Wednesday, September 26, 2018

OCA Primate calls for pan-Orthodox synaxis over Ukraine

(OCA) - On Wednesday, September 26, 2018, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon addressed an Archpastoral Letter to the clergy, monastics and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America in reference to recent developments with regard to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

The text of the letter, which reads as follows, is also available in PDF format.

Archpastoral Letter of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
in Reference to Recent Developments
Regarding the Orthodox Church in Ukraine

To the Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

Christ is in our midst!

I write in reference to recent developments respecting the Orthodox Church in Ukraine which have received much media attention. The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America has been closely following these developments inasmuch as they have an impact in our own communities. Many of our parishes have been affected by the painful historical ecclesiastical divisions that have existed in Ukraine for decades. In recent years, these ecclesiastical divisions have been overtaken by significant violent geopolitical conflict and our Church has consistently called for the offering of prayers for the healing of such division and the peaceful and just resolution of all conflict.

Our Holy Synod has been apprised of initiatives by His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, to address this painful situation and has noted the various preliminary responses offered by other Orthodox Churches. In particular, we have received with sorrow, yet with understanding, the decision of the Moscow Patriarchate to cease liturgical commemoration of the Ecumenical Patriarch and suspend concelebration and participation by bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate in inter-Orthodox contexts.

We are deeply aware of the pain and trauma in the life of Orthodox people caused by ecclesial schism which weakens Orthodox witness and evangelism in society. Such pain and trauma have been wounds in the life of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine for several decades. Schism, division, and mutual antagonism are not only canonical problems—they are pastoral and spiritual challenges demanding the healing power of Christ and Christian faith. We are mindful of the Russian Orthodox Synod’s call to the local autocephalous Churches to “understand the common responsibility for the fate of world Orthodoxy and to initiate a fraternal all-Orthodox discussion of the church situation in Ukraine.”

The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America supports the need for regular dialogue at every level and appeals to all local Orthodox Churches to address the current crisis in Ukraine through the convening of a Pan-Orthodox synaxis, or similar conciliar process, wherein an authentic solution can be found to this problem. We are prepared to participate in such fraternal discussions and will be reviewing the on-going developments of this situation at our Fall Session.

In the meantime, we call on our clergy, monastics, and faithful to offer their support and fervent prayers for His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onufry, and all the bishops, clergy, monastics, and faithful of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. May the Lord grant them continued strength and wisdom in their endeavor to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Relying on the healing power of Christ, we exhort all in the Orthodox Church in America to be steadfast in faith, hope, and love, maintaining collaboration and eucharistic communion with both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Moscow, thus offering a sign of unity in the face of current threats to unity.

May our Lord Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Spirit of Truth, grant to all parties the wisdom, peace, and humility to solve the problems that exist in Ukraine, so that working in unity all may turn their energy and attention to the singular and true mission of the Church, the preaching to the world of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All American and Canada


  1. Excellent letter. Well done, Vladyka Metropolit!

  2. Replies
    1. I am still a bit weary of the phrase "ecclesiastical divisions" - why not "schisms?"

  3. I have a more "meh" reaction to this than the rest of you:

    1) Jillions wrote it.
    2) Calling for a synaxis/council is easy - so far in this long conflict talk has gone pretty much nowhere.
    3) Re-iterating the need for a synaxis/council is the easy part, but actually organizing and paying for one would be the seal that these mere words need.
    4) Who has the charism and spiritual authority to bring such a synaxis/council together? If the EP had it (over and above already having the letter of the canonical law) we would not be in this situation in the first place.

    "Talk is cheap" is a cliche for a reason. In practice if not intention, this is more of a positional letter declaring the OCA's neutrality so that we can all get along here in NA with the usual (and uncanonical) status quo...

    1. Precisely (although Kishkovsky wrote it). To fail to take a position on the manifestly uncanonical misconduct already demonstrated by the Patriarch of Istanbul and All-Turkey is to acquiesce in it, albeit implicitly. Maybe the OCA still hopes that after 48 years, its autocephaly will finally be recognized by the EU? Wishful thinking....

    2. Nicholas,

      I will take the easy sentimentality of Kishkovsky/Jillions (they both wrote it ;) ) over the moroalistic and legalistic language of "manifestly uncanonical misconduct already demonstrated" any day. The formal is at least a kind of "do no harm" position, the latter is simply Moscow's talking point/starting position in a negotiation..

  4. Wasn’t a pan orthodox council called a couple of years ago and Moscow and her minions boycotted it? What is different this time?

  5. The OCA seems to acting like a mediator in all this, yet wasn't its Autoceplhacy recognized Moscow? The whole church seems to be leaning to Moscow favor at this point anyways.