JABALPUR: The XXVIII Quadrennial Assembly of NCCI held at Jabalpur, India from April 27 to 30, 2016 declared the names of office bearers for the new quadrennium 2016 – 2020.
Rt. Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh, Bishop of Jabalpur Diocese, Church of North India since 2004; Deputy Moderator of Church of North India since 2014 will be the new President for NCCI for the next 5 years.
Quadrennial Assembly had elected Rev. Dr. Ratnakara Sadananda, Aleyamma Thomas, Liju Jacob Kuriakose as the new Vice Presidents and Rev. Dr. A. G. Augustine Jeyakumar as the new treasurer.
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad will be the new General secretary for the next five years. He has been the General Secretary of National Council of Churches in India since 2011 and belongs to the Presbyterian Church of India.
The Installation of the new office bearers took place in the concluding worship service held in Mary George Hall, Christ Church Girls Sr. Sec. School, Jabalpur on April 30, 2016 at 5:00 pm.
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod, the church’s governing body, has adopted hard-line policy positions ahead of the Pan-Orthodox Council to be held in Crete in June 2016 – stating, among other things, that besides the “Holy Orthodox Church there are no other churches, but only heresies and schisms, and to call these ‘churches’ is theologically, dogmatically and canonically completely wrong”.
The Pan-Orthodox Council will bring together all the universally-recognised autocephalous churches of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in the first such gathering in more than 1000 years.
It has been in the planning since 1961 and will cover a range of issues, including the relations between the Orthodox Church and the rest of the Christian world.
Other issues to be covered include the Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Contemporary World; The Orthodox Diaspora; Autonomy and its Manner of Proclamation; The Sacrament of Marriage and its Impediments; the Significance of Fasting and its Application Today.
Contentious issues, such as agreement on a church calendar common to all Orthodox churches, have been removed from the agenda.
Crete was chosen as the venue for the Pan-Orthodox Council over the originally-planned venue of Istanbul, seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, because the Russian Orthodox Church was extremely reluctant to go to the Turkish city because of the tensions between Moscow and Ankara over the 2015 downing of a Russian military aircraft by Turkey near the border with Syria.
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod announced on April 21 its positions, amending an earlier draft document.
Chaired by Bulgarian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Neofit and attended by all but four metropolitans, the meeting considered letters from Lovech Metropolitan Gavriil, priests in his diocese, and a letter from Plovdiv Metropolitan Nikolai – backed up by a petition signed by 240 priests in his diocese – on the issue of the attitude of the Orthodox Church to the rest of Christendom.
On a point about the “unity of all”, the church said, it always had been understood that those who had fallen into heresy or schism had to first return to the Orthodox faith and prove their obedience to the Holy Church “and then, through repentance, they may be received into the Church”.
On the issue of “bilateral theological dialogues aiming to seek lost Christian unity, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church said that it should be noted that the “Holy Orthodox Church, which is the one and only, never lost unity in the faith and fellowship of the Holy Spirit among Christians and as it will last until the end of the world, the Lord has said that ‘the gates of hell will not prevail against it’ this fellowship will endure forever”.
The Holy Synod went on to state its view that “besides the Holy Orthodox Church there are no other churches, but only heresies and schisms, and to call these ‘churches’ is theologically, dogmatically and canonically completely wrong”.
Among other points, the document approved by the Holy Synod went on to say that “thank God” the Bulgarian Orthodox Church had left the World Council of Churches in 1998.
This was a reference to the fact that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which joined the WCC in 1961 and was an active participant – with Dr Todor Sabev as a WCC vice-chairman – quit in 1998 as an anti-ecumenical stance came to dominate the Bulgarian church. In any case, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s participation in the WCC had been less inspired by an ecumenical spirit but, in the decades of communism, as a means to help push Soviet influence over the body – as Bulgarian historian Momchil Metodiev explained in his book Between Faith and Compromise (the Dossier Commission identified Sabev, who died in 2008, as having been secret service State Security agent Damyanov).
