Monday, November 3. 2008
Your thoughts on the candidacy of Bishop Hilarion, or anyone else, for that matter, are welcome. You people know these candidates. What do you think, pro and con, of them all? If we don't talk about this, how are we to cast prayerful and intelligent votes?
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The Wrong Hilarion
The news that certain members of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) want the Moscow Patriarchal Bishop Hilarion of Vienna to become their next Metropolitan is not altogether surprising. True,
this brilliant linguist, musician and scholar has begun to abandon his naïve views of the 1990s, as experience and reality bear fruit. Nevertheless, he still stands to the left of the Russian Orthodox
Without in any way denying the great talents of the youthful and pro-Catholic Bishop Hilarion, we would suggest that at the November turning-point in its short history, the OCA look elsewhere for a new Metropolitan.
First of all, it needs someone who understands not just English, but also the North American cultural mentality. Its Metropolitan should therefore be someone who was born in North America.
Secondly, since the OCA's canonicity has been rejected from the beginning by several Local Orthodox Churches, the OCA also needs to review the very reason for its existence. Its new Metropolitan
should be someone who has experience as a monk and a Metropolitan, who is in canonical communion with the other Orthodox Churches and enjoys the respect of the Moscow Patriarchate, which in its darker Soviet days gave the OCA its still much-disputed autocephaly.
Thirdly, the candidate should be one who can solve the absurd situation in North America in which the Moscow Patriarchate alone effectively has three different jurisdictions on that territory: the
Patriarchal parishes themselves, ROCOR and the OCA.
It is our suggestion that the only candidate who meets all the above criteria is Metropolitan Hilarion of New York and Eastern America, the head of ROCOR.
Of course, some will say that Metropolitan Hilarion is far too busy. But there is no reason why he cannot delegate much of his work to Bishop (the future Archbishop?) Seraphim, the Canadian
representative of the OCA. Together with faithful OCA bishops like Archbishop Job and Bishop Tikhon, the canonically-disputed OCA could disappear and become part of ROCOR in North America.
As for the Patriarchal parishes, apart from a few stavropegic dependencies (podvoria) which the Moscow Patriarchate may wish to keep, the majority of these too could merge into ROCOR in North
Members of the OCA can be assured that in Metropolitan Hilarion they could not find anyone more open and more sincere in aiding English-language pastoral work in North America. Of course, it is
also true that some factions in the OCA, for example those who would like Bishop Basil Osborne to become their next Metropolitan, would be too shocked to find their path back to the Tradition and
canonicity through ROCOR. If that is the case, these Protestant-minded individuals could perhaps find a better home in the Antiochian Archdiocese in North America. ROCOR has itself found in the
last two years that the voluntary departure of extremists, who had infiltrated her in recent decades and brought an alien mentality into her, has brought many blessings.
May God?s will be done for the sake of all.
Archpriest Andrew Phillips
18/31 October 2008
Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke
(editor's note: Being from England, Fr. Andrew can be forgiven for the multiple errors in his interesting comment, and for not grasping in full the realities of the American Church scene. First, the Moscow Church does not have three jurisidictions in the US but two: the OCA is an autocephalous Church. That anomaly is their problem, not the OCA's. Secondly, the OCA is fully canonical by every standard, and recognized as such for the last 38 years by all canonical jurisdictions. Our autocephaly may not be recognized by some, but not all Churches , but no one, not one, has ever questioned our canonicity. That someone from ROCOR should, given their highly questionable uncanonical status the past 70+ years, and their sudden canonicity in the last 2-3 years, is a bit ironic, and funny, to say the least. But we have to thank the poster for send us these comments, and the option. It certainly lets everyone know what is at stake here.)
#1 Nicholai Toman on 2008-11-03 07:41
I have been praying about this now for some months...setting aside an hour each day (a sort of 'Holy Hour') usually in Church and spent in adoration and prayer about this question of who should be the next metropolitan...and continually the only answer I receive is: Metropolitan HILARION of New York and Eastern America! I pray that the OCA has the HUMILITY and spiritual sensitivity to elect him! May God's will be done.
In His great mercy,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
P.S. Remember also Mark...that for quite some years, the Metropolia received a quasi-canonicity from being under the jurisdiction of the Synod Abroad! (They were NOT under us...but we rather were with them!---to say otherwise is to rearrange history---and some of us were around and know better!).
(Editor's note: And some of us can read the documents of the period, and the testimonies of those who have passed on, Father, which suggest just the opposite. But these are largely scholarly quarrels, irrelevant today, when we are all one big happy canonical family again. Thank you for your suggestion of Metropolitan Hilarion of ROCOR, though. I am not sure how that would work, since I am not sure you are proposing he abandon his ROCOR metropolitanate to become the primate of the OCA. So, as the head of the OCA he would be Primate of the Church, and as head of ROCOR he would be under Moscow. That would make things confusing, no?
#1.1 Fr. Pius on 2008-11-03 10:37
How would this work canonically? Wouldn't he have to resign his ROCOR metropolitanate? If the ROCOR metropolitanate ended up being merged into OCA (under one OCA metropolitan, of course) what would be the canonical obstacles to that? Is there any sense of how many ROCOR members (if any) would even be willing to join our jurisdiction?
#1.1.1 Morton on 2008-11-03 12:55
"Fr. Pius, priestmonk
P.S. Remember also Mark...that for quite some years, the Metropolia received a quasi-canonicity from being under the jurisdiction of the Synod Abroad! (They were NOT under us...but we rather were with them!---to say otherwise is to rearrange history---and some of us were around and know better!)."
As an ardent student of Orthodoxy in America and someone who has read the "original" documents of the OCA and other churches, THE METROPOLIA WAS NEVER UNDER THE SYNOD ABROAD. The SYNOD, or ROCOR, was a rogue organization which was actually condemned by + Tikhon. The Metropolia was directly under the MP until it was released to make it's own decisions following 1917. Please don't try and re-write history!
(editor's note: Please see my note to Fr. Pius. There is no need to fight the battles of the long ago past. Let us focus on the future before us, which will be hard enough without us trying to score points on the other for wrongs done a century ago. The OCA has long moved on from the 1920's, so has ROCOR. Even Communism has. Let us not give those who hate the Church the victory by continuing fighting long after the reason for the fighting has disappeared.....)
#1.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 13:11
The Church that eventually became the OCA was indeed a Metropolia of the ROCOR. Platon and Theophilus both were members of the Synod in Exile until each for his own reason broke ties and took the Metropolia down an independent path. The Moscow Patriarchate never gave the metropolia leave to find its own way, but declared them schismatic the same as they did with ROCOR. From the moment the Metropolia under Theophilus broke communion with the ROCOR the Metropolia existed as an independant (and therefor as uncanonical as you want to paint the ROCOR as being) Church until in went back into communion with the Russian Church right before the granting of autocephaly. You cannot hurl the charge of being uncanonical at the ROCOR without hurling it at us as well. The only difference is that we went back into communion with the ROC when anything that they did was done at the behest of the Soviet government (which is one reason why our autocephaly is not worth the paper its written on) and the ROCOR waited until just recently knowing for sure that the ROC is no longer compromised. I recently wrote a paper on this issue that involved a lot of research. There is no other way to look at it. To say that the ROCOR ever belonged to the Metropolia is ridiculous, and to say that the Metropolia never belonged to the ROCOR is either dishonest or ignorant. Indeed, there is more than one photo of the Synod in Exile at that time in history, and guess who is there? The OCA history books even attest to this, and when the OCA archivist visited our seminary he could not deny it either, although he didn't want to straight up admit it either. Look, right now the OCA is a laughing stock to the rest of the Orthodox world, and the fact that the MP did not expect the ROCOR to recognize our autocephaly goes to show that in reality it means nothing to them either. The best idea would be to just close shop and merge with the ROCOR, and thereby right a wrong made a long time ago. But, that won't happen, so I wait to see what does.
(Editor's note: Lest anyone suspect "anonymous seminarian" as being from Jordanville, or Moscow, given the sentiments expressed, the writer's IP identifies him as coming from South Canaan, PA.)
#188.8.131.52 Anon. Seminarian on 2008-11-05 14:26
Dear Anon. Seminarian:
Someone has been feeding you much falsehood. In 1922, Pat. Tikhon, with the approval of his Synod and Pat. Council, declared the "Higher Church Administration" of the "Church Abroad" to be uncanonical (decree no. 342 & 349), and appointed Met. Evlogy (Georgievsky) as the sole ruling bishop for Russian refugees in Europe. In 1923, he also appointed Met. Platon as head of the American diocese. The organization referred to as the SYNOD or ROCOR had no canonical connection with Pat. Tikhon.
#184.108.40.206.1 Anonymous on 2008-11-05 18:21
That is not the case. Upon his return to America, Met. Platon traveled to Constantinople, where he was one of the 37 Russian bishops in exile that comprised and accepted the authority of what would eventually be organized into the ROCOR, and it was with the blessing of these Russian bishops in exile (and the supposed vocal consent of Patriarch Tikhon) that he was installed as the first Metropolitan of All America and Canada. This took place at the 1922 Third All American Council in Pittsburg, PA. Met. Evlogy was also assigned to western Europe at this time by the same Synod in Exile, and remained a member of ROCOR until he left and took his diocese under the EP. Afterwards came the so-called order of disbandment of the ROCOR (which included Platon, who was already having trouble with the Living Church in America) synod by Pat. Tikhon, which of course the ROCOR ignored because at this time you couldn't trust anything coming from Russia, not even from Pat. Tikhon, as not coming from the hand of the Atheists. Due to all of this the Metropolia declared itself independent at the 4th All American Council, which caused the first split between those loyal to the ROCOR and those loyal to the Metropolia in America. After the death of Platon in 1934 the ROCOR lifted its ban on the Metropolia as a good will gesture, and they were received back into communion under Met. Theophilus. What happens next is a whole different story, but one cannot argue against the fact that the American Metropolia accepted the authority of and was an integral part of the ROCOR at one time. Look, I am not anti-OCA. I am an OCA seminarian. Like Mr. Stokoe says I really don't think that any of this matters a hill of beans now since we are all in communion, but if that is the case, then we shouldn't feel the need to twist history to make ourselves look better. It won't work. In doing so we will just make liars out of ourselves, and I think we have all had enough of lies at this point.
