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In Communion with Schism: The OCA in Communion with the UOC and the OCU?

By Subdeacon Nektarios, M.A.

 

Just recently the Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America recently travelled to the Ukraine to concelebrate and meet with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) to strengthen "ties with the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine, Romania, and Constantinople" [1]. This trip to the Ukraine established that the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) is in full communion and recognizes the UOC under Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and not the Ecumenical Patriarchate creation of the OCU.

Ecumenical Heresiarch, Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Chancellor of the OCA, Archpriest Nazari Polataiko, and Dn. Vitaly Permiakov

However, on the official Facebook page of Orthodox Church in America they stated that Metropolitan Tikhon and a delegation of OCA clergy also travelled to Constantinople and were received by Patriarch Bartholomew and that Metropolitan Tikhon "and the delegation attended divine services in the sanctuary of the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George; Great Vespers on the evening of June 8 and the Divine Liturgy on the morning of June 9, at which time the delegation received the Holy Mysteries" [2]. This trip with the Primate of the OCA makes for some interesting ecclesiology because of who they are now in communion with. It is well known that the OCA is in communion with the rest of the World Orthodox jurisdictions which makes this much more interesting. Not only are they clearly in communion with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC). This communion obviously also extends to the Patriarchate of Moscow.


However, this recent post throws some confusing signals out to the rest of the world as they recently travelled to Constantinople where they concelebrated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate who created and is in full communion with the controversial OCU. Another interesting point is that the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not recognize the autocephalous status of the OCA since they received their “autocephaly” form the Soviet Moscow Patriarchate in 1970.


Metropolitan Tikhon & Metropolitan Onuphry

So now we have an Orthodox Church in America who is in full communion with the Moscow Patriarchate, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC), and the Ecumenical Patriarchate who is also in communion with the Orthodox Church in Ukraine (OCU). Not to mention all the other Greek 'local churches' who are also in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and some of which are also in communion with the Orthodox Church in Ukraine (OCU). With all of this intercommunion between all these jurisdictions it seems that the OCA is in de facto communion with both the UOC and the OCU via their eucharistic communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Saint John of Damascus says concerning Eucharistic unity, "For if union is in truth with Christ and with one another, we are assuredly voluntarily united also with all those who partake with us. For this union is effected voluntarily and not against our inclination. For we are all one body because we partake of the one bread, as the divine Apostle says [3].


It seems that ecclesiological boundaries of schism and heresy have largely become irrelevant to the Orthodox Church in America and that everything is based on political ties and who sides with who rather than the clear ecclesiological distinctions of the Orthodox Church.




 

References


[1]. "His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon Arrives in Ukraine," Orthodox Church in America, accessed June 10th, 2024, https://www.oca.org/news/headline-news/his-beatitude-metropolitan-tikhon-arrives-in-ukraine


[2]. "Orthodox Church in America Facebook Post," Orthodox Church in America, accessed Jun 10th, 2024, https://www.facebook.com/share/p/2EdLGADcbwJzJUPA/


[3]. St. John of Damascus, “Chapter XIII.—Concerning the Holy and Immaculate Mysteries of the Lord,” in Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 9, ed. Dr William Sanday (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 84B.

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