Friday, November 20. 2009
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Gee....Mark....another piece of false information on your site. Metropolitan Philip has never stopped seminarians from wearing cassocks when required by the seminary. You are once again deceiving the readers of this site. A correction should be published along with an apology for misleading people.
Remember the words of our Lord: "...He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone." (John 8:7)
#1 Anonymous on 2009-11-20 15:40
Um, sorry, but you are wrong. Met. Philip has made it very clear that wearing a cassock outside of the nave of the church for a non-ordained person is a no-no, and I know because I listened to him mock a seminarian at the Village for going into Ligonier in his cassock and he made it very clear that you take it off before you leave the chapel. Met. Jonah also appears to be banning collars which ordained Antiochian students are required to wear by Met. Philip. So, whether this applies to non-OCA clergy at the seminary will be up to Behr and Hatfield. But, then again, Met. Philip's dress code is largely ignored west of the Mississippi and I'm sure the seminarians will be left alone. Met. Philip does not need any more bad press.
#1.1 anonymous on 2009-11-20 21:04
Your wrong. Look at the pictures of the Seminarian dinner at Englewood. They are ALL in cassocks and exorassons. +MP just doesn;t want his clergy wearing cassocks out on the street. Seminary classrooms are NOT the street. Take into consideration that ALL students at both Holy Cross and St. Tikhon's wear cassocks in class, I don't think His Eminence has much of an issue with his clergy wearing clericals in the classroom at St. Vlad's. Really.
#1.1.1 antionymous on 2009-11-21 16:03
The wearing of cassocks at SVS in classrooms is ridiculous!!!
SVS is a school of higher learning for ALL; Orthodox, non-Orthodox, males & females. The mandatory edict for ordained men to wear cassocks on campus and in classrooms has Frs. Schmemann & Meyendorff rolling in their graves - AGAIN! This is just a ridiculous ruling moving SVS back to 1950. Amazing how this conservative, pharisaical attitude has even infiltrated SVS. Time to get rid of people making such ridiculous edicts and move forward with REAL theological issues at SVS.
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2009-11-22 10:01
Did you ever go to SVS? Did you ever meet Fr Alexander or Fr John? I was a student at SVS and taught by them and I wore a cassock in class and there was no issue.
If seminary students can't follow the simple directive of their bishop I doubt seriously that they will make good pastors either. This debate is well beyond the pail even for this site.
A seminary is a place of higher learning but it is also a place of vocational formation and if cassocks are required, then so be it. This is not an unreasonable directive. Period.
#184.108.40.206.1 Anonymous on 2009-11-22 19:35
It certainly is funny that Orthodox clergy obeying theri bishop in dressing like Orthodox clergymen is subject to debate on this site. Must be quiet in Troy and Englewood.
#220.127.116.11.1.1 antionymous on 2009-11-23 08:15
Dear 18.104.22.168.1: Anonymous:
If you attended SVS and HAD to wear a cassock in class as an ordained cleric, you attended SVS in the 1960's. Frs. Schmemann & Meyendorff both realized how ridiculous it was to impose this on recently married & ordained clerics where most were living off campus. Clerical dress of a cleric shirt and tab collar was fine.
Let's not be pharisees. Parading around campus and out in public in a cassock is silly and is nothing more than what Schmemann referred to as "smells & bells' lacking real substance. While they're at it, demand beards and long hair - stupid!
#22.214.171.124.1.2 Anonymous on 2009-11-23 08:20
Point of order.
I'd like to propose a new rule for the forum, that the first mention of "kalimafkion" automatically ends any thread that's on the topic of religious attire. Its appearance is sure sign that every other point of fashion custom and trivia has been adequately covered.
#126.96.36.199.1.2.1 MWP on 2009-11-24 04:38
"Kamalavkas" were instituted by the Muslim rulers on the Orthodox. They made a law that ALL Orthodox clerics MUST wear the stove-top hat to distinguish them from Muslim clerics. So today, all the stupid Orthodox think this is part of "THEIR" tradition. What it is, are the dumb Orthodox following Muslim law. You still wish to wear funny hats imposed on you by the Muslims or go back to REAL Orthodox Tradition?
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2009-11-25 20:48
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.1 antionymous on 2009-11-30 16:23
"I'd like to propose a new rule for the forum, that the first mention of "kalimafkion" automatically ends any thread that's on the topic of religious attire."
"Kamalavkas" ARE NOT of the Orthodox tradition. The Muslims imposed these funny hats on Orthodox clerics to distinguish them from Muslim clerics when Constantinople fell. It's time to refuse to wear "funny hats" imposed on the Orthodox by Muslims. It's time to revert to the REAL Orthodox tradition.
#22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2009-11-27 13:13
"You still wish to wear funny hats imposed on you by the Muslims or go back to REAL Orthodox "
Hey, it a HAT. Get a grip.
It's true that the clergy used to walk the streets in full dress color vestments before the colors were banned by certain authorities. So there's a couple of things going here: The PTB thought that "clothes make the man" or at least they recognized the tradition and tried to suppress it or regulate it. The fact that the clergy just carried on in their plain "street clothing" and even came to embrace it as their own says something as well. We have no need to eagerly jettison the customary "uniforms" nor to adopt the odd dog collars, business casual, or what-not of those outside of our Tradition. A uniform is not a bad thing for those "on duty" where such recognition does have some import and utility. But my oh my, I violated my own little "rule" and continued this fashion thread beyond it's reasonable limits. Mea culpa.
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.1 MWP on 2009-11-30 19:21
No, I attended class in the late 70 and early 80's. And your recollection of the late Fathers is rather puny. Let's put it this way, if it was good enough for them to wear cassocks to class, it was good enough for me as a student.
#220.127.116.11.1.2.2 Anonymous on 2009-11-24 13:46
None of the priest professors wore cassocks to class - ONLY Fr. Schmemann. The reason; he portrayed a presence on campus and in the classroom. When Fr. Alexander walked into a room, everything went silent and all attention was given to him.
He wore his cassock most of the time because there were a constant flow of visitors, priests and bishops going to his office - I remember well. However, he did not impose that students, even ordained students, wear cassocks in class.
#18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2009-12-01 12:01
This directive only applies to St Vlad's students who are clergy in the OCA. How is it ridiculous for clergy to wear clerical attire?
If Orthodox clergy wear cassocks and don't act ashamed of our traditional attire, other people will get used to it and not give them weird looks. Maybe they'll even start thinking that cassocks are cool.
Personally, I think all clergymen look ridiculous in those collars and suits, whether they are Orthodox or not.
#126.96.36.199.2 pobrecita on 2009-11-24 08:30
But is it not true that +MP expects his priests to dress in business suits and tasteful clerical collars (just like the Episcopalians) and not the "old fashioned cassocks" when out in public because they look too old-worldly. People in the Antiochian archdiocese have talked about this for years, barely beards, along with the changes in the Liturgy to shorten it--for example, skipping the catechumen part. I have heard Antiochian priests call these changes "Orthodox light."
Whether or not Metropolitan Jonah's edict would apply to students at St. Vlads is another matter, but in general, Mark Stokoe's words appear to be accurate.
#2 anon on 2009-11-20 16:23
No, Mark's comments are not correct in anyway because he was not talking about the clergy, he was talking about the Antiochian seminarians at St. Vladimir's.
I applaud +JONAH for moving to more cassock wearing. And, yes +PHILIP does not want the clergy wearing cassocks in public. But, he has never stopped seminarians from wearing them when the seminary required it AND he told the seminarians that they could wear them in the Church Hall and places like that.
So, Mark is just deceiving people to gain support and criticize the Metropolitan, one of the most horrific sins a person can commit. We are supposed to "regard the Bishop as the Lord Himself." This site only shows how Mark and all of his wicked followers feel about our Savior. May God save us from this madness.
(editor's note: Wow. Even I hate myself now.)
#2.1 Anonymous on 2009-11-20 19:15
As one of Mark's 'followers', I can tell you I couldn't give two tiddlywinks about apparrel edicts, so I find your commentary unnecessarily harsh.
#2.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-21 10:01
When you wrote, "This site only shows how Mark and all of his wicked followers feel about our Savior." did you mean +Philip is your Savior?
#2.1.2 anonymous on 2009-11-22 18:43
The “Manhattan Declaration”, co-signed by +Jonah, references the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which prohibits discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. ENDA contains language which broadly exempts religious organizations. Of course, if religious institutions wish to receive federal funding for social services, they must abide by the law, otherwise they are not compelled to seek or accept federal funding. As of yet, ENDA has not passed Congress and signed into law.
#3 Terry C. Peet on 2009-11-20 16:25
I really hate it when conservatives, Christian or otherwise use the straw man argument with the US government. It is dishonest.
Nothing like saying...
We won't do what you aren't asking us to do.
Bizarre, and I'm only sorry Metropolitan Jonah doesn't have the wisdom to recognize it.
When churches are asked to bless or participate in abortion, stem cell research, or gay marriage, I'll be first in line to support the church in separation, but the statement signed by Metropolitan Jonah is a straw man argument.
Fishing for a non-cause to sign my name to...
#3.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-21 10:09
Fishing for a non-cause to sign my name to...
#3.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-21 10:09 (Reply)
#3.1.1 Anonymous on 2009-11-21 20:54
Daniel, I do not believe The Manhattan Declaration is based on a "straw man" argument. Christians ARE being asked to participate in abortion --just one recent example is the current version of the healthcare bill-- and to participate in destructive embryonic stem cell research --just one example is our tax dollars going to kill preborn children right now, for a completely failed procedure, and Christians ARE being asked to approve (and fund benefits for) homosexual "marriages." This DOES have a negative effect on all of us. As Metropolitan JONAH puts it, "Immorality demoralizes us all." With Obama stripping away conscience clauses, the threat is very real that Catholic hospitals will be under federal financial pressure to perform abortions. The examples could be multiplied many times. There are several books, in fact, sharing facts about government encroachment of Christian liberties, including the freedom of speech. As I see it, anticipating where our society is headed, and particularly the current, fanatically pro-abortion administration, and issuing a warning that Christians will not go along with it, is wise, and is an act of leadership, and is a boldly Christian thing to do. I applaud The Manhattan Declaration, Metropolitan JONAH, Fr Chad Hatfield and all who participated.
I used my computer to search the full text of the Manhattan Declaration and found no mention of "ENDA", "Employee" or "Non-Discrimination".
This report is simply wrong.
Furthermore, the Manhattan Declaration is a moral, not a political document.
The drafters were not all Evangelicals; one was Roman Catholic.
It has been signed by people with a wide range of political views.
Contrary to other posts in this thread, signers are explicitly said to be signing as individuals, not as representatives of their organizations or institutions.
I would encourage people to read it for themselves at http://www.manhattandeclaration.org before condemning it.
#3.2 Paul Blattner on 2009-11-26 18:59
In the light of many misunderstandings expressed about the Manhattan Declaration, I strongly suggest that everyone read their FAQ page:
which addresses in detail many objections expressed on this thread.
#3.2.1 Paul Blattner on 2009-12-02 23:50
As you rightly point out, Terry, Churches are technically exempt, for now (and notice it's at the descretion of the government), but if they receive federal funds for, say, a pregnancy center or homeless soup kitchen or anything, churches are NOT exempt. There ARE encroaching civil regulations which limit Christian speech, living, and missionary activity. I believe The Manhattan Declaration is a wonderfully good thing, for two reasons: 1) We are cooperating with other Christian bodies, without compromising the Orthodox Faith, in expressing a common moral concern for our society, and 2) Orthodox leaders are addressing our culture, actually speaking up about today's issues. I applaud Metropolitan JONAH, Fr Chad Hatfield, and the many other Orthodox who took part in The Manhattan Declaration.
It seems the military is having to scrape the bottom of the barrel to fill its ranks; This incident against the Greek Priest makes me think of an interview with Chalmers Johnson, author of "Blowback, Second Edition: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire" where he says:
"Most empires try to disguise that military aspect of things. Our problem is: For some reason, we love our military. We regard it as a microcosm of our society and as an institution that works. There's nothing more hypocritical, or constantly invoked by our politicians, than "support our boys." After all, those boys and girls aren't necessarily the most admirable human beings that ever came along, certainly not once they get into another society where they are told they are, by definition, doing good. Then the racism that's such a part of our society emerges very rapidly -- once they get into societies where they don't understand what's going on, where they shout at some poor Iraqi in English."
Military Worship is a paganism, plain and simple...
#4 Moses on 2009-11-20 16:47
You stated, Moses, There's nothing more hypocritical, or constantly invoked by our politicians, than "support our boys."
The other hypocritical adage that in the case of the death of a military person is that they died in "defense of our freedom".
Baloney, we have never engaged in a war for our freedom including the first one starting in 1776. They are all economic. Tea in the sea because of taxes is pure economics and today (2009) the taxes are so heavy in comparison to that earlier 'revolution' against unequal/unrepresentated taxation it is a wonder that there isn't another tax revolt.
(Editor's note: Hogwash. WWII, for example, was not about fascist theories of economics, or German financial policies - it was about freedom. All wars have economic components - we are incarnate beings - but to reduce all wars to economic is just Marxist nonesense.)
#4.1 Glad to not be Antiochian on 2009-11-25 15:26
I had heard that Met Jonah had issued the "Cassock Edict." WHY??? The seminarians aren't monastics. What and who is influencing +Jonah? One more thing to make us different just to be different. Wish those of this mindset would learn the history of such garments. Not so "Orthodox."
#5 SVS Alum on 2009-11-20 16:47
Excuse me, but, with all due respect, what planet were you living on when you attended St Vladimir's Seminary? I was there twice as a student (1982-1984 and 1996-1998), and it was always the practice for men students to wear cassocks in chapel during liturgical services!!! I believe that the Metropolitan's edict is meant to fulfill the function of cassocks in the first place: that all the men look and dress the same, so as not to attract attention to themselves!! Now, if OCA/Greek/Serbian/what-have-you students have to wear cassocks, and Antiochian students don't, and if Antiochian student clergy wear the "Protestant business suit" (black suit and jacket with white collar tab), won't that tend to attract attention to both groups, since everyone is dressed differently? The focus should be on God and on the altar from where the Gospel is proclaimed, not various students in different modes of dress!! And, finally, contrary to your opinion, throughout the Orthodox world around the globe, wearing cassocks is the standard Orthodox manner of dress for clergy and seminarians!! Try again!!!
#5.1 David Barrett on 2009-11-20 19:14
My issue is NOT with wearing cassocks in church. Whether clergy or lay, the male seminarians have pretty much always worn cassocks in th chapel, as they should.
It is the part about wearing them everywhere else! The official notice says, " are expected to be attired in appropriate dress during their time here, that is, in cassock (with vest as optional),..."
So we go back to my basic objection: why a cassock outside the chapel when not engaged in some officially priestly function?
#5.1.1 SVS Alum on 2009-11-21 11:51
#188.8.131.52 antionymous on 2009-11-21 20:41
Give it a rest, Barrett. There is no need for such an edict - it's ridiculous and amounts to phony externals. These fellows wearing cassocks all the time, OUTSIDE OF CHAPEL, will wear out 2-4 cassocks a year. Who will pay for new cassocks? It's just a stupid policy. You want to know how stupid it is? The same as Garklavs telling all clergy to wear cassocks at the clergy banquet at the All-american Council - STUPID! PHARISAICAL! FUNDAMENTALISM!
#5.1.2 Anonymous on 2009-11-22 10:09
My name is David, as in David Barrett, not "Barrett"!! By the way, what is your name??? Oh, that's right!!! You don't have the honesty to let us know what it is, do you? Try again, my friend!!!
#184.108.40.206 David Barrett on 2009-11-22 20:07
Are you kidding me? 4 cassocks a year? At St. Tikhon's we wear them all day in school, at events, and at services. Many of us have had the same cassock for going on 3 years. Are you guys playing football in your cassocks?
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2009-11-24 15:46
From One Anonymous to Another,
Why is it so difficult for you to accept was is the tradition of the OCA when it comes to cassocks at an AAC? If Met. Philip doesn't wear a cassock to church functions, that is his tradition. I have been a priest for 30 years and cassocks have always been wore at AAC events. Cassock and Riasa. That is the custom and so be it.
It is good that we argue about such minor things, not the nature of salvation or the incarnation and resurrection as other church bodies do when they gather, yet, having been a priest who did not wear outside of the church, to one who now does wear a cassock often outside the church, I can tell you that wearing a cassock does not make me more a priest but it sure does invite questions from people who are interested in who I am and thus has afforded me ample opportunities to invite people to the Orthodox Church to "Come and see." And, you know what, many have. So I guess, wearing a cassock outside the altar can, and in my case, does make a statement for Christ and His Church. It certainly isn't a big thing, but in a culture like ours where clergy are "underground" in public, it attracts attention which, again, in my case, has been positive.
