Sunday, February 25, 2018

More on Jerusalem tax standoff



We, the Heads of Churches in charge of the Holy Sepulchre and the Status Quo governing the various Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem – the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Custody of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarchate – are following with great concern the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of the existing Status Quo.

Recently, this systematic and offensive campaign has reached an unprecedented level as the Jerusalem Municipality issued scandalous collection notices and orders of seizure of Church assets, properties and bank accounts for alleged debts of punitive municipal taxes. A step that is contrary to the historic position of the Churches within the Holy City of Jerusalem and their relationship with the civil authorities. These actions breach existing agreements and international obligations which guarantee the rights and the privileges of the Churches, in what seems as an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem. The greatest victims in this are those impoverished families who will go without food and housing, as well as the children who will be unable to attend school.

The systematic campaign of abuse against Churches and Christians reaches now its peak as a discriminatory and racist bill that targets solely the properties of the Christian Community in the Holy Land is being promoted. This abhorrent bill is set to advance today in a meeting of a ministerial committee which if approved, would make the expropriation of the lands of Churches possible. This reminds us all of laws of a similar nature which were enacted against the Jews during dark periods in Europe.

This systematic and unprecedented attack against Christians in the Holy Land severely violates the most basic, ab antique and sovereign rights, trampling on the delicate fabric of relations between the Christian Community and the authorities for decades.

Therefore, and recalling the statement of the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem, dated 14 February, 2018 and their previous statement of September 2017, as a measure of protest, we decided to take this unprecedented step of closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Together with all Heads of Churches in the Holy Land we stand united, firm and resolute in protecting our rights and our properties.

May the Holy Spirit answer our prayers and bring a resolution to this historic Crisis in our Holy City.

THEOPHILOS III, Patriarch of Jerusalem
FRANCESCO PATTON, Custos of the Holy Land
NOURHAN MANNOUGIAN, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem

Protest of Israeli taxation closes Church of the Resurrection

(Jerusalem Post) - Jerusalem heads of churches announced on Sunday, in a rare move, that they are closing down the doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in protests of recent moves made by Israeli authorities.

The moves include the Jerusalem Municipality's intention to collect property tax (Arnona) from church-owned properties that are not prayer houses and legislation initiated by MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) that would limit that ability to sell church-owned land to private hands.

Two weeks ago the Jerusalem Municipality notified the Finance, Interior and Foreign ministries, and the Prime Minister’s Office that it will start collecting a total of NIS 650 million in tax from 887 properties that are not houses of prayer. It said that it refrained from doing so thus far because it the state didn't allow it.

It also stressed that the tax would be collected only from properties that do not have churches or any other kind of prayer houses.

These moves by the Israeli authorities were dubbed by the heads of churches as a “systematic campaign of abuse against Churches and Christians.”

“We, the heads of Churches in charge of the Holy Sepulchre and the Status Quo governing the various Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem - the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Custody of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarchate - are following with great concern the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of the existing Status Quo,” a statement issued on Sunday read.

“Recently, this systematic and offensive campaign has reached an unprecedented level as the Jerusalem municipality issued scandalous collection notices and orders of seizure of Church assets, properties and bank accounts for alleged debts of punitive municipal taxes. A step that is contrary to the historic position of the Churches within the Holy City of Jerusalem and their relationship with the civil authorities. These actions breach existing agreements and international obligations which guarantee the rights and the privileges of the Churches, in what seems as an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem. The greatest victims in this are those impoverished families who will go without food and housing, as well as the children who will be unable to attend school.

“Therefore, and recalling the Statement of the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem, dated 14 February, 2018 and their previous statement of September 2017, as a measure of protest, we decided to take this unprecedented step of closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” the statement continued.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The martyred brothers of Kola

(OrthodoxSaints) - Many centuries ago, the village of Kola was located at the source of the Mtkvari River. There Christians and pagans dwelt together as neighbors. Christian and pagan children would play together, but when the Christian children heard church bells ringing, they recognized the call to prayer and dropped their games. Nine pagan children—Guram, Adarnerse, Baqar, Vache, Bardzim, Dachi, Juansher, Ramaz, and Parsman—would follow the Christian children to church.

But the Christians always stopped them near the gates of the church and reprimanded them, saying, “You are children of pagans. You cannot enter God’s holy house.” They would return sorry and dejected.