#220.127.116.11.1.1 Anon. Seminarian on 2008-11-06 19:01
With all respect to Fr. Andrew, our Orthodox Church in America is not a buffet from which he can select the parts he likes for dismemberment and absorbtion into a jurisdiction more to his liking (his) leaving the parts he doesn't like to be absorbed by others. I suggest he put his cutlery away.
I also think that the fact that we have bits he likes and doesn't like is in fact reflective of a strength. A Great Strength, in fact, our diversity. It remains a great strength even though it has been poorly understood or even utilized.
Our diversity is a sign of the potential for the future, among other things. Looking around one will see that Orthodox itself will remain quite diverse on this continent for our lifetimes and likely way beyond. Our ability to live diversity in unity is a sign of our ability in this environment, not a disability.
I react rather strongly and quite negatively to those who wish to establish a party line for the OCA in terms of having only one seminary or mandating with grat intolerance certain Liturgical renewal proposals (however worthy). These things, no matter how often trumpeted, are, like Fr. Andrew Philip's insistance on "Russian" Orthodoxy, signs of provincialism - shrinking from the catholicity of our possible future.
Dcn Yousuf Rassam
Los Angeles, CA
#1.2 Anonymous on 2008-11-04 00:43
It is interesting to read the various opinions offered regarding the possible selection of Bishop Hilarion of Vienna as the next Metropolitan of our OCA.
Of note some find it offensive that one might be willing to put forth reasons for the selection of a particular candidate, in this case Bishop Hilarion, when for sometime now you as the editor of the website along with many others, particularly from the Diocese of the Mid-West, have been doing just that in championing the selection of Archbishop Job. I for one take no offense in you or anyone else offering the name of an individual for consideration, especially when it is accompanied with biographical information that allows one to make an informed judgment.
In this light I welcome the biographical material on Bishop Hilarion that now appears on the St. Vladimir's Seminary website. I have found the material posted useful in addressing issues that are of importance to me.
It should be noted that similar biographical information is not readily available on the OCA website concerning many of the members of the present Holy Synod, including Bishop Job. I have written to Fr. Andrew Jarmus and asked that the missing biographies of our Holy Synod members be posted quickly on the website so that one might be able to learn more about their background especially as it applies to their consideration for the position of Metropolitan. I was told this would be done today. Absent posting on the OCA website, the very least that should be done is make their biographies availabel in printed form in Pittsburgh. For the record only the biographies of Bishops Tikon, Nikon and Benjamin are currently posted. The other potential candidates for Metropolitan whose names are being circulated for consideration such as Archbishops Job, Seraphim and Dimitri are all listed as "not available."
Basic biographical information about their confirmation dates into the Orthodox Church, their education, their service in the Church, their writings and publications would help create an informed electorate in Pittsburgh.
To a great extent this material has now been made available for Bishop Hilarion for which I am grateful. Might we expect similar information concerning all the present members of our Holy Synod?
(Editor's note: I agree! Where is the info that should be on the OCA site? If someone wants to send me info on these three, I will be happy to publish it. But hurry!)
#2 Deacon John Zarras on 2008-11-03 08:57
I love it--the Varangian Solution. As a distant descendant of that glorious race, which also provided the elite guard for the Byzantine Emperor, I hereby put my name forth for consideration as well.
On a more serious note, all three commentaries make a cogent case for their respective points of view. However, I find Father Hopko's the least persuasive for several reasons. No one denies that Bishop Hilarion is a talented individual,who probably has a distinguished future ahead of him, but there is a great deal of disagreement on his record as a bishop and his fundamental ecclesiastical values, not to mention his real loyalties. Again, I say, this late entry must be further vetted and not foisted on the OCA by a last minute cabal of influential clerics, who don't have a proven track record of making intelligent personnel recommendations.
Even more disturbing is the obvious fact that the appeal for Bishop Hilarion is being made more to the Synod than the the AAC, where he is unlikely to get more than a handful of votes. Once again the divide and conquer strategy is being employed to circumvent the AAC from making the actual selection. Just more clerical elitism, albeit from a respected seminary, that none-the-less. could never really find its voice on the scandal until the Nikolai fiasco came along.
The OCA needs to catch its collective breath and move forward, if only on a short term basis, with the only candidate who has been there and suffered grievously for the truth, whatever his other limitations. Sorry, but this really is a no brainer for what is needed at this point in time.
#3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-11-03 10:00
St. Vladimir's Seminary IS NOT officially endorsing + Hilarion. Fr. Hopko may like this idea, but not everyone at SVS. No one reading here should believe that SVS endorses + Hilarion; rather certain personalities affiliated with SVS may.
Let + Hilarion prove himself in America on a diocese level, then the church can decide.
(editor's note: Since the SVS website publishes on its front page a long interview with Bishop Hilarion, in a photo surrounded by the former Dean, the current Dean, and the Chancellor of the school, the distinction you draw may be true, but meaningless. The powers that be at the school clearly appear to have taken a position ....)
#3.1 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 12:28
I find it interesting that SVS, who remained largely silent with the exception of late in the Nikolai end game, now feels it needs to have its voice heard about who’s the next Metropolitan is. I ask that SVS maintain the same silence now that they maintained during the undeniable moral crisis that this organization faced. I do not remember them having any information concerning the moral degradation of this organization during the cover ups by the bishops, but now they want to spew forth their elitism and not to unsubtlely endorse a candidate, and one from abroad, to be our next Metropolitan. We see where the priorities of SVS lie, like much else in this Church and again, the gospel takes second billing to other reasons. If it was important for SVS to keep themselves above the fray in the moral crisis of the Church it is important for them to stay out of the politicking being engaged in by those that cared enough to force the issues to the point where we are choosing a new Metropolitan. They can’t have it both ways. Remember the last bishop we brought from abroad, and why? Peter from France to teach at SVS. It troubles this writer that there is such a fascination with foreign hierarchy from the institution that educates priests for the American land.
What SVS has basically said are two things. First of all, its looking for someone who's theological education will enhance SVS while ignoring all of the other practical issues like using homegrown talent, and there is homegrown talent, to be Metropolitan. The second point they make is that they’ve failed terribly and really aren’t shy about admitting it. They are saying that no one that has passed through the doors of SVS, our premier theological institution, nor STS, their sister institution, are good enough for the role of Metropolitan of a church of about 25,000 people. This is a stunning admission for why else would we want to go offshore, to Russia, to bring in a Russian national, to led a Church that is desparately trying to convince people its not Russian, but American and morph into a Church that can survive in a society much different from that in Russia?
There is so much fascination with extra jurisdictional bishops to be our leader that its very disturbing because we’re capitulating that we cannot germinate and grow leaders within our own backyard. And when we do pick we don’t pick from the cream but those that are pliable to the wills of the older bishops.
I have said before and will repeat, Fr. Michael Dahulich is one of that homegrown talent and to pass by people of his stature and reputation because we don’t think we can elect a non bishop or that we have fantasies about the leadership of someone who has no place here just points to just what bad shape we are in as a Church.
#3.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-11-05 12:16
+ Hilarion may be well-educated and may bring a "breath of fresh air" to the OCA, but he is truly untried in America. The OCA needs stability at this time, not grabbing at a fluke hoping for the best. What should happen is + Hilarion should teach at St. Vladimir's and asked to be the Bishop of NY & NJ. After several years the people of the OCA can see if this is who they may want for Met, but NOW, not now. There are too many questions about him and how his episcopacy would effect the OCA. Let's try him in other capacities and see if he's as good as Fr. Hopko believes he is.....
#4 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 10:23
I'd just like to mention again that Bishop Hilarion of Vienna is in his early 40s. I have nothing at all to say against him, but we could end up having a very long time to repent a hasty decision...
#4.1 Morton on 2008-11-03 12:48
While the ten points enumerated by Fr Thomas Hopko regarding the candidacy of +Bishop Hilarion are impressive, it seems that the healing our Church needs at this time, by choosing such a Metropolitan, would be tenacious, at best! I agree with the various people posting on here who have said that having a candidate from outside our country would be problematic simply from the standpoint that this man would not be immersed in the perspective of living in this culture that a natural-born North American would. Again, the tiring and endless rant of "there are no viable candidates" in America is wearing mighty thin! What is really being said here is that there are no viable candidates from the "good ol' boys" network of the "old guard" whose attitude towards the people of God is "pray, pay, and obey!"
Two other points to consider: the first is the call for someone only from the ranks of the monastics! While many candidates from among the monastics are viable, there are also single or widowed clergy serving in parishes who should also be examined for their viability. Expanding the choices to include these men would also address the old "we have no viable candidates" refrain!
Secondly, there is the suggestion that, if +Bishop Hilarion becomes our next Metropolitan, the remaining members of the Synod of Bishops could help him to adjust to life in North America! Are you kidding me?? With the exception of +Archbishop Job, the rest of the bishops have remained silent and impotent during this entire crisis, have not acknowledged their own lack of action at various times when that action proved critical, and have also been part of the "sweep it all under the rug" policies of recent decades! With that obvious a track record, can we really believe that they would take constructive action to help a foreign-born Metropolitan adjust to life in the OCA? To rely on such a hope is very pollyanna, indeed!
