Monday, March 16. 2009
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Well said Mr. Stokoe. Thank You for your support!
#1 Sub-Deacon George (St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral) Ottawa on 2009-03-16 14:36
sorry, i'll go so far as to mention who i am and where i come from, but thats it. i do appreciate partial anonymity-although the 907'ers will like know who i am as does mr. stokoe. anyway-
this all seems trivial-why is this of any concern to us (non-AOCA)? -the answer is-it isnt. but here's my two cents anyway:
if those in the AOCA want to separate from the archdiocese then they should, stop the drama-put up and shut up and LEAVE. go start your own church. why drag everyone else down within your diocese? just leave-sew your fruits and "rule" yourselves already...
finally, does it REALLY matter??? do the titles, names and "jurisdictions" really matter to the message of God? or is this all a matter of petty pride...
#1.1 brad from AK on 2009-03-17 00:33
Dear Brad from AK,
By the way, Fr. Paul and I lived in AK from 1992-1993 where I was the music and liturgical teacher at St. Herman's.
It DOES really matter. As long as we have splintered jurisdictions, as demonstrated by splintered administrations, I really believe it is very difficult to say we have a unified Orthodox church in America. So many jurisdictions within America is uncanonical anyway.
Fr. Paul and I, being OCA, have been to Antiochian, Greek, Serbian, Romanian, and OCA churches. But time and again, we sublely stand as "outsiders" because we claim to be of one certain jurisdication, in this case, the OCA. There is too much variation in administrative tasks, too much variation of who serves where and when, to make the Orthodox Church an efficient witness for Orthodoxy when we are busted up in so many jurisdictions. This gets so badly abused anyway, such as when one group can just petition another jurisdication, even if the priests were defrocked.
It is ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY extremely wearisome to go to a different jurisdiction for a service to know we are not one administration, not one spirit in administration. It does affect my sense of spirit that we are unified in theology.
As I have recently pointed out, a certain Greek church in our area is in need of a priest. But they did not consider Fr. Paul because he is not Greek enough. The parishioners want a Greek priest; the Greek Bishop supports it. But this Greek bishop lives in America.
What is wrong with an American priest, who is a convert to Orthodoxy, who went to an accredited American seminary, SVS, and earned an M.Div. and was ordained to the priesthood (in which his wife also has an M.Div from SVS). No, this was not honored. This was not "kosher." Fr. Paul was not Greek enough.
Enough of this nonsense in American Orthodoxy!
ABSOLUTELY and UNEQUIVOCALLY this multi-jurisdictionalism, with multiple administrations, is an extreme drag on our unity.
#1.1.1 Patty Schellbach on 2009-03-17 14:35
Maybe one day, hopefully before my great grand children lay in the grave we will have an American Orthodox Church. But, things look grim from where I stand. There so many people pulling the church in so many directions, all of them working under the assumption that they are doing it the right way. On one hand you have the Greeks, Arabs, Russians. They are easy targets because they have "ethnic" labels and customs. Then on the other hand you have the "Americans". All of these groups magically know what's best for Orthodoxy in America. All the "errors" of our "ethnic" brothers and sisters have been posted here time and time again, so it is no use rehashing them. Instead, I would like to share some thoughts on the what I percieve are the short comings of the "Americans".
Right off the bat, I'm afraid that those of us who are spouting off about having an American Orthodox church for Americans where they speak American and dress American and sing American, and preach American and eat American, etc., etc., etc., have a biased or limited understanding of what it means to be American. From what I have gathered here, I get the sense that American for most Americans means: English and Anglo-American "culture". I suppose, depending on what your particular political views are, you might not have a problem with that view of America. But, for one whose first language is not English, and whose native culture is not "anglo-American", this view of America is severely defective.
I live in an area where if you walk into a supermarket, you might hear Tagalog, Vietnamese, Spanish, Madarin, Cantonese, Korean, Arabic, any number of African languages, and occasionally some English. This is where our popular notion of "America", at least as it is used here, breaks down. As and educator working with students and parents from all of these different backgrounds, I know first hand that a strict English/American only position simply does not work. It may get people out to the poles, but it does nothing to bring people together. There must be a great effort on the part of those doing the ministering to understand and ultimately empathize with the culture your dealing with. A big part of that is language. Language is not just some silly dispensible tool, but a key into a whole different way of thinking about the world and one's place in it. It is central to one's identity. Do away with language and you place identity in limbo.
I see very little desire from most people to accomodate all these different cultures and languages in our vision of American Orthodoxy. "English and American!" rings hallow to those for whom English is a second language and "American" might mean souvlaki, or maybe rice and beans and tortillas, or maybe curry and nam.
It seems we are content to stick to what we know, and bury our talent, praying and hoping that the Master won't be too mad at us. No, this simply will not do. If were are going to effectively minister to all American, we must be willing and ready to do as St. Nicholas of Japan did and become one of "them", yes that's right, we must become the "other". The difficulty of our task is that the other is not one homogenous group, but a multitude of ethnicities and languages. But the enormity of the task does not excuse us from it. If we are not willing to take the time and effort to understand the cultures and languages of those to whom we are ministering, then maybe we are not worthy of the task. If we ourselves are not willing to become students of those cultures and languages, then we probably have no right to be their teachers. The reality is that if we are going to be effective ministers we must "become" Chinese, Korean, African-American, Mexican, Central American, Indian, Pakistani, Iraqi, etc. We must have the boldness to start Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc., language missions on U.S. soil and not hold Orthodoxy captive to English. Can't you see that a diverse American Orthodoxy can only be a good thing and that an Enlgish/American only a cold, stale,suffocating dead- end?
But where are our leaders? They are expecting the flock to conform to their needs and wants, instead of humbling, even humiliating themselves and becoming the other, becoming one with their flock, even if that means conforming to a different language and culture, even, heaven forbid, Greek.
So, until we do away with the worn out and sterile mentality of Greek only, Arabic only, Russian only, English only , we will languor in our own mediocrity.
Holy Heirarch Nicholas, pray to God for us!
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2009-03-17 22:35
"I'm afraid that those of us who are spouting off about having an American Orthodox church... have a limited understanding of what it means to be American."
Seldom have a heard such a bass ackwards discussion of what it means to be an American. There was a time not too long ago when people actually assimilated into "American" culture. No more. But go ahead, live in your ethnic ghetto, in the name of "diversity". Never mind E Pluribus Unum. No, even though I was born here, I think I'll start calling myself a Russian-American, or should it be a Swedish-American, or maybe, since I'm a 50-50, I'll just be a Euro-American (some twit actually called me one). And let's change our currency to E Pluribus Pluribus.
#22.214.171.124.1 Michael Strelka on 2009-03-18 07:40
This is exactly what I was talking about. We do not live in an English only society. We had better come to grips with that fact. Diversity is not some far off destination, it is a concrete reality. But, go ahead, limit yourself to English, and all you'll see is the same people coming (and going) from our churches (white ex-catholic and ex-protestants). Maybe they are the only ones worthy of Orthodoxy. Us immigrants must first give up our language and cultural heritage and trade it in for English and American to fully belong to Orthodoxy. Isn't this the same accusation you make against the "ethnic" churches. Well, the same can be made for your version of "american" orthodoxy. Thank God, I have a bishop who understands diversity is a reality and has made some, much effort to minister to the myriads who do not speak English as a first language.
Peace be with you Michael, I think you're wrong, but peace to you none the less.
#126.96.36.199.1.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-18 08:25
Yes, we should minister to immigrants, but for how long? Forever? A few blocks from my house there is a German Lutheran church and a Swedish Lutheran church. Do you think they worship in German or Swedish? I could write a dissertation on this.
"Us immigrants must first give up our language and cultural heritage and trade it in for English and American to fully belong to Orthodoxy."
This is completely off your point, and btw I never even hinted at that. Your point was that I have a limited understanding of what it means to be an American. I was born here; don't you think I know? But please, tell me, why did you come here, if you never want to assimilate and BECOME an American?
#188.8.131.52.1.1.1 Michael Strelka on 2009-03-19 09:53
I challenge you, brother, to apply your dissertational skills and dig up all the information you can on the civil wars and violence in Central America from as far back as the 1930's. Those who controlled the army and the land could not have done so without the help of a certain country. Many of us who came here did not come here by choice, but were forced out and became refugees here. Many of those wars in CA were proxy wars between USA and USSR and Cuba. America's role in that bloody mess is well documented. There were no good guys: all have extremely bloody hands. America was fighting to keep certain ideologies from getting a foothold in the Americas and to maintain their own freedom and security. But at what price? At the price of the freedom and Security of El Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Honduran and Guatemalans. We, the poor peasants who didn't know Marx from Adam, were displaced conscripted, tortured and exiled. This is an undeniable fact. We fled to the States hoping to find refuge, but instead were told that because we weren't directly targeted, we were not welcome. But, how could we go back? So we stayed illegally and in time some of us became legal.
There is still no real peace or normalcy in our lands. The violence of the wars remain, the poverty persists, the hopelessness still suffocates. The greatest sin is still to be young.
That is why I am here. I am American as you or anyone else. I pay my taxes, watch TV, visit malls, have an ipod. But you see, I still speak my native language, I teach it to my children and encourage others to hold on to what is best of their culture. I don't have to abandon any of my cultural or linguistic heritage to be American. I don't have to assimilate into the dominant culture to be American. I don't have to pray and worship in English to be American, in fact most of my life i've prayed in a non-Enlgish language, but that hasn't stopped me from contributing to society.
So, this is what I'm getting at: We don't have to pray and worship all in the same language or belong to one certain group, and certainly not the dominant group. We should have the freedom to pray in the language that we love the most. To be sure, we must have a common language when we come together, but when we are not together, we can use our native language. And how long do we have to do this? Why do we have to have a time line? I've never read in any of our canons that we must all pray and worship in the same language because we reside in the same country. I guess it all comes down to freedom. Are we free or are we not? Again, thank God that my bishop gives us that freedom and opportunity.
I had a heated discussion about this with a close friend just the other day. And what it boils down to is love. Our bishop extends and expends himself to minister his non-English speaking flock because he loves us. No body else is interested in reaching out to non-Slavic, non-Arabic, non-Anglo, non-Greek, etc., people because nobody really cares enough to reach out to them and engage them in a way and in language that they understand and are comfortable in.
but hey, who cares.
#184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2009-03-19 21:06
Sorry. If you're going to come here, for whatever reason, you or your family is going to assimilate into the American culture eventually. My grandmother spoke fluent Norwegian. I don't know a word of Norwegian. As I don't live in Norway, that's okay with me. Your grandchildren may know Spanish, but they likely won't speak it at home. That's the way it works. Ask any fourth generation American. Now, you tell us to embrace multicultural diversity. Which culture? Here in Portland, we have Somalis, Ethiopians, Ukrainians, Russians, Hmong, Vietnamese, Mexican, and many others. How many languages do you think I should have to learn, Anonymous? Really, doesn't it make more sense for the newcomers to learn OUR language?
