Orthodox Churches Episcopal Assembly in L.A.

Source: Iglesia Catholica Apostilica Orthodoxa De Antioquia

Use Google translator above.

Asamblea Episcopal de Iglesias Ortodoxas en L.A.

Los días del 16 al 18 de abril marcarán la historia de la Iglesia Ortodoxa en Sudamérica, por la realización de la “Primera Asamblea Episcopal de las Iglesias Ortodoxas en Sudamérica” en la sede del Arzobispado Antioqueno de San Pablo (Brasil); anfitrión de la misma estuvo S.E.R. Monseñor Damaskinos. Participaron de dicha reunión los obispos de todas las Iglesias Ortodoxas (Patriarcado de Constantinopla, Patriarcado de Antioquía, Patriarcado de Moscú, Patriarcado de Rumania), contando con la presencia de 10 jerarcas, faltando únicamente el obispo del Patriarcado de Serbia, por su participación en la reunión del Santo Sínodo Serbio.

El objetivo de la Asamblea fue implementar lo resuelto en la 4ª Conferencia Episcopal en Chambésy (Suiza) en 2009, de las Iglesias Ortodoxas en vista de crear en todo el mundo Asambleas de Obispos para un mayor testimonio de la Ortodoxia y para coordinar trabajo en conjunto en distintas áreas (educación, catequesis, traducciones de textos litúrgicos, relación con las autoridades públicas, etc.). En la reunión se trató de la adopción de una versión en español de los documentos aprobados en Chambésy, y se presentó la situación de cada Iglesia Ortodoxa en Sudamérica. La Asamblea estableció un Comité Ejecutivo, cuyos integrantes son S.E.R. Monseñores: Athenágoras de México (Presidente, Patriarcado de Constantinopla), Antonio de México (1er Vice-presidente, Patriarcado de Antioquía), Platón de Buenos Aires (2do Vice-presidente, Patriarcado de Moscú), Siluan de Buenos Aires (Secretario, Patriarcado de Antioquía), y Tarasios de Buenos Aires (Miembro, Patriarcado de Constantinopla). Al finalizar las deliberaciones, la Asamblea elevó una serie de recomendaciones a fin de ser tratadas a nivel inter-ortodoxo.

Sin lugar a dudas, la cima de la reunión fue la celebración de la divina liturgia dominical en la Catedral Antioquena de San Pablo que contó con la participación de todas las comunidades ortodoxas de San Pablo, y dignatarios representando a distintas autoridades tanto públicas, como religiosas y sociales.

La Asamblea saludó especialmente al Presidente de Brasil, Luis Ignacio Lula Da Silva, por la diligencia y deferencia que ha tenido en expresar, a través de su comunicado dirigido a la Asamblea, las palabras por el éxito de esta primera reunión y los buenos deseos para los frutos a favor de las comunidades en toda Suramérica. También, la Asamblea agradeció a S.E.R. Monseñor Damaskinos por su fraternal acogida, hospitalidad y diligencia en la organización, y también a todas las entidades de la colectividad sirio-libanesa de San Pablo por el cariño y la atención para con los participantes de la Asamblea.


  1. The text of the article as translated by me.

    The 16th and 18th of April marked the history of the Orthodox Church in South America, due to the realization of the “First Episcopal Assembly of the Orthodox Churches of South-America”, in the headquarters of the Antiochian Archepiscopal Diocese of São Paulo (Brazil), having as the host H.E. Monsenor Damaskinos. The bishops of the Orthodox Churches (Patriarchate of Constantinople, Patriarchate of Antioch, Patriarchate of Moscow and Patriarchate of Romenia) took part in the assembly, which counted with the presence of 10 hierarchs. The only one missing was the Bishop of the Patriarchate of Serbia, who was participating in the Serbian Holy Synod.(*)

    The objective of the Assembly was to implement the results of the 4th Episcopal Conference of Chambésy (Switzerland) in 2009, in which the Orthodox Churches gathered to create all over the world assemblies of bishops for a greater testimony of Orthodoxy and to coordinate group work in different areas (education, catechesis, translations of liturgical texts, relations with public authorities, etc.). In this meeting, it was discussed the adoption of a new version in Spanish(**) of the documents approved in Chambésy, and the situation in each Orthodox Church in South-America was presented. The Assembly established an Executive Committee, whose members are Their Emminences Mosenores: Athenagoras of Mexico (President, Patriarchate of Mexico), Anthony of Mexico (1st Vice-President, Patriarchate of Antioch), Plato of Buenos Aires (2nd Vice-President, Patriarchate of Moscow), Siluan of Buenos Aires (Secretary, Patriarchate of Antioch), and Tarasios of Buenos Aires (Member, Patriarchate of Constantinople). At the end of the deliberations, the Assembly brought up a number of recomendations to be dealt with in a inter-Orthodox level.

