Readers may be interested to read the following two columns from 2005, written by Theophilus Eardwine and appearing on the OrthodoxyToday website. Both are notable in that they deny the commonly held notion that pre-1921 Orthodoxy in America was united under the Russian Archdiocese, something that in 2005 was unthinkable in many circles. The first column is a response to a 2005 article by the now-retired Bp. Nikolai (Soraich) of Sitka, while the second is a more generally addressed column.
- Sobornost: Uniting Orthodoxy in America, February 19, 2005
- De-Mythologizing American Orthodox History, July 22, 2005
The second column is incorrect in at least one point: Germanos Shehadi was not sent to the U.S. by the Antiochian synod in Damascus, but was here on his own recognizance, eventually staying against the express wishes of the synod.
4 Replies to “Two Columns from 2005”
See my post #5 under “Not Quite SCOBA,” with the report of Archb. Meletios to the CoG, where he claimed that Antioch asked permission for Met. Germanos. Given that the rest of the report is demonstratively false in other respects, take it with a grain of salt: Meletios could be twisting facts to make his case.
A couple of points on the second article, and its source:
“Of this total of 29,019 in the lower 48 (not all states at the time, of course), only about 27% are Russians. The rest are mainly ex-Uniates”
So that means the Russian Archdiocese wasn’t just interested in chaplaincy, but in actual mission/evangelization. We know that.
“In Alaska, there are 1,891 “Indians” (not sure what that means), ”
There are records of Orthodox Amerindians coming from around Fort Ross and settling there. There is a report of St. Sebastian Dabovich (the first American born priest of parents from one of the Mother Churches) around the same time as the CE article which mentions his previous travels finding such Amerindians still in Alaska. On Alaska, the CE article says:
‘The Report on Education for 1903 (2352-53) enumerates in Alaska thirty schools, with 740 pupils, and adds that there are sixteen parishes in Alaska with 10,225 parishioners. The Czar still maintains a salaried hierarchy there, but his influence is destined to dwindle away before American missionary endeavors. ”
Such, of course, didn’t happen to the Orthodox (although the Czar by the time of the article had ordered that the Churches commemorate the President of the US, not his Imperial Majesty). The Orthodox Church is the largest in the state.
“The Serbs are described as being “closely affiliated” with the Russians, though not as “under” them.” He ignores that St. Sebastian Dabovich is cited by names as setting up the first Church, and he was very much in the Russian Archdiocese. And that the Serbians were canonically released by the Russian Archdiocese to the Church of Serbia.
“Meanwhile, there are 130,000 Greeks in the US in 1909, and their clergy are subject not to the local Russian bishops (as is usually alleged), but rather to the Churches of Constantinople or Greece.”
That’s not all it says:
“This circumstance and the fact that a part of the Greeks come from the Turkish Empire and the other part from the Kingdom of Greece have given rise to many dissensions and prevented the nomination of a Greek bishop for the United States, neither the patriarch nor the Synod wishing to cede such an appointment to the other. On the other hand, they both decline to admit or recognize the authority of the Russian bishops here. ”
This shows a couple of things: the Greeks had no bishop, both the CoG and the EP claimed jurisdiction (as they did in Greece at the time too, particularly in Northern Greece, the “New Lands.”), and “the churches are in the main governed by the lay trustees and particularly by the president of the board.” And in the Churches mentioned by name, we know elsewhere that they were preceded, and set up in opposition to, the Russian Archdiocese. Such a protestant, schismatic and uncanonical mess is supposed to vitiate the fully functioning Russian Archdiocese? It didn’t in the EP’s own patrichate (and yes, the parrallels did exist, for instance in Macedonia) didn’t invalidate his All Holiness, why should it invalidate the Russian Archbishop?
