Tuesday, October 19. 2010
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All this writing to try and justify the existance of the OCA! Not even all existing churches justify it, but here is all this writing.
Folks, it's simple. Hand back the Tomos and go back to the Russians, hat in hand. You can do it now, with humility and love and be rewarded for it, or you can do it later in scandal and humiliation. Your choice, but it will almost for sure be done.
(Editor's note: LOL! You seem to think scandal is a bad thing. Scandal is cleaning up what needs cleaning up: pretending or ignoring problems is when a church is in real trouble, not when they are openly dealing with issues. And friend, if you think scandal is a reason for "handing back a tomos" ( it is not a bad purchase you can return, btw), there would not be an autocephalous church left in the world. Nor one in Constantinople either. Or Rome. So take a deep breath, and relax. The OCA, scandals and all, are here to stay, and mommy russia, or daddy putin, won't make things better. Only we can. Slowly, and resolutely, and with the help of our Lord.)
#1 Anonymous on 2010-10-19 09:08
#1.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2010-10-19 11:36
I was initially accepted into an OCA parish, and then depending on where I lived have belonged to a variety of other Orthodox Churches. I never felt the OCA wanted to proclaim itself the only Orthodox Church fit for the USA, but rather, that it saw itself as a beginning to an end, one step in bringing all of the other Orthodox Archioceses together. That others felt jealous or insulted by this first step is unfortunate. What I'd just like to see now is everyone looking forward. Where do we want the Church here in America to be in ten years? in fifty years? in two hundred years? and then begin to move that direction, one step at a time.
#1.2 Sean O'Clare on 2010-10-21 09:17
Thank God for Fr Thomas!
#2 Delegate #1 on 2010-10-19 09:58
I wish Fr. Hopko had been even more clear and explicit in rejecting as an abomination his vision of a Vaticanized Orthodoxy. This is, of course, exactly the direction in which Orthodoxy is moving under the "leadership" of Bartholomew and his fellow quislings in the virtually defunct ancient Patriarchates.
Good Lord deliver us!
#3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-10-19 10:37
I love Fr. Hopko, this has nothing to do with him but I am getting a feeling that OCA members think they are the only right Orthodox Church in America. Just because your name says Orthodox Church in America doesn't mean you are the only Orthodox Church in America.
This reminds me of how the GOA upper management seemed to me too. Is all this trying to bring people to the OCA through a term called "unity". It's a real church, but not the ONLY real church seen in America. We all got flaws yes. The Church is the Orthodox Faith and People...not the Jurisdiction.
(Editor's note: No one, least of all Fr. Tom, is claiming the OCA is the "only real church" in America, or that everyone has to "join" this jurisdiction. But it is not the case that the Orthodox Faith and People are the "Church"; the organization does matter. Otherwise we could all be Lutherans, and call it a day. Thus the writers are affirming, it seems to me, that the OCA is the Church, but perhaps not its sole expression on this continent; and that unity does matter, but it should be created affirmatively, freely, joyfully, not through coercion.)
#4 Happy on 2010-10-19 12:00
I know Fr. Tom doesn't mean this. I wasn't talking about Fr. Tom. I was talking about the reinforcement of everyone saying the OCA is the only canonical church in America or "Real" church. I was just saying it's the people of the faith that are the Church without a label on what jurisdiction etc (take this loosely of course).
It does matter what organization your it, I never meant to sound like I'm a Lutheran or we might as well be Lutherans. I said the people. We are united through Christ and the Sacraments first and foremost, this should overshadow any differences between jurisdictions - which i believe it does in all honesty. But I was saying that everyone on this website is for the OCA to absorb every other jurisdiction due to them being an autocephilous church. I beg to differ. I would of course if our entire archdiocese merged. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to create one church, but the OCA will not and can not say it is a Russian church from that point on. It will have to be the ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA which is equally recognized from that point as all the other cultures including the one we live in most. I may sound like I'm off the wall on this because I don't know what I'm talking about at this point, I've never merged jurisdictions before so please everyone spare me the criticism. haha.
