His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon has designated Sunday, January 16, 2022 as Sanctity of Life Sunday to be observed in parishes of the Orthodox Church in America and has released the statement below. Prayers and petitions for the liturgical services are available here.
Sanctity of Life Sunday will be a precursor to the March for Life on January 22, 2022, on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion in the United States of America. His Beatitude will be present and gather with the Orthodox faithful from across the country to remember the victims of abortion.
The March for Life will begin with a Divine Liturgy at Saint Nicholas Cathedral and conclude at the Supreme Court building. A complete schedule of events will be posted in the coming weeks. More information can be found at Orthodox Christians for Life.
To the Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,
Dear Beloved Children in the Lord,
As we witness our society becoming increasingly polarized and divided, we approach the anniversary of one of the most bitter of these divisions: the legalization of abortion in the United States of America. We grieve on this anniversary for the many lives cut short, the emotional and psychological devastation done to so many women, the numerous wounded families, and the persistent hostility embittering our society.
The Orthodox Church continues to hold fast to its ancient belief that all human life, from conception in the womb to our very last moment, is sacred to God. For the Holy Scripture tells us that “God did not make death, and He does not delight in the death of the living. For He created all things that they might exist” (Wis 1:13–14). So we say, humbly but firmly, that the willful destruction of a person in the womb is an evil act and a rejection of a gift of God.
For Orthodox Christians, the darkness of abortion transcends the political. It extends even beyond morality and ethics. It cuts to the heart of our faith in the Resurrection. On that bright morning of Great and Holy Pascha, Christ forever destroyed death, the last enemy of mankind (cf. 1 Cor 15:26). The empty tomb ennobles humanity and transforms us into a people forever dedicated to life, utterly opposed to death in all its forms. All people, even those still unborn, are created for eternity with God, and it is our unshakable conviction in the Risen Christ which makes the thought of the termination of a child unimaginable.
We also know that the unequivocal message of the New Testament is that followers of Christ are to “love one another” with the same self-sacrifice with which Christ loved us (cf. Jn 13:34). I encourage all Orthodox Christians to show that Christ-like, self-sacrificial love in the face of this darkness. I ask that we assist mothers in every way possible to relieve them of the temptation to abortion. Likewise, support the fathers as they step up to embrace their new and blessed family responsibility.
As we “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) we must not condemn others but leave judgment to the Lord. Our call is a call to repentance, beginning with ourselves, so that we might restore the likeness of God and become bright mirrors reflecting the light of Christ to a wounded, confused, and anxious people. Let the only thing that our society sees in us be overflowing love, piety, and forgiveness to all. We remember with gratitude that the Lord always gives us, personally and as a nation, a path out of our sin through repentance—even sin as devastating and horrific as abortion. Let our parishes and communities become beacons of that divine love and forgiveness, where all human life is valued as deeply as Christ values it, as we forever speak with a Paschal voice: “Christ is risen and life reigns.”
May the Holy Spirit, whom we confess in the Creed as “the Lord, the Giver of life,” ever inspire us with love, humility, and conviction as we speak to this issue.
Yours in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada