Romanian Orthodox for Enquiry in America

Guardians of the Vatra

Orthodox Brotherhood Documents

ROAA/BOR Documents

May 10 2008 Paper

Author: Alex. C. Popescu
May 10, 2008

Your Beatitude Metropolitan Herman,
Your Eminences and Your Graces, Members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the OCA,

Our Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America is presently under attack from the outside and from within.  The dangerous and several years-long Dialogue between representatives of our Episcopate (which is under the Orthodox Church in America - OCA) and representatives of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of America (which is under the Romanian Orthodox Church) culminated in senior-level meetings this past February 2008 in Bucharest, Romania hosted by the Romanian Patriarchate.  Although not always starting out this way, most of these discussions land up being about uniting our Episcopate with the controversial Archdiocese under the Romanian Patriarchate, and having us break our canonical coverage ties to the OCA.  Our Episcopate is thus going down a very slippery slope towards subjugation under Bucharest.  I addressed specific point-by-point concerns on this topic in my April 10, 2008 letter to His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel Popp, and to the five members of our Episcopate’s Dialogue Commission (Very Rev. Fathers, L. Lazar, Dialogue Commission Secretary/ Coordinator, R. Grama, I. Pacurar, C. Mitescu, and R. Rosco).  Three documents were referred to: “AGREED STATEMENT” and “REGARDING THE DIALOGUE WITH THE ROMANIAN PATRIARCHATE” which are both available on our Episcopate’s website, and the third document, a “LETTER TO ARCHBISHOP NICOLAE FROM THE ROMANIAN PATRIARCH DANIEL” which is available in Romanian on the Archdiocese website.

