Editots NOTE: THEOCACNA demands obedience to the canons by its clergy! We are the original canonically established American Orthodox Catholic Church (short name for THEOCACNA acording to our 1927 constitution). The ethnic orthodox allow their clergy to publish lies about us and to attack Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh - a canonical orthodox bishop. The attacks violate the canons and clearly prove our claims that they are schismatics!
Orthodoxy in America suffers today for many reasons that continue to be ignored rather than addressed.
The Ecumenical Patriarch and other ethnic Patriarch's turn a blind eye to those in the independent movement who make false claims of being in communion with them, who claim they are canonical and who claim to have valid lines of apostolic succession.
First let us look at why the old world Orthodox ignore the world around us. Part of this problem is that the old world ethnic Orthodox live their Church life as a closed society. The laity for the most part live in neighborhoods near their Churches, the clergy know the members and they view themselves as a family. There is no doubt this could be an ideal situation but in living in this manner the Church closes its eyes to the real world around us and outside their close knit family. They ignore a problem that exists and can harm those who seriously desire to learn about Orthodoxy but who meet members of the independent movement who claim to be Orthodox.
Another problem you find in Orthodoxy is they can be over protective of the Holy Mysteries or Sacraments especially during the Liturgy when it comes to communion. If there are problems between their Church and another Ethnic Orthodox Church they can and have refused communion to members of the other Orthodox Church even though that Church is just as canonical as their Church. We would not and do not suggest communion be given to anyone not Orthodox but even when two canonical Churches are having problems is it Christ like or Christian to make the baptized believer suffer for the politics and issues of the Church?
There are valid reasons that any reunion or communion between the Orthodox Patriarchates and the Roman Catholic Church must come to some detailed agreements. We have heard and read that Rome claims that they are the Mother Church. This is not acceptable with the Orthodox. Orthodoxy is a Patriarchal based belief where each branch of the tree, the Russian, Greek, Ukrainian, Syrian and others all have their own leadership independent of the other Orthodox Churches. The Ecumenical Patriarch is the one all others turn to when they have a doubt or a question. The Ecumenical Patriarch does not rule over the Orthodox communion since all Orthodox Partiarch's are equal. If the Church of Rome is the Mother Church then all Orthodoxy is the Father Church. Rome was originally part of the Orthodox communion but left in 1054.
We do believe that union and communion between the Orthodox and Catholics is possible and should take place sooner than later. The laity should be encouraged to learn about and to respect the other Churches since we are of one faith.
The ethnic orthodox need to be more open and alert to inquiries from those who ask about the claims of may independents. People contact us and say they contacted the Greek Archdiocese or the OCA (for example) and only get a response that so and so is not a canonical clergyman. Canonical means different things to different people. People want a direct answer to a question such as is this Church or clergyman in communion with your Church? Not everyone understands that a response that so and so is not a canonical clergyman is a No to their question.
THEOCACNA was canonically established On Feb. 2nd 1927 and incorporated on Feb. 1, 1928 in Boston Ma. The first Archbishop was Aftimios Ofiesh, a Syrian priest who as Archbishop sat on the Russian Synod in North America.
When Archbishop Aftimios married in 1933 contrary to the canons he was not called before a tribunal and was therefore a valid and canonical bishop at the time of his repose, or death. He was not deposed or excommunicated by any Church authority that had any jurisdiction over him or his Church. The ethnic Synod should have called the tribunal Archbishop Aftimios wanted. Some in the independent movement have written that Bishop Sophronius excommunicated Abp. Aftimios and Bishop Ignatius. This is false! One Bishop cannot excommunicate another, especially his superior, and Sophronius was a bishop who knew the canons.
It has been rumored, by some in the independent movement, that the ethnic Orthodox Churches turned their back on Abp. Ofiesh and this Church for unrelated reasons and used the marriage as an excuse to act in a manner that violated the canons, to take the cathedral, to ignore this church and Abp. Ofiesh.
1. The Ecumenical Patriarch wanted to establish the American Church basically
because of the wealth in the New World.
2. The Orthodox Churches turned their back on this canonically established Orthodox Church contrary to the canons based on the act of one clergyman. They refused to call a tribunal or dispute the published and private statements by Abp. Aftimios as to the reasons for his marriage.
3. The Antiochians went to court, which also violated the canons, to take the cathedral from Abp. Aftimios and this Church. Had he continued the court battle he would not have lost the cathedral. This claim is proudly published in historic information about the Antiochian Church.
It should be noted that some who claim to be with an ethnic Church will from time to time publish claims about this Church that are not documented. They for the most part know little about us and make claims based on published articles that are not factual.
In the independent movement we have numerous individuals and groups who falsely claim they are either the original THEOCACNA" i.e. The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America, a canonically established Orthodox Church that follows the canons as a western rite Church, that they are THEOCACNA but changed their name, that they were Chartered by THEOCACNA or that their lines of Apostolic Succession come from THEOCACNA. We will mention these in order below.
1. Those who falsely claim to be THEOCACNA.
THEOCACNA is probably as close to canonical, meaning being in communion with the old world ethnic orthodox, as any of those in the independent movement could ever hope to get.
First we must remember these people want to be who and what they are not. These false claims make them liars yet they claim to be Orthodox, claim to be valid clergy, claim to be in valid lines of Apostolic Succession therefore claiming their sacraments are valid, claim to be canonical and to be in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch. Others will even claim to be in communion with some other patriarch who has been excommunicated or deposed and not in communion with the Orthodox communion. We can and do prove
Many even openly claim and use our short name and one of these individuals, who had been in prison and I understand is a registered sex offender, claims to be the Mother Church. One of his former associates used to be an Old Catholic bishop but decided he was Orthodox. Others who have claimed to be us were admitted homosexuals* but were not members of this Church, and most who claim they are us under whatever name are married or gay and claim to be bishops. We received an inquiry from a reporter about a former bishop who claimed to head this Church in New England but was never part of this Church. Seems there were some sexual complaints lodged against this individual. There have also been a number of paper bishops floating around who claim to be bishops and claim to have a diocese but who have or had no telephone, or who were supposed to hold services but did not and left people waiting for someone to come and hold a service. One may also find, if you research the history and lines that many of these independents claim that they or someone in their lines has been deposed or excommunicated. This is another reason why they have no valid orders and any sacramental authority is in doubt.
Consider this! Do true orthodox clergy need to lie as to who they are? Is someone who attempts to steal an identity for some sort of status a clergyman, a con man or a fraud?
2. That they changed THEOCACNA's name.
This can be easily verified. THEOCACNA was incorporated in Boston, MA. on Feb. 1, 1928 and the corporate documents which are posted on our websites include the corporate director-trustee
If the original corporation continues as the original Church who are these others who claim they changed our name? Simple! They are part of the independent movement. They went out and independently established a church group. They have lied, some have attacked THEOCACNA and her clergy, they ignore the canons, they act contrary to the canons and they basically are not Orthodox. Many destroy the liturgy or use a non-orthodox liturgy.
3. They were Chartered by THEOCACNA.
One group claims they were Chartered by THEOCACNA in (about) 1989. The fact is there is an independent group who even listed on their website using a completely different name that they in fact chartered that group. Seems about that time the man who headed the independent church claiming to have chartered the other church had incorporated an independent corporation in a couple other states using the THEOCACNA name but without any corporate association or permission to use our name. This is just one reason that we have registered our name as a Service Mark with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
We would also like to point out that we do not establish or charter other churches. We only charter a parish, diocese or religious order to operate as part of this Church.
4. THEOCACNA Lines of Apostolic Succession.
No mandates were ever issued that we are aware of to consecrate or co-consecrate any bishops that were not to be part of this Church. Ignatius retired from this Church thus leaving all authority to act in the name of this Church. He later was said to have co-consecrated at the same time pastoring a non-orthodox church. Sophronius is said to have been the main consecrator with Noli co-consecrating. The certificate we saw was done up on Noli's letterhead which would indicate Noli was the main consecrator and since no mandate was issued we believe Sophronius was a witness and not a co-consecrator since it would seem unlikely a true orthodox bishop would act contrary to the canons and co-consecrate without a mandate.
The North American Holy Synod (of THEOCACNA) denies the claims and rumors. We denounce the lies of those who make such false claims as the work of the devil.
PLEASE NOTE: We are not claiming these lines are not valid as Old Catholic lines since we have not studied the Old Catholic canons.
Are their lines Orthodox and if so are they even valid? As Orthodox lines this is very doubtful. Its like the old TV soap commercial that would say 99 44/100% pure. The canons are clear on the matter of ordinations. Most in the independent movement claim the orders are valid when a couple independent bishops get together and lay hands on someone. This is not the way the canons direct an ordination to take place.
Example: In c.1 of the 85 Canons it states that an ordination be done by two or three bishops. The Interpretation goes on to explain the difference in ordination then (to designate by vote) and the ordination by laying on of hands today. In later canons it is clear that at least 3 bishops be party to the ordination (consecration), one must be the Metropolitan or Patriarch and other bishops of that see must provide letters of approval.
In the independent movement many claim to be patriarchs or metropolitans. They may be large or small churches. Many of the members joined together with other groups to make up the larger churches and some are Old Catholic. Many use their own made up liturgy or mass. What you must remember is they are not of the ethnic Orthodox Church and they are not recognized by any ethnic or canonical old world Church. Someone long ago claimed someone else consecrated someone a bishop and he setup his own church and jurisdiction then takes his own titles. He gets others like himself to lay hands on someone else to "consecrate" a new bishop. Often the new bishop was not even a priest until the day before when he was ordained a priest and unlikely ever set foot in an ethnic Orthodox Church. Some even go so far as to ordain women and give them the title of priest. These are not valid Orthodox orders, nor are these women valid priests in the Orthodox Church. They may claim to be Orthodox, Catholic or Orthodox Catholic but its all in the name, and not recognized by any ethnic or old world canonical Church. Since no ethnic or old world Bishops, Metropolitan or Patriarch were party to the ordination there are no canonical lines of Apostolic Succession here.
Regarding the issue of Gays and Homosexuals. We do not gay bash but at the same time we attempt to follow both Orthodox tradition and Scripture regarding this matter. We clearly state on our websites that we do not share the altar with women or homosexual clergy.
Lev. 18-22 - Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.