THE TIME FOR ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN ADMINISTRATIVE UNITY IN AMERICA IS NOW! 

OPEN LETTER TO THE SYNOD OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA ON THE WAR IN UKRAINE

23

Source: Public Orthodoxy

by Archpriest Denis J. M. Bradley

Rocket damage in Kharkiv, Ukraine. iStock.com/OLeksandr_Kr

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
Members of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America

Dear Archpastors:

We[1] write as painfully concerned, truth–seeking, and truth–committed Orthodox Christians: we are chagrined clergy and lay members of the Orthodox Church in America, who as American citizens value religious and political freedom. Conscience compels us to speak. The unprovoked Russian military invasion and indiscriminate bombardment and levelling of Ukrainian cities have resulted in the violent deaths and maiming of thousands and the dreadful displacement of millions of innocent Ukrainian citizens, among them vulnerable non-combatants: women, children, hospital patients, and the aged. We are perturbed that the episcopal leadership of the Orthodox Church in America has not only refused to identify in a public and straightforward manner but, instead, has chosen to cloak and shield through its silence and platitudes about the evils of war, the two primary and immediate agents responsible for commanding and defending the unjust Russian attack on Ukraine: Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, who directly ordered the invasion and continuing attacks, and Kirill (Gundyaev), the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’, who willingly serves as the chief religious ideologist and propagandist for President Putin.

There are beleaguered and oppressed Russian dissenters who, at great personal cost, repudiate President Putin and Patriarch Kirill’s war against Ukraine. Their heroism speaks for itself but it also should speak to our Holy Synod. There should be no need to demonstrate to our OCA bishops what persons throughout the world—of many different political persuasions but with rightly informed consciences—know: that Russian President Putin bears primary responsibility for the morally unjustifiable Russian invasion and continuing barbaric attacks on Ukraine, and that Moscow Patriarch Kirill willingly defends the viciously aggressive and repressive Putin regime. Now if there really is a need to demonstrate such evident facts, may God help the OCA! For, apparently, no merely human political or theological analysis of these facts will ever suffice to motivate the Holy Synod to speak out in defense of truth and justice! Nonetheless, there is such a theologically precise and convincing demonstration available, which was issued by an international group of Orthodox theologians, churchmen, and intellectuals: “A Declaration on the ‘Russian World’ (Russkii Mir).” The Declaration is a cogent theological refutation and strong condemnation of (what it labels) President Putin and Patriarch Kirill’s “heretical” religious–political ideology.

In the face of such a scathing, international, and intellectually weighty Orthodox theological critique, what morally and spiritually overriding reason is there for the OCA Holy Synod to remain silent—except perhaps a quite this-worldly but, alas, politically realistic fear of an ecclesiastical reprisal from the Russian Orthodox Church? Of course, ecclesiastical Realpolitik can always find convenient reasons for the institutional Church’s deliberate silences, dissimulations, and obfuscations. We are well aware of the arguably complex history and ideological background to the current civil–ecclesiastical conflict in Ukraine. The Russians, indeed, have their geopolitical and cultural “reasons” for invading Ukraine; they are not, however, morally or spiritually sound reasons.

Consequently, we reject, emphatically in this morally compelling instance, where the very existence of the Ukrainian people and culture are at stake, the conventional OCA playbook for ecclesiastical Realpolitik: it is no longer possible or morally plausible for the OCA to search for and try to occupy “a strategic middle ground between the Greeks and Russians.” That outdated, and spiritually vacuous prime directive should not be allowed to dictate and impose a morally fallacious and spiritually bankrupt silence on our bishops regarding the ongoing Ukrainian civil and religious catastrophe. In speaking forthrightly and truthfully about the reality and dire religious and civil consequences of the Ukrainian catastrophe, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has set the right example for other Orthodox bishops.

For what value is the much contested “Russian autocephaly” of the OCA, if we squander our moral and spiritual integrity as Orthodox Christians and our freedom as Americans? If we lose our actual pastoral and administrative independence, or, more subtly, our own internal freedom and fortitude to make true public judgments about the Church and the World, then the OCA will have become, what some critics charge that it already appears to be, “merely the Russian Orthodox Church in English translation.”  If this dolorous appearance really is the OCA, then we are no longer an ally of a “persecuted Church” but an enabler of a “persecuting Church.”

