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NA’s Episcopal Assembly

Author: Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky
May 17, 2010
On the eve of North America’s first Orthodox Episcopal Assembly

From and originally published in the OCA’s
“The Orthodox Church” Winter 2009 - 2010 Edition.

ART. 8
26-28 MAY 2010 NEW YORK

The journey of the Orthodox Church in North America is entering a new stage. This spring, following the Great Feast of Pentecost, some 60 Orthodox bishops will gather for the inaugural meeting of the Episcopal Assembly of North America mandated by the IV Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar conference at Chambesy, Switzerland, in June 2009. They will convene in New York at the invitation of Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, acting as representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch.

The Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Jonah, has already affirmed the “Chambesy process,” telling the other hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Bishops at their meeting in the fall of 2009 that the Orthodox Church in America welcomes the creation of the Episcopal Assembly and regards the Assembly as an important and promising stage of the journey towards a fully united and self-governing Orthodox Church in North America.

In the Episcopal Assembly, all of the hierarchs - with one exception - will be bishops of patriarchates represented at the Chambesy conference of 2009. The one exception will be the bishops of the Orthodox Church in America. The OCA is not invited to the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar conferences, yet it is a member of SCOBA and will take its place in the Episcopal Assembly.

The autocephaly of the OCA, granted by the Patriarchate of Moscow in 1970, is recognized by four other Churches - Georgia, Bulgaria, Poland, and the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. The Orthodox Churches are divided into three parts on the question of the autocephaly of the OCA - one third fully recognize the OCA’s autocephaly, one third withhold judgment, one third are strongly opposed. Nevertheless, in the words of the Ecumenical Patriarch to the OCA, the OCA is seen as a canonical Church, with legitimate bishops and valid sacraments.

During the decades of its autocephaly, the OCA has endeavored to be faithful to the Orthodox missionary vocation in North America, understanding the Orthodox mission in Alaska (1794) as the beginning of its history. The OCA also has endeavored to contribute to the building of a united Orthodoxy. The stated convictions and principles of the OCA have emphasized collaboration with the other Orthodox churches in mission and in the quest for unity. From time to time, voices within the OCA have slipped into triumphalism. These voices have been heard as making exclusivist claims for the OCA - claims suggesting that “others” must submit to the “canonical primacy” of the OCA in America. Such triumphalism is inappropriate, unjustified, and counterproductive. It also contradicts the Tomos of Autocephaly granted to the OCA by the Patriarchate of Moscow. The Tomos is clear that the new autocephalous Church is mandated to live in peace and collaboration with the other Orthodox churches in America while striving for the unity of all Orthodox.

For the OCA, the decisions of the Chambesy Conference of 2009 are a reminder of a previous stage in the history of the OCA. In the 1960s, the Russian Orthodox Church of North America - the “Metropolia” - appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras to take a strong initiative in resolving the canonical challenges and irregularities in America. The Ecumenical Patriarch’s response was - you must solve your problems with the Russian Orthodox Church. It was in following this advice of Patriarch Athenagoras that the OCA achieved both reconciliation with the Russian Orthodox Church and recognition of the OCA’s self-governing status in the form of the Tomos of Autocephaly.

Now the global pan-Orthodox process, led by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, has achieved consensus on the question of Episcopal Assemblies in the so-called diaspora. The Orthodox Churches in America, including the OCA, are now invited to work together by consensus towards common mission and common witness. The hope expressed by the appeal to Patriarch Athenagoras in the 1960s is on the way to its fulfillment.

The Feast of Pentecost - both in June 2009 and in May 2010 - connects our pilgrimage of unity to the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and on the apostolic community. We pray that the grace of the Holy Spirit may inspire us to build up of the Body of Christ in the spirit of mutual love and may equip us to collaborate in ministry and mission. And in the mist of the hard work this will require, we will depend on the joy to which Saint Seraphim of Sarov testified when he greeted all who came to him with the words “Christ is Risen, my joy!”

21 Comments to “NA’s Episcopal Assembly”

  1. Administrator Says:

    The author is continuing to present the OCA as it is; a humble, but local and independent Orthodox Church. This might placate some, but not others. Only the outcome of the May meetings will show whether there is room for this North American reality in the Old world Patriarchates’ mentalities.

