International Orthodox Christian News


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Tom Hanks is happy to be a member of the Orthodox Church



Moscow, May 21, Interfax - Hollywood actor Tom Hanks appreciates his membership in the Orthodox Church and intends to raise his four children in similar vein.

"I am aware that it is vitally important to come to church and contemplate those substantial questions put by the Orthodoxy and the answers it offers," Hanks said in an interview published by Argumenty i Fakty.

According to him, when a man arrives at a decision to marry and have children, "it is crucial to define spiritual heritage of a future family at this stage."

"I consider Greek Orthodoxy my own spiritual heritage. I got married in the same church where my wife had been baptized. My children were baptized in the same baptismal font as my wife," Tom Hanks said.

According to Hanks, this makes his family "a part of the large universal Church".

"We go to church on rare occasions, but when we do, we have dinner together and discuss our feelings after that," he added.


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Patriarch Kirill to visit Middle East



Moscow, May 21, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will soon visit the Orthodox Church of Antioch in the Middle East.

Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Russian Ambassador to Syria Sergey Kirpichenko and Antiochian Patriarch Ignatius discussed the upcoming visit in Damascus, the Moscow Patriarchate website said.

The date of the visit and possible traveling of Patriarch Kirill outside Syria are as yet unknown. The canonical territory of the Orthodox Church of Antioch includes not only Syria, but also Lebanon, Iraq and Kuwait.

The Antiochian Patriarchate is one of the 15 local Orthodox Church presumably founded by Apostles Peter and Paul in Antioch circa 37 AD.

An Orthodox Church head visits other Orthodox Churches in accordance with the list of local churches, a source at the Department for External Church Relations told Interfax-Religion. The Antiochian Patriarchate comes third after the Constantinople and Alexandria Churches on the list of the Russian Orthodox Church.

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Kiev, May 20, Interfax - Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko and Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I have discussed the possibility of setting up "a representative office [in Ukraine] in the format of a metochion or a culture and information center of the Ecumenical Patriarch."

Yuschenko and Bartholomew I met in Istanbul on Wednesday, as part of the Ukrainian head of state's working visit to Turkey, the Ukrainian presidential press service said.

The meeting also addressed ways to step up contacts between Ukraine and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Yuschenko said he wants this dialogue to be intensified at all levels.

He confirmed his country's interest in establish a local Orthodox Church.

The Ukrainian president said he is convinced that "the Ecumenical Church and the personal wisdom and efforts of the Patriarch himself play the most important role in all unification processes."

The Ukrainian president and the Patriarch discussed also preparations for the All Orthodox Council and meetings between representatives of local Orthodox Churches that should take place ahead of the event, the press service said.

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Volkhonka Art Centre occupies an unusual space – two thousand square meters underneath Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow where it will become the largest antiquarian art gallery in the capital.

Along with ordinary exhibitions it will offer antique art works for sale – at very high prices.

It took five years for the project to be completed. Organizers say the Centre will have a special schedule for exhibition days and days for art collectors, architects and interior decorators.

The first exhibition project, which marks the opening of the center, offers paintings of old masters and architectural interior objects from the collection of Italian art lover Cesare Lampronti.

Each hall presents a thematic display. One of them is dedicated to Venetians, the second to Neapolitans, the third to the Dutch, and the last to Romans.

So far, the organizers say they’ve reached certain arrangements with Italian and Russian Ministries of Culture, and also are negotiating with a number of major European galleries on long-term cooperation.

The Antiquarian Art Centre is expected to become another place of interest to visitors of this area of the capital. Visiting Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow now can be combined with different activities as it has become a multifunctional spot.

The Cathedral was reconstructed after being destroyed by the Communists back in 1931. The result surpassed its original in some aspects. Now Orthodox believers have their own Vatican in one building: a set of halls, restaurants, parking, car wash, high-speed lift, viewing deck, hotel, and even baths.

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Moscow, May 19, Interfax - The former Health Minister of Russia Yury Shevchenko was ordained a priest: he conducts services in St. Nicolas Church at the National Medical and Surgery Center named after Pirogov.

Shevchenko, currently, Father Georgy, became a priest only about a month ago. "I received an external diploma at the seminary where I studied for two years," Life.ru quotes him as saying.

On July 5, 1999, one of the best heart surgeons in Russia Shevchenko was appointed Russian Health Minister by the Presidential Decree.

Fr. Georgy was born April 7, 1947 in Yakutsk. In 1974, he graduated from the Kirov Military Medical Academy and served as a surgeon in the army. In 1980, he became a member of the Academy. He was a senior professor of the hospital surgery division and the head of cardiovascular surgery division. On April 1992, he was appointed the Head of Military Medical Academy. He also served as the chief heart surgeon of Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad Region.

He was a research adviser of 17 doctoral and 32 master's thesis. He published over 360 research works and teaching aids.

Shevchenko is awarder with the Oder for Healing and Mercy.

Fr. Georgy started his ministerial career by asking Patriarch Alexy II to consecrate the office building of the Health Ministry.

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Moscow, May 19, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia contemplates regular appearances before huge young audiences, the Moscow Patriarchate reports.

"Patriarch's address to a large number of people is not unusual; such appearances have been practiced throughout Church history, even back in the Apostles' time when a pastor spoke before an audience where every person was welcome, both believers and unbelievers. This is the most natural form of communication of an archpriest with people," head of the Synodal Church and Society Department Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said Tuesday at a press conference hosted by Interfax.

Fr. Vsevolod believes that today this way of communication of Patriarch Kirill with a young audience, such as his appearance at Izmaylovo stadium scheduled on May 23, "will expand, as we have two most important components in place - people who want to see, and listen to, their Patriarch, and ask him questions, and Patriarch's desire to pursue a dialogue with people."

The priest said that the next meeting of Patriarch with young people was scheduled on May 29, during Patriarch's visit to Saint-Petersburg. Predictably, the meeting will bring together about 10 thousand people.

According to the head of Information Department of the Moscow Patriarchate Vladimir Legoyda, the event at the Izmaylovo stadium has sparkled "great interest" of public and mass media well in advance.

"It is of critical importance that the meeting should become a dialogue, rather than a monologue. Young people in Moscow and St. Petersburg will have an opportunity to ask their questions," Legoyda said.

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Pilgrimage to Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery opens May 22

The 105th annual pilgrimage to Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery in South Canaan, will formally open on Friday, May 22nd, with the greeting of the Sitka Icon at the Archway at 3:30 p.m. followed by a procession to celebrate the blessing of the well. The Vigil will be celebrated at 4 p.m.

Fr. Kowalczyk, spokesmen for the Monastery stated, “This pilgrimage will also have the Miracle-Working Sitka Icon of the Mother of God. The Holy Icon of the Sitka Madonna will be available for Veneration throughout the Memorial Day Weekend. The Sitka Icon is one of the most revered icons of the Orthodox Church in America.”
The Very Rev. John Kowalczyk, also stated that, “His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, the newly elected Primate of the Orthodox Church in America will preside at the four-day celebration. Kowalczyk said, “This is the first time in the history of the Orthodox Church in America, that a convert has been elected to the most important leadership position in the Church.” Joining Metropolitan Jonah will be His Grace Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; Archbishop Job of Chicago, Bishop Nikon of Boston, and other members of the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church in America; and numerous clergy and faithful from throughout North America.”

Seminary has record enrollment

On Saturday, May 23rd, the hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 9 a.m. At 2 p.m., the 67th annual commencement of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary will be held at the school’s auditorium. Fr. John Kowalczyk stated that St. Tikhon’s Seminary has 122 Seminarians enrolled, the largest enrollment in the history of the School. His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America will deliver the commencement address. The Vigil will be celebrated at 4:30 p.m.

The hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be celebrated on Sunday, May 24th at 9 a.m. Vespers and Matins will be celebrated at 4 p.m., after which a grand banquet honoring members of the 2009 graduating class will be held at the Genetti Manor, 1505 South Main Street, Dickson City, PA at 5 p.m. This will also be the largest graduating class with 24 graduates. Tickets are available at $35.00 by contacting Mary Sernak, 700 Delaware St., Mayfield, PA 18433 or by calling (570)876-5855.
On Monday, May 25th, the early Divine Liturgy will be celebrated in the monastery church at 7:30 a.m. The traditional pilgrim’s procession to the monastery and the greeting of Metropolitan Jonah and the concelebrating hierarchs will begin at 9:30 a.m., followed by the hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the pavilion. The Choir singing the responses to the Liturgy will be from St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Bethlehem, under the direction of Choir Master Nicholas Lezinsky.

The homilist for the Divine Liturgy will be His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah. A General Memorial Service will be celebrated for all faithful departed at the grave site of His Beatitude, the Late Metropolitan Leonty, after the Liturgy.
At 1:30 p.m. there will be an Akathistos Hymn to St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre. At 2 p.m. Monday, the Service of Intercession to the Most Holy Mother of God with the anointing of the sick, infirm and all pilgrims will be celebrated at the monastery bell tower.

