SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — On Great, Holy and Good Friday, April 17, 2009, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, issued the following statement in response to recent commentary on his April 5, 2009 sermon, delivered at Saint Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX.
“I greet you in a spirit of repentance and forgiveness as we celebrate the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Certain comments that were made in the course of my sermon have provoked a reaction from my Orthodox brothers that I did not intend or foresee. I regret making those comments. In particular, I realize that some characterizations regarding the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Patriarchate of Constantinople were insensitive. As the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, I am motivated only by the desire to underscore our fervent hope that future discussion about the so-called Orthodox Diaspora will include the Orthodox Church in America and other Orthodox jurisdictions in North America. It is also my purpose to affirm our Church in the face of those who would question our presence as a local Orthodox Church in North America.
“It is now clear that I made statements that were uncharitable. I do apologize to His All-Holiness as well as to others who were offended. I also hope that through personal contact and acquaintance we might be able to overcome any misunderstandings that might arise or have clouded the relationship between our Churches in the past. My hope is that we might cooperate in an attitude of mutual support in our common mission, to spread the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the spirit of this Great and Holy Friday, I sincerely pray that as we contemplate Our Lord, Who ascended the Cross to “bring all men to Himself,” we will see in His patience and long-suffering the way to continue our work together for the witness and mission of Orthodoxy in the world and for Orthodox unity in North America.”