Comments, truths and public knowledge

by Archbishop Victor

A response to the false information published by SCOBA clergy

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Before we begin allow me to state the following: Ethnic groups caused a Schism that continues today in American Orthodoxy and by these acts had removed themselves as canonical or having any sacramental authority!

We are the one and only Orthodox Church in North America!

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Many in the Independent Movement have heard about us at some point. Some claim their lines come from us, some claim our Charter was issued to them, and some have even claimed they are us under a different name. On the internet you can find all sorts of information - some true, some false and a lot of fairy tales. To avoid all the junk that exists here is an outline about this Church.

The independent movement for the most part seems to exist for the title seekers. They want to be in Holy Orders but do not want to have to follow orders or directions so they want to be the "boss" over others. Many will ordain those who have no vocational calling, education or temperment for the Holy Office. There are some good active clergy in the independent movement but they are independent clergy and not part of any historic Church.

We are the same Church that was chartered in 1927 and headed by Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh of blessed memory.

All the groups calling themself the "American Orthodox Catholic Church", our short name, are not associated with us in any way. Others using similar names like "American Orthodox Church" are also not associated with us.

A group that was started up after a few former clergy left our Church [called a major internal Schism by some ethnic clergy] made false claims that they were us under a different name, that the Metropolitan was the "former primate" of their new group, and later certain rumors of a claim they excommunicated me was traced back to them. All claims are proven false and documented on our website. Many pages are no longer linked to the public but the information is still available on request. Example: Clergy left this Church, one resigned in writing, one by phone and another just walked away without a word. After they harassed us the synod issued decrees against the 4 involved since they had in one way or another been associated with us at one time and they violated the canons and claimed they were us. This was not a major internal Schism, just some clergy who wanted to do things as they saw fit and in an unorthodox manner

Today we have a Synod of well trained and educated individuals. One has over 25 years with the Byzantine Orthodox and continues to work on a doctorate degree, another has numerous earned degrees including a Ph.D. Two are well trained in the Byzantine liturgy. We have Chaplains who can offer the Tridentine Latin Mass to Catholics on request. One who has retired from this Synod for health reasons had been a Uniate mitred Archpriest.

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We were established as the American Orthodox Catholic Church on Feb. 2, 1927 by the Russian Synod (Moscow Patriarchate) in North America. We were incorporated on Feb 1, 1928 and that corporation has never ceased.

The Ecumenical Patriarch at that time claimed he alone had the authority to establish the Church in the New World (North America) and the ethnic orthodox in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch during that time began to ignore this Church and clergy. This violated the canons! Since we were canonically established and properly presented to the Orthodox community their refusal to accept this Church as a sister Church was a violation of the Sacred and Divine canons and the start of a Schism in American Orthodoxy. In 1929 the Greek Archbishop, Alexander, in New York advised Abp. Ofiesh that he, Alexander, had authority over all Orthodox in North America which was false and is the best available date as to when the Schism became public.

Unlike the Roman Catholic Church one Patriarch does not rule over the other Patriarch's as it appears their claim is and was and this claim continues today. In the early Orthodox communion Rome was the first among equals which is the position that the Ecumenical Patriarch claims today. We accept and acknowledge this fact!

The Ecumenical Patriarch recently was stated to be the head of all the Orthodox worldwide. This is a false claim and even the Russian Partiarch spoke up about this claim and refuted the claim. The Ecumenical Patriarch is referred to as "First among equals" but since this Church was established it appears these individuals want to be more than they are.

The Greeks want to be the American Church, the Antiochians want to be the American Church and the OCA believes they are the American Church but they are not. There is only one true America Orthodox Church and that is us, "The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America", known as THEOCACNA and our short name is "The American Orthodox Catholic Church" which we do not use much since numerous others claim this name.

Clergy from these various groups (named above) have written books about this Church and clergy and today they continue to publish information about us that for the most part is false. They write about our former clergy in a defamatory and unchristian manner which we will no longer tolerate.

We will not seek communion with Schismatic groups!

We do not recognize any sacramental authority within these groups!

We do not seek or need any recognition by these groups!

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We are canonical!

