Niagara, Ontario, Canada, February 28, 2023
The annual assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Canada was held at the Church of St. George in Niagara, Ontario, over the weekend.
The assembly, consisting of clerical, monastic, and lay representatives, adopted several resolutions highlighting a number of issues both in Canada and throughout the Orthodox world.
The assembly first greets all the Serbian faithful who remain in Kosovo and Metohija despite the persecution they endure there. Referring to Kosovo as the Serbian Jerusalem, the delegates “remind again and again that no one has the right in the name of the fullness of the Serbian people to voluntarily renounce even a part of the most sacred land of Serbia—Kosovo and Metohija.”
The Assembly also expresses its support to the Holy Synod in its efforts to preserve the unity of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, and praises the Theological Faculty of St. Sava in Libertyville, Illinois, which has produced many notable graduates.
The Church representatives add their voice to that of His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije in his call to do everything possible to help those who suffered from the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
Addressing the war in Ukraine, the Assembly states:
We all together pray to Almighty God to enlighten the hearts, first and foremost, of those political factors on which depends not only peace, but the lives and destinies of millions of people around the world. Today, technology has reached such a level that no one and nowhere is protected anymore. We pray to the Lord of peace to soften the hardened hearts and enlighten the minds of all political and secular actors, especially those who support and prolong the war, so that the war in Ukraine between brothers of the same blood and same faith may be brought to an end as soon as possible.
The Assembly also expresses its unwavering support for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine:
At the same time, we address our prayers to the Lord to grant wisdom to the heads of the Local Orthodox Churches to work with the utmost responsibility, first before the Living God and then before the people, to preserve the unity of the Orthodox Church. From this place we express our prayerful support for His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, head of the autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and his hierarchs, clergy, monastics and faithful people to persevere in maintaining peace and unity in the Church. At the same time, we express regret for the misunderstanding and division that has arisen among the Orthodox brothers. These divisions and misunderstandings are most visible to us who live in the diaspora and who until recently had the opportunity to witness the unity of the Church daily through the joy of pan-Orthodox gatherings. Unfortunately, this year’s divisions are also visible and require additional prayers from all of us for peace and unity.
The resolutions also pinpoint a number of disturbing trends in Canada.
“We take this opportunity to express our concern about the growing trend of an increasing number of atheists in Canada,” the Church representatives write, noting that the number of non-believers has risen from 17% to 35% over the past 20 years, while the number of declared Christians has dropped from 67% to 52%, “making Canada close to ceasing to be a predominantly Christian country for the first time in its history.”
The Assembly is also concerned about the increasingly liberal attitude towards opiates, including the recent legalization of possession of a certain amount of heroin in British Columbia.
“More and more liberal legal arrangements regarding opiates are inevitably leading society in a bad direction,” the Assembly writes, “while at the same time, recognizing that the problem of addiction and suicide is increasing, the authorities are considering opening clinics in certain places that would deal with addicts. That sounds like if someone, for example, would ignore the cause of cancer, and try to heal an open wound from that vicious disease just by putting a bandage on it.”
Finally, while the idea of assisted suicide used to be “unthinkable in intelligent and civilized societies… We note with regret that assisted suicide is no longer foreign in Canada today.”
But the Assembly participants maintain faith and hope: “With firm faith we pray to the Lord Life-Giver that such and similar new concepts, which are actually concepts of death, may not become legally binding in our wonderful country of Canada.”
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