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.











Saturday, 24 November 2012

Armenia's Christian Heritage Under Threat

Armenia's Christian Heritage Under Threat

Nuncio celebrates Mass at ancient Iraqi monastery

CWN October 23, 2012

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the apostolic nuncio in Iraq, celebrated Mass at an ancient monastery near the city of Najaf, and met with the influential Shi’ite leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

At his meeting with Sistani, the Vatican envoy said that Pope Benedict “is very concerned with the situation of Christians in Iraq, and has urged them to stay in the country and live their lives naturally."

During his trip to Najaf, the archbishop celebrated Mass at a monastery in al-Hira, which was a stronghold of Christianity before the rise of Islam. The Mass was believed to be the first Eucharistic liturgy in that monastery in 1,500 years. The region is dotted with ancient monasteries, most of them now abandoned.

Russia: The Orthodox spring - Vatican Insider

Russia: The Orthodox spring - Vatican Insider

Archbishop of Trivandrum: Without Hindus, India would have no Christians

Giulia Mazza, with thank to our friends in the SSJC Chapter of Youngstown-Warren, Ohio


His Beatitude Mar Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankara Church, will be made a cardinal on November 24 along with five other prelates. His appointment is "an honor and a recognition of" India and the Syro-Malankara Church.

He says:
We Christians are in India for 2 thousand years, and are very happy to say that our apostolic Church founded by St. Thomas the Apostle, is a large Christian community made up of Catholics and non-Catholics, and it has grown. For this reason, I am very grateful to our Hindu brothers and sisters. They have supported us, protected us, more than the police and the army, because we Christians are only 2.5% of the population, and the majority of the population, 89% belongs to the Hindu community. If they had not been on our side, we would not have survived here in India. They were with us and are with us. Religious radicalism is a phenomenon that belongs to every religion and every person. We can not simply say "this community is a victim of radicalism, this other community is free from it." No. Religious radicalism is a sign of selfishness. When you alone are selfish, we can talk about selfishness. When a group of people are selfish, we are talking about "communalism" [a term used in India to refer to violence by ultranationalist Hindu against other ethnic and religious communities, ed.] So, sometimes, when certain incidents occur in some parts of the world, people believe it is persecution based on religion. I believe we should always be very careful, because sometimes a small, local matter, which is based on other problems, can degenerate hidden behind religious reasons. This fundamentalism, this religious radicalism is much more selfish in all walks of life.


Egypt's new Coptic pope faces delicate balancing act | World news | guardian.co.uk

Egypt's new Coptic pope faces delicate balancing act | World news | guardian.co.uk

When a Letter of Congratulations Contains a Warning. . . | The American Catholic

Metropolitan Hilarion's Greeting to Dr Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

When a Letter of Congratulations Contains a Warning. . . | The American Catholic

Light of the East, November-December 2012 Youngstown SSJC

Light of the East, November-December 2012, from the Youngstown-Warren Chapter of SSJC is now available here.

Christianophobia - New Book by Rupert Shortt

Two Hundred Million Christians Under Threat


Review by Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, NOV. 23, 2012  thanks to Zenit.org. - More Christians are under threat than any other faith group, some two hundred million, according to a recent book published by journalist Rupert Shortt.

Shortt, the religious editor of the Times Literary Supplement and author of several books on religious topics, recently published his latest book, “Cristianophobia,” (Random House).

Well before the September 11 attacks, many Christian communities were faced with severe problems of intolerance, he noted in the book’s introduction, and in the last decade the problem has worsened dramatically.

“This ought to be a major foreign policy issue for governments across a vast belt of the world,” he stated.

Shortt highlighted the many difficulties faced by Christians in a large number of Muslim-majority countries. Those who convert to Christianity in such countries face harsh penalties and there is also a risk that Christian churches will vanish from their biblical heartlands in the Middle East, he observed.

He cited a 2008 survey carried out by Freedom House which demonstrates that while some religiously free Muslim countries do exist, such as Senegal, they are the exception.

"Is there a problem with Islam or such?" Shortt asked. There are elements of Islam that do justify violence, but he also judged that selective quotation from the Qur’an does not prove a great deal.

It is the case, however, he continued that the right to criticize the dominant faith is more limited than in Christianity. As well, Islam has not developed as Christianity did by becoming more self-critical and tolerant.

His book, Shortt specified, is not based on a premise of a supposed clash of civilizations, and he was not uncritical of Christianity’s shortcomings in the past.

Faith, he pointed out, has mobilized millions of people to work for democracy and support human rights, as well as working to relieve human suffering. It has also, however, played a part in civil wars and conflicts.