One day the nine pagan children tried to enter the church forcibly, but they were cast out and scolded. “If you want to enter the church, you must believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” they were told. “You must receive Holy Communion and join the community of Christian believers.”

With great joy the youths promised the Christians that they would receive Holy Baptism. When the Christians of Kola related to their priest the good news of the pagan boys’ desire, he recalled the words of the Gospel: He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after Me, is not worthy of Me. (Matt. 10:37–38).

He was not afraid of the anger that would follow from the pagan community, but rather took the boys on a cold winter night and baptized them in the icy river. A miracle occurred while the Holy Sacrament was being celebrated: the water became warm and angelic hosts appeared to the youths. Greatly encouraged in their faith, the children decided to remain in the Christian community rather than return to their parents.

When their parents learned that they had been baptized in the Christian Faith, they dragged their children away from the church, abusing and beating them into submission all the way home. The heroic children endured the abuses and, though they went hungry and thirsty for seven days, repeated again and again, “We are Christians and will not eat or drink anything that was prepared for idols!”

Neither gentle flattery, nor costly clothing, nor promises of good things to come could tempt the God-fearing youths. Rather they asserted, “We are Christians and want nothing from you but to leave us alone and allow us to join the Christian community!”

The enraged parents went and reported to the prince everything that had happened. But the prince was of no help—he simply told them, “They are your children, do with them as you wish.” The obstinate pagans asked the prince permission to stone the children. So a large pit was dug where the youths had been baptized, and the children were thrown inside.

“We are Christians, and we will die for Him into Whom we have been baptized!” proclaimed the holy martyrs, the Nine Children of Kola, before offering up their souls to God.

Their godless parents took up stones, and then others joined in, until the entire pit had been filled. They beat the priest to death, robbed him, and divided the spoils among themselves.

The martyric contest of the Nine Righteous Children of Kola occurred in the 6th century, in the historical region of Tao in southern Georgia.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Enthronement of first abbess in Fiji

(Pacific Islands Church) - We are very happy and proud to share these photos with you - photos which capture a very significant and historic event: the Enthronement of the Abbess Gerontissa Melani of the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Saweni, Fiji. Doxa to Theo!!

Gerontissa Yuliani, the Abbess of the Kehrovounio Monastery in Tinos, was also in Fiji for the Enthronement as Gerondissa Melani, together with Sister Anissa, spent one and a half years at the Monastery in Tinos.

It is particularly touching that Gerondissa Melani is not only the first igoumeni in Fiji but that she is a native Fijian as is Sister Anissa. Many years to our new Gerondissa and may our Panagia protect and guide her in this role.

Πάντα Αξία Γερόντισσα Μελάνι και να σάς προστατεύει ή Παναγία μας!

This is where we have gotten to, people.

Why not just let the child turn 18 and let her make her own decisions? Why do all this and force the issue with less than a year to her majority? The government is not your friend. It's a blunt instrument now under the control of a deluded ideology.

(Washington Times) - A Hamilton County, Ohio, judge took a transgender teen away from her parents on Friday because they refused to allow the 17-year-old to undergo hormone treatments as part of a female-to-male transition.

Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon awarded custody of the teenager to her grandparents, who will be allowed to make medical decisions for the minor and legally change her name.

The parents objected to the transition procedures because of their religious beliefs and refused to call their daughter by her chosen, male name, court records show.

“It is unfortunate that this case required resolution by the Court as the family would have been best served if this could have been settled within the family after all parties had ample exposure to the reality of the fact that the child truly may be gender-nonconforming and has a legitimate right to pursue life with a different gender identity than the one assigned at birth,” Judge Hendon wrote in her decision.

The custody battle lasted more than a year and included interventions by the Hamilton Country Department of Jobs and Family Services and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where the child is being treated.

The parents ultimately agreed to let the minor reside with her grandparents for the remaining months of her adolescence. The child’s grandparents will be allowed to pursue transition treatments recommended by the child’s doctors after a court-ordered independent psychiatric evaluation.

“Evidence was presented that the parents agree that the child should remain with the maternal grandparents and continue to attend the high school at which the child is excelling both academically and musically,” Judge Hendon wrote in the decision. “The child wishes to remain in the care of the grandparents. The grandparents are suitable caregivers and have demonstrated an ability to meet the child’s needs.”

