Tuesday, October 13. 2009
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Isn't it clear to everyone? Any organization which refuses to be audited due to those in charge, have something to hide. HELLO!!!!!!!!!! How is this difficult to understand? Where are those in charge in Detroit to make things right? Where are the Board of Trustees of the AOCA to make Englewood right?
PEOPLE OF THE AOCA - Why don't you demand that your leaders come clean? Exactly how much misappropriation of funds has gone on in Detroit? How much in Englewood? Does anyone care?
#1 Anonymous on 2009-10-13 14:17
Demanding he do the right thing doesn't work! Believe me. Metropolitan Philip is manipulating us by redirecting our attention to Troy. What's happening in Troy is serious, don't get me wrong, but it has nothing to do with auditing the Archdiocese. Metropolitan Philip has created a smoke screen and he used Troy to do it. ....
#1.1 Gail Sheppard on 2009-10-13 15:38
It's not a distraction, it's the heart of the thing. I mean the details, yes — those would be a distraction. But Met. Philip's interference in Bp. Mark's diocese is exactly the sort of behavior that shows why the bishops must unambiguously possess their traditional authority. If they did, I think we'd also be more likely to see an audit — and this Bp. Demetri business would be over for sure.
#1.1.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-10-14 10:42
Par for the course. If you listen carefully to the AFR recording of the Finance meeting at the Archdiocesan Convention in Palm Desert available here: http://audio.ancientfaith.com/specials/antioch2009/finance_2009-07-24.mp3 you can easily spot how Met. Phillip and his cronies dance around the audit questions. They purposely muddy the waters by saying that all audits (central administration and all Antiochian parishes) will need to be done together and that would be "very expensive", "difficult", and "impractical."
This letters uses the exact same tactic Met. Phillip used to derail a serious discussion of an independent audit of the central church administration and its multi-million dollar budget and endowment (is it $10, $20, $30, $40 million?, no one seems to know). Since it worked so well for him to avoid transparency and accountability the first time around, he has now deployed the same diversionary strategy to further complicate and perpetually delay the process.
Does he actually expect rational, ethical, intelligent, and mature Christians to fall for this? If the Holy Synod and Board of Trustees accepts this ridiculous argument, then we will never see an independent audit of the Antiochian administration while Phillip is in full and unchallenged control of the Synod and the Church finances.
Once again I ask: "Why is Met. Phillip so afraid of an independent audit of the central administration finances?"
The laity and clergy alike may feel ipotent in dealing with
- *Metropolitan Philip*,
- *his cronies and their intimidation tactics*.
The easiest way to manage MP and his cronies and their antics is to stop giving until the FAITHFUL GET WHAT THEY WANT.
No more checks!
No more ribbons! Send them back.
The GREAT HIEROMARTYR IGNATIUS of ANTIOCH would be scandalized that he was turned into FUND RAISING PROGRAM
NOT another penny to ENGLEWOOD until there is a FULL and COMPLETE AUDIT by one of the BIG FOUR!
*If the Board of Trustees fails once again, then they should be taken to court for illegally operating as a Board....
#2.1 anonymous on 2009-10-13 15:53
"The easiest way to manage MP and his cronies and their antics is to stop giving until the FAITHFUL GET WHAT THEY WANT."
I know that this is a serious issue, and that pressure for financial clarity and transparency seems very necessary now. Still, is the above statement really the way we want to live our lives in the Church? Call me a wet blanket, or a "crazy convert," or blame it on my background as a military officer, but this way of talking seems a little petty and more than a little disrespectful. Let's remember that even if we don't think people are worth our respect, we always suffer a loss in our character when we abandon Christian dignity in our interactions with (or about) them.
I expect MP is quite willing to accept a drastic drop in revenue.... (if the option) is going to jail.
#2.1.2 Such-A-One on 2009-10-14 13:00
Do you think that +Philip would care if we were all to stop sending money to Englewood?He has ALL the AOC money in his steel fist to do with whatever his "poor little heart desires"without being accountable to ANYONE! We are talking untold millions of dollars.You think he is going to worry about a few hundred thousand dollars-I dont think so....
#2.1.3 Abbuna Habib on 2009-10-17 14:21
Chris mentions the AFR broadcast of the meetings at Palm Desert Storm. Is is possible that the Synod meetings this weekend will also be made available? Or will the discussions be held behind closed doors? Yes, inquiring minds want to know, and hear, what will directly affect us all.
#2.2 Subdeacon Bob on 2009-10-13 16:53
I am guessing that Met Phil and his cronies have figured out by now that having AFR at the convention was a huge mistake, and that the likely story at the Trustee meeting will be that the cell phones are confiscated. Watch and see. We can pray otherwise, but I think we can predict what will happen without direct intervention by the Lord.
And as for holding back money and sending back ribbons? As nice as that sounds, think about it. If Met Phil has as much money squirreled away as is suspected, he will not care one wit about ribbons or the paltry donations from those of us who are totally fed up.
Just started reading Runciman's The Great Church in Captivity. Interesting title. Within a few chapters, I thought I was reading about today's AOC. Check it out. Interesting comments on how bishops/metropolitans/patriarchs came to be, and can be removed. At least back then!
#2.2.1 pelagiaeast on 2009-10-15 14:50
Metropolitan Philip's 'all or nothing' challenge is designed to frighten priests whose own parish accounting history has been less than transparent (and legal). By pushing the issue this way he hopes to persuade enough clergy, either through fear of their own misdoings or through being intimidated by certain powerful elite clergy (You know, the "Bishop of x" clergy), to staunch any more calls for an audit of the Archdiocese itself. If he really has nothing to hide (like those certain high placed priests, archpriests, and economoi) let the money be spent. Nothing should be too expensive to restore clear trust in the good name of the Archdiocese and the clergy.
Enough of the intimidation, threats, banishments, and other mobster-like activities that have been the norm for years.
And for those of you who believe your twenty-year plus pastors have not engaged in these activities, look at their houses, their cars, their clothes, and get a good close look at how they treat the Church janitor.
There is an old Protestant saying that a bishop can learn a lot about a pastor by how he has treated his staff, especially the lowest ones.
#3 Former Antiochian Priest on 2009-10-13 14:34
The Antiochian priest in my city has absolutely nothing of any material value. His many treasures are all in heaven. Sadly, his kids have suffered from being destitute. If this priest offends +Phillip, he will literally starve during his retirement. Lord have mercy on our priests and their families.
#3.1 anonymous on 2009-10-13 17:19
The priest will starve only if the people depend on a single Bishop/Archbishop/Metropolitan to do the work they are to do themselves.
Is Metropolitan Philip the only one who can care for priests? It is not illegal or unethical or immoral to give money, houses, cars, food - whatever - to someone. In fact, we are commanded to do so. We are to give sacrificially to those in need.
I appreciate the sentiment and share your prayer - but it's time we, the people of God, took our rightful role in the Church. *We are the body of Christ*. Whatever we pray for, whatever we ask Christ to do, we must do ourselves, because *we are the body of Christ*.
In Christ our Savior,
Dn. Marty Watt
#3.1.1 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-10-14 19:23
Right! While we are with-holding money from Englewood, don't forget to care and support your priest and local bishop.
#188.8.131.52 Antionymous on 2009-10-15 08:24
Let me say this to you Former Antiochian Priest. Who are you to judge how a priest spends his money. These priests can buy whatever they wish with the dollars they personally earned just as anyone else can in the secular world. I have seen close priests struggle throughout their early lives save and finally invest in other things with their personal money, personal inheritance from family, etc. Just because they finally saved up enough money to drive a "fancy" car or have a big house doesn't mean it's wrong. I know many that did it honestly by hard work and dedication and financial planning. So do not say something like this, it is very insulting. They deserve what they have after 20+ years of hard work and slaving for the salvation of the souls of us laity.
Most priests make at least 50 a year, if you save enough and invest correctly you can easily buy something nice after 10-15 years. You are insulting many by the most ignorant comment of all.
There are also many priests who inherited from their family, they have money and drive fancy cars. Is this wrong? It does not mean they are doing bad things.
DO NOT judge because you DO NOT know what other things they have or possess in their personal lives...they have nothing to do with a priest salary either. And again, do the math and after 20 years you will be able to get a "fancy car" in time too. It's called money management 101 for any individual in the workforce, priest or no priest.
#3.2 Wrong on 2009-10-14 09:13
It would be reasonable, and in fact good practice, for the Eparchal Synod to jointly decide that all entities in the AOANA including all individual parishes will eventually be audited. This could be accomplished in a reasonable schedule whereby parishes commit to get intial audits by some specific future date and follow up audits every x years thereafter (x to be determined by the size of the parish budget). However, the head office is the key issue. It it nothing but patent obfuscation and stalling to insist that multi-million dollar Englewood need not be audited until specific audit arrangements have been made for every parish.
#4 JPS on 2009-10-13 15:04
Think about this friends, two men who did nothing but question the propriety of checks signed by a dead woman and questionable financial records were EXCOMMUNICATED!!! And then this was endorsed by the Metropolitan.
WAKE UP! Everyone supporting these actions whether vocally or by the mere action of inaction, WAKE UP!
If they will EXCOMMUNICATE good men to keep what's hidden in the dark hidden, what won't they do.
Freedom isn't free. If the the faithful and our priests don't act, then we deserve the current state of American Orthodoxy.
Bravo to Metropolitan Phillip!
You have to admire his tenacity and ability to manuever around issues. Leaving aside the obvious real issue that the Antiochian Archdiocese ought to have an audit, you really have to admire his chess move here, it's pretty amazing. I really didn't think he would find a way out and yet he did.
I'm sure many will complain and write nasty things about my comments here but I happen to think what he did here was a brilliant chess move. His argument seems to have some truth to it (which it really doesn't) and this will undoubtedly get some people sidetracked discussing the merits of his position. If he can get this issue to stick just a little bit he can probably ride it out until we are all signing "Memory Eternal" around his casket and the problem is left for another metropolitan.
As a spectator sport, Metropolitan Phillip won this battle hands down. Sadly though, this is not a spectator sport, it is God's Holy Church. While it was a great chess move, he unfortunately took the church backwards 50 years.
#6 Anon. on 2009-10-13 15:48
Who has standing to file a complaint or sue to force an investigation or government audit? Do I as an individual parishioner? Is there a lay organization with such standing? Why are we still standing around and doing (apparently) nothing? If no concrete and determined action is taken during or immediately following the upcoming Archdiocesan Board of Trustees meeting, then when will it be taken? How long are priests and laypeople going to be cowed under threat from an unworthy hierarch and remain complicit in sacrilege and the financing what can only appear to any sane observer to be a criminal enterprise? Isn’t it time to step up, or step out?
#7 Douglas Dalrymple on 2009-10-13 16:09
Douglas: "Who has standing to file a complaint or sue to force an investigation or government audit? Do I as an individual parishioner? Is there a lay organization with such standing? Why are we still standing around and doing (apparently) nothing?"
Me: So don't give any more money to Englewood. Set up an escrow account and keep the money there until a full audit of the Archdiocese is completed and published for all to see.
There were emerous schemes in the OCA in the past few years to finance the parishes whilst starving Syosset. Some of these seemed to have an impact.
#7.1 anonynony on 2009-10-13 20:04
As an indisputable diocesan bishop +Mark should direct all parishes whose priests have an antimens under his omophorion to conduct just such an audit to fulfill +Philip's desire for unanimity. These matters are rightfully those of each and every diocesan bishop.
#8 anonymous on 2009-10-13 16:15
I am sorry to say that +mark has dropped the ball once again by sayin in his letter that "those who want the books audited can bring their own outside.."etc At "their own expense."YOUR GRACE HOW LONG ARE YOU GOING TO "PLAY DEAD"Please ACT the BISHOP that you were CONCECRATED to be and order TROY to do an audit and if they DO NOTsuspend the priest and remove the "BOARD"-what is +Philip going to do to you?take your Miter away from you and give it to your "Father Confessor"(and by the way that is allready in the works,if you didn`t know).Please your Grace stand up for your Episcopal Office and let the other bishops hide their Miters in"SHAME"seperate yourself from them!Please forgive me if my words offend you,but I can no longer watch this demonic cancer grow any more.
#8.1 Abbuna Habib on 2009-10-13 19:37
In response to a general directive from Bishop MARK, All Saints Church in Chicago has begun the process for its financial books to be audited.
I believe the other parishes in the Diocese of Toledo will be going the same.
Metropolitan PHILIP is right: We all need to do this.
#8.2 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-10-14 08:43
Would you will be willing to post a copy of Bishop MARK's general directive?
If this situation weren't so serious, it would be funny. The efforts of +Philip to avoid any responsibility for just about anything are ridiculous. Bishop Mark made every effort to settle the problems in Troy, and we see that the Metropolitan has undermined him, talking about what a good student Fr. Antypas was at St. Vladimir's. What that has to do with anything is beyond comprehension. I guess it's a smokescreen to take the pressure off Englewood by suggesting an audit of all parishes.
I suggest that all the parishes be audited, and perhaps the Metropolitan's suggestion is a good one. As one of the comments above has suggested, there are perhaps quite a number of Parishes which NEED to be audited. But +Philip can set an example by allowing an audit of the financial situation at Englewood, and then setting a time table for other audits. This recent action is just another step in his efforts to cover up all wrong doing and to attack his enemies. It just can't go on forever.
#9 Anonymous on 2009-10-13 16:29
It's the same smoke screen that Bishop Antoun used during the discussion on the audit in Palm Desert. He whined about how hard all of them work at the headquarters in Englewood, and how dare we call for an audit. That had nothing to do with the audit - no one says they don't work hard - but the audit still needs to be done to bring light into their hard working days - to see what kind of hard work they are doing.
