Thursday, September 2. 2010
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Now, this document would be a great example of a Grey Demon.
#1 Steve Knowlton on 2010-09-02 15:00
Why does it read like he is trying to force a square peg in a round hole?
#2 Carl Kraeff on 2010-09-02 16:16
Maybe because he's trying to force a square peg into a round hole?
#2.1 Steve on 2010-09-03 09:40
beautiful and well written.....thank God for the Holy Synod decision to return north american bishops to auxilliaries!!!
#3 Anonymous on 2010-09-03 08:45
Dear Anonymous--I am sure that this report is indeed "beautifully written" in some folks' eyes. To me, on the other hand, this report is a perfect example of gibberish masquerading as analysis. On the one hand, it misrepresents the role of a bishop in the Antiochian Patriarchate by describing a relatively late understanding/use of the episcopacy as the historical norm and advancing as a precedent what was desired by Metropolitan Philip and others to be the norm. In other words, one could say that this report is fundamentally dishonest. On the other hand, it vacillates like a yo-yo between the powers of a Metropolitan of an archdiocese that is composed of several dioceses and the powers of the diocesan bishop--whatever one wishes to call one. Again, this misleading approach could be called dishonest. Bottom line: This report certainly does not inspire confidence in the ability of foreign Synods, particularly Antioch, to act with integrity and fidelity to Orthodoxy. Furthermore, anyone reading this document after reading your comments would wonder if you are a planted cheering section that mindlessly congratulates the emperor-with-no-cloths on his wonderful attire.
#3.1 Carl Kraeff on 2010-09-08 07:51
Perhaps the only model the Old Country can work with is decay and decline.
The Church in the Old World is dieing out.
The Hierarchs there have no frame of reference for a Church that is free to evangelize and experiences conversions.
The old country lives off the donations of properties and revenue from its produce. They have no frame of reference for a church that is alive and has members who actually TITHE.
Perhaps MP was correct when he stated when can look to the Old World to solve our problems here.
We must push forward and support the stablishment of a united Orthodox Church here.
The OCA already has its autocephaly, why wait for the Old World to give permission that will never come.
Historically, almost every Autocephalous Church TOOK their Autocephaly and was recognized late.
Perhaps it is time to simply walk away the ethnic ghettos and embrace an unfettered autocephalous church that does not need their validation.
Lets go the air is clean and fresh. Come ye out from among them and be ye separate.
#4 anonymous antiochian clergyman on 2010-09-03 10:07
clear and to the point. commemmoration of the metropolitan is the only name that should be mentioned. very well said indeed.
#5 Anonymous on 2010-09-03 10:13
Re-read this, please. That is not what it says.
4. The bishops commemorate the leadership of the metropolitan in the divine services. When he is present with them they commemorate his name, then the priests commemorate the bishop of the diocese [usqufiyya].
5. In cases where the bishop is serving by himself within his diocese, the priests commemorate his name alone, but in the rest of the parishes the name of the metropolitan is commemorated, followed by that of the bishop (for our father and metropolitan ….. and of our bishop… let us pray to the Lord).
#5.1 Anonymous on 2010-09-03 14:33
It is obvious why the synod reduced the bishops to auxilliaries because this report and study demonstrates the need for this in our archdiocese. Given it's historical importance, the synod made the correct choice.
#6 Anonymous on 2010-09-03 10:54
Thankyou Met. Basil for your inspiring and profound presentation. Kudo's also to your ghost writer.. wink.. wink a certain other Metropolitan who shall remain unnamed.
As fine a piece of payoff based theological research to come down the pike as I have ever seen.
Say how can you tell if the faithful of the AOC are about to really get shafted?...Metropolitan Philip purchases a plane ticket to Damascus.
Hold on, that's just wrong. What could I be thinking? I take it back. That is completely untrue. We purchase the plane ticket for him to go to Damascus to pick up said shaft.
#7 Kevin Kirwan on 2010-09-03 11:55
First I think Metropolitan BASIL doccument is well research and make valid points, which is why the Holy Synod acted the way it did.
To clarify for everyone, Last May I went to Lebanon and Syria. What I notice is the people living the Orthodox faith in their daily life. The two Sudnays I was there the Churches was pack.