That historical background aside, the April 2016 position of the church’s Holy Synod said that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church could not be a member of an organisation which holds a view of “one of many or as a branch of the One church, which seeks a way and struggles for its restoration through this World Council of Churches”.
The Synod quoted the Creed, saying that there was one God and one Church.
The April 2016 position of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is hardly the first time that a hard-line position has been heard from some of its leaders, perhaps most notably of all, Plovdiv Metropolitan Nikolai.
In 2007, in a television interview not long after becoming Plovdiv Metropolitan, Nikolai was asked his opinion about the Pope.
“If he professes a different belief than the Orthodox, then the church canons make him a heretic,” Nikolai replied.
However, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s relations with the Roman Catholic Church are not without some co-operation, such as commemorations on May 24 of their shared saints Cyril and Methodius, the fact that the late Pope John Paul II lent the Bulgarian Orthodox Church the use of a church in Rome, and in previous years, on the occasion of the Western and Eastern Christian churches’ Easter falling on the same date, some local joint liturgical celebrations by Orthodox and Roman Catholic clergy.
Source: Written by The Sofia Globe staff on April 22, 2016 in Bulgaria
(Photo of Alexander Nevsky cathedral, Sofia: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Pope Francis urged the hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families to serve and care for each other as freely as God loves the human family.
The pope called upon the faithful to embrace signs that the Holy Spirit can work through everyone. He referred to the readings in the multilingual Mass — from the Book of Numbers and the Gospel of Mark — in which members of the faith community questioned the work of those not part of their group and for prophesying in the name of God.
“To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not ‘part of our group,’ who are not ‘like us,’ is a dangerous temptation,” the pope said. “Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith. Faith opens a window to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures.”
Illustrating his point before the Mass, Pope Francis engaged in “little gestures” himself along the papal parade route to the Mass, kissing and blessing many babies brought to him from the sidewalk throngs by Secret Service agents, who themselves managed to cracked smiles after days of maintaining a stern demeanor as they guarded the pontiff.
Pope Francis recalled that Jesus encountered “hostility from people who did not accept what he said and did,” saying they thought it intolerable that Christ was open to honest and sincere faith from men and women who were not part of God’s chosen people.
“The disciples, for their part, acted in good faith. But the temptation to be scandalized by the freedom of God, who sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike, bypassing bureaucracy, officialdom and inner circles, threatens the authenticity of faith. Hence it must be vigorously rejected,” he said.
“Once we realize this, we can understand why Jesus’ words about causing ‘scandal’ are so harsh. For Jesus, the truly ‘intolerable’ scandal consists in everything that breaks down and destroys our trust in the working of the Spirit,” he continued.
Pope Francis held up the family as vital to building the church for the future. He said love must be freely shared for faith to grow.
“That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith,” he said.
“Little gestures” of love exist daily in the lives of family and serve to carry on God’s love as well, Pope Francis explained.
“These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family. They get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion,” he said.
“Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home.”
Pope Francis asked the worshipers to consider how they share God’s love with people in their families and in the world around them.
“What kind of world do we want to leave to our children?” he asked, referencing a line in his encyclical “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home.”
“Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions,” he continued. “The urgent challenge of protecting our home includes the effort to bring the entire human family together in the pursuit of a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.”
The pope asked the congregation to consider how they treat each other in their own home. “Do we shout or do we speak to each other with love and tenderness? That’s a good way of measuring our love.”
Calling the church to renew faith in the word of God, the pope said people can live prophetic lives as a “kind of miracle in today’s world.”
“Would that we could all be prophets. Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world, and thus overcome the scandal of a narrow, petty love, closed in on itself, impatient of others,” he said.
As the Mass concluded, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, who also was lead Vatican organizer of the World Meeting of Families, announced the next meeting will take place in Dublin, in 2018.
Six families, representing five continents, received copies of the Gospel of Luke. Families from Syria, Vietnam, France, Australia, Congo and Cuba were chosen for their church involvement and faith life. The Vatican also planned to distribute 100,000 copies of Luke’s Gospel in the families’ home countries.