  2. Administrator Says:

    Autorul continua sa prezinte OCA-ul cum este; adica o Biserica umila, dar locala – o Biserica Ortodoxa independenta. Aceasta va putea fi pe placul unora, dar desigur nu a tuturora. Numai rezultatul adunarii din Mai ne va arata daca este loc pentru aceasta realitate Nord Americana in mentalitatile celor din Patriarhiile din lumea veche.

  3. Isa Almisry Says:

    as posted on regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    [Mathew] I believe you left one out: Ligonier. I believe that’s important because the evidence seems to indicate that a realization was dawning on the murderers of Ligonier that it wasn’t quite dead. In partiucular, the protocols of Chambesy seem to try to marginzalize the OCA without explicitely doing so, in face of the new dynamic and dynamism coming from that jurisdiction as of late.
    At present the EA has my prayers, but I’ll hold out on the support. Arcbb. Demetrios seems to be handling the matter well, far better than his colleague did the Latin American Assembly (raising questions about the implications of the fiasco there), but I’ll have to see where it goes, and where it is allowed to go.
    If it fails, I believe the OCA will become de facto the only platform remaining in the future

  4. Mathew Namee Says:

    as posted on regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’
    When I think of Ligonier, personally, I see it as just a part of the larger SCOBA effort. After all, Ligonier was just a single meeting, one event. It didn’t result in an organization of any kind, but was itself organized by SCOBA. Thus, I don’t see that it is fundamentally its own (sixth) attempt at unity. I can see the argument for including it on its own, but I chose not to.
    I don’t agree that the OCA is marginalized by the Chambesy protocols. The OCA bishops are full members of the Assembly, just like their counterparts in the other jurisdictions. Metropolitan Jonah has expressed his enthusiastic commitment to the whole process.

    Honestly, the OCA was never going to have the Greeks on board, and without the Greeks, you lack half of the Orthodox in America. Maybe some would be happy with that sort of “unity” (unity among all but the Greeks), but really, that’s not unity at all — just fewer jurisdictions. And not necessarily even that, since the OCA’s Romanian, Bulgarian, and Albanian jurisdictions all have non-OCA counterparts (as I said in the article). The OCA is not a realistic platform for unity. It was a great effort, but it’s just not going to happen that way. If the Episcopal Assembly fails, it will probably be a long time before we have another chance like it.

  5. Isa Almisry Says:

    as posted on regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’
    Since you brought it up: The Albanian “counterpart” of the OCA consists of two parishes, whereas the OCA Albanian diocese is in fact the Mother Church of the Orthodox Church in Albania. The Romanian and Bulgarian (itself anomolous, as Sofia recognizes the autocephaly of the OCA) exarchates are based on a model, purely phyletistic, which is increasingly untenable. Hence in part the failure of the Romanian jurisdictions to unite, and the recent of appeal of Bucharest to ethnic solidarity is falling on deaf ears.
    As for the Greeks, that of course was the original problem. But times have changed. The OCA counts many Greeks in it, and many in the GOA openly support the OCA. I remember the shakeup in the GOA with Spyridon. The Phanar is not in control as it was with Arb. Iakovos’s departure. If the EA fails, it is going to develop into a show down between Constantinople and Moscow, with repurcusions here. And that won’t be short in coming.
    The OCA can’t be a full member when its signature isn’t on the accords (although a plurality of Churches recognize its autocephaly, the branches of the Greek Church being the only opposition), and the person whose job it seems to be the information point man on them seems to think the first two syllables of OCA is “so-called,” while emphasizing the allegedly “unanimity” of “all” the Churches.
    Met. Jonah has expressed enthusiasm about the opportunity, and has expressed confidence in Archb. Demetrios’ chairmanship. From the lessons of Ligonier and other things, I conclude that Arb. Demetrios isn’t the problem, and may try to be the cure. We’ll see. If the EA here has a debacle like the Latin American one, it won’t bode well.

