Monday, March 9. 2009
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I find this to be a lot about nothing. Met. Philip has always been in full control of the AOCA. For diocese bishops to think that their authority could not be questioned and reviewed by Met. Philip is strange indeed. He is the first hierarch of the Antiochians in America; what's not to be understood?
If + Mark has stepped on toes which has resulted in issues, then maybe he should be transferred. Micro-managing diocese is not an effecient way to manage, but maybe necessary at times.
#1 Anonymous on 2009-03-09 10:48
Micro managing is NEVER necessary (Management 101)
#1.1 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2009-03-09 12:51
Permit me expand on my terse reply. Here you have the classic management mistake of responsibility without authority. I've had to deal with it in my business life. It doesn't work, and it will fail the AOC in America as well.
#1.1.1 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2009-03-09 16:59
MARK ... AS AN antiochian laymen PARISH council member you have hit it on the HEAD!!! nothing left out and CORRECT. most clergy paralyzed by MET p. threat to destroy them if opposed. TOO MANY CLOSE TO RETIREMENT AND THE FACT OF LOSING THEIR 4800. mo housing allowance as it is NOT VESTED, OPEN TO met P'S PREROGATIVE. there is NO PENSION FUND IN THE aocc as in the GREEK & OCA. So much for care of the clergy!. neighboring PRIEST CANNOT RETIRE AND CANNOT AFFORD TO. fORMER aeom WERE "CRUSHED" WHEN THEY OPPOSED fR aLLEN'S MARRAIGE TO HIS FORMER cOUNCIL cHAIRMEN'S wife. Fear rules and the Bishops demoted suffer. Keep on speaking the TRUTH!!
#1.2 anonymous on 2009-03-09 13:17
Printing correction (mine) it is $ 800. a mo. housing allowance. No, no pension plan in the AOC. Met P did'nt want to encumber the local parish council to put up 5% to match clergy 5%. Hope AOC clergy-laity will write in to support the good Bishops as they have no avenue to protest barring punishment by Englewood - who prefers to live in Florida all Lent "resting".
#1.2.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-09 23:11
Dear Mark Stokoe, Thank you, thank you, tank you. We love our church and pray for Orthodox unity. But the house must be swept and cleaned. Please keep up the good work. As you will note the vast majority of comments appreciate what you are doing. Only a few do not. Certainly we want no one hurt or to fall away. Much of the garbage our younger clergy and many laity have been protected from and no one would want to scandalize them. Sadly, Metropolitan Philip & his goons have gone too far and at the risk of scandalizing the tender in faith we must also guard the faith. It is obvious the perpretrators are trying to shut this dialogue down, but let the light shine and they will finally be revealed as nothing more than white washed sulpechres full of dead mens bone (and their money). Metropolitan Philip needs this pressure as did +Herman and +Spyridon. Certainly there was turmoil for each ecumenical council, but we must safe guard the Holy Tradition of the Church, and its Holy Canons, as well as protect the innocent. Obviously we have kept our muths shut too long. How many innocent priests suffered and nothing was done. May God forgive us. Thank you, Thank You, Thank You! Do not be deterred!
#1.2.2 anonymous on 2009-03-15 04:59
I was Antiochian in the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest before I moved to the OCA (Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest) early last year. Bp. Mark is a truly prayerful, gentle man. He is thoughtful and listens. He is considered by many I've talked to to be one of the "better" Antiochian bishops, cut in the mold of +Basil. It was well-known that the "old guard" Arabs at his cathedral in Toledo treated him shamefully from day one. The "old guard" Arab priests in the Detroit area are in largely ethnic Arab parishes, that are pretty much Sunday only. So, when +Mark comes in - the ONLY Antiochian convert bishop - with wanting them to serve Great Vespers on Saturday and observe the fasts, they got their knickers in a big twist.
THAT is why they wanted to take +Mark down. Shame on them! It's a sad mess. I had re-added +Mark to my prayer list several weeks ago without quite knowing why, aside from a gut feeling. The poor man. I'm angry about the whole situation, as I still have a great many friends in the Antiochian Archdiocese.
#1.3 Michele Hagerman on 2009-03-09 16:15
As an OCA priest on loan and serving under Bishop MARK, I would like to "second" your commending comments toward His Grace. He is a good bishop. Bishop JOB is good and Bishop MARK is good. Bishop MARK cares deeply for his diocese, or now, the administrative duties as an auxiliary. He is prayerful and forthright. We would all do well to have such bishops over us.
That might be true if the Antiochian Archdiocese were a single diocese with one diocesan bishop and a number of auxiliary bishops assisting him within in his diocese, as was the case before 2003. But in 2003, the Antiochian Archdiocese trumpeted its acquisition of "self-ruling" status and its reorganization into a number of actual dioceses headed by diocesan bishops, forming a synod with a primate (first hierarch) at its head. By orthodox ecclesiology and the canons of the Church, all bishops are equal, and no bishop can do anything in another bishop's diocese without the blessing of that diocese's bishop -- not even a primate, whose role is to chair the synod of bishops from neighboring dioceses on a specified patch of geography, precisely as "first among equals," not as a "super-bishop" or "bishop over bishops." In turn, a bishop is to do nothing of consequence without the consensus of his primate and his synod, and the primate is to do nothing of consequence without the consensus of his brother bishops in his synod. Their relationship is reciprocal. Consider Apostolic Canon 34, Apostolic Canon 35, Apostolic Canon 37 and Canon 35 of the first Council of Nicaea, for example.
#1.4 Gregory on 2009-03-09 16:52
You are absolutely correct! What the Pat. of Antioch did was made it clear that + Philip was fully in charge. Apparently, some diocesan bishops must have tried to pull more than one end run. Having a chief hierarch where the "buck ends here" is a good thing!
#1.4.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-10 05:33
Greg, You are absolutely right. MP regarded himself as a father to the synod of bishops, not an older brother. The bishops wre not allowed to act as diocesan bishops without being undermined by MP because he simply cannot let go of his power. Even when the bishops were simply trying to implement his(Mp) own policies, they were undermined, especially when it came to his inner circle. This could have worked with the right metropolitan. The diocesan bishops were unified and want to maintain the unity of the archdiocese. It was MP who pushed them away as there is no room for an EQUAL.
#1.4.2 anonymous on 2009-03-10 07:46
Interesting to note --- the Board of Trustees has always been a rubber stamp for the Metropolitan's agendas. Anyone who disagreed simply did not get re-elected or re-appointed. It was not about powere, it was about prestege. To say I am somebody. To disagree with the Metropolitan is to be disloyal! Verbal Loyalty is everything (actions are not as important as words). The local synod however, wanted to act as a legitimate synod and discuss matters and vote, *as they should*. Obviously Metropolitan Philip was always used to getting his way and now he had bishops who could have opinions of their own. God Forbid. If he wanted them to think for themselves he would have given them a brain of their own!
#188.8.131.52 anonymous on 2009-03-16 06:31
Contrary to what some suggest without any substantiation whtsoever, the Diocesan Bisops were not and are not the problem! Even as diocesan bishops they continued to defer to MP because they knew he was old and change is difficult. (He will notlive forever, no matter what he believes.) MP simply refused to answer their phone calls. He treated them as altar boys with the ability to Ordain when given permission. Shame on him. He had is sercreatry or administrative assistants take calls from the bishops and give answers on his behalf. Then he would change his mind without discussing it with his own staff or the diocesan bishop. He allowed clergy to be abusive to the bishops and undermined discipline. In fact he validated them rather than the diocesan bishops. He allowed certain emigrant clergy known as the Balamand Glee Club to continuously undermine their bishops in order to humilate and demoralize them. He allowed bishops to enter diocese and ordain without the knowledge of the diocesan bishop, for which the ordained and the bishop who ordained could be deposed. The canons exist to provide Order within the Church. MP maintains he wants order and uniformity but blatantly thumbs his nose at the canons by his decisions. If he and the Holy Synod of Antioch would follow the canons there would be UNIFORMITY AND ORDER WITHIN THE ARCHDIOCESE. ....it is time for MP to retire as he no longer exhibits good judgement on behalf of the whole church.
#1.4.3 anonymous on 2009-03-11 19:37
I do not think any of the clergy or faithful from the Diocese of Toledo would ever accuse Bp MARK of micro-managing, only someone who did not get their way. Perhaps you have an axe to grind?
#1.5 anonymous on 2009-03-10 06:35
The title of this website is OCA News. We have prayed fervently for healing in your Archdiocese and have not meddled in your affairs. Please have the common courtesy to return the favor.
(Editor's note: If your neighbor's house is on fire, it is not "meddling" to report that fact. I neither suggested any course of action, nor disparaged any, which could be construed as "meddling" - although such presupposes we all live in isolation from each other. Perhaps we do. So much for all those protestations of unity and oneness last Sunday, as we held aloft all those icons.... Pity.
Please know that many in the OCA are praying for healing in the Archdiocese. )
#2 An Antiochian on 2009-03-09 11:04
Many American Orthodox belong to a variety of jurisdictions depending on where we live-- one town has an Antiochian parish, so when we live there we're Antiochian. But then we move to a town where the local parish is Greek or OCA, and so we become Greek or OCA.
I have belonged to all three of the major American jurisdictions, and troubles in any of these Churches are troubles in my Church.
So I commend Mark for not restricting his commentary to issues within only one of the American Orthodox Churches. It's not a fire in my neighbor's house: we live in the same house.
#2.1 American Orthodox on 2009-03-09 12:09
As an OCA priest on loan to the Antiochians, I concur. A problem in either, or even a debate or concern in either, is a cause for concern for American Orthodox in general. We shouldn't try to fix something outside of our sphere of influence, but we should take notice and pray and if we have a sphere of influence, do something. Important news in any jurisdiction affects us all.
I am currently in an OCA parish, but have participated in the past in the founding of other OCA and Antiochian missions. In my mind, if we truly care about the health of the ORTHODOX Church that is in America, then our care for our brothers and sisters should and must transcend these false jurisdictional walls. Sadly, it appears that most of Orthodoxy is still stuck in a medieval notion of relationship that I believe has never been Gods will, no matter how many pious sounding words and practices we faulty human beings try and wrap around those ideas in our sin of pride. They are an unnecessary obstacle of stubborn human origins, not desired by our Lord, who prayed that we may all be one as the Persons of God in Trinity are One. I am saddened by this ill advised step backwards from the venerable Antioch. We expect better. We hope for better. The world awaits our example, but must settle for excusing the bad behavior and looking elsewhere for leadership.
#184.108.40.206 Anon. on 2009-03-09 20:18
"No man is an island," and neither are any of our "jurisdictions" in America. We must resist the temptation to think of our "jurisdiction," to the exclusion of others, as "the Church" in its totality. All of our "jurisdictions" are part of one Church in America, even if they are living in sinful, uncanonical and unhealthy disunity from one another. So if something happens in one jurisdiction, Orthodox Americans in the other jurisdictions ought to care and show concern, because it's affecting part of what is their Church too. "In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others" (Romans 12:4) and "its [the body's] parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it" (1 Corinthians 12:25-26). So we must "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15), for our brothers' and sisters' misfortune is our own. It's time for Orthodox Christian Americans to think beyond "jurisdiction" and start thinking in terms of "Church."
#2.2 Gregory on 2009-03-09 18:24
I understand everyone's comment here and I do respect where you are coming from. However, when the basic facts are wrong (e.g. +THOMAS being confused for a different Bishop,) this is a serious problem. I understand that you are trying to be a whistle blower and maybe there is a place for that, but the internet does not seem to be the correct forum.
It is not the case of your neighbor's house burning, the AOC will survive, it is the case of you disagreeing with your neighbor's political views and gossiping about them to everyone.
I do not think that problem's should be swept under the rug and it is only a feeling, but it seems to me that some people have smelled blood in the water and want to clean everyone's house for them. This is a canonical issue and as such, needs to be handled by those that are ordained to interpret the canons- the Bishops. They all need our prayers.
I could very well be wrong and perhaps should not have even said anything, but while I have agreed with much of what has been written on this website, I disagree with the methodology, and have found that too much time on it is bad for my salvation in the judgmental attitude that it fosters in me.
Forgive me, this will be my last post.
#2.2.1 An Antiochian on 2009-03-10 10:54
As one who was baptized in the Antiochian Archdiocese, but now resides in the OCA, I for one am happy to have Mark report this tragedy. Without his reporting I'd have no way to know this was even happening. As many others have pointed out, in spite of administrative separateness, we are all one Church, and we should act as one Church, praying for and supporting each other. If we see ourselves as living in separate "houses" the fire in our neighbour's house is a fire in the house of a member of the family, not that of a stranger, making it personally all the more significant.
#2.3 Virginia Harrison on 2009-03-12 20:55
I'm confused, why are you reading this website? You don't want us to be involved in your affairs, yet, how long have you been reading here? How much do you know about our troubles, that you would have only known from reading this site? Yet, we are not to know about yours? Hmm,,,
I pray for the unification of all jurisdictions in this country, so that we may get along as Americans, not scattered ethnic groups with outside interference.
#2.4 Dianne Combs on 2009-03-13 05:18
It has been reported, more than a year ago, that Metropolitan Philip attempted to betray the self-rule that he, himself, initiated. But, an anonymous email circulated throughout the Archdiocese, detailing his intent to undermine his own creation, sabotaged his plan - at that time. Not deterred by that setback, he was able to raise $3 million for the Patriarch last fall...
And lo, and behold, he gets something he denies ever asking for. It has long been spoken that historically money has been used to buy favors from Damascus. Does anyone seriously believe anything happens in the Holy Synod of Antioch without +Philip's approval? After all, the North American Church has more clergy than the rest of the Patriarchate PUT TOGETHER - and certainly more Arab millionaries who bankroll what the Metropolitan wants. Like the old saying: " He who has the most money makes the rules". There's good Orthodox theology!
Although crafting an affable, sensible, father-like image, Metropolitan Phlip has also ruled like "Ivan the Terrible" through intimidation, spite and vengence - just ask thouse who opposed his canonically corrupt pardon of Joseph Allen years ago.
It has been related that the Bishops in North America presently have no recourse as the $3 million gift removes the Holy Synod of Antiochi as a place for a fair hearing. Metropolitan Philip, who again, has a history of holding the Holy Synod hostage until he gets what he wants, now suddenly maintains that the Holy Synod is the highest authority in the Church? When did he start to believe that? It is a heresy! The highest authority is the Holy Spirit, who works through a variety of manifestations, i.e. the canons, Scripture, Litrugy, hymnography, icons, Bishops, Saints, Synods, Priests, Deacons, monastics ( whom +Philip shuns) and LAITY. There have been councils once convened as ecumenical, but later rejected. To quote the late Fr. Georges Florovsky, "Scripture is not in the words, but in the understanding."
Thank God that the despairing OCA faithful over the past several years have resisted the temptation to seek refuge with the Antiochians. In a twist of irony, the Antiochian laity need to take a page from the OCA laity and speak up with indignation. They need to resolve not to accept corruption in their Church administration. When Bishops fail the Church as in the Council of Lyon, and the Council of Florence, was it not the LAITY that rescued the Church? Even Metropolitan Philip has been quoted numbers times as saying that the Church is not the Bishop alone, or the priest alone, but the Bishop, priest and laity together. For the good of Orthodoxy in America, the good Antiochian faithful must not tolerate this kind of tryanny in the guise of hierarchical leadership.
It took one hierarch, some courageous priests and a number of dedicated laypeople with a backbone to save the OCA. The question is, are there any Antiochians Orthodox Christians with such backbone? Are there not canons against decisions made for financial gain? I believe it is called the sin of simony.
Metropolitan Philip closed his informational letter on the decision of the Holy Synod by taking the "opportunity to wish you the blessing and spiritual reward of this Great Lent". I am appalled that such gracious words are so contradicted by actions which defy Orthodox ecclesiology, not to mention basic Christian ethics and decency.
May the Lord save his Holy Church from those who ascribe honor to themselves at the expense of His Gospel and His people.
#3 Anonymous Antiochian on 2009-03-09 11:06
You are totally correct in your estimation and sizing up of the archdiocese.
In the early years of my priesthood, I often served "on-loan" to the Antoichian Archdiocese and it was generally a rather pleasant experience, but it became apparent very early on that it's always 'the metropolitan's way or the highway!' and no decent, no matter how respectful is tolerated EVER! It is very much 'a one man's show.' I was also surprised when the metropolitan used ONLY Arabic during his portion of the services for Holy and Great Week, even though the parish where we were serving has had all English services for over a hundred years! So for the 'Twelve Gospels' (Matins of Great Friday): I took six in English and the metropolitan took ALL six of his in Arabic and Holy Week continued in this manner for four days. He spoke rarely and then only in Arabic to the rector. The Antiochians often even out do the Russians in this country in their ethnic pride! No get me wrong, there are MANY wonderful things about this man and many creative and interesting ideas he has, but in terms of authority, the Antiochian Archdiocese is rather like a 'black hole'...and the sooner one learns to spout the 'metropolitan's line'---the better.
But Brother---have no fear because the Lord can and will 'transfer' even the metropolitan (we hope and pray!) into his "patriarchate in the Kingdom" one of these days in the not too distant future; His work is never empeded for long! Be patient and wait on the Lord! His is NEVER outdone in generosity!
