Thursday, January 17. 2008
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Glory to IC XC!
It struck me that the description of early church governance is essentially comparable to what we have in a lot of our parishes.
Many commentators on this web site have expressed vexation and dismay over the handling of the scandal, yet, curiously -- and I think pertinently -- the authors of a number of such posts also gave the air that they are well served in their home parishes where they seem to be spiritually tended and fed (John 21:15-17).
I would postulate that this is not an empty coincidence, but rather, that in these parishes, the priests love the flock entrust to their care; and where there is love, there necessarily is respect. People intuitively understand this and respond fruitfully: working out their salvation, not only with fear and trembling, but also in faith, hope, and love, and -- perhaps most distinctly -- with joy.
If we pastors and especially our archpastors love the Lord, then we must take note that we are called to serve the flocks entrusted to us in this same manner, “not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand” (2 Cor. 1:24).
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
St. Nicholas Orthodox Mission Church
#1 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2008-01-17 18:00
Careful, Fr. Bart . That last Cor. quote could get you in trouble in the OCA ... at least outside of your functional, familial diocese. But, I'm sure the met now has your number, and is diligently having RSK build a dossier on you. Ya trouble maker, ya. : D
#1.1 T. Hinga on 2008-01-17 20:27
Fr.+ John , Thanks so very much, seems you are one in a jillion. Sincerely,in XC, John F. Morariu jr.
#2 John Morariu on 2008-01-17 18:14
Fr. John's reflection, while historically interesting, quite misses the theological point. Moreover, he sets up an essentially false dichotomy between "democracy" on the one hand and "monarchy" on the other, as if they were the only two options.... and neither of which is particularly Scriptural or patristic.
"Democracy" strictly defined means "rule by the people". But democracy in that sense---in its own way exactly like the mindless hierarchical despotism of "pray, pay, obey and shut up"---is the antithesis of the New Testament teaching on the nature of the Church.
The Scriptures repeatedly (1 Cor.10:17 & 12:12-14:40; Rom.12:5; Eph.1:22-23; Col.1:18, etc.; cf. also 1 Pet.2:5) insists that the Church is a very real and living Body. Jesus Christ is the Body's one and only Head; and we the baptised are the members/parts/cells of the Body. The fundamental nature of the Church is, therefore, not organisational but organic.
In any healthy living body it is the Head alone (or, if you prefer to be excrutiatingly precise, the brain the head contains) which directs, governs, makes decisions for the body; those orders are communicated to the body via the central nervous system. If any other part of the body is running the show, the body is not healthy but is suffering some sort of disease (e.g., epilepsy).
In the Body of Christ, therefore, it is the risen Christ alone Who rules the Body, directs the Body, makes decisions for the Body (and each of its individual members too, don't forget). No one in the Church other than Jesus Christ---not the priest, not the parish council and/or its president, not the dean, not the chancellor, not the Ruling Bishop, not the Metropolitan, not the Holy Synod, not the All-American Council---has the right, authority or power to make any decision for the Body or any portion of it. It is, rather, the task of the Body, both as a whole and as individual members of it, to discern the decisions the Head of the Body has already made from all eternity. This is the task and responsibility of the individual Christian, the parish council, the parish meeting, and so on up to and including the Metropolitan, the Holy Synod, and the All-American Council, because this is the Scriptural meaning of "conciliarity."
Note, for example, how in Chapter 2 of his monastic Rule, St. Benedict reminds the abbot of the monastery of "remember what his title signifies" and act accordingly. "He is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery, since he is addressed by a title of Christ, as the Apostle indicates: 'You have received the spirit of adoption of sons by which we exclaim, abba, father.' Therefore, the abbot must never teach or decree or command anything that would deviate from the Lord's instructions." And the monastery is only the Church in microcosm. Bottom line: either it is Christ Who rules, directs and governs the Church, or it is not His Church at all...or, even worse, it is the Body in rebellion against its divine Head.
That the early Church accepted this fundamental principle is seen clearly in Acts 15:28, where "it seemed good to THE HOLY SPIRIT and to us" to lay down certain principles for the Gentile converts. And quite frankly, the source cited by Fr. John with respect to the selection of Matthias in Acts 1 clearly ignores the underlying background of the casting of lots. The source ignores the use (for as long as they existed) of the urim and thumim by the Jewish High Priest, Gideon and his fleece, etc., and the various other means (e.g. taking the auspices), used by pagans to determine the will of the god or gods. Indeed, as the very words of Acts 1:24 show, the Apostles were not acting in a "republican" manner but leaving the decision exactly where it belonged: in the hand of the true and living God.
Not that the process of discernment excludes consultation, discussion, yea, argumenation, and the like. Again, St. Benedict, in Chapter 3 of his Rule, says that "as often as anything important is to be done in the monastery, the abbot shall call the whole community together," explain the issue, and get the community's adivce and counsel. But ultimately it comes down to prayer and fasting and shutting up long enough to let the risen Jesus speak to us by the Holy Spirit and make His will known.
And yes, that's anything but "practical," in the way we adrenalin-junky, "gotta do something right now!" North Americans define practical. It's hard work; it takes a lot more time than a fast majority-wins vote; it requires real dialogue and it requires shutting up and actually listening honestly, openly and humbly to other people; it requires the humility to acknowledge that my thoughts may well not be in accord with the mind of Christ; it requires faith to trust that God will guide and direct His people when they're humble, repentant, and genuinely seeking Him and His will with all their heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
Does that require a major paradigm shift? Yup...and not just on the part of the Bishops, either. If one or more of them need to wrap their heads around the fact that while they may dress like the Emperor Justinian they have no Scriptural or patristic right or mandate to rule like a Byzantine despot, the rest of us need to wrap our heads around the fact that, Scripturally, "democracy" strictly defined has no place in the Body of Christ. Neither of those options is consonant with either the sovereign Lordship and Headship of Jesus Christ or the Christ Who "came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for the many" (Mark 10:45).
It is rather, I submit, only through genuinely Scriptural conciliarity that, as St. Ignatius the God-bearer says to the Ephesians (4) we can make of ourselves "a choir, so that with one voice and one mind, taking the key note of God, [we] may sing in unison with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father, and He may hear you and recognise you, in your good works, as members of His Son."
Igumen Philip (Speranza)
#3 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-01-18 07:42
As an aside I have read that the role of the deacon in the early church was as the eyes, ears, mouth, heart and soul of the bishop. They had a ministry of love and justice as they helped and advised the bishops in order to see that love and justice was administered. As deacons (and deaconesses, I might add) they were also teachers to catechumens and taught the Gospel at times, as well as helping to serve at liturgies. Deacons also in fact ministered *as Christ Himself*.
