Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Hailed for Peacemaker Spirit
ZALAU, Romania, JULY 7, 2010 (Zenit.org) – Greek Catholics celebrated on July 4 their first Mass in 62 years in the parish church of Bocsa, with what was described as a “festive and moving” atmosphere.
The Bosca parish is unique because, thanks to an agreement between Orthodox and Greek-Catholics, it will be shared between the two Churches.
The parish has been hailed as an example of conflict resolution between the two Churches, often at odds over patrimonial issues in former Soviet countries.
The Bocsa parish was confiscated by the Communist authorities in 1948 and given to the Orthodox Church, after the forced abolition of the Greek-Catholic Church. Catholics went underground until legalization was regained. Pope John Paul II re-established their hierarchy in 1990.
Since then, the Greek-Catholic community has worked legally for the devolution of confiscated churches (some 2,600 properties), whereas the Orthodox requested that the new balance of faithful be kept in mind, given that the Greek-Catholics have decreased significantly in numbers over the last decades.
In the specific case of Bocsa, the Greek-Catholic community asked the Orthodox to return the parish, or to seek an alternative over the use of the church.
The case was taken to court, while the Greek-Catholics continued to propose an agreement. At the beginning of 2010 the court decided in favor of the Greek-Catholics, though they continued to offer an agreement to the Orthodox.
The court proceeded last July 1 with the execution of the sentence, returning the church to the Catholics. A few hours later, the Orthodox accepted the proposal of an agreement, which was subsequently signed before the judicial authorities of Salaj.
Now both communities have committed themselves to share the use of the church with different timetables.
The first Greek-Catholic Mass was celebrated at 9 a.m. last Sunday. It was presided over by Father Valer Parau, dean of the Greek-Catholic Church of Zalau.
Father Valer insisted on forgiveness “to be able to heal wounds,” the Romanian Catholic agency Catholica.ro reported.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” he recalled. “We believe that with this realistic, pragmatic relationship in accord with the spirit of the Lord’s Gospel, other cases can be resolved in which Greek Catholics are obliged by the circumstances to pray in inadequate places. There is space for one another in the same church.”

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We continue with the second part of Michaël de Verteuil’s report on the recent “Orthodox Constructions of the West” conference at Fordham University (June 28-30).  Part one may be found here.
Update – Dr Peter Gilbert, of De unione ecclesiarum, has posted the first part of his reflections on the Conference.


Dr. Kolbaba is a secular historian for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect. I relied in large part and on whose work on the background to the 1054 dispute in drafting my article on Patriarch Michael Cerularius.

In her lead presentation at the conference, “The Tenth Century: Orthodox Constructions of the West in the Golden Age of Byzantium”, she set out to explain not so much why the schism occurred, but why it occurred when it did in the latter half of the 11th century. Specifically, she sought to answer this question in such a way as to avoid a deterministic view of history which treats critical events in retrospect as if they were somehow inevitable. What made the timing of the schism so difficult to explain, in her view, was that it followed on a long period of generally good relations between East and West. The 9th century dust-up between Rome on one hand, and Constantinople in the person of Photius on the other was widely seen in retrospect in the 10th century as an aberration.

Nevertheless, Dr. Kolbaba noted that this earlier dispute had not occurred in a vacuum.

All the factors that were later offered up to justify the schism (the papal claims, the filioque, as well as liturgical and disciplinary differences) were of long standing and were known in the 10th century, though they were not yet seen at the time as obstacles to communion. Both East and West had gone through a period of missionary expansion early in the 10th century with their evangelization efforts overlapping notably in Moravia and Bulgaria. Differences in ritual practice had been noted in these shared missionary areas, but without the “other side” necessarily being seen as “wrong” as a result. Differing liturgical practices had also been a minor factor in the political and ecclesial rivalry between the Lombard duchies and the Byzantine empire in Southern Italy, though not one that had attracted much notice in Constantinople prior to the 11th century.

