Brandon Gallaher

The Orthodox “Diaspora”: Mother Churches, Mission, and the Future

by Rev. Dr. Radu Bordeianu, Will Cohen, Rev. Dr. Nicholas Denysenko, Brandon Gallaher, Rev. Dr. D. Oliver Herbel, and Kerry San Chirico

Among the issues to be heard by the Orthodox Churches at the June 2016 Great and Holy Council in Crete is the situation of the Orthodox diaspora. The Council will be working with the document on the diaspora promulgated by the fourth pre-conciliar gathering in Chambésy in June 2009. This document called for a swift canonical resolution to the current organization of the Church in the regions of the diaspora so it accords with Orthodox canon law and ecclesiological principles. The 2009 pre-conciliar gathering implemented a temporary solution by creating episcopal assemblies (2a) in regions of the diaspora to promote common action and witness to the unity of Orthodoxy without depriving the member bishops of their “administrative competencies and canonical character” (5). It is not immediately clear whether the June 2016 council will propose a permanent canonical solution or bless the continued work of the regional episcopal assemblies. In order to arrive at the canonical and ecclesiological ideal envisioned by the bishops in 2009, several issues and potential actions should be considered.   Continue Reading…

Orthodoxy, Human Rights & Secularization

by Davor Džalto, Effie Fokas, Brandon Gallaher, Perry Hamalis, Aristotle Papanikolaou, and Gregory Tucker

“The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World” offers a clear reaffirmation of the “dignity and majesty of the human person” (1.1) in Christian doctrine. Moreover, the exalted status of the human person is here grounded in its ultimate vocation to deification. While the human being is brought to perfection beyond this life in God, sanctification begins now, in this world, in relation to others. To this end, the Church recognizes that she must speak with her “prophetic and pastoral voice” and act in the contemporary world to foster that “peace, justice, freedom, fraternity, and love” which characterizes the Kingdom of God.

In order to do full justice to the profound witness to the Gospel offered by this document, further serious reflection and dialogue is required on some of its key ideas. For, while this text contains moments of deep insight into the condition of the contemporary world, it also shows the effects of a long period in which the Church has failed to practice her synodality and lost the art of addressing the most important issues of the day with reason and clarity. Continue Reading…

The Word of God and World Religions

By Brandon Gallaher

(This essay was originally delivered as a public talk at the June 2015 Fordham/OTSA conference on the upcoming Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church. It was part of a panel on “The Contribution of the Orthodox Church to the Realization of Justice, Freedom, Brotherhood, and Love among Peoples.”)

There is no one topic that is more important than any other for the Council to consider. What is crucial is that it speaks clearly and sympathetically to this moment from the light of Christ that illumines all. Too often we Orthodox speak to the modern world from a sort of nostalgic Byzantinism or an angry certainty when what is needed are the healing and wise words of the Gospel for those whose consciousness is “modern” or “post-modern.” By these terms I mean that the default understanding of reality for contemporary man, including the average Orthodox, involves a disparate and competing plurality of truths as well as a conception of the human being as essentially plastic with no divine end. In our teaching and worship, our ecclesial self-consciousness is “pre-modern.” Part of this self-consciousness is the awareness of a world radiating with the Word and words of God. It is also includes the belief that by contemplating Scripture and the words in their communion with the Word that we can attain to ‘the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13). But we rarely attempt to translate this consciousness into the language of the age in which we live or ask whether we might obtain new insights about Orthodoxy from modernity (e.g. gay marriage, evolution). Continue Reading…