Peter Anderson reports from the Orthodox world.

Longstanding reporter of the news from the Eastern Church, Peter Anderson shares our dream or a unified Christianity. His love for Orthodoxy has driven him to this personal mission to share the news of East with the world through his email list. The Urbi et Orbi Foundation is proud to share his efforts and his insights with you.

Protopresbyter Boris Bobrinskoy died on August 6, 2020, at the age of 95. http://www.spc.rs/eng/eminent_theologian_father_boris_bobrinskoy_passed_away He was one of the most prominent Orthodox theologians of the West and served for many years as a dean and professor at the Saint-Serge Institute of Orthodox Theology in Paris. https://orthodoxwiki.org/Boris_Bobrinskoy He had retired to the Monastery of Notre-Dame de Toute-Protection in Bussy-en-Othe, France and his funeral occurred there today. You can watch videos of all of today’s liturgy at the Monastery and the burial through the following Facebook site. https://www.facebook.com/lettreVicariat/.

The Monastery to which Father Boris retired has remained in the Ecumenical Patriarchate under the new Vicariate of Sainte-Marie de Paris and Saint-Alexis d’Ugine and has not joined the Moscow Patriarchate under Metropolitan Jean of Dubna. http://www.monastere-bussy.org/ In spite of this, the Moscow Patriarchate has joined in honoring Father Boris. With the blessing of Metropolitan Jean, a funeral liturgy was held at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris on August 8. http://www.archeveche.eu/spip.php?article2594; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdutcZEoKgY (video of entire service). The Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe (Moscow Patriarchate) has referred to Father Boris as “one of the great theologians of the Orthodox world.” Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk has sent a beautiful letter of condolences on the death of Father Boris. https://mospat.ru/ru/2020/08/09/news185821/ So has Patriarch Daniel of Romania. https://basilica.ro/en/patriarch-daniel-sends-condolences-after-repose-of-fr-boris-bobrinskoy-eminent-professor-of-theology-and-shepherd-of-souls/ A photocopy of the letter of condolences from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew can be seen at https://orthodoxie.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Message_de_condoleances.pdf . Personally, I find it encouraging that the differences between Moscow and Constantinople can be surmounted in honoring this great theologian.

Father Boris has also been honored by the Catholic world. For example, the following is a very nice tribute relating to his death from the faculty of theology at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), from which he received an honorary degree in 2000. https://www3.unifr.ch/orthodoxia/de/news/news/23733/die-theologische-fakultt-trauert-um-ihren-ehrendoktor-p-boris-bobrinskoy-6-august-2020?

In spite of differences with respect to Ukraine, the Patriarchs of Antioch and Constantinople are maintaining a good relationship with each other. As previously reported, Patriarch John of Antioch sent a very supportive letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch expressing dismay at Turkey’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque. https://orthodoxtimes.com/patriarch-of-antioch-to-the-ecumenical-patriarch-we-stand-by-you-dear-brother/ On August 7, the Ecumenical Patriarch telephoned Patriarch John concerning the tragedy in Beirut. According to the press release by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Patriarch John was very moved by the expression of support. https://orthodoxtimes.com/phone-call-by-ecumenical-patriarch-and-patriarch-of-antioch/ The Ecumenical Patriarch has also written to Patriarch Daniel of Romania thanking him for his letter relating to Hagia Sophia. This was reported on the website of the Romanian Patriarchate. https://basilica.ro/en/ecumenical-patriarch-thanks-patriarch-of-romania-for-solidarity-over-hagia-sophia-issue-the-church-of-gods-wisdom-belongs-to-all-humanity/ According to one newspaper report, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem will visit the Phanar on September 1. https://www.ekirikas.com/omogeneia_ekklisia_ameriki/arthro/sto_oikoumeniko_patriarxeio_tha_metabei_o_arxiepiskopos_elpidoforos-675173/

It is very possible, in my opinion, that there is a growing sense of resignation that the religious status quo in Ukraine will not significantly change in the near future. Although the primates may have differing views on the actions taken by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Ukraine, some of the primates may now believe that these differences do not justify destroying the personal relationships that previously existed.

