APPEAL TO UNITY AND ROMANIAN DIGNITY
"At the beginning of the year 2010, proclaimed by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church as Anniversary Year of the Orthodox Creed and of Romanian Autocephaly, in the context of the 125th anniversary of the moment when the Romanian Orthodox Church became autocephalous and of the 85th anniversary of the elevation to the rank of Patriarchate, the hierarchs of the Holy Synod are reaching out and addressing a Heartfelt appeal to all Romanian Orthodox clerics and faithful abroad, who are, without blessing, in other sister Orthodox Churches or in non-canonical church structures, to restore their direct communion with their Mother Church, under the canonical jurisdiction of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
The realization of this desideratum is the fulfillment of the provisions of the Bylaw for the Organization and Functioning of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which mentions that the Romanian Orthodox Church is the Church of the Romanian people and encompasses all Orthodox Christians in Romania and the Romanian Orthodox Christians abroad (article 5), and the canonical and pastoral organization of the Romanian Orthodox faithful outside Romania is ensured by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church (article 8). This principle is in full accordance with the decision of the Panorthodox Preconciliar Conference of Chambésy-Switzerland (June 6-13, 2009), which specifies that each autocephalous Church has the right to shepherd its own diaspora.
The above-mentioned principles are expressing the duty of the Romanian Orthodox Church and are based upon the 16th Canon of the 1st Ecumenical Council (325), which contains the principle that no diocese is allowed to receive under its jurisdiction Orthodox clerics and faithful, without the blessing of the Church (diocese) to which they belong.
To this end, we are mentioning that the process of returning of the clergy and faithful of different nationalities to their Mother Churches (such as in the Moscow Patriarchate and the Serbian Patriarchate) has already started for a long time and has shown that, through shared responsibility and ethnic Orthodox solidarity, the conjunctural historical feuds, based on past political motives, can be overcome.
Now, when 20 years have passed since the fall of the Communist regime in Eastern Europe, when Romania is a member of the European Union and of NATO and in the context of an unprecedented activity of the Romanian Orthodox Church abroad, through the reorganization and foundation of numerous dioceses across the world, we think that there are no more real reasons to reject the call of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church to unity and Romanian Orthodox communion.
We are confident that this attitude of Romanian Orthodox resurrection and reconciliation will consolidate and intensify the pastoral-missionary, social-philanthropic and cultural-educational ministry of the Romanian Orthodox Church everywhere, strengthening at the same time the Romanian Orthodox dignity, through the liberation of some Romanian Orthodox from considering themselves ‘searchers of canonical shadows’ among strangers.
We are regretting that, for several reasons, some of our Romanian Orthodox brothers have sought other Orthodox jurisdictions, during Communism, but what was understandable in the past has become unreasonable and regrettable in present times, amounting to estrangement of Romanians from one another, up to their church division.
Being confident that our appeal to unity and Romanian Orthodox dignity will be received with joy and responsibility, as a desire for communion and brotherly cooperation, we are sharing with everyone our utmost respect and fatherly blessing."
The text was signed by the Patriarch, members of the Synod, and the bishops of the Romanian Patriarchate. The appeal raises the question: is the OCA viewed by the Romanian Patriarchate as a "sister Orthodox Church" , a "non-canonical church structure", or simply as "strangers" - a "canonical shadow" among which the OCA Romanians have been "searching" ?