Monday, May 4. 2009
From five perspectives, on bishops, or financial accountability. Your comments are welcome. And one final, new request. Less Arabic, please. It's fun to learn new words, but what's a mughnoon and mughnoonie?
( although I can guess...)
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I know that this question isn’t directly related to the article, but can someone tell me why do we capitalize all of the letters of the bishop’s name? Such as Met. PHILIP, Bp. JOSEPH, etc. Yet, at the same time we do not put in all caps the Master whom they presumably serve, that is JESUS. “Jesus” only gets His first letter capitalized. So do the great apostles and saints. We don’t write St. PETER or St. PAUL. Are our present day hierarchs greater than the apostles or even our Great Shepard Himself, Jesus Christ? I am not trying to be sarcastic at all and I do ask this question with complete sincerity. At what point in history did the Orthodox Church begin to capitalize all of the letters in the hierarchs’ name?
(editor's note: This is an affectation that began to be widespread in Europe thirty years ago, that has spread in the USA, largely as a marketing gimmick among non-profits as a way of drawing attention to their names in print. I do not use it at OCAnews.org, but many posters do. It is a bad habit, for precisely the reasons you describe. )
#1 Anonymous on 2009-05-04 19:48
Thank you, Mark, for the information. I did not realize how new this practice was! I have always felt uncomfortable with the usage of all caps for the hierarchs. First, it appears to give the hierarch more honor than Christ Himself; and second, it can lead the hierarch into vainglory and arrogance by seeing his name in all caps. I don’t think it’s a spiritually healthy practice at all.
#1.1 Anonymous on 2009-05-05 11:18
As I recall, the custom of printing the names of nobles and royals in all caps (pay attention, All Caps Guy!) was originally instituted by Maria Teresa, Empress of Austria-Hungary.
Prior to the invention of movable type, and -- to a certain extent, even somewhat later (witness the 'original' copies of the 1776 american Declaration of Independence, written all in black) -- all royal documents were engrossed by hand, and the scribes wrote the names of the royals in red ink, thus distinguishing them from all the words around them written in black.
The earliest production of mass-printed documents could not accommodate earlier conventions such as the hand-embellished capitals of Gutenberg's bibles, and so relied on full capitalization of the monarch's NAME to call attention to it, since it was not an option at that time to print broadsides in more than one color
That technical difficulty was overcome rapidly, but the capitalization of royal names perdured.
Now, we have two problems. First, why are the bishops referenced as royalty by anybody? They -- and we -- ought to know that their sacred ministry in The Church is one of service, not of sovereignty.
Second, Maria Teresa has been dead for centuries. Isn't it about time we got off these pretensions?
The fact that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ merits no such distinction should prove my point: the King of Heaven gets not half as much recognition in print as do His lowest slaves.
#1.2 Monk James on 2009-05-05 16:08
Ah, but if only we were still using real money, like her imperial majesty's thalers
#1.2.1 Ed Unneland on 2009-05-06 19:36
The Apocalypse must be upon us: I completely agree with a post from Monk James. Kudos to you, sir.
(Editor' s note: Truly, the end is near if James, Scott and I are all in agreement. Come, Lord Jesus!)
#1.2.2 Scott Walker on 2009-05-07 11:21
Relatedly, I wonder why people also add a cross before the hierarchs' names (e.g., +Jonah, +Methodios).
I understand why a bishop does it: he is giving his blessing by making the sign of the cross. I don't understand why others - especially lower clergy and laity - would do the same as if they are blessing the bishop.
Isn't a bishop's title or an abbreviation of their title more standard (e.g., Met. Jonah, Bp Basil)? Shorthand of their title and first initial also seems acceptable in an internet forum (e.g., MP for Metropolitan Phillip; MJ for Metropolitan Jonah and Michael Jordan...).
(Editor's note: It is just a conventional form of abbrevation for a Bishop - nor more, no less. Personally, I prefer it to MP, or MJ which assumes more than some readers know....)
To Mr. Christopher Orr,
I may be incorrect in my reasoning, and if so, please correct me. You implied that by using the “plus mark” before his signature the bishop is giving a blessing by making the sign of the cross. Unless I’m wrong, isn’t it always the greater who blesses the lesser? For example, a priest would bless a member of his parish, but not his bishop. Nor would a parishioner bless his priest. The bishop would bless a priest and not the other way around. If the “plus mark” is indeed suggesting a blessing, then perhaps Bp. Basil and Bp. Mark used it wrongly when they signed their letters to Met. Philip with the “plus mark” before their names. (These letters can be viewed on the website of the Association of Orthodox Christian Attorneys.) In rank, isn’t a metropolitan or an archbishop higher than a diocesan or auxiliary bishop? If that is the case, the metropolitan would be the one to give his blessing and not the other way around. So, I think that I would agree with Mark when he stated that it is just a form of abbreviation for a bishop. I could be wrong and I would welcome your comments.
#1.3.1 Anonymous on 2009-05-06 20:11
That is a very good point. Thanks to you and Mark for the clarification, as well as to Monk James for the information on capitalization.
The arguments and evidence in the article on "Obedience from Five Perspectives" is IRREFUTABLE.
That Priest should be immediately elevated to ARCH Priest!
#2 Anonymous Lay Person on 2009-05-04 21:02
Well done. You are absolutely correct! When the Holy Synod granted Self-Rule they agreed that we would adminsiter our own affairs. Therefore this discission has absolutely no validity for the N.A. Church.
