By the grace of God, His Beatitude, the Most Blessed HERMAN, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, has completed his first official visit to the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia.
It was with great joy that Metropolitan HERMAN, accompanied by His Grace, the Right Reverend SERAPHIM, Bishop of Ottawa and Canada, and His Grace, the Right Reverend NIKON, Bishop of Boston and the Albanian Diocese of America, as received by His Beatitude, the Most Blessed NIKOLAJ, Archbishop of Presov, Metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, together with the members of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia.
The Orthodox Church in America and the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia share a deep spiritual legacy. It was in America that thousands of emigrants from the Czech Lands and Slovakia found the truth of our Holy Orthodox faith. When many of these emigrants returned to their homeland, they brought with them the light of this faith and contributed greatly to the renewal of Orthodoxy on their native soil.
One of these emigrants, St. Alexis Toth, as a priest and good shepherd, set the hearts of his countrymen aflame for the Orthodox faith and led thousands into communion with the Holy Orthodox Church. He is revered today as a missionary to both America and the Czech and Slovak republics. As a sign of the deep love that unites our Churches, Metropolitan HERMAN has presented all the hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia with relics of St. Alexis.
Today, our communities, as local autocephalous churches striving to witness to the Gospel of Christ in our unique but related contexts, are eager to further strengthen the bonds of love and faith that unite us through a program of increased contact and cooperation.
Over the course of the visit, during many meetings and encounters, experiences and information has been shared and the following areas of mutual interest and concern identified:
1. The need to encourage greater mutual familiarization and study of each other’s churches for the purpose of creating the conditions for the further examination and resolution of important theological, historical, canonical, environmental, and ecumenical issues.
2. The need to address together the common pastoral challenges of modern secular and consumer society, including addictions, family dysfunction, and similar problems. To this end, joint seminars and academic conferences need to be arranged, as well as exchanges of students, teachers, church workers and pertinent literature.
3. The need to promote exchanges relating to education and the catechizing of youth, including the exchange of educational materials.
4. The need to seek theological, scientific and legal means to work together for the protection of life on Earth in light of growing environmental challenges.
5. The need to pay increased attention to the spread of Orthodoxy worldwide and the development of exchanges of experience and knowledge pertaining to mission.
6. The need to address together the challenges of the growing gap between the rich and poor, as well as to seek ways to cooperate in assisting peoples affected by natural catastrophes, terrorism and war.
7. The need to assist each other in developing our humanitarian and charitable efforts directed towards the marginalized in our societies (youth, the elderly, the handicapped, and disadvantaged minorities).
8. The need to develop concrete means for assisting members of our churches in identifying and contacting their relatives in each other’s churches.
Throughout the visit, the delegation of Metropolitan HERMAN was cordially received by government representatives of both the Czech and the Slovak Republics as well as by the Ambassadors of the United States of America and Canada. Discussions on a wide range of topics indicated a substantial interest on the part of civil and church authorities to build an active working relationship in addressing many of the social and moral issues of our time.
Archbishop of Presov, Metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia
Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada