To date the following is the most direct, incisive, and powerful statement that we have seen from an Orthodox hierarch in response to events unfolding in the US since the murder of George Floyd. It was brought to Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s attention by a Metropolitan of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago
Like so many of you, it was with heartache, confusion and outrage that I watched the images of a white police officer, whose duty is to “serve and protect,” kneeling on the neck of a black man, George Floyd, who lay subdued and prostrated on the street, as his dignity, rights and life were slowly extinguished. It was shocking and devastating to witness a fellow human being begging for breath in the face of callous disregard for human life. This heart-wrenching injustice has now set our communities on fire, and alongside peaceful protests calling for much needed change, we have seen violent confrontation, looting and property destruction.
We call for an immediate end to the violence and for calm, but we must heed another call—our calling to responsible action. As children of God, Orthodox Christians and Americans, we cannot allow dehumanizing acts and the insidious plague of racism to continue in our country, dividing us from one another and separating us from God. In words that are just as true today, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. concluded, “[c]ertain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard … And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again.”
I call upon Orthodox Christians in the Holy Metropolis of Chicago to do the hard work that this moment in history demands. Grieve with the victims of injustice, pray for those gripped by hate and fear, protest peacefully against injustice, advocate for the under-served, rebuild destroyed communities and, above all, extend unconditional love and mercy. We are all complicit in the suffering of our neighbor, and we must all repent—transforming our way of seeing, thinking, and acting toward Christ-likeness.
Doing the hard work of repentance is the very essence of being a Christian and, to that end, we must prayerfully take up our crosses and begin, today, to reconcile with God and our fellow human beings. Our rights, our nation and our salvation depend on it.
This statement appeared earlier today on the website of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago.
See the White Supremacy and Racism section, and Metropolitan Nathanael (Symeonides) in the alphabetical listing of authors, in our Archives 2017-19 and Archives 2020.
Metropolitan Nathanael is one of the most respected American hierarchs among Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s readers. We have previously published statements of his or favourable responses to his statements. His full biography can be read on the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Note especially: “As a parish priest in Manhattan, Metropolitan Nathanael developed a unique urban ministry, Orthodox Professionals in Action (OPA), which provided over 400 young professionals the opportunity to minister to the most vulnerable in society.” You can follow His Eminence on Twitter @MetNathanael.