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The spiritual origin, nature, and meaning of the current pandemic. An interview with Jean-Claude Larchet by Orthodoxie.com

Jean-Claude Larchet, you are one of the first to have developed a theological reflection on disease, suffering, medicine. Your book “The Theology of Illness” published in 1991 has been translated into many languages, and in connection with the COVID-19 epidemic, it will soon be published in Japanese translation. You have also published a reflection on suffering: “God does not want human suffering,” which has also appeared in various translations. First of all, what is your general opinion on the epidemic we are currently experiencing? I am not surprised: for millennia there have been about two major epidemics per century, and several other smaller epidemics. Their frequency is, however, increasing, and the population concentration in our urban civilization, the traffic favoured by globalization, and the multiplicity and speed of modern means of transport easily turn them into pandemics. The present epidemic was therefore predictable, and was predicted by many epidemiologists who had no doubt that it would come; the only thing they did not know was the precise moment when it would occur and the form it would take. What is surprising, though, is the lack of preparedness of some states, which, instead of providing the medical staff with the hospital structures and equipment needed to deal with the scourge, have allowed hospitals to deteriorate and the production of medicines, masks, and respirators, which are now sorely lacking, to be outsourced (to China, like everything else). Diseases are omnipresent in the history of mankind, and nobody lives a life completely unscathed by them. Epidemics are simply diseases that are particularly contagious and spread rapidly until they reach a large part of the population. The characteristic of the COVID-19 virus is that it seriously affects the respiratory system of the elderly or people weakened by other pathologies, and has a high degree

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Orthodox Metropolis of Korea: ‘Prayer, whether it is done in the Church or in our home or in any other place, must be done with due reverence and care

The Orthodox Metropolis of Korea (Ecumenical Patriarchate) has issued the following Encyclical urging the faithful to pray with due reverence and care during the Covid-19 outbreak. Read the full text down below:

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Appeal of the First Hierarch to the God-Loving Flock, in Connection with the Coronavirus Pandemic

Dear in the Lord fathers, brothers, and sisters! I sincerely greet you with the very warmest well-wishes for the blessings of God, good health, spiritual calm, and the patience so needed in this trying time! I especially greet the doctors, nurses, and all who work in the hospitals, sincerely wishing them increased strength and Heavenly aid! I wish for those who are sick — and for their friends and relatives — comfort in the hope of God’s will, which always directs man toward the good. Our prayers are with all of you. As a result of measures being taken to halt the spread of the Coronavirus infection, which have been instituted by the governments of countries in which our Church maintains a presence, many of us have been deprived of the Divine Services and of communal worship in the temples. In some parishes, following the strict recommendations of local authorities, no services are held at all; in others, it is possible to serve, but this must be done with closed doors and in the presence of an extremely limited number of people, who themselves observe the required distance from one another. In many parishes, the service is performed by a single priest, sung by a single chanter. For these parishioners, it is a comfort to know that prayer is still being offered up in the churches, that the living and the dead are being commemorated. And where the Divine Services are being broadcast over the Internet via live-stream, many unite and join in this prayer, creating a prayerful atmosphere in their own homes. I have even heard of instances where some among the faithful light candles and lamps and, standing in their prayer corners, follow along with the service and pray. I think that such church ‘attendance’ has the virtue

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Statement of the ACOB-USA Executive Committee Concerning Holy Week and Pascha (Easter)

Friday, April 03, 2020 PDF Version To the Clergy and Faithful Orthodox Christians of the United States of America: During this period of crisis, we, members of the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, are meeting in conference call sessions every Friday to continually monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, we discuss both pastoral and practical matters concerning the operational situation of our churches. As such, allow us first to thank all the medical health professionals, first responders, delivery personnel, and clergy who put themselves on the front lines in a sacrificial manner for the protection of our health and salvation. We are facing unprecedented circumstances in extraordinary times. Many guidelines from various jurisdictions, following State and Federal regulations as well as CDC recommendations, have been successfully implemented in parishes around the country, helping to slow the spread of COVID-19. After consultation with public health and insurance officials, law enforcement, theologians, and pastoral care professionals, we, members of the Executive Committee, have reached a consensus concerning Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Pascha (Easter) and strongly encourage all Bishops of the Assembly to implement the following recommendations: Services, celebrated by a maximum of five people consisting of a Priest, a Deacon, Chantor(s), and/ or Server(s), continue in the churches and may be streamed online for the faithful to pray from their homes.None of the traditional material offerings are to be distributed to the faithful in any way, including palms and/or pussy willows, flowers, candles, and eggs, etc.Spiritual guidance may be heard over the phone, but the implementation of the Sacrament of Confession and Prayer of Absolution remains at the discretion of the local Bishop. Whereas some Bishops might implement more stringent practices out of love and concern for their flock and broader society,

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Metropolitan of Nafpaktos: Some Hierarchs act as if there is no Holy Synod

On the occasion of the extension of the restrictive measures that also extend to the Church, as well as of the forthcoming session of the Standing Holy Synod to be held with a teleconference on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos spoke to ethnos.gr.

