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6.22.11

News From Around the Orthodox World

Moscow, Russia

The Russian Church has released a draft document entitled “Church Slavonic in the Life of the Russian Orthodoxy Church in the 21st century” online, requesting comments concerning its proposals for adapting the ancient church language to modern ears. You can read that draft, in Russian, here.

Among its major points:

- “Church Slavonic is an integral (basic) part of the liturgical tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church... it is not only a heritage of our Local Church, but an overall cultural value that should be protected and preserved.”

- Church Slavonic has been continually “updated”, most recently through the reforms begun in 1905 and later through a commission to correct liturgical books in 1907 . The draft states: “ However, the continuation of the work was prevented by the events of 1917 and subsequent years...” The draft recognizes that “Nowadays, the problem of understanding of liturgical texts is no less urgent than in the 19-20th centuries, and needs to be addressed, both by improving knowledge of Church Slavonic and by continuing (the) editing of liturgical books.” This study and work is to be done by philologists and academics. Any corrections, however, “...should be made with extreme caution and only with the blessing of the Holy Synod, with the subsequent approval of the Council of Bishops.”

- The Commission recommends replacing “...obscure Church Slavonic words”, as well as those “...words which in the modern Russian language have a fundamentally different meaning from the Church Slavonic. Equivalents for them should in Church Slavonic, (rather than in the Russian literary language) which will ensure preservation of the unity of style and continuity of the tradition of the liturgical text.” "This is the process of adaptation inside the Church Slavonic language,” said Archimandrite Kirill, who is a deputy head of the Church’s Education Committee. The changes in particular stipulate that “zhivot,” which translates from Church Slavonic to “life” but means “stomach” in modern Russian, will be replaced with the standard Russian word “zhizn,” and some Greek words will be replaced with their Russian equivalents.”

- Preaching, which is “...an integral part of services” should be in the local, contemporary language however.

• Chicago, IL

Delegates to the upcoming 50th Antiochian Archdiocesean Convention to be held in Chicago, Illinois, July 24- 31st, will cast their ballots for the nomination of candidates to fill the positions of two Auxiliary Bishops. Delegate will vote for two candidates, and the results of this straw poll will be submitted to the Archdiocesan Synod, who will then elect the two new bishops. The list includes two candidates born in Lebanon, two Cradle Orthodox Americans, and three American converts. All seven candidates have pastoral experience in parishes ranging from 6 years to 30+ years. The candidates are:

Rt. Rev. Archimandrite John Abdalah (currently serving in Pittsburgh PA)
Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Michel Boghos (currently serving in Vancouver BC)
Rev. Jeremy Davis (currently serving in Oklahoma City OK)
Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Daniel Griffith (currently serving in Salina, Kansas,
Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Daniel Keller, (currently serving in Mesquite TX)
Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Anthony Michaels (currently serving in Ft. Wayne IN)
Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Nicholas Ozone ( currently serving in Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

Read their biographies here.

• Syosset, NY

An interview with the Interim Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America, Bishop Melchisedek, written in English, appeared in Russian translation on the Portal-Credo web on Friday, June 17, 2011, causing some confusion when it was re-translated back into English. This resulted in the original English text being published on www.OCA.org.

In the original the Bishop speaks of the difficulties between the Metropolitan and the governing bodies of the Church:

“There has, for a variety of reasons, been misunderstanding on some basic issues in the Orthodox Church in America, and hopefully these misunderstandings will be satisfactorily resolved.”

He then clearly re-affirms the Synod’s commitment to Best Practices, transparency and accountability, stating:


“ One essential concern of the Holy Synod is that agreements, which reflect the consensus of the entire Synod and have been ratified by the entire Holy Synod, following our Best Practices, should be carried out by the Holy Synod as a whole.”

You can read the entire interview here.

In other news from the OCA:

 - It has been reported to OCANews.org that Metropolitan Jonah has released Fr. Joseph Fester, the former Dean of the Cathedral in Washington DC to the Greek Archdiocese. Archbishop Demetrios has placed Fr. Fester in the Carpatho-Russian Diocese for assignment.

- Six weeks before the Special Assembly of the Alaskan Diocesan no list of candidates or biographies have been published. It is now unclear when, or if, an election will be held this summer; and if held, which candidates will be vettted to appear on the ballot.

• New York, NY

Two recent editorials, one in the nation's largest Greek newspaper, and one in a smaller NY city publication, reveal growing dissatisfaction in the Greek Archdiocese. First a June 16th editorial in the National Herald:

“Our church is in the midst of a crisis. The revelations and accusations against clergymen, like the latest ones against Father Demetrios Rekatsinas (see story on front page), follow each other in rapid succession. Our people are scandalized, they are anxious about the future. They want to hear what the person in charge of the church here in America, Archbishop Demetrios, has to say.

Yet he continues to remain silent. Intentionally. It is a strategic decision. He remains silent in the mistaken belief that the scandals will somehow go away by themselves. That in a short period of time from now, it will all be forgotten. Thus, why dignify the story with a “response” they argue.

We heard the same thing with the crisis at the Saint George community of Lynn, Massachussetts - Silence. We made a written request for an interview. We stressed how important it was that our community hear the opinion of the Archbishop. His answer: Silence.

