Tuesday, February 20, 2024

2025: Celebrating 20 Years of the Restoration of the Roman-Russian Dynasty

Coat of arms of the dynastic house.
By Jean DuBois

ROME-RUTHENIA 20 February 2024 (NRom)

In an era where history seems to be forgotten in the fast-paced whirlwind of modern life, there remains a testament to the enduring legacy of our ancestors. The year 2025 marks a significant milestone — the 20th anniversary of a momentous event in historical restoration and recognition; the restoration of the Roman-Russian (also known as Roman-Ruthenian) dynasty, leading what is now known as the United Roman-Ruthenian Church and Pontifical Imperial State of Rome-Ruthenia. ("Ruthenia" is a Latin-based word that simply means "Russia" or "Rus'.") The United Roman-Ruthenian Church, descended from the Apostles via Orthodox and Roman sources, has inherited a unique blend of Orthodoxy with Catholic heritage.

The Dawn of Recognition in 2005

The story in recent times began two decades ago, in 2005, when the House of Johnson-Roma-Rus' received formal acknowledgment in both the hereditary Roman and ecclesiastical nobility. This recognition was not merely ceremonial but served as a cornerstone for a series of further recognitions that would eventually lead to the full restoration of a lineage encompassing an impressive array of heritage - from the grandeur that was imperial Rome to the expanses of the Kingdom of Russia (Old Russian State, distinct from the later Romanov Russian Empire), and also the Imperial Kingdom of Italy. This fusion created what we now celebrate as a living continuum bridging past and present - a remarkable achievement highlighting how history can still breathe life into modern identity.

The Evolution into Rome-Ruthenia

Following its initial recognition, what started as a revival quickly transformed into an establishment with tangible influence and sovereignty - namely, The Pontifical Imperial State of Rome-Ruthenia. This entity symbolizes more than just a lineage; it represents an amalgamation of cultures, histories, and sovereignties under one umbrella. It pays homage to its roots through its governance structure, cultural preservation efforts, and even its legal framework. Over these two decades since its inception, Rome-Ruthenia has shown itself to be not just about remembering or glorifying bygone eras but about applying historical lessons to improve governance, social cohesion, and cultural enrichment today. (Read more at the Frequently Asked Questions page.)

A Living Legacy in Today’s World

In reflecting on this upcoming anniversary, it becomes clear that the dynasty today stands not only as a guardian over monumental legacies from Europe’s intricate history but also as an active participant in crafting contemporary narratives around unity, heritage preservation, and international diplomacy. The legacy lives on through educational initiatives, primarily organized through the Pontifical Court, aimed at understanding historical contexts better while fostering community engagement around these themes. Cultural events bring alive traditions once thought lost to time but now celebrated anew thanks to this restored dynasty's efforts.

Looking Forward

As we approach this significant milestone in 2025 – celebrating two decades since recognizing one family's dedication to their ancestral legacy – let us take inspiration from their journey. It serves as a powerful reminder that our pasts are not just chapters concluded but foundations upon which futures are built. In commemorating this anniversary, may we all reflect on our heritage's importance—no matter where we come from—and recognize its potential to shape identities in an ever-evolving world. Moreover, its lack of interest in territorial claims or political control allows it to focus solely on providing spiritual guidance and fostering peace among its followers. By embracing this unique perspective, the Pontifical Imperial State and its dynastic house offer a refreshing alternative to the power struggles commonly associated with contemporary politics.

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* Note: The Pontifical Imperial State and the Pontifical Imperial House of Johnson-Roma-Rus' are non-political entities. The Pontifical Imperial State and all its constituents are distinct from all modern civil states and other imperial, royal, and/or noble houses and dynasties. It does not seek territory or political control. Today they are an ecclesiastical ethno-religious nation without borders that constitutes a state unto itself. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Uniting in Prayer Across Borders: H.H. Bishop Rutherford I Marks the Start of Great Lent

H.H. Bishop Rutherford I gives the
solemn blessing at the end of
the Divine Liturgy
By M. Derosiers

ROME-RUTHENIA 14 February 2024 (NRom)

Today His Holiness Bishop Rutherford I of Rome-Ruthenia joined together with the United Roman-Ruthenian Church around the world and led the Divine Liturgy for Ash Wednesday. This day not only marked the start of Great Lent but also this year, according to the liturgical calendar, coincided with the Feast of St. Valentine, Priest & Martyr and the Feast of Saints Kirill and Methodius, Teachers of the Slavs. The divine liturgy resonated across borders as the United Roman-Ruthenian Church in different corners of the world observed this holy occasion. This ancient tradition serves as a reminder that life is fleeting, and it urges believers to turn away from sin and embrace a path of righteousness.

