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Call for Unity & Dignity

Author: Group of W. Eur. Orthodox
April 21, 2010
A Call for the Unity and Dignity of the Orthodox Church

Twenty-eight leading Orthodox intellectuals, from Western Europe, signed a French text translated below by Fr. S. Bigham and found on The letter dated April 11, 2010 protests about the move away from traditional Orthodox ecclesiology towards the acceptance of phyletism.

“We the undersigned have come from various waves of immigration during the 20th century or are of Western origin.We have received Orthodoxy from our fathers, an Orthodoxy which is “the Church of Christ on earth,” and this reality takes precedence over any social, cultural, or national concern.

Wherever it is found, the Orthodox Church is called to become part of the local culture, for it is “the new life in Christ” and as such universal. This universality, however, is never abstract: it is always tangible in each place, in each Eucharistic community. There, all the faithful who share the same Orthodox faith, a faith received from the Apostles and passed on by the Fathers, gather together in diversified unity.

In Western Europe, for four generations now, we find ourselves among Orthodox Christians of various origins and have come to understand that we must witness to Orthodoxy together in brotherly dialog with other Christians in the world who have a hunger for God. For fifty years, the Orthodox Fraternity, among other groups, has been searching for ways to bring all Orthodox Christians together in Eucharistic unity within a canonical structure that conforms to our ecclesiology. Our doctrine of the Church is territorial in nature and is free from all forms of “nationalism” and competition between dioceses, without denying any culture, language, or nation. From this point of view, the creation of the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in France in 1997 was a significant step forward.

In this context, we have learned with great sadness of the message from the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, issued on February 11, 2010, entitled “A Call to Unity and Romanian Dignity.” In this message-which makes no reference to God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit-the Holy Synod of the Romanian Church claims to be following the Russian and Serbian examples and calls all Romanian Orthodox clergy and faithful outside Romania, those who find themselves “without a blessing” in other sister Orthodox Churches, to re-establish “direct communion” with the Romanian Patriarchate.

We understand Bucharest’s pastoral concern for isolated Romanian faithful in foreign lands. All the same, is it not shocking to see such concern expressed as a prerogative imposed by the Holy Synod on Romanian Christians in whatever foreign country they may be living and in opposition to Orthodox ecclesiology? On this point, the reference to the Council of Nicaea is not acceptable because the Fathers of that Council rejected the notion of dioceses defined by ethnic considerations; instead, they held, like the Apostles, only to the territorial principle.

At the present time, and in the framework of the preconciliar process, all the Orthodox Churches are reflecting together about the future of the communities in the so-called “diaspora”-a notion which is to a great extent out of date. We are therefore troubled by this call which gives the impression that every Romanian Orthodox in foreign lands must naturally prefer “direct” communion with the Romanian Orthodox Church. Now, since there is only one Church, Christ’s Church, we all have direct communion with each other in His body and His blood. Some Romanian faithful in the West may find themselves attached to sister Churches of the Romanian Church, and this as a result of circumstances in their lives and the ups-and-downs of ecclesiastical relations. Do not these sister Churches share the same fullness of the Orthodox faith? Are they not the very same Church of Christ? In the name of what principle should we dismember Western Orthodox communities that are de facto multi-ethnic and send people back to their Churches of origin?

Such initiatives destabilize our communities which are trying to witness to the Resurrection of Christ in a fragmented and indifferent world. They are the source of suffering, tension, and national rivalries for the faithful. We fear that such an initiative not only undermines the dignity of the Churches who practice it but also the unity and the catholicity of the Church. Our fear is based on what the Fathers of the Council of Constantinople, 1872, had to say: “We reject, censure, and condemn ethno-phyletism as being contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the holy canons of our Fathers, that is, distinctions made on the basis of ethnic origin. We also condemn the quarrels and divisions based on nationalism that arise within the Church of Christ.”

The Church of Christ cannot be used as an instrument for promoting the unity and dignity of a nation. The Church, as the arch of salvation, opens the Kingdom of God and does not belong to any nation. Despite our unworthiness, we are trying to witness to the reality of this salvation and call all Orthodox Christians in the West, and elsewhere, to work for the unity of the Orthodox Church and to the defend its dignity. This begins by respecting the Church’s apostolic ecclesiology: ever since Pentecost, ‘there can be no Greek or Jew…or Scythian, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.’ (Col 3: 11)”

Christ is risen.

April 11, 2010, Thomas Sunday.

Signed by twenty-eight (28) members of the staff of the Orthodox Fraternity in Western Europe, Paris.

Nicolas Behr, retired, Executive Committee, Orthodox Fraternity in Western Europe, Paris
Fr. Boris Bobrinskoy, Honorary Dean, St. Sergius, Paris
Fr. Hildo Bos, priest, St. Nicholas of Myra, Amsterdam
Fr. John Breck, professor St. Sergius, Paris
Denys Clement, doctor, Executive Committee, Orthodox Fraternity in Western Europe, France
Sophie Clement-Stavrou, lecturer, St. Sergius; Exec. Com., Orthodox Fraternity in West. Europe, Paris
Fr. Christophe D’Aloisio, rector, Holy Trinity & Sts. Cosmos & Damian, Brussels, Pres. of Syndesmos
Fr. Michel Evdokimov, prof. Emer. Univ. of Poitiers; rector Sts. Peter & Paul, Châtenay-Malabry, France
Fr. Alexandre Fostiropoulos, rector Sts. Peter and Paul, Clapham, London
Fr. Jean Gueit, Dean S-E France (Archd. of Rus. Churches in W. Eur.); chaplain, Orthodox Frat. in W. Eur.
Jean-Marie Gourvil, teacher, Executive Committee Orthodox Fraternity in Western Europe for Western France
Fr. Claude Hiffler, doctor; rector Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Avignon, France
Jean-Jacques Laham, co-organizer Orthodox Youth Festival, Paris
Daniel Lossky, teacher, Executive Committee, Orthodox Fraternity in Western Europe, Belgium
Fr. Nicolas Lossky, professor, St. Sergius, archpriest Our Lady Joy of the Suffering-St. Genevieve, Paris
Ana Palanciuc, teacher University of Paris VII
Fr. Ignace Peckstadt, rector St. Andrew, Ghent, Belgium
Jean-Claude Polet, professor University of New Louvain, Belgium,
Noël Ruffieux, lecturer University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Cyrille Sollogoub, teacher-researcher Nat. Conservatory of Arts & Trades; Paris; president Russian Students Union
Matthieu Sollogoub, professor University of Paris VI; Executive Committee Orthodox Fraternity in Western Europe
Michel Stavrou, professor St. Sergius, Paris
Fr. Alexis Struve, rector Holy Trinity, Paris
Daniel Struve, lecturer University of Paris VII-Diderot
Anca Vasiliu, Research Director CNRS (Centre Léon-Robin, Paris-Sorbonne)
Fr. Dominique Verbecke, priest St. Andrew, Ghent, inspector of Orthodox education, Belgium
Bertrand Vergely, lecturer St. Sergius, Paris
Fr. Vladimir Zelinsky, rector Our Lady Joy of the Afflicted, Brescia, Italy.”

35 Comments to “Call for Unity & Dignity”

  1. Mark Stokoe Says:

    as posted on, ‘Share Your Comments’ section regarding ‘Call for Unity & Dignity’

    The [above] letter [specifically] challenges the February 11th “Appeal” of the Romanian Orthodox but, as the writer’s make clear, the trend they speak against is not confined to the Romanian Church, but has been used by the Greek and Serbian churches as well to justify recent actions. Just last week the Russian Patriarch, Kyrill, even while announcing joint programs with the Alexandrian Patriarchate in education and assistance, stated that Russian churches, staffed by Russians, would now begin to be built throughout Africa for “Russian speaking people.” According to a posting on the Interfax-religion news agency on April 12th the Patriarch justified the erection of the new Russian parishes throughout Africa by stating:

    “The Alexandrian Patriarch unites many nations and countries under his patriarchal omophorion. The Russian Church also preserves the unity in spirit of our nationals, now living in various countries, but (still) belonging to the one space of Holy Russia.”

  2. Any Moose Says:

    as posted on, ‘Share Your Comments’ section regarding ‘Call for Unity & Dignity’

    This “Call to Unity” and the Episcopal Assemblies set up by Istanbul are nothing more than a HERESY. Istanbul is pushing the false idea of Orthodox Diasporas where ALL Orthodox all over the world “belong” to the ancient bishoprics according to ethnic heritage. Furthermore, Istanbul wants to organize the entire Orthodox world in this manner with Episcopal Assemblies reporting to Istanbul.

    HELLO, this is the Roman Catholic model! The Apostles themselves appointed local bishops to take care of local churches - without reporting to Rome, Jerusalem or anywhere else. Even Orthodox Canon Law establishes Orthodox Churches on the concept of “territory,” not ethnic origin. “LOCAL CHURCHES ARE UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF LOCAL BISHOPS” and they are self-sustaining and self-ruling - period! As Istanbul tries to re-organize the Orthodox world under a HERESY, all Orthodox Christians must take heed of exactly what these foreign hierarchs are doing and reject their misguided ecclesiology. It isn’t Apostolic and surely doesn’t follow Orthodox Canon Law!

  3. Viorel Says:

    Am ajuns din nou de rasul lumii! Patriarhia Romana sustine o Ortodoxie nationalista care depaseste frontierele sale! Nu exista asa ceva in ortodoxie, desi unele biserici sustin aceasta teza pentru binele lor material si pentru binele politic ale guvernelor lor pe care le sustin.

    Sefii ortodoxi din Romania dau cu toporul, fiindca numai asta au invatat! In schimb, elita ortodoxa din Europa occidentala ne arata cu degetul si ne distruge cu condeiul! Ce rusine!!!

  4. Wesley J. Smith Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    I find this apparent trend to promote even greater ethnic identification within Orthodoxy shocking. Perhaps it is a response to the loosening of the importance of such matters, particularly here in the USA, where people of various ethnic backgrounds and “Amurican” converts mix easily and without any ethnic tensions. Do we really want to go back to a time when a church visitor was asked why he or she was in church since they weren’t Greek (or Russian, etc.)? Do we really want segregation of brothers and sisters in Christ based on nationality? I think not.

  5. Fr. John Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    [Wesley] ‘Go back to a time’? It still persists in many, maybe most places where ‘Amurricans’(what I call Anglos) do not numerically predominate. And in some places, like Canada, the reaction against ethnophyletism is so strong that you won’t even hear “Christos Anesti” in an English (-only) language parish.

  6. Greg Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    Do not the sister churches of the Church of Romania, in which some Romanian faithful in the West may find themselves as a result of their life circumstances and the unpredictability of relations among churches, share the same fullness of the Orthodox faith? The above sentence is from The Response to the Appeal. What does “the unpredictability of relations among churches” mean? Thank you.

  7. Fr. Johannes Jacobse Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    In the context of the paragraph it appears to mean that when ethnicity is elevated above the universality of the Gospel, then nationalistic concerns trump all other considerations. My sense is that the authors, writing in Europe and thinking as Europeans, may have in mind conflicts between nation-states (what happens if Germany and France go to war and both nations have citizens who are Orthodox?). In America an example would be where the GOA mutes a necessary moral witness because it may risk offending politicians who might otherwise aid the interests of the Greek State.

  8. Orrologion Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    I wonder if this move is actually part and parcel with the strategy of Episcopal Assemblies. If all the bishops of a region are going to join together, and if those Assemblies are seen to be precursors to ruling, regional Synods, then it would make sense to bolster your population of bishops, clergy and faithful under your local church’s banner. This is essentially an acceptance of St. Tikhon’s vision of a united local church with overlapping, ethnically defined dioceses.

  9. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    Orrologion, this is the “official” take on the Episcopal Assemblies but in reality the phyletistic impulse is too great. I believe it’s just another method of replacing SCOBA (which everybody agrees is a joke) with “SCOBA” pulling the wool over the faithful’s eyes.

    In any event, the “appeal” by the patriarch of Romania is one of the most ham-fisted and obvious attempts at ethnic consolodation that I’ve ever seen. Even the ethnic jurisdictions in North America would be too embarassed to come up with language like this, even in the heyday of xenophobia.

  10. Michael Bauman Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    I suspect it is a reference to the communist domination of the Romanian Patriarchate in the past …

  11. Andrew Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    Lets not forget Big Brother in Romania wanted people to spy on Romanian theological students and clergy in the USA and inform Bucharest. Nothing like some good old totalitarianism with a three bar cross.

  12. Fr. David Hudson Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    BRAVO to the authors and signers of the St. Thomas Sunday document in response to the Romanian appeal. Although, on AOI, I cannot open the link to see names of the signators, I have seen it on another site, and am both heartened and disappointed to see that among them are two Romanian laypeople (university professors), and no Romanian clergy. This is an exemplary document–well stated and in a true Orthodox spirit.

  13. Priest-monk Gregory-Francis DesMarais Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    Fr. David; You know very well that the Romanians who signed that document have NOTHING to lose, and can freely express their sincerest and well thought out ideas. They are people who have integrated well into their adopted countries and cultures, like many Romanian people in the USA & Canada. The absence of signatures by many Romanian clergy and faithful living in Western Europe, as well as those still in the “mother country” is probably due to the fear of intimidation, either direct or clandestine, or perhaps due to a lack of “nerve” – something we previously expressed in another forum.

