Wednesday, July 29. 2009
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I really appreciated these comments. The more I read, the more I have come to believe that North America is a unique situation not contemplated by prior Ecumenical Counsels, so while Canon 28 or whatever else you want to refer to may offer some guidance, they cannot be the deciding factors. Reading this in conjunction with Fr. Touma's comments have convinced me that we as the "indigenous American church" need to solve our own problems. I have a dear friend who came to the US at the age of 11 from Syria. He is part of the Antiochian jurisdiction. He is every bit as American as I am. The idea of some kind of diaspora is an invention and not applicable to the Christian church. If you read the writings of the early fathers, there was a great deal of ethnic diversity in the early churches, but they were designated by their geographical location, not their ethnic heritage. I also am becoming convinced that change will only happen when the mind of the American Church tips to the side of Orthodox unity, meaning when enough lay persons and parish priests insist on one unified American jurisdiction. When the pastoral imperative is for one jurisdiction comprised of Americans (whatever their ethnic background or nation of birth), the hierarchs will respond and give up the notion that somehow there is a pastoral need for a divided church. Enough already!
#1 Kathy Erickson on 2009-07-29 16:18
Valerie, I hear something very telling in the following sentence, quoted from your reflection: "The fact that most of us who grew up in the Romanian Episcopate during its golden years still do not understand the potential benefits of reuniting with the Mother Church says a great deal."
Is is not precisely this sense that "the golden years" are past, and the logic of the past no longer suffices, which underlies the interest in a new Romanian Metropolitanate?
Is the unity really about "reuniting with the Mother Church", or is it about finding a renewed and adequate meaning for Romanian Orthodoxy here in America? Is the political logic of the past sufficient for having two Romanian jurisdictions in North America?
I hear you talking about distrust, which has its own logic, but if there is going to be Romanian Orthodoxy, and Russian Orthodoxy, and Antiochian Orthodoxy, and Greek Orthodoxy, and Serbian Orthodoxy, etc., isn't one jurisdiction better than two--in the big picture?
Would we really want a united Romanian Episcopate under the OCA, or do we just want to keep separate from people we don't trust?
If the JDC really wants unity, why not an alternate proposal for unity under the OCA? Then we could let all the parishes decide which unity we want----if we want unity!
Maybe we need a dialog between Metropolitan JONAH and Patriarch DANIEL.
#2 Romanian-American Priest on 2009-07-29 16:24
Whatever ethnic Orthodoxy is brought here, it needs to become part of an American Orthodoxy because that is where we are. That heritage is not lost, but finds appropriate expression as part of the church HERE.
The "golden days" were that way because the Episcopate was growing as a church rooted in America. Those who are coming from Romania now should also be moving toward a rootedness in America, and they have the advantage of an Episcopate already built...but clinging to a Patriarchate in Romania will never let that happen. There is no good reason to re-tie the apron strings to Bucharest.
#3 A Child of Romania, but an American Orthodox on 2009-07-30 06:06
I identify with much of what Valerie wrote. The bishops, regardless of jurisdiction, want to make the decisions without asking the people. The laity for the most part if not entirely want( i.e. Antiochians, Greeks, etc ) to be independent from theMother Church. However, they do not want to be apart of the OCA . There are persons who want the OCA to give up their autocephaly and join the Patricharcial and Russian Church outside of Russia under the Patric. of Moscow. Then their are the jurisdictions under EP such as the Ukrainians and the Carpatho Russian archdiocese. All of us are Americans. Many of us are married to non-ethnic (Orthodox) spouses and have children. Some of our spouses are converts and some are not. I remember the "glory" days of the Metropolia of the 50's and 60's when our churches were filled to capacity and having a hundred or more children in Sunday School. The Orthodox Churches in the US are further apart in unity than ever. Scandals aren't just in the OCA and the Antiochians--ours just have been made public. We Orthodox should be working together rather than against each other -- programs, clergy insurance, etc. I do not speak my grandparents tongue, nor do the ethnic dances, though I enjoy all the ethnic dances when I have the opportunity. My Orthodox faith is not reliving the "old world" but trying to be the best christian I can be. There are people in the US that need the true faith. The old world hierarchs cannot help us to reach them. Our clergy, Americn born and educated in our theological schools can and do. It is time for the hierarch to get real.
