Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 8th April, 4pm - keeping Palm Sunday

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.
To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.

The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.











Monday, 30 March 2009

Rome Meeting with Heads of Greek and Czech Orthodox Churches


February 27, 2009 - Catholic Culture reports:


Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, offered an uncharacteristically pessimistic assessment of ecumenical dialogue with the Greek Orthodox Church following a meeting with its new leader, Archbishop Ieronymos II. “There is still a strong resistance toward an ecumenical growing closer, and because of that our steps must be prudent,” Cardinal Kasper told Vatican Radio. “I did not have very high expectations: It would not be possible to resolve every problem in just one day, but it was important to establish personal contact.”


Nonetheless, Cardinal Kasper called Archbishop Ieronymos “a truly humble and modest man. Our meeting has certainly been a beautiful one, and also those with his collaborators.”

Metropolitan Krystof (Christopher), head of the Orthodox Church in the Czech and Slovak Republics, began a three-day visit to the Vatican yesterday that will culminate in an audience with Pope Benedict tomorrow. Eastern Orthodoxy in the former Czechoslovakia dates only to the 1920s, when groups of Roman and Eastern Catholics left the Catholic Church. The history of relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church there has been a tortured one that includes the forced conversion of Eastern Catholics to Orthodoxy under Communist rule.

Oriental Orthodox - Roman Catholic Dialogue Continues


February 7, 2009 NEW YORK (Armenian Reporter):

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), attended a meeting in Rome this week of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic Church and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

The five-day meeting, which began on Tuesday, January 27, focused on the "exercise of communion among the churches in the first five centuries." The meeting also was devoted to the examination and approval of an agreed statement on the "Nature, Constitution and Mission of the Church," which describes broad areas of consensus among the participating churches regarding fundamental ecclesiological principles, and outlines areas that require further study.

This first agreed theological report of the Roman Catholic-Oriental Orthodox dialogue is considered a major achievement by the participants. Joining the delegation from the Roman Catholic Church were representatives of the Oriental Orthodox "family": the Armenian, Coptic, Syrian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Malankara (Indian) churches.

On Friday, January 30, members of the commission met with Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope spoke of the "communion through the grace of the Holy Spirit" that unites the Roman Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches. "We all have a duty to work for the manifestation of that essential dimension of the church to the world," the Pope said. "The very fact that the dialogue has continued over time and is hosted each year by one of the several churches you represent is itself a sign of hope and encouragement."

Archbishop Barsamian shared with Pope Benedict the warm wishes of Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, as they recalled the Catholicos's most recent visit to the Vatican last May. Pope Benedict sent his warm greetings to the Armenian pontiff.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Holy Father's Visit to the Holy Land



The programme of Benedict XVI's apostolic trip to the Holy Land, due to take place from 8 to 15 May, has been announced.

The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 9.30 a.m. on 8 May, landing at Queen Alia airport in the Jordanian capital, Amman, at 2.30 p.m. At 3.30 p.m. he is due to visit the city's "Regina Pacis" Centre, then make a courtesy visit to the Jordanian monarchs at the al-Husseinye royal palace.

On the morning of Saturday 9 May he will visit the Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo, and bless the cornerstone of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem's Madaba University.

Having visited the Hashemite Museum and the Mosque of al-Hussein bin Talal in Amman, he will meet with Muslim religious leaders, the diplomatic corps and rectors of Jordanian universities. Later that day he will preside at the celebration of Vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and ecclesial movements in the Greek-Melkite cathedral of St. George in Amman.

On the morning of Sunday 10 May the Holy Father will celebrate Mass and pray the Regina Coeli at the international stadium in Amman. That afternoon he is scheduled to visit Bethany Beyond the Jordan, site of the Lord's Baptism, where he will bless the cornerstones of the Latin and Greek-Melkite churches.

On Monday 11 May, having celebrated Mass in private at the apostolic nunciature in Amman, he will travel by plane to Tel Aviv, Israel, where the welcome ceremony is due to take place at 11 a.m. in the city's Ben Gurion airport. That afternoon he will make a courtesy visit to the president of Israel at the presidential palace in Jerusalem. Subsequently he will visit the Yad Vashem Memorial and hold a meeting with organisations for inter-religious dialogue.

On Tuesday 12 May he will visit the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount in Jerusalem and meet the Grand Mufti. He will also visit the Western Wall and meet with the two Chief Rabbis of Israel at the Hechal Shlomo Centre. At midday he is due to pray the Regina Coeli with ordinaries of the Holy Land in the Cenacle of Jerusalem and to make a brief visit to the co-cathedral of the Latins. That afternoon he will celebrate Mass in the Valley of Josaphat.