Are our deacons fulfilling their roles to help the bishops in these ways today? Or have their *eyes, ears, mouth, heart and souls been stifled by some errant view of Orthodox ecclesiology? Could this have some bearing on the injustices and abuses in our Church today?
#3.1 Karen Jermyn on 2008-01-18 13:04
To what degree deacons function to the full potential of their ministry varies wildly from diocese to diocese and parish to parish. I suspect that in North America especially, deacons have been relatively few and far between; so presbyters have gotten used to "taking up the slack." Consider, for example, how some presbyters (like me, to name one) are so used to serving the Liturgy without a deacon that we get quite befuddled when we serve as the liturgical books assume we will and should: with a deacon exercising his liturgical ministry.
More to the point, the "social service" ministry of a parish or diocese is, scripturally, a diaconal function and responsibility (cf. Acts 6:1ff). It was that ministry which originated the diaconal role as the bishop's eyes and ears, keeping the bishop "in the loop," as we say, about the needs of people in the diocese. Historically, the diocesan "steward" required by the Canons (a combination of treasurer, comptroller, and asset manager) was a deacon. And as you say, the deacons and deaconesses had a catechetical role, although most catechists were not deacons.
In short, the proper role of the deacon is far more than being a nice bass voice to intone the "Many Years." And the loss or dimunition of any ministry in the Church leaves the Body the poorer for it. As for weird ecclesiologies, inevitably they distort the life of the Body. But to what extent (if any) this contributes to our current woes, I haven't the foggiest, not being conversant with what's in the heads and hearts of any of the major players. All I know for sure is that we're sick and need a healing that only Christ Himself can give.
Igumen Philip (Speranza)
#3.1.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-01-18 15:29
Thank you for your reply Igumen Philip. It seems to me you are implying that having deacons serving as treasurers, comptrollers and the like would be a more Scripturally and historically based approach to fair, just and loving stewardship of the Church than presbyters who have come to *take up the slack*. Of course, the deacons must not be in romantic relationships with the bishops. For would that not be really *conflict of interest*?
I wonder then would deacons in this day and age of complicated financial and tax laws have to undergo special financial training for their social service ministry as the eyes, ears... of the bishop. Some think no ordained person should be treasurer, but I think an ordained person is a good idea, just perhaps not a priest who might just be usurping the role of the deacon, which would not be pleasing to the Holy Spirit.
Maybe more deacons should be sought out, taught and ordained in the Church?
Also if the the role of the deacon having been diminished has impoverished the Church, does that not also apply to the role of deaconesses?
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2008-01-19 09:13
Dear Igumen Philip,
I had a different take than yours; I thought Father John used "democratic" as a corrective to +Benjamin's accusation that +Job's governing style is democratic.
You are of course correct to a great extent. However, the question remains: how do we organize the Orthodox Church in accordance with, in your words, "genuinely Scriptural conciliarity"? As I made the point earlier on another thread, the imperial, monarchical or despotic style of governance is a radical departure from the Gospel, and the organization of the pre-Imperial Church, whether or not the Gospel is interpreted through and by the Church. What seems to have happened is a post facto justification of this radical change along the lines of:
Premise: We are the real Christian Church, unchanged from the beginning
Premise: We ground our theology, liturgical practice and organizational principles in the Holy Tradition, which not only includes the Holy Scriptures but also the various decisions of the Holy Church has made through the ages as the Holy Spirit has guided the various Councils, local Synods, and canonical and liturgical practices.
Premise: The Holy Tradition tells us that the episcopal model is the only one valid model.
Premise: Under the episcopal organizational model, the Holy Synod is the ultimate authority on matters of theology and ecclesiology.
Conclusion: Anyone who disagrees is using "democratic," "presbyterian or congregationalist"principles that are totally alien to true Christianity.
This line of reasoning is remarkably similar to the way the Roman Catholic Church has invented new church dogma. You can see above how the authority of the Holy Scriptures is first subsumed under Holy Tradition; is further pushed away from their centrality by saying that Holy Tradition is a living thing, guided as it is by the work of the Holy Spirit; and finally, it is completely pushed aside to make room for the centrality or supremacy of the Holy Synod.
Sure, the bishops pray that the Holy Spirit guides them. Notwithstanding the fact that all of us do the very same thing, it seems that their understanding of Holy Tradition accepts only that the Holy Spirit answers their prayers and blesses their decisions, and no one else's. And why is this?
It certainly is not because Orthodox theology has been so warped out of shape that it allows for such views. It seem to me that it is simply because their ecclesiology is divorced from Orthodox Christian theology, which based on and lives within our Holy Tradition, of which the Holy Scriptures are the overwhelmingly prescriptive components. However, they cannot see this because they live in a tautology: They are right because (a) they are guided by the Holy Tradition and by the Holy Spirit and (b) they alone can determine the truth and validity of (a).
With all due respect,
#3.2 Carl on 2008-01-18 15:57
Well said Fr. John.
To your critics: I am amazed at how tirelessly the Byzantine-ophiles in our midst work to maintain their stranglehold on leadership. Having a "position for life" is such an alluring concept for academic types with little or no leadership skill. Give it up, men, before you destroy the very thing you are trying so desperately to control. Look at yourself in the mirror and honestly assess your ability to lead. If you have no ability, then please, for God's sake, step aside. The monarchical promise of tenure, life-long position, emperor-for-life are a relics of medieval times. Those times are gone. Trying to recreate them is a fruitless cause. The Holy Spirt is more dynamic than that. The more you try and hang on to these fantasies, the more neurotic you become.
#3.3 Anon. on 2008-01-18 16:02
I don't think that "tenure" and "life-long" position are categorically evil. It all depends on the individual person. There is much criticism of our heirarchs and a lot of complaining. I don't know many bishops personally, really only one, but it would help some of us to sympathize with you if these criticism were followed by a list of shortcomings and deficiencies, the kind of list many have written against MH.
At the top of the list I'm sure is a complaint tied up with the scandel. Fine, I'll grant you that one. What else? How, from the time they were consecrated, until now, have they failed to be good shepherds of their flocks? How have they neglected or abused their flocks? How have they frittered away their time or burried their talents? What fruits have they produced, or failed to produce? And finally, examples of lack of love for their flock.
Can anyone out their answer those questions? I think, also, it would be more credible, if you respond to my request, that you actually know the bishop or are at least in his diocese. Please, if you don't know the bishop, don't muddy the waters with emotionally charged, baseless accussation and vague generalities. We, I, want concrete facts and dates. If no one is able to do that, I'll still hold out hope for the OCA. If you are able to convince me that our bishops are the devils in sheeps clothings, godless men, tools of Satan many claim them to be, then...then....we'll see.