  14. Fr. David Hudson Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    Yes, I totally understand… and sympathize with those who might wish to sign and can’t. On the other hand, the nationalism in Romanian Orthodoxy is so all-pervasive as to be unrecognized by most, being wrapped in the most sacred of terminology and tones…. The indivisibility of the nation (people) with the Orthodox Church may be expressed best by the fact that the ribbon in every Romanian Gospel book is the “tricolor”. And no doubt in other national Orthodox churches as well. In fact, the marriage of Orthodoxy and Nation are so complete and so completely hallowed as to be unrecognized as phyletism within the national space. Only when it gets out into the rest of the world does it appear so.

  15. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    Fr Gregory, what you say is most probably true, but that is merely an excuse and can in no way justify the subsumation of the Gospel to the state. I realize that I’m in no position to lay blame as I am not a priest and thus captive to an unsympathetic hierarchy. But the fact that such an unsympathetic hierarchy exists in the first place is precisely the point.

  16. Eliot Ryan Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    The indivisibility of the nation (people) with the Orthodox Church may be expressed best by the fact that the ribbon in every Romanian Gospel book is the “tricolor”. The Romanian Orthodox Church is a Church of apostolic origins, born out of the mission of St Andrew the Apostle, who preached the Word of the Gospel also in the old Roman province of Scythia Minor, the territory between the Danube and the western part of the Black Sea, present Dobrogea (south east of Romania). … Romania has a population of 21,794,793 inhabitants, of which 86,7% declared themselves as Christian Orthodox. Given this background, it is not surprising that nation and Orthodoxy are virtually indivisible concepts. I don’t see anything wrong with it. Also, the Scripture tells that God does judge the nations.
    When Romanians, Serbians, Russians, etc, get out into the rest of the world, the connection between Orthodoxy and nationalism does appear as phyletism. When making judgments on this phenomenon one has to take into account that every emigration generally goes through three general phases.

    Fr. Andrew Philips writes: The first generation, that of the grandparents, remains faithful to the old country, though is often coloured by nationalist cultural nostalgia. The second generation, born outside the homeland, suffering from an inferiority complex in the new country because of its origins, fights against its own roots. It denies that it is anything but indigenous to the country of emigration and ends up, for example in the USA, being more American than the Americans. It is only the third generation (sometimes aided by the elderly but conscious representatives of the first or grandparents’ generation) that begins to get the balance right.

    What worries me is that, in Romania, nationalism as a sentiment already took precedence over Orthodoxy. In an article titled “Robber’s Synod in Bucharest” the author concludes:
    Today, the protection of the true Orthodox faith in Romania, its confession in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the dogmas and holy canons, can only be done with the support of the other Local Sister-Churches with who we are in communion. In the same article is given a quote from the book “Laymen in the Church” by a Romanian theologian, Liviu Stan: The laity, with or without the blessing of the hierarchy, must fulfil their duty, they have a right to a correct announcement of the Word and the Church Teachings, and if someone tries to contravene this right of the laity, then, the voice of God may be found in that of the laity.

  17. Fr. David Hudson Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    Eliot, for those of us who are Americans in our thinking and sensibilities, whether converts or cradle Orthodox, I think it is difficult for us to truly understand what we are judging when we talk about Orthodox nationalism and phyletism. As one who was converted and ordained in Romania, I have lived in this atmosphere and I believe I understand it better than many.

    The Romanian Orthodox Church does not understand itself to be phyletistic. For them — I think it safe to say ALL of them — it is a self-evident truth that the Orthodox Church is the Mother of the Romanian Nation. This, essentially ideological, belief plays out in the context in which the Romanian Church itself has only been autocephalous for 125 years, having had its own Patriarch for only 80, and has experienced its existence as being constantly threatened, from both the west and the east. We must understand that, to Romanians, the act of leaving the Romanian Church and going under another one, with a different ethnic identity, is tantamount to betrayal of family, people, and in fact, one’s own true identity. Multi-culturalism is not on their cognitive map.

    The reason I like the above response, from the French Orthodox, is that it is respectful and appealing, yet undeniably authoritative; and it comes from people who mostly understand that they are, indeed, a multi-cultural Orthodox diaspora, a new reality which is still strongly related to the old. And not too far away either culturally or geographically. An inside source tells me that the Romanian Metropolitan of Paris quickly took the Patriarchate’s “Appeal” off his web site, in the embarrassment over the level of reaction it stirred up in France. For that matter, many Patriarchal Romanians in America are not happy about it, I believe, and these people will be heard in Bucharest.

