COMMENTS ON ORTHODOX UNITY
12th All-American Council
July 29, 1999
Your Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, Dear Brother Hierarchs, Reverend Fathers, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Holy Orthodoxy,
Glory be to Jesus Christ! Glory be forever!
There is a city in this land where things are so bad that the Police Department has an unlisted phone number! Thank God, this is not your host city, our beloved and friendly city of Pittsburgh.
I am delighted to bring to all of you, the members of the All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America who meet in Pittsburgh the greetings of our Archbishop SPYRIDON, who asked me to represent him this evening. As I do so, I wish to remind you of the fine words pronounced by our Archbishop in Chicago, five years ago. It was in the context of the national Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Archdiocese. At that time, Archbishop SPYRIDON was the Metropolitan of Italy. As he brought the greetings of Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW to the congress, the Metropolitan remarked that it was about time for all Orthodox Christians in America to unite. "There is nothing more ridiculous than to allow ethnicity to take priority over our common Orthodox faith," SPYRIDON said in the presence of Metropolitan THEODOSIUS. Metropolitan THEODOSIUS did not hid his enthusiasm regarding this statement. I personally join both these hierarchs in their assessment of our ecclesiastical situation in the Americas, and I pray for that Orthodox unity beyond ethnic boundaries to become a reality as soon as possible.
The day before yesterday, I was delighted to listen to my beloved brother in episcopacy and my successor on the illustrious throne on Diokleia — for those who do not know where Diokleia is, it is in the heart of the Opium Country in Turkey, by Afyon Karahissar — to expound upon the main theme of this Congress. I am in full agreement with regard to the four points of his presentation. But I was especially moved by his fourth point, "in behalf of all, and for all." Indeed, what makes the unity of the one Church of Christ, the unity of all creation in the One Holy Kingdom of God, is the One Eucharist of the Church, the Eucharist which we celebrated this past Sunday at the beginning of this All-American Council. No matter what the superficial administrative distinctions might be, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church of Christ is fully present at every one of our eucharistic celebrations, in this land and throughout the world. As stated by the famous/infamous Ligonier, "the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ is fully present where the Holy Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the godly bishop who presides over the Eucharist in a given diocese." However, the visible and administrative unity in a given region, even if it is not a "goal in itself," will greatly enhance the witness of our Holy Orthodox Church in America, to both quote and paraphrase His Beatitude Metropolitan THEODOSIUS' recent statement to the press.
I pray that this visible administrative unity may become a reality soon; I thank you for everything you do for this visible unity to happen soon; I wish you God's abundant blessings upon the fine work of your Congress and upon all of your fine endeavors on behalf of the holy Orthodox faith and Church of Christ; and I welcome you to our city "in Nomine Domini," in the Name of the Lord.
With love in Christ,
+Metropolitan MAXIMOS of Aenos
Presiding Hierarch of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Greek Archdiocese of America