At 9 a.m. on Wednesday 13 May the Holy Father will deliver an address on the square in front of the presidential palace in Bethlehem then celebrate Mass in Manger Square at 10 a.m. At 12.30 p.m. he will lunch with the ordinaries of the Holy Land, the Franciscan community and the papal entourage at the Casa Nova monastery in Bethlehem

That afternoon, following a private visit at 3.30 p.m. to the Grotto of the Nativity, Benedict XVI will travel to the Caritas Baby Hospital and, shortly thereafter, to the Aida Refugee Camp, where he will deliver an address. At 6 p.m. he will make a courtesy visit to the president of the Palestine National Authority in the presidential palace of Bethlehem, after which the departure ceremony will take place on the square in front of the palace.

At 10 a.m. on Thursday 14 May the Pope will celebrate Mass on the Mount of Precipice in Nazareth. At 3.50 p.m. he will meet the Israeli prime minister in the city's Franciscan convent, and at 4.30 p.m. greet religious leaders of Galilee in the auditorium of the Basilica of the Annunciation, where he will pronounce an address. Later he will travel to the Grotto of the Annunciation where at 5.30 p.m. he will preside at Vespers with bishops, priests, religious, ecclesial movements and pastoral workers.

On Friday 15 May the Pope will celebrate an early private Mass in the chapel of the apostolic delegation to Jerusalem, then attend an ecumenical meeting at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. After this he will visit the Holy Sepulchre and the Armenian patriarchal church of St. James in Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Helping Christians in the Holy Land


Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world encouraging them to participate in the collection for the Holy Land, which traditionally takes place on Good Friday.

In the letter, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, then secretary of the same congregation, now president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, the two prelates express the Church's "profound concern" for the position of Christians, particularly following the conflict in Gaza.

They also underline how Benedict XVI "constantly comforts Christians, and all the inhabitants of the Holy Land, with special words and gestures, coupled with his desire to make a pilgrimage in the historical footsteps of Jesus".

"The wounds opened by violence make the problem of emigration more acute, inexorably depriving the Christian minority of its best resources for the future. The Land that was the cradle of Christianity risks ending up without Christians".

Cardinal Sandri and Archbishop Veglio make an appeal to help "our Christian brothers and sisters of the Holy Land who, along with other inhabitants of vast areas of the Middle East, have long aspired after that peace and tranquillity which are still so much under threat".

The Congregation for the Oriental Churches interprets the Pope's "loving solicitude" for the ecclesial community in the Holy Land, "again exhorting all Catholics to contribute, also with material resources, to the upkeep of the Holy Sites".

The prefect and secretary of the dicastery give assurances that "Churches of the Latin rite and of the various Eastern rites, which benefit from this vital aid, express their recognition with constant prayers for the particular Churches of the whole world".

A document drawn up by the Custody of the Holy Land and a note from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, details the projects undertaken using the 2008 collection.

Apart from providing study grants for priests and seminarians from the Holy Land to study in pontifical universities, various restoration projects were carried out in, among other places: Jerusalem, Bethany, Bethlehem, Haifa, Magdala, Nazareth and Nablus (the Shechem of antiquity). Funds were also distributed to support parishes, families, schools and universities, and - through the Custody of the Holy Land - to various cultural projects, such as the faculty of biblical sciences and archaeology of the "Studium Biblicum Franciscanum" in Jerusalem.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has published a special prayer for Benedict XVI's forthcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land from 8 to 15 May, in the hope that "this visit will be for the Holy Land a moment of renewal and a time of particular grace".

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Earth Hour 2009


Message of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

The environmental crisis, which afflicts our entire planet, constitutes one of the major problems of humanity, together with poverty and the absence of peace. It is however obvious, even to skeptics, that climate change provides undeniable evidence that the environmental crisis is the ecumenical and universal problem par excellence, since it affects every corner of the earth and, of course, each and every human, poor and rich, young or elderly.

