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.

Thursday 28 February 2013

Spiritual Guidance on Mount Athos

8-10 March 2013
a conference of the Friends of Mount Athos at Madingley Hall, Cambridge
  • Metropolitan Kallistos - "Spiritual Guidance  in the 18th Century, St Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain, St Paissy Velichovsky and the Philokalia"
  • Sister Seraphina, Tolleshunt Knights & Oriental Institute, Oxford - "The Athonite Tradition of Spiritual Fatherhood from St Gregory Palamas to Father Sophrony Sakharov"
  • Frs Kirill and Methody, St Petersburg -"Spiritual Guidance in Mount Athos and Russia, and the Theological Notion of the Person"
  • "Athonite Spiritual Guidance in the Tradition of Elder Joseph the Hesychast" - Fr Philotheos of St Andrew's Skete, Karyes
  • Sister Theoktisti of St John The Forerunner Monastery, Larissa - "The Renewal of Women's Monasticism in the 20th Century through Athonite Guidance"
  • Bishop Alexander Golitzin, Orthodox Church in America
  • Dr Andreas Andreopoulos, University of Winchester - "The Challenges of Spiritual Guidance in Modern Greece"
More details from the Friends of Mount Athos website

Cardinal Sandri Makes Appeal For Good Friday Collection

Annual Collection Supports Holy Sites and Communities Living in the Region

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY, February 27, 2013 thanks to Zenit.org - In a letter sent to Bishops around the world, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, made an appeal for the Good Friday Collection in support of the Holy Land. The people of the Holy Land, along with with their pastors he said, “ live the mystery of Christ, Crucified and Risen for the salvation of mankind.”

“On account of its ecclesial dimension, this ancient duty is an ever gratifying opportunity. As Easter approaches, it is all the more appropriate as an expression of the faith that the Church, under the guidance of Pope Benedict XVI, is intensely living, on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.”

Cardinal Sandri stated that Vatican II opened the Church to the world, while maintaining the tradition that comes from the Christian origins. The Holy Land, he said, “ is the silent witness and living custodian, thanks to the Latin communities of the Patriarchal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Franciscan Custody, as also to the Melkite, Maronite, Syrian, Armenian, Copt and Chaldean faithful active there”.

Citing the words of Blessed John XXIII and the Servant of God Paul VI, Cardinal Sandri emphasized the cruciality of mankind’s dignity and desire for peace. The examples of past popes to present have shown the importance the Holy Land has in the Christian faith. Recalling Blessed John Paul II’s words after his visit to Israel, Cardinal Sandri stated that the late pope described his visit as "a moment of brotherhood and peace, [to be remembered] as one of the most beautiful gifts of the whole Jubilee event.”

Cardinal Sandri went on to say that the assistance that comes from the annual Good Friday collection maintains not only the Holy Sites but also the communities that dwell around them.

“Together with institutes of men and women religious, the funds collected provide immediate relief to the catastrophic consequences of war and other emergencies,” he said. “Through a qualified network of pastoral, educational and health care specialists, these resources come to the aid of families, often saving lives that have been rejected: the old, the sick, and the disabled. In addition, aid is provided to those without work and to youth in search of a brighter future. In every case, the collection seeks to build up human rights, especially the right to religious liberty.”

The prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches also applauded the ecumenical and inter-religious efforts in the region to aid in promoting peace and unity among people of all faiths in the Holy Land.

Concluding his letter, Cardinal Sandri thanked all the faithful for the support they have offered to the Holy Land with the annual collection. “These have earned the gratitude of the Supreme Pastor of the Church and ours, too, for by their faithful witness in the midst of suffering, they remind the world of the consoling promise of the Risen One,” he said.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Christians in Today's Egypt

7 March 2013
Talk by HG Bishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom
7-15 pm, St James' Church, Sussex Gardens, W2, after an Anglican eucharist at 6-30 pm
arranged by the London Branch of the Fellowship of St Alban & St Sergius

Two Priests, Eastern Catholic and Orthodox, in Syria Kidnapped By Armed Rebels

ALEPPO, February 19, 2013 thanks to Zenit.org
Christians in the Syrian town of Aleppo are trying to contact the kidnappers responsible for the abduction of two priests: Fr. Michel Kayyal of the Armenian Catholic Church and Fr. Maher Mahfouz of the Greek Orthodox Church. Both were kidnapped on February 9thby a group of armed rebels patrolling the road that leads from Aleppo to Damascus. Attempts at contact with the abductors, however, have failed so far.