Oh, and one more thing. I came accross the life elder Philotheos Zervakos the other day. Towards the end of his life he was in great distress over the schism in the Greek Church after the changing of the calendar. In his distress he cried out to God. And once, in his cries, these words came to him: "Crooked paths are sent to a crooked people." In all our efforts to cast blame on some one or some people, no one of our brave leaders have been so brave as to call on all of us to repent. They just stroke our innocent heads and tell us we're all right and its only the bishops that are evil, complacent, sinful and in need of repentance and tears. The deep and painful repentance on the part of the people is a message that needs to be preached, just as loudly as the message being preached to the heirarchs. They are not the only ones who have burried their talents, we have lost sight of the Gospel, we have lost sight of love! We have lost sight of hope. We, the laity, have also contributed to the decline in the church!
Crooked paths are sent to a crooked people.
#3.3.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-01-18 21:14
Well, once I'm guilty of stealing from charitable donations, denying the faithful the Body and Blood of Christ on a whim and installing a convicted sex offender in the lower order of the clergy, I'll make sure to mention that in confession. The things I am guilty of are well known to several priests and one aging monk. Although it may appear that I disagree with you, I do think you're on to something, and I know that I, at least, have a lot of spiritual work to do. Repentance is everybody's daily business. Still...it sounds to me as if you're getting close to blaming the victim. What elevated vantage point gives you the position to accuse the faithful of being a crooked people? The faithful who have been misled and abused by various and sundry hierarchs have been told for years to not meddle in the affairs of bishops. Voices have been raised to that effect on this very site. It seems hard to accuse the faithful of being crooked when the true crooks have been running the hierarchical store, and have done their considerable best to ensure that the faithful are kept as far away from the power seat as can be. We are all sinners. Nobody denies that. Yet I have not ever seen anybody on this site "...stroke our innocent heads and tell us that we're all right and it's only the bishops that are evil, complacent, sinful and in need of repentance and tears." I have seen many bewidered and anguished people struggling with a set of most difficult issues. Cut them a little slack.
#18.104.22.168 Scott Walker on 2008-01-19 14:42
Your reaction is a very Christian one, as it should be. You are trying to be open-minded and give people that you do not know the benefit of the doubt. I have tried to do that for several decades. In the end I have concluded that I was laboring in a whited sepulchre. I do know a number of these bishops. They have let us down, individually and as a group. Not one is blameless. Bishop Job, thankfully, appears to be the only ray of light in that otherwise dark place call "The Holy Synod". I am compelled to put "Holy" in quotes because there has been nothing holy about their behavior and leadership.
By the way, these people are notorious for living like profligate princes, yet calling the people to repentance. Too many Christmas and Pascha greetings have been read from our pulpits that are full of flowery language and pious-sounding words, including exhortations to forgive and repent. These people do not live what they write. That is the definition of a hypocrite. It is for this reason that I no longer believe in life-long tenure. It is unhealthy to give that kind of power to any human being. In such circumstances there is no ability to hold such individuals accountable. When leaders sin, they must be held accountable. Fear of losing one's job for bad performance is a powerful motivator.
Our Lord, speaking of false prophets, said, "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 7:16-17).
What good fruit has the Holy Synod produced? One may not know what is in someone's heart, but Christ calls all of us to judge based upon the fruit produced by the behavior of another. This is the way we prevent ourselves and our Church from being led astray.
To your request for examples, this site is full of specific examples for which you have asked. I suggest that you start from the beginning and follow this scandal chronologically. I will give you just one telling example. With all these meetings the Synod has had during this crisis, why are we still crying out for action? In fact, it is worse than this, these Church princes have obstructed the process and worked mightily to send the scapegoat, Bob Kondratick, like the sacrificial lamb, into the wilderness. RK is guilty, to be sure, but so is every bishop and staffer at Syosset, not to mention every recipient of the stolen funds. They are all complicit. Thankfully Bishop Job's conscience was not seared and he repented. How much more detail do you need?
You rightly point out that they are following crooked paths that will only lead to the OCA's destruction unless things truly holy are done soon.
#22.214.171.124 Anon. on 2008-01-20 09:41
Thankyou anon. I have read from the begining and like your self, the vast majority of the complaints against most of the bishops have been general feelings of displeasure, but not any concrete examples, with the exceptions of +Nicolai and +MH. I'm particularly interested in knowing hearing the misdeeds of my own bishop, whom I will leave un-named lest my post be denied the light of day. I have known him for many years and have known people who have known him for many years and have nothing but gratitude and love towards him. In all the parishes I have visited in our diocese, I sense the great love the clergy and laity have for him. So, you see, that's why I find it hard to reconcile my experience, and that of my brothers and sisters from all over our diocese, country and even the globe, with the "white washed tombs" you speak of. It simply doesn't compute.
I want to understand your position and your feelings of disgust, but I can't. My bishop is a warm, loving, caring and strong man. He leads us by his example, not Lording over us like a task master. He's not Job or Seraphim, and he doesn't have to be. He is just himself, and that's why we love him. I'm sorry, I can't, and won't, take that stone you're handing me.
As for Mr. Walker, so let me get this right, correct me if I'm wrong, you think this whole thing is the bishops' fault and that our sinfulness has nothing to do with it? Did all the supposed culperates just rise out of a hole in the ground, directly from hell. No. They came from among us. They were "nourished" in our parishes, they were educated in the monastic way of life in our monasteries, they came from among us. Fruits are only as healthy as the tree is. I'm not saying this specific mess is the peoples fault. They didn't missuse Church funds or unjustly excommunicate their brethren. Those who committed those particular crimes will have to one day give an account.
As for my "elevated vantage point", like you, I'm just pointing out the obvious. As you, yourself, said: We're all sinners, no one is denying that. Elder Joseph the Hesychast at the end of his life was still asking for more time to repent even further. Its not just "one of those things" we do every day, but the sum total of all those things.
Elder Porphyrious tells that we must pray for the whole world, and that when we pray The Prayer we should use the first person: Have mercy on me. In doing so we identify ourselves with the whole world and realize that our sins our tied up in the sins of others, and that their sins are intermingled with our sins and that our salvation is tied up to the salvation of the world. So, yes, MHs sins are my sins, +Nicolai's sins are my sins, RSK's sins are my sins, etc, etc., etc. Hence, our need for even more repentance. Lets admonish our bishops to repent, but lets not forget that we must repent in like manner.
#126.96.36.199.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-01-20 21:17
They were "nourished" in our parishes, they were educated in the monastic way of life in our monasteries, they came from among us.
Yes, they came from among us, but, as far as I know, only one of our bishops was ever a monk educated in our monasteries - Bp. Tikhon of EPA was a monk at St. Tikhon's Monastery.