#18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.1 Scott Walker on 2009-03-20 08:55
Multiculturalism doesn't require everyone to embrace one particular culture. It basically says: live and let live. You are right, the 2nd and 3rd generations won't have a non-English first language. Our customs and traditions will inexorably be swallowed up by "pop" culture. Our different shades and hues will be bleached. So, there is no need for you to feel threatened by people like myself. We will soon be like you, we will all be the same, or if you prefer: assimilated.
Sorry for the sob story, Scott. But thanks for the empathy, anyway.
#126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.1.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-23 07:31
I forgot to ask earlier, Scott, but which which american culture do you reccomend? The black gangsta culture, or maybe the black pentecostal culture, or maybe the chicano culture, or perhaps the rural white protestant culture, or perhaps the young professional Korean presbyterian culture in Queens. Each one of those uses some form of English, so you shouldn't have any objections there. Perhaps I should try your flavor of American culture. If I have to assimilate, I should think I can choose which culture I wish to ape.
(editor's note: So those of who joined the Orthodox Church are "aping" Russian, Arabic or Greek culture? Because there isn't a great deal of Norwegian-Orthodox culture around these days outside of a Russian parish in Oslo. Hmmmm.)
#184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.1.2 Anonymous on 2009-03-23 08:22
Yeah, and many of us were forcefully assimilated into "American culture" through violence, intimidation and ethnic cleansing...I do not live in an "ethnic ghetto", sir, I choose to hang onto whatever is left of my culture after "the Americans" almost destroyed it, that is the least we can do to honor our ancestors who survived that nightmare. You use "diversity" as though it were a curse word, that is scary to me. National Mythologies and patriotic catch-phrases don't change history.
Moses the Tlingit
#18.104.22.168.1.2 Moses on 2009-03-18 11:29
You mis-read the make-up of the OCA. Not all members of the OCA are Americans. Some are Anglophone Canadians and fully intend to remain so; others are Francophone Canadians and fully intend to remain so; others are Spanish-speaking Mexicans and fully intend to remain so; others are Mexicans speaking native languages and fully intend to remain so. That necessarily means a significant cultural diversity within the OCA. In my part of the world, more than a few in our OCA parishes see and define themselves as anglophone Canadians politically but as Ukrainians (or even as Bukowinians, Volinyaki, Halychani, etc.) ethnically, culturally and even linguistically. So that's more diversity.
You also mis-read the U. S. cultural reality. "E pluribus unum" may have been an iconic American cultural value in your (and my) youth; but you have to admit, New York, Chicago, etc., were just as wildly diverse, both linguistically and culturally, then as they are now. In parts of Pennsylvania, Plattdeutsch (or Ukrainian or Slovak or Hungarian) were spoken as frequently as English. And even in that flag-waving, allegiance-pledging, VFW-Friday-night-fish-fry corner of suburban Illinois where I grew up, if you asked someone born in the States "What are you?", the immediate answer---in English---would be "I'm German...or Italian...or Slovak...or Romanian...or Swedish..." The fact is that when we were kids (if you're a "boomer"), many of us saw ourselves as "hyphenated Americans" before that term was invented.
Unity in the Faith does not demand and has never demanded cultural and/or linguistic uniformity. Sadly enough, it is the Roman Catholic Latin-Rite dioceses in North America which provide the best model for what the Church should look like: "ethnic parishes" sprinkled generously among English-speaking parishes, all under one bishop, and remaining so as long as the need for such parishes remains (and with continuing immigration, that seems to be for the foreseeable future).
And that doesn't even begin to touch on Western Rite Orthodoxy as seen in the Antiochian Archdiocese and ROCOR...
So get used to the cultural diversity. It ain't goin' anywhere.
#22.214.171.124.1.3 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-03-19 05:58
Fr. Philip -
Where I lived until recently on the NW side of Chicago, there are a number of Catholic parishes that are multi-language. You could easily tell it from simply driving down a major street (such as Addison Avenue). This is an area with a very large number of Polish and Spanish speaking folks (Portage Park neighborhood). Parishes would list Mass times on their signs, specifying which Masses were Polish or Spanish.
Aside from a Polish Jesuit-run church on Irving Park Road near Austin Avenue, I'm not aware of any parishes that celebrated services in one language that was not English.
#126.96.36.199.1.3.1 Michele Hagerman on 2009-03-19 10:13
Here in Edmonton, two blocks from my rectory, there is a Vietnamese Catholic parish and, directly across the street from it, a First Nations parish. Not too far away are an Italian parish, a Croatian parish, and a Polish parish---each with its own building(s). And that doesn't count the huge Ukrainian Catholic cathedral spitting distance (not that I would, mind you) from my front door. So while Chicago may have changed somewhat (due largely to the shortage of priests, I suspect), here things continue as they have done, at least for now.
But I'm delighted that you were on the North side!
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-03-20 07:07
are we not canonically unified? -what youre telling me seems to be a contradiction of sorts -i dont mean to offend, but you seem to seek separation from the Patriarchal church, yet somewhat promote unification of a national church. that said, i dont understand the issue with "splinter " jurisdictions. wasnt it through Pentecost that the "Gospel" was spread? -i dont believe the Holy Spirit really cared about petty jurisdictions at all, neither should we as long as we remain unified under the canons of our faith. at any regard it seems the Patriarchal church would offer the neccessary disciplines required to preserve the tradition of our faith which have been held intact for as long.
i have a question-if you and many others who subscribe to your manner (i should say "style" -we all worship in the same manner canonically) of worship arent really "Antiochian" (Antiochean in the spoken sense), why struggle to even be part of that particular body- either Patriarchal or diocesen? -why not go to where the associations have greater commonalities?
#220.127.116.11 brad from AK on 2009-03-18 01:14
Sounds familiar to a situation out here in California. A Greek parish who has no permanent priest, had an OCA visiting priest serving some of the liturgies. When one person was asked if they like the man, she answered, "Yes, but I do wish we could have a priest from our own faith!" There will be NO unity in this country as long as this attitude exists.
#18.104.22.168 anonymous on 2009-03-18 13:07
In America, the land that I love, you can be from any ethnicity in the world.
But we still have one president.
He rules over all these myriads of ethnicities, under one central administration.
Hmmmmm.... why can't our Orthodox churches in America do the same? We can still have the ethnic flavors and ethnic customs. My OCA priest husband was even ready to do Greek in the service for which there was need of a priest.
But no go. that was not enough. How pathetic.
#22.214.171.124.1 Patty Schellbach on 2009-03-18 18:54
With all due respect Ma'am, I believe they have a right to choose who they want to their pastor to be. Just as we choose and vote for representaties that best represent our views and values and whom we just plain like, I think the parishoners at the Greek parish have chosen to find some one who better identifies with them culturally and linguistically....
#126.96.36.199.1.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-19 07:21
"Pathetic?"...now that wasn't very nice. (Is that a little better, Mark?)
#188.8.131.52.1.2 Anonymous on 2009-03-19 14:51
Personally, I am sick of hearing about the spirit of Antioch or the Antiochian tradition and the lack of charitable tolerance for legitimate diversity. I am fed up with hearing more about Antiochian, Greek, Hellenic, Serbian, etc. I am fed up with hearing about Damascus, Constantinople, Moscow and Belgrade, etc. I am even getting fed up with hearing the word Orthodox tossed around when we simply need to return to hearing the Gospel and being Christian. Sadly, the Church seems to have fallen among thieves. How can we claim to be Orthodox if we lack the basics of simply being Christian? Forgive me!
#184.108.40.206 anonymous on 2009-03-23 06:58
Fr. Anthony Gabriel has always supported + Philip 100%, nothing new here.
What this whole thing comes down to is, "Will the AOCA remain under the thumb of 'foreign bishops' or is it way past time that the AOCA REALLY led itself?" Apparently declaring "self-rule" or "autonomy" means nothing. Fr. Schmemann gave a precious gift to all Orthodox in North America, an indigenous, canonical AUTOCEPHALOUS Orthodox Church. This wasn't just for the Slavs or former Metropolia, but ALL Orthodox on this continent. It is the vehicle where all Orthodox can join a church which rules itself without foreign intervention.
Met. Philip knew this. He even had Fr. Schmemann speak at all the Antiochian conventions about a unified church in America. So why did + Philip back away from this? Apparently he was more interested in how his own legacy would be viewed in Syria & Lebanon than North America. So now, what to do? He will do as he always has; state that HE is the head of the AOCA and demand obedience. Well, this is old and the baloney doesn't taste very good.
It really is time for the AOCA Board of Trustees to say, "ENOUGH!" It's time to become a REAL church with it's own authority to rule itself. This can only happen by throwing off foreign bishops and joining the OCA (this should have happened in the 1970's.) The time is NOW! Met. Philip can retire and Bishop Basil can become the new Metropolitan - IT'S TIME!!!!!
#2 Anonymous on 2009-03-16 15:31
Great! Great! Great! Response! If as the old guard who created this mess truly believe, Damascus can do whatever they want, there will never be Orthodox unity in North America unless the people defect enmasse to the OCA. Why stay with a Patrairchate which continues to bleed its children dry to stay where Christianity is rapidly vanishing? If the Constitution that Metropolitan Philip worked so hard for does not protect the Archdiocese as he and his legal council argued why did we waste so much time and money? Why elect Diocesan Bishops, consecrate them in Damascus and enthrone them? Was this simply another Fundraiser? Why all the articles in the WORD Magazine? What can we actually believe to be true? Metropolitan Philip has completely lost all credibility! Now it would seem that the highest authority in the church is what Metropolitan Philip wants it to be at the moment. Consequently, where does that leave the Archdiocese when he reposes (and he will)? Not only do we have chaos NOW, we will have even greater chaos and division when he finally goes! He inherited the Antiochians divided into two factions and he will leave it fragmented beyond recognition. He must act now to restore proper Canonical Order as established in Pittsburgh and finalize the Constitution with Damascus. Otherwise his life's work will be down the shishmee(toilet)! If he loves his people, he will lay aside all pride and do the right thing! This will be the real triumph and accomplishment of his life.
#2.1 anonymous on 2009-03-16 19:23
The church has existed for 2000 years - I suggest that you pay more attention to your own parishioners and your church attendance. The Holy See of Antioch has spoken. Deal with it!
#2.1.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-17 09:45
Amazing. There's a saying among the Catholics: "Rome has spoken. the matter is closed." Explain to me how your view, anonymous, differs in any significant degree from the Catholic view. If we're going to go the authoritative and infallible route, why not go whole hog and be a Catholic? They have much more practice at it and a thousand years of tradition to back them up.
#220.127.116.11 Scott Walker on 2009-03-17 12:00
The so-Called Holy See of Antioch? The one which completely disregarded the AOCA Constitution? both their version and the one here? The ones who completely ignored the Diocesan Bishops in this instance as though they never existed? The one which ignored the Clergy (except the CHJOSEN)? the ones who ignored the Board of Trustees (Except the CHOSEN)?