  18. Eliot Ryan Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    “Multi-culturalism is not on their cognitive map”. Fr. David, this is the only one statement I disagree with… It does appear to me that you do have a very good understanding of the Orthodox nationalism and phyletism issue. Even if you state that “it is difficult for us to truly understand what we are judging” you do make several statements which I perceive as being totally correct. I would like to add a couple of things:

    1. Even though the Romanian Church itself has only been autocephalous for 125 years the Romanian people had over the course of history many devout Orthodox Christian great statesmen. They were great defenders of the True Faith. They built many churches and monasteries in thanks to God. They had saintly people as spiritual fathers. Often their mothers became nuns after they raised their children. For example St. Daniel the Hermit advised St. Stephen the Great.

    2. The evil one, in his latest struggle to destroy the Orthodox Church, has spread Orthodoxy to the four corners of the world. This is why we have what we call today the Orthodox diaspora. I do not believe that “multi-culturalism is not on their cognitive map”. They, too, are entitled to their own “thinking and sensibilities”. They are certainly sensitive to dramatic changes in worship/praxis and unclear boundaries between True Faith and heresy. Unfortunately, after the fall of Communism some Romanians have chosen to exchange their faith for material benefits and they became Baptists, Adventists, etc.

    3. The canonical status of the Episcopate led by Archbishop Nathaniel was acknowledged by the late Romanian Patriarch Teoctist. (See podcast on ancient faith radio site: Archbishop Nathaniel Updates on Romanian Orthodox Episcopate in America). I really do not know what +Daniel meant by “non-canonical church structures”. There is evidence that the true Orthodox faith in Romania needs to be protected. We Orthodox have to put our Orthodox Faith first and then our nationality/passports. We should have friendly relations with heterodox, but we must not compromise the God given Truth.

  19. Fr. David Hudson Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    Eliot, perhaps I need to define what I mean by multi-culturalism. When I was in Romania (and for that matter, among Romanians in America), I learned that there is Romanian Orthodoxy, Russian Orthodoxy, Serbian Orthodoxy, Greek Orthodoxy, etc. However, there is not Hungarian Orthodoxy, German Orthodoxy, or Israeli Orthodoxy (of the Christian type). When I converted to Orthodoxy in Romania, I accepted it in terms of Romanian language and culture. When a Hungarian friend of mine (a Romanian citizen) converted to Orthodoxy and became a monk, he took a Romanian name and identity.

    Father Staniloae, a strong proponent of Romanian Orthodox nationalism, maintained that there is no such thing as an abstract person, a person without cultural identity. All human beings come in concrete incarnations. They are Romanians or Italians or Mexicans, with an identity that is both given to them without their choice, and more or less embraced (or rejected, as the case may be) in their free will. In the eyes of the Romanian Patriarchate, it is not normal, or a sign of moral, spiritual, or psychological integrity, for a Romanian to cast off his or her identity as Romanian Orthodox. I think we American Orthodox need to understand this when we read statements like this “Appeal for Romanian Unity”.

    As Dean says in his posting below, we who have been formed in the American culture have a different experience and perspective. To us, ethnicity is secondary or tertiary. And yet we, consciously or unconsciously, often wish to impose our multi-cultural, pluralist, democratic, capitalist “diversity” on the rest of the world (as, for example, in Iraq and Afghanistan). That has often been called cultural imperialism, and perhaps we American Orthodox also have a tendency to judge the Old World by American standards. In fact, we are the new kids on the block, and the little guys in world Orthodoxy.

    As for what the Patriarchate meant by “non-canonical church structures”, I doubt if it would be referring to the OCA Romanian Episcopate, although many people would agree that, unfortunately, the Patriarchate has shown a tendency to be quite careless in its language and pronouncements in recent years, when speaking about the diaspora. I believe there has been some history in the diaspora of some autonomous and non-canonical groups and individuals calling themselves Orthodox (including Romanian), and assume that is what is meant here…

  20. Dean Calvert Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    Christ is Risen!!!

    Without commenting on the status of the Romanian issues, I think the following true story could be helpful. We had a Romanian man who worked in the production area of one of our companies. He was very active at the local Romanian church. Having visited our small, mission parish of St. Raphael, which is comprised of about 50% cradle Orthodox and 50% converts, he was just genuinely confused by what he witnessed there. So one Monday morning, he comes up to my partner, a Greek American, and sincerely asks, “Steve, you are Greek, and Orthodox…I am Romanian, and Orthodox…, but this Joe (a black man at St. Raphael’s), what is he?” There is ethnophyletism and then there is just plain confusion, based upon your experience. I think we, in America, have to be careful not to confuse the two.