In an interview with Fides News Agency, Archbishop Bourtros Marayati, the Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, has said that the kidnappers had contacted the brother of one of the abductees.

"The so-called kidnappers phoned the brother of one of the two priests and said only: 'They are with us'," Archbishop Marayati said. "But they did not explain what is behind the 'we', and have not asked for any demands. On our behalf, we have limited the area in which they are held hostage, and we are trying to open a channel of negotiation with the tribal leader of that area. So far our attempts have not had concrete effects.

"We do not know what the matrix [of the group] of kidnappers is," he continued, "if we are dealing with rebels, bandits. We wonder why this choice of kidnapping the two priests was made, among the many passengers of the bus attacked by the kidnappers. "

Father Kayyal and Father Mahfouz were traveling aboard a public bus, heading to the Salesian house in Kafrun. Thirty kilometers from Aleppo, the kidnappers stopped the vehicle, checked the passengers’ documents and only then did they ask the two priests to get off, taking them away immediately.

Archbishop Marayati did not confirm rumors that the priests are being held for a ransom of 160,000 euros. The Archbishop of Aleppo told Fides that since yesterday the area of Aleppo where he resides and the pastoral settlements of the Armenian Catholic community are at the heart of explosions and armed clashes between the loyalist army and rebels.

Saturday 16 February 2013

Statement by His All-Holiness Bartholomew at the announcement of the retirement of Benedict XVI, Pope of Rome

Statement by His All-Holiness at the announcement of the retirement of Benedict XVI, Pope of Rome | Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

Upon being informed on the way to his native island of Imvros of the imminent retirement of Pope Benedict from the Petrine ministry on the Throne of Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew issued a formal declaration and personal statement to the media, responding with sadness to the news. His All-Holiness closely cooperated with Pope Benedict during his papal tenure, issuing joint statements on contemporary problems facing humanity and realizing official exchange visits, but above all resuming in 2007 the conversations of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches (established in 1980 and interrupted in 2000). Immediately upon his election, His Holiness Pope Benedict accepted a formal invitation from His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to visit the Phanar in November, 2006, on the occasion of the Patronal Feast of the Church of Constantinople. He also invited the Ecumenical Patriarch to deliver the only address by an ecumenical leader during the official celebrations in St. Peter’s Square for the 50th Anniversary since the opening of the 2ndVatican Council in October, 2012. Below is the text of the formal statement by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

It is with regret that we have learned of the decision by His Holiness Pope Benedict to retire from his Throne, because with his wisdom and experience he could have provided much more to the Church and the world.
Pope Benedict leaves an indelible mark on the life and history of the Roman Catholic Church, sealed not only by his brief papacy, but also by his broad and longstanding contribution as a theologian and hierarch of his Church, as well as his universally acknowledged prestige.
His writings will long speak of his deep theological understanding, through his knowledge of the Fathers of the undivided Church, his familiarity with contemporary reality, and his keen interest in the problems of humankind.
We Orthodox will always honor him as a friend of our Church and a faithful servant of the sacred proposition for the union of all. Moreover, we shall rejoice upon learning of his sound health and the productivity of his theological work.
Personally, we remember with emotion his visit to the See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate over six years ago, together with the numerous encounters and excellent cooperation, which we enjoyed throughout the duration of his primatial ministry.
From the Phanar, we pray that the Lord will manifest his worthy successor as the head of the sister Church of Rome, and that we may also continue with this successor on our common journey toward the unity of all unto the glory of God.

Friday 15 February 2013

Rep of Kyivan Patriarchate Comments on Pope's Resignation

Not only a view of Pope Benedict's resignation, but also of the Moscow Patriarchate's response to it:

Rep of Kyivan Patriarchate Comments on Pope's Resignation

Exhibition on Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Underground Period Held in Rome

Exhibition on Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Underground Period Held in Rome

Fr Robert Taft Interview: Are You Part of the Problem, or Are You Part of the Solution?

Interview with the Preachers' Institute, by Deacon Andrei Psarev - February 11, 2013

The legacy of Archimandrite Robert Taft S.J. is so significant that no one who is seriously interested in the evolution of the Divine Liturgy can afford to ignore it. In his interview the esteemed scholar, indeed, the “patriarch” of Byzantine liturgical studies, tells us about his life-long relations with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church from the homeland and the diaspora, and his attitude toward Orthodoxy itself. Fr. Robert’s integrity and openness make a conversation with him always a pleasure and privilege.

