OCA ROMANIAN LAY LEADERS
ASK FOR OPEN DISCUSSION
In the wake of Antioch's suppression of its American dioceses, thirty-one lay leaders of the OCA's Romanian Episcopate, including many former presidents and board members of the women's auxiliary ARFORA, the youth movement AROY, the Orthodox Brotherhood and the Episcopate Council, have expressed their frustration in an open letter to the Episcopate's Bishops, clergy and laity regarding the current lack of information regarding the proposed "unification" of the OCA's Romanian Episcopate and the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas under the Romanian Patriarchate in Bucharest.
Disinformation from Romania
The Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate, on the other hand, is insisting through its publications that unification has already taken place, In two articles from the Romanian Patriarchate Daily (Jan 7 and 8, 2009), sketching the history of Romanian Orthodoxy in North America, the OCA's Romanian Episcopate is never mentioned - despite being the original, largest and for decades the only Romanian church body in North America. The Episcopate is finally mentioned in the January 9th article, but then, only in relation "to the unity which was achieved in 2008"! The article states:
"The two Romanian Orthodox Eparchies in America and Canada decided in 2008 to unite under the canonical and spiritual administration of the Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR), after over six decades of separation. The act of unity is the result of the dialogue between hierarchs, priests and laity of both eparchies, a dialogue encouraged by the Romanian Patriarchate. The new structure is called the 'Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Both Americas'."
Such misstatements, or rather overstatements, are not new to Bucharest. The Patriarchate released a similiar statement after the two Diocesan congresses last July (Read that story here) and then quickly pulled it off the Patriarchate website. (Read that story here). Was such a bold public re-statement now just another error, based on wishful thinking? Whatever it was, it was sure to elicit a response ...
And that response was outrage, at least from ROEANews.info, a Romanian Orthodox website which tracks the status of the unity proposal. "How many LIES can you fit into 3 sentences?" the editor asked. "This must win that contest. More importantly, let us not forget that these LIES are perpetrated in the Official daily newspaper of the Romanian Patriarchate. The Patriarchate condones these LIES."
No Information from the Vatra
If misinformation from Romania is irritating many, the lack of information from the Vatra, the headquarters of the Romanian Episcopate in Michigan, or from Archbishop Nathaniel, is frustrating others.
Archbishop Nathaniel has indicated that no real, open discussion should occur until there is a 'final' proposal on the table. Although a 'modified' proposal was offered this past Saturday in Cleveland at the Episcopate Council meeting, the Archbishop left the door open for further comments and possible changes, emphasizing that 'due diligence' must be observed.
As a result, it now seems clear that the Romanian Episcopate will not be able to meet deadlines laid out in Episcopate by-laws for reports (from committees set up at the last Congress) to be distributed to delegates for the upcoming Congress, July 3-5, 2009. But the Archbishop's delays are not the only reason: the legal counsel for the Episcopate has posed 40 questions for the Patriarchal Romanian Archdiocese in America on matters affecting a possible union of the two dioceses, with no response.
Thus, the lay leader's complaint, that the "unification" proposal between the OCA's Romanian Archdiocese and the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate "has yet to be openly and fully discussed ten months" after it was first presented. (Read that story here). Stating "there is no point in rushing or attempting to prematurely vote on this matter", the lay leaders argue that it would be best to "completely understand all the facts before we decide on this current Unity proposal."
The full text of their letter follows:
"AN OPEN LETTER
March 17, 2009
Dear Archbishop Nathaniel, Bishop Irineu, Clergy and Members of our Vatra Episcopate:
We are in the midst of a very serious decision that all of us will have to make in the near future. Do we change our Canonical status from being in the Orthodox Church in America to the Orthodox Church of Romania?
We have been separated into two Romanian Canonical bodies for over 60 years. However, we have grown strong in our Episcopate, within the OCA, under the able leadership of our Hierarchs; Archbishop Valerian and Archbishop Nathaniel.Our life is in Jesus Christ. Our home is in North America. We are citizens of the United States and Canada and we love our Romanian heritage.
The laity has a voice in our Church here in North America and they are instrumental in building a strong Orthodox Church and presence on this Continent.
The merit of this canonical unification proposal under the Church of Romania has yet to be openly and fully discussed and presented to us. Until we receive more facts and evidence in regards to the proposed Canonical unity under Romania through SOLIA, the Episcopate website and publicly discuss this matter openly in our Deaneries and Parishes, there is no point in rushing or attempting to prematurely vote on this matter. At present, the only place we have to obtain the full range of information is on www.roeanews.info , an independent website set up by a concerned group of Episcopate members.
Therefore, let us completely understand all the facts before we decide on this current Unity proposal. We believe an informed Episcopate; hierarchs, clergy and faithful, will make the right decision together.
Yours in Orthodoxy,
Members of the ROEA - OCA
SIGNATURES FOR THE OPEN LETTER FROM LAY LEADERS OF THE ROMANIAN ORTHODOX EPISCOPATE OF AMERICA,
including former Presidents & Councilors:
ARFORA, AROY, ORTHODOX BROTHERHOOD & EPISCOPATE COUNCIL
LIMBESON, Psa. Betty
YAZGE, Psa. Stefani (Yova)
YOVA, Psa. Sylvia
ZABLO, David "