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Message of Episcopal Assembly

Author: AB (IPS) Demetrios et al
May 28, 2010
Message of the Episcopal Assembly of the Canonical Orthodox Hierarchs of North and Central America,
May 26-28, 2010, New York.


ART. 4
26-28 MAY 2010 NEW YORK

We glorify the name of the Triune God for gathering us at this first Episcopal Assembly of this region in New York City on May 26-28, 2010 in response to the decisions of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference held at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Switzerland, from June 6-12, 2009, at the invitation of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Gathered together in the joy of the Feast of Pentecost, we humbly recognize our calling, in our unworthiness, to serve as instruments and disciples of the Paraclete, who “holds together the whole institution of the Church” (Hymn of Vespers of Pentecost).

We honor and express gratitude to the Primates and Representatives of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches who assembled at the Ecumenical Patriarchate from October 10-12, 2008 to affirm their “unswerving position and obligation to safeguard the unity of the Orthodox Church” (Chambésy Rules of Operation, Article 5.1a) and emphasized their will and “desire for the swift healing of every canonical anomaly that has arisen from historical circumstances and pastoral requirements” (Message of the Primates 13.1-2)

We call to mind those who envisioned this unity in this region and strove to transcend the canonical irregularities resulting for many reasons, including geographically overlapping jurisdictions. For, just as the Lord in the Divine Eucharist is “broken and distributed, but not divided” (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom), so also His Body comprises many members, while constituting His One Church.

We are grateful for the gift of the doctrinal and liturgical unity that we already share, and we are inspired by our leaders, the Heads of all the Orthodox Churches throughout the world, who proposed that which we painfully yearn for in this region, i.e., the “swift healing of every canonical anomaly” (Message of the Primates 13.2). We are also grateful that they established a fundamental process toward a canonical direction and resolution.

We are thankful to almighty God for the growth of Orthodoxy, for the preservation of our traditions, and for the influence of our communities in this region. This is indeed a miracle and a mystery.

During our gathering, and in accordance with the rules of operation of Episcopal Assemblies promulgated by the Fourth Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar Conference, we established:

1.   A registry of canonical bishops (Article 6.1)

2.   A committee to determine the canonical status of local communities in the region that have no reference to the Most Holy Autocephalous Churches (Article 6.2)

3.   A registry of canonical clergy (Article 6.3)

4.   Committees to undertake the work of the Assembly, among others including liturgical, pastoral, financial, educational, ecumenical, and legal issues (Articles 11 and 12)

5.   A committee to plan for the organization of the Orthodox of the region on a canonical basis (Article 5.1).

In addition to the above, we agreed that a directory would be created and maintained by the Assembly of all canonical congregations in our region.

We as Episcopal Assembly understand ourselves as being the successors of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), assuming its agencies, dialogues, and other ministries.

Moreover, at the formal request of the Hierarchs who have jurisdiction in Canada, the Assembly will submit to the Ecumenical Patriarch, in accordance with the rules of operation (Article 13), a request to partition the present region of North and Central America into two distinct regions of the United States and Canada. Additionally, at the request of the Hierarchs who have jurisdiction in Mexico and Central America, the Assembly will likewise request to merge Mexico and Central America with the Assembly of South America.

As Orthodox Hierarchs in this blessed region, we express our resolve to adhere to and adopt the regulations proposed by the Pan-Orthodox Conferences and approved by the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, and to do everything in our power by the grace of God to advance actions that facilitate canonical order in our region.

We confess our fidelity to the Apostolic Orthodox faith and pledge to promote “common action to address the pastoral needs of Orthodox living in our region” (Chambésy, Decision 2c). We call upon our clergy and faithful to join us in these efforts “to safeguard and contribute to the unity of the Orthodox Church of the region in its theological, ecclesiological, canonical, spiritual, philanthropic, educational and missionary obligations” (Article 5.1) as we eagerly anticipate the Holy and Great Council.

The Assembly concluded with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on Friday, May 28, 2010 at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral in New York City. During the Liturgy prayers were offered for the repose of the eleven victims of the current ecological disaster in the Gulf Coast, for the consolation of their families, for all those adversely affected by this catastrophe, as well as for all people living under conditions of war, persecution, violence, and oppression.

Of the sixty-six Hierarchs in the region, the following 55 were present at this Assembly:

Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman
Metropolitan Philip, Vice Chairman
Archbishop Justinian, Vice Chairman
Bishop Basil, Secretary
Archbishop Antony,Treasurer

