Wednesday, April 22, 2015


NEW YORK – The Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, that convened for its regularly scheduled Spring meeting, Apr. 20-22, issued the following statement regarding recent tragic events in North Africa and the Middle East.

STATEMENTby the Holy Eparchial Synodof the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Americaon Recent Tragic Events in North Africa and the Middle East

Every day we learn of people’s suffering throughout the world and it is easy to become desensitized to the pain and affliction caused in various circumstances and in manifold contexts:

Hundreds of migrants have just drowned in the Mediterranean as they innocently sought shelter, even as others exploited their vulnerability.

Thousands have been massacred in Syria, Yemen and throughout many nations of the Middle East as power and greed turn a blind eye to blameless civilians seeking to survive or escape.

Untold numbers are unknown victims of sectarianism, discrimination and exclusion both in their own countries like Nigeria and Zimbabwe or in neighboring regions like Libya and South Africa.  Such conflict and bloodshed is not restricted to the Middle East and Africa but also wreaks havoc in Europe, with hostilities in Ukraine.

Before such ongoing horrific acts of brutality, wrought by brother against brother throughout the world, we will not remain silent, but raise our voices in solidarity and prayer. As Saint Paul reminds us, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor. 12.26).

Therefore, we express our concern and compassion for the situation of Christians in Egypt and Northern Africa as well as in Iraq, Syria and the entire Middle East. We express our support for their right to remain and flourish in their homelands. And we condemn every form of oppression and violence against all human beings, irrespective of racial origin, ethnic background or religious conviction.

We are appalled by the discrimination and brutality against people of every religion, but especially against Christians kidnapped and indiscriminately slaughtered. We recall with profound sorrow the disappearance two years ago, during this very period after the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection, of the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi (brother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch) and the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo, Syria, who were kidnapped by Islamist militants during a joint philanthropic mission in the region.  We continue to pray for their safe return among us.  

Moreover, we profoundly grieve over the very recent loss of the Ethiopian and Coptic Christians callously beheaded by Islamic extremists in Libya. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has always welcomed our Ethiopian and Coptic brethren in our communities throughout this country. We share in their loss and mourning at such unjustifiable events. May God’s mercy serve as balm for their wounds and bring healing to their communities.

We urge the faithful of our Archdiocese and all people of good will to keep our suffering brothers and sisters in their prayer. And “may the Lord of peace give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you” (2 Thess 3.16).

Thursday, April 9, 2015

“In the radiance and glory of this Holy Pascha we find the meaning of life as it was created to be.  We see our goal, our purpose, our completion and our eternity.  Our hope for the journey of life is strengthened. Our understanding of life, of others, of the world, and of all creation is changed in the truth and certainty of the Resurrection.  Fear is vanquished, the threat of death is annihilated, and the weakness of sin is exposed in the enduring light of our Lord’s holiness and glory,” writes Archbishop Demetrios, spiritual leader of 1.5 million Greek Orthodox Christians in America in his Paschal Encyclical.

Orthodox Pascha is celebrated this Sunday, April 12, 2015, one week after the celebration of the Western Easter. The Orthodox date for Easter is based on a decree of the Council of Nicaea, Asia Minor, held in 325 A.D.  According to this decree, Easter must be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox but always after the Hebrew Passover to maintain the Biblical sequence of events of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The Orthodox Christian churches have adhered strictly to this formula through the centuries.