Brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees and Parish Councils, Department Chairs and Beloved Faithful:
Greetings to you and your families in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray you all enjoyed a blessed feast of Theophany.
2015 is an historic year in the life of our God-protected archdiocese. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the falling-asleep of St. Raphael of Brooklyn as well as the 120th anniversary of our Mother Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Brooklyn and, therefore, our Antiochian presence on these blessed shores.
Our father in Christ, Patriarch JOHN X, inaugurated this jubilee year during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn on December 7th. Throughout 2015, we will mark this anniversary at various places and locations, including, but not limited to, the Antiochian Village, St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY, the archdiocese convention in Boston and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Likewise, the theme of our convention and parish life conferences, as well as the various festivals and contests is centered on, and will reflect on the life of this “good shepherd of the lost sheep in America.”
In addition to these archdiocesan events, it is my desire and directive that each pastor and parish incorporate this jubilee year and highlight the life and legacy of St. Raphael in their divine services, sermons, retreats and bulletins, as well as other community and social events like church festivals. There are already a variety of resources available on antiochian.org/straphaelofbrooklyn to help with this including a downloadable version of the official logo and information on ordering the special commemorative banner to publicize this historic year both within the parish and to the public. Please make use of these resources as you celebrate in your parishes.
Praying that St. Raphael of Brooklyn will continue to intercede for us, I remain, Your Father in Christ,
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America
Click here to see original letter.
New Head of Antiochian Church in America Enthroned;
Antiochian Patriarch to Meet with Officials on Issues in Syria
The second largest Orthodox Christian Church in North America has a new leader, enthroned by the head of one of the oldest churches on earth.
On Sat. Dec. 6, the Patriarch of Antioch and All of the East, Patriarch John X of Damascus, Syria, enthroned Metropolitan Joseph as new head of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America at that Church’s national St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York.
Metropolitan Joseph was selected by the Holy Synod of Antioch on July 3 to succeed Metropolitan Philip who died March 19 and headed the Antiochian Church in North America for over 48 years. Metropolitan Joseph was formerly the Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West.
He now heads the entire Antiochian Orthodox Church in America, with nine bishops, over 400 clergy, 266 parishes and missions, and about 100,000 faithful throughout the United States and Canada. Over the last 40 years, the Antiochian church has received a sizable number of converts to Orthodoxy in the Americas.
At the enthronement, Metropolitan Joseph talked about his plans to be out among his people in the United States and Canada, with a special emphasis on engaging youth and meeting their needs.
“We must listen to our young people and find out how we, the Church, can help them and appeal to them,” Metropolitan Joseph said.
The Antiochian Orthodox Church worldwide is headed by the Patriarch of Antioch John X and is the largest Arab Christian church in the world, with churches in the Middle East, Europe, North and South America and Australia.
Patriarch John X came to the United States to enthrone Metropolitan Joseph at a time when his homeland, Syria, is racked with strife by ISIS extremists. So while in the U.S., he will also meet with the Secretary General of the United Nations and the White House about the situation of Syrian Christians today.
The Patriarch’s brother, Orthodox Bishop Paul Yazigi of Aleppo, Syria, was one of two church hierarchs kidnapped almost two years ago in Syria. Nothing is known of his whereabouts.
“For centuries Arab Christians and Muslims in Syria have lived alongside one another in harmony,” the Patriarch said. “And now we have these foreign elements who have come into our country and disrupt our peace.”
The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church is the world’s oldest Arabic Christian Church. It was founded by Ss. Paul and Barnabas in 42 A.D. and its first bishop was St .Peter the Apostle, who later went on to be Bishop of Rome. Patriarch John X is the 167th successor of St. Peter.
The Bible states in Acts 11:26 “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”
The Patriarchate is one of the four ancient Patriarchates within the Orthodox Church today – the others being the Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Alexandria (Egypt) and Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey).
The Orthodox Church is the second largest Christian Church in the world, with over 250 million adherents.
AXIOS! MOUSTAHIQ! HE IS WORTHY! His Eminence the Metropolitan Archbishop of Western and Central Europe has been elected Patriarch of the Great City-of-God Antioch and all the East. The Patriarch-elect Youhanna X (Yaziji) was elected by the members of the Holy Synod earlier today, December 17, during a special session held at the Balamand Patriarchal Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.
The Patriarch-elect was born in 1955 in the city of Latakiya, Syria into a pious Orthodox home. His father was Syrian and was a professor of Arabic Language. His mother is Lebanese. He has four brothers, with his brother Paul being the current Metropolitan of Aleppo, and he has one sister who is a nun. During his early studies, he played a key role in the leadership of Orthodox youth, and organized many choirs to sing in the local churches.
