Thursday, July 28. 2011
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I very much enjoyed reading the essays of Fr. Farley and Anonymous. They were articulate, clear thinking, and raised the entire level of the debate. I do have one issue, however, with Fr. Farley's essay. He states that we cannot change either Scripture or Tradition. I agree, however, what he does not suggest is just how often we have gone about re-interpreting Scripture or Tradition. Too often our contemporary debate is based on what we perceive as Tradition, as seen through the lens of history. As I have stated here in the past, we might not like history, but like what happened, or hate what happened, it is what it is. We did indeed have married bishops; we did indeed have women as deaconesses; we did indeed have women priests (I have seen or heard at least two references to them) and in one isolated case, we have recognized a woman, as a saint, (and I have seen her icon in some English & ROCOR parishes with a large number of converts), who was consecrated a bishop. We may not like it, but history is what it is, and no matter who complains, yells, stamps their feet or throws a tizzy on the floor, it is history. Perhaps the heresy of which Fr. Farley speaks is denying history and Tradition, rather than debating it? Just a thought.
#1 Sean O'Clare on 2011-07-28 16:36
I agree with #1, and for this reason, I am glad that the Anonymous reflection is right there to debunk the description of the issue as "uncontroversial." I have no particular interest in the issue of homosexuals in the Church- someone ought to remain calm where such emotionally-charged issues are debated- but I do take issue with Fr. Lawrence's reflection for two reasons. First, I regard the linking of the homosexual issue to the issue of gender roles in the Church as pernicious and stemming from a false understanding of the topic, and second, I believe the notion of a definitive "answer" to "heresy" which he proposes is a symptom of the syndrome which has paralysed the Church in its dealings with the world since at least the beginning of the Turkokratia.
The issue of gender roles in the Church is extremely complex from a historical perspective, and in no way uncontroversial. It is one of a long list of issues the Church had not dealt with prior to its long captivity and consequent frozen-in-time mentality. A comparison of the roles of women in the Church before and after Constantine shows that the Church was heavily affected by the prevailing attitudes in upper-class Roman society- beyond the loss of female orders, the fact that there were tens of thousands of known Byzantine female saints in the first millenium and a bare handful in the second. A quick perusal of the ways in which these supposedly self-evident roles were manifested legally, socially and ecclesiastically in Byzantium and Russia would turn the stomachs of even the most hard-headed today. Unfortunately, seminaries tend to teach an "all-up," artificially consistent and selectively supported version of the Tradition, which fails to acknowledge it for what it is- the continuing relationship of self-revelation of God to his people. The Tradition gives us the tools we need to seek God, not immediately or self-evidently the comprehensive truth about every aspect of human, or divine, nature.
Divine nature was the subject of debate for the first thousand years, as new questions were posed, and answers arrived at usually in spite of the institutional Church rather than because of it or any pronouncements it made. Indeed, it was the very thing Fr. Lawrence proposes, the ability to cut off debate with a pronouncement (given a sympathetic Emperor) that most endangered the truth. This is not to say that the Church should never pronounce doctrine, but rather that to do so definitively is properly the last step of a long process of self-understanding.
Peremptory statements presuming to cut off debate are a route taken far too often in modern Orthodoxy. With bold pronouncements on the nature of the tradition on one hand and vague obfuscation of the historical record on the other, modern Orthodox polemicists can make their freeze-dried version of the tradition say anything their fear wants it to say. It is fear that is the true theme of Fr. Lawrence's reflection- fear of the outcome of debate, and fear of our inability to handle it. Final statements about issues that have not been properly debated yet in the Church are meaningless. To ask Christians of the Apostolic age whether they were monophysite or Chalcedonian would have been a meaningless question, because if anyone had thought about these issues, they were tabled in favour of more pressing matters, like immanent martyrdom.
Now the Church must begin to address the gaps in its anthropology, because 1. it is our moral obligation insofar as these gaps cause suffering and love demands it and 2. because the society with which we are called to engage (and consistently fail to) will not even look at us until we have done so. We are not the Protestants. Our rudder is the Grace of the Holy Spirit, both now and throughout history. To clam up now would be to renounce our calling to be all things to all men.
#2 Motovilov on 2011-07-28 21:27
I agree with Fr. Farley that the current debates are symptoms of a deeper problem. It seems odd to me that when I go to work, go shopping, go to court, elect politicians, that we all realize that women function perfectly fine in positions of authority, as senators, judges, school principals, bosses, etc. Frankly, women are often better at it. But when we come to Church, we have a different filter for selecting leaders. I agree with Fr. Farley that we need to submit to our Tradition in these matters, but I don't think our Tradition calls for different standards in different spheres. To accept this idea would also seem novel, and is the Fr. Alexander Schmemman's definition of secularism, where Religion basically re-presents a moral world of the past, or surrounds itself with a virtual society.
We can't have it both ways: we humans don't have theological natures, whereby women can't be leaders, and also secular natures, whereby they can. Fr. Farley even talks about the fact that the old christological controversies have now been replaced by arguments about human nature. Indeed, we seem to be falling into an anthropological Nestorianism, where humans have multiple and competing natures.
The predicament we're in seems like a deeper problem than just deciding to move on with a male (non-homosexual) clergy.
#3 steve knowlton on 2011-07-28 21:47
I have a great deal of empathy for Fr. Farley and others I have met over the years who have migrated from other Christian denominations to the Orthodox Church over the issue of homosexuality. These refugees have brought their western ethical baggage with them, and for the most part they feel integrated into the Church. These refugees did not so much join the Orthodox Church as they fled their original churches. The current discussion must be very painful for them.
As the anonymous reflection on Orthodox pastoral care points out, moral theology has a very checkered history. In more recent times Orthodox theologians have borrowed heavily from the Roman Church and warmed its moral theology over and tried to adapt it. Near this same reflection is news from Russia that the Church there has stepped back from its absolutist stance on suicides and has prepared a consolation rite for family of those who take their lives. Similar positioning is now taking place with respect to homosexuality now that we understand more about it. Pastoral response must take new information into account.
Pronouncements that there is a “consistent and constant” teaching about this issue over two millennia is just plain false, as partially demonstrated by the anonymous reflection. Discreetly ask about this from other Orthodox priests, especially those who are silent, and you will find more support for the reflections of Frs. Robert and Alexis. The most vigorous opponents are often those who have converted from western Christianity to the Orthodox Church.