The deliberate silence and obfuscations of the Holy Synod and the actions as well as pronouncements of certain prominent ecclesiastics in the OCA, who astonishingly fantasize that President Putin and Patriarch Kirill can “rectify the decadent West,” make us fear that the critics of the OCA could certainly be correct. The simple truth is that how we appear to others projects how we actually are for ourselves. How does the apparently fixed decision of the Holy Synod not to name the two public agents most responsible for commanding and defending the Russian invasion of Ukraine make the OCA appear to the Ukrainian and other Orthodox Churches as well as to our own congregations? Certainly many in our own congregations, in other Orthodox Churches, and in the larger Christian and Orthodox worlds will judge the Holy Synod’s decision to maintain silence to be morally pusillanimous and self-serving; undoubtedly it will bring some considerable but, tragically, deserved measure of moral shame and opprobrium on the OCA.

Although the final outcome of the Russian invasion of Ukraine remains to be determined, events are moving rapidly. We are forced to wonder how might the members of the Holy Synod, when brought before the inevitable Courts of History and Public Opinion, morally justify their decision to remain silent. It is even possible that someday they could be called to testify before a more severe court, one whose formation anyway has already been advocated: a Nuremberg–like trial held by an “International Tribunal for Exposing the War Crimes of the Moscow Patriarchate against Ukraine.” However improbable it might be for such an International Tribunal to be held, we can inquire, nonetheless, to what morally credible self-exculpation would the members of our Holy Synod—if ever required to testify before that kind of tribunal—appeal?

For these many reasons, we respectfully ask that His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and the other bishops of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America reconsider their decision and issue a public statement to the effect that:

“The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America unequivocally condemns the unjust and violent Russian military invasion of the internationally recognized, sovereign state of Ukraine and the morally unjustifiable bombardment of innocent Ukrainian civilians and the continued devastation of Ukrainian cities, ordered by the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Furthermore, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America deplores and rejects as immoral and heterodox any utilization of, especially by the Patriarch and Episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church, a pseudo–Christian, religious ideology to justify a morally intolerable invasion and spiritually fratricidal attack on Ukraine. Finally, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America directs the Administration of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary to return any and all monies or financial grants or endowments or emoluments (institutional or personal) already received or promised, publicly or otherwise, from the Russian Orthodox Church, or the Russian Government, or Russian civil or ecclesiastical foundations, or Russian financial agents.”

SIGNED

Archpriest Denis J. M. Bradley, PhD
Professor Emeritus
Department of Philosophy
Georgetown University
Washington, DC

+ Octo Ignoti


[1] Under the dire present circumstances, I have decided to submit this communication as a public rather than a private letter. In writing it, I consulted extensively with five senior OCA priests, and three lay people. Each of the latter has had extensive legal or government experience. The eight people with whom I consulted have carefully examined this letter; they concur with the letter as it now stands, and have approved and urged its publication. Although I am the primary and only publicly identified author of this letter, I continue to use the plural “we” in order to acknowledge the eight persons who have significantly contributed to its production. Prudence dictates that the responsibility for it falls solely on my head.


Public Orthodoxy seeks to promote conversation by providing a forum for diverse perspectives on contemporary issues related to Orthodox Christianity. The positions expressed in this essay are solely the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors or the Orthodox Christian Studies Center.

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23 Comments

  1. Joseph Lipper on

    The OCA’s autocephaly is propped up by the Moscow Patriarchate. That’s its inherent weakness. If communion with Moscow is severed, then the OCA basically becomes schismatic to the rest of world Orthodoxy. That was the actual problem the OCA preciously encountered as the “Metropolia” from 1967-1970, before autocephaly was granted from Russia. In the current circumstances, Constantinople won’t recognize an American autocephaly, because the Greek Archdiocese of America is propping up the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

  2. Joe, you don’t know what you are talking about. SCOBA, all the canonical Orthodox Bishops, wanted an autocephalous Orthodox Church in America to correct the non-canonical situation of all the Orthodox in America (Read the minutes of SCOBA at http://www.scoba.us/). +Iakovos and +Philip led this endeavor. They brought in Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, as an advisor to help SCOBA make this a reality. Fr. Alexander approached Constantinople to accomplish this. Constantinople told them, “Go to your own mother church and obtain autocephaly from them.” So, they did and did. The new Orthodox Church in America was formed. The Romanians joined, the Bulgarians joined, the Albanians joined and others. Both + Iakavos & + Philip reneged – probably threatened by their mother churches. So, you see Joe, the OCA was not a Russian endeavor, but an endeavor to solve the non-canonical situation of ALL the Orthodox in America. The Greeks & Antiochians remain in this non-canonical limbo by not controlling their own churches here and remaining under the thumb of foreign bishops. (Against Orthodox Canon Law – No bishop can have a diocese outside their own territory). Istanbul has tried to do everything it could to discredit the OCA with ridiculous attacks. WHY? Losing control over their American churches would diminish their cash flow from their cash cows.

