Wednesday, April 22. 2009
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Sorrow is the only word I can use to express my dismay at +Philip's latest epistle to the Parish Council in Oklahoma City. Parishes may obey his high handed directives, but the Archdiocese is wounded and damaged, and even the lowliest person in the Church deserves an explanation beyond "OBEY." The Metropolitan is slipping from absolute power and unfettered use of Archdiocese funds for his pet projects. It is a pity that his reputation, in spite of glowing interviews in The Word, has been irreparably damaged. People just don't believe it any more. He has been treated as a demi-god throughout his career, but no longer. He simply must find a new path, not just for the welfare of his people, but for his own salvation.
#1 anon on 2009-04-22 05:29
isnt it funny how desparate mark and company are to try to paint the picture of AOCA the same as that of the OCA? A note to Mark and his friends in Portland, Oregon and Witchita...it's not going to work. We know of all that is going on. If you think you can trust those that are working with you...think again.
#2 Anonymous on 2009-04-22 05:47
Don't worry my friend, in time, all of the churches of Antiochian Archdiocese will begin to put the heat on Englewood because of its lack of transparency. The money will stop flowing and then real change can begin. What do you think, that Americans and Arab-Americans are stupid? LOL! Just wait and see my friend. The party is over.
Al Maseeh Qam!
#2.1 Iskander Ibrahim on 2009-04-22 18:14
Oh please. I don't know Mark Stokoe and I am in the AOCA and if he wasn't doing it, I would be. What his Eminence is doing is wrong, is foreign to the model of the Bishop that St. Ignatios of Antioch left us, and is quite frankly opposed by a lot of people including a LOT of his clergy.
What Metropolitan Philip is doing is alienating his flock and endangering his legacy.
#2.2 anon on 2009-04-22 18:30
Wow. How very Christian of you. Have you ever worked for the Mafia, anonymous? Vague threats are right up their alley. One difference, though. Mob guys are cold-hearted and brutal killers, but they are not cowards, unlike the kind of individual that launches threats while hiding like a scared little girl behind anonymity. Way to go, hero.
#2.3 Scott Walker on 2009-04-22 19:14
Christ is Risen! Christos Anesti!
If the American bishops are demoted by Met. Philip and the Holy Synod of Antioch for disobedience, they can always follow the example of Bishop Basil Osbourne in England and appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In the Joy of the Risen Lord Jesus,
How does that situation make sense? In Oxford, there is one MP parish, and then two EP parishes in different jurisdictions/exarchates that actually meet as one There is a lot of enduring pain in that particular situation - litigation regarding a priest's home and such. And besides, the last thing we need is two separate jurisdictions confusingly under the same spiritual authority of the EP. Probably not an example we ought to follow.
#3.1 Irene on 2009-04-22 20:22
Or they could appeal to the OCA's synod, claiming that those bishops are the local canonical synod. That would really twist the knickers in Damascus and Istanbul both.
#3.2 Just for giggles on 2009-04-22 22:36
"Or they could appeal to the OCA's synod, claiming that those bishops are the local canonical synod. That would really twist the knickers in Damascus and Istanbul both."
You are correct about this! The OCA "IS" the canonical authority in North America. The problem is that these bishops were consecrated in Damascus, but + Basil Essey was not. Canonically, + Basil could defect to the OCA. Damascus would depose him, but the question is, what REAL authority do they have in the US? This would result in more divisions and problems, but maybe that's what is needed!
#3.2.1 Anonymous on 2009-04-23 12:16
I guess one could have expected such a reaction to the decision that is a clear violation of the Canons of several Councils, at least two of which Ecumenical ones, namely, not to demote or depose a bishop without proper trial.
Having in mind several uncanonical decisions and actions that took place during the last years in Orthodoxy around the Globe, it seems as if someone is planing to cause as much rift among Orthodox as possible.
And we are nearing June and October when "gatherings" are planned...
God save us from another Chalcedon!
#4 Anonymous on 2009-04-22 06:19
Who gave you this letter? Why isn't the full letter posted? Please post the entire letter not snippets of the letter. Thanks.
