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9.3.10

How Can the Faithful Address

the Current Crisis in the Antiochian Archdiocese?

by an Anonymous Antiochian Clergyman

Last year an attempt was made to reduce our Diocesan Bishops to Auxiliaries and subordinate them to Metropolitan Philip - an action contrary to the Holy Canons. The attempt is being made again.

This time the attack is being made through an attack on Self-Rule.  Even though claims are being made that Self-Rule is still intact, there is no Self-Rule without real Diocesan Bishops.

Our Diocesan Bishops must have canonical authority to address the concerns of their respective Dioceses. Diocesan Bishops must be able to make decisions. A Bishop must be able to administer the affairs of his Diocese without unnecessary and uninvited intrusions by ANY other Bishop regardless of rank. Any interventions must be based upon serious concerns - and then by the Local Synod, not by a Metropolitan alone. There is no Self-Rule apart from Bishops who can gather as a Synod to make decisions -without duress of unilateral actions by the Metropolitan.


The Holy Synod in Damascus has reduced our Diocesan Bishops without their consent (as required by the Holy Canons) or through a Canonical Trial. They are now to be nothing more than an advisory board to Metropolitan Philip.

Our Diocesan Bishops work hard to cultivate relationships with the clergy and faithful of their respective Dioceses. Now attempts are being made to deprive our Fathers-in-Christ of their spiritual children. Their Dioceses are being widowed. Our Bishops may be moved, again without their consent. And we all know who will be first; Bishop Alexander of Ottowa and Upstate New York, and Bishop Mark of Toledo and the Diocese of the Midwest.

Significantly, there is debate over the translation of the recent Synodal Resolution. Does the authority to transfer a Bishop with the Bishop’s consent) belong to the Local Synod (as would be normative) or was it given over wholesale to Metropolitan Philip, regardless of the wishes of the Local Synod and the potential victim of his wrath?


Here is the English translation provided by Metropolitan Philip. From reliable sources it is known the members of the Holy Synod did not read the English version and only vouch for the Arabic original.


"SYNODAL RESOLUTION”


The Holy Synod of Antioch in its 46 (sic) Synodal session, after long and careful deliberation and following careful  investigation of canonical studies submitted to the Holy Synod, including the study of Metropolitan Basil of Arcadia (Akar) who was commissioned by the Holy Synod Antioch, with regard to the historicity of bishops, hereby affirms that the bishops of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, chosen to dioceses and delegated to these diocese by the Metropolitan, are Auxiliary bishops under the direction of the Metropolitan, who has the full jurisdiction over the Archdiocese. Furthermore, the Metropolitan, possesses the right and authority to transfer a bishop from one diocese to another, as he deems necessary for the benefit of the Archdiocese and after deliberating with the Archdiocesan Synod.  The Dioceses within the Archdiocese are not considered, by any means, independent, but rather shall always remain under the direct authority and control of the Metropolitan. Further, the Holy Synod confirms and reaffirms that the Holy Synod, under the chairmanship of the Patriarch, is the final and supreme authority in all matters related to all Archdioceses of the Patriarchate of Antioch. The Holy Synod affirms that the Arabic Test (sic) is considered as the only reference.
This synodal resolution is issued at St. Christopher Covenant (sic) on the 19th of August 2010 "

(The resolution may be found in the Arabic and English here)


If the power is given to the individual, rather than the Local Synod, such a decision of the Holy Synod would seem to contradict the long established and ancient Discipline of the One, Holy, Orthodox and Apostolic Church.

Canon XXXIV of the Apostolic Canons states:

It behoves the Bishops of every nation to know the one among them who is the premier or chief, and to recognize him as their head; and to refrain from doing anything superfluous without his advice and approval: but, instead, each of them should do only whatever is necessitated by his own parish and by the territories under him. But let not even such a one do anything without the advice and consent and approval of all. For thus will there be concord, and God will be glorified through the Lord in Holy Spirit; the Father, and the Son; and the Holy Spirit. (cc. VI, VII of the lst: cc. II. III of the 2nd; c. VIII of the3rd; c. XXVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXVI, XXXIX of the 6th; c. IX of Antioch.)

Let us see what the ancient commentators say about this Canon of the early Church.