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — While pilgrims in Philadelphia put up with a long weekend of lines and security checks at the papal venues, the pope reached out to a group of people whose lives are lines and security checks for years at a time.
Pope Francis spent about an hour at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. He entered the gymnasium from behind a blue curtain, walking up on to the small stage and carefully inspecting the large chair the inmates had made for him. He turned, with a big smile across his face, and gave the inmates a sincere Pope Francis thumbs up.
As the U.S. debates the need for penal reform, Pope Francis said prisons must focus on rehabilitation, and he insisted that no one is perfect and without need of forgiveness. While his speech was addressed primarily to the inmates, a small group of their family members, prison officials, state legislators and city officials, including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, also attended.
About 20 minutes before the pope arrived — ahead of schedule — Nutter greeted each of the inmates, who were wearing dark slacks and light blue scrubs, as they were led into the gym. Michele Farrell, prison warden, later told Catholic News Service that the pope “threw us a curveball by showing up early.”
The inmates were told to stay seated, and reporters, who were behind them, were told they could not speak to the inmates until after the pope left.
Deacon Ed Dymek, who ministers at the prison, told CNS, “There’s pope hope.”
The prisoners, who were chosen from among those with records for the best behavior, “are as excited as can be,” Deacon Dymek said. “This visit is hopefully inspiration for them to lead better lives.”
Pope Francis addressed the inmates in Spanish, “not English because I do not speak it well.” However, he said, his aide, Msgr. Mark Miles from the Vatican Secretariat of State, “does” speak well.
The pope also told the inmates he was visiting as a pastor, “but mostly as a brother.”
Serving time in prison is a painful time, said the pope, who continues to speak on the telephone with inmates he used to visit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. “Any society, any family, which cannot share or take seriously the pain of its children and views that pain as something normal or to be expected, is a society ‘condemned’ to remain a hostage to itself, prey to the very things which cause that pain.”
Pope Francis insisted Jesus “teaches us to see the world through his eyes — eyes which are not scandalized by the dust picked up along the way, but want to cleanse, heal and restore. He asks us to create new opportunities: for inmates, for their families, for correctional authorities, and for society as a whole.”
The pope spoke to the inmates about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, explaining that back in those days, people wore sandals and the roads were dusty. Everyone needed to have his or her feet cleaned. Often there were pebbles and stones, too, which hurt.
“Life is a journey, along different roads, different paths, which leave their mark on us,” the pope said. “We know in faith that Jesus seeks us out. He wants to heal our wounds, to soothe our feet, which hurt from traveling alone, to wash each of us clean of the dust from our journey.”
Jesus, the pope said, “doesn’t ask us where we have been, he doesn’t question us what about we have done.” Instead, Jesus washes peoples’ feet and gives them life.
“The Lord goes in search of us; to all of us he stretches out a helping hand,” the pope said. “It is painful when we see prison systems which are not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities.
“It is painful when we see people who think that only others need to be cleansed, purified, and do not recognize that their weariness, pain and wounds are also the weariness, pain and wounds of society,” Pope Francis continued.
The pope urged the prisoners to dedicate their time in prison to “getting back on the right road” and preparing to rejoin society.
After the pope left, Heriberto Mejia, a prisoner who uses a wheelchair, told CNS he asked the pope to pray for him.
“I feel so good. God has changed my heart,” said Mejia, who is awaiting trial on drug charges. “After this visit, we have to have to do better. … We can’t go back to doing things the same way.”
Dechon Adams, who was charged with a weapons offense, called it “beautiful” that the pope took the time to greet each prisoner — 11 women and close to 60 men — and offer his blessing.
Adams, who identified himself as Christian, agreed with Pope Francis’ explanation of Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet.
“We all need cleansing,” Adams said.
After 19 months in prison, the 23-year-old said the experience has been tough on both him and his family, though he’s found solace in faith.
“It’s harder for my family than me. It’s hard for them to see me like this,” he said.