(editor's note: God knows my parish, my diocese, is hardly Russian, although there are Russians in both. We are Americans, and share our culture's committment to cultural diversity. How could the OCA be anything but? I suggest you read the Tomos of Autocephaly again, and the "answers to Autocephaly" on the OCA website again. There is no cultural, ecclesiological or any other kind of triumphalism implied in the OCA's autocephaly. It is simply a recognition that we are established enough to decide our own course, rather than being told by people thousands of miles away, speaking other languages, with different histories, cultures and goals, telling us how to witness the Gospel. There is not reason in the world the OCA couldn't merge with any other jurisdiction - it has with 3 others already; other than human failings. Americans, left to their own devices, are pragmatists. We can make it work, if given a chance. It's what we are. )
#4.1 Happy on 2010-10-20 06:25
Mark, can you delete my last comment, after re-reading it it was pretty poorly written much like this sentence. I appreciate it in advance. It was written today at around 8:20am ish. God bless. Happy
(Editor's note: And lose my great comment? Please let me keep your point! We all appreciate early morning spelling. Or late night speling, as it were. Oops!)
#4.2 Happy to Mark on 2010-10-20 06:28
+ Philip knows better! The Greeks within the last 20 years have had a series of SERIOUS scandals kept hush-hush. Under + Iakavos, there were two massive real estate scandals where millions disappeared. In the AOCA, money scandals have happened over & over again along with serious clerical scandals - all kept hush-hush. The OCA went public with it's issues inorder to clean house. So, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!"
#5 Anonymous on 2010-10-19 14:20
Fr. Tom is exactly correct! He verifies all that many people have been saying. The Episcopal Assemblies are nothing more that + Bart trying to gain full control of all churches world wide. Amazing that many hierarchs can't see through this. + Bart doesn't bring unity for all the Orthodox in N. Am., he brings suppression under his thumb. Well, the OCA IS NOT going there! The people have spoken and will continue to speak. If we need to retire our hierarchs who wish to compromise the OCA's autocephaly, so be it!
#6 Anonymous on 2010-10-19 14:29
I understand Fr. Hopko's use of the reference to Vatican II, I wish definitions of Orthodoxy and Orthodox ecclesiology could be self sustaining and not underpinned vis a vis Tent, Vatican I, Vatican II, this pope, that pope...it gets old. Aren't we a little more grown up than this?
#7 Anonymous on 2010-10-19 15:20
On the contrary, most Orthodox & their bishops aren't aware of the difference between RC ecclesiology regarding bishops and Orthodox. There is a BIG difference! For instance, bishops (patriarchs) are elected ONLY FOR A PARTICULAR SEE. They have no authority outside of that see. For this reason alone, no foreign bishop has any authority in N. America. Canonically, every bishop in N. America (not in the OCA) can break ties with their foreign bishop overseer and claim autonomy. This is exactly what every bishop in the Episcopal Assembly should do NOW. Then, form a new autocephalous American Church, choose their own head and American unity issues solved.
#7.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-20 06:30
What should the OCA do now?- Why change anything now? " First, WE began as a mission to America for Americans." "Our mission is NOT to preserve an ethnic heritage imported from the old world..." Well, what about the ROEA? Foriegn Clergy, Deacons, Priests & a Romanian Bishop! WHO's "WE" ? If you started your church that way, why did you change and let in the "FREE ROMANIANS"? Was it just for the money they pay you every year ? Surly you're not recommitted to that end. If this is your unique vision and ideas that have guided you this far GOOD LUCK & Many Years.
(Editor's note: First, the ROEA- OCA relationship is not, and was not ever, predicated on money. They pay a nominal membership fee, that's it. They are not counted as "members" in terms of our assessment structure. Secondly, joining the OCA does not mean any group has to forfeit its ethnic identity. Surely your idea of America and Americans includes cultural diversity? The OCA's does.)