In essence, Rome was still viewed positively in the 10th century for its earlier role in resisting iconoclasm, and the West was correspondingly not then perceived as a source of heresy. Despite the 9th century controversy over the filioque, Dr. Kolbaba noted that a comprehensive review of extant documents has yielded not a single Greek treatise against the interpolation that can be traced unambiguously to the 10th century, a lacuna all the more remarkable as one would in later times be expected (she observed half jokingly) to write at least two before being taken seriously as an Orthodox theologian.  Furthermore, works condemning typically Western liturgical practices which would characterize Orthodox polemics in later centuries had yet to be written. So what changed in the 11th century?

Some early developments in the West were to have a latent impact on relations and on the way in which it would be perceived in the East. Dr. Kolbaba noted, for example, to the differing way in which Rome and the Frankish court were to receive the decisions of the 7th ecumenical council (albeit the Frankish reaction being based on a seriously flawed translation of the canons). The Gregorian reforms in the 11th century were to  usher in a harder Western line on clerical celibacy and independence from secular authorities, as well as on the Papal claims; but Dr. Kolbaba argued that it was the East rather than the West that was ultimately to pick fault with the other, and that it was in the East that we should look for the key developments that would leading to a change in attitude that in turn would make the schism possible. Specifically and perhaps surprisingly she pointed to the substantial improvement in the Byzantine military situation along the empire’s eastern and southeastern frontier in the late 10th and early 11th centuries as the key underlying game changer.

Territorial contraction in earlier centuries and the struggle against iconoclasm had resulted in a more homogenous Greek-speaking and liturgically Byzantine empire. These features were to become, for courtly and religious elites based in Constantinople, the empire’s defining attributes any weakening of which could be seen as posing an existential threat to its survival. The later reestablishment of Byzantine control in Armenia and northern Syria, however, was to significantly alter the political and cultural balance of power in the empire in ways that would prove threatening to these self-described “Guardians of Orthodoxy.”

The reversal of the empire’s fortunes was to occur under a successful string of emperors from military families with allegedly non-Greek antecedents. Non-Greek populations, most notably Armenians, were resettled in the reconquered areas, forming a client and martial recruitment base for these new military elites. In order to facilitate the incorporation of populations that had largely broken with the official Church over Chalcedon, emperors such as Basil II tended to adopt a policy of de facto religious toleration that was bitterly contested by the more “purist” traditional elites in the capital. For the Guardians of Orthodoxy, the policy of tolerance pursued by emperors themselves of allegedly Armenian descent became increasingly reminiscent of the heretical proclivities of the earlier non-Greek (“Isaurian”) iconoclast emperors. This led to fears that the new military elites now based in the reconquered east were poised to link up politically with the new non-Greek “other” increasingly associated with heresy, in a way that threatened the empire’s unity, purity and thus divine protection.

The ire of these traditional elites in Constantinople came to be focused on the main distinguishing features of the Armenian liturgy, namely the use of azymes (unleavened bread) in the eucharist portrayed as a deliberate downplaying of the Resurrection and thus of Christ’s humanity, i.e. of monophysite heresy made liturgically manifest. Dr. Kolbaba concluded that it is in the context of the resulting anti-Armenian polemics (in which difference in liturgical practice was linked conceptually with religious dissent, and in which non-Greekness came to be increasingly identified with heterodoxy) that previously low-level tensions over rite and jurisdiction in Southern Italy came to be seen in Constantinople in a new light, and in which the orthodoxy of the non-Greek, “azymite” West first came to be questioned.