1. The AOCA Constitution and the Constitution from the Patriarchate do not agree.
2. Does it really matter since Metropolitan Philip, the Patriarchate and the Holy Synod have acted unilaterally without regard to either Constitution, the Diocesan Bishops, the Clergy, the Board of Trustees and the Laity?
3. If Philip reposes now will they simply do what they want as in this instance? Those who ignore history are doomed to see it repeated!
4. A. Given this decision can Damascus EVER BE TRUSTED?
B. The CHOSEN BOARD MEMBERS?
C. THE CHOSEN PRIESTS?
D. AND MOST ESPECIALLY MET PHILIP?
5. Why have the Diocesan Bishops been ignored?
6. The clergy?
7. The Board of Trustees (except a few who cannot be trusted!)? 8. The Laity?
9. Why do they all continue to be ignored by Metropolitan Philip?
If history is any indicator, like with Joe Allen, Fr John Namee lost his housing allowance when he disagreed with Met Philip.
If history is any indicator, he will simply pull rank and shut down dialogue as he did in Detroit over the issue of tithing, when he humiliated the V Rev. Fr Elias Bitar and the Rt Rev Michael Evans!
Metropolitan Philip does not function well when confronted with facts!
What will he do when he realizes that the ONLY way the faithful may communicate their opinions to him is through LACK of MONEY or with their feet?
I find in 2005 the department of Legal Affairs of THE AOCA stated un-categorically the AOCA Constitution could not be amended by the Patriarchate,
January 27, 2005
IMPORTANT MESSAGE REGARDING OUR CONSTITUTION
TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE PARISH BULLETIN
Beloved Hierarchs, Clergy, Members of the Board of Trustees and Faithful of this God-Protected and Self-Ruled Archdiocese:
It has come to our attention that many of you may have received an email from Tarek Mitri dated January 25, 2005, with the subject “The North American Constitution.” Please be advised that this email is considered a serious intrusion into the affairs of this Archdiocese by Tarek Mitri, who has no ecclesiastical capacity to send such a communication to our clergy under his own signature.
Communications under the direct signature of His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV to Metropolitan Philip and this Archdiocese are, of course, always welcome.
As you all know, the Archdiocese Constitution that was legally adopted by our Special Convention held in July 2004 in Pittsburgh is in harmony with the Synodal self-rule resolution of October 9, 2003 which was adopted unanimously by the Holy Synod, and signed by His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV and all of the members of the Holy Synod. The Pittsburgh Constitution was submitted to the Holy Synod by Metropolitan PHILIP on October 13, 2004.
There is a very serious inaccuracy in the last sentence of the email from Tarek Mitri. In referring to our legally adopted Pittsburgh Constitution, he states that “It was discussed during the course of the meeting of the Holy Synod, October 13-15, 2004, and the attached revised constitution was unanimously approved.” Contrary to this statement, the proposed October 15, 2004 constitution (which was attached to Tarek Mitri’s email), although read by the Patriarch’s legal adviser in the meeting, was not even discussed in detail by the members of the Holy Synod nor was it unanimously approved.
Our Metropolitan PHILIP in not supporting such proposed constitution, pointed out to the members of the Holy Synod that our Constitution, by law, could only be amended by our General Assembly in the ways provided by our Constitution. Moreover, any amendments to our Constitution became effective immediately upon adoption at a General or Special Convention and the approval of our Metropolitan. Therefore the proposed constitution of October 15, 2004 could only be considered as suggested changes to our Constitution. These suggestions were submitted to the Department of Legal Affairs to avoid any inconsistencies with our existing Constitution and the Holy Synod’s self-rule Resolution of October 9, 2003.
The legal department in reviewing the suggestions of the legal advisor to the Patriarch in the proposed Constitution has noted that:
1. The proposed October 15, 2004 constitution violates the spirit and letter of the irrevocable Synodal self-rule resolution of October 9, 2003, which was itself immediately effective. Moreover it is not appropriate for any person to attempt to rewrite the Constitution of this self-ruling Archdiocese and to attempt to negate self-rule and give less authority to the Archdiocese than it had prior to the Synodal Resolution of October 9, 2003.
2. Under Section 8 of the October 9, 2003 self-rule resolution, the Holy Synod of Antioch was required to approve the Pittsburgh Constitution insofar as it was consistent with that resolution. Since the Pittsburgh Constitution is entirely consistent with the Synodal Resolution none of the suggested changes apply and any required approval has been given.
3. The proposed October 15, 2004 constitution did not receive enough scrutiny by the Holy Synod, nor was it discussed in detail in the Holy Synod meeting.
We will, at all times in this Archdiocese, be bound by our legally adopted constitution and the civil laws of this land in which we reside. Article VII of our constitution allows timely proposed amendments to be submitted for consideration only by any of the following procedures:
1. by a majority vote of the General Assembly of a Regular or Special Convention
2. by a recommendation from the Archdiocese Department of Legal Affairs
3. by a recommendation from the Archdiocese Board of Trustees
4. by a recommendation from any parish of this Archdiocese in good standing
Under all of the above procedures, any proposed amendments are “to be certified by the sponsor and submitted to the Metropolitan Archbishop and the Department of Legal Affairs for the purpose of studying and determining the legality of such proposed change.” As a courtesy, the proposed October 15, 2004 constitution was submitted to the Department of Legal Affairs for review.
As communicated in the press release of January 18th, 2005, the Department of Legal Affairs rendered a decision that the “major appropriate suggested changes do not require amendments to the Pittsburgh Constitution” and the legally adopted Pittsburgh Constitution “stands as the Constitution of this Archdiocese, without the need for further revision.”
Yours in Christ,
The Department of Legal Affairs
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
WHERE IS THE DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL AFFAIRS? Will they protect the Arcdiocese from the Holy Synodwho acted without a legal quorum? Will they protect the AOCA from Met Philip?
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2009-03-20 20:09
I want to highlight Article IV of the Constitution of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:
Section 1. The governing code for this Archdiocese shall be the Holy Scripture, Sacred Tradition, Holy Canons, the Constitution of the Church of Antioch and the Constitution of the Archdiocese as approved by the Holy Synod of Antioch.
Section 2. The Archdiocesan Synod comprised of the Metropolitan Archbishop and the Diocesan Bishops shall be the governing ecclesiastical authority of the Archdiocese. The Metropolitan Archbishop shall preside over the Archdiocesan Synod. The Synod shall determine the number of dioceses, their boundaries, and the respective diocese(s) and/or area of responsibility of each bishop. It shall also determine all matters of hierarchical discipline of bishops of the Archdiocese.
Section 3. The decisions of the Archdiocesan Synod may be appealed to the Patriarch and Holy Synod of Antioch who shall be the final judge on the matter.
Section 4. All administrative authority is vested in the Metropolitan Archbishop and the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees as hereinafter provided.
Section 5. All legislative authority is vested in the General Convention of the Archdiocese as approved by the Metropolitan Archbishop and by the Archdiocesan Synod.
Section 6. 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.
It seems to me that the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch conflicts with the Constitution of the Archdiocese previously approved by the same Holy Synod of Antioch and published by His Beatitude the Patriarch.
In particular, the Archdiocesan Synod, according to Section 2, "shall determine the number of dioceses, their boundaries, and the respective diocese(s) and/or area of responsibility of each bishop. It shall also determine all matters of hierarchical discipline of bishops of the Archdiocese." Therefore, any change in the status of the diocesan Bishops should be decided by the Archdiocesan Synod, with a right of appeal to the Patriarch and Holy Synod of Antioch (Section 3).
Furthermore, according to Section 6, "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." Thus, it would seem that the Holy Synod of Antioch is not competent to reduce diocesan Bishops within the Archdiocese to the status of Auxiliary Bishops.
#22.214.171.124.1 anonymous on 2009-03-21 19:27
Firstly, a Canadian (Quebcois?) priest referencing the U.S. Constitution is both ironic and sweet. Fortunately for Fr. Antony, the Canadian Bill of Rights also guarantees freedom of speech (Section 2), although the Canadian Human Rights Commission is doing its best to place limitations on this.
Secondly, our Father among the Saints, Raphael of Brooklyn authored a pamphlet criticizing the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher under the pseudonym Sheikh ‘Abd El Ahad Eshshafi. Using Fr Antony’s logic St. Raphael was a coward. God forbid!
Fr Antony writes, “…our spirituality is being ‘squeezed’ into so-called canonical trivia.” I don’t even know what this sentence means, but overall one must admire Fr Antony’s skillful writing. In a brief message, he manages to drop the names of Metropolitan ANTONY, Professor Serge Verhovskoy, and Fr Alexander Schmemann (all of blessed memory), and in his post script manages to get in a plug for his latest book and a final bit of adulation for Metropolitan PHILIP.
Thank you, Mark, for your thoughtful response.
#2.2 Anon Pravoslavni on 2009-03-16 23:54
"Firstly, a Canadian (Quebcois?) priest referencing the U.S. Constitution is both ironic and sweet."
Not really because he is American....
Call me biased if you wish, but all I see is a priest looking for peace and unity. That he mentions a book only gives credibility to his concerns based on historical research.
As for name dropping, please...
I also don't see anything wrong in respecting and giving due where it is due in regards to His Grace Metropolitan Philip.
#2.2.1 St George Montreal Parishioner on 2009-03-17 09:07
I assume ya'll gave the same respect and "giving due," to His Grace, ALEXANDER for the past 5 years HE has been your bishop?
#126.96.36.199 Antionymous on 2009-03-17 10:30
And still is and we actually we do. My reference was for the Metroplitan not taking anything away from +Alexander or any other Bishop.
And "ya'll" is American, not Canadian...
Please no response. I'm really not that interested in schoolyard fights.
#188.8.131.52.1 St George Montreal Parishioner on 2009-03-17 14:33
How boot dat, eh?
peace , my brother!
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Antionymous on 2009-03-17 15:13
What a wonderful response to the non-sense Fr Gabriel spewed! Given that 70% of the clergy are non-Middle Eastern and many of the others are American born, we must remember their allegiance is not to Antioch or to Metropolitan Philip. Their allegiance is first and foremost to Christ and the Holy Gospels. The same be said about the numerous converts and cradle Orthodox (coming from heavily ethnic parishes) who have come becuse the churches were more open and used English. Over half the parishes in the Archdiocese were founded since the late 1980's. We can be assured they did not come to worship Metropolitan Philip and the Holy Synod of Antioch. Once again, I will assert they came to hear the Holy Gospel in a church they believed to be aggressively open to evangelizing Norh America. As I can see from one response, some would be happy if all the non-arabs simply left, but who would pay the bills? ..... The church is God's church. .....
Certainly there is no need as suggested that many simply leave and start their own Jurisdiction. We already have choices. *We can stop the money until there is work towards healing the church through restoration of proper order, discipline and ethics! Those who do not want to do the work of Christ should just start a club where they can do whatever they want as they are already accustomed to doing.