    If your entire experience consists of a world of homogenous, “XXX-Orthodoxy”, i.e. a situation where virtually 100% of the population is Orthodox (something we in America cannot relate to), then your point of view is going to be different than the situation (here in America) where we comprise 1% of the population. Put differently, although this never dawned on me when I visited Greece for some reason – when I was in Russia it just amazed me that I was in a country where virtually everyone had an icon in their office. For some reason, that just struck me as bizarre beyond imagination. I came away thinking, “I wonder what it’s like to live in an environment where EVERYONE is Orthodox?” That thought was just incomprehensible. I’m not saying these comments from the Old Countries are justified, or right, and am certainly no fan of ethnophyletism…but I think we in America, just as those 2nd and 3rd generation Orthodox living in Western Europe, are going to naturally have a different paradigm than those living in the Mother Countries.

    Finally, it’s always struck me as ironic that our point of view, living in these more diverse societies, may actually be much CLOSER to that of the “Church of the First 15 Centuries” than those in the Old Countries. Think about it – the environment of the church, for 1500 years, was one where no one ethnic culture was predominant….there was a citizenship (ie Roman) which was of paramount importance – but one’s ethnic identity, be it Syrian, Greek, Italian, Egyptian, Lebanese, Armenian etc – that was clearly of secondary (probably more accurately tertiary) importance.

    That fact tells me that we, in the lands of the “diaspora” may actually have something to teach those in the Old World. Perhaps Orthodoxy in those new lands is a harbinger of a return to a more dynamic, activist Orthodox Christianity – something the Old World has forgotten for 10 centuries.

    Just a few rambling thoughts provoked by your comments. Best Regards, Dean.

  21. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ section “Appeal From the Patriarch of Romania and a Response”

    Dean, I couldn’t agree with you more. Sometimes a man just has to take a man’s word, fully realizing that there’s always an agenda and/or other subtext hidden underneath. We must be sympathetic to a people’s culture and their own particular “back story.” Having said that, we’ve got to get back to Christ’s ipssima verbi when we preach the Gospel. All else is secondary.

    Certainly love demands that we respect each other’s experiences and concerns, but not at the expense of the Gospel. As Schmemann said long ago, “Jesus didn’t die on the cross for bishops to wear nice robes.” [paraphrase] Therefore to place anything but love on such a lofty pedestal risks turning us into idolaters. Eventually people turn against false idols. That’s why SCOBA degenerated into a joke.

    If the upcoming bishops of North America are not serious and continue to disguise their ethnic agendas via an emphasis on “pastoral concerns” then the EA will take the place of SCOBA in the false idol category

  22. Alexandru Nemoianu Says:

    The most authorized Orthodox scholars have spoken. The autocephaly of the New World is a must, according to the apostolic teachings.

    This letter should end any discussion about “unities” with canonical entities of the Old World.

  23. Doug Says:

    as posted on, ‘Share your comments’ section regarding ‘The Appeal from Europe’

    Thank you … Do the Orthodox want to be viable local Churches in the West, gathered in communion around our local Bishops? Or are we to continue with competing ethnic-based dioceses, spread impossibly thin and answering to foreign hierarchs?

    There are American expatriate communities in traditionally Orthodox lands–shall the US dioceses expand to them? No other nominally Christian church in the world carries such absurd baggage.

  24. Mark Stokoe Says:

    as posted on, ‘Share your comments’ section regarding ‘The Appeal from Europe’ – an editor’s remark to the above comment:

    [Doug], it is not an absurd program at all. It is carefully thought out. Who benefits from such a program? The whole point is that ethnic based, foreign-answering dioceses are not competitive. Such dioceses can exist in splendid, unaccountable isolation free from any challenges; their people in unencumbered tribal existences. Hence the poignancy of your last sentence. Nominal does indeed describe the situation accurately.

  25. Brian Van Sickle Says:

    as posted on, ‘Share your comments’ section regarding ‘The Appeal from Europe’

    “The Alexandrian Patriarch unites many nations and countries under his patriarchal omophorion. The Russian Church also preserves the unity in spirit of our nationals, now living in various countries, but (still) belonging to the one space of Holy Russia.”

    What utter nonsense! This is yet another instance of the multiplied layers of so-called ‘Holy’ Tradition being perverted in the extreme.

    He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?”

