News From Around the Orthodox World
• NEW YORK
The website for the new "Episcopal Assembly of North and Central America" made its debut on December 17, 2010. (It may be accessed here.)According to the press release “ In addition to information on the Assembly’s history, establishment, and current activities, the site provides comprehensive lists of all member Churches and hierarchs; a wealth of informative documents, statements, and addresses highlighting its inaugural meeting; directories of Assembly agencies, endorsed organizations, commissions, consultations, and committees; a soon-to-be expanded directory of parishes and institutions; and a wealth of other information and resources.”
Among the “wealth of information” included on the site is a prominent link to Metropolitan Jonah’s recent keynote address to the Archdiocese of Canada where he refers to the OCA’s autocephaly as an “obstacle” and the OCA will have “to alter its position”. The OCA Metropolitan stated:
“We did not take into account the necessary conciliar dimensions of our autocephaly, either on the local level or on the international level. We discounted the other Orthodox communities in America expecting them to submit to us, and we tried to persuade the other churches to accept our autocephaly even if it was anomalous and problematic. None of this was helpful. The situation in the world was also something radically different 40 years ago when then autocephaly was given. It was the height of the Cold War. It was the time of active persecution of the churches under the Communists, and there was no free interchange between the churches. The autocephaly marks a beginning of an ecclesiastical self-consciousness of the OCA as a uniquely North American church, but it has now also 40 years of additional maturity.
The autocephaly was right for its time, but the times have changed, and there are new demands on us. We’re being called to enter in to the greater conciliar dialogue of the churches in a way that has never existed before both on the local and the pan-Orthodox worldwide levels. And how we understand our autocephaly, or have we have understood our autocephaly, has become an obstacle rather than an aid to our participation. Over the next several months, the bishops and other leaders of the Church will gather to discuss the question of how to proceed. Nothing has been decided as of yet. But if we are to be full participants in the Episcopal Assembly process, we will have to alter our position.” (Read the full transcript from Ancient Faith radio here.)
Former Archbishop Spyridon of America, in a December 20th interview with The National Herald - the first since his departure from the Archbishop of the Greek Archdiocese of North America in 1999 - made interesting observations on autocephaly in North America. The former head of the Archdiocese stated:
“TNH: Do you think that finally Autocephaly in America can be avoided?
SPYRIDON: No such issue has been brought to the table as of yet. But even if it were to be brought I don’t know what the outcome of such an attempt would be. For the Archdiocese to become independent and obtain the status of an Autocephalous Church is easier said than done. The new administrative structure of the Archdiocese (Archdiocese-Metropolises) as well as the new reality created by the resolutions of the last Pan-Orthodox Conference (Chambesy, Switzerland) feature autocephaly as a quasi-unattainable undertaking. Of course, we all know that for decades the goods of autocephaly have been persistently propagandized in certain Church circles. But I personally see no benefit from autocephaly. I can only see a greater separation from our Church roots and our origins.”
On 14 December 2010, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church received Mr. Philippe Beaulne, the new Ambassador of Canada. In a press release describing the visit, the Romanian Church summarized the Patriarch’s comments as follows:
“The Patriarch of Romania presented the difficult context in which the Romanian Orthodox Church had to unfold her mission for almost 50 years of communism in Romania and emphasised various aspects of the pastoral-missionary, social-charitable and cultural-educational activity of the Romanian Patriarchate during the last twenty years. His Beatitude mentioned among the priorities of the Romanian Patriarchate the intensification of the social work and of the religious service for the Romanian Orthodox communities abroad. In this context, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel underlined the need to set up an eparchy for the large Romanian Orthodox community in Canada.” (Read the full text here.)
(Editor's note: The “large Romanian Orthodox community in Canada” is presently serviced by 32 ROEA (OCA) parishes in Canada, as well as some 25 ROAA (Patriarchal) parishess scattered throughout the country, with the exception of the Maritime Provinces. The ROEA and ROAA are currently in discussions concerning unity - which apparently may not include parishes in Canada in a future, united Metropolitanate.)
