Friday, September 17. 2010
Your comments on either Fr. Chagnon or Samn!'s essays are welcome.
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What child does not speak the language of his parents?
If Antioch and the "Antiochians" in America have this much trouble communicating, how much sense does it make for one to be subject to the other?
#1 Caveat Lector on 2010-09-17 07:34
Someone who have some knowledge of the Arabic Language, I thyink there is a valid point, since America is using terms and definations thata re Western influence.
I think this entire issue for the past 7 years is in how terms are translated and understood. I think the Holy Synod ruling of August is the correct assessment base on this doccument.
#1.1 Anonymous on 2010-09-17 13:25
I am perfectly glad to see people parsing out the linguistic nuances of the written decisions and announcements so as to help us achieve a maximum of understanding. So far it seems like the proportion of light to heat being generated isn't too bad. But in doing so I wonder if we aren't missing a whole other aspect of this situation because we are quite western, indeed modern American, in our assumptions.
Here in the US we drink in with our mother's milk, or at leastt he pablum fed in the elementary schools, that the individual must always be subject to the law. Of course we recognize some exceptions, like speeding to the hospital with someone bleeding to death, but by and large we see it as a badge of honor that even the President must file and pay his taxes and obey just about any other law too. We are so very confident that the rule of law restrains the abuses of power that result when society's leader is superior to its rules, and that the downside of rule supremacy is less harmful than the downside of ruler supremacy.
But in the Middle Eastern view, I believe, there is far less confidence in the rightful supremacy of legislation and regulation-making over the leader. There I believe the assumption is that a strong leader (or in the case of the Holy Synod leadership council) is often better, (at least when one trusts him to be favorable) with Council to act as a court of last resort to restrain any abuse. The resulting rules therefore guide the ruler(s) without ruling the ruler.
Please somebody correct me if you feel I am wrong in fact or degree.
If we approach the whole issue of Antiochian self-rule and the last two years of rulings (on the roles of the bishops who serve with His Eminence) from Damascus with naive western presuppositions about formulating comprehensive rules that are or should be non-modifiable, perfectly comprehensive and comprehensible, perfectly defined and internally completely consistent (isn't this what we tend to believe of our human ability to formulate civil law?), readily applicable literally, and yielding a just result in virtually each and every situation, then we (or at least the people who are primed to criticize) look askance at what appear to be shifts and changes, the gradual grapplings of well-intentioned humans with a set of variables that in important ways have never been seen before. Bad motives are then imputed to explain evolving developments which the non-subtle thinker just isn't primed to look for or see as complex or nuanced.
But the truth about law in our more and more rapidly evolving society is that we have a constant need for review and redaction in light of unfolding experience. Well-meant policies are enacted which have unforeseen consequences and unanticipated gaps in coverage. And so people who prefer change lobby the legislature, testify before regulators, and bring lawsuits before judges - all with the perfectly understandable and necessary purpose of correcting mistakes and abuses and/or fine-tuning that which is seen to work imperfectly. And what human effort is otherwise, even the effort to govern the Church well with the help of God's Spirit?
How are we to define and practice the sharing of ecclesial power in a society and on a continent like ours? It seems to me that we need strong central authority for some purposes and strong diocesans for others. An equation which only a naively western literalism would expect to solve by reference solely to the exegesis of ancient canons or the making of modern manifestos.
It really is harder to listen, think, and pray than to react.
#1.1.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2010-09-18 12:31
For those of us who have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and have gone in harms way to honor our oath and protect your freedom to express yourself, your presumptions are not well received. As Orthodox Christians who understand that humililty is the basis of truth and understanding, your reflections are full of intellectual pride, and should not be taken seriously.
The Imperial corruptions of the Holy Orders of the Church by those who lack humility should not be accepted by the Faithful. Let us return to the Holy Apostolic Traditions of the Church, rejecting the unholy traditions that selfserving elements within the Orthodox Church continue to support.
Forgive me Fr. George for being blunt, but you did invite correction.
I hope the Holy Spirit will guide us to return to the Holy Apostolic Tradition of our Faith, so that we can become effective witnesses of the Gospel.
#22.214.171.124 Marc Trolinger on 2010-09-19 20:56
Dear Marc and others:
Thanks for signing your name. No personal problem with the harsh conclusions on me either, although you might want to ask yourself if you tend to be too judgmental.
But on the fundamental issue of whether or not to trust rulers or rule makers as the final authority, the "court of last resort," you don't offer much, if any, reasoning or authority. Just conclusory pronouncements.
It seems pretty clear that, like almost all well-trained Americans in or out of uniform since 1775 or so, you instinctively mistrust "foreign royalty," in this case foreign church royalty. Well learned, forcefully stated!