Concerted action for the aversion of climate change, whose impacts on ecosystems, natural resources and human communities are expected by the scientists to prove catastrophic, constitutes a supreme manifestation of solidarity and unity, in the shadow of such a catastrophe. We should all keep in mind that we are responsible for the ecological crisis, both collectively, as humanity, and personally, each one of us. The time to redirect away from the route of auto-catastrophe is near. The Earth Hour has come! We invite all, irrespective of religion and nationality, to participate in the "Earth Hour", an initiative of WWF, the global conservation organization, which has eventually evolved into a worldwide collective action for the protection of our one and only planet. On the 28th of March, let us all turn off the lights of houses, offices, factories, services and other buildings for one hour, from 8:30 until 9:30 in the evening, thus declaring our personal commitment to the good cause of environmental protection and control of climate change.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Journey begins towards convening of grand Pan-Orthodox Synod


From AsiaNews, 12 March 2009, by Nat Da Polis

With the sending of letters of invitation to all the heads of the Orthodox Churches for the two preparatory meetings for the grand pan-Orthodox synod, scheduled for June and December of this year, Patriarch Bartholomew I has set in motion the decisions made at the recent pan-Orthodox meeting in October, held in Constantinople, and attended by deceased patriarch of Moscow Alexy as his last act in life.

Bartholomew has stepped up the pace for the convening of the grand synod, which has the objective of responding to all of the problems that have built up over the course of centuries, and continue to plague relations among the Orthodox Churches, with extensive repercussions for the dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics as well. The schism of 1054, with all of its grave consequences for the universal Church, also deprived the Orthodox Church of the necessary impetus and ability to be constantly present in the course of history.

In the recent past, a first initiative for the convening of a pan-Orthodox synod was undertaken by Patriarch Ioakim III in 1901. He wanted to smooth over the tensions among the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, in the conviction that only an Orthodox Church engaged in a constant and constructive inner dialogue could face the challenges of the contemporary world and act with one voice and one heart. This initiative did not succeed, in part because the Orthodox Churches, which had recently emerged from Ottoman rule, were seeking their identity in an exaggerated identification with the nation, and the full breadth of the Christian message was not instilled in their clergy.

After various mishaps, in 1961 a pan-Orthodox conference was convened in Rhodes, with significant pressure from patriarch Athenagoras, for the purpose of preparing an Orthodox synod. This conference was also followed by numerous obstacles, because as theologian Giorgos Tetsetis observes, the local Churches did not have a clear idea of what they wanted from the Synod.

Now, the letters sent for the two preparatory meetings to be held in June, in Cyprus, and in December, in a place to be determined, present the following topics:

1. The Orthodox diaspora, where the jurisdiction over the Orthodox flock beyond national borders will be defined. According to the canons now in effect, before the growth in the phenomenon of emigration the faithful outside of their home country belong to the ecumenical patriarchate.

2. The manner of recognizing the status of autocephalous Church.

3. The manner of recognizing the status of Church autonomy.

4. Dypticha, meaning the rules of mutual canonical recognition among the Orthodox Churches.

5. Establishing a common calendar for feasts. For example, some Churches celebrate the Nativity on December 25, others 10 days later.

6. Impediments and canonicity of the sacrament of matrimony.

7. The question of fasting in the contemporary world.

8. Relationships with the other Christian confessions.

9. The ecumenical movement.

10. The contribution of the Orthodox in affirming the Christian ideals of peace, fraternity, and freedom.

The first four questions were the cause of friction in 1993 and 1999 with the patriarch of Moscow, because of participation in the work of the autonomous Estonian Church, with Moscow does not recognize.

"It is time," says Fr. Tetsetis, a theologian for the ecumenical patriarchate, "that our Church finally realize that it is doing poorly as a whole. The Church needs an open and sincere dialogue. Because it is only then, with its rich tradition as a compass, that it will be able to emerge from its blind alley and together face its existential problems, which are becoming increasingly severe and complicated. It is only then that the importance of the Ecumenical Patriarch's initiative can be understood." According to the journalist Aris Viketos, the letter from Bartholomew is being well received in the Orthodox world.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Eightieth Anniversary of Cum Data Fuerit

Protopresbyter Lawrence Barriger writes in Irenikon, the ecumenical review of the Monatery of Chevetogne, February 22, 2009


This March marks the eightieth anniversary of the Promulgation of the Vatican decree titled Cum Data Fuerit which would prove to be the
spark that would ignite a fire in the Byzantine-Rite Catholic Church in the United States and ultimately lead to the return of thousands of “Greek Catholics” as they were then called into returning to the Orthodox Faith of their ancestors through the creation of our diocese by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1938.

The decree itself was hardly remarkable; it was primarily intended to regulate relations between the members of the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Catholic Church in such matters as intermarriage, baptisms and other such affairs. However, buried within it was this statement:
“In the meantime, as has already been several times provided, priests of the Greek-Ruthenian Rite who wish to go to the United States of North America and stay there must be celibates.”

