PRIEST TO PRIEST: AN OPEN LETTER TO FATHERS DAMICK, FARLEY, JACOBSE, PARKER, AND TRENHAM by an Archpriest and Grandfather

My younger brother concelebrants, Fathers  Andrew Stephen, Lawrence, Johannes, John, and Josiah:

Christ is in our midst! 

Let me begin with a few words about myself: an American archpriest in a jurisdiction represented in the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, born into a Russian Orthodox family which traces its lineage in the Faith to the baptism of Kiev 1,031 years ago,  and approaching retirement. My grandfather was a priest, and his father before him; and before that, who knows?

I’m older than any of you, have been a priest longer than any of you, and possess more pastoral experience and formal theological education than any of you. 

Some of you I have met in person.

My children were raised, and my grandchildren are being raised, in Orthodox homes where an unusually high level of theological fluency was, and is, imparted to them. Theology and spirituality are the stuff of conversation around our dinner tables. Perhaps they’re the stuff of any multi-generational Orthodox family that has been immersed in the Faith since time immemorial: we’re Orthodox in the marrow of our bones—in our very DNA, as it were.

Outdoor portrait of  grandfather with granddaughter.

One of Matushka’s and my grandchildren is a spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually advanced 13-year old girl. For the sake of this open letter we’ll call her “Tatiana.” She and I are exceptionally close. We see each other often because we have lived in the same city all her life. We often do things just the two of us. Her infectious exuberance for everything she touches—for life itself!—bursts like a sudden flash of sunshine into her aging Dyedushka’s soul every time we come into one another’s presence.

Recently over dinner à deux Tatiana came out to me as gay.

I almost typed “mustered the courage to come out to me” because it’s become conventional to talk that way about coming out. But she’s so completely confident in my love for her that she made the announcement rather happily, without any discernible hesitation, as if she were sharing with me any other new fact about herself. Read More


JOB OPENING: ALL-UKRAINIAN NETWORK OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS

Orthodoxy in Dialogue does not normally post job openings. We make this exception as part of our commitment to care for the socially marginalized, whether for reasons of sexuality, gender identity, socioeconomic status, race, etc.
The deadline to apply is one week from today, February 15, 2019. Please share widely with your colleagues who are fluent in English and Ukrainian and have the other qualifications outlined below.

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CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION “ALL-UKRAINIAN NETWORK OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS” is seeking qualified candidates for the five-year USAID-funded Project HealthLink: Accelerating Ukraine’s Efforts to End HIV in Ukraine.

The project will provide technical assistance to Ukraine’s efforts in achieving the UNAIDS and PEPFAR 90-90-90 targets, with the focus on increasing demand for and access to HIV services, increasing the numbers of PLHIV who know their status and are linked to care, address gaps in the HIV service cascade, and reduce stigma and discrimination toward PLHIV and KPs with higher risks of being infected with HIV. Read More


DO NOT TRUST THE MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE: A RUSSIAN PRIEST’S TESTIMONY ( Version française dessous )

A beloved brother in the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe has asked that Orthodoxy in Dialogue publish this anonymous letter from a priest in Russia to Archbishop John of Charioupolis.
This version was translated from a French translation (included below) of the original Russian. Since a translation of a translation is never ideal, those who read Russian are referred to the original at the Akhilla website. We do not have the time to edit the minor linguistic errors in this translation.
For context see Act of Canonical Subordination of the Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe to the Local Dioceses of the Holy Ecumenical Patriarchate and the article linked in the introduction there.

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Patriarch Kirill and the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church. February 2013.

