The Very Reverend Patrick Henry Reardon
Archpriest and Pastor
January 17, 2010
The Most Blessed JONAH
The Orthodox Church in America
PO Box 675 Syosset, NY 11791-0675
I beg your pastoral blessing, please. You receive this letter as President and Chairman of the Board of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, and I send it as a friend of the seminary.
I write to complain of the seminary’s decision to confer an honorary degree on Rowan Williams later this month.
Although the scholarly publications of Dr. Williams may be cited as adequate reason for his lecture at the seminary, news of the plan to honor him is already prompting a popular consternation and even scandal.
Outside of academic circles, this individual is chiefly known for his public support for sexual perversion within the Anglican Communion.
I write on behalf of two groups of people: First, I speak for the simple faithful who worship in our Orthodox parishes, those friends of the St. Vladimir’s who feel betrayed by the seminary’s decision with respect to Dr. Williams.
Second, I speak for thousands of loyal and believing Anglicans, in this country and around the world, for whom the public policies of Dr. Williams have been a source of pain and distress during the past seven years of his unfortunate tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Some of these Anglicans, in fact, have been pursuing a path toward membership the Orthodox Church. The seminary’s resolve to honor Rowan Williams is causing them to reconsider their hope to join the Orthodox Church.
I learned of an instance of this as recently as this afternoon. Indeed — if I am permitted a personal note — let me mention that in those dark days, a quarter of a century ago, when I was a struggling Anglican trying to find his way to the Orthodox Church, my weak faith could not have sustained such an offense.
If a major Orthodox seminary had conferred such an honor on such a man as Rowan Williams back then, I likely would never have joined the Orthodox Church.
Your Beatitude, I suffer no illusion about the seminary’s strength of resolve to honor Dr. Williams. I am confident, rather, that no contrary plea from me will be taken seriously.
I write only to satisfy my conscience that a grave moral duty has been met — to wit, the obligation to warn fellow Christians that they have embarked on a path that will lead only to scandal and disgrace to Holy Church. Indeed, this scandal is already in play.
I beg the forgiveness of your Beatitude if I have expressed myself intemperately. This is likely the case, I suppose, for this situation is truly heartbreaking.
Kissing the Sacred Omophorion, And seeking your Beatitude’s paternal benediction,
Your faithful son in Christ our Lord,
(Very Reverend) Patrick Henry Reardon
cc: Metropolitan PHILIP Bishop Mark
Bishop Basil Father John Behr
Father Chad Hatfield
Father Thomas Hopko
Father Robert Munday
Father Wilbur Ellsworth
Mr John Maddex
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon is a well-loved Orthodox pastor, homilist, writer, and teacher. He is pastor of All Saints’ Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and a senior editor of Touchstone Magazine. In the past forty years, Fr. Patrick has published more than 500 articles, editorials, and reviews in popular and scholarly journals, including Books and Culture, Touchstone, The Scottish Journal of Theology, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Pro Ecclesia, and St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly.
Hat Top to Rick Lobs.