Meyendorff, was of course, accurate in his observations. The creation of the OCA was the way to solve the problems in N. Am., but some hierarchs were too narrow-minded to see this. The concept of an indigenous, canonical, autocephalous Orthodox Church in N. Am. comprised of ALL the ethnic hierarchs sitting in sobor. Electing their own metropolitan and acting in unity. This is what SCOBA called for and Fr. Schmemann delivered. Both + Iakavos & + Philip failed to follow through and join the OCA resulting in continued disunity in N. Am. since 1970. Now, with + Bart's attempt, he will only accept unity under HIMSELF. Pope Bart - all hail!
How good to be reminded of Father Meyendorff's voice, his broad cultural references, weighty knowledge and perception. Thanks for this Mark.
Anonymous, I wonder if you aren't too cynical about the role of the EP at this moment in history. Meyendorff himself said:
"F.J.: We have much to learn... within the framework of universal ecclesial institutions, the Orthodox are very afraid when it comes to the papacy to which they react negatively with regards to any manifestation of unity or primacy, as when it comes to Constantinople. It’s a pity. It would be necessary to acquire a healthier approach.
It is evident that we need an Ecumenical Patriarch, but he must be truly ecumenical and that he knows how to accomplish this ministry of primacy. If it is a matter of an institution which remains monopolized by an ethnic group based on historical reasons because of the Turks then this is not a solution… In the past several propositions were made for the Ecumenical Patriarchate to have an international staff and that located close by would be a headquarters for a permanent committee representing the other autocephalous Churches, in a word to have installed a dynamic and permanent conciliarity; but presently this does not exist."
Patriarch Bartholomew might in fact be balancing gingerly on a tightrope we Orthodox in the West barely see. There is, of course, Turkey's desire to enter the European Union, and its lures the return of Halki and Hagia Sophia. But the recent economic crisis in Greece and surrounding territories clouds the affair.
In the meantime, ++Bartholomew made a spendid visit to Russia, where the vast church and underground hall of Christ the Saviour Moscow revealed themselves to him as the obvious locales of any future Pan-Orthodox Council.
Various sites on the 'Net and Orthodox blogdom would have it that there was a simple tradeoff: EP eased off on Ukraine in exchange for MP's looking the other way concerning the treatment of OCA's autocephaly in the New York Episcopal Council. I really don't think it can be that simple.
A week before the EP visited Moscow, the brilliant young MP Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, in charge of External Affairs, was in Italy to kick off a vast media event, the month of Russian-Italian culture exchange. His major coup as a churchman was to present a concert of Russian music--including a choral piece of his own composition--in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, before the Pope, and thousands of international dignitaries. He gave a speech, in which he underlined that the Russian Orthodox Church was ready to join forces with the Roman Catholic Church in safeguarding the Christian Culture of Europe.
Hardly anybody blinked over here. But go back to Meyendorff for a moment. How can the young theologian-composer +Hilarion Alfeyev --he is forty-something, doctorates from St Sergius, Paris, and Oxford--have presented the idea that Russia should be involved in preserving European Christian culture, unless he heard it first from the likes of Meyendorff?
Patriarch Bartholomew has a doctorate from the Pontifical Oriental Institute, which in his day was run by the Jesuits, who also ran the "Russicum", the Russian College in Rome. It is a tired cliché that when the wind blows on his exorasso, one can see the scarlet lining: that is, that the EP is a secret cardinal and working as an undercover for the Vatican.
So, who, really, was pulling the strings in New York? One thing is certain, +Metropolitan Jonah, bless him, played it very cool, very wise.
In what can only be described as either a case of mistaken identity of the present situation, and the contemporary reality, or a case of blatant self promotion, Fr. R.M. Arida has provided us with another and excellent translation of Fr. John's interview. For which we, no doubt, owe him a debt of gratitude!
But here, Fr. R.M. Arida has along with all the others, failed to grasp the reality of the moment. Fr. Arida talks about using this as an historical and theological backdrop for evaluating the EA. He speaks of a vision for future resolution, and the solving of ecclesiogical anomalies. All this, as though the EA was about sobornost, solution and salvation.
The priests of this generation and no less responsible for the death of this Church thn are these robber bishops, it is the body of clergy. For with their reliance on the science of the Church, and the the lip service they pay to the gospel, while plunging the laity deeper and deeper into a bottomless pit of monastic piety, they mock God and bring ruin to the Church, and harm to his little ones. Can anyone spell MILLSTONE? It is a shared condemnation, it is their inheritance, their gift and offering to all of us. It is what has brought us to this point, and what will bring them all to regions dark and deep.
In their myopic vision of what the Church is, and how she is to be revealed, taught and lived, they have in this small place, and at this brief moment in the expanse of time, brought about a slow suffering, painful, drip.. drip.. drip.. of poison that brings only death in its wake. If hell is the absence of God, they have delivered, or rather brought about a condition of hell in the American Church. For this broken condition, only punishment remains.
