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REPORTS OF OCA GIVING UP ITS AUTOCEPHALY ARE UNFOUNDED, SAY OCA HIERARCHS

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The Orthodox Church in America will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its autocephaly next year, with several events dedicated to the anniversary throughout America. Its tomos of autocephaly, granted by the Moscow Patriarchate, was signed by His Holiness Patriarch Alexei I and the 14 hierarchs of the Holy Synod in Moscow on April 10, 1970.

However, rumors and reports of the OCA’s plans to forfeit its autocephaly have been fairly commonplace in the past few years. While all Local Churches recognize the OCA as a true Orthodox Church, currently only the Russian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Polish, Serbian, and Czech and Slovak Churches recognize its autocephaly. Thus, there are those who believe the OCA would give up its autocephaly to “normalize” its situation.

Most notably, the Patriarchate of Constantinople refuses to recognize the OCA’s independence, arguing that it alone has the authority to grant autocephaly. Thus, the OCA was not invited to participate in 2016’s “Great and Holy Council” on the island of Crete.

More recently, the primate of the OCA, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of America and All Canada concelebrated with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in Cappadocia on the Sunday of All Saints in June this year, which, along with the OCA’s stance against the schismatics of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” led to accusations of “back room deals,” though, as OrthoChristian reported, sources involved in the trip denied these rumors.

Having been in Cappadocia when Archbishop Elpidophoros was enthroned in New York as head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Met. Tikhon instead paid his first visit to the new Archbishop at the Archdiocesan headquarters on Wednesday.

The next day, a report appeared on the blog Monomakhos entitled, “Breaking: The OCA to go under EP!” with reference to two sources claiming that the OCA “has been in negotiations to cede its autocephaly and go under Istanbul.”

“One source says that this is ‘a done deal,’ the other says that negotiations are ‘ongoing,’” the report reads, adding that the OCA could either become a vicariate of the Greek Archdiocese or America, or receive an impaired form of autocephaly, such as the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” received from Constantinople in January.

However, as with the rumors surrounding His Beatitude’s trip to Cappadocia, OrthoChristian has been assured by multiple sources within the OCA administration that the Church has no such plans to give up its autocephaly.

One such source, His Eminence Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey, the Secretary of the OCA Holy Synod, assured: “The OCA is not giving up its autocephaly— it will be celebrating the Golden Jubilee of getting it next year ... a number of times and in a number of places: May (South Canaan), August (Alaska), and November (Washington DC). There will be symposia on the history of it, the meaning of it and the future of it, etc.”

“As the Secretary of the OCA Synod of Bishops, I know of no such movement ... and I know of no such intention by His Beatitude (or any of our hierarchs),” His Eminence added.

Moreover, the OCA’s administrative organization would seem to effectively preclude any such secret deals. The Statute of the OCA defines the Church as autocephalous: “The Orthodox Church in America is an autocephalous Church with territorial jurisdiction in the United States of America and in Canada.” And while the Holy Synod of the OCA holds competency over “All matters involving doctrine, canonical order, morals, and liturgical practice,” it is the All-American Council that possesses the authority to “Adopt and amend the Statute.”

The All-American Council is convened periodically, normally at intervals of three years, as per the Statute. Its members include the hierarchs, clergy, and lay representatives. The last All-American Council was held in St. Louis, Missouri last year.

***

Update: His Grace Bishop David Mahaffey of Alaska has also responded to the rumors, on his Facebook page, stating: “Beloved in the Lord. There is a very vicious rumor being circulated ... concerning the status of the OCA that is completely false. I will not even mention the rumor here because I will not be fuel it any further, but suffice it to say, IT IS COMPLETELY FALSE.”

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ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM

The Orthodox Church in America will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its autocephaly next year, with several events dedicated to the anniversary throughout America.