Arab Spring

Egypt is one of the countries examined by Shortt and he pointed out that the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak did not bring any relief to the difficulties faced by Christians.

After documenting a large number of cases of persecution in the years prior to the Arab Spring Shortt went on to describe various episodes of anti-Christian acts following the overthrow of the government in Egypt.

In another chapter Shortt looked at the situation in Iraq, saying that few Christian populations have suffered as acutely as Iraq’s in recent years. The difficulties have led to an exodus of Christians, whose numbers in Iraq have gone from an estimated 1.2 million to fewer than 200,000.

It would be wrong to think that Saddam Hussein’s regime protected Christians, he argued, as Christians suffered displacement and discrimination in past decades. The situation did, however, worsen dramatically after the American invasion in 2003 with both clergy and the Christian faithful being targeted by extremists.

By early 2011 no less than sixty-three churches had been bombed or invaded since 2003.

Many in the West are ignorant of the rich history of Christianity in the region, Shortt commented. For many centuries Iraq had a flourishing Christian community with a rich cultural life and a large number of churches and monasteries, but the prospects are now very bleak for Christians.

Authority

Turkey, Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia are other countries covered by book, but Shortt also looked at some non-Muslim majority nations. He chronicled the many acts of persecution faced by Christians in India as well as harsh government restrictions in China.

Shortt also briefly examined some other countries such as Cuba and Venezuela. In relation to Cuba he noted that one resemblance between Muslim governments and communism is the denial of alternative sources of authority.

The situation of Christians has improved in recent years he admitted, but Cuba cannot yet be classified as an open society.

Shortt argued in his conclusions that injustices committed against Christians are under-reported. In part, he said this is due to a conventional wisdom that considers religion as a greater cause of conflict than other factors.

Since many hold that religion is an irrational source of violent behavior sympathy for the plight of believers is withheld. Shortt also judged that in some former colonies of Western nations Christianity is seen by some to be an offshoot of imperial power and that Christians in countries such as Pakistan are viewed as some kind of anomaly.

Shortt finished on a mildly optimistic note, expressing the hope that just as Christianity has evolved so too will Islam. To what extent this will happen is hard to say, he admitted, but he concluded by affirming the virtue of hope. It is a virtue that many Christians are going to need in large doses as they continue to face very difficult circumstances.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Pope Benedict's Message to His Holiness Tawadros II

This is the message sent by Pope Benedict XVI to His Holiness Tawadros II, on the occasion of his enthronement as Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark.
To His Holiness Tawadros II

Pope of Alexandria

Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark

"Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal 1:3)

It is with fraternal joy that I send greetings to Your Holiness on the happy occasion of your enthronement as Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark. To my Venerable Brother Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, I have entrusted the task of conveying these greetings to you, together with assurances of my closeness in prayer as you assume the high office of chief shepherd of the Coptic Orthodox Church. May the Almighty grant Your Holiness abundant spiritual gifts to strengthen you in your new ministry, as you guide the clergy and laity along the paths of holiness, for the good of your people and the peace and harmony of the whole of society.

My thoughts turn at this time to your venerable predecessor, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, whose long and devoted service to the Lord will surely continue to inspire you and all the faithful. His concern for improving relations with other Christian Churches reinforces our hope that one day all the followers of Christ will find themselves united in that love and reconciliation which the Lord so earnestly desires (cf. Jn 17:21).

Your Holiness, I pray that the Holy Spirit will sustain you in your ministry, so that the flock entrusted to your care may experience the teaching of the Good Shepherd. May they be blessed with the serenity to offer their valuable contribution to the good of society and the well-being of all their fellow-citizens.

I pray too that relations between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church will continue to grow closer, not only in a fraternal spirit of collaboration, but also through a deepening of the theological dialogue that will enable us to grow in communion and to bear witness before the world to the saving truth of the Gospel.

Conscious of the great challenges which accompany the spiritual and pastoral ministry that Your Holiness is about to undertake, I assure you of my prayers and personal good wishes. With fraternal esteem and affection I implore God’s blessings upon you and upon all the faithful entrusted to your care.

From the Vatican, 14 November 2012

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk congratulates and warns new Archbishop of Canterbury

 


Dear Brother and Lord Bishop,

I would like to extend to you wholehearted congratulations on your election as Head of one of the oldest episcopal chairs founded by St. Augustine of Canterbury in the 7th century.


You have been entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ (Tit. 1:7) the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth (cf. Jn. 18:37).


The Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion are bonded by age-old friendly relations initiated in the 16th century. For centuries, our Churches would preserve good and truly brotherly relations encouraged both by frequent mutual visits and established theological dialogue and certainly by a spirit of respect and love which used to accompany the meetings of our hierarchs, clergy and ordinary believers.


Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole.


We hope that the voice of the Orthodox Church will be heard by the Church of England and Churches of the Anglican Communion, and good fraternal relationships between us will revive.


I wish you God’s help in your important work.


‘May the God of love and peace be with you’ (2 Cor. 13:11).


Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
13 November 2012

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Filaret: A Statehood-oriented Patriarch

Filaret & Ukraine: A Statehood-oriented Patriarch

The Life and Thought of Louis Massignon (1883-1962): Comparative political and theological perspectives - Conference on Tuesday 27 November 2012

At the Centre for Eastern Christianity, Heythrop College, in the Marie-Eugenie Room. All are welcome

  • Louis Massignon's influence on the teaching of Vatican II on Muslims and Islam: Christian Krokus, University of Scranton
  • Louis Massignon: The Prophet of Dialogue of Civilizations: Fabio Petito, University of Sussex
  • Responding to Islam as Priests, Mystics and Trailblazers: Louis Massignon, Kenneth Cragg, and Rowan Williams: Richard Sudworth, Heythrop College, University of London
  • Louis Massignon, Olivier Clément, Thomas Merton: Authenticity, Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue – a common bond, a common destiny: Stefanie Hugh Donovan, Heythrop
  • Louis Massignon and Jerusalem: Political-Theology and the encounter Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Anthony O'Mahony, Heythrop College, University of London

Here is the message from Patriarch Gregorios:
Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate

Cairo

Prot. 523/2012R 18 November 2012

Centre for Eastern Christianity

Heythrop College, University of London                        

From His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III

Greetings for the Conference

27 November 2012

The Life and Thought of Louis Massignon (1883-1962): Comparative political and theological perspectives

 

From Egypt, (where I am today attending the enthronement of His Holiness, Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church) and the very place where Louis Massignon exercised his mission as a Christian in love with Islam, by emphasizing the tradition of badaliyya or substitution, I am happy to send these greetings to your conference.

Here on 4 November our Archbishop George Bakar, Patriarchal Vicar of Egypt and Sudan, commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the repose of the Priest Louis Massignon († 31 October 1962) in the same church of Our Lady of Peace, where he had been ordained in 1950 by Bishop Boutros Kamel Medawar S.M.S.P., then Patriarchal Vicar of Maximos IV (Sayegh).

Here too lived Mary Kahil, an Egyptian Greek Catholic who had vowed with Massignon as early as 1934 to pray for Muslims and who devoted herself to Muslim women’s political and social causes.

Here too they launched, with Archimandrite Xavier Eid and others, Al Ikha ad-Dini (a still active Muslim-Christian Fraternity). Their influence reached the Second Vatican Council. Without them the Conciliar Document Nostra Aetate would not have seen the light of day in its definitive form with the well-known section on Islam, which now forms the basis for Catholic dialogue with Islam.

As Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem, I am glad to recall that Louis Massignon’s ideas flourished in the ambiance of the Melkite Church in Egypt, which had become a second home to our people coming from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine to work and develop the country.

Thank you for inviting me to greet you at this celebration of Massignon’s life and work at Heythrop College in the University of London. We hope we may organise jointly with you in this Massignon jubilee year a similar conference at our Liqaa Center in Lebanon.

Massignon can be our guide towards better understanding with Muslims and all our neighbours in this Arab Spring time of revolutions in the Middle East and of growth of Muslim presence in Europe.

Perhaps we may learn to be not merely in dialogue but in love with each other, as the Evangelist John reminds us, “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son.” (John 3: 16)

   Gregorios III

Thursday, 8 November 2012

DEATH OF PATRIARCH MAXIM OF BULGARIA

Vatican City, 7 November 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father sent a message of condolence to the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church following the death of His Beatitude Maxim, Metropolitan of Sofia and Patriarch of Bulgaria. "For many years", writes Benedict XVI, the deceased "dutifully served the Lord and His people. In the name of the Catholic Church, I accompany your mourning with my prayers ... and, participating in the mourning of the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, I give thanks to God for the good brought by the late Patriarch to his Church and to the people of his country. In particular, I recall the cordial welcome given to Blessed John Paul II ... in May 2002. I thank the Lord for the good relations the Patriarch developed with the Catholic Church, ... and I hope that this good rapport may continue to promote the proclamation of the Gospel".

