Wednesday, June 24. 2009
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Now it is time to demand an AUDIT.
Criminal background checks on Board of Trustees Members.
At least two of the Board Members who are rabid supporters of MP and went to Damascus have been in court, one for money laundering and traficing in drugs.
The other for raising money for Breast cancer through a clothing drive and then profiting from the sale of the clothing in a third world country.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER
Why was the accountant from St George in troy, Mi unwilling to stand behind his financial report?
Where is the money for their senior housing on their financial report?
Who gets paid a salary from their senior board?
MP wants to press the issue.
It is time for above board and out in the open full disclosure.
#1 betrayed by philip on 2009-06-24 16:10
THE ORTHODOX IN NORTH AMERICA (By Metropolitan GEORGE Khodr)
ANNAHAR – Saturday, October 18, 2003
This is a discussion regarding the organization of the Antiochian Orthodox who live in the United States and Canada, most of whom are of Arab descent, whereas others are of non-Arab heritage who converted to the Orthodox faith. Through the leadership of Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba, they met during the summers of 2001 and 2002 asking that their Archdiocese become one of self-rule. That is how ‘we’ translated the word AUTONOMY due to its lack of presence in the Arabic language, but to preserve its Greek origin. This is to reveal the ecclesiastical organization that is still associated with the old Patriarchates, but enjoys a sort of internal independence. This rule is what differentiates it (the church) from self-ruling autocephalous churches and their relationship with other sister churches and other faiths.
This order came to be after certain battles led to the pardon of other churches, outside of the Soviet Union, and their relationship with Moscow, such as the church of Finland and Poland; or for other historical reasons such as the church of Crete which is under the rule of Constantinople.
Certainly, no one would dream of establishing an independent church in America, according to the canonical definition, since that would entail the spread of its (the church’s) power through the entire American land without regard to jurisdictional and linguistic basis. To this day, this has been a topic that has been studied among Orthodox churches, and which requires approval from all of the ancient Patriarchates. It is a topic for discussion by the Ecumenical Orthodox Council. All signs, though, lead to the fact that this is currently a disturbance, and that every jurisdiction is to follow its Mother Church similar to having various Archdioceses lead by one Episcopate, such as with the Greeks, or one Archdiocese such as with the Antiochians.
It became apparent that the “self-rule” is inevitable with the Americanization of the young members, as they have become more engaged with the American culture, with other (Orthodox) jurisdictions, and their expressiveness towards unity. This became evidenced throughout universities and social meeting places. Such a time of fusion is not without desire; in fact, there is no doubt that the original languages would persist, and that those of Arab-descent as well as new-comers will want the preservation of the Arabic language during church prayer.
Due to such happenings, the Antiochian Orthodox found themselves, on one hand, in a controversial restructuring, and the preservation of their Antiochian style, on the other. The one who carries such controversy is their spiritual leader, Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba, who is true to his Antiochian roots, his Eastern sense, and who exemplifies the depth of American culture and study; withal, he has preserved such treasures. This is not the time to rejoice over spreading his Church’s faith in that continent. How can you translate that which is sought after by parishioner in a canonical language?
It was necessary to translate such ‘double suspicion’ in a canonical way. That took place at the Holy Synod meeting that took place in Damascus, beginning on October 7, which ended with the resolution “the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America has been granted self-rule, and shall remain as such (the United States of America and Canada), and shall represent one united Antiochian body”. We have clarified the use of the bold word AUTONOMY and made certain of its meaning to that Archdiocese. What stands to reason, of course, is the cohesive nature between the original order of the Patriarchate along with the constitution of the Archdiocese and its self-rule. It has become ‘self-governing’, as outlined by the decision of the Holy Synod.
Such restructuring is two-fold: *the first deals with the Metropolitan and the second deals with the local Bishops*. The Metropolitan will remain a member of the Holy Synod of Antioch, and through him is brought forth agreement of this decision. Such decision will be expressed to the entire Archdiocese through, what we will call, the Local Archdiocesan Synod, which will be composed of bishops who used to be auxiliary to the Metropolitan and are now to become bishops of the earth.
*Per the new definition, the Bishop is to be situated to a particular geographical area and be given the name of an American or Canadian city*. *He will be both consecrated (enthroned) and situated there (in that particular city), as well be in charge of choosing priests within his diocese*. Of old, the chief priest would have chosen the diocesan priests.
Newly formed is the Local Synod of Bishops, four of whom currently live in the United States; undoubtedly, such a synod will expand and incorporate more bishops.
What remains of the decisions of the Holy Synod of Antioch are issues dealing with the faith, the liturgy, the mysteries, as well as relations with other autocephalous churches and Ecumenical politics dealing with Christian and non-Christian existence.
*What has happened is that we have buried in America the auxiliary bishop, who had no region to responsibly shepherd*. *The auxiliary or honorary bishop is a “novelty” that arose in both the East and the West; such arose due to the need of the Archbishop of a helper to perform various duties in his (the Archbishop’s) name*. *However, as some of the clergy and canonical scholars may recall from a few years ago, Christianity does not believe in a bishop by common terms, but believes in a bishop over a geographic area whose people are led by him*. *Therefore, he is a shepherd to people, and not a delegate of his “master”*. *To use philosophical words, there is no bishop who ought to consider himself as a jewel of his own self*. The bishop should, then, shepherd the faithful who dwell within his region, as says Saint Cyprian, by holding on to the faith and counsel of this brotherly vocation.
*If the bishop is one who elevates his head unto another, it is obvious that he is not a bishop who submits to another*. Therefore, the bishops ought to be honorable and respectful brothers, with each one fully carrying his own responsibility. He will not even elevate his head unto God. Nothing will impel a bishop but his self-submission unto God, for not only is God his word, but also his word is that of the treasures and canons of the Church. This is all directed by the chief priest, for that brotherly course is one of organized counsel, similar to that of the Patriarch through whom nothing is finalized without his authority, while at the same time, who will not enforce anything which does not please his bishop brothers.
Should the vision of the See of Antioch consist of the placement of the various auxiliary bishops of the Patriarchate and of the other Archdioceses into particular regions? The Archdiocese of North America already opened the door with such progressive thought.
The old structure, which has been renewed today, is not bound by itself. It is not the canonical structure of the Church which pours forth everlasting life unto us. Rather, is it one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that appears to new laity. The important thing is to promote holiness and bring forth such holiness throughout life in our lands and homes. Even more important is to renew all things through a prayerful life, which is founded on principles and God-inspired holy fathers so that Christ’s beautiful Church may descend on all mankind.
What occurred last week was a joyful movement towards our relationship in carrying Christ to the American continent with His eyes towards Antioch “where the Apostles were first called Christians”. It is our duty to remain one with them in spirit and function. They have given us plenty merely by their faith to the Church of the East, and have helped us in establishing mutual trust. Our hearts are filled with love for them as well as their hospitality when we shall visit them carrying the shroud of Christ along with our historical steadfastness. Indeed, we need nothing but this mutual love which is truly a treasure on this earth. We, together with them, endeavor towards the Heavenly Kingdom which is enough to offer bliss to all mankind.
#1.1 Metropolitan George on 2009-06-24 20:30
MP now has refused to accept the authority of the Holy Synod. He is shrewd and CUNNING.
He has caused scandal and divided the Archdiocese.
He ha divided the bishops
he has divided the Board of trustees.
He has divided the Holy Synod.
Now he has set things in motion that when we ask for th Holy Synod and our Patriarch to step in to address the issue, as only the Holy Synod may remove him, he will claim "THEY ARE DIVIDING THE ARCHDIOCESE
We could not possibly be anymore divided than we are now.
#1.1.1 betrayed by philip on 2009-06-25 07:23
You stated "The one who carries such controversy is their spiritual leader, Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba, who is true to his Antiochian roots, his Eastern sense"
I beg your pardon, but among the first acts of Metropolitan Philip upon arriving in this new land was to dump his rassa, cut off his beard and put on a Protestant collar. Those acts did not reflect his faithfulness in 'sticking to his roots', his being true to his Antiochian roots, his Eastern sense.
#1.1.2 yanni on 2009-06-25 11:28
Mark you are absolutely correct.
MP was willing to publish letters that supported what he wanted (although he knew they were frauds)
Now he thumbs his nose at the Patriarch and the Holy Synod.
How will he expect OBEDIENCE when he is in COMPLETE DISOBEDIENCE.
Let the TEA PARTY BEGIN.
Remove his pictures from the Churches.
Stop commemorating him? *Not yet*.
Follow your Diocesan Bishops WHO ARE IN OBEDIENCE TO THE HOLY SYNOD!
#2 anonymous on 2009-06-24 16:18
You all are really idiots to say they are "Frauds". does a freaking comma backwards mean it's a fraud? Idiots. Idiots. Idiots.
I'll take confession now for this comment however it is pathetic. They may have had the added in Auxilary text but they were signed. Yes the Patriarch only published one and asked everyone to only look at that, then why did he SIGN the rest. There are answers that will come out and believe it or not I think they will be good for the Church as a whole.
#2.1 William on 2009-06-29 06:53
....This latest gambit pegs an 11 on the Lame-O-Meter, and seems guaranteed to initiate a world-class p###ing match with the Patriarch, which the Patriarch is bound to win. This is so breathtakingly irrational that I have to ask Phillip's apologists on this board: Is there ANYTHING that is too raw for you folks? Swallowing this latest statement is more challenging than swallowing the proverbial camel.
#3 Scott Walker on 2009-06-24 16:27
The Damascus Constitution approved by the Holy Synod, Patriarch Ignatius signed on every page as he knew Metropolitan Philip's propensity to edit (also known as forging).
You can change the spots on a lepperd, but you cannot change the lepperd.
#3.1 anonymous on 2009-06-24 20:53
While decrying those who opposed the Father Allen decision, Metropolitan Philip was prompt to point to "being legalstic." In this matter, he has no problem resorting to "being legalistic."
While I appreciate the intelligence that goes into considering all scenarios, motives, it's time to be "stupid."
Direct appeals must be made to Damascus NOW.
#4 Steve on 2009-06-24 16:30
What a bold move by Saidna...
Metropolitan Philip, has over the past forty plus years, and by his actions today continues to show bold leadership. Give him credit where credit is due. He initiated the use of English almost exclusively in his parishes worship, he brought in the Evangelicals and has encouraged new missions.
Editor's note: Fr. Schmemann never attempted to use fraudulent texts to support his positions; nor did he disobey his ecclesiastical superiors. He used reason, scholarship, wit, and the personal integrity he possessed from 50 years of service to convince others of the wisdom of his positions. He did not need to rely on fraud.)