We believe that an important part of the duties of an Archbishop include the responsibly of communicating with the community, holding press conferences and answering questions that arise, periodically.

Still he is the only Archbishop that does not do that. The only one.

This failure to communicate is not only an abrogation of his responsibilities and an afront to the community, but also widens the leadership vacuum that already exists at the top of the church leadership.

Our church has paid $18 million so far to settle suits for sexual misbehavior by its clergy. Aside from the fact that the Archdiocese has strengthened its insurance policy – a positive development- they have not taken any precautionary steps to make sure that new recruits to the priesthood do not present similar problems in the future.

It is not really as complicated as it seems: the world of the clergy is a small world. And they like to talk. In that world, there are no secrets, especially those of any consequence. News travels fast and usually reaches Archdiocese authorities quickly.

When that happens, instead of being proactive and investigating a case and dealing with the clergy involved, the Archdiocese, at best, ignores the warnings and, at worst, covers it up, hoping that neither TNH nor anybody else will hear about it.

Astoundingly, along with a cover-up, Church authorities heap praise on the parties involved, even after they submit their resignation, as in the case of Father Demetrios Recachinas.

We believe that this tactic helps no one. Not the priest, who needs urgent therapy, and not the community, which finds itself in a most uncomfortable situation and who eventually becomes so frustrated as to take its case to the media in order to draw attention to the problem.

Our community depend to a large extent on our church. It is vital that we maintain a strong church.

However serious accusations of a moral nature create confusion, raise questions, bring about apathy and disappointment – leading many people to simply avoid going to churches.

We need to make certain that we, as Christians, make a distriction between a priest and our entire church. We do not go to church because of a priest, even though a good or a not-so-good priest does make a difference. We go to church because of Christ, seeking our salvation.

However the problem is more serious than it seems. Take, for example, the responses Bishop Andonios gave to our questions:

TNH: Why did father Recachinas resign?

Andonios: For personal reasons...The only thing I can tell you is that he resigned for personal reasons.

TNH: Was he involved in something unethical?

Andonis: Not necessarily.

Amazing, is it not?”

The second editorial, by Demetrios Rhompotis, appeared on June 6th in Neomagazine. He writes:

"A few months ago, the Astoria, New York, Greek community went through a scandal of unprecedented proportions to which a cover up, instead of a
solution, was offered and botched....

A few months ago, Bishop Vikentios, Paisios’ right hand for more than 30 years, went to the local press and accused him of having sexually molested his brother! After so many years, he just had found out, he claimed! Before that, a nun gave an interview accusing Paisios of having sexual relations with her daughter. On top of that, allegations had seen the light that Paisios had maintained a sexual relationship with another
nun since she was 13 years old. Then a man in his 40s came out accusing the Metropolitan that he had sexually molested him when he was a child.


A guest at Paisios’ monastery came to me and gave a two-hours interview saying he took part in various orgies with Paisios, a nun and other women. He even gave me Paisios’ phone number in Athens and I called him there. His Eminence advised me to speak with his lawyers, saying that all this has been a plot of Vikentios to oust him so that he could take his position. Then I called the other Eminence, actually His Grace, to be more precise, Vikentios, who was also in Athens then, and he also refrained from any comment, due to a patriarchal instruction not to talk to the press while a special commission was examining the case.

By then, the Patriarch had sent to Astoria an Exarchy, a group of monks chaired by Metropolitan Niketas, to see what was going on. They invited everyone to come and tell what they knew about Paisios and Vikentios. However, talking to me on the record, Niketas admitted that unidentified people were taking pictures of those entering the Archdiocese center to testify, in an attempt to intimidate them and others from doing so. Why was not the Police informed, I asked, and he said that he was let know about it afterwards!

Anyway, the Exarchy submitted a report to the Patriarch (which didn’t go public) and afterwards Bartholomew suspended the two bishops’ right to perform any priest duties. In the end, he ordered them to leave the US (although Vikentios, an American citizen, I believe, is still here) and he appointed them to shepherd some remote Aegean Sea islands!

Well, this is very typical of the so-called Church Justice: not a clear declaration of innocence or guilt, everything in limbo so that nobody can be accused of anything and no one will be responsible for anything....”

•Princeton, NJ

A symposium will be held at Princeton University to examine some of the people and movements that contributed to the growth of Orthodox Christianity in 20th century America. Special attention will be given to the role of missionaries, immigration and conversion, the emergence of Orthodox theological scholarship in English, and Orthodox engagement in American civic and political life by the gathering, which is co-sponsored by the Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas (SOCHA), the School of Christian Vocation and Mission at Princeton Theological Seminary, and the Fr. Georges Florovsky Orthodox Christian Theological Society at Princeton University. Among the major papers are presentations by Fr. Demetrios J. Constantelos, Dr. Scott M. Kenworthy, Fr. Oliver Herbel and Dr. Paul Ladouceur. More than 20 “short papers” will also be given, no more than 20 minutes in length, by as many different authors, testifying to the increased interest and growing depth of interest in historical studies into Orthodoxy in America

- Mark Stokoe

 

 
 

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