Wednesday, October 27. 2010
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May God grant His Grace Bishop MARK mercy, life, peace, health, salvation, visitation, and many MANY years.
(Editor's note: My God, people! That story was not up for 2 minutes and there was a comment? Who can read that fast? I guess even I have yet to learn the vast power of the internet. Is anybody out there watching this? And we are arguing about dyptichs, which most people don't even know what they are, let alone spell them...)
#1 Anonymous on 2010-10-27 16:50
Mark: In response to the next post you have yet to write, I would like to go on record now as saying that I am in agreement. Thanks.
(Editor's note: Wrong. Rush Limbaugh has dittoheads. I want you to think, reflect, and then choose the right and true and just as God gives you the wisdom to do so. If that means agreeing with me, great. If not, I want you to tell me and correct me, so that I can think, reflect and then choose again,, so that together, we can do better.)
#1.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-27 17:02
I agree with that. (I knew I would.)
(Editor's note: I give up.....)
#1.1.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-27 18:25
No, you don't.
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2010-10-28 06:19
The movie version of this thread:
#220.127.116.11 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-10-28 08:11
You mean we're spossta read this stuff BEFORE writing? I didn't read the manual!
#1.2 Mac user on 2010-10-28 04:23
This person probably already knew about the story before you posted about it. It's not that they didn't read it or were merely commenting on a headline. I'd already read it on Facebook myself.
In this day and age, OCA News is less a breaking news blog and more like an aggregator. "Come to OCA News, for the latest in Ortho-shenanigans!" (If you put that on a t-shirt, I will expect royalties. )
#1.3 Cordelia on 2010-10-28 08:05
Did Bishop MARK communicate his health reasons verbally or in a letter? If verbally, I'd love a confirmation of that from him. If in a letter, this letter should be posted on the Archdiocese website. Without verification, we have no way of knowing if this was truly his response to the proposed transfer or if this is another one of MP's tricks to make Bishop MARK look bad.
Does anyone have the answer to this question?
(Editor's note: According to sources close to Englewood, the Bishop mentioned in the course of the discussion concerning his transfer to the Pacific Northwest that he suffered from health concerns that would be exacerbated by the climate of the Northwest. However, no one can seriously consider this was "the reason" why he requested a release rather than accept the transfer.)
Metropolitan Philip did not fabricate this account. Bishop Mark told me that he pleaded reasons of health for his request to be released to the OCA.
Bishop Mark's health problem is chronic. It has been a matter of concern to our parish for several years.
It may come as a surprise to some of the gang, but not everybody can just pick up and move to Alaska!
#1.4.1 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-10-30 13:23
I do not think MP would have been too happy if Bp Mark said these 18 points are a bunch of hogwash, I'm out'a here.
Let's see if +Mark can escape without MP making his life miserable on the way out!
#1.4.2 Anonymous on 2010-10-31 13:30
You are a fool. It is not 29 of 31 in the diocese that felt effect of the recession. There are over 45 parishes in the Midwest! The 31 you speak of reflect the number of reports submitted to Mark for his meeting at the synod. Furthermore, let's not embellish what sayidna Philip says. He did not warn anybody anything. He said he expects full participation. That is not a warning. Lastly, Mark never had a "See" to be removed from. He is an auxiliary bishop and no longer a bishop of the church of Antioch.
(Editor's note: You are correct. There are 45 parishes. I will correct the story. When my mom told me her "expectations", I was being warned. I'll stand by what I wrote. Finally, you are wrong . He was consecrated to the "See of Toledo and the Midwest", not the Antiochian Archdiocese. I saw the tape. You should look at it too. I'll stand by that too. And finally, you are correct. I am a fool.)
#2 Anonymous on 2010-10-27 16:52
And if they don't participate?
#2.1 VSO on 2010-10-28 20:19
It will be very very interesting to see the Parish Life Conference for the (former) Diocese of the Midwest in 2011. Either way, a statement will be made.
God grant His Grace MARK many years. My prayers also for His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, unworthy as I am.
#3 Dn. Marty Watt on 2010-10-27 16:56
You spelt Toledo wrong in first sentence. Just fyi. you're not a fool, you are an editor who writes enticing, yet exaggerate to the fullest. Not being offensive because that's your opinion you are entitled to. However, I did not see it as a warning, I saw it as a way to move on.
(Editor's note: Thanks again for the correction. But I have to warn you, as you are a new reader, obviously. Writing " Move on" to the editor of OCANEWS.org is the wrong thing to say. Please review the postings from 2006-2008. I've heard that one before.)
#4 Happy on 2010-10-27 17:23
I read it that way too Mark and all I could think of was "We just cannot afford it!" Does he mean he expects our priest to be there? Our deacon? Our parish councils? Who will cover this cost? Our parish can barely afford what we do now, that is why we didn't go this year.
Lord Have Mercy!
+Mark is the fortunate one in all of this. My family is committed to our parish, but we are not committed to Saliba.
#5 MichiganPCMem on 2010-10-27 17:38
"I read it that way too Mark and all I could think of was "We just cannot afford it!" Does he mean he expects our priest to be there? Our deacon? Our parish councils? Who will cover this cost? Our parish can barely afford what we do now, that is why we didn't go this year.
Lord Have Mercy!
+Mark is the fortunate one in all of this. My family is committed to our parish, but we are not committed to Saliba."
I'd be voting on Parish Council to leave the Antiochians, even if that meant giving up the building. Better to meet in a garage and keep your Orthodoxy, than to keep your building and lose your Orthodoxy in submitting to a multi-millionaire "monk," because an implicit tonsure means nothing .....
#5.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-28 17:39
Can an "auxilliary" properly be called a locum tenens? I thought a Locum Tenens was a ruling bishop who tends a (non-auxilliary) see. It made sense for example when Bishop Joseph was the Locum Tenens of Eagle River. Likewise, the Met is still using the word "Synod." Can a Synod be composed of one ruling bishop and 5 auxilliaries?? His vocabulary is all tangled up.
(Editor's note: I think Mr. Knowlton coined the memorable phrase posted here some weeks back: " A Metropolitan with 5 diocesan bishops is a Synod; an Archbishop with 5 auxiliaries is a staff meeting.")
#6 steve knowlton on 2010-10-27 17:44
I understand that, in popular parlance, one of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. So, perhaps I am insane. Nonetheless, I will keep asking this question until somebody who actually believes Bp. MARK did something wrong answers it:
What did Bp. MARK do wrong that somebody like me doesn't understand? I'm asking because I really want to know what the answer to this is. It's an honest question, and I will do everything I can to respect an honest answer. Even if it's long, even if it's angry, even if it's accusatory. So long as it's substantive and specific, I would like to hear it. Seriously.
The Midwest is cruelly deprived and Bp. Mark though I am sure he feels otherwise right now is rescued. Many years faithful and good servant!
#8 Kevin Kirwan on 2010-10-27 18:08
As far as I can see from last year to this year, Bishop Mark supposedly made only TWO "mistakes", and according to +Philip, they are as follows:
1. He firmly agreed with someone who proposed that Archdiocesan Finances should be audited to bring about financial transparency
2. He proposed that the Funds of the former Diocese of the Midwest be audited, so as to find out exactly how the money was being spent.
What was +Philip afraid of in this instance? Maybe that he would be found to be funneling money from the Midwest to Englewood, to be used for his own "discretionary" purposes?
In recent posts, +Philip has been called a Despot (i.e. "Tyrant"), to which many have loudly disagreed.