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Greek Church petitions to be allowed to serve Liturgy, lawyers seeking to annul order to ban Church services

Although the Greek Orthodox Church earlier agreed to limit its services to just one-hour Divine Liturgies on Sundays, the state was not content, and on March 16 it banned all services until March 30, in an effort to contain the highly contagious coronavirus. However, while understanding the need to protect the faithful and all people, the Church also understands the need for the Divine Liturgy to be served. Thus, the Church has petitioned the Ministry of Education and Religion to make an exemption and allow the Divine Liturgy to be served according to the normal schedule, albeit behind closed doors, reports the Orthodoxia News Agency. Currently, only emergency services such as funerals are allowed, as well as individual church visits for private prayer. An exemption for the Divine Liturgy “will greatly facilitate the sacred mission of the Church, which is obliged to pray and supplicate for the health of its flock, but will also contribute decisively to allowing the lay members of the Church to keep their composure,” Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens writes in his letter to Minister Niki Kerameus. The Greek primate also asked that services be allowed to continue in monasteries, where people live communally anyway, and that funerals be allowed even in churches outside of cemeteries, as not all cemeteries have their own church. In a related letter, the Holy Synod also requested that individual prayer and visitation of family member’s graves be included in the list of acceptable reasons to break the imposed curfew. Meanwhile, four lawyers have filed a cancelation and suspension application to the Council of State, seeking the annulment of the decree that, as they believe, unconstitutionally and illegally banned services in the churches and other places of worship, reports Romfea. The group argues that the temporary ban is in direct conflict with Articles 3, 13, and

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Metropolitan John Zizioulas: “The Church without the Eucharist Is No Longer the Church”

We wish to hear your views on the current situation, since your theology plays a great role in the present circumstances. Metropolitan John: My theology, unfortunately, cannot be applied. In Greece they have already closed the churches, and the Divine Liturgy is not being served. Is it served in Serbia? Taking into consideration the decision of the government that the number of people in one place be limited, as well as the issue of getting around and social distancing, the Patriarch Irinej’s newest decision is that services be held in churches but without more than five people. Metropolitan John: That’s acceptable. In America it was decided that the priest, chanter and altar server be present, in order for the Liturgy to be served, so that they might have the holy mysteries in order to commune the people. What do you think about that? Metropolitan John: For me, the Church without the holy Eucharist is no longer the Church. On the other hand, the danger of transmitting this virus to others imposes on us the need of doing whatever is necessary, even if that means closing the Church. The Greek government has taken drastic measures due to the very serious matter at play. Many have posed the question: What does John Zizioulas say? Since everyone knows that you had once said that in Orthodoxy a “private” Liturgy doesn’t exist. The liturgy under the current conditions will be served for the life of the world. One priest will serve in order to allow the people to take communion. Let us not forget, the Liturgy is served “for those who are absent with good reason.” Those, who cannot come, are now everyone. I think it is an acceptable decision that a priest serves the liturgy in the church with two or three people. How he will

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Assembly of Bishops USA Announces COVID-19 Resource Center for Orthodox Christians

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA announces an online resource center for clergy and faithful during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Resource Center includes updated news from the various jurisdictions as well as practical guidelines and resources for families, ministry leaders, parish leadership, and everyone. The Center will be updated regularly with new materials and expanded selections.

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Communique of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church

“On the third week of Great Lent (Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross) the Divine Liturgy was served in all churches of the Serbian Orthodox Church, in compliance with all instructions being required for protection from the COVID-19 virus (no more than five people inside the church, the faithful standing in front and on the side of the church to practice social distancing, etc.). However, uninvited guests from well-known anti-church and anti-Serbian circles appeared, and as a result their media and the media partial to them began an orchestrated and slanderous chase against the Serbian Orthodox Church.   Those concerned citizens (unfortunately, we cannot say concerned gentlemen) accuse us, namely, that we are communing the faithful from the same Chalice, in the traditional manner practiced for already two thousand years. They declare it a violation of the binding instructions of the state authorities, which is a pure lie, since the state does not deal with, nor can it deal with the content and manner of conducting the Divine Liturgy and other church services. That is the sole matter of internal or autonomous church order and legislation, which the state accepts as valid, legitimate and legal in the sphere of public law. After all, no one is being forced to take Communion but receives it voluntarily. The expectation of those who neither come to church nor partake of Holy Communion, is both unreasonable and utterly malicious that the Church itself would deny to its believers that which they deem most important and sacred – Holy Communion. Once again we appeal to all the faithful to consistently and responsibly apply all the measures prescribed during this difficult period, especially that they enter the holy churches for prayer and blessing individually or in groups of up to five, during services in larger churches the

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Word of Consolation for the Pandemic, Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou

Many people are in confusion and others panic because of the threat of the Coronavirus epidemic that spread in the whole world. I think, however, that this should not happen, for whatever God does with us, He does it out of love. The God of Christians is a good God, a God of mercy and lovingkindness, ‘Who loveth mankind’. God created us out of His goodness in order to share His life and even His glory with us. When we fell into sin, He allowed death to enter our life again out of goodness, so that we may not become immortal in our wickedness, but to seek for a way of salvation. Although we have fallen, God has never stopped to provide for us, not only material goods in order to sustain our race, but He also sent prophets and righteous, preparing His way so that He might come and solve our tragedy, and bring eternal salvation through the Cross and Resurrection of His inconceivable love. He came and took upon Himself the curse of sin, and He showed His love to the end: ‘Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end’ (John 13:1). All the things that God did when He created us, when He provided goods in order to sustain the world, when He prepared His way for Him to come on earth, when He came Himself in person and wrought our salvation in such an awesome way, all these things He did out of goodness. His goodness is boundless. He saves us and is so longsuffering towards us, waiting until we ‘come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim. 2:4) and bring true repentance, so that we may be with Him for all eternity. Thus, at every stage of

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Earthquake damaged the Zagreb Orthodox Cathedral Church

