July 28, 2014

Met. Jonah addresses the future of Orthodoxy in America

Address given at the SVS conference on Orthodoxy unity in America, June 20, 2009. Highlight: Met. Jonah introduces into official discourse the need to de-imperialize Orthodox ecclesiology. 1917 Council and Tomos: St Tikhon’s Vision Then and Now The Great Council of 1917, and the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church that it began, are aspects of the de-imperialization of the Orthodox Church and its canonical structures. This began a process of the transcendence of the imperial domination of Orthodox ecclesiology, which reigned from Constantine and Theodosius to Nicholas II, and the beginning of the adaptation to a new era in which the Church is independent of the state. This was the beginning of a new conciliar vision, which has developed significantly over the past century. What it did is to set up a new set of structural and canonical interpretations, demanding a worldwide rethinking of Orthodox ecclesiology. The fruit of this vision, partially, is the … [Read more...]

AsiaNews: ‘Historic’ decision in Chambésy

On the Roman Catholic site AsiaNews, Nat da Polis files a report on the Fourth Pre-Conciliar meeting of Orthodox hierarchs who assembled last week in Switzerland to discuss the problem of the "diaspora." Da Polis views the pending trip of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul as a "significant step" in sorting out the disarray. Story follows. Historic Orthodox decision, migrant communities to have their own bishops’ conferences Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The first of two meetings scheduled for 2009 was held in Sabezy [Chambésy, Switzerland, ed.] to prepare the much awaited Pan-Orthodox Synod. In agreeing to set up Bishops’ Conferences for Orthodox Diaspora communities, the meeting reached a historic decision. According to existing rules, Orthodox believers living outside their country of origin fall under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. However, the large-scale migration that followed the collapse of the Iron Curtain generated … [Read more...]

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...]

Our Freedom Never Fully Realized

Fr. Contos

In 1981, the Very Rev. Leonidas C. Contos delivered a lecture titled "2001: The Church in Crisis." Fr. Contos said the title was chosen because the American Orthodox Church had been in a crisis "for a very long time" and he wanted to fix a reference point for speculations on what the Church's situation might look like at some future date. That date has come and gone, but Fr. Contos' reflections are now, just as they were nearly three decades ago, worthy of our consideration. Few have written so honestly and so intelligently about the problems of American Orthodoxy. Fr. Contos questioned the use of the term "diaspora" and said this: For so long as we are conditioned, in our polity and in our cultural life, by the diaspora complex, however subconsciously, we will be inhibited in the fullest realization of our ‘church-hood.’ More importantly, so long as we are perceived from without as a diaspora—a branch, an offshoot, a transplant, an emigration—by the Mother Church (and, if the … [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...]

‘On a Summoning of the Great Council’

In response to the "First Pre-Conciliar Conference" held in Chambesy, Switzerland (near Geneva) in November 1976, Archimandrite Dr. Justin Popovic composed "On A Summoning of the Great Council of the Orthodox Church." In this, Fr. Popovic (1894-1979), spiritual father of the monastery of Celie Valjevo (Serbia), expressed his "grievous considerations for the future council." The Orthodox Christian Information Center has the complete text here. This letter is "dated" in that, written more than 30 years ago, it could not foresee the fall of communism and the revival of the Russian Church, nor anticipate the expansion of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to include members from outside of Turkey. And it is always risky to draw close analogies from one historical moment to the present. But some of the language in the letter reads as if it could have been written yesterday. Here are some selections in which Fr. Popvich gives some thoughts on the "diaspora" and the … [Read more...]

A Brief Roundup

peck

Odds and ends: Patriarchal meetings; accusations of Uniatism; clerical sauna baths. What's it all about? President Victor Yuschenko of Ukraine met with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Patriarchal Residence in Tarabya, as part of the President's working visit to Turkey. The Archons site reports that "a cordial and whole-hearted discussion on issues of common concern" took place on May 20. Discussions were held on a representative office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate opening in Ukraine in the format of a churchyard or a cultural and informational center. The two leaders also addressed ways to step up contacts between Ukraine and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. President Yuschenko said he wants this dialogue to be intensified at all levels and confirmed his country's interest in establishing a local Orthodox Church in Ukraine. His Excellency also said he is convinced that "the Ecumenical Church and the personal wisdom and efforts of the Ecumenical … [Read more...]

