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Post 2010 Congress

Author: Administrator
September 25, 2011
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As we approach the 79th Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America (ROEA) to be held in Chicago, it might be useful to review what happened at the 2010 Cleveland Congress.Soon after that Congress the ROEA put out a Press Release on Oct. 4, 2010 (a copy is on this website) and OCANews.org put out a commentary regarding the Congress on Oct. 8, 2010 (a copy is on this website). Then on Oct. 18, 2010 the ROEA put out a Statement of Clarification (a copy is on this website) denouncing that which was on the Internet regarding the Congress. Since then, little has been written about the 2010 Congress.

2010 CONGRESS AND THE OFFICIAL ROEA OCT.4 PRESS RELEASE

The 2010 Official ROEA Press Release mentions that the 2008 Congress recognized the “Proposal to Establish a Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate in North America” as an acceptable basis to continue talks toward a possible union of the two Romanian eparchies, and explained that the Proposal was a product of the Joint Dialogue Commissions (ROEA-OCA & ROAA-BOR).  This “News” has been repeated over the last few ROEA Congresses and for the last couple always linked to the satisfactory completion of the ROEA’s required “Due Diligence” process.  The Cleveland resolution passed was: “That the Congress hereby supports the efforts of the due diligence committee in requesting information from the ROAA and urges the ROAA to provide such information in a timely manner, but not to exceed 90 days from the date of the request and this resolution will be included in the due diligence requests. If any further information is requested of the ROEA, please make such request and it will be provided in a timely manner by our due diligence committee.” Contrast this with the words of the Official Press Release: “hearing that the committees were not yet able to give a positive report, and wishing to encourage progress, Congress respectfully urged that the necessary information be gathered by the end of the year, so that the committee’s findings, essential to the process, would be completed in as timely a manner as possible.” These words disregard the reports made at the Congress by the Due Diligence committees which claimed that the ROAA was not cooperating with them.  So, the difference between the two is the non-compliance of the ROAA with the ROEA requests for information, and that was the focus of much of the discussion on this topic. Why isn’t this mentioned in the Official ROEA Press Release?

As well, there is an attempt by some to coerce us into believing that leaving the OCA, our Mother Church for 40 years, to rejoin a Church, the Romanian Patriarchate (BOR), that abandoned us at the end of WWII and then created the ROAA as a means of sabotaging our activities here, is somehow acceptable now.  Perhaps when we started on this Continent, over 100 years ago, and given the disarray in Orthodoxy here, it might have been acceptable to have ties with the Romanian Church we left behind, but time has moved on.  Today we belong to the only local Autocephalous and multi-ethnic Orthodox Church in North America, the OCA.  It is the second largest regrouping of Orthodox in N.A. Abandoning it to go back in time by joining BOR makes little sense to some ROEA members.  This would also be non-canonical for others, in that we would be abandoning the “local” Church, the OCA, and subjecting ourselves to “foreign” coverage, the BOR.  This is referred to as ethnophyletism or phyletism and officially rejected by Orthodoxy. Universal Orthodoxy is structured on a simple geographic territory principle, where there is one Bishop per city and where “local” Bishops are gathered together in a broader territory Synod, where clergy and laity together conduct the Church.  When the Church is not organized “locally”, in the geographic territory, but structured solely on ethnic identity, regardless of national borders, then we have phyletism.  Why would some of our ROEA-OCA leaders ask us to abandon a sound situation in the OCA and have us return to the past under BOR, a Church that has nothing to offer our children in the N.A. context?

The “updated” Proposal also continues to promote the point of view that our ROEA should abandon the OCA and subject itself to BOR canonical coverage because it would have a unique status of “maximal autonomy” and it would be “in communion with the Church of Romania but not subject to its administrative jurisdiction.” This is just not on.  It must be remembered that Orthodoxy has Autocephalous Churches which are self-headed canonical and administrative bodies that view each other as equals.  Each autocephalous church has sub-set organisational structures that are given more or less autonomy at the whim of the Autocephalous church granting that autonomy.  In Orthodoxy there is no way to oblige the Autocephalous Church which “grants” even “maximal autonomy” to a Metropolia, Archdiocese or Episcopate, to maintain a hands-off relationship with that body and for this very reason, no such term exists in Orthodox Church structures. Simply put, if we were granted “maximal autonomy” today by the Romanian Patriarchate, it could be taken back tomorrow, and there is no court of appeal - civic or religious that would entertain our possible complaint - certainly not in Washington or Constantinople.

