Our legal, moral and canonical identity is proven and documented! This site corrects all the false and conflicting information published about us. If you visit the wiki links below you can read the claims and contradictions.
corrections will appear indented
We herewith attempt to correct some of the false information published on the orthodoxwiki website about this church. Many items are very iffy since in one paragraph they make one claim and in another paragraph they make a different claim. You should note that we show how those involved with this wiki site are biased and how the canons were and are violated by the so called ethnic churches i.e. Mainly the Russian, Greek and Antiochians. You may also note that many claims are contrary to the canons and some are documented as you read this page.
The American Orthodox Catholic Church (in full, The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America) was the first attempt by mainstream Orthodox canonical authorities at the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church for North America. It was chartered in 1927 by Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky), primate of the Russian Metropolia and his holy synod, based on a letter from Metr. Sergius (locum tenens of the Patriarchate of Moscow), (False:) and its history in any real sense as part of the mainstream Orthodox Church ended in 1934.
Fact: The American Church was headed by Aftimios Ofiesh from 1927 to 1966 as Archbishop of Brooklyn. In 1970 a second church was established by the Moscow Patriarchate - an act contrary to the canons, since this church was still the first Orthodox Church canonically established in the new world.
Fr. Serafim Surrency's book, The Quest for Orthodox Church Unity in America (1973) in its account of the formation of this body makes many claims to discredit THEOCACNA as the true canonically established Church.
Starting in 1927 the first move was initiated to found a canonical American Orthodox Church with the blessing of the Synod of Bishops in North America of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) and with the hope that world Orthodoxy would recognize the legitimacy of the new body. The initiative for this attempt belonged to Bishop Aftimios Ofiesh of Brooklyn as a member of the Synod of Bishops in his capacity as Diocesan bishop for the Syrians (Arabs) which acknowledged the authority of the Russian Church.
In this project, Aftimios had the assistance of two American born Orthodox clerics who had been ordained to the priesthood in the early 1920s, Hieromonk Boris (Burden) and Priest Michael Gelsinger. Both men were particularly concerned about the loss of Orthodox young people to the Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches in the US the Episcopal Church was of special concern, as it was a liturgical church in some ways similar to Orthodoxy and generally enjoyed a special status of prestige in American society.
At the outset, the new venture appeared quite successful within the space of only four years, with the support of the synod of the Russian Metropolia, four bishops were consecrated and an impressive charter was granted from said synod, titled An Act of the Synod of Bishops in the American Dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The charter itself referencing the authority of the letter from Metr. Sergius (locum tenens of the Patriarchate of Moscow) which indicated that autonomous Orthodox churches could be founded outside Russia granted to the new church body the full name The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America, with The American Orthodox Catholic Church as its "short name." The Charter follows;
The 1927 Charter of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America ®
An Act of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in North America (Moscow Patriarchate)
"Now we, the Synod of Bishops of the Dioceses of the American Russian Jurisdiction, believing ourselves called of Christ and moved of the Holy Spirit in behalf of Holy Church and Her children in America, and being fully authorized through the above Letter * by the highest Authority in the Church to which we owe and maintain strict obedient loyalty;
"We hereby, on this 2nd day of February (new style) in the year 1927, charge one of our number, His Eminence, the Most Reverend Aftimios, Archbishop of Brooklyn, with the full responsibility and duty of caring and providing for American Orthodoxy in the special sense of Orthodox Catholic people born in America and primarily English-speaking or any American residents or parishes of whatever nationality or linguistic character or derivation not satisfactorily provided with proper and canonical Orthodox Catholic care, ecclesiastical authority, teaching and ministrations of the Church or who may wish to attach themselves by the properly and legally provided means to an autonomous, independent, American Orthodox Catholic Church. And to that end, that he may discharge the duty and responsibility laid upon the Church and by us on him, we do hereby permit, empower, authorize and direct the said Archbishop of Brooklyn to found, organize, establish, head, conduct, control, and maintain a distinct, independent, and autonomous branch of the Orthodox Catholic Church to be known and legally established and generally recognized as "The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America" with the provisions that (1) such newly-established Orthodox Catholic Church shall be and forever remain in all respects truly Orthodox Catholic in the sense of the Fathers, Councils, Canons, and Tradition of the Historic Undivided Church still existing in the several Patriarchates and Autonomous Churches of the one Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Eastern Church, and shall be in full communion and Orthodox Catholic brotherly fellowship with, but only with, Orthodox Catholic Churches, Clergy, and Faithful, maintaining and strictly observing the full content and form of sound, undefiled Eastern Orthodox Catholic Doctrine, Traditions, Canons, Discipline, Order and Sacramental Communion; and (2) in as much as it is derived from and canonically founded by the Church of Russia through the primary and sole Orthodox Catholic Missionary and evangelistic efforts of the Russian Church in America and fully recognizes the primacy and canonical exclusiveness of the Russian Jurisdiction and hierarchy in America throughout the first century of Orthodox existence in the New World, the newly established Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America, while entirely autonomous and independent in its organization, constitution, administration, jurisdiction, and authority, shall preserve at all times its brotherly and filial relationship to the Orthodox Church of Russia represented in Russia by the Patriarchal Authority of Moscow and All Russia and in America by His Eminence, Metropolitan Platon, and his canonically established and recognized successors as Archbishop of the American Jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia.
Further: We do hereby, on this 2nd day of February, 1927 (new style), elect and give order for the Consecration of the Very Reverend Leonid Turkevitch to be Bishop in the newly-founded Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America as assistant to its Governing Head, His Eminence, the Most Reverend Aftimios, Archbishop of Brooklyn, and by him to be appointed to such position or See as The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America by its Constitution or By-Laws may provide or erect for the first assistant Bishop under its Primate.
"May God prosper and Bless this work in His Name and to His Glory. Amen. Issued under our hands and seals in the City of New York, on the 2nd day of February (new style) in the year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Twenty Seven."
Platon, Metropolitan of North America and Canada;
Aftimios, Archbishop of Brooklyn;
Theophilus, Bishop of Chicago;
Amphilohy, Bishop of Alaska;
Arseny, Bishop of Winnipeg;
Alexy, Bishop of San Francisco
Wiki published this excerpt: We hereby, on this 2nd day of February (new Style) in the year 1927, charge one of our number, His Eminence the Most Reverend Aftimios, Archbishop of Brooklyn, with the full responsibility and duty of caring and providing for American Orthodoxy in the especial sense of Orthodox Catholic people born in America and primarily English-speaking or any American residents or parishes of whatever nationality or linguistic character or derivation not satisfactorily provided with proper and canonical Orthodox Catholic care, ecclesiastical authority, teaching and ministrations of the Church or who may wish to attach themselves by the properly and legally provided means to an autonomous, independent, American Orthodox Catholic Church a distinct, independent, and autonomous branch of the Orthodox Catholic Church.
Signed by the entire Metropolia synod at the time - Metr. Platon, Aftimios, Theophilus, Amphilohy, Arseny, and Alexy, it further named Aftimios as the primate of the new church and elected and gave order for "the Consecration of the Very Reverend Leonid Turkevitch to be Bishop in the newly-founded [church]... as assistant to its Governing Head..." Fr. Leonid eventually did get consecrated to the episcopacy, though not in the new church body, and is better known as Metr. Leonty (Turkevich) of New York, primate of the Russian Metropolia. His refusal at the time was based mainly on a "press of family obligations" which led to his insistence on "a specific stipulated salary which could not be met". To replace Fr. Leonid as the first assistant to Aftimios, Platon chose Archimandrite Emmanuel (Abo-Hatab), who was consecrated on September 11, 1927, by Aftimios, assisted by Theophilus and Arseny.
Fact: The constitution which was drawn up for the church by the Metropolia is twenty-eight pages long plus some attached documents, and quite detailed, indicating a great deal of thought went into its drafting. Though it was dated December 1 of 1927, it was not made public until the following spring. Two significant passages are noted by Fr. Serafim in his book. From Article III: "This Church is independent (autocephalous) and autonomous in its authority in the same sense and to the same extent as are the Orthodox Patriarchates of the East and the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches now existing." From Article IV, Sec. 1: "This Church has original and primary jurisdiction in its own name and right over all Orthodox Catholic Christians of the Eastern Churches and Rite residing or visiting in the United States, and Alaska and the other territories of the United States, in Canada, Mexico, and all North America". Sec. 2 continues: Throughout the rest of the New World exclusive of North America proper the Church has Missionary jurisdiction...