“Even the description of the Syro-Arabs in the US at the time describes them not as being “under” the Russians, but as having been “assisted” by them in building churches and missions”
Not quite. It describes Antioch back home as “the Patriarchate of Antioch, which just now is quasi-schismatic towards Constantinople but closely affiliated with Russia.” The reports of St. Raphael arrival make it clear he was released from Antioch to the Church of Russia, and was consecrated by the Russian. Why the present day author speculates that the Syrians weren’t satisfied with the Russians I don’t know. Back in the Patriarchate of Antioch, Russian aid was determinative in returning the Patriarchate back to the Arab Faithful (the EP and the other Greek Phyletists, throwing a tantrum over that, is why Antioch was “quasi-schismatic,” accoring to the Phanar’s line). The request for St. Raphael was perfectly in line with what the Russians had been doing for the Arab Orthodox back home. The remark about Met. Germanos has already been corrected.
“The Bulgarians are noted as being under Constantinople, the Romanians under Romania, and the Albanians under the Greeks.”
No, that is not what it says:
“Bulgarian immigration into the United States has only recently been in any considerable numbers. While the majority come from the Kingdom of Bulgaria, a great many are also from Macedonia, in Turkey. They dislike the Greeks very much, and while the Turkish contingent of them is nominally under the Patriarch of Constantinople, they recognize only the Exarch of Bulgaria” which, of course, according to Constantinople was in schism and condemned as heretical. As the CE notes in its article on “Greek Church”:”With all the Orthodox churches, except the Bulgarian exarchate and the Syrian Patriarchate of Antioch — both of them considered schismatic for substituting a native episcopate to a Greek one — the Greek Churches are on terms of union arising from a common faith and a common orthodoxy.” So, as far as Constantinople was concerned the Bulgarians in America were as schismatic as those in Bulgaria (an opinion that the Greeks would hold to for nearly another 4 decades)
On the Romanians:
“They are also under divided jurisdiction, those from Rumania being under the Holy Synod of Rumania and those from Transylvania under the Metropolitan of Hermannstadt.” What is now the Patriarchate of Romania, in Romania, was divided into no less than 4 jurisdictions (and there is still a remnant of the Serbian jurisdiction to this day in Romania), and they had claims in at least five other Autocephalous Churches in the Old World. It would, therefore, be hard to disqualify the Russian Archdiocese in North America, without disqualify the Romanian Church, and the Russian, Serbian, CoG, Bulgarian and Constantinople Churches. And the first Romanians came from Bucovina, which, as the article points out, were under the Russian Archbishop. It is elsewhere stated that the primate of Bucovina (at the time autocephalous) refused to send a hiearchy, but defered to the Russian Church.
On the Albanians:
“In February, 1908, the Russian Archbishop of Aleutia and North America ordained the Rev. F. S. Noli, a young Albanian, in New York City as an Orthodox priest and established him as missionary for his people in the United States. The Russian Holy Synod has taken steps on his initiative towards translating the Greek Liturgy into Albanian.” This mission to the Albanians, now the Albanian Archdiocese of the OCA, gave birth to the Church of Albania.
“The idea of Russian jurisdictional hegemony in America prior to either of these events is clearly a myth.” Yes, but the problem is that the jurisdictional hegemony of ALL the Mother Churches in the OLD World is also a similar myth.
Contemporary sources plainly state that the Greeks had been under the Russians until they became numerous enough to brake off, and that the Serbians, Arabs/Syrians, and Albanians were under the Russian Archbishop. In 1908, the Canadian government recognized the Russian jurisdiction.
“Patriarchate of Russia, which had effectively claimed ecclesiastical annexation of all American lands by virtue of its having been first (though even that is debatable, considering that there were non-Russian parishes established in the United States before there were Russian ones and that Alaska didn’t become American territory until 1867”
What he refers to here is somewhat a mystery. The first claimed Greek Orthodox Church now is Holy Trinity in New Orleans, which was first set up by a Greek Counsul in New Orleans, and served by a Ukrainian priest who left to go demand an antimens from the Russian Bishop in SF. This was actually, it is claimed, predated by a Church in Galveston, which sent for a priest from the bishop in Alaska. Said Church’s pastor, Archm. Theoclitus (a Greek), was present for the consecration of St. Raphael’s Church (later Cathedral).
