Strong Orthodox presence at March for Life marred by controversial speech by Archbishop Elpidophoros

Washington, D.C., January 24, 2022

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As usual, there was a strong Orthodox presence at the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., held on Friday, January 21, this year.

The Orthodox presence was led by twelve hierarchs, including His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of Washington and All America and Canada and several other hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in America, and hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

The day began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at the OCA’s St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, reports the OCA.

The hierarchs and other clergy then joined many other Orthodox Christians, including delegations from St. Tikhon’s Seminary and St. Vladimir’s Seminary, at the rally.

While the Orthodox participation in the March for Life has been headed for decades by the OCA, the Orthodox remarks and prayer from the rally stage were offered by Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

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The Archbishop’s speech has proved to be ambiguous and controversial.

He begins:

We affirm the gift and sanctity of life—all life, born and unborn. As Christians we confess that every human being is made in their image and likeness of God. Every life is worthy of our prayer and our protection, whether in the womb, or in the world. We are all responsible for the well-being of children. We are their “keepers,” and cannot shirk from our accountability for their welfare.

It is his next paragraph that, as can be seen from numerous comments on social media, has left people confused about his meaning:

At the same time, we also affirm our respect for the autonomy of women. It is they who bring forth life into the world. By His incarnation, our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ assumed human nature, through His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. She freely chose to bring Him into the world, and God respected her freedom. We can and must make the case for life, both born and unborn, by our own example of unconditional love.

The Archbishop’s speech has drawn many comments on his Twitter feed, both negative and positive:

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Colleen1/25/2022 3:57 am
Out of all the Catholic, Orthodox, and pro-life media outlets, this article is one of only two I have found to address this scandal. The other was from
sherlock_holmes1/24/2022 11:25 pm
I think he was talking about birth control using a variant of Newspeak !
Valerie Protopapas1/24/2022 7:28 pm
My late husband, Deacon John Protopapas, Fr. Edward Pehanich (Carpatho-Russian Archdiocese) and myself FOUNDED Orthodox Christians for Life. I have written a booklet, Abortion, Oikonomia and the Hard Cases to help priests deal with those "hard cases" that present abortion as an acceptable choice for Orthodox Christians. I am not really surprised to see a "hierarch" speak to such issues using a "yes that sounds like a no." When John and I would speak at some parishes, we often found an acceptance of abortion usually in order to go along with the culture and not be "different." That Christians have ALWAYS been "different" with regard to the World never seems to enter into some people's heads! We also found that among many Greek women, abortion was a sort of "sorority ideal" that, I suppose, gave them a way to reject the "patriarchal society" in which they lived. We spoke with one Greek newspaper editor who had little sympathy with "our point of view." That it was the "point of view" of the Orthodox Church seemed of little interest. I don't remember the Father of the Church who said this, but he did say that the Church was saved by the ordinary priests and the laity for often the hierarchs fully embraced the heresy of the day. I am very glad indeed to see our creation still goes forward and witnesses to the truth regarding both the gift of Life and Truth of Christ within the Orthodox Church.
Joseph Lipper1/24/2022 6:38 pm
He didn't make any political statements in his speech. This entire speech was addressed to Orthodox Christians, placing the responsibility of human life on the Church rather than the government (how very un-Democratic!) Usually, we would hear speeches at the March For Life that reference overturning Roe vs. Wade and calls for "faith in action", otherwise known as voting for your Pro-Life (Republican) candidate. That's what was missing. He didn't make any statements here that were qualifiably Democrat or Republican. Oh my, the outrage!
Diakon Rupert1/24/2022 6:09 pm
There is nothing ambiguous about this statement, when viewed from an American's perspective of word choice. The evil latent in the archbishop's comment lies in his connection of the Mother of God's consent to bear the Word with a woman's right to choose, implying that a PRO-CHOICE position finds its model in the Mother of God. Shame on shame, especially at a pro-life rally!!
Peter 1/24/2022 4:28 pm
They’ve probably been blocked. Elpidophoros blocks anyone on social media who doesn’t agree with him
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