On This Thirty-first day of March, in the year of Our Lord Jesus Christ Two Thousand and Eighteen, as we observe Holy Saturday; I Benedict-Johns in my capacity as Presiding Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Michael, do proclaim that this jurisdiction of the Independent Sacramental Movement—churches that maintain valid lines of Apostolic Succession but yet stand apart from the Roman Catholic Church—in keeping with traditions long established by the Anglican, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic, do choose to venerate as Saints certain historical figures who have gave of themselves and through their wisdom and leadership have contributed to the causes of religious freedom and the establishment of and preservation thereof those inalienable civil rights given to mankind by the hand of God Almighty.
We agree with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America which states the following on their website:
It must be stated at the beginning that the only true “saint” or holy one (Hagios) is God Himself. The Bible states “For I am the Lord your God; you shall name yourselves holy and keep yourselves holy, because I am holy … ” (Levit. 11:44; 19:2 and 20:7). Man becomes holy and “sainted” by participation in the holiness of God.
Holiness or sainthood is a gift (charisma) given by God to man, through the Holy Spirit. Man’s effort to become a participant in the life of divine holiness is indispensable, but sanctification itself is the work of the Holy Trinity, especially through the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ, who was incarnate, suffered crucifixion, and rose from the dead, in order to lead us to the life of holiness, through the communion with the Holy Spirit. In the Second Letter to the Thessalonians St. Paul suggests: “But we are bound to thank God always for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because from the beginning of time God chose you to find salvation in the Spirit that consecrates you, (en agiasmo Pneumatos) and in the truth that you believe. It was for this that He called you through the Gospel we brought, so that you might possess for your own the splendor of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2: 13–14).
Through the work of the Holy Trinity all Christians could be called saints; especially in the early Church as long as they were baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, they received the Seal of the Spirit in chrismation and frequently participated in the Eucharist. In the same spirit St. Paul, when writing to the Churches he had visited, calls all the faithful “saints.” Writing to the Ephesians, he addresses “the saints who live in Ephesus” (1:1); writing to the Corinthians he uses the same expressions (2 Cor. 1:11). St. Basil, commenting on this point, writes that Paul refers to all those who are united with God, who is the Being, the Life and the Truth (Against Eunomius, II, 19). Furthermore, St. Paul writes to the Colossians that God has reconciled men by Christ’s death, “so that He may present you before Himself holy, without blemish and innocent in His sight” (1:22).
In our society, however, who can be addressed as a saint? Who are those men and women and children who may be called saints by the Church today? Many Orthodox theologians classify the saints in six categories:
1. The Apostles, who were the first ones to spread the message of the Incarnation of the Word of God and of salvation through Christ.
2. The Prophets, because they predicted and prophesied the coming of the Messiah.
3. The Martyrs, for sacrificing their lives and fearlessly confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.
4. The Fathers and Hierarchs of the Church, who excelled in explaining and in defending, by word and deed, the Christian faith.
5. The Monastics, who lived in the desert and dedicated themselves to spiritual exercise (askesis), reaching, as far as possible, perfection in Christ.
6. The Just, those who lived in the world, leading exemplary lives as clergy or laity with their families, becoming examples for imitation in society.
While we choose to venerate most of the traditional Saints of the Christian traditions; as mentioned in the paragraph first above, we choose this last category—The Just—as a deciding basis for those that we choose to canonize by this jurisdiction.
We find that certain of the founding Fathers of the United States, those that signed the Declaration of Independence and or the Constitution of the United States, or those individuals that contributed to the institution of those instruments, or who have tirelessly given of themselves in the maintenance of the principles and rights outlined in those instruments, to be worthy of veneration and candidates to be canonized as Saints of this Archdiocese.
While we recognize that in their day to day struggle with the demands of government, society, and cultural traditions, actions that may be viewed by modern man as reprehensible, but those same actions were prevailing, perhaps even seemingly acceptable institutions at the time, we choose to consider the overall works and the effect that said volume of work has had on the United States and the world. What began as an experiment in 1776 has blossomed into a magnificent flower—one acceptable to God—as the fruits of that experiment took root throughout the world ending the oppression and tyranny of Kings, Emperors, Princes, and Potentates—Monarchs and Dictators alike–who ruled under the delusion that they themselves were Gods to be worshiped on bended knee. Those individuals that have secured for us the manifest freedoms we enjoy today, deserve to numbered among those Saints canonized as Just.
I set my hand and seal to this proclamation on this day.
Bishop Benedict Johns
Presiding Bishop: Archdiocese of St. Michael