According to the decision, the legal dispute began in February of 2017 when family services sought temporary custody of the child, alleging parental neglect and abuse.

Those allegations were dropped in subsequent adjudication, but the child was nonetheless placed in the temporary custody of family services and ordered to remain in residence with her grandparents.

Shortly after that, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital recommended the 17-year-old undergo hormone therapy at the hospital’s Transgender Health Clinic. The parents objected, citing their religious beliefs.

Family services then sought to terminate the temporary custody arrangement and grant full legal custody to the grandparents. Both grandparents filed petitions for full legal custody in December.

The parents initially sought treatment for their daughter’s anxiety and depression at the children’s hospital, where they were “legitimately surprised and confused” by the diagnosis of gender dysphoria, according to Friday’s decision. She had lived as a gender-confirming girl until 2016.

Although they objected to the transition treatments, the parents continued to pay for therapy sessions at the children’s hospital.

The parents also said their daughter had threatened to commit suicide if she were forced to return to their home. In medical records admitted during trial, however, the child’s doctors said she was not a suicide risk.

Judge Hendon concluded her decision with a plea for legislation that would give the juvenile court a “framework by which it could evaluate a minor petitioner’s right to consent to gender therapy.”

“What is clear from the testimony presented in this case and the increasing worldwide interest in transgender care is that there is a reasonable expectation that circumstances similar to the one at bar are likely to repeat themselves,” she wrote.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Call for Papers: “The Byzantine Liturgy & the Jews”

(NAPS) - The Institute for Ecumenical Research, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, is convening an international conference on the Byzantine Liturgy and the Jews, 9-11 July 2019. Presentation abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent to by 1 July 2018.

Anti-Jewish elements have persisted in the Byzantine liturgy for over a thousand years in areas under the influence of the Eastern Christian Empire. These elements have spread through translation from Byzantium to all countries and cultures which worship today according to the Byzantine rite. Despite the profound theological and liturgical changes that have taken place in the second half of the 20th century in Western Christianity, hymns that were composed in the polemical context of the 8th -9th centuries are still used today in Eastern countries and in the Christian Orthodox Communities of the diaspora.

The conference with the topic Byzantine liturgy and the Jews addresses the issue of liturgical anti-Judaism from various perspectives, in order to provide the necessary tools so that we can better understand this reality:

Historical-criticism – which hymns fall within this discussion? When were these texts included in the liturgy and what were the overall social and political contexts in which they were written? What differences can one identify between original versions and translated ones and what are the aspects that have led to innovation in translating these texts? And how do texts with Byzantine anti-Jewish elements differ from analogous texts from the Syriac, Coptic, Armenian and Georgian traditions?

Patristic and liturgical approach – which is the role of hymns within the liturgical structure? What is the relationship between hymnography and homilies and other patristic writings? To what extent can one identify a patristic origin of certain anti-Jewish topoi and how did this very fact assure their transmission in worship? And what can be said about the image of the Jews in Byzantine iconography and their possible relation with hymnographic texts?

Theological approach – what kind of relationship is there between biblical statements regarding Israel and anti- Jewish hymnography? What is truly anti-Jewish in the Byzantine rite? Which are the criteria that would guide us today in evaluating liturgical texts from this perspective?

Socio-cultural impact – to what extent can one follow how these hymns reflect, consolidate and modify the mentalities of given religious communities?

Presentation abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent to: Deadline: July 1, 2018. Papers may be presented in English and German. Conference proceedings will be published in the Peter Lang’s Edition Israelogie series. Financial support may be available upon consultation with the organisers.

Antiochians clarify method for reception of converts

It is understandable that people might consider baptism to be the preferable process in the reception of people into the Faith. Such a method certainly has historical backing and is still the process of some in the Americas.

As more and more denominations become unmoored from the traditions they received (of which the baptismal formula is sadly also a victim), we can speak less surely about the baptisms those people received. On the other hand, asking someone to step into a horse trough to be submerged into water in front of other people is also a daunting thing to ask especially as we have established norms on the books already that usually require no such thing.

This is, to me, just another marker in the well. The water level will continue to sink and our reliance on the practices of others will continue to recede. Will it even be another 20 years before baptism becomes the norm and not the exception?

