Voices from Russia

Saturday, 6 December 2014

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

00 metropolitan joseph. 06.12.14


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



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.



Saturday, 15 February 2014

Russian Diplomats Demand Medical Visit to Pilot Wrongfully Imprisoned by the USA

00 Uncle Sam. Change Lawless America. 15.02.14


Editor’s Note:

Yaroshenko NEVER set foot in the USA prior to his kidnapping by American special services. That is, he did nothing in the USA; ergo, he broke NO American law. American courts have NO jurisdiction on acts committed outside of the USA… anything that happens on sovereign territory outside of the USA is immune to American prosecution under all international law and custom (except for acts committed on the territory of an embassy or of a sovereign military base area). That’s to say, the USA has acted in a criminal way since the time of Clinton and Bush II. It tries people for “crimes” over which it has no jurisdiction… it imprisons people for years without a hearing or a trial. I call that EVIL… and I’m not alone. If you vote for the Republican Party, you vote for evil and lawlessness (they call it “libertarianism”)… that’s NOT “Pro-Life” at all, is it, kids? Have a care, there be counterfeits out there…

Bring Yarsoshenko home… the USA should apologise for its criminality, but it won’t. We live in “interesting times”… I see why the Chinese consider them a curse

One last thing… Jen Psaki owes the Russian state, government, and people an apology for saying that Russian behaviour hit “new lows”. Illegally imprisoning someone is a “low”… the USA does it… Russia does not. Who’s the bully? One of these things is NOT like the other…



On Friday, the Russian government said that it plans to send diplomats and doctors to visit a Russian pilot serving a 20-year jail sentence in the USA for attempted drug trafficking. The group will visit Konstantin Yaroshenko at the Federal Correctional Institution Fort Dix in Hanover NJ. Russian doctors will check Yaroshenko; they should prescribe treatment for what’s said to be his worsening health. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) said, “Russia called on American authorities not to hinder this mission, but instead to offer all possible assistance”. On Friday, Yaroshenko’s lawyer, Aleksei Tarasov, said that his client experiences severe headaches and chest pains, which he said indicated pre-stroke symptoms, but that was difficult to get medical records from prison authorities.

The USA captured Yaroshenko in Liberia in 2010 after replying to an advertisement posted by agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency claiming to be selling a cargo plane for a dollar. Later, the American authorities flew him to the USA. Yaroshenko plead innocent to drug smuggling charges, but the court nonetheless convicted and sentenced him in April 2011 for colluding to smuggle cocaine into the USA. Yaroshenko said that he wanted to buy the plane, but that he had no plans to use it to transport drugs. He said that his poor English prevented him from understanding the nature of the deal proposed by the duplicitous American undercover agents. In August 2013, the New York Federal Court of Appeals rejected a motion for his retrial. Besides that, the USA also rejected Russia’s request for Yaroshenko’s return home.

14 February 2014




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Saturday, 28 September 2013

Patriarch Youhanna and General Ibrahim Discuss Kidnapped Syrian Bishops

00 Patriarch Youhanna al-Yazigi of Antioch. 28.09.13


On Thursday, Patriarch Youhanna al-Yazigi of Antioch and all the East discussed recent developments in the case of two kidnapped bishops in Syria with Major General Abbas Ibrahim, head of General Security. The two held talks at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport for 20 minutes before Youhanna departed for the Vatican. Patriarch Youhanna told reporters at the airport in response to questions about his meeting with Ibrahim, “We thank everyone for their efforts, particularly, General Abbas Ibrahim, for the efforts he’s exerted in the case of the kidnapped two bishops. We’ll remain hopeful. God willing, soon, we’ll all celebrate the presence of Bishops Boulos and Youhanna amongst us”.

In April, armed men abducted Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos al-Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim whilst they were on their way to Aleppo from the Turkish border. Patriarch Youhanna shall hold talks with the Pope of Rome to discuss the situation in Syria and Christians in the Middle East. He said, “Wherever we go, we carry the concerns of our people and the region so there’ll be deliberations about the situation in our countries in the east, Syria and Lebanon”. He also thanked Pope Francisco for the call for peace he made earlier this month for the world and in Syria.

