here for a copy of the "Report to His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos
Concerning the Future Theological Agenda of the Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese" submitted to the 30th Biennial Clergy Laity Congress, July
1990, Washington DC
A House Blend
it comes to good coffee, caffeine lovers may be familiar with the
“House Blend”—each restaurant’s or coffee roaster’s recipe for brewing
the “perfect cup” that appeals to the greatest number of people. Not
some exotic specialty roast like Mocha Java,
Mind you, not everyone who loves coffee likes the house blend. That’s all right; it is not necessary, or even desirable, that they should. But on the other hand, there is surely nothing wrong with the way it tastes, and for those who understand why and how the house blend is best used, it makes very good sense.
In terms of the Orthodox Church and its establishment here in
It happens to be my good fortune to be the pastor of a start-from-scratch “house blend” parish, and it’s quite an experience. After a year and a half, we’re a brew of almost everything! For openers, a little more than half our people are converts to the Orthodox Faith. But even the portion of our people who have an Orthodox background is mixed. A slender majority have been active in the Orthodox Church all their lives. Still others left the Orthodox Church and went to Protestant churches for a period of time, but they’ve come back. And there are those who left the Orthodox Church, for various reasons and at various ages, and went nowhere at all for many years. Now they’ve come back to the Church because they really like the “house blend.” They feel at home because of the blend of people.
As I see it, Orthodox parishes in
First, for most of the two hundred years since Orthodoxy came to
in recent years there have emerged parishes that are comprised almost
entirely of converts to the Orthodox Faith. These parishes aren’t house
blend either. They are another important specialty. They aren’t for
everyone, but they do have an extremely significant role in the full
scope of Orthodox life in
But now, thirdly, there are a growing number of Orthodox parishes emerging on North American soil which began as ethnic parishes, or at least sprouted from an ethnic base, but which have quite intentionally sought to add significant percentages of converts to the makeup of the parish. The number of this blend of parishes is growing rapidly. This last model is what I would call the “house blend.” Conceivably some in ethnic or convert parishes may feel these don’t “taste” very good. “Too strong or too weak,” some may say. And we who are in these house blend parishes don’t mind their feeling that way, but we ourselves really do like the taste.
GETTING DOWN TO TERMS
This blend illustration may be better understood if we get down to cases with three terms: ethnic, cradle, and convert.
Ethnic churches are simply a common strand of the fabric of the American experience. And they are by no means unique to Orthodoxy. The Episcopal Church, for example, was and is an ethnic church; its ethnicity just happens to be English.
the ethnic experience goes far beyond the Episcopalians. There are
Irish Catholics, Italian Catholics, and Polish Catholics. And among the
Protestants, there are German Lutherans, Swedish Lutherans, and Danish
Lutherans, to name a few. And there are Scottish Presbyterians. My dad
grew up in a Low German-speaking Mennonite church. My wife grew up in
One memorable “ethnic experience” I treasure goes back to my basketball-playing days for the
seems to me North Americans don’t look disparagingly at churches with a
Western European ethnic background. But woe to those from
churches are not de facto bad churches, and their ethnicity should
never be a criterion for judging them. Frankly, I’m tired of people
casting the term “ethnic” about with respect to Orthodox churches, as
if “ethnic” were some nasty, but easily curable (all you have to do is
become like us) disease. There are even ugly aspersions flung about
with respect to whether “ethnics” are truly Christians. That is nothing
more than American fundamentalist nonsense—as if you’ve got to speak
English and be at least a fourth-generation Heinz 57 variety to be a
genuine Christian in
course many problems must be addressed in ethnic churches as they take
root in a new homeland. That takes time. And if they are trying to use
“Cradle” is the second term we need to work with. Of course there are cradle Orthodox. Strange, isn’t it? I’ve never heard the word “cradle” used of anyone but Orthodox, and so often it is used as if it were a malady.