 

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    • Од Ромејац,
      Hierarchs and laity from the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” are currently on what was advertised as “the first great pilgrimage to Greece after the recognition of our Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Greek Orthodox Church.”
      The trip is scheduled for November 9-15, and was originally to include visits to Holy Trinity Monastery on Aegina, where St. Nektarios’ relics repose, the Monastery of St. David of Evia, the relics of St. Alexei the Man of God, St. Philaret the Merciful, icons painted by the Evangelist Luke, the relics and cross of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle, and more.
      There were also statements that the hierarchs hoped to serve at the holy sites. However, according to media reports, that hope has not been realized, reports the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
      Ironically, the two “hierarchs” in question are the only two bishops to have departed from the canonical Ukrainian Church to join the schismatic OCU, Simeon Shostasky and Alexander Drabinko. Had they remained in the canonical Church of Christ, they would have been welcome to serve the Liturgy.
      Although the majority of Greek hierarchs spoke in favor of recognizing the OCU at the Bishops’ Council on October 12, and although Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens has officially recognized the schismatics, not everyone in the Greek Church is ready to open their arms to the OCU, knowing that this will only exacerbate inter-Orthodox relations.
      Although the OCU representatives had announced that they planned to concelebrate on the island of Aegina for the new calendar feast of St. Nektarios of Aegina, the program was changed, and they did not even visit Aegina, the Ukrainian Church site reports with reference to social media reports.
      His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye also mentions that the schismatics were not allowed to venerate the relics of St. Nektarios.
      It was recently reported that Metropolitan Ephraim of Hydra, Spetses, and Aegina had reportedly asked the OCU hierarchs not to serve in the monastery, as many of his clergy were against it, and he wanted Holy Trinity Monastery and the relics of St. Nektarios to remain accessible to everyone.
      As the Ukrainian Church site reports, the Telegram channel Pravblog reports that a similar situation with the services occurred in Patras. It was previously reported that the local faithful in Patras intended to prevent the schismatics from entering their Church of St. Andrew.
      In connection with the protests of local clergy and changes in the schedule, the delegation went to the Monastery of the Annunciation in Nea Makri, but Shostasky and Drabinko were not allowed to serve there either at the Sunday service, though they were allowed to remain in the church.
      Schismatic hierarchs reportedly not allowed to serve Liturgies during pilgrimage to Greece
      ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM In connection with the protests of local clergy and changes in the schedule, the delegation went to the Monastery of the Annunciation in Nea Makri, but Shostasky and Drabinko were not...  
    • Од Ромејац,
      According to the Greek outlet Romfea, the hierarchs of the Church of Cyprus were surprised by Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria’s decision to begin commemorating Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” and asked him not to commemorate the schismatic during his current visit to the island nation.
      The Patriarch arrived on Cyprus on Saturday, November 9, for the celebrations in honor of St. John the Merciful, the patron saint of Limassol. He first commemorated Epiphany and announced his recognition of the OCU just the day before.
      His decision caught many by surprise, as he had been a friend of the canonical Church in Ukraine until Friday. In September 2018, he even traveled to Odessa for the purpose of encouraging the faithful to remain in the canonical Church under their beloved canonical hierarch His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
      As recently as late June, Metropolitan Meletios of Carthage of the Patriarchate of Alexandria traveled to Kiev to celebrate Met. Onuphry’s name’s day, and declared that he had the full support and love of Pat. Theodoros: “We have come on behalf of our primate and our Church to witness our love for his Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, and I want to convey our love, respect and fraternal wishes on behalf of the Pope and Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and all Africa to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry. Patriarch Theodoros very often speaks about the asceticism, about the prayerfulness of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, whom the entire Orthodox world knows.”
      “Our presence here means nothing more than the support of your canonical Church, the manifestation of which will be our unity at the Eucharistic Chalice during the Divine Liturgy,” Met. Meletios stressed.
      The celebrations in honor of St. John today and tomorrow in Limassol, where there is a significant Russian population.
      The request to refrain from commemorating Dumenko came especially from His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, in whose metropolis the celebration will be held.
      This information was also confirmed by the Orthodox blogger Alexander Voznesensky, whose sources informed him that Pat. Theodoros’ visit to Cyprus was agreed upon in advance, but following his decision to enter into communion with schismatics, some of the hierarchs have refused to take part in the service with him in Limassol, and Met. Athanasius has asked him not to commemorate Dumenko.
      His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye of the canonical Ukrainian Church also mentions on his Telegram channel that a number of clergy in Cyprus are no longer willing to serve with the Patriarch.
      In February, the Cypriot Holy Synod issued a statement pointing to several problems with the schismatic OCU. However, Met. Athanasios did not sign the statement, as he believed it was too diplomatic, and did not strongly enough express support for Met. Onuphry.
      His Eminence Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkos also issued a strongly-worded statement, emphasizing that it is impossible to have communion with un-ordained schismatics.
      Cypriot hierarchs ask Patriarch Theodoros not to commemorate Epiphany Dumenko in their churches
      ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM The hierarchs of the Church of Cyprus were surprised by Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria’s decision to begin commemorating Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox...  
    • Од Ромејац,
      Met. Chrysostomos of Dodoni (right) with Pat. Bartholomew (left)
       
