April 23, 2014

Communiqué from Chambésy

Figuring out the "diaspora" in Switzerland

Orthodox Report, a UK site, has a translation of the official French-language communiqué issued by the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference that met June 6-12 in Chambesy, Switzerland, to discuss the problem of the Orthodox "diaspora." [Orthodox hierarchs pictured above at the meeting] The news release is available in Greek and Russian, for those who can read these languages. But Orthodox Report says it cannot find an English version. Nor can we. This is one of those High Bureaucratic messages, the sort of thing that diplomats issue, that requires the reader to parse the phrases carefully for hidden meanings. Or maybe it's written this way because nothing immediately actionable came out of the meeting. Who's to say? The official site for the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Center for Orthodoxy in Chambesy is all in French, which doesn't help us rustics in the "diaspora." Orthodoxie, a French site, has more, in French. The text talks about the creation of "new episcopal … [Read more...]

In Due Course

The "Companion to the Greek Orthodox Church," edited by Fotios K. Litsas, was published by Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in 1984 as a guidebook to various topics in Church life. The book included the article "Orthodoxy in the United States" by Rev. Thomas FitzGerald, now dean of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and an expert on American Orthodoxy. Fr. FitzGerald closed his 1984 article with a bold prediction: Orthodoxy in the United States may no longer be viewed simply as a diaspora composed primarily of immigrants intent upon returning to their homeland. Rather, Orthodoxy in the United States can only be viewed properly as an emerging local Church comprised primarily of American citizens of a wide variety of racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. In due course, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the various Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States will be united into an autocephalous Church which will be officially recognized as such by the Ecumenical … [Read more...]

New book. Orthodox Christianity at the Crossroad: A Great Council of the Church, When and Why?

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By Archbisop Nathaniel of Detroit. HT: Orthodox News As plans are moving ahead for the convening of preparatory meetings for a Great and Holy Council to take place in Cyprus in June 2009, you need to prepare yourself for what is at stake through these meetings.  How can you prepare yourself?  Pray that the Holy Spirit guide the participants and read this timely volume: Orthodox Christianity at the Crossroad: A Great Council of the Church - When and Why One of the many tracts that the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) organization has distributed during its twenty years of service to Holy Orthodoxy in North America is An Orthodox Christian Church in the United States: Unified and Self-governed, copyrighted in 2000. It is given out at all meetings and sent to the mailing list of the organization. On the outside back cover is a statement entitled “Resolution for Autocephaly Adopted October 10, 1998,” in which an appeal is made to His All Holiness, … [Read more...]

Canon 28 and Constantinople’s Jurisdictional Claims

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The American Orthodox Church at a Crossroads

George Michalopulos, frequent contributor to the AOI blog and author of several articles on the AOI website, is this week's guest on The Illumined Heart, a program on Ancient Faith Radio. In June 2009 leaders of all autocephalous Orthodox Churches - excluding the OCA or any representatives from North America - meet in Cyprus or Geneva (undetermined at the date of this posting), at a meeting convened by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew I. This meeting is being called to discuss "the so-called Orthodox Diaspora, with a view to overcoming every possible influence that is foreign to Orthodox ecclesiology." The American Orthodox situation and its disunity is at the top of the agenda. In this edition of The Illumined Heart, host Kevin Allen and author George C. Michalopulos discuss this meeting, the history and state of Orthodoxy in North America and possible outcomes of this potentially pivotal convocation. Listen to Part 1 Listen to Part 2   … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill welcomes Metropolitan Jonah in Moscow

Metropolitan Jonah (left) and Patriarch Kirill in Moscow

Official statement from the Moscow Patriarchate (HT: Byzantine, TX, and Rocor United): On the 26th of April 2009, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America served liturgy with Patriarch Kirill at Christ the Savior Cathedral. The Patriarch then addressed Metropolitan Jonah with the following words: Your Eminence Jonah, Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of all America and Canada, beloved in Christ brother and co-celebrant! Wise bishops and priests! Dear brothers and sisters! Christ is Risen! It brings me great joy to greet the delegation of the Orthodox Church in America headed by His Eminence Vladyka Jonah during these bright Paschal days. In your first official visit as a newly-chosen primate, which you are making to the Moscow Patriarchate, you have emphasized the special interrelation of American Orthodoxy with its Mother Church. This relation, filled with a spirit of love and unity, truly can be characterized by the words of the apostle, “One … [Read more...]

Fr. Alexander Schmemann on Primacy in the Orthodox Church

Many of the current jurisdictional controversies within the Orthodox Church involving the Ecumenical Patriarch, relations between Constantinople and Moscow, the status of the "autocephalies" -- even the future of the American Orthodox Church -- hinge on the question of primacy. While Orthodox Christians have rejected the Roman model of primacy as "supreme power" over the Bishop and local Church, the question of primacy within the Orthodox Church is a complete muddle. In "The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology," an essay written in 1960 and now available on the AOI main site, Fr. Alexander Schmemann examines various aspects of the primacy question, an issue he describes as "on the agenda for our time." As he reminds us, the ecclesiological interpretation of primacy -- regional, autocephalous, and "universal" -- is "virtually absent" from from Orthodox theology. "We badly need a clarification of the nature and functions of all these primacies and, first of all, of the very concept … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarchate: American ‘Diaspora’ must submit to Mother Church

Arch. Elpidophoros Lamprianidis

The battle is joined. Highlight: With regards to the United States, the submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only fitting with the American society and mentality but also it opens up the horizons of possibilities for this much-promising region, which is capable of becoming an example of Pan-Orthodox unity and witness. The Mother Church of Constantinople safeguards for the Orthodox Church in America those provisions that are needed for further progress and maturity in Christ. Full text follows: Challenges of Orthodoxy in America And the Role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate By Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod (Chapel of the Holy Cross, March 16, 2009) Reverend Protopresbyter Nicholas Triantafyllou, President, Reverend Protopresbyter Thomas Fitzgerald, Dean of the School of Theology, Reverend and Esteemed Members of the Faculty and … [Read more...]

Met. Philip offers background on new Archpastoral Directive

Metropolitan Philip, the head of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America, issued a statement today explaining some of the background to the Archpastoral Directive of March 3. The letter follows: Beloved Hierarchs and Clergy, Members of the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese, Parish Councils and Faithful of this God-Protected Archdiocese: Greetings and blessings during this Holy Lenten Season! There have been some questions raised regarding the February 24th decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which addressed the status of bishops across the entire See of Antioch. The purpose of this letter is to try to answer these questions so that confusion may be avoided. The first question deals with whether or not I am supportive of the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which was taken on February 24, 2009. I am supportive of this decision, for a simple reason. I am convinced that the institutional structure of our Archdiocese here requires it at this time. One of the … [Read more...]

Met. Jonah: Episcopacy, Primacy, and the Mother Churches

In June, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America delivered a talk on "Episcopacy, Primacy, and the Mother Churches: A Monastic Perspective" at the Conference of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius at St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary. The audio of the talk is available on Ancient Faith Radio along with the other presentations from the conference. The PDF version of Metropolitan Jonah's presentation is available on the OCA site, where the Church is also archiving his articles and speeches. On the subject of the Mother Churches and the “Diaspora,” Metropolitan Jonah has this to say: ... almost all national Churches have extended their jurisdictions beyond their geographic and political boundaries to the so-called diaspora. But Orthodox Christians who are faithful to the Gospel and the Fathers cannot admit of any such thing as a diaspora of Christians. Only ethnic groups can be dispersed among other ethnic groups. Yet the essential principle of geographic … [Read more...]