Category: Jurisdictionalism

how should unity occur?

by Andrea Elizabeth

This statement by Fr. Hopko and the following comments present some good questions about the goal of the Episcopal Assembly and Orthodox administrative unity. Right now I wonder if it is best that when one jurisdiction misbehaves, that there remain another one to go to. But if we were united maybe corrections would be made more internally in a conciliar way, and there would be less opportunity for one rogue to lead others astray? I also kind of like the way reconciliation is occurring one jurisdiction at a time like seems to be happening with the OCA and ROCOR.

Joint OCA/ROCOR Commission begins two-day meeting

Posted 10/05

SEA CLIFF, NY [OCA] The meeting of the members of the Joint Commission of the Orthodox Church in America and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia opened at Saint Seraphim Church [ROCOR] here on Tuesday, October 5, 2010. The meeting will continue on Wednesday, October 6 at Our Lady of Kazan Church [OCA], also in Sea Cliff.

The Joint Commission is meeting as a result of the directives of the OCA and ROCOR hierarchs to “discuss and resolve issues that have in the past stood in the way of full Eucharistic communion and to come to an understanding of how we can pray and work together in the future, said Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary.”

During the meeting the participants will celebrate an opening Service of Thanksgiving and Vespers on Tuesday and the Divine Liturgy on Wednesday morning.

OCA representatives include His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; Archpriests Alexander Garklavs, Leonid Kishkovsky and John Erickson; and Igumen Alexander [Pihach]. Mr. Alexis Liberovsky serves as a consultant.

ROCOR representatives include His Grace, Bishop George of Mayfield; Archimandrite Luke [Murianka]; Archpriests Alexander Lebedeff and David Moser; and Priest Peter Jackson. Archpriest Seraphim Gan, ROCOR Chancellor, also will be present.

Enough of the humble approach, time to call in reinforcements

by Andrea Elizabeth

The snub

the reinforcements

SYOSSET, NY [OCA] On Tuesday, August 31, 2010, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion [Alfeyev] of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, and permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate, concluded his three-day working visit to New York at the invitation of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah of All America and Canada.

[…]”Metropolitan Hilarion affirmed the Russian Orthodox Church’s commitment to uphold its granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America in 1970,” said Father Alexander Garklavs after the meeting. “Various prospects for future developments in the Orthodox world also were discussed.”

Metropolitan Jonah added that “though rather brief, the discussions with Metropolitan Hilarion were extremely positive and reiterated the deep symbolic and historical links between our Churches.”

[A photo gallery of the visit appears on the Web site of the Moscow Patriarchate at www.mospat.ru/en/2010/08/31/news25108.]

Later that day, Metropolitan Hilarion visited the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in New York, where he held a working meeting with His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios to discuss “a wide range of issues concerning relations between various Orthodox jurisdictions in North America,” as reported on the web site of the Moscow Patriarchate [see www.mospat.ru/en/2010/08/31/news25112]. Also participating in the meeting were Archpriest Mark Arey, Director of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical, and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Archdiocese, and Archpriest Seraphim Gan, Secretary of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia [ROCOR].

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk concludes US visit at the invitation of Metropolitan Jonah

Visit to St. Seraphim Church, Sea Cliff, NY. From left Fr. Seraphim Gan, Fr. Alexander Garklavs, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Metropolitan Jonah, ROCOR Metropolitan Hilarion, and Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky.

Metropolitan Hilarion also visited His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, with whom he “discussed a wide range of issues concerning cooperation between the Church in Russia and the Church in diaspora and inter-Orthodox cooperation in the American continent” [see www.mospat.ru/en/2010/08/31/news25110]. That evening, Metropolitan Jonah and Fathers Alexander Garklavs and Leonid Kishkovsky joined the Metropolitans and Father Seraphim Gan for a visit to and meeting at Saint Seraphim of Sarov Church [ROCOR], Sea Cliff, NY.