In the powerful earthquake that struck Zagreb on March 22, 202, the capital city of Croatia, the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord at the Cvetni trg (Flower Square) was also damaged. As deacon Dragan Radic, author of photographs of the destroyed church and buildings in the surrounding streets told the Serbian Orthodox Church Information Service, there are no injuries among priests of the Serbian Orthodox Church and their family members. His Eminence Porfirije, Serbian Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana, issued the following statement: “None temptation comes alone.  At this moment, when the whole world is trying to cope with the corona virus, Zagreb has experienced an earthquake this morning. As far as I know, there are no victims  among our faithful, but there is certainly huge damage to the buildings owned by our Metropolitanate”, said His Eminence Porfirije. “First of all, great damage has been done at our Orthodox Cathedral at the Cvetni trg (Flower Square). It is pretty huge and I’m afraid it will be even bigger when we get an insight into the static situation at the Cathedral. However, the Cathedral belongs to the first category of protection of cultural monuments of Croatia. It is, like the Catholic Cathedral in Zagreb, the work of the Austrian architect Hermann Bohle, while the icon painting were rendered by the famous Russian icon painter Aleksander Muhin, who  has been in charge of the interior decoration works of the Saint Sava Church in Belgrade”, His Eminence pointed out and added: “On this occasion, I address all our faithful, and in general, people who have any need due to the corona virus or due to the consequence of this earthquake, to contact us, to apply to our priests, and we will do our utmost to help them. We believe that God

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More than 10,000 Montenegrin Faithful Gather to Prayerfully Protect Their Churches

The Orthodox faithful of Montenegro continue to raise their voices against the scandalous new law that gives the state the authority to seize Church properties, coming out in prayerful defense of their holy churches and monasteries. Yesterday, January 12, more than 10,000 faithful took part in a prayerful procession in the capital city of Podgorica to this end, reports the official Facebook page of the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ of the Montenegrin Metropolis of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The procession and litiya were led by His Grace Bishop Metodije of Diokleia, the vicar of the Montenegro Metropolis. The bishop was attacked and hospitalized at a previous protest just after the law was passed by the Parliament late last month. Bp. Metodije addressed all those gathered, calling “all our brothers to a feast of love and the path of freedom.” He also wished all those present to “awaken and be as children, like the Divine Child, and to fill our souls, our lives, our hearts with the living God,” and called upon the faithful to “not to leave the nests and hearths of faith of the living and of our holy ancestors.” According to the Serbian hierarch, “anyone who has an eye to see all these eagles gathered around Christ—the Divine Child, and he who has an ear to hear the song of freedom will know, as the wise men, where the holy Infant was born, where they sang the song of freedom, where the cave is located, where is the greatest glory of this world and of the next.” After the service, many thousands of faithful took part in a procession from the Cathedral of the Resurrection to the Church of St. George and back. Prayer services and processions have been held throughout Montenegro since the law was

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Patriarche John X, Calling to form a rescue government that would to pull the country and the people out of the crisis

His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East of the Greek Orthodox Church, called to hurry in forming a Lebanese government. His Beatitude’s words came as part of the Sunday homily during the Divine Liturgy that was held in the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand.

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Press release from the Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro

Following the promulgation of the law robbing the churches and ecclesiastical goods of the Orthodox Church in Montenegro, the members of the Episcopal Council of the latter published the following press release Podgorica, December 29, 2019 The Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro which, by decision of the Holy Assembly of Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church in May 2006, is made up of the bishops of the Metropolitan Diocese of Montenegro and the Coast, of the Diocese of Budimlje -Nikšić, of the diocese of Mileševo and of the bishopric of Zahumlje-Herzegovina and of the Littoral, met in Podgorica on December 28 and 29 of the year of the Lord 2019. The diocesan bishop of Methodius, Vicar of the Metropolitan of Montenegro-Coastal, who was detained at the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade on December 26 due to the use of physical force over him by the Police at the Tara Đurđević Bridge on December 26, did not participate in the gathering. His fellow bishops wish him a speedy recovery and return. At the end of prayers of intercession to the Most Holy Mother of God – celebrated during times of misfortunes and trials – and which took place on Saturday December 28 in the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Podgorica, the Episcopal Council held a session during which the hierarchs discussed the newly created situation, in which the holy Orthodox Church of God found itself after the adoption by the Parliament of Montenegro of the openly anti-ecclesial, discriminatory and unconstitutional law, on “religious or confessional freedom and the legal situation of religious denominations”. The bishops agreed that the promulgation of such a law without prior dialogue, with numerous procedural violations and incompatibilities with international standards, is undoubtedly directed against the Orthodox Church, specifically against the

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An initiative of the Patriarch of Jerusalem for a meeting of primates of the local Orthodox Churches

We have just received a press release (read below) from the office of the Patriarchate of Antioch which informs us of the initiative of the Patriarch of Jerusalem to find a solution to the crisis caused by the recognition of the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Recall that there is a dispute between the two patriarchates (Jerusalem and Antioch) over the jurisdiction over Qatar which was the reason for the Patriarchate of Antioch’s refusal to participate in the Council of Crete in 2016.. “His Beatitude Patriarch John X received His Eminence Christopher, metropolitan of Amman, delegated by His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilus III, on December 28, 2019, to the Patriarchate of Damascus. His Eminence Theophilus delivered a message concerning a meeting in Amman of the primates of the Orthodox Churches with the aim of “preserving the Orthodox unity” shattered by the Ukrainian crisis. In this regard, Patriarch John X reaffirmed the firm position of the Antiochian Church, announced by the Holy Synod of Antioch, which insists on the need for a “synaxis” meeting of the primates of the local Orthodox Churches, so that all Orthodox Churches collaborate to resolve Orthodox problems. ”

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Patriarch Bartholomew confirms the creation of the Vicariate of Russian tradition in France

In a message to the priests, monks, and nuns of the Vicariate of the Russian tradition, Saint Mary of Paris and Saint Alexis the Just, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople gave his blessing for the creation of a Vicariate within the Metropolis of France of the Ecumenical Patriarchate This message follows the visit of a delegation who visited Istanbul from December 16 to 18. You can read a report of this visit, as well as other information on the life of the Vicariate in Letter n ° 2 which you can download here. Sources : 1 and 2

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Two archpriests of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe are appointed to the commissions of the Inter-conciliar Conference of the Moscow Patriarchate

During its session of December 26, 2019, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to complete the composition of the Inter-Council Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church and to include in particular: 1) the archpriest Jean Gueit, vice-president of the Diocesan Council of the Archdiocese of the Orthodox Churches of Russian tradition in Western Europe, in the liturgical and ecclesial art commission, 2) the archpriest Nicolas Cernokrak, dean of the Institut Saint-Serge in Paris, in the theology and theological education commission.