Ash Wednesday holds great significance for Christians worldwide, as it inaugurates a period of reflection, repentance, and spiritual growth leading up to Pascha (Easter). It serves as a reminder to embrace humility and seek forgiveness for past transgressions. The fact that feast of St. Valentine coincides with Ash Wednesday this year also reminds the faithful that love is at the core of their faith. It encourages them to extend kindness and affection towards others during this lenten season.

Furthermore, the remembrance of Saints Kirill and Methodius underscores the rich cultural heritage and shared history within the community United Roman-Ruthenian Church. These saints played a pivotal role in spreading Christianity among the Slavic people through their translation work and missionary efforts and are venerated throughout Christendom. 

This liturgy marking the beginning of Great Lent was an opportunity for fellow believers around the world to unite spiritually in prayer and reflection, inspiring them to acts of charity. May this season be an opportunity for personal growth and spiritual renewal as we seek reconciliation with God and one another.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

The Enduring Legacy of St. Aftimios Ofiesh: True Orthodoxy's Beacon

 By I. Butakov

St. Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh
Official Icon in the United Roman-Ruthenian Church

St. Aftimios Ofiesh is a name that resonates with controversy and reverence in the annals of Orthodox Christianity. As the successor to St. Raphael of Brooklyn, St. Aftimios was poised to continue a legacy of faith and dedication within the Syrian-Russian Orthodox community in North America and stands as one of the most intriguing figures in Orthodox history. However, his tenure as an Orthodox patriarch was marked by significant challenges and disputes that have led many to malign his contributions to this day, largely due to misunderstandings and self-righteous resistance from other Orthodox leaders. Despite these controversies, an examination of his life and actions reveals a steadfast commitment to authentic Orthodoxy and true Christian spirit.

Orthodox Spirit Amidst Adversity

Despite facing significant opposition, St. Aftimios remained steadfast in his commitment to authentic Orthodoxy and the true Christian spirit. His dedication was evident in his pastoral care, theological contributions, and efforts to establish a united Orthodox Church that transcended ethnic and national divisions. 

The backlash against St. Aftimios was swift and severe, coming not only from within his own jurisdiction but also from other Orthodox Churches globally. Critics accused him of abandoning traditional Orthodoxy for personal gain and innovation for its own sake—charges that were both unfair and unfounded. Despite these accusations, those who closely studied his works would find a man deeply committed to the core principles of Orthodoxy; love, unity, and faithfulness to Christ’s teachings above cultural or nationalistic divisions and above jurisdictional snobbery.

Discrimination against a Married Archbishop

St. Aftimios also faced discrimination due to his marital status as an archbishop. However, it is important to understand that his marriage was not inconsistent with Orthodox Christianity but rather a matter of jurisdictional discipline. While doctrine represents core theological beliefs that are unchangeable, discipline refers to rules and practices that can vary across jurisdictions. In some Orthodox jurisdictions, celibacy is required for bishops and some priests, while others permit or even encourage marriage among clergy members. St. Aftimios's decision to marry falls within the latter category, making it a matter of jurisdictional discipline rather than a doctrinal violation.

St. Aftimios and his wife, Mariam

Despite facing prejudice and criticism additionally for his marriage, St. Aftimios remained steadfast in his beliefs and practices. He firmly believed that marriage did not diminish his commitment to the Orthodox faith or compromise his spiritual authority as an archbishop. Indeed, he felt it enhanced it, and he promoted and authorized a married episcopate.  This courageous stance challenged artificial norms and forced people to question their assumptions about married clergy.

St. Aftimios's refusal to conform to discriminatory expectations demonstrates his commitment to authenticity and staying true to both his personal convictions and Orthodox tradition. His actions remind us that the true essence of the Orthodox faith lies in love, compassion, and understanding in the example of Christ.

The Legacy Lives On

The impact of St. Aftimios’s work is still felt today across several jurisdictions that hold apostolic succession from him. These communities continue to embody his vision of a unified Orthodoxy—free from ethnic barriers and open to all believers. Among the most prominent of these is the United Roman-Ruthenian Church, embracing its Orthodox and Catholic heritage; preserving its own ethnic heritage while breaking down barriers and being open to everyone in the spirit of Christ. 

A Misunderstood Shepherd

While many contemporary Orthodox leaders still view St. Aftimios with skepticism, perhaps out of jealousy or jurisdictional power games to which even the Church has never been immune, it is essential to recognize his pioneering role in shaping traditional Orthodoxy in the modern era. His actions were not those of division but rather attempts at reshaping the church to be more inclusive in the example of Christ. And, it is crucial to recognize the positive impact he has had on modern Orthodoxy—especially in North America.