(Editor's note: It is not our policy to reveal sources. However, I will send the letter to the Attorney's group for inclusion on the Timeline, where it will be publicly accessible. As for not posting the entire letter - except for the opening greeting, and concluding blessing, it basically was.)
#5 Who on 2009-04-22 06:29
I agree: let us read the letter for ourselves and present the commentary separately. As it stands, we don't know if there's anything left out, which is a distraction and makes this site look less reliable. If you're not going to include the whole thing, at least give a link to it elsewhere
#5.1 John Congdon on 2009-04-23 07:53
Speaking of external links, could you please add the Attorneys' Group website to the "Links" page?
(Editor's note: Great idea. Only so many hours in the day! Sorry!)
#5.1.1 John Congdon on 2009-04-24 11:36
A common addage among Antiochian clergy regarding +Philip is the supposed admonition to "sit down, shut up, and color".
#6 Hiding until the all clear on 2009-04-22 06:33
That's a scary letter. As the world crumbles it seems men are trying harder to hold onto temporal things. My guess is that his fall won't be pretty.
I think there was one important aspect of this letter that was not addressed. +PHILIP said that the Synod could change anything except the Nicene Creed.
If that is the case, then we need to speak loudly at the 2009 Convention, as one united body, that we want and need diocesan bishops. We need to send a strong message to Antioch that we will not accept their recent decision and they need to re-consider, lest they alienate themselves from their self-ruled Archdiocese.
#8 An East Coast Priest on 2009-04-22 07:46
What self-rule? There cannot be self-rule without ruling Diocesan Bishops. How could there be self-rule when the Constitution was thoroughly gutted by this decision? How can there be self-rule if the Diocesan Bishops are not allowed to think for themselves? They must all OBEY (according to MP)! There is certainly no mention to them to pray!
Self-Rule is a thing of the past if the DIOCESAN Bishops accept this decision lying down. How could any of them look anyone in the eyes after this if they cave into MP?
How can the Board of Trustees look anyone in the eyes? Or feel any prestige from their position? We may as well have Card Board cut outs for the Board of Trustees.
MP andhis friends betrayed the self-rule a Abdullah Khouri said he would.
You are absolutely correct. THe people must speak up. How can we elect any new Bishops if our own Bishops have no vote. How can they vote if they have to be in ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE to MP. This is a perversion of any Christian understanding of obedience. This once again is about personal loyalty not the church. Look at the Word magazine. It is shameless. How many photos of MP do we need in every issue! He is the one who approves every issue! Its called megalamania!
#8.1 anonymous on 2009-04-23 03:36
Yes, the assertion that the Holy Synod of Antioch can change anything except the Nicene Creed goes beyond trampling the Holy Canons. It is heresy pure and simple. No local synod has the authority to undo the Declaration of Chalcedon, or the anathemas against the heresies and heresiarchs condemned by the Ecumenical Councils....
#8.2 An anonymous Antiochian in minor orders on 2009-04-23 09:15
Christ Is Risen! Truly He Is Risen!
You people became very disrespectful, you now call Metopolitan Philip, simply Philip, whom do you think that he is? your buddy, your playmate? isn't he your Spiritual Father? Isn't he the leader of The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America?
Hello!,I think you are loosing it! I think since you are so busy in showing to the world that you are "The American Orthodox Church", you began to deviate from the principles and the doctrine of The Orthodox Church! And by saying that, I mean you are loosing respect for your priests and hierarchs, calling them by their first name, just like the protestants who also call their pastors by their first name!You demand and claim too much authority in the Church undermining the ecclessiastical authority which belongs to the hierarchs and the priests and prettyu soon, you will be just like any other "American Christian denomination" if you wish "Evangelical Denomination" too, who will keep the rite of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but as far as the administrative structure, will not look like a real Orthodox Church!
Wake up, until is not too late!
May The Lord God bless you and help you to find your way back to the Real Orthodoxy, because you are going astray!
In The Resurrected Christ,His unworthy servant, the unworthy priest Catalin O. Mot, an unworthy priest who is concerned of the well being of The One,Holy,Catholic and Apostolic Church, virtually The Orthodox Church, The Only Church of Jesus Christ The Lord!
