Fear and Lack of Knowledge

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops has been offering interviews with our bishops on their website (see here). In the latest edition we have an interview with our Serbian Bishop of New Gracanica and Midwestern America His Grace Bishop Longin. In response to the question of what obstacle does he see in the work of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops he replies:

“I think the greatest obstacle is probably the strong nationalism …. that exists throughout the various Orthodox jurisdictions. Serbs want to be Serbs, Russians want to be Russians, Greeks want to be Greeks and so on. Every local church has its own rich culture, language and tradition which it does not want to abandon in any way. These traditions are important to the faithful as they should be. For example, the Serbs celebrate their family Slava, or Patron Saint Day, a tradition unique only to the Serbian church. No Serbian family would want to give up the Slava but some people feel that if there is administrative unity in Orthodoxy in America that they would have to give up their traditions….One can say that the true obstacle is fear and lack of knowledge about the end goal. Of course, the goal of the Assembly is not to abolish any tradition of any church, our goal is to promote spiritual unity which will bear the fruits of administrative unity down the line. Spiritual and administrative unity precisely would strive to preserve the traditions and culture of every community. The question is, how long can the traditional and cultural identity of any other ethnic parish truly last. I see within my own diocese the need for more English in services and parish life. This is the reality of living in this country. However I also see the need for serving the new immigrants and people who have been in this country for only a decade or two. This is a difficult situation but we are called to this task. We are called to unite the two into one flock under one shepherd. We are called to serve all without exception. God grant that we are able to do this and overcome any difficulties standing in our way for unity. First, within our current parishes, diocese, jurisdictions and then continent wide. “

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