#7.1.1 Gregory Anonymous on 2010-10-20 18:54
All of us who participated in the Retreat that Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko led for the Metropolitan Council and the Holy Synod rejoiced and gave thanks to God for his presentations, his clarity, his historical perspective and his insights. His submission to this website is another precious offering and his analysis of what is really happening in the old world patriarchates seems clear and prophetic.
What should we in the OCA do now? My response would be "nothing special." We need to reaffirm our identity, the characteristics of our Church which are unique to us and to recommit ourselves to the vision and ideals that have guided us since 1794. And I think these are two:
First, we began as a mission to America, for Americans. The Valaam monks evangelized Alutiiq and Unangan Aleut peoples along the southern shores of the Alaska territory; St. Juvenaly perished at the hands of Yup'ik hunters after baptizing hundreds of Athabaskan Indians in the area around Cook Inlet/Anchorage today. St. Innocent continued to the mission among the Tlingit, St. Jacob to the interior tribes, both Eskimo and Indian. When Alaska was transferred to US rule, Veniaminov recommended that headquarters be moved to San Francisco, and that a cathedral be built and a bishop appointed who spoke English and that services in California be celebrated in English, that converts be ordained to serve the Orthodox Church in America.
Second, St. Patriarch Tikhon, during his decade of archpastoral ministry in North America, concluded that the Church here had to restore the conciliar governance that existed in ancient times, and he introduced conciliarity in Russia upon his return. We are the only Church that does not receive state support: the two-headed Byzantine Eagle, the emblem of the harmony or "symphonia" that represented the ideal of cooperation between church and state in the Old World, could not apply in North America, or rather, perhaps the "government" (who paid the salaries and built, as well as maintained the church property and buildings) in the New World would be not an emperor, king or tsar, but the People of God, the Laity.
These two pillars are, it seems to me, fundamental to our identity as members of the OCA and they are, in my mind, clearly non-negotiable. We are not a transplanted community, a diaspora from some other place, and we are not trying to retain or recover an identity brought here from somewhere else. Our mission is not to preserve an ethnic heritage imported from the Old World, but to bring Orthodoxy to the people of the New. I don't think any other Orthodox community here can truthfully state that this is their concept of their purpose, their mission, in North America.
And we are alone in our commitment to Conciliarity as well, which required us to wash our dirty laundry in public, so to speak, rather than hide our faults and failings. But look what autocephaly meant to Alaska: we were able, across the continent, despite certain set backs and inconsistencies, to intervene in a tragic situation and correct it. Had we been required to submit this decision to a foreign patriarchate, I am certain I would not be writing this note as a priest, let alone as acting chancellor of this diocese. Being able to deal with our own problems and resolve them in an open and honest way, with the entire Church, clergy, hierarchy and laity, acting "with one heart and one mind" certainly demonstrated the presence, action and grace of the Holy Spirit. It was a triumph of our autocephaly, without which the outcome would have most certainly been quite different.
There were several crises in the OCA in those years, not just the financial but the governance issue, the pastoral problems here and, I write to remind all the readers here, the OCA came out of all that confusion and turmoil with renewed confidence. We are stronger now, having passed endured those trials.
I would urge polite cooperation with the Episcopal Assembly, but in no way would I want us to submit to it, nor imply that our canonical authority is derived from it. And if we must stand alone, so be it.
God is with us. That has been our most recent experience, at least here in Alaska, and the autocephaly of the OCA was absolutely critical to addressing our difficult and painful situation. The entire church participated in our "liberation" and for that we give thanks and rejoice. No other "jurisdiction" could have handled the problems the way the OCA did, and the OCA could not have done so were it not for its autocephaly.
Father Michael Oleksa
#8 Father Michael Oleksa on 2010-10-19 17:22
God bless you, Fr. Michael! Great & wonderful words filled with wisdom. Please continue to add sanity to the issues regarding our American Church. There are so many people pushing & pulling in many directions without a clear vision of what the American Church is and should be. Thank you!
