Tuesday, April 28. 2009
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What will the faithful say at the upcoming Archdiocese Convention? It doesn't matter. If the past is any indication, the questioners and dissenters will simply be told to sit down [and shut up].
(Editor's note: So don't sit down if you have a point to make, and are following the rules in making it. Accept no less. There are ways, following Roberts, of making your voiceand concerns heard. Of course, if the Convention Chair does not follow Roberts, or a similiar publicly announced method of running a meeting, then what is the point of the gathering? If it is simply going to be the Party - why not just party?)
#1 Fr. Michael Molloy on 2009-04-28 19:47
We must understand that Roberts Rules or any normal procedures are not followed. Resolutions must be submitted in advance and Chancellor puppets check with their Met. first, Know that it is a vacation Convention with few real delegates. Can you imagine the credentials chrmn reporting (each time) that 98.6% of the Archdiocese is present ! ALL by PROXY with few exceptions. Each Priest carries ballots (rep. 1 vote per 100 parishioners) Although maybe only 2 0r 3 (sometimes more) are actually present, Not a real expression of bona fide delegates you can be assured. On Thurs & Fri the clergy skirmish to get parishioners present to sit at their delegate table. Expensive hotels 5 to 7 days plus $250. ticket book in July in Palm Springs. AND when we last spoke to give our thoughts we were called out of order. At least 4 to 5 clergy humiliated. It is a vacation fun trip for those who can arfford, except for the clergy paid for by the parish. A far cry from an All American Council the minutes and recording of which we have heard personally.
(editor's note: Then work to make it more conciliar. The AAC did not just " happen". A great deal of work for over a year was required - and not a little bit of blood, sweat and tears. So start now. Ask questions: will Roberts be followed? Get it in writing. Who is the parlimentarian? Volunteer to be one. What is the proper procedure for asking questions? When is the proper time for asking them, so that things may not be ruled out of order on the floor. Demand answers - and if they are not forthcoming make it known. This is not a secret society - but the Church of Christ. Let it all be done openly and in good order - and that goes for the chair as well as the delegates.)
#1.1 Anonymous Antiochian Priest & Parish Council Chairman on 2009-04-29 21:35
While I know that your suggestions are offered sincerely, you should know that Met Philip has exclaimed on more than occasion, "I AM ROBERTS RULES of ORDER!" He runs the meetings the same way he runs the Archdiocese, verbally shredding to bits anyone who challenges HIS rulings or decisions. The "approval process" of the 10% Parish Assessment comes to mind as a fine example!
Unless something were done en masse, I doubt anything would change...and maybe not even then.
(editor's note: Ask the Chancellors under what rules the meeting will be held. If they will not say "Roberts", demand that they are. If they say " the Metropolitan's rules" - why have a meeting? He can just send you a letter telling you what he demands. Then it is up to you to pay it , or not. Save your money on the hotel room. Or if you go, walk out of the meeting when he acts inappropriately. He certainly can't "discipline" 50 parishes or 50 priests! If you act like slaves, why are you shocked you are treated like such? You are co-workers in the Kingdom of God, why do you hold yourselves so cheap?)
#1.1.1 Anonymously sad about it all on 2009-04-30 07:25
Mark is right, ask the administration specifically if the meetings will follow the "Roberts" rules. If they say no, or fail to respond, or provide a noncommittal answer, or postpone the decision pending Metropolitan Phillip's "approval", then you can share their response or lack thereof with the Church at large (via ocanews.org and other Orthodox forums/venues).
I would also encourage the other Antiochian bishops (or auxiliary bishops if you agree with Antioch) to also request clarification on whether the "Roberts" rule will be used. If at least 2-3 of them also try to get that information, it will send a very strong message to the Metropolitan, to their flocks, and the Church at large. If they are ignored, admonished, or punished for daring to show courage and request accountability and conciliarity then that should also be shared with the Church membership.
Finally, let us not forget, that speaking the truth, asking for fairness and accountability from our leaders, and desiring a true conciliar meeting, is part of the Orthodox Christian tradition in practice and spirit. Placing this issue before the hierarchy and requesting they act in a Christ-like manner is part of truly loving them and giving them another chance to wake up, see the truth, understand what's at stake, and have an opportunity to act in accordance with their sacramental office and Christ's teaching:
"But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28)
#1.1.2 Chris Banescu, Esq. on 2009-04-30 14:18
No matter what MP does at this point (outside of repentance) his legacy is down the shishmee!
If he keeps pushing the issue and punishes anyone (other than his friends), his work of the last 40 years will quickly go down the shishmee too!
If he truly repented and apologized I sincerely believe many would forgive him (If there were actual fruits in keeping with repentance) If Mannasseh could be forgiven, even MP can be. If David the prophet and King could be, even MP can be. If Mary of Egypt could be, then even MP.
The same may even be said for his conspiring friends. Trust has been broken. There would have to be a major change of perspective, i.e., conversion to their own faith, perhaps. Anything is possible. St Paul was able and repented! Esau and Judas could not!
