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Appeal to Unity Response

Author: Ronald Andrei Muresan
February 16, 2010
A Response to Bucharest’s Appeal to Unity.

Whether you do or don’t agree that our OCA Vatra Episcopate should conclude a merger with our sister here, the Romanian Archdiocese, you need to read the Appeal to Unity issued Feb.11, 2010 by the Romanian Patriarchate & signed by every member of the Holy Synod (BOR).

It is found here. Read it and ponder, whether this issue really needed to be forced now, just at the start of Great & Holy Lent. And WHY it is being forced just now?

At the same time, read the letter also posted on the same website, here from 1984 by our late Archbishop +Valerian Trifa to the then-Patriarch of Romania +Iustin, both of blessed memory.  Few people remember that from the very moment that our late Archbishop retired in 1984 and moved to exile in Portugal, the Church of Romania immediately re-asserted its absolute right and power over our “break-away” Episcopate.

From 1950 to 1984, to 2010, the policy has been undeviating. The latest version:

  1. The Patriarchate deems that we in the Vatra Episcopate “are, without [their] blessing, in other sister Orthodox Churches” [the O.C.A.].
  2. Using Chambesy as the latest justification, they say: “each autocephalous Church [them] has the right to shepherd its own diaspora [us].
  3. The O.C.A. violated Canon Law which stipulates ”the principle that no diocese[the O.C.A.] is allowed to receive under its jurisdiction Orthodox clerics and faithful [us] without the blessing of the Church (diocese) [Romanian Patriarchate] to which they [we] belong. Under the Romanian Constitution and Statutes, we BELONG to them.
  4. We Vatra Romanians are painted as “rejecting the call to unity and Romanian Orthodox communion,” and that “there are no more real reasons” [actual rationales] on which we can base our rejection.

We BELONG to them. The message is crystal clear. Theirs is The Right, and they have “the duty” to enforce it.

Archbishop +Valerian put it best in his 1984 letter:

  1. The Patriarchate, by pushing and demanding, can only force us farther away.
  2. Our adherence to the canonical protection of the O.C.A. is fundamental to the life of our Episcopate and is therefore “irreversible.”

Indeed, one of the negotiators for our sister Romanian Episcopate has said “off the record” that THEY are seeking this Unification as their best hope for THEM to finally break free of the Patriarchate’s influence. Maybe THEY ought to join US, INSIDE the O.C.A.

What a way to start the 2010 Great and Holy Lent . . . O Lord and Master of my life . . .

*None of the opinions expressed above are in any way related or attributable to my parish or any organization/auxiliary of which I am an officer or member. They are, however, mine and I stand behind them, and commend them to my fellow Orthodox and the larger community. RM.

19 Comments to “Appeal to Unity Response”

  1. Administrator Says:

    It is important that you bring up our late AB Valerian’s 1984 letter to the late Romanian Patriarch Iustin. At that time our Archbishop was forced into retirement and BOR immediately increased the pressure to take over our Episcopate.

    Prior to WWII our Episcopate was run by Bishop Polycarp who was never allowed to return to America after WWII. Bishop Valerian was then made his Vicar and then successor. In the early 1950’s BOR and the Communist Government of Romania created a parallel church structure here, now known as the ROAA, with Bishop Andrei Moldovan as its head, as a means of taking over our ROEA Vatra Episcopate. They failed, but continued undermining us at every step, up to and including the forced exile of our AB Valerian. This is the context in which, from Portugal, our late AB Valerian wrote his 1984 letter to the late Romanian Patriarch Iustin. That letter was in response to the increased pressure to take over our Episcopate.

    In that 1984 letter AB Valerian said that Bucharest pressure would only force ROEA members further away from BOR. He then declared that our Episcopate is under the Canonical protection of the OCA, and since this is fundamental to the life of our Episcopate, it is “irreversible”. Nevertheless, Bucharest pressure never stopped and this, in some instances, even from within the Episcopate. Our hope was that after the “fall of communism” in 1989, the parallel church structure created by the Communist Government through BOR, the ROAA would be disbanded, and that their few parishes would be allowed to join the much larger ROEA Vatra Episcopate under the OCA. In spite of the 1990 changes in Romania, pressure to unite under BOR has increased like never before, both from without and within our ROEA.