After stating above that the Russian Synod (Metropolia) took great care, thought and detail in drafting this constitution, the author Fr. Serafim comments that they did not intend what they wrote "To anyone knowledgeable in Canon Law, these two sections just quoted are absurd. A priest takes it upon himself to attack the synod after the fact.
(False:) Not only did the Russian Bishops under Metr. Platon, whose own relationship to the Mother Church was abnormal, not have any authority to set up an autocephalous Church but obviously by the logic of the 2nd Section quoted, Metr. Platon and his Bishops should have subordinated themselves to the new Head of the North American Church, Archbishop Aftimios... One can safely say that Metr. Platon (perhaps with the exception of Archbishop Aftimios) and his Bishops never had any intention of granting any such broad and unlimited authority and jurisdiction and indeed this may well have been a factor which turned Metr. Platon against the new Church soon after its very inception.
Fact: The actual intent was for this new Church to be the anchor Church in North America, an early organization like todays SCOBA.
Aftimios Ofiesh (1880-1966, nee Abdullah Aftimios Ofiesh, names sometimes spelled variously as "Oftimios," "Ofeish," or "Ofiesch") was an early 20th century Orthodox bishop in America, serving as the immediate successor to St. Raphael of Brooklyn under the auspices of the Synod of Bishops of the Church of Russia (Moscow Patriarchate). He held the title Bishop of Brooklyn from 1917 until his death in 1966. In April 1933 he married, (False:) "...thus deposing himself from the episcopacy".
Fact: According to Canon 96 of the 141c a bishop cannot be ousted from his bishopric or episcopate until his trial has ended! Since Abp. Ofiesh was head of the American Church a tribunal would have had to been called by the North American Holy Synod. Even the Ecumenical Patriarch could not call a tribunal for the head of another autocephalous church-jurisdiction. In fact Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh remained head of the Church and a canonical Orthodox Bishop until his death in 1966. All attacks on his good name and reputation violate Canon 6 of the 7c. for 37 years. He suffered for his faith and watched the so called ethnic Orthodox Schismatics in their attempts to destroy this church contrary to the canons. The Schism was created in 1929 and his 1933 marriage has been their excuse for their actions all these years. Abp. Ofiesh suffered at the hands of the Schismatics who would go to any unchristian length to put an end to the American Church.
(False:) He is perhaps best known in our day as being the source of numerous lines of succession of episcopi vagantes and led the American Orthodox Catholic Church for most of its existence.
Fact: Ignatius, after leaving the Church without the required letters, is the one who became an independent "bishop" and laid hands on many non-orthodox men. Some scoba clergy like to place the blame on Aftimios but after Ignatius walked away Abp.Ofiesh could not control the acts by Ignatius. Abp. Ofiesh did not go around laying hands on anyone. Saying he is probably best known for that is like saying his consecrators are just as responsible.
Following the untimely death of Abp. Raphael of Brooklyn in 1915, Archimandrite Aftimios (Ofiesh) was elected to serve as his replacement in caring for the Arab Orthodox faithful in America under the Church of Russia's canonical authority. He was consecrated by Archbishop Evdokim (Meschersky) as an auxiliary bishop in 1917 with the title of Bishop of Brooklyn. In 1923, in recognition for his work in America, he was elevated by Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky) of New York to the rank of Archbishop.
In 1924, in the canonical chaos of American Orthodoxy following the onset of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the Arab Orthodox split into two factions, one which wished to go under the authority of the Church of Antioch and another which wished to stay faithful to the canonical Church of Russia. The former group was organized by Bishop Victor (Abu Assaly) of New York, thus beginning the official, but uncanonical, presence of the Church of Antioch on American soil. Archbishop Victor (Abo-Assaley) was sent to America by the Church of Antioch and then began to encourage Orthodox Arabs to come under Antiochian jurisdiction rather than that of the Russians or the new American church. He did not, however, make much headway in his endeavors.
On Feb. 2, 1927, Aftimios was appointed by the Russian Synod in America to form an English speaking "American Orthodox Catholic Church." (False:) Despite Aftimios' leadership and vision the new church only lasted for six years!
Fact: The American Church continues today! During this time Aftimios consecrated three bishops for his new jurisdiction, Sophronios (Beshara) of Los Angeles, Joseph (Zuk) for the Ukrainians, and Ignatius (William Albert) Nichols in September of 1932 as his auxiliary bishop of Washington.