#1.2 anonymous on 2009-04-30 21:23
God bless Bp Alexander for affixing the right words in place of his signature. God bless Bps Basil and Mark for having a spine supported by the Spirit and the teachings of the Church. Lord have mercy on the rest of them.
But now what??? The Board of Trustees meets in another month or so. Where are they in all this? Leading the laity in confronting the wrong-headed, probably unConstitutional, potentially illegal, theologically pitiful, and sinful mess? Or practicing their "Yes, Sayedna. Whatever you say, Sayedna"?
There is an opportunity for the Archdiocese to really function as Church the way we claim in theory in resolving this...but somehow, I just don't see that happening. We need to pray a lot more fervently this Pentecost for the grace of the Spirit of Truth!
#2 Anonymous for a reason on 2009-04-28 20:34
You write with such clarity. You see right through the ruse of MP. He demands obedience to the AOCA Constitution, the Holy Synod and the Patriarch, but ccually means loyalty to himself.
He openly demands a type of obedience he himself has never demonstrated, so that the threat of consequences will coerce them to agree to that which is *a betrayal of their own oaths*. Are you confused yet? Apparently, +Jospeh, +Antoun and +Thomas were.
How can +Basil, +Alexander and +Mark be deposed, suspended or disciplined for seeking clarification of or the complete reversal of an un-canonical decision?
I am sure +MP will make some cash advances towards that end --- watch you wallet.
*You shall knoiw the TRUTH and the TRUTH shall set you FREE*. In this instance the truth makes me absolutely sick.
*Please MP resign so the Church may leave this chapter behind and move on to the work of the Church*. Enough already!
Ask Met. Herman how this ends. Do you really want to completely destroy all that you labored for all these years?
#3 anonymous on 2009-04-28 20:46
Yes, there is hypocrisy here on the part of Metropolitan Philip. It seems that everything is about him, not canonical obedience. Quite the legacy he's leaving.
#4 Phileas on 2009-04-28 21:19
When will Met. Philip and the few that cultishly and emotionally defend him admit the obvious -- his actions CANNOT be justified no matter how much spin and propaganda is put out by antiochian.org.
I feel like I'm in the Soviet Union! If this is accepted by the faithful it is a sad testimony to the utter ignorance of many as to Orthodox ecclesiology, the extreme naivete' of others in regard to their complete "trust" of Met. Philip, or worse, the strategic compliance with deception and the "father of lies" of others.
Perhaps if the lie is repeated enough (on the website and elsewhere) we will all be lulled to sleep.
Lord have mercy!
#5 Anonymous on 2009-04-28 21:35
There may be ignorance on the part of those who are less involved and do not understand true Orthodox Ecclesiology. MP is the only Bishop the old ones ever knew.
WE NEED SOME GOOD ARTICLES SUBMITTED CLARIFYING FOR THE PEOPLE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN AUXILIARY SYSTEM AND A TRUE IOCESAN SYSTEM.
For those more involved (Most Especilally those who presume to teac in the House of Studies) it is a rejection of TRUE ORTHODOX ECCLESSIOLOGY. *Why personal LOYALTY to MP*? *Or PERSONAL GAIN*? Pehaps BOTH!
It then is not about the Church it is about their POWER and THEIR Wallet. They want to keep things as they were so that they can secure their power and cover their corruption.
May Goid forgive.
#5.1 anonymous on 2009-05-01 08:26
I have been visiting your blog from time to time. I appreciate the documented facts you can impart. It is good to be informed. Accurate information is necessary for making good decisions.
However, I have noticed that your style of reporting tends to the sensational; you editorialize as you go along. That disturbs me. In fact, it reminds me of the mainstream media, which often doesn't seem overly concerned with documenting its assertions. Perhaps that is just the way blogs are. But, it isn't a good way of establishing 'facts'.
I especially don't like the cynical way in which you attribute motives to some hierarchs and priests. You use terms like "spin" and you make claims about events which you have not attended. You often don't cite your sources. That's why others have written here that you seem to be into rumormongering.
You choose a group of clergy to champion--those who write anonymously--and you defend their hiding by claiming that they could lose their careers and would have no work if their identities were known. Most priests have higher education. They could get different jobs if they were expelled from the priesthood for speaking out on church issues. It's true, they might not like a different job, and they might lose insurance coverage and other monetary perquisites. But, it's not likely that they wouldn't find work. It's not likely that they would be living on the streets. We are all called to defend the faith from within and from without. That has been done by many in other lands at great personal cost. By comparison, in this country (US) most have suffered very little over defending the faith.
When a person uses his own name, it tends to make him carefully consider what he writes. It can also help rein in the glittering generalities, high blown and undocumented accusations, overt hostility, and hearsay. I want openness and truth. I want original documents or photocopies of same. I want first hand sources. I don't want what someone claims someone else saw or heard or wrote or did. I don't want your amateur analysis of what someone's body language was 'saying' in a photograph taken of people at a meeting at which you were not in attendance. That is meaningless speculation.