      Several Moscow Patriarchate hierarchs and clergy went on pilgrimage recently to the Greek Ionian Islands, where they had a chance to meet with the Greek hierarchs of Zakynthos and Dodoni and to discuss current Orthodox events.
      During the course of the conversation, His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Dodoni expressed his views on the Ukrainian issue, revealing the influence of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s particular understanding of the issue on certain hierarchs in the Greek Church.
      On Sunday, September 15, His Eminence Metropolitan Isidore of Smolensk and His Grace Bishop Seraphim of Bobruisk of the Belarusian Exarchate and two accompanying priests were warmly welcomed at the Monastery of Strofades and St. Dionysios in Zakynthos by His Eminence Metropolitan Dionysios II of Zakynthos and His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Dodoni, formerly the hierarch of Zakynthos, reports nyxthimeron.com.
      After visiting the sepulchral church of St. Dionysius, the guests toured the ecclesiastical museum, exchanged gifts, and were served a rich meal, during which Met. Chrysostomos, who has served as a bishop since 1976, expressed his nostalgic love for the two former Patriarchs of Moscow, with whom he had close ties, as well as several other historical figures of the Russian Church.
      However, the metropolitan revealed another attitude towards the Russian Church when the guests broached the topic of the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. “With the boldness that distinguishes him, [he] pointed out that any problem could have been raised and solved at the Holy and Great Council of Crete (2016) if the Moscow Patriarchate had not refused, with various excuses, to attend, thereby sabotaging unanimity and unity, and even compelling other Churches. This is because Russia always has aspirations of being ‘Third Rome,’” nyxthimeron.com reports.
      Whether Met. Chrysostomos has simply grown fuzzy on the details in the years since the Council or whether he was intentionally distorting the timeline is unclear.
      The Bulgarian Orthodox Church announced on June 1, 2016 that it would not attend the Council; the Antiochian Church announced on June 6 that it would not attend; and the Georgian Orthodox Church announced on June 10 that it would not attend. Only after these three Churches had withdrawn did the Russian Church announce that it could not attend.
      Moreover, the Churches did not simply withdraw, but rather called for the council to be postponed so that their respective issues could be addressed. The Moscow Patriarchate specifically proposed holding an emergency pre-conciliar session for just this purpose, but Patriarch Bartholomew refused to do so, choosing instead to plow ahead with the council without full pan-Orthodox unity.
      While the Patriarchate of Constantinople blames the Russian Church for influencing the other Churches to withdraw, this has always remained groundless speculation, as are paranoid fears of a “Third Rome” ecclesiology. A position of respect for the other Local Churches allows them to speak for themselves, and each of the Churches expressed their own seriously-considered reasons for withdrawing from the Council.
      And despite Met. Chrysostomos’ contention, the Ukrainian issue would not have been addressed at Crete even had the Russian Church attended, as Pat. Bartholomew publicly acknowledged already in January of 2016 that it was not on the agenda. The official agenda for the Crete Council was published on January 28, and also did not include the topic of autocephaly and how to grant it.
      Pat. Bartholomew has referred to the fact that autocephaly was not dealt with at Crete to justify his claim to the right to grant autocephaly whenever to whomever, wherever.
      Meeting with the Russian hierarchs, the Metropolitan of Dodoni also stated that every nation has the right to self-determination and to Church autocephaly. Recall, however, that the Patriarchate of Constantinople claims large chunks of Greece for itself, thus there are two Local Churches operating within one nation.
      Met. Chrysostomos also noted that autocephaly is typically given by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as was the case with Russia, Greece, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. It should be noted, however, that those territories were within the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople before they received autocephaly, whereas Ukraine has not been part of Constantinople for more than 300 years. Moreover, the Georgian Church received its ancient autocephaly from the Patriarchate of Antioch.
      Concerning the Russian clerics disquiet concerning “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko, Met. Chrysostomos again insisted that everything could have been settled if not for the Russian Church’s efforts to “torpedo” any pan-Orthodox council. Recall that His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, and many other primates, hierarchs, and Synods, specifically called upon Pat. Bartholomew to summon a pan-Orthodox council to deal with the Ukrainian issue, and Pat. Bartholomew flatly refused, citing the failure of the Crete council.
      The Greek hierarch also criticized the Russian Church for ceasing Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, though reports did not mention if he detailed how he thinks a Church should respond to another Local Church non-canonically invading its territory and setting up schismatics as a new church.
      Met. Chrysostomos concluded with a very revealing remark, noting that the Church of Greece is of the same ethnicity and race as the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and thus it is inconceivable for it not to align itself with Constantinople.
      The Greek metropolitan is echoing the sentiment of Pat. Bartholomew and the Patriarchate of Constantinople with such remarks. Certain Greek and Ukrainian media outlets have repeatedly framed the Ukrainian issue as “Russia vs. Ukraine”
      or “Russia vs. Constantinople,” rather than considering it through the lens of Orthodoxy.
      In October of last year, Pat. Bartholomew himself declared that “Our Slavic brothers cannot tolerate the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our nation in Orthodoxy,” and “Whether our Russian brothers like it or not, sooner or later, they will follow the decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarch, because they have no other choice.”
      A similar attitude was displayed recently when Metropolitan Ephraim of Hydra, Spetses, and Aegina threatened to canonically punish three clerics who had written a letter of support to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. Viewing the matter as one of ethnic enmity rather than one of holy Orthodoxy, the metropolitan interpreted their support for Met. Onuphry as a declaration of loyalty to the Moscow Patriarchate, rather than as the declaration of loyalty to the sacred canons of which they wrote.
      Such an attitude stands in stark contrast to that of many other hierarchs, including His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who recently spoke of how the Serbian Church is autocephalous and equal to all the other autocephalous Churches, as racial or ethnic superiority has no place in the Church of Christ.
       
