Monday, January 25. 2010
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Patriarch Cyril of Moscow ought to be more temperate, circumspect and Christlike in his public pronouncements. Is Russia so without sins, crimes, lawlessness, corruption and failure to respect God's image in human beings, it can pronounce earthquakes as God's verdict for wrongdoing and immorality in another country? What natural disaster might then strike Russia for its own shortcomings before God? "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye," says the head of our Church (Luke 6:40-43) Passing judgment and assigning blame is never a Christian response to a humanitarian tragedy -- "weeping with those who weep" (Romans 12:15) and giving until it hurts to alleviate their suffering is. Never forget: God causes the sun to shine and rain to fall for the benefit of saint and sinner alike (Matthew 5:45). We ought to imitate his graciousness and largesse.
#1 Gregory on 2010-01-25 17:20
Maybe we have the answer to the question you pose with the Holy Water debacle in Siberia? Pray tell who was being punished for that?
Obviously, the superstitious nonsense associated with attributing God's wrath to every calamity in this world is alive and well in large segments of Orthodoxy, and elsewhere. It's an embarrassment and an ignorant calumny against God for which the Patriarch, and others, should repent and do penance.
#1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-01-26 08:31
The Patriarch's comments are absolutely appalling. One expects such nonsense from fundies such as Pat
Robertson, but to hear it from one of our own... the Russian Patriarch certainly doesn't express the mind of the Church in this matter.
We also have to consider what others will think of the Church when they hear comments such as these. While theosis, our becoming gods by adoption, is one of the biggest evangelical draws to the Church, statements such as this, particularly when expressed by a leader like the Patriarch, are among some of the most powerful turn-offs for the Church. It is anti-evangelism.
I've seen Father Gerasim Eliel in person, serving and not serving, since that announcement. He is definitely still a priest.
Also, St Vladimir's is in Yonkers (in the northeastern Yonkers neighborhood of Crestwood, to be specific), not Scarsdale village.
(Editor's note: Technically, but just as Crestwood sounds so much more upscale than Yonkers, so too Scarsdale ( and it is on Scarsdale Road...) sounds even more upscale. Scarsdale Seminary has a nice a ring to it - as does Crestwood "Campus, for that matter. "That Yonkers school" sounds a bit flat, no?)
#3 Yonkadonk on 2010-01-25 20:15
Technically, St. Vladimir's is in N. Yonkers and Crestwood. Originally, the area was dominated by small villages; Tuckahoe, Crestwood, Scarsdale, Hartsdale, etc. St. Vladimir's is within the village boundaries of Crestwood. Eventually, these villages came under the legal boundaries of larger entities i.e., Yonkers. However, technically, Crestwood, NY is very appropriate and accurate!
#3.1 Anonymous on 2010-01-26 15:25
When did Fr Gerasim become the Bishop of Alaska. Is he already concecrated, and if he is, where was he concecrated. Sad to see or hear before, he was just coming to Alaska during the spirng and summer. What else is there news about Fr gerasim that we don't know about here in Alaska?
(Editor's note: As I stated, the report is in error.)
#4 Anonymous on 2010-01-25 21:43
Father Reardon is being charitable about Williams' academic work. His writing on St. Gregory Palamas alone should prevent his receiving the degree.
#5 Alexis on 2010-01-25 22:01
We Antiochians, too, are pleased your back. But no "updates" on the Detroit mess and Englewood manipulations!
Three trips by Met Jpnah to Englewood and no reciprocal visits? That is why many believed (and still believe) you were gagged.
Many agree our "only" independent voice. Long live OCANews.org.
#6 Anonymous (Mid West DIOCESE) on 2010-01-26 00:28
Rumor has it that Met. Philip has again threatened Met. Jonah to get OCA News off the Antiochian Archdiocese. If +Jonah succumbs and asks Mark to lay off +Philip and friends then all the past efforts for transparency and accountability may be of little value as the corruption will be free to prosper once again.
(Editor's Note: Metropolitan Jonah has not raised the issue with me.)
#6.1 Disgusted Antiochian priest on 2010-01-27 05:38
The Serbs just buried one patriarch, now they elect an 80 year old to replace him. What's wrong with this picture? There aren't any 40-50 year olds in Serbia who could step up? They may as well get ready for the next funeral!
#7 Anonymous on 2010-01-26 09:03
Shame on the writer of this message. Who said a Patriarch (Patriarch!) should be young and live for a long time? What's wrong with funerals, anyway?
#7.1 Archdeacon Kirill Sokolov on 2010-01-26 17:17
Being 80 does not necessarily mean being physically frail and/ or mentally gaga (as opposed to Lady Gaga, which is a totally different form of illness). If you would look to what's been happening in Rome, the election of 78-year-old Joseph Ratzinger didn't mean a sleepy papacy; quite the opposite, much to the dismay of the left-wing loonies. In the case of Serbia, the other two candidates were younger; but when, as in Acts 1, the choice was left to God (very similar to how St. Tikhon was elected in 1917, by the way), the lot fell upon Irinei of Nish. So how 'bout instead of rushing to judgment, you simply pray for the poor man, that he may carry this cross with courage? And then how 'bout memorizing John 7:24?
#7.2 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2010-01-27 03:53
I completely agree with you. When I saw his photo on the website of the Antiochian Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, I thought, he looks older, and why would they elect someone that old? I had no idea he was 80. They seem happy with the choice, but still, at his age, major health issues could take him out of commission or kill him overnight without warning. Then there is another period of instability for the church while they elect a new patriarch.