• PIREAUS, GREECE
Major media were reporting today about an “Anti-Semitic Tirade” by the Metropolitan of Pireaus in Greece, Seraphim, whose remarks were carried on a live TV morning show throughout Greece. According to the NY Times:
“Leaders of Greece’s small Jewish community objected on Wednesday to televised remarks by a Greek Orthodox bishop who blamed the country’s financial problems on a conspiracy of Jewish bankers and claimed that the Holocaust was orchestrated by Zionists...
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that the bishop “said that there is a conspiracy to enslave Greece and Christian Orthodoxy. He also accused international Zionism of trying to destroy the family unit by promoting one-parent families and same-sex marriages.”
According to the news agency, when the bishop was then asked, “Why do you disagree with Hitler’s policies? If they are doing all this, wasn’t he right in burning them?” he replied: “Adolf Hitler was an instrument of world Zionism and was financed from the renowned Rothschild family with the sole purpose of convincing the Jews to leave the shores of Europe and go to Israel to establish the new Empire.” He added that Jewish bankers like “Rockefeller, Rothschild and Soros control the international banking system that controls globalization.”
+Seraphim (born 1956) studied Economics and Theology and received a license to practise law. He was tonsured a monk at the Holy Monastery of Pentelis in 1980.
In December 2000, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Holy Synod, elected him as Bishop and assistant to His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos (Harkianakis) of Australia. He was assigned to Pireaus in 2002. In 2009 Metropolitan Seraphim was one of six bishops who signed the manifesto "A Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism".
(Editor’s note: The Bishop is factually incorrect in many of his assertions. J.D. Rockefeller, the founder of the Rockefeller family, was not a banker, but an oil man, and was a tithing Northern Baptist. His grandson, Laurence, who was a banker, was also a Protestant Christian. The World Zionist Congress promotes Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people, and has never taken stands on one-parent families and same-sex marriages. And finally, there is no epirical evidence that Hitler was an agent of World Zionism.
Speaking of World Zionism, the following report concerning an “international” conference in Damascus was carried by the state news agency of Syria earlier this week. Among the many Christian leaders mentioned was Patriarch Ignatius of the Church of Antioch.
Islamic-Christian Fraternity Conference
(Dp-news – Sana)
DAMASCUS- The Islamic-Christian Fraternity Conference, held by the Ministry of Endowments and the Syrian Churches, started its activities on Wednesday. Delegations from over thirty countries participate in the conference, organized at Damascus-based Umayyad Palace.
Minister of Islamic Endowments (Awkaf) Abdel Sattar al-Sayyed said the Islamic-Christian fraternity in Syria is a historical fact and social need that the citizens have lived throughout history. He added that the Islamic and Christian messages laid the bases for justice and prohibited all forms of injustice, adding that Islam and Christianity agree on a core definition of justice and rights in all social, political and economic fields; which states that justice consists in rendering to every human his due if he is entitled to it.
Minister al-Sayyed said the Arab civilization, built by the Muslims and Christians, is a pioneering cultural experience in tolerance, which qualified it to play its role as a unique example of cultural dialogue. He called upon the Muslims and Christians to close the ranks against world terrorism, especially the organized state terrorism of Israel, intellectual terrorism and individual terrorism, according to an objective scientific definition of terrorism.
Minister Al-Sayyed said the Israeli practices are the gravest of our time as they violate human rights and values of justice and human dignity, describing them as a flagrant example of organized terrorism. He also urged for more Islamic-Christian cooperation which is the inevitable logic to encounter the Israeli heinous crimes....
(Editor's note: The article then summarizes the remarks of several Christian leaders.)
....In turn, His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim of Antioch and All East for the Greek Orthodox said that this conference is an important event that embodies the way in life in Syria across history. He added that there are those who commit crimes in the name of religion, and that religions are exempt from those who do as since all religions call for amity, peace and respecting humanity ....
Participants in the conference pointed out to the importance of national and Arab unity to face the challenges and Zionist schemes in the region, stressing the necessity of falling back on the common denominators between Islam and Christianity. They noted that Palestine is not just an issue for Palestinians, but is also the central issue of the nation, adding that the Arab people must preserve their independence and protect their national choices.