Interesting to note is that it was directed at us specifically.
As MP vehemently claims we are under their authority, he basically implies there never was Self-Rule.
The decision was not pastoral in any sense of the word as MP completely circumvented the Local Synod.
Did he not chastise the clergy and hierarchs last summer? Did he not say if you have a problem not to send a fax or email but speak face to face?
He took a very cowardly approach to this matter. Why did he not simply speak to his brother bishops? Why the knife in the dark?
He has certainly violated numerous Canons. Conspiring against his own synod and faithful.
Attempting to coerce the bishops into capitulating under duress.
Buying influence with our hard earned money when our own economy is already critical. Perhaps some of the donations were from his friends who would not have given for any other cause?
$2 million was given to provide a supposed endowment for the Balamand.
Do we really want to send our youth to a school where they will learn such practices?
Is there a way for us to get out of this downward spiral?
1A) The Holy Synod says it does not apply to us.
1B) MP says it does not apply to us.
2A) Holy Synod regains credibility by asking MP to retire. Each Diocesan Bishop is given a seat on the Synod to cultivate a better relations with the Patriarchate.
2B) MP retires co-conspiritors and apologizes before he resigns.
3A) Holy Synod elects a new metropolitan archbishop for N.A.
3B) MP and all bishops, clergy and laity refuse to participate in attempts to buy influence (I must be dreaming)
4A) Holy Synod irons out the nitty gritty of Self Rule which allows each Diocesan Bishop to administer their own Diocese and to function as a LOCAL SYNOD accountable one to another in proper ORTHODOX FASHION (What a novel idea)
4B) New Metropolitan takes care of his own diocese and chairs Local Synod meetings as an older brother. Supports the decisions of his brother hierarchs. (The Orhodox Way just like it reads in the book.)
Thank you all for your dedication and hard work.
I sincerely pray MP will not let the Archdiocese completely collapse as Hitler did with Nazi Germany.
Otherwise every Bishop, priest and layman will be looking for a new home in the OCA.
#3 anonymous on 2009-05-04 21:08
Had to SHARE as just read on Orthodox Forum of the abbrev. Minutes of the Greek Arch'd in NYC on May 1st. All hierarchs present w/ Archbishop Demetrius officiating. Covered a range of points. Seems to us that Metr. Philip's words, "It doesn't work", is as anticipated just so many baseless words. They came together from all over the USA. It does work, Sayedna, if you would ALLOW it!
#3.1 Anonymous Orthodox Clergyman on 2009-05-05 13:33
"Mejnoon" (and its variants, including the more Egyptian pronounciation "megnoon") means "crazy."
BTW, Mr. Stokoe, if you're not going to become hip to a few Arabic terms, maybe it's time to begin outsourcing your Antiochian tabloidizing!
(Editor's note: Thanks, hipster. Much appreciated. And my concern is not so much as with me, as with my readers, not all of whom are hip, or willing to become hip, to Arabic. Our concern here is communication, so we should write to foster ease of communication.)
#4 A language student on 2009-05-05 06:09
There are no co-conspirators. Those that posted their names to their opinions of the subject matter do not mean they are co-conspirators. Just because many have solid relationships with hierarchs due to many years of service does not mean they conspired. It is ignorant to not realize long time relationships in turn leads to close relationships in most circumstances, but there is ZERO proof any of the veteran priests (ethnic as you claim) are conspirators. This entire ethnic issue came about by Bishop MARKS response letter that was posted on this web site as well for a matter of fact.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions/views. They should not be persecuted for being obedient, maybe they are being obedient because they obviously have 30 years in service in this Archdiocese and know it's history more than many others in the newer generation. However, this is not to say things change or evolve. Just trying to state the fact that to say someone is a conspirator is a strong accusation and defimation at the least which is illegal. These priests added their names because they are strong priests that believe in their convictions. They are getting more grief than any anonymous priest that disagrees with this move. So please, if anything do not say people conspired that had nothing to do with anything except state their obedience.
Bishop MARK is the to blame for this ethnic issue due to his comments in that letter, has he been persecuted...no. Those were offensive words. Not saying the retort from the clergy was good, but do you see.
It is a real shame to see brother clergy back-stab fellow clergy on this website due to their personal opinion/view. That is a real shame. God have mercy on your souls.
#5 Anonymous on 2009-05-05 07:48
They were NOT being obediant, that is the point. That they REJOICED when +Mark was removed from office indicts them.
#5.1 Antionymous on 2009-05-05 11:09
Anonymous, you wrote:
"Bishop MARK is the to blame for this ethnic issue due to his comments in that letter, has he been persecuted...no. Those were offensive words. Not saying the retort from the clergy was good, but do you see."
Well, you are either one of the Balamand Glee Club that has been nasty to Bp Mark for several years, or you don't have the background on what the Detroit and several other clergy had been up to long before Bp Mark's letter in response to their decadent "freed from captivity" letter. THEY turned this into an "ethnic" issue if it is one, so I suggest this discussion thread end because the facts are not on your side.
(Editor's note: I agree. This is not a racial or ethnic issue; and the facts are clear for all to see in terms of who published what and said what first. Let's move on....)
#5.2 Anonymously sad about it all on 2009-05-05 14:31
it doesnt surpirse me that you dont want arabic on the posts. from the beginning you have been adamantly against the arabs and have more or less pitted this whole controversy on emmigrant vs. non-emigrant and cradle vs noncradle by your negative spin and biases toward basil and mark. you are a mejnoon, im sorry to say.
