Wednesday, November 15, 2017

$450 Million

I really hope that whoever just dropped all that bank on a painting gets their big tax cut for Christmas. After all, society has a duty to support billionaire art collectors.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Rod Drehere's thoughts on the Roy Moore debacle

An interesting and wide ranging take on the political nightmare in Alabama where the choice for the US Senate appears to be between a fundamentalist theocratic wingnut who is also very probably (though not definitely) a child sex predator on the one hand and a man who is comfortable killing children who are inconvenient, provided they haven't been born yet on the other.

My take: Hold your nose and vote for the theocratic wingnut molester. I think it unlikely he will spend much time in the Senate. He is too much of a political liability, and it seems that there are actually some lines that even Republicans won't let one of their own cross. I think if he is elected that the Senate will either refuse to seat him or they will expel him immediately after he takes the oath of office. Like Mitch McConnell I believe the women. But I also believe that the Washington Post had this story in the can for a while and deliberately held it back until after the loon won the GOP primary and the last date where he could be replaced on the ballot was safely past.  If Moore gets elected and subsequently barred from the Senate (or expelled) then the governor gets to name his replacement pending a new election.

All of which said, this is one of those situations where the overused expression, "the lesser of two evils" is definitely apropos.

Monday, November 13, 2017

California: How did CalPERS dig a $153 billion pension hole?

During the next five weeks, the CalPERS board, custodian of $326 billion in assets needed to fulfill retirement promises for 1.8 million California public employees and beneficiaries, will make decisions affecting government budgets for decades to come.

 The problem is, despite their fiduciary duty under the state Constitution to “protect the competency of the assets” under their absolute control, CalPERS is roughly $153 billion short of fully funding the retirement promises earned to date.

How did CalPERS dig this huge hole?  During the last decade, they manipulated actuarial assumptions and methods to keep employer and employee contribution rates low in the short term.

Besides over-estimating investment returns, CalPERS uses very long amortization schedules to push debts onto future generations, greatly increasing the pension system’s long-term cost.  As a result, CalPERS is just 68 percent funded, barely above what would be “critical” status for private-sector pension plans.

Just like a family that assumes it will receive healthy raises every year and only makes minimum payments on its credit card debts, there must be a day of reckoning. Yet it is not clear the CalPERS board recognizes this important momentis now.

This week, CalPERS will discuss its quadrennial Asset Liability Management process, one that assesses its financial position and proposes course corrections.  The results are pretty bleak.

Read the rest here.

Civil service employees in California should be really worried. Just like in Illinois and other liberal fantasy lands they have been promised this, that and the other thing, with no realistic idea of how it's all going to be paid for.  The basic idea at the moment is to not worry; someone thirty years down the road will figure it all out or just send the bill to the tax payers. The problem is that the tax payers are not going to pay. All they will do is flip Sacramento what those of us from New York used to call the Bronx salute as they pack up and move out of that insane asylum masquerading as a state.

Can anyone figure out what this is about?

This article is so riddled with confusing, and in some cases obviously erroneous claims that I can't grasp who this so called bishop is or what church they claim to be a part of. I seriously doubt he was consecrated a bishop of the Eastern Orthodox Church based on his wearing western vestments.

Never mind: It's as I suspected. This man is a member of some silly vegante church that has no relationship with either Rome or Orthodoxy. This article may make my list for one of the worst attempts at journalism I have ever come across where the subject is religion. 

Let little boys wear tiaras: Church of England's new guidance to schools

Boys as young as five should be able to wear tiaras at school without criticism, teachers in Church of England schools are to be told.

Male pupils should also be free to dress up in a tutu or high heels without attracting any comment or observation, according to anti-bullying rules sent out by the Church yesterday.

The instructions for the CofE’s 4,700 schools said they should not require children to wear uniforms that ‘create difficulty for trans pupils’.

This appears to give official backing to schools that ban skirts to avoid discrimination against transgender children.

Schools are also told they cannot use the Christian faith or Bible teachings to justify behaviour that is considered to amount to bullying – for example, identifying a transgender pupil by a sex other than the one they have chosen. The advice contains instructions on how to report bullying, including sample forms on which teachers are encouraged to name the alleged bully and their target, and use tick boxes to describe what happened.

Examples include name-calling, social media trolling, or insulting gestures.

Read the rest here.
HT: Blog reader TD

Friday, November 10, 2017

Marc A. Thiessen: The New York Times keeps whitewashing communism’s crimes

The Trump administration marked this week’s 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution by declaring a National Day for the Victims of Communism. The New York Times marked the same anniversary in a different way: by running a series of articles extolling the virtues of communism.

The irony of the series’ title, “Red Century,” seems lost on the Times’s editors. The 20th century was “red” indeed — red with the blood of communism’s victims. The death toll of communism, cited in “The Black Book of Communism,” is simply staggering: In the USSR, nearly 20 million dead; China, 65 million; Vietnam, 1 million; Cambodia, 2 million; Eastern Europe, 1 million; Africa, 1.7 million; Afghanistan, 1.5 million; North Korea: 2 million (and counting). In all, Communist regimes killed some 100 million people — roughly four times the number killed by the Nazis — making communism the most murderous ideology in human history.

