[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] On the Issue of an Autocephalous Orthodox Church - Orthodox Christian Laity

On the Issue of an Autocephalous Orthodox Church


Peter S. Makrias

Source: Estiator Magazine

The speech given by businessman Efstathios Valiotis at the commencement ceremony of Hellenic College / Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate, caused a great deal of commotion and elicited interesting comments within the ecclesiastical circles and the Greek-American Community. He is the first well-known Greek-American with close ties to our community and the Church, and with seven years of theological studies, who is strongly in favor of an Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. This view has long been supported by this magazine and by the 1998 resolution of the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL).

Both his words and the statements that followed are characteristic of the serious crisis within the Church and the entire system of anachronistic “eparchial” dependency on the Patriarchate.

The conditions for complete Autocephaly and for eluding the control and unacceptable interventions that prevent the progress of our declining Church have matured. On other pages, we have published an excerpt from Mr. Valiotis’ speech, which stressed, among other things:

“We cannot be governed by a small group of people from Turkey without any flock and purpose, with no mission and with a different agenda…”.

It is striking that none of the attending hierarchs responded. Criticisms were heard two days later from the Order of St. Andrew Archons, who, for the first time in their history, turned against the Archbishop and the three Metropolitans who were present. In their statement, they expressed “concern and disappointment.” A statement by the Archdiocese came five days later stating that the opinions expressed by speakers at the ceremony are “simply their opinions,” with the assurance that it “loves, respects and honors” Patriarch Bartholomew and the Patriarchate to which the Church “belongs organically and inseparably” as the “canonical eparchy” of the Ecumenical throne.

We believe in maintaining spiritual ties with the Patriarchate and that it is useful for the debate to continue, but at a civilized level, without the extremes that characterized the criticisms about the decisions made by the 1972 Clergy Laity Congress on Autonomy and the introduction of the English language into the Divine Liturgy.

After 46 years, all of us who fought those decisions through the pages of The National Herald and criticized Iakovos must acknowledge our mistake.

P. Makrias

(Translation from the June issue of Estiator magazine)



  1. George D. Karcazes on

    Mr. Makris,

    The language of the Liturgy must be the language of the people living in the territory the Church is located in. In Kenya that would be Swahili.. in Russia, Russian,.. in Serbia, Serbian.. in Greece, Greek .. and in the US, English.

    The Orthodox Church in the US must be “Missionary” and “Evangelical”… reaching out to bring back those who have left, as well as the “Nones” who are searching for the Church established on the day of Pentecost.

    It cannot grow as a vibrant, indigenous American Orthodox Church with deep roots in the religious tapestry of this multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, religious, freedom-loving Country, if it remains fragmented into 14 “ethnic jurisdictions,” each attempting to use the Church to preserve the “cultures and languages” of Greece, Syria, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine. Albania and Carpatho-Russia.

    The canons require that there be only one bishop in each city. In the territory of the US, there can only be one Orthodox Church…not 14 ethnic-based colonies of foreign Synods. One Synod, electing its own presiding Bishop — an Autocephalous “sister” Church, taking its place alongside all of the other Autocephalous Orthodox “mother” Churches in the world. A strong, united and growing Orthodox Church in the US can provide more support to its suffering sister Churches in territories that are restricting their religious freedom, than 14 overlapping, resource-wasting “jurisdictions” engaged in rear-guard activities of “diasporists” seeking to live apart from the country they are a part of.

    At the Chicago Clergy-Laity Congress many years ago, the head of the OCA called upon the Ecumenical Patriarch to “come to America and unites us!” He received a standing ovation. Turkey voted yesterday to move further away from the US and Europe…and announced an arms purchase deal with Russia, apparently loosening its NATO ties. Further restrictions on the Ecumenical Patriarchate can be expected, and expulsion is no longer unthinkable. If the Patriarchate of Antioch can be in Syria, why can’t the Patriarchate of Constantinople be in the US?

    The Archons should be having that conversation.

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