I don’t know of any Church in the lower 48 that predate these, except Holy Trinity Chapel at SF (c. 1825), the remnants merging into what became Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Russian Archdiocese in SF. That parish was founded as a permanent parish in 1864, and held its first Pascha service in the home of the Greek Consul, the Serb George Fisher, with the chaplains of the Russian Navy.
Is he speaking of New Smyrna? That was Greek, but Uniate, not Orthodox (when the population was returned to Spain, they expressed their gratitude to be again under his “most Catholic majesty.”). The only priest was a Latin rite one, and although it is important for the Vatican’s history in this country, it disappeared without an effect on Orthodoxy in this country (until the Greeks had to outdo the Russians. Early sources on Greeks in America make no deal about it). And in any case, was predated by the Aleuts baptized, e.g. by the trader Stepan Glottof c. 1758-65.
New Orleans and Galveston were technically in the Confederacy, and Florida wasn’t in the US at the time. The remnants of the Holy Trinity Chapel at Fort Ross and its incorporation in a benevolence society in 1857, served by Russian navy chaplains, was not only in the US, but in a US state, and was the mother Cathedral in 1870. So I’m not so sure the 1867 date makes a difference. 1870 is LONG before any appreciable numbers of “poarchers” showed up.
“The idea that missionary pioneers can make claims to new lands unilaterally is attractive to Americans, as it reminds us of the establishment of our own nation, but is it really the Orthodox tradition? History seems to be on the side of those who would seek the whole Church’s consent rather than acting on their own. There are, after all, autocephalies and autonomies that are now in the historical dustbin, and their commonality is a lack of support from the Church. There are also independent churches who have faced extinction numerous times yet remain, supported by the Church.”
HIGHLY misleading. Not only is history not on the side of “those who woud seek the whole Churche’s consent,” neither is the canonical traidtion. The Pedalion, written around the time of the founding of the American Mission and around the time of the CE article the height of canonical authority (still is in some circles), St. Nicodemos interprets canon 28 specifically saying that the EP got jurisdiction over Russia derived from them bordering Thrace, a diocese united to Constantinople when its Patriarchate was created (and Constantinople stands as the first created autocephalous Church). And then there is the fact that all the territory of the Balkans had been unilaterally taken from iconohile Rome by the iconoclast emperors and given to their iconoclast EPs. The whole Church certainly didn’t agree to that.
Can he be more specific on which autocephalies are in the dustbin, because of lack of support from the Church? I know of none. And those independent Churches facing extinction, but saved by support of the Church, I know only Constantinople, and perhaps Jerusalem. The Phanar tried to extinct the Churches of Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania.
“No matter which side one takes in terms of whether American jurisdiction rightfully belonged to Russia, the historical reality is that the vast majority of Orthodox in America did not recognize the authority of the Church of Russia years prior to the events of the Bolshevik Revolution.”
This is important only if you say schismatics can dictate jurisdiction. Even by their own standards, the Greeks (that “vast majority”), they were condemning their other half as uncanonical (until 1908), had no episcopal oversight (according to the canons, no bishop, no jurisdiction) and were finally organized by a deposed archbishop and a defrocked bishop, their charter granted by a patriarch whose election was denounced by all (except, ironically, the Russian Archdiocese) as uncanonical. Why I should put this (and the EP’s Chief Secretary himself denounced these roots as irrregular) on a par with a canonical Holy Synod is beyond me. If I cared about numbers, I’d submit to the Vatican.
“There was not and probably in any real sense never has been jurisdictional unity in America.” Please show me, according to these standards, where there was jurisdictional unity in the entire Orthodox World, including Constantinople?
