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Author Topic: Joint Melkite-Orthodox parish?  (Read 6215 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 15, 2005, 12:55:25 PM »

http://www.orthodoxnews.netfirms.com/159/inaugurated.htm
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« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2005, 01:17:41 PM »

 :scratch: Well, I don't have the whole story, I guess...my gut reaction is to wonder why Catholics and Orthodox are communing.  But...:dunno:...things are obviously "different" among the Arab brethren who are in such close quarters.

Sigh,

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« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2005, 01:25:13 PM »


 I am glad to see such good relations between the Antiochian Orthodox and the Melkite Greek Catholics.  In that story, I did not see anything about joint communion but sharing a Church.  There are many families who have both Greek Catholic and Orthodox members and it is good to see that some of the divisiveness is breaking down at the parish level.
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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2005, 01:57:09 PM »

This kind of thing isn't new, brethern...The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is shared by both the Roman Church and the Orthodox as is the Holy Septlecure (sp?) in Jerusalem...although I am led to believe East and West don't always get along there..
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« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2005, 03:05:39 PM »

From the link posted :

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This event took place on Feb 4, 2005, during the Vesper Prayer presided over by Their Beatitude Ignatius IV, Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Gregorius III, Melkite Catholic Patriarch, where they prayed together and fulfilled the ceremonial inauguration of the new Church of St. Peter and St. Paul erected in Dumar Habitat Project.

The 45th Apostolic Canon: "Let a bishop, or presbyter, or deacon who only prays with heretics, be suspended; but if he also permit them to perform any part of the office of a clergyman, let him be deprived."
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2005, 04:36:40 PM »


The 45th Apostolic Canon: "Let a bishop, or presbyter, or deacon who only prays with heretics, be suspended; but if he also permit them to perform any part of the office of a clergyman, let him be deprived."

It strikes me as a little odd when we here in the US where we don't have Muslim persecution, 'comment' on "ecumenism" in places like Syria.  Life is hard enough for them as it is and these practices have been going on there for centuries.   I'm fairly certain they have much to teach us about how to live the faith in a hostile world.  So let's not judge them. 

I also think it's a bit odd when we converts criticize these ancient practices of these historic Christian communities.  They've suffered under Islam for over a thousand years.  It's a lot easier here to be 'pure.' 
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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2005, 05:09:05 PM »

What Muslim persecution of Christians in Syria are you talking about? That is old, it does not happen often anymore (if at all and almost never by the government). Syria is one of the safest places in the Muslim relm to be Christian. And despite what is often believed here in the states, relations between Christians and Muslims is getting better and better. The Syrian environment for Christians is very good. I grew up in it. I had lots of Muslim friends and even Druze. Life is hard because there is lots of poverty but we're not oppressed anymore than our other Syrian brothers. We (Syrians) suffer under the Ba'th, not ISlam right now. The Ba'th affords many rights to Christians and other groups that Islam does not. The Ba'th is nothing compared to the Ottomans or those types. This is how we are still around and did not leave en masse like the Lebanese (though some are leaving now; such as my self Tongue). But the idea that we are beaten and broken down is condecending, hurtful and false. The unity expressed by the act of these two organizations right here is nothing more than honorable and should be practiced by more Christians. there should not be so much divisure. Especially at the local level. This should be done in places where here is serious hostility, like Iraq, Egypt, Jordan etc. as to combat Muslim aggression against us. Migration is not the answer and unity certainly is. sorry if that sounded at all hostile (brain fart)
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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2005, 06:52:46 PM »

Jennifer is such were true why would such confessors of Orthodoxy such of Patriarchs Damiainos and Diodoros of Jerusalem be opposed to the ecumenical movement? 
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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2005, 06:53:48 PM »

Jennifer,

The anti-ecumenist movement is not headed by converts, nor populated by them. Almost all of the material against ecumenism is published by ethnic Greeks.

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« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2005, 06:56:29 PM »

I think that there have been other shared temples in Syria. I read of that before, but I cannot remember the details except that it was one edifice with two altars.

Aside from the other obvious advantages of saving money etc. they still have to deal with an unsympathetic government.

