Voices from Russia

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Antiochan Orthodox Installing New Leader: North American Diocese Celebrates Its Roots

00 metropolitan joseph. 06.12.14

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No one under 50 can remember the last enthronement of a North American leader of the Antiochian Orthodox, a church with ancient roots in the Arab lands in and around Syria. However, today, they’ll experience it in Brooklyn in a service that’d formalise the election earlier this year of Archbishop Joseph al-Zehlaoui as the new metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Earlier this week, by phone, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna al-Yazigi of Antioch and all the East, who arrived from Syria earlier this week to preside at the ceremony, said, “This event means to us a lot… joy for the faithful in America and the homeland. We are one family”.

Even amidst the full pomp and splendour of the Orthodox liturgy at the Cathedral of St Nicholas in Brooklyn, worshipers will keep in mind their counterparts in and around Syria, where the self-styled Islamic State and other extremist militants target Christians and other religious minorities. Extremists kidnapped Patriarch Youhanna’s brother, also a bishop, with another bishop near Aleppo in Syria, almost two years ago. The Patriarch said, “It’s not so easy, but … despite all these difficulties and tragedies, we still hope”. His brother remains missing.

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCANA) has 266 parishes and missions, with an especially strong presence in Pennsylvania due to historic Arab Christian immigration here. St George Cathedral in Oakland PA is the centre of a diocese spanning five states. Antiochian Village, a summer camp and conference centre in Westmoreland County, is a regional hub of church activity. Fr Anthony Yazge, camp director at Antiochian Village, one of about half a dozen Pittsburgh-area priests headed to the enthronement, said, “[Metropolitan Joseph] is a very pious man who places great value in the youth of the Church. He’s not a person who’s going to take the easy way. He’s going to take the right way”.

Earlier this year, the Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch elected Metropolitan Joseph to succeed Metropolitan Philip Saliba, who died at age 82 in March after a 48-year tenure in which he expanded the church’s appeal to converts and other Orthodox beyond his fellow Arab-Americans. The denomination reported having about 100,000 members and more than 400 clergy. Metropolitan Joseph, 64, was born and raised in Syria, where he began his ministry before working as a priest in Europe and later America. In 1991, he began a tenure as bishop and later archbishop of Los Angeles. He was one of three nominees to replace Metropolitan Philip.

In a phone interview, he said, “The enthronement isn’t only for me. It’s a blessing to the entire archdiocese and the entire Orthodox world”. He plans to continue his predecessor’s outreaches beyond the ethnic Arab community, continuing an emphasis on young people that’s always marked his ministry. He said, “The problem is, whether within the archdiocese or any other jurisdiction, we’re losing the new generation because we don’t have much for them”. He said it’s important to meet with and listen to young people regularly. He expects to be a regular visitor at Antiochian Village and elsewhere, saying, “I have a fancy office here (in New York), but you won’t find me in the office most of the time… I’ll be on the road”.

He said he’s on equal footing with the newest of converts, noting, “Even though I was born in the faith, I have to convert to the faith daily by practising the faith and doing virtuous and Christian actions”. Echoing the Patriarch’s concerns for Syria, he said that cousins have died and a young great-nephew suffered serious wounds in the fighting in his native land, observing, “Christians and Muslims lived side by side for all those years. Now, various factions are destroying Christianity. We’re between this and that.”

Patriarch Youhanna said that he has no word on the whereabouts of his brother, Bishop Boulos al-Yazigi, or fellow Bishop Youhanna Ibrahim following their kidnapping in April 2013 near Aleppo. The relatively sparse news reports on them give different accounts of which Islamic extremist group may be holding them. Patriarch Youhanna lamented how little attention their plight received in news or diplomatic circles, “We see an international silence about this matter, which is a shame for all the world when we speak about democracy and human rights”.

6 December 2014

Peter Smith

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2014/12/06/Antiochan-Orthodox-installing-new-leader/stories/201412060031

Editor:

Mollard is in Moscow. The OCA knew EONS ago about this event. No doubt, Mollard was going to be there. Note well that HH called Mollard in without any advanced warning. This means that HH is VERY concerned about something. This kerfuffle will affect future relations between the AOCANA and the OCA. Normally, HH would NOT call Mollard in at such a time… but something happened after the USA put its three carpetbaggers in the Uniate junta. I wouldn’t trust Peterson or Dahulich (both are going to the installation), but who else can the OCA send? Watch Dahulich schmooze with the radical konvertsy element in AOCANA (I don’t think that Dahulich really left the EP in his heart-of-hearts). If I were the Antiochians, I’d watch who he confabbed with… he’s capable of leading a bloc of parishes out of the OCA and AOCANA into Bart’s grasp. The OCA was abysmally stupid to have taken him in as a bishop. What’s done is done… it won’t be pretty in the end, I’ll wager. Watch events and watch Dahulich… he has the capacity to be another Rusantsov or Pashkovsky. We’ll regret having enabled him, I fear.

BMD

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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Russia Welcomes 100 Syrian Kids from the War Zone

00 syrian kids. 28.07.14

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Editor:

The Anglo Americans send money to the terrorists who kill Christian kids in Syria… Russia aids Christian kids in Syria and aids those who fight the terrorists. I seem to see a difference. Go to hell, Bob Menendez and Bob Corker… your hate is too obvious. You can have Russian generosity or Anglo American perversity… it’s up to you.

