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Dialogue for Unity

Author: Fr. Frunza
September 3, 2008
Your Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel,
Dear Fathers, members of ROEA’s Dialogue Commission,

Below are some questions and comments regarding the dialogue for unity.

Regarding the Statement that the eventual unity between the two Romanian diocese under or with the Romanian Church will be a step towards the greater unity of Orthodoxy in America

-                     At the events that took place in Chicago with the occasion of the Consecration of the Cathedral, the OCA’s Archbishop Job of Chicago was not even invited. This is the greater unity we foresee?

-                     At the end of the Service, all the speeches and sermons delivered by Archbishop Nicolae, Metropolitan Laurentiu and Bishop Irineu in front of the two guest hierarch, Metropolitan Christopher of the Serbian Orthodox Church in America, and Metropolitan Nicholas of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis in Detroit were in the Romanian language. How can this serve the cause of “greater unity” in North America, when no word was said in English?

Regarding various actions of the JDC members.

-                     The Communiqué of the Joint Dialogue Commission from 08/20/08 on the ROEA website states: “…The Commission regrets the hasty pronouncements of various officials and the media immediately after our Congresses.  These misrepresented our Congresses’ decisions as being final decisions on unity.  Both sides recognize that a difficult road remains ahead in addressing the concerns, past and present, regarding such a unity.  The Commission members insist that the process of discussion and possible union is in the competence of our two eparchies alone.  Recent speculation and public commentary by individuals outside of our eparchies have only complicated the delicate nature of this process and threatened its ultimate success…” But, on Sunday, July 6 in Chicago, Metropolitan Laurentiu Streza of Ardeal made a point that he is the Patriarchal representative and that he was invited for the ROAA Congress and events. If he was invited, how can one claim that interference from outside of our diocese is not desired?  Metropolitan Laurentiu Streza is a member of the Romanian Church’s Holy Synod, one of the leading Hierarchs of the Romanian Orthodox Church and is regarded as such in Romania and elsewhere. Otherwise, he would not be designated by the Holy Synod and the Patriarch to represent the Romanian Church at various events, including the Congress of ROAA and the consecration of the new Cathedral in Chicago. More than that, on the official website of the Archdiocese it is stated that the Metropolitan Laurentiu is the delegate of His Beatitude, Patriarch Daniel, to the Congress and Cathedral Consecration. .

-                     Why did the JDC members from our diocese offer explanations for the attitude and steps taken by the ROAA and the Romanian Patriarchate instead of presenting the reality? (i.e. - Letter of Patriarch Daniel addressed to ROAA threatening it with the recognition of the “Exarchate” if unity is not achieved by the Congress). The explanation given by our JDC members was that that was an internal problem of ROAA and not a warning addressed to our diocese. However, the statement of Metropolitan Laurentiu on video 48 ( ) revealed that the letter was definitely “a warning for both dioceses”.)

-                     Why did our JDC members not mention anything about the fact that an agreed statement with the Romanian Patriarchate regarding the sufferance endured by Archbishop Valerian and Bishop Policarp was changed when sent to the ROAA and published on their website in a different form?

-                     Why did the members of our JDC fail to mention to the Episcopate Council and to the Congress the fact that their counterparts denied that the ROAA has a debt of 1.5 million dollars only to reveal later on that the debt exists?

-                     Why do our members of the JDC insist on being the policy makers and not the ambassadors of our diocese?

-                     How it is possible to have some of the same members of our JDC sitting on our Episcopate Council? Isn’t that a conflict of interest?  (Michigan law regarding corporations, art. 450.2531, Sec. 531. (2) ” Two or more offices may be held by the same person, but an officer shall not execute, acknowledge, or verify an instrument in more than 1 capacity if the instrument is required by law or the articles or bylaws to be executed, acknowledged, or verified by 2 or more officers.”)

Regarding the Romanian Patriarchate:

-                     Why do the “The Commission members insist that the process of discussion and possible union is in the competence of our two eparchies alone.”, when we all know that the whole process needs to be approved by the Romanian Orthodox Church.  Moreover the JDC members from our diocese made a point that the some of the points from the “PROPOSAL” were coined by the representatives of the Romanian Patriarchate.  So a discussion in three (ROEA, ROAA and the Romanian Patriarchate) sounds more realistic. Moreover, the Constitution and By-Laws of the Romanian Orthodox Church, art.7 (1) says: The establishment, dissolving, territorial modification and changing of the name for Metropolias, Archdioceses and Dioceses are made by decisions of the Holy Synod….”

-                     Why did the representative of the Patriarchate and the Patriarch himself entertain the idea of the new entity being “with” the Romanian Patriarchate and not “under” when this is something that is has never been accepted in the Orthodox world. The example of the Church of Finland that was given by Rev. Fr. Catalin Mitescu it is wrong because on the website of the Church of Finland it is specified that “The Church of Finland it is an autonomous Church that belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate”. More than that, in 1970 when the Church of Finland recognized the autocephaly of the OCA and invited Metropolitan Leonty to Finland, the Ecumenical Patriarchate threaten the Church of Finland and the Church of Finland stepped down, asking Metropolitan Leonty not to come to Finland anymore.

-                     Why the Patriarchate entertain the idea of “MAXIMAL AUTONOMY” with the members of the our JDC members  in Bucharest in February 2008, when in the recent Constitution and By-Laws of the Romanian Orthodox Church (approved by the Holy Synod in November 28, 2007, approved by the Romanian Government in January 16, 2008 and published on January 22, 2008)  it is specified that “The pastoral and canonical organization of the Romanian Orthodox faithful from outside Romania is made by the Holy Synod of Romanian Orthodox Church.” Art 8. (1). “The dioceses from outside of Romania are organized and function according to their own By-Laws which are to be approved by the Holy Synod (also, Art. 14, k), but their By-Laws needs to be in concordance with the Constitution and By-Laws of the Romanian Orthodox Church..” Art.8 (2). The explanation given by Professor Gherasim of Canon Law from Bucharest in the Patriarchate newspaper “Lumina” is relevant: “the Romanian Orthodox Church being autocephalous and national has jurisdiction over the Romanian territory, but also in the Diaspora. There, the territorial principle does not function, but personal jurisdiction does. This jurisdiction is extended over all Orthodox persons of Romanian nationality. Under the Romanian Orthodox Church can enter also individuals with different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, if they wish to be incorporated in the Romanian Orthodox Church”. „BOR, fiind autocefală şi naţională, are jurisdicţie asupra teritoriului României, dar şi în diaspora. Acolo nu mai funcţionează principiul teritorial, ci jurisdicţia personală. Se întinde asupra tuturor persoanelor de naţionalitate română, dar ortodocşi. Sub ascultarea BOR pot intra şi persoane de altă cetăţenie, chiar cu altă origine decât cea română, care doresc să fie încorporaţi în BOR.;659;1;11712;0;Sfantul-Sinod-cea-mai-inalta-autoritate-a-Bisericii-Ortodoxe-Romane.html

-                     Much was said about The Romanian Orthodox Church being separated from the State. But in the Constitution of the Romanian Orthodox Church it is stated: Art.14, h: “The Holy Synod can initiate and approve partnerships and agreements with the State and other Institutions…”

-                     “The establishment, organization and dissolving of auxiliary organizations within the Romanian Patriarchate is approved by the Holy Synod.” Art 14, w. That means that the Orthodox Brotherhood, ARFORA, AROY and ARCOLA will have to look to the Holy Synod of Romanian Orthodox Church for leadership.

-                     “The Holy Synod it is the highest authority to interpret in definitive and mandatory form, for all the organisms and organizations within the Church, the dispositions in the Constitution and By-Laws.” Art 14, z.

-                     “The Patriarch will preside over the Holy Synod to elect the Metropolitans in Romania and outside Romania.” Art.26, i.

