Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America issue Synodal Statement on the war in Iraq

—Members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, gathered at the OCA Chancery here March 31-April 3, 2003 under the presidency of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, issued a statement calling on the faithful to intensify their prayer and fasting in light of the war on Iraq.

The statement compliments a similar communique issued by Metropolitan Herman and members of the Holy Synod in mid-March, in conjunction with the beginning of the war.

The text of the recent statement reads as follows.

We, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, have come together from across the North American continent during the week of Mid-Lent when Orthodox Christians venerate the Holy Cross of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ. To us, the Cross is the symbol of Christ’s victory over all human suffering and death and the promise of a new heaven and a new earth.

At this same time, we witness the violence of terror, the violence of dictatorial regimes, and the devastating violence of war. As bishops we are aware that acts of violence are not the proper responses of mankind to the unique divine gift of life. From distant lands, the media project into our own homes and lives instantaneous images of terrible human suffering resulting from this armed conflict, playing and replaying these vivid images until we are led to the brink of insensitivity to the portrayed misery and death.

Civilians and combatants, children of God made in His image, are both casualties of man’s inhumanity against man. This is the fruit of the Fall, the wages of sin, our fallen human nature in revolt.

We urge the faithful not to become insensitive to these sights and sounds of human suffering to which we are as eye-witnesses, but to rally around the Cross in even more vigorous prayer and intensified fasting, beseeching our Good God to have mercy on us all and to soften the hard and stubborn hearts to end this war so that terror and killing cease and peace can have its place.

As archpastors, we exhort our clergy and faithful to put their trust in God and to raise fervent prayers to the Prince of Peace to come quickly into the midst of this war and by His mighty arm establish peace. As we continue our Lenten journey, we know that the will of God is for us to remind our flock that beyond the Cross stands the radiant Lord risen in glory and to place our hope in Him who is the supreme and final Victor over terror and suffering, war and death, for He only is the Peace who bestows peace and justice upon all people - those of Iraq, of the Americas and the entire world.

With love in Christ,

Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
and the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America

Archbishop of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania and the Bulgarian Diocese

Archbishop of New York and New Jersey

Archbishop of Dallas and the South

Archbishop of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate

Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest

Bishop of San Francisco and the West

Bishop of Ottawa and Canada

Bishop of Sitka, Anchorage, and Alaska