New York, December 6, 2022
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishop of the United States of America, which represents all canonical jurisdictions operating in America (except for the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia), issued a communiqué late last month warning about two Pennsylvania-based so-called “hierarchs” and their jurisdictions:
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America is made up of all the active, canonical Orthodox Bishops in the United States of America, from every universally-recognized autocephalous Orthodox jurisdiction. From time to time, clarification is needed regarding our membership. The Palestinian Orthodox Church of America and the Vicariate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Kyivan Patriarchate in the USA and Canada are not in communion with any Orthodox Church represented in the Assembly of Bishops. Accordingly, Ramzi Musallam – also known as Metropolitan Melchizdeck of the Palestinian Orthodox Church of America – and Bohdan Zhoba – also known as Bishop Luke of the Vicariate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Kyivan Patriarchate in the USA and Canada – are not members of the Assembly of Bishops.
A list of the member hierarchs of the Assembly of Bishops can be found here.
Though based in Pennsylvania, Ramzi Musallam travels and has connections all over the world. In February, the Jerusalem Patriarchate also issued a warning against him and the so-called “Palestinian Orthodox Church,” emphasizing that they have nothing to do with any legitimate Orthodox Church in the Holy Land or anywhere else.
OrthoChristian reported on both men mentioned in the Assembly’s statement back in 2017, when two parishes of the Eastern PA Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America decided to leave the Church under their influence.
Holy Resurrection Church in Alden Station, Pennsylvania, joined Musallam’s group, while St. Nicholas Church in Philadelphia joined “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko’s “Kiev Patriarchate.” They remained with Philaret after he joined and then left the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” to relaunch his “Kiev Patriarchate.”
The St. Nicholas parish then adopted Fr. Bohdan Zhoba as their priest, even though Zhoba had actually already been defrocked by Philaret’s jurisdiction, according to His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia (OCA). He has since risen to the rank of vicar bishop, overseeing Philaret’s parishes in the U.S. and Canada.
Although not in their jurisdiction, the Synod of Bishops of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” under “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko declared Zhoba defrocked on July 27 of this year.