#2.3 anonymous on 2009-03-17 06:33
I can understand why +MP wanted to regain absolute control in the archdiocese once again. Although in some ways in earlier times he was a wise "ruler," he has failed to comprehend how the AOC has changed over the past 20 years or so. Roughly 70 percent of the priests are converts, and the old Arab influence (although they will NEVER admit it) has declined in influence. The behavior of the Michigan priests toward their pious Bishop, Mark, has been deplorable and even lay people elsewhere in the midwest diocese have heard of their outrageous antics and their completely disrespectful attitudes. Shame on them!!
Recent events have the potential to cause a huge rift in the AOC. Even +MP's strongest and frequently obsequious defenders must realize this. I pray to God that the Metropolitan will have the grace and wisdom to make every effort to repair the damage that has been done. God forgive us all.
#3 anon on 2009-03-16 15:46
The above by Mark and Fr Farley well written and too correct. But Met P will not give up his sad position as too many are complacent and self seeking of the "honors" he bestows as a good Byzantine ruler. So pleased our family transferred to our OCA community!
#3.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-16 19:56
Thank you for an insightful, intelligent, and sobering response to Fr Gabriel's comment. I agree with you that the good Orthodox Christians in the AOCA will become just as tired of the same old "pray, pay, and obey" rant as did those of us in the OCA! I also commend you for pointing out a meaningful observation: that is, that the AOCA has grown in the past twenty years to the point where it has *out*-grown a situation that can function under the rule of "just one man."
I applaud the Reflection by Fr Farley. It contained an authentic historical review of the relationship of bishops with their presbyters in the early Church. In fact, when +Archbishop Job was the Bishop of New England (before being "traded" to the Diocese of the Midwest, like sports teams trade off ball players), he organized himself per this very same model from the early Church: a bishop with his council of presbyters. Those members of the Synod whose perspectives were aligned with the old Soviet, "good ol' boys' club" mentality, balked at (then) +Bishop Job and even gave him a hard time for using the phrase "council of presbyters" when referring to the priests in his Diocese of New England. Well, as the Lord said, "You will know them by their fruits!" The Soviet-style contingency has shown their true colors throughout this crisis, while +Archbishop Job has continued to act in a manner harmonious to what the Lord called His disciples to be: men who "came not to be served, but to serve!" I agree with Fr Farley that, if the hierarchy of all the Orthodox jurisdictions in America would embrace the original concept of the episcopacy as exemplified in the early Church, much healing would take place, and we could then turn our attention and our energies to bringing the Gospel to the people of America who are hungering and thirsting for it!
#4 David Barrett on 2009-03-16 18:00
This is precisely what their graces Bishop JOSEPH; Bishop BASIL and Bishop MARK did in their respective dioceses. They involved the clergy, sought out their counsel and let them have ownership in decisions and their implementation. What a wonderful way to get everyone on board! (So much for being micro-managers) Unfortunately as with Ss Peter & Paul out of envy, rivalry and jealousy treason comes from within. Someone does not get stroked enough or senses a personal loss of power, position or prestige and it all comes crashing down because of someone's overinflated ego.
#4.1 anonymous on 2009-03-16 19:30
#4 you have hit the nail right on the head! It ALWAYS comes down to the accursed ego......let that beast go an ddiscover the Light of Christ!
#4.1.1 Fr Anonymous on 2009-03-17 05:45
Is this the same Fr Antony Gabriel who spoke at the House of Studies? I recall his charity and humility there: he said that he hoped priests who wear cassocks to the grocery store would get them caught in the grocery cart and would be injured. Very impressive!
I am glad that this same man stepped up to lecture us about Christian charity and humility.
#5 AHOS Participant on 2009-03-16 18:16
As many comments here indicate, THE issued raised by the action of the Synod of Antioch and Met. Phillip should not be episcopal authority (as in should we have it or not), but the nature of that authority (how it should be exercised and its source).
The separation between our bishops and us, their flocks did indeed begin in Byzantine times however it was horribly reinforced under the Turks and the Soviets. Under the Turkish Yoke, our bishops became Ottoman satraps. Sergianism became the rule for official bishiops under Soviet rule. Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem all still live under a mild form of the Dhimmi state created under the Ottoman Turks. Moscow is also fighting to re-define its association with the state.
For Orthodoxy to be anything other than a curiousity in the U.S., the imperial/dhimmi episcopate must be put aside and, as Fr. Farley points out, a return to the pre-Constantinian model must be made.
We must also remember that in Christ there is no Greek, nor Jew, nor Arab, nor American. A truth difficult to keep hold of at times of stress.
With apologies to Fr. Antony, however, all of the Patriarchs are foreign bishops whether they are Greek or Slav or Arab. The time has come, indeed it is past ripeness, for we in the Americas to take over (Greek, Arab, Slav, and all of the other ethnicities together) and build a unique expression of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as was done before us in other lands. The Patriarchs (Greek, Arab & Slav) could be of great service to us by supporting and guiding us in the process rather than standing in the way. I pray that they choose the course of cooperation rather than obstruction.
BTW, I'm convinced that we dress up our bishops and fete them at banquets like fatted calves so we can comfortably ignore them. They become little more than quaint antiquarian curiosities. The Church is not the bishops alone, but it is certainly not the sheep alone either.
As much as we sheep need our shepards sometimes we are able to see that the shepard is about to, unintentionally, drive us over a cliff that the shepard does not see. In consequence, the sheep bleat in distress and warning and refuse to be pushed over that precipice. That is not disobedience. If the shepard does not listen, he will spend the rest of his days in sorrow and poverty due to the loss of much of his flock.
#6 Michael Bauman on 2009-03-16 19:21
Thank you for your temperate and truthful reminders.
1. That the most important aspect of the continuing controversies over the nature of episcopal authority is how the hierarchs wield that authority. Is a hierarch a servant leader, a loving shepherd willing to lay down his life for the good of his rational sheep?
2. That the separation of the hierarchs from the other clergy and the laity is a very important problem and that the solution is found in a return to the pre-Constantinian forms of church governance. Am I correct in thinking that part of the solution to this problem is an increase in the numbers of hierarchs, that will eventually allow a hierarch to oversee a truly manageable number of parishes, missions, and monasteries?
3. That as much as we revere our particular citizenship and ethnic background, what is most important is our faith in Christ. That thought is indeed a difficult one to maintain no matter the current circumstances.
4. That the manner in which we treat our hierarchs may in part be a way to minimize our connection with them. All Orthodox Christians in North America should soberly consider how far the "Church of the Apostles" may have strayed from the communal ties Christ, the Apostles, and those Equal to the Apostles envisioned for us.
5. I sincerely hope that the Orthodox hierarchs of North America read and consider your last paragraph. Their flocks are composed of rational sheep, not lemmings.
#6.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2009-03-21 04:26
I think that Fr. Gabriel speaks out of his love and care. however he did not point the real reasons behind the decision of the holy synod. as for Mr. mark's respond, It reminds me with the high school essays where students try to use every phrase they learned to get more points. Mark’s hosting to this site and controlling the posts and the content does not make him but a tool for division. No wonder he is not wanted in his own church the OCA. Anyhow, Mr. Mark speaks of how accountable his website is and claims that this accountability comes from the huge number of visitors “the numbers of readers visiting the site has risen: from 10,000 to 16,000 in the first 24 hours, to over 22,000 on the most recent. This is not one person with an axe to grind. Such are the facts”. Well, well well Mr. Mark how do you speak of accountability when you yourself do not have it. You claim dishonestly, that your site gets over 22,000 visitors in 24 hours? How is that possible is it the site of the CNN? Anyhow I looked up your site from your server and found out that your site gets around 5000 visitors…do you want me to repeat that or are you embarrassed from lying? Anyhow, listen body you do not have to change facts for people to believe you no body does any way. The few gossipers that clap for your doings are not of any importance to anyone. Just remember one thing...that if you remove this post from your site I promise you to open a special blog for your case and expose your lies.
Yours in Christ….
(Editor's note: Please, Father, tell us the "real reason" behind the Synod's decision! That being said, I am sorry you found my response inadequate. I shall strive to do better next time. As for the number of readers to this site, I follow a standard and simple formula. The number of discreet computers that access my site is registered every hour; and reports compiled every day. Since the vast number of people read this site in the evening, or very early in the morning, I make the assumption that they are at home, not at work. Since I assume there are, on average of two adults per household, letting teenagers or adult children in others round out single adult households, I double the number of readers for those discreet computers, minus half the number who read me during work hours. (I figure about half the people read me at work and at home so I don't want to count them twice. I know many offices that all read OCANews.org, because our church life has become soap operatic, but I just report the news, I don't make these decisions that propel it. Moreover, in many OCA parishes the stories are re-printed and posted for those elderly who are not on the web. But that's another story...) That's how I get the numbers I cited. There are numerous options for counting available, and all will get you different numbers depending on how they count, and what they count. Having done this for 3.5 years, my system seems reasonable to me. If you have a better method, let me know.
And finally, feel free to start any blog you wish. I only ask that you have the courage to put your real name on it, as I have put my real name on this one. If the purpose of said blog is just to trash somebody, myself included, the act will speak for itself, and be judged for what it is. You may disagree with what I write here, which I have always given opportunity for people to do. You may disagree with what others write here - heaven knows I do quite often. You may object to anonymity - I do as well in most cases. But as a priest, you must agree that it is better to know what people are thinking, so you can address the issue and heal it, than to let the problem fester....)
#7 Fr. Xaralambos on 2009-03-16 20:02
Dear Fr. X: We dislike Mark so much here in the Midwest that we chose him to be our delegate to our Metropolitan Council.
#7.1 Michael Strelka on 2009-03-17 09:39
I call shenanigans on "Fr. X". Nobody with the level of education necessary to graduate from a seminary could mangle the English language as this fellow does. I think maybe All Caps Anonymous Guy has figured out how to use the shift key. Nice use of personal attack and threats as well; I am truly impressed at "Fr. X's" Christian charity in this Lenten season.
(editor's note: Clearly, Mr. Walker has not attended an orthodox seminary in this country. It was not just students who mangled English, but beloved professors who did even worse. We could start a whole thread on the topic, beginning with my favorite from a favorite professor who routinely mispronounced "rapture" as "rupture", as when "And Evangelicals believe we will then all be ruptured in the sky with Jesus...". Such statements turned me against Evangelicals for years...)
#7.2 Scott Walker on 2009-03-17 12:13
H'mmm, Editor. Maybe we have the real meaning behind the old Protestant hymn, "Trussed and Obey."
#7.2.1 Scott Walker on 2009-03-17 16:56
Dear Mark, while we are on the subject -- mangled English -- let me point out that we hope our computers will be *discreet*, and not reveal our passwords and credit card numbers to those who have no right to the information. On the other hand, each and every separate computer, for instance your computer vs my computer vs Scott Walker's computer -- is a discrete computer.
Alas, the spell-checker cannot distinguish between two correctly spelled words that have different meanings, so we must rely on ourselves to do that task. But, we love you anyway, and keep up the good work.
