Cooperation between Orthodox Churches & United Bible Societies

The Holy Metropolis of Ierapitna and Sitia hosted on September 19-20, 2017 the representatives of the Committee for the Relations of the Orthodox Churches, the Ancient Eastern Churches and the United Bible Societies. The meeting of the committee was held at Hotel “Sunshine” in Koutsounari of Ierapetra where the representatives of the Churches and the Bible Societies discussed issues on the advancement of their relations and cooperation.

In the morning of October 19, just before the opening of the meeting, a Doxology took place at the Church of Savior’s Transfiguration inside the hotel, celebrated by the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Ierapitna and Sitia Kyrillos. The Most Reverend President of the Committee and representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Metropolitan of Sasima Gennadios as well as the members of the Committee were present.

After the completion of the Doxology and at the opening session of the meeting the Most Reverend Bishop of Ierapitna and Sitia wholeheartedly welcomed the participants and briefly referred to the history of its bishopric, that is one of the oldest in the prefecture of Lasithi and among the first ones that were founded on the island of Crete, to the canonical dependence and distinctive relations of the Church of Crete with the Mother Church of Constantinople highlighting at the same time its leading role in the “Ecumenical Movement”, as the first in rank among the Orthodox Churches and the one with primacy in responsibility.

As he highlighted: “both the Hellenic Bible Society, a full member of the global fellowship of the United Bible Societies, and the other Bible Societies of about 200 countries, work having a high sense of accountability in order to provide the Churches with scholarly and theologically reliable biblical translations. They serve the churches through translation, publication, supply and broader dissemination of the Holy Scripture. The most important fact is that they work with the Church in harmony and they do not usurp her mission, as they consider the Church as the major carrier of the divine mission in the world. This cooperation, as well as the largely homogenous stance of the representatives of the Churches and the Bible Societies in the efforts to disseminate the Word of God has only born good fruit not only for the Churches and their relations among the Christians coming from different church traditions, but also for the entire world”. Finally, he wished everyone a pleasant stay, and a successful and fruitful meeting.

The Most Reverend, President and Professor, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Metropolitan of Sasima Gennadios on behalf of the Standing Committee for the cooperation of the Orthodox Church, the Ancient Eastern Churches and the United Bible Societies stated after the completion of the works of meeting: “The work of the Standing Committee for Cooperation and Relations of the Orthodox Churches, the Ancient Eastern Churches and the United Bible Societies was successfully completed today under the hospitality of the Holy Metropolis of Ierapitna and Sitia and especially the Most Reverent Metropolitan Kyrillos on behalf of our Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The purpose of the meeting in Ierapetra was to finalize a memorandum of cooperation that has been under discussion by this Committee for many years and defines the parameters of the relations among the three parties involved, as well as the cooperation regarding the meaning and the importance of the Holy Scripture, the matter of Divine Inspiration, and finally the issue of Bible translation. The United Bible Societies are especially involved with Bible translation, its realization, publication, and dissemination around the world. There are about 150 Bible Societies in 200 countries around the world. There is also the Hellenic Bible Society, that was represented by its President and representative of the Church of Greece, Most Reverend Metropolitan of Dimitriada Ignatios, as well as by its General Secretary Mr. Michalis Chatzigiannis, the Bible Society of Cyprus that was represented by the Bishop of Arsinoi Nektarios, while the representative of the Russian Patriarchate was absent due to prior engagements. We finally concluded that this memorandum of cooperation should be accepted by everyone, by all three parties, after some meeting. This meeting will be a world congress that will take place in Armenia in September of 2018. This memorandum will be presented there so that it will be signed by all members and will ensure the continuation of the cooperation with the United Bible Societies.

The beginning of these relations and cooperation is owed to His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who fifteen years ago accepted this cooperation with the United Bible Societies and called the other Orthodox Churches from around the world to participate. This Committee is the so called “Small” since not all local churches participate but only representatives from the three parties. We wholeheartedly wish to extend a warm thank you to the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Ierapitna and Sitia Kyrillos for the Abrahamic and generous hospitality. All the members of the Committee are pleased by Cretan hospitality and happy to have met everyone here even though the meeting only lasted for two days”.

The members of the Committee, who is presided by each representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, are Archpriests as representatives of the Orthodox Churches among whom are the Professor and Most Reverend Metropolitan of Sasima Gennadios the representative of the Mother Church of Constantinople, the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Dimitrias Ignatios the representative of the Church of Greece and President of the Hellenic Bible Society, the Bishop of Arsinoi Nektarios representative of the Church of Cyprus, Metropolitans and Bishops from the Eastern Orthodox Churches, that is the Coptic, the Armenian, the Jacobite Syrian Church, the Dean of the Faculty of Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Mr. Miltiadis Konstantinou, the General Secretary of the Hellenic Bible Society and other representatives of the United Bible Societies.

SOURCE: Holy Metropolis of Ierapitna and Sitia

Global Scripture Distribution Report 2016

For the third year running, Bible Societies have distributed more than 400 million Scripture items around the world – including more than 34 million Bibles. That’s enough for more than 5% of the world’s population. And since the beginning of the decade, the United Bible Societies fellowship (UBS) has distributed enough Scripture material for two out of every five people on the planet.

The distribution of nonprint Bibles such as digital downloads, CDs, Scripture texts and DVDs has more than doubled across the world in 2016, driven by the growing demand for Bibles on our phones and devices. The trend mirrors growing internet use around the world. Around 45% of the world’s population now have access to the internet, and by 2020 seven out of every 10 people on the planet will own a smartphone. We spend more time on our phones than any other media.Meanwhile, the global Digital Bible Library now has Scripture in 1,134 languages, which reach a total audience of more than five billion people.