The reaction against the establishment of the new church was "swift and negative," especially from the Karlovsty Synod (ROCOR), with whom the Metropolia had broken ties shortly before in 1926 and who viewed itself as the Metropolia's rightful canonical authority. ROCOR is now part of the Schism since they have returned to the Mother Church.
In letters dated the 27th of April and the 3rd of May 1927, the ROCOR Synod made clear their unalterable opposition to the formation of the new Church both on the grounds that Metr. Platon and his Bishops had no power or authority to authorize the founding of the new Church (it must be kept in mind that for almost two years now there had been a break between Metr. Platon and the Exile Synod) as well as on the grounds that there was no justification or rationale for the establishment of an American Orthodox Church, at that time or at any time in the foreseeable future.
Aftimios himself answered in June with "an equally forceful reply," denouncing the Karlovsty synod as "the uncanonical pseudo-Synod of the Outlandish Russian Orthodox Church," forbidding his clergy and faithful from having anything to do with them. Like his estranged former associates in ROCOR, Metr. Platon himself almost immediately turned his back on his ecclesiastical daughter and became "increasingly unreliable in supporting the new Church," mainly because of its continual publication of "hard line" articles in the Orthodox Catholic Review (edited by Hieromonk Boris and Priest Michael) aimed at the Episcopal Church. In a letter to Aftimios, Platon wrote: "'I must attest before Your Eminence that without their (American Episcopalian) entirely disinterested and truly brotherly assistance our Church in America could not exist' and concluded his letter by asking Abp Aftimios to order Father Boris to cease his 'steppings out' against the Protestant Episcopalians".
In 1928, Aftimios and his group mainly focussed on the establishment of their church's legal status and had some initial success. On May 26, another bishop was consecrated, Sophronios (Beshara) as bishop of Los Angeles, given responsibility "not only for the parishes who still considered themselves within the jurisdiction of the Russian Mission but also those parishes who comprise a part of the new Church and as a Missionary Bishop as well he was responsible for all territory west of the Mississippi River". In Feb. 1928 Archbishop Ofiesh incorporated the Church giving the Church a legal entity status. This Church continues today as the same Church.
In 1929 Bishop Alexander of the Greek Orthodox Church in North and South America claimed he, not Aftimios, was over "all" Orthodox in North America. This was false and created a Schism in American Orthodoxy by attempting to over throw the canonically created jurisdiction and authority of the American Church.
The Schism: Early in 1929, Aftimios attempted to gain support with the Greek Archbishop Alexander (Demoglou), the first primate of the newly formed Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America. The archbishop's response was that he had authority over not only all the Greek Orthodox in America but over all Orthodox Christians there. They were apparently "vexed over the fact that the Reverend Demetrius Cassis, an American of Greek parentage, had been ordained by Abp Aftimios for the new American Church".
Fr. Serafim believes that Platon's opposition to the new church had shifted from veiled to "quite open and above board," because Aftimios, in a letter dated October 4, 1929, declared that:
"His Eminence, the Most Reverend Platon (Rozhdestvensky), the Metropolitan of Khersson and Odessa, has no proper, valid, legal, or effective appointment, credentials or authority to rule the North American Archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Church in any capacity. This was in fact a true statement according to the canons since the appointment of Abp. Ofiesh to head this new church in 1927 and its Charter had been Canonically issued. Such being the case it follows that from the departure of His Eminence Archbishop Alexander (Nemolovsky) that the lawful and canonical ruling headship of the Archdiocese of the Aleutian Islands and North America in the Patriarchal Russian Church has naturally been vested in the First Vicar and Senior Bishop in this Jurisdiction" therefore "the title and position of 'Metropolitan of North America and Canada' has no canonical existence in the Russian Church." It is signed by "Aftimios, First Vicar and Senior Bishop in the Archdiocese of the Aleutian Islands and North America". Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh as head of the new American Church should have had the status and title of Metropolitan Primate.
At nearly the same time (October of 1930), Aftimios sent a letter to his clergy indicating they were to keep their distance from Bp. Germanos (Shehadi) of Zahle, who had come from Antioch (without its authorization, this being contrary to the canons) mainly to attempt to gather funds from Arabic Orthodox parishes but had also worked at encouraging such parishes to come under Antioch's jurisdiction. While in America, he also accepted under his omophorion one Archpriest Basil Kherbawi, "one of the most zealous and loyal priests of the Syrian Mission of the Russian jurisdiction who had been suspended by Abp Aftimios for disloyalty". Taking suspended clergy from another jurisdiction is contrary to the orthodox canons!