Deacon Andrei Psarev: Fr. Robert, I did a report on the Orthodox Women’s Conference in which you participated, on Long Island. I gave a very positive report on your talk. Later, a colleague of mine, a priest, sent me a query. He asked me why it was that a non-Orthodox person was teaching us Orthodoxy. So, my first question is a straightforward one: Why should an Orthodox reader of this site listen to you, who are not only a Latin heretic, but even a Jesuit?

Fr. Robert Taft, S.J.: My answer would be that if he doesn’t want to listen to me, then he shouldn’t listen to me. This isn’t the Soviet Union, this is America, and people listen to whom they want. If he doesn’t want to listen to me,  [as you wish!]

Some years ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art held a beautiful exposition of Russian Icons. When they do that sort of thing, a specific exposition [of icons], the Metropolitan Museum usually opens it with a seminar over of couple of days, where they invite scholars whom they consider knowledgeable experts on various aspects of what is displayed. I was one of the people invited. When I finished my talk a gentleman who (I later found out) was from the ROCOR stood up and challenged me, asking me what right I had to be talking about these things. I said, “The right I have is that the Met invited me to do so. Maybe they should have invited you instead. If they had, you’d be giving the talk. I’m giving the talk because I was invited to do so, and because I also happen to know something about it.” That was the end of that discussion. Later I came to know that man, and we even became friendly.

AP: Right. But I’m interested in explaining to our reader that it isn’t a problem to listen to an outsider. In my opinion, sometimes it takes an outsider for us to understand our own tradition better. That was what I meant.

RT: It’s always good to see ourselves not just as we see ourselves, but also as others do. But of course, to have that mentality, you have to be someone who wants to learn, who is open, in other words.

I have spent my entire life trying to build bridges to Orthodoxy. The world is full of people who are bridge destroyers. They want to destroy the bridges that already exist. That’s not me. I want to reach out to other people. As to why I do so — let me begin by giving you some background, otherwise you’ll never understand why I’ve spent my whole life doing this.

AP: Sure!

RT: I entered the Jesuits as a young boy — seventeen and a half years old. I was a novice. With me in my class in 1949, the two-year novitiate class, there was a young fellow-novice named Stanley Marrow who came from Baghdad, and he was a member of the Syrian Catholic Church, a small church that came from the non-Calcedonians and entered into communion with Rome. And I said to myself, “What’s this church?” I didn’t know anything about them; I didn’t know that these people existed. Since I’ve always been a very curious person, I of course looked into this. I wanted to learn something about my Catholic Church that I didn’t know.

So I read some books about the Eastern Churches and I was immediately disappointed and disturbed, and even angered, because it appeared to me that these Eastern Catholic Churches, had been treated very poorly by the West. They were treated sort of like US Indian reservations: they were helped financially, maybe, but kept under control, you see.  As a result they underwent Latinization. This angered me. I decided to look into it and I began to study. That was my first introduction to the Christian East.

Then a professor came to teach us, a priest named Fr. Patrick Sullivan, who came from Fordham University. He had just finished his doctorate and he came to teach us Greek. He told me that there was a Russian Center called Soloviev Hall at Fordham University, and that there were Jesuits who were trying to build bridges to the Russians. “Wow,” I said, “That’s wonderful! That’s something I’d like to do myself.” So I immediately began to study Russian on my own and to read books and so on. I fell in love with Russian spirituality, Russian culture, Russian iconography. I was intelligent enough to know that the inheritor of these things was the Russian Orthodox Church, which was being persecuted.

Then from 1956 to 1959 I was sent to the East. I taught at Baghdad College, and I became much more acquainted with the Christian East because Baghdad was a place full of all of the Eastern Churches. Especially the Armenian Church was very strong there.

As time went on this interest increased and I requested my superiors to permit me to go to Fordham University to do Russian Studies and to learn Russian. My main interest was focused on Russia and its spiritual culture, because Russia was being persecuted. Everybody, of course, was being persecuted in Russia. Stalin was an equal-opportunity persecutor, you see. Hitler persecuted the Jews; Stalin persecuted everybody.

So, they allowed me to go to Fordham. While I was there I started to visit the Russian Orthodox Churches in the city with Fr. Nikolai Bock. He was the last representative of the Tsarist government in Rome when the Bolsheviks took over. He was just the secretary, not the ambassador, but he happened to be in Rome when the Bolsheviks took over. He refused to return to the Soviet Union. He was a married man. I think he went to Japan with his wife and became a teacher of English and Russian there. Then his wife died, and he decided he wanted to become a priest.  He was a man of the old, pre-Soviet Russian culture.