In Him Who calls us,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#3.1 Fr. Pius on 2009-03-09 14:03
Dear Antiochians brothers and sisters in Christ - we are with you as you fight for freedom in the Holy Spirit. The Lord is doing His work in all the Orthodox Churches and will have the final word. Keep the faith!
#3.2 Rich on 2009-03-09 19:05
Thank you Mark, for taking this on and "helping a brother out." Its ironic that the church of St. Ignatius has ditched his ecclesiology and adopted a Roman Catholic model.
Please pray for us, as we have for you.
#4 anonymous on 2009-03-09 11:40
Mister Trouble never hangs around
When he hears this Mighty sound.
"Here I come to save the day"
That means that Mighty Mouse is on his way.
Yes sir, when there is a wrong to right
Mighty Mouse will join the fight.
On the sea or on the land,
He gets the situation well in hand.
(Editor's Note: Is this a reference to OCANEWS.org? Oh well, it beats Devil.com, or Satan.org., or any of the other names thrown out in the past 3.5 years....)
#5 Anonymous on 2009-03-09 12:52
We have an opening and a need for a man like you in Alaska.
#6 PDN George on 2009-03-09 13:12
My sentiment exactly. Apparently there just came an announcement of scheduled “celebratory de-enthronement ceremonies” for the Antiochian bishops. (Does it get any more bizarre?) Perhaps, we could just de-de-enthrone them into the OCA?
In all seriousness, this is insanity. What does it mean for one bishop to be the point of all reference for all other bishops? Isn’t this essentially the Roman Catholic model of episcopacy? Could other Orthodox jurisdictions tolerate this situation if it is a grave violation of our ecclesiology? If +Philip’s decree defies the Orthodox ecclesiology then it is hardly an Antiochian-internal matter.
As for the letter of the Toledo priests, it is just sickening. I am sorry to see our Antiochian brothers and sisters endure this surely painful ordeal that +Philip brought in on his flock, especially at this time of Great Lent.
#6.1 Karina Ross on 2009-03-09 16:42
There has been no such "de-enthronement" announcement made. It was merely a bad joke made by someone on a chat forum.
#6.1.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-09 18:14
And there were some in the OCA thinking that the Antiochian Archdiocese would be the saviour of the OCA. Well it appears with all the OCA troubles, we are still the only Orthodox Church in the United States that is self-ruled and has no foreign bishop to answer to. We are able to elect an American Metropolitan, who is a convert. And we do have a synod of bishops that can ordain men on our American soil without the permission of a foreign bishop. I wish no trouble or harm to our Orthodox brothers and sisters, but I am certainly glad to be in the OCA.
#7 anonymous on 2009-03-09 13:21
Your analysis very comprehensive and on point. I wonder if this could be nothing weightier than an old man's last ditch effort to perfect his life's work before he departs this world. It may be that his character and habits (and perhaps a keen sense of how much time he has left) are such that Metropolitan Phillip became inpatient with the developments in the various dioceses and used the Gordian Knot approach rather than working it out.
Trying to see a "half full" aspect in this rather dismaying affair.
#8 Carl on 2009-03-09 14:32
Isn't this the opposite direction that +Jonah wants to take with the OCA, to give more self-direction to each diocese?
This all becomes all the more wearisome because we have three large Orthodox churches here in America.
It seems to me we remain fractioned enough as one Orthodox entity to witness to America.
Interesting developments in the Antiochian Archdiocese.
#9 Patty Schellbach on 2009-03-09 14:36
Just a response that might help us all keep things in perspective. We actually do not have three "large" Orthodox jurisdictions in this country, but three very small and, in regards to the wider population of America, insignificant Orthodox jurisdictions in this country. As the late Roman Catholic priest, Richard Neuhaus said "The influence of the Orthodox on the American culture is so small as to be irrelevant."
It is time we Orthodox confess the reality of our situation in America by admitting that even at our most optimistic numbers we are less than 1% of the population. Events that occur in our little communities are not even noticed by the wider population, and slightly less even within the American religious world. We are not a significant presence in this country in regards to influence or witness. the only place this is not true is in the resurgence of Orthodox theological witness, which is gaining more and more influence in theological circles.
As an Orthodox convert, I have often lamented the lack of influence and effect we Orthodox have on America, but now I consider it something of a blessing. Until we collectively decide whether we are going to be small "boutique" religious museums, or actually the Body of Christ in this country, it might be a postive thing to be "the best kept secret" in America.
That being said, I am also convinced this is the most exciting time to be Orthodox since we are witnessing the "death throws" of a failed and dying ideology concerning the Church, and in the aftermath of this fortunate funeral we will see the Faith shine like never before from this continent.
So, let the shaking come so that those things that cannot be shaken may remain.
#9.1 Barnabas on 2009-03-10 04:54
I don't think we need to be concerned about our relative size. Our Lord started with 12 frightened, frail, and very fallible followers. I think of the example of bread: the largest ingredient is flour, with just a small amount of yeast. But that tiny amount of yeast leavens the whole loaf.
#9.1.1 Morton on 2009-03-10 08:42
I liked your comments. I do hope it will be a "new day" for Orthodoxy in America; perhaps it is no surprise that this "new day" has to happen with so much pain; the pain of working through and weading out power-mongering to actually get to a place of --- dare I say it --- cooperation! What a concept!
It has been very wearisome for quite some time for me and my OCA husband to try to interact with so many Orthodox jurisdictions. It has been a blessing but also a curse because we have three administrations. We live in an area that needs an Orthodox priest but the parish wants him to be "Greek." And who supports this? The bishop.
The bishops must rise above ethnicity and work for the Holy Spirit.
But in reflections such as Ken Tobin's below, when will this happen?
It has taken reactive tragedy upon tragedy to get us to where the Orthodox really need to be, in a better state of purity and accountability, rather than taking peaceful, meaningful, proactive discussions within three jurisdictions.
I think we have been witnesing the "traffic-light" phenonmenon within the Orthodox churches in America; the officials do not put up the common sense traffic light until about 10 people have died at the intersection!
Where are the proactive discussions or, should I dare say, the ecumenical councils that should be taking place within the Orthodox world, including the Patriarch of Constantinople, our "First Among Equals."
The recent events within the Antiochian Archdiocese do not seem to bode well that the Orthodox in the world will ever reach an attainment of cooperation that the Holy Trinity so perfectly proclaims each and every moment for our salvation.
It takes synergy and cooperation between the divine and human. I am an optimist, but it might be the "traffic light phenomenon" that helps us get there.
But I REALLY want to be proven wrong about that! Please, folks, prove me wrong! We have had enough trajedy in the OCA, let alone the Orthodox world at large.
#9.1.2 Patty Schellbach on 2009-03-10 08:59
"Where are the proactive discussions or, should I dare say, the ecumenical councils that should be taking place within the Orthodox world, including the Patriarch of Constantinople, our "First Among Equals." "
Patty - As I understand it, an Orthodox Ecumenical Council is in the first stages of planning. If you read the EP's address to the recent convocation of Patriarchs and Metropolitans you will see that it appears that he is pushing for them to resolve the non-canonical jurisdictional problem in North America. So perhaps there is some hope.
(Editor'snote: The "first stage" of planning for a forthcoming Council began in the early 1970's. Those published materials are all still available. That is almost 40 years of a "first step". At this rate, we must begin to train the next generation to continue "the first step". )
#220.127.116.11 Michael Strelka on 2009-03-11 06:09
The bishops do not want to give up their kingdoms. You can see that especially with +Phillip's most recent announcement. The Patriarchates want their money from America to keep them afloat--especially Constantinople and the Middle East. I have heard their are more Christians in America than in the Middle East.
#18.104.22.168 anonymous on 2009-03-11 07:35
First law of orthodynamics in America, unity is neither created nor destroyed, just transferred from one jurisdiction to another.
(Editor's note: This is not only clever, but very profound. More, please!
#9.2 anon on 2009-03-11 07:14
Many, many thanks to you for shining the light of day on this mess. This whole thing stinks, and I hope you'll see this one through as well as you helped bring the OCA's problems to a head. I don't envy you the task, but there is Biblical and Church precedent for some of the Church's members to act as "essential parts" that perform the "dishonourable functions." Perhaps the sickness can be purged quickly-- a 24 hour bug, if you will, rather than ecclesiastical diverticulitis. God willing, you won't have to change the name of your website to aocnews.org . . .
This concerns the whole Church profoundly. Are we, indeed, to have a church in which "Met. Philip has always been in full control of the AOCA. For diocese bishops to think that their authority could not be questioned and reviewed by Met. Philip is strange indeed. He is the first hierarch of the Antiochians in America; what's not to be understood?" If so, I might suggest that the AOC consider Pope Benedict XVI a strong candidate to succeed Met. PHILIP, as the theology appears to be already in place. For that matter, elect the Pope as the next Patriarch of Antioch!
This is the stuff of strong heresy that properly enthroned and ordained bishops can supposedly be deposed simply by another group of ecclesiologically-equal bishops saying so.
We Antiochians should be down on our knees imploring the Lord and His Mother that God intervene and take care of the situation before it gets more out of hand than Met. PHILIP has already made it.
With heavy heart: Appalled Antiochian
#10 Appalled Antiochian on 2009-03-09 15:08
What we need is an American Church that understands Americans. I love Metropolitcan PHILIP and though I wish there was an American, Canadian, or Mexican born Metropolitan here in North America He will do just fine.
I hope Orthodoxy doesn't find itself in the position of the continuing Anglican jurisdictions on this continent.
#11 David Lemont on 2009-03-09 15:19
Thank you, Mr Stokoe. Please continue to publish the truth. I encourage senior priests in the Antiochian Archdiocese to continue feeding you the truth about this situation. It's unfortunate, but Antiochian priests must be discreet when opposing this decision or they will pay a heavy price. Most of our priests would be willing to do this personally, but they have wives and children, not to mention parishioners who need them.
I would add to this comprehensive article that the main driving force behind this decision is so that Bp MARK can be moved out of his current diocese. It is rumored that +PHILIP already tried to move +MARK, but the diocesan bishops stood up against +PHILIP, noting that +MARK was consecrated as the bishop of Toledo and the Midwest. While such a move might be personally beneficial to +MARK (he would be much better received in the Pacific Northwest, where he is rumored to be transferred), it would be detrimental to the church because it would simply re-inforce the wicked behavior of some of +MARK's priests who have +PHILIP's ears (including, of course, the four priests who showed how pathetic they are in writing about being 'under captivity' the past four years under +MARK).
The problem with +MARK? It's simple. +MARK simply tried to enforce the edicts issued by +PHILIP that +PHILIP never tried to enforce on his 'buddies' (e.g., holding a full cycle of Sunday services, not using gambling to subsidize the parish's budget). In addition, +MARK tried to crack down on various things going on in the Midwest: communing Muslims; allowing Muslims to be on parish councils; holding gambling events to help support the church, etc.
To those who think this is simply a 'racial' issue or an issue of 'convert' vs. 'cradle,' they are wrong. This is more of an issue of 'American' priests and old-world, 'old-guard' priests. In other words, most Arabic priests whose families have been in America for a generation or more--even many who are more recent immigrants--are largely opposed to this power play of +PHILIP's. His only supporters are priests who immigrated around the same time as +PHILIP and view him as their tribal leader (this is a term that many Arabic priests have used themselves in reference to +PHILIP and how these old-guard priests view him--I do not mean this in a deragatory way myself).
Interestingly, +PHILIP has spent his entire episcopate trying to teach these priests how to be American, how to fit into America and the American religious scene. Unfortunately, he is still trying to do this with his priests. Ironically, most of them ARE American and have been their entire life. Their families have been in America for centuries! The reality is that +PHILIP has lost touch of his Archdiocese and has lost touch of America in the 21st century. I remember +ANTOUN saying recently (and this is also representative of +PHILIP's thought): "If you have a long beard and long hair, the Americans think you are a hippy." Wake up!!! It's not 1970 anymore! But maybe they are living like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day"!
Regarding the first person's comment: remember that, canonically, the diocesan bishops are not to do anything without the Metropolitan, but the Metropolitan likewise is not to act unilaterally against the Synod. In other words, the Metropolitan is not God--he has limits placed on him canonically and is also accountable to others on this earth. Even if that were not the case, the Metropolitan is not above the canonical, regular functioning of the Church--as Basil reminded +PHILIP, he too pledged allegiance to the canons, which he has grossly violated on numerous occasions, not the least of which is this latest decision.
Moreover, most of what +PHILIP complains about is rather minor. For example, he does not like that +JOSEPH and +BASIL allow or encourage cassocks, fuller liturgical services, etc. The reality is that these priests and churches were doing the same thing when +PHILIP was their bishop and +JOSEPH and +BASIL were auxiliaries. If I were a betting person, like the people in some of the Midwest parishes, evidently, I would put money on it that these priests and parishes will continue to do the same thing they were doing before and with diocesan bishops. What were +BASIL and +JOSEPH supposed to do anyway? Remove priests because they were wearing cassocks when +PHILIP did nothing about it before? What are they supposed to do, depose a priest for wearing a cassock when +PHILIP allows Muslims to serve on councils, etc.?
My final point is to note that +PHILIP made this move because he is obsessed with unity, which he sees as synonomous with uniformity. He seems to think that if a priest says a prayer for the departed after the homily, which is contrary to 'Antiochian' practice in this country, that he is somehow disrupting the 'unity' of the Archdiocese. Never mind that the Antiochian Archdiocese allows the Western rite, which is obviously not 'uniform' (it is neither 'uniform' with the Eastern rite, nor are the various WR parishes 'uniform' in their individual parish practices/rites/liturgics).
In the end, +PHILIP, in his desire for unity, has created more disunity than he ever could have imagined. I suppose this is what happens when you surround yourself with cronies who think everything you do is gold and never dare question you.
#12 Anonymous Antiochian Priest on 2009-03-09 16:05
If,as you assert, it is true that there has been communing of Muslims and Muslims have been on parish councils then there has been some serious breach of cannonical order! It is not permitted for non-christians to receive the Sacrament in Orthodox Churches and it is also not allowed that non-christians sit on parish councils and have any say in the running of an Orthodox Church. Political correctness does not extend to the breaking or ignoring of Cannos of the Church!
Fr. Ian, Florida
#12.1 V.Rev. Ian P. Hammett on 2009-03-11 08:39
Metropolitan PHILIP will listen to at least one thing: money. I hope that all of those laypeople (or even clergy) who support the Archdiocese will begin closing their checkbooks and will be sure to let Metropolitan PHILIP know that this recent decision and his support thereof is the reason why they are no longer giving him money. If enough money is withheld, the Metropolitan will have to reconsider his unilateral decision.
#13 Anonymous on 2009-03-09 16:09
You are absolutely right! The only thing to get MP attention is money. Perhaps all the members of the order of St Ignatius should write a letter stating they will withold their money until the Diocesan Bishops are reinstated to full Diocesan Bishops and members of the local synod. Additionally it should be stated that they (the diocesan bishops) answer to the Local Synod an the Holy Synod not to MP or any singular individual as proper ORTHODOX Ecclesiology dictates (not MP). WouldMP accept answering only to Pat. IGNATIUS, ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! He supposedly answers only to the Holy Synod. In fact a ruling bishop only rules with the acceptance of the ruled (;-). WITHOLD THE MONEY!!! SEND BACK THE RED RIBBONS AND CROSSES!
#13.1 anonymous on 2009-03-11 21:42
The death spiral of institutional Orthodoxy in North America continues unabated. Metropolitan Philip destroys in one stroke the comity and independence of his jurisdiction, while Metropolitan Jonah seeks to emasculate any lay role in OCA governance, making his previous opining on ecclesiology, counciliarity, and accountability, hypocritical at best. And, of course, there are the Greeks, who suffer from similar abuse from their hierarchy.
One has to ask at this juncture what point there is in continuing to support Church structures that are undermining the work of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps a withdrawal from active participation in the institutional Church is now the appropriate response to an obstinate and obdurate episcopate? One thing is certain--the current course of the bishops is leading us right off the cliff, not bringing us to a new era of renewal.
Good Lord deliver us from these bishops who conflate their authority and prerogatives with Yours, and turn believers and seekers into skeptics and cynics making thereby the truth of Your word that much harder to hear.
#14 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-03-09 17:07
Your comments are so truth. I saw this on the Orthodox Forum and am re-printing it here.
Here are some good quotes on bad bishops:
St. Gregory the Theologian
"For me there is one thing above all that one has to beware of--a bad bishop. Do not be overawed by the dignity of the throne, for all have the dignity but not all have the grace. Set aside the sheep's clothing, watch out for the wolf." - Quoted in: John McGuckin, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography, (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2001), p. 118, fn 102
St. John Chrysostom:
"I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish: and the reason is, that it is an affair that requires a great mind." - Homily 3 on Acts
#14.1 Rich on 2009-03-09 19:19
You have encapsulated the reality of the situation, not with your own words, but with words divinely inspired.
#14.2 Ever and anon. on 2009-03-10 06:45
Thank you for your candidness and articulation! I appreciate it.
I liked what you wrote and I am also wondering what efficacy the lay leadership is being given within the Orthodox Church. For I believe you are right, that the Holy Spirit remains that Person the Orthodox Church has the risk of running off!