The fact is that our Dialogue Commission had a specific mandate for this February 2008 Bucharest trip to discuss only about correcting the historical record sustained by the Romanian Patriarchate and its local and subservient underling Archdiocese for almost 60 years.  It should be remembered that after WWII, Romania became a Communist State and it openly interfered in Church affairs domestically and abroad, as even admitted by today’s Romanian Church leadership.  For these reasons our Episcopate broke all ties with the Romanian Orthodox Church, and never had ties with new post WWII Church appendages they created, such as the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of America.  At the Bucharest meetings our Dialogue Commission did not contain itself only to its mandate.  Indeed, reference to our Episcopate being justified in doing what it did after WWII is mentioned in the published “Agreed Statement”, but our Commission also agreed to a statement regarding reciprocal forgiveness where our Episcopate asks Bucharest for forgiveness.  What did our forefathers do wrong?  Maybe we should ask for forgiveness for having been around so that they could persecute our clergy and families?  This has become not only silly, but dangerous… As well, the Commission clearly oversteps its mandate when it refers to a sincere desire for the realization of the unity of our Episcopate and the Archdiocese under the Romanian Patriarchate. Whose desire is this? Our Episcopate has officially proclaimed the opposite. Thus, our Commission most definitely did not have a mandate to affirm our “desire” without even knowing it and without the permission to proclaim it even if it did. Also, our Constitution states that our Episcopate is under the canonical authority of the OCA and thus, our Commission is now contravening our own Constitution. This Commission should be de-commissioned.The March 11, 2008 letter from Romania’s Patriarch Daniel to his underling Archbishop Nicolae of the Archdiocese proves that Bucharest picks its quotes carefully and then modifies them as required. The Agreed Statement says one thing and the March 11 letter another. This is clear duplicity in full action.  Also, Bucharest orders Archbishop Nicolae to integrate a few disgruntled Priests into His fold, thus challenging His Autonomy to grant canonical coverage to Priests He chooses.  And then typical Bucharest-style Balkan blackmail is used to state that if Archbishop Nicolae does not accept these Priests under His Canonical coverage then they will be recognized under a new Exarchate that will have direct canonical coverage from Bucharest, thus completely crushing any territorial Autonomy the Archdiocese has been granted at least since its 1974 constitutional changes.  The legitimization of the new Exarchate is also a threat to us in that if we do not hurry up and unite under Bucharest the new Exarchate will surely be opened and attract Priests and Parishes/missions from our Episcopate as well.  This is clear blackmail, and what to expect if we let ourselves slide under Bucharest rule.  One may ask what our Dialogue Commission hopes to achieve from these talks with the Romanian Patriarchate and its regional underling, the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America.  The only legitimate answer can be full Autonomy granted by Bucharest.  But now the March 11, 2008 letter proves that the Romanian Patriarchate does not respect the Autonomy it has already granted to its own Archdiocese. That Autonomy document dated 1974 can be found on the Archdiocese website and it reads quite nicely indeed.  Are we to expect any better treatment?  Clearly not.  The March 11, 2008 letter proves that any contract of Autonomy signed by Bucharest is worthless.  Let us also remember that if the contract of Autonomy is not respected there is no Court of Appeal.  The only higher Church authority than the Romanian Patriarchate is the Ecumenical Patriarchate and they will not involve themselves in what they will view as an internal matter.  Also, no Civil Court will admit such a case.  Thus, when the Autonomy granted by Bucharest is not respected we have nowhere to go and contest or appeal.  In this context, we have everything to lose by giving up our relative independence within the OCA, and nothing to gain by subjugating ourselves under the Romanian Patriarchate.  If we have everything to lose and nothing to gain, why should we continue having any Dialogue at all? Why are we even considering this? Enough.  Our Dialogue Commission was also supposed to bring up the issue of bringing Bishop Policarp Morusca’s remains to the “Vatra Cemetery” in Grass Lakes, Michigan, but no mention is made of this discussion with Bucharest…  It should not surprise us if, in typical underhanded fashion, Bucharest has “promised” to return Bishop Policarp Morusca’s remains to the Vatra only on condition we unite under Bucharest!  Do they really think that we would sell our children’s future for Bishop Policarp’s remains? Given our willingness to negotiate with them even in light of the March 11 letter, they could believe that we are quite gullible indeed!Clearly, the Romanian Orthodox Church has been used as a tool of the Romanian Government.  This is even confirmed by the present day Romanian Orthodox Church leadership.   What credible guarantees have we that this will not happen again and that they will in fact respect any future autonomy given?  Unhappily, we have proof of the contrary in that the March 11 letter proves that Bucharest does not respect any autonomy it gives.  Thus, why risk having our local Church become the puppet of a foreign government when today our local Church leadership is from here and unbiased?  Thus, if we choose to subjugate our Church and ourselves under Bucharest, we may also be compromising our loyalty to the USA, or Canada.  So, why are we even considering the illogical and potentially dangerous move of leaving a local and independent Church, in order to subjugate ourselves under a controlling Church, which has previously allowed itself to be the tool of a foreign government?  Why risk creating a potentially treasonable situation?  Do we need this?It would be interesting to know what keeps our Dialogue Commission forging ahead without a mandate and in spite of the nonsensical nature of the endeavour, continuing to negotiate with those whose promises and written contracts have already been proven useless.  In fact, each Commission member should now be individually asked to respond to this question: “Do you honestly believe that even if you manage to negotiate an “acceptable” contract of autonomy, the Romanian Patriarchate will respect it, even when something doesn’t go their way?”  If the member responds “Yes” then ask: “How can you possibly say this given the specific disregard for the Archdiocese’s Autonomy shown in the March 11, 2008 letter from the Romanian Patriarch to Archbishop Nicolae whose Archdiocese is supposedly Autonomous?”  Since there can be no credible answer to this, the member should then logically agree to stop any further discussions with Bucharest representatives.  If the member responds “No” to the original question then say: “In this case you have absolutely nothing further to discuss with Bucharest representatives.”  In fact, and given what has transpired, these members should be the ones telling us why we should not be under Bucharest rule and not vice versa.  Curiously, this is not the case…?Why does this question of subjugating ourselves under the Romanian Patriarchate recur?  Who is pushing this Dialogue?  As I proposed at the June/July 2007 Episcopate Council meeting, it is time to open the (Romanian Secret Police spy) files on all the Episcopate clergy.  In this way we could see if the “desirability” of uniting under the Mother-Church is an idea sustained by the very same people who were sent outside Romania to control “public opinion” over here and report back to those who almost destroyed a country over a 50 year period?  Who has something to gain from having us go backwards rather than having us forge ahead?  Why must we leave the bosom of the American Orthodox Church that is based here, has never obliged us to do anything against our will, and represents our future, in order to join the Romanian Orthodox Church which represents our past, which is based there, and has been under the direction of that foreign Government, as has been confirmed even by today’s Romanian Church leadership?  Why must we talk about something so obviously wrong?  Why must we waste each others time considering the illogical?

In any event, it seems that we must now take this threat very seriously indeed.  Firstly, any discussion regarding a change in canonical coverage implies a change in our Constitution as that document clearly states that our Episcopate is under the jurisdiction and canonical authority of the OCA.  Thus, from a legal perspective, a change in the Constitution can only be made at an Extraordinary General Assembly called specifically for that purpose, and a 2/3rds majority is required at that meeting in order to pass any Constitutional change.  The calling of such a meeting can be made either by the Episcopate Council or by 1/3 of the delegates to the Episcopal Congress.  The Episcopate Chancery must be advised of any proposed amendments to the Constitution at least 120 days prior to the date of the Extraordinary General Assembly.

