Moral Courage: Something the Apostolic Churches Can Do Now

President's Message
Fr. George Morelli is the President of the Society of St. John Chrysostom - Western Region
www.lightoftheeast.org

February 1, 2011

In several previous President's messages in the Light of the East I have picked up on the theme suggested by Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev, Chairman of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, that even before the complex historical and theological issues which divide the Apostolic Churches can, by God's grace, be resolved by the hierarchs of our Apostolic Churches, an alliance on moral issues can be formed. This alliance can be made now because the Apostolic Churches have in common: Sacred Tradition; Sacred Scripture in this Tradition; apostolic succession, and recognition of the Holy Mysteries Christ gave His Church. (Morelli, 2010).

Beyond just working to make known the history, worship, spirituality and theology of the Eastern Churches, the goal and aim of the Society of St. John Chrysostom is also to work and pray that our Orthodox and Catholic Churches, in conformity to Christ's prayer to His Father at the Last Supper: ". . . may be one, even as we are one." (Jn 17:11), can be in full communion with each other.

In this spirit, courageous moral decisions by our bishops, priests and laity in the face of secularism, moral relativism and political and religious correctness, should be encouraged and supported by our society members. Recently the Arizona Republic reported on some of the moral determinations made by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Phoenix since his consecration in December 2003. In fact, the newspaper labeled him "one tough Prelate."i I want to make it clear that I am not commenting on the "communication or discipline style" of the bishop, I am simply lauding his brave moral stand.

Among his decisions were: that politicians who support abortion rights were not welcome to speak at Catholic facilities; disenfranchisement of Catholic institutions supporting abortion; refusal to allow use of a church for a speech by a controversial Swiss theologian who had lost theological teaching faculties; strong support for traditional heterosexual marriage while opposing same sex marriage; taking firm action against clergy accused of sexual abuse.

Likewise worthy of moral note is the joint declaration by the canonical Orthodox Bishops of the West two years ago condemning same-sex marriage during the contentious Proposition 8 California election issue. These instances, and many others, could make up chapters in a book that could be titled: Profiles in Moral Courage in the 21st Century Secular World.

This year, the presentations at our Society’s General Meetings are geared to the understanding of Eastern and Western Church approaches to architecture, art, music and beauty in evangelization. Our major Light of the East Conference (05 February 2011 at St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church, Irvine, CA) is entitled Steps to Common Witness, Steps towards Unity. What better way to witness our unity than to proclaim our common morality, given to us by Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Himself?

REFERENCES

Morelli, G. (2010, April 30). Toward healing Church schism: Overview and psycho-theological reflection. www.orthodoxytoday.org/OT/view/toward-healing-church-schism-overview-and-psycho-theological-reflection.

ENDNOTES

i www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2010/12/27/20101227bishop-thomas-olmsted-dedicated.html#ixzz19cNpC0lF.

Date posted: February 1, 2011