Christ Is Risen! Truly He Is Risen!
#9 Rev.Fr.Catalin O. Mot on 2009-04-22 09:51
Christ is Risen!
I wonder: in the days when the faithful resisted the iconoclasts and the False Union councils, did they uniformly use the ecclesiastical titles of iconoclast and unionist bishops?
(editor's note: Yes. )
#9.1 Subdeacon David Yetter on 2009-04-22 18:39
Boy have you missed the boat! The reaction against this decision is because the OLD WORLD & MP IGNOR THE HOLY CANONS. It is the ones who want a break with the BYZANTINE WAY that WANT THE ORTHODOX WAY. Perhaps the only WAY to do things the ORTHODOX WAY is to free ourselves from the Corrupt Byzantine Duplicity. The Converts are by far the MOST Conservative. The second and third generation and even many of the emigrants are good pious and conservative as well. It seems that MP and his friends (and perhaps the OLD Metropolitans of the Holy Synod) are more like 1960s Episcopalians in their liberalism and willingness to depart from the past.
#9.2 anonymous on 2009-04-23 03:48
Christus surrexit! Dear Father, "+Phillip" is merely shorthand for "Metropolitan Phillip" like "+Basil" is shorthand for Bishop Basil or Met. Phillip or Bp. Basil, capitalized or not.
Yes he is the Metropolitan, but so were Nestorius and Honorius et al. "It's an internal matter." The age old cry of the oppressor.
#9.3 Kevin Klein on 2009-04-23 06:58
I would encourage my Antiochian brothers and sisters to remember that there is no duty to obey an unjust law, an illegal order, or men in opposition to God.
#10 Orthodox but Not Antiochian on 2009-04-22 10:33
Yeah, it all speaks for itself, all right. Obey this like St. Maximos the Confessor obeyed monothelite hierarchs.
#11 Phileas on 2009-04-22 11:49
I don't know if I would interpret his letter in such harsh tones. Hopefully the friday meeting will resolve this.
#12 Reader Michael on 2009-04-22 11:59
Christ is risen, but why would our expectations of Met Philip also rise in dealing with the harm he is doing? And is anyone really surprised by his response to Oklahoma City parishioners??? He is staying true to form in dealing with questions, dissention, and anyone who refuses to pray, pay and obey. But this time, in attempting to obfuscate, talk out of both sides of his mouth, and intimidate, he may have seriously miscalculated the response of the faithful people of God. Or at least we can hope.
#13 Another Anon on 2009-04-22 13:07
You almost have it right! It is reallly keep your mouth shut, pay and obey, where did you get the idea of pray? It is not consistent with butchering the services with glee.
#13.1 anonymous on 2009-04-23 03:40
I have seen this movie before. I am puzzled to see Metropolitan Philip, whom I have previously admired for his willingness to welcome converts, publicly go to default mode, with, "Pray, pay and obey." Is the Holy Synod of Antioch TRYING to drive Americans into the OCA? My sympathies and prayers to my Antiochian brothers and sisters.
#14 Scott Walker on 2009-04-22 13:17
Less haste to judgment, please. +Philip has publicly demonstrated his support for the unfairly maligned (and convert) +Jonah and has not hesitated to throw his own punches at Constantinople. At the parish level, nothing has changed and the Archdiocese continues to evangelize the unchurched on American soil. Where is the need for 'church shopping?'
#14.1 Douglas on 2009-04-22 19:11
Two things leap to mind. First simply the adage "Pray, pay and obey." I suggest doing the first only.
Second, the entire movie Mr. Roberts. Great entertainment, great acting. +Philip could take the James Cagney role any time, but no one would think someone that bizarre could be made an officer or a clergyman. Both incorrect.
The bright side is that the Navy has a retirement age. Also can discharge them after an eye test or a weigh-in. Maybe the Church should think this over.
#15 Ba'ab on 2009-04-22 13:24
Two items to note:
1) St. Elijah's, OKC, is one of the largest and most vital parishes in the archdiocese.