#8.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-19 20:22
I am a little concerned that some of my fellow Orthodox Christians (perhaps including Fr. Hopko) don't quite understand the Episcopal Assembly. It is not a permanent body. It is transitional. Its purpose is to lay the groundwork for a future unified American Orthodox Church. Folks need to read the official EA documents for themselves. No one "derives" their "canonical authority" from the EA, and no one has or will "submit" to it, as the good Fr. Michael Oleksa suggests. It is more than SCOBA, but it is not some sort of permanent arm of the EP or the "Old World" Churches to control us in America.
I do appreciate the general concerns about the Mother Churches and their possible hidden agendas. I just think we need to recognize that the leadership of the EA (including people like Bishop Basil and Bishop Maxim) aren't mere puppets. We should also have a little patience, and wait to see what the EA actually does. There is a great deal of speculation, but little actual knowledge. In many respects this is inevitable, but it would be good for us to avoid rushing to judgment.
I am a little concerned that some of my fellow Orthodox Christians (perhaps including Fr. Hopko) don’t quite understand the Episcopal Assembly. It is not a permanent body. It is transitional. Its purpose is to lay the groundwork for a future unified American Orthodox Church. Folks need to read the official EA documents for themselves. No one “derives” their “canonical authority” from the EA, and no one has or will “submit” to it, as the good Fr. Michael Oleksa suggests. It is more than SCOBA, but it is not some sort of permanent arm of the EP or the “Old World” Churches to control us in America.
I do appreciate the general concerns about the Mother Churches and their possible hidden agendas. I just think we need to recognize that the leadership of the EA (including people like Bishop Basil and Bishop Maxim) aren’t mere puppets. We should also have a little patience, and wait to see what the EA actually does. There is a great deal of speculation, but little actual knowledge. In many respects this is inevitable, but it would be good for us to avoid rushing to judgment.
Editor’s note: Alas, Ferris, the issue is not that we don’t understand the Episcopal Assembly, but that we perhaps understand it too well. In a sentence, the EA suffers from having put the cart before the horse. If its purpose is, as you say, to lay the “groundwork for a future, unified American Orthodox Church”, shouldn’t there be a least a tacit, if not overt, commitment by the ancient Patriarchates for such a thing? And yet, not one has said this is the goal, let alone that they would support such an outcome. Not one. Nada. Zip. Zero. Null. And yet, the EA wants me, and hundreds like me in North America, to volunteer years of service to create the outlines of a church that no one in Europe or the Middle East even will admit they want, or will allow; let alone agree to be autocephalous? In the end, aren’t you just hoping that “If we build it, they will come around?”
Dear friend, life is too short. Sad to say, the EA, as presently conceived and organized, is a distraction, a divertissement in the Pascalian sense, a waste of time, even if "+Basil and +Maxim are not puppets." It’s purpose, according to its founding documents, is to “organize the Diaspora”, not to create a “future unified American Church”. Those wonderous expressions of yours exist nowhere in the Chambesy documents. It is misleading to people to suggest otherwise. Chambesy’s purpose, and subsequently the EA’s is to legitimate a dysfunctional situation, and any expression of any hopes beyond that is just that - an expression of hope, based on desire. Alas, given the past century, and current actions of the Patriarchates, it is more reasonable to expect that their goal is not just to legitimate the dysfunction, but to perpetuate it. That is not cynicism, but the truth of history. Thirty-some jurisdictions testify to its truth.
Ferris, I respect your hope, although I see no hope in this process; and I respect your desire. But neither do I share your desire, for you see, there is already an Orthodox Church in America, one that is already autocephalous. If I am going to be asked to spend my efforts and money to create another American Orthodox Church, doesn’t it make more sense to spend it on the “bird in the hand”, rather than on a ephemeral “two in some-future, not-even promised- bush”? Agreed, many do not like that existing American Church - fair enough. I am one of its biggest critics. Join the club. And I mean that literally. Because it would seem to me the more reasonable course is to fix the one that actually exists, which many are trying to do, than spend decades trying to create another for which there is no commitment even to allow it to exist, should it even be created on paper, after years of work. If the ancient Patriarchates are so dead set against one that already exists, you really believe they will allow a bigger, better, unified, Church “of America”, rather than “in America”, to take its place? Sorry, that is not a dream, or desire, or hope: that is a delusion, and ends where all delusion does - in disappointment.
Let one of them, just one, affirm their goal is an autocephalous, fully united, American Orthodox Church, and I will look again at the EA as a potential way forward. But until one does, it remains a waste of time and effort, an episcopal mask to cover our dysfunction, no matter what good it may accomplish in bringing increased order to our dysfunction. does.. The world needs to see our true face, not another, albeit better ordered, mask.)
#8.2 Ferris Haddad on 2010-10-19 21:31
"We should also have a little patience." It seems the same thing was said by whites to black people in this country who took seriously the "All men are created equal" part of our country's founding documents. The only thing is, the black people said, "400 is more than enough time to have patience!" Well, vis-a-vis, I apply the same situation here: We have had almost a century of multi-jurisdictions in this country, which both Fr John Meyendorff and Fr Thomas Hopko have called heretical!! I think that, in this instance, also, we have had more than enough patience!!!
#8.2.1 David Barrett on 2010-10-20 18:56
The comparison of our multi-jurisdictional situation with the slavery of an entire race is absurd. Yes, our situation is uncanonical and needs to change, but the idea that it can even be mentioned in the same sentence with crimes against humanity is silliness.
Anyone with any real understanding of American Orthodox history knows that there have been several past attempts to create a unified Church, but all have failed in part because they were not sufficiently inclusive (not all jurisdictions were involved) and they did not have the cooperation of the Mother Churches (or, as some perjoratively call them, "the Old World"). Perhaps there is some grand conspiracy, some backroom deal hatched between Moscow and Constantinople to appease the masses and take full control over the so-called disapora. I am unaware of any evidence for this, but even if there is -- so what? They told us to organize ourselves, so we should do just that. If there is a conspiracy, then let us in America resolve to use the ambitions of others to create our own Church, and from that position of strength, we can have a real say in our future. "Man meant it to me for evil, but God for good."
This is the first effort of its kind, and it is substantially different from SCOBA and all that came before. I say "have patience" because the EA is six months old, and some of you are already declaring it a failure.
(Editor's note: Well said, but I have one question. What is that " position of strength" from which America is to leverage its position so it can "have a say" in its future? That we cooperate with those who have never allowed us "to have a say" in the past? And you believe magically, they have changed their position, and are now willing and encouraging, us to do so?) Personally, I have never called the EA a failure: I just keep asking "What is the goal?". The only response is "Unity", but unity under whom, for what, to what end? No one ever answers that, as if "unity" were an eschatological index beyond which no answers were needed. Well, its not. So I repeat my question: " What is the goal?" And as long as no one answers that from the "Old World", pardon me if I remain skeptical based on history.)
#126.96.36.199 Ferris Haddad on 2010-10-25 07:08
"I would urge polite cooperation with the Episcopal Assembly..."
"but in no way would I want us to submit to it, nor imply that our canonical authority is derived from it."
"And if we must stand alone, so be it."
#8.3 Matt Karnes of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church on 2010-10-19 23:53
Well said, Father Michael.
#8.4 William Kosar on 2010-10-20 05:54
And if we must stand alone, so be it.
I'm not interested in schism from all of Orthodoxy ("alone" is different than, only recognized by Moscow) over our local views of what Orthodoxy should really be, as if our sliver of Orthodoxy has a lock on the truth. This comment, hopefully overstated, would seem to imply a stance more in keeping with those that set themselves up against "World Orthodoxy" claiming that being "canonical" means nothing, even if it's from a different end of the left-right spectrum. Let's hope those predicting the schism of a "Rump OCA" are wrong.
