Pastoral Letter by Archbishop Iakovos on Civil Rights

I received your recent communication and I thank you for the sincere expression of your sentiments. Concerning this occasion, which I consider to be of a sacred nature, I do not feel that I can give voice either to gratitude for approval, or to disappointment at criticism; but your concern and involvement are indeed appreciated.

I went to Selma as a solemn duty, before God and country, in the noble cause of equality for all.  This is the essence of our Christianity, behind which we cannot shield ourselves with righteousness. The issue is simple. We cannot be Christians in name, and not in spirit and action. If our most prized possession is merely the respectability of Christianity, then we bring to it nothing but disrepute and dishonor. Christianity is not a jewel for safe keeping; it is a living thing which struggles with the challenge of an evil, rejoices spiritually when the evil is overcome, and dies when the challenge remains unmet and the  evil triumphs.

We Greek Orthodox Christians of Hellenic descent should know from our history when to do battle. We should particularly strive for the good and the just in this great and blessed American nation, which owes so much to our heritages of democracy and sacrifice to ensure the God -fearing dignity of man.

My prayer and hope is that our Greek Orthodox Christians of this land, unafraid of personal risk and  loss, will glorify and perpetuate our traditions, acts and deeds, which are dictated by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who died so that men "may all be one", and Whose Resurrection we soon celebrate.

With paternal blessings,

Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox
Church in North and South America