Interpretation (From the Pedalion)


Just as, when the head is unwell and fails to function properly, the other members of the body also are ill disposed or even utterly useless, so and in like manner it may be said that the one acting as head in the Church does not honor her fitly, all the rest of the body of the Church will be out of order and unable to function. It is for this reason that the present Canon ordains that all bishops of every province ought to know who is the chief among them1 i.e., the metropolitan; and ought to regard him as their head, and not to do anything unnecessary without consulting him, as respecting, that is to say, anything that does not pertain to the parishes of their bishoprics, but, extending beyond these limits, have to do with the common condition of the whole province, as, for instance, do questions concerning the dogmas, matters involving adjustments and corrections of common mistakes, the installation and ordination of prelates, and other similar things. Instead, they are to meet with the metropolitan and confer with him in regard to such common matters, and decide in common on what appears to them the best thing to be done. Each of the bishops should do by himself, without consulting his metropolitan, only those things that are confined to the limits and boundaries of his bishopric and to the territories that are subject thereto. But just as bishops should do nothing of common interest without consulting the metropolitan, so and in like manner a metropolitan ought not to do anything of such common interest alone and by himself without consulting all his bishops. For this way there will be concord and love, both between bishops and metropolitans and between clergymen and laymen. The outcome of this concord and love will be that God the Father will be glorified through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who acquainted men with the name of His Father and laid down the law requiring love, when He said: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another" (John 13:35). And He will be glorified in His Holy Spirit, which though Its grace has united us in one spiritual association. That is the same as saying that as a result of this concord the Holy Trinity-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit-will be glorified, in accordance with the voice of the Gospel which says: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and may glorify your Father who is in heaven”3 ( Matt. 5 : 16).

The above Canon clearly intends that a Bishop is to administer his Diocese and consult with the Metropolitan only on matters outside his diocese which affects the whole region.

The latter part of the following note in the Pedalion is also helpful is discerning a Bishop’s relationship to the Metropolitan as well as the Metropolitan’s relationship to the Patriarch.

The one called the chief of the bishops is, according to c. VI of the Sardican, the bishop of the metropolis, and the exarch of the province, but, according to c. XXXIV and others of Carthage the chief, whereas; according to c. XLVI of the same, he is called the bishop of the first seat, while commonly he is called in most canons the metropolitan. The one who is the chief of the metropolitans is either the exarch of the administration, according to cc. IX and XVII of the 4th and c, VI of the 2nd, or the patriarch; and see the second footnote to c. VI of the 1st. He is not called the exarch of priests or the high priest, according to c. XLVI of Carthage, because the patriarch bears the same logical relation and relative rank to the metropolitans as the metropolitan bears to the bishops. Accordingly, just as the metropolitan is the chief and head of the bishops, so too is the patriarch the chief and head of the metropolitans. On this account the present Apostolical Canon is not to be understood as attaching more to the bishops in relation to the metropolitan than to the metropolitans to the patriarch, but as applying to both of them equally.

That is why John of Kitros says that if a metropolitan holds services in the bishopric of a bishop, he ought to do so only with the consent and permission of his bishop; in the diptychs, however he ought to mention the name of the patriarch, and not that of his bishop, since it is unbecoming for a higher functionary to mention the name of a lower one, according to Armenopoulos. Epitome of the Canons (epigraph 4)

Also in this regard the discipline and order provided by this earlier Canon is confirmed by the Synod of Antioch (Canon IX). The presiding Bishop in a metropolis must be recognized by the Bishops belonging to each province (or eparchy), and undertake the cure of the entire province, because of the fact that all who have any kind of business to attend to are wont to come from all quarters to the metropolis. Hence it has seemed best to let him have precedence in respect of honor, and to let the rest of the Bishops do nothing extraordinary without him, in accordance with the ancient Canon of the Fathers which has been prevailing, or only those things which are imposed upon the parish of each one of them and upon the territories under it. For each Bishop shall have authority over his own parish (Bishopric), to govern in accordance with the reverence imposed upon each, and to make provision regarding all the territory belonging to his city, us also to ordain Presbyters and Deacons, and to dispose of details with judgment, but to attempt nothing further without the concurrence of the Bishop of the Metropolis; nor shall he himself, without the consent and approval of the rest. (Ap. c. XXXIV.)