2) The pastor of St. Elijah's is the Very Rev. Economos Constantine Nasr, a well-respected senior priest. If he's willing to question Metr. Philip's iron-fisted actions, then there's hope for the rest of us.
The current crisis cannot be simplified as being one of Arabs versus converts. There are plenty of Arab clergy upset with what's going on and, as we've seen from Fr. John Morris' postings, some convert clergy who will take Metr. Philip's side, seemingly no matter what he does.
Sic semper tyrannis,
#16 Nemo on 2009-04-22 14:07
Yes, that might seem like an irony to some, that some converts will obey no matter what, but I've seen this in other converts. No matter what the bishop says or does must be what must be done. We must just be "spiritual" and "obedient children." I've also seen such converts then basically act like followers of clergy gurus. "Father" this and "Father" that to a point that is beyond healthy. Obedience is necessary to the Christian life, but we need to make sure we're obeying a Christian calling or demand and not just someone's independent agenda. In other words, obedience without discernment could unintentionally make one a follower of demons.
#16.1 Phileas on 2009-04-22 22:02
"The pastor of St. Elijah's is the Very Rev. Economos Constantine Nasr, a well-respected senior priest. If he's willing to question Metr. Philip's iron-fisted actions, then there's hope for the rest of us."
Don't even think for ONE MINUTE that Fr. Nasr would really question + Philip. This is bogus. ...
If + Philip doesn't REALLY do something about being a REAL autonomous church, ALL the converts should walk. Afterall, converts are really considered 2nd or 3rd class citizens by Englewood anyway.
#16.2 Anonymous on 2009-04-23 06:23
I concur. My take is that the letter was primarily intended for the parish council and/or laity who do not like the situation in the AOCANA right now.
#16.2.1 Phileas on 2009-04-23 10:46
Christ Is Risen! Truly He Is Risen!
"Obey!", that is a very good advice for all Orthodox Christians who have lost their sense of being "obedient".
Submit yourselves to the Lord and obey your priests and Hierarchs, ultimately even St. Paul says:" Obey your rulers, those who are greater in rank than you in the Church of Christ!"
That was the Spirit of The Church always, that kept This Church alive for over 2000 years.
I'm fed up with statements like:"Here is America, it's democracy,such "old rules" don't apply here!"", No kidding, says who?
Since when we can change the rules and The Canon Law of The Church, acoording to our convenience to meet our needs, just because "here is America", probably since we are preaching "Americanism" in our Churches instead of preaching the real Gospel Of Jesus Christ The Lord!
I have many people who embraced Our Faith later in their life(many of you will call them "converts", which is an inappropriate term to call them with", because they are not "different "species", more or less we are all "converts" by heart), who are American people and I help many of them ,by the Grace of God to be received into Our Church, but I don't recall any of them to tell me that they want to convert to "American Orthodoxy!"
Christ Is Risen!Truly He Is Risen!, God bless all of you!
#17 Rev.Fr.Catalin O. Mot on 2009-04-22 14:58
Considering it was the Holy Synod of Antioch that "changed the rules and the Canon law of the Church" by demoting diocesan bishops to mere auxiliaries without any trial, or, indeed, any justification at all, you might want to direct your fire in their direction, Father. Christ is risen, indeed.
#17.1 Scott Walker on 2009-04-22 19:22
Truly He is risen!
With all due respect, Fr., we should also remember that we are told by St Paul to test all things, and hold fast what is good. In testing this situation against ecclesiastical norms of Orthodoxy, standards for being a good shepherd, or self-emptying servant, NOTHING of the Metropolitan's actions can be seen as good, and therefore warrant unquestioning obedience, much less absolutely blind obedience. He threw his brother bishops under the bus, trashed the whole "self-ruling" autonomy, and wants us to just say "What a great idea! Have a nice day." His approach, attitude and unfettered despotic clericalism is not worthy of such trust.
In the final analysis, it's not about being "American" or "converts." It's about being Orthodox and trying to live what we teach about what it means to be Church.
#17.2 Another Anon on 2009-04-22 20:28
Rev. Father, Christ is Risen.
1. Democracy is a bad form of government even in the secular world, an invitation to live by unbridled passions. Only tyranny is worse.