Also, the Press Release claims that (with the exception of changing one word) the Episcopate Council recommended the 2010 Proposal and its Annotations to Congress as being the final text, “acceptable as a preliminary step and good theological basis for establishment of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate in North America”. The use of italics here gives the impression that the above is a quote from Episcopate Council.  The following is the text Episcopate Council recommended to the 2010 Congress: “We find the Joint Dialogue Commission’s merger proposal and its Annotations of 2010 with the recommended change in Point XI to read ‘The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church shall issue the gramata…’ acceptable as a preliminary step and a good theological basis for establishment of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate in North America.” Some present do not recollect that this Proposal was passed as “the final text”.  In fact, how can anything “preliminary” be considered “final” and how can anything be finalized before complete responses to ROEA Due Diligence questions are received?   Since motions to amend the wording could not be ruled out of order in Congress, how could this or any text be considered “final” before being submitted to ROEA members in the parishes and at a Special Congress? What about the necessary OCA endorsed canonical release from the OCA for the ROEA, without which this merger/unity could not proceed?

The last paragraph of the Press Release is very unclear.  The authors quote Archbishop Nathaniel, who, at the Congress, reminded all to “act with love and without fear” repeating that “the Lord will strengthen us his people and bless us with peace.”  The Congress members then again agreed that the process may continue with the ROAA/BOR while Due Diligence is satisfactorily completed.  This is nothing new - roughly the same thing has been approved at the last couple of Congresses - and that statement should not have been linked to the Archbishop’s words, insinuating somehow that he spoke in support of the Proposal, and that delegates voted for the Proposal.  It should be clear that among those who voted for the process to continue, there are those who are very much interested in seeing full and satisfactory responses to the ROEA’s Due Diligence questions, and this before making up their minds on whether or not they are in favour of the Proposal. This is not at all clear in the Press Release.  In effect, the last sentence therein claims that: the text of the historic Proposal was accepted, and the due diligence studies remain to be completed before a unity can come about.” This insinuates that the content of the Proposal was voted on and accepted, when only the permission to continue the process was granted while awaiting to obtain complete and satisfactory Due Diligence responses.  Again, logic must prevail.  It should be obvious that any Due Diligence responses we receive from the other side may very well be missing, incomplete or show different intentions than our own and thus, ROEA members’ interpretation of the words in the Proposal might vary depending on the Due Diligence answers.  Clearly, people have the right to reserve judgement regarding the Proposal until all those responses are made public.  The wording in the Press Release leaves it be understood that since the Proposal was “accepted”, we only await Due Diligence to be “completed” before merger/unity “can come about”.  This isn’t correct.  And again, what about OCA approval without whose canonical release none of this could happen?  What about approval in the parishes and even a Special Congress where 2/3 majority votes are required for the ROEA to change its Constitution which ties it to the OCA?  Why is none of this mentioned?

In fact, isn’t it correct to say that more and more delegates at the Cleveland Congress were, increasingly, wondering why the ROAA/BOR is not fully and satisfactorily responding to ROEA Due Diligence questions?  Delegates had entrusted the Due Diligence teams to ask all necessary and appropriate questions of the other side.  When they were told that the ROAA/BOR had not even sent any answers to the first set of “easy” questions, it became obvious that the delegates were far from happy with that type of response and therefore passed the above resolution highlighted in bold in the second paragraph of this article.  More generally, it seems that:

  • People want to know who pays and therefore who possibly has influence over ROAA Hierarchs.
  • People want to know how the ROAA can operate without funding from Bucharest, as it claims - given that our much stronger ROEA, with no external funding, barely generates a financial break-even position.
  • People want to know the links between the Romanian Government and the ROAA.
  • People want to know why no one from the ROAA has yet come forward to apologise for themselves and for their eparchy which was used by the Romanian Government for so many years and contributed to the attacks on the ROEA and Archbishop Valerian until they crushed him?
  • People want to know why we should go back in time to rejoin the corrupt Romanian Church many left so they could join ROEA and the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America.
  • People want to know why leaving the local OCA and going under foreign BOR isn’t in contradiction with attempting to make a unified, multi-ethnic non-phyletistic Orthodox Church in NA-the official goal.
  • People want to know why they should abandon the local church, run by people from here using N.A. administrative methods, only to subject themselves to a foreign church, run by people from there using East-European, post-communist, administrative methods, completely alien to what we and our children know, understand and appreciate.