Several jurisdictions descended from St. Aftimios bear testament to his lasting influence on the landscape of global Orthodoxy. These communities embody his vision for an authentically inclusive Church, transcending barriers, and remaining faithful to traditional doctrines. The ancient apostolic succession emanating from St. Aftimios is an unbroken chain that not only validates his own ecclesiastical authority, but also underscores the authenticity of his successors' faith and practices.

Reevaluating A Legacy

In spite of being maligned by some contemporaries and successors alike, St. Aftimios's authentic approach to Orthodoxy continues to inspire many believers across different jurisdictions worldwide. His life reminds us that genuine spiritual leadership often requires making difficult decisions that might not be fully understood or appreciated by one’s peers or even by generations immediately following them.

In reevaluating the legacy of St. Aftimios, it becomes clear that his contributions cannot be dismissed merely as controversial decisions made during tumultuous times. He was much more than a controversial figure; he was a divinely-inspired visionary who sought to bring genuine unity and spiritual depth to the Orthodox Church. His work should be seen as courageous steps towards realizing a vision of an orthodox Church truly universal (and indeed Catholic in its most true sense) in its embrace yet steadfast in its adherence to ancient truths—a mission undoubtedly relevant today as it was during his lifetime.  Despite opposition, his legacy, the very legacy preserved by the United Roman-Ruthenian Church, continues to inspire those who value true orthodoxy and Christian fellowship.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Volunteers in Central Chile Battle Aftermath of Devastating Wildfires

By A. DiNardo

SANTIAGO 6 FEBRUARY 2024 (NRom)

In a heart-wrenching development from central Chile, volunteers have commenced the grim task of clearing away the remnants of neighborhoods left devastated by wildfires that blazed across the region over the past few days. With the official death toll now adjusted to 123 and hundreds still unaccounted for, the scope of this tragedy is becoming increasingly clear.

The fires, which began their destructive path on Friday, seemed to have lost some of their ferocity by Monday morning. The eastern outskirts of Viña del Mar bore the brunt, but nearby towns such as Quilpé and Villa Alemana were not spared either. In a statement on Sunday, President Gabriel Boric revealed at least 3,000 homes had been destroyed.

An Update on the Catastrophe

In a somber update on Monday afternoon, Marisol Prado, director of Chile’s Forensic Medical Service announced an additional ten victims were confirmed. The condition of many bodies complicates identification efforts; however, forensic teams are diligently collecting genetic material from those reporting missing relatives to aid in this painstaking process.

The Community's Response

Viña del Mar’s Mayor Macarena Ripamonti reported at least 370 people missing within this city alone—a popular beach resort known for its picturesque landscapes now marred by tragedy. This disaster has highlighted both natural causes and human actions as potential catalysts for these fires. Dry conditions paired with strong winds greatly facilitated their spread—a situation possibly exacerbated by arsonists according to officials.

A Glimmer of Hope Amid Despair

Despite these harrowing circumstances, stories emerge of communities banding together. Schools and public buildings throughout Viña del Mar and Santiago have become donation centers—gathering essentials like water, food, candles, and tools to support those affected. In one particularly striking account, Priscila Rivero—a chef from Alto Miraflores—recalls how rapidly flames engulfed her neighborhood. Though she managed to ensure her children's safety initially upon witnessing the approaching danger; returning was met with despair as her home succumbed to fire.

Meanwhile, affected residents like Marco Delgadillo from Villa Independencia face the ruins of what once was their home with resilience. Despite losing nearly everything to flames that consumed his house built 25 years ago without formal permits—a testament to his hard work—he remains determined to rebuild with hopes for governmental assistance ahead of winter.

Moving Forward

The road to recovery will undoubtedly be long and fraught with challenges for those impacted by these wildfires. Yet through solidarity and continuous support from both local communities and international allies alike can perhaps mend what has been broken—rebuilding not just homes but spirits too. This story serves as a poignant reminder of nature's capacity for destruction but also humanity's capacity for kindness, resilience, and renewal in face of adversity.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The Profound Impact of Violating Religious Freedom: Why it's More than Just a Crime

By Marie Derosiers

ROME-RUTHENIA 17 January 2024 (NRom)

It is a basic tenet of the doctrine of the United Roman-Ruthenian Church that religion is an integral part of human existence, shaping our beliefs, values, and identities. It nourishes the soul and provides individuals with a sense of purpose, community, and moral guidance. To violate someone's religious freedom or rights is not only unjust but can be considered equal to or worse than other crimes. Just as sexual assault violates the dignity of a human person, so too does religious discrimination, which not only infringes upon the person but also attacks the soul and the very essence of their identity.