-                     “The Patriarch has the right to advise the bishops from Romania and from outside Romania” Art. 26, m

-                     “The Patriarch has the right (devolution) to interfere in the business of any diocese from Romania and outside of Romania to reestablish the canonical and administrative order.” Art.26, r. The explanation given by Professor Gherasim of Canon Law from Bucharest in the Patriarchate newspaper “Lumina” is: “…Devolution is the right of a superior administration to intervene in the business of another administration that is subordinate, when the law is not applied or is applied wrong. It is an exception from the internal eparchial autonomy. If it is found that in one Metropolia, the Metropolitan Synod, headed by the Metropolitan does not apply correct the By-Laws of the Romanian Orthodox Church, or fails to apply them in a timely manner, the Patriarch can intervene to reestablish the situation.”;659;1;11712;0;Sfantul-Sinod-cea-mai-inalta-autoritate-a-Bisericii-Ortodoxe-Romane.html

-                     “The election of Metropolitans, Archbishops and Bishops for the Romanian Orthodox dioceses from outside of Romania is done by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Church from one or two candidates proposed by the Congress of the specific diocese according to their Constitution and By-Laws approved by the Holy Synod of Romanian Church…. The auxiliary bishop is elected by the Holy Synod after the proposal of the diocesan Bishop…” Art. 132 (1), (2), (3).   So much for the proposed “maximal autonomy!

-                     “The seal of the dioceses from Romania and outside of Romania needs to be approved by the Holy Synod.” Art. 196, (1)

-                     “The present Constitution and By-Laws approved by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church…. is and will remain mandatory for all Romanian Orthodox Church from Romania and from outside Romania.” Art. 201, (1)

The present Constitution and By-Laws of the Romanian Orthodox Church was approved by the Holy Synod in November 28, 2007, approved by the Romanian Government in January 16, 2008 and published on January 22, 2008. From January 22, 2008 it is the ruling document of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

I presume that when our five members of JDC and Archbishop Nathaniel met with the Patriarch and the representatives of the Patriarch in February 2008, they negotiated without knowledge of the present Romanian Orthodox Church Constitution.  However, why did the representatives of the Patriarch and the Patriarch himself entertain ideas with our JDC members and Archbishop Nathaniel, ideas that are found in the “PROPOSAL”, ideas that are contrary to the disposition of the new Constitution of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and that would require changing this newly approved Constitution? We cannot say that they did not know the dispositions of their own Constitution when they just approved it.

In Christ,

Fr. Anton Frunza

September 3, 2008

2 Comments to “Dialogue for Unity”

  1. Administrator Says:

    Fr. Anton

    Our Episcopate’s Dialogue Commission has taken things at face value for some time, believing what it wants to believe, at least on the Unity topic, choosing to believe most of what is told them by their ROAA counterparts and by Romanian Patriarchal representatives. We have now entered another phase, that of “due diligence” and hard questions must now be asked before any further progress can be made.

    In addition to the most important questions you raise, others must also be answered before any decision can be made. How big is the ROAA debt? How about ROAA lay representation, now and in the future? Who decides who votes on what and when? How can new rules agreed in the “Proposal” contradict the Romanian Orthodox Church constitution and still be enforced? Under what law can this agreement be enforced? If none, then what other Church will have us when the “Proposal” is stepped on and disregarded, and we choose to leave the Romanian Patriarchate? Many more questions are still to be asked, let alone properly answered.

  2. G3orge S. Ross (Rusu) Says:

    I grew up under the old Romanian Church. When I tried to institute english in my parish I was “pooh-poohed” as a young “mocos.” I do not want to see us return to the Patriarchate as I see things today. Many differences are apparent.

    Why are there no lay people on this commission. Why is it that many of us who grew up here as first generation Americans cannot have a say so in the jurisdictional leadership of the Church. I totally exempt myself in regard to the Religious leadership question. How can some on our commission take a stand without discussion with lay people who have lead our religious groups and parishes during their life…people with incredidible experience of which none is drawn upon.

    Is this the way of the Patriarchate? If so, lets be on our way and leave them in the dust. Are they really interested in the Orthodox Faith, or merely in getting American dollars to relieve their personal debt?

    Help! Before it is too late.

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