Englewood, NJ / February 20, 2018 ( - In response to numerous unnamed sources spreading confusion over the internet, His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH reaffirms the long-standing policy of the Antiochian Archdiocese, which is in accordance with the practice of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, regarding the reception of converts to the Faith. To be clear, Holy Baptism in the Name of the Holy Trinity, followed by Holy Chrismation, is the normative means by which one is initiated into the Holy Church. When receiving those coming into Holy Orthodoxy from religious confessions who profess a belief in the Holy Trinity and baptize with water in the Name of Father, and of Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the Church from ancient times has done so through means of Holy Chrismation or a profession of the Faith – depending on the circumstances. When questions arise requiring discernment as to how a person is to be received into the Church, a priest must consult with his local bishop.

His Eminence reaffirmed this practice recently during a clergy seminar for the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, where he has continued to be the local bishop since his election as Metropolitan. In this capacity, His Eminence made clear that he is the point of reference for such questions for the clergy in attendance.

EP side with the Bulgarians/Macedonians? Think again.

( - In the communiqué of the regular session of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, held from February 7 to 9, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has declared that it considers the actions of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church regarding the schismatic and unrecognized Macedonian Orthodox Church to be un-canonical, reports Sedmitza.

The Macedonian Orthodox Church, which formed as a schism from the Serbian Orthodox Church, appealed to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in November, to take on the role of its “Mother Church” and to intercede on its behalf to the other autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches to bring it back into communion with the Orthodox Church. The Bulgarian Church resolved on November 27 to help the Macedonian Church, a move which has also drawn serious criticism from the Serbian and Greek Churches.

His Holiness Patriarch Neofit of Bulgaria was present in Constantinople in late January for the ceremonial reopening of the city’s famous Bulgarian Iron Church. He met personally with the Ecumenical Patriarch, presumably discussing, among other things, the matter of the Macedonian Church.

However, Pat. Neofit has said that there is a consensus within the hierarchy of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church about how to proceed with helping the Macedonian Church, and that they are hopeful for the future. A bishop of the Bulgarian Church was an official guest at the Macedonian Church’s celebration of the 15 Martyrs of Tiberiopolis (Strumica) in December, and a meeting between representatives of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the schismatic Macedonian Orthodox Church was held in Sofia later that month.

On Saturday, Metropolitan Nicholas of Filippopol of the Bulgarian Church accompanied Bulgarian President Rumen Radev to visit one of the monasteries of the Macedonian Church, where they were both warmly welcomed.

An unnamed hierarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople told the Romfea news agency, in response to this most recent event, “Unfortunately, the Buglarians show that they have no Church consciousness.”

The situation regarding the Macedonian Church is complicated by the fact that it came into existence by schisming from the Serbian Orthodox Church, and thus the normal canonical procedure would be to return to the Serbian Church. Yes. Exactly. Moreover, the Serbian Church has one canonical bishop, Archbishop Jovan (Vraniskovski) of Ohrid serving in Macedonia. He has endured many years of persecution there, including imprisonment, for his fidelity to the Serbian Church.

Jerusalemite Christians protest Israeli taxation

(Jerusalem Patriarchate) - On Saturday February 4/17, 2018, hundreds of Christians rallied in support of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the rest of the Jerusalem Churches against the recent tax measures (Arnona) imposed by the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality on the Holy Churches and their adjacent buildings. These tax measures are a flagrant violation of the Status Quo of Jerusalem, which has been established by the long-term sacred history and respected by the many rulers of Jerusalem over the past decades.

The peaceful protest, was followed by a rally that was launched at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem through the Christian Quarter and in the area before St. Helen’s gates and the Metochion of Gethsemane opposite the Holy Sepulchre. Protesters then roamed around the Holy Sepulcher Church while chanting against the Municipality measures.

After their march, leaders of the groups participating in the rally were received by H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III at the Patriarchate Headquarters. His Beatitude explained to them that governments so far have respected the tax exemption rights of the Patriarchate and thanked them for their honest and devout support.

Some liturgical changes for the OCA

If you bought the new Hieratikon, it comes with a booklet that explains all the changes from previous publications. It's a level of attention to detail and professionalism I find refreshing.

For those curious about the directives mentioned below, the changes are added here. Some might be surprised by the second one, but it has been a topic of discussion in clerical circles for some time online (usually in the weeks leading up to Lent). It's good to get clarification.