Never mind all that. University of Pennsylvania professor Kristen R. Ghodsee writes that Communists had better sex: “Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women . . . [who] had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper.” She has tough words for Joseph Stalin because he “reversed much of the Soviet Union’s early progress in women’s rights — outlawing abortion and promoting the nuclear family.” Yes, that was Stalin’s crime. Not the purges, not the gulag, but promoting the nuclear family.

In “How Did Women Fare in China’s Communist Revolution?” Helen Gao recalls her grandmother “talking with joyous peasants from the newly collectivized countryside” and writes that “for all its flaws, the Communist revolution taught Chinese women to dream big.” Mao’s revolution killed tens of millions of Chinese — not counting the millions killed under China’s brutal “One Child” policy, which led to widespread female infanticide. Those Chinese girls never got a chance to dream at all.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Memorial Service for the Victims of Communism



Solemn Panikhida for the victims of Communism, on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Revolution of 1917 (in English and Church Slavonic). From the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Quote of the day...

Stanley Hauerwas’ Dictum: “As soon as we agree to take charge of the outcome of history, we agree to do violence.”

I would add to that the observation that from that point on, every discussion will ultimately come down to figuring out who should be killed and when. That the devil was a “murderer from the beginning” should be born in mind as we think such a thing through.

-Fr. Stephen (Freeman) from the comment thread under this excellent reflection.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Why the far right believes a US civil war will start on Saturday

Since late September, ‘alt-right’ members have advanced the idea that anti-fascist groups will begin a violent insurrection on 4 November. But no antifa groups are planning to protest – so what gives?

Some websites are telling their readers that antifa groups are “planning to kill every single Trump voter, Conservative and gun owner” this weekend. Hundreds of Facebook posts show how seriously consumers of such media are taking the news, and comments like “One more threat against white people and I swear to God I’m going to take a goddamn car and run over every fucking one of them” are not unrepresentative of the response.

But antifa groups have no plans to protest that day, and the small leftist groups who are planning protests have only dubious connections to the antifa movement. So what gives?

The whole thing rests on some very slender reeds, according to Spencer Sunshine, who recently wrote a report on the theories for the far right-monitoring group Political Research Associates. In the conspiracy underground on YouTube, he explains, there has been talk that “there was going to be a civil war” starting in November for some months.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Oberlin Declaration by the Orthodox delegation on ecumenism and inter-communion

As delegates to the North American Faith and Order Study Conference, appointed by His Eminence, Archbishop Michael, to represent the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, we want to make the following preliminary statements.

We are glad to take part in a study-conference, devoted to such a basic need of the Christian World as Unity. All Christians should seek Unity. On the other hand, we feel that the whole program of the forthcoming discussion has been framed from a point of view which we cannot conscientiously admit. "The Unity we seek" is for us a given Unity which has never been lost, and, as a Divine gift and an essential mark of Christian existence, could not have been lost. This unity in the Church of Christ is for us a Unity in the Historical Church, in the fullness of faith, in the fullness of continuous sacramental life. For us, this Unity is embodied in the Orthodox Church, which kept, catholikos and anelleipos, both the integrity of the Apostolic Faith and the integrity of the Apostolic Order.

Our share in the study of Christian Unity is determined by our firm conviction that this Unity can be found only in the fellowship of the Historical Church, preserving faithfully the catholic tradition, both in doctrine and in order. We cannot commit ourselves to any discussion of these basic assumptions, as if they were but hypothetical or problematic. We begin with a clear conception of the Church’s Unity, which we believe has been embodied and realized in the age-long history of the Orthodox Church, without any change or break since the times when the visible Unity of Christendom was an obvious fact and was attested and witnessed to by an ecumenical unanimity, in the age of the Ecumenical Councils.

We admit, of course, that the Unity of Christendom has been disrupted, that the unity of faith and the integrity of order have been sorely broken. But we do not admit that the Unity of the Church, and precisely of the "visible" and historical Church, has ever been broken or lost, so as to now be a problem of search and discovery. The problem of Unity is for us, therefore, the problem of the return to the fullness of Faith and Order, in full faithfulness to the message of Scripture and Tradition and in the obedience to the will of God: "that all may be one".

Long before the breakup of the unity of Western Christendom, the Orthodox Church has had a keen sense of the essential importance of the oneness of Christian believers and from her very inception she has deplored divisions within the Christian world. As in the past, so in the present, she laments disunity among those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ Whose purpose in the world was to unite all believers into one body. The Orthodox Church feels that, since she has been unassociated with the events related to the breakdown of religious unity in the West, she bears a special responsibility to contribute toward the restoration of the Christian unity which alone can render the message of the Gospel effective in a world troubled by threats of world conflict and general uncertainty over the future.

