Friday, August 15. 2008
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My friend Fr. Matthew Cantrell and his parish are on the right track with everything requested--even exploring the issue of married bishops. Yes, I am aware of canon law, but it seems like a fair question to investigate further. Why should the OCA consider interviewing candidates from foreign countries when there are great candidates here, who may not be monastics? As an interesting aside, as far as I know (and correct me if I'm wrong) the ONLY jurisidction that requires that its head bishop be American born is the Carpatho-Rusyn Archdiocese. The OCA doesn't require this. It's a side note, and I don't want to make too much of it, but really, now is the time to talk about all these things, even if things stay the same.
#1 Fr. Oliver Herbel on 2008-08-15 16:21
The resolutions (and proposed modifications) as given are difficult for me to follow, but it seems that the issue at state in Fr Matthew's resolution is the precise list of qualifications given by St Paul. The OCA already allows non-monastics to be nominated, although they must be tonsured as rassophores before ordination (Statute VI.9.c is confusing. Is it understood that the tonsure would be received immediately following the nomination, or that it would be received subsequent to the nomination but prior to the ordination?)
In many ways, what would be interesting to know is which of our hierarchs have taken the vows of the lesser schema (stavrophore). His Beatitude's biography mentions a tonsuring, but doesn't mention the degree. Bishops Tikhon (of Eastern PA) and Benjamin have received the lesser schema. None of the other diocesan bishops have biographies (or make mention of it in the biography that's at oca.org). Further, how many of our non-widowed hierarchs have lived in a monastery under the obedience of an abbot and spiritual father for a significant length of time?
#1.1 Fr Basil Biberdorf on 2008-08-15 18:33
Let's get real! The idea that most bishops in the West are monastics is silly. Monasticism does not have strong roots in North America and neither should strict monastics be the main consideration for the episcopate. Marriage is NOT an impediment for the episcopacy in the Orthodox Church. The Tradition of the Orthodox Church is to have both, married bishops and monastics. So, what happened? The married bishops, according to Byzantine/Roman law owned the church(s) property. This was passed on to their progeny. Many children just sold the property. Monasteries were where the libraries were. Most monastics were well-read, educated and well-versed in the services. So you see, monastics were chosen as bishops for expediency. Today, neither of these reasons are applicable and RETURNING to the married episcopate is a wise and proper choice.
#1.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-18 07:54
On the contrary, all of this talk about married bishops is ridiculous and needs to stop. If there is a lack of candidates for the episcopacy than this just further goes to show just how deep of a pit the OCA has dug itself into. (How many of our bishops are monastics anyway? And I am talking true monks. Not just a haircut before their consecration. 2? Maybe 3? The fact that our bishops are not true monks is one of the reasons we are in this mess. Put a mitre on a celibate priest climbing his way up the ecclesial ladder and you get exactly what we have right now.) There are reasons why the Orthodox Church no longer has married bishops. I, personally, would rather see the OCA implode in on itself than become a bigger laughing stock than it already is to an Orthodox world that barely recognizes our existance in the first place. Such a decision (married bishops) would cut us off from communion with the orther Churches. I am not going to say anymore about this, cause this is one of those things we should have all learned about when we were catechised. Orthodoxy 101, people. If this is indeed the direction the OCA is going in, then I can no longer be a part of this Church.
#1.2 OCA Seminarian on 2008-08-15 22:39
The anonymous seminarian mentions there were good reasons for not having married bishops. And, he is correct, at that time, there were. At that time, people died at about half our present age and everybody knew at least two or three men whose wives died young, usually in childbirth. Do you remember scenes in the older movies where the doctor comes out of a pregnant mom's bedroom shaking his head and telling the family to say goodbye to her? There is a reason you don't see that scene in modern movies -- nearly no woman dies in childbirth anymore.
Now we see the OCA in its present mess, the GOA and others in the same mess but with more money to make it look better on the surface only, and the comparitively huger problems with pedophile clergy in the Vatican church.
Does anybody seriously think that had there been many previously or presently married bishops a pedophile priest would have been simply transferred to another parish? Not one chance.
More than that, the reason parish clergy lack the deep respect it takes to move the church forward is that they are seen to submit themselves to those superiors whose decision making and spiritual inpspirational ability lacks, not exceeds, their own. Where the only qualification for high office appears to merely to simply not have been married to a woman. More and more evidently it appears many of them were never attracted to women in the first place and as such did not sacrifice marraige when seeking their office.
I do not mean to add to the burdens of those who struggle with sexual dynamics. However I think everyone agrees that such a struggle is not properly the prerequisite to being a bishop. Certainly if God had wanted his bishops to be all drawn from the ranks of those ordained young and never married He would have mentioned it.
The times have changed, the reasons for limiting the bishops to those not presently married no longer are the most important reasons for the future of the church. We need to ordain senior married 'empty nester' clergy to the episocpacy or face dwindlement, and not just the OCA but the whole church in any land where there are many choices confronting a Christian and ethnicity is not the reason for Orthodox participation.