He took me around to visit the NY Orthodox Churches We started out with the cathedral of the Patriarchal Church of St. Nicholas. I remember very clearly his exquisite courtesy. We rang the bell. A very tall, distinguished clergyman answered. He had on only a podriasnik, no cross or anything. After he had shown us the church, Fr. Bock asked him in Russian, “With whom do we have the honor of speaking?” He said “Metropolitan Boris.” I found out later that he became Metropolitan of Odessa.
That was the first experience. Then we went to the ROCOR cathedral. We visited the beautiful Old-believer style chapel [the Chapel of St. Sergius on the ground floor of the Synod Headquarters at 93rd and Park Ave]. I attended the Liturgy there celebrated by Metropolitan Anastassy.

AP: That was in ’58?

RT: Let’s see. It would have been ’59 or ’60 maybe.

AP: Fr. Bock was a Greek Catholic priest, right?

RT: No, he had been a Latin Catholic, but when he became a Jesuit they insisted that because he was a Russian he should adopt the Russian tradition. He was a man of the old Russian Imperial culture, with exquisite manners.

At the ROCOR cathedral, I attended the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Metropolitan Anastassy. I saw him doing prostrations, and the subdeacons had to hold him up because he was very old at the time. I remember it very clearly. From there we went also to the OCA cathedral, and so forth.

Why did I want to do this? Because the ROCOR, especially, has always been known for the perfection of its liturgy. The ROCOR tries to be very faithful to the typicon. So, I used to go there frequently when I had the time. I was a graduate student and had to do my work. I also visited Jordanville and met Archbishop — I guess he was a bishop then — Averky. I visited the beautiful cathedral there. I went everywhere I could.

That was my initial contact with Orthodoxy But it wasn’t just with ROCOR. It was with Orthodoxy in New York in general. This only intensified my interest especially in Russian culture and Russian liturgy. I remember that when Sister Vassa  (Larin) — a ROCOR nun of course — when she asked me if I would help her choose a topic for her doctoral thesis, I told her that Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky) would be rolling over in his grave. She said, “Who is this man who knows of Metropolitan Antony? Where did he ever hear of him?” Well, I used to read Pravoslavnaya Zhizn’, Pravoslavnaya Rus’ and Orthodox Life and so forth.  I used to faithfully read the ROCOR literature. Half of my books on the bookshelf over there are from the ROCOR, my liturgical books that I use for the Divine Office.

As for other contacts, when I was in Rome, especially later as a graduate student, I had contacts with the Moscow Patriarchate. When I was a graduate student in Rome I lived in the Russian College. The Russian College at that time opened itself up much more than had been done previously, under the new rector Fr. Paul Mailleux. He was a wonderful man, very much loved by the Russians. He had run the school for Russian boys, which the Jesuits had in Paris, where Fr. John Meyendorff had been a student. He was very well known. Fr. Paul Mailleux opened up the Russicum and built bridges to the Moscow Patriarchate. So we always had two Russian Orthodox priests from Moscow who were studying with us. I think the first two were Protopriest Vladimir Rozhkov — he was a very well know priest and pastor of a large, important church in Moscow — and then — what was his name? — I knew him so well. His name  will come back to me in a minute. Yes! It was Protopriest Pyotr Raina.
They would go home for their visits, and then they would come back with their old Soviet  cardboard suitcases full of dried fish and mushrooms and their bottles of Stolichnaya. They would call me and we would start eating mushrooms and all of that. It was a wonderful relationship. They had their Orthodox chapel on the top floor. We would sing at their Divine Liturgy on Sunday, and they would come and sing with us at the All-night Vigil the night before, and also at our Divine Liturgy. I was there at the famous Liturgy where Met. Nikodim (Rotov) celebrated in our church, and he gave scandal to some of the Orthodox by giving communion to whoever came to communion. Those were different times. There was no hostility. We didn’t go to communion together, but we sang at their liturgy and they sang at our liturgy. I always sang in the choir. It was a wonderful, wonderful time.
And so, during that period of time, I met people like Hieromonk Kirill (Gundyaev), when he was just a newly-ordained Hieromonk. He’d only been ordained two or three years the first time I met him. Then I saw him later when he was already a bishop, in Rome on visits and so forth. I remember he said to me that my Church Slavonic was very clear and understandable, but with a definite American accent. I felt like saying, “My accent is better than your priests in the cathedral in New York.” You know, the Americans.