The writer of the anonymous reflection makes reference to the Rite of Adelphopoesin* (Making Brothers – only found in the most comprehensive of euchologia and then only at the back of the book), a rite which structurally mimics the Rite of Marriage and contains many of the same rituals (joining of hands, use of crowns, the circumambulation of the couple around either the tetrapod or the Holy Table, exchange of kisses, the feast after the service).
To be sure the Mystery of Marriage is reserved for heterosexual couples only; same-sex marriage can not, will not and should not be available in the Orthodox Church as it is the “consistent and constant” practice of the Church to make it available only to opposite-sex couples. But a pastoral response to the issue of same-sex unions may be the use of the Rite of Adelphopoesin, which goes back in manuscript form (see a few examples below) to the 8th century, and which I understand anecdotally, is still in use, albeit rarely, in parts of the old world.
*Grottaferrata Γ.Β. VII [10th c. – Greek] in L’Eucologio Cryptense
Γ.Β. VII (sec. X) : Thessalonika, 1982
Grottaferrata Γ.Β. II [11th c. – Greek]
Sinai Euchologion [11th-12th c. – Slavonic]
Vaticanus Graecus 1811 [11th c. – Italo-Greek]
Sinai 966 [13th c. – Greek]
Mount Athos Panteleimon 780 [16th-17th c. – Greek]
Constantinople: Holy Sepulcher 615 [Greek]
#4 Timothy Philolethos on 2011-07-29 06:59
Fascinating discussion. On the one hand, it reminds me of Father Schmemann's motto: Question everything! On the other hand, I also think of Father Schmemann's distinction between Holy Tradition and pious custom. I believe that Father Alexander used two yardsticks to determine what is what: First, the Holy Scriptures and second the Early Church fathers. The reason, at least to me, is simple: we are an orthodox Church, an Apostolic Church whos must faithfully preserve the deposit of faith.
We all have played the game of telephone where somebody whispers something to the next person in a circle of players; by the time the message completes its journey, it invariably changes from the original. So, discernment and primary sources are just as important as being faithful to the teachings and praxis that we have received from our fathers and mothers.
It is very important to determine whether the orthodoxy of the Orthodox Church is he same or very close to the beliefs and praxis of the Apostolic Church. Most of us believe in this but it may be useful for affirmation from outside sources. Two Evangelical Protestant theologians, Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger, have written a wonderful book, The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Corntemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity, that proves that our orthodoxy is indeed the orthodoxy of the Apostolic Church. They even explicitly (and may be pointedly) agree with Father John Behr's affirmation that the Holy Orthodox Church is the Church of the Apostles. IMHO, the continuing work of the Holy Spirit throughout the centuries have not resulted in any revelation that is contrary to the Apostolic Church, although on the surface it may look different. The inevitable result of this reasoning is that those Orthodox who accept everything as Divinely inspired and thus unchangeable (including their rubrics and calendars) are just as wrong as those who claim it is possible that the Church will be guided by new revelations that, at least on the surface, are contrary to old and settled revelations.
The bottom line for me is the answers to four questions: What did God say regarding homosexuality and homosexual conduct? What did the Apostles say? What did the Early Church Fathers say? And, what has the Church said since the early Church Fathers?
#5 Carl Kraeff on 2011-07-29 07:28
Clearly you don't understand the rite of Adelphopoesin. In the Roman/Byzantine empire, the "MAN" of the household was key in all legal aspects of property and family inheritance. With many wars, many men were killed. The only way a family could continue it's existence was to "adopt" another male as their own. This service was recognized as an "ADOPTION SERVICE" by the church & state. It was NEVER as you suggest a homosexual service. In fact, the church abandoned this service precisely because it was being abused.
#6 Anonymous on 2011-07-29 09:01
I appreciated both Anonymous and Fr. Farley's essays. Both were thought provoking.
Can we not add to these thoughts what the Gospel of Mark says:
"And when he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of teh Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.'" Mark 2:15-17
With such words of Jesus, how can the church exclude anyone who comes to "Come and See" and seek Christ? We can call homosexuality a sin, and wrong in the Orthodox Church. But does the Orthodox Church categorize and sparse peope into what Jesus means as "sick" and what he means as "sinners?" It sounds as if Jesus came for all those who are sick and sinners, and didn't bother much discussing what he meant further.
The Orthodox Church does not seem to exclude, or put off either category of being either "sick" or "sinners" for any of us:
For the prayer before communion talks about Jesus Christ, "who came into the world to save sinners, of who I am first." And then when we take communion the priest says, "For the remission of sins and life everlasting." None of are ever spared, and get away from the concept of sin in the Orthodox Church (except Jesus).
So I am not sure why there is an ongoing hesitation about dealing with one particular type of sin (which the Orthodox Church firmly says it is) from being helped by our Church. We have already seen how Jesus has come and is here for all of us.
#7 Patty Schellbach on 2011-07-29 10:03
Actually, the Brother-making Service is most like the Service for a Second-Third Marriage so that we might almost hypothesize a category of "sexually suspicious relationships" that are nevertheless able to be prayed over and blessed so as to keep the couple involved in the orbit of the Church.
#8 Anonymous on 2011-07-29 10:31
1 Cor. 5
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men;
 not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
 But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber -- not even to eat with such a one.
 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
 God judges those outside. "Drive out the wicked person from among you."
When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?
 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life!
 If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church?
 I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood,
 but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?
To have lawsuits at all with one another is defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
 But you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that even your own brethren.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts,
 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.
 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
#9 Anonymous on 2011-07-29 11:12
With respect, I disagree. The office (rite) for adoption is radically distinct from that of Adelphopoesin and no way resembles either structurally, rubrics or by the content of the prayers the rite of Adelphopoesin. Check out the Sinai 973 Adoption Service (Greek – ύιοθετουντας or more generally υιοθεσια as used in the New Testament - Gal 4:5; Romans 9:4; 8:15 and 23; Eph 1:5) and Sinai 966 (13th c. – Greek).
The concept of adoption is neither mentioned explicitly or is implied in the same-sex union rite, whereas in the rite of adoption it is. Confusion may arise over terminology used for the rite of adoption after the 13th century.
In the rite of Adelphopoesin one prayer for union states: “May they love each other and remain unhated and scandal free all the days of their lives, with the help of the most holy Theotokos….” an admonition found in some, but not all, marriage rites. In the 13th c. Sinai adoption service we read the quotation from Hebrews (1:5): “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.” These are just a few examples how different the two rites and their purposes are.
