Romanian Orthodox for Enquiry in America

Guardians of the Vatra

Orthodox Brotherhood Documents

ROAA/BOR Documents


Author: Traian Lascu
June 26, 2009

When we talk about the Romanian-American community, we have in mind two distinct groups: the lay organizations and the religious organization. The lay organizations are disjointed and fractioned. Ever since the demise of the Union and League a few years back, there is no more national organization to speak on their behalf. Yes, there are organized groups in New York, Atlanta, Detroit, California and Montreal, and possibly in other places, but no national organization to represent them.

The other group is in the religious field, where the groups are homogenous and well organized. The purpose of this article has to do mostly with the religious groups, especially with the most prominent one, the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, a venerable organization celebrating its 80th years of torturous existence.

And torturous it was. For the entire 33 years of His tenure as bishop of the Episcopate, the thrice-blessed Archbishop Valerian had to fight continuously to keep the independence of the Episcopate away from the claws of the Communists of Romania. When he was elected bishop, the fight for independence had gone on for 10 years before him. Early in their fight to conquer the Vatra, the Communists organized a Missionary Episcopate to be a thorn in the side of the legitimate ROEA Episcopate.

For some years now there have been talks to unite the two Episcopates, but not much progress was made, until very recently when the Church of Romania got involved to facilitate the union.  But there is a price to be paid. The united Episcopates would be under the aegis of the Church of Romania. As an incentive to sweeten the deal, Archbishop Nathaniel would be made Metropolitan, one of many in the Orthodox Church of Romania. That’s where things stand at this writing.

The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America is at a crossroads: should it take a giant step backward and go under the Church of Romania, or should it stay its course as an independent American institution within the Orthodox Church in America as it is today?

Going under the Church of Romania would be a giant step backwards, undoing all the years of fight for independence by our forefathers. They are now gone, and so are most of the second and third generation Romanian-Americans, but there are still enough left who feel American. We don’t need to lose our independence.  With some 93 parishes from coast to coast and border to border, and some over the border in Canada, we’re doing well, Thank you!

The issue should be further debated, but not decided at this time. The Episcopate will soon hold its Congress at the Vatra, at which time the issue could be debated, but not decided. With but a few handful of native-born clergy which can be counted on the fingers of the two hands and still have some fingers left, the great majority of the hundred-plus clergy are recent arrivals whose position on this issue may be a forgone conclusion. It is within the prerogatives of Archbishop Nathaniel as presiding officer of the Congress to debate the issue but not to put it to a vote. I think the issue should be debated and voted in each parish and not just by the parish priest and the two delegates in Congress. The issue impacts each member of our Episcopate and they should have a voice in this matter.  I feel this position should be expressed for all those of us who still feel American.

Administrator’s Note:

Traian Lascu is an outstanding, probably unique, personality of the Romanian-American community.  He was one of the closest friends and collaborators of the late Archbishop Valerian.  He was the executor of the Archbishop’s Last Will and Testament.

Traian Lascu was President of National AROY, President(the first) of the Orthodox Brotherhood, President of St.George’ Cathedral Parish Council of Southfield, President and Chairman of the “Valerian D. Trifa.Romania-American Heritage Center”(1976-1998), editor of “Solia”, as well as founder and editor  of the Heritage Center’s “Information Bulletin”.  Traian Lascu published hundred of articles in “Solia” and the “Information Bulletin”. He is the author of the historical monographies: AROY, Orthodox Brotherhood, St.George Cathedral, and “Valerian”. Traian Lascu edited and published Archbishop Valerian’s books,” Marginal Notes” and “Dearly Beloved”.

7 Comments to “QUO VADIS”

  1. adrian balescu Says:

    Domnule Lascu am o întrebare pe care o pun cu tot respectul pentru vârsta şi activitatea dumneavoastră ca executor testamentar al I.P.S.Arhiepiscop Valerian. 1)- Ce convenţie a semnat I.P.S.Arhiepiscop Valerian cu Mitropolia Rusă? O asociere cu ” MITROPOLIA” sau o subordonare ca Dioceză a “MITROPOLIE”? 2)- ESTE ” O.C.A.” continuatoarea “MITROPOLIEI RUSE ” din exil sau nu?
    Aş dori, dacă se poate, un răspuns clar şi concis ,pe subiect. Cumii de mulţumiri şi deosebită stimă Părintele Adrian

  2. Administrator Says:

    Pentru cei care nu stiu, intelegerea dintre Episcopia Vatra si Mitropolia Rusa din America (1960), si apoi OCA(1970) a fost o intelegere de unirea canonica, prin pastrarea autonomiei. Aceasta intelegere a fost facuta prin decizia ireversibila a Episcopiei noastre. Conform concordatul intre OCA si ROEA si conform Statutul Episcopiei, Vatra nu poate face ceva care ar schimba aceasta intelegere. Din 1970, cand Mitropolia a devenit Biserica Ortodoxa Americana prin obtinerea statutului de biserica Autocefala, Vatra este considerata ca o dioceza in OCA, o parte integrala din aceasta Biserica Autocefala.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Quo Vadis?

    It should be noted that during the 2008 Congress when clergy were allowed to ask questions the question was raised, “Will Archbishop Nathaniel automatically become the first Metropolitan of the newly formed Metropolitanate?” The answer was a clear “no.” Instead, at the time of the formation, an election would take place and one can presume without mucxh difficulty that Nathaniel would not be picked.

    However, it should not be assumed either that all the clergy coming from Romania are so pro-union. Many embrace the freedom that America has granted them. Those who are not pro-subordination are more likely to be circumspect in their opinions. How will they vote? We shall see…

  4. Matt Says:

    Mr. Lascu, I think you should know that many of the post 1989 generation left Romania for good. They joined this OCA Diocese precisely because it had nothing to do with Romania. They left that way of life behind and do not want to repeat it here. Reading this website it seems that 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 many generations old, or if you chose to leave behind a way of life in Romania you disagree with after 1989 you belong in the ROEA-OCA. If you are an immigrant from Romania who arrived after 1989 and who wants to continue living here, but like in Romania, or if you are planning to stay here just a small number of years and then return to Romania you belong in the ROAA-BOR. These are the two natural groups and each has different needs. One chooses to be North American and start a new life here, needing such a church as the ROEA-OCA, while the other chooses to remain Romanian with an idea of returning there, thus needing the ROAA-BOR. As history has proven, over time, the ROEA-OCA continues to grow and the ROAA-BOR continues to shrink. Time resolves this debate.

  5. Administrator Says:

    Thank you for your timely letter. It is important to have input from your generation on this all-important issue of Unity under Bucharest. What would the founders of this Episcopate think of the problem we now face? What would they say? We often ask these questions and for this reason your input to the debate is so important. Please continue enlightening us with your thoughts.

  6. robert Says:

    My Mosu would have said the same things as you had he been around to witness this unity joke.

  7. Johnny Says:

    It is so interesting that you highlight a very important point that many of us with a democratic mindset have been thinking for a while: “I think the issue should be debated and voted in each parish and not just by the parish priest and the two delegates in Congress.” All of us should decide the Unity issue, not just the few showing up at the Congress.

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