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Source: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America December 7, 2013 The President and Mrs. Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington D.C. 20500 Dear Mr. President and Mrs. Obama, Greetings and best wishes to you and to your two precious daughters in the spirit of this Holy Christmas season. I was honored to receive your invitation to attend a White House holiday reception on Friday, December 6th, 2013. I remember fondly my attendance at the White House reception two years ago. The photograph which we took together on that auspicious occasion continues to adorn my office. Unfortunately…

Source: The American Conservative By ROD DREHER NCR’s John Allen reports on the kidnapping of the Syrian Orthodox nuns by rebel forces: The monastery’s mother superior, Sr. Pelagia Sayyaf, and 11 other Orthodox nuns were taken away to the nearby rebel stronghold of Yabrud. Though some rebel sources insisted that the sisters had been evacuated for their own safety, most observers regard it as a kidnapping, something that’s become a sad fact of life for the country’s Christian minority. Last February, the website Ora pro Siria [1], operated by Italian missionaries in Syria, launched an emergency fundraising appeal it called “Ransom a Christian.”…

Source: The Daily Star BEIRUT: A senior Orthodox Church official has urged Christians to take up arms to defend themselves and their holy places in the wake of the seizure of a group of nuns from the ancient village of Maaloula. Speaking to the Iraqi newspaper Az-Zaman, Bishop Luca al-Khoury said “we have many young men who are asking us [to take action], and there are those demanding that we take immediate action.” “I call on every young man who can take up arms to come forward,” Khoury said, adding that the initiative was meant to allow the community’s members to engage…

Source: Israel Hayom Son of the Rev. Gabriel Nadaf attacked, apparently in response to his father’s call to Christian Arabs to join Israeli military • Netanyahu: I will not tolerate this. We will use every mean at our disposal to stop these thugs so that Christians can enlist. by Danny Brenner, Daniel Siryoti and Gideon Allon The Rev. Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest and one of the leaders of the Christian Arab community in Israel, has had to sustain a barrage of criticism — including threats and slurs — over his efforts to convince Arab youth to enlist in…

Source: Orthodox Church in America SILVER SPRING, MD [OCA] – Funeral services for Mr. James Paffhausen, 88, father of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, will be held at Philip D. Rinaldi Funeral Service, 9241 Columbia Blvd., Silver Spring, MD at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, December 6, 2013. Mr. Paffhausen fell asleep in the Lord on Wednesday, December 4. He had recently undergone surgery.

Source: Global Research News Damascus (AsiaNews) – Islamist rebels have kidnapped a group of nuns from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St Thecla (Mar Taqla) in Maaloula (north of Damascus). Mgr Mario Zenari, the Vatican nuncio in Damascus, confirmed the information after speaking with the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate. Through the Vatican diplomat, the latter “calls on all Catholics to pray for the women religious.” “Armed men burst in the monastery of St Thecla in Maaloula this afternoon. From there, they forcibly took 12 women religious,” Mgr Zenari said, citing a statement from Patriarchate. The group of Islamist rebels has apparently taken…

Source: Journey to Orthodoxy “I wanted to show that the Church always lived with its people and was present at all events: from public events to sports. That’s why I took part in this marathon. I could see that the people liked it: whenever I was running, I was applauded more energetically than other participants. Some people asked for prayers. And I was praying while running!” Father Athanasios, 43, was probably the most unique runner and very different from other participants of the Athens classic marathon, reports Romphea. Although he did not break any records, he managed to make a tremendous…

Source: Vatican Insider The Ecumenical Patriarch has high expectations of Francis’ visit to the Holy Land and is relying on the Pope to contribute to the start of a “decisive” new season for ecumenism GIANNI VALENTE ROME Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I’s messages to Rome on the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, were clear: the 264th successor of the 1st Apostle, expressed the hope that Pope Francis’ pontificate would bring “renewed inspiration” to the common journey of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches toward full communion. The meeting between the two religious leaders in Jerusalem expected to take place next spring will be…

Source: Asia News by Nina Achmatova The idea is to amend the Charter to enter Christianity as “the foundation of national identity and cultural heritage of Russia.” The Patriarchate supports the initiative , but calls will be addressed in a public debate . Defending human rights warns it is likely to raise a “civil war” in the minds of people. Moscow (AsiaNews) – The proposal of some lawmakers to amend the Constitution to insert, in its preamble, the exclusive role of the Orthodox Church in Russia has generated heated debate in a multi-religious country where issues related to the coexistence…

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