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[orthodox-synod] Fwd: Scandal for Orthodoxy in Portugal 2

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  • intrprtr@prodigy.net
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 21, 2000
      >The following article appeared today in "Publico", a national Portuguese
      > From “Publico”, 2nd February, 2000
      >Cult of Ladeira do Pinheiro began 40 years ago
      >By Manuel Fernandes Vicente, with Antonio Marujo
      >“Many of the believers who went there believe that today, 2nd February
      >2000, something very important will happen in Ladeira do Pinheiro, a place
      >of pilgrimage in the district of Torres Novas. One thing is sure: the
      >heads of the Orthodox Church of Portugal and Spain and some guests from
      >various Orthodox communities from several countries are presiding at the
      >consecration of the Basilica of Our Lady of All Grace.
      >The mystery surrounding the date was determined long ago by the visionary
      >Maria da Conceicao Mendes Horta (the “Saint of Ladeira”). For believers,
      >the date has its own symbolism, which comes from the fact that it is the
      >40th day after Christmas, 40 years after the important events in Ladeira
      >do Pinheiro, further associated with the “round” year of 2000.
      >The future Orthodox cathedral, larger in size than the basilica in Fatima
      >and with the characteristics of a hybrid between Orthodox and Catholic
      >churches, has space to hold some four thousand faithful. But today it
      >could be small for the many thousands of visitors to the locale who are
      >“Mother Maria”, as Maria da Conceicao Horta is known among the faithful
      >and the members of the religious community of Ladeira, was enthroned two
      >years ago as abbess by the primate of the Orthodox Church (Metropolitan
      >Joao, of Lisbon) and is the central figure in all religious activity in
      >the area.
      >Special powers, visions of the Virgin Mary and the effecting of miracles
      >are gifts which believers in the cult attribute to “Mother Maria” and
      >which have caused lively polemics concerning her. Initially, Maria da
      >Conceicao attempted to have the Catholic Church recognize the phenomenon
      >as supernatural. Without success: in 1967, one of the auxiliary bishops
      >of Lisbon suggested to the Minister of Health that the visionary be
      >interned. And the Catholic hierarchy concluded that such events were not
      >trustworthy. In consequence, the visionary and the Orthodox Church of
      >Portugal came together and the latter took charge of the sanctuary.
      >It is a long time, therefore, since Maria da Conceicao was arrested on
      >charges of witchcraft and the place of pilgrimage was the target of acts
      >of violence between the police authorities and pilgrims. After 25th April
      >1974, the religious freedom which materialized in fact guaranteed greater
      >stability for the cult, which, meanwhile, remained stationary in terms of
      >the number of followers. The reanimation of Ladeira, brought about by the
      >cathedral to be inaugurated today, is one of the aspects predicted by the
      >whole local community.
      >On account of the connection with Ladeira, the Orthodox Church of Portugal
      >is the object of criticism from other Orthodox Churches. The Portuguese
      >branch of the Greek Orthodox Church has always been against the idea,
      >defended at the sanctuary, that Maria da Conceicao is the reincarnation of
      >the Virgin Mary, since reincarnation is a doctrine foreign to
      >Christianity. Neither is communion from bloody wafers ­ a phenomenon
      >already witnessed in Ladeira ­ common in Orthodox Christianity. And the
      >institutional connection also provokes differences: the Greek Orthodox say
      >that the Orthodox Church of Portugal is not recognized by the Ecumenical
      >Patriarchate of Constantinople, or by the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in
      >Paris, the organization which co-ordinates the Orthodox communities of
      >western Europe, where Catholic and Protestant Christianity are the majority.”
      >Manuel Fernandes Vicente, with Antonio Marujo
      >Translated by Ivan Moody
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