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Author Topic: What I believe  (Read 14606 times) Average Rating: 0
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Asteriktos
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« Reply #90 on: May 04, 2003, 09:41:17 PM »

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The current jurisdictional mess in the USA and elsewhere is simply not right. It presents the wrong picture of Orthodoxy to the world and even keeps people from finding Jesus Christ.

I think everyone agrees that what we have here in America is a big problem, and needs to be solved... the question is how and when.

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The notion that Orthodox Christians will refuse to participate in a canonically created American Orthodox Church because they treasure their ethnic enclaves or because they have too much money, or for whatever reason, is disturbing.

Of course it's not ok, totally agreed. There is more complicating this issue than politics and money though.

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If an autocephalous Church is created in the proper, canonical manner, then all Orthodox Christians living in its jurisdiction will automatically be subject to it. To refuse participation would be to cut oneself off from Christ.

You aren't saying that with a straight face, are you? Smiley I certainly hope not! It's not that the idea that you express is wrong, it's just not practical. Things just don't work out in such a black and white way in reality, where there are multitudes of factors and situations cannot be reduced to a "choose A or B" scenario. For a historical example, consider the see of Antioch in the fourth century. SAINT Basil and the Cappadocians favored one patriarch; SAINT Athanasius and the west favored a different one; there were two additional "patriarchs" beyond these two also fighting for the peopl eo Antioch. If Saints can disagree (and we see in the exile of Saint John Chrysostom saints again disagreeing as a Saint participated in getting St. John exiled!), why would we think that we sinners can just get everything right and make everything black and white? Life is filled with a lot of grey, and this issue has a lot of grey. (Am I spelling grey right? Grin )  Anyway, I think you overestimate how simple and proper things would be, my friend!
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« Reply #91 on: May 04, 2003, 09:51:11 PM »

I don't think the 4th-century situation you cited is analogous to the one I presented, in which an autocephalous American Orthodox Church is canonically created and recognized by all her sister Churches.

That is not the same thing as a dispute over who should be patriarch. The saints you mentioned were not off starting their own schismatic churches or refusing to participate in the Orthodox Church.

To refuse to participate in the Church for reasons that are not morally or theologically justifiable is to cut oneself off from Christ.
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« Reply #92 on: May 04, 2003, 09:56:43 PM »

I brought it up because it shows that things aren't always black and white. Do you believe they are today? Smiley I think they're much muddier now than they were in that situation!
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« Reply #93 on: May 04, 2003, 10:08:45 PM »

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Dear Lucien,

If you believe this so, which jurisdiction should ACROD meld into to get the ball rolling? OCA? GOA? UOC-EP?

Would the EP allow ACROD to meld into OCA even?
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« Reply #94 on: May 04, 2003, 10:09:10 PM »

No, I do not believe things are black and white. The jurisdictional mess in America is just that - a mess.

I think it will take a genuine ecumenical council and real unanimity among the Patriarchs and bishops councils to fix it.

My point was that the creation of an autocephalous American Orthodox Church will fix the jurisdictional problem; it cannot help but do that.

Once a truly canonical, universally-recognized, autocephalous American Orthodox Church is created, that automatically eliminates all competing Orthodox jurisdictions here:  because any group outside the Orthodox Church is outside the Orthodox Church, regardless of what they call themselves.
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« Reply #95 on: May 04, 2003, 10:19:09 PM »

Christ is Risen!

Dear Lucien,

If you believe this so, which jurisdiction should ACROD meld into to get the ball rolling? OCA? GOA? UOC-EP?

Would the EP allow ACROD to meld into OCA even?

Good question. However, as you well know, ACROD has no authority on its own to "get the ball rolling."

I don't know what the EP would allow. For now, apparently no changes.

I think all Orthodox Christians should be willing to surrender narrow jurisdictional and ethnic loyalties for the sake of Orthodox unity and mission, however.