Our lay leadership can be much more developed and empowered within all three Orthodox jurisdictions. It works in our secular world within most jobs. We use it in education all the time. Conciliarity, team meetings, discussion groups, etc. is commonplace in education, and I am sure in many types of careers and jobs. Things do get done, and there is a greater understanding, agreement, and empowerment between people.
Thanks for breaking through the ice with your comments!
#14.3 Patty Schellbach on 2009-03-10 07:22
I've already stopped my money, until this is resolved. Instead I am cutting a check for my bishop to live on, and one for my priest as well. If I hear of a need in my parish I can take care of, I will....I am just not going to give anyting formally to my parish, so Englewood is going to lose their share.
#15 anonymous on 2009-03-09 17:34
Yes, it is always about money. God bless my Priest who supports his Bishop as a FULL BISHOP not just a rep. of Met P. for anniversaries abd the events he chooses not to attend. He is 79 soon and should retire. Careful Mark that his lawyers don't come after you as they have silenced others with legal threats. God bless!
#15.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-09 17:52
--- In Orthodox-Forum@yahoogroups.com, "Fr. Alexander Lebedeff"
> There is no canonical impediment to the Holy Synod of an Orthodox
> Church reducing any Ruling diocesan bishop to the rank of an
> auxiliary bishop. The Synod can promote bishops -- the Synod can
> demote bishops. (It's a bit like the Army--officers can be demoted as
> well as promoted-- even generals can be demoted).
> It has happened in the Church Abroad on numerous occasions. Some
> years ago, Bishop Michael (Donskoff), who had been the Ruling Bishop
> of Montreal and Canada, was demoted to be the vicar bishop of Boston.
> Recently, he was once again elevated to the rank of a Ruling Diocesan
> Bishop--of Geneva and Western Europe.
> Bishop Constantine (Essensky) had been the Ruling Bishop of the
> Diocese of Great Britain--and later was demoted to be a vicar bishop
> (also of Boston).
> The Holy Synod can appoint, transfer, promote,
> discipline (including reprimand or demotion), or retire bishops as it wills.
> And, it can do it without any ecclesiastical tribunal, which is needed only in
> suspension or deposition from orders, which is not the situation here.
> > Do you think the bishops are not conferencing about this and deciding
> > on joint action?
> > In a March 3rd letter to the Metropolitan, Bishop Basil (Essey) of the
> > former diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, joined those asking
> > questions:
> > "What, Sayyidna, did my brothers and I do that resulted in our being
> > so humiliated as to be summarily reduced from enthroned diocesan
> > bishops to mere auxiliaries? And because I - like you and all members
> > of the Holy Synod - publicly pledged on the day of episcopal
> > consecration to 'confess, accept and defend' the sacred canons, I ask
> > which of those sacred canons permit such an action to be taken without
> > formal charges being brought?"
> > The Bishop's very serious canonical question is not idle - but flows
> > from his heart.
> No doubt-- but it is not founded on valid canonical grounds.
> With love in Christ,
> Prot. Alexander Lebedeff
(Editor's note: Fr. Lebedeff is the Rector of Holy Transfiguration Cathedral in Los Angeles, Dean of the Southern Deanery of the Diocese of San Francisco and Western America of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and was Secretary of the Commission on negotiations with the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate). One is tempted to ask, given Fr. Alexander's reading of the canons, can the Russian Synod then reduce Patriarch Kyrill ("any ruling Diocesan Bishop") to the status of a vicar as well?)
#16 Anonymous on 2009-03-09 17:36
>> One is tempted to ask, given Fr. Alexander's reading of the canons, can the Russian Synod then reduce Patriarch Kyrill ("any ruling Diocesan Bishop") to the status of a vicar as well?)
Reason: Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church, Section IV, Articles 2 and 4.
(Editor's note: Correct. So, is the Russian Orthodox Church uncanonical, or is Fr. Lebedeff's answer about reducing Bishops less bald as he seemed to assert? It is always best to take such pontifications with a big grain of Orthodox salt. And to remember that it was Fr. Alexander who was pontificating not too long ago that the "failed experiment" of the OCA would soon vanish....)
#16.1 Russian Observer on 2009-03-10 02:09
The fact is, Fr. Alexander is absolutely correct. The same Statute gives Holy Synod the right to "elect, appoint, move and retire" bishops. I'm sure the situation in the Church of Antioch is similar.
The Holy Synod is the governing body of the church and answers only to the entire Local Council.
Make no mistake, I'm not saying this decision is correct. That is not for me to decide, as I am not a member of the Antiochian Archdiocese. At the least, from a Russian perspective, it flies in the face of a decision of the 1917-1918 Local Council that the office of auxiliary bishop ought to be avoided and existing vicariates be turned into dioceses. This has been the practice of the Russian church (both in Russia and ROCOR) since then.
But, correct or not, this is a decision well within the scope of powers of the Holy Synod.
#16.1.1 Russian Observer on 2009-03-11 02:26
The track record Protopresbyter Alexander Lebedeff cites may reflect 19th century practice from the "Synodal era" of the Russian Empire carried over into the 20th century, but one wonders if it jives with the canons when one actually reads them or is their only possible application. Considering how pious rhetoric often speaks of a bishop being "wedded" to his diocese (we even say a diocese is "widowed" when its bishop dies), imagine the Church transferring a husband from wife to wife according to the whims of a synod or a primate. "Yesterday you were married to Jane, but tomorrow you'll be married to Sarah, and three years from now we'll need you to be married to Mary, because that's what's expedient for our church now..." It's ludicrous.
#16.2 Gregory on 2009-03-10 06:00
Glory to IC XC!
Quick point: This is not just a change in a bishop's status. This is the dissolution of an entire synod and its component dioceses into an amalgamation under one archbishop.
Reflection: Why is it that when, of late, primates act "for the good of the Church," the Church seems to end up suffering?
#16.3 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2009-03-10 16:57
Deconstructing the recent pronouncement by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, one cannot but suspect we have as yet to see the totality of the deal that was struck between the Patriarch of Antioch and our Antiochian Primate.
One can only wonder if an agreement permitting a single North American stavropegial archdiocese under the control of the North American primate in exchange for a replacement, upon his death, determined by the Patriarch of Antioch and Syrian in origin was struck during the recent visit of Patriarch Ignatius IV. This would serve to eliminate the "Americaneya" which undoubtedly and apparently has acted as a thorn in the side of Antioch.
#17 Anonymous on 2009-03-09 17:39
This is the money trail - who will be the next Metropolitan in America?
and who will be the next Patriarch of Antioch? Everything thats gone on so far has to do with this. And the 'next' is just around the corner given the age and declining health of each of these prime personalities.
#17.1 a-nonymous on 2009-03-11 05:36
It seems, sadly, that episcopal impropriety is not limited to the OCA. Not that any of us ever thought that it did; it's just sad to see it manifested so openly in the AOCA, as well.
+Philip has some things in common with +Herman: both of them like to blow hot and cold air out of both sides of their mouths; both view themselves (despite what we claim on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in our parish Vespers) as being not only infallible, but that this infallibility is divinely sanctioned; both believe in a Stalinistic style of administration, rather than one based on Christ's admonition "to serve, rather than be served."
The Joe Allen fiasco referenced above was a pastoral travesty. To allow this man to continue as a full-fledged priest ....because he was one of +Philip's buddies, calls into serious question +Philip's own episcopacy! ....
The situation a few years later out in Ben Lomond, California, was just as ludicrous. The only thing the people (clergy and laity) in this parish did was to ask +Philip to release them into the OCA. For that, eighteen clergy were not just suspended, but excommunicated!! +Tikhon (Fitzgerald, of the Diocese of the West) initially agreed to take them, but then balked. Many in the parish eventually transferred themselves into to the Jerusalem Patriarchate jurisdiction.
The call for above-board, on-the-table, totally open responsibility and accountability is critical now, more than ever!! This includes all of us, from the top on down!. May all of us, bishops, clergy, laity, and monastics, from all jurisdictions, heed the words and wisdom given to us by our Mother, the Church, in her liturgical services during this Great Lent, to enable us all to surrender fully to God and work to heal our Church, to His glory.
#18 David Barrett on 2009-03-09 18:16
Right on David! The Joseph Allen and Ben Lomand fiascos should have been enough to remove Philip, but too much baksheesh goes to Damascus for that. And canon law, you say?
He doesn't care. When his priests were called to Ligonier as they
were in an uproar about allowing Allen to continue to function as
a priest, one of the younger priests noted that a widowed priest
is not allowed to remarry per Canon Law and Philip yelled "canons, schmanons!", threw down the Bible and said "show me in there where it says I can't".
And I'm already familiar with the "Arabs vs non-Arabs" mentality
that goes on in some Antiochian parishes.
I was in a local MI mission, and despite the fact that 5 former OCA non-Arabic families had come into that parish just as it was about to shut its doors, and saved it, and despite the fact that it had been founded to be an English only parish, all it took was the appointment of a priest there who used the word "Russian music" as a perjorative, who managed to divide the parish down "Arabs vs non-Arabs" sides, and the result was disastrous.
Those 5 families, who were blessed intellectually, spiritually, musically and financially (any parish would have jumped to have them) ended up leaving. I always meant to write Bp. Mark about it, to keep that priest from being sent anywhere else he could wreak that kind of havoc, ....
If the Ants don't protest this latest
usurpation of the other bishops' standing by Philip, even voting
with their feet, if they must, then they will have the Met they deserve. (and double-shame on Tikhon for not taking in
Ben Lomand!!! - no courage at all.)
#18.1 Pauline Costianes on 2009-03-10 12:40
Be careful about using the Ben Lomand situation in discussing this. There was a lot more going on, and very little of it had to do with Met. Phillip. .... The sheer idea that a church can move jurisdictions should be a big sign that we are living in a very sick church in America.
#18.1.1 Seraphim on 2009-03-11 14:36
I don't care if they fail due to the absolute power because we'd grow.
Decisions made with fear as the underlying driver are usually bad decisions.
#19 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-03-09 18:47
It would be interesting if you were able to research and create an article about how self-rule was granted in the first place. You would find that +PHILIP never wanted diocesan bishops. It was Antioch who forced the diocesan bishops on him because they did not want him to have too much power. Consequently, this is a winning situation for them. They have allowed +PHILIP to get rid of the diocesan bishops and have essentially taken back self-rule, although +PHILIP is doing his best to convince the Americans otherwise.
(Editor's note: Pardon me, but I am slow about these things. You are arguing that Philip wanted self-rule, but no other bishops. Antioch, fearing his power, gave him both as a means of mediating that power? Now, they have revoked both, so Philip is the one who was snookered in the deal; not to mention his Archdiocese's lowered expectations. Lord have mercy. Nothing kills faith as quick as reducing the Church to one's Byzantine poltiical machinations - unless, of course, it is hypocrisy. I would be interested in any evidence you could provide for these assertions.)
#20 Anonymous on 2009-03-09 19:11
There are implicit limitations on what may be legitimately written if one chooses to write anonymously. The comment above ignores these limitations.
At the moment I choose to write anonymously, for my own reasons. But I know that I therefore cannot offer information not on public record. How could it be verified? I cannot offer speculation. How could it be assessed? I can only offer analysis, which stands or falls on its own cogency or lack thereof.
Internet discussions are potentially very valuable, but we are still groping for ground rules or customs that optimize the potential.
#20.1 Anonymous in NYC on 2009-03-10 06:59
Maybe someone needs to translate this into Arabic:
Annuntio vobis dolorem magnum:
Eminentissimum ac reverendissimum Dominum,
Sanctæ Antiochiæ Ecclesiæ Metropolitanem Saliba,
Qui sibi nomen imposuit Philip.
#21 Anonymous on 2009-03-09 19:29
I would suggest the last line would read more accurately as:
Qui semetipsum in Ecclesiam imposuit in crucem.
#21.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-03-12 05:09
Glory to IC XC!
So, are either of you going to let those of us whose education in Latin stopped at the Pig level, in on this?
#21.1.1 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2009-03-13 15:05
Our first contributor has given a slightly revised version of the announcement of the election of a new Pope of Rome. He writes glumly:
"I announce to you a great sorrow: We have a pope, the most eminent and most reverend lord, Lord Philip Saliba, Metropolitan of the holy Church of Antioch, who has imposed on himself the name Philip."
But a more accurate reading would be "who has imposed himself upon the Church as a cross."
#22.214.171.124 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-03-14 03:30
Ankthay ouyay, Atherfay!
(Editor's note: I fear the knowledge of Pig Latin has fallen on hard times as well. This is sad, because it fulfills a great function for Americans living abroad. At Syndesmos meetings in the past Americans, as English speakers, were at a regular disadvantage because we could never speak privately during meetings, as everyone understood English. Finns would break into Finnish, Greeks into Greek, etc., to discuss things. One day though, we remembered Pig Latin, and all important comments were subsequently given in Pig Latin. It drove the foreigners crazy, because they could not figure out what kind of dialect we were all using, and how people from California, New York and everywhere in between, from the Greek &, Antiochian Achdioceses, and even the OCA seemed to know it....)
#126.96.36.199.1 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2009-03-15 19:06
The letter from the Antiochian clergy makes me recall an Item I saw on the Onion News. The report said that Kim Il Jung's approval rating had plummeted to 140%. Chillingly similar, and not a bit made up is the way some Orthodox can sometimes respond to every word that proceeds from the mouth of a Metropolitan, any Metropolitan.
#22 anon on 2009-03-09 23:24
Yup, very well said.
Ooh, a Metropolitan said it....
Was Jesus about hierarchy and ruling classes and absolute power? Is this the lesson Bishops mean to convey?
I'm feeling strangely protestant these days.
#22.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-03-10 07:24
Does anyone know how this ruling of the Synod applies to the bishops and metropolitans of the Patriarchate of Antioch in the Middle East? How is it being received in Syria and Lebanon?
#23 David M M on 2009-03-10 06:56
To put things into perspective; MP stated the Constution was written in such a way as to protect their Archdiocese (implied was from Damascus). The following need to be addressed
1) Did he infact sell his archdiocese and bishops out with a geneous gift to the patriarch and holy synod. (money raised from the parishes and faithful? His response indicates he did.
2) Did the Patriarch and Holy Synod make a decision based on financial gain? Simony! How do they ween Damascus off the money they get from NA?
3) How do they address MP his mafioso priests, board members and henchmen?
4) Will the Constitution protect the Archdiocese from MP and the Holy Synod?
#24 anonymous on 2009-03-10 08:08
Am I wrong, but it seems that all the Antiochian bishops in Syria and Lebanon were already metropolitans before this recent shake up, much as are the bishops in Constantinople. If that is so, then it would seem that the only bishops affected in this ruling are the ones (now so firmly) under Metropolitan Philip.
Fr. Lebedev's comments notwithstanding, it is one thing to reduce a single bishop to auxiliary status. It is a very different thing indeed to reduce all bishops in a "self-ruled archdiocese" to what is (at least, to Metropolitan Philip) essentially the status of a mitered ecclesiastical secretary.
Fr. John Meyendorff used to say that he could defend the institution of the episcopacy to any ecumenical audience from a scriptural and patristic perspective; not so the role of an auxiliary bishop.
Having bought off his own patriarch (and, long ago, most of the Antiochian synod), and now having reduced his brother bishops in his *self*-ruled archdiocese to the status of administrative assistants, Metropolitan Philip is now able to be guided only by his cronies and the voices in his head. These days, it's getting harder and harder to see him as anything but the biggest and baddest of vagante bishops.
Metropolitan Philip's approach to what he calls unity is familiar to every corporate CEO, five-star general or Mafia don. But the seminaries in which Metropolitan Philip studied, and the Gospels, Councils and canons he once swore to uphold present another model. The Lord certainly could have prayed: "Father, may they all be one, even as the Roman Empire is one". He didn't - to the everlasting regret of popes and pseudo-papal wannabes.
Pope Pius IX (who confected the doctrine of papal infallibility) would join Metropolitan Philip in saying that the approach of the Gospels and Councils "just doesn't work".
The Orthodox will just have to agree to disagree.
The person who calls this to Metropolitan Philip's attention should first study carefully the lives of the New Martyrs under the Ottomans, almost all of whom were killed as (perceived) traitors/apostates. Metropolitan Philip, who is famously contemptuous of tradition, canon and 'the outmoded thinking of old-world patriarchates', has left his flock (at least, those who know what's good for them) with little to be loyal to but his "vision" and his person. And he rewards and punishes accordingly.
We know that Great Lent developed gradually, over the course of centuries. Maybe in our day we need a longer time yet. Forty days of prayer, prostrations and fasting seems hardly enough, considering.
#25 a ROCA priest on 2009-03-10 12:48
I substantially agree with most of this thoughtful post. But the antics of the bishops fighting over whose bishopric is bigger than whose, is as amusing, as it is unseemly and positively unchristian. As I have observed before, the bishops of the Church (collectively, with, thank God, many individual exceptions) have been betraying their Lord, especially since the merger of Church and State in 325 AD, but even as early as the Apostolic Era, according to the Gospels. Fighting over power, status, and preferment, they have ravaged the Church they are supposed to give their very lives to defend to the delight of Satan and the scandal of the Faithful.
The monarchical model of Church governance is a relic of the marriage with the long dead Roman Empire--in both its Western and Eastern guises, and of the successor monarchical states that have long since evolved into something else--either secular dictatorships or constitutional democracies.The notion that Church governance must conform to an absolute monarchical model is nonsense, whether or not it is centralized control by a "super bishop" or decentralized "popes" tyrannizing their dioceses.
