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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
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
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,
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
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
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.
The Giorgi Abramishvili Military Hospital of the Ministry of Defense of Georgia in the city of Gori was declared a quarantine zone on March 2 as part of measures to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus in the Caucasus country. Now the hospital carries the particular blessing of God, as His Eminence Metropolitan Andrew of Gori and Ateni recently blessed the yard of the hospital together with clergy from the diocese, reports 1tv.ge. According to the Defense Ministry, the blessing was also attended by David Barliani, the Director of the Military Hospital. According to current data, there are 59 people in the quarantine area of the Gori Military Hospital, of which 32 are military personnel. All are in satisfactory condition. The Giorgi Abramishvili Military Hospital is a 176-bed facility that serves both military personnel and civilians. It also functions as a teaching hospital for the Tbilisi State Medical University. It is named after Dr. Giorgi Abramishvili, who was killed on August 13, 2008, by a Russian-fired rocket during the Russo-Georgian War, after spending the previous four days operating on people injured in the hostilities. Source
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
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.
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
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. ”
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
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.
The ROC expressed deep sorrow due to the anti-canonical actions of Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and confirmed the non-commemoration of his name in the Diptych.
The Church-Manger: The Visitation of God and the Visitation of Man
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
On 17th October 2019, during a session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, a statement was adopted concerning the situation that arose in the Greek Orthodox Church after it convened on 12th October 2019 the extraordinary Council of Hierarchs on the Ukrainian church issue (Minutes No. 125).