Really, all we mean by “cradle Orthodox” is people who have been Orthodox since they were in the cradle. And what’s wrong with that? Aren’t there cradle Baptists? Cradle Pentecostals? Cradle evangelicals? Cradle charismatics? Even those of us who are converts to Orthodoxy are often prone to use the expression “cradle Orthodox” to mean, “not as committed as we are.” Frankly, that attitude reveals a sinister pride which should have no place among a people whose daily prayer is. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
In fact, it may be quite a compliment for people to be called “cradle Orthodox,” At least it testifies to the fact that they’ve stuck to the Faith of their Fathers—quite a feat these days, when people change (or drop) their faith, their denominations, and their religions, with the ease and aplomb with which they switch automobiles.
Still, in all fairness, it must be admitted there are cradle Orthodox who have virtually no clue about their faith, They’ve just bumped along over the years going along with the program, as it were, but never making a true commitment to Christ or the Church. Perhaps the tie was ethnic heritage. Perhaps it was family. Maybe it was just a felt need for church. Whatever it was, it was never enough to press them into digging into the heart of their Faith.
This problem is not unique to Orthodox Christians. All churches, should they survive twenty years, are going to encounter that troublesome predicament. That doesn’t excuse lack of commitment, but it does make it understandable.
Finally, we need to look at the word “convert.” Being a convert myself. I must say I had a hard time with the word. After all, I was a Christian before! But I’ve come to deal with the reality that becoming Orthodox is a type of conversion. For some of us, it was quite a radical departure from where we once found ourselves to enter into a Church that is historic, liturgical, and sacramental.
And sometimes the cradle Orthodox don’t realize how difficult this conversion can be. Some cannot grasp the inner wrenching we went through to make the change. There are even some who are at a loss to understand why we find Orthodoxy such a treasure. Indeed, converts are sometimes looked down on as ignorant newcomers to be held in suspicion.
Where an atmosphere of suspicion and belittling tends to peak is in those environments where cradle and convert are effectively separated from one another. And, conversely, those issues fade when they are together. At my parish, the proportion is 55% convert and 45% cradle. (I’m probably the only one in the parish aware of those figures.) But we don’t think of each other as cradle or convert. We think of each other as brothers and sisters in Christ: we see each other as Orthodox Christians, and members of the same Body. I must admit that when I’m outside my own parish and meet some cradle Orthodox, I occasionally still feel the suspicion so strongly, I’m sure they feel the same coming from me. But in my “house blend” parish, we don’t have that problem.
Further, without for a moment suggesting that the all-cradle or all-convert parishes aren’t good models, we would insist that our model, the “house blend,” is a wonderful model. It has some distinct advantages, and in the long haul it will appeal to the greatest number of people— not because it’s inherently the best, but because of people’s tastes. Take a look at just four appealing attributes of the house blend.
ADVANTAGES OF THE HOUSE BLEND
1) Balanced Christian Living.
Balance is a quality that is often hard to come by in Christian living. In the house blend church, every cradle believer and every convert has some degree of influence on the whole—perhaps far more than when everyone has the same background. Cradle Orthodox are challenged by the zeal of the converts, but the converts are balanced by the experience and history of the cradles.
I see this dramatically experienced during the Lenten fast. The cradles have been involved in the fast from their youth. Some have kept it well; some hardly at all. But they have an experience of it, and they know what it should be. It’s in their memory banks (and their cookbooks!). We converts, on the other hand, tend to start the long-distance race of Lent sprinting. That’s not the way to finish such a grueling race! I see the interacting balance working, and all are encouraged. More run the race to the end.
But balance is a two-way Street, and cradle Orthodox are balanced by converts too. Most people, for example, who grow up in an Orthodox church simply never think of sharing their faith with anyone else—even of inviting someone to attend their church with them. Most converts, however, are very comfortable with that and have done so much of their lives. With a mixture of cradle and converts, all are encouraged.
