Romanian Orthodox for Enquiry in America

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Consider the Following

Author: Hope - Speranta
June 6, 2009
I ask you to consider the following four questions: 1) who are we, 2) what are we being asked to reject, 3) what are we being asked to accept and 4) why are we being called to consider leaving the ROEA, OCA behind and form the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Americas (ROMA) under the Church of Romania (BOR)?

First, review the following historical facts.

1. Our Romanian Episcopate is 80 years old (1929-2009).
2. For just over twenty (20) years (25%) the Episcopate was under the Church of Romania (BOR) as an “autonomous” body (1929-1951).
3. For almost (60) years (75%) the Romanian Episcopate existed separate from, not under BOR, the Church of Romania (1951-2009).
4. For over fifty (50) years (62%) the ROEA has had canonical protection of some kind (however disputed) other than BOR (late 50’s - 2009).
5. For almost forty (40) years, (50%) the ROEA is in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), an autocephalous; totally free and canonical (even if not totally globally recognized) local and indigenous Orthodox Church, composed of a diversity of believers from various ethnic, cultural and national backgrounds (1970-2009).

1) Who are We?

1. We are Orthodox Christians of diverse backgrounds, local and indigenous, as well as immigrants from Romania, who comprise the ROEA, OCA, four generations (80 years old) in North America, living and witnessing to our faith of the Risen Christ in our homeland (for many a new land).
2. We are North Americans and citizens of Canada and the United States
3. We are members of an Autocephalous Orthodox Christian Church, who are free from European Church institutions and influences living, teaching and proclaiming our Orthodox Christian Faith to “the world” here in North America .
4. We are a multicultural and diverse Church reflecting the nation and society we live in and call home.
5. We are free of all government control and influence, foreign and domestic, as an Orthodox Christian Church living in democratic nations and societies ( Canada and the United States ).
6. We are an 80 year old Orthodox Church with a life, history, practice and policy growing as Orthodox Christians in North America as citizens of Canada and the United States , most of who are of Romanian descent and heritage.

2) What are We Being Asked Reject?

1. We are asked to reject our identity, personal and collective, and everything that formed and shapes us as Orthodox Christians in North America as we leave our church structures, practices and policies.
2. We are being asked to reject an Orthodox Christian ecclesiology that is local, organic and indigenous, consistent with the canons and Holy Tradition.
3. We are being asked to voluntarily dismantle our church structure that has kept us free of foreign and European (Romanian) Church and State control, practice and influences of almost sixty (60) years.
4. We are being asked to end our free, independent, indigenous and local Church life, institution, structure and administration of fifty (50) years.
5. We are being asked to leave our church institutional affiliation with our brothers and sisters in the autocephalous OCA, institutionally free from outside and foreign governments, churches and influences, of forty (40) years.
6. We are asked to end our existence, as an 80 year old Episcopate (ROEA, OCA), to become a dependency under the Church of Romania as we break with our 80 year Church history, tradition and practices that was established, lived and passed on by our Episcopate Pioneers, Orthodox immigrants from Romania, many of whom are our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, and our three wise Father-Bishops; Policarp, Valerian and Nathaniel who guided us.  Together they worked to acquire and develop the Orthodox Christian Way here in North America proclaiming Christ’s Resurrection to all people here in North America, not just Romanians. They rejected both the idea of a Romanian “transplant church”, from different soil and conditions and a “grafted limb church” to a foreign church in Romania for a correct Orthodox theological and historic model of church; local, organic and indigenous.

3) What are We Being Asked to Accept with the Proposal?

