The Episcopal Assembly Finally Does the Right Thing

As our may know, Monomakhos has been relentless in his criticism of the Episcopal Assembly since almost its very inception. Its lethargy has been legendary. Nowhere has this been more evident than in those social issues which are destroying the fabric of our society. The Committee on Church and Society, which is headed by now-Metropolitan +Savvas Zemnbillas has been especially lax in this regard.

Recently however, one of its members, Fr Peter Preble, publicly criticized the Assembly for ignoring the egregious curtailment of the freedom of religion that is mandated in Obamacare. John Couretas of the Acton Institute, a layman in the GOA also wrote a withering piece taking the Orthodox episcopate to task for side-stepping this issue. We have as well. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in standing up to this incipient tyranny was exemplary. Though the Orthodox are tiny in comparison, they would have welcomed our support given our reputation for believing in traditional moral values. Certainly the welcoming attitude of the Catholic bishops was on display at the Mall in Washington at the annual March for Life when they asked His Beatitude, Metropolitan +Jonah to give the opening prayer. This was no small event and its importance cannot be overstated.

In any event, and for whatever reason (hopefully the right one), the Episcopal Assembly finally stood up to the plate and did the right thing. Within 24 hours of Couretas’ critique, they released this communique, stating that they are in solidarity with the USCCB on the matter of abortion, sterilization, contraception, and in-vitro fertilization and whether Christian hospitals and health plans can be forced to provide such “services.” This is significant in and of itself.

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, which is comprised of the 65 canonical Orthodox bishops in the United States, Canada and Mexico, join their voices with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and all those who adamantly protest the recent decision by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and call upon all the Orthodox Christian faithful to contact their elected representatives today to voice their concern in the face of this threat to the sanctity of the Church’s conscience.

In this ruling by HHS, religious hospitals, educational institutions, and other organizations will be required to pay for the full cost of contraceptives (including some abortion-inducing drugs) and sterilizations for their employees, regardless of the religious convictions of the employers.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for “contraceptive services” including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions. Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care. We, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, call upon HHS Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration to rescind this unjust ruling and to respect the religious freedom guaranteed all Americans by the First Amendment.

For this, they are to be commended.

Some correspondents on this blog have suggested that all Orthodox priests should read this letter from their pulpits this Sunday. This would certainly be a good follow-up. The suspicion that the Assembly acted only because it was embarrassed into doing so cannot easily be shaken given the spiritual torpor that it has heretofore exhibited; concerted efforts to follow up this letter with additional actions would allay these suspicions. Even with these caveats, the Assembly did the right thing. This is now the official position of the American Orthodox episcopate on this matter and there can be no going back.

We’ve got our work cut out for us but at least it’s a giant step in the right direction.


  1. Well said George. It should be noted to readers here and at AOI that we have an interesting coincidence of events this week. We have GOA hierarchs including the new Metropolitan of Pittsburgh and his tax the rich narrative on facebook attending the lavish Leadership 100 Conference at the Ritz Carlton in Florida. Talk about excesses of the 1% as the people of Greece suffer!

    Now what adds a little spice to this affair is you have one of the honorees. Its none other than Andrew N. Liveris,CEO of Dow Chemical. One wonders how a Church committed to ecological principles and the vision of the Green Patriarch can honor the CEO of a company with a pretty solid history of pollution. One could argue that Dow Chemical has no place in the ecological vision of the Green Patriarch. I guess big evil polluting capitalist companies are ok sometimes for the GOA -especially if their CEO is part of the omogenia.

    Honestly though, a bunch of Church leaders gathering at the Ritz as today’s events unfold bother in the USA and Greece stretches the bounds of common sense. So much for humility, asceticism, and modesty —thats only for people making less than $100,000 in the pews. Those in the “elevated” community get a pass.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      coundna said better myself.

    • Rdr. Thomas says

      I’m reminded of a story of Patriarch Pavle of Serbia. When arriving at a conference hotel, he noted the line of expensive luxury cars that the other bishops had arrived in, shook his head and said something along the lines of “Imagine what they would be driving if they hadn’t taken vows of poverty”.

  2. Ashley Nevins says

    Message to all Orthodox:

    Watch the trailers to the new movie, ‘My Big Fat Greek Financial Collapse’, on CNBC.

    Here is a little insight into the plot of the movie. The eastern irrational Greek church/state is floating face down in the toilet and the western rational Germans have their hands on the toilet lever. The exciting part of the this drama will be if the Germans flush the toilet.