Even if the Episcopate’s Constitution is changed, it is questionable whether or not specific parishes/missions in the Episcopate must accept the change.  In fact, it can be argued that a change in the Episcopate’s canonical allegiance leaves all parishes/missions in the position of having to choose between the OCA and the changed Episcopate.  The question then becomes one of deciding whether each parish’s/mission’s canonical allegiance is stronger to the Episcopate or to the OCA itself.  Not at all an easy question. Another issue to be decided will be whether this type of dramatic Constitutional change is so significant that the Episcopate Constitution could no longer be a valid tool to oblige a parish/mission to remain within the Episcopate if the majority of those parish/mission members chose not to at their own Extraordinary General Assembly.  Could it not also be argued that any such change means that the Episcopate itself would be in breach of its position towards its own parishes/missions, the vast majority of which have joined the Episcopate or have been formed since the 1950’s?  After all, those specific parishes/missions had a choice whether or not to choose our Episcopate, knowing that it was unaffiliated with the Bucharest Patriarchate, or to choose the Archdiocese, created in the 1950’s, and which is under the Bucharest Patriarchate.  If our Episcopate goes under the Bucharest Patriarchate it could then be argued that the very premise for joining our Episcopate, (its independence from Bucharest), is no longer present and thus, each such parish/mission would then have the liberty of deciding its own canonical fate at its own Extraordinary General Assembly if and when this would happen. What a potential mess!

Let us not forget that our Church outside Romania is not a “simple transplant from Romania, but a living organism which adapts and modifies itself” as mentioned by Archbishop Nathaniel in the “SOLIA” July 2003. Yes, we have evolved differently than the Church in Romania and its appendages and this, generation after generation, at least since WWII, so that today we have more in common with our Orthodox brothers here, than with our Romanian brothers there.  This fact is most obvious with our children who were born here and do not consider themselves to be Romanian with American citizenship, nor even Americans of Romanian origin, but after a few generations, simply American.  These are historic realities which prove that if you link the Mother-Land Romania to the Mother-Church our children will lose their ancestral faith. This is because the bond with the Mother-Land is maintained, but now replaced by the new Mother-Land (America), while the Orthodox faith has no new-found role in the new country if it remains tied to Romania.  Our religion then becomes an ethnic faith, outdated and outmoded in the adopted country, the new Mother-Land.  The only chance we have to maintain our faith alive in our children is to actualize it in the society in which we live and to help our Church become a local faith. Thus, our past is the Romanian Orthodox Church and our present and future is the American Orthodox Church.

Your Beatitude, Your Eminences and Your Graces, we look to You for guidance in the protection of our Church.  Do not abandon us; rather Bless us and Help us!

Alex. C. Popescu

Montreal, Canada

May 10th 2008

4 Comments to “May 10 2008 Paper”

  1. Fr Anton Frunza Says:

    Hristos a inviat!
    Hi Alex!
    A very well done document. I couldn’t have written better myself.

    Fr Anton Frunza

  2. Pr. Alexandru Partioc Says:

    Alex Popescu
    Afirmatia dv ca episcopia noastra se afla “sub atac” este una din cele mai absurde afirmatii. Se vede cit de colo ca nu aveti idee de ceeace este un razboi sau daca v-ati gindit la o expresie figurativa este cu atit mai lamentabila expresia folosita.
    Din pacate din modul dv de gindire se desprinde o concluzie care va situiaza inafara a tot ce este romanesc.Asadar pentru noi romanii de buna credinta dar si pentru ori ce om cu o logica sanatoasa opiniile dv nu au nici o valoare.
    Va dau un sfat: Stati in banca dv ca sa nu ajungeti un compromis definitiv.
    Pr. Alexandru Partioc

  3. Nicolae Rusu Says:

    Dle Popescu,

    Am rasfoit ceea ce ati scris. Este o rusine, o mare rusine nationala; imi sta mintea in loc cata mentalitate de sluga exista in textele postate. V-as intreba numai atat: are legaturi Biserica Orthodoxa asa-zis Americana, in fapt rusa, cu Patriarhia rusa? Cine a recunoscut aceasta B.O.A. in afara de biserica mama a maicii Rusia?

    Cu ce este mai sfanta, mai nobila, pentru noi, ca romani-americani patriarhia rusa decat cea romana? De ce doriti sa ramanem sub ei, sub rusi? Oare Patriarhia romana nu a acordat o completa autonomie unei viitoare Mitropolii romanesti? Pana si libertatea de a participa la sedintele sfantului sinod al BOR ramane la latitudinea viitorului mitropolit orthodox al Americii, ales numai de romanii americani…

    Este de preferat sa va revizuiti atitudinea si asta cat mai curand cu putinta, si sa nu uitati ca toti venim pe aceasta lume din anumiti parinti, dintr-o anumita Tara, pe care ni le-a dat Bunul Dumnezeu.
    A te ridica impotriva acestor lucruri inseamna a te ridica impotriva Creatorului Insusi, ceea ce constituie o blasfemie.

    Domnul sa va ierte si sa v-ajute la a va indrepta pe calea cea buna.

  4. Priest David (Wey) Says:

    Dear Mr. Popescu,

    I write simply to thank you for sharing your straightforward and insightful comments. Your sense of the essential priorities and values concerning our “being the Church” in this land resonate with my own. Doamne ajuta! May God help us!

    I hope to see you at the Vatra next weekend.

    With love in Christ,
    the unworthy priest David (Wey)

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