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Chambesy, Switzerland
   Interfax reported this morning that “Due to the economic crisis facing the country, the Greek government has taken the decision to stop funding the Patriarchal Center in Chambésy. Formally, the Center will continue to exist, but work has ceased, and the site itself is facing closure.” Earlier this week the Bulgarian website “Dveri v Pravoslav” announced that the Center’s small staff had already been significantly reduced.

    The Chambesy Center had been the site of the development of the anticipated Pan-Orthodox Council. Patriarch Bartholomew, has in recent years, frequently referred to this long-awaited Council, which he had hoped could be held as early as 2013. Clearly this development is a setback in those efforts.

Istanbul, Turkey
     Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met Tuesday afternoon, September 21, with officers of the new American Episcopal Assembly of Orthodox Bishops. Led by Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, Chairman of the Assembly, the group of hierarchs from America included the Vice President of the Assembly, Russian Archbishop Justinian, Ukrainian Archbishop Antony, its Treasurer, and its Secretary, Bishop Basil of the Antiochian Archdiocese.

A series of videos showing, among other events, the 2005 consecration of three bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese whose episcopal status has been questioned, have been posted to YouTube. At question is whether these three, as well as several other bishops of the Archdiocese, are diocesan or auxiliary bishops.

A recent decision of the Synod in Antioch (read that story here) resolved that the Bishops were indeed auxiliaries, that the dioceses were to be considered little more than the old “regions” renamed, and that the Self-Rule of the Archdiocese had been vastly overstated since its proclamation in 2005. The Archdiocesan website, however, continues to state the following: “In October, 2003, in a history-making decision, the Holy Synod of Antioch unanimously approved a resolution which granted this Archdiocese the status of a self-ruling Archdiocese. Effective with this resolution, the Auxiliary Bishops took their positions as Diocesan Bishops.”

In the consecration videos showing the 2005 ordinations of Bishops Thomas, Alexander and Mark to the episcopacy in Damascus, the Arabic term for “diocese” (“Abrashiyya”) is used three times, at 3:10, 3:36 and 3:53. This would indicate that at the time the Patriarch, who was presiding, did indeed consecrate the bishops for specific dioceses (Charleston, Ottawa and Toledo) and that they should be considered diocesan/eparchial bishops, not auxiliaries. (You can see the videos here.)

-Mark Stokoe



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