All manner of questions exist on this merger/unity issue, and satisfactory ROAA/BOR responses to ROEA Due Diligence questions are yet to be given.  How can ROEA members be asked to decide on their future, yet again, without complete answers to these questions?  Remember, most parishes/missions and individual members from the 1950’s to 1990, and from then to the present day, have already chosen between the ROEA/OCA and the ROAA/BOR.  The vast majority have voted for the ROEA/OCA with their feet.  Why are we asking them to choose again?  They never asked for it, and if a few did, the process should have been stopped until the required ROEA Constitutional/ By-Laws levels of support for such a disruptive action were attained.  Why are we obliged to waste our time on an unfounded proposal that never should have seen the light of day?

2010 CONGRESS AND THE OCANEWS.ORG OCT. 8 COMMENTARY

On Oct. 8, 2010 an article appeared on OCANews.org entitled “Status Quo” for Romanians.  In this article the author, Mark Stokoe, editor of OCANews.org, states that “the 2008 Unity Proposal was refined, a new 2010 Proposal accepted, with the caveat that the due diligence studies be completed before any union is considered” and hence the news caption “Status Quo for Romanians”.

The author goes on to say that there was an attempt by our Joint Dialogue Commission (JDC) to present an unauthorized version of the 2008 Proposal to Episcopate Council which would have overridden the agreed upon process based on completing the due diligence prior to any further moves.  It should be noted that Episcopate Council approves the wording of its recommendations to Congress and the latter generally ratifies the recommendations.  In this context, “approved” versions are only those accepted by Episcopate Council and subsequently sanctioned by Congress.  Of course, over the years, our JDC, as part of their negotiating with the other side, have developed “unauthorized” versions that become “authorized” when approved, as described above.  However, these “unauthorized” versions all push for unity under Bucharest.  While Episcopate Council has consistently allowed the process to continue, it has only done so in the context of due diligence being satisfactorily completed, and thus, it has used language of limitation regarding this topic.  Conversely, our JDC has consistently tried to pass resolution language on this unity topic in Episcopate Council which sounds more like: “we endorse the 20 point Proposal …” It is because of such attempts and similar actions, that some members of our JDC have developed a reputation among some ROEA members of being pro-unity under Bucharest cheerleaders.  A more balanced JDC view might have been better, but there you go…

Even though Episcopate Council continues to recommend proceeding with the process, it does so only in the context of having due diligence satisfactorily completed, thus the author claims that there is dissension amongst the Episcopate Council members regarding this topic.  This should surprise no one, since no mandate to go either way has been given by them.  This may change when due diligence is properly and satisfactorily completed.

2010 CONGRESS AND THE ROEA OCT. 18 STATEMENT OF CLARIFICATION

It seems that some in the ROEA felt that Internet comments regarding the ROEA 2010 Congress were “erroneous postings [that] disinform and foster disunity in the Church and our Episcopate”.  The only major item on the Internet regarding the ROEA Congress at that time was the OCANews.org commentary.  And so we assume the criticism is directed at that website which reported on our 2010 Congress and the ROEA’s Press Release on Oct.8.

As mentioned in the ROEA’s Oct. 18, 2010 Statement of Clarification: “Stating that unity would be desirable, our dialogue with the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas (ROAA) was established in 1993…” In and of itself this statement is innocuous, however it omits to mention that ROEA-ROAA unity has always meant unity under BOR for the ROAA and never under the OCA.  Some in the ROEA are equally fond of ROEA-ROAA unity, but only under the OCA, the only local Orthodox Church in North America.  And so it begins - misinformation, errors of omission, some of commission, partisan statements and utter “shock” when things don’t go quite as planned.

