To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Day and Afternoon Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America,
My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
By the grace of God, we commemorate once again the anniversary of the twenty-eighth of October, “OXI Day”. On this day in the year 1940, the world witnessed the valor of the Greek nation, which stood in defiance against the forces of Fascism. Today, citizens of Greece and peoples of Hellenic heritage all over the world celebrate in thanksgiving, doxology, and prayer the enduring legacy of “OXI Day” bequeathed to them by their forebears. This legacy however, far from being exclusive to a particular nation or people is relevant to peoples of all nations who cherish freedom, peace, and justice.
This was not a moment in history when the stronger of two nations said “NO” to tyranny and injustice. The decision to reject the forces that were threatening peace and freedom throughout the world was one that would require great sacrifice and struggle rather than one that offered immediate victory. However, the stance of October 28 and the resilience of Greeks in the years that followed affirmed the understanding that submission would destroy freedom for future generations, that accommodation would hinder the establishment of peace, and that surrender would contradict the deep love for what is just and true.
As Greek Orthodox Christians and as Americans, our unique heritage allows us to appreciate the significance of “OXI Day” in a very special and direct way. The ideals of freedom, peace, and respect for the human person, nurtured in the cradle of Hellenic civilization and our Orthodox faith, were threatened in 1940 just as they are being threatened today by those who terrorize people and nations. Yes, our response must be a resounding “NO” to hatred, racism, bigotry, and terrorism. But this stance must be accompanied by the willingness to sacrifice and to struggle for peaceful coexistence, acceptance, and love.
This labor that reveals the grace of God is not one of tyranny or violence. It is not forceful reaction to perceived threats. It is a work within our homes, communities, nations, and our world that follows the example of the Prince of Peace, the one who brings any crisis to victory for the threatened or the oppressed, therefore offering hope to all nations (Matthew 12:18-21). It is an offering of our faith and our heritage that strengthens relationships, facilitates wise choices, and, ultimately, overcomes evil with good. For true freedom and enduring peace are not the results of violence, but are formed and nurtured by God in the hearts of people who will stand when necessary and say “NO” to the forces of hatred and tyranny.
May the commemoration of the twenty-eighth of October give us strength and conviction to share the love of Christ throughout our world, seeking peace and freedom for each person until the coming of the glorious kingdom of God where peace shall reign forever.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America