Friday, May 28. 2010
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One of the (as yet) unspoken fallouts from the Episcopal Assembly is the position of the Russian Church. The Synod reunited with the Mother Church with an avowed purpose to preserve its distinctive "Russianness" and affiliation with the Motherland and its old imperial pretensions. It was said that while the Synod would be canonical it would no longer be Russian. I say this because of the care the Greek and Antiochian Churches took to exclude and sanitize the term "diaspora." The Russians seem to be taking the tact that all Russians and would-be Russians are under their omophor regardles of location. The Diaspora may be dead in Antioch and Constantinople, but I assume you, dear reader, it is very much alive, well and a matter of church polity in Moscow!
I note with interest that there were no published comments from a Russian bishop and certainly they didn't seem eager to embrace Metropolitan Jonah and stand as advocate for him, a task seemingly left up to Metropolitan Philip.
I would say that the real 800 lb elephant on the table is not the position of the OCA vis-a-vis membership on the Executive Committee but the 8000 lb. wooley Mammoth which is the position of the Russian Church. Moscow is not willingly going to sede one millimeter of ground to Constantinople over the issue of who is the defining Autocephalous Church. In this incepient brough-ha-ha it is going to be a tag team match with the Russians and its clients in the Ukraine and Slavic countries on one one side versus a denuded Constantinople, Greece, Jerusalem and the numerous Greeks in North America on the other. While Constantinople depends on the Greeks in North America to fund its work. Russian doesn't have the problem, it seemingly has plenty of rubles to build new monasteries, seminaries, and churches. If the future of a unified American Church comes down to money to fund the Assembly, Moscow will laugh all the way to the bank.
#1 George Osborne on 2010-05-28 16:31
I just wanted to say that I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Osborne's assessment. It will be interesting to see how the new representative for the Moscow Patriarchate interacts with ROCOR in America. And it is a first in my lifetime to hear of a ROCOR metropolitan taking communion in an Orthodox Church on the new calendar (based on the published reports, the Divine Liturgy was held on Friday and the hierarchs partook of the sacrament -- and the Greek Archdiocese is on the new calendar, correct?).
I for one am delighted to see ROCOR part of this new process as it is incredibly overdue. There is an enormous amount of growing up that has to occur all across the Orthodox jurisdictions in America. ROCOR is not some sort of right-wing fanatical fly-by-night group as some in the OCA and the Antiochian Archdiocese might think. The OCA is a great jurisdiction but they are not the center of the American Orthodox universe and do not speak for all Orthodox Christians in America despite their autocephaly from Russia, and despite everything that many of their hierarchs may believe. The Antiochian Archdiocese is a great archdiocese except it, too, is mired in its own byzantine intrigue and can't seem to speak with any consistent voice in America (by the way, when's the audited financial report coming out?).
My big point in all of this is that it's good to see some new blood and new perspectives in all of this. For too long SCOBA has been around but not really accomplished a great deal in terms of uniting Orthodox Christians in America. Yes, they have managed to support a few worthy programs, but they have done almost nothing in terms of forging a united Orthodox Christian Church in America. So maybe it is time to shake things up and let some other people take a stab at it. I never thought in my lifetime that ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate would ever be back in eucharistic communion, and yet the Holy Spirit found a way to resolve their differences. Perhaps if new leaders from among the various jurisdictions America take the lead we might finally see a united Orthodox Church on this continent.
#1.1 Anon. on 2010-05-29 09:42
Actually, a Russian bishop did speak. Archbishop Justinian of the MP was vice-chairman, and spoke on the first day. Though, he did not mention the OCA or ROCOR at all, mostly just the MP's role in SCOBA.