In 1931 the Society of Clerks Secular of St. Basil was established under the auspices of this diocese by Archbishop Aftimios.
In 1932 Ignatius Nichols was consecrater "Auxilary" bishop of Washington, DC for the new church.
In 1932, by a decision of a New York State court, Aftimios's cathedral was taken from him and given over to the Metropolia, as its charter stated that it could only be used by a hierarch subject to the authority of the Russian church. The canons say to avoid secular courts. Nevertheless, Aftimios consecrated two more bishops, Ignatius (W.A.) Nichols (a former Episcopal cleric who had become an Old Catholic episcopus vagans) to Auxilary Bishop of Washington, and Joseph (Zuk) for the Ukrainians, who had the allegiance of perhaps a half dozen such parishes.
Armed with new bishops at his side but probably quite discouraged over the state of his jurisdiction both internally and externally, Aftimios then made the decision which (False:) probably was the death-knell for the American Orthodox Catholic Church - His marriage mentioned below.
In 1932, Archbishop Aftimios was invited to come to St. Mary's Syrian Orthodox Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to arbitrate a dispute regarding the transfer of its priest, Fr. Constantine Abou-Adal. When Fr. Constantine left St. Mary's in November of 1932, the parish was without a pastor so Archbishop Aftimios served in that capacity organizing a choir and Sunday School at the parish. During this time, he met and became involved with one of St. Mary's parishioners.
On the 29th of April 1933 Abp Aftimios, contrary to Orthodox Tradition married in a civil ceremony to Mariam Namey, a young Evangelical Syrian girl born in America [she was actually a member of the Syrian Orthodox parish in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania] Aftimios refused to resign as Archbishop of the new Church. This marriage did go against some church canons but since the canon on married bishops was never adopted by this church the canon regarding marriage after ordination is all that was violated. Since the Antiochians have allowed a priest to remarry and remain a priest it would appear this canon can be disregarded at will and is unimportant now. In all fairness Aftimios did nothing wrong (see below) by Antiochian standards but their clergy continue to attack Abp. Ofiesh and this Church by false claims on orthodoxwiki!
According to the Wiki writers reports vary at this point as to what happened regarding Aftimios' episcopacy. According to the parish records of St. Mary's, he (False:) "was retired",
Fact: Archbishop Ofiesh never retired and lived in nearby Kingston until his death in 1966. Even public newspaper accounts of the marriage show Abp. Ofiesh did not retire as did the writings of his widow - The biography by Ofiesh's widow Mariam claims that Aftimios fully intended to function as a married bishop, having that intent even before he met Mariam. Mariam also gave us copyright of a photo later published in the Biography of Aftimios in his living room during about the last year of his life dressed as a bishop.
Three days after Aftimios's wedding, two bishops of the church, Ignatius and Joseph, are claimed to have held a "synod meeting" by themselves.
Fact: A Synod meeting must consist of at least 3 bishops and the writers did not mention Sophronios.They go on to write that Ignatius and Joseph "believed" that Aftimios had resigned but they fail to give any reason for that belief, and state they elected Joseph as the new "President Archbishop of the Church" with Ignatius being his designated successor. Then they go on to claim the bishops then voiced their support of Aftimios's marriage, stating that "'inasmuch as it is merely a Canon of the European and Asiatic branches of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, that a Bishop should not be married, such has no valid weight on the American Church where conditions are dramatically opposite' and 'therefore the Holy North American Synod congratulates His Eminence on the moral courage in the step he has taken'". This indicates the American Church did not adopt the canon on married bishops since not all churches did. Fr. Serafim then claims: (False:) "This new thunderbolt was sufficient to effectively eliminate any authority the new Church might still claim to have particularly when there were only six parishes by the summer of 1933 still adhering to the new Church".