However, I concede that you are correct that the rite of Adelphopoesin was forbidden mostly likely due to growing disapproval of anything homosexual, real or perceived: yet the office of adoption was not proscribed.
#10 Timothy Philolethos on 2011-07-29 12:55
Thank you Motovilov. That was extremely well stated.
#11 Sean O'Clare on 2011-07-29 15:24
Are you perhaps speaking of the Eonomissa icon, showing the Mother of God in bishop's mantiya? If so, this is hardly evidence of any historical practice of consecrating women bishops.
#12 Steve Knowlton on 2011-07-29 15:50
I would more put out that though I have not studied the rite/sacrament myself, the one person I know who has (and published a thesis on it) seems to suggest that it is related to a deep bond of friendship. And that this idea friendship is a kind of lost idea that we have forgotten of. One that is found in some of the great letters between saints, (St. John and Dcns Olympia for example) and perhaps some brotherly monastics.
Perhaps it was used for Homosexual unions, and this idea of friendship is the idealization of that. One that all friends should attain to (just as a spouse is ones "best friend"). Or maybe a way to live out a homosexual relationship in the context of the church. I dont know! I just thought that the idea that the Adelphopoesin rite was actually for filial sole-mate type friendship is a credible idea that deserves thought.
#13 Anonymous on 2011-07-29 18:07
In a stunning about face; Rustavi 2 Television reports that Russian Patriarch Kirill publicly recognized the territorial integrity of the Georgian Patriarchate, and by inference of the Georgian State. It means that he Moscow Patriarchate must either evacuate its personnel from the occupied territories, or stand self-condemned according to the ancient Apostolic Canons.
Georgian, Russian Patriarchs met in Kiev
Georgian and Russian Patriarchs met in Kiev and discussed the situation in Georgia`s breakaway regions. Russian Patriarch Kiril reiterated that the position of the Russian Church was absolutely different from the position of the Russian government and added that Abkhazian and South Ossetian Churches were inseparable parts of Georgian Orthodox Church.
Patriarch Kiril emphasized that disorder and chaos in Abkhazia made it clear that this situation might affect the spiritual life of the Christians residing in Abkhazia. He also said the Russian Orthodox Church has not had such close relations with any other churches as with Georgian one.
The reason for this about-face may be that it is a trial balloon for those in the Russian government who recognize that Putin’s policies are self defeating. Russia’s economic-political position has seriously weakened since 2008. Russia’s primary exports are gas and oil. While the price of oil has recovered, the price of natural gas has collapsed due to the “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing) process that has overnight quadrupled the world’s natural gas reserves. Due to this process, the Western European nations are no longer dependent on Russian gas and they have cancelled their contracts. Freed of the loss of natural gas for the winter, the Europeans have re-discovered their spines. (See the Houston Chronicle article appended below.)
Recently, Russian misbehavior has been publicly reprimanded and punished. The US has imposed visa bans on Russian officials involved in the torture and murder of lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed official corruption. The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, 7/28/11) reports that Russian officials are pleading for Medvedyev to run for another term as President, since they fear the catastrophic consequences of another Putin term. There has been increasing discussion in Russian political circles about divesting Russia of the entire North Caucasus region since the military situation is no longer tenable and the cost of the occupation is too much for the Russian government to continue. Add to that the fact that the “Autonomous Abkhaz Eparchy” is in open revolt against Moscow, well they may just have decided that it isn’t worth the hassle of holding on. Who knows?
Of course, ultimately this is not about church politics or even canonical observance. It’s about the innocent civilians, whose homes, livelihoods and loved ones were stolen away during the three invasions of Georgia, and the subsequent occupation. It’s about innocent children, like Dito (Dmitri) Razmadze, whose mother, father and un-born sibling were all killed when the Russian military bombed apartment blocks in Gori. It’s about the ancient Ghvrtaeba Cathedral and the Shrine of the Protomartyr Razhden, which were bombed, looted, desecrated and then burned with the very weapons blessed by Bishop Theophan of Saratov (since transferred to Machkhvala). It is about the 50,000 murdered Orthodox Christians, and their bereaved families. It is about the 300,000 exiles, victims of ethnic cleansing. It is ultimately about the answer we and our church must give on the Last Day.
Perhaps our intrepid theologians can pull their heads out of the bedroon closet long enough to ponder that answer.
Read about the Razmadze family here:
Articles on Abkhaz Eparchy:
“It’s the Weak Link that Breaks. Abkhazia, the Next Weak Link in the Russian Church’s Diplomacy” by Alexander Soldatov; Portal-Credo.Ru web-site article
Original article (in Russian): http://www.portal-credo.ru/site/?act=comment&id=1875
The Moscow Patriarchate has perhaps the world’s most powerful ecclesiastical-political structure. The quasi-state Russian Church does not suffer from lack of funding. Well, perhaps, there is a lack of personnel; there are not enough creative people in the numerous structures of the Patriarchate, who are enthused by the high ideal of service to the Church for the sake of God’s truth on earth. Also this is a pragmatic time, and the political-economic situation of the ROC-MP does not evoke a romantic mood. If you do not accept as a “National Idea” the nostalgic celebration of May 9th (Victory over Fascism Day- translator); you’ll have to admit the “Monetocratia” the power of money and the faith in its huge, wonderworking might has become the genuine national idea in most of the post-Soviet space.
Since the Russian Orthodox Church acquired “an effective manager” as its head, it has articulated just such a mindset and set of values in its church policy. Patriarch Kirill realized that the time had passed when unpaid church workers would labor ‘for the glory of God’ and that in order to implement its ‘missionary imperative’, the church would require a solid financial policy and sound economic base. Hence the transfer of vast properties to the Church’s estate, the public financing of religious education in the schools and chaplaincies for the military; the creation of state sponsored ‘endowment funds” for the most significant monasteries and parishes. In addressing issues of foreign policy, the Patriarch also routinely relies on the Russian government.
It is no secret to Russians that the wars in Chechnya and the Caucasus region were only concluded by the permanent infusion into the “secessionist regions” of multi-billion ruble subsidies from Moscow. Nor is it a secret that huge sums of money were invested in the restoration of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, whose independence the Russian Federation recognized after the end of its victorious war against a fearsome opponent – Georgia. The Russian government even expended its financial resources in order to acquire recognition of the “newly independent states” by the governments of Nauru and Nicaragua. The authorities of the microscopic island of Nauru did not even hide the kind of sums they were paid for their recognition of the independence of the two Georgian regions.