Perhaps I've missed the point of a blog. I don't know. But, you appear to be serious about what you include on your blog, and your sidebar lists several important personages in the American Orthodox world who have the respect of many. Therefore, your blog has at least the appearance of wanting to be taken seriously. If that is so, then I urge you to drop the sensationalizing comments, the undocumented accusations, the endless speculation on people's motives. You don't know their hearts. Only God does, and He doesn't always reveal that to the rest of us. At least separate your editorial comments from regular reports, so that readers can make a distinction.
One other thing that strikes me about the anonymous writings is that you like to allude to the political machinations that go on behind the scenes between hierarchs and other clergy, yet, the political machinations of anonymous writers doesn't seem to disturb you. Maybe that is your blind spot.
(Editor's note: Thanks for the comparison to the mainstream media. I'll take it as a compliment. Using unattributed sources is a standard journalistic technique, and a requirement in circumstances like these where jobs and careers are at risk. And like mainstream journalists, I always have two sources for stories, where two can exist. As for "rumourmongering", show me one rumour. I have been reporting on the Orthodox church for almost four years and no one has yet to cite me an instance where I was incorrect in the facts I stated. (Well, I got a date wrong once, but nothing major.) As for looking into people's hearts, we are called to do that everyday when we make decisions about what to buy, who to do business with, who to trust to leave our children with, and a host of other decisions. To say "Only God knows" is to abdicate responsibility to make moral choices and decisions in difficult circumstances. So in general, we disagree about this. But more specficially, just because I have not written more about why I make the judgements I do, does not mean I am not privy to facts the average reader may not yet be. Its called "background", and often may not be revealed so as not to reveal my sources. This is not a court a law - but an attempt , in words, to convey and seek out meaning in events in which we participate. If "objectivity" means dispassion and standing apart for the events one writes about, then it is not going to happen here. It is only because one is passionate about these events that one evens bothers to cover them. Consider the mainstream media: not one has mentioned these events - because no one cares there. Surprisingly, this includes so many of the AOCA members in the media themselves.... So, that in a few words, and poor ones at that, is an attempt to briefly answer your concerns. Hope it helps.)
#6 Darlene Johnson on 2009-04-29 01:33
How simple to think that after years of parish life thatn one can head for another vocation? Would you and your like minded pay for such a move? And in this economy no less? We know of the Priest from Ft Wayne for even though it was determined that he was "out" was denied what his parish council wanted to give him and family (severance and health benefits). A secular Judge ruled against the holding of these earned funds and Met P. excommunicated the Priest and his wife for daring to defy the Met, What a shame and someone emailed that he was not "vindictive?"
#6.1 Anonymous Priest & Khourie on 2009-04-29 21:10
Just stop being a priest and get another job? That isn't how it works Darlene. I cannot spend the time here to explain to you the Priesthood. You need to ponder some things in your heart.
At this point I think clergy and laity alike need to go to the Palm Springs meeting (not as a vacation) and speak out without fear. If we lose our "jobs" then so be it. God will provide.
#6.2 anon clergy wife on 2009-05-02 19:58
It's pretty clear on what's going on here. + Basil and + Mark have become very popular bishops. + Philip wants to assure who his predecessor will be - an old country crony - + Joseph. When the Pat. of Damascus visited the US in Nov. 2008, + Philip put all the wheels in motion for demoting the diocese bishops. So now, this mess.
The Antiochian Board of Trustees needs to rise up and take control. + Basil, a faithful son of Arab ancestry from PA, is truly the BEST choice to replace + Philip. Yet, + Philip is insisting on an old country crony. What's wrong with this picture?
If + Philip is allowed his way, the Antiochians & American church will lose the BEST product of American Orthodoxy in the last 50 years!
It's time for + Philip to retire and time to throw off the control of ANY foreign bishops!
#7 Anonymous on 2009-04-29 06:28
Everone (with a few exceptions from the MidWest) would want Bishop Basil to be the new Metropolitan! Should have happened ten years ago. Feigning illness Met P can travel all Lent each year to his mansion in Florida. Commn knowledge and few visitations there either on good authority the clergy of Florida. And constantly choosing what observances he will make to best benefit him and his life "schedule". That was the real reason for the Bishops/Diocese but when some became too powerful (observing ORTHODOX waysI the change had to come. Too bad the 3 who did'nt sign are tyhe best and just ask their people.
#7.1 Anonymous Clergyman on 2009-04-29 21:20
Whereas, we are whereassing how about a whereas for the self demoted Metropolitan Philip who just affirmed by signature his own "Normalization" to an auxilliary?
Afterall this Resolution states (And he affirmed) that "All Bishops" across the entire See of Antioch are "Normalized" I assume he still considered himself a bishop?
Though I love and appreciate the Orwellian News Speak employed by our Metropolitan I'd suggest the next forced confession he attempts to have signed by his reluctant underlings be a little better thought out.
Hey it would also be great if the actual signee's of the Resolution would go on video and nervously read a rambling confession as they anxiously fidget and glance at his Eminence off camera.
#8 Kevin on 2009-04-29 07:15
Mark, I have to say that it is your "spin" on the situation that is misleading and false. Bishop Alexander's comments are precisely true in that what he says is that even though he doesnt like the decision of the synod, it is already in effect and doesnt require a signature. It doesnt mean that he is not obeying the decision. He regards the decision as "in effect" and recognizes that he is an auxilliary bishop.