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“Faith & Utterances 2 – One Ark” by Archpriest Alexander A. Winogradsky Frenkel (Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

Could we speak of unique memory and mesmerizing consciousness that has been passed down through the generations from ancient times, from the time when there was a longing for unity?   Such a unity today seems unreal in the world of our generation but remains an idea stored inside of ourselves since its initial creation. We should be obsessed with reaching, returning to unity, unification, reunion, and reunification in utopian processes, even while reality shows breaches, splits, rejections of souls and dangerous absence of tolerance between nations, citizens, all peoples. The Jewish calendar in September entered the year 5780, switching the Hebrew decade from the seventies to the eighties. Jewish tradition will reach out to the Nations during the 58th century of their calendar that is based on the Sumerian calculation of ages and times. In the Hebrew tradition of Gematria–interpretation of the alphabet–the letter “ayin/עין”  symbolizes “Seventy – ע”. It is linked to the concept of the seventy nations that existed by the time of the Tower of Babel. The Jewish calendar just finished a decade of the seventies. Now we are in the new decade of the “Eighties – פ”. The number eighty in Gematria is called the letter “peh”. It is written ” פ ” in Hebrew and ” ܦ ” in Aramaic (Serto chart). In Hebrew, it is connected to the two-consonant radical “Peh/פה = Mouth”. In Hebrew, “peh” refers to an aperture, an orifice, a hole that is here and/or there, location, compact and precise. It is of course also “mouth,” as the word is most commonly used today, but also because the word opens the possibility of speech (Hullin 142a). The mouth suggests physical and technical capacities to speak and utter sounds. As said: “On can speak in one way through the mouth and in

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P. Nicolas Xenos nommé vicaire épiscopal général de la Métropole grecque orthodoxe de France

L’archiprêtre du trône oecuménique p. Nicolas Xenos est nommé par son éminence le métropolite Emmanuel, vicaire épiscopal générale de la Métropole grecque orthodoxe de France. Le père Nicolas, originaire de Zakynthos, est membre du clergé de la métropole grecque depuis 1990. Depuis 2007, il se rend à l’église de la Présentation du Seigneur dans le quartier de Sartrouville. Source

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His Holiness Patriarch Kirill: restoration of unity is a testimony not to human wisdom, but to the power of God

On 3rd November 2019, an official reception on the occasion of the reunification of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe with the Russian Orthodox Church took place in the Refectory Chambers of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia shared with all those present his thoughts about the reasons behind the historic reunification of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe with the Mother Church.

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International Orthodox academic theologians appeal to Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church to protect academic thought

This appeal of international Orthodox theologians, 86 scholars from 40 academic institutions and 13 countries, is made following the deeply concerning pronouncements and edicts coming from the beloved Patriarchate of Serbia. We have come together with this appeal as we are concerned about impingements on the freedom of speech and academic thought, independence of universities, and ecclesiastical morality. Support for this appeal is great, and the number of signatories to this appeal would have been far greater had we not limited the period to join to three days.

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“Faith & Utterances” 1 by Archpriest Alexander A. Winogradsky Frenkel (Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

These are the daily dates that I use to share every day on my different sites and blogs as they appear on this Sunday night: יום א’ ראשון וראשי און א שיינעם זונטיק כ”ח דתשרי תש”ף. Приятного Воскресенья 27-ого\14-ого Октября 2019-7528. Blessed Sunday 27\14 of October 2019-7528 – Safar 29, 1441. 6769, 29, (tishrin qadmaya) ܬܫܪܝܢ ܩܕܡܝܐ It shows that we are on the first head day (of the week) [Hebrew], a nice Sunday [Yiddish] 28 of Tishri 5780 / a sweet Sunday or Day of the Resurrection 27/14 of October 2019-7528 [Russian] / on the 29th day of the Month Safar of the Year 1441 of the Hijri, i.e. on the 29th day of the first (month) on Tishrin in the Year 6769 after the Assyrian comput. I daily refer to these traditions. Basically, it allows to appreciate times and delays. It means that we are on the move, live on the same planet, in different locations and that we understand the deployment of measurable periods and spaces according to contrasted cultural patterns. They maintain the primacy of a diversified system, among all the human beings, in view to approach the quality of living in a special generation. Contemporary existence and continuous streaming that advances ahead of future times. A year ago, I had started to publish posts in English on this site. These were conceived as chronicles on the connection between the Eastern Christian Orthodox traditions and the way the Jewish traditions could meet at the present. It was just a sort of a launch, merely a project. Serving as an Orthodox priest in Israeli society and being born a Jew of Hebrew, Yiddish, multi-faceted backgrounds, I have spent long years of reflecting on the present development of new diachronic and synchronic cultural, mental, social, linguistic and spiritual-theological

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Days of hospitality, Autumn 2019

By Archpriest Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel (Patrairchate of Jerusalem)
Are we going to dwell in huts, booths, tents, tabernacles? or sukkot\סוכות? From Tishri 14, 5780/October 13, 2019 till Tishri 23, 5780/October 22, 2019, the Jewish Community celebrates the harvesting feast of the Booths

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Visite Orthodoxie.com for your Easter gifts!

