2006-08-28 13:55:00

Reply of Bishop R.W.Dunkan, episcopal diocese of Pittsburgh, to Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations

Your Eminence,

May Grace and peace be multiplied upon you in Christ Jesus.

Your letter of 21st August, 2006, was received with very great joy. Your fraternal care for us is a timely confirmation of our will to endure in the face of hardship and adversity. Lamentably, our trial is being brought on from within the Body of Christ rather than by forces outside. To you who have suffered before us, we salute you.

For the Diocese of Pittsburgh (and the small number of dioceses who continue to stand with us) to achieve the restoration of relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church would be of the greatest significance imaginable. May our Good Lord give us the means to make it so.

There is one matter, about which I must humbly advise you, that may impede the recognition you so graciously propose. Among the dioceses that Pittsburgh leads are dioceses that do ordain women to the diaconate and presbyterate, just as do many of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion. Under these circumstances would the Russian Orthodox Church still be willing to recognize those dioceses in our fellowship that share this practice, Pittsburgh being among them?

Let me assure you that the Diocese of Pittsburgh, together with each of the dioceses banded together with us, share Your Eminence's profound conviction that secular liberal political and philosophical ideas, however we may treat them, cannot and must not change the Apostolic Tradition and the understanding of New Testament texts guarded by this Tradition. Any attempt to adjust Christian morality and especially the church order to the political tastes of an external environment is dangerous as it threatens with a loss of Christian identity. There must be no fear in the efforts to keep faithful to Christ." It is this profound conviction that guides us and no other.

As Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and on behalf of those Episcopal bishops and dioceses committed to the Faith once delivered, I stand ready to carry forward whatever process might lead to the restoration of those extraordinarily happy relationships, recognitions and mutual undertakings initiated by St. Tikhon the Patriarch of All Russia and his contemporaries, both Orthodox and Anglican.

With love, respect and gratitude in Christ Jesus,

The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan,
August 24, 2006