I'm curious to know the ages of the others who were voted on, and also why would anyone at age 80 want to take on such an enormous responsibility? Doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I know they say that even sometimes when a Bishop or Patriarch gets really sick, someone else can do his work until he recovers or a successor is elected, but if that person isn't totally upfront and thinks the sick one doesn't know what he's doing, then bad decisions are made, and it's not the fault of the one who got sick. If you have a life threatening illness, you really can't stay on top of these things, and who is truly minding the store of honesty in the meantime?
Something to consider in the future when we elect men who are getting on in years. We need stability and consistency to keep our faith on the straight and narrow path.
Regarding Archbishop KIRILL's comments attributing the devastating earthquake in Haiti to the country's sins, I would give the same response I gave when asked about Rev. Robertson's shameful and untimely comments, attributing the earthquake with the country's "pact with the Devil" and widespread practice of voodoo, etc. Below is my humble opinion:
No matter how unpopular or politically incorrect it may be, I would first of all admit that it is possible for the sins of a nation to result in tragic physical consequences for its citizens. The truth is, our sins do cause us, both individually and corporately, great calamity and tragedy. There are many examples of this in the Bible --both Old and New Testaments (not the least of which are the Israelites themselves as a nation). For instance, when Jesus healed, He would often say, "Go and sin no more, lest a worse thing befall you" (John 5:14). Sin does have consequences....
It is important to remember, however, that the direct cause-and-effect of sin-to-tragedy is not always the case (or at least readily apparent). The Bible teaches that only in the end will justice prevail. (Indeed, many scriptures teach that that "the rain falls on the just and the unjust," and that the wicked do often unjustly prosper, while the righteous suffer in this world, so we look to The Day of Judgement for the ultimate vindication of goodness.) Several of those healed by Jesus demonstrate this cause-and-effect is not always the case. For instance, when the blind man came to be healed, people asked Jesus: "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" It was an honest question, and Jesus treated it as such. Jesus answered that neither of them (the man or his parents) had caused the man's three-decade blindness by sinning, but that he was born blind so the glory of God would be revealed. And Jesus healed his blindness.
In fact, Jesus was asked something very close to the very question implied by Robertson's comments: When told of a great shame and horrible tragedy involving the deaths of many, Jesus explained, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Lk. 13:2-5). I think what we can take from these examples is, on the one hand, a call to the fear of God ("unless you repent you will all likewise perish"), along with the inseparable call in a democracy to speak out, warning us all that sin has consequences; and on the other hand, since we are not God, and God's thoughts are above ours, not to judge too readily when tragedy befalls others. Not only because we could be wrong in our discernment, but because the way of Christian humility says, "There but for the grace of God go I." As you know, Orthodox Christians admit that "I am the greatest of sinners." I am the one deserving of Hell.
Still, I don't believe in coincidences as much as I believe in Providence. I don't believe it was merely coincidence that the Titanic sunk, after its producers brazenly proclaimed that God Himself couldn't sink it. God will not be mocked. I don't believe it was only coincidence that 9/11 happened to a nation that murders its own innocent and most vulnerable children --to the tune of 50 million babies and counting. God destroyed the Canaanites for such sins! I don't believe it was purely coincidental that Katrina struck the very day of a major, national "gay" pride celebration, the leaders of which asserted that God Himself couldn't stop their "celebration." The fate of Sodom and Gomorrah is the certain future of such a country eventually. I would not be surprised if a country experienced a divine call to repentance through an earthquake, just as I will not be surprised when the United States of America falls --not so much through outside invaders, but destroyed from the inside by our own tolerance of sin.
That being said, I cringed when I heard of Pat Robertson's comments. They were horribly insensitive and untimely, at the very least. Personally, I am one to speak out against injustices, religious falsehoods and society's immorality. I think there's plenty of time to do that, but when tragedy strikes is not the time. It only serves to justify a lack of compassion for those suffering. Whether intended that way or not, it seems to imply that the disadvantaged deserve their fate. Instead, tragedies like the Haiti earthquake are opportunities for Christians to step up and show the grace and kindness of God. I think the rhetoric stops when calamity befalls anyone (you don't kick a man when he's down, even if he's a thief trying to steal your wallet a minute before). We care about ALL --even those who hate us. Whether to our advantage or not, Christians seek to assuage the suffering of anyone, friend or foe. So whether the sufferer is a Christian or a Muslim or an atheist or a Satanist practicing voodoo against us, we love him and care about him and seek his good, in all ways and at all times, especially when he experiences personal tragedy. After all, Jesus said, "Love your enemies." So now is not the time to issue "prophetic" warnings after-the-fact, in my opinion. Now is the time to help those who are suffering! (My first reaction was to pray for a college close friend of mine, who is a missionary now in Haiti for the American Baptists.) Spiritual assessment can come later; now is the time for Christians to pray and do all we can to assist. One blogger put it well: "A fallen and sinful world will have such tragedies. To those who do not trust in God it should be a wake up call. To those who believe it should be a challenge to find one more opportunity to demonstrate God’s love."
So, bottom line, I'm sorry to disappoint, but I don't know if what Robertson asserted has any truth to it. Maybe it does, and maybe it doesn't. Frankly, I don't think that's the main issue right now, because people are suffering and dying.
On a positive note --not to defend comments but just to put them in proper perspective, Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network has sent a million dollars in supplies to Haiti and has disaster teams dispatched to the area right now. His site says, "Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster."