The pilgrimage will close with the celebration of Vespers and Matins in the monastery church at 4 p.m. on Monday. Clergy will be available for confessions on Sunday evening and Monday morning. Throughout the pilgrimage, the faithful are invited to visit the seminary and monastery bookstore, and museum, and the various food booths. Graves will also be blessed in the monastery cemetery.
Founded in 1905, Saint Tikhon’s Monastery is the oldest Orthodox Christian monastery in North America.

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MOSCOW, May 19 (RIA Novosti) - With unemployment in Russia rising sharply amid the global economic crisis, the Russian Orthodox Church is celebrating the day of St. Job, who lost everything but was ultimately rewarded for his faith.

Church services on May 19 commemorate Job, recalling how he lost his children and his wealth, then was smitten with boils, but remained true and pious.

Hundreds of thousands of Russians have lost their jobs since the economic crisis hit last year, with unemployment estimated at over 7 million, or 10% of the working population. Millions more are concerned for their livelihoods.

Job's life is thought by believers to be an exemplar of Christian patience and piety, an ideal for how people should treat all things that happen to them. Church services draw a parallel between Job and Jesus, as both suffered through no fault of their own.

Righteous Job the Long-Suffering is believed to have lived about 2,000-1,500 years before Christ in Arabia. Some believe he was a few generations descendant of Abraham.

"There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil," says the Book of Job of the Old Testament.

Job had seven sons and three daughters and a great wealth, but God decided to test his righteousness and let Satan deprive Job of all he had. So Job lost his children and wealth but remained steadfast and said: "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

Then God let Satan smite Job with leprosy but told him to spare Job's life. Job suffered from boils but did not curse God in his heart and speeches. His wife advised him to "curse God and die," but Job answered: "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"

His friends also believed that Job must have sinned and that was why he was punished, but Job was steadfast and patient saying he had committed no sins and demanding an explanation from God.

And then God answered him, and Job realized that he could not know all of God's ways, and repented for demanding too much from God, and God restored his prosperity, giving him twice as much as he had before, and gave him children again.

The Book of Job is a vivid example for believers that misfortunes are not necessarily due to people's sins, but could be given to test people's faith and let them prove in deed that it is steadfast.

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On May 13, 2009, His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) and Protopriest Nikolai Balashov, Vice President of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, having arrived on the territory of the Serbian Orthodox Church with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, met with the members of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Church at the Patriarchal Palace in Belgrade. These included His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, Chairing the Holy Synod; His Grace Bishop Hrizostim of Zica; His Grace Bishop Hrizostom of Bihac and Petrovac, and His Grace Bishop Filaret of Mileseva. Also participating in the fraternal discussion were His Eminence Metropolitan Jovan of Zagreb and Ljubljana; His Grace Вishop Vasily of Zvornic and Tuzlan; His Grace Bishop Constantine of Central Europe, and His Grace Bishop Antony of Moravic, Representative of the Serbian Patriarch to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. Also in attendance were Protopriest Vitaly Tarasiev, Rector of the Podvorie of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belgrade; Priest Nebojsa Topolic, Secretary of the Patriarchal Chancery, and Protopriest Luka Novakovic, Rector of the Church of St Sava in Belgrade. Matters of mutual interest pertaining to church life were discussed.

On May 14, 2009, Metroplitan Amfilohije officiated at Divine Liturgy before the beginning of the Council of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church. He was joined by His Grace Bishop Irinej of Nis; His Grace Bishop Lukijan of Osecko polje and Baranja; His Grace Bishop Irinej of Australia and New Zealand; His Grace Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan, Vicar of the Diocese of Ras and Prizren, and also Fr Nikolai and other clergymen of the Serbian Church. Archbishop Mark prayed in the altar and communed of the Holy Gifts. The visitors from the Russian Orthodox Church then attended a moleben, during which the Holy Spirit was invoked upon the members of the Council of Bishops, which was performed by Bishop Irinej in the Chapel of St Simeon the Myrrh-gusher at the Patriarchal Palace.

At the invitation of the Holy Synod, Archbishop Mark and Fr Nikolai, and also Fr Vitaly attended the first meeting of the Council. Vladyka Mark relayed a greeting from Patriarch Kirill, in which His Holiness wished the Council success, and shared his thoughts about pan-Orthodox matters. After a brotherly conversation, Metropolitan Amfilohije asked that Vladyka Mark relay the Council’s gratitude for His Holiness’ blessing and good wishes, and for informing the Council of the position of the Moscow Patriarchate on certain matters.

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On Monday, April 20, 2009 the first beams of steel were erected on the poured concrete footings of the new Museum buildings. The steel structure will be enclosed with prefabricated panels of corrugated steel, insulation and finishing, which are stucco ready on the exterior and drywall ready on the interior. The building committee opted for the panels to save on labor costs.

The new state of the art Museum structure is a 30,000 sq. ft., two story building attached to existing Consistory/Library structure. The first floor plan includes a 2,650 sq ft grand gallery, five 400 sq. ft. galleries, a 550 sq. ft. theatre and media center, an 845 sq. ft. conference and meeting room, as well as office space and a 1525 sq. ft. exhibit preparation area.

The grand staircase leads to the second floor with its 12 additional galleries totaling 4350 sq. ft. and an additional 1400 sq. ft. environmentally controlled exhibit and storage area surrounding an open center space which overlooks the grand gallery. There is also an 1100 sq. ft. conference/presentation room on this floor, as well as an 1850 sq. ft. museum storage facility.

The plans also incorporate a new space for the St. Andrew Church Goods and Bookstore and Museum Shop. The existing bookstore space will be converted into a reading and media room for patrons of the St. Sophia Library.

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On May 16 the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church visited the Convent of St. Panteleimon at Feofania, where he performed consecration of the restored church of the convent, dedicated to All Saints.

Concelebrating with His Beatitude were Archbishops Mykolai of Bilohorod, Archbishop Metrophanes of Bila Tserkva and Bohuslav (Administrator of the UOC), Bishop Panteleimon of Kolomiysk and Ivano-Frankivsk, Bishop Seraphim of Yahotyn amd Bishop Alexander of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytskyi (Secretary for the Primate of the UOC).

Upon completion of the consecration rite His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr celebrate dthe first divine liturgy at the newly consecrated church.

At the Divine Liturgy the Primate bestowed the right of wearing the decorated cross Mother Superior of the Convent of St. Panteleimon, hegumeness Elizaveta (Andreeva).

Upon completion of worship Vladyka Metropolitan greeted all those present on the Feast of Pascha, which lasts now, and thanked them for the communal prayers raised to the Lord that day.

The construction of the Church of All Saints began in 1866. In three years, in 1869, the construction was added on. This day 140 years ago, on May 16 the newly built church was consecrated by Vicar of the Kyiv Metropolis, Bishop Porfiry (Uspenskyi) of Chyhyryn. First the church was square and had no domes. In soviet times the church was almost completely rearranged into manufactory.

In 2005 the church building was returned to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. On the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr the church restoration was entrusted on Archimandrite Seraphim (Demyaniv) (now bishop of Yahotyn).

As per his project, the church was restored and the domes and bell tower were installed. Similar to the original church, the restoration works lasted three years, following which the whole church was painted and the carved oak iconostasis installed.


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On May 14 the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church conferred church awards on the co-workers of the Ministry of the Emergency Situations Ministry of Ukraine at his residence in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.

The orders of the Venerable Elias of Murom were conferred upon deputy Minister, major general of the Internal Service Mykhailo Bolotskykh, head of the Chief Administration of Emergency Situations Ministry of Ukraine in Donetsk region, lieutenant colonel of the Civil Protection Service Andriy Bondarenko, deputy head of the personnel department of the Chief Administration of Emergency Situations Ministry of Ukraine in Donetsk region Evgen Kudinov, head of the training centre for the Immediate Rescue service of the Civil Protection, colonel of the civil protection service Ruslan Shevchuk.

The jubilee order "1020years of the Baptism of the Kyiv Rus" was conferred upon Alexander ALimov, civil protection colonel of the Emergency Situations Ministry of Ukraine in Zhytomyr region, and the Order of St. Anna was granted to Liudmyla Pavliuk, deputy head of the personnel department to the Chief Administration of the Emergency Situations Ministry of Ukraine in Zhytomyr region.

Addressing those present, His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr underscored importance of the work the Emergency Situations Ministry are devoted to, and assured them that the Church always prayed for them.

On his part, the head of the Emergency Situations Ministry Administration in Donetsk region thanked His Beatitude for his attention to their difficult service and handed the distinction of the Emergency Situations Ministry of Ukraine to the Archpastor.

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On Sunday, May 10, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr together with the Primate of the Autonomous Orthodox Church of Finland Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra.

Concelebrating with the Archpastor were Deputy Abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Archbishop Pavel of Vyshgorod, Administrator of the UOC Archbishop Metrophanes of Bila Tserkva and Bohuslav, Rector of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary Archbishop Anthony of Boryspil, Vicar of the Diocese of Karelia Bishop Arseny of Yoensuu, Bishop Iriney of Nizhyn and Pryluky, Bishop Ilary of Makariv and brethren clergy of the monastery.