I disagree respectfully the the Church is not free to minister over there, that is false - In Lebanon the Church si free to do what's its want and in syria the PResident support the Church in its ministry and in fact visits some of the Patriarchal monasteries and visit the Children in their orphages.
One thing most converts to the ORthodox faith lack is understanding of the ORthodox faith in their heart - they accept the ORthodox faith dogmaticially but do not understand ORthodox Ethos; I did not truely understand this until I visited Lebanon and Syria.
In clossing a great deal of comments have been posted either in favor or agaisnstt he Holy Synod ruling, maybe we should all wait and see a) What practual Changes will occur now our Bishops are Auxilary Bishops? and/or Letter from Metropolitan PHILIP explaining its impact, and b) the Manual for Diocean bishops - under the Chairmanship of Bishop JOSEPH
#8 Life long Antiochian for the Diocese of Los Angeles on 2010-09-03 13:10
Your thinking is not compatibloe with REALITY. Our Bishops were hoodwinked causing them to be put CEREMONIAL. Bp Joseph doesn't care playing the dbl faced byzantine eagle part and waiting in the wings! Orthodoxy in America only as an independent Church free ogf the long known machinations of those who rarely visit us from Damascus! Perhaps we as Americans should reuni9te with England? Why not? Our "Mother" no! Many will not trust Bishop Joseph as he was sent to us and not elected by the clergy/laity as prescribed.
#8.1 Anonymous W. Region Priest on 2010-09-03 16:33
Anonymous Western Region Priest
I find your comments not 100% correct, when Bishop JOSEPH was sent to are Archdiocese 19 years ago we did not have trhe current constitution we have now. Back then the Hoyl SSynod elected our bishops and could select one of our nominees or elect one of their choice. If you chose not to 'trust' one of our Bishops then nothing I say will matter - Your comments show lack of respect for your Bishop; if you feel that way why wont you sign your name or tell bishop JOSEPH this to his face!
Regarding reuniting to England rather than being untied to Damacus, ?I am loyal to damacus not because I am an Arab-American, but rather as a member of aOCA our PAtriarch and Holy Synod is in damacus and we must eb obedient to our PAtriarchl; if one day that change then I will eb loyal tot hat PAtriarch! Remember Acts 11:@6!
Vist LEbanon and syria and see how our Brothers and Sister live and practice their faith int heir daily life.
I think int he past 19 years Bishop JOSEPH have earned opur respect by being not just a Bishop but a fatehr as well.
#8.1.1 Anonymous on 2010-09-05 17:06
Dear Life Long Antiochian from the West Coast,
We're not waiting for our Bishops to handle anything. MP has been very successful at dividing all of them. Take a close look at the 3 or maybe 4 sides of 7 Bishops:
Side 1: MP and Bishop Antoun (MP is against us, and BA just follows suit - they both want what's best for them, and they care nothing for us.
Side 2: Bishop BASIL, Bishop ALEXANDER and Bishop MARK ( these three stand up without fear - they know what is best for all of us, and they are willing to risk their futures to do so)
Side 3 and maybe 4: Bishop JOSEPH and Bishop THOMAS
(It's hard to tell with either one of them which side they are on. Bishop JOSEPH says one thing and does another. Bishop THOMAS signs his letters - Assistant to the Metropolitan. Do either of them care for making honesty reign in the house of GOD?) Good question - I hope someone has the answer.
How can our Bishops handle this mess we are in when they can't even get along with each other and unite unto their Brother Bishops? But then that is not their fault - this was another part of the preconceived plan to divide and conquer. So it is up to the laity to keep posting and keep fighting for truth and honesty to be once again the focus.
By the way - I know who you are, and I think many people do also. Those who live in the West I'm sure are aware of who went on that trip in May. Think about it and let us know if you can guess who this great supporter of MP is.
Its seems to me if anyone support the Holy Synod and MEtropolitan they are your your holy than thou opinion is the only one that matters!
All seven of our Bishops are good men dedicated their life to the Chrch and should not mock or criticize;
The point of my earlier psot was to refute comments tahtw as said that the Church in Lebanon and syria are not free to do their ministry. From my two week visit I was impressed how the Church ahve effect their daily live - US americans (and Canadians) do not understand the Orthodox Ethos, like they do in the Middle east our approach to Orthodox is one of academics and Theology not how to understand Orthodoxy in our daily lives.