I think that there are some government restrictions on new construction. Isn't it the law that there can only be one Christian church building in some towns of Syria?

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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2005, 07:16:53 PM »

Quote
I think that there are some government restrictions on new construction. Isn't it the law that there can only be one Christian church building in some towns of Syria?

Probably in the little ones. I'm not sure however, if there is I'm not aware of it (Im certain it's not the case in Damscus and Aleppo and most large towns/villages). Syria doesn't have that stupid anti-church-anti-Arab-anti-fairness law that says you have to get special permission to make a church. The government moniters all organizations, including churches and mosques. The spooks are everywhere in Syria, you cannot escape them, even if you do not know it. The only safe place from them is the home (unless you're "suspicious") or usually a church or mosque. Sometimes the government wants the leaders to support them so they speak about the glories of the Ba'th or how great it is that Dr. Bashar just his birthday or w/e. They worry more about the mosques because of all the mischief the immams sometimes try to cause. Religion though is usually well respected, especially Christianity. I have never been in a town where there were multiple denominations and only one church. I can't talk about every town though. I havent' been back in a while either but I remember the government being very serious about respecting religions (because they can serve the interest of the Ba'th of coarse but nonetheless very good to them). I am from Aleppo and Damascus (I lived in both) and there are a lot of churches in those and around them in the villages. The government is not unsympathetic towards Christians. They give the chuches money to build monestaries and roads and have provided gaurds in areas where Muslim Brothers (aka Dirty Scumbag Warriors) were operating. There are many wealthy christians and lots of Christians in the government. We have our own courts for many matters just like the Muslims and Druze do so we are not discriminated against. If you want to talk about a crummy government check out Egypt or Turkey. The government is comparatively good to Christians because we have money and because we are a minority like most other groups in the Ba'th (Alawites, Shia etc) and one of the larger ones too. If any the Sunni get the short end because they keep going over to those stupid Islamist groups and killing other Syrians and challenging the government. The government is a bulwark from full on Islamist tyranny in many ways.
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2005, 07:37:08 PM »

Sounds like Syria could teach Turkey and Egypt a thing or two.

I'm curious.  What percentage of the population of Syra is Christian (E Orthodox, O Orthodox ((every time I type these Its like Im naming blood types by the way Grin.  No offense intended)) Roman Catholic, Protestasnt, ect.) as compared to the above states?  Could it be that the Christian voice there is bigger, and therfore more respected? 

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« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2005, 07:40:52 PM »

Good post Ibrahim,

People here cannot understand conditions there, I applaud this myself. My Coptic Orthodox friend that I visit in Las Vegas is Syrian and has many stories that I really found to be harsh & hateful with hardly anything to compare it with here except the treatment of Blacks in the south years ago.

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« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2005, 07:43:57 PM »

Jennifer,

The anti-ecumenist movement is not headed by converts, nor populated by them. Almost all of the material against ecumenism is published by ethnic Greeks.

Anastasios

I'm not complaining about ecumenism.  I just think it's awfully easy for us here in the west to criticize practices in the Middle East. 

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« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2005, 08:00:33 PM »

Sounds like Syria could teach Turkey and Egypt a thing or two.

I'm curious. What percentage of the population of Syra is Christian (E Orthodox, O Orthodox ((every time I type these Its like Im naming blood types by the way Grin. No offense intended)) Roman Catholic, Protestasnt, ect.) as compared to the above states? Could it be that the Christian voice there is bigger, and therfore more respected?