2. Without bishops there would be no Church, no sacraments, no salvation.
3. I long for the day when we can all gather around our bishops in love and celebrate together. That is the greatest testimony against the darkness of the world.
4. I totally reject the actions of the Antiochian Synod and Met. Philip for one simple reason, they are done without love, they are done with out reason and they harm the people in the Church.
5. Jesus commands us only to love and warns us to reject worldly power.
6. In my baptism I declared my willingness to unite myself with Christ and to follow the teachings of the Church by rejecting Satan and all his works plus and all heresy, ancient and modern. I don't find any mention of obeying bishops who arrogate power to themselves. Genuine, salvific obedience flows only from love not fear. Fear is of the devil. Obedience is not slavery, just the opposite.
7. Met Phiip is not my spiritual father. As far as I can tell, he has no interest in me at all except to the extent that I help further his personal aims.
8. If Met. Philip persists in the course he has announced, all of his work for God and the Church will be undone. That is a horrible thing to contemplate. It will scatter we sheep at precisely the time when we need to be gathered together and protected.
9. It is an act of love to tell someone when they are in grave risk. I reject the decision of the Holy Synod and the actions of Met. Philip precisely because I love the Church and the episcopate. I have no animosity toward either the members of the Holy Synod or Met. Philip. In fact, I expect I care more for them than they do for me as their actions have shown tremendous disrespect for me as a person and a fellow Christian.
Lord have mercy on me a sinner.
By your prayers, Rev Father.
(editor's note: If by #1 you mean to paraphrase Winston Churchill that democracy is the worst form of government (in the secular world) except for all others, I would agree. If you mean that it is a bad form of government, period, I would just point out that the Emperor is not coming back - neither the Palaeologon, nor the Bonapartist. Democracy is here to stay - get used to it.)
#17.3 Michael Bauman on 2009-04-22 22:19
Dear editor: I prefer a costitutional republic with limited suffrage.
(editor's note: Limited to whom? Members of one Church only? Property owner's only? Men only? Whites only? Been there, done that, no point in going back.)
#17.3.1 Michael Bauman on 2009-04-23 22:24
Wow, I don't think I've ever been so roundly insulted simply for expressing a philosophical preference in my life. By opining that I would perfer limited suffrage I instantly become a mysoginist, racist, reactionary theocrat.
Please forgive me for arousing such passions in you.
However so that it is clear: I am not talking about the Church. For our country's governement I would prefer the suffage be limited to U.S. citizens who are literate in English, have resided in their community for at least 12 months and have a general knowledge of the candidates and issues to be voted upon.
I guess you are assuming that we in the United States are now a democracy. That is not true so I'm not sure what you are so passionately defending?
(editor's note: I wasn't insulting you, I was disagreeing with while asking you to expand on your answer to make sure you were talking about what I thought you were. It turns out you were, and I thank you for the clarification. Yes, I do assume the US is a democracy, because last I looked (in 2008) all of us who made the effort did get to vote, and it seems those votes were counted fairly (several times if you live in Minnesota), and the winner decided on that basis, so that counts as a democracy for me. That you would impose a residency test, a literacy test, a language test, and a current affairs test on potential voters is fascinating - and more than a little scary to those of us who had grandparents who never mastered English very well, but sure knew who, what and why they voted the way they did.)
#18.104.22.168 Michael Bauman on 2009-04-24 17:30
Forgive me, Father, but Metropolitan Philip himself has taken issue with your stance. Recall when he threatened the Holy Synod itself with his "other options" if they didn't grant Americans self-rule. He is the one who has been beating the drum of American independence, American self-rule, American Orthodoxy. He is the one who quoted the American Revolution at the Holy Synod and threatened to secede from Antioch if they didn't give him what he wanted. Ridiculous that anyone advising blind obedience to Metropolitan Philip has the chutzpah to lecture Americans on obedience-- look at the model he, himself, has set forth: he obeys when it is convenient for him and threatens and intimidates the Holy Synod when obedience is not convenient.
