Main Orthodox Media News from May 18 to 25

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The Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God, believed to have been painted by the Apostle Luke, has been brought to Moscow from St. Petersburg. The icon is placed in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, where it will remain from May 22 to 26. Patriarch Kirill led a service to welcome the icon and emphasized in his sermon how the Church has transformed over the past 20 years, uniting and educating people in the Orthodox faith.

Ukrainian MPs from the "European Solidarity" and "Holos" factions demanded the prohibition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC). On May 22, they blocked the parliamentary podium to push a bill banning the canonical UOC. Although the session was disrupted, they managed to collect over 100 signatures for a second reading, falling short of the required 226.

Orthodox hierarchs and believers from various Local Churches voiced their support for the persecuted Ukrainian Orthodox Church. In Slovakia, a protest at the Ukrainian embassy saw participation from UOC and Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church members. Metropolitan Joanikije of Montenegro and the Littoral expressed solidarity with the detained abbot of Sviatohirsk Lavra, who remains in custody after his arrest in late April.

The Serbian Orthodox Church's Council of Bishops opposed the UN General Assembly's resolution on banning genocide denial in Srebrenica. The resolution passed on May 24 with 84 votes in favor, 19 against, and 68 abstentions. The Serbian bishops warned against historical revisionism, stressing that Orthodox Serbs, victims of numerous genocides and ethnic cleansings, should not be wrongfully accused of such crimes. Church bells tolled simultaneously in all Serbian Orthodox churches at noon on the voting day.

The Albanian Interfaith Council released a statement opposing the draft law on sexual and reproductive health, urging the government to reconsider its key provisions and involve traditional religious representatives in the discussion. The Council proposed measures to protect reproductive health within traditional values, including a complete ban on surrogacy and the definition of family as a union of a father, mother, and children.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate, led by Patriarch Bartholomew, continues to withhold the tomos of autocephaly for the Macedonian Orthodox Church—Ohrid Archbishopric until it meets three conditions: renaming itself, transferring dioceses outside North Macedonia to Constantinople's jurisdiction, and recognizing the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Archbishop Stefan of the Macedonian Church indicated these demands are unlikely to be met.

The Armenian government may confiscate property belonging to the Armenian Apostolic Church for state needs, according to Artur Hovhannisyan of the ruling "Civil Contract" party. Protests led by the opposition movement "Tavush for the Homeland," spearheaded by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, continue across Armenia.

Archbishop Leo of the Finnish Orthodox Church is set to retire. He submitted his request to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in January 2024, which was approved in mid-May. A new leader will be elected at the Local Council from November 25 to 28, with Archbishop Leo continuing his duties until then.

A new Russian Orthodox Church dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker was consecrated in Limassol. The ceremony was led by Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk and Metropolitan Timotheos of Vostra. Bishop Athanasios of Limassol from the Cypriot Orthodox Church participated, and notable contributors to the church's construction were honored.

The Estonian Orthodox Church is seeking legal measures to counter state demands to sever ties with the Russian Orthodox Church. The church will be represented by a law firm, with further decisions to be made at a general church council in mid-summer. Bishop Daniil of Tartu emphasized that the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate cannot function independently from the Russian Orthodox Church.

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