This reminds me of a scene from the movie 1776, in which one of the characters asks that the word "Tyrant" be removed from the Declaration of Independence.
When Thomas Jefferson refuses the change, and says "well, scratch it back in", and John Hancock says "very well, the king shall remain a Tyrant."
After some laughter from the assembled delegates, work on the document resumes.
+Philip is a tyrant, if he thinks that all clergy councils will be disbanded simply because he decrees it. Likewise his demand that none of his auxiliary bishops can question or disagree with him on any issues makes him a tyrant.
And of course, the other 16 directives cement this view of who and what he has become.
So now, we have concrete evidence of exactly who +Philip is, and what he expects of his loving (and terrified) subjects!
Finally, I love the post in which this was written: "5 bishops and the Archbishop are a Synod. 5 auxiliaries and the Archbishop is a business meeting."
That is PRECISELY what +Philip wants. And through these directives, he has become the Chairman of the Board, the C.E.O. the President of the Archdiocese., and not its Chief Shepherd.
This sounds like what ultimately brought +Herman Down. Unfortunately, +Philip has made the ULTIMATE GOOF in this matter.
He has published his decrees, and expects them to be followed; where as +Herman, (to his credit), never published anything that confirmed he was trying to become the "supreme" bishop of the O.C.A.
And if he did, I haven't seen it on this or any other website.
His Grace Bishop Mark, Like Our dearly departed Archbishop Job stood up in defense of the church.
Unfortunately for His Grace, unlike Archbishop Job, who lived to see the truth revealed, and retained his diocese until his unexpected passing, Bishop Mark has been removed in order to ram the following Inconvenient Truth down the throats of +Philip's subjects:
The Archbishop has Total Authority, and not even his brother bishops have the authority to question or disagree with his decrees.
"What never?" "No, NEVER!" and in this case, there is NO "Well, hardly Ever."
May His Grace bishop Mark join the O.C.A. and become a one of our most loved and respected bishops.
May he also become Bishop of a diocese, (perhaps one that hasn't yet been created), if God wills it, and His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah and his brother Bishops on the Holy Synod are obedient to God's will.
Is this "Classic", or what? Just kidding.
#8.1 Mark Sudia on 2010-10-28 08:40
God bless Metropolitan Philip for having the courage to stand up and take care of the situation in the Midwest. Why he allowed + Mark to be the bishop of the Toledo Diocese never made sense. At least + Philip was man enough to come back and try to fix the mess.
This situation once again illustrates the stupidity of diocesan sovereignty. Other classic examples from recent history are the OCA diocese of New York and the OCA diocese of Alaska. In the case of New York it to the death of the archbishop to make any changes, and in the case of Alaska, it took practically the entire diocese, the seminaries and the Metropolitan Council to force the Holy Synod to act on it.
I understand perfectly that the church is not a business in the traditional sense. I think most of us get the point, but there has to be a balance of just plain common sense. When someone is not meeting expectations in a position, they are counseled and then finally terminated if their performance doesn't improve. Yet in our Holy Orthodox Church fairly rational people suddenly become paralyzed with fear and irrationality when it comes to matters of the church. Obviously deference should be paid to canon law, scripture and tradition, but honestly a little bit of common sense isn't a bad thing either.
For all of those readers who disagree with me let me ask a simple question, "At what point in the decline of membership of the Midwest Diocese would make you think that a bishop could/should be removed?" Is the answer 25%, 50%, 75% or is the answer none of the above because he didn't do anything heretical?
At what point do we have a right to ask for accountability from our bishops? It's certainly asked of priests. I believe in a lot of old school things but I firmly believe that we have a right to demand some level of accountability from our hierarchs.
God bless Metropolitan Philip for stepping up to the plate today and taking care of a situation that should never have happened in the first place.
(Editor's note: In defence of Alaska and New York, it should be pointed out that change was indeed made. And neither dioceses are now "sovereign" in the way Archbishop Peter liked to use to term. The OCA is clearly moving toward conciliarity; on the Synod, in the MC, and in many, if not all, the dioceses. )
#9 Anon. on 2010-10-27 18:11
Anon., you sound like somebody who can answer my question with substance:
What did Bp. MARK do wrong?
(Editor's note: You know, Richard, you're beginning to sound like that other guy from the Midwest who kept asking that pesky question of the OCA: " Are the allegations true or not?" It took him 3 years to get an answer, but he thought it worth the wait. You go, man!)
Since you asked the question, I will qive you my personal opinion as to what Bishop Mark did wrong.
A bishop especially needs to be the pastor to all of his flock. He is human and will certainly have preferences as to who he would like to spend his time with. But his sacred duty of being the bishop is to be the pastor to his entire flock, not just those that he feels most comfortable with.
My brother is a priest and he told me a little story about when he was first ordained a deacon. He told me that after about six months, a senior priest pulled him aside one day and offered him some advice. He said, "Deacon, you would be wise to learn to spend more time with the parishioners. I have noticed that you never associate with most of the parishioners. You flock to the same people every week. My brothers answer was, "But I don't really know them and I don't have anything in common with them." The priest replied, "One day you will learn that the ministry is not just at the altar. You need to love all of the people in the church, not just those that you are most comfortable with.." My brother has recounted this tale many times to me because he said that it transformed his whole outlook on ministry.
If there is any single area where I feel Bishop Mark could stand improvement is in the area of loving those that he does not see eye to eye with. And unfortunately it got to a point of such magnitude that something needed to change. In fairness to him as well, I was not there when he had disagreements with some of his flock.
In any event, whether it was him or some people that just refused to give him a chance, it was certainly affecting the diocese, and leaving him alone was not helping the situation.
Since Mark brought up the person who asked the famous question, "Are the allegations true?" I would like to comment on it. Archbishop Job of thrice blessed memory was a man of enormous heart and integrity. I was blessed to know him and to have serious conversations with him, even when we disagreed. I never once felt that he ever stopped loving me or caring for me when we had differences of opinion. I also know Bishop Mark and know many people who live in his now former diocese. I am sorry to say that there were some people that did not feel that same kind of love and support.
It is very unfortunate that Bishop Mark did not accept the offer to be the bishop of the Northwest because he would have done extremely well there. I know him to be a loving and caring individual and I am truly sorry that he either was not able to express that love to all in his former diocese or they were unwilling to accept it. May God bless Bishop Mark on his new journey with the OCA.
#9.1.1 Anon. on 2010-10-27 20:34
Thank you for the honest, sincere kind response. I still think it is wrong to unseat him, but I appreciate knowing that there is at least some substance to the charges of nonfeasance.
By the criteria +Mark was removed, can't we remove +Philip?
#18.104.22.168 Antionymous on 2010-10-28 06:33
Dear Antionymous: Your probably right. Someone once said "There are three sides to any discussion: Yours, Mine, and Ours."
It sounds like all are being addressed to some extent. Maybe it's time to simply pray as we do in the Lord's Prayer "Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven."
Since I'm a child of the O.C.A. Archdiocese of the Midwest, I truly don't know the ins, outs, and roundabouts of of the turmoil swirling around Bishop Mark's removal.
And in all good conscience, I can say thank God I don't. I became so interested in (and sickened by) the O.C.A. Scandal, that at one point I simply refused to read the reports.
For those with strong opinions on both sides, pray that God will resolve the upper level turmoil that now characterizes +Philip's Arch pastoral leadership in North America.
Then, the problems will truly be taken care of.