(Editor's note: While I admit to being a mejnoon, I have not, nor have I ever been against Arabs on this site. I just don't think it helps when some people use other languages many, if not most of the readers, are unfamiliar with. Sometimes, a foreign expression enlightens - like calling me a mejnoon - for it is a lot more fun than being called a simple crazy. But generally, it does not help communication, and that is the point of these exchanges, to learn how to communicate on difficult issues. Using terms few know is not helpful. Capice?)
#6 Anonymous on 2009-05-05 08:32
Perhaps this is a sign that those of us from non-Arabic backgrounds would be best served by learning more Arabic. For example, we would have known that, when Metr. Philip and his cronies in Detroit and elsewhere discussed in Arabic what we would translate in English as "Self-Ruled Archdiocese," it would actually have translated into Italian as "La Cosa Nostra."
Sic semper tyrannis,
#6.1 Nemo on 2009-05-05 22:58
To Anonymous #5. I do not think that any of the comments on this website are intended to attack the priests in Bishop Mark's diocese, except to defend this man who has suffered for four years. They may be strong priests, but it is clearly documented that they have treated the Bishop with disrespect and frequently contempt, and that's not just a rumor. When he spoke out in his letter to the Metropolitan, he was venting his frustrations toward powerful priests who happen to have the ear of Metropolitan Philip. And Bishop Mark is NOT to blame for this ethnic issue. He did not create this situation which has been observed by fellow clergy. There has to be a way to bridge this chasm between the old world and new without destroying the harmony in the Archdiocese. But it won't be done by the actions of a few who flaunt their relationship with the Metropolitan. God have mercy on all our souls.
#7 anon on 2009-05-05 11:38
It has become fashionable, and easily excused, to remain anonymous, due to alleged "head rolling" that surely will follow.
I am finding it increasingly difficult to take comments seriously that do not bear a signature.
Either you believe what you say and are willing to stand by it or....?
Fr. Stephen Lourie
And Father, I don't think you've said what you think about the decision of the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Philip's respponse to it?
#8.1 Antionymous on 2009-05-05 14:57
...or you have been a victim of Episcopal abuse, or have watched it happen to others. If the words that someone writes are true, their identity makes not one iota of difference to the truth.
In a perfect world, the perfect human half of the Church would interact openly, as brothers and sisters gathered under the protection of the Holy Spirit, to speak without fear of retribution. Since that is not the case in the AOCA, please don't discount the truth spoken by those who don't want martyrdom at the hands of those in charge!
#8.2 Anonymous for a reason on 2009-05-05 16:48
Dear Father Stephen,
Congratulations, you did put your name down, unlike so many of your cowardly and not to be believed fellow priests!
Now, please tell us your critique of the situation, pro or con, it does not matter. I've got to think that you have something to say after all the hoopla accompanying your brave gesture.
#8.3 Carl on 2009-05-05 20:48
"Either you believe what you say and are willing to stand by it or....?"
...or you value your head and seek to protect your family from the pain its severance from your shoulders would entail.
I myself find it increasingly difficult to take seriously the inane comments regarding anonymity made by those bearing a signature with nothing to lose...
#8.4 Anonymous just because on 2009-05-05 22:30
Do any of our brethern that take issue with either the substance or inferences of this article care to comment on it? Or is accusing Mr. Stokoe of nefarious meddling in Antiochian Archdiocese affairs your way of not facing the surfacing cold hard realities of an Archdiocese in real crisis?
I am an Antiochian layman who would like the truth regarding this whole situation. Does anyone believe including Metropolitan Philip apologists that communications from Englewood are going to provide either truth or clarity?
I am willing to hear ecclessiastically sound and or reasoned explanations from anyone in defense of Met. Philip and the Holy Synod regarding the "Normalization" of the Diocesans. So far, not so good.
#9 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-05-05 13:12
As another layman, can I second that?
#9.1 Mickey Hodges on 2009-05-05 15:47
Speaking of varied ways the Antiochian Archdiocese promotes their "concepts of Church Life", be alerted that my bro-in-law trans. to an OCA parish was upset to learn that for 40days he should not fast. This promulgated ONLY by the Damascus Synod. Not just Bright Week but all the way to Ascension/Pentecost! And prev. to leaving his Antiochian Bishop told the Priest his "Confession" should ONLY be made to a fellow Ant. Priest. But he had gone to a Gk Priest brother for fifteen yeas. "THey don't understand our ways and will confuse you", he was told. Such helps to UNITY in this hemisphere? ....
#9.1.1 Anonymous Layperson on 2009-05-07 10:19
I love both the Antiochian Archdiocese where I'm from, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese where I live and the OCA with its many close friends and I am anguished that the devil has had such a field day of late. May I offer an observation?
Having the experience of straddling several ecclesiastical cultural worlds of necessity over my years as priest and monk , it seems to me there is a confusion of terms going on as a result of variations in the meaning of Archbishop, Metropolitan, bishop and their role in various national churches. It is nobody's fault really. The simple technique in communication called "mapping" would be of great help. (I heard you say this, is that what you mean? 0ften the answer is "no, I mean that") Anyway here goes.