#1.2.1 Harry Coin on 2008-08-18 07:34
Harry Coin wrote, "Does anybody seriously think that had there been many previously or presently married bishops a pedophile priest would have been simply transferred to another parish? Not one chance."
Sorry, Harry, but I don't agree. Pedophiles can be found among the married, as well as the unmarried.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
You'll notice I'm sure my point was that had a preponderance of the bishops been those who themselves were actually fathers of children their attitude toward clergy who are attracted to boys (most clergy pedophiles have targeted boys) would never accept to move them to another parish after having molested previously.
I do not mean to say the married are perfect, only that, quite evidently, the idea of limiting the episcopal ranks to 'not presently married' historically has defacto been replaced with 'never married' due to improvements in women's health during the last century.
Either we adapt to that by being able to change rules of discipline to suit the present historical circumstance -- or websites like Pokrov will soon have less and less to report only because the church will be getting so small there won't be so many left to write about.
I think we'd both agree we would like the church to grow in such a way that Pokrov would have less to repot.
#188.8.131.52.1 Harry Coin on 2008-08-19 12:03
While I would truly be glad to see the church grow in a way that would give Pokrov less to report, I do not share your optimism that opening the episcopate to married men would radically change the way abusive priests are handled. Even among those who would never harm a child there seems to be a dangerous tendency to give tearful expressions of repentance a higher priority than the protection of innocents.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
As the son of a protestant pastor who sat on many tribunals that defrocked many married men for sexual sins, including incest and child sex abuse, I can only, sadly, agree with Melanie. Sinners are sinners, married or single.
#184.108.40.206.1.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-21 23:37
Nice Harry! One other factor people are forgetting or don't know. Where did all the celibate monastics come from? In many cases, monasteries were the orphanages for young boys. Parents killed in wars, epidemics, etc. the young orphan boys were sent to the monasteries to live, learn and clean. Growing up there, if they showed promise, they were chosen as candidates for bishops. Purely expedient.
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2008-08-19 09:26
This is why you are a "seminarian;" you need to learn what the Tradition of the Orthodox Church is. The married episcopate is part of Orthodox Tradition. The choosing of monastics as bishops was purely expedient and the reason no longer exist. Marriage is NOT an impediment in Orthodoxy for the episcopate. And, it is ridiculous to think or assume that celibates/monastics are on a higher spiritual plane than married people. Monastics are supposed to strive toward this goal, but most monastics who do achieve this, would have nothing to do with becoming a bishop.
#1.2.2 Anonymous on 2008-08-18 08:06
I know you said that this is all you are going to say on this subject, but perhaps you would offer a solution to the problem.
IMHO, a saintly married bishop would be preferable to an bad unmarried one.
#1.2.3 Michael Strelka on 2008-08-18 08:38
Im curious on a few fronts.
Isn't the debate (re married OCA bishops) merely academic, in that it would take an ecumenical council to go back to the apostolic practice of married bishops? Or no?
If it doesn't require an EC do make such a change, and the change could be made by a local Church, then isn't concern about being a laughing stock among others -- even other Orthodox -- not to be a factor in weighing such a decision? Shouldn't the question be "Is this right to do?" --- without regard to politics?
There WERE reasons the Orthodox Church changed the practice from having married bishops -- but do those reasons continue to exist? (I don't know, btw, I'm just asking, because as it was written, the argument based purely on "thats the way we've always done it" sounds hollow ... form over substance, etc etc)
Absent being an act of apostasy (allowing married bishops, that is) would you **really** leave a local, canonical Church so you wouldn't be laughed at by other Orthodox with whom your OCA would be in communion? Really? (You don't need to answer, of course, but its an obvious question to me.) Maybe it is a good reason ... I don't know. I'm motivated to leave the OCA for other reasons, but still haven't Maybe won't ever. But, darn it it feels like such an attractive option sometimes.
#1.2.4 Anonymous on 2008-08-18 11:14
Well, the good seminarian, if his advice is followed, has just shut off all discussion on this matter. It would be interesting to see how he (she?!) will manage parish life in the future.
If, for one, do not believe that the will of the Lord for His Church is best determined by NON-discussion. Is truth so fragile?
#1.2.5 Rdr. T. John on 2008-08-18 11:27
Thank you,OCA Seminarian,from one who was an OCA Seminarian,and is now an aging priest.The married bishop experiment was tried in the early years following the Russian Revolution with the so-called "Living Church" in Soviet Russia and its Ukrainian equivalent headed by married "Metropolitan" Vasyl Lipkiwsky(both of these churches were at that time supported by the Soviets;the latter group is not to be confused with legitimate Ukrainian Orthodox parishes established in the diaspora under Constantinople).Yes, the ancient church had married bishops,the ancient church gave laity the Body of Christin the hand,the ancient church also served the Liturgy of St. James the Brother of the Lord which can only be served properly with at least two clerics,i.e.,a deacon or priest assisting the celebrant.If we followed every practice of the ancient church,many people would be cut off from the mysteries for 5,7, 10,or more years,also ordination of ANYONE as priest under age 30 is against the Canons,as one who was ordained far too early at age 24,I sincerely wish that Orthodox churches everywhere would return to this practice.Would all those who favor married bishops as a "cure-all" also favor having the long St.James Liturgy every Sunday,when nowadays people complain that the conventional St. John Chrysostom Liturgy is too long(even with pews to sit in)not to mention Matins in the morning as a preparation for Liturgy or as part of a Vigil combined with Vespers the night before?Good Luck and God's Blessing in your studies,may you succed in enlightening the flock where old fools like myself have failed.
