In order to understand the significance of ecclesiastical charters, one must first appreciate the role of statutes. Each local Orthodox Church follows its own statute, which applies the principles found in the ancient canons to the concrete requirements of church life in specific parts of the world. They are, for the most part, the result of the attempt to cast the living practice of the Church into clearly defined procedures.
Understanding administrative structures as they developed in the history of the Church and according to our canonical tradition is essential in reflecting productively on the present structure of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) from a canonical perspective. At the heart of the present question is whether the structure of the Archdiocese reflects the canonical tradition of the Church and, if it does not, can we consider this canonical deviation advisable or even acceptable according to the principle of oikonomia?
The commemoration of a bishop by a priest in the liturgy is the liturgical expression of their canonical communion. It is at the same time the affirmation of the right granted to the priest by his bishop to exercise priestly authority.
Understanding the current Charter of the Archdiocese and the historical context of how it came to be, is critical if we wish to honestly reflect in a meaningful way on the past twenty years of its existence. By looking at its strengths and weaknesses, we gain a better understanding for how we should proceed as we look to create the strongest foundations possible as our Archdiocese embarks on the next 100 years of its existence.
The charter is a text that is constantly changing over time in order to meet the contemporary needs of our faithful. With shifting eras and conditions, there comes a need to adapt to the present conditions and challenges that arise.
Understanding this history is the key to understanding our future. Similarly, comprehending Orthodox ecclesiology and the canonical tradition of our Church are the very foundation of our ecclesial life in America. Thanks to our Mother Church of Constantinople, we have thrived in America for the past 100 years because of our Orthodox ecclesiology and the observance of our canonical tradition. Let these be the hallmarks of our legacy in the next 100 years as well.