#188.8.131.52.1.1 Name withheld on 2008-01-21 07:29
My point, exactly. We have not monasteries. My question is, Why? What is it about the OCA culture that has so devalued monasticism? The lack of monasteries says a something about us, does it not?
#184.108.40.206.1.1.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-01-22 09:17
You say and I paraphrase Let's admonish our bishops to repent, but let us also not forget to repent...for we are also guilty of their sins as well as our own , in fact guilty for the sins of the whole world.
I agree with this statement in so far as I must identify myself with anyone and everyone's sins, for I am capable of the same sins (unlike Christ who identiified with us in our sinfulness, but was Himself not a sinner), but for me to confess and repent for them is not my primary repsonsibilty, rather I must be the catalyst, the admonisher, the exhorter, and secondarily then, uphold the sinner and forgive, searching my own heart, acknowledging my own sinfulness.
True love is not blind; it means saying your sorry and forgiving.
The Bible tells us whenever we see someone in sin, we must admonish them to repent. That goes for everyone. But, to whom much is given, much is expected. The Good Book tells me that the Good Shepherd LEADS me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. Is not confession and repentance also the mark of true righteousness and has God not provided us leadership in this righteousness?
It is the leader (the bishop who exemplars Christ) who leads the Church, even in repentance, for not only his own sins but also for the sins of his sheep, for he sees the Body is one and takes the initiative as leader. I do not think it can be otherwise in a hierarchal system. And whenever it is the bishop who has *missed the mark*, he is called to lead in righteousness. It is then that the sheep will follow and identify with him in his confession and repentance: the sheep will uphold him, search their own hearts, and forgiveness will flow to all from the Holy Spirit. This too is the meaning of the unified Body of Christ. It is the leader who must lead in every act of righteousness, even in confession and repentance. Please correct me if I am wrong.
I am trying to understand and not to see all these calls for repentance of the laity as a case of further victimizing the victims or as a case of religious manipulation for the benefit of those with power, authority or influence.
#220.127.116.11.1.2 Karen Jermyn on 2008-01-21 08:49
I've been following the news here since pretty much the beginning, and overwhelming message is, at least as in my opinion: if we get rid of the current administration the OCA will be saved, as if that is all that is ailing us. Stating that we are sinful and in need of repentence is not shifting the blame, but putting this whole mess in context. Lets stop being helpless victims and take responsiblity for our own contribution to not only this mess, but the quagmire the world finds itself in. Let us weep bitterly not only for our leaders who have failed us, but also for the way we have failed the world. Let us stand boldly before the Creator and fervently ask for mercy, for ourselves and our bishops. When we start repenting the way we expect the bishops to repent, then we might have reason to rejoice. It matters little who wears the white hat, if we are not a people of genuine, painful repentance. Its not enough to simply "get it".
#18.104.22.168.1.2.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-01-21 14:18
No, I did not say that the whole thing is the bishop's fault. I think that most of the bishops are not culpable in this sorry business, except for the undeniable fact that they have steadfastly refused to open up the damned windows and let some light in. And then they turned on the only one of them who seems to understand that with power comes responsibility. I have written my bishop, Benjamin, and expressed my disappointment with the Holy Synod. I have not yet heard back from him, but that's okay. I think that he has done a terrific job as far as setting a better tone and being accessible and kind. (Huge improvement over Tikhon the Unstable!) I still have hope that he will surprise me and lay all the cards on the table when the New and Improved commisssion reports. I fear, though, that I am being optimistic to the point of folly in so hoping. Yes, our sins, my sins affect the whole world. I get that. Still, "It is inevitable that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom they come."
#22.214.171.124.1.3 Scott Walker on 2008-01-21 10:49
Did you write Bishop Benjamin by email or by snail-mail? I've emailed him twice, in mid-December, and again earlier this month, at the email address provided on the diocese website. I have received no response. At this point, I no longer expect to get one.
Nor do I expect him to provide any real information to the Church when the investigation he is charged with concludes. While he is certainly a charming man, I am coming to the conclusion that he, like the other bishops, does not believe that the thoughts, concerns, and needs of the laos are of any real significance.
I hope I'm wrong.
#126.96.36.199.1.3.1 Josephine on 2008-01-21 14:15
It was an email, sent over a week ago. No reply, which happens to also be the title of a pretty good early Beatles song
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Scott Walker on 2008-01-21 15:21
No Josephine, you are not wrong.
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Raisa on 2008-01-24 13:20
Your bishop, whomever he is, has to be complicit in his silence. There can be no other conclusion. How can he participate in meetings of the Synod and remain silent in the midst of this unfolding tragedy? This is the incongruity. Righteousness and truth demand that he speak up. If he is so holy, why is he silent? His silence is a tragedy in itself. Given the facts that have been wrested from their grasp and finally made public, his silence, in hindsight, is a travesty... or incompetence. Either way, not good.
I concur with your sentiments regarding the silence of the laity. The laity let this happen in its lethargy. That said, when one is appointed as a leader of men and women, one must hold oneself to a higher standard of ethics and conduct. That is why this discussion must focus on the apparent total breakdown of morality within our leadership. Does this also reflect a corruption in the laity also? Probably. Much soul-searching is required.
#22.214.171.124.1.4 Anon. on 2008-01-21 16:58
For the last time, keep your stones. You may disagree with the way he has handled his response to the matter, mainly because you know very little about what he has actually done, and that is pardonable. Can you say with 100% certainty he has not called on MH to resign or step down for the good of the Church? Can you? You assume that because he has not said anything over cyberspace or an ecyclical that he is "silent". I can live with myself and love my bishop without hesitation or guilt because I know he is doing much, though it goes unseen, to help our Church move forward.
#126.96.36.199.1.4.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-01-21 21:01
Firstly, I encourage you to assess why it comforts you to assume I have taken up stones to throw at the bishops... your bishop. I have never had such stones. My desire is for real leadership from those that we have honored with our trust. That trust has been betrayed. Where was your bishop as millions of dollars were drained from our coffers? That is a fact. If the facts are stones, then I am guilty as charged. My demand is now for straight talk. Secondly, the oblique references to supposed action are interesting, and I hope you are right, but we deserve better. If your bishop has called for MH to resign, then make it known. Let us be done with all this secretive and obscure behavior. Again, the time has come for straight talk, most especially from our bishops.
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Anon. on 2008-01-22 18:00
Thank you for your very thoughtful posting. Now, can you explain to the rest of us how the bishops and Met. of the OCA are living this? Have you seen any of them, except Abp. Job, who has demonstrated this in his diocese, let alone the Central Administration?