With regards to your opinion of the four different sides of our Bishops, is over simplified not not completely percise. No of us know what they discuss in private and ALL of them have earned our respect, however its seems to me people with psotings on this website do not show respect to anyone who disagree with even the Hiarachs of the Church; you should all be a shammed and are not real ORthodox they way to critiize he Hierarchy fo the church!
#8.2.1 Life Long Antiochian of the Lso angeles Diocese on 2010-09-07 07:45
Please try to understand that Orthodox ethos is not Arab or American, but the ethos of the Kingdom of God!
#8.3 Man in Black on 2010-09-12 14:20
It's all baloney! + Philip is consolidating his power again so he can hand over the power to + Joseph. IT'S ALREADY BEEN DECIDED, FOLKS! Again, an old-country bishop making sure the AOCA stays firmly under Damascus, Syria! Keep making those payments to the Archdiocese; the bishops in Syria need more Summer houses on the Mediterranean! Keep bringing the converts - fools!
#9 Any Mouse on 2010-09-03 15:04
Well there is no way our Patriarchate can assert, "As is the ancient custom . . . "
Novelty is always a departure from the ancient and extablished practices as established by those who came before us.
How sad that those who depart from the established practises of the Church foolishly vaunt themselves and accuse others of attempting to protestantize the church.
The hieight of ignorance.
*For those who agree with this statement, it is high time to learn something about your own faith*.
#10 anonymous on 2010-09-03 15:45
Regarding Metropolitan Basil's report - my having been in academia for some time, and as a church historian and archivist - I must approach this report with some objectivity and unfortunately skepticism.
If such an analysis was performed at a different time or in a different venue it would have carried more voracity. For example if it were done by a seminary student at Lenigrad Theological, or was done by a Dominican father or Protestant theologian I would have looked at it differently. These others would not have literally and figuratively a ' horse in the race'.
Here we have one Metropolitan who has a concern, a problem and has not been back home for some time, and is all of sudden going there, a trip bantered about by many hinting of Byzantine intrigue - and we now have a fellow member of the 'Sanctified Bretheren' to borrrow a term from that great theologian Garrison Kiellor, who does surprisingly timely research which hints of --' this is the conclusion, justifiy it' report writing.
There is an old joke about a company seeking a vp of finance - they interviewed a Harvard Business School grad for 8 hours, the last question was how much was 1 and 1. In a aggravated voice he said 2.
The next person to be interviewed was from the Warton School of Business, he was intervied for 4 hours and asked the same question, he answered 1+1=2, -1 + 1 = 0, -1 = -1 = -2
The next person was Fouad Maloof ( the names have been changed to protect the innocent) - he never attended college, in fact he dropped out of high school. He managed the books of a carnival and circus all his life. After 15 minutes he was asked the same question, he felt underneath the table, looked behing the wall hangings, unplugged the intercom, he then whispered into the chief interviewers ear -"How much do you want oit to be?" - he got the job.
Unfortunaely the environment surronding this document leads one to be skeptical - it is just too clean, too neat, too timely, and because of the indigenous nature of the writer - a fellow Antiochian prelate - it does not appear to be unbiased.
This is solely the persperctive of a non insider, trying to look at the situation objectively and with the critical eyes of those who are not involved and have 'no horse in the race'.
I truly hope this is not the case, however in speaking with many colleagues - the term 'coincidence' has been used much too much. If such suppositions are found to be accurate, the situation can be very grievous for all.
we need to be very sensitive to the subtle and not so subtle signals we send - our youth are critical thinkers and much more cosmopolitan than their parents, Byzantine intrigue is not their cup of tea, they judge everything - and righfully so - by their American culture and ideals -- such goings on tend to alienate them. They refuse to be subserviant to foreign powers, and foreign ways of doing things - their future is American and the American way - and the bottomline is that their Christ is not a Russian, Serbian or Antiochian Christ - He is alive to them in their American context and this is what we need to address otherwise we loose them and the importance of externalities remains primary to the immigrants whom we continue to focus on as our backbone. In other words the issue of auxikiary or not becomes trival if it leads to an exodus of our youth - is this the issue that really needs to have precious time and effort waste on? isn;t the saving of souls and nurturing the flock of greater importance?