Your Eminence, dear Monseigneur John, dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe,

I am writing to you following decision taken by Patriarch Bartholomew to abolish the Archdiocese and hand over its legacy to the local Greek metropolia, a decision that puts the Archdiocese in a difficult position.  It is unfortunate to say so, but it seems that this decision of Patriarch Bartholomew and his Synod has significantly undermined the confidence that the Archdiocese had in him: it is unlikely that the Archdiocese will return under his omophor and regain its previous status.  Thus dislocated, the Archdiocese would cease to be a whole and would see its parishes, one by one, enter the Greek metropolia, which nevertheless appears to me as an even less satisfactory solution. Read More


ON SEXUALITY & GENDER: LETTER TO AN INQUIRER by Giacomo Sanfilippo

boyfriendsWhen I announced Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s partial hiatus I let it be known that I would continue to respond to anything sent to our editorial email address. People write to us not only with their ideas for an article, but very often to me personally for spiritual support in their struggles with questions of sexuality and gender. These questions might pertain to themselves, their child, or someone else for whom they care deeply.

The day before yesterday we heard from a woman who’s familiar with the work of Father James Martin, SJ. (See the titles under his name in our Archives by Author.) Over the course of two or three emails she reached a comfort level with me where she asked why I study theology, why my studies focus on sexuality and gender, what makes a person straight or gay, what were the reactions to my article in The Wheel

I share my rushed and unpolished answer in the hope that some of our readers might find it helpful. Read More



EMBRACING WISDOM: THE SUMMA THEOLOGIAE AS SPIRITUAL PEDAGOGY reviewed by Travis E. Ables

Dr. Ables’ review brings Rev. Dr. Mongeau’s Embracing Wisdom and Thomas Aquinas into direct conversation with modern Orthodox theology. 

Embracing Wisdom: The Summa theologiae as Spiritual Pedagogy
Gilles Mongeau
Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2015

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A few years ago in graduate school, I spent months tracking down the origins of a curious little echo chamber in 20th-century trinitarian theology. Starting with Karl Rahner and recurring through many luminaries—Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox—one encounters the same argument repeatedly. The argument was really a story, a story of decline and discovery, as theologian after theologian decried the shortcomings of Western trinitarian theology and found refuge and renewal in the trinitarian thought of Orthodoxy. I eventually traced this narrative to the writings of Vladimir Lossky and the exiled Russian Orthodox community in Paris, emanating from the St. Dionysius Institute and the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius. It made its way into an essay by Rahner, and the rest was history.

This particular narrative of trinitarian history is not directly relevant to Mongeau’s masterful work; what is significant, however, is how the reception of Parisian Orthodox thought in Germany and France seemed to trade on a deep suspicion of two canonical Catholic figures: Augustine and Aquinas. Indeed, as I dug further into 20th-century Orthodox thought, the allergy to Thomas seemed to be the common denominator among these Orthodox and their Western interpreters. And no wonder. With the promulgation of Aeterni Patris and the Neo-Thomist revival in Catholic seminaries, the fastidious manuals of the schools seemed the very antithesis of the apophatic, mystical, doxological theologies being developed by Lossky, Florovsky, and other Orthodox—and their Western readers. Read More


WELL, WELL, WELL. WHAT PERFECT TIMING FOR THE OCA TO REJECT UKRAINE.

 

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Metropolitan Tikhon (L) and Patriarch Kirill (R)

Here at Orthodoxy in Dialogue we’ve wondered since mid-December how the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) would respond to ecclesiastical developments in Ukraine, what was taking them so long to make up their minds, and finally if there was any significance to the fact that their “Archpastoral Letter on Ukraine” came out on January 28. 

Lo and behold, while preparing The OCA: Moscow’s Pawns in America & the American Region of “Russkii Mir” for publication a short while ago, we went to the OCA website to get the link for the aforementioned Archpastoral Letter. There we learned that, earlier today—just two days after doing the Kremlin’s bidding in writing—Metropolitan Tikhon and entourage landed in Moscow to pay obeisance in person to their liege lord.

Did the Patriarch threaten to rescind the Metropolitan’s invite to his self-congratulations party if the OCA Synod didn’t get off the pot and issue a Ukraine statement pronto? Did Moscow send Syosset an approved text for the latter’s Archpastoral Letter?

These questions don’t seem entirely beyond the pale of possibility. Read More