He is now being unburdened by the shackles of Damascus and the Synod. This is a Schmemann momement. This could be a time to make a clean brake and form an American Orthodox Church. From this crisis will come bold change. We should be supporting his actions.
#5 George from Brooklyn on 2009-06-24 16:35
What happened to +Philip's supporters and their calls for obedience to the highest authority in the Antiochian Archdiocese: the Holy Synod of Antioch?
#5.1 Name withheld by request on 2009-06-24 19:02
Are you for real? You mean like fmr. Met. Vitaly of ROCOR who uncanonically tried to unretire and retake ROCOR at the behest of the far right nutcases and went into schism with their own ROCOR? Or +Gregory George who jumped from juridsdiction to jurisdiction until convicted child molester Met. Valentine made him a bishop and then broke from him?
Leadership? Disobeying the Synod and Canons when one doesn't get their way is leadership?! Go ahead and leave.... Don't let the door...
#5.2 Kevin Klein on 2009-06-24 19:04
I suspect George is using irony to point at Met. Philip's disobedience toward the Holy Synod, while simultaneously tweaking the "foreign bishops are the problem" crowd.
The problems with American Orthodoxy are not due to foreign bishops, but bishops foreign and domestic who flout the Holy Canons. The canons are not shackles that bind our bishops (who have the power to bind and loose) but guidance from the saints we hymn as the Harps of the Spirit on how Christ's Church organized, how bishops relate to each other and those the shepherd, and the like.
Ultimately, if we are governed by bishops who take seriously their consecration oath, which includes not only obedience to their Holy Synod, but the defense of the Holy Canons, all will be well with the Church in America: jurisdictionalism will vanish into unity, the Church's finances will be transparent (read Canon 26 of the Council of Chalcedon and consider what in modern circumstances a bishop's steward would need to do to carry out his duties to ensure "that the goods of the church not be squandered, nor reproach brought upon the priesthood": he'd have to hire a team of outside auditors), and ultimately the American Church will have autocephaly (sooner if Met. Jonah's model is followed, later if Pat. Bartholemew's is).
Pray for our bishops, not only that they be granted many years, peace, health, salvation, visitation, and rightly dividing the word of truth, but that they fulfill their oaths before the Lord.
#5.2.1 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-25 06:08
Hey, look at that — a plausible traditional justification for transparency. I have long maintained on common-sense grounds that transparency is a pastoral requirement in America — but it's always better to be able to stand on the shoulders of the giants of the Ecumenical Councils.
In our place and day transparency would indeed need to characterize the "witness" of a steward: secrecy is now enough in itself to bring "reproach ... upon the priesthood."
I know nothing of the history of this canon, so I don't want to make any firm statements; but it seems a promising "lead," one that I hope someone with deeper background in the area will undertake to investigate and report upon.
#126.96.36.199 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-25 12:43
MP has noo problem accusing others of disobedience.
Now we see tha he has been the ONE for the last 40 years thumbing his NOSE at the Holy Canons, Holy Tradition, Holy Synod and Patriarch.
He has always had a way of painting others as the rebels.
Now we see.
Who would want to follow him.
Now is not the time for seeking any independence.
Now is the time to hold tightly to whatever semblance of ORDER still remains.
Obviously you are caught up in nothing more than a personality CULT (like so many Protestants who followed Jimmy Swagart or Jim Baaker.
#5.3 betrayed all over again on 2009-06-24 19:40
No, George from Brooklyn, this is not a Schmemann moment. Why not simply call it the most recent episode of hide the pea from a master of the shell game? Apparently I have the answer to the rhetorical question upthread: there is NOTHING too raw for some of Phillip's apologists to swallow, even if doing so requires tossing out Orthodox theology and anything approaching decency and good order in the Church.
I feel so very sorry for my Antiochian friends.
#5.4 Scott Walker on 2009-06-24 20:15
George, Met P. and Bashir might have said English in churchs, but the rule is not enforced. There are many Antiochian churches that use a great amount of Arabic. The argument being that there are people from the "old country" who do not understand English. How about the American born people in these churches who do not understand Arabic?
#5.5 anon on 2009-06-25 03:41
Over a two year period of regular attendance at the local largish Antiochian parish of some 500++, I observed liturgies that varied from 60% English to mostly Arabic and once every six weeks or so completely Arabic from start to finish. There was no way to predict in advance the language mix on any given Sunday – it was said that the priest took note of who was present at liturgy and decided on the spot the relative weight of English and Arabic he would use.
The parish was almost 100% ethnically Arab. It was composed of many recent immigrants but also contained many families who had immigrated a century ago and who spoke almost no Arabic but persisted in the parish due to their long association in the ethnic community.
We very reluctantly came to the conclusion that non-Arabs were not really welcome and that the language roulette played every Sunday functioned so as to drive out outsiders. The priest was always formally friendly, but distant. Our children were welcomed warmly by those running the Sunday School, but only a few adults ever acknowledged our presence during our time there.
So my experience doesn’t fit with the idea that policy has dictated that English be used “almost exclusively” in Antiochian parishes. A simple fix for the situation which would have made the parish more open to the community would have been the institution of a published schedule of services so that it could be known that, for example, the first Sunday of the month was mainly Arabic and the third Sunday was mainly English.
#5.5.1 language exile on 2009-06-25 06:28
Just to join the choir (singing bass), George, and for others of your mindset, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SCHMEMANN and for that matter has LITTLE IN COMMON WITH THE OCA, and what makes that evident in historical detail are the recent statements of Metroploitan Jonah.
One of other perhaps cruel tests on my part: how many in the AOCA see Antiochian Orthodoxy in the way that someone in the OCA sees their foundation in Russian Orthodoxy? One keeps hearing "They took me in." Why were people MADE to feel that way? The Church is not a concession stand.
Maybe what needs to be examined after all is that the AOCA was NEVER a center for Orthodox unity in North America. In fact, it was a great source for Orthodox disunity. The maneuvering/marketing required the "talents" of someone like Metroploitan Philip as well as a host of loyalists, converts many received en bloc and then "indebted" as well as a Synod in Damascus...perfectly capable of winking to a cash cow. This does also not inlclude the list of converts who suddenly became "the voices of Orthodoxy," at least one of them who came with a gig in the NPR.
I am quite tired of all this "now you really went and did it" as applied to Metropolitan Philip. Because EVERYONE went and did it.
The term "ennabling" applies.
The AOCA is doing more than breaking with a Mother Church even now; it is breaking with reality.
Like the Great Schism does one in the AOCA choose Feb 24 to be its 1054, when everyone knows the AOCA has its own Charlemagne? And not a few little Charlemagnes.
Orthodoxy in America will grow when it stops marketing itself to really very similar people who must suddenly feel like "insiders."
The first principle of a great con job is making the other party feel like an "insider."
This is very different than welcoming sinners and yes regular people, perhaps not that well-read or church savvy.
#5.6 Steve on 2009-06-25 15:14
You are correct that we're all in this together. You're also on to something very important concerning the enabling behavior. Please note, however, that some very important people, including Bishop Mark and Bishop Basil, are working hard to break the enabling cycle. I realize not all agree, especially those on another website, but that cycle is slowly starting to break down. What's more, these same people intend on putting good actions in motion. So, take heart, my friend. We are not without good people around us.
Could you imagine the team + Phillip and Kondratick would have made?
#5.6.2 Michael Geeza on 2009-06-29 13:26
So can we refuse to acknowledge any statements from our own Archdiocese unless they are signed by all our Bishops?
#6 Rdr Mo on 2009-06-24 16:40
I understand your comments about +Philip delaying tactics.
I don't know if it is really proper or necessary, but can someone from the Archdiocese request, then, the signatures of the Metropolitans who were there with the patriarch, as well?
Since +Philip seems so concerned about it can someone here or there, see to it that the Metropolitans sign, too?
In other words, don't give cause or excuse for Philip to delay or continue any more intrigue.
Just asking; not sure if this is desirable or not.
#7 Patty Schellbach on 2009-06-24 16:43
This latest attempt on +Philip's part to "grasp straws" again reminds me of the parallel behaviors of +Herman, when he realized his own house of cards was collapsing all around him! I recall gag orders, threats to clergy and intimidation tactics towards lay people (trying to get the woman whose Confessions were made public to sign a waiver, releasing the OCA from any responsibility). I just pray that the parallel continues to completion, with the Holy Spirit working to replace a less-than-pastoral person with a Metropolitan who takes the Gospel more seriously!
#8 David Barrett on 2009-06-24 16:45
+Philip challenges the validity of the document with the Patriarch's signature and seal!
He uses the February 24 decision as justification that all metropolitans who voted in favor of the resolution must sign the document. Perhaps he forgot that the February resolution lacked a quorum and had signatures of metropolitans who were not present as stipulated in the patriarchal constitution and by-laws. So who's he think he's fooling by demanding that the rules be followed. The Patriarch should not only be offended, but should demand a public apology from +Philip for casting shadows on his integrity.
In all sincerity one must question the mental stability of +Philip. It has been credibly reported the metropolitan has been enraged since the results of the synod decision were first given to him last Thursday.
With the forged document being authorized by +Philip to be posted on the Archdiocesan website, its continued appearance on the website and now his questioning of the Patriarch’s posting of the TRUE resolution, how much further is the metropolitan going to go? Certainly these are not the actions of a stable individual. His credibility, his veracity, his ability to lead, the respect of his hierarchical peers, the reverence of his flock, all of this is irretrievably lost.
“Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases!”
#9 Anonymous on 2009-06-24 16:48
It sure looks like +Philip has painted himself into a corner. It would have been easier to accept to document the way it was and then attempt to put a spin on it. Now he is up against the Patriarch. Perhaps Ignatius will fly over to Palm Springs? Wouldn't that be a dust up? There is so much bad blood that such an intervention should not be ruled out. Sadly the likely prospect is that many people will walk away from Orthodoxy because of this experience.
#10 Reader Polycarp on 2009-06-24 17:31
How much more can the people of the AOCA tolerate? I once suggested on this website that perhaps I should think about leaving. I was chided by another writer, and I meekly backed off even thinking about that option. I love my Church and my priest, and would not want to leave that place, and as it has been pointed out, some faithful Orthodox, because of their own situation, cannot find another Church near their homes. This terrible situation has had a terrible effect on my own spiritual life. I try hard to pray for all those involved, but when I see the antics of the Metropolitan and see the people around me who have been damaged by the controversy, I find that I am angry most of the time. All of these feelings are made worse by the presence of theantiochian.org and its very crazy and mean comments (many of them illiterate). I know that the best way to solve my situation is to withdraw from the internet, always a double edged sword. Of course it is an avenue for many crazy people, but it also has prevented +MP from once again running over his bishops and laity and assuming what is coming to look like what he regards as his imperial powers. It simply has to end, and soon, or Orthodoxy in our land will be seriously damaged for a long time.
