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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rebuke from Fr. Touma

From Notes on Arab Orthodoxy

Archimandrite Touma (Bitar) on Nationalism and Orthodoxy

... Likewise it shames us that the Church in America becomes a group of branches for the national churches in the Old World. The national Orthodox churches have become in some American cities something closer to ecclesial or even political embassies for their mother churches or for the countries that they are in! Do you not see that it is not true Orthodoxy that gathers us together in America, but rather egoistic nationalisms within pagan tribes?! We understand that in some churches services are held in national languages for recent immigrants, but what about those who have been in America for fifty or more years?! Do we not see that hearts are not united and hands are not joined together in the service of God and that goals are not coordinated in order to witness to Orthodoxy and that no one pays attention to proper Orthodox churchliness? Every man for himself! Do we not see the churches being exploited for tribal or political or economic ends?! Why is there one church for the Antiochians (that is, Lebanese and Syrians and Palestinians), and another for the Greeks and another for the Russians and another for the Romanians, all only a few minutes away from each other?! Why can we not join together in worship and love and frequent teaching, since we are all within one Orthodoxy and one earth and one language?! Why can we not cooperate to preach Orthodoxy within a milieu that is hungry for it?! Why this fragmentation? Why this distance between hearts?! Is it too much to ask for Orthodoxy to be our sole umbrella, rather than nationalisms and tribalisms?! Vain, ingrained nationalisms in the American churches are not from God—they are against God! They are the causes of schism and weakness and despair and scandal for the Church of Christ, especially for the youth, the newly-illumined, and those being guided to Orthodoxy! Nationalisms, in all their forms, must be combated in every possible way in America so that the Church remains the bride of Christ alone! Orthodoxy of Spirit and Truth never aligns itself with nationalism! Either we lead every thought towards obedience to Christ or Orthodox nationalisms will entrench the worldly church in this world and we will cease to exist as a Universal Church!


The forces in American Orthodoxy are increasingly centrifugal, a horrible witness, and in the face of a crumbling Protestantism. Truly, "the laborers are few."

This Lebanese abbot has spoken on the American situation before, and on the Antiochian archdiocese in particular. It would be interesting if he succeeded to the Patriarchate, if God wills it.

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