There is great value in “doing things as second nature,” as it were. Think of how much all of us have learned from our parents, our churches and our schools—ways we speak, things we do, how we drive our cars or decorate our Christmas trees, and how we meet and greet one another. In the “blend” church, so much is learned by converts, who quickly come to imitate those who grew up in the Faith.
Take the matter of “church etiquette” —things like how we enter the church, how we relate to icons and respond in the Liturgy, how we bake the Holy Bread, how we talk to a priest or greet a bishop—just to name a few items. As converts come to do these things the way they are modeled for them by the cradles, the latter often come to a new appreciation of why they themselves do these things. A reciprocity occurs here, and it’s healthy—to say nothing of saving time (and sometimes a good deal of embarrassment!).
3) Contagious Commitment.
Converts, just by their presence, tend to challenge all the people of a parish or mission to greater commitment to Christ and His Church. The fact of being a convert often implies a strong commitment to Christ. All, cradle or convert, who are committed to Christ, are a challenge to others to “commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God.”
But there’s also the “little” matters commitment that are affected in the blend. Getting to church on time, tithing (or least very significant giving), participation in the services, attendance at Vesper Matins, feast days—all are affected. A leavening occurs in the whole lump. Some cradle Orthodox may have developed some careless habits in these matters. The blend encourages all,
One final advantage of the blend model which is not to be overlooked is the ease with which we converts can be melded into the whole of the Orthodox Church—in our deaneries, our regions, our archdioceses, and the Orthodox world at large. The integration into all of these becomes normal and natural rather than traumatic.
The “suspicion factor” of converts is greatly reduced. The shock of the “ethnicity factor” is also diminished. Those gulfs have already been crossed, or at least addressed. And the “who-taught-the-converts factor” doesn’t even get consideration. The mix in the parish carries over into the larger Church to such an extent that acceptance of both cradle and convert is much more easily accomplished by all. Genuine Christian tolerance of one another and our respective backgrounds finds good soil for growth, because the cultivation has already begun.
These are not the only advantages, but they stand out as examples of how the house blend model can appeal to the many. Of course it is not the only model. It would be inaccurate and inappropriate even to say it is the best. No model is the best. All have their place, and all are needed. But the house blend must not be overlooked, and we will see more and more of these parishes as the distance in time and culture from homelands grows, converts increase in numbers, and Orthodox life grows stronger on this continent.
The Very Rev. Jon Braun is pastor of Saint Anthony Orthodox Church in San Diego. California.
Catholicity and “House Blend”
By Al Fragola
I read Father Jon Braun’s article “House Blend” with great interest. Fr Jon has made a most valuable point, but it is nothing new to Orthodox Christianity. Indeed, Orthodox Christians have professed a belief in what he wrote for nearly 1700 years – every time we say “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” Our Church is catholic, and has been since the time of the apostles.
as applied to the church, means the quality of being universal,
complete, and all-embracing. In Matt 28:19, Christ told the disciples
to “teach all nations”, not just specific ones. In
to my military career, I have had the opportunity to live in many
places, and thereby have been in a variety of parishes. Most of these
parishes sprung from ethnic roots, but not all. My wife and I have also
spent a considerable amount of time in “Orthodox”
the Orthodox Churches, our faith is one, we are all exhorted to lead a
Christian life and our worship is basically the same. The ethnic
customs of the people, however, vary from country to country. Orthodox
Christianity transforms and embraces ethnic cultures, but it does not
impose a monolithic ethnicity. Thus, in
As we witness our faith to
is imperative that we understand that the Church is not “ethnic”, only
its people are. All of us receive the heritage of our ancestors, but
when we speak in terms of our Church, Her “native land” is the
Catholicity means that we, as Orthodox Christians, must accept and encourage a variety of natural ethnic expressions with joy and love, to include American customs. There is a story about a parishioner of British ancestry who brought a baron of beef to the parish Paschal banquet. He was berated by several “cradle ethnic Orthodox” for bringing the “wrong food”! The parishioner said, “This is what I would serve to my honored guests at a wedding feast for my daughter, not kielbasa and beet salad! Does not the Paschal banquet also deserve what one would serve at a wedding banquet?” He was simply doing what came naturally to him. In contrast, at a parish composed almost exclusively of recent converts, I saw one young parishioner who had a sausage and pepperoni pizza in his Paschal basket. Everyone thought that it was a wonderful choice for him. Not only had he done without this, his favorite food, for many weeks, but, since it contained meat, cheese and olive oil, it was a perfect dish for ending the fast. What a truly natural expression.