Patriarch Youhanna also discussed the situation of the predominantly-Christian Syrian village of Ma’loula, which came under attack by radical rebel groups who reportedly destroyed and looted churches, forcing dozens of families to flee. The patriarch said that he made an appeal earlier this week for Ma’loula in order to give the village a respite from more clashes and to spare it damage. The village is of great significance to Christianity as many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language reputedly spoken by Jesus.

Youhanna said, “The appeal was also for all international organisations, the International Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and government and non-government organisations to help the village from a humanitarian aspect, to provide it with water, electricity, and food for the 40 individuals, including nuns and orphans in the Mar Takla monastery”. He noted that the nuns weren’t hostages, but they refused to leave the monastery. Asked about the presence of Christians in the Middle East, which many argue is under threat, the patriarch said that Christians and Muslims in this region share a similar history and fate, and “we’ve always lived side by side despite some circumstances”.

26 September 2013

The Daily Star


Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Still No News on Kidnapped Bishops in Syria

00 Boulos Yazigi. Syria. Bishop. 30.04.13

Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi of Aleppo


A spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo said that there’s still no news about the two Syrian Orthodox archbishops kidnapped a week ago, on 22 April. The spokesman, who preferred to be anonymous for security reasons, spoke today with the Catholic NGO Aid to the Church in Need, saying, “We still don’t know where the two archbishops are or who has taken them. There are many Christians being kidnapped now, and this is the first time where we have absolutely no clue about what has happened, where nobody has taken responsibility for the abduction. Of course, this is very worrying… especially, as we’re now on Day Eight since [the kidnapping] happened”.

Gunmen abducted Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yagizi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim some five miles west of Aleppo, the city to which they were returning after travelling to the Turkish border to negotiate the release of two priests… Frs Michael Kayyal and Maher Mahfouz… kidnapped on 9 February. The kidnapped killed the archbishops’ driver, Deacon Fatha’ Allah Kabboud. Even if the archbishops are being held in a safe location, there’s concern for the health of Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Ibrahim, who takes medication for high blood pressure and diabetes, and isn’t thought to have had the medication with him when he was taken.

The diocesan spokesman said that Church leaders were combating pressure from the Christian community. He said that Christians were calling for demonstrations to appeal for the archbishops’ release, a move which that he said could antagonise the kidnappers. Saying that services and prayer vigils were taking place including one broadcast on Syrian TV, he added, “Christians are worried and want to express their anger about what’s happened, but we should carefully study every step… we have to think about what the response would be from the kidnappers”.

He went on to appeal for continuing international pressure for the archbishops’ release. Emphasising the bishops’ high status, he said that he was hopeful that diplomatic intervention would prove effective, noting, “So far, the international community has done very well in putting pressure. We don’t want that pressure to subside… government, civil society, churches, and NGOs… different levels of help might help”. He called on Christians “and all people of good will” to pray for the archbishops’ release, observing, “What’s so sad about this is that both men were among those working hardest for peace, yet, in this time of conflict, they’re amongst those paying the highest price”.

29 April 2013




00 Youhanna Ibrahim. Syria. Bishop. 30.04.13

Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim of Aleppo


Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi appealed for the release of two Orthodox bishops kidnapped and held in Syria, saying that they should be set free in the name of humanity. Rai made his appeal whilst he served liturgy at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Brazil, where he’s on an official visit. On 22 April, armed men kidnapped Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo, as they were enroute to the northern city from the Turkish border. Rai said that all parties involved in the kidnappings should “play a part in their release”, and emphasised, “The kidnapping of the two bishops has nothing to do with current political disputes”.

29 April 2013

The Daily Star



On Friday, in a strong message of solidarity, Muslim clerics in Damascus denounced the kidnapping of Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yazigi, and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Youhanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo. Last Monday, armed men abducted the two whilst they were travelling to Aleppo from a town on the Turkish border where they were carrying out “humanitarian work”. The official SANA news agency reported that imams and preachers at mosques throughout the Syrian capital said in Friday sermons that the kidnappers “ dishonoured the inviolability of Christian and Islamic clergymen”. On Saturday, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation joined in, calling for the “unconditional” release of the two bishops. Ekmeledin Ihsanoglu, the OIC secretary general, condemned the kidnapping. The OIC statement urged their “immediate and unconditional release because such acts contradict the principles of true Islam and the [high] status held by Christian clergymen in Islam”. It added that Christian clergy always “had dignity and honour in Islamic countries”.

28 April 2013

ICN: Independent Catholic News


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