An Observation on “A Reflection…”
By Fr. Dimitrie Vincent
August 9. 2009
St. Herman of Alaska, the First Sanctified of North America
There were many historical eye witness accounts of a shaft of light from Spruce Island rising up into the sky at the time of the falling asleep of St. Herman. His holy life and pious example is self evident. His is certainly an example for us today as we speak and work towards canonical and administrative structural unity in North America.
A long time advocate of administrative unity in North America is Archbishop Nathaniel of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, Orthodox Church in America (ROEA, OCA). He has over the years spoken to various assemblies and written in numerous places the need for canonical unity. His position is unity, the sooner the better. Up until recently the “model” of church unity is/was the autocephalous OCA.
Least we forget this fact during a time when the Joint Dialog Commission (JDC) has prepared a Unity Proposal and there are serious discussions in the ROEA, “part of the local church” to leave the autocephalous OCA it would be worthwhile to revisit Archbishop Nathaniel’s thoughts from “A Reflection on the Need for Administrative Unity of the Orthodox Church in North America” (AGAIN Magazine, Unity Issue, Summer 2006).
“In my opinion, there is no reason why there should not be, without delay, an administratively united Orthodox Church in North America…Some patriarchates say, “It’s not yet time!” They do not explain to us what this means…we wonder at their concern and motives for not blessing the local Church.”
“The Church is a local witness to the Gospel…the multiplicity of jurisdictional synod in North America…is a strange phenomenon.”
“How can various synods exist on the territory of an autocephalous Church? Is the issue…not yet “recognized” by all…The Orthodox Church in America is recognized by the churches of Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Poland, Czech Lands, Japan and Kiev. This includes the vast majority of Orthodox Christians.”
“Why do Mother Churches want to have separate synods in North America…not canonically established…totally dependent on the Mother Church? I believe…concern for souls… [and] the Mother Churches experience political pressure from their governments to retain some ethnic tie with emigrants through the Church. This is big business: economic, social and political...every government has its own representatives in the same places to assist the immigrant not to forget the fatherland.”
“The Church in North America…has suffered greatly because of political intervention in the life of the churches abroad, in North America…There is a definitely anti-American accent present in some nations and some Orthodox Churches…the local entity…under stress if the Mother Church and the fatherland have policies which are at odds with those of North America…That the Church must exist as a local church self-ruling, for the salvation of her people in a given land, is paramount to her witness to the Gospel.
“…[in]the United States…no one religion would be the state religion…nor would the government interfere…This is the North American experience, which greatly differs from that of European and Middle Eastern brethren.”
“…the Mother Churches are really not free to bless their North American entities to become part of a local church, and most likely, for the above reasons they do not what to bless then…Is there universal ethnic jurisdiction by Mother Churches over those who have emigrated? Around the world? Certainly the canons are clear that the Church is a local entity and that there is not universal jurisdiction based on ethnicity!”
“One can…wonder if, worldwide, the Church by her present disorganization…is being subjected to the powers of this world.”
“Fear? In the holy Church...the shepherds and archshepherds need to act. Perfect love casts out fear!”
“The Romanian Episcopate of the Orthodox Church in America has reaffirmed her place in the autocephalous Church. She remains as her own particular witness to the ethnic origin of her faithful, while also embracing others who seek salvation in the Church of Christ. Certainly, there are other brethren who must also take such a step and become part of the local Church.”
“The hierarchs in North America, heirs to those local saints, must act without delay for this unity. There is no excuse for disunity in the Church of Christ.”
“…Orthodox Americans will be judged as citizen of this nation and not of the ethnic land they or their parents left. Let us fear God and love our neighbor, without delay.”