I agree with the recent calls for inviting and allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work in our midst! Let us not, in a moment of panic, look elsewhere for solutions, but calmly, and faithfully trusting in the Lord, "dig deeper" within our midst to find a viable candidate for Metropolitan from within the ranks of our own Orthodox Church in America!
#5 David Barrett on 2008-11-03 10:30
I would disagree with your suggestion about electing from single/widowed parish clergy right away. Just my opinion, but think the best candidate will have needed to have served as bishop for some time. For example, one hears the names of Bishops Benjamin and the newly-elevated Bishop Jonah (classmate of yours, I believe!), and while they at some point may be excellent candidates for the primacy, I think they both need a bit more "seasoning" at the episcopal level.
Just my opinion, and, as one priest on a chat line likes to sign off, what do I know?
#5.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-11-05 10:14
Thank you for your response! While I agree that, most times, having someone "seasoned" could be advantageous, it also might be wise and prudent if we did have someone who came in fresh, that is, with*out* having been part of the "good ol' boys" network in the Synod, or who hadn't been in there long enough to scope out their place and decide which "camp" they were going to align themselves with!! Being sinful, fallen human beings, we do tend to fragment ourselves by divisively forming little "cliques," much as petulant, high school adolescents do. However, if we can make choices that will minimize this fragmentation, that's all to the better! Again, it's just another perspective on the situation! Yet, I still feel that Fr Thomas Hopko's earlier suggestion, of putting names in a chalice to be selected by lot, opens the door wider to allow the Holy Spirit to operate in our midst!!
#5.1.1 David Barrett on 2008-11-06 07:57
The Varangians or Varyags...sometimes referred to as Variagians, were Vikings, Norsemen, who went eastwards and southwards through what is now Russia, Belarus and Ukraine mainly in the 9th and 10th centuries. Engaging in trade, piracy and mercenary activities, they roamed the river systems and portages of Gardariki, reaching the Caspian Sea and Constantinople.
(Editor's note: LOL. I was not suggesting in any way Bishop Hilarion was a pirate! Or, for that matter, that becoming Primate of the OCA was a way to reach Constantinople....)
#6 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 12:31
Interestingly enough, the Varangians were Vikings who had blue eyes, blond hair, fair skin and were a very tall and hearty people. These are the same people you will find in Scandinavia today and the Ukraine. They were vicious warriors and were used as the elite guard in Constantinople because of their fighting abilities (Conan the Barbarian). Anyway, their rule was "take no prisoners" approach and justice was dealt swiftly, usually with death by sword. I do hope that if the OCA brings someone from the outside to "serve" or "rule" that they won't be like the Varangians!
#6.1 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 14:59
Dear SVS Advocates for Bishop Hilarion:
It is clear that Bishop Hilarion has every attribute to be an outstanding professor at SVS. His academic abilities are beyond question and I believe he would add an exciting dimension to the formation of seminary students.
With that said, I don't understand why someone relatively untested as a diocesan bishop would be considered by people, who one would think have a better grasp of church life. Frs Hopko, Behr and Peter Bouteneff need no introduction to anyone, thus when they step forward and suggest such a person, we at least, as we are, should listen. But, to go head-long into such speculation without first receiving permission f rom the MP to speak with Bishop Hilarion and with the clear expectation that the MP would release him seems rather pointless at the 11th hour to trot out Bishop Hilarion as one to ascend directly to that of First Hierarch of the OCA.
I put little stock in a conspiracy theory that by electing Hilarion the MP will take over the OCA from the inside out. We are doing a much better job of de-evolving as a Church then to look to outside sources for our demise. The OCA will survive in way or another.
If SVS thinks so highly of Bishop Hilarion, invite him to be part of SVS. Let him grow in his understanding of Orthodox life here in the USA (and Canada). Let him be one with the OCA, and, in time, if it be God's will, his name can be offered up again.
In closing, we will have to work very hard to come to a consensus on who might be our next First Hierarch. The Holy Synod itself will have to meet and carefully consider and if there not be a consensus from the Church or insufficient consensus within the Synod than the most prudent action would be to not elect a Metropolitan in Pittsburgh but rather fix the other things that need attention in the OCA while at the same time giving ourselves more time to discern God'will on the question of our next Metropolitan.
#7 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 12:34
You failed to mention the only convert among the SVS names being associated with Bp. Hilalrion. The Chancellor of SVS, Archpriest Chad Hatfield is certainly identified as a voice from the now majority in the OCA - converts.
It is interesting that such a person is so enthusiastic about a bishop of the Moscos Patriarchate. It is in the best interest of the OCA and American Orthdooxy in general to learn more about why the SVS leaders have tried to create a healthy forum to discuss a potential candidate.
You might want to listen to "Voices from St. Vladimir's" on Ancient Faith Radio and hear the interview with Bp. Hilarion. Knowledge and new insight can't hurt!
#7.1 Christopher Scott on 2008-11-03 18:37
I hope that we all remember that all other Orthodox churches in the USA are watching if we would elect a metropolitan that would be as good as the Antiochian Metropolitan "Philip".
I thought you need this reminder.
Let us all pray that the Holy Spirit intervenes
#7.1.1 Erica on 2008-11-03 19:44
Dear Anonymous Christopher Scott:
I don't believe that one should look for a distinction between convert and cradle Orthodox in the OCA. It is no secret that the OCA is on the forefront of converts to Orthodoxy. Just look at our much maligned Holy Synod, Seraphim, convert, Job, convert (eastern catholic), Nathaniel, convert, Dmitri, convert, Jonah, convert, Benjamin, convert, Alejo, convert.....did I miss anyone?
And just as an aside, for all the vaulted hype about the convert oriented AOCA, they don't have one member of their Synod who is a convert.
Converts are so integrated into the fabric of the OCA that it really isn't worth trying to make such an argument or distinction with Fr Chad. Besides, it was an unintentional oversight in my post.
So what exactly are your getting at Mr Scott?
#7.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 21:10
"And just as an aside, for all the vaulted hype about the convert oriented AOCA, they don't have one member of their Synod who is a convert."
At present, you are technically correct. The AOCA, however, unlike the OCA, does have formally elected and identified episcopal candidates who have not yet been consecrated. Amongst those candidates is Fr Daniel Griffith, who is not cradle Orthodox, but was received as a lay person many, many years ago from another faith. When the AOCA has the need to fill an episcopal throne, Fr Daniel might very well be the candidate selected, as he is considered a favorite of the people. He has superior academic and pastoral skills, and, if I am not mistaken, monastic experience at Mt Athos.
From afar, I can guess at one reason for the SVS folks hyping an "academic" such as +Hilarion. One need only look at the number of superb academics in the OCA who are serving as parish priests and/or teaching at heterodox or secular institutions to see that a PhD from a respected institution is a one way ticket to OCA "Siberia".
The +Hilarion question, however, is now moot, as the good bishop himself has refused nomination for many of the reasons cited in on this page.
#18.104.22.168 Overseas Observer on 2008-11-06 10:00
The Antiochian Archdiocese does in fact have have a convert bishop, Bp. Mark of Toledo.
Two others are American born, too: Bps Basil and Thomas.
I would also add that ideally, all of us as Orthodox Christians are converts whether or not we were born into the faith.
#22.214.171.124.1 anon on 2008-11-06 14:07
Has anyone considered the implications of Hilarion of Vienna's candidacy from the political angle? Surely, he would need to become an American citizen and extricate himself totally from the orbit of the MP (and thus the Russian state) or else there would always be some who would (rightly) be suspicious of his decisions. Is he capable of/willing to do this?
All indications are that relations between Russia and the US are going to become frosty in the future - the last thing the OCA needs is to be drawn into this by virtue of having a Russian primate.
For the same - and other - reasons Hilarion of NY (who at least has the advantage of being Nth American) would have to resign from the ROCOR and join the OCA - quite unlikely, one would think.
The wisest decision, I contend (fwiw), would be to go with someone from within the OCA who - due to age - would only serve for one or possibly two terms; then, upon his retirement, choose another candidate from a new field. Any other course of action would surely be tantamount to admitting the failure of the autocephaly of the OCA - an autocephalous church ought to be able to produce its own candidates for the episcopacy (I have expressed my reservations about the OCA's autocephaly before, but here, for argument's sake, I accept the notion.)
#8 Anthony on 2008-11-03 15:26
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
-- Emily Dickenson
Well, I am quite litterally nobody. Those advocating for Bp. Hilarion as Metropolitan so far outstrip me in knowledge, theological education, and dedication to the church that to find myself disagreeing with them leaves me feeling greatly uneasy.
But the idea of electing someone that very few of us here in America know, about whom we hear mixed reports, who is a bishop of the church from which we received our autocephaly but in an environment where many voices question the value and/or validity of that autocephaly --- with no time to get to know him, no time to examine the record ... it terrifies me!
And I fall back on the caretaker solution -- we're in too much of a hurry to move on. Healing cannot be instantaneous. We need time.
Maybe +Hilarion could be a great leader for the OCA -- but what is lost by taking some time and building towards a long-term solution in 2011?
Also, one lesson I've learned is no one is great in the abstract -- people are great for a particular time, a particular place, a particular task.
#9 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-11-03 15:42
My take on this proposal of Bishop Hilarion? One reason it is being pushed is that he is NOT a convert. The OCA has never had a convert Metropolitan--wasn't that one of the reasons given for not going with the choice of Abp. Seraphim when Met. Herman was chosen by the Synod?--and I imagine there is a deep feeling that there never should be. Just as there will never be a non-Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem.
