Wednesday, July 7. 2010
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I just emailed the site to commend this draft effort, particularly the effort to shore up our duty to evangelize that we have here in America.
It is so important to get our missions on the right foot, stable, growing, and functioning with as much support and planning as possible.
I liked what they have in mind in the draft for this area of Evangelization, and wrote them with a few impressions from our own journey this way, to help motivate them to truly develop this area of church involvement.
#1 Patty Schellbach on 2010-07-08 07:55
This may be the best document ever produced by ANY of the American jurisdictions. It's something that every Orthodox Christian on this continent ought to read...and it's what the next Episcopal Assembly should be all about.
My congratulations to the authors...very nice piece of work!
We are looking to the future while the Greeks are talking about adopting English in the liturgy. Nothing could contrast the two jurisdictions more than this document.
#2 Dean Calvert on 2010-07-08 20:28
1. I am troubled by the extent to which "The Metropolitan" has influenced this report. I'm not surprised however, since based on OCA.org's reporting, "The Metropolitan" has been singularly influential in shaping the Strategic Planning process.
Reading all the news on OCA.org about how Met. Jonah blesses this committee's creation, or how Met. Jonah appointed so-and-so to do such-and-such, or how Met. Jonah endorses the work of this group and that initiative... I am given pause.
No one would deny that "The Metropolitan" and "The Office of the Metropolitan" have the single greatest influence on the OCA. They set the tone. But why?
Isn't the Metropolitan simply "first among equals?" The charisma of his role as figurehead seems to become so strong that people might willingly (inaccurately) describe him as the "Leader" of the Orthodox Church in America.
Isn't the leader of the OCA the Holy Synod? (This may be not be true, since so often OCA.org says that Jonah "leads" the Synod and its bishops.)
Of course, the Strategic Plan document is mushy on this issue. It really doesn't spell out the Metropolitan's role, except for some disturbing declaration that, just as the Bishop is to his diocese, so to is the Metropolitan to the Synod. (Can we get some explanations and/or bibliographic references for where this crazy idea is coming from?)
Only until the discussion of the "Office of the Metropolitan" is the Metropolitan given real teeth. Here, it is suggested that he has direct and singular control over all of the OCA's departments, missions, and ministries. (Really? Shouldn't the Chancellor, Treasurer, Department of Education, etc., all be reporting directly to the MC or Holy Synod?)
Maybe I am being unreasonable? At first glance, it all seems so mundane - this sort of Metropolitan sycophancy, always seeking his blessing, ideas, and approval. But I wonder if it betrays a more unhealthy ideology, perhaps even a corruption of episcopal ecclesiology. I doubt it's as mundane as it seems.
I had thought Jonah's tenure would cause a dissolution of the Imperial Metropolitanate. Instead, the only time we hear of "humility" and the "Metropolitan," it's in reference to Jonah's silence in the face of that charade known as the Episcopal Assembly. The one time we really did need a strong, central figure to stand up for the OCA, and what does Jonah do? He stands down.
2. Aside from that, I think the section pertaining to the All American Council needs a lot of thought. If the Commission is going to float the idea of dissolving the "highest administrative and legislative body" in the OCA, they're going to need a better rationale than "cost" and "distance of travel." Replacing the AAC with a glorified Metropolitan Council simply will not do.
3. Finally, my deepest respect goes to whomever wrote the "Weaknesses" and "Threats" sections. Wow, I don't think anyone in the OCA has officially admitted this sort of stuff before.
Sadly, I wonder if these admissions will be rejected by the rest of the OCA. I know that here, in my diocese of NY&NJ, these weaknesses and threats (esp. fundamentalism) are endemic. However, our new bishop recently decided to keep our diocese's troubled leadership in place, and, at the same time asked anyone with 'misgivings about the past' to 'put them aside as we move into a new era.' This is certainly symptomatic of denial.
I'm still waiting for someone to step in and do what's right for the Church. I'm not convinced our central administration is doing it, and I'm not convinced our diocesan administration is doing it, either. All of this nonsense has too much to do with personalities and not enough to do with Truth.
PS. Any news on the OCA website overhaul? Is it ever going to happen?
(Editor's note: Excellent points. And as for the website, well, we live in hope....)
#3 Nilus on 2010-07-08 20:30
I would just like to echo Nilus' remarks and a few other observations.
While I commend the idea of noting the weaknesses, I believe that it would be extremely helpful to everyone if the committe could also explain how this document differs from the current system.
