This Week: Pope, Patriarchs, Martyrs, and Youth Ministry

This Week: Pope, Patriarchs, Martyrs, and Youth Ministry



February 19th, 2016

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 this week.

  1. Pope Francis Meets Russian Orthodox Patriarch in Cuba
  2. Remembering the 21 Coptic Christian Martyrs
  3. Ecumenical Patriarch Performs Divine Liturgy in Cesme, Turkey
  4. Youth and Young Adult Ministries launches new crowd funding initiative

Pope Francis Meets Russian Orthodox Leader in Cuba

First up, Pope Francis embraced Patriarch Kirill earlier this month, in the first meeting between a pontiff and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Held during a stopover in Cuba before the pope flew on to Mexico, it was a brief but historic encounter.

The  signing of a joint declaration was decades in the making.

Both the Pope and Patriarch declared themselves ready to take all necessary measures to overcome their historical differences, saying “we are not competitors, but brothers.”  They also called for political leaders to act on the single most important issue of shared concern between the Catholic and Orthodox churches today: the plight of Christians in Iraq and Syria who are being killed and driven from their homes by the Islamic State group.

Cuba was a uniquely ideal location for the signing of the declaration as it is a country that is Catholic and familiar to Latin America’s first pope, but equally familiar to the Russian church given its Soviet legacy.  Kirill called the talks “very substantive” and said, “The results make it possible to say that today the two churches can actively work together to protect Christians around the world.”

Remembering the 21 Coptic Christian Martyrs

Next up, on February 15th we remembered the  21 Coptic Christian Martyrs, brutally and publicly slaughtered in Lybia one year ago. This day was not only observed by the Coptic Orthodox Christian Church but by the Pope of Rome on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople on behalf of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches, and other Christian churches worldwide.

His Grace Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, wrote an article regarding the Responsibility to Protect Resolution of the United Nations.

In this article he asked,  that “Everyone remember the brave Coptic Christians that were executed last year in Libya at the hands of terrorists, for no other reason than their faith in  Jesus Christ. Bloodshed in the Middle East has become all too common, and we Americans with our busy lives have become immune to stories of atrocities. Furthermore, many Americans are unaware of the minority Middle Eastern Christians and their plight.”

He continued, “The 21 men executed that day were traveling tradesman, captured without resistance and paraded before cameras. The executioners demanded each man identify his religious allegiance. When given the chance to deny the Christ and possibly live, with a knife held to their throats, each of the brave 20 Coptic Christians declared the name of Jesus, and for that each was executed. They refused to deny their faith in the face of evil.”

One, of the 21 men captured, was from Chad and not a Christian but remained with his co-workers witnessing their dedication to Jesus Christ and with his last words, declared the Lord’s name as his savior.

The faith if these men is an inspiration yet remembering their sacrifice isn’t enough to help the ongoing genocide against Christians in the Middle East.

The faithful of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago adopted a resolution calling on our elected political leaders to officially recognize the Genocide in the Middle East and by doing so they would enact the United Nations Resolution called Responsibility to Protect.

Please join in this effort. To view, share and print the Resolution, visit .

Ecumenical Patriarch Celebrates Divine Liturgy in Cesme, Turkey

And next up, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew celebrated a liturgy at the recently renovated Greek Orthodox church of Saint Charalambos in Krini (Cesme), Turkey, on February 10, 2016.

Joined by the Bishop of Chios  and Bishop of Adrianople, this was the first time a Divine Liturgy had been celebrated in the church, after local authorities issued  necessary licenses.

Numerous believers from the Greek island of Chios traveled to participate in the Divine Liturgy.

The metropolitan church of Saint Charalambos was built in 1832, and has the capacity to hold of 3,000 people. The church has 12 columns made from red marble, separating the aisles, which are dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Stefanos.

In the historical Great Catastrophe of 1922, thousands of women from Cesme, Agia Paraskevi, Kato Panagia and the surrounding villages found refuge in the church, while waiting to board ships. The Church was restored between 2011 and 2014.

Youth and Young Adult Ministries launches new crowd-funding initiative

And Lastly, from NEW YORK – The Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries (Y2AM) has launched a new crowd-funding initiative to help raise money for the further development of much needed youth and young adult ministry resources.  Best known for its weekly video series Be the Bee,,” the Y2AM Team currently produces extensive digital resources including videos, podcasts , blogs, and Scriptural annotations and needs support in continuing their efforts.  Visit  for information on this initiative and how you can help.

And in News from OCN

Spark is the latest downloadable OCN app that allows you to take action!

An Orthodox Christian News Portal, OCN Spark provides information about events going on in the Orthodox Christian World and persecuted Christians everywhere. The App makes it easy to share news and articles with friends and allows you to make prayer requests for those who are suffering. Visit to easily download OCN Spark from itunes.

And on January 17th, OCN’s designated annual Share the Light Sunday took place where parishes across the country spoke to their faith community about the Orthodox Christian Network.  However, January 17th isn’t the only day available to speak about OCN, you can delegate any Sunday that works for your parish and Highlight how we are breaking down communication barriers and building up avenues to connect with Orthodox Christians & seekers worldwide using digital media.

Log on to to access a Checklist of support materials with the many ways you can organize a successful Share the Light Sunday in your community.

And in honor of OCN’s 20th Anniversary, Anonymous Donors have issued a $20,000 matching challenge, where for every dollar you give, $2 will be donated!

Much like public radio & TV, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on support from its viewers, listeners and visitors like you!

Be a part of our growth and sponsor a Share the Light Sunday in your parish or make a contribution today!

And Remember:  You can access the many breaking stories, blogs, podcasts and videos available on the latest topics of interest, on, on Facebook or watch us on our you tube “OCNVideochannel”.

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.



The Orthodox Christian Network  (OCN) offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life.   We also report on news events in the Orthodox Church and produce This Week in Orthodoxy, a weekly news video with stories and issues of interest to Orthodox Christians around the world.

OCN is a commissioned agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. Our mission is to comfort, inspire, and inform Orthodox Christians and seekers around the world using digital media. OCN is not underwritten financially by any one organization, jurisdiction, or individual. Rather, OCN is supported entirely by parish and personal donations. Please remember OCN in your parish’s charitable giving. The Orthodox Christian Network is a 501(c)(3) corporation.


Much like public radio, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on the support of our listeners.  Anonymous donors have issued a $20,000 matching challenge in honor of OCN’s 20th Anniversary! For every $1 you give, $2 will be donated! You can send your gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website.

OCN Spark is here!   Our Spark app is an Orthodox Christian News portal that allows you to take action.  Spark provides daily devotions, live Bible study, and you can read and learn about events going on in the Orthodox Christian world and persecuted Christians.  In addition to making it easy to share news and articles with friends, Spark allows you make prayer requests for those who are suffering.  Click here to download OCN Spark from iTunes.


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About author

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.