- Press Release on the union of Coptic and British Orthodox Churches
- On the Trail of Seven Coptic Monks in Ireland
- With Lynch to Holy Etchmiadzin
- The Coptic Orthodox Church under Islam
- Journey Into Artsakh
- Biographies of former BOC members
- The British Orthodox Church – Mission & Ministry
- The Liturgy of St James – Abba Seraphim
- The Liturgy of St James – Fr John Ross
- The Fraction in The Coptic Orthodox Liturgy
- The Ministry of the Deacon in the Liturgy of Saint James
- The Divine Liturgy of Saint James
- That They May be One – 3:2 St. Timothy Aelurus of Alexandria
- That They May be One – 3:1 St. Timothy Aelurus of Alexandria
- That They May be One – 2. The Humanity of Christ
- That They May Be One – 1. Reflections on Christian Unity
- New Age or Old Faith
- One Lord, One Faith: Why Orthodox don’t practice Open Communion
- Pope Shenoudas El Kosheh Declaration
- Christian Spirituality in a Changing World
- The Saints – Pattern of Christian Virtue
- Reconstructing Celtic Spirituality: Searching for a Western Early Church
ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CHURCH NEWS
Patriarchal Vicar for the Syrian Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom
On 3 December, 2006, His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I
Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch, the Supreme Head of our Universal Syrian
Orthodox Church, assisted by several Metropolitans and Bishops, celebrated the Holy Qurbono at the St. Peter’s & St. Paul’s Patriarchal Cathedral of the St. Ephrem the Syrian Monastery at Ma’arrat Seydnaya, Damascus, Syria, during which Rabban Toma Dawod Dakama was consecrated to the episcopate as a Metropolitan with the name, ‘Athanasius’. His Eminence has
been appointed as the Patriarchal Vicar for the Syrian Orthodox
Church in the United Kingdom where he has faithfully served the Syriac community for a number of years.
The new Archbishop’s enthronement took place at St. Dunstan’s Church, Friars Place Lone, East Acton, London on 10 December 2006 and the presiding bishop was Mor Salwanos Petros, Archbishop of Homs. Assisting him were other Oriental Orthodox hierarchs in Britain: Abba Seraphim, Bishop Angaelos (Coptic), Bishop Nathan (Armenian) and Archbishop Antonios (Ethiopian). A colourful part of the Syriac tradition involves the new bishop being lifted up while seated on his throne and processed around the sanctuary.
New Bishops for Syrian Orthodox
On 10 December 2006 His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, consecrated Rabban Malke Urek as Metropolitan with the name, ‘Gregorios’ for the Archdiocese of Adiyaman in southern Turkey at the Monastery of Deir el Zafaran. This is one of the old dioceses of the Syriac Orthodox Church and its restoration recognises that many of those who left the church and changed their religion during the upheavals of the early twentieth century, are seeking to return to their faith. On 7 January 2007, in the Cathedral of SS. Peter & Paul at Ma’arrat Saidnaya, Syria, Rabban Mattias Nayis was consecrated a Metropolitan, with the name ‘Philoxenos’ as second Patriarchal Assistant and Administrator of St. Ephraim Theological College in Ma’arrat Saidnaya. Following the trtanslation of Mor Dionysius Isa Gurbaz to Switzerland and Austria on 1 February 2006, it was decided to divine the Archdiocese of Germany into three. On 18 February 2007 Rabban Hanna Aydin was consecrated as Mor Julius to serve as Patriarchal Vicar for Northern Germany (centred in Berlin) and Rabban Daniel Malak Kourieh as Mor Clemis Patriarchal Vicar for Southern Germany (Baden, Wurtemburg and Bavaria centred in Kirchhausen). A diocese of Mid-Germany, centred in Gutersloh is still to be filled. On 15 April 2007 at Ma’arrat Saidnaya, Rabban Eugene (Edip) Aydin (who has studied at Heythrop College, London and Oxford University) was consecrated as Mor Polycarpos to serve as Patriarchal Vicar for the Netherlands in succession to the late Mor Julius Yeshu Cicek.