Generally speaking, in the Byzantino-Hellenic world, the structure of the church sees "Metropolitan" as a full ruling bishop. The "Archbishop" is the head of the synod of the national church (composed of Metropolitans), while "Bishops" are either auxiliaries or actual diocesan bishops who are subject to the local Metropolitan in some matters of authority. (I think the word used in the west is suffragan bishop.) This was the case until recently in the GOA with the bishops being diocesan bishops but still subject to the Archbishop's input and approval in specific matters (consecration of churches, ordinations and finances). Raising the GOA Bishops to Metropolitans simply mirrored the ordinary and organization and usage of Greece, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria and I believe, Antioch. The US Metropolitans are still restricted in some areas that require consent from the Archbishop and consultation with the National Synod,but their title reflects the fact that they are in fact the ruling heirarch (the western term would be "ordinary") of their diocese called now metropolis.
The usage of Russia is another matter. There, the highest office is that of Patriarch, while high ranking Administrator or head of an autonomous or autocephalas Church is termed a Metropolitan, while Archbishops and Bishops rule diocese. Some bishops are in fact, auxiliaries, but in Slavic usage, "bishop" usually means a full ruling bishop who is only subject to the Synod in certain matters. In the US, the experience of the OCA first in it's isolation then in its Autocephaly, has seen Bishops are even more independent.
I believe the confusion has come about largely from the fact that while a large percentage of the clergy and laity of Antiochian Archdiocese are educated at St. Vladimir's and St. Tikhons, and thus in the Slavic way of doing things and thinking, Metropolitan Philp and those in the "old country" have in mind the hellenic/byzantine usage. Without meaning to be, the underlying ASSUMED backgrounds are at odds. I know it sounds obvious now, but I gather the bishops didn't sit down and get on the same page, but simply assumed each other held similar assumptions. They didn't since they didn't think they had to.
Of course the Evil One exploits all this and starts the Arab/ethinc vs. American stuff, old rivalries and egos (large in any situation and easily bruised) and you have a recipe for disaster.
For many years I have tried to tell anyone that might listen that in Holy Orthodoxy there are several EQUALLY CORRECT ways of doing things. But all to often, we assume the way "we" do it is not just the correct way to do something but the only way, looking on variations as somehow "not really orthodox, or slack or something. A good example of this can be found liturgically. Slavic tradition sees the All Night Vigil as proper for any church on Saturday night. There are absolutely valid historical reasons for this in those churches traditions. However in the Churches of the Mediterranean world, Vigil has ever been part of parish usage on an ordinary basis (being monastic). Yet how often I heard inferred that those "Greeks", Arabs etc are lazy serving only Great Vespers on Saturday and then Matins on Sunday morning. And the Greeks and Antiochians return the favor about "uppity" Russians. The simple fact is that both usages are correct within the context of their churches.
In the salad bowl of American Orthodoxy, we must be very careful when we assume "everyone knows that", they in fact do. Even Bishops.
Rather than automatically assume there are plots and power scheming going on (there are, but I really don't think in this situation) it might be more friutful for us all to take a deep breath and get on the same page, at the same time realizing that there very usually are several ways to see something. Somehow we must decide what is mutually accepted as "ordinary". The first step being aware that here are in fact differences at all.
Of course I don't like organized religion. That's why I'm an Orthodox Christian.
(editor's note: Nice try, Father, but your hypothesis fails in that Metropolitan Philip, Metropolitan Elias of Beirut, et. al, are all graduates of St. Vladimir's as well. This is not just a matter of "you say potato, I say potatoe." )
This is true, Mark, but I think Fr. Nicholas has made a valid point. I am not saying that Met. Philip has NOT overstepped his bounds. I am just saying that he does not see what he did as bad as we do. It is true that there is a distinction in the way of looking at bishops. OUr bishops were the only diocesan bishops in the whole of Antioch. The synods of both Antioch and the EP have Metropolitans sitting on them, not "ordinary" bishops. This is where some good-minded people and clergy are coming from, in defending +MP and the HS of A.
BUT, having said that, it was still wrong on a number of levels as pointed out by the fine article on obediance.
I think +MP meant well, but he is blinded... Most of us are blind to our own sins while being quite aware of our neighbors.....
(editor's note: As you point out, we are all too often blind to our own sins. Me above all. We are fortunate when we have our friends, rather than enemies, point them out. The Archdiocese, therefore, is lucky that it has so many bishops, priests and laity willing to stand up and call their leader to task, speaking truth to power, when he has gone astray. The saddest thing is not that there is growing turmoil in the Archdiocese because of this, but rather, that there would be none... That people would be so dead and uncaring, isolated and self-absorbed that they would let the horrible mistakes and errors of their brother go unnoticed, unremarked, unnamed, and uncorrected. Reasonable people can disagree on difficult issues, but on this one the Tradition, history, canons and practice of the Church is clear. You all now just have to find a way out of the box in which the Archbishop has chosen to place the Archdiocese. For his sake, as well as for the future of the Archdiocese. In the OCA we learned, and are still discovering, that the best way out is through overcoming fear, choosing openness, transparency and accountability. I recommend it highly.)
#10.1 Antionymous on 2009-05-06 04:21
Not to be insulting Father, but how silly.
In 2003, we were told that the Holy Synod granted Self Rule ad that ALL THE EXISTING AUXILIARIES WERE ELEVATED BY THAT DECISION TO DIOCESAN BISHOPS. ALL THE NEW BISHOPS WERE TO BE DIOCESAN BISHOPS.
Is this not what MP fought for? YES To have Diocesan Bishops, NOT AUXILIARIES.