While I am no expert on Russian Church history, I find it amazing that the first meaningful reform of this model came from Saint Tikhon and the Sobor held in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, and built upon by the early leaders, mostly clerical, in the OCA. That legacy has been betrayed, and we are now marching backward to reclaim and restore a failed model of governance that should be dead and buried.
Metropolitan Jonah's apparent belief that all we need is benevolent and virtuous tyrants running the Church is misplaced and doomed to failure. The issue is not "Congregationalism," or some other version of the Protestant Reformation, which are specious charges leveled to divert attention from the real issues, which are accountability and counciliarity, not just for bishops, but for the the entire Church--clerical and lay. While remaining faithful to its core principles and beliefs, of which monarchical bishops is not one, the Church must grow and evolve if it is to fulfill its stewardship responsibilities to our Lord.
#25.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-03-11 08:03
It might be helpful if you were to read the letters of St. Ignatius Theophoros (dating from c.115AD) and the epsicopate he describes. (And please note that to speak of "the Ignatian model" is inaccurate in the extreme. Even a surface reading of the letters indicates that the saint is not inventing a new system but describing an already-existing epsicopate and how it's supposed to work.) What he describes is clearly a "monarchical" epsicopate. Indeed, take a careful reading of the Epistles (especially the Pastorals) for a description of how the apostolic ministry also functioned as essentially "monarchical".
As for the problems of bishops "fighting over power, status, and preferment"...well, depressingly enough, a gander at the Canons pre-dating 325AD (and, e.g., Luke 9:46, Mark 10:35-37, and III John:9, for that matter) shows only too clearly that such sinfulness has been with us from the beginning.
But buck up, old thing. In the short run, things can get grim and crazy-making. But over the long haul, not even the very gates of hell itself can prevail against the power of the Risen One. So take the insanity with a metric tonne of salt and glorify Christ Who has already overcome the mess.
#25.1.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-03-12 05:36
Dear Fr. Philip,
Father bless! (a request and appellation I don't usually make).
I rather thought I might be hearing from you on my last post, which, as always, I welcome, even if we find ourselves to some extent in disagreement. For the record, I believe, as the Creed requires, in Apostolic Succession. After all, the Church needs some type of governance in this world, and clearly the Apostles, and their successors, were given a leading role by our Lord, Himself.
That does not mean, however, that the Episcopate was meant to be authoritarian and accountable only to God and itself. We all, I think, understand the social and historical context in which the office of bishop evolved and how it mirrors the powers and status of the secular political establishment of the times. With the wisdom of hindsight and experience, we too should change our governance, as the much of the world has changed its--however imperfectly.
I am not calling for some radical redefinition of the bishops' authority, let alone a change to a Protestant model of essentially no clerical priesthood. Just a little accountability, not hiding everything under a rug, and a real commitment to true counciliarity for bishop, priest, and laity alike. I thought I heard that call from Metropolitan Jonah, before he became a bishop, but his subsequent actions have made clear that he adheres to the traditional model of "Father knows best."
Finally, I acknowledge that you can point to many sources extolling the virtues of a monarchical hierarchy. Frankly, I don't care, unless the Holy Spirit is calling us to this type of obedience. Surely, this is a difficult and challenging time for those who cling to this vision of governance--when it has so obviously failed.
Fortunately, like you, I believe that the "gates of Hell will not prevail," though the works of the stewards are leading to a very unfruitful harvest.
Your admiring, if disobedient servant,
#188.8.131.52 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-03-13 09:53
I do not see the problems in the AOCA or within the episcopal model as grasping for power. We have or had excellent Diocesan Bishops in the AOCA. Contrary to MP remarks the Holy Synod is not the highest authority in the church. Bishops are accountable one to another (conciliarity) for remaining faithful to the apostoloic faith. Fr John Meyendorff also taught that we never accepted the idea of any eternal final authority per se over the Church as say a pope or the scripture. Authority is within the church by and through the Holy Spirit. Even councils once thought to be ecumenical were later rejected. The decisions of the bishops needed to be accepted by the people. Please do not reason from a few bad experiences with corrupt bishops to all bishops. We have some very good bishops in North America.
#184.108.40.206.1 anonymous on 2009-03-13 21:24
Given there are more antiochian priests in NA than the rest of the Patriarchate, perhaps Patriarch. Ignatius should become a metropolitan and the North American Bishops elevated to the rank of Metropolitans as well. In Lebanon and Syria each Metropolitan about three office staff workers and has a very small area to cover --- about one city with ten to twelve parishes. In North America each Diocesan Bishop had an extremely large territory and approximately 40-50 parishes with no assisitance. What are we thinking? Why should the tail wag the dog?
#25.2 anonymous antiochian on 2009-03-12 16:34
There are several aspects of the Ben Lomond situation that are missing from your comments. NO - only half of the clergy and half of the laity were asking to be accepted in another jurisdiction. You also didn't mention that there were "wolves in sheep's clothing" at the meeting that was held on that dreadful evening in February 1998 and many of the faithful were wounded almost to the point of spiritual death by those men. Perhaps you didn't say because you don't know that our Body was literally ripped in half - it felt like arms, legs, hands being ripped away. The scars are still tender after 10 years. Our children have been irreparably damaged. And by the way, you didn't mention that the advocates for these wolves were Tikhon, Soraich and Kondratick. HELLO. Doesn't that cause you to stop and think about the situation?
Don't you dare blame Metropolitan PHILIP for this tragedy - it was because of our very own clergy who had a form of Godliness, but denied its power; it was because our shepherd turned on his very own flock. This split happened because the men did not have love. "If though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing" - 1 Corinthians 13:3
(editor's note: The purpose of the article was not to re-open wounds such as Ben Lomond, or the Joe Allen affair. I would agree with the writer that both instances have left wounds that are still healing, and are best left alone for the time being. The question before the Archdiocese is larger than one man's, or one parish's, troubles.)
#26 I was there on 2009-03-10 13:10
the statement that the Self Ruled Antiochian
church woke up to find that it wasn't self ruled,
shows a misunderstanding of "self rule," which
isn't about democracy or anything like it, but
independence from the Middle Eastern located
Patriarch of Antioch.
#27 Justina Erikson on 2009-03-10 13:12
I support your right to report this sort of information and think you have tried to present a balanced view thus far. However, I find it troublesome that so many of the comments are "anonymous". This seems less than "transparent" and more like idle gossip. I also do not agree with the hysteria in some of these comments. Our archdiocese will survive this and continue to be strong and healthy. We are not a "perfect" organization but this is certainly not a scandal like that of the OCA, and I think this point needs to be made.
(editor's note: If you had read this site for the past three years, you would have seen a great deal of discussion, pro and con, about anonymity. Unfortunately, many bishops, priests and laity prefer for reasons of privacy, fear, concern for reputation or income or their families, etc. to remain anonymous. One can value their anonymous input as one sees fit - as "Gossip", or as the only means of releasing information or sharing opinions that may otherwise never be released. Feel free to disagree.)
#28 Kevin Allen on 2009-03-10 13:40
How Roman of them!! All that's left is to start calling Phillip "pope".
#29 anon on 2009-03-10 13:50
A couple of weeks ago I stated the belief in this forum that Mr. Stokoe needed to more clearly define the site's scope, decrease anonymous posting, and broaden the editorial base if he wanted to make the best possible contribution to the reshaping of the OCA. His sparring reply implied that he hadn't read - or at least seriously considered - what I said or the underlying reasons. And now we have a whole new flap.
The presuppositions on which this discussion (not to call it a free for all of axe grinding through leaks, innuendo and comments) is going forward are in my opinion completely insupportable. Many people (there are exceptions) who seem to know little or nothing about the great policy issues (how do we hold a diverse and far flung Church of differing personalities and opinions together in a society of almost irresistable power to individualize and fragmentize?) or the facts (Mr. Barrett's naive and one-sided mischaracterizations about Ben Lomond, a place in which so far as I know he never lived or worshipped during the 33 years I was around there) or who fail to realize what is going on (not some Machiavellian abuse of power, but rather a living Church on two widely separated continents trying to figure out how to best provide for its present and future needs.) When you're used to shouting "to the barricades" the phrase returns easily to mind, to roll off the tongue and stir the blood yet again!
A living church is trying to figure out how to go forward in loving unity in a very demanding day and age and place. I think it is legitimate to compare this situation to the parties to a marriage doing the tough work of talking through their issues, trying to strike a fruitful, rewarding balance of their needs and personalities. A lot of patience, good will, repetition, reflection, forgiveness ... and the privacy in which to do it all ... usually will be needed for the marriage to work,
Imagine in that situation that Mark Stokoe or anyone else, no matter how well intentioned, is broadcasting a sort of daily play by play account of the marital back and forth, not to only friends and relatives but also perhaps even to those who dislike one or both spouses. Add in this twist: people the two spouses used to date, or perhaps someone who didn't like one of the spouses back in eighth grade, is allowed to call in to the broadcast anonymously and comment on any aspect of the marriage with no - or very few - holds barred, and no advance showing of integrity, knowledge or good will. "Just open up your trap and yap as much as you want." I think we can readily see how a happy outcome for the spouses would be far harder to achieve.
In a season where we are supposed to be asking God in the prayer of St. Ephraim to deliver us from such sins as meddling, lust of power and idle talk, I find the quotient of all three to be so very high here on this new topic, and the chances of wise or beneficial input from the discussion so low, as to make the whole exchange illegitimate in my eyes, and trying for silence the right aim for me.
#29.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-03-11 01:21
"A living church is trying to figure out how to go forward in loving unity...." shouldn't that read "a living group of metropolitans is trying to......" and that's the problem in a nutshell! The oligarchy is portraying itself as the church and there are plenty who are willing to support such nonsense. It is sad indeed to see converts lining up behind such blatant despotism and pastoral insensitivity. I have been a priest for 15 years in the church and I WILL remain anonymous because I fully KNOW the vindictiveness and nastiness that comes when you dare speak the truth. No Fr george you words won't do in this situation and your criticism of mark is weak, the anonymous posts which I read are in the main responsible and in my experinece, sadly, quite believable. And while we're at it Fr george St Efrem's "meddling, lust of power and idle talk" is easy to cast at those who dare question despotism but that lst bit about idle talk may just as easily apply to your latest contribution which appears only as a plea to shut open discussion down.
#29.1.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-11 15:36
I am afraid that your sanctimonius words rings hollow.
Metropolitan Phillip just threw six brother bishops under the bus.
Does that not disturb you?
Your brother in Christ,
#29.1.2 Marc Trolinger on 2009-03-11 16:50
Metropolitan Phillip just threw six brother bishops under the bus.
I am so very happy that Metropolitan Phiip did that and pray he will do much more than that.
and you Mark, why don't you just return to hell and leave the antiochians alone?
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2009-03-13 17:15
Wow.... we cannot do much else than pitty poor "Fatima" for being filled with such hate and controlled by Satan's temptations.
I'm sure even Met. Philip would not appreciate this so-called "support".
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-13 20:11
It is people like you who build hate rather than love. Who ever you are should be very ashamed of your self for your thinking and actions.
Surely Satan has gotten great grip of you and the others such as BB and B.M. trying to split thr Antiochian Church. pretending to be Holy, they forgot that lots of people out there knows them too well like me before their ordinations to anything.
If B.B and B.M. are wise, they should stop this web site comments before they are revealed of whom they are under their robes, and for them to keep their dirty laundry in their home.
Please leave Met. Philip alone. Had he done you wrong? if so you sure deserved it. anf if you are not afraid you will sign your name. indeed you are the biggest fool God ever created on earth.
By the way, we do learn lessons from fools like you and for us not be like you.
Indeed God has a home for you. Satan is waitting to welcome you in hell...HA>>>HA>>>>HA....
My heart rejoyceth, knowing where you will be at the end of the eternal life.
Hay, You said Satan Got hold of me, Wow to you, My Almighty Lord and God is the one person who drived me to write you this.
In His Holy Name I remain.
#22.214.171.124.1.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-14 07:08
Our Metropolitan Philip is very aware of the concerns and criticisms of the faithful, and will keep us advised as this process continues. He has assured me that he understands the concerns expressed by many, and he will be forthcoming with further explanations regarding what is going on in our Church.
Forgive me if my concerns and over reactions has caused you undue distraction and stress.
Let us focus on our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ during this Holy time of the year, and not be distracted by the evil one.
Your brother in Christ,
#126.96.36.199.1.1.1 Marc Trolinger on 2009-03-14 16:44
are you the B>M.? using your name as Marc. I am very well informed that Met. Philip is not happy with all you are doing. and you should help stop this web site. it is nothing but bringing out scandles. all of you has forgotten that this is the time of the year where all of us should be doing nothing but praying and fasting. getting ready for Holy Pascha. What ever happened to those good old days. when we waited for this Holy day to come.
You all make me sick.....one day God is going to have you all pay for it.
Again leave Met. Philip out of this....ALL THAT HE HAS DONE FOR THIS ARCHDIOCESE SINCE DAY ONE HE BECAME A BISHOP NO ONE EVER DID OR EVER CAN DO....
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2009-03-15 07:40
I've got a guy (sometimes referred to as ALL CAPS GUY) in the OCA I'd like you to meet. Your just made for each other.
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-03-15 12:42
Woe unto those who call good evil and evil good, who prefer darkness to light. One can fool some of the people some of the time but one cannot fool all the people all of the time. Have you not read how many priests and laity know Philip's actions and his inner circle. This is not gossip. But I think you already know the facts yourself and prefer the darkness. How sad. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
#22.214.171.124.1.1.2 anonymous on 2009-03-14 18:11
Fatima, So you admit Metropolitan Philip intentionally threw six bishops under the bus? Who are you sources? Why? What did they do? Did you see it with your own eyes? What interventions did he attempt before taking such drastic measures? How do you know thisfor certain?
#126.96.36.199.2 anonymous on 2009-03-17 18:00
I did respond to you. it seems taht mark did not want the truth to revealed to all of you so he did not add it on the web.
of caurse who want the real truth on his web page.
This web page is full of nothing but lots of dirt and gossip.
As Orthodox Christians and true believer in Orthodoxy and for the selvation of our souls. I ask you again not to believe a word that is against Met. Philip and follow what Father Constantine Nasr said, if you care for your soul.
Please wake up and see the true light.
(editor's note: She is correct. In my defense, I usually limit remarks to five pages in length. Fatima has much to say, and difficulty expressing herself succinctly.)
#188.8.131.52.2.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-18 18:58
You are nothing but full of garabag. you just do not want anyone to care for their souls. Mark you will never be forgiven by men or by our Almighty God. and in the depth of hadies you soul and others will be burning in the flaming fire of hell.
wake up charlie jack (MARK)
You just can not stand someone coming out strong with the truth during this time of the year.
#184.108.40.206.2.1.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-18 20:25
The fact that HE Phillip and the Holy Synod feel the best interests for our archdiocese are not served by "diocesan" independence at this time (and there are reasons, agree with them or not), does not mean +Phillip seeks a Roman-type authoritarian structure. He has spoken out very clearly against that in his criticism of how Canon 28 has been interpreted and implemented by recent Ecumenical patriarchs. We Americans have a tendency to jump to conclusions - I think you are jumping to them when you advocate (even tongue in cheekily) calling him "pope".
#29.2 Kevin Allen on 2009-03-11 11:35
I'd like the answers to three questions:
1) Did the Holy Synod ever really mean for "self-rule" to be implemented or was it always just a convenient fiction they allowed to be propagated?
2) If "self rule" was not always just some joke being played on us gullible Americans by the Holy Synod, how much money changed hands to make it go away?
3) If money did indeed change hands, whose money was it? Was it money collected from parishes in general for another purpose or did the Metropolitan get it privately from specific emigrant donors like ..... in Boston and others in the Midwest?
#30 Anonymous on 2009-03-10 15:40
Sadly, it all comes down to control. There are more than enough bishops and priests to attend to our Orthodox populous in North America, but all of those bishops and priests refuse to unify their efforts. I am a true American. I have no family and no formal ties to Europe any more. My ethnicity is my ancestry / heritage, it is not my nationality. Why should my religion?
In a CNN article on cnn.com yesterday, it was said that less Americans than ever consider themselves Christian. They sited discontent with the hierarchy and non-responsiveness.
We no longer live in a world of five major cities. That world has vanished millennia ago! The world is round and full populated. Sadly, our church has failed to grow and adapt to that changing world, choosing wrongly to cling to power and control.
I have faith as young Orthodox Christian because I alone control who I am. My generation polled time and time again believes that our church leaders are failing us. They, along with +Jonah, need to wake-up!
The illusion of power is just that. I go to church for peace, and there just seems to be so much drama. I mean, arrests now at St. Tikhon's? Holy cow! Surely just the tip of the iceberg.
And, here, Patriarchs living in areas of the world that I will never visit dictating religious practice in the freest religious country in the world.
It's time for a council and real overhaul of our church global hierarchy.
#31 Anonymous on 2009-03-10 17:39
Well, Mr. "OCA news" hiding under the veil of "not associated with THE OCA.... I hadn't read, nor even heard of this site until today, and I still say SHAME ON YOU for pretending -- under the acronymic subterfuge -- to be a person of consequential opinion, and of service to anyone or anything other than your personal needs.
