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ROCOR and OCA


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#1 Shawn Lazar

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 03:47 AM

Hi all,

Please forgive me if this topic was discussed elsewhere. Now that ROCOR has rejoined with the MP, and the MP recognizes OCA autocephaly, why isn't ROCOR a part of the OCA? It would seem we should, no? Or is the OCA just a tad too liberal for ROCOR bishops and priests to accept at the moment? And is that even a good reason for remaining apart?

Cheers,
Shawn

#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 04:44 AM

Please forgive me if this topic was discussed elsewhere. Now that ROCOR has rejoined with the MP, and the MP recognizes OCA autocephaly, why isn't ROCOR a part of the OCA? It would seem we should, no? Or is the OCA just a tad too liberal for ROCOR bishops and priests to accept at the moment? And is that even a good reason for remaining apart?


The simple answer is that ROCOR is part of the Russian Church, not the American Church. In gaining its autocephaly from the Russian Church, the OCA now has no administrative tie to the Russian Church and no claim on parishes of the Russian Church. ROCOR is now and has always been a part of the Russian Church and the OCA in separating from the MP also separated herself from ROCOR. If the OCA were an autonomous part of the Russian Church (as ROCOR is at present) then there might be some grounds to suggest that ROCOR should become part of the OCA - for both would be subsets of the Russian Church. But the OCA is autocephalus not autonomous. The OCA is no longer a part of the Russian Church but is its own entity and therefore has no part in ROCOR or the MP.

The exact relationship between ROCOR and the OCA still has to be defined and there is a Synodal commission under the chairmanship of Bishop George of Mayfield which is in the process of doing just that. Right now, the work of that commission is still in the beginning stages and so there is nothing really to report, but watch the ROCOR website as well as the Holy Trinity Monastery website and when there is news, it will be published there asap.

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#3 Ryan

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 04:29 PM

For ROCOR to merge with OCA, I think it would have to be established first that North America is the OCA's canonical territory. I'm not sure if there's anyone aside from the OCA who would say that at the moment.

#4 Father David Moser

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 03:11 AM

For ROCOR to merge with OCA, I think it would have to be established first that North America is the OCA's canonical territory. I'm not sure if there's anyone aside from the OCA who would say that at the moment.


Metropolitan Jonah does not make an issue of the "exclusivity" of territory - just listen to his speech at the Summer St Vlad's conference (on the Ancient Faith Radio website)

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#5 Cyprian (Humphrey)

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 04:51 AM

As an OCA person, who is extremely appreciative of ROCOR's steadfastness, I feel it needs to be pointed out that being 'in communion' with is not the same as being administratively 'assimilated'.

Plus, the organization that ROCOR re-united (I know that term might be debated, and I ask forgiveness for my imprecise language, and I welcome correction - be it: reunited / re-establised communion with / re-recognized each other / ended a temporary separation with / etc.) with was the Moscow Patriarchate, not the OCA. It's just that since the Moscow Patriarchate was 'in communion' with the OCA, ROCOR became 'in communion' with the OCA by default, but certainly not administratively unified with the OCA.

However, I've been led to believe (and I could be wrong!) that a similar question is being asked within ROCOR. Since they are a "daughter" of the Russian Church, and the OCA is a "daughter" of the Russian Church, and they are both (more or less, since ROCOR has establishments in Europe and Australia, but they are admittedly mostly North American) in the same geographical area as the OCA, why don't they look towards administrative unity with the OCA.

The same question could be asked why the GOA (or any number of canonical jurisdictions in North America!) is in communion with the OCA, but is not administratively united with them.

The overlapping jurisdictions in North America is a problem that is (believe it or not!) in truth being worked on at the highest levels. It's also being worked on at the grass-roots level too. I know of OCA parishes and ROCOR parishes that simply aim towards different people groups within the same geographical area (e.g. ROCOR focusing on Russian emigres and OCA focusing on converts) and they consider themselves as working in harmony with each other.