Peace

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I believe that we are anywhere from 10-15% nationally. In certain regions and towns it is higher or lower. There are very few Protestants. Ive never met a Syrian protestant (though I'm sure they're around) and there are a lot of O Orthodox as well as Catholics. Im not sure of Egypt's population (most Copts) but they're in large numbers and I know little about the Christians of Turkey other than that in the south there are Syrian Orthodox ones. I think in Egypt the Islamists have been allowed to florish and fester and gain influence so there is no room for other religions to exist (this is the fault of Sadat). In Syria many Christians are wealthy or support the regime. the naitonalism in Syria is very nonsectarian compared to Iraq (same party). The Ba'th Party is full of minority groups, it might as well becalled 'the Minority protection Party" as you have all the little sects of Muslims and the Christians in it while most Syrians are Sunnis. If there was "democracy" in Syria things would not be good for Christians (former pres Asad was not considerd Muslim by the Sunnis so he had to get an immam to declare that Alawis are a form of Shia!) or smaller groups because people can be very selfish (or sectish). It is I think minorities sticking together. The government is pretty respectful of nonARab groups as well more so than most other regimes I think. Our voice is defintly big, we have the money and we founded the ruling Party (Aflaq was Greek Orthodox but not a very good one if you ask me) so people tend to listen to us as a community. The government is more embracive I think so there is less intercommunal problems. I wish they would respect theLebanese Christians more though. I think it's been easier in Syria because we don'thave Lebanon (ie the Maronites) who were like "we're not Arab and want nothing to do with them" whereas the ones here were like "sure Ill be Arab if you get the Sunnis off my back and give me a job" (not that crude though). Plus we were not seen as an enemy because we supported independence a lot as opposed to in other places where the Christians favored Westerners or western ideas. Im just guessing here though. It is very popular sometiems though to pretend that we are horribly persecuted more than other groups, especially by nonSyrian Christians. What I am worrying about is what will happen if the regime is taken out. I don't want Syria like Iraq with all the Christians having to leave because the Muslims take all the power in the country.

Quote
People here cannot understand conditions there, I applaud this myself. My Coptic Orthodox friend that I visit in Las Vegas is Syrian and has many stories that I really found to be harsh & hateful with hardly anything to compare it with here except the treatment of Blacks in the south years ago.

This is definitly true. I have heard tons of horrible things from Egypt. I remember hearing that they still keep the Ottoman laws in place just to be mean to the Copts. Talk about regressive. I think people give Egypt too much credit. I mean for such an 'advanced" Arab state they sure are lacking in terms of social progress. I think in Syria the problem really is in some areas the people, not the government. I mean there was a group of Sunnis that attacked, raped and killed an Armeanian girl because they said she was disloyal to Syria, recently! And look at  Egypt protesting because they open a church. With out the government in Syria we would get swallowed up by the Islamist monster. Im not saying the government is perfect at all but it is the lesser of a plethora of evils (Democrats take your pick; genocidal Muslim Brothers, Saddam Hussien Ba'th, Egyptian aparthied system, Islamic Republic ala Iran or totalitarian Sunni monarchy ala Saudi?).
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« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2005, 08:15:23 PM »

That is not a response to the point that either Anastasios or I brought up. There are strong voices from within the Arab Churches that are protesting ecumenism. Is your response to them that they don't know the persecutions that they themselves are undergoing? Or is it that your don't have a response?
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« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2005, 08:22:40 PM »

That is not a response to the point that either Anastasios or I brought up.  There are strong voices from within the Arab Churches that are protesting ecumenism.  Is your response to them that they don't know the persecutions that they themselves are undergoing?  Or is it that your don't have a response?

I don't have an opinion on the situation.  My point was simply that I think that we should refrain from criticizing the practices of Middle Eastern Christians because we are not there.   Let's leave it to the Arab Christians to address these things.   
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2005, 08:33:04 PM »

Warrented critisism is needed. When practices lead to deadends like backwardness, racism, stagnanation in power or growth voices should be raised. All valid opinions should be voiced and heard and taken to consideration. If there is something wrong going down, it should be called such. Thats like the people who are all "let the Muslims do as they please"; what kill me?  Huh Tongue
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« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2005, 08:10:56 AM »

Their Beatitudes, the Antiochian and Melkite Patriarchs, did indeed bless a temple that will be used by the faithful of both Churches. This (the sharing of a temple) is not an uncommon happening in the Middle East, the uniqueness of this particular event was that the temple was constructed with the express purpose of being used by both Churches.

In Syria, a government permit is required to construct a church and they are not always readily granted. Both Churches had need of a temple in this particular place and decided that they would be more likely successful in obtaining the necessary approval if they applied jointly, as opposed to each filing separate requests. In addition, construction costs would be halved and both Churches need their scarce funds for a variety of things, not least of which are the many educational, health care, and social service activities in which they are engaged - most often as a joint undertaking between themselves and the other Orthodox and Catholic Churches with a presence in the country.