For its part, the Moscow Patriarchate also invested its substance in the creation of an independent Abkhaz diocese. Despite the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church recognizes the jurisdiction of the Georgian Church over Abkhazia, Sukhumi and Novy Afon (New Athos), the ROC is constantly sending priests of the neighboring Maikop diocese into Abkahzia to serve there. Moreover, the Russian Church has dispatched to Abkhazia its chief public relations asset, Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev, who in recent months has carried out successful interventions in the various “hot spots” of the post-Soviet Oikumene. His trip to Moldova of last autumn was memorable for his accomplishment of extinguishing the “fire of a new schism” in the face of the conservative Society of the Blessed Matrona of Moscow. That crew consisted of three priests of the Udmurt diocese, who had ceased the commemoration of Patriarch Kirill; a fact of which, alas, Moscow had not been forewarned. And so we have an example of Fr. Andrei’s successful efforts to prevent schisms on the territories of one of Russia’s central regions.
Officially in Abkhazia since last fall, Fr Andrei has been lecturing at the university, rides around on aMoped, and lives with a pious family, who had moved to the ‘land of the soul’ from stifling Moscow. Unofficially, Fr Andrei is steering the process of forming an autocephalous Abkhaz Church, whose autocephaly will be just as real as the Abkhaz’s government’s supposed sovereignty.
If we accept Fr Andrei as the “overseer” over the Abkhaz Church, the main lever of control over the Abkhaz Church is the priest Vissarion (Besarion in both Georgian and Apsynni languages - translator) Apliaa, who has served in Pitsunda since the Soviet era, when he went by the surname, “Plia” which sounds better in the Russian language. Having tested the waters in several jurisdictions during the Georgian- Abkhaz war, Fr Vissarion came to the conclusion that only the Moscow Patriarchate could successfully support and defend the Abkhaz Church. Fr. Vissarion often travels to Moscow, where he serves with the local clergy including the Patriarch, despite the questionable canonical status of the Abkhaz clergy. Fr Vissaraion elevates the name of the Patriarch of Moscow during the services, although he never was granted a canonical release by the Georgian Patriarchate. This course of action, however, is consistent with the stated policy of the Abkhaz authorities, who carry out Moscow’s orders and are more loyal to the Kremlin than any other region subject to the Russian Federation.
Such a “narrow and puppet-like” position as shown by Fr Vissarion – a representative of the old Soviet generation of the clergy - has not found favor with the younger generation of Abkhaz clergy, formed under conditions of independence, who seek to incorporate the Abkhaz church into the system of “World Orthodoxy” rather than relegate it to the status of a provincial diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church –Moscow Patriarchate. This younger generation rejects the destruction of the special delights of catholicity (sobornost’), the strict centralized “vertical” merger with the plutocratic powers, the commercialization, and the other systemic flaws inherent in the Russian State Church. In general, they are guided by the desire to introduce their Abkhaz Church on the world wide stage, rather than “beg on the doorstep of the Russian embassy”.
Who could have predicted that the Clergy-Laity meeting at Novy Afon on May 15th would be the premier national event in Abkhazia? It was attended by about 2,000 people, a huge number for such a small country. Here it was: real conciliarity (sobornost’), the kind that Russians can only dream about! The meeting welcomed numerous political leaders, including Abkhaz government officials. The chairman of the meeting, Hieromonk Dorofei (Dbar), who completed his MDiv and theological studies in Greece, was named candidate for bishop. The organizers of this event let it be known that they have the definite support of the authorities, so that they will soon be registering the new name for their creation – The Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia. As the name of this structure implies, as well as the personal contacts its founders have with Patriarch Bartholomew, indicates the priority they give to Constantinople, not Moscow, in negotiating their autocephaly. Especially, since the Ecumenical Patriarch is of the opinion that only he has the right to grant autocephaly, a right recognized since antiquity. This is why “World Orthodoxy” does not recognize the autocephaly granted by Moscow to the Orthodox Church in America. Yet even with such “daring” as to proclaim the establishment of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia, these clergy stressed that they remained within the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate.
At one time, the Orthodox in Abkhazia had a choice, similar to the one faced by their brothers in South Ossetia. Have found themselves caught between “two beacons of official Orthodoxy” – Moscow and Tbilisi – and unable to be located in either jurisdiction, they opted for one of the unofficial “True Orthodox” jurisdictions albeit one with the softest stance vis-a vis “official Orthodoxy”, that is the “Synod in Resistance” of Metropolitan Kipirian (Kutsumba). Currently the True Orthodox Church in South Ossetia is headed by Fr Georgiy ((Pukhate) who would like to enter into the Moscow Patriarchate, only Moscow cannot come up with a plan to accomplish the deed.
The Moscow Patriarchate and its de-facto representative in Abkhazia, Fr Vissarion, responded most irritably to the news of the meeting at Novy Afon. Since the monks Andrei (Amparo) and Dorofei (Dbar) are listed as minor (parish) clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Maikop Diocese, they could be subject to canonical sanctions. It is true that Fr Andrei was transferred to the Church of Greece, where he served in parishes; but Moscow will not acknowledge that this temporary transfer was a canonical release.
The newly proclaimed Metropolis will prove to be a “great trial” for the Abkhaz authorities. On the one hand, this organization is deeply nationalistic in nature, and the principle “Independent State – Independent Church ” which was key to the future of Ukrainian Orthodoxy, is dear to the heart of any sovereign power, even a puppet regime. On the other hand the bulk of the Abkhaz clergy, gathered around Vissarion, will never recognize the autocephalous Metropolis without direct and specific instructions to do so from Moscow. Given the fact that the pro-Moscow faction has been present in Abkhazia for twenty years, and the fact that the Abkhaz authorities are so dependent on Moscow; it is unlikely that the authorities could take an independent stance on the church issue. It is therefore unlikely that the “Holy Metropolis” was authorized by the authorities.
The situation may be resolved as it was in Estonia- a division of the parishes between Constantinople and Moscow. If this model works in so many countries around the world; well then, why not in Abkhazia?