Now, if I may be permitted to express a personal opinion, a very probable reason why the various jurisdictions don't simply unify and solve this not so terribly canonical situation is due to something as silly as egos. If one were to erase all the jurisdictions in North America, and re-draw all the diocesan boundaries, and appoint bishops for each of them, there is a very good possibility that there are a few bishops who are currently bishops of huge portions of territory (an ecclesiastical version of a Grand Pooh-Bah - to use a Flintstones reference), might end up a second vicar-bishop to someone else. They are likely terrified of that outcome. I am not throwing accusations at anyone, but simply pointing out that the maintenance of overlapping jurisdictions is likely due to fear, more than anything else. But that is my *personal* opinion, and there is no reason for anyone to take that as truth.

We should keep praying for our bishops as well as praying for administrative unity amongst the Orthodox in North America (and a few other places, like western Europe and Australia - forgive me if I missed any area with overlapping jurisdictions!).

Just my two kopecks. Forgive me if I've offended you.

#6 Shawn Lazar

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 06:09 AM

I bring up the question only because it seems a little contradictory for the MP to simultaneously affirm OCA autocephaly, and yet not have ROCOR churches in America come under OCA jurisdiction. But I understand that such things take time to come about.

For other jurisdictions, who don't recognize OCA autocephaly, well, that's a whole different ballgame.

#7 Anthony Stokes

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 01:01 PM

I bring up the question only because it seems a little contradictory for the MP to simultaneously affirm OCA autocephaly, and yet not have ROCOR churches in America come under OCA jurisdiction. But I understand that such things take time to come about.

For other jurisdictions, who don't recognize OCA autocephaly, well, that's a whole different ballgame.



Actually, that is closer to the real technical problem with all of this. The Tomos of Autocephaly for the OCA states that the MP can't found any new parishes in the US, and that the 20 or so that existed should eventually become part of the OCA, which hasn't happened. I guess the main point is that the MP didn't really "found" the ROCOR parishes in the U.S., so they wouldn't fall under that directive, I guess. Plus, ROCOR isn't only any American church, nor are all of their bishops in America.

Sbdn. Anthony

#8 Max Percy

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 04:56 PM

I bring up the question only because it seems a little contradictory for the MP to simultaneously affirm OCA autocephaly, and yet not have ROCOR churches in America come under OCA jurisdiction. But I understand that such things take time to come about.

For other jurisdictions, who don't recognize OCA autocephaly, well, that's a whole different ballgame.


It does seem a bit of a mixed signal.

It seems as if there is almost a gathering up/strengthening of affiliations on the part of both Moscow and Constantinopole

#9 Priest Seraphim Holland

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 06:15 AM

I bring up the question only because it seems a little contradictory for the MP to simultaneously affirm OCA autocephaly, and yet not have ROCOR churches in America come under OCA jurisdiction. But I understand that such things take time to come about.

For other jurisdictions, who don't recognize OCA autocephaly, well, that's a whole different ballgame.


The MP did not "affirm" OCA autocephaly - they bestowed it. At the time they did it, ROCOR and the MP were not in communion at the episcopal level. This was when the MP was under the captivity of communism. since ROCOR was a lawful local church (existing in obedience to the ukaz of Patriarch Tikhon), the bestowal of autocephaly had absolutely no affect on their functioning.

An actual contradiction is that the MP continued to have parishes in the Americas AFTER autocephally. I think this shows that even the MP did not take autocephally complely seriously.

#10 Michael Stickles

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 12:12 AM

I think it's important to not underestimate the power of inertia.

While the names and such have varied, in essence the OCA has existed as an identifiable entity for over a century (and has been autocephalous for nearly 40 years), while ROCOR can be traced back over 80 years. Their formations, concerns, trials and so on have differed from each other, greatly in some areas. These things are part of the historical identity of each group, and that identity has a fair amount of "weight", or inertia. It is not something that can be "moved" easily.

My personal belief is that unity of the Orthodox churches in America will primarily come about organically, instead of by determinations of councils or synods. We already have a great deal of communal unity. My wife and I have seen it firsthand, having been welcomed to the Eucharist in Greek, Serbian, Antiochian, Carpatho-Russian, and ROCOR parishes, as well as other OCA parishes. Clergy from different jurisdictions regularly concelebrate. The Ukrainian and OCA parishes in a town near my son's college held a joint liturgy this weekend. None of this, I think, is unusual, but rather the norm (at least, I hope so).

If we have patience, I think we will eventually see a council or synod which, in "establishing" a unified Orthodox church in North America, really only recognizes and provides for the structure of something which had already been created by the people in their love for and unity with each other. It probably won't come quickly or easily, and we can expect some turbulence. But I believe it will come.

In Christ,
Michael

#11 Rdr. Andrew

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 02:50 PM

I have read from a truly wise monk (who I was blessed with the opportunity to meet) whose stance is that the American jurisdictional issue will begin to work itself out as Orthodoxy in America transforms from a "mish-mash" (as he puts it) of different cultural practices and takes on a feel that is truly a part of the native American psyche. Right now, it seems, Greeks don't want to stop being anything but Greeks and Russians, Russians and so on and so forth. But as time passes and more and more generations of American Orthodox Christians assimilate their Orthodoxy with their Americanism, the differences will begin to fade.

A passage that, God willing, will add something to these interactions. Forgive me for their length:

"This is why our mission in America is mostly among the intellectuals. But this could be looked at as progress because among them there are theologians and professors who are truly American - they were born here and are with each generation more removed from the culture their forefathers knew. They will express Orthodoxy according to the mode in which they are living now. This gives specific character to American Orthodoxy; it will never be like in Russia or Romania or on Mt. Athos. Perhaps American Orthodox monks will not live the same mystical harmony of the monks in the Carpathian Mountains; Romanian spirituality will never be planted here. Eastern European can contribute to the formation of American Orthodoxy, but it will never be the same. I believe that God has a plan for American a new form of Orthodoxy. This does not mean that it will not be authentic, but it must be American, just as Orthodoxy in Russian, Romania or Bulgaria is not exactly the same. It is Orthodoxy, but it is molded to each country's own ethnic culture. Why should we deny the American people the right to develop their own Orthodoxy?"

and later...

"The fact that Americans have money and enjoy a high standard of living should not come as an obstacle. We can from poor countries, and for use money is more of a temptations than for Americans. They understand that money is functional and useful for the church. I think that America is the most charitable country in the world. Look at the American Red Cross; they have huge airplanes, equipped with everything - food, medicine, etc. - waiting for a disaster to occur anywhere in the world. We have spirituality in Russia, Romania or Greece, but I assure you that this kind of airplane does not take off from Moscow or Bucharest."

and finally...

"We must show wisdom in how we train these people as Orthodox. God wanted Americans to have the mentality they have. We must preach our Orthodoxy in a capitalist, utilitarian, pragmatic world. This is all I can say."

Quotes from Fr. Roman Braga, Abbot of The Dormition of the Mother of God Monastery in Rives Junction, MI, from Exploring the Inner Universe (HDM Press), Pg 87-90.

#12 Kosta

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 06:09 PM

Interesting excerpts. I too think the jurisdictional issue will work itself out in time, but I dont believe now is that time, and to be honest I dont think the american bishops want it in this point in time either.

#13 Isaac Crabtree

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 07:53 PM

I can tell you that ROCOR, in my own opinion based upon my perception of the values of its clergy and laity, would not allow itself to be subsumed within the OCA as it exists in its present state. If the OCA were to resume the uniform celebration of the old calendar, impose some sort of Eucharistic discipline on the faithful (I'm only speaking from my limited experience as an OCA parishioner for three years), and stop communing "Oriental Orthodox" (a practice I have observed, alas, in Greek, Antiochian, and OCA parishes), and affirm the Anathema against the Branch Theory... then I think our hierarchs might consider it.

#14 Father David Moser

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 08:16 PM

Isaac,

I can tell with utmost certainty that the OCA has no desire to assume ROCOR and ROCOR has no desire to take in the OCA. No one in any kind of a responsible position on either side has any desire for such a merger to occur. We are very different entities and even some of the things you cite above will not change that. AFAIK (and in this case that's pretty far) none of the ROCOR hierarchs are even entertaining the idea of entertaining the idea of such a thing.

