Category Archives: Eastern Church

Kidnapping of two Syrian bishops

Doing humanitarian work, two bishops have been kidnapped by rebels Monday evening. Archbishop Paul is the brother Greek Orthodox Patriarch John. Here is the Vatican statement:

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The kidnapping of the two Metropolitan bishops of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, and the killing of their driver whilst they were carrying out a humanitarian mission, is a dramatic confirmation of the tragic situation in which the Syrian population and the Christian communities in Syria are living. The Holy Father has been informed of this recent, extremely grave act, which comes on top of the increasing violence of the past days and a humanitarian emergency of enormous proportions. Pope Francis is following the events with deep participation and he is praying for the health and the liberation of the two kidnapped bishops. He is also praying so that, with the support and prayers of all, the Syrian people may finally see tangible responses to the humanitarian drama and real hopes of peace and reconciliation rise on the horizon.

(Source: Vatican Radio)

Here’s an interview with Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni who spoke to Mario Giro, of the Community of St. Egidio about the kidnapping of the Syrian bishops. You may listen to the interview here.

Milan Lach nominated auxiliary bishop of Presov

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There is a new auxiliary bishop for Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Presov, Slovakia, Jesuit Father Milan Lach. He is the first Jesuit to be elected a bishop during the pontificate of Pope Francis.

Bishop-elect Lach will join another Jesuit who serves as the Archbishop of Presov, Ján Babjak, 59. The archeparchy has more than 140 thousand people. Archbishop Babjak was just here in the USA making a pastoral visit.

Bishop-elect Milan, 39, has been the vice-dean of the the Faculty of Theology of the University of Trnava. Lach entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1995 and ordained priest in 2001. For 2 years he worked at the Centre of Spirituality East-West of Michal Lacko, where he was also the Jesuit superior. In the 2009 he was awarded a degree in spirituality at the Pontifical Oriental Institute and livingnext door at the Pontifical Russian College.

In 2010 he became a member of the editorial board of the theology journal, Verba Theologica.

Mnohaja l’ita!

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Pope Francis meets with ecumenical partners and representatives of world religions

The Pope met today with Orthodox leaders, Byzantine and Oriental Orthodox, the Anglicans, other ecclesial communities and leaders of various other religions. Of particular interest is the personal meeting of Francis and Bartholomew; the Pope also met with Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Rome Reports has a review of this important ecumenical meeting.

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First of all, heartfelt thanks for what my Brother Andrew told us. Thank you so much! Thank you so much!

It is a source of particular joy to meet you today, delegates of the Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the West. Thank you for wanting to take part in the celebration that marked the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter.

Yesterday morning, during the Mass, through you , I recognized the communities you represent. In this manifestation of faith, I had the feeling of taking part in an even more urgent fashion the prayer for the unity of all believers in Christ, and together to see somehow prefigured the full realization of full unity which depends on God’s plan and on our own loyal collaboration.

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Metropolitan Hilarion on the offensive

It’s not been a week into the exercise of the Petrine ministry of Pope Francis and members of the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy are “expressing hope” about the Bishop of Rome will or will not do with regard to the so-called “expansion” of the Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church. Really, they are setting conditions for dialogue and fraternal cooperation.

Recognizable is the fact that Russians want to be the dominant Church body in Eastern Europe and they want no “competition” from anyone else. They believe that to be Russian, or Ukrainian, for that matter, is to be Orthodox. They will not accept the possibility of a person’s freedom in choosing which Church to belong and that historically the Byzantine and Latin Catholics have been part of the cultural makeup of the Christian East. As a condition for good relations Metropolitan Hilarion and other Orthodox leaders want to pressure the Bishop of Rome not to work with the Byzantine Ukrainian Church in any way. Pope Francis, and the entire Roman Church wants good and fruitful relationships with the Orthodox Church worldwide, and in Russia. It will not be the case that we turn our back on the Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk and Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Synod. Lingering disagreements are not resolved by pressure and being agenda-driven.
You would never know that Metropolitan Hilarion was educated at Oxford and that he’s spent much of his youthful days enjoying certain freedom of education and culture in the West with ignorant comments such as he’s made about the Jesuits. His suspicion is greatly exaggerated and offensive. It betrays another level of insecurity of his person and his Church. His comments about the Jesuits, and therefore, Pope Francis, show yet example of that he is not a serious churchman. One only has to recall that it’s been the Jesuits in the 20th and 21st centuries who have provided rigorous educational opportunities at the Pontifical Oriental Institute (PIO) in Rome for the service to the Churches. And an education, I might add, to plenty of Orthodox priests, bishops and laity at the expense of the PIO. An anti-Jesuit stance in this case is clichéd and will bear no fruit.
May the great Mother of God bless the Churches.

Bishop of Rome –appreciating its significance for the churches

Pope's chair, Basilica di San Giovanni in Late...

The chair of the Bishop of Rome, Basilica Saint John Lateran, Rome.

In the first moments of his introduction to the world, Pope Francis has spoken of his ministry as the bishop of Rome, and his exercise of said ministry. Nine times, in fact. I think many were surprised at the theological precision that Pope Francis expressed so quickly. How is this possible? Because Francis is clearly Christocentric, and the Petrine ministry located in service of the other and at the foot of the Cross.

We ought to recall that ministries in the Church have gradually taken on new significance over time as the issues of teaching, preaching and sanctifying and governing (leading) surfaced and challenged the unity of the faithful. We know historically that by the third century the parameters of the bishop of Rome began to develop because of the work of Saints Peter and Paul, and because of the importance of the imperial city of Rome, and by the fourth century the influence of the Roman bishop was well-situated; and by the fifth century “canonical” letters, i.e., decrees, were sent to the world’s bishops carrying with them certain authority. One can posit that from almost the beginning bishops from across the Christian world had appealed to the bishop of Rome for assistance in resolving with pastoral problems. 

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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