Defending the Faith Against Adversaries

Defending the Faith Against Adversaries

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Welcome to “This Week in Orthodoxy”, the world’s only online video newscast focused on events in the life of the Orthodox Church. I’m Emmy Louvaris.  These are some of the stories making headlines the week of Friday, August 5, 2016.

  • Catholic Bishops Declare a Fast after Priest’s Murder
  • Faithful shot at while preparing for annual pilgrimage
  • Russian Orthodox Pilgrims Gather in Kiev Despite Threats

Catholic Bishops Declare a Fast after Priest’s Murder

First up from France, the Catholic Church asked Her faithful to increase their offering and fast on Friday, July 29 in response to the “barbaric murder” of 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel that took place while he celebrated Mass on Tuesday, July 26th at his church Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, France. Two men stormed his church and slit his throat. The Islamist State claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Catholic News Agency reported that the secretary general of the French Bishops Conference made the declaration of a day of fasting, during World Youth Day in Poland, that happen to be taking place on the same day.

Father Jacques funeral was held on August 2nd and attended by thousands of mourners. In the homily, Rouen Archbishop Dominique Lebrun said: “As brutal and unfair and horrible as Jacques’ death was, we have to look deep into our hearts to find the light.” He called for forgiveness, quoting the New Testament command to love your neighbors.

His sister, Roselyne, told the congregation that her brother had been a man of “mercy and love”. “He chose to serve God so that he can cultivate love and sharing and tolerance among people of all faiths and denominations, believers and non-believers, throughout his life…and his message to everyone would be: Let us learn to live together. Let us be the workers and artisans of peace, each one in his own way.”

Faithful shot at while preparing for annual pilgrimage

And next, a press release from the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija reported a group of 20 Serbian faithful were shot at while
cleaning the ruins of St. Archangel Gabriel Monastery, the site for their annual pilgrimage. The monastery was destroyed after the end of the armed conflict in Kosovo by Albanian extremists the summer of 1999.

According to the press release, “Before the Feast of St. Gabriel the parishioners have to clean the monastery courtyard because locals use it for dumping garbage and debris.”

Although the local priest, Fr. Zvonko asked for Police protection, his request was declined. The shots came from a neighboring house. No one was hurt in the attack and the incident was reported to the Kosovo police.

Russian Orthodox Pilgrims Gather in Kiev Despite Threats

And Lastly, thousands of Russian Orthodox Christian pilgrims, reached the center of Ukraine’s capital on Wednesday, July 27th after their march was disrupted a day earlier by threats of grenades being planted along the route.

On Monday, Ukrainian nationalists had blocked the procession from entering the city, pelting marchers with eggs and denouncing them as “agents of Moscow.” On Tuesday, Ukraine’s interior minister prevented the procession by Ukrainian adherents of Russian Orthodoxy from entering Kiev for their safety. The faithful were able to complete their journey in buses on Wednesday as originally planned.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine, which share linguistic and cultural ties dating back hundreds of years, soured in 2014 with conflicts between the two rising and claiming more than 9,400 lives.

Although the conflicts were not fought along religious lines, Orthodox Christians in Ukraine are divided between one church that is part of the Russian Orthodox Church and a splinter church under a Ukrainian leader, not recognized by Moscow.

Kiev is the site where Prince Vladimir performed a symbolic baptism of his then-pagan country in 988, officially enacting the adoption of Christianity.

Moscow Patriarchate’s spokesman Vladimir Legoyda told The Associated Press that at least 30,000 pilgrims gathered for prayer at St. Vladimir Hill in Kiev, believed to be the original baptism site.

And in News from OCN.

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Emmy Louvaris

Emmy Louvaris is the host of This Week in Orthodoxy, the first weekly news show to cover the international Orthodox Church and community.