BMD

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Angela Ganim, an official at the Syrian Department for Martyrs’ Sons Boarding Schools told Rossiya Segodnya that one hundred Syrian children from Damascus’ Orthodox shelters and boarding schools arrived Tuesday in Russia for a two-week vacation at a recreation camp near Moscow, saying, “This trip to Russia is a great treat for our kids. We hope this experience will take their mind off the tragedy that befell them and help build up energy ahead of the next school year”. There are currently two such schools in Damascus, both are government-funded, as they host children whose fathers died serving in the Syrian Army. Other children came from an Orthodox shelter in Mar Tekla convent in Ma’loula, a Christian shrine invaded last December by Islamist insurgents. Ms Ganim said that she was surprised to see a delegation of Russian VIPs waiting for the children’s’ arrival at a Moscow airport, telling us, “When we came to Moscow, we were amazed at the high level of the reception. At the airport, we were greeted by the Syrian Ambassador and his wife, as well as by a representative of the Andrei Pervozvanny Fund, the chief of the Russian Railways company, and other Russian senior officials”. The children will meet Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, have a sightseeing tour of Moscow, take part in fun recreational events, and do sports.

29 July 2014

Rossiya Segodnya

http://en.ria.ru/society/20140729/191447039/Russia-Welcomes-100-Children-from-Syrian-Hot-Spots.html

Monday, 10 March 2014

Ma’loula Nuns Released by Islamists in Exchange for Syrian Prisoners

00 released Syrian nuns. 10.03.14

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On 9 March, al-Jazeera reported that Islamist insurgents released the nuns that they captured from the ancient Mar Tekla Monastery in Ma’loula in exchange for the Syrian authorities releasing rebels held in Syrian prisons. The liberated prisoners will go to Lebanon. Currently, RT reported that the exchange is underway, monitored by the Qatari and Lebanese special services, directed by Ghanim al-Kubaisi and General Directorate of General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim. Already, the 13 released nuns, headed by Igumena Pelagia arrived in the Lebanese border town of Arsal, where they will go ahead by car on the motorway through the Djeida border checkpoint to Damascus. Last December, Islamist militants attacked the Mar Tekla Monastery in Ma’loula, 55 kilometres north of Damascus. The armed extremists took 13 nuns hostage, and the fate of the nuns became the focus of regional and world media.

9 March 2014

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RT reported that the 13 nuns abducted by Jabhat al-Nusra militants from Mar Tekla Monastery in Ma’loula in December 2013 were now free, and are on their way back to Syria. Late Sunday, the nuns arrived at the border checkpoint of Djeida-Judaydat Yabus on the Syrian-Lebanese border. Earlier, the General Directorate of General Security confirmed that the Orthodox nuns were safe and under the control of the Lebanese armed forces. A source told Reuters on Sunday that the militants transferred the nuns to Arsal in western Lebanon earlier this week. Metropolitan Louka al-Khoury told reporters when he met the nuns at the border, “The success of the Syrian forces in Yabrud furthered this process”. It’s not clear why the militants released the nuns now. Earlier reports stipulated that al-Nusra demanded the release of 500 imprisoned rebels in exchange for the nuns.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as well as a rebel source, reported that the militants released the nuns in exchange for imprisoned female rebels. Reuters noted, “Part of the deal was the release of 138 women from prison by Assad”. According to al-Mayadeen, the Syrian authorities released from prison the wife of one of the al-Nusra chieftains, Duleymi al-Saji. The authorities took her with her four children to the Lebanese border town of Arsal for the exchange. ITAR-TASS reported that Igumena Pelagia stated that all 16 nurses captured in Ma’loula are now free, saying to reporters, “We’re terribly tired; we’ll answer questions after the [Easter] holidays”. For his part, Metropolitan Louka pointed up that the Mariamite Cathedral in Damascus held a molieben of thanksgiving on 10 March, after the release of the nuns, who were in captivity almost 100 days.

10 March 2014

Pravoslavie.ru

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/news/69077.htm

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/news/69088.htm

 

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Sunday, 19 January 2014

19 January 2014. A Picture IS Worth a Thousand Words… Lavrov with Syrian Big in Moscow

00 Lavrov w Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. Moscow. 19.01.14

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Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Syrian Foreign Minister (and hereWalid Mohi Edine al-Moallem in Moscow. Why is al-Moallem smiling? He now knows that the USA won’t attack his country, as it has guarantees from Russia and China. This foils the main rouge state in the world yet again… drones won’t fly over Damascus and American B-52s won’t bomb Syria at Israel‘s behest. That means that the present sanctions bill in the US Senate against Iran will probably die a quiet death, as Russia and China gave tacit guarantees to Iranian President Rouhani as well. There’ll be “peace on earth”… thanks to Russia and China. The American beast roars, but it’s a toothless “paper tiger” (the Bushies did that with their expensive senseless wars and equally inane deep tax cuts for the rich… at the same time!)… the world is a safer place now…

BMD

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