Orthodox leader eases fears of merger

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A meeting between Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America and top leaders of the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania has quelled talk of merger with the scandal-ridden Philadelphia archdiocese.

Although there had been merger discussion, the reaction of local church leaders at Sunday night's meeting in St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, McCandless, was persuasively negative, Metropolitan Jonah said yesterday.

"The decision is ultimately up the Holy Synod [of Bishops] and the Holy Synod is not going to do something that the people oppose. The consensus of the meeting last night was that the merging of the two dioceses was not a realistic possibility, at least not at this time," he said.

The Archdiocesan Council wrote to express concern over rumors that the Pittsburgh archdiocese, which inherited more than $1.2 million from its late Archbishop Kyrill, would be merged with Philadelphia, whose disgraced former archbishop left it in a financial mess that may also total more than $1.2 million.

The Orthodox Church in America, a multi-ethnic daughter of the Russian Orthodox Church, has about 100,000 active members, 10,000 of them in the Pittsburgh archdiocese.

One unresolved matter was the status of Archimandrite Melchisedek, an American monk living in Greece, who the Pittsburgh archdiocese nominated as its next bishop in November. He must be elected by the Holy Synod of Bishops, which has the election on its March 31-April 2 agenda.

"It's not that we are stalling. Normally the synod meets twice a year to discuss these matters," Metropolitan Jonah said.

The nominee has not yet been released by the Church of Greece, he said.


Ann Rodgers can be reached at arodgers@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1416.


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