Shortly after, it was announced that Mor Julius Hannah Aydin had been suspended by the Patriarch. Mor Julius has announced that the reason for this was his expressed desire to bring union to Syriac Christians in Germany from various churches
New Bishops for the Syrian Orthodox Jacobite Church in India
On 1 January, Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I, assisted by other Metropolitansa and bishops, ordained Rabban Elias Kozhiparambath (who has served since 2004 as the Vice-president of the Antiochean Movement in India – Anthikoya Viswasa Samrakshana Samithy) as Metropolitan with the name Mor Athanasios at St. Athanasius Cathedral, Puthencuriz. He will serve as assistant to the Catholicos and Vicar of St. Athanasius Cathedral at Puthenkurishu Patriarchal centre.
Mor Sevarios Kuriakose, Metropolitan and head of the
Malankara Syrian Knanaya diocese, was elevated as Archbishop
and Chief Metropolitan by H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and Rabban Kuriakose Chaluparampil was consecrated as the suffragan bishop of the Knanaya Archdiocese in Malankara with the name Mor Gregorios Kuriakose on 2 February 2007 at St. Aprem Patriarchal Cathedral Church at Ma`rrat Sayyidnaya, Damascus, Syria, by H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I, Patriarch of Anticoch. February. A public reception will follow at Chingavanam in the afternoon.
The closely-knit Knanaya community, numbering around 75,000, is believed to comprise the descendants of 72 Judeo-Christian families who fled from Edessa (Urfa), the first city state that embraced Christianity, to the Malabar coast in A.D. 345, under the leadership of a prominent merchant Knai Thomman.
Syrian Orthodox Archbishop speaks out on Iran
The recent appeal on behalf of the Christians of Iraq by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, Emmanuel III Delly, received widespread support from other Christian leaders in the Middle East. Among these was Archbishop Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim from Aleppo. “The words spoken by His Beatitude, the Chaldean Patriarch, moved us,” he said. “The forced emigration of Christians is terrible and not accepted either by Islam or by Christianity, or by reasonable human beings.” The bishop, however, used even more forceful language to claim that “in Iraq, there are those who want to exploit this situation to change the social structure of the country, to implement a specific plan aimed at undermining the national unity of Iraq, the cultural, religious and ethnic mosaic made up of all its citizens.” Mor Yohanna added: “As leaders and as men of faith, we have the duty to stand by the faithful, men of God, those who work for the good of the country. We must not be afraid even if the current situation appears to be like a black cloud to us, because the sun will shine again some day, and on that day we will feel that God is with us, with the entire country and with its people, Muslims and Christians.”
Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Commission
The fourth meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches took place in Rome from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, 2007, under the co-chairmanship of His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette, secretary-general of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
The meeting was originally scheduled to take place in Lebanon at the kind invitation of His Beatitude Patriarch Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir of the Maronite Church. Regrettably, the political situation in that country did not allow the members to meet there at this time. Instead, the meeting was held in Rome at the new offices of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The members were hosted at the Domus Romana Sacerdotalis. Joining the delegates from the Catholic Church were representatives of the following Oriental Orthodox Churches: Coptic Orthodox Church, Syrian Orthodox Church, Armenian Apostolic Church (Catholicosate of All Armenians), Armenian Apostolic Church (Holy See of Cilicia), Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and Eritrean Orthodox Church.
The Oriental Orthodox delegation met separately Jan. 29-30 in order to discuss themes in ecclesiology. During the course of these meetings, they produced a draft report that was later given to the Catholic members. The Catholic delegation met separately Jan. 30. The full International Joint Commission met on three consecutive days, from Jan. 31 to Feb 2. Each day began with a brief prayer service using material that had been produced for this year’s Prayer for Christian Unity.