#1.2.6 Anonymous on 2008-08-18 13:14
I sure hope that you have more substantive reasons for your strong dislike of non-monastic bishops than the three reasons you put in your posting. To make sure that I am being fair, allow me to repeat them:
1. You don't like the idea.
2. There are good reasons for opposing the idea: It is Orthodoxy 101.
3. You think that the rest of Orthodoxy will ridicule the idea.
By the way, if it happens even after your considered position, you will collect your marbles and not play with the OCA anymore.
Before you go any further, dear Seminarian, would you do yourself a favor and research this issue beyond your feelings, suspicions and Orthodoxy 101? I, for one, am looking forward for your arguments. Thanks,
#1.2.7 Carl on 2008-08-18 14:56
For starters I would just like to say that for the longest time the OCA had a married bishop, Robert Kondratick, and you can see where that got us. On a more serious note, it is not entirely correct to say that the married episcopacy is part of our Tradition. It was the practice at one time, but no longer is. And yes, it would take a decision of the entire Orthodox Church (which also exists outside of America) to revert back to that practice. The married episcopacy is as much a part of our Tradition as female deacons and having coffee hour (agape meal) before liturgy, which at one time was just how it was done. As for the rest I am not getting into it. I should not have to argue about this stuff with other Orthodox Christians. Some things should be a given.
#18.104.22.168 OCA Seminarian on 2008-08-20 11:41
Thank you for your reply. Allow me to also advance my argument in a serious fashion.
I recently heard Metropolitan Philip classify the Canons as eternally applicable (those dealing with Christology, for example); situational (Canon 48 of the Council of Trullus, for example) and canons that no longer apply (the canon that prohibited Christians from bathing with Jews). What I get from this distinction is similar to the distinction between Tradition and tradition.
You alluded to married episcopacy as an ancient practice, a tradition with a small t. I would submit that it is the other way around, for two reasons: First, I will argue that the Trullan Canon XII is one of those situational ones. Second, I will try to make an appeal to Apostolic authority in refuting the logic of Canon XII.
Sources are Saint Paul's prescription for a Bishop; the Fifth Apostolic Canon and the Trullan Canon XII.
CANON XII. Moreover this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offence to the people. Since, therefore, it is our particular care that all filings tend to the good of file flock placed in our harris and committed to us,--it has seemed good that henceforth nothing of the kind shall in any way occur. And we say this, not to abolish and overthrow what things were established of old by Apostolic authority, but as caring for the health of the people and their advance to better things, and lest the ecclesiastical state should suffer any reproach. For the divine Apostle says: "Do all to the glory of God, give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Greeks, nor to the Church of God, even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Be ye imitators of me even as I also am of Christ." But if any shall have been observed to do such a thing, let him be deposed.
Fifth Apostolic Canon: Let not a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, put away his wife under pretence of religion; but if he put her away, let him be excommunicated; and if he persists, let him be deposed.
1 Timothy 3: 1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,[a] he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)
First, Canon XII is clearly situational, a tradition with a small t (albeit of a longer duration than the Apostolic injunction that it violated). This is clear from the plain meaning of the text. To paraphrase it, it says that due to circumstances, the apostolic practice will be suspended.
Second, Canon XII is clearly in opposition to the Apostolic authority to which it pays lip service. It is very clear in all three sources that married people were afforded the opportunity to be bishops. Saint Paul's epistle even talks about the bishop's children (the tacit assumption is that these children came about in the usual way). The Fifth Apostolic canon actually prohibits disruption of the marital state (and relations). Apparently, after the establishment of the Imperial Church, many bishops ceased to have marital relations with their wives, so that Canon XII actually commends the married bishops, not only to be celibate, but also to have their wives domiciled elsewhere, in other words, to divorce them or to put them away.
As Canon XII is contrary to both Holy Scripture and Apostolic Canons, it is a mystery why it was adopted in the 7th Century and remained a continuing suspension of normal practice. There is a clue in the text of the Canon itself: " lest the ecclesiastical state should suffer any reproach." I don't know how to interpret this except to note that every religion has placed celibacy at an exalted position so that the distance between the profane and the divine, and the laity and the clergy are increased.