So good for His Beatitude on the cassocks issue with OCA seminary students at SVS and STS.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2009-11-27 09:24
You are right the seminarians are not monastics, but they are Orthodox. The cassock is not a monastic garb, it is the clerical wear for Orthodox Clergy and Seminarians. It is what distinguishes us from the Romans and Protestants. But, then again you, as an SVS Alum, probably were taught the Anti-Orthodox Schmemann Model. May God forgive him!
(editor's note: What distinguishes us from Roman Catholics and Protestants is not the way we dress, for Catholics wear cassocks too - and not a few Protestants in many parts of the world. It is our faith with distinguishes us. And while we can all pray that God will forgive the sins of Fr. Alexander, as we should pray that he would forgive us our own, to suggest he was anti-Orthodox is just embarassing yourself in front of the world. )
#5.2 Anonymous on 2009-11-20 19:39
An anonymous person can't embarrass him-/herself. That's the thing! They can do dry-by "shootings" with their words and no problem!
Btw, I'm REALLY happy that we're now arguing about cassocks and collars and suits and "distinguishing characteristics" and all that jazz.
It's about time we got down to really important Orthodox business.
#5.2.1 Rdr. John on 2009-11-21 21:59
The Cassock Edict reveals some underlying attitudes that are problematic, and DO affect the bigger and more important issues. Priests wearing cassocks all day outside the Chapel or any church (especially if it is liturgical garb!) does not make one more Orthodox. We do the externals, while spiritually things are out of whack.
#22.214.171.124 Another anon on 2009-11-22 21:24
The issue is not being "more Orthodox." The issue is obediance: both to the bishop and the Tradition.
#126.96.36.199.1 antionymous on 2009-11-23 08:19
Cassocks are a part of tradition, not Tradition.
#188.8.131.52.1.1 Another anon on 2009-11-23 18:28
So are business suits.
#184.108.40.206.1.1.1 antionymous on 2009-11-24 03:17
"Anti-Orthodox Schmemann Model????" Are you crazy?
Apparently you know NOTHING of Fr. Alexander.
-It was by HIM that the correct liturgical reform of Orthodoxy was returned to in America.
-It was by HIM that thousands of young people either came to Orthodoxy or returned to Orthodoxy
-It was by HIM that the correct understanding of "frequent communion" in the Orthodox Church was revived
-It was by HIM that the proper understanding of Liturgical Theology was revealed
And the list goes on and on and on. It is YOU and those who influence your comments who are the Anti-Orthodox!
#5.2.2 Anonymous on 2009-11-23 10:20
Nice to see that the cult of personality is not limited to Philip.
#220.127.116.11 Heracleides on 2009-11-23 21:28
Having respect and love for a real theologian who helped us here on this continent and elsewhere rediscover our real liturgical sense and Tradition is not about a cult of personality. It's appreciating the gift God provided to us.
And for those of us who miss his presence in this world, it's a very good week to find and reread his last homily, given at Thanksgiving just weeks before he died.
#18.104.22.168.1 S Yazge on 2009-11-24 19:15
#22.214.171.124.1.1 MWP on 2009-11-25 13:13
Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't believe that Antiochian students attending SVS are under the omophor of JP.
#6 Yanni on 2009-11-20 17:55
"Oh THANK YOU Fr. John Behr for letting us wear our "civvies" with our families! THANK YOU!"
#7 Relieved on 2009-11-20 19:47
The directive came from Metropolitan Jonah; Fr John Behr was, along with Fr Chad, just relaying it to the students.
#7.1 pobrecita on 2009-11-23 18:43
You do not know that. The words are by Fr. John Behr's pen. No clergyman at the seminary received a letter from the Metropolitan. You misunderstand the dynamics of influence if you think Fr. John is just another recipient passing along a message.
#7.1.1 Relieved on 2009-11-24 07:17
I don't know that? Two priests signed a message that relayed a directive from the Metropolitan, and you are assigning responsibility for the directive to one of those priests individually. That makes no sense. The ultimate responsibility for this directive lies with Metropolitan Jonah. If you have an issue with the directive, take it up with the person who issued it, rather than shooting one of the messengers.
#126.96.36.199 pobrecita on 2009-11-25 16:04
#188.8.131.52 Ever and anon. on 2009-11-28 12:28
Well, maybe it's time for a new Metropolitan and time for +Jonah to go back to the monastery. Orthodox Fundamentalism is not what is needed in either the OCA nor Orthodox America. What IS needed are real Orthodox men, women & clerics bringing Orthodoxy to America - not long black robes, long hair & pony tails, long beards & funny hats!
#7.1.2 Anonymous on 2009-11-24 09:26
And traditional Orthodox clergy attire inhibits all that? Talk about a fundamentalist outlook! People who look differently than I do are evil!
#184.108.40.206 antionymous on 2009-11-25 11:45
Are you really suggesting that this decision was made in order to promote "Orthodox fundamentalism"?
I just can't believe you could accuse Met. Jonah, Fr. Behr, or Fr. Hatfield of something like that. The real, card-carrying "Orthodox fundamentalists" tend to think those three are the minions of Satan. You know, that's all because they are bent on destroying the Church with their demonic, Schmemannized nonsense, like their refusal to treat non-Orthodox (such as Anglicans and Malankaras) like dangerous plague vectors. That's along with whatever else they've done lately that people like the idiot behind "Voices from Russia" have been hyperventilating about.
Anyway, my point is that those three really don't fit in with the fundie Orthodox crowd at all. Ironically, as far as I know, Met Jonah, Fr. Behr, and Fr. Hatfield are all diligent wearers of cassocks and beards. But cassocks and beards do not a fundamentalist make. I just think you need to get a better handle on the different factions among Orthodox Christians, before you start accusing others of fundamentalism or focusing on externals.
(For my own part, Met. Jonah could ring in the next meeting of the Synod in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt for all I care.)
#220.127.116.11 Cordelia on 2009-11-27 23:29
I am dismayed to see that Met. Jonah has allied himself with Charles Colson and other conservative Evangelical leaders in signing their new "Manhattan Declaration" against abortion and same-sex unions. While I certainly agree that no religious organization should be compelled to perform ceremonies against its teachings, the OCA has traditionally done a good job of distancing itself from American politics and the "culture wars." For the Metropolitan to make common cause with these leaders of the social conservative movement--and to adopt their manner of equating what are, in fact, very different kinds of moral issues--is inappropriate and offensive, especially as the faithful of the OCA have not had an opportunity to discuss these very complex questions in an open-minded way.
Dear Mr. Clarke,
There are two elements in the Manhattan Declaration: an affirmation of a few basic Christian values and opposition to possible or proposed legislation that will force Christians to act against these values. Let me ask you which of the following is not an Orthodox Christian value:
"1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life;
2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and;
3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image."
Also, which part of the following is not right? "Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's."
Finally, you seem to indicate that the Orthodox signatories to the Declaration should not have done so because "the faithful of the OCA have not had an opportunity to discuss these very complex questions in an open-minded way." I am surprised that you would muzzle our bishops and priests because we have not had a discussion, a vote so to speak. Therefore, I rather think that you in reality disagree either with the Declaration itself; the fact that some of our bishops and priests allied themselves with heterodox Christians; or that they allied themselves with political conservatives. Am I right? Respectfully, Carl
#8.1 Carl on 2009-11-21 11:20
No way Carl. All they did is setup a straw man argument suggesting someone or some government is going to require them to do something and they said they won't do this something some government isn't going to make them do.
Silly at best.
As for stem cell research, I know an Orthodox person who has been healed through stem cell cancer treatment. And the church should take a position on this type of thing and it should be a discussion because there are multiple methods of getting stem cells.
Bad decision-making at worst.
When churches are told they have to do something by a government, I'll be the first in line to fight against it, too.
#8.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-21 20:53
Completely agree, Daniel (and Joseph as well).
This declaration is an engineered PR device to make a political splash for it's primary sponsors.
It would be better for us to step away from the public political arena on these matters and concentrate on a pastoral and personal approach. We should particularly be on guard against being used in others' political machinations.
There's much to question in the premise of this declaration, but no matter how laudable the subject matter, do we need to be part of these kinds of declarations? It smacks a bit of the Potemkin Village Orthodoxy so favored by the prior OCA administration -- "Look, we're important, we're players, we count!"
Better perhaps to systematically and consistently step back from this kind of thing and say, "We may agree with some of what you say, but we take a strictly pastoral and personal approach to these issues and do not want to be part of a political or polemical debate. Our witness is in how we live and how we minister to those in our midst who struggle with these issues."
#18.104.22.168 Rebecca Matovic on 2009-11-22 21:37
The Orthodox Christian Church has never taken a "strictly pastoral and personal approach to these issues." Why should it now?
#22.214.171.124.1 Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell on 2009-11-23 13:13
Rebecca Matovic writes:
"It would be better for us to step away from the public political arena on these matters and concentrate on a pastoral and personal approach."
Like Jeremiah? and Elijah? and John the Baptist?
#126.96.36.199.2 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-11-24 16:13
Rebecca, I was chagrined to read that you would have us Orthodox "take a strictly pastoral and personal approach to these issues" instead of supporting the Manhattan Declaration--as if pastoral theology and moral theology (especially social ethics) were somehow incompatible.
Too often I have, as a long-time Orthodox moral theologian, had to endure such a false dichotomy advanced by those who (1) simply dismiss moral theology as a proper theological discipline, (2) disdain the prophetic witness that it engenders, or (3) prefer to subsume it under the all-encompassing, seemingly more innocuous, and certainly less uncomfortable rubric of "pastoral." Thus "pastoral" may be used intentionally to cover a multitude of sins for which a more rigorous moral theology would mandate an earnest, determined opposition.
The Manhattan Declaration is not a panacea to all the ills, moral or otherwise, that beset our society today. However, it is a clear clarion call to battle three of the most corrosive sins in our increasingly hedonistic culture: sins against innocent human life, sins against the, at once, divinely ordained and civilized marital union of one man and one woman alone, and sins against a rightly ordered conscience. That's a rather good start in my estimation.
Rarely have so many Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, and Protestants spoken with a single eloquent voice on so profound a set of moral issues. I encourage all of the Orthodox faithful in America to join those few of us Orthodox bishops and theologians who were privileged to be included among the original signatories of the Manhattan Declaration.
#188.8.131.52.3 Fr. Alexander F. C. Webster on 2009-11-25 22:03
i so agree with you. personally i am very afraid of the so called christian right. believe me, if the protestant fundamentalists ruled america, we orthodox and roman catholics would be persecuted, and anybody else who does not share their believes. the puritans were very intolerant,remember the salem witch trials......why is europe so anti-christian, because europeans know history better then the average american. for many centuries the roman churche's inquisition brutally and sadistically tortured and burned anybody whom thy perceived as a heretic. the protestants did the same. calvin had his own friend servetus burned at the stake in geneva. in elizabethan england catholic priests were drawn and quartered for saying mess. then, we had the 30 years war and on, and on. and our own russian orthodox church persecuted the old-believers.protopop ST AVVAKUM was burned alive just because he refused to accept the so called reforms of patriarch nikon. why did the churches stop doing these horrible things? because of the rise of secular humanism, beginning in the 18th century, that curbed the churche's power.that's why the foundation fathers established separation of church and state. congress shall make no law establishing the practice of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, if i correctly remember, had to learn that stuff for citizenship. during world war2 catholic croatians killed 700'000 serbs just because they were orthodox. no religion should have any political power. look at iran, they have a theocracy,their country is run by the mullas, need i say more. adulterous women and fornicators were put to death too in christian europe a couple hundred years ago, just as they are now in iran and saudi arabia.THE CHURCH MUST HAVE NO POLITICAL POWER, period, GOD BLESS !!!!!
#184.108.40.206.4 Anonymous on 2009-11-26 17:12
Dear Respected Rebecca,
I'm sorry to hear you feel The Manhattan Declaration is "an engineered PR device to make a political splash for it's primary sponsors." I think it is a very necessary, very bold act of leadership, and I am proud the OCA took part.
You state "It would be better for us to step away from the public political arena on these matters," but these are NOT political issues. These are serious moral and spiritual issues, which unfortunately have been politicized. If the Church is to speak to our world, the Church must weigh in on such clear moral issues. Abortion destroys the soul of everyone involved. So does homosexuality.
I myself am a bit of a cynic, but I do not see The Manhattan Declaration as "political machinations." I don't see it as a play for importance. Indeed, if we wanted to show our importance, we would seek photo ops with Obama and leaders of Congress. Instead, Metropolitan JONAH, in this document and in his speeches, has taken the role of critic/prophet (a role so needed today!), and I applaud him for it.
Finally, I must say I don't know how you can disassociate what you call "a strictly pastoral and personal approach" from the simple statement of the rightness or wrongness of killing babies. Yes, we care and love people, and we deal with the aftermath of abortion, homosexuality, etc., but part of a pastoral and personal approach is to explain and define right from wrong, precisely because it is so harmful.
Daniel, you are incorrect in stating that "I know an Orthodox person who has been healed through stem cell cancer treatment." The Manhattan Declaration is speaking of destructive embryonic stem cell experimentation. NO ONE have EVER benefitted from destructive embryonic stem cell experimentation. In fact, the ONLY thing embryonic stem cells have succeeded in doing is create cancer in the brains of those who have had embryonic stem cells implanted in them.
You are confusing destructive embryonic stem cell experimentation, with adult stem cells, which HAVE proven effective in many cases to help and even in some cases to heal various maladies. There's an article on it at
(If that link doesn't work for you, try
The Church HAS taken a position on destructive embryonic stem cell experimentation, specifically calling it murder.
You state, "When churches are told they have to do something by a government, I'll be the first in line to fight against it, too." I believe it's long past time for us to get in line, my friend. Modern America has literally countless examples of government intrusion into religion. I applaud The Manhattan Declaration.
I appreciate your questions.
The Church is second to none in proclaiming the sanctity of life and the centrality of marriage, but it has remained relatively free of the kind of demagoguery and political advocacy that characterize some other religious groups.
If any proposed legislation were threatening to "compel" our churches to participate in abortions or same-sex unions, I would expect the bishops to weigh in, but of course this is inconceivable. I believe that the true motive for this declaration is not to assert churches' independence from government but rather to posture for greater political influence by cementing solidarity among right-wing interest groups.
Contemporary American political discourse tends to oversimplify intensely difficult issues. I recognize that the Church is not a democracy. But we are an ecclesial body. I am not asking for a vote, but for a frank discussion among the faithful of the American Orthodox Church. Such a discussion would in no way imperil our basic beliefs as Orthodox Christians.
Unfortunately, it's not inconceivable. There are many same sex couples out there, who would like nothing better than to have a "big, fat Greek wedding." If you provide a public service, you're vulnerable. Might as well draw a line in the sand now while the nation is still defending traditional marriage. If we wait, and the nation starts to wobble on this issue, we could lose this fight. - I wasn't aware that we had "frank discussions" on issues like abortion and same sex marriage. How can one "over simplify" the Church's teaching?
#220.127.116.11 Gail Sheppard on 2009-11-22 23:25
You are absolutely right, Gail. And it is as obvious to believers with eyes to see it as it is invisible for those who align themselves with the world.
I would have been happier with this declaration if it had also referenced other forms of destruction, such as war and capital punishment. It also dismays me that the underlying cause for most women seeking abortions in the first place--namely, economic hardship or injustice--is not addressed at all. Anyone who is sincere about limiting or ending abortion in this country should be working night and day to enact comprehensive universal health care, a livable minimum wage, and access to affordable child care. Any talk of outlawing or criminalizing only serves to penalize the most vulnerable in our society, without offering them any kind of realistic option. And if anyone thinks adoption is a viable alternative, they clearly have no experience with adoption procedures in this country.
It is very facile to say "abortion is murder," or some variant on this. It's very easy to say "marriage is a sacred bond between one man and one woman." I don't disagree fundamentally with these statements, but they leave out the fact that real people are being faced with real dilemmas. Those dilemmas require compassionate responses beyond mere sloganeering. The 17-year-old high school drop-out heroin addict who was raped is a real person. (I know such a person.) The woman who can't support the five kids she has, and whose husband (or church!) forbids birth control faces a choice that is horrifying no matter how you look at it. (I know this person, too.) The gay partners who have been faithful to each other for an entire lifetime but cannot receive the same legal protections of a heterosexual who has been married a half-dozen times have a legitimate point that bears discussing. (I know these people as well.)
Finally, I certainly believe our country would be better off if spiritual values were in the ascendant. But our freedom to hold our beliefs and values depends on our willingness to allow others the same freedom to hold differing views. Democracy doesn't work without at least that minimum level of tolerance; we, as a minority faith, cannot fail to extend the same considerations to those with whom we disagree that we expect for ourselves.
