3. 19. 09
Prescient Email Reappears
In September, 2007 clergy of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese received an pseudonymous email from a sender calling himself "Abdallah Khouri", which being translated from the Arabic means "Servant of God, Priest". The email was dismissed as the work of a crank, and its call to action failed to find traction at that time. But it has now been resurrected, and is once again circulating widely in the Archdiocese following the events of February 24th, 2009. The reason? What the writer warned of 18 months ago has come to pass. As such, the email calls into further question not only the meaning of recent events, but the role of the Metropolitan in precipitating them.
Warnings about +Philip's Intentions
The 2007 email warned that Metropolitan Philip had asked the Synod of Antioch to renounce Self-Rule, return the dioceses to their previous status of regions and "depose" their ruling Bishops. In fact, Self-Rule was made largely meaningless, the dioceses were made regions again, and the Bishops were reduced in rank according to a February 24th, 2009 decision of the Synod of Antioch. (Read that statement here.) In a statement dated March 4th, 2009, Metropolitan Philip offered not only his support for these decisions, but explanations as to why they were necessary. (Read that statement here.)
As evidence for his assertions the writer of the 2007 email cites insider knowledge concerning Bishop Demetri (Khoury) who was forcibly retired by the Archdiocese in 2004 after being convicted of groping a woman in a casino while drunk. (Read that story here.) The writer revealed that contrary to the will of the other Bishops, +Philip has had Bishop Demetri returned to active ministry, sent him to Mexico to learn Spanish, and supported his appointment as vicar to the elderly Antiochian Archishop of Chile. In fact, although briefly considered for Chile (until locals objected), Bishop Demetri was returned to active ministry and since December 2008 has been serving as the auxiliary Bishop of the Antiochian Archdiocese of Mexico, Venezula, Central America and the Caribbean. (Read that announcement here.)
The writer continues by suggesting that +Demetri's appointment is to prepare for his return to the North American Archdiocese at some future date. Moreover, the author states that this is being done to keep some Arab supporters of +Demetri "at peace", while they attack his successor, Bishop Mark, "like rabid dogs".
In fact, several Arab priests did launch a very public attack on Bishop Mark after he was demoted to auxiliary status; an attack for which +Philip himself forced the priests involved to apologize. (Read that exchange here.)
The writer concludes by calling on clergy to protest these actions by sending the Patriarch of Antioch their antimensia, sans their sacred relics.
The email in its entirety is reprinted below. As it is widely assumed among many clergy in the Archdiocese that the writer was one of them, the misspellings, faulty grammar and idiomatic expressions are thought to have been intentional to mask the writer's identity. As such OCANews.org has taken the libery of correcting the more egregious spelling errors to facilitate understanding.
Text of the 2007 Email
"From: Abdallah Khouri
Date: September 28, 2007
Subject: Betrayed by Philip Saliba
My brothers in Christ!
Our Archdiocese is a gift of God to this land, and it shine a light in the darkness to bring Orthodoxy to the nation. We have made struggles and sacrificings to glorify God.
Now we hear that our Metropolitan Phillip is betraying us.
How is this? Have you not heard?
Yes, he is asking bishops of the holy synod of Antioch to renounce our Self Rule and return us to the 'old constitution'. He also paid these bishops to ask the synod to depose our diocese's bishops and take the ministries from them.
Did we not go to Pittsburgh to elect our bishops and draw maps of dioceses? Did Metropolitan Phillip not insist such things? Yet he betrays us through others, too weak to make the journey himself, and too weak to look us in the eye. He takes the tithes we give to him and makes bribe as one generous to the poor.
You say I am a liar? I do not tell the truth? Then I will show show you how he betrays you. Where has bishop Demetri been this time? You have undoubtedly heard he is in Mexico to learn Spanish. Philip betrays us again when all the bishops say no to demetri, with one voice against a sexual offender. But Philip makes the synod take Demetri and make him a biship far away to Chile, so he can come back like the boomerrang.
If you say that I am not telling truth, then ask Philip yourself. He will not deny his support so his Palestinians keep the peace. Demetri's men attack bishop Mark like rabid dogs. The man they vote for in Pittsburgh.
See how the traitors find each other!
Forgive me brothers to make your hearts heavy, but now your voice must go all the way to Damascus.
If they fall, I ask you brothers to take the holy antimens, without the relics and put in a clean envelope and mail to the Saidna Hazim* himself;
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East
P.O. Box 9
Let them know that betrayed by Philip is unacceptable."
"Saidna Hazim" refers to the current Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius (Hazim). It is not known if any priests returned their antimensia. And reports indicate that "Abdallah Khouri" recently struck again with an recent email to all the Bishops and select clergy. The message? "I told you so."
- Mark Stokoe