#4 cshinn on 2009-07-30 06:40
The Romanians under the OCA have done just fine. They have made their own decisions and have run their own church. Why throw this away and subject yourself to foreign bishops? WHY?
#5 Anonymous on 2009-07-30 07:05
All I can say is "bravo"! Valerie, I read your essay and simply put in the ethnic heritage of any and all Orthodox Christians, wherever they hail from and it fits us all! The only thing I would add is that your grandmother was a woman of faith, not of ethnicity - and that is the key for all of us, including our leaders.
One need not deny one's cultural ancestry *unless* that ancestry and its customs interfere with one's love of Christ and His Church.
Twenty-five years ago, our family left the ethnic Ukrainian church because it was simply and only that - ethnic. We have been to the land of our ancestry twice in the last 7 years and plan to go again. The most wonderful part of this story is that when we went there the first time, we learned from them that we were not, in fact, ‹krainian-hyphenated, but simply from the land of our birth. Of all our family members; all the faithful of the many churches we prayed in; all the conversations we held with anyone "over there"; not once were we identified as Ukrainian or hyphenated Ukrainians!! Glory to God! We were clearly seen to be what we are - pilgrims on the road to our true home, no matter what the land of our birth or our ancestry. Truly, in Christ, there is no ethnicity!
IMHO, anything else does indeed, smell like politics. If it stands in the way of labouring for our salvation, then it is worthless.
Thank you again, Valerie.
#6 Cynthia - of Ukrainian Ancestry on 2009-07-30 07:13
Just what No. American Orthodoxy needs -- another parasitic patriarch looking for money!
#7 Bob on 2009-07-30 08:02
You and I have similar backgrounds with respect to the connection between ethnicity and religion. I was raised to be proud of my Norwegian heritage, and indeed I am still am. The Norwegian Lutheran Church which first nurtured me in the Faith taught me many things that I cherish, not the least of which is a love of singing that I express in the choir at my Orthodox Church today. I donít speak Norwegian and the church I grew up in had stopped using Norwegian in their Sunday service a few years before I was born.
I converted to Orthodoxy in 2004 and shortly afterwards met the Romanian-American woman I would marry a year later. Since that time, since we are both teachers, we summer every year in Romania. I am told I speak Romanian better than any American most Romanians have met, though I still daily study it quite intentionally (a factor in my success).
My wife and I weekly attend a Russian Patriarchal church. If there were a Romanian church anywhere near us (which there isnít), we would still not quit our parish to join it. Nothing against the Romanians, mind you. But our parish is a cosmopolitan blend of Russians, Romanians, American converts like myself, Egyptians, Bulgarians, and others where all ethnicities are made to feel very welcome. My priest there makes a point of learning even just a little of the languages represented in the parish and incorporates them into the Liturgy. Almost all of the Liturgy is done in English, so it can also be described as an American Orthodox Church. My Romanian wife was welcomed there by Russians before I ever met her and she would not now leave that community of faith just to hear the liturgy in Romanian.
At the same time, however, we are very aware of many Romanians in our area who do not attend Divine Liturgy with any regularity. A part of me wants to fault them that they do not stay close to the Sacraments by joining us at our local Orthodox Church. But it is not mine to judge, as our Lord taught us well and often.
It is probable that a Romanian parish conducting the Liturgy in Romanian would bring some of these more recent immigrants to Liturgy with more regularity. For that reason, my position on the potential reunion of the Romanian jurisdictions under the Patriarch here (I am writing this from Romania) is that it may be a good thing if and only if it facilitates an expansion of mission to the sizable Romanian speaking community in the United States. If it does not, then it is certainly not a step forward for the Kingdom.