#8.1.3 Morton on 2009-11-24 10:18
I don't disagree, Morton. We should put our time, effort, and money where our mouth is.
#18.104.22.168 Gail Sheppard on 2009-11-25 10:23
Thank you, Morton. I'm going to cut-and-paste your post so I can put it on my Facebook wall. I've been looking for a way to say what you have said so well.
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2009-11-25 18:13
You wrote....is inappropriate and offensive, especially as the faithful of the OCA have not had an opportunity to discuss these very complex questions in an open-minded way."
Believing in Christ and in His precepts really can't be done in an "open-minded way." I believe it is "His way or the high way." So what do you think will happen when it is discussed open-minded? I agree with Carl. I'm glad that we had the gumption to finally do what we need to do....establish the line in the sand and stand by it!
#8.2 Lizzie on 2009-11-21 18:28
Joseph Clarke writes:
"For the Metropolitan to make common cause with these leaders of the social conservative movement--and to adopt their manner of equating what are, in fact, very different kinds of moral issues--is inappropriate and offensive, especially as the faithful of the OCA have not had an opportunity to discuss these very complex questions in an open-minded way."
Two points, if I may:
One: abortion and the redefinition of marriage are not complex issues. They are straight-forward moral questions---the kinds of questions that bishops are supposed to address as part of their pastoral responsibility.
Second: no Orthodox bishop needs an "open-minded" discussion on these matters prior to addressing them in his pastoral office.
#8.3 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-11-22 17:40
Your response is a convenient simplification to what was actually stated.
They took a political position against something that has never been discussed by ANYONE. That isn't those issues, it was the notion the US government would make the churches do something they don't want to do. They basically said some Mysterious Democrat might make us do this some day so we should say we won't. It is a shameful place to stand with Colson and a straw man argument. Name that Democrat (Obama is implied, but that's a lie) and stop all the baloney speculation. Stock picking is a better use of time than this declaration was...
And you conveniently left out stem cells in your response. The church does need a discussion on stem cells because stem cells save lives. By taking a reasonable position, perhaps the influence might be more appropriate than condemning the use of stem cells altogether.
On its face, this Declaration looks good, but when you look closely at it; its as bad as Obama signing the hate crimes legislation. On its face, that legislation looks like it will protect some people from violence, but it also declares certain classes more protected than others, which is a violation of all notions of equality and the US constitution. He signed it because it was a piece of candy (if you call violent crime punishment candy) for homosexuals who supported him.
From my perspective, Metropolitan Jonah seems naive.
You and I both know there is nothing in the Gospels about stem cell cancer treatment, so it is worthy of discussion.
And furthermore, it is a greater charge of a priest or bishop to bring people to the Word than to bring a government to the Word. We know this won't ever happen, and in the US, we don't want it to ever. A theocracy of what religion? Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Muslim, Orthodox? Ish
Or if Metropolitan Jonah is trying to influence us to become conservatives, he hasn't really done what he has been called to do either now has he?
Accepting abortion as a hideous, albeit legal practice may lead to a completely different response from the Orthodox church. A prime example of this is alive today in St. George's Orthodox Cathedral in Wichita, KS. They created a charitable ministry designed to help women that otherwise might consider abortion. Their work is a far cry from standing with Colson and a straw man argument. Are you going to accuse them of participating in abortion? We'd rather not, but we both hope they are being impactful, and by that standard, the government has made the church respond, even if Metropolitan Jonah is pretending the church won't participate in something noone asked us to...
It is a really poor Declaration.
Wouldn't it have been better for Metropolitan Jonah to declare the Orthodox church would support mothers considering abortion due to poverty? Its a lot tougher isn't it?
If anyone would like to give to St. George's Cathedral in Wichita to support impoverished mothers considering abortion, their charitable ministry is The Treehouse and the link is wichita tree house dot com (no spaces). They didn't ask me to solicit for them, but I think they have a great mission and it is an Orthodox response to abortion.
#8.3.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-22 19:35
There is nothing inherently wrong with ADULT stem cell therapy, but EMBYRONIC stem cell therapy kills a human being. And adult stems cells actually work whereas embryonic do not.
You are mistaken if you think the government will not force churches to alter their beliefs. There is at least one Roman Catholic adoption agency that has had to close its doors because it would not allow same-sex couples to adopt in order to continue to receive government grants. Pity the poor children who can no longer be adopted through that good organization now.
As someone stated elsewhere here, there is no conscience clause for healthcare workers who cannot give out birth control or abortion information based on their religious beliefs.
Look at all the cases that the Alliance Defense Fund has taken on.
(Editor's note: It is incorrect to say that the Roman Catholic Adoption Agency in Boston "had" to close its doors. The Catholic Church made the decision that it did not want to operate without public funds. It choose to close, rather than obey the law, which it was obligated to do if it had sought to continue to receive public funds. Don't take public funds, and you are not obligated to obey society's anti-discrimination laws.
Secondly, there is no evidence children are not being adopted because this agency closed its doors - they are simply no longer being placed by Catholic social services.
Finally, there are conscience clauses galore - but one enters a really difficult area if my health care is determined by your religious beliefs, rather than mine. Or vice-versa.)
#126.96.36.199 Michele Driver on 2009-11-23 13:36
Mark, I appreciate your editorial comments, but you are quite wrong on this one. It is absolutely correct to say the Roman Catholic Adoption Agency in Boston had to close its doors, because it had lost a major part of its funding. It was not the Catholic Church making the decision, but the new law which forced them to close or be party to immorality.
Secondly, it is rediculous to state that a major adoption agency closing its doors does not have an effect on adoptions. Of course some children are not being adopted because this agency no longer places them.
Finally, having a conscience clause to protect Christian doctors and nurses from performing abortions, which the Obama administration has undercut, does not mean your health care is determined by others' religious beliefs. Just the opposite: Societal immorality will not force Christians into killing.
I must agree with Father Hodges on this one. And BTW, my husband and I proudly signed the Man. Dec. as soon as we read it. Kudos to Met. Jonah and the other Orthodox signatories of this document for their clear moral leadership. I cannot for the life of me understand Orthodox Christians objecting to this. We are Americans. This document is a statement of our point of view--it carries with it no state power or enforcement. If you don't agree with it, don't sign it. If I do agree with it, I have every right in the world (or at least, in this country) to sign it and to have my voice heard in the public arena!
#188.8.131.52.1.1 Cathryn Tatusko on 2009-12-02 14:35
Exactly! This whole myth that there is some vast conspiracy out there in the government that is going to try and force Churches to have gay weddings, and force Orthodox/Catholic/Protestant doctors perform abortions is totally absurd. But what better way to bring squabbling Christians together than to give us a common enemy? Just ask the Arians and Trinitarians (if we could) how one minute they were ready to burn each other's eyes out of their sockets, and the next (with the rise of the Emperor Julian the Apostate) they all of sudden din't see much of a difference and said "we're not all that different". Unfortunately for certain perceptions, and fortunately for all of us, we have no equavelant to Julian the Apostate to rally the Christians around so we just invent stories like "death panels" and the idea that before long the liberal government is going to be forcing priests to marry homosexuals. (frankly I've never heard any mainstream gay rights group argue for such a thing, what they argue for is "civil" marriage,now I don't agree with that, but those are frankly two different things, just ask all the Orthodox convert couples who are told they aren't really married until they have an Orthodox wedding)
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2009-11-23 15:38
You stated, "we have no equavelant to Julian the Apostate to rally the Christians around"
Haven't you been following the news, we have "Obama the Muslim,Jew,Christian, abortion on demand, keep the wars going, give money to the banksters, illegal president, born in Kenya, without a clue" equivalents to keep us busy. lol
Not much rallying taking place. And, there aren't apparently very many Christians around.
#220.127.116.11.1 Yanni on 2009-11-25 15:37
Daniel Fall writes:
"The church does need a discussion on stem cells because stem cells save lives. By taking a reasonable position, perhaps the influence might be more appropriate than condemning the use of stem cells altogether. . . . You and I both know there is nothing in the Gospels about stem cell cancer treatment, so it is worthy of discussion."
Vacuous remarks like those are evidently what will pass for "open minded" discussion.
A principled discussion, on the other hand, should run something like this:
First, the harvesting of stem cells from the deliberate destruction of living embryos is an intrinsically evil act.
Second, no good consequence of an intrinsically evil act changes the moral nature of that act.
There is an obvious inference to be drawn from these two premises.
Moral discourse is about good and evil. As soon as someone uses the word "appropriate" in a discussion of morality, he has already stepped outside the realm of moral discourse.
The Manhattan Declaration refused to do that.
#18.104.22.168 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-11-23 15:45
I recently read or heard somewhere (sorry I am unable to give citation) that stem cells can now be harvested from non-embryonic tissue. I would think that use of such stem cells would not violate any moral standards provided no human being was deliberately injured or murdered in the process.
#22.214.171.124.1 Terry C. Peet on 2009-11-23 17:33
I read the Manhattan Declaration and it is a piece of garbage.
Here is an excerpt:
'Our concern is not confined to our own nation. Around the globe, we are witnessing cases of genocide and "ethnic cleansing," the failure to assist those who are suffering as innocent victims of war, the neglect and abuse of children, the exploitation of vulnerable laborers, the sexual trafficking of girls and young women, the abandonment of the aged, racial oppression and discrimination, the persecution of believers of all faiths, and the failure to take steps necessary to halt the spread of preventable diseases like AIDS. We see these travesties as flowing from the same loss of the sense of the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life that drives the abortion industry and the movements for assisted suicide, euthanasia, and human cloning for biomedical research. And so ours is, as it must be, a truly consistent ethic of love and life for all humans in all circumstances.'
THE IMPLICATION HERE IS THAT the signers are against these things and our current government is for it. And that is a blatant lie and I'm tired of liars in government and church.
#126.96.36.199.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-23 19:00
That's a ridiculous charge and not at all what that excerpt says. It very clearly objects to the:
loss of the sense of the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life that drives the abortion industry and the movements for assisted suicide, euthanasia, and human cloning for biomedical research.
It is warning the US government that the loss of the dignity of the human person and (loss of) the sanctity of human life can lead to many different societal ills throughout the world.
#188.8.131.52.2.1 Anonymous on 2009-11-23 20:52
I did not read this declaration to be against any particular government; similar points had been made repeatedly over the years, particularly by Christian leaders of all denominations. On the other hand, I can understand why Mr. Fall took the declaration to be directed at the administration of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi. Is it not a fact that both have been pro-abortion, to such a degree that, in the case of Mr. Obama, he was instrumental in killing a bill in the Illinois Senate that would have required some protection of babies who were born alive during an abortion procedure. His reasoning was that to do so would have been too burdensome on the abortionist. This may not be a culture of death per se, but it is utilitarianism that is opposed to fundamental Christian values.
#184.108.40.206.2.2 Carl on 2009-11-24 06:00
Our current government is plainly FOR abortion, and any person who is for abortion, assisted-suicide, euthanasia, and human cloning plainly does not hold "the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life" as high as those against such evils. To the extent that people publicly advocate the cheapening of human life, they encourage others to hold human life in even lower regard. The statement is therefore entirely reasonable and honest.
#220.127.116.11.2.3 Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell on 2009-11-24 08:06
I disagree that the implication of this excerpt has anything to do with accusing the United States, or any of its political parties, of supporting these particular atrocities. It is, however, very clear, and very true, that the loss of the knowledge of the sacredness of human life contributes to all these ills. That is the point of the paragraph. it seems to me you are trying to discern motives and implications based upon your own preconceptions of how "conservatives" think. Perhaps you need to explore your own biases. Additionally, you yourself have been oversimplifying the "stem cell" issue. You have left the term quite general; whereas, the Manhattan Declaration is quite clear and specific that embryonic stem cell research is evil. Considering the Church's extremely rigid stand from its inception against the murder of the unborn and infants, I fail to understand why an Orthodox Christian would find offense at this very specific denunciation. Last, it may well be that this is not the most effective strategy, and time may tell. However, the threat to religious liberty is, I believe, real. In regard to the Catholic adoption service, I really don't know how feasible it is to continue to operate an adoption service (with the extensive public and social work oversight that I imagine is required) without public funding. A Catholic College (Abbey College?) was recently directed by a government agency to offer insurance covering abortion services in spite of the Catholic Church's clear historic stand against abortion. That case is being appealed. I recall reading about a Christian wedding photographer in New Mexico who was fined a significant amount of money for refusing, based upon her religious beliefs, to photograph a lesbian union ceremony. Pharmacies owned by individuals with a pro-life ethic have been told they must offer the "morning after pill." Religious/conscience exemptions in regard to abortion practice are being weakened. Perhaps all of this will die down and the Constitutional principle of freedom of religion and association will somehow reassert itself, but it may be that that expectation is naive.
#18.104.22.168.2.4 Brian Jackson, MD on 2009-11-25 00:30
you stated"it seems to me you are trying to discern motives and implications based upon your own preconceptions"
Did the declaration not name the current administration as sort of 'bad guys'? Not sure how much discernment is required on my part.
you stated the church's position that "embryonic stem cell research is evil"
So, leftover embs from invitro are supposed to be thrown away and that is a better use of them? I'm oversimplifying? I didn't. I think the successful use of adult stem cells warrants discussion about others, rather than a head in the sand. I don't think the ManDec said embryonic stem cells harvested from abortion, if it did, I'll accept the correction. Otherwise, the signers believe in throwing away unneeded excesses of in vitro. They could be lauding the use of in vitro. Isn't that the entire point to promote life? How about healing? Furthermore, couldn't the study of embryonic cells be done with intent? That is, not from a terminated pregnancy, but planned research? The destruction of embryos happens naturally when a woman has a miscarriage. Is this a sin? Is this the government's fault? It's Frankenstinian, if you will, but a lot of research is just that.
As for the constitutional freedom of religion, you and I couldn't agree more actually. I don't think any government ought to mandate what a merchant sells.
As for the Catholic church adoption agency, I had to quit a job because my boss asked me to lie. Nobody cried for me and the laws were on her side. If Massachusetts law won't allow the Catholic church to run an adoption agency without providing abortion counseling, smells like it wasn't really an adoption agency, but perhaps a place counseling pregnant women.
Finally, the ManDec did use the straw man argument, and made a lot of implications about what might happen, and it was directed toward Obama and it was a political statement. I'll hold I'd rather have Metropolitan Jonah working on making it possible that more people share my belief that abortion is a sin, rather than convincing the government he won't do something they didn't ask him to do.
#22.214.171.124.2.4.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-25 17:31
You said, "Did the declaration not name the current administration as sort of 'bad guys'? Not sure how much discernment is required on my part."
Yes, another part of the Manhattan Declaration did, but not the portion you excerpted. I still hold that the excerpt you pointed out is a more general statement about Christian principles in regard to the value and sacredness of human life and the destruction that results in various ways when these principles are ignored.
You said, "you stated the church's position that 'embryonic stem cell research is evil.'"
Well, not precisely. What I actually said was that the Manhattan Declaration took this position. However, I also happen to believe that the Church's historic teaching regarding the sacredness of human life from conception seems to exactly agree with this particular statement in the Manhattan Declaration.
You said, "So, leftover embs from invitro are supposed to be thrown away and that is a better use of them? I'm oversimplifying? I didn't. I think the successful use of adult stem cells warrants discussion about others, rather than a head in the sand."
You most certainly had oversimplified by only using the term 'stem cell' research without making the distinction in your earlier statements. Whether or not the distinction is important to you, it is nonetheless important to state since the Manhattan Declaration condemns only embryo-destructive research. I do not have my head in the sand. Embryo-destructive research is not something concerning which I am in denial. To be frank, it is murder, and it is not justified. It is especially not justified when science has shown us how to develop and utilize stem cells which are not embryo-destructive. The Great Feast of the Annunciation bears witness to the sacredness and reality of human life from the point of conception. Additionally, I do not believe that these unused cells should either be exploited or trashed. The appropriate response would be for these human bodies to be buried and for our society never intentionally to destroy human life again in order to exploit it for research. I believe that such burial is not trashing a human body any more than is the burial of my grandfather.
You said, "I don't think the ManDec said embryonic stem cells harvested from abortion, if it did, I'll accept the correction."
I quote: "For example, human embryo-destructive research and its public funding are promoted in the name of science and in the cause of developing treatments and cures for diseases and injuries."
You said, "Otherwise, the signers believe in throwing away unneeded excesses of in vitro. They could be lauding the use of in vitro. Isn't that the entire point to promote life? How about healing? Furthermore, couldn't the study of embryonic cells be done with intent? That is, not from a terminated pregnancy, but planned research?"
