Statement Regarding The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre (Local Church Leaders)

I share this declaration of the Heads of the three main Church jurisdictions who are responsible for the management of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher/of the Resurrection in Jerusalem.

They call to act with care and a real sense of responsibility with regard to the pandemic of coronavirus that is more than a threat, but an invisible “on-air” potential killer.

It is an important period of the liturgical cycle that leads to the Feast of Easter and Passkha (Western rites of the Catholics and the Eastern-rite Byzantine and Oriental Orthodox). It is a real hapax in the course of human and spiritual experience. This Saturday of the Vespers of the Sunday of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Great Lent), the communities have served in their allotted places. Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem led the Vespers at 2PM this afternoon.

One thing: again and again, in the course of the decade, the traditional Churches of Jerusalem have to comply (obey) with the rulings and decisions issued by the State of Israel for their own benefit and care. As usual, they do not mention the State in their “statement”. Now for years, they depend on the local Kishleh Police Head Quarters located at Jaffa Gate because of their non-recognition of the State and quarreling with the Israeli government. None of them would either behave in this way with the King of Jordan and the Jordanian government.

The local Churches are local if they confirm their attitudes and morals with the existing legal bodies of the countries where they are. It is a very old “Christian” commandment” expressed by Saint Paul of Tarsus (Romans 13:2). They do not serve in “a country, a place, a city, a town, a village” because the Mystery of the Church is based on the incarnation of the Lord and it has been heralded throughout the centuries by the air of the Holy Spirit and human persons to each place everywhere in the world. Therefore, recognition of who the authorities are is a must, an obligation and a matter of authenticity of faith.

During the Second Intifada, the Israeli Authorities had required that the gas masks should be distributed to all the inhabitants of the country of Israel and/or Arab Palestinian Authority. The Churches did not comply with this ruling. They can not ask for protection – and the State of Israel does protect all the Churches as the Mosques and the Synagogues – and not accept to participate in the reality of the State and its legacy.

May I also take the liberty to say that those foreign press correspondents in Jerusalem or other locations in Israel) have the right to feel compassionate with their home countries, but they cannot give the impression that, since they are locked down in the Old City, they are mainly connected, spiritually, first and mostly with their offshore place of origin. They do witness for the local reality in these days of hardships, i.e. in Jerusalem and not in the Scilly Islands…

May we show that we are humans and humane beings and called to live by the grace of the Lord.

Statement regarding the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Jerusalem, 20 March 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our world is currently experiencing a time of crisis and emergency, whereas many countries and nations are combatting the spread of COVID-19. In many places around the globe, the infection is spreading rapidly and the victims are consistently increasing. The World Health Organization has declared the situation as a global pandemic.
In front of this dangerous situation, governments worldwide mobilized to resist and restrain the spread of this virus. In many places, severe measures were adopted which resulted in restrictions of movement of persons maintaining operative only crucial facilities.
This dangerous situation has not passed over the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem in which all Sons of Abraham Jews, Christians and Muslims are raising their prayers to God Almighty. We are called to live this time in faith and confidence in the Lord’s mercy and His care for all His creatures.
At the same time, we are called to adhere to the instructions of the competent civil authorities enacted to ensure the safety and well-being of the entire population.
Therefore, we the Heads of the Churches in charge of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem urge everyone to abide fully by the provisions for the public health, as they are published from time to time.
The communities living within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre will continue the ordinary life of the Church in conformity with the instructions for the public health. We will be united spiritually in our aim to preserve the centuries’ long tradition of ongoing prayers in the Church even in these sad times when pilgrims cannot reach Jerusalem and local faithful are compelled to remain at their homes.
Accordingly, while maintaining the Church open we urge the worshipers to:
– Refrain from any gatherings of more than 10 people in the same place and at the same time in the Basilica.
– Keep a minimum distance of 2 meters between each person.
– Avoid any act of devotion that might include physical contact such as touching and kissing the stones, touching icons, vestments and the personnel in the Basilica.
– To abide always by the instructions of the authorities.
The Holy Sepulchre is the ultimate place of hope. Hope that faith will defeat doubt, the light will defeat darkness and life will triumph over death. From this Holy Place and in this time of spiritual preparation for Easter and of the global crisis we join our prayers to those of faithful of all religions, asking for the end of this pandemic. We pray for all those afflicted by the virus around the world and express our sympathy and gratitude to those who assist and take care of the victims.

Theophilus III
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem

Francesco Patton
Custos of the Holy Land

Nourhan Manougian
Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem

ילם: Maier Yagod (photo)

מדפו של העיתונאי ניר חסון בפייסבוק. הוא כתב בעברית ככה –

הודעה מיוחדת מצד ראשי העדות הנוצריות המחזיקות את כנסיית הקבר, הפטריאך היווני תיאופילוס השלישי, הקוסטוס הקתולי, פרנצ’סקו פאטון, והפטריארך הארמני נורהאן מנוגיאן :
“הקבר הקדוש הוא המקום האולטימטיבי של התקווה, תקווה שאמונה תביס את הספקות, שהאור יביס את החשיכה ושהחיים ינצחו את המוות”. קוראים למאמינים לציית להוראות משרד הבריאות וכן להימנע מנגיעה או נישוק האבנים, האיקונות או הסמלים בכנסייה. הם נערכים לאירועי הפסחא נטולי מאמינים.
בתמונה שער יפו הנעול אתמול (היום הוא כבר נפתח),



Languages, sounds that make sense and are built in sequences of reasonable and expressive words or phrases, are at the very core of our connection to God and divine things.

In the real world, people would love Jewishness so far they have no price to pay, especially the fundamental “estrangement/Entfremdung” that distinguishes Jews from the Gentiles. This remains a irreductible feature of some indicle mental and spiritual split among all possible creed and beliefs in revelation processes.

I want to point this out and underscore that Jews are not to be Gentiles and that Gentiles are not to be Jews. This makes Jesus’ life an everlasting question that challenges reality, thus: “… that He might reconcile both (Israel and the Gentiles/Nations) to God in one body through the Cross, thereby putting to death the enmity’ (Ephesians 2:14-17sq.).

This makes prophecy at the heart of all monotheistic life and traditions. Either we can show that the world has been united or we are liars. Prophecy introduces all believers to the veracity of their faith.

Language is at the core of human faith or answering to God. Over now more than forty decades, I have been working to define what we could call “Theo-Linguistics” or the specific theological and human/Divine connection that exists in the dynamics of God’s Presence in our societies.

Human beings became “sapiens” with understanding, knowledge, wisdom and capacity to distinguish between things and ideas because they are able to speak. Thus,  they turned to be “loquens” (able to speak). The capacity to utter sounds and words and to articulate them in a meaningful way allowed the humans to say and unveil God. It is a specific prophetic move.

Subsequently,  the “homo loquens” has been placed in the world with the task and the plight to connect with other humans by means of transmission, education as given and shown by the Jewish daily words of the “Shema Israel/שמע ישראל – Hearken, Israel”: “You shall repeat the Unicity of God to your children and you will tell them/discuss/speak of these words, while, sitting, walking on the roads, when lying down and getting up”; The move is thus connected to “living memory”, i.e. “generation to generation”. The Jesuit priest Pierre Theilhard de Chardin has written that articulated language and cognitive speech are a part of heredity by matching the chromosomic heritage to the realm of conscience/consciousness defined as “noospheric” (“nous” = conscience) part to rational brains.

Jesus of Nazareth follows the same generating dynamics of linguistic creation as current in the Jewish tradition. When He says: “I give you a new commandment” (John 13:34), He refers to the basic Jewish blessing: “Blessed are You Lord, Our God King of the Universe/ Who makes new/renews (מחדש / “me’hadesh”) the actions/doings/works of what “was/came first/as at the head (of the process of the visibility of creation). /ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם מחדש מעשי בראשית /”.

This is why “language” does not belong to human beings. We know that languages evolve, speech changes from generation to generation. Still, we hardly accept that speech articulates coherent sounds as a part of our conscience. Language acts as the vector and unique medium to describe the unity of humankind in its relation to God.

Subsequently, phrases, ideas, thoughts and reflection are part of a miracle that has constantly been renewed throughout history, i.e. in the process of a significant generational transmission system.

Please go to your X-ray specialist and get a clear image of your throat. Rav Zalman of Lyadi expressed the matter in his “Tanya-תניא/Teaching”. He underscored the miracle that allows the humans to speak because there is no physiological reason for the humans to have a coherent speech, lexicons and languages.

The oral cavity, the vocal cords, the muscle of the tongue, the palate, the lips, the mouth, the pharynx, the uvula and the lungs combine ex nihilo and without physical reason and create coherent sounds and phrases. This action is so “bizarre” at first that the rabbi considered that it substantiates the Divine Presence and Utterances of the One God, Creator of heaven and Earth. God speaks through the medium of the humans who are enabled to respond to Him.

This refers to the distinction between “stiff” and “on the move” linguistic capacities. It allows to define prophecy in society as a consequence of the fact that all  societies have been granted language abilities.

As defined in the Talmud, “prophecy/נביאות – נביאותא – nevi’ut (Hebrew), nevi’uta (Aramaic)” proceeds from a passive form of a verb “to blaze, burst, blow, inspire”. To begin with, the radical seems to be “ba/בא = to go, come, walk, move, enter, approach”. There is more with the radical “lavah/labbah-libbah (לבה-ליבה )” connected with the notion of “to be bright (lavan/לבן =white, bright (cf. the Transfiguration), to blow ablaze and enkindle”.

The passive form of the word for “prophecy” makes clear that the humans can be “inspired”. Indeed, the passive form underlines that God, and God Alone, is the acting Person. The human beings receive His Presence. They cannot and dare not be in place of God, which appears to be a constant temptation. This is why the passive form is used in the Oriental rites (for example for the Holy Baptism: “the servant of God … is baptized” compared with the Latin form where the priest says “I baptize you…”).

One of the constant temptations of all believers in all religions is to take the place of the divinity. It is quite impossible in the case of monotheism, i.e. when confessing the Only One God, Creator of heaven and Earth. It is totally impossible precisely because of prophecy.

As defined in the Talmudic Treaties Megillah and Baba Kamma -mainly but the matter is of course discussed in other treaties -, “prophecy” bursts out into the brains, minds. Prophecy rushes into space and time at specific “instants”. Prophecy substantiates predictable and expected “divine actions and revealed elements”. On the other hand, it does not mean that these elements can be understood or accepted by the time they pass from hidden to seemingly clear factors.

The spirit of prophecy relies upon the veracity of existing elements that dominate time, history, space, culture, tradition and speech. Prophecy enkindles fires or generates fights and remains  uncontrolled. This is why, for instance, Prophet Jeremiah’s ministry is “unpopular”. The Prophet declared: “I said, I will not memorize and make mention of Him, nor speak anymore of His Name. But His Word was in my heart like a fire/והיה בלבי כאש/vehayah belibbi ke’esh…” (Jeremiah 20:9).

Talmud Baba Kamma VI,4 (59b) states: “If another (third person) came – after one brought the wood and another (one brought) the light – and blew the wood ablaze, he who fanned the flame is responsible”. The scene is comparable to the Transfiguration and the discussion between Jesus and Simon-Peter about the building of three tents.  The disciple, as the prophet, is responsible for a move, a new feature, a new project or inspiration that he feel compelled to materialize and that he still cannot control or understand to the full.

Transfiguration is the typical example for a correct in-depth apprehension of “prophecy”. The scene is a “on-burning flash or fire of total accomplishment”. Thus, it does not close history. It disclose a time of plenitude that is beyond speech.

Prophecy is so bright, radiant and full of light that it overshadows reality and converts, metamorphoses the whole of utterances (speech) and environments (space).

Subsequently, it is interesting to mention the statement of Talmud Sanhedrin 35a: “Although they (= the scribes) record the word of the mouth (= judgements), the heart (= impressiveness of the arguments that led to the judgments), once forgotten, remains forgotten (= they get empty, meaningless)”.

Whether recorded or forgotten, wiped out or retained and maintained, all things are vivid or dead as they participate in God’s brightness. The pretence of the believers has to be overcome: as all the disciples did – both in Judaism and Christianity – there is a moment when the faithful need to flee, run away, sleep and… they would be kilely to drift away from the Word of God.

Things are even more serious with regards to Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God. From before the creation of the world (Pessahim 54a, Nedarim 39b and John 8:58) to past, present and future history, He was born, spoke, suffered, resurrected and lives forever. He also appeared in “flashes” to share both the words and His Body. This is why all prophecies came to fulfillment. Others would can hardly be accepted as such by those who confess their faith in such an achievement. We ought to read the sequence on the “Road in Emmaus”, thus Saint Luke 24: 13-27. The disciples were “thick-minded”, which means that their minds and spirits had been blurred. Walking along with the Lord was the short journey to revelation that got substantiated by the sort of Artoklasis or breaking, sharing of the bread… then disappeared, both the Lord and the portion of the loaf or ailment.

The desperate disciples told Jesus: “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and the people” (v. 19). Jesus replied: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the Prophets have spoken!… And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (v.25-26).

Aramaic “haw ‘harirei râynâ wayeq’rei libbâ/ܚܰܣܺܝܪܰܝ ܪܶܥܝܳܢܳܐ ܘܝܰܩܺܝܪܰܝ ܠܶܒ݁ܳܐ ܐܳܘ ” expresses “the refusal/(self-) prohibition to fathom new concepts and “slow of heart = the impossibility to open up to brightness by enhancing their own burden”. Greek “anoétoi/ἀνόητο” underscores the disciples’ absence of liability to accept a reality that did challenge their conscience.

In this view, it is possible to trace back to the link between “prophecy and speech”. The German-speaking Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote an opus entitled “Der Glaube Christi = The Faith of Christ”. It is a part of his general work “Herrlichkeit/the Glory”. He stated: “The capacity of “speaking” means that human beings (“der Mensch”) are enabled to freely showing and sharing their personal intimacy to the others through the tangible signs of sounds”.

This is why speech and languages aim at creating and constantly renewing things that are clearly stored into the past and continuously sow renewed seeds of life for each generation and the future. The genius of the Semitic tongues consists in focusing on the past and never be fossilized by words. Hans Urs von Balthasar gave another insightful concept: speech and language are transcendent and flash through time and space to a goal that never ends in itself: it designs, intends and purposes endless Life.

It is qui significant to stress, in particular in our generation that witnesses so many forms of spiritual renewals, to consider the language of faith as at the utmost mirroring “the one, holy, Catholic (Kath’olon/καθ’ολον = open to all, totality, pleroma) and Orthodox/ορθοδοξος (true, authentic faith/real Glory) and apostolic/αποστολικος (as the Word reaches out to the ends of the world/universe)”.

This why the language of Liturgy tends to accomplishing and substantiating, inside of the non-religious, secular or secularized/heathen and/or Gentile world, the reality of what has been uttered and promised in words, duly shared in a holy and sacred space.

I was once asked by a Greek priest to teach him some Talmud. His explanation on why he wanted to have some Talmud is pretty much at the heart of the problem of “preferred election”. He could get to the Jews and thought that by the means of the Talmud, he would be able to discuss with them and convince them that only the Greek Gospel could bring him “salvation”.

He was right to think of the Talmud, i.e. the non-closed and unending open corpus of Divine Revelation that unveils and gives correct interpretation of the Hebrew Bible or TaNaCH (Law-Prophets-Writings). He did admit with much honesty that he considered Greek as being the final language of the Good Tidings of Jesus as Messiah and Christos.

Thus, the Jews do not stubbornly reject any Greek Gospel or even the Person of Jesus of Nazareth. Above all, there is a real matter of “theo-linguistic approach”. Can a language replace another tongue for the sake of God’s revelation?

It is a question that deals with “prophecy”.Language allows conscience and awareness of what faith is enabled or not to admit or to proclaim.

It is known that the Song of the passing of the Red Sea in the Book of Exodus (ch. 15) is written in the imperfect tense. Hebrew focuses on the past to overlap all tenses and only target things that will happen in the future. This prophetic aspect is not shown at first in the tongues of the Gentiles. When the Jews translated the Bible into Greek (Septuagint), their translation could only be prophetic because of the existing tradition of the Oral Law that remained in Hebrew and Aramaic. This aspect is usually not taken into account because the Aramaic texts seemingly would not directly concern the Greek New Testament tradition.

Again, Hebrew is the paternal language, the language that carries out God’s speech and Commandments. It is definitely the language that fully includes all the algorithms, i.e.  the set of unambiguous specifications of how to solve a numerous and different layers of features that can lead to discover  the Father, the Son and the Spirit, just as Jesus could explain that to the disciples on the Road in Emmaus.

Hebrew is not national, nationalistic. It is not ethnic, genetic, in-born. It is not a privilege. In his well-known book on the Semitic languages, Ernest Renan stated that “Hebrew is a language with a few letters, but they are letters of fire”. Indeed, it is a language of full prophecy.

Prophecy is galvanized because of the revival of the Hebrew language. It is prophetic at the present because it gathers in Jews from all the Nations (cf. Tobias ch. 13). It reinvigorates Jewishness and the Children of Israel “to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the service of God and the promises”. It should be noted that the verse is linked to the person of the Messiah: “to whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came who is over all, the eternal blessed God. Amen.” (Romans 9:4-5).

This is why the Church hardly can accept the use of Hebrew as a full liturgical and theo-linguistic medium. Its use has been only considered for the conversion of the Jews and the missions to the Jews. The prophetic aspect of the Hebrew speech for the performance of the the Holy Sacraments is hardly envisioned as showing a divine and human passing over to the continuously revealing process of the Church newness.

Interestingly, the translation into Hebrew of the Divine Liturgy, made in 1841 by the former Talmudist V. Levinson for the Jerusalem Russian Ecclesiastical Mission of the then-Synod of Moscow include very Talmudic phrases and expressions, which show how the words of the Liturgy deeply relate to a Semitic substrate. The liturgical texts show the profound imprinting of Jewish prophecy for the Eastern Orthodox Eucharist.

Rejection and mutual exclusion have prevailed throughout the history of the Church and its many jurisdictions. We know that the Russian Church tended to focus on Slavonic an to get astray from Greek, Latin and Hebrew.

We face powerful movements of nationalistic splitting pretence to capture the Word of God. On the other hand, the revival of Hebrew is comparable to a true part of resurrection. The scriptural Hebrew language became a part of the overall universal linguistic heritage of all the Nations, and in it there is “no Jew no Greek (pagan, heathen)” but the utterance of the One Father in the chromatic and life-giving letters . This is why it is not possible to supersede this heritage or to capture it. It universal and beyond all and each nations because as all tongues it uncover Divine and human speech capacities that overshadows all historic past, present and future generations.

Therefore, it underscores the breach that exists as a mental and permanent fence that blurs Jews and Nations in a irrepressible framework that feels drawn to ever-longing oneness. Apparently, “Jewishness” has been disappropriated the way it is possible (not necessarily licit) to explain the Scripture and the Hebrew words outside of the realm of Judaism, mainly because of the Christian Church commentaries. Islam also proceeded in a very similar way since the very beginning of Hijri and the revelation of the Quran and the Hadiths.

It questions the Church in her totality as to give real substance to the unity of all souls and creatures.

The question remains whether “all the house of Israel” (Acts of the Apostles 2:36; cf. 2 Samuel 6:5) is enabled to walk ahead of history with a spirit of reviving prophecy for the Coming of the Messiah in glory (Talmud Sukkot 52a-b, Symbole of Nicaea).

Orthodoxy, Great Lent and Coronavirus

Things can be very difficult in Church life. The Coronavirus epidemy-pandemic disease (at this point it is a pandemic threat and reality) is really going viral. The Hong-Kong Catholic Church and now some Catholic Churches throughout the world, in particular in Italy, Germany… maybe France in the near future required to stop to celebrate the Mass and distribute the Holy Communion inside of the parishes and cathedral where huge crowds use to gather. Individuals may catch the Covid 19 virus that spread very quickly right now though it decreases in China where it started in Wuhan.

On February 23rd, 2020, metropolitan Sergey who heads the Moscow Exarchate in South-Asia based in Singapore asked that molebens (thanksgiving services) be served for the victims of the epidemy in Asia. I had written a long note on this on February 12 last, urging the Orthodox Churches to pray for those who caught the virus, suffer and have to stay at home, isolated. There are places where this becomes a real economic problem. China is going through hell, but also the passengers of some cruiser ships.

We see that the virus attacks all the continents (Australia, New Zealand, Africa where figures are not given for the moment).

The virus entered Northern Makedonia, Greece, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal. This means that it threatens wide segments of different national societies in these countries.

In this period of Great Lent and the upcoming of the Sunday of Atonement (Forgiveness) in the Orthodox Churches, the threat should be handled with much care.

I post here the first announcement made by an Orthodox rector, Fr. Johannes Johansen, who serves in Norway. He is pragmatic and definitely reacts as a Scandinavian? Here is his text in English (footnote in Norwegian [1]) :

“The Coronavirus concerns all of us.

We need to reduce to the minimum the possibilities of being infected and to protect us by ability.

In Church, we shall avoid the contact (Hand-shaking, Kissing the hands, clamp, etc) also refrain from kissing icons and holy objects, but just bow us in the church. We take the opportunity now, as Great Lent starts, to abstain from “Church coffee” after the liturgies. As regards the Holy Communion: we will use a spoon for each person who will communicate, so that it will not be possible to get contaminated by receiving the Holy Gifts.

Along with these practical measures, we will strengthen our spiritual life by making the sign of the cross over ourselves and the children, daily drink holy water and possibly eat a piece of the prosphora (antidoron) that we have received in church, and ask for God’s protection and the saints.”

Note that archimandrite Johannes asked to use a personal spoon (Lzhytsa/Лжица – Lavis – λαβις) which has been in the case in past times of epidemics both in the Orthodox communities and also, for example, in the Vaudois Italian congregations.
There might be different reactions among the Eastern Orthodox. Some may consider that the Holy Gifts cannot harm anybody and that their holiness preserves from any danger of catching the virus. It is evident that the Body and Blood of the Resurrected are the true ailments of our Redemption. On the other hand, all have to act with much insight and be very prudent.
This will also be the task of the heads of the Churches, the Bishops, the priests, the deacons, acolytes who use to participate in the distribution of the Holy Gifts.
The same with regards to kissing the hands of the clergy and kissing the icons. Sanctification is one thing, but, just remember that in many parishes, icons and their “glass” cover or other materials are often cleaned, at times immediately after one person venerated the icon.
Indeed, it can be helpful to drink Holy Water and to eat some pieces of antidoron/a distributed at the Divine Liturgies. This could be managed in a prudent way so that only very few persons could touch the bread.
May we all act with patience and wisdom, true faith and insight and pray for all as Great Lent calls to penance, forgiveness, fraternity, dialogue, and unity.
Prot. Alexander A. Winogradsky-Frenkel
(Patriarchate of Jerusalem, [from Paris] February 28, 2020)
(1) Original on Facebook, on Feb. 28, 2020:

Vi må gjøre smittemulighetene så få og små som mulig og samtidig beskytte oss etter evne.

I kirken skal vi unngå kroppskontakt (håndhilse, kyssehånden, klemme etc) også avstå fra å kysse ikoner og hellige gjenstander, men bare bøye oss i ærbødighet. Vi benytter anledningen nå i den oppstartende fastetiden til å avstå fra “kirkekaffe” etter liturgien. Og angående den hellige nattverden: Vi vil benytte en skje til hver kommunikant, slik at det ikke blir mulig med smitte gjennom dette.

Paralellt med disse praktiske tiltakene skal vi styrke oss åndelig ved å gjøre korsets tegn over oss selv og barna, daglig drikke hellig vann og eventuelt spise en bit av prosforen vi har mottatt i kirken, og be om Guds beskyttelse og de helliges forbønner.

F. Johannes

Angels or beast, abuses/abus re Jean Vanier & Co

SINCE 1987, then coming back to the subject on a regular basis, esp. during his visits to Jerusalem and the total absence of response to my family concern to resolve the question of my heavily handicapped daughter, I had alerted on the personal problems of Jean Vanier. A year ago, a well-known French journalist had dinner at my French domicile and could not understand the “religious” networks around the renowned benefactor. Times will be difficult for some people, just because of ricochet or boomeranging hits. It only starts.
Jean Vanier, le fondateur de l’Arche, accusé d’abus sexuels sur plusieurs femmes

Une enquête interne de l’organisation qui accueille des personnes déficientes mentales révèle le passé coupable de son fondateur canadien, mort en 2019.

Le Monde avec AFP Publié aujourd’hui à 14h08 (my subscription: “…/jean-vanier-le-fondateur-de-l-arch…“)

La stupeur dominait samedi 22 février après que l’Arche, une organisation qui accueille dans le monde entier des personnes ayant une déficience intellectuelle, a dévoilé une enquête interne dans laquelle son fondateur canadien Jean Vanier, mort en 2019, est accusé d’abus sexuels sur plusieurs femmes.

Cette enquête a permis de recueillir les témoignages « sincères et concordants portant sur la période 1970-2005 » de six femmes adultes avec lesquelles Jean Vanier « a initié des relations sexuelles, généralement dans le cadre d’un accompagnement spirituel, et dont certaines ont gardé de profondes blessures », explique l’Arche internationale dans un communiqué. Les investigations, menées par un organisme indépendant, n’ont pas identifié de personnes handicapées parmi les victimes, est-il précisé.

« Ces agissements indiquent une emprise psychologique et spirituelle de Jean Vanier sur ces femmes et soulignent son adhésion à certaines des théories et pratiques déviantes du père Thomas Philippe », ajoute l’Arche. Le dominicain Thomas Philippe, père spirituel de Jean Vanier et figure encombrante de l’Arche, a été soupçonné d’agressions sexuelles sur des femmes.
Lire aussi Mort de Jean Vanier, fondateur de l’Arche, prophète de la « liberté des fous »
« Nous condamnons sans réserve ces agissements »

« Nous sommes bouleversés par ces découvertes et nous condamnons sans réserve ces agissements en totale contradiction avec les valeurs que Jean Vanier revendiquait par ailleurs », ont écrit les responsables de l’Arche Internationale, Stephan Posner et Stacy Cates Carney, dans une lettre adressée aux membres de l’organisation. « Nous voulons dire aussi notre gratitude aux femmes qui, il y a quelques années, ont brisé ce silence au sujet du père Thomas Philippe et ont ainsi aidé d’autres à se libérer d’un fardeau injuste de honte et de peine », ont-ils ajouté, leur demandant « pardon ».

« Cela fait quelques mois que je connais les résultats des enquêtes, et à chaque fois que je les lis à haute voix, je suis abasourdi », confie, ému, Stephan Posner en détaillant les conclusions des experts à plusieurs médias chrétiens, dont La Vie. A ses côtés, Pierre Jacquand, responsable France de l’Arche, ajoute : « L’écart est si vertigineux entre l’homme que j’ai connu et celui que je découvre… je lutte pour accepter, alors même que je sais les faits indiscutables. »

La Conférence des évêques de France a fait part de sa « stupeur » et de sa « douleur » devant ces révélations, assurant de sa « compassion les femmes qui ont été ainsi abusées », ainsi que de sa « détermination à agir pour que la lumière soit faite ». L’Arche, dont le siège international est à Paris, est une fédération d’associations qui anime 154 lieux dans 38 pays où des personnes handicapées mentales vivent – spécificité de ces communautés – avec leurs accompagnants, salariés ou volontaires.

Au fil des ans, des livres et des conférences données à travers le monde, Jean Vanier était devenu une personnalité reconnue, un évangéliste que l’on venait consulter de loin, et qui pouvait converser avec l’écrivain Emmanuel Carrère, la reine Elizabeth ou le pape François. En 2015, il avait reçu à Londres le prestigieux prix Templeton, décerné avant lui à Mère Teresa, au dalaï-lama ou encore à Desmond Tutu.
Jean Vanier en quelques dates

10 septembre 1928 Naissance à Genève (Suisse)

1950 Démission de la marine canadienne

1964 Fondation de L’Arche

2015 Prix Templeton

7 mai 2019 Mort Paris.

The article in LE FIGARO: (my subscription, “…/une-enquete-revele-les-abus-sexue…“.

Here the article published today in the French daily LE FIGARO: “Une enquête révèle les abus sexuels perpétrés par Jean Vanier, le fondateur de l’Arche

Plusieurs témoignages ont poussé l’Arche, une organisation qui accueille dans le monde entier des personnes ayant une déficience intellectuelle, à lancer une enquête interne. Ces investigations ont permis d’identifier six femmes victimes présumées.
Par Caroline Piquet
Les responsables de L’Arche, fédération qui regroupe de nombreuses associations accueillant des adultes handicapés mentaux, se disent «bouleversés». Dans une lettre adressée à l’ensemble des communautés présentes dans 38 pays, Stephan Posner et Stacy Cates Carney révèlent les conclusions d’une enquête menée sur le fondateur de l’Arche, Jean Vanier, décédé l’année dernière à l’âge de 90 ans. Les investigations menées par « un organisme externe et indépendant » démontrent que le Canadien a agressé sexuellement plusieurs femmes, « généralement dans le cadre d’un accompagnement spirituel, et dont certaines ont gardé de profondes blessures », rapporte la fédération dans un communiqué publié ce samedi.

Six témoignages « sincères et concordants » de «femmes victimes présumées» ont permis d’établir les faits sur une période allant de 1970 à 2005. «Ces femmes, sans lien entre elles, rapportent des faits similaires, associés à un discours supposément spirituel ou mystique destiné à les justifier», décrit le communiqué. Le fondateur de L’Arche, aurait, selon les témoignages recueillis par les enquêteurs, usé de formules mystico-religieuses pour parvenir à ses fins : « C’est Jésus qui t’aime à travers moi », aurait-il dit à l’une des six victimes présumées. « Ce n’est pas nous, c’est Marie et Jésus. Tu es choisie, tu es spéciale, c’est un secret », aurait-il lancé à une autre. Sous couvert d’anonymat, une femme a également raconté cette emprise restée longtemps secrète : « L’accompagnement spirituel s’est transformé en toucher sexuel (…) Cela a duré trois ou quatre ans, j’étais figée, j’étais incapable de distinguer ce qui était bien et ce qui était mal. (…) Il m’a dit que cela faisait partie de l’accompagnement. »

Vulnérabilité et charisme

De l’enquête, dont Le Figaro a pu consulter la synthèse, il ressort que les victimes présumées avaient fait part de leur vulnérabilité à Jean Vanier. Parfois à cause d’un passé familial difficile ou bien parce qu’elle était à la recherche d’une figure paternelle. Mais le charisme et l’aura du fondateur de L’Arche les ont souvent empêchées de parler. «J’étais comme figée, je réalisais que Jean Vanier était adoré par des centaines de personnes, comme un Saint vivant, qu’il parlait de son soutien aux victimes d’abus sexuel, ça avait l’air d’un camouflage et j’ai trouvé difficile de soulever la question», témoigne l’une des six victimes présumées.

S’interrogeant sur les pratiques du fondateur de L’Arche, une autre s’était tournée vers le père Thomas Philippe, sans savoir que le même schéma allait se répéter : « Il m’a dit de venir le rencontrer à 22h », a-t-elle confié aux deux auteurs de l’enquête. «J’ai frappé à sa porte. Il y avait un rideau, et il était assis sur le lit. Avant que je puisse commencer à parler de Jean Vanier, ça a commencé avec lui, la même chose qu’avec Jean Vanier».

« Ces agissements indiquent une emprise psychologique et spirituelle de Jean Vanier sur ces femmes »
Les responsables de L’Arche internationale

Restées anonymes, les femmes interrogées au cours de l’enquête ont toutes décrit l’«impact de longue durée et négatif » que ces agissements ont pu avoir sur leur vie personnelle. Certaines se sont fait aider mais sont restées profondément marquées. Notamment parce que Jean Vanier n’a jamais reconnu leur souffrance : « Je (lui) ai écrit pour dire que ce qu’il m’avait fait était intolérable et que ça l’était encore aujourd’hui », a raconté l’une d’elles. « Je voulais m’assurer qu’il lirait cette lettre, alors je lui ai donné en personne. Il l’a lue ; il m’a dit : “Je pensais que c’était bon”. Il ne m’a rien dit d’autre ».

Pour les responsables de L’Arche, « ces agissements indiquent une emprise psychologique et spirituelle de Jean Vanier sur ces femmes et soulignent son adhésion à certaines des théories et pratiques déviantes du père Thomas Philippe ». Ce prêtre dominicain, décédé en 1993, était considéré comme le «père spirituel» de Jean Vanier. Il avait été condamné dans les années 1950 lors d’un procès canonique pour abus sexuels sur deux femmes à l’issue duquel il avait été interdit d’enseigner et d’exercer tout ministère.
«Oui, il nous a menti»

À l’époque, lui aussi avait été accusé de discours faussement mystiques pour convaincre ses victimes d’avoir des rapports sexuels avec lui, malgré son vœu de chasteté. Une enquête canonique menée en 2015 et s’appuyant sur des témoignages reçus un an plus tôt par l’Arche internationale confirmera «ces agissements sexuels» et cette «emprise psychologique et spirituelle» exercée sur plusieurs femmes majeures.

Des pratiques que Jean Vanier connaissait mais dont il n’a jamais révélé l’existence. La question lui avait pourtant été posée en 2015 et 2016, après l’enquête canonique menée sur le père Thomas Philippe, mais ce dernier avait nié. En réalité, «dès les années 1950, et contrairement à ce qu’il a pu nous dire à plusieurs reprises, Jean Vanier était informé», a résumé Stephan Posner de L’Arche, cité par l’hebdomadaire La Vie. «Oui, il nous a menti», a-t-il complété.
Une enquête indépendante

Ce sont deux témoignages adressés à L’Arche en 2016 et 2019 qui vont pousser la fédération à lancer des investigations sur son fondateur. Soucieuse de mener une enquête indépendante, elle s’est tournée vers GCPS consulting qui démarre son travail en avril 2019. Cet organisme indépendant et basé au Royaume-Uni a pour mission d’aider les institutions à améliorer leurs systèmes de prévention et de signalement des abus. Pour retracer la relation entre Jean Vanier et Thomas Philippe, la fédération a également fait appel à l’historien Antoine Mourges, directeur de recherche en Histoire contemporaine à l’Université Paul-Valery à Montpellier III.

En tout, cinq des six femmes ayant témoigné et une trentaine de personnes – anciens responsables et membres de l’Arche, experts – ont été entendus. Plusieurs centaines de documents issus des archives de la Province dominicaine de France et des archives personnelles de Jean Vanier ont permis de consolider cette enquête, qui a été validée par un «comité de Surveillance Indépendant» composé de deux anciens hauts fonctionnaires français. Une fois bouclée, elle a été remise à la Commission indépendante sur les abus sexuels dans l’Église (Ciase).

Nous reconnaissons le courage et la souffrance de ces femmes, et de celles aussi qui, peut-être aujourd’hui encore, resteraient dans le silence.
Les responsables de L’Arche

«Nous sommes bouleversés par ces découvertes et nous condamnons sans réserve ces agissements en totale contradiction avec les valeurs que Jean Vanier revendiquait par ailleurs, incompatibles avec les règles élémentaires de respect et d’intégrité des personnes, et contraires aux principes fondamentaux de nos communautés», ont écrit ce samedi 22 février Stephan Posner et Stacy Cates Carney. «Nous reconnaissons le courage et la souffrance de ces femmes, et de celles aussi qui, peut-être aujourd’hui encore, resteraient dans le silence», ont-ils ajouté.

Conscient du «trouble» et de la «douleur» que peuvent provoquer de telles révélations, L’Arche a rappelé sa détermination à ce que « ses 154 communautés à travers le monde soient des lieux de sécurité et de croissance pour tous ses membres, avec ou sans handicap». La fédération s’est engagée à «entreprendre une évaluation approfondie et indépendante de ses mesures actuelles de prévention des abus et de protection des personnes». Elle a également «mis en place une procédure centralisée au sein de laquelle les «informations ou les signalements reçus sont traités par une commission composée pour partie de personnes extérieures à L’Arche».

Let’s meet fraternally in Philadelphia (Amman, Jordan)

I include here three recent short articles-commentaries” on the general context of the upcoming venue of the representatives of the canonical Orthodox jurisdictions in Amman (Jordan) for a “fraternal meeting” at the invitation of His Beatitude Theophilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, ALll Palestine and Jordan.

HB. Theophilos of Jerusalem addressed the heads of the canonical Orthodox Church with a rather common circular letter. The representatives will be welcomed in Amman (Jordan), will reside in a nice hotel. It will not be a real synaxis but a “fraternal venue” among the leaders of the embattled Orthodox jurisdictions. All the representatives will have the opportunity (il not the obligation) to meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan, a man of power, a ruler, formerly a very good gambler, a man of geo-strategics, Guardian of the Holy Sites of Islam and Christianity in his country as also in Jerusalem (confirmed after long discussions by the State of Israel), The King is deeply involved in inter-religious dialogue and actions. He deposed once HB. Theophilos was about to do it again several times because the patriarchate of Jerusalem is reluctant to consecrate Arab Bishops. I underscored that for the new year 2020 greetings, Patriarch Theophilos was absent. HB. Theophilos works a lot. The question is with whom, where to, in a very embattled context. There won’t be other Patriarchs or bishops in Jerusalem and it is important. On the other hand, the upcoming meeting in Amman will not be a “theological” convention. It is just impossible. It will take place for other reasons: King Abdullah is one of the “key actors” in the “status quo” in the region. He can allot land and properties to Churches. Antioch is not that far and the new Arab Archbishop Christophoros of Amman visited HB. Yuhanan X of Antioch. Then, the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, now fully reunified, re-deploys its “Russian Palestinian” presence and project in the Holy Land, esp. on the Jordan side. Wait and see, and may the Orthodox Churches find the insightful way to drink tea and serve the canonical Hours and Liturgies with patience and wisdom.

English version of the news published in the press: “”

Greek version: “…/89419_gramma-toy-patriarhi-ierosoly…“.


The photograph is just moving. As a matter of fact, Abp. Nektarios, a Greek from South America, a member of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is a nice man and he was consecrated by HH. Bartholomaios. On the other hand, the two others – Met’s Hesychios of Kapitoliadis, second in the Patriarchate & Timotheos of Vostra and Exarch of the Holy Sepulcher in Cyprus – had a long “story” with HH. Bartholomaios who deposed them years ago for having created an eparchy in Australia… Met. Timotheos was 20 years the Secretary-General of the patriarchate of Jerusalem, was convinced he would be elected as patriarch after the repose of late Diodoros… He studied in Russia, is the son of a renowned communist, his real love for Russia led the Patriarchate of Moscow to overweigh his capacities and they supported him beyond the standards. Is he really the one who can “solve” or lead anything? Met. Hesychios is embattled with “recent” Australian affairs. This means that the picture is just St. Valentine show, a feast of the Encounter conversation. HH. Bartholomaios saved them all and the real actors are not on the shot. (picture: Nikos Manginas).

“Fraternal Gathering”? At least, indeed, there is an effort to allow the meeting of the canonical Orthodox Churches in Amman, Jordan on Feb. 25-26 next. The Patriarchs are reluctant to show. Deep in the heritage of the Orthodox traditions, there is true respect for the historical ranks of the early Pentarchy. Georgia is not Romania. It is one of the most ancient Churches and Traditions. It had been kicked out from Jerusalem in the year of the 2000 millennium, precisely by Met. Timotheos of Vostra, then Secretary-General of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. We ought to remember that the Georgian Orthodox tradition developed in Jerusalem with St. Nino. The language, arts, presence in the Holy Land. For quite a long time, the Georgians “preferred” former Patriarch Irenaios though they accepted the election of HB. Theophilos in 2005. The Georgians require the return of their properties. The patriarchate of Jerusalem could not make a decision. Though, for sure, some bishops think it would be normal to return some places. Then, the Russian presence at Amman – that is evident in the context of the Holy Land – is not “attractive” for the Church of Georgia.

Read the link on the refusal of Patriarch Elia of Georgia to attend the meeting in Amman on February 25-27, 2020: “”.

Faith and Utterances 2 – One Ark

Faith And Utterances 2 – One Ark

Archpriest Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel (Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

Could we speak of unique memory and mesmerizing consciousness that has been passed down through the generations from ancient times, from the time when there was a longing for unity?

Such a unity today seems unreal in the world of our generation but remains an idea stored inside of ourselves since its initial creation.

We should be obsessed with reaching, returning to unity, unification, reunion, and reunification in utopian processes, even while reality shows breaches, splits, rejections of souls and dangerous absence of tolerance between nations, citizens, all peoples.

The Jewish calendar in September entered the year 5780, switching the Hebrew decade from the seventies to the eighties. Jewish tradition will reach out to the Nations during the 58th century of their calendar that is based on the Sumerian calculation of ages and times.

In the Hebrew tradition of Gematria–interpretation of the alphabet–the letter “ayin/עין”  symbolizes “Seventy – ע”. It is linked to the concept of the seventy nations that existed by the time of the Tower of Babel. The Jewish calendar just finished a decade of the seventies. Now we are in the new decade of the “Eighties – פ”. The number eighty in Gematria is called the letter “peh”. It is written ” פ ” in Hebrew and ” ܦ ” in Aramaic (Serto chart). In Hebrew, it is connected to the two-consonant radical “Peh/פה = Mouth”.

In Hebrew, “peh” refers to an aperture, an orifice, a hole that is here and/or there, location, compact and precise. It is of course also “mouth,” as the word is most commonly used today, but also because the word opens the possibility of speech (Hullin 142a). The mouth suggests physical and technical capacities to speak and utter sounds. As said: “On can speak in one way through the mouth and in another way through the heart” (Pesachim 113b). The heart is the other place where sounds are expressed by ideas, concepts, meditation, emotional life, mental awareness and reflection, creativity.

The Talmud has more: the opposition between “written things” and those “said by the mouth” as “Written things must not be recited from memory, verbally transmitted words (al peh/על פה) must not be recited from writing” (Gittin 72b ss.). Thus, the Oral Law that obligatorily accompanies the Written Law or texts of the legible Biblical corpus is “Torah shebe’al peh/תורה שבעל פה- שבעל”פ” – the Oral, Verbally uttered, memorized and transmitted, living and life-giving Law” (Ketubot I,6).

It should be noted that the interpretation of the Hebrew word “peh” does not refer to any legal or jurisdictional aspect.

The interpretation, born in Jewish tradition, focuses on an educational, birthing process and body of utterances. It is a corpus, which can refer to the body or a mass, or a collection of words or phrases or writings. The mouth–or its utterances–should be driven to teach how to transmit a vigorous and transgenerational “élan vital,” a vital force of life: “רוק ביתך הפה = the spittle in the mouth is a euphemism for the blood in the orifice of the matrix” (Niddah 16b). The “mouth”, in this sense, depicts either the orifice that shelter the tongue and/or the orifice that allows birthing, both realities being considered as parallel and implement the process of life.

We are in dire times of fractures between people and nations. We can use this time for startups, for new ways of creations and communications, networks, connections, ideas, intuitions, to transmit the love of the other, unity, instead of division.

Oneness is the goal and the dream, against the backdrop of broken flashes of life force split from their source and in search of wholeness, identity.

The wordד oneness “echad/אחד” and “etzem/עצם” comes from the radical word, “sameness”. But obviously, no person can be “the same” as anyone else. In our generation, we can also say that the adjective “same” can describe moral opinion or conduct or immoral behaviors, according to changing ethical views.

Genesis relates to the concept of sameness, oneness.

The first day of creation is not “first” in the Hebrew text. It is the “yom echad/יום אחד” = “Day one”. Not “one day”, not the en-tête, initial day, principal day”. It is a full, plenty, mature and unique day. It is the sole, singled-out day. The singled-out, extraordinary and only day in its plenitude. It is quite amazing that the expression of oneness stands out in the text.

Day One means that there was only one commencement – not a beginning but THAT the work of creation was launched only once. From nil to being, the “at the head of the line” process, as the Hebrew and the Aramaic Onkelos translation (Targum) suggest, there was only one step from the Creator to the shaping of the galaxies. Creation had one specific initial target date that introduces the essence of being, substance, chronology, and history.

The second occurrence of the word “unique”, “special”, “one”, or “single,” relates to the linguistic pre-Flood idyllic situation. The Biblical account states in the first verse of chapter Genesis (11:1):

וַיְהִי כָל-הָאָרֶץ, שָׂפָה אֶחָת, וּדְבָרִים, אֲחָדִים. 1 And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.

This passage deals with “language” and “words, utterances, sayings, spoken objects/subjects that were one, specific and unique, a plural reality. It also suggests unity.

There is no need to focus on “devarim/דברים” that in this case seems to mean “words”. Devarim can also have other implications. But it here refers to audible or legible units of communication, including all words, single or several in a row.

Hebrew defines “word” as being as substantial as a “tool, an object = davar/דבר” is. Before technology allowed us to record a voice, a sound was substantial, but apparently remained immaterial. In the Semitic traditions and reflections, sounds are material, real, physically present and they are stored both in memories and in a cache or storage in our brains, bodies or souls that we can hardly fathom.

The point is that these words are mentioned as being “akhadim/אחדים”. Akhadim means “a few” but is based on the word for “one.” The translations suggest that there was only one speech. True, it deals with speech but also underscores that the words that composed the one language were not only one, but unique in a plural way. This draws our attention to the fact that the “language is a “safah/שפה”, i.e. a tool expressed by the “lips” as in the saying: “His lips should cleave to each other = he must not greet or answer greeting” (Moed Katon 15a). In specific contexts, the mouth should keep closed or, on the contrary, the lips may move because of the need to greet. It refers to greeting as a sign of peace and blessing from High.

The mouth is defined as being the main expressive aperture and the lips are described as binding the sounds together into a coherent set of utterances that can be heard and then understood, or accepted as making sense. The speech was thus unique because of the sounds and the etymology. This readily built a logical, consistent and intelligible discourse that linked the Master of the universe with His creatures and human beings as a particular lineage in the development of His work. It also linked human beings with each other.

A unique language here does not focus on the specificity of human speech. But it was easy to understand the environment as centered on humankind and the mystery of its shaping.

Uniqueness is connected with the exceptional aspect of the Divine Author of life who created all human beings “betzalmo/בצלמו” in God’s image. God shaped the human body with brains, mind, body, soul, mouth, and lips that allow reaching out to “the other” with true dialogue.

It is impossible to trace back the unique sounds of the original speech that once allowed the people to communicate.

Obviously, TV, computers, media, social media and DVD’s did not exist. But the design of a growing set of patterns in the creation and development of communication was already included in the instruments of human capacities.

The technical aspect of speech is usually absent from our reflection. Sounds are produced by a stunning phenomenon. This is due to the structure of or our skeletons, which with muscles and organs and body parts and our brains, gives us the capacity to stand, walk, move, look around, perceive objects and subjects, i.e. our fellow men and women, our fellow humans. Speech is not only related to sounds. Speech is the final process that appears after humans have felt, sensed, smelled, considered a person or something in the environment.

In English, the physical organ called the brain is not just the structure. It perceives, senses, relates, considers things and persons, and can initiate a slow process of caring or drawing closer. First, the neurons take imaging records –a photograph– of an object or individual or environment, analyze the image, decode it, and then dispatch the data very quickly. The brain interprets all the information and selects directions to pass it forward. Speech, language, then, allows verbal communications and general connection with others.

The brain images that can be seen today on brain scanners, MRI/Magnet resonance imaging or CTs, for example, allow us to understand how unspoken thoughts do exist and travel inside our brains and bodies.

Speech and words constitute a part of this neural and sensory box that manages limbs and verbal coherence. The real question is how, when and why sounds started to combine with each other and reached coherent sequences of meanings with precise sense, mutual understanding and a continuous stream of memorizing processes that lead to generational transmission of communications.

A newborn child is, in a sense, speechless. He can cry, shout, weep, make noise, but has not yet a structured vocabulary or ability to make phrases. In literature, the French character Gargantua, the giant who could ride Noah’s Ark in François Rabelais’ novel “Gargantua and Pantagruel” was to be an exception. Just born, Gargantua screamed: “I want to drink, give me to drink! I want to drink wine!”… This was the first book written in French. All the previous works were in Latin beforehand. Of course, it was fantasy or nonsense to have a delirious giant challenge the rules of nature and education.

The French specialist of resilience, psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik, underscored that human desires can change, influence and damage the rules of how humankind goes through processes of education and the slow bringing-up or growing-up experience. We can argue that Giant Gargantua overrode the work of creation, mocked the wickedness that led to the Great Flood. He was absurdly driven by his own power over speech and desires.

In Latin, a new-born baby is an “infans = the one who has no speech”. He or she has no “coherent phonetic order”. Old English “Babeln” (cf. to babble) refers to prattling, uttering words indistinctly, thus talking like a baby. It is the first pedagogical step of all dialogues that grows according to the specificity of local environments. When speech develops, it grows as a process of exclusion–excluding baby talk words and including or mimicking the new sounds–which is the apparent paradox of language.

Language should encourage people to be connected. On the contrary, however, it often becomes a tool of selection and singling-out identity mechanism, breeding alienation, gossip, pain–not unity.

“To babble”, in French “babiller”, Swedish “Babbla” is similar to  Greek: “Barbaros/βάρβαρος = (the one) who is foreign, stranger, does not hear or speak the (common) language”. Just as German “Deutsch = German because using understandable speech” versus Russian “Nemtsy/Немцы = the Germans, i.e. those who are weak and cannot speak an understandable language”.

This feature is also found in Greek “glotta/γλωττα or γλῶσσᾰ (as in “polyglot”), which means a “language, a tongue; a word of mouth, hearsay,” and also “obscure or foreign word”. Animals can organize sounds to communicate but our organ of speech consists of the strange and unique and more complex human capacity to build and echo sounds in a precise manner.

Thus, it is amazing that Indo-European radical “glogh-“ depicts the “thorn, point, which is projected”, i. e. the uvula located at the bottom of the palate. It vibrates and allows the tongue, the air, the breath, and the muscles to utter audible voices – vocals.

Rav Zalman of Lyadi expressed the matter in his “Tanya-תניא/Teaching”. He underscored the miracle that allows humans to speak because they have no physiological reason to have a coherent speech, lexicons, and languages. The oral cavity, the vocal cords, the muscle of the tongue, the palate, the lips, the mouth, the pharynx, the uvula, and the lungs combine ex nihilo to create coherent sounds and phrases, without physical logic.

This action is so “bizarre,” the rabbi argued, that it shows evidence of the substantial dynamics created by the Divine Presence. Our utterances are the utterances of the One and unique God. God speaks through the medium of the humans who are enabled to respond to Him.

The Ark, according to our monotheistic traditions, is the container of all living souls. In the Bible, it says that the “Teivah/תיבה = the ark, the box” (Genesis 6:14) could protect the HUMAN? creatures. The word is also used in Exodus, when Yocheved, the mother of Moses, placed baby Moses in a wicker basket (Teivah) in order to save him from the stormy world (Exodus 2:3). This is why words are considered as a set of alphabetic teivah-teivot – boxes, or containers– whose sounds as consonants and vowels built as a wide lexical treasure with vast ranges of meaning, emotion, experience, and history.

It is our duty to be educated in such a way as to be able to use the right words. Moreover, we create the words and words do create the world. Words shape our minds and plow the fields of our brains and experience. They throw human destiny into times of prophecy.

The oneness and total unity of Divine Presence and communion with the Lord are found in the liturgical developments of the Churches, in particular, the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox rite. This is also similar to the  Jewish Written Tradition that says that the full resurrection of all the bodies and souls that will be created from the origins of the world till its fulfillment will be reinvigorated by the time of the coming of the Messiah (Sukka 62a-b). This underscores the one human identity of one unique generation of humankind.

Just as King David had danced around holding the “Ark of the Covenant” (Teivah), the Tewahedo Ancient Orthodox Church shows the Tabot – from Aramaic Tebuta – where the Messiah rests in his full presence..


The Messiah-Christ died and rose from the dead and the confession of the Only One begotten Son who was born, rested in a cradle, remained silent by the time of the murder of the children in Bethlehem, started to speak and preach and freely went to the full offering of his life. In the end, his words uttered achievement and uniqueness: “When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished (achieved, completed, ready to die, to obey to the full – Aramaic: ho mshalem – ܗܐ ܡܫܠܡ) (John 19:30a).

He “is in our midst”, implies that he is present and does not exclude anyone. He acts and comes in our midst. Comparative liturgy has linked the Tabot to the Antimension in the Byzantine tradition. Both host the Presence of the Word.

The Byzantine tradition has more: the “Kivot/Кивот, from Greek Κιβωτος = Box”. It both refers to Noah’s ark and to the Ark of the Covenant ((Slavic Kovcheg/Ковчег). This is a wooden box or vessel with a glass window where icons are protected and can be seen. The Kivot expresses the veracity of the life-giving Word and the saints who substantiate the sacred bridge overall times and spaces. The icon, as a “sacrament” in the Orthodox theology, allows our eyes and brains to catch the inner light of creation and the energizing struggle for light. It is the miracle of the photographic power of the word recorded as the speechless image of the Presence. The image, the photo is a full speech of unspoken words and ideas by itself. If we could see the work accomplished by our neurons through imaging systems, we could fathom how our dialogue with the Creator and our environment is expressive.

We may consider the intriguing correlation that links “teivah” with “word, box, ark, shelter, cradle, sanctuary, uniqueness and oneness”. This connection perhaps shows more versatility and human pride in our divine services. Could we reach out, attempt to achieve some or full understanding of our words? They evolve and can be duplicated on a limitless basis.

There was a time in the history of the Church before the Gospel–the New Testament or Covenant–was written. We have not retained any experience of this historic reality. Some theologians think that the New Testament as a Scripture – using words and sequences that are supposedly stable and fixed – testify to the faith and the shared experience of the living body of the Church.

The accuracy of the Word relies upon the witness of what we receive from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit (feminine in Hebrew, masculine in Yiddish and Slavic) is not written, not uttered. It is substantial, essential as a part of existence.

This is why, as shown here in different examples, unity – love – divinity – holiness – can never be trapped or kept aside from any society. Even while reality shows breaches, splits, rejections of souls and dangerous absence of tolerance between nations, citizens, all peoples, unity is not only possible, it exists within us. Sounds, words come out of a box that contains all things. The words serve all the living, without exclusion.




Certains se retrouvent, d’autres se cherchent, le Seigneur les trouve !

Quoi de neuf à l’Est ? Les choses  semblent se répéter, rebondir dans un temps que l’on n’aura pas apprécié à sa juste mesure. Il est dur de trouver une mesure qui soit compatible avec une région aussi tribalisée que le Proche-Orient. Un monde restreint, de longs espaces qui grandissent, se vident des âmes vivantes ou, au contraire, commencent à laisser poindre des cultures vives.

Il y a une sorte de silence sur la Russie dans la plupart des media européens ou occidentaux. Le plus souvent, on évoquera des forces obscures, un pays où la liberté a été apparemment démuselée voici trente ans mais qui, aujourd’hui, s’enfoncerait à nouveau dans une tentation de pouvoir, d’esclavagisme des êtres, des libertés sous contrôle. Un espace qui est le plus souvent trop vaste ,trop grand. Trop de superficies qui dépassent l’entendement. Le temps prend une tout autre mesure lorsque l’on a passé le brouillard des Carpathes, de Kosice (Slovaquie) à Ujgorod (Ukraine occidentale), à la frontière d’une Ukraine composite depuis des siècles. A Jitomir, le temps est déjà “à la russe”, à la post-soviétique. On entre dans un temps élastique, long, large.

Ensuite, il y a des mondes, des langages, des dialectes, des prononciations à la villageoise, souvent citadines, des accents dont les tonalités varient sur des milliers de kilomètres, des nations diverses et quasi universalistes. Il s’agit le plus souvent de peuples, de petits groupes disparates qui rassemblent des faisceaux d’une exceptionnelle richesse humaine, géographique. La russéité s’est métissée entre l’Euro-Asie, les paumettes hautes, les jambes très longues ou des carrures rondes, compactes, des cheveux noirs ou blonds, des yeux bleus ou verts. Un kaléidoscope qui unit les Slaves, les Grecs, les Romano-Daces, les Magyars, les Polonais et les Ukrainiens avec les Grands-Russiens ou des Caréliens finno-ougriens qui frayent avec les Nentsy. Plus loin, ce sont les cousins d’expressions turques, le macrocosme caucasien qui paraît surgir du Déluge ou d’ADN’s maillées entre l’Arménie, la Géorgie, la Turquie et le Plateau perse. Et puis la route se poursuit sur l’Asie centrale, l’Islam que les Juifs d’Ouzbekistan, de Kirghizie, de Tadjikistan, de Kazakhstan ont longtemps accompagné avant de revenir au bout de près de 2500 ans à Jérusalem, Holon ou Hadera en Israël, voici seulement trente ans. Ils furent suivis par ces autres Juifs, ukrainiens déportés en Asie centrale durant le seconde guerre mondiale. A longer le fleuve Amour qui serpente vers Chita, la Mongolie, le Sin Kiang, la Mandchourie, la Sibérie tisse sur la longueur les liens frontaliers avec les peuples de Chine, des cultures asiates (Bouriates), le Japon et la Corée. Un monde où les heures sont tellement escarpées qu’il faut presqu’un siècle à l’esprit pour savoir qu’un dossier sera traité à Moscou.

La Fédération de Russie est aujourd’hui amputée d’une large partie de son empire historique. Les quinze républiques socialistes soviétiques se sont disséminées dans des indépendances réelles, fictives, mêlant fierté nationale à des corruptions anciennes et persistantes. Les influences ont changées, les réseaux ont évolués. Il suffit de regarder un carte pour comprendre que le-dit empire demeure dans le tracé périphérique de la présence militaire de l’Otan. Certain parlera de l’affaiblissement de cet OTAN/NATO. Il est question de mort cérébrale tandis que l’organisation enserre le continent russifié sans vraiment le pénétrer.

L’immensité déroute. Elle apaise des populations qui s’acharnent à garder la mémoire des péripéties anti-nazies. Elles furent victorieuses au prix d’un sacrifice qui est naturellement énorme.

Comme en miroir de ce continent gigantesque, Israël est un “olam qatan/עולם קטן = un monde petit, en miniature”. Pourtant, l’immensité s’y exprime dans le temps de la civilisation, des cultures, des idées, des concepts. Ce monde en miniature est innervé par tous les neurones qui forment des milliards de réseaux par toute la terre.

Aujourd’hui, c’est un immense melting-pot, un laboratoire qui brasse les ADN’s et les civilisations. La russéité est immense. Israël serait la deuxième nation russe dans le monde… C’est le président Vladimir Poutine qui l’a affirmé. Dernièrement, les Ukrainiens ont prétendu que c’était la seconde terre ukrainienne du monde, tout cela parce que le numerus clausus pré-révolutionnaire cantonnait les Juifs dans les villes et villages du “Kordon/Кордон”, des marches périphériques de terres en recherche de pureté écologique ou faussement raciale, russes, attachée à la foi orthodoxe de la Sainte Russie ou cosnciences aux infleunces mêlées de tous les courants théologiques ou culturels.

Voici maintenant de nombreuses années, comme j’étais assis à mon habitude dans le petit jardin qui fait face au Mur Occidental du Temple de Jérusalem à regarder les personnes qui passaient, venant du monde entier mais aussi des Arabes du coin, je discutais en hébreu et en russe avec le vendeur de kippot, Géorgien de naissance. Une moniale de la Mission (Délégation) ecclésiastique russe du patriarcat orthodoxe de Moscou s’approcha et me demanda, selon la tradition, de lui donner la bénédiction. Un monsieur l’accompagnait. Il se taisait, un peu à distance. Elle lui servait de guide. Je le saluai. Il ne me répondit pas vraiment. Ils partirent faire le tour de l’esplanade du Mur. Une heure passa et ils revînrent. La moniale m’expliqua quelque chose et le monsieur, à qui je souhaitais un bon séjour, me dit : “Comment se fait-il que vous parliez russe ?” Je lui répondis que le russe est parlé dans le monde entier. Il répliqua : “Ah, bon ?” – Je dis : “Oui, vous le voyez, même à Jérusalem !” Le vendeur géorgien regardait la scène d’un air goguenard tandis que la moniale me disait “au revoir” et que le monsieur regardait alentours.

Le dimanche suivant, dans la partie orthodoxe du sanctuaire du Saint-Sépulcre, je vis ce monsieur à deux mètres de moi. Il avait revêtu les vêtements liturgiques qui correspondaient à son rang épiscopal. Nous avons échangé un long regard.

Il y a des immensités qui s’expriment dans le silence tacite d’une cohabitation inexplicable, imprononçable. Le silence couvre des siècles de fréquentations altérées. Pourtant dans un Lieu aussi compact que le Saint-Sépulcre, les distances cèdent involontairement devant le mystère qui rassemble des siècles de survivance.

Israël, deuxième nation russe du monde ? En l’an 2000, lorsque Boris Yeltsin héla des soldats israéliens parlant russe car venus de l’ex-URSS en leur intimant l’ordre de se plier à ses ordres, j’ai vu deux garçons et une fille de TzaHaL (Armée israélienne) lui répondre crûment qu’ils étaient là pour le protéger, qu’ils étaient désormais chez eux mais qu’ils n’avaient aucun ordre à recevoir d’un homme d’Etat russe en visite (sic). Le président resta coi, à peine bouche bée.

Ces jours-ci, la Fédération de Russie intervient dans le monde entier. Elle n’est pas présente à Berlin alors que les festivités du trentième anniversaire de la chute du Mur de Berlin exultent sotto voce. La Russie est présente dans tout le Proche-Orient. Elle avance ses représentants et ses armées dans une marche vers les Lieux Saints du christianisme et parvient à dialoguer de manière assez paisible avec l’Islam.

A soixante-quinze ans de la fin de la deuxième guerre mondiale, la diabolisation anti-orientale est largement prêchée dans le monde dit occidental. Celui-ci est polymorphe. Parlerait-on d’un monde occidental arabo-musulman ? D’un monde occidental africain ? Que dire de l’Inde ? La fracture sud-américaine a bien montré que l’Evêque de Rome reconsidère les équilibres économiques, politiques, intellectuels et spirituels à partir du monde plus proche de la Patagonie, des Malouines et du Venezuela que de Naples.

Il y a trente ans, le communisme chancelait comme structure politique et mentale dans les Pays de l’Est et tombait comme élément structurel dans l’ex-Union soviétique. Les quinze républiques éclataient, se démembraient, repriorisaient leurs alliances. Des liens historiques s’affirmaient à nouveau vers les familles turcophones, musulmanes. La Fédération de Russie y perçut un effondrement qui aurait mener à une profonde dépression.

C’est l’époque où les principales Eglises orthodoxes ont pu sortir d’un sommeil ancien, de catacombes, de temps de dictatures sanguinaires. C’est aussi un fait : il y a de la démesure dans les chiffres des néo-martyrs des Eglises chrétiennes assassinées dans les territoires soviétiques. On parlera des camps, des Goulags, de l’extermination, des famines. Les victimes – croyantes ou non – se comptent en plus de vingt millions de vies sacrifiées. La lutte pour une liberté aisément asservie continue et continuera comme une damnation que le “monde libre” interprète selon ses règles, ses rites. L’Est ne pourra jamais roquer à l’Ouest du continent euro-asiate.

On assiste partout au renouveau de la foi orthodoxe de tradition slave et russe qui inclut aussi les expressions ukrainiennes, biélorusses, moldaves et roumaines. La tradition russo-slave s’est aussi largement répandue dans les différentes langues d’Europe (allemand, anglais, néerlandais, langues scandinaves, espagnol et autres, sans compter les langues aléoutiennes ou d’Afrique, d’Asie). Celles-ci sont liées au patriarcat orthodoxe russe de Moscou ou bien au patriarcat de Roumanie, voire l’Eglise des Terres tchèque et slovaque ou celle de Pologne.

En 1967, à peine nommé à la tête du département des affaires extérieures du patriarcat de Moscou, le métropolite Cyrille – actuellement patriarche – avait été confronté à la difficulté de confirmer les droits de propriété et l’héritage de son Eglise particulière à travers le monde, notamment à Jérusalem. La révolution de 1917 puis la fin de la première guerre mondiale, les divisions territoriales et idéologiques du monde qui ont suivi la seconde guerre mondiale, les années quasi centenaire d’un régime communisme prétendument athéiste – souvent opportuniste envers la foi – avaient sapé jusqu’aux fondements les plus évidents de ce qui constitue l’Eglise russe orthodoxe

Jusqu’à une époque très récente, elle fut aidée par des groupe “libéraux” d’Occident. Des mouvements protestants comme les baptistes ou encore des catholiques (Aide à l’Eglise en Détresse) ou des communautés ouvertes à la dimension charismatiques qui ne cachaient pas leur désir de ramener une orthodoxie considérée comme délétère vers le pôle central de l’Evêque de Rome. Ce fut l’idée du Saint-Siège dès le début de l’ère communiste. L’Eglise officielle orthodoxe a survécu en Union Soviétique, avec des compromissions diverses entre l’Etat et le clergé, vivant, à l’instar des citoyens et des fidèles dans un esprit où s’affichait une vérité moralisatrice qui masquait des mensonges aux multiples facettes.

Les Eglises catholiques et protestantes ont ainsi sponsorisé de nombreuses communautés en diffusant des Bibles ou en accommodant de vieux textes publiés au 19-ème siècle à leurs nouveautés missionaires . Toutes furent fort surprises lorsqu’elles prirent conscience de l’émergence et de la cohérence de l’Eglise orthodoxe russe dont le territoire canonique s’étend à l’ensemble de l’ancienne Urss.

Il fallut alors à réfléchir sur les communautés de la dispersion, nées avant et lors de la révolution bolchévique. Cette question ne se posait pas pour les Eglises catholiques et protestantes qui n’arrivaient pas à prendre conscience du réveil, d’abord exprimé en douceur, puis de manière de plus en plus dynamique et pressante, de la présence de l’Eglise traditionnelle russe orthodoxe dans le monde entier.

Cela reste une question à peine conscientisée en Occident. Lorsque le future patriarche Cyrille de Moscou arriva à Jérusalem et tomba sur une nouvelle donne en terre israélienne, il comprit immédiatement la difficulté qu’il aurait à réaffirmer une ancienne présence orthodoxe russe en Terre Sainte. Voici deux ans, on célébrait les 170 ans de cette première mission ecclésiastique de Jérusalem – initialement lancée par le Synode de l’Eglise orthodoxe de Moscou puisque le patriarcat ne fut rétabli qu’en 1917. Dans toute la Terre Sainte, il existe des monastères acquis avant le milieu du 19-ème siècle. Les Russes sont fascinés par la Bible (la lecture de l'”Ancien Testament” selon le texte massorétique en russe ne fut autorisée qu’en 1862 et publié en 1876) et l’Evangile qui suit la tradition grecque de la Septante. Très tôt, ils firent des pèlerinages longs, pénibles mais fervents sur les pas de Jésus de Nazareth. L’Empire russe sauva la primauté de la Fraternité grecque-orthodoxe du Saint-Sépulcre lors de la guerre de Crimée (1856).

J’ai connu les jours d’avant le millénaire de la naissance de Jésus (an 2000) à Jérusalem. Les groupes et visiteurs orthodoxes de tradition russe se faisaient vertement rabrouer par un clergé grec habitué à faire face, au Saint-Sépulcre et dans d’autres lieux saints de la région, à toutes sortes d’adversités réelles ou supposées . A peine si les Slaves osaient chanter à voix haute le tropaire de la résurrection !

Les choses ont vite évolué au cours des quinze premières années du 21-ème siècle. L’Eglise Hors-Frontière qui avait vigoureusement soutenu le patriarcat de Jérusalem, se sentit délaissé lorsque le nouveau patriarche Théophilos recentra ses efforts sur la communauté d’expression grecque. Il y eut un temps “béni” où les pèlerins et touristes venaient facilement de Chypre et de Grèce. Puis ce furent les années de difficultés économiques pour ces ressortissants. Il y eut alors les péripéties internes aux Eglises chrétiennes dans l’Etat d’Israël, mais aussi dans les Territoires Palestiniens, tandis que le Roi de Jordanie se montrait de plus en plus exigeant sur l’ouverture du patriarcat orthodoxe au monde de l’arabité.

Cela prit du temps. Les Géorgiens et les Serbes avaient été priés de quitter Jérusalem. Le monastère de la Sainte-Croix (Jérusalem Ouest) hébergea des réfugiés russes et resta sous le contrôle du patriarcat de Jérusalem. Les fresques et objets les plus anciens du patrimoine géorgien furent gravement endommagés en juin 2004, les écrits en géorgien ayant été remplacés par du grec. Les monastères appartenant de longue date à l’Eglise orthodoxe serbe furent placés sous la main-mise du patriarcat grec-orthodoxe.

La Mission ecclesiastique de Jérusalem est un Lieu central dans le redéploiement spirituel de ce qui avait été mis en place au 19-ème siècle, suite à la guerre de Crimée. L’Eglise orthodoxe russe avait crée des écoles, surtout en milieu orthodoxe arabe. L’idée d’une “Palestine russe – Русская Палестина” avait été lancée dès 1845. De 1967 à ce jour, il faut souligner l’extraordinaire revitalisation des communautés d’expression russe, en lien avec Moscou ou des monastères connus de Russie. Une importante diaspora réside maintenant dans tous les continents et assure la présence effective, constamment en évolution, du patriarcat de Moscou.

Lorsqu’apparurent les flots de pèlerins (5000 russes, 3000 ukrainiens par jour à Jérusalem selon les époques de l’année, sans compter les Ouzbeks, Tadjiks, Kazakhs en nombre croissant) – totalement impavides aux dangers de la guerre et des intifadas réelles ou potentielles, les chrétiens locaux – orthodoxes grecs ou arabes – furent effrayés et comprirent difficilement l’enjeu spirituel ou même économique de ces ruées vers les Lieux saints. Il a fallu du temps pour que les réseaux se constituent entre les structures de Bethléem, d’Israël ou de Pétra en Jordanie.

La présence de plus d’un million d’ex-soviétiques d’expression russe, ukrainienne, biélorusse, yiddish et d’origine juive, ayant le droit de revenir en Israël au nom de la Loi du Retour, fut accentuée par la venue de personnes non-juives ou converties à l’orthodoxie et intégrés le plus souvent au pays. Ils sont devenus de fidèles Israéliens.

Pour les chrétiens orthodoxes, le patriarcat de Jérusalem reste une référence, d’autant que le patriarcat de Moscou est foncièrement respectueux du Droit canon. Moscou avait soutenu de manière outrancière la candidature au patriarcat du secrétaire général, fils d’un communiste grec notoire (Métropolite Timothée de Vostra, aujourd’hui représentant du Saint-Sépulcre à Chypre). C’était ignorer le sens de l’hellénisme viscéral de la Fraternité qui a maintenu depuis des siècles la présence chrétienne à Jérusalem. Avec les années, la venue en masse de pèlerins et l’élan des centres spirituels russes sur l’ensemble du patriarcat de Jérusalem contraignent à un dialogue respectueux et délicat avec une hiérarchie grecque qui doit maintenir son équilibre entre les Israéliens, les Arabes palestiniens et les Jordaniens… et le Roi de Jordanie.

C’est à Jérusalem que l’archevêque Marc de Berlin réussit à conclure, en 2007, la réunification de l’Eglise Hors-Frontière avec le patriarcat de Moscou. L’entité russe conservatrice, liée à la Grèce et la Couronne britannique, violemment anti-communiste accepta de rejoindre l’Eglise-Mère. Le scenario sera sans doute publié un jour. L’Eglise Hors-Frontière de Jérusalem, comme l’Eglise locale, avait connu les péripéties les plus invraisemblables (collusion avec les nazis comme avec les communistes en diaspora dans le monde) tandis que les moines, les moniales et le clergé étaient arabe, russe, américain, cubain ou encore de lieux les plus divers, y compris la Belgique pluriculturelle.

La présence et le soutien de l’ambassade et des représentations de la Fédération de Russie constituent un élément essentielle dans le déploiement de la présence spirituelle de l’orthodoxie russe en Israël, dans les Territoires palestiniens et en Jordanie. Les relations avec Israël sont distantes. Elles peuvent être chaleureuses comme celles de personnes qui se rencontrent naturellement, proches par la langue, la formation, un esprit commun. Mais Israël défend son territoire et son identité d’une manière tout aussi “féroce” que ce que font tous les chrétiens de Terre Sainte. Il y a peu de différences entre ce lien privilégié qui unit l’Eglise russe orthodoxe et les organes diplomatiques de la Fédération de Russie et les diverses instances représentatives d’autres pays réputés chrétiens (France, Belgique, Italie, Grande-Bretagne, Espagne, Allemagne, Autriche et autres pays issus du temps des croisades ou du colonialisme).

La Roumanie s’est violemment confrontée au patriarcat de Jérusalem pour avoir construit des lieux d’accueil des pèlerins orthodoxes au bord du Jourdain. La Géorgie vient de nommer pour un second mandat un ambassadeur qui est proche du patriarche Elia. Les rapports sont tendus avec l’Eglise serbe alors qu’Israel a accuelli un nombre non-négligeable de réfugiés suite à la guerre de Sarajevo-Srebenica et beaucoup d’habitants de l’actuelle République de Nord-Macédoine.

Alors, il y a le Mur de Berlin ! Berlin, ville schizophrène pendant plus de quarante ans, ville sous occupation américaine, anglaise, française et soviétique. Et, voici trente ans, voilà qu’il s’affaisse comme un château de sable ? Non. Cela a été préparé. Il y a trente ans, la résurgence des Eglises orientales, orthodoxes ou en communion avec le Siège de Rome, voire les sectes protestantes appartenait à un lubie encore utopique. Pourtant, les choses avaient été dûment anticipées, y compris dans le monde orthodoxe.

Il y a trente ans, les vieilles institutions jouaient les duègnes théologico-spirituelles par des réseaux qui sillonnaient la planète de manière encore clandestine (reprints, manuscrits-samizdats, ondes courtes et autres). A cette heure, serait-ce la guerre ? Chaque structure orthodoxe s’essaie à comprendre la place à laquelle elle a droit, à laquelle elle pense avoir droits et privilèges. Cela signifie qu’on jauge le voisin dans une ambiance irénique ou agressive. L’Orient ne fait pas l’autruche quand il s’agit de faire un clash. On clashe ! Cela peut être violent et puis les choses reviennent lentement à la normale lorsque les enjeux ont été réévalués. Trente ans ! Il faut du temps et de l’espace pour réévaluer.

L’Eglise orthodoxe russe reprend son souffle depuis quelque temps. C’est d’autant plus émouvant que son histoire est tragique. Je le redis volontiers : sa langue, le slavon (qui fascinait Staline par son côté esperanto pan-slave) est une langue fabriquée, un montage subtil au confins de l’ukrainien, du biélorusse et de parlers bulgares qui traduit au mot-à-mot l’original liturgique grec des Ecritures et des nombreux textes de prières.

Contrairement aux autres Eglises slaves qui sont passées aux langues nationales (par ex. le polonais, le bulgare, l’ukrainien, le serbe ou le macédonien), le slavon conserve une unité indubitable sur le plan phonétique, l’harmonie, la concision de l’expression. Pendant des années, le métropolite Cyrille passait volontiers au russe au cours de certaines célébrations difficilement compréhensibles. Plus tard, il resta fidèle à la nécessité de “chanter dans le choeur”, maintenant l’enracinement dans la langue d’Eglise. Une exigence réaliste pour un patriarcat qui connaît des difficultés historiques et synchroniques. Elle a peur d’être à nouveau fragilisée ou attaquée par des opposants qui ne sont pas des fantômes et ont tenté d’abattre tout en louant la beauté de ses traditions.

Il n’est pas surprenant que ce soit un évêque non-russe, Mgr. Jean (Renneteau) de Doubna qui ait “osé” – le mot n’est pas trop fort – précipiter le retour de l’Exarchat-Archevêché des paroisses de tradition russe en Europe occidentale vers l’Eglise-Mère qu’est le patriarcat de Moscou. Le 3 novembre/21 octobre (cal. julien) 2019, la Liturgie célébrée dans la cathédrale du Christ Sauveur à Moscou rassemblait, pour la première fois, depuis le temps de l’émigration, les tendances les plus diverses et désormais unies, cohérentes de l’Eglise orthodoxe russe. On ne peut chipoter sur des pourcentages ou faire des élucubrations chiffrées sur les taux de véritable “communion”.

Ce fut un moment historique, peut-être bien davantage que l’improbable réunification de l’Eglise Hors-Frontière avec le patriarcat de Moscou, en 2007.

Le 3 novembre 2019, dans une ambiance typique des célébrations russes, un ordre certain, une gestuelle choisie, un style mesuré dans un lieu immense, il y eut une ambiance “bon enfant”, directe. Les uns et les autres se connaissaient et se reconnaissaient dans un “chez-soi” qui avait éclaté voici cent ans. Cela tient du miracle.

Ensuite, il faut laisser gloser ceux qui gloussent par nature ou vocation. Qui, comment, pour qui, pour quoi et pourquoi ? Le métropolite Onuphre de Kiev et de toute l’Ukraine ne s’est pas montré pendant la célébration. Plus de cent-vingt représentants de l’Archevêché occidental étaient là, visitant le Kremlin, la Laure Saint-Serge de Radonège, chantaient, s’exprimaient en russe – et dans d’autres langues européennes – dans les media locaux.

Comme si le Mur s’ouvrait, traversait le temps et réunissait des personnes que l’on n’auraient pas imaginé venir ensemble pour retrouver des cousins séparés. Curieusement, comme pour tout ce qui touche la Russie, les media européens restent silencieux et ne perçoivent pas une ouverture, mais une scission. Les orthodoxes occidentaux parlent de “schisme”. Non ! Le Patriarche de Constantinople avait supprimé l’Exarchat-Archidiocèse des paroisses de tradition russe en Europe occidentale. Sans prendre l’avis des personnes concernées. Le clergé et les fidèles s’adressent librement aux structures qui leur paraissent d’assurer au mieux leur vitalité spirituelle. Tous peuvent demeurer au sein de l’Eglise orthodoxe et se juridictions canoniques.

L’Occident chrétien qui traverse des moments difficiles ne perçoit pas l’Orient pour ce qu’il est et sa tâche apostolique. Celle-ci ne s’improvise pas. Elle ne contourne pas la réalité des rangs patriarcaux historiques. La véritable question est celle de la “catholicité” du message.

“Aucune multitude dont chaque membre est isolé et impénétrable ne peut devenir une fraternité. L’union ne peut devenir possible que par devenir une fraternité. L’union ne peut devenir posssible que par l’amour fraternel réciproque de tous les frères séparés” (cf. Jean-Claude Larchet, En suivant les Pères… La vie et l’oeuvre du Père George Florovsky, p. 240. Ed. des Syrtes 2019)

Cette dimension s’exprime en ce moment par une trop grande diversité et désunion. Lorsque j’habitais en Islande dans les années 1970, nous étions trois russophones à Reykjavik. Aujourd’hui, le patriarcat de Moscou y est présent, ainsi que celui de Roumanie et d’Antioche (!), les catholiques sont originaires de toute l’Europe centrale et orientale en sus des luthériens locaux. C’est l’heure de la reprioritsation spirituelle dans le cadre de la mondialisation in vivo.

Le patriarcat de Moscou reprend ses réseaux asiatiques vers la Chine. Il a créé un centre pivot avec l’Exarchat moscovite  du Sud-Est asiatique qui assure un équilibre international par le nouvel Exarchat d’Europe occidentale. L’Eglise Hors-Frontière d’Indonésie vient de rallier cette nouvelle structure basée à Singapour. Dans de nombreuses régions d’Afrique, l’Eglise d’expression slave jouit d’un véritable prestige.

Il n’est pas question ici de l’Eglise russe orthodoxe stricto sensu. Elle prend le risque d’aller trop vite, de manquer des négociations auxquelles elle serait mal préparée.  Ses représentants de par le monde risquent de se coopter selon des critères incertains ou versatiles. L’Eglise russe a le droit de prendre sa pleine mesure et donner le meilleure de ce qu’elle est. Il lui faudra beaucoup de patience, de discernement pour rompre un isolement ou des temps de destruction. Les autres Eglises traversent ces mêmes remises à niveau, avec les mêmes hésitations, tentations et capacités créatives.

L’archevêque Antoine Kharpovitsky qui ouvrit la présence de l’Eglise orthodoxe russe en Terre Sainte l’a exprimé ainsi : “L’existence de l’Eglise ne peut être comparée à rien d’autre sur la terre, car sur la terre il n’y a pas d’unité, mais seulement la séparation. Ce n’est que dans le Ciel qu’il y a quelque chose comme cela. L’Eglise est une existence parfaite, nouvelle, une réalité particulière, unique sur la terre, un unicum, qui ne peut être strictement défini par aucun concept tiré de la vie du monde. L’Eglise est la ressemblance de l’existence de la Sainte Trinité, une ressemblance dans laquelle plusieurs deviennent un.” (Op. cité, p. 242).

Photo: Fr. Igor Kardapolov, priest in Ukraine,

The Edicule of the Holy Sepulcher

Orthodoxie : 55 ans sur le service public français

Sur une durée de 60 minutes, un remarquable panorama des 55 ans de l’émission ORTHODOXIE qui est diffusée depuis 1964 sur les ondes de la deuxième chaîne publique française, actuellement FRANCE 2, dans le cadre des “Chemins de la Foi”. Remarquablement bien conçue et montée par le père Jivko Panev avec Tania Rakhmatova, intelligence du déroulé, depuis la première retransmission de la messe catholique en 1948, puis l’évolution expliquée par Jean-François Colosimo, Mgr Jean de Dubna (ex-Charioupolis, ancien responsable de l’émission à l’appel de Gabriel Matzneff), Constantin Andronikof, Olivier Clément, Mgr Antoine de Souroge, Edouard Laham, Olga Victoroff… L’image prend tout son sens avec le père Nicolas Ozoline, spécialiste de l’iconographie qui met en image la dimension salvifique de l’Orthodoxie plurielle en France. Le propos de Régis Debray sur l’apport, la révélation de l’image en Occident et de la couleur à partir de Byzance reste essentiel. Une émission qui a donné de la chair de resurrection dans des temps d’effroyables persécutions – un devoir public de l’annonce du vivant comme le rappelle la rencontre entre Nikita Struve (YMCA Press) et J.F. Colosimo alors que paraissait en russe et en français l’Archipel du Goulag d’Alexandre Soljénitsyne. Et puis, la fidélité des camps, les “éternelles” interrogations sur foi et langue, ici ou mainteant, là-bas où encore à Syndesmos, le père Lev Gillet et le père Cyrille Argenti, le père Pierre Struve, Mère Thaïs et une finale sur la crypte et la voix off d’Olivier Clément. Le temps de décliner, sur une heure, les huit tons toujours inédits d’une orthodoxie qui se poursuit, en temps opportun dans le cadre d’une laïcité à la française. »

Le lien suivant permet de regarder l’émission jusqu’au 8 novembre 2019 :

Faith & Speech 1 (19.10.31)

Please find attached here two links that allow accessing online the new cycles of chronicles and video-conferences that I start for 2019-20 on the Orthodox site “” based in Paris (France).

The first chronicle in English is “Faith and Utterances 1”:”

These are the daily dates that I use to share every day on my different sites and blogs as they appear on this Sunday night:

יום א’ ראשון וראשי און א שיינעם זונטיק כ”ח דתשרי תש”ף.
Приятного Воскресенья 27-ого\14-ого Октября 2019-7528. Blessed Sunday 27\14 of October 2019-7528 – Safar 29, 1441.
6769, 29, (tishrin qadmaya) ܬܫܪܝܢ ܩܕܡܝܐ

It shows that we are on the first head day (of the week) [Hebrew], a nice Sunday [Yiddish] 28 of Tishri 5780 / a sweet Sunday or Day of the Resurrection 27/14 of October 2019-7528 [Russian] / on the 29th day of the Month Safar of the Year 1441 of the Hijri, i.e. on the 29th day of the first (month) on Tishrin in the Year 6769 after the Assyrian comput.

I daily refer to these traditions. Basically, it allows appreciating times and delays. It means that we are on the move, live on the same planet, in different locations and that we understand the deployment of measurable periods and spaces according to contrasting cultural patterns. They maintain the primacy of a diversified system, among all human beings, in view to approach the quality of living in a special generation. Contemporary existence and continuous streaming that advances ahead of future times.

A year ago, I had started to publish posts in English on this site. These were conceived as chronicles on the connection between the Eastern Christian Orthodox traditions and the way the Jewish traditions could meet at the present. It was just a sort of launch, merely a project. Serving as an Orthodox priest in Israeli society and being born a Jew of Hebrew, Yiddish, multi-faceted backgrounds, I have spent long years of reflecting on the present development of new diachronic and synchronic cultural, mental, social, linguistic and spiritual-theological trends. I continue the reflection with back and forth travels and experiences in Hebrew-, Yiddish, Slavic-speaking environments. (Cont’d online…).

The final video-conference in French on the cycle “Les Portes Royales” et le sens du sacerdoce, du Service Divin, du Sacrement de l’Ordre dans le judaïsme et le christianisme :”

“Nous vous invitons à regarder la 7e conférence du cycle « Les portes royales » donnée par le père Alexandre Winogradsky Frenkel qui présente aussi le thème pour 2019-2020.” (Suite en ligne par le lien).



Haralambos accounts 1

The report had been written first in 2004, i.e. before the deposing of former Patriarch Irenaios of Jerusalem, who at the present is a monk and still resides within the compound of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. There was a switch one year before the election of new Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem who just commemorated the tenth anniversary of his enthronment at the Holy Sepulcher which I had attended.

This new putting online introduces further data to be shared that will slowly lead to an in-depth analyzis of the way things happened in May 2014 for the visit of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios of Constantinople and New Rome, hosted by His Beatitude Theophilos of Jerusalem and All Palestine.

The present development of the situation of the patriarchate of Jerusalem in the countries of Israel, the Palestinian Territories and the Kingdom of Jordan in 2017-19 and the attitude of the Greek Orthodox religious Authorities allow republishing as each year this “diyun/”judgment”, though all accusations fell tacitly down or remained silent, a sign of “special courage or absence of courage” from within the Church at all levels.

Do not think that this passed and that years canceled this. My continuous service of the Church of Jerusalem is developing on other bases that show that there is strong resistance to make any remark on my constant faithfulness to the patriarch and the Holy Synod of Jerusalem. Indeed, I remain in contact with multi-faceted Israeli, Arab, Jordanian and many local jurisdictions. Interestingly, my publications are among the few that support the patriarch of Jerusalem and the Holy and Sacred Synod. A local Church who is the Mother of All the Churches indeed has been maintaining throughout the pathetic tragedies of history. It means that it can overcome all evil and good, just and uncanonical fake and real situations and has to take into account the newness of the local changes in the region and in the world. Jerusalem is also the only patriarch to be in conformity with the traditional canonical requirements of the Local Orthodox Churches. (Updated 19.10.25)


Report written by Archpriest Alexander Winogradsky
Following the protest of Archmandrite Nektarios after Easter 2004
And led to a “Synodal approved” Committee that met only once, on April 29/16th, 2004.
The Committee included : Metropolitan Kornelios of Petra, President of the Ecclesiastical Court, Metropolitan Ambrosios of Neapolis, Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantine, Acting Secretary of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Archimandrite Theophilaktos,
In the presence of Archimandrite Nektarios, Archpriest Alexander.

The present document is Fr. Alexander Winogradsky’s response to the specific issues mentioned at the Committee Meeting as well as his response to the on-going situation in general. It is his hope that this will be transmitted to the members of the Committee. It additionally could be handed over “To Whom It may Concerns” as the facts do relate to Church issues with eventual legal ramifications.


After Easter 2004 [April 11th/March 29th, 2004] around 200 faithful came to the Matins and Divine Liturgy celebrated at the Church of Hieromartyr Haralambos, located at the 8th Station of the Way of the Cross, on Hanqa St. in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was the 4th year in a row that the Great Feast of the Resurrection was celebrated there by the Slavic-Hebrew speaking Community headed by Fr. Alexander Winogradsky.

We did not anticipate such a large number of faithful because of the dire situation in the country. The Service and Liturgy are celebrated during the night and most of the faithful come not from Jerusalem [some are based there] but mostly from the Centre and the South of the country. Moreover, it should be noted that Easter Sunday is a working day in the State of Israel and that local Christian Orthodox Israelis or mixed couples were going to their professional activities early on Sunday morning.

The celebration was conducted in many tongues as is usual in this community, i.e.: Slavonic, Hebrew, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Serbian, Arabic, Greek, English. N.B. : a rather big group of Greek tourists participated in the Liturgy and Fr. Alexander read the Holy Gospel in Greek, many prayers were chanted in that tongue as well. Some litanies were also chanted in Yiddish as it is the mother tongue of many believers.

At the end of the celebration, we went to bless the food [Kulich and Passkha’s and other products such as wine, eggs, etc.] on a side table located at the entrance of the Church. Then the Ukrainian faithful who are numerous on high Feasts and attend the Services on a very regular basis joined and sang many Easter songs in Ukrainian as it is usual in our Community.

Then, we packed up very quickly for the following reasons:
A] The faithful had normally a long way back to their home and all of them were working on that Sunday, with some exceptions who could get a day-off.
B] It was late and Fr. Alexander had to be present at the Holy Sepulchre for the Reading of the Holy Gospel in Hebrew at Noon / 1p.m.] on Sunday.
As we left, we left the regular NIS 50 Shekels, which is the usual offering to Fr. Nektarios as Higumen of the Church. This is the amount that had been discussed for over 2 years and is given for each celebration performed in the Church.


Fr. Alexander and the members of the Community learned rather recently that Fr. Nektarios had strongly protested against them and made some specific declarations accusing them and especially Fr. Alexander directly to Patriarch Ireneos. To be honest, these accusations have been basically the same that have been made over the past 3 years, since the appointment of Fr. Nektarios as Higumen of Saint Haralambos Church and Monastery.

Therefore, we expected to celebrate as normal on Saturday, April 17th, 2004.

Thereafter, Fr. Alexander was told by Archbishop Aristarchos, Secretary-General of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, that Fr. Nektarios would not tolerate that Fr. Alexander would serve in “his” Church anymore. He also told that to the Patriarch. Patriarch Ireneos seemingly accepted the protest made by Fr. Nektarios and issued an order which Archbishop Aristarchos was empowered to tell Fr. Alexander :

A] After one week of “tolerance and patience”, Fr. Nektarios had received the agreement of Patriarch Ireneos to remove all the books, liturgical vestments, and other affairs belonging to Fr. Alexander and the Community. Fr. Alexander should, from then onwards, serve the Services and Divine Liturgies either in the Church of Saint Theodoros headed by Fr. Theophilaktos or in the Church of Saint Nikolaos headed by Fr. Evsebios.

B] Fr. Alexander explained to Archbishop Aristarchos that this project to remove us from the Church of Saint Haralambos was an old one tracing back to the assignment of Fr. Nektarios to this Church. That both Fr. Theophilaktos and Fr. Evsebios claim to be obliged to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning, which evidently would prevent any possibility for our Community to continue to celebrate on a regular and normal basis.

C] That representatives of these faithful had met Patriarch Ireneos who had welcomed them and had understood that Israeli citizen of Christian Orthodox Faith come from various areas of the country, especially youngsters, students, intellectuals, soldiers, mixed couples, Hebrew-speakers and other Jewish tongue speakers [mainly Yiddish]. That the Divine Liturgy is conducted in Hebrew but basically that the most important point is that they comprehend the language and understand what the celebrations mean. Therefore, living tongues are used, taking into consideration who is attending the Liturgy on that particular day. That this multilingual aspect is important for the universality of the Message of Salvation within the framework of the Church of Jerusalem.

D] That the Community, having to face permanent hostility from Fr. Nektarios, has requested to be given an autonomous Church with free access to the Church and to the “restrooms”. The request to have free access to restrooms is made becauses Fr. Nektarios had locked the toilets with chains and would not give access to the Faithful to use them. The Faithful had to then go to the nearby coffee-shops and/or the far located Patriarchate…













The details of why this decision has been made follows:

A] Patriarch Ireneos did not contact Fr. Alexander in order to confirm this order to him personally . Moreover, it was totally impossible for Fr. Alexander to get any appointment with the Patriarch who, by that time, was either absent or busy.

B] That according to the Canonical Laws of the Holy Church, Fr. Alexander, was assigned to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate by a decision taken by the Holy Synod in 1998. This decision has not been altered or revoked and, therefore, he is at present a full member of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

C] That Fr. Alexander has been and continues to develop – without any financial support – a number of spiritual and charity pastoral efforts to Christian Orthodox Believers within Israeli Society that includes visiting the sick, injured, students, mixed families inter alia, and therefore he needs a permanent church. That the Faithful are Israeli citizens. By virtue of his Jewish background and involvement within Israeli society, he would only remove his belongings from the Saint Haralambos Church if Patriarch Ireneos, newly recognised by the State of Israel, orally and personally gives him the order to move to another Church where he could be assured his personal protection to be able to serve the Faithful with decency, honor and without further harassment.


Fr. Nektarios has accused Fr. Alexander of the following:

A] That, at the end of the Easter 2004 Celebration at about 3:00 a.m., the faithfuls present in the Church ate inside the Church and left the Church in full disorder, with crumbs and food lying on the floor and carpets. That the chairs also were left scattered.

B] That the Antimension [Piece of linen showing the burial of Jesus Christ used for the validity of any Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Churches of Byzantine rite] was full of crumbs and particles of the Holy Body of Jesus Christ. Some early reports about these facts this year seem to point out that, according to Fr. Nektarios, Fr. Alexander was “throwing away these particles into the trash”. That Fr. Alexander was pouring the remains of the Holy Gifts either to the trash and/or the sink located next to the table of Preparation of the Holy Gifts, at the end of the Divine Liturgy.

C] That Fr. Alexander was using the same spoon both for putting the incense into incenser and for the Holy Communion.

D] That Fr. Alexander is “too Jewish” and using Jewish prayers during the Services. That he encourages the Faithful to learn Jewish Traditions rather than the Tradition of the Holy Fathers.

E] That Fr. Alexander was allowing the Faithful who had eaten or women on their period to receive the Holy Communion.

F] That Fr. Alexander allowed people to videotape on a camera the Services of Holy Baptism and even the Divine Liturgy.

G] That Fr. Alexander was evidently a Jew since he was personally wearing a “kippah” [skullcap] as well as his parishioners. That he was going to the Western Wall on a regular basis.

H] That Fr. Alexander was using a “Jewish menorah” on the altar [or somewhere!] during the Divine Liturgy, which is not Orthodox but Jewish according to Fr. Nektarios.

I] That Fr. Alexander should have left Saint Haralambos a long time ago and now has to be removed. That the Church was always dirty.


As Fr. Alexander came early in the morning on Saturday 24th of April 2004 to the Church of Saint Haralambos, he found the access doors to the Church locked with chains [picture available]. Interestingly, no member of the compound showed that morning. Most appartments are rented to non-Orthodox families. The first server and the arriving Faithful then made a very strong protest to Archbishop Aristarchos whom they visited with Fr. Alexander. Archbishop Aristarchos confirmed that Patriarch Ireneos had given the order to remove us from Saint Haralambos and to move to either Saint Theodoros or Saint Nikolaos Churches. The Divine Liturgy had already been celebrated that day at Saint Theodoros Church which prevented Fr. Alexander from celebrating there.

The server and believers immediately tried to get into contact with the Patriarch. Fr. Martinianos, Patriarch Ireneos’ Secretary, answered that the Patriarch was busy and could not receive anyone. Then he told us that the Patriarch was absent and would not be seen in the coming days because of his many activities.

The Faithful came back to Saint Haralambos with Fr. Alexander. Fr. Nektarios adamantly refused to talk to the server. Then the server told Fr. Nektarios that he will personally, as well as the other Faithful who are Israeli citizens, call the “Mishtarah” [Police] in order to make a written declaration about Fr. Nektarios’ behavior. Fr. Nektarios immediately ran into his house and called somebody. In the course of five [5] minutes, Fr. Alexander received a call from Archbishop Aristarchos asking him to remain quiet, patient and wise and that a solution should be found with the Patriarch.

About 15 minutes later, Fr. Khrisanthos, Acting Dragomanos [Rosh HaMinzarim] arrived with a young monk and asked Fr. Alexander what was going on. He said that the Patriarch had given an order for Fr. Alexander to leave Saint Haralambos and move to another Church. Fr. Alexander explained to Fr. Khrisanthos that he is most respectful of any order given to him by Patriarch Ireneos. But he pointed out that he personally could not get any audience, appointment or either written or oral confirmation of the order. That upon arriving that morning he found not only no official proof of the order given by the Patriarch, but also chains hanging on the doors. Since Fr. Nektarios seems to constantly complain about him, Fr. Alexander should be entitled to get such a serious and grave order issued by the Head of the Church of Jerusalem, in person, and not from Fr. Nektaros (or any other representative).

Fr. Khrisanthos insisted that Fr. Alexander had to leave for another Church and immediately remove his belongings and liturgical items. But to which Church could they go? No solution seemed to exist. Fr. Khrisanthos called Fr. Evsebios (head of Saint Nikolaos Church) and was told that he definitely will not allow Fr. Alexander to celebrate in “his” Church. After about 15 more minutes, Archbishop Aristarchos called Fr. Alexander and Fr. Khrisanthos to confirm that Fr. Evsebios would make an exception by permitting Fr. Alexander to celebrate that Saturday at Saint Nikolaos.

Fr. Alexander refused to remove his belongings and liturgical items from Saint Haralambos Church. It should be noted that these belongings are still retained by Fr. Nektarios who had already tried to remove them from the Church to its vestibule two years ago. Fr. Khrisanthos then accompanied Fr. Alexander to Saint Nikolaos Church where they were welcomed by “howling”. Fr. Evsebios who insulted Fr. Khrisanthos and told Fr. Alexander not to dare to switch on any electric lamps or take any candles. He reluctantly permitted his liturgical vestments to be used. He clearly said to Fr. Khrisanthos that he would only tolerate this Liturgy once because it was being imposed on him by force. Fr. Khrisanthos responded that it was an order being given by the Patriarch. Fr. Evsebios replied that Fr. Khrisanthos was not the Patriarch.

Fr. Alexander celebrated this Divine Liturgy in order to comply with the ordinance given by the Patriarch but he said to Archbishop Aristarchos that it is not canonical to celebrate under such inhuman and non-spiritual conditions and in the absence of any decency.

Fr. Evsebios had evidently canceled a Liturgy he intended to celebrate. Some monks from some Eastern country arrived but they left immediately as they heard prayers being prayed in Hebrew . Fr. Evsebios monitored every single gesture of Fr. Alexander. At the end of the Liturgy, he urged the faithful to leave quickly and added: “lehitra’ot!” [good bye, see you in Hebrew].


The Community of Fr. Alexander was very upset by the general attitude towards Fr. Alexander and the Christian Orthodox Faithful who are “at home” and are citizens of the State of Israel. They made a clear protest to Archbishop Aristarchos in his official office as Secretary-General of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem because it was totally impossible to contact Patriarch Ireneos or even to arrange an appointment with him.

Fr. Alexander made it clear to Archbishop Aristarchos that he would not leave Jerusalem or the State of Israel which is his home country due to historical and personal family circumstances. It is his country in which he has lived many years. That he has been pursuing his mission with many difficulties while at the same time living in a spirit of full communion and obedience to the local Hierarchy. He also reminded Archbishop Aristarchos that Patriarch Ireneos had confirmed all the blessings that he was given when he was appointed to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. That Patriarch Ireneos had been recently recognized by the Israeli Government. Therefore, it was incumbent for believers who are Israeli citizens to appeal to the State of Israel and explain how this Community has been handled over the years. The concerned Faithful are not restricted to a few small groups that come to the Old City or seem to be Russian. That they are of Former Soviet origin, speak different tongues, work, study, serve in the Army [as Orthodox people] and speak Hebrew. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has a great challenge and task to achieve in the recognition of the Israeli multiconfessional society that includes Orthodox Christianity and Judaism. Finally, Fr. Alexander would be obediently respectful of any decision taken by the Holy Synod and His Beatitude Patriarch Ireneos.

The problem was brought to the attention of the Holy Synod who decided that a “Special Committee” should meet with Fr. Nektarios and Fr. Alexander and clearly state the issues and report thereafter to the Synod who would make a decision. As mentioned above, the Members of the said Committee are: Metropolitan Kornelios of Petra, former Locum Tenens, President of the Ecclesiastical Church; Metropolitan Ambrosios of Neapolis; Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantine, Secretary-General and Archimandrite Theophilaktos.


The “Committee” met thus on Thursday the 28th of April at 9:30 a.m. at the Chief Secretary’s Office. The Archives of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem were brought in order to consult the records of the Synodal meeting which had previously decided the meeting of such a Committee.

Those present were: Metropolitan Kornelios, President of the Ecclesiastical Court; Archbishop Aristarchos, Secretary-General, Archimandrite Theophilaktos, Archimandrite Nektarios, Archpriest Alexander.

It was noted that Metropolitan Ambrosios was absent. Some members suggested waiting for him. Then Metropolitan Kornelios asked Fr. Nektarios to say what he had to declare. Fr. Alexander was told that he understands enough Greek and that anyway, at the end of the meeting, a translation or additional explanation will be provided him, if necessary.

Fr. Nektarios took a sheet of paper and read the accusations formulated against Fr. Alexander as they are stated above in paragraph 2.1.A to 2.1.I. He was not accurate on certain points and, in particular, he said on various occasions “den xero” [I don’t know] as concerned the throwing of the Holy Gifts into the trash or into the sink. He focused again on the spoon used for the incense and the Holy Communion and the fact that the Faithful were bringing food and eating in the Church, that the Church is dirty and not cleaned after the celebration; he also mentioned the videotape recording of Liturgical Services. He was rather hesitant. Then suddenly, Metropolitan Ambrosios came in and sat down. He turned to Fr. Alexander and asked “How long have you been here [at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate”]? Fr. Alexander answered : “Six years”. Then he said: “Who are your Faithful?”. Fr. Alexander answered “Israeli citizens”. Then, all of a sudden, as Fr. Nektarios was about to add some more things, Metropolitan Kornelios said he had to leave and he left with Metropolitan Ambrosios for Jericho. Fr. Nektarios asked: “What should be next?” Metropolitan Kornelios replied: “The Patriarch will decide”. Archbishop Aristarchos intervened to say that Fr. Alexander had not been given the opportunity to make any declaration. Metropolitan Kornelios answered that this could happen at the second meeting of the Committee.

During the meeting, Archbishop Aristarchos had been writing what was said. At the end of the Committee, which had been abruptly interrupted, he told Fr. Alexander that he will translate for him exactly what had been said, later.

Fr. Alexander had not uttered a word during the Committee’s session.


No decision had been taken during the Committee. Fr. Alexander was told that the Members of the Committee mainly rejected the accusations made by Fr. Nektarios. This had been readily expressed during the Committee itself.

Still, Fr. Alexander and the Community had no permanent and stable church. It should be noted that all the “liturgical items” are still at Saint Haralambos Church.

After Saturday’s 04/04/24 celebration at Saint Nikolaos, Fr. Evsebios wrote a series of letters to the Patriarch, violently protesting against Fr. Alexander’s celebrations at Saint Nikolaos Church and stating that he would resign if the Patriarch gives his blessing for Fr. Alexander to serve the Liturgy anew in his Church.

On Saturday 1st of May, 2004, Fr. Alexander still did not know the day before where he was supposed to celebrate. Fr. Evsebios rejected the order of the Patriarch permitting Fr. Alexander to serve in his Church. He then changed his mind several times and finally agreed to open the Church. He said that Fr. Alexander should bring his vestments because he would not provide any. Moreover, he could not use electricity or candles. He checked Fr. Alexander’s every gesture. At the end of the Liturgy, as he had misunderstood, after having shouted at Fr. Alexander that “he was dirty”, he suddenly cheerfully said “Shalom, shalom!”


After all these events, the pressure was brought by Fr. Alexander’s Community at different official entities and at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in the person of Archbishop Aristarchos who insisted that there be a peaceful resolution to the pending issue.

Archbishop Aristarchos was very willing to have a second meeting of the Committee in order to hear what Fr. Alexander would say to Fr. Nektarios’ accusations. There was a basic agreement about that; it is in fact a simple matter of justice.

Archbishop Aristarchos called Fr. Alexander on May 5th to tell him that the meeting should take place at about 11 a.m. in his Office. Fr. Alexander passed by Metropolitan Kornelios’ office in order to ask when the Committee should meet. Fr. Nektarios was present at his side in his capacity as assistant to the Ecclesiastical Court. Metropolitan Kornelios said it should meet after the Court will finish its audiences.

Archbishop Aristarchos called Fr. Alexander at 12:30 to tell that the Committee should meet at 1p.m. In fact, as Fr. Nektarios and Fr. Alexander were waiting in the vestibule, Metropolitan Kornelios arrived and had a very long, one hour, talk with the Archbishop. Thereafter he left. Archbishop Aristarchos came out and told the priests they could leave and that there would not be any more Committee session

It should be noted that Metropolitan Ambrosios and Archimandrite Theophilaktos had not been present at the Meeting.


In such a serious spiritual and ecclesiastical context, Fr. Alexander Winogradsky considers it his duty to respond adequately to the grave accusations stated by Fr. Nektarios against him. These accusations have been a long-developing process over the past two and a half years.
He will recount the basic accusations as stated in Paragraph 2.1.a to 2.1.I. then review the facts for more clarity.

Some relevant background information follows: When he was assigned to Saint Haralambos Church some 2 and a half years ago, Fr. Nektarios had on a Saturday once placed the chains to bar the access of Fr. Alexander and the Community to the Church of Saint Haralambos. The Faithful strongly protested his personal hostility. At that time, the Patriarch gave the order to Fr. Nektarios to immediately open the Church, which he did reluctantly. He then required money for the payment of his electricity expenses [NIS 900!]. A few months later, Fr. Nektarios, suffering from a strong crisis of asthma left for Greece and was replaced incidentally by Fr. Evsebios who likewise wanted to cancel any celebration by Fr. Alexander. He also left for Greece after he failed in his projects, taking with him the access keys. All the keys had then to be changed.

Thus, in the present situation, it should be considered why Fr. Nektarios who has always contested Fr. Alexander’s legitimacy and the Community dared put anew the chains on the doors of Saint Haralambos Church. He seemingly got the assurance that Fr. Alexander had to leave for a new Church. Though he had pressed for months, no one would believe that the chains put on the doors are part of the “order given by Patriarch Ireneos”. On the other hand, for a member of the Ecclesiastical Court of the Church of Jerusalem, this action constitutes a grave infringement to clerical and simple Christian rules of decency.

As concerns the Points of his accusations against Fr. Alexander:

A] That, at the end of the Easter 2004 Celebration at about 3:00 a.m., the Faithful present in the Church began eating inside the Church and left the Church in full disorder, with crumbs and food lying on the floor and carpets. That the chairs were also left scattered.

This is inexact and moreover basically impossible. As mentioned the Faithful came from different regions of Israel, especially the Centre and the South and some outskirts of Jerusalem. Their present-day life is difficult. They have little spare time and most of them had to go to work early in the morning as it was a normal workday in the State of Israel where they had just had days-off for the Jewish Feast of Passover [Pessah].

They brought food into the Church because this is a current and obvious tradition in the Slavic Orthodox Church, especially on Easter Eve when different cakes and eggs and other products are blessed by the priest at the end of the Liturgy.

The Greek believers who were present could have witnessed that all this was done accordingly and with decency. Reader Alik, who protested openly many times against Fr.
Nektarios’ attitudes, came this Easter 2004 to the Feast from Haifa and was the last person to leave the Church with Fr. Alexander and his sister. They can witness that there was no food left in the Church and that the chairs had been put into good order.

Now, it should be noted that in the past 5 years, food has always been brought into the Church on various liturgical occasions. This is a normal Moldavian tradition to wave a table covered with plenty of fruit, wine, loaves of bread, eggs, oil, and other products and to sing “Eternal Memory” at the same time. It does not mean that people are “eating” in the Church.

There has always been a “trapeza” after the Divine Liturgy at Saint Haralambos. It should be noted that from the very beginning, Fr. Nektarios has decided not to give to Fr. Alexander access to the Church, but only to the “vestibule”, which is dark, dirty, not convenient and without heating. Fr. Alexander had once even celebrated a Memorial Service [Pannikhida] for a newly departed (as the son had come to have the Service). Fr. Nektarios had refused to give them access to the Church and, subsequently, the Memorial Service was conducted without incense, not inside the Church, i.e. not according to the Church Canons. This person wrote a protest and lives in the South where there is no Orthodox Church.

B] That the Antimension [Piece of linen showing the burial of Jesus Christ used for the validity of any Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Churches of Byzantine rite] was full of crumbs or particles of the Holy Body of Jesus Christ. Some early reports about these facts this year seem to point out that, according to Fr. Nektarios, Fr. Alexander was “throwing away these particles into the trash”. That Fr. Alexander was pouring the remnants of the Holy Gifts either into the trash and/or the sink located next to the table of the Preparation of the Holy Gifts, at the end of the Divine Liturgy.

As the Members of the Committee stated, it may happen in any Church that the priest leaves some small crumbs of the Holy Gifts on the Antimension. It is at times difficult to check and remove them all. But in that particular case, there are different implications and problems raised by such an accusation:

A] Fr. Alexander is always assisted by at least 2 servers who help him. This is also for the servers an educational training to get deeper into the Mystery of the Divine Liturgy. They do assist to the moment when Fr. Alexander puts the Holy Particles into the Cup just after the celebration.

As a matter of fact, Fr. Alexander has duly noticed the presence of the Particles in the Antimension but also on the diskos [patena] and often on the Table of the Preparation of the Holy Gifts. He served at Saint Haralambos only on Saturdays and had noticed that other priests [does not know who] had served during the week. Why only accuse him and not others?

Fr. Alexander was not given the right to respond orally to the accusations pronounced against him by Fr. Nektarios. He would have said that the accusation of leaving the Holy Gifts on the earth and throwing them into the trash is a gravest accusation that should really be proven and not declared quietly by a Member of the Ecclesiastical Court of the Mother of All the Churches. It attacks the essence of Fr. Alexander’s Holy Priesthood [as well as his integrity as a professor of Comparative Liturgies!].

Moreover, as Fr. Nektarios’ constant accusation is that Fr. Alexander is a Jew [and maybe not even a canonical priest…], this accusation constitutes a very serious infringement of the Canonical and Israeli Laws.

Regarding Canonical Laws: The assumption is that Fr. Alexander would profane the Holy Body and Most Precious Blood of The Risen Lord Jesus Christ and therefore be “only” a Jew.
Regarding Israeli Laws: The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem is located at present in different countries, but the most holy sites are since 1967 located in the State of Israel. This primarily concerns the Holy Sepulchre where the Patriarch is elected and whose election is confirmed by the Israeli Government. It is evident that such accusations would have been handled in another way in Jordan or the Emirates. But we are in the State of Israel where the problem of “Antisemitism” has been much discussed regarding the Churches. In Fr. Nektarios saying that Fr. Alexander would throw the Holy Gifts into the sink because he is not a Christian but a Jew, Fr. Nektarios thereby shows strong antisemitic feelings towards Jews that are very strictly condemned by the Israeli Law. Why does he assume that a Jew would want to desecrate such a central element of the Christian Faith unless he was vehemently an antisemite?

Therefore, Fr. Alexander would rather consider than he has not heard this type of recurrent accusations in Fr. Nektarios’ mouth. An accusation that would affect the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and its Head. Fr. Alexander would furthermore consider that as the Canons state: “There is no sin as long as the person is not conscious of having committed a sin”. Therefore, it would be more useful to show compassion and forgiveness than to quarrel. Nonetheless, the Community as Israeli citizens is totally entitled to carry forward whatever legal actions are in accordance with the Israeli Laws and Regulations.

C] That Fr. Alexander was using the same spoon both for putting the incense into censer and for the Holy Communion.

Fr. Alexander always used his own vessels for the Divine Liturgy. It seems that Fr. Nektarios would have rejected the idea of using them as he stated many times, in the presence of the Faithful, that “all that [Fr. Alexander’s Liturgy] – is not canonical”. Therefore Fr. Alexander had brought a lot of his own vessels. He used many spoons. It should be noted that the first part of this accusation is not new in Fr. Nektarios’ accusations. He had declared the same to the Patriarch two years ago. I had at that time responded that I use different spoons for the Communion and had one spoon, very similar to those used for the Communion in order to collect the incense and put it into the censer. Now, this was in reference to the Book of Leviticus 16:12-13 about the Sacrifice of Incense. The same in Isaiah 6:7. Following the previous incident which happened 2 years ago, Fr. Alexander only uses simple spoons for the incense as Fr. Nektarios knows perfectly well since he provided the spoons! Fr. Alexander and the Community wonder, on the other hand, if he has ever read the Old Testament and the sources of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy.

As concerns whether Fr. Alexander would communicate with a censer spoon, this deals with the above statement about “antisemitism” and pre-supposed profanation of the Holy Gifts.

D] That Fr. Alexander is “too Jewish” and using Jewish prayers during the Services and encourages the learning of the Jewish Traditions rather than the Tradition of the Holy Fathers.

This accusation is also “ancient”. Fr. Nektarios told it to Patriarch Ireneos two years ago. At that time, the Patriarch’s answer was that many Jewish prayers, especially the Psalms but also the canticles are common to Christianity and Judaism.

As to being a Jew, it is a fact that Fr. Alexander is a Jew and remains a Jew within the Church which ingathers in Christ, One Body [the Jews and the Gentiles as stated in the Epistle to the Ephesians 2:14-16]. There is more. Fr. Alexander has served in various countries where he had no reason to ever mention his Jewish background. But in our situation, the Christian Orthodox who have come to Israel and are Israeli citizens are totally assimilated into the Jewish Society. They speak Hebrew at work and their children are totally Israeli and certainly know more about Judaism through school and their commitments than about Orthodox Christianity. And the link between Judaism and Orthodoxy is evident. What does it mean to be “too Jewish” if it can only help people to connect various traditions and to pave the way to mutual acceptance and recognition.

Fr. Nektarios could also be accused of “antisemitism” in this case.

E] That Fr. Alexander was allowing the Faithful who had eaten or women on their period to receive the Holy Communion

There is a canonical rule which should be respected – respected as well by Fr. Nektarios -who does not speak Russian nor proper Hebrew. What a person says during their confession remains a secret in the same way as the priest is not entitled to say anything about what a person has confessed. Secret remains secret. Therefore, the only comment Fr. Alexander can make is that it is not healthy for the Former Soviet Union Faithful living in a non-Orthodox society and who suffered a lot of persecution from the communist system to be denounced and even betrayed by a priest who knows nothing about Soviet culture and Jewish Israeli absorption problems.

F] That Fr. Alexander allowed people to videotape on a camera the Services of Holy Baptism and even the Divine Liturgy.

This accusation is interesting. Everywhere, especially at the Holy Sepulchre, people go and make use of their cameras and video cameras. In that particular case, when people record a baptism or even a part of the Divine Liturgy in Hebrew, for example, they do ask for Fr. Alexander’s permission. Fr. Alexander usually asks that not much be recorded. But it is very important to record in this country because most churches are always closed. They do not live in an Orthodox Christian context and society. They do know that they are recording unique events in the life of their families. They can share that with their relatives who live in other conditions. These techniques provide a spiritually educational system of great importance.

G] That Fr. Alexander was evidently a Jew since he was personally wearing a “kippah” [skullcap] as well as his parishioners. That he was going to the Western Wall on a regular basis.
This is a long-term still developing idea or even “fancy”. It is meaningful and shows that Fr. Nektarios considers Fr. Alexander not to be a true Christian Orthodox priest but “only a Jew” and therefore a potential “traitor to Jesus Christ”. Patriarch Ireneos had answered him two years ago that it is normal for Jews to enter a church with a skullcap. But, what is really interesting, from a psychological point of view, is that it never happened! And Fr. Alexander does not wear any “kippah” as he rather wears the “skufia” or the “Greek kamilavka”.

As concerns the Western Wall, Fr. Alexander goes to the Jewish Quarter where there are many Christian Orthodox among different groups. He never goes to the Western Wall for a simple reason ignored by Fr. Nektarios: he has too many things in his pockets to pass the checkpoints and it would last too long! On the other hand, the first Christians were “going to the Temple daily”. This Wall is a memorial of what Christian should confess: That Jesus and the Disciples were going there and it is a place where the Mystery of Redemption should be seriously considered.

Fr. Alexander has also noticed that he was usually denounced about his presence there “by very pious Orthodox Christian Faithful” who were themselves in that place!

The same accusation of “Antisemitism” would be applicable.

H] That Fr. Alexander was using a “Jewish menorah” on the altar [or somewhere!] during the Divine Liturgy, which is not Orthodox but Jewish according to Fr. Nektarios.

Two years ago, Patriarch Ireneos had replied to Fr. Nektarios that the Candelabra or in Hebrew Menorah was normally present in every Orthodox Christian Church and “trapeza”. This shows that Fr. Nektarios has certainly not read the Bible and the fundamentals of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, deeply rooted in the Biblical and Jewish Tradition. The presence of the Candelabra on the altar is traditionally linked to the Book of Apocalypsis [1:12-20]. Curiously enough, after having heard the Patriarch’s explanation, Fr. Nektarios brought a big candelabra into the altar that he showed each time the Patriarch came! Yet he denied Fr. Alexander’s right to use it!

I] That Fr. Alexander should have left Saint Haralambos for quite a long time ago and that now, he had to be removed. That the Church was always dirty.

Dirt is another issue that should be linked to the “Antisemitic” issue. Before the assignment of Fr. Nektarios to Saint Haralambos, the Faithful used to sit and women cleaned with much care all the vessels. Also, some men cleaned the altar. Since his appointment onwards, the Faithful have felt that they were not welcomed “passers-by” and not “at home”.
This is a very important problem that should be taken into consideration. If people are considered as foreigners in their own place, they will not help. They will then consider that the higumen has the task to clean and maintain order. Or on the other hand, they will be given their church, to which they can have access, feel entrusted and take great care of.

For months, Fr. Nektarios has neglected to clean the church and the altar. The Community can show evidence of the fact that Fr. Nektarios has in 2004 removed the dirty covers and carpets from the altar before the celebration with Patriarch Ireneos and then put them back WITH THE SAME DIRT! after the celebration! [2 pictures with dates].

Moreover, since “dirt” has been a permanent “antisemitic accusation” this can also indicate some potential problems with Fr. Nektarios’ attitude.


This report aims at giving a balanced, non-judgemental response to Fr. Nektarios’ accusations against Fr. Alexander.

It should be regretted that Fr. Alexander was not given his right to respond orally. But, on the other hand, as mentioned in this report, this allows him to pave the way with more equanimity and understanding than to develop any spirit of quarrelsomeness or judgement.

The accusations are very grave. Fr. Alexander has sought to act with his mission at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in a spirit of forgiveness, tolerance and patience.

It should be considered that his Community may be entitled to react in a different way. It is certain that the presence of Israeli Hebrew Christians Orthodox constitutes an “hapax” and also a positive challenge for all the Churches and also the Church of Jerusalem, beyond any political views or commitments. There are many challenges dealing with issues of IDENTITY, and PERSONAL SPIRITUAL RESEARCH and it is high time to pay serious attention to these Faithful who are no longer Russian or Soviet. They are Israelis and are a part of the Jewish Israeli Society and State.

Some would continue to encourage the older generation to consider themselves as “Russians and Orthodox Christians”. But we press for the emergence of a new entity that has been recognized by many other denominations and should also be taken into account by the Church of Jerusalem as the Mother of All Churches.

The Community is also entitled to appeal to the Laws in force in the State of Israel which recognized Patriarch Ireneos. They will not harm the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate as well as Fr. Alexander never did. But they will require righteousness. It would have been so simple to entrust a church permanently to Fr. Alexander and to his Community and avoid any kind of unnecessary tribulations.

The spiritual benefit of the Faithful living in such difficult conditions is of greater significance than any false accusations.

Christ is in our midst, He is and will be. Amen!

Protopresbyter Alexander Winogradsky
June 3th/May 21th, 2004, Feast of Saints Constantine and Helena Equal to the Apostles