Autocephaly ( 9 of 20)

The answers in this section on autocephaly were provided by a seminary faculty member in a 1970 OCA publication.

Question

On what basis did the Church of Russia offer its recognition to the Metropolia and proclaim it officially as the Orthodox Church in America?


Answer

The Basis for the action of the Russian Church is first of all the very simple fact that America was originally a mission and then a canonical diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. Thus as the Mother Church of American Orthodoxy, the Russian Church had not only the canonical right and duty to perform this act, but the very traditional and natural role of being the obvious church to take the first step and to grant the original decree of autocephaly.

In addition to these self-evident facts, the fact that Orthodoxy in America was divided into national “jurisdictions” and that the old world Mother Churches of these jurisdictions had explicitly agreed that each “mother” had the unquestioned right to deal with its “daughter” as it saw fit, also provides a steady basis for the Russian action.

In addition to this it is important to note further that the Church of Constantinople was the leading advocate of the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate had “exclusive rights” over the Metropolia and that the clarification of the relationship between the two was of tantamount importance for the settlement of the question of American Orthodoxy.

When the Metropolia refused to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate (from 1921 to 1970) the Constantinople Patriarchate remained in sacramental communion with the Metropolia in America in spite of Moscow’s interdiction and charges of schism. Now, ironically, when Moscow has decided to act administratively toward the Metropolia and to recognize its spiritual and canonical needs by granting the long-desired and long-overdue decree of autocephaly, the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its Greek Archdiocese in America have refused to add its blessings to the act.