But if it does, then ideally it will help to nurture a strongly Orthodox Romanian community which will later bring their distinctive traditions into a united American Orthodox Church in the future. And since that united American Orthodox Church does not seem to be becoming a reality any time in the foreseeable future, then the Romanians, as the second most populous Orthodox country after Russia, have the responsibility to optimize their mission in the meantime.
As one who grew up in the OCA and witnessed the transformation of the church from a primarily ethnic community to a multi-ethnic community open to all, I can appreciate Ms. Yova's sentiments.
The problem is that the leadership of the OCA, has once again, shot itself in the foot.
What has gone unreported on this web-site; was the outcome of the Cyprus Conference of the Patriarchal sees. (granted the firewoorks in Psalm Desert were more enertaining).
The outcome of that conference was, as I believe Mr Stokoe, had predicted; was a trade off. In return for an agreement by th Ecumenical Patriarchate to not intervene in the Ukraine, the Moscow Patriarchate has agreed to recognize the Ecumenical Patriarch's ultiamte authority over the Diaspora, including North America.
Thus, the MP has ceded its claims on behalf of the OCA.
If the OCA wants to be recognized as an authentic Orthodox polity, then Metroplitan Jonah will have to negotiate with the other members of SCOBA on a unification into a united Orthodox community *under the Ecumenical Patriarchate*.
Given the recent acrimony between Metropolitan Jonah and the representative of the EP; and the Metropolitan's admitted uncharitable remarks in Dallas; that will be a tall order.
It should also be noticed that recent historical analysis (check out the orthodox history web-site), calls into doubt the oft repeated historical arguments for the "Russians were here first" basis of the OCA's claims.
It's time to stop crowing and start talking turkey !
Best wishes to all
#9 Francis Frost on 2009-07-30 15:41
Yes, Valeria !
You are entitled to vote
proxy the beloved ones you
left in that golden age parish of your youth.
Think local, act global !
Just say your prayers for an American Patriarchate as +Policarp and +Valerian and +Nathaniel have had dream of.Then your great ancestors will be proud of you !
who doesn't believe in votes...
#10 adrian fetea on 2009-07-30 21:09
I was gratified to see Mrs. Yova's observations. I am an ardent "Romaniaophile," and spend the most rewarding portions of my time in Romania each year. However, to drag the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese away from the OCA and into Eastern European religious politics, into the "Byzantine mode" of expression and a hierarchical dictatorship would, in my view, be a very sorrowful decision. Certainly the vast majority of members of "The Vatra" are Canadians or American of Romanian ancestry, rather than Romanians who by happenstance live in America or Canada. Romania, as it is gradually absorbed into the European Union, is a century away from most members of Romanian Archdiocese of the OCA. My dedo (grandfather) once remarked that he would not want to visit Serbia because he had changed by 50 years, and Serbia (Hertsegovina) had changed by 50 years, so they were a century apart now. That was in 1960. I also love Serbia, but I am a Canadian Orthodox Christian, not Serb who just happens to live in Canada. I understand Mrs. Yova's feelings, and completely agree with her.
I'll answer with another question:
Who wants to be associated with the OCA?
(Editor's note: Me. 23,000 other paying members. The Saints and Fathers who labored for it ( Herman, Juvenaly, Toth, Tikhon, Schmemann, Meyendorff to name a few; The Angels, Christ in the sacraments, the Holy Spirit, God the Father who established it - so altogether, not a meaningless association at that. Feel free to find succor elsewhere, though, if its not working for you. It's America, and you can have a choice here.)
#12 Anonymous on 2009-07-31 14:22
At one time I had a small group of Romanians regularly worshiping at the OCA parish that I had. One day I asked them to teach me some Romanian so that we could have some of their language in the Liturgy. They replied ' no Father, we are in America and must learn English to be able to servive here and if we keep coming back to our old languge we will never make it and we enjoy the services in English as this is the language of our new home'. Even Princess Ileana aka Mother Alexandra came to America to start an English language monastery for American Orthodox.
