83RD EPISCOPATE CONGRESS HIGHLIGHTS
The 83rd Episcopate Congress was held in Cleveland, Ohio from September 3-6, 2015. St. Mary Cathedral hosted the event. On Thursday morning, the clergy attended the Divine Liturgy. Following breakfast, the clergy met in the atrium of the Cathedral’s Cultural Center for the annual clergy conference. At the opening of the conference, the Archbishop referred to the statement posted on the Episcopate website regarding His Grace, Bishop Irineu (see http://roea.org/news_150901_2.html).
Various matters were discussed, and in the afternoon, the two candidates for Auxiliary Bishop (Fr Dan Hoarste and Archdeacon David Oancea) spoke briefly to the assembled clergy. Following Vespers and supper, the Episcopate Council met for its pre-Congress session.
The Cleveland Airport Marriott Hotel hosted the Congress meetings which were opened on Friday morning with the Invocation to the Holy Spirit celebrated by His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel. Following the normal procedure of roll call, call to order, appointment of secretaries and tellers, approval of the agenda and approval of the 82nd Congress minutes, Archbishop Nathaniel presented his Address. The Archbishop then presented a video tour of the site of the Episcopate’s central administration – Vatra Romaneasca and announced a restoration campaign (Vatra GENERATIONS) for Vatra buildings in need of repair (video and flier available at: http://roea.org/news_150922_1.html). Delegates were asked to refer to the narrative reports in the Annual Report to the Episcopate Congress. The Congress approved the request of St John the Baptizer Mission, Kannapolis NC to be accepted as a Parish. Before lunch, guests Fr. Ioan & Psa. Maria Popescu of Mannheim, Germany were introduced. Following lunch, narrative reports were presented with extensive discussion by delegates. All reports except for the Department of Finance and New Business (on the Agenda for Saturday) were accepted and approved.
On Saturday morning, the Congress reconvened and the report of the Department of Finance was discussed and accepted. Under New Business, the budgets were reviewed, discussed and accepted. At this point, some delegates spoke about the status of His Grace, Bishop Irineu. Fr Cosmin Antonescu read the following statement which he asked the Congress to endorse: “The members of the 83rd Congress of Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, express their sadness and concern regarding the alleged sexual misconduct by our auxiliary bishop, the Right Reverend Irineu Duvlea. Our prayers are with His Grace and all those affected by these allegations, and we trust that the truth spoken in love will prevail. In our consciousness, His Grace remains innocent until proven otherwise.”
The Episcopate Council’s recommendation to accept the ARFORA By-Law revisions was approved. The slate for the new Episcopate Council (2015-2017) was presented and approved: Fr Remus Grama, Fr Laurence Lazar, Fr Alin Munteanu, Fr Ionut Maerean, Fr David Subu, Fr Silvius Sfera, Adrian Donisa, Horia Draghiciu, Ryan Gieni, Nicholas Jones, Marsha Klein, Stefan Russu, Carol Schweitzer, Gregory Thetford, Pauline Trutza, George Vasu, Psa Mary Ellen Rosco, Corina Phillips. The slate for the Episcopate Tribunal was then presented and accepted: George Cantor, Adrian Donisa, George Vasu, Stefan Russu.
A motion was made from the floor that the Congress send a letter to the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of the Americas to request clarification of their position on unity. The motion passed.
The Congress was adjourned, and the delegates traveled to St Mary Cathedral for the Special Electoral Session. After gathering in the church, the session opened with a prayer and address by Archbishop Nathaniel speaking about the need for more auxiliary bishops. Each candidate (Archdeacon Vicar David Oancea and Fr Vicar Dan Hoarste) then addressed the delegates. Archbishop Nathaniel asked for a final count of the delegates, which he announced did not meet the 2/3 quorum required. Therefore, after some discussion, the session was adjourned with no vote having been taken. The By-Laws state: “If a quorum cannot be met, the Episcopate Congress shall be adjourned for thirty (30) days, after which time a quorum shall consist of one-half plus one (1/2 +1) of all the members of the Congress.” Archbishop Nathaniel announced that the delegates would be informed once a new date for the Special Electoral Session was determined.