I believe that quote to be true. And I know of a certainty that both Rev. Robertson and those suffering right now in Haiti are far better people than I am. So, please pray both for the suffering, and for me, a sinner!
Above was my response to people asking about Rev. Robertson's infamous comments regarding Haiti. I would say almost exactly the same in response to Archbishop KIRILL's comments.
Father Mark Hodges
What a wonderful, comprehensive response to a question I was surprised more people weren't asking.
#8.1 Alexis on 2010-01-27 08:16
The first half of your post was well said, and your points that Jesus refered to about it not mattering why this or that happened, because we're all sinners and deserving of judgment was right on. I wish we heard more of this today. But then for some reason you wrote this:
-----Still, I don't believe in coincidences as much as I believe in Providence. I don't believe it was merely coincidence that the Titanic sunk, after its producers brazenly proclaimed that God Himself couldn't sink it. God will not be mocked. I don't believe it was only coincidence that 9/11 happened to a nation that murders its own innocent and most vulnerable children --to the tune of 50 million babies and counting. God destroyed the Canaanites for such sins! I don't believe it was purely coincidental that Katrina struck the very day of a major, national "gay" pride celebration, the leaders of which asserted that God Himself couldn't stop their "celebration."----
You're free to have those opinions, but I wonder why you felt it necessary, after such a well thought out post about how our opinions and how interpreting such events is not our job, to then go ahead and give YOUR opinion and interpretation these events.
As I said, of course you're free to have those opinions. And for all I know you could be right. God could have sunk the Titanic in a fit of rage because His pride was wounded. Or it could have sunk because of the arrogance of those involved for picking up speed in the middle of an ice field at the most dangerous time of the year. Human stupidity? Or Divine judgment? Each person is of course free to choose their own point of view.
God could also have, for example, had gotten sick and tired of say, "Holy Russia" rounding up Jews into pogroms and thus raised up Communism to punish the Church for it's sins. (for allowing and in fact at times encouraging such evil)
Or as some Catholics claim, God could have raised up Islam to punish the Eastern Church for being disobedient to the Bishop of Rome. After all, isn't it just too much of a coincidence to say all the Eastern Churches fell under Muslim rule, but the Western, and specifically Rome itself, never did? (yes I've had Catholics argue this point to me in an attempt to convert me to Catholicism, as it "proves" their Church is the true one)
How do you determine which interpretation is correct? What gives you or me or the Church any authority to decide why a natural disaster happens or doesn't happen?
Indeed, God could have gotten mad at a gay march in New Orleans and sent Katrina, although one wonders why God would cause so much suffering to non homosexuals along with the homosexual pride marchers? (because they allow homosexuals in 'their' city?)
Maybe it wasn't the gay march at all, but the fact a science class was teaching evolution. Or perhaps an Atheist somewhere on that day said he didn't believe in God. Depending on one's slant and world view, Katrina might have "meant" any number of things that had nothing to do with homosexuality. maybe it was God's way of telling and showing Americans how our fellow citizens live in poverty just because they happen to be African American and/or poor.
You see, the problem is how do we interprete such things? Or should we even bother? Why do natural disasters have to have a super natural meaning behind them? At one time people believed eclipses were signs from the gods, we now know its just the moon passing between us and the sun. Why are eclipses no longer cosmic consequences of our sins, but earthquakes still are?
I suspect it has something to do with the fact that we take for granted the earth is "solid" and unmovable, and yet when it does move, our "gut feeling" tells us something supernatural must be at work to move something as reliable as "solid ground"....I think this is a primordial fear of the thing we assume most solid not being there, or turning against us. And for most of human experience what on earth is more solid, more reliable than the ground we walk on? So when that ground suddenly shifts, well . . . it must be the gods, or God, or something else. The thought that the ground we walk on is always moving over a molten river of liquid rock never crosses our minds. (partly because we didn't discover this until the early 20th century, so it's really new knowledge comparatively speaking)
In reality the ground moves, sometimes with sudden shocks, just like the moon passes between us and the sun, blocking out light for a time; not because God is trying to say something, but because that's the universe we live in. Perhaps the universe is that way because of the Fall of adam and eve, that I would not argue, but that's not what you seem to being saying. You seem to be giving a direct cause and effect here. 9/11 happened because of "fill in the blank"...some people say abortion. But it could just as much, and just as reasonably be because too many people on that day wore yellow socks. Without some system of interpreting the cause and effect, it's all gut feelings and pure speculation, which in fact Jesus said (as you rightly pointed out) not to do.
----just as I will not be surprised when the United States of America falls --not so much through outside invaders, but destroyed from the inside by our own tolerance of sin.------
I won't be surprised when the United States falls either, but only because the United States is no different than any other nation or Empire on earth...all Empires rise, and all Empires fall. Sin is involved in as much as, well living a sinful lifestyle will just bring about bad consequences....(ie: you steal money from the poor, eventually the poor revolt and you end up poor with them)
Having a society, government and economy based in sin is simply not self sustaining. Just like printing up money is not self sustaining. Not because God might judge people for printing up money, because it simply doesn't work in the universe we live in.
Not because God is punishing anyone, but because that's the world God set up. Atheists call it natural law, we might call it reaping what we sow. Atheists might say that's just "the way it is", we say it's like that because that's the cosmic order God set into place. Either way though, when America falls, it doesn't neccessarily mean God "did" anything. We did it to ourselves.