The Church has taught that the intentional destruction of an 'embryo' through abortion is murder precisely because it is the destruction of a human life. Substitute the term "human being" in place of "embryonic cells" above, and the sentence becomes quite horrifying-- and more starkly honest to the situation. I agree, however, that this raises serious questions about the appropriateness of any in vitro procedures, particularly those which have any intention of "wasting" any of the embryos. In regard to healing, there are many promising avenues of therapies derived from study of adult stem cells, and I strongly support pursuing this. But healing at the cost of someone else's life is despicable. Your concept of "promot[ing] life" at the cost of life is Orwellian. It becomes even more so as scientific progress in regard to adult stem cells render such research more and more difficult to justify even on a pragmatic basis.
You said, "The destruction of embryos happens naturally when a woman has a miscarriage. Is this a sin?"
What a ludicrous statement. I'll let it pass without further comment.
You said, "Is this the government's fault? It's Frankenstinian, if you will, but a lot of research is just that."
"A lot" of embryo-destructive research certainly is, but there is far greater research in areas that involve no intentional loss of human life. I would not characterize most ethical research as "Frankensteinian."
You said, "As for the Catholic church adoption agency, I had to quit a job because my boss asked me to lie. Nobody cried for me and the laws were on her side. If Massachusetts law won't allow the Catholic church to run an adoption agency without providing abortion counseling, smells like it wasn't really an adoption agency, but perhaps a place counseling pregnant women."
First, good for you for standing on principle regardless of cost. However, I think you confused two issues I noted regarding the Catholic Church. The adoption agency was one issue. The second was an explicitly Roman Catholic College being ordered to make sure that their medical insurance policy included coverage for abortion, in spite of the fact that no one could possibly have any question about the historic and very consistent stand that Catholicism has taken that abortion is murder. Abortion counseling was not an issue in this case.
You said, "Finally, the ManDec did use the straw man argument..."
I disagree entirely.
You said, "...and made a lot of implications about what might happen..."
I hope it is not prophetic in this regard.
You said, "...and it was directed toward Obama and it was a political statement."
To some extent it was, but not quite in the section you earlier excerpted.
You said, "I'll hold I'd rather have Metropolitan Jonah working on making it possible that more people share my belief that abortion is a sin, rather than convincing the government he won't do something they didn't ask him to do."
And here you seem to imply the decision can only be either/or, rather than both/and. In this way, I infer that those who would agree with such a statement are somehow at greater risk than you of not acting on principle in a persuasive and Christian way. This is actually quite a presumptuous conclusion, and, in a way, sets up its own collective strawman.
#126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Brian Jackson, MD on 2009-11-30 18:08
Thanks for the extended dialogue Brian. I don't want to get into the point by point with you further, but my point about miscarriage deserves a clarification on your non-comment aloofness and my own terseness. Suppose abortion was illegal, you can't enforce it any more than you can stop an intended or unintended miscarriage. This was my point, albeit made poorly.
At the end of the day, I don't think Christian or Muslim or some other religions laws and the laws of a free society can ever be the same. And I don't want them to be the same and that is my perogative, even when I am a Christian.
I'd rather have a cleric say as much rather than condemn a man like Obama as evil.
Especially when 66 million people voted for him. Those 66 million people weren't voting to support church sponsored abortion or church sponsored gay marriage, so why alienate them?
Taking a political side is not what I expect from my Metropolitan. And that is what he did.
If those 66 million people read the ManDec, how many do you suppose would decide to become Christians if they weren't? Probably none Brian. So, 66 million people are all messed up? Hardly. Although I'm sure the losers would like to think so.
The ManDec is a mistake because it takes a political side. Our religion cannot intertwine itself with the laws of a free society. A religion like ours must follow a higher standard and we must recognize that as a difference. Our religion doesn't need to say Obama is a bad guy or a good guy. It can say we don't believe in abortion or destructive embrionic research or gay marriage.
But the ManDec went way too far.
'No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage'. This is an excerpt of the ManDec. Why does Metropolitan Jonah care about the civil right benefits of married or unmarried persons or "non-martial" relationships in the US or any civil rights treatments of relationships, partners, llps, corporations, etc? Why? Why? Why? Does he expect a married person deserves higher civil rights than unmarried persons or higher rights for married persons than nonmarried relationships? This is really bizarre Brian. Since when does Metropolitan Jonah weigh in on civil rights matters? NEVER. I attest it isn't his place and until the end of time I will be disappointed he coined in on it. If he had demanded equal civil rights for married and unmarried persons, or for civil unions between any two people, whether they schtoop or not, I might have agreed with the position he took. If we closly examine the civil rights afforded to married persons, the biggest is perhaps end of life, hospital visitation stuff. Why in the name of God do you or I or Metropolitan Jonah care if a homosexual person or any other person gets to help their partner or another human with end of life issues? I guess Metropolitan Jonah and the Colson gang would rather have the state do it? Oh, that's right, they didn't think of that twist to their false ideology. So many roads to go down, which one should we take? How about beating up the gays? They don't deserve any rights and its politically safe for me as Metropolitan because we don't have a lot of gay Orthodox Christians. I attest it is sicker to beat up on the piddly rights they are asking for than the churches belief in the immorality of homosexuality itself. Crush the meek lesbians!
As for homosexual parental rights, if the church decided, a mother who became gay after giving birth would not be allowed to see her child for her immorality? This isn't much different from the adoption agency deal. If its parental rights, I think the jury is still out on that one. I don't see what's so terrible about a gay couple adopting a lonely child. Adjective added for reality check.
America is a free country and that means noone can impose their religious views on another person. That is why religious leaders wisely stay out of political discourse or maintain the status quo.
Not sure what the big guy upstairs feels about preachers holding their own. I think the grade might be on additions to the herd, but what do I know?
#184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-12-08 20:50
You really need to calm down and take an honest look at these issues. You are shooting from the hip, and your assumptions about the facts are wrong. You wrote:
"If Massachusetts law won't allow the Catholic church to run an adoption agency without providing abortion counseling, smells like it wasn't really an adoption agency, but perhaps a place counseling pregnant women."
The Boston Globe wrote:
"Catholic Charities stuns state, ends adoptions
Gay issue stirred move by agency
By Patricia Wen, Globe Staff | March 11, 2006
"In a stunning turn of events, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley and leaders of Catholic Charities of Boston announced yesterday that the agency will end its adoption work, deciding to abandon its founding mission, rather than comply with state law requiring that gays be allowed to adopt children."
#18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell on 2009-12-01 08:00
Thanks for the clarification, there has been some confusion on the cause.
Quite frankly, I agree with the Catholic churches position. If the laws of a free nation differ from the laws of the Catholic church and the Catholic church cannot follow the laws of the free nation because they are substandard to their theology. They should close in protest.
#126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-12-08 19:20
I agree with you Daniel. It is a much better witness to help our fellow man, than to produce edicts. Regarding the cassock issue, it is more important to tend to those things which are important. Cassocks, if I am correct were introduced by the moslems when they were in Orthodox lands and the moslems were ruling the lands. It was a way for the moslems to make clergy conform to their cuture. The business suit wasn't yet invented.
#184.108.40.206 cbshinn on 2009-11-24 18:48
After commenting on another site that the cassock wars were over, I did feel the need to correct this historical inaccuracy. (Not that it should have a bearing on the discussion one way or another, I just want it to be corrected.) The cassock was the traditional undergarment of antiquity. The Muslims encouraged the wearing of riassa and kamilavki in public to denote clerical status. However, the Muslims did not invent them, they were worn in the Eastern Roman Empire by officials of the court to denote their rank and then assumed by the clergy.
#220.127.116.11.1 (unfortunately) anonymous on 2009-12-07 22:56
I respectfully disagree with your post. You state that "The OCA has traditionally done a good job of distancing itself from American politics and the 'culture wars.'" In my view, this is a bad thing. We claim to be "The Orthodox Church in America," but have little or nothing to say about some of the most important moral issues of our time. We are not engaging our culture enough, in my opinion. I applaud The Manhattan Declaration as at least our leaders speaking the truth to our nation in a way that one should expect from national leaders.
Secondly, you lament the Metropolitan's making "common cause with these leaders of the social conservative movement." In my view, this is a good thing. As Orthodox in the West we tend toward isolationism (and prideful triumphalism), content to sit by and watch our society self-destruct, with families being destroyed. I am proud to have my Metropolitan weigh in on today's most pressing moral issues. Isn't that what good episcopal leadership is supposed to do?
Lastly, you describe in negative terms an "equating what are, in fact, very different kinds of moral issues (as) is inappropriate and offensive, especially as the faithful of the OCA have not had an opportunity to discuss these very complex questions in an open-minded way." I must also respectfully take issue with this, as well. There is no need for Christians to discuss the three issues raised by The Manhattan Declaration: abortion, homosexuality, and destructive embryonic stem cell research. The holy Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, our Canons, etc. are absolutely clear. These evils harm everyone involved. Indeed, to live where such evils are tolerated destroys the souls of every citizen, infesting the very ground with the spirit of death. (Canaan had to be completely destroyed, not only all men, but women and children, and not only all humans, but cattle and all beasts; Sodom and Gomorrah was totally consumed by God's fire.)
I think one of our greatest problems is that we take God's Word, particularly God's moral teachings, too lightly.
Might I add the following names of Orthodox signatories of the "Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience" to your very abbreviated list?
His Grace, The Right Reverend Bishop Basil Essey
Fr. Chad Hatfield, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse
President, American Orthodox Institute;
Fr. Patrick Reardon
Pastor, All Saints' Antiochian Orthodox Church
#9 Overseas Observer on 2009-11-21 08:43
And also Fr. Alexander Webster.
#9.1 Terry C. Peet on 2009-11-21 10:30
Thanks to Fr. Patrick and all who signed the Manhattan Declaration. Interested parties may also sign in a secondary way here:
This protodeacon was more than glad to join what is now well over 100,000 people in addition to the original signatories (the ranks swelled by over 1500 while I wrote this post).
While this is slightly dated, my congressman's office said as recently as two weeks ago that the current administration has not changed in its approach to taxpayer funding for abortions in the healthcare proposal. http://www.factcheck.org/2009/09/obamas-health-care-speech/
Also, our editor is not quite correct in his assertion that the adoption arm of Catholic Charities in Boston was only about funding. The new Massachusetts law forbids adoption agencies whether funded or not to discriminate against homosexuals. I don't think the Archdiocese was receiving any funding prior to the new law, anyway, precisely because of their fear that to accept funds would be used as a means of foisting the homosexual agenda on their operations. Not content with that, the gay lobbyists and the Massachusetts legislature forced the issue. Either way, the Boston Archdiocese has consistently centered the discussion on the compulsion issue and has not mentioned funding. The new law foists an unacceptable compulsion to comply with a law that is immoral and unjust, funding or no; thus it is fair to say that the State of Massachusetts forced Catholic Charities out of the adoption business, and this is precisely the sort of thing that the Declaration tries to address in 10,000 words or less (Cf. M. L. King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail").
The comments here, at least the disparaging ones, regarding the Manhattan Declaration are rather surprising. The Orthodox who signed, including Fr. Patrick, represent some of Orthodox America's most astute theological minds. It matters not at all that evangelicals and Charles Colson and others happened to sign it. The truth matters, the declaration speaks the truth, and the Orthodox faith is not really interested in politics per se but is intent on encouraging us to be authentically human; being authentically human does not include the figurative eating of our young.
It is true that there is little in the Manhattan Declaration to cheer those who, despite the clear teaching of the Church, would rather take sides with Hittites, Canaanites, sodomites, pornites and abortionites. However, numerous prominent "progressive" religious leaders, mostly from mainline protestantism, have not hesitated to speak very boldly in support of any number of causes (including unrestricted abortion, homosexual "marriage," the proposed national healthcare plan, unbounded sexual license, etc.) and have not been castigated in the way the people who signed the declaration have here among those who are purportedly their faith-mates. To cry "foul" when a group of Christians merely tries to participate in the public debate (they are also U. S. citizens!) is puzzling at best.
If we really want freedom of religion, including religion's freedom to attempt to influence and inform public policy (remember, the "progressive" wing of Christians not only do it, they get called in by the New York Times!), we should expect disagreement and not a little messiness. How refreshing is this new complication presented by the Manhattan Declaration!
#9.1.1 Protodeacon Michael Myers on 2009-11-25 06:19
Father Deacon, thank you for your words!
Too many of our good people have bought the gay-agenda lie that to point out what someone does is harmful is equal to hating the person. In fact, when the Church warns us, it is out of love.
Too many of our good people have bought the pro-abortion lie that "you cannot legislate morality." In fact, every civilization based on law is doing, and must do, just that.
Too many of our good people have bought the cosmetic-industry lie that human beings --made in God's image-- may be "harvested" so that one's facial cream can make one look younger.
Too many of our good people have bought the destructive embryonic stem-cell experimentation lie that unique, living, human persons may be artificially mass produced for slaughter in medical experimentation.
In my opinion, what is desperately needed is MORE Manhattan Declarations, not less. Tragically, it is our own people --those who are supposed to know and obey God's Word-- that seem most in need of such declarations from our bishops.
Gos bless them. All I can say, is where is the rest of the Orthodox leadership?
#9.2 antionymous on 2009-11-21 16:06
Reread the article, people. As presented here, His Beatitude's instruction refers to OCA CLERGY (presumably whether faculty, staff, or student), and says nothing about non-OCA clergy or seminarians in general. It is entirely within His Beatitude's discretion to issue an instruction to clergy under his omophorion on how they are to dress in public, and that is what he appears to have done.
#10 John Congdon on 2009-11-21 09:35
As a current seminarian, I can assure you that no one here has taken Met Jonah's instructions to his OCA clergy as anything but just that; an instruction to OCA clergy.
Since the letter was published, there has been no change to the traditional "chapel attire" policy (Black cassock for non-clergy men; dresses, skirts, dress pants with blouses, or sweaters for women; black cassock and ryassa, and Pectoral cross if applicable, for all clergy), and no one has expected our Antiochian students to defy Metropolitan Phillip.
Accusations to the contrary are simply hysterical attempts to create an issue where one does not exist.
#10.1 Anonymous on 2009-11-21 19:59
Regarding the questions about SVS cassock policy:
Under the previous guidlines all male students wore cassocks (and Ryassa if clergy) to chapel and at any other time specified by the seminary, such as Orthodox Education Day. However, no students, clergy or otherwise, were permitted to wear cassocks apart from chapel and specifically designated times, to class for instance.
Antiochian students conform to these guidelines and wear cassocks at any time the rest of us would have them on. They do not wear suits to church. This continues to be their dress policy.
The new guidelines only affect student clergy under the omophorion of Metropolitan Jonah. Under the new guidelines student clergy are expected to wear cassocks at all times unless otherwise specified by the administration, such as our annal memorial day picnic perhaps. Those of us who are not ordained continue to wear civvies most of the time just as we always have. I hope this clears things up a bit.
#11 john Cox on 2009-11-21 10:17
For anyone wanting more information on the Manhattan Declaration or to sign it themselves, here's a link: http://tr.im/FrpR
#12 Peter C. on 2009-11-21 11:54
I read the latest news items of the OCA, namely the elmination of the Director of Communications postion and the cassock edict by Metropolitan Jonah. It seems to me that both decisions were unwise.
No offense to Mark Stokoe but news about the OCA should come from other people besides Mark. I don't know Fr. Andrew Jarmus but really the news quality for the last year has been dreadful. The OCA communications have trickled down to just a few random bits of information. There have been some months when it appeared that almost nothing took place in the OCA. It appears that the problem was the person in the position not the position itself. I hope that Metropolitan Jonah rethinks his position.
The second issue, the wearing of cassocks, was never an issue at St. Vladimir's Seminary when I attended. Was this some kind of decision affecting spiritual formation? If some seminarian(s) didn't go to chapel with dressed appropriately I certainly think that the deans could have handled it. It should be our faith which distinguishes us not whether or not a priest has a clerical collar or a cassock. Frankly there are times when both styles of dress are appropriate. It just seems like an incredibly petty decision to make. And in the mean time, the defrocked, openly defiant ex-priest who is suing the OCA continues to walk around in a cassock in a church under Metropolitan Jonah and he does nothing. Talk about chocking on the gnats and letting the elephants walk by.
#13 Anon. Orthodox Priest on 2009-11-21 23:08
Umm, so what is the point of this whole discussion? Okay, the clergy collars are popular among the Antiochians and we've heard stories of "hierarchs behaving badly" with clergy who want to wear cassocks outside of a church ... okay.. we get it, so what's new here? Is this really what we should be focusing on -- the cassocks and the beards and all that other very important stuff that are so important to the faith that Christ established?
So how bout this -- seminarians can go to St T or St V and wear cassocks and go around in bear feet in winter... so is everyone happy then? What is the point of this thread -- other than that people can't even get the code of the seminaries and the Antiochians right? Mark, please, drop the issue unless it's truly relevant.