In any case even with the story still unfolding, we are dealing with another loss of Moscow’s position in the post Soviet region, and with the expansion of Constantinople, which represents the West in the Orthodox world – that is the U.S and the “aggressive NATO bloc”
Excerpt from the Article: “Abkhazia Again Struggles for Independence; but this Time from Russia?” by Vladimir Vorsobin Moskovskaya Komsomolskaya Pravda, 5/17/2011
Original article (in Russia):
Further on the way to the border, in the Sochi airport, I meet the well known Russian missionary, Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev. He frowns, furtively and diplomatically. If he speaks, “it is not for publication”. For the past several months, Deacon Andrei has been running shuttling back and forth between Moscow and Sukhumi; trying to maintain peace in the confidential religious sector of Russian-Abkhaz relations. Alas, there is a trench warfare going on. The conflict flared up in the New Athos monastery when the Russian Orthodox Church installed a retired priest, Igumen Efrem, as the new abbot of that monastery. Oddly, the head of the Abkhaz Church, Vissarion Apliaa, calls Fr Efrem by the respectable Abkhaz surname “Lakerbaia”, while their opponents call Fr Efrem by his Russian surname, Vinogradov.
To the amazement of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Abkhazians actually cared. The nationalist scruples of the local Sukhumi Orthodox newspaper “Necessary” described it thus:
“If Fr. Efrem had come alone and had Abkhaz roots; well then let him come; but no - he came with three (read Russian) hieromonks, five or six monks, and a novice… This requires a negotiation.”
“The monastic brethren do not like the fact the Bessarion, behind their backs, took This Fr. Efrem to Moscow and presented him to Patriarch Kirill, and then in their words, Fr Efrem began to give orders what should be and what must not be in the monastery. There was to be nothing of the Byzantine or Greek style; emphasis must be on the Slavonic. It did not please the brothers nor the lay people, who came to worship in Novy Afon, that Fr. Efrem would conduct the services in Slavonic rather than in the Abkhazian (Apsynni) language.
The uproar led the former rector of the monastery, Fr. Andrei (Anpar), with the help of public meetings, to obtain the recommendation of the Public Chamber of Abkhazian ‘to suspend the appointment’. Moreover, Fr Andrei clearly formulated the main and clearly understood idea of an established nation, which has finally become independent.
‘We believe that the future of the Abkhaz church must be built not only on our relationship with the Russian church; but also with the other Orthodox churches: with the Greeks, with the Serbs. The foreign policy of the Abkhaz church should be multipolar.’ As a result, the (Abkhaz) Orthodox community erupted in conflict. The next Sunday, the Abkhaz church split – those under the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church headed by Fr. Vissarion, and the independents headed by Fr. Andrei.
Since I promised the Orthodox diplomat (Archdeacon Adrei Kuroev) that I would not cite him in my article, I will only say that the deacon expressed his astonishment at these events in the most colorful and emotional Russian language.
Houston Chronicle Article:
Study says U.S. shale may weaken Iran, Russia
By TOM FOWLER
July 20, 2011, 7:51PM
The natural gas boom in the U.S. has weakened Russia's influence on European energy supplies and could keep Iran's influence in check for years to come, according to a new study from the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
The study, "Shale Gas and U.S. National Security," says the surge of drilling in shale formations will have an impact on global supply for years to come and limit the need for the U.S. to import liquefied natural gas, or LNG, for at least 20 to 30 years.
That means more LNG shipments from the Middle East will be available for Europe, which has been beholden to Russia for a large portion of its gas, supplied by pipelines.
The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, predicts that Russia's share of the natural-gas market in Western Europe will drop to as little as 13 percent by 2040, down from 27 percent in 2009.
"By increasing alternative supplies to Europe in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG) displaced from the U.S. market, the petro-power of Russia, Venezuela and Iran is faltering on the back of plentiful American natural gas supply," writes Amy Myers Jaffe, a fellow at the Baker Institute and one of the authors of the study.
The study challenges the notion that the U.S. natural gas shale is a short-lived phenomenon. It concludes domestic production will more than quadruple by 2040, from 2010 levels, and account for more than half of all U.S. gas production by the 2030s.
"The idea that shale gas is a flash-in-the-pan is simply incorrect," writes Kenneth Medlock III, another Baker Institute fellow and study co-author. "The geologic data on the shale resource is hard science and the innovations that have occurred in the field to make this resource accessible are nothing short of game changing."
A decade ago, U.S. companies were making massive investments to build LNG-import terminals based on the assumption that domestic natural-gas production would continue to decline and the country would need to draw on supplies from Africa, Russia, the Middle East and Australia.
But U.S. supplies did a U-turn over the past five years as companies perfected the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — a process of injection millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to crack open shale formations - to economically access more gas reserves.
U.S. gas production from shale has risen from virtually nothing in 2000 to more than 20 percent of domestic production today. That's left the handful of new LNG import terminals - such as the Freeport LNG terminal southwest of Houston and Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana - seeking permits and funding to build the capacity to export U.S. natural gas.
Help for Europe
By freeing up LNG shipments that might otherwise have been destined for U.S. consumption, Europe will be able to draw more heavily on Middle Eastern and other future LNG sources, cutting its dependence on Russian gas.
"A more diverse energy supply for Europe enhances U.S. interests by buttressing Europe's abilities to resist Russian interference in European affairs and help border states in the Balkans and Eastern Europe assert greater foreign policy independence from Moscow," Medlock writes.
Trouble for Iran
Cutting U.S. dependence on LNG imports would also delay for another 20 years the need for other countries to import LNG from Iran, the study says. That would diminish Iran's economic influence and increase make it easier for the other countries to support U.S.-led sanctions against Iran for its nuclear weapons development.
"In addition, the long delay in the commerciality of Iranian gas means that Tehran will have trouble moving forward with the development of pipelines to India or Pakistan until at least the mid-2020s," Medlock writes.
Shale gas production could also lower natural gas costs globally, making it less costly for the U.S. and other countries to meet long-term goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the study says
South Ossetia one year on: Georgians wait in fear for Russians to return
A year ago, the Kremlin shocked the world when it sent troops into Georgia. Today, the war clouds over South Ossetia are gathering once more.
Zaza Razmadze holds the body of his brother Zura after a bombardment in Gori, 80 km from Tbilisi, August 9, 2008. A Russian warplane dropped a bomb on an apartment block in the Georgian town of Gori, killing at least 5 people Photo: REUTERS
By Adrian Blomfield in Gori
6:19PM BST 01 Aug 2009
When the dull throb of homesickness becomes too overpowering to resist, the former inhabitants of Eredvi perform a bittersweet ritual.
The last Georgian Police check-point on the way to Tskhinvali. Check-point is located in Ergneti on the administrative border of South Ossetia. The Russian and Ossetian checkpoint is about 100 m further down that road.