#1.2 Sbdn. Anthony Stokes on 2010-05-29 10:48
Mr. Osborne, I agree with much of what you suggested. As I read through the notes and saw the photos, the one question that kept coming up in my mind was: "What of the Russian Church and the Russian Patriarch?" I somehow seriously doubt that the Church in Russia which represents tens of millions of faithful will suddenly cede authority or jurisdiction to a Greek Patriarch whose local Church represents a few thousand. While I admit the autocephaly of the OCA does present some unique challenges, and I admire the way Met. Jonah handled himself in all humility, the real question is: What will Moscow do? Decades ago the fear was that the USA would split into two competing churches, Greek vs. Everyone Else. Met. Philip blocked this move by not aligning with the OCA (and everyone else), but the risk is still very much there.
So the question remains (especially since beyond Met. Jonah's remarkable movement), and because no authority ever willingly gives up power ... "What will Moscow do?"
#1.3 Sean O'Clare on 2010-06-01 09:16
One wonders what a "denuded Constantinople" would look like?
#1.4 Morton on 2010-06-01 09:34
If those in the OCA who could, would admit the involvment of the Russian Church (Moscow) in it's problems both financial and political perhaps that would lift the veil of mystification that seems to protect this "orginazation".
#1.5 ANON on 2010-06-06 11:23
Bishop Alejo not present? Then who's this, third from the left?
He was there, but they seem to have accidentally left his name off the published list.
(Editor's note: Yes, he is in photos, but not on the list. The other Central Americans were not left off the list however. If it is an "accident" one hopes it will be quickly rectified by including his name.)
#2 A Reader on 2010-05-28 19:04
It's a mystery, I tells ya.
Not really. Clearly, the Assembly was using the 50% rule: OCA bishops are only half of a normal bishop, since they really have no say in the proceedings. Since His Grace Alejo will probably end up with the Central/South American Assembly, he is further reduced by half.
Half a bishop, like the other Mexican/Central Americans, can attend and be counted, but a quarter of a bishop? That's just crazy talk.
#2.1 Christopher on 2010-05-29 11:47
We should speak of an emerging church rather than diasora. My family is fifth generation and from western Europe. Iwould need to be dissected and sent to multiple countries.
#3 Anonymous on 2010-05-29 06:01
Yes, Bishop Alejo of Mexico did attend. He is in several photos. As Mark says, however, his name is not on the list. I pray also that this error will be corrected ASAP.
I think it is all quite silly.
#5 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-05-29 08:58
Would it have been "silly" if the bishop in question was your bishop?
#5.1 Antonio Arganda on 2010-05-29 09:42
You misread my post. I find the conference of Bishops itself to be silly.
It has established itself as interested more in political position than anything else.
Unity, in the conventional thought, is way, way overrated. If all groups of Christians strove for unity, imagine what the Walmart of Christianity would look like.
Aren't we already unified as follower's of Christ's messages?
The money spent on the trip to New York by our Bishops would have been money better spent feeding the hungry...sorry to say it, but I'm pretty sure that's what we've been taught. Nonattendance would have been disrespectful, but the greatest humility.
#5.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-06-15 07:21
Thank you, Daniel! I couldn't agree more. No waste of words. Just to the heart of the matter. It is QUITE SILLY! Just a bunch of old men - out of touch with reality - still posturing for some position and glory long gone and dead! Will these guys ever come into the 21st century?
#5.2 anon on 2010-05-31 07:40
I guess my first thought on the Assembly is at least they didn't do business in Greek! There seems to be a cautious, if not understated, notion that it may be time to get over the past and move on to dialog and self-determination, even if the script still comes from overseas.
My one great fear is that a sort of Orthodox Uniatism will eventually develop: non-Greek churches will be "attached" to Constantinople. After all, in the past the Greeks have expected to find themselves heading the whole affair.
It was a pleasant surprise to see Bishop Basil in his new role.
Maybe something good WILL come out of all of this. Let's pray for that.
#6 Reader Stephen Bradford on 2010-05-30 20:27
I have a number of important questions:
# 1) At first I was skeptical about the the accuracy of the claims that Patriarch Bartholomew asked/told Archbishop Demetrios not to invite Metropolitan Jonah and the other OCA bishops to the Episcopal Assembly, but now I have seen enough information in the media to feel relatively comfortable believing that this is true, but I would like “proof”.
