After ten years of meetings, the Assembly of Bishops still finds bishops communicating with each other difficult. The rules governing how to reach decisions are impossible. The Assembly needs to develop communication skills that enable each bishop to stay focused, to hear one another, and to debate and reach conclusions. In-service programs with guides that have communication skills would be a useful exercise. We are no closer to canonical unity of Orthodoxy in the USA and throughout the world where Orthodox Christians reside in pluralistic societies.
The largest grouping in the USA is in financial difficulty caused by undertaking an enormous project at Ground Zero in NYC. The project could have been an opportunity to bring all the Orthodox groupings in the USA together as a Pan-Orthodox Project. Instead, it became a nightmare personifying the hubris of one grouping. The project even degraded the generous donors who became wrapped up with the hubris, so that the opening of the doors of the St. Nicholas National Shrine became an invitation-only event for the donors, all dressed in their Archon blazers.
The recent visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch was not a pastoral visit to the Orthodox Christians in the USA. It too was a lost opportunity. It involved limited numbers of faithful. It was a photo opportunity for him in various places. The one good result was that he got the medical attention he needed.
The work of the charter committee of the GOA seems stalled. The timelines have not been met. There is no transparency or accountability within the process. It will be promulgated in 2022, and there is no draft ready for the parishes to provide input. The last charter was a failure, and it seems we have not learned from that experience. For 20 years, the GOA has been fragmented and under the control of foreign entities. How will the new charter lead us to become a canonically unified Orthodox Church in the USA?
This background causes me to reflect upon the words of Rev Archimandrite Eusebius Stephanou of blessed memory and a former OCL advisory board member. In his writing, The Mystery of Iniquity in the Church, he stated: “In reality, some members of the Hierarchy are progressively turning the Bride of Christ into the Great Whore. They play God. They are Christ substitutes. Because they are intoxicated with power and the desire for glory, they are incapable of rejoicing when men and women come to the Savior in a born-again experience. They feel threatened by any significant renewal movement. They conceal their real intentions under their glittering gold-embroidered vestments. But the Holy Spirit gives the true believer the charisma to discern the spirits. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you (1 John 2:22). It is the hour of repentance. God is giving us the final warning. Repent and turn yourself from your idols and turn away your faces from all your abominations (Ezek. 14:6). There will eventually be a limit to God’s patience, as He awaits the repentance and reconversion of His people. The time will come when they, as well as those outside the churches, will not be able to believe, even if they wanted to! This is the ultimate in God’s judgment – sending “strong delusion (2 Thess.2:11).”
We are thirsting for something to be optimistic about as we look to 2022. Despite the picture of unity looking like a disassembled puzzle in many respects, we pray that you will join the OCL movement to help bring to fruition the wonderful works and blessings that an administratively-unified Church in America has the potential to realize.
George E Matsoukas
Executive Director Emeritus