You chose not to post my earlier comment of today, so I won't hold my breath on this one, either. God forgive me, a sinner. God bless everyone -- no exceptions.
#32 Bill on 2009-03-10 18:52
Wow. You discover this site for the first time, and without any knowledge of the history of this website or Mark Stokoe's integrity, have the audacity to assume Mark is a fraud. Shame on you. FYI. Your comments are 180 degrees from the truth. You need to apologize for your mean-spiritedness and judgmentalism.
#32.1 Anon. on 2009-03-12 20:09
Can an open letter the like of
be circulated so names can be added to this uncanonical act?
As for His Grace Bishop Mark stepping on toes, some toes need to be stomped on. But he is so genteel, I don't think he did any such thing. Some people don't like the light to reveal their deeds, nothing else. He shines too much with Christ.
#33 Isa Almisry on 2009-03-10 19:40
Hmmm. As a member of the Catheral Parish of St. George, Wichita I have a lot to think about, pray about and act on. I love +Basil because he loves us. He is a man I can willing call Your Grace because he is grace filled. Since the moment of his consecration, I have thought of him as my Bishop, not Met. Phillip. I would say that most of the Cathedral congregation feel the same way. ....
Given +Basil's questions, I have to ponder continuing any active involvement other than worship.
#34 Michael Bauman on 2009-03-10 21:24
When a church is under an "old country" patriarch & synod, no mater how autonomous they may believe they are, the church is subject to the patriarch & his synod. Look what happen with the forced retirement of + Iakavos after Ligonier in 1994 and the emasculation of the GOA. Doesn't anyone here get it? This is why SCOBA in 1961 agreed to move to a united, Orthodox Church in America. When Fr. Schmemann was able to achieve "autocephaly" for the Metropolia to create the ONLY canonical, autocephalic, indigenous Orthodox Church in America, this was a "gift" for ALL the Orthodox in North America. The Greeks refused to join the OCA and now they long for the days of + Iakavos. The Antiochians refused to join and now they will wrestle with this mess.
Folks, local bishops rule local churches under canon law; foreign bishop control is no where to be found in canon law - not even under Chalcedon 28.
#35 Anonymous on 2009-03-11 06:03
Before we go bashing foreign synods around the world, let's remember that the reports of this incedent indicate that it was Met. Philip who insisted on this, and who whole-heareldly supports it. So if this is true, the Antiochian Archdiocese was sold out by their own LOCAL bishop.
#35.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-11 15:49
Only the OCA has local bishops. Local or not the temptation to be a despotic bishop rather than a pastoral one is immense, i.e rule over rather than lead. It seems most fail to resist the temptation.
#35.1.1 Michael Bauman on 2009-03-11 18:50
>Only the OCA has local bishops.
Not true. The GOA has local bishops - Alexios of Atlanta, Gerasimos of San Franciso, Maximos of Pittsburg, even Demtrios of New York.
One can legitimately argue the question of whether these local bishops should be metropolitans of a foreign see - and after seeing the fiasco of the much-self-touted "American" church I am getting less inclined to argue that... one can legitimately argue whether these local bishos should or should not be foreign-born... but they are local bishops.
In YHWH Made Flesh, Christ our God,
Reader David-Constantine Wright
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2009-03-13 07:14
"Word made flesh" is what the Fathers said, after St. John.
A bit of monophysitism creeping in here, perhaps?
Always wise to stick with the Fathers.
#18.104.22.168.1 Rdr. John on 2009-03-13 13:30
YHWH Made Flesh is correct: "He who once spoke through symbols to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 'I am He Who Is' [YHWH], was transfigured today upon Mount Tabor before the disciples; and in His own person He showed them the nature of man, arrayed in the original beauty of the Image. Calling Moses and Elijah to be witnesses of this exceeding grace, He made them sharers in His joy, foretelling His decease through the Cross and His saving resurrection." (Aposticha at Vespers for the Transfiguration)
The Church affirms that YHWH is made Flesh at the end of every liturgical service, when the priest says: "He WHo Is [YHWH] is blessed, Christ our God..."
The Church affirms that YHWH is made Flesh in her iconography: "O On" (The Existing One, YHWH) is always in the halo surrounding Christ's head in every icon of Him.
Always wise to stick with what the Church affirms.
In YHWH Made Flesh, Christ our God,
I totally agree with the issue of temptation. But I feel it may be narrow-minded to say that only the OCA has "local" bishops. Met. Philip is "Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All America". Just as Bishop George (ROCOR) is Bishop of Mayfield PA, and Metropolitan Methodios (GOARCH) is of Boston MA. These bishops live and work here in America, regardless of where their superiors are located. They do not have titles of other cities somewhere on the other side of the world, nor do they commute from there.
I understand the argument that an autocephalous Church would be the only one in a country, but our situation in North America has a very different reality these days and I think that we should have respect for the fact that these other bishops are here doing the Church's work. Maybe it would be better for us to emphasize that all the bishops here are in fact "local" and encourage their Mother Churches to recognize this reality by easing and eventually cutting their administrative ties.
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2009-03-13 08:11
"Before we go bashing foreign synods around the world, let's remember that the reports of this incedent indicate that it was Met. Philip who insisted on this, and who whole-heareldly supports it. So if this is true, the Antiochian Archdiocese was sold out by their own LOCAL bishop."
And you think this was the first time? It's called, "Byzantine Politics." Say one thing and even act, but when push comes to shove, do the opposite." Remember who Met. Philip is; he's an "old country" guy in control of the AOCA. He wants to be highly respected in US Orthodoxy, but even more so in Syria & Lebannon. You can take the boy out of the "old country," but.......
#35.1.2 Anonymous on 2009-03-12 06:06
Like many in the Antiochian Archdiocese I am still trying to understand what has happened. I know the formalities of it, who is to be commemorated for example, but I'm still working through the "why". I've tried to express this to my parishioners as best I could but there are points where I have to say "I'm not sure" and "I don't know".
It's hard, in some ways, to have to go to various websites and blogs to try to get a sense of which way the wind is blowing as there can be as much chaff as wheat. I anticipate that some of my parishioners will be doing this as well and and they'll share their 'discoveries" with me and I'll have to do my best to help them sort sense from nonsense.
I know my heart is pained for Bishop MARK. I have found him to be a good, decent, and thoughtful Bishop, a person willing to attend to the needs of our tiny Parish with the same vigor as one would give to a larger one. I pray for him daily and for all the Bishops. These developments have been startling but I hope they all hear the still small voice of God after the storm.
In my own thoughts I can only see, as best a sinful Priest can, that these events will force us to face ourselves and our hidden corners, the unspoken things that divide us and the truths we all know but refuse to admit. We are called as individual Orthodox Christians to a life of self examination so why should the larger communal structures of Orthodoxy be exempt from that as well?
Just like there is a part of me that dreads standing before the icon of Christ in confession because I have sinned and do not wish to be exposed, even if it is good for me, so too these moments ahead may be our time of exposure so that we may be clean inside.
Regardless, there are times when we can prepare for Lent and know what God would have us address. These events, if they do anything else, should at least drive us to our knees and turn our hearts to God on behalf of our Church in this holy season. I pray for wisdom for all our Bishops. I pray that all that is good and holy will prevail. I pray that I will always give myself to that which is right and holy. I pray for the peace and stability of the Church and the world and beyond that I do not yet know what else must be done.
In time we will know.
Dear Mark Stokoe:
I do not know who you are or whom you represent. Your letter posted on the web on 03/09/2009 is a letter full of poison. You have either forgotten or have willfully abandoned the spirit of Church found in Hebrews 13:17 "Obey your leaders and submit to them for they are keeping watch over your souls as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully and not sadly for that would be of no advantage to you.
If you are a committed Orthodox Christian you will adhere to the edict of the Holy Synod of Antioch to which all Antiochian metropolitans, archbishops, bishops, priests and laity must adhere.
We respect and love our Metropolitan Philip and our venerable bishops who have been called, along with the priests (unworthy though we be), to serve this holy Church with love, obedience and faithfulness.
Our Metropolitan Philip for the past forty-three years has been a pillar of Orthodoxy both here and abroad. He opened his heart , mind and soul to all who came knocking at the door of the Church. In that spirit of open arms and comment the Church has grown. All growth comes with both pain and joy.
What you are trying to do is encourage dissension in this loving and God-protected Archdiocese. Leave us alone. Let the Holy Spirit guide this Holy Archdiocese and her faithful servants: the hierarchs, clergy and the laity.
Yours in Christ,
V. Rev. Fr. Constantine Nasr, Economos
#37 Fr. Constantine Nasr on 2009-03-11 08:57
Dear Fr Constatine,
I find your remark interesting about leaving things to the Holy Spirit. This is exactly what the Balamand Glee Club (of which you are a part) DID NOT DO. All the AOCA clergy know this was orchestrated by them and it cannot be hidden. Secondly we also know it was the BGC which tried to destroy our beloved +BB, or at least damage his reputation, last year. We also know this to be a smear campaign to disqualify him from being considered for Metropolitan. Shame on you and all your cohorts! Your BGC has marginalized itself at last within the Archdiocese...
#37.1 anonymous on 2009-03-11 20:31
There's always a Goebbels more than willing to do the master's bidding...how utterly pathetic. Of WHAT are you economos?
(Editor's note:Fr. Nasr is the Economos of the (now former) Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America.)
#37.2 Anonymous on 2009-03-12 04:32
Many here know how you came from the "old country" and how your entire family and extended family is heavily involved in the AOCA. This issue brought up here by Mark Stokoe is not HIS agenda. These issues came about by the Pat. of Antioch and Met. Philip. Mark is only posting what is happening in the AOCA itself. You are one of the priests who sides with all the "old country" priests and support the recent decision. However, there are many priests in the AOCA, possibly 60% or more and bishops who disagree with the decision from over-seas. And why? Because many thought that by declaring "autonomy" and becoming "self-ruled" that the AOCA was truly on it's way to becoming a "real" American church. These notions have been dashed. You know that nothing has changed in the AOCA since your days at SVS and what the AOCA is facing now is who will be in control after Met. Philip; old country bishops and priests or the American Arabs and converts. And you know as well as I that all of this could have been avoided if Met. Philip worked with Fr. Schmemann and merged with the OCA. So now, this mess and like the Joe Allen affair, it won't go away. It's time for the AOCA to decide what it really is; is it just a diocese of the Pat. of Antioch or is it an American Orthodox Church with an Arab heritage? We know which one you prefer!
#37.3 Anonymous on 2009-03-12 05:57
Dear Father Constantine,
I was saddened to read your rebuke of Mark Stokoe. I would like to point out just a few of my concerns.
1. As with medicines, facts may be poisonous or curative. In fact, some of the most potent, life-saving medicines are very toxic. Most medicines also have side effects, some very severe. In this context, I would agree with you if Mark had published lies and rumors; I do not believe that he has. Indeed, he has a track record of being a very careful reporter and commentator. The burden of proof lies with you: you should tell us how Mark lied and therefore produced poison. If he has told the truth, then please take the facts as medicine, unpleasant side effects and all.
2. In your mind, committed Orthodox Christians must adhere to edicts of the Church. With all due respect, I do not believe this to be Orthodox ecclesiology because even the validity of an Ecumenical Council is determined by the council's acceptance by the laos. We are not robots and our first and foremost loyalty is to Christ our Lord. We have the ability as members of His Body and the royal priesthood of the believers, to decide for ourselves to adhere or not to adhere to edicts of men if they conflict with the teachings of our Lord and if they contradict our Holy Tradition. If the edicts are wrong and cause schism, the blame would be with the promulgators of the edict. Is this not a central part of our Holy Orthodox Tradition? Is this not what Saint Mark of Ephesus, alone among the higher clergy but with the support of the people, acted on? Is this not implicit in the warnings to believers about false leaders--that is teachers and prophets by the Lord Himself and by Apostle Paul?
3. I don't dispute the various wondrous things that Metropolitan Philip has done during his ministry. But, as you pointed out "All growth comes with both pain and joy." I would add that nobody is perfect and even an outstanding leader like Metropolitan Phillip can make mistakes. After all, his episcopacy is in direct lineage from the Apostles Peter and Paul, neither one of whom considered themselves sinless, error free or infallible.
4. I don't think that Mark is encouraging dissension in the Archdiocese; it is already there! And, it was not caused or engineered by Mark. This mess is really a self-inflicted wound on the part of your top leadership. More than that, it has enormous implications for Orthodoxy on this continent.
5. I can only add my amen to your wish for "...the Holy Spirit (to) guide this Holy Archdiocese and her faithful servants: the hierarchs, clergy and the laity." Nobody here wishes ill on Metropolitan Phillip and the Archdiocese.
In Christ, Carl
#37.4 Carl on 2009-03-12 13:45
"Obey your leaders and submit to them for they are keeping watch over your souls as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully and not sadly for that would be of no advantage to you."
Excuse me Fr Constantine, but if the faithful had done so when the bishops (except for the ever memorable Mark) sold out the faith in Florence, you would now be obeying Benedict.
I am in the OCA, but just as we know that our problems troubled our other Orthodox brethren, so too the actions in Antioch trouble us.
#37.5 Michael Strelka on 2009-03-13 06:29
There have been several accusations and many innuendoes about money being paid to Damascus in a "quid pro quo" exchange. Unless I am mistaken the $3.0 million given to HB Ignatius when he visited the U.S. last fall was to complete a wing of the "Met. Philip Saliba" wing of Balamand University in Beirut, long a pet-project of HE Phillip (and of HB Pat. Ignatius). The raising of funds for this project was done openly in 2008 (and I trust transparently), and the clergy I have spoken with about it were well aware that these funds were being raised for the purpose. I do not doubt that HE Phillip has clout in Damascus, but to insinuate that he "paid" (or had to pay) the Holy Synod is an insult that he and our archdiocese do not deserve. This is not "shades of the OCA" scandal being re-played here. If you choose to critique a decision made regarding the change in status of our bishops, fine. I think the impact of this decision on Orthodoxy in America is fair "new media" game. But it seems to me the pursuit of "truth" would be better served by stating facts, not by spewing endless innuendo.
#38 Kevin Allen on 2009-03-11 09:35
Wait, Philip gave $3 million to build a wing of Balamand, while the Antiochians here in the US do not even have a Seminary to call their own? I'm sure Balamand needed a new wing, and that it is very nice, and people were happy to give the money, but I would have thought for a major diocese like the AOCA establishing a seminary to replenish priests would have had first priority. Or does Philip and Ignatius simply think that AOCA clergy should go to Balamand, with attendance at St. Tikhon's or St. Vladimir's instead simply a last resort for non-Arabs?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not begrudging the gift, but the dynamics strike me as odd. The bishop's first concern should be for his diocese and its parishes. On first glance, this appears to me to be a bishop using the goodwill of his laity to fund his endowment to his alma mater.
#38.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-11 17:15
To "anon" 38.1:
This thread is not about the propriety of whether our primate should have funded the building of a university wing at Balamand or not. The point of my post is simply to state for the record that the accusations and innuendos about "money being paid" for a decision in Damascus are false accusations and should not be made again by responsible people.
#38.1.1 Kevin Allen on 2009-03-11 23:25
The money raised was supposedly going to a "Metropolitan Philip Endowment Fund," for scholarship money. So now you state it was for building a wing of the Balamand. Why can't we get the story straight? A 401c3 is required by LAW to use the monies as they are designated or earmarked, i.e., money cannot be raised for Food for Hungry People and then used as a slush fund for hungry Metropolitans (as some insiders have informed me). Even if a portion of the money went to the Balamand for one or the other, that is how things work in a good 'ole boys club and most especially in the Middle East, "If you will do this for me, I will do that for you!" Also quaintly known as "I will scratch your back if you scratch mine." There is no question at all that Metropolitan Philip asked for this without the knowledge of the Diocesan Bishops, the Board of Trustees (with a few exceptions), the clergy of the Archdiocese, and a General Assembly of the Laity. This is a total betrayal and departure from his statements that the Church is not the Bishop alone, or the laity alone, but the two working together. In his eyes the Church is Metropolitan Philip and his boys. If he were concerned then he should have followed the procedure he himself put into place over the past 43 years. Do we not have a Constitution? Do the Clergy and laity want such arbitrary and unilateral decisions to continue with total disregard for the Tradition of the Holy Church? Complete disregard to the Sacred Canons? Throwing Clergy and Bishops under the bus at will? No matter what he says, no matter what he puts in writing, he laways does as he pleases when it is convenient for him or one of his cronies. When wuill we begin to act as a church with proper order condusive to unity rather than as those terrorized by the Mafia.
#126.96.36.199 anonymous on 2009-03-15 19:13
In America, like it or not, whether political or ecclesial, the subduing of freedom, always begs a tea-party! Phillip has just invited the whole diocese.
#39 annon on 2009-03-11 10:18
A tea party what a grand idea! A good priest friend of mine has just hit upon a solution to this problem that Met P has gifted to us; ALL metropolitanates should be dissolved immediately and become auxiliary patriarchates under the Patriarch. I for one propose that met P become First Auxiliary Patriarch, now thats a grand title isn' it? This move is consistent with the new statutes and in time the GREEKOrthodox Patriarchate of Antioch can become an auxiliary of whataver Greek show is still on the road...and Economos Nasr ccould become an Economos of the 3rd degree (Master) and assist the First Auxiliary Patriarch...sound silly? No way....it's about as sensible as the tripe that is being force fed by the metropolitan to his people......