Interpretation


The present is almost identical with Ap. c. XXXIV in respect of words and in respect of meaning. For it too teaches that the Bishops of each province ought to recognize the Metropolitan of the province as their chief, and to do nothing without his consent and approval (as in turn neither is he to do anything without their consent and approval), but only those things which belong to their episcopates, ordinations, that is to say, of presbyters and deacons and of the rest, administrations of the church, and the rest.

Our Bishops are to care for their respective Dioceses and are accountable to the Local Synod chaired by the Metropolitan as an elder brother (not as a Father).   This is clearly what the Holy Synod intended.  But now here we are again with an attempt to un-canonically demote and subjugate our bishops.


There were numerous articles written a year ago regarding ecclesiology and a large number of clergy wrote to His Beatitude, Ignatius IV to plead for a return to canonical normalcy. This insanity must stop.

Our Bishops were not simply chosen by a Metropolitan, but nominated by the people and chosen by our Local Synod. How can our Bishops now be answerable to only the Metropolitan? How can they still retain the ability to vote on matters concerning our church according to their own conscience?


According to reliable sources, Bishop Thomas of Charleston and Oakland has already been asked to administer the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest until an election is held. Given he was already asked, we know Metropolitan Philip’s intent. Obviously, the Metropolitan will want to submit this to a vote of the Local Synod, so that he can keep his hands "clean". But, he may even transfer Bishop Alexander and Bishop Mark without their consent -or a majority vote from the Local Synod.

Unless the people oppose it. 

Metropolitan Philip has stated numerous times: “The Church is not the Bishop alone or the people alone, but the Bishop and the people together.”


So what can we do?

First of all, pray.

Second, it might be helpful to place this reflection, along with the following letter, and forward it to every member of an Antiochian Orthodox Church on your email list. Ask them to sign the attached letter, or write their own, and send a copy to every Bishop of the Antiochian Orthodox Church here in North America, and to every member of the Board of  Trustees.

Metropolitan Philip refused to listen to the majority of our clergy, so only a few now have his ear. Our priests have attempted to speak with him and he shuts them down. Now perhaps, he must hear from people. ALL of our Bishops and lay leaders need to know how their people feel and how they will react to losing their Diocesan Bishops. If even one Bishop is moved our beloved Archdiocese will suffer.

Your Eminence and Your Graces,
The ongoing chaos in our Archdiocese is a scandal to the One, Holy, Orthodox and Apostolic Church. The recent decision of the Holy Synod and its implications are cause of great concern in light of the Holy Canons and Ancient Discipline of the Orthodox Church.
Apostolic CANON XXXIV from the Rudder

It behooves the Bishops of every nation to know the one among them who is the premier or chief, and to recognize him as their head; and to refrain from doing anything superfluous without his advice and approval: but, instead, each of them should do only whatever is necessitated by his own parish and by the territories under him.

But let not even such a one do anything without the advice and consent and approval of all.

For thus will there be concord, and God will be glorified through the Lord in Holy Spirit; the Father, and the Son; and the Holy Spirit. (1)

For several years now, our Archdiocese has undergone a proactive process of our clergy and laity in the next phase of our maturation, the administering of dioceses, guided by our Metropolitan and local Synod of bishops. We rejoiced in the fulfillment of this process, culminating in the enthronement of local bishops in their Cathedrals. Because of the thoughtful and deliberate process of communication with which our Metropolitan led us through this process, we have a continued awareness of the unity of our local dioceses with the whole, and an added appreciation for the wisdom in establishing the local diocesan episcopal ministry.


When our former auxiliary bishops, His Grace Bishop Antoun, His Grace Bishop Joseph and His Grace Bishop Basil were elevated by the Holy Synods Decree in 2003 to be Diocesan Bishops and the newest diocesan bishops were consecrated in Damascus, the scope of their ministry was clearly defined by the Patriarch. This heightens our sadness at the recent resolution of the Holy Synod (August 19, 2010) rescinding our bishops’ enthronements and reducing them to auxiliaries.


On many levels, we see this reversal of direction to be a grave harbinger of future harm to our Archdiocese. We see this diminishing of the dignity of our diocese bishops as an act which will destabilize our Archdiocese, particularly damaging within the context of our current societal instability.