It is with humility that we voice the conviction that the Orthodox Church can make a special contribution to the cause of Christian unity, because since Pentecost she has possessed the true unity intended by Christ. It is with this conviction that the Orthodox Church is always prepared to meet with Christians of other communions in inter-confessional deliberations. She rejoices over the fact that she is able to join those of other denominations in ecumenical conversations that aim at removing the barriers to Christian unity. However, we feel compelled in all honesty, as representatives of the Orthodox Church, to confess that we must qualify our participation, as necessitated by the historic faith and practice of our Church, and also state the general position that must be taken at this interdenominational conference.

In considering firstly "the nature of the unity we seek," we wish to begin by making clear that our approach is at variance with that usually advocated and ordinarily expected by participating representatives. The Orthodox Church teaches that the unity of the Church has not been lost, because she is the Body of Christ, and, as such, can never be divided. It is Christ as her head and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that secure the unity of the Church throughout the ages.

The presence of human imperfection among her members is powerless to obliterate the unity, for Christ Himself promised that the "gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church." Satan has always sown tares in the field of the Lord and the forces of disunity have often threatened but have never actually succeeded in dividing the Church. No power can be mightier than the omnipotent will of Christ Who founded one Church only in order to bring men into unity with God. Oneness is an essential mark of the Church.

If it be true that Christ founded the Church as a means of unifying men divided by sin, then it must naturally follow that the unity of the Church was preserved by His divine omnipotence. Unity, therefore, is not just a promise, or a potentiality, but belongs to the very nature of the Church. It is not something which has been lost and which should be recovered, but rather it is a permanent character of the structure of the Church.

Christian love impels us to speak candidly of our conviction that the Orthodox Church has not lost the unity of the Church intended by Christ, for she represents the oneness which in Western Christendom has only been a potentiality. The Orthodox Church teaches that she has no need to search for a "lost unity," because her historic consciousness dictates that she is the Una Sancta and that all Christian groups outside the Orthodox Church can recover their unity only by entering into the bosom of that Church which preserved its identity with early Christianity.

These are claims that arise not from presumptuousness, but from an inner historical awareness of the Orthodox Church. Indeed, this is the special message of Eastern Orthodoxy to a divided Western Christendom.

The Orthodox Church true to her historical consciousness declares that she has maintained an unbroken continuity with the Church of Pentecost by preserving the Apostolic faith and polity unadulterated. She has kept the "faith once delivered unto the saints" free from the distortions of human innovations. Man-made doctrines have never found their way into the Orthodox Church, since she has no necessary association in history with the name of one single father or theologian. She owes the fullness and the guarantee of unity and infallibility to the operation of the Holy Spirit and not to the service of one individual. It is for this reason that she has never felt the need for what is known as "a return to the purity of the Apostolic faith." She maintains the necessary balance between freedom and authority and thus avoids the extremes of absolutism and individualism both of which have done violence to Christian unity.

We re-assert what was declared at Evanston and what has been made known in the past at all interdenominational conferences attended by delegates of the Orthodox Church. It is not due to our personal merit, but to divine condescension that we represent the Orthodox Church and are able to give expression to her claims. We are bound in conscience to state explicitly what is logically inferred; that all other bodies have been directly or indirectly separated from the Orthodox Church. Unity from the Orthodox standpoint means a return of the separated bodies to the historical Orthodox, One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

The unity which Orthodoxy represents rests on identity of faith, order, and worship. All three aspects of the life of the Church are outwardly safeguarded by the reality of the unbroken succession of bishops which is the assurance of the Church's uninterrupted continuity with apostolic origins. This means that the uncompromised fullness of the Church requires the preservation of both its episcopal structure and sacramental life. Adhering tenaciously to her Apostolic heritage, the Orthodox Church holds that no true unity is possible where episcopacy and sacraments are absent, and grieves over the fact that both institutions have either been discarded or distorted in certain quarters of Christendom. Any agreement on faith must rest on the authority of the enactments of the seven Ecumenical Councils which represent the mind of the one undivided Church of antiquity and the subsequent tradition as safeguarded in the life of the Orthodox Church.

We regret that the most vital problem of Ministry and that of the Apostolic Succession, without which to our mind there is neither unity, nor church, were not included in the program of the Conference. All problems of Order seem to be missing in the program. These, in our opinion, are basic for any study of Unity.

Visible unity expressed in organizational union does not destroy the centrality of the spirit among believers, but rather testifies to the reality of the oneness of the Spirit. Where there is the fullness of the Spirit, there too will outward amity be found. From Apostolic times the unity of Christian believers was manifested by a visible, organizational structure. It is the unity in the Holy Spirit that is expressed in a unified visible organization.

The Holy Eucharist, as the chief act of worship, is the outward affirmation of the inner relation rising from unity in the Holy Spirit. But this unity involves a consensus of faith among those participating. Intercommunion, therefore, is possible only when there is agreement of faith. Common worship in every case must presuppose a common faith. The Orthodox Church maintains that worship of any nature cannot be sincere unless there is oneness of faith among those participating. It is with this belief that the Orthodox hesitate to share in Joint prayer services and strictly refrain from attending interdenominational Communion Services.