One of the most fundamental issues which Nilus touches upon is the role of the Metropolitan and the role of the Central Administration. At the last AAC, I spoke with some hierarchs who expressed the idea that each representative should represent their diocese not their individual parishes. So is the church one united Archdiocese or is it a collection of affiliated dioceses? I believe that most of the hierarchs in the OCA see their diocese as pretty much the be all and end all. They really have no use for almost anything centralized except to be part of something larger when it's convenient. This is enormously short-sighted.
Along with finance and management training, there needs to be some education on what constitutes or what will constitute an archdiocese in the 21st century. I understand and I'm sure most people in the OCA understand that the historical structure of the church for hundreds of years was the idea that the diocese was pretty much a world unto itself regulated by either a metropolitan or an archbishop. However, maybe this model just doesn't work any more and needs to be modified to fit the ever-changing world that we live in.
I personally believe that most of the hierarchs see their diocese as the beginning and the end. They are obliged to meet together with other hierarchs a few times a year, but for the most part they are going to fly home and take care of "their diocese." This is good to a point but it has some very serious flaws. What happens when hierarchs go bad? Who is supposed to clean up the mess? If one significant diocese decides not to support a particular seminary, everyone suffers. If one diocese has significant financial trouble how are they to receive any support. And what about the legal ramifications of one diocese doing something that could potentially hurt all of the other dioceses?
To use an analogy from the secular world, almost no large law firm or accounting firm would ever consider not standardizing everything across the United States or other countries that they do business in. While there may be some slight local variations, almost everything is done the same. Every form is the same, every application is the same, every process is the same. It is a tried a true method that works.
Nobody asked me but in my opinion, the OCA needs to seriously consider throwing out the diocesan structure and build a vision of the church where Christ is the head, but below this head is a group of hierarchs that is answerable to a synod and to a board, and the chair of the worldly board is the Metropolitan. Each hierarch is responsbile and accountable for specific goals and objectives enumerated by the Holy Synod and the board each year, not just asked to give an annual report on their diocese. And if the hierarch can not reasonably achieve these goals, the church must find someone else. In life there is accountability and responsibility. We are accountable to God for our actions and our talents. In work, we are accountable to employers and customers. But in the church, it is possible to skip over the accountability almost completely. If a hierarch simply does parish visitations they can be really busy, but are they really developing or managing their respective diocese? And if they are working exclusively on their diocese an not supporting anything on an archdiocesan level, aren't they also hurting the church? And if we're honest, isn't this exactly what has happened to at least a couple of the OCA's dioceses over the past few years? And what could you do because, hey, they didn't really do anything egregious and they didn't teach something that was heretical. This sort of impregnable wall of "unless you commit a heresy you're safe until you die" stuff has to go.
Just one person's thoughts.
#3.1 Anon. on 2010-07-09 18:43
The great thing about the Church, is that while a Hierarch may bless, nothing really happens unless the People "DO". These go together.
I doubt these ideas are those of Metropolitan Jonah alone. However there are some people who seek and await affirmation from a figure such as His Beatitude, and having sensed it, will then be motivated to do what they weren't sure they had permission to do. Like it or not, that's just reality among humans.
A plan is just a set of ideas put on paper. The plan will be a success if those who would be leaders actually manage to motivate and lead, and those who would be followers find value in the leaders' plan and follow.
The importance of the "bond between clergy and laity" cannot be overlooked. Unfortunately, some people all too much make their parish priest the criterion of devotion to the Church. If they like the priest, they're interested. If they don't like the priest, they come get their doughnut and coffee, say hi to some friends, and leave, not participating in any sacraments. Right or wrong, that is the way many people seem to go about their "relationship with God."
Overall I think the Strategic Plan is a great start. We need to execute.
Remembering that we are a family of people, many of who are hurting quite badly, let us pray that GOD will bless us and sustain us to "Rededicate ourselves to 'The Gospel Vision'".
If we genuinely rededicated ourselves like that -- a healthy and vibrant Church anticipating the Lord's return and longing for the Life of the World to come -- the growth of the Church would be unstoppable.
Grant this, O Lord!
Rdr. Alexander Langley
#3.2 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2010-07-10 05:14
I am so sorry that the past weighs so heavily on your mind. May I address your objections/reservations in reverse order?
Your Point 3. "Sadly, I wonder if these admissions will be rejected by the rest of the OCA. I know that here, in my diocese of NY&NJ, these weaknesses and threats (esp. fundamentalism) are endemic. However, our new bishop recently decided to keep our diocese's troubled leadership in place, and, at the same time asked anyone with 'misgivings about the past' to 'put them aside as we move into a new era.' This is certainly symptomatic of denial."