The members of the international commission were received in audience by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 1. His Eminence Anba Bishoy greeted His Holiness the Pope on behalf of the members of the dialogue and thanked him for his efforts to promote dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox. He also presented him with an icon hand painted by Coptic Orthodox nuns in Egypt.
Addressing the group, Pope Benedict said, “Your meeting concerning the constitution and mission of the Church is of great importance for our common journey toward the restoration of full communion. The Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches share an ecclesial patrimony stemming from apostolic times and the first centuries of Christianity. This ‘heritage of experience’ should shape our future ‘guiding our common path toward the re-establishment of full communion’ (cf. “Ut Unum Sint,” 56).” The Pope also expressed his concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East, calling upon them to be “courageous and steadfast in the power of the Spirit of Christ.”
Following the plan for the dialogue that was adopted at the Preparatory Meeting in 2003, the following papers were presented during the course of the meeting:
– “Mission, Witness, Service and the Problem of Proselytism,” by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian
– “The Mission of the Church,” by Bishop Paul-Werner Scheele
– “The Salvation of Nonbelievers in the Patristic Period,” by Father Mark Sheridan, O.S.B.
– “The Church and the Salvation of Non-Christians in the Second Vatican Council and Afterward,” by Monsignor Johan Bonny
– “The Salvation of Nonbelievers,” by Metropolitan Bishoy
– “Marriage Between Catholics and Muslims: A Catholic Perspective,” by Archbishop Peter Marayati
– “Mixed Marriages With Non-Christians,” by Metropolitan Bishoy.
Because of technical difficulties, the drafting committee that had been named at the third meeting of the dialogue in Etchmiadzin, Armenia, was not able to meet. Its membership was modified, and is now composed of Catholic members Father Frans Bouwen, Father Mark Sheridan, Monsignor Johan Bonny and Dietmar Winkler, and Oriental Orthodox members Metropolitan Bishoy, Metropolitan Theophilus George Saliba, Archbishop Mesrob Krikorian, and Bishop Nareg Alemezian. The drafting committee will meet in Rome from May 29 to 30, 2007.
On the evening of Jan. 30, the members of the commission attended a vespers service at the Church of the Transfiguration, a Catholic parish in Rome that also hosts a Coptic Orthodox community.
The commission members later met with the parishioners and attended a festive meal provided by the parish. On the evening of Feb. 1, His Eminence Cardinal Kasper hosted a meal at the Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican to welcome the members to Rome. They were joined by a number of officials of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and other dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Metropolitan Bishoy thanked Cardinal Kasper and the staff of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity for hosting the meeting.
The fifth meeting of the International Commission will take place at St. Ephrem Syrian Orthodox Monastery in Maarrat Saydnaya near Damascus, Syria, at the invitation of His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch.
The Oriental Orthodox delegation will plan to arrive Jan. 27, and the Catholics on Jan. 28, 2008. The two delegations will meet separately, and have full joint sessions on Jan. 30, Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, with departure on Feb. 2. At this meeting the text prepared by the drafting committee will be considered, and one paper from each side will be presented on the goal of ecumenical dialogue.
Representatives of the Oriental Orthodox Churches (in alphabetical order)
Antiochian Syrian Orthodox Church
– Archbishop Mor Theophilus George Saliba of Mount Lebanon, secretary of the Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church
– Metropolitan Kuriakose Theophilose of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kerala, India
Armenian Apostolic Church: Catholicosate of all Armenians
– Archbishop Mesrob Krikorian of Vienna and patriarchal delegate for Central Europe and Scandinavia
– Archbishop Khajag Barsamian of the Eastern Diocese of the United States
Armenian Apostolic Church: Holy See of Cilicia
– Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy in the U.S.A.