We Orthodox in the United States are all American and Orthodox. I reject the distinction between convert and cradle. We're in the soup together. We have an archbishop who is out of control and demanding blind obedience to non-Orthodox principles. We have an OBLIGATION as Orthodox Christians obey-- but obey the Scriptures, Tradition, Councils, and Holy Canons. We are obligated to obey Metropolitan Philip ONLY to the extent he follows his same obligation. In a word, he's not.
And folks, as Father Catalin properly reminds us, we may disagree with the Metropolitan and have an obligation to disobey him, but we do not have an excuse to be disrespectful of him-- no matter how abusive he is or is yet to become. But, Father Catalin, Antiochian as I am, he is NOT my spiritual father, as you suggest-- my soul is not strong enough to survive that.
#17.4 Silouan James on 2009-04-23 05:31
"who" not "whom" do you think he is. And the word is "losing" not "loosing".
And btw, Father, who exactly is changing the Canons here?
#17.5 Michael Strelka on 2009-04-23 07:05
Fr. Catalin, I wonder if your attitude would be the same if, suddenly and without provocation or explanation, Metr. Nicholas of Detroit was dismissed from his position and replaced by, oh, former Abp. Spyridon, brought out of retirement for the occasion. Were you, perhaps, not around when Abp. Iakovos was forced to retire and was replaced by a man who almost singelhandedly destroyed the Greek Archdiocese using the same tactics and methods Metr. Philip is using right now?
#17.6 Nemo on 2009-04-23 08:25
Do you think that +Philip would quietly accept a decision from the Patriarch of Antioch to make all metropolitans an auxiliary to the patriarch, with the patriarch having the final word on everything?
#18 Anonymous on 2009-04-22 15:00
I sometimes wonder what +Philip is actually playing at - being a fool, a knave, or a downright despot. He is actually claiming more real power for his Patriarch +Ignatius than Cardinal Manning ever did for his Pope. At least Manning had the fig-leaf of the unbridled power claimed by +Innocent some centuries earlier.
For those without substantial knowledge of western church history, Manning did more real damage for the recovery of the Catholic tradition within Anglicanism than the likes of the evangelical +JC Ryle ever did.
Had Cardinals Manning and Cullen, and the later doctrine of Papal Infallibility never happened in Rome, the entire Anglican Church worldwide would by now be fully monochrome Catholic and doctrinally Orthodox.
Ex-Episcopal converts in Orthodoxy will appreciate the deep irony here - before this +MP meddling, Antioch was on track for massive expansion through incremental abandonment of its Byzantine, "old-world" phronema.
The fruit of +MP's meddling may well do a version of "ethnic-cleansing" within Antiochian ranks - with potentially all recent converts leaving. Had they wanted unbridled papalism, they would have gone directly to Rome - they would not have "dallied" in Orthodoxy.
At least in Holy Orthodoxy, they saw some semblance of religious freedom within an episcopal framework. If that has now gone (at least in Antiochian ranks), they will no longer be able to intellectually-justify their continuing presence in Antioch.
This may well leave the Antiochians in a worse position than the Episcopal "church" of America - but without doctrinal and moral liberalism as its catalyst.
Will Englewood be left with a hollow shell of a "church" - plenty of buildings almost all unused, except by a few loyal cronies of both +MP and +Ignatius (mostly Arabs)?
And will +MP's final financial gift to Damascus be the proceeds of the sale of the effectively defunct church buildings in his jurisdiction (many of which were paid-for by convert blood, sweat and tears)?
I sincerely hope and pray that it does not get to this but I fear that this scenario may well play out.
If it does, I would not like the OCA, in an expansion-mode (to accomodate the "refugees" from Englewood), to be contributing to this final "gift" to Damascus by buying-out these unused Antiochian church buildings.
#19 John B on 2009-04-22 15:08
In +Philip’s response to the letter of the Oklahoma parish he said, “… Do not concern yourselves with this hierarchical issue.” If we, the laity, did not concern ourselves with hierarchical issues we all would be Roman Catholic now. Let us remember that it was the hierarchs who agreed to union with Rome at the Council of Florence (with the exception of St. Mark of Ephesus). It was the pious Orthodox laity who rejected the union and safeguarded the holy Orthodox faith!
