We thank His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon for issuing the below Archpastoral Message for Sanctity of Life Sunday, January 19, 2020. Please go to this link for a more legible version: https://www.oca.org/holy-synod/statements/his-beatitude-metropolitan-tikhon/sanctity-of-life-sunday-2020.
The Orthodox Church and Abortion:
In its moral teachings, the Orthodox Church has had a long history of outspoken condemnation of abortion which dates back to Apostolic times. In fact the humanity of the unborn child and its possession of a soul from the moment of conception has been almost universally understood in the Eastern Church from the earliest times and is firmly grounded in Scriptures.
The Orthodox Church and Euthanasia:
In its moral teachings, the Orthodox Church condemns euthanasia, either "passive" or "active." The Church remains a witness to historical Christianity's understanding of the sacredness of human life.
The above quotes are fromThe Orthodox Christians for Life ProLife Handbook Volume I: The Basics produced by Orthodox Christians for Life and available at www.oclife.org. This handbook is a great resource, free online, for the Orthodox Christian Church's position on sanctity of life issues.
Another fantastic resoure on the internet is the Orthodox Pro-Life Information Center found at OrthodoxProLife.com.
OrthodoxyToday.org article by Lisa Jones (posted January 24, 2005)
After The March For Life: What To Do Next?
I'm an Orthodox Christian so that means I'm pro-life. How can I live my faith on the life issues?
What The Church Has Always Taught And Continues To Teach
Since the time of the Apostles, the Orthodox Church has insisted that abortion kills a living child and that abortion is therefore murder. This teaching builds on the Scriptural understanding that a pregnant woman carries another person, another unique and individual person created in God's image, inside her womb. One example is the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke describing the visit of the Theotokos to St. Elizabeth: the unborn St. John the Forerunner leaps in his mother's womb to greet the unborn Savior in the womb of the Theotokos. The Forerunner will not be born for another three months and the Nativity of the Lord is six months in the future. Nevertheless the unborn St. John manifests his own humanity by leaping in worship, launching his vocation as witness to his kinsman and Savior before he sees the light of day.
A few decades after Pentecost, the Church composed the Didache in order to summarize the teachings of the Apostles for the practical benefit of the faithful. The Didache addresses abortion explicitly and directly: "Do not murder; do not commit adultery ... do not kill a fetus by abortion or commit infanticide." Three centuries later, in the early years of the Byzantine Empire, St. Basil the Great taught "Those who give potions for the destruction of the child in the womb are murderers as are those who take potions which kill the child.
In our time, Orthodox priests, bishops and hierarchs of all jurisdictions speak out against abortion. Here in the United States, Orthodox attorneys filed a 1989 brief before the Supreme Court which stated that "The Church regards abortion as murder". This document, which urged the Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade, was signed by hierarchs from the Orthodox Church in America, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America , the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.
So what do I do about this? The rest of this pamphlet has ideas about how to get started.
Reach Out To Women In Crisis Pregnancies
Look in the phonebook at organizations listed under Alternatives to Abortion, call one of them and ask to visit. Ask the staff how you or others can help. Write a check or collect baby clothes and donate them to the center.
Share What The Church Teaches With Other People
Ask your church to start an OCLife chapter. (www.oclife.org) Speak up in casual conversations to make it clear that the Orthodox Church defends innocent human life starting from conception.
Pray Daily To End Abortion
Intercede that our priests and hierarchs may have wisdom to speak out effectively against these evils.
Intercede for pregnant women in crisis that they may find grace and support to bring their babies to term.
Intercede for strength and insight for pro-life workers to protect the helpless in various ways.
Intercede that our parish communities may reach out to share our resources on behalf of those under siege from the Culture of Death.
Intercede for the babies that they may come to safe delivery and to Christian nurture in a loving home.
Intercede for the ill and the elderly that they may live out their days surrounded by care and attention.
Pro-life books and articles by Orthodox writers:
Real Choices , Frederica Mathewes-Green, Conciliar Press, 1997, ISBN 1888212071
The Sacred Gift of Life: Orthodox Christianity and Bioethics, Fr. John Breck, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1998, ISBN, 0881411833
Living the Faith: The Praxis of Eastern Orthodox Ethics , Fr. Stanley Harakas, Light and Life Publishing, 1992, ISBN 0937032921
An Orthodox View of Abortion , Fr. John Kowalczyk and Fr. Anthony Coniaris, Light and Life Publishing, 1987, ISBN 0686270703
The Right to Life: The Eastern Orthodox Perspective on Abortion , Dumitru Macaila, Regina Orthodox Press; 2002, ISBN 1928653057
Abortion: What Does the Church Teach? (booklet) Conciliar Press
Pro-life books by other writers:
Fifty Two Simple Things You Can Do To Be Pro-Life , Anne Pierson, Bethany House, 1991, ISBN 1556611706
Abortion and the Early Church , Michael J. Gorman, Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1998, ISBN 1579101828
ProLife Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments , Randy Alcorn, Multnomah Publishers Inc., 2000, ISBN 1576737519
"Politics is not a Dirty Word", Fr. Alexander Webster, Ph.D. AGAIN Magazine, Conciliar Press, Vol 22 number 3 (July - September 2000)
"Against Abortion but What Can We Do?", Becky Thurner, The Handmaiden. Conciliar Press, Vol IV, No. 3, Summer 2000.
Orthodox Christians for Life, the U.S. Eastern Orthodox pro-life organization. This is the umbrella group for Orthodox Christian pro-life action. Note their pro-life handbook available as a pdf.
These links take you to most of the major pro-life organizations.
The National Right to Life organization website, a good place to follow pro-life political developments, especially legislation.
See the "Official Document "On Marriage, Family, Sexuality, And The Sanctity Of Life." (1992), a roadmap spelling out the Church's vision for marriage and family life.
See the "Official Documents" Cloning Of Human Embryos: A Statement of the Holy Synod of Bishops of The Orthodox Church in America (January 2002) and Embryonic Stem Cell Research In The Perspective Of Orthodox Christianity (October 2001).
A Step-by-step Approach To Living Our Orthodox Faith
Start with your parish priest
Every day say the following prayer:
O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the Father, True God, source of Life and immortality, light of light Who has come into the world to enlighten it; You were pleased to be conceived in the womb of the Theotokos by the Holy Spirit for the salvation of our souls; O Master, Who came that we might have life more abundantly, we beseech You to enlighten the hearts and minds of those blinded to the truth that life begins at conception and that the unborn are already adorned with Your image and likeness in the womb. Enable us to cherish and protect the lives of all who are unable to care for themselves, for You Yourself are the Bestower of Life Who brings every person from nothingness into being and seals each person with divine and infinite love. Be merciful, O Lord, to those who through ignorance or wilfulness affront Your divine providence through the evil act of abortion. Bring us all to the light of Your truth that we may all glorify You the Giver of Life together with Your Father and Your all-holy and life-giving Spirit. Amen.
Every week buy baby food or disposable diapers at the grocery store to donate to a pregnancy care center. Or set aside a certain amount of cash ... or pick out some practical baby outfits at the mall ...
Every month drop off what you have been getting every week at a pregnancy care center and ask them how they're doing and how you can help
Every so often get back to your parish priest what you've been doing and share your experiences and reflections with him. Especially let him know what ways the people in the parish could support the pregnancy care center.
Contact OCLife-DC, the Washington DC area chapter of OCLife and the authors of this pamphlet at or St. Mary Orthodox Church, 7223 Roosevelt Ave, Falls Church VA 22042.
Lisa Jones attends St. Mary Orthodox Church in Falls Church, Virginia.