It has always been an Orthodox principle that when the Faith was taken to a new land the language and culture of that land was used for the transmission of the Gospel and the Orthodox Faith.
The OCA, despite the problems of past years,is still the only autocephalus Orthodox Church in America and as such is able to embrace all Orthodox Christians from all etnic backgrounds and from none! In the Diocese of the South(OCA) we have over 80% of our people from converts who have chosen Orthodoxy as their life in Christ. We also have our parishes full of people from all different backgrounds, worshipping and witnessing to Orthodox together>
The future of Orthodoxy in the USA is for an autocephalus church with its own hierarchy and its own seminaries reaching out to all the people of this land.
Archpriest Ian in Florida
#13 Archpriest Ian on 2009-07-31 16:59
This is not about the Romanian Patriarchate. It is about two sociological groups of Romanian immigrants in North America: those which came primarily from the Austro-Hungarian Empire up until WWI, and their 2nd and 3rd generation descendants, versus the new wave of Romanian Orthodox immigrants.
Both the Patriarchal jurisdiction and the OCA Romanians have Romanian-speaking and non-Romanian speaking members, priests, and parishes.
The present unity proposal revolves around [at least] two ideas: (1) healing the wounds left in the Romanian-American Orthodox community by the first two generations, and (2) whether the OCA is really the key to the future of American Orthodoxy. Obviously the majority of priests in both jurisdictions do not believe it is. The majority of priests serving in the two Romanian Orthodox jurisdictions apparently believe that a united Romanian Metropolitanate is a stronger platform from which to move toward Orthodox unity in America than the OCA Romanian Episcopate.
This implies a vision of a future for united American Orthodoxy which will retain the distinctions and traditions which characterize each ethnic Orthodox heritage. Not "either/or", but "both/and."
There seems to be a very great danger that we are either conciously or unconciously perpetuating the idea that there should be one jurisdiction for the good guys and a different one for the bad guys.
One Protestant theologian wrote a book some decades back entitled "Your God is Too Small". May our Church is too small.
#14 Romanian-American Priest on 2009-07-31 21:16
There are every real present day challenges for Romanians in America and those in Romania. Specifically in terms of employment the large numbers of Romanians in America trying to sustain their families daily needs in another country and their own here.
It is not so helpful to reflect on a nostalgic past of grandparentage at this point. The Gospel is for today and meeting the needs of the people of today for eternity. Both groups of churches looking for unity, OCA and in Romania, have still fallen short on meeting the needs of the people.
Because there are a lot of needs and a lot of people, one can point that some needs have been met.
This does not change the situation of a leadership which must have holiness as its practice to make any claim to leadership at all. Cover ups for sexual sins, sex trafficking and not every day holdng to truly working for the betterment of all people has made the parishes and those who claim leadership that work this way into "collector's items" instead of working hospitals caring, maintaining, and training workers in a full time ministry to living souls and in full recognition of centuries of history.
The current OCA leadership in the OCA has diminished and marginalized the movement that could have lead to a very large church of all nationalities and mixtures. This undercutting of the mission of Christ has been to segregate from those who have witnessed the criminal activity working in the church through proud and vainglorious leaders eager to satisfy themselves and a small number of supporters at any cost.
The changes needed for a full service ministry can only come about when the the people recognize and make changes in the leadership removing the roadblocks for the laity to be full time ministering to the great and immediate needs of those in America from Romania and those in need in America in general.
Please explain how leaving an autocephalous American Church and being reunited to a foreign Patriarchate advances unity - one real Orthodox Church in America. No one in the "Reunification" camp or the JDC has answered that question yet.
Over 100 years ago, the priests and people in the Episcopate all spoke Romanian. And then they learned English. And got their American citizenship, and acculturated. And won't those people coming to America now do the same thing? So how is going back under the authority of Bucharest a good thing for those people who have chosen to come and make America their home?