#7.2.2 cate on 2009-03-18 09:23
One of the great ironies, in this epic struggle over the nature and extent of authority in the Church, is that those most fervent in defending the prerogatives of hierarchy are, by their foolish intransigence, destroying the very authority they seek to preserve. All branches of hierarchical Christianity seem to be experiencing a crisis of authority brought on by a failure to conform to the model of the Good Shepherd laid out in the Gospels and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Rather, they continue to ape secular authoritarian governance in an era and environment where this is no longer possible or desirable.
In North America, at least, it is no longer possible to lead effectively with the iron fist of the past, even when that fist is gloved. True leadership comes from example and is inspired, not commanded. One can pity those leaders who are unreconciled to this reality, but at the same time one should not see them as fit leaders. Their time is done.
#8 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-03-16 20:05
Why are so many remaining anonymous?? Because all have been warned of severe consequences should one openly disagree with +MP or the Synod's decision. No open discussions allowed here.
(editor's note: That is a serious accusation, and I would ask you to provide evidence of same. Was this threat verbal, or in writing? If so, share it. If not, it does not help propel a rational discussion of the serious issues, but instead, spreads the very fear many are trying to dissipate.)
#9 anonymous on 2009-03-16 21:17
Please delete this website. As a former seminarian you of all should know that you are not sowing good seeds for ANY archdiocese whether OCA or AOCA or GOA. This site is poluted by obsessive nonsense that is making every archdiocese disgusted. How can you even say you are Orthodox Christian and actually walk into a church that you so are determined to destroy? Doesn't make sense. I suggest you find the true journey of being an Orthodox Christian through Lent.
and please delete this website..
Delete this Website??? I don't think so. Sounds like another pietistic call for business as usual.
I fail to see that maintaining an open forum is the moral equivalent to seeking the destruction of the Church, any more than adopting an ostrich-like, head-in-sand, dismissal of genuine issues and concerns constitutes being a "GOOD Orthodox Christian."
#10.1 Sdn Henry Shirley--St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Chapel, WEst Bend, WI on 2009-03-17 08:32
Mark should not delete this website. I believe this website will help move the Orthodox laity in this country for a unified Orthodox Church in the United States. Thus, I believe that there are some out there who prefer to keep Orthodoxy under the thumb of a foreign bishop and keep their ethinic churches as they are. They do not have the vision of Orthodoxy for everyone regardless of ethnicity. What is our greater calling, our ethnic church or the church of Christ.
#10.2 cshinn on 2009-03-17 08:37
To Fr. Farley I would say: Welcome to the church! +Herman and +Theodosius were no different - in it for power. One can also argue that the OCA, approved on the deathbed of the former Patriarch, was born for power hungry priests (mainly the late Fr. Schmemann). I do though agree with you that it is disturbing, and so is the proposal by +Jonah to decentralize our church, particularly in wake of St. Tikhon's, NY/NJ, Alaska, and other troubled dioceses.
Our church doesn't need sermons. It needs living examples of sermons.
In a day and age when everyone seems to be corrupt. When Wall Street has befallen Main Street, and government has no answers. People more than ever need the church. Our church should be growing by leaps and bounds, not also in the same corrupt state as the world. It should be a beacon of hope. +Seraphim of Canada was named in the OCA report as an accomplice to the corrupt acts of +Herman and he still is a bishop.
Perhaps before criticizing another jurisdiction, priests should look at their own dioceses, and the OCA look within its own troubles.
#11 Anonymous on 2009-03-16 23:25
Dear Anonymous #11 (another brave soul who can't sign his/her name),
If you are going to make blanket, slanderous accusations about departed clergy, such as referring to Fr Schmemann as one of the "power hungry priests," shouldn't you, even from a basically ethical viewpoint, provide some substantiating examples for making that charge? You speak about people "criticizing another jurisdiction." Maybe you ought to reconsider criticizing a departed priest, and especially one whose labors bore so many fruits as Fr Schmemann's did, before pointing the finger yourself!!
#11.1 David Barrett on 2009-03-17 07:01
A slight disagreement with your words: "When the OCA crisis began three and a half years ago...". We all know the OCA mess has its roots in at least the 1980's, and one could argue the Church's structure before that lent itself to the possibility of abuse. This, to me, is the danger the Antichiocian Church faces, if not today or tomorrow, then definitely at some point in the future. Add that to the many who feel "donations" to certain authorities helped influence the decision, and you've got a Church in danger of having an OCaAtype scandal at some future date.
#12 Fr. Stephen Mack on 2009-03-17 05:04
Look, everyone here knows what this is really about. It's about who will lead after + Philip. The majority of the AOCA doesn't want foreign bishops controlling them nor their churches. And why should they? Where in the Orthodox canons does it give authority to "Mini-Popes" to control churches all over the world? This entire episode is a nice political move to remove any and all real authority from the diocese bishops and people of the AOCA. In this manner, the "old country" priests and sympathizers will be able to pick who they want as the next Metropolitan. Damascus is happy with this since the money will keep flowing to them. Yet, the "old country" cabal is a small minority among the entire AOCA.
The Board of Trustees of the AOCA must step up and finally decide what the AOCA is and what will it become!
#13 Anonymous on 2009-03-17 06:52
I submit that it's not that we need to rethink the episcopate. We just need what we've always needed -- saints. Reasonably current, indigenous examples of holiness, who may or may not hold ecclesial office but who are nonetheless able to hold those in office to account. Until there's a critical mass on that front, all the administrative fixes in the world won't mean a thing, and any talk of a united American church is woefully premature.
Right now, we've got readers and subdeacons who act and talk like they think they're bishops when what we really need are bishops who act and talk like they think they're doorkeepers. Without saints, without models of what it means to Christlike in recent memory to encourage the faithful AND those in office, that's how it's going to be.
You want a united American church? Go out and be a saint. Go out and be Christ in the world. That doesn't mean you don't start a blog, or make a donation, or join a lay organization, or buy a book -- these are all worthy pursuits. Perhaps it means, however, that maybe you worry about those things later.
As a convert in the Antiochian Archdiocese, I am troubled by what has happened. I am also troubled by the "convert vs. cradle," "lay vs. bishop" rhetoric which seems to be emerging -- rather, which seems to be exacerbated by this mess. I am heartbroken for Bp. MARK, given that he is/was my bishop, and am horrified by the stories I've heard about the disrespect he has been shown, but I also think it's entirely possible that the pastoral situation into which he was placed was unworkable no matter what. So far as I can tell, he has only tried to uphold the Faith and the canons, and my experiences with him have only been positive, but nobody likes to be told they're wrong, particularly by somebody who might be perceived as having less vested interests in the outcome.
Recriminations aren't going to solve anything. We can discuss without blaming, but ultimately if we want to fix the problem for the long term we're still going to have to go out and be saints to accomplish anything.
Forgive me if I have offended.
Your responce to Fr. Gabriel was brilliant - wise and insightful - well done - it is obvious that you care and grasp the danger of despotism.
A concerned Antiochian Priest of 30 years!
#15 Anonymous on 2009-03-17 09:58
How sorrowful that all these judgmental allegations, emotional accusations and expressions of anger are boiling at a time when the Church, in Her infinite wisdom calls upon us to hear and say the Prayer of Saint Ephrem the Syrian. again and again and again. Is there not a message in that?
I recall a chat a few of us had years ago about +Philip's growing distance from the expected merger with the OCA. Some ascribed his motive to be a refusal to surrender "power". One priest simply said, "Perhaps he smells something rotten in the OCA and chooses not to lead his flock into that mess." We all poo poohed the idea as absolutely preposterous. Surely nothing could be rotten in the free from foreign rule OCA, the custodian of the "future of Orthodoxy in America". Indeed, his motives HAD TO BE POWER. Alas, as this web site has so clearly documented, that lone priest's view was not as preposterous as we thought. Indeed, in the clarity of hindsight, both "power" and "pastoral protection from rot" are equally probable motives, and no one really knows, except +Philip himself.
As food for thought, I suggest people put aside the quest to claim knowledge of what's inside someone's heart and mind for a few weeks and turn to the Lenten journey. +Philip has scheduled a meeting with his bishops during Bright Week. Until then, is it really so difficult to embrace:
Yea, Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother, for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.
#16 Overseas Observer on 2009-03-17 10:03
Apparently you don't understand how the OCA works. Each bishop of an ethnic church would run their own churches. + Philip would remain the head of the AOCA. He would then sit on the Synod of Bishops where they elect their own Metropolitan. Joining the OCA gives + Philip full control of his own churches without foreign bishop interference. The diocese bishops in the AOCA would have to be addressed. Just as the Romanians ran their own show, so would each head bishop of each ethnic church.
#16.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-17 11:06
I know quite well "how the OCA works", my friend. My point was that when a group of us tried to ascribe motive to another's actions, time proved that the motive we rejected out of hand turned out not to be as preposterous as we thought. Yet, even after all that time, did any of us, other than +Philip know why he did what he did? Not at all.
Perhaps I need to be more explicit. Perhaps it is the issues that need to be debated, not the personalities or motives. Especially during this time of the Liturgical year.
I am not defending any stance on what has been announced. Just mourning over the ad hominem attacks.
#16.1.1 Overseas Observer on 2009-03-17 14:06
The reason that MP pulled away from merging with the OCA is that St. Vlad's Seminary refused to let Joseph Allen continue to teach there if he would not be laicized, after the scandal of marrying a divorced parishioner.
MP got ticked, pulled his seminarians from there (well, the AOCA
wouldn't pay their tuition anymore, but would if they wanted to go to the GOA seminary) and the relationship between the AOCA and
the OCA has been fractured since.
Don't attribute such prescient wisdom, he was just ticked because the OCA didn't go along with his "my way or the highway" modus operandi.
#16.2 Pauline Costianes on 2009-03-19 11:16
As someone who lived most of my adult life under communism,
I have been disgusted with Metropolitan Philip's cult of personality perpetrated for decades in the Word magazine. Sadly, for the 15+ years I have been affiliated with the Antiochian American Archdiocese, this Metropolitan has never stopped his Stalinist/Bathist ways of running things, and this reality troubles
and saddens me greatly. As an Orthodox Christian, I don't really care about jurisdictions, but I do care a lot about having authority in the form of a Bishop (not a dictator, living in a glass box in a far way place, whose face we only see in magazines). Therefore, I will support and follow our Bishop Basil all the way, as he is someone we all love around these places, because he positively impacted all of us DIRECTLY. If he is not reinstated, I will seek ways for our parish to distance itself and much as possible from all this garbage.
