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AB Nicolae at Episcopal Assembly

Author: Arhiepiscopul (Archbishop) Nicolae
May 27, 2010
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Address of Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese [ROAA under Romanian Patriarchate] at the Episcopal Assembly of North/Central America

Excerpts from romarch.org

ART. 3
AT THE EPISCOPAL ASSEMBLY AND AFTER – UNITY OF ORTHODOX IN NA
26-28 MAY 2010 NEW YORK
LA ADUNAREA EPISCOPALA SI DUPA – UNIREA ORTODOCSILOR DIN NA

Your Eminence Archbishop Demetrios,
Your Eminences and Your Graces,
Dear Brothers and con-celebrants in the Lord,

We have gathered here these days bathed in the Light and Grace of the All-Holy Spirit to discuss the future of our Holy Orthodox Church in North America. Whether this comes to be seen as an historic meeting will depend on us, and what we decide. And while we may have been convened in a new way, that fact is that the project of organizing the Church on this continent is not new. As we continue our deliberations it would be helpful to pause and reflect on all of the efforts over the last century that have enabled us to come to this moment. We stand in a line of very eminent and holy people who grappled with the very same issues we will attempt, over the course of days and years, to reconcile and resolve. If we are able to discuss these issues in ways that have eluded others in the past, it will be in no small measure due to the real vision and sacrifice of all of those men and women who planted Christ’s Church here; who watered and nurtured Her; who ensured that She would take root and grow.

It is customary when we speak of the history of our presence in North America to mention the towering figures of St. Tikhon, Patriarch Athenagoras, Metropolitan Antony Bashir, and Archbishop Iakovos, and it is right to do so. Yet, it is always a perilous business when recounting names. There are so many people to whom this moment belongs. I think of my own predecessor, Archbishop Victorin. He served the Church here for over fifty years, as a professor at St. Tikhon’s, as a parish priest, and finally as Archbishop. He was a faithful witness to Christ’s Church, here. He was devoted to the cause of Orthodox unity, here. He would never be absent from meetings of the Standing Conference or other occasions of pan-Orthodox witness. There are many in this room who, like he, labored for this moment. There are many, clergy and lay people, who have struggled and continue to struggle to ensure the witness of our Church on this continent. It is fitting that we take a moment and give thanks to our Compassionate God for them.

What we are asked to do during these days is not very glamorous. Most of it is administrative. We will hear reports, be asked to establish committees and commissions, discuss and recommend the boundaries of one or more Episcopal Assemblies on our continent, and many other seemingly unimportant matters. But we would be mistaken if we think our work is not absolutely critical to the future of our Church. We are laying a foundation. When people marvel at a magnificent structure very few, if any, venture down to the cellar to examine what stones were laid to support the whole building. My beloved brothers, we are being asked to take the building blocks already prepared for us, and with these and others build the supporting structure for the future…

[A REVIEW OF SCOBA AND ITS MANY SUB-GROUPS, ASSOCIATIONS, ETC. FOLLOWED AND WAS EDITED]

… Beloved Brothers, when I was called to serve as Archbishop for our Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese, I had little experience of life in North America. I was raised and educated in Romania. I did graduate studies in Western Europe. While deeply grounded in our Orthodox faith in my Mother land, my experience of our Church outside of Romania was largely in France and Germany. As I assumed my duties here, I began to experience the richness and diversity of Church life in North America. To be sure, it is not the same as in a traditionally Orthodox setting, but it is genuine, alive, and full of the Holy Spirit. Many of you have either been raised or spent many years here. I have a different perspective coming here as I did. I was and am amazed by the depth of what I have found. There are difficulties – no one can deny this. Yet, there is also an energy and vitality to our North American Orthodox Christian experience that is to be treasured. As just one example, look at the way in which faithful lay persons have taken up Christ’s work here. The faithful of our parishes and dioceses have embraced the spirit of volunteerism that is the hallmark of our Canadian and American nations. Many of the Agencies and Organizations cited above are staffed primarily by volunteers. This gift of faith in action is something we can offer to world Orthodoxy.

