Tag Archives: Orthodox

Patriarchs Gregory and John meet

Orthodox and Catholic Patriarchs 2014The annual Synod of Bishops of the Melkite Church just finished meeting. The Melkite bishops from around the world meet together each year for some time in prayer, discussions on theology, liturgy, canonical process and the election of bishops. This year the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, John X, met with Melkite Patriarch Gregory III –a historic meeting.

The Melkites in the USA are governed by Bishop Nicholas J. Samra (of the Eparchy of Newton) and the Antiochian Orthodox Church is awaiting a new head of church since their Metropolitan Philip Saliba died not long ago. The new metropolitan is expected to be announced late next week.

Melkite Synod 2014 meeting with Patriarch JohnSaint Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us.

Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim elected 123 successor of St Peter of Antioch

Mar Ignatius Aphrem II KarimArchbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim was elected as the new Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and All East. He will be the 123rd Patriarch in the Apostolic Lineage of St Peter replacing His Holiness Patriarch Zakka I Iwas who recently died.

The Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church met in Damascus on 31 March 2014, called to elect the 123rd successor of St.Peter. This Apostolic See of Antioch is also the Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church.

A biography is noted here. It’s worthy reading.

Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim was born in Kamishly, Syria on May 3, 1965; he is the youngest son of Mr. & Mrs. Issa Karim. On Sunday, January 28, 1996, Karim was consecrated as Metropolitan and Patriarchal Vicar to the Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church for the Eastern United States Patriarch Zakka I Iwas. A position he leaves to take up his new ministry.

Theology: Catholic and Orthodox?

What does it mean to say “Theologically… thus and such….”

There are many “professional” theologians and types of reflection on God, the biblical teaching, ecclesial tradition, prayer, the spiritual life, etc, how do you discern who to read? Sometimes the professionals lack the lex agenda (that is, the law of life) that’s required for an authentic Christian life.  By nature, we worship, believe, live and act in accordance with the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It will make your head spin in trying to make a good decision on what to read and what to avoid. We know that not everything in print (or on a blog) is worth the time.

Admittedly, Catholics, clergy and laity alike, can stand behind the veil of something they know little about and the implications of what is published. Selecting a good book in theology is often made in a knee-jerk way. For example you will hear some priests say, “I will never read anything written by a Jesuit” or “she’s fema-nazi, a heretic” or there is a perspective that contends that “reading outside the ecclesial family is wrong.”

It is true, not everything in the field of liberation theology is germane to an authentic Catholic life. But that can be said of all the allied fields in theological reflection. An honest intellectual will say that you have to know what reasonable people are saying. We need less ideology and more openness to faith and reason is needed. Faith and reason are oriented in loving the truth. So while one could argue that the theological reflection of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Joseph Ratzinger is far more satisfying than Hans Kung and Karl Rahner when you read, study and pray with sacred Scripture, knowing a something of the other is good.  A critical reader ought to be able to enter into a respectful and lively dialogue with thinkers; there can’t be an a priori stance that one or the other is always wrong. The default answer to every question doesn’t have to be NO. Yet. dialogue is not negotiation; openness to the other doesn’t mean you compromise the truth. The point is that we have to have an objectivity (know the the sources of claims made) about what believe and teach and live.

I have long argued that a Catholic’s first theological reflection is liturgical. The maxim of St Prosper of Aquitaine guides: legem credendi lex statuat supplicant. Meaning: The Church’s faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles – whence the ancient saying: lex orandi, lex credendi (or: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, according to Prosper of Aquitaine [5th cent.]). The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition (Catechism, 1124). Let’s start here rather than attend to confessional lines of how catholic one is, or not.

The point of theology is reflect in a public way who God is and God’s grace operative in our world. Theology is in pursuit of wisdom and of making disciples.

A 2008 blog post at Erenikon, “What is Orthodox Theology?” asked the same questions regarding but for the Orthodox believer. I would say that much of is held and live in the Orthodox Church coheres with Catholic theology. Several Catholic theologians I know use the thinking of professional theologians who belong to the Orthodox Church.

Hagia Sophia to be turned into a mosque?

I just came across an article on AsiaNews that’s disturbing to me: “Persistent rumors suggest Hagia Sophia will be turned into a mosque” (Aug 30 2013). It confirmed my worst fears that one of the greatest churches in world –after the 4 central basilicas in Rome, a few others– may be returned to the Muslims for worship.

Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) was built as a Christian church, known as the great church, in 537. And, it was the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople until the Ottomans oppressed the Christians.

In 1453, Hagia Sophia along with other Christian churches, were confiscated and turned into mosques.  When Mustafa Atatürk, in 1923, founded the secular state of Turkey,Hagia Sophia mosque became a museum.

From the Muslim side, the Hagia Sophia is a symbol of Islamic conquest of Christianity and it’s in their best interest to reassert themselves by taking the museum back as a place of muslim worship. If the rumors are true, this building will be a central symbol of the caliphate that is expected to formed.

Disclaimer: I want the former cathedral returned to the Christians. The church ought to be a Christian temple. I advocate the praying of the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom at what would be the central altar. If not, then I will concede Patriarch Bartholomew’s view: Hagia Sophia to remain a museum.

Some people report that in 2006 a small room was made available to the staff of the museum for Christian or Muslin prayer. In 2013, the minarets ring out the call for Islamic prayer. The camel’s nose is creeping.

God help us.

Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue in Agreement on the nature of Marriage: between a man and a woman

This morning I saw this headline and eye-catching paragraph on the Pro Ecclesia site:

The International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue Just Came to an Important Agreement on the nature of Marriage:

Continuing its focus on Christian anthropology, specifically what it means to be a human person created in the image and likeness of God, the Commission devoted significant efforts to the review of the draft of its joint theological work on the subject. Reflection on the theology of the glory of creation and the uniqueness of humanity in the created order drew the Commission into deep discussion. Further, the Commission worked at length on the specific expression of image and likeness, considering the thematic components of the subject, with particular attention to its scriptural basis. As part of the discussion of human relationships, the Commission observed that it is the teaching of all the Orthodox and Anglican churches that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The first part doesn’t surprise me as much as the last sentence: that the Anglican churches understand marriage to be between a man and woman. The Anglican communion is not known for its consistent and coherent formulation of a Christian doctrine these days. That is, they tend to be at odds with mainstream Christianity (not only Catholics, but some Lutheran, Evangelical and Baptist communities). Certainly the Anglican openness to allow for contraception and in many places gay marriage and women’s ordination raises the question of what is happening herein.

Read the entire press release here.

The desire of the joint commission which met 4-11 September 2013 at the invitation of Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej was to study the nature of man and woman being made in God’s image and likeness from a perspective of theological anthropology. This is a weighty and yet necessary conversation that needs to be investigated with a telos in mind, God’s telos, that is. Knowing particulars of what it means to a human person can’t be overlooked, dismissed or rearranged because of ideology.

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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