“Even as of now, the Orthodox Church does not, as a whole, recognize America as belonging to the normal, canonical territory of any autocephalous or autonomous church.”
Except for Rome and Alexandria (and NOT excepting Constantinople), name an Autocephalous Church in history about which this could not be said.
And so yes, the history of Orthodoxy in North America is messier than the textbook says. But that is also true of the Mother Churches.
“Where does that leave the American Orthodox Christian? For now, he remains under his bishop, whether that bishop is near or far, native born or immigrant, an English speaker or in need of an interpreter. He also remains, through his bishop, in communion with the rest of American Orthodoxy and of the whole Church.
The upshot of all this, however, is that American Orthodox unity cannot come about if we falsify or gloss over its historical realities, jockeying for historical primacies of canonical jurisdiction, pioneerism, or strength of numbers. Rather, we must face our mutual history, come together as Orthodox Christians, and seek with the whole Orthodox Church a unification of our administrations in our country. Only with the whole Church’s consent will we be able to have a stable, unified Orthodox Church of America. As we do so, we must come out of our factions and ghettos, meet the Orthodox Christians around us, and work and worship together in love and with a catholic vision in humility and self-sacrifice.”
I wish it were that simple. However, it is not. We have a primate who wants to go down the same path as Old Rome, not satisifed with being primus inter pares, he needs to become the protos uber alles, defining the Orthodox Communion, as attempted at Ravenna, as those in communion with the EP. No, I am not in communion with Eusebius of Nicomedia, Eudoxius, Nestorius, Sergius, Anastasios the Iconoclast nor John XI Bekkos. Given the chorttling on this issue in some quarters, I’m afraid I am with Ajalat’s fear that Chambesy is all about whose name tops the letterhead.
Why and how the future of Orthdooxy in North America can or should be beholding to 14 independent schedules is also beyond me.
I’m afraid the first article, like the second, beats the OCA with a yardstick not applied to the other Autocephalous Churches. Dare I say, it fell from someone’s eye.
To start from the end:
“Reading Bishop Nikolai’s own testimony of coming to terms with the need for Orthodox unity in America is genuinely inspiring, and everything that I have heard of His Grace is that he is a good shepherd to his flock. But let us be honest: the last time a major question on the unity of the Church was approached primarily from the angle of submission to one church structure, we ended up losing the entire West. And none of us should be lost. Not one.”
Unfortunatey, I am afraid that is exactly what is afoot from Chambesy, a stealthy neo-canon 28 scheme which the slip of the lip of the Chief Secretary of the Phanar revealed:”With regards to the United States, the submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only fitting with the American society and mentality but also it opens up the horizons of possibilities for this much-promising region, which is capable of becoming an example of Pan-Orthodox unity and witness. ”
“There are essentially two ways to unite Orthodoxy in America. One is to form a new church structure, disbanding all the current structures. The other is for all existing church structures to be disbanded except for one, to which all the others must then submit.”
What of the option of them all uniting, which Chambesy promises (no, as shown above, I don’t believe it)? A point I will return to.
“First, the autocephaly of the OCA, as a monastic friend of mine says, “didn’t work.” Only a few small jurisdictions in the US gathered around the OCA’s banner, but the majority of American Orthodox Christians remained under the omophoria of their traditional foreign churches. One can speculate as to why this might be, but what is known is that it was accomplished without the agreement of all those other Orthodox Christians in America.”
I am rather amused by those who will say unity will happen in God’s time and then will turn around and condemn the OCA for not solving the jurisdictional mess in its 39 years. I laugh, because I know history:
Constantionople became autocephalous in 381, but didn’t get its territory and jurisdiction spelled out until 450, i.e. 69 years later. And even then there were battles with Rome (whose recognition of Constantinople itself was also weak) over the Balkans persisted for centuries, as the fight over the Bulgarians, over four centuries later, shows. And that the EP is arguing with the CoG over Northern Greece, going to the point that the EP presumes to excommunicate the Archbishop of Athens, shows that its jurisdictional battles continue.
Antioch never got its jurisdiction rights all recognized. Instead part of it was ripped off and given to Jerusalem, Cyprus was recognized as autocephalous (something Antioch continued to fight for 13 centuries). Antioch did have the foresight, however, to grant autocephaly to Georgia, nearly two centuries after its founding.
Jerusalem for nearly four centuries was outshone by its suffragan Caesarea, had to disgorge territory back to Antioch, and had its diocese of Sinai given autonomy verging on autocephaly, all within the first century of its undisputed autocephaly.
Russia claimed its autocephaly when it would follow Constantinople in submission to the Vatican.
The Church of Serbia was suppressed a couple of times, dismembered, and took 41 years to fully reconstitute itself, if you don’t look at the jurisdiction battles that went on with the CoG, Bulgaria, the EP and Romania, and in the Czech and Slovak lands, and continue now in Macedonia.
Romania was supressed with the Trnovo Patriarchate. It took over a century for them to get rid of the at least 5 foreign jurisdictions on Romanian soil and unite the 3-4 Romanians ones into the Patriarchate (the second largest we are in full communion with) we know today.
Bulgaria, like Serbia, was suppressed a couple times and dismembered. It took 82 years to restore the Patriarchate as we know it (btw, over the EP’s repeated objections). It still has its problems with the EP, CoG, Serbia and Romania as to jurisdictional details.
Georgia was abolished and absorbed by Russia for over a century. On March 3, 1990 the EP recognized the autocephaly that Antioch had given her daughter in 486 (note: after Chalcedon and hence canon 28).
Cyprus, 50 years after the Third Ecumenical Council recognized (note: not grant) its autocephaly, still had to defend it. It had to be rerecognized less a century later as a Church in Exile (an early example of ROCOR), transferring its priviledges to its haven in the shadow of Constantinople. Over a millenium after that it still had to defend its rights. In the mess that led to the rise of Meletios (a favorite character here), the Church of Cyprus had been reduced to two bishops (flattered as metropolitans) who fought for a decade over the archbishopric, bringing all the other Orthodox into their battle.
The CoG took nearly a century to get its act together, and even then (as the “excommunication” of the Archbishop of Athens by the EP shows) its not over, nor its jurisdictional disputes with Albania, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. And that’s not even bringing up its mischief in North America, Mount Athos or the Old Calendarists.
It is interesting that the EP saw fit to grant autocephaly to Poland in 1924 (though denying it to the Albanians, where it was also a minority Church) over the objections of the Mother Church of Russia, which reasserted its authority and forced the EP to recognize Poland’s autocephaly on Moscow’s terms in 1948, 24 years later.
The Church of Albania was actually born in Boston in 1908, by the Russian Archdiocese. It took 29 years to bring the EP around.
Serbia had jurisdiction in the Czech lands, and in Slovakia they looked to Russia, but the EP decided to interject himself. The CS Church got autocephaly after 33 years in 1951, but of course, it took the EP another 47 years to reconcile himself to that.
So, a few things stand out (or should): the myth of American unity is FAR less mythological than the myth (verging on untruth) that autocephaly and jurisdiction was achieved with the agreement of all those Churches involved, let alone the whole Church. Except for Alexandria, and NOT excepting Constantinople, such was never the case. Recognition, again Constantinople NOT excepted, did not take place overnight, but averages a half century, if not centuries. What is rathr unique in the OCA case, is that the Mother Church granted autocephaly. Usually, again Constantinople NOT being excepted, the daughter takes it and begins to create facts on the ground to sustain it.
So the OCA has quite some time to go before its obituary is written.
To be cont…(after Vespers :))
“Also, with autocephaly also traditionally comes a territorial claim. Even the choice to name their church as “in America” rather than “of America” is evidence that the OCA never pressed that claim, and the OCA no doubt did so probably because such an act would have alienated the many Orthodox on this continent who did not wish to submit to the OCA. Pressing the claim probably would have resulted in a break in communion between the OCA and most of the Orthodox world.”
