Tag Archives: Eastern Christianity

Russian Patriarch losing popularity at home, and in the Ukraine

One doesn’t point to the failures of others in a mean-spirited way. No one likes it done to himself, but more importantly, it isn’t Christian. Nevertheless, we need to get to the heart of certain issues.

An article by Andriy Skumin, “Mission: Impossible” published today online on the international edition of ¬†The Ukrainian Week raises a lot of questions about how the Orthodox see themselves as they observe 1025 years since receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Patriarch Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church is facing lots of difficulties these days in places like the Ukraine, some of his own making, and some he’s been made to face from outside the Church.

Whether Skumin’s¬†article is completely objective may be debated. But what needs to be studied are the ways by which the Christian Church’s ability to proclaim the gospel is effective today given certain cultural, political and religious factors. Also, whether the Christian Church is Orthodox or Catholic, both ecclesial communities face similar issues in their milieu; reality is crucial to acknowledge and work within. Hopefully, Patriarch Kirill will be able to service the Gospel and not his own ideology. And I would say the say for the Catholic Major Archbishop in the Ukraine.

At this time Christians are celebrating 1025 years of the reception of sacrament of Baptism of the Rus; and in particular, the Kyian Rus. I happen to think that the Russian Orthodox Church is a bit too imperialistic in their own circles but also in forcing others to follow them. They are often economical with the truth when it comes to common history.

Locally, the Catholic bishop of the Stamford Eparchy of the Ukrainians, Bishop Paul Chomnycky, had a Moleben in thanksgiving to God for the gift of baptism.

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.


Francis and Bartholomew March 20 2013.jpg

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.

Louis Sako elected Patriarch of the Chaldean Church

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Archbishop Louis Sako, 64, who since 2003 and until now the archbishop of Kirkuk, Iraq, has been elected the new Patriarch of Babylon, and the archbishop of Baghdad. He is XX worldwide leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church.

Sako was elected this week by the Synod of the Chaldean Church, 15 bishops, which has been meeting in Rome this week to discuss the church life and to elect a successor to Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly who retired on 19 December 2012. Pope Benedict XVI quickly granted his request for full ecclesiastical communion, according to the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches.

Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako is the point of unity among Chaldean Catholics and with the Bishop of Rome. His work will be to clearly preserve the life of the Chaldean Church, but also to chart the future of the ancient Christian community 

The new Patriarch is a native of Mosul, Iraq, ordained to the priesthood in 1974. He earned two doctorates–first in Patristics at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, and the second in history at the Sorbonne, Paris. Sako did pastoral work in Mosul and was the rector of the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad for 5 years prior to being ordained as the archbishop of Kirkuk on 14 November 2003. He is a published author and speaks several languages.

An interview with Vatican Radio.

Rome Reports has a brief news piece.

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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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