#3.4 A priest of the Midwest on 2008-01-18 17:33
Firstly, it is not for me to explain the Bishops or anyone else for that matter. I have no particular or special insight into anybody's mind and heart, least of all my own. I'm afraid that after 61 years of living and 35 years of priesthood, I'm still stuck with St. Paul in Romans 7, lamenting that I don't understand my own sins and stupidities.
However, one observation: you're all on the wrong side of the 49th Parallel. Archbishop Seraphim works very hard at making this archdiocese at least try to operate in a genuinely conciliar manner. It doesn't always work; and sometimes as persons, parishes and a diocese, we fail spectacularly. But we're working on it. In part this is due, I think to His Eminence's personality and to his formation in the Canadian ethos of politeness (because being a Byzantine despot always involves being rude). And in part it may have to do with the fact that this is the largest territorial diocese on the planet, and micro-management simply wouldn't work.
In larger part, however, I think it is because His Eminence studied at St. Vladimir's in the days of Fr. Schmemann, saw the rightness of what he was taught, and seeks to live it and implement it...sometimes in spite of his clergy and laity, who---impatient with problems and/or problem people---want the boss to kick butt (someone else's, of course), come down like the proverbial metric tonne of bricks, and generally rule with an iron fist. Sometimes, I'm sure, he must be tempted to do exactly that; after all, he has Viking blood in his veins. But thus far God's grace has preserved him from falling into that temptation.
As for understanding and explaining the workings of the Holy Synod and/or the Central Administration, since I have no direct personal experience of either, that is utterly beyond me. And if it's all the same to y'all, I'd like to keep it that way.
#3.4.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-01-19 04:56
Thank you, once again! It seems that we do have two bishops in the OCA who attempt to be conciliar and both of whom are loved by their flocks.
It is also interesting that +Seraphim was definitely the first choice of the delegates to the AAC for Metropolitan. It is a shame that their choice was overridden by the Holy Synod. One can only guess what went on in the hidden chambers of the Holy Synod that led to this disastrous outcome.
#220.127.116.11 A priest of the Midwest on 2008-01-19 12:03
The elections or Herman was decided before anyone ever stepped off the plane in Orlando. People close to Syosset had said in the weeks leading up that Herman "will" be Metropolitan (no question). It's sad and pathetic the way this synod operates.
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-19 14:31
Dear Igumen Philip,
With all due respect, sir, you missed the point, and you may have confused the issue.
Father John presented the historical evidence for the democratic governance of congregations within the early church. At no point did Father John argue that there was a lack of Christian theology, philosophy, and methodology within early congregations following the democratic model.
Further, we all take the points you raise as given, but we don't have to get too ethereal about it. As an example, at the annual meeting of Father John's congregation in Ottawa, when it's time for the approval of the agenda, I doubt whether those present spend much time waiting for the Holy Spirit to provide clear guidance on the issue; and I also doubt whether it's much different in Edmonton.
#3.5 Mark Warns, Poulsbo, Washington on 2008-01-19 20:07
I'm wondering if the following two changes to the OCA Statute have ever been considered and might they make a difference in the relationship between the local parish and the Synod: Change the Statute to require that names of nominees for episcopal vacancies (including auxilliary bishops) must be sought from the laity and clergy of the diocese' parishes. I have heard that people are asked for names in some dioceses (the nominees wouldn't necessarily have to be from that diocese) but not in others. Perhaps good candidates are being overlooked when the names submitted just come from the bishop or his inner circle. Secondly, what difference might it make if the process for the election of the Metropolitan is revised so that the AAC has 3 opportunities to come to a 3/4 majority before the voting for two names which are then decided upon by the Holy Synod. Just a thought.
#4 Diane P on 2008-01-18 08:44
Please read the Statute of the OCA and you will discover that names from the diocese are presented to the Holy Synod. The Synod does hve the final say, but in recent history they have never overruled the names sent forth to them. If a Herman tried to manipulate an election by stacking the deck with his own boys, I think in this current climate he would be exposed for the crude heavy-handed and little man he is.
#4.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-18 17:54
Diane: You presented the perfect opportunity for me to include some interesting information from the 2002 AAC. What follows is the 2nd vote for Metropolitan:
Bishop SERAPHIM 473
Archbishop HERMAN 223
Bishop JOB 151
Bishop NIKOLAI 107
Archbishop NATHANIEL 94
Archbishop DMITRI 73
Bishop NIKON 18
Bishop TIKHON 16
Archbishop KYRILL 12
Archbishop PETER 5
Bishop BASIL (Essey) 32
Fr. Alexander (Golitzin) 19
Fr. Michael Dahulich 15
Metropolitan PHILIP 8
Fr. Irinej (Dobrijevich) 5
Archimandrite Tikhon 5
Fr. Vladimir (Wendling) 3
Fr. Basil Carpenter 3
Archbishop DEMETRIOS 2
Fr. David Brum 2
Fr. Eugene Tarris 2
Bishop DIMITRIOS 2
Fr. Basil Summer 2
Fr. Christopher (Calin) 1
Fr. James (Paffhausen) 1
Bishop NICHOLAS 1
Fr. Dennis Pihach 1
Hierodeacon Yakov 1
Dr. Albert Rossi 1
Fr. Ireney (Rochon) 1
A total of 1278 nominations were cast.
Besides some very interesting names for which ballots were cast (including 2 Antiochian bishops, and a layman), I found it very interesting that double the people voted in the evening session that voted in the afternoon session, and the total votes cast were far more (at least from the minutes) than were registered as delegates to the AAC! Could someone that attended this AAC shed some light on this?
Also, a resolution regarding the ownership of parish property was adopted by the 2002 AAC; in the intervening 3 years, the intended amendment to the Statute was apparently just forgotten (or else people realized the implications of such a change in the Statute).
#4.2 Michael Strelka on 2008-01-19 08:44
On a second round ballot council members have to write TWO names on the ballot paper (OCA Statute, Article 4, Section 4d)
#4.2.1 Archimandrite Kyril Jenner on 2008-01-19 11:55
Edwin Judge's thesis requires perspective and scrutiny before being waved as a banner. The "republican" nature of ancient Greco-Roman civilization was hardly democratic in the contemporary sense. How much say did women, slaves, non-landowners and foreigners in Athens have? Was the Senate in Rome really on par with the Emperor? Judge's thesis just might be reading contemporary democratic notions back into history.
It might be more enlightening to study how Greco-Roman family structure, with the "paterfamilias" at its head, might have informed the organization and life of the early Church, with its bishops, presbyters, deacons and laity.