(editor's note: I don't invent these comments, or the topics that ignite people to write. That cassocks have caused more concern than financial corruption this past week says a great deal... but such is the reality.)
#13.1 Anonymous on 2009-11-22 23:27
I'm going to grow a ten foot beard and wear a cassock around the grocery store. That would be really interesting and following the tradition as the fanatical over the toppers say.
Give me a break, cassocks should remain in the parish/church related setting. Suits and clean shaven is presentable. The only reason it works over seas is because they have been doing it for centuries where as we are in a society of clergy either wearing suits, or sadly just jeans and t-shirt pastors.
I promise you that in reality, you will respect what a clean man says more than someone who is unclean. I know Jesus said it doesn't matter about our outer appearance, but this is a human weakness we have in society - as to judging.
How many times have you spoken to a homeless person or just filthy person in shabby condition and actually take what they say seriously... This is a cold comparison but that is what i see when i think of clergy wearing cassocks and sandels in everyday life. Wear a suit and shave.
If a priest is clergy, they need to keep themselves clean. We also should. Our bodies are the temple of God. Not just the inside, but the outside. Hand-in-hand. You wouldn't let the outside of your church look like shambles would you?
#13.1.1 William on 2009-11-30 11:19
William, you are creating a strawman argument. Having a beard and wearing a cassock do not mean being dirty. Lots of men have beards and they are not dirty. You are arguing against no one.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2009-12-01 15:30
Dear Mr. Stokoe:
The comments by Patriarch Kirill and the Manhattan Statement reveal a common thread – mendacity and irrelevance.
Patriarch Kirill has shown absolutely no independence from his bosses in the Kremlin. After the August 2008 war, the Moscow Patriarchate stated its affirmation of the territorial integrity of the Georgian Patriarchate, until the December 2008 bail-out of the MP’s finances. After that time, leaders of the MP, including Metroplitan, now Patriarch, Kirill declared in televised interviews that the Russian invasion was justified, and that the MP would “assume responsibility" for organizing ecclesiastical life in the occupied territories.
Further evidence of the MP’s casual mendacity is illustrated by the following press release from the Moscow Patriarch, and the immediate denial by the Georgian Patriarchate.
Baku, November 6, Interfax - The Primates of the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches have reached an agreement on Friday to make every effort to improve relations between Russia and Georgia and to solve the Abkhazia and South Ossetia problems, the Russian Church representative said.
Patriarch Kirill and Patriarch Ilia II came to the agreement at a meeting in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan.
"It was pointed out that the friendship, mutual understanding, and cordial and fraternal relations between the two Churches are guarantees that relations between the two peoples and states will be restored on the full scale with time," Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, a senior Russian Church official, told reporters in comments on the meeting.
At the meeting, Patriarch Kirill compared the Russian and Georgian Churches to "two locomotives that will lead the relations between the two states from the impasse that that have found themselves in" but he added that this would take time, the priest said.
Father Nikolay, who is deputy head of the Department for External Church Relations, said "the two Patriarchs met as two old friends" though it was their first meeting after Patriarch Kirill was elected.
They also discussed issues of church life in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and general Orthodox matters, the priest said.
"We will continue to hold consultations on those and other matters that are of mutual interest to the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches," Fr. Nikolay said.
source: http://www.interfax -religion. com/?act= news&div= 6620
Statement by Georgian Patriarchate
The Patriarchate of Georgia has denied the reports about the possible visit of the Russian Patriarch, Kiril to Georgia. The statement released by the Patriarchate defines that at the last visit of the Georgian Patriarch to Baku, the issue of the Russian Patriarch`s visit to Georgia was not discussed. In addition, the statement explains that according to the regulations of the Orthodox Church, the Russian Patriarch may visit Georgia only after visiting other countries, which are prior with `diptych`.
Russian Patriarchate has released a similar Statement.
During the visit to Baku, Georgian Patriarch announced that Georgia would never give up its territories. At the meeting with the Russian Patriarch, His Holiness discussed the current problems between the two nations, including the situation in Georgia`s occupied regions
The reality behind the dueling press releases is that the two Patriarchs met briefly in Baku during the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Grand Mufti of Azebaidjan.
Several weeks ago, a delegation of the Georgian Synod, led by Metroplitan Gerasime of Zugdidi, travelled to Moscow to meet with representatives of the MP, in order to discuss an accommodation for church life in the occupied territories. This meeting was a complete failure. According to one member of the Georgian delegation, the Russian clergy were dismissive, condescending and insulting. Bishop Antony tells us that the Russians continually complained that “you Georgians never appreciate what we have done for you.” Meupe goes on to say: “They have invaded my country three times, killed nearly 50,000 of my countrymen, expelled 300,000 people from their homes – and they expect us to be grateful ? “
While the MP declares its intent to “restore friendship.. and fraternal relations” the MP continues to support its schismatic “Abkhaz Autonomous Eparchy”, a blatant violation of the first of the Apostolic Canons, for which every member of the Moscow Synod deserves to be deposed from the clergy of the Orthodox Church.
This past week, the leader of the Abkahz entity, Vissarion Aplia, again appealed to the MP for official recognition. It is no secret that the 5 clergymen in this “Eparchy” are Russian citizens, graduates of Russian seminaries, ordained by bishops of the MP, who were sent to the occupied territory to create an independent Abkahz church. The MP had publicly admitted to administering the “Abkhaz Eparchy” until last July, when the Abkhaz Eparchy website was taken down prior to the meeting of the Patriarchs in Cyprus.
The legitimate bishop of Sokhumi, Meupe Daniel, lives in exile with his flock. If the MP recognizes the Abkahz entity, there may well be a permanent canonical schism in the Orthodox Church.
What does this have to do with the OCA?
First, while Metropolitan Jonah works to bring the OCA closer into the MP-ROCOR’s zone of influence, someday he may have to choose between Moscow and Orthodoxy.
Secondly, the Metropolitan’s signature on the “Manhattan Document” is just another meaningless gesture.
To this date, despite a 20 year campaign of genocide against the Orthodox Christian people in occupied Georgia, the Metropolitan has made no statement in support of the victims of genocide, and has issued no condemnation of the perpetrators of that genocide. If the Metropolitan cannot condemn the murder of innocent civilians in their own homes, who will listen, when he condemns the killing of the unborn?
#14 Francis Frost on 2009-11-22 19:51
Well, the question is whether we respect the hierarchy of the Church or not? Our bishops are supposed to lead us to Christ and rightly divide the word of truth.
It is quite revealing of our attitude toward the Church when we castigate bishops for leading. Are we Protestants?
Have those who object to the Manhattan Declaration ever heard of the Orwellian named Freedom of Choice Act which Obama promised to sign during his campaign? In the act there is no provison made to allow healthcare workes or facilities to object to abortion on the basis of conscience or religious faith.
The threat of governmental force to those of faith is real and present. Those who do not see it are fooling themselves.
#15 Michael Bauman on 2009-11-22 20:45
Why on earth would anyone with a strong moral opinion about participating in abortion work for an abortion providing clinic?
#15.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-23 19:15
Because most every healthcare provider would be (under the law) required to provide abortion, including all providers who receive funds from public sources (like Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, etc.). And I have yet to find the hospital or clinic, especially those caring for the poor, that can survive without accepting Medicaid.
Plus, there are the cases of what are called "theraputic abortions", which describe those abortions undertaken to save the life of the mother. Some disagree with offering those abortions, yet a all-or-nothing approach seems to leave us with no middle ground.
We haven't even addressed birth control.
For the record, I work in the healthcare field, albeit in administration and finance. I believe the work I do is in the spirit of Jesus direction to serve the poor, the hungry, the sick, the naked.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#15.1.1 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-11-23 22:46
Many hospitals also perform abortions, and last year the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) took the position that all physicians are obliged by medical ethics to perform or refer patients for any legal medical procedure, meaning abortion. If the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) adopted the same position, OB/GYNs who refused to abide by such "ethics" could lose their license.
#15.1.2 Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell on 2009-11-24 08:26
You don't realize what is being referred to when you ask, "Why on earth would anyone with a strong moral opinion about participating in abortion work for an abortion providing clinic?" Conscience clauses are not about abortion clinics. One of Obama's first acts was to strike down various prolife policies, such as the Mexico City policy, Bush's reinforcement of conscience clauses, etc. You see, by stripping away conscience clauses, Catholic hospitals (unfortunately we can't say "Orthodox hospitals," because we have none in the U.S.), Christian doctors, nurses, and other health care workers will be forced to perform or assist in the performance of murder of the innocent and most vulnerable. Pharmacists will be forced to dole out abortifacients. Stores that have made the moral decision not to dispense RU486, for instance (which has killed dozens of women worldwide, by the way --revealing a lot about how much abortionists care about women), will be forced to do so.
Michael Bauman is quite right when he explains, "The threat of governmental force to those of faith is real and present." Examples of government intrusion abound. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who bought his way into another term, with the dubious distinction of spending more on his campaign than anyone has spent on any political campaign in the U.S.) made it a requirement for all doctoral candidates to participate in abortion. While falsely decrying that Christians are imposing their morality on the nation's citizens, Obama's promised (as his first act in office) "Freedom of Choice Act" is really a case of our government legislating immorality on Christians.
Re: Romanian Orthodox Church - I read the full article from the website. It's bad enough that the government in Romania is still corrupt and greedy, but for it to continue in the church is even worse. Selling clergy positions to raise funds - what is the church coming to. Of course, when you look at our situation here in AOCANA, it's not much better. Our government in America is corrupt, and unfortunately, so is our Archdiocese, with certain people who think it is okay to lie, steal, cheat, and then lie about doing all those things. America should be a better place than Romania, but it seems that is not the case. I hope the investigation in Romania continues, and the greedy Archbishop over there is arrested and laicized. Sounds like a good idea for our inner circle in America - that will rid us of this mess that grows each week.
Re: Serbian Church accepting Nikolai into their jurisdiction. What good does it do to transfer a Bishop from one jurisdiction to another, without fully knowing what he did wrong, holding him accountable and making sure he is either rehabilitated or laicized? He'll just start trouble in the Serbian Church over there, and then they'll have to deal with his nonsense. Retire Nikolai permanently so he does no further damage - he did enough in Alaska to the natives. .. Let's not go from the frying pan into the fire - we are much smarter than that, so use that common sense to make better decisions.
(Editor's note: The offense alledged of the Romanian Archbishop is nothing new in the Church - it is called "Simony". It has existed since New Testament times ( check out the story of Simon Magus, from whence the name) and both East and West have condemned it repeatedly since then...)
#16.1 V,Rev.Stavrophor Dragan Filipovic on 2009-11-23 21:20
Dear Editor: so what you are saying is people have dealt with "simony" for years, and does that mean they are willing to just settle for it being that way? They fought long and hard to get rid of the dictatorship in Romania, but where is their freedom? They might as well be still under the dictator. It's sad to think that people are willing to settle for what is instead of what could be with hard work and joining forces to stop the evil things happening in this world. Sounds like some people in AOCANA who close their eyes, pretend everything is fine and don't want any part of this mess going on. We in America might as well be in a Communist State if we don't rise up and stop this "I don't care" attitude. Apathy gets worse with each passing year. Any ideas out there how to deal with this mess?
please note Mark I did not post the bold comment beneath my comment #3.1 that comment also cannot be replied to...
and I'm not sure why you'd allow a response of 'HA'
#17 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-11-22 22:25
Joseph Clarke writes, "If any proposed legislation were threatening to "compel" our churches to participate in abortions or same-sex unions, I would expect the bishops to weigh in, but of course this is inconceivable." I suggest, Mr. Clarke, that are being willfully blind. The government has given its blessing to abortion, and proponents of same-sex "marriage" continue to try to wear down voters to fundamentally change marriage.
You say these are "intensely difficult issues." So what? All moral issues are complex.
You also write, "..the OCA has traditionally done a good job of distancing itself from American politics and the "culture wars." What you seem to call "politics and culture wars" is really a fight for keeping the Biblical moral foundation in the United States. Shamefully, the Orthodox have been absent in publicly weighing in on these serious moral issues which are a major part of our faith. The signing of the Manhattan Declaration is a major breath of fresh air and a public display of backbone.
#18 K. Carlsen on 2009-11-23 00:08
Dearest K. Carlsen,
How right you are! Our Orthodox leaders HAVE been shamefully absent from public discourse on vital moral issues destroying the souls (not to mention the physical lives) of God-loved Americans. The signing of the Manhattan Declaration IS a major breath of fresh air and a public display of backbone.
Too bad the worst ridicule signers (which includes myself) have gotten is not from the world, but from the Church.
Re: the issue of wearing cassocks or not. Perhaps all seminaries should adopt the same dress code. They are educating and training future priests, men who must learn to dress, act and love as priests should. The seminarians look very nice in cassocks and vests - they don't look monastic. They look like students who love God and are learning how to serve Him in the future. I've been to St. Tikhons, the holiest place in this country, and the seminarians dress that way whenever they are not in their dorm building or off the property all together. It doesn't look like a college campus there. It looks like a holy place where everyone works hard to serve God. It's the same as women on the property of St. Tikhons - you wear long skirts, long sleeves, head coverings, and you wear those clothes as respect any time you are on the property.
I've never been to the other seminaries, so I don't know what they do, but conformity and consistency will avoid this battle going on about how to dress. Looks a whole lot better than the business suits our clergy were forced to wear in Palm Desert by MP. Many of our clergy wear only cassocks and to see them in their suits was very strange. It takes on a whole new meaning.
I don't think His Eminece realizes that the majority of his clergy, only wear the Presbyterian suit in his presence. When he is not around, most of them go back to looking like Orthodox clergymen.
#19.1 antionymous on 2009-11-23 08:28
MP realizes, knows and is aware of much more than most people think. He just plays dumb to throw people off. Remember at the convention, when the motion was passed to not allow any convicted criminals to serve on the BOT. His immediate response after the voting - I can assure you there are no criminals on the BOT. They have all been screened. He knew there were, but he was pretending so people would think he is getting old, but this is not about his age. He has been doing this for years, and he knows how to stick it to people. That's why he insisted his clergy wear their business suits at the convention, other than for church services, cause he knows they don't usually, and this is his way of controlling them. What would he truly have done if they all showed up to the general assembly in cassocks, including the other Bishops? Would he have delayed the start of the meeting and ordered them to go change? I doubt it - he would have had a revolution on his hands. There's something sacred and holy about our clergy and our seminarians wearing the cassocks. I don't know what it is, but it gives them a different look, and I think they also act differently and more spiritual in their cassocks.
Sorry, this is America. The traditional street dress of all clerics is a suit, usually black or grey, with a clerical shirt & collar. We do not live in Russia, Greece or any foreign country. THIS IS OUR DRESS AS CLERICS IN PUBLIC IN AMERICA. Those who wish to parade around in cassocks, long hair, long beards are just asking for trouble. Read Florovsky regarding "Orthodoxy & Culture." The Orthodox Church adapts to the culture it is in and transforms it. Looking like refugees from a foreign land helps no one and only leads to titles of "kook," "nut case," "weirdo," etc. It's unnecessary!
Orthodox Fundamentalism is rising!!!!!
#19.2 Anonymous on 2009-11-23 14:10
Looks like the American culture has transformed Orthodoxy instead of vice-versa.....
#19.2.1 antionymous on 2009-11-23 17:48
Really? Is that your idea of what Americans want? Want Americans? Where? The '50's are over Grandpa. Even RCs and Prots rarely wear the collar anymore. Everything is casual now. I suppose our priests should dress in Baggy Jeans and T-shirts to be "relevant" and "fit in?"
What is really hard to understand, is why Orthodox clerics want to hide our distinctiveness? There is a living tradition of Clerical dress and behavior. You can continue to live in your ghetto of an outdated view of what America is. The rest of us will just try to be Orthodox to the best of our ability. THAT is what Americans ultimately want.....and authentic Tradtition and Faith. Not more white bread Christianity. This is proven by the questions I get when I am pumping gas and at the grocery store. (although admittedly I sometimes get my cassock caught in the wheels of the cart....OUCH!)
People need our Faith....how are they gonna find it if we keep camoflaging ourselves?
#19.2.2 antionymous on 2009-11-23 18:00
You wonder how we are going to communicate our faith to North America by "camouflaging" ourselves.
The evidence here suggests that camouflage will not be an issue and we will continue to communicate our faith to North America and distinguish ourselves as Orthodoxy has done in NA for decades: by snide judging of our ostensible "brethren" and quarreling disrespectfully with and even dividing from one another, of course. The cassocks help the man in the street to tell that we are not just ordinary Baptists, Presbyterians or charismatics trading blows.