#39.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-12 05:15
Fr. Constantine, bless!
While it is true, that there are those jumping on what they see as the "bash MP bandwagon, and so many pontificating about what they know nothing of, Mark Stokoe's article is nothing but truth. What part of the article do you wish to question? Its not based upon specuationl or inuendo, but the facts as presented by these public letters from +MP, +BB, +BM, and the 4 Detroit priests. If you have other evidence that would shed light on this, please help us out by showing it. It is the TRUTH that will set us free....so what are we afraid of?
Secondly, many of us in the AOC welcome this light being shone on us. Only those with something to hide should fear the light of truth. You don't speak for all of us. The rest of us cannot speak our minds because we will be punished. Thats the truth and you know it.
#40 Antiochian Clergy on 2009-03-11 17:10
Amen .. to #4. An accomplished knowledgable FACT that AOC clergy are punished by Englewood. Long known!!! And even in the OCA mess it was evident that clergy/laity spoke out -clergy everywhere. That led to Pittsburgh! The few disclaimed were restored. Fr. Nassr is a "right hand man" rewarded consistently by Englewood. So Much for Truth!!
#40.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-11 20:39
The letters from Bishops Basil and Mark were not public. They were private communication between brother bishops. That they have been tabloided for the world to see is the result of a betrayal of confidence by someone who was privileged to see them.
Whoever leaked these things should be horse-whipped.
(editor's note: Violence is never the answer....Moreover, you assume that sharing them was a betrayal of confidence. That may, or may not, be a valid assumption. In either case, the issues before the AOCA are so great and fundamental that it would seem the best way forward is through maximal transparency so that a common mind, which is now clearly lacking, may be grown. As such, it is important people know what everybody else is really thinking, as opposed to what everybody is just saying; or rather, as is the case now, not saying because of fear. )
#40.2 Anon on 2009-03-12 12:12
Mr. Stokoe: "Horse-whipped" is merely a figure of speech, not an advocacy of actual violence. It was meant to underscore the seriousness of such a traitorous act.
Anyway, your "may, or may not" is essentially an admission that you took possession of private communication that was not meant for public consumption. Certainly, these letters were not published by the bishops who sent them nor the bishop who received them. That means they were betrayed by someone else. It was a betrayal of confidence, nothing more or less.
This is not a question of "total transparency." If one bishop cannot send a letter privately to another, if everything they ever say to one another or ever say to anyone anywhere should be subject to publication, then we have truly arrived at a dark time in Church history. Based on your logic, I am not sure that even what is spoken in confession should not be subject to "transparency." The "truth" must be known! Knowing "what everyone is thinking" is not "best"! People should be able to think in peace, even bishops.
If Bishops Basil and Mark had wanted to make a public statement, they would have done so. They were attempting to follow the mandate of the Scripture, whose first admonition is NOT immediately to "take it to the Church," but to attempt to settle things privately between brothers. That you and your traitorous informant have chosen to short-circuit this commandment from God is truly cause for sorrow and has dealt a major blow to the perhaps useful cause your website has sometimes served.
Yes, there are public issues here that can be dealt with. However, leaking private communication between bishops does not serve the interests of "truth" or "transparency." It seems to me that there is a clear agenda at work here, and it is not the healing of the wounds in the Body of Christ, but rather pouring salt into them.
Mr. Stokoe, I urge you to stick only to using information acquired honorably. There is no honor in publishing private communication without the permission of those who produced it. I cannot possibly imagine that either bishop sent you their letters.
(Editor's note: Three years in this business has taught me that Shakespeare is usually the last word on such issues. No more so, when he wrote in Act I of Hamlet: " There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." I understand your anguish and pain, but it is important that such things be revealed so that issues may be discussed truthfully, and fully. It is not discussion that heals, it is truth. It took the OCA three years to begin to learn that, and many have still not taken it to heart. I implore you: please do not make our same error in beginning to resolve your problems. On the other hand, feel free to disagree.)
#40.2.1 Anon on 2009-03-13 06:56
"For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings" would seem to be your watchwords far more than the admonition of Hamlet to Horatio. The Danish prince's words were not an endorsement of the betrayal of trust. Indeed, if you recall, Hamlet was deeply pained when he learned of Ophelia's betrayal of his own trust in favor of the scheming of her father Polonius. The interests of your website and your informant would seem to be closer to the "politic worms" which eat at the fallen than the Dane himself.
One of the major sub-themes of the play is the betrayal of friendship and trust and how it destroys those who engage in it. You would be wise to read the Bard a touch more closely.
There is nothing that excuses such betrayal, Mr. Stokoe, not even non sequitur Shakespeare quotes used by someone whom, I suspect, probably hasn't read the work too closely.)
(editor's note: Since it seems I must bear the fardels, the relevant quote from Hamlet regarding our situation I find to be this:
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.
To be more specific, the issue under consideration earlier was not trust, or betrayal or politic worms, but your lack of imagination as evidenced by your assertion in the last sentence. Hence my quote. )
#188.8.131.52 Anon on 2009-03-13 08:54
You think the most relevant quote is the one where Hamlet is considering suicide? Well, there's a delightful wish from you to your fellow Orthodox Christians!
The Bard is whirring in his grave.
(Editor's note: Lighten up!)
#184.108.40.206.1 Anon on 2009-03-13 12:39
You all can take anything Fr. Constantine Nasr has to say with a grain of salt. He is part of the band of four who have poisoned the mind of MP. While there may be others, these four have made it their mission to discredit their respective former diocesan bishops on numerous occasions. God help them to repent!
#41 Anonymous on 2009-03-11 19:26
If I recall correctly, the loose plate offering on Palm Sunday in Antiochian parishes is sent to Damascus for the Patriarchate. I believe it would be entirely appropriate, given the recent actions of the Patriarch and the rest of the Holy Synod, for that offering this year to be redirected towards worthy causes within our own "I can't believe they're not dioceses!"
#42 Anonymous on 2009-03-11 20:48
Is that the Fr. Constantine Nasr; the one who gave a jewelled cross to Yassar Arafat a few years back? (See the Word magazine, December 1995) How honored we are to be lectured by the like. Please, continue.
#43 anon on 2009-03-12 08:22
No. It's the Fr Constantine Nasr who came to St Vladimir's last year and told us the proper place for the Khouriya (priest's wife) is in the kitchen. That, according to him, is her most significant role.
#43.1 SVS Seminarian on 2009-03-13 18:39
Oh my heart is breaking for you being so jeoulos that Yaser Araftat recieved a cross from Father Constantine Nasr that you did not receive onr from him.
I pray this jeoulosy does not kill.
Father Constantine, I have not gotten the pleasure to meet you. I am one of those who I converted into the Orthodox Faith. I have read some of your great books before I was converted.
Many thanks to you for writting these inspirational books and showed me and others some light,
I sure did not see any books written by B.B. nor by B.M.
Are you writting any more books? I look forward to reading them, for I learn much more from your books than other books. I still use your book in the divine Service.
For those of you who has not gotten Father Constanine books. I suggest you get them and read them than waisting your time on this web page.
May Our Almighty Lord and God send down the Holy Spirit umong all of us to do what is justice for His Holy Church.
Remember, We are Antiochians and Our Church Canon and rules will remain the same. and any of you converts think you are coming into orthodoxy to change Antioch, you are dreaming. I converted into Orthodoxy for what It is and How It stands firm.
Yours in Orthodoxy
#43.2 Anonymous on 2009-03-14 07:32
I understand the impulse to come to the defense of a leader that you've come to admire and respect. However, surely you must be joking when you said "Oh my heart is breaking for you being so jeoulos that Yaser Araftat recieved a cross from Father Constantine Nasr that you did not receive onr from him."
You may not be familiar with the background: Yasar Arafat was the leader of the PLO and Fatah. No matter whose side you are on in the conflict that has raged in the past 60 years, it is clear that this man had blood on his hands. He was not a good man in his personal life either. He did not deserve the honor and in the minds of reasonable people Father Nasr may have been wrong to bestow it.
You continued by comparing Father Nasr to Bishops Basil and Mark by writing "I sure did not see any books written by B.B. nor by B.M." I don't get this either because the Holy Spirit is the one who calls and bestows talents. Who are we to compare?
You ended by saying "Remember, We are Antiochians and Our Church Canon and rules will remain the same. and any of you converts think you are coming into orthodoxy to change Antioch, you are dreaming. I converted into Orthodoxy for what It is and How It stands firm." Well, I am not a convert and I am left speechless: you are wrong at so many levels.
First, all Orthodox churches have the same scriptures, accept the same ecumenical councils, are similarly organized, follow the same canons, and essentially worship the same. The differences are less than minor, they are trivial. By the way, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, for us a canon is not a law but a rule (it makes no sense to say "Church canon and rules").
Second, the facts of this case suggest that the four Arab priests of Detroit objected to Bishop Mark's directive for his priests to follow standard canons, rules, and procedures (yes, of the Antiochian Church!). It is often the case that coverts are more zealously Orthodox than the cradle born. Converts also are extremely careful to follow the rubrics, while some of the cradle born take liberties with them. In any case, these Detroit priests allegedly disobeyed Bishop Mark and went over his head to Metropolitan Philip. I cannot say for sure what happened. However, there are sufficient testimonies to indicate that church order was broken by the rebellious priests and, tragically, they seem to have won.
The coverts did not mess up; it was the cradle born. For Father Nasr to defend the indefensible is at best misplaced loyalty.
#43.2.1 Carl on 2009-03-14 18:17
This wouldn't be the first time an Archbishop acted as an agent provocateur to achieve his ends.
#44 Bishop Tikhon on 2009-03-12 10:31
Dear #40 Antiochian Clergy,
I find it funny how you say that "Only those with something to hide should fear the light of truth"... and yet you hide your name. Interesting.
#45 John on 2009-03-12 10:48
You are right, I do have something to hide....I am clergy in a church that only like yes man, and punishes dissent. If I were a braver man, I would speak out, but yes I am afraid of what I would put my family through....
#45.1 Antiochian Clergy on 2009-03-13 02:15
Excellent. Thats really key, voting w/ our money. Support our priest and local bishop, but keep the parish budget low so as to keep their share low. Find other ways to pay the priest and keep the lights on....
#46 Antionomous on 2009-03-12 21:14
I've had the feeling, reflected in my prior post, that the events surrounding this decision would be a catalyst to expose hidden struggles and pains within the Archdiocese and sadly the posts seem to confirm this.
On the surface there are questions about the nature of this decision and the repercussions for the Archdiocese and the larger Orthodox Church. Bubbling up from beneath those issues there seem to be two issues coming to light and as larger issue is discussed.
First there are a lot of Priests posting anonymously which seems to indicate there is a level of fear, perceived or real, about the possible consequences of speaking out. Regardless of how the larger decision regarding diocesan, now auxiliary, Bishops pans out the fact that people are genuinely troubled about directly expressing themselves says something about us. How can we face our disagreements and struggles if we are worried that our life/work as Priests is endangered if we are honest, even if we are honestly wrong? Yet how can we truly face what challenges us in a reasonable manner if we resort to the safety of anonymity?
Second it seems apparent there is, despite our efforts to be an "American" Archdiocese, a racial/cultural/ethnic divide in our Archdiocese that these events have brought from its hiding behind the polite world of hand kissing. Even if we achieve unity in structure this divide will still have to be addressed in an open and honest way if we're going to move forward.
I'm not a mover or shaker in the Archdiocese and I most certainly could be wrong, but I also may be accurately reading between the lines. They say that every crisis has within it an opportunity and perhaps this one does as well. Perhaps this time will actually be about unity if people take the opportunity, as the issues of structure settle themselves out, to also face the hidden sore spots that this discussion seems to be revealing.
After all what difference does it make who our Bishop is if our hearts and our vision are far apart? What difference will the commemorations make if we ourselves are not brothers and sisters in Christ?
I could, in writing this, be a fool or a fool for Christ, I have no idea. All I know is that I've experienced the pain when church issues turn ugly and I hope that since we seem to be heading towards some real soul searching and struggle (not a bad thing in and of itself) that we at least pull back from the abyss.
Let's start by signing our names to the posts in this forum. When we do that we have to take responsibility for what we say and its tone. This alone will help us treat each other as Christians. Then let's face whatever we have to face with one question in mind "What will bring glory to God, our nation to Faith, and help the Church become increasingly what its called to be?"
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
Dear Fr. John:
I hope to meet you in Palm Springs this summer. Given the likely temperatures please bring some Heilemann's Special export with you from La Crosse.
I am determined not to contribute to a discussion of Antiochian specifics here. It ain't the right place for a host of reasons. The issues themselves are absolutely worthy of our strongest interest and investment, especially prayer first of all.
You allude to having experienced your share of church troubles. So have I (charter member of the Veterans of Domestic Wars, Post 1998, Ben Lomond chapter), and it has led me to virtually the opposite answer to what you seem to imply in two questions you asked.
First you ask "What difference does it make who our bishops are if our hearts and vision are far apart?" I would argue that if the Church always is one (and must give diligence to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, as Ephesians urges, because the devil himself and sheer human weakness are always impelling people to divide from or trample upon one another) having the right bishop(s) is critical. We Americans have grown up in a religious milieu in which at the very least estrangement, if not outright division, from those whose visions differ is absolutely taken for granted. Quality bishops essential if we are to have unity and love for one another that is anything close to what Christ seemed to envision in his last presentation to the disciples. Bishops and those who follow them are bound to have more or less differing visions and need to work with one another anyway for God's glory and their own salvation.
You also ask "What differences the commemorations make if we ourselves are not brothers and sisters in Christ?" I do not deny the importance of who and how we commemorate, but it seems to me that your question is really a confused one replete with unspoken - and subtly damaging - American protestant presuppositions. Unless I misunderstand you, the question seems to really be asking "What difference do commemorations make if we do not FEEL like brothers and sisters in Christ based on great agreement as to vision and such?"
I believe rather that Orthodoxy teaches we ARE brothers and sisters in Christ despite any of the inevitable differences over "vision," and it is our duty to work diligently and wisely with our bishops to maintain that unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace ... while we all seek the increasingly clear vision of Christ that restores and enlivens.
For now let's pray and work elsewhere than here toward this goal. And hopefully share some Special Export this summer and thank God for the progress.
#47.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-03-13 09:17
Fr John the fear is real because the ruling authorities can be cruel. It is NOT for the anonymous priests to reveal their identity - it IS for the despots who crush any opposition to demonstrate that they have changed heart.
I will NEVER again offer up my family to be treated like dirt by ruling authorities within the church. Those who have not had some kind of clash with the authorities, I daresay are those who who lack the courgae of their convictions. Freedom of expression is at an absolute premium in an absoutist state that we have within the church. WE have tyrants who try to cower us and grey faced wraiths that tell us to come forth and speak openly while they themselves NEVER risk their position in the church. Fr John, both you and Fr George need to wake up.
And by the way, you both seem to think that anonymity is a safe choice...WRONG WRONG WRONG. It is the only choice at this time for those of us who have suffered for the faith at the very hands of those who are charged to protect and feed them!
#47.2 Fr Anony,ous on 2009-03-13 13:17
The name is already there: AOCA.
Time to join the: OCA
Elect Bp. Basil as the new Metropolitan.
It's pretty clear Met. Philip wants to continue to live in 1960 when the control of American churches by foreign bishops was the norm. We have come a long way. Most Orthodox in America now know this is a non-canonical situation and abnormal. Local churches are ruled by local bishops. Nothing in canon law about foreign bishops ruling local territories - not even Chalcedon 28. The time has come to throw off foreign rulers!
#48 Anonymous on 2009-03-13 06:14
I'm not sure about the future implications of this whole issue. I don't know if it will all blow over in six months, or if it will be a struggle for years to come. However, I am in encouraged by 2 facts:
1) Christ will not abandon his Church.
2) The future make-up of clergy in America. Look at our seminarians. Almost all of them are converts to Orthodoxy. They're not bound to any sort of ethnic ties that may hold more of their allegiance than the people of God do. I believe that they will bring a fresh face to American Orthodoxy, and while I don't think that they will fix all of the problems in the Church, they will be able to bring positive change that may have been otherwise impossible under the so-called "old guard."
Have faith, brethern. God is with us.
#49 Jacob on 2009-03-13 07:50
I think we should take a serious look at the scandalous letter of the Detroit clergy: George Shalhoub, Joseph Antypas, George Baalbaki and Ayman Kfouf
A Statement of the Decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch
Concerning the Role of Bishops
The clergy and laity of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America received with greater excitement and with much gratitude the decision regarding the Amending of Articles concerning Bishops according to the By-Laws of the Patriarchate of Antioch.
Who appointed them to be spokesmen for the whole archdiocese, both clergy and laity? If all the clergy and faithful were behind it, then why was the whole thing orchestrated covertly by Metropolitan PHILIP and his inner circle?
It affirmed once and for all that the Archdiocese is united under one leader who becomes again the point of reference of all bishops, priests, deacons, and the laity of this God protected Archdiocese. The Metropolitan is the hierarch who defines the responsibilities of the bishops and the place where they should serve. After four years of captivity, our church in North America will regain its direction under the mandate of our Metropolitan.