Metropolitan Jonah requests prayers in anticipation of North America’s first Episcopal Assembly

by Andrea Elizabeth

Posted 04/21

SYOSSET, NY [OCA] In anticipation of the first North American Episcopal Assembly, slated to convene in New York City May 25-27, 2010, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah has asked that special petitions be included in the Litany of Fervent Supplication.

Under the chairmanship of His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Assembly will bring together all canonical Orthodox hierarchs across the continent.

Comprehensive and informative background information on events and deliberations leading to the convocation of the Assembly may be found on the web site of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas at www.scoba.us/resources/chambesy_documents.html.

Metropolitan Jonah and all diocesan and auxiliary bishops of the Orthodox Church in America will participate fully in the Assembly proceedings.

Petitions to be included in the Litany of Fervent Supplication

[Following the petition for the living]

V: Again we pray to our merciful Lord that He may grant our Hierarchs gathering in Episcopal Assembly to grow in wisdom and strength, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to increase in love for each other, deepening Christian fellowship so that conciliar decisions may build up a canonically united Orthodox Christian Church of the Americas: we pray Thee, O Lord, hear us and have mercy.

R: Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

V: Again we pray that their work may be guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and that the Spirit of unity and love, of compassion and mutual respect, inspiring each to contribute what will build up the Body of Christ, may move us all to rejoice in the full unity of the Church, for the glory of Thy name, we beg Thee, hear us and have mercy.

R: Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

V: O Lord, Thou hast ordered us to do all things for Thy glory. Bless Thy people, uniting them for the building up of Thy Holy Orthodox Church of the Americas: O generous Creator; hear us and have mercy.

R: Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

[V: Again we pray for those who bring offerings…]

The Last Two Documents

by Andrea Elizabeth

Oh dear. I’m reading along fine with the explanation of why SCOBA is too weak to affect the changes that are now required to attain unity, and then I see the signatures. Where’s Metropolitan Jonah? – skip to the end, ok. Oh good, there’s the Moscow Patriarchate representative even further down. Wait, that’s not ROCOR. Why isn’t ROCOR represented? Skip back to the top,

+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

of course.

But then…

+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

What? Now I’m bothered. See The Ochlophobist for more details. Lord have mercy. How can there be open discussion with such an intimidator second in command? But Metropolitan Jonah and Fr. Oliver are optimistic… Lord have mercy.

Episcopal Assemblies

by Andrea Elizabeth

The next two documents, linked here, are from the pan-Orthodox Chambesy agreement. I note that the goal of canonical unity (one city, one Bishop) is proposed gently. During the transition phase, no Bishop is to lose any of his jurisdictional rights and powers. Possible flags raised regard the status of the OCA during these meetings. It is obvious that the Ecumenical Patriarch does not consider Metropolitan Jonah the head of autocephalous America. But with the OCA not having jurisdiction over the Greek, Antiochian, etc. Churches in America, we can see why His Beatitude isn’t considered to represent them. Metropolitan Jonah, who is joyfully looking forward to the first Assembly, does not seem concerned by this, so I guess the OCA’s canonicity at least is not considered a disqualifier. There was a clause though about the regional Assemblies reviewing the canonicity of non-Canonical Churches. In America, the other jurisdictions treat the OCA as canonical, so hopefully that wont be an issue.

The other flag is that the chairman in each region is to be a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch. The language so far sounds like he is to be first among equal voices, but we’ll see. As I hinted in my last post, I am concerned about the EP’s prioritizing the environment over human life. I have heard that he is pretty wishy washy regarding abortion. The advantage of a unified America is that it seems that other current jurisdictions will retain their influence and will hopefully be able to influence wrong positions such as excusing abortion. Moscow and the OCA are much stronger against it, so when policies are drafted by the Assembly, communities already under the EP will have to deal with the opposition. Anti-abortion people aren’t apt to let this get swept under the rug. And if more liberal Orthodox want unity as much as they say, then it will cost them at least this front, in my opinion.

