Orthodox Christian Parishes Respond to Haiti, Assemble Aid Packages

The emails started flying almost as soon as word got out. Haiti had been devastated by its worst earthquake in 200 years and the ladies of Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in a quiet suburb south of Baltimore went to work.

"We decided that children or anyone who was going to the Holy Cross movie night on Saturday could make hygiene kits for IOCC," said Debora Mattingly, president of the church's ladies group. Mattingly then sent out an email on Wednesday -- just one day after the quake hit -- asking those who were stopping by at that evening's Vespers service to also bring supplies.

St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Nice returns to Russia

The Nice Superior Court in France has declared Russia to be the rightful owner of St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral. "Russia is the rightful owner of the territory, the cathedral, as well as all its properties," the chair of the Nice Municipal High Court said.

The Patriarchate of Moscow claimed the cathedral should be returned to the Russian state, the successor to the tsarist regime. However, the Russian Orthodox Association of Nice (ACOR) opposed the claim, arguing the cathedral belongs to the Orthodox Church of Constantinople.

Patriarch Kirill congratulates Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada on the first anniversary of his enthronement

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in his message to His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada congratulated him on the anniversary of his enthronement. Below is the text of the message:

Your Beatitude,

Dear Brother and Concelebrant beloved in the Lord:

First ever Divine Liturgy in Castelo Branco in Portugal

The first ever Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Archbishop Innokenty of Korsun in Castelo Branco, Portugal, during his pastoral visit to Portugal on December 23-27. Surrounded by dense forests, this city has seen only Orthodox prayer services. Sometimes there were evangelizing talks organized through the efforts of the Moscow Patriarchate community in Lisbon. The city is located 200 km away from the Portuguese capital. There are many Orthodox Christians, economic immigrants from Eastern Europe, who just as the locals are engaged in sheep breeding, horticulture and cultivation of olives.

Holy Synod of the Russian Church decisions on external affairs

At its meeting on 25 December 2009, the Holy Synod made a number of decisions concerning the external work of the Russian Orthodox Church. Regarding the Patriarch Kirill's report on his visit to Azerbaijan for the 30th anniversary of the Caucasus Muslim Board Chairman Allahshuqur Pasha-zade's being in the capacity of sheikh-ul-Islam and his meeting there with Patriarch-Catholicos Iliya II of All Georgia, it was agreed that the meeting was important for strengthening and developing fraternal relations between the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches. As had been agreed with the head of the Georgian Church, the Holy Synod resolved that Archimandrite Roman (Lukin), Moscow diocese, be sent to Tbilisi for pastoral care of Russian-speaking believers and be charged with representing the position of the Russian Orthodox Church as needed. With regard to the talk that Patriarch Kirill had with Azerbaijani President Ildar Aliev, it was agreed to develop cooperation with the Azerbaijani authorities. Gratitude was expressed to Allahshuqur Pasha-zade for the warm welcome in Baku and importance of strengthening relations with the Muslim Board for the Caucasus was noted.