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What can we learn from Fr. Thomas Hopko?
The Continuum ^ | 9/11/2006 | Fr. Robert Hart

Posted on 09/11/2006 7:20:41 PM PDT by sionnsar

In all that follows of these selected excerpts from a talk by Fr. Thomas Hopko, substitute in your mind "Continuing Anglican" (for lack of a better phrase) when Fr. Hopko says "Orthodox." The same scandal of disunity over issues that often are trivial, political and no more essential than a simple "who struck John?" scenerio, needs to become a thing of the past. I firmly believe that many jurisdictions have sprung up all over the place for no more valid a reason than that somebody wants to wear a purple shirt and a mitre, and simply won't submit himself to the wisdom and Canon Law of established Anglican churches. That is, because somebody wants power. Read these remarks by Father Hopko, and think about our own house (or houses). I have included the editor's note to introduce our own readers to Fr. Hopko.

Father Thomas Hopko is an Orthodox theologian and the dean emeritus of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood, N.Y. He is a retired professor of dogmatic theology who lives in Ellwood City, Pa. Recently, he spoke to the St. John Chrysostom Society at a meeting held at St. John Orthodox Church in Campbell on the topic of what the Orthodox would have to do, despite our shared common heritage, before there could be unity with Catholicism. The topic seems of such importance to ecumenism that we include here, edited for length, his remarks that evening. The St. John Chrysostom Society works to foster unity and understanding between Roman Catholics and members of eastern-rite churches.

They don’t even want unity. So I am extremely pessimistic about that point. Why? Because the Orthodox leaders don’t even want unity among the Orthodox, let alone with Roman Catholics or Protestants. It’s obvious. The record is clear. I’m not making this up. This is not my opinion. The Orthodox leadership, and most of the Orthodox people, don’t want unity with others, and they are not ready to give up anything… even the smallest little thing that is clearly not essential to the faith. I feel very strongly that this is true.
When people ask me, for example, why the Orthodox jurisdictions in America are not united, the answer is very clear: because our leaders don’t want it. If they wanted it, we would have had it yesterday. There is nothing stopping them… you may have to suffer a lot. You may have to give up some things: power, pre-eminence, prominence, property, possessions, prestige, positions, privilege and pleasure. We’re not ready to give up those things because of pride, passion and prejudice. Forget it. There’s not going to be any unity. That’s what divides people generally, and it is certainly what divides churches…
Another point for the Orthodox is that we not only have to desire unity, be ready to sacrifice everything essential to have it, to be able to distinguish what is essential from what is not, be able to forgive the past and admit our own sins and concentrate on ourselves, to do practical acts of charity and mercy – but also never, ever to say or do anything that would offend another person unnecessarily…There are so many ways we can charitably go out of our way to not hurt others… our churches speak about unity, and then every day attack each other in missionary work and so on. Even among the Orthodox, one of our jurisdictions starts a mission and three days later, another jurisdiction starts another mission on the same street. That’s just offensive.

… You all know the story of the Orthodox man who was shipwrecked on an island. When they came to rescue him, they found two churches there. The rescuer said, “Why are there two churches here? You’re all alone.” The Orthodox man said, “Yeah… that’s the one I go to and that’s the one I don’t.” That’s a deeply ingrained mentality among eastern Christians because of their history, their culture, their politics. But if that is not purged out somehow by the grace of God, forget about talking unity with Catholics. Orthodox need to first have unity among themselves, even culturally and nationally in regions where they live.
… So Orthodox need to be ready to go the extra mile. Jesus said, “If they ask for your coat, give them your shirt. If they ask you to go one mile, go two.” So our attitude has to be always toward bending over backwards, so to speak, to do the thing that will build up unity rather than give offense or cause hard feelings.

People always point out that they fear greater unity because it will cause greater schisms… some of our people won’t go along. But we have schisms anyway. Let’s have them for the right reason. Suppose we had unity and half the [Orthodox] people didn’t come along. I think we should be ready to say goodbye to them if the unity is in God. We have to be people of unity, not because we will have more power in society, or be more popular, or George Bush will invite us to the White House. We have to have unity because God wants it, but it has to be unity in God, not unity in Ukrainianism or whatever… If the unity is not in God, in Christ, in the Spirit, who wants it anyway?

But history shows that the people who worked for unity in the Faith were usually persecuted, while the masses just went about their business.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 09/11/2006 7:20:43 PM PDT by sionnsar
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2 posted on 09/11/2006 7:21:40 PM PDT by sionnsar (††|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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To: sionnsar

3 posted on 09/11/2006 7:27:28 PM PDT by Calvin Coollidge (The last really great president.)
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To: sionnsar

S, Fr. Hopko, while a good man, is not generally consider much of an authority on anything. He is, unfortunately a captive of the 70s Moscow inspired idea of creating an American Orthodox Church tied firmly to Moscow (the Moscow of the 1970s)and cut off from Antioch and Constantinople.

It never worked and while the OCA is fully Orthodox and filled with wonderful people, it is dwindling and in serious financial trouble while Antiochian and Greek Orthodoxy (and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia too, for that matter) are growing.

4 posted on 09/11/2006 8:08:02 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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