As far as your comments suggest that met philip cannot send this to the patriarchate as "proof" of disobedience, you are wrong. Bishops Basil and Mark do not sign the resolution affirming their obedience. That is proof of thier unwillingness to affirm their obedience to what is written in the resolution. You dont have to agree with the decision to obey it.
You try to make the case that Bishop Alexander does not obey the resoultion. He already regards it as in effect and knows that whether or not he agrees, it is done. In fact, he is also smart to recognize that there is really no need for any vote on the matter. Your analysis that this is a 4-3 vote or a 3-3 tie means nothing. Bishop Alexander by not signing points out that there is no need for any Archdiocesan synod and that whatever decision comes from the patriarchate is now binding. I happen to fully support the resolution. It is quite sad that you will find Bishop's Basil and Mark removed from the witchita and the midwest for their lack of obedience. Dont be fooled into thinking that they arent going anywhere. Metropolitan Philip now has the authority to tell his auxilliaries that this is his archdiocese and you can either help in administration or go back to your patriarch for re-assignment in another archdiocese. What a shame. It is Bishop Basils bruised ego that lead this into turmoil as we all know tht Bishop Mark is nothing but a shadow and puppet for Bishop Basil....it is sad.
(editor's note: Thanks for the heads up. We shall see how this unfolds!)
#9 Anonymous on 2009-04-29 07:45
Many of us reading your statement cannot DISAGREE more. Perhaps your email was written by Englewood? Fear is stil the component here and thus the many "Anonymous"! .... My friend was RIGHT ON when he saw Bp Joseph studying for his Amer. citizenship papers. How naive can we be?
#9.1 Anonymous Antiochian Priest on 2009-04-29 13:29
This is truly one of the funnier posts I've seen here-- accusations that Bishop Basil has an ego and that Bishop Mark is Bishop Basil's puppet? Anyone who has met either man will need to go to the hospital to recover from a laughing fit brought on by this one.
Anonymous-- A tip-- If you're going to make false accusations, at least TRY to make the believable.
#9.2 Silouan James on 2009-04-29 16:23
Except it's not Met. Philip's diocese, either, unless there's a clause in invisible ink exempting him from the category of all bishops, as pointed out by Kevin upthread. It appears as if the Antiochian faithful in America have but one synod of bishops with whom to deal, in Damascus. So much for "self-rule," and it now is clear that the only jurisdiction in the New World not enthralled to Old Country bishops is the OCA.
#9.3 Scott Walker on 2009-04-29 16:45
The term "bishop" is being used in the context of the Patriarchate's Bylaws (which are available via www.orthodoxattorneys.org). Those Bylaws provide for only three types of bishops-- the Patriarch, Metropolitans, and "bishops." These are distinct categories in the Bylaws which, although they don't use precise canonical language, must be understood. By "bishop," the Bylaws mean to refer to the uncanonical category of "Auxiliary Bishop"-- a celibate archpriest with a crown on his head and some additional authority delegated to him by the real bishop. The Bylaws were never amended to provide for a category of REAL bishops who are neither Metropolitans nor the Patriarch himself (as required by the Patriarchate's own resolution with respect to self-rule-- probably because +Philip was entrenched in disobedience with respect to the Pittsburg Constitution). Further, despite +Philip's false claim (see his response to the DOWAMA Presbyter's council) that diocesan bishops existed outside the Archdiocese prior to February of this year, the only REAL bishops who were not Metropolitans or the Patriarch were our own Diocesan Bishops.
Given this analysis of the language of the Bylaws, any claim that the Bylaws Amendment was aimed at "normalizing" the status of all bishops throughout the Patriarchate must be seen as only "normalizing" (whatever that means) the status of all existing Auxiliary Bishops. Given that neither the Patriarchal Bylaws nor Constitution were amended to reflect the existence of REAL bishops who were not Metropolitans or the Patriarch but the ecclesial reality that was effected upon their consecration and/or enthronement, the Bylaws Amendment technically never affected our Diocesan Bishops-- even if the intent of the Holy Synod (which we don't know) was otherwise. The issue with respect to Auxiliary Bishops was legitimate-- that (accepting, for the moment, their existence) the Auxiliary Bishops all had the Patriarch, himself, as their point of reference for authority; it makes much more sense if the Auxiliaries take as a point of reference the bishop whose instrument they are. If the Holy Synod wants to extract itself from the situation without any damage, it has simply to point out that the Bylaws Amendment didn't have any effect on the North American diocesan bishops and walk away from Metropolitan Philip's claims.
Furthermore, the way the Holy Synod amended its Bylaws was extremely haphazard (check out the Bylaws and see the sections claimed to be replaced by the Amendments), further supporting the many strong rumors circulating that the drafting was done here in America by someone unfamiliar with the actual text of the Patriarchate's Bylaws. If this was Metropolitan Philip or done at his behest, as many suggest and is quite likely, he would be in direct violation of taking action in violation of Apostolic Canon 34. But then again, when we have a Metropolitan who said "Canons, schmanons" and foreswore his own oaths when faced with the Joe Allen situation, I guess we can't expect him to remain obedient to his oaths when his own power is threatened by bishops who actually take their oaths and their resulting obedience seriously.
