The following was sent this evening as a Word document to the main Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States. Since the Assembly of Bishops lists no email address, we contacted them via their internal messaging system to ask them to provide one.
If you are a member hierarch of the Assembly of Bishops and would like to receive an original copy of this letter, please email us at email@example.com.
If you are a priest, deacon, or layperson and would like to ensure that your bishop receive an original copy, send us his direct email address.
In an email of January 25 we also invited St. Vladimir’s, Holy Cross, St. Tikhon’s, and Holy Trinity Seminaries to respond to our concerns, either individually or as a group.
To date at least one individual with first-hand knowledge of the matters addressed in our Open Letter is working on an expository article for Orthodoxy in Dialogue.
January 31, 2018
TO: The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America
RE: White Supremacy in the American Orthodox Church
To the esteemed Member Hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the United States of America:
On January 22 Orthodoxy in Dialogue published an Open Letter to the Assembly of Bishops which is viewable here. The signatories include priests, deacons, theologians, laymen, laywomen, Orthodox Christians, and friends of Orthodoxy who constitute but a small representation of the several thousands of people around the world who have read and commented on our Letter in various social media. In less than 48 hours the Letter leapt to the number one spot among the 120 articles and editorials that we have published since we first launched in August 2017. The numbers, both of readers and signatories, continued to grow by the hour for an entire week after the Letter was published.
Our concerns have been reinforced by the claims of a recognized hate group to have made significant incursions among our clergy and seminarians: see here and here. Note especially the closing line in the first of these:
The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests and bishops, and I will stomp on each one of them on my way to hell and back to win this war for the universality of Christianity in the West.
Our motivation is not to sow contention between the hierarchy of our Holy Church in America and their flock, but to share information with you and ask that decisive action be taken to address a deeply worrisome trend in the life of the Church herself.
On August 18, 2017 you published your Response to Racist Violence in Charlottesville, VA, which we gratefully shared with our readers that same day. We considered your letter to be a powerful witness to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and response to that tragedy in American national life.
The present Open Letter is motivated by the growing visibility of racism, xenophobia, white supremacy, white nationalism, and similar anti-Gospel ideologies within the American Orthodox Church, among some of our clergy and seminarians, in certain convert circles, among potential converts, and by those who co-opt Orthodox symbology as cover for their nefarious agendas. The two photos included with our Open Letter speak for themselves.
That the cross-bearing assailant in the second photo has been excommunicated can only be regarded as a first step. We believe that much more needs to be done to call those within the Church to repentance, to discipline the obdurately unrepentant, and to convey to the American public—via news and social media—that the Orthodox Church intends to provide no safe harbour for hate-inspired ideologues and demagogues of any kind.
Orthodoxy in Dialogue stands prepared to place our global platform at your service:
- If the Assembly wishes to address a letter to our worldwide readers we will publish it.
- If the Assembly posts a response on its website we will republish it.
- If an individual jurisdiction wishes us to publish its response, we will.
- If an individual bishop wishes us to publish his response, we will.
- If the Assembly appoints an interjurisdictional committee of two or three bishops to receive anonymous reports about instances of white supremacy in our Church’s parishes and institutions, among the clergy and seminarians, etc., we can act as the conduit for those reports to ensure anonymity.
We are ready to help you in any way that we can.
Your servant in Christ,
Giacomo Sanfilippo, Senior Editor
Orthodoxy in Dialogue