Metropolitan Iakovos Metropolitan Constantine Metropolitan Athenagoras Metropolitan Methodios
Metropolitan Isaiah Metropolitan Nicholas Metropolitan Alexios Metropolitan Nikitas
Metropolitan Nicholas Metropolitan Gerasimos Metropolitan Paisios Archbishop Yurij
Bishop Christopher Bishop Vikentios Bishop Savas Bishop Andonios
Bishop Ilia Bishop Ilarion Bishop Andriy Bishop Demetrios
Bishop Daniel Bishop Antoun Bishop Joseph Bishop Mark
Bishop Alexander Metropolitan Hilarion Bishop Iov Bishop Gabriel
Bishop Peter Bishop Theodosius Bishop George Bishop Ieronim
Metropolitan Christopher Bishop Maxim Bishop Maxim Archbishop Nicolae
Bishop Ioan Casian Metropolitan Joseph Metropolitan Jonah Archbishop Nathaniel
Archbishop Seraphim Bishop Nikon Bishop Tikhon Bishop Tikhon
Bishop Benjamin Bishop Melchisedek Bishop Alejo Bishop Irineu
Bishop Irinee Bishop Michael

6 Comments to “Message of Episcopal Assembly”

  1. Administrator Says:

    Archbishop Demetrios has found a way to keep the Ecumenical Patriarch, and all the Old World Patriarchs at bay while allowing the North American Bishops to begin organizing themselves into a North American unit; including the OCA. Quite an achievement!

  2. Administrator Says:

    Arhiepiscopul Demetrios a gasit formula sa impace si Patriarhul Ecumenic, si toti Patriarhii straini din Lumea Veche, si in acelasi timp lasand Episcopii Nord-Americani sa se organizeze intr-o unitate Nord-Americana; care include si OCA-ul. Chiar ca este o realizare!

  3. Fr. Johannes Jacobse Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ regarding “Message of Episcopal Assembly”

    [To the question: why isn’t the OCA now accepted as autocephalous Fr. Jacobse responds:] … “To recognize the autocephaly of the OCA is also to recognize the Metropolitan of the OCA as Patriarch of America. That would necessitate at the least a cutting of ties with the Mother Churches, something just not feasible at this time.”

  4. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ regarding “Message of Episcopal Assembly”

    … Right now, the United States has 52+ canonical bishops (not titular ones), bishops of ordinary –if redundant–dioceses. With just these bishops alone, the US boasts the third largest episcopal college in the Orthodox world, right after Russia and Greece. This is a lot of clout in the international sphere. Eventually, this realization is going to sink in and simple, old-fashioned American cussedness will cause the American bishops to act in a more unified manner. Based on this alone, it’s possible that the American bishops will not wait until the fabulous Great and Holy Synod to convene to “normalize” the American situation. They may just do it on their own. In such a scenario, I could easily see autocephaly being taken.

    Of course, I can just as easily envision the Phanar being spooked by this image of unity and doing something hamfisted to disrupt it. The more I think about it, the more I’ve come to believe that the phyletistic/hegemonist narrative has been exploded. To be fair, we can’t expect the Phanar to be the only focus of discontent and disruption, I fear that there may be rumblings in some other jurisdictions as well. If disruption comes, it can come from anywhere. However, if the bishops keep their nerve, it could blow away. I don’t think any disruptions on the horizon are long-lived, especially if they’re based on ethnocentric concerns. We’ll see.

  5. Fr. Johannes Jacobse Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ regarding “Message of Episcopal Assembly”

    … As I see it, Orthodox unity will come about out of necessity, and although the bishops see the need (Ligonier in 1994 was the first concrete manifestation of that need on a hierarchical level), the barriers to it will just take time to overcome. I think that is happening, so now the questions shifts (admittedly speculative) to how that unity might take shape. It could be autocephaly — the autocephaly of the OCA makes that a real possibility (it would not require centuries of wrangling to finally achieve it); or all the bishops agreeing to some kind of autonomy/self-rule under the protectorship of an Old World Patriarch — which is what Constantinople is wrangling for with the American Church.

    So yes, the Episcopal Assemblies might be a step (in my view they are a second step, Ligonier was first) in the process of an emerging self-identity as an American Church; a necessary development for ecclesiastical independence. Others disagree of course and would prefer an autonomy under a foreign Patriarch (again, Constantinople seems very interested in the position). This will shake out in the next few years.

  6. Michael Bauman Says:

    as posted on ‘Comments’ regarding “Message of Episcopal Assembly”

    [Regarding Bishops and the Episcopal Assembly] … Personally, I think being a bishop these days is a form of persecution in and of itself. These men are but into an isolated hothouse of temptations to abuse of power, to the of love money and comfort, etc. In human terms they are without a chance at success. Without a functioning local synod they are without accountability, community and brotherhood. They are in the place of Peter when Jesus called him out of the boat and onto the stormy waves. Frankly, I am amazed that more of them don’t sink like a stone. I know I would.

    We can be petulent children when we perceive injustice and malfeasance, or we can respond in prayer and love. They of all people ought to long for a local synod and a chance to pastor their parishes without looking over their shoulders. The more often they meet as brother bishops, the more likely that the Holy Spirit will fan the flames of that longing despite any concrete evidence of any changes.

    Being human, many will resist any concrete change, but if this work is of God, it will endure and bear fruit. If it is not, it will die unfruitful. May God grant us the mercy of his presence in the gatherings, deliberations and subsequent activities no matter how inconsequential they may seem.

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