Spill Victims; Fishing Industry to Lose Some $2.5 Billion

Catholic Charities is working full-time to aid fishermen and others affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill damage in the Gulf of Mexico, the Zenit website reports today.

The oil spill -- the worst in American history -- resulted from an April 20, 2010 well blowout on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling platform that killed 11 and injured 17 others.

On May 24, 2010, the U.S. government declared a fisheries disaster for the states of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. It is estimated that the fishing industry will lose $2.5 billion due to the disaster.

Catholic Charities is providing food, case management, crisis counseling, and other services through several local parishes.

Israeli Activists Arrested for Shouting Insults at White House Chief of Staff Emanuel

Two ultranationalist Israeli activists were arrested yesterday (May 27, 2010) for shouting insults at White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

The two men approached Emanuel as he was touring Jerusalem's Old City with his family yesterday under heavy security, according to the Associated Press website.

The protesters began shouting insults and slogans from afar, including "Jerusalem is not for sale." They were referring to the White House pressure on Israel to stop construction of housing in disputed East Jerusalem.

Emanuel, an American Jew, is in Israel to celebrate his son's bar mitzvah -- a coming-of-age ceremony for 13-year-old Jewish boys. Emanuel has also taken time out of his private visit to meet with Israeli leaders.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

WCC Praises Turkish PM Erdogan's Decree to Protect Rights of Non-Muslim Minorities

The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit today praised a recent Turkish government decree allowing for a better protection of the rights of non-Muslim religious minorities in Turkey.

According to a May 21, 2010 report by Ecumenical News International, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree in mid-May ordering local officials "to do more to protect the rights of Christian and other non-Muslim religious minorities, such as by returning their confiscated properties and taking action against anti-Christian groups."

"We hope that local Turkish officials will expedite the application of this decree and thus bring about an improvement in the situation of communities which, as the Prime Minister has said, are an inseparable part of the Republic of Turkey and must feel fully valued as citizens of the country," Tveit said.

"Of curse, more needs to be done, but this is a sign that goes in the right direction," he added.

Prime Minister Erdogan's decree brings to mind an interview of Patriarch Bartholomew on the American TV program "60 Minutes" late in 2009, in which the Ecumenical Patriarch -- whose patriarchate is located in Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey -- said that Christians were being treated as second-class citizens in Turkey, and he felt that he was being "crucified."

Court in Turkey Rules to Exempt Child from Religious Courses; Parents Are Atheists

Today's Zaman website reports that a court in Istanbul, Turkey ruled this week to exempt a fourth-grade child from compulsory religious courses upon an appeal by the child's parents on the grounds that they are atheists.

S.A.K. and Y.K. -- a couple residing in the Eyup district of Istanbul -- had petitioned the Eyup District Governor's Office to exempt the child, A.K., from compulsory religious courses at the school. The petition was rejected by the office in accordance with the Constitution, which says religious courses are compulsory.

The couple appealed the decision at the Istanbul 8th Administrative Court, which unanimously ruled to overturn the district governor's office's decision.

In its reasoning for the decision, the court pointed to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of thought, and Article 24 of the Constitution on freedom of religion.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Saudi Cleric Says Sports "Corrupting" Women; Seeks to Enforce Law Banning Women's Sports

A leading cleric in Saudi Arabia has urged the government to uphold a ban on allowing women's sports in the kingdom, the Worldwide Religious News website reports today (May 26, 2010).

Sheikh Abdul Karum al-Khudhair, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, said sports were "corrupting" and "satanic" for women, and women should stay at home instead.

The Saudi government had previously chosen to turn a blind eye to unlicensed women's groups in order to avoid criticism from religious scholars.

It is still illegal for women's gyms or fitness centers to operate in Saudi Arabia, but some underground venues exist, and these are becoming increasingly popular.

Pope: Authority of Pope and Bishops Is Not Autocratic; Derived from Christ to Serve God

Pope Benedict XVI today (May 26, 2010) urged Catholics to pray for him, so he can "take care of the entire community of the faithful, including those who are in sin," according to the Life in Italy website.

Addressing his weekly general audience at St. Peter's square, Benedict said the authority of the pope and of bishops was not that of "autocrats" but derived from Christ and "is transformed into a mission to serve God."

"Even the pope cannot do what he likes, because he is the guardian of obedience to Christ and His Word," said the 83-year-old pontiff.

The Church has been disgraced during the past year by a series of sex abuse scandals. Pedophile scandals of priests have affected the Catholic Church in the United States, Australia, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Germany, and Italy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ACLJ Represents 13-Year-Old N.Y. Student Who Was Suspended for Wearing a Rosary to School

The Christian Post website reports today (May 25, 2010) that the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is representing a 13-year-old student from New York who received a two-day suspension for wearing a rosary to school.

The Christian legal group announced its role in the case of Raymond Hosier on Friday, May 21, 2010 -- two days after the teen was suspended from Oneida Middle School in Schenectady, New York, for refusing to take the beads off or tuck them in his shirt.

"The action taken by the school district -- suspending the student for wearing a religious artifact -- is insulting and inappropriate," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ.

"The Supreme Court has been very clear that students do not surrender their constitutional rights to religious expression when they go to school," Sekulow added.

Based in Washington, D.C., the ACLJ focuses on constitutional law and "is specifically dedicated to the ideal that religious freedom and freedom of speech are inalienable, God-given rights."

Patriarch Bartholomew's Visit to Moscow Enhances a Synergy for All Orthodox Christians

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warmly welcomed the spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians today (May 25, 2010), hailing improving ties between Russia's powerful church and its ancestor faith.

"The visit of your holiness is a significant event and, beyond all doubt, it will help strengthen the dialogue which always linked the two sister churches," Medvedev told Bartholomew, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, according to The Moscow Times website.

Medvedev said Bartholomew's visit was "especially important, taking into account the fact that Russia is a country where the majorty of the population is Christian Orthodox in its faith."

Religion experts said that the significance of Bartholomew's visit to Moscow could not be overestimated.

"This is an extraordinary visit," said Father Mark Arey, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, an expert on relations between Moscow and Constantinople.