Can anyone cite evidence to substantiate this?
(Editor's note: For now you will have to be content with " informed sources". No one is going to go on the record about this touchy subject.)
# 2) My understanding is that nobody was questioning the canonical status of the OCA bishops, as evidenced by the fact that they have pretty much always been in Eucharistic communion with all the other Churches & the primate of the OCA has always been a member of SCOBA, but, instead, it was the canonicity of their autocephaly that was being called into question by some. I thought that the Patriarchate of Constantinople, in refusing to recognize the OCA as an autocephalous Church, viewed it as part of the Patriarchate of Moscow similar to ROCOR.
Am I wrong about this?
(Editor's note: In essence, no. According to the EP, the OCA's interests are represented by the Russian Church of which it remains an as-yet-undetermined- part. )
# 3) If I am correct about # 2 (there was no question regarding the canonicity of the OCA bishops only the autocephaly) & if # 1 is true (Patriarch Bartholomew did indeed ask/tell Archbishop Demetrios to intentionally not invited the OCA bishops to the Episcopal Assembly) then what possible logic (I’m serious) could be behind this move given that all canonical bishops of the region were supposed to be invited?
(Editor's note: Well, how does one have canonical bishops in a church whose canonical status is controversial? On the other hand, how could the EP deny the canonical status of the OCA as they were in communion with it for 50 years during which time the Russian Church considered the OCA in schism ( 1922-1970) and, now that the Russians and OCA have reconciled for the past 40 years ( 1970-2010), the EP says they are not in communion with them? In reality such things as "canonicity" are fungible matters for the EP, and for most Churches - ask a Bulgarian in 1920.)
# 4) I have heard that Metropolitan Jonah does not have a seat on the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Assembly.
Is this true?
(Editor's note: Yes.)
# 5) The documents from the 4th Chambesy conference (posted on the SCOBA website) are not very clear (one could even say contradictory) regarding who sits on the Executive Committee, for instance:
The “Decision” document states in Section 2b):
““These Assemblies will have an Executive Committee composed of the first hierarchs of the different jurisdictions that exist on the region.”
The key word here being “jurisdiction”, which would mean that the Greek, Antiochian, Ukrainian, Carpatho-Russian, Albanian, Serbian, Romanian, Bulgarian, ROCOR, Moscow Patriarchate & OCA would each have their respective primates sitting on the Executive Committee, in a similar fashion to SCOBA.
However, the “Rules of Operation” document states in Article 3:
“The Episcopal Assembly will have an Executive Committee composed of the Primatial Bishops of each of the canonical Churches in the Region.”
The key phrase here being “canonical Churches”, which raises a number of questions…
Does Metropolitan Hilarion of the ROCOR “jurisdiction” have a seat on the Executive Committee or is ROCOR considered part of the “canonical Church” of Moscow, & if so does Archbishop Justinian hold the seat on the Executive Committee?
(Editor's note: The seat is given to Archbishop Justinian, not ROCOR.)
Do the each of primates of the various “jurisdictions” under the Patriarchate of Constantinople have seats on the Executive Committee (ex: Metropolitan Nicholas of the Carpatho-Russian diocese, Bishop Ilia of the Albanian diocese, etc.) or do all these “jurisdictions” fall under the “canonical Church” of Constantinople meaning that only Archbishop Demetrios would hold the seat on the Executive Committee?
(Editor's note: Just +Demetrios.)
I recall that Fr. Mark Arey, in an Ancient Faith Radio special entitled “Unraveling Chambesy” with Kevin Allen of The Illumined Heart podcast, stated that each “canonical Church” would have only one vote in the Episcopal Assembly. He went on to explain that all the “jurisdictions” of the Ecumenical Patriarchate would only have one collective vote, and they would have to reach an internal consensus before casting their vote. Is this still the case?
Editor's note: That concerns the Executive Committee. So the question of the OCA's vote is made irrelevant by not being on it. The matter will be finessed, in great part, one hopes, by simply having all the hierarchs invite +Jonah as a guest to every meeting. Thus the letter and spirit are both addressed in part....)