How many times each year do we say the Nicene Creed? How frequently do we profess, “I believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” Our Church is one true Church. All Orthodox Christians are bound together in the true faith, regardless of location, language, jurisdiction or nationality. Our Church is holy. It is full of the grace of God, for Christ is in our midst. Our Church is apostolic. It is the Church founded by the Apostles, and is an uninterrupted continuation of that community of believers from apostolic times. And our Church is catholic. It is universal, complete, and all-embracing. While we regularly hear ourselves talk about the Church’s oneness, holiness and apostolic origins, how often do we really address the Church’s catholicity? Were we to truly fulfill our professed belief in this catholicity, Fr. Jon’s article and this one would never have needed to be written! After all, the Church Fathers expressed it so clearly in the fourth century.
is imperative that all Orthodox Christians in this country put this
stated belief of catholicity into practice and encourage a truly
American Church to evolve - an
Fragola is a member of St Andrew Antiochian Parish in Arlington, WA. He
was received into the Russian Orthodox Church at St Vladimir Seminary,
NY, in 1968. His military career moved him from place to place, and
thus, he was fortunate to worship in a number of parishes of the OCA,
Greek Archdiocese and Antiochian Archdiocese, from newly planted
missions to urban cathedrals. He wife and his wife were members of the
first class of students at the Institute for Orthodox Christian
By Father Joseph Huneycutt
I’m a Southerner. I was born and reared a Southern Baptist; educated as an Episcopalian, and converted to Orthodox Christianity a decade ago. Since then, I’ve been struggling to be Orthodox. As a missionary priest, I’ve also struggled to bring others to Orthodoxy in the South. More than anything, I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn. I’ve also concluded that Orthodoxy, in its plethora of jurisdictions, will have to learn some things, appreciate some things, about Southern Culture before ever being truly successful in bringing Southerners to the Faith.
I was reared in a small town near
jurisdiction ever sent missionaries to the South. Most Converts have
stumbled upon the Faith only after many years of searching. If this
were different, perhaps more progress would be apparent in bridging the
gap between East and South. Like St Innocent who helped convert the
natives of Alaska by "Incarnating" their native faith thereby bringing
them to Christ, would that someone had intentionally helped the South
to grow out of its native Protestantism into the fullness of the
Christian Faith. Instead, many of the "ethnic churches" resemble
Protestant churches with icons and the assimilation, at least with
church practices, has moved away from traditional Orthodox practice
toward Protestant norms. Such a vacuum allows Converts to flounder
toward the Kingdom while accumulating various practices from the
smorgasbord of Orthodoxy in
I have heard that the seminaries in
Face it, the smorgasbord of Orthodox jurisdictions makes absolutely no sense to most Converts. Finding the True Faith is encumbered by also finding a dozen administrative bodies claiming to be really it! I was once told by a monk "All monks are in communion with each other." Though said in jest, very much like a tightly knit ethnic community which fellowships within its own ethnic world, the same can be said of Converts -- the majority of which are in the South.
We Southerners have many weaknesses.
When I first became Orthodox in the Antiochian jurisdiction, someone suggested that I read a book entitled "The Arab Mind" to get a sense of my newly adopted church culture. The book claimed that, in Arabic, the root word for eloquence and exaggeration is the same. An Arab may exaggerate to show machismo. For instance, a man may shout across a street corner to another "I hate you." The other man replies, "I not only hate you, I’m going to kill you!" The man retorts "I’m going to kill you and your family!" Etc. These same men may later be found sharing a friendly meal together. Words fail me in describing how this same dialogue might have ended in the South. Put it this way, funeral processions still stall traffic in these parts.