At the end of worship His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr thanked Archbishop Leo for his visit to Ukraine and his prayers and wished him good luck and God's assistance in his Archpastoral service. As a keepsake for his pilgrimage trip to Ukraine Metropolitan Volodymyr presented Vladyka Leo with an icon of the Venerable Job of Pochayiv with a particle of the saint's relics, whose 350th anniversary of invention we celebrate this year.

In his answer the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Finland thanked Vladyka Volodymyr for the possibility to visit Ukraine and its holy sites, stressing the importance of the event, since this visit is the first official visit of Archbishop Leo as primate of the Orthodox Church of Finland. Also His Eminence Leo offered His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr a copy of the Wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God of Konev, which stays in the New-Valaam Monastery in the Finnish town Heinavesi.

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On May 8, the Primate of the Autonomous Orthodox Church of Finland of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland arrived on official visit to Ukraine.

Accompanying Vladyka Leo in the trip are Vicar of the Diocese of Karelia, Bishop Arseny of Joensuu and other members of the delegation.

Upon arrival to the capital of Ukraine Metropolitan Leo headed to the Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, where he met with the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church at the Metropolitan's residence.

Also the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Finland prayed at the home St. Nicholas Church at the Metropolitan's apartments.

Thereafter the Primates honoured memory of the deceased in the years of the Great Patriotic War in the Kyiv park of Eternal Glory.

The visit of Archbishopn Leo of Karelia and All Finland will continue from May, 8 till May, 14.

The visit program:

May, 9 - visit to the Church of All Saints in the territory of the construction site of the Resurrection Cathedral and serving the Moleben (prayer service) at the relics of the Holy Hierarch Spyridon of Tremithous, visit to the Holy Protection Convent in Kyiv and celebration of the All-Night Vigil in the Kyiv Caves Monastery.

May 10 - Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland together with Metropolitan Volodymyr will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra and visit the Holy Presentation Monastery, the Monastery of St. Panteleimon (Feofania), the Holy Trinity Monastery (Kytaevo) in Kyiv.

May 11-12 - the visit to the Diocese of Simferopol. Visits to the Holy Trinity Monastery of Simferopol, the Monastery of St. Clement in Inkerman, the Holy Dormition Bakhchisarai Monastery, the Cathedral of S. Vladimir in Chersonesos and the Panorama of the Defence of Sebastopol, visits to Balaklava and Yalta.

May 13 - the meeting with the President of Ukraine is scheduled.

May 14 - attendance of the Caves of Lavra, meeting with the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The same day the delegation of the Orthodox Church of Finland returns home.

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On May, 13 there was a meeting of the Primate of the Autonomous Orthodox Church of Finland, Archbishop Leo of Karelia and All Finland and President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko.

Taking part in the meeting also was the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr.

The head of the state conferred on Vladyka Leo the order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 5th degree.

By the highest degree of the state the President of Ukraine marked personal contribution of Archbishop Leo into the development of spirituality, many-years church activity in the field of the orthodoxy.

"I'd like You to accept this order as a token of the highest acknowledgement of Your activity, of Your efforts", said Victor Yushchenko.

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On the feast day of St Atanasije the Great , at the Patriarchate chapel of St Simeon the Myrrh-gusher, His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral has served the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy with the concelebration of His Grace Bishop Jovan of Shumadija and His Grace Bishop Atanasije of Hvosno, a vicar of Patriarch Pavle, presbyter Miroslav Cholakovic, protodeacon Stevan Rapajic, deacon Dragan S. Tanasijevic and hierodeacon Jovan (Panic) and Hristofor (Nedjic). The Holy Liturgy was attended by all bishops who take part in the work of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

After the prayer His Grace Bishop Jovan of Shumadija has cut the slava cake to celebrants, Their Graces Bishop Atanasije (Rakita) and retired Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic) of Zahumlje and Hercegovina.

After the Holy Liturgy, His Eminence Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, followed by retired Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic) of Zahumlje and Hercegovina, administered the sacrament to His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia at the Military Medical Academy, informing Him about the beginning of the work of the Holy Assembly of Bishops.

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In a 15 page Opinion offered to Metropolitan Philip, the Local Synod and the Board of Trustees of the Antiochian Archdiocese, dated May 13th, the Chancellors of the Archdiocese shredded both the February 24th decision of the Synod of Antioch and the April 24th decision of the Local Synod as "invalid", "inapplicable" "inconsistent" and "ill-advised". The official document, signed by Chancellors Robert Koory, and Charles Ajalat, laymen appointed by Metropolitan Philip to serve as the attorneys for the Archdiocese, summarized their findings by stating:

“..... the February 24th decision is not a valid decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch. Moreover, even if were, it would have no effect on our Archdiocese since it wasn’t intend to apply to our Archdiocese and if it was intended, it would not apply because it is inconsistent with, negates, and would violate the irrevocable Resolution on Self-Rule, the Archdiocese Constitution and the Archdiocese Articles of Incorporation, filed with the State of New York."

The Chancellors went further than just rejecting the February 24th decision: they dismissed it as "folly".

“ Unless properly amended,” the Chancellors wrote, ” these documents cannot be overridden and the February 24,2009 decision is inapplicable to the Self-Ruled Archdiocese.” Thus, “ What contradicts those articles in their application to North America is the Resolution of the Holy Synod granting self-rule, the Constitution of the Archdiocese of North America, the irrevocable creation of three diocesan bishops by the self-rule Resolution itself, the election and consecration of three bishops under the Constitution as diocesan bishops for North America and the enthronement of these various bishops their respective dioceses. To render all of these documents, resolutions and actions null and void by implication, or sub silentio, would be an absurd action. It cannot be imagined that the Holy Synod of Antioch, composed of wise and holy men, would participate in such a folly.”

They then warned the hierarchs and Board that:

“Pursuant to the Constitution, all members of the Board of Trustees including the clergy and the hierarchs have an obligation to insure that the Archdiocese Constitution and Articles are protected. A constitution defines certain rights and privileges and obligations, these apply to the entire church population including the laity. It is incumbent upon all members to insure that these provisions are not violated even if one disagrees with them.”

The Chancellors concluded their letter by stating:

“There is an element of trust that is underlying the role of a member of the Board of Trustees (and a member of the General Assembly) whether the person is a hierarch, priest, or member of the laity. That trust is that the member will act in the best interests of the Archdiocese and follow the dictates of the spirit as well as the letter of the Constitution. If the members do not act to protect the Constitution and the self-rule as defined therein, then they will have violated that trust. The consequences, among others, will be a legitimate lack of trust by clergy and laity in the leaders of this Archdiocese. That would be tragic.”

In addition to rejecting the February 24th, the Chancellors labelled the April 24th decision of four members of the Local Synod accepting the February 24th decision as "without effect" and “ill-advised”.

The full text of the Letter of the Chancellors and their Opinion follows:


"May 13, 2009


Dear Saidna PHILIP, Members of the Local Synod and Members of the Board of Trustees,


Christ is Risen!


We have been requested by several members of the Board of Trustees, as Chancellors, to give our Opinion regarding the February 24, 2009 decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch.


Enclosed is that Opinion. In reaching that Opinion, we have spent many hours examining the Patriarchate Constitution and Bylaws, and importantly the Resolution of the Holy Synod of Antioch irrevocably granting our Archdiocese Self-Rule, as well as our Archdiocese Constitution. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us.

In Christ,

Robert A. Koory

Charles R. Ajalat

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OPINION OF THE CHANCELLORS REGARDING THE DECISION OF THE HOLY SYNOD OF ANTIOCH OF FEBRUARY 24, 2009



As the Chancellors for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, we have been asked by several members of the Board of Trustees for our opinion on the legal effect of the Resolution of the Holy Synod of Antioch of February 24, 2009. Under the Constitution of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, the Chancellors, while appointed by the Metropolitan Primate with the consent of the Board of Trustees, are the attorneys for the Archdiocese. As such, it is our
obligation to respond to a request for legal opinions from the Primate, members of the Local Synod, members of the Board of Trustees or the General Assembly of the Archdiocese.


In doing so for this opinion, we have considered the Resolution of the Holy Synod of Antioch granting self rule to the Archdiocese of North America, the Constitution and Bylaws of the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Articles of Incorporation of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America as signed by Metropolitan PHILIP and filed with the State of New York, the Constitution of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America as passed in Pittsburg, PA and approved by Metropolitan PHILIP, prior opinions of the Chancellors pertaining to Self-Rule that have been approved and published by the Archdiocese, statements pertaining to Self-Rule as proffered by Metropolitan PHILIP, the April 24, 2009 Decision of the Local Synod, and, of course, the Decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch of February 24, 2009


I. THE FEBRUARY 24, 2009 DECISION OF THE HOLY SYNOD APPEARS TO BE INVALID.


In considering whether the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch is binding upon the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America and. has any effect on the status of the Diocesan Bishops, one must look first to whether the decision is a invalid decision. No person or organization can claim that there must be allegiance to a decision that was not properly made in the first instance. Moreover, a decision not properly made cannot be ratified or approved since if it was not properly made there is no decision to approve or ratify. This issue has been raised by others and needs to beaddressed as a preliminary matter.


