Every second Saturday of the month, Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ.
4pm Divine Liturgy. Next: 13th November 2021

Very sadly, the Divine Liturgy in English at 9-30 am on Sundays at the Holy Family Cathedral, Lower Church, have had to be put on hold. Until the practicalities we cannot use the Lower Church space. Hopefully this will be resolved very soon. Please keep checking in here for details.

Owing to public health guidance, masks should still be worn indoors and distance maintained. Sanitisers are available. Holy Communion is distributed in both kinds from the mixed and common chalice, by means of a separate Communion spoon for each individual communicant.

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.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Cardinal Koch waiting for Pan-Orthodox Council prior to an ecumenical breakthrough

Kardinal Koch: Ökumenisches Warten auf ein gesamtorthodoxes Konzil – kipa/apic

A stumbling block in relations between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches continues to be the Pope's primacy, Cardinal Kurt Koch said in an interview with the press agency Kipa in Einsiedeln in Switzerland. It is now necessary to wait for the Council before there are any further decisive ecumenical steps. - Cardinal Kurt Koch was staying on 20 May in Einsiedeln on the occasion of an Aid to the Church in Need pilgrimage .

In 2007 in Ravenna (in Italy), there was a meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. On that occasion an agreement on the question of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome was near, Koch said.

For the first time separated churches stated in a common expert document that, according to the tradition of the church that at a universal level there was pre-eminence of a "Primus" as had the Bishop of Rome during the first millennium. - The document was entitled "Ecclesiological and canonical consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church; conciliarity and authority in the Church ."

In the 46 points of comprehensive document, both sides agreed in Ravenna that Rome "took first place in the order of the undivided church of the first millennium and that therefore the Bishop of Rome was first among the patriarchs". He was first of the five major Sees of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. However, what remained unclear was how this primacy should be exercised on a universal level, said the text.

There was "disagreement on the interpretation of historical documents from that time on the privileges of the Bishop of Rome as the Primus." The primacy at local, metropolitan and universal level is a practice firmly grounded in the canonical tradition of the Church said the joint statement. But "while the fact of primacy at the universal level of both East and West, is accepted, there are differences of understanding regarding the manner in which it is to be exercised and also in terms of its biblical and theological basis."

Rejected by the Moscow Patriarch

In March 2011, however, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill I declared, according to Cardinal Koch, that he would never approve the document of Ravenna. So there is now no other solution than waiting for the work of the future pan-Orthodox council whose results would be important for the future of ecumenism, said Koch.

The preparatory work for the implementation of a pan-Orthodox council began half a century ago. A council would gather for the first time for over 1,100 years the 14 Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The Swiss Kurt Koch, former Bishop of the Diocese of Basel has been since 1 July 2010 President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity at the Vatican. He followed the German Cardinal Walter Kasper. Pope Benedict XVI chose Kurt Koch not least because of his good knowledge of the Reformed churches.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Church of the East synod to discuss dialogue with the Vatican

Press Trust of India / Thrissur May 20, 2012 15:25 IST

The Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East (COE), one of earliest Christian congregations which has adherents in many countries, including India, will be held in Chicago, US, from May 24 to discuss topics like resumption of dialogue with the Catholic Church.

Three prelates from India would attend the eight-day meet of 15 metropolitans of COE from different continents. According to Mar Apream, Metropolitan of the church in India, besides himself bishops Mar Yuhannan and Mar Augin from the country would attend the synod.

The Assyrian Church, which flourished in West Asia and whose adherents scattered over different countries over the centuries, has now its headquarters in Chicago. Aprem, who is also the church's Patriarchal Delegate to India, told PTI here that the Synod would take up the key issue of resumption of Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and ACOE.

The dialogue between the Vatican and the COE began in 1985 with a view to ironing out the theological and liturgical differences between the two churches and a common "Christological Declaration" was signed by the head of the Assyrian Church, Mar Dinkha IV and the late Pope John Paul II in 1994.

