Some recent orthodox church news items are: Patriarchate of Moscow renounces canonical claims in the United States and Canada; Japan’s autonomous church is established by Elpidophoros; celibacy for priests; Christmas fast; and others. This op-ed by John Chryssavgis in Religion News Service provides some background on these issues. Elpidophoros has remained silent.
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Patriarchate of Moscow renounces canonical claims in the United States and Canada
The Patriarchate of Moscow, which governed the Russian Orthodox Church in the North America for over 170 years, had no business making canonical claims on the land of the United States and Canada. The invasion in 1918 was organized by Metropolitan Meletios and violated canonical norms. Thus, the CP’s claims to North America are illegitimate. Moreover, the CP did not renounce their claims because these were innovations introduced by Meletios after he became Patriarch of Constantinople. As such, he violated the rights of Constantinople by becoming Patriarch of Alexandria, and most Local Churches were not willing to recognize these claims.
The Patriarchate of Moscow’s renunciation of its canonical claims in the United States and the Canadian Orthodox Church has come as a surprise to many. The process was not hastily organized, nor did it happen behind closed doors without notifying concerned parties. In fact, the decision to renounce canonical claims in the United States and Canada was reached after much consultation.
Patriarchate of Moscow acknowledges establishment of an autonomous church in Japan
The Orthodox Church of Japan is under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, and is known as the Orthodox Church of Japan or Nihon Harisutosu Seikyokai. This autocephalous church in Japan is also known as the Japanese Orthodox Church. Founded in 1868, the Japanese Orthodox Church was placed under the American Metropolia from 1945 until 1970, when the OCA returned to Moscow. In 1970, the Moscow Patriarchate granted the Japanese Orthodox Church autocephaly. Although the OCA returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in America, the Japanese church was given autonomy. This autonomy is not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate or most other Orthodox churches.
The new constitution also recognizes the autonomous churches of China and Japan. The new constitution was adopted during the Patriarchate of Moscow’s Bishops’ Council in Moscow on February 2-5. The updated constitution was published on the Russian Orthodox Church’s website on Tuesday. The constitution still includes Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, the Baltic States, and the States of Central Asia.
Celibacy for priests
Although the Orthodox Church does not prohibit the marriage of priests, it does require them to remain celibate. This rule was established at the Council of Trent in 1563, after centuries of debate. The Orthodox Church took the same approach to the question of priestly marriage as the Catholic Church, which would eventually return to its former practice. For now, however, the Vatican does not intend to change its celibacy policy anytime soon.
In addition to the priesthood, the Orthodox Church also encourages celibacy for bishops. Bishops are selected from celibate clergy. Although Catholics prefer to remain single, Orthodox bishops do ordained married men. Nevertheless, if the two churches reunited, a priest would be allowed to move between parishes. It would be an advantage for both sides to see that their clergy members have similar beliefs and practices.
The Orthodox Church observes two periods of the Nativity Fast: the first period, from November 15 to December 19, and the second period, from December 12 to Christmas eve. The Greek Orthodox Church in the United States teaches that fasting on Wednesday and Friday must be strictly observed, and one must refrain from meat, fish, dairy products, and wine during the first period. The second period, from December 12 to Christmas eve, begins after the first star is visible in the evening sky.
The traditional Christmas fast in the Orthodox Church is challenging, with the temptations of legalism and pride present. However, it has its spiritual benefits, and the return to more serious fasting may be a key part of the church’s spiritual renewal. Despite the challenges, fasting in the Church may help strengthen the Orthodox Church’s commitment to spiritual renewal. Here are some tips to fasting in the Orthodox Church:
Seven principal sacraments
The Orthodox Church recognizes seven principal sacraments and numerous other Blessings. In addition to these, the Church also has special services and ceremonies for the sick and the deceased, including funerals, memorial services, and great blessing of the water. Listed below are some of these services. To learn more about Orthodox worship, read on! Also, find out why Orthodox worship is so important!
The sacraments of the Orthodox Church are personal means of grace for Christians. When a priest administers a sacrament, he mentions the Christian’s name. There are various lists of sacraments, and early Orthodox writers differ on their number. In fact, some Orthodox theologians list up to ten, while others list two or three. The most important thing to remember is that a sacrament contains both a physical sign and spiritual grace. All blessings and sacraments contain both.
Elpidophoros vs non-Orthodox people in a Greek Orthodox church
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (EPOA) has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. Patriarch Elpidophoros participated in the June march for Black Lives and made a statement on behalf of the American Orthodox. Although he has denied taking a political stance on this issue, the EPOA is supportive of Black Lives Matter and the Democratic Party.
The schismatic archbishop has a controversial position on marriage and the sacrament of Holy Communion. He argues that Christians married in an Orthodox church may receive Holy Communion. His position has raised eyebrows among conservatives. However, he plans to lecture on Orthodox-Catholic relations at Fordham University in September 2020.