The Patriarch-elect received his primary, secondary and university education in Latakiya, Syria graduating with a degree in civil engineering. He earned a degree in theology in 1978 from the St. John of Damascus School of Orthodox of Theology at the Balamand University and a doctorate in theology (emphases in liturgy and Byzantine music) in 1983 from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. He was tonsured a monk at the Athonite Monastery of St Paul on the Holy Mountain, was ordained to the holy diaconate in 1979 and to the holy priesthood in 1983, and in 1981 became professor of Liturgical Studies at the St. John of Damascus School of Orthodox Theology at the Balamand University. He assumed the position of dean of that theological school from 1988-1991 and again from 2001-2005. He was elected and consecrated to the sacred episcopacy in 1995 with the title Bishop of al-Hosn. He has served as superior of the Monastery of St George al-Humayrah in the Christian Valley (Wadi al-Nasara) in Syria, superior of the Our Lady of Balamand Monastery, and spiritual father to the Convent of the Dormition in Blemmana, Syria. In 2008 he was elected and enthroned as the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe.
The Patriarch-elect has had strong influence in the Middle East and other areas , having participated in many international Orthodox and ecumenical conferences in countries such as Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Cyprus, Russia, and Great Britain. His love of music has led him to translate many selections of liturgical music. He is the author of a work on the principles of Byzantine Music which he first wrote in 1990, with a second edition having been published in 2001. In 1999 he lectured at the Balamand University on the subject of the contribution of the Church of Antioch to liturgical development in the 6th and 7th centuries. He has written scholarly works on the life of St. Nektarios The Wonderworker, the role of marriage in the life of Orthodox clergy, the life of St. Macrina, St. Gregory Nazianzus, and a comprehensive work on the life of the saints published in 1984. In 2002, he lectured at Oxford University on the topic of the Church in the Middle East, and also at the biennial Clergy Symposium for the Archdiocese of North America.
Record of Protest Against the Infringement of Religious Liberty by the Department of Health and Human Services
In this ruling by HHS, religious hospitals, educational institutions, and other organizations will be required to pay for the full cost of contraceptives (including some abortion-inducing drugs) and sterilizations for their employees, regardless of the religious convictions of the employers.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for “contraceptive services” including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions. Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care. We, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, call upon HHS Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration to rescind this unjust ruling and to respect the religious freedom guaranteed all Americans by the First Amendment.
Dear to Christ:
Greetings to you, your families and your congregations on this feast of the Holy Twelve Apostles. May it be blessed for your salvation. Happy feast!
In light of recent events, I share with you the following longstanding (and unchanging) position paper on "same sex unions" issued by the heads of all the canonical Orthodox Christian jurisdictions in the United States in 2003.
Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
NEW YORK – In light of recent events, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America reminds the faithful of the very instructive statement issued already in 2003 by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), which was at the time the Pan-Orthodox representative body in the Americas. The same statement, which follows, still stands today.
Statement on Moral Crisis in Our Nation
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
As members of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), representing more than 5 million Orthodox Christians in the United States, Canada and Mexico, we are deeply concerned about recent developments regarding “same sex unions.”
The Orthodox Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, firmly grounded in Holy Scripture, 2000 years of church tradition, and canon law, holds that marriage consists in the conjugal union of a man and a woman, and that authentic marriage is blessed by God as a sacrament of the Church. Neither Scripture nor Holy Tradition blesses or sanctions such a union between persons of the same sex.
Holy Scripture attests that God creates man and woman in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:27-31), that those called to do so might enjoy a conjugal union that ideally leads to procreation. While not every marriage is blessed with the birth of children, every such union exists to create of a man and a woman a new reality of “one flesh.” This can only involve a relationship based on gender complementarity. “God made them male and female… So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mark 10:6-8).
The union between a man and a woman in the Sacrament of Marriage reflects the union between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:21-33). As such, marriage is necessarily monogamous and heterosexual. Within this union, sexual relations between a husband and wife are to be cherished and protected as a sacred expression of their love that has been blessed by God. Such was God’s plan for His human creatures from the very beginning. Today, however, this divine purpose is increasingly questioned, challenged or denied, even within some faith communities, as social and political pressures work to normalize, legalize and even sanctify same-sex unions.
The Orthodox Church cannot and will not bless same-sex unions. Whereas marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred institution ordained by God, homosexual union is not. Like adultery and fornication, homosexual acts are condemned by Scripture (Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This being said, however, we must stress that persons with a homosexual orientation are to be cared for with the same mercy and love that is bestowed by our Lord Jesus Christ upon all of humanity. All persons are called by God to grow spiritually and morally toward holiness.
As heads of the Orthodox Churches in America and members of SCOBA, we speak with one voice in expressing our deep concern over recent developments. And we pray fervently that the traditional form of marriage, as an enduring and committed union only between a man and a woman, will be honored.August 13, 2003
† Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
† Metropolitan HERMAN
Orthodox Church in America
† Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
† Archbishop NICOLAE
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America America and Canada
† Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada
† Metropolitan JOSEPH
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
† Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos, Treasurer
Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA
† Metropolitan CONSTANTINE
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA
† Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America