An orthodox priest in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia says he was forced to resign after giving a sermon about the importance of honoring the Jewish roots of Christianity and praying for Israel.
The Canadian Jewish News (CJN) reports that on August 12, Father Vladimir Tobin, the head priest of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Church in Halifax, was told he must leave the church due to the “Jewish twist in your ministry.”
Tobin told CJN he received the letter calling for his resignation from Orthodox Church in America Archbishop Irénée, the archbishop of Ottawa and Canada.
“I’ve always been straightforward,” Father Tobin, 77, told CJN. “Have always spoken my mind.”
Tobin’s grandmother was Jewish but he was baptized into orthodox Christianity. He earned a doctorate in Egyptology at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University in 1985. He recently visited Israel in May for the first time since he graduated more than 30 years ago.
During his time in ministry, Father Tobin refused to ignore the anti-Semitism he saw in the church.
“I was happy in Orthodoxy, but felt there was some anti-Jewishness there. I wrote a piece for publication, but was told by my superiors that it was ‘too Jewish.’ That increased my determination that Christianity grew from Judaism. My own theology recognized a faith that started with Abraham and grew through the centuries through Christ,” he said.
Father Tobin received a letter from Archbishop Irénée in April telling him to resign after hearing complaints that he regularly prayed for Israel during his church services.
But Father Tobin did not back down and responded to the archbishop by writing: “It is true that I regularly pray for both Israel and United States, its armies and its president, and for ‘the land of Israel and the armies which protect her.’ What is to prevent us for praying for other countries that need it? The U.S. and Israel are our allies and need our support for peace in the Middle East. There are precedents of praying for other nations within our tradition. My prayers are mainly intended to advance peace in the Middle East .”
Archbishop Irénée reinstated Tobin as priest over St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Church after facing outrage from The Parish Council. However, Archbishop Irénée ultimately decided to fire Father Tobin again last month.
Click here to read more.