  1. To remove the interpolation “Making the change by thy Holy Spirit” from the Epiclesis in the Anaphora of St. Basil. The deacon’s three-fold Amen, together with a low bow or prostration, is now to come immediately after “…shed for the life of the world.”
  2. To clarify, in accordance with the ancient, universal tradition of the Church, that at the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, when the presanctified Lamb has been placed into the chalice, the wine mixed with water truly becomes the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Consequently, priests and deacons celebrating or communing at the Presanctified Liturgy are to commune of the holy chalice in precisely the same manner and with the same words as they would at the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or of St. Basil the Great. And a priest or deacon who must later consume the Gifts is still to partake of the chalice, as doing so in no way constitutes a breaking of the eucharistic fast.

(OCA) - In a letter to all clergy of the Orthodox Church in America dated February 15, 2018, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon announced two decisions of the Holy Synod of Bishops with regard to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great and the reception of Holy Communion by clergy at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts were announced.

These Liturgical Instructions are available online, together with historical background information , titled “Notes on the Epiclesis in the Anaphora of Saint Basil and on the Chalice at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts,” by Dr. Vitaly Permiakov and Hieromonk Herman [Majkrzak].

Both of these decisions are reflected in the new Hieratikon recently published by Saint Tikhon’s Monastery Press with the blessing of Metropolitan Tikhon.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Welcome to Lent

Russians maybe not ready for stand-up comedy?

Moscow. February 19 (Interfax) - Overwhelming majority of Russians (82%) believe it unacceptable to make jokes about the Church no matter what are the circumstances, the VTsIOM (the Russian Public Opinion Research Center) reports.

The poll showed that Russians also do not accept jokes about Russian history, the USSR, Russian Empire (70%), national peculiarities and traditions of various peoples (65%), Russian historical personalities who have passed away (64%), Russian military forces (62%).

Most part of respondents believe it acceptable to laugh at Russia’s economic and social problems (53%) and acting authorities in general (54%).

The poll was held on February 9-10 among 2000 respondents.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Romanian Synod holds working session

(Romanian Church) - The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church held this year’s first working session Thursday, February 15, at the Synodal Hall of the Patriarchal Residence, under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel.

During the meeting, the members of the Holy Synod proceeded to the election of an assistant bishop to the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Italy and an assistant bishop to the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Spain and Portugal.

The Holy Synod elected by secret vote the Very Reverend Archimandrite Atanasie (Tudor) Rusnac as Assistant Bishop to the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Italy. The new assistant bishop will bear the title of His Grace Bishop Atanasie of Bogdania.

The Holy Synod also elected by secret vote the Very Reverend Archimandrite Teofil (Petru) Roman as Assistant Bishop to the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Spain and Portugal. The new Assistant Bishop will bear the title of His Grace Bishop Teofil of Iberia.

The following decisions were made during the same working session:

The commemorative themes of the year 2018, declared Solemn Year of the unity of faith and nation and Commemorative Year of the founders of the 1918 Great Union, were completed with a new chapter entitled Consequences of the Great Union. Centenary lights: heirs and developers of the Great Union for 100 years.

Thus, personalities who through their achievements have developed this great moment of the Romanian national history will be highlighted: founders of places of worship, promoters and defenders of Romanian Christian culture, spirituality and education.

Given the 2018 Centenary, the Holy Synod encourages the intensification of pastoral, cultural and spiritual programs promoting the unity of faith and nation in the Romanian Orthodox communities outside Romania, especially the use of the Romanian language during the divine worship, in activities with the youth and in family. This is a bit contrary to the lingua franca push of other jurisdictions.

Given the Church’s contribution to the promotion of education for national unity and dignity, the Holy Synod decided that the Diocesan centres should continue offering financial and material support to schools that need repair, renovation and equipment.

Since cultural, artistic activities performed inside the places of worship can cause tendencies of self-secularization of the sacred space of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod decides that cultural activities be organized in other parish spaces or in public spaces rented for this purpose.

Filming in places of worship will only be accepted with the approval of the Diocesan Centres and only in cases where it is desired to highlight the liturgical, architectural and historical heritage of the respective churches. Subsequently, broadcasting the divine services live on the Internet will be carried out only with the approval of the Diocesan centres, having the obligation to observe the liturgical norms and the Typikon (instructions).