The participants said that the conference is considered to be a positive step towards consolidating the culture of co-existence between Muslims and Christians, thus leading to the creation of a world where values of justice, cooperation, respect and right are dominant.
They stressed that Syria enjoys national, religious and human awareness which makes it immune to risks and fears.
They pointed out that the call for holding this conference comes in harmony with the clear vision and witty methodology adopted by President Bashar al-Assad, who calls for solidarity through openness and mutual respect of humanity.
Participants indicated to the necessity of working to save the world from wars which brought indescribable sorrows to humanity and achieve international peace and security.
They said that the East is the source of civilizations and the cradle of monotheist religions, and that Syria has a distinguished place in the hearts of Christians and Muslims, noting that many popes and saints came from Syria, such as St. Maroun the founder of the Maronite church.
The participants affirmed that humanity needs unity in this age more than ever, and that the current reality requires all borthers in humanity – particularly Muslims and Christians – to communicate and coexist, stressing that religious tolerance is an inalienable issue.
At the conclusion of the Conference, the participants voiced their strong rejection of all the pretenses used by the Israeli Knesset to Judaize the occupied Syrian Golan, affirming that all the Israeli resolutions including the recent referendum are null and void according to international law and international legitimacy.
The participants rejected the Israeli policy of terrorizing and taking revenge on the Palestinian citizens, stressing the need to draw the international community’s attention to the danger of Israeli settlement activities, Judaization of the occupied Arab lands, and falsification of Christian and Islamic landmarks in Jerusalem.
They voiced their support of the Palestinian right to return, calling on national agencies to assist the Palestinians to restore their usurped lands and demanding that the international order distinguish between terrorism and just resistance, affirming that the Arab-Israeli conflict isn’t a conflict between religion, and that the Israeli terrorist that uses the cover of Jewish religion is the only source of organized violence against Christianity and Islam.
The participants welcomed in their recommendations the call made by the Synod for the Middle East for Islamic-Christian fraternity and coexistence and abandoning extremism, violence, terrorism persecution and exploitation.
They also lauded the Synod’s calls for establishing just peace in the region, applying the UN Security Council resolutions, and taking steps to end the occupation of Arab lands.
The recommendations added that the Synod’s affirmation of the importance of the Arabic language as an official language at the Synod and its recommendation for using it in the Vatican is an important step towards cooperation between Arab and Western Christianity.
The participants affirmed that the idea of contradiction between Islam and Christianity is a deceptive political thought sown to justify aggressions against the East, calling for confronting this misguiding thought and its negative repercussions.
They said that Christianity and Islam have a vital cultural space in Arabism and identity, calling for correcting the concepts of Orientalism and Occidentalism and ending prejudice against Arabs and Islam.
The recommendations forbade conflict and the use of all kinds of violence, stressing that religions tolerance is a higher Islamic and Christian virtue, noting that the term “religious minority” is a foreign term and expresses nothing in Arab reality, as Arab societies have an ingrained national identity.
They concluded by stressing in their recommendations the need to make the values of Islam and Christianity the subject of joint Christian-Islamic studies, conferences, forums and meetings.
The event discussed the importance of fraternity and unity between Muslims and Christians for encountering the challenges and dangers threatening the values and principles of the holy religions."
• Antiochian America
A new website named “Anaxios!” has been established to discuss and resolve " the problems facing our (Antiochian) Archdiocese" according to its, for now, anonymous publishers. The new site may be found here.