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WASHINGTON (USCCB) — The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation continued work on a new agreed statement during its meeting at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, June 1-3. The meeting was co-chaired by Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh and Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans.
The title of the draft statement is “Steps Towards a United Church: A Sketch of an Orthodox-Catholic Vision for the Future.” The document briefly outlines the history of divergences between Catholics and Orthodox, especially with regard to the role of the Bishop of Rome in the Church. It also outlines all that the two churches share and notes that overcoming differences has become a matter of urgency. The text also reflects on what a reunited Catholic and Orthodox Church might would look like, the ecclesial structures needed to facilitate such unity, and the questions that remain to be answered if such a reconciliation is to take place. Work on this text will continue at the next meeting.
Members also continued their study of primacies and conciliarity in the Church with emphasis on the theological significance of the Orthodox autocephalous churches. Dr. Robert Haddad, Sophia Smith Professor Emeritus of History at Smith College in Northampton, MA, presented a study entitled, “Constantinople Over Antioch, 1516-1724: Patriarchal Politics in the Ottoman Era.” Father John Erickson, former Dean and professor of canon law and church history at Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY, presented a paper, “The Autocephalous Church.” A Catholic reaction to these two studies was provided by Father Joseph Komonchak, professor emeritus of religious studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
Participants also considered recent events in the lives of the two churches with particular emphasis on the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America that had taken place in New York, May 26-27. Given that the new Assembly of Bishops will replace the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), it is anticipated that the new Assembly will become the official Orthodox sponsor of the North American Consultation.
In addition to the co-chairs, the Consultation includes Orthodox representatives Father Thomas FitzGerald (Secretary), Dean, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA; Father Nicholas Apostola, Pastor, St. Nicholas Romanian Orthodox Church in Shrewsbury, MA; Father John Erickson, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Ph.D., Willard Prescott and Annie McClelland Smith Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, Brown University,  Providence, Rhode Island; Father James Dutko, pastor of St. Michael’s Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church in Binghamton, NY; Paul Meyendorff, Ph.D., Alexander Schmemann Professor of Liturgical Theology and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, NY; Father Alexander Golitzin, Professor of Theology at Marquette University, Milwaukee; Robert Haddad, Ph.D., Father Robert Stephanopoulos, Pastor Emeritus of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New York;  Father Theodore Pulcini, Associate Professor of Religion at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and Father Mark Arey, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, New York, (staff).
Additional Catholic members are Jesuit Father Brian Daley (Secretary), Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana; Thomas Bird, Ph.D., associate professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Queens College, City University of New York, Flushing, NY; Sylvain Destrempes, Ph.D., faculty of the Grand Seminaire in Montreal; Father Peter Galadza, Kule Family Professor of Liturgy at the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, Ottawa; Chorbishop John D. Faris, Pastor of St. Louis Gonzaga Maronite Church, Utica, New York; Father John Galvin, Professor of Systematic Theology, The Catholic University of America, Washington; Father Sidney Griffith, Professor in the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures,  Catholic University; Father Joseph Komonchak, Monsignor Paul McPartlan, Carl J. Peter Professor of Systematic Theology and Ecumenism at Catholic University; Father David Petras,  Spiritual Director and Professor of Liturgy at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Pittsburgh; Sister of Charity of Leavenworth Susan K. Wood, Professor and Chair of the Department of Theology at Marquette; Vito Nicastro, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of Boston; and Paulist Father Ronald Roberson, Associate Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, staff.
Since its establishment in 1965, the North American Consultation has now issued 23 agreed statements on various topics. All these texts are now available on the USCCB Website at http://www.usccb.org/seia/orthodox_index.shtml and the SCOBA Website at http://www.scoba.us/resources/orthodox-catholic.html
Via Fr Gregory Jensen and our frequent commenter Evagrius.

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A. Edward Siecienski

Oxford University Press (April 2010)
ISBN13: 9780195372045
ISBN10: 0195372042
Hardback, 368 pages


Among the issues that have divided Eastern and Western Christians throughout the centuries, few have had as long and interesting a history as the question of the filioque. Christians everywhere confess their faith in the ancient words of the Nicene Creed. But rather than serve as a source of unity, the Creed has been one of the chief sources of division, as East and West profess their faith in the Trinitarian God using different language. In the Orthodox East, the faithful profess their belief in “the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father.” In the West, however, they say they believe in the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father “and the Son”-in Latin “filioque.” For over a millennium Christendom’s greatest minds have addressed and debated the question (sometimes in rather polemical terms) in the belief that the theological issues at stake were central to an orthodox understanding of the trinitarian God. To most modern people, this may seem like a trivial matter, and indeed most ordinary Christians would be hard pressed to explain the doctrine behind this phrase. In the history of Christianity, however, these words have played an immense role, and the story behind them deserves to be told. For to tell the story of the filioque is to tell of the rise and fall of empires, of crusades launched and repelled, of holy men willing to die for the faith, and of worldly men willing to use it for their own political ends. It is, perhaps, one of the most interesting stories in all of Christendom, filled with characters and events that would make even the best dramatists envious.

