Eastern Church: January 2011 Archives

Pope with Oriental Orthodox bishops Jan 28 2011.jpgLast week members of the  International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Pope Benedict gave a very brief letter encouraging courage and determination to work with the Holy Spirit in the work of full, visible communion between the churches. He said, "We can only be grateful that after almost fifteen hundred years of separation we still find agreement about the sacramental nature of the Church, about apostolic succession in priestly service and about the impelling need to bear witness to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the world." Watch a video clip of the presentation of the icon to His Holiness.

In the middle of the annual exercise of  prayer and study for Christian Unity, the Vatican's daily news paper, L'Osservatore Romano, interviewed Bishop Brian Farrell, LC, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The interviewer asked Bishop Farrell about problems in the ecumenical quest with the Orthodox Church, and his answer is below.

We are examining the crucial point of our differences on the Church's structure and way of being and operating: the question of the role of the Bishop of Rome in the Church communion of the first millennium, when the Church in the West and East was still united. After profound studies and discussions, the members of the Theological Commission have come to realize the enormous difference between the lived, assimilated, and narrated historical experience in Western culture and the historical experience perceived in the Eastern vision of things. Every historical event is open to different interpretations. The discussion has not led to a real convergence.

Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Sfeir.jpgPatriarch Nasrallah Peter Sfeir, 90, the 76th head of the Maronite Church is said to have submitted a resignation a few months ago to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. The Daily Star has stated this move of Sfeir's, but the paper has several facts wrong, so the reliability of specifics is questionable.

His Beatitude will be 91 on May 15 and has led the Maronite Church since 1986: he's been a priest for 60.5 years, a bishop for 49.5 years and patriarch for 25 years. Sfeir is also a cardinal of the Church since 1994.
Fouad Twal.jpgThe address of January 11th delivered by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude, Fouad Twal at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate to bishops from around the world wasn't that new and substantive but he talked about the tragic spilling of blood of many Christians in recent months, then he made a plea for a common and more deeper communion in the Lord with the hope of sharing the Eucharistic Table on earth. For several years there's been annual meeting of bishops from the various ecclesial communions called the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land and another, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land. Basically, these bishops are meeting this week to discuss their philanthropic work in JerusalemSome of the address is excerpted here:

Now, more than ever, we see the truth of what the Synod Fathers wrote in their propositions to the Holy Father, that our calling to be bearers of peace, "means sharing the cross of Christ." We also wrote: "Amidst a world marked by division and extreme positions, we are called to live communion in the Church staying open to everyone." Clearly this is a calling beyond our human strength at times. It is only the grace of God present in our communion with Him and between us that can help us embrace this mission as a precious gift.
Copts in Rome Jan 9 2011.jpg
In my opinion the public and peaceful demonstration of 500 in downtown Rome today of Coptic Christians expressing their need for religious freedom and protection following recent murders in Egypt is the best thing that they could've done to draw world attention to their plight. Lacking is clear, consistent media coverage of the plight of Christians in Islamic lands. Another group of 200 demonstrated in Milan. A similar time of prayer happened in Vienna.
Pope Shenouda III, Coptic Cathedral in Cairo Jan. 7, 2010.jpgThe Coptic Church, along with other non-Chalcedonian churches, are celebrating Christmas today. Besides some Christological differences, the Copts (the Egyptian Orthodox Christians; there are Coptic Catholics, too!) follow the Julian calendar which is a number of days behind the Gregorian calendar. About 10% of the Egyptians are Christian.

In this season of Christian-killing by fanatical muslims, truly a season of martyrdom, let us pray for the Copts and give thanks for their witness to Christ. Blessings to Pope Shenouda III. Merry Christmas.
The various news agencies are reporting that Egypt's civil and religious leaders are condemning the New Year's Eve suicide bombing of a Coptic Church which killed 21 people and wounded a reported 100 others. The attack happened with 30 minutes of 2011.

Pope Shenouda III joined with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa and the Egyptian government's Minister for Religious Affairs, Mahmud Hamdi Zaqzuq at a press conference condemning the attack.

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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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Eastern Church category from January 2011.

Eastern Church: December 2010 is the previous archive.

Eastern Church: February 2011 is the next archive.

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