#20 Anonymous on 2009-04-22 15:18
Lord have mercy, times 40, times 400, whatever it takes.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
Why does our Metropolitan insult us? Where is the self-rule? We are not children who are to be seen and not heard, or prolatariat in a comunist nation to be beat into submission. We know right from wrong in accordance with a constitution and what a demotion is.
Comment #18 is a great question.
Why does he not care about our pain in this matter?
Answer that loyal responders
#22 Daniel George on 2009-04-23 06:37
If the demoted Bishops stand together and do no consent to accepting the demotion regarding it as unjustified and uncannonical, and they stick by the constitution they have, and decide to act within its framework, what options are open to them in settling the matter with Metropolitan Philip and later with the Holy Synod of Antioch?
If Antioch is adamant about support this move and will not hear them and they still are convinced they must oppose this decision as uncanonical, what then?
How is this likely to play out if the demoted bishops with their flocks (former flocks) resist this synodal decision on canonical grounds?
#23 Robert Hegwood on 2009-04-23 07:45
A unified Orthodox Church in the USA (Canada and Mexico need to do their own heavy lifting on their respective unity questions) will not solve our problems and the challenges of administrating the Gospel in this land but it will make us all responsible, clergy and laity for our own life, in obedience to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, "who will lead us into all truth."
The growing pains, very painful as they have been, in the OCA in recent years are a necessary step in our maturity as a Church in this land. Even a cursory reading of Orthodox Church history in every land will expose that the Church Militant has been full of scandals and sin.
The current pains that our brothers and sisters in the AOCA are undergoing are another necessary step in their evolution into their awareness of being here, in the USA, good people striving to be the local expression of the Orthodox faith - faithful to their heritage but open to all.
It is inevitable that there will be a "recognized" local American Orthodox Church. Sadly, it also appears that it will be an earnest struggle against some who would prefer to keep American Orthodox distracted as "only" being Greek, or Antiochian, or Russian, etc Orthodox. And, as long as we continue to hunker down into our ethnic Orthodox ghettos, we will not realize the true and most powerful expression of Orthodoxy in this land, American Orthodoxy which will by definition and will must the unique melding of all of these beautiful, historic, and unique expressions of Orthodox tradition, which, each in their own way, was allowed to develop over many centuries in their own lands, and now have now been deposited, by God's will, here in the USA.
Does anyone seriously think that this has taken place so that we should have one tradition be superior to others? I don't think that is what God has in mind here in the USA. I mourn that we still have a sense of competition, whether it be latent or not, when it comes to our respective Churches here. How much of this distraction from our true work we allow to fester just under the surface. Have not most of us said when we have attended an Orthodoxy Vespers, "I hate Byzantine chant, I hate Russian music. Why don't those Greeks know how to serve Vespers? What do those Russians insist on making sure that every priest lies up precisely in order of year of ordination?" "What an awful translation of Vespers, blah, blah blah...etc, etc, etc. But, is it any wonder because we REFUSE to be more transparent and accountable to each other FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOSPEL?
The parallel jurisdictions we all suffer under here in the USA are simply wrong. It limits us and is a burden of unwise stewardship that we have used as an excuse to perpetuate the sinful notion that we are here in the USA to only minister "to our people" whether they be of one ethnic flavor or another. It is time that we reject any sense of ethnic triumphalism and hegemony. I really don't care who came to the USA first or whether Alaska was then part of Russia, therefore not part of an American Mission. Or whether Greeks came here 20 years before the Russians. WHO CARES! What matters is that we are here now and we are not going back to our respective homelands. We are all Orthodox Christians in the USA.
This is the land that God has charged us with evangelizing and He did not put any limits on who we are called to share the Good News with.