Also, thank you for your kind words regarding Archbishop Job. You're absolutely right. even when he disagreed with an Idea, once he explained why, I always understood, appreciated, and honored his reasoning.
Two examples of this stand out. First, in the summer of 2002, I sent His Eminence a long letter, outlining my vision of how the jurisdictional gobble de gook could be eliminated, if the bishops would agree to create regional and multi-ethnic Metropolitan Districts throughout the major geographic areas of the U.S.. including the Midwest.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive his answer within a month. When he explained the logistical nightmare that would result from this, regarding the various releases from the Holy Patriarchs of the East, I realized that he was correct.
Even though he disagreed, his explanation clarified why it wasn't feasible at that time. I was somewhat depressed, but I realized that his being "right" didn't mean that I was "wrong".
In our own ways we were both right. And now that the EA has occurred, I believe that a plan similar to that one may eventually be implemented. Only time will tell.
The other instance of this occurred when I wrote to His Eminence, and proposed that he request the consecration of an auxiliary bishop to assist him, and who would one day be his successor.
Since this was during or immediately after the scandal, he pointed out the financial hardships of the Archdiocese, (of which I was unaware), and how supporting an auxiliary bishop at that time wasn't feasible.
Once again, after reading his explanation, I reluctantly agreed. In each case, his wise answers were based on his present experience as the Archbishop, and his love and concern for the people.
Sadly, he reposed before his successor could be chosen. I wish it had been different, as all Orthodox Christians in America would have benefited from his writings as a retired bishop, and certainly from the Icons he would have written as well.
Presently, I don't see +Philip exercising such Arch Pastoral love and concern for "His" people in "His" Archdiocese.
But, as with the two instances related above, perhaps I don't have all of the necessary information to truly understand what's happening.
May His Grace Bishop Mark enjoy his temporary respite from being the arch pastor of a diocese. And when he has joined the O.C.A., may he have many good and fruitful years as one of our bishops.
Many Years, O Master!
#22.214.171.124.1 Mark Sudia on 2010-10-29 06:21
I appreciate very much the constructive attempt at answering my question. Thank you.
May ask a followup question or two for the purposes of trying to keep things clear in my own head?
1) Does this boil down, then, to a bad fit culturally? If so, in what sense? I've seen Bp. MARK have wonderful relationships with Arab clergy, but perhaps there's still another cultural factor that's at play here. Just to throw something out as a possibility -- because I really don't know -- does it have to do with residual effects of the Toledo/New York split that used to exist?
2) To put it another way, was the problem that Bp. MARK was a convert who hadn't spent enough time around Arabs to understand their expectations and paradigms in general, or who hadn't spent enough time around a particular group of Arabs to understand their specific expectations and paradigms? To push that a little further, I've encountered with certain kinds of individuals before the basic approach that, "If I have to explain it to you, then you've already proven you won't get it." If there was a cultural paradigm that wasn't understood, was this idea that if it had to be explicitly communicated then the point was defeated also part of the problem?
3) To put it yet another way, given the factors you describe, was the problem ultimately conflicting sets of unspoken expectations and unwritten rules? Was there any way Bp. MARK's episcopate was going to work well, if so? What lesson does a future bishop of this part of the country need to take from all of this?
I would very much appreciate hearing answers to these questions in as constructive a tone as you use above. Again, thank you.
I think you probably know that this has NOTHING to do with Arab/Convert cultural differences. You cite correctly that Bishop Mark had excellent relationships with both converts and cradle Arab Orthodox. I count myself as among those cradle Arab Orthodox who had a very good relationship with His Grace. Of course, I know of others, both convert and cradle Arab who did not have as good of an experience with Bishop Mark as mine was. Nobody is perfect, but Christ. I would guess that, two years ago, prior to all this mess, each of the other bishops, including Metropolitan Philip, had people that loved them, and others that didn't get along great with them.
Rather, this has EVERYTHING to do with Bishop Mark trying to act like a true bishop and a certain number of people who happen to be Arab who chafed at his supervision. Bishop Mark did not try to institute financial oversight and audits because of his American Evangelical tradition and an inherent distrust of priests and parish councils. He did so when actual instances in his diocese of financial impropriety were uncovered. The problem for him was that many of these same people at the heart of the financial scandals in the Midwest were very close to Metropolitan Philip, and were used to being left alone by any bishop except their close friend the Metropolitan.
Make no mistake, this episode is focused more closely on Bishop Mark, but there are larger implications for any of the formerly Diocesan Bishops who thought and acted like they were real bishops with real authority. Re-read the 18-point decree again. Some of those points are aimed squarely at Bishop Basil and Bishop Joseph and bringing them down to size as well. Bishop Mark's mistake was in believing he had authority, and in attempting to exercise it in the Metropolitan's old neighborhood, among his old neighbors.
#126.96.36.199.1 David Najjar on 2010-10-28 13:43
I know that, as an Anglo convert myself, I don't see it as an Arab/convert cultural divide, and I always had an excellent relationship with Bp. MARK. Let's say that I'm trying to understand the difference of opinion on its own terms. If, at the very least, it prompts self-reflection on my own part, that's not a bad thing; if I (and others) are able to clarify just where some of these folks feel like the breakdown occurred, so much the better.
I'm doing my best to walk a mile in the other person's shoes, in other words, because my hope is that it will be a productive thing to do. As hot as I've seen tempers run about Bp. MARK, it must be a much different mile for them than it seems to be for me.
(Incidentally, thank you for coming to the Symposium at IU a couple of weeks ago. I'm sorry that the schedule wound up being compressed; we had external scheduling constraints placed upon us by our hosts, and a very restricted window of time for two of our octet. That would all have been fine had we been able to start on time, except that our first presenter wound up being unavoidably a half hour late, and then a miscommunication occurred with the second presenter over how long the timeslot actually was. Given all factors, the only thing I could cut was the break and still have the promised octet for the second half. Again, I'm sorry for the compression. The irony is, the end time imposed on us by our hosts wound up being irrelevant anyway, since none of their people came. Ah well. Everything's a learning experience.)
This is a VERY well thought out and reasoned reply. Thank you. I don't know +Mark and know little about him. I do know he walked into a difficult situation and difficulties continued. But your comments are very much appreciated. Thank you again.
#188.8.131.52 Sean O'Clare on 2010-10-28 12:54
You write, "A bishop especially needs to be the pastor to all of his flock. He is human and will certainly have preferences as to who he would like to spend his time with. But his sacred duty of being the bishop is to be the pastor to his entire flock, not just those that he feels most comfortable with."
If this is the charge for which +MARK is deprived of his diocese--then +PHILIP should surely be deprived of his archdiocese on the same charge. He is not pastor of the little struggling missions in "fly-over country". No parish or mission that can't pay the outrageous honorarium and accommodation costs he demands for himself and his entourage ever receives an archpastoral visit from +PHILIP. And how does he treat those he is not comfortable with? Who, say, merely ask whether some action of his is in accord with the Holy Canons? Or who propose that the Archdiocese should benefit from the adoption of what are nearly universally recognized as best-practices for charitable and religious corporations, things like outside audits?
#184.108.40.206 DNY on 2010-10-28 16:46
Perhaps, Bishop Mark is simply not used to dealing with Felons on a regular basis?
Wlid and his brother Jamal have both had run-ins with the law. Both had felony charges 28 counts.
#220.127.116.11 anonymous on 2010-10-28 18:38
Wow. This has been a dangerously civil and reasoned exchange. Therefore, I tread lightly.