  6. Dean Calvert Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’
    Sorry Matthew, but our “best chance” occurred at Ligonier, which ironically is not even mentioned in the piece. Archbishop Iakovos, of blessed memory, lost his nerve, and paid the price. At that meeting, the following “Statement on the Church in North America” (see below) was issued. It’s as true today as it was then.
    Ligonier I, the First American Council of Orthodox bishops, is the benchmark for the upcoming conference – not some romantic notion of the “Mother Churches”, each of which is frankly nothing more than a “front man” for various foreign governments and interests. If the assembled hierarchs have the courage to continue the work of Ligonier, i.e. the creation of a united, independent and autocephalous American Church, they will be applauded. If not, they should all stay home and give the money to the poor.

    We, the Orthodox Hierarchs in the United States and Canada, assembled at the Antiochian Village, Ligonier, Pennsylvania from November 30 through December 2, 1994, do first and foremost offer most sincere gratitude to the venerable Fathers and Hierarchs of our Mother Churches beyond the seas for their love and concern exhibited by the prominence given to the `diaspora´ on the agenda for the forthcoming Great and Holy Council evidenced in the Adopted Texts of the Preparatory Commission. We await the next meeting of the Commission referred to in the Adopted Text of November 1993. We maintain that it is critical that the Church in North America be directly and concretely represented at that and future meetings. How is it possible for there to be discussion about the nature of the Church in North America in our absence? We must be present to share the two hundred years of experience that we have had of preaching the Gospel and living the Orthodox faith outside of those territories that have historically been Orthodox. We would humbly ask His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch to seek a way, through the venerable Hierarchs of the Standing Conference to accomplish this representation. We also humbly request the Primates of the other mother Churches to support this initiative. The demands upon our Church’s life by an unbelieving society do not allow for any further delay in this process. Episcopal assembly supports the repeated requests of SCOBA for its officers to be granted an audience with His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch and the other patriarchs and Primates of the Mother Churches to discuss the North American reality.

    Furthermore, we have agreed that we cannot accept the term `diaspora´ as used to describe the Church in North America. In fact the term is ecclesiastically problematic. It diminishes the fullness of the faith that we have lived and experienced here for the past two hundred years. Moreover, as we reflect on the ways in which the Church in North America has matured, it is important to recognize that much has been done as the natural and organic response of Orthodox Christians who share the same faith while living together in one place. We celebrate and build on already existing structures. Some are formal. The first of these is SCOBA itself. There are in addition various agencies of SCOBA such as the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), the Orthodox Christian Education Commission (OCEC), the Orthodox Theological Society in America (OTSA), the Orthodox Christian Missions Center, and other North American-wide pan-Orthodox efforts. There are also less formal structures such as the joint meetings of our theological schools and seminarians, the joint monastic assemblies, the local councils of churches and clergy brotherhoods, and sacred art and liturgical music associations. They give witness to the strong foundation upon which we continue to build. To this end, all of our efforts should be coordinated within an overall ecclesial framework. This would provide the freedom and flexibility to allow us to organically become an administratively united Church. As in any Orthodox ecclesiological framework for a local Church there are three levels. The first is the national, or in our case continental. The second is the regional or diocesan. And the third is the local or deanery. All of these depend upon and grow out of the parish which is the primary place where Christians express and encounter their faith.

    On the national or continental level the body which coordinates the life of a Church is the Synod of Bishops. We have had in SCOBA an Executive Committee that has guided Church Life in North America for over thirty years. In convening this present Conference of Bishops, we find ourselves to be an Episcopal Assembly, a precursor to a General Synod of Bishops. We express our joy that in addition to the regular meetings of SCOBA, this Episcopal Assembly will convene on a annual basis to enhance the movement toward administrative ecclesial unity in North America. The regional level presents a special challenge because this is one area in which few models of cooperation presently exist. Bishops who live within a given region of North America should meet and concelebrate regularly. They should coordinate activities, encourage clergy, and laity to get to know one another and to work together and initiate concrete joint programs. In essence, they should duplicate regionally what SCOBA has pioneered on the continental level for the past thirty-three years. The local level is where the greatest diversity of models presently exists. These range from very informal clergy or lay associations to highly structured clergy brotherhoods or clergy and lay councils of churches. The bishops of a given region should continue to encourage the clergy and laity of their parishes to work together with other parishes in their area. Without imposing any one model, bishops should seek to formalize and regularize those models that already exist. In areas where there are as yet no such structures, bishops should work with the clergy and laity to develop a model that is appropriate in that locality. The principle is to encourage diverse models within a canonical ecclesiological framework. The Church in North America also benefits from our various monastic communities. Their meeting together should be encouraged by their hierarchs so monastics might share their spiritual experience and wisdom with one another and with the whole Church of a given region.