As for the "2nd/3rd generations VS the new wave," you are setting up an adversarial situation. I prefer to see it in terms of those coming now accepting to come into the home that Romanians before them established on this continent. If they prefer to build or remain in Patriarchal parishes, God bless them. That is definitely their choice to make. But to try and tear the Episcopate away from its American roots is not right on multiple levels.
#16 A Child of Romania, but an American Orthodox on 2009-08-02 16:44
The OCA is an established, canonical autocephalous Orthodox Church since 1970. The Pat. of Istanbul can do whatever he wants and have as many "stacked phony councils" as he wants. The canons are clear regarding autocephalous churches in a territory. History can't be erased nor the Truth changed. Byzantium is dead; there is no emperor and there is no Constantinople. Sorry, the Pat. of Istanbul can indulge in whatever intrigue it wants; the OCA is going no where. As for the MP, he has much more to worry about than the little OCA.
#17 Anonymous on 2009-08-02 18:46
If in fact the MP have done a deal with EP then I am very saddened. I was ordained in the MP and came to USA to serve in OCA Diocese of the South because I believed(and still believe)that the OCA is the way forward for Orthodoxy in this country. I had no wish to be part of a church which was ethnically orientated or attaeched to a Patriarchate somewhere in the middle east of in eastern europe. If,however, it is a done deal then we must live with it and hope that God gives Metropolitan Jonah the wisdom to deal with SCOBA in a way which will keep OCA alive and perhaps get others to join together and resist the inroads of the EP into American church life. Jerusalem is the Mother church of Christendon not Constantinople. Byzantine Empire is ,thankfully, long gone!
#18 Archpriest Ian on 2009-08-03 06:37
Francis, can you point us to the source of your information on the deal between the Russian Orthodox Church and the EP? I cannot find anything confirming the deal that you mention.
#19 Benjamin Ignatius on 2009-08-03 09:51
Dear Mr. Cold-Heart (Frosty):
"It should also be noticed that recent historical analysis (check out the orthodox history web-site), calls into doubt the oft repeated historical arguments for the "Russians were here first" basis of the OCA's claims."
Can you read? Do you listen? Mr. Namee put forward his historical analysis which isn't totally out of line with what history is well-known. What the new historical analysis shows is that the creation of ethnic parishes in America i.e., the Greeks, were a loose confederation. Any Orthodox clergy coming to America between 1800-1920 knew that the American territory was under the omophor of the ROC. When Greeks or others arrived in America, they sought to establish their churches under their own ethnic identities and identification with their own ethnic clerics and bishops. It was only after the Russian Revolution that the Greeks and others saw America as a "land stampede" open to claim. This really wasn't the case!
#20 Anonymous on 2009-08-03 10:57
It never hurts to reflect on our grandparents a bit, but it doe not solve anything or help us to move forward. I am convinced that the financial crimes have successfully motivated the OCA officials to institute a system of proper accountability and safeguards. I am not convinced that a moralistic witch hunt would be of any benefit. The defamation lawsuits could bankrupt the OCA and any individuals who made accusations that they could not 100% prove in a court of law. In Canada, and I would presume in America as well, we adhere to the British rule that one is innocent until proved guilty "beyond any reasonable doubt." There is little chance that a moralistic witch hunt would not result in lawsuits against the OCA and individuals who made charges that could not be proved "beyond any reasonable doubt." As many of you will know, in the Orthodox Church false sexual accusations are a common as hydrogen in the atmosphere. Any time someone gets angry with someone else, or does not agree with them for some reason, ad hoc sexual accusations are the standard retorts in the Orthodox Church, so most must be dismissed out of hand unless there is absolute proof.
(Editor's note: Your Eminence makes a large claim that sexual misconduct accusations are as " common as hydrogen" in the atmosphere. That certainly has not been my experience: on what basis do you make this claim? Facts, or anecdote? I was not aware the office of sexual misconduct reveals the number of complaints recieved yearly, and their adjudication. It would not be a bad idea though, for then, you criticism would be more effective.
