THE TIME FOR ORTHODOX UNITY IS NOW!

Opinion Piece on Sixth Assembly of Bishops in Chicago, IL – September 15-17, 2015

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Source: Orthodox Christian Laity

George Matsoukas, Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Laity

George Matsoukas, Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Laity

by George Matsoukas

The case for Unity among the Orthodox Jurisdictions is made more manifest by the sabotaging of the Assembly of Bishops by the Antiochian Archdiocese.  The dispute between Old World Patriarchs undermines the establishment of canonical order in the USA.  The dispute over Qatar appears to be the reason why the Patriarchate of  Antioch changed its mind and negated its signature on the Chambésy  Accord of 2008.   The act and statement presented to the Assembly of Bishops are contrary to the integrity and history of the Antiochian Archdiocese that brought seekers home to the Ancient Faith.    The destructive and visionless leadership within the Antiochian Patriarchate and Archdiocese in the USA, within a two year period, has undone the hard work that so many for so long labored  to do: to create the foundation for administrative unity.  This work and vision will not go away.  Administrative unity is God’s will for the Church in the USA.  Leadership will develop within the Antiochian Archdiocese to continue that work.

As we understand the statements/position papers of the 12 hierarchs who were asked to respond to the work of Canonical Regional Planning Committee; and as we continue to learn about the dynamics of this sixth meeting, we see that the 11 responders who were present,   presented reasonable statements.   We are grateful to those 11 respondents.  They have shown maturity and understand the need to continue to work together, even if they do not agree and did not reach unanimity.  The fact that one of the participants decided not to attend and to have his statement read for him indicates to all the sad state of the Antiochian Archdiocese and its Patriarch who approved this action.   May the Lord have mercy.

We have heard that the leadership provided by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios at this meeting was his finest hour.  He directly addressed the issue voiced by some people, that “the Assembly is an effort of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to take over the Church in the USA”.  How can this be, when the rules were laid out clearly and adhered to, and that the Assembly ended as it did?  This bogus argument was made self-evident in this sixth meeting.   The Patriarch of Antioch changed his mind seven years after signing the accord to establish Assemblies around the world to help create canonical order.  The Greek Orthodox Bishops and the OCA bishops were most outspoken and supportive for the need for an administratively-united Church in the USA.  The Serbian, Ukrainian, Albanian, Romanian, Georgian, Greek, and Carpatho-Russian Bishops presented reasonable responses; and even the Bulgarian, ROCOR and Russians Bishops who are not ready for administrative unity, acknowledged the need to continue to work together.  Check out the web pages of all the Jurisdictions to read the statements of their Bishops.

It is our hope that the proceedings of the meetings be printed and bound together so that we can study them and see where we can go from here.   They are a record of an important part of our history as a Church in the USA.  So much time and funding was expended, and we need to have the record.  Shame on those who do not want the proceedings published.

Forty five of the fifty five bishops attended the Sixth Meeting of the Assembly of Bishops.

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  1. Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, 381

    Canon II

    The bishops are not to go beyond their dioceses to churches lying outside of their bounds, nor bring confusion on the churches; but let the Bishop of Alexandria, according to the canons, alone administer the affairs of Egypt; and let the bishops of the East manage the East alone, the privileges of the Church in Antioch, which are mentioned in the canons of Nice, being preserved; and let the bishops of the Asian Diocese administer the Asian affairs only; and the Pontic bishops only Pontic matters; and the Thracian bishops only Thracian affairs. And let not bishops go beyond their dioceses for ordination or any other ecclesiastical ministrations, unless they be invited. And the aforesaid canon concerning dioceses being observed, it is evident that the synod of every province will administer the affairs of that particular province as was decreed at Nice.

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