    We would like to emphasize again: this is presented as a broad outline or framework within which the whole Church in North America can grow to manifest the deep unity of faith that we share in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father who sent Him, and the Holy Spirit who continually makes Him known to us. The visible unity of the Church is a profound witness of our love for Him and for one another. Finally, we would like to thank and bless our Christ-loving flocks: the pious priests, deacons, monastics, and laity — who, praying and laboring together, incarnate the oneness which our Church on this continent already enjoys. We ask for their prayers and support, as we pledge to work with them for the glory of God and His Holy Church.

  7. Fr. Peter Dubinin Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    … In many areas of life I have conducted myself according to the saying, “something is better than nothing.” If the EA provides the reason for gathering and the forthcoming council provides the how to, ref. autocephaly, it will be just a matter of time before the administratively united Church in America truly becomes an Orthodox Church for all Americans – native born and naturalized; no more looking over our shoulder to see if we have anyone’s approval save that of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. The sheer number of Americans coming into the Church now and in the future will make it a uniquely American Church – Hispanic, African-American, Native American and white American. I pray the ethnics who populate our ethnic Orthodox Churches will lead the way in expressing love and welcome (after all as many of us have been reminded so frequently, they have been Orthodox from birth; what could we converts and retreads possibly know or have to contribute to the faith) to all in this country who are on a spiritual journey to the Church; even though it will mean they very quickly become a smaller and yet smaller minority within the Church in USA.

  8. Harry Coin Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    Dean has it: Ligonier was the standard. That it goes unmentioned now in ‘high places’ tells the story that the foreign interests might like to be a collective distant Vatican. But my hope is with Fr. Peter: Having been brought together these people ought to do what’s right for the people for whom they are given to care — right here, right now, while there are still enough of us to make a go of it

  9. Scott Pennington Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    Where to begin? “The tenuous unity that existed among the Russians, Serbs, and Syrians soon fell apart, and by 1920, any notion of American Orthodox unity under the Russians was dead.” This glosses over a lot. There was widespread recognition that the Church in America was under the omophorion of the ROC before the Russian revolution. It was not unanimous, but a number of different ethnic groups applied through Russia to their home countries in order to obtain clergy. The thing that destroyed this was a) the Russian revolution itself and b) the creation of GOARCH by then Archbishop Meletios IV.

    “The Russian Metropolia — successor to the Russian Archdiocese, and predecessor to the OCA — granted Archbishop Aftimios his wish in 1927.” This, to say the least, is debatable. Not in the least because at one point the Metropolia was under ROCOR. Both ROCOR and the OCA consider themselves the successor to the Russian Archdiocese.

    “The Russian Metropolia had entered into talks with the Moscow Patriarchate, and in April of 1970, Moscow issued a Tomos, granting autocephaly to its formerly estranged American daughter.” And this was quite odd given that the Metropolia had not been in communion with the ROC for over 30 years.

    “The Episcopal Assembly, which holds its first meeting this coming week, includes every single Orthodox bishop in America — every one. No jurisdictions are left out.” Well . . . perhaps, but the OCA was excluded from the planning and it is clear that the Phanar a) does not want them there because b) it does not want them pushing for the EA’s to become a real synod.

    “This is not just SCOBA Part II. For the first time in history, the Mother Churches are, openly and in unison, calling for us to unite administratively.” That statement is just flat out absolutely false. The Romanian Synod has already indicated that they are not on board. They want all Romanians to return to Romanian jurisdiction. Moreover, what you leave out is that the Chambesy documents do not allow for the EA’s to work as synods or become synods on their own. Furthermore, the documents specifically state that the autocephaly of an American Church could not be granted except by a Great Synod. Much of what is in the blueprint for these EA’s guards the prerogatives of the Mother Churches and assures the continued jurisdictional separation of the various churches in America.

    Also, just to be thorough, when you describe the history of efforts toward “administrative unity” in America, would it not be forthright to mention Ligioner? I mean, this article seems to have this air about it that many have tried for such unity and somehow it just fizzles, but now that the old world churches are “calling for it”, it is immenent.