"It signals a real synergy for world Orthodoxy and shows they (the patriarchs) are working toward solutions of the problems they have."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Church Ends Legal Battle with Czech Republic; State and Church to Jointly Run Cathedral

The Roman Catholic Church ended its 18-year-old legal battle with the Czech Republic over the ownership of Prague's St. Vitus Cathedral, one of the country's most important landmarks, the Earth Times website reports today (May 24, 2010).

President Vaclav Klaus and Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka signed a joint administration of the cathedral -- located in the heart of Prague castle -- by both the state and the church.

"The just-signed declaration ends the court dispute over the cathedral and some other properties at Prague Castle," Klaus said during the signing ceremony, held in the cathedral today.

Under the compromise deal, the state will allow the church to use two buildings at the Prague Castle complex for free, and pay for the cathedral's operations and repairs.

The latest deal marks a thaw in church-state relations in the Czech Republic -- one of the most secular countries in Europe.

Pope's Pentecost Homily: "Gift of Holy Spirit Continues to Be Given to Jesus' Disciples"

"The church is, by its nature, one and universal, destined to live among all nations, all peoples, and in the most varied social contexts," Pope Benedict XVI said on Sunday, May 23, 2010, during his homily at a Mass celebrating the feast of Pentecost.

The pope said the gift of the Holy Spirit -- poured out on the Apostles on the first Pentecost -- continues to be given to Jesus' disciples, the Catholic News website reports today.

"Unity is the sign of recognition, the 'calling card' of the church," he said.

The pope added that the Holy Spirit's constant movement toward unity is a key tool for determining whether a person or action is truly Christian.

Some 250 Million Christians Celebrate Global Day of Prayer in 219 Nations

An estimated 250 million Christians lifted their voices to God on the 10th anniversary of the Global Day of Prayer, which was observed on Sunday, May 23, 2010.

Participating Christians reportedly prayed in 219 nations. Believers gathered in stadiums, concert halls, and in small groups in cities and villages around the world.

The prayer themes for this year included the global financial crisis, the HIV-AIDS epidemic, as well as crime and government corruption.

The annual day of prayer observance began in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2000, according to the Christian Broadcast Network website.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Patriarch Irinej: "Serbia Is Not Serbia without Kosovo; It is a Being without a Head"

The Serbian Patriarch Irinej said last week that the partition of Kosovo is both unacceptable and unachievable, according to the True Orthodox and Ecmenical News website.

He added that the situation in the province is very difficult and that he cannot imagine the Pec patriarchy not being a part of Serbia, but a part of another country, saying this also would be unacceptable.

"Serbia is not Serbia without Kosovo. For me, it is a being without a head. Our country cannot be beheaded and stripped of Kosovo," Patriarch Irinej said.

Kosovo -- a former province in Serbia -- illegally seceded from Serbia and declared its independence in February 2008. The United Nations and most countries of the world -- including Serbia -- do not recognize Kosovo as an independent nation. Serbia has referred the Kosovo situation to the International Court of Justice in Holland, where a ruling on Kosovo's status is expected to be made in the summer of 2010.

COMMENTARY: Judges in Lithuania Lack Wisdom in Ruling Swastikas Not a Nazi Symbol in WWII

A court in Lithuania ruled on May 19, 2010 that a swastika is part of that country's historic legacy, and not a Nazi symbol.

Excuse me, unintelligent judges in Lithuania, but was the swastika not a Nazi symbol when Nazi Germany, under Adolph Hitler, started World War II by invading Poland in 1939? Moreover, was the swastika not the symbol of Nazi Germany when the Germans were responsible for the murder of some six million innocent Jews from 1939 through 1945?

Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi hunter, is correct in calling the Lithuanian court decision "outrageous." He is also correct in saying that Lithuanian judges are "again" showing their bias in favor of Holocaust perpetrators rather than the victims.

The fact is that in the past, Lithuania has done nothing with respect to the display of swastikas on May Day and in front of the presidential palace in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. Such inaction tends to illustrate that Lithuanians have no empathy for the six million Jews who were killed by the Nazis during World War II.

Lithuanians, in general, need to show more compassion toward the victims of the Holocaust, and Lithuanian judges, in particular, need to remove their "blinders" and observe situations in a clear and objective perspective.

Hopefully, higher courts in Lithuania will overturn this contemptible swastika court ruling -- and the sooner the better.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Patriarch Bartholomew Arrives in Moscow; Welcomed by Patriarch Kirill, 100 Priests

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople arrived in Moscow today (May 22, 2010) on an official visit, after being invited by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, according to the RT (Russian Television) website.

At Vanukovo Airport, the head of the Constantinople Church was welcomed by his Russian counterpart, Patriarch Kirill, more than 100 Russian Orthodox priests, children from parochial schools, and several officials.

Patriarch Bartholomew said he and his delegation arrived as pilgrims, to pray at churches in the capital and St. Petersburg. He will also visit the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius and the Valaam Monastery of Valaam Island.

The Patriarch of Constantinople is viewed as "the first among equals" in his relationship with other Orthodox patriarchs. He is also the spiritual leader of more than 300 million Orthodox Christians throughout the world. He resides in the Turkish city of Istanbul -- formerly called Constantinople -- which was the capital of the first Christian empire.

Court in Lithuania Rules Swastikas Are Part of Nation's Historic Legacy, Not Nazi Symbol

A Lithuanian court ruled on May 19, 2010 that a swastika is part of the country's historic legacy, and not a Nazi symbol, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) website reports today.

The ruling capped a three-month case involving four men who displayed swastikas at Klaipeda's national independence parade.

Effraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi hunter and Israel director, called the decision "outrageous" and likely to lead to a tremendous increase in the use of Nazi symbols by Lithuania's ultra-nationalists.

Swastikas previously have been displayed in Lithuania on May Day, and in front of the Presidential Palace in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, according to news reports. Neither instance prompted police or legal action.

Catholic Bishops End Affiliation with LCCR; Say Support of Kagan Debases Catholic Morals

The U.S. Catholic bishops withdrew from a national civil rights coalition on May 19, 2010, after the coalition advocated on behalf of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, the Ethics Daily website reports today.