This was not a new provision as the decree notes. As early as 1890 the Vatican called for priests who desired to go to America to be celibate. The provision was again restated in 1907 in the Ea Semper Decree which appointed Bishop Soter Ortinsky as the first Greek Catholic bishop in North America. Knowing that this celibacy decree was prompted by the “scandal” of married priests by the American Roman Catholic clergy and hierarchy it was simply ignored. In 1929 however, the Greek Catholic Bishop Basil Takach, himself enamored of the power and status of the Roman Church in America, was charged with enforcing the celibacy decree and did so vigorously.

At this time there were several married Greek Catholic seminarians who were awaiting ordination. These men had the choice of giving up their vocations to the priesthood or permanently relocating to Eastern Europe where the Greek Catholic clergy could still be married (and in fact are still today). Many Greek Catholic priests in the New World resented the fact that their bishop refused to come to the defense of the traditional discipline of their church in regards not only to celibacy but to other matters as well – although forced celibacy was seen itself as being the most visible sign of the “Latinization” of the Eastern Church.

The real issue of 1929 is one that has plagued the Greek Catholic Church since its creation in 1595 at the Union of Brest and the 1646 Union of Uzhorod which marked the beginning of the entrance of the Carpatho-Rusin Church into “Union with Rome.” The issue at the heart of the conflict was what it meant to be a member of the Greek Catholic or as it is termed in the United States the Byzantine-Rite Catholic Church.

Simply put: Is a Byzantine-Rite Catholic a Roman Catholic who simply used the Byzantine-Rite Liturgies and other worship services instead of the Roman ones? Or is a Byzantine-Rite Catholic a member of an Eastern Church possessed of its own worship, spiritual traditions and unique disciple of which a married clergy is an integral part?

In 1934 the Vatican responded to the petitions of an “Anti-Latinization” National Religious Congress which among others things demanded that Rome rescind the celibacy restriction for the Church in America.

The Vatican’s response showed its inability to understand the mindset of the Eastern Christian… “(Celibacy) arose not now, but anew, from the particular conditions of the Ruthenian (i.e. the Vatican’s term for Carpatho-Rusins) population in the United States of America. There is represents an immigrant element and a minority, and it could not therefore, pretend to maintain there its own customs and traditions which are in contrast with those which are the legitimate customs and traditions of Catholicism in the United States, and much less to have there a clergy which could be a source of painful perplexity and scandal to the majority of American Catholics.”

Since the end of the Middle Ages and in the wake of the Protestant Reformation the Office of the Pope has become the final arbiter in all matters of disciple and faith in the Roman Church. The See of Peter in Rome has become for the vast majority of Roman Catholics the manifestation of union with and the focal point of the witness of the Holy Spirit within the Church historically. As evidence of this we have seen the almost total reformation of worship in the Roman Church in the wake of the Second Vatican Council which with few exceptions has been accepted without questioning by the majority of Roman Catholics. Such a fast paced and complete reformation would be almost unthinkable in the Orthodox Church.

As a matter of geography in the Western part of the Old Roman Empire the only Church that could claim an intimate relationship with the Apostles was the Church in Rome. This gave it a unique position of leadership among Christians living in what would become the nations of Western Europe and a good deal of Eastern Europe.

In the Eastern part of the Old Roman Empire many if not most Churches could claim an Apostolic foundation and/or visitation. SS. Peter and Paul for example were in Antioch long before they were in Rome (cf. Galatians 2:11). As a result of this and other factors Orthodox Christians did not associate the responsibility for the guardianship of the faith with any particular Church or bishop but rather saw it as the responsibility of the whole church expressed in not only councils and canons but also in the worship and disciplines of the Church as well. Change takes place in such things in the Orthodox Church but only after time reveals it to be in harmony with the witness of the Holy Spirit in what has come before. For example the Patriarch of Constantinople could call for a Council of the Church but it could not be called an Ecumenical Council until generations had shown that its pronouncements were in harmony with the whole of the Church and were accepted by the whole Church.
In 1929 the Vatican was asking the Greek Catholic Church in America to fundamentally become a Roman Church. If the Pope and the Oriental Congregation in Rome saw celibacy as simply a small matter of discipline, the pro-Orthodox such as Fr. Orestes Chornock saw it ultimately as a repudiation of their faith. (For a more detailed discussion of the celibacy crisis and the origins of our diocese please see my Glory to Jesus Christ! available from our Seminary or Camp Nazareth Bookstore.)

Ironically the return of so many former “Greek Catholics” to the Orthodox Church under the leadership of Fr. Orestes Chornock, later Bishop and Metropolitan Orestes of blessed memory probably served to keep alive the Byzantine-Rite Church in America. The program of “Latinization” reached its peak in the 1950’s and 1960’s with the removal of iconscreens, abbreviated Liturgies, the removal of triple-barred crosses, the adoption of the Western date of Pascha and so forth.

Vatican II urged Eastern Rite Catholics to faithfully study their history and faithfully practice their “Rite.” Many Byzantine-Rite Catholics took the message seriously and began to think of themselves once again as members of Orthodox Church who were “united” with Rome.

The tragedy is that Rome, eighty years later, is still unwilling to regard the Byzantine-Rite Catholic Church in the United States as anything but a tolerated Church. In recent years the Byzantine-Rite Church attempted to secure the restoration of the married priesthood in the United States once again. The Vatican reaffirmed the celibacy provision of Cum Data Fuerit by its refusal to act on the request of the Byzantine Church.

If Pope Benedict really wanted to demonstrate his understanding of and regret for the divisions in families and the heartaches that Cum Data Fuerit had caused in the Byzantine Church since 1929 he could do two things. In the external forum he could rescind the excommunication of Metropolitan Orestes Chornock with the admission that his return to Orthodoxy was done out of the love of his Church and people which Rome, wittingly or unwittingly, was in the process of destroying.

Internally the Pope could rescind the celibacy provision of Cum Data Fuerit to demonstrate that Rome no longer regards our Eastern Rite brothers and sisters as unwanted and unloved, subject to the needs and prejudices of the American Roman Catholic Church. Until then we can only conclude that no matter how “Eastern” services appear in the Byzantine Church that it is still
fundamentally simply a group of Roman Catholics who have a “different Mass.”

Monday, 2 March 2009

Return of Church of St Nicholas, Bari, to the Orthodox Church


MESSAGE FROM POPE BENEDICT XVI - Vatican Information Service

The Russian Orthodox church of St. Nicholas in the Italian city of Bari was returned to the custody of the Patriarchate of Moscow during a ceremony held in Bari today. During the celebration, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, archbishop emeritus of Palermo, Italy, read out a Message from the Holy Father.

"The Russian people", says the Pope in his Message, "have never faltered in their love for this great saint who has always supported them through moments of joy and of difficulty. Evidence of this is also to be found in this Russian Orthodox church of St. Nicholas, built at the beginning of last century to house pilgrims who, often on their way to the Holy Land, stopped at Bari, a meeting point between East and West, to venerate the relics of the saint.

"And how can we not recognise", the Holy Father adds, "that this beautiful church reawakens within us a nostalgia for full unity, and upholds our commitment to work for full union among all Christ's disciples?"

In his Message, Benedict XVI also reiterates his best wishes to Kirill, recently-elected as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, and calls upon the Holy Spirit to illuminate his ministry.

During the ceremony - which was originally due to have taken place on 6 December 2008, Feast of St. Nicholas of Bari, but was postponed due to the death of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexis II - Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, consigned the keys of the Orthodox church of St. Nicholas to Dimitry Medvedev, president of the Russian Federation.

Sunday of Orthodoxy & Blessing of Icons

Sunday 1st March saw the Melkite Greek Catholic parish of St John Chrysostom welcome the British Association of Iconographers to St Barnabas Church in Pimlico, Lonodn SW1, to celebrate the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday in Lent in the Byzantine tradition.

Members of the Association displayed 30 icons in the Church prior to the Divine Liturgy, which concluded with the Procession and Blessing of the Icons, together with the Veneration of a new icon of the Theotokos commissioned for the parish.

The Sunday of Orthodoxy marks the end of the Iconoclast controversy with the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, which finally approved the veneration of images and relics within Christianity. The celebration of this milestone decision, integral to establishing orthodoxy about Christ's humanity and divinity, his incarnation and resurrection, and hence the nature and purpose of created things, was fixed on the first Sunday of Lent at the Synod of Constantinople in 843.

Taking part in the Liturgy were the Society's Chairman, Fr John Salter, and the Secretary, Fr Gary Gill.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

SSJC Western US Region Newsletter: Light of the East

Here is Light of the East, the Winter (January-March) 2009 Newsletter of the Western Region of SSJC in the US.