To: Dept. of External Relations,
and The Holy Synod
From: Archbishop Victor
Retired Metropolitan & Archivist
Subject: American Orthodox Catholic Church- short name for The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America.
Before we proceed, may we request the courtesy of a response from you personally so we know you received this letter. We received no previous response or acknowledgement from past correspondence.
We shall attempt to keep this letter on a friendly basis, although at times we may sound more like we are writing as St Paul did--friendly but firm. You will likely disagree with what we state herein but we believe our archives and documents will support our claims.
In 1927 our Church was canonically established by the Synod of Bishops in North America of the Moscow Patriarchate under Metropolitan Platon of Canada. Archbishop Ofiesh was appointed to head this new Church in the New World. In 1928 Archbishop Ofiesh incorporated this Church to serve as the legal entity of the new Church. We continue today.
In 1970 the Moscow Patriarchate established a second Church, the O.C.A., in and for North America. We continue today but they continue, as the other jurisdictions do, to ignore us.
We continue to be attacked by Orthodox clergy from these "canonical" jurisdictions. We view such attacks as unchristian and worse. The priest’s who edit pages about our Church on Orthodoxwiki appear to attack the clergy of the early (first) synod of this Church and us today. Since they have no facts on certain matters they appear to speculate by writing that Archbishop Aftimios retired to marry in 1933. They then go on to state that he deposed himself by marrying: and also claimed Bishop Sophronius suspended Archbishop Aftimios and excommunicated Bishop Ignatius (who left the Church). As you know, one bishop cannot act against another so this would be contrary to the canons; this bishop is supposed to be buried next to St Raphael. Also written by these clergy are such statements as "Bishops Joseph and Ignatius" stated the canon on married bishops was a European and Asiatic canon with no bearing on the American Church, which would appear to show this Church never adopted that canon. This is supported by the writings of a Greek priest who acknowledges that not all Churches adopted that canon.
Those same web pages also state that the Greek Archbishop in 1929 claimed that he was over all Orthodox in North America. This we declare is the final act that caused the Schism in American Orthodoxy. For two years our clergy were blocked in their efforts to build this Church, the Cathedral was taken in Court action (contrary to canons), clergy came to this country without permission to raise funds and they attempted to steal our clergy and parishes; and even accepted one of our suspended clergy without the required letters. Other clergy were accepted without letters, even one who had been attacked by the public for shall we say being over friendly with some young people. He ran to Archbishop Ofiesh for protection, but this was probably not in any files when he was accepted back into the Russian Church. This detail is not written about on the web pages of Orthodoxwiki.
Archbishop Ofiesh married and this has continued to be the claimed reason for not recognizing this Church but the marriage was in April 1933 and the Church began in Feb 1927. This claim is a lie and an excuse. Where do the canons say to destroy a sister Church for the wrongs of one bishop? That is what the combined Orthodox jurisdictions have attempted to do and in so doing these and other actions and claims are contrary to the canons!
Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius Nichols left this Church in June, 1933 and married. Then in 1934 he was ordaining as an "Archbishop" of the”Metropolitan Synod of the Holy Orthodox Church in America”, which appears from our information to be an independent (Episcopi Vagant) jurisdiction. We know Ignatius started to use the name of the Society of Clerks Secular of Saint Basil after leaving this Church. It appears the Society was a copy of the one in our Church. The Society was established as part of this Church in 1931. We understand Turner was ordained by Ignatius long after leaving this Church. It would appear that Turner was ordained into an independent jurisdiction by this former canonical bishop. Alexander (Paul) Tyler Turner of the Western rite was ordained by Ignatius (William Albert) Nichols who had been an Auxiliary bishop of our Church. Turner was consecrated by Ignatius Nichols in 1939 outside the canonical church for Ignatius’ Society of Clerks Secular of Saint Basil - Western Rite. After becoming the head of the Society in 1947 he was received into the Antiochian Archdiocese in 1961 as a priest. [This is published on Orthodoxwiki by Antiochian and OCA clergy we understand].
Since Ignatius had left without a letter of Excardination and since the ethnic clergy write that Sophronius excommunicated him and he began ordaining with old Catholics and those claiming to be Orthodox most likely based on his past with our Church we denounce his acts as not being valid and not from this Church. There are way to many independents claiming to be Orthodox who are independent Old Catholics at most.
The Metropolitan Synod-Holy Orthodox Church in America was listed at 321 W. 101st St., NYC which was the home address for Archbishop Georgius (Plummer). I believe he was consecrated by Ignatius in 1934 and Witowski (called De Wittow) was ordained by Ignatius in 1934. De Wittow was consecrated by Georgius, Ignatius, and a third bishop in 1936 at the same Church. When Plummer died De Wittow married his widow. Their Church was also a Rosicrucian hall or temple. They were never part of our Church.
We were elected to establish the new Church Synod, which we did. We had the support of the Archbishops widow and she sat on the board of trustees of the Church Corporation until 1999.
I was asked a number of times to assume the leadership and finally accepted the office in 1997 with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I did not seek this Office but my eyes were opened to the synod members who were in fact not orthodox but who wanted titles and respect in their false office. When we voted to require mandates from the Synod for "ALL" ordinations they objected and left. One resigned in writing then tried to claim he was us. Another was emotionally ill, a third was a criminal selling fake degrees (not in our Church name).
I held the office of Metropolitan for ten and a half years. I have a bad reputation for openly denying the claims of the many independents who claim lines from this Church, who use our name, or claim to be us under another name.
While any of the other Orthodox, like those writing on Orthodoxwiki, could have cleared up the many false claims; they prefer to just say Aftimios was responsible for the many independent groups claiming his lines and this is clearly false according to our understanding of Orthodoxy and lines of Apostolic Succession.
Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh is listed as a Martyr of this Church. In part due to the writings of the Clergy who continue to publish false and misleading information about him over 42 years after he reposed. We also have icons. We have never referred to him as a Saint; this is something members of the independent movement claim.
It may be time for peace between our jurisdictions. We need to have clergy show respect to the first synod; not just +Sophronios who is buried next to St. Raphael whose memory has been attacked also. Priests and deacons cannot continue to disrespect the memory of Abp. Ofiesh, a canonical Orthodox Bishop and Martyr and Confessor of America in their efforts to prove a lie.
You may continue to ignore our correspondence or take the step to correct this matter after all these years. Failure to work towards reunion and friendship continues to look bad for all Orthodox because of the false information being published by other SOBA clergy in North America that has finally been proven false by their own hand. The big circle has made it back to the start showing what is claimed is not true. Our Mysteries and decrees have been accepted by the Roman Catholics and one of our former clergy was accepted by the Episcopal Church - USA (Anglican Communion).
We look forward to a response from you.
I remain your brother in Christ,
P.O. Box 121
Sudan, Texas 79371 USA