Contrary to outsiders’ perceptions, Southerners do not put on airs. Though we may be hospitable, friendly, and civil, what you see is what you get. If we share openly with you, it means we trust you. Once you break that trust, it may be irreparable. All are welcomed here. Yet, we are easily offended. If offended, the offending party will be cut off till reparation. Our people-pleasing nature lends itself to over-sensitivity. It just comes with the territory. In the South, admiration comes easy, respect is earned over time.
Like all those outside
Southerners are self-effacing. We can take criticism if it’s properly couched in civility and/or humour. For us, if direct confrontation is necessary, things have already gone too far! Sometimes our neighbors to the North skip all the niceties and cut right to the chase. (Northern aggression continues.) And, since all the Orthodox jurisdictions hail from a different culture with the "home offices" up North, this element of cultural war persists within church dynamics. Brutal honesty is not only unwelcome but most often rejected in the South.
Before attending my first gathering of Clergy and Church Wardens in the
You yell at a Southerner and it may have eternal consequences. When we speak, all that’s required of you is to listen politely until it’s your turn. We don’t take kindly yelling, interruption, jeering, or public ridicule. We may not break bread with you until there’s resolution. You don’t have to agree, mind you. But, you must behave in such a way that assures civil discussion and debate. It may be that we take things personally. But, we operate on the assumption that you do to. Therefore, quite selfishly, the Golden Rule applies no matter what your rank or station.
Northerners are most often defined by their family’s nation of origin. This type of identification is foreign to the South. Here, folks are identified by their family name and/or their religious affiliation. I’ve often heard Northerners speak of someone as being Italian, Ukrainian, German, etc. Along with this description is the implied religion of those being described (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, etc). This is not the case in the South. Here, folks are defined by their religion: Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, Charismatic. So it is that Northern Orthodox are often amazed that Christians would intentionally convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. What an idea! Can you convert from Italian to German?
Folks in the rural South usually attend the church nearest their home. In the country, you’ll find mostly Baptists, Methodists, and Pentecostals. Towns will have Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches. And, here and there, you’ll find Lutheran pockets and an occasional Roman Catholic church. Latins and Lutherans may have a bit of a drive or live within a "family burb." However, Presbyterian and especially Episcopalian churches are populated with many who have "worked their way up" to that denomination. Your particular brand of Christianity may be a status symbol in the South. Unfortunately, viewed from such binoculars, Orthodoxy can seem a step down. Forgive me, but to a proper Episcopalian, Orthodoxy can seem down right barbaric!
When expected, don’t be surprised if a Southerner shows up early and leaves late. We don’t understand "Orthodox People Time." If you tell a Southerner that something starts at , he’ll most likely arrive at . We don’t want to miss a thing! We’re not only unaccustomed to the Orthodox habit of being late, we find it rude and uncivilized. Also, Southerners usually don’t leave without saying Goodbye, many times. This process of departing may take 30 minutes or better.
Southern culture is, at least, as relevant as other forms of ethnicity -- whether "Orthodox" or not. We Converts appreciate the foods and festivities of our adopted culture. But, must we discard our norms and ways and replace them with those of traditionally Orthodox lands? Fund raising’s fine, but what about tithing? Lamb’s good, but so is pork barbecue. Pascha and kollich is festive, but that first bite of pecan pie is just as heavenly. Can such Southern gatherings as Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, family reunions, BBQs, and oyster roasts be "baptized" into Orthodoxy? It’s too early to tell. Orthodoxy is new to the South. And it’s yet to be seen whether the two can melt into one God-pleasing flavor.