(Editor's note: Sorry, rumours of a "schism" are, like Mark Twain's demise, "greatly exaggerated". No one is going anywhere. )
#8.5 melxiopp on 2010-10-20 11:59
Very good to hear. I thought Fr. Michael's "And if we must stand alone, so be it" to be rather infelicitous - in tone, too unilateral (and unconciliar) for my taste and theology. As I stated, I hope (and assume) this member of the Metropolitan Council and acting Chancellor of the Diocese of Alaska was merely overstating his true position, rhetorically.
#8.5.1 melxiopp on 2010-10-22 06:34
Overstatement? I certainly hope not! "Infelicitous" and "unconciliar?" Nonsense!
We need more leaders taking a strong stand in defense of our own independence with an uncompromising determination to extend it to all other oppressed (i.e. Antiochians and Greeks under the thumb of foreign exploitation) Orthodox Christians in this country. That is not a call for OCA hegemony, but a plea for lay Orthodox Christians to demand a free and independent Church in what has been, and hopefully will continue to be, the most important ( this is not boasting, just an objective fact) country in the world.
The barbarians are outside our gates--with a few exceptions.
(Editor's note: Ken, I fear you miss Constantinople's point. In their mind, we are all barbarians! )
#188.8.131.52 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-10-22 09:22
All three of these reflection express at their core a concern about Holy Order in the Church. More specifically, the responsibilities and authority of bishops in the Church to maintain unity and Holy Order where ever the Church exists. Several models of order in the Church have been observed to exist, but not all reflect the Holy Apostolic Tradition that is authoritative in Orthodox Christianity. There are many traditions that have entered into the Episcopacy of the Church during the imperial period that are neither Holy nor Apostolic, and the order that comes with them is often a tyranny. In fact they can be unholy and evil, and can have eschatological dimensions.
The Orthodox Church understands herself as the New Israel, and sad to say she often behaves like Old Israel. Instead of being true to the “Apostolic” dimension of Holy Tradition, that is outwardly focused and missionary, we Orthodox Christians are often inwardly focused and our leaders reflect this by an attitude that is very much like the leaders of Old Israel at the time of our Lord’s First Coming. In other words, our situational awareness is not very good and we are likely to be as unprepared for the Second Coming as Old Israel was for the First Coming. Consider the prevailing understanding of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 as an example of this. Most Orthodox teachers hold to the view that all of this prophecy is yet to take place, failing to consider the facts of history and the current reality. We believe that the Orthodox Church is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, yet over 80% of those professing to be Christians today, live outside of the Church. That a major falling away has already occurred cannot be denied. So what or who is the man of sin, the son of perdition, who has precipitated this falling away?
The term “son of perdition” is used by our Lord to describe Judas Iscariot in John 17:12. He was the only one of the twelve who betrayed the Lord by believing he knew better than the other eleven disciples, and even the Lord himself. The distain for conciliarity with brother bishops along with the blasphemous delusion of being “Christ‘s Vicar” by seeking to replace the Holy Spirit, puts the responsibility for this falling away squarely on the bishops of Rome since the 11th Century. Given that “all Protestants are Crypto-Papists,” as observed by Alexis Khomiakov in 1846, there will be plenty of candidates to fill the roll of the last son of perdition when the time comes. Let us strive to ensure that there are no Orthodox Christian bishops vying for this infamy.
#9 Marc Trolinger on 2010-10-19 18:27
Kudos to Fr. Thomas Hopko for a brilliant reflection written with grace, insight, and scholarly restraint. I think he has discovered the avatar, as it were, for the rather novel Episcopal Assemblies in the Western Hemisphere and in Western Europe.
And kudos also to Fr. Michael Oleksa's for a sound defense of the OCA in the face of mounting pressure to abandon our autocephaly and "return" to the Moscow Patriarchate.
I seriously doubt that autocephaly is such a commodity that can be bartered back and forth or that a genuine autocephalous Church can, canonically and morally, forfeit that ecclesial status. In any case, there is no compelling reason for the daughter OCA to move back home and live with our parent Church. It's not as if we're unemployed and out of funds in the North American mission field.
#10 Fr. Alexander F. C. Webster (Okinawa, Japan) on 2010-10-19 20:26
I find all of this and many of the comments and even at least one reflection disturbing.
