The Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos flew to Qatar to lay the foundation stone for the orthodox church in Qatar. A Jurisdictional dispute has been reported regarding control of an Orthodox parish in Qatar. Observant Orthodox Christians observe a fast on Christmas Eve. A new Orthodox church in Qatar will serve the region’s growing Muslim population and attract more Orthodox Christians. While the building process is still ongoing, the Patriarch is reportedly pleased with the progress.
Table of Contents
Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos flew to Qatar
Theophilos is a former Archbishop of Tabor. He was consecrated to the episcopacy in February 2005 by the late Patriarch Irenaios. Before being named Patriarch, he served as Exarch of the Holy Sepulchre in Qatar. He is a cousin of former US CIA director George Tenet. During his recent trip to Israel, he met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and toured holy sites.
His Beatitude flew to Qatar on Thursday, February 21, and met with the Government of Qatar. He was accompanied by Most Reverend Archbishop Makarios of Jerusalem, Priests and associates of the Holy Archdiocese of Qatar, and representatives from the Emirate of Qatar. He stayed at a hotel that was designated for His visit. He also had a dinner at a local restaurant, accompanied by His Beatitude.
Foundation stone laid for Orthodox church in Qatar
The Foundation stone has been laid for the construction of the St Dionysius Orthodox Church in Al Ain. The ceremony will take place on April 20 at 4.30 p.m. The ceremony will be officiated by Bishop Dr Yuhanon Mar Dimetrios, Metropolitan of Delhi diocese, and Bishop Dr Abraham Mar Seraphim, Diocesan Metropolitan of Bangalore. The project will include a parish hall, VIP suite, toilet block, substation, and parish hall. It will be located in the Mezyad district of Al Ain.
The Catholic community of Doha has been waiting for a proper place of worship for several years. The community is very enthusiastic about the new church, said Queny Daniel, a resident of Doha for a few years. The parish priest, who declined to be named, said that the Christian community is very strong in Qatar and there is a lot of enthusiasm for the project. The new building will also have facilities for community activities and housing for the priests. Construction is expected to begin soon and it is estimated that the church will be completed in 2007.
Observant Orthodox Christians fast on Christmas Eve
Observant Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on the same day as Western Christians, but the holiday is different. The Coptic church observes a fast of 43 days before Christmas. The Coptic church also uses a revised Julian calendar. It is the largest Christian denomination in the Middle East. The Coptic people observe a similar fast, and are also known as “Maronite Christians.”
The tradition of the Orthodox fast includes giving up meat, dairy products, fish, oil and wine. Fasting is associated with anticipation, thanksgiving, and deep reflections on God becoming human. During the fast, the fasting period is accompanied by prayers and meditation. Observant Orthodox Christians in Qatar are no exception to these fasting practices. A blessing from a priest is required before fasting is permitted, so be sure to seek his guidance before attempting the practice.
Observant Orthodox Christians in Qatar have a traditional 40-day Nativity Fast. The first star of Christmas morning signals the start of fasting, which continues until the end of Vesperal Divine Liturgy, when a meal of wine and oil is allowed. The day begins with Royal Hours in the morning, during which hymns are sung that are similar to those of Theophany and Great and Holy Friday. The fast is followed by a Vesperal Divine Liturgy combining Vespers and the Divine Liturgy.
Jurisdictional dispute over control of an Orthodox parish in Qatar
The recent break-off in the Orthodox Church in Qatar is a reflection of Old World politics. The two Local Churches have competing claims to Qatar territory. While the Patriarchate of Jerusalem did not disapprove of Metropolitan Makarios’ services in Qatar, he was ordered to withdraw from the Assemblies of Bishops around the world. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem has authorized a parish in Qatar, which is located in an Arab emirate on the small Qatar peninsula.
The two churches have met to discuss the issue. The Patriarchate of Jerusalem has sought to resolve the dispute by a Pan-Orthodox Synod. The two Local Churches have claimed jurisdiction over the Qatari territories for decades, and the Jerusalem Church, for its part, has sought recognition from the ROCOR. However, the two churches disagree on jurisdictional issues, including the control of the parish in Qatar.