The Society of St John Chrysostom promotes greater appreciation of the spiritual, theological and liturgical traditions of Eastern Christendom, works and prays for the unity of the Churches of East and West, and encourages support for the Eastern Churches.
Tonight at 6 o'clock in Paris, Mass was celebrated at Notre Dame on the feast of its Dedication, for the first time since fire devastated the roof and part of its vault was destroyed on the 15th April 2019. At the end of Mass, Monseigneur Pascal Gollnisch (left), director-general of Oeuvre d'Orient (a Catholic relief agency for Eastern Christians) presented the Archbishop of Paris, Monseigneur Michel Aupetit, with a Cross carved from the stone of the Maronite Catholic cathedral of St Elias in Aleppo in Syria, which had itself been badly damaged in the civil and religious strife between 2011 and 2016. The Cross will be installed in Notre Dame when it is restored. Thus there will always be a spiritual bond between the Church in France, and the Christians of all Churches who had been persecuted and had their homes and churches attacked and destroyed in hatred of the Faith in the Middle East. The Archbishop observed that, on the feast of Notre Dame's dedication, how appropriate it was that they were recalling the Stone once rejected Who became the chief Cornerstone.
Today the Lord Who raised the dry land from the waters is raised upon the Cross. A crown of thorns is placed upon the head of the King of angels. He cloth the sky with clouds; now today He is clothed with a purple robe. In the Jordan He freed Adam; now today He is slapped in the face. The Bridegroom of the Church is fastened with nails; the Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear. We worship Your Passion, O Christ; we worship Your Passion, O Christ; we worship Your Passion, O Christ. Now let us behold Your glorious Resurrection.
Antiphon 15, sung by Fr Shafiq Abouzayd, Melkite parish of St John Chrysostom, London, at Procession of Cross, 18 April 2019
The delayed editions for Chrysostom for October 2018 and Theophany 2019 will be issued before Pascha, after the imminent Ecumenical Marian Pilgrimage to Walsingham, which is a biennial major focus of the Society. See www.ecumenicalmarianpilgrimage.org.uk
We will also announce events for spring, summer and autumn (our annual Christopher Morris Lecture).
Catholic and Coptic Orthodox Archbishops to pray Vespers together
Press Release for immediate release 26.10.2018
At the kind invitation of Bishop Hlib Lonchyna the Eparchial Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Mayfair, London, the first Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos will be present with Archbishop Kevin McDonald, Emeritus Archbishop of Southwark, at Vespers in the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral on Tuesday 6 November 2018 at 6.15pm. The homily will be given by Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod, the leader of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the UK. The Vespers will be followed by a Reception.
The rapprochement between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches is one of the most significant ecumenical developments of the last hundred years. The Popes of the Catholic Church and Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches have agreed joint statements that move beyond the doctrinal conflicts of the past, and they have been able to proclaim their Faith in Jesus Christ with a united voice and minister collaboratively, regardless of existing and continuing differences.
The joint celebration expresses a deep desire for unity at the grass roots of the Churches. The evening is one of the fruits of the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum of Great Britain which meets precisely to promote rapprochement and to establish ever greater collaboration between the Churches. All ecumenical endeavours are rooted and grounded in prayer, particularly in shared prayer. The kind invitation and hospitality of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London provides a beautiful place to come together for this evening prayer, which includes the heartfelt desire to make our own the prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ that “they all may be one” (John 17:21).
All who wish to attend this ecumenical event are very welcome, please RSVP by 31 October to Canon John O’Toole, Secretary Department for Dialogue and Unity, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales 020 7901 4811
The Oriental Orthodox Church is a family of six self-governing Church bodies in the East and is the fourth largest communion of Christian Churches. The Oriental Orthodox Churches include: the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria (Egypt), the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (also called the Indian Orthodox Church) and the Syriac Orthodox Church. Each of these Churches is autonomous while maintaining communion with each other.
Each self-governing church in Oriental Orthodoxy has as its highest office a patriarchate. The patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria is also known as the Pope. Most of the 70 million members of the Oriental Orthodox Family of Churches live in Ethiopia, Egypt, Eritrea, Armenia, India, Syria, and Lebanon. Oriental Orthodox churches also exist in North America, Australia, Europe, and other parts of the world.
The Oriental Orthodox family of Churches is separate from the Eastern Orthodox family of Churches. They recognise the first three ecumenical councils of Nicea, Constantinople, and Ephesus. They are known as ‘non-Chalcedonian’ or ‘miaphysite’ not monophysite.