All the AUXILIARIES except Bp Antoun were ENTHRONED.
The new DIOCESAN BISHOPS were ENTHRONED.
Has any auxiliary ever been ENTHRONED?
Reportedly MP told the bishops the enthronement service meant nothing!
Why the show if it meant NOTHING?
The ENTHRONEMENTS were important to MP and that is why HE DID IT.
Should all auxiliarie now be taken to every Cathedral in the Archdiocese and ENTHRONED? NO
Each Diocesan Bishop was ENTHRONED AT HIS CATHEDRAL (not MP's)
The arguments do not hold water as MP has made a very public show of what his INTENTS and THOUGHTS WERE.
What a BETRAYAL. Abdullah Khouri was right!
To remove a Bishop from his DIOCESE is not a NARROW ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION.
To remove a BISHOP FROM HIS DIOCESE REQUIRES ACCUSATIONS OF HESRESY, ABUSE OF OFFICE OR IMMORALITY WHICH MUST BE SUBSTANTIATED TO BE HEARD IN A SPIRITUAL COURT by the bishops peers, not the Detroit clergy.
Secondly a Diocesan Bishop may voluntarily step down or be demoted if he accepts.
+MP and his friends have tried unsuccessfully to deceive, manupulate and intimidate the Diocesan Bishops into accepting demotion, as they have NO CANONICAL basis for their actions.
#10.2 anon and anon on 2009-05-06 05:40
"The Role of Metropolitan and Its Relationship within the Episcopate: A Reappraisal" by George C. Michalopulos gets at some of the reasons for this difference in nomenclature regarding bishops, archbishops, metropolitans and patriarchs in Greek and Slavic Orthodoxy. It is available here:
You will not get an honest answ from Englewood, NJ. Sorry. Read the many pages on the website Association of Orthodox Christian Attorneys to see how MP is a master of spin.
He has misrepresented the Patriarch to his NA flock on numerous occasions and he has misrepresented NA to the Patriarch.
The reason neither the Patriarch nor the faithful in NA know each other is that MP and his buddies control the flow of information in either direction.
We need all of our bishops to be on the Holy Synod so that communication will be open and free (not to mention more verifiable.)
#11 ANONYMOUS on 2009-05-05 17:07
I believe that several priests persecuted and otherwise conspired against His Grace Bishop +Mark. I have many good reasons to believe that. However, I think it would be very helpful if someone could share with us specific instances and examples of their disrespect. Actually I think it would be great if Bishop Mark did that. But I'd like to hear from anyone at this point who is in the know.
#12 To humble to give my name :) on 2009-05-05 18:19
I'm wondering: Is the Epistle to the Hebrews NOT true because we aren't sure who the author is?
P.S. You should be able to tell whether what I say is true by whether it is true, not based on who wrote it.
#13 Anonymous on 2009-05-05 18:55
To each his own opinion but clergy who disrespect other clergy have no right to prepare the eucharist. Love one another since all we can do and should do is pray for those who administer healing, just like the prayer in the red service book....
#14 anonymous on 2009-05-05 19:26
Dear Mr. Stocko
Brothers and sisters in The Risen Lord
CHRIST IS RISEN, TRULY HE HAS RISEN
In the name of our Resurrected Lord and God, I have come to write to you this letter, with hope and prayer that, it will, bring some peace of mind to all of you on this website.
This letter, is in no intension to hurt anyone feelings, but in the hope and prayer to shed some living light for all of you, to see the true light of our Risen Lord and Master.
I have come to know so many of you , for so many uncountable years, to where we have broken bread together at one table, and where, we have joined together in many celebrations., unfortunately, some of you I have not gotten the pleasure to meet you in person ,t yet we have shared one thing in common together, and that is the Body and Blood of Our Lord, which we call “ The Sacrament of Communion“.
Many of you , I have attended and shared with you, your joy, in another Sacrament, “The Sacrament of Ordinations“
Others ,I have come and shared another Sacrament, “The Sacrament of Baptism” . I can go on and on with this to no end.
As, I was reading this website, from day one till now, in regards to our “Antiochian Archdiocese“, I have seen the ach and pain in so many of you , Indeed this has been a great tornmintation, to our souls and bodies.
In your documentations, you bounded and speared each other very deeply with words and deeds.
Some of you have reminded me of the following people, who we commemorate in our services and special feast days. some are being Thomas, that read and are in great wonders either to believe you all or not to believe because you write unanimously.
Others, you remind me of Peter, afraid to identify yourself, of fearing that you might be out of job, You have forgotten , what you have committed yourself to do, is not a job, but it is serving our Lord and Master.
You have, accepted to carry that heavy cross on your back, to preach the good news to all men. I as an Orthodox Christian, brought up in a Clergy family through many, many generations. what was taught to us that serving our Lord is not a job, but a task that we are called upon by God to fulfill His duties, and to serve his people.
I, also was taught, that,”the Priest”, is a representative of Christ on earth. On the website, you have not put your good example to us laity, to show us, and teach us, the pure love and understanding of what the church is? to be in unity and not in dissention.
You have mocked one another, with words , that, are spears in the heart of men., not only for the intended person, but also, to those who read them.
My eyes are full of tears, to know, those of whom, I have gotten to know so well,. have turned against each other as Moses and the Pharos of Egypt.
God is so loving and patient, but, to what point will he remain that way? Being so merciful and enduring.