A common faith and a common worship are inseparable in the historical continuity of the Orthodox Church. However, in isolation neither can be preserved integral and intact. Both must be kept in organic and inner relationship with each other. It is for this reason that Christian unity cannot be realized merely by determining what articles of faith or what creed should be regarded as constituting the basis of unity. In addition to subscribing to certain doctrines of faith, it is necessary to achieve the experience of a common tradition or communis sensus fidelium preserved through common worship within the historic framework of the Orthodox Church. There can be no true unanimity of faith unless that faith remains within the life and sacred tradition of the Church which is identical throughout the ages. It is in the experience of worship that we affirm the true faith, and conversely, it is in the recognition of a common faith that we secure the reality of worship in spirit and in truth.

Thus the Orthodox Church in each locality insists on agreement of faith and worship before it will consider sharing in any interdenominational activity. Doctrinal differences constitute an obstacle in the way of unrestricted participation in such activities. In order to safeguard the purity of the faith and the integrity of the liturgical and spiritual life of the Orthodox Church, abstinence from interdenominational activities is encouraged on a local level. There is no phase of the Church’s life unrelated to her faith. Intercommunion with another church must be grounded on a consensus of faith and a common understanding of the sacramental life. The Holy Eucharist especially must be the liturgical demonstration of the unity of faith.

We are fully aware of deep divergences which separate Christian denominations from each other, in all fields of Christian life and existence, in the understanding of faith, in the shaping of life, in the habits of worship. We are seeking, accordingly, an unanimity in faith, an identity of order, a fellowship in prayer. But for us all the three are organically linked together. Communion in worship is only possible in the unity of faiths. Communion presupposes Unity. Therefore, the term "Intercommunion" seems to us an epitome of that conception which we are compelled to reject. An "intercommunion" presupposes the existence of several separate and separated denominations, which join occasionally in certain common acts or actions. In the true Unity of Christ’s Church there is no room for several "denominations." There is, therefore, no room for "'intercommunion." When all are truly united in the Apostolic Faith and Order, there will be all-inclusive Communion and Fellowship in all things.

It has been stated by the Orthodox delegates already in Edinburgh, in 1937, that many problems are presented at Faith and Order Conferences in a manner and in a setting which are utterly uncongenial to the Orthodox. We again must repeat the same statement now. But again, as years ago in Edinburgh, we want to testify our readiness and willingness to participate in study, in order that the Truth of the Gospel and the fullness of the Apostolic Tradition may be brought to the knowledge of all who, truly, unselfishly, and devoutedly seek Unity in Our Blessed Lord and His Holy Church, One, Catholic, and Apostolic.

Bishop Athenagoras Kokkinakis, Chairman
Very Rev Georges Florovsky
Very Rev Eusebius A. Stephanou
Rev George Tsoumas
Rev John A. Poulos
Rev John Hondras
Rev George P. Gallos

September 3-10, 1957
Oberlin Ohio

Quote of the day...

"You wish to be only a spectator, the gentleman in the balcony who wipes the glasses of his lorgnette in order to lose none of the comedy. Well, you can not do so. That role is not permitted a man. He must act, and he acts always, even when thinks he is looking on, even when he washes his hands as Pontius Pilate, that dilettante, too, who uttered the words of your masters and of yourself. What is truth? Truth is that there is always a duty to fulfill." 

-Andre Cornelis (1886) by Paul Bourget

Friday, October 27, 2017

Deaconesses (again)

A handful of individuals have signed a letter praising the Patriarchate of Alexandria for reviving the ancient order of deaconesses. See the letter here. And my take...
Alexandria needs to be very very careful. They are playing with fire. Make no mistake; the real cause that animates the vast majority of those agitating for deaconesses is women priestesses. For them this is the camel's nose under the tent flap. Some may say that I am being unduly alarmist, but I've seen this game played too many times in other religious sects. Any attempt to go down the road of W/O would almost certainly end in schism.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at the International Consultation on Christian Persecution

Your Holiness, Your Excellencies and Eminences, Esteemed Church and Secular Leaders,

Welcome to Budapest. Today I do not wish to talk about the persecution of Christians in Europe. The persecution of Christians in Europe operates with sophisticated and refined methods of an intellectual nature. It is undoubtedly unfair, it is discriminatory, sometimes it is even painful; but although it has negative impacts, it is tolerable. It cannot be compared to the brutal physical persecution which our Christian brothers and sisters have to endure in Africa and the Middle East. Today I’d like to say a few words about this form of persecution of Christians. We have gathered here from all over the world in order to find responses to a crisis that for too long has been concealed. We have come from different countries, yet there’s something that links us – the leaders of Christian communities and Christian politicians. We call this the responsibility of the watchman. In the Book of Ezekiel we read that if a watchman sees the enemy approaching and does not sound the alarm, the Lord will hold that watchman accountable for the deaths of those killed as a result of his inaction.

