October 21, 2014

Archbishop Demetrios’ Encyclical on the Fourth of July

July 4, 2009
Independence Day

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Fourth of July is a day when we join with people across this nation and around the world in the celebration of an historic achievement that exalted the necessity of human freedom and initiated a political and social environment filled with opportunity and potential. The United States of America, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, was “conceived in liberty,” dedicated to the ideal of justice and equality for all, thus becoming a nation that broadened the scope and function of citizenship and of the meaning of belonging and community.

As Orthodox Christians, in addition to our American citizenship, we know and experience community also through our worship, fellowship and ministry in our local parishes. In these communities of faith and love we are connected to a much larger and eternal community, the Kingdom of God. In God’s Kingdom, we are citizens of a realm of life and being, in which we follow His will, and are recipients of His grace. As citizens of His Kingdom, we are called to an awareness and response to the needs of others during the course of our lives on this earth. Our Lord affirmed this in His ministry and His teaching, even emphatically stating that the inheritance of the Kingdom and of eternal life is intertwined with our response to the needs of one of the least of these my (i.e. Christ’s) brothers (Matthew 25:40). Thus, an essential characteristic of our heavenly citizenship is our active care on earth for those in need.

The responsibility for others, especially in their time of want or crisis, is also critical to the strength and viability of a free society. Our citizenship and our belonging in this great American nation implies the presence of a nurturing community that advances the ability for all people to experience life, liberty, and happiness. It also implies the presence of a community that itself is nurtured by the free response of its members to the needs of their fellow citizens and residents. With discernment but without discrimination, we respond to any person in need, knowing that our ideals of freedom, justice, and equality are related to the well-being of each and every person in our society.

In our celebration of Independence Day, may we take a moment to reflect upon the meaning of our citizenship and our belonging as an American people, and as members of the Kingdom of God, affirming that compassion for and assistance to others is essential to both. May we also remember that our calling as Orthodox Christians is to share the Gospel of love and truth, so that all may know the grace of God and may find salvation in Jesus Christ. Our sharing and heralding the message of the Gospel enhances our responsibility as Americans to care for our neighbors. When we respond to others in need, we strengthen the general welfare of our society; and we sustain the freedom, justice, and equality that we cherish, and that we enjoy as a superb gift of God.

With paternal love in Christ,

† DEMETRIOS
Archbishop of America

Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Comments

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    Andrew says:

    I am always happy when the 4th of July Encyclical comes out. Its one the few times the GOA focuses on America. The tone of the letter and its vision is always very different compared the omogenia junk.

    My thought is the omogenia before Orthodoxy crowd does not get involved in writing or vetting this encyclical because they do not care so in the end it does not have the garbage we usually see.

    Too bad this cannot be the norm everyday. The glimmer of clear thinking in this encyclical and past encyclicals are often signs of hope.

    Sometimes you cannot help but think that the omogenia before Orthodoxy crowd is holding Archbishop Demetrios Hostage. If he was free to lead we might see some wonderful things.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Andrew, the “homogeneia before Orthodoxy crowd” has held the entire GOA hostage for almost 80 years now. Even a stalwart bishop like +Iakovos who was very much his own man, made his life miserable almost from the get-go. In the end, they won.

    I agree with your analysis of +Demetrius’ encyclical. It was spot on. Unfortunately, like +Philip, he’s almost a non-entity. It’s just platitudes as far as the GOA is concerned. To be honest, the GOA HQ is almost non-existent as far as the majority of the parishioners are concerned. I remember when people used to hang on every one of +Iakovos’s words. Then when +Spyridon took over, it was non-stop controversy. Under +Demetrius, things seem to run on inertia, which is not necessarily a bad thing after two tumultuous back-to-back pastorates.

    People ultimately will miss dynamism. That’s why +Jonah seems to be the center of attention.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    The call to respond to the need of our neighbor is central to the Gospel of Christ. Abp. Demetrios exhorts us not only to remember this charge but also to fulfill it. It encourages me to practice it more. There is also an implicit gratitude that we have the freedom to fulfill the charge that I really appreciate, and that also compels me to work with the good we have been given to lighten the heavy loads that others may carry. I agree with you Andrew. There is some real good here.

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    Andrew says:

    In our celebration of Independence Day, may we take a moment to reflect upon the meaning of our citizenship and our belonging as an American people, and as members of the Kingdom of God, affirming that compassion for and assistance to others is essential to both.

    “Our belonging as an American people”…… see that!

    Afer all the ugly bufoonery and idiocy the omogenia before Orthodoxy crowd has spewed we can -for at least one day- smile that underneath the heaps of Garbage in the GOA someone gets it for at least a moment.

    George, I hear you and agree with you 100% but even in my worst bouts of brutal pessimism and sarcasm I hold out some hope that our children will not inherit an American Orthodox Church.

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    Andrew says:

    CORRECTION

    I hold out some hope that our children will not inherit an American Orthodox Church.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Amen, Andrew, amen. I often think that the GOA HQ is reading this and other Orthodox blogs and that they tailor their attitudes accordingly. That’s probably delusional on my part. Regardless, what Arb +Demetrius said is correct. Long overdue, but better late than never. Let’s hope that the secularists-elitists among the lay leadership continue to see their influence marginalized. We’ll know if we see more and more encyclicals like this.

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