Opinion of a Lay Person:
The Orthodox Bishops' Conference
in New York, May 2010
by Alexandru Nemoianu
Historian: "Valerian D.Trifa .Romanian-American Heritage Center"
A Conference of the Orthodox canonical bishops of North America was convened by the Greek Archdiocese in New York toward the end of May, 2010.The timing was supposed to "fire up" the Hellenists, as the date coincided with the time of the fall of Constantinople. In my opinion it was a pretty cheap machination.
From the scant information provided to the faithful it seem that the scope of the Conference ,at least officially, was an effort to solve the problem of Orthodox canonical unity in North America. There were a number of speeches, that were made available to the faithful and, no doubt, even more numerous "discussions" and attempts to cut deals that were and will not be made public.
Considering that the Conference was convened under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, i.e. of "Phanar", the Patriarchate of Istanbul , such sort of dealings should not be a surprise. However what was, and is obvious, is that two main " point of views" emerged:
One is that Orthodox North America should be a submissive subordinate of the Old World.
The other one is that Orthodox North America should be an equal among equals, it should have its own canonical independence.
The proponents of the first point of view used their two, and only " arguments": phyletism and ethnocentrism, although the latter was used rather indirectly.
The promoters of the second point of view used serious, mature and canonical arguments - especially that Orthodox jurisdictions always were and should be local.
A few things were significant .
The insulting term "Diaspora", used by the bodies of the Old World when referring to the North American Orthodox faithful, was rejected and ridiculed. That approach, the rejection of the term "Diaspora", was accepted(reluctantly) even by the representatives of tsubordination to the Old World canonical bodies. That was not merely a semantic correction, it was a question of essence. The Conference accepted that the North American Orthodox are a people in its own right and consequently it would be impossible to deny them the right to canonical autocephaly in the future.
The pathetic ethnic "argument" was not even mentioned during the debates, considered unworthy of consideration.
Equally significant was the fact that the OCA was impossible to be ignored even under the circumstance that tremendous,disproportionate efforts were made by the Istanbul' Patriarchate to such an end.
The OCA was the eight hundred gorilla in the room. In fact, even if, officially and under the pressures of the Patriarch of Istanbul, it was not recognized as an "autocephalous entity", it was the one body who won the day. The canonical and pastoral message the OCA stands for, that is, North American Orthodox autocephaly was, in fact, directly and indirectly accepted. The OCA's way proved again to be the way for North America's Orthodox future.
In this context His Eminence Jonah, the OCA's Metropolitan, offered an outstanding example of personal and genuine humility -a quality that became "rara avis" among the Orthodox hierarchs.
(In regard to a rather not-so-important matter, I would like to say that Metropolitan Nicolae of the Romanian Patriarchate's "contraption" in North America, was very cunning, audacious and street smart in promoting himself, or at least trying to, as the "leader" of the Romanian-American Orthodox(which he is not). That should be a warning for the "Vatra "Episcopate when dealing with him or his underlings.)
In conclusion I would dare say that the Conference was a fiasco and a strategic defeat for the promoters of the subordination of American Orthodoxy toward the Old World canonical bodies.
In my opinion the Conference was a failed attempt and a defeat for the Patriarchate of Istanbul and its dreams about "imperial" authority.
The "big guns" of that body, representing less than two thousand Orthodox faithful in its See, misfired.
In my opinion, for the North American Orthodox faithful, and that includes the Romanian-Americans and their beloved "Vatra" Episcopate, there is only one way: OCA all the way.