Orthodox Christian
comment

 

Orthodox Christian Laity

 

 PRESS RELEASE

FIRST GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH VOTES
AGAINST PATRIARCHATE’S CHARTER

 

Cleveland, June 30, 2003  – A Greek Orthodox Cathedral here passed a resolution that rejects a charter imposed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey. Although other churches are expected to follow with similar resolutions, this is the first formal resolution of its kind adopted by any church in the Greek Orthodox faith in the United States.

 The resolution by the parishioners of Saints Constantine and Helen Cathedral was passed overwhelmingly last week at a parish assembly. The parishioners claim that the Patriarchal charter is illegal because it was soundly rejected by the Clergy/Laity Congress, the [ruling] governing body of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States, held in July, 2002. More than 800 clergy and laity delegates to the Congress rejected the proposed charter as presented. The delegates passed 30 amendments to the proposed charter to make it acceptable for the Greek Orthodox faithful in the United States. The Patriarchate disregarded those amendments and since then has imposed its charter.

The 2002 Congress delegates said the proposed charter would eliminate the rights of the laity and the clergy in the governance of the church, which have been in effect for more than 80 years, and make the church more authoritarian. The current charter, which was approved by the Patriarchal Synod in 1977, was accepted by a Clergy-Laity Congress the following year. It clearly provides that charter modifications cannot be made without the agreement of the Clergy-Laity Congress.

The Cleveland Cathedral’s resolution makes it a point to say that it continues to accept and support the Patriarch as the spiritual head of the church, but it demands that the charter be the first item on the agenda of the next Congress to be held in New York in July, 2004.

ANNOUNCEMENT

 A Special General Assembly Meeting was held at Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Cleveland, Ohio, on June 22, 2003, as a result of a petition signed by 90 members in good standing requesting this meeting.  The following resolutions were discussed and passed by an overwhelming majority:

WHEREAS, the current Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, approved by the Patriarchal Synod on November 1977, and accepted by the 24th Clergy-Laity Congress on July 5, 1978, clearly provides that charter modifications cannot be made without the agreement thereto of a Clergy-Laity Congress; an amendatory process that has its precedents in the adoption of the charters of 1922, 1927 and 1931;

WHEREAS, by agreeing to the 1977 charter, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has given up any and all rights to unilaterally amend, change or abrogate this charter, only retaining the right to approve or reject any changes recommended to it by the Clergy-Laity Congress;

WHEREAS, the 1977 charter and all preceding charters embody the concept of  syndiakonia between and among the hierarchs, clergy and laity, from the parish to the Archdiocese, a co-ministry characterized by respect and cooperation, recognizing that church governance is a shared responsibility;

WHEREAS, over the last several years, unilateral actions taken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate have geographically and organizationally divided the Greek Orthodox Church in this hemisphere, thereby violating the 1977 Charter;

WHEREAS, the charter proposed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate will:

 

·         destroy this syndiakonia by eliminating the legislative role of the Clergy-Laity Congress and transferring it to the Synod of Bishops, controlled by the Patriarchate;

·         remove all administrative authority from the Archdiocesan Council and transfer it to the Synod of Bishops;

·         fragment the Church in America into nine Metropolises and diminish the office of the Archbishop, thus weakening the national church;

·         provide the basis for the ultimate control of parish properties by the Patriarchate; and,

·         result in a continuing migration of our children and grandchildren to other, non-Orthodox, faiths, due to its failure to  provide for meaningful  lay involvement in the governance of church affairs;

 

WHEREAS, (1) the Archdiocesan Council expressed concerns about the draft charter, when it was originally proposed by the Patriarchate, (2) 190 parishes listed objections in writing to the draft, and (3) the 2002 Clergy-Laity Congress soundly rejected this proposed Patriarchal charter by passing a series of approximately thirty (30) amendments which reaffirmed clergy and laity roles and rights in the life of the church and provided for the election of all future Bishops by the Synod of our Archdiocese and for the election by the Patriarchate of all future Archbishops from a list of three (3) nominees chosen by the Synod of our Archdiocese;

WHEREAS, the Ecumenical Patriarchate received copies of all such objections and amendments of the clergy and laity and has totally ignored them, seeking, instead, to implement its own charter  in contravention of the procedures of the 1977 Charter, which are still in effect;

WHEREAS, such charter from the Patriarchate is, therefore, invalid and of no binding effect on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and will diminish and eliminate the historical roles that the clergy and laity have rightfully enjoyed in the 80 years of the Church’s existence in America;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT

RESOLVED, that the General Assembly of Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Cleveland, Ohio, continues to accept and support the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the spiritual center of our Church; 

RESOLVED, that the General Assembly of Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Cleveland, Ohio, by affirmative vote of a majority of those present at a duly called meeting at which a quorum was present, recognizes and reaffirms the 1977 Charter as the valid and currently governing Charter of the Archdiocese, and calls upon the leadership of the Archdiocese, hierarchs, clergy and laity, to continue to administer the Archdiocese under the 1977 Charter until proper adoption of amendments thereto;

RESOLVED, that the General Assembly of Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Cleveland, Ohio, calls upon the Archbishop and Archdiocesan Council to place on the agenda of the Clergy-Laity Congress to take place July 25 to 29, 2004, as the first item of business, the issue of approval of the charter proposed by the Patriarchate, so that the charter can either be approved, as required by the current Charter, or rejected;

RESOLVED, that the General Assembly of Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Cleveland, Ohio, calls upon the Archbishop and Archdiocesan Council to publicly announce the decision to place this matter on the agenda of the upcoming Clergy-Laity Congress no later than November 15, 2003; and,

RESOLVED, that the General Assembly of Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral, Cleveland, Ohio, calls on the bishops of the Orthodox Church throughout the world to convene in a Holy Council to address the un-canonical situation of multiple, overlapping Orthodox jurisdictions in North America, Central and South America, Europe and wherever this situation exists, and to develop a plan for the restoration of canonical order, thereby correcting the current situation condemned by the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios, who stated:  "It is truly a scandal for the unity of the Church to maintain more than one bishop in any given city; it contravenes the sacred canons and Orthodox ecclesiology.  It is a scandal that is exacerbated whenever phyletistic (ethnocentric) motives play a part, a practice soundly condemned by the Orthodox Church in the last (19th) century."

 

By permission from and thanks to:

Orthodox Christian Laity

All Content Copyright © Orthodox Christian Laity.  

Contact the OCL via Email at ocladm@ocl.org,    www.ocl.org 

Contents & Index

Hit Counter