I remember Fr. Hopko questioning, during a lecture at SVS in the early 80's, whether converts should be ordained (at least that was my understanding of what he was saying--and then I did a mental head-count of classmates, and rconfirmed that about 1/2 of us enrolled at SVS at that time were converts). I suspect he has maintained the deep-down prejudice against converts that exists among many of the 'cradle' Orthodox in the OCA even now. This is not to dismiss Fr. Hopko by any means--I certainly learned much from him, and respect his work. It's just that the 'slant' against converts stuck with me, and I suspect it is one of the reasons for pushing the candidacy of Bishop Hilarion.
That's all I have to say about that.
My personal opinion? Bishop Tikhon. He's the only one who seems not to want to be Metropolitan, so that seems a big plus to me!
I do think that the OCA should get over this idea that bishops have to be 'monastics', when it is clearly a fiction for most of them, hurriedly done to make them 'eligible'. For Greeks and Antiochians, it is not a requirement--at least as I understand it. It might widen the scope of candidates a bit. (Not that I think anyone in his right mind would want to be a bishop. I certainly wouldn't!)
#10 Mark on 2008-11-03 15:51
Truly it is ridiculous to continue this charade that ALL bishops must be celibate and monastics. This IS NOT the Orthodox teaching. Monastics were chosen out of "expediency." That is, the monasteries were where the libraries were and monastics were better educated than the country-bumpkin, married priests. Today, this has no effevt. Even the new bishop in Dallas isn't a REAL monastic - this is ridiculous. Time to truly follow OUR Tradition and consecrate the most qualified - married or not!
(Editor's note: Please do not confuse the editor with the "Mark" to whom you are responding. He and I are different people, which he should have noted (Are you listening, Mark?). And I must point out that you are wrong when you say the new bishop in Dallas is not a REAL monastic. He is, by any defination, save your own. He was tonsured, has lived in several monasteries, and done so with stability and purpose and success.)
#10.1 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 17:17
I would also submit that +Seraphim who was in Finland as a monastic for several years before consecration should be considered an exception as well. (as I'm sure other bishops in the OCA have similar histories) I would like to know by what criteria someone is a "real monastic"?
#10.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 21:22
months, not years, according to the Archdiocese of Canada website.
#10.1.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-11-05 17:38
If it is truly our tradition to have a married episcopacy, then please tell me this. When was the last time in the history of the Church that a married man was consecrated to the episcopacy? Then you can tell me what constitutes tradition.
#10.1.2 Anon. on 2008-11-05 14:45
our church's failure to attract American born Orthodox young people to our seminaries and monasteries (for if we did not have the converts, those born abroad, and the clergy children that we do in our seminaries and monasteries, we would have almost no seminarians and monastics at all!)
This is a point made by Fr. Thomas Hopko in his "Letter to the Metropolitan Council" posted to OCANews.org on 4.12.2006. I was surprised at the time that no one noted the perhaps unmeaning 'prejudice' against converts. In this letter he contrasted American-born Orthodox with 'converts' - not Orthodox converts or converts to Orthodoxy from other churches or religions. I'm sure Fr. Tom did not mean this and would never defend such a distinction if asked, but it is telling the manner in which he phrased the difference, a turn of phrase that is consistent with Mark's perception that converts are seen as somehow less than fully or regularly Orthodox. (The foreign born seem to be labeled as less than fully American and clergy children as somehow not quite regular American-born Orthodox, which point to other issues).
The reality of this perception among pious ethnic Orthodox (even in the OCA) is all the more reason for the OCA to be very careful in taking unilateral pastoral actions that would separate us from the mainstream of Orthodox faith and practice as practiced around the world. The OCA and her 'great unwashed' convert masses are new, a veritable blip on the screen in terms of Church history. We must prove ourselves in the way catechumens are (ideally) proven over a length of time, the way novices are 'put to the test' over time before monastic tonsure, the way that the newly illumined are canonically barred from 'hasty' ordination.
Dear Mr. Orr,
In your postings you seem to pay great importance to not taking actions that would "separate us from the mainstream of Orthodox faith and practice as practiced around the world." Do you have any particular theological or doctrinal Orthodox point that drives this emphasis?
I could speculate but I would rather you explain why this is of such overwhelming importance to you. Thank you,
#10.2.1 Carl on 2008-11-07 19:22
Selecting anyone other than an American born and bred is akin to turning the Orthodox mission boat around and heading back to the old country. Seriously folks, are we that weak? If we are, then let us stop this charade of autocephaly and call a spade a spade. We do not deserve our own self-governing Church if we are not ready to knuckle down and address the problems we face. There are no white knights who can ride in from a foreign culture and possibly understand these circumstances. Choosing someone who doesn't truly know (and love) our culture and its people sets us back a generation or two. We will regret such lack of courage for generations.
#11 Anon. on 2008-11-03 18:04
I agree with Mark - it seems the administration of SVS has fully endorsed their fellow academic, Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev). The website is testament to it. And as a prospective seminarian, it is disheartening to see professors I would ordinarily respect, so full of themselves and of their importance, doing the sort of back-door playmaking and lobbying that was the hallmark of the last administration. Who do they think they are?
Having grown up in the Diocese of NY and NJ, I was familiar with the way Archbishop Peter ran a diocese. He came fully endorsed and recommended by the academics, because he was one. And he did a terrible job as an episcopal minister. (I really doubt anyone will debate this point.) As such, I am very skeptical not just of academic-recommended bishops, but of the process we are now witnessing itself. The seminary should not try to outspeak, overrun, or predetermine the outcome of the principle organ of the church - the All American Council.
Bishop Hilarion is foreign. He might speak English well, he might be more fluent in Schmemann than most of us, but he is still not borne out of our culture, and our Church. He has not been part of our local community.
To make a quick parallel, I have seen how disruptive it can be to a college environment when a Dean is brought in from outside a college, specifically my own School of Architecture. He may walk the walk, etc., say the right things, but the fact is that he's a foreigner, and is not familiar with the situation on the ground. He doesn't have the institutional memory. Thus, there will be tension and alienation between the new foreign leader and the pre-existing residents of the school. This parallel is directly analogous to the situation with Bishop Hilarion.
I feel conflicted, because I tend to prefer bold and visionary moves. But this one seems nothing short of disastrous. I still hope Archbishop Job will be elected.
And Mark, what's with your comment "no one in his right mind would want to be a bishop." Isn't the episcopacy a beautiful fulfillment of our Christian mission that should be aspired to?
Perhaps the reason we have a miniscule pool of candidates to choose from is because of a culture in the OCA that discourages people from considering the episcopacy, or requires them to have some sort of false humility about "maybe one day possibly becoming one, if I am called upon" ... instead of cultivating candidates who are bright, eager, motivated, and want to learn about what it takes to be a good bishop. Why do we have the former, not the latter? Is it because the episcopacy is mystical? Really? Oh. Well, great system. It seems to be working out very well.
St. Andrew's Church, Dix Hills, NY
Student at Syracuse University
(editor's note: Those SVS faculty members think they are good members of the OCA, expressing reasoned opinions about difficult subjects on which there is no agreement. I may disagree with them, indeed I do, but I respect them for doing their duty as those faculty members see it. Would more people would share their ideas and insights! Secondly, once again, I am not the Mark who wrote that comment about Bishops. Episcopacy is not to be aspired to, because just as often as not, it leads to terrible temptations. It is often a martyrdom if done well, which is a terrible price to ask of anyone, and like any martyrdom, to be avoided, if possible. And yes it can be mystical. I have known mystic bishops. They are rare and not always everyone's cup of tea. )
#12 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-11-03 18:28
I would think being a bishop would be an incredible lonely vocation. I am thinking of St. Metropolitan Nectarios of Aegina, whose feast we celebrate this week.
I keep reading complaints about the rule that bishops be drawn from the ranks of monastics, and I have done some of that complaining myself. But it seems to me we may have it backwards when we blame the lack of good candidates for episcopal ordination on that rule. I find myself wondering why there are so few qualified monastics, and so I find myself wondering why there are so few good monasteries.
If a person wanted to become a monk, where would he go? If I were seriously looking for a monastery right this minute, I would most likely not be considering one in the OCA, as much as it pains me to say it. The only one that's been around long enough to have a stable monastic culture is St. Tikhon's. None of the others have the elders who by their example can really train new monks. But could anyone seriously view St. Tikhon's as a healthy place to go to spend a quiet decade or two (or more) in prayer and penance? We're only just beginning to learn about the financial and political manipulations that have been going on there. It's going to be the center of controversy (and law suits) for years to come, not to mention church politics.
So, one of my prayers is that the new metropolitan, whoever he turns out to be, will make it a priority to help breathe some life into our monasteries. The monastic vocation is never going to be wildly popular; but it will only seem attractive when people can see mature, healthy human beings living out that vocation with honesty, simplicity, and joy.
#12.1 Morton on 2008-11-04 10:11
Firstly, we need to stop seeing monasteries as bishop-factories. Monasticism is a vocation in its own right, and a lay vocation at that. Any monastic with episcopal ambitions and longings needs to go back to being a novice, or even a trudnik, and start over, because he clearly didn't "get it" ther first time around.
Secondly, in defense of the brotherhood of St. Tikhon's, please note that any financial and/or administrative shennanigans are not the doing of the monastic brotherhood, but of either the Metropolitan of the day or the Deputy Abbot previous to the current Bishop of Philadelphia. The brotherhood were given no real say in any of the decisions which affected them....contrary to monastic custom, by the way. It is also to the eternal credit of Bishop Tikhon even before his election to the epsicopate he, as superior of the house, managed to lead the brotherhood out of what by all appearances was an unhealthy idiorrhythmic setup into a healthy coenobitic life.