You will recall that many people in blue and grey uniforms died because our country had trouble sorting out just how to balance states' rights and central authority on this vast continent free of many of the constraints of the traditional societies from which the American people had originated. There had never been such a country or set of circumstances before, and therefore no paint by numbers guide for sorting it all out.
I see some similarities in the current efforts to come to agreement and good working order in our Archdiocese. The generic problems of balancing power among differing levels of authority are almost as old as the hille, but this situation throws into the mix a lot of factors more or less new on the face of the earth which make solution all the more complex.
Such a balance of power is a very, very hard equation to solve in real life so as to embody among fallible men the loving unity and order of the Trinity. I hope and believe I am not surprised or disappointed that it is taking lots of time, repeated consultations and attempts, and various, not-necessarily-congruent statements to try to move toward a consensus that gives each his due. Time will tell.
#126.96.36.199.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2010-09-20 11:13
Dear Fr George,
I did not mean to be judgemental of you personally Father. I have deep respect for anyone who serves in Holy Orders, and freely acknowledge that I am not anywhere close to the spiritual maturity and discipline necessary to serve the Church in such a capacity. However, I believe that anyone who serves in a position of authority in the Church should be held to a very high standard, as the Scriptures make quite clear.
We can not have Holy Order in the Church without authority and this is the beauty of the conciliar episcopal structure in Holy Apostolic Tradition. The corruptions of the imperial and captive periods have fostered the tyranny of episcopal structures that are neither conciliar nor Apostolic. Just as the tyranny of slavery could not be accepted by those who love liberty and believe that all people are endowed with rights by their Creator, the tyranny of an imperial episcopal structure is not acceptable to most Americans. Only with humble love and accountability to a synod of brother bishops, can the episcopal leadership of the Church function in the manner our Lord expects.
#188.8.131.52.1.1 Marc Trolinger on 2010-09-20 19:08
As I began reading, I said Fr George Washburn.
After 2000 years of having a hierarchical church perhaps it is time to simply let us follow what we have been given in the Holy canons rather than let money / favor prevail.
There are canons against that too.
A mother who takes money for favors is generally considered a harlot.
#184.108.40.206 anonymous on 2010-09-20 19:13
To: Fr. George: I always appreciate your comments and your mind-set. It seems as if your legal mind combined with your American historical sense is always enlightening. Just as men and women often use the same words but mean something entirely different, I'm finding that when old-country Orthodox and American Orthodox converts speak, they can use the same words but mean totally different things. I spoke with a number a people during your past local difficulties, arguing that what was needed was one or two solid converts on the discussion/investigation committee who could understand that while authority in the old country flows from the top down, in America the authority has always been vested in the individual, the people. We, as converts, are not used to others telling us "do this, because I said so" or "don't question what's good for you, we know better than you do". We want transparancy. We love audits and review. We crave those who will talk with us and will work out difficulties in a collegiate and collaborative manner. We always want an appeal process. Unfortunately, most of the old country has no understanding of any of this, despite a very strong arguable case that this way of approaching issues is VERY Orthodox and very much a reflection of the early Church.
#220.127.116.11 Sean O'Clare on 2010-09-22 09:55
"There's the rub, Horatio"
My parents spoke English, their parents spoke English ... I can go back to before 1500 and they spoke English ... I don't think it's a language issue, or this word or that word, I believe it is all a CULTURAL issue. The Middle East and Eastern Europe believe in a top-down administration, the mother's milk of America is a bottom-up administration.
#1.2 Sean O'Clare on 2010-09-22 15:31
We all appreicate your efforts to bring clarity to this matter.
Given the confusion or the Arabic terminology and translation / interpretation, I once again ask,
Is the word muqam' better translated "Chosen" rather than assigned?
I believe the earlier decision that appeared on the Patriarchal website said:
"Muqam Allah" Chosen of God exactly as is in a Bishop's Phimi read at the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, i.e., Philip chosen by God, Archbishop of NY and all North America.
Has the Holy Synod simply eliminated God from the process.
What a horrible idea to think we may marinalize God from the election, appointment and over sight of Dioceses.
So is Philip no longer chosen by God as well?
I know you have chosen the word assigned, but what is your expertise in Liturgical Arabic or Arabic usage of terms theologically?
Theology and Ecclesiology bring much vocabulary to the Holy Table not used much elsewhere and certainly not used in the same manner.
I have been told by sources close to the Holy Synod that the word means CHOSEN and the word Allah immediately followed in the first release and may even be found on the Archdiocese of Tripoli website.
Additionally, I have been informed that the translation of the Holy Synod's statement is inaccuarte in that it states that
Furthermore, the metropolitan, possesses the right and the authority to transfer a bishop from one diocese to another, as he deems necessary for the benefit of the Archdiocese, and after deliberateing with the Archdiocesan Synod.
The "he"s not in the original arabic where it states, "as he deems necessary." Rather it should read as deemed necessary.
