Monday, 16 April 2012
Orthodoxy and the Scar of Ethnophyletism
Aren't we one Church and weren't the National Orthodox Church Primates supposed to only hold Juristiction over their own nations and territories not others?
A recent Anonymous to the blog of my friend SimplyOrthodox brought this to my mind, as he was a new Convert to our Church struggling with Nationalism and Cultural aspects replacing the united spirit of Orthodoxy. It is a sad thing that this happens but it is one thing which draws many of those interested in Orthodoxy to other groups.
Being part of a Church in a British Orthodox Community within the UK this does not have a large effect on my Church apart from when criticised in my faith by those under Ethnophyletic Churches, but I thought I would write this to voice personal concern.
Our Church has fallen to Ethniphyletism... Canon 6 of the First Ecumenial Council states specifically that Patriarchal juristiction is not based on language, culture or nationality but Canonical territory, even listing who rules where. Those that went against this were to be deposed. This has naturally changed with the elevation of other Patriarchates but the concept of physical territory over Ethniphyletism and many Patriarchs having a bishop in the same land has always stood through other discussions and is punished through deposition of the offending Bishop.
“Let no bishop dare to go from one province to another and ordain anyone in church... unless invited to come by letter from the metropolitan and other bishops of the territory into which he is going. Should anyone so go without invitation and irregularly ordain someone in violation of the order of the things in the church... anything performed by him is invalid. He himself shall incur a suitable punishment for his irregular behaviour and his unreasonable enterprise, having already been deposed from office by the holy Synod” (Canon 13 of the Synod in Antioch)
We see in the Early and Medieval times that there was no Greek Archbishop of (Insert place in other nation) and it was a matter of you migrating to a nation and being under the Juristiction of another Patriarch, not setting up a Church for your national interest in their lands.
This is why the Saints were never seen as saints of a certain Church but Orthodox Saints, because when thy tavelled into another land they did not keep the Identity of their old one but accepted that they would be required to respect the Juristiction of another.
This condemnation of going against this extended to Chalcedon and have since also been condemned by the Church.
“Let there not be two metrqpolitans in the same eparchy” (Canon 12 of the Council of Chalcedon)
"the formation of special national Churches in the same place, which accept all those of the same race, but exclude all those of other races and which are administered solely by those of the same race, are unheard of and unprecedented" (Great Local Council of Constantinople 1872)
This Nationalisation and ignorance has led to issues such as claims of Land Grabs and priests 'converting people' to another EO Church and has made us petty. examples of this are the Romanian Orthodox's claim that Russia "Stole" Moldovia from them and Jerusalem's cutting off communion with Romania due to Patriarch Daniel setting up a monastery in the Holy Land without Jerusalem's permission.
Both the setting up of Russian Churches in Moldovia and Setting up of a Romanian Monastery in Israel without the local Patriarch's permission are against Canon Law since the Ruling Patriarch of the area should have the final say on any Church activity in their Juristiction but due to Modern ideas of Seperation in Orthodoxy, the Canon is ignored.
Another example is the problem small Native Churches have of being accused of "undermining the aurhority" of Immigrant Orthodox community Bishops in their lands. Surely if a small Native canonically recognised Bishopric exists then it is their authority that is undermined by the setting up of a seperate one in their Juristiction, and not Vice-Versa since Canon law puts the territory under the Local Primate, not the new larger one.
Our very system is against our own Canon Law...It saddens me how Political might undermines our very Canonical system, especially when we Orthodox seem to love accusing other Churches of it.
As a notice by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinpole said “Missionary work conducted outside the geographical boundaries of the canonical jurisdiction of local Churches by their members or in their name is uncanonical and ecclesiologically unacceptable.”
Our Patriarchs have Sees and a lovely list of places they are Patriarch of for a reason... It is against Canon Law to ignore this.