    The most recent BOR Appeal to Unity is nothing less than an insult to our Episcopate. Whatever happened to “Maximal Autonomy” or my preferred one, “having a canonical relationship ‘with’ BOR rather than ‘under’ BOR. Finally, even the BOR Patriarchate negates all that in its latest “Appeal to Unity”. The truth of this unity under BOR is finally surfacing. Not surprisingly, the last 20 years of negotiating with the ROAA/BOR have led nowhere since we were doing so in good faith, and they were not. Some of us were fooled by their approach and some of us were not. With this latest BOR “Appeal”, which is really nothing else but an insult to the ROEA/ OCA, everyone in ROEA should see what this “unity” under BOR is really all about. We must stop this discussion with them before it is too late.

    It seems that we are worth a lot to Bucharest and BOR. Is it because without us at the Vatra, they can rewrite our anti-communist history and somehow justify the fact that many of them collaborated with the Communists? Is it because there is a big prize for turning over to the Romanian Government the most important American/Romanian political platforms here – our ROEA pulpits? Is this really about Moldova and the quest for national and religious control there? Is it because by subordinating our Episcopate this justifies Romanian Hierarchs visits abroad, or is it only because they believe there is a lot of money to be had in America? One thing is certain; for whatever reason(s), they continuously assault us and we are obliged to defend ourselves from falling victim to their attacks. And this, from Romanian Orthodox church hierarchs… Where is Christ in all this?

  2. Peter Says:

    Why this BOR obsession with interfering in North America? First they set up parallel Church structures in the 1950s, then they “forgive” their own church leaders who collaborated with the Communists, yet they keep running these same church structures from afar, pushing the same agenda of ethnic control over a Diaspora that does not exist. And now they are again attempting to claim our Episcopate as their own under the guise of “unity”. Control of our church communities is what they have always wanted, so that they can influence American-Romanian pubic opinion from these Political platforms. Nothing has changed.

    The Orthodox Church is structured on the local/territorial concept having refuted the ethnic one centuries ago. BOR’s attempts to obfuscate the clarity of this are pitiful. They are clearly not interested in helping our OCA grow locally here in North America. Neutrality would be one thing but in this case, they are clearly attacking the OCA.

    OCA- for the love of God, country, and all future North American Orthodox Faithful- keep all looters out!

  3. Optimist Says:

    Your response to Bucharest’s “Appeal to Unity” is an interesting and understandably emotional one. Your points make comments that would easily bait anyone in North America who is trying to support and help build a strong, North American (United States and Canada) existence outside the clutches of the Romanian or other foreign Patriarchates.

    However, I feel that we should be doing more than reacting to them. It has now become important that the OCA state clearly that it will have nothing to do with giving in to foreign pressures.

    Although presented under the guise of the whole “globalisation” bandwagon that seems to be more and more around these days, BOR’s approach is not at all new. It is more a chapter from the old colonialisation/imperialism cart that has once again, taken on new clothing, but underneath, it is all the same. They are smart but we have to be smarter and try to be pro-active in our resolve to protect our local Orthodox church.

  4. CNI Says:

    The diaspora DOES exist. I and many others Romanian Orthodox in America are part of it, and happily so.

  5. Peter Says:

    Dear CNI, the diaspora that does exist is a 1st generation phenomenon that, in most cases, does not last more than the first 20 years outside Romania, and most certainly does not go into the 2nd generation or beyond. In the context of the Patriarchate’s appeal, we are all considered part of their Diaspora, 1st and even up to and including 5th generation, not to mention spouses married to those of Romanian heritage, etc. That diaspora most certainly does not exist.

