CHICAGO: September 23, 2013
On September 17-19, 2013, a session of the IV Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and South America took place in Chicago. The event included the participation of 43 of the 66 hierarchs representing jurisdictions with parishes on the North American continent. In accordance with its regulations, presiding at the event was His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Administrator of the Greek Archdiocese in the USA (Constantinople Patriarchate). His Eminence Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA (Moscow Patriarchate), served as the Second Vice Chairman.
Before the opening of the meeting, the hierarchs prayed at Divine Liturgy at Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, led by His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
During the meeting, the members of the Assembly heard reports by 13 committees, which had over the previous year worked on coordinating efforts among the various Orthodox jurisdictions. Special attention was given to the reports of the administrative committee, work with Armed Forces, youth ministry, and the committees on monasteries and on pastoral care.
The bishops of the Assembly approved a proposal to convene a large Youth Assembly in three years in order to allow older Orthodox schoolchildren of various jurisdictions to learn about each other’s cultures, religious and national characteristics, and also to bear witness to their devotion to fundamental Christian moral values. Such youth forums, it is proposed, can take place every three years with the support of the Assembly.
Drawing lively discussion was the work on the committee on regional canonical planning, in which several models of normalizing the canonical coexistence of various jurisdictions in North and Central America were proposed. The Assembly bore witness to its determination to resolve the canonical anomalies between jurisdictions within the framework of the agreements reached at the All-Orthodox Assembly of 2009 in Chambessy, while noting that considering the number of Orthodox jurisdictions in North America and the history of their interrelations and contemporary status, questions of canonical organization on the continent must be studied more intensively. It is also important to devote more attention to newly-arrived immigrants who wish to preserve their cultural, historical and lingual identity.
The decision was made to continue work towards an acceptable solution to various Orthodox jurisdictions in North and Central America, and to include all the heads of the Orthodox jurisdictions represented therein into the Assembly’s committee on regional planning.
The bishops of the Assembly also approved statements on events in the Near East and a document on the US Supreme Court’s decision on the legalization of same-sex marriage.
More information on the Assembly meeting can be found here.