    The old world synods and patriarchates (Moscow excepted) are far, far from knights in shining armor. They have loathed the idea of an American Orthodox Church because it would snatch their protectorates/ATM machines away from them. Moreover, Constantinople has already torpedoed what looked to be serious, imminent unity in 1994. When you see serious timelines, when you see territory being reallocated, when you see some bishops being retired or reassigned to mission work, when you hear about money changing hands to satisfy each and every autocephalous church to grant permission to create a new American Orthodox Church – - then you will know the time is nigh. Until then, it most certainly is SCOBA II. Wait and see. Even the author of the piece is talking 5-15 years. The whole thing could be done in 6 months if the will were actually present among the Orthodox here and in the mother countries. It isn’t.

    What is possible – - and frankly, what seems likely given the hype that we continually hear about this stuff – - is that some faction composed of those in the various jurisdictions who are committed to Orthodox unity might try to hijack the process or, more politely, push it where the old country synods would not want it to go.
    I’m not sure that much good would be accomplished by this though. Everyone is attracted to the new shiny thing. Everyone thinks that it’s the cat’s meow and will greatly facilitate peace, love and understanding – - hope and change, even. But consider that the composition of this great, new force for the glory of God – - the American Orthodox Church – - would be the same groups with the same cultural and religious attitudes as exist now. I leave to your imagination how these various groups would coexist harmoniously in a church led by the bishops of what presently is the largest of the American jurisdictions. Why not just let sleeping dogs lie and let the various jurisdictions compete to spread Orthodoxy in America? Those who do so most successfully deserve to dominate whatever unified church emerges here. Most likely by the time we compose a significant percentage of the population here (10%, 20%?) administrative unity will work itself out. At most, at present, the Orthodox are perhaps 1.7 percent of the populace.

  10. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    Scott, if I may, I believe your first point of criticism re Matthew’s analysis is more a less a restatement of what he said. At most, you both may be talking past each other. As to your second, point, the Metropolia granting “…Aftimios his wish in 1927″ that would seem to be accurate. I don’t really know if ROCOR at that time subsumed the Metropolia. I realize that this is a bone of contention between ROCOR and the OCA (or at least its historians) but from what I’ve read, the term “metropolia” was the au courant term used to describe the Russian-American archdiocese in North America. Otherwise, I completely agree with you.

    If I may add some more obstacles to unity: the pay of priests from jurisdiction to jurisdiction is widely variegated. In order for the GOA to purchase its hegemony over the American church (see my comment below), hundreds of priests are going to demand inclusion in the GOA’s pension and health plans and then demand a more uniform pay scale. If you think that the $40-50K price tag for getting 65 bishops together annually is going to burn a hole in the fat-cats’ pockets, just wait until 1500 non-GOA priests start lining up demanding their fair share of the pie. Another obstacle: the preponderance of poorly paid priests can bend the pay curve downward for many of the better paid GOA priests. Won’t that be fun?

    One more quibble: given the triumphalism of the GOA and the overall tribalism of the other ethnic jurisdictions, your picture of the EA being a SCOBA II is optimistic. In retrospect, SCOBA will look far better than the EA. (I pray I’m wrong but I fear I’m being realistic.) Unless and until the ethnarchs realize that they’re here in America to stay, forget about it. They suffer from the beaten wife syndrome, always going back to Slobovia to get their warm fuzzies.

  11. Dean Calvert Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    Hi Scott, AXIOS! That’s Greek for “helluva job”!

    You are right on the money…this is going to be one big charade, orchestrated by Old World patriarchates under the guise of “supporting unity”. But the GOA apparatchiks are out in full force…suddenly supporting unity, but dismissing the need for an independent, or local church. The excuse used yesterday, at the meeting in Detroit, was that “we are only 1% of the population.” Good thing we didn’t have these guys around when we went into Moravia…there would be no Russian Alphabet, or Church!

    So…let’s see, we need unity, but we don’t need an independent church…lookup “unfriendly takeover” in the dictionary and you’ll see the EP’s smiling face. I’ve compared the attitude of the EP/GOA to the Corleone’s for years. The kind of unity they want is, “What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is debatable.”

