At the Road to Unity Conference this past week, Metropolitan Jonah of the OCA spoke about some statistics that were shown during the conference. It appears that 60% of the Orthodox in the USA believe that abortion is okay. Well his Beatitude said that “If 60 percent of our people support abortion, then we have failed miserably in our teaching!” I agree.
Well I would say that the confusion on the topic perhaps come from the top of the pile. In 1990, then Metropolitan Bartholomew of Chalcedon was interviewed in a newspaper in San Francisco. This is what the now Patriarch of Constantinople and Spiritual Head of the Worlds Orthodox had to say:
Asked the Orthodox church’s position on abortion, Bartholomais described a stand more liberal than that of the Roman Catholic Church, which condemns abortion in all cases and whose clergy have, in some cities, excommunicated leading pro-choice Catholics.
Although the Orthodox church believes the soul enters the body at conception and, ”generally speaking, respects human life and the continuation of pregnancy,” Bartholomais said, the church also ”respects the liberty and freedom of all human persons and all Christian couples.”
”We are not allowed to enter the bedrooms of the Christian couples,” he said. ”We cannot generalize. There are many reasons for a couple to go toward abortion.”
I think His Beatitude needs to read Fr. Stanley Harakas’ Book, Contemporary Moral Issues Facing the Orthodox Christian.
“Since the earliest days of her existence, the Christian Church has consistently declared willful abortion of a human fetus to be equivalent to murder. St. Basil in the fourth century declared that. ‘Those who give potions for the destruction of the child conceived in the womb are murderers; as are they who take the poisons which kill the child (8th Canon of St. Basil)'”
Your Beatitude I do not think St. Basil would say “Generally Speaking” as you have.
“As Orthodox Christians, we profess that all life comes from God and that human life represents the most precious gift that our Creator has bestowed upon us. That God Himself places ultimate value on the sanctity of human life is evident by the fact that out of His great love for us, ‘He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)”
There is an exception to this teaching and Fr. Harakas states that “When the life of the mother is in jeopardy due to her pregnancy, then an exception to the prohibition on abortion may be allowed. Such situations are always tragic… but here the, the particular circumstances of the situation must be taken into consideration, in a spirit of Christian love and sacrifice.”
If that in not enough for Your Beatitude let us turn now to the Sixth Ecumenical Council held in 691 and the 91st Canon: “As for women who furnish drugs for the purpose of procuring abortion and those who take fetus-killing poisons, they are made subject to the penalty prescribed for murderers.” Fr. Harakas continues, “For the Orthodox Christian Church, it is incomprehensible how a well-ordered state can permit, tolerate or encourage any form of murder. Rather it is the duty and responsibility of the state to protect the innocent and the weak. As members of the Orthodox Church, therefore we should consider it our duty to support proper political efforts aimed at prohibiting abortion, except in extreme circumstances. It is therefore obvious that the Orthodox Christian Church, whose position on this issue has stood the test of two thousand years of history, stands opposed today to all efforts to continue to make abortion the permitted practice of this nation!”
Okay I am not the brightest bulb on the tree but that sounds pretty clear to me. It sounds like we Orthodox have a moral imperative to do whatever we can to oppose abortion in all forms, except where an exception can be made! Now I know that English is not the first language of His Beatitude and perhaps this should be translated for him, but it sounds to me that by his words he has taken himself outside of the Church!
He claims to be the Green Patriarch, and his Exarch the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, who was not present with the other Orthodox Bishops at last years March for Life by the way, stood in the same room with President Obama last year and compared him to Alexander the Great! Perhaps we should call him the Red Patriarch for all of the abortions that he feels, generally speaking are okay!