Katrina could be another example of how our sins "caused" a regular hurricane to be souped up into a cat 5 storm due to our sins against God's creation...but again, that's just the way nature works. If we warm the planet, causing warmer water, well, we're going to have stronger hurricanes. it's simply a fact of reality.
Earthquakes are another thing entirely though....plate techtonics have nothing to do with anything we're doing to the planet, or each other....they are akin to eclipses of the sun. They just are.
In governments, society etc we reap what we so, as did the corrupt Byzantine Empire. It rose, it was corrupt and evil, and it fell. However I do not think Byzantium fell because God got mad at the Byzantines and decided to teach them a lesson. It's simply that corruption cannot exist indefinitely, it eventually breaks down.
Anyone is free of course to believe God, or gods, or aliens, or government conspiracies with Tesla earthquake machines were involved in the Haitian disaster, that is the right of every American. And I certainly do believe in Divine providence. That God has something to "teach us" in all of these things. That God "allows" these things is obvious. However God teaching us that for example, 1st world powers taking advantages of third world countries is wrong, is very different than saying "I believe so and so event was not just a coincidence." That seems to be going beyond providence, to a direct cause and effect. Do this sin, and God will punish you. I do believe God has something, many things to teach us in all this, including Katrine, 9/11, Communist Russia, but I don't for a minute believe God DID any of these things for the purpose of teaching it. However I do believe we can learn, through Scripture, Tradition, the Fathers of the Church and the saints, what said events in history might mean to the over all Salvation of mankind, and the Eucharistic giving back of the world to God. But that, I think is very different from implying it's not just a coincidence such and such event took place because someone mocked God, or killed babies, or "allows" gay pride parades. That seems to be very close to what the "God did it" crowd has been saying. Although perhaps you're just expressing God's "allowance" of events with a different line of thought and words than I would prefer and I just read way too much into your post. If that is the case, I sincerely apologize.
#8.2 Anonymous on 2010-01-27 10:39
First, your suggestion that various disasters were not "merely coincidense", seems presumptious that you might somehow know the mind of God. Even if one believes that God has somehow used those to punish or chastise (I don't, although that may be presumption, too), how does one know that He was punishing or chastising for the reasons you gave?? For example, the sinking of the Titanic: from everything I've read, most of those who lost their lives were poor immigrants to the New World, while the builders of the ship were not even on board, nor were they held accountable during hearings following the disaster. They certainly didn't seem to learn the lesson you think they should have. Try telling the widows, widowers, and orphans of the 9/11 attacks that their loved ones died because of someone else's abortions. If God did allow it to punish us, how do you know it wasn't because of something else? Maybe the was we treat the poor, maybe our arrogance. How are we to know? Are we to rely on people such as Pat Robertson or Patriarch Kyrill to tell us?
And what does this say about God, besides a failure to communicate in His punishing us but not letting us know exactly what for? That He has lousy aim? That He is more likely to cause "collateral damage" than to say, smite abortion doctors? The odds are that none were present in the World Trade Center or the Pentagon or the jet that crached in Pennsylvania. The idea that God allowed the attacks because of abortion seems to imply that God does not care if He snuffs out a lot of other innocent lives, as long as He can make a point which only a few might get. That is certainly not the God Whom I believe in.
I heard that several years ago a televangelist was interviewing someone who insisted that AIDS was God's punishment for homosexuality. To which the televangelist replied with a question: "Does that mean that God blesses lesbians, since they have not been afflicted with AIDS?" I don't bring that issue up as a topic for discussion--I only raise it to make a point.
I certainly think that God can "use" disasters for good--after all, look what He did with the Cross: certainly things such as the earthquake in Haiti have brought out moving humanitarian efforts, among other things. But to presume, even hypothetically, that He allows them or causes them because of this or that sin seems very dangerous, very wrong, to me.
#8.3 a priest of the Midwest on 2010-01-27 10:57
you should have stayed with the baptists and our PATRIARCH (not archbishop) KIRILL should consider joining them or some other fundamentalist group.
#8.4 Anonymous on 2010-01-27 15:08
The idea that a Christian with as big a pulpit as Robertson would say something so foolish and equate the well understood science of tectonic plate shifting with a kind God hateful of voodoo does one thing only.
It gives great credibility to another fellow with a media pulpit and a following that need not prove a thing...Christopher Hitchens.
Unfortunately the science of no God easily wins against the psychodribble of the former.
Thank God we had great Apostles like Blaise Pascal to provide us with compelling arguments against the insidious madness of Robertson.
If you can't get past the sarcasm, please don't respond.
Insidious means deceitful, by the way. Nothing like deceiving old fools.
#8.5 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-01-31 08:49
Regarding Fr Patrick Reardon's letter to His Beatitude +JONAH as president of St Vladimir Seminary:
I agree completely with Father Patrick. To sponsor Dr. Williams as featured lecturer was a serious mistake, because of his public advocacy of soul-destroying perversion. (How many thousands of souls has his public position harmed?) But to additionally honor him with an Orthodox degree is to deny the Faith.
Dr. Williams does not demonstrate the stance of someone who understands basic Orthodox teaching, let alone someone worthy of exemplary Orthodox honors as a doctor of the Faith. As Fr Patrick notes, he is internationally known precisely for his public support for sexual perversion within the Anglican Communion. St Nicholas of South Canaan puts it, one can never begin to understand Christian theology until one first obeys the Ten Commandments.