They state in their apology, they did not intend to offend anyone. How were we to understand the statement FOUR YEARS OF CAPTIVITY, if not as a personal attack slam against their own Diocesan Bishop as well as the others? This change represents a total departure from TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF CHURCH PRACTICE. This is not the ecclesiology of St Ignatius, nor of the Orthodox Church. How is this not a papal system? Should we stop reading his letters and commemorating him as a saint since you believe him to be wrong? Do you also believe Metropolitan Philip to be infallible as well?
We salute His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV and the members of the Holy Synod for issuing this historic decision on February 24, 2009. We pray that, as things take their normal and natural order, we will experience and enjoy the unity of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America, under the spiritual leadership of our Primate.
What is normal or natural about a historic decision that departs from two thousand years of church discipline? Is there not an obvious disconnect between returning to a normal and natural order and a departure from Orthodox Ecclesiology? There was unity. Now we have disunity (with you and those attempted to pull the wool over our eyes.).
Under this wise decision, the relationship between our Archdiocese and the Mother Church will reflect harmony and cooperation and appreciate our mission in North America. At the same time, it will help our hierarchs and brethren in the Mother Church witness the labor of love in the vineyard of our Lord.
How does a decision that sets Orthodoxy back 100 years help the North America Church? How is this wise? Is not our relationship with our so-called mother church severely damaged? Have they not lost all credibility?
The clergy and laity of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in the Midwest Region and, in particular, in the Greater Detroit Area, offer our thanks to God for this gift as we prepare to enter into the Lenten Journey. We pledge to work under our spiritual leader, His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, and pray that the Lord grant him many, many years, that under his blessed leadership and vision, we will respond to all challenges and proactively, lay the ground for a fruitful and glorious future.
Who are the “ we” of the Midwest that you speak of? Is it the plural of majesty? as the majority of clergy fervently disagree with this decision! What inflated egos! Will your obedience be more substantive than it was towards yur diocesan bishops and your own lack of obedience for the many years you have served as priests? Will you stop parish gambling events? Will you stop communing non-Orthodox? Will you stop sponsoring events which violate the Great fast, such as events with meat during Great Lent? I seriously dubt your obdience is anything more than lip service. Will you bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance?
“Among the first be mindful, O Lord, of our Father and Metropolitan PHILIP, whom do thou grant into thy holy churches in peace, safety, honor, health and length of days and rightly dividing the word of thy truth.”
Rightly dividing the word of Thy Truth? In St Paul the Bishop was the head of a local Church consisting of one city. This is nothing more than a power grab.
On behalf of the Antiochian Orthodox Churches in the Greater Detroit Area,
How dare you speak again on behalf of the clergy of the Greater Detroit area? Do only Arab clergy matter? Is there not a Western Rite Parish with Fr John Fenton in Lincoln Park, MI and Fr Benjamin Johnson of St Catherine Mission in Ann Arbor, MI? Is there a reason they are not included as "clergy" of the Greater Detroit area?
St. George Church of Troy St. Mary of Livonia St. Mary of Berkley
V. Rev. Fr. Joseph Antypas V. Rev. Fr. George Shalhoub V. Rev. Fr. George
Rev. Fr. Ayman Kfouf Baalbaki
Now let us look at their poor excuse of an apology.
An Important Statement from the Clergy of the Greater Detroit Area
March 6, 2009
We have heard, to our dismay, that our honored hierarchs, including Metropolitan PHILIP, are upset by a statement, which was recently circulated in the Greater Detroit Area, in support of the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch, concerning all bishops in the See of Antioch. This letter is to clarify and articulate the true meaning of that statement. We, indeed, have no intention of hurting and/or intimidating any of our hierarchs.
They had no intention of hurting and /or intimidating any of our hierarchs? Was it not a hateful, malevolent, defamatory, disparaging, and insulting terroristic assault? Is this how old country priests honor their hierarchs? Is this the way your parents raised you?
We sincerely apologize for any hurt caused unintentionally.
How can anyone deny this unprovoked assault was not premeditated and intentional? How can you deny you were not targeting your own Bishop, when the letter claims to be from the Greater Detroit clergy? Who are we kidding? The so-called apology is not worth printing as it lacks sincerity, conviction, and humility. Were you not simply gloating?
As obedient children of the Holy Church, we accept, with humility, this historic decision with much gratitude. We assure our love and respect to all revered hierarchs, and we pray for a smooth transition for our Self-Ruled Antiochian Archdiocese. May the Lord, our God, guide our steps.
How can you claim to be obedient children when you the other hoodlums orchestrated the removal of your father in Christ? Do not your actions and writing reveal the exact opposite? You do not love or respect your bishops. Are you not on a slippery path (Psalm 73)? May God have mercy on your souls and lead you to Christian repentance!
V. Rev. Joseph Antypas
V. Rev. George Shalhoub
V. Rev. George Baalbaki
Rev. Ayman Kfouf
#50 anonymous antiochian on 2009-03-13 10:22
Would anyone seriously believe this is an apology, rather than a defense? These priests need to go! They have embarrassed the Archdiocese, their brother clergy and their own parishes ( not to mention exposed the Metropolitan). Their actions are reprehensible and a reflection on their people (parishes) who either tolerate such priests or validate them, including the like of Constantine Nasr. If the faithful are embarrassed by their actions, they should organize to have them removed from the parish. Stop giving, start a letter campaign and petitions to the metropolitan asking for their removal. ...
#50.1 anonymous on 2009-03-14 06:20
If the Metropolitan and so-called spiritual advisor for the Order of St Ignatius, Joseph Antypas reject the ecclesiology of St Ignatius regarding the position of a bishop, why should any one contribute to the Order? Obviously the metropolitan and the so-called spiritual advisor no longer accept his writings, so send the books back to them. Why continue to support an organization where the patron saint is no longer acknowledged? So hold the payments until the Saint's theology and ecclesiology are retored within the Patriarchate. How could Antioch dismiss the ecclesiology of the second bishop of its patriarchte after two thousand years? Sadly I feel like Saddam Hussein is back in power.
#50.1.1 anonymous on 2009-03-14 21:11
Perhaps I misstated it but what I have seen from my own observations and from posts like what we have seen on this blog and others is that there are real divisions in the Archdiocese and this issue, regardless of how it settles out, has exposed some of those.
What I was hoping to try to communicate is that these issues would be good things to explore and work through towards resolution so that we use this experience to grow together. No, we don't all have to agree but we should at least try to treat each other like Christians and work through our differences so that we don't use labels like "old guard Arab" or "hard line convert" and poke at each other from anonymous distance.
Imagine a couple who are officially married but have unresolved personal issues. Yes they have a unity but that unity is missing something if they express it through clenched teeth. These questions about the role of our Bishops will work themselves out but I hope we can do it civily and that the underlying issues I have observed, issues of race/ethnicity/culture and the fear that some Priests, correctly or incorrectly, are experiencing, issues that these discussions have touched, on can also be honestly worked through as well so that we can be united both in and and through our Bishops and also in our hearts as well.
As I said before I may be a fool for Christ or I just may be a fool but I would like to hold out for the possibility that we could have both structural and canonical unity and also a unity of spirit. I would like to believe that these events have the potential to either rip us apart or help us work through divisions to a better way. We are brothers and sisters in Christ and it would be good if that were not simply a fact of our Faith but a reality in our hearts as well. It's not so much about emotions as doing what needs to be done to main the bonds of the Spirit in peace.
Whatever comes of this I simply refuse to hate or degrade people with whom I disagree. Families may disagree. Families may fight. But families should never treat each other with contempt. My experience is different from the "old country" Priests, but I was also mentored by one of the best, Fr John Khoury of blessed memory, and even if we are different I refuse, whatever else happens, to label or stereotype or do deliberate harm even when I disagree. Again I may be a fool but if its at all possible I want that idea to permeate all of this. I may not get it because all I can control is myself, but I will pray for it and work as hard as possible for it as God gives me strength.
I do, though, have one bit of discouraging news. Special Export is no longer made in LaCrosse. The company was sold to the LaCrosse Brewing Company. Sigh.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
I have a new hero....
#51.1 Antionomous on 2009-03-13 17:28
I am so sick and tired of hearing all this non-sense and garbage. The bottom line is that many of these Bishops, namely Bishop Mark, have over-stepped their bounds and began doing practices that threatened the unity of this Archdiocese. I know this for fact as I have personally witnessed this behavior as a clergyman in this region. I happen to agree with the detroit clergy and applaud them for saying what many of us are were already thinking. May God grant Met Philip Many Years!!!
#52 Anonymous on 2009-03-13 19:43
Obviously you are interested in derailing the disclosure of truth. Which one are you George Shalhoub, Joseph Antypas, Ayman Kfouf or George Baalbaki or Lou Mahshie? What practices did bishop Mark introduce that threatened the unity of his diocese or in your false accusations threatened the unity of the whole archdiocese? How silly! The AOCA had a local synod that could address such matters if there were any truth to this at all. Diocesan Bishops are accountable to their local synod (not just one Abp). You were all exposed. Stop trying to cover your own tracks and repent before the whole archdiocese goes down the shismee. Your attempt to simply lie and derail this matter is a too rediculous to gain any serious attention. The truth of the matter is bishop Mark always acted according to the policies of the Archdiocese and the canons of the Church and thus never violated any canons. If he did his synod would have disciplined him. They Never did! As there was no recourse for MP to continuously protect abberent practices of his buddies *(canonically)*, he asked Damascus to overide the canons. You are not afraid of bp Mark, you are afraid of Holiness and Orthodoxy! You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
#52.1 anonymous on 2009-03-14 06:07
To what practices are you referring? Was it stopping the parish in Canton from continuing Bingo (gambling in the church) that MP banned in the 1970's? Was it trying to get the church in Troy (Detroit) to hold their Paschal services no earlier than 10:00pm on Great and Holy Saturday in accordance with the edict from the Metropolitan (something they still disobey to this day)? Was it forcing the priest in Akron to stop giving Holy Communion by intinction as the Eastern Catholics do? Tell me, to which practices are you referring?
#52.2 Anonymous on 2009-03-14 06:31
If the Metropolitan and so-called spiritual advisor for the Order of St Ignatius, Joseph Antypas reject the ecclesiology of St Ignatius regarding the position of a bishop, why should any one contribute to the Order? Obviously the metropolitan and the so-called spiritual advisor no longer accept his writings, so send the books back to them. Why continue to support an organization where the patron saint is no longer acknowledged? So hold the payments until the Saint's theology and ecclesiology are retored within the Patriarchate. How could Antioch dismiss the ecclesiology of the second bishop of its patriarchte after two thousand years? Sadly I feel like Saddam Hussein is back in power. WHY HAS METROPOLITAN PHILIP MADE NO ANSWERS? DOES HE NO LONGER CARE?
#52.3 anonymous on 2009-03-14 21:22
In order to effect change the laity need to rise up and deluge the Metropolitan with letters regarding this situation in support of their Diocesan Bishops. Secondly, they should let him know they will hold all monies to the Archdiocese until this is rectified. The Greek Laity simply held the money is escrow until things changed. Third all members of the Order of St Ignatius should write stated they are witholding their monies until we return to the theology and structure that Ignatius himself taught. Fourth and most importantly, every lay person should write every Antiochian in your email list informing them of this web site and encourage them to support this effort for the sake of the church and its unity.
#53 anonymous this has worked before on 2009-03-14 05:50
What difference does it make if we're now refraining from meat but still chewing on each other? The issues are real but if we let this descend into name calling and threat making we'll create more damage over whatever damage may already be done. Brothers and sisters we're not wrestling against flesh and blood...
Imagine if someone was searching around the www as part of discerning whether they wanted to be Orthodox and came upon this thread and our comments!
all you people are just silly fools that do nothing but to fuel fire. Getting the laity to bombard the archdiocese? Halting monies? What stupidity! A decision has been made and its time for all to just accept that. Enough is enough.
#55 Anonymous on 2009-03-14 11:37
I am certain they could have said the same thing when an ecumenical council was called to rid the church of icons. Thank God good people did not let the decision stand. They could have said the same thing when the bishops betrayed the faith at the council of Lyon in the 1200's or the council of Florence in the 1400's, but the laity rejected the decisions of the bishops. I am certain you would like nothing better than to let this issue die for two reasons: 1) You benefit from it 2) You have something to lose if it is reversed. Halas! Halas! Halas!
#55.1 anonymous on 2009-03-14 18:39
If we wait as you suggest the only ones who have any voice in the matter will be the closed cirlce around the Metropolitan, who have a vested interest in quieting things down, they are the architects of this disaster. If however, the faithful hold their money in escrow and stop supporting the Order of St Ignasius he will see there is a problem even though no one around him will tell him there is a problem. I love the AOCA a do many of you. Sometimes desperate times require desparate measures. Witholding funds now will have the cummulative effect necessary before the national convention in July to make your voices heard loud and clear! Otherwise he may just tell you to shut up and sit down.
#55.2 anonymous on 2009-03-14 19:19
Thank you for bringing attention to the state of affairs in the AOCA. It is disturbing that there are so many anonymous postings here. Surely this says something about our Archdiocese. Why are people afraid to speak up (especially our clergy)? It says something very concrete about the state of things in our Archdiocese. Lord have mercy!
#56 David Feliciano on 2009-03-14 20:55
I couldnt agree more with Anonymous 55 and Fr. Chagnon. It's time that we stop all this and show solidarity and support to our Metropolitan and his auxilliaries. I am hopeful that all can move past this decision and focus on our Lenten journey.
#57 Anonymous on 2009-03-14 21:03
It's time for me to move on. I've got other things to do and will probably drop in a few times before the end of Lent but not do too much more writing.
In response to #57 anonymous, I'm not suggesting that we stay away from this discussion or ignore what has happened. But what seems important to me is the way we do it, whether we discuss these things and share our thoughts with a sense of Christian propriety for the issues and each other.
This decision took me by surprise, because, of course, I'm not privy to the inner workings of the Archdiocese or the Patriarchate. But as I seek understanding I have the choice of flailing around in the sea of rumors and accusations or approaching this all with a prayerful sense of inquiry and a trust in God.
I'm an old kayaker so I know that flailing in the water makes a big splash but very little forward motion. A steady, direct stroke makes all the difference.
So when I came to this forum I observed a lot of splashing around and people trying to generate more heat than light. Yet if there are issues we could talk about, and I believe there are, its just makes a solution more difficult if we have to face not just a problem but also layers of ill will and hard feelings generated by people taking unnecessary shots at each other.
I think its possible to be passionate about these things but not overcome by "the passions". I believe its possible to discuss without blaming. I hope people can disagree without being disagreeable. I mean, honestly, even if, hypothetically, Metropolitan PHILIP was completely wrong in his involvement with this decision surely he's done more than a few things to warrant our gratitude and respect and not have to be called a "pope" by someone who refuses to sign their name. Our Bishops, agree or disagree with them, basically give up any semblance of a normal life to serve us, listen to our problems, and slog through a lot of stuff that isn't even close to fun. And we who are Priests, when we anonymously act like children what message do we send to those who listen to us every Sunday?
In a few weeks our Bishops will meet and before that time we can thoughtfully attempt to learn more and approach this wisely. More than anything else we can number among our Lenten tasks a daily regimen of intercessions for our Metropolitan, our Bishops, and the whole of our Archdiocese. From those prayers we can come to forums like this, and wherever else we come in contact with each other, to learn more, discuss the implications, and seek to do and be what the Holy Spirit would call us to be in this situation and whatever else comes our way.
Thank you all for listening. Fr George, I probably won't be at the Archdiocesan Convention but you can call me if you want, I'm in the directory.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
Smart move; looks like a good way to guard the hard won unity and stability of the AOCA in the post-Met. Philip era by making sure that the future Metropolitan has a cadre of auxiliaries subordinate to him and free from the temptation to exercise unilateral authority within their own domain.
The Antiochians have had two major schisms in their brief history on this continent, in some quarters the effects of both still remain. The history of the Russy and the Toledo divisions reveal the narcissistic machinations of hierarchs, clergy and laity when left to their own devices.
Redefining the bishops as auxiliaries to the Metropolitan might stave off an attempt to set up camps rallying around one bishop in opposition to another and the myriad byzantine intrigues that would lure clergy and laity into taking sides.
With this move the future Metropolitan and the faithful may be spared the ‘ravaging dogs’ of Antiochian American history and, once the dust settles, all should be thankful.
#59 a-nonymous on 2009-03-16 07:35
It never ceases to amaze me how one can speak eloquently and make absolutely no sense. The reality is the AOCA is too large for one person to administer alone and diocesan structures are imperative. The auxiliary system did not work because it allowed some priests to do whatever they want with no accountablilty. Diocesan Bishops bring parishes into greater uniformity as a local bishop develops relationship with the clergy and people. Sadly, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Perhaps the clergy who have difficulty should retire or be retired as they do not have the ability to adjust to *true Orthodox Ecclesiology*. Unity of the archdiocese is not the real issue. It is a metropolitan and his buddies attempting to play games to make the bishops lives miserable. Innovation is anathema to Orthodoxy.
(Editor's note: Well, since you reading about all this on the internet, I would suggest that innovation is not anathema to Orthodoxy. )
#59.1 anonymous on 2009-03-16 12:45
"Smart move?" He's cauysing the the very schism he claimed to want to avoid by this misguided act.