#9.3.1 Silouan James on 2009-04-30 10:41
What convoluted logic!
Will ALL the Metropolitans of the Holy Synod also be forced to sign-off on this un-canonical decision or be disciplined? No!
All Bishops have the right of appeal based on the Holy Canons.
All the members of the Holy Synod took a VOW or OATH to uphold the Holy Canons of the Church. No Bishop may be removed from his iocese without DUE PROCESS. There must be some Canonical INFRACTION and he must be tried by his peers.
Secondly, if there are no reasons for a spiritual court a Bishop MAY ONLY BE REMOVED OR DEMOTED WITH HIS OWN CONSENT. (Try to keep up. There is ORDER IN THE CHURCH) This is precisely what +BB, +BA and +BM did not do. They did not consent and there are no charges against them. They CANNOT be disciplined for not accepting the decision that VIOLATES THE OATH THAT EVERY BISHOP CONFESSES, INCLUDING THE ONES WHO SIGNED THE UN-CANONICAL DECISION OF FEBRUARY 24.
Has MP worship taken such hold that we ignore the fact that we completely ignore the OATHS the Bishops take:
1. Recite the Creed -- The Symbol of our Faith
(MP and friends maintain that we are IN 90% agreement with Islam on the Faith. The Creed must be confessed prior to Baptism and Communion. How can certain priests Commune Muslims who were never Baptized? Not to mention instructing and teaching othr clergy to do so as well.)
2. I accept the Decisions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils which were convened for the protection and safeguarding of all Orthodox Dogmas of the Church.
(MP and his buddies constantly MOCK, DERIDE and thumb their nose at the HOLY Canons of the Holy Church, WHICH PROVIDE FOR PROPER ORDER. An Order MP does not like as it limits his thirst for power.)
3. I confess, accept and PROTECT ALL OF THE CANONS which have been promulgated and decided upon, and all the protocol which the Holy Fathers have formulated in different places and times. I accept all that they accepted and reject all that they have rejected.
(As opposed to MP, HIS NEWEST AUXILIARIES and some members of the Holy Synod, who have adopted the CAFETERIA APPROACH to Orthodoxy)
4. I COMMIT MYSELF TO THE PRESERVATION OF THE PEACE OF THE CHURCH AND FOR THE REMAINDER OF MY LIFE I WILL NEVER TEACH ANYTHING WHICH CONTRADICTS THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH IN ANY WAY.
(MP openly states Orthodoxy and Islam are in 90% agreement on the faith. How is the first clause of the Creed 90% of the faith? Perhaps the 10% he thinks we disagree on is beards, cassocks, sandals and hair? Islam does not believe in the Divity of Christ, His Crucifixion or Resurrection. They deny the Divinity of the Holy Spirit as well. Perhaps MP should be brought before a Spiritual Court on charges of heresy!)
5. I promise that I will in all things, follow and always obey the Most Blessed Patriarch of Antioch the Great City of God and all the East and fully preserve the privileges belonging to the Holy Patriarchal and Apostolic See of Antioch for the remainder of my life.
(MP cannot stand Patriarch GNATIUS IV. He never misses an opportunity to deman the Patriarch. He has thumbed his nose at the His Beatitude for years as well as the Holy Synod. Don't you read. Look at the numerous articles in the WORD Magazine where he threatened the Patriarch with breaking away if he did not get self-rule. HE BOASTS OF HIS CHALLENGES TO THE PATRIARCH)
MP is the last person on the PLANET that should challenge his BROTHER HIERARCHS regarding the issue of OBEDIENCE.
Antioch has also been known as the seedbed of heresy. Just because a Patriarch of the Holy See teaches something doe not make it so. There have been Patriarchs deposed. There have been Synods who erred. Do not forget Maximos the Confessor and his suffering at the corrupt hands of those who weilded POWER.
Iconoclasm lasted for more than a century. It seemed the whole Church had goone into heresy. Many Saints were not VINDICATED until after their Death. St John Chrysostom was exiled three times and died in exile.
A Bishop's relationship to the Metropolitan is comparable CANONICALLY to the relationship of a Metropolitan to the Patriarch. So far I have seen no Bishop in this Country treat MP the way he treats Patriarch IGNATIUS. PERHAPS THEY SHOULD!
Better to be disciplined by heretics than to be in communion with them.
Let us pray that the Holy Synod realizes MP has lost his (marbles) mental faculties and needs to retire before there is no Archdiocese left. (;-)
#9.4 anonymous on 2009-04-29 17:03
According to the April 24, 2009 Resolution approved by some of the hierarchs of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (AOCA), the February 24, 2009 decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch “normalized the status of all bishops across the entire See of Antioch to be that of Auxiliary Bishops.”
I can't believe anyone would sign this document without clarification. According to the English text presented on the website of the AOCA, the Holy Synod of Antioch demoted the Patriarch and all Metropolitans to the rank of Auxiliary Bishops along with all simple (diocesan) Bishops. There is no sacerdotal rank in the episcopacy other than Bishop, though the various dioceses rank in order from that ruled by the Patriarch down.