Fr. John's words are as true today as they were when spoken by him, that is not the issue, and he needs neither the approval of an Ecumenical Patriarch, an Arida or a Jonah to mark his place in history or to recommend his holiness.
The issues surrounding the EA are not what is to be, it is not about a future resolution, the life of the Church, history or theology. It is about what has been decided, about a contemporary reality, the moment of truth. The American Church has been subdivided and sold off. Lots of high priced real estate in the US belongs to foreign corporations and governments, and now the American Church does too. Had we been responsible stewards of the gift, this day might not have come. These clergy squandered and plundered the gift, played with souls and played church with their funny vestments and their silly icons, all the trappings that they failed to breath life into, to save souls and love God through their love of his people.
Those still practicing the true believer-ism of the 80's are done for, and glory be to God for that. They brought us nothing worth saving. The bishops of the old world have seen this and have intervened for the sake of the global Church, and for the salvation-future of God's people.
His All Holiness, is who he is, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and no rant, no bitching, no theological or historical explanations or vision will change that. Like you cannot unmake Christ, the EP is the EP. Some consideration to that fact must be made, and we must presuppose that he is a man of wisdom and prayer and that in him, God reposes trust for his historical see and his position as the first among equals. The will and conclusions that he and the other Patriarchs have arrived at, must be seen in the light of their responsible stewardship, authority and administrative ministries and talents. Maybe our country has brought about a plainer speaking, bolder and more conciliar version of the Church, but for THAT to become THE CHURCH here, is a process that may take several more centuries to become an organic and spirit-tried reality. Until that time, when I will long be dust, I am content now, to rely on my betters, the bishops, and not the fools, bums, idiots, and devils we have cloned here. I will rely on bishops of the historical Churches, and if, they too are frauds, then God will burn them, and raise the Church up again at another time and in another place.
Dear "no name:" Please NEVER forget what happened at the Council of Florence. The Pat. of Constantinople got all the Orthodox bishops & patriarchs to sign this union, except one. + Isidore (a Constantinople flunky sent to Kiev/Rus) was thrown out by the people upon his return. The people of Kiev/Rus rejected this "False Union" and thus was the beginning of Kiev/Rus proclaiming itself "autocephalous." In reality, the Kiev/Rus were the ONLY ones who preserved Orthodoxy and the idea of the "Third Rome" was appropriate. What the Pat. of Istanbul now proposes with his flunky bishops is the "UNITY" of Orthodoxy, but only under himself - Papism. The Russian Church must reject these machinations or it too will fall into "ecclesiastic heresy." The only autocephalous church then left not to enter such heresy would be the OCA - "Fourth Rome."
It was not an ecumenical council that designated the the Patriarchate of Constantinople as the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It was the Patriarchate herself who did so--like Napoleon crowning himself.
You may wish to follow suit but no Orthodox Christian has the same obligation to oblige this patriarchate whose legal name is "Fener Rum Patriarhanesi" or the Phanar Roman Patriarchate. The reason I bring this up is to highlight the fact that most of Constantinople's power has been derived from her association with the Roman and Ottoman Empires. The association with the Romans goes back to Saint Constantine the Great. Her association with the Turks goes back to that day in 1453 when the conquering Sultan Mehmed II himself vested Georgios Kourtesios Scholarios as the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Millet Bashi (or Etnarch) of all non-Armenian Christians in the Muslin Ottoman Empire.
After 1453, the Patriarch of Constantinople indeed became the quasi-Pope over the Christians and Christian Churches under the Ottoman yoke, to include the venerable Churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and Cyprus. Like the Roman Pontiff who ruled over the Western Roman Empire, the Patriarch of Constantinople had both secular and religious powers in the East. Therefore, I understand why this see sees Herself as some having some sort kind of ecumenical jurisdiction. However, the Ottoman Empire ended after WWI; the Patriarchate of Antioch has liberated herself from Greek rule; Constantinople's sway over the Orthodox world has been cut drastically and she leads only Greek-led and Greek speaking mostly tiny churches. Therefore, I do not think that Constantinople has any kind of justification to maintain the charade any longer; she should be satisfied by the esteem everybody gives her as the First among Equals in Orthodox Christianity.
What people must understand, is that Fr. Meyendorff was your quintessential Byzantine politician. He didn't compromise his principals nor positions, but he knew what to say when and when not to say anything. This is why the Greeks loved him, yet he could tell them, the OCA's autocephaly was canonical and proper - in their own language. He could discuss with all the Greek bishops their own theology, policies & politics and yet, he could also tell them where they were wrong. He knew the problem was the Phanar. Hubris, hubris & more hubris!
I wish somebody could translate the beautifull article fr Alexander Schmemann wrote on the role of the ecumenical patriarch back in the 1940's. It was recently translated in the Messager Orthodoxie (N°148: http://www.acer-mjo.org/html/acer.html).