    If in fact you feel more Romanian than American, or if you are here for only a short period of time, you may find the ROAA, the BOR underling here in North America, to be a more suitable place for you and your family. If however, you want to establish your family in this country for the long term, then the ROEA-OCA is probably your best bet in that it is a church from here, run by Hierarchs born here and where your children will more likely retain Orthodoxy as their religious choice, given the OCA openness to things American, the nation, culture and language you chose and that your children and grandchildren will be born into.

  6. Toma Says:

    Certainaly Peter, but take a survey from every parish (call each priest if you want), and check out what percentage are first generations Romanians. You would be surprised and find that 75% are first generation Romanians. [Also] check out all the second generations Romanians… how many come to church? How many marry orthodox spouses? Reality check. Uniting under BOR will not bring these “un-oriented religous” individuals to church. Neither will remaing under OCA. Like I said before; OCA will not bring children to church. It has not up until now and will not in the future.

    Now, for a 1rst generation Romanian this idea [of uniting under BOR] is very appealing. But this can’t be said about a 2nd generation or third generation Romanian (which makes up no more than 40% of the Episcopate). This is the problem.

    What uniting under BOR will do is… unite all Romanians under one hierarch, just like the Greeks are united, the Serbs, the Russians, the Ukranians etc. We Romanians are the only ones who are left disunified. Uniting all Romanians on this continent - is a step forward (under our mother church – BOR, just as the Greeks, Russians, Serbs, Ukrianians etc).

  7. Peter Says:

    Toma, even if you are correct, and the majority of ROEA church-goers are first- generation Romanians, what does that have to do with our ROEA Vatra Episcopate abandoning the OCA to unite under BOR? You mention second generation Romanians - these “un-oriented religous” individuals. Don’t look at other pews, your own family will do! Ask your own “un-oriented religious?” children if they want to go back under the Romanian Church and live here in an ethnic ghetto, or if they prefer to belong to the Orthodox Church of America, a church from here, with Hierarchs from here, using some Romanian in the services and run in English, according to our American customs and traditions as a church from here should.

    You say uniting under BOR is appealing to first generation Romanians, yet you have nothing substantive to back up this claim. In fact, the contrary claim CAN be supported in that ever since the 1950’s everyone coming here from Romania has had the choice of joining either our Vatra ROEA-OCA or Bucharest’s ROAA-BOR and the vast majority has clearly chosen our Vatra ROEA-OCA! Of course “2nd generation or third generation” want this even less in that they have little in common with Romania. So, how can you possibly conclude from your second paragraph that: “Uniting under BOR is a step forward”? This is “circular logic” and has no business in a serious discussion. You must explain WHY this may be a step forward before asserting it is.

    You claim that uniting under BOR would unite us under one hierarch here like other ethnic groups and you mention them WITHOUT ACKNOWLEDGING that there are many Serbs, Russians and Ukrainians that are NOT under their foreign mother churches, not to mention Bulgarians, Albanians and Romanians that are in the OCA alongside converts, indigenous peoples and those marrying into the Orthodox faith. How can you make such obviously false claims and still want to taken seriously?

  8. Toma Says:

    [Peter said] “Toma, even if you are correct, and the majority of ROEA church-goers are first- generation Romanians, what does that have to do with our ROEA Vatra Episcopate abandoning the OCA to unite under BOR?” Are you serious? In other words, this majority has no say in anything just because you say so? Wake up and smell reality! You mention to ask “my un-oriented religous” if they want to go back to the Romanian church? Are you listening to yourself? I can tell you their answer: “I don’t care”! And even if they said no, they still would not fill our churches, even remaining under OCA. The sooner you relize it is not right for a majority to go along with a minority, just because you say so, the better it is for everyone.

    Just because newcomers who came here chose a Romanian church under the OCA does not mean they chose the OCA. Rather, it means that particular church was closest to their homes, and more conveniently, had a Romanian priest, and held Romanian speaking services, in which made them feel good, and gave them a sense of connection to their true identity: Romanian. They did not join beacause of the OCA. And this goes the same with alll the Romanian priests. They joined this episcopate, not because of OCA, but because of the chance they were given by our Archbishop to look over the “Romanian flock” in this country. Nott in any way because of the OCA.