The principle and practice of pastoral stability has repeatedly shown us more optimum health locally, resulting also in a healthier Archdiocese. Stability within the diocese calls us all to a deeper Christian commitment to work through personal differences and ensuing conflicts towards the oneness and concord to the glory of God. Stability within the diocese encourages depth of relationship, empowering the “Axios” from the faithful to be lifted up to God without indifference or hypocrisy.


Therefore, we ask all of our beloved hierarchs to rightly discern the word of truth as you deliberate in concord one with another at your up-coming Synod meeting in Jacksonville, FL, October 21. We beseech you to not move any of our bishops at this time, without any bishop’s unconstrained consent. For the sake of our Archdiocese, we pray that our hierarchs will show to their faithful their utmost love, by their good example, demonstrating a higher capacity of resolving division and discord through their respectful commitment to one another.


Your Child in Christ,

Signature

Name and Address

• (cc. VI, VII of the lst: cc. II. III of the 2nd ; c. VIII of the3rd; c. XXVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXVI, XXXIX of the 6th; c. IX of Antioch.)

On the other hand, one can seriously ask whether writing would have any effect - given the culture of fear and retribution that seems to pervade the Archdiocese, 

a culture made manifest at the last Convention?

The final decision is not ours, but the Bishops. But the choice to acquiese to error is ours alone. Will fear engender silence once again? Or will the silent testimony of letters give error pause, before the damage is done?


----------------------------------------------------------

Most Rev. Metropolitan Philip
358 Mountain Rd
P.O. Box 5238
Englewood, NJ 07631-5238

Rt. Rev. Bishop Antoun
358 Mountain Rd. POB 5238
Englewood, NJ 07631-5238

Rt. Rev. Bishop Joseph
454 S. Lorraine Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Rt. Rev. Bishop Basil
1559 North Woodlawn Boulevard
Wichita, KS 67208-2429

Rt. Rev. Bishop Thomas
4407 Kanawha Ave, SE
Charleston, WV 25304-1734

Rt. Rev. Bishop Mark
2656 Pemberton Dr
Toledo, OH 43606

Rt. Rev. Bishop Alexander
10820 Rue La Verdure
Montreal, PQ H3L 2L9
Canada

--------------------------------------

Board of Trustees

Dr. George Farha
300 N. Terrace Dr
Wichita, KS 67208-3944

Mr. Ralph Abercia
314 Gentilly Pl.
Houston, TX 77024

Mr. Abe Abraham
150 Park Hills Dr. S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Mr. Alan Abraham
7841 Whitburn S.E.
Ada, MI 49301

Mr. Daniel Abraham
1714 Tammarron, S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49546-9700

Mr. Charles Ajalat
500 N. Brand, Ste 1670
Glendale, CA 91203

Rt. Rev. Bishop JOSEPH
454 S. Lorraine Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Mr. Nicola Antakli
530 Stephenson Hwy.
Troy, MI 48083

Mr. Edward Assile
61 Adams Dr.
Cresskill, NJ 07626

Dr. Anthony S. Bashir
242 La Grange St.
West Roxbury, MA 02132

V. Rev. Fr. Elias Bitar
237 Long Hill Rd.
Little Falls, NJ 07424

Dr. David Bojrab
10713 Oak Tree Rd.
Ft. Wayne, IN 46825

Mr. Dan Braun
1461 Holiday Hill Rd.
Goleta, CA 93117-1836

Dr. John D. Dalack
803 Davis Ave.
Staten Is., NY 10310-3132

Mr. George Darany
24259 Fairmont Dr.
Dearborn, MI 48124

Rt. Rev. Fr. Paul Doyle
POB 3531
Torrance, CA 90510-3531

Mr. Fawaz El-Khoury
10 Eli Whitney St
Westboro, MA 01581

V. Rev. Fr. Michael Ellias
8005 Ridge Blvd.
Brooklyn, NY 11209

Mrs. Joan Farha
1010 N. Linden Circle
Witchita, KS 67206

Ms. Laila Ferris
3016 Harrison
El Paso, TX 79930-4027

Mr. Philip Haddad
14 Hawksyard Ln.
Charleston, WV 25311

Mr. Joseph Hanna
22 Fernlea Cres.
Montreal, PQ H3P 1T6
Canada

Dr. Elias Hebeka
1328 Wood Duck Trl.
Naples, FL 34108

Mrs. Elaine Heider
829 Horner St.
Johnstown, PA 15902

Mr. Benny R. Homsey
1408 Kenilworth Rd
Oklahoma City, OK 73120-1435

Dr. Donald Howard
10314 SW 23rd Ct.
Davie, FL 33324

Mr. Walid Khalife
4315 Coppercliff Ct.
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302