As for your claim that any charge must have " absolute proof", it is rarely the case that abusers photo themselves or video themselves abusing; and anything less than that - apart from a rape kit - (and including witness testimony) would not fit your criteria - and thus be inadmissable. Hence, there were never be any charges brought against any abusers. That hardly seems right, since we all know abuse does occur. How about this: we follow the current guidelines as a start?)
My Dear Brother or Sister in Christ,
I am not diminishing the OCA when I suggest that it may not ultimately be the solution to Orthodox unity in North America. Even Metropolitan JONAH, with his authentic Orthodox spirituality, his deep-rooted american-ness, and his missionary zeal, has admitted that the OCA may have to give way to some other vehicle for the ultimate realization of an indigenous American Orthodox Patriarchate.
Never in the history of the Church was autocephaly granted to something which, AT THE TIME OF THE GRANTING OF AUTOCEPHALY, was one jurisdiction among several, all of which were carrying on God-blessed, canonical ministry in this land. Yes, the OCA is autocephalous (self-headed), but its autocephaly is highly irregular, having been granted NOT to the only church in a territory, which would be the norm, but to ONE of the jurisdictions emanating from the Russian Orthodox.
Unfortunately, the OCA still bears a distinctly Russian character, with the exception of its ethnic dioceses like the ROEA, and the OCA has not attempted to be a melting pot for American Orthodoxy, but has clearly chosen to be a Russian-American Orthodoxy.
We may each and all pontificate to our sinful hearts' desires (and I am the chief of sinners in this regard), but when the Holy Spirit accomplishes the unification of Orthodoxy in America, it will be something beyond our ability to conceptualize and produce.
If Romanians of various generations and backgrounds cannot arrive at an understanding, then how will all the rest of us, with our baggage, our expectations and demands about what American Orthodoxy must be like, etc., ever melt together into a single body, where we will ALL have to surrender some of our dearest pre-conditions.
I think I learned the most about Orthodox unity when a convert told me that she was against it. Her convert experience of Orthodoxy, lived in an enclave of other converts, would seem to be in jeopardy if the wrong people ended up in control of the united Church.
The Church has weathered lots of storms, bad leadership, and dark, dark days, and the Holy Spirit keeps on working with those who seek to work out their salvation in fear and trembling.
In my personal experience of a national Church within the borders of Romania, there was room for all kinds of spirituality and non-spirituality, all kinds of points of view, and practices from minimalist to maximalist. Niches and affinities don't need small jurisdictions to sustain them.
And I guess that may be my point about the ROEA. It is small and isolated, and some want to keep it that way. But that is not the way of the Church, if I have understood anything about it.
If the present unity proposal is inadequate, then may God give us His Spirit to seek His Unity, and not be stuck with the Babel of our own willfulness.
#22 Romanian-American Priest on 2009-08-03 19:18
With all due respect, Fr., you still have not answered the question: how does going back under Bucharest advance unity on THIS continent?
That we have a unique situation here is not disputed. That we have many "traditions" now on one continent is not disputed, nor is it a bad thing (unless it's something in conflict with Tradition, and real teachings of the Church). But no one I know is suggesting we have to give those up. What would be helpful is looking up and out from our own enclaves, not further entrenching a "ghetto" (meaning: isolationist) mentality of "We're Romanians, we need our own church;" "we're converts, we need our own church;" "we're whatever; we need our own church."
Apparently you somehow agree with me, since you go on to say:
"And I guess that may be my point about the ROEA. It is small and isolated, and some want to keep it that way. But that is not the way of the Church, if I have understood anything about it."
So since that is not the way of the Church, why is "reunification" being pushed on the Episcopate by those who are supposed to understand our ecclesiology?