And if he did succeed, what good is unity when it is forced? "By this all shall know that you are my disciples, because you have love for each other." Not that someone forced you into "unity."
#59.2 Antionymous? on 2009-03-16 16:27
The first entry on the commemoration list I submit with my prosphora now reads "Our Father and Bishop BASIL, Bishop of Wichita and Mid-America."
It is sad that within the Antiochian Archdiocese it now falls to those of us who bake the bread of the oblation to see to it that our bishops are commemorated at the Divine Liturgy.
#60 Subdeacon David Yetter on 2009-03-16 21:41
Subdeacon, that would be your Auxilliary prosphora? For use only in that location, of course.
#60.1 bob on 2009-03-17 08:27
I try, as best I can, to commemorate all the bishops of the Archdiocese, at least generically, in the proskemedia and our Metropolitan and in my case Bishop MARK by name always. I have to admit it felt a little odd to, after the announcement was made, drop Bishop MARK's name from the official commemorations at the Great Entrance and various extenias.
I became a Priest through Bishop MARK's hands and because of it my natural instinct is to always remember and pray for him. In addition I know more about him then any other Bishop in the Archdiocese and see how hard he works. One time I called him on the phone in Toledo and he told me had a hundred emails in his inbox and someone knocking on the door while he was trying to do his best to answer phone calls. Very few people know that he traveled and took care of all the various episcopal tasks while he was also taking care of his dying father and his family. Knowing some of the hardships he has endured elicits my pastoral concern for him as well.
So when the time comes to, for example, do the Great Entrance, I have to be very careful to do it as instructed because the words "and for our Bishop MARK..." flow out so easily. So I do as I am instructed and will do this until the instructions change yet at the same time this situation has caused me to realize that I don't pray for my Bishop, MARK, and all the other Bishops of our Archdiocese enough. It's easy to pray by rote on Sunday but I should be praying for them all every day and this I've endeavored to do in Lent and I hope the habit sticks after Pascha.
When the dust settles down perhaps one thing that will occur to us is how important and valuable our Bishops are, how they affect our lives, and how we cannot afford to take them for granted in our prayers whether they are the prayers of the Liturgy or the prayers in our closet. I hope, with God's help, to do better in this regard.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
I am not sure whether this has been made clear in all the "dust" being raised about this. Much of the focus of this online debate and critique has been directed towards Met. Phillip as the "chief architect" of this decision; the implication often being that the Holy Synod simply "rubber stamped" his inititaive. Is everyone aware that this decision pertains to "all Antiochian Archdioceses..." and not just to North America and our bishops? Is Metropolitan Phillip responsible for a patriarchate-wide decision affecting all Antiochian bishops? It raises questions (I agree) regarding Antiochian constitutional issues in North America and what "self rule" really means. But it seems to me this is a more complex issue than simply one of "power grabs" and so on.
#62 Kevin Allen on 2009-03-17 09:34
In Post #62, you asked the following rhetorical questions:
1) Is everyone aware that this decision pertains to "all Antiochian Archdioceses..." and not just to North America and our bishops?
2) Is Metropolitan Phillip responsible for a patriarchate-wide decision affecting all Antiochian bishops?
As to your first question, in fact, the only bishops affected by the decision are the bishops of North America. Aside from the Metropolitans and our diocesan bishops, the only other bishops in the Antiochian Patriarchate are already auxiliary bishops. While this information is not readily verifiable on the web, if you ask any of the Antiochian hierarchs, you will find it is true.
As to your second question, I agree that it is a whole lot easier to believe that Metropolitan PHILIP is responsible for a patriarchate-wide decision that affects only North American bishops.
Jimmy the Greek
#62.1 Jimmy the Greek on 2009-03-17 19:44
Along w/ Fr. John Chagnon, I have a growing affinity for the subdeacons in the Antiochian Church. Because these lads are not employed by the parishes (unless they are a youth director or something) and are not under the same obediance as the major clergy (they can't be transferred) that have the freedom to really be leaders in this mess. And it seems they are stepping up and answering the call. God bless you fine men....
#63 Antionymous on 2009-03-17 10:22
Published by Scripps Howard News Service, February 23, 2005
Calling for Orthodox unity, with diversity
By TERRY MATTINGLY
Scripps Howard News Service
Week after week, Eastern Orthodox hierarchs guide their flocks through the incense-shrouded rites that define their ancient faith.
Bishops also become experts at another intricate ritual - banquets.
So Metropolitan Philip, the Antiochian Orthodox archbishop of North America, was not surprised to be asked to make a few remarks at the final banquet of the 2004 Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Church in New York City. He was surprised when Greek Archbishop Demetrios indicated that this was more than a polite request.
"I reminded him that when I speak, I tell it like it is," said Philip.
What happened next caused shock waves that reached all the way to Istanbul, even if the archbishop's words would have seemed mild to outsiders who could not break the Byzantine code.
Philip addressed the delegates as Americans - not Greeks.
The Lebanese-born archbishop said it was time to challenge the ties that bind the new world to the old. He said what he has been saying since 1966, when he assumed control of a diocese that has grown from 66 to 250 parishes on his watch.
Philip brought greetings from Patriarch Ignatius IV in Damascus and his ancient church founded by Peter and Paul. Then he ventured into an ecclesiastical minefield, offering greetings from the 1000 Antiochian Orthodox delegates who, days earlier, had voted unanimously to approve what many Greek lay people have long demanded - a constitution granting them control of their own church in North America.
The delegates burst into applause. Philip plunged on.
"I told them that if I could sum up this new constitution, I would begin with the words, 'We the people,' " he said. "The hall erupted again. I told them we cannot ignore this truth - Americans are infested with freedom. We cannot ignore that our churches are in America and we are here to stay."
That was all Philip needed to say. Nikki Stephanopoulos, the veteran press officer for the Greek archdiocese, described the scene this way: "It would be accurate to say that he received an enthusiastic response."
The response was different in Istanbul. According to The National Herald, the Greek-American daily newspaper, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew criticized Demetrios for allowing Philip to "spread his propaganda in favor of establishing an autocephalous," or independent, "Orthodox Church in America!" When Demetrios said that Philip spoke as vice president of the Standing Council of Canonical Bishops in the Americas, Bartholomew reportedly exclaimed: "You should have stopped him!"
Months later, Philip continues to travel from altar to altar and banquet to banquet, offering his own people an even blunter version of the sermon he preached to the Greeks. This past week he was in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The archbishop continues to tell familiar stories about life in the Middle East. He still asks second- and third-generation Arab children if they can speak Arabic.
But Philip said Eastern Orthodox Christians must embrace Americans who seek ancient roots in the confusion of modern times. This will mean learning from converts who are not afraid to use words like "missions," "tithing" and even "evangelism." A symbolic sign of change: One of his newly consecrated bishops once taught biblical studies at Oral Roberts University.
Change will be difficult, but bishops must realize that they are called to spread their faith to others, not just to "to preserve it for ourselves," he said.
Orthodox leaders will find a way to save the traditions of their homelands, said Philip. But the clergy and laity must realize that their own children and grandchildren are Americans who need a faith that is stronger than old music, familiar foods, folk dancing and traces of an ancient language.
"I believe in Orthodox unity, with diversity," he stressed. "We will not melt into the Greek archdiocese and the Greeks will not melt into our archdiocese. ... But we must have a united synod that speaks to this country. We must speak to America, not as Arabs and Greeks and Russians and Romanians and Bulgarians. We need to speak with one Orthodox voice on the issues that affect our country and our country is America."
#64 anonymous on 2009-03-17 11:22
Published by Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East,
October 10, 2003
Synodal Decision Regarding Autonomy of the Antiochian Church in North America
On the latest meeting of the Antiochian Holy Synod 7- 10 October 2003 -Damascus
On Tuesday 7th of October 2003 , and under the guidance of His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV, the thirty six Holy Synod meeting took place at the Patriarchate in Damascus with the presence of:
1. H. E. Elias Kurban Metropolitan of Tripoli, Koura
2. H. E. Philipus Saliba Metropolitan of New York and all North
3. H.E. Isperidon Khoury Metropolitan of Zahlé and Baalback
4. H.E. Constantine Papastifano Metropolitan of Baghdad and Kuwait
5. H.E. Georges Khouder Metropolitan of mount of Lebanon
6. H.E. Yohanna Mansour Metropolitan of Latakia
7. H.E. Elias Audé Metropolitan of Beirut
8. H.E. Boulos Bandali Metropolitan of Akkar
9. H.E. Elie Saliba Metropolitan of Hama
10. H.E. Elias Kfuri Metropolitan of Sour, Saida and Marja Eyoun
11. H.E. Antonio Shedrawi Metropolitan of Maxis
12. H.E. Kirilos Domat Metropolitan of Argentine
13. H.E. Damasinok Mansour Metropolitan of SanPawlo and Brazil
14. H.E. Saba Esber Metropolitan of Bosra and Horan
15. H.E. Boulos Saliba Metropolitan of Australia
16. H.E. Georges Abu Zakhem Metropolitan of Homs
17. H.E. Boulos Yazajy Metropolitan of Aleppo and Iskandaroun
And the Bishops:
H.G. Elias Nagem, H.G. Yohanna Yazajy, H.G. Mousa Al Khoury, H.G.
Basilios Nasour, H.G. Louka Khoury, H.G. Ghattas Hazim, H.G. Dimitri
Hosni and Fr. George Dimas
H.E. Gabriel Saliba Metropolitan of Europe and H.E. Sergios Abed
Metropolitan of Chili were absent for health reasons.
Members of the synodical ad-hoc committee for the issue of Autonomy
of the archdioceses of north America were also present. Those members
Mêrtre Albert Laham
Dr. Tarek Mitri
Father Joseph Antipas
Dr. George Farha
* Mr. Fawaz Khoury
After raising the opening prayer, the Patriarch had wished a constructive meeting saying:
"I'm very much pleased and honored to be together this morning in one heart and in one spirit. This is not new in our Church because such spirit and such atmosphere reflect since years our synodical meetings. We meet together with the grace and love of our God and with the grace of the Holy Spirit".
After approving the daily agenda, the Holy Synod discussed many issues especially the case of Autonomy of the archdiocese of north America.
After few days of discussion, the Holy Synod approved and signed the following resolution related to the above case:
Resolution of the Holy Synod of Antioch
Self rule and Jurisdiction:
The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is and shall remain self ruled within its present jurisdiction (The United States of America and Canada) and shall constitute one unified ecclesiastical Antiochian entity.
The Archdiocese is governed by the Holy Scripture, the Sacred Tradition, the Holy Canons, the Constitution of the Church of Antioch and this Synodical resolution and by its Constitution and Bylaws.
Recognition of Auxiliary Bishops as Diocesan Bishops and Eparchial Synod:
Upon adoption of this resolution, the present Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese, Bishop Antoun, Bishop Joseph, Bishop Basil, and Bishop Demetri shall become Bishops of four Dioceses of the Archdiocese and bear their titles. The Diocesan Bishops will constitute under the Metropolitan the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese which will be its governing authority.
The Eparchial Synod shall determine the number of dioceses and their boundaries.
Procedure of election of Diocesan Bishops:
A- The General Assembly of the Archdiocese shall nominate three candidates for a Diocesan Bishop. When Diocesan Assemblies shall be constituted, the nominations shall then be made, by the said assemblies.
B- The Patriarch of Antioch, shall delegate three Metropolitans to participate on behalf of the Holy Synod together with the Eparchial Synod in the election of the Diocesan Bishops. The Metropolitan shall preside over the electoral assembly.
C- The consecration and enthronement of the Bishops shall be accomplished in North America, by the Metropolitan, the Patriarchal Delegate and the members of the Eparchial Synod.
D- In case of insufficient number of qualified nominees from the Archdiocesan clergy, the Archdiocese shall nominate from the list of nominations kept in the Patriarchal records.
Procedure of election of the Metropolitan Primate:
The Metropolitan Primate shall be nominated pursuant to the Constitution of the Church of Antioch and to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Archdiocese. Three names of nominees for the Metropolitan Primate shall be submitted to the Holy Synod of Antioch for election by it, of one of the three names. The Metropolitan shall be a member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate as well as of the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese.
Right of appeal and Synaxis:
Bishops of the Eparchial Synod have the right of appeal of its decisions to the Patriarch of Antioch who shall be the final judge along with the Holy Synod of Antioch. The Bishops of the Archdiocese shall attend the gatherings or synaxis of Antiochian Bishops which may be called by the Patriarch of Antioch.
Decisions of the Holy synod of Antioch:
The decisions of the Holy Synod of Antioch shall be binding on the Archdiocese on matters of doctrine, liturgy, sacraments, relations with autocephalous Orthodox Churches and ecumenical policy with regard to other Christian and non–Christian bodies.
Amendment and translation:
The Patriarchate of Antioch and the Archdiocese shall each amend its constitution in accordance with above. The Archdiocese shall submit its amended constitution to the Holy Synod of Antioch for approval.
The Arabic text of this resolution and its English translation shall have equal force and validity.
#65 anonymous on 2009-03-17 11:27
Yes, Kevin, it does apply to the two other non-Metropolitan bishops in the Antiochian See who were already auxiliary bishops. In other words, it was obviously targeted to the American Archdiocese. Even the Metropolitan and his supporters are not trying to use this excuse as a cover.
#66 Anonymous on 2009-03-17 12:41
Greetings of peace to you and your readers,
Let me start by saying that accountability is good thing. But it is two folds process. Accountability does not mean to hold others accountable only. But it means to hold oneself accountable first.
I think as an editor you have a sacred obligation not to let this process of accountability on a site you host become a platform to condemn, trash, and judge other people and certainly it should not be allowed to become a race issue.
Balamand graduate priests are colored in a very negative way on this site. Who said that all Balamand priests think alike???? Were not many of the bishops who were affected by the decision Balamand graduates or were associated with Balamand at one point???
Please make an effort to clarify to people who are not aware of what kind of great school Balamand is and how many holy people graduated from it and served the Church all over the world leading very holy life.
Priests of Arabic background are depicted in a negative light. Why all people or priests of Arabic background are put in the same category???????? Were not many of the esteemed bishops who were affected by this decision of Arabic background or Arabic descent????
Cradle Orthodox priests are colored in a negative way as well. How did this separation between cradle Orthodox people or priests and converts come into the picture?????? Were not most of the reverend bishops who were affected with this decision cradle Orthodox?
I am sure that you do not want your site to turn into yellow journalism site and plat form for anonymous gossips and insults. I want to urge you as an editor who is trying to promote a good cause in a brotherly love to ask people specially that we are going through the Great Lent to exercise good judgment while asking for accountability of others and not to fall into the sin of condemning and trashing others especially those whom they never met and know nothing about them.
May God bless you and your readers. Amen
Fr. Joseph Samaan_Daytona Beach, FL
(Editor's note: Please know Father, I have the greatest respect for Balamand, especially the Dean of the Theology School, Dr. Georges Nahas, with whom I had the honor to serve in SYNDESMOS. He was the President while I was General Secretary,and I remember his wise guidance even now.
That being said, I think the present crisis has revealed fault lines in the Archdiocese of which many now seem to claim have always been there. My experience in the OCA scandal would lead me to suggest that such fault lines are best exposed, marked and dealt with openly. Covered up, they only reappear, each time causing greater destruction.
Finally, I would enjoin you, as I did the Bishops of the OCA. Don't blame the messenger, Father. I don't make this stuff up - this is the voice of your people. It is my task to allow them to be heard. It is your task to tell them to be quiet, but to embrace them, deal with them, and heal where you can. The pain is real. Your response can be no less.)
#67 Fr. Joseph Samaan on 2009-03-17 17:15
Greetings of peace and love to you and your readers,
Please allow me to clarify an important point that I think was missed by you. Accountability is very good thing. Open discussion is good thing as well.
The issue at hand here has to do with a decision that is in question based upon theological and Church canon basis. Instead of encouraging readers to attack the faults of others, they need with your guidance to be directed to search and look into the theological basis of this decision and critique that aspect, not to critique the people who support it or oppose it.
I think you should invite and encourage people who have knowledge in the areas of church canons and theology to address this issue with some well written articles. Invite them to help the readers understand whether this decision is solid theologically or not. Let some of the expert show with reference to Church canons where such a decision stands. Provide your readers with reference books and sites to search that on their own as well and let them come back and share their results.
Do not you agree with me that this is a better approach?
Thank you and God bless you and your readers,
Fr. Joseph Samaan
#67.1 Fr. Joseph Samaan on 2009-03-17 20:32
I don't know if Mark agrees, but I do! I think these threads have frankly come to the end of their usefulness. Personally, I think this thread HAS been useful and I believe the work Mark is doing is beneficial in bringing this to light. However, I do think most of the charges, suspicions, innuendos, etc. have been brought to light. Now it is time (in my opinion, obviously) for two things to happen: (1) HE Philip to address them if he chooses, for purposes of clarification and, if necessary, correction (of errors); and (2) there should be reasoned work on the canonical and constitutional (archdiocesan) issues. These are above my head and I assume the heads of many others who have henceforth participated in this thread. So yes - why not "commission" if you will the work of the canonists among us. I am happy to offer them an audio microphone too on the pod cast I do. I won't mention the name, lest this sounds like a crass advertisement. But my offer stands!
#67.2 Kevin Allen on 2009-03-18 11:52
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