Mark, With all due respect and love for all our Bishops, Clergy and Laity, who are following this website,. I ask all of you, to challenge yourselves first. and as Christ did for Mary, He took the stone and asked, which among you without sin? let him come first cast the stone.
My question to all of us. Which one among us all, to be found without sin? to continue casting these stone at each other.
My friends and Christian Orthodox families, we, have touched none Orthodox on this website. Does any one of you have solid proof? No, you do not, because I know for a fact the Muslims and Jews have converted to Orthodoxy, and I was a witness and. a godmother to some of them.
I also, know for a fact, that, my beloved Father whom most of you know the Economies , Zacharia Nasr indeed did Baptize some of them during his ministry. Therefore, only if you have written proof that they are Orthodox then speak your peace, show it to us to believe you, I am being thomas with this one. .
Please, remember the Ten commandments, Thou shall not bear false witness, and Thou shall not lie.
Do you all not fear for your souls?
Satin is very strong, and, he will remain strong, to get a good grip of us, and seem to me, that, we have invited him in, allowed him to play his big roll in destroying our love and faith.
Satin has loved us for our temptations, for our dissentions, for our broken hearts,. for destroying our love, and our unity in faith. etc.
If any of you fear our Almighty Lord and God, then fear for your SOUL, it will be tormented in the fire of hell. and I see, that, some of you love being tormented, I could never come to understand that either.
To our heart breaking Bishops, all of us “ laity” can do, is pray for your peace of mind, that God will shed His Heavenly light on you, so that, you may continue serving Him and guiding His flocks. To our respected Clergy, instead of wasting your precious time, that which our God has called upon you to serve Him, I ask you, to please, stop the unanimously writings and go out collect His lost sheep's, there are so many of us, who are trying to find their way to salvation and be saved from evil wickedness..
Mark, our American country does haves a freedom of speech. I ask you to please print this letter as written, without, taken one word out of it. some of our people need to wake up before it is too late.
All that is happening in our country, is because, we are not focusing on God and Church teachings,
Let us not become Sodom and Ghamora . where God will destroy all of us?. When He strike? He strike it big.
Let us remember, what happened in those days? and, let us not repeat that History again..
Time to allow us, to minister the good tiding, so that, we can prepare ourselves for our coming death and to be in paradise with our Lord.
Life is too short my friends, no one will know the day nor the hour, let us be ready and ask forgiveness from one another for we all are sinners.
Mark, I pray that you be in Paradise with our lord and be on his right hand. Your intentions are good but go back and read your website it has brought lots of harm to those whom you call your friends,
Your Sister in The Risen Lord,
Inkila Nasr .
#15 Anonymous on 2009-05-06 07:06
Your said: ". I as an Orthodox Christian, brought up in a Clergy family through many, many generations."
You must be kidding. Now that you have "been raised" in a "clergy family", you should go and study the history of the Orthodox Church. You will see that when confronting challenges to the faith from the hierarchy, no one does as you suggest. Historically, when the people of God have seen their bishops ignoring the clearly established Apostolic Rule of Faith, they stood up to fight and did not just sit around and take it.
I would also point out to you that it is the bishops who should fear most for their souls burning in the eternal lake of fire which is reserved for the Devil and his angles. As God says in Holy Scripture, the bishops will be held to a much higher standard than the rest of us because they are teachers who should know better.
Personally, I find your letter insulting and highly offensive, but this is America and we all enjoy being insulted and offended. The hierarchy of this Archdiocese is going to learn that here in America we fight for what we believe in. This is not some backwater ....where people uneducated in the faith can be bullied.
In his pushing for self-rule, which we all supported, the Metropolitan invoked the American Revolution to threaten the Holy Synod and rally the laity to his side. And it worked. Well, now he is going to find out that that sword cuts both ways. We believe in our revolution. The Metropolitan cannot complain now that the anger he whipped up in fighting for self-rule is coming back on him.
We will not accept heterodoxy from our bishops. Period.
A proudly anonymous, American Orthodox believer
#15.1 Anonymous Antiochian Parishoner on 2009-05-07 06:20
Dear Sister in Christ,
You wonder at the priests who have posted here, eyes filled with tears. Good, that shows compassion.
What you are seeing here are the results of years of pent-up fear. Yes, many priests are afraid of the Metropolitan. They have seen him punish priests for even small slights.
Now, we know that he controls the Holy Synod of Antioch and was able to engineer the removal of other bishops! Where is our hope for a fair hearing if there is no place to appeal? Where can a priest find protection in the Church, now that we have seen such secretive actions.
We remain anonymous for one other reason, dear sister. If all of us were to give our names, then we would certainly cause grief and harm to the Metropolitan, whom most of us would like to simply retire with some shred of his dignity intact. If we sign our names, it will force him to act in a way that will, ultimately, strip him of his fatherly image and reduce him to looking entirely like a tyrant desperately clinging to power.
Some priests have been forced by this controversy to turn their backs on close friends who are now being punished for nothing other than being an inconvenience to His Eminence. You ahve no idea what has been going on in the background, because we priests have carried on in silence.
We are not crying out because we are spoiled children. We are shouting out against further injustices that will come after the Convention, when we will certainly get the rest of the 'big plan' that no one wants to talk about.
Right now, the vision of the visionary leadership is getting a set of cross-hairs added to it. We all know what is going to happen next.
Once the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod are done with their political maneouvirs, what will be left will be an uninspired, wounded and complacent remnant of what was once a promising and dynamic Archdiocese. For some, that is much easier to deal with and be comfortable in.