If all “jurisdictions” fall under their respective “canonical Church” with only one primate sitting on the Executive Committee then I suppose I can see the logic behind not granting Metropolitan Jonah a seat given that the OCA is not universally recognized as being autocephalous.
However, this begs the question of how the OCA bishops will cast their votes, I would assume with the Patriarchate of Moscow, which opens up another can or worms because it forces the Patriarchate of Moscow to deny the autocephaly they granted to the OCA. I suppose either Moscow or Constantinople has to compromise on the autocephaly of OCA issue.
(Editor's note: See above. The bishops cast their votes individually in the Assembly proper, so it is not an issue - not that there were votes. It operates by consensus.)
If the primate of every “jurisdiction” (except the OCA) holds a seat on the Executive Committee then this is the epitome of hypocrisy and must be rejected because granting Metropolitan Jonah a seat does not equate with the recognition of the OCA’s autocephaly any more than granting Metropolitan Nicholas of the Carpatho-Russian diocese a seat acknowledges that that “jurisdiction” is an autocephalous Church. Logic dictates that it cannot work both ways.
Does anyone know how the seats on the Executive Committee & the voting are determined because the official documents dealing with this matter are clear as mud?
#7 Christ's unprofitable servent, Seraphim on 2010-05-30 21:45
Orthodox unity in the USA--administratively--? I don't believe it is going to happen unless we all submit to the Greeks--under the EP, and that my friends is not going to happen. Moscow Patr. and the other Patr(s). aren't ready to give up the daughter parishes to an American Patr. No matter what the EP says the OCA is not going away and its independent status isn't going away. Our parishes are made up of several generations of Americans and we have had our independence officially since 1970 and unofficially since 1917/1920 era. I'm surprised they even allowed us in at the meeting. The other jurisdictions bishops aren't truly free and must defer to their Patr(s). Greek Archdiocese wants to be "head dog" and that hasn't changed since the birth of SCOBA. And now SCOBA has a "new name".
#8 anonymous on 2010-06-01 14:42
"Wolves in Sheepskins"
Nemoianu's article is a disgraced to us the Romanian or any clergy. He is not a clergy. He doesn't know the cannons of the Orthodox Church. He is paid by Archibishop Nathaniel to write that article. By the way he is not that inteligent to do it either. Someone did it for him and he just signed it. The article should not be publicided !.
He owns an appology to all the Romanian Orthodox Clergy !!!!
The OCA News should check him or others before they publish anything. It is a shame !
#9 Fr. Remus Bleahu on 2010-06-01 19:04
In as much as I am concerned, Remus Bleahu can have any opinion about yours humbly.
The few hundred articles and studies and the fourteen books I published are my business card. But one thing I would like to mention:
I never pretended to be clergy and I never regretted of not being one.
I am a lay person, a historian and writer, with established and accredited intellectual credentials.Remus Bleahu is not qualified to validate or invalidate them.
In this context I dare ask what sort of "clergy" is Remus Bleahu. In order to be an Orthodox clergyman one has to be under a canonical jurisdiction. Under whose jurisdiction is he?
#9.1 Alexandru Nemoianu on 2010-06-23 10:16
The communique states that 55 bishops attended, then lists the names of only 54. I would like to think it's a pretty simple oversight rather than any kind of Byzantine intrigue.
(Editor's note: the oversight has since been corrected.)
#10 James P. on 2010-06-03 19:56
BY REVIEWING OVER THE YEARS, "THIS GOSSIP WEBSITE" I CAN SEE WHY EVERYEONE WOULD THINK THE OCA IS FALLING APART! HOWEVER THIS IS NOT THE CASE! THE ONLY THING FALLING APART IS THIS WEBSITE! AND MARK STOKOE! TELL ME ITS NOT SO! PS GOOD LUCK IN COURT! PSS ALSO TELL YOUR FRIENDS ON THE MC GOOD LUCK IN COURT ALSO!
#11 Anonymous on 2010-06-15 08:23
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