    And, as far as Ligonier is concerned, may God have mercy on those patriarchs, archbishops and bishops who publicly and behind-the-scenes torpedoed the results of that momentous conference. I’ve got to believe there’s a very special place reserved for them… But then again, I remind myself that St Methodios, dying at the end of a 23 year mission, probably perceived their work to have been a complete waste of time…his and St. Cyril’s work having been displaced throughout the country by German bishops and priests. All of which is a long winded way of saying “God definitely has a sense of humor.”

  12. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    Dean, the fact that they “admitted” to you that “we…are only 1% of the population” shows to me delusional thinking. According to the incessant happy talk that bilges out from The Orthodox Disturber, we are invariably told that Arb Demetrios is “spiritual leader of 1.5 million Orthodox in America.” In a country of 300+ million people, that comes to 0.5% of the population (at best). Of course, the reality is that he’s the primate of the GOA, which has a population at the outside of 440,000 (which is 0.14% of the population of the US). sigh.

  13. Andrew Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    Sorry, but but the vast majority of Orthodox Bishops are trapped in the golden prisons of lifetime salaries, large paychecks, gift$ of “luv”, and a suburban lifesyle. While the Orthodox Faithful struggle to pay the bills, professional celibacy is priceless. Lets be honest if the GOA was not paying for a couple of days for our hierarchs to hole up in the Helmsley Hotel would this happen? How many bishops would care enough to show up? How can anyone be critical of the EP and the OBEY 28 Mantra when the GOA is flipping the bill for this event?

    The Early Church met in the upper room under the threat of persecution now today the Church meets in a luxury hotel with room service and pay per view movies as they congratulate themselves on being masters of the universe. I would also like to point out once again that there is no canonical, spiritual or moral reason not to broadcast the proceedings of this assembly. What do our bishops have to hide? Let the world see how they work for themselves. OCL flushed $20,000 of member donations down this black hole without even asking for simple accountability to the people. The vast majority of bishops when left on their own will simply act to preserve their own self interest and suburban lifetsyle. This fact that has been proven time and again. The assembly will be no different. Too many overpaid bishops and professional clergy cannot risk their paychecks for the sake of American Unity.

  14. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    As much as I applaud Matthew’s piece (and optimism) I’m afraid that the subtext is incorrect: Scott is right, the Old Worlders do not want their American ATM closed down. Furthermore, I do not see how the EA can work under such bad faith. Just like SCOBA, once it becomes obvious that the EA is just a vehicle for GOA overlordship over North America, then you can bet your bottom dollar that it will fail.

    Why do I say this? Look at SCOBA. Once its charimanship became the permanent prerogative of the GOA, the other primates said: “OK, you foot the bill, we’ll just show up and look pretty for the cameras.” Think about it, SCOBA was relatively cheap to convene. I imagine all of the primates lived within 100 miles of NYC. That’s just a 2 hr drive, $10 for gas for a day-trip. The EA on the other hand is going to cost at least $40,000 to convene. You think that the GOA fat-cats are going to like to keep on footing the bill AT LEAST once a year, every year? Yeah right. No, what will happen will be that once the bishops realize that the EA is not serious, then find excuses to not show up. In retrospect, we’ll look back on SCOBA even during its decrepitude and consider it a silver (if not golden) age.

  15. Andrew Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    George, lets also remember this. If the GOA cannot be trusted to adhere to the SCOBA constitution of a rotating presidency. Why trust the GOA to run the EA?

  16. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    Good point, Andrew. Answer: you can’t. Ergo another reason for failure.

  17. Andrew Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    It’s going to be interesting to watch who gets to speak to the press regarding the EA. Will all bishops get to speak to the press freely? Will any bishop who is not part of the elevated OMOGENIA (Race of Greeks) get to talk to the press? Will some type of pseudo-canonical gag order be imposed? Will only a pre-written cotton candy press release be issued by the crackerjack 79th Street Press Office? I don’t think the GOA will tolerate each jurisdiction let alone bishop issuing their own opinion on the EA.

  18. Scott Pennington Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    Well, we’ll see what happens. A silver lining in all this for those who wish a speedy establishment of a united church in America would be that the very fact that so many are talking this up will have probably one of two possible effects: If, in fact, the “old world” primates and synods are serious, and if the more ethnocentric types in this country can be brought into agreement, then perhaps a united church might emerge on Mr. Namee’s timetable. If, however, this is just SCOBA II, then it is just possible that enough Orthodox in America in the various jurisdictions will become so disgusted that they simply take matters into their own hands, as Fr. Thomas Hopko suggested. Either way, perhaps the EA’s are a fortuitous development, whatever the intention behind them.