– Bishop Nareg Alemezian, Ecumenical Officer of the Holy See of Cilicia
Coptic Orthodox Church
– Metropolitan Anba Bishoy of Damiette (co-chair), secretary-general of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church
– Father Shenouda Maher Ishak, West Henrietta, New York
Eritrean Orthodox Church
– Father Kaleab Gebreselassie Gebru, coordinator for foreign affairs
Ethiopian Orthodox Church
– Father Megabe Biluy Seife SeJassie Yohannes. Lique Hinlyan Getachew Guadie (prevented)
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
– Metropolitan Philipos Mar Eusebios of Pathanamthitta
– Father John Mathews (co-secretary), secretary of the Committee on Inter Church Relations (substituted by Father Abraham Thomas, London)
Representatives of the Catholic Church
– Cardinal Walter Kasper (co-chair), president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
– Bishop Paul-Werner Scheele, retired Bishop of Wurzburg (Germany)
– Bishop Kyrillos Kamal William Samaan, Coptic Catholic bishop of Assiut, president of the Ecumenical Commission of the Catholic Church in Egypt
– Archbishop Jules Mikhael AI-Jamil, procurator of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate to the Holy See and apostolic visitator in Europe
– Achbishop Peter Marayati, Armenian Catholic archbishop of Aleppo, president of the Ecumenical Commission of the Catholic Church in Syria
– Bishop Woldetensaé Ghebreghiorghis, apostolic vicar of Harar (Ethiopia), president of the Ecumenical Commission of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia and Eritrea
– Father Frans Bouwen M.Afr., consultant to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Jerusalem
– Father Philippe Luisier, S.J., Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome
– Father Ronald Roberson, C.S.P., associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, U.S. conference of Catholic bishops, Washington, D.C.
– Father Paul Rouhana, O.L.M., University of the Holy Spirit, Kaslik, Jounieh, Lebanon
– Father Mark Sheridan, O.S.B., rector, Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm, Rome
– Father Mathew VeUanickal, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Changanacherry, India
– Father Boghos Levon Zekiyan, Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome
– Professor Dietmar W. Winkler, Paris-London University, Salzburg, Austria
Secretariat: Monsignor Johan Bonny (co-secretary), staff-member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
Rome, Feb. 2, 2007
[Report issued by the Vatican press office. Text adapted]
Importance of Resuming Oriental-Eastern Orthodox Theological Dialogue
The representative of His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel was received on 7 March in a private audience by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia. The Ecumenical Officer of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia also attended the meeting. His Eminence was delegated by the Ecumenical Patriarch to explore with Catholicos Aram the possibilities of resuming the theological dialogue between the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox families that was started in 1985 and had its last meeting in 1993.
Welcoming the readiness of the Ecumenical Patriarch to continue the theological dialogue between the two Orthodox families, Catholicos Aram I emphasized the unique importance of this dialogue considering it essential for the common Orthodox witness in the world today. He said: “The solid foundation of common basis was already laid down in this theological dialogue. Basic Christological issues have been discussed, but there is still a long way to go. We need more discussion in respect to a number of matters pertaining to our theology, liturgy, canons and traditions. I understand that in both families there are few churches who have still some reservations concerning this theological rapprochement between our two families. We must take their approaches and concerns seriously and proceed carefully.”
Catholicos Aram, who was one of the founding members of this theological dialogue, shared with Metropolitan Emmanuel, co-Moderator of this dialogue, his personal perspectives in respect to the agenda and procedure for the coming phase of the dialogue.
Heads of Oriental-Orthodox Churches meet
The Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Middle East, HH Pope Shenouda III, HH Patriarch Zakka I of the Syrian Church and HH Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, held their 10th annual meeting, at St. Ephrem Syrian Orthodox Monastery at Ma’arat Saydnaya from 19-21 April. At the end of their meeting, Heads signed a Common Declaration.
We, Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, and Catholicos Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenians of the Great House of Cilicia, give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ for granting us, once again, the opportunity to pray and to reflect together on issues and challenges of common concern, at St. Ephrem Monastery, in Ma’arat Saydnaya, Damascus, Syria. This is the tenth time that we meet as Heads of Churches within the framework of the Fellowship that we have established in 1996. The Standing Committee that we have appointed has joined us.
