OCA Statement on the overturning of Roe v. Wade
Monday, June 27, 2022
To the Hierarchs, Clergy, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:
Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be!
On June 24, the American people received the news that the Supreme Court of the United States, in its opinion concerning the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has overturned the right to abortion created by the court in its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
Undoubtedly, this should be a cause for rejoicing for all Orthodox Christians. As I affirmed in my recent archpastoral message for the feast of the Annunciation, “The Orthodox Church in America has always believed, upheld, preached, and defended the sanctity of human life from the time of conception in the womb.” From the earliest times, the shepherds of the Church have taught that abortion and the exposure of infants, even when accepted by the wider culture, are violations of the sanctity of human life and an offense against God and man. The overturning of Roe v. Wade is the first step towards a society and culture that recognizes the value of all human life and every human being made in the image of the Creator.
Scroll down for more Orthodox responses to the ruling . . .
A Reflection on Abortion and Being Pro-Life
by Fr. Steven C. Kostoff
On June 24 – the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner – what no one really expected until recently, actually happened. This was the overturning of the controversial Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling of 1973, which granted women the constitutional right to abortion throughout the country. The new ruling is referred to as Dodd v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. For many, Roe v. Wade was flawed from the very beginning, both in form and content. (Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg considered it problematic.) It certainly did not have a grasp of the biological facts about the beginning of human life in the womb. Perhaps one way to envision the acceptance of abortion is to realize just how powerful is the affirmation of the self-autonomous individual, wherein “choice” is the ultimate act of freedom.
The Orthodox Church always has and always will resist abortion. Thus, the Church took a position of “holy resistance” in opposition to Roe v. Wade, encouraging peaceful and prayerful protests against the widespread practice of abortion since 1973. The Church also condemned violence as a legitimate form of protest. Abortion is actually a very old issue, since the ancient Church stood out against this common practice many centuries ago...
Dear Parish Faithful,
Our parishioner, Jacob Boehne, shared this personal account with me recently. I was very impressed by it, and asked if he would agree to have it shared with the parish. Jacob graciously agreed, so I am now sending it out to everyone. It is about his personal journey toward embracing and defending the "sacred gift of life." Please contact Jacob if you would like to speak with him further about his experience.
- Fr Steven
At age 13 I encountered a ministry called Rock for Life. They set up booths at music festivals and concerts to speak to young people about abortion and the sanctity of life. They used the punk aesthetic to attract people to the message. Walking by the booth I was interested in the older teenager with a tall colored mohawk giving out pamphlets and a guy covered in tattoos who had a presentation prepared. I asked to know about abortion and he offered me a warning before allowing me to see the binder full of photos from ultrasounds and images of ripped apart preborn children. I remember my heart breaking as I flipped through the binder and listening to that man describe the procedure and history of abortion. I was changed that day. I was awakened to a great pain and horror of the human experience.
After leaving the festival I was full of rage and I was marked with a desire for change. I came home with my Rock for Life shirt and a handful of pamphlets. I told everyone about abortion and the need for it to end. I told my classmates, youth group, teachers, and, through the power of my shirt, everyone I walked past in my community.
One of the responses recommended by Rock for Life was to “cherish life.” In my young mind, I had to figure out what that meant. So, I asked to volunteer in my church nursery. I figured one way to love babies was to play with some. I volunteered in the church nursery for years and I worked with another ministry in Newport, KY that provided free meals and clothing for families in need on Saturday afternoons in the park. My main job was to push kids on the swings while the moms grabbed food and clothing to take home.
Some years went by and I started volunteering at a sliding scale daycare at the Brighton Center. The center was there to provide childcare for low-income families. Overtime I understand more about abortion, pro-choice opinion, and the need for much more in our society to change than just abortion being illegal. The pain was deeper and even more horrifying than what that binder of photos could reveal.
June 24, 2022
Glory to God! Orthodox Christians for Life celebrates the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which made abortion through all nine months of pregnancy the status quo in our country for the last 49 years.
While the Dobbs decision does not outlaw abortion but merely returns its legality to the states, it is a momentous victory and a cause for celebration and thanksgiving.
As some states cease abortions immediately and others welcome “abortion tourism,” the pro-life movement is prepared with open arms to support women in difficult or crisis pregnancies through a robust infrastructure of thousands of pregnancy help organizations.
