Patriarch Kirill urges prayers for rain amid Russian heat wave

Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church has offered prayers for rain to relieve a drought that has destroyed crops and led to thousands of forest and peat bog fires.

"I am urging all the faithful sons and daughters of the Russian Orthodox Church to unite in one prayer to God that he send rains to our scorched soil," the Interfax news agency quoted the patriarch as saying while visiting the Nizhny Novgorod region, one of the badly hit areas.

Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart Officiates at Feast-Day Celebrations at Sydney’s SS Peter and Paul Cathedral

Services were conducted in the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul in Sydney, Australia, by two bishops on the weekend of July 10, 2010: His Grace Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart and His Grace Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church. They were joined by the Senior Priest of the Cathedral, Protopriest George Lapardin and other priests.

Moscow Patriarchate appeals for Orthodox unity in Ukraine

Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church, on an official visit to Ukraine, has appealed to Orthodox believers there who have broken with the Moscow Patriarchate to return to its jurisdiction.

Crucifix ban in Italian school comes under fire from churches

Roman Catholic and Orthodox bishops have urged the European Court of Human Rights to revoke a judgment against school crucifixes in Italy as the institution prepared to consider an appeal on the issue.

"We hope people's religious feelings will be taken into account," the Italian (Catholic) Bishops' Conference had written in a statement on 16 June. "A decision not to penalise the presence of the Cross and religious symbols in the public sphere would reflect the principle of subsidiarity which regulates relations between States and European institutions."

Orthodox women seek "theology of healing"

The need for a "theology of healing" was the central theme of a recent international encounter between Orthodox women and Christians of both sexes from other traditions.

Female leadership in the life of the church - be it in the area of worship, education, administration or social care - should not be "understood as seeking power and prestige but as a deeper commitment to love and service that responds to the sacrificing love of Christ" stated the women and men who took part in the 8-12 July meeting at the St Vlash Theological Academy in Albania.