Anon., thank you for your reasoned and compassionate response. You have made your points clear without the heat that has generally characterized religious debate. Through you, I see a different perspective here. I don't have direct knowledge about the situation but your testimony gives me something to consider when looking at these issues that are somewhat faraway.
#18.104.22.168 Rob Stevenson on 2010-10-29 00:26
I appreciate these comments, but all I see is a bishop who still had work to do along his own pastoral path. I still don't see what he did that was so terrible he had to be removed. And if he was so terrible that he needed to be removed from the "diocese" of the Midwest, why wouldn't it make sense to remove him from episcopal ministry altogether? But if he wasn't really a bishop to begin with (or at any rate, if he isn't really one now) ... Am I the only one who feels like he is dreaming in Tagalog?
A few years ago when the OCA was in the throes of catharsis, I remember how healthy the Antiochians seemed to me and how strong the temptation to join their jurisdiction. How long ago those days now seem! And as gut-wrenching as our issues were, how tiny they seem by comparison. It breaks my heart to read all that our Antiochian brothers and sisters are having to endure.
#22.214.171.124 Morton on 2010-10-29 10:36
'"At what point in the decline of membership of the Midwest Diocese would make you think that a bishop could/should be removed?" Is the answer 25%, 50%, 75% or is the answer none of the above because he didn't do anything heretical?"
So, is Ec. Pat. Bartholomew to be removed?
#9.2 Irrelevant on 2010-10-27 19:01
You mention fear and irrationality. Where do you think that fear comes from? Why do you think you have only a handful of priests who will identify themselves in questioning our primate, when that is all you hear at these clergy meetings?
You mention failing numbers in the Midwest. What about the Dioceses of New York and New England? You didn't by any chance attend the last PLC did you?
And then mention accountability? Just who is our Glorious Leader accountable to?
#9.3 Antionymous on 2010-10-28 03:23
The Antiochian Village, the only one of it's kind...
The Word Magazine, the finest of it's kind...
The Order of St. Ignatius, no other Archbishop could have created such an establishment...
The entire archdiocese... You'll be impossible
One more thing...
That's all folks...
Douglas Hamatie - New York, N.Y.
#10 Douglas Hamatie - New York, N.Y. on 2010-10-27 18:11
You have a tape. I was there. I was in Pittsburgh when he was elected. I was in toledo when he was enthroned. However, toledo's not a "See". It never was. It is a diocese that was established when self rule came about.
(Editor's note: A diocese is traditionally referred to as a See. If you want to quibble about Arabic, fair enough. But these words have plain meanings in English.)
#11 Anonymous on 2010-10-27 18:12
Anaonymous, just what do you think "See" means?
#11.1 Antionymous on 2010-10-28 03:25
Having an expectation put on you is not a warning. I have expectations of myself to help me reach certain goals, yet I am not "warning" myself as if there iscan impeding doom if I don't meet such expectation. The metropolitan expects full participation. He didnt warn them of lack of participation. You like to embellish the story for sensationalism.
(Editor's note: Oh, so people are not required to participate? Is that what the Metropolitan really meant to say? Fair enough! I know there will be great number of parishes/ priests/parish councils who will all be relieved that this was all my "sensationalism" and nothing more. Thanks for the clarification.)
#12 Anonymous on 2010-10-27 18:15
He doesn't say parish councils and all parishioners. He is addressing the clergy so as not to make excuses for poor effort. I applaud metropolitan Philip for his bold moves to put this archdiocese back on track.
#13 Anonymous on 2010-10-27 18:34
Bishop Mark was antagonistic to Arab clergy. In one instance, he helped to organize a groupnof people to stop giving money to a church in order for the priest to have financial trouble. His efforts failed. In another instance there were troubles in another parish where he would refuse to listen to the peoples complaints and toldnthem to make right with the priest because that priest was his friend. He played favorites.
There was another instance when he tried, with the help of few other individuals, to frame a priest for money issues that was also not true. All this was done to try to get Arab clergy removed from these churches. Furthermore, he never paid attention to those churches pastorally. He would not visit them or would neglect to putnthem on his visiting schedule and then blame it on the clergy saying he was not invited. It was ludicrous. The attendance at parish life conferences in the past had over 1000 people. Nobody cared to see bishop mark because he would isolate himself from the majority because he had nothing in common with Arabs.
#14 Anonymous on 2010-10-27 18:44
I will take this as an attempt to answer my question, and I appreciate it very much. It's clear that you articulate a point of view that has felt progressively and repeatedly frustrated and marginalized over the last few years, and as somebody who is grateful that generations of Arab-Americans built up an archdiocese in this country that threw open its doors to converts like me, I'm really sorry that this has been how you have experienced Bp. MARK. Please forgive, brother (or sister -- I realize I don't know which you are), me and those like me, sinful and prideful people who made you feel unwelcome in your own home, however unintentionally.
Please allow me to ask a couple of follow-up questions for clarity's sake. I don't mean these questions to be argumentative -- I really am only seeking to understand, not to judge.
1) Under Bp. DEMETRI, was the expectation that he told you when he was visiting? I don't know because Bp. MARK is the only bishop i've ever known -- my wife and I were chrismated in February of 2005. Being present at Bp. MARK's enthronement that summer was the first time I had ever seen an Antiochian bishop.
2) The second instance you describe, of Bp. MARK refusing to reassign a priest, sounds like a situation of which I have some minor personal knowledge, except that the priest I'm thinking of was in fact an Arab, and the son of another priest who had been in this Archdiocese for a good long time. In this case, he had been reassigned from the cathedral to a heavily Arab parish in Ohio to a mission, and the way it has been represented to me is that this priest generally wasn't considered "Arab enough" in parishes with a significant Arab contingent. The mission was theoretically "pan-Orthodox" (and I'm still not sure I understand what that means, even though I'm at a theoretically "pan-Orthodox" parish myself), but it was once again the Arabs with whom this Arab priest ran into problems. So, if this is the "playing favorites" case you mean, then Bp. MARK was "playing favorites" with an Arab priest as the favorite.
Besides this case, the dean of my deanery is himself native-born Egyptian, and has always gotten along well with Bp. MARK to my knowledge.
I guess my question is, what was the kind of "Arab clergy" that Bp. MARK is seen as having tried to push out, since there were evidently Arab clergy with whom he got along?
3) This question is, let me stress, from complete ignorance. I've never been to a parish life conference, because I frankly have never been in a position where both money and time aligned. What function did they serve before Bp. MARK, when 1000+ people would attend?
Again, thank you for taking on my question with sincerity. Please keep doing so, and please keep answering as honestly and as sharply as you feel you need to do.
It is saddening to witness this drama in the Antiochian Archdiocese, but I think what is happening now has to happen in order for the AOANA to define itself in terms of what it wants and who it is, what it sees as its role and vision as the 3rd largest Orthodox church body in America.
I think the above "anonymous" hit on the crux (Latin for cross) of the matter with the current drama that Metropolitan Philip has made so public. Plainly put, as I see it (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong), some very influential Orthodox Arab-Americans simply want their bishop to be an ethnarch. Metropolitan Philip in many ways epitomizes the modern-day ethnarch for Orthodox Arabs -- being the charismatic leader of Christian Arab culture as well as a spiritual leader, blending the two and often blurring the boundaries. This is so similar to Bishops in the GOA in the 1960s-1990s. I grew up in the GOA, and I can just imagine how many Greek-Americans would have risen up in arms had a local GOA bishop not honored Greek culture appropriately. But this was never an issue in the GOA since all the bishops were, well, Greek, and/or simply loved Greek culture so much.