The Holy Synod approved the inclusion of Saint Matrona of Moscow into the calendar of the Romanian Orthodox Church beginning with 2019, being commemorated on May 2.

The Holy Synod also included into the calendar of the Romanian Orthodox Church the Feast of the Syriac Icon of the Mother of God from Ghighiu Monastery to be commemorated on the Feast of the Life-giving Spring, beginning with 2019. The Holy Synod approved the Akathist and the Service of the Syriac Icon of the Mother of God.

The synodal fathers approved the Akathist and Service of Martyrs Claudius, Castorius, Sempronianus and Nicostratus (November 9), the Akathist and Service of the 26 Holy Martyrs in Gothia (March 26), the Akathist to St Luke the Evangelist (October 18), and the Akathist to the Holy Martyr Christopher (May 9).

Greek Metropolis of Hong Kong lauds canine good fortune

(OMHKSEA) - Message by His Eminence Metropolitan Nektarios of Hong Kong and South East Asia on the occasion of the Chinese New Year of the Dog

Dear brothers and sisters,

Dog is the eleventh in the 12-year cycle of Chinese Calendar.

The Chinese tradition regards dog as an auspicious animal. If a dog happens to come to a house, it symbolises the coming of fortune. Dog is man’s good friend who can understand the human’s spirit and obey its master. It is loyal, faithful and grateful.

The virtue of the dog is a great example for the spiritual life of every Christian. We ought to be loyal, faithful and grateful to our Master and Saviour Jesus Christ. He gave to us a life of meaning and purpose! A means of change and transformation! A wellspring of mercy and forgiveness! A worldview of divine love and unconquerable hope! This is what faith in Christ can mean to each one of us.

We ought to be vigilant and to safeguard the freedom given to us by our Saviour Jesus Christ, and not to go back to the life of captivity and to become slaves of sin and corruption once more. Christian is called to live in purity in an impure world. Because this world will pass away, we ought to be holy and godly, living as citizens of the Kingdom of God through evangelism, prayer, holy living, repentance and obedience.




恭喜發財 Kung Hei Fat Choi

With my best wishes and love in Christ

+ Metropolitan Nektarios of Hong Kong and South East Asia

OCA jumps into gun debate

February 15, 2018 (OCA-MW) - Message from Bishop Paul regarding recent school violence

To Our Youth and their Parents in the Midwest Diocese,

Once again we have heard about another tragic mass shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida earlier this week.

“Police say the 19-year-old suspect, Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 people and wounded at least a dozen others in the rampage,” reports Yahoo News. “Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters that Cruz had been expelled from the school for ‘disciplinary reasons.’ Israel said that an AR-15-style weapon and ‘countless magazines’ were recovered at the scene. According to the Associated Press, Cruz purchased the weapon legally about a year ago.”

This AR-15 style weapon, according to Yahoo News, has no fully automatic mode, but it is still marketed as coming from a lineage of military-grade arms. It is modeled on the M-16 used by the US Army and Marine Corps and carried by thousands of troops around the world.

I begin this note with this information because the time has come to ban private citizens from purchasing military-grade and other kinds of semi-automatic weapons designed for use by the military for war. This would not deny a citizen’s right to purchase a simple firearm to protect his or her family and home from possible danger. But this need not include military style weapons.

Of course, the only true answer to this and the many similar tragedies that occur all too frequently is not a ban. Rather, there is a need for us to repent from acts of violence and turn to the Prince of Peace, our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, to receive forgiveness and reconciliation. As we enter into Great Lent, we need to call upon the grace of the All-Holy Spirit to give us the grace to do what is not in our fallen sinful nature to do — to forgive the troubled perpetrator from the horrible acts he committed in Parkland, Florida; and to pray for those who were slain and their family members who are suffering.

Forgiving, however, does not necessarily mean forgetting. Why can’t we learn from these tragedies? We live in a fallen world in which people do not always do what they should do. The Orthodox Church sees abortion as an act of murder and many call upon and pray for the day that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned. But these horrific mass killings in our schools are equally a Sanctity of Life issue. We need to advocate for laws to be passed to protect our students from these military style weapons. In my opinion, doing so would help significantly to make our schools safer places for our youth to attend and learn.

Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest