Main News from Orthodox Media from February 17 to 24

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In the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, it was claimed that the Ukrainian authorities are attempting to conceal violations of the rights of believers from the international community. This statement was made in a collective statement by the monks of the Lavra. Recently, Ukraine provided an official response to the inquiries from UN special rapporteurs on issues of freedom of conscience and religion, minority rights, as well as the rights to peaceful assembly and association. The monastery accused the country's authorities of organizing persecution and emphasized that it will continue to fight for its rights.

This week, the Security Service of Ukraine leveled new accusations against Metropolitan Theodosius of Cherkasy, one of the founders of the international human rights organization assisting UOC believers. According to the law enforcement, the hierarch faces up to eight years in prison. During a search at his home, Metropolitan Theodosius suffered a heart attack, according to the diocesan press service.

The Russian Orthodox Church expressed understanding for the difficulties faced by the canonical episcopate, clergy, and believers in Ukraine and prays that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church endures all the trials that have befallen it. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia made this statement at the first general meeting of the clergy of the Moscow Metropolis held this week in the Christ the Savior Cathedral.

The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria decided to begin the removal from the primatial ministry of the acting Patriarchal Exarch of Africa, Bishop Konstantin of Zaraysk. The Alexandrian Church accused him, like the previous exarch of the Russian Church in Africa, of "encroaching on the jurisdiction of the ancient throne." In response to this decision by the Alexandrian Synod, Bishop Konstantin, head of the Russian Church's diocese in Africa, told journalists that he submits only to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia as his vicar and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In the Bulgarian Church, elections are underway for a new Metropolitan of Sliven. The election process involves two stages: first, representatives of parishes vote, and then the Holy Synod makes the final decision, which will be announced on February 25. The previous head of the Sliven diocese, Metropolitan Ioannikiy (Nedelchev), passed away in January at the age of 84. After his death, Metropolitan Ioann of Varna and Veliki Preslav became the locum tenens of the Sliven throne.

Romania is preparing to celebrate the centenary of the Romanian Patriarchate. The country's deputies passed a special law this week to commemorate this date at the national level. In 2025, it will be 140 years since the recognition of the autocephaly of the Romanian Church in April 1885 and 100 years since the recognition of its status as a patriarchate in February 1925. Both the Church and secular institutions, including the parliament, the President's administration, the government, and local authorities, will participate in the celebrations.

In the Kenyan deanery of Kakamega, a plot for the construction of a church was consecrated. A church dedicated to St. George will be built in the village of Bukura. Earlier in the same deanery, two more churches of the Russian Orthodox Church were consecrated: one in honor of the Great Martyr Panteleimon in the village of Ebuyangu, and the other in honor of St. Mary of Egypt in the village of Ramula. Additionally, a church dedicated to the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir will be built in the Vihiga deanery in the village of Kaptende.

An application for the registration of the Russian Orthodox Church in Laos has been submitted. The Russian Embassy filed the application with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the country. A representative of Rossotrudnichestvo told journalists that Laotian authorities generally support this initiative, and over time, a plot of land will be allocated, and a church will be erected. In early February, a home church of the Russian Church was arranged in the capital of Laos, where services will now be regularly held.

Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Antoniy of Volokolamsk, the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, arrived in India. He will participate in the celebrations of the 1950th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Apostle Thomas, observed this year by Indian Christians. He will meet with the Primate of the Malankara Church, Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Mathews III, and hierarchs of the Malankara Church. On Friday, Metropolitan Antoniy spoke at a meeting of the Synod of the Church in India and visited the festivities at the Kottayam Theological Seminary.

The visit of Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi to the Philippines continues. He visited parishes in different provinces, held the annual diocesan clergy assembly, and ordained four priests and deacons. Metropolitan Pavel also visited the construction site of new churches: the icon of the Mother of God "Quick to Hear" on Panglao Island, which began construction last fall, and St. Apostle Thomas on Mindanao Island, which is expected to be completed this year.

In Turkey, the first service for Russian-speaking believers of the Moscow Patriarchate was held on February 20 in Didim. The Divine Liturgy in the Basilica of the Most Holy Theotokos was celebrated by Father Georgiy Sergeyev, responsible for the care of Russian-speaking believers in the Republic of Turkey. Currently, there are three communities on the Aegean coast of Turkey: in Izmir, Kusadasi, and Marmaris, where Russian-speaking believers can gather for worship.

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