Joseph denied making an agreement with Ignatius. He was already a sick man and he died on the 23rd of February 1934". Ignatius left the Church about Sept. 1933 to get married and he began acting as an independent Archbishop of the Holy Orthodox Church in America thus leaving all his sacramental authority behind. It has also been reported by the author named herein that Ignatius tried to enter into relations with the representatives of the Living Church in America (the Soviet-sponsored pseudo-church), which had been competing (especially legally) with the jurisdiction of the Metropolia and the ROCOR. He eventually broke relations even with the Living Church and returned to being an episcopus vagans as an independent Archbishop of the Holy Orthodox Church in America, dying as the pastor of a small Community Church (1942-47) in Middle Springs, Vermont, but not before starting multiple non-canonical small religious bodies, many of whom claim apostolic succession from him.
With the withdrawal of support for the American Orthodox Catholic Church (False:) it lost its canonical status.
Fact: The Church could not lose its canonical status because this church was a canonically established autocephalous body and because the so-called Canonical churches were in Schism. The withdrawal of support in itself does not remove a churches canonical status.
According to the book Orthodox Christians in North America (1794-1994) (False:) Aftimios "resigned his episcopacy and married."
Fact: Archbishop Ofiesh was the Primate, first vicar and senior bishop, from 1927 to 1966
Aftimios no doubt had in mind as he wrote such a letter that Platon had, at least in writing, already given him authority over all (English speaking) Orthodox Christians in North America. Fr. Serafim continues and says that Aftimios's denunciation of Platon's authority had "little or no effect" in the Russian parishes and on their clergy; "presumably they knew of the 1924 Ukaz of Patriarch Tikhon suspending Platon but specifying that he was to continue to rule the Archdiocese until such time as a Bishop was sent to relieve him". The announcement also had a negative effect on some members of the American Orthodox Catholic Church, as well, because two weeks after its being made public, Bp. Emmanuel (Abo-Hatab) requested canonical release from Aftimios (who reluctantly gave it) and then went over to Platon and with his direction violated the canons in an effort to bring Syrian parishes away from Aftimios and back under the Metropolia.
Despite troubles Aftimios nevertheless explored new opportunities and began negotiations to bring Bp. Fan (Noli) to the US from Germany to serve as a bishop in his church with jurisdiction over Albanian Orthodox Christians. (Bp. Fan eventually did come to America, but under the auspices of the Metropolia.) Aftimios continued to attempt to shore up his jurisdiction's legitimacy:
Abp Aftimios appealed to the successor of Greek Archbishop Alexander, Archbishop Damaskinos "as the special Representative and Exarch of the Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople" in view of the "present chaotic and helpless state of the Church of Russia" that the "Holy Great Church which you represent" could "bring about a united and disciplined Orthodoxy in America for greater and more profit to Orthodoxy than any other settlment of the Hellenic divisions in this country".
Fact: The Church retains all its original canonical authority to this day
It is further claimed (False:) that the only bishop left to the American Orthodox Catholic Church was Sophronios (Beshara), who then may have appealed to Platon for assistance and had also intended to contact Emmanuel (Abo-Hatab), but was deterred from doing so when Emmanuel died on May 29, 1933, being buried by Platon (his gravestone reads May 30). Another false claim they make is that "Bp Sophronius, despite all the setbacks, seemed to take his new post as 'President Locum Tenens of the American Holy Synod' quite seriously.
Fact: Aftimios was the presiding Archbishop until his death in 1966.
Due to the Schism created by the Greek Church relations between the small jurisdiction headeded by Aftimios and the mainstream Orthodox Church were not regularized before or after his marriage. The marriage is an excuse used by the ethnic to justify their actions. Wiki writers claim a de facto deposition of Atimios from the episcopacy which is mentioned above as false! Since that time, numerous and still multiplying lines of succession of episcopi vagantes continue to persist which all claim to trace their roots to Aftimios (mainly through Ignatius Nichols), some independents regard him as a saint. Some are married men, as well, which is a continual stumbling block to their unity with the mainstream Church, which has for centuries maintained a celibate episcopacy. Some Orthodox will accept these independents (old catholics claiming to be Orthodox).
Following his death in 1966 at age 85, Aftimios was buried in Maple Hill Cemetery across from St. Mary's Orthodox Cemetery in Wilkes-Barre. His widow Mariam subsequently wrote his biography, published in 1999.
Mariam Namey Ofiesh: Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh (1880-1966): A Biography Revealing His Contribution to Orthodoxy and Christendom. Sun City West, AZ: Abihider Co., 1999. (ISBN 0966090810) The book by Aftimios's widow, while including a great deal of historical information, is not mainly a scholarly work but is rather a biography aimed toward the exoneration of her late husband. One of its primary themes throughout is that Aftimios's marriage to Mariam was justified and that the canonical tradition of celibacy for Orthodox bishops is "man-made" and should be abolished.