A. There Does Not Appear to Have Been the Required Quorum.


According to the official translation of the February 24 decision, only nine members of the Holy Synod were present. The Metropolitans of the Archdioceses are the members of the Holy Synod of Antioch. Patriarchal Constitution, par. 7.


The Patriarchal Constitution calls for the Holy Synod to meet in two sessions, one to be held in the first half of October and the second around Pentecost of each year. It may meet pursuant to a call by the Patriarch or a written request by three members of the Synod giving the reasons therefore. Patriarchal Constitution par. 9. The sessions of the Holy Synod are valid if attended by the majority of its members unless the regulations provide otherwise. Id. 13. ByLaws, par. 13. Decisions are made by a majority of those present at the meeting. Patriarchal Constitution par. 16; ByLaws par.16. There is apparently a question as to whether the appropriate call ever took place.


Pursuant to the Patriarchal Constitution and ByLaws, it appears that the February 24th session of the Holy Synod would not have been valid and any decisions made by such a gathering would have no force or effect. Moreover, it cannot be made “valid” by subsequent agreement by those not in attendance since the Patriarchal Constitution dictates that the decisions are made by a majority of those present at the meetings. Id. 16.


B. There Does Not Appear to Have Been the Required Two-Thirds Vote.


Article 51 of the Constitution (The Fundamental Canons of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch) states: “These canons may be amended only by a two-thirds majority vote of the members of the Holy Synod.” Such a major structural change of making diocesan bishops auxiliary bishops would seem to be a matter that can only be done by amendment of the Patriarchal Constitution. The Patriarchal Constitution may well not even give authority to handle such matters by a modification of the bylaws. The Bylaws of the Patriarchate, as is typical, involves only generally procedural matters implementing the Constitution. The Patriarchal Bylaws are only “to define the work of the Synod, the number of departments, as well as the authority of such departments and the conducting of their meetings.” Patriarchal Constitution art. 16.

The subject matter of the February 24, 2009 decision is not such a matter. Further, it is reasonable
to assume that in such an important amendment of the Bylaws, as with the Patriarchal Constitution, notwithstanding any other provision, a two-thirds vote would be required, ie. 14 members necessary to amend the Bylaws. There is no showing that the proposed amendment received an affirmative vote of 14 members of the Holy Synod and therefore would not be valid.


In any event, assuming the two-thirds requirement, to constitute a proper quorum for the amendment of a bylaw, there would have to be at least two thirds of the members of the Holy Synod of Antioch present. It appears there was not a quorum present and therefore the action was invalid for that reason also.


C. The Decision Appears to Be Invalid, But If It Were Valid, It Is Inapplicable.


It would appear therefore that for significant procedural reasons, the February 24th decision would not be valid and therefore is not binding upon any archdiocese in the Patriarchate and would have no effect on the status of bishops in North America. It would also follow that one cannot submit obedience to an invalid decision. For other additional reasons, as set forth below, even if the decision were valid it would not apply to the Self-Ruled Archdiocese of North America.


II. ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE DECISION IS VALID, IT DOES NOT APPLY
TO THE ARCHDIOCESE OF NORTH AMERICA.


If the so called February 24th decision is a valid decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch, there still remains the question as to whether it has any application to the SelfRuled Archdiocese of North America. While there are numerous archdioceses whose respective metropolitans sit on the Holy Synod and all receive their ecclesiastical authority from a praxis issued by the Patriarchate, only one archdiocese, North America, has been granted irrevocably self-rule by a resolution of the Holy Synod of Antioch.

While there may be debate as to whether, based upon the record, the decision of February 24th is a valid decision, there can be no debate that the decision can not have been intended to apply to the Self-Ruled Archdiocese nor to affect or negate the October 2003 Resolution of the Holy Synod of Antioch granting the North America Archdiocese self rule. That is apparent for several reasons.


A. There Does Not Appear to Be Any Intent to Have the Decision Apply.


1. There Was No Intent Previously for Articles 75-79 to Be Binding on the Archdiocese.


In considering whether a new Bylaw amendment affects the North America Archdiocese, a good starting point is whether the old Bylaws prior to amendment governed the North America Archdiocese. If the Bylaws, prior to amendment, governed the Archdiocese than their amendment might also. By

a parity of reasoning, the reverse would also appear to be true. That is, if the prior Bylaw provisions in question did not govern this Archdiocese than their amendment would be equally inapplicable.


In the instant case, Articles 75-79 prior to amendment read as follows:


75. The Patriarch is the relevant authority for all the bishops and they report to him.
76. The provisions of Article 60 of these regulations are applicable to the nominee for bishopric and his eligibility is determined pursuant thereto.
77. The Holy Synod shall elect the bishop from among three names submitted by the patriarch. The elections shall take place pursuant to Articles 60, 68, 69, and 70 of these Regulations.
78. A bishop is appointed to head the patriarchal office, or a patriarchal monastery or a vicariate or another ecclesiastical institution. The Patriarchal Vicar is elected to this position.
79. The patriarchal vicar participates in the nomination and election of the patriarch, archbishops and bishops.

It is clear that since the irrevocable grant of self-rule to this Archdiocese, the creation of three diocesan bishops by the irrevocable self-rule Resolution itself, the adoption by the Archdiocese of the irrevocable self-rule, the election and consecration of three additional new bishops pursuant to our Constitution, and the enthronement of the Archdiocese’s diocesan bishops, the prior Articles 75-79 applied only throughout the rest of the Patriarchate and had no bearing or application to North America.


2. There Was No Intent to Violate the Self-Rule Resolution by the Inconsistent Amendment.


Without a clear repudiation of the Resolution of the Holy Synod of Antioch granting irrevocably self-rule to this Archdiocese, the purported amendments to the Patriarchate’s bylaws in like manner can have no bearing or effect on this Self-Ruled Archdiocese. For the reasons addressed below, the purported amendments and the self-rule Resolution are significantly inconsistent and both cannot apply to this Archdiocese. Therefore, since there is no claim that the Resolution on self-rule has been abrogated, and therefore still applies to this Archdiocese, the only logical conclusion is that the purported amendments, if they have any applicability, apply only to archdioceses that have not been granted self-rule. They would not and do not apply to this Archdiocese.


It is apparent that some might argue that by the very wording of the amended Article 79, that the purported amendments apply to all archdioceses of this Patriarchate including North America. That article as a’!’ended reads: “The aforementioned articles 75,76,77,78 are applicable in all Antiochian Archdioceses and whatever contradicts these articles is null and void.”

What contradjcts those articles in their application to North America is the Resolution of the Holy Synod granting self-rule, the Constitution of the Archdiocese of North America, the irrevocable creation of three diocesan bishops by the self-rule Resolution itself, the election and consecration of three bishops under the Constitution as diocesan bishops for North America and the enthronement of these various bishops their respective dioceses. To render all of these documents, resolutions and actions null and void by implication, or sub silentio, would be an absurd action. It cannot be imagined that the Holy Synod of Antioch, composed of wise and holy men, would participate in such a folly.


One would expect that if the Holy Synod of Antioch intended to abrogate its Resolution of self rule, it would have done so directly and unequivocally. One must assume the Synod did not intend to undue its Resolution of self rule or to render nugatory the Constitution of the Archdiocese of North America, but rather intended only to affect those bishops in archdioceses that did not have self rule.


B. The Decision Does Not Apply to North America Because If It Did, It Would Violate the Irrevocable Self-Rule Resolution.


The Resolution of the Holy Synod of Antioch granting self-rule to the North America Archdiocese is a simple yet powerful and historic document. In the history of the Church, for whatever reasons, mother Churches have been recalcitrant and unwilling to yield authority to their offspring even when they have grown in distant lands with the influence of different cultures and languages. As a result, when separation occurs without cooperation the split is often hostile and takes years to mend. There are numerous examples in the history of the Orthodox Church for reference.


Yet when one examines the Resolution of the Holy Synod of Antioch granting self-rule, one sees that the Synod granted irrevocably self-rule to the Archdiocese. It also irrevocably restricted itself in the ways that synodical decisions of the Holy Synod could impact the Archdiocese. That the grant was irrevocable is clear from the very first paragraph of the Resolution: “The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is and shall remain self ruled within its present jurisdiction.”

The wording simply couldn’t be stronger. The word “is” denotes a present existing condition while the word “shall” is not only mandatory, meaning nothing can change that condition, but also expresses that the self-rule is to continue in the future without change.


The paragraphs on Governance, Recognition of Auxiliary Bishops as Diocesan Bishops and local Synod, and Decisions of the Holy Synod of Antioch, show the grant of self rule and how it is to be accomplished as well as the Synod self-imposed restriction on itself in its ability to affect the ecclesiastical governance of the Self-Ruled Archdiocese of North America.

The language on Governance is very instructive on the limitations the Holy Synod placed on itself insofar as its decisions would be binding on the North America Archdiocese. The Resolution states: “The Archdiocese is governed by the Holy Scripture, the Sacred Tradition, the Holy Canons, the Constitution of the Church of Antioch and this Synodical Resolution and by its Constitution and Bylaws.”


