This Week in Orthodoxy, March 28, 2014

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 shaping the Orthodox Community this week:
• The Orthodox Community says goodbye to Father Thomas Hopko.
• Seventy-two years ago, one Orthodox Bishop took a stand against injustice.
•The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America co-sponsors an event at the United Nations.

Segment 1: News from Around the Globe

Farewell to Fr. Thomas Hopko
First up, the Orthodox Church loses one of its great theological thinkers. Father Thomas Hopko reposed in the Lord on Wednesday, March 18th, after complications due to congestive heart failure.

The funeral service for the former Dean of St. Vladimir’s were held at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, just outside Pittsburgh. Orthodox clergy from around the country attended to pay their final respects and participate in a procession to the burial site, where Father Hopko was laid to rest.

May His Memory be Eternal!

Archbishop Damaskinos Protests the Holocaust
And next up, we remember, when 72 years ago, on March 23, 1943, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Damaskinos, together with other prominent leaders, defiantly stood up to the Nazis and lobbied for the preservation of Greek Jews.

Already two years into the Nazi-German occupation Archbishop Damaskinos wrote:
“All Greek citizens, without distinction of race or religion, were to be treated equally by the occupation authorities…In our national consciousness, all the children of Mother Greece are an inseparable unity: they are equal members of the national body, irrespective of religion or dogmatic difference. Our Holy Religion does not recognize superior or inferior qualities based on race or religion, as it is stated: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek’ (Gal. 3:28), and thus condemns any attempt to discriminate or create racial or religious differences. Our common fate, both in days of glory and in periods of national misfortune, forged inseparable bonds between all Greek citizens, without exemption, irrespective of race.”

During WWII, close to 13,000 Greek Jews fought the Axis Powers. Colonel Mordechai Frizis was among the most famous Greek Jewish fighters. He gave his life defending Greece from the 1940 Italian invasion.

Although the Archbishop’s letter was not honored by the Nazis, it was a strong statement of Greece’s continued support of its Jewish brethren.

This was especially true under the notorious charge of S.S. officer General Jurgen Stroop, who was responsible for ordering the systematic burning of the Greek Jewish Community, building by building, during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943. Those who survived the fires were either shot on site or sent to concentration camps.

The Church’s letter and acts of defiance were dangerous, but the coordinated Greek response actually forced Berlin to remove Stroop from his position.

Athenians risked life and limb to hide Jewish neighbors from storm troopers and S.S. officers. The town of Thessaloniki raised 2 billion drachmas and bought the freedom of its Jewish community.

The Bishop and Mayor on the island of Zakynthos, also defied the Nazis by refusing to turn over the names of 275 resident Jews. They eventually gave up trying to locate Zakynthos’ Jews, and because of this, the Jewish Community presented St. Dionysius Church stained glass windows as a sign of their gratitude for the Church’s role in saving the Jewish people.

Thousands of Jewish lives were saved by the efforts of the Greek Orthodox Church and Greek citizens. The Orthodox Church’s actions during the Holocaust are a testament to its continued stance on human rights. As Ephesians Chapter 6 verse 6 says: “Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

Men of good will, acting with the Faith of God can still vanquish darkness.

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Participates in UN Panel Discussion
Now on to New York, where the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Roman Catholic Religious Institute took part in a panel discussion at the United Nations on human trafficking. Both religious organizations submitted a joint written statement to the Economic and Social Council’s Commission on the Status of Women.

The discussion focused on migration of women, including forced migration, and the human dignity and rights of women, including girls. Recognizing the efforts made by the U.N. and the member states in trying to combat human trafficking and sex exploitation, the statement also called for a universal effort to combat the conditions which foster voluntary and forced migration;

Woman account for 43% of the global agricultural labor force, but their wages are 60% to 75% less than those of men. It’s believed that up to 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty worldwide are women, and rural girls are twice as likely to be out of school, compared to their urban counterparts. According to the World Health Organization, 35% of women have experienced sexual or physical violence, with the effect of silencing and denying them their human right to expression.

The joint statement made by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Roman Catholic Religious Institute presented to the United Nation addressed the issue of violent abuse against women, both physical and psychological, and in the end, made suggestions on how to combat these problems and how to enact strong laws that ensure the enforcement of consequences for violations.

Segment 2. News from OCN

OCN Hero
Watch on our website this week as we introduce once again our OCN Hero program. People around the world will be able to nominate lay men and women and clergy they feel are examples of living an Orthodox Christian life in their service to others. For more details, visit our website at www.myocn.net.

20th Anniversary
Celebrating our 20th anniversary, we’ve come a long way from producing a 1 hour radio program, and you can be a part of our growth! Last year, OCN experienced a 2500% growth, with millions of people being reached worldwide! Join us this year as we expand our reach to even more people! During this Lenten season, our Paschal appeal guarantees your contributions go directly to mission, not overhead.

For just 10 cents a day, you can comfort, inspire, and inform people all over the world. Visit myocn.net to learn how you can be a part of the OCN 10 Cent Movement!

That brings another edition of “This Week in Orthodoxy,” to a close. For everyone here in our studios, I’m Emmy Louvaris. Let’s go forth in peace.


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Constantine (Dean) Argiris is a lifelong Orthodox Christian from the…
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