• New York
And finally, speaking of problems, Bishop Vikentios of the Greek Archdiocese made stunning allegations about Metropolitan Paisios' tenure at the Saint Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery in Astoria, N.Y., including charges that the Metropolitan sexually abused the Bishop’s brother, according to a December 19th story in the National Herald. The story follows:
"NEW YORK - Bishop Vikentios of Apameia has made stunning allegations about Metropolitan Paisios of Tyana tenure at the Saint Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery and its Dependencies in Astoria, N.Y., including charges that the Metropolitan sexually abused the Bishop’s brother, Spyros Malamatenios, who was 17 at the time. In a long interview with The National Herald, Bishop Vikentios (Malamatenios), a close associate of Metropolitan Paisios (Loulourgas) for 40 years and co-founder of the Monastery, outlined a sordid tale of sex and other alleged wrongdoings. In the lengthy interview - which was taken on tape - live and unconditionally at the Headquarters of TNH in New York, Bishop Vikentios made revelations of alleged serious excesses by the Metropolitan, including that he was involved with people of both sexes, including the young nun, Christonymphi, who now has given up the Monastic vows and talked to the police. Bishop Vikentios also revealed that, according to his information, the former nun had been pregnant but did not know by whom. Simultaneously, Bishop Vikentios asked “forgiveness from the victims’ of Paisios,” at least one of whom, Andreas Georgiou, is already launching a lawsuit against the Monastery and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Other alleged victims are expected to follow.
The Metropolitan left the Monastery after submitting two letters of resignation in October, citing health reasons, and returned to Athens, Greece. TNH called him at his residence there on Dec. 11 to give him the opportunity to comment on the allegations and the Bishop’s entire interview, but when the Metropolitan heard who the call was from he hung up the phone.
Bishop Vikentios confirmed reports that a gun was found by the Patriarchal Exarchy in the room of Metropolitan Paisios and that he also sold the golden offerings known as tamata* of the faithful at the Monastery’s Greek festival, also taking much of the gold to Greece, which was melted and made hierarchical crosses and pictorials. Bishop Vikentios alleged that even his own life is at risk. He stated that based on the Charter granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Chrysovalantou Monastery, and also according to New York State’s regulations governing the Legal Corporation of the Chrysovalantou Monastery, both interim Abbots appointed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey and Bishop Elias of Philomilion, are considered illegal. Vikentios said he believes that the Monastery will be driven into bankruptcy due to economic decline, and called Metropolitan Evangelos’ behavior toward him as “completely unbecoming” upon Evangelos’ coming to his residence at the church of St. Nectarios in Brooklyn, on Dec. 6, which he said could result in the arrest of Metropolitan Evangelos by the police.
Bishop Vikentios also said that the money delivered by the former nun Christonymphi to the Astoria Police Station he believes belongs to the Monastery and not Paisios.
He also talked about the role of a man identified as Konstantinos B., said to have uncovered the scandal, and who allegedly also participated in group sex events with Metropolitan Paisios. The man was said to have given that testimony to the police and the FBI. Here are some excerpts of the extensive revelatory interview of Bishop Vikentios, which will be published in its entirely in Greek in the weekly Magazine of The National Herald’s edition f Dec. 17-18.
TNH: Your Grace, I am tempted to ask, you Bishop Vikentios today and the then small teenage boy of 17 years old, Vasillios Malamatenios, going back to 1971, if you had any involvement in these pedophile, homosexual, sexual orgy activities with the Abbot or other participants including Mr. Konstantinos B.?
VIKENTIOS: No, never, never.
TNH: Did Paisios make any suggestions or erotic lure type your Grace to become his partner?
VIKENTIOS: I would define such a thing when I first came to America when I was a young boy in 1971.
TNH: What did Paisios tell you?
VIKENTIOS: I saw his attitude towards me and I sat down and explained to him “I see you as spiritual father and nothing more.”
TNH: Why, what did his attitude show?
VIKENTIOS: Look, you can tell when a man wants other relationships, you see it.
TNH: Did Paisios show that?
VIKENTIOS: Although I was underage, a 17-year-old child, I could sense this thing, so I sat down and explained to him that, “I came here to America with you whom I met in Jerusalem in 1969 as a spiritual man who listened to a sermon there in Jerusalem and lost my mind because we were not accustomed to such sermons. Initially I thought that Paisios’ approaches might were a trap; that he wanted to test me. We had read in Jerusalem that the spiritual fathers set these types of traps to supposedly try to test their subordinates.
TNH: Now, having all this knowledge and experience of these events, does the mind of Bishop Vikentios identifies with the mind of the then 17-years old Vasillios Malamatenios?
