Patriarch of Antioch to the Ecumenical Patriarch: We stand by you, dear Brother

Patriarch of Antioch to the Ecumenical Patriarch: We stand by you, dear BrotherPatriarch John X of Antioch and All the East of the Orthodox Church denounced the recent Turkish decision regarding the Church of Hagia Sofia in Constantinople. The Patriarch made his stand in a letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, stating the following:

Your All Holiness and Brother,

“Thou hast shown the earthly beauty of the holy tabernacle of Thy glory to be like unto the splendor of the heavenly firmament, O Lord. Strengthen it forever and ever, and accept our prayers which we unceasingly offer therein unto Thee, through the Theotokos, O Thou Who art the Life and Resurrection of all.”

With these words, the hand of the hymnographer chose to describe the Church of Hagia Sofia, which was inaugurated in Constantinople in the middle of the sixth century. With these words also, the Holy Church of Constantinople and all the Christians of the East have consecrated this holy and priceless architectural and ecclesial jewel. They saw in its splendor a reflection of the heavenly abode, of the dwelling of the Holy God Most-High. These same words survive in the church liturgy, as to remind us that the earthly glory contains part of the heavenly glory, no matter how sublime the latter. Notwithstanding that the glory of the heavens is the glory of the humble self, the human eye is eager, still, for a glance at heaven’s majesty and symbols, here on earth. Saying this there comes to our minds the theological exegesis proper to the Church of Antioch, which stems from the concrete and tangible world to approach the intangible realms, emphasizing the equal importance of the body and the soul.

This depicts a live picture of the Church of Hagia Sofia in Caonstantinople, where earthly glory reflects part of the heavenly magnificence. We say this because we all know the history of this church and its status in the early twentieth century. We say this, having in mind the ups and downs of history that transformed it into a museum in the last century.

Your All Holiness and Brother,

It is with much regret that we received the news of the Turkish government’s decision to convert the Church of Hagia Sofia to a mosque.

We are dismayed by this decision. We strongly denounce and condemn any act that could counterfeit the historical identity of our homeland.

The recent decision aims at marginalizing the Christian presence in the East, not to say that it attempts to eradicate the remaining pioneering role and Christian presence in peaceful coexistence with the rest of the religious groups. History contains abundant evidence of tolerance and religious brotherhood in mutual respect. This decision comes to undermine all the efforts deployed by the countries of this East to build states of citizenship that respect religious diversity and promote the positive values of secularization. Yet, here is a decision that opens the wounds and thus, alas, reinforces extremism and eliminating the other.

We stand by you, dear Brother, joining our prayers for your Holy Church and this wounded East. We support every effort of yours to enhance your presence in your own land, the land of your ancestors, the Church of Constantinople, the new Rome to which we are all bonded by brotherhood and unity of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Greeting your holiness with an embrace in Christ, we convey to you the solidarity of our faithful in the Church of Antioch and All the East, asking the Lord our Savior to grant you many years of ministry in this holy parish, providing them with the wellsprings of salvation.


Serbian Bishop Antonije awarded with the Medal of St. Mark of Ephesus

The Serbian Orthodox Bishop Antoniје of Moravica was awarded with the highest decoration of the Department of Foreign Church Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church - the medal of St. Mark of Ephesus I degree.

On Sunday, July 12, 2020, on the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul - the church  feast of the Representation of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Moscow, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, President of the Department of Foreign Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, presented to His Grace Antonije, Bishop of Moravica and  dean of the Representation of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Moscow, the highest decoration of that Department - the medal of St. Mark of Ephesus I degree.

Holy Sepulchre closed again amidst wave of new infections

Photo: Church of the Holy Sepulchre, encompassing the site of Christ’s Crucifixion and holy Resurrection, was closed to parishioners and pilgrims again on Friday due to continuing coronavirus pandemic, reports the Times of Israel with reference to “multiple reports in Arab media.”

The Church was initially closed in March. Restrictions initially last one week, but the Church ended up being closed for two months.

However, both Israeli and Palestinian leadership are now adopting new, stricter measures in an attempt to curb a second, bigger wave of mass infections.

It is unclear how long the Holy Sepulchre will remain closed this time or whether services will continue behind closed doors.

The Palestinian West Bank experienced its deadliest day since the start of the pandemic on Friday, with 5 deaths and 331 new cases. Israel’s Health Ministry reported 1,684 new cases on Friday—the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.


Unwavering support of Church of Greece for Ecumenical Patriarchate

Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all Greece contacted Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Sunday.

The Archbishop expressed the full solidarity and unwavering support of the Church of Greece for the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Encyclical from Archbishop Elpidophoros and the Holy Eparchial Synod on Hagia Sophia

Holy Wisdom, Arise! – Ἁγία Σοφία, Ὀρθοί!

To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America