When a holy council of the Church fixes the problem and creates a single, universally-recognized autocephalous Church for the USA, I will be more than happy to be a part of it and thrilled to put all those divisive acronyms (ACROD, ROCOR, OCA, ABCXYZ, etc) behind me.
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« Reply #96 on: May 04, 2003, 10:40:43 PM »

Linus, I disagree with you. Many Greeks(and I am sure there are other ethnics) are not going to surrender their heritage just to make one united American church. Greeks worship and have different traditions from the Russians.  Neither one is right or wrong, that is just the way Orthodoxy has evolved. There are many Orthodox immigrants who come to this country who do not speak English well and would feel lost in an English speaking only Orthodox church. Also, there are many older people who have been raised in the Greek Orthodox church who would feel lost in an American church. What traditions would a soley American Orthodox church have? I hate to break this to you but the OCA branches off the MP and follows the Russian style of worship. My point is this, Americans have no real culture, we borrow things from other cultures to make one big soup. Americans lack pride for their culture. Many Americans are proud of their country, yet how Americans are proud of their culture? Again to be blunt, many ethnics are proud of their culture and don't see anything wrong with it, and as such, they probably would not be willing to be lumped into an American Orthodox church.
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« Reply #97 on: May 05, 2003, 01:24:48 AM »

Sinjin, I understand your point of view. I know the Arab Orthodox and Arab Christians in general to put Arab "churchiness" above any notion of or allegiance to World Orthodoxy.  In one case once mentioned here before, some Arab Orthodox went over to the Maronites (a seriously rare situation) when they clashed with the English-speaking members of the parish.

Putting aside the matter of Mother Sees looking to their U.S. extensions as providers of revenue, the layout is this: America suffers from a serious case of social engineering and hence features social dynamics of a kind that isn't found in Old World countries.  There are three currents within each jurisdiction that continue to produce a segmentation and rival factions.  The first is the influx of converts, the second is the assimilation of nth generation immigrants, and the third is the fresh unloading of new immigrant cargo.  These exist in different proportions at different times in different jurisdictions.  These three forces compete against each other and prevent the finalization of an assignment of cultural/religious identity to each jurisdiction.  The problem is the situation is constantly in flux, especially with the immigration policy that operates in the U.S.  As soon as one generation assimilates, another comes in from across the shores to counter that force, and, along with WASP converts, a balkanization of sorts can ensue.  This applies to Orthodox and Eastern Catholic jurisdictions.

Until this constant tug of war between different societal groups within a jurisdiction comes to a halt, and a full assimilation of some kind ensues, without any counterforce (such as new immigrants) following afterwards to reverse this, a jurisdiction will not form an American identity, however one may define this, and multiple jurisdictions will certainly not be able to merge into one uniform American jurisdiction, though that is the proper canonical norm.  Ireland and those of like persuasion attempted such to no avail.

The problem is this: America itself as a society is not set as one culture (except for pop culture), and hence lacks a proper identity and binding force aside from allegiance to the Federal Government or the political legacy and ideological cement of the Constitution and Bill of Rights (one can also say English, except that Spanish is increasingly on the rise these days).  In fact, genuine culture only exists at most on the level of the state (as in one of the 50 states) or probably even on a more localist level.  What all this means is that the absence of an American culture results in the absence of an American Church.  I wonder if the concept of several autocephalous Churches in North America is at all viable.

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N.B. One point on the Arab Orthodox.  It should be pointed out that St. Raphael Hawaweeny--according to my understanding--was keen on seeing the Arab flock under the shepherd's care of an Arab Patriarch of Antioch (and the Arabs have traditionally pushed for the "nativization" of their Sees which have long been held by Greeks).  This may in fact factour in as a sort of legacy of the hierarch, and therefore operate as a counterforce to the ideological trend of one American jurisdiction.  I am only making my own assumptions here.
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« Reply #98 on: May 05, 2003, 01:44:41 AM »

The problem is this: America itself as a society is not set as one culture (except for pop culture), and hence lacks a proper identity and binding force aside from allegiance to the Federal Government or the political legacy and ideological cement of the Constitution and Bill of Rights (one can also say English, except that Spanish is increasingly on the rise these days).  In fact, genuine culture only exists at most on the level of the state (as in one of the 50 states) or probably even on a more localist level.  What all this means is that the absence of an American culture results in the absence of an American Church.  I wonder if the concept of several autocephalous Churches in North America is at all viable.