VIKENTIOS: Absolutely yes. Now, yes, but now I’m 57 years old, I’m not 17.
TNH: After all these that have transpired, the testimonies and the revelations about the pedophilia do you have any doubt any more about Paisios?
VIKENTIOS: Now there’s an issue that hurts me.
TNH: What do you mean, what is it?
VIKENTIOS: Now that I was in Greece, or rather I was in exile in Greece for a month, I found out that one of the victims is even my brother, Spyros Malamatenios.
TNH: What happened?
VIKENTIOS: He revealed to me everything since he came to America at age of 17, of what had happened to him. Unfortunately very bad experiences with sexual harassment by the Abbot and that’s why he had left after the death of my mother. He had disappeared, and I did not know where he had gone. Now that I was in Greece he told me that he was in Florida and did not want to see and hear anything about the Church and the clergy, nothing whatsoever.
TNH: Didn’t he tell you anything all these years?
VIKENTIOS: No, never. Now he told me that Paisios sexually abused him and harassed him until now.
TNH: Is it the first time that you disclose it?
VIKENTIOS: Yes, I have not told anyone. Admittedly I’ve mentioned it to my spiritual father.
TNH: Did you say it to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew?
VIKENTIOS: No, I have absolutely said nothing about my brother; it is the first time that I reveal it.
TNH: How did you feel when your brother revealed that to you?
VIKENTIOS: I better not say because I am a clergyman; if I was a civilian I might have thought very differently.
TNH: What do you mean?
VIKENTIOS: What everyone means when he comes to see that a person of his own has been abused also. Spyros is my only brother that I have.
TNH: How old is he?
VIKENTIOS: He is 50 years old and yet he has psychological problems. He did not get married. He lives in Greece alone, deserted. Every time he attempted to establish a family he felled because of his trauma he has experienced. He recommended me and I went and saw his psychologist to make me believe. I sat with his doctor and he told me that indeed, “Things are exactly as your brother has you recounted them.”
TNH: Didn’t you suspect anything?
VIKENTIOS: He never told me anything of what was happening between him and Paisios. It has happened in the years 1979 to 1980 since my brother came to America at the age of 17 years old.
TNH: Do you have any doubt now about Paisios?
VIKENTIOS: If I take into account the issue of my brother, I do not. He had no reason to lie to me, and when his psychologist told me that he has been taken these drugs and told me how the abused children feel after the abuse, I have no doubts. Paisios had said to my brother, that, “If you reveal of what is happening between us to Vikentios, the cooperation with Vikentios will be ended.
(Meanwhile, in July of 2009, Konstantinos. B., who lived for 13 years in the Monastery, revealed to Bishop Vikentios group sexual encounters in the room of Metropolitan Paisios on the Monastery’s third floor. Here is the story by Bishop Vikentios)
TNH: Are the persons named by the complainant, Mr. Konstantinos B. who had participated in group sex activity known to you?
TMH: Are they parishioners of yours?
VIKENTIOS: No one from St. Nectarios, they all are from St. Irene; people whom I know; who have grown up in the church, boys and girls.
TNH: Did the complainant, Mr. Konstantinos B., tell you about Nun Christonymphi?
VIKENTIOS: Of course, he told me.
TNH: What did you say?
VIKENTIOS: He told me about her relationships with the abbot and with him.
TNH: What kind of relationships?
VIKENTIOS: Sexual relations with the abbot and him (Konstantinos).
TNH: You mean all three together?
VIKENTIOS: In his words, of course.
TNH: Did you ever confront Christonymphi? Did you tell her what are these things?
VIKENTIOS: Sure. After the complaint it was the Feast of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou when I announced to the abbot about Konstantinos’ allegations, I confronted and I told her that Konstantinos who lived in the Monastery for 13 years told me many things that have transpired between you and the abbot; what do you have to say? I also told her how many times over the years didn’t I ask you to report to me if any visitor comes and wants something from you suspect it is wrong?
TNH: How did Christonymphi react when you told her all these?
VIKENTIOS: With tears in her eyes, without telling me yes or no.
TNH: What did you understand?