Isn't it true that each and every Christian worships Christ in a slightly different fashion? No matter whether you are Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or any other Christian religion, each person behaves differently. This is hardly division, and hardly worthy of comparison to the devil.
All this fighting and want for unity to what end?
If the end is that we all worship the same way; can't be done. Who here is going to tell me what bedtime prayers to say with my kids? Which Bishop dare?
If the end is that we all share the same Liturgy book, and worship in a similar fashion on Sunday morning. That'd be some fashion show. The sermons, wow, those would be interesting if they were all the same.
I think it is a fight not worthy of fighting.
#11 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-10-19 21:02
It seems to me that the arguments about the EA and Orthodox unity in America are a bit off the mark. We are just in yet another period of transition with Holy Orthodoxy in America. SCOBA for instance was actually a pretty meaningful organization but as was evidenced by the EA in New York, there were a whole host of jurisdictions that were never a part of SCOBA. We can debate who was responsible for them not being at the table, but there is probably fault on both sides. The most important thing to come out of the EA was the fact that it wasn't just the good ol' boy's club with the same old faces. For the first time in many years, bishops from a number of jurisdictions took part and were able to look their brother bishops in the eyes. That was something that exceptional. And to give credit where credit is due, it would not have taken place if it hadn't been for the Ecumencial Patriarch.
I'm happy that the OCA has their autocephaly and I hope that they use it for the betterment of Holy Orthodoxy in America. But at the same time, I hope that they will understand that the autocephaly which they received is and will almost assuredly always be different than the autocephalies granted to other countries. Finland, for exampe, is not the United States. In America we have enormous numbers of Orthodox immigrants from other Orthodox countries and frankly many of them don't want to change their customs, language or traditions.
Many people that I have met in the OCA seem hell bent on imposing American Orthodoxy on these churches and communities. They say things like, "Hey, you're practicing phyletism. Don't you know that's a heresy." Really? Is it phyletism to want to keep the Julian calendar? Is it phyletism if I bring my Romanian grandmother to church and the service is in a language other than English?
It just seems to me that most of the conversations about Orthodox unity in America are focused on ramming the square peg of archaic ideas of church government into the round hole that is America. America is unique, period. We are not homogeneous. As Germany's Andrea Merkel said, "multiculturalism has failed miserably" the attempts at making a homogenous/united Orthodox Church in America have failed as well.
Poster Daniel Fall said, "I thinkt it is a fight not worthy of fighting." I think he's absolutely correct. We have to stop trying to find unity just for the sake of unity. Every jurisdiction has a right to exist in America and just because one group's ancestors got here before someone elses should not make one group more important than another.
Maybe it is just my circle of friends, but I have heard OCA bishops remark on several occasions that the other jurisdictions in America need to come to the OCA and join with the OCA because it's the OCA that has the autocephaly. This is the kind of thinking which is patently offensive. No disrespect but one piece of paper isn't going to change the mindset of almost any other Orthodox jurisdictions in America. It just isn't going to happen.
The OCA should do their thing and take care of their parishes, as should the Greek Archdiocese, the Antiochian Archidocese, ROCOR, the Moscow Patriarchate, the Jerusalem Patriarchate, etc. just to name a few.
#12 Anon on 2010-10-20 22:09
Every jurisdiction does NOT have a right to exist in this country...at least if adhere to the canons. One bishop, one city. Diversity? Yes! Disunity? NO!
#12.1 Antionymous on 2010-10-21 10:02
I have just a simple question in response to your post, "Why?" Is the answer because "the canons say so?" No disrespect but have you been to Manhattan, NY lately? In the New York metropolitan area there exists two heads of Orthodox jurisdictions, Metropolitan Hilarion and Metropolitan Jonah, and of course there is Metropolitan Demetrius of the Greek Archdiocese. Furthermore you have Bishop Michael of the OCA, Bishop Jerome of ROCOR, Bishop Justinian of the Moscow Patriarchate and I am sure there are numerous others that I haven't even heard of from the Serbian Church, the Ukrainian Church, to the Antiochian Church and Carpatho Russian Church.