In any case, Canon XII and the Trullan Council was generally accepted by the Eastern Churches but not by the Roman Church. Thus, it cannot be considered to be an Ecumenical Council. Since the Church was still united at that point, this Canon is clearly a rule of a local or, in this case, regional group of local churches. It was self-admittedly situational and contrary to Apostolic authority. Any local church today is authorized by the Holy Canons to lift Canon XII's suspension of normal practice. Whether it is diplomatic to do so is another question. In any case, I am unable to find scriptural, theological or canonical references to possible ridicule by the other Orthodox churches. Neither, can I find Orthodoxy 101 in the Holy Scriptures or Canons.
However, as I said before, I am open to correction and persuasion. Respectfully,
#22.214.171.124.1 Carl on 2008-08-20 20:11
YES*YES*YES to e*v*e*r*y single point outlined in Fr. Thomas Hopko's suggestions for the AAC!
#2 Michael Gregory on 2008-08-15 16:33
I looked up HOPKO in the OED.
The term is defined with one entry only: 1.) Brilliant, showing expertise in Church matters dealing with problems and hierarchy on an advanced level. Has no equal.
#3 no name on 2008-08-15 16:52
There you have it, from Fr. Tom Hopko, himself:
"1. Metropolitan Herman immediately announces his resignation as primate as of the opening of the AAC in November, 2008. The first act of the AAC is to elect a new Metropolitan."
The entire OCA knows Fr. Tom and if he is suggesting a resignation, I don't think many will doubt its wisdom.
I think that the joint session in September along with the release of the SIC report, will allow +Herman to do just this: resign, if not at the September meeting, then by way of letter to the faithful before the AAC.
The straw that will break the camel's back should be the SIC report, as well as those present to articulate their sorrows at what should be a historic meeting. The momentum of the SIC report along with 40 to 50 disgruntled people should help create the catalyst movement towards a more integral and honest OCA.
One person cannot take all the blame for such a dysfunctional administration, and the head administrator should be one of the ones that has needed to go all along.
#4 Patty Schellbach on 2008-08-15 18:00
SORRY PATTY THE MET IS NOT RESIGNING! I HOPE THAT BURNS YOU AND OTHERS UP INSIDE! YOUR GOSSIP WITH NO FACTS HAS GONE TO FAR! GET OVER IT! WHY IS BISHOP JOB CONFESSING HIS SINS ON THIS WEBSITE? SHOULDN'T THAT BE DONE IN CHURCH? OR IS THIS WEBSITE HIS CHURCH?
#4.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-21 13:05
Dear ALL CAPS,
Quoting you, "GOSSIP WITH NO FACTS..." This is either a painfully ignorant statement, or intentional obfuscation. The facts abound. Take a look at the ADM reports to the government. Multiple millions went straight to FRK, Theodosius, and many recipients of the stolen funds. You either have your head in the sand, or you know the facts are plentiful and are simply trying to fool the unsuspecting. Either way, suggest you hang up your ALL CAP keyboard and pray for enlightenment that only God can give you.
#4.1.1 Anon. on 2008-08-21 18:42
As an afterthought, I am sorry if I am overestimating how many may be at the September meeting. It is not intentional; it may be 30 some people, not necessarily 40-50 people. It is difficult for me to know if vacancies in the MC have not been filled; many blanks remain on the oca.org website. Also, we should have a few more bishops but this is not the case right now with some bishops also serving as locum tenans of other diocese.
#5 Patty Schellbach on 2008-08-15 18:14
I, too, concur that all of Fr Thomas Hopko's proposed resolutions and guidelines should be adopted and carried out, beginning with the upcoming AAC in Pittsburgh.
I also concur with the suggestion of looking outside the monastic communities for viable candidates for the episcopacy. There are many single, celibate men, with seminary educations, who could be considered. Many have served the Church for years in various capacities (parish leaders, educators, choir directors, etc.). Not all bishops taken from the ranks of the "monastics" are truly monastic. +Herman is a prime example. His usual modus operandi at a Vigil service is to leave halfway through Matins *to go eat dinner*!!! Is this "monastic" behavior? Is this behavior expected of one called to a life of prayer *and fasting*??
I have one other caveat that should be required of prospective bishops: ALL candidates should have completed a Master of Divinity degree from one of our seminaries!!! Would anyone in the Church, including the current crop of bishops, put their physical health in the hands of someone who did not have the education, training, and experience that comes from an accredited medical school? Then, why would anyone put their spiritual health in the hands of someone who was lacking a theological education? Haven't the past few years of this scandal convinced us it is time to stop consecrating clerical "quacks"? A seminary education, which includes not only theological but also pastoral training, is essential for those who are to lead our Church in the 21st century!!
#6 David Barrett on 2008-08-15 18:44
Many thanks, Mark, for the recap and the insightful commentary. Bishop Tikhon's (et al.) "revisions" would be laughable if the OCA weren't within an inch of it's life. Who do they think they're protecting? Certainly not the best interests of the faithful. Forgive me, Your Grace, but there will be no "firewalls" at the great and awesome judgment!
While the resolutions as originally presented were powerful in their intent and effect, there are several other proposals I would hope come from some of our parishes:
1. That the Metropolitan be compensated by the Diocese over which he presides and NOT by the Central Church Administration.