VIKENTIOS: I understood that definitely something is going on. I think she did not have the experience to pretend. I know her since she was 14 years old when she came to the Monastery.
TNH: How do you comment Christonymphi’s departure form the Monastic vows?
VIKENTIOS: It was unavoidable. I was expecting it after all that has been revealed that this girl is now liberated; she is no longer under the threat. She certainly came to her senses and said how is it possible to be a nun and get to this point?
TNH: Did she become pregnant?
VIKENTIOS: I heard that, but she has never told me.
TNH: Where did you hear?
VIKENTIOS: From the complainant himself, Mr. K.B. who told me that the nun was pregnant and had an abortion.
I asked him how do you know this thing, how can you certify that it is true and he replied, “I have evidence.”
TNH: At what age was she impregnated?
VIKENTIOS: I do not know, he did not tell that?
TNH: Who impregnated her?
Vikentios: I do not know that either.
TNH: What happened to Christonymphi’s brother, Nektarios, who had come to your Monastery to become a monk?
VIKENTIOS: He had come at some point when she had come to Monastery. He was wearing an anteri (esoraso.) Often he had left, sometimes left to go home and he came back on the weekend with his father.
TNH: How old was he?
VIKENTIOS: Minor, in other words he is one year older than Christonymphi. If Christonymphi was 14 years old when she came to the Monastery, her brother was 15. Of course I had seen him many times going up to the third floor.
TNH: In Paisios room?
VIKENTIOS: Yes, especially on Saturdays after Vespers. I was calling Paisios on the phone asking him that “Nektarios is coming up, for what reason is he coming?” Paisios replied that he comes “for confession.” I told Paisios couldn’t he go to confession down in the chapel? Is it necessary to hear his confession in your room? And he answered me, “Why are you a tyrant, why torture me, can’t hear confessions in my room? Do you doubt me?
TNH: Why you were saying to Paisios all these? Did you suspect him?
VIKENTIOS: Well, seeing a minor child to climb in the Abbot’s room at 10 o’clock at night to go to confession when there is a church inside the Monastery where the abbot could hear the confession.
TNH: Why Nectarios left and he did not become a monk?
VIKENTIOS: I do not know, I heard because of sexual harassment.
TNH: Where did you hear that?
VIKENTIOS: I think his father has said it to somewhere and they told me; I personally have not talked at all with the father of the child.
TNH: Is it true Paisios took Christonymphi with him on trips to Greece and that they lived together in your apartment in Athens?
VIKENTIOS: Of course it is true. Even during his last trip to Greece when I came back and he left on August 30 to Greece, he sent me a message to send Christonymphi to Greece. The message was sent to me by nun Christodouli of blessed memory who had returned from Greece. I immediately told her to, “Tell greetings to Paisios because we were in non-speaking terms due to my interview to TNH about the situation at the Florida Dependency, that if the Abbot wanted something let him call me, and since I am the Deputy Abbot I will not allow Christonymphi to go to Greece.
TNH: Why Paisios wanted Christonymphi there?
VIKENTIOS: I was told she wanted her to drive his car and go to Kyllini where he used to go every summer and have warm baths and inhalations.
TNH: Is it true that clergy of the Church of Greece had informed the Ecumenical Patriarchate that nun Christonymphi accompanied Paisios in Greece?
VIKENTIOS: It is true, because those clergy had spoken to me that the picture is anything but good for an abbot of a Patriarchal Monastery. Not only that, but there were visits at various restaurants with the abbot which were attended by the Nun. It was something that had created conflict among us several times, because it was not appropriate."
On Dec. 2, the Holy Synod in Constantinople, presided over by Patriarch Bartholomew heard the charges against Paisios from the Episcopal team sent to New York to investigate. The Patriarchate decided not to punish him - but only accept his resignation and remove him permanently from the Monastery post. According to the National Herald, the Archdiocese has paid out $18 million in claims for sexual misconduct in the past decade.
- Mark Stokoe
• Tamata are votive offerings made of rectangular pieces of metal with miniature body parts shaped on them. They are made of tin, silver or gold, and often placed on icons.