#17 Gabriel in DOWAMA on 2009-03-17 11:28
Well said Gabriel! Thew gospel is about LOSING one's life in order to find it again; for far too long the church has funsctioned as if it's kingdom were of this world. Want to know why people stay away in droves? Because we are nOT on an authentic and experiential life-changing spiritual path. We just do the same old thing week in week out and heaven help any priest who dares step outside the accepted norm. The cult of personality is soul destroying anf tsakes the focus of the Lord and puts it on us. It should be avoided like the plague. Fawning adultaors are a dime a dozen in the church, each pathetic soul vying for the next piece of chintzy glitter, witness the ridiculousness of the coloured hats for Russian clergy....it's so sad and utterly pathetic....the retired Bishop of Sitka had it is said 30 sets of hierarchical vestments.....Archimandrite Spyridon of blessed memory had cut out paper pictures on his mitre and they called him mad!!!! It's just as well you're not around when the clerics club is talking to itself....my Lord it would make you sick.....it is high time to sort out the jurisdictional mess, ONE BISHOP for ONE CITY and ONE Orthodox Church for our nation. If that can't be achieved then the only alternative is to come out from among them.........and quietly practice the life in Christ away from such vexatious and quarrelsome people. May the Lord have mercy on us all...
#17.1 Fr Anonymous on 2009-03-17 13:19
Well said Mr. Stokoe. I couldn't have said better myself.
I'm just a convert, going on six years now. This decision from Damascus has left me wondering if I made a great mistake joining the Orthodox Church. I never met +Phillip but I knew him to have been a visionary pastor, merciful to converts, and possessing a great love for God and bringing the gospel to the lost. But I then I see his support of this sudden U-turn which contradicts all his talk of Orthodox unity in America. Now I don't know what to think of him.
Who has ever disputed his authority as Archbishop? What reasons are there for this act of upsurping the bishops? To placate ethnic sensitivities? The decision may have "unified" the archdiocese politically but it's tearing it apart personally.
I have always questioned whether I belonged in the EASTERN Orthodox Church, because I'm not eastern and it seems to be a requirement...and I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I mentioned to my pastor that if all the converts were to leave the parish there wouldn't be a parish left. All I see from many of the "cradles" is a desire to keep a closed ethnic ghetto, and maintain the status quo. In my own parsih, despite most of us bring non-arab converts including the priests, a small group has demanded and gotten (from Bishop Mark) an "Arabic Liturgy". They have to fly in a priest who speaks arabic to do it but they're getting it. Even though half of our DL is already arabic it's not enough to keep people from "going to the Maronites." I personally don't mind hearing arabic here and there, but I thought we were supposed to be Orthodox first.
Then I see comments like the above: "Deal with it!" "Put up or shut up!" "go start your own church and be done with it" Well if that's your attitudes then perhaps I did make a mistake when I joined the Church? How can this be the true faith when it's so divided? Should I go back to Rome or into atheism from where I came just because I'm the not an arab, greek or russian? Would you even care?
(editor's note: Hang in there, Kevin. I know where you are spiritually, for I too have been there. In my case I had misfortune of meeting a late Patriarch, who I shall not identify, whose actions left me in tears and thinking "If that's Orthodoxy, I want none of it. Better a Lutheran and a Christian, than Orthodox and no Christian at all." Fortunately, I had the honor that evening to spend several hours with the late Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, who, as I poured out my experience of the day, and my turmoil, acted as a real Bishop, a real Christian - and suddenly Orthodoxy was once again not just a pretty idea in a book, but right before my eyes. I saw the worst, and the best, in 12 hours. I was lucky.
Most have to wait to be healed - just as ancient Israel had to wait for the Messiah. Do not let the poor, ill-considered actions of a few overturn the love of centuries. It took us almost 4 years to begin to clean up the OCA, but we are. Love will triumph here too, and much more quickly - of that I am sure. I am not asking you for a blank check, or blind obedience, or to ignore the pain you feel. Just give the Archdiocese a chance to work this shock out. Pray and fast and discuss this all this Lenten period; rejoice in the Resurrection; and then see what happens Bright Week. I am confident given what is happening here, around the dioceses, oops, regions, by bishops, clergy and laity, in public and in private, will help to begin to restore all that has been lost. Let them hear your voice and ideas on what should be done too. You have a stake in this. We all do. The Bishops are responsible for the outcome, but it is not their decision alone. And if cannot be healed then, well, you have choices to make that only you can. But know right now, you are not alone. I know hundreds of people reading this site will actually begin to pray for you. And that prayer has great power, for many of them are righteous men and women.... Stay in touch with us all. All the best. )
#18 Kevin Klein on 2009-03-17 11:45
I've been Orthodox 17 years now ands a priest for 15....and I KNOW your pain my brother....but I have learned one thing and it is the most precious lesson of all. I sum it up in the words of an old Methodist historian who commenting on church history wrote "hold fast to Christ and for all else remain uncommitted".......and that's it! You belong to Him! You are here because He wants you here.....there may well be a time when He wants you elsewhere....but hold fast ONLY to Him!!!! Inner liberation from the chains and shackles of church identity are hard to break but break they MUST if the life in Christ is to be lived.....read a few pages of Fr Schmemann's journal and you'll see what I mean......every man has his faults the best among us do not make a proffession out of practicing them.......nor visiting them in a suystematic way on the church as many of our despotic masters do....look to Jesus and see the face of God and be RADIANT!!!! I often gaze into His eyes and hear Him say "look what they have done to me, painted me all pretty and made a religion out of me......" but hsi religion is mercy, peace, love etc etc etc...NOT church affiliation...you see it matters far more that Truth has you rather than you have Truth..for Truth is a Person and He is all compassionate longsuffering and merciful.....I too have questioned why I became orthodox given the appalling state of the church.......but it is the spiritual practice and heavenly ambience that allows me to get in the vehicle called orthodoxty abd take off to the heavenly realm while still on this earth...in other words it is the vehicle NOT the terminus........I love Jesus! I love the holy saints of God and I try an love all men especially the bishops but Lord aint it hard? ANd I will NEVER remain silent in the face of oppression and injustice......especially when it is committed by "pastors".....but you my brother cling to Jesus and do your prayer rope.........worship in the beauty of the forests and smell the fragrance of the earth that He has given us......the akathist of thanksgiving is beautiful for this........a few practicla words, do nOT be involved in church "life" committees and the like pray more and enjoy your own life and you'll find some peace...bless you and hold on the ride will probably get a little riougher before it smoothes out.....
#18.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-17 13:33
I came to Orthodoxy nearly 10 years ago and there is always a period of time, somewhere down the road, where as they say "The Chrism dries..." and people come to terms with the fact that the Church they came to with a large dose of idealism has with in it problems and sinners, including themselves.
At that point a person can choose to give up and shop around again for
another church or decide that despite the faults of those within it, including ourselves, this Faith is worth engaging and this Church is worth the effort. I sometimes feel like Peter when Jesus saw some of his follower leave after his hard sayings. When asked by Jesus if they, the 12, would leave Peter said, and I paraphrase "Where could we go you have the words of eternal life..." I a similar way I feel this about Orthodoxy. Where else could I go? What other place has this fullness?
The truth is that this exploration of these issues on this and other pages, this search for meaning and truth and what the historical witness of the Church is about such decisions as the one made about our Bishops, whatever else it may indicate, shows that these things still matter to us, that this is important. That's a good sign. There are not many non Orthodox communions where the thoughts of the Fathers would even enter into the debate so thank goodness for the richness that has guided us through the centuries and will carry us through this time as well. I wouldn't trade that for anything.
In fact times like this may be good for us. The Apostle Paul talks about how the Lord chastens His sons and this chastening is a sign that they are legitimate sons. I see this whole situation ripe with the potential for being a time of cleansing and renewal in our Archdiocese, a time when issues are faced, sins exposed, and healing begins and not just in the larger structures but also in each of us. I think that this is happening during Lent may actually be providential as God may be leading us, as it were, to a larger Lent in the hope of a larger Pascha.
So don't let the short term things get you down. Continue praying for your parish, your bishops, your priests, and even those with whom you disagree. Be faithful and endure. Speak when you need to and if the hardships come cling to your Lord who will never fail you.
Thank you for listening.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
Do not regret embracing Holy Orthodoxy. The Orthodox Church is the Church, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.
It is also includes within it the sort of folks who prompted Fr. Alexander Schmemann to say 'Right Church, wrong people.'
Remember the history of the Church, how St. Chad was deposed for an irregularity in his consecration, but then restored to his see, how holy bishops deposed unjustly from their sees are prominent among the saints--St. Athanasius the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Photius the Great,. . .--while those who deposed them turn out often to be remembered as heretics.
These crises happen, but the Holy Spirit uses them for the building up of the Body of Christ. It may be that good will come of this. Perhaps this will be the crisis that forces a Great Council to set aright the churches outside of traditional Orthodox lands, and we will live to see a single local church in each country, with only one bishop having jurisdiction over each place.
Wishing you a blessed Lent.
St. Mary Magdalene Mission
Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America
#18.3 Subdeacon David Yetter on 2009-03-19 18:55
"Is it really so difficult to embrace 'Yea, Lord and King! Grant me to me my own errors and not to judge my brother...'?" you ask.
It's probably no less difficult than a bishop embracing "Lord and master of my life! Take from me the spirit of... lust for power..." before he dismantles the synod of bishops he built up in the first place and demotes them all to his dependent auxiliaries without prior notice, warning or explanation.
#19 Non-Overseas Observer on 2009-03-17 12:19
I never suggested that the "lust for power" is excusable. However, at the Final Judgment, I will answer for my "lust for power" and my "judgment of my brother". And, I have been counseled to understand that at that same Final Judgment, I will answer for those times I encouraged others to lust for power or to judge their brothers.
This decision/action of the Synod may be boneheaded, ill advised, stupid, cruel, disastrous, counter productive and/or counter to the canons, to say the least. You will receive little argument from me on any or all of these descriptions of the decision. I simply find it saddening that at a time when we particularly pray for strength to overcome the very powerful desire to judge our brother, we rally each other to attack people's motives and character that we claim is behind a decision, rather than just the decision itself.
#19.1 Overseas Observer on 2009-03-17 23:58
you all are seriously a bunch of losers that have nothing better to do but to trash MP. Your problem is that you want an "american" church and find it threatening that their exists ties to a mother church. in fact, if it were my choice, i wouldnt want this type of people in commune with me as they have already destroyed and ruined the oca with their so called unveiling of truth. you people are all a bunch of hypocrites and fools....namely the creator of this site, mark. If you want orthodox christians for accountability, start with yourself, jackass. it wont suprise me if you decide not to post this site as we all know you are in it for the propaganda to slander and defame the AOCA. you truly are a moron and a jackass that is deserving of nothing but a slap to the face for you claim to be a christian and are really nothing but a sorry excuse for a human being. again, a jackass. And unlike others on this site, i will give my identity.
(Editor's note: Well, not really. You have used three just today: Fr. Xaralmabos, Alex Androvic and Boutros Androvic. So, I may be a jackass, but I am nobody's fool. Nor are you fooling anybody else. Since you have nothing to add to the discussion besides insults, please do not bother to post anymore, Westland, Michigan.
#20 alex androvic on 2009-03-17 12:20
I doubt the Antiochian crisis will last very long. +Philip’s supporters are amazingly effective at hurting their own cause.