Clambering up a steep hill outside the Georgian city of Gori, they fix a borrowed pair of binoculars on the gutted cottages that, until a year ago, they called home.
Closer inspection is impossible. Though Eredvi is just a few miles away, it lies in the breakaway province of South Ossetia and their way is blocked by Russian troops and the local militiamen who burned their village down.
Though his eyes are weak and his body wracked by illness, Tengiz Razmadze occasionally makes the trip to the top of the hill, listening as his younger son Zaza describes the ruins of the little house at the end of the village.
Mr Razmadze has no need to see for himself. He lived through the destruction of his home, refusing to leave even as the roar of Russian bombers filled the skies during five days of war last August, killing his neighbours and striking his house.
It was only as Ossetian militiamen, bent on revenge, embarked on drunken looting sprees in Georgian villages like Eredvi that lay on Ossetian soil, that he finally decided to flee.
He reached Gori, a supposedly safe sanctuary deep in undisputed Georgian territory, only to find that his older son Zviadi had just been buried, after being killed in a Russian air strike.
Zaza Razmadze saw the explosions that killed his brother. Running through the choking dust and smoke that darkened the sky above Gori, he stumbled on his body in the forecourt of the block of flats where Zvio, as his family knew him, lived.
It was here that The Sunday Telegraph came across Zaza Razmadze, cradling his brother's head in his arms and imploring him to live as he ripped off his own shirt to try to staunch his wounds.
Photographs of his grief were to become the defining images of the short but brutish war Georgia and Russia fought a year ago, images so compelling that the Kremlin sought to dismiss them as fabrication.
In the garage where the two men worked together, Zaza Razmadze has built a shrine to the brother he loved, a small fountain above which he has carved the word's "Zvio's Stream".
Jerkily he recalled that hot August day, explaining that – unbeknown to him – as he tended Zvio's body his brother's wife, eight months pregnant, was also dying in the flat above.
"They had left the previous day," he said with quiet but forceful bitterness. "I still don't know why they came back."
The only person who could answer that question is his nephew, eight-year-old Dito. Wounded in the blast that killed his parents, Dito is still too traumatised to speak of what happened.
Two months ago, Zaza Razmadze got married. But any happiness that brought remains clouded by grief and anger, emotions that are caused to burn more deeply by a conflict that was frozen but never resolved – and by talk of a new war.
"If war resumes, every citizen of Gori will fight," he said. "Even the women will fight, even my new wife. We have nothing to lose."
In the 12 months since a war that stunned the world, Georgia has slipped from its consciousness.
Yet tensions remain high. At least 28 Georgian policemen patrolling the administrative boundary have been killed by sniper fire or remotely detonated mines since the end of the war. At border crossings, now sealed, Georgian and Russian guns remain trained on each other.
Less than 100 yards separate the Russian and Georgian flags that flutter above identical dugouts, protected by sandbags and concrete barriers at the crossing of Ergneti.
Capt Zura, the officer commanding the Georgian side of the line, pointed out Russian sniper positions on the roof of an abandoned hotel. "The Russians make a lot of trouble, especially at night when they are drunk," he said.
Later that evening, Georgian officers at a nearby crossing said they had come under fire, claiming that a rocket-propelled grenade had exploded above their positions.
Such is the instability that the International Crisis Group, a leading conflict prevention think tank, warned in June that "extensive fighting could again erupt."
A European Union investigation is still trying to establish who was responsible for last year's war, which ended in a humiliating battlefield rout for the Georgian army. But western diplomats in Tblisi say it is fairly clear that Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia's pro-western president, walked into a carefully laid Russian trap by launching a massive assault against the Ossetian rebels, who had long enjoyed Moscow's support.
Some military analysts in Moscow say that Russia is now contemplating a new war to oust Mr Saakashvili, whose determination to seek Nato membership for Georgia has consistently infuriated the Kremlin.
Remarkably, the Georgian leader has defied widespread predictions that failure in the war would cost him his job – despite four months of protests called by Georgia's fragmented opposition.
But elsewhere, the omens do not look good. Since recognising the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another Kremlin-backed rebel enclave in Georgia, Russia has deployed thousands of troops in both provinces and has begun building new military bases.
The Russian defence ministry angrily declined immediate comment on its troop levels in the two provinces and accused The Sunday Telegraph of failing to respect its dignity.
The Kremlin has also forced the withdrawal of two
international observer missions from the conflict zone and, in breach of its ceasefire commitments, has prevented the third, the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM), from operating in either South Ossetia or Abkhazia.
Even more worryingly, the EUMM came under attack for the first time when an ambulance driver was killed in an assault on a monitors' convoy near Abkhazia in June.
"It was a definite attack on the EUMM," said Steve Bird, a Foreign Office official attached to the mission. "The mine used in the attack was remotely detonated."
The EUMM says that Georgia has abided by the ceasefire agreements, brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, that ended last year's war, but the Russians have not.
In one of its most contentious moves, Russia used the days after the ceasefire to seize control of Akhalgori, a largely Georgian district of South Ossetia that had been under government control for over a decade.
Russia now allows buses to carry displaced Georgians to their homes in Akhalgori, which – unlike those elsewhere in Ossetia – have largely escaped the arsonists. But most are still too afraid to stay for long.
The Sunday Telegraph received a brusquer welcome at the Russian checkpoint when it sought permission to take photographs of buses crossing into Akhalgori. "Go and take your pictures in Georgia," the Russian commanding officer said, before stalking off in a rage.
Observers suspect that Russia's tactics are partly aimed at laying the groundwork for a new war. A pretext could be created, they say, either by engineering a cross-border incident that results in Russian casualties – or by accusing Georgia of helping anti-Kremlin rebels in Russia's nearby North Caucasus region.
In a potentially disturbing omen, Russia on Saturday threatened to "use all available force and means" to defend its civilians after claiming that Georgia had launched several attacks on the separatist capital Tskhinvali in recent days. Georgia denied the allegations and the EUMM said it had been unable to verify Russia's claims.
Last week it also claimed that North Caucasus rebels were operating in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.
"There is definitely a pattern to what the Kremlin is doing," said a senior Western diplomat in Tbilisi. He said that Moscow wanted control over Georgia, both to prevent the construction of a gas pipeline that would reduce Europe's energy dependence on Russia and to find an easier way of supplying its own troops in Armenia.