Personally, I belive no action should be taken until the Holy Synod provides a clear and cogent translation with necessary explanantions as we already see the mess resulting from having one person in charge of the flow of information east to wwest and west to east.
To take action before a clarification will only cause greater damage than has already been done over the last 2 years.
All one need do is visit the website for Association of Orthodox Christian Attorneys to see how frequently the decisions of the holy synod have been twisted for some self-serving purpose.
May God forgive him.
may transfer a bishop as he deems necessary
If I understand my sources in the Patriarchate accurately the decision was:
A. a transfer must be necessary.
B. and for the good of the archdiocese.
#2 anonymous on 2010-09-17 08:00
'assigned' probably wasn't the best translation choice, as I point out in this article. The verb 'aqama' literally means 'to erect, to set up, to establish'. The idea being, yes, that they're established in their sees by God.
The first report, still up on the Archdiocese of Tripoli's website, uses the phrase "muqamun min Allah wa-mukallafun bi-usqufiyyat min al-mitrupulit" 'established by God' (the translation I gave when it came out was 'raised up by God') and entrusted to bishoprics by the metropolitan".
The final report reads "muqamun 'ala abrashiyyat wa-mukallafun min mitrupulit al-abrashiyya 'ala usqufiyyat", "established (or chosen) for bishoprics and entrusted by the metropolitan of the eparchy for bishoprics".
I don't think that the removal of "Allah" from the second version is for a theological purpose, as muqam is generally only ever used with God being the agent (as opposed to mukallaf). As Fr. Touma points out, the second version seems to be the cobbling together of phrasings preferred by different groups...
As I've commented elsewhere, the 'as he deems necessary' is literally in the Arabic 'when necessary and for the benefit of the Archdiocese'.
I am not competent to comment on the niceties of Arabic translation. However, all of the discussion of those niceties overlooks three facts:
First, the original Self-Rule Resolution, in both its Arabic and English versions, contained a clause, the English version of which reads, "The Arabic text of this resolution and its English translation shall have equal force and validity." In a reply to a comment I posted on his blog, Samn! assured me that the Arabic version has words to the same effect. When documents exist in two languages with equal force and validity, each version ought inform the interpretation of the other.
Second, many members of the Holy Synod, His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, among them, are fluent in both English and Arabic, and some also in French, where the words with the same meaning as "diocese", "diocesan", and "auxiliary" are cognates of the corresponding English words.
Third, our bishops (Bp. Antoun excepted), whether formerly auxiliaries consecrated as titular bishops of antique sees devoid of Christians, or newly consecrated for newly defined dioceses (yes, that's what they were called in the equally authoritative English version of the resolution, that's what they're still called on the Archdiocesan website), were enthroned by the rites used for the enthronement of a ruling bishop of a diocese.
If the Holy Synod did not mean for the Arabic "usqufiyyat" to be the equivalent of the English "diocese", they ought not have promulgated a document with equally authoritative Arabic and English versions in which "usqufiyyat" was Englished as "diocese".
Having done so, to make pronouncements bearing on the meaning of the document in complete disregard for the plain meaning of the English version is to make a mockery of the "equal force and validity" clause. It is also an act of bad faith with those among the faithful, the clergy and the episcopate of the Patriarchate whose primary language is English.
Bishop Basil is not "fluent in Arabic."
#5 Ferris Haddad on 2010-09-20 07:16
Bp. Basil may not be entirely "fluent" in arabic. He does however make up for it being more than adequate in comprehending Holy Tradition.
It's about time and way overdue that the Ancient Patriarchial See of Antioch and Holy Synod returns to those guideposts and makes some sort of effort to escape it's islamic influenced arabism.
#5.1 Kevin Kirwan on 2010-09-21 07:38
I just have to say that we are all falling for the oldest trick in the book!
Have you ever played Three Card Monty?
The Dealer (con-man) shows you the Queen of Hearts along with two other cards then shuffles them around so fast that you can't see where the queen stopped. If the mark picks the right card, the dealer keeps raising the bid until the mark gets scared and backs out. If the mark picks the wrong card, the dealer lets the mark bet all his money and takes it gladly. If the mark doesn't back down, the dealer and those around him who are also in on the scam take off running on the rouse that the police are coming. - the key to a great con is 1) slight of hand ( in our case - mistranslations) and misdirection ( the Auxiliary Bishop issue)
We are being distracted from the real issue of financial accountability.
Ask yourself what is the purpose of such a display of aggression and power?
If we cannot say for sure the purpose, look at the results: it causes discord in the archdiocese, divides the convert from the cradle, places fear into our Bishops (fear of transfer) and clarifies to our Metropolitan who he can trust.
Notice that the threat of transfer is directed to the same Bishop who discovered "misapropriated" funds at the Antiochian Village 10 years ago which led to the removal and laicization of Archmandrite George Geha - May his memory be eternal!