I rather like the “in” as opposed to “of,” like being in the world but not of the world. The “of” Churches are plagued with phyletism, why exaserbate that problem?
“To this day, only the Churches of Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Georgia, and the Czech Lands and Slovakia recognize the autocephaly of the OCA”
LOL. To this day only only 80-85% of the communicants of the Orthodox Church recognize the autocephaly of the OCA.
“That means that out of fourteen autocephalous churches (not including the OCA), there are only five who recognize the OCA’s claim…”
No, there are five who recognize it outright.
Two, Antioch and Serbia have to admit it implicitly, as they freely admit that their own jurisdictions in North America stem from the OCA’s predecessor, the Russian Archdiocese. Another, the Church of Albania has to adm it for the simple reason that the Albanian Archdiocese of the OCA was not only the Mother Church of the Albanian Church, but during the dark days of communism the Archdiocese of Boston was THE Albanian Church. The Romanians didn’t get organized until the outbreak of WWII. When the Communists tried to suppress the Romanian Episcopate, it united with the Metropolia, and it has been with the OCA ever since. The attempted merger of Bucharest’s exarchate with the Romanian Episcopate highlights the odd relationship with the OCA.
That leaves the Greeks: Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Greece and Cyprus, or >10% of the total Orthodox, as the only ones adamently opposed to the OCA’s autocephaly. Of this, several things can be said:
The GOARCH now officially claims its origins, besides the uniates of New Smyrna, from the New Orleans Church. But the New Orleans Church was founded by the consul of the Kingdom of Greece, served by a renegade Ukrainian who left to get an antimens from the Russian bishop of SF, and then by a priest from Greece. The problem, according to the Greek party line itself, this was totally uncanonical: only the EP had jurisdiction, not the CoG (which wouldn’t change until 1908) according to the present theory expoused. The same with the first Greek parishes in Chicago, New York, etc…
When the deposed Meletios was “elected” EP, and gave the charter to the defrocked bishop Alexander for the Greeks of North and South America (how’s that for planting a flag), Constantinople (which had judged his election null and void, and cabled him not to come), Alexandria, Jerusalem, Greece and Cyprus stated that they would not recognize him. He was recognized only by the OCA bishops. Irony.
These were the same Churches which denounced Antioch as schismatic when the Antiochians, horror of horros, became masters of their own house. If I in Antioch couldn’t and shouldn’t care less what the Phanariot Phyletists thought of the native Antiochian patriarch, why could or should I care how they grind that ethnic axe in North America?
Given the scandalous strangle the Phanariots have on Jerusalem, I’m afraid not much stock can be put in its opinion on much of anything.
Alexandria, Jerusalem and the CoG evidently do not consistently hold the EP’s line (which underpins the rejection of the OCA), as they founded jurisdcitions in the “diaspora” and Pope Meletios, then primate of Alexandria, saw no reason to get the OK from his successor as EP to expand his jurisdiction over All of Africa.
Much more could be said, but shouldn’t be necessary.
So that leaves 6 recognizing the OCA, 4 neutral (but beholding to the OCA) and 5 opposed, the 5 opposed however not agreeing on anything else but their rejection. And only the EP and Cyprus agreeing on the interpretation of canon 28 which underpins that rejection.
“None of the four ancient patriarchates recognizes the OCA’s autocephaly”
Georgia is ancient. More ancient in fact than Constantinople. And it recognizes the OCA. And Antioch recognized the jurisdiction of Russia over North America, when it released St. Raphael to the Archdiocese. The EP waited 15 centuries to recognize Georgia (I don’t know about the other Greeks). I don’t think that affects the Church of Georgia one bit.