And the court is respectfully requested to note for the record the camouflage of your pseudonym.
#22.214.171.124 Fr George Washburn on 2009-11-24 08:06
LOL! Point well taken Father!
#126.96.36.199.1 antionymous on 2009-11-25 11:51
We do good christian works, we as individuas are christians.
Fr. Seraphim says to gain the holy spirit and thousands will be saved around you. Long hair, beards, cassocks etc are not what saves christians.
#188.8.131.52 cbshinn on 2009-11-26 09:17
No one is saying they are. But we shouldn't easily dispense with our cutoms without good reason to do so. Looking like Presbyterians isn't a good reason.
#184.108.40.206.1 antionymous on 2009-11-30 16:25
"Sorry, this is America."
"The traditional street dress of all clerics is a suit, usually black or grey, with a clerical shirt & collar."
Who says? Who made this rule? Who are and who are not "clerics"? If you are talking about ministers in churches then you are way over-stating the "uniform" because many ministers where suits and many are more casually dressed. You're making a statement as fact when it's frankly an opinion.
#19.2.3 Anonymous on 2009-11-23 18:46
Sorry, this is Holy Orthodoxy. The traditional street dress of all clerics is a cassock, usually black, grey or dark blue. While we do not live in Russia, Greece, or a foreign country, we are called to be in the World, not of it. THIS IS OUR DRESS AS CLERICS OF THE HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH IN ALL LANDS. Those who wish to parade around in quasi-Anglican/Roman attire are not humbly accepting, but judging, the received tradition. Read the stories of the Alaskan Missionaries. While they adapted those good things in the culture and transformed them, they didn't adopt the dress of Inuit shamans. Looking like slick business men or Anglicans/Romans helps no one and only leads to confusion about the faith we hold. It's unnecessary!
Eastern-Rite Protestant Fundamentalism is rising!!!!!!
-If you think that the 'traditional street dress" of clerics in America is now the suit and collar, I think you've missed it. It's now a polo shirt and khakis, a suit and tie, or doctoral robes if we're feeling really high-church. No, the collar and suit are almost as likely to get you odd looks and 'kooky nut case weirdo' references as the cassock.
-"Fundamentalism" is a throw-away word--it doesn't really mean anything. To one, a 'fundamentalist' is someone who believes in the Divinity of Christ as well as the historicity of the Resurrection. I've turned your argument above around to demonstrate that you could just as easily be labeled a 'fundamentalist'.
#19.2.4 Mordecai on 2009-11-23 19:11
What business is it of yours how I dress? I'll take so-called fundamentalism as you call it over ecumenist pseudo-orthodoxy any day.
So how's that internal audit coming?
#19.2.5 Kevin Klein on 2009-11-23 20:31
But what about the opportunity for evangelism it presents? In my experience, people are polite when they ask about the cassock, and it opens a conversation. Who knows how many seeds have been planted this way?
I really think the problem is people who are so willing to overreact either way.
#19.2.6 Alexis on 2009-11-24 20:33
re: The Manhattan Declaration
If the sanctity of life is of such concern to these religious Christian politicos, then why is there not clear protestation against the rampant use of military force as a primary lever of American foreign policy? The Bush-Clinton-Bush administration was distinguished by four major military operations. The Obama-Clinton administration is continuing the ruinous wars and the bizarre accompanying lavish reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. These religious folk would do well to fervently petition our imperial government to refrain from killing in lieu of diplomacy. The might of USA is being turned back against us everywhere that the killing continues. These high priests of piety would do well to call for the ministers of the government to use their God-given intellects, or to recruit some, instead of relying on slow, dumb, brute force. If the government is going to righteously kill to prevent terrorism, there certainly must be more effective and focused ways than to wage continual continental warfare.
There was neither within the declaration an appeal to curb the use of the death penalty which is arguably more an instrument of revenge than of justice. In any event, they must find no sanctity of life in adult offenders, whether in fact they are guilty or later found to be innocent. The need for revenge puts certain lives beyond the pale of sanctification?
How homosexual beings such as embryos, war victims, or death-row inmates fall out of their hierarchy of degrees of sanctity of life I dare not speculate.
#20 MWP on 2009-11-23 18:57
Alas, even within Orthodoxy, some issues are clearer than others. The Manhattan Declaration addresses three very clear issues, and raising two less clear issues is just changing the subject.
#20.1 Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell on 2009-11-24 08:45
There were plenty of hierarchs protesting about Clinton's bombing of nominally Orthodox Serbia and Kosovo, but they aren't coming out against much on these militaristic adventures farther east where there's been troops on the ground for years now. Depends on whose oxen are being gored, I guess. Lot's of Christian higher clergy gave silent approval of Hitler's (oops) atrocities that led up to WWII, as well.
#20.1.1 MWP on 2009-11-26 11:26
You are misinformed. Many Orthodox leaders, including myself, have spoken publicly and signed peace statements, such as the one from the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.
But Father Deacon Brian is quite correct: some issues are clearer than others, universally held everywhere and throughout the two thousand years of Christianity.
And some issues are a higher priority than others. Whether you think war is every justifiable or not (as a pacifist, I believe war is never justifiable), to kill in battle is not moral equivalent to slaughtering innocent children. Whether you think it wrong or not, to execute a serial rapist is not the moral equivalent to murdering an innocent and vulnerable child. As Proverbs says, "Defend the fatherless... Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, 'We did not know this,' does not He Who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He Who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not requite man according to his work?"
The Manhattan Declaration pointed out three moral issues, which ARE being challenged today, and which DO affect every citizen of the world, and which are unambiguously regarded as country-destroying sins by our Faith. Dn Brian rightly points out that by bringing up other issues, you are merely "changing the subject."
I don't see how it's "changing the subject" to point out that the politically motivated clergy and laity time and again choose which lives are more sanctified than others.
#20.1.2 MWP on 2009-11-30 10:31
Regarding the line, "the cassock doesn't make the priest," undoubtedly this is true. It also has little to do with whether an Orthodox priest should wear his cassock in public.
We could use the same logic:
-Icons do not make a Temple
-Incense does not make a Liturgy
Yet, Orthodox Temples have Icons, and the Liturgy has Incense. Just because an element doesn't constitute the definition of a thing, doesn't mean that that element is superfluous. This argument is, at its core, reductionist.
So, a cassock doesn't make an priest, but Orthodox priests have cassocks--they wear them in public. It's what they do. It's a dangerous, and un-Orthodox line to assert that forms are superfluous; we do not (or shouldn't!) treat the other elements of our praxis this way.
Then there's the bit about monasticism. It doesn't take a sweeping knowledge of the history of clerical attire to know that the clergy have historically taken their cues from the monks. To wear a cassock in public is not a claim to be a monk--not now, and not through the many centuries that this has been the practice of the Church.
I'm appalled and surprised by the virulent contempt shown here for a desire to receive the tradition and praxis of the Church without criticism and in humility. Is this all a desire to 'be like folks'? It is not fundamentalist (whatever in the world that is) to want simply to receive the tradition and not arrogantly generate a do-it-yourself choose-your-own-adventure AMERICAN ORTHODOXY (C). [Look how well that approach worked for the American Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans.]
With respect to the Orthodox tradition of acculturation, much could be [& has been] written. But I'd invite you to ponder this before rapidly submitting another appeal to that facet of our faith: Orthodoxy had existed in, and interacted with, the now-historically-Orthodox lands for centuries before they naturally and organically developed 'their' flavor of the tradition. Not only did it not happen in 30 years (let's not kid ourselves that the Church has been informing and engaging the American Culture for 200 years), but it also wasn't the result of Worship Committees hanging around wondering, "you know, we're just not reaching our key demographic; how can we make really [insert evangelized nationality]-sounding music?"
Let's just take a deep breath and receive the tradition in the form that it's been handed down to us. It will naturally, and organically adopt those good things in our American culture over time--but it would be as disastrous to try and artificially-hasten this process of maturation as it would for any living creature.
#21 Mordecai on 2009-11-23 19:39
A big amen, Mordecai!
#21.1 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-11-23 20:48
You must understand, Mordecai, that the "reform" movement that is espoused here goes far beyond finances. That's just the tip of the iceberg. It's all starting to be revealed, slowly but surely. It will be a "fundamental transformation" of the Orthodox Church in/of America (to borrow a recent political campaign slogan) and it all flows from the same stream.
Welcome to the new reality.
#21.2 Anonymous on 2009-11-23 20:58
I'm afraid you've confused the end of my comment with Kevin Klein's. (My comment ends with the words: "...easily be labeled a 'fundamentalist'." His begins with the words "What business is it...")
Nevertheless, I find your comment troubling, but don't want to respond until I understand whether you mean that you support a 'reform' of the Church (a disturbing thought), or whether you raise the issue with the same sense of alarm that I would share.
#21.2.1 Mordecai on 2009-11-24 19:10
My comment was that the reform movement in the Church is pervasive and goes far beyond finances. I do not support a reform of the Church. I certainly think that finances should be handled with integrity.
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2009-11-25 11:06
"Let's just take a deep breath and receive the tradition in the form that it's been handed down to us."
Right...this was the same argument used against Fr. Schmemann when he pushed for frequent communion. The problem is, OUR Orthodox Tradition is the "Truth." It's not parading around in long black robes with weird hats and long hair & beards. The "TRUTH" as presented in America within the Orthodox Tradition. The "FORM" is the American Church, not Russian, not Greek or any other!
#21.3 Anonymous on 2009-11-24 11:02
And HOW is Presbyterian clergy suit exactly AMERICAN? Prove that it is, and perhaps you'll win the day....
#21.3.1 antionymous on 2009-11-25 11:55
Re: "Right...this was the same argument used against Fr. Schmemann when he pushed for frequent communion."
And look how the American faithful took the push and pushed it a mile.
How many OCA parishes actually follow the actual directions that Fr. Alexander pushed?
"First of all, if the desire for and the practice of a more frequent and, ultimately, regular communion is to be encouraged, it is nevertheless obvious that it would be spiritually wrong and very harmful to impose it in any way. This practice cannot and must not become either a "fad" or the result of any kind of pressure. Therefore, for those who receive communion seldom (even once a month) — and such will no doubt remain for a long time the majority — one must keep in all its strictness the obligation for confession before Communion.
"For communion more often than once a month, one needs the permission of the rector of the parish. This permission will be given only to those persons who are well-known to the rector and after a thorough pastoral examination of the seriousness and rectitude of such person’s attitude towards the Church and towards Christian life. In such a case, the relationship between the rhythm of confession and that of communion must be left to the decision of the priest, confession remaining regular, however, and heard not less than once a month."
How many OCA parishes REQUIRE regular confession "not less than once a month?"
How about this one?
"[G]eneral confession is under no circumstances meant simply to replace individual confession, is not and must not be a substitute."
For how many in the OCA has the innovation of "general confession" replaced individual confession?
Lots and lots of the OCA faithful.
That's American Orthodox tradition for you.
No, thanks. Gimmee thet Old Time Religion, it's good enough for me.
Fr. Alexander Schmemann's words can be read in full here:
#21.3.2 Anonymous on 2009-11-30 16:45
"Let us take a deep breath and receive the tradition in the form that it's been handed down to us."
Well, first of all I think it's safe to say that most of us don't care whether SVS students wear cassocks to bed or in the shower or wherever, though certainly in church would seem a reasonable proposition. I'm quite content to leave these sorts of momentous questions to his Beatitude or the SVS leadership.
But in response to the aforementioned quote I can only ask , "What traditions, or more importantly, Tradition?" There are many traditions in the history of the Christian Faith--some good and some bad. Discerning the real and essential "Tradition" is what alas apparently divides us into different camps with different labels and agendas.
Perhaps a renewed emphasis on and attention to the Gospels and the early Church is the key to this conundrum?
#21.4 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-11-24 16:41
You ask 'which tradition?', but seem to imply that there are various 'traditions' not based on locality but on time (cf. "...many traditions in the history of the Christian Faith..." & "...renewed emphasis on...the early Church").
I would agree that there are various 'local traditions', and these--as I stated near the end of my second post--developed over time. I disagree, however, that we can simply go back in time to 'repristinate' our praxis. Yes, there are some practices (I hesitate to equate them with tradition), such as iconoclasm, that were weeded out. The topic at hand is normative clerical dress, and this is one that is well-established: priests wear their cassocks in public (what they wear to bed and shower has, of course, not been up for discussion--thankfully).
To try and resurrect the mythical 'Early church' is a flawed approach on several levels:
1. It assumes that the Orthodox Church is somehow other than the 'Early church', & seems to create a schism between two different entities.
2. It assumes that we can know what the praxis of the 'Early church' was.
3. It assumes that the 'Early church's' praxis was somehow 'more pure' and 'ideal' than what we have received, and that the Spirit has not guided the formation of our Tradition.
This was a popular line in the mid-20th century during the Liturgical Movement, and caused sweeping changes to the historic Roman liturgy. It also had no small influence on Orthodox thinking, but I hope we have observed the fruit of taking the discussion (not a bad discussion!) and arrogantly shaping the Liturgy to suit our ideas about how it 'ought to be'.
#21.4.1 Mordecai on 2009-11-25 14:06
Just a couple of closing comments and clarifications from me:
1. I am not advocating freezing Tradition (s) in the Apostolic Period, although a reference to it is essential in weeding out "traditions" that should be discarded or revised. To use your metaphor, tradition is like a growing or living thing that calcifies if it ceases to grow and evolve or, for that matter, remain true to its founding precepts.
2. Nor do I believe one era of the Church is inherently superior to another, although I think it safe to say that the period our Lord tread this
Earth is exalted above all other times and places in the history of the Church,and is therefore the touchstone by which all others should be judged.
#18.104.22.168 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-11-30 15:19
I know you will hate this but I vividly remember this line from "The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy" by Father Alexander Schmemann: "Question the past!" While I agree that it is all right if one wants to have "a desire to receive the tradition and praxis of the Church without criticism and in humility," it is equally all right to follow Father Schmemann's advice, in humility. Why? Because as other Orthodox theologians have indicated, there are pious practices (tradition with a small "t") and elements of Holy Tradition (tradition with capital "T"). This clergy dress issue is a perfect example of tradition with a small "t" when the issue is framed around the attire but it becomes tradition with a capital "T" when framed around the relationship between a bishop and his clergy (to include aspiring ones).
You wrote: "To try and resurrect the mythical 'Early church' is a flawed approach on several levels:
1. It assumes that the Orthodox Church is somehow other than the 'Early church', & seems to create a schism between two different entities.
2. It assumes that we can know what the praxis of the 'Early church' was.
3. It assumes that the 'Early church's' praxis was somehow 'more pure' and 'ideal' than what we have received, and that the Spirit has not guided the formation of our Tradition."
First of all, the principle of a living Holy Tradition, of continuous revelation, guided as it is by the Holy Spirit, is based on the assumption that change happens. There have been changes in the beliefs and praxis of the Church over the centuries and we expect that additional changes may occur in the future.
Secondly, it is a well established principle that there are different levels of authority within Holy Tradition, starting with the Holy Scriptures. Next are the beliefs and praxis of the Apostolic Church (the word is in our Creed for more than indicating succession). After that are the dogmas promulgated by the Seven Ecumenical Councils, etc...
Thus, while we cannot know with certainty what the praxis of the Early Church was, we do have a very good idea. I could list bunch of references here but I really think that you should ask your spiritual father. I would say, along with the Holy Apostles and their disciples and our early Church fathers, that we are indeed supposed to look up to the Early Church as our model. The fact that changes have occurred do not necessarily make the current practices false or unable to pass theological or ecclesiastic muster. It is simply a matter of the Holy Spirit guiding us, even if it is to the Early Church.
#22.214.171.124 Carl on 2009-11-30 16:43
Mordecai, I appreciate what you are saying but I wonder if you are missing what is important.
The Orthodox, or "right" way is not in the buildings, icons, cassocks, or even in the baptized Orthodox Church people (though they often think they are the "true" Christians, they are only Christians to the extent that they love as Christ loved, no matter how many times they partake of the Eucharist or how authentic their baptism).
I believe that true Orthodoxy is not where we worship, but who we are as humans. If there is one thing I have learned in the past three years, it is that "Orthodox Christians" all-too-often aren't Christians at all -- not in the true sense of the word, and that non-believers often are. "Beloved, love one another."
The body, not the building, is the true (capital "T") Temple. The building is only an icon. Prayer of the heart is "true" incense. Earthly incense is only an icon of prayer.
The Orthodox church building is not *The Temple." It has meaning only as an icon. Mordecai, why do you say that the building is the temple? It is only an incomplete icon of the Body, which is the "Temple of God." At the center of the Orthodox church building is the altar, which is an icon of the pure heart, which is an icon of the soul transformed by Love. The true Temple is the Body because it holds the soul. We learned that in the Old Testament, and later in the Book of Hebrews.