#11 anon on 2009-06-24 17:32
#11.1 Kevin Klein on 2009-06-24 19:09
Don't be distracted by this. Internecine conflict is a fact of earthly life. Participate in the Eucharist. Venerate your icons. Say your prayers. The Church is bigger than this little episode.
I find the whole thing morbidly fascinating. Antioch agrees with +Basil and +Mark. The laity are up in arms. Why on earth is +Philip picking this particular fight? More accurately, why is he still fighting it? The man has been publicly rebuked by his own Patriarch and he still wants to take it to the mat. For whom? For what?
It's like that hilarious scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where the dark knight has both arms hacked off and gamely insists it's "just a flesh wound."
#11.2 Doug Smith on 2009-06-24 19:35
Metropolitan Philip does not have the power to take away the Church from us. We are the Church! I Corinthians 11:18-19 ". . . I hear there are divisions among you and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you."
#11.3 G. Sheppard on 2009-06-25 00:23
FYI, my comment at #18 (threaded mode) was intended as a response to you. Sorry for the slip.
#11.4 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-25 12:49
Could this get any weirder? I feel like I'm in an alternate reality.
#12 what on 2009-06-24 17:33
Met. Philip should not be allowed to retire and receive benefits from the Archdiocese, HE SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY DEPOSED!!!
#13 Anonymous on 2009-06-24 19:12
Breaking the physical, psychological, financial and spiritual bonds of medievalism is indeed a Herculean effort, and the purveyors of the same clearly do not intend to go quietly into the night. I concluded long ago that much that attempts to pass for Orthodox Christian tradition is little more than self-justification for preserving big and little fiefdoms. Perhaps the Spirit of God, far from being at the center of such ideas, stands wholly apart from them instead; waiting for them to fall so that fresh winds can finally blow, after centuries of stagnant air extant within their musty confines. Where the Spirit of God is, there is life and vitality, joy, respect and true love.
#14 Anon. on 2009-06-24 19:48
. . . at time to weep and a time to laugh. . .
Shall we laugh or weep?
Our Metropolitan, who mere months ago might have been hailed for his vision of Orthodox unity in North America, for his return within the Archdiocese to normal Orthodox ecclesiology with diocesan bishops ruling reasonable sized dioceses in which they could know not just their priests by their faithful as well, is behaving like a teenager caught in a lie.
All of the bishops received the text of the Holy Synod's decree at the same time. Realizing that it does not support his neo-papal ecclesiology, first Met. Philip delays in acknowledging it, then allows (directs?) childish forgeries to be posted on the Archdiocesan website, and allows them to remain even after they have been not merely debunked on the internet, but officially repudiated by His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV, and now he falls back on legalism--the decrees weren't signed by all those present at the meeting of the Holy Synod, so they aren't valid!
Is this the same Metropolitan whose contempt for 'legalism' was so evident in his treatment of our Chancellors? in his contempt for the Patriarchal Bylaw 13 that require 11 members of the Holy Synod be present for a meeting to be valid? in his contempt for the Holy Canons in permitted a priest to remarry while remaining in his orders? in going beyond his right to depose disobedient clergy in the Ben Lomond affair to excommunicate them as well in violation of the Canons?
Suddenly legalisms are the order of the day. My decree has more signatures than yours! And legalisms based only on custom and usage: the Patriarchal ByLaws and Constitution require the signatures of all present only on the minutes of meetings of the Holy Synod, not on synodal decrees. Of course, they also require a majority of the members be present for a meeting to be valid, but that legalism our Metropolitan sneers at. And it was only yesterday, that the Patriarch's signature cut-and-pasted onto forged decrees was enough.
Surely even the members of Met. Philip's inner circle see that this behavior is unsupportable! Could someone with his ear, please, ask His Eminence to resign for the good of the Archdiocese?
Of course, the last time a bishop set out to make himself a super-bishop, rendering all bishops of lesser sees his auxiliaries, there were forged documents, too, the 'Donation of Constantine', the 'Isidoran Decretals'. I am reminded of Marx's remark that when history repeats itself, the first time is tragedy, the second farce.
Unlike tragedies, farces are supposed to have happy endings. No schism this time, please: Sayedna Philip, for the sake of Christ and His Church, resign!
#15 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-24 21:49
"The Metropolitan has not actually refused to obey the decision - he just refuses to acknowledge the decision as authentic, that is, until his conditions for doing so are met."
Hmmmm, sounds like General MacArthur and the bonus march. Never got those orders not to cross that bridge, sorry about that....Get Philip some riding breeches & corncob pipe.
Things in Virtual Antioch are getting clearer all the time. It just makes SO MUCH SENSE to even NEED a translation of a document from around the world to tell you what the local Church should do in the US. Who could have doubted that the Church would develop such a rational way of doing things? This would make the first Ignatius of Antioch so proud of his namesake. It goes without saying that he would have come up with these ideas if he'd been clever enough.
#16 Ba'ab on 2009-06-24 21:53
I'd still like to know what started this whole mess. There surely must be more behind this than Metr. Philip's cronies in Detroit being annoyed with Bp. Mark for Metr. Philip to be wasting his entire 40-plus year legacy of achievement on such a sad display of arrogance.
#17 Nemo on 2009-06-24 22:30
The third party observer asks the same question. I'd have to say that a few strong minded fellows in Detroit caused the Metropolitan's misstep. Unity meant removing a Bishop by my read.
The easiest way for MP to manage his way out of things now is to simply say okay to the Patriarch. Since he didn't, it now appears that he isn't pleased with the final decision and it gives the appearance that he initiated the original planning.
Not an easy way to get out for him at all.
If I were Bishop Mark, I'd be inviting Metropolitan Philip over for tea about now.
Unless he just says okay, whatever...
#17.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-06-25 19:54
Well, perhaps you could back away from The Antiochian , anyway. For my part, I am tired of the ranters. For a while now, the only reason I've been participating has been to counter errors that sound reasonable enough to mislead. There are barely any of those anymore.
In any event, perhaps it's better for you not to leave your parish. For one thing, it could influence other members to follow — the weaker of which might not bother finding another community. For another, if you can collect yourself for others' sake, the damaged people around you could probably use some brotherly support. And, finally, the priest — who can't leave — certainly needs support, which you show merely by staying. (It's easy to forget the humanity of our clergy, but it is deeply painful for them when, in crisis, they lack the comfort of their flocks' loyalty.)
"One Christian is no Christian."
Also: you, like me, are being provoked to ungodly anger, but that is not our real problem. Our real problem is (as we know!) the passion of anger within us. Leave, and this passion will probably pipe down — your spiritual life will certainly seem to improve! — but you'll still have it in you.
You might say the Met. has done us favor — he's shown us a sickness lurking within us. Granted, sometimes one isn't ready to face a passion straight-on and does need to simply suppress its symptoms. But perhaps now is a good time to go see the Doctor about it all, through Confession, Communion, and some blunt and honest prayer.
For your consideration — and my apologies if you've been over all this already!
#18 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-25 02:12
I have no doubts about the sincerity of your post and would never dissuade someone from making a good confession. But anger is not the only "sickness" within us. Nor is this the first time for Metropolitan Philip to "act out." Read the Lives of the Saints where they were outraged, and rightfully so, or for that matter, some of the letters of St. Paul.
If American Orthodox do not examine their attraction to controlfreakery, personalities and hyperclericalism whether they stay or leave it will be more of the same.
No need to seek out "spiritual fathers" who wind up being spiritual frauds, when what we need is simply a confessor...
As for someone staying or leaving, that is a personal choice. Laypeople do not belong to jurisdictions...
Frankly though I myself think leaving may be the best option.
I have also grown somewhat tired of facile comparisons with the OCA, especially since for years. not simply now, there has been spotty pastoral sense from Damascus.
#18.1 Steve on 2009-06-25 05:35
First off, I put this in the wrong spot — it was supposed to be a reply to #11 (threaded mode).
I think you are right that there is a place for godly anger here, but the poster was saying that the particular anger he was feeling was dragging down his spiritual life. Maybe he was wrong about that, at least in part — something I should have considered.
As for someone staying or leaving, that is a personal choice. Laypeople do not belong to jurisdictions...
This is a very weird circumstance we are all in. Of course it's true that laymen don't "belong to jurisdictions" as such, or as clergy do. But if we had a properly organized Church in America, this wouldn't even be a question. Then I suppose all a layman could do would be to go to another parish. This, really, is what I was asking the poster to reconsider.
What I said was not about "belonging to" someone or something or about power-relationships of any kind. Actually, it was mostly about fraternal, not hierarchical relations — it's good to think of the people around us in the parish, just as we would in any kind of community.
In suggesting consideration of the priest, I certainly was not thinking in terms of obedience or personal loyalty. On the contrary (as I'd hoped would be clear) I was emphasizing that one's priest, too, is also a fellow human being toward whom we should be compassionate. In one of many Christian paradoxes, our fathers are also our brothers.
Maybe my experience is singular, but I have found that people sometimes forget this, precisely because of clericalism: the priest is seen as a sort of ironclad figure who doesn't have spiritual struggles, because he has that cassock on. (He's a professional, after all.)
#18.1.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-25 13:17
The words "stay to support the priest" so that "others will not follow you out?" are of great concern. This good-intentioned but mistaken attitude has allowed "clericalization' to continue unabated. The Spirit of Truth " will lead you into all the Truth" (Jn 16:13). Gather under right-believing Bishops whatever jurisdiction, and find a good right-believing priest teaching directly from the Fathers of our Faith-not an "ecclesiology" of some sort. A jurisdiction should not be the object our allegiance; our love and allegiance belong to our Chief Shepherd, Christ our Lord. We pray at each Divine Liturgy for "Right-believing Bishops, " not ALL bishops, implying that the latter are among us. Nearly every heresy was initiated by a Bishop. Let's honor and worship the Lord Jesus Christ as Head of our Holy Church, not a bishop or Metropolitan.