      Greek hierarch: We are the same race as Constantinople, we must side with the Patriarchate
      ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM Several Moscow Patriarchate hierarchs and clergy went on pilgrimage recently to the Greek Ionian Islands, where they had a chance to meet with the Greek hierarchs of Zakynthos and...  
    • Од Ромејац,
      While Patriarch Bartholomew and other representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople have repeatedly stated that politics played no part in the decision to create the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) and grant it a tomos of autocephaly, Makary Maletich, the head of one of the two schismatic bodies that united into the OCU, contradicts this assertion, confirming the decisive role played by the U.S. and other Western secular powers.
      In a new interview with the Ukrainian outlet Channel 24, Makary Maletich states that were it not for the support of the U.S. along with Germany, France, and the UK, Pat. Bartholomew would never have dared to give the tomos.
      Maletich was once a priest of the canonical Ukrainian Church but went into schism in the late 1980s, joining the so-called “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church,” a group of self-consecrated “bishops” wholly lacking of any claim to Apostolic Succession, where he eventually became the presiding “metropolitan.”
      He was received into the Patriarchate of Constantinople on October 11 as a preliminary step towards Constantinople’s creation of the OCU in December. At that time, the Synod declared that it was lifting the anathemas from Philaret Denisenko, the head of the “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP), and Maletich, although the latter had never been placed under anathema in the first place.
      In the run-up to the creation of the OCU in December and the granting of the tomos in January, Makary several times voiced his doubts that the unification between the KP and the UAOC would happen, given Philaret Denisenko’s unwavering self-interest. In this latest interview, he also notes that he specifically warned the initiators of “Ukrainian autocephaly” that “the union of all the churches into one Local Church is risky business.”
      As he notes, there were those supporters of a new Ukrainian church, but also many opponents. “Therefore, Poroshenko paid for it in the elections, when supporters of the Moscow Patriarchate voted against him,” Makary said.
      Besides those Ukrainians who have remained loyal to the Orthodox Church, several Local Churches had already expressed their disapproval of Constantinople’s unilateral interference in Ukraine, even before the rehabilitation of Philaret and Makary and the creation of the OCU.
      While Makary gives much credit to Poroshenko, he clarifies: “It is not only the merit of Poroshenko, but also the Verkhovna Rada, Ukrainians themselves, and the diplomats of the U.S.A., Great Britain, France, and Germany, who were interested in the church.”
      Maletich is certain “that if the Ecumenical Patriarch had not seen the support in the leading states of the world, he wouldn’t have done this. Then neither Poroshenko, nor the Rada, nor Philaret, nor I would have done anything.”
      He spoke of the influence of foreign diplomats in December, on the eve of the “unification council” as well, though at that time he mentioned only that they had spoken with him and Philaret to discern if they were ready to receive a tomos.