2. That the Metropolitan reside in the Diocese over which he presides.
3. That the candidates for bishops be graduates of an accredited seminary and, preferably, hold a Doctorate in Theology.
4. That, when the current Synod gathers, they engage the services of a theologian of the Church whose academic discipline is in ecclesiology and the canons of the Church to advise them in their deliberations.
5. That monks in the Church actually live in monastic communities and that monks "whose monastery is the world" be fully formed in a monastery before they receive such a blessing from their abbot.
I'm with you except for the whole idea that a bishop has to have a PhD. I understand your reasons why, but a PhD. will not automatically make someone a good administrator and it sure as heck won't make them kind, loving, and caring shepards, either. More than anything else a bishop should be holy, and this is one of the most overlooked reasons as to why it is we are to choose our bishops from among the monks. Some of the greatest theologians of the 20th century (let alone the entire history of the Church) had no education at all. Elder Porphyrios comes to mind, who was snuck onto the Holy Mountain before he was even a teenager. Anyone who reads "Wounded by Love" is dumbfounded by the fact that this man never even graduated grade school. No amount of education can compare with that which comes from truly knowing God. That there are not enough men like this to meet our needs for the episcopacy is another matter.
#7.1 OCA Seminarian on 2008-08-18 13:03
And some other of our greatest 20th century theologians were married
#7.1.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-08-19 04:48
Fr. Thomas Hopko's suggestions are very wise and I hope they become a guiding force in organizing the AAC and, as they pertain to the next 3 years, are embodied in resolutions.
On the one hand, the last three years have been marked by horrendous delay and deliberate slowing down of the process of confronting and being honest about the mess. On the other hand, we're in much too much of a hurry to do things [like reassess the Statute, or reorganize the administration] that can only be done properly with care and caution once we've come to terms with the past.
Whether to protect themselves from consequences or whether out of personal discomfort with unpleasant topics, our leaders have been very anxious to "move on" without giving careful and due consideration to what we are moving on from.
Let Met Herman resign.
Let the AAC be dedicated to honestly plumbing the depths of what has happened.
Let the next three years be caretaker years from an administrative perspective, and let the hard work of figuring out structural solutions and reconnecting to our vision take place within that caretaker framework.
#8 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-08-16 03:38
"How well I remember discussions not so long ago about the need for new leadership in the Church. While wondering aloud what might be good for the Church in this country, I was told, “Fr Joe, the fix is in.” This “overview” of our churchly situation came from an Orthodox theologian greatly respected and admired. I was… well, shocked.
How can we be surprised by what has happened? We know, don’t we, that building on any other foundation than God will become visible and “the Day will disclose it” (1 Cor. 3: 13). The Day has come and our work has been disclosed. Now, having been chastised by God, we must work together to do the will of Jesus in the Spirit. I cannot think of any other recent guidance than that of Fr Tom Hopko that might be more in keeping with the great Tradition, prayer, Scripture and worship of Orthodox Christianity. We are God’s field; let us work as “master builders.” This is an opportunity to be of the same mind and purpose (1 Cor 1:10).
This may be our hour. This may be our time to witness to God. In the Bible the Church is a type of creation renewed, as a Bride for the Lord, and as the city that unites heaven and earth. What better service to the people of God and to her bishops than to strive to be true to what will surely come? For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God (Romans 8:19). What a wonderful and fearful moment: Perhaps this is our time."
Fr Joe Woodill
#9 Fr Joseph Woodill on 2008-08-16 05:01
I very much like the proposed comprehensive plan presented by Fr. Thomas Hopko; it's long-term with specific goals and sets deadlines. I especially agree with point 4 that allows diocesan elected presbyters and/or deacons to "accompany" their ruling hierarch to (and presumably to participate in) synodal meetings, an idea somewhat reminiscent of one I proposed months ago about expanding the membership of the synod with senior presbyters to allow for more innovative and realistic thinking and action.
Although I would favor a return to the discipline of having married bishops, it ain't goin' happen! So, for a more dynamic synod, we need a mechanism to include our more astute presbyters and deacons. And because of the way Fr. Thomas couches his proposal (with the word "accompany"), it's doable. I do believe, however, the some of the guidelines or requirements that I had offered earlier, such as minimum years of pastoral experience, election by diocesan assembly, not a member of the MC, etc., ought to apply.
Terry C. Peet
#10 Terry C. Peet on 2008-08-16 07:32
"...the Resolutions Committee has the responsibility of assigning when the resolutions proposed will be taken to the floor --an important decision in a Council of just 2.5 days duration."
An important decision indeed. Resolutions don't have to be voted on right away, and even discussion of resolutions doesn't have to be early on the agenda, BUT resolutions should be presented in the opening day --early in the agenda-- of the ANAC, and the floor should be opened to receive resolutions on the opening day. To wait until the last day of the council is to belittle the importance of the resolutions, and to give opportunity to misunderstanding of them, and to disallow sufficient consideration/discussion, and to increase the likelihood of their defeat.
