In Support of 'A Declaration for Orthodox Christian Unity in America,' No. 1
NEWS PROVIDED BY
Orthodox Christian Laity
Oct. 10, 2022
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Oct. 10, 2022 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is submitted by Peter Zarras, President, and George D. Karcazes, Secretary, Orthodox Christian Laity:
To the Orthodox Christian Faithful in America:
On July 5, 2022, A Declaration for Orthodox Christian Unity in America was published and widely distributed. It addresses the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America and solicits the signatures and support of all Orthodox Christians to reassure the Hierarchy of the rectitude of the call for a united, autocephalous American Orthodox Church.
This paper will address concerns raised by those who are still uncertain whether to support the Declaration and the action it promotes.
The first concern addressed is that the establishment of a united, Autocephalous "sister" Church in America alongside the fourteen existing Autocephalous Churches[*] will weaken the "Mother Churches". Those Churches and the dates they were founded or attained autocephaly are as follows:
[*] 1-Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (AD 37). 2-Alexandria (AD 62). 3-Antioch (AD 34). 4-Jerusalem (AD 55). 5-Russia (AD 988/Patriarchate 1448 AD). 6-Serbia (Founded AD 867-88, Patriarchate, 1920). 7-Romania (1925). 8-Bulgaria (1945 – 3rd Patriarchate, 1961). 9-Georgia (1917). 10-Cyprus (AD 431). 11-Greece (1850). 12-Poland (1924). 13-Albania (1937). 14-Czech Lands and Slovakia (1998).
How valid is the concern that an administratively united, autocephalous American Orthodox Church will weaken any of her 14 sister autocephalous Churches? No argument can reasonably be made that the State-supported (or State-privileged) Churches in Russia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Cyprus, and Greece would be weakened by a united, autocephalous American Orthodox Church. The same applies to the Constitutionally protected Orthodox Churches in Poland, Albania, and the Czech Lands and Slovakia.
The four ancient Patriarchates of Constantinople (EP), Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria are in areas that are either hostile or lacking in local support. No concerns have been expressed that a united, growing, autocephalous American Orthodox Church will weaken the Churches of Antioch, Jerusalem, or Alexandria.
This paper will address concerns that the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (EP) will be weakened if the 14 divided, overlapping, ethnic "jurisdictions" in America are united under a single synod of canonical bishops and the Church in America is recognized as autocephalous.
- An autocephalous American Orthodox Church will not cause the EP to lose the financial support it receives from the Church of Greece and the Greek Government, the principal sources of its funding.
- An autocephalous American Orthodox Church will not cause the EP to lose the financial support of Orthodox Christians in America. The support it receives from the Greek Archdiocese annually can be continued under a united, growing American Orthodox Church. A new Foundation explicitly to support the EP was recently established. That effort can only be strengthened by a united, growing American Orthodox Church.
- An autocephalous American Orthodox Church will not cause the EP to lose the diplomatic/political support it receives from the US government, UN Agencies, European Countries, the Order of St. Andrew-Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other Non-Governmental Organizations, in its relationship with Turkey or its relationship with Russia. Support will be enhanced by a united, growing American Orthodox Church.
- An autocephalous American Orthodox Church will not cause the EP to lose its titular status as "the first among equals" in world Orthodoxy. Since the collapse of the atheist Soviet Union, Russia under Vladimir Putin has used the Russian Patriarchate as a tool of the State to supplant the EP as the leader of world Orthodoxy; e.g. Moscow as the "Third Rome" and the heresy of the "Russian World" – Russkii Mir – Teaching. The unprovoked war against Ukraine, Patriarch Kirill's support of the war, and the US and West's support of Ukraine prove that a united, strong American Orthodox Church will be more effective in supporting the EP in its relationship with Moscow than the current fragmented ethnic jurisdictions acting alone.
[*] Note: For the purposes of this paper, we do not list the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) which was granted a Tomos of Autocephaly by Moscow in 1970, or the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, whose Tomos was granted by Constantinople on January 5, 2019, because they are not among the 14 Autocephalous Orthodox Churches universally recognized as autocephalous by all the others. We further note that the OCA is included in the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the USA, and its de facto autocephaly is unquestioned.
OCL is a 35-year-old 501(c)(3) educational ministry advocating for the administrative unity, accountability, transparency and conciliar governance of all Orthodox Christian jurisdictions in America as one local, autocephalous Church.
SOURCE Orthodox Christian Laity
CONTACT: David Oancea, 517-795-7784, email@example.com