We can discuss all we want about the canons and lofty Ignatian ecclesiology but if we look at MP's track record we will see that it has ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT MONEY. Food for the Hungry, the Antiochian Village, the very large monetary "Gift" to Bishop Michael Shaheen ending the Toledo schism, the Order of St Ignatius and the Board of trustees.... It has always and will always be about MONEY plain and simple!!
An Audit would make this crystal clear but we know he will never allow that even to the point of what we are seeing today. If you want to see sights, "terrible to angels and to men" just watch as people continue to push for a professional and impartial audit of the Archdiocese.
I am sure that if an audit is ordered by some miracle of fortitude by the Board of trustees, in no short time the "Holy Synod" would soon allow MP to retire....
#6 Delegate #1 on 2010-09-21 09:29
I'm with you. The attempt by Fr. George Aquaro to guide us into believing that there are simply mistranslations of words obscures the real issues of accountability and financial transparency. As a friend of mine explained to me, it's like chocking on a gnat and letting the elephants walk by. The request for external audits has been buried and now we have the debate of whether or not a diocesan bishop is a "diocesan" or "auxilliary" bishop.
Just a reminder that in the mean time, virtually all of the money in the Antiochian Archdiocese continues to make its way to Englewood, NJ.
Fro those not familiar with the latest politics in California, there is a small city called Bell that was being ripped off by its city manager to the tune of approximately $4 million. Another approx. $1 million was taken by the mayor and a number of people on the city council. The city manager accomplished this under the guise of "salary" and "other administrative duties." He greased the pockets of city council members by getting them stipends of $100,000 for sitting on the council. To make a long story short, all of these individuals were arrested in the last couple of days.
My point is this: probably for the first time in my life, I actually saw the police and attorney general act decisively on something. I'm sure that the city council members who were collecting their $100,000 per year felt somehow entitled to the money because they did do some work. But what they failed to realize is that they failed at their jobs. They failed at their fiduciary responsibilities and they are now sitting in jail thinking about what they actually did. As this story was unfolding many of the city council members even got up and boasted of their innocence. The city of Bell, CA was seriously damaged by a bunch of crooks and people in authority who didn't actually care to do their jobs. Now I guess they can explain how "innocent" they are to the folks sitting next to them in jail.
The Antiochian Archdiocese is made up of considerably more people than just Metropolitan Phillip yet people, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Sub-Deacons, Trustee Members, Parish Council Members and Parishioners are standing around continually waiting for someone other than themselves to step up and do something about the finances. It's time to step up to the plate and stop playing these idiotic games.
Another poster asked the question, "What would Jesus do if he came now?" It's a very good question. By the way, the former mayor of Bell was cowering in his house when the police came and refused to open the door. He finally opened it when the police hit the door with a battering ram. Is this what's required in the Antiochian Archdiocese from its bishops and Board of Trustees? Personally it seems that the Bishops and Board of Trustees are acting like the former mayor of Bell, just hoping for all of these controversial issues to blow over.
To the Local Holy Synod and the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese, please, stop looking the other way. I don't know if everything in Englewood is financially up to snuff or isn't, but none of us will ever know unless the books and records are audited by an independent Certified Public Accountant, not a bunch of sychophants.
#6.1 Anon. on 2010-09-22 16:16
Oh yes, the news about Bell has been in the forefront for the past few weeks, and all hell broke loose this week when they arrested these people. Now maybe they will get what they have coming to them in the form of jail time, and somehow the city will recover in time.
Yes, we must do the same in our Archdiocese. To our Bishops - please step up to the plate and make this happen. We can't continue to live our lives this way with trauma after trauma, and nothing is resolved. You have bigger issues to deal with in your DIOCESES - and we all have bigger crises in our lives that need our attention. We don't want to wake up some day to find our Archdiocese bankrupt, held in contempt of the law (not sure if that's the right term), and nothing left for any of us, including the future generations.
Today is the day..... so that we can begin reforming and healing the suffering in our faith and restoring God's Holy Church to it's untainted presence in our lives.
I often wonder what Jesus Christ would do and say were He to walk among us once again. Would He throw out the hierarchy, much as He threw out the vendors from the temple? I think so. Would He remind the hierarchy that none of them is a prince? I think so. That humility means living in circumstances similar to the ones in which many of us live. I think so. And, would He tells us all that we all are his Church, without distinction between clergy and laity other than in administering the Holy Sacraments? I think so.
#7 H. Cardoos, Dedham, MASS on 2010-09-21 12:40
No AUDIT = NO Budget!!! This is the only solution.
No AUDIT = NO Budget!!! This is the only solution.
No AUDIT = NO Budget!!! This is the only solution.
Three times because we are Orthodox...I would repeat it 40 times but I am sure Mark would edit it for space ...
#8 Delegate #1 on 2010-09-26 13:09
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