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Source: Blog of Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov ST. HERMAN’S ORTHODOX YOUTH CONFERENCE, MULINO, OR 22-26 DECEMBER 2013  INTRODUCTION A curious phenomenon can be observed in the interactions between pastors and their parishioners at the beginning of each major fast of the Church. Pastors attempt to call their parishioners’ pious attention to the spiritual heights of fasting: the fighting against sin, the conquering of passions, the taming of the tongue, the cultivation of virtues. In turn, parishioners pester their pastors with purely dietary questions: when fish is allowed, whether soy milk or soy hotdogs are fasting, whether adding milk to coffee is breaking…

Source: RIA Novostil MOSCOW, December 24 (RIA Novosti) – The proportion of Russians who consider themselves Orthodox Christians has risen four-fold in the past 24 years, according to a new survey. Two out of three Russians now regard themselves as Orthodox Christians compared to just one in six in 1989, when the Soviet Union was nearing dissolution. The poll of 1,603 people by the independent Levada Center found that 68 percent described themselves as Orthodox Christian now, up from 17 percent in 1989. The proportion identifying themselves as Muslim has also risen from about 1 percent in 1991 to 7…

Source: RIA Novosti MOSCOW, September 13 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s dominant Orthodox Church said Friday it would discuss a draft document that will “heal” a schism with some of the smaller Russian Christian denominations known collectively as Old Believers. An expert on religions in Russia hailed the document as a “timely” effort by the increasingly powerful Russian Orthodox Church, but some of the Old Believers rejected the initiative, claiming it will not redeem centuries of persecution. The Old Believers split from the mainstream Russian Orthodox Church after a reform initiated by Moscow Patriarch Nikon in the 1650s. The reform sought…

Source: Religion News Service / Staten Island Real Time News BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Two weeks before Christmas, one of the most powerful storms to hit the Middle East in a century dumped several inches of snow on the hills of Bethlehem. In addition to shuttering schools and businesses, the storm caused runoff to trickle down the walls of the Church of the Nativity, built above the traditional birthplace of Jesus. Fortunately, the water damage was relatively minor, church officials say, thanks to a rare cooperative venture already underway to repair the basilica’s roof, leaky windows and old wooden beams,…

Source: The National Herald By Theodore Kalmoukos BOSTON, MA – An effort started some six years ago by Dr. Maria Koulmanda, a prominent physician, researcher, and professor at Harvard Medical School in the fields of children’s diabetes and transplantation, has developed into an officially-recognized nonprofit organization. “Agape and Elpida,” which stands for “Love and Hope” 501 (c) (3) is the new philanthropic organization in Boston which gives “love and hope” to the heroes of this country, the U.S. Homeless Veterans of the Boston area. Its founding members besides Dr. Koulmanda are Themis Karpouzis and Angeliki Kalmoukos. Koulmanda and some friends…

Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America NEW YORK – His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, expressed his grave concern over current rhetoric by some Turkish state officials regarding the intention to convert the historic Hagia Sophia (the magnificent 6th-century Orthodox Christian Cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople) from a museum to a functioning mosque. Such a step might be interpreted as an expression of intensification of state Islamization policies causing an elimination of Christianity from its 2000-year presence in its lands of origin. Hagia Sophia’s significance as a religious site and globally recognized symbol of intercultural respect…

Source: RIA Novosti MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) – The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church presented the nation’s answer to Frank Sinatra with a top award on Wednesday for his public service, adding to the flamboyant now-lawmaker’s already glittering array of decorations. Patriarch Kirill awarded Joseph Kobzon, who has in the past been denied a US visa over his purported links to organized crime, the Order of Glory and Honor second degree for the crooner’s work in “developing national culture and the moral and patriotic education of his contemporaries.” Kobzon, who turned 76 in September, was a hit singer…

Source: Orthodox Church in America To the Honorable Clergy, Venerable Monastics, and Pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, My Beloved Brethren and Blessed Children in the Lord, Christ is Born! Glorify Him! Today, as we proclaim with joyous hearts that “God is With Us,” we give glory to God for the Feast of the Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. At the same time, we are surrounded by a host of images, symbols, icons, and representations of what the world thinks this Feast is, and what it should be. From Christmas trees…

Source: Independent Catholic News His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales visited The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in the United Kingdom yesterday, 17 December after expressing concern about the current challenges facing Christians in some Middle Eastern nations, and to meet members of those communities resident in the United Kingdom. His Royal Highness was accompanied by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan. During this historic visit, Prince Charles and Prince Ghazi were received at the Centre by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, with numerous official, government, ecumenical,…

Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America NEW YORK – The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America announces to all the Orthodox faithful in America the decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Nov. 27, 2013. The Holy and Sacred Synod, in which His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America participated, entered in the registry of the Saints of the Orthodox Church hieromonk Porphyrios Kafsokalyvitis (1906-1991) whose memory will be celebrated December 2, and hieromonk Meletios of Ypseni, Rhodes, born at the end of the 18th century and his memory will be celebrated February 12. Following is the official…

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