Fr Mark Hodges
God bless Fr. Thomas Hopko for trying again to get the Synod, the MC, and the entire OCA to do the right thing. His recommendations are practical and address many of the problems (especially ecclesiastical and spiritual ones) that have lead to this crisis.
I am very afraid that his suggestions and comments will be ignored as his letter and exhortations to the Synod have been. If now, at the eleventh and a half our, at the edge of this cliff the OCA is precariously hanging over, the Synod does not listen to him and the dozens of other dedicated and courageous priests, then the OCA is really doomed. Nothing good will come out of this AAC. The squandering of the talents and the scattering of the sheep will continue.
How can we not be very hopeful about the future of the OCA when we consider the wisdom and vision of people like Fr. Thomas Hopko, among so many others. In what ever the future holds, God will bless the faithful in His Church as they strive to overcome and learn from the individual and collective sins that created the current scandal.
Those bishops of the OCA who continue to be an impediment to this collective wisdom and vision, and refuse to lead in overcoming the sins associated with the current scandal, must no longer be enabled to continue to harm God's Church. Because our priests and deacons are often limited in what they can do, the people will have to disenfranchise these deluded bishops by withholding financial resources and shunning them.
#13 Marc Trolinger on 2008-08-16 11:02
Re: Dr. Ford's interesting proposal for a merger with the Antiochians-- I don't know about the rest, but when I see the proposal for Archbishop Seraphim and our Canadian Archdiocese, I wonder if the proposed realigning of boundaries isn't a bit like working a Rubik's cube, without regard to the actual makeup of the people and geography involved.
"Archbishop Seraphim – Western Canada, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon (currently the Antiochian Archdiocese does not have a bishop for western Canada and Alaska); and appoint him as temporary administrator for Alaska."
I don't think you're going to get a single member of the OCA Canadian Archdiocese to agree to this. It is a Bad Idea. We are in a different country with different tax laws and cultures. The idea of a diocese bestriding an international boundary is ridiculous. I gather the Antiochians in eastern Canada have been living with that till now. It's time they got rid of that, and the Orthodox Church in Canada can begin to form a single entity-- first as an archdiocese of a combined OCA/AOCA, eventually as an independent Canadian Orthodox Church.
For a first step, let the Antiochian parishes in Canada join our Archdiocese. In due time we will divide into two or even more geographically smaller dioceses. Our Archdiocesan assembly in Saskatoon 2004 and then-bishop Seraphim had endorsed a worthy candidate to be his auxiliary bishop... only to have Met. Herman instantly veto that decision.
In fact, if we are serious about things, let Canada go. It would be better for them to align with other Orthodox Canadian Churches in a unified Church of Canada. And, in time, the same for Mexico. The Archdiocese of Canada does not financially support the OCA (through no fault of their own -that is a Revenue Canada law) so why not let them be the leaven to help bring one Orthodox Church in their beloved land?
Fussing around with the name of the AAC by imposing this silly ANAC tag points to a deeper issue. Canada is a sovereign nation and not a part of an Orthodox Church of America or in America.
As for a unified OCA and AOCA Church, I am all for it but not because the OCA is going through her time of purification, and given the appearance in the minds of some here that the AOCA has got its act totally together. It does not. Their present, so-called Self-Governing Church will not look the same after the Lord calls Metropolitan Philip home.
So if we do wish to walk the path of unity with the AOCA, it should be for the same reason we would walk it with the Greeks, Serbs, Romanians and any other ethnic church in America, for the sake of one Church in one land. For the sake of one bishop in one city.
#14.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-18 08:34
I don't know where else to put this, so I hope the editor will grant me some latitude here.
I have spent some time looking at embezzlement cases and statutes of limitations in New York. Reading these laws is never easy. It appears that embezzlement comes with a five year statute of limitations in New York. This may be giving Kondratick, Herman, and Theodosius, and those that partook of our goodness some relief. But there are two things I would appreciate a lawyer here to answer. First, if there is a continuing behavior of embezzlement then the statute starts ticking at the completion of the last act. So, if Kondratick and gang starting stealing back in the early 90’s, if the last act occurred in around, say, 2005, they can still be prosecuted for those early acts? Secondly, and the reading was difficult, but if there are acts of concealment the statute starts ticking as of the time that those that have been stolen from notice the act? So, in this case, since the summary report last year stated “theft” in 2007 do we still have slightly over four years to bring them to justice, or at least arraigned for the embezzlement that Fr. Tassos said plainly occurred?
#15 Anonymous on 2008-08-16 16:29
Bravo to Dr. Ford for his logical and sensible solution for merging the OCA and the Antiochians. A lot of people think that a merger is "too big" or "too hard" to be feasible. But really, it is as easy as, well, just doing it (like Nike says). What he suggests is perfectly logical, which may be why the bishops will never go for it. But hey, I'm open to being pleasantly suprised.