It is interesting that the paragraph does not state that the Archdiocese is governed by the Bylaws of the Church of Antioch since clearly while some would apply others clearly would not as shown above. Indeed, from the time self rule was granted the Bylaws on the Bishops did not apply. The ones that would not apply as of the time of the Resolution was passed were those that conflicted with the grant of self rule as set forth in the Resolution, e.g., Articles 75-79 as shown above.


More important as to the self-rule Resolution than whether the Patriarchal bylaws are authorized or could ever affect the Archdiocese, in a section headed “Decisions of the Holy Synod of Antioch”, the self-rule Resolution clearly limits how and what future decisions may impact the North America Archdiocese: “The decisions of the Holy Synod of Antioch shall be binding on the Archdiocese on matters of doctrine, liturgy, sacraments, relations with autocephalous Orthodox Churches and ecumenical policy with regard to other Christian and non-Christian bodies.” Significantly, the Resolution does not provide that Synod decisions that would affect the internal governance of the
Self-Ruling Archdiocese are binding on the Archdiocese. Therefore, one must conclude they are not binding.

Clearly, the February 24th decision does not pertain to doctrine, liturgy, sacraments, relations with autocephalous Orthodox Churches or ecumenical policy and therefore does not constitute a binding decision as defined in the Resolution on Self Rule.


While the paragraphs on Governance and Decisions would seem to be sufficient to show that the February 24th decision could not pertain to this Self-Ruling Archdiocese, what is equaJly instructive is the section entitled “Recognition of Auxiliary Bishops as Diocesan Bishops and Local Synod”. After stating that upon adoption of the resolution the Auxiliary bishops shall become Diocesan Bishops, it states: “The Diocesan Bishops will constitute under the Metropolitan the Local Synod of the Archdiocese which will be its governing authority. The Local Synod shall determine the number of dioceses and their boundaries.”

That the Local Synod is the governing ecclesiastical authority for the Archdiocese of North America is a touchstone of self-rule. As part of that self rule is the ability of the Local Synod to elect other Diocesan bishops, to determine the number of dioceses and their boundaries.

The February 24th decision defines all bishops other than the Patriarch, metropolitans and archbishops as auxiliary under their respective Metropolitan and not able to “do anything contrary to the will of the Metropolitan.” If the bishops sitting on the Local Synod cannot vote as they feel they should but must vote in agreement to the will of the Metropolitan then the Local Synod, if it exists at all as a Local Synod, is only a facade and rubber stamp, not truly a Synod of any sort at all. Such a provision that restricts the bishops to do nothing contrary to the will of the Metropolitan is in clear conflict with the self-rule Resolution. They cannot both stand.


Since there is no evidence that the Holy Synod acted to negate the Resolution of Self-Rule, (and thus render itself as contradictory since the Resolution on Self-Rule grants self rule irrevocably), and indeed Metropolitan PHILIP maintains self-rule has not been affected, then it is clear that the decision does not apply to this Archdiocese. It would not be appropriate to assume that the Holy Synod of Antioch acts in a haphazard and contradictory way. Such a suggestion only would bring disgrace and dishonor to an ancient Holy See which we refuse to do.


Furthermore, if the purported Bylaw amendments were intended to negate the Resolution of Self-Rule it must be concluded they do not apply to this Archdiocese because the Self-Rule Resolution is irrevocable and cannot legally be so violated.


C. The Decision Does Not Apply To North America Because If It Did It Would Violate the Constitution Of The Irrevocably Self-Governing Archdiocese.


In acceptance of the answer to its request for self rule and in implementation of l-2 Resolution on Self-Rule, this Archdiocese amended her Constitution in Pittsburgh, PA which was immediately approved by Metropolitan PHILIP. As a result the Constitution took immediate effect. It was submitted to Antioch for approval, and except for minor differences, the Constitution was sufficiently approved under the Self-Rule Resolution that the Patriarch consecrated, pursuant to a process that the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees accepted under our Constitution, three Diocesan bishops, THOMAS, MARK and ALEXANDER, who were elected by the North American Local Synod. Those bishops as well as Bishops JOSEPH and BASIL were enthroned as diocesan bishops of their respective dioceses, all pursuant to the Archdiocese Constitution. Those Diocesan bishops, with Metropolitan PHILIP as the head, and Bishop ANTOUN, a Diocesan Bishop under the Self-Rule Resolution, constitute the Local Synod. Arch. Const. Art. IV, Sec. 2.

Pursuant to both the Resolution on Self-Rule and the Archdiocese Constitution, it is the Local Synod through whom self rule is accomplished. The Resolution provides: “The Diocesan Bishops will constitute under the Metropolitan the Local Synod of the Archdiocese which will be its governing authority.”


In like manner, the Archdiocese Constitution provides: “The Local Synod, comprised of the Metropolitan, and the Diocesan Bishops shall be the governing ecclesiastical authority of the Archdiocese. The Metropolitan shall preside over the Local Synod.” Arch. Const. Art. IV, Sec. 2.


If the February 24th Decision applied to this Self-Ruled Archdiocese, it would create several conflicts with our Constitution such that our Constitution would be rendered nugatory. First, if all of the Diocesan bishops are now auxiliary, then the Local Synod would cease to exist. Our Constitution does not provide for auxiliary bishops to be on the Local Synod except for one auxiliary bishop nominated by the General Assembly and elected by the Local Synod who is to assist the Metropolitan in the administration of the Self-Ruled Archdiocese. Arch. Const. Art. VI Sec. 1 A.


Second, even if they sat on the Local Synod, they would have no ability to govern since they would be limited to voting in accordance with the will of the Metropolitan. The Local Synod would for all practical purposes cease to function in accordance with its constitutional mandate as the governing ecclesiastical authority of the Archdiocese.


Third, the Archdiocese Constitution only allows that in certain instances the Constitution of the Church of Antioch along with the Archdiocese Constitution, Bylaws, Holy Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and Holy Canons shall be the governing code for this Archdiocese. Arch. Const. Art. IV Sec. 1. It does not provide that the Bylaws of the Church of Antioch shall be part of that governing code. Should it be argued that the Bylaws of Antioch are included by implication since the Constitution of Antioch is part of the governing code, even the Constitution of Antioch is only part of this Archdiocese’s governing code to the extent it is not inconsistent with our Constitution. Arch. Const., Art. 4.


Metropolitan PHILIP has recognized that while portions of the Patriarchal Constitution may apply in other archdioceses, they are not applicable here. In a letter to Patriarch IGNATIUS IV dated February 11, 2005, His Eminence wrote: “We are an Archdiocese, established oversees, i.e., in the United States of America and Canada, which has its own particularities. In our administrative methodology we differ from all the other Archdioceses. For example, the main Patriarchal constitution is suitable to the
Antiochian see in the homeland, but not overseas. Additionally, we have a mechanism for amending the constitution which we can not overstep.”


As shown above, the February 24th decision is irreconcilably in conflict with the Archdiocese Constitution. They cannot both apply to this Archdiocese and since the decision is inconsistent with our Constitution, the February 24 decision does not apply to our Archdiocese.


Fourth, should it be argued that the decision is effectively an amendment to the Archdiocese Constitution, it should be remembered that only the General Assembly of the Archdiocese can amend the Archdiocese Constitution. This is clearly set forth in Art. VII. It was also noted by Metropolitan PHILIP in his letter of February 11, 2005 to the Patriarch: “According to our registered constitution, neither the Holy Synod, nor the Metropolitan, nor the Local Synod can impose any amendment to the constitution without the approval of clergy and laity, i.e., the General Assembly of the Archdiocese.”
This position was repeated by the Chancellors of the Archdiocese in their “IMPORTANT MESSAGE REGARDING OUR CONSTITUTION” dated January 27, 2005. That message was distributed by the Archdiocese and directed to be published in the parish bulletin.


The February 24th decision, if it applied to this Archdiocese would dramatically change our Constitution. As noted above, neither the Holy Synod, nor the Metropolitan, nor the Patriarch nor the Local Synod can impose any amendment without the approvalof the General Assembly of the Self-Ruled Archdiocese.

Since the decision conflicts with the Archdiocese Constitution, the Constitution governs and the decision cannot apply to this Self-Ruled Archdiocese.


D. The Decision Does Not Apply To North America Because If It Did It Would Violate The Irrevocably Self-Ruled Archdiocese’s Articles Of
Incorporation.


As a result of the amendment of the Self-Ruled Archdiocese Constitution, the Articles of Incorporation of the Self-Ruled Archdiocese were amended. They were signed by Metropolitan PHILIP and filed with the State of New York on December 26, 2006. Those articles recognize that the grant of self-rule was irrevocable. Moreover, they acknowledged that the self-rule was implemented pursuant to the amended Constitution.


Since the February 24th decision, if applicable, would violate the Archdiocese Constitution and negate the irrevocable grant of self-rule, it would also violate the Articles of Incorporation. Since the decision conflicts with the Articles of Incorporation, the Articles govern and the decision, therefore, cannot apply to this Self-Ruled Archdiocese.