#11 rjklancko on 2010-09-03 18:03
Many have pointed to the cultural differences that lie at the heart of this controversy.....MP as tribal leader for example.
Giving the benefit of the doubt that there is no duplicity involved....its is still evidence that it is time for American Orthodoxy to grow up, move out of Mom's basement, cut the apron strings, take responsibility and start making decisions for himself. For our YOUTHS sake.......they WILL leave the church if they see it as just about politics and infighting.
Yes Mom, its hard to cut the apron-strings. But we have to move on.....then the adult child can love Mom as an adult. We can even being to protect her and care for her as a loving son does. BUT change is hard. A grown man moves on when its time and does not allow Mom to make him into a "Momma's Boy."
#11.1 antionymous on 2010-09-07 08:23
I've yet to see all that many comments about this article, for it or against it, that show that the commenter actually read it. There are two points that should be noticed: One is the plan for commemorations, which leaves the bishops being commemorated after the metropolitan in most situations.
More importantly, the financial system proposed by Met. Basil envisions dioceses that are self-funding and which pay an annual sum to the archdiocese. This would be a dramatic change in the structure of the Archdiocese of North America if it were to be implemented!
Bishop Joseph has exacting standards, which more than a few have come to learn the the hard way, BUT, and this is a big BUT, he is NOTHING like Metropolitan Philip. He has no delusions of grandeur. He obeys Metropolitan Philip because he has a monastic mentality. In my opinion, it is a mistake to obey your superior to the peril of your flock, but I do respect the guy for remaining true to his perceived path. With him, what you see is what you get. To my knowledge, he is not a cigar smoking, whiskey drinking, wheeler-dealer, back room parlor kind of guy. I also don't think he is a lair or a cheat. I may not like all of the decisions he has made (especially those he's made under the direction of Metropolitan Philip), but I do respect him. He would make an infinitely better leader than Metropolitan Philip.
#13 Gail Sheppard on 2010-09-04 11:34
Always nice to see the Metropolitan's "Glee Club" weigh in with how wonderful he is, and how wonderful it is that those uppity bishops have been put in their proper place. Gag me.
We have been betrayed. Met. Philip himself made such a HUGE deal to get us "self-rule" and to set up the dioceses...then the unintended consequence hit, that being that he no longer was the sole authority and had to be content to be first among equals as metropolitan. He couldn't stand it, so started undoing his own work so as to bolster his power. Sadly, as he ages, it is that same "Glee Club" and its syncophants who are consolidating power and who will benefit when he is gone.
We, meanwhile, are indeed shafted.
I once asked a priest who had left the AOC for ROCOR, why did he do that. He said "I looked around and I saw where the saints are, and I wanted to be there." As I look at the betrayal we have received at the hands of the Synod, the Patriarch, and Met. Philip, I think I'll be following him shortly.
#14 anonymous on 2010-09-05 18:38
While the statement is interesting, I don't see anything dealing with demotion of bishops, as in a papal type of authority. As written the Aux. Bishops become what looks like Roman Catholic Bishops are, with the Metropolitan as Pope. This is new and not ancient, nor scriptural.
Is the Ecumenical Assembly a reason for this action? They believe that doing this puts the Patriarch and the Met. in a stronger position to negotiate?
#15 Rd. Rick Wagner on 2010-09-06 21:48
Interestging point about the EA? Questions, do Auxilary Bishops have rights ont he EA or not? I just do nto know!
(Editor's note: Auxiliaries may attend and vote; retired may attend, but not vote.)
#15.1 Anonymous on 2010-09-07 07:36
good point rick...that is something that most people on this post dont seem to grasp...they are purley basilites without direction....