It should be noted that contrary to the canons Metropolitan Philip allowed a priest to remarry and remain a priest (also see C6 of the 102c). It appears to be his (wiki) clergy who continue to attack Archbishop Ofiesh because he married. It was nice of them to publish proof that this Church (THEOCACNA) never adopted the canon on married bishops.
Canon 6 of the 102c addresses this issue. It would appear that the canon on allowing clergy to marry or remarry after ordination has been removed or can be waived by a bishop. If that is the case Aftimios did not violate any canons when he married based on the afore mentioned canon being waived AND because this church did not adopt the canon on married bishops. They, the SCOBA and pre-SCOBA clergy cannot have it 2 ways. One favoring a SCOBA group now and our Church in 1933.
We also wish to point out a few other issues reated to uncannonical acts by orthodox clergy and anyone else party to orthodoxwiki;
Canon 55 of the 85c: Insult a bishop.
Canon XVIII of the of the 30C: Conspiracy/plot against bishop.
Canon 6 of the 7C: Fabriarcate Charges against a bishop.
Canon 34 of the 85c: Clergy should do nothing w/o consent and knowledge of their bishop.
Canon XVII of the 20c: Bishop who is ill treated due kindness... and
Canon 17 of the 12c: Bp to be shown great kindness
The Quest for Orthodox Church Unity in America, by Archim. Serafim (Surrency) is quoted by the Orthodox Wiki authors-editors. Their use is self-serving and is supposition by the author.
Also to intentionally try to destroy a canonical, and canonically established, church shows an unchristian attitude of these "Orthodox" groups who were jealous of the American church. These same groups have been in communion with the Greek Church whose Archbishop of N. and S. America under Ecumenical Patriarch Basil III created a Schism, have prayed with each other and continue to pray together. This is evidence that they are also Schismatics and the canons direct the punishment!
These individuals like to claim a canonical bishop, Sophronios, would act contrary to the canons. They also go on to say that Sophronius wished to restore relations with Metr. Platon, he wanted to be accepted as an equal Head of a Church". Platon was focussed primarily at that point on the arrival from Russia of the representative of the Patriarchate, Bp. Benjamin (Fedchenkov), who had been sent to investigate the ecclesiastical status of Orthodox America. Thus Platon "felt he could not concern himself with the crumbling new Church and so the remaining priests and parishes wandered from one authority to another contrary to the canons or became completely independent," with the exceptions of Hieromonk Boris and Priest Michael, who were received back into the authority of Moscow and the Metropolia, respectively. The burial place of St. Raphael of Brooklyn, Bp. Emmanuel (Abo-Hatab), and Bp. Sophronios (Beshara), is Antiochian Village
The Antiochians appear to be so desperate to gain status as the American Church they continue to publish false claims like (False:) "Later in 1933, Sophronios officially removed and suspended Aftimios in October and deposed Ignatius in November". This is clearly false for a number of reasons.
Fact: One Bishop cannot depose or Excommunicate another. A synod or Council is required.
He still refused to submit to Platon or the Patriarchate, however: "Despite the efforts of Bishop Benjamin and Hieromonk Boris, Bp Sophronius refused to consider being subordinate to Bishop Benjamin although he would have been allowed a considerable amount of independence and would have been permitted to continue to live on the West Coast".
(False:) Fr. Serafim and the wiki authors claim the end of the "Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America" came when Sophronios died in 1934 in Los Angeles. Another error: (Fr. Serafim gives the date of his death as 1934, though his gravestone reads 1940.)
Fact: Sophronios is now buried at the Antiochian Village in Pennsylvania alongside St. Raphael of Brooklyn and Emmanuel Abo-Hatab. Interesting they would move the remains of Sophronios to lie next to St. Raphael if he were not canonical and had violated the canons as they claim. Actually Sophronios reposed in 1940 in New York and was originally buried in New York. His remains were later moved to Antiochian Village.