Archbishop Angaelosis widely recognised for his extensive advocacy work, and as a result he was conferred the honour of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen for ‘Services to International Religious Freedom.’ Archbishop Angaelos has also been conferred the Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Coventry Cross of Nails for Reconciliation. With a pastoral ministry spanning more than two decades, Archbishop Angaelos specialises in youth ministry and travels around the world to speak at youth conferences and conventions.
Archbishop Kevin McDonaldis the Catholic Emeritus Archbishop of Southwark. He worked for eight years inin Romeon the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unityand is the Catholic Co-Chair of the Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Forum and Chair of the Committee for Catholic-Jewish relations.
The following article appeared on page 5 of the 13 November 1959 edition of The Catholic Herald: Eastern Churches Society Forming Links of CharityA gesture of goodwill towards separated Christians was successfully made by London Catholics last Friday, when the recently revived Society of St. John Chrysostom invited Orthodox and Anglican clergymen to attend a lecture by Mr. Donald A ti water on " The Society of St. John Chrysostom and its Patron Saint ".
Fr. Kyril, a Russian Orthodox priest, was present, and wore cassock and pectoral cross. The Rev. C. E. Hampson, of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, was the Anglican representative.
The Fellowship. , mainly an Anglican venture. is first in the field in this modern move to replace prejudice with charity among Christians in Britain.
That the Society of St. John Chrysostom. a Catholic organisation having as one of its objects to get Catholics to know and love the Eastern Christian tradition, intends quickly to establish links of charity with other Christians was shown by the presence at the meeting of priests whose avowed aim this is. They included Mgr. J. M. T. Barton; Fr. Maluga, C.SS.R.. Vicar General of the Ukrainians; Fr. C. Sipovich. M.I.C.. superior of the Byzantine Rite Marian House, London; and Prebendary Pilkington, of Westminster Cathedral The late Dom Bede Winslow, O.S.B., a pioneer in this work. would have attended too, for he had been invited. The Society has arranged for a funeral service in the Byzantine rite to be celebrated for him on Friday. November 27. at 7 p.m., at the Saffron Hill Ukrainian Church, London.
Mr. Attwater, the expert in Eastern Church matters, prefaced his remarks by complimenting the Ukrainians in choosing the second Archbishop of Canterbury. the Greek monk St. Theodore, as patron for their London church. "Cardinal Godfrey, the president of the society, and their Exarch, is his 67th successor." he said. "Theodore gave us the basic structure of the English Catholic Church." When questioners turned from the subject-matter of the lecture and began to comment on the prospects for unity, Fr. Sipovich wisely intervened to point out that the society exists to get Catholics to appreciate "the treasury of theology and devotion to be found in the East". Once this is done, and a bond of sympathy established. then we can go on and talk about unity.
Tonight (Friday) the feast of St. John Chrysostom in the Eastern calendar, Fr. Maluga, Fr. Sipovich, and Fr. Alexander will concelebrate the Liturgy at seven o'clock in Marian House, to which all are invited.
The Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced on 7 September 2018 that within the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has appointed as its Exarchs in Kiev His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon from the United States, and His Grace Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton from Canada, both of whom are serving the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in their respective countries under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Professor Antoine Arjakovsky, Orthodox historian and author of “From Saint Petersburg to Moscow: Anatomy of the Russian Soul” (Salvator, 2018), writing for La Croix (7.8.2018) explains what is at stake with the possibly imminent acknowledgement of autocephaly for the Church of the Patriarchate of Kiev.
The Orthodox Christian Church, ever since she ceased to acknowledge the primate of the Church of Rome, considers the Patriarch of Constantinople as the “first among equals” of the fourteen Churches which recognise each other as Orthodox.
This primacy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, termed “Ecumenical” since at least the 5th century A.D., has been challenged by the Church of Muscovy from the 15th century onwards, when the Imperial City was subjugated by Turkish invaders. At the end of the 16th century, the Patriarch of Constantinople was forced by the Ottoman Turks to bring himself to recognise the Moscow Church’s status of autocephaly, that is to say, its power to elect its own primate without seeking Constantinople’s authorisation. Thus the Church of Moscow came to bear the honour of the fifth place among the Churches of the East.