“Further, it was extremely unlikely in 1970 that the other jurisdictions with a major American presence would hand over their parishes to a church structure which had for years been in virtual schism from its mother church. The granting of autocephaly by Moscow fell right on the heels of a process of rapprochement, and the OCA’s credibility hung by a fairly thin thread. Many Orthodox Christians in North America had been accustomed to staying away from the Metropolia (as the OCA had been known until 1970), just as many steer clear of the various Old Calendarist jurisdictions now.”
Perhaps true, but again that is not without precedent:the CoG went from excommunicate to the firmest ally of Constantinople in 1850. When “Arbch.” Meletios came to organize North and South America, he expected the other jurisdictions to submit to him and ignore the fact that he had been deposed by the CoG.
It is ironic that the very act of which some denounce as uncanonical (the Tomos of Autocephaly) is also the act that established communion (there has been no question of the OCA being in communion, as opposed to the murky status of the Metropolia as mentioned above). It is also common knowledge that the Metropolia approached the EP, and were told that they had to approach their Mother Church (Russia) to solve the problem.
“Whatever the canonical rights or traditions with regard to the grant of autocephaly to the OCA, the existential reality “on the ground,” so to speak, is that it is not autocephalous in the way that any of the rest of the world’s autocephalous Orthodox churches are.”
Neither, according to the criteria used here, was Czech and Slovak lands until 1998 nor Georgia until 1990 (i.e. after 15 centuries). Indeed, with the situation over the “New Lands,” neither is the CoG still. Nor is some ways, being in such a precarious state at present, is the Church of Albania or even Constantinople itself. This is not to mention the 74 years the Church of Bulgaria spent in the wilderness.
“It has neither the recognition nor the reality. The overwhelming majority of the Orthodox Christians of America remain outside its omophorion, and they’re not going to go under it just because the OCA says it should.”
Throughout history, as seen above, and the present day even, such can be said of the other Churches, the history of the CoG being a perfect example.
“it internally violates traditional ecclesiology by having three ethnic dioceses with their own bishops, whose territory thus overlaps with other OCA diocesan bishops.”
Not unprecedented: for one thing, the barbarian ethnic dioceses in the dioceses of Thrace, Pontus and Asia that canon 28 talks about, along with the Cyprus Church in exile in Constantinople’s patriarchate.
“The third claim on our list above is that the OCA is to be regarded as the rightful successor to St. Herman. There are problems with this claim, as well. The OCA as we now know it is actually not largely the result of the Russian missions in America. Rather, the OCA’s main bulk is the successor to the Uniate conversions led by St. Alexis (Toth) of Wilkes-Barre.”
This borders on the silly:Constantinople as we now know it is actually not largely the result of the mission of St. Andrew. Rather Constantinople’s main bulk is the successor to the imperial patronage of St. Constantine and the iconoclast emperors. Does that some how diminish Constantinople’s Apostolic roots (and of the Apostolic sees, Constantinople is the least Apostolic, not being greater in reality than say, her daughter Romania and especially less than her daughter CoG)? Not if you look at the EP’s take on things.
“There are two other groups of parishes which can claim direct descent from the Russian presence in America, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate parishes. Besides those, some 30 parishes currently in the Antiochian Archdiocese were founded (by St. Raphael of Brooklyn) as part of the Russian mission.”
The Moscow Patriarchal parishes, as is clear from the Tomos, are subordinate to the OCA’s claims (evident, for instance, by the requirement that Moscow will release them only to the OCA, which has happened with many of them, and the order now to commemorate Met. Jonah along with Pat. Kirill). ROCOR doesn’t claim to be derived from the mission to America: it claims to be descended or actually the Historic Russian Church. And he is right about St. Raphael. That’s why the OCA was the Church who canonized him. Not Antioch.
“Besides all that, St. Herman’s authority, while spiritual and glorious, was not episcopal. He was never a bishop, nor even a priest. His presence in Alaska did not establish any canonical ecclesiological precedent for America.”
