Episcopal Assembly Responds: Remember the Victims of Abortion

It is good to see this public statement by the Episcopal Assembly released today. Hopefully it is the beginning of a unified Orthodox voice that can bring moral clarity to the larger culture. I wish the statement drew clearer distinctions but given Constantinople’s statement of moral equivocation and the moral confusion it reveals, it’s hard to see how clarity can come if one party insists on remaining morally muddled. Nevertheless, it’s something and let’s hope we can expect better in the future.

Source: Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops

Saturday, January 22, 2011 marks the 38th anniversary of the decision by the United States Supreme Court known as “Roe v. Wade.” Orthodox Christians are asked to prayerfully remember the victims of abortion, and to educate themselves about and support life-affirming, Church-related agencies and organizations, such as Zoe for Life, Orthodox Christians for Life, and The Tree House


  1. Geo Michalopulos :

    THAT’S IT? nothing more? I don’t want to sound like an OCA-triumphalist here but the comparison with what the OCA puts out every year (and the fact that our bishops actually march in DC) is a stunning contrast to all the other jurisdictions. Please, if I’m wrong correct me.

    I suppose we should be grateful that the EA even made such a casual mention. *Sigh*.

    Since I’m on a rant, how about this for a suggestion: that we stop referring to the Church of Constantinople as “Constantinople.” The use of that term is a serious slap in the face to a venerable patriarchate where the Gospel was proclaimed and the Faith defended. It’s not even a shadow of that once great Church anymore. From now on, I will refer to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Phanar, etc. as merely “Istanbul.”

  2. Is this really a public statement? Sad indeed! The EA cannot even muster the energy to put forth a pastoral letter and have the bishops sign it. The four lines by the EA reveal more confusion and disarray than anything else. Its not even an official press release. It does not contain a quote from “the Chairman” or any officer of the EA. It does not acknowledge the March for Life. Its like an event that pops up on your outlook calendar. Its not an official communication.

    Here is another thing. It does not mention FOCUS North America as a “Life affirming ministry”

    Are you telling me the wizards of smart down at 79th Street could not muster anything better? If the EA is going to be successful it cannot lets its public witness echo the current news cycle. It must use the Gospel to shape the culture.

  3. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Want to get some action? Convince Constantinople that abortion contributes to global warming.

    Maybe Constantinople should recuse itself whenever a bio-ethical question is raised. It hasn’t offered any substantive comment on anything except abortion, and then it only confused the question.

    The OCA and AOA have plenty of position papers all in accord with the moral tradition. This release could have been an easy cut and paste.

    • Scott Pennington :

      Do position papers mean anything whatsoever if your real position is that it’s ok to support abortion and receive the Gifts? That’s the message, the only important one anyway.

      George questioned the necessity of having bishops given the silence of many on this issue. Do we actually have bishops at all? Do people who flagrantly and decidedly flaunt their duty to exercise discipline within the Church even deserve the appelation “bishop” in light of its etymology? They oversee evil. Speaking and position papers are just leaves in the wind. “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Position papers are nothing. Who reads them but the choir?

      Perhaps the bishops really do not deserve to be taken seriously at all.

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

        Actually, they mean a whole lot, even if they are not followed. They clarify the tradition and where the tradition is not followed, they reveal hypocrisy which is also a good thing because it gives us something to work with.

        • Scott Pennington :

          What is “something to work with”, precisely? Tradition can be clarified from the solea. The reason they mean nothing is because there are no consequences whatsoever for thumbing ones nose at the whole matter.

          A good example of what happens, by analogy, is what happened to the Miranda warnings that the police are required to give. Someone did a study once and asked people what these warnings meant. Overwhelmingly the response was, “it means you’re under arrest”. Few said, “it means that you have a right to an attorney, etc.”; i.e., what the words actually mean. It’s just something the police say when they arrest you. That’s the impession people got from pop culture (which the police do nothing to discourage).

          The reason that the speeches, etc. are nothing is that those who are not of the same opinion to begin with just write it off as something this or that bishop has to say in public because of his office. Or they think the bishop is retro and old fashioned and that the Church can be changed to a more progressive understanding from within. It’s just his personal opinion and the Church is more broadminded than that. Or they just simply ignore it like muzak. What bishops don’t do is more educational to the laity than what they do. They do not put their money where their mouths are because they fear the economic consequences of doing so. Mammon is more important than the unborn. Statements mean nothing because they signify nothing but emotion, not action and certainly not consequences. The statements would mean something if they were accompanied by actions which clearly communicated that publicly supporting a position that the Church finds monstrous has practical consequences for your status in the community. But that would take courage and courage is in very short supply these days.