Fr David Moser

#15 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 11:16 PM

The OCA is in no position to "subsume" anybody and I doubt Metropolitan Jonah would even consider such a thing likely or even desirable. I don't think "subsuming" is on anybody's agenda. The idea is not a Borgian assimilation, but a union that respects our cultural diversities; a synod probably not too far removed from the ROCOR model with a few tweaks to accommodate a much larger group of bishops. That is what the EA is trying to come up with.

#16 Max Percy

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 09:42 PM

The OCA is in no position to "subsume" anybody and I doubt Metropolitan Jonah would even consider such a thing likely or even desirable. I don't think "subsuming" is on anybody's agenda. The idea is not a Borgian assimilation, but a union that respects our cultural diversities; a synod probably not too far removed from the ROCOR model with a few tweaks to accommodate a much larger group of bishops. That is what the EA is trying to come up with.


Isn't more likely that any such move would be orchestrated by Moscow as it seems to be ordering its children in the apparent real politik struggle with the EP for the shape of Orthodox order?

#17 Isaac Crabtree

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 03:50 PM

Yes it would be nice for Moscow to say something like, "You know, we really shouldn't have given Autocephaly to 20,000 former Uniates and their immediate descendants... We revoke it and OCA has to be run by ROCOR." So be it, Lord!

#18 Father David Moser

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 04:21 PM

Yes it would be nice for Moscow to say something like, "You know, we really shouldn't have given Autocephaly to 20,000 former Uniates and their immediate descendants... We revoke it and OCA has to be run by ROCOR." So be it, Lord!


Not gonna happen for so many reasons, not the least of which is the relationship between Moscow and Constantinople - Moscow isn't going to give up that particular bargaining chip. And Moscow couldn't say that anyway since ROCOR is internally self governing, Moscow can't just tell us what to do in that manner. (They can suggest, they can tell others to seek us out, but they can't just say - "OK now you have to take these guys.")

Fr David Moser

#19 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 09:31 PM

Also if the MP-ROCOR unification is a pattern that will set a precedent for what will occur in the future, than any unity among us will happen only insofar as this acknowledges the distinct realities of each of our churches. In other words a unity which tries to swallow up other churches into one particular group or vision of the Church is a complete non-starter. This is borne out from most all of the Orthodox clergy I have heard from- including a local Orthodox metropolitan who made a public statement exactly to this effect from the amvon- 'no melting pot unity'.

As for greater unity among us. Personally I greatly look forward to this. Unity with the MP has done only good things for our own parish as well as more contacts with the other Orthodox clergy.

However it is my thought- again by looking at the MP-ROCOR talks as precedent- that this unity in the above described form will only take place insofar as those with greatest responsibility for the church on its local level believe that continuing in the present situation is untenable or not canonical. But the contrary then is also true- if it is still felt that the present situation is tenable and canonical then the need to move towards some other canonical arrangement in regards to each is not necessary. Each parish and diocese and jurisdiction already feels self sufficient and thus unity is only theoretical and possibly even harmful.

For myself then I think it's best then just to watch. Our parishes are after all Orthodox as part of Christ's greater Church. We certainly have enough responsibility to keep us busy. So only insofar as the balance swings towards a growing feeling that the present situation is really untenable (and I'm not saying that it is- I'm just watching like when our church began speaking about unity with the MP) will unity on the larger scale in N America occur.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#20 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 09:47 PM

As for the MP-EP dispute. My thoughts are very similar to the above. Each church feels that they need to hold to certain principles necessary for maintaining themselves but which do not allow for greater unity between them at the present. Maybe this comes from having contacts with priests from both the Russian and the Constantinople orbits- but I understand where each is coming from and don't really see their positions cynically. Each genuinely is trying to defend what they believe is crucial to the identity of their respective churches.

Any unity then will have to take these two realities into account. And unity will only occur if a canonical way is found to accommodate the essence of these differences.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael




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