GREEK PRAYER FOR TRANSGENDER NAME CHANGE: URGING CAUTION by Giacomo Sanfilippo

euchologionSince yesterday The Pappas Post’s article, “The Greek Orthodox Church Has a Prayer for Name Changes Following Gender Reassignment Surgery,” has been causing some excitement among Orthodox Facebook users, especially those inclined to welcome such news. One sympathetic sharer of the article introduced it with the famous maxim: Lex orandi, lex credendi est.

As is often the case in the media, Gregory Pappas’ sensationalistic headline serves unfortunately to obscure the facts contained in the article itself. 

The prayer in question is the composition of a single hierarch, Metropolitan Timothy (Matthaiakes) of New Ionia and Philadelphia, for inclusion in a euchologion (service book) authored or authorized by himself. In no sense can it be construed as the lex orandi of the Church of Greece, much less of the whole Orthodox Church.

Those who have read my article on being the father of a transgender son know my views on the need for the Orthodox Church to develop a more pastorally responsive approach to the complex question of transgender identity. Those who know me personally—and have spoken with me at length—see for themselves the extreme caution that I bring to the table with respect not only to transgender concerns, but also to the no less complex question of sexual orientation. We need to get these things right on all counts: theologically, spiritually, and pastorally. Mr. Pappas’ headline undermines the necessarily cautious approach of pastors and theologians striving to articulate a more holistic theology of sexuality and gender that turns no one away who yearns for Christ and for the Church’s life of grace. Read More


ERIC ILIFF ON CHASTITY: THE FULL TEXT

When we published “On Chastity and Same-Sex Love” two days ago, we only had access to a truncated version; hence, the several ellipses.

This evening a member of the old Homosexuality and Christianity Yahoo! Group found and forwarded to us the full text.

Within the context of a group discussion on chastity in the lives of gay Christians, Eric sent this email dated Sunday, December 3, 2006, 6:09 a.m. This is probably his last public statement on same-sex love prior to his death three months later. We publish it with no corrections, exactly as he sent it.

The icon was not included in his email.

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The Holy Napkin, by the hand of Eric Iliff

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ON CHASTITY AND SAME-SEX LOVE by Eric J. Iliff

In May 2006 Eric J. Iliff received his MDiv from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary with a thesis entitled, “Homosexuality and the Eastern Orthodox Christian Tradition” (available at Theological Research Exchange Network). In December of that year he posted the following message to the now defunct Homosexuality and Christianity Yahoo! Group. It rings authentic precisely because it is so unpolished, so obviously the spontaneous outpouring of a pure heart.

On March 13, 2007 he took his life in a motel room surrounded by his icons, Bible, and prayer book. October 11, 2017 would have been his 36th birthday. 

May the voice of this gentle and unobtrusive young man be heard even from the grave. May he not have lived and died in vain.

Memory eternal. Memory eternal. Memory eternal.

eric Read More


REFORMATION 500: THE REFORMATION(S): THE ANGLICAN PERSPECTIVE(S) by Cole Hartin

This is the fifth article in our Reformation 500 Series.

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Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), Archbishop of Canterbury 

Asking about the Anglican perspective on the Reformation is almost risible. This is so only because there are as many Anglican perspectives on the Reformation as there are Anglicans.

Perhaps I’ve put this too sharply. But it is fair to say that there is a plurality of perspectives on the Reformation within the Anglican Church. This is not something we should quickly overlook, either. For this very plurality is a distinctive feature of Anglicanism itself: it is diverse, comprehensive, and tolerant of varying viewpoints—though the limits of this breadth are continually being stretched, challenged, and recently redrawn.

Besides all of this, it is quite commonplace now to think that talk about various “reformations,” rather than “the Reformation,” is more appropriate. Careful scholarship has eschewed the notion that there was ever anything like a monolithic movement of church reform in any concrete sense. This is a narrative we have all bought into for too long, scholars say. Rather, we should look at concrete realities—measurable changes and movements within particular Churches, rather than grand universals. In other words, at least with respect to reformations in England, we should be reading more Eamon Duffy and watching less of the History Channel. So it goes.