As I mentioned earlier, I also knew the Metropolitan of Leningrad, Nikodim. I remember once that someone had told him that it was my birthday. So he telephoned me, and I had to laugh because he said in Russian “Govorit Leningradky” – “Leningradsky  speaking.” I found that rather amusing, putting together “Metropolitan” and “Leningradsky.”  So I met also Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan) who is now in Kiev. At that time he was in Germany, I think. He came to Rome. I also met Patriarch Alexey I, when he was still in Estonia. He came to Rome and I met him. I met Filaret Denisenko. I was his chauffer when he was in Rome. I met all of those people. I was nobody just a student. But I had very many contacts and many interesting experiences.

Why have I kept in contact with ROCOR? Largely because through my ROCOR students I came to meet several ROCOR priests in the United States. It was  through ROCOR students like Sister Vassa (Larin) that I met, of course, Protopriest George Larin and his Matushka Catherine and then, through their contacts, people like Protopriest Serafim Gan, who also works in the Synod and his Matushka Irina. So I celebrate Russian Christmas with my ROCOR friends every year. We get together, I still see them. I receive emails from Fr. Serafim’s parish and so forth. It’s a normal thing.

I used to tell my students when I was still teaching: There’s only one fundamental question in life — Are you part of the problem, or are you part of the solution? I have spent my life trying to be part of the solution, and I’m proud of it.

AP: Thank you for that.

RT: In other words, I’ve tried to build bridges to a culture that I came to love, Russian Orthodox culture. People speak of “Russian Culture.” Orthodoxy is Russian culture. The Soviets tried to deny that. Anybody who knows anything about Russian history knows that Russian culture is Russian Orthodoxy, you see. So I pray every day for the Church of Russia, not that it convert to the Catholic Church, but that it convert to the best roots of its own true Orthodoxy. And I pray every day for the Catholic Church that it convert itself to a much more collegial living of Christianity, instead of this excessive emphasis on papalism that we have now which, in my opinion, is not the true, historical Catholic position. That papal centralism has become greatly exaggerated in modern times. But that’s not the way things were previously. Previously in Catholic theology, when they spoke of the “magisterium,” this word in its original sense referred to the teachers of theology. And Rome intervened, not to make a decision but, usually only if one side in a theological dispute was calling the others heretical. When Rome intervened, they usually didn’t try to solve the problem, they simply said: “Neither side can call the other heretical! Stop it.”

So, much of what we have now is modern evolution in the Catholic Church, and I think we should return to a more traditional view of a church where much more attention is paid to the bishops and local synods throughout the church. We would have a more balanced view of reality. That’s my opinion.

AP: Fr. Robert, you knew both Fr. John Meyendorff and Fr. Alexander Schmemann at the same time you had your experience of the Russian Church Abroad. How would you compare the members of ROCOR to Frs. Meyendorff and Schmemann? What would be your assessment of their various contributions?

RT: Oh yes, Fr. Schmemann and Fr. Meyendorff were both extraordinary men, and I knew them both. I first met them in the early 1960’s at the Jesuit-run Soloviev Hall at Fordham University. Fr. Alexander and Fr. John and some other Orthodox theologians from St. Vladimir’s Seminary would participate with us in discussions of important Orthodox-Catholic issues. This was an early stage of Orthodox-Catholic ecumenical dialogue, and I have very positive memories of both Schmemann and Meyendorff. Of course Fr. Meyendorff was a much stronger scholar than Schmemann, who was gifted in a somewhat different way. Fr. Alexander was a charismatic and very handsome man, and extremely articulate. The resonance of his few works to this day is something I’ve called “the Schmemann phenomenon.” One rarely hears a lecture on modern-day Orthodox liturgy or life without quoting Schmemann at least once. He’s really unequaled in that sense. But of course Fr. John was a great Byzantinist and theologian, and is of course greatly admired inside and outside of Orthodoxy, and also in purely-academic circles. So, both of them, I think, contributed to lifting the bar, so to say, of what Orthodox theology can be. And they were both married priests – not monks!
The history of the ROCOR was, of course, determined, just as the history of the OCA, by the vicissitudes of Russian Church history in the 20th c., but in a different way. The Russian émigrés that were ROCOR survived the tragedy of losing their homeland mainly by focusing on inherited Russian Orthodox tradition, if I may make such a generalization. They nurtured a love for Old Russia, inspired by a sense of mission with regard to those suffering in the homeland under the Soviets. Thus the ROCOR had this focus on the homeland that they had left behind. The OCA, on the other hand – if I might again make a generalization, began to focus on the here and now of their new home, the United States, inspired by charismatic intellectuals like Schmemann and Meyendorff. So I think this was a difference in focus, though I don’t take it upon myself to judge any Sister Church. Because my ecclesiology is the ecclesiology of Vatican II, which recognizes all the Orthodox Churches as Sister Churches. And I know through my own experience that the 20th c. was a very, very complicated time for all our churches, and particularly for Russian Orthodoxy. I wouldn’t be quick to judge the different ways that the Russian Orthodox managed to survive the consequences of the Soviet tragedy. My hat goes off to all of them, who managed to preserve and live their Orthodox faith in our common Lord, regardless of what their politics were.

