Greek response to Orthodox Church in America autocephaly

The Greek response to the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) consisted primarily in a number of letters and statements made in the early 1970s by the ancient autocephalous patriarchates of the Orthodox Churchthe Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalemalong with the Church of Greece. Like most autocephalous Orthodox churches worldwide, the Greek churches rejected the grant of autocephaly by the Church of Russia to the American Metropolia (the former name of the Orthodox Church in America), and with the leadership of Patriarch Athenagoras I (Spyrou) of Constantinople, issued various responses detailing canonical, historical and practical arguments against the grant.

The primary documents detailing these churches' response were published initially in the Orthodox Observer, the official publication of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and published in 1972 in book form as Russian Autocephaly and Orthodoxy in America: An Appraisal with Decisions and Formal Opinions. The book also includes an introductory essay by Archbishop Iakovos (Coucouzis) of America, a Prolegomena Fr. Nicon D. Patrinacos, and an appendix by Metropolitan Emilianos, permanent representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the World Council of Churches. The authors of the responses of the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Greece are Pope Nikolaos, Patr. Elias IV, Patr. Benedictos and Abp. Ieronymos, respectively, the primates of their respective churches. (All page references below are from this volume.)

Most of the arguments detailed below are shared in the responses of all the churches and of the other essays included in the volume, but the Churches of Constantinople and Greece give the most detailed comments (pp. 30–44 and 53-67, respectively).

Some of the above correspondence is also included in a volume published by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, The Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America (originally published in St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly), accompanied by articles by John H. Erickson and Alexander Schmemann defending the autocephaly.

Shortly after the official correspondences of the hierarchs to one another, Panagiotis N. Trempelas, a former member of the faculty at the School of Theology at the University of Athens, published The Autocephaly of the Metropolia in America, which gave more detailed historical and canonical arguments against the grant of autocephaly, including a rebuttal of the Schmemann article, "A Meaningful Storm".

Arguments in favor of OCA autocephaly

The Muscovite-Metropolia arguments (made on canonical, historical and practical grounds) being refuted by the Greek Orthodox world may essentially be summarized as follows:

Arguments against OCA autocephaly

Canonical arguments

Historical arguments

Practical arguments


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