1. We are asked to accept an ineffective and incomplete model of ecclesiology - a nation building global ethnocentrism.
2. We are asked to freely choose and vote to adopt a modified Proposal that offers less that what we already have (autocephaly: administrative freedom and independence) the first step in making us dependent upon the foreign state run  Church of Romania.
3. We are asked to consider becoming a dependent (autonomous) church body, the Romanian Orthodox Metropolia of America (ROMA), under the Church of Romania (BOR) by merging our Church with the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of America (ROAA) which is already under BOR as an autonomous (not fully independent and free) church structure.
4. We will be asked to freely choose and vote to remove ourselves from the autocephalous Orthodox Church in America (OCA).
5. If we accept this Proposal we will:

  • enter into a Romanian Orthodox Church under Romanian State control and answering to it
  • be shaped by a Romanian Church mindset, policies and practices, structure and leadership grounded in a East European context, with a radically different view and interpretation of the ROEA, OCA, her history, and the Orthodox Church and her work in the United States and Canada,
  • be shaped by a foreign cultural ethos, worldview and identity, neither grounded in democratic core values nor a North American multicultural pluralism and temperament.

4) Why are we considering such a Proposal?
In the midst of this turbulence and confusion we are moved to ask, have we “forgotten” who we are?  Have we lost our identity as Orthodox Christian people of Romanian heritage of eighty years in the ROEA, OCA?

We do have an identity.  We have a spiritual formation.  We have a collective face and a body.  We are “Orthodox Christian”, “North American”, “citizens of Canada or the United States “, “Autocephalous” with diverse backgrounds most of whom are Romanian, in the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, Orthodox Church in America.

5 Comments to “Consider the Following”

  1. Administrator Says:

    I guess the real problem in this Unity discussion is your point of view. If you are an OCA- Romanian Orthodox Episcopate member with roots in North America that are up to 5 generations old, you may have a different point of view than the immigrant from Romania who arrived after 1989. There are two main groups with possibly different needs.

    The first group has seen ethnic ghettos being formed in North America, and then seen them fall. They have seen Romanian language useage diminish from the 1890’s into WWII. They have seen the post 1950’s ardent Romanian nationalist immigrants, whose children and certainly grandchildren no longer spoke Romanian and found that if one focuses on ethnicity and not religion, the children and grandchildren would lose both. They realize, through over 100 years of experience that safeguarding our ancestral faith is more important than anything else we do, and that to do so it must be adapted to the North American context in which the children and grandchildren live.

    The second group feels what every immigrant has felt when leaving behind friends, family, and a way of life in order to adopt a new one in North America. Longing for home, desperate for things Romanian, a memorable smell of mititei, a taste of sarmale, a friendly Romanian word, etc, all mean so much to the recent immigrant, and the not so recent immigrant. The problem is that their children and grandchildren do not share those same memories. They are more likely to remember the hotdogs at a baseball game in Los Angeles, a beer at the Detroit hockey rink, or Sting blasting through the car speakers. If we too strongly connect ethnicity to religion we risk losing both, as Romanian feelings become American, and the children’s homeland becomes the U.S. or Canada. In this context, Orthodoxy must be somehow be linked to North America if it is to continue as the faith of these children and grandchildren.

    This is not a discussion about unity. It is really about our children and grandchildren and the religion we hope they will practice. The ROEA as a Diocese of the OCA, has adapted to the local cultural norms and focuses on helping smooth the transition to Orthodoxy in a North American context. We cannot say this about the Romanian Patriarchate’s ROAA, based in Chicago.

  2. Valerie Nutial Says:

    We are the USA; period, the end. Personally, I think the affiliation with “Romania” would be a mistake. You have my support.

  3. Matt Says:

    Why should we leave the OCA, the most progressive church in all Orthodoxy, only to go under a church even those in Romania complain about? Many of us have never even been to Romania! Why would we want to go under strangers in far away places when we can stay with the OCA’s Jonah?

  4. Miron Bonca Says:

    The Romanian Orthodox Church should stay with OCA. I add my signature to the 31 on first page of this Open Letter

  5. Nicholas Dinu Says:

    Am trei intrebari pentru adeptii “unirii”:

    1. Ce dezavantaje au avut Parohiile din Episcopie fiind in OCA?

    2. Ce avantaje vor avea Parohiile si Episcopia ( Mitropolia) de la afilierea cu BOR?

    3. Cum se poate desprinde Episcopia de la Vatra de OCA?

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