News From Around Orthodox America
• Dallas, TX
Archbishop Dmitri has announced his retirement effective at the end of this month. In a letter read throughout the Diocese of the South yesterday, the elderly Archbishop wrote:
"To the Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America
I would like to take this opportunity first, to ask for your prayers and forgiveness as we continue our journey to Pascha. May our Lord grant you a blessed and fruitful Lent and Holy Week.
In addition, please know that over the years your tireless efforts in service to Christ have been a tremendous source of inspiration and joy. We have labored together for 'the Truth that sets man free': in light of your personal dedication it may be said that, 'I have (had) no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth' (3 John 4). With each conversion, with the start of each new mission I thank the Lord for 'revealing Himself unto us,' and for providing His humble servant an opportunity to be a steward of such a flock as we have in the Diocese of the South.
Overseeing a Diocese, however, is a temporary calling by nature. Thus, after fifty five years in the priesthood and forty years as a bishop of the Orthodox Church in America, I have asked for retirement from the active episcopacy, effective March 31, 2009. It is not a decision I make lightly. I feel confident that with our current Synod of Bishops as well as Diocesan leaders (both clergy and laymen) already in place, that the work of the Orthodox Church in the South will continue. Together we have helped to lay the foundation which is Christ, and now it is time for others to build upon our labors (1 Corinthians 3).
Again, I ask for your prayers. Be assured of my love and prayers for all of you.
In the love of Christ,
Archbishop of Dallas and the South"
A locum tenens was not announced, but it is widely anticipated that Metropolitan Jonah will assume leadership of the diocese until a new Bishop is chosen. Fr. Brum, who the Archbishop had suggested last month as possible vicar for the South (read that story here) is now being suggested, along with Fr. Basil Summer, the retired former director of FOS, as possible vicars for the Metropolitan instead.
• Pittsburgh, PA
At a meeting of the Archdiocesan Council yesterday evening together with Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Tikhon, discussion centered on the delayed election of the Archdiocese's nominee, Archimandrite Melchisedek (Pleska) and reports that the Archdiocese was about to be merged with the neighboring Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania. The Bishops informed the Council that the dioceses would not be merged. Moreover, they told the meeting that a decision on the nomination of Fr. Pleska would be madeat the forthcoming Synod meeting to be held at the end of the month.
• Boston MA
A speech delivered to Holy Cross Seminary on March 17th by the Chief Secretary of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, has sparked controversy across the three largest Orthodox jurisdictions in America. After reviewing the situation of Orthodoxy in America, and pointing out 'dangers' to the Greek Archdiocese in particular, the Chief Secretary decried
"the uncanonical status of the so-called OCA". He challenged Metropolitan Jonah by name for questions the Metropolitan raised concerning primacy in recent writings. The Chief Secretary then challenged Metropolitan Philip, of the Antiochian Archdiocese, for his "anti-theological" distinctions regarding the canons, and more specifically, the Metropolitan's recent questioning of Canon 28 of the IV Ecumenical Council. In conclusion the Chief Secretary stated:
"With regards to the United States, the submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is not only fitting with the American society and mentality but also it opens up the horizons of possibilities for this much-promising region, which is capable of becoming an example of Pan-Orthodox unity and witness."
You can read Dr. Lambriniadis' speech here.
• Detroit, MI
In a letter sent to some, but apparently not all Archdiocesan Board members, the pseudonymous writer calling himself "Abdallah Khouri", now suggests that lawsuits are on the way. "Khouri", who correctly predicated the current crisis now engulfing the Archdiocese some 18 months ago, (read that story here), was considered such a "threat" to the Archdiocese at the time of his first writing that sources close to Englewood relate a private detective was hired to trace him, a search which ended in a dead-end.
In his latest letter "Khouri" warns the Archdiocesan Board: "We elected the best bishops in America and where they are the church is good." The writer then asks after this "last seizing of power, isn't it time to challenge or continue horrible division in the Church pitting priests against priests based on where they were born or convert." "Legally speaking," the writer continues, "the Pittsberg (sic) convention was for self-rule. It was approved by the people. Bishops were elected and duly installed.... by the way, when lawsuits erupt, you will be included since you are the board of trustees."
In other AOCA news, internet forums report that the Archdiocesan Constitution has been taken off the web. You may find a copy here.
- Mark Stokoe