The Filioque: History of a Doctrinal Controversy is the first complete English language history of the filioque written in over a century. Beginning with the biblical texts and ending with recent agreements on the place and meaning of the filioque, this book traces the history of the doctrine and the controversy that has surrounded it. From the Greek and Latin fathers, the ninth-century debates, the Councils of Lyons and Ferrara-Florence, to the twentieth- and twenty-first century-theologians and dialogues that have come closer than ever to solving this thorny problem, Edward Siecienski explores the strange and fascinating history behind one of the greatest ecumenical rifts in Christendom.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Procession of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament
Chapter 2: The Greek Fathers
Chapter 3: The Latin West
Chapter 4: Maximus the Confessor
Chapter 5: The Filioque from the Seventh to the Eleventh Century
Chapter 6: The Filioque from the Eleventh Century to the Thirteenth Century
Chapter 7: The Council of Lyons to the Eve of Ferrara-Florence
Chapter 8: The Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438-39)
Chapter 9: From Florence to the Modern Era
Chapter 10: The Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries


“The tragic schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Christianity has for more than a millennium centered on the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity, whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father, or from the Father and the Son (Filioque), and in particular on the Western addition of the phrase Filioque to the creed. It is a long and tangled controversy which is traced in all its twists and turns with admirable clarity by Edward Siecienski in this fine book. Siecienski explores the past and looks to the future. One of his more astonishing revelations is that it is one of the earliest attempts at an irenical approach to the question-by the seventh-century monk and theologian, St Maximus the Confessor-that holds out the best hopes in the present for a final resolution of this controversy.”

–Andrew Louth, Author of Greek East and Latin West: the Church AD 681-1071

“At last we have the history of the Filioque controversy from beginning to end, free of confessional bias, engaging with both the theology and the historical context. An admirable presentation of the blend of Trinitarian theology, ecclesiastical rivalry, and historical events that sustained (and sometimes still sustain) the controversy, Siecienski’s book should be required reading for interested historians, theologians, and ecumenists. I have wanted this book for a long time and am thrilled to have it on my desk at last.”

–Tia Kolbaba, Author of Inventing Latin Heretics: Byzantines and the Filioque in the Ninth Century

“Siecienski excavates the intricacies of the Filioque controversy with magisterial ability in this excellent study. He is equally adept in telling us why the argument arose, and why it still matters. This is a book that is bound to become an authoritative classic on the subject.”

–John A. McGuckin, Author of The Orthodox Church: Its History and Spiritual Culture

About the Author

Assistant Professor of Religion and Pappas Professor of Byzantine Culture and Religion, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