There are two reasons I believe unified jurisdictions to be important. First is the accountability I mention above. If we’re going to start sharing Bishops, then any unOrthodox things that have been going on by some will hear about it from others. Hopefully. Right now we criticize other jurisdictions for this or that, but really don’t have any business changing any of it. If fraud and money laundering are going on in one jurisdiction and neither their Metropolitan nor their parent Church in the old country is doing anything about it, then right now, they’re getting by with it. Consequently, the other Orthodox jurisdictions get their reputation sullied when trying to witness Orthodoxy to other people. Which brings me to the other reason.

How can we tell people they need to become Orthodox, and that it doesn’t matter which of the 5 jurisdictional Churches in their area they go to, if we don’t trust each other enough to go to the other Churches ourselves? To pick one jurisdiction is to reject the others in most cases. The squabbling and the division weakens us all. People who aren’t for union fear compromise to their particular jurisdiction. Chambesy seems to protect canonical ethnic distinctions in the particular Churches. It doesn’t mention the Calendar. But like I say, if these differences are so important to maintain, how can we encourage people to become Orthodox in America without telling them to become only my particular Church’s jurisdiction (if we really care about the pure faith) or else they’ll be compromised? That’s a very poor witness to Catholicity if you ask me.

The Call of the Wild

by Andrea Elizabeth

Father Oliver has provided documents related to the upcoming Episcopal Assembly of the Orthodox Churches in North America. I would like to make a few observations regarding at least the first one, which I have just read.

In “Orthodox Christian Leaders meet at Ecumenical Patriarchate-” from Oct. 2008, I notice that the OCA was not represented. Perhaps this contributed to Metropolitan Jonah’s controversial speech where he pretty much said, the American Church doesn’t need the old world Churches (either). According to appearances, especially since Chambesy 2009, he has backed down from this position. I’m not too worried about the 2008 slight because it reflects the controversial standing of the OCA’s autocephally, which the Metropolitan has also since presented a more nuanced view on, stating the OCA as it was initially drafted, was meant to disappear anyway. This is my understanding at this point. If the Moscow Patriarchate had not been represented, I wouldn’t consider the 2008 meeting pan-Orthodox. Since Metropolitan Jonah has such a close relationship to the Moscow Patriarchate and the Valaam monasteries, I consider the OCA represented somewhat.

This statement captures my attention more than the others which are a little more politically oriented than I am at this point. I feel that the Church and her people need to get themselves right before we tackle the rest of the world. Part of this statement seems a little more to that end.

5. Under such circumstances, the contemporary witness of Orthodoxy for the ever increasing problems of humanity and of the world becomes imperative, not only in order to point out their causes, but also in order to directly confront the tragic consequences that follow. The various nationalistic, ethnic, ideological and religious contrasts continuously nurture dangerous confusion, not only in regard to the unquestionable ontological unity of the human race, but also in regard to man’s relationship to sacred creation. The sacredness of the human person is constrained to partial claims for the “individual”, whereas his relationship toward the rest of sacred creation is subjected to his arbitrary use or abuse of it.
These divisions of the world introduce an unjust inequality in the participation of individuals, or even peoples in the goods of Creation; they deprive billions of people of basic goods and lead to the misery for the human person; they cause mass population migration, kindle nationalistic, religious and social discrimination and conflict, threatening traditional internal societal coherence. These consequences are still more abhorrent because they are inextricably linked with the destruction of the natural environment and the entire ecosystem.

I think the Orthodox Church provides the key balance between the individual, the group, and the environment. The Ecumenical Patriarch seems to tilt a little more towards protecting creation over humanity, at least that what I hear when I read his statements.

Which brings me to Shamu (who recently went from Shamwow to Shamboo), Sigfried and Roy, Timothy Treadwell, and Elsa the lion.

