Questions to Metropolitan Philip
from a life-long member of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
The February 24, 2009 decisions of the Holy Synod of the Patriarch of Antioch have significantly altered the polity of our Archdiocese. With their decision, and your approval of it, much of the work of your Eminence, the Board of Trustees, your clergy and the General Assemblies of several Regular and Special Archdiocese Conventions is now undone. Yet in a memorandum dated January 27, 2005, issued by our Archdiocese Department of Legal Affairs (still to be found on the Archdiocese website here), it states:
“…at the Holy Synod meeting of October 13-15, 2004, “Metropolitan Philip… pointed out to the members of the Holy Synod that our Constitution, by law, could only be amended in the ways provided by our Constitution.”
It also says, “We will, at all times in this Archdiocese, be bound by our legally adopted constitution and the civil laws of this land in which we reside. Article VII of our constitution allows timely proposed amendments to be submitted for consideration only by any of the following procedures:
by a majority vote of the General Assembly of a Regular or Special Convention
by a recommendation from the Archdiocese Department of Legal Affairs
by a recommendation from the Archdiocese Board of Trustees
by a recommendation from any parish of the Archdiocese in good standing”
This memorandum was considered so important that under the Archdiocesan letterhead were printed the words “AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE REGARDING OUR CONSTITUTION” and
“TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE PARISH BULLETIN.”
And yet we now no longer have diocesan bishops as prescribed in our Archdiocese Constitution. We no longer have a Local Synod of bishops lead by a Metropolitan, but rather six auxiliaries who serve at the behest of the Metropolitan as his suffragans.
Our diocesan bishops were liturgically enthroned in their cathedrals and given their pastoral staffs. Now they will not be commemorated in the services unless physically present.
How it can be that, with none of the procedures so bravely championed by Your Eminence followed, portions of our Constitution are now “null and void”?
In the March 4, 2009 letter from Your Eminence regarding the Holy Synod’s actions, Your Eminence states that the unity of the Archdiocese is your primary motivation for approving of the Holy Synod’s decisions. Did some of the former diocesan bishops commit acts that would divide our Archdiocese? Is this the reason for their demotion? If so, why would all of them be demoted?
Furthermore in the same letter and in the March 3, 2009 directive we have been informed that the auxiliary bishops no longer to be commemorate in the holy services unless they are physically present. What then, is the significance of their diocesan assignments?
In the same letter Your Eminence states, “Our Self-Rule status remains in effect with regard to the relationship of this Archdiocese to the Holy Synod of Antioch.” Given that we no longer have diocesan bishops and a functioning Holy Synod, what is the content or meaning of this Self-Rule?