The priest is an icon, too. Vestments are a "Lord's Day" icon; cassocks are an "everyday" icon. When a clergyman in black shirt and collar and slacks walks down the street, he is an icon. The clergy dress says something. Like incense, icons, and all the rest, the cassock means something, and for this reason, and not simply because "it's what Orthodox *do*," it is important and should not be done away with as though it has no meaning.
That's what happened with the Protestants. They stripped everything away because the meaning of the icons, incense, priests, confession, Liturgy and all that Orthodox have and do, got lost. I suppose in the corrupt church, it was love that left first, and without love, everything else lost its meaning.
The Orthodox Church is supposed to be a place where believers -- who love God as He has revealed Himself to us -- can go to worship God "in spirit and in truth." If love is missing in the hearts of the people who participate, there is nothing of value there, no matter how pretty the music or how good smelling the incense, or even how perfect is the Divine Liturgy.
#21.5 Anonymous on 2009-11-24 18:37
Excellent reflection! Thank you!
#21.5.1 antionymous on 2009-11-25 11:59
I'm not sure whether we disagree on the issue of clerical dress? Of course I don't think there is a dichotomy between the external and the internal--actually my whole point is predicated on the idea that they are inextricably linked.
I think we can take it as an axiom in Orthodox thinking that to alter the external will alter the internal. This is why we should retain that which has been handed down, and why we should not hasten to adopt the dress of clergy of heterodox traditions.
I contend much of this discussion should examine the bolded axiom above, or we risk missing the point.
#21.5.2 Mordecai on 2009-11-25 14:20
It's ironic--but utterly predictable--that you criticize Protestants for "stripping away the meaning" of everything, right after you (basically) do the same, and continue to display a completely Protestant understanding of the Church.
If I were to go by the comments here, I would have to draw the conclusion that there are two completely different "poles" of Orthodoxy with no middle ground. The first pole mindlessly concerns itself with the minutiae of tradition, while the second disregards anything it doesn't like.
I've been blessed to know holy (and perhaps clairvoyant) priests who wear collars and consider themselves "slaves to Orthodoxy"; I've known ROCOR clergy who, while maintaining the vigor and intensity of Russian spirituality, are open, forward-thinking and well-equipped to deal with the unique American context.
I've also been around everything in between.
Ultimately, the people who want to jump headfirst into these conversations and "win" them are spiritually, if not chemically, imbalanced. It betrays a judgmental and small-minded approach to Church life, and there is no humility or repentance in it whatsoever.
#21.5.3 Alexis on 2009-11-27 11:10
Re: ....without love, everything else lost [and loses] its meaning
Agreed and I would add that where there is love (*Ubi caritas...*), THERE is the Spirit. It is Spirit that is the Tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church, the living Spirit in the Church is our Tradition; it is not the little traditions of clerical dress, to cite just one example.
And the love that the Spirit honors with His presence is sacrificial love, divine love, the only true love. The question is: is it sacrificial to wear the cassock? It may be a sacrifice of obedience to one's superiors, but perhaps not a sacrifice of the divine love.
Without the Spirit (manifested in sacrificial love), perhaps the Church Herself has lost Her meaning!
#21.5.4 Ever and anon. on 2009-11-28 12:42
Wasn't a cassock the standard peasant garb in the pre-9th century? Isn't it actually an undergarment, worn originally under a tunic?
Let's get real here - the garment will never make the man. I've told the story numerous times now, but during the enthronement of Metropolitan Herman, I was at a conference at the hotel across the street. My fellow conference-goers, all from the Hospice Care industry, were heard to comment about the "wizards" staying across the street. They were referring to the Metropolitans and Bishops and their entourages.
Personally, it doesn't matter one whit if I wear a cassock and riassa or not. I will follow the instruction of my bishop on the matter, even if I am thought a wizard by the world. I do find it interesting that we wear cassocks in order to communicate our status as Christian Clergy to the world, but modern American culture speaks a completely different language - and calls us wizards!
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#22 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-11-23 23:07
Yes, "Orthodox Fundamentalism" seems to be alive and spreading! Years ago, we could look at ROCOR and see this as prevalent and their standard. It looks like +Jonah wants the OCA to look like ROCOR. Well, I have news! Many like me are 3rd, 4th or 5th generation Orthodox from Russia, Galitia, Ukraine, etc. and WE ARE AMERICANS. We aren't from the "old country" and the OCA is OUR American church. We don't want to be like ROCOR with their false piety and playing Russian Orthodox. It seems that +Jonah (a convert) wants to bring his "Super Orthodox" ideal to the OCA. It's time for another Metropolitan. We need realistic leaders who believe in an "American Orthodoxy" not Russian Orthodoxy, Greek Orthodoxy or other.
#23 Anonymous on 2009-11-24 10:00
I can appreciate the challenge and the desire to avoid "fundamentalism." It reminds me of the old joke "When did they take the "fun" out of "Fundamentalism" and the response is "I think they took the "mental" out first.
However, we fail to learn from the past errors of an exclusively ethno-centric expression of Orthodoxy when we call for an "American Orthodoxy." It is the same weakness as demanding any other ethnic "flavor" of the faith. We Americans must be willing to be taught and to teach. That means we have to be humble enough to see that which is timeless in the ethnic expressions of the faith here and we have to be loving enough to discern that which is time-bound and therefore not able to survive the passage of generations.
But in the meantime, we have to be committed to both hospitality (You who are different than me are welcome here) and gratitude (I cannot thank you enough for preserving for me the faith even though you were persecuted and hated in your home country). This dual and life-giving ascesis is THE only path to an authentic Orthodoxy on these shores.
Let us be thankful that we live in a nation where we can do this kind of serious discipleship and where we can humbly and wisely draw from the collected wisdom of millions of faithful Christians from all over the world in this one, beautiful, blessed, and God-kissed nation. When a man becomes unthankful, he becomes unholy.
#23.1 Barnabas on 2009-11-25 10:50
Wow, talk about bigotry. Holiness is not about what you wear....there are very many holy ROCOR faithful..
#23.2 antionymous on 2009-11-25 12:03
Dittos. I agree with you completely.
#23.3 cbshinn on 2009-11-27 13:18
rocor and their false piety, a sad thing to say. well, enjoy your eastern rite protestantism in the modernist, renovationist and also semi-uniate "oca". and, interestingly, if you read the letters OCA as cyrillic, you would pronounce OSSA'which in russian means WASP. BUT, joke and sarcasm aside, i do greatly value Protopresbyter Aleksandr Schmemann. he was one the more important theologians of our times. not everything he did was right,but most of his writings truly are brilliant.He was a russian aristocrat who came from france and brought new life to the church. now the oca is overtaken by wannabe orthodox converts, some of which bring their protestant mentality with them. NO recent convert should be ordained. 20 years in the church for the priesthood and 30 years for the episcopacy and absolutely no "today a lutheran or baptist minister or catholic priest,tomorrow an orthodox priest or bishop" even if they know the whole bible by heart in hebrew and greek.most of these converts lack essential humility and feel they have come to enlighten us. i have met many of them. there also are true,humble converts who are an asset to the church. i believe that the oca and rocor will sooner or later unite and be ONE , because we have common roots,then if you don't like our false piety, join the truly pious antiochians.
#23.4 Anonymous on 2009-12-04 19:57
Re: "i believe that the oca and rocor will sooner or later unite and be ONE , because we have common roots..."
We come from common seed sown by the hand of the Sower, but not all seed root in the same way.
From the Gospel of St. Mark:
"The sower soweth the word...And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful."
" The children of the ungodly will not put forth many branches; they are unhealthy roots upon sheer rock." --Sirach 40:15
SOME OCA people will unite with the ROCOR - people like me and my family who left the OCA and were received by the ROCOR, but for the most part, I believe the OCA will go its own way, for better or for worse.
#23.4.1 Anonymous on 2009-12-09 17:27
With respect to the Manhattan Declaration, the worst and most decadent ranting I have seen so far, sadly, has come from a few (thankfully, only a few) correspondents on ocanews.org.
More typical, I hope, is a message I received today from an Orthodox mother in New Jersey:
"Thank you for signing the Manhattan Declaration. As an Orthodox mother of five, I must tell you how challenging it is to raise children with Orthodox values in a time when our faith is assaulted from all quarters. Certainly, the belittling and marginalization of foundational Christian values can be expected from secular schools, media, and government, but the most disheartening aspect of raising an Orthodox family in these times is the silence--or even active complicity--of Christians from nearly all denominations.
"Is it any wonder that young people are leaving Christian churches in droves when many of these institutions implicitly or explicitly affirm secular values? Our children are taught in school and by the media that faithful Christians are well-meaning but ignorant at best, bigoted and dangerous at worst. The Church cannot afford to ignore this assault on our youth, and Christian parents cannot oppose these powerful influences alone.
"I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your strong leadership."
#24 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-11-24 10:22
I want to thank you, too, Fr. Patrick, along with +Basil and ++Jonah and Fr. Chad (and the other Orthodox signatories). Many years to you all.
#24.1 lexcaritas on 2009-11-30 16:37
Heartfelt post from a mother who knows what's going on. This is a battle for the souls of our children. Thank you, Father Patrick!
Fr. Patrick posted: "With respect to the Manhattan Declaration, the worst and most decadent ranting I have seen so far, sadly, has come from a few (thankfully, only a few) correspondents on ocanews.org."
I noticed no appreciable ranting here on this topic. To the contrary, the responses questioning aspects of MD that I noticed appeared to be well reasoned and not at all self-serving. It's too bad that the discussion just gets sidetracked with attacks on the responders.
#24.3 MWP on 2010-01-09 13:01
I am SO glad that Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Basil signed this declaration! it is HIGH TIME THAT Orthodox bishops take a stand against the decline of our civilization.
#25 George Michalopulos on 2009-11-24 16:59
Well, here we go again - another discussion about "correct" Orthodox practice, how to dress, how to bow, how to intepret liturgical directions; while the duty to love our brother is neglected.
Our clergy engage in endless arguments about which liturgical triviality is paramount while they completely ignore the Savior's commandments.
While you sit at your computer debating clerical dress codes, innoncent Orthodox Christians in occupied Georgia continue to suffer inhuman treatment at the hands of the Russian military. I have appended a few articles from just the past three weeks detailing the daily home invasions, beatings, kidnappings and thefts inflicted on the civilian populations in and around the occupied territories.
Today, 4 teenagers, who were kindapped from the village of Tirndzisi while they were walking home from school over 3 weeks ago, remain in isolation; denied access to legal representation, medical care or their own parents - all in blatent violation of international law.
So while you ponder your clerical proprieties, you might recall that the Savior taught: "Do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat? or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' Matthew 7:31
Like the Pharisses, you debate trivia and ignore the saving commandments !
"Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!" Mathew 23:16
Our Orthdox Church is choking to death on your hypocrisy! Wake up !
You ignore suffering Chrisitians and debate trivia. What a waste !!!
Below is a sampling of televised news reports of the various assaults and kidnappings committed by the Russian occupation forces and their allied militias just in the last three weeks.
Georgian underage citizens remain in captivity of Tskhinvali regime
The four Georgian underage citizens detained in the village of Tirdznisi, Gori district on November 4, have been remaining in the captivity of the Tskhinvali marionette regime for the third week. Family members of the teenagers still have no information about their health condition. No news have been reported from Tskhinvali, since representatives of the Red Cross brought the abducted teenagers` letters to their family members in the village of Tirdznisi.
The Tskhinvali regime has accused the four detained underage citizens of illegal crossing of the so-called boundary and keeping explosive materials. The teenagers have been sent to two-month preliminary custody.
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights will discuss the issue of the abducted Georgian teenagers in Tbilisi. Thomas Hammarberg intends to arrive in Georgia in November 27.
Russian occupants oppress locals in Gali district
Tornike Kilanava, the representative of the Abkhaz legitimate government talks about current criminal situation in Gali district of Georgia`s breakaway region of Abkhazia. A representative of the marionette regime, members of the so-called Abkhazian parliament has brutally beat a civilian in Gali. He shot four bullets to Geno Gerzmava and did not allow eyewitnesses to help the injured man. The man was taken to hospital later, his health condition is very hard. The Georgian citizen was punished because he took his child from Russian to Georgia school.
Along with this, the Russian occupants and Abkhaz marionettes are delivering arms to the youth and forcing them to take part in the occupational military exercises. The occupants, being under the influence of drugs often shoot from firearms to intimidate the local population. They have ousted the Basilaia family from Gali district for resisting them.
Occupants burnt down house of ethnic Georgians in Gali
Russian occupants burnt down the house of Ruzgen Khasaia in the village of Nabakevi, Gali district on Wednesday morning. Occupants committed the act of aggression after Khasaia refused to give them his annual incomes from nut harvest. The occupants accused the family of Khasaias of crossing the `border of the Abkhazian republic` illegally and they urged Ruzgen Khasaia to pay the fine.
In addition, the occupants wanted to dig entrenchments in the yard of the Khasaia family, which is situated along the administrative border. After the protest of the ethnic Georgians, the occupants burnt down the house. They forced neighbours to come out to see the execution
Russian occupants assault Georgian civilian population in Gali district
Russian occupants assaulted the Georgian civilian population in the village of Saberio, Gali district of Georgia`s breakaway region of Abkhazia. First robbery occurred at 11 p.m. on Friday. Russian militants assaulted the Akhalaia family. They physically assaulted the family head, brutally beat him with a butt. The main was taken to hospital in the village of Jvari on the Georgian-controlled territory with face injuries and law fracture.
Along with the Akhalaia family, Russian occupants robbed eight more families until 5 a.m. on Saturday. They have seized money, jewellery and food products from the robbed homes. Locals of Saberio village ask for help.
Occupants kidnap two anglers in Anaklia
Russian occupants kidnapped two Georgian anglers in the seaside settlement of Anaklia today. Chabuka Oghli and Gia Gabelaia were fishing near Pichori resort, when Russian soldiers assaulted them. The anglers tried to escape but the occupants laid siege with boats and took the anglers to Ochamchire
Red Cross representatives demand more efforts to release young hostages
The representatives of the Red Cross have made first comments on the kidnap of four Georgian teenagers by Russian occupants from the village of Tirdznisi on November 4. According to the report of the organization`s Gori office, they are negotiating with their branch in Tskhinvali regarding the release of the underaged Georgians. Loran Berne said they delivered the messages from the families to the hostages. No other details have been reported regarding the hostages.
The ambassador of Switzerland has also condemned the fact of kidnapping. The head of the diplomatic mission, which today fulfils the interests of Russia in Georgia, says that more activities are necessary to release the underaged hostages. Lorenzo Amberg says that the diplomatic corpse and the European Union would do their best to free the children and to prevent similar crimes in the future.
EUMM concerned about detention of four under aged Georgian citizens
EUMM expresses profound concern over the detention of four under aged Georgian citizens in the village of Tirdznisi, Gori district. The mission has released a special statement.
`The EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia expresses profound concern over the detention of four under aged Georgian citizens, between 14 and 17 years old, in the vicinity of Tskhinvali on Wednesday, 4 November.
Over the past days, EUMM has been in contact, through the Hotline, with all involved parties, in particular the de facto South Ossetian authorities. EUMM reminds that in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the appropriate treatment of under aged detainees must be ensured at all times. Among others, children taken into custody during pre-trial detention must not be placed in penitentiary facilities used by ordinary criminals; the Social Service department or its equivalent is the only authority in charge of holding under aged people in detention; under aged detainees have the right of immediate access to legal council assistance; the right to receive a visit of parents or a next of kin; and, the de facto authorities are obliged to inform parents or legal guardians of under aged detainees on the charges.
Furthermore, EUMM has been in close contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representative in Tbilisi.
While EUMM declares its readiness to assist in any appropriate way, the Mission also vigorously appeals to the de facto authorities in South Ossetian to find common ground with the relevant Georgian structures in order to bring the present situation in a prompt manner to a satisfactory resolve`, the statement says.
Occupants kidnap another Georgian in Abkhazia
Abkhaz separatists and Russian occupants have kidnapped another Georgian - Jambul Bazaghua was detained and taken to Gali district, as he was waiting for his relatives on the Engury Bridge.
The occupants, who were dressed as civilians, seized him 100 KM away from the Russian checkpoint.
Reportedly, Badzaghua was taken to Gali administration of the puppet regime.
Relatives of six hostages rallied in Gori
The relatives and the villagers of the six Georgians, who were arrested by Ossetian separatists two months ago, rallied outside the Gori administration today. The relatives of the hostages said that no one had yet contacted them thought the term of pre-trial detention expired on November 2.
The residents of the village Lamiskana asked the police, the regional administration and the EU monitors to intensify their activities in order to release the hostages.