We can never forget that the unity of the Church is not an option. We are united in faith expressed in worship, but we are also united in faith expressed by action. The unity we find when celebrating the Liturgy together must also be expressed in the way we organize ourselves internally and in our outreach to the world. Sometimes, we might be tempted to withdraw into ourselves because of the frustrations we feel with the dissentions in our parishes and the squabbling in our dioceses. However, we can never allow ourselves to accept factions and divisions within the Church as a permanent reality. It makes a lie of what we say we believe. This is true both in our search for a closer unity within the Orthodox Church especially here in North America, as well as in our search for unity with the other Christian Churches.

In saying this we always need to remember that unity is a gift from God. We may argue for the need for a more coherent ecclesiastical structure, but even when we have achieved success at creating a better organizational framework, we still experience this unity as a gift from God, not the result of our efforts. We know that any agreement or constitution is not worth the paper it is written on if the necessary good will and love are lacking. Only God can give us this.

We are called by some the “diaspora.” Others reject this designation. There is certainly a dynamic tension. Let me suggest that in the push and pull of what we were and what we are yet to become we find the “now and not yet” of the coming Kingdom. The development of our Orthodox Church in a pluralistic “new world” has forced all of Orthodoxy to grapple with the missionary imperative of the Gospel. Much of what we see in our SCOBA legacy is in some sense a response to the new setting in which Orthodoxy finds itself.

Among the most important issues we will need to decide in these days is how to absorb the great work of SCOBA. The many ministries of SCOBA over fifty years have truly been a blessing for the entire Church. These ministries have strengthened our unity in Christ Our Lord. The ministries of SCOBA have provided a fruitful witness for Orthodox Christianity throughout these lands. The ministries of SCOBA have contributed to advancement our Church throughout the world. This is truly a precious inheritance that provides us with a firm foundation for our future work. I urge us to not only endorse it, but to embrace what is being offered to us as precious inheritance. So many grace-filled people have labored for so many years to give us this gift offered us by God. For my part, I give thanks to Almighty God for these holy witnesses who have preceded us. In them God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is glorified, now and always.

4 Comments to “AB Nicolae at Episcopal Assembly”


  1. Administrator Says:

    That the history of Orthodoxy in North America be reviewed by a Hierarch at this Episcopal Assembly is a good thing and is normal. That Archbishop Nicolae, who represents a minority of Romanian North-American Orthodox does so, is brazen and a travesty, particularly since he represents the Romanian Patriarchate here, the Church that acted as a tool of the Communist Romanian government during the time from 1947 to 1990. Everything Bucharest did was done to discredit our Episcopate here, in an attempt to take it over and transform our parishes into political platforms of our cold war Communist enemy. Our Episcopate, the ROEA, is a Diocese of the OCA and represents 75% of all Romanian North American Orthodox faithful, yet Archbishop Nicolae speaks at the Episcopal Assembly and not the ROEA’s Archbishop Nathaniel?

    Also, even after 1990, the false communist interpretation of our history has never been corrected by the present day Romanian Patriarchate or its North American Archdiocese headed by Archbishop Nicolae. How dare these foreigners and representatives of some who were enemies of the USA and Canada, stand up today in a public place, as was the Episcopal Assembly in New York last month, and tell us about our history, interpreting their role in a completely false way. They never worked towards creating a North American Orthodox Church, only bringing us under their foreign control.

    Having us abandon the OCA to join him under the Romanian Patriarchate was and is Archbishop Nicolae’s objective, and the objective of the Romanian Patriarchate today. All you have to do is read the Romanian Patriarch’s Unity Appeal posted on this website February 13, 2010, to understand that his representative here, Archbishop Nicolae had no moral right to speak at the Episcopal Assembly. Unhappily, Bucharest is continuing to play with us. Let’s pray that the North American Bishops gathered in New York understand this game for what it is, and that we in the ROEA/OCA remain prudent with them, and remain faithful to the OCA.