The Washington-based Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCR) was founded in 1950 by African American and Jewish leaders to press for passage of national civil rights laws.

In recent years, however, the coalition has broadened its agenda to include advocacy for issues that contradict the bishops' principles and policies, said Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, who chairs the bishops' committee on justice and peace.

"The latest example of this is the LCCR support of the solicitor general's nomination to the Supreme Court," Murphy said in a statement. The support of Kagan -- an abortion rights proponent who was President Obama's solicitor general -- "compromises the principled positions of the bishops," Murphy declared.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Serbian Orthodox Church Appoints Hardliner Bishop Radovic as the New Bishop in Kosovo

The Serbian Orthodox Church has appointed a hardliner as the new bishop in Kosovo, after a predecessor was removed over an alleged financial fraud, according to the Associated Press.

The new spiritual leader of the Serbs in Kosovo will be Bishop Amfilohije Radovic, who is notorious for his nationalist and conservative beliefs.

The appointment late yesterday (May 20, 2010) signals that the Serbian Orthodox Church remains firm in its rejection of Kosovo's Western-backed declaration of independence in February 2008. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent nation, because of its illegal secession from Serbia.

The Serbian Church considers Kosovo to be the cradle of its foundation. Hundreds of Serbian monasteries -- some dating back to the medieval era -- are located in Kosovo.

The previous Kosovo bishop, Artemije, was removed from that position in February 2010, over allegations that he embezzled millions of euros in church and state funds.

Train Battle between Poles and Ukrainians Climaxes with Murder on the European Express

A pitched battle between a group of Poles and Ukrainians on a train between Warsaw, Poland and Kiev, Ukraine this week ended when one of the Ukrainians grabbed a fire extinguisher and battered a Polish man over the head before throwing him out of the high-speed train.

Railway spokesman Pitor Stefaniuk said, "The matter is complicated because all the passengers got off the train after reaching Ukraine."

Police spokesman Andrzej Stasieczek added, "It is a murder inquiry. We want anyone that was on that train to get in touch with police."

No arrests have been made on the murder, according to the Austrian Times website.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vatican Expresses Hope for a Meeting between Pope Benedict and Russian Patriarch Kirill

The Vatican hopes that a meeting between the heads of the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church will occur under the Churches' current leaders, a Vatican representative said today (May 20, 2010).

"We are open to this meeting and hope it will become possible during the current pontificate. But we should respect the opinion of the other side; we do not want to and cannot push for it," Cardinal Walter Kasper, the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told RIA Novosti (Russian) website.

"I think this meeting will become possible because it is in the interest of both churches. Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Kirill understand each other very well, are close to each other," he said.

As a result of the Great Schism of 1054, the Christian Church became divided into the Eastern branch (the Orthodox Church) and the Western branch (the Roman Catholic Church). Although the Orthodox and Catholic Churches have been experiencing an unprecedented harmonious relationship in recent years, the two Churches still have a few major theological and social differences upon which they must agree before they can unite into one Christian Church.

Woman Ordained a Catholic "Priest" Dies; Church Refuses to Grant Her Catholic Funeral

A Chicago woman, who devoted her life to the Catholic Church and advocated that the Church accept women as priests, died on May 17, 2010, and now she is being denied a Catholic burial by the Church.

Janine Denomme, 45, was ordained a priest in April 2010 by a group called Roman Catholic Women Priests.

The Archdiocese of Chicago says Denomme automatically separated herself from the Catholic Church when she participated in "the simulation of the sacrament of Holy Orders." In other words, she brought excommunication upon herself by becoming a Catholic "priest."

Consequently, Denomme's funeral mass will be held at First United Methodist Church in Evanston, Illinois, according to the Huffington Post website.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Muslim Teachers in Pakistan Abuse Christians; Make Them Clean Bathrooms after Class Hours

The Compass Direct News website reports today (May 19, 2010) that Muslim teachers at a girls' school in Pakistan have derided Christian students for their faith, beaten them, pressured them to convert to Islam, and forced them to clean school bathrooms and classrooms after class hours.

Muslim teachers at Government Higher Secondary School in Sargodha, in Punjab Province, have so abused Christian students that two of the dozens of Christian girls at the school have dropped out, said a 16-year-old student.

"Christian students are teased and mocked by radical Muslim female teachers from the start of the school day to the end," she said.

Noureen Austin, a 19-year-old Christian student in grade 12, described the school environment as discriminatory, depressed, gloomy, and agitated. She said, "No Christian student can get quality education there. Most of the school faculty are fanatical female Muslims who would not waste any chance to target Christian girls because of their belief in Christ."

Cardinal Says World Needs "Priests in 3D;" Emphasizes Doctrine, Discipline, Devotion

Addressing national directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies on May 17, 2010, Cardinal Ivan Dias said that "the world needs priests and missionaries in 3D -- people who maintain doctrine, discipline, devotion." According to the Catholic Culture website, the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples invoked Cardinal John Henry Newman as a model as he explained this concept.

Safeguarding doctrine -- the first dimension -- means being faithful to the Word of God.

Discipline -- the second dimension -- includes formation in chastity and proper relations with the opposite sex and the management of discord and conflict in relationships and in the community.

Devotion means that the priest -- in each of his small daily actions -- should bear in mind that he is a man of God. He should give primacy to the spirit, keeping in mind that he is in the world, but not of the world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Baptist Church in Dallas Raises $115 Million for New Campus; Pastor Calls It a "Miracle"

The Christian Post website reports today that the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas has raised more than $115 million for a new campus, surpassing what any Protestant megachurch has ever collected toward a project.

Pastor Robert Jeffress called it a "miracle" -- especially for a congregation that's a fraction of the size of some of the largest churches in the United States.

"Let's never forget our Red Sea moment as a church," he said Sunday (May 16, 2010) after the capital campaign result was announced.

Rev. Jeffress added, "For generations to come, people will look at May 16, 2010, as the day God parted the Red Sea and performed a miracle for the First Baptist Church of Dallas -- a miracle that should fill our hearts with gratitude toward God and faith for the future."

UN Senior Envoy Warns of Violence in Kosovo; Calls for Reconciliation between Communities

The absence of a significant process of reconciliation between communities in Kosovo -- which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 -- together with economic difficulties, continues to present the risk of social unrest, a senior United Nations envoy warned yesterday (May 17, 2010).