III. SUMMARY: THE DECISION IS INVALID, WAS NOT INTENDED TO APPLY AND INDEPENDENTLY DOES NOT APPLY TO, NOR DOES IT HAVE ANY EFFECT UPON, OUR SELF·RULED ARCHDIOCESE.


For all of the reasons stated above, the February 24th decision is not a valid decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch. Moreover, even if were, it was not intended to apply to the Self-Ruled North American Archdiocese, and if it were intended to apply, it does not apply to, nor does it have any effect on our Self-Ruled Archdiocese or the status of our Diocesan Bishops, because it is inconsistent with, negates, and violates the irrevocable Resolution on Self-Rule, and without amendment by the General Assembly it is inconsistent with, negates, and violates the Archdiocese Constitution in addition to the Articles of Incorporation.

IV. THIS OPINION IS NOT CHANGED BY THE APRIL 24, 2009 LOCAL SYNOD
RESOLUTION AFFIRMING OBEDIENCE TO THE DECISION OF THE HOlY
SYNOD OF ANTIOCH OF FEBRUARY 24, 2009.


On April 24, 2009, the Local Synod of the Archdiocese of North America met. During that meeting a resolution was signed by four members of the Local Synod "affirming obedience to the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch of February 24, 2009”. The question becomes what effect if any does that “resolution” of the four bishops have on the status of the Archdiocese’s bishops in North America?


For the reasons stated above, it is clear that the “resolution” was ill-advised and would have no effect on the status of the diocesan bishops. Even assuming the decision of the Holy Synod was valid, for the reasons set forth above, it would not be applicable to bishops in North America. Moreover, an act by the Local Synod that would contradict the Archdiocese Constitution, without amendment of the Constitution, would not only be an unconstitutional, and therefore an invalid act, but equally important would violate the sacred duties of the members of the local Synod who share the responsibility to maintain the trust placed in them by the clergy and laity of the Archdiocese, that they would uphold and protect the Constitution of this Archdiocese. Indeed, that is a requirement of all members of the Board of Trustees who take such an oath administered by the Metropolitan Primate.

In examining the April 241h resolution, it is premised upon the fact that the Archdiocese receives its ecclesiastical authority to act as a self-ruled Archdiocese from the Holy Synod of Antioch and that Metropolitan PHILIP is a member of that Synod and serves under a canonical praxis issued by the Patriarch. More importantly, it refers first and foremost to the Archdiocese Constitution. In referring to the Archdiocese Constitution, the April 241h Resolution would have been acting properly.
Unfortunately, the Local Synod appears to have ill-advised. The analysis of whether a decision of the Holy Synod applies to this Archdiocese would not examine just one section of the Archdiocese Constitution. There are other sections of the Constitution that must also be considered otherwise the analysis falls to the criticism that it has taken a provision out of context.


That the Archdiocese Constitution provides that the Archdiocese receives its ecclesiastical authority to act as a self-ruled Archdiocese from the Holy Synod of /\ntioch and that Metropolitan PHILIP is a member of that Synod and serves under a canonical praxis issued by the Patriarch, are essentially non-issues and do not provide a basis for concluding that the February 24th Holy Synod decision has any bearing to this Archdiocese. No one would dispute either that the Constitution so provides or that the Holy Synod granted self-rule to this Archdiocese or that the Metropolitan serves under a canonical praxis issued by the Patriarch. That the Metropolitan serves under a canonical praxis issued by the Patriarch does not in any way affect the Self-Rule granted by the Holy Synod. In like manner, the
fact that he is a member of the Holy Synod of Antioch does not affect the grant of self rule.


Thus, neither of those two facts can serve as a basis for contending the February 24th decision applies to this Archdiocese.


Moreover, the fact that the Holy Synod irrevocably granted self-rule to this Archdiocese is precisely one of the reasons why the February 24th decision is inapplicable. Unless self-rule was attempted to be annihilated by the Holy Synod of Antioch, and even the Local Synod’s resolution would appear to contradict such an interpretation, then for the reasons stated above in Section II the decision does not and cannot apply. Reliance on Article 1, Section 2 Paragraph B of the Archdiocese Constitution as
a basis to claim this Archdiocese is bound by the February 24th decision is inapposite for several reasons:

First, the paragraph itself reads: This Archdiocese was granted its ecclesiastical authority to function as a self-ruling Archdiocese from the Holy Synod ...” It should be noted first that the word “granted” was specifically debated and the past tense specifically chosen by the General Assembly irrevocable decision of the Holy Synod to grant self-rule. As to the future, if ecclesiastical authority to function as a self-ruling Archdiocese” has any meaning, it comes first and foremost from Art. IV Section 2: “The Local Synod, comprised of the Metropolitan and the Diocesan Bishops shall be the governing ecclesiastical authority of the Archdiocese.”

As noted above by its irrevocable grant of self-rule to this Archdiocese, the Holy Synod of Antioch irrevocably placed restrictions on its ability to affect the governance and internal structure of this Archdiocese. That governance has been irrevocably delegated to this Archdiocese ecclesiastically through the Local Synod comprised of the Metropolitan and the Diocesan Bishops. Any change in that would require a clear statement by the Holy Synod abrogating the Resolution on Self-Rule which Metropolitan PHILIP has said such abrogation did not occur.


More importantly, it would require a complete revision of the Archdiocese Constitution since we would no longer have a functioning Local Synod in terms of real governance and we would no longer have Diocesan bishops or the ability to elect new bishops. Such changes would occur only when and if such amendments were duly passed by a General Assembly of the Archdiocese as provided in the Archdiocese Constitution and as confirmed by the Metropolitan.

As Metropolitan Philip has stated in his letter of February 11, 2005 to the Patriarch: “According to our registered constitution, neither the Holy Synod, nor the Metropolitan, nor the Local Synod can impose any amendment to the constitution without the approval of clergy and laity, i.e., the General Assembly of the Archdiocese.”


While the members of the Local Synod could express their obedience to the February 24th decision, assuming it was valid, such expression would only mean that it might have validity in other archdioceses of the Patriarchate and not in North America.
As noted above, not even our own Local Synod can impose any amendment to our Constitution on its own. Indeed, as members of our Local Synod, the better choice of action would have been to point out the fact it could have no application to North
America. After all, the members of the Local Synod as well as the Board of Trustees are duty bound to protect and defend our Constitution and to act in accordance with it.


CONCLUSION


For all of the reasons stated above, the February 24th decision is not a valid decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch. Moreover, even if were, it would have no effect on our Archdiocese since it wasn’t intend to apply to our Archdiocese and if it was intended, it would not apply because it is inconsistent with, negates, and would violate the irrevocable Resolution on Self-Rule, the Archdiocese Constitution and the
Archdiocese Articles of Incorporation, filed with the State of New York. Unless properly amended, these documents cannot be overridden and the February 24,2009 decision is inapplicable to the Self-Ruled Archdiocese.

Pursuant to the Constitution, all members of the Board of Trustees including the clergy and the hierarchs have an obligation to insure that the Archdiocese Constitution and Articles are protected. A constitution defines certain rights and privileges and
obligations, these apply to the entire church population including the laity. It is incumbent upon all members to insure that these provisions are not violated even if one disagrees with them.


There is an element of trust that is underlying the role of a member of the Board of Trustees (and a member of the General Assembly) whether the person is a hierarch, priest, or member of the laity. That trust is that the member will act in the best interests
of the Archdiocese and follow the dictates of the spirit as well as the letter of the Constitution.


If the members do not act to protect the Constitution and the self-rule as defined therein, then they will have violated that trust. The consequences, among others, will be a legitimate lack of trust by clergy and laity in the leaders of this Archdiocese. That would be tragic.

In Christ,

Robert A. Koory

Chancellor

Charles R. Ajalat
Chancellor"

What happens now?

The Chancellors' Opinion, requested by members of the Board of Trustees, represents a real step forward in the resolution of the current crisis. The Synod of Antioch and the Local Synod must both now weigh their options - whether to continue a course of action now deemed invalid, or return to the status quo ante bellum. In the past two days the Patriarchal website has gone off-line. Is this a sign that the Synod of Antioch now re-grouping in preparation for its meeting shortly before Pentecost ?

What is clear, however, is that the Chancellor’s letter has already had an effect in America: the pages to the “ill-advised” April 24th meeting of the Local Synod on www. Antiochian.org have been removed as well...

The question now becomes: his own lawyers having spoken, will Metropolitan Philip now turn and defend his own Archdiocese - or continue his present course, leading the jurisdiction into deeper chaos? The lawyers have made it clear that his hierarchs, clergy and laity - even his own Board of Trustees- are now enjoined by their various fiduciary responsibilities to oppose Philip's attempts to re-consolidate his power, and uphold the Archdiocese's own Constitution.

- Mark Stokoe

-------------------

*Updates (10:30PM 5.17.09)

Since the story first appeared this morning, the Patriarchal website has re-appeared. However, the last posting on www.antiochpat.org is dated April 28, 2007.