The problems that would occur if we were to abandon the local OCA and go under the foreign BOR are becoming more evident.  As long as the OCA remains and conducts itself as the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America, there is no need to look towards the past to solve today and tomorrow’s most pressing problem: i.e. a church for our children and their faith tomorrow.  Much like BOR might well suit migrant workers and even very recent immigrants by responding to their immediate cultural, language and religious needs, the OCA best suits immigrants’ children who quickly integrate into N.A. ways as well as most of the 2nd to 6th generations born in N.A.  This is because their culture here is North American, their language is English or French and if parents don’t present their children with a church they can identify and connect with, they will surely lose their Orthodoxy, as our history here has proven in the past. A foreign church, run in a foreign language, and run in a foreign administrative style, by foreigners, does not make Orthodoxy appealing to these children - and less so as more generations are born here.  Thus, as integration occurs, BOR increasingly becomes yesterday’s reality and the OCA our present and future. Also, the OCA is the only local Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America, all other Orthodox Churches here being foreign.  It is self-headed, led by mostly U.S. and Canadian-born Hierarchs, and run administratively in a manner acceptable and well-known to North Americans.

GOING INTO THE 2011 ROEA CHICAGO CONGRESS

The ROEA’s due diligence requirements had not been properly responded to by the ROAA/BOR in time for the 2010 ROEA Congress.  And probably, for that very reason our 2010 Congress voted overwhelmingly in favour of this resolution: “That the Congress hereby supports the efforts of the due diligence committee in requesting information from the ROAA and urges the ROAA to provide such information in a timely manner, but not to exceed 90 days from the date of the request and this resolution will be included in the due diligence requests. If any further information is requested of the ROEA, please make such request and it will be provided in a timely manner by our due diligence committee.” Thus, some have concluded that the Status Quo was the result of the Cleveland 2010 Congress.

Unless ROEA’s Due Diligence questions are properly and satisfactorily answered by ROAA/BOR, in addition to the more general, “People want to know” ones highlighted above, the Status Quo may also be the only rational course of action following the 2011 Congress and beyond.  This is because requiring full and complete answers to these questions is a normal request and a necessary obligation for the ROEA membership who suffered in the past at the hands of ROAA/BOR.  Can those who have yet to admit to any past wrongdoing be so easily forgiven and then become in charge of our and our children’s religious future here as they report to foreign heads?

Isn’t it time that we put a stop to this senseless debate, now, in Chicago on the 60th anniversary of when our forefathers in the Episcopate took the brave decision of breaking all links to BOR and Bucharest?  We should not forget that complete administrative autonomy from BOR was declared in 1948, and in the 1951 Cleveland Congress, complete administrative and canonical autonomy was declared.  Since then, our ROEA has evolved here, differently than ROAA/BOR from there, and for the last 40 years is part of the OCA, the only local Orthodox Church in NA.  In any event, we must get back to other important issues like our children’s Orthodox future in the NA context, our own spiritual salvation, and spreading the Word throughout this continent in a cohesive manner, making Orthodoxy palatable to all in N.A. … and all this before it is too late.

5 Comments to “Post 2010 Congress”


  1. Viorel Says:

    Ce este important in aceasta discutie despre unirea sub BOR sunt consecintele pentru copii nostri. Ei se integreaza asa de repede in societatea de aici ca sa prea poata sa isi piarda religia ortodoxa daca aceasta nu este prezentata lor ca ceva bun si pentru Americani ca ei. Este clar ca OCA este calea cea mai potrivita pentru ei si nu trecutul care il reprezinta BOR.


  2. Matt Says:

    As more and more people begin to see that the real debate here is about the religious future of our children, their view on this merger with Bucharest begins to change. Time is really working against BOR.


  3. p. henry Says:

    A good point that some members of the JDC are giving the impression that they support the unity. Recently, one of them was invited to be the guest speaker at the [- - - -] anniversary of an ROAA parish in [- - - -]. The JDC member spoke on the benefits of unity and looks forward to that day we are united under BOR. One wonders who authorized that speech and did that person speak for the Episcopate? Grave concerns that this is taking place.


  4. Optimist Says:

    “We must get back to other important issues – before it is too late”. Isn’t that the goal of some, that we don’t?


  5. Anon Says:

    It is refreshing to see that the Administrator has captured the essence of this debate and plainly shows the attempts of some, even in the ROEA, to lead us to Romanian control. Let those who want to go – GO. The ROAA awaits.


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