Bestowing such an honor scandalizes --as it should-- both Orthodox faithful and those Anglicans (and other Protestants) looking to Orthodoxy for spiritual and moral stability. It destroys our witness to so many looking for an anchor, and ruins our credibility in their eyes as The Church of Christ. How many former Episcopalians, Lutherans and other Protestants, now in the ranks of the OCA, would have questioned coming into the Orthodox Church had such an honor been given to the world's leading clerical advocate of a homosexual episcopacy when they were looking for a spiritual home?
Let's take out the homosexual issue, and for illustration sake, consider another, parallel circumstance: What if St Vladimir Seminary bestowed an honorary doctorate to an abortionist, who also happened to advance patristics in academic circles? Do you see the inconsistency? Dr Williams may have given the impression of "contributing to the field of Orthodox theology," but his position proves he does not understand the Fathers, or the Faith. It is one thing to understand, forgive, and show compassion for the plight of those entangled in sexual sin; it is completely different --and again, it is a denial of the Christian Faith-- to advocate perversion as not only acceptable behavior but as good, and not only that but advocate for lesbians and homosexuals as bishops wielding exemplary authority in Christ's Church. Isn't this the hidden "family secret" and real root of our own scandal in the OCA, which we ignored at the last AAC?
Or, to give another example, what if St Vladimir Seminary conferred an honorary doctorate to a leader of Planned Parenthood or NARAL, who was "a patron of The Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius"? Do you see how this is a sell-out?
It is indeed, as Fr Patrick put it, a disgrace to the Church to be so misrepresented. More than a lapse in judgement, bestowing an Orthodox doctorate on Christendom's leading gay activist strikes at the integrity of St Vladimir Seminary, and the seminary's faithfulness to the Church's loving moral teachings. It also harms the soul of Dr Williams, to assist in his continued delusion that his positions are acceptable to Christians. Not to mention the further confusing of our faithful, so many of whom are already unsure of the harmony of Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy.
Father Mark Hodges
St Vladimir Seminary graduate
Fr Patrick said it all--I cannot add a word to his comments.
I find the Rowan Williams debacle embarassing and troubling on many levels:
As an ex-Anglican who became Orthodox;
As a friend of St Vladimir's Seminary;
As a friend of Anglicans looking for the Authentic Church,
who find Canterbury's accommodation of the gay agenda
Is this a portent of future rapprochement with the zeigeist?
I am grateful for Fr Patrick's courage and candor; he is a pastor, scholar, teacher, and friend.
#9.1 Sdn Henry Shirley--St Herman of Alaska Chapel, West Bend, WI on 2010-01-27 08:29
I still believe it was a very serious mistake, both against Anglicans and Orthodox (as well as the non-believing world), to bestow an Orthodox divinity degree to Dr. Williams, because he represents and defends godless immorality, no matter how many pious words are thrown in his articles (one of which I read quoted homosexual novels more than God's Word).
However, I was humbled and taken aback by the comments on the SVS site about the honorary doctorate. Particularly, the quotes from conservative Anglicans who have left Dr. Williams' church specifically over sodomites and lesbians as bishops, which Dr. Williams infamously supports (describing practicing homosexual self-and-partner-abusers as reflecting divine love in the same way as normal, unperverted, God-fearing husbands and wives).
One ANCA bishop is quoted as saying, “With grateful hearts to Metropolitan Jonah, we welcome and rejoice over his vision and commitment to restoring Anglican-Orthodox dialogue. We who are faithful Anglicans thank St. Vladimir’s for its deep commitment to the faith once delivered and its love for others outside Orthodoxy who share likeminded love for the love and truth of Jesus.”
Another ANCA bishop is quoted as saying, “The real significance of today’s events goes far beyond the awarding of an honorary degree to Dr. Rowan Williams. By conferring this degree upon the Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Vladimir’s has expressed respect and affection for Anglicanism, as well as a hope for a deeper relationship between Anglican and Orthodox Christians. Metropolitan Jonah has spoken of this new vision in a very inspirational way.”
If this is the genuine sentiment of the ANCA bishops, then my estimation of the meaning and significance of this honorary degree may be overstated, and my opinion may not be as universal as I thought. If the ANCA, which broke Anglican communion over issues Dr. Williams champions, has no problem with giving him an Orthodox divinity degree, and even sees the bestowal in a positive light for Anglican/Orthodox dialogue, then certainly what I say should be taken with little more than a grain of salt.
My opinion remains very strong. I do believe this is a denial of the Faith of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. (Dr. Williams may lecture brilliantly on the Philokalia, but true understanding is found in submission to God's commands, including helping those entrapped in sodomy by loving them out of such spiritually and psychologically and physically harmful relationships, not assisting their eternal damnation by telling them what they do is okay!) However, I also admit that I have many times applauded Metropolitan JONAH for taking risks in his ecumenical efforts, signing The Manhattan Declaration, and proactively reaching out to Trinitarian Christian bodies such as the Navigators, and the ANCA itself.
Perhaps the root of my strong disagreement comes from a difference of opinion as to the meaning of bestowing an Orthodox divinity degree, as another attendee is quoted as saying, "from the Orthodox Church." (This disagreement is paralleled, I think, in views of the meaning and significance of our OCA ecumenical efforts in the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches, and is an issue too often given too little time at All American Councils to discuss.)
So, I think the question which remains to be answered is, What does the giving of this Orthodox doctorate mean? Does it not offer some credence --in the eyes of either Anglicans or Orthodox or Dr Williams or the world-- to Dr. Williams' world-famous stand for the sodomizing episcopacy?
If His Beatitude, or Fr Chad, or Fr John can clarify this, perhaps many of us who object would be able to agree to disagree in love.