But the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) continues to devote close attention to issues affecting relations between the majority Albanian and other communities, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative Lamberto Zannier told the Security Council.

UNMIK administered Kosovo from 1999 -- when North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces drove out Yugoslav troops amid bloody ethnic fighting between Serbs and Albanians -- but it gave up its administrative role after the independence declaration in 2008.

The declaration was rejected by Serbia, which still seeks a robust role from the mission as opposed to that envisaged by the authorities in Kosovo's capital of Pristina, according to the Serbianna website.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Metropolitan Zizioulas: We Are Not Bound by Past Evils; Christ Defeats Hatred, Violence, Evil

The past cannot bind the present, Ioannis Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamon (Turkey) said this month (May 2010), as he celebrated Mass among the ruins of the Church of Saint John the Evangelist in Bergama, Turkey, in the presence of Patriarch Bartholomew.

In it, the great theologian of the Orthodox Church -- who co-chairs the Joint Catholic-Orthodox Commission for the unity of the two Churches -- addressed both Christians and non-Christians.

Mass was celebrated with the permission of Turkish authorities, according to the Asia News website.

"This is the greatness of our Church," Zizioulas said, "which seeks to pass on the faith and the certainty of the message of Resurrection, the victory of life over death, because death is not the last word in our life. Hatred, violence, and evil are also not the last words in our life, because they are defeated by Our Lord."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thugs Vandalize Jewish Cemetery in Greece; Police Arrest Three Young Men as Suspects

A Jewish cemetery in Greece was vandalized last week, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) website.

Vandals used rags and gasoline to set fire to a tomb in the Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki in northern Greece on May 13, 2010.

Swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti reading "Fire to the Jews" and "Juden raus" (Jews out) appeared on a number of tombstones, in the alleys and on the surrounding wall of the cemetery.

Following a phone call to police by an area resident, three young men were arrested as suspects.

The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece sent letters condemning the attack to two government ministers, and issued a news release expressing Greek Jewry's outrage at the attack.

COMMENTARY: Kagan's Anti-Christian Views May Cause Senate to Reject Her Judgeship

President Obama has nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to become a judge on the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is not certain that the U.S. Senate will confirm her appointment.

Several factors may have a negative impact on the Senate decision.

First, Kagan has no experience on being a judge -- experience that every new Supreme Court judge has had for the past several decades.

Second, she has promoted same-sex "marriage" as well as abortion.

Third, the Catholic Families for America (CFA) -- one of the largest groups of lay Catholics in the United States -- has opposed Kagan's nomination, and has begun a nationwide petition that it plans to forward to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In fact, the CFA has called Kagan's nomination "an affront to Catholic Church teaching," because of her support of anti-Christian ideas.

Consequently, Kagan faces a rocky road when U.S. Senators begin to question her on her social, legal, and other beliefs in the near future.

In short, Kagan will not have an easy time being confirmed a Supreme Court judge by the U.S. Senate. Personally, it would not surprise me one iota if the Senate rejected her nomination to be a Supreme Court judge.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Archbishop Demetrios to Chair First Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Hierarchs May 26-28

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website reports today (May 15, 2010) that more than 50 hierarchs will take part in the first Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in North and Central America, to be chaired by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America in New York City, May 26-28, 2010.

The Assembly is the result of the decision of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference, which met in Chambesy, Switzerland in June 2009.

The Assembly -- one of 12 that will be convened around the world in regions where there is no single Orthodox presence -- will consist of the active canonical bishops who reside in the region designated as North and Central America.

The Assembly will convene at the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel, where accommodations and arrangements have been coordinated by the staff of Archbishop Demetrios.

Lesbians Claim Being Forced Out of Church for Holding Hands in Pews During Services

The Daily Mail (British) website reports today (May 15, 2010) that a lesbian couple claim they were forced out of their church after they were spotted holding hands during a service.

Kersten Pegden and Nina Lawrence said that other members of the congregation at St. Nicholas Anglican Church in Corfe Mullen, Dorset, England, thought their behavior was "overtly sexual."

Miss Pegden, 38, had attended the church for many years. She separated from her husband in September 2009, and is now going through a divorce.

She said the church vicar, Rev. Pamela Walker, "wanted to know the details about my divorce, how long it was going to be, and the fact it had dragged on too long."

The lesbian couple now attend another church.

Friday, May 14, 2010

CT School District Being Sued for Allowing High School Graduations to Be Held at Church

A Connecticut school district is being sued for allowing two high school graduation ceremonies to be held at a church, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (May 14, 2010).

Enfield Public Schools voted to hold June commencement at a local church because of its size and low cost.

Two students said the decision "coerces students and parents to receive the overwhelming religious message" of church.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed the lawsuit May 5, on behalf of the unidentified students and their parents.

The American Center for Law and Justice is representing the school district in court.

Romanian Orthodox Church Appeals to Build More Churches to Help Counter Economic Crisis

The Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR) made an appeal today (May 14, 2010) to build more churches, in order to help surmount the economic crisis.

BOR said that it is important to continue works for churches under construction and "to build new ones, to help surmount the moral and spiritual crisis, just like the economic and financial one."

The process would help fight individualism, by creating new jobs and encouraging solidarity, the Romanian Times website reports.

Romania -- an Orthodox country -- recently announced a list of austerity measures, including 25 percent salary cuts in the public sector and 15 percent cuts of pensions and all social aid.

Since 1900, about 2,500 new churches have been built in Romania, and recent polls show there is an Orthodox Church for every 1,700 Orthodox people, on average.

Interfaith Council Created in Sweden to Aid Harmony and Engage Those Hostile to Religion

The Ekklesia website reports today that a national interfaith council has been created in Sweden to highlight the role of faith groups in generating understanding, and to respond to those who are hostile to religion.

"We want to strengthen the freedom to believe in and practice religion -- both individually and in fellowship -- but we also want to be a voice for public discussion of ethics and spirituality," said Archbishop Anders Wejryd of the Lutheran Church of Sweden in a recent statement.