#16 Anonymous on 2010-09-07 07:49
Can someone -- perhaps some of the people who are so vocal about these present issues -- can anyone please tell me how the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch makes any difference in the way that I am to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my daily life? Whether the bishops are diocesan or auxillary -- how does that affect the core of our Holy Orthodox Faith? Whether there may or may not be secular power-politics involved in the debate within the Synod -- how does that affect my daily effort to follow the "narrow path" to salvation? As a presbyter in Christ's Holy Orthodox Catholic Church -- how does this back-and-forth about authority and prerogatives affect the way I minister to a dying man in the hospital, or give alms to a poor neighbor? Does the rancor and criticism and impious mockery of our hierarchy (further dividing the Body into warring factions), does this shrill "debate" move our attention from the "one thing that is needful"; making ourselves, instead, insolent Marthas worried about many things that are beyond our province? Can one's tongue simultaneously praise and glorify God while impugning the motives of our brothers and sisters? Does casting stones alleviate the burden of pride in our own souls? How can a person cultivate humility and obedience, which are the very essence of our salvation, the very essence of our Lord's example -- viz., Phil 2:8, how can one cultivate these while making uncharitable judgments against our brothers, or against our fathers?
In my opinion, I do not believe that Orthodox unity can come to the Church in North America when humility, obedience, and love for one's brothers and fathers are so obviously lacking in us all. May our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ show forbearance upon our weaknesses, and withhold the just judgment that should come upon us -- for we have loosened the hand that has been put to the plow, preferring to engage in pointless debate rather than toil in the garden of our own souls.
I am but one small priest, a convert and not a life-long Orthodox Christian, and I have now lifted my eyes from the most needful task of tending the garden of my soul and the precincts of my parish to make these comments; therefore, I am participating in the very sin that I am questioning. However, I cannot endure the raucous clamor that I have been reading on these posts any longer. I plead for humility and peace among us. "The Lord's arm is not shortened" -- if there is unrighteousness afoot in His Holy Church, then He shall rectify it. The way that we must participate in this is not by crass and impious bickering, but by more fervent prayer. If we make ourselves humble and obedient to those in authority over us, and have true love for them (even if we may believe that they are in error), then GOD SHALL PREVAIL all the more quickly because we will have put aside the Devil's distractions, cast away the Tempter's tools, showing ourselves to be sons of the Light. If we each diligently attend to these personal spiritual tasks, then we will be ready to give a Godly opinion when we should be asked to do so by those whose charism it is to rule in Christ’s Holy Church. If an immoral or unholy decree came from the Holy Synod, would we not be required to resist it? Can one say that thus far anything like this has occurred? I think that we would each be wise to remember the estate into which we have been ordained (laity, clergy, episcopacy); and to engage in the tasks which the Lord has given us in each of these estates, proving ourselves to be vessels made for noble (not ignoble) use.
Peace. Love. Humility. Obedience. These are the only tools that we should use to fashion Christ's Holy Orthodox Catholic Church in North America. I believe that we would do well to remember the prophecy of Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Our anxiety will be neutralized when we remember that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Rom 8:28) No synod, no council, no, not even the prince of darkness himself, can frustrate the Will of God. Therefore, I think everyone should all calm down and get back to the hard work of theosis.
May Jesus Christ be glorified in all and by all!
#17 the unworthy presbyter Gregory-Lazarus Murphy on 2010-09-11 08:26
Dear Father, I agree but I am still confused. WHO am I to be obediant to? My enthroned diocesan bishop or the primate? Which one do YOU obey?
#17.1 Antionymous on 2010-09-14 12:35
The Holy Synod’s Statement about Auxiliary Bishops
During the Forty-Sixth regular session of the Holy Synod of Antioch which took place from the 17th to the 20th of August 2010, it appears that the fathers of the Synod worked hard in dealing with many sensitive questions that occupy the Church at the present time, such as the responsibility for religious education and the auxiliary bishops. They succeeded in creating an atmosphere of peace and contentment in their deliberations. This was at least the impression among most of the members of the Synod whose comments we have heard or whose impressions have reached us. We thank God and we hope for success, because matters need further clarification and more complete definition to resolve the debate!
However, when we read the Synod’s report, we felt that ambiguity clouded the text, especially concerning the auxiliary bishops. The feeling one gets after having read the text is that those who wrote the report perhaps ran into obstacles which were subject to debate and that they looked for a way of compromising between various opinions and wound up with unclear words which are open to interpretation and raise more questions about the issue under discussion than they provide answers!