Our online shop includes apparel, phone cases, laptop sleeves, accessories (mugs and stickers) and bags displaying drawings inspired by Orthodox art. Our designs are completely authentic and never seen before. All digital works are protected by copyright. Our server enjoys rock-solid security which means that you can shop here safely.Free shipping to Europe and the United States for orders beyond 100€. With Easter drawing near, purchase gifts for you and your close ones and by doing so, support Orthodoxie.com.

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Urgent encyclical by Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople regarding Covid-19 pandemic

As this Coronavirus crisis continues to spread and intensify on a global scale, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is monitoring the situation with an urgent sense of responsibility towards its faithful and all people without exception, and, following the Communiqué of 11 March 2020, upon deliberation of its Hierarchs in the City, announces the following: 1) The Ecumenical Patriarchate emphatically reiterates its appeal to everyone to limit their outings and travels to what is necessary, remaining in their homes for their own safety and the protection of the general public. 2) It commends the spirit of self-sacrifice demonstrated by those working in the field of healthcare and expresses its gratitude for their extraordinary and exhaustive efforts to assist those in need, as well as for the danger they knowingly risk by coming in contact with those infected by Covid-19. 3) It underlines the need for everyone to follow the decisions and instructions of the responsible health authorities for the sake of the common good. 4) In light of decisions already taken by some eparchies of the Ecumenical Throne, today we universally declare our ecclesiastical resolution and mandate to cease all divine services, events, and rites, with the exception of private prayer in churches that will remain open, until the end of March. This restriction will be later reassessed, in accordance with the development of the pandemic caused by the virus. 5) All Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monasteries will continue to hold regular divine services for their monastic communities, but outside pilgrims and visitors will not be permitted entry. 6) In the same framework, the Patriarchal Offices at the Phanar will remain closed until further notice, while the Ecumenical Patriarch and clergy of the Patriarchal Court will perform the prescribed divine services and pray for the whole world and for its speedy relief from

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Limited Church services without worshippers in Albania’s Orthodox cathedrals, chapels

The Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania, in similar fashion with other Orthodox Churches around the region, announced that cathedrals and chapels around the country will remain open only for personal worship. Daily services have been cancelled, while the Divine Liturgies on Sundays and during the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25 will be celebrated without worshippers at the Holy Trinity chapel in Tirana.The Divine Liturgy will be broadcast over the Albanian Church’s radio station and via the Internet. The celebration of the Divine Liturgy in Albania will also be celebrated at small Orthodox chapels around the country without worshippers. On its part, the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has commenced an online campaign, entitled «Family: the Joy of Life», to support people who remain at home as part of measures to reduce exposure to the coronavirus.

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Notice Regarding Ongoing Provision of Divine Services in Light of Various Government Restrictions on Group Gatherings

In several portions of our Diocesan territory (Western Europe), temporary local government restrictions have been put in place that prevent group gatherings and, by extension, the regular performance of public Divine Services. This is not the case in every location; but where it is so mandated, we have put measures in place to ensure that the Divine Services themselves will by no means cease, even if the public celebration of them may for a time not be possible (thus fully and properly adhering to these laws); and that it is still possible for the faithful to make their confessions and receive Holy Communion via non-public services during this time of difficulty and restriction. Special directives have been given to all the priests of the Diocese, so as to ensure that Divine Services themselves are not terminated, nor are any faithful deprived of the ministrations of the Church, while we at the same time adhere to the reasoned instructions of our local governments. It is essential that you make contact with your parish priest via telephone or e-mail to enquire as to the specific status of Divine Services in your parish at present, and what instructions he has for you regarding receiving the Holy Mysteries. Where public celebrations are not possible for the moment, other arrangements are already in place and your priest will provide you with concrete information relevant to your local circumstance. You will not be left without the sacred Mysteries! In places where government advice does not place restrictions upon Church gatherings, Divine Services will continue as normal. Source

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Two new vicar bishops for the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe

The Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate has just approved the election by the general assembly of the Archdiocese of Orthodox churches of Russian tradition in Western Europe of two new vicar bishops: Archimandrite Simeon (Cossec), with the title bishop of Domodedovo , and the Hegumen Elisha (Germain), with the title bishop of Reoutov , “leaving the place and time of their ordination at the discretion of His Holiness the patriarch of Moscow and all Russia” Source

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Church of Greece Holy Synod cites precautions in face of coronavirus crisis

The Holy Synod of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece convened on Monday, with sessions to continue until Wednesday, amid growing concerns in the country over coronavirus infections, and stepped up public health measures to prevent an outbreak on the scale witnessed in northern Italy. Currently, some 73 cases of coronavirus have been officially reported in the east Mediterranean country, but, thankfully, no related fatalities. The Church of Greece has already called on the faithful to diligently follow health precautions cited by experts while calling on people in the at-risk group to avoid leaving their residences for all but absolutely necessary reasons. The Church has also warned people with Covid-19 symptoms not to assemble in areas with crowds. At the same time, a later announcement by the Holy Synod underlined that partaking in the Holy Communion «… most assuredly cannot serve as a cause of disease transmission». The Holy Synod also said that Church services will continue normally. The three-day Holy Synod sessions also come in the wake of last week’s visit by the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, His Beatitude Ieronymos, to the Evros border region, at a time of high alert by Greek authorities and security forces to guard the frontier with Turkey against the illegal entry of thousands of third-country nationals. Source

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Archbishop Elpidophoros Announces the Creation of a New Vicariate in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

