December 21, 2003

So Much for Excommunication

In the wake of the vote on partial-birth infanticide in the US Senate, I commented on the importance of excommunicating the two Orthodox senators, as they have consistently promoted the death of the unborn in contravention to the moral teaching of the Church. As I was rummaging through various jurisdictional websites in preparing to blog on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers and the Forefeast of the Nativity, I surfed to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America site, normally a quite useful resource. There on the homepage amongst the news and events was "Senator Paul Sarbanes Visits Archbishop Demetrios". Wishfully and fleetingly I thought that perhaps the Senator had been summoned to answer for his actions.

Instead, how did the Archbishop describe the visit? “Being with the Senator is always a great joy and a great source for exchange of ideas. He is one of the people that has wisdom in political, international and cultural issues. He is someone who is a combination of a scholar and a politician. Therefore, it is more than enjoyable to be with him and have the opportunity to discuss issues of general interest, of current affairs -- political and otherwise -- and issues that are in the center of attention of contemporary people, here and in other parts of the Globe.”

This does not sound like someone who has been taken to task or called to repent. Nowhere on in the pages of the GOA website could I find a condemnation of the actions of Senator Sarbanes, even though I did find this:

The Orthodox Church has a definite, formal and intended attitude toward abortion. It condemns all procedures purporting to abort the embryo or fetus, whether by surgical or chemical means. The Orthodox Church brands abortion as murder; that is, as a premeditated termination of the life of a human being. The only time the Orthodox Church will reluctantly acquiesce to abortion is when the preponderance of medical opinion determines that unless the embryo or fetus is aborted, the mother will die. Decisions of the Supreme Court and State legislatures by which abortion, with or without restrictions, is allowed should be viewed by practicing Christians as an affront to their beliefs in the sanctity of life.

Even though it refers to the Supreme Court and State legislatures, the statement comes from a Clergy-Laity Congress which long pre-dates federal action on this issue. Surely the US Senate is contemplated as well.

If Archbishop Demetrios will not take a stand, other heirarchs must. The bishops of the Church must take a stand for the unborn. They must call to account those who would claim to be Orthodox and yet lead this nation in the slaughter of innocent children.

Posted by david at December 21, 2003 03:56 PM | TrackBack

I find this totally appalling. All I can think of is that the Greek Church in America is clinging in a very ironic way to the immigrant obsession of not wanting to appear 'old world'. They are so proud to have two Greek senators that they will excuse anything. I don't think there is any other excuse, not that that is an excuse but it's the best I can come up with. I don't suppose I should even try to think of reasons, it's just wrong, wrong, wrong :-(

Posted by: Havdala at December 22, 2003 02:40 AM

This is one of the problems with the myriad of jurisdictions in the US or even the UK and the reason that each need a unified autocephalous Church. It would cut the cultural ties and Orthodoxy would not be a Greek thing (or a Russian thing, or a Serbian thing, etc.). Then it wouldn't matter how many Greek senators there are.

Posted by: David Holford at December 22, 2003 10:23 PM

Let me preface this question by saying I am in NO way playing devils advocate, but am sincerely seeking resolve on this most frustrating situation.
Could it possibly be argued that since the new Partial Birth Ban does not provide provision for situations where the mother's life is in danger, that these senators were following what the GOA states as reason for an abortion? Or have these senators consistently voted pro abortion?

Posted by: aaron at December 23, 2003 09:11 PM


As the surgeon and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist noted in the debate, there is no reason for a partial birth abortion in the case where the mother's life is in danger. It is just not a medically reasoned option.

That being said, Senators Sarbanes and Snowe are unashamedly pro-abortion and have consistently voted in line with their views, which are completely in opposition to the moral teaching of the Church.

Posted by: David Holford at December 23, 2003 11:20 PM

Okay, that is very upsetting.

Is there anything that can be done to apply some sort of spot light to this problem?

Posted by: aaron at December 23, 2003 11:22 PM

It really is more upsetting than you know.

I wrote a long reply to your comment, but decided it deserved a separate blog entry.

Posted by: David Holford at December 24, 2003 01:43 AM