I'm the first to ask for an audit of my parish, cause I'm not always sure what they do with the money. I say we go for it - audit all the parishes, everything from top to bottom, with no records untouched. This way no one can whine that it wasn't fair or equitable. If there are adjustments to be made, let them be made properly, and then we have clear consciences that we are doing God's Holy Work in the proper way and not messing with HIS money. No parish should be singled out - all of them should be auditied - all chanceries, all bishops, all departments and committees and the archdiocese headquarters. Everything - because somewhere the graft will be revealed and then the penalties will have to be paid, and we'll know who the true Godly people are in our Archdiocese. There will be plenty of people who will donate to help pay the costs, and let the ASSETS of the Archdiocese cover the rest. MP is just making smoke again right before the meetings, like he did in July, and when did he become a CPA to determine so quickly that the church in Troy did nothing wrong. We still don't know what they did with those 24 checks signed by a dead woman. ....If our 5 Diocesan Bishops don't band together and do the right thing, when the other 2 are gone, they will be left holding the remnants of what was once a Holy Archdiocese, and I'm not so sure they will be able to put it back together.
20,000 would be an undue hardship on our little parish. I don't see the relevance of making our 40,000 operating budget church be audited in order to have the multimillion dollar central church be audited. Smokescreen.
#9.2 Antionymous on 2009-10-13 19:03
It may indeed be a smokescreen....but the $20K audit cost figure is nonsense for most parishes. Audit cost is driven by the number of books/accounts and the clarity of the available records. For a small mission or parish with a few simple accounts and readily available paperwork the cost should be no more than a few thousand dollars. It can be done by any local/regional accounting firm with experience in non-profits....no need for a "Big 4" firm.
#9.2.1 JPS on 2009-10-14 11:58
"October Meetings of the Archdiocesan Synod and the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees
During this coming weekend, the regular Fall meetings of the Archdiocesan Synod of Bishops and the Archdiocesan Board of Trustees will be convened in Houston, Texas. The Archdiocesan Synod will meet during the morning of Friday October 16th, 2009. The Board of Trustees will convene for its first session during the evening of Friday October 16th, and its second session during the morning of Saturday October 17th."
Does ANYONE think these people will have the cahones to call for and push for a general audit of Englewood?
#10 Anonymous on 2009-10-13 16:30
I am sorry to say that they will not!
#10.1 Abbuna Habib on 2009-10-13 19:40
MESSAGE FOR THE UPCOMING ARCH'D TRUSTEES MEETING
There are TWO considerations here confused at the Convention - and with good reason !
AN ARCH'D AUDIT is what was asked for and it was indeed clever to join it with a PARISH AUDIT.
Our neighbor OCA (as well as Romanian and others) have TWO or THREE parishioners ELECTED at the annual assembly to AUDIT the local parish books.
They answer to no one but the assembly of the parish. They review all of the trasury bookeepings, records, checks,etc. And they are the SAFEGUARD of the Church - Cost $ 0 !
The Metropolitan has chosen to join this proceedings with an ARCH'D AUDIT. That should be done by an outside firm and it doesn't have to be one of the big "four". Only a recognized accounting firm w/ proper credentials & reputation.
ASK - BOARD MEMBERS -
what of a proper balance sheet! Listing of ASSETS - is that so impossible? We have it at our parish.
What breakdown of the $700,000. for missions, parish development, etc. How MUCH of that for salaries for 2 or 3 figureheads? What of the Met. Anthony Basir funds unreported since 2004 ?
Much of the 13pg report which many read at the Convention (despite desperate attempts to hide the truth) makes sense. My Presbyterian Church treasurer thought it was great (himself a CPA). What? He said, "You don't provide an annual CPA Audit ?
Forever - what is being covered up? Daresay Mr. Laham runs his leather goods business with proper CPA instruments? And the part time ass't comptroller would reveal much but would the Metropolitan allow him ?
Someday our children will look at all this (some SOYO already in our Church and wonder where we were in 2009 !
AND THE TRUTH SHALL ALWAYS MAKE YOU FREE!
Only a matter of time!
#10.2 Arch'd Parish Council Members & Their Priest on 2009-10-13 20:36
I don't know about the Trustees' cahones, but I have very good reason to believe that there are lawyers waiting in the wings to force the issue if they don't do the right thing.
#10.3 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-10-14 08:01
Dear subdeacon David,if those "lawyers waiting in the wings"had ANYTHING at all they would have used it by now - I think that "those lawyers" are just another "smoke screen".If they were men of integrity themselves they would not have allowed things to get to this point and bring such shame on the AOC.How much integrity does Damascus have since they have allowed things to get out of hand and bring shame on them and the Orthodox church here in the Americas?Have they no shame and no dignity!We do not need enemies from the outside to bring us to our knees we are doing a first class job ourselves!Or maybe you do not agree?
#10.3.1 Abbuna Habib on 2009-10-19 11:19
It seems to me that financial transparency should not come by such arduous efforts.
Didn't FOCUS just adopt ethical financial practices?
Can't each Orthodox jurisdiction do the same?
#11 Patty Schellbach on 2009-10-13 17:55
As an accountant, I get a little worked up about some of this stuff. The notion a Treasurer informs a parish of something questionable and is then sacked really takes the cake.
