Category Archives: Eastern Church

Oriental Orthodox Churches face elections

Christ in Coptic Art.jpgThe Coptic and Ethiopic Churches face the elections of new popes in the coming  weeks. Pope Shenouda III died in March 2012 after serving as pope of his Church for 40 years. Yesterday, the patriarch of the Ethiopic Church Abune Paulos died at the age of 76. Shenouda had health issues and Paolus apparently died of a heart attack (there’s some controversy on the reason for the death).

The Coptics are preparing to elect the 118th successor of Saint Mark. The list of 17 possible choices is being scrutinized now; the more than 2500 electors have been gleaned from the clergy and laity alike.
The New Jersey eparchy (diocese) for the Coptic Orthodox has introductory material to read. The US doesn’t have a large group of Coptic Orthodox in comparison to the Greek Orthodox Church or Catholicism –let alone the Coptic Catholics, for that matter– but the Church is growing. Worldwide there are 18 million adherents. In the Tri-State area there are some 19 communities of the Coptic Orthodox faithful. For example, the Copts purchased the former Benedictine abbey of Corpus Christi in Texas for a monastery of their own.
Catholics have a keen interest in the Coptic Church because of the role she has played in the forming Catholic faith across the many centuries.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church will also have to elect a new leader, the 6th patriarch, with the death of Abune Paulos yesterday. He served as head of his Church since 1992.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Church established themselves as separate from the Coptic Church in 1959 and claims 45 million faithful.
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Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria, dead at 88

Pope Shenouda on throne dead.jpg



On Saturday, 17
March 2012, Pope Shenouda III, the 117th head of the Coptic Christians died.
Shenouda was the successor of Saint Mark. He led his Church since November
1971.

UK’s Mail Online has a story of
Pope Shenouda
with other photos here. Plus, the Washington Post has an article to
read
.

Pope Benedict XVI sent this note of condolence to the Coptic
Christians:

On learning of the sad departure to God, our common Father, of His
Holiness Shenouda III, Patriarch of Alexandria on the See of Saint Mark the
Evangelist, I wish to express to the members of the Holy Synod, to the priests
and all the faithful of all the Patriarchate, my most sincere brotherly
compassion. I recall with gratitude his commitment to Christian Unity, his
memorable visit to my predecessor Pope Paul VI, and their signing of the Joint
Declaration of Faith in the Incarnation of the Son of God together in Rome, on
May 10, 1973, as well as his Cairo meeting with Pope John Paul II during the
Great Jubilee of the Incarnation, on February24, 2000. I can say how the
Catholic Church as a whole shares the grief that afflicts the Orthodox Copts,
and how she stands in fervent prayer asking that He, who is who is the
Resurrection and the Life, might welcome his faithful servant. May the God of
all mercy receive Pope Shenouda in His joy, His peace and light.

When I met Pope Shenouda in St Louis, Missouri in 1994, it was a very interesting experience all around. May God be merciful to him and Saint Mark his steps to paradise.

The photo
above is of Pope Shenouda sitting on his throne one last time before burial.
Perhaps the Roman bishops would like to adopt this practice.

Orthodox bishops rally faithful to protest the Obama administration


Bishops of the Orthodox Churches –those of the various jurisdictions in the USA– have called upon the Orthodox faithful to protest the Obama Administration’s ruling which affects matters of conscience. Since this is NOT a Catholic issue –one needs to say it’s a matter for all people, regardless of profession of faith. Exercising one’s right to speak out against injustice, here it’s a matter of injustice done by the government, Christians need to unite their hearts, minds, and voices and work for substantial change.

One doesn’t hear of the Orthodox Church on Pro-Life matters too often but you do see a greater presence of the Orthodox Church at events like the Pro-Life March in Washington, DC. In recent years their bishops, priests, seminarians (from St Vladimir’s) and laity have begun to show up to the March. They gather at the Orthodox Cathedral and walk with the others.

Here, we all need the Orthodox witness. Thanks goes to Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Savas (Pittsburgh) for his good work on the project.

Assembly of bishops.jpgThe Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North
and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in
the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent
decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services
,
and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected
representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the
sanctity of the Church’s conscience.

Read more ...

William Charles Skurla elected 8th bishop of the Ruthenian Eparchy, Pittsburgh

WC Skurla.jpgPope Benedict XVI elected William Charles Skurla, 55, as the 8th bishop (and 5th Archeparch) of the Pittsburgh Ruthenian Church, until now, the Eparch of Passaic (NJ).

The Archeparch-designate has been a priest for nearly 25 years and a bishop for nearly 10. This is third eparchy to have been elected to lead. He succeeds Archbishop Basil who died on June 10, 2010.
The Archeparchy of Pittsburgh is a See of nearly 60,000 souls (2010 stats).
May God grant Archbishop William many years.

Melkite bishop explores ordaining married men, again

News seems to be made about a Catholic married clergy in the USA, at least among the Eastern churches. It’s not new news but it is an interesting development in the USA that needs insight and pastoral action. The new bishop of the Melkite Church in the USA, Bishop Nicholas Samra (btw the first American born leader of the eparchy), spoke of the need of having a properly formed clergy to pastor the 27,000+ souls of the Melkite Church in the USA, even ordaining married men. In the coming year there may be one celibate man ordained.

This is not the first time the Melkite Church is doing such. More than 3 decades ago several married men were ordained in Canada but judged by the Holy See to be illicit; the former eparch Bishop John Elya ordained 2 married men and his hand was slapped.

In the western world married clergy is not viewed by the Holy See to be pertinent whereas in the old world, married men serve as priests. This carries the old prejudice of Archbishop John Ireland who demanded a celibate clergy of the Eastern Churches; his unreasonable proposition helped create the Ruthenian Orthodox Church in the USA.  With the Eastern Catholic Churches it is part of their venerable ecclesiology to ordain married men to the priesthood. On a pastor’s side, the needs of the laity to follow their traditions. Looking at reality in front of him, there is a demonstrable need for Samra (and other Eastern Churches in the USA) to provide a clergy for his people. The eparchy doesn’t have enough single men willing to do the work, nor does it seem reasonable to hope beyond all hope for an exclusive celibate priesthood. The gospel needs to be proclaimed and sacraments administered for our salvation.
Pray to great Mother of God and Saint Nicholas for the grace of prudence for Bishop Nicholas!
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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]yahoo.com.
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