Furthermore, the laity of the early Church and the laity of today's Church were quite different. Then, laity were formed by at least a three-year catechumenate and only those willing to die for Jesus Christ joined the Church, for there was a very real chance of being imprisoned or killed for being a Christian. Can we honestly say that our laity today are so well-formed and committed, for the most part? If we want to return to some imagined or reconstructed ethos of "the early Church," are we also willing to confess our sins in public and stand in the narthex asking forgiveness for months or even years, abiding by the strict pentitential code and practice by which the early Church abided?
#5 Gregory Orloff on 2008-01-18 08:56
Excellent reflection from Fr. Jillions.
And because I don't know where else to mention this, I'll put it here: The latest issue of The Orthodox Church is the first one I personally can -ever- remember in which not one single headline begins "Metropolitan Herman......" Hardly any pictures of him in the issue, either. Has somebody in Syosset at least finally figured out that M.H. is something of a liability?
#6 Valentine on 2008-01-18 14:07
For what it's worth; you should see issues of "Alive In Christ" (the Dioc. of East. PA magazine) from when Met Herman was Bishop of that diocese. There is virtually no page with photos that does not include (at least ! ) one photo of him.
#6.1 anon on 2008-01-18 20:59
The "Balance of Power" concept was always present in the Church. The bishops were to administrate, but not without the laos' approval nor against them. Certainly not in secret sessions. This is why the Union of Florence didn't work. It was rejected by the laos in Russia and later by the laos in Constantinople. The bishops cannot rule unto themselves. They are the "servants" of the faithful and when they forget that, we have the mess we have now.
#7 Prof. on 2008-01-19 14:41
Mount Athos is, and has traditionally always been, a republic.
Its oldest surviving, though perhaps not absolutely oldest,
constitution, the Tragus or "Billy-Goat", is dated 972. It was
draughted by St. Euthymius (whose feast I believe is today),
and bears the signatures of the leading monks of the time
along with that of the Emperor John Tzimisces. Subsequent
constitutions were ratified in 1045, 1406, 1783, 1810, 1912,
The present Athonite Typicon provides for a bipartate system
rather than the tripartate one of the US Constitution. Legislative
functions belong to the Holy Assembly, composed of the
abbots of the twenty ruling Houses. This meets twice a year in
the capital village of Caryes. Each monastery also has a
representative in Caryes year round; he is elected for
a one year term by the monks of his monastery and sits on the
Holy Community, an administrative body handling the republic's
Higher-level executive and judicial functions are exercised by
the Holy Authority, a committee of four monks. Each year the
Authority is drawn from a different "tetrad" or group of four
monasteries, rotating through all the tetrads over the course of
five years. The President is the member of the Authority coming
from the House with greatest traditional seniority, but his role
is quite limited: no single man today can be called
the chief of state for Mount Athos. (Some say that the role of
chief of state is in fact permanently occupied by a woman, the
The Church is, after all, a Republic as well as a Kingdom, the
City-State of God, *ho tou Theou polis ho hagios". The
instruments of secular republicanism are no less iconic than
those of royalty. If the Christian Empire was an earthly ikon of
the Divine Hierarchy, of God and His Angels, the Christian
Republic is an ikon of the Apostolic Community. St. John Chrysostom wrote [Hom. in Matt. I, 10ff]:
>Plato composed `The Republic` ... and hath framed laws ...
>A `Republic` did these fishermen too write for us ...
>This republic is at war not with men, but with devils, and those
>incorporeal powers... Since then the aforesaid republic is both >the subject on which this book was written, and it is now >proposed for us to speak thereof, let us give careful heed to >Matthew, discoursing plainly concerning this: for what he saith is >not his own, but all Christ's, who hath made the laws of this >republic. Let us give heed, I say, that we may be capable of >enrolment therein, and of shining forth among those that have >already become citizens thereof ...
Of course Plato's Republic was not a democracy, and perhaps
"commonwealth" would be a better translation. However I think the
Norman Hugh Redington
St. Pachomius Library
Although I am posting in the most current thread this is really a reply to Chris Banescu's latest message in the thread before this one - on the Kondratick documents.
I found a number of things he said revealing, startling or both.
1. "Worse still you are a disinterested observer." This is not entirely true, of course, since I am an Orthodox Christian and in a number of ways the OCA and Antiochian church's efforts are intertwined. But I think we know what Chris meant, and that part is true: I am not OCA, not in the thick of it.
Why is this worse? In law the old saying "The attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client" is meant to convey that having disinterested, objective, detached counsel is so clearly a good ideathat it is foolish to do otherwise.
It is only worse, I think, if Chris believes I should be in the thick of it, in the trenches so to speak. But wouldn't he or others criticize me for interference if I got that far in? As it is I try hard not to be condemning of others, een those who seem to be dead wrong, but rather to make a point here and there from the sidelines - or maybe the bleachers - that might not be on other people's radar screens.
2. Chris points out that I "refuse to call wrong" the things that so many other people are calling wrong. That is true. How many "Amens" and ditto marks are needed? If I did I think it would tend to land me in the thick and compromise whatever benefit my "disinterest" can provide.
3. Chris opines that I "defend the status quo and criticize the messengers who are standing up" to the administration. To the extent that I defend anything here, I plead guilty to speaking in defense of traditional Orthodox polity, which I interpret to be (in my own words) 'when all has been said and done a bishop has the final say over the clergy and property within his jurisdiction.'
The reult is that when bad people occupy the office, or when good but bungling people do so, or some combination of the above, bad things will happen. I do not pretend or intend to justify it or defend it.
And what if I do sometimes criticize the "messengers," such as Chris himself? He and the others are not infallible or above criticism, and I hope that he will come to see that this is not intended to operate as a) invalidation of all that he does or b) a blessing on those he criticizes. Chris and the other critics of the status quo have a hard job to do, and should be encouraged to do it well.
There is a funny story in our family that may help make this point with me as the butt of the joke. We were staying on vacation in a 4th floor apartment with a spiral staircase and a tiny elevator with folding doors that went up and down the center of the spiral. My younger son was playing around the doors and when they closed on his arm he cried loudly for help. Of course dad ran to the rescue, but in his excitement pushed the folding doors the wrong way, further pinching the poor kid's arm.
The moral of the story, at least in our clan, is that when an excited person rides to the rescue he (and the victim!!) had better look out, because if he is not careful in his excitement he can make things worse. Sort of like George Bush responding to the World Trade Center attack by invading Iraq? Based on my own checkered career as a rescuer, then, I try to suggest that some of the ideas for response - like civil litigation, are liable to do more harm than good and not even achieve their stated purposes.