As a parishoner, when dirty tactics are used by the priests, Bishops, and Metropolitan of any church, I credit the other parishoners for accepting the tactics.
I don't know whether Mr. Thomas was really right or wrong, but all pictures here suggest he was merely informing.
The Council of that church really ought to take a good look in the mirror, and not at their hair.
#12 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-10-13 18:30
Since you are an accountant, can you help us find out the proper requirements to audit a non-profit organization? Can you also help us to get the ball rolling on this, or do you know accountants who specialize in this field who could help us? The sooner we start, the better. We all know that, due to the continuing objection to an audit, this means MP and possibly many others, clergy and laity, are indeed hiding big things, and not willing to allow those things to be discovered. We weren't born yesterday, and some of us have acquired some wisdom over the years. We must protect our Holy Church, remembering that the money came from God, WHO inspired all of us to donate to the faith. Now we must protect those assets, or we are the greater sinners who enable certain people to get away with dishonest actions. Let's stand together and fight for our church, and clear the temples, all of them, of the moneychangers.
Met. Philip has just revealed that he believes the corruption in our "God Protected Archdiocese" is not in any way confined to the Archdiocesan level but permeates our own parishes.
A brilliant move by a cynical and increasingly compromised heirach.
You want to rat me I'll rat you! God help us. Our lady Theotokos pray for us.
Every person who truly fears God and believes the testimony of Christ should now rise up and say, "so be it" let everything come to the light.
#13 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-10-13 18:32
Isn't it ironic that Metropolitan Philip referenced Fr Joseph's graduation from SVS summa cum laude? How on earth could Fr Joseph be a good priest if he graduated from SVS? How could he know and understand the Syro-Byzantine tradition? Didn't SVS turn him into a 'mini theologian'
Maybe the real problem is not that Fr. Joseph may be a crook, but that he is an SVS grad.
#14 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-13 18:44
East Coast Priest, your comments are really nothing but offensive and unChristian-like. You really have a collar on?
#14.1 William on 2009-10-14 14:04
William, are you really not getting it? Granted, you may not understand sarcasm when you see it, but - really - do you not GET IT????
#14.1.1 pelagiaeast on 2009-10-15 15:01
I was shocked to read Dave Thomas considering himself to no longer be a member of Troy's parish council due to being thrown off the council by the parish priest, and then asserting that the priest has no authority to dismiss a parish council member under the parish's by-laws!!
Dave, I greatly respect you for what you have done, but by allowing your priest to exert authority he doesn't have, you are inadvertantly contributing to the overall problem. You are still a parish council member, so keep going to the meetings. If the priest "excommunicated" you, take it up with Bishop Mark if the "excommunication" was due to you telling the truth. There must be a penalty for a priest abusing his authority like that. Standing up against priestly abuse is just as important as flagging possible financial misconduct.
Also, Dave, do you know if the prior treasurer's signature on the questionable checks was due to her signing these checks before she died, or the result of someone (who could it possibly be?) forging her name on these checks? Keep up the good work!!
As far as an audit goes, if the Archdiocese Board doesn't mandate one at the upcoming meeting, then it will show that they are just a bunch of buffoons whose ego is stroked by being members of the Board.
#15 Disgusted Life-long Antiochian Orthodox Christian on 2009-10-13 20:28
This takes the cake; Metro Philip shame on you!
In my military training in leadership we learned NEVER to ask someone to do what you would not do first. It is called leadership by example. So, Metro Philip if you want the parishes to have audits then lead by example and show us how it's done. If not you are no leader but a COWARD!
#17 Pastor on 2009-10-13 20:40
Is this a schoolyard where bullies can get away with petty hurtful games of dare and intimidation? Metropolitan Philip has no authority to stop an audit. The law requires it. The faithful want it. The fact that he openly closes the blinds against transparency is enough to make the matter suspicious. So much for leading by example. Enough already! Bring on the audit and show the balances in retirement savings accounts for our priests who've earned it. They should also get combat pay for working under a hostile despota.
#18 MichaelPatrick on 2009-10-13 22:36
I found an old photo of the late Bishop Aftimios in a magazine. On the flip side, was an article - publication and year unknown - with some points I want to share with you.
"MATURATION IN CHRIST"
A sure sign of our maturation as Orthodox Christians, and as the Orthodox Church in North America as a whole, is our joyful acceptance and affirmation of diversity and variety in God's good creation, and in the life of God's new creation, Christ's Holy Church.
Immature and childish people want everyone to be as they are, and everything to be as they wish. Those growing into "mature personhood," on the other hand, into "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, within the Church, "which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all, positively delight in the diversity within the Body which expresses the Church's essential unity - which is that of the Lord Himself.
The more we grow spiritually as Orthodox Christians in America, the more we will see the essential unity of Christ's Church, and the essential unity of God's faithful servants within the Church. As our passions and prejudices are conquered by God's grace and truth, our parochial perspectives and provincial predilections will pass away.
NEED I SAY MORE? Which way is best for everyone?
By the way, I never saw this letter to the Troy Parish on the Archdiocese Website. Obviously someone leaked it to this website - thank God for smart people who are able to pass along these hidden letters and bring more light into our dark church. Thank you to the person who did this. We'll be on the look out for more "hidden letters" in the days ahead.
Take a look at the recent decisions of the Holy Synod of Antioch!
Perhaps they are not the best ones to make decisions regarding ORTHODOXY IN NORTH AMERICA? Only if money buys influence.
Did they FORGET ORTHODOXY 101? No!
Do they need a copy of the writings of St Ignatius?
Personally, I believe they want to settle the issue once and for all.
Hopefully, they have come up with a FINAL SOLUTION to the DESPOTA (Philip)problem.
See the bold text below (paragraph 11)
Notes on Arab Orthodoxy
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Final Communiqué from the Recent Meeting of the Holy Synod
This is my own translation and has zero official weight, so don't parse the words too closely. The Arabic original is here. An unofficial French translation is here.
The 45th regular session of the Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch was held in Damascus between October 6th and 8th presided over by His Beatitude patriarch Ignatius IV and with the participation of their eminences the reverend fathers belonging to the Holy Synod of Antioch. Metropolitan Phillip Saliba (North America) was absent.
During this session, the metropolitan who was elected for the archdiocese of Tripoli and Koura, archimandrite Ephrem (Kyriakos), presented himself and was congratulated by the members of the Synod, who congratulated the archdiocese for his selection. Then, welcoming him in the name of the members of the Synod, His Beatitude addressed him and said:
“I know Sayyidna Ephrem in his service and his engagement. He is a brilliant man and a true monk. A monk can live as a monk wherever he wants, but he does not make a monastery of the diocese. The diocese requires a total giving away of the self. This bishop-elect is not a stranger to us. When we met today, I reminded him about when he stood up at the general meeting of the dioceses in 1993 when he spoke words the likes of which are rarely heard. I ask all of your prayers for the wellbeing of this elected brother and for the wellbeing of this archdiocese. His presence among us adds gifts and blessings upon the gifts and blessings in this Synod. I ask the Lord to grant a long life to Sayyidna Ephrem and the future will say and will confirm how the true consecrated ones are.”
The metropolitan-elect responded: “I thank you, Your Beatitude, and I thank Your Eminences the fathers because you have put this trust in my person. I hope to be able to bear this responsibility with the help of the Lord and your prayers. I say that I am weak like every human being, a vessel of clay, and I confess before you that I have loved the Lord and this Church and that I am ready to shed my blood for her.”
At the beginning of the session, their Eminences the fathers of the Synod addressed two letters to their Excellencies the presidents of the Republic of Syria and the Republic of Lebanon in which they affirmed to the two presidents the Church of Antioch’s support for the efforts made in the interest of the wellbeing of the two countries and they asked the Lord to make them strong so that they can continue to support the sons of the two countries.
This session was characterized by discussions between the fathers of the Synod about the pastoral aspect of service to the Church from every angle. They insisted upon priests in the parishes being the bearers of the teachings of the Church as well as the decrees of the Holy Synod to each home so that prayer be tied to service and so that our people may feel that they are loved and that they are borne in fervent and constant remembrance in the liturgical and sacramental prayer of their pastors. This also requires that the service of the pastors speak to current reality and current reality is in space and time, which change. Just like pastoral criteria, criteria of behavior, which cannot be removed from current reality, so that effective action be well-established in current reality, so too pastoring is the affirmation of the Incarnation of the Lord in His Church and in human history.
First of all, the Synod decided to elevate bishop Niphon (Saykali), the patriarchal vicar to the Church of Moscow, to the rank of archbishop.
Then, their eminences the fathers of the Synod studied the pastoral situation in the Sanjak (province) of Alexandretta [on Turkish territory] and learned about the pastoral efforts expended there. They decided to elaborate a plan of action with the necessary human and financial resources so that the people will feel that they are at the heart of the concerns of the Church of Antioch.
Then, the Holy Synod spent a long time on the topic of exchange between neighboring dioceses and on the importance of coordination with regard to questions of regional importance and that require a common approach. They decided to hold when necessary local meetings of the metropolitans of these dioceses in order to coordinate and to take advantage of different expertise. This is both in the dioceses of in the home countries and in the diaspora.
Given that communication is considered a priority in our current reality, communications, both in their pedagogical and their informative aspects, were an important area of discussion. The fathers learned about a project for an electronic newsletter for the patriarchate that will include spiritual topics and news from all of the dioceses of the patriarchate. They decided that it will be weekly and that it will have correspondents from the dioceses. They also decided to rely on experts to elaborate a comprehensive communications program that will use audio-visual media to serve missionary work.