In addition, Fr. Andrew Damick reports that the links to the April 24th decision are also in order once again. According to this editor of the Archdiocesan website, the main page for the February 24th decision was badly edited, and removed on May 7th, well before the writing of the letter of the Chancellors. Therefore, there is no causation as suggested in the article. The documents remain on the site and may be accessed here and here. My thanks to Fr. Damick for this important clarification.

Source:

The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has declared intentions to appeal to Turkish courts, and should that fail, to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg regarding the 23 Orthodox foundations and communities that have been confiscated by the Turkish government's religious foundation directorate.

Following the Divine Liturgy at St. George Church, atop the Byzantium walls of Edirne, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed the congregation, and as reported by AsiaNews, said:

"We have and you have come here to celebrate this religious ceremony in a parish that is facing many difficulties. Unfortunately it is not alone. The problem is that this parish and its community, as is the case with many others of the Church of Constantinople, have been abusively declared occupied by the Directorate of Religious Foundations. This means that we cannot claim any rights to the management of the properties of this community, nor proceed with the election of its administrative board. As a result of this we have no right to manage that which was left to us by our forefathers. The only thing we are allowed to carry out in these places are religious functions. Unfortunately this is fate of this parish and many other parishes of the Church of Constantinople.

"In the court yard of this parish the building which housed the community's school still exists. It unfortunately has been transformed into a gaming hall and its management has been ceded by the authorities to a private individual, who in turn compensated these authorities with rent.

"In an attempt to put an end to these injustices which we are being subjected to, the Synod has reached a decision; to appeal firstly to the State Judiciary of Turkey, then, if all else should fail to the European Court in Strasbourg, following the example of the orphanage on Prince Buyukada Island, in the hopes that in this case too, justice will be done.

"We do not want special treatment, but neither can we allow our rights to be trampled on or our identity and the cultural heritage entrusted us by our forefathers be erased."

Source:

SYOSSET NY [OCA Communications] -- The 15th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America, held in November 2008, mandated that the OCA develop a strategic plan for its future.

Since the Council, the OCA's Holy Synod of Bishops has engaged in an ongoing discussion about the mission and vision of the Orthodox Church in America, resulting to date in two position papers by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah: "A Time of Crisis and Opportunity," and "The Conciliar Structures of the Orthodox Church in America."

In February 2009, the OCA's Metropolitan Council discussed the strategic vision process at its 2009 Spring meeting. With the blessing of the Holy Synod, a committee was created that would guide the process of developing the plan.

Made up of the Metropolitan and volunteers from the Metropolitan Council, the Strategic Vision Committee members include:

* His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah
* Archpriest Robert Arida (Chairperson), Diocese of New England
* Archpriest Eric G. Tosi (Chancery Liaison), OCA Secretary
* Archpriest Ted Boback, Elected by AAC
* Protodeacon Peter Danilchick, Elected by AAC
* David Grier, Archdiocese of Canada
* Archpriest Michael Oleksa, Diocese of Alaska
* Eleana Silk, Elected by AAC
* Dr. Dmitri Solodow, Diocese of the West
* Archpriest Alexis Vinogradov, Diocese of Washington and New York
* Deacon John Zarras, Diocese of New England

"I have no illusions as to the tremendous amount of work needed to produce what will hopefully help the Church to be faithful to its mission in North America," Fr. Robert Arida said. "If there is to be a canonically sound, secure and viable ecclesiology then we should be circumspect in all deliberations and decisions . This will help to avoid any retreats that would continue to undermine the OCA from outside as well as to ward off any attacks that might ensue from within."

The steps in the strategic vision process were outlined by Fr. Eric Tosi in a memorandum previously posted on www.oca.org, which can be read here.

An important part of the process that is upcoming is the Summer Conference at St. Vladimir's Seminary, June 18 to 20, 2009, titled, "The Council and the Tomos: Twentieth-century Landmarks towards a Twenty-first-century Church." Conference speakers will focus on two watersheds that have shaped the Orthodox Church in America: the All-Russian Council (Sobor) of 1917-1918, and the Tomos of Autocephaly granted in 1970 by the Russian Orthodox Church to its daughter church, the Orthodox Church in America. The conference will address the significance of the OCA's presence in North America, and future paths and possibilities open to it, including its interface with the multi-jurisdictional Orthodox Christian communities in the US and Canada.

Recent exchanges of views about Orthodoxy in America, the role of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the forthcoming pan-Orthodox sessions that will deliberate on the "diaspora," make the themes of the OCA's mission and vision of critical importance for all of those concerned about the future of Orthodox Christianity in North America. Noting this, generous underwriters have made it possible for St. Vladimir's Seminary to announce that the posted fees for the conference are being reduced by 50%.

Source:

Benedict XVI's Address at Orthodox Patriarchate



JERUSALEM, MAY 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI gave today in an ecumenical meeting at the Greek Orthodox patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with profound gratitude and joy that I make this visit to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem; a moment to which I have much looked forward. I thank His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilus III for his kind words of fraternal greeting, which I warmly reciprocate. I also express to all of you my heartfelt gratitude for providing me with this opportunity to meet once again the many leaders of Churches and ecclesial communities present.

This morning I am mindful of the historic meetings that have taken place here in Jerusalem between my predecessor Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I, and also between Pope John Paul II and His Beatitude Patriarch Diodoros. These encounters, including my visit today, are of great symbolic significance. They recall that the light of the East (cf. Is 60:1; Rev 21:10) has illumined the entire world from the very moment when a "rising sun" came to visit us (Lk 1:78) and they remind us too that from here the Gospel was preached to all nations.

Standing in this hallowed place, alongside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which marks the site where our crucified Lord rose from the dead for all humanity, and near the cenacle, where on the day of Pentecost "they were all together in one place" (Acts 2:1), who could not feel impelled to bring the fullness of goodwill, sound scholarship and spiritual desire to our ecumenical endeavors? I pray that our gathering today will give new impetus to the work of theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, adding to the recent fruits of study documents and other joint initiatives.

Of particular joy for our Churches has been the participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomew I, at the recent Synod of Bishops in Rome dedicated to the theme: The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. The warm welcome he received and his moving intervention were sincere expressions of the deep spiritual joy that arises from the extent to which communion is already present between our Churches. Such ecumenical experience bears clear witness to the link between the unity of the Church and her mission. Extending his arms on the Cross, Jesus revealed the fullness of his desire to draw all people to himself, uniting them together as one (cf. Jn 12:32). Breathing his Spirit upon us he revealed his power to enable us to participate in his mission of reconciliation (cf. Jn 19:30; 20:22-23). In that breath, through the redemption that unites, stands our mission! Little wonder, then, that it is precisely in our burning desire to bring Christ to others, to make known his message of reconciliation (cf. 2 Cor 5:19), that we experience the shame of our division. Yet, sent out into the world (cf. Jn 20:21), empowered by the unifying force of the Holy Spirit (ibid. v. 22), proclaiming the reconciliation that draws all to believe that Jesus is the Son of God (ibid. v. 31), we shall find the strength to redouble our efforts to perfect our communion, to make it complete, to bear united witness to the love of the Father who sends the Son so that the world may know his love for us (cf. Jn 17:23).

Some two thousand years ago, along these same streets, a group of Greeks put this request to Philip: "Sir, we should like to see Jesus" (Jn 12:21). It is a request made again of us today, here in Jerusalem, in the Holy Land, in the region and throughout the world. How do we respond? Is our response heard? Saint Paul alerts us to the gravity of our response: our mission to teach and preach. He says: "faith comes from hearing, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ" (Rm 10:17). It is imperative therefore that Christian leaders and their communities bear vibrant testimony to what our faith proclaims: the eternal Word, who entered space and time in this land, Jesus of Nazareth, who walked these streets, through his words and actions calls people of every age to his life of truth and love.

Dear friends, while encouraging you to proclaim joyfully the Risen Lord, I wish also to recognize the work to this end of the Heads of Christian communities, who meet together regularly in this city. It seems to me that the greatest service the Christians of Jerusalem can offer their fellow citizens is the upbringing and education of a further generation of well-formed and committed Christians, earnest in their desire to contribute generously to the religious and civic life of this unique and holy city. The fundamental priority of every Christian leader is the nurturing of the faith of the individuals and families entrusted to his pastoral care. This common pastoral concern will ensure that your regular meetings are marked by the wisdom and fraternal charity necessary to support one another and to engage with both the joys and the particular difficulties which mark the lives of your people. I pray that the aspirations of the Christians of Jerusalem will be understood as being concordant with the aspirations of all its inhabitants, whatever their religion: a life of religious freedom and peaceful coexistence and -- for young people in particular -- unimpeded access to education and employment, the prospect of suitable housing and family residency, and the chance to benefit from and contribute to economic stability.

Your Beatitude, I thank you again for your kindness in inviting me here, together with the other guests. Upon each of you and the communities you represent, I invoke an abundance of God's blessings of fortitude and wisdom! May you all be strengthened by the hope of Christ which does not disappoint!

Source:

JERUSALEM, MAY 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI met with representatives of Christian communities in the Holy Land, and is affirming the Catholic Church's desire to work toward common goals of unity.

The Pope said this today, the final day of his Holy Land pilgrimage, in the presence of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine, Theophilus III, in an ecumenical meeting at the patriarchate.