          The situation we have now is that there are Orthodox who use their mouths to publicly support the killing of the unborn and then, on Sunday, use those same mouths to receive communion. And statements and marches are going to do nothing to change that. The Church hierarchy owes it to the faithful not to give the impression that “pro-choice” is just a political position but rather a repudiation of the Orthodox faith. The ones who are harmed the most by this state of affairs, apart from the unborn, are the pro-abortion politicians and proponents. By allowing them to receive, the Church is telling them that it’s not that big a deal, regardless of what Met. Johah says at a rally. And that leaves their eternal souls in peril.

      • I agree completely with Fr. Johannes. Its easy to get carried away but we should avoid any occasion for despair let alone throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Time to re-focus once again.

  4. Sad is not the word. Disgusting is probably not even harsh enough. And, George, you are right. The problem comes from the top. For those that have never read this, here is a statement by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia on the subject issued over 20 years ago.

    Dearly beloved,

    With this letter, I wish to address in particular the sensitivity and charity of all the faithful of our Archdiocese in order to remind the sacredness of human life, which apparently we have not yet taken as seriously as we should.

    I do not refer to the daily actions at the expense of the bodily and spiritual health of our fellow human beings or of ourselves, for which we are certainly responsible before God.

    I mean rather the hardness and criminality against human life in its still embryonic state, unable to defend itself or protest.

    I mean the question of mass abortions which is silently turning our contemporary – supposedly Christian or at least humanitarian – societies into a field of invisible slaughter without anyone condemning publicly the numbers of victims and magnitude of this cruelty.

    Official statistics given by the relevant state authorities claim that in New South Wales alone, during the year 1988-89 31,351 abortions took place. Of these, only 1% were necessitated by medical opinion owing to the immediate danger of the pregnant woman.

    These numbers constitute a terrible sign of our behaviour in the most sacred matter in which God calls us to become His close collaborators. However, it unfortunately appears that the issue of abortion in contemporary societies has almost become a matter of routine, without any moral problematic. Otherwise one cannot explain the ease with which one decides about an abortion today, just as one decides to extract a tooth.

    We must therefore remember that whatever the reason leading couples to decide to cease in a violent manner an undesired pregnancy, the good of life and of existence lies totally in God”s hands, and we must know that any intervention entangles us in a profound mystery.

    Our Church, as in all similar moral issues, does not respond with a blind answer of “yes” or “no”. The first thing it says is “Stand well!” This means: “Be careful!” And when in this way one realises that one is dealing with a question of life or death – not only of physical death, but also spiritual – then one is in a position to weigh up in the fear of God both the opinion of responsible science and the advice of the spiritual confessor.

    I wish and pray fervently that our faithful may see this tremendous moral subject with renewed responsibility and act in each specific case according to the sacredness of the problem.

    With paternal love in the Lord

    His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos
    From Voice of Orthodoxy, v. 11/1-2, January-February 1990
    the official publication of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia

    George, does modern Greek have the words “yes” and “no” in the vocabulary or are they only missing in the Istanbulic dialect?

    • I guess they’re no longer believers in this clear and unambiguous teaching from Christ: “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37).

    • Remember in Russia and Greece abortion is so common it is defacto birth control. When I go to a museum and see there folks making barrels and jousting I appreciate their adherence to history. Do people go there looking for life advice? Not so much.

    • Neuhaus’ Law “When Orthodoxy is optional, sooner or later it will be proscribed”

    • George Michalopulos :

      I was really glad to read that statement from Australia. It seems that they haven’t been affected by the same sophistry that the Istanbullers have. We blame the bishops (and they do deserve the lion’s share of the blame) but how many of them quake before the Greekist/Democrat axis? The laity deserve reproach as well. If I wasn’t a Christian I would say the situation is hopeless. Instead I’ll settle for dire.

  5. By the way, if you go to the Phanar website and type in the search term “abortion”, This is what you get:

    There were no search results.

    Try the same search on the Vatican website and you get 445 hits.

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