Mar Apream, who is the Co-chairman of the Dialogue Committee, said the schism in the Church occurred at the council of phesus (Greece) in 431 AD, about 1600 years ago, centring mainly on the vexed issue of Theotokos (Mother of God or Bearer of God) and Christokos (mother of Christ or Bearer of Christ).

The Anaphora (Liturgy) of the Assyrian Church was approved by the Catholic Church, especially by the Syro-Malabar Church and the Chaldean catholic church, which was earlier opposed by a large sections of the Roman Catholic clergy on the ground that it 'chaldeanisation' of Catholic church.

Another area of difference between the two churches concerned the seven sacraments. The Vatican insists on acceptance of the seven sacraments like Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction), Holy Orders (Ordination of priests) and Matrimony, Aprem said. But the COE recognised only five sacraments like ordination, Baptism, Oiling of Unction, Oblation (Eucharist) and Absolution (Penance), he said.

Present pontiff of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict, who headed the Congregation for Faith earlier, had shown keen interest in the ACOE- Vatican dialogue. Aprem expressed the hope that prelates from other countries like Australia, Canada, USA, Iran, Iraq, Sweden and India would support resumption of the Church of East synod to discuss dialogue with Vatican.

Friday 25 May 2012

US Ukrainian Bishops make first Ad Limina Visit in their own right

Interview by Archbishop Stefan by Ann Schneible

ROME, MAY 24, 2012 thanks to Zenit.org

Bishops and archbishops from the Eastern Catholic Churches in the United States were in Rome last week for their ad limina pilgrimage, including the Ukrainian Rite archbishop of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia.

Previously, Eastern bishops coming to Rome for their ad limina pilgrimage had been part of the region to which they geographically belonged. They would therefore make their visits with bishops of the Latin Catholic Church. This time around, however, bishops from the Eastern Catholic Churches in the United States have been given their own region.

Among those visiting Rome last week was Ukrainian-rite Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Archeparchy (archdiocese) of Philadelphia. A Canadian native, the archbishop spoke with ZENIT about the visit.
ZENIT: This is the first year that the Eastern Rite Churches have had their own region in the ad limina visits. What have been the benefits of this arrangement?

Archbishop Soroka: This whole set up of the region is nice because we were always part of the Latin Church regions. We had our place there – they were very welcoming, and we had a very good relationship. But America has, uniquely, 12 different Eastern Catholic Churches; there are 17 or 18 bishops now. And with that number, we asked our brother Latin bishops to consider a separate region. If you have a separate region, then you automatically have representation on many major committees in the world.

This also mandates that we step forward more… We've had to step forward, take our responsibility, contribute. We're learning much more about one another, and our role in the larger Church.

This [ad limina] experience is much more intense; we're living together, we're praying together, we're eating together, we're going to the congregations speaking and sharing our challenges and the gifts and the negatives that we have to face. We have something of uniqueness in every Church, and it's really beautiful to hear that in every congregation in different kind of missions of the Church.

ZENIT: What makes the Ukrainian liturgy unique?

Archbishop Soroka: What's beautiful about the liturgy is that it invokes all the senses of a person. It's beautiful how you enter and continue to ask for Our Lord's presence, and asking for forgiveness of sins. Also the liturgy constantly prays for those in leadership and authority, be they in the Church or in civil government, and those who are involved in our protection. It also prays for those who are in misfortunes or difficulties or challenges. The method, the singing, the petitions takes us ever deeper into hearing the Word of God and meditating on the Word of God, and afterward to receive him in the Eucharist; and in the Eucharist we are transformed in Christ's Body.

ZENIT: What are some of the pastoral considerations for the Archeparchy of Philladelphia?

Archbishop Soroka: Some of our areas were settled around 125 years ago, and we've had four or five waves [of immigrations over the years]. Many of those communities are declining in numbers. The orders are dying, and many of the young of those communities have moved to other centers. They don't have the same vibrancy that they once had.