    With all this said, yes, I can conclude that uniting both episcopate (unde the spiritual advisory of the BOR) into one Metropolinate is “a step froward.” Maybey not in your selfish mind, but in the minds of Romanian priests (who make up 99% of this episcopate, and who continue to serve, and in the minds of the majority who are “first generation Romanians. OCA has been deminishing throughout the years. Why? Because it is not uniting, but rather dividing. This is why the only ethnicities affiliated with it are: Romanian and Albanian. Even the Russians have left!

    Stop using children as an excuse! Because you know very well OCA does not have anything to do with filling our churches. If this was the case, the “english speaking churches would be full every Sunday. [Finish with the aberrations and show only the truth.] Mai termina domnule cu aberatiile si pune tot adevarul pe fata.

  9. Peter Says:

    Toma,what don’t you get? Let me try again. The new immigrants who came to this country since 1950 have had the choice of EITHER THE ROEA-OCA OR THE ROAA-BOR and most have chosen the former. People had a choice and they chose. People can also change their minds. ERGO, IN THE SAME WAY THAT YOU CAME INTO OUR EPISCOPATE, YOU CAN LEAVE IT!

    You say that: “Just because newcomers who came here chose a Romanian church under the OCA does not mean they chose the OCA.” WHAT? This sounds the same as saying: “I chose Los Angeles but not California, OR, I chose New York but I want nothing to do with the United States”. Not a clear enough example? How about: “I am Orthodox, go to church and take communion from my priest but I don’t believe in Bishops, OR, I am Roman Catholic but don’t believe in the Pope.” Toma, get serious and “smell the roses”! If people were in a city or town where there was no ROAA-BOR church AND they wanted to be in the ROAA-BOR they would start a BOR mission in that place. Such examples do exist albeit few and far between. Most people have a lot more principles than you give them credit for. Moreso for priests. I am convinced that many priests who chose the ROEA-OCA did so because they no longer wanted to be subjected to the over-handed tyranny of BOR and were happy to belong to the ROEA-OCA. Ask a priest from Romania how much he paid for his last parish posting in Romania, or ask a divorced priest his opinion…

    Contrary to what you claim, there is growing interest in the OCA, particularly since it cleaned house. In addition to the existing Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Albanian groups, the Antiochians, Serbs, Ukrainians, White Russians, etc., not to mention Episcopalians and other converts, look to the OCA as a beacon of American Orthodoxy, or at least a first step in the right direction. Toma, you really must get out of your little ghetto and find out what actually is going on in American Orthodoxy before attempting to pollute this discussion with falsehoods.

    You say: “Stop using children as an excuse” for not abandoning the OCA and submitting to BOR, yet, from my perspective, THIS WHOLE DISCUSSION IS ABOUT WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR CHILDREN. Again, as the Administrator and many others have explained on this website, going back under BOR would mean reverting to a foreign church with foreign hierarchs using foreign methods of administering our church, compared to remaining in the OCA which is an American church run here by people from here using administrative methods known to us who are born here. Ask your own children who were born here what they would prefer: OCA or BOR. Eureka Moment? ERGO, THE PAST IS BOR AND THE FUTURE IS OCA!

  10. Alexandru Nemoianu Says:

    Toma, “Generatia intaia” de imigranti nascuti in noua tara din parinti “nou veniti”, TOTI sunt mai comfortabili in engleza, nu numai in cazul Romanilor-Americani si Romanilor-Canadieni ci al tuturor celor asezati in Lumea Noua.

    Se pare ca Toma este incapabil sa inteleaga faptul ca Ortodoxia nu este o nationalitate ci este o Credinta. Iar rolul Bisericii Ortodoxe este sa promoveze si sa pastreze aceasta Credinta, in limba locului, si mai ales prin caracterul ei local. Mai pe intelesul lui Toma, printr-o entitate canonica autocefala a Lumii Noi, iar asta este OCA. Inca ceva.

