On 12 January 2014, the advanced courses for bishops and other representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Central Asian metropolitan region were completed. With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the advanced courses were organized by the Ss Syril and Methodius Theological Institute for Post-Graduate Studies in cooperation with the Central Asian metropolitan region.
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Grace the Most Revd and Rt Honorable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury met at the Phanar, Istanbul from 13th-14th January, 2014, for their first meeting since the Most Revd Justin Welby was enthroned as the Archbishop of Canterbury about one year ago. The meeting took place in an atmosphere of friendship and warmth. Both leaders agreed to focus on the continuation of close relations, the importance of the ongoing theological dialogue, and the commitment of the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Church to greater cooperation for a common witness in an increasingly secular and pluralistic world, particularly in Europe.
The feast of Christmas, the ‘Metropolis of all feasts’ according to the Church Fathers, was celebrated by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem on Tuesday the 25th of December/7th of January 2014, in the city where our Lord Jesus Christ was born by flesh, namely Bethlehem, where lies the magnificent Constantinian Basilica.
The feast began from Monday night, at 22:30 pm, as entrance was made from the gate of the Baptistery and the Matins procession was led by the Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod, His Eminence Demetrios, Archbishop of Lydda.
On Monday the 24th of December 2013/6th of January 2014, Christmas Eve was celebrated by the Patriarchate in Bethlehem in accordance with its ancient order.
In line with the approved schedule, at 9:00 am of the aforementioned day, His Beatitude Theophilos, our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem, received the Israeli Police at the Patriarchate’s Hall on the occasion of the feast.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the birth place of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem yesterday and attended the Liturgy of the Christmas Eve at the Church of the Nativity.
First Lady Shiranthi Wickremasinghe Rajapaksa and Palestinian President Dr. Mahmoud Abbas also attended the Liturgy along with His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem.