Voices from Russia

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Antioch’s Response to Jerusalem Over Qatar Turf War

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A few days ago, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem published a statement “sincerely and truthfully informing our sister Orthodox Churches and its flock” of certain points that contain no truth about its attack on territory canonically and historically belonging to the pastoral care of the Patriarchate of Antioch according to Orthodox order. The first item summarises the history of the emergence of the Qatar parish until the naming of an archbishop for it. It says in the begging of the historical narrative that it “responded to an invitation by the Christians of Qatar, a geographical territory within its ecclesiastical jurisdiction”, while in reality it is part of “All the East”, the title of the Patriarchate of Antioch since the establishment of the first five Apostolic Patriarchates. Every observer of Church history knows that the Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, held in Chalcedon in 451, decided “out of reverence for the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection” to elevate the city of Jerusalem, which at the time was a diocese subject to the Patriarchate of Antioch, to the rank of patriarchate. Over the course of time, Antioch gave her some of her territory so that she could have a patriarchal existence. We could mention, for example, that Haifa remained a diocese of Antioch until the 18th century.

The statement mentions that services for the Christians of Qatar began “in house churches” and that “the Patriarchate of Antioch had no presence” there. The least that one can say about this is that it is a truth meant to express a falsehood. Services began in homes… specifically, in the home of the American ambassador, who at that time was Orthodox… because Qatar hadn’t yet started to permit Christian religious services. This is what prevented the Church of Antioch, in the person of the shepherd of the diocese overseeing Qatar, Metropolitan Constantine Papastephanou, from providing regular liturgical services. However, he made numerous visits to Qatar, during which he held liturgical services.

If the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with the support of the American ambassador, was for years only able to provide regular liturgical services in homes and not in a designated building, then how can she allow herself to admonish her sister Church of Antioch and appropriate what is hers? Does not ecclesiastical, canonical and brotherly practise… not to simply say love… not require her to ask permission to provide religious services for the faithful living in that country, as the Russian Church did when she sought permission from her sister Church of Antioch to build a church in Sharjah for the Russians who are very numerous in the United Arab Emirates? Indeed, this is what happened. Today, at liturgies in the UAE, the Russian priest, in accordance with Orthodox tradition, commemorates the Patriarch of Antioch alongside the Russian Patriarch, which is recognition on the part of his Church that it’s serving its believers on Antiochian territory. Then, we should wonder whether providing religious services to the faithful through a priest, a brother from a sister church, gives this church the right to consider the territory her own, to consecrate a bishop for it and to regard it as a dependency? Such a thing only happens between conflicting colonial powers! In addition to this, it accuses the Antiochian Church of ethnophyletism, when Antioch serves all Orthodox in the Gulf of various nationalities, using Arabic, Greek, and sometimes Russian and Romanian in the Divine Liturgy. In North America and Australia, she uses English and the proportion of converts of non-Arab background is reaching fifty percent. In South and Central America, we’ve translated the divine services into Spanish and Portuguese.

This statement falsely and slanderously accused the Church of Antioch, which God has preserved from the temptation of ethnophyletism and has worldwide acclaim for the significant role she continues to play in realising Orthodox ecclesiology, of “placing the question on an ethnic-racial basis”. Go ahead and laugh. We’ve really reached the end of times! You’ll laugh even more when you learn that Jerusalem’s statement bases its accusation on a letter that doesn’t exist, attributed to Patriarch Youhanna X, that puts into his mouth words that no Orthodox person with even a modicum of sanity has ever said. They claim that he is demanding pastoral oversight of the Orthodox in Qatar because he “represents the Orthodox Community in all Arab countries, including for example Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Jerusalem, Egypt, Bahrain, the Emirates, and Iran”. Is Iran an Arab country? We hadn’t heard about this. They’ve exchanged Persian for another language!

Likewise anyone who is in the least familiar with ecclesial reality knows that Egypt and all Africa belongs to the Patriarchate of Alexandria whose foundation is attributed to the Holy Evangelist Mark and is an ancient apostolic patriarchate having the second place after Rome, before the foundation of Constantinople, which it continues to hold today among the Orthodox. As such, it goes ahead of Antioch, which holds the third place among the Orthodox. As for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, she cares for the city of Jerusalem and, as we mentioned above, with time, Antioch gave it dioceses in present-day Palestine and Jordan. Among them are ten dioceses in present-day Jordanian territory that belonged to the diocese of Bosra, which the Patriarch of Jerusalem suddenly woke up and started regarding as belonging to his patriarchate. If not for the need to defend the right and honour of the Church, we would shy away from talking about these shameful realities.