I would like to suggest that he clarify his statement that each parish is allowed to keep their own rite. It may assuage a lot of fears if each parish is allowed to make their rite-of-preference a subtitle of their name, i.e St John of Shanghai Orthodox Church (Byzantine Rite) or St John of Shanghai Orthodox Church (Slavic Rite). We would need all the bishops to be either "bi-ritual" or at least sensitive to the differences between the rites. Whatever the problems may be with the bishops putting their heads together to unite, on a popular level I've noticed that more than a few "Slavic rite" persons get really confused about this service called "Orthos" and more than a few "Byzantine rite" persons shake in fear at this thing called a "Vigil". Of course this leaves open other "rites" as well, such as St John of Shanghai Orthodox Church (Romanian Rite). Eventually, however, I expect that after the initial fear wears off most parishes will drop the "rite" name and we'll all end up creating a "fusion" of all the rites, taking the best of all to create something which works in America the best. But we need to be ultra-sensitive to how attached some people can be to "their" rite.
Personal story: I was once in a "American" OCA church holding a special service. The visiting Antiochian priest, who was ethnically Arab, was given the honor of reading the Gospel, which he did with great aplomb in the very best Byzantine style he could muster. An old sweet woman standing near me, who was ethnically Slavic, was completely shocked and obviously agape at the "noise" (her words to me afterwards). I tried my best to assure her that that was, in fact, how they read the Gospel. But she could not be dissuaded from her opinion that that was the "wrong" way to read the Gospel. A silly story, perhaps, but it's a real issue which need to be recognized and respected.
Also, I mentioned it before and I'll mention it again, I think it would be appropriate in such a situation to allow each parish to elect to have a small percentage of their assessment sent to a "mother" church as a gift. I'm not sure if the Antiochians currently send any money "home" to Damascus, but if they do, we can't just "respectfully" ask Damascus to allow the Antiochians to join us in our autocephaly and leave Damascus in financial problems. I realize that lots of rest of the world considers America to be nothing a cash cow, but that is largely because the rest of the world considers America to be nothing more than rich snobs who steal from the developing world and then won't share a penny. I'm not saying that the Patriarchs and bishops of the "mother" churches necessarily believe this, but this is a prevalent thought in many of their countries, they are going to be effected by it. The offer to "share" out of our goodwill would go a long ways to assuaging their fears that we don't just steal and run away, but that we still actually care about the "mother" churches. I know we all still "care", but that would be more believable if we put our money where our mouth is. If we take away the financial incentive the "mothers" have for keeping multiple jurisdictions here in America, and the "rite"-based one as well, I'd bet that the multiple jurisdictions will begin to disappear very quickly. Yes, we can be altruistic and stick to our old arguments about canons and so forth that there should be only one jurisdiction so everyone one should just leave and make sure the door doesn't hit them on the way out. But we can also "sacrifice" a bit of money for the sake of the canons, and make a single jurisdiction actually feasible in reality. And I'll take reality over the theoretical any day.
#16 Anonymous on 2008-08-16 19:43
OK, Mark, I'm going to be a nit here. Quoting from your page...
"RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY ST. STEPHEN'S CATHEDRAL PARISH COUNCIL, PHILADELPHIA ON MONDAY, JULY 21
We ask the All-American Council to consider a different way of funding the Diocesan and Central Administration that is based on income in the parishes rather than on the membership census."
The Resolutions Committee recommends the following: "We ask the All-American Council to consider a statutory revision which, in accordance with Orthodox ecclesiology, permits each diocese to determine for itself the best method of funding Diocesan and National Administrations."
It is not evident how St. Stephen's request for a study of income-based funding rather than a member-based funding system was "unclear, or theologically or canonical deficient" such that it became a request for something totally different. That is, a consideration of a statute revision (that wasn't presented in the required language for an amendment to the Statute, and therefore could not properly be presented to the upcoming AAC) that “permits every diocese to determine for itself the best method of funding”. Additionally, the precise method of funding has never been heretofore outlined in the Statute, which has reserved that power to the decision of the AACs.
The question though, is moot. The resolution did not pass.
Might be moot for them, but how about the rest of us? Could you explain further why the Resolutions Committee did not provide a correction that was 'in the correct language'?
Further, why in the world wouldn't it have passed? Are there too many churches that wouldn't want their Bishop calling for 10%? Any thoughts?
I'll be surprised if the AAC passes on thing submitted by Fr. Hopko because they won't get into resolution form and the Synod won't accept them, but it sure would be great if the Metropolitan was chosen every six years by whoever got the shorter straw and not the long one !!!!!!
#17 Anonymous on 2008-08-16 21:55
We can only pray that God’s will be done, but if there is a grass roots effort in the OCA prior to the AAC, we should have a combined proposal and resolution that should be a two part plan, supporting Fr Hopko’s proposal that would be the guiding plan for the short term, being from November 2008 until the next AAC in 2011, and a long term guiding plan based on the proposal of Dr. David Ford of St. Tikhon’s Seminary. This should have strong support from the two existing non unified Russian Churches. If the Moscow Patr, as well and H E Met. Hilarion can be included to guide this process, (as seems right from the Russian Church’s establishing the Church of America); this could be come a reality and a great opportunity for Orthodox unity in America, with the hope that God will guide the Bulgarian, Serbian and others to merge as well.