But with Russia unlikely to find a pliant successor to Mr Saakashvili, the diplomat said a major war was unlikely. Instead, he predicted that Russia would make creeping advances deeper into Georgian territory or launch occasional bombing raids, as part of a campaign to destabilise its neighbour.
"Georgia would protest to the international community but without guaranteed success," he said. "The law of the strongest will apply."
In the meantime, for tens of thousands of Georgians uprooted from their homes or scarred from those few days of war, daily life grows ever more desperate.
Over three days last week, The Sunday Telegraph revisited villages in Georgia that bore the brunt of the Russian advance and the brutal reprisals by the accompanying Ossetian militias.
The border village of Ergneti has been all but abandoned, save for the occasional family that ekes out an existence in the charred ruins of their homes.
Ivane Dvalishvili showed us the rusted remains of his grandson's first bicycle, almost all he had salvaged from the rubble. His 80-year-old neighbour, Gaioz, had neatly swept his destroyed possessions into large piles by the blackened walls of his house.
A year ago, during an intense Russian arterial assault, the Sunday Telegraph took shelter with Makhvala Orshuashvili by the wall of her garden in the village of Tkviavi, where she fed us peaches from her orchard, shouting over the noise of the shells.
We found her where we left her, sitting on a bench outside the garden – only this time she was wearing a black headscarf to denote mourning.
When the Ossetians came through, raping and pillaging, they came across her husband returning home with bread. Telling him to run, they shot him in the back and he died later of starvation after rejecting food.
Makhvala cowered in terror inside her house, listening as the drunken soldiers played a stolen guitar on the street outside.
Back in Gori, stung by the financial crisis and the aftershocks of war, Zaza Razmadze is lucky if he takes home more than £5 a day, half what he earned before the conflict.
With that he must support the families of eight relatives who were also forced out of Ossetia when the militias embarked on what the Council of Europe has described as a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Georgians.
The Georgians of South Ossetia, about 25,000, are now housed in identikit camps that have mushroomed near the administrative boundary with the rebellious province.
A small, whitewashed cottage in one of the camps now houses Zaza Razmadze's father, Tengiz. Blind in one eye, his eyesight failing in the other, Mr Razmadze ekes out an existence in his half-painted rooms, furnished with only a narrow bed, a flimsy table and a small television, on the £17 a month provided by the state.
Like other Georgians in South Ossetia, he was never rich. But the fecund soil allowed them to create fruit orchards and vegetable gardens. In their new accommodation, Ossetia's displaced can no longer fend for themselves.
Tengiz Razmadze seems a broken man, much older than his 60 years. He is trying to summon up the mental and physical strength to commemorate the first anniversary of his son's death on Aug 9. But it will be a struggle. "I don't know if I can survive the pain and sorrow again," he said.
#14 Francis Frost on 2011-07-29 22:40
To the Brother-making nonsense, even if it was used to bless homosexual unions in scattered locales at some point in the past, high liturgical abuse does not equal Holy Tradition.
Despite the efforts of some people, 2000 years removed, who wish to interpret St Paul's words differently from native speakers of the same ancient Greek language that it was written in, these things are not up for debate. We are not Protestants whose theology is based on forensic study of ancient documents. Our living Tradition has said consisistently that homosexual activity is a sinful passion (no better or worse than other sinful passions) and hence cannot be blessed in any way, despite those priests and bishops, clearly outside the Church, who may have done so.
I think these words from John the Golden-mouthed (Homily 32 on Romans) speak to the situation:
- - - - -
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." (Romans XVI. 17, 18)
... [St. Paul] puts them on the defensive by showing the deceitfulness of those who abused them. For as though they were not at once to be discerned, he says, I beseech you to mark, that is, to be exceedingly particular about, and to get acquainted with, and to search out thoroughly— whom, pray? Why, those that cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you have learned. For this is, if anything the subversion of the Church, the being in divisions.
This is the devil's weapon, this turns all things upside-down. For so long as the body is joined into one, he has no power to get an entrance, but it is from division that the offense comes.
And whence is division? From opinions contrary to the teaching of the Apostles. And whence come opinions of this sort? From men's being slaves to the belly, and the other passions. For such, he says, serve not the Lord, but their own belly. And so there would be no offense, there would be no division, unless some opinion were thought of contrary to the doctrine of the Apostles. And this he here points out by saying, contrary to the doctrine. And he does not say which we have taught, but which you have learned, so anticipating them, and showing that they were persuaded of and had heard them and received them.
And what are we to do to those who make mischief in this way? He does not say have a meeting and come to blows, but avoid them. For if it was from ignorance or error that they did this, one ought to set them right. But if they sin willingly, spring away from them.
And in another place too he says this. For he says, Withdraw from every brother that walks disorderly: and in speaking to Timothy about the coppersmith, he gives him the like advice, and says, Of whom also beware. Then also to lash those who dare to do such things, he mentions also the reason of their devising this division. For they that are such, he says, serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly. And this he said too when he wrote to the Philippians, Whose god is their belly. ...
How then do you come not to be ashamed at having slaves of the belly for your teachers, when you are a brother of Christ?
#15 Anonymous on 2011-07-30 09:39
You may find comfort in viewing things as black or white, but truly it is not so easy at times to understand some of the NT Greek.
For example, with reference to 1 Corinthians 6:9, the word used by the Apostle Paul, arsenokoitai, appears to have been coined by Paul as there is no instance of the word being used before then. Scholars have attempted to find the proper translation within the cultural context of Paul’s day with the following variations:
1. homosexual – word coined in the late 19th century and not appearing in any translation in any language of the Bible until 1946 (in English). In Orthodox Study Bible
2. abusers of themselves with mankind -- from the King James Version
3. sexual perverts
4. pederasts -- though there is a good Greek work for it
5. sodomites -- another can of worms if we want to look at the real sin of Sodom and Gomorrah in New Jerusalem Bible and New Oxford Annotated Bible
6. boy [or male] prostitutes [along with sodomites] in American Bible
7. masturbators – not used since the Reformation
Arsenokoitai is composed of two words meaning “men” and “beds”. This agglutinated word is very difficult to translate and its meaning not easily understood. A more nuanced translation may be male sexual activity that is exploitative and abusive. To demonstrate the difficulties in translating ancient languages, in English we have – famously – the word, “lady-killer”, which neither means a lady who kills nor a person who kills ladies, but rather a man who charms women. I hate to think how someone two millennia hence will translate that.
Each interpretation has its own cadre of scholars. Pick your poison. But there is no certainty of the meaning here except that only males are involved.