I have visited almost all of these hierarchs at one time or another and they all coexist peacefully. Many of them concelebrate. The Eucharist is considered valid in all of these churches. We do, indeed, have a kind of unity already. It may not appear outwardly like the unity which "exists" in other areas of the world but it is a type of unity.
I don't wish to be argumentative about this point of Orthodox unity in America but I feel quite passionately that those who argue for "one bishop in one city" really need to examine the theology of the Church on a much greater scale. Is it truly an issue of salvation if two or more Orthodox bishops exist in the same city? Somehow ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate managed to live down the street from one another for many years in Manhattan just fine. And in God's time the two churches found a way to confront their differences and actually become friends. And incidentally there is still a bishop in both churches.
Other major cities like Los Angeles and Boston have had multiple Orthodox bishops for years and it has never caused someone to lose their salvation. These insistent arguments of "Orthodox unity because I say so" just don't fly intellectually.
Christ is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. However His church is dynamic. We do not worship in exactly the same manner as the fourth century and we should not be so entrenched in our ecclesiology that we can not allow for something new. Nor should we be blinded by the reality straight in front of us. As I said before, the United States is a unique country with its own unique set of circumstances. And not to point out the obvious but other countries are experiencing the same issues as the United States in terms of multiple, overlapping jurisdictions, just not to the same scale.
#12.1.1 Anon. on 2010-10-21 20:42
I was agreeing with you right up to the very end.
Unity does not need to mean uniformity or submission. Unity of structure and coordination of action among our various traditions would have tremendous advantages (and also many challenges). The OCA along with the other jurisdictions needs to become part of a unified church structure. That structure must be flexible enough to include a variety of ethnic traditions and not ask that communities sacrifice their identities to some artificially created image of American Orthodoxy. But that structure also must be based on the non-negotiable proposition that our primary identity as "Ethnicity-of-you-choice Orthodox" is rooted in the Orthodox part of that phrase. It can be done. But it can only be done by focusing on the needs here in America (including, btw, the need of people to identify with and maintain their heritage in the context of the church), rather than subsuming our church life under the politics and preoccupations of foreign patriarchates.
And if the "mother churches" really cared first and foremost about the spiritual health and growth of their flocks, they would support this unity and independence and would find ways to maintain meaningful relationships with the parishes and dioceses they've planted here.
#12.2 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-10-22 11:54
Not so long ago, the OCA appeared to be in dire shape. Now, on the other hand, there is a general impression that the situation is much better.
From the little I know about it, this change would not have been possible if the OCA had not been blessed with a true synod of bishops.
It is worth speculating what would have happened if the OCA bishops were mere auxiliaries to Metropolitan Herman.
#13 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-10-21 09:24
Thanks for making that powerful observation Fr. Pat. I think that it is very interesting that as the OCA completes it's first 40 year trial of autocephaly, it is well on the way to establishing a conciliar structure more reflective of the Ante-Nicene period than the imperial period. In contrast, many of the other Orthodox jurisdictions here in North America seem to want to reinforce the imperial period with it's clericalism that often leads to episcopal tyranny.
#13.1 Marc Trolinger on 2010-10-21 15:09
Perhaps the Phanar is trying to stage manage the outcome of the EA. But remember the Vatican Curia also had planned out Vatican II before the bishops arrived. However, the Council turned out much different than the Curia had planned. Likewise, the EA may become just as subversive to the Phanar.
#14 Thomas Mathes on 2010-10-21 20:52
I just read Asterix et les Goths - a little light relief - and at one point (where the Goth chief shushes his sidekick for applauding a flower-producing trick during a Druid magic contest which they are secretly watching) the latter says "On peut etre barbare et aimer les fleurs, non?!"
I wanted to post it when I read it, but now this latest post gives me an irresistible cue!
(Editor's note: Your barbarian nature is fully revealed!)
#15 Anonymous on 2010-10-22 11:20
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