Thursday, May 27, 2021

Video: Eastern Christianity in Syria and Palestine and European Cultural Diplomacy (1860-1948)


19 May 2021 | A Christian ‘Oriental question’ or an ‘Orient belonging only to Easterners’? 

In this webinar, the panelists will discuss European cultural diplomacy in Ottoman and Mandate Syria and Palestine, how it impacted the cultural identification of indigenous Christians, and the variety of Christian Arab agendas towards such policies, relying predominantly on unpublished sources. They will present some of the conceptual and archival challenges, and link the study of the micro-scale level of everyday cultural and religious life to the macro-narratives of global change affecting Christian communities, in a connected perspective.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Jad Ganem: Before it's too late!

 Arabic original here.

Before It's Too Late!

On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of Patriarch Bartholomew's elevation to the See of Constantinople this year, the association of Archons in North America have launched a new organization named "The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation for the Sacred See of Saint Andrew."

The task of this foundation is " to grant economic independence to the Ecumenical Patriarchate so that it may fulfill its apostolic mission in perpetuity."

The activity of this organization will not be limited to North America, but rather, according to its founders, will extend to all dioceses of the Patriarchate of Constantinople throughout the world. This is because "the time has come for Orthodox Christians around the world to come together and ensure that the voice of the Apostolic Throne of Andrew never goes silent and the Spiritual Center of our Faith is able to lead Christ’s Holy Church for generations to come."

The foundation, which works under the supervision of the Metropolitan of North America for the Patriarchate of Constantinople, who is a statutory member of its board of directors, and was launched with around six million USD in capital, will undertake:

- to continuously provide financial resources to religious, educational and charitable institutions belonging to the mother church;

- to provide the necessary support to the Patriarchate of Constantinople in order to strengthen its presence in all regions of the world and increase its opportunities for dialogue with various global religious leaders, without any hinderance due to financial limitations;

- to support the Patriarchate of Constantinople with the necessary financial assistance in order for it to be able to hold international conferences and gatherings of different groups and in order to strengthen the unity of the Orthodox Church in all regions of the world;

- to provide moral and financial support to the Patriarch of Constantinople in his capacity as representative of the Orthodox faithful around the world, so that he will be able to lead charitable activities and help those in need.

This initiative not only indicates the scope of the vitality of the Archons in North America and the scope of their commitment to supporting the Patriarchate of Constantinople, advocating for its causes, and providing it with the necessary means to fulfill its role in today's world; it also gives the impression that a new phase has begin that requires activating this patriarchate's role and strengthening its capabilities for confronting the challenges that it faces and for serving the projects that it has in store.

It remains that the dioceses of the diaspora which depend on local churches that are subject to existential chalenges, among them the dioceses of the Chuch of Antioch, need to undertake similar initiatives in order to provide the church in the homeland with the ability to have an active witness and mission and to confront the existential challenges that are affecting her members and institutions, so that the connection to the mother church does not remain merely sentimental without any active expression.

Or is it not strange that no Antiochian association has emerged in the diaspora over the past decade, despite all the challenges endured by the faithful in the homeland? Does this fact not deserve to be examined and its causes studied before it's too late?

Lora Gerd: Russia and the Melkites of Syria: Attempts at Reconverting into Orthodoxy in the 1850s and 1860s

The most interesting takeaway from this article is the degree to which the ethnically-Greek clergy in the Middle East were opposed to receiving Melkite Catholics who wanted to return to Orthodoxy as it would've endangered their xenocratic control.



Having entered into union with Rome in the 18th century, the Melkite Arab community of Syria preserved their Eastern rites and traditions. The attempts at Latinization in the mid-19th century brought a split in the community and provoked a diplomatic effort by Russia to bring the Melkites back to Eastern Orthodoxy. The raise of Arab nationalism in the 1850-s and traditions of church independence created a fertile soil for separatism. The relative weakness and inconsistency of Russian support, and especially a lack of material resources and strong diplomatic pressure from France, resulted in most of the newly converted Melkites returning to Rome by the early 1860-s. The article argues that Russian church policy in 19th century Middle East, strongly bounded by the limits of Orthodox canon law was largely ineffective. The Melkite affair was the last attempt to integrate the Arab Christians in the traditional system of the “Greek” Patriarchates. Thereafter Russian diplomacy took the course of Arabizing the Patriarchate of Antioch. The episode did, however, contribute to the elaboration of a new Vatican policy towards the Eastern Catholics: respect for their rites and traditions.


Read and download the entire open-access article here.