Reflections on Fr. Cyril Hovorun Autocephaly: from Canon to Myth

June 19, 2009

Fr. Cyril Hovorun wrote a very interesting and somewhat controversial paper on what he termed the “myth” of autocephaly through out history using two examples of the Greek Orthodox church and the Ukrainian Orthodox church.

It is interesting to note the events that are taking place in Ukraine at the present time in terms of the orthodox schism and the involvement of the government in using the church in the unification of the country as a whole. He stated that if the orthodox were to split into groups according to their beliefs either towards the Russian or Constantinople patriarchate, this would cause great conflict, even violent conflict within Ukraine and its people. Fr. Hovorun accounted that some Ukrainian Orthodox exclaim that autocephaly is the way to hell!

In Greece, autocephaly was defined much more differently than it is in the present day. During the struggle for independence, the church blessed it as holy, even creating the myth that the flag of the revolution was blessed. After Greece gained it’s independence and the church was granted autocephaly, the country’s religion and state were intertwined in the national ideology of its people.  This showed that the definitions of autocephaly in the past was not just of the separation of church from the patriarchate, but also of the connection to the government, the kingdom, and the country. During monarch rule, the synod was appointed by the government, and the synod new appointees had to swear an oath to the King above all else!

The myth around American autocephaly is an entirely new animal from any past representation of the word in that it is not the identity of one ethnic culture or people, but of many orthodox from many different backgrounds. In this way, it is free from any other factors that would influence the OCA outside of the church. Without prosecution from states, governments, revolutions, war, other religions, what will the OCA become? So far it has not been able to draw other orthodox groups in America to itself, but are we in the midst of change towards that direction? Maybe my generation will find out, maybe it could happen in two or three generations. Only time will tell.

 

-Lydia

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3 Responses to “Reflections on Fr. Cyril Hovorun Autocephaly: from Canon to Myth”

  1. Joe Says:

    Re: “So far it[the OCA] has not been able to draw other orthodox groups in America to itself, but are we in the midst of change towards that direction? Maybe my generation will find out, maybe it could happen in two or three generations. Only time will tell.”

    Your generation has found it.

    Time has told.

    Not one Orthodox body outside of the OCA is interested or has ever expressed an interest in being drawn in and under the OCA.

    Why do so many of the laity, clergy and hierarchs in the OCA insist of fleeing from this reality?

    There MAY BE a truly autocephalous (universally recognized) Orthodox American Church someday of which the body known as the OCA will not doubt be a part, but it will be some other body part other than the head.

  2. OCAbloggers Says:

    No one expects other churches to be “under” as you so call it the OCA. I’m talking about coming together in Christ, putting our bickering and differences aside, and creating the truest definition of orthodoxy in America without completely homogenizing everyone away from their ethnic backgrounds and customs. I would love to see a complete and whole orthodox church, with greek, ukrainian, antiochian, russian, and other converts all working together in the image of God.

    -Lydia

  3. orrologion Says:

    Didn’t the main Bulgarian, Romanian and Albanian jurisdictions join with the OCA? I believe they were independent of their Communist-dominated mother churches, but I believe they represented the vast majority of parishes and peoples in those jurisdictions in North America.

    So, it may perhaps be inaccurate to state that “not one Orthodox body outside of the OCA… has ever expressed an interest in being drawn in and under the OCA.”

    “Under” is also not how these jurisdictions were brought into the OCA – and it is not the way in which Met. Jonah has suggested we may move forward on finding unity with each other and with our mother churches.

    “Under” would perhaps be better representative of the way in which the EP has sought to establish unity – ‘de jure’ eparchies under the ethnically Greek exarchate of Constantinople (e.g., the recent change in affiliation of the parishes under Jerusalem in North America [though it is unclear if this change has actually been enacted].)


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