On July 30, 2020, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has appointed Father Nikolai Gennadevich Dubinin, OFM Conv., as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow. http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2020/07/30/0399/00905.html This attracted special attention as Father Nikolai will be the first ethnic Russian to serve as a Catholic bishop in the Russian Federation. His detailed biography can be read at https://cathmos.ru/naznachen-vspomogatelnyj-episkop-arhieparhii-bozhiej-materi-v-moskve/. Aside from his assignments in Russia, he has also spent a number of years as a Franciscan both in Poland and Italy. A short 3-minute video with brief scenes from his life can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-uHXMTefLc&fbclid=IwAR11fkHIgCI_yFn2Hsi9xGBqL1VMH3UJtOmYCMvkbXW8-B7CoHaVXMgR100 .

Father Nikolai was born in Novoshakhtinsk, a Russian city near the border of Eastern Ukraine, and graduated from high school there in 1990. There is no Catholic parish in that city. Later in 1990 he enrolled in the philological department of Rostov State University. In 1993 he entered the Catholic seminary which had just opened that year in Moscow. What happened between 1990 and 1993 which caused an ethic Russian to enter a Catholic seminary? Although you will not find the answer on the Internet, there are indications that the key event was a trip to Czestochowa in 1991 for World Youth Day. You may recall that several thousand Russian youth took advantage of a free trip to Czestochowa in August 1991 for this event. Some went just for the trip, but others were touched spiritually by the experience. I believe that Nikolai was in the latter group.

There are many historical events which link the Black Madonna at Czestochowa with the lands of ancient Rus. For example, the “Joint Message to the Polish and Russian Peoples,” signed by the Moscow Patriarchate and the Polish Catholic bishops in August 2012, came about as a result of a visit to Czestochowa in September 2009 by a group of Russian Orthodox monks from the Nilo-Stolobensky Monastery, near Ostashkov, Russia. My personal interest in Orthodoxy began with a trip that I made to Czestochowa in 1978. A chronology describing the role of the Czestochowa icon of the Mother of God as a link between Catholics and Orthodox can be read at http://jasnagora.com/wydarzenie-1723.

In other news, the Romanian Patriarchate has posted an interesting study that Romanians are the largest Orthodox group in Western Europe. https://basilica.ro/en/most-of-the-orthodox-in-the-west-are-romanian-romania-ranks-3rd-in-the-world-in-terms-of-orthodox-population/ The study also shows that Italy has the largest number of Orthodox in any Catholic country – 2.2 million – more than the total number of Orthodox faithful in the US and Canada. The Pew Research Center has done a very interesting survey on the importance of the belief in God in various countries of the world. https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/07/20/the-global-god-divide/ Surveyed countries with the highest percentages are Indonesia, the Philippines, and Kenya. Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s commission on family affairs, has spoken out against artificial contraception. http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=15794 This was the prevailing view of the Orthodox Church generally some time ago (such as pre-1946), but that is no longer the case. In Ukraine, the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) has announced that it is closing its investigation of former president Poroshenko with respect to the cancellation of the registration of the UOC-KP. Contrary to the claims by Poroshenko, the SBI maintains that it was never investigating the role of Poroshenko in the granting of the tomos. https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/678192.html Metropolitan Hilarion has expressed surprise at the failure of the famous Trinity-Sergius Lavra to observe basic anti-Covid measures during the celebration of the feast day of St. Sergius. http://www.blagovest-info.ru/index.php?ss=2&s=3&id=89505 A lawyer supporting the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro has enumerated his concerns relating to the compromise proposal made by the government of Montenegro. https://mitropolija.com/2020/07/23/advokat-velibor-markovic-o-propalim-pregovorima-s-vladinim-ekspertima-o-zakonu-o-slobodi-vjeroispovijesti/

Anderson, Seattle USA