Similarly, off topic of homosexuality, but on attempts to understand NT Greek we have a hapax legomenon* (a word that occurs only once in the corpus of a written language), in “arton epiousion” in the Lord’s Prayer that is universally translated as “daily bread”, based on St. Jerome’s translation. Recently on this website the Monk James has offered his take on the phrase [give us today the Bread we need]; another I have seen is: “Give us today the Bread for the morrow.” All versions have their merit and help shed light on the original meaning. One must not disparage attempts to improve understanding through scholarly research.
Would such attempts to understand what has been revealed to us once and for all be restricted to what a fourth century bishop said? I hope not. Our understanding evolves, I believe, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
* technically it appears three times, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the Didache, but always in the same context.
#16 Timothy Philolethos on 2011-07-30 13:28
I too commend you for your thoughtful remarks, which accurately characterize the two referenced reflections. In particular I associate myself with your comments concerning the selective use of tradition and the disastrous mistakes that have often been made in misguided attempts to stamp out perceived heresies.
Fear truly is at the heart of it. Fear of social and political change, fear of self-interested authority, fear of the Holy Spirit's continuing guidance and revelations that contradict preconceived notions.
Fearing truth that contradicts our own "little realities" is the bane of mankind. Would that it not be the bane of our Lord's church.
#17 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-07-31 12:06
No, I am absolutely not ... and I'd agree with you if that were the case. Perhaps my greatest issue is when many, if not most, members within Orthodoxy tend to want to 'cleanse' history, using the lens of the present, rather than just accepting it. We are sinful, and live within a fallen world. Our saints and even our present leaders and lay-folk need not be perfect. We need to see them within the lens of Christ, not pick and choose what we like and what we reject. Unfortunately, we still tend to do this, and therefore have hurt and driven away many who have contributed much. This is our failing, and it should stop.
#18 Sean O'Clare on 2011-07-31 14:35
Mark, thank you for publishing the article about the situation of the Georgian Patriarchate in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the recent meeting of the two patriarchs (His Holiness Ilia II of Georgia and His Holiness Kyrill of Russia). I am dismayed by the lack of public and official attention the situation of the suffering flock of the Georgian Patriarchate gets by our OCA. The Georgian Patriarchate is one of the few autocephalous Orthodox churches that acknowledges the autocephaly of the OCA. Our past three Metropolitans (Jonah, Herman and Theodosius) have made official visits to Georgia, and His Holiness Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, made an official visit here in 1998. (I understand that an invitation was extended to His Holiness to visit the USA after Metropolitan Jonah was in Georgia, but I believe that His Holiness’s health prevents such a long and arduous journey.) The Georgian Orthodox Church is one of the most ancient Orthodox Churches, with missionary work (along the Black Sea) occurring in the 1st century, while the country became Orthodox Christian through God’s mercy and the efforts of St. Nino (Nina) Equal-to-the-Apostles and Evangelizer in the 4th century.
Please pray for His Holiness Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, and His faithful flock. Pray that the Georgian Patriarchate should soon be able to minister throughout all of Georgia, including its canonical territories that include the dioceses of Abkhazia and Nikozi-Tskhinvali (South Ossetia).
An excellent way to assist one of the occupied dioceses, that of Nikozi-Tskhinvali, is to make a donation to the American Friends of Georgia (http://afgeorgia.org/afg-projects/idp/nikozi-art-education-and-reahabilitation-center.html) for the Nikozi Project, an art rehabilitation project benefiting those who suffered greatly as a result of the August 2008 war.
We are one in Christ. Let us embrace our brothers and sisters in Georgia in prayer and love!
The "Brotherhood Service" of the Orthodox Church was NEVER a service to bless homosexuality. As has been mentioned, there was a service to "bless" adoptions and new "brothers" brought into a family - orphans. I believe it was Halsell from Fordham Univ. who wrote a book trying to show this church "blessing" as a homosexual rite which it NEVER was. Probably why the rite was abandoned by the church because of misuse. The Orthodox Church is "PRECISELY" the Orthodox or True Church because it doesn't deviate from Holy Tradition nor the Scriptures. Both are consistent as rejecting ANY homosexual activity as sinful. It can't be justified or normalized - it is sinful. It is no different than heterosexuals living as married in a sexual union without any commitment as united as "one woman & one man" as a family unit. Sorry to disappoint everyone, but homosexuality can NEVER be normalized or accepted by the Church as acceptable! Now, how do we deal with these people?
(Editor's note: I think that was the question that Fr. Vinogradov was asking!)
#20 Anonymous on 2011-08-01 08:17
Probably the ikon depicted St. Brigid of Kildare, the
2nd-most-popular Irish saint (after Patrick). Her
ancient vita states that she was consecrated a bishop
unexpectedly by St. Ibor, who considered her a living
ikon of the Theotokos. Modern scholars tend to explain
the story away, arguing that it was written to justify
the unusual power exerted by later Abbesses of Kildare
in early Mediaeval Ireland, and is a typical example of
Celtic hyperbole. Of course, one could similarly dismiss
many better-known items of Christian tradition.
Norman Hugh Redington
#21 Norman Hugh Redington on 2011-08-02 12:45
"These people" -- As long as you insist on objectifying us in this manner, the answer for you is...nothing.
#22 anonymous on 2011-08-03 12:24
Exactly right, Norman. I've done a little reading on the subject, and there seems to be some disagreement as to why St. Brigid was consecrated a bishop. Some modern theologians would like to suggest that it never happened, but most have suggested that she was so consecrated either because A) the consecrating bishop was drunk and didn't know what he was doing; B) the consecrating bishop was trying to tweak the nose of Rome as both England and Ireland were gradually moving in that direction, away from their more Eastern Christian influences; or C) the consecrating bishop knew exactly what he was doing and consecrated St. Brigid based on her unusual level of spirituality and her ability to shepherd the flock given to her. In any of those cases, she was consecrated a bishop, but I will agree that this is one rare and unusual circumstance.
#23 Sean O'Clare on 2011-08-03 12:25
I would like to thank Anonymous for his insights ino tht early Church's dealing with homosexuality. For someone who struggles with this passion, and has been very despondent believing that I am damned to hell, it was very uplifting and enlightening. Also Mark, I want to thank you for your unbiased reporting on this site. I get all of my information on what is going on in the church from this site. Again, Thank You Anonymous for your post. Some of us needed to hear those things. And perhaps others will learn from it!
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