In this new post-Roe era, the mission of Orthodox Christians for Life remains the same: to act as a bridge between the pro-life movement and the Orthodox community, engaging Orthodox Christians in pro-life ministry and cultivating a culture of life.
Now more than ever, Orthodoxy in America must seize the evangelistic opportunity to demonstrate the Church’s uncompromising commitment to the sanctity of human life. Through our growing network of 25+ affiliated parish groups, we are equipping Orthodox faithful across the country to pray for an end to abortion, educate their parishes on life issues, and serve women in need in their local communities by partnering with pregnancy resource centers.
Please join us and the broader pro-life movement in our celebrations on this day and the continuing work before us to end abortion once and for all in this land.
SANCTITY OF LIFE SUNDAY 2022
Each year, the Orthodox Church reaffirms its commitment to, in the words of Metropolitan Tikhon, "the proclamation of the Sanctity of Life – as an opportunity to reiterate unequivocally our commitment to the defense of the defenseless, and the protection of the most vulnerable, and thus our opposition to abortion. As Christians it cannot be any other way."
From the OCA's 2022 announcement:
His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon has designated Sunday, January 16, 2022 as Sanctity of Life Sunday to be observed in parishes of the Orthodox Church in America and has released the statement below. Prayers and petitions for the liturgical services are available here.
Sanctity of Life Sunday will be a precursor to the March for Life on January 21, 2022, on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion in the United States of America. His Beatitude will be present and gather with the Orthodox faithful from across the country to remember the victims of abortion.
The March for Life will begin with a Divine Liturgy at Saint Nicholas Cathedral and conclude at the Supreme Court building. A complete schedule of events will be posted in the coming weeks. More information can be found at Orthodox Christians for Life.
Below are numerous links to outstanding materials from a variety of sources, including several of Fr Steven's classic meditations:
RESOURCES FROM THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA:
Read the OCA's announcement of Sanctity of Life Sunday 2022, with numerous links to further resources.
See more OCA Sanctity of Life Resources here.
See this story from 2020: Bishop Paul participates in national “March for Life”.
Read these meditations by Fr Steven on the Sanctity of Life:
Scroll down to explore a helpful introduction to the Orthodox Christians for Life ministry, as well as links to a recent conference held at St Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary, at which one of our parishioners delivered a brief talk on the Sanctity of Life and the issue of Abortion.
For more information and pastoral questions regarding the Sanctity of Life, please contact our pastor, Fr Steven Kostoff.
Venerable organization expands its goals, activities and resources for 2022,
announces schedule for Orthodox participation in annual March For Life on January 21, 2022;
scroll down for info, links and March For Life 2022 flier:
2022 MARCH FOR LIFE
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS FOR LIFE
NEW UPDATES - January 21:
Ancient Faith Radio interview with OCLife Executive Director Emily Wilkinson,
Link to attend the virtual March for Life Reception on Sunday, January 23.
...announced January 18
SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES
8:00 am - Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral, 3500 Massachusetts Avenue NW (attendance limited due to Covid)
11:00 am - Meet at the National Mall, corner of 12th Street NW and Madison Drive NW
12:00 - 1:00 pm - March for Life Rally onstage
12:30 pm - Orthodox hierarchs and faithful gather for the Service of Supplication for an End to Abortion
1:00 pm - March for Life commences up Constitution Avenue - Orthodox group will walk and sing hymns
4:00 pm - March for Life concludes at the Supreme Court
5:00 - 8:00 pm - Virtual Reception hosted by Orthodox Christians for Life, join livestream via YouTube
Full info, updates and numerous resources for the March for Life at oclife.org/march
Orthodox Christians for Life re-launches with energetic new platform:
Orthodox Christians for Life ("OCLife") is a non-profit organization dedicated to equipping the Orthodox Christian community to strengthen its commitment to the sacredness of human life from conception to death, illuminating the Church's teaching on life issues through education and engagement.
OCLife was originally founded in 1986 by a group of faithful volunteers, who were eventually unable to continue their work. After nearly two decades of dormancy, the organization was relaunched in 2020 to continue its important mission.
A New Beginning
Recognizing the important work accomplished by the original founders and the need for its mission to continue, an effort has emerged to revive the organization, and we have ambitious plans for impacting the Orthodox community.