Me: It is a very good (wise) idea for your new bishop not have barged in like a bull in a china shop. How long has it been since he was enthroned--was it not May 12th of this year? Give the man some slack for heaven's sake!
Your Point 2: "..the section pertaining to the All American Council needs a lot of thought. If the Commission is going to float the idea of dissolving the "highest administrative and legislative body" in the OCA, they're going to need a better rationale than "cost" and "distance of travel." Replacing the AAC with a glorified Metropolitan Council simply will not do."
Me: What makes you or anybody else think that All American Councils are the best vehicles for administrating and legislating for the OCA? I am puzzled because, in my experience, the larger a conference is, the fewer are the opportunities for deliberation; such national conferences are merely a vehicle for information dissemination and social relationships (before, in between and after the official sessions).
Now, I am all for a conciliar approach to Church governance; I just do not think that the All American Council is anything more than of a symbolic gesture. I do think that conciliarity should "bubble up" from parish to deanery to diocese and finally to the AAC. That means that all basic governance (that is policy formulation) regarding the national church should involve all levels and all people. The Strategic Plan is an example of a basic policy development that started with the Metropolitan's vision, and is ongoing based on a working draft developed by a committee that is conciliar in composition. For us to comment on such a plan, it was important to look at a draft--there is no way that such a plan could have been formed from the bottoms up.
Finally, the culture of conciliarity depends on the active involvement at the parish and diocesan levels--much more than at the national level. If the laity is not involved and contributing to the various ministries of the church, there is no way that the laity will be taken seriously by their priests or bishops. Similarly, if our priests and deacons are not involved in the life of the parish beyond the Divine Services, why should any bishop take them into account? I think that this is reflects human nature. In any case, the description of an ontologically complete church by Saint Ignatius of Antioch and Apostolic Canon 34 are the basis for Church governance.
Your Point 1: ...I had thought Jonah's tenure would cause a dissolution of the Imperial Metropolitanate. Instead, the only time we hear of "humility" and the "Metropolitan," it's in reference to Jonah's silence in the face of that charade known as the Episcopal Assembly. The one time we really did need a strong, central figure to stand up for the OCA, and what does Jonah do? He stands down.
Me: To address your departing shot, I think that his display of humility at the EA (just like Archbishop Job's prostration at the feet of Bishop Nikolai) actually enabled Metropolitan Jonah to stand up for the OCA in a strategic sense. You are correct only that in a tactical sense, he seemed to have backed down. Look, if the EA results in an American Autocephalous Church, it really does not matter if it is called the OCA or not. If the Ea is but a vehicle for Constantinople to push her ridiculous ecumenical claims (think Canon 28 and Roman-like "primacy"), the OCA would still continue to exist. Ether case, it s critical that we accomplish the Great Commission. Let the North American people vote with their feet and wallets and we shall eventually see which jurisdiction is favored by the Holy Spirit.
Regarding the role of the Metropolitan (and with conciliarity in general), the main problem is with the OCA Statutes, which employ various smoker and mirrors devices to conceal an autocratic or monarchic episcopal governance that is absolutely unchecked by a third party. On the other hand, Apostolic Canon 34 does point to a leader in a regional church: it is the Metropolitan. In the old days of Caesars and Tsars, the laity in their persons acted as the third party, to check and contain abuses, etc. In the United States, we do not have a governmental role so we are left with a void. The concept of sobornost, at least in my mind, expands episcopal conciliarity to include priests, deacons and laity. Great concept that is not really put into effect in the OCA statutes. Nonetheless, I do not think that Metropolitan Jonah is in any way acting other than the face and voice of the OCA on the national leader. The fact that the national internet organs or organizations concentrate on him should not be a surprise; I would expect diocesan organizations and organs to do the same for their diocesan bishops.
#3.3 Carl Kraeff on 2010-07-12 13:27
Having been in Russia for the past couple of weeks, I am late to this important discussion. Nevertheless, here are my observations.
I don't believe anyone has really refuted any of Nilus's points--all of which I agree with, while acknowledging the failure of the AAC to adequately fulfill its mission in the past. But is the solution less conciliarity? Because make no mistake, that is what the agenda is, where concilairity is defined as a process only for the clergy--and the episcopal clergy at that. I mean really, the desire to bury the legacy of Alexander Schmemann and restore the imperial episcopate, either at the diocesan or national level, is truly breathtaking.
