Autocephaly (13 of 20)

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


Is it not a fact that the autocephaly of the Metropolia as the Orthodox Church in America has caused greater divisions rather than greater union among the Orthodox people?


We have already mentioned that the Orthodox Church in America considers its position as a positive step. It has many reasons to think that this is so.

In the first place, its own canonical situation, which since 1924 could only be understood as temporary, is finally straightened out. The Metropolia now knows where it stands and where it is going, without question or hesitation. It is at peace with itself, not to speak of its “mother church.”

Before autocephaly there was no clear and canonical action whatsoever relative to the unity and self-government of the Orthodox in America. There was only talk. Now at least, there is a concrete beginning.

Before autocephaly there was not one church which was legally free from its old world “mother” and which could and did define itself without the use of an adjective taken from a foreign church or nation. Now at last there is one.

In addition to this, it has been stressed over and again that the new autocephalous church demands nothing from others but respect for its position and the freedom to go on. It will not force others into anything and will work with all, willing to discuss anything, anytime, anywhere and with anyone. It wans sacramental union with all who are not morally or dogmatically deformed, and even with these it will work for renewal, rectification and ultimate union. It categorically refuses on these grounds to be the object of any insinuations and accusations of destroying rather than serving the unity of the Orthodox in America and in the entire world.

If there is division over autocephaly it can only be because no one now can hide from the question under a cloud of empty words and meaningless actions. In the light of autocephaly, all are seen for what they are, and all are forced to show their true colors. Now each church, and indeed each Christian priest and believer, must show whether he wishes to serve the Orthodox Church of Christ or to serve first of all his own ethnic cause and community.

Thus perhaps what autocephaly has done is to reveal and disclose the true divisions that were always there but previously obscured because of the lack of a concrete action that would make them known. If this is the case, we can welcome autocephaly as a blessing. It is the opinion of the Orthodox Church in America that this is exactly the case.