      The new head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Archbishop Elpidophoros, received U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback in his office recently, thanking him for the U.S.’s support for the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Ambassador Brownback and Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt (former Ambassador to Ukraine) have been actively meeting with religious figures in the Greek Orthodox world, trying to shore up support for the OCU, which is thus far entirely lacking in the Orthodox world.
      As for Philaret and his recent actions—reviving the KP and rejecting the tomos—Makary stated: “Let him go, build and restore the Kiev Patriarchate… When he goes and again forms a schism, then Philaret will die in schism.”
      The former UAOC head also repeats that both the KP and the UAOC continue to exist from a legal standpoint, “but in fact, they no longer exist because a single Orthodox Church of Ukraine has been created.”
      http://orthochristian.com/122123.html
    • Од Ромејац,
      The Primate of the Alexandrian Church, Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and All Africa, in his interview to the newspaper “Ethnos”, for the first time takes a stand on the issue of granting Autocephaly to Ukraine.
      Speaking about the attitude of the Archdiocese of Alexandria on the issue of the Autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church, the Patriarch of Alexandria has clearly pointed out that he has lived the pain and schism of the Ukrainian Church, but he knows very well “the Russian Church as well, because I was nurtured there for ten years and the Patriarchate of Alexandria has emotional bonds with it”.
      He acknowledges, however, that there is a huge problem, that of the Autocephaly, which “Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had the right to grant” but he clarifies that what has divided the Churches is the people who took the status of Autocephaly.
      He revealed the initiative of Archbishop of Cyprus to meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch so as to ask for a meeting between Bartholomew, himself and the Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow. “Every problem has its solution. Our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is the Patriarch of Romiosyne, who we all respect and love. Do not forget that this issue is not a dogmatic one. There is a solution to the issue of Autocephaly”.
      He also added that there will soon be a new meeting in Nicosia with the participation of the Patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria and the Church of Cyprus.
      “I think a solution can be found, if we let aside our personal issues and consider the interest of the Church” he characteristically said.
      For the new Archbishop of Australia, Makarios, he stresses that “I know him since a kid, I love and appreciate him. I am glad that Elpidophoros is going to America, and that in France there is another Archpriest from Crete, Emmanuel”.
      With regard to his work on the African continent, Theodoros stresses that the biggest challenge he faces in performing his duties is poverty: “Man is no longer happy; there are no smiles and joy anymore. Today affluence is an end in itself, so I see sad faces. However, in my own field of action, which is mainly Black Continent, I do meet happy people”.
       
      https://www.romfea.news/patriarch-of-alexandria-there-is-a-solution-to-the-issue-of-autocephaly-of-ukraine/?fbclid=IwAR00B2TPNUMIQ09D2DQartYny0ioiGv88fmlrbBkZNbpBlm76CdOmNK4dlk#utm_source=fb&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=15.6.patriarch-of-alexandria-there-is-a-solution-to-the-issue-of-autocephaly-of-ukraine&utm_term=15.6.patriarch-of-alexandria-there-is-a-solution-to-the-issue-of-autocephaly-of-ukraine

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