Converts have lots of extended family and friends that remain Protestant. Thus, most find themselves in awkward situations. Wednesdays and Fridays may not be as difficult to negotiate as is the Peter & Paul Fast or fasting for Easter and Christmas. I baptized a man who, for years, had hosted the family pig-picking on July 4th. Of course, that’s often a fast day. But that was his one big family obligation. I remember a couple that I’d chrismated and had moved away. The next major fast to come along, I called to see how they were doing. They, in jest I suppose, replied "Oh, we’re doing fine. We’re just eating over at our [non-Orthodox] friends’ each evening!"
The pendulum may swing otherwise. You’ve seen them: the "Orthodox Taliban." The man grows long hair and beard, forgets how to smile. The woman covers herself from head to toe -- her modesty smothers her dignity. They both stop bathing. There’s no visible joy in their life. Their wrists are covered with wool knots. They eat only broccoli; tofu is reserved for feast days. They begin shopping for a home -- preferably a tent or a lean-to -- out in the woods, sans the burden of electricity. These things may not be harmful in and of themselves. Yet oftentimes, when Converts confuse such "asceticism" with Orthodoxy, it can have dire results.
Through Catechism, reading of the Fathers, and other instruction, Converts fashion an ideal Orthodoxy toward which to struggle. Then, they might get to know some of the "Cradle Orthodox" only to be turned off. This can develop into a dichotomy leading to judgmentalism, Pharisee-ism, and a sort of Convert-Superior-Orthodoxy which is, needless to say, far from the ideal! We must all struggle toward the ideal in humility. Thanks to the lackadaisical piety of some Cradles, this can present a great challenge. To the eyes of the beginner, many Cradles seem lax in piety, dress, service attendance, fasting, and Orthodox zeal versus ethnic identity. These can be a great temptation.
So, what’s a Southern Orthodox Convert to do? Assimilation with the Protestant milieu is not an option. Been there, was that. Christianity plus icons and Typicon is not the answer. Why bother? Becoming a dirt-eating-tree-hugging Druid is not the way. I mean, really. Then again, these options are all alive and "well" within the Church. And that may be okay, as far as God’s concerned, but it comes close to grits without salt for a Southerner.
Thanks to the War Between the States and Reconstruction, Southerners have a strong distrust of outside authority. As the saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." There’s an underdog thread that binds us together. Yet when asked to perform a task by those in authority, one can bet it shall be done. We are teachable. However, all things must be in accord with proper respect. Our experience teaches that there’s virtue in losing when done graciously. Nevertheless, we have strong suspicions regarding authority. Those in positions of Orthodox leadership would do well to familiarize themselves with the norms of Southern behaviour and expectations. After all, if you are serious about evangelizing another land, which the South definitely is, you would do no less!
This is not to say that
the South should secede from the ethnic Orthodoxy of the North. Rather,
Southern Orthodoxy should be allowed to flourish with its own
personality and character with proper hierarchical oversight. Any
community that can appreciate this and encourage Southerners toward the
Kingdom within their own Southern culture will do well in making solid
Converts to the Faith in
Father Joseph Huneycutt is pastor of St Raphael Orthodox Church in
Visit Fr. Huneycutt at http://southern-orthodoxy.blogspot.com/
Letter to the ecumenical patriarch from Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow
September 18, 2002
We brotherly greet you, wishing you many mercies and blessings from our Lord and Saviour.
We have received Your Holiness’s letter No. 129 of
Indeed this canon defines the terms of reference for the Patriarchal See of the
the wrong interpretation here comes from a wrong treatment of the
expression “ev tois barbarikois” and the context associated with it.