We MUST create ways to draw closer and RESIST every passion to feed our ethnic egos. Greeks are not superior to Russians nor are Russians superior to Greeks and Americans are not superior to either. (Please feel free to add any additional number of ethnic identities to this list.) We are all slaves to Christ and thus our leaders, our bishops are the chief slaves (doulos). It is in that context that we should understand obedience and thus take the unique Orthodox gift given to us here in the USA and offer it up to God from whence it came. And in so offering it, work daily to become the Church in this land that God already knows it can be and is calling us to incarnate. One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. One bishop in each city. One Synod that will draw from every beautiful and unique expression of Orthodoxy so that from this will come a truly American expression of the Orthodox Faith just like it has been allowed to evolve in each land where the Faith has been planted. If you want to get to the root of what Met. Jonah was preaching in Dallas, this is what he was saying and there was no disrespect intended, but we cannot deny who we are here in this land either.
Please, we must pray for one another in our respective "times of sorrows" and use them to bring us closer to each other not distract us because, in the end, the Lord will not ask us if we were Greek or Russian or America, Orthodox but if we were good and faithful stewards of the gift He entrusted to our care in this land.
Christ is Risen!
#24 Anonymous on 2009-04-23 08:19
A very good summation of the situation of Orthodoxy here in America!!!
#24.1 David Barrett on 2009-04-23 22:59
So true #24 Anonymous! Thank you. Why is this message so hard to understand? Is it because we don't comprehend God's word (The Holy Bible)? Are our hearts so hardened we can't see the light? Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful.
#24.2 Jane Cap on 2009-04-24 16:44
I really am not sure what the current diocesan bishops can do in opposing Met Philip. Even if the ‘nays’ were unanimous, so what? What would happen? Met Philip undoubtedly has the support of Pat. Ignatius. Will the bishops revolt? And do what – go to another patriarch? Not likely because then where does that leave the parishes? Some may want to follow the bishop to greener pastures, but the real property of that parish belongs to the Antiochian Archdiocese. No, the parishes are not going anywhere. Resign? And then what would they personally do? In addition, Met Philip may be glad to be rid of a few troublemakers.
But those scenarios are if everyone opposes Met Philip – but I don’t think that will happen, I can think of several bishops who are undoubtedly going to vote with Met Philip. Which leaves a few unhappy campers who have nothing but poor options.
A number of people here have been speaking out and encouraging the bishops to oppose this move – but Met. Philip probably has all of the important cards. I ask you – if they do oppose him and Met Philip says that the ruling stands, what exactly should they do? What happens after they resign? What happens after they say ‘no’? There is no higher court to appeal to if there is a disagreement – Pat. Ignatius is not an avenue and a large committee of bishops from other jurisdictions would be interesting but I don’t think they want to get involved in this. The end result that has been threatened has been withholding money and leaving altogether. I don’t know. Met Philip has weathered a lot of storms and probably feels like he can wait this one out.
(editor's note: Just an opinion, but there is no evidence of Metropolitan Philip just waiting out this storm: from the very beginning he has been active in creating it. How else does one explain the Abadallah emails? Lucky guesses of things no one else even dreamed of? Storms, like wars, though, are terrible things - and one can never predict their outcomes. It is best we all just wait and see what happens...)
#25 Curiouser and curiouser on 2009-04-23 13:49
I am a fairly new Orthodox Christian, just 7 days actually, and I probably shouldn't be reading this page for the good of my own soul. But is it possible that this is ultimately a move towards more unity in America? If I am not mistaken, it is uncanonical to have more than one Diocesan bishop in a given city. Perhaps by this decision/clarification, the Metropolitan is clearing away one possible obstruction to full unity in America? I mean, say the OCA and the Antiochian church were to agree in spirit to unity, having 2 Bishops of a given city would make things more difficult. Both Metropolitan Phillip and Metropolitan Jonah talk a lot about moving towards unity . . .
Forgive me my unlearned intrusion into such a heated topic.
#26 Anonymous on 2009-04-24 21:11
Christ is Risen and many years to you in Christ's Body. You have a wonderfully charitable take on the situation and the best possible reason I've been able to conjure in my poor little brain.
However, if that were the case, one would think Met. Philip would have simply told the other bishops the reason, there would not have been three bishops refuse to sign the statement yesterday nor the grim look on +Basil's face.
Now it is still possible for God to use the situation for good, as I'm sure He will, but the intent has nothing to do with God's will.
Lord have mercy.
#26.1 Michael Bauman on 2009-04-25 16:16
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