But, bluntly, there are many Orthodox in the AOANA who don't want an ethnarch and have nothing in common with Arab culture. For these Christians, the AOANA is their Christian Orthodox church. Arab culture is so distant in importance, if important at all. And many AOANA parishes have no Arabic flavor at all.
The problem is, back in the 1980s and 1990s, Metropolitan Philip implied (quite publicly) that there is room in the AOANA for Christians who are not Arab-American who simply want an Orthodox church. Now, however, he is sending a not-so-subtle different message. That is, while non-Arab Christians may be part of the AOANA, influential Arab Orthodox have priority and remain the core of the AOANA, even if they may not predominate in numbers. And AOANA policies and procedures (and even traditional Orthodox ecclesiology) will be adjusted to accommodate these influential Arab-American Orthodox Christians and what they want.
This needs to play out, for the AOANA to define itself. Hopefully there will be a middle ground reached where everyone feels welcome. Ultimately, though, I think that the AOANA is going to have to choose whether it wants to be the relatively small chaplaincy of Arab-American Orthodox Christians or whether its goal is to evangelize non-Orthodox-Christian-America. I don't think that both of these can be equal in priority.
But Metropolitan Philip has lost the credibility that he may have once had, and I wonder if trust can ever be restored to AOANA members (and other Orthodox Americans not in the AOANA) who feel quite betrayed by his blatant pandering and (truly) un-Orthodox actions. But prayers as always for Bishop Mark, Metropolitan Philip, and the AOANA during these trying but defining times.
#14.2 Gregg Gerasimon on 2010-10-27 21:27
I think you have hit many nails on the head with your post. Excellent observations, well stated. I agree there has been an inherent contradiction
within the AOCANA since the EOC'ers and those that followed came in. There has been an underlying tension between the hopes and expectations of those who simply want the Antiochian archdiocese to be an American Orthodox Church (and were invited in with this expectation by the "Welcome Home" of Met Philip; the question remains: what "home" are we talking about!?); and those on the other hand, for whom Arabic culture and ethnicity is a significant part of their personal, psychological and spiritual identity. We see this same tension in the GOA too. I noted this at our archdiocesan meeting in Palm Desert, where people were coming at things from such different perspectives. I described it as a "cultural divide" and think that is part of what is going on here. This does not excuse anything; perhaps it makes it clearer. Thanks for the post.
#14.2.1 Kevin Allen on 2010-10-28 11:49
Which side of the fence are you sitting on today? I have been reading posts since all this mess began last year, and many of them were from you. In the beginning, you were very much disappointed in MP and his attacks on our Archdiocese. You even said you were handing out those banned financial reports in Palm Desert.
Now the posts I've been reading, plus that interview where you brown nosed MP to death, show me that you have abdicated to the other side. You, as one of those EOC converts, should be much more understanding about how things have been for the non-Arabs, and why they were allowed in to begin with - MP wanted their tithing money. Everyone knows that. You can't be going back and forth like this. Anyone paying close attention knows all that is going on, we wait for another shoe to drop, and our lives continue to be disrupted.
Make up your mind who you support. Don't be wishy washy with us. It shows you still have belief in MP as a good guy, which we know he isn't and hasn't been for a long time. Be strong in your faith and your convictions about this whole mess - don't let that man sway you. His charisma towards you must have had an impact, but it wasn't a good one. Charisma does not make a good Chief Shepherd nor does it make a good President. It makes a lot of trouble and false promises to people, promises with no intention to be faithful and honest.
Kevin has been pretty consistent on this issue. I for one share many of his sentiments and have appreciated his honesty and lack of "position" in this whole mess. Many of us (not speaking for Kevin) are disillusioned and not sure what to do. So we try to ask questions, shut up more, and pray. We don't give to the Archdiocese. And we protest and withhold support when given the opportunity to do so. Who knows what the future holds, but it seems that MP is determined to make the issues and divisions very clear. Hopefully, at some point, those who can do something (REALLY) will.
#126.96.36.199.1 David Feliciano on 2010-10-29 19:19
I take exception to the brown-nosing comment. I think I was respectful to + Philip (as his office deserves), but asked tough questions and they were all answered.
As for my "position" -- I am unhappy with many of the things that have recently taken place. But there are frankly limits to what we can do about them at this time, because Damascus has pulled back the reins, due, I believe, in part to the sense they have that the E.A. is drifting us towards Constantinople. I suspect the recent rein tightening and centralizaton of command is a direct response, heavy handed as it may appear, or be. That's my opinion, not inside information.
So the question is: what can we laity or clergy do about it? Not much at this point. Things have to play themselves out. This is frustrating and this site is in large part a pressure valve release for much of the public frustration - I get that. Some may choose to leave the archdiocese or go outside Orthodoxy. But as one priest recently said to me, sagely: you have to decide whether the other guy's problems are better than yours.
I also echo what one person said already - this too shall pass. Leaders do not live forever, God acts, things change. I am in this for the long haul.
#188.8.131.52.2 Kevin Allen on 2010-10-30 15:39
Other than Metropolitan Philip, a handful of felons and their cronies, I don't see an inherent problem within the AOCANA. The "EOC'ers" are our sisters and brothers in Christ just like our Arab brethren. Where is the contradiction? The purported cultural divide and tension is an invention of Metropolitan Philip. The Arabs, including the "EOC'ers" have peacefully coexisted in this Archdiocese for decades. It is only a handful of people who have caused problems. Don't make this out to be more than it is, because to do so makes it a cultural war which it isn't. As one person who happens to be of Arab decent recently told me, this is a question of right vs wrong; not Arab vs American.
#184.108.40.206 Gail Sheppard on 2010-10-29 14:02
Mark, why can't you have the decency to correct my spelling errors before you post my comments?!
#220.127.116.11.1 Gail Sheppard on 2010-10-29 15:03
You sound like many of the Arabs I have known over the years, you aren't happy unless you are complaining. I saw the same silliness happen on a small scale at my childhood parish. The Arabs weren't happy until the bishop gave them an Arab priest. But then in a short while they complained about him too. You people are never happy.
I finally left that parish and gave up on my kind. I joined a parish full of converts and I feel like I am in paradise. Keep complaining and your children will grow tired of it and leave the church. Those who complained at my childhood parish have grown old and their children and grandchildren are no longer Orthodox Christians. You will see my friend. Oh yes, you will see.
Many years to Bishop Mark and may the OCA treat him well.
But whoa to those who lead in Detroit.....
#14.3 Iskandra Tannous on 2010-10-27 23:27
Boo hoo! This is what Bishop Mark has done to deserve being thrown out? It is all about the 'tribe' all of the time. The true measure of a Bishop isn't attendance at Parish Life Conferences or even overall attendance at diocese parishes. However I remember a member of the AONA parish I used to attend saying "If we just had more money we could get +Philip's attention". The PLC's and hafli's are all just part of the money game that gets +Philip's attention. As for the expectation being a warning; of course it is but it is also a message to all the tribe members to be there in 2011 so that it can be demonstrated that it was +Mark's fault that PLC attendance was low. Pathetic; truly they have their own reward.
#14.4 Former AONA member on 2010-10-28 04:12
If +Mark is guilty of anything it is underestimating the ruthlessness of the Motown clergy and +Philip’s narcissism?