4. I disagree categorically with the following statement from Chris: "When the courts stepped into the Catholic mess it was because the bishops refused to clean up their own house." Of course the bishops hadn't cleaned things up, but that was not the why of court intervention. The courts were not presuming to clean up Catholic polity or force the bishops to refund money they had spent differently than their parishioners wanted. They stepped in because clergy had committed wrongs against certain individuals under civil law (sexual abuse) that gave rise to financial liability. Not a single bishop was removed by the courts for malfeasance or forced to reallocate or restore funds.
5. Chris asks, rhetorically perhaps, "Where do you think your defense of Syosset inaction is bringing us?" I reply first that I am not a defender of Syosset inaction. I am a critic of the ideas that a) Orthodox polity ought to change because of this scandal and b) civil litigation is a good way to fix this mess.
Haing denied that I am defending Syosset I obviously think that I am not bringing "us" anywhere. I hope I am giving some people a good reason to doubt the usefulness of a change of ecclesiology and to doubt the value of civil litigation as a tool of correction.
I lost count of how often clients came in over the years with some variation of the desire to use a lawsuit to "teach the bad guys a lesson" Before I learned what a bad idea it was and how seldom, if ever, it accomplished anything good, I sometimes went along. In the end I learned not to, because the "bad guys" never learned and the effort to teach them was so expensive and damaging in its own way independent of thw wrongs we were supposedly redressing.
God bless all who struggle to bring about beneficial changes in the OCA and maintain order and unity while doing so. I do not have any easy answers.
#9 Fr. Feorge Washburn on 2008-01-20 15:38
What change in polity are you referring to? Historically the laity has always had a voice, even though the Church has never been democratic in the modern sense. Historically there are a number of different ways that the laity has raised its voice. In the most extreme cases, there was blood on the floor in Hagia Sophia before tempers cooled. In other cases people took their case to the Emperor, and "God's Vice-Regent on Earth" had ways of correcting abuses. The Emperor's methods sometimes included parading abusive bishops around the hippodrome while the angry mob hurled insults and garbage at the accused. No democracy, no due process there.
I do not write to defend those extreme cases -- only to point out that in our history the laity was much more vocal than it is now. The laity did not accept the notion that it is always best to leave everything to the bishops, and to quietly endure abuse, corruption and heresy from the highest levels of the Church. Everyone had an opinion, and people were passionate about the Church, sometimes to the point fo excess.
Regarding civil litigation -- as a fellow member of the bar I agree that litigation can easily get out of control, particularly when litigants abandon their principles, and when "winning" becomes more important than the truth. However, there are procedures under the New York statute that stop short of full scale litigation, and that are designed to allow churches to put their officers under oath to give an accounting of whether they have breached their fiduciary obligations. I believe that procedures that remain narrowly focused on giving an accounting and testifying about the truth are a proper alternative when other methods have failed. Who can argue that telling the truth and giving an accounting for Church funds entrusted to one's care are somehow contrary to the Gospel?
#9.1 Robert Wachter on 2008-01-21 12:04
While I have my doubts about the "democratic" nature of the early Church, clearly governance by one or more tyrants is not what our Lord and His Apostles had in mind. Reflecting on the Holy Scriptures and what history of the early Church I am familiar with, the family model of governance seems to be closer to the reality. A God fearing husband and father is no tyrant.
#10 Marc Trolinger on 2008-01-20 16:26
I certainly am not about to debate democratic or autocratic rule, or what concilarity means. I'm not sharp enough on church history to compete with most of you guys.
I just get out my ruler.
The OCA needs to measure itself on those things that Christ would want us to be measured on and if the governance works, then great.
Measurement would not be on financial performance, although ultimately the wise use of resources should lead to good results.
Measurement would be on how many people are in the flock and getting preached the Word by qualified priests, for a couple examples.
Today, the OCA parishes can't even be honest about membership, which means the bishops aren't either.
Membership counts are manipulated by priests to gain respect of bishops and membership counts are manipulated by councils to reduce the costs of the head tax. The church has made money its performance standard!@!!!@@!#$#@, if I could curse here it'd be appropriate God help me. Money is the performance standard? Christ can't like this, if you believe in what he taught.
If the church wants to truly measure its performance, then stop calling for the head tax and ask the churches to provide 5-15% of their budgeted general fund contributions as the assessment and to fully report its members based upon whether the people are members or not, are involved in parish life and taking Communion. This sinner understands that measure well.
Two sets of books you say?
Bull kaka. Everybody is already doing this trying to determine the numbers. It is the first great lie of Orthodoxy and when you really start to learn about it, you start to come to appreciate the bs involved in our religion and how money implies success.
Truly good corporate governance operates on budgets in order to meet goals of performance. For the OCA, this hasn't been measured since autocephaly in any earnest fashion.
Ask Fr. Paul Kucynda who took a clear shot in the dark at it on a loan application and proceeded to get unceasing c>>p for it. There isn't one priest or Bishop who can tell me the right number and whether we are up or drastically down over the last 20 years.
Ask Job, who in his last letter put about 3 numbers out there that were surely all too high.
If you can't measure your performance or don't think you need to, you aren't governed at all.
By my standard, the OCA is simply not governed by any measurable means other than money, nor does the Holy Synod wish for itself to be measured or held to any standard of performance other than money.
When the OCA is down to 10,000 members in 25 years, maybe one of you younger guys will listen to my concerns.
So to Herman, Job, Seraphim, Benjamin, Nikolai and the rest, if you read this and want to leave a new legacy through the mess, if you ask me, start to measure performance of the OCA accurately and with trembling before God by reaping the harvest fairly and sowing the seeds well. And stop measuring your success with the dollar bill.
And for those attending the 2008 AAC, make it happen. Abolish the money standard in people counting.
My two cents, no intention to offend any of the discussion on how, it is truly beyond me.
If God would punish us for using money as a standard, perhaps he is now.
#11 Daniel E Fall on 2008-01-20 23:50
Daniel, you said:
"So to Herman, Job, Seraphim, Benjamin, Nikolai and the rest, if you read this and want to leave a new legacy through the mess, if you ask me, start to measure performance of the OCA accurately and with trembling before God by reaping the harvest fairly and sowing the seeds well. And stop measuring your success with the dollar bill."
The Archdiocese of Canada doesn't 'fudge the books', and I'd be very surprised if +Job's diocese wasn't accurately reporting statistics. So there's two Archbishops you can take off your list as being responsible, accurate, and trembling before God ...sadly, they're not a majority!
#11.1 Larissa on 2008-01-21 14:14
I was expressly referring to two of Abp. Job's parishes closest to me. None of the churches function correctly anywhere and I'll take a guess Canada is no better. They all try to manage and make a determination on the assessments. They all try to determine their "membership" on the wherewithall to pay concept.
People that pay $80 bucks a year to the church aren't "full dues paying members".
However, they might receive Communion, which means they are a member of Christ's Holy church, but not the OCA.