The problem is that St. Herman was part of a mission sent by the Holy Governoring Synod to set up the Orthodox Church in North America, the same Synod ordering St. Herman’s colleague, Josaphat, as bishop of Kodiak, but who died at sea before taking up his see. St. Herman served as the living link to St. Innocent, whom the article next mentions:
“It would be much better to look to saints like Innocent, Tikhon or Raphael to set about the establishment of this precedentbut of course none of those saints is associated with the autocephaly of the OCA, and none of them can be a symbol of American Orthodox unity the way St. Herman can”
What an incredibly odd things to say. St. Innocent did take up his see at Sitka, and his line continues to this day, through San Francisco to New York to Met. Jonah. St. Innocent further established the OCA’s claims by, in his pastoring of his mission, going all the way down and serving at Holy Trinity Chapel at Fort Ross (the oldest Orthodox Church in the lower 48, preceding the New Orleans parish by decades) and even visting the SF Latin Mission. I think somewhere here we have his thoughts on the Mission when he had become Metropolitan of Moscow (a precedent that his successor both in America and in Moscow, St. Tikhon, who is VERY much associated with the autocephaly of the OCA, followed). St. Tikhon oversaw the transfer of the see from SF to NY, the elevation to Archdiocese status, the replacement of the Czar in commemoration by the President of the US, the founding of auxiliary dioceses and the consecration of the first bishop in the New World, St. Raphael.
St. Innocent and St. Tikhon of course are symbols of American Orthodx unity: during their episcopate, they were the only Orthodox bishops in the New World, whose mission included their personal presence in down in SF in the case of St. Innocent, and practically the whole continent in the case of St. Tikhon.
One of the most touching signs of that continuity and unity is that when St. Tikhon arrived in New York, the speaker greeting him on behalf of the diocese mentioned the suffering of the Orthodox in Alaska (the “Orthodox Tlingit Chiefs” had sent, with the blessing of St. Tikhon’s predecessor, demands to the US President that their rights established by treaty be respected as “we know that the Czar did not sell us as slaves, but left us with rights which the US Congress has made firm). St. Tikhon traveled from New York to Alaska, where, when he first came to the Old Sitka Cathedral, the Eagle rug put out for him was the one that St. Innocent’s daughter had woven for him when he was consecrated as bishop for Alaska.
St. Raphael’s consecration, of course was not only a sybmol of independence-a autocephalous Church consecrates its own bishops-but of unity: it underlined that you didn’t have to be Russian to be in the Archdiocese, just Orthodox.
Honestly, I am rather baffled by the statements made against the OCA in this paragraph above.
“It was a good step for the OCA to canonize St. Herman when it was granted its independence by Moscow, but doing so did not give it any sort of exclusive claim to his legacy.”
Well, yes, actually it did, something not missed by ROCOR when it simultaneously (as the claimed Church of Russia) canonized St. Herman as well. A contrast would be, say St. John Kuchurof. At his canonization, I was at Holy Trintiy Cathedral in Chicago, which he served as the first rector. Despite that fact, the OCA didn’t have the right to canonize him, as he did return to Russia where he became the proto-neomartyre. And of course the OCA exclusive claim to St. Herman’s legacy also comes from her exclusive possession of his relics.
“The fundamental problem with Vladyka Nikolai’s argument finds its expression in his rejection of the Ligonier meetings. I agree with His Grace that the repudiation of the agreements at Ligonier and the subsequent failure of the meetings to accomplish American unity (which was not, it must be said, their premise) are a disgrace.”
Here (finally!) I have to whole heartedly agree with that author. Indeed, if Chambesy can be moved towards Ligonier, then there is hope. We do need “more purpose going in and more resolve going out.” I like the idea of the meeting at Kodiak (I’m not sure SCOBA will change its May plans, or if the EP would let Archb. Demetrios hold it there: Kodiak does, after all, undercut New Smyrna and canon 28). And yes, support for the Mother Churches should continue, including Constantinople.
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