As for other OCA monasteries, they do indeed exist. For example (and while I myself would be uncomfortable with their version of the monastic tradition), the New Skete communities provide one option. Here in Canada, Holy Transfiguration Hermitage, under the leadership of Sche-Igumen Gregory (Papazian) is, by every account, a shining example of everything monasticism is meant to be. (Just don't talk to any of the brotherhood about episcopate; they'd run off into the woods to hide and we'd never find them again.) One also hears very good things about the Monastery of St. John of Shanghai under the abbatial leadership of now-Bishop Jonah.
Thirdly, be warned that simply being around for decades is no guarantee that a monastery is a spiritually healthy place. In pre-Revolutionary Russia, some very old monasteries (especially state-supported ones) were not at all healthy. Neither is having an "elder" a guarantee; it depends on where and how he himself was formed. Not everything Athonite, for example, is spiritually sound, because Athos, too, had its weird periods. As inspiring as it is by its positive examples, The Athonite Gerontikon also demonstrates, in more than a few cautionary accounts, how some monks of the Holy Mountain went quite off the beam.
It is simply not easy to establish healthy monastic communities, especially with little or no encouragement and concrete support, and in the face of sometimes-huge government regulation, at least on this side of the border. (Various British Columbia regulations doubled the cost of the very modest buildings of Holy Transgifuration Hermitage, and monasteries here are not automatically exempt from property taxes and other assessments.)
Beyond government and money, how many parents would even think to encourage their children to consider monasticism (or priesthood or diaconate, for that matter)? It was and is not so with me, I confess. To this day, my aged mother (whom I love dearly) says bluntly that because I don't make $100K a year---which for her, a child of the Great Depression, is still big bucks---I'm a failure in life. The home is often the garden in which the seed of a vocation is either first planeted and nurtured or killed.
But the biggest roadblock to a flourishing monastic life in North America is the lack of prayer-support from the clergy and laity. How much and how often is there real prayer that God will shower OUR parish or OUR diocese with monastic vocations? How much and how often is there real prayer that those who receive such a call from God will be given the grace to respond to it, to leave all and follow Him? How much and how often is there real prayer that those who do respond will persevere? Without that kind of prayer-support there will be no flowering of North American monasticism.
#12.1.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-11-06 07:11
Mark (the editor), St. Paul says, "If any one aspire to the office of bishop, he desires a good thing..."
(Editor's note: Granted, but St. Paul never envisioned the difficulties of an institutional Church and the careerism such might spawn. Desiring an office to serve the faithful is a wonderful and difficult thing; desiring the faithful to serve a ofice is quite something else. )
#12.2 Rdr. John on 2008-11-04 13:30
As a former member of the London UK Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition & All Saints in London, UK, now returned to America, please do not select Hilarion. I painfully observed the role he played in the pastoral tragedy that still afflicts the Orthodox in the UK. He is not what he appears to be. The Moscow backed Soviet style of mean spirited dissension I witnessed I hope to never see again in any organization.
At the final hour before the factional split within the Cathedral I recall hearing the cries of the Russian tea ladies from the kitchen exclaiming "we won we won. Well, No one won.
Imagine my good fortune to leave England with hopes of leaving all that behind and then confront what now afflicts us.
#13 John Bennett on 2008-11-03 18:37
Electing a foreign-born, of any jurisdiction, would be a colossal mistake. Such an action would prove beyond doubt, to me anyway, that those who remain in leadership are either: (1) still hiding and hoping not to get caught in the net of this scandal because they are complicit, (2) academics who have little pastoral sense of how wrong this recommendation is with regard to the pastoral healing that must occur, or (3) have very little sense of the theology of missions that cries out for incarnation; for us to be salt and light in these lands called North America.
At this stage in our history there is no justification for such backward thinking as being promulgated out of SVS with regard to Bp. Hilarion. They don't get it. They may know polemics and hermeneutics backwards and forwards, but they have shown no leadership in this crisis whatsoever. Let's not start following their suggestions just yet, at least not until they prove themselves worthy of trust. That has not happened, at least not for this layperson anyway. I am frankly shocked at the forceful way SVS is coming out for Bp. Hilarion when they, as an institution, have been so deafeningly silent for the last three years. Where were their website recommendations over the last three years for God's sake? They were silent... forcing this website and others, thank goodness, to take up the reins of real leadership.
#13.1 Name withheld on 2008-11-03 20:18
Like John Bennett I too am a former member of the Cathedral in London,UK and Vladyka Anthony was my Spiritual Father who I was priveleged to know from 1969 onwards. He was my ordaining Bishop from Reader to Priest and he married my Matushka and I. He was also a very dear friend and we had a close relationship. I remember visiting him after the Hilarion affair and his great disapointment that this young man, whom he had known for some time and considered a spiritual son,could have let him down and been the cause of discension within the diocese. Vladyka Anthony felt that Hilarion had undone all the hard work that he had achieved over the past 30+ years. As I understood it Hilarion had attempted to impose the Moscow mindset,which was extremely conservative liturgically and theologically, upon the parishes in UK This was against everything that Metropolitan Anthony had stood for and kept the diocese from in his desire to build up a local Ortodox Diocese following the Russian tradition but without the interference from Moscow with its possible political ramifications. It is interesting to note that with a very few exceptions all the clergy ordained by Metropolitan Anthony joined with Bishop Basil(who was Vladyka's chosen successor)in entering the European Archdiocese of parish's following the Russian tradion but under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Apert from any legal issues(citizenship,etc)Hilarion,despite his undoubted educational talents)would bring a mindset to the OCA which we may not want. Let us continue to pray that God in His infinite wisdom may provide us with a Hierarch worthy of being Metropolitan and who could lead the OCA in the right direction as envisaged by some of the founding members such as Frs. Schmemmon and Meyerndorf. It might help if whoever is chosen had a degree in accounting so that he could at least read the numbers and see if anything was amiss!
#13.2 Archpriest Ian P. Hammett on 2008-11-04 10:48
And now the next report......Auditing....is available on line. I wonder if 2 copies will sent to each parish because it's part of the statute as I've been told this week !
Can't wait for all elections to be over !
#14 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 18:54
The effort of Fr. Hopko and his cohorts at SVOTS to try to sell the idea of the OCA Metropolinate to Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria AND to the OCA body would be hilarious if it weren't so pathetic.
Surely, Fr. Hopko and Co. are aware of the efforts even now under way (keep your eye on the news soon to come out of the MP) by the MP to strengthen and increase her favored faithful daughter Church in America, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
This is a cynical and desperate move to get back "in" with the MP whilst still trying to maintain a facade of autocephaly and will FAIL ....
#15 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 19:45
Gleb Razumovsky said:
"Do we want OCA to become an instrument of Russian politics and suffer from its methods, which will not tolerate any spirit of independence?
Are we really looking for a hierarchy that will 'rule' and not 'serve'?
Do we want priests to be appointed to our parishes, ignoring our wishes?
Do we want the brightest and most independent of them to be suspended?"
Do we want our voices to be manipulated during elections?"
Maybe I missed something, but don't we already have those five things, yet sans a Russian bishop? The last 15 or so years had made it pretty clear that our "home-grown" bishops are quite capable at accomplishing those things all by themselves. Saying that +Hilarion will make these things suddenly happen is just fear-mongering.
And if anyone is wondering why some people at SVS are advancing +Hilarion, its because they know him. At least in the past few years +Hilarion has been at SVS at least twice, and at least once given a special lecture. Fr. John Behr, lest anyone forgets, is originally from the MP of England, so he has a connection with all the European Russian bishops that way. +Hilarion, as anyone who has seen his website can testify (yes, he has a website, I wonder what the commission on electronic media would say about that!) is greatly involved in Orthodox higher education, which is likely near and dear to the hearts of those working at SVS. And, I think they want a Metropolitan they can respect, which is understandable.
To John Bennet of Sourozh - I believe your account of what happened in Sourozh, it's hardly the first I've read that said these things. That being said, if the interview +Hilarion gave SVS is any indication, he supports the "indigenous" Orthodoxy in America and wants it to expand. As the Metropolitan of the OCA he wouldn't be a diocesan bishop of the MP anymore, which actually suggests that as a "free man" he would run things differently. In the MP diocesan bishops are very much under the thumb of Patriarch Alexy, and if things go poorly, demotions are common, as are transfers to unwanted Sees (there are quite a few modern-day Siberias for a MP diocesan bishop). I wouldn't be surprised if +Hilarion himself would personally beg for release from the MP if he was elected Metropolitan, I sure would. Also, the SVS members pushing for him are hardly Russo-philes (I mean in the way the split happened in Sourozh), and I trust that they are aware of what happened in Sourozh (like I said, the Dean was MP, and still has a number of friends there). Therefore, I don't think that electing +Hilarion will necessarily cause the same situation in the OCA which forced the split of Sourozh.
#16 Anonymous on 2008-11-03 21:50
... The appointment of Bishop Hilarion will continue and ensconce the OCA in it's perpetual identity crisis and institutionalize it's toadyism to Moscow. It's just not wise.
#17 Anon on 2008-11-04 06:31
I believe the issue of voting in a metropolitan may lie within us all. Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) as a candidate has brought out concerns of going back to the Russian church. We hold on so much to the idea of separating ourselves from the other Orthodox to make a North American identity. We are Orthodox and we need to find ways of drawing all Orthodox together as one. I cannot comment on Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) as a Metropolitan, except that any one who is elected must not be quick to judge yet be quick to act on non-Christ-like actions. We cannot yet be whole as we still have those who do not act as Christ in our Synod of Archbishops addressed in the SIC report who have not truly repented for their actions or inactions and offer no hope to those in their house. We need to dismiss all of the holy synod and let those who stand in truth be re-elected.
