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News From Around the Orthodox World

• Damascus, Syria

The turmoil in the Antiochian Archdiocese in America continues as the recent cryptic Synodal decision from Damascus continues to be discussed, both in the Middle East and in the USA. In the past few days a new question have emerged, specifically concerning the "Praxis" received by the Antiochian Bishops in America.  According to Fr. Oliver Herbel of "FrontierOrthodoxy":

"A praxis is a letter from one’s spiritual leader in which the assignee’s title is stated as are the responsibilities granted to the assignee. So, a priest will receive a praxis/letter that states his title and his responsibilities to his assignment. A bishop may receive such a thing from a synod." 

Herbel then asks the following questions concerning the Antiochian Bishops:

"Where are the documents?...
If the Holy Synod sent the praxis, how can Metropolitan Philip “rewrite” it?
How can Metropolitan Philip call himself “Archbishop” if he’s just a "Mitropolit" of an "eparchia"?

Herbel then claims:

"I have also just been told this morning ( Editor: 9.13.10) by someone I trust but cannot name right now, that the issue concerning translation is still being kicked around. It seems people on the Synod of Antioch differ on the intent of this most recent statement. I say this without at all castigating Samn!’s translation work. That’s not the point of this statement. The point is simply to note that what was intended might not yet be fully conveyed."

• Nicosia, Cyprus has been informed that "...In a move hailed as 'historic,' the Holy Synod approved the text of a new charter rendering the Church of Cyprus truly autocephalous.

The new charter will be endorsed by the body 9.13.10 at the Archbishopric, during a ceremony to be attended by the President, political leaders and VIPs.

An autocephalous church is one that enjoys total canonical and administrative independence and elects its own prelates and bishops. The Cypriot Orthodox Church was granted autocephaly by the Council of Ephesus of 431.... Under the new charter, the Holy Synod will comprise of 17 members (16 metropolitans and the Archbishop), a number sufficient to allow it to regulate all internal matters, without the need to call a 'Greater Synod' involving the participation of bishops from affiliated Orthodox churches.

(Editor's note:  In 2006 it took a Greater Synod (including bishops from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Alexandria and Jerusalem) to call for elections to replace the then ailing Prelate, Archbishop Chrysostomos, who for years had been incapacitated from Alzheimer's disease.)


It is also empowered to put on trial, and pronounce sentence on, bishops and even the Prelate. Bishops will have the right to appeal such decisions with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul.

In addition, by a three-quarters majority vote the Synod will have the right to remove the Archbishop or a metropolitan on the grounds of incapacity due to ill health.

The new charter provides for a new method of electing bishops and the Archbishop. A list of qualified candidates will be drawn up and the public will be asked to vote. The top three candidates will then make it to a short-list, and the winner will be chosen via secret ballot by the Holy Synod."

• Moscow, Russia

It was reported today that a discussion  between the OCA representative in Moscow and two visiting Bulgarian bishops  on September 13th, included "...the recent news circulating about a petition for parishes of Bulgarian and Macedonian descent in the United States to return to the fold of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church." Contacted by for comment, Bishop Melchizedek, the locum tenens of the Bulgarian Diocese, explained the move was by a handful of unhappy individuals, but did not represent the views of the clergy or any parish of the Diocese. The Bishop explained that on the contrary, the Bulgarian diocese was taking a more active role in the OCA through renewed participation on the Metropolitan Council.  Sources in Moscow confirm the unusual nature of such stories in the Russian press last week, and attribute them to confusion engendered by Metropolitan Jonah's recent statements concerning the OCA's autocephaly and speculation concerning his meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion of the Moscow Patriarchate last week.

• New York, NY

A fascinating, devastating and controversial article on the recent Greek financial crisis and the role of one monastery in the meltdown has appeared in the latest issue of  the magazine Vanity Fair. You can read "Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds" here. )

• Chicago, IL

It was confirmed today that the the videos created by the three episcopal candidates for the vacant See of Chicago and the Diocese of the Midwest will be distributed to parishes throughout the diocese later this week. The election to select a nominee for presentation to the Synod for canonical election by the Bishops will take place in three weeks.

-Mark Stokoe




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