Orthodox Christians for Life will strive to engage hearts and minds at all levels of Christian life, from our Sunday school classrooms to our seminaries. We will cultivate an Orthodox Christian pro-life ethic that incorporates prayer, education, and service into the existing ministries of our church communities. In collaboration with clergy and lay leaders, OCLife will produce pastoral resources, create sanctity of life educational curriculum, establish parish-based pro-life ministries, develop an Orthodox post-abortion recovery program, and further offer opportunities to strengthen the Orthodox community’s commitment to the sanctity of life.
As we renew its mission, we pray that Orthodox Christians for Life will bear fruit to the glory of God.
LISTEN to a recent conversation with OCLife President and Executive Director Emily Wilkinson, by Fr Andrew Stephen Damick on the Orthodox Engagement podcast (Ancient Faith Radio).
WATCH a recent YouTube interview with OCLife President Emily Wilkinson, conducted by Michael Baclig, of the Antiochian Men (AMEN) ministry (Diocese of Miami and the Southeast, Antiochian Orthodox Archiocese of North America).
Christ the Savior parishioner Natasha Frasch delivered a talk at the recent conference, Speaking the Truth in Love, held at St Tikhon's Orthodox Seminary in South Canaan PA, November 7-9, 2019.
The lineup of speakers included Archbishop Michael of New York & New Jersey, well known and prolific writer and speaker Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green, Archimandrite Sergius (Abbot of St Tikhon's Monastery), and many other scholars and clergy, monastics and laity, and was organized by Drs. David Ford and Mary Ford, who presented a retreat at our parish back in the 1990s.
"From ancient times, all who have believed in the One God have believed that He takes special care in the formation of each human being. As God Himself expressed to Jeremiah: 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you' (Jeremiah 1:5).
"In the moment of conception in the mother’s womb, a human being comes into existence. Yet even before being conceived and formed, this human being is known by God. God exists outside of time, and already knows and loves each one of us personally, knowing what we will do and who we will become both in this life and in eternity. As Solomon proclaims, “God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things that they might exist” (Wisdom of Solomon 1.13-14). God wants us to be alive, and certainly, this is why we must speak against abortion and its legalization in our country: it is in opposition to God’s loving plan to bring a human being into the world to live..."
Icon of the Meeting of the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth (LK 1:39-56), with Jesus and John the Baptist alive and aware in their wombs.
Dear Parish Faithful,
"To love Christ means not to be a hireling, not to look upon a noble life as an enterprise or trade, but to be a true benefactor and to do everything only for the sake of love for God." — St. John Chrysostom
Affirming the Sanctity of Life
Yesterday (January 22) was Sanctity of Life Sunday in the OCA. This is a day on which we openly affirm our belief that all life is sacred, especially the lives of preborn children in the wombs of their respective mothers. The Church affirms that life has greater priority than a "choice."
If you were at the Liturgy you will recall that I read this year's pastoral letter from Metropolitan Tikhon on the subject, adding some further commentary during the homily. This letter was firm, balanced and compassionate. It deserves a careful and thoughtful reading. This letter can be found on the OCA website, here attached for your convenience. At the end of letter, you will find the petitions and prayer that we offered to God in yesterday's Liturgy. These can be used during one's personal prayers at home. You will also find a video at the same site of Metropolitan Tikhon being interviewed. This is also well-done:
If you think that you need to be further informed on the Orthodox Christian position on bio-ethical issues - and who doesn't? - one of which is, of course, abortion; then I have included links to two remarkable books by Fr. John & Lyn Breck.
The strength of Fr. John's writing is that in addition to being an excellent theologian who writes with great pastoral sensitivity; he also has full command of the biological/scientific facts that are essential to being fully informed on these issues. Fr. John ably demonstrates how biology/science works in favor of Orthodox theological positions. Lyn Breck has years of experience as a counselor and spiritual retreat leader. In Ch. 5 of Stages on Life's Way she addresses addictions and family systems with great insight. These are two endlessly rich resources to have at hand when dealing with such important contemporary issues.
The Sacred Gift of Life : Orthodox Christianity and Bioethics
Stages on Life's Way: Orthodox Thinking on Bioethics (SVS Foundations Series Book 1)
— Fr. Steven
See also the Orthodox Christians for Life website for resources and ways to connect with other Orthodox Christians to support the Sanctity of Life.