The church said the council includes Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh representatives, and that it was formed on May 4, 2010 at a meeting in the archbishop's residence in Uppsala, Sweden.

The interfaith council is made up of 15 people and will meet twice a year. "We have created a national avenue for religious leaders in Sweden to come together, not a new organization," said Wejryd.

About 87 percent of Sweden's nine million people belong to the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vienna Archbishop, Patriarch Bartholomew to Visit Moscow to Enhance Orthodox Relations

The Austrian Times website reports today (May 13,2010) that Vienna Greek Orthodox Archbishop Michael Staikos -- the Orthodox Church's Exarch for Central Europe -- will visit Moscow on Pentecost, May 24.

He will be accompanied by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

Staikos has said he is confident that the pan-Orthodox Council -- which has been in the planning stages for years -- will finally take place in 2012 or 2013.

Staikos told Catholic press agency, Kathpress, that relations between Moscow and Constantinople have improved significantly since the new Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill's recent visit to Istanbul (Constantinople).

Staikos said Bartholomew's upcoming visit to Moscow is an attempt to enhance intra-Orthodox relations.

Pope Says Same-Sex Marriages and Abortions Are the Most Dangerous Challenges of Society

In a strongly worded attack, Pope Benedict XVI today (May 13, 2010) insisted that marriage should be founded on the "indissoluble" marriage between a man and a woman, according to the Telegraph (British) website.

Addressing a huge crowd at the shrine of Fatima at the climax of his four-day visit to Portugal, the 83-year-old Pope said that same-sex marriage and abortion were among the "most insidious and dangerous challenges that today confront the common good."

He expressed his "profound appreciation" for anti-abortion campaigners, whom he praised for defending the right to life and the "recovery of people wounded by the drama of abortion."

The Vatican regards being homosexual as a "deviation" and an "irregularity" and the act of homosexual sex as a sin.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

U.S. Official on Serbia: It Can Only Join EU When It Resolves Its Differences with Kosovo

A senior U.S. official today (May 12,2010) said that Serbia must resolve its differences with Kosovo before it can join the European Union (EU), according to the Serbianna website.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008 and is recognized by the United States and all but five members of the EU.

"Serbia's path to the EU will only be completed when it resolves its differences with Kosovo," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phillip Gordon told reporters on the first leg of his Balkans tour in Kosovo's capital, Pristina.

"The EU has been quite clear that it is not going to be too keen to incorporate border disputes, non-recognitions, and ambiguous relationships," Gordon said.

Gordon's comments appear to reflect an ongoing American foreign policy which favors Kosovo over Serbia, and dates back to Kosovo's illegal secession from Serbia in 2008. The United States was one of the first nations to recognize Kosovo as an independent country; however, the United Nations, the European Union, and most countries of the world -- including Serbia -- have refused to recognize Kosovo as an independent nation.

Serbia has referred the question of Kosovo's status to the International Court of Justice in Holland, where a decision is expected to be made soon on whether Kosovo should be recognized as an independent nation or as a province in Serbia.

Catholic School in Mass. Denies Acceptance of Eight-Year-Old Boy Due to Lesbian Parents

The Associated Press website reports today that a Roman Catholic school in Massachusetts has withdrawn its acceptance of an eight-year-old boy, because he has lesbian parents.

A parent of the boy said Rev. James Rafferty -- the parish priest at Saint Paul Elementary School in Hingham -- told her on May 10, 2010 that her lesbian relationship was "in discord" with Catholic Church teachings.

The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns about the effect on her son, said she did not expect the church to approve of her relationship.

On the other hand, she said the school was discriminating against her son, and she does not feel that is right.

Russian President Awards Order of Friendship to Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius IV

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has awarded the Order of Friendship to Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All Orient, Ignatius IV.

The ceremony took place at the Patriarch's residence in the old part of Damascus near the Cathedral of the Dormition of Our Lady, according to the Orthodox Church Info blog.

Ignatius IV indicated he has personal acquaintance of all the four supreme hierarchs of the Russian Church who have held the office of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia during his service in the position of the Patriarch of Antioch. One of them is Kirill -- the current Russian Patriarch.

The Antiochian Eastern Orthodox Church embraces the Orthodox Christian population of Syria, Lebanon, and Mesopotamia. It was on the territory of ancient Antioch that the disciples and followers of Jesus started calling themselves "Christians."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

War Memorial Cross in California Is Stolen; Court Ruled Against Lawsuit to Remove Cross

The Christian Post website reports today (May 11,2010) that a seven-foot war memorial cross at the center of a nearly 10-year court battle was reported stolen.

The metal cross -- anchored by rocks and concrete at the Mojave National Preserve in California -- was removed Sunday night (May 9), said Liberty Institute, the group representing those who want the cross to remain in place.

"This is outrage, akin to desecrating people's graves," said Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of Liberty Institute, in a statement today.

The 76-year-old war memorial cross was erected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a private organization to honor the sacrifices of American military personnel who died in service.

A former National Park Services employee, Frank Buone -- represented by the American Civil Liberties Union -- filed a lawsuit in 2001 against the Mojave Desert memorial arguing that the cross represented government endorsement of the Christian religion.

On April 28, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled the war memorial could stay standing at the Mojave National Preserve.

Pope Blames Church's Own Sins for Scandal; Calls It Church's "Greatest Persecution" Ever

Pope Benedict XVI today (May 11, 2010) blamed the church's own sins for the clerical abuse scandal, and called for profound purification to end what he called the "greatest persecution" the church has endured.

His strong comments placed the blame for the crisis squarely on the sins of pedophile priests, in sharp contrast to the Vatican's initial response to the scandal, in which it blamed the media, according to the Guardian (British) website.

Speaking en route to Portugal, the pontiff said the Catholic Church had always suffered from problems of its own making, but that "today we see it in a truly terrifying way."

He said, "The greatest persecution of the church does not come from enemies on the outside," but is born from the sins within the church. The church needs to profoundly relearn penitence, accept purification, learn forgiveness but also justice."

The pope's four-day visit to Portugal -- which began today -- will take him from Lisbon to the revered shrine at Fatima and Portugal's second city -- Porto.