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Samer, thank you for making the point that I tried to make in my previous post. I agree with you that culture is not set as one and  probably exists on a state or local level. Take Texas for instance, or many states in the south.
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« Reply #99 on: May 05, 2003, 02:00:59 AM »

Paradosis (and others),
Yes, I believe everything me (and Linus to some extent) are saying with a straight face.  But, I'm not saying that everything will be miraculously solved.  Just as Linus, was saying, it would be an administrative unity.  The status quo (for practical purposes of pratice) within each "former" jurisdiction would stay the same - time would heal this (as they saying goes, it heals all wounds).  If you will, liken it to how the OCA currently has a Bulgarian Diocese, etc.
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« Reply #100 on: May 05, 2003, 02:07:46 AM »

Just to let you guys know that you are not alone in this juristictional mess, yesterday I met a priest from France and had a lovely chat about how the church is fairing there. Apparently the Orthodox church is growing steadily while the Catholic and Protestant churches are both in decline (we didn't discuss Islam), but while the Greek churches have the strongest presence, the Russians are a close second followed by the Armenians (I think?) and the Serbs.

In any case I was greatly encouraged to hear that the French people are rediscovering the pillar of truth.

John.
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« Reply #101 on: May 05, 2003, 10:06:45 AM »

Both rites (including church calendars) and ethnic cultures ultimately are man-made, not of the essence of the Church. (Yes, I realize the hurtfulness and even possible unorthodoxy this approach has been used for - the Roman Catholics in America squeezing out the Byzantine Catholic churches.) The obvious, logical thing for real Eastern Orthodox in America to do is merge into one jurisdiction - the OCA because the Russians were the first Orthodox here. Ethnic congregations? Including Anglo-American, English-only ones (which are of course ethnic)? Absolutely. Let a thousand flowers bloom. Have ethnic vicar bishops for different groups if needed.  And Russian, other Slavic, Greek, Romanian, Arabic, Albanian-Greek, Slavic-American and Anglo-American homegrown (children of the present convert boomlet) churches. Perhaps in time the last could morph into a new recension of the Byzantine Rite or even a new rite. Possible. The faith ultimately isn't about ethnicity, let alone subsidizing dying Levantine sees, which also are not of the esse of the Church.

We've had this conversation before about rite. The reason different ones exist today is because of the lack of communication in the ancient world.  So the evolution of an American Rite seems unlikely today IMO in our smaller world with instant communication such as the Internet. But American culture is unique so an American recension certainly is possible... again IMO if EOs ever reach the critical mass populationwise to do it. But that might not (probably will not) happen.
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« Reply #102 on: May 05, 2003, 12:50:41 PM »

I agree with Serge. I do not see why we cannot have one autocephalous American Orthodox Church and yet allow individual congregations to maintain their ethnic flavor, traditions, and language.

As long as the Orthodox Church is perceived as something foreign, a sort of ethnic social club for immigrants, she will have little impact on Americans, and she will lose her hold on the children and grandchildren of the immigrants themselves.

I think the current jurisdictional mess and the division into ethnic enclaves are dangerous trends. The Church is universal. She is for everyone. She is not the property of the tribe.

When Sts. Cyril and Methodius went north to the Slavs, did they try to impose Greek on them? Nope. They put the Gospel into Slavonic, and St. Cyril even invented an alphabet for the purpose.

When I went to Russia I became subject to the Russian Orthodox Church. I attended her Divine Liturgy, made my confession to a Russian priest, and received the Holy Eucharist from him. I did not seek out a bunch of my fellow "ethnics" (in this case, Americans) and try to transplant a version of my particular jurisdiction onto Russian soil.