    Chancellor Merkel is the daughter of a Martin Luther pastor. She is real world, grown up, logical, rational, no non-sense and disciplinarian. I am sure her western rationalism has not gone unnoticed by the Greek church hierarchy. She thinks the Greek state is a sham state. The Germans never liked the church/state set up of Greece and its involvement in the EU.

    The Greeks have a name for Merkels personality type: CHOLERIC. Generally speaking, that is the personality type of the German people. It is a personality type you don’t want to play games with. It is serious, pragmatic, engineering and ruthless all at the same time. You know, highly western rational in modernity competition and work ethic thinking.

    The IRONY is THICK. The Greek church that is the state church hates western rationalism and modernity. Lol, guess what the Germans are ALL ABOUT?

    The Greek state is as corrupt as the Greek Church. Of course, in the EO Mind there can be no correlation. No way this financial debacle is not going to cause the Greek church more demise.

    Will the end of this movie be the rule of western rationalism over the irrational Greek state?

    You can find out the answer to the question by tuning into CNBC to watch the movie. If you want to learn more about the author of this story made a movie you can also go to the CNBC website to get a Greek sovereign debt bond quote. It will tell you most all you need to know.

    I know the Greek Mind. It is Greek Hellenism and culture arrogant and proud. It believes itself superior. That mind will not hold to any EU agreement and it will lie to keep itself alive. It will not learn its lesson. It will remain out of control and will reject the humility of skunk it will be forced to eat.

    The Greeks believe themselves to be the people God used to spread the Gospel. To the Jew first, and then to the Greek. They are egocentric and ethnocentric confused. God was using a common language and not primarily the Greeks. In the Bible God one time even used a Jack Ass to speak through. Fact is, western rational Christianity is the missionary machine to the world. Its now in the greatest mission field of our century big time, China. The Greek Orthodox are not there. Telling of the lie they believe about themselves being the New Testaments primary people to take the Gospel to the world.

    Isn’t interesting how both the Greek state and church are exposed corrupt and failed to the entire world. The Greek state is found irrational, adolescent, corrupt, spoiled, proud, dying and in denial. It refuses to listen and only listens to the gun pointed right at its head. You know, just like its church.

    From what I can see the GOC is worth about as much as a Greek bond.

    What, the Orthodox believe a ethnocentric, apathetic, indifferent, corrupt and dead Greek religion social club is worth more than a bankrupt Greek bond? Wake up Orthodox and come out of closed system we alone are right religious denial: The spiritual bankruptcy of the GOC is at a worse level than is the financial bankruptcy of the Greek state.

    Now do the Orthodox typical. Deny the undeniable and defend the indefensible.

    This is the beginning to years of my prayers for the Greeks coming to pass. Their arrogance and pride is being humbled before the entire world and they are exposed transparent and held accountable. They cannot escape the consequences and the more they try to escape them the worse it is going to get for them.

    My prayer is that the Greeks can find a rational God solution to their irrational church/state failure. When the Greeks run out of themselves, hit bottom and then bow to rational God they will find that rational solution. The question is, can Greek pride, arrogance and superiority find the humility to see itself as it really is and then change away from that?

    The problem is that for some their only bottom is death. They refuse to hear or comply to what God is really telling them and so they come to an end by following their carnal flesh over Gods Holy Spirit. The Greek nation and church will continue to exist. It is the Greek choice if they continue to exist corrupt, failed, arrogant and demising or become humble and broken and then change. If the Greek state is anything like the Greek church the odds of it changing are slim and none and so its outcome is highly predictable.

    Ashley Nevins

    • What is this hateful trash?

    • Ashley Nevins says:
      February 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm
      Message to all Orthodox:
      “the personality type of the German people. It is a personality type you don’t want to play games with. It is serious, pragmatic, engineering and ruthless all at the same time. You know, highly western rational in modernity competition and work ethic thinking.”
      Remembering the consequences of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP/NAZI) of the 20th century, that scares me! (As it did D. Bonhoeffer, too.)

      • We all know Ashley Nevins as an incorrigible blowhard who, though not an Orthodox Christian, is so needy a person, that he’ll take ANY audience that is available (even if Orthodox) and which he might get ‘a rise” out of (and thus validation of himself as a real person). True, it’s all tendentious, logorrheatic baiting, but he NEEDS to do that. Don’t pay any attention to the lack of substance in his ramblings. He’s a needy person. Read what he writes and then go pray for him. Perhaps the Lord will send him a wife, or a good mental health professional…Such private, idiosyncratic language as “highly western rational in modernity competition and work ethic thinking” appears to be the kind of private language to be found coming from the institutionalized, it is also a great parody of how the student of the German language perceives its complexity—complicated and stupid at the same time.