Because where the bishop is, there is the Church and where the Church is, there is the bishop, and because the bishop as head of the priests and as pastor is an event in the life of the Church, and because the current reality of the Antiochian dioceses in the homeland and in the countries of the diaspora has evolved, the Holy Synod delegated to one of its members to prepare a study about the evolution of the episcopacy within the Orthodox Church from theological, canonical, and historical points of view so that the role of a bishop who is not a metropolitan and his position within the Church of today will be determined.
Because the people of our Church deserve that the service of their pastors within the parish be well-ordered and in order to give a proper form to the service, the Synod decided to put into place a pastoral guide for the priests that will be adopted by all the priests of the See of Antioch in their services. This is for an annotation of the Small Euchologion, especially the services of Baptism and Marriage.
The Holy Synod examined the question of the relations between the sister Orthodox churches and heard and report about the conclusions of the meetings of the Orthodox churches in Chambésy, Switzerland in preparation for the Great and Holy pan-Orthodox Council. They also heard a report about Catholic-Orthodox dialogue and affirmed, while raising up prayer, the desire of the Orthodox Church that communion of love and unity between churches be realized in Jesus Christ.
The Synod did not finish its work without reserving a large amount of time for the Saint John of Damascus Institute at Balamand, to study its conditions. They affirm that while this institute has an academic nature, because it is the place where Antiochian pastors are raise and their clerical, churchly sense is developed and they are prepared mystery of the washing of feet, it is a place of permanent prayer where knowledge rises up to the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding. On this basis, the synodal commission presided by His Beatitude keeps watch that this goal is always brought to the attention of theology students.
In conclusion, the fathers of the Synod affirm to their children that, by the power of the Lord, they keep watch over the flock as faithful shepherds and they ask them to be strengthened and to stand firm and to not allow despair or sorrow or the cares of life and difficulties to dwell in their hearts because the Lord does not abandon the ship that is battered by waves in the middle of the storm without His peace. He is at the center of the Church, preserving His children from the Evil One though His All-Holy Spirit, until the end of days.
Posted by Samn! at 1:29 AM
Labels: patriarchate of Antioch
Posted byThe Ochlophobist
Perhaps they want to settle the issue in North America once and for all?
#20 anonymous on 2009-10-14 03:31
Looks like Charles Ajalat knew what he was doing when he bailed out last July. As an attorney and a man of integrity, he could not be a party to this felonious activity. This Troy situation could grow into something bigger, and by that I don't mean better.
Lord have mercy.
#21 George Michalopulos on 2009-10-14 03:38
metropolitan philip...may God grant you many years. I salute your wisdom and leadership on this matter. people above dont know what happened in troy and are only being given little snippets of some of the communications given to david thomas and others. the fact of the matter is that there is no wrong doing and any such activity to have an audit is a waste of resources. furthermore, i suspect that the call for audit is just a way to try and bring down AOCA like it did OCA so that others can try to get reorganization of all the orthodox churches in america. fat chance. God Bless you Fr. Antypas and Metropolitan Philip and all those that stand against these unchristian calls. also, to the fool that almost wished metropolitan philips death and singing around his casket...show some respect, you heathen.
#22 Anonymous on 2009-10-14 07:10
Ummm...Audits expose truth, smart guy. You've nothing to fear from one, do you? They won't bring anything down except that which needs to be brought down.
Thank God the OCA was "brought down"...God be praised! He's glorified by it.
Open the books of the AOCNA and let the light shine in. What are you afriad of?????
#22.1 Markw on 2009-10-14 21:49
OK, then answer me this: is it OK to sign a dead person's signature on a check?
Fr. Antipas admitted this. Is this honest behavior?
We call this forgery.
#22.2 anonymous on 2009-10-14 23:04
These stream-of-consciousness angry screeds are beyond parody.
#22.3 Brian Jackson on 2009-10-15 11:53
.... It also appears that some of the characters in this play make the wrongdoers in the OCA look like amateurs! WOW! I hope the Antiochians get their Church aright and the wolves out of there. We need them to be not dealing with scandal, as they will have to play a very important role in us finally having a unified American Orthodox Church.
Quite unworthy myself.
But no one kisses my hand or sings to me when I enter church.
#23 Scott on 2009-10-14 09:44
I have no problem with an audit of my parish's financial records. I've been blessed with a top notch treasurer and during my tenure everything has been recorded and stored down to the individual receipts. Anyone in my parish or any hierarch who wants to see the records can make a phone call and we'll make them available.
If that's what it would take to restore trust in the Archdiocese via clear and transparent accounting we're ready.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
A smoke screen pure and simple, another firewall around the truth. Members of the AOCA should petition for a Federal Investigation there is really no other recourse.