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“Every Christian … Is Set Apart to Bear Prophetic Witness to the Risen Lord”
PAPHOS, Cyprus, JUNE 4, 2010 (Zenit.org). – Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today during an ecumenical celebration at the archeological area of the Church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitiss. [emphasis added]
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
“Grace and peace to you in abundance” (1 Pet 1:2). With great joy I salute you who represent the Christian communities present in Cyprus.
I thank His Beatitude Chrysostomos the Second for his gracious words of welcome, His Eminence Georgios, the Metropolitan of Paphos, our host, and all those who have helped to make this meeting possible. I am also pleased cordially to salute the Christians of other confessions present, including those of the Armenian, Lutheran and Anglican communities.
It is truly an extraordinary grace for us to gather together in prayer in this Church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitissa. We have just heard a reading from the Acts of the Apostles which reminds us that Cyprus was the first stage in the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul (cf. Acts 13:1-4). Set apart by the Holy Spirit, Paul, accompanied by Barnabas, a native of Cyprus, and Mark, the future evangelist, first came to Salamis, where they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues.
Traversing the island, they reached Paphos where, close to this very place, they preached in the presence of the Roman pro-consul Sergius Paulus. Thus it was from this place that the Gospel message began to spread throughout the Empire, and the Church, grounded in the apostolic preaching, was able to take root throughout the then-known world.
The Church in Cyprus can rightly be proud of her direct links to the preaching of Paul, Barnabas and Mark, and her communion in the apostolic faith, a communion which links her to all those Churches who preserve that same rule of faith. This is the communion, real yet imperfect, which already unites us, and which impels us to overcome our divisions and to strive for the restoration of that full visible unity which is the Lord’s will for all his followers. For, in Paul’s words, “there is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:4-5).
The Church’s communion in the apostolic faith is both a gift and a summons to mission. In the passage from Acts which we have heard, we see an image of the Church’s unity in prayer, and her openness to the promptings of the Spirit of mission. Like Paul and Barnabas, every Christian, by baptism, is set apart to bear prophetic witness to the Risen Lord and to his Gospel of reconciliation, mercy and peace. In this context, the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, due to meet in Rome next October, will reflect on the vital role of Christians in the region, encourage them in their witness to the Gospel, and help foster greater dialogue and cooperation between Christians throughout the region. Significantly, the labours of the Synod will be enriched by the presence of fraternal delegates from other Churches and Christian communities in the region, as a sign of our common commitment to the service of God’s word and our openness to the power of his reconciling grace.
The unity of all Christ’s disciples is a gift to be implored from the Father in the hope that it will strengthen the witness to the Gospel in today’s world. The Lord prayed for the holiness and unity of his disciples precisely so that the world might believe (cf. Jn 17:21). Just a hundred years ago, at the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, the acute awareness that divisions between Christians were an obstacle to the spread of the Gospel gave birth to the modern ecumenical movement. Today we can be grateful to the Lord, who through his Spirit has led us, especially in these last decades, to rediscover the rich apostolic heritage shared by East and West, and in patient and sincere dialogue to find ways of drawing closer to one another, overcoming past controversies, and looking to a better future.
The Church in Cyprus, which serves as a bridge between East and West, has contributed much to this process of reconciliation. The path leading to the goal of full communion will certainly not be without its difficulties, yet the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus are committed to advancing in the way of dialogue and fraternal cooperation. May the Holy Spirit enlighten our minds and strengthen our resolve, so that together we can bring the message of salvation to the men and women of our time, who thirst for the truth that brings authentic freedom and salvation (cf. Jn 8:32), the truth whose name is Jesus Christ!
Dear sisters and brothers, I cannot conclude without evoking the memory of the saints who have adorned the Church in Cyprus, and in particular Saint Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis. Sanctity is the sign of the fullness of Christian life, a profound inner docility to the Holy Spirit who calls us to constant conversion and renewal as we strive to be ever more conformed to Christ our Saviour. Conversion and holiness are also the privileged means by which we open our minds and hearts to the Lord’s will for the unity of his Church. As we give thanks for this meeting and for the fraternal affection which unites us, let ask Saints Barnabas and Epiphanius, Saints Peter and Paul, and all God’s holy ones, to bless our communities, to preserve us in the faith of the Apostles, and to guide our steps along the way of unity, charity and peace.

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“It Is Here … That the Christian Roots of Europe Took Seed”

PAPHOS, Cyprus, JUNE 4, 2010 (Zenit.org) – Here is the address delivered today by the Cypriot Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II during an ecumenical celebration at the archeological area of the Church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitiss. [emphasis added]

* * *

Your Holiness, Pope Benedict of old Rome, welcome to the Island of Saints and Martyrs!

Welcome to the first Church of the Nations, founded by the Apostles Barnabas, Paul and Mark!

Welcome to the Church of the Apostles, after the establishment of which the Holy Spirit led the Apostles to separate themselves from their brethren and sent them towards the Nations!

“So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews … they had gone through the island to Paphos” (Acts 13:4-6).

In this very spot, your Holiness, stood the synagogue of the Jews and from this place St Barnabas and St Paul preached the word of God to the Jews.

“But the word of God is not chained” (2 Timothy 2:9). It could not have been possible for the Spirit of Love of the Incarnate, Crucified and Resurrected Lord to remain restricted among the Jews. Jesus Christ came to the world “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:15).

The commandment of the Holy Ghost was for them to preach to the Nations. Thus, when the Roman deputy, Sergius Paulus, “a prudent man” according to St. Luke, invited the Apostles “to hear the word of God” (Acts 13:7) they gladly went forth to the place where the political administration of the island was based in order to preach the word of the Lord for the first time among the Gentiles also.

At this point, “Barnabas and Paul exchanged their roles. Here was a place not for the Cypriot, but the Roman citizen”.

As of that moment Paul became the leader of the mission. He also changed his name. From this moment on he was no longer called Saul in the New Testament, but Paul!