And I was very pleased to see the ROCOR enter into communion again with the rest of the Orthodox. . It would be good; I think, if eventually there could be one Orthodox Church in the United States. I mean this business of having everybody, every national group, separate, is not the best solution for American Orthodoxy — but that’s not my business. It’s not up to me to judge others.

But I think that each church in the Orthodox family has made a contribution. One of ROCOR’s contributions has been remaining faithful to the typicon, to the liturgical tradition. I think that the OCA’s contribution has been to try to have an Orthodoxy that is both truly Orthodox and truly American. They are very successful, I mean the majority of the clergy are converts, you know. Unfortunately, they’ve been having troubles lately with their metropolitans, but they’ll get away from that too, if they have the courage to be themselves. And that is, American Orthodox. That is a beautiful thing for all of Orthodoxy. So I think that each jewel in the crown has made its contribution. My contribution has been to reach out to these people, these cultures, and to study them honestly, not engage in what I call confessional propaganda.

AP: Fair enough.

RT: I have tried to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. My latest paper that I will be giving at the North American Academy of Liturgy congress is an attempt, an ecumenical attempt to reconcile the Catholic and Orthodox views of the consecration of the Holy Eucharist. I try to show that both of these are different expressions of a system and are truly reconcilable, and I give the evidence for that. I’m a bridge builder.

AP: You mentioned your loyalty to the Second Vatican Council. At the same time, I understand that you don’t see it as necessary for the Orthodox Church to have a similar council that would overhaul the entire Byzantine Rite. Would you comment on this?

RT: As I’ve always said in my writings, I am not a liturgical reformer. I am a liturgical informer. Has the Byzantine liturgy ever changed? Of course. I wrote a small book called “The Byzantine Rite: A Short History.” And I am the first one that had ever tried to really sit down and show how the Byzantine Rite (as they call it in scholarly circles) developed. Some people think that it fell down from heaven like a ready-cooked pizza. For anybody who has ever studied anything, that’s simply ridiculous. I’ve spent my entire life studying how the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom has changed. I’ve published huge volumes on this. The final one — on the Anaphora, the Eucharistic Prayer — is in print. But someone told me at a conference of the ROCOR (I won’t say where) — one of the lay people in attendance (it wasn’t a scholarly conference) asked the question, “When was it that the Catholic Church stopped saying ‘O Heavenly King’ at the beginning of its services?” What?! That would be like saying, “When did the Americans in New York stop speaking Russian?” How do you answer a question like that?

So, we need to really understand. But, as I say, I’m not a liturgical reformer. I’m a liturgical informer. What does that mean? It means that I respect the fact that it’s not scholars, or (much worse) individual priests, who should fool around and change the liturgy. Their obligation is to follow the tradition. The changes in the liturgy are a decision that should be made by the councils, the hierarchy. But they should do it with some knowledge of what they’re doing. That’s my job. You want to know what the Great Entrance originally was? Or you want to know whether the Cherubic Hymn was split by commemorations? You ask me. You don’t ask a bishop, because the bishop probably doesn’t know. I don’t say that in any arrogance. Bishops have their ministry, and I have mine. My ministry is information, not reformation. I’m perfectly content with the liturgy the way it is. But I do think that there are some things that could be improved — saying the prayers out loud and so forth — and I’ve written on all of these things.