#18 Schjon Aster on 2008-11-04 06:31
I confess that I am becoming increasingly uneasy as the AAC approaches, mainly over process for the election of the new primate. Besides the fact that the statute concerning the election is geared to virtually ensure the vote will go to the Synod of Bishops, which has a lousy track record, there is very little information of other possible candidates for any of us delegates to rely on – which leads me to suggest that the central church administration should maintain (it does) a listing of OCA non-episcopal members (celibate and widowed priests, monks) who have been preliminarily vetted to qualify as bishop and to publish (which it has not) such a listing with as full a biography or CV as possible so that delegates to the council can be better informed.
The listing should be expanded to include qualified unmarried laymen; the list should be updated periodically and ready for publication on the OCA website at least a few months prior to an impending election of a new metropolitan. The preliminary process of being informed in anticipation of an election of a new primate should mirror the process that dioceses go through (or should go through) in selecting a new bishop. As it is now, most of us delegates are between a rock and a hard place, i.e. between +Job, who got religion and helped blow the whistle, but says he doesn’t want the position and +Seraphim who is reported (SIC report) to have known about the abuses years ago and did nothing.
My vote is still for the prodigal son who returned, repentant. to his father’s house.
#19 Terry C. Peet on 2008-11-04 06:35
We must govern ourselves. We must have an American primate. To do otherwise would be a disaster that would scatter more of the faithful than have been by the recent financial scandals.
#20 Anonymous on 2008-11-04 08:05
Over the last many years of web entries the question of how much Russian/ ethnic/ American identity should the OCA exhibit has surfaced related to various issues.
From the Potemkin Village analogies, cradle vs. converts, who is Serbian, or any other ethnic root (NOT 'really'Russian!!) --
and now a genuine foreigner dark horse galloping into the three horse field. Yikes. This only adds to the confusion. Maybe the Holy Spirit will work this out; odd that the Holy Spirit didn't look with much favor upon the OCA shenanigans for the last twenty years.
Would an outsider bring unity because he is unaware of where the skeletons are? "A new broom sweeps clean".Would the OCA be better with someone who knows about the skeletons and will finally hold people accountable? I'm concerned that a late dark horse would be open to manipulation by the Embezzelemet Era Establishment.
Perhaps the ideal candidate for the "let's move on" crowd.
To think that he will arrive with no strings attached to overseas Orhodoxy and it's machinations is not just a leap of faith but a leap into the dark as well.
#21 Jim Murray on 2008-11-04 09:14
"an outsider...open to the manipulation by the Embezzlement Era Establishment ...the *let's move on corwd*"
Bravo, well-said! What insight!
And an outsider with all the added benefits of stellar education and international renown!
#21.1 Ever and anon. on 2008-11-06 06:58
I must say, having just read the interview by SVS of Bishop Hilarion, that I am extremely impressed. On just about every subject he addressed he struck the right note (pun intended) and in a way that seemed genuine and unaffected. He is truly a promising leader for the future at the highest levels world Orthodoxy. I would only observe that I still detect some over-emphasis on clerical/episcopal authority at the expense of lay participation, but perhaps I quibble or misunderstand his real views. The proof will be in how he actually functions as a bishop, and there the verdict is still out.
And of course there is still the question of his association with the Russian Church--a fact that has both its pluses and minuses. Electing him a bishop of the OCA would require, in my view, a new allegiance to an independent Orthodox jurisdiction.
All that said, I still strongly believe that Archbishop Job is the right choice for the next few years. But Bishop Hilarion is differently someone to watch for the future.
#22 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-11-04 10:23
In response to Fr. Geoffrey Korz, Ontario:
With respect, I submit to you, it is demeaning and inappropriate to refer to the respected clergy leaders and sincere laity of the OCA as "cheerleaders". "courtiers", and "celebrities". You say "Most North Americans don't know enough about Bishop Hilarion". Please! We, both clergy and laity, are not stupid sheep who cannot read, listen, communicate and discern! It is not "base", "competitive", or "political" to communicate by letter, email or by discussion this most important choice for our beloved church. Traveling to see and hear and speak with a possible candidate so that we might make a more informed choice is not "political maneuvering" or "lobbying"! We are all geographically far from each other. We cannot sit in one big council, meet the candidates, get to know them, talk together with each other and make a decision. When did it become offensive to share information and opinions?
You speak of leaving all choice of candidates for Metropolitan of the OCA to the Holy Spirit. Are we not taught that the Holy Spirit is at work in all of us? Indeed,does the church not teach that we work in synergy with God to do His will in this life, and in working out our salvation for the next? We are remiss and neglectful of our Christian responsibility if we do not enter the discussion to work out the future of our church, the OCA. Is there not the promise that where two or three are gathered in His name that He is in the midst of them? Are you suggesting that we should just gather and remain silent? Doesn't God work in us incarnationally, in and thru us? Not just in and thru bishops, but thru all of us, all of the church? Not only is this something we should do, it's something we must do. Just waiting for the will of the Holy Spirit to fall out of heaven for us sounds more like American Pentacostalism than Holy Orthodoxy! Speaking together helps us to become one mind with Christ. Shouldn't this be our intention?
In my family we grew up with an old saying: "If you don't vote, don't complain". I am, of course, not clergy, nor am I a delegate, so I will not have a vote at the AAC for who will be our next Metropolitan. I don't presume to mention who my choice might be. But I do have a voice and I have and will speak to parish members, priests and bishop about that choice and will encourage others to do the same, both now and in future issues.
Thank you Father, for sharing your opinion. We must all be able to speak together, even when we do not agree. Forgive me if my views are offensive to you. It is not my intention in these comments to endorse or reject any candidate, nor to be disrespectful to you. Our church has waited far too long with too many being too silent concerning too many serious issues and it has not resulted in good health for our church. I pray for a return to good health. I pray that Holy God will give boldness to all priests and delegates at the All American Council , boldness to speak their minds to each other and wisdom to do His will!
Holy Trinity Orthodox Church
Overland Park, Kansas
#23 Theodora on 2008-11-04 10:41
Let's consider Fr. Hopko's proposal of having + Hilarion as Met of the OCA. What would + Hilarion really know about guiding the OCA? Nothing. So of course he would need one or two close advisors to guide him through all the personalities of the OCA and help with church decisions. Who would help him? The people at Syosset aren't really up to snuff. Important church decisions would have to fall on "solid" advisors. A weak King needs someone behind him to help lead. Isn't this what happened with + Theodosius letting RSK to run things? So who would advise + Hilarion? Fr. Hopko maybe? One of Hopko's minions? Someone from the ROC here in America? All in all, a very dangerous road to go down!
#24 Anonymous on 2008-11-04 10:44
Aint’ nobody reading the interview?! As is his name, + Hillarion is making at least two humorous comments. First, he is considering OCA a “silly little sister” who got lost in her game and now needs mommy back to clean up the mess. Second, he is saying that after late Fr. Meyendorff there were no real leaders in the OCA who could be considered adults. Both of these comments should be at least humiliating in the ears of Frs. Hopko and Co. who are proposing Hillarion as the new Metropolitan.
+ Hillarion may be a nice man but one should be at least minimally mindful of the Trojan horse story from “pre-orthodox” Greece. The horse was nice-looking and shiny, it even answered to the Trojans’ religious ideas, but it was something else from within. On the Russian side, there are all indications that willingly or not, + Hillarion is part of a bigger game which involves not just MP but Kremlin. It is no coincidence that reports about him routinely appear on the state-sponsored TV and internet media. (It is like there is no other contemporary composer in Russia but bp. Hillarion of Vienna!) If “SVS celebrities” want to play on this team, fine, but this would be totally alien to the “OCA vision” which they have so masterfully preached to their students in the not so recent past. The argument that +Hillarion has proved to be “an obedient monk and a bishop” (so Fr. Hopko) does not really say who he has been obedient to; but from the interview, the answer doesn’t have to be written on the wall: his allegiance has been, is, and will keep being to Moscow… Com’on, he can’t even say that the Russian way of governing the church is not just uncanonical but is also against the church’s own by-laws (I am referring to the fact that no church-wide council has been convoked since the election of Alexei II)...
If what is proposed now is going to be enforced by the means of the “administrative resource” (= mending the will of the bishops during their round of the council vote, in favor of + Hillarion), all importance of the “OCA experiment” will be lost. And so will be the good-out-of-bad result of the scandal which has demonstrated to the world how an orthodox Christian church can in fact rectify its own errors (i.e. be the church)… I have serious doubts that church officials in MP have a clue why you in the OCA are so passionate about when discussing “only a couple of millions dollars” stolen from the church programs; they must consider you “silly idealistic Americans”. I am not saying there are no honest bishops in the MP, but the current Russian concept of corruption is very different from what you have in the States: everyone is just used to it, especially in the church. How + Hillarion will be in a position to actually “help OCA” when there is such a heavy baggage in his own jurisdiction and country, is beyond my comprehension. One should have interviewed him not about his theological ideas but rather about how he runs the financial affairs of his own diocese and how he actually discloses such information – without this he is still a “cat in a bag.”
One last note: Metrop. Kirill of Smolensk tends to promote his staff for loyalty, not for their academic or musical talents – where is the guarantee that it will be different this time? Nobody has taken him seriously in Orlando when he hinted that a Russian diocese within OCA is long overdue, but now the very same people are waving a “flag” for a Russian primate. Beats me why they are doing this…
#25 Anonymous on 2008-11-04 15:16
Fr. Hopko's letter raises a number of important questions.
1. How would the installation of a foreign bishop as Metropolitan affect Fr. Schmemman's vsion of a church that is "truly Orthodox and truly American" ?
As reported above, Bishop Hilarion was instumental in the schism that resulted in the exile of the English speaking members of the Surozh diocese. Why would Fr Hopko expect a different attitude from Bishop Hilarion, if Hilarion was installed as Primate of the OCA ?
