In a stinging rebuke to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America issued a call for a unified American Church and rejected any path to unity that would mean “we surrender the freedom we have embraced as American Orthodox Christians to a patriarchate still under Islamic domination.” The video here records his sermon on April 5 at Pan-Orthodox vespers at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas.
Although he did not mention him by name, the Metropolitan was responding to a speech given March 16 at Holy Cross School of Theology by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, chief secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In the speech, Fr. Lambriniadis was critical of calls for unity by both the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese and OCA and asserted that “submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate” is the proper mode of unity for American Orthodox Christians.
To such a suggestion, Metropolitan Jonah said: “I would submit that, if we wanted a pope, we would be under the real one.”
He asserted that a Church dedicated to the conciliar process does not ignore the voice of the laity or the priests. The metropolitan spoke of Old World hierarchs “who are ignorant of our saints and who refuse to recognize the sacrifice of so many of those who have come before us in Christ to establish the Gospel here.”
During his sermon, Metropolitan Jonah repeatedly cited the sacrifices that Orthodox Christians have made for more than 200 years to bring the Gospel “in its wholeness” to North America. But this sacrifice, he says, is devalued by Old World hierarchs who believe that they are the only criterion of Orthodoxy.
“We can’t allow our Church to be controlled by people who have no appreciation of our culture and have to bow to the Turkish Islamic authorities,” the metropolitan said.
He concluded with an affirmation that the Church of the Apostles exists in America, in the Orthodox Church “now here in our midst. It was planted by our fathers in the faith generations ago on this continent and it has grown and borne fruit. And it subsists out of our common, sacrificial commitment to Jesus Christ. So let us give thanks to God for our unity. Let us give thanks to God for our diversity. And let us affirm to our bishops that they might tell the churches of the Old World that there is an American Orthodox Church. Leave it alone!”