ENInews ¦ Methodists Express Repentance for Massacre of Native Americans

ENInews¦ Featured Articles.

In 1864, a massacre of Native Americans, by a group of whites led by a Methodist minister, took place at the Sand Creek near Eads, Colorado.

These days, the United Methodist Church’s General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, based in New York City, announced that it has donated U.S. $50,000 to the National Park Service for developing a center at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. The donation will be used to fund research materials and other public education initiatives.

__________

In 1941, a pogrom took place in the city of Iasi, Romania, and thousands of Jews died at the hands of Romanian soldiers and civilians, instigated by German army, but also by Orthodox priests brainwashed by the fascist  and nationalist ideology of the Iron Guard.

What is the Romanian Orthodox Church planning to do in order to atone for these heinous crimes, now that the 70th anniversary of this massacre is drawing near?

The answer is NOTHING. And the sad reason is that a large percentage of Orthodox clerics, bishops included, and even the most enlightened in the new generation of young Orthodox intellectuals are sometimes secretly, but often overtly sympathetic of that criminal philetistic and hetetical ideology.

Ideas kill. And they may kill again.

May God have mercy on Romania!

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

10 thoughts on “ENInews ¦ Methodists Express Repentance for Massacre of Native Americans”

  1. I have a problem with assigning any responsibility to the Romanian Orthodox Church any responsibility for the 1941 pogrom in Iasi. The question is one of individual vs. collective responsibility. I believe the demarcation is clear. If a group professes an evil ideology, then the group is responsible for any acts derived from that ideology. If individuals from the group perform evil acts IN SPITE OF the ideology of the group, then they are individually responsible.

    I believe the Romanian Orthodox Church, as any other major church, professes the love that Christ taught us to have for all our fellow humans. The people who committed the atrocities at Iasi acted against, not in line with the Orthodox teaching, even if they were formally Orthodox or even priests. By the same token, I do not blame the Jewish faith for the Communist commissars of Jewish origin, nor for a Trotsky or an Ana Pauker; I do not ask the Jews to atone for the crimes of these individuals. I can however blame the Nazi Party or the Iron Guard.

    Collective guilt is a tricky issue, often employed for manipulation with secondary motives. It only continues to create new resentments on the part of the people who feel they have nothing to do with the specific accusations. Perhaps one of the best examples on how to deal with such issues was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.

    From Wikipedia: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like restorative justice[1] body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid. Witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.

    There was no plain accusation of the white people, but a calling to account for the perpetuators of the crimes.

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    1. Dear Mihai,
      I understand your feelings about this, but I can’t help thinking that you are here on a saving face mission on behalf of your denomination. You would think the same if I tried to explain away and excuse the cloudy beginnings of Anglicanism.
      Now, strangely for an Orthodox, you seem to think about this more like an American Protestant (we all have our blind spots), i.e. like an indiviidualist, than like an Orthodox whose thinking is rooted in the concept of community, with all this entails.
      Remember Daniel? He assumed the sins of his people Israel, even he probably did not commit any of those, for the mere reason that he was too young when they happened. Yet, he admits guilt and asks for forgiveness.
      That is all I ask of Romanian Orthodoxy, for the involvement of fascist Orthodox clergy in the pogrom, and, in fact, of all Romanians, for the criminal involvement of Romania soldiers and civilians in the killing of Jews.
      Moreover, the ROC has not admitted publicly, nor repented openly for the involvement of many of his clerics and monastics in the guardist activities and even crimes. Even the previous Patriarch, may God have mercy on his soul, has been a member of the Iron Guard. Maybe that is why he was so easily manipulated by the communist regime.
      Even today, many clerics, monastics and lay members of the church are sympathisers of the Iron Guard and some of them are pressing the Patriarch to canonise the ‘saints of communist prisons’, many of them unrepented fascists. That is why, I am sure, Patriarch Daniel refuses to accept their request, even if, by doing this, some of those who really deserve recognition are not receiving it. Quite a tricky conundrum. But I would do the same in his place.
      South Africa is a great example. And it all started with declaring the whole truth.
      That is precisely what the ROC refuses to do.

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  2. Daniel,
    I have to agree with you 95%. It would be great if the ROC would make a public admission of the facts and express regret for what has happened. The 5% I keep in reserve is because of the asymmetric assignment of guilt.

    I will give you an example: From what I read, a group of young Jewish enthusiasts have cut the cross of the Orthodox cathedral in Chisinau when the Romanian troops had to pull out as a result of the ultimatum in 1941. They replaced the cross with a large portrait of Stalin. I am not blaming the Jews for this, it was just a group of misguided fanatics. But can you imagine a group of rabies making a public apology? If we play the guilt game, we have to consider all the facts. The further asymmetry comes from the access to the media. I read N articles in USA about Romanian atrocities, NOTHING about the suffering of the Romanian people. How many Orthodox believers or priests were killed or beaten or imprisoned by the Communists, many of them of Jewish origin?

    I remember a nice program I saw once on TV about a town in Siberia were the Jews were banished by Stalin. I had 100% sympathy for the victims. However, on the train to the town, the American reporter talked with a Russian peasant. The peasant said, “they were 5000 people who suffered here and we the Russian Orthodox were one million who suffered in the same area. It’s nice for you to make a program about them, but nobody makes a program about our martyrs.”

    Regardless, I believe the ROC can give an example of class expressing regret for those unfortunate events.

    As always I appreciate your comments and opinions.

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    1. My friend,
      I assure you that I have deep appreciation for the true Orthodox martyrs. I have learned enormously from them and they are an example for all Christians. I am only pleading here for the truth. And, believe me, I am much more demanding on people in my own tradition, which makes many of my friends very uncomfortable with me. But one has to be consistent, isn’t it?.
      See you soon. I can hardly wait to worship in your church.

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  3. As a short follow-up… speaking about apologies, I apologize for calling you Daniel… you are and remain forever my friend Danut. You can see that an apology does not come so hard to an Orthodox. 🙂

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  4. nu vreau sa pun paie pe foc dar parca nu e tot una sa fie inlocuita o cruce cu un portret cu omorirea a citorva mii de cetateni ROMÂNI de altă religie. si asta cu binecuvintarea celor care ar trebui sa faca legatura cu Hristos. sau cine stie, gresec eu. la germani a existat acea asumare a raspunderii fata de omorirea celor nevinovati, vezi declaratia de la Stuttgart, printre iniţiatori fiind Martin Niemöller care a fost din 1937 in 1945 in lagarul de la Dachau.
    nimeni din biserica ortodoxa româna nu îşi poate calca peste mindrie? sa o facem noi, protestantii? pai las ca o facem pe ei.

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    1. Banuiesc ca ai vrut sa spui ‘pentru ei’; a propos, interesant, acum vreo doua saptamini, la ceremonia de reinhumare a circa 60 de evrei descoperiti intr-o groapa comuna linga Iasi, singurul care a facut gestul de demnitate de a cere iertare pentru aceste crime, in numele romanului a fost domnul Constantin Simirad, Presedintele Consiliului Judetean Iasi, un polotician pentru care, altfel nu am mare consideratie, desi l-am sustinut cindva. Cinste. Asta in vreme ce popimea de toate culorile a tacut milc. Sa le fie rusine.

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