    With no doubts, the meeting was crowned with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Antiochian Cathedral of São Paulo, which counted with the participation of the orthodox communities of the city and dignataries representing different public, religious and social authorities.

    The Assembly greeted in particular the President of Brazil, Luís Ignácio Lula da Silva, for his dilligence and defference shown in expressing through a letter to the Assembly, words for the success of this first meeting and his good wishes for all the communities in South America. Also, the Assembly thanked H.E. Monsenor Damaskinos for his fraternal reception, his hospitality and dilligence in the organization of the event, and also for all the entities of the sirian-lebanese community of São Paulo for the warmth and attention for all the participants of the Assembly.


    My Comments

    (*) This is an odd statement, since the organizers had already issued a public apology for not having invited the Brazilian bishops of the Polish Missionary Diocese in Brazil. One could even understand listing the ones who were present, but by saying that the only one missing was H.E. Don Mitrophan of the Serbian church, it implies that the absence of the missionary bishops was … not an absence after all.

    (**) That despite the fact that Brazil, which extends for half the continent of South-America, does not speak Spanish, but Portuguese. I understand that most of the bishops are in hispanic countries, but imho, it raises the question that Brazil, for cultural and linguistic reasons, requires an assembly of bishops of its own.

    The fact that the language is different means that an entire parallel effort of translations is needed. This is just the most explicit difference, but it is far from being the only significant one. Besides, there are Orthodox parishes in various states, but just four bishops who live in the country, two of which are the Polish bishops who are, so far, being ignored by the Assembly. The other two, Don Jeremias and Don Damaskinos, although receptive of Brazilians in their churches even in the clergy, lead jurisdictions that are, for historical reasons, concerned first and foremost with their respective ethnic groups.

    The “forgotten” bishops, along with the Serbian diocese, which was not present as well, are the only ones who have an active missionary focus. If it suggests any bias, it would be a bias against missionary groups. I really don’t think that there is any problem in having focus in groups caring for the ethnic communities and others focusing on mission among the natives, as long as, of course, both groups see each other as complementary and not as a threat or obstacle.

    In Brazil, in contrast to other countries, things usually happen from “up-down” and not “down-up” socially. What I mean is that while in some other countries you first have the people mobilizing to do something and that turns into new social institutions and values, in Brazil it is the institutions that have historically come first. The country itself was created this way and got its independence this way.

    What this means is that the creation of a formal institutional Brazilian synod (or “episcopal assembly”) is more likely to form a Brazilan Orthodox community than the opposite. The missionary Polish and Serbian churches are a case in point. Now, of course, if this institution fails to demonstrate what differentiates Orthodoxy from heterodoxies, mainly the Latins, there will not even be a message to be sent accross. Why would one go to the “exotic”, run-by-foreigners “Roman Church”, if one has the familiar, home grown, established for centuries, Roman Church? Why choose one over the other if “we all believe the same things under different wordings” as the ecumenists preach? I think that the Orthodox church in Brazil has been suffering from an accute lack of creativity for expressing love *and* truth regarding the relations with the heterodoxies. Double-baptisms, double-marriages are accepted on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” basis, giving communion to heterodox is more the rule than the exception, not to mention the downplay of the theological differences. I think that none of this is necessary to have a healthy and positive dialogue with the heterodoxies and even collaboration in the secular issues that affect all Christian communities. Plus, marking these differences in a loving and civilized way would clarify and highlight Orthodox truth.

    The Moscow Patriarchate has been signaling in the last couple of years interest in initiating missions in Latin-America. I hope that is the case and, to be honest, that a healthy competition from the Ecumenical Patriarchate over missionizing in South-America produces a real difference in attitudes regarding this continent.

  2. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Fabio, thanks much for the clarifications and expansions.

Care to Comment?