    As far as Fr. Bradley is concerned…and the OCA attack coming from Fordham U. (controlled by the GOA), these attacks are also ridiculous. More propaganda from the Greeks against the OCA. Very unprofessional and immature.

    • People will NOT find the official minutes of SCOBA meetings at: http://www.scoba.us/ Understand how the Assembly of bishops came about. SCOBA was united in working together and working toward an autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. In the SCOBA minutes they even said that this new church should be called, “The Orthodox Church in America.” All the minutes were recorded by Fr. Paul Schneirla, the recording secretary of SCOBA. The minutes were distributed to the hierarchs and can be found in Fr. Schneirla’s private library and St. Vladimir’s Seminary Library. In 1997 when SCOBA tried to kick start unity again, Istanbul immediately retired +Iakovos and demoted all the American Greek bishops having them report directly to Istanbul. + Iakovos’ replacement refused to attend any SCOBA meetings, that were independent from foreign bishops. Instead, he insisted that a new organization be formed called the Assembly of Bishops as ordered by Istanbul. This new organization put foreign bishops in complete control of how the organization operated without any real independence.

  3. Joseph Lipper on

    Nikolai, Nikolai, Nikolai…

    Metropolitan Theodosius, in his essay, “The path to autocephaly and beyond: ‘Miles to go before we sleep'”, wrote about how during the years of 1967 up until autocephaly in 1970, the Metropolia was considered schismatic by Archbishop Iakovos. It was a strange circumstance. Originally Iakovos was very friendly, even inviting Metropolia bishops to join SCOBA in the early 1960’s. What happened is that it was Moscow that complained to Constantinople that Archbishop Iakovos was intruding on their Russian territory and communing with schismatics, referring to the Metropolia bishops. Constantinople had to tell Archbishop Iakovos that the Metropolia could no longer be part of SCOBA, and they would have to be treated as schismatic. It wasn’t until autocephaly was granted in 1970 that this changed.

    Isn’t it interesting that with the exception of Poland, Alexandria, and maybe now Jerusalem, all the other autocephalous Orthodox Churches have a presence in North America. Yes, Russia upholds the OCA’s autocephaly, but it’s not a problem for them to open the occasional Moscow Patriarchal parish in America if they want to, and the more ROCOR parishes in America the better. Bulgaria, Georgia, and Romania “recognize” the OCA, but they still have their own separate Patriarchal jurisdictions in America. I’m sure all of them would be more than happy to recognize the OCA as “schismatic” if they could get some OCA parishes out of the deal.

  4. Jeffrey Zdrale on

    The OCA should speak to the tragedy in Ukraine, just as all Americans have done. The OCA is the American expression of Orthodoxy, plain and simple. The OCA heirarchs should not mince words in condemning Putin for this catastrophe.

  5. Joe: Again, you have no idea of what you are talking about. The Metropolia was never considered schismatic, but ROCOR was and St. Tikhon issued a decree saying they were non-canonical. You have a twisted way of presenting objective history. Are you sure you aren’t Russian trying to re-write history? And SCOBA was not affiliated with http://www.scoba.us/ as the editor here inserted. In 1920 Patriarch Tikhon issued an ukase (decree) that dioceses of the Church of Russia that were cut off from the governance of the highest Church authority (i.e. the Patriarch) should continue independently until such time as normal relations with the highest Church authority could be resumed; and on this basis, the North American diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church (known as the “Metropolia”) continued to exist in a de facto autonomous mode of self-governance. – No schism here!

