The article below is from OrthodoxWiki. It has a loose description of the Orthodox term, ‘diaspora,’ that is used within many of our Divine Liturgy services. The article states that some Orthodox Christians believe “they are living as dispersed peoples, as specific national and ecclesiastical “diasporas.”” Yes, we are, as American Orthodox, living within an ecclesiastical and in some sense national, diaspora.
Orthodoxy is not just a theology, it is an actual movement of people. Our faith results in works. We have patriarchates (fathers of nations). Each one of us is tied to one of these fathers. These five sees are guided by a patriarch. We are the diaspora of these nations. Every one of the five patriarchs was established through the monarchy, through the leadership of the nation, to confirm the fact that each of those nations’ very culture and people was established by the Church. The Church was dedicated, through her patriarch, to help the emperor continue this Orthodox community into our modern times, through the radically changing times of post-Nicea.
If we let go of our “national” commitment to the patriarchate, we let go of a vital piece of history. Obama is not our patriarch! The next Republican president will not be our patriarch. These men are not even a part of the Church, lest a part of the Church’s community. They are the secular leaders of a secular nation. We live in this nation, but within our Orthodox community. It seems that we should at least begin to understand this fact of history, lest we become swallowed by the secular nationalism of America.
Our identity lies within our Orthodox community…her history and her current status. We must be humble about being American Orthodox. We are an extension of a greater community, one that has roots in real time and space from the apostles themselves. The more we come to realize this within our spirit, the more sense we can make out of our confused world, thus drawing closer to Christ.
A diaspora is a scattering of a people from their original homeland or the new community formed by such a people. Diaspora can also refer geographically to those areas of the world where Orthodox Christians live, but are outside the canonically defined territories agreed upon as belonging to an autocephalous or autonomous Orthodox church.
Some Orthodox peoples living in the West believe that they are living as dispersed peoples, as specific national and ecclesiastical “diasporas.” The Church teaches that Christians, in full communion in faith, love, and sacramental life, should be at home in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in the new land in which they find themselves. The notion of a diaspora of Orthodox Christians is seen by many as an obstacle to jurisdictional unity throughout areas as yet canonically undefined.
One of the major challenges of Orthodoxy in the diaspora is the existence of multiple overlapping jurisdictions, a phenomenon which is against the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church, which requires that any given piece of canonical territory should only have a single bishop.
Overlapping jurisdictions currently exist in North and South America, Western Europe, East Asia, Australia, Oceania, and many Pacific islands, as well as Estonia.
Jurisdictions with parishes in the “diaspora”
- Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (comprising the majority of all diaspora parishes)
- Patriarchate of Antioch
- Patriarchate of Jerusalem
- Patriarchate of Moscow (including the ROCOR)
- Patriarchate of Serbia
- Patriarchate of Romania
- Patriarchate of Bulgaria
- Church of Georgia
- Church of Poland
- Orthodox Church in America (OCA)