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The Varangian Solution?

The following article, here translated from the Russian by Nina Dimas, appeared on four websites tied to the Church of Russia. The article reads:

"Clerics of the Orthodox Church in America propose Bishop Hilarion (Alfeev) of Vienna to be the head of their Church

Oct. 30, 2008

In an open letter addressed to the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko proposed Bishop Hilarion (Alfeev) of Vienna and Austria, to be the head of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) (here)

Such a possibility, of course, "would require Bishop Hilarion's agreement to be considered as a candidate for election, and the permission of the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate allowing him to do so", notes the Protopresbyter.

A well-known theologian, dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Academy in New York from 1992 to 2002, author of the book "Fundamentals of Orthodoxy", Fr. Thomas believes that the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America must turn to Bishop Hilarion and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church with a corresponding request. "It might be what the present moment requires from us", - concludes the author of the letter.

Previously a similar letter was addressed to the delegates of the upcoming All-American Council by Archpriest Andrew Moore, priest-in-charge of the Church of the Holy Apostle Thomas in Springfield, Missouri: "We must have a Metropolitan who is a proven gentle shepherd but capable of leadership even when Christ-like action is not popular. ... I ask each and every priest and parish representative to prayerfully reflect and vote in the first round without fluctuations in the hope that Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) was as follows Metropolitan Orthodox Church in America ".

"We need to pray and cry out to Holy God that the Moscow Patriarchate will let him come to serve us. And, that we let him know by our prayers that he is needed here", - concludes the priest.

Fr. Andrew's letter created a lively discussion on the site "Orthodox Christians for Accountability". In particular, Priest John Scollard of the OCA's Albanian diocese believes that before voting in favor of Bishop Hilarion, one must consult with Bishop Basil (Osborne), who left the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate in 2006. (here)

On her part, a laywoman from New York, Rebecca Matovich believes that "There is simply no other way to interpret the election of an ROC bishop as Metropolitan than as a move toward being re-united with Moscow". (here)

The same internet site published a letter in support of the candidacy of Bishop Hilarion. One was signed by Archimandrite Jonah (Paffhauzen), whose episcopal consecration is set for November 1; by Marquette University professor, Hieromonk Alexander (Golitsyn); and by the Dean of St. Tikhon's Seminary, Archpriest Michael Dahulich."

 (Editor's note: The article's claim that there was a letter signed by Frs. Jonah, Dahulich and Golitzyn is wrong. The comment to OCANews happened to list their names as other possible candidates; the author misread the list of candidates as their signatures. (here)

 The article continues:

"Another letter, signed by Father John Peck, says: "Bishop Hilarion would be an excellent candidate ... If Moscow will release him to lead us, what might better strengthen the ties between various Russian Orthodox churches  and even the various jurisdictions in America?"

The election of the head of the Orthodox Church in America will take place at the All-American Council which opens in Pittsburgh on November 11."

You can find this article in its Russian original at


- Mark Stokoe




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