BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's top Christian cleric has urged President Michel Aoun to set up a reconciliation meeting with Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri to form a cabinet and end the country's political deadlock.  --   The country's fractious politicians have been unable to agree on a new administration since the last one quit in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion, leaving Lebanon rudderless as it sinks deeper into economic crisis.
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Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa has lauded His Majesty King Abdullah II's "strong and loud" voice, which is a guarantee of preserving the status quo in Jerusalem, especially with regard to the holy sites, in light of "conflicts in the historical  city."

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MINSK, 12 January (BelTA) - Metropolitan Filaret, Honorary Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, has passed away, BelTA learned .--- Holder of the Hero of Belarus title, prominent Orthodox Church figure, Honorary Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, Filaret (secular name Kirill Vakhromeev) was born in Moscow on 21 March 1935. He began his church service in 1954 and started out as a sub-deacon of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.
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For the occasion of Christmas, new year and Epiphany, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem gathered via Zoom yesterday morning, 11 January, to greet and wish well for each other, as Patriarch Theophilos III shared his hopes for a global relief from the current pandemic.

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 On Monday, January 11, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa met with the priests of the Latin Patriarchate through video conferencing technology. This has been the first meeting of His Beatitude Patriarch Pizzaballa with a group of priests working in Jordan since he assumed patriarchal authority from His Holiness Pope Francis last October.

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More or less, the Russian Patriarch stated that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a punishment from God to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for granting the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

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The Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church releases a message to mark the New Year, noting that as we leave a year in which we were forced to reduce social contact, we must enter the new one prioritising building human relationships.
 
Lebanon’s leading Catholic churchman is again urging the country’s political leaders to "overcome the logic of partisan interests" and form a government of "truly independent specialists with a national conscience" to rescue the nation from “a total collapse”.
 

Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Turns 88

The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II turns 88 on January 4. Ilia II was elected Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia on December 23, 1977. The 43rd anniversary of the enthronement of Ilia II, officially styled as Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Archbishop of Mtskheta-Tbilisi, Metropolitan of Bichvinta and Tskhum-Abkhazia, was marked on December 25, 2020. 
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The pandemic, the young people, the situation within the Orthodox Churches, the “thorn” of Ukraine, the relations with the Moscow Patriarchate and the 30th anniversary of his election as the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch are the main topics of the landmark interview with historical extensions given to “Vima tis Kyriakis” by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. ... read more
 
Russian riot police have stormed a monastery to detain a rebel monk who has castigated the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox church leadership and denied the existence of the coronavirus.  -  In the overnight showdown, police clashed with the priest’s supporters at the Sredneuralsk monastery in the Ural mountains. -  The monk, Father Sergiy, was quickly flown to Moscow. Authorities charged him with inciting suicidal actions through sermons in which he urged believers to “die for Russia”. He denied the accusations.

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In an interview with the newspaper “Politis,” Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus spoke about the crisis within the Orthodox Church regarding the issue of the Autocephaly of Orthodox Church of Ukraine. --  The Archbishop of Cyprus stated that his election as Archbishop in 2006 was the reason for the attitude of the Metropolitans of Kykkos and of Limassol towards the Ukrainian autocephaly issue, even showing, as he comments, “belated interest.”
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Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq is vital to encourage Christians to stay in the country as their numbers are dwindling rapidly, the head of Iraq’s Catholic Church said on Thursday.
 
By Devin Watkins
 
It is reminded that Patriarch Irinej of Serbia fell asleep in the Lord after losing battle with COVID-19 on Friday, November 20, 2020, at 7:07 a.m.
 
ROME – Iraq’s Sunni Muslim President Barham Salih attended a Christmas Eve Mass Thursday, telling faithful the country’s government not only should make every effort to defend Christians and help them return, but to clamp down on extremist violence and root out government corruption.  Speaking from St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Baghdad Dec. 24, Salih said the government “must make serious efforts to enable Iraqi Christians to return, and to live a secure and dignified life in their homeland.” ... read more
 
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The head of the Chaldean Catholic church condemned Iraqi state corruption on Thursday, and said Iraq has not done enough for the country’s Christiancommunity in the aftermath of persecution by the Islamic State (ISIS).  
“Iraq is a rich country,” the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans told Rudaw’s Hawraz Gulpi on Thursday, but “corruption has spread to every single part of the state.”

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“The Religions and challenges of the new decade” was the topic of the 2nd International Conference on Religious Diplomacy, which was co-organized by the Theological School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens with the assistance of the Institute of Foreign Affairs.

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Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem attended this morning, 9 December, the monthly meeting of Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem via Zoom, to discuss various matters including the Christmas message for the year 2020.
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CAIRO: The Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt has suspended Sunday schools, meetings and mass services for a month to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Within the past 24 hours, five priests of the Coptic church have died after being infected with the virus.

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Pope Francis will visit Iraq March 5-8, 2021, the Press Office of the Holy See announced today. The Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Card. Louis Rapahel Sako stated: “Through his prophetic charisma the Pope is like a new Ezekiel coming to announce a Resurrection, that there will be a rebirth”

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By Vatican News staff writer
 
The Korean Catholic Church is marking a year-long celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, the first native Catholic priest of Korea, who was martyred in the 19th century. Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik explains what the celebrations mean for the Korean Catholics.

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If the Holy Family had a hard time finding an inn to stay in when Jesus was about to be born, it is the inns of Bethlehem themselves that are having the difficulty this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life in the Holy Land so much that tourism and religious pilgrimage there are practically non-existent.

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Orthodox Paris Peace Treaty & other news


(Peter Anderson)Today, December 4, an agreement was signed by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and Metropolitan John of Doubna (who is president of “l’Union directrice diocésaine des associations orthodoxes russes en Europe occidentale” and who also is a hierarch of the Moscow Patriarchate) aimed “to guarantee a future in peace and harmony for the various communities” of their respective organizations.  The full text of the joint press release setting forth the
 
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR PROMOTING
CHRISTIAN UNITY
 
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Ecumenism, that is, the search for Christian unity is, for, "a duty and an obligation" every bishop and in order to "encourage, assist and guide" the Catholic bishops, a document titled "The Bishop and Christian Unity: Ecumenical Vademecum" of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity was released today.  --  Born from a request made by the members and consultors of the Dicastery during the 2016 plenary, the Vademecum was approved by Pope Francis who expressed the hope that it will serve as "encouragement and guide" to the exercise of the ecumenical responsibilities of the bishops.    read more
 
Bkerké (Agenzia Fides) - The Maronite Bishops "take note" of the political initiative announced by President Michel Aoun to take budgetary control measures to combat corruption in Lebanese public institutions. At the same time, they underline the urgency of voting on such measures in parliament and swiftly enacting the legal provisions required to implement anti-corruption measures.   --   The Maronite Bishops launched their appeal at the end of their monthly meeting on Wednesday December 2nd in Bkerké, under the direction of Patriarch Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï. --  Recently an audit (evaluation procedure) on the functioning and accounting transparency of the Bank of Lebanon, entrusted to Alvarez & Marsal was hampered  ... read more
 
We are all involved in the construction  of a better world
Pope Francis, in presenting to the world the new Encyclical Letter Fratelli tutti sulla fraternità e l'amicizia sociale, Sunday 4 October 2020, said: , " I offered it to God on the tomb of Saint Francis, who inspired me [to write] it, as in the previous Laudato si’. The signs of the times clearly show that human fraternity and care of creation form the sole way towards integral development and peace, already indicated by the Popes Saints John XXIIIPaul VI and John Paul II."

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