I can't see into Metropolitan Jonah's heart or mind, but by his words and deeds he is a worthy successor to the warped ecclessiolgy of his immediate predecessor and most of our bishops. Of course, with perfect hindsight, we can see that that is why he was so readily approved by them.
The bishops, by in large, having freed themselves from the authority and check of any imperial authority are determined to preserve their unfettered authority, whatever the cost--which is truly a Faustian deal with the devil. It will ultimately fail, both here and in Russia, but at great damage to the Church, which they sworn to serve and protect.
As others on this thread, and previous ones as well, have said--the Church can hardly thrive and move forward without the active support of the laity. The laity in the modern era will not sit still for a purely responsive and passive role. Nor should it.
I would not want to answer to the Lord as a hierarch more concerned about my personal authority and status, than the health of the Church. Absent the Lord's virtually unlimited mercy and forgiveness, such a stance should surely earn the offender a first class ticket, all expenses paid, to hell.
#3.3.1 Anonymous on 2010-07-26 09:53
If they are overhauling the oca website, I hope they are going to provide a template for parishes to use to build a simple, effective, clean, and nice looking web site "out of the box". Some of the parish web sites are really just awful - no offense intended, since it's ridiculous to think that many small and mission parishes are going to have web design experts available or be able to afford professionals.
But web sites are a primary tool of evangelism. One priest I spoke with mentioned that is how 90% of visitors find his parish (though this may mean other outreach approaches are needed, I suspect this is true of most OCA parishes).
#3.4 Greg on 2010-07-16 10:09
Dear Nilus: If Jonah weren't doing anything to lead would you complain about that?
#3.5 Michael Strelka on 2010-07-18 05:02
I'm glad for you, Michael, that your expectations of Church leadership are so low.
Maybe some day you will realize that the people you chronically criticize as 'chronic complainers' actually care deeply about the Church and want to see it run the right way.
#3.5.1 Nilus on 2010-07-24 15:06
If you investigate deep into the backgrounds of some of the committee members, some of you questions will be answered fully.
#3.6 deep ambo on 2010-07-18 18:26
I thought the following was pertinent to the well-intentioned efforts of the Strategic Planning committee:
"...bearing to mind the problems with which our Church is confronted in its entirety and especially the local Church which I am called to shepherd. How [shall we solve this?] In the name of Christ. With Christ as the model. Imitating Christ."
Bishop Meletios [of Nikopolis and Preveza, Greece (under the Ecumenical Patriarchate)] conveyed his most deep-seated principle: health and salvation will come only through individual devotion to and imitation of Christ himself. He would offer no strategic plan or clever campaign, only Christ and the pledge to follow him personally.
...[Restoration] would not be achieved by [Bishop Meletios] alone but only through collective struggle. He described this struggle in stark military terms... By using war imagery, Bishop Meletios transmitted in clear terms the urgency with which he perceived the situation. He called for... a collective spiritual war waged upon each person's own internal battlefields so as to transform the character of the Church by all, for all. By each person urgently transforming him- or herself based on the model of Christ, the collective body of Christ - the Church - would be transformed....
Bishop Meletios outlined no new programs; rather, he reiterated the basic Christian life. He offered no grandiose promises; rather, he promised future struggles and persecution....
Bishop Meletios disappointed all those who wanted a strategic plan laid out in his first years. In fact, he has deliberately avoided applying any boilerplate solutions, saying that he tries to carry out his mission "peacefully, without calculation, without plans, without programs." For Meletios, strategic plans are human-derived attempts to solve problems. But "the Church is not of man. The Church is of God. And whenever God is present, the human element ought to be extinguished. When it is not only not destroyed but also validated, the Church does not go well. Anthropocentrism kills the Church and its life."
Not surprisingly, then, Bishop Meletios promises that he never had a "program" for Preveza. Nevertheless, with hindsight, we can deconstruct how Preveza was transformed; we can identify goals toward which Meletios steered the institution of the Church; we can identify concrete actions that were taken; at times, we can even note which activities seem to have the most impact. However, in doing so, we are artificially reverse engineering a "program" that never existed in the first place.
While some actions of the bishop undoubtedly worked toward multiple ends, his actions can be grouped into five goals:
1. Restore the spiritual integrity and authority of the clergy;
2. Restore the Church experience to its spiritual, traditional, and aesthetic glory;
3. Construct forums for the Church to interact with the people;
4. (Re)educate the people;
5. Develop monasticism in the region.
- In Beauty for Ashes: The Spiritual Transformation of a Modern Greek Community (Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 2009) by Stephen R. Lloyd-Moffett, pp. 66-7, 68-9, 70, 75.