In many small villages in Syria, there is only a single temple, although there may be faithful of two or more Churches living there; the temple may belong to the Antiochians, the Melkites, the Syriac Orthodox, or the Syriac Catholics. It is common practice among the clergy of all of these Churches to permit use of their temple for celebration of the Divine Liturgy or the Holy Mysteries by clergy of the other Churches when they are in the area. (The same is true in Lebanon, although there it principally involves only the Antiochians and Melkites.)

From all that I know, and my sources are very good, sacramental concelebration does not occur. However, there are informal agreements, in the nature of pastoral provisions, intended to provide for the care of the faithful of both Churches in areas where a lack of temples or clergy make it difficult for one or both Churches to serve the needs of their peoples. (Formal agreements for the provision of pastoral care, permitting intercommunion, do exist between the Syriac Orthodox and Catholic Churches and between the Assyrian and Chaldean Catholic Churches; informal agreements of the same nature also exist between the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic Churches, and between the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Eritrean Orthodox and their Catholic counterparts.)

Long, close ties between the Melkite Catholic Patriarch and both the Antiochian and OEcumenical Patriarchs have been particularly strong since Vatican II.  However, as we all know, a proposal for formal intercommunion between the Melkites and Antiochians was advanced a few years ago in a document referred to as The Melkite Initiative, authored by Sayedna Elias Zoghby, a Melkite hierarch, and subscribed to by virtually the entire Melkite Synod. It was, however, rejected by both Rome and the Antiochians as premature.

That aside, relations between the two Churches (and with the Orthodox and Catholic Syriacs, with whom we share cultural and ethnic ties) especially in our lands of origin, but also in the diaspora, are probably the most cordial and reciprocal of all Orthodox-Catholic relationships. Those whose experience is with Orthodox and Catholic relationships in Eastern Europe need to realize that the experience of our Churches in the Middle East is very different from that of Catholic and Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine-Slav Tradition in Eastern Europe. Animosity, persecution, proselytizing, and battling for church structures by either side were relatively short-lived phenomena in places like Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq and are long in the past. In the Middle East, common concerns for both the survival of Christianity and for the secular welfare of their peoples (and Muslims, as well), high rates of intermarriage among the faithful of the various Churches, as well as a profound respect for their common ecclesial heritage have combined to achieve an atmosphere among clergy and hierarchy that is more than merely collegial; it is supportive and caring.

With no intent to disparage my Slav brethren, Orthodox or Catholic - during the early years in this country, much of their energies went into competing with one another for the faithful in battles that were, not infrequently, bitter and divisive. The clergy of the Middle Eastern Churches, facing the added burden of sometimes being perceived as of an inferior racial group, were less concerned with competing than survival. They were few and scattered. The faithful gravitated to whichever Church had a congregation and a building, without a lot of concern as to whether it was Antiochian (then commonly referred to as Syrian Orthodox), Melkite (as often termed Syrian Catholic back then), Syriac Orthodox, or Maronite. And that temple, of whichever Church, was where the faithful worshipped and communed until such time as a priest of their own arrived and set up shop - and no one thought twice about it. Not infrequently, when he did arrive, he’d borrow vestments, service books, and use of the temple until he could arrange his.

Recently, I had occasion to peruse an anniversary program booklet from a Melkite parish in the Mid-West, of the type in which advertisements are frequently sold. The particular parish was the first Arabic church in the locale and served all. Among the congratulatory advertisements were two from Antiochian and Syriac churches in the city, both of which warmly described the Melkites as the “mother parish” to their own parish communities. That situation was reciprocated, with the players reversed, in other places.

As a practical matter still, in the Northeast, where there is a particularly fraternal relationship among parishes and clergy with Middle Eastern origins, and intermarriage is very commonplace, it isn't unknown to see some intercommunion happen on both sides of the fence, with no one blinking an eye. It's also not uncommon to see priests from 3 or 4 different Eastern churches (EC, EO, and OO) offering prayers at the same wake, frequently together. I’m not suggesting that this is necessarily how it should be; I’m a proponent of adhering to the liturgical prescriptions of one’s hierarch - but it is reality.