One of the Englewood insiders confirmed that +Philip never intended the bishops to be truly diocesan. Originally he set everything up in a way that he could have virtual complete control with little involvement of Damascus. He just miscalculated that some hierarchs would take serious their election and enthronement as diocesan bishops.
While it would appear +Mark’s problems were with Arabic clergy and laity reality says otherwise. The majority in fact were generally cooperative and supportive. The problems have centered on those who only wish to ingratiate themselves to +Philip. Although in many cases his favorite clergy have neglected following his written directives which reinforces the perception that two sets of rules exist, one for +Philip’s guys and another for the rest. The overriding dynamics reflect mutually beneficial leech-like relationships.
#14.5 Seen & heard a lot on 2010-10-28 06:24
It might be worthwhile for someone to crunch numbers on the (old) Diocese of Toledo to tease out a few factors. During Bp Mark's tenure did the diocese grow (parishes, parishioners, dues paying members, events and participation)? Was there a difference in rates of growth in different areas of the diocese (i.e., were large ethnic parishes declining, were missions growing, how did economic turmoil affect different regions of the diocese)? How does any decline in ethnic parishes compare with rates of decline in similar parishes in the Rust Belt, in the Northeast? Is any decline indicative of Bp Mark and his actions of lack thereof or of the transition from immigrant Orthodox to first- and second-generation Orthodox in the rest of the Archdiocese, in Orthodoxy in general and the American immigrant experience generally?
That is, comments would seem to indicate that the diocese was growing everywhere except in traditional ethnic strongholds in cities like Detroit. The economy in Detroit and other cities with historic immigrant communities with large churches, as well as acculturation and kids simply moving away would seem to have resulted in these churches facing significant declines in membership. This problem was placed at the feet of Bp Mark, a convert, without asking whether similar changes were going on elsewhere (and had gone on in previous immigration waves, e.g., coal country in PA, ethnic churches in the Northeast). Add to this cultural differences with some Arabs - mainly in old strongholds - and resentment over Bp Demetri's retirement and disgrace, and not liking to do anything different (e.g., serve Vespers) and the strong likelihood of financial incompetence and corner-cutting (if not also impropriety and illegality) and it's no wonder there was conflict.
Given that state of affairs, something needed to be done. One option would be to change bishops, another would have been to carve out the unhappy parishes as stavropegial or create a new diocese, attach those parishes to another diocese, etc. I'm not sure gutting self-rule and a local Synod was necessary.
I can see how not knowing "that even Metropolitan Philip would need permission from [Bp Mark] before he were to come into the region" is basic Orthodox ecclesiology around the world would be offensive to 'friends of Metropolitan Philip', but that says more about the quality of catechesis they have had in the Antiochian Archdiocese - it says little about Bp Mark.
#14.6 melxiopp on 2010-10-28 07:57
There has been some sentiment that the EA has something to do with what +Met Philip is doing. This may be true, in that he clearly wants to be "THE ONE" voice for the AOCA. That means no input from bishops, clergy or laity. He will make all the decisions. I think goes back a bit further to the time troubles in the OCA. I have gotten the distinct impression from his public comments that he was not prepared as a result of self-rule for a truly functioning and canonical brotherhood of bishops (i.e. Synod). When he looked out and saw what +Job did and how a diocese of free men might act, it appalled him. Being first among equals is not something +Met Philip had, nor wanted to contemplated.
#15 Rd. Rick Wagner on 2010-10-27 19:26
A declining diocese?
Our new Mission went from about 12 members to roughly 60 in two years under His Grace MARK. We are comprised of Lebanese, Greeks, Americans, Serbians, Russians, and people from all backgrounds. Our first Pascha saw close to 15 baptisms and chrismations. We have 5 catechumens and at least that many inquirers waiting to become catechumens. We have a fully functioning children's program with about 20 youth ( and growing). We are small, but growing, and Bp MARK always sought us out to encourage us. Nor was he one simply to speak; he continued to help us financially more than we deserved.
Our tithes jumped almost 75% when +MARK encouraged us to dig deep to enable the presence of our new parish priest. We were glad to comply because we all respect His Grace.
Pray, tell me, how exactly were we declining?? We are heartbroken over the loss of our godly bishop. We knew him, he loved us, we loved him.
I hope healing will come, but right now we are reeling from this departure of our bishop. It is from this, not the joy we had of serving under +MARK, that we will need healing.
And, I wish no ill will toward His Eminence, + PHILIP. We have benefited from his blessing and assistance as well. I pray they both have many faithful years, but right now, I am simply at a loss as to what was so unhealthy. People of all ethnic backgrounds here loved + MARK. It is hard to hear this; the last week has been one of sadness for us.
I write with no disrespect towards any of our hierarchs. But I cannot continue to hold my tongue when I hear false insinuations made toward +MARK. I cannot speak to anything else in the diocese other than our Mission, so if it suffers, then our prayers are for healing. However, Bp MARK deserves a kind word from those who have received bread, and never a stone, from his hand.
I do hope and pray that the diocese can move forward with healing from this disappointing and confusing time. God help us to keep our eyes on Christ, in Whom there is salvation.
Dr Kevin Burt
Holy Apostles Mission
Bowling Green, KY
#16 Dr. Kevin Burt on 2010-10-27 19:36
Bishop Mark will always have my respect and prayers. He is a true man of God, a true man of prayer. What has been done to him is a manifest injustice. And those involved should be ashamed.
I appreciate the drawing attention to +Philip's many self-contradictions in this memo. It shines a revealing light.
Of course, I won't be going to the parish life conference. I didn't go before +Mark was bishop. I didn't go when +Mark was bishop. I won't go after someone else is bishop.
What does this failure to meet +Philip's "expectations" mean? Will my priest be punished for my inability/unwillingness to go?
To your last statement: Quite possibly, yes. Antiochian Priests have been evaluated in the past on parish life conference attendance, memberships in the Order of St. Ignatius, etc.
#17.1 Dn. Marty Watt on 2010-10-28 16:18
For Heaven's sake, people grow up!! You are not Arabs. You are not Greek. You aren't Russians! If you live in this country and expect to stay here, you are Americans! Stop all of this senseless and unchristian bickering about nationalities! He didn't love me because I was Arab. Bah. No more than the ethnic clergy probably didn't like him because he was not Semetic. So stop it! This whole flap about the (former) diocese of the Midwest is a perfct microcosm of the situation facing the American church. With respect, Mark, transparentcy and accountability are one thing, but divisions between "us" and "them" is far more serious IMHO. If we truly are not one in Christ Jesus, then nothing else really matters. Fine. Run your diocese or archdiocese like a business, have openness, have transparentcy, but without charity and unity it is nothing at all.
#18 George Osborne on 2010-10-27 19:54
Priests and People were put under ban
But when a Bishop wants to leave, he can -
All the more I was right, I know
To sing "In exitu Israel de Aegypto"
...a Voice from the Past
#19 A Voice from the Past on 2010-10-27 20:37
I remember your voice. To know what you knew all those months ago means you are part of Metropolitan Philip's inner circle. I hope you are one of our more sane Bishops and that you and your brother bishops plan to follow Bishop Mark out of this Archdiocese, because then it will collapse and we can recover our assets.
#19.1 Gail Sheppard on 2010-10-28 11:41
As an outside observer, I can only say one thing about the AOCA. And since I'm an outsider, I am free to say it!
Nuttier than a fruitcake.