Dear Guests,

A great many times over the course of our history we Hungarians have had to fight to remain Christian and Hungarian. For centuries we fought on our homeland’s southern borders, defending the whole of Christian Europe, while in the twentieth century we were the victims of the communist dictatorship’s persecution of Christians. Here, in this room, there are some people older than me who have experienced first-hand what it means to live as a devout Christian under a despotic regime. For us, therefore, it is today a cruel, absurd joke of fate for us to be once again living our lives as members of a community under siege. For wherever we may live around the world – whether we’re Roman Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians or Copts – we are members of a common body, and of a single, diverse and large community. Our mission is to preserve and protect this community. This responsibility requires us, first of all, to liberate public discourse about the current state of affairs from the shackles of political correctness and human rights incantations which conflate everything with everything else. We are duty-bound to use straightforward language in describing the events that are taking place around us, and to identify the dangers that threaten us. The truth always begins with the statement of facts. Today it is a fact that Christianity is the world’s most persecuted religion. It is a fact that 215 million Christians in 108 countries around the world are suffering some form of persecution. It is a fact that four out of every five people oppressed due to their religion are Christians. It is a fact that in Iraq in 2015 a Christian was killed every five minutes because of their religious belief. It is a fact that we see little coverage of these events in the international press, and it is also a fact that one needs a magnifying glass to find political statements condemning the persecution of Christians. But the world’s attention needs to be drawn to the crimes that have been committed against Christians in recent years. The world should understand that in fact today’s persecutions of Christians foreshadow global processes. The world should understand that the forced expulsion of Christian communities and the tragedies of families and children living in some parts of the Middle East and Africa have a wider significance: in fact they threaten our European values. The world should understand that what is at stake today is nothing less than the future of the European way of life, and of our identity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We must call the threats we’re facing by their proper names. The greatest danger we face today is the indifferent, apathetic silence of a Europe which denies its Christian roots. However unbelievable it may seem today, the fate of Christians in the Middle East should bring home to Europe that what is happening over there may also happen to us. Europe, however, is forcefully pursuing an immigration policy which results in letting extremists, dangerous extremists, into the territory of the European Union. A group of Europe’s intellectual and political leaders wishes to create a mixed society in Europe which, within just a few generations, will utterly transform the cultural and ethnic composition of our continent – and consequently its Christian identity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We Hungarians are a Central European people; there aren’t many of us, and we do not have a great many relatives. Our influence, territory, population and army are similarly not significant. We know our place in the ranking of the world’s nations. We are a medium-sized European state, and there are countries much bigger than us which should, as a matter of course, bear a great deal more responsibility than we do. Now, however, we Hungarians are taking a proactive role. There are good reasons for this. I can see – and I know through having met them personally – how many well-intentioned truly Christian politicians there are in Europe. They are not strong enough, however: they work in coalition governments; they are at the mercy of media industries with attitudes very different from theirs; and they have insufficient political strength to act according to their convictions. While Hungary is only a medium-sized European state, it is in a different situation. This is a stable country: the political formation now in office won two-thirds majorities in two consecutive elections; the country has an economic support base which is not enormous, but is stable; and the public’s general attitude is robust. This means that we are in a position to speak up for persecuted Christians. In other words, in such a stable situation, there could be no excuse for Hungarians not taking action and not honouring the obligation rooted in their Christian faith. This is how fate and God have compelled Hungary to take the initiative, regardless of its size. We are proud that for more than a thousand years we have belonged to the great family of Christian peoples. This, too, imposes an obligation on us.

Dear Guests,

For us, Europe is a Christian continent, and this is how we want to keep it. Even though we may not be able to keep all of it Christian, at least we can do so for the segment that God has entrusted to the Hungarian people. Taking this as our starting-point, we have decided to do all we can to help our Christian brothers and sisters outside Europe who are forced to live under persecution. What is interesting about this decision is not the fact that we are seeking to help, but the way we are seeking to help. The solution we settled on has been to take the help we are providing directly to the churches of persecuted Christians. We are not using the channels established earlier, which seek to assist the persecuted as best they can within the framework of international aid. Our view is that the best way to help is to channel resources directly to the churches of persecuted communities. In our view this is how to produce the best results, this is how resources can be used to the full, and this is how there can be a guarantee that such resources are indeed channelled to those who need them. And as we are Christians, we help Christian churches and channel these resources to them. I could also say that we are doing the very opposite of what is customary in Europe today: we declare that trouble should not be brought here, but assistance must be taken to where it is needed.