Visit of Icon of Our Lady of Czestochova to Westminster

Homily of Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, on the occasion of the visit of the Icon on its pilgrim journey from across Russia and Siberia to Portugal. In London the Icon visited Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral before going on to the meeting of the Pan-Orthodox Assembly of Bishops of the Orthodox Churches in Great Britain. It was also taken to the triple sanctuary of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk, with its Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches. Thus the visit of the Icon celebrates many hopes for the unity of East and West, Catholic and Orthodox, especially towards the Alliance with the Catholic Church of which the Patriarchate of Moscow has spoken, and the "New Evangelisation of Old Europe" which Pope Benedict has made the heart of his pontificate, stressing the importance of Catholic-Orthodox unity in proclaiming the one Apostolic Faith to a contemporary society and culture which chooses death over life.

Tonight we welcome into our Cathedral the replica of the famous and much venerated icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa. It was commissioned in January of this year to be a witness to the Gospel of Life and to the Civilisation of love – pro Life and pro Family.



It was solemnly blessed in the shrine at Jasna Gora in Poland and has been part of a pilgrimage since June, taking it from Vladivostok in Russia to Fatima by Christmas. It will make its way through many nations – from Ocean to Ocean – and will be a sign of healing, reconciliation and hope.



How appropriate that this Cathedral, the Mother Church of Catholics here in England and Wales, should be the first resting place for the Icon before she continues on her travels. From here the Icon will be brought to the Pan Orthodox Assembly of Bishops and priests in Great Britain and Ireland who will receive it at the Church of the Royal Martyrs in Chiswick. This has enormous significance as Christians of the two ancient Churches of East and West join together in prayer, entrusting to her maternal intercession a reclaiming of the dignity of human life and of respect and support for the Family and of a restoration of family values.



The distinctive features of Our Lady of Czestochowa make her instantly recognisable throughout the world. Her face is deeply darkened – so much so that she is known as the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. The blackness comes from a fire the soot of which penetrated the paint of the icon. Also on the face of Our Lady are two scars. They were inflicted during a raid on Jasna Gora, the monastery where the Icon is enshrined. The raid was carried out by a sect known as the Hussites, who plundered the shrine and stole the sacred image of Our Lady. They placed it on a wagon but the story tells us that the horses refused to move. The icon was thrown to the ground. The one of the plunderers drew his sword and, out of frustration and anger, inflicted two deep strikes on it. To this day, the Icon bears the scars of that attack. And there is a third scar – inflicted by the arrow of a Tartar invader which struck Our Lady’s image in the throat.



The icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, then, has been the object of desecration, abuse and contempt. Scarred by assaults the message of this sacred image is a reminder in spite of anything man can do, the true beauty of God’s love will shine brightly.



How marred is our own world by such assaults on the dignity of human life – from the easy discarding of innocent lives in the tragedy of abortion, to the easy discarding of life as it nears its completion in the so called “right to die” and “mercy killing”. In a world which increasingly believes that it is in control of its own future and destiny, this cheapening of the value of human life leads to so many other indiscriminate killings of human beings through warfare, through crime and violence, through greed and self absorption.



So in the Litany of Our Lady of Czestochowa we shall invoke her prayers as the Mother of those who resist evil, the Mother of Orphans and the Mother of the mothers who weep. We bring to her our prayers tonight for all mothers who have suffered from the effects of abortion, those infants who have never seen the light of this world because they were killed through abortion, for all mothers who lose children because human life is not given its due respect and dignity.



How marred too, is our world by the assaults on the dignity and the sacred nature of marriage and family life. From the beginning God shows us that the family is a sacred unity given by him to provide stability for the human race. Jesus, God’s own Son, is born of a human mother. He is guided by her and by his foster father, Joseph. He is surrounded by the love and commitment of them both in the security of that loving family.



Today’s ideas of living with one another and entering into the commitment of marriage, the acceptance of unfaithfulness and sexual immorality, the provision in law of pre-nuptial agreements which is symptomatic of a general disregard for marriage, the proposed marriage of same sex couples – none of these can replace the ideal of the family – mother, father children – which God intends should provide stability for society as a whole. And where the family unit breaks down there are very real threats to the social order.



Let us pray fervently, today, before the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa that those who are in power will seek to uphold the dignity of human life until the tragedy of abortion and assisted killing is no more; and to support and strengthen the family and the values of family life.



May the Gospel of God ‘s love, always shining through human sin and the atrocities that we are capable of, shine also through this image of his wounded Mother as this Icon continues her Pilgrimage from Ocean to Ocean. May she inspire all who come to venerate her, to work and to pray for the Gospel of Life and the Civilisation of Love.



Our Lady of Czestochowa – Pray for us



+Bishop Alan Hopes



Westminster Cathedral, 5 November 2012