In this article I will limit myself to discussing the paragraph dedicated to “auxiliary bishops” in order to highlight some expressions with the aim of better understanding the text, or the necessity for clarification!
This paragraph mentions the study prepared by Metropolitan Basil (Mansour) about the historical status of the bishop in the Orthodox Church. It gives the impression that in light of the study “lengthy and detailed discussions” were held on the topic, which led to regarding the bishops of the Archdiocese of North America—and this was, as it seems, the original reason for the question—“auxiliary bishops assigned to dioceses and entrusted by the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese to dioceses. They are subordinate to their spiritual point of reference, the metropolitan of the Archdiocese, who has general authority over the whole Archdiocese.”
The words about the auxiliary bishops being “assigned to dioceses”, “entrusted by the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese to dioceses” and “subordinate to their spiritual point of reference, the metropolitan of the Archdiocese” pile on elements that appear to be disparate. The description of the “auxiliary bishops” as being assigned, entrusted, and subordinate makes one think of things that do not easily fit together. The statement that they were “assigned to dioceses [muqamun 3ala abrashiyyat]” gives the impression that when they were assigned, they were assigned by God and tied to the land and people of these dioceses and that they were named for them. Putting the assignment in the passive voice, “assigned” gives the impression that the mechanism for their assignment is that the metropolitan is the one who proposes their assignment to this or that diocese and the Holy Synod agrees to the proposal. This is effectively what happened, as Metropolitan Basil showed in his study. The matter remains like this, as it is assumed that the assignment of bishops to specific dioceses will in the future be in general subject to the proposal of the metropolitan of the archdiocese with the agreement of the Holy Synod. But if the matter became dependent on the metropolitan of the archdiocese alone, as the current statement seems to say in the communiqué, that they are entrusted by the metropolitan of the archdiocese to dioceses and there is no need, or there is no longer a need, for the agreement of the synod to the metropolitan’s assignment or withdrawal, then the first statement that the bishops are “assigned to dioceses” is no longer useful and the second statement is sufficient and expresses everything. In any case, the matter is in need of clarification, as is the relationship of the auxiliary bishops in North America to the Holy Synod of Antioch! To have two statements each with their own content and their own ambiguity is something that causes unease and makes the text the source of controversy.
From a different angle, the use of the expression “assigned [muqam]” and the expression “entrusted” following each other creates two incompatible images that go in opposite directions. If you say that they are “assigned” then you give the impression that the relationship between the bishops and the metropolitan is within the framework of a local synod, presumably governed by specific and explicit basic internal canons which govern the relationship between the metropolitan and the bishops in pasturing the people of God as well as the relationship between the local synod and the Holy Synod of Antioch. If this is what was originally in mind, then the description of the “bishops” as “auxiliary” creates an equivalency between their being called “auxiliary” and their being named for the land and people to which they were assigned. So then there is no need to characterize them as “auxiliary” but rather to name them the Bishop of Canada, Bishop of Los Angeles and its dependences, Bishop of Witchita and its dependencies, etc… But if you say that they are entrusted by the metropolitan of the archdiocese, then in that case you tie them to the person of the metropolitan. In this case, the permanent relationship of these bishops to a specific land and a specific people and there is no need, or even no justification, for the existence of a local synod in the true meaning of the word. There is only an advisory role for the bishops to help the metropolitan administer the affairs of the archdiocese. He delegates them as he pleases and moves them in the direction he desires. The auxiliary bishops, in this case, are “auxiliary” in terms of their role but necessarily titular bishops in terms of their bishophood since where there is no land and no people you cannot assign a bishop, according to the practice of the Church, except for obsolete bishoprics! And bishops who are assigned to obsolete bishoprics are necessarily titular bishops, even if you don’t call them that, and even if they perform the role of auxiliaries for the metropolitan. The name “auxiliary bishop” is ambiguous and not sound in any case, from the Orthodox ecclesiological perspective because we do not have administrative bishops or bureaucratic bishops. If you did not name them to obsolete bishoprics, then you would have to do this to keep them harmonized with the theology of your church! As for the invention of the rank of “auxiliary bishops”, in different services without a connection, even nominally, to an obsolete bishopric, this would require the decision of an ecumenical council, not local councils, because there is a universal theological aspect to the issue that a local council cannot ignore. There is no doubt that it is a very strange thing to assign bishops in the New World, in North America, where there is a land and there is a people, who in terms of their episcopacy are bishops of obsolete bishoprics whose names are borrowed from the history of the Patriarchate of Antioch, and in terms of their service are auxiliary bishops for the metropolitan for this or that matter! There is no doubt that this is serious regression! The office of the titular bishop, which the Holy Synod cancelled thirty years ago as a sign of backwardness has left the door of the mother church only to re-enter, in practice, through the window of the diaspora in the Archdiocese of North America!