“This is the most time that I’ve had to reflect and pray … get close to Jesus,” Adams said. “That’s all you can do.”
By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service
Contributing to this story was David Agren.
Washington: In a rare departure from protocol, the president, vice-president and their families turned up to greet the pontiff, underlining the huge expectations for a historic visit which will include talks at the White House and addresses to Congress, the United Nations and vast crowds in Washington, New York and Philadelphia.
The US and Vatican flags fluttered from the cockpit as the papal plane taxied to a halt where an honour guard, dignitaries, clerics and schoolchildren waited. A high school band had set the mood earlier with a rendition of Pharrell Williams’ Happy.
The 78-year-old Catholic leader smiled broadly as he touched US soil for the first time – and promptly received his first taste of US informality in the form of chants of “Francisco” and “Hey hey, ho ho, welcome to the USA!” (Rory Carroll- The Guardian)
Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia this weekend after stops in New York City and Washington, D.C.
The World Meeting of Families will start on Tuesday, September 22nd. Pope Francis will visit on Saturday, September 26th and Sunday, September 27th.
The itinerary for the pope includes eight public events in the city, including his arrival and departure from Atlantic Aviation.
He’ll visit the Independence Mall, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, and of course, the Ben Franklin Parkway.
The archdiocese is expecting a million and a half people to crowd the Parkway as the pope celebrates an open air mass at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Earlier in the day he will celebrate mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. That will be an invitation only event with tickets issued to just 1,600 people.
The pope will be staying at St. Charles Boromeo Seminary on City Avenue. He will greet the seminarians there when he arrives Saturday.
Sunday morning at the seminary he will address the cardinals and bishops who will be in town for the World Meeting of Families. He will then head to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia where he will meet with prisoners and select families.
The pontiff’s itinerary for his visit to the United States.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 (WASHINGTON, DC)
4:00 p.m. Arrival from Cuba at Joint Base Andrews
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 (WASHINGTON, DC)
9:15 a.m. Welcome ceremony and meeting with President Obama at the White House
11:00 a.m. Papal Parade along the Ellipse and the National Mall (time approximate)
11:30 a.m. Midday Prayer with the bishops of the United States, St. Matthew’s Cathedral
4:15 p.m. Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24 (WASHINGTON, DC, NEW YORK CITY)
9:20 a.m. Address to Joint Meeting of the United States Congress
11:15 a.m. Visit to St. Patrick in the City and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington
4:00 p.m. Depart from Joint Base Andrews
5:00 p.m. Arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport
6:45 p.m. Evening Prayer (Vespers) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 (NEW YORK CITY)
8:30 a.m. Visit to the United Nations and Address to the United Nations General Assembly
11:30 a.m. Multi-religious service at 9/11 Memorial and Museum, World Trade Center
4:00 p.m. Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School, East Harlem
5:00 p.m. Procession through Central Park (time approximate)
6:00 p.m. Mass at Madison Square Garden
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 (PHILADELPHIA)
9:30 a.m. Arrival at Atlantic Aviation
10:30 a.m. Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul
4:45 p.m. Independence Mall Address (This event is open to the public.)
7:30 p.m. Festival of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (This event is open to the public.)
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 (PHILADELPHIA)
9:15 a.m. Meeting with Bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
11:00 a.m. Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility Visit
4:00 p.m. Papal Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (This event is open to the public.)
8:00 p.m. Departure from Atlantic Aviation.
LEBANON: HH Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, the supreme head of Malankara Orthodox Church reached Lebanon to participate in the consecration of Holy Muron to be conducted by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, on Saturday, July 18, 2015.
The ceremony will be held at the St. Mary Monastery and the Genocide memorial monument in Bikfaya. The blessing of Muron is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
The blessing of the Holy Muron will take place in the evening, followed by the address of His Holiness Aram I.
On Sunday, July 19, Holy Liturgy will be celebrated at St. Gregory the Illuminator Mother Cathedral in Antelias presided over by His Holiness Aram I, who will conduct the blessing of water with the newly blessed Holy Muron. An Ecumenical Service will follow at the Genocide Memorial Chapel in Antelias with the participation of various church leaders and representatives.
