NEW YORK (Oct. 20)
“No major results” were reported from a meeting here yesterday of the heads of 11 of the 31 denominations affiliated with the National Council of Churches on the issue of dismissing Archbishop Valerian Trifa of the Rumanian Orthodox Episcopate in the U.S. who is accused of having participated in the murders of Jews and others while a commander in the Rumanian fascist Iron Guard in 1941.
Jewish groups have demanded that the ecumenical body oust Trifa from its board. Trifa is under investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service on charges of having lied about his Iron Guard connections when he applied for U.S. citizenship after World War II. If the charges are confirmed he faces revocation of his citizenship and possible deportation.
The NCC so far has refrained from taking action against Trifa on grounds that it might prejudice his right of due process. The Rumanian Orthodox Episcopate fully supports the Archbishop and the NCC is said to rely on the confidence placed in him by his religious constituency that numbers about one million Americans with ethnic roots in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
The Trifa issue engaged the NCC’s attention after 30 members of Concerned Jewish Youth disrupted a meeting of its governing board Oct. 8 to demand removal of the Archbishop as a “murderer.” Last Thursday the protest group occupied the NCC’s offices but left after receiving assurances that the matter would be brought up at the meeting of denominational heads.
Representatives of the Orthodox Church in America promised that the case would be reviewed at its Holy Synod next week. Steps were also reported to arrange a meeting between Orthodox Church heads and Jewish leaders.