Syosset, New York, March 28, 2022
On Friday, four hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America representing the Antiochian, Serbian, Romanian, and Bulgarian Churches in America, issued a strong pro-life statement in response to the controversial statement from Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. in January.
The same day, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of Washington and All America and Canada of the Orthodox Church in America issued his own pro-life statement on the occasion of the new calendar feast of the Annunciation.
While Abp. Elpidophoros spoke of the Theotokos’ consent to bear the Christ Child as an example of the “autonomy women” that must be respected, Met. Tikhon focuses on the issue from a different angle: “She consistently ‘has chosen the good portion’ (Lk 10:42) and found freedom in relinquishing her own autonomy to the limitless love of God. And so, through her, we now see revealed ‘the mystery hidden from all eternity’ (cf. Col 1:26).”
“The Theotokos emptied herself and became overflowing with the Holy Spirit—all because of her words, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word’ (Lk 1:38). May she inspire us all to greater depths of love and faith in God, as we sing on this day, ‘Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee!’” the OCA primate writes.
Read Met. Tikhon’s full statement:
To the Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,
Dear Beloved Children in the Lord,
I greet you on this Feast of the Annunciation!
Today we celebrate “the revelation of the eternal mystery” as “the Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin” (Festal Troparion). With deep thankfulness, we look to God for our salvation, which begins this day. We also give thanks to the Mother of God, because if she had not accepted the Archangel Gabriel’s message, she could not have played her critical part in Christ’s redemption of mankind from the tyranny of sin and death.
Today, then, is a feast of the victory of the cooperation between the human will and the will of God Himself. The Most Holy Theotokos achieved this victory not through the exercise of power or by clinging to worldly desires. Rather, the Lord’s victory came through her pious consent to the providential will of God and His loving care for all of humanity. In her humility, she chose to lay down all her own desires, her own plans, and her own will. She consistently “has chosen the good portion” (Lk 10:42) and found freedom in relinquishing her own autonomy to the limitless love of God. And so, through her, we now see revealed “the mystery hidden from all eternity” (cf. Col 1:26).
She gives us all hope that we too can make the choice to follow our Lord even into difficult, uncomfortable places. She is our inspiration to do the will of God in all circumstances: by turning the other cheek to an angry coworker, caring for a family member with a disability, or living faithfully in the countless other situations we find ourselves in every day.
Sometimes Christ asks us to do hard, even terrifying, things, like facing the reality of an addiction or refusing an abortion in the face of an unplanned pregnancy. Yet, even then, we can take comfort in abandoning our own will to the incomparable depths of the will of God, trusting ourselves to His compassionate mercy.
The Theotokos emptied herself and became overflowing with the Holy Spirit—all because of her words, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). May she inspire us all to greater depths of love and faith in God, as we sing on this day, “Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee!”
I remain sincerely yours in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
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.