Dear Friends,

Our approach is that the right thing to do is to act virtuously, rather than just talk about doing so. In this way we avoid doing good things simply in order to burnish our reputation: we avoid doing good things out of calculation, as good deeds must come from the heart, and for the glory of God. Yet now it is my duty to talk about the facts of good deeds. My justification, the reason I am telling you all this, is to prove to us all that politics in Europe is not necessarily helpless in the face of the persecution of Christians. The reason I am talking about some good deeds is that they may serve as an example for others, and may induce others to also perform good deeds. So please consider everything that I say now in this light. In 2016 we set up the Deputy State Secretariat for the Aid of Persecuted Christians, which – in cooperation with churches, non-governmental organisations, the UN, The Hague and the European Parliament – liaises with and provides help for persecuted Christian communities. We listen to local Christian leaders and to what they believe is most important, and then do what we have to. From them I have learnt that the most important thing we can do is provide assistance for them to return home to resettle in their native lands. We Hungarians want Syrian, Iraqi and Nigerian Christians to be able to return as soon as possible to the lands where their ancestors lived for hundreds of years. This is what we call Hungarian solidarity – or, using the words you see behind me: “Hungary helps”. This is why we decided to help rebuild their homes and churches; and thanks to Hungarian Interchurch Aid, in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon we also build community centres. We have launched a special scholarship programme for young people raised in Christian families suffering persecution, and I am pleased to welcome some of those young people here today. I am sure that after their studies in Hungary, when they return to their communities, they will be active, core members of those communities. And we are also working in cooperation with the Pázmány Péter Catholic University on the establishment of a Hungarian-founded university. The Hungarian government has provided aid of 580 million forints for the rebuilding of damaged homes in the Iraqi town of Tesqopa, as a result to which we hope that hundreds of Iraqi Christian families who now live as internal refugees may be able to return to their homes. We likewise support the activities of the Syriac Catholic Church and the Syriac Orthodox Church. I should also mention something which perhaps does not sound particularly special to a foreigner, but, believe me, here in Hungary is unprecedented, and I can’t even remember the last time something like it happened: all parties in the Hungarian National Assembly united to support adoption of a resolution which condemns the persecution of Christians, supports the Government in providing help, condemns the activities of the organisation called Islamic State, and calls upon the International Criminal Court to launch proceedings in response to the persecution, oppression and murder of Christians.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

When we support the return of persecuted Christians to their homelands, the Hungarian people is fulfilling a mission. In addition to what the Esteemed Bishop has outlined, our Fundamental Law constitutionally declares that we Hungarians recognise the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood. And if we recognise this for ourselves, then we also recognise it for other nations; in other words, we want Christian communities returning to Syria, Iraq and Nigeria to become forces for the preservation of their own countries, just as for us Hungarians Christianity is a force for preservation. From here I also urge Europe’s politicians to cast aside politically correct modes of speech and cast aside human rights-induced caution. And I ask them and urge them to do everything within their power for persecuted Christians.

Soli Deo gloria!

Source.

Axios!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Coptic Orthodox Bishop Killed outside Cairo, Egypt

CAIRO (Morning Star News) – A Coptic Orthodox bishop from Upper Egypt was slain outside Cairo, Egypt yesterday.

The assailant struck Bishop Samaan Shehata in the head, neck and torso with a machete in the El Salam area near El Marg District on the outskirts of Cairo, according to local reports. Shehata was born in 1972.

While a security spokesman said the suspect, Ahmed Saeed Ibrahim, was mentally ill, neighbors reportedly denied this, saying he was a Muslim who had been “radicalized” a year ago. Since then, they said, Ibrahim had begun praying in the street, shouting loudly and calling Christians infidels.

The suspect walked calmly out of the warehouse after killing Shehata, according to security camera footage. Captured by people on the street and now in custody, Ibrahim had reportedly approached Shehata wielding the large knife while the bishop was waiting for another clergyman in his car.

Visiting from his Church of St. Julius Akfazi in Ezbet Girgis village, in Beni Suef Governorate, Shehata was waiting for another priest, the Rev. Beimen Moftah, when Ibrahim accosted him and attacked him, eyewitnesses told local press. Reports conflicted on whether Moftah, of the Church of the Arch Angel Malak in Ezbet Francis, Mattay village, was injured, but he did reportedly confront the assailant.

Stabbed in the neck and torso near the Virgin and Bishop Shenouda El Daeiry church, the wounded Shehata fled on foot into the warehouse, according to security camera footage obtained by El Youm el Sabe News agency, which shows the assailant following with the machete.

Police said eyewitnesses reported that the assailant had seen Shehata in his car, forcibly stopped him, ordered him out and then started to stab him in the neck and torso. Shehata fled, and the attacker followed him into the warehouse and finished his attack there with several blows to the head, they said.

Shehata’s driver, identified as Gerges Kamel, reportedly said the bishop had gotten out of the car to retrieve his cell phone at the warehouse when the assailant stopped him and stabbed him in the side, neck and skull. Kamel said the assailant used the bishop’s blood to form a cross on his forehead, according to a local newspaper.

An ambulance didn’t arrive until 90 minutes after the assault, according to Kamel, who added that the bishop was alive for half an hour after being struck and could have been saved if the ambulance had arrived timely. He denied that the suspect was mentally ill.

Read the rest here.

Memory eternal!