  26. Mark Stokoe Says:

    as posted on, ‘Share your comments’ section regarding ‘The Appeal from Europe’ – an editor’s remark to the above comment:

    [Brian], good point, but why is no one from the OCA asking the most obvious question:

    If the Russian Church has the “responsibility” to unite all those who belong to the “one space” of Holy Russia, does not the OCA, as the autocephalous Church in America, have the “responsibility” to unite all those who belong to the “one space” of Holy America? Or are we not the Church? Or is America not as holy as Russia? Or Greece for that matter? Or Antioch, or Alexandria? True, we have a shorter, much shorter history in the faith, but then we have had fewer heretics, schismatics, etc. as well. Is not the same Holy Spirit working here in America as worked, and is working, in Russia or Greece?

  27. Brian Van Sickle Says:

    as posted on, ‘Share your comments’ section regarding ‘The Appeal from Europe’

    Mark (Editor), I personally hope no one in the OCA asks this question - at least not with the intentions and ’spirit’ of the Russian Patriarchate. The last I heard, it is the CHURCH that is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, not Russia, Greece…, or America. The “one space” in which the Church dwells is her escatological home in Christ. By conciliar agreement the governance of the geographical space she occupies is (supposedly) defined in geographical terms, but this geography is merely the place of her sojourning:

    “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God WHICH IS AT CORINTH, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, WITH ALL WHO IN EVERY PLACE call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Those who would substitute nations, lands, cultures -however sanctified they may have become through the Gospel - for the Church of the Living God pervert the very Foundation of her unity, holiness, and catholicity. I beg the forgiveness of the His All-Holiness if I have misunderstood his statement, but it certainly seems indicative of precisely this perversion. It never ceases to amaze me how some in (I have almost come to loathe the word) ‘Orthodoxy’ can employ layers upon layers of tradition in the justification of phyletism - or any other sort of anti-Christian behavior - while managing to ignore THE Orthodox Christian Tradition of life in the Holy Spirit.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    as posted on, ‘Share your comments’ section regarding ‘The Appeal from Europe’

    The Orthodox theologians of Europe are correct! The entire idea of ultra-nationalism within the Church is a HERESY. The Church, from it’s very beginning, was never organized by nationalism or heritage. Even the Emperors & Patriarchs of Byzantium were of MANY different nationalities. The administration of “Local Churches” was by “Local Bishops” without “reporting” to foreign bishops. Only when ALL the bishops came together in SOBORNOST, they would speak in one voice and discuss churchly issues. To try and STEAL people, churches & property under the pretext of a DIASPORA or heritage is HERESY!

  29. Yanni Says:

    as posted on, ‘Share your comments’ section regarding ‘The Appeal from Europe’

    The same thing has/is going on in Europe with all of the various “out of country” hierarchs trying to grab their piece of European real estate. There needs to be an Orthodox church of France, Germany, etc and not local churches under the control of Constantinople, Moscow, etc. …

    We here in America need to have such an event here, a breaking away from the ‘brothers’ overseas and form our own church, and a holy one at that not continuing the secularism so evident in modern parishes where Protestanism has mad its inroads.

  30. Matei Says:

    Patriarhia Romana ar trebui sa inteleaga ca noi din afara Romaniei nu suntem Diaspora lor. Noi am ales, sau parintii nostri au ales, sa plecam din Romania si sa ne luam lumea in cap ca sa facem o viata noua, una mai buna. Este adevarat ca o parte din noi am plecat cu speranta sa facem ceva bani si sa ne reintoarcem in Romania, dar majoritatea am ales drumul spre o viata noua in tari adoptive care devin tari mame pentru copiii nostri.

    Patriarhia si guvernul roman nu ne poate controla pe noi cei plecati din Romania, desi incearca prin astfel de “Apeluri” la unitate sau prin decizii “sinodale” ca #892 (Eliberarea Canonica) si #1092 (Preoti Divortati sau/si Recasatoriti).

  31. Anonymous Says:

    as posted on, ‘Share your comments’ section regarding ‘The Appeal from Europe’

    People here don’t seem to get it! After 1917 (Russian Revolution), the Old Country Patriarchs increased set up their own churches with their own priests and bishops in the U.S. The creation of the OCA in 1970, an indigenous, CANONICAL, AUTOCEPHALOUS Orthodox Church in North America was to remedy the chaos. SCOBA discussed in it’s early creation of this solution. However, when the OCA came into being, the Antiochians & Greeks reneged on joining it. The OCA was created as a council of all the ethnic bishops to run their own dioceses and elect their own Metropolitan independent of ANY foreign bishops. The Greeks opposed the OCA from the beginning, although it is canonical and “legitimate.” Now, 40 years after OCA autocephaly, the Bishop of Istanbul wants to establish an OCA like organization in North America, BUT ONLY UNDER HIMSELF as head. The main opposition to unity in North America has ALWAYS been the Greeks. They ONLY want unity under Istanbul. The Episcopal Assemblies are nothing more than foreign bishops trying to gain control over territory, churches & people which they have NO canonical rights to.