At the end of 2016, Bible Society of Brazil reached the milestone of 150 million Bibles and New Testaments produced at its Bible Press since 1995. In Bangladesh, where nine out of 10 people are Muslim, the Bible Society team distributed more than eight times as many New Testaments as in the previous year. Altogether they provided 105,081 New Testaments through book fairs, distribution among rural believers and an initiative to reach mothers and families. The Palestinian Bible Society distributed five times as many New Testaments in 2016, compared to 2015. This was against a backdrop of violent outbursts between Israelis and Palestinians throughout the year, which raised tension and volatility in the region. And during a historic year for Cuba, when former ruler Fidel Castro died and Barack Obama, then President of the United States, made an unprecedented visit to the country, Scripture distribution soared. The number of Bibles and Scripture portions made available by the Cuba Bible Commission more than doubled, with more than 350,000 full Bibles provided in the nation. The distribution effort was part of the ‘One million Bibles for Cuba’ campaign, which was launched in 2013 and is due to run until the end of next year.

4th PanHellenic Meeting of Catechists of the Catholic Church

The fourth PanHellenic Meeting of Catechists took place at the Pastoral Center “Saint Paul” in Posidonia on Syros island from the 28th until the 31st of August with the participation of three hierarchs from the Catholic Church, Their Excellencies Archbishops of Corfu Fr. Ioannis Spiteris, Athens Fr. Sevastianos Rossolatos and Syros Island Petros Stefanou. Around 80 catechists, priests, monks, nouns and lay people from Athens, Thessaloniki, Larisa, Corfu, Patras, Tinos, and Syros, worked on the subject: “Catechism as first proclamation for the increase of faith. The missionary turn in Catechism”.

His Excellency the Archbishop of Syros island during his opening address welcomed the catechists in Syros and wished that the meeting will bear fruit in the field of catechism and will be of everyone’s benefit. At the place where the meeting took place there was also a book exhibit in which the Hellenic Bible Society participated. The representative of the Hellenic Bible Society, Mr. Giorgos Sochos, also addressed the meeting during the opening session. Due to their inability to attend the meeting His Excellency the Archbishop of Naxos and Tinos Island Fr. Nikolaos Printezis and the Mayor of Syros-Ermoupolis Mr. Giorgos Maragos sent their written greeting address.

The opening of the meeting was declared by the President of the Synodal Committee for Evangelization and Catechism and Vice President of the Hellenic Bible Society His Excellency Archbishop of Corfu Fr. Ioannis Spiteris who had the first presentation on the: “The semantic definition of the Terms New Evangelization, Re-Evangelization and First Proclamation: A general presentation”. The next presentation was by Fr. Markos Foskolos, vicar of St. Nikolaos in Chora, Tinos island and Archivist of the Catholic Archdiocese of Naxos-Tinos on the: “The First Proclamation in the New Testament and the early Christian communities”.

The first presentation of the second day came from Fr. Yiannis Maragos, Doctor of Theology, director of the newspaper PAROCHIAL BELLS and vicar of the St. Panteleimon in Foinikas. The imaginative title: “Oh mother, in what kind of world have you brought me” or “The new evangelization in the modern world of postmodern era” directs us to substantial content that caused concern to the people who attended the meeting. The second presentation by His Excellency the Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Athens, Fr. Sevastianos Rossolatos was entitled: “New Evangelization: Who? What? How?” and it was based on the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) that is the voice of the Catholic Church today.

During the third day Mrs. Anna Maria Printezi-Vasileiou, theologian, presented on: “The First Proclamation in Catechism” and Mrs. Antonia Zaloni, also a theologian presented on: “New Evangelization and family”. During the meeting the catechists participated in experiential workshops and all ecclesiastical provinces of the catechetic movement made presentations.

The last of the meeting was devoted to its evaluation and the catechists that participated had the opportunity, to express in front of the pastors and the prelates, the ones responsible for the catechetic work of the Catholic Church, their concerns and present the new reality they experience in which they are called to transmit the message of the gospel. The catechists that literally come from every part of the world asked from their Bishops, with passion, courage and optimism, to continue to support them in their effort and to provide them with opportunities to get to know each other and involve themselves in creative discussions.

The prelates on their side thanked the catechists for their great efforts, especially in difficult social situations, to respond to the mission the Church has entrusted them. His Excellency the Archbishop of Corfu Fr. Ioannis Spiteris, president of the Synodal Committee for Evangelization and Catechism, when concluding the meeting was particularly encouraging and urged everyone to take advantage of every opportunity they get to acquire further education and seek access to every form of information to enrich their intellect and their knowledge so that they can be of benefit to the people whose catechism they are responsible for. He also highlighted that this was the purpose of the book exhibition that took place during the meeting with the participation and presence of the Hellenic Bible Society’s representative, and the display of their excellent publications and of course the presence of Fr. Savvas Freris, Jesuit hieromonk and member of the Hellenic Bible Society’s Board for his effort to disseminate the good book! Finally, he asked everyone to trust their efforts in the power of the Holy Spirit so that they will receive the light in their minds and their hearts!
The meeting concluded with an Archbishops Concelebration in which Their Excellencies Sevastianos Rossolatos, Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Athens, Fr. Ioannis Spiteris, Archbishop of Corfu and Fr. Petros Stefanou, Bishop of Syros island, surrounded by the priests that participated in the meeting.

Source: Catholic Diocese of Syros