Bishops Confront Major Issues

Facing several crucial topics this year, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church America convened here for their spring session, March 18-21, 1996.

With events in world Orthodoxy, such as the suspension of relations between the patriarchates of Moscow and Constantinople on one side, to the visit of international religious leaders on the other, the hierarchs discussed these and many domestic concerns during their four-day session.

In his opening address to the hierarchs, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius spoke about the importance of speaking with one voice as a Church, to “bring to the faithful…a clearer understanding of the richness of our Orthodox Faith.” The OCA Primate reviewed a current tendency in America to be classified as “conservative” or “liberal” in our expression of the Faith, and how this classification of one or the other unfortunately erodes a true expression of Orthodoxy’s richness in every fact of Church life. He labeled these tendencies as visions of idolatry on one hand, and visions of iconoclasm on the other. In brief, where conservatives have fostered an idolatry of the past without attenuating it to the present, the liberals have fostered an iconoclasm by outwardly disregarding the past, virtually ignoring every facet of Orthodox Christian life that is based on scripture, theology and history.

What has ensued from all this, according to Metropolitan Theodosius, is a deepening polarization of the Church. His Beatitude asked the hierarchs assembled to discuss the major issues confronting our Church opening in the spirit of unity and forthrightness.

In his address to the hierarchs, Metropolitan Theodosius announced the resignation of Fr Paul Kucynda as Secretary of the Orthodox Church in America. The Holy Synod concurred with His Beatitudes appointment of Mr Paul Hunchak as Acting Secretary, and Deacon John Hopko as Secretary to the Metropolitan.

In the Report of the Chancellor, Protopresbyter Robert Kondratick reviewed the status of the Church-wide health insurance plan, with the two major changes that have taken place. The first was the introduction of new rates and coverage options by CIGNA, a new provider, and the second was a change in coverage to a new provider, New York Life. Fr Kondratick also summarized developments in the Church-Wide Life Insurance Plan and Pension Plan, and Personal Assistance Program.

In the area of Church Order, Fr Kondratick reiterated the importance of following adopted guidelines, policies and procedures by various administrative bodies of our Church, in order to avoid civil litigation. In too many cases these guidelines are compromised or openly disregarded, which unfortunately leaves the Church vulnerable.

The Chancellor also reported on the site selection for the 12th All America Council. He and Fr Manzuk, Council Manager, would be visiting two sites in Los Angeles and would report on their findings to the Administrative Committee.

The Holy Synod re-affirmed that the commemoration of the Metropolitan in appropriate places in divine services be practiced in all parishes of the Orthodox Church in America.