#18.2 " Anonymust" on 2009-06-25 08:02
First, let me emphasize that I never dictated to the poster what he ought to do. On the contrary, I offered several points for consideration, and closed by acknowledging that he might already have weighed those points and concluded appropriately that, all things considered, it would still be best to leave .
As to clericalism and jurisdictional loyalty in general, please see my reply to Steve, above.
To address your specific complaint: I never said that one must always stay where one is. Especially, if a bishop is preaching heresy, the fathers are perfectly plain about the appropriateness of separation from him. The faith is greater than any man, and we must always love Christ above all.
Frankly, that statement is so obvious that it isn't in need of a defense — even the admin at The Antiochian agrees with it. And, besides, what is the heresy here? Which of the bishops is not "right-believing"? I continue to affirm that a person might have good reasons to leave the AOCA. But, until it is proved otherwise, I must insist that heresy is not one of them.
#18.2.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-25 13:48
My hope and prayer is that people, seeing all of this, will not decide, in a moment, to leave a Church that has endured this and much more and still survives. It is precisely because of Her depth and richness, Her orthodoxy, that She has endured and will continue. Someday these things will pass but all that is good and right about Orthodoxy will remain, perhaps even enhanced through this fire.
I've been wondering, sometimes, about the meaning of all of this. Another person who has written here has used the word "surreal" to describe this and I agree. Everything about this seems "off" , strange, and unholy. We talk about people and their actions, and we should, but there seems to be something deeper and darker behind this that touches us all with fear, pride, confusion, and anger. These things are not the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
I ponder, as well, where the hand of God may be in all of this and have only come to some small inkling which may in fact be wrong. The scriptures tell us that from time to time God, in love allows His children to be chastened so that they can participate in His holiness and enjoy the fruit of righteousness (Hebrew 12:3-17). This is not a pleasant thing, according to the text, but still is a sign of God's love and care for us and His desire for our growth.
Could it be that the troubles in both the OCA and the Antiochian Archdiocese were allowed for our benefit, not just the pain of looking at ourselves without illusions and discovering ourselves wanting but rather that we American Orthodox, rich and too often complacent would become the holy, pure, and dynamic community of Faith we are called to be?
As our culture, often aided by a weak and impotent Christianity, drifts into quasi-paganism and false religion of materialism only a strong and vital community of Christians may stem the tide. Perhaps we need to wake up, face ourselves as we are, do the work of purification required in both ourselves and our institutions, and be ready to answer the call. If all things were well would we have done this work? Perhaps only in the flame of adversity will this happen.
Of course I'm speculating. I'm neither prophet or saint. Yet since the beginning of all of this I've been trying to see where God would be in all of this and perhaps, or perhaps not, this is part of the answer. If it is I have a lot of work to do.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
I agree with you Father that given the severity of the situation and it's tragic fallout, God must be earnestly and prayerfully sought in all of this. I am permitted to be angry, (as long as it remains without sin) frustrated, flummoxed, puzzled, saddened and the like. This is certainly expected and understandable. But, as my spiritual adviser once wisely told me, I must NEVER give myself over to despair, because that is the work of the devil himself. Despair paralyzes and we will come away from this with nothing but a handful of spent emotions.
#19.1 Joseph Sechsbundel on 2009-06-25 09:43
I am not so gentle or so holy and pious as Father John.
Piffle. Nonsense. Balderdash. That's what we have been getting from +Philip, and that's what I see being spouted all too often here.
Running away to another jurisdiction will not solve any problems. You will simply exchange these problems for an entirely different set.
Language isn't the problem either. Language can be used to enrich, or divide. Sure, some people, even some priests use it to divide. In my Parish, there has always been a wonderful mix of languages that has brought different people together. I probably know 20-30 words of Arabic, but they are all words spoken in worship (well, except for a handful that I wouldn't use in polite company). But everyone in the parish knows all the responses in Greek, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, and Romanian. Language and culture and ethnicity bring us together.
The godmother for my wedding is a wonderful Lebanese woman and my wife and I love her family greatly. She told me the other day how much she has loved all the clergy in our parish. Pretty much all the clergy she knows are converts. She talks about our church and how it is truly international in flavor.
It didn't get their overnight. It started out as hidebound and ethnic as they come. But God led converts in the door. And they were stubborn and they stayed. And God led more converts in at was easier for them. By the time I got there 25 years ago it was quite welcoming. Now, I don't think anyone would know what to do if ANY ethnic group took up and left en masse.
What I worry for is our clergy. +Philip could pop them around in a second as punishment. He deposed and defrocked a lot of people so Joe Allen could remain a priest after marrying a woman from his own parish he 'counseled' through a divorce. So I don't blame any of our clergy who are running scared. Because those of you who are decrying them, are you ready to pay their salary, their health insurance, when they are without a job or a way to make a living?
Me, I can speak out, because I do so without my priests blessing so he cannot be faulted for what I say. I've been around enough priests to know what could happen to them, or to me.
We are going to HAVE to stand up for our priests. Just like we would stand up for our parents if they were threatened. My bishop is standing firm. I'm going to stand with him. And as long as my priest is allowed to remain where he is, I will remain here as well.
Someone has to struggle and fight and demand that our beautiful Orthodox Church be cleansed of the stain. Not run every time the going gets rough.
I'm more the down and dirty type. So for me these contention is not so distressing as angering. It is a failing of mine I am sure, but I cheer when Christ clears the temple of the moneychangers.
I think it is time for cheering, not for hiding....
I don't understand why people still say they are diocesan, there is no mention or hint to that. All it did was re-affirm the Feb 24, 2009 by stating they are to assist the Metropolitan.
I am really sick of this subject and have mostly moved on to better things in the Church. I am proud of Metropolitan PHILIP because he is playing the same game back that was played on him in the first place.
(editor's note: Sorry, you are wrong. First, the Synod rejected the word auxiliary applied to the bishops, and stated clearly all bishops are equal. The bishops, therefore, are diocesan bishops given the task to assist the Metropolitan, as any bishops are to assist the primate of their local synod. To read the decision otherwise is tendentious.
Secondly, the Gospel does not tell us to give back what we were given: rather we are to turn the other cheek. Adopting lower moral and ethical standards is not the solution to our troubles.)
#20 William on 2009-06-25 06:16
Yes, I agree all bishops are of the same Nature yet roles are different within each Archdiocese, correct? Therefore wouldn't they be Auxilaries to the Metropolitan. The Patriarchate did not retract the Feb 24, 2009 decision, it just said all are the same in NATURE which is 100% true. Nature is different than role. Yet the Patriarchate states they are to assist the Metropolitan.
I am using both the Feb 24, 2009 as a pretext of the June 17, 2009 resolution because it was pertaining to the Feb 24, 2009 resolution.
Regardless. I follow the Synod's decision, whatever they say I am obedient regardless. That is how I was raised in the faith of Christianity. So diocesan or auxilary, the title to me doesn't matter much, they are all still my bishops. Thank God for that at least, right?
Editor's note: Blind obedience is not the solution here, William, no matter how genuine and well intended. That is not Christianity, but ideology. )
#20.1 William on 2009-06-25 09:04
Answer me exactly how that most recent Patriarchal Resolution did not re-affirm the first Feb 24, 2009 resolution. It said Auxilary in the first and re-affirmed it by stating to assist. It has nothing to do with the spiritual nature of a bishop.
(editor's note: Here goes: The point of June 17th is that it did not say "auxiliary". Indeed, the Synod specificially avoided that word, when they clearly had the opportunity to do so. That would mean they do not think the Bishops are auxiliaries. Period.
Now, what they think the Bishops are, has still to be fully clarified - the Synod seems to have said that things are as they were before February 24th attempted to change things. Consider for the time being as an apophatic pronouncement. That is, the Synod is willing to say what the bishops are not ( auxiliaries) but not what they fully are ( other than equal, and to assist each other.) In a sense, its very Orthodox, and a bit confusing.)
#20.1.1 William on 2009-06-25 11:41
I did not realize that point. That they specifically did not state it maybe on purpose when they had the chance to. Good point. That makes more sense in that aspect.
#188.8.131.52 William on 2009-06-25 14:13
June 17 was the refinement of Feb 24th without embarassing MP.
MP was the one who used the word auxiliary.
As an auxiliary MP could possibly move a Bishops unilaterally for no reason at all.
An auxilairy would be seen as an assistant Bishop (this would be by nature, as though there was something lacking inthat they are not full bishops)
By stating all bishops are the same, the Holy Synod recognized that all bishops are equal and lack nothing.
If a bishop is called to assist another bishop, such as MP, he does so as a brother, not as an inferior.
MP cannot endure brothers.
If MP knew how to be a bother we would have NO PROBLEMS in the AOCA.
#20.1.2 anonymous on 2009-06-25 12:09
I think you meant "brother," not bother, in the last line
If any one of us becomes too much of a bother, we become a problem.
I suspect that resolution of this mess is going to require a direct statement from the Patriarch that the Feb. 24 decision was not intended to affect, and does not affect, the diocesan status of the NA bishops. The pro-Philip forces are claiming that even without the fraudulently added words the recent Synodal statement only “clarifies” the Feb 24 decision, and does not overturn their interpretation of that decision, which is that our bishops are now auxiliaries.
A no-confidence letter from our Bishops to the Holy Synod is also needed, in response to +Philip's shenanigans. At this point our Bishops should be more concerned about preserving the Church than preserving what (if any) shreds of +Philip's dignity now remain.
#21 JPS on 2009-06-25 06:38
why do you say that the resolutions are on the archdiocese website. the metropolitan was acting out of caution as the other forged documents had only the patriarch signature. he is waiting for all signatures. he doesnt have the other resoultins online as you claim. he wants to see that all have signed the resolution just as it was done on feb 24. stop spinning things mark. go to hell.
(editor's note: Look again on the Archdiocesan site. The false documents appear on two places on the front page still - under the title "Synodal Resolutions" on the Featured Articles header, and in the far right column, under a link to "summary of posts of the decisions of the Holy Synod...." . That is not spin, that is fact.)
#22 Anonymous on 2009-06-25 07:33
The Metropolitan is embarrassed right now because people screwed him over by sending these in the first place. If you do not have common sense than so be it. Since he got screwed, he is playing the same game back in regards to the signatures because if these are not real documents that were sent to him than he needs that clarified by means of all metropolitans signatures. He is being smart about this.
People loyal to Metropolitan PHILIP? What does that mean. It is not about the person, it's about the Church in general. I support the Church, what the Church says goes in my book. I am going with the Church in general, not a person and I believe there are many clergy and laity that think the same, and I pray that is the case for those supporting the reversal of Feb 24.