  6. Joseph Lipper on

    Nikolai, if you read Metropolitan Theodosius’ essay, he writes:

    “After my consecration [May 6, 1967, with two of the participating bishops of his consecration being under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate] the Russian Church wrote a violent protest to Constantinople for interfering in the internal life of the parishes belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate. Even though the Metropolia was not under the jurisdiction of the Church of Russia, the Russian Church claimed jurisdiction in North America. Our contacts with the Greek Archdiocese and the other SCOBA churches was one of the prime complaints from the Russian Church. And in June 1967—just one month after my consecration—the Patriarch of Constantinople ordered Archbishop Iakovos to suspend communion with the Metropolia.”

    https://www.oca.org/holy-synod/statements/metropolitan-theodosius/the-path-to-autocephaly-and-beyond-miles-to-go-before-we-sleep

    It is evident here that the Church of Russia not only considered the OCA to be schismatic in 1967, but through complaints made to Constantinople, they made sure that everyone else would treat the OCA as schismatic also.

  7. Joseph Lipper on

    Of course the OCA didn’t exist in 1967. Rather, it was its precursor, the Metropolia, that was considered schismatic by the Church of Russia in 1967. Yet through complaints made to Constantinople, the Russian Church made sure that everyone else treated the Metropolia as schismatic also.

    Today, if Russia declares the OCA schismatic, then probably the rest of Orthodoxy would accept the OCA as schismatic, just like they did with the Metropolia in 1967. The OCA’s Russian autocephaly doesn’t protect against this.

  8. Joe: Again, you are trying to re-write history. The ROC was controlled by Communistic elements. In 1934, of course the ROC wanted to have full control over the Metropolia, however, the Metroploia had its orders from St. Tikhon to operate as an independent church, and so it did – NOT SCHISMATIC. Are you a member of ROCOR? In any event, with autocephaly in 1970, the Metropolia “regularized” its canonical stance as did the Romanians, Albanians, Bulgarians and others. The Greeks, Serbs, Antiochians remained in their non-canonical status as dioceses of foreign bishops.

  9. Joseph Lipper on

    Nikolai, so was Constantinople controlled by the Russian Communists when Patriarch Athenagoras ordered Archbishop Iakavos to sever communion with the Metropolia in 1967?

    Of course not. The simple fact is the Metropolia was considered to be an orphaned part of the Russian Church by Constantinople. Yet when Moscow made claim that the Metropolia was schismatic in 1967, then Constantinople had to respect that.

    Even today, if Moscow were ever to label the OCA as schismatic, then Constantinople would as well. It doesn’t matter that the OCA functions without any oversight from Russia. It’s a provisional autocephaly administered solely by the Russian Church that restored relations with the Metropolia given the political circumstances of the time. If relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the OCA are ever severed, then that autocephaly would be worth about as much as a wooden nickel.

    Talk to any of the old-timers left in the OCA who remember. The Metropolia was treated as schismatic by SCOBA from 1967 to 1970. That’s what I am referring to.

    To answer your question, no I am not a member of ROCOR.

  10. Joe: I’ve already shown to you previously that the Metropolia was never “SCHISMATIC.” Whatever nonsense any Greek bishop wanted to believe, they were wrong. And as I’ve also shown you, the OCA was a vehicle for ALL THE ORTHODOX IN AMERICA to regularize their questionable non-canonical status’. AGAIN, foreign bishops cannot have a diocese outside their own territory. For the Greeks, Antiochians and others, what began for them as “taking care of their own” as a temporary situation, developed in dioceses of foreign bishops. SCOBA wanted to correct these irregularities. +Iakovos & +Philip agreed.

    Now, as you constantly bring up, the OCA is somehow an arm of Moscow is not true and a lie. The OCA “IS” the only autocephalous Orthodox Church in America and ALL Orthodox churches, according to canon law, are required to join it. Your arguments are just more of Istanbul trying to hold on to its American Greeks as their “CASH COW.” Oh, and de facto, the OCA is recognized by ALL the Orthodox Churches around the world as it is in Holy Communion with ALL of these churches.

    What you fail to understand is the Greeks, Antiochians, Serbs, etc. are in a non-canonical situation and don’t care. Istanbul IS NOT in control of world Orthodoxy. + Bart IS NOT “All Holy” as he proclaims…this title is heretical. He is NOT “The Ecumenical Patriarch” – that is, Patriarch of the whole world – Byzantium is dead! +Bart IS NOT the “Leader of World Orthodoxy.” He is the Bishop of Istanbul!