2. How would Hilarion further the cause of Orthodox unity in North America ?
A prior poster noted Hilarion's interest in dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. What wasn't noted was Hilarion's reluctance to dialogue with other Orthodox communities. Last year, Hilarion and his delgation stalked out of an interfaith dialogue because representatives of the Estonian Orthodox Church were present in the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The vast majority of Orthodox Christians in North America are under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Given his antipathy towards the EP, would Bishop Hilarion be the best advocate for unification of the Orthodox in this land?
3. Would Bishop Hilarion further or hinder the principle of conciliarity in the life of the church ?
4. Does Fr. Hopko's proposal, imply that he believes that NONE of his former students are fit to serve as Primate of the OCA ? If so, why ?
5. Would Bishop Hilarion increase or decrease the transparency of the church's financial dealings ? It is instructive to rmember that the recent crisis in the OCA primarily related to funds that were sent (or supposedly sent) to Russia. Can anyone think that the MP did not know what happened to those funds ? Many have decried the rough treatment of Protodeacon Eric Wheeler. We might also recall that Fr Aleksandr Men was murdered with an ax blow to the head for trying to expose corruption in the MP's Sofronino religous goods factory.
6. Qui Bono ? (Who benefits ?) That question was posed on this site many months ago. We may have an answer. Having stood by silently while the OCA floundered, the MP now stands to complete its reconquista of the North American church, a process, first initiated by none other than Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, head of the FSB / KGB, and the murderer of thousands of innocent Orthodox Christians in Georgia.
A few points to ponder.
Best wishes to all in the OCA. May God bless all of you during these important deliberations.
#26 Francis Frost on 2008-11-04 18:48
Dear Francis and others:
The phrase is "CUI bono," not "qui bono," and literally means "to whose good"....which is why it is properly in the dative, not the nominative. Please get it right or don't use it at all. Some of us, who took Latin for six years, actually love the language and hate to see it mangled.
#26.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2008-11-06 07:22
To Fr. Philip,
I think everyone understood what Francis’s point of view was. Maybe instead of worrying how people use Latin You will worry much more how Russian Government try to use not only Russian Church but also churches outside of Russia for their benefit.
Oh, sorry for my English. I know it is not perfect, but I think it is good enough for me to understand what people say and I hope it is good enough for you to understand me.
#26.1.1 Nino on 2008-11-06 15:21
While this is clearly oblique to most of the purposes of ocanews, it's refreshing to be able to discuss something other than toxic personalities and ecclesial chaos!
Ah, Latin! Being the willing victim of a classical education myself, with a degree in classical languages and in slavic languages, I'm delighted to be able to mediate between Francis Frost and Fr Philip Speranza, both very dear to me.
Translating the phrase 'to whose good' into Latin yields cuius bono. The interrogative phrase cui bono is of neuter gender, expressed here in the dative singular forms of quid bonum, and could literally be rendered 'to/for what good (thing)/benefit?'
In a less literal but completely acceptable English translation, we might have something like 'What good is it?' It's a dislocation of meaning to drop in a personal reference, such as we might find in the commonly encountered rendering of cui bono as 'to whose benefit'.
#26.1.2 Monk James on 2008-11-07 06:39
It is interesting that some faculty
of St. Vladimir's Seminary
appear to be championing the
candidacy of Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev.
One assumes that this
advocacy arises from their
reading of Bishop Hilarion's
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
was similarly impressed, but later
is said to have remarked:
"The man who has come is not the man
I knew or expected. If he stays, he
will destroy what I have built up
over fifty years." [Quoted by Gerd
Stricker, "Glaube in der Zweiten Welt",
10 (23) 2002].
Surely this quotation, if genuine,
should be more than enough
to make anyone hesitate. Of course,
Bishop Hilarion's British sojourn was
some time ago, and the Sourozh crisis
ought not be viewed in Manichaean terms.
Nevertheless, it is I think incumbent
upon those who advocate installing
Bishop Hilarion as Metropolitan to
answer the following questions:
1) What guarantee exists that Bishop
Hilarion will not attempt to subordinate
the OCA to the Moscow patriarchate?
2) What guarantee exists that the OCA
under Bishop Hilarion will not become
a spiritual service-organisation for
the Russian diaspora alone?
3) How will Bishop Hilarion act should
the current unfortunate deterioration of
Russian-American relations continue? How
will he keep the OCA from being seen as the
agent of an unfriendly foreign power?
4) Given that Bishop Hilarion's views on
episcopal authority were part of his
difficulty in Britain, how will he react to
the current disillusionment with all bishops
by many in the OCA?
5) Would Bishop Hilarion, whose career
has been played out so conspicuously on
the world stage, be content to spend the
rest of his life as Metropolitan of
America even if the opportunity to become,
say, Patriarch of Moscow, were to be open
to him? Would he see that as a greater
and more desirable office?
Please note that these questions are not
meant to be Russophobic -- I am an admirer
of Russia and am appalled by the rising
tide of anti-Russian sentiment in the West --
nor are they meant to prejudge Bishop Hilarion,
who may well be able to quite adequately
answer them. Nonetheless, until they have
been seriously discussed, it is difficult for me
to see how one could in good conscience vote
It should be added in fairness that much
the same is true of the other proposed
candidates: apart from their personalities,
little is known about them or what they
would do as Metropolitan. How does such
a popularity-contest election differ from
the much-criticised proposal of selection
Perhaps before the AAC this site or some
independent organisation should perform
the same service as does the League of
Women Voters in American secular life, and
present all of the candidates with a questionaire
asking their views on matters of concern to
the Church, both doctrinal and practical.
Norman Hugh Redington
St. Pachomius Library
Hi Norman --
Good questions. Question 5 is particularly important.
Question 4 assumes facts not in evidence -- I think we've heard only partial, maybe even partisan, accounts of his very brief time in England.
And I love the suggestion of vetting these candidates by having them interviewed and understanding not only their personal histories but their vision of the OCA. Unfortunately, today is November 6th and people are getting on planes to go to Pittsburgh this weekend and Monday. Time's run out.
Which brings me back, oh so predictably, to the idea of a three-year caretaker administration during which these kinds of questions can be answered.
#27.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-11-06 03:04
The first and last time I heard Father Thomas Hopko speak in person was about ten years ago at St. Spiridon Cathedral, the main O.C.A. temple in Seattle. Father Thomas's comments were both memorable and unintelligible, which I should probably explain.
You see, the congregation at St. Spiridon's at that time was about 60% or more converts and maybe 40% or less "cradles", of whom less than half were fluent in Russian. And we weren't hiding that fact. Other than a parallel reading of the Epistle in Slavonic, the entire service was in English.
The comments of Father Thomas were made both memorable and unintelligible by his use of one Russian word in each sentence in his talk. He highlighted these Russian words by delivering them with a bit of dramatic flourish - you know the look.
His Russian words seemed to be randomly spread among what should have been subjects and objects and verbs and modifiers, but that didn't make them any more intelligible.
But they clearly made his point.
So, when I hear that Father Thomas Hopko is endorsing a Russian Orthodox Bishop, as our new Metropolitan, I wonder whether that bodes well for the further development of our autocephalous North American Orthodox Church.
#28 Mark Warns, Poulsbo, Washington on 2008-11-05 18:30
The only choice from within the ranks is +Job as his actions have proven he understood his errors and is willing to try and rebuild the trust of the faithful. If it isn't him then it must be someone like +Hilarion. If Seraphim is elected, it will be a disaster. He has, through his own words, told us that it is not in his "personal characteristics" to do anything other than turn a blind's eye when faced with obvious evil. How could someone like this lead?..... I pray that the truth, in all of this, comes to the surface. It won't be until that time, that the OCA will begin to heal. I trust Fr. Hopko's wisdom and motives 100x more than ony one of the Synod.
#29 A concerned orthodox christian on 2008-11-05 19:29
Just to clear things up, I believe it to be very, and extremely, and highly unlikely that +Hilarion would try to take us back to the MP. The OCA is the MP finger in the eye of the EP. They like that finger in the eye, especially if the finger is really strong and pushes hard, and they aren't about to take it out now. Especially not now. We may not like to think very often about the fact that the MP "uses" us and our autocephaly, but they do, and often.
If I may "read between the lines" of +Hilarion's interview it seems that he would, in fact, try to pull ROCOR and MP parishes here in America into the OCA. If we had a Russian Metropolitan, I think the ROCOR and MP parishes might be open to that.
To answer the question of why Hopko and others at SVS haven't suggested one of their own graduates, one can't look simply at SVS for the answer. In the OCA do we encourage bright young men who want to become monks to go to Seminary and then get a PhD? Do we encourage them in their theological and creative endeavors? No, if they try to do these things they are saddled with debts and have little chance of worthwhile employment within the Church, whether it be teaching or composing, or whatever. SVS can only do so much, they are small and have financial problems. They only have the students for three years. The parishes have them for all the other years. If we lack good candidates, lets not cast blame too wide from where it is actually due.
Also, I am puzzled by the angry comments about why SVS is just speaking out when it has been silent for so long. Lest anyone forget, there was a major regime change at SVS just a year ago. The new people are struggling to establish themselves. Also, Fr. Chad, lest we also forget, was vocal about the problems in Alaska from the start, and was much abused by Nikolai because of it. His voice in the OCA is hardly "new" or "sudden."
Also, +Hilarion is not the type of person who would be "guided" by anyone. The biggest reason I think he would be great for the OCA is because he wouldn't be a lame duck, and he would be very hands-on. Who knew it could be so hard to find someone with those traits! +Hilarion wouldn't hide away far from his See. He would be sponsoring events, personally overseeing the business aspects, and bringing the energy to get things done. He would make the OCA a household name in world Orthodoxy. If the EP called a meeting of bishops and didn't invite him, he would be the type to just go show up anyways, because that's what the OCA deserves. In short, he would be a confident leader, both internally and externally.