I float with the ship, I go to church in a big ark and I follow where the sea takes me.
#23 William on 2009-06-25 09:09
If poor Phillip was taken in by a hoax, why are the bogus documents still on the Archdiocesan website? One might expect an honest man to take them down immediately, once he knew they were fraudulent. There are none so blind as those who will not see. Blind obedience isn't obedience at all, but it is blind.
#23.1 Scott Walker on 2009-06-25 12:20
I'm tired of this game. +Philip plays it all the time. He always leaves himself an out.
Look, +MP was warned by his own secretary not to post those fraudulent documents. Furthermore, he does know Arabic, correct? Wouldn't he find it amazing that such a butchered document would actually be sent by the Patriarch?
+Philip knows exactly what he is doing. You are making him into some idiot that was duped. While I don't like what he has done, there is one thing I will never say about him: that he is an idiot. He's not, and only an idiot would post these documents if he didn't know the sender.
#23.2 Anonymous on 2009-06-25 13:32
William, if Met. Philip is so embarrassed by the fradulent documents, why is there still a link to the pdf file containing them on the Archdiocesan website, albeit no longer on the main page, after both their online debunking and the Patriarchal repudiation of them?
Christ bade us be like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but the English "child-like" captures what He meant, not "childish". Somehow the Patriarch's signature alone was good enough on the faked documents that supported +Philip's neo-papal claims, but when they don't, documents form the Holy Synod have to have all the signatures, even though the Bylaws of the Patriarchate require all signatures of those present only on the minutes of the Holy Synod. Demanding that a quorum be present for a meeting of the Holy Synod to be valid is too 'legalistic' for Met. Philip, even though it's in the Bylaws (remember those, the document whose amendment forms the basis for +Philip's demoting bishops in violation of the canons?), but now a he takes refuge behind a legalism base on custom only, and you call it 'smart'.
Maybe wise as a serpent it is, but hardly harmless as a dove.
#23.3 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-25 13:54
The true question is wherein lies God's church, not in what +Philip seems to be doing. My own answer to that question is that I shall follow the Patriarch and my Diocesan Bishop. The others appear to have separated themselves from the historical Orthodox path that has held the Church of Christ on course for over 2,000 years.
I do find it interesting, just as an aside, that the recent turmoil in the OCA and now in the AOCA are happening in such close proximity. One has to wonder if there is a Divine Plan in this as yet to be revealed? The church will come out of this stronger. These growing pains may be necessary for we in America to better bring the truth of Orthodoxy to this continent.
#24 Alexei on 2009-06-25 09:53
I am quite bothered by your last three words, “go to hell.” Are you saying that just because someone doesn’t agree with you that they should be delivered to everlasting torment in the unquenchable fires of hell? How can a true Christian wish this upon anyone, even to an atheist? (And I’m not implying that any of these posters are atheists, otherwise they wouldn’t be at this site in the first place.) We should encourage one another to “Go to Heaven” by praying for each other, and more importantly, by setting a good example. As for you and what you have said, may you find repentance and forgiveness from our Great God!
#25 Anonymous on 2009-06-25 10:10
Note: This post was intended to be a reply to post #22.
#25.1 Anonymous on 2009-06-26 19:20
Mr. Stokoe asks, somewhat rhetorically perhaps, whom the Antiochian clergy intend to follow. Since he appears to have phrased this as a multiple choice question, my very non-rhetorical reply is d) All of the above. (The Patriarch and the Synod, Metropolitan Philip, and my Bishop, Joseph.) I urge as many as possible to mark the same on their ballots.
Please allow me to be a bit of a broken record and go back to that "sense of history" I mentioned in my last comment, #29 in the thread entitled "Did the Patriarch really say that?"
I believe that quote from Buchan is truly profound.
Those who have read the Bible (such as Paul's speech to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20) know that the road to eternity lies through lots of tribulations from inside and outside the church, and that, as Paul later wrote to the same church it is necessary to give diligence to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3)
Why is it necessary to give diligence to this essential task? Because the devil always seeks to divide Christians and it takes great diligence to overcome his wiles, our own passions, and all the short term incentives to divide.
The one aspect of Buchan's quote with which I would slightly disagree is his judgment that the Puritan sought "less to erect and unite than to pull down and separate." To the extent that he was saying that the combined effect of the Puritan temperament and presuppostions was to pull down and separate, I think he was spot on. To the extent that he was saying the Puritan set out to have those effects, I think he was too harsh.
It is those largely unspoken presuppositions and our own unconfronted and unhealed passions, from the highest to the lowest among us, that get us in trouble and prime us to do the opposite (pull down and separate) of what we tell ourselves we intend (erect and unite). Pride, fear, anger, resentment, discouragement, impatience and lack of faith all impel all of us in the direction of hasty pronouncements, counter-productive actions, demands for immediate and categorical results, threats of what we will do if we do not get our way.
You Steves out there who sigh so piously and dramatically about leaving being the best option. Have you read and absorbed anything about the New Testament Church? Maybe, just maybe, you too are supposed to deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow a Via Dolorosa right here and now.
The Galatians had to grapple with Judaizers who were trying to misrule others with an amalgam of Christ and the Mosaic law. The Corinthians had disorder at their feasts, misunderstandings of the spiritual gifts including tongues, divisions basd on loyalty to Paul, Apollos or whoever, litigation among themselves, etc. The Romans were divided and judging one another over meat offered to idols. Titus and Timothy had huge pastoral problems to deal with.
More than enough to get a Steve to leave, no? As the patron of this parish sorrowfully wrote of the leavers of his own day, "they went out from us , but they were not really of us..." (I John 2:19)
Back in the day, Ben Lomond 1998, I experienced first hand the tremendous difficulty of trying to have love, patience, wisdom and focus enough to hold people together in the bond of peace when they were pulling wildly in different directions. I was completely unable to do anything of the sort, and no doubt annoyed many on all "sides" with my attempts. Ultimately it sort of pulled me apart, and the resulting explosion spoiled something that, despite its great but subtle flaws, was pretty promising.
The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity,set on fire by hell itself, St. James tells us. (James 3) With it we bless God (and orthodox purity) and curse men who appear for the moment to be on the other side of a tough problem.
"Be not many of you teachers"
(i.e. bold posters on the internet?) James exhorts at the beginning of the chapter. For our own sakes in avoiding stricter judgment, and for the benefit of the church. What does the misuse of the tongue and the resulting quarrels lead to in the Church? Bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, arrogance, lies. (James 3:14)
The leaders of our Church know what is at stake. Some may be inclined to play a game of ecclesiatical "chicken" with one another to get what they want, i.e. their own way without any interference. Seems to me that is the same basic road taken by the competing parties in all the smash-ups, splits and fights of church history that I ever studied. And patience, humility, conciliarity the roads taken by those who were able to avoid those collisions.
In the book Hymn of Entry Archimandrite Vasileios explains how the true government of the Church involves us all sharing power appropriate to our respective stations. Each party to the sharing of power using it in harmony with the others, even as the Trinity - in which no one dominates, is less than any other, or indpendent of any other. A tough recipe to follow, but when we do the taste is exquisite.
My great desire is to see the legacy of Met. Philip cemented by the outcome of this process, the peaceful resolution of a truly thorny problem in grace-filled power sharing, so that all parties from Damascus to Englewood to LA and points in between has the power, respect and humility necessary to do his job, and for that resolution to be perhaps the crowning achievement of a most constructive era, and a strong foundation for the next. The alternative - which at the very least would surely involve the drying up of the steady stream of young men in North America seeking ordination under Antioch - is something I do not want to contemplate.
And as an aside to AFOC - please contact me in Orinda.
#26 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-06-25 10:25
I just wanted to respond to one aspect of your recent post. You say that you want to follow "all of the above," that is, Patriarch Ignatius, the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Philip, and Bishop Joseph. Ideally, of course, there would be no conflict with such an approach. However, when one or more of those parties choose to stray from the right path, we are, unfortunately, forced to make choices.
Metropolitan Philip has clearly crossed a line, placing himself in opposition to the Patriarch and the Holy Synod. He has done this before, in the constitutional controversy of 2003-04, but in that case, he controlled to flow of information to such an extent that the people of the Archdiocese were, in the main, ignorant of the real issues of the conflict.
Such is not the case today. We may no longer bury our heads in the sand and act as if no hard choices face us. I know that many clergy and people would still like to remain "neutral." But what can be said of "neutrality" between right and wrong? Are we not, as Christians, called to discern the right and defend it? Are we not, as Orthodox, called to follow and obey those leaders who themselves follow and obey our Lord Jesus Christ?
I am afraid the time for neutrality has passed. You may follow the Patriarch and the Holy Synod, or you may follow Metropolitan Philip. You cannot have it both ways.
#26.1 Ferris Haddad on 2009-06-25 12:58
You know... It is so typical of the self-righteous to wrap unloving things in loving words. Please get over it Father. Have we read the New Testament? Do we know anything about the New Testament Church?
Yes we know about the Church and we have read the New Testament. For example:
Jesus said, "Let you yes be yes and your no be no." In other words, don't lie. When you say "yes", it should be "yes" without having to qualify the "yes" further.
St. Paul said in 1 Timothy 3: "Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an bishop he desires a noble task. Now the bishop must be above reproach, ... temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money... He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap."
We no longer see these qualities in Metropolitan Philip. He has violated our faith and our trust. It is time for him to make a public apology and resign his position within the hierarchy of the Church.
He will have our forgiveness as Christians and we will pray for his well-being, but he can no longer lead.
#26.2 Anonymous on 2009-06-25 13:20
The bishop should be "above reproach, ... temperate, self-controlled". Looks like some of these 'job requirement' attributes are missing in a certain bishop.
#26.2.1 yanni on 2009-06-27 15:11
While your expose is beautiful, the real world doesn't work this way.
First, you misrepresent the early church. There was great division and chaos and always has been--and probably always will be. Sometimes, for the sake of unity, Paul said that certain members must be cut off, at least for a time, hoping that they would repent. We should not confuse unity and peace in the Church with the approach that everyone is welcome to do whatever they please.
We cannot follow all of our bishops at the same time. They are divided and headed in different directions. We cannot follow the Holy Synod and +Philip, unless one of them changes positions. It's simply impossible at this point.
Regarding +Philip's legacy, it is questionable at best. Besides, I am not interested in helping anyone's legacy. The church is not about his legacy, my legacy, or your legacy. The church is about Jesus Christ: his life, his work, his ministry, his teaching. The majority of problems in churches result from our egos and our desire for a legacy. If we were more concerned about Jesus Christ than legacies we wouldn't have these problems.
Finally, I would point out that you are dead wrong about seminarians drying up. Have you spoken to many of them lately? The only thing that is going to dry them up is if nothing is done with +Philip. They are disillusioned, and can you blame them? Who wants to work for a self-serving, corrupt boss? Who wants to work for someone who promotes fraudulent documents for his own benefit? Certainly not our seminarians (or most of our priests, for that matter).
Speaking of seminarians, most of them are scandalized by +Philip's diocese and East Coast Orthodoxy. Most of them can't wait to see +Philip go, especially after this disaster that began on February 24. Most of them have seriously questioned giving up what they have given up to serve under +Philip.
But they didn't go to seminary because of +Philip. They came to seminary because they were inspired by people like their diocesan bishops and parish priests who promote not themselves, but authentic Orthodoxy.
If you want to dry up the seminarians, then sit back and do nothing and think that you have a united church. And perhaps you will, because there will be so few of you left.
#26.3 An East Coast Priest on 2009-06-25 13:28
I have great respect for you and appreciate your many thoughtful postings on this site. I accept your invitation to look within my own heart to help ensure that I am contributing to a peaceful resolution to this matter.
Unfortunately, I am failing in this regard. Please forgive me and pray for me.
We should indeed approach this matter in love and mercy, but we must also acknowledge any wrongdoing forthrightly and hold the wrongdoers accountable. To be honest, I am troubled by your seeming unwillingness to acknowledge in clear and unequivocal terms the manifest wrongdoing at the highest level of our archdiocese.
You have probably read the Chancellors’ opinion dismantling the February 24th decision. As a lawyer yourself, do you agree with the Chancellors that the decision and the attempted ratification thereof are invalid and inapplicable to our archdiocese? Are you willing to state, as the Chancellors have, that the failure of our hierarchs and board to defend the archdiocese constitution is a breach of trust?
You are a trusted and respected member of our clergy. Your word carries weight with many people. Would you be willing to answer these questions on the record, if you have not already done so?
Thank you in advance.
You have my respect and my prayers
#26.4 An unworthy admirer on 2009-06-25 13:52
Fater George, I have read all your posts and know many of your parishioners (admirers and Not)! Your position is only strengthened by your alllegiance to Met P. and Bishop Joseph. We are told you are soon leaving and your posts only are given to strengthen your possible remaining in your parish. (for many reasons, Lord bless you.) Met. Philip, yes, sould GO, and YOU know it. As a "lawyer" read Timeline - what dimension are you on? Archdiocese (englewood) denial ??!
#26.4.1 Anonymous Parishionewr of another Ant. Parish on 2009-06-25 18:15
Father, I won't sigh or be pious here.
Your comparisons from St. Paul's Letters... do they really apply here to this situation or other "situations" in the AOCA? Would you like me to be more specific? The Father Allen matter? Feb 24 and the crisis now in leadership, are these simply questions of worship or doctrine? Or even simply "personalities" at this point?
As for the "New Testament Church": is Orthodoxy simply "the New Testament Church?" I don't think so.
I sympathize but please do not presume to advise me or anyone what their cross is or ought to be. I find such a statement at this time actually repugnant, and one more example, of the sort of controlfreakery that characterizes much of American Orthodoxy.
#26.5 Steve on 2009-06-25 21:52
I'll be in touch.
The thing is, this all depends on what you mean by "follow" — and what the bishops under discussion mean by "follow." It's easy enough to say that you're "following" Met. Philip by being the best priest you can, or some such thing. But if "following" him means not commemorating your diocesan bishop, who expects it, then there is a dilemma. And that is a rosy scenario — assuming the present situation remains static. It may be that Met. Philip will try to reassign Bp. Mark or some parish priest.
And you are talking about "grace-filled power-sharing," but it seems the time for that consideration is not now. To say that this is not about the Feb. 24th decision, really, but about the Trinity and the bond of peace is a little like telling a criminal client that the issue isn't the verdict, really, but rather the existential relationship and practical interaction he'll have with the outside world for the next twelve to fifteen years.
Before the 24th, the other bishops had voluntarily ceded a remarkable degree of their authority to the Metropolitan. Even when (as reported by the Timeline) he forced the issue of transferring clergy on a divided synod, there was no public complaining. But Met. Philip was not content with this situation, in which power was distributed by mutual agreement, nor is he prepared to return to it. He would rather put himself on a collision course with the Patriarch, even, then go back.
Your mention of "playing chicken" doesn't take this last point into account. If before it was Met. Philip and Bp. Mark with dueling translations, now it is Met. Philip and the Patriarch.
I also would like to see the fruitfulness of the past decades cemented. But it is now impossible for me, even in tones of maximum charity and discretion, to speak as though this fruitfulness is identical to "the legacy of Met. Philip." His legacy includes that, yes, but it also includes a spirit of autocracy, one far deeper and stronger than I had realized. It is this spirit that he now seems with all his might to be trying to impose on the Archdiocese now and for the future.
In short, it appears that cementing the best of Met. Philip's legacy now requires us to more or less defy the wishes of man himself.
#26.6 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-26 11:05
It is hard to post here with candor under one's own name on big, hot button issues I do not think are amenable to truly constructive resolution in this forum. Some of the time I think I may make things worse by saying what little can be said, and at others I think perhaps I might make it a little better for some.
So I nibble around the edges and try to point out here or there to the advocates of both departure and pitched battle that those are not good solutions. Neither are apathy or venting.
Nor bad-mouthing leaders, nor choosing sides. Nor impatience.
Much of what goes on here seems to take its cue from the media world of secular politics and dialogue, where the average voter readily gossips about, trashes and ridicules the governors of NY, SC, etc. at the drop of a hat - or, in the case of Illinois, the drop of a hair-do.
Is that the actual calling of the "average voter" in Christ? Here we are dealing with leaders who - if we believe what we say we believe - are ALL actually part of me and you from the highest bishop to the lowest layman. When one member suffers all suffer.
The ancient cautionary oath of the medical profession included the words "above all do no harm." God is always in the business of changing us and the institutions that spring from our very human efforts. History teaches us that our species is all too ready to inflict mortal wounds on both institutions and others - and unwittingly on one's self - in promoting or resisting change.
This is about power-sharing in Christ. If we cannot share power with peace, wisdom, dignity, firmness, and mutual respect then the Gospel we proclaim will once again look like a joke to our kids and to potential converts, many people will vote with feet and wallets, and the cause that we say we are advancing will have to retreat once again.
Two friends from BL days have died this past week, the grandchildren arrive this coming week and I have a lot of real work to do today ....and every day. See you later.
#26.6.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-06-27 07:50
Speaking for myself...
I am deeply troubled by my Bishop's (+MP's) conduct.
So I will pray. I will ask questions. I will consult with those attending the national convention from my parish, and attend myself if I must. I'll speak out, withhold contributions, etc. at the appropriate time. I won't be silenced and I won't be fooled.
But I won't panic. I won't despair. I won't change parishes or bishops or jurisdictions -- not out of some misguided "loyalty" but because I expected this when I became Orthodox. It's called sin, and I would discover it again wherever I went -- not least because I would be there.
I realize some families and parishes will face more difficult circumstances than mine, and I don't presume to judge anyone. But silent obedience or some notion of "voting with your feet" are both misguided approaches.
#27 Also in Brooklyn on 2009-06-25 12:32
Also in Brooklyn said:
"But silent obedience or some notion of "voting with your feet" are both misguided approaches."
Good and wise comments, but don't you at the same time have trouble with receiving communion under a hierarchy that seems concerned primarily with worldly power and is willing to commit silly forgeries assuming it's laity is so dim-wiited as to not see through it all? I do.
The OCA scandal involved the sins of the passions: the desire for money, sex, etc. We all are afflicted with that. The Antiochian situation seems far worse to me, as it threatens a true fissure in the administration of Christ's Church.
#27.1 Stu Harris on 2009-06-26 21:25
Chosing to attend a different parish or to withhold financial support is one thing, and entirely legitimate. Refusing sacramental union with Christ and his Church is another.
From the beginning, the Church has affirmed that the personal sins and failings of clergy and heirarchs do NOT affect the validity (for lack of a better word) of the sacraments. She has even condemned this belief (that such failings of the clergy invalidate the sacrament) as the heresy of Donatism.
In the Church, we are all united together, saints and sinners alike. If we will only accept communion from and with those we personally consider worthy, are we not setting ourselves and our judgement higher than the Holy Tradition of the Church?
At the height of the OCA scandal, I myself faced the same dilemma, as I found myself in line to receive Holy Communion from the hands of Met. Herman. At that moment, the words of Christ came to mind: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get." [Matthew 7:1-2, RSV] I had to ask myself, am I so perfect that I can judge who is worthy to receive the Lord's Body and Blood with me?
#27.1.1 John Congdon on 2009-06-29 08:58
It doesn't bother me that the questionable documents are still on the archdiocese web site. After all, they're part of a historical record now and if they were dumped people like me would draw conclusions from that, too. But if it is is true that the archdiocese office is admitting on the phone that there are "concerns" over their validity, why isn't a statement about the nature of those concerns there also? And why no link to the statement on the Patriarchate of Antioch's own website? And why no word yet from Bp. Joseph, our official representative at this Synod meeting (or so the archdiocese web site claimed in advance when they announced +Philip's illness)? Questions, and more questions. Maybe a lot of this confusion is because the powers-that-be are still thinking with snail mail assumptions in an twitter world?
#28 anonymous antiochian layman on 2009-06-25 14:51
The Documents sent via COURIER and again by EMAIL are also Histircal RECORDS.
Why are they NOT POSTED?
#28.1 anon and anon on 2009-06-26 08:55
I have been looking at the document that Metropolitan Philip said was the February 24th decision. I do not know Arabic so I cannot make head or tails about the substance of the document but I can see that:
It is copy of a fax that contained the following top line fax information: From Fr. Dimas (then the Secretary of the Holy Synod); it had two phone numbers, both of which contain the international call prefix for Damascus, Syria; and the date of February 25, 2009, shortly after midnight local time.
The document that was faxed was a blank sheet of paper, not a letterhead of the Patriarchate. It also did not contain the Patriarchal seal.