#23 A Child of Romania, but an American Orthodox on 2009-08-04 06:13
No Canadian Orthodoxy needs it either. Americans are not alone in these issues.
Mark, we are talking about the possibility of law suits where an accusation is made and there is not absolute proof of the offence. Presumably a canonical court could take an action, but if there was not absolute proof of an offence, one that would stand up in a civil court, then massive lawsuits could result. In fact, there are two wrongful dismissal lawsuits pending against the OCA just now. One might surmise that such a consideration was had in mind when some disciplinary action had been taken which was less than appropriate in the given case. There is some chance that Kondratick might win a lawsuite in the end as it is. I am not saying that appropriate action should not be taken in cases where there is sufficient proof, but let me give you an example. When a candidate for the episcopacy in the State Church of Greece came to speak at our Monastery a few years ago, he had a female interpreter. Because of that, he had to bring a male as chaperon. However, because he had a male chaperon, he had to bring the man's wife. Why? As Romanides explained it to us, if he came only with the woman, his opponents in Greece would have accused him of having a relationship with her. Had he brought only the male chaperon, his opponents would have accused him of having sexual relations with the man, so the man's wife had also to come along. Such situations are commonplace in the Orthodox Church, like it or not. In any case, the OCA does have to be careful not to engender yet another lawsuit against it. There must always be proof that would stand up in a civil court. Indeed, the Canons of the Church require such proof, so the matter is not so simple. One thing that should be more common is for the laity to be involved directly in the elections of new hierarchs. I think is it well enough known that I favour having married hierarchs in the Church, and am opposed to unmarried priests serving in parishes. However, I am a very, very minor voice and no-one really takes my opinions seriously.
(Editor's note: Vladyka, I take your opinions seriously, as I take all - OK, most - contributors opinions seriously. I do not think we are far apart on this issue, for the standard of proof is "reasonable", not "absolute". If "Absolute" were the standard, no one could be convicted of anything, and the world would be a very sorry place. Surely that is not your intent.)
The above post (#11) is in response to 18.104.22.168.1..... and the things that were said in it.
Mark- can you please relocate it there???
(Editor's note: The program assigns it on the basis of where you wrote it. I really can't change it. Sorry!)
#26 Anonymous on 2009-08-04 12:17
Dear Child of Romania,
I see that hand--not to worry.
I think that the answer to one point of your argument is that unification is not being pushed on the Episcopate. It has been proposed by the Episcopate, and if and when it is adopted, it will have been adopted by the Episcopate, through whatever voting mechanism is finally deemed appropriate by the Episcopate. It seems clear enough that the majority in the Episcopate do desire Romanian unity in North America--and certainly all the good people in the ROAA long for it. As for those who don't want Romanian unity in North America, why not just give up the "Romanian" and simply join the mainstream OCA? If we're really "post-ethnic", let's put our money where our mouth is.
Personally, I find it hard to believe that a foreign Patriarch can do as much damage in North America as some of our own North American hierarchs have done. Need I say more...?
The Romanian Patriarchate CERTAINLY has no need of American money. I will admit that the unification means something to the Patriarchate (and most Romanians) that money cannot buy: pride. Or self-respect, if you wish.
(Editor's note: Reading your last sentence, Father, all I could think of was 1 Samuel 8:5:
"...now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." Didn't work out so well for Israel did it?)
#27 Romanian-American Priest on 2009-08-04 15:22
True. In Canada also, "beyond a reasonable doubt." I think that the Canons are a bit more sharply defining. The important thing is that the OCA guidlines be followed explicitly in any such question, and that local laws also be obeyed. In Canada, any offence that involves a minor MUSt be reported to the police within a limited time (I think it is 30 days). That is something also that ought to be followed. It is a criminal offence not to report the abuse of a minor.
Mark (you are the editor, right?),
I identify with the maxim that leading the Orthodox is like herding cats.