#4 orrologion on 2010-07-12 11:07
On the other hand, St. Basil the Great not only planned but schemed to restore the Church of his own place and time. And Meletios goes way too far when he says that "whenever God is present, the human element ought to be extinguished." God was present in the Incarnation, and the human element was not extinguished.
What's needed is for the human element to actually do the work of God, and that sometimes requires leadership, a large part of which is letting people know where they are being led. That's the purpose of a plan.
#4.1 Dn. Brian Patrick Mitchell on 2010-07-27 06:44
Just in case any of the gang in Englewood is still monitoring this website I have cut and pasted the following quote from the document. Can one of you lieutenants pass this radical, as in canonical idea along to His Eminence?
Metropolitan’s leadership arises through building consensus, the Metropolitan cannot act alone. As stated in Apostolic Canon 34: "The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and count him as their head and do nothing of consequence without his consent; but each may do those things only which concern his own ‘parish’ and the country places which belong to it. But neither let him (who is the first) do anything without the consent of all; for so there will be unanimity and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.” As a bishop sacramentally personifies his diocese, so also does the Metropolitan personify the Synod, personifying it and speaking for it as one Body.
The Metropolitan may only intervene in the affairs of another diocese when there is a canonical issue, and then does so with the consensus of the Synod. Should the canonical issue be within the Metropolitan’s own diocese, it becomes the responsibility of the Holy Synod to intervene. The Metropolitan cannot, on his own, indebt the Church, but can only do so in concert with the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council.
#5 Kevin Kirwan on 2010-07-13 09:43
I'll try this again and hopefully avoid the back button. !@@!!?
I tried to follow the slideshow and it was a bit tough. I don't like the notion of a 'culture of religious nominalness'. This sounds like a monastic who hasn't got the foggiest clue about all the reasons people don't get to church, nor all the competing Christianity light style churches that accept people far faster than the Orthodox church. This is my disclaimer as I haven't been to church in a long time. The church is a place of personal sanctuary for me, not needing her for me isn't a terrible problem at this juncture. For those that would berate or speak ill of me for speaking on the strategic plan, I can only say the prior thieves that mishandled millions went to services regularly...please keep that in mind before you comment about my place in the OCA.
The first 11 pages are definitions and I'd be foolish to comment on any of them.
Page 12 - stewardship point missed stewardship to missions...Lutherans often pack up a number of their members and move them to a new church as a means of stewardship...not suggesting we do that, but stewardship to missions is vital to 'reaching out to others' and I've often wondered why the Orthodox church is so single parish centered..it would be good to ask establishes parishes to adopt or accept a foster mission, if you will. Rather than considering this the politically charged line 'redistribution of wealth', it is really only based on the wherewithall concept. ....This was actually corrected on page 15 in courses of action, not in the SWOT.
Page 12 - I have not witnessed the lack of leadership at all levels and have found nearly all the MEOCCA clergy to be a like minded group with a unified vision. I think the leadership vacuum happened with the bishops, and the council, and the chancery. To suggest our MEOCCA priests haven't done a good job I think is quite unfair and baseless. Examples would be needed for me to agree entirely, or perhaps MEOCCA is a shining example of unified clergy? What do I know? I call it like I see it.
Page 12 - The All American councils presented some of the unified vision; omission of things like the 10th AAC by leadership at the highest levels in speeches and letters, for example, is certainly a concern for me.
Page 13 - Recognizing the internet as an asset is really wise and I commend the persons who wrote it as an opportunity.
Page 13 - Considering a 'secular' culture as a threat oversimplifies things. There are many reasons for why I participate to a different degree as another person in the church and my participation today may be different than my participation in the future. Is the secular culture a threat or does the church need to recognize the world has changed and there are a few things that must change as well? For example, what calendar should be followed is not necessarily the loss of the churches authenticity.. And when my 11 year old doesn't understand the churches Litany or a sermon because "I don't know what they are saying"...don't credit his Xbox or baseball or sledding or a sleepover.
Page 16 - Again with the youth - it starts at home, get me materials (can be on the net) I can give my kids to read that are OCA approved reading for children for certain ages.
Page 17 - I think a united, autocephalous church of North America has risks that might outweight the benefits. I can't be the only fool that thinks this... I'd like to better understand why this is part of the churches strategic goal when I've never even seen anyone discuss the downside risks of such a notion versus any upside. I'd like to understand what it means and what the end would look like before I'd think it wise. A thousand splinters of Christianity might be better than one big stick of it.