I agree with +Hilarion, for the past few decades the OCA hasn't done much of anything. It has simply shrunk. I'm tired of seeing our bishops twiddle around with their infightings and intrigues while this happens. With +Hilarion I at least see someone who can bring to the OCA a motivation to reach for achievement. I think that energy scares some people, people on this board, even people on the Synod, and that makes me sad. Even if don't elect +Hilarion as Metropolitan, we should listen to his vision, and be willing to at least hear and understand what he is trying to say. He is trying to offer us support and encouragement, and a way to move forward to growth and stability. We are stupid if we let our own fears throw his offer back into his face.
#30 Anonymous on 2008-11-05 20:52
On election of the new Metropolitan
A response to Fr. Thomas Hopko proposal
The OCA is a local church with its distinctive history. Even while we talk about a crisis in our central administration, we must be conscious of the fact that this very “crisis” testifies to the uniqueness of our church in which clergy and laity are in the position to supervise church affairs and to request the full financial accountability from their bishops and central administration. Ours is the only case within the family of Orthodox churches, as from times immemorial Orthodox bishops have not been accountable to their flocks and priests. Other local churches simply lack governance mechanisms to require and implement the kind of accountability we in the OCA require of our bishops.
The proposal to elect someone outside of the OCA as its metropolitan gives the impression that we are unaware of our own tradition. So let be reminded of the well known facts from our history: The OCA in its development has progressively been around 1) as the Russian-Alaskan mission, for 47 years (1793-1840); 2) the only Orthodox diocese, and then archdiocese, on American continent for 81 years (from 1840 to 1921, the year the Greek archdiocese in North America was incorporated); 3) the only autonomous metropolia in America governed by councils comprising bishops, clergy and laity for 47 years (1924-1971) and 4) the only autocephalous church on this continent for 38 years, - which makes the total 215 years of uninterrupted history. During those years the OCA had seen much worse times than it is living through now, and has survived, and grown into a local church which, having only about 25 000 official members, is known, talked about, and even modeled after, by other Orthodox churches and ecumenical community throughout the world.
Bearing in mind this uniqueness, to consider a cleric from any other local church -be he even a recognized saint, or an outstanding leader and theologian - for the election to the metropolitan see of the OCA would amount to denying our own unique history and character, denying that the Holy Spirit abides and acts in our church, catholic and apostolic, and denying America the right of having its own local Orthodox church.
The proposal to elect a bishop of the ROC who has had no experience of the American church situation in general and of the OCA in particular, seems ecclesiastically irresponsible. It arises, apparently, from our feeling of insecurity and naïve and factually incorrect conviction that other churches are in a better state to provide candidates for our own church leadership that we ourselves are. As far as my experience goes, I must confess that the OCA is the only Orthodox church in which I feel totally secure both as an individual believer and as a pastor of an Orthodox congregation. Significantly my parishioners of Russian and Ukranian background, born and raised in the Soviet Union like myself, were those most alarmed by Fr. Hopko’s letter - to the extend that they strongly urged me to write this response to it.
Let us remember that in traditional Orthodox countries, bishops lack the unique American, in particular the OCA, experience of running the church together with laity and parish clergy, and not over them. Neither do we depend on any state’s secular over-riding of our internal church affairs – the case with Orthodox churches in old countries, Russia included. All this makes it imperative that the next primate of the OCA, a bishop whom we want to see as an able administrator with respect to our own very specific American way of church freedom, would have ample experience in the practice of
lay and clergy participation in decision making and caring for the church on all levels. He therefore must come from our own OCA ranks. We must be looking for our own local candidate who will be able to respect, guard, maintain, and develop our own tradition of bishops’ team working with the metropolitan council, diocesan assemblies, parish councils, not to mention our regularly convened All-American councils. Such is our way of life, the very air we breathe. If we have brought something unique to the family of Orthodox churches, it is this very counciliar tradition.
The founding fathers of our church, aware of this uniqueness of the American situation, established our own system of theological education (three seminaries), to provide candidates for clergy and hierarchs of our own church in order not to import them from abroad. This proposal seems particularly wrong coming from the former professor and dean of St. Vladimir Seminary. For the particular reason that Fr. Hopko’s letter serves as the poorest possible promotion for our own theological education, I suggest that he withdrew it. For who is going to pay for this education if the former dean of our leading theological school openly acknowledges its failure to produce a suitable candidate for the job of the metropolitan, and proposes someone who was educated elsewhere?
I must assure Fr. Thomas, my former professor, whom I hold in deep respect and esteem, that by his proposal he exceeded reasonable measure of humility. The education at St. Vlad’s that he, together with the seminary staff, provided was not that poor after all. Quite a few of his former students will do the job of the metropolitan, and I trust that the Holy Spirit will help us to find the right one at the upcoming All-American Council.
Archpriest Michael A. Meerson, Christ the Savior Orthodox church in NYC, PhD in Theology.
#31 Fr. Michael A. Meerson on 2008-11-06 06:04
Dear Fr. Michael,
Re: "For the particular reason that Fr. Hopko’s letter serves as the poorest possible promotion for our own theological education, I suggest that he withdrew it. For who is going to pay for this education if the former dean of our leading theological school openly acknowledges its failure to produce a suitable candidate for the job of the metropolitan, and proposes someone who was educated elsewhere? I must assure Fr. Thomas, my former professor, whom I hold in deep respect and esteem, that by his proposal he exceeded reasonable measure of humility. The education at St. Vlad’s that he, together with the seminary staff, provided was not that poor after all."
On the contrary, Fr. Thomas' letter was very much an exercise in a humility that should serve the OCA well in the future.
The last time I saw/heard Fr. Thomas, he was giving a talk on the Holy Spirit. As he spoke of what characterizes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a person's life, I suddenly realized that he was reciting practially verbatim whole passages from a book that I just finished reading, 'Orthodox Psychotherapy', by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos. This book was given to me for assigned reading by a Greek Orthodox monk about two months earlier. I found it to be hard going, so I eagerly awaited Fr. Thomas' delineation of this work for me, the layman. As he spoke, certain members of his audience began to fidget and look confused. At the end of the talk, an audience member asked, "You've told us what it is like to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but HOW do we get filled in this way?" Indeed, the talk was about "signs and wonders" so to speak, but nothing about the ascetical path to that state. Basically, the talk ended with, "Good question, but we're out of time."
Lucky for me, I was going to the monastery the following week, so that the Geronda could explain it all to me.
My point? Father, you wrote, "The education at St. Vlad’s that he, together with the seminary staff, provided was not that poor after all."
Yes, not "that poor" especially if the works of Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos were on the syllabus. But how rich was this education in actual experience of what was being taught?
As Metropolitan Kallistos is so fond of teaching, "If we are climbing a mountain for the first time, we need to follow a known route; and we also need to have with us, as companion and guide, someone who has been up before and is familiar with the way."
I believe that Fr. Thomas is very much aware of the limits of the educational potentials within the OCA and sees in Bishop Hilarion, "somone who has been up before and familiar with the way."
#31.1 Anonymous on 2008-11-06 17:28
Ones a young priestmonk in russia was asked by a priest from OCA why are you not working at the external affaires at the Moskow Patriarchate when you studied overseas and your english es outstanding he replyed to work there you have to work also with the russian secret service. According to Him all those who are assined overseas are entrusted and anoited sosns of that service.
Wake up what you wish apon you, you will regret it. In less then 10 years you will not have OCA and the guy is ambittious he wants to see himself as patriarch of Moskow he will accept now everything to do this after he will bring his accolite to replace all the american bishops, maybe the OCA deserves it .
#32 Anonymous on 2008-11-06 09:12
Our recent posting to the St Vladimir's Seminary website of an interview with His Grace, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, has provoked much and intense discussion: this is good!
Bishop Hilarion was already being discussed as a candidate for the position of Metropolitan of the OCA, and in order to raise this discussion to a serious and informed level, we conducted an interview with His Grace, soliciting his views on a wide range of topics, concerning Orthodoxy in the West, in America, and the place and role of the OCA, for his thoughts on such matters are not widely known. Regardless of his candidacy for Metropolitan (about which there are widely disparate views), His Grace is an important person in world Orthodoxy and has much to say that we can benefit from hearing, not least his comment that the autocephaly of the OCA should not, and indeed cannot, be revoked, for the role and vision of the OCA is too important.
Providing space for such comments had led to a more serious and informed discussion, and as such it has been of service. St Vladimir's Seminary has always stood for serious discussion of the issues of the day.
To those who have been offended by our posting, or have misapprehended it as an institutional endorsement of the Seminary, we apologize. We ask, however, that prayerful, open-minded and serious discussion be encouraged and supported, as the only proper and possible way to reach a consensus.
Archpriests John Behr and Chad Hatfield
The Martyrs Galacteon and his wife Epistime at Emesa
November 5, 2008
#33 Anonymous on 2008-11-06 09:26
It is always nice to hear from important people. It keeps the unimportant enlightened. I do thank the important people from St. Vladimir's for their enlightenment about another very important person. To which I must add, only the prayerless, closed-minded and frivilous could have been offended by their posting. Apology accepted.
#33.1 Anonymous on 2008-11-06 10:24
A most excellent reply.
#33.1.1 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-11-06 15:02
Dear Fathers John and Chad,
In the same spirit of encouraging more informed and serious discussions, would you please
(a) publish a list of possible candidates to the office of Metropolitan (with short bios if available) in and out of OCA but native to North America, and
(b) also interview +Basil of Wichita.
#33.2 carl on 2008-11-08 18:18
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