#20.1 Karina Ross on 2009-03-17 15:14
you all are a bunch of hypocrites and losers that have nothing better to do than to trash the metropolitan. obviously this is all lies and generated propaganda to cause a split in the AOCA and create an american church as you all are threatened by the fact that our archdiocese has close ties with the mother church. if it were up to me i wouldnt want to be in communion with a bunch of snakes and vipers such as yourselves who claim to be orthodox christians and yet do nothing more to cause destruction and division as you have done in the oca by hiding behind your so called unveiling of the truth. i have to say that the creator of this site, mark s, has got to be the biggest jackass of them all! i am absolutely disgusted with his explanation and speculation. this site is nothing more than to serve a self interest and generate propaganda to cause division. mark, if i were to meet you, rather than to greet you with a kiss, i would greet you with a slap to your face. you and your supports are religious fanatics that like to smell smoke caused by setting fires. i wouldnt be surprised if this isnt posted on the website as it doesnt serve to enhance your goals. again, you truly are a jackass in every sense of the word. unlke the others in this site, i will post my name.
(Editor's note: see my comment below)
#21 boutros andovic on 2009-03-17 12:40
just because we use the same computer does not mean each of us are not entitled to our opinions. Who are you to question me? My brother and I are visiting our priest and felt compelled to respond. What your stupid ass fails to realize is that what you had in the oca was fraud and financial improprieties that you claim you unvieled. in this case with aoca their is no such case but rather we are dealing with disobedience and your failure to accept such decisions. and by the way, you are a fool and continue to be a jackass.
(Editor's note: LOL. I apologize to readers, but I couldn't resist posting this response. )
#22 Anonymous on 2009-03-17 13:43
Mark, I found it rather amusing that given the rest of the post, the fellow who called you a fool and a jackass actually got the spelling of those two words right! Combine this fellow with ALL CAPS guy in one post and you'd have comedy on your hands!
(Editor's note: Apparently. One friend wrote and said " Me and my brother who use the same computer think your comment section is quite witty -- who needs Jay Leno at the end of the day when all you have to do is read ocanews.org?"
#22.1 Michele Hagerman on 2009-03-17 20:05
.... NOW WE MUST INVESTIGATE ST TIKHONS? another screw up by stokoe and company! UNDER MT HERMAN ST TIKHONS FOR ALL THEM YEARS HAD NO MONEY PROBLEMS! THE NEW ADMINISTRATION COMES IN WE HAVE ALL THESE PROBLEMS?REMEMBER WHAT LAWYERS SAY " IF YOU CANT WIN A CASE ATTACK SOMEONES CHARACTER" !LIKE MT HERMANS! I'M THINKING WHAT WOULD MR STOKOE DO IF I CAME TO HIS CHURCH IN DAYTON AND HELD UP A SIGN THAT STATED " PEOPLE OF THIS CHURCH STOP GIVING MONEY TO THIS CHURCH UNTILL STOKOE SHUTS DOWN HIS EVIL WEBSITE" BY THE WAY STOKOE! I WILL BE SOON TO YOUR CHUCH DOING JUST THAT! PLEASE PRINT THIS IF YOU HAVE ANY GUTS!WE WILL SEE HOW YOU FEEL WHEN THE SHOE IS ON THE OTHER FOOT!
(Editor's note: It is not my day. First I am a fool and jackass, now I am about to be picketed. Oh well, All Caps Guy, come early because this the usual busy weekendat St. Paul's. We are holding our annual Pysanky workshop - Eggs, dyes, candles, wax, use of traditional tools, video demonstration and light refreshments, will be held at St. Paul's on Friday, March 20 at 10AM-1PM & 6PM-9PM and on Saturday, March 21 at 11AM-3PM. Cost is $8 per person ($20 max per family) and all proceeds will be given in donation to the church; Later Saturday evening many of us are going to Cincy to hear DISCERNING THE JUSTICE AND BEAUTY OF THE EARTH - A lecture given by Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, hosted by our sister parish, Christ the Savior Holy Spirit Church beginning with Great Vesper service at 6:00pm, Fr. Chryssavgis' address at 7:00pm, and followed by a Lenten reception. Sunday the coffee hour is being hosted by Team four, who usually put on a great spread, so plan to picket late. They'll hold some food back for you. And if you can stay, Sunday nights we have the Adult discussion group at 7 PM which is discussing chapters 3&4 of Schmemann's GREAT LENT. Good stuff.)
#23 Anonymous on 2009-03-17 14:51
How good is this?! We not only get Fr. X in his multiple identities, but a visit from the master of disaster himself, All Caps Anonymous Guy. No, Mark, with respect, this IS your day. Short of a Beatles reunion tour, with Dylan as the opening act, and ticket prices starting at $12.50, this is as good as it gets.
Okay, joking aside, do you brave and anonymous Defenders Of True Orthodoxy have the slightest clue about the image you present? If a Protestant or Catholic Christian somehow found this site and read your hateful and incoherent drivel, he would run, shrieking, as far away as he could get.
#23.1 Scott Walker on 2009-03-17 17:15
Mark, you are brave and I pray for you. This problem is bigger than our Church, we live in a fallen world that is increasingly at war with the Christ and his Church. We should not be surprised when our brothers and sisters fall, we should just be ready to engage them resolutely with truth, love and prayer. This site is a beacon in a stormy world and I for one hope its light never dims. May God grant you the continued wisdom to use this tool for his kingdom. Thank you Mark and may God bless you.
I have helped two Antiochian missions and two OCA missions get started. That may qualify me as a person who is no respecter of jurisdiction. As much as I hate to say it about the Antiochian jursidiction, I experienced a two-class society, one Arab, and one everyone else not Arab. MP is an enigma. In some ways he is gloriously progressive and others ways horribly backward. The backwardness in my experience almost always centered on issues of Arab ethnicity; and usually when he was bowing to the Arab money interests. MP has deftly dismantled the AEOM influx of American evangelicals. What started off with such great fanfare has fizzled into ethnic Americans being forced to bow to Damascus. Most of the promises made have been broken outside of the few AEOM churches where the founders still worship. The AEOM founders are growing old and are not able to fight the good fight for an American incarnation of Orthodoxy any longer. What has emerged now is an unsteady stalemate. That stalemate cannot last forever, so at least for yours truly, this Antiochian crisis has been brewing for at least a decade or more. It was inevitable. Mark Stokoe certainly didn't create it and I applaud the efforts to get this dialogue moving. In my experience, such dialogue has been stifled in the parishes for the most part, except for the painful complaining that occurs in the hallways. We need to come together and get these issues discussed and resolved. Hiding them only prolongs the pain.
#25 Anon. on 2009-03-17 16:25
"That stalemate cannot last forever, so at least for yours truly, this Antiochian crisis has been brewing for at least a decade or more."
You are correct! Actually, this has been going on for 30+ years. + Philip has always been receptive to non-Arabs as clergy, but they have always been considered "2nd class citizens." Same with laity. When the AEOM came into the AOCA (only because the OCA dragged their feet) + Philip saw it as a great opportunity to convert the American masses to Orthodoxy, but Orthodoxy under him in HIS own image. Even many in the OCA knew that once the AEOM realized exactly what they joined, they'd defect to the OCA to find real equality.
+ Philip's AOCA has always existed in this dichotomy; old country vs American church. This isn't unusual, the OCA has been wrestling with this also, but it seems that a real change is under way. The AOCA has to decide what it is going to be. The majority of the people of the AOCA do not want "old country" interference anymore. What they do want is an American Church with Arab roots. The old country clergy can get on board with this or they will continue to row against the tide and that's a losing battle.
#25.1 Anonymous on 2009-03-18 05:54
No wonder you got attacked by both the 3-Stooges-in-1 (Fr X, Alex, and Boutros) and All Caps Guy: it's full-moon week, my friend! ... It's not for nothing that crazy people are called "lunatics," after "Luna," the name for the moon!
#26 David Barrett on 2009-03-17 19:00
The words from Fr. Farley ought to be read at every Orthodox church for a Sunday.
These are words that really put the problem into its accurate perspective and mitigate the bullkaka.
Thank you Fr. Farley for illuminating the way episcopal power has evolved over the years.
I think the challenge that I would like to see in another reflection is how to return to the original pre-Constantian era.
Usually the first thing for an effective treatment is to identify the root cause of the problem. I believe he has hit the nail on the head. Hopefully the image doesn't flow from here to Christ on the cross, it did for me for a moment, but I digress.
Getting the leaders of the Orthodox church to behave differently will take a lot of effort and it will likely be seen as an effort to 'democratize' the church, so it will be full of challenges.
The clergy and not OCANEWS.ORG will play the most vital role in any effort to change this behavior, if you ask me.
#27 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-03-17 19:29
Our Archdiocesan Constitution says that it is subject to the Patriarchate's Constitution, but I have been unable to find it online.
Similarly, I have been unable to find a copy of the Patriarchate's Bylaws online.
If anyone has copies of the Patriarchate's Constitution and Bylaws, please e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a blessed Fast,
#28 Silouan James on 2009-03-17 19:55
Letters like those of Fr Nasr and Gabriel are of grave concern. We are all Orthodox Christians , we all serve the same God and we are all responsible for adherence to and keeping of holy tradition. I'm certain that if Fr Constantine were to hear the confession a parishioner who had served his church faithfully for 50 years and then committed a grave sin last week, the sin would not diminish because of his past. We are all brothers and sisters in this faith. We are all equal in the eyes of God. M Phillip is a man and a Bishop who is as subject to Gods judgment just the same as you and I Fr Constantine. Let us have faith that the church will endure this madness and that God will not abandon us. Let us not be angry but cry "'Lord have Mercy"! But net us not sit mute from fear when we as parishioners and Priests and former Bishops know the way of the righteous. Let us point our dear leaders in that way and may God protect us all.
#28.1 Christos on 2009-03-18 06:58
This latest thread is really very interesting. For quite some time all of the attention has been on the OCA and quite frankly there was a somewhate delightful glee from non-OCA people about the troubles within the OCA. Now that the tables are turned just a bit there is now a reaction from members of the AOCA.
My personal hope and pray is that the faithful of the AOCA will not take the path of least resistance and simply affirm what the Holy Synod of Antioch has recently agreed to. The simple thing to do is say "yes" to Antioch and leave the issues for the next group of people to deal with in say another 10 years when Metropolitan Philip has passed away. The fact is that the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese has grown because Americans have been hungry for the truth of Holy Orthodoxy. Most of them, however, tolerate Antioch but really it doesn't mean a whole lot to them. Perhaps it is just a dream, but I hope that the faithful will not give up on their autonomy. Just like the OCA there are going to be serious bumps along the way but it is still worth the effort to be an autonomous (or autocephalous) Orthodox Christian Church.
#29 Anon. priest on 2009-03-17 20:37
Mark, I think you have misread Anon. priest's comment. I don't think he is advocating silence. To the contrary, I think he is cautioning against silence.
(Editor's note: You are right. Upon re-reading it, I realize I totally misread it. Thanks for pointing out my error.)