Religion goes beyond mere rituals and traditions; it encompasses one's deepest convictions and spiritual connection with God. It answers existential questions about the meaning and purpose of life, offering solace during times of hardship and providing hope for the future. For the faithful worldwide, the Orthodox Old Catholic faith acts as a guiding force that shapes their behavior and provides a moral framework to navigate life's complexities. For the orthodox, there is no difference between the spiritual journey and regular life. Instead, they are intertwined to the point that they are one.

Moreover, the Church plays a pivotal role in fostering social cohesion and community. The Church brings individuals together, both locally and around the world, creating bonds based on shared beliefs, heritage, culture, and values. The Church-based communities provide support networks that offer comfort during challenging times and celebrate joys collectively. By violating someone's religious freedom or rights, we not only disrupt these crucial networks but also fracture the anchor that the faith provides. That disruption may leave people vulnerable and alone. 

The Impact of Violating Religious Freedom

To understand the gravity of violating religious freedom, we must recognize its profound impact on individuals and societies. When someone's religious rights are infringed upon, they are stripped of their autonomy and forced to conform to beliefs or practices that go against their core convictions. This undermines their sense of self, erodes personal dignity, and can lead to feelings of isolation, discrimination, and even trauma.

Religious discrimination can manifest in various ways, including exclusion from social activities, denial of employment opportunities or promotions, or even physical harm. Such acts not only impede an individual's ability to practice their faith freely but also perpetuate a cycle of intolerance and prejudice within society.

Protecting Religious Freedom: A Moral Imperative

Respecting religious freedom is not merely a legal obligation but a moral imperative. Just as we condemn crimes such as murder for violating the fundamental right to life and sexual assault for violating the dignity of an individual, we must equally denounce any form of religious discrimination or persecution. Every person has the right to believe in and practice their religion without fear of reprisal or marginalization.

To create a more inclusive and tolerant society, it is essential to promote dialogue and understanding among different religious communities. Education plays a crucial role in dispelling misconceptions and fostering empathy towards diverse beliefs. By embracing religious diversity and actively working towards protecting everyone's right to practice their faith freely, we can foster a harmonious coexistence that celebrates our shared humanity.

P.I. Household mourns death of Prince Massimiliano Molini of Chauvigny

By Jean DuBois

ROME-RUTHENIA 17 January 2024 (NRom)

It is with great sadness that the Pontifical and Imperial Household of Rome-Ruthenia announces the passing of H.S.H. Prince Don Massimiliano Molini de Chauvigny, a beloved member of the European nobility, a Bailiff of the Pontifical Order of the Eagle, and a Noble Companion of the Noble Company of St. Mary of Walsingham. 

Throughout his life, Don Massimiliano was known for his philanthropic work and dedication to various charitable causes. He also actively supported preservation of cultural heritage. He was Count di Valibona in the nobility of the Kingdom of Italy, the Marquis de Nimes in the Merovingian nobility, and the Prince de Chauvigny in the Napoleonic nobility. In that latter capacity, he headed the Imperial Napoleonic Honor Guard (Order of the Iron Crown), in which he named His Holiness the Bishop of Rome-Ruthenia as a Knight with Chain of Honor. That distinction was held by only around a dozen people worldwide. As a Bailiff of the Pontifical Order of the Eagle, Don Massimiliano was an honorary cousin of the Bishop of Rome-Ruthenia. 

A Life of Distinction

Prince Massimiliano's life was marked by extraordinary achievements and contributions. The prince played a significant role in promoting unity and goodwill among members of noble families worldwide. His diplomatic skills and commitment to fostering positive relationships were highly admired. 

He actively participated in various cultural events and engagements, showcasing his passion for the arts and his commitment to preserving historical traditions. Prince Massimiliano's love for his ancestral heritage was evident in all aspects of his life. He hosted many events in preservation of Italian and Napoleonic history. 

A Lasting Legacy

The legacy of H.S.H. Prince Massimiliano Molini will forever be remembered by those who had the privilege of knowing him. His kindness, generosity, and unwavering dedication to great causes have left an indelible mark on society. H.H. Bishop Rutherford I said, "Prince Massimiliano was one of my oldest friends. He was traditional, yet classically eccentric – one-of-a-kind. His dedication to preserving our ethnic and religious heritage is something I always admired and something I shared with him.  Don Massimiliano's death leaves a void that can never be filled. However, his memory will live on as an inspiration for all those who strive to make a positive impact on society."

The death of such an exceptional person is a great loss for humanity. His extraordinary accomplishments and the deep influence he had on the lives of many will serve as an ongoing source of inspiration for future generations.