Friday, May 1. 2009
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Excellent --- we are no better than St John Chrysoston, nor the 50 milloin faithful who perished under Stalin and Lenin. Let us remain faithful. God is still the Lord even when those within our Church fail.
Clement of Rome wrote to the Corinthians, that thetwo Pillars of the Church (Peter and Paul) were betrayed by BRETHREN out of ENVY, RIVALRY AND JEALOUSY.
The Church remains One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church regardless of the sinners who comprise it.
O God be merciful to me THE SINNER!
#1 ANONYMOUS on 2009-05-01 08:16
The following was circulated last fall with the intent to post it before all this broke lose in February. Oh, how relevent it truely was and IS!
ANTIOCHIAN ARCHDIOCESE NOT WHAT MANY THINK
“Put not your trust in princes or sons of man, in whom there is no salvation…”
During the time of the OCA crisis there have been written and spoken comments by clergy and laity that perhaps the best solution to the OCA’s lost credibility would be to join with the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. This would unify the two jurisdictions which have the most to offer to Americans searching for the historic Apostolic Christian Church. Recently, there was a posting on OCA.ORG that the secretaries of the two jurisdictions met to discuss matters of mutual interest.
It is sad to report that common perceptions of the Antiochian Archdiocese are not based on reality.
Like the tombs, which Christ said are whitewashed on the outside, but full of corruption on the inside, so too are some of the inner workings of the AOCA, at the highest level. Much of what is visible is but a facade. Underneath is narcissism, lust of power, ethnic prejudice, contempt for America, avarice and moral decadence. Top this all off with a gross distortion and disregard for Orthodox ecclesiology. Sobering enough?
Surely, many may wonder, how can this be?
For over Forty years Metropolitan Philip has projected a very progressive image of the Antiochian Archdiocese. He has repeatedly called for Orthodox Christians to get out of our “ethnic ghettos” and unite into one Orthodox Church in North America. This message has resonated with both clergy and laity across the land. Additionally, His Eminence, has made a “poster child” of the former Evangelical Christians, who joined and have been joining the Antiochian Archdiocese over the past two decades, with the invitation, “come home America.” The Antiochian Village, an initiative of Metropolitan Philip has been a central gathering place for many Orthodox Christians over the past quarter century. Highlighted by the historic 1994 meeting of canonical Orthodox Bishops of North America, which His Eminence was one of the chief architects.
So what is wrong with all of this?
Again, it’s not real!
A few years ago, after His Eminence was brought back from near death, he talked openly about retiring. In the course of time this talk has changed into actions which demonstrate his maneuvering to hold on to power. Why the change? Because his inner circle of ethnic minded priests have encouraged him to hold on because “we need you, Saidna (i.e. Vladyka), to hold us together.” While in fact, what they need is the Metropolitan to hold on so they can continue in their positions of power, money and influence. And you thought Washington D.C. is the only place of mercenary opportunists! They openly show their contempt for America, because of our government’s Pro-Israeli political policies, while never condemning the militant Islamic governments of the Middle East. They even rush to cavort with Islamic clerical and government leaders in America and when they visit the Middle East. Yet the Metropolitan and most of his “old country” clergy have prospered greatly in this country.
But the most disturbing actions of Metropolitan Philip and his ethnarchs has been the continued undermining of the diocesan bishops. Metropolitan Philip, in seeking “self-rule” status for the archdiocese, advocated to the Holy Synod of Antioch that the existing auxiliary bishops and the proposed new bishops would be enthroned as diocesan bishops. Enthroned they were, but allowed to function as diocesan hierarchs they cannot. The Metropolitan has reserved the right of economia, determination of ordination and recently asserted his unilateral right to assign and move clergy anywhere in the archdiocese – diocesan bishops are regarded simply as surrogates. The Metropolitan and his inner circle of priests rule over the diocesan bishops – who says that we do not have a pope in the Orthodox Church!
The caveat to this is that the new archdiocese constitution, as passed at the special convention, July 2004, in Pittsburgh, has not been accepted, as is, by the patriarchate. On the patriarchal website, they have posted their version of the North American Archdiocese Constitution, which differs from that which was voted on in Pittsburgh. Hierarchs from the mother church have acknowledged that they know that there is not true diocesan order in America. In true Byzantine style, the “old country” is waiting for there to be a vacancy of the primate’s office to move in and unilaterally implement the structure they want for North America. To those who think otherwise, just witness what the patriarchate has legally been able to do within the Greek Archdiocese of America.
To make matters even more distasteful, there have been efforts over the past several years, by the “inner circle” to reinstate the retired former auxiliary bishop who pleaded guilty and was convicted of and incarcerated for a “felony for sexual assault.” Part of their agenda is to replace the “white” bishop who was installed as diocesan bishop in the place once occupied by the convicted bishop. Why would they want to do this – because the former bishop is part of the “tribe.” But the greater indignation to the “white” bishop is that the Metropolitan has allowed and defended select “tribal” clergy who have been outright disobedient and disrespectful to their diocesan hierarch. Most recently one of the “fair haired” priest’s, who has blatantly disregarded directives from his diocesan bishop, did not commemorate his diocesan bishop at the divine services and announced to his parishioners that he was instructed to omit the bishop’s name as the result of a directive from the Metropolitan.
Again, underneath is narcissism, lust of power, ethnic prejudice, contempt for America, avarice and moral decadence. Top this all off with a gross distortion and disregard for Orthodox ecclesiology.
There are many lessons to be learned from the OCA scandal, just to name a few:
1. A centralized church administration in North America is very dangerous as it breeds un-Orthodox ecclesiological order. It also supports a climate of intimidation and fear to those clergy who do not follow the “arbitrary” order of Englewood (for those who thought that Met. Herman could be vindictive, they haven’t seen how vengeful Met. Philip can be).
2. It perpetuates “the good old boy” network that works not for the greater good of Orthodoxy, but for the self-serving benefit of those at and directly connected to the top.
3. That there should be a mandatory retirement age (75) for hierarchs (because they are incapable of willfully relinquishing the trappings and power of their office).
4. That the old countries still want to control the American Church (even the OCA has been undermined during its crisis by Moscow’s acceptance of ROCOR).
5. All the above, along with a myriad of other dysfunctional destructive behaviors, has (no surprise here) MONEY at its root!
It makes one wonder if some of our hierarchy and priests really believe or simply are in it as a business.
It is sadly obvious that what once appeared to be the hope of Orthodoxy in North America – The OCA and the AOCA – have devolved into a outward show and that the rest of the jurisdictions in America are retreating to an ethnic mentality which is worse than that which existed fifty years ago.
As is evident in the OCA scandal, the only hope is for dedicated and knowledgeable lay-persons and clergy to stand up for “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8,9).
It is time for clergy and laity to distinguish between right and wrong. St. John Chrysostom wrote: "There is a gift which surpasses all others - the gift of knowing right from wrong, and the courage to choose what is right. This gift is not something which is given at birth, for which some people possess and others do not. It is like a seed sown in every human heart, and it grows only if it is nurtured through education, prayer and practice."
#2 anonymous aoca clergy on 2009-05-01 08:38
THANK YOU, clergy, for your clear and mostly free of bitterness response to the idea that many of us had last fall re the OCA scandal, i.e., that they should join us!
In regard to the "we need you to stay on, to hold us together . . ."
I have been told that after the OCA dioceses were formed there WAS disunity. Will someone give some details; and morever, whether it is inevitable. Also, what can be learned from the OCA's experience.
In regard to MPhilip's desire for Orthodox Unity on this continent, was it a godly and sincere desire on his part in 1994? When did the cause fall off his list, and why?
I especially thank you for the Philippians quotation. Let us encourage one another with words such as these.
#2.1 Anon also on 2009-05-01 17:31
You end your posting with "St. John Chrysostom wrote:
'There is a gift which surpasses all others - the gift of knowing right from wrong,...'"
Would you please share the source of the quote? It is too good not to have the exact reference!
#2.2 Another Anon on 2009-05-01 17:43
You my brother clergy are truly mistaken and need to ask repentance for these accusations you strongly state. You are an Antiochian Orthodox Priest...Act like one. How can you even serve in a parish of the archdiocese with those views. You are truly not called for the priesthood if you take as much glory to writing what you wrote about "ethnic" priests and even bringing in Islam? Do you think that certain priests from over seas do not have the right to speak against the sins of Israel for destroying and killing innocent people. There are crazies on both sides over there however.
We are all ethnic, remember that. Just because you were born here first doesn't mean you were are not ethnic.
Secondly, priests are not in it for the money, do not even say that, if it were for that I would have been a doctor or lawyer. We are blessed with what we receive from our parishes. Some in larger parishes, some in smaller parishes. Larger parishes obviously may have more than smaller. It takes certain priests for certain parishes, you should know this by now.
God bless His flock with peace OF mind!
P.S. I am not writing my name on here because I realize and have witnessed, anyone who does is unfortunately persecuted by the stone of those ready to throw them "You all"
#2.3 An Offended AOCA "Ethnic" Priest on 2009-05-07 13:17
Great letter. It asked the hard questions which the Patriarchate and other powers that be that be will continue to ignore.
I am sure the dissatisfaction though known is considered inconsequential. Consequential dissatisfaction happens only when the dollars no longer find their way to Syria.
Let's not kid ourselves. Appeals to the Patriarchate or Englewood for that matter based on either Christian principles or canonical fidelity hold absolutely no sway. They have not in times past and almost certainly will not miraculously begin now.
If you want to see a miracle in Damascus make the bribes dissappear.
#3 Kevin on 2009-05-01 09:13
It is enlightening to see a Reflection that is so closely based on our scriptural and patristic sources! The presenting here of St John Chrsysostom's words of remaining faithful during a scandal is a gift to all Orthodox in America, in the OCA, the AOCA, etc. Hopefully, it will also serve to silence those "anonymous" voices that claim that Mark and his website exist only to hurt and divide. I know of no other website venue, including the official website of the OCA, that presents encouraging thoughts as these as well as patristic writings for us to pray over during these difficult times. May we all follow the example of Fr Trenham and return to the sources of our Tradition, biblical, patristic, etc., for spiritual nourishment and encouragement!
#4 David Barrett on 2009-05-01 13:16
As usual, St. John Chrysostom's words sound like they could have been uttered yesterday. Thank you!
#5 Mickey Hodges on 2009-05-01 13:29
Encouraging words. Thank you!
#6 Anonymous on 2009-05-01 15:53
After reading this site for a couple years - on and off, I have come to the conclusion that many Orthodox Christians or rather those who consider themselves Orthodox Christians are living in some other alternate or parrallel universe which has nothing to do with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ or indeed with reality!
#7 ANON on 2009-05-04 09:16
Do you mean corrupt priests and hierarchs that make and follow rules that are convenient for those agendas including abusing money and people?
Or the folks that call a spade a spade?
Jesus rebelled against the money changers in the temple.
His is a tough act to follow, is this what you mean?
#7.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-05-04 22:08
I mean that it seems at least to me the OCA has become mostly an orginazation and a place for many people to not deal with reality while somehow feeling they are doing good, and they call it church. People seem to think that "church" , a church community protects them from the ills of society in this case our very narcissistic society when in fact without works, works of all kinds, each according to their ability and calling, each must act or it just becomes the greatest manifestation of that narcissism and one that only a narcissist can stand. Can any of us say truly that we believe in the Resurrected Christ because if only a few did this scandal would fall away like the scales on the eyes of the blind man.
#7.1.1 Anon on 2009-05-07 05:55
Thank you for sharing such an encouraging meditation with the faithful.
I have been reading many of the various articles and responses on this website for several days and find that most of what is said here steals my joy in the Lord Jesus.
This posting, "On Scanal" however, puts everything into perspective and reminds me, once again, that God is in charge.
I am joyful and grateful that my membership in the Antiochian Orthodox Church is as a part of the family of the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith". When Bishop Basil consecrated our altar (All Saints, Salina, Ks) he reminded us that our church belongs to the Holy Spirit, not to us, and the "success" of our church was up to God, and therefore, God working through us, to do His will, IF we would submit ourselves to God's will!
Let us therefore all pray that God's will be done, with all of our hearts, not assuming ahead of time what that will of God is...submitting ourselves to whatever that will of God is. Surely He knows better than we do what we should do.
Then, as each of us has the courage... act according to his convictions.
#8 Seraphima Berquist on 2009-05-06 23:08
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