Wouldn't it be nice if we had a Pope to unify our "local" liturgical variations into one standard Orthodox Rite? Then if we could de-nationalize all the Orthodox Churches back in the Old World, so that the cultural baggage being brought to America with immigrants could be just that: transitory language & culture issues, and not deified traditions?
Then we could have one American Orthodox Church, where parishes use the majority language of their members at any given time (like the Catholics), and all these issues would just go away.
Just think: the word "Pan-Orthodox" would cease to be used on a local level!
North America was colonized and settled by people from homelands not marked by religious tolerance. Every ethnic group brought its official church as well as its sects, all of which became more or less equal in this country, becoming known as "denominations". By the time Orthodoxy began to make its presence known in its own ethnic ghettos, Americans had gotten over the idea that any religious group could make the "ridiculous" claim to having a corner on the Truth.
Orthodoxy, inextricably intertwined with ethnic origins, took on the appearance, and often the character, of Protestant-type denominationalism. Many of its members absorbed the relativism of the American mainstream as they grew up, going through the identity crises of all second- and third-generation immigrants.
And even though the OCA would like to see itself as a universal and purely American Orthodoxy, it too has carved out a niche among competing forms of Orthodoxy. In fact, it has created itself a unique identity among the three Russian-based jurisdictions in America. It is a "brand".
We have all kinds of options in American Orthodoxy, but we are not disposed to give up our independence, our options, our divergences, and merge into one American Orthodoxy--any more than we are likely to accept government-run health care.
The Romanians who wish to unite under the Patriarchate are not all Romanian-speakers, but they all agree that the Romanian way of living and expressing Orthodoxy is the best. They sincerely believe that the Romanian Patriarchate will not interfere in Romanian-American affairs and that they will continue to enjoy the AUTONOMY that currently characterizes both Romanian-American jurisdictions.
None of us is free from ethnocentrism. American-born cradle Orthodox and converts are often quite unwilling to understand and tolerate the real need of first-generation immigrants to pray in their mother tongue. They often seem to demand that the new immigrants just skip learning the lessons of enculturation; they've already learned them for them, so just "get with the program and follow our example".
And so to return to one of my original assertions: this Romanian unity controversy appears to me to have more of a sociological character than a canonical one.
Herding cats. Are we having fun yet?
I sympathize with your frustration about our Hierarch-Kings (e.g., 1 Samuel 8:5). Nothing tests a man's character like having authority (I won't say power), and if our hierarches disappoint us in this respect, then we must recognize that they come from among us, and thus we all need serious repentance and soul-searching.
Whatever the particular packaging of any local Orthodoxy, leaders stumble and fall, leaders sometimes abuse, and thank God, sometimes leaders inspire and save us.
One very beloved Romanian Spiritual Father says that good disciples create good Spiritual Fathers.
So let's keep up the good work.
#29 Romanian-American Priest on 2009-08-04 20:21
Ironically, that verse could apply to the idea of an "American Patriarch" too. In all cases, I think that it depends on people of good faith doing the right thing.
#30 Anonymous on 2009-08-05 07:13
Alas, this is a point of disunity in the OCA. Many of you, perhaps most of you, do not grasp that the OCA does not (at this time anyway) represent only America. Canada has a strongly different culture and worldview than America does; so does Mexico. So long as we in Canada continue to be blotted out of discussions and thought, there will always remain a "hairline crack" in the OCA. We are not Americans and though we are very fond of our southern neighbour, we have no desire to be American (not even to change the way we spell words). The problem with predatory patriarchs effects us all, not just Americans. The Russian Church has the place of primogenitor here in Canada just as it does down in America (or "up" in Alaska). The notion that some Greek community preceded the Russians is ludicrous. Up until the Bolshevists won the Russian Civil War, all ethnic Orthodox bodies in Canada and America recognised the Russian Church as the hierarchical body for both nations. The OCA is the continuation of the founding Russian Church, not only in America, but also in Canada. If we speak of Church unity in Canada and America (and Mexico), then for all its foibles, the OCA is the proper and logical body to unite with.
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