Canonical does not mean you must be in communion with someone! It means we follow Holy Scripture, the Orthodox Canons and Orthodox Traditions. It does not mean we must wear a certain vestment style, offer a certain liturgy share the Mysteries (Sacraments) with a specific group especially when that and other groups have violated the Canons for about 80 years, attacked this Church and clergy, tried to end this Church, proclaimed the Church does not legally or morally exist, and continue to act in an unchristian manner against this Church.

We are recognized by the Roman Catholic Church!

We are recognized by the Episcopal Church USA!

We are recognized by a number of independent Churches!

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The main focus of the attack on this Church dates to April 1933 when Archbishop Ofiesh married in a civil ceremony.

According to newspaper reports Bishop Sophonius congratulated the couple on their marriage and Bishop's Joseph and Ignatius are said to have stated the canon on married bishops, not adopted by all orthodox churches, had no bearing on the American Church.

The ethnic claim Sophronius, who was reburied next to St. Raphael, supposedly suspended the Archbishop and then they claim the other bishops decided to elect a new leader (not Sophronius) then claim Sophronius was the Archbishops successor - all undocumented and false.

The ethnic also claim Archbishop Ofiesh deposed himself by his marriage or retired! This is false. The canons does not automatically depose for such a marriage, it states "Let him be deposed" but since the Archbishop's Synod did not object to his marriage within this Church and since no Tribunal was ever called no such action was ever taken against Abp. Ofiesh.

Since the Antiochian Metropolitan allowed a priest to remarry and remain a priest, contrary to the Canons, it cannot be just, fair or christian to continue to "attack" Archbishop Ofiesh who died in 1966.

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These so called ethnic clergy are from SCOBA churches and these Churches were and are party to the Schism in American Orthodoxy! Those who pray in these Churches are denying themselves the full Mysteries of the Church. This claim is based on the canons stating Schismatic clergy should be deposed and when the whole Church follows the schismatic leaders they cannot offer a valid Mystery when in fact they violated the canons and acted to cause harm to other true canonical orthodox clergy laity. By such acts the Schismatics set themselves apart from the true Church and the canons. Since by these acts they failed to follow the canons, act in an unchristian manner, defame just clergy and do so much more that sets them outside and apart from the canons they can no longer be canonical!

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Schism needs to end!

Until their is repentance by the Schismatic groups and they make peace with this Church they will continue to mislead their members.

Today this Church is the American Orthodox Patriarchate! Our canonial jurisdiction, or Archdiocese, is North America and our Mission territory is Central and South America. Since the ethnic jurisdictions have worked their way into our canonical jurisdiction we accept the fact people want orthodoxy in other countries and contact us to establish missions and churches. We are growing in many such areas.

THEOCACNA is not attempting to follow in the footsteps of the Schismatic (ethnic) Orthodox who have poor christian manners, lack christian charity and defame deceased Orthodox clergy but we seek to follow in the footsteps of our Lord, to show Christian Charity to people of all faiths and to help when we can.

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We may very well over state our position. My statement about the sacraments may be overly catholic at this point.

One purpose is to get peoples attention! What do the canons say about schismatic church groups and clergy? The laity who reads this page could be somewhat upset by what they read. I am inclined to believe they will investigate independently - like searching online for canons, getting a copy of the Rudder, book or a CD, and contacting others in the know like Church historians and asking if the acts by the ethnic pre-scoba orthodox could be viewed as an act of Schism! When they find out we speak the truth they will continue their search for the truth!

The canons basically speak of a case like that of former clergy of this Church who left contrary to the canons. What we are saying is the larger Church community as a whole acted in a Schismatic manner against the American Church based in part on the statement in the canons "...without finding anything wrong with the Bishop in point of piety and righteousness". They acted from the time this church was established, in 1929 it became a public matter, and all the time they had no cause against Aftimios. In 1927 he was a canonical orthodox bishop in good standing but he was attacked, ignored, defamed and much more over the years.

In their defense the ethnic continue to write today that all the problems of this Church came from his marriage - 5 years later. Did they read Tarot cards or use a Crystal ball to know he would violate the canons? or did they feel if they pushed hard enough something would go wrong!

The ethnic violated the canons and still do today. A formal complaint to the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was ignored showing the canons are not upheld in these modern times.

Copyright - 2010 Victor Prentice