On Monday, March 9, 2020, following approval of the Mother Church of Constantinople last November after the request of the Holy Eparchial Synod, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, announced the creation of the Vicariate for the Orthodox Christian Communities of Slavic Tradition. The new Vicariate will report directly to Archbishop Elpidophoros and at the beginning includes hundreds of faithful belonging to the following three Orthodox communities: Saint Matrona of Moscow Cathedral of Miami, Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker Monastery in North Fort Myers, Florida, and Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist Cathedral of Brooklyn. The clergy of the Vicariate are Very Rev. Archimandrite Alexander Belya, Very Rev. Archpriest Vasiliy Deyak, Rev. Archpriest Oleksandr Belya, Rev. Archpriest Ioann Spasyuk, Rev. Protodeacon Rostislav Zadorozhnyy and Rev. Deacon George A. Hero.  Archbishop Elpidophoros has appointed Very Rev. Archimandrite Alexander Belya as the first Vicar of the Vicariate. Source

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Encyclical for the Sunday of Orthodoxy

Thursday, March 05, 2020 Sunday of Orthodoxy 2020 “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened,and the angels of God ascending and descendingupon the Son of Man” (John 1:51) To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Pious Faithful of our Holy Orthodox Church in the God-protected Land of America: Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Greetings and blessings to all of you on this bright feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy! We hear in the Holy Gospel, Our Lord proclaiming that the heavens are opened through the union of the human and divine, the created and uncreated, in His Person. This central kerygma of our Faith was upheld by the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council and finally restored on this day by the God-crowned Empress Theodora when the veneration of the icons triumphantly returned to the Church. While we process with the icons in our churches, our celebration should not be merely a remembrance of a past event with significance only for those who inherited it as a cultural tradition. We must remember that the valiant martyrs and confessors that struggled in defense of the icons did not do so to defend an esoteric theological formula but to proclaim the Faith that “established the universe.” They recognized that those struggling against the veneration of the icons were confining God in the heavens instead of recognizing the sanctification of creation ushered in by the incarnation of Christ. The Holy Patriarch Tikhon, when he was the Archbishop of San Francisco, mournfully spoke on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in 1903 of “many who were born, raised and glorified by the Lord in the Orthodox faith, yet who deny their faith, pay no attention to the teachings of the Church, do not keep its injunctions, do not listen to their spiritual pastors,

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A Message from the Diocesan Bishop Regarding Church Life and the Coronavirus

A Message from the Diocesan Bishop Regarding Church Life and the Coronavirus

“To the faithful and beloved children of this God-preserved Diocese! As we enter now fully into this lenten period leading to the bright Resurrection of Christ, we find ourselves also in a period where many are stricken with fear at the spread of a new virus (Coronavirus COVID-19), which is affecting people in many parts of the world — including several countries within the borders of our Diocese. Since many are asking how this situation is to be approached, within our Church consciousness, I write to you in this initial week of the Great Fast to share the comfort and solace of the Church. The Church of Christ has endured through many centuries — in the course of which she has been confronted with countless illnesses and diseases, small and great — in solid faith and with peaceful hearts, each member of the Church knowing that he or she is part of no worldly or man-made institution, but the Harbour of Life that is Christ’s Body. We are fed the food not of men but of angels; we are inspired by the truth, not of this world, but of God Himself; and we are ruled, not by worldly fear which grows and begets more fear, but by the peace of Christ which surpasseth all understanding (Philippians 4.7) and brings unfailing comfort, whether in times of peace or peril. In the present moment, therefore, I urge you to be not afraid (Isaiah 43.1) nor let the concerns of the moment shake you from the firm foundation that is unhindered faith in the living God, Who heals the sick and restores the broken-hearted. The present situation may be a cause of great upset in the world around us, but in the Church, and in our Christian lives, we continue unhindered and undeterred in all that God

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Patriarch of Serbia Irinej at the State Department

Since Mr. Brownback was received last year by His Holiness Patriarch at the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade, the meeting began with the memory of the talks that took place at the time. His Holiness, the Patriarch, outlined the views of the Serbian Orthodox Church on various topics related to the Serbian people and the Serbian Orthodox Church. He asked for a little more attention to be given to the Serbian matter. The interlocutors agreed that communication is the most important, but also that it depends on leaders from the top. The meeting was held with the attendance and the participation of His Grace Bishop Jovan of Sumadia, member of the Holy Synod of Bishops; His Grace Bishop Irinej of  East America; protonamesnik Vasilije Vranic,PhD;  dean of the Cathedral Church of Saint Luke in Washington; as well as proto-deacon Damjan Bozic, PhD. Source

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Entretien avec le métropolite Hilarion (Alfeyev) de Volokolamsk, président du département des relations extérieures du Patriarcat de Moscou

Metropolitan Hilarion: Absence of particular Churches from Amman will not make the meeting less significant

n anticipation of the meeting of heads and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches in the capital city of Jordan, Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, told Interfax-Religion portal about what and in what format is to be discussed by this forum.

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Final press release from the Amman meeting

Press Release – 26 February 2020 – Amman, Jordan Issued on behalf of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem Following the initiative for dialogue and reconciliation announced by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III in November 2019, the Amman Fraternal Familial Gathering was hosted today in the capital of Jordan, with attendance of Primates and Delegations from various Orthodox churches. The purpose of the gathering was to renew dialogue and promote unity between brothers within the Orthodox Communion. On the conclusion of the gathering, the Primates and Delegates issued the following statement: On February 26, 2020, a meeting of Primates and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches was held in Amman, Jordan, with the primary view of unity and reconciliation within Holy Orthodoxy. The participants noted their understanding of the anguish of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem for the imminent danger of schism within our Orthodox Communion. Participating in the meeting were delegations of: the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem led by His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, the Russian Orthodox Church led by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Serbian Orthodox Church led by His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, the Romanian Orthodox Church led by His Eminence Metropolitan Nifon of Targoviste, the Polish Orthodox Church led by His Eminence Archbishop Abel of Lublin and Chełm, and the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia led by His Beatitude Metropolitan Rastislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. The participants expressed their gratitude to His Majesty King Abdullah II, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Hashemite Custodian of the Christian and Muslim Holy Places in the Holy Land and to the people of Jordan for facilitating the hosting of this gathering in their capital city, Amman, noting His Majesty’s outstanding work in promoting interfaith