    In materie de adevar, parerea majoritatii nu are nici un fel de importanta. Crestinismul a fost marturisit initial de cativa pescari analfabeti in fata unui Imperiu. Iar asta nu facea marturisirea lor mai putin adevarata. Atunci si acuma!

  11. Anonymous Says:

    De Radu Gyr:

    Ridică-te, Gheorghe, ridică-te, Ioane!

    Nu pentru-o lopată de rumenă pâine,
    nu pentru patule, nu pentru pogoane,
    ci pentru văzduhul tău liber de mâine,
    ridică-te, Gheorghe, ridică-te, Ioane!

    Pentru sângele neamului tău curs prin şanţuri,
    pentru cântecul tău ţintuit în piroane,
    pentru lacrima soarelui tău pus în lanţuri,
    ridică-te, Gheorghe, ridică-te, Ioane!

    Nu pentru mania scrâşnită-n măsele,
    ci ca să aduni chiuind pe tapsane
    o claie de zări şi-o căciula de stele,
    ridică-te, Gheorghe, ridică-te, Ioane!

    Aşa, ca să bei libertatea din ciuturi
    şi-n ea să te-afunzi ca un cer în bulboane
    şi zărzării ei peste tine să-i scuturi,
    ridică-te, Gheorghe, ridică-te, Ioane!

    Şi ca să pui tot sărutul fierbinte
    pe praguri, pe prispe, pe uşi, pe icoane,
    pe toate ce slobode-ţi ies inainte,
    ridică-te, Gheorghe, ridică-te, Ioane!

    Ridică-te, Gheorghe, pe lanţuri, pe funii!
    Ridică-te, Ioane, pe sfinte ciolane!
    Şi sus, spre lumina din urmă-a furtunii,
    ridică-te, Gheorghe, ridică-te, Ioane!

  12. Administrator Says:

    Anonymous, aceasta poezie, scrisa pentru a da curaj celor impotriva robiei comunismului, sustine faptul ca lanturile iadului trebuiesc sfaramate si ca drumul Golgotei este suferinta necesara fara care Invierea devine aproape imposibila.

    Radu Gyr ne invata ca libertatea ne da puterea de a alege adevarul peste minciuna, lumina in loc de intuneric!

    Radu Gyr da curaj celor care au sete de dreptate si care urasc compromisul!

    Radu Gyr ne invata ca omul “LIBER” poate trai LIBER chiar in inchisoare, dar numai daca ramane curat si neclintit in fata tot raului cu care se confrunta zilnic.

    Radu Gyr ne dovedeste ca numai omul “LIBER” poate sa-l aleaga pe Christos, si din cauza aceasta ea este atat de scumpa.

  13. Toma Says:

    Very one sided disscussion Mr. Administrator. Everything here relates only one side of the argument, because you refuse to post both sides.

    As for “Anonymous” and the statement that “the only opposition to OCA unity in North America has ALWAYS been the “Greeks” is just not true. From the beginning, every Orthodox jurisdiction has been against the OCA. Today, even the Russians, whom it was found under, have separated from under it. There is a need of Orthodox unity here in the U.S, but not under OCA.

    You cannot force a majority that are Romanians……an episcopate which is 85% Romanian (with 99% Romanian priests) to do what people like Mr. Administrator, and Nemoianu want. This is not Iraq or Afghanistan. This is the Orthodox church.

  14. Administrator Says:

    Toma, stop with the lies. Every argument you send is posted here, albeit sometimes edited for insults, repetition and circular logic. That there is no valid Orthodox argument for abandoning the OCA and going under BOR is your problem, not ours.

    The Unity of the Orthodox Church of America has always been stopped by “interested” patriarchates wanting to take care of their own national needs rather than the religious needs of Orthodox and potential Orthodox in North America. To date the OCA is the only real option we have. Will the Episcopal Assembly offer new and better ideas? We will have to wait and see.

    Toma, there is no substance in your use of unverified statistics and consequently your argument is baseless. In any event, when there will be secret ballot voting at the parish level we will find out what the true proportions are: either in favour of staying in the OCA, or going under BOR.