In our meeting here in Ma’arat Saydnaya we reaffirmed our unity of faith that, for centuries, has been the basis of our common doctrinal position and theological teachings. Deeply rooted in the Holy Scriptures, the Apostolic Faith and Tradition, the three Ecumenical Councils (Nicea 325, Constantinople 381, and Ephesus 431) and the teachings of our Church Fathers, our unity has sustained the life and witness of the Churches of the Oriental Orthodox Family becoming a living source of spiritual strength and missionary engagement. For the Oriental Orthodox Churches the full communion and the visible unity of churches are based on the unity of faith which is manifested through Eucharistic communion and other Sacraments of the churc
In our unity of faith we are not confined to the family of the Oriental Orthodox Churches; we feel also responsible to strive for the unity of all churches, both in our region and in different parts of the world. We consider the visible unity of church a priority. We remain firmly committed to the ecumenical movement both through the World Council of Churches, as a global ecumenical fellowship, and the Middle East Council of Churches, as a regional ecumenical fellowship. We will continue our active role in the World Council of Churches. We express our satisfaction for the adoption of the consensus decision making by the World Council of Churches. The Ninth General Assembly of the World Council of Churches has already conducted its business in Porto Allegre, Brazil, according to this procedure. We encourage the Permanent Committee on Consensus and Collaboration to continue the mandate of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the World Council of Churches. We will also continue our active role in the Middle East Council of Churches, and we look forward with hope to the next General Assembly of the M.E.C.C. in Cyprus, November 26-30, 2007.
H.H. Pope Shenouda III and H.H. Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I extend their deep gratitude to H.H. Catholicos Aram I for his ecumenical commitment for so many years and his leadership in the World Council of Churches, especially as its moderator for the last fourteen years.
In our endeavor for the unity of the church, our Churches are engaged in a number of bilateral theological dialogues. We believe that these theological dialogues with the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Reformed Churches will further affirm the orthodoxy of the Christological teachings of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Those theologians, who used to call us monophysite (single nature), have came to realize that we are miaphysite (one united nature), following the teachings of our common father St. Cyril of Alexandria. There still exist differences of doctrinal, ecclesiological, liturgical and ethical nature, which need more dialogue and discussion with other churches. We should keep in mind that the reception of the agreements of theological dialogues by the churches needs time and patience.
Concerning the Theological Dialogue between the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Families, His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has commissioned the new co-president of the Joint Commission of the dialogue Metropolitan Emmanuel of France to meet Catholicos Aram I asking his assistance for the reactivation of this theological dialogue. Subsequently the two co-presidents of the Joint Commission, Metropolitan Emmanuel and Metropolitan Bishoy met at the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, Antelias, Lebanon, on April 17, 2007 and discussed the future steps.
The International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches held its fourth meeting from January 28 to February 3, 2007 in Rome. The fifth meeting of the Commission will take place at St. Ephrem Syrian Orthodox monastery, Ma’arat Saydnaya, Damascus, Syria, from January 27 to February 2, 2008, by the invitation of Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I.
The Archbishop of Canterbury H.G. Rowan Williams recently sent a delegation to visit us in Lebanon, Egypt and Syria to discuss the possibility of resuming the work of the Commission of Theological Dialogue between our Churches and the Anglican Communion. In order to be able to achieve this goal, we expect that the Archbishop of Canterbury hold an official meeting with Catholicos Aram I, who is in charge of the theological dialogues of our Fellowship. The purpose of this meeting will be to clarify the current situation in the Anglican Communion, share with the Archbishop the views and concerns of our three Churches, and discuss practical steps for the resumption of the dialogue.
We received through Catholicos Aram I an invitation from the Lutheran World Federation to strengthen relations with the Oriental Orthodox Churches and to establish an instrument for regular bilateral contacts. We welcome this invitation. We will convey this invitation also to the other Churches of our Family.