It was this document that was published along with a cover letter from, and an English version by, the Metropolitan on February 26th. The cover letter stated "This decision was adopted by the Holy Synod of Antioch which was convened at the Patriarchate in Damascus, February 24th, 2009." Then, it also stated "...Since this was a special Synod meeting with only one item on the agenda concerning the bishops, the proposed text of this decision was sent to the members of the Holy Synod, who were not present, for their approval."
I am going back to all of this because frankly I had never seen a decision of the Holy Synod until the June 17th one. As you can see, the differences are striking and fueling a growing suspicion on my part that Metropolitan Philip misrepresented a proposal of a faction of the Holy Synod as a formal decision.
And, I still don't know why the fax does not show being sent from Syria to the United States. may be it was sent by fast mail service. In other words, since the Metropolitan was not present at this special meeting (that only affected his Archdiocese in any large way), he should have received the proposal also by fax. Instead, a recipient of the fax somehow got a copy of the fax to the Metropolitan. (If Father Dimas were to use mail service, I imagine he would have sent a copy of the original).
Bottom line: I think that the Metropolitan may have orchestrated the entire plot to somehow convince folks of the supposed decision to change the status of the diocesans. At the very least, he misrepresented a proposal as a decision.
#29 Carl on 2009-06-25 19:05
+Philip and his old guard are so loving and caring that I know one seminarian who never received a cent from the church, paid his own way, was assigned to serve one of the old guard - taking every task his superior didn't want so he could enjoy the fruits of his "years of labor in the field" and who ultimately left the church. You can say this was lack of faith on the young seminarian if you want but the reality was his disgust ...
#30 Anonymous on 2009-06-26 04:17
I'm sure someone will say that your friend had "weak faith".....however even if that were the case, are not those strong in faith supposed to bear the burdens of the weak? Instead what are we seeing? We're seeing the opposite. No one is helping those of us who ARE weak in faith to bear this, we're being told nonsense like "suck it up you slacker" (in no uncertain terms)....For my part, I don't know your friend, but I definitely do not believe he just "lacked faith" but as you said, I'm sure he became disgusted with the corruption and just felt it was better to seperate himself from such things. (since the Church wouldn't do it's part in separating the corruption from him)
We all have our crosses to bear, as Fr. George said, but I strongly disagree that our cross should be corruption, scandal, and the Church tearing itself asunder. Just my not so humble opinion
#30.1 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-06-26 09:04
Female seminarians get no acknowledgment or help from the Antiochian Archdiocese, either.
They used to get scholarship assistance, but that was done away with under +PHILIP's tenure as metropolitan.
Just thought I'd throw that out there.
#30.2 Cordelia on 2009-06-26 10:41
While I don't like the situation in the Archdiocese or what is going on, all this talk about not supporting seminarians is a low blow. Not all people who enter the seminary are qualified to receive scholarships and all scholarships given are for men who intend to become priests. Therefore woman and all men not studying for the priesthood are excluded. Sometimes, due to a variety of reasons, people do not get one their first year, but do for subsequent years. Sometimes their grades from college are not high enough or they have not been Orthodox and in a parish long enough to warrant a seminary. Isn't this being financially responsible with the money of the Archdiocese?
The Antiochian Archdiocese is the only Archdiocese who pays for her seminarians, but they must be qualified (grades from college, Orthodox for a certain number of years, etc.). To answer Cordella below, there were no scholarships before Metropolitan PHILIP. While there is plenty for people to criticize him for with the present mess, he is to be commended for this. Let's not be like Luther and throw the baby out with the bath water!!!!
#30.3 Anonymous on 2009-06-26 20:09
Do not paint such a rosey picture. There are many exceptions.
Certainly one's pedigree opens doors and the Archdiocesan wallet.
I have seen it first hand.
Also there a MAnY SEMINARIANS who meet the appropriate criteria who do not get scholarshipped.
MP uses his control at present to punish his diocesan bishops by not accepting his seminarians, not scholarshipping his seminarians or not ordaining his candidates.
#30.3.1 anon and anon on 2009-06-28 18:44
Absolutely wrong! My Cousin, a Priest, had ALL his St Vladimir education paid in full under Thrice blessed Met. Bashir. AND his room and board expense, plus ALL books, and even a stipend for spending money. NO there were scholarships LONG before Met. Philip. Get your stories straight ? !!
(Editor's note: And just to be fully accurate, I am in the OCA, and was never a priest, and I had all but one semester of SVS paid for by scholarships from the OCA and SVS thirty years ago. It is not just Antiochian students who receive scholarships.)
#30.3.2 Anonymous on 2009-06-28 18:50
Thanks for proving my point. The Antiochian Archdiocese supports seminarians who are preparing to become clergy. Seminarians who are preparing for other kinds of service to the Orthodox Church are not, regardless of their grades or potential. Nobody would fault the archdiocese for not giving scholarship money to people with bad grades or who've been in the Church for a short time.
The interview between Met. PHILIP and Fr. Peter Gillquist was skin-crawling for a lot of reasons, but the part where Met. PHILIP was patting himself on the back for supporting seminarians upset me. Seminarians are living on a shoestring anyway, and apparently it's all to foster loyalty to the archdiocese among the clergy: "Let him go to his parish with good feeling about his bishop, about the archdiocese." Nice.
#30.3.3 Cordelia on 2009-06-28 19:53
Sorry, but you are talking about the touted ideal, not the reality. My friend had the grades, and a master's degree, had been orthodox for years, and was on the road to the priesthood. In fact, he was ordained a priest. It was after ordination, seeing the immorality (including sexual), the graft, the complete disregard to canon and Faith that he left.
#30.3.4 Anonymous on 2009-06-29 03:33
Listen, there are many reasons some do not get scholarships in addition to grades or lack of being Orthodox. Sometimes people apply late or there are simply too many applicants in a given year. These too are other reasons. Usually, in cases of the later, they will receive one for their second or third year. As to the comment of people being given preference because they are of a certain pedigree, take a look, probably 80% of the seminarians and those who receive scholarships are converts. I know for sure that at least two this year who are of a certain "pedigree" were either not accepted or did not receive a scholarship.
As I said, there are plenty of things to pick on Metropolitan Philip about right now, this is not one of them.
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2009-06-29 18:11
It's awfully quiet; do you get the feeling that everybody's holding their breath waiting for something to happen?
With reguard to the call for an investigation - I humbly volunteer Lyn Gabriel as the first FBI interviewee. In her words, she was a witness to the whole thing and has complete knowledge that ALL documents are valid. She was there!! We can completely depend on her word! I know I do. Even though her story has more holes than Swiss Cheese.
Just for entertainment value - visit "the other site" Kevin Kirwin has posted a link you don't want to miss.
#31 Steve on 2009-06-27 09:51
Anyone who believes that Met. Philip had nothing to do with the posting of the fraudulent documents on the official website is deluded. I had communication with the webmaster of the site on another matter recently. He told me that all content on the site is controled by the Metropolitian's office. In other words, nothing goes up on the site with out the explict approval of the office of the Metropolitan.
#32 Michael Bauman on 2009-06-27 10:35
Kh. Lynn Gabriel , whose husband was part of +MP's delegation to Damascus, makes a fascinating claim at The Antiochian :
"I did see on two separate occasions, my husband and two other members of the H.S. emerge from [the Patriarch's] office. Fr. G. had the document(s) in question in his hand. I saw those documents. They are the ones that people (some, of astonishing irresponsibility i.e. Bp. Mark) are actually claiming on official letterhead to be forgeries. ....
"After that visit, while my old friends and I lingered a bit, Fr. G. left for Lebanon in a car that had been waiting for him. When he arrived at his destination, I spoke to him and he told me that he had just faxed the signed documents he had to M.P. from there ...."
[ http://is.gd/1gnhR ]
This, if true, still doesn't address the weirdness of having two signed and sealed Arabic versions. To that end, we would have to consider the claim of a poster elsewhere (I cannot find the post) that Fr. Gabriel attempted to get the Patriarch to sign modified documents, slipping them past him as equivalents to the legitimate decision. That poster, if I recall correctly, stated that he was unsuccessful.
Perhaps that was wrong. This would account for the goofy letterhead and so on: the documents, though signed and sealed by the Patriarch, were indeed not prepared by the Patriarchate. That would make the documents instruments of a fraud — but not quite forgeries.
The latter part of the account would explain the missing fax information and the artful phrasing of the Archdiocese, which avoided stating its origin. This, similarly would be deceptive, as readers would naturally suppose that the documents had been sent by the Patriarchate, but not an explicit lie.
I am not a lawyer, but I question whether this scenario would fall under the definition of forgery. It would nevertheless constitute a misrepresentation of a Synodal decision — and the fact that it would have been perpetrated with the participation of the Patriarch (however innocent) would not excuse that fact.
(I suppose it is also possible that Fr. Gabriel wasn't successful, and that the Patriarch's signature was surreptitiously forged before the encounter's end — enabling Fr. Gabriel and his party to exit the office in triumph. This would explain why the signature looks so questionable. However — apart from the fact that this seems rather paranoid — it would not explain the seal.)
The only one who can clear this up, I'd say, is the Patriarch himself.
#33 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-27 16:54
Actually, the term forgery is still apt:
An online law library touted by CNNfn as the best online legal resource has the following definition (I excerpt, the complete definition and discussion can be found at http://www.lectlaw.com/def/f056.htm ):
FORGERY - The act of criminally making or altering a written instrument for the purpose of fraud or deceit; for example, signing another person's name to a check. . . .
Forgery at common law has been held to be 'the fraudulent making and alteration of a writing to the prejudice of another man's right.' A more modern writer defined it as, 'a false making; a making malo animo, of any written instrument, for the purpose of fraud and deceit.'
#33.1 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-29 18:29
Kh. Lynn Gabriel , whose husband was part of +MP's delegation to Damascus, makes a fascinating claim at The Antiochian :
"I did see on two separate occasions, my husband and two other members of the H.S. emerge from [the Patriarch's] office. Fr. G. had the document(s) in question in his hand. I saw those documents. They are the ones that people (some, of astonishing irresponsibility i.e. Bp. Mark) are actually claiming on official letterhead to be forgeries. ....
"After that visit, while my old friends and I lingered a bit, Fr. G. left for Lebanon in a car that had been waiting for him. When he arrived at his destination, I spoke to him and he told me that he had just faxed the signed documents he had to M.P. from there ...." [ http://is.gd/1gnhR ]
This, if true, still doesn't address the documents' inconsistencies in appearance and style or the weirdness of having two signed and sealed Arabic versions. To that end, we would have to consider the claim of a poster elsewhere (I cannot find the post) that Fr. Gabriel attempted to get the Patriarch to sign modified documents, slipping them past him as equivalents to the legitimate decision.