Prelates from Oriental Orthodox Churches worldwide and members of the Holy See of Cilicia Brotherhood will participate in the ceremonies and events.
As the delegates of Malankara Orthodox Church, Metropolitan DO. yuhanon Mar Diascoros, Prof. Fr. Dr. Baby Varghese, Fr. Abraham Thomas,Dn. Shibu Kattil and Sabha Managing Committee Member Jacob Mathew Kulanjikombil are participating in this function along with the Catholicos.
ROME: An Italian expert studying a first century document written by the Roman historian Marcus Velleius Paterculus that was recently discovered in the archives of the Vatican, found what is presumed to be the first eyewitness account ever recorded of a miracle of Jesus Christ. The author describes a scene that he allegedly witnessed, in which a prophet and teacher that he names Iēsous de Nazarenus, resuscitated a stillborn boy and handed him back to his mother.
Historian and archivist Ignazio Perrucci, was hired by the Vatican authorities in 2012, to sort, analyze and classify some 6,000 ancient documents that had been uncovered in the gigantic archive vaults. He was already very excited when he noticed that the author of the text was the famous Roman historian Velleius, but he was completely stunned when he realized the nature of the content.
Professor Perrucci found the text in the archives of the Vatican while searching amongst a bundle of personal letters and other trivial documents dating from the Roman era.
The text as a whole is a narrative of the author’s return journey from Parthia to Rome that occurred in 31 AD, recorded in a highly rhetorical style of four sheets of parchment. He describes many different episodes taking place during his trip, like a violent sandstorm in Mesopotamia and visit a temple in Melitta (modern day Mdina, in Malta).
The part of the text that really caught M. Perrucci’s attention is an episode taking place in the city of Sebaste (near modern-day Nablus, in the West Bank). The author first describes the arrival of a great leader in the town with a group of disciples and followers, causing many of the lower class people from neighboring villages to gather around them. According to Velleius, that great man’s name was Iēsous de Nazarenus, a Greco-Latin translation of Jesus’ Hebrew name, Yeshua haNotzri.
Upon entering the town, Jesus would have visited the house of a woman named Elisheba, who had just given birth to a stillborn child. Jesus picked up the dead child and uttered a prayer in Aramaic to the heavens, which, unfortunately, the author describes as “immensus”, meaning incomprehensible. To the crowd’s surprise and amazement, the baby came back to life almost immediately, crying and squirming like a healthy newborn.
Marcus Velleius Paterculus, being a Roman officer of Campanian origins, seems to perceive Jesus Christ as a great doctor and miracle man, without associating him in any way to the Jewish concept of Messiah.
Many tests and analysis have been realized over the last weeks to determine the authenticity of the manuscript. The composition of the parchment and ink, the literary style and handwriting have all been carefully scrutinized and were considered to be entirely legitimate. The dating analysis also revealed that the sheepskin parchment on which the text is written, does indeed date from the 1st century of this era, more precisely from between 20-45 AD.
This new text from an author known for his reliability brings a brand new perspective on the life of the historical character that is Jesus of Nazareth. It comes to confirm the Gospels on the facts that he was known for accomplishing miracles and that his sheer presence in a town was enough to attract crowds of people.
A complete and official translation of the document should be made available online in many different languages over the next few weeks, but the impact of the discovery is already felt in the scientific community. Many scholars have already saluted the finding as one of the greatest breakthrough ever realized in the study of the historical life of Jesus, while others have expressed doubts about the conclusions of Professor Perrucci and demand for more tests to be performed by other scientific institutions before drawing any conclusions.
KOTTAYAM, India: HH Moran Mar Baselios Marthoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the East, will lead a delegation of the Indian Orthodox Church to Armenia from April 22-25.
This will be the maiden visit of the Catholicos to Vagharshapat, Armenia and is upon an invitation from His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church
The Primate will be the official guest along with other dignitaries and leaders at the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Armenians which will be commemorated on April 24, 2015. April 24 is the day when thousands of the Armenian community leaders of Constantinople (now Istanbul) were deported and mostly executed.