Regarding Abp. Rowan: originally, Rowan was not going to St. Vladimir's Seminary to speak or even on a public agenda. Rowan is personal friends with Fr. John Behr, Dean of St. Vladimir's. Rowan's visit was originally a private, personal affair. Since he was visiting during the time of the Fr. Schmemann Memorial Lecture, Jan. 30th, he was asked to also speak. The idea of conferring an honorary degree is only proper and follows proper protocol for the leader of the world's Anglicans who has contributed to the Orthodox world. He is not accepting a degree because of any views, pro or con, regarding homosexuality. It could very well be that such a visit could bring more Anglicans into the Orthodox Church. In fact, wouldn't it be interesting if this visit could prompt Rowan to become Orthodox and even push the Church of England into Orthodoxy. Afterall, Prince Philip & Charles are of Greek blood and understand the Orthodox Church well!
#10 Anonymous on 2010-01-26 15:56
Your post is a typical whitewash. Williams is a 'HERETIC', that is a plain and simple fact that cannot be denied. There are plenty of very 'ORTHODOX' people who could very well have addressed the SVS convocation. For instance, the SVS students would probably receive far more applicable information from, for example, the priest from St Innocent Orphanage. They have already received plenty of 'academic' verbage, enough to last a lifetime and this fellow, Williams, will only be able to speak concerning his 'ideas' regarding Orthodoxy, he is not a 'theologian' and is definitely not Orthodox. What a waste of time it is to bring such a shameful fellow to the podium at SVS. Shame, shame, shame on you who administrate at SVS and allowed such a travesty.
#10.1 Yanni on 2010-01-30 18:42
You certainly have no clue! Please go to Ancient Faith Radio and listen to Archbp. Rowan's academic presentation. Those of us with an academic understanding were thrilled with Rowan's lecture. The fellow is a true scholar and his understanding of the Philokalia is remarkable.
In the future, don't remark about issues beyond your understanding!
#10.1.1 Anony Moose on 2010-02-01 16:10
Anony Moose writes:
"You certainly have no clue! Please go to Ancient Faith Radio and listen to Archbp. Rowan's academic presentation. Those of us with an academic understanding were thrilled with Rowan's lecture."
Alas, those of us deprived of "an academic understanding" are obliged to stick to the facts.
You may live forever, Moose, but you will never hear "Achbp. Rowans academic presentation" on Ancient Faith Radio.
#10.1.1.1 Father Patrick Reardon on 2010-02-02 09:51
I stand by what I said. Who cares whether Mr Williams is an 'expert' or not, he is still a heretic and doesn't belong on an Orthodox platform.
#10.1.1.2 Yanni on 2010-02-02 22:15
Mark, I am surprised that you gave any space to the ...group in Chicago, Greek Orthodox Christians of Chicago for Truth and Reform (gotruthreform.org)...... I sent a link to the site and received the following comment:
"As for the monastery-attack website, it's ridiculous. These folks'
criteria for judging what is Orthodox has no tether to reality, that
is, Christ. It's whatever makes them comfortable. And it's based on
such distorted, and even fictional, information. I'm disappointed in
Mark Stokoe for giving it any air time."
He said quite well what I have been thinking. Anyway, nothing else to complain about.
The other articles are excellent.
#11 Yanni on 2010-01-26 17:47
Here is an uplifting story of support for Haiti from one of the oldest Orthodox countries, from Georgia.
On January 21, 2010, in Tbilisi, Georgia, a concert was held to benefit the children of Haiti, organized by the Charitable Foundation Iavnana (the Georgian word for lullaby). From reports about the event:
World-reknowned opera singers Marcelo Alvarez, Michael Crider and Ambrogio Maestri took part in the concert, invited by Iavnana and its President Paata Burchuladze, himself a famous opera singer. Zaza Azmaifarashvili conducted the orchestra of the (Georgia) Opera and Ballet Theatre. Over seventy four thousand phone call pledges in support of the children of Haiti were received during the concert which was held in held in the Tbilisi Grand Concert Hall and broadcast live on Rustavi2.
His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II was in attendance. His Holiness is known for his love of opera, and music and art in general and has himself composed religious hymns and chants. Addressing the audience, the Georgian patriarch said: “May God bless Haiti and its people.” His Holiness blessed the participants of the concert and awarded the founder of the Iavnana Foundation with the order of Saint Giorgi at the end of the event.
God bless and heal the suffering people of Haiti! God bless His Holiness Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia!
The comments by Patriarch Kirill, if accurate, betray a profound misunderstanding of the faith. Only when we see Christ in the face of every human being, regardless of the color of their skin or economic circumstances, will we truly understand the love of Christ. Right now, as we sit in comfort, our thoughts and hearts should be with our suffering Haitian brothers, for as Mother Theresa would say, we are not worthy of such suffering, for Christ is to be found in each of our suffering brethren. A suffering that we in some measure contribute too in this fallen world, where there is poverty, even though God has given in abundance. We are called at this time to stand at the foot of the cross the Haitian people are bearing and to offer comfort and consolation, not judgement and condemnation. Such remarks coming from Russia, after it has seen so much suffering in the last century are incomprehensible, especially since many in the West have claimed this suffering was due to the corruption and sins of the Church ! All this shows is that we are not to sit around imagining what and how God acts in the world, as if we are God. We are just to know that God is working in the world for the salvation of his people, even if we don't understand. We are instead to heed and focus on Matt 25 and to do good to our neighbor, for that is what we will be called to account for. Lord have mercy !