This wrong interpretation presupposes that the question is not
barbarian people who lived either within or without the
is known, the term “barbaros” in the Hellenic and Byzantine eras
denoted representatives of tribes alien to the Greek language, culture
and traditions. Thus, St. Gregory of Nyssa in his third homily against
Eunomius speaks of “barbarian philosophy” (barbariki filosofia);
Eusebius of Caesaria mentions barbarisms in the Greek language, St
These “barbarians” could live both outside the
It is in this sense that this word is used in the canon of the
the interpreters of the canons, Alexis Aristenus, John Zonaras and
Theodore Balsamon just as the compiler of “An Alphabetical Table,”
Matthew Blastares, understand “en barbarikes” precisely as barbarian
people and only those who are placed under the jurisdiction of these
three dioceses. They underlined that barbarian peoples in other,
neighboring, dioceses were not subjected by this canon to the
It should be also noted that the canon does not speak of diaspora but the autochthonous “barbarian” peoples who did not live in diaspora but in their own lands. They embraced Christianity mainly as a result of missionary work, not brought it from their homeland elsewhere as in the case of diaspora. Therefore, to apply the canon, which implied autochthonous peoples who adopted Christianity as a result missionary work, to diaspora, which comprises those who left their homeland where they were raised in its Orthodox tradition, means at least a deviation from historical reality and a confusion of different notions.
the assumption made by Your Holiness that on the basis of Canon 28 of
the Council of Chalcedon ‘the terms of reference of the Ecumenical
the above-mentioned is confirmed also by historical facts showing that
until the 20s of the 20th century the Patriarchate of Constantinople
had no actual power over the entire Orthodox diaspora in the world, nor
did it claim this power. For instance, the Orthodox diaspora in
In case of
Jurisdictional pluralism emerged in
inclusion of new regions in the jurisdiction of the Holy Church of
Constantinople along with those adjoining the above-mentioned three
dioceses was not associated, in our understanding, with Canon 28 of the
Fourth Ecumenical Council. It was rather a consequence stemming from
completely different reasons of
is an authentic pan-Orthodox tradition in this matter, and the Holy
Church of Constantinople used to observe it without fail until the time
when Patriarch Meletius IV invented a theory of the subjection of the
entire Orthodox diaspora to
the above-mentioned, we can with reason challenge Your Holiness’s
assumption that the Exarchate of Russian Parishes in
for the statements His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and
Kaliningrad made during his visit to Paris (February 10-12,2001) which
Your Holiness mentioned, this matter was already discussed during the
regular round of negotiations between the Patriarchates of
Constantinople and Moscow on April 19, 2001, in Zurich and in
Metropolitan Kirill’s letter to Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia
(No. 2062, July 17, 2001). In
The Orthodox diaspora is one of the major questions of inter-Orthodox relations. Its complexity and unsettled nature has generated serious complications in relations among Churches and has certainly weakened the effectiveness of Orthodox witness in the world today. Nevertheless, we firmly hope that through consistent and persistent efforts Local Orthodox Churches will ultimately find an agreed pan-Orthodox solution of this problem at a Holy and Great Council of the Eastern Orthodox Church. All the more heavy, therefore, appears the measure of historical responsibility for actions aimed against achieving a God-pleasing agreement on this key question.
Therefore, for the benefit of both pan-Orthodox unity and the Church of Constantinople so dear to us through centuries-old historical memories, we call upon Your Holiness to hearken to the injunction of the holy fathers in Canon 8 of the Third Ecumenical Council: “Lest the Canons of the Fathers be transgressed; or the vanities of worldly honour be brought in under pretext of sacred office; or we lose, without knowing it, little by little, the liberty which Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Deliverer of all men, hath given us by his own Blood”. In the spirit of faithfulness to the patristic tradition, we ardently and very sincerely ask Your Holiness to renounce the frame of mind obstructing the achievement of longed-for harmony and move to actions which will really speed up the convening of a Great and Holy Council. As a helpful step on this way, we may consider, for instance, the implementation of the agreements on the Estonian problem, which have already taken so much effort to develop.
Asking God to grant Your Holiness peace, health and long life, we once again embrace you in brotherly kissing and remain with invariable love and respect in Jesus Christ,
here for a copy of the "Report to His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos
Concerning the Future Theological Agenda of the Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese" submitted to the 30th Biennial Clergy Laity Congress, July
1990, Washington DC