  2. Administrator Says:

    Ca era important pentru un Ierarh sa vorbeasca despre istoria ortodoxiei in America de Nord este ceva bun si normal. Dar, aceasta sa fie facuta de Arhiepiscopul Nicolae, care reprezinta o minoritate de romani nord-americani ortodocsi este obraznic si o travestire, mai ales pentru ca el reprezinta Patriarhia Romana aici, acea Biserica care a actionat ca o unealta a guvernului comunist Roman dintre 1947 si 1990. Tot ceea ce a facut Bucurestiul a fost sa discrediteze Episcopia noastra aici,pentru a lua controlul ei si sa transforme parohiile noastre in platforme politice pentru inamicii nostri comunisti din razboiul rece. Episcopia noastra, ROEA, este o Dioceza a OCA-ului si reprezinta 75% din toti credinciosii ortodocsi romani - nord americani, si totusi Arhiepiscopul Nicolae vorbeste la Adunarea Episcopala si nu Arhiepiscopul Nathaniel de la ROEA?

    In plus, chiar dupa 1990, interpretarea comunista falsa de istoria noastra nu a fost corijata de catre Patriarhia Romana de astazi sau chiar de Arhiepiscopia sa de sub conducerea Arhiepiscopului Nicolae. Cum indraznesc acesti straini si reprezentantii unora care au fost inamicii Americii si Canadei, sa stea sus in picioare intr-un loc public, cum a fost Adunarea Episcopala de la New York luna trecuta, si sa ne vorbeasca noua de istoria noastra, interpretand rolul lor de o maniera complet falsa. Niciodata nu au lucrat spre a crea o Biserica Ortodoxa Americana, ei au lucrat numai sa ne duca sub controlul lor strain.

    Sa abandonam OCA-ul ca sa ne unim cu dansii sub Patriarhia Romana a fost si este obiectivul Arhiepiscopului Nicolae, si obiectivul Patriarhiei Romane de astazi. Trebuie numai sa citesti Apelul la Unitate al Patriarhului Roman, postat pe acest site pe 13 februarie, 2010, ca sa intelegi ca reprezentantul lui aici, Arhiepiscopul Nicolae, nu avea dreptul moral sa vorbeasca la Adunarea Episcopala. Este trist, dar Bucurestiul continua sa se joace cu noi. Sa ne rugam ca Episcopii Nord Americani care s-au intalnit la New York inteleg acest joc pentru ceea ce este, si ca noi din ROEA/OCA sa ramanem prudenti cu ei si sa ramanem fideli OCA-ului.


  3. Gigi Says:

    Au trecut 20 de ani! Este frustrant pentru un roman emigrant de dupa 1990 sa vada ca biserica romana este impartita. Si majoritatea emigrantilor romani sunt veniti dupa 1990. Cu tot respectul pentru lupta anticomunista dusa de Vatra mi se pare ca aceste orgolii, Astazi, sunt lipsite de miez. Sa preferi conducerea unei asa zise mitropolii ruse (cred ca se stie cat rau a putut face Rusia poporului roman!) cand exista varianta unirii intr-o mitropolie ROMANEASCA, mi se pare aberant.


  4. Administrator Says:

    De fapt, pentru multi dintre noi, urmasii primele generatii de romani ortodocsi in America, urmasii celor veniti dupa razboiul mondial al doilea, convertitii, inclusiv cei care au devenit ortodocsi prin casatorii mixte, si pentru o parte din cei veniti dupa 1990, OCA reprezinta Biserica ortodoxa aici in America. Intr-adevar este o biserica tanara, dar ea este o biserica locala, de sine statatoare, asa cum cer canoanele ortodoxe. OCA este o biserica cu Ierarh ortodocsi nascuti aici, cu seminare aici care pregatesc preoti pentru America, unde limba liturgica principala este engleza pe langa cea romana, sau rusa, sau bulgara, sau albaneza, etc., o biserica condusa in stil local unde laicii au un cuvant de spus, asa cum este prescris in canoanele bisericii. Deci, OCA este o biserica unde copii nostri pot trai viitorul lor ortodox intr-un context care nu le este strain. Multi dintre noi vrem o biserica nu dupa placul nostru, dar una cu care putem sa atragem si sa mentinem tineretul in ea, invatand din trecutul nostru aici. OCA versus BOR nu mai are ca obiect razboiul rece, ci are viitorul religios si ortodox ai copiilor nostri ca punctual central. Deci, BOR inseamna trecutul nostru, si OCA prezentul nostru si viitorul ortodox copiilor si nepotilor nostri.


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