Page 18 - One of the best teachings I ever got about human sexuality was from a church AAC or diocesan council q@a session... The person asked a loaded question and the answer was beautiful. I agree making this information more available to young people is critical. I searched the internet for this information and was not able to find it in a simple google search, for example.
Page 18 - A slam on Metropolitan Jonah is due. Metropolitan Jonah did not speak out in the recent health care debate and reiterate the pronouncements of the 10th AAC that clearly state healthcare should be available to everyone regardless of financial status. I guess he might have alienated a few of his friends in Washington. If the Orthodox standard was for me to take it up with him personally, I did not. I would hope the AACs are guidance in some of these matters, but I did not see the past AACs mentioned in the strategic plan and I found that to be a gross omission. The past AACs must be included in the strategic plan.
And finally, one other comment. I originally thought a strategic plan would help the church define a path for its leaders. So, if someone was taking lot of trips to Moscow, for example, someone else could say, how does this fit the strategic plan? A strategic plan is something leaders must be able to fall back on and to say, this effort meets the plan, or this effort fails to meet our strategic plan. And the plan can also help prioritize things...like getting reading materials to children is more important than trips to Moscow, for example. I'm not sure I saw where the plan would help leaders determine priorities. In the past administration, priorities, arguably, were off.
If we needed to improve our relationship with the EP or other Metropolitans/Patriarchs, for example (a controversial one, I'm sure), then that sort of thing would be in the plan. I'm not sure I saw anything like this in the plan, but perhaps I missed it. The plan must be the backbone for how decisions are made. I know people will say the Gospel is the backbone, but this is entirely unfair in the context of deciding how we will approach such a subject as the EP unless someone can show a fool like me where it is written.
...my thoughts with only good intentions, even the political jab at the Metropolitan...
#6 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-07-19 21:30
A few points of clarification on a week later reread.
1. The church needs to recognize people may need to participate in church in varying degrees and accept that fact to a greater degree. Rather than chastising someone for allowing secular life to interfere with church life; dealing with realities is probably a far wiser approach. The prior administration tried to fight the internet; anyone see where that went? Accepting the internet as a realitiy, just like accepting secular interference as real isn't giving up or giving in to something; it is just accepting reality. The church can tighten up and reject me for missing church for kids baseball games, vacations with grandparents, class reunions, family vacations, etc, for example, but is that going to get me to stop all of these for Sunday church instead? I doubt it. Giving me the best means to participate as much as possible is a far better approach.
#6.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-07-25 14:01
One thing jumped out immediately to me:
Add me to the list of folk appreciating the posting of this! I have a couple observations I hope are helpful as I've been hopeful about the OCA for a couple of decades now, though I'm in the GOA.
The ‘Holy Synod’ can be so called, according to the document, only if the Metropolitan is present. Little though people know it, even at the Ecumenical Patriarchate the Holy Synod trumps the Patriarch should they so choose. Certainly if half the bishops plus one meet, whether the Metropolitan is present or not, they should be able to deem their meeting a meeting of the holy synod. Nobody has or will ever credit a serious institution exists where the person the synod wants to remove has to agree to be present before they can remove him. If the synod comes across as subordinate to the primate even to the point of the many not being able to get together to take decisions because one of them can’t or won’t come?? Plainly that will leave the OCA right back to square 1 and might as well go home now
The belief that the spiritual fruit of an ascetic life of all the faithful contributes to the building up of life in the Church.
Then following there is: The belief that monasticism is an integral part of the life of the Church.
This allows the inference that monastics are not ascetics, as they appear to need their own statement of existence by legalistic fiat, without life lived qualification the foregoing. Is this so the other categories of life get the idea they ought to get used to the idea of paying for ‘monastics’ ‘just because’? They are not to work for themselves?
Otherwise, why is there not also a line having to do with justifying the existence of married people? Unmarried non-monastics? What?
weaknesses’ and ‘opportunities’ both have a place for the following paired entries.
‘weaknesses’: As the past twenty or so years have shown: No viable, understood process leading to mechanism for timely correction should any of the foregoing calls in this document be ignored be ignored by those with the administrative power so to do, such as to love, consensus, actual (not merely administrative) relationship, good personal and pastoral judgment, and so forth. Without such mechanism this document becomes aspirational PR fundraising fakery and not actually meaningful.
‘opportunities’: The process including the creation of this document is an opportunity to correct the foregoing weakness that has brought OCA's tremendous inheritance to this difficult period.
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