But on the other hand, particularly in New Jersey, parts of Pennsylvania, and in much of the East Coast, you have a whole new wave of immigrants who are arriving for economic reasons, due to the difficulties in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. The traditions and the culture is strong [among these immigrants], but they need to be formed in the faith. That is a great challenge for us; how do we speak to them in a manner they will understand and teach them the basis of the faith?

Also, about a third of our clergy comes from Ukraine, and they have adapted very well. We screen them very well before coming; not everybody can adapt to a new land, so you really have to search that out with individuals. I'm very pleased with my priests. We're going now through some renewal in how they present the Word, in how they celebrate the sacraments, that we have more charity and activity in helping others in the parishes. We want the parishes to be much more vibrant.

ZENIT: A pastoral letter was released this past December, "The vibrant parish: a place to encounter the living Christ," which focused on renewing the parish life. Could you speak a little about this?

Archbishop Soroka: It is a program that the Ukrainian Church throughout the world, under the leadership of our major archbishop in Ukraine, is embracing in different ways. We had committees working on this over a number of years preparing this. It involved bishops from all over the world, and we were involved from the States very actively.

It really calls people to reflect on how they offer the Word of God. How do you get your message across? People want to be stimulated in their interest. How well prepared are we? How do we transmit the faith? [How are we taking into account the daily experiences of people to help] them to bring the life of Christ in their daily experience? One has to be more in touch.

And then there's the quality of how we celebrate the sacraments and the liturgies. Do we just go through it, or do we give it life and invite people to sing more? It's a beautiful tradition of our culture, that we involve singing and responding; how well do we do that?

It has to be almost that you feel the kiss of God in that experience of the liturgy. If people don't have that, then where do they experience God in an intimate way? It has to be in that worship.

ZENIT: The United States is facing a dynamic presidential election. How can the Church help guide the people to make informed decisions to help promote the culture of life?

Archbishop Soroka: All of the society is around us, and there is pressure to conform to all the different trends and changes. But I think that what we have not done is to educate people in the faith. How can they understand the culture of life – not to just know "thou shalt not," but "why?" What is the essence, the beauty, the gift of life?

I think this is a beautiful invitation for us to step forward on [the theme of] marriage. Have we looked at our own Church within our Church? How many now bother to seek an annulment? They just live with someone else, or "marry" someone else, and so on. That tells me how we have failed in encouraging that person's understanding of what marriage means. Our people are being drawn in to all these different societal trends because they are lacking a good understanding of their faith.

Also, we need to use modern means to get the message out; even if it just challenges people to think, and question something, and to go further to [learn more], I think that's what we have to do. Not to get high on academia – that's important in its own place – but I really believe that for my Church, for my faithful, that we need to raise the level of their catechetical knowledge.

Society is drawing everyone into this conformity of thinking, and we need to give people what they need to challenge that, and to question. 


Saturday 12 May 2012

Any Springtime in the Arab Spring? Why Lapsed Catholics Are Potential Muslims

Islamic Law Expert Says He's Lost Some Optimism
By Edward Pentin

ROME, MAY 11, 2012 thanks to Zenit.org - Islamism, an ideology that demands complete adherence to the sacred law of Islam, imbued with a deep antagonism toward non-Muslims, is on the rise and appears to be consolidating.

This is most evident in some post-“Arab Spring” nations where Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood, banned under previous regimes, are gaining popularity. Their resurgence is also being witnessed, albeit to a slightly lesser extent, in parts of Asia and West Africa.

And as the ideology spreads, displacing indigenous Christians and other minorities as it does so, Muslims are increasingly seeing Sharia Law – the moral code and religious law of Islam – not only as the hallmark of what it means to be Muslim, but as integral to the constitution of the Islamic state.  

This is the disconcerting observation of Professor David Forte, an expert in Islamic Law, who gave a talk this week in Rome to the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.