You see, that’s one thing that I can affirm of myself. In the old days when the popular new program for word-processing was WordPerfect, and they used to say “What you see is what you get,” I’d say “That’s me. What you see is what you get.” I don’t have any pretenses, because everything that I’ve thought in my entire life has been written down and published. You want to know what I think? Just read it. It’s all out there. I’m not hiding anything. You want to know how the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom developed? Read all of those volumes up there on my bookshelf. Some of them have been translated into Russian.

That’s also a good thing, if I may say so, about the Catholic Church. You don’t have to guess what the Catholic Church thinks, because the Catholic Church believes in paper. If you want to know, what the Catholic Church thinks about ecumenism — some people in the ROCOR think that ecumenism is a heresy — but they don’t know what ecumenism means to Catholics. They think that ecumenism means looking for a least common denominator that everybody can agree on. That’s not what the Catholic Church says ecumenism is. If you want to know what the Catholic Church thinks about ecumenism, don’t guess. Google! You’ll find a document that tells you. See? So you don’t need to guess what the Catholic Church thinks. You can find a text that will tell you exactly. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with it. But you don’t have to guess.

The uses of history have to be left to the historians, because they are the ones who know the story. I look on this as something that we have to overcome. There’s no point debating about it. I try to do it by extending my hand to the Orthodox. Have I been successful? That’s for the Orthodox to judge, and for God to judge. As I’ve said, I’ve tried to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

AP: Definitely. How do you view the reconciliation between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Church Abroad? Does it entail both gains and losses? If so, what are they?

RT: Unity of the Church is always a gain; always a gain. I think that ROCOR has been able to preserve its own identity, which is a good thing because it’s had a long separate history now. The ROCOR’s founder Antony (Khrapovitsky) — I don’t know if one can speak of him as the founder. I don’t know if that’s the right term. But he was certainly a great and holy man. There’s no question about that. And his heritage deserves to be preserved as a part of the spirit of ROCOR. And I think that, as far as I know the details of the agreement that ROCOR has been able to preserve its identity. Basically, communion is what church means. So anything that improves communion I look upon as positive.

In any event, I have come to care a great deal about my Orthodox friends, mainly because of the many Orthodox students who have studied with me. So if someone wants to talk about – “What right do you have to talk about these things?” – first of all, I was asked these questions. Secondly, I didn’t drag these students to study with me. There are two liturgy professors at St. Vladimir’s: Paul Meyendorff and Fr. Alexander Rentel. Where did they do their doctorate? With me.

AP: And both of them are serious scholars. Thank you very much, Fr. Robert.

International Congress in Rome Dedicated to Co-Patrons of Europe

Saints Cyril and Methodius: A Bridge between the Eastern and Western Church

ROME, February 14, 2013 thanks to Zenit.org - The two brothers, Cyril and Methodius - the saints and co-patrons of Europe whose feast day is today, February 14, according to the Roman calendar - are the bridge between the Byzantine and Slavic worlds. Their work of spreading the faith through the creation of the Glagolitic alphabet is a sign of overcoming geographical and cultural boundaries in the process of constructing Christian identity.

The International Congress "Sts. Cyril and Methodius among the Slavs: 1150 years since the beginning of the mission" will be spread over two days: the first, February 25, will be held at the Pontifical Oriental Institute, and the second, February 26, at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

The celebration of the event in the academic world - as part of the calendar for the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI - is a very timely exhortation to evangelize as an ecumenical action of unity in the Church, remembering their mission as a significant action of a particularly prophetic ecumenical nature.

The more meaningful questions and issues will be taken up and developed by the speakers invited to speak, vis-à-vis different contexts: historical, political, ecclesiological, liturgical, ecumenical, in full respect for the continuity of tradition, and through a comparison and analysis of the new missionary methods.

The creators and organizers of the event are His Eminence Cardinal Jozef Tomko (Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples), and His Excellency Archbishop Cyril Vasil (Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches), who will be assisted by a committee of Slovakian professors and collaborators for the scientific preparation of the event.

For more information on the International Congress, go to: www.pontificio-orientale.com

Thursday 14 February 2013

Bishop Venedykt: God Calls on the UGCC to be a witness of unity | Ukrainian Catholic University

God expects each of us to witness and invoke unity. We, Greek Catholics, are the living and real model of the unity of the Church, which has been tested for centuries. Therefore, we have to feel responsible for the cause of unity and to be a model of it, Auxiliary Bishop of Lviv Archeparchy Bishop Venedykt Aleksiychuk said on January 22 during a lecture at UCU .entitled “Our Christian Identity.”
Владика Венедикт в УКУThe bishop raised the issue of Christian unity and the role of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in ecumenism.