What greater good than this can the OCA and the HOLY SYNOD offer to the Glory of God for the Orthodox Church and Orthodox unity in North America!
Lord have mercy; let us pray for this great outcome.
#18 Constantin Ardeleanu on 2008-08-16 22:42
Fr. Thomas Hopko has proposed a sensible and moderate course of action for the OCA to follow as it attempts to recover from the disastrous leadership crisis of the past twenty years, and the last three in particular.
Two additional points:
1. Picking the Metropolitan by lot strikes me as a cop out at best, and should be used solely as a device to deal with our current crisis. Then again, if the Holy Spirit doesn't like the choices, maybe we will finally get a complete housecleaning.
2. A mandatory retirement age for diocesan bishops needs to be established--perhaps in the 70 to 75 age range. The exceptional competent bishop beyond this range only proves the rule--too old equals not up to the demands of the job.
#19 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-08-17 15:29
Not a cop out, just a way to get rid of ambition and pride in the process.
I mean, imagine if a fellow was in Seminary 30 years ago and told everyone it was his goal to become Metropolitan and then he did everything he could, including being complicit in firing an honest deacon and covering up the theft of millions, just so he could actually fulfill his ambitions. I mean, really... can you imagine such a thing?
Hopko has thought this through well. There is nothing wrong with a random choice in the context of what we keep seeing through history.
#19.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-08-18 21:13
Picking bishops etc. by lot is an old practice which has had its popularity go up and down over the years. I believe some of the Oriental Orthodox Churches still choose their Patriarch by lot. There is a special rite for such a service, which I suppose would need a lot of dusting off from an old Slavonic service book, but (to the best of my knowledge) such a rite does still exist and is considered perfectly legitimate. It's not a perfect solution, but at the moment I think it is a very good one.
#19.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-19 10:47
If we were dealing with "twelve good men and true" rather than a "a barrel of rotten apples" save one slightly bruised one, I would agree with you. I don't like the odds. A more imaginative solution is call for in this crisis.
#126.96.36.199 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-08-19 13:06
The revision of parish resolutions by the Diocesan Resolutions Committee in Eastern Pennsylvania is deeply disturbing. It indicates that some of our bishops are incapable of dealing with the real issues of trust and accountability confronting this Church, and continue with the Syosset pattern of manipulation, half truths, and scapegoating. Especially offensive is the change in the rather mild resolution, given our circumstances, of asking that the OCA leadership accept responsibility for the OCA woes. In its place a resolution was passed which states that the Diocese
"EXPRESSES ITS HOPE that the Holy Synod of Bishops, Clergy and Faithful accept their own proper responsibility for the O.C.A's woes, which are not limited to one man, but encompass the entire Church"
The scandal we face is the product of the leadership of this Church- its Metropolitan, its Chancellor, its officials in Syosset, and a complicit Synod. The Faithful were not part of the organized theft of charitable funds other than providing those funds and assuming they were used for the purposes intended. However, many of the faithful are
responsible for tolerating these crimes by not demanding
the resignation of those individuals who "led"
this Church during these years of theft and deception. Only in that sense would I agree to the culpability of the faithful.
I hope that other Dioceses follow the lead of Western Pennsylvania and Fr. Thomas Hopko with resolutions that are specific and call for both immediate action and long term structural change.
#20 david paynter on 2008-08-17 19:56
I want to express my belated but heart-felt thanks to Fr. Hopko for the intellectual and spiritual labor that went into writing his proposal, and for his servant leadership in posting it. I hope that his ideas will be thoughtfully considered.
There is no question that Metropolitan Herman should resign, and that he should make his decision to do so known to all as soon as possible so that a real and productive agenda can be established for the upcoming AAC. However, I would differ with Fr. Hopko's suggestion that the SIC report be delivered at the AAC (at least, this is what I interpret him to be recommending). I think the report must go out to all in the OCA well ahead of the AAC if that meeting is to accomplish anything other than choosing a new Metropolitan.
There will simply be too much information in the SIC for people to process at an AAC of such short duration (picture everyone huddled in corners trying to read the report while meeting facilitators are attempting to move an agenda forward). The members of the OCA need time to absorb that report, get past our initial reactions to it, and reach some sort of "dispassion" with respect to its contents before delegates can make any well-reasoned decisions at the AAC. Waiting until the Council begins in November to release the report would lead to a colossal waste of time at the AAC. If we’re going to put thousands of dollars into making this AAC happen, let’s make the time count by getting as much as possible accomplished ahead of time. The next three years do not necessarily need to be more “treading water” if we buckle down now to get our house in order. Releasing the SIC report ASAP will help in that effort.
I know that an anonymous poster to this site has already promised to publish the SIC report on OCANews at the same time it is being delivered to the joint meeting of the Synod and MC in September. I hope he/she will do so--if not during the presentation, then at least by that evening.
#21 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2008-08-19 15:03
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