In effect, this Resolution states that the AOCA believes the Holy Synod of Antioch has demoted all its members thus leaving no ruling hierarchs in the entire Patriarchate - they are all now 'Auxiliary Bishops'.
This could perhaps result in the Patriarchate of Antioch being 'assumed' by another Patriarchate due to its having lost all of its ruling bishops. Constantinople? Jerusalem? A similar situation would have faced the OCA were its entire Synod have resigned en masse: the parishes of the OCA would have then reverted to the canonical jurisdiction of Moscow, which gave the OCA its autocephaly.
From a certain canonical perspective, signing a Resolution with such seemingly improper language could be construed as 'sedition' against the Holy Synod of Antioch: a proclamation of its demise and non-existence as a Body gathered around its bishop (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch) - even a single bishop.
I'm sure this is not what Metropolitan Philip, their Graces Antoun, Joseph and Thomas, or the Holy Synod of Antioch understand the February 24, 2009 Decision to say, but this is what the April 24, 2009 Resolution was asking the bishops of the AOCA to affirm. In fact, the Metropolitan and three bishops of the AOCA affirmed that there are currently no ruling bishops of any rank in the Patriarchate of Antioch by signing this particular document.
Perhaps a quorum of the Holy Synod of Antioch can clarify its intent based on the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church, or a request can be made to the Ecumenical Patriarch to clarify the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church vis a vis the sacerdotal role of Bishop, and the responsibilities of bishoprics, metropolitanates and patriarchates and the bishops that rule those dioceses.
Yes, the issue of quorum is important. Since there was not one, it seems, the decision is null and void. Signing the letter makes no sense if there was no binding decision. Even with a quorum, one still has the problem of the fact that the Antiochian synod declared version of the constitution to be in effect and order. How can that now be rescinded?
This whole situation only makes sense if you start asking how it plays for +Philip. Then, the pieces fall in place.
#10.1 Phileas on 2009-04-30 10:50
Mr. Stokoe -
Just to note your link to the letter from the Patriarch to +Metropolitan Philip is broken.
Second, you seem to question whether +Joseph was ever a diocesan Bishop (although perhaps I misunderstand - the paragraph is difficult to read).
I think there is no question of that, based on the Archdiocese's own press releases and the +Metropolitan's actions and publicized words, still extant on the Archdiocesan website.
#11 Eric John on 2009-04-29 10:59
I think I might make a color copy of the signature page and frame it.
I don't know when I've been as proud of a Bishop as I am of mine at this moment.
A loving father, AND willing to speak the truth to power to protect his own.
Thanks be to God!
#12 anonymous on 2009-04-29 12:36
Mark, the broken link should be:
The link in your article has a closed parenthesis at the end.
#13 Jimmy the Greek on 2009-04-29 13:32
"I bow in reverence before the age old achievements of the Great
Church of Constantinople,
and before her present cross which is neither small nor easy,
which according to the nature
of things, is the cross of the entire Church- for, as the
Apostle says, "When one member
suffers, the whole body suffers." Moreover, I acknowledge the
canonical rank and first place
in honor of Constantinople among the local Orthodox Churches,
which are equal in honor
Archimandrite Justin Popovich
#14 no name on 2009-04-29 17:24
"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others" George Orwell, "Animal Farm."
There has been no Byzantine Empire since 1453. Why, o why is it necessary to pretend that 656 years of history NEVER HAPPENED? Constantinople is gone. Could we please get over it? May God help and protect the struggling Church in Turkey, but it's a Church, a very small Church, in Istanbul, not Constantinople, and the Patriarch thereof is completely irrelevant to my life as an Orthodox Christian.
#14.1 Scott Walker on 2009-04-30 16:16
If anyone thinks there is a mess now wait to see what chaos results if +Basil is touched in any way. Barring his direct intervention to the contrary, mass defections would occur, large amounts of money would no longer be sent to Englewood and loud cries for the deposition of Met. Philip would be raised.
+Basil holds the real power precisely because he is a real bishop not some wolf in sheep's clothing. He is loved simply because he loves us first and more completely than anyone else I have ever known. Whenever I see him, I, stubborn, stiff-necked American that I am want to throw myself down at his feet.
He did not seek the office, he did not wish to be a bishop. He has been obedient from the moment of his election which he could have refused.
To quote the heartfelt sentiments of another SCOBA hierarch I know: +Basil should be the Metropolitan!!!!!
If Antioch or Met. Philip discipline +Basil, the AOCA will fall apart.
#15 Michael Bauman on 2009-04-29 17:33
I have maybe spent 5 hours in my entire life with Bishop +Basil outside a liturgy, with maybe 30 minutes alone with him. And yet, everytime he sees me, he asks me how I am doing, about my children by name, about my beloved wife, by name.
He is one of the most Godly men I have ever met. And I've met a lot of priests, both good and bad. But I've only met two men in my entire life I would jump in front of a bullet for. Bishop +Basil is one. He is a true shepherd who like his Master, knows his sheep. Metropolitan +Philip, not so much.