In sum, whatever little bit this shared temple does to help bring about unity will be a wonderful and blessed thing, but more than that is needed - a willingness to look past polemics on both parts and to devote as much prayerful energy to finding our commonalities as both Churches have done to identifying their differences. It is difficult to believe that God finds this disunion between us as edifying and I suspect that, someday, those from each Church who have had the opportunity to find a basis to end it will be in the position of having to answer for failing to have done so.

Many years,

Neil
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« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2005, 05:47:05 PM »

Yeah, it's unfortunate to see healing and reconciliation going on. Perhaps what we really need is a few more confessors and apostolic canons to make sure that old rifts are never healed.
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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2005, 01:28:43 AM »

That aside, relations between the two Churches (and with the Orthodox and Catholic Syriacs, with whom we share cultural and ethnic ties) especially in our lands of origin, but also in the diaspora, are probably the most cordial and reciprocal of all Orthodox-Catholic relationships. Those whose experience is with Orthodox and Catholic relationships in Eastern Europe need to realize that the experience of our Churches in the Middle East is very different from that of Catholic and Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine-Slav Tradition in Eastern Europe. Animosity, persecution, proselytizing, and battling for church structures by either side were relatively short-lived phenomena in places like Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq and are long in the past. In the Middle East, common concerns for both the survival of Christianity and for the secular welfare of their peoples (and Muslims, as well), high rates of intermarriage among the faithful of the various Churches, as well as a profound respect for their common ecclesial heritage have combined to achieve an atmosphere among clergy and hierarchy that is more than merely collegial; it is supportive and caring.

Spot on, Neil! You described it well.

It should be said, though, that the relationship between the two Churches (Byzantine tradition) is more fraternal in countries under Antiochian jurisdiction than in those under Jerusalem. Syria and Lebanon are the best countries in which to find the atmosphere you have described.

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« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2005, 01:45:59 AM »

Yeah, it's unfortunate to see healing and reconciliation going on. Perhaps what we really need is a few more confessors and apostolic canons to make sure that old rifts are never healed.

Yeah, syncretism! Just what we need! Let's chuck the adjective Orthodox and just be the "Church of the Smells and Bells"! Wink

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« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2005, 02:49:27 AM »

You forgot to add in 'without apology' to that official title. Wink

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« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2005, 05:52:55 PM »

I dont think syncretism is a risk that Orthodoxy is running at the moment.
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« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2005, 06:12:48 PM »

I dont think syncretism is a risk that Orthodoxy is running at the moment.

Please describe the risks that Orthodoxy is running now. Whatever they are, I don't think compromising the faith helps it out.

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« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2005, 05:36:18 PM »

Problems with Orthodoxy right now? I'm not in the habit of writing books on any given forum. However, I don't think this joint consecration counts as "compromising the faith". There have been joint jurisdictional churches before, and I think it'd be more interesting to hear their reasons for it than to simply declare their action valid or invalid.
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« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2005, 06:15:58 PM »

Problems with Orthodoxy right now? I'm not in the habit of writing books on any given forum. However, I don't think this joint consecration counts as "compromising the faith". There have been joint jurisdictional churches before, and I think it'd be more interesting to hear their reasons for it than to simply declare their action valid or invalid.

I'm more of an optimist than you, apparently; certainly being at a seminary I have seen my share of problems. But I am constantly amazed by the level of dedication and sacrifices being made by people in the previous generation who are my teachers and in my generation the future priests and teachers. There are some stark problems that need to be addressed but on the whole Orthodoxy is doing well here in America, and with some additional effort can move towards doing "great" in my opinion.

I am well aware of previous ventures between Orthodox and Catholics; as a former Eastern Catholic I know about these ventures because they are held up in that Church as a model for unity and are put forward in the conciousness of the people regularly. I don't believe the motives of such people are bad, and I understand the situation in the middle east somewhat thanks to my Arab friends and people like SamB who post here on the forum. That doesn't change my opinion that at some level such joint consecrations are wrong. Working for the return of the separated to Orthodoxy is something I think is always necessary, and that involves sitting down and talking with them, but I think actions like this joint consecration are a bit too extreme.