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Metropolitan Hilarion: We hope that the meeting in Amman will make the beginning of other similar meetings that our Orthodox family needs so much now

Heads and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches are to meet next week in Amman on the initiative of Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem. In an exclusive interview to RIA Novosti, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, tells who will discuss what and when and what will be the aims of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church to be led by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

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Meeting of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch

A Statement by the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East

Balamand, February 22, 2020 Following the generous invitation of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem to His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, to participate in a consultative meeting of Church leaders in Amman, Jordan, on the twenty-fifth of this month, the Antiochian Church declares that She will not participate in this meeting. The Church of Antioch acknowledges the concern of the Orthodox Churches’ Primates and their initiatives to what could contribute to finding solutions for the grave crisis that the Orthodox Church is witnessing today. However, She has decided not to participate in this meeting, based on the information that has been provided, and for Her care to avoid whatever increases divergence and deepens the rift between brothers. Her position does not mean that She is not eager to expedite necessary solutions for the reasons that led to the severance of communion between the Church of Antioch and the Church of Jerusalem, even after the Church of Antioch has showed readiness for everything that facilitates these solutions. On this occasion, the Church of Antioch reiterates Her firm position that the “unanimous consensus” between the Churches, based on the Holy Scripture and the Holy Tradition, is the essential rule in the Orthodox Church, with regards to general decisions on the universal Orthodox level, as well as in resolving outstanding issues. She also affirms Her endeavor, through the continuous communication with the Churches, to what yields an atmosphere of love and to a return to the mutual consultation and unanimity between the brothers, in order for Her to be faithful to the mission of joy, peace, and unity that the Lord wants from His Church. The Church of Antioch calls upon all of Her children to join together in prayer and work for peace in the Church and the whole

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Communiqué from the office of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church regarding the invitation of the Patriarch of Jerusalem to the meeting in Amman, Jordan

“In connection with the letters received from His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, in which he sent an invitation to participate in the fraternal gathering of the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches and their delegations in Amman, Jordan, the Holy Synod of the BOC-BP informs that it will refrain from participating in the aforementioned meeting, and, accordingly, will not send its representatives to Amman, the capital of Jordan. The Holy Synod expresses its personal fraternal love for His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and its deep reverence for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the thousands-of-years-old guardian of the lifegiving Tomb of the Lord.” Source

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Metropolitan Emmanuel of France in Saudi Arabia

Metropolitan Emmanuel of France traveled to Riyadh, at the invitation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in order to chair the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), following his recent election as president. The Secretary General of KAICIID and the Advisor to the Court of His Royal Highness, Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar, welcomed the Metropolitan of France to Riyadh.

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Louvre Bulgarian Art Exhibit, Canceled

The decision came after an escalation of misunderstandings involving the Louvre Museum and The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Synod became aware of the Exhibit “Art and Cultures in Bulgaria Between the 16th and 18th Centuries,” when Bulgarian Culture Minister, Boil Banov sought a blessing for the project. The exhibit included, crosses, icons, censers, Gospels, Royal Doors, etc.., A total of 16 objects from Bachkovo Monastery, the National Church Historical and Archaeological Museum, and the Church Historical and Archival Institute under the Bulgarian Patriarchate, according to epicenter.bg, which spoke with the Minister. His Grace Bishop Gerasim Melnick, the Secretary, announced: “This is a principled position that items must not be taken out of the church repositories and taken abroad unless it is for pilgrimages.” he shares with Radio Bulgaria. Instead of Pilgrimage, what The Louvre had in mind was a time travel to a misinterpreted past. The famous Museum wanted to display the items in its Islamist Art department, aiming to establish a link between Christian and Islamic Art in Bulgaria at the time when the Orthodox nation of Bulgaria was part of the Muslim Ottoman Empire. As soon as this intention became clear, Emmanuil Mutafov, Director of the Institute for the Study of Arts at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, wrote in a statement. “The ‘interaction’ between Islamic and Christian art, almost nonexistent during this period, are marginal and on a purely decorative level,” published in artstudies.bg Meanwhile, the Director of the Church Historical and Archival Institute, Christo Tomalski, reinforced Mutafov’s claim and found several similar issues with the exhibition, reports orthochristian.com. As a result, the Bulgarian Culture Minister canceled the event.  Orthodox Christianity

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Czech-slovak Church Canonizes New Martyrs

On October 10, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia resolved to canonize a number of 20th-century New Martyrs. The new saints were companions of the highly-venerated Hieromartyr St. Gorazd (Pavlik): Frs. Vladimír Petřek and Václav Čikl, as well as Ján Sonnevend, Václav Ornest, and Karel Louda and their families, who gave their lives for the glory of Christ and holy Orthodoxy during the Heydrichiáda period of severe repression by the Nazi occupiers of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during WWII, reports the site of the Church of Slovakia. St. Gorazd was canonized by the Serbian Church in 1961 and by the Czech-Slovak Church in 1987. The canonization of the New Martyrs will be solemnly celebrated on Saturday, February 8 at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral in Prague. Troparion, tone 4 (unofficial translation): Today we all praise Christ the God-Man, Who is glorified in His witnesses, the priests Václav and Vladimir, together with the faithful members of God’s people, the martyr Ján, and a host of men and women who did not fear the tyranny of the godless, but full of the hope of immortality, gave their souls into the hands of the Lord of life with faith. By their intercessions, O merciful God, our Father, confirm the Orthodox faith in our land, and grant us all the courage to testify to Thy Kingdom with our lives! Kontakion, tone 4 (unofficial translation): In the grievous times of evil and darkness, thou didst bear witness to Christ, the Giver of light and life, together with the holy archpastor Bishop Gorazd, O holy New Martyrs of Christ, the pride and embellishment of the Czech people!