#25 ANON on 2009-10-14 11:44
Yes, ANON, there is another recourse. It's the one mentioned above by David Yetter: a suit in New York state court to compel the Archdiocese to comply with New York non-profit law and produce audited financial statements, including a balance sheet. Unseemly as it may appear, if the Board of Trustees and the bishops don't act responsibly, there will be little other choice. They will have brought this on our Archdiocese themselves. There should be little or no pity at that point.
#25.1 yet another George on 2009-10-14 15:31
The people in Troy MI would have to be blind followers to continue giving to St George after all these revelations.
There is no worse blindness than that which is chosen.
#26 anonymous on 2009-10-14 15:50
iMy family and I have repeatedly said that we would double and even triple our givings to st george of troy and there are HUNDREDS at our church that would do the same thing in support of Fr. Antypas and St. George. We will not succumb to threats of those who wish not to give or to those that make false allegations. Thank God for Fr. Antypas at the helm of our parish and our wonderful parish council. we will continue to support you in all ways we can.
#27 Loyal Parishioners of St. George of Troy on 2009-10-14 19:48
Thats an interesting way to get people to give more to the church! Ya'll have an interesting take on stewardship!
#27.1 Antionymous on 2009-10-15 08:27
Interesting that the loyal persons wish to remain anonymous.
Or perhaps there were too many of them to list here.
#27.2 RJM on 2009-10-15 13:40
For those keeping tally, word is the Patriarchate has shifted positions regarding +Philip to a large majority in favor of his removal, retirement, or transfer to a monastery. It appears they are awaiting that one piece of straw. Who knows, the Trustees meeting might be it. Or the Hierarchical Manual, in which no matter how much power +Philip tries to gather it will be fruitless - the Patriarchate is rumored to have its own universal Hierarchical Manual almost ready for publication, and it will have force over every Eparchy and Archdiocese.
Interesting times, no?
#28 Tally A Nonymous on 2009-10-15 03:21
Amazing how at the bishops meeting in Houston, Metropolitan Philip unilaterally appointed Bp. Joseph and layman Dan Abraham (the national president of the Order of St. Ignatius and husband of one of Bp Demetri’s long time inner circle cohorts) to work up the revision of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities.
To block out the direct input of all the interested bishops of the local synod and place a layman who has no theological education to work up such an important ecclesiological document is absurd. To solely appoint Bp. Joseph is another indication of collusion between +Philip and +Joseph (otherwise +Joseph would have encouraged the other bishops to work in committee with him).
Damascus needs to act on this matter before Englewood.
#28.1 Disgusted Antiochian Priest on 2009-10-16 18:02
Why is a layman writing the manual for Hierarchs, along with only one Bishop? The entire Local Synod should be putting this manual together, all of them, from beginning to end. It's not right to keep the other Bishops away, but then I guess we know where MP and BJ stand????? There should be joint revisions and discussion, and then they all need to sign the final copy, without pressure, indicating that they each approve it. It's the only fair way. A layman doesn't have enough knowledge to participate in this venture so that it is efficient, complete and successful. Sounds like our Local Synod got ambushed once again by their "Father in Christ", and they didn't stand up to him. Anyone else have more information from Houston to share with us - don't keep us in suspense. Let's shed the light and let us know what else went on there. Obviously someone has first hand knowledge - keep spilling the beans.
Individual parishes are responsible to their own Board of Trustees. They are responsible for their own bookkeeping and audits. Whatever reports they wish to generate and make public are at the descretion of the parish Board. However, if they operate a publicly regulated institution i.e., a nursing or old age home, their local state has fiscal reporting rules. Bogus reports can be prosecuted.
The Archdiocese is controlled by it's own Board of Trustees which is regulated by statutes in the state in which it is incorporated. In this case, the AOCA is under NY State Law for non-profits. If bogus information is being reported, they can be brought up on charges by the State of NY.
#29 Anony Moose on 2009-10-15 06:42
then we are happy to be "blind", thank you very much.
#30 Anonymous on 2009-10-15 07:04
Enduring the dubious explanation by Antypas for forging our Mothers name on checks was sickening enough. Posts about the “long dead treasurer” simply prolongs the pain for our family and more importantly continues to stain the name of our Mother, a loyal and faithful servant to the church for most of her 92 years. In that spirit, our family requests that as editor of the OCA website, please ask your readers to stop all references to Ilhamie Hackem and her position as treasurer. It appears most of your readers are thoughtful and would have no trouble complying with this simple request.
Feel free to post this note in its entirety on your website.
David Hackem for the family of Ilhamie Hackem
#31 David Hackem on 2009-10-16 14:28
DearDavid,our prayers are with you andyour family.I pray that your mothers memory be eternal-Amen.Abuna Habib
#31.1 Abbuna Habib on 2009-10-17 14:34
I second it. Prayers for your mom and your family......
#31.2 Antionymous on 2009-10-19 02:21
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