The Eastern Christian Churches by Ronald Roberson

The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese

This church exists only in the United States and Canada, and is made up of descendants of Ruthenian Catholic immigrants from a section of the Austro-Hungarian Empire known as Subcarpathia or Transcarpathia, now in western Ukraine and eastern Slovakia.

When they immigrated to the United States in the 19th century, these Ruthenian Catholics were often accompanied by their own married priests. The presence of married Catholic priests within their dioceses met with the disapproval of some Roman Catholic bishops.

Heeding a request from the Catholic hierarchy of the United States, the Vatican issued a decree, Cum Data Fuerit, in 1929. It stated that newly ordained and newly arrived eastern priests in North America were henceforth to be celibate in spite of the terms of union with Rome that had guaranteed Ruthenian Catholics the right to retain married clergy. This gave rise to widespread dismay in the Eastern Catholic community.

In 1937 a meeting was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of disaffected Ruthenian Catholics under the leadership of Fr. Orestes Chornock. The meeting decided to petition Patriarch Benjamin I of Constantinople to receive the group into the Orthodox Church and to ordain Fr. Chornock as its first bishop, consolidating them into a separate diocese. Constantinople approved the request, and Fr. Chornock was ordained to the episcopate at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1938. The new diocese was placed under the spiritual supervision of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

A seminary was founded in New York City soon after the establishment of the diocese. After several transfers, in 1951 it was permanently moved to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and named Christ the Savior Seminary. The diocese is headquartered at 312 Garfield Street in Johnstown. According to the church’s web site, in 2021 the church had 81 parishes in the United States and Canada, 91 priests and approximately 8,500 faithful.

Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos, who had served as bishop of the diocese since 1985, died in March 2011. In July 2012 the clergy of the diocese nominated Archimandrite Gregory Tatsis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to be their new bishop. He was then canonically elected Titular Bishop of Nyssa by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on August 30, 2012, and was consecrated bishop of the Carpatho-Russian diocese in Johnstown on November 27, 2012.

Location: The United States and Canada
Head: Bishop Gregory of Nyssa (born 1958, elected 2012)
Residence: Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA
Membership: 8,500

Last Modified: 20 July 2021

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