Autocephaly (14 of 20)

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


Why did the Church of Russia change its policy toward the Metropolia in 1970? Could it not be for some unworthy or self-serving purpose?


Any person can speculate about why the settlement of the Metropolia and the Mother Church of Russia took place in 1970. The reasons for this will be seen clearly in history. If the purposes of either side, the American or the Russian, were unworthy of Christians, God will be the judge.

As far as the American Church is concerned, it considers its action and the recognition of its autocephaly by the Moscow Patriarchate as a perfectly churchly act, indeed as the very will of God for His Church in the world.

The Metropolia always recognized the church of Russia as its mother, and always recognized the Moscow Patriarchate as the legitimate Russian Orthodox Church. For decades the relationship between these two churches was strained. For a long time, because of difficulties in both churches, a settlement was impossible.

The Church of Russia formally claims as well that it did not “change” its policy, but rather that it found the conditions of the present time to be conducive to an agreement with the Metropolia which it could consider proper and just, but which previously it could not—not only for itself but because of the state of the Church in America as well.

Thus it has to be repeated once more that whatever the reasons why the decree of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America has come in 1970, according to strictly churchly, spiritual and canonical reasons, the transfer by the Moscow Patriarchate of all of its churchly rights and privileges to the newly-recognized autocephalous American Church is a very positive step for the building up and strengthening of Orthodox Christianity in North America and indeed in all the world.