#13 Rd. Rick Wagner on 2010-01-26 23:17
Regarding the complaints against Elder Ephraim's and his monasteries in North America:
advocacy of aerial toll-houses
This is a long-held belief of the Orthodox Church and finds reference in the services of the Church and in the writings of various saints (I just read something on this topic in St. John of Kronstadt's "My Life in Christ" the other day). For more on this teaching within the Orthodox Church see the following useful summaries:
insistence on re-baptism of non-Orthodox Christians seeking to join the Orthodox Church
This is in keeping with the current practice on Mount Athos and in the Church of Jerusalem, so it is unsurprising that a former Athonite abbot would require the Orthodox baptism of converts from non-Orthodox faiths - specifically not RE-baptism. For more on the various sides of this discussion, see:
marriage counseling by cloistered monks and nuns
This is a not uncommon practice in the life of the Orthodox Church. See any of the writings about Optina Pustyn, for instance; there may even be an example in The Brothers Karamazov, if I am not mistaken, as also in the correspondence of St. Theophan the Recluse and Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain.
rejection of the “New Calendar”
Elder Ephraim's monasteries are on the New Calendar. Many clergy on the New Calendar - in various jurisdictions including the OCA and GOA - regularly comment on their problems with the New Calendar.
suggestion that other Greek Orthodox priests and parishes follow a “watered-down” theology for not supporting such positions
This is not simply a complaint from 'Ephraimites' regarding the GOA. This critique is found throughout Orthodoxy in America, including from within the GOA and from non-'Ephraimite' clergy and laity.
The only complaint that would seem to be truly inappropriate is the claim that the Elder is selecting spouses for his spiritual children. Greater detail should be had, though, as to whether this is selection a la the Moonies, simply blessing or not blessing the intended marriage of his spiritual children, the introduction of spiritual children seeking marriage, or something else. Perhaps seeking marriage advice from the Church seems odd to those that do not see their priest or spiritual father as a true guide to their lives, but merely sacramental or 'ministerial' functionaries employed by parish councils to meet their self-defined needs. Perhaps there are true abuses going on. Then again, I'm sure examples could be multiplied from Orthodox cultures and history that would show this to be far from an unordinary tradition - as to whether it is a necessary or wise pastoral act in 21st century America is a different question.
Most of what I heard over the years from those standing up against Elder Ephraim and his monasteries seems to stem from a lack of understanding of more than nominal Orthodoxy around the world (including Orthodoxy in Greece and on Mount Athos), which is far more traditional than the Orthodoxy many have grown up with in the US or perhaps even in their own Orthodox families, and a general misunderstanding of or antipathy to monasticism itself and its historic place in the Orthodox Church.
For the record, I am not involved or associated with any of Elder Ephraim's monasteries. Personally, I find them too ethnocentric - a sort of grecophone 'Renaissance Festival', but perhaps such specific and strong medicine was necessary...
Re: " Personally, I find them too ethnocentric - a sort of grecophone 'Renaissance Festival'"
Perhaps this sort of prejudice is precisely the thing that keeps you from experiencing the fulness of what these monasteries have to offer to us, this wounded WASPish sense of entitlement that so often marks the interaction between so-called "ethnics' and "us" both here in this country and abroad.
#14.1 Anonymous on 2010-02-04 05:14
Yes, I spend the whole post defending Elder Ephrem's monasteries, but the most important thing to note is the one place I offer criticism.
Note also, I didn't say anything about ethnicity per se being a problem, just that I found the atmosphere of these monasteries "too ethnocentric", too much for me - personally, not objectively. This is a comparative statement, nothing more. Geronda has done a wonderful job reaching out to nominally Orthodox Greek and Greek-Americans and many rootless Americans both of which are looking for cultural context as well as salvation. This was the strategy of St. Kosmas' missionary efforts; personally, I prefer the strategy of the Russian Mission in Alaska with both natives and those of mixed ancestry. In addition, the Hellenistic immersion at these monasteries will likely bear wonderful fruit - both convert and cradle - in the number of traditional episcopal candidates in the GOA and any united Orthodox Church in North America.
It looks like ultra conservative Evangelical Protestants aren't the only Christians with insensitive, superstitious, holier than thou proclaimers of God's mercy, justice and wrath on the earth in the 21st century.
I'm sorry, but if this superstitious, pagan like "reading of signs in the sky and earth" to determine the will of God is as entrenched in Orthodoxy as this statement by the Patriarch of Moscow (and people who seemingly support his position) makes it appear, then perhaps Dr. Carl Sagan's "The Demon Haunted World" should be required reading for every Orthodox Christian.
#15 Chuck Shingledecker on 2010-01-27 09:33
Re: Election of New Patriarch
The electoral process is different than described here. The names of the three "elected" candidates are placed into separate sealed envelopes which, in turn, are placed into the Holy Gospel. After prayers, a monk then selects one of the three envelopes.
According to SOC website sources:
"... After the Holy Liturgy Bishops gathered at the Patriarchate court. The session was preceded by consultations before the election procedure. At the Election assembly Bishop Lavrentije of Shabac presided, the oldest bishop in the ordination of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Holy Assembly of Bishops has 44 members, and 34 bishops met the requirements to be nominated as the new Patriarch of Serbia. By the secret ballot bishops proposed candidates, out of which three bishops were on the shortlist, who received more than half of the votes of the members of the Election assembly. In the first round the candidate for Patriarch became the Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, in the second round the Bishop Irinej of Nis, and a third candidate was elected in the fourth round, and that was Bishop Irinej of Bachka.