First, I would like to state that I am not a fan of +Philip. In my opinion he has brought much harm to the Church. However, he has brought much good to it also. May God remember him for the latter.
This whole situation is a tragedy. I believe it’s not just +Philip who is bringing havoc to the Church, but the Patriarch who is supporting him. There is a shameful and great power play going on which is hurting those of us who love the Orthodox Church. But let us not forget who the real enemy is; that is, the devil. Does one think that it is healthy for the Church to have a power “showdown?” No, it is harmful. Please, my brothers and sisters, let us fall on our knees and beseech God’s great and abundant mercy. Only He can truly bring justice and the right resolution.
I believe that +Philip, the Patriarch, and the Synod of Antioch are being demonically attacked. Let us all join in this battle by praying for all who are under siege. Let us not forget to include ourselves in these prayers. We are also being attacked! Prayer, though it may sound so simplistic, has great power and perhaps, just perhaps, can bring some of the key players (i.e. +Philip) to see their errors.
I am defending +Philip only in brotherly love as one who sees him as being lead astray. It is our Christian duty to pray for him. In no way can I defend +Philip in anything else concerning this crisis. He is wrong, dead wrong!
This is an extremely important issue and emotions are high, including mine. When the pages of history are written some may wonder how it was to live through all of this. I can assure them that it wasn’t a picnic. It is horrible, simply horrible. Nevertheless, please once again join me in turning to our True Leader, Christ our King. Let us pray that he brings a swift victory over our adversaries. Let all of us ask Him in great humility, “Lord, have mercy!”
#16 A broken-hearted brother on 2009-04-29 20:23
Mark is right people. Time to stop being intimidated and stand up for whats right. Time for me to stop using a psuedonym. When the moment is right......
#17 Antionymous on 2009-04-30 10:09
When is the Spring mtg of the Holy Synod of Antioch? Maybe we can all go over there instead of Palm Springs....
#18 Makarios on 2009-04-30 10:57
I vividly recall being in the parish hall (basement) of St. John the Evangelist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, listening to His Grace, Bishop BASIL, address the faithful. He was asked about our relationship with Islam. I will never forget his answer:
We love them as Icons of the Holy Trinity. But never, ever say we worship the same God. Our God has three persons - Father, Son and Spirit. Their god does not. Therefore, we cannot, ever, claim to worship the same God without committing a heresy.
I recall the first time I ever saw Bishop BASIL. He spoke at the same parish above in 1994 on the relationship between the faithful and the Theotokos. For this Baptist child sitting for the second time in an Orthodox Church, it was enrapturing.
He is a true shepherd, a devoted follower of THE True Shepherd, and his flock will know his voice and follow him.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#19 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-04-30 11:43
Several thoughts . . .
MPhilip, among the hierarchs of SCOBA, has been the leading proponent of Orthodox unity on this continent, citing, along with many hierarchs and theologians, the uncanonical status of overlapping jurisdictions.
Many, if not all, of the AOCA Board of Trustees, and many of the clergy and faithful also want Orthodox Unity. It was my impression that we could not negotiate (under canons) unity with our sister jurisdictions unless we were a Synod comprised of Diocesan Bishops.
(Am I correct on this?)
Hence, the Board, clergy and faithful, supported MPhilip four years ago when he confronted Antioch to gain self-rule for the AOCA, and subsequently did the same to gain Diocesan Bishops. We supported him because the arguments for unity were substantive and the cause was worthy despite questions, for some of us, regarding the steps involved. He was passionate, adamant, and strong-willed.
One cannot help but admire all that Metropolitan Philip has accomplished for the Archdiocese, the Patriarchate, and Orthodox Unity. Now he is reversing his greatest accomplishment, the self-rule that may have been a step toward unity on the continent.
One prays that he will revisit this decision, and his motives, daily as he gazes on the icon of Christ.
To #2 . . .
You who wondered what where the Board was in all this, and whether their upcoming meeting would be a “Yes, Sayidna,” exercise . . . , I would answer that you should lose your sarcasm. I know many of the Board members and can say they are serious about their faith, generous and imparted with a sense of duty towards all of us in the Archdiocese. If the typical meeting has a “Yes, Metropolitan Philip,” theme, it is more often than not because of the respect they have for all he has accomplished. Also because he is nothing if not formidable.
The June meeting cannot possibly be “typical.” I can only imagine the shock and sense of betrayal of the Board of Trustees, many of whom invested themselves personally in this great cause. In addition, the Board members are now, and for the last four years, also members of a diocese. The meeting can be no less than agonizing.
To those who berate the bishops who signed . . .
You do not know them.
Finally, unity is of the Spirit. Let us gather and unite in prayer that the Spirit may give us wisdom.
#20 Anonymous also on 2009-04-30 13:14
Anonymous, your wrote
"If the typical meeting has a “Yes, Metropolitan Philip,” theme, it is more often than not because of the respect they have for all he has accomplished. Also because he is nothing if not formidable."
It is quite one thing for these truly dedicated, generous Trustees to say "Yes, Sayedna" to good ideas. That is not the issue, nor do most us question their goodness in serving the Church. However, it is quite another thing for them to roll over when Met Philip proposes or engages in things that are not good, not holy, not worthy of a shepherd toward his flock, and potentially not legal under Church or civil law. When was the last time they were able to stop anything that +Philip tried to do that was NOT worthy of a blessing? As you yourself admit, "he is nothing if not formidable." But that is not an acceptable excuse for inaction. When need be, it is their responsibility to protect the Archdiocese from wrongful actions, even by Met. Philip. This is one of those times.
#20.1 Another Anon on 2009-04-30 20:31
The Palaeologus Dynasty, the last ruling family of the Byzantine Empire, had as its coat-of-arms, four gold B's and a cross on a field of scarlet that stood for the motto "King of Kings, Ruling Over Rulers " (Βασιλεύς Βασιλέων, Βασιλεύων Βασιλευόντων ) as a reminder of Who was really in charge...it seems some Church leaders have forgotten this?
Moses the Tlingit
#21 Moses on 2009-04-30 16:55
I have been told from an impeccable source that at the April 24 meeting Met.+Philip in reply to a question from one of the bishop's said that it is alright for them to again be commemorated by name in the liturgical services. However nothing has been released in writing to authorize this change - retreat - compromise - bone toss - gesture of good will - deception attempt - Byzantine dance - maneuver to dissipate the storm clouds - heat escape - prelude to reversal - attempt to appease - desperate to save soiled image………….
#22 Anonymous on 2009-04-30 17:24
If this new polity of MP's should to be received by the Church of Antioch, Antioch would be no better and no different from Rome … another sect that rejects the fullness of the apostolic and catholic Church. Our ecclesiology is not somehow separable from our essence. Furthermore, MP's unwillingness to be straight and observe the law of non-contradiction in logic in his reply to the 15 points demonstrates either a fundamental inability to rightly divide the word of truth else the influence of a darker spirit, upon which I will not speculate. Always before, I was proud of Antiochian Orthodoxy regardless of failures here and there. Now, I am ashamed in part … although I am proud of Bishop Basil and Bishop Mark.
The Church has no competence qua Church to unbaptize people or baptize chipmunks - to celebrate a liturgy of divorce - to turn diocesan bishops into auxillaries. Such things are not only uncanonical but they blink at sacramental reality. Do you suppose that MP has the power to declare all existing married deacons and priests suddenly celibate? NO, it is beyond his competence. It is beyond the competence of the Church to unmarry and beyond Her competence to unmake diocesan bishops. We may allow divorce and we may have canons for deposing with cause but this is something else.
Since MP's purported action in demoting diocesan bishops to be his auxillaries is beyond his competency and that of the Church's (regardless of whether we churchmen have fallen short in this way at some point in history ... for violation of the spirit and letter of canon only establishes precedent for human shortcoming ... not a new order of reality), I must disagree with any who say that whether we agree or disagree, matters now stand as MP says they stand. He is not the LORD such that his word is fiat for Creation. MP's will on the demotion is a fiction. I and all who understand this are duty bound to our Lord and to the Church to refuse to accept this purported action. MP is "out of order" and his confusion is a clear sign that it is time for him to step down.
Let us be clear. The purported demotion of diocesan bishops would change the ecclesiology of the Orthodox Church. I do not receive this teaching. It is error.
#23 Monologistos on 2009-05-01 16:00
You are absolutely correct. *The meeting on Bright Friday was a ruse of MP to to get the DIOCESAN BISHOPS to agree to a DEMOTION as the CANONS require*.
Since three did NOT. We now have THREE DIOCESAN BISHOPS and THREE AUXILIARIES. Since we still have a SYNOD MP now has THREE DIOCESAN BISHOPS who are not easily intimidated or DUPED to CONTEND WITH and three auxiliaries.
The Holy Synod will begin to see that MP continues to MANIPULATE CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE HOLY SYNOD and.....TO DISTORT THEIR DECISIONS. Hopefully, they will also see his manipulations have created chaos in North America.
Though we are grateful for all he has done his days have come to and end. His is no longer capable to lead this Archdiocese.
Hopefully they will realize it is time for change. Either MP GOES or ALL THE NA BISHOPS BECOME METROPOLITANS and MEMBERS OF THE HOLY SYNOD AS WELL. He who cannot follow cannot lead.
MP cannot follow the Canons, the Scripture or the Holy Synod, therefore he cannot lead.
WE MUST INSIST THAT +BB, +BM AND +BA GO TO THE HOLY SYNOD MEETING THIS MONTH TO REPRESENT OUR Archdiocese as MP only represents his own _interests...
#23.1 anonymous on 2009-05-03 22:24
Indeed, MP has lost the deepest authority, that which is given freely by the heart. It cannot be easily regained. His only option, should he not wish to work openly against Mother Church and the Holy Spirit, is to allow the true authority of a metropolitan to be once again taken up by another. Indeed, the Patriarch must act immediately if he is to prevent further severance of heartstrings between Antioch and North America. Also, it is time that Antioch "regularized" its own practices. "Open Communion" is more a sign of Sodom and Gomorrah than Orthodoxy.
#24 Monologistos on 2009-05-04 18:13
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