Read the full report from UCU here:
Bishop Venedykt: God Calls on the UGCC to be a witness of unity | Ukrainian Catholic University

Monday 11 February 2013

Delegation of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada Discusses With Ecumenical Patriarch Relations With Churches in Ukraine

Delegation of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada Discusses With Ecumenical Patriarch Relations With Churches in Ukraine

Pope Benedict's Address on Resignation From the See of Rome

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013


Tuesday 5 February 2013

Serge Keleher, larger than life

Serge Keleher, larger than life

Archbishop of UOC-Moscow Patriarchate Explains Why Church Does Not Promote Autocephaly

Archbishop of UOC-Moscow Patriarchate Explains Why Church Does Not Promote Autocephaly

Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict to His Beatitude Louis Raphaël I Sako

VATICAN CITY, February 04, 2013 thanks to Zenit.org - Here is the translation of Pope Benedict XVI's Letter to His Beatitude, Louis Raphaël I Sako, newly elected Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans.


To His Beatitude Louis Raphaël I Sako,
Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans

With great joy I heard the news of the election of Your Beatitude to the Patriarchal See of Babylon of the Chaldeans.

I give thanks to God the Father, and gladly accepting the request that you have addressed to me in accordance with the Sacred Canons, I grant the Ecclesiastica Communio, accompanied by my fraternal charity in Christ.

In extending you my heartfelt congratulations, I implore the Lord to fill you with every grace and blessing. May He enlighten you tirelessly to proclaim the Gospel in the living tradition that dates back to St. Thomas the Apostle. May the Good Shepherd and Lord sustain you in the faith of the fathers and grant you the zeal of the martyrs of our times and of the past, to preserve the spiritual and liturgical patrimony of the venerable Chaldean Church, as its Pater et Caput. May your ministry be of comfort to the Chaldean Christians in the homeland and in the diaspora, but also to the entire Catholic community and the Christians who live in the land of Abraham, as a stimulus to reconciliation, mutual acceptance and peace for the Iraqi population.

While I commend your Person to the Most Holy Mother of God, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing upon you, extending it to your esteemed predecessor, Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, the Bishops, priests, religious and upon all the beloved children of the Chaldean Church.

From the Vatican, February 1, 2013

Monday 4 February 2013

Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako request Ecclesiastica Communio from the Bishop of Rome

VATICAN CITY, February 04, 2013 thanks to Zenit.org - Here is the translation of the request by the newly elected Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Louis Raphaël I Sako, to Pope Benedict XVI. 

* * *

January 31, 2013

Most Holy Father,

The Synod of the Chaldean Church, convened by Your Holiness in Rome at the House of Spiritual Exercises of Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio of the Passionist Fathers from January 28, 2013, and chaired in Your name by His Eminence Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, after invoking the Holy Spirit and praying for the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God, in an atmosphere of peaceful sharing, as convened in its last meeting, has elected me Patriarch of the Chaldean Church and, succeeding His Beatitude, Eminence Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, who, with courage and zeal led the Chaldean Church in a critical juncture in its history, I have taken the name of Louis Raphaël I Sako.

In accordance with the ecclesiastical customs and the Canons of the Eastern Churches, I implore of Your Holiness, the "Ecclesiastica Communio", promising to be faithful to Our Lord in the announcement of the Good News and to work for unity and harmony, as well as to lead with zeal and dedication Your flock entrusted to me.

To Your Holiness, Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church and the Successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, I express my loyalty, reverence, obedience and filial devotion, and beg your Apostolic Blessing upon my humble person in the new mission, upon the Pastors and all the faithful of the Chaldean Church, which, with courage, hope and living testimony faces everyday life both in our homeland and in the diaspora.

To your beloved person I express heartfelt thanks for the Paternal care and pastoral concern expressed particularly towards the Chaldean Church.

Louis Raphaël I Sako,
Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans

[Translation by Peter Waymel]

Saturday 2 February 2013

Pope Benedict appointed 2 Eastern Catholic Cardinals

VATICAN CITY, February 01, 2013, thanks to Zenit.org- Pope Benedict XVI has appointed several new Cardinals created in last year's consistory to appointments in several Vatican dicasteries.

Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, head of the Maronite Catholic Church, was named a member of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Indian Cardinal Baselio Cleemis Thottunkal, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, was named a member of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.