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Statement of the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America
New York, NY
The Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, laymen who are deeply devoted to the Great Church of Christ and dedicated to the protection, defense and the mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, take this occasion to raise serious concerns and questions over the recent public remarks made by the Primate of the OCA during a Pan-Orthodox Vespers (April 5th) in Dallas, Texas. We do so sorrowfully, not only because the Church is now in the midst of Holy Week, but because the reason for our doing results from language that is unworthy of any ecclesiastical setting. Nevertheless, to be an Archon is to have a special concern and interest to protect and promote the Ecumenical Patriarchate, its mission, and the person of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Therefore, we can not and must not refrain from speaking the truth in love, even though the moment is not the best.
For those who have seen the video that has been widely circulated on the Internet, or have read the transcript that is still on an OCA website, it is immediately apparent that inappropriate language, to say the least, is used against the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Consider this phrase:
There's one solution that's being proposed in which we all submit to Constantinople. We all submit to a foreign patriarchate where all decisions will be made there. Where we will have no say in the decisions that are made, we will have no say in our own destiny and we surrender the freedom that we have embraced as American Orthodox Christians to a patriarch that is still under Islamic domination.
Who has proposed any kind of subjugation to Constantinople? No one! The fact is that all of the Autocephalous Primates agreed in Constantinople on October 12, 2008 that there should be a swift healing of every canonical anomaly that has arisen from historical circumstances and pastoral requirements, such as in the so-called Orthodox Diaspora, with a view to overcoming every possible influence that is foreign to Orthodox ecclesiology (Article 13, ii). This statement was signed by all the recognized Autocephalous Primates or their Official Representatives. Metropolitan Jonah's statements demonstrate not only a lack of knowledge and of discretion; they demonstrate something which is plainly foreign to Orthodox ecclesiology.
To maintain that we, Americans, cannot ... be controlled by people who have never heard a word of English much less would allow a word of English to be spoken in the liturgy. We can't allow our church to be controlled by people who have no appreciation of our culture and have to bow to the Turkish Islamic authorities, is an erroneous, irresponsible statement in any public setting, much less a liturgical service. The fact is that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew speaks six languages, and had a wonderful conversation with the President of the United States in English two days after this inflammatory remark! Furthermore, when the Heads of the Autocephalous Churches celebrated the Holy Liturgy together last October 12th in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George, there was an abundance of tongues used, recalling the Day of Pentecost.
Finally, we, Archons of the Great Church of Christ, must register our concern and pain over the general tone of the Metropolitan's remarks as insulting. When a statement is made, speaking personally about the Ecumenical Patriarch: if we wanted the Pope we'd be under the real one, it is not possible for the Order of Archons to be silent. This kind of disrespect is beneath any Christian. And we must also ask how a phrase like, Communists who now call themselves Democrats, does not cast aspersions on the very Nation whose martyred Church, the Patriarchate of Moscow, created the OCA in the first place?
As we are in the midst of Holy Days, when we all apply ourselves more vigorously to prayer and fasting, as we strive to follow Christ on His Way to the Cross and His Glorious Resurrection, we hope that Metropolitan Jonah will publicly retract his ill-considered remarks. While we rejoice that all things are forgiven in the Resurrection, as Orthodox Christians and as Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we will continue to be vigilant and express our grave concerns whenever such injustices as these are committed. May God grant to us all the strength and will to work for peaceable, reasonable relationships within His Holy Church, so that the Message of the Holy Gospel may shine forth.
Anthony J. Limberakis, MD