Then there will be no more weeping, because there will be nothing of value to weep over.
#15.2 anonymous priest on 2009-05-07 13:00
It would seem, then, that the Synod of Antioch's decision can only be justified if we recognize that the Diocesan Bishops in the US are in fact Metropolitans of the Sees over which they preside. Under that scenario many of the statements +Philip has made make perfect sense.
#16 Among the many anonymous here on 2009-05-06 09:35
Just wondering, but how big is this story really? Does anyone have a better sense than I do? I was at my Parish Council meeting recently and was surprised that not many members knew or cared much of what was going on. Personally, I've been very interested in what is going on, how it has spread from a bishop issue to a self-rule issue to a more general financial issue. I'm not entirely certain what to make of it all, and how exactly to separate truth from rumor or conjecture, but it has been important for me to find out as much as I can. I have been praying for the Devil to get out of our Archdiocese, out of the Church in general, and for true reconciliation for all during this crisis. However, it seems that there are many out there, including very active parish members that consider this no big deal or that it really does not concern their day to day life. What are some of you seeing? Are there more people concerned about this than may be reading and commenting on this website, or did I just happen to run into a number of ostriches with their heads in the sand?
(editor's note: After three years of scandal that dealt with concrete criminality - i.e. misappropriate of funds, sexual harrassment charges, abusive Bishops, etc., in the OCA, including stories in the AP, all the major newspapers, etc., you will still find a majority of people in the OCA are unconcerned and largely ignorant of what happened. Many are in my own parish. It does not concern their daily existence and so they pass by. And you are wondering why after 9 weeks, many in the AOCA have little idea or concern for the canonical and ecclesiological issues being discussed here? Just because they are canonical and ecclesiological does not make them less important - but they are not nearly as "sexy" copy as diverting funds, etc, as in the OCA. If you are looking for " outraged peasants with pitchforks", as one of the OCA's bishops dismissed his clergy and faithful as being akin to, give it more than 60 days. 20-25,000 people read this site every night on average. Half of these are in the AOCA by my estimate ( although I have no empirical way of knowing that - it is just that my readership has doubled since the AOCA crisis, so I assume the new readers are mostly AOCA ). If that is the case, it is about 10% of the Archdiocese, and by my guess, the most active 10%. The rest will pick things up quick enough now that the "creative class" in every parish is. )
#17 David Najjar on 2009-05-06 14:28
If 10,000 to 15,000 readers of this website are from the AOC these figures alone should give the Holy Synod an ample amount of concern. The readership will undoubtedly grow by further leaps and bounds if and when Englewood and Damascus decides to begin either a purge of existing heirarchy or take an incerasing totalitarian stance minus substantive explanations.
Nothing awakens nor inspires the faithful in America like a good old fashioned injustice. You can cloak it in all the ecclessiastical hubris available and it will raise nothing but a stench to high heaven.
So far nothing but edicts calls for obedience and forced confessions to be signed are offered. It just doesn't work that way in the Kingdom preached by Christ and the Conciliar Apostolic Church he founded.
I still eagerly await a good apologetic defense for what seems to me an indefensible act on the part of Met. Philip and The Holy Synod. Where is it?
Because we said so might work in Syria but not here. Tell us why and how you can do these things with forthrightness and genuine clarity. Make your case before you begin to lose the faithful.
#18 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-05-06 20:17
The home plate, Antiochian.org, now has the texts surrounding the recent decision regarding auxiliary bishops, all of which have been reported on this website. Needless to say, they explain NOTHING about recent events. If this is transparency, it's pitiful and offers no explanation for Metropolitan Philip/s actions. I cannot understand how the American church can continue with his kind of leadership. However, as someone earlier reported, there are many parishioners who take no interest in Church related issues and they know nothing about the implications for the AOCA. So, perhaps the Metropolitan is counting on total apathy to carry the day. I just wish he would face the crisis squarely and give the laity some sort of coherent explanation, if there is one, for what has happened. Otherwise, we have to believe that this was an event engineered and directed by Metropolitan Philip. It is the only explanation that makes any sense.
#19 anon on 2009-05-07 18:25
The number of defenders of Metropolitan Philip seem for the most part to come from his elder clergy and close friends. These are people who have all benefited from being in his good graces. These are the people who come up with the big donations for the projects the Met wants, be it at home or abroad. These clergy are also the ones with the most to loose with the Met's departure. Look at their lifestyles, how they run their parishes, these men live as kings and all with the knowledge and approval of the Met. They will fight tooth and nail to defend the Met becuase when he is gone, their perks will soon vanish. Wait and see, when Metropolitan Philip retires it is not only Bishop Antoun who will retire, you'll soon hear of a significant number of the currently vocal supportive senior clergy also retire...
#20 Anonymous (You'd be too!) Antiochian priest on 2009-05-08 07:01
Oh, I know I said I was done here but you guys seem to have caught the attention (much to my chagrin) of one of my editors who ran to me with the comment from the (again) anonymous
Antiochian priest who makes it sound as though he is living a life less privileged than many of his elders in the field.
Listen, little brother, HARD WORK PAYS. WHILE METROPOLITAN PHILIP IS GENEROUS AND CHARITABLE. wE ARE NOT ONE OF HIS CHARITIES! NOR ARE THOSE PRIESTS WHO ARE BLESSED WITH THE SKILLS AND TALENTS TO PROVIDE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES.