    • Joseph Lipper on

      Nikolai, I hope we never live to see it happen, but the Moscow Patriarchate is fully capable of pulling the rug out from under the OCA. I believe the OCA bishops are well aware of this. So their job is a bit of a delicate dance right now: they want to express their autocephaly by condemning the Russian invasion, and yet they still need to maintain communion with the Moscow Patriarchate.

      As far as the Greek Archdiocese not being canonical… I’m really not sure how you come to that conclusion. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has jurisdiction over the “barbarian lands”, and therefore it had canonical jurisdiction in America even before the Russians arrived. Yes, Alaska was formerly part of Russia, so the Russian mission has canonical jurisdiction also. As for everyone else, probably not. Regardless, there is no requirement of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, or anyone else for that matter, to recognize the OCA’s autocephaly. That supposed “requirement” is not even listed in the OCA’s tomos.

  11. Joe, again you don’t understand. An autocephalous church cannot have “the rug pulled out from it.” The OCA was established in 1970, 52 years ago. It isn’t going anywhere! Consider this, after the Council of Florence, where the Bishop of Constantinople and almost ALL the bishops affiliated with him, accepted UNION WITH ROME, others did not. When Bishop Isadore, the bishop appointed for the Rus by Constantinople returned home, the people, the Rus found out about the declaration that he signed. The people, threw him out and since Constantinople fell into heresy, the Rus DECLARED THEIR CHURCH AUTOCEPHALOUS. Their original claim of being “THE THIRD ROME.” Well, Constantinople tried to hide their heresy from the people, but eventually, they learned of the union & heresy. Eventually, the people of Constantinople made the bishop reject the declaration. The Rus were tired of following the deceit of Constantinople and declared their independence. It took Constantinople over 100 years to recognize the autocephaly of the Rus and only after much money & jewels were exchanged. The OCA will NOT shower the Bishop of Istanbul with money & jewels for his “formal” recognition of the OCA’s autocephaly. After all, after his visit to the U.S. last Fall, he left with $100MM from his Greek-American cronies.

  12. Joseph Lipper on

    Nikolai, the Russian Church did not stop commemorating the Patriarch of Constantinople until 1467, regardless of the prior apostasy of Constantinople from the false Council of Florence.

    When the Russian Church finally did break communion in 1467, Constantinople was no longer in apostasy. The reason for the break in communion was due to Ivan III’s refusal to abide by St. Patriarch Dionysius’s request to have the Metropolitan of Moscow be subject to the Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev. The break in communion was thus purely for political reasons, not theological.

    Anyways, I wouldn’t be so sure about the OCA’s provisional autocephaly, that is unless/until it is recognized by all the autocephalous Orthodox Churches in an Ecumenical Council.

    • Look Joe, + Bart will do as he wishes. + Kirill will do as he wishes. None of this has anything to do with the OCA. The Russians & Greeks can fight all they want, it doesn’t matter to a true American Church. Maybe Greek-Americans or Russian-Americans, but the OCA really is not effected by their fighting. Their fighting is a SCANDAL for the entire Church.

      • Joseph Lipper on

        Well, Nicholai, I guess it’s just a small, small world.

        Since the OCA is autocephalous, is there any hope for the OCA granting autocephaly to Canada any time soon?

  13. George D. Karcazes on

    The foregoing back and forth between “Nikolai” and Joseph Lipper about the OCA’s de facto, de jure, “provisional” or permanent autocephaly proves once and for all, that how and by whom autocephaly is granted or seized is not universally understood or accepted.

    It is one of several items upon which Constantinople and Moscow disagree. The issue was on the agenda of the proposed Holy and Great Council, but it was withdrawn because it threatened to delay the Council. Even after it was withdrawn, Moscow, its followers and Antioch boycotted the 2016 Council held in Crete.

    The work of the Assembly of Bishops, whose singular charge according to the 1994 Chambesy Pan-Orthodox Conference, is to “organize the Orthodox of each Region on a canonical basis.. as soon as possible” has been thwarted by the dispute between Constantinople and Moscow.

    The status of the OCA’s autocephaly is a distraction. There can only be one Orthodox Church in the territory of North America, and it must include all of the canonical Orthodox in that territory.

    It is past time for the Assembly to unite all of the Orthodox in North America under a single Synod, proclaim it to be autocephalous and ask the Mother Churches to accept its autocephaly. Nikolai, Joseph Lipper, Jeffrey Zdrale, Michael Steele and everyone else who visits OCL’s website should enlist all of their friends and followers to respectfully lobby their bishops to become Servant Leaders of their flocks. Encourage them to dedicate themselves to goals and ideals greater than themselves. Assure them that the laity will support them when they risk everything to do what everyone knows they must do.

    Orthodox Christians in North America cannot wait for Constantinople and Moscow, and their followers in the Old World to resolve their differences. A united, growing Orthodox Church in North America can serve as an example to the Mother Churches on the possibilities and benefits of unity. The American aspirational motto: “Out of Many, One” must guide our bishops in the Assembly.

    It is never the wrong time to do the right thing.

  14. George: The agenda in Crete was set before it began. +Bart wanted everyone to agree that ONLY HE could grant autocephaly. This and several other issues kept the MP and others from attending. It was a meeting to put a stamp on +Bart as an “Eastern Pope.”

    The vehicle for unity already exists in America – since 1970. +Bart will not graciously grant the U.S. churches autocephaly. He wants to be in full control of all the churches.

    The Apostles didn’t appoint bishops in a territory and then tell them they were subject to another bishop. In fact, most autocephalous churches just announced they were autocephalous. As long as the entire Church were in Communion with them, de fact, accepted. Again, +Bart is NOT the Orthodox Eastern Pope and the MP has no canonical standing over churches in America.

  15. George D. Karcazes on

    Nikolai,

    Moscow demanded that the autocephaly agenda item be removed from the agenda and it was. +Bart couldn’t get everyone to agree to his demand (if that is what it was) because he had already agreed to drop the issue from the agenda.

    Even after getting everything it wanted (change of meeting place, outside of Turkey, etc.) Moscow still boycotted the Council. My point is not to take sides between Moscow and Constantinople, it is simply that their dispute should not be allowed to undermine the work of the AOB, which is to unite the Church in America. This can only mean a single, autocephalous church in America.

    The vehicle for unity in America is the Assembly of Bishops, which includes the OCA, whose 1970 autocephaly is not universally recognized, even by Moscow, which still has parishes in the OCA’s territory.

    In more than fifty years the other ethnic jurisdictions in America have not defied the synods that appointed them, abandoned their properties, and joined the OCA. That is even less likely to happen than +Bart “graciously granting autocephaly to the U.S. churches.”

    We are actually in agreement on the answer:

    The Assembly of Bishops in America must “just announce they are autocephalous”. Not that they have joined the OCA. That they, along with their parishes, properties and institutions, together with the OCA, are united and ask the other autocephalous churches to recognize them as such.

    Can the OCA bishops convince their brother bishops in the Assembly to “just do it”? The OCA certainly should never agree to surrender the autocephaly it has, but all of their bishops should join in such a declaration by the AOB. A united autocephalous Orthodox Church in America, which includes all of the OCA bishops renders the issue of whether its autocephaly is provisional, irrelevant.

    How many bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese would agree to such a Declaration? How many of the Serb, Romanian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian or GOA bishops favor unity and autocephaly?

    How many bishops would it take? Half? Fifteen? More than three? How many of the mother churches would break communion with this newly proclaimed autocephalous American Orthodox Church? How long would it take for some, most or all of them to accept this fait accompli?

    The statistics are as clear as they are compelling. The Assembly must act now.

  16. The war in Ukraine and the blessing by Patriarch Kyrill for the ongoing slaughter of innocents for the sake of a “Russian World” domination opens the eyes and ears of us all to abandon any vision of leadership that is not now forthcoming in this crisis from among the bishops, members of the Assembly of Bishops in America.

    Instead, we must use this time wisely to urge the women and men of America as Orthodox Christians to realize our God-given mission to be Orthodox Christians in and of America and to prayerfully move forward to ‘put oil in our lamps as we await the coming of the Bridegroom Christ’ in unity of charity and love for all God has given us, and to beg God’s mercy on our delay and obfuscation of the clear message of Autocephaly that came to us in 1970 through the Russian Patriarchate.

    As “children of St Herman” and the defining event of canonizing a Saint on American soil in our teen years, we are formed to be the “soldiers for Christ” in America and to carry the banner of Orthodox Christian Unity as we fulfill the Gospel Command to “Baptize all Nations in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!”.

    Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers and Mothers. O Lord Jesus Christ, send us your healing Grace and have mercy on us sinners.

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