My point is that, canonically speaking, the autocephaly of a local Church has to do with being located in an independent political territory and not with ethnicity.
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« Reply #103 on: May 05, 2003, 12:59:00 PM »

Thanks, Linus.

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As long as the Orthodox Church is perceived as something foreign, a sort of ethnic social club for immigrants, she will have little impact on Americans, and she will lose her hold on the children and grandchildren of the immigrants themselves.

I think the current jurisdictional mess and the division into ethnic enclaves are dangerous trends.

Which is exactly what's happening now.
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« Reply #104 on: May 05, 2003, 01:04:10 PM »

Serge<<Which is exactly what's happening now. >>

Agreed!

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« Reply #105 on: May 05, 2003, 01:48:17 PM »

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I think the current jurisdictional mess and the division into ethnic enclaves are dangerous trends.

Which is exactly what's happening now.

And I believe will continue to happen as long as the counterforce of immigration exists.  Unfailing sociological forces being what they are, one can be sure that within the span of a few generations, assimilation takes over at a strong rate.

Therefore, in order for these divisions to weaken considerably, it is required that a period of time, perhaps a good century, pass without new immigrants being injected into the flocks, while allowing for the forces of assimilation to take over.

Now Serge consistently points out the proper canonical model to be followed and is correct in his calling attention to the Russian mission's primacy (and therefore that of the O.C.A.)  in the creation of an American Church.  The problem I have with his idea of ethnic congregations is that a new solid jurisdiction must be founded on some sense of uniform homogenous identity; perhaps a concession can be made to create a foundation characterized as an umbrella of different ethnicities, but it wouldn't work out at present given the status quo.  Why?  Because the forces of assimilation and counter-assimilation I described remain in action and will continue to tug sections of the jurisdiction back and forth.  This kind of a volatile situation is not condusive to any sort of unity that an autocephalous jurisdiction requires.  Furthermore, friction and power struggles can ensue.  Now were there no forces of assimilation to consider, meaning we lived in a U.S. where, without the support of new immigrants, the ethnic communities successfully maintained their cultures and a strong cohesive element generation after generation  (and were converts not affecting demographics in some way), then Serge's multi-ethnic jurisdiction would make sense.  Also, if immigration were to cease and assimilation allowed to work its way into all the communities along with the catalyst influxes of converts provide, over a period of a hundred years or so, then the stability an American jurisdiction needs would be provided, but as long all the opposing forces I mentioned continue to exist, no finalization of identity (whether solidly multi-ethnic or uniformly American) will exist, and civil wars will continue to shape and mold an American Church in some manner at one time, and another manner the next.  The situation will become too unstable and the Church's identity even less clear.  There has to be a stabilization within a united American Church, in either the direction of assimilation or that of a strong, solid maintanance of the ethnic communities.  A constant flux that keeps changing a jurisdiction's orientation and leaning from one direction to the other will not create a success story.

Now I disagree with Linus, that ethnicity can be reduced simply to a pesky "ethnic club".  Ethnicity, or rather a sphere of commonly related ethnicites is an essential component of a Church's identity and forms a good part of its fabric.  And I believe two extremes exist and should be avoided.  Most certainly "ethnics"--the assimilated kind particularly--can reduce their Churches into social clubs and meeting grounds for their boys and girls at the expense of the substance of the religion itself, and important issues like abortion.  Such folks annoy both me and many others.  At the same time--and equally annoying--is the opposite extreme: reducing ethnic and cultural identity into a dangerously insignificant factour, and turning a Church into a "religious club" (we're "going to church" suburban mentality) that has no grounding in history, culture, or the traditions that form the customs and practices of Church ritual.  Orthodoxy becomes like the Constitution today, a Platonic abstract divorced from the material and substantial casing of culture and history it requires to flourish.  The "community" becomes an artificial and crude Hillary-ish "it takes a village" assembly.  A balance must be struck between the two extremes.