The separatists accuse the locals of crossing the `border of the republic` illegally.
Relatives of the kidnapped ask for help
The relatives of six Georgian nationals, kidnapped from the Kaspi region`s village of Lamisqana two months ago, ask the government to intensify activities for the release of their family members. The relatives of the separatists` captives and villagers rallied in the regional centre today in protest. They said the captives are still held in the Tskhinvali insulator even though the pre-trial detention term has expired.
The South Ossetian separatists detained six Georgian nationals two months ago with alleged charges of `crossing the borders of South Ossetia illegally`.
Russian occupants kidnap locals in Gali district
Russian occupants kidnapped two locals in Gali district of Georgia`s breakaway region of Abkhazia on Sunday morning. Avtandil Toria and Levan Sharia were detained by the Russian occupants, when they were going towards Zugdidi district of the Georgian-controlled territory through an alternative route. They were carrying kilograms of nut crops to sell it in Zugdidi. The occupants seized the load from the men and took them to an obscure direction.
Children of Russian-occupied Akhalgori district not allowed to visit Tbilisi
Representatives of the Tskhinvali marionette regime have not allowed children of Akhalgori district to cross the so-called boundary of the Russian-occupied region of South Ossetia on the pretext of the children`s security. They assert, that participation of the 34 teenagers in the event scheduled in Tbilisi, had not been agreed with Tskhinvali. Although the local population of Akhalgori voice other reason of the restriction. They think, the marionette regime has closed the so-called boundary in response to the suspension of electric power supply by Tbilisi. Locals say, the district has been left in blackout for three days.
Released 16 Georgian citizens return to their homes
16 Georgian citizens abducted from teh village of Gremiskhevi, Dusheti district returned to their homes. They were released by Russian occupants and the Tskhinvali marionette regime Friday evening.
The abducted persons were taken to the Ergneti checkpoint located at the administrative boundary between Gori and Tskhinvali districts at 7 p.m. on Friday. After the 5-day captivity, all the 16 persons were taken to the Mtskheta regional police division and interrogated there by Georgian law enforcers.
Representatives of teh Georgian Interior Ministry conducted intensive talks for releasing the 16 abducted Georgians.
The Georgian citizens were detained by the Russian occupants on October 26. They were accused by the de facto Ossetian court of crossing the occupational line and illegal wood-cutting. They were detained in the town of Akhalgori at first and taken to the Tshkinvali isolator later.
Separatists release 5 Georgian citizens abducted in Kareli district
Ossetian separatists have released five Georgian citizens abducted from Kareli district. The former hostages have already been taken to Gori district.
Five gunmen of the Tskhinvali puppet regime arrested five locals in the village of Tchvinisi on October 28. Kako, Tariel, Pridon Kharazishvili and two brothers - Tariel and Pridon Jeiranashvili were arrested, when they were carrying out winter preparation works for their homes. The separatists accused them of crossing the `borders of South Ossetia republic illegally`.
EUMM releases another statement on detention of 16 Georgians
Georgian, Russian, South-Ossetian and EUMM representatives today visited the area where the 16 Georgian citizens were arrested on 25 October and are still detained by SO de facto authorities. The intent of the meeting was to attempt to ascertain the facts and bring the incident to a satisfactory conclusion for all parties.
All participants accepted that it is likely that some of the 16 individuals crossed the ABL by less than 100 metres and in all probability between 30 to 50 metres. Although different versions of the event were voiced, it was universally agreed that there was no malicious intent to cross the ABL on the part of the woodcutters. There was also consensus that any action taken against these individuals would be of an administrative rather than of a criminal nature and that there was no need for further investigation.
Conclusions of the meeting were that there was a need for increased co-operation between the Dusheti Regional Police and the RU FSB; the SO and GEO forestry departments in the area would exchange information to prevent further incidents of this nature occurring; SO de facto authorities would inform by 1900 today EUMM on further action to be taken in this case. In addition, RU BG requested that no media release would take place prior to that time.
EUMM considers that the detainees should be released at the earliest possible opportunity and that this incident should be used as an occasion to elaborate a broader framework to facilitate cross-boundary activities for the local population.
#26 Francis Frost on 2009-11-24 18:24
Thank you, Francis, for again shining a light on the plight of our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow Orthodox Christians from the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate.
From litanies in the Divine Liturgy we pray for captives and their salvation. Please pray especially for four Georgian teenagers aged 14-17, Giorgi, Aleksandre, Victor and Levan, who were seized by Russian military while walking outside their small village on November 4th and jailed in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia. As of today, these teenagers remain in jail.
During the Litya we pray for protection from invasion from enemies. Please pray for the suffering flock and suffering land of Georgia, which has been invaded by enemies. This small country is 20% occupied. Two of the dioceses of the Georgian Patriarchate, that of Abkhazia (Metroplitan Daniel) and Tskhinvali (Metropolitan Isaiah) have been occupied, many of the flock killed, others persecuted and scattered. The bishops of those diocese (whom I know well) are denied access to minister in occupied areas of their diocese.
Let us love one another! Let us pray for one another! Lord have mercy on His Holiness Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of Mtskheta and All Georgia and his faithful, long-suffering flock!
Our brother and editor, Mark, states: (Editor's note: It is incorrect to say that the Roman Catholic Adoption Agency in Boston "had" to close its doors. The Catholic Church made the decision that it did not want to operate without public funds. It choose to close, rather than obey the law, which it was obligated to do if it had sought to continue to receive public funds. Don't take public funds, and you are not obligated to obey society's anti-discrimination laws.)
I am not sure this is correct. My understading is that adoption agencies in Massachusetts must be licensed by the State and a condition of the license is each agency's agreement to comply with the State's anti-discrimination law, which requires the agency to accept applications from sexually disordered persons and not find them unfit as parents on that basis. The Diocese of Boston chose not to agree. It may also be true, so I'm told, that the United Way was threatening to investigate and potentially withhold funding, but what information I can find indicates that a loss government funding was not the major factor in the Diocese's decision.
#27 lexcaritas on 2009-11-25 04:35
Mark, may I make a suggestion that this thread be separated into its two topics? (The cassock requirement at SVS, and The Manhattan Declaration.) They are so very different, in many ways. Others may find it useful to refer to the thread, if it weren't so difficult to follow.
I read the 3 paragraphs written and presented recently by His Beatitude, Patriarch KIRILL of Russia, regarding obedience and discipline in the clergy. In those 3 short paragraphs, the Patriarch gave us all so much wonderful information about how our clergy, regardless of their rank, should approach their ministries, and how they should act at all times. Yes, they are called to be obedient, and of course, we want them to obey their Hierarchs. What Patriarch KIRILL is saying, however, is that the discipline and obedience must not stray them away from their first obedience and honoring of GOD, Who created them, Who inspired them to seek education and ordination, and Who blesses their work in the Holy Vineyard of God. They have the obligation to discern the difference when a Hierarch is either encouraging them or forcing them to follow his way, whether they are right or wrong, because that Hierarch, in forcing them to go down the wrong road, is forcing them to disobey God and ignore HIM as the ultimate authority in all that we do.
After all these months of strife in the AOCANA, I still don't understand why people either don't see or refuse to see the difference - they seem to think we have this blind obedience to follow Hierarchs and brother Clergy who are leading them down the path of trouble and strife. Why do people think it so important to be in this "inner circle" that is so unchristian and unorthodox? What hold do these "so called leaders" have over others? Must you be their "friends" on their "good lists", and encourage others to do the same? God doesn't have "good and bad lists", and HE loves all of us, even when we sin. He sees our sins, and HE encourages us to repent and live life better than that. Why can't our Hierarchs see the sins they are committing by encouraging others to follow them, no matter what they do?
God gave us all brains to use to see the world as it really is, to choose right from wrong and to discern when someone is wrong, no matter who he is. If we don't use our brains and follow GOD only, where will we be? We might as well be vegetables that cannot make a mature and wise decision. God leads us to the right path - it is up to us to make the choice to walk that path or the other one. He will encourage, but not force. Don't let people force you to do their dirty work - stand up, be strong, and tell them "NO", I will not follow you when you pull me away from God. Even satan gives us choices - he can never force us to do anything we don't want to do. We choose, again, to follow satan or follow GOD. There is so much common sense here. Thank you, Your Beatitude, for this very clear, simple and loving message to all of us. Let us pay attention to his words and get back on the right path - the path that leads to God and salvation.
This Catholic visitor would like to thank Met. Jonah, Father Patrick, all the other Orthodox signatories of the Manhattan Declaration, and all the defenders of said declaration in this combox. Thank you for your beautiful witness to Gospel values -- and especially to the Gospel of Life. And thank you for your eloquent defense of the Manhattan Declaration. Special thanks to the several gentlemen who set the record straight about the Archdiocese of Boston adoption case. THANK YOU!!!
#29 Catholic Onlooker on 2009-11-26 23:44
I am also one of those who are somewhat concerned that Metr. Jonah signed the Manhattan document. It is very easy to take up the pen and sign a document, but I think that one of the things that should distinguish Christians from 'that other crowd', is the same thing some of the early Fathers spoke about: We don't kill our unborn, we are temperate in our behavior, we care for our poor, our children and our elderly. We feed the hungry, We visit the prisoners and the sick and we are loving to those we disagree with, etc.
When the majority of us start doing just those things, and become visible to 'the other crowd' , then we won't have to sign any petitions or declarations.
In the meantime, perhaps signing declarations has some meaning, but we better put our hands and feet where we are now putting our signatures.
#30 Rdr. James Morgan on 2009-12-01 15:48
To everyone who thinks "the faithful of the OCA have not had an opportunity to discuss these very complex questions in an open-minded way," I refer you to the following books, published by St Vladimir's Seminary (SVS) Press: The Sacred Gift of Life by Fr John Breck (1998), and Stages on Life's Way by Fr John and Lyn Breck (2005). Both books deal with the Orthodox thinking on bioethics in a pastoral, theological, and scientific manner. Some of the issues discussed are Christian marriage, the use of embryos and stem cells, abortion and newborn children (including children with disabilities), addictions and family systems, and euthanasia. The signing of the Manhattan Declaration by +Metropolitan Jonah and others did not arise out of a vacuum. As you can see by the publication dates of the above books, this discussion has been publicly going on in our Church for over a decade! I agree with Fr Mark Hodges and others that it is totally appropriate and in complete harmony with our Church Tradition for us to not only enter into this discussion, but for us to take a stand on these issues! The Cappodocians and other fathers of the Church faced the contemporary issues of their times with love, frankness, and clarity. These books, discussions, and declarations are the actions of Orthodox in our time following the same pattern. Our society embraces "separation of Church and state" when it is in their best interest to do so, but conveniently "forgets" about it when it is not! This Declaration is the first step in our Church taking an official stand on these issues, and I rejoice that our leaders are doing so! Others who wish to discuss these issues intelligently are urged to read the above books, do their own independent research, and then bring their ideas and recommendations to the discussion table. May we all do this, as St Paul would say, "decently and in order," and also in love!
#31 David Barrett on 2009-12-03 12:57
Well, both Protestants and Roman Catholics can point back to how heretics were handled sometimes by the Byzantine Empire and even the Russian Empire. The prime example would be the emperor Justinian that put Manicheians to death by fire. Also, the Montantists killed themselves before Justinian himself could have them put to death, and christians during this reign who went back to being pagans, could also receive the death penality. Even John Calvin mention here use the Justinian Law Code to have Michael Severus put to death by it. Justinian believed in a theocracy which I doubt that most modern Protestants and Roman Catholics do in the United States. Also, the Jews suffered a lot during the later days of the Russian Empire-one reason why they came to America. So blaming Protestants and Roman Catholics here doesn't deal with some of the lack of religious freedom during the Byzantine Empire or the Russian Empire. Granted, in the case of Justinian he was a product of the imperial thinking of the 6th century.
Well, the ATS finished their review of St. Tikhon's. Is anyone aware that St. Tikhon's accreditation has be a PROBATIONARY one for the last 5 years? Now that the ATS has finished it's assessment, it AGAIN recommends another 5 year PROBATION. WHY? Because of it's leadership. So now, the Dean of STOTS has been elected to be Bishop of NY & NJ.
I think his election should also be probationary. If the Dean at STOTS was trying, how much more trying will the Bishop of NY/NJ be? Are we back to the thinking that if you fail, you get promoted and receive more responsibility?
#33 Anotymous on 2009-12-06 14:05
Church embezzlement investigation
Updated: Monday, 07 Dec 2009, 6:04 AM EST
Published : Monday, 07 Dec 2009, 6:04 AM EST
Orange (WTNH) - Members of Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Orange have turned to the FBI for help after discovering an embezzlement scheme may have drained them of a whole lot of cash.
The church on Racebrook Road has been undergoing a six million expansion project. As much as a million dollars may have been embezzled.
In a statement to News Channel 8, an attorney for the church said "Saint Barbara's is a possible victim of financial fraud committed by one or more other people... We are now working and cooperating with the FBI in connection with its investigation of the facts and circumstances relating to this matter."
The member of the church under investigation is not being named, but that person reportedly had access to the church's endowment and building funds.
That person also reportedly handled personal investment and retirement accounts for church members.
More than 150 members of the church met at an emergency meeting Sunday night.
#34 Anonymous on 2009-12-07 06:53
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre Threatened!
By Ahmad Khatib
AMMAN — Jordan summoned Israeli ambassador Nevo Dani on Thursday to demand a halt to “unilateral” work carried out by the Jewish state on the outer walls of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
“The ambassador was summoned today to the foreign ministry where he was handed an official letter of protest expressing deep concerns and rejection of unilateral measures in the outer western walls of the church,” a senior official told AFP.
The Jordanian government demanded Israel “immediately halt such actions and restore the status quo,” according to the letter.
“Israel’s measures are illegal and violate international laws because Israel is the occupying force in the West Bank and east Jerusalem,” the official said.
Another Jordanian official said the Israeli authorities “have removed iron bars around a gate in the walls that has been sealed since the British mandate of Palestine (which ended in 1948) and opened the gate.”
The official, who declined to be named, said that the Israelis “claimed that they were doing renovations but nobody asked them to do anything”.
“This is unprecedented and dangerous,” the official said, noting that anything to do with the Holy Sepulchre is “very sensitive.”
In Jerusalem, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, which looks after the holy places on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church and liaises with other Christian denominations, also protested against what it said was a unilateral Israeli action.
“The work presently being carried out by the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) on the ancient sealed door known as Mary?s Gate, which is located on Christian Quarter road in the Old City of Jerusalem, is the sole and entire initiative of the same Israeli Antiquities Authority,” it said in a statement.
“The Custody of the Holy Land never asked the IAA to do this work nor did the Custody give its permission.
“In fact the representatives of the Custody informed representatives of the IAA of the sensitive nature of this door.
“It must be stated that the Custody asked that no change to this door be made, and that the iron bars protecting the door be left in their present state, precisely because behind this sealed door is the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Sepulchre Church.
“The Custody would like to state for the record that the status quo regarding this ancient door must be left unchanged.”
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is shared uneasily by six Christian denominations — Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Egyptian Coptic, Syrian Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox as well as Roman Catholic.
It is regarded by most Christians as the holiest place in Christendom.
Church sources in Jordan told AFP that Israel started work on the walls on November 23.
Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, stressed in the letter the “need to maintain the status quo between all Christian denominations.”
It is the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, in coordination with the Palestinians.
#35 Anonymous on 2009-12-08 08:48
Can the Ecumenical Patriarchate play a leadership role in uniting Orthodoxy in America? Leadership involves more than the recitation of proof texts that allude to historical rights and privileges. Leadership requires moral authority. Does the Ecumenical Patriarchate possess that moral authority? My brother, who has been a Priest for more than 30 years recently returned from a ‘pilgrimage’ to Constantinople, or should I say, Istanbul. He came home from the Phanar brokenhearted. The lies, deception, intrigue, cynicism, and outright hypocrisy were shocking to him. The lack of respect for ordinary people, the distain for natural justice and even common consideration, the unchecked hierarchicalism and overemphasis on protocol, and general lack of piety were appalling. The daily encouragement and application of arbitrary, subjective, and inconsistent enforcement of canons, rules, and policies (if any actually exist) was unsettling. .... In fact, the brazenness does not even escape the Turkish press, which regularly complains about all sorts of sordid activities. The Patriarchate evidences all of the characteristics of an organization that is not accountable to anyone, and that unfortunately does not possess the qualities needed to inspire Orthodox unity in America. Granted, in America, we have a lot of problems and irregularities that need to be corrected, but at least we are looking at them and struggling to find our way. I believe that we have to be careful as to not jump from the proverbial “frying pan into the fire”.
#36 Anonymous on 2009-12-09 06:30
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