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Pope on Orthodox Christmas, Gaza violence and children without childhood

During the Angelus of the Epiphany Benedict XVI sends his greetings to Orthodox communities, thanks all those who are trying to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians and calls for the release of tens of children abducted in the DRC. He also talks about the "disarming meekness of love" and the world's hostility.

Christmas by Eastern Churches (which falls tomorrow), the violent armed clashes in the Gaza Strip and the abducted children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are some of the issues the Pope mentioned in today's Angelus as he spoke to the faithful in St Peter's Square.
Before greeting thousands of pilgrims in various languages, Benedict XVI sent his greetings to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches (especially that of Russia) who, "following the Julian calendar will celebrate Holy Christmas tomorrow. May the memory of the birth of the Saviour rekindle in their hearts more and more the joy of being loved by God."

Metropolitan Kirill congratulates believers on Orthodox Christmas

On the Eve of Orthodox Christmas, interim head of the Russian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad congratulated Orthodox Christians.

"Today we recall how the Son of God came down to people so that each one of us could rejoin Him. But to allow this to happen, there must be a response on our part, response worthy of divine love - our own love, active and sacrificial," the Metropolitan said in his Christmas message to believers.

Rejection of Christianity will lead the West to “war of all against all” - Moscow Patriarchate

The Russian Orthodox Church predicts, in case the West finally refuses its Christian heritage, it will face "war of all against all."

"When the West tries to expel, to erase every reminder of Christ from public space, it's pathology of fighting against their own conscience, their own tradition. It won't surprise me, if the West loses itself entirely in this fight," Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said on Saturday in the Orthodox Encyclopedia TV program on TV Center.

SVS Church School highlights charity during Nativity season

Developing a church school program for children of seminarians and faculty of St. Vladimir's Seminary (SVS) can be challenging: How do you spark the minds and shape the souls of students who already are immersed in church services, a rhythm of fasts and feasts, and a family life preoccupied with all things religious? To meet the challenge, SVS Church School Coordinator Katrina Bitar, herself a "PK" (priest's kid) and a 2nd-year seminarian in the Master of Arts program at SVS, decided to punctuate the season of Advent with a series of activities centered on charity.

Russian Orthodox mission has first service in Belfast

Russian Orthodox mission in Belfast has had its first Orthodox Communion service - known as the divine liturgy.
It was celebrated in Slavonic and English by Father George Zavershinsky, right, and Deacon Nikolai from the Moscow Patriarchate parish of St Peter & St Paul in Dublin.

The liturgy took place on Saturday, December 20, in the St George's church in the city centre, made available by the Church of Ireland.