Mr. Anton Khoury
13945 SW 139th Ct.
Miami, FL 33186

Mr. Robert Koory
1179 Nicklaus
Troy, MI 48085-3368

Dr. Sam Kouri
619 N. Armour St.
Wichita, KS 67206-1515

Mr. Gregory Laham
16 Kilronnan Rd
Westwood, MA 02090

Mr. Robert Laham
(Address removed at request)

Dr. Paul Massad
5705 Country Club Ter.
Edmond, OK 73003

Dr. Alan E. Matook
2 Mountain Ridge Dr.
Cedar Grove, NJ 07009

Mr. William Morrison
8 Hawkins Cir.
Wheaton, IL 60187

Julia Nassar
5042 Hunters Green Drive
Toledo, OH 43623

Mr. William Nassir
5619 Abalone Pl.
La Jolla, CA 92037

Mr. George Nassor
421 Hamden Ct.
Wyckoff, NJ 07481-1211

Mr. Sam E. Newey
720 Oaks Field Rd.
Jacksonville, FL 32211

Ms. Ruth A. Nimee
770 Salisbury St. Apt. 334
Worcester, MA 01609-1179

Walter & Grace Parhamovich
8425 Apple Hill Ct.
Colonnades II, S. Shore
Las Vegas, NV 89128-7635

Mr. Mansour Rayan
6700 N. Navajo
Lincolnwood, IL 60645

Dr. Raymond Rishwain
4355 Riviera Dr.
Stockton, CA 95204

Mr. Adeeb Sadd
4935 Woodley Ave.
Encino, CA 91436-1408

Mr. Naseeb Saliba
4435 Petit Dr.
Encino, CA 91436

Mr. Philip Saliba
35 Park Ave. 6J
New York, NY 10016

Ms. Jean Sam
9752 Glen Heron Dr.
Bonita Springs, FL 34135

Dr. Joseph Samra
125 Old Mendon Rd.
Cumberland, RI 02864-6223

Dr. Eugene Sayfie
568 Hibiscus Ln., Bay Point
Miami, FL 33137-3323

Mr. Douglas J. Skaff
2809 Ranch Road
South Charleston, WV 25309

Mrs. Adele Soffa
1230 Patton Ct.
San Marino, CA 91108

Mr. Rex Moore
8025 Bangor. Dr.
Ft. Worth, Tx 76116

Mr. Kory Warr
5927 N. MacArthur Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73122

Mr. Ernest Younes
107 Heathcote Ave.
Willowdale, ON M2L 2X5
Canada

Mr. George Zac-Zac
777 NW 72nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33126

Mr. Elias Shaheen
11323 Coloma Ln.
Houston, Tx 77024

Dr. Richard Kattouf
22321 Kenwood Isle Dr.
Bonita Springs, FL 34135

Mr Salim Abboud
87 Woods Drive
Little Falls, NJ 07424

Rev Dn Dennis Bojrab
1670 Kirkway Lane
Bloomfield, MI 48302

Mr Rex Moore
8025 Bangor Drive
Ft Worth, TX 76116-6938
Cindy Nimee
3500 Snowden Hills Rd
Clinton, NY 13323

Mr Elias Shaheen
11323 Coloma Ln
Houston, TX 77024-7400

Mr Khalil Kardous
6816 N Baltusrol Ln
Charlotte, NC 28210-7364
Mr Gregory Laham
16 Kilronan Rd
Westwood, MA 02090-2200

Ms Sondra Murr Love
5742 Wish Avenue
Encino, CA 91316-1410

Rev Dn Emile Sayegh
27 S Park Terrace
Congers, NY 10920-2625

Mrs Jane Tadros
106 Bellevue Avenue
Butler, NJ 07405-1219

Mr Richard Zakka
1500 Florida Ave
West Palm Beach, FL

 

 

 

 

 
 

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