What concerns Forte most is that this push to make Sharia the constitution or legal system of a Muslim state is not part of traditional Islam. “That’s never been true before,” he told ZENIT. “The Islamic state has always been separate from Sharia, though would be enormously influenced by it and would enforce all kinds of parts of it, but it would also enforce all kinds of parts of the law that were contrary to it. And the mullahs, the ulama [arbiters of Sharia Law], would agree to that.”

But he said such an idea of a mixed state “is off the table now” and the trend is moving instead “towards an implementation of the Sharia as the legal system.” Such a development is “disappointing” not only to him, but also like-minded, reformist Muslims.

The reason for this trend appears to be the merging of the ulama tradition with the modern nation state. Under the imperial regimes of Islam, the dangers were always limited by customs and other forces within the empire. “The rulers would limit the Sharia, and in turn be limited by the Sharia - it was a very mixed and complex political structure,” explained Forte, who lectures in law at Cleveland State University. “But with the coming of the nation state and the rise of the Islamists in the 20th century, they wanted to make the Sharia superior, but also to tie it to the monopoly of force of the positivistic modern state.”

“The two of those together are very worrisome,” Forte said.

So what does this mean when it comes to possible democratic reforms among Muslim-majority states -- a hope enkindled by the Arab Spring? Can these Muslim states ever be truly democratic? “The short answer is we don’t know,” said Forte, pointing out the issue boils down to both the form and substance democracy could take.

“The forms of election only matter if they’re based upon that rock-solid vision of what the human person is,” he explained. “So from what we see of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology, they’re very much in favour of various forms of democracy, but they want the forms to point to a compulsory Sharia law on other people. So I’m not sure the substance of democracy is there.”

As to whether the Arab Spring will in general be a positive chapter in the history of the Middle East, Forte believes it depends on whether the Arab world becomes self-educated as a result. “If their educational establishment opens up more, so that people read more, then they can become more civilised, in which case they may return to the idea of the Sharia as having a limited part in society, not a total part, and apply it perhaps to worship, or inheritance,” he said.

The mixed state, he added, “may derive from the fact that the people don’t believe the Sharia suits their sense of individuality and dignity from their democratic reforms. That’s the hope, but we don’t know whether that will actually work out.”

Sharia is also not necessarily an irreformable legal system as it has shown historical precedent for change -- a reality that could represent a sign of hope, worthy of further study. “The content of the Sharia is, if you look at it in classical terms, liberal and reformist in its initial era and then as it became solidified, archaic in some ways,” he said.

Sharia law has traditionally had three permanently inferior classes -- women, slaves and unbelievers -- and continues to practice archaic elements of the law such as physically chastising wives and disfiguring people for theft. But Forte pointed out that slavery was “something that was essentially part of Sharia but which was gotten rid of.”

“I’ve yet to come across any of the often hatefully-rabid mullahs calling for a return to slavery,” he said. “I find that curious; it may be revealing and it’s a wedge that needs to be explored.”

As for the future of Islam and Islamic states as a whole, however, Forte sounded a less positive note. “I say jokingly that I was more optimistic 10 years ago,” he said. “Now I’m cautiously pessimistic.”

* * *

One of the most interesting declassified documents to be discovered in Osama bin Laden’s lair in Pakistan was a note written by a US al-Qaeda official suggesting lapsed Catholics were rich pickings for conversion to Islam.

In the memo released last week, American al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn told Bin Laden in January last year that Catholics were “fertile ground” for conversion, “particularly after the rage expanding against the mother church [Vatican] as a result of its scandals, and policies refused by many of its public.”

Gadahn singled out Irish people in particular, saying they “were the most religious of atheist Europe,” and moving toward secularism. “Why do not we face them with Islam?” he asked.  

Gadahn’s regrettable observations to some extent fulfill one of Pope Benedict XVI’s warnings made during his controversial Regensburg lecture of 2006: that secularism, borne out of a post-Enlightenment, positivist and materialist way of thinking, leads to an insufficient capacity to reason.