The most hurtful thing is the false accusation that the Patriarchate of Antioch is lying. This is unprecedented behaviour even for countries in conflict with each other, so how can it happen in the Church of Jesus Christ? The statement goes so far as to deny the agreement reached in Athens at the Greek Foreign Ministry in early summer 2014. Even uglier than that, it invokes “the testimony of the delegates of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and of the Directorate for Churches”, of course, to confirm the non-existence of this agreement, which the Greek media announced at that time. How far has the Church of Jerusalem, the “Mother of Churches”, sunk and why is there this frantic effort to occupy the territory of a sister church?! Instead of practising the words of the Apostle, “Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?” we find our brother practicing the following saying, “Who is weak and I do not devour him?” It is really a bitter farce, in the face of which words are useless. Whoever said, “Among the Orthodox, active love has become a dull tune”, was right. It’s no wonder then that other religious communities have become a haven for those fleeing the hell of those who claim to be the “Mother of Churches”. You’re truly a stranger and an outcast in Your own Church, O Lord! Worst of all, the statement closes by declaring kindness and gentleness that impose continued “commemoration of the sister Orthodox Church of Antioch, for the sake of the unity of the Orthodox Church”. As if the unity of the Church were a superficial unity achieved through commemoration alone, apart from truth and love. What unity is this apart from truth!? What unity is this in falsehood and slander?! What unity is this through bullying, using every means that belongs to this world, except the true Gospel of Jesus Christ!? Do we still wonder why people are fleeing the Church?

Metropolitan Saba Isber

18 July 2015

Antiochpatriarchate.org

https://www.facebook.com/Antiochpatriarchate.org/posts/593957814041269

https://www.facebook.com/Antiochpatriarchate.org?fref=nf

Saturday, 7 March 2015

7 March 2015. Come, Let Us Receive the Light… Ethiopian Pilgrims in the Holy City of Jerusalem

00 Ethiopian. Church of the Holy Sepulchre. 07.03.15

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Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church pilgrims at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (occupied Palestine) on the Holy Easter… the Orthosphere enfleshed…

BMD

Friday, 27 February 2015

27 February 2015. Zionist Pigs Rough Up Palestinians Protecting Land From Jewish Squatters

00 israeli pigs rough up palestinians. 27.02.15

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Zionist cops rough up Palestinians protecting their land from “settler” squatters. One can be anti-Zionist and not be anti-Semitic. That’s my position. The Israeli Settler State is a temporary Crusader State. Judaism is permanent and a respected religion. There’s little convergence between the two. Ponder that if you will… one last thing, the settlers are the terrorists, not the Palestinians… get your mind right…

BMD

Israeli Settler Attacks on Christian and Muslim Holy Places

00.0b Putin in Jerusalem. 06.12

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Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. 

Proverbs 10.12

I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. 

Gospel according to St John 8.12

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Every day, I wake up and stare at the new illegal Israeli settlement right in front of my kitchen window. It’s been a very different life as a Greek-American living in a Palestinian Christian village that my husband loves so much.  This morning, after listening to news that I didn’t understand about a church building put on fire and terrible hate slogans about Christ, I started to call all of my friends to get some information from the ground. Sometimes, just because something is in the news doesn’t mean it happened exactly that way. It was a great comfort that so many people were extremely busy that some of us didn’t exactly know or understand the details of what happened. Somehow, we try every day to continue a normal pattern of working or functioning with terrible evil all around us. How does one keep sanity with such craziness? May God have mercy, since I feel that we’ve gone backwards to the first century.

Finally, at the end of the day, after speaking with Bishop Demetri of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, he confirmed that two unknown men wearing black masks, who broke a bathroom window, attacked the seminary on Mount Zion in Jerusalem before dawn. They threw a homemade bomb, setting the building on fire. The fire department responded by putting the fire out without anyone being hurt in this awful hate crime. Graffiti on the outside walls written in Hebrew blasphemed Christ. My dear friend Dan said that the relics of St Philoumenos were kept at the Mount Zion Seminary until 2009, before being returned to the Church of St Photini at Jacob’s Well, where fanatic settlers brutally killed the saint on 29 November 1979. Bishop Demetri helped me understand that the seminary of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate has operated for more than 300 years with local and Greek teachers giving instruction to about 15 students, aged 12 to 17, in general education and in Greek, English, and Arabic. The new principal is Hieromonk Nicholas, a Greek-Australian. He replaced the late Fr Photius, who served as a principal for over twenty years. The community is peaceful and a witness for Christ’s love and peace.

This vicious attack on our precious holy sites today comes after fanatic settlers also burned a mosque near Bethlehem on Wednesday morning. This terrible violence on Palestinian Christian and Muslim holy places is occurring on the 21st anniversary of the massacre of 29 Palestinian worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron by an American-born Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein. May God forgive him. However, I surely challenge my church leadership to have a loud voice for a just peace.

May the Light of Christ shine in this terrible dark time in the world and may the Love of Christ overpower evil. Let us pray to see the humanity in each other.

(no date)

Maria C Khoury

(no URL available, sent to me as a cut-and-paste)

Editor:

THIS is what Ted Cruz praised when he spat on Arab religious leaders. May God forgive him his blasphemy. Why is there is no outcry in the US Congress when Jewish settler terrorists attack? WHY? That’s why I hate Ted Cruz and his ilk so bitterly.

V V Putin stands up for Palestinian Christians. The USA kicks them in the face. I seem to see a difference…

BMD

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