But Linus is correct in that traditionally jurisdiction is ultimately defined by geographical territory (not politically defined territory however), and not by phyletic nationalism.  This has been the case with the Apostolic Sees in the Middle East (Eastern Orthodox).  However, I have lately begun to consider a point of view I hadn't before, and will ask Serge for his opinions.  Since a new jurisdiction is to be based on territory, rather than national identity, isn't a whole swath of geography like the U.S. enormous for one Orthodox Church?  Wouldn't it be more logical to produce a small number of autocephalous Churches in U.S. territory instead (not based on ethnicity)?  I ask that while answering you assume that the total number of Orthodox in the U.S. is significantly higher than the aggregate sum today (as the currently small value of this measure is the only reason I see that can permit a Church to have jurisdiction over such a large territory, the same reason why the Melkite Patriarch is responsible for the jurisdiction of three Apostolic Sees, and why his Church is technically one rather than three that stand alongside their three Orthodox counterparts).

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« Reply #106 on: May 05, 2003, 02:26:51 PM »

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The problem I have with his idea of ethnic congregations is that a new solid jurisdiction must be founded on some sense of uniform homogenous identity

Aren't basic orthodoxy, the Byzantine Rite and Byzantine theology enough to accomplish that, even with the ebb and flow of immigration?
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« Reply #107 on: May 05, 2003, 02:45:11 PM »

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The problem I have with his idea of ethnic congregations is that a new solid jurisdiction must be founded on some sense of uniform homogenous identity

Aren't basic orthodoxy, the Byzantine Rite and Byzantine theology enough to accomplish that, even with the ebb and flow of immigration?

As I stand now Serge, I can't reply in the affirmative.  These are my own assumptions, but I can always further explore the current state of affairs to get a more accurate picture.  At present, these are the impressions that stick to my mind.  Maybe they will change with time, but right now I think the ground is still shaky for one jurisdiction.

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« Reply #108 on: May 05, 2003, 04:12:14 PM »

One of the problems I see with all this emphasis on ethnicity is that it defeats one of the chief purposes of the Church, the mission assigned to her by our Lord and Savior Himself: to go out and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The USA is a huge mission field for the Church, but she is failing to reach most of the people here.

Why?

Could it be in part because Orthodoxy is being kept hostage as a tribal secret?

I don't buy all that stuff about the importance of ethnic culture and customs. We're talking about the Church of Jesus Christ here. If all that was so important, the Church would have never made it out of Palestine, the New Testament would have been written in Aramaic or Hebrew rather than Greek, and we would all have to be circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law.

The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church transcends racial, ethnic, and linguistic boundaries - or at least she is supposed to.
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« Reply #109 on: May 05, 2003, 05:44:26 PM »

When the RC's in America originally agitated for separate jurisdictions a battle had to be fought and one jurisdiction for the Latin Rite was enforced from the top down.  Perhaps we need this in Orthodoxy: one jurisdiction for the Eastern Orthodox (Byzantine Rite of course), to be enforced by the American bishops.  They need to just get the courage and DO IT.

Each parish could keep its ethnic flavor, style of chant, and what not. Heck, they can even have vicar bishops for majority-ethnic parishes. But one set of territorial bishops, please!

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« Reply #110 on: May 05, 2003, 06:13:04 PM »

Since a new jurisdiction is to be based on territory, rather than national identity, isn't a whole swath of geography like the U.S. enormous for one Orthodox Church?  Wouldn't it be more logical to produce a small number of autocephalous Churches in U.S. territory instead (not based on ethnicity)?

Uh...no and no.  See Church of Russia.  Very big.
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« Reply #111 on: May 05, 2003, 07:42:57 PM »

Elisha: huh?  And what does Russia have to do with the Church in the USA?  IF, and that's a very long way off IMHO, we eventually do get *one* (and ONLY one) canonical autocephalous Orthodox Church in the USA and it does grow to the size of that in Russia, well, it can be geographically divided into territorial autonomous Churches, but still remain part of one basic autocephalous national Church.  But that's such a long way off--let's wait and see.  Right now it would be nice to see just one--and only ONE--canonical autocephalous Orthodox Church embracing all ethnicities and cultures on the territory of the USA (grant Canada autonomy right up front).

