Record of Protest Against the Infringement of Religious Liberty by the Department of Health and Human Services
In this ruling by HHS, religious hospitals, educational institutions, and other organizations will be required to pay for the full cost of contraceptives (including some abortion-inducing drugs) and sterilizations for their employees, regardless of the religious convictions of the employers.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. This freedom is transgressed when a religious institution is required to pay for “contraceptive services” including abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization services that directly violate their religious convictions. Providing such services should not be regarded as mandated medical care. We, the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops, call upon HHS Secretary Sebelius and the Obama Administration to rescind this unjust ruling and to respect the religious freedom guaranteed all Americans by the First Amendment.
Dear to Christ:
Greetings to you, your families and your congregations on this feast of the Holy Twelve Apostles. May it be blessed for your salvation. Happy feast!
In light of recent events, I share with you the following longstanding (and unchanging) position paper on "same sex unions" issued by the heads of all the canonical Orthodox Christian jurisdictions in the United States in 2003.
Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
NEW YORK – In light of recent events, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America reminds the faithful of the very instructive statement issued already in 2003 by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), which was at the time the Pan-Orthodox representative body in the Americas. The same statement, which follows, still stands today.
Statement on Moral Crisis in Our Nation
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
As members of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), representing more than 5 million Orthodox Christians in the United States, Canada and Mexico, we are deeply concerned about recent developments regarding “same sex unions.”
The Orthodox Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, firmly grounded in Holy Scripture, 2000 years of church tradition, and canon law, holds that marriage consists in the conjugal union of a man and a woman, and that authentic marriage is blessed by God as a sacrament of the Church. Neither Scripture nor Holy Tradition blesses or sanctions such a union between persons of the same sex.
Holy Scripture attests that God creates man and woman in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:27-31), that those called to do so might enjoy a conjugal union that ideally leads to procreation. While not every marriage is blessed with the birth of children, every such union exists to create of a man and a woman a new reality of “one flesh.” This can only involve a relationship based on gender complementarity. “God made them male and female… So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mark 10:6-8).
The union between a man and a woman in the Sacrament of Marriage reflects the union between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:21-33). As such, marriage is necessarily monogamous and heterosexual. Within this union, sexual relations between a husband and wife are to be cherished and protected as a sacred expression of their love that has been blessed by God. Such was God’s plan for His human creatures from the very beginning. Today, however, this divine purpose is increasingly questioned, challenged or denied, even within some faith communities, as social and political pressures work to normalize, legalize and even sanctify same-sex unions.
The Orthodox Church cannot and will not bless same-sex unions. Whereas marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred institution ordained by God, homosexual union is not. Like adultery and fornication, homosexual acts are condemned by Scripture (Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This being said, however, we must stress that persons with a homosexual orientation are to be cared for with the same mercy and love that is bestowed by our Lord Jesus Christ upon all of humanity. All persons are called by God to grow spiritually and morally toward holiness.
As heads of the Orthodox Churches in America and members of SCOBA, we speak with one voice in expressing our deep concern over recent developments. And we pray fervently that the traditional form of marriage, as an enduring and committed union only between a man and a woman, will be honored.August 13, 2003
† Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
† Metropolitan HERMAN
Orthodox Church in America
† Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
† Archbishop NICOLAE
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America America and Canada
† Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada
† Metropolitan JOSEPH
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
† Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos, Treasurer
Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA
† Metropolitan CONSTANTINE
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA
† Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America