An appeal to two Orthodox senators
At the Orthodox Peace Fellowship conference at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in June, it was decided that the North American OPF Council should send a letter to the two Orthodox members of the U.S. Senate, both of whom have consistently voted against any legal restraints on abortion. Here is the letter sent in September to Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland. A similar letter was sent to Senator Olympia Snow of Miane. So far no response has been received from either senator. Both have recently voted against a bill that bans partial-birth abortions.
Dear Senator Sarbanes:
The Council for the Orthodox Peace Fellowship-North America is writing to express our distress at your support for abortion, even partial birth abortion.
You are a prominent member of the Church, an Archon. You have worked to promote the virtue of honesty (e.g., Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002). You have stood for human rights (e.g., the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act). These are tremendous accomplishments. However, your promotion of abortion is a grave scandal to the faithful. For many, the stand taken by you and other Orthodox Christian politicians (e.g., Senator Snowe) has led some Orthodox to believe it is morally acceptable for women to abort their unborn children, and that this is not a matter of concern to the Church — despite the Church’s responsibility for the moral education of society. Without the moral guidance of the Church, uninformed people are more easily convinced by the contemporary culture to commit the sin of abortion.
The Church from the earliest times (e.g., the Didache, the disciplinary canons) has always viewed abortion with horror and, when giving penances during confession, treated it as murder.
For an essay detailing the very firm ancient Christian opposition to abortion, we recommend “Abortion and the Early Church” by Michael J. Gorman. We also quote a recent statement issued by the Holy Synod of Greece, “Abortion does not constitute an individual right, but an ethically unacceptable act, and its legalization, direct or indirect, an impermissible social deviation.”
Tragically, many of the faithful have failed to comprehend our Church’s teaching that all human life is sacred. Thus, when they see an Archon (one “who [is expected to] conform faithfully to the teachings of Christ, and the doctrines, canons, worship, discipline, and encyclicals of the Church”) like yourself supporting abortion, they are confirmed in their poor understanding of the Christian faith.
High public officials who support pro-abortion bills are complicit in the sin of murder committed in each abortion performed under their legal protection. This is especially disturbing when these legislators are Orthodox Christians.
We pray that you will reconsider your views in the light of the Orthodox faith and the Church’s consistent teaching, and you will change your vote when the bill comes out of conference.
Because of the great need for clarification of your position on abortion, we want to make this letter available to the Orthodox Christian media thirty days from now, allowing you time to respond. Of course, your reply will be made public at the same time as our letter to you.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, and as constituents, we would very much like the opportunity to meet personally with you. We also promise you our prayers.
In the peace of Christ,
Catherine Brockenborough, Greg Cook, Judy Fleming, Jim Forest, Mitchell Glassman, W. David Holden, Daniel Lieuwen, Daniel Mathewson, John Oliver, Deacon John Oliver III, Sheri San Chirico, Monk James Silver, Donald L. Wescott