But the Ecumenical Patriarch refused to accept that the jurisdictional authority of the Patriarchate of Moscow extended to include Ukraine. Indeed the Church of Kiev, which received baptism in 988 as a result of the missionary effort of the Byzantine Church, was still recognised, even after the conquest of eastern Ukraine by the Czars at the end of the 17th century, as coming under the de jure authority of the Church of Constantinople.
This is the basis on which the Patriarch of Constantinople granted the status of autocephaly to the Polish Orthodox Church in 1924. Now this Church contained within itself numerous Orthodox parishes that are situated in what is now western Ukraine. In 1994, following the same logic, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople integrated the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the United States and Canada, which had self-proclaimed its autocephaly in the era of Soviet persecution, into his own jurisdiction.
The Tomos of Autocephaly Likely to be Granted Soon
In the present day, Patriarch Bartholomew, whose headquarters are in Istanbul but who is still called “of Constantinople” for the sake of the historical legitimacy of his see, has gone one step further. In all likelihood, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is going to grant the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Church of the Patriarchate of Kiev.
This Church, led since 1992 by Patriarch Philaret (Denysenko), has not so far been recognised by any Orthodox Church in the world, because Moscow is categorically opposed to it. Indeed , ever since 1688 the Patriarchate of Moscow has had a Ukrainian Orthodox Church of its own creation subject to its direct jurisdiction.
Nevertheless, since Ukrainian independence in 1991, the great majority of Ukrainian Orthodox have chosen to follow this self-proclaimed Church (with a good 15 million faithful, as opposed to the 10 million belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church coming under Moscow, even though the latter counts a larger number of registered parishes), so as both to extricate themselves from the control of Moscow and to worship in the Ukrainian language (and not in Old Slavonic, the liturgical language used by the Patriarchate of Moscow in Russia and Ukraine).
Re-establishing Historical Truth
There are three main reasons why Patriarch Bartholomew’s decision is wise. First, contrary to the myth propagated in Russia, the Byzantine Patriarch is re-establishing the historical truth in recalling that the Church of Moscow, which only dates from 1588, is the daughter of the see of Kiev and not the other way round.
The political consequences to this are well understood. Clearly, if Moscow received its baptism subsequently to the conversion of Prince Volodymyr a Chersonesus in Crimea in 988, it was mediated by the Church of Kiev. The annexation of Crimea by Russia, against which Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has made no protest, effectively amounts to the suppression of the Church of Kiev’s identity, which is something that the Patriarch of Constantinople cannot accept.
Secondly, Patriarch Bartholomew is granting recognition to the maturity of the Orthodox Church of Kiev that it has been awaiting for at least a century. Despite the marginalisation that it has been subjected to, this Church has maintained a highly dynamic ecclesial life. In particular it is in constant dialogue with Ukraine’s Catholic and Protestant Churches. Meanwhile, the Patriarchate of Moscow in Ukraine, to judge by the Pochaiv monastery in Volhynia, is renowned for its highly intransigent attitude towards “western heretics”.
Finally, Constantinople, after the snub of the Russian Church’s no-show at the Pan-Orthodox Council at Kolymbari in Crete in 2016, is reasserting its leadership vis-à-vis Moscow, reminding it that throughout history and to the present day it has always been Constantinople that granted the status of autocephaly to local Churches (for example the Church of Serbia, or that of Romania).
Breach of Communion between Moscow and Constantinople Probable
It seems obvious, in the light of declarations from the Russian Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), but also from the strenuous efforts of the Kremlin on this front (leading to the recent expulsion of two Russian diplomats by Greece and a meeting between President Putin and Patriarch Kirill on 11th July right in the middle of the football World Cup), that Constantinople’s decision is going to provoke a breach of communion between Moscow and Constantinople.
It is also going mean that each Orthodox Church (and the Catholic, Protestant and Anglican Churches too) will have to choose sides. There is every chance that Constantinople’s decision could be received favourably by the majority. It is also certain that in Ukraine it will lead to many of the Orthodox faithful, who were once hesitant to belong to a non-canonical Church, turning to the Patriarchate of Kiev.
Doubtless, too, President Poroshenko, who is heavily invested in all this, and who carries with him the support of the great majority of deputies in the Rada, will benefit from a big popularity boost. But this schism, a further injury in relations between Russia and the rest of the world, will need to be treated. For this to happen, it will be necessary to move beyond a narrowly political and confessional logic to a vision that is ecumenical and oriented towards the common good.