Servants of Each Other

orrologion says it's time to open the windows of our Orthodox house and let in some fresh air: I for one am glad that these sorts of conversations are being had. They reveal us. Our creation myths can be challenged. Our skewed views of ourselves can be corrected. Greeks can hear how they are perceived; Russians and Americans and Arabs likewise. We're all used to the smell of our own stink; we forgive our own pet sins, but not others'. We can see how our actions (and lack of actions) hurt others, and we can change (hopefully). We can compare and contrast our strengths and weaknesses, our love, our piety, our good works, patience, kindness. We can learn from each other and grow. We can live rather than simply preserve and grasp. We can see how Orthodoxy is not only what I grew up with, what 'my' spiritual father told, what Prof./Fr../Geronda/Vladyka said it was - we can see Orthodoxy is bigger than my family, my clan, my tribe, my culture, my opinions, my theological clique. Our … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarch Decries Turkish Property Seizures

AsiaNews is reporting that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has "announced his intention to appeal to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg over violations against the Orthodox community and its foundations, unjustly expropriated of lands and buildings by Ankara’s Direction for Religious Foundations." Speaking to faithful in St Georges’ Parish, close to the Byzantine walls of Istanbul, the Patriarch affirmed that the decision to go to the Strasbourg court was made by the Synod: We have and you have come here to celebrate this religious ceremony in a parish that is facing many difficulties. Unfortunately it is not alone. The problem is that this parish and its community, as is the case with many other's of the Church of Constantinople, have been abusively declared mazbut (occupied) by the Direction for Religious Foundations. This means that we cannot claim any rights to the management of the properties of this community, nor proceed with the election of its … [Read more...]

Fr. Jensen: Where is the leadership?

On his blog Koinonia, Fr. Gregory Jensen responds to the Holy Cross faculty letter which, he says, "reflects no serious criticism of the failures of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to provide effective leadership either in the United States much less world wide." Excerpt: In my view, I think that the leadership of the Ecumenical Throne and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has been mixed at best. The events leading up to the autocephaly of the OCA are illustrative of this. When the old Metropolia approached the Ecumenical Patriarchate ASKING for assistance in regularizing its relationship with the rest of the Orthodox Church, it was told that it had to address its concerns to the Moscow Patriarchate. It did and the result was the creation in 1970 of the OCA. Far from being a rejection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate the OCA was the fruit of the Ecumenical Throne's unwillingness to involve herself in the life of the Church in America. Another failure to take a leadership … [Read more...]

Holy Cross Faculty Weighs in on ‘Distinctive Prerogatives’ of Ecumenical Patriarch

The Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass., released a "Faculty Statement on the Ecumenical Patriarchate" on April 30 and posted it on the school's Web site on May 8. HT: Andrew. Text follows: The Leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Significance of Canon 28 of Chalcedon The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the preeminent Church in the communion of the fourteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches. Reflecting the witness of St. Andrew, the First Called Apostle, the enduring mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is to proclaim the salutary Gospel of Jesus Christ in accordance with the Apostolic and Orthodox Faith. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has a particular responsibility to strengthen the unity of the Orthodox Churches and to coordinate their common witness. At the same time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has a specific responsibility to care for the faithful in lands beyond the borders of the other Autocephalous … [Read more...]

It Is Time To Be Direct

An interview published in the Russian language Blagovest-Info on April 28, 2009. Highlight: Blagovest-Info: During the six months you have occupied the chair of the Archbishop of Washington, you had to prove yourself a leader unafraid of expressing your stance, even if, to some, it may seem not to be politically correct. Suffice it to recall your recent speech in Dallas. To what extent, in your opinion, should directness and diplomacy be combined among hierarchs? +Jonah: I think it is time to be direct. We can be politically correct, but we will be buried. Can we afford to play Byzantine political games, in which they simply do not take us into account? And I want my voice to be heard in the upcoming discussions concerning the problem of the Orthodox Diaspora. I do not want to offend anyone - especially the Ecumenical Patriarch, - but I want my Church’s position to be heard and acknowledged. It is essential that we participate in decisions regarding our fate." HT: Orthodox … [Read more...]