The pain on Pope Shenouda III’s face.
One of the sad consequences of our Orthodox disunity on this continent became so evident this week. Unless you have been totally disconnected from current events, you could not help but noticing the tragic events in traditional Orthodox lands. In Egypt, we witnessed the bloody martyrdom of Coptic Christians. In Alexandria, the city of Sts. Athanasius, Cyril and many more luminaries of Orthodoxy, our sister Coptic Orthodox Christians were massacred by fanatics. In “Northern” Cyprus, Orthodox were murdered and Churches desecrated. In Lebanon, a leader of the Christian community has correctly labeled the systematic elimination of Christians in the Middle East as genocide. In Palestine, we continue to here terrible reports from Fr. and Pres. Khoury about the misery the Palestinian Christians endure each day. Even in New York, we continue to await the resolution of issue of St. Nicholas Church at ground zero. What do all these issues have in common? The small voices of divided Orthodox leaders are barley heard above background noise! Archbishop Demetrios issues a statement, Metropolitan Jonas prays for Egypt and unfortunately Constantinople must remain silent! Since our voices are not united they can barely be heard. Who cares what we say since, we have succeeded in marginalizing ourselves!
Our own disunity and divisions assure that no one pays attention to us. We are small ethnic enclaves who are quoted in our own jurisdictional press and by a few niche publications. We don’t make an impact; consequently we don’t make a difference. Critical events and essential issues present themselves and we provide little cogent Orthodox witness. We live not only in a time when national and international events occur at break neck speed, but when moral and ethical judgments need an Orthodox compass.
If we insist on staying apart, how can we begin to have a louder voice? What about a joint press office that would issue simultaneous press releases in New York and Washington, perhaps under the auspices of the Assembly of Bishops of the Orthodox Church. What about a joint commission of Orthodox Theologians who could speak to moral and ethical concerns. Little voices are whispers and are not heard. We must begin to act united and who knows it might get to be a habit!!