“Attempts to construct an ethic from the rules of evolution or from psychology and sociology, end up being simply inadequate,” the Pope said. “A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.”

Professor Forte believes in this area in particular, the Pope has been prophetic. “We didn’t realise how deep a sociological insight he had in the function of reason,” he said. “Benedict understands the sociological impact on a society which gives up on right reason and uses reason only for narrow instrumental purposes. That’s the type of society that becomes bereft and famished for some sort of spiritual home. And the Islamic faith comes across as a very simple, practical faith.”

He pointed out that secularists and intellectuals who have lost Christianity may easily regard Islam as a kind of spiritual Unitarianism (a belief that typically rejects formal dogma in favour of a rationalist approach to belief). And yet he said that “right reason, reason that looks for first principles,” would resist Islam because its current philosophical basis “is almost solely instrumental – not as it was in the first centuries of Islam.”

“If you had a vibrant intellectual tradition that embraced natural law, a good deal of those intellectuals would see the value of faith because it seeks a first principle,” said Forte. “But if you have a deconstructive philosophical structure where you don’t look for right reason, then people look anywhere for a faith.”

He added: “It is not that you don’t have faith and reason to guide you, it is that you don’t have the faith ‘in‘ reason to reach the right results. In such a case, you’re open to being persuaded by any number of influences.”

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Orientale Lumen - Monastic East-West Meeting IX - Minster Abbey

28 May - 3 June 2012

The understanding of grace in monastic traditions East and West

St Mildred's Priory, Minster Abbey

More details on the Minster Nuns website

Tuesday 1 May 2012

New Bishop of Lungro for Italo-Albanians

Archimandrite Donato Oliverio (56) as the new Eparchial Bishop of Lungro for Italo-Albanians in Continental Italy. Bishop-elect Donato was educated at Cosenza, Grottaferrata, and Rome. He is an alumnus of the Pontifical Greek College, the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. He has published articles on catechesis and iconology, and has edited the Italian edition of the Apostolos (lectionary).

The Bishop-elect was ordained priest in 1982. He has served as parish priest, eparchial director of catechetics, moderator of the curia, and protosyncellus (vicar general). Since 2010 he has been the Delegate of the Apostolic Administrator. Bishop-elect Donato speaks Albanian and Italian and has a knowledge of French and Greek. His Episcopal Consecration will be July 1 in the Eparchial Cathedral of Lungro.

Society of St Maximus, Baltimore - a new Chapter of SSJC

In the Baltimore area, there started in 1995 an ecumenical group, The Society of Saint Maximus the Confessor. The name was suggested by a co-founding then Orthodox priest, Father Chrysostom Frank, since St. Maximus (venerated in both East and West) was the quintessential Byzantine theologian and yet had such a high regard for the Roman Church - and also helped the East understand some of the differences with the West, even regarding the controversial use of the Filioque in the Latin tradition. Perhaps St Maximus could be a model of both fidelity (he gave his life for the Truth) and openness of mind and heart, as he mediated between east and west in hours of misunderstandings.

More recently, under the guidance of Father Paschal Morlino, OSB, the Society has affiliated with the Society of Saint John Chrysostom (which sponsors the excellent Orientale Lumen Conferences in DC and elsewhere). Father Paschal is bi-ritual.

The group, of mostly Catholics and Orthodox, meets several times each season on a Sunday evening at Saint Benedict Parish in Baltimore.

If anyone is interested and would like to join us, we'd love to have you! Contact us by email and we will gladly give details and directions. We are blessed to have among our participants clergy and laity of both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches! Good fellowship, good food, and an experience of unity in Christ! Ut unum sint!


Light of the East, May-June 2012 from Youngstown-Warren Chapter

Light of the East, May-June 2012, the newsletter from SSJC's Youngstown-Warren Chapter is now available here.