That poster, if I recall correctly, stated that he was unsuccessful. Perhaps not. This would account for the aforementioned: the documents, though signed and sealed by the Patriarch, who thought them approved by the Synod (or essentially so), were indeed not prepared by the Patriarchate. That would make the documents instruments of a fraud — but not quite forgeries, I think.
The latter part of the account would explain the missing fax information and the artful phrasing of the Archdiocese, which avoided stating its origin. This, similarly would be deceptive, as readers would naturally suppose that the documents had been sent by the Patriarchate, but not an explicit lie.
This would still constitute a misrepresentation of a Synodal decision — and the fact that it would have been perpetrated with the participation of the Patriarch (however innocent) would not excuse that fact.
But what of the Bizarro-World signature on the disputed English version? It is hard to imagine that it was surreptitiously forged during the meeting. (And besides, what about the seal?) Perhaps the Patriarch's hands shake at times?
The only one who can clear this up, I'd say, is the Patriarch himself — making use of the plainest and most explicit language.
#34 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-27 18:12
I'll repeat a question I asked earlier: other than the now-repudiated documents that Kh. Gabriel has reported her husband faxed from Lebanon, has anyone ever seen a document purportedly from the Patriarchate with an Arabic/English, rather than an Arabic/French letterhead? Has anyone ever seen such a letterhead on a document undoubtedly from the Patriarchate?
Mark's suggestion of combing the AOCA's Timeline doesn't turn up anything: the lawyers' copy documents form the Patriarchate are either copies posted on the Archdiocesan website or reprinted in The Word.
#34.1 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-28 18:40
Part of my point: "This would account for the goofy letterhead and so on: the documents, though signed and sealed by the Patriarch, were indeed not prepared by the Patriarchate."
That is, someone cooked them up and tricked the 90-year-old patriarch into signing them. I don't know how to interpret the law dictionary you quote above — does "a false making" describe a case where a document has been signed by the appropriate party?
If Mark's account is accurate, some kind of crime of deception has taken place — it's just that I'm not quite sure which category to place it under.
#34.1.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-30 05:42
Any comment on the testimony given by khouria Lynn Gabriel (or someone using that name) in a comment made June 27, 2009 at 9:31 am on theantiochin.com website (http://www.theantiochian.com/site/?p=521)?
"I did see on two separate occasions, my husband and two other members of the H.S. emerge from his office. Fr. G. had the document(s) in question in his hand. I saw those documents. They are the ones that people (some, of astonishing irresponsibility i.e. Bp. Mark) are actually claiming on official letterhead to be forgeries...
...Fr. G. left for Lebanon in a car that had been waiting for him. When he arrived at his destination, I spoke to him and he told me that he had just faxed the signed documents he had to M.P. from there..."
Given the reports of attempts to give the patriarch altered documents to sign, this certainly raises questions. In any case, the fact that they had to be taken to Lebanon to be sent, rather than officially from the patriarchate hardly looks good.
#35 phil on 2009-06-27 23:05
Indeed, I have to point out (and remind myself) that the forgery accusation is just that — an accusation. We have no proof that the Patriarch didn't sign the documents. We also have a priest's wife who claims that her husband, Fr. Antony Gabriel, and two members of the Holy Synod were in the Patriarch's office when the documents would have been signed by His Beatitude. [ http://is.gd/1gnhR ] If her story is accurate, all three will presumably attest to having seen this happen. Once that takes place — in the absence of a denial from the Patriarch himself — I think we will have little choice but to accept this version of events.
It seems certain that the disputed documents were not prepared by the Patriarchate's offices, so those who brought them to His Beatitude evidently had a private agenda. But what happened next? Did Fr. Gabriel and his companions really cajole, bully, or exhaust the Patriarch into signing, representing the documents as drafts or obscuring their meaning somehow? It's hard to believe he would sign and stamp an other-than-final decision — a bewilderingly irregular act.
On the other hand, that part of the world often is bewilderingly irregular, so maybe he did indeed sign. This would explain the Patriarchate's use, twice, of the phrase "the final official version" in its most recently received statement. This implies, of course, that there were also versions that contained (not final but) draft text and that were (not official but) unofficially prepared.
(As to the poor quality of the signature, is it possible that His Beatitude — whose first alphabet was presumably not a latin one — only bothers with nice, smooth letters on final drafts?)
Had the Patriarch wanted to disclaim all responsibility for the other documents, he could have; or he could have relied on pointed language as in the past (for example, adding to "agreed and voted among [sic] the majority of the Holy Synod members" the words, "and signed by His Beatitude"). Certainly, we could expect to hear from him before long.
If, on the other hand, he did sign the disputed documents, it was an embarrassing lapse in judgment — one that he can expect enemies to criticize and Americans to be scandalized at. He would naturally be inclined to just keep quiet about it and sweep the episode under the rug along with the documents themselves.
That scenario would leave significant wrongdoing still — because a decision of the Synod has been misrepresented. But surely it would be very hard to show intent on anyone's part to do so. Unless the Patriarch testifies that it was crystal clear to all parties that the disputed documents were mere drafts, his signature would be enough to excuse anyone involved.
There is also Met. Philip's present course, which can only be characterized as defiance of his Chief Hierarch. But what else is new? At most, I would expect the Patriarch to send another irritated letter.
I think that — barring a damning revelation from the Patriarch — the most that is going to happen here is that the text most recently sent from Damascus will prevail. On the bright side, by opposing it as much as he has, Met. Philip has provided striking evidence that it doesn't accomplish what he wanted.
#35.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-29 10:55
Dearest Father George,
You and I have always enjoyed an open and friendly dialog on other lists and I hope you will indulge my questions, knowing how fond I am of you I am and how much I respect your opinion.
#1 How is it possible that I, someone who has been with the Church just three years, who cannot read Arabic, and who has NEVER seen a document from the Patriarchate, know immediately, before the information was posted on this list (see my comments on The Forum June 23 1:24 AM) that something was very wrong with these documents, when our Metropolitan, knowing how important this information was to our Archdiocese, was fooled into thinking they were legitimate?
#2. If Metropolitan Philip was deceived, wouldn't this be of GREATER concern? Surely he knows more than a neophyte like me about the authenticity of information coming from Damascus.
#3. If Metropolitan Philip wasn't shown these documents, and they were posted on our website without his permission, wouldn't this, too, be of concern? It would mean he has allowed people capable of fraud into his inner circle.
#4. I may be mistaken about this, but I would assume Metropolitan Philip is in verbal contact with the Patriarchate. Surely, after all these years, he has people in Damascus that keep him informed. Wouldn't they give him the courtesy of a phone call when they are about to issue a public statement that would devastate his attempts to restructure his own Archdioceses? It seems incredulous to me that he wouldn't know their decision until they issued a written statement intended for the rest of the Archdioceses to see.
If I have misunderstood the circumstances, please tell me. I would love to be wrong, as I would love to be wrong about everything else I've uncovered, but no one is giving me satisfactory answers. You, of all people, know I am a forgiving woman with no axe to grind against this jurisdiction or any other, but the things I've seen, heard, and experienced over these past few weeks have been positively alarming.
If you would be good enough to reassure me, I would appreciate it. You would also be helping me to heal after this devastating turn of events which has driven me from my parish and undermined my faith in this Archdiocese.
Yours In Christ,
#35.2 Gail Sheppard on 2009-06-29 12:41
In my mind "to assist the Metropolitan" is the same things as "to be an auxiliary." That's what the position is for in the first place, to assist a higher ranking bishop. You're splitting hairs if you're honestly arguing that those phrases mean different things. Even after the "Self-rule" and making them "Diocesan Bishops" they still couldn't ordain without Metropolitan Philip's permission, they couldn't transfer priests, couldn't establish churches, and couldn't sign anteminsia.
This system, of dependant diocesan bishops, is exactly the method the GOA used before they were all made Metropolitans after they forced Archbishop Iakovos out. So we can't claim that this is horribly un-canonical unless you'd like to accuse the GOA of the same thing.
#36 Anonymous on 2009-06-28 20:00
So we can't claim that this is horribly un-canonical unless you'd like to accuse the GOA of the same thing.
Yeah, I'll go in for that.
Well, okay — not quite . Yes, it is anti-canonical to create auxiliary bishops, a bad though common habit in the various Churches. But the current, Antiochian issue isn't about that — it's about the attempt to take bishops who already have dioceses and change them back into auxiliaries. If anyone tried to tell the GOA Metropolitans that they were suddenly back to being auxiliaries, you can bet they would go through the roof!
As to limitations on the Antiochian bishops' powers even before Feb. 24th, it is crucial to remember that these were limitations they voluntarily accepted by voting to approve the Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities.
(I suspect they did so largely out of respect for Met. Philip, whose long-established habits of control over the Archdiocese they were willing, in his last years of service, to accommodate. In any event, whatever the reason, it was their choice.)
As to "splitting hairs" — Met. Philip and his supporters are going to a lot of trouble to insist on a different Arabic text than the one the Patriarch is standing behind as the official decision. Even just from that, it's reasonable to assume that there's some significance in the differences. More significant still is the fact that the Holy Synod had to extend its meeting to three days to sort out the particular words and forms of words they would use.
In short, it's not we Americans who are splitting hairs: the hairs were pre-split for us by the Holy Synod, and to a very specific purpose.
#36.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-30 06:11
"IF" the quoted material is indeed the commentary of the wife of a priest of the Holy Orthodox Church, said Priest should deal with her penchant for gossipy postings which seem to designed to let us know how "inside the loop" she is. The arrogance and clubby air of the postings convince me more than ever that it is time for a house cleaning at Englewood and Detroit.
#37 max on 2009-06-28 21:25
Smuggled documents secreted out of the office of The Patriarch to a waiting getaway car which were then taken to an undisclosed location where yet another shadowy figure faxes them directly to Met. Philip...?
It doesn't get much better than that unless you add some assassins or a cool high speed chase through the streets of Damascus.
After the admitted to shenanigans and skullduggery, Lynn Gabriel then has the gall to accuse Bp. Mark of "astonishing irresponsibility" for daring to question the validity of those documents?
Lynn Gabriel claims not to be concerned with the court of public opinion? If I were her that is not the particular Court I would be dreading either.
#38 Anonymous on 2009-06-29 09:17
What day will the announcement come from Englewood that +Philip has a virus and will be unable to travel to Palm Springs?
#39 anonymous former antiochian archdiocese member on 2009-06-30 09:35
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