We are fully aware of the events surrounding us in our region. Our churches are called to work constantly for the just peace in the Middle East. The Christian-Muslim dialogue has been integral to the history, civilizations and cultures of the Middle East. Our churches in this region have been in existential dialogue with Islam. Due to emerging new situations and new developments taking place especially in Iraq and Palestine, continuous efforts must be made to deepen mutual respect and understanding between Muslim and Christian scholars and community leaders. Everybody has the right to explain and defend his or her religion without becoming aggressive and offensive towards the other religion. The same should apply to media which became a highly sensitive agent affecting the relations between cultures, religions and nations.
We condemn all forms and expressions of violence. Religion should be a promoter of love, hope and reconciliation, peace, justice and human rights. Religion cannot be exploited for non-religious purposes. We urge all those who, for one reason or other, use violence to resolve their problems. The problems must be resolved through dialogue, mutual understanding and mutual respect.
We focused our attention on Iraq which is exposed to the destructive activities of evil forces. This prevailing critical situation obliges a great numbers of people, both Muslims and Christians, to emigrate from their homeland. We encourage the United Nations (U.N.) and all the humanitarian organizations to support the suffering people of Iraq, wherever they are, till the Lord gives their country security and stability.
We believe that the peace process must continue with new impetus, and the Palestinian people must have its independent state and the right to return home. Israel must implement all Resolutions of the U.N. Security Council by withdrawing from the occupied Arab territories, including the Farms of Shabaa in South of Lebanon, Golan Heights and Jerusalem. Only full justice will bring about comprehensive, real and permanent peace in the Middle East.
We pray and hope that the Lebanese leaders may soon reach, through frank dialogue, to mutual understanding leading Lebanon to security, peace, and unity with the participation of all communities.
We greet the President of the Republic of Syria, His Excellency Dr. Bashar Al-Assad, the heads of all religious communities and the people of Syria. We noted with joy that the Christians in Syria are engaged in a renewal process: they are experiencing religious freedom; they are organizing church activities; they are building new churches and monasteries; and they are playing an active role in society and contributing to the progress of the country.
We appeal to our faithful, in the Middle East and throughout the world, to remain firmly attached to the Gospel, its values and imperatives, and participate more actively in the church’s total life and witness. We are committed to intensify and deepen further our collaboration within this Fellowship. We are also committed, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to give a renewed efficiency and vitality to the witness of our Churches particularly in educational, theological, diaconal, evangelistic and ecumenical spheres.
As we conclude our Tenth Meeting, we would like to express our thanks to His Holiness Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I for his warm hospitability.
May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the faithful of our Churches.
Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark
Mar Ignatius Zakka I
Patrairch of Antioch and All the East
Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia
The 11th meeting of the three Heads will be hosted by the Armenian Church – Holy See of Cilicia, in Antelias-Lebanon, May 8-10, 2008.
Ethiopia celebrates its Millennium
As the Ethiopian Orthodox Church inherited its calendar from the Coptic Church, which retains the old Egyptian system whereby the year was divided into twelve months of thirty days each plus one additional month of five days (six days in leap years), Ethiopian dates therefore, fall some seven or eight years behind western dates and have done so since early Christian times. For this reason Ethiopia has just celebrated the end of the second millennium during a series of ceremonies in Addis Ababa on 26-27 September.
His Holiness Patriarch Paulos welcomed a number of distinguished Church leaders to Ethiopia, among whom was the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomeos I and the Catholicos of the Malankara Orthodox Church. They participated in the public ceremonies of the feast of the Holy Cross, held in the main square of Addis Ababa with the participation of thousands of faithful. On 26 September, an international peace conference was convened in the African headquarters of the United Nations. Around 500 religious and lay participants attended the conference. The conference addressed such urgent matters as the overcoming of violence, the cessation of wars, the non-discriminated delivery of health care, the establishment of social justice and the preservation and protection of nature.
Each Ethiopian year is dedicated to one of the four Evangelists according to the cycle:Matthew, Mark, Luke andJohn. The year of St. Luke is Leap Year, and therefore always has six days in the thirteenth month of the Ethiopian calendar.