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« Reply #112 on: May 05, 2003, 07:51:07 PM »

Since a new jurisdiction is to be based on territory, rather than national identity, isn't a whole swath of geography like the U.S. enormous for one Orthodox Church?  Wouldn't it be more logical to produce a small number of autocephalous Churches in U.S. territory instead (not based on ethnicity)?

Uh...no and no.  See Church of Russia.  Very big.

Sorry, Elisha, I think I misunderstood your post, but I was well intentioned and agreeing with you!   :disco:  

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« Reply #113 on: May 05, 2003, 07:53:40 PM »

And I agree with both of you! Grin

I think we should have an autocephalous American Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #114 on: May 05, 2003, 08:04:31 PM »

And I agree with both of you! Grin

I think we should have an autocephalous American Orthodox Church.

The gift of autocephaly is already in the USA in the OCA.  From what I know of the OCA, they'd be willing to surrender any claims to primacy for the achievement of canonical unity in one Church.  IOW, the Prmate need not come from the OCA--he could be Antiochian, Serbian, Greek, whatever.

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« Reply #115 on: May 05, 2003, 08:07:34 PM »

Isn't the MP unhappy with some of the things that are going on within the OCA?
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« Reply #116 on: May 05, 2003, 08:12:50 PM »

Isn't the MP unhappy with some of the things that are going on within the OCA?

No.  The MP has requested that the OCA create a specifically ethnic Russian Diocese to handle the large number of new immigrants coming from Russia.  However, relations between the MP and the OCA are excellent.

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« Reply #117 on: May 05, 2003, 08:28:43 PM »

And I agree with both of you! Grin

I think we should have an autocephalous American Orthodox Church.

The gift of autocephaly is already in the USA in the OCA.  From what I know of the OCA, they'd be willing to surrender any claims to primacy for the achievement of canonical unity in one Church.  IOW, the Prmate need not come from the OCA--he could be Antiochian, Serbian, Greek, whatever.

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The problem with that is that it has not been recognized by the other autocephalous Churches. As much as I want an autocephalous American Orthodox Church, I don't think what Moscow did in 1970 was canonically sufficient to make the OCA truly the autocephalous Church so many of us are looking for.

The problem is that the canons do not really make it clear how a local Church attains autocephalous status. The various autocephalous Churches achieved their present status in different ways, none of which has ever been codified or standardized in the canons of the Church.

In 1993 the Interorthodox Preparatory Commission adopted the following recommendation concerning the proclamation of autocephaly:

3. Complete agreement was established concerning the canonical conditions which the proclamation of the autocephaly of a local church requires, namely the consent and action of the mother church, the obtaining of a pan-Orthodox consensus, and the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the other autocephalous churches in the procedure of the proclamation of autocephaly. According to the agreement:

a.  The mother church which receives a request for autocephaly from an ecclesiastical region which depends on it evaluates whether the ecclesiological, canonical and pastoral conditions are satisfied for the granting of autocephaly. In the case where the local synod of the mother church, as its supreme ecclesiastical organ, gives its consent to the request, it submits the proposal on this subject to the Ecumenical Patriarchate so that pan-Orthodox consensus may be sought. The mother church then informs the other local autocephalous churches of this.

b.  According to pan-Orthodox practice, the Ecumenical Patriarchate communicates by patriarchal letter all the details concerning said request and seeks expression of pan-Orthodox consensus. Pan-Orthodox consensus is expressed by the unanimous decision of the synods of the autocephalous churches. (Quoted by John Erickson in his forward to Alexander Bogolepov's book, Toward an American Orthodox Church, xvii - xviii).


Of course, the recommendations of the Interorthodox Preparatory Commission are not binding on anyone, but they are probably a pretty good indication of how autocephaly for Orthodox in the USA will come, if it ever comes at all.

Let's face it: it's probably going to require an ecumenical council.
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The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers.
- Pope St. Hormisdas
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