  32. Toma Says:

    I have one question: how is uniting under BOR, any different than OCA being under the Russian patriarchate?

    Another question: how is having a Romanian Metropolinate here on American soil against canon law - in reference to the territorial concept? And please, anyone who argues this (including Mr. Nemoianu) please include the exact canons. (De abureli si vorbe in vant ne-am saturat toti.)

  33. Ron Muresan Says:

    Agreeing with Fr. Hudson & Dean, and Fr. Staniloae, God rest him among the saints. Labels aside (heresy, schismatic), perhaps the greatest gift Orthodoxy can offer today is its recognition that there truly is no such person as an abstract man! At its best, Orthodoxy values every human being as complete in himself, coherent and indivisible from her fellows and his place (”For the wind blows and he is gone and his place knows him no more.”)

    Thus, what is NOT a phylestic BOR policy when expressed & applied within Romania (or Russia or Greece), takes on its phyletistic in its application, if imposed outside its “zone of reality”, to coin a phrase. This is the rationale for the norm “one bishop shepherding one place.” It became a canon because it yields fruits, not the other way around. It is nonsense for a shepherd to try and remotely pastor a flock from the next valley over.

    In the same way that we find it near-impossible to make sense of the BOR “dignity policy,” they find our arguments indecipherable, our methods obstinate, even nonsensical. That’s because our arguments can make no sense over there, “where they live,” and vice versa. Our temptations are not theirs, nor are our strengths. Our are distinct realities.
    “All politics are local.” It was an Orthodox maxim first.

    That’s why I say we need give the BOR a “pass” on this one, giving them the benefit of the doubt; their motives are right and holy because they are stated from their point of view. God grant us all the necessary love to bear with each other, the humility to speak truthfully to each other, the vision to perceive the Way we must walk, and the courage to make no false peace. That is what the West Europeans have done. Let’s let their paper stand as a model for us. We need to insist that our Episcopal Assembly step up to concrete action & swear off mere window dressing.

  34. Administrator Says:

    Toma, as you well know, uniting under the Romanian Orthodox Church is the correct thing to do in Romania. As you also well know, having foreign Patriarchates opening churches in Romania would not be acceptable to BOR. Consequently, and as you also should know, uniting under the American Orthodox Church should be the correct thing to do in America.

    On American soil we should have American Orthodox Church structures, not foreign ones. Remember, on Romanian soil we have only Romanian Orthodox Church structures. What is the difference? As you should also know, the Orthodox Church has always been defined by geographic territory and phyletism has been condemned as heretical. Toma, it seems you did not learn this when earning your degree. So, is Viorel right in questioning your diploma? Say it ain’t so, Toma!

  35. Alexandru Nemoianu Says:

    Apparently Toma is unable or unwilling to understand that there are accepted concepts in each discipline.

    In the immigration phenomenon those who come into a new country are the “new comers”. Their children, born in the new country, are the “first generation”, and so forth. The “new comers”, no matter to what specific ethnic group they belong, are not characteristic for the history of the new country because they are people “in transition”, subject to a permanent process of change. One thing should be an absolute must regarding their behavior: they cannot ask for change of existing structures. When you are admitted in a house you are not to suggest, even less to impose, changes. That is elementary! Consequently, the Romanian newcomers should have no say in regard to the canonical affiliation of the “Vatra”. The “new comer” had the choice to choose between the “Vatra-OCA” and the BOR contraption called the ROAA. If they do not now like the Vatra, they should move out as soon as possible. The same applies to the priests serving the “Vatra”. If they are not pleased with the existing canonical situation they should move to the Romanian Patriarchate’ contraption. But they cannot insult their Metropolitan (Jonah) and their canonical body (the OCA). Such behavior is open canonical rebellion and gross disobedience.

    The “Vatra”’s affiliation to the OCA was not a whim and it was not the result of circumstances. It was a deliberate and irreversible decision of the Romanian-American and Romanian-Canadian Orthodox to be part of the New World. It was also the result of the long standing Orthodox tenet that canonical jurisdictions have to be local.

    Toma’s insults amount to nothing. Inasmuch as I am concerned they are badges of moral promotion.

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