Orthodox set conditions for ACNA talks
By George Conger
Source: Online, July 7th, 2009
Calvinism, women priests, and the filioque must go before the Orthodox
Church in America (OCA) establishes full Eucharistic fellowship with
the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) and recognizes the validity
of Anglican orders, His Beatitude Jonah, the Archbishop of Washington,
Metropolitan of All America and Canada, told the ACNA’s founding
convocation last week.
While the two churches were separated by historic issues of doctrine and modern questions of discipline, Metropolitan Jonah told the ACNA
that it was time for the Orthodox and traditionalist Anglicans to
resume talks leading towards full communion that had been derailed in
the 1970s by the Episcopal Church’s ordination of women.
The leader of the Orthodox Church in America’s offer to resume talks
with Traditionalist Anglicans leading toward intercommunion comes as a
significant ecumenical achievement for the ACNA. The offer also
highlights the potential divisions with the 39th province-in-waiting of
the Anglican Communion, as the hand of unity from the Orthodox may be
stronger for some traditionalists than their ties to Calvinists or
women clergy in the new province.
Jonah also told the 900 delegates and guests gathered under a tent on
the precincts of St Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford, Texas, that his
church had switched ecumenical hors
es, abandoning all relations and
dialogue with the Episcopal Church in favour of the ACNA.
“We can come together as the bastion and bulwark of an authentically
orthodox church, we can come together to bear witness to the fullness
of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as handed over by the fathers.”
The 49-year-old leader of American Orthodoxy told the assembly that he
had been brought up as an Episcopalian at St James by the Sea in La
Jolla, California, but as a college student came to Orthodoxy through a
study of the Tractarians in search of the true church. “The goal of my
life is to live and actualize, to participate in as fully as I can, the
full integrity of the Catholic Church, the full integrity of the
Orthodox Church,” he said.
There have been relations between Anglicans and the Russian Church
since the Elizabethan settlement, he noted, and 100 years ago that
“that relationship became extremely strong” in the United States under
the leadership of the Metropolitan Tikhon.
St Tikhon had a vision of unity. That vision of unity resulted in the
time of the proclamation by about half of the Orthodox churches of the
validation of the Anglican orders,” however, “it fell apart on the
Anglican side with the affirmation of a protestant identity, more than
a catholic identity. This shattered the unity. We need to pick up where
they left off.”
To complete the work of St Tikhon who hoped the Episcopal Church could
be “declared a fellow Orthodox church,” he proposed a dialogue whose
goal was a “unity in faith” where it “can be celebrated together in the
sacrament of the Eucharist.” To get there, “there are some issues
though, we have to resolve,” he said.
Anglicans must make a make a “full affirmation” of the seven ecumenical
creeds. It must “return the [Nicene] creed to its original form,”
removing the filioque. In 589, the Third Council of Toledo added the
phrase "and from the Son" – the filioque -- to the Nicene Creed. Credo
in Spiritum Sanctum qui ex patre filioque procedit ("I believe in the
Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and from the Son"). Whilst
used by Roman Catholics, Anglicans and most Protestant churches, the
addition was rejected by the Orthodox Church.
Jonah also asked Anglicans to abjure the heresies of Rome and “reject
papal ecclesiology, papal infallibility” and the dogma of the
Assumption of Mary. He also said that for the Orthodox, “Calvinism is a
condemned heresy” and called for a rejection of the Protestant urge
towards iconoclasm --- the rejection of the place and power of icons in
For a “full restoration” and intercommunion “the issue of the
ordination of women has to be resolved,”he said. “I believe in women’s
ministry,” he said, “but I do not believe it is in the presbyterate and
the episcopacy” as this was the “universal position of the Greek, Roman
and non Chalcedonian churches.” “One hundred years ago, St Tikhon came
to the Anglican Church with arms wide open. I am the successor of St
Tikhon, I occupy the place, the throne that St Tikhon held as the
leader of the OCA. Our arms are wide open,” he said to a standing
ovation from the delegates.
These differences, however should be weighed against a common apostolic
heritage and common moral ethic, Jonah said. The Orthodox and
traditionalist Anglicans were united in their “absolute condemnation of
abortion” and by a shared concern of the destruction of family life.
For the Orthodox, the “blurring of gender” may have created a “larger
core of workers” for American industry, but it had “destroyed
personhood, destroying masculinity and destroying perfect womanhood.”
The destruction of the American family through “endless divorce,”
cohabitation and the “unspeakable things that happen,” had destroyed
children, leaving boys to seek fathers and girls mothers. The result
had been the “explosion of the gay identity, which is a yearning of the
parental embrace.” The church should not judge or condemn those “who
have fallen into the gay identity” but seek their healing and
restoration to wholeness of life.
Metropolitan Jonah told the ACNA assembly the OCA’s synod of bishops
was “enthusiastic about the opportunities” dialogue would bring. He
added that he was traveling from Fort Worth to a meeting of the
Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
(SCOBA) --- the umbrella grouping of all Orthodox Churches in the
Americas. The SCOBA bishops were “anxious to hear of my report on this
meeting,” he added.
The Dean of St Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, the Very Rev Chad Hatfield
stated that “in times of crisis Anglicanism by nature always turn
East.” It is a “time for a huge opportunity, let’s not miss it.”
Reactions from the ACNA delegates broke along party lines with one Fort
Worth delegate stating there was hardly anything the OCA had proposed
that Anglo-Catholics could not accept.
However, an AMiA delegate was less sanguine saying rejecting Calvinism
was tantamount to rejecting Anglicanism. Turning back on women’s orders
was also problematic for many of the evangelical delegates, and is a
point of contention within the new province.
Archbishop Robert Duncan noted that it was “hard to hear the words”
offered by Jonah “of the things that separate us from the Orthodox,
because the things that separate us from them separate us from one
In his sermon following his investiture as archbishop of the ACNA,
Archbishop Duncan said, “We are Calvinist Anglicans. Right? And we are
not all agreed about that. And there are women in holy orders and we
are not agreed about that. The Lord has brought us together not
papering over the differences but to stand and be prepared to talk with
brothers and sisters about the truth and unity that comes in Jesus