The Church Messenger - December 15, 1996

Archbishop Welcomes Hierarchs Of SCOBA In December Meeting

NEW YORK--On Wednesday, December 4, 1996, the Hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA) enjoyed their first gathering with the new Exarch of the Ecumenical Throne, His Eminence, Archbishop Spyridon of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The various Hierarchs had been invited for a luncheon and an opportunity to meet with His Eminence and to discuss common concerns.

The meeting was marked by warmth of feeling and the same brotherly and cooperative spirit that has prevailed in SCOBA for over 30 years. His Eminence embraced his fellow bishops individually and as a body. He re-affirmed the harmony and communion of purpose that binds all of the jurisdiction together, stating plainly that the unity of the Church is made manifest first and foremost through the unity of faith, doctrine, practice and worship which have always existed in the Orthodox Church of Christ. In emphasizing the true and absolute unity of the Church, His Eminence also commented on the need to continue expending every effort to connect the different jurisdictions in the everyday witness of the Church, both to society at large and to the Flock of Christ.

During the afternoon gathering, the Hierarchs freely discussed some problematic issues facing the Church. There was a serious dialogue and discussion regarding the necessity of an Orthodox Christian response to the following issues:

1). the recent legalization of same-sex marriages in Hawaii, which is rejected by the Orthodox Church;

2). the recent instruction of the Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops in America to their own clergy, regarding the giving of their Holy Communion to Orthodox, without consideration that the Orthodox Church does not permit Her Faithful to commune in any Church but their own. This unilateral decision on the part of the Roman Catholic Bishops will be fully addressed at the next SCOBA meeting, with specific guidelines to the various Orthodox jurisdictions in America. (In addition to the above, His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese clarified the recent reports in the press concerning the relationship of the Patriarchate of Antioch with the Melkite [Greek Catholic] Church. His Eminence re-affirmed that although there has been progress in the dialogue, there has been no change in relations and furthermore, there would be no change unless all of World Orthodoxy was involved.)

3). The Hierarchs also agreed to a common and unified effort to issue joint Pastoral Encyclicals addressing the contemporary problems that affect Orthodox Christians in America.

The re-unification of the Ukrainian Church with the Ecumenical Patriarchate was singled out as an important step in the journey of the Orthodox Church here in America. The well-known fact that all Slavic Peoples, Carpatho-Russians among the first (863 A.D.), received their faith from Constantinople continues to provide a model and paradigm for Church prosperity and good ecclesiastical order. As regards to this canonical regularization of the Ukrainian Church in America and the Diaspora, Metropolitan Theodosius of the former Metropolia ("OCA") was pleased to report that the "OCA" is in full communion with the Ukrainian Church.

The meeting closed after the luncheon with prayer and a unanimous expression of appreciation and support for Archbishop Spyridon, who promised his full cooperation with all of his brother Bishops.


[ The Church Messenger - December 15, 1996 - p. 4 ]