AXIOS! Seminary Pro Life Group Gears Up for Busy Year

AXIOS! AXIOS! AXIOS! The story about the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Pro Life Group (below) gives me hope. The OCA has always been clear about the intrinsic, God-given, value of unborn life much to their credit. So have the Antiochians, ROCOR and every other jurisdiction. The moral tradition is quite clear: all human life holds inestimable value and when we devalue the life of one, then we devalue the life of all. Yes, Christendom has not always be faithful to the precept, but there is a world of difference between hypocrisy and retooling the tradtion. Hypocrisy still tips the hat to virtue. Moral relativism however, erodes the authority of the tradition and blinds the mind to the sufferings that inevitably result when the tradition is weakened, or worse, abandoned.

This, perhaps, is why the Fathers were so strong (some would say strident) in the condemnation of abortion (see: The Fathers of the Orthodox Church on Abortion). Were they as condemnatory in their face to face dealings with people seeking healing from the trauma (and, yes, abortion is trauma)? Not likely. They were pastors after all. But sometimes pastoral responsibility requires drawing clear lines, and maybe then, as now, a blurring of the lines about the value of the defenseless portended a collapse of the safety and well-being of others who did not possess the wealth and standing of the privileged and strong.

Why the GOA, the only jurisdiction that refuses to take a clear stand on the sanctity of human life, can’t see this is cause for worry. Their reasoning is flaccid, rising no higher than the shibboleths of popular culture (see: A patriarch who ‘generally speaking, respects human life’). A particularly egregious quote:

Do not expect from a patriarch orders or prohibitions about how to love each other! As both Bartholomew and his predecessor, Athenagoras, have stated: if a man and a woman truly love one another, I have no business in their bedroom!

Someone needs to remind His Holiness that abortions don’t happen in bedrooms. They happen in abortuaries. He also needs to be reminded that by defending his position in the jargon of pro-abortion polemics, he increases the moral confusion within society and serves only the culture of death in the end.

How can this relativizing of the moral tradition be justified? It can’t. Moral relativism is corrosive and silence in one area will beget silence in the next. It’s like the man who hides sin. Keep it hidden long enough and after a while other sins don’t seem so sinful anymore. Stay there long enough and then only a catastrophic event can awaken the slumbering mind and compel the heart toward the repentance necessary for salvation and life.

Again, AXIOS! to the St. Vladimir’s Pro Life Group. Don’t be deterred by the critics, and be especially cautious of those who counsel such things as moderation, temperance, compassion and other powerful precepts drawn from the moral tradition. Weigh how those words are used very carefully. You will find that sometimes they are used not because your critic holds them as virtues, but because he is uncomfortable with your insistence that ideas that devalue persons must be challenged. He desires your silence because he values security over truth.

Source: St. Vladimir’s Seminary | HT: Byzantine, TX

The St. Vladimir’s Seminary Pro Life Group met on September 12, 2012, to elect officers and discuss plans for the 2012-2013 school year.

Hdn. Fr. Herman (Majkrzak), lecturer in Liturgical Music, warmly welcomed new and experienced students alike, noting that while the group is only in its second year, the Seminary has had a continual presence for many years at the March for Life. Held annually in Washington D.C. on the anniversary of Roe vs Wade, the March protests the Supreme Court decision which effectively legalized abortion in all fifty states. Father Herman noted that abortion is the single greatest genocide perpetrated in human history; the Alan Guttmacher Institute reported in 2008 that there were approximately 42 million abortions performed annually worldwide.

After electing new officers—Dn. Andre Paez for President, Fr. James Stevens as Treasurer, and Seminarian Steve Osburn as Student Liaison, the group laid out an ambitious agenda for the school year.

Plans include:

• Attendance at the March for Life, Friday. January 25, 2013;
• Sponsorship of a public lecture featuring distinguished bioethicist Dr. Tristram Engelhardt, tentatively scheduled for Sunday, January 20, 2013;
• Sponsorship of a Rachel’s Vineyard presentation and training on campus—the Vineyard facilitates post-abortion healing and help;
• Management of a booth at Orthodox Education Day, which will include information about SVOTS March for Life involvement, educational brochures and videos, and announcements about Dr. Engelhardt’s lecture.