The Primate of the Indian Orthodox Church will be accompanied by a 5-member delegation. They include the Episcopal Synod Secretary Dr Mathews Mar Severios, Dr K M George, Director of Sopana Academy, clergymen in Fr Dr Jacob Kurien, Principal, OTS Orthodox Theological Seminary, OTS, and Fr Thomas Scaria.
The Catholicos will also lead the talks with His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia. The Armenian Apostolic Church is in communion with a group of churches within Oriental Orthodoxy.
It may be recalled that the Armenian Catholicos Aram I was conferred with the ‘Order of St Thomas’ in February 2010 at Kolenchery by LL Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Didymos I during his visit. ‘Order of St Thomas’ is the most prestigious honor by the Malankara Orthodox Church.
On the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Armenians, Pope Francis had described the mass killing by the Ottoman Empire as “the first genocide of the 20th century.”
HH Baselios Marthoma Paulose II is also visiting Lebanon in July to personally meet Catholicos Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia.
Vatican: International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and all the Oriental Orthodox Churches concluded on Friday, January 27 at the Vatican in Rome.
The weeklong discussions dealt with aspects of communion in the Early Church and ended with an audience with Pope Francis.
The five-day dialogue, which commenced on Monday, was aimed to finalize a joint document on Communion and Communication in the first five centuries of Christianity.
The Oriental Orthodox Churches are amongst the most ancient Christian communities in the world, founded according to tradition by the first apostles in Egypt, Armenia, Syria, India and Ethiopia in the decades following Christ’s death and Resurrection. They have not been in communion with either the Roman Catholic Church or the Byzantine Orthodox world since they officially severed ties in the 5th C.
Fr Gabriel Quicke, who’s in charge of relations with these Oriental Orthodox Churches at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity says the new document is significant for Christians today as it highlights the rich heritage the Churches shared in the first five centuries before the divisions took place…
He says the Commission will go on to a new round of discussions on the sacraments, especially the question of Baptism which is still not recognized by some of the Oriental Orthodox Churches…
Dr. Gabriel Mar Gregorios of Thiruvananthapuram Diocese and Dr. Yuhanon Mar Demetrios of Delhi Diocese represented Indian Orthodox Church in the dialogue.
NEW DELHI: President Barack Obama on Monday took in a grand display of Indian Military hardware, marching bands and elaborately dressed camels, becoming the first American leader to be honored as chief guest at India’s annual Republic Day festivities.
The crowd erupted in cheers as Obama, along with first lady Michelle Obama, emerged from his armored limousine and took his place on the rain-soaked parade route in the capital of New Delhi. The parade was the centerpiece of Obama’s three-day visit to India, which is aimed at strengthening a relationship between the world’s largest democracies that has at times been fraught with tension and suspicion.
Obama’s attendance at the Republic Day celebrations was unlike any other event he has participated in during his overseas travel as president. He spent about two hours on an outdoor viewing platform, an unusual amount of time given Secret Service security concerns.
Republic Day marks the anniversary of India’s democratic constitution taking force in 1950. Beyond the show of military power, the parade included ornate floats highlighting India’s cultural diversity. Obama gave a thumbs-up to the acrobatic balancing act of several groups of men on motorbikes while Mrs. Obama smiled broadly at dance performance by young children.
Following the parade, the Obamas was to attend a reception along with dignitaries at Rashtrapati Bhawan, the sprawling presidential palace.
Obama said Modi’s “strong personal commitment to the US-India relationship gives us an opportunity to further energize these efforts.” And the Indian leader declared that “the chemistry that has brought Barack and me closer has also brought Washington and Delhi closer.”
Obama was to close the visit Tuesday with a speech to young people. He had planned to tour the Taj Mahal, India’s famed white marble monument of love, but scrapped that stop and instead will go to Saudi Arabia to pay respects to the royal family following King Abdullah’s death