Monday, May 10, 2010

CFA Rips Kagan Nomination to U.S. Supreme Court; It's "An Affront to Catholic Church Teaching"

Today (May 10, 2010), Catholic Families for America (CFA) -- one of the largest groups of lay Catholics in the United States -- announced its opposition to the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, citing "grave concerns" about her promotion of same-sex "marriage" and abortion, as well as "dangerous internationalism" that has become fashionable among leftist jurists.

To galvanize citizens' concerns -- particularly those of Catholic voters -- CFA has initiated a nationwide petition that it will forward to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The petition can be signed, according to the Christian Newswire website.

"By nominating Miss Kagan to the Supreme Court, the president continues to demonstrate a brass-knuckles, Chicago-mobster mentality toward unifying our nation," said Dr. Kevin Roberts, Executive Director of CFA.

Also with respect to President Obama's nomination of Kagan to the Supreme Court, Dr. Roberts added, "This is an affront to Catholic Church teaching, and we are, therefore, adamantly opposed to any public figure who promotes this thinking."

Holocaust Memorial to Be Unveiled in Athens; Some 65,000 Greek Jews Died in Auschwitz

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) website reports today that a memorial to Greek victims of the Holocaust is set to be unveiled in Athens.

The memorial to be unveiled tonight (May 10, 2010) will make Athens the last European Union capital to erect a memorial to victims of the Nazis.

About 65,000 Jews from Greece died in Auschwitz between 1941 and 1944.

Greece's small Jewish community -- about 5,000 Jews now live in Greece -- has long campaigned for a Holocaust memorial.

The memorial sits on land donated by the municipality of Athens.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Two Muslim Groups Move Forward with Plans to Build a Huge Mosque Near Ground Zero

The Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) website reports today (May 9, 2010) that two Muslim organizations are moving forward with plans to build a giant mosque near Ground Zero in New York City.

A 13-story building -- damaged by debris on 9/11/2001 -- will be refurbished to become The "Cordoba House" Mosque.

However, many families of those killed in the World Trade Center attacks do not approve, calling the plan "despicable."

"I don't like it," said Evelyn Pettigano, who lost a sister in the attacks. "I'm not prejudiced. It's too close to the area where our family members were murdered (by Muslim terrorists)."

Members of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative came up with the plan. They said the project is designed to improve relations between the West and Muslims.

COMMENTARY: Episcopal Church Gone to the Dogs by Carrying Out Its Recent Liberal Policies

The Episcopal Church (TEC) -- the Anglican branch in the United States -- has become extremely liberal by adopting new policies in recent years, but for TEC to have a monthly Sunday worship service for dogs is a mind-boggling and ridiculous plan.

Yet, that is what the Calvary Episcopal Church in Danvers, Massachusetts has decided to do beginning this month (May 2010). This church will offer a "Perfect Paws Pet Ministry" service on the third Sunday of every month.

This service is aimed at giving dogs and their owners improved odds at getting into heaven. The service will include communion for humans and special blessings for dogs.

Dogs will be allowed to bark during the church service, according to Rev. Thea Keith-Lucas, pastor of the Calvary Episcopal Church. Dogs will also be provided with light snacks.

While this may seem like a humorous and modern idea to some worshipers, others see it as a sacrilegious act toward God and His Home. The fact is that Christ began His Church for human beings to worship, not animals.

To have a monthly service for dogs contradicts the teachings of Christ. While Christ believed that people should be kind to animals, He never placed them at the same level of respect and love as He did for human beings.

I believe that having a monthly church service for dogs is a ploy by the Danvers church, designed to get dog owners to attend church services who would not normally do so.

Nevertheless, TEC -- as it has done in recent years -- will do almost anything that is un-Christian, in an effort to to attract churchgoers with its modern liberal policies. TEC's election of two openly gay bishops -- one in 2003 and the other in 2010 -- further illustrates its audacious defiance of Christian doctrine.

Having church services ministering to dogs is the wrong approach for TEC to take, because such services make a mockery of the Christian Church and what it represents. Canine services are, indeed, an insult to God, and to all devoted Christians throughout the world.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Muslim Woman in Italy Fined 500 Euros for Wearing Burka; Husband Insists She Wears It

A Muslim woman in Italy was fined 500 euros this week for wearing a burka in what is believed to be the first case of its kind, the Telegraph (British) website reports today (May 8, 2010).

The Tunisian immigrant, Amel Marmouri, 26, was fined by police in the city of Novara, in the Northern Piedmont region of Italy.

Mrs. Marmouri was in a post office when police officers stopped her and issued her with the fine.

Her husband, Ben Salah Braim, 36, said the family would struggle to pay the penalty. He added his wife would continue to wear the full-length item of clothing, because he did not want her to be seen by other men, but in the future she would be forced to stay at home most of the time.

Church of Greece Is Ready to Help Greek People in Economic Crisis with Food, Clothes, Values

The Church of Greece is getting ready to assist the Greek people to face the consequences of tough economic measures taken by the government, a church official who attended an ecumenical gathering of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva this week said.

The Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Hieronymos II met on May 4, 2010 with Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou to express the church's willingness to support the Greek people during the difficult times ahead, said Fr. Gabriel Papanicolaou, a Greek Orthodox Church official. Papanicalaou attended a May 4-6 gathering of the church's ecumenical officers organized by the WCC.

Papanicolaou said, "We are preparing to supply food, clothes, and other relief items, as well as to care for the needs of the people who lose their jobs, assist them with pastoral and psychological attention. The church will stand by the people -- as it always has."

The church's role -- according to Papanicolaou -- includes reminding the faithful of essential values that help build social cohesion. "This is not just an economic or financial crisis," said Papanicolaou, "but also a crisis of values."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Vandals Desecrate Graves of Muslim Soldiers Killed Fighting for France's Freedom in WWII

Vandals have desecrated the graves of seven Muslim soldiers who died fighting for France in World War II, the defense minister announced.

"I wish to express my deep indignation at this ignoble and cowardly act," Herve Morin said in a statement yesterday (May 6, 2010), after the tombstones were toppled at a military cemetery in the southern city of Trascon.

The regional Muslim council said the tombstones had been toppled and three of them were smashed. There are 130 graves in the cemetery, of which 17 belong to Muslim soldiers.

