The four main stars of the famous Southern Cross constellation are Acrux (Alpha Crucis), bottom; Becrux (Beta Crucis), left; Gacrux (Gamma Crucis), top; and Delta Crucis, right. (Image credit: European Southern Observatory)
This year, in the month of October in the United States of America, in parallel with the changing of seasons in the natural world comes the convergence of Orthodox Christian hierarchs to form a constellation in the ecclesiastical world. At the beginning of the month, bishops are meeting in the nation’s capital at the 10th meeting of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA, the body formed for the purpose of manifesting “…the unity of the Orthodox Church…” and to prepare “…a plan to organize the Orthodox of the Region on a canonical basis” (Articles 2 and 5 of “The Orthodox Diaspora” document from the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church held on Pentecost 2016). Later in the month, His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the hierarch who called for the Holy and Great Council in 2016 in his function as first among equals in the Orthodox Christian world, will visit the United States.
Do these events in the Church at this unique time in the history of the world on so many levels, signal the emergence of a new season for the Orthodox Church on the North American continent?
The brightest and most significant constellation in Church history is that of the Holy Cross. Jesus Christ offered Himself on the altar of the Cross which is positioned at the center of the horizontal and vertical axis of existence. In his person, Christ unites humanity with divinity, and through his pure sacrifice for the life and salvation of the world, he lifts humanity in his resurrection to the right hand of God the Father.
Will this October’s convergence of hierarchs manifest the image and power of the all-holy Cross for the growth, life and salvation of the faithful in North America? Let us pray for our fathers in Christ, that the Lord may grant that they may manifest the unity through humility to which all who bear the name Christian are called.
OCL Executive Director
Thank you for putting the need for Orthodox Christian Unity in its Christ-centered perspective and giving us the sense of urgency, the sense of opportunity that is before us. Your editorial helps us realize that the leadership of the church needs to join in unity with the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Their leadership of agape is needed to end the fragmentation and cannibalism that are the results of this uncanonical fragmented association of groupings of Orthodox Christian churches in pluralistic societies. Movement, a concrete sign of unity before the year’s end, and with the development of a new charter in the GOA is imperative. The Antiochian and OCA Jurisdictions should be more actively involved with the GOA to make unity a reality. The dedication of the Orthodox Christian National Shrine would be an appropriate place to announce concrete steps.
Please let us all prayerfully work hard together for the unity between the Byzantine and Oriental Orthodox churches. It would be so great if the Oriental Orthodox bishops in North America could also be invited to this meeting as a preliminary step, by the grace of God.
The premise of the document mentioned is wrong. There is NO DIASPORA of Orthodox Christians. Using this term designates that Orthodox Christians in countries like the U.S. belong elsewhere. This is not true. American Greeks, Russians, Romanians, Bulgarians, etc. are Americans and don’t belong elsewhere. Using this terminology keeps American Orthodox divided and affiliated under the thumb of foreign bishops. There is no reason for ANY foreign bishop to rule over American Orthodox – according to Orthodox Canon Law. Why are Americans continuing to allow foreign bishops to dictate and rule over them – why?
Forgive me, you say that no “foreign bishop” should rule over American Orthodox “according to Orthodox Canon Law.” May I ask, where in Canon Law is this written? Which Canon of which Council?
Georges: Go back to the Holy Apostles. They were missionaries who brought “The Good News” to different communities. They then set up and ordained at least one presbyter/bishop to run these local churches. Read the Acts & St. Paul’s Epistles. St. Paul wrote to these churches addressing issues they may have had. Read Corinthians. All of these churches were independent. Missionary activity was always part of the Church, but missions outside a bishop’s territory never became subject to him. It always followed the Apostolic Model. Even in Europe and America. The mission of the ROC became the OCA and autocephalous. Canon 2 of the Second Ecumenical Council:
2. Bishops must not leave their own diocese and go over to churches beyond its boundaries; but, on the contrary, in accordance with the Canons, let the Bishop of Alexandria administer the affairs of Egypt only, let the Bishops of the East govern the Eastern Church only, the priorities granted to the church of the Antiochians in the Nicene Canons being kept inviolate, and let the Bishops of the Asian diocese (or administrative domain) administer only the affairs of the Asian church, and let those of the Pontic diocese look after the affairs of the diocese of Pontus only, and let those of the Thracian diocese manage the affairs of the Thracian diocese only. Let Bishops not go beyond their own province to carry out an ordination or any other ecclesiastical services unless (officially) summoned thither.
This particular theme is woven throughout the ecclesiastical canons of the Church. Bishops do not have authority beyond their own territory. This includes ALL Patriarchs!
A bishop is consecrated for a “particular” diocese. A priest is ordained for a “particular” parish. A bishop has no authority outside his own particular diocese nor a priest outside his own parish. This is Church Order within the Orthodox Church. For a patriarch to have a diocese outside his own particular territory is non-canonical. He does not have this authority and his claims of this should be rejected!