The Pontiff expressed the hope that the meeting will "give new impetus to the work of theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, adding to the recent fruits of study documents and other joint initiatives."

"Such ecumenical experience bears clear witness to the link between the unity of the Church and her mission," he noted.

The Holy Father affirmed the necessity of the witness of Christian communities, to testify to "what our faith proclaims: the eternal Word, who entered space and time in this land, Jesus of Nazareth, who walked these streets, through his words and actions calls people of every age to his life of truth and love."

Benedict XVI recognized the work of the community leaders who meet regularly together, and encouraged them in the task of upbringing and educating "a further generation of well-formed and committed Christians."

"This common pastoral concern," he added, "will ensure that your regular meetings are marked by the wisdom and fraternal charity necessary to support one another and to engage with both the joys and the particular difficulties which mark the lives of your people."

The Pope expressed a prayer that "the aspirations of the Christians of Jerusalem will be understood as being concordant with the aspirations of all its inhabitants, whatever their religion: a life of religious freedom and peaceful coexistence and -- for young people in particular -- unimpeded access to education and employment, the prospect of suitable housing and family residency, and the chance to benefit from and contribute to economic stability."

Significant growth

After this meeting, the Pontiff went to visit the Holy Sepulcher nearby, and then went to the Armenian Apostolic patriarchal church of St. James.

In the presence of Archbishop Torkom II Manoukian and members of the Armenian Church, the Holy Father affirmed that the meeting "is another step along the path towards the unity which the Lord desires for all his disciples."

He acknowledged the recent "significant growth in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church," thanking the latter for its commitment in furthering theological dialogue between the former and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Benedict XVI recalled his previous visits with Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, and Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians.

He continued, "A particular sign of hope is the recent document on the nature and mission of the Church produced by the Mixed Commission and presented to the Churches for study and evaluation."

The Pope entrusted this effort to prayer "so that it can bear abundant fruit for the growth of Christian unity."

After the meeting, he departed Jerusalem for Tel Aviv airport, where he bade farewell to the Holy Land leaders and boarded a plane for Rome.

Source:

CRESTWOOD, NY [SVS/May 13, 2009] -- Recent exchanges of views about Orthodoxy in America, the role of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the forthcoming pan-Orthodox sessions that will deliberate on the "diaspora," emphasize how vital it is to reflect upon events that shaped the current landscape. As a foundational part of its mission, Saint Vladimir's Seminary is a venue where controversial topics can be discussed openly and freely.

Noting the importance of this summer conference for the future of American Orthodoxy, generous underwriters have made it possible for SVS to announce that the posted fees for the conference are being reduced by 50%.

V. Rev. Alexander GarklavsThe seminary will host a summer conference titled, "The Council and the Tomos: Twentieth-century Landmarks towards a Twenty-first-century Church," June 18-20, 2009. Conference speakers will focus on two watersheds that have shaped the Orthodox Church in America (OCA): the All-Russian Council (Sobor) of 1917-1918, and the Tomos of Autocephaly granted in 1970 by the Russian Orthodox Church to its daughter church, the Orthodox Church in America, then known as the "North American Diocese." The conference will address the significance of the OCA's presence in North America, and future paths and possibilities open to it, including its interface with the multi-jurisdictional Orthodox Christian communities in the US and Canada.

Speakers at this important conference include

* His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America and SVS alumnus ('85, '88)
* His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel, Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America (OCA)
* His Grace, Bishop Basil (Osborne) of Amphipolis, Exarchate of Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe (Ecumenical Patriarchate)
* Archimandrite Kirill (Hovorun), head of the Department of External Church Relations for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC)
* Fr. Mark Arey, General Secretary of SCOBA and Inter-Orthodox Director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
* Fr. Hyacinthe Destivelle, Dominican priest, professor in the theological faculty at the Catholic Institute in Paris, and author of Le Concile de Moscou (1917-1918): La Creation des Institutions Conciliares de l'Eglise Orthodoxe Russe (Les Editions du Cerf, 2006)
* The V. Rev. Alexander Garklavs, Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and SVS Alumnus ('82, '93)
* The V. Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations (OCA), and SVS alumnus ('64-67)
* Mr. Charles Ajalat, pre-eminent lay leader and advocate for the administrative unity of the various Orthodox jurisdictions in North America, and Chancellor of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA)
* Dr. Scott Kenworthy, assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Religion at Miami University, with a focus on Eastern Orthodoxy in modern Russia, and SVS alumnus ('96)
* Mr. Matthew Namee, historian and host of the American Orthodox History podcast on Ancient Faith Radio
* Dr. Vera Shevzov, associate professor of religion at Smith College, author of Russian Orthodoxy on the Eve of Revolution (Oxford, 2004), and SVS alumna ('86)

To register for the St. Vladimir's Seminary 2009 Summer Conference, click here. Registration deadline is June 1, 2009.

Questions about the summer conference may be addressed to events@svots.edu.

The schedule for the 2009 Summer Conference is as follows

THURSDAY, JUNE 18, 2009

3 p.m.-6 p.m. Registration
6 p.m. Dinner (pre-order boxed dinners) for registrants

7:30 p.m. Public Address: The V. Rev. Alexander Garklavs The Pre-History of the All-Russian Council (free presentation open to the public)

FRIDAY, JUNE 19

8 a.m. Morning Worship & Breakfast

Morning Session
9 a.m.-1 p.m. History of the 1917-1918 All-Russian Council
Speakers: Fr. Hiacynthe Destivelle, Dr. Scott Kenworthy, and Dr. Vera Shevzov

1:00 p.m. Lunch

Afternoon Session
2:30 p.m.-5 p.m. The All-Russian Council's Reception in Russia and the West
Speaker: Archimandrite Kirill Hovorun
The Tomos of Autocephaly
Speaker: Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky

5:00 p.m. Evening Worship
6:00 p.m. Dinner & Evening Free

SATURDAY, JUNE 20

8 a.m. Divine Liturgy
10 a.m. Coffee Hour

Morning Session
11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The Vision of Chalcedon's Canon 28
Speaker: Bishop Basil of Amphipolis
The Myth of Past Unity
Speaker: Matthew Namee

1:00 p.m. Lunch

Afternoon Session
2 p.m.-5 p.m. A Vision for Now, on the Basis of History
Speaker: Metropolitan Jonah
Respondents: Mr. Charles Ajalat, Archbishop Nathaniel, Bishop Maxim, others to be announced

5 p.m. Great Vespers
Closing

Source:







For the past several years the Religious Education Department of the Catholicosate has been organizing lecture series for women with the aim of deepening their knowledge of the church, its theology and the place of the Bible in the Church. This year as well His Holiness Aram I met with the participants during the first and last sessions of the course. The theme of the course of this year was “Outstanding People in the Bible”.

On Tuesday 12 May 2009, the last day of the course, group met with His Holiness Aram I at the Main Hall of the Catholicosate. Referring to the people in the Bible His Holiness said: “God speaks to us either through special persons or events. God’s plan is to save humanity and help them build His Kingdom. The Church as the Body of Christ continues God’s work by making Salvation the goal of its mission. The church is the ‘people of God’. We are therefore commissioned by God to imitate the life of Jesus Christ and reflect through our lives the values he established through His Death on the Cross.

Catholicos Aram I expressed his satisfaction on the growing number of men and women taking part in the activities organized by Religious Education Department, because it was a sign of spiritual growth within Church. This spiritual growth would sustain when there is stronger relationship between the faithful and the clergy. It is therefore a joy to see women being enabled to contribute to this spiritual growth in the church.

Source:

Moscow, May 14, Interfax - Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk exchanged views on relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church with Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the apostolic nuncio to Russia.

The meeting took place at Archbishop Mennini's request at the St. Daniel Monastery in Moscow and passed "in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and openness," the Russian Orthodox Church reported on its official website.

The parties discussed relations between Orthodox believers and Catholics in Russia and also practical issues concerning the work of the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Theological Commission on Dialogue and the activity of a joint working group on problems in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

During the meeting, the parties emphasized the importance of combined efforts in protecting traditional Christian values.

Archbishop Mennini also handed Archbishop Hilarion letters from Secretary of the Holy See Secretariat of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, and Holy See Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

Source:

Prague, May 14, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church believes that the European community should take urgent measures to combat Christian phobia in today's Europe.

"We should become aware that Christian phobia was generated by Christian civilization, or whatever we call European civilization now. Christian phobia is nothing else but malignant cancer which threatens European civilization with fatal effects," Russian Church representative at the European Council Hegumen Filaret (Bulekov) said at the Dialogue of Civilizations World Public Forum in Prague.

He urged "not only Christians, but also all bearers of traditional European culture formed by Christianity to consider carefully their cultural survival in today's globalizing world and ask themselves why so many of them feel no concern about the present and the future of their culture and their religious traditions."

"We need to acknowledge that it is impossible to put the blame for Christian phobia displays on Muslims, immigrants or the so-called "Civilization Clash". It is the essential and primary fault of successors to European Christian culture, that is, our fault," Fr. Filaret said.

Source:




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