Bishop Athanasius Yevtich: discusses Fr. George Florovsky's "The Limits of the Church"

It will be difficult for me to duly expound on the magnitude and importance of Fr. George Florovsky, the “ecumenical first-priest”, as he was referred to by his student, bishop Daniel (Krstich).[1] Nonetheless, with great love and gratitude to God and to Fr. George, I will always remember when as a Priestmonk I served Divine Liturgy with this great father, celebrant and theologian, in a 9th C Byzantine church, in the monastery of Saint Nicodemus in Athens, which later became known in the 19th C as the “Russian Church”. Afterwards, with the providence and grace of God, I had the honor to succeed him for three years (1970-1972) at the Orthodox Theological Institute of Saints Sergius in Paris, as chair of Patristics, along with Fr. Andrew Fyrilla. Before I met him, however, and got acquainted with him on a personal level, Fr. Justin Popovich spoke frequently about Fr. George Florovsky, with whom he spent years together during the German invasion in Serbia, when they would meet and discuss. Fr. Justin Popovich would call Fr. George Florovsky an “icon on the iconostasis of orthodox theology of the modern age”.

The organizers of this present colloquium asked me to speak on the subject, “Fr. George Florovsky on the Boundaries of the Church”. It concerns a very difficult subject and I will try to speak as objectively as I can, with complete respect towards Fr. George Florovsky, but with a critical approach towards the position that he formulated in his article. In previous sessions, there were already some presentations about Fr. Florovsky’s ecclesiology, which happens to be rich and multi-dimensional. His article on the “Boundaries of the Church”2, in my opinion constitutes an early phase in Fr. George Florovsky’s evolution. It was written in Paris on the feast day of Saint Sergius in 1933. It was published in English, then in Russian, and even then, in French and Serbian. There exists a translation in Greek3. Without a doubt, the article of Fr. Florovsky is written within the framework of the ecumenical movement, which also is a leading subject for his time as well as in our own. This fact is highlighted by the author himself, as he refers to an article of his, “On the Reunification of Christians”, which was published in a volume collection in 1933 in Paris, just as another older article of his, “The Problems of Christian Unification”4.

We will not [sic] continue the exhaustive analysis of this article by Fr. George Florovsky. The author briefly mentions in the text the apostolic and patristic events concerning the unity of the Church, by giving special emphasis on Saint Cyprian of Carthage. He presents and exercises criticism on the positions of Cyprian, and then goes to Saint Augustine and the practice of the Church in relation to the acceptance of heretics. Subsequently, the author refers to modern Russian theologians. Thus, on the one hand there is a mention of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and of Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky) who considered that the charismatic boundaries of the Church coincide with the canonical. On the other hand, he refers to (Aleksey) Khomyakov and Philaret (Drozdov), the Metropolitan of Moscow, who considered that the charismatic and canonical borders of the Church did not coincide. I also remember Fr. Justin Popovich, who would say that the more correct and theologically orthodox position was held by Metropolitan Anthony and Archbishop Hilarion, that in other words, the charismatic and canonical boundaries of the Church coincide. It is interesting that in the same year, of 1933, an article was published, written by bishop Sergius (Stragorodski), the later Patriarch of Russia, which Fr. George Florovsky most likely did not have a chance to consider. These two theologians [Metropolitan Anthony and Archbishop Hilarion], although they wrote independently from each other, almost echo the same views word for word, resulting in concurring opinions on the limits of the Church. Fr. George Florovsky elicits the Greek theologians, [Christos] Androutsos and [Konstantinos] Diovouniotis, – rather old and conservative theologians, and mostly refers to them in relation to a commentary of his concerning economy of the Church. We must note that this commentary in particular was also weak. Fr. Florovsky does not proceed to analyze the great Fathers of the Church, although in approximately the same period he writes some of his greatest and famous works on Patristics, such as, “The Eastern Fathers of the 4th C”5, and “The Byzantine Fathers of the 6th- 8th Cs”.6

Read the rest here.
See also Fr. George Florovsky's actual essay here.

Many thanks to Fr. Peter Heers for posting this excellent translation.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Papal adviser: We can no longer ‘judge people’ based on moral norms

BOSTON, Massachusetts, October 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- Jesuit priest and papal confidant Father Anthony Spadaro said that Pope Francis holds that the Catholic Church can no longer set down general norms that apply to entire groups of people.

Spadaro, editor of the Italian magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, made the comment today at a conference at Boston College where liberal Cardinals met with dissident theologians to discuss strategies for implementing Pope Francis’ controversial teachings on marriage and family in dioceses across the United States.

The Jesuit priest told attendees that Amoris Laetitia, the Pope's 2016 teaching on marriage and family, recognizes that people living in "irregular" family situations, such as the divorced and remarried living in adultery, "can be living in God's grace, can love and can also grow in a life of grace."

"We must conclude that the Pope realizes that one can no longer speak of an abstract category of persons and ... [a] praxis of integration in a rule that is absolutely to be followed in every instance," he said, according to a report by National Catholic Reporter.

"Since the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases, the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same," he added.

"It is no longer possible to judge people on the basis of a norm that stands above all," he concluded.

Jesuit Fr. James Keenan, a dissident theologian at Boston College and one of the main organizers of the October 5-6 event, said the conference will “fortify and further the ongoing reception of Amoris in the U.S."

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Madness of Saint Woodrow: Or, What If the United States Had Stayed out of the Great War?