Still—whether “the Reformation” in the abstract is a freighted term or not—it does figure into Anglican thought in many ways. We tell new pilgrims on the Canterbury Trail that we are “Reformed and Catholic” and that the Anglican way is a “via media” between the enthusiasm of the Roman Church and the dry-as-dust Protestantism that swept through Geneva. These are great oversimplifications, obviously, but we can’t get rid of them. I’ll leave it for others to decide if they are helpful enough to salvage as useful entry points into a tradition with a history that is far more complex. Read More


EASTERN & ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CONFERENCE TO BE HELD IN TORONTO by Ramez Rizkalla

St. Mark’s Orthodox Fellowship

St. Mark’s Orthodox Fellowship (SMOF) was founded by a number of Coptic Orthodox laymen in August 1992 in Maryland. Its mission statement reads as follows:

  1. St.mark_coptic_iconPromote teaching, preaching, and study of the Bible and the teachings of the Holy Fathers of the Church.
  2. Promote publication and distribution of articles and books to help understand the faith and dogma of the Orthodox Church.
  3. Arrange and coordinate local and national meetings to study and discuss spiritual and religious issues.

SMOF’s Canadian chapter was founded in Toronto in November 1999.

For the past number of years, SMOF Canada has organized Orthodox Unity Conferences where Eastern and Oriental speakers have been invited to give talks on a wide spectrum of themes. The aim of these conferences has been to create a bond between the two families of Orthodoxy at a grassroots level.

Through the efforts of SMOF Canada’s founder, Dr. Raouf Edward, these gatherings ultimately resulted in the formation of the Annual Synaxis of Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Clergy of the Greater Toronto Area, which is hosted by the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto. Read More


ABORTION, CONTRACEPTION, AND CHRISTIAN FAITH by Giacomo Sanfilippo

fetal_20_week_fetus_s7aThe Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and conservative Protestant Churches have two clear moral obligations with respect to abortion: the first, to do everything in our collective power to ensure that it remain legal, accessible, and performed only by properly trained medical professionals.

Internally I am dying a thousand deaths for bringing myself to write those terrible words—I, who have fathered five beloved children myself, whom I cannot imagine not-born; I, who will soon become a grandfather for the second time; I, who even as an aging man never fail to marvel with childlike wonder at the mystery of God knitting together a new child according to His image in its mother’s womb; I, who selected the photo accompanying this article so as not to fool myself or my readers about the tragically wounded conditions of our fallen human existence.

So I beg you to continue reading before you howl and shriek for me to be burnt at your stakes as a liberal and a heretic, for I am neither. I am a broken-hearted realist: if we believe that abortion kills a baby, back alley abortion kills a baby and a woman. It really does come down to this: if we cannot always save the lives of both, we must at least take every step possible to save the life of one. Whose mother, wife, daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, friend, will we wish dead, or simply allow to die, because any number of complex factors—factors unknown to us—compel her to make an unfathomably difficult decision regarding life and death? Read More


ANONYMOUS PRIESTHOOD: AN INTRODUCTORY SKETCH by Richard René

thineownIn July 2014 the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) appointed me the Site Chaplain of Kent Maximum Security Institution. In my conversations with parishioners, many assume that my job involves being an “Orthodox prison chaplain,” serving Orthodox inmates and proclaiming Orthodoxy to the non-Orthodox.

Is this assumption correct? No, and yes. In this essay, I would like to take this opportunity to explain the “no” and then elaborate a little on the “yes.”

As an Orthodox priest, I am called to be a “minister of the Word,” which I understand to mean the Logos, who is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I proclaim the Gospel of the crucified and risen Word, and then offer the Gifts of bread and wine to become His Body and Blood before the altar on behalf of the “royal priesthood.”

This is a very particular kind of work directed to a very particular group of people—the Orthodox Christian people of God. Orthodox prison chaplaincy in this sense would involve the same work, only to Orthodox Christian men and/or women (including catechumens and inquirers) who are behind bars.

There is indeed a term for this kind of chaplain in the CSC: demographically responsive, meaning chaplains who minister specifically to those who subscribe to their faith. They are not responsible for those who are not affiliated, unless it is to inform non-affiliated individuals about their specific beliefs. Demographically Responsive Chaplains exist mostly for the insiders of their faith communities. Read More