#29.1 Jimmy the Greek on 2009-03-18 07:07
Frist, Fr. Antony Gabriel Comments are well writen and his understanding of the (*entire issue*): we must above all other be loyal to the Church. The Holy Synod of Antioch is the highest governign body of the Church and we must obey rgardless of oru personal option, where they reside or our loyality to our Local Bishop or our Metropolitan. Personally I support the Holy Synod Decision, for two reasons a) thy are the highest authority of the Church and we must obey it ad b) This allow us to preserve a unity thoughtout the Archdiocese, not different approaches.
This issue is should and will be dealt with by our Metropolitan and Bishops when they meet during Bright Week - it is nto oru business (Especially during Great Lent) to critizes any of our Bishops/MEtroplitan/Patriarch. All Bishops represent the Icon of Christ and we should show the the honro and respect to Them as we would show the iIco of Christ not this name-callign and finger-pointing. This is not healthy.
I find it ironic that all of these comments are on this website, with your mission statement states the purpose of this website is to make people within the OCA awware of issues about their Church, it does not say "Orthodox ?Christian of all Jurisdictions" or "antiochian ORthodox" -if you belive in your mission statement you should cease all comments and do nto dag our Archdioces in tothe mudd especially during this lenten Season, this is the devila t work try to devide us and destroy the Church.
IF we will ever have Orthodox Unity in aMericana nd one day eeven have an American PAtriachate we must all each Jurisdiction to work otu their internal issues. that was why I never ommented on your site beofe sicne it was internal OCA issues, so please stop taking the ntiochian church down!
#30 Anonymous on 2009-03-17 22:43
Hmm....Antiochian parishioners are supposed to just bow and scrape before the bishops and not question them at all? Sounds like a mentality better suited to those under Hitler or Stalin.
Or certain metropolitans Who Shall Not Be Named (my apologizes to Harry Potter fans).
I was recently talking with a woman (immigrated several years ago) from the "Republic of Macedonia," formerly part of Yugoslavia. Someone else brought up last year's mess in Alaska. A fellow OCA member and I began to explain to her how the retired Bishop of Alaska had been treating the Native priests. The "Macedonian" woman shut us down cold and insisted we were not to say one word against bishops in her presence. "They are holy and pray much more than we do." I was too shocked to laugh.
#30.1 Michele Hagerman on 2009-03-18 10:53
As one who was received in an AEOM parish, and later moved to the OCA when I moved to another area, I wonder if we should recall the words of St. Paul:
1 Cor 1:10ff I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
11 For it has been reported to me by Chlo'e's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren.
12 What I mean is that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apol'los," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ."
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Reverend Fathers, brothers and sisters, Paul's letter can be addressed to us today. Whether or not we recognize it, we are one body in Christ. This is the essence of Church. This is the source and fountain of our eternal salvation.
Why must we quote canons when our own New Covenant tells us what is heresy, and says it so clearly?
Of course, we also have the quote from our Savior:
St. Matthew 23:11 He who is greatest among you shall be your servant;
12 whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
St. Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
26 It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant
I am by no means able to predict the future, but I believe the word of our Lord to be true: Those who seek power, authority, and influence will be last to enter the Kingdom, if they enter at all. I pray God's mercy on their souls, and on my soul more sinful and leprous than any.
Let there be no doubt - I am of Christ. Not of Antioch, not of Constantinople, not of Moscow, not of Syosset, not of Englewood.
In Christ our Savior,
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#30.2 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-03-18 21:36
Within the Church there has always been, and always will be, both sin and heresy. Of the two, which is more destructive? Sin is to be expected and indeed it the reason that God became incarnate and established the Church. We are made in God's image, which means we have free will and can choose to be wrong and prodigal -- hence the inevitability of sin and the need for the Christ to lead us back to our divine nature.
The OCA scandals of the last several years are an example of sin. Some bishops and other leaders within that jurisdiction have been guilty of embezzlement, outright theft, sexual scandal, and contemptuous behavior towards their laity. There’s really nothing new with that. Members of the Church at all levels will always sin, but if the Church remains true to its canons, Scripture, Tradition and the Councils it will correct itself from sin and guide its members to their intended divine nature. The seven Councils of the Church created an enclave, and a womb that we can reenter to conquer sin and death by “right glory” – Orthodoxy.
The present situation within the Antiochian jurisdiction is not simply “sin”. It is heresy. It is not “right glory” and it is contrary to the canons and the seven Councils.
We are all tormented by sin, but we need not be enslaved by heresy. Heresy (in the Greek) means to “pick and choose” and it breeds the greatest sins of all: pride, power grabbing, and schism. Let’s leave these heresies to Rome and the thousands of types of Protestantism.
I hope that Met. Phillip will wake up and see himself as an older wise brother to his fellow American bishops rather than their pope.
#31 Stu Harris on 2009-03-17 23:15
Thank you,Fr Lawrence, for your cogent and succinct statement. TThis kind of thinking will be vital in the coming OCA strategic planning and restructuring. Incidentally, Lord Acton's statement about the corrupting nature of power was directly related to the mid-19th century drive to absolutize papal power by its most megalomaniacal proponent Pius IX.
#32 Fr Tom Mueller on 2009-03-18 06:00
To The Old Country,
I ask you to answer some questions about Orthodox Christian practice in North America. What good is there in conducting the Holy Services of the church in Slavonic, Greek, or Arabic in America when MOST folks don't understand a word. Consider how many of the YOUNGER generation have fell away from the church and God because of the liturgical language used by those who cling to their ethnic and old country methods. The practice of using Gods Holy Church for a ethnic club is down right sinful. The Gospel is to be witnessed to ALL who seek it in America. And thus the money needs to stay in America so that we can "build up the church". As a cradle Orthodox, I am thankful for all the converts in our churches as they have helped and taught me about "my religion". I pray that the crisis that the OCA suffered and the AOC problems is the path that our lord is showing us to a united Orthodox Church in America.
#33 David A Rudovsky on 2009-03-18 13:14
#33.1 cshinn on 2009-03-19 09:13
mark stokoe is a disgusting individual that has only served to create a trashy website that is used as an open forum to derail and cause turmoil and tension in every othrodox jurisdication behind the false premise of trying to uncover truth.
Furthermore, it is really troubling to me that others in this forum "bite" at the bits and pieces of rubbish that he prints in order to implant ideas and inuendos that offer no evidence other than raw speculation. May God have mercy on you, Mark, for trying to wreak havoc on the Orthodox vineyard implanted on this soil. Shame on you.
I fully expected that either you will post this with a negative and cynical response with claims that you are providing "accountability" or that you may not even post this at all. In either event, I hope that you will change the way this website is run by not making it an open forum for ridicule and spew of speculation/gossip.
#34 Anonymous on 2009-03-19 08:29
It's amazing that so many don't want the Truth uncovered. The discussions here have helped clean up the OCA. Why wouldn't any truth seeker in the AOCA want to know all the facts and issues? .... Most all the "old country" priests and laity want "old country" control. The real problem is that control by foreign bishops is DEAD. No one wants these foreign despots controlling their churches. Only ROCOR seems to be happy under Moscow and that's probably because they are just happy to be canonical now.
Really, what 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation Orthodox or convert wants to be under the thumb of foreign bishops? WHY? We are not Roman Catholics who believe we have to support some "Ivory Tower" wizard and his lavish kingdom in a foreign country.
It's time to dump Damascus, Moscow, Istanbul and any other foreign bishops. Wake up American Orthodox! These people only keep us divided. They aren't the upholders of Orthodoxy; they are the opposers of unity & love!
#35 Anonymous on 2009-03-19 12:49
Dear Fr. Gabriel,
It is not 'canonical trivia' to be pained at the sorrow of your beloved bishop, whose enthronement you attended, who has been a true father-in-Christ and pastor to his flock. It is not 'canonical trivia' to be pained oneself at being told that the bishop who knows you by name, by whose support one's mission or parish came into existence, is not really your bishop, that a distant hierarch in whose presence one has never felt the degree of sanctity the bishop you called your own, is really your bishop, that your priest ought commemorate only him in the Divine Liturgy, not the bishop who knows you and whom you love.
I hope that everyone in the Antiochian Archdiocese who offers prosphora--or at least those whose priest does not commemorate the local bishop through force of habit--will put at the head of their commemoration list the bishop of their own diocese.
Wishing you and your parishioners a blessed Lent.
St. Mary Magdalene Mission
Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America
#36 Subdeacon David Yetter on 2009-03-19 19:28
again and again we get more and more posts from those you like to stir trouble and create controversy. im sorry, subdeacon, but the priests were given an archpastoral directive and they will have to abide by it. your advice not to commemorate the metropolitan shows your immaturity and lack of understanding to the subject matter.
#37 Anonymous on 2009-03-20 11:10
Need I remind you an "illegal" and "uncanonical" directive?
#37.1 Antionymous on 2009-03-20 14:11
What is immature about individuals offering prosphora asking the priest to commemorate a beloved Bishop? Priests and their wives are frequently remembered in that way. Why not a bishop? Explain please. To be sure, all priests will remember +MP. They are not stupid or disobedient.
#37.2 anon on 2009-03-20 14:19
Please re-read Sbdn. David's comment. He is not advocating that priests not commemorate Metropolitan PHILIP, not is he advocating that the priests continue to commemorate their diocesan biships (against Metropolitan PHILIP's directive).
Instead, he is suggesting that everyone who offers prosphora include their diocesan bishop as the first name on the commemoration list. This is not stirring up trouble and creating controversy.
#37.3 Jimmy the Greek on 2009-03-20 15:26
Do you really have the spiritual discernment, O Anonymous, to, from a distance, through text on a computer screen, determine my level of spiritual maturity?
I suppose my attitude is immature. But is that immaturity the immaturity of not having grown into the full stature of Christ, or is it the sort of immaturity that St. Olympia and the other 'Johnites' showed by adhering to Chrysostom when the archpastoral directive of that day told them not to?
I think I have a lot to work on with regard to my immaturity. It's far from perfect, and by the time I leave this mortal life, I really would like to be like a little child, so I can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Maybe by God's grace I will, but I still think it would be easier with a holy bishop who is really my bishop and knows me by name residing near me.
#37.4 Subdeacon David Yetter on 2009-03-22 07:17
thanks jimmy for the clarification.
#38 Anonymous on 2009-03-20 18:24
Concerning the terminology used by the Holy Synod, I am puzzled by the use of the phrase "point of reference." (The mere use of this phrase proves who is behind this. I doubt this is the standard language in Antioch:) In my understanding of the Holy Orthodox Tradition, "point of reference" means only one thing: your Bishop! The moment the Bishop has been enthroned, he becomes your (only) "point of reference". He can only be replaced by his successor. Any re-defining of this (such as saying that the new "point of reference" is the Metropolitan, instead of the Bishop), or the dissolution of an episcopate, is, in my humble opinion, a violation of the Holy Orthodox Tradition. If I am mistaken, I would appreciate your comments/references.
GIVE BACK OUR BISHOP!
#39 Gabriel in DOWAMA on 2009-03-21 21:30
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