It was in this town that the first miracle of the Apostles was performed, as recorded in the New Testament. It was here that the first European citizen was baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. It was here that the first official citadel of idolatry fell and in its place the glory of the Cross was raised in all its splendor, and would gradually spread to cover the whole of Europe and shape its historical future.

It is here, your Holiness, that the Christian roots of Europe took seed and from here its spiritual shoots first burst forth. The foundations of the edifice of Christian civilization in Europe were laid on this very spot where we now stand, deeply moved by the sense of history. It is for this reason that Cyprus is justly called “the Gate of Christianity in Europe”.

Here in Paphos, after the wondrous events that took place, Paul became established as the Apostle to the Nations, and went on to sow the seeds of the bread of life in your own cathedra and throughout the whole of Europe.
Your Holiness,

Since 45 AD when the Apostles first set their foot upon this island until the present day, the Church of Cyprus has had a long and fruitful Christian course. Throughout its long progress it has endured numerous troubles and difficulties, lived through dark nights, experienced many conquests, gone ‘through fire and water’, but guided always by the Holy Spirit, not only did it survive, but it continues to give its Orthodox Christian Testimony, and to fulfill its God-given mission.

But, alas, since 1974, Cyprus and its Church have been experiencing the most difficult times in their history.

Turkey, which attacked us barbarously and, with the power of its arms, occupied 37% of our territory, is proceeding — with the tolerance of the so-called ‘civilized’ world — to implement its unholy plans, first to annex our occupied territories and then the whole of Cyprus.

In the case of our island, as it has done elsewhere, Turkey has implemented a plan of ethnic cleansing. It drove out the Orthodox Christians from their ancestral homes and brought — and continues to bring — hundreds of thousands of settlers from Anatolia, thus altering the demographic character of Cyprus. In addition, it has changed all the historical place names into Turkish ones.

Our cultural heritage has been plundered relentlessly and our Christian monuments are being destroyed or sold on the markets of illicit dealers in antiquities, in an attempt to rid the island of every last trace of all that is Greek or Christian.

We hope that in this terrible ordeal, which has caused so much agony to the Christian congregation of our Church since 1974, the Good and All-Merciful Lord will not turn His face from our suffering people, but will grant us Peace, Freedom, and Justice, thus granting to us the all-fulfilling love given by His presence in our hearts.

In this struggle of ours, Your Holiness, which the Cypriot people are waging with the guidance of their Leaders, we would greatly appreciate your active support. We look forward to your help in order to ensure protection and respect for our sacred monuments and our cultural heritage, in order that the diachronic values of our Christian spirit might prevail. These values are currently being brutally violated by Turkey — a country desirous of joining the European Union.

Your Holiness,

In this joyful moment of your presence among us together with your retinue, we, the President of the Republic, the Government, the Holy Synod, the pious congregation of our Church, and I personally, would like once again to address to you a heartfelt welcome and wish you a pleasant stay.

+Chrysostomos Archbishop of Cyprus
Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus
4 June 2010

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(Excerpt from an interview with Radio Vaticana, June 4, emphasis added)

Your Holiness, there has been a lot of progress in dialogue with the Orthodox in terms of cultural, spiritual and life issue. At the recent concert hosted for you by the Patriarch of Moscow, the profound harmony between Orthodox and Catholics was felt particularly in relation to the challenges to Christianity in Europe from secularization. But what is your assessment from a more strictly theological point of view?