On April 2, 1917, Woodrow Wilson rose before a joint session of Congress to make the case for a declaration of war on Germany. Summoning his considerable eloquence, Wilson intoned: “the right is more precious than peace,” “make the world safe for democracy,” “a universal dominion of right by a concert of free peoples,” “America is privileged to spend her blood,” and, in a conscious echo of Martin Luther, “God helping her, she can do no other.”

But the sentence that really proclaimed a global crusade was this:
Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organized force which is controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people.

The Truman Doctrine would be moderate by comparison.
During the Senate’s cursory two-day debate, William J. Stone (D-Mo.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, warned that to enter this war would be “the greatest national blunder in history.” George W. Norris (R-Neb.) rejected Wilson’s rhetoric as moral gloss obscuring financial interests, declaring: “We are putting the dollar sign on the American flag.”

The noted Independent from  Wisconsin, Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette,  rebutted the President’s arguments in a tearful address to his colleagues that lasted four hours. If, as Wilson said, Germany was waging a war against all of humanity, how come the United States was the only neutral nation to object? If, as Wilson said, this was a war to make the world safe for democracy, how come the British refused it to the peoples of Ireland, India, Egypt? If, as Wilson said, the United States meant to wage war on a militaristic government and not on the German people, how come more Germans supported their Kaiser than Americans had voted for Wilson in 1916?
Nevertheless, the Congress, which had bowed to the White House on issues of war and peace ever since 1812, did so again. To be sure, the Senate voted 82 to 6 in favor of war on April 4, and the House, two days later, approved the war resolution 373 to 50, but British Ambassador Cecil Spring-Rice cabled back to London his judgment that the Americans had gone to war “with the greatest reluctance.”[1]

Read the rest here.
HT: Fr. David

Many Years!

To the Archpriest David Thatcher on the 20th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Putin to target Russia's abortion culture

MOSCOW — On a recent windy afternoon, members of a prominent Russian religious group were busy laying out 2,000 pairs of children’s shoes in the corner of a park — each representing an abortion performed on an average day in Russia.

Fighting the elements to keep the tiny slippers and rubber boots in place, the organizers from “For Life” took to loudspeakers to reel off the reasons why Russia should make abortion illegal. Simultaneously, two men unfurled a long red-and-white banner with a quote by President Vladimir Putin, reading: “Demography is a vital issue… Either we’ll continue to exist, or we won’t.”

“If we don’t illegalize abortion, we cannot grow our population, and how can Russia retain its strength and greatness without that?” asked Maria Studenikina, an organizer from the Moscow faction of “For Life.” The group’s shoe project, called “If Only They Could Go to School,” has been staged in recent months in 40 cities across Russia. The shoes are accompanied by blackboards, cheery children’s backpacks, and squishy fetus dolls.

Russia’s anti-abortion movement has gathered momentum in recent months, as activists — usually devout members of the influential Russian Orthodox Church — have started seizing on the country’s demographic crisis as an urgent reason for banning the practice. They have also started citing Russia’s newfound commitment to a more forward-leaning posture on the global stage, from the wars in Syria and Ukraine to the diplomatic crisis over North Korea.

Both reasons seem designed to appeal to Putin, who, despite a growing alliance with the church — which critics say he uses as an extension of his administration — has yet to speak out about the abortion debate gripping the country. But he may soon be obliged to take a stand.

In August, “For Life” announced they had collected 1 million signatures in favor of banning abortion, including from Patriarch Kirill, head of Russia’s Orthodox Church and Putin’s close ally. That permits them to present their petition to the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, and then, if it gains a majority there — which seems likely — to the upper house and eventually Putin himself. The group, which says it receives no financial backing from the church, helped draft a bill two years ago that aims to remove abortions from the free national health care system; it is still being reviewed by parliament.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A quick update and reminder

I am wrapping up my visit to the 1970's and will be returning to the modern world sometime in the next couple of weeks. Mom has more or less recovered from her surgery and I am no longer needed here. Also please remember that comment moderation will remain in place until I get home. Sorry for the inconvenience but in the past there have been attempts to post inappropriate comments so as long as I'm only popping in every few days this will have to continue. Once I am home and able to monitor things more regularly comment moderation will be limited to threads that are over ten days old.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A "Filial Correction" of Pope Francis is issued

A handful of laymen, academics and brave clergy have issued a formal correction to the Pope of Rome. I am saddened that the only bishop who has signed it (thus far) is Mgr. Fellay of the SSPX. That said, it is a beginning.

Read it here.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Belgian Brothers of Charity defy Vatican over euthanasia

The Belgian Brothers of Charity have defied the Pope and announced they will continue offering euthanasia at their hospitals despite being ordered to stop.

The group said in a statement that it “continues to stand by its vision statement on euthanasia for mental suffering in a non-terminal situation” and that they “emphatically believe” the practice is compatible with Catholic teaching.

The group also claimed the decision had “come about starting from the Christian frame of thought” and that they “always take into account the shifts and evolutions within society”.

Last month, Pope Francis approved a Vatican demand that Brothers must stop offering euthanasia by the end of August.

Read the rest here.