France is the home of Europe's biggest Muslim minority, which is estimated to be between five and six million people, according to the Middle East Online website.

Rabbi Thanks Veterans for Defeating Nazis; Blasts National and Religious Hatred Groups

Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar thanked veterans of the Great Patriotic War for saving Russia and the whole world from Nazi slavery, the Interfax-Religion website reports today (May 7, 2010).

"Please, accept special gratitude from my people, from all Jews wherever they live now. We live because you risked your life in the years of war," the Rabbi said yesterday in his message to veterans.

Lazar urged veterans to continue the work they had started 65 years ago.

He told the veterans..."You struggled against atheistic ideology of hatred and murders. Our youths should realize the danger of any appeals to national or religious hatred."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Perfect Paws Pet Ministry" Is Name of New Monthly Church Worship Service for Dogs

A Massachusetts church is scheduled to launch a new monthly worship service for dogs, the Associated Press website reports today.

Calvary Episcopal Church in Danvers, Massachusetts will offer later this month (May 2010) its first "Perfect Paws Pet Ministry" aimed at giving area pooches and their owners improved odds at getting canines into heaven.

The Danvers church plans to hold the service on the third Sunday of every month, complete with communion for the humans and special blessings for pets.

Rev. Thea Keith-Lucas said dogs will have a say during service, because barking will not be banned.

Second Russian Orthodox Priest Is Murdered in Same Russian Republic in Less Than Two Weeks

A Russian Orthodox priest was stabbed to death yesterday (May 5, 2010) in Chuvashia, less than two weeks after a clergyman was shot dead in the same central Russian republic, the RIA Novosti (Russian) website reports today.

A spokesman for the local investigation committee said the body of a hieromonk of St. Michael the Archangel Church with multiple knife wounds was discovered at his home in the city of Cheboksary.

On April 24, 2010, Father Anatoly, 46, was discovered dead with a gunshot wound in his church in Chuvashia's village of Yantikovo.

In late 2009, two priests were shot dead in Moscow in a matter of weeks.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Serbian Orthodox Church Removes Artemije as Archbishop of Kosovo; Embezzled Church Funds

The Serbian Orthodox Church says Archbishop Artemije will no longer be its spiritual leader in Kosovo, after allegations that millions in church and state funds were embezzled under his leadership.

The Holy Synod -- the church's top body -- announced the decision on May 4, 2010, according to the Worldwide Religious News website.

Artemije was based in Kosovo, which is considered the Serbian Orthodox Church's cultural heartland. He is known for his ultra-nationalist and anti-Western views.

Artemije has been investigated by the church for his alleged mishandling of donations and government funds over the past several years.

Buddhist Extremists Drive Four Christian Families Out of Their Village in Bangladesh

The Compass Direct website reports today that four Christian Families in southeastern Bangladesh left their village on May 2, 2010, under mounting pressure by Buddhist extremists to give up their faith in Christ.

Sources told Compass that 20 to 25 Buddhists brandishing sticks and bamboo clubs in Jamindhonpara village began patrolling streets on April 30 to keep 11 members of the Lotiban Baptist Church from gathering for their weekly prayer meetings.

On May 1, the Buddhist extremists captured four men and beat one woman who had gathered in a home, threatening to kill them if they did not become Buddhists within 24 hours.

On May 2 -- just two hours before church services -- a group of Buddhists drove all of the Christians from their homes, so they would not attend church services. After these attacks, all the Christians in Jamindhonpara fled, taking shelter in another village.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Danish Parliament Allows Registered Same-Sex Couples to Jointly Apply for Adoption

The Danish parliament today (May 4, 2010) voted to allow same-sex couples in registered partnerships to jointly apply for adoption, according to the Earth Times website.

Denmark had earlier allowed individuals to adopt -- regardless of sexual orientation -- and couples have also been allowed to adopt their partner's existing children.

"I do not want to support legislation that in advance shuts out someone because of race, color, religion, or sexual orientation. If you do not want to allow discrimination, then there was no other option than to vote in favor," parliamentarian Karsten Lauritzen of the ruling Liberal Party said.

Russian Patriarch Kirill: Birth Rates Have Grown; Russians, Not Strangers, Must Inhabit Nation

The Interfax-Religion website reports that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia today (May 4, 2010) stressed in the Russian town of Belgorod the importance of solving Russia's demographic problems and improving the nation's health.

"What's the good of having economy, if our nation is sick? How will we reclaim these boundless spaces, vast lands, not only in the European part of Russia, but in Siberia as well?" the Primate asked at a meeting at the Belgorod branch of the World Russian People's Council.

He reminded the people that birth rates have recently grown in Russia.

"We hope this tendency will be stable and our people -- rather than strangers with alien culture and alien faith -- will inhabit our vast lands inherited from God and our hard-working forefathers," Patriarch Kirill said.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Orthodox Jews' RCA Forbids Ordination of Women Rabbis; Can Take on Other Spiritual Roles

The Forward website reports today (May 3, 2010) that the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) -- centrist Orthodoxy's largest rabbinic association -- has officially shut the door on the idea of having women in the Orthodox rabbinate.

The RCA resolution -- passed at the group's annual convention April 26, 2010 -- declared firmly, "We cannot accept either the ordination of women or the recognition of women as members of the Orthodox rabbinate, regardless of title."

Advocates for female Orthodox clergy, however, pointed out that the resolution did not invoke Halacha -- that is, Judaic law -- but instead referred to a more nebulous principle of "sacred continuity" as the basis for the prohibition.

The resolution was sparked by a process that began in January 2010, when Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale announced that Sarah Hurwitz -- a spiritual leader at the Hebrew Institute -- could use the title "rabba." This decision caused so much uproar and anger in the Orthodox community -- some had even threatened to remove Rabbi Weiss from his position -- that Rabbi Weiss changed his mind, and agreed not to bestow the title of "rabba" upon any woman.

Hurwitz told Forward website that she did not attend the RCA Convention, because she was not invited.

Thousands of Christians Meet for May Day 2010; Repentance is Focus of Washington, D.C. Event

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (May 3, 2010) that Christians from all 50 states gathered to pray over the weekend in Washington, D.C. for May Day 2010. The focus of the event was repentance.