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Chinese Representation Church in Moscow Serves Moleben for Deliverance from Coronavirus

A moleben prayer service for deliverance from the coronavirus epidemic was recently held at the Church of St. Nicholas in Moscow, which serves as the Patriarchal representation of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church. “Archpriest Igor Zuev, the rector of the dependency served a moleben for deliverance from the coronavirus pneumonia epidemic that has engulfed Russia’s ally, China,” Orthodox activist Kirill Frolov told Interfax on Tuesday. More than 60 Chinese people living in Moscow, both baptized and catechumens, prayed at the moleben, including diplomats, entrepreneurs, and students. The outbreak of pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan began in mid-December 2019, originating from the previously unknown coronavirus. According to the latest data, more than 4,500 people have been infected with it in China, and more than 100 people have died. In addition, cases have been reported in countries such as Thailand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, the United States, Malaysia, Germany, and France. The Church of St. Nicholas has served as the Chinese representation church since 2011. Its many activities include a weekly Liturgy celebrated in the Chinese language, weekly classes on the basics of the Orthodox faith in the Chinese language, summer trips to restore destroyed churches, language training and missionary practice abroad, the translation of documentaries on Christianity, the translation and publication of Orthodox literature, and much more. Source

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Trailer for New St. Joseph the Hesychast Documentary with Jonathan Jackson Published Online (+videos)

A documentary on one of the greatest saints of the 20th century will soon be released. In the meantime, a trailer for the film, “Elder Joseph the Hesychast,” has been published online on the “sceptic production” YouTube page. St. Joseph is one of the newest saints of the Orthodox Church. Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople announced his canonization during a visit to Mt. Athos in October. As His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol of the Cypriot Orthodox Church says of St. Joseph in the trailer: “The quietude of Elder Joseph was such that he wanted nothing and nobody else, nothing human in his heart except Christ.” The film features 5-time Emmy award winning actor and convert to Orthodoxy Jonathan Jackson in the role of St. Joseph. View the trailer below:

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Antiochian Patriarchate responds to reports about kidnapped Bishops

The Antiochian Orthodox Church has issued an official statement on the recent reports concerning the fate of the two missing Syrian bishops, Boulos Yazigi, Antiochian Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and Alexandretta and brother of Orthodox Patriarch John X, and Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, who were kidnapped by Muslim rebels in the vicinity of Aleppo on April 22, 2013. A new investigation led by Mansur Salib, a Syrian researcher in the United States, concluded that the two hierarchs were killed in December 2016. Although, as reported, via Agenzia Fides, the report’s claims sometimes “blurred clues” or “aggregate[ed] information without objective evidence.” The new statement from the Antiochian Patriarchate notes that they receive various reports about the bishops’ fates on a daily basis, but they can neither confirm nor deny them. The Church calls on all to continue praying for the missing hierarchs. The statement, posted on the Patriarchate’s Facebook page, reads in full: A Statement Regarding Recent Reports on the Two Missing Archbishops of Aleppo Over the past couple of months, many worrying reports and claims regarding the case and fate of the two Archbishops Boulos Yaziji and Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim who were kidnapped on April 22, 2013 in the western countryside of Aleppo – Syria, went viral in media outlets. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, have been closely monitoring these reports that are totally independent from our relentless efforts and endeavors in the search for our two missing Archbishops and we are determined to leave no stone unturned until we identify their whereabouts and their fate. In that respect, we neither confirm nor deny the validity of these reports, or the different other claims we have been receiving from various sources

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Feast of Three Holy Hierarchs no longer a School Holiday in Greece

The Three Holy Hierarchs—Sts. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom—are the patron saints of schools and education for the Orthodox faithful, and their feast, January 30 on the new calendar, was traditionally celebrated as a school holiday in Greece. However, the Greek Education of Ministry has announced that classes will be held as normal on their feast this year, reports the National Herald. Orthodox hierarchs have different views of the Ministry’s move. Metropolitan Amphilochios of Kisamos and Selinos of the Patriarchate of Constantinople criticized the government’s decision, reports Romfea. “What kind of Greece, what kind of homeland do we want? It’s difficult to answer. Self-evident things are increasingly being overthrown and placed under doubt,” the Metropolitan writes. According to him, the Greek government is creating a country where LGBT pride, gender ideology, the ability to change the gender of teenagers, the right to blasphemy, the ability to remove religious symbols from public institutions and cremate the dead as garbage are legalized. “That is, a country where everything is destroyed, sold out and leveled in the name of supposed ‘modernization’ and ‘progress,’” Met. Amphilochios says. “If this is ‘the modernization of society,’” he concludes, “then the goal of this ‘modernization’ is to stop being Greek.” On the other hand, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens applauds the government’s decision, saying, “They did what needed to be done.” “The holiday is for the lazy,” he added. Instead of a day off of school, children will attend church, classes, and special events in honor of the Three Holy Hierarchs, he noted. Source

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Metropolitan Tikhon (OCA) Sends Letter of Support to Patriarch Irinej

In a letter dated January 7, 2020, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon addressed a letter to His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia concerning the situation of the Orthodox Church of the Serbian Patriarchate in Montenegro. The text of the letter reads as follows;

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