Let me start by underscoring these great strides that we have made in our common witness to Christian values in the secular world. This is not just a coalition of political morality, but it is really something profoundly rooted in faith, because the fundamental values for which we are in this secular world is not moralism, but the fundamental physiognomy of Christian faith. When we are able to witness these values, to engage in dialogue, discussion of this world, witnessing to live these values, we have already made a fundamental witness of a very deep unity of faith. Of course there are many theological problems, but here there are very strong elements of unity. I would like to mention three elements we unite us, which see us getting closer, drawing closer. First, Scripture; the Bible is not a book that fell from heaven, it is a book that grew within the people of God, that lives in this common subject of God’s people and only here is always present and real, that can not be isolated, but is the nexus of tradition and Church. This awareness is essential and belongs to the foundation of Orthodoxy and Catholicism, and gives us a common path. As a second element, let us say, tradition that interprets us, it opens the door of Scriptures to us, it also has an institutional, sacred, sacramental form, desired by the Lord, that is the episcopate, it has a personal form, that is the college of bishops which together is a witness and presence of this tradition. And the third element, the so-called Regula fidei, that is the profession of faith drawn up by the ancient councils is the sum of what is in Scripture and opens the door to interpretation Then other elements of the liturgy, our common love for Our Lady which unites us deeply, and it also becomes increasingly clear that they are the foundations of Christian life. We must be aware, and delve deeper into the details, but it seems that although different cultures, different situations have created misunderstandings and difficulties, we are growing in awareness of the essential and unity of the essential. I would add that of course it is not the theological discussion alone that creates unity. It is an important dimension, but the whole Christian life, mutual knowledge, learning despite the experiences of the past, this brotherhood are processes that also require great patience. But I think we are learning patience, so love, and with all dimensions of theological dialogue, where we are moving forward leaving it to the Lord to decide when to gift us perfect unity.

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Via two excellent blogs with serious ‘traditionalist’ credentials – Ora et Labora (Russian Orthodox) and Rorate Caeli (Roman Catholic) – I present the following new official liturgical texts for St Justin (Popovic) of Celije (+1979), a newly glorified Saint of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Apolytikion, Mode 1

Let us honor with splendor the divinely inspired theologian, the wise Serb Justin, who by the scythe of the Holy Spirit hath thrashed the error of atheism and the insolence of the Latins, being a mystic of the God-man and lover of piety, crying out: Glory to Christ Who hath glorified thee, glory to Him Who hath crowned thee, glory to Him Who hath rendered thee a luminary to those who are in a state of darkness.

Kontakion, Mode 1

We proclaim to the faithful the inexhaustible fount conveying the Orthodox doctrines, and an angel-like man full of divine zeal, the divine Justin, the offspring of the Serbs, who by his sound teachings and writings hath strengthened the faith of all in the Lord.

This (as Mr Palad of Rorate Caeli points out) coming mere months after the election of the new Serbian Patriarch, Irinej (Gavrilovic), a ‘moderate’ who apparently welcomed the idea of a papal visit to Serbia (which would be the first in history) and even proposed that it happen in 2013, in commemoration of the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan.

Some readers may be familiar with St Justin’s famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) declaration: “In the history of the human race there have been three principal falls: that of Adam, that of Judas, and that of the pope.”

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George E. Demacopoulos, Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Fordham University and Co-Founding Director of Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Program, has sent me the following flyer about the Program’s upcoming June conference, Orthodox Constructions of the West (detailed information about the conference, including registration, may be found here).

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The Associated Press
Thursday, January 28, 2010; 8:39 AM

The new head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on Thursday urged dialogue to overcome long-standing divisions with Roman Catholics.

Patriarch Irinej said that a 2013 anniversary important to Christians would be a “good opportunity … to meet and talk.”

He added that “with God’s help this (dialogue) would continue to overcome what had happened in history and take a new, Christian road.”

The year 2013 marks 1700 years since Roman emperor Constantine the Great signed the Edict of Milan to establish religious tolerance for Christians.

Serbia’s patriarch has suggested that the ceremony to mark the anniversary could be held in the Serbian city of Nis, emperor Constantine’s birthplace, and include Pope Benedict XVI as well as key Orthodox Christian leaders.

That would be the first ever visit by a pope to Serbia, a rare European country not visited by the Roman Catholic Pope.

The Serbian Orthodox Church had opposed the visit in the past because of the schism between the two churches, but also over the Balkan wars of the 1990s, which pitted Serbs against Croats, who are mostly Roman Catholics.

Irinej acknowledged that the war period “was not the right moment (for the papal visit) and we decided to postpone it for more peaceful times.” He added, however, that no concrete arrangements for the visit have been made so far.

The 80-year-old Irinej was elected last week to become the 45th Serbian patriarch. He is considered to be a moderate in the influential church which is viewed as hardline conservative.

Irinej has retained firm opposition to the Western-backed opposition in Kosovo, the historic heartland of the Serbian church which split in 2008. He said Thursday that “Kosovo is soaked with Serbian blood” and “belongs to us.”

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