by Silouan James
The term “bishop” is being used in the context of the Patriarchate’s Bylaws (which are available via www.orthodoxattorneys.org). Those Bylaws provide for only three types of bishops-- the Patriarch, Metropolitans, and “bishops.” These are distinct categories in the Bylaws which, although they don’t use precise canonical language, must be understood. By “bishop,” the Bylaws mean to refer to the uncanonical category of “Auxiliary Bishop”-- a celibate archpriest with a crown on his head and some additional authority delegated to him by the real bishop. The Bylaws were never amended to provide for a category of REAL bishops who are neither Metropolitans nor the Patriarch himself (as required by the Patriarchate’s own resolution with respect to self-rule-- probably because +Philip was entrenched in disobedience with respect to the Pittsburg Constitution). Further, despite +Philip’s false claim (see his response to the DOWAMA Presbyter’s council) that diocesan bishops existed outside the Archdiocese prior to February of this year, the only REAL bishops who were not Metropolitans or the Patriarch were our own Diocesan Bishops.
Given this analysis of the language of the Bylaws, any claim that the Bylaws Amendment was aimed at “normalizing” the status of all bishops throughout the Patriarchate must be seen as only “normalizing” (whatever that means) the status of all existing Auxiliary Bishops. Given that neither the Patriarchal Bylaws nor Constitution were amended to reflect the existence of REAL bishops who were not Metropolitans or the Patriarch but the ecclesial reality that was effected upon their consecration and/or enthronement, the Bylaws Amendment technically never affected our Diocesan Bishops-- even if the intent of the Holy Synod (which we don’t know) was otherwise. The issue with respect to Auxiliary Bishops was legitimate-- that (accepting, for the moment, their existence) the Auxiliary Bishops all had the Patriarch, himself, as their point of reference for authority; it makes much more sense if the Auxiliaries take as a point of reference the bishop whose instrument they are. If the Holy Synod wants to extract itself from the situation without any damage, it has simply to point out that the Bylaws Amendment didn’t have any effect on the North American diocesan bishops and walk away from Metropolitan Philip’s claims.
Furthermore, the way the Holy Synod amended its Bylaws was extremely haphazard (check out the Bylaws and see the sections claimed to be replaced by the Amendments), further supporting the many strong rumors circulating that the drafting was done here in America by someone unfamiliar with the actual text of the Patriarchate’s Bylaws. If this was Metropolitan Philip or done at his behest, as many suggest and is quite likely, he would be in direct violation of taking action in violation of Apostolic Canon 34. But then again, when we have a Metropolitan who said “Canons, schmanons” and foreswore his own oaths when faced with the Joe Allen situation, I guess we can’t expect him to remain obedient to his oaths when his own power is threatened by bishops who actually take their oaths and their resulting obedience seriously.