I enjoy working many long hours and am well rewarded for it. The sources of incomes and trusts enjoyed by many of the brethren are generally personal. As long as we are blessed with good health we and all who labor with joy will continue to enjoy any pleasures we choose.
Long live METROPOLITAN PHILIP! IF, HEAVEN FORBID, WE SHOULD LOOSE HIM, WE LOOSE A GOOD FRIEND AND TRUE LEADER . . . NOT A CASH COW!
Now that my non-Orthodox collegues are aware of this site it has become for them a great source of amusement, and one or the other of them reads it daily like some sort of reality television soap opera.
Since news agencies do not print anonymous letters they are facinated and now reinforced in the rationale behind that policy.
I now find myself spending at least some part of my work day trying to defend the dignity of our anonymous clergy who sound petty to the objective observers.
Darn it all! Just what I always wanted: TO BE AND HAVE MY CHURCH BE A SORT OF SOCIAL AMUSEMENT FOR A GROUP OF IRREVERENT (ALBEIT GOOD-NATURED) WORDSMITHS AND SKILLED INTERVIEWERS WITH ENDLESS QUESTIONS TO DIVERT ME FROM THE NEWS OF THE DAY.
This time, I mean it, I won't be back no matter what tear-sheet they stick on my desk concerns. I do pray that you are all really good intentioned enough not to be any harder on one another than necessary to produce some positive outcome.
Honestly, most people are only mean when they are most fearful and love is the only antidote for that. Who am I to preach? I need to get back to work so we can keep the lifestyle and percs to which we old geezerz have grown accustomed. God Bless, etc., Lynn Gabriel
(Editor's note: Thanks, Lynn for sharing your thoughts, and for signing your name. I have always advocated both on this site. The fact that many - including it seems almost every Antiochian priest who writes here - will share their thoughts, but not their names - has to be a concern. Are so many of our priests, our spiritual leaders, "petty" "gossipy" "cowardly" men? Heven forbid! Or, is there geniune fear for their families, careers and ministries should they reveal their names? In my experience most priests are prone to gossip - it is an occupational hazard; but petty and cowardly? Some, but not many. Most, in my experience, are pretty upstanding men when it comes to important matters. I have yet to meet one, though, who is not concerned or actually afraid of what will happen to him if he publicly speaks against the will of +Philip. For example: In the early 1980s, Metropolitan Philip stood up in a General Assembly and proclaimed openly that, if the Holy Synod did not give him the blessing to have Bishop Antoun consecrated to the episcopacy, Metropolitan Philip would either secede from Antioch and go to the OCA or consecrate Bishop Antoun in opposition to the Patriarchate’s wishes. Father Daniel Griffith stood up in the meeting , stated that the such actions would be uncanonical, and was transferred from his parish on the spot! Was it the Bishop's "right" to do so? Yes. Was it right to do this? No.
There are consequences to power, and its absolute use: corruption and fear are two. We had both in the OCA. You have one in the AOCA, at least. We became a soap opera in the Orthodox world because our leaders made it so, by refusing to clean up in a timely, open, accountable way the corruption that had overtaken us. Your words indicate the AOCA is well on its way down the same road to becoming a soap opera. You can ignore the problem, as you suggest, but that will not make it go away. In the end, in the OCA, the only thing that went away was +Herman. I might suggest you save yourself much grief and sorrow, and not follow our example, but take timely, open and accountable ways to end the fear, make sure controls are in place to prevent corruption, and resolve the outstanding issues in a canonical fashion in accordance with the Orthodox Tradition - not the current whim of one man.)
#21 Lynn Gabriel on 2009-05-08 21:31
Are you for real? Mr. editor, Mark Stokoe, who made you judge and jury? What are your qualifications to pontificate and accuse Metropolita Philip and the AOCA of supposed "corruption"? This is purly administrative and does not concern gossips such as yourself.
I am a convert from Buddhism and it is the self righteous dilletantes who fan the flame of division make me realize that you have no marketing skills. Do you realize how foolish and petty we look. Come into the real world, you and your "mean spirited" groupies.
Metropolitan Philip has done more to advance the cause of American Orthodoxy than all you "wanabee" cannon lawyers. I am sure there is good reason fo putting the "genie back into the bottle". In his wisdom, he and the Patriarch are saving the Archdiocese from ill equipped regional bishops and their power grabs.
(Editor's note: I have never accused Metropolitan Philip of corruption. I have simply pointed out the fact that the Archdiocese has never had an independent audit. That does not mean the Archbishop is corrupt - it simply leaves him vulnerable, which as the wise man his supporters consider him, seems unwise in the extreme. In 21st century America there is no logical, administrative, canonical or theological reason not to have an independent audit. The sad experience of my own jurisdiction proves that. This too speaks of my qualifications - I have spent 3.5 years dealing with corruption in my Church - I have both some background, knowledge and experience therefore of the topic. As for being purely adminsitrative, piffle. Attempting to demote a diocesan bishop without canonical charges and a trial is about a serious a problem as it gets in orthodoxy. Schisms have resulted from less - in this country as well. So it is hardly "a minor adminsitrative matter". As for being in the real world, I am fully aware of it, and do quite well in it, since I don't fear it as do many. Moreover, as my uncle has been a Zen Buddhist monk for 50+ years I would be glad to discuss Buddhism with you at any time...)
#22 Annonymous on 2009-05-10 10:07
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