Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky: Tomos of Autocephaly Reflection

June 20, 2009

Finally! Fr. Kishkovsky is willing to discuss the present state of American Orthodox issues! It was so wonderful to hear him speak his opinion of the OCA’s future and how it relates to other American Orthodox churches as well as Orthodoxy around the world.

He corrected the information that can be found on the Internet that only the Russian Patriarchate acknowledges the autocephaly of the OCA. The churches that recognize OCA autocephaly is not only Moscow, but also Georgia, Bulgaria, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The middle position churches in good relations with both the Greek church, Slavic church and OCA are Antioch, Serbia, Albania and Romania. The churches that vehemently do not recognize the OCA are Constantinople, Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Greece.  So much information about the church is pock marked with errors on common search enginges and websites that make it hard to clarify facts about the church.

Fr. Kishkovsky reiterated from his lengthy account of church history focusing on the Tomos that the vision of St. Tikhon is continuously declared and written as the ideal vision for the American Orthodox church. It was not “self-aggrandizing” but tolerant from the beginning of all ethnicity in America and focused on building the “local” American Orthodox church. If it weren’t for the unfortunate events of the persecution of the church in Russia, this prospect for American Orthodoxy could have been realized under the guidance of St. Tikhon.

Again it is put forth that orthodoxy in America doesn’t have the restrictions, ties, and ethnocentrism, that are found in other countries. Fr. Kishkovsky states that the OCA will show that it can break that major suppression, and can preach the orthodox faith in a western cultural context. The OCA is basically not looking to unify all American Orthodox into “cookie-cutter” identical English speaking practices and teachings. Nor is it the practice to unify the OCA under Russian ethnicity, or bully anyone who is or wants to be part of the church into that position.

There are now popping up across America “local” Orthodox churches that are ethnic in nature that are small “pocket” Orthodox Churches which aren’t recognized yet. I don’t understand how they can perform services and liturgies if they are not approved by a Patriarchate or one of the major orthodox groups, or how their Bishops or clergy would be able to reconcile their actions with any of the Patriarchates to become a valid church of God once again in accordance with canon and dogma.

Fr. Kishkovsky stated a rather typically stereotyped American comment that the rest of the Orthodox world should be watching us, the OCA, as the future of the church without suppression, boundaries, ethnocentrism, or government control defining our actions. It’s that pulling away again of the New World from the “bad and stagnant” Old World and that the rest of the globe should be watching what we do next with bated breath. That view gives off an odor of egotism and good old American narcissism if you ask me.



2 Responses to “Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky: Tomos of Autocephaly Reflection”

  1. Joe Says:


    Sadly agreed about good ol’ American narcissism…and I am speaking from the perspective of a typical narcissistic American.

    To put it as charitably as possible, people outside of the OCA are watching out of curiosity (morbid or no, i.e. rubbernecking).

    Not one Orthodox body is looking for the OCA to lead it anywhere, but Orthodox Christians of good will are hoping that the OCA straightens its problems out. But how to deal with narcissism?

  2. Nilus Says:

    The American Orthodox project should (and could) be an example to Old World patriarchates everywhere. In a time when even leaders of Old World churches like Russia admit that their renaissances (or, perhaps just continued existence) is afflicted by a serious spiritual ailment, the process of forming Orthodoxy in America provides renewal, provocation, hope, and inspiration.

    This project should (and could) become an incubator for new ways that Orthodoxy can thrive and interact with culture that would be fresh and unencumbered by centuries (or millenia) of precedent. Orthodoxy must emerge from T/tradition, but it mustn’t be captive to, or suffocated by it.

    If you think this is a lot of fluff, I would suggest you look at some of the fruit of this New World Orthodox project: the writings of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, St. Vladimir’s Seminary, this very conference… I would even submit that the existence of figures like Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev would not have been possible if not for the fresh rediscovery of Orthodoxy begun in Paris and taken to a new level in America. Just look at the dialogues between Schmemann and Solzhenitsyn – we here have a chance to examine Orthodoxy critically and reinvigorate not just ourselves, but the entire Orthodox world.

    Unless, of course, we as Orthodox are simply called to be mired in inertness, forsaking the blessings and opportunities for testing and advancing new ideas that are put before us.

    (Since much has been made about the ages of the contributors commenting on the Future of Orthodoxy, I’ll mention that I am a 21 year old college stuednt.)

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