(Editor's note: Yes, well Orthodoxy as a whole is the "land of milk and honey" - which makes it, at the same time, the "land of fruits and nuts".)
#20 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-10-27 21:40
If you used to have a See, is it now a Saw?
The friendly invitation to complete participation will send chills down spines as intended. There certainly will be more enthusiastic announcements of the Parish Life Conference this Sunday, be sure of it. Duce has spoken. There will be fun.
#21 Bob Koch on 2010-10-27 21:54
I really give His Eminence credit for this move. It was bold, decisive, and warranted. This diocese has been deteriorating quickly over the last 7 years. I have been a member of this archdiocese and have lived in this midwest region for over 32 years. I spent at least 15 years in Ohio before relocating to Michigan. I am active member of the Order have served Parish Councils and have a solid reference to compare the last 7 years with what was prior. This move was necessary. Bishop Mark really should never have been placed into this diocese because did not or could not understand the culture/traditions or sensitivities of our people. I remember sitting at a banquet one time with Bishop Mark when he said that this was his diocese and that even Metropolitan Philip would need permission from him before he were to come into the region. I remember a parishioner stating that if loyalty came to Metropolitan Philp, a man that has served our archdiocese for over 40 years as metropolitan, and has close ties with our diocese, versus Bishop Mark, a convert to orthodoxy, we side with metropolitan philip. He is intimate with our people and has always been a father to us. Bishop Mark lacks the class associated with his office and doesnt understand the "ethos" or proper protocol.
(Editor's note: Thank you for sharing these comments. I think they will help many people understand the situation much more clearly.)
#22 Anonymous on 2010-10-28 03:46
Apparently in all your Lofty experience you never managed to study the relationship between bishops. A bishop can't enter a diocese without permission. All bishops are equal, so that includes +Philip.
#22.1 Michigander on 2010-10-28 18:19
Mark- I have to argree with anon above. I didnt view Sayidna's remarks as a warning. To have expectations are a good thing. Sayidna Philip is trying to turn around a situation in the midwest that has been souring for the last 5+ years. Overall membership has declined. Participation in the catechism bowls, oratoracle contests, fellowship of st. john the divine and teen soyo have all declined under his tenure. this cannot be blamed soley on the economy. I remember the midwest fellowship chapter president resigning because bishop mark chastised him in a meeting for forgetting to kiss his hand!
The sunday liturgy at parish life conferences have dwindled. Ads in the journal books are next to nothing. I remember having to get the church early on sunday services when metropolitan philip was presiding just so I could get a seat or have a decent place to stand in order to observe the service, there were so many people. Nobody participates in the chior festivals anymore. Bishop Mark has taken the joy out of it because he doesnt share a relationship with people. He used to sit in his ivory tower, surrounded by his cronies. I remember once wanting to see bishop mark when he came to our church. he was sitting at his table eating grape leaves. when i approached him to say hello, I was pulled aside by the priest and told that bishop mark did not want to be disturbed and that he was instructed to keep the people away! i cant imagine a father, who comes once a year to the parish, wanting to be kept away from the people who want to know him. thank God metropolitan philip did the right thing and took care of this situation before it had worsened.
#23 Anonymous on 2010-10-28 04:11
Even though +Mark is gone you don't have the courage to name yourself or the parish you supposedly attend? For shame. Clearly you have no fear of persecution, then what is your excuse? Why do you deserve one shred of credibility? Perhaps you are a disaffected convert? I can't imagine one of the Arab bulwarks of the diocese speaking with such cowardice.
If you name yourself, then I will disagree with your opinion based on my own personal interaction and experience as a member of a parish, which up until this week was under +Mark.
I had the exactly opposite experience, of course, where my priest insisted I meet +Mark on his first visit to the parish since I began attending, and +Mark received me warmly, even though in retrospect I had clearly flubbed the protocol for introducing myself to a bishop.
My experience of the man is not one in an ivory tower surrounded by cronies eating grape leaves, but one who after a long feast day liturgy was more concerned with the young children of the parish getting to the food first then with himself being served.
Now, I can not speak for anyone other than myself, I do not speak for my priest, or my parish. However, I am quite happy to name myself and give my opinion that from my experience that my parish felt loved by +Mark and it was broadly reciprocated.
Of course, if the anonymous gripers remain anonymous, it helps shroud what I suspect to be the case: for every parish in the diocese that had issues with +Mark, there were eight or nine more that loved him. If we was such a bad bishop and a tyrant we should be hearing rejoicing across the diocese! When your homage to the victory sequence in Return of the Jedi consists of a handful of priests from a certain state who had previously written sharp letters to the Metropolitan, it loses some of the impact. Even if they are wearing vestments.
At the moment, you do not deserve the consideration of 'difference of opinion', versus 'anonymous slander contrary to my personal experience'.
#23.1 Nathaniel Trost on 2010-10-28 08:31
"forgot to kiss his hand" or refused to kiss his hand? There is a difference and it was the latter. You are the one who has "forgot."
#23.2 observer on 2010-10-28 19:55
Your Eminence, thank you for taking care of this situation in our diocese. I pray that we can finally move back on track. We continue to pray for your good health and length of days.
#24 Anonymous on 2010-10-28 04:56
1. Citing "health reasons" sounds very Soviet to my ears.
#25 Eric (Justinian) Williams on 2010-10-28 05:01
Sadly, it sounds "Orthodox" to me...
#25.1 anon. on 2010-10-28 08:42
Dear Eric: How does Bishop Mark's sighting health reasons for declining appointment to the Northwest strike you as being "Soviet?"
As I recall, His Grace Bishop Tikhon of San Francisco cited health reasons for retiring when he did.
His Eminence Archbishop Peter, whose health was failing also cited health reasons when he requested retirement.
And certainly, the ever memorable Archbishop Kyril of Pittsburgh and Toledo could have retired due to poor health at least five years before he reposed.
And before anyone points it out, Yes, Archbishop Peter also retired because the Archdiocese of New York and New Jersey couldn't afford to pay his continuing medical bills.
Do you also believe that when priests retire for health reasons, that sounds Soviet?
In one post, someone suggested that If His Grace declined reassignment due to health reasons in a letter, then it should be published.
What a great idea. Let's verify whether or not this happened, and end the bickering over this trivial point.
And then focus on the real problem. The usurpation of Episcopal power that has been carried out by +Philip.
Also, please understand that when I called the previous point "Trivial", I don't trivialize health problems. I merely meant that this shouldn't be even a secondary focus of the ongoing debate..
What the . . . if anyone wanted to retire due to health reasons, it should be +Philip. He's had more heart attacks and surgery during his 44 year episcopate than anyone realizes. And he kept on going.
Also, consider the Late Patriarch Pavle of Serbia. The Holy Synod of that church could have consulted with the doctors, and upon discovering that he was incapable of performing his Primatial duties, they could have thanked him for his service, declared him retired, and elected a successor. Instead, they appointed a locum tennes, and His Holiness Pavle reposed as Patriarch of Serbia at 96.
And Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria is presently 95 0r 96. Why didn't he retire for health reasons when he reached 90?
As I said earlier, let's end this debate, and concentrate on the real issues, and we all know what they are.
#25.2 Mark Sudia on 2010-10-30 17:06
Once I attended a Parish Life Conference. My impression was that it focused on dances, child/teen knowledge competitions, and little else. It never occurred to me to attend another one. I left the Antiochian jurisdiction many years ago, but that is not to imply that any other jurisdiction is superior. (None is.) Even so, I'm startled by the recent actions of Met. Philip.