Also, if the emphasis is on the bishops’ being subordinate to their spiritual point of reference, the metropolitan of the archdiocese, “who has general authority over the whole Archdiocese”, then the Holy Synod has brought upon itself a very disturbing precedent which will cause difficulties for the other archdioceses now and in the future. The titular bishops, in the practice of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, were for a very long time subordinate to the patriarch, and his beatitude the patriarch would designate them to assist this or that metropolitan according to his request or to fill a vacancy that that he could not fill. But now you are confronted with a situation that makes the bishops directly subordinate to the metropolitan! Why this exception for the Archdiocese of North America? Perhaps you will say that currently in North America there is internal independence! But was the internal independence there not connected to the creation of territorial dioceses [usqufiyyat 3ala al-ard] and a local synod and local canons? But if you in effect get rid of the local synod and replace bishops over a land and a people with titular bishops over obsolete bishoprics, then what remains of the internal independence? Every metropolitan in his archdiocese has in any case internal independence understood by the canons of the church and a relationship to the Holy Synod of Antioch. In this situation, what distinguishes the metropolitan of North America from the other metropolitans? He is still part of the Holy Synod and subject to the canons within it! So the internal independence of the Archdiocese of North America has been effectively eliminated even if it remains in theory! The auxiliary bishops, now and in the future, become subordinate to the metropolitan instead of the patriarch in every place.
Again and again the question is repeated: If the metropolitan of North America has the right to have a certain number of titular auxiliary bishops, because his archdiocese is sprawling, then why is it not right for the Archdiocese of Australia and New Zealand, for example, to have the exact same privilege? His archdiocese is also expansive and sprawling! Among us, the Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon is in practical need of one or more auxiliary bishops as well! Likewise the metropolitan of Akkar! Then the metropolitan of Baghdad and the Gulf needs an auxiliary, though for another reason. The bishops, if they are considered auxiliaries, then it is assumed that they will assist the metropolitans if they are found to be unable to take up the burdens of their tasks appropriately and in good order, for one reason or another, and this is not unique to North America! This requires re-opening the file on metropolitans and titular auxiliary bishops once more! The question, if we are to understand it along these lines, becomes complicated and we do not see, in the near future, a solution! There is an increasingly thick fog that surrounds the topic and which leaves the field wide open for debate. The text is ambiguous and everyone can interpret it according to his whim, in this direction or that!
To close, I will quote what Metropolitan Basil (Mansour) expressed in his study about the crisis of the subject of auxiliary or titular bishops or those who have territories, call them what you like. He said, “For thirty years the fathers of the Holy Synod of Antioch have affirmed the unacceptability of raising someone to the rank of titular bishop. They believe that it is more appropriate – even necessary – to create a geographic region for a bishop to head, even if he is authorized to perform other tasks. This conforms to the understanding of role of the bishop in Orthodox ecclesiology. We hope that the Fathers of the Holy Synod of Antioch will reach a permanent, conclusive, and appropriate solution to the subject of bishops. If this is done, they will not remain vulnerable to intellectual conflicts or material and temperamental fickleness on various issues by those in ecclesiastical authority. Then, as is the case with heads of archdioceses, a clear and complete canon dealing with bishops will have been codified, defining their relationship with their flocks, their finances, their retirement, and their relationships with the heads of their archdioceses .”
With all love and respect
Archimandrite Touma (Bitar)
Abbot of the Monastery of St. Silouan
September 12, 2010
Posted by Samn! at 7:28 PM
Labels: Fr. Touma (Bitar), patriarchate of Antioch
#18 Anonymous on 2010-09-13 05:57
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