Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Challenging Vision For Orthodox Christians in America: An Interview With Father John Meyendorff

A.N.: At this time what does this new situation imply culturally and sociologically, in particular for those communities throughout the world, notably in the countries not traditionally Orthodox, and for their witness? What is the future for these young communities?

F.J.: Their future and their mission are to witness to Orthodoxy in an atmosphere of dialog, apart from wholly participating in the development of the life of the countries, of societies, in the intellectual world in which they are developing.

I would underline however that there exists a certain problem in the midst of Orthodoxy itself pertaining to the subject of these communities. There are, all the same, some people not here in the West, but in the traditional Orthodox countries, who, when it comes to the standard of ecclesiastical responsibilities, occasionally do not express total confidence in those Orthodox of Western formation. There are also those who identify Orthodox tradition with local cultures.

We in the West have, on this precise matter, to confront them in their dissent and to ask them if they truly believe that the Orthodox tradition – the tradition of the Church – is a universal and catholic tradition, not to be limited to some eras of human culture. At the same time, our witness obliges us to say the same thing to those in the West. Our Orthodox communities in the West are obliged to speak to both parties, they are obliged to speak to all those who would place fetters on the witness of Orthodoxy.

A.N.: The Orthodox Church is entering the final preparatory phase of its future council in which is found at its center the question of the canonical organization of all the new Orthodox Churches in Europe, America, Australia, Japan – what is called the “diaspora.”

F.J.: If the preparation continues as it has until now, it has no chance to succeed in so far as those who are primarily involved with this problem are not invited. I believe that everywhere this is beginning to be understood a little. Certainly, in practice, those primarily involved, i.e. the Orthodox of the “diaspora,” are participating in this preparatory work: they write, they speak, one recognizes that they exist; but their participation remains extremely limited. Certain traditional centers of Orthodoxy do not consider it acceptable to accord them a place. It is altogether deplorable.

I hope that the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is the first in being responsible for the preparation of this council, will find the means to unblock these impasses that are rather artificial and that preparations for the future council will be facilitated.
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