Melinda Johnson is the author of Letters to Saint Lydia and The Other Side of the Bonfire, and an avid supporter of the Orthodox writing community. Melinda earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, with minors in Education and Journalism, from the University of Richmond, and a Master of Arts in English Literature from The College of William and Mary. She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest.
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 the stories making headlines this week:
• Ethiopian Orthodox Christians Martyred in Libya.
• Turkey Threatens Hagia Sophia in Response to Pope’s Comments.
• Facebook Forces Clergy to Remove “Father” from Profile Names.
Segment 1: News from Around the Globe
Ethiopian Christians Martyred by ISIS in Libya
First up, the world mourns the death of dozens of Ethiopian Christians at the hands of ISIS in Libya. A newly released video shows two executions, one on a beach where ISIS militants are beheading approximately 15 Christians and the other in a desert where Christians are shot in the head.
ISIS identifies all of these martyrs as “worshippers of the cross” and announced that the “nation of the cross” must convert to Islam, pay the jizya tax, or be killed.
Our hearts and our prayers are with the families of those martyred.
Turkey Threatens Hagia Sophia in Response to Pope’s Comments
Next up, officials in Turkey are threatening to speed up the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. This comes in response to Pope Francis’ recent statement referring to the mass killings of Armenian Christians as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Turkey continues to deny and downplay the genocide, which claimed the lives of approximately 2.4 million ethnic and religious minorities. In response to the Pope’s statement, Professor Mefail Hizli, the country’s top religious leader, mufti of Ankara, wrote: “Frankly, I believe the Pope’s remarks will only accelerate the process for Hagia Sophia to be re-opened for (Islamic) worship.” He added that the Pontiff’s statement was “extremely spectacular” and not well-informed.
Friday, April 24, marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the atrocities against the Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians. Fr. Frederico Lombardi, the Pope’s spokesman, said the Vatican has taken note of the Turkish criticism, and told reporters that the Pope’s message regarding the mass atrocities was: “Let us take stock of history so as to have an appropriate attitude that will allow us to go on ensuring that such acts are not repeated.” He continued by saying: “His message was very clear for those who wanted to embrace it and included a positive reference to his hopes for a reconciliation and dialogue between the Turkish and Armenian people.”
The European Parliament adopted a resolution last week calling the mass killings of Armenian Christians a “genocide,” and has called on Turkey to end a policy of denial.
Facebook Forces Clergy to Remove “Father” from Profile Names
Finally, a petition has been mounted to ask Facebook to stop forcing Orthodox clergy to remove their religious titles from their Facebook profile names. Facebook has begun systematically freezing the accounts of Orthodox clergy and monastics who use words such as “Father” or “Abbot” as part of their names on Facebook, stating that it is enforcing its “Real/Legal Name” policy, which has been part of its terms and conditions for years. The policy includes not just clergy members, but any professional using a pseudonym, such as an author or actor.
The Orthodox community contends that religious titles are part of the “real” name of its clerics and monastics, and that freedom of expression and freedom of religion are at stake in this battle. For more information on this issue and the petition, visit MyOCN.net.
Segment 2. News from OCN
OCN Hero 2015
Who is the most important person in your spiritual life? Who has inspired and helped you on your journey? This month, you have the chance to honor and thank your Orthodox Hero, by nominating them for OCN Hero 2015. Visit MyOCN.net to tell us who your hero is and how this person has influenced you as an Orthodox Christian.
The winner of this year’s award will receive a $500 grant to be donated to the non-profit organization of their choice. Nominations for the 2015 OCN Hero are being taken through May 31st. Make your submission today!
That brings another edition of “This Week in Orthodoxy” to a close. For everyone here in our OCN studios, I’m Emmy Louvaris. Let’s go forth in peace.
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+