Someone posted what probably was intended as a slam at Bp. Mark by recounting the man's remarks on Met. Philip needing permission to visit his diocese. I was not there, so of course do not know whether the bishop uttered this with arrogance. Maybe he did, maybe he did not. The point remains -- unless I was crassly misinformed ages ago -- that what Bp. Mark said is true. A clergyman of any rank does not ever serve in another diocese, when visiting, without express permission of that diocese's bishop. This does not extend to needing permission bodily to enter the diocese [ ! ]; however, if Bp. Mark referred to Met. Philip serving while visiting his diocese, I understand him to be correct.
#26 Anonymous on 2010-10-28 07:34
Its so easy to lose your way in a blog's comboxes.. Beware.
#27 Clay on 2010-10-28 07:50
I am a Convert to the Orthodox Church and I am not in the Toledo and the Midwest Diocese. I must admit that I have been confused by the interaction with each other by both His Grace Bishop Mark and his Eminence Metropolitan Phillip. As I result , I have been trying to read both sides and find the greatest problem is that both sides seem to think that the other side knows what is wrong but ignores the issues and works its own agenda
The reality is that both sides love the Orthodox Church. Both sides are trying to make that Church conform to their idea of what the Orthodox Church is.
His Grace Bishop Mark is a well educated scholar who approaches the practices of the Orthodox Church as an ideal with the expectation of a scholar. He is Convert who was captured by the ancient practices of the Historic Byzantine Church. His reference to the role of a bishop, the role of the priest, the role of the local church as is found in the Bible, historical texts, Theologian written summaries and articles, Liturgical Typicas and Service Books, etc. His point of reference for the role of bishops seems to have come out of the Slavic rather thanthe Antiochian tradition. As a diocesan Bishop, he sought to have the Toledo and the Midwest Diocese to become the ideal example of a Diocese as written in Theory and history:
1) Daily Orthros
2) Daily Vespers
3) Saturday Vespers
4) Festal Vigil Services
5) Feasts served during the day of the feast not as Vigil liturgies.
6) Strict observance of the Fasts during Orthodox Events both in the Diocese and the Parish
7) Encouragement of the Sacrament of Confession on a frequent basis , especially during the fasts
Bishop Mark’s background indicates a searching for the "True" Church and his found it in the Orthodox Church, but with conversion he brought much of the conservatism and rigidity that one finds in an Orthodox convert from American Evangelical Protestantism. His education at Oral Roberts University (BA 1985) and his Master of Arts degree in Biblical Literature (1987) both are indicative of a very conservative evangelical education. Chrismated into the Orthodox Church in 1989, His Grace recieved his Master of Divinity degree at St. Vladimir’s in 1991. he was ordained a deacon in August of 1997 and into the Priesthood in September 1997. His understanding of the Orthodox Church had largely been theoretical and scholarly. As a conservative evangelical, he would bring with him into Orthodoxy ideals of American Evangelical thought that would include:
1) Monetary transparency (he would remember the problems that the lack of transparency brought to his Alma Mater (ORU)
2) Idealism that the Church and its people should be perfect
(derived from the American Evangelical ideal that the American (Orthodox) Church is the chosen church that should exemplify perfection)
3) Discomfort with Church activities involving the use of Alcohol, dancing, and other "non-spiritual" activities.
Add to this the common lack of understanding of most converts to the emotional attachment that the cradle-born Antiochian Orthodox feel to the social aspects of the faith ---the need to find Orthodox spouses for their children and grandchildren. The desire for the immigrant to confess in a tongue they fell comfort in confessing, and the fact that to many Orthodox with Middle Eastern (Lebanon/Syria/Palestine) backgrounds there is a cultural comfort with the way the Church has been in the Toledo and Midwest diocese that felt familiar and safe in time of turmoil against middle eastern peoples both in the US and abroad.
Does this make his Grace Bishop Mark a bad Bishop--- NO!
He was expressing an Orthodoxy that he knew by reading and scholastic study. This is how many converts enter the Orthodox Church. As a result one could expect a Convert Orthodox to be more comfortable with Bishop Mark. Converts felt that he was their bishop.
Sadly the "cradle" Orthodox in the Diocese, who were from Middle Eastern Heritage (Lebanon/Syria/ Palestine), felt unfed by Bishop Mark.
They were happy with the way the Diocese had existed for generations.
a) They were used to Priests whose primary focus was on the Divine Liturgy. The reason behind this was two-fold:
1) many priests in the early years had to work a second job to support himself and did not have time to provide daily services or even major feasts during the weekdays
2) for many years this was the only service that could be fully attended by a hard working immigrant community).
b) They looked forward to the annual family vacation to the Parish Life Conferences (and saved throughout the entire year to pay for that vacation) To them the Parish Life Conference was:
1) a place to socialize with other Antiochian Orthodox Christians
2) a place where their young people could meet future husbands and wives
3) a place where they could meet old friends and discuss everything with other people who understood them and had a common cultural point of reference
4). They did not see the Parish Life Conference as a place to be challenged or practice politics---it was a "feel good" opportunity to fellowship with other orthodox people who believed like themselves and held many of the same social practices.
5) The Hafli was a chance for that once a year diocesan fellowship party where good food, wine/other beverages, and dancing was done in full celebration of their faith and life as an Orthodox Christian. This is not unlike celebrations they had in the old country and was part of their heritage.
It is to this ideal of Antiochian Orthodoxy that most AOCNA members in the Toledo and the Midwest Diocese seem to be citing when they level their charges against Bishop Mark, they are missing the familiarity of the Church as they know it:
1) Divine Liturgies weekly for spiritual food
2) Parish Fellowship activities for emotional food
3) Parish Fund raisers to help create their social and spiritual support facilities (Temple and Parish Hall) and to pay their priest’s salary
This is how they ran their parishes. They had trust in their fellow members to pay the bills presented honestly and not be dishonest in their actions as trustees on the Parish Council. To them it was unthinkable that anyone would steal from the Church.
In Bishop Mark they found a person who did not have their joy of life because he did not understand why food, wine, and dancing would be inportant to celebrate life. In Bishop Mark they found a bishop who avoided the cultural niceties and familiarity that they had come to expect from their Bishops, but demanded an unfamiliar historical behavior without returning their expected relationships.
Bishop Mark challenged the veracity of their parish councils and inferred they were dishonest people---the very people they had entrusted for years with the running of their parish, fellowship, and spiritual life. This challenged the trust in the institutional Church they had been raised with for generations.
They were used to Bishops who perfunctorily visited them without demanding much from them. Bishops who socialized with them, remembered their names, could use the occasional Arabic word in conversation who let them know he was one of them.
Note: Reports indicate that Bishop Mark generally did better with Convert Orthodox who were more like him than he did with those who were not like him. He demanded change to a more Liturgically correct Orthodoxy that they were not used to and thus felt very foreign to them. To them Bishop Mark was teaching an Orthodoxy that they did not understand or feel at home with.
Does this make the Arab Antiochian Orthodox bad people--- NO!
His Eminence Metropolitan Phillip, understood the Toledo and the Midwest Diocese older parishes. He served in the area of what later constituted the diocese for many years and had close associations with many of the older members of the Diocese when they were young men and women. He worked very hard for the unification of the two American Antiochian Archdiocese into one and saw this as one of his most important achievements in his life. He understood their ties and expecations from their bishops. He understood the importance of the Parish Life Conferences, the SOYA, and the other activities