Bishop Ambrose Thanks All

ON BEHALF OF BISHOP GEORGE OF SOUTH OSSETIA

To: Exarchate Clergy, Faithful, and Friends
From: Archbishop Chrysostomos

Sas evchomai Kale Tessarakoste! Wishing you a Blessed Great Fast.

At long last, with at least some diminution of the horrendous political situation in war-torn South Ossetia, our Bishop there was able to travel to Greece, having been unable to do so during the meeting of our Synod of Bishops last October.

During his visit to Athens, His Eminence, Bishop George asked His Grace, Bishop Ambrose, Director of Missions for the Holy Synod, to thank everyone in the U.S. who contributed funds to help with the needs of the Church and faithful in South Ossetia, an ancient Orthodox country.*

I would like to share with you Bishop's Ambrose's edifying message and to thank you, at the same time, for your contributions to this worthy cause. The fact that even some non-Orthodox contributed to this effort was especially moving to me:

His Grace's message regarding Bishop George (says that) Bishop George returned today (3/5 ns).

.... He thanks all our American faithful who contributed to the sum we gave him from you, and will commemorate them.

... Much repair-work is needed, as the episcopal residence, the vestry, library, baptistry and bell-tower (half-finished) were all burnt out, and the cathedral is still without windows (it is very cold!).

...They are hesitant to begin work yet, as they are still fearful of another bombardment. The house he was given a few days before the attack is the only one in the area that remained intact, but he has given it temporarily to homeless families, and is living in a shed by the cathedral.

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* The Ossetians, a Sarmatian tribe of the Alans (or Alanians) converted to Christianity under the Byzantine Empire in the early Middle Ages. The great majority of South Ossetians are still Orthodox Christians. They have their own language, Ossetian (or Ossete), which is derived from Scythian (in turn, derived from the Iranian language group) and taught in their schools. In 1801, South Ossetia was absorbed into the Russian Empire, where it remained up to the Russian Revolution, when it became a territory of Soviet Georgia. In 2006, South Ossetia declared its independence. It has since enjoyed only partial recognition as an independent state.

South Ossetia is now a pawn between Russia's expansionist policies and Georgia's claims on the country, which are backed by American foreign policy.

The Church of South Ossetia is the only body in our Synod in Resistance to have the status of a state Church, which leaves Bishop George, a former teacher (trained in chemical engineering) who was originally ordained a Priest in our former Sister Church, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (before its union with the Moscow Patriarchate), in a vulnerable position, being pressured by the Patriarchates in Moscow and Georgia to align with one of those bodies.

His Eminence has been the victim of a near-fatal poisoning, the horrendous war between South Ossetia and Georgia last year, in which Russia intervened, and an endless flow of sewage from the Orthodox Internet, where disinformation, personal slander, and the like have often been often disseminated. Being part Jewish, he has also been the victim, in scurrilous personal attacks, of the insipid anti-Semitism of some of the odious circles that sully the witness of Orthodoxy today.

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