Born Free was the most popular movie when I was born. All my childhood, the theme song sung by Andy Williams was my favorite song. I still like it. What was controversial was the domestication of wild animals. My impressions of the movie looking back were sadness that Elsa had to be separated from her humans (but pride that she learned to make it on her own), whom I believe she loved – that’s another issue, do animals love us?  I wrote elsewhere of my childhood romantic view of animal stories where the human has a special connection with usually a wild animal like The Black Stallion, Misty of Chincoteague, the colt in The Man from Snowy River, or Buck in Call of the Wild. People who hunt for sport were all the villainous “Man” in Bambi. I believed that the otherwise untamable animal could sense the special person’s specialness, until a horse threw me when I was 12 years old. I landed in the hospital for almost a month with a crushed elbow.

During my childhood, I liked rodeos, not knowing what they do those bulls and bronks to keep them wild show after show after show. It’s been 20 years since I’ve watched one. I also enjoyed zoos back in the day before natural habitats, amazed at the creatures in and of themselves, then learned with the rest of the world that it damages animals to make them live in metal cages. That this is important to avoid. I’ve even watched the Shamu show all misty-eyed at the sweet relationship man can have with killer whales. Oh, and I thought that the ungrateful tiger that bit Roy was wrong, but that Roy probably had a lapse. Until recently I believed that a more professional approach to wild animals, such as Sea World uses, was fine. Just don’t try it at home.

Now I’m rethinking zoos and Sea World. In God’s command to “subdue the world”, perhaps he meant us to tame domestic animals that serve man like horses, cows, goats, chickens, dogs and cats, and then to manage the wild ones like wolves, lions and antelope by keeping their lands hospitable to them. This is complicated given how crowded the world is today. It wasn’t until I read about Orthodox saints that I saw that my romantic view towards relationships with wild animals has some basis. But the requirement for living peaceably with lions is holiness, not selfish romantic attachment which can seem to be based in loneliness and disenfranchisement with relationships. It is only through purification and a right attachment to God that this relationship can happen. But it is not one of dependence and self-fulfillment. Appreciating God’s creation properly comes when one worships the creator first. Then one can be a priest to that creation, which even wild animals need. They shouldn’t be treated cruelly, or out of a selfish desire to possess and dominate, but they should be provided for and protected.

My uninformed theory is that Tilikum either wasn’t treated well when he was captured off the coast of Norway, or that his being a breeder in the Sea World environment made him too aggressive for human dealings. Suddenly those Sea World tanks look way too small. Animals are dangerous, but I think the fault usually lies with the higher human form. Just like there may be wild children, the responsibility to protect that child and the people and property around him lies with the adults.

I intend to write about why I think Orthodox unity in North America is important later.

Trying to understand context for proposed unity of American Orthodox Churches

by Andrea Elizabeth

Oca.org has posted this summary of Metropolitan Jonah’s talk at “the “Road to Unity” conference sponsored by Orthodox Christian Laity [OCL] at Antiochian Village here Thursday, October 29 through Saturday, October 31.”

In it he details a structure that unified jurisdictions could use to come together while respecting the differences in the different communities. SCOBA apparently is ineffective because it isn’t a “canonical entity” and its members are not elected, which apparently Americans must do to be able to respect their own leaders.This is an interesting cultural aside that I’d like to hear more discussion on.

I wonder if his recommendations could provide a conciliar basis for unifying practice among American jurisdictions. Hopefully any substandard practices could be looked at and gently healed instead of giving them an opportunity to cause infection throughout the whole. Perhaps though, if Churches are legtitimized through being local (I only have a vague concept of what “local church” means), which has historically been along national lines, the American Church is already One, even if our Bishop situation is a bit messy and some feel more bonded to their respective bishops in the “old country”. Therefore any deficiencies in practice would already be affecting the local body, whether they are under the same bishop or not.

Also in the summary, Metropolitan Jonah gives interesting homage to the Ecumencial Patriarch.