These three candidates have received more that a half votes during the four rounds of voting. The envelope with the name of the Patriarch from the Holy Gospel was chosen by Very Reverend Archimandrite Gavrilo, superior of the monastery of Lepavina (Metropolitanate of Zagreb-Ljubljana)."
(Editor's note: Thank you for the clarification.)
#16 Alexander on 2010-01-28 07:32
More vicious slander attacking Fr. Ephraim of Arizona ??? I thought such lies were laid to rest a few years ago. There always are going to be people who oppose the very existence of monasticism. There are, however, better ways to demonstrate ones ignorance of monasticism and of these Greek Orthodox monasteries.
As for tollhouse-related theology, that remains a "theologoumenon", therefore acceptable to believe, should one so wish.
#17 Antonia on 2010-01-28 11:49
I have noticed, being a member of a Greek Orthodox parish, that many of my fellow Greeks think that monasticism is a fine institution, but for someone else's children.
Regarding the tollhouses, there are many 'holy' people on both sides of the controversy. The controversy goes way back to the early days of the Church. In the end, we will all see the truth/untruth of many various beliefs and traditions (small t).
One problem that many of us have (myself included and worse than many, if not all) forgotten the commandment to love all mankind (neighbors and enemies) no matter what they believe or practice. I was watching a video the other day entitled 'The theft of Kosovo'; I got angrier and angrier and started thinking all kinds of 'vengeful' thoughts until they stopped showing the terrible acts of the Albanians and started showing the simple, poor, cold, hungry, Albanians themselves and I realized that, there, but for the grace of God goes I. The Albanians, the Muslims, Rowan Williams, those who don't believe regarding tollhouses as I believe are all made in the image of God.
Lord have Mercy.
#17.1 John R on 2010-01-30 18:59
Evidently I have been living under a rock or something (!!!), but can someone point me towards a "fair and balanced" analysis of Father Ephraim and his monastery? I have reviewed the anti-Ephraim website but don't really know what they are fussing about. I guess he hasn't had much influence in the AOCNA, at least in the East. Thanks!
#17.2 Subdeacon Bob on 2010-01-30 21:39
Fair and balanced? Visit one Elder Ephraim's 17 monasteries in the U.S. and talk with the assorted pilgrims that you'll find there: Greeks (two kinds, American and overseas), OCA, Russian, Bulgarian, Antiochian, etc.
One of the most wonderful elements of pilgrimage to these monasteries is listening to the testimonies of the regular pilgrims. Why do they keep going back?
The main reason I keep hearing from these assorted pilgrims: miraculous healings of both soul and body, the kind that most people just read about in books like the Bible or Lives of the Saints, the kind I and my family have experienced (Doxa to Theo!) at two of these monasteries.
Where can you read "fair and balanced" testimony? To paraphrase St. Paul (2 Cor.3:2): The Gerondas and Gerontissas, the monks and the nuns are themselves "epistles" written by the Holy Spirit, "known and read by all men."
#17.2.1 Anonymous on 2010-02-03 22:05
In all of this controversy surrounding the granting of an honorary degree to Archbishop Williams I have yet to read anything that even approximates his statements on the subject of gay bishops specifically or homosexuality generally. The notion that he publicly advocates sexual perversion within the Anglican Communion is--forgive me--absurd. Where has he ever said he approves of homosexuality, as distinct from compassion for the individual homosexual? Or that he approves of any other "perversion"?
What he has done is try to hold together a church that is rapidly pulling itself apart in several directions at once. I'm not defending Anglican doctrine or Archbishop Williams, who is quite capable of speaking for himself. But I can't help wondering why homosexuality is always held up as so much worse than any of the sexual sins committed by heterosexuals--or, for that matter, the many other sins of greed. Is a monogamous homosexual a worse sinner than a heterosexual adulterer? Or does he cause more damage to the church than, say, a priest or bishop who is an active alcoholic? Or an embezzler? So perhaps we could pray for a little perspective here, along with our vigilance.
#18 Morton on 2010-01-29 08:09
"O ye subverters of all decency, who use men as if they were women, and lead women out to war as if they were men! This is the work of the devil, to subvert and confound all things, to overlap the boundaries that have been appointed from the beginning, and remove those which God has set to nature."
St. John Chrysostom, Homily 5 on Titus
#18.1 Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell on 2010-02-01 07:51
Today, Feb. 1, 2010, begins messy month #12 in the AOCANA scandal. It's been almost a year, folks, since our whole lives were turned upside down, and we are no closer to resolutions and restoration of peace and order than we were a year ago. We must continue our quest for truth and honesty so that GOD'S HOLY CHURCH can be restored to a place where peace and joy prevail, where HIS WILL, not the will of men, reigns and where we will once again enjoy being in our parishes instead of continuing to experience pain and suffering.
There could be more disasters in store for those involved with the political, cultural and economic destruction of Haiti if the Patriarch is right. Many people are unaware that France demanded unsustainable economic payments from Haiti from the time of their independence in 1825 to 1947. Unless paid the French would embargo and sanction Haiti. Much could be said about the USA's support of tyrannical dictators such as Duvalier, their contempt for the democratically elected president of Haiti Aristede, their collusion with the minority elites in Port Au Prince who wanted to be "rid of this troublesome priest." Ask not for whom the bell tolls.
#20 Alice Carter on 2010-02-01 08:12
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