Thousands of people met at the Lincoln Memorial under a warm spring sun, calling on God to forgive the people and heal the land.

Janet Porter, coordinator of May Day 2010, said the nation is under a curse, for among other things shedding innocent blood and beginning to turn our backs on Israel.

"And the good news is we remember our covenant with God. We are going to repent for the sins that have taken us away from God, and we are going to renew that covenant with God," Porter said.

Cardinal Cinvinces Cuban Government to Lift Its Ban on Street Protests to Free Prisoners

Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega told the Caribbean Net News website yesterday (May 2, 2010) that he managed to convince the Cuban government to lift its nearly month-long ban on street protests by "Ladies in White" -- the wives and mothers of political prisoners.

The Archbishop of Havana made his announcement while delivering a mass at the Church of Santa Rita, after which he presided over a march by 12 members of the Ladies in White down the capital's Fifth Avenue.

For three previous Sundays, similar marches were attempted but stopped outside the church by police, who said the group lacked a protest permit.

The Cuban government refuses to admit it holds political prisoners and accuses the Ladies in White of being "mercenaries" and agents of American-sponsored "subversion" on the island.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Reports Indicate That Patriarch Bartholomew Is Calling on Archbishop Demetrios to Resign

The Orthodox Beacon website reports today (May 2, 2010) that several stories in recent days tell about a supposed attempt to oust Archbishop Demetrios as the leader of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America.

For example, the National Herald -- a Greek-American oriented daily newspaper published in the United States -- has recently reported that both the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople and high-level officials in the Greek-American Community have been discussing the possible resignation of Archbishop Demetrios as head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Specifically, Patriarch Bartholomew was reportedly annoyed that Archbishop Demetrios invited the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) -- which was granted autocephaly in 1970 by the Patriarchate of Moscow -- to the upcoming Episcopal Assemblies. Patriarch Bartholomew had instructed Archbishop Demetrios not to include the OCA -- led by Metropolitan Jonah -- to this conference, since the Ecumenical Patriarch has never recognized the OCA as a valid Orthodox jurisdiction in America.

The National Herald also attributes the displeasure of Patriarch Bartholomew toward Archbishop Demetrios to the fact that this sort of meeting could result in the establishment of a single autocephalous Orthodox Church in America -- that is, a united American Orthodox Church that would be independent of the Ecumenical Patriarch.

A similar attempt to establish an independent American Orthodox Church by Archbishop Iakovos in 1994 resulted in the Patriarch of Constantinople forcing him into "early retirement."

COMMENTARY: Christian Values Must Transcend Anti-Christian Courses at Catholic Colleges

Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J. is correct in pursuing his authority to prevent Seton Hall University -- which is under his diocese -- from offering a course planned for September 2010, on same-sex "marriage."

Seton Hall -- as is the case with all Catholic colleges and universities -- must abide by the teachings of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church. In His teachings, Christ was opposed to same-sex "marriage," and so is the Catholic Church today.

For Seton Hall to even recognize the institution of same-sex "marriage" -- let alone offer a course in it -- unequivocally violates Catholic Christian doctrine. As we all know, the Christian interpretation of marriage is the union of one man and one woman, not two men or two women.

To argue that Seton Hall is being denied "academic freedom" because it is not allowed to teach a same-sex "marriage" course really has no validity. The fact that Seton Hall is a Catholic university indicates Catholic Christian values must transcend immoral fads and anti-Christian institutions.

In his statement on April 30, 2010, Archbishop Myers noted that as "shepherd" of the Newark diocese, he is ..."responsible for ensuring authentic and orthodox Catholic teaching in all educational institutions and parishes." In other words, Archbishop Myers has the authority -- in fact, he has the duty -- to prevent Seton Hall University from teaching a same-sex "marriage" course, since teaching such a course would be a violation of Catholic Christian teaching.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Archbishop to Bar Same-Sex "Marriage" Course; Vows to Maintain Seton Hall's Catholicity

Following reports that Seton Hall University would be offering a class on same-sex "marriage," Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J. released a statement yesterday (April 30, 2010), informing the public that the school's Board of Regents will be investigating the course and "take whatever action is required under the law to protect the Catholicity of this university."

Seton Hall is planning to offer the course on same-sex "marriage" through its Department of Women and Gender Studies this coming fall.

In his statement, Archbishop Myers noted that as "shepherd" of Newark, he is "responsible for maintaining the Catholic identity of all Church institutions and organizations within the Archdiocese, and for ensuring authentic and orthodox Catholic teaching in all educational institutions and parishes."

Seton Hall -- the oldest diocesan university in the United States and the largest Catholic university in New Jersey -- has its main campus in South Orange, within the Newark Archdiocese.

Palestinian Protesters Lunge at Israeli Envoy in Britain After Her Lecture at Manchester

Pro-Palestinian protesters lunged at Talya Lador-Fresher -- the deputy ambassador of Israel to Britain -- following her lecture on April 28, 2010 at the University of Manchester.

The envoy, who was not hurt, said she feared she would be physically assaulted by the protesters, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) website.

Lador-Fresher was removed from the area by a security vehicle, which she entered from the back entrance of the lecture hall. The demonstrators attacked the car -- some holding Palestinian flags up to the windows and others climbing to the hood and trying to smash the windshield -- according to reports.

Shaken up by the protesters, Lader-Fresher said, "If I had not had the police and security team, I would have been beaten up."

British Orthodox Church Shares Orthodox Faith with British People in Their Own Culture

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (May 1, 2010) that the British Orthodox Church has revamped its official website.

The British Orthodox Church is a small Orthodox jurisdiction -- canonically part of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria -- with the mission of sharing the good news of the Orthodox Faith with the people of the British Isles in their own culture.

The British Orthodox Church was originally established in 1866 when a Frenchman, Jules Ferrette, was consecrated as a bishop by the Syrian Orthodox Church with the purpose of re-establishing Orthodoxy to the West.

While its aim is to help British people discover that they can be canonically Orthodox and at the same time remain British, the British Orthodox Church warmly welcomes all people who wish to worship, regardless of their culture.