Two weeks from now, October 2-4, 2018, the ninth annual meeting of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America is scheduled to take place in Cleveland, Ohio. We put forward the following proposals for the Assembly’s consideration.
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To the Member Hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America:
As you gather in prayer and brotherhood during the first week of October, we the undersigned respectfully propose that the Assembly, its individual member bishops, and their respective jurisdictions and dioceses consider taking the following steps:
1). Cease issuing condemnations of abortion, participating in the March for Life, and advocating for the elimination of legal, accessible abortion.
Instead, create a committee of clergy, laypersons, and especially women to explore options for a pan-Orthodox initiative to offer financial, material, emotional, spiritual, and social support to pregnant women in need and to their children after birth.
The reality of the world in which we live also requires the Church’s support for the surest means to reduce the incidence of abortion: universal access to contraception and to accurate, scientifically based sex education.
Finally, it is important to listen to women’s reasons for having an abortion and to work with them to mitigate those reasons when they are open to doing so. Judging, condemning, marching in parades, and attending Rose Dinners accomplish nothing and don’t save a single child’s or woman’s life.
2). Cease issuing condemnations of same-sex orientation.
These condemnations inflict lasting emotional and spiritual harm on Orthodox children, teens, and adults who regard their orientation as a good and natural part of their personal identity. They seek from their Church, not a cover for sexual permissiveness, but a profound and affirmative theological articulation of how their orientation reflects the divine image and participates in the acquisition of the divine likeness through the collaboration of human ascesis with uncreated grace.
Instead, create a committee of clergy, theologians, psychologists, therapists, laypersons, and especially Orthodox individuals who identify as same-sex oriented to study questions of sexual orientation in all their complexity.
The committee should be open to examining possibilities for blessing Orthodox same-sex couples who wish to make a monogamous, lifelong commitment to each other.
The committee should also be tasked with formulating pastoral guidelines to present for the Assembly’s consideration.
The blanket excommunication of Orthodox Christians who present as same-sex oriented must cease. Read More