Additionally, the group pledged to continue the diaper and bottle drives for the Good Counsel Homes, which offer a loving family environment in a safe and secure shelter for women in crisis pregnancies. The members also would like to create a SVOTS pro life Facebook page, and are exploring the possibility of hosting of a workshop about end of life issues.


  1. Speaking of other Orthodox hierarchs who have also refused “to take a clear stand on the sanctity of human life”, I am reminded of Metropolitan Savas (Zembillas) and his views on abortion. This particular quote has been prominently displayed in the Favorite Quotes section of his facebook page for a long time.

    Metropolitan Savas (Zembillas) on abortion:

    “Given the demographics of abortion—which shows a terrible over-representation of young, single, urban, low-income African-American women—I do not understand how a pro-life agenda can be divorced from a social justice agenda. It is impossible for a Christian to acquiesce in policies that allow doctors to suck the life out of a fetus—yet it is deplorably common for Christians to eagerly encourage ‘conservative’ policies that perpetuate poverty, substandard education, and inadequate healthcare for these littlest ones, once they have left the womb.”

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

      That’s the trouble with Progressive thinking. Progressive ideas have shaped the dependency culture especially in black urban areas that have essentially destroyed the Black family infrastructure. Then, to deal with the fallout, Progressives offer abortion to ostensibly solve the problems their ideas have fostered. There is seldom any self-reflection in the Progressive ranks, just a repeat of the moralizations used to implement the policies in the first place.

      An example? Progressive resistance against school choice is virtually unanimous. They would prefer to keep poor children in substandard government schools for fear of healing the dependency and losing the Black vote. America’s worst performing schools are in Democratically controlled inner-cities.

  2. I keep waiting to see actual information about those specific “conservative policies” that “perpetuate poverty, substandard education, and inadequate healthcare for these littlest ones” and have never heard one example from this leftists-progressive bishop. Even when Met. Savas was asked directly by several conservatives to explain himself he refused to engage and eventually banned/blocked a few Orthodox Christians who dared to ask him these kinds of “uncomfortable” questions.

    Like John Couretas summarized it: “Shut up!” or “Pay, pray, and obey!” is the frequent response that priests and the laity get when they dare challenge or question the morally vacuous proclamations of these Orthodox “leaders.” Don’t they realize that such condescension are signs of cowardice and weakness. Rather than re-inforce and confirm their authority these kinds of attitudes undermine their leadership and diminish their righteous authority. Rational sheep will not be fooled by these kinds of games.

    Here is the risk inherent in leadership: The greater the leader’s power, wealth, authority, and influence, the more likely the leader could succumb to ethical lapses and moral failings. The risk increases if the organization has a culture that lacks financial or managerial transparency and accountability, has insufficient checks and balances on executive power, and discourages criticism from subordinates or members. When a leader with a poorly developed ethical or moral sense ends up leading an organization with a culture that prevents ethical self-examination, a slow but perfect storm starts to form that demands compromise from all levels of leadership and eventually leads to catastrophic consequences.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

      I’ve been thinking about your comment all day Chris. In actual fact, it’s the Progressive policies that have perpetuated the breakdown. You have to ask given the catastrophic failure if the real racism doesn’t actually exist there. How else do you explain that almost 75% of the abortions that Planned Parenthood performs are on Black children, and that most of their clinics are located in poorer neighborhoods? Yes, I realize this is politically incorrect but the numbers don’t lie.

  3. macedonianreader says

    But I don’t think we’re completely divorced from a social justice agenda – ours is just actually based on Church teaching.

  4. Michael Bauman says

    So called ‘social justice’ ends up in tryanny.

  5. Cynthia Curran says

    Well, I found out that in Christ’s time Jews also opposed abortion. Both Philo and Josephus write about Jews opposing abortion as well in the late first century, so naturally the rabbis of Christ’s time and religious leaders also opposed it earlier There is opposition even in pagan culture since the father is denied heirs. Also, criticism even in pagan culture of wealthy wives committing adultery by covering it up by abortion in the writings of Juvenal.

  6. Cynthia Curran says

    Well, the problem is most American poor are better off on average than rich people in the middle ages. Granted, there are some struggling between food and rent or are homeless but this doesn’t justify abortion. Also, people were certainly more poorer in the age of Justinian but abandoning children to die or selling your daughter into sex slavery was against the law in that time period as well. If he is concern why not have a pro-life left which I think is mainly limited to Roman Catholics.

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