Pragmatism towards Russian Orthodoxy is beginning to look like appeasement, says Fr Raymond J de Souza in the Catholic Herald Is Pope Francis, like Donald Trump, guilty of abject capitulation to Russia’s Vladimir Putin? That question was raised by one of the most respected Vatican commentators, John Allen, bringing to greater prominence a criticism often made behind closed doors.
“As with Trump, albeit in a very different key, the question that appears destined to plague Francis going forward is how much is too much – when flexibility and pragmatism, in other words, turn into craven placation?” Allen wrote. “So far, the verdict would appear to be that for both men, the answer remains a work in progress.”
Allen recounts how, since the first months of his pontificate, Pope Francis has proved an ally of Putin in Syria, where Russia has now re-established its Middle East presence in an alliance with President Bashar al-Assad. And since 2014, Pope Francis has been muted in his criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, repeatedly disappointing members of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC).
I noted here last month (in our June 15 issue) that, in a meeting with a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church in May, Pope Francis appeared to take the Russian side in all matters Ukrainian. That was noticed, apparently, in Kiev, for on July 3 there was a private audience granted to Major-Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the UGCC, by the Holy Father, ostensibly to honour the 1,030th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus’ in 988.
The UGCC statement pointedly noted that the meeting had been requested by Major-Archbishop Shevchuk. Indeed, the lengthy statement by the UGCC after the meeting systematically refuted all the points made by Pope Francis in his meeting with the Russian Orthodox.
All of which is remarkable in 2018, which marks 30 years since the millennium of the baptism of the eastern Slavs in 988. In 1988, with the Cold War still on, Gorbachev’s Soviet Union was prepared to recognise the baptism of Kievan Rus’, the kingdom out which Russia, Belarus and Ukraine would eventually emerge.
In 1988, all were still part of the Soviet Union, and the Russian Orthodox Church claimed for itself the exclusive inheritance of the baptism of 988. Indeed, for the Russian Orthodox, the UGCC should not even exist, and the Soviet Union was right to crush it.
John Paul, though, insisted that the Greek Catholics of the Ukraine – still suppressed and illegal at that time – participate in the millennium celebrations, as heirs to the baptism of Kievan Rus’. He published two apostolic letters to that effect in the spring of 1988, and celebrated Mass with the UGCC hierarchy in Rome in July 1988.
John Paul was making an argument in 1988 that the millennium belonged to more than just Moscow. Vladimir the Great ruled from Kiev – there was no Moscow at the time. He chose to be baptised in the Byzantine tradition of Christianity – this was before the split with what would become Orthodoxy – in Crimea.
That is why, when Putin speaks about Crimea, he partially justifies Russia’s annexation of it by noting that the baptism of Vladimir took place there, making it a place of Russian heritage.
John Paul and the Ukrainian Catholics saw it differently. The baptism of Russia in 988 was a baptism into a Byzantine Christianity in full communion with Rome, and took place in Ukraine’s capital. Today, who are the Ukrainians of Byzantine tradition who are in full communion with Rome? The UGCC.
“The gift of the Christian faith has been passed down as our greatest treasure,” said Major-Archbishop Shevchuk on July 15. “Today we thank God that it was the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church who was privileged to be a successor to Prince Vladimir and his holy baptism.”
In 1988, both the UGCC and the Vatican were making the same argument. In 2018, Major-Archbishop Shevchuk is repeating the argument independent of Rome, or even in contradiction to it.
The political tension between Russia and Ukraine and the conflict between the Ukrainian Orthodox and the Russia Orthodox are all rooted in the history of 988. Over the millennium the gravitational centre of Orthodoxy and political power in the Slavic world shifted east from Kiev to Moscow. Today, Russia – both Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church – argue that this should mean a Ukraine that takes its lead, politically and religiously, from Moscow. Ukrainians disagree, feeling that Ukraine ought to move away from Moscow’s dominance, re-staking its own claim to the inheritance of 988.
July 28 is the date marking the baptism of Vladimir and the eastern Slavs. Thirty years ago, the Polish Pope made the relevant claims on behalf of the Ukrainian Catholics, for the millennium was not only about the past but also the present. Today, Major-Archbishop Shevchuk does the same in Kiev. But the Holy See appears to have forgotten the position it took in 1988.
Fr Raymond J de Souza is a priest of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario, and editor-in-chief of convivium.ca
This article first appeared in the July 27 2018 issue of the Catholic Herald. Please visit the Catholic Herald website to see it there, and to read the magazine in full, from anywhere in the world, by going here.