Fr. Serafim's analysis of the failure of this church is as follows: There can be no question that while the movers of the new Church were sincere and highly motivated that nonetheless they were fostering an idea whose time had not yet come, or to use more appropriate phraseology: Almighty God in his infinite wisdom did not see fit to bless this first attempt to have an American Orthodox Church. On the human level it is clear why the movement did not succeed. The Orthodox in America were still in their own particular ghettos. The church was unable to attract or find many clergy theologically trained in the Orthodox tradition and able to communicate with the young people with immigrant parents.
The church was established to serve the English speaking Orthodox.
External pressures on the movement also contributed to its demise:
(False:) While the Russian Council of Bishops gave initial support, it was only moral support, and the first person elected to be a Hierarch of the new Church in fact turned down the nomination because it was not possible to guarantee him any kind of salary—which is indicative of another primary deficiency of the movement, no adequate financing. Why would the "Synod" Charter the new Church but only offer it "moral" support The new Church lost its most important supporter, Metr. Platon, because of antagonism of the clergy initiators towards the Protestant Episcopal Church. some of whose authorities resented the American Orthodox Church as being a challenge to... the "senior Orthodox Church in America" [i.e., the Episcopal Church], and that pressure was put on Metr. Platon to withdraw his support or the financial assistance he was receiving from the Episcopal Church... would be cut off and perhaps he would be deprived of the use, on a temporary basis, of Episcopal churches.
Nevertheless, Fr. Serafim continues;
...it would be most unjust to blame the failure of the "Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America" solely or even primarily on Protestant Episcopal opposition. One can state it more strongly: the various Orthodox groups in America at that time simply were not ready in terms of church consciousness for the establishment of an American Orthodox Church.
Aftimios Ofiesh lived quietly with his wife Mariam Namey Ofiesh, fathering a son named Paul, who eventually became a Presbyterian elder in Mountaintop, Pennsylvania. After living in Wilkes-Barre and New Castle, towns in Pennsylvania, the Ofiesh family finally settled in Kingston (near Wilkes-Barre). In 1937 he was asked by parishioners in Allentown to return to active leadership in the Orthodox Church and made one unsuccessful effort in response. Members of his wife's family in Wilkes-Barre record that he continued to dress as a bishop and was called by some of them "Uncle Sayedna." He died in Kingston on July 24, 1966, a few months before his 86th birthday, leaving instructions that he should be buried quietly without any Orthodox clergy - because of what the orthodox had done to him and the church over the years.
In 1995, (False:) "an independent group claiming the corporate rights"
Fact: The Synod was not an independent group and with the approval of the widow of Abp. Ofiesh and surviving corporate directors became more active and took a legal stand in an effort to prevent various independent groups from attempting to take control of the church, and to protect our good name from falsley being claimed by independents have registered our corporate name "The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America" (THEOCACNA) and continuing to use our short name "American Orthodox Catholic Church" (AOCC). The church itself has continued to exist but due to lack of clergy from 1966 to 1995 was basically inactive. Mariam Namey Ofiesh sat on the corporate board of directors. We have since declared ourself successively a metropolitanate (1997) and then the American Orthodox Patriarchate (2003). In 1999 the church suffered an internal schism when four of the former bishops claimed the name for themselves. In the same year, Mrs. Ofiesh retired from the board in 1999 and departed this life the following year. In 2009 a similar internal schism occured again. The true Corporate Officers and Directors, named in the corporate documents and available from the Secretary of the Commonwealth website, do not have to claim to be who they are. They are documented by the state and by this church.
The American Church promised canonical punishmment would befall those who hold and profess these false and undocumented claims of the history of the American Orthodox Catholic Church. We base this on the truth and the canons mentioned herein since there is no documentation that Aftimios was deposed, and the jurisdiction was never canonically dissolved. In fact many of these claims show the writers are ignorant of the canons in many regards. No tribunal was ever called to remove Aftimios as Archbishop, there is no evidence he resigned or retired - in fact his widow stated he intended to continue as a married bishop. The Wiki writers even acknowledge this after their numerous unfounded claims. Many of their claims show facts contrary to the canons.
The group's website was, because of the numerous false claims of all the various groups, dedicated to the legal facts of their true and valid identity and canonical authenticity and especially to their registration of copyrights and service marks in an effort to put an end to the many independents claims that they are THEOCACNA.
This Church is a traditional Orthodox Church, following Holy Scripture, the Canons and Traditions of Orthodoxy. We do not knowingly pray with the deposed, excommunicated or anthamatized, nor with Schismatics or Heretics.