The churches are forced into this bull kaka.
What I want to see is a halt to the churches paying a head tax and I'd like to see the churches report their general fund contributions and a percentage that is equal to the prior year at a minimum. Churches that have the wherewithall can pay a higher percentage than those with mortgages, for example.
This will result in no change to the budgeted amounts for the Dioceses, but it will allow the Dioceses to accurately report members in Christ Holy church and it will effectively stop the churches from measuring performance on the dollar bill.
It will get the priests to work on making sure people are going to Communion which will be the standard they are measured by.
It would tell the Bishops when some parishes weren't really contributing correctly.
So, before you toot any horn for "we don't do that here". Tell me how many churches collect 80 bucks from a member, and don't call them a dues paying member, or tell me how many people take Communion versus how many contribute to the OCAs 2.7 million dollar measurement.
Communion, Larissa, should only have a cost related to our souls, and not the cash in our pockets.
Until this is changed, and until the churches measure themselves on members taking Communion, I will have little respect for any hierarchy.
Dues paying member, but somewhat weakly in 2007.
#11.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-01-21 21:12
You guess wrong about Canadian parishes, because we send no assessments (or appeals funds, for that matter) to Syosset whatsoever.
It is flatly contrary to Canadian law to send money across the border except for specific goods received and/or specific services rendered; and there had better be perfectly valid invoices to prove the goods were received and/or actual services rendered, or the Crown withdraws charitable registration (tax exemption).
In this archdiocese the goal (on which, admittedly, we're still working) is that each parish tithes to the archdiocese. The archdiocese then sets aside a certain percentage (I've never bothered to find out what percentage, exactly) to be expended on OCA-related activities. For example: all the money set aside in Canada at the time for the OCA was spent on the 2005 All-American Council.
At the parish level, some parishes still have a dues system; the dues varies from parish to parish. Others (especially the newer parishes) simply encourage tithing and ask members to make a concrete commitment to donate $X for the year.
So before you talk about Canada, get this, get it clear, and get it this one last time: we may look like you, and we may talk like you, but we are not you. This is a different country, with a different ethos and different practices, a different value-system, a different mind-set, and very different laws. Knowing that and factoring it in might acutally make your comments relevant to our reality.
#22.214.171.124 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-01-22 06:59
There shoud be only one ethos, one practice, one value-system and one mind-set in the Church. It is selfless love and it should totally transcend in practice any ethoi, practices, value-systems or mind-sets of any state. Your statement about the Canadian ethos, etc. sounds devoid of love to me, and a bit prideful as well.
P.S. I love Canadians and there health system is much better than ours, I think. The students who come from Canada to our Seminary in my time here have always been intelligent, admirable. I am not anti-Canada or its bishop.
#126.96.36.199.1 Karen Jermyn on 2008-01-23 07:46
There is no reason why the Canadian style can't be practised elsewhere. My note is not intended to be a slam on any Diocese, but rather a generalization, about the way money is used to gauge membership. Since Larissa commented incorrectly about Abp. Job's parishes and the difficulties they face in gauging this number, if you read my comments, I took a guess at whether Canada does things any differently, and although I genuinely enjoy your postings on this site, I'd believe you that Canada was different if you backed it up with how many people in the AoC are taking Communion.
If you don't know, I'll stand by my words that our governance has no measurement other than money.
I'd enjoy getting corrected.
#188.8.131.52.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-01-23 13:07
Studies on the early church and its structure abound. One that is particularly discerning has just appeared in translation in English for the first time: Fr. Nioclas Afanasiev's The Church of the Holy Spirit. Fr. Nicolas was a professor at St Serge in Paris till his deathe in 1966, Fr Schmemann was a junior colleague and protegee.
Fr NA is rightly credited by scholars across the churches for having rediscovered the "eucharistic ecclesiology" of the first several centuries of the church's history. "The chuch makes the Eucharist, the Eucharist makes the church" is an oft used summary of this. While Fr NA had misgivings about the "representative princinple" of laity and clergy at councils of the church, he nevertheless recognized the worth of this--a reform of the great Moscow Council of 1917-18, that tried to return a concilar shape to the ecclesiology of Orthodox churches. There is a direct line from the OCA statute--much ignored in recent years by primates, chancellors, the synod and central administration--and the Moscow Council and St. Tikhon of North America & Moscow. At Mayfield PA one hundred years ago St Tikhon convened a council comprised not just of the bishops but of clergy and laity from all the parishes and monastics too. When attacks on "democratic" or "presbyterian" or "congregation" tendencies are made, this wonderful legacy of saints and church members meeting together is ignored or discarded.
The history of the church is marked by diverse forms of "polity." Suffice it to say, the presumption of one, single "traditional Orthodox polity" is ignorant of this. As is the claim that absolute and uncontestable power by the bishops alone. As Fr Afanasiev and the very words of say, a Cyrpian of Carthage make clear, the earliest bishops were anything but despots. They were chosen from the community by the members of that community, not solely by other bishops. They were set apart to serve the community. Their authority came from their consecration to service as did their presidency at the Eucharist. They not preached the word, they fed the flock. They were responsible, as so many texts and lives of holy bishops attest, for the care of widows, orphans, the sick, dying and the poor. The establishment of the Basilade by Basil the Great in Caesarea in Cappodocia--a muliservice center with a church, hospital, soup kitchen, clothing pantry, homeless shelter, hospice & school--is an incarnation of the bishop's role in the church.
Clearly, there is need for episcopal renewal today.
#12 Fr. Michael Plekon on 2008-01-21 07:45
I very much liked your comments here. To me, you effectively cut through the bs pretty effectively! I hope you will be at the AAC to tell the bishops and council in person.
#13 Patty Schellbach on 2008-01-21 08:37
"We deserve better"...Wow!. I'm quite sure you would reel back in horror, rather, bend your knees (and I say this with all sincereity) more than you do now, if it was revealed to you what "we deserve". That doesn't mean that we shouldn't hold our bishops to a higher standard. It just means, we better be careful what we wish for, we might just get what we deserve, and we might not like it.
Trust, it gives me no pleasure or comfort, at all. But, rather, great sadness, for a person to make grave and absolute condemnations when that person does not know the full story.
As for my bishop, he has made it known, to his people; his flock.
#14 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-01-23 07:46
Whether you wish to acknowledge it or not, your bishop is a participant in a "Holy Synod" with responsibilities to the whole OCA, not just to his diocese and you. Therefore, he is responsible and accountable to us all. Let him start behaving so.
#14.1 Anon. on 2008-01-23 21:32
tragically, I don't believe members of the Synod feel this way...
#14.1.1 daniel e. fall on 2008-01-24 11:07
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