Anastasios
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« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2005, 09:09:50 PM »

Orthodoxy doing well in America?

Well that depends how you look at it.

Orthodoxy lost an entire generation in the US due mainly to linguistic inflexibility and not accommodating some of the newer realities of this climate. The OCA is an especially exemplary case. It claims 1 million baptized members but an active membership base of just at 115,000. The reason you see it as doing well is because there are a relatively large number of converts. You're correct that this is going well and could be going even better, but that doesn't change the fact that Orthodoxy lost a 20 year span of virtually assured baptized membership due to completely avoidable sillyness. Aside from a few cites of this fact by Fr. Hopko, Ive read a report by an Orthodox socilogist from Berkeley about the state of Orthodoxy in America. They (the Orthodox Churches in the US) are mending their ways - that is agreed - and eventually Orthodoxy will be able to grow in America while maintaining the next group of cradle baptized adults.

Yet, that's only Orthodoxy in the US. Globally it's suffering more from apathy than anything. The traditional strongholds, for various reasons, are in a state of ongoing apathy and are going to 1/2 the number of Orthodox baptized within 1 generation due to secularized birth rates and simple non-affiliation with the church. Also, our global missions are a sick joke. The number of Orthodox cross-cultural missionaries is a crime to the name of "apostolic" church.

Lastly, I believe that schism is more of a horrible condition than imperfection. I fundamentally believe that those churches who agree that one another are truly offering salvific faith should move as quickly as poosible towards reconciliation, and learn how to live with and discuss the ambiguities in particulars as we begin to see each other more and more as fellow brothers in Christ and members of his Church, with or without specific valid disagreements in belief and praxis.

I think we've lost the horror of schism and become desensitized to it as the normative way of things. I'm not willing to become one of those.
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« Reply #28 on: February 20, 2005, 09:34:06 PM »

I can see your point; but I think most Churches lost membership in the last 20 years, so it might not be just related to Orthodoxy.  I think we are generally entering the twilight of Christianity as a major faith, and that can't be helped I don't think. But maybe I am wrong?

Yours in Christ,

Anastasios
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« Reply #29 on: February 21, 2005, 12:56:07 AM »

You're definately wrong that it's waning worldwide. Christianity has grown on pace with Islam. In fact it's a fervently growin religion worldwide, just not in the industrial west. That's part of why cross-cultural missionaries are essential... that's the next realm of the Christian faith, the 3rd world. Let us pray they can learn from our mistakes.

Also, only the mainline protestants lost members in the past 20 years, and that's because of all the revisionism etc. Something like 114,000 new converts become catholic each year, even with the priestly scandals. That's not the problem with orthodoxy. We didnt change theology, we just failed to adapt to a changing landscape and to a generation that wasn't ok with hearing the liturgy in some tongue they didnt understand and without even a sermon to add the slightest hint of relevance.





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« Reply #30 on: March 08, 2005, 03:54:38 AM »

Hi,

Being of Jordanian-American Orthodox it is no surprise to me of the unity. As Arabs especially in Jordan we are united in religion. When I was a child before moving to the States we were blessed before travel by Father George of the Greek Catholic Church and Father Spear of the Roman Orthodox Church. Actually, I was confused to find the West as well as in the States that the Christian religions were so divided as well as feuding among themselves.

As far as Islam, I lived among Jordanian-Arabs of all religions and the Islamic people of true Islam are humble and good people who are enriched in their faith; and the acceptance that Christianity and Judiasm along with Islam is one religion.

Let me remind you incase you did not know, a person of true Islamic faith (Sunni) believes Jesus is the Messanger of God the Son of Virgin Mary. In the Koran in Suri 19 is the Christmas Story.

Yes I am of Orthodox Christian and proud of it, however, I am always proud of my heritage and the close ties we have.

The news and propaganda never give you the true and whole picture.

Thank you,
Hadel



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Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
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