  15. Toma Says:

    Unirea trebuie, mai intai, sa fie sub biserica noastra mama, BOR. Dupa ce este unire, atunci putem vorbii despre o mitropolie Americana si un sinod oficial in care face parte toti episcopii din America.

    Este foarte interesant, dupa cum se scrie pe acest “one sided site” toti ortodocsii din lume sunt prosti. Toti sunt eretici. Mai mult. Toti ar trebuii sa asculte de oameni ca dmn.nemoianu, care este expert in drept canonic. Daniel e prost. Patriarhul ecumenic e prost si eretic, toti. Numai noi astia din america suntem destepti, si credem ca putem sa ii invatam pe ei, din lumea ortodoxa, “ce este ortodoxia.” sa fim seriosi!

    In America, se vede ce a facut democratia! O tara plina de peste 3500 de secte protestante. Nu clerul bisericesc trebuie sa asculte de laici, ci laici de cler. Si laicii au cuvant in biserica, dar nu in chestii de drept canonic si spiritualitate. Asta ar inseamna prostestantism.

    Repet iara. Cine vrea sub OCA (putinii care sunte-ti) ramane-ti sub OCA. Dar restul, ne vom unii sub BOR!

  16. Administrator Says:

    Unirea sub BOR nu duce la creerea unei adevarate Patriarhii Americane cu un sinod propriu. Din contra, parasind OCA-ul ajuta la amanarea unei asemenea masuri.

    Nimeni pe acest site nu a spus ca “toti ortodocsii din lume sunt prosti. Toti sunt eretici” De unde o mai scoti si pe asta? Toma, minciuna nu are loc aici.

    Toma, daca nu iti place aceasta tara atunci CE CAUTI AICI? Nu vrei Democratie, atunci du-te unde nu este. In plus, noi toti suntem crestini, cler si mireni, cu raspunderi diferite, si daca nu se lucreaza impreuna, Hristos nu mai este la mijloc, si biserica Lui dispare. Iata ortodoxia noastra.

    Repet si eu iara. Cui nu-i place la noi in Episcopia Vatra ROEA-OCA sa plece la ROAA-BOR! CAT MAI REPEDE!

  17. Administrator Says:

    Toma, stop with the circular logic. BOR is the Orthodox Church on the terrotory known as ROMANIA. The OCA is the Orthodox Church on the terrotory known as NORTH AMERICA.

    Yes, there are plenty of exceptions to this in North America, hence our dilemma of more than one Bishop per city, the problem of overlapping jurisdictions, etc. … That is why the Episcopal Assembly of all Orthodox Bishops in North America is being convened May 26-28 in New York. The concept of territory is geographic and not ethnographic asnd so, BOR has no more right in North America than the OCA does in Romania. Get it?

  18. Toma Says:

    In biserica lui Hristos nu exista democratie, ci teocratie. Cine nu le convine si continua sa creeze probleme prin principii democratice care nu au nimic de a face cu mantuirea si credinta adevarata, sa mearga la protestanti!

  19. Administrator Says:

    Toma, nu tin sa repet corectarea deja facuta in rea folosinta a cuvantului ‘teocratie’. As spune numai ca este vorba de un sistem de guvernare unde sefii Statului sunt clerici. Deci, Biserica nu are cum sa fie o teocratie.

    In Biserica ortodoxa exista si clerici si laici. Impreuna ei formeaza Biserica lui Hristos care exista sub paza Sfantului Duh. Pentru aceasta putem spune ca ortodoxia nu este nici dictatura clerului romano catolic si nici dictatura laicismului protestant.

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O Lord and Master of my life,
leave me not with the spirit of laziness,
of despair, of domination, or idle words.

Rather, give me, your servant, the spirit of integrity,
of humility, of patience, and of love.

Thus, Lord, grant me the wisdom to see my own faults,
and not condemn my brother;

for You are blessed, now and forever. Amen.


Our Father, who are in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day
our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.