  19. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on blog regarding: ‘Administrative Unity USA’

    At the end of the day, I see no reason why Orthodox bishops should not meet regularly once a year. It can’t be to the bad. It’s just that most will balk at being herded into a photo-op to show how wonderful the Phanar’s man is. In time, I doubt that quorums will be met. Ultimately it’s just a game of chicken: who’s will tire first? the GOA that needs to have 50+ bishops show up each and every time or the fat-cats who are footing the bill?

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Fr Kishkovsky is in a very difficult position and I respect him greatly for carrying that cross. That being said, I think it’s important for all of us to realize what is going on in his carefully worded statement. There are a few main points that should be of concern to us.

    1) “the Orthodox Church in America welcomes the creation of the Episcopal Assembly and regards the Assembly as an important and promising stage of the journey towards a fully united and self-governing Orthodox Church in North America.”

    What does this mean? What Fr K is not elaborating on is that the OCA “think-tank” is accepting the fact that they may/will have to take a back seat in terms of autocephaly, perhaps reluctantly accepting a more “autonomous” identity rather than “autocephalous”. It is certainly a departure from the past 40 years of rhetoric, but the writing appears to finally be on the wall.

    2) “The autocephaly of the OCA…is recognized by four other Churches - Georgia, Bulgaria, Poland, and the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. The Orthodox Churches are divided into three parts on the question of the autocephaly of the OCA - one third fully recognize the OCA’s autocephaly, one third withhold judgment, one third are strongly opposed.”

    OK, so 2/3 of the Orthodox Churches in the world DO NOT ACCEPT the autocephaly of the OCA. “Withholding judgment” is NOT consent — let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”. And of the 5 Churches who have said they recognize the autocephaly, 3 of them still have a presence here in direct opposition to the understanding of what an Autocephalous Church is (Russia with its Patriarchal Parishes and now ROCOR; Georgia having just appointed a bishop to oversee it’s American mission; and Bulgaria with its longtime diocese). So in the big picture, just 2 of approximately 15 Churches (13.3%) actually respect the OCA Autocephaly. Those who promote this 1/3-1/3-1/3 theory are intentionally trying to misrepresent the situation.

    3) “In the 1960s…The Ecumenical Patriarch’s response was - you must solve your problems with the Russian Orthodox Church.”

    Here’s the crux of the problem. The Russian Metropolia was told to solve their problems with the Russian Church and a specific resolution was given to them, and to them alone. In response mainly to the political climate of the times, their resolution (autocephaly) was extended by them to clergy and faithful of other Churches (ie, Bulgarians, Romanians, Albanians) and a stance was taken that all “must” join the OCA. But it was not and is not within the OCA’s capability to grant their autocephaly to anyone else. This is what Fr K carefully alludes to when he discusses “triumphalism”. The OCA finally accepts the fact that they cannot and never really had the authority to extend “autocephaly” to clergy and parishes under the omophorion other canonical Orthodox jurisdictions. For those who aligned themselves with the OCA out of political necessity over the years, the EP’s statement from the 1960’s holds true again today: “you must solve your problems with the [mother] Church”.

  21. Administrator Says:

    Dear Anonymous, your interpretation of Fr. Kishkovsky is very questionable:

    Point #1 - It seems clear that Fr. Kishkovsky is trying to allow for a broader inclusion of all Orthodox Churches in North America to form a truly united Orthodox Church here. OCA autocephaly is not the issue for him, but I suspect it is for you.

    Point #2 – The point Fr. Kishkovsky is making is that OCA Autocephaly is actively opposed by only a minority of Patriarchates. What he doesn’t say is that those Patriarchates which actively support OCA autocephaly represent the vast majority of Orthodox faithful. Your play on words above is just mumbled logic and does negate the fact that most Orthodox worldwide accept OCA autocephaly and that this is alo true in North America.

    Point#3 – And where pray tell did you come up with this odd ‘gem’? You really have to come up with more logical argumentation if you want to be taken seriously…

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