Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev) Has Been Canonized
On February 3, at the 5th plenary session of the Holy Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, held at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, the proposal to canonize Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev) was approved. The members of the Council, which included Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, unanimously voted for the glorification of Archbishop Seraphim, who has been venerated for many years in Bulgaria and Russia. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill then gave Metropolitan Ioann an icon of St. Seraphim painted at St. Petersburg Theological Academy as a gift to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. —pravoslavie.ru
Pope to Oriental Orthodox Leader: Ecumenism of Martyrs Calls Us to Unity
Today’s martyrs have become “the seed of Christian unity,” Pope Francis said February 29 during an audience with the leader of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. “The ecumenism of the martyrs is a summons to us, here and now, to advance on the path to ever greater unity,” the Pope said at the meeting at the Vatican with Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox (photo). “Just as in the early Church the shedding of the blood of martyrs became the seed of new Christians, so today the blood of the many martyrs of all the Churches has become the seed of Christian unity.”—CNA
Georgian Orthodox Church Rejects Ecumenical Document for Worldwide Orthodox Council
In February, the Georgian Orthodox Church rejected a document on ecumenism, prepared for the worldwide council of Orthodox leaders scheduled to take place in Crete in June.
The rejection of the preparatory document by one of the world’s 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches poses the first serious challenge for the Council’s planners. A key organizing principle for the Council has been that any statement or document produced by the participants must have unanimous support. The opposition of the Georgian hierarchy also illustrates the deep suspicions about ecumenical work within some Orthodox circles. Patriarch Ilia II of Tbilisi, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, announced that the Georgian Synod had rejected the document on ecumenism. “Our Church is that which saves our country and our people,” he said. “In the future our Church will stand as a guard for Orthodoxy.” —Catholic World News
Patriarch Kirill Calls on Catholics to Jointly Oppose De-Christianization of Human Civilization
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has called on Orthodox Christians and Catholics to join efforts in the fight against the ousting of Christian values. “We still have some doctrinal disagreements, but no one is preventing us from fighting, hand in hand, to end the persecutions, the ousting of Christian values, to end the de-Christianization of the 21st century human civilization,” the patriarch said after conducting a prayer service near the Jesus Christ statue on Mount Corcovado, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the world’s largest Catholic country, in mid-February.
All travelers, especially seafarers, know, though not so much these days as they did in the days when the Americas were being discovered: when the human ability to weather a storm or other hardships runs out, there is always hope for the power of God, the Russian Church leader said.
Today, many Christians are being killed in the Middle East and Africa, their churches and monasteries are being destroyed, and whole settlements and towns of believers are being exterminated. All the while, the global community has been unable to work out joint approaches on how to combat terrorism, Kirill said.
Christians also suffer in Europe “where an evil political force disguised as tolerance is ousting Christianity out of the public life… when some countries ban the use of the word ‘Christmas’ and replace it with an incomprehensible one, or simply call it a ‘winter holiday’; when a country passes legislation that justifies the human sin in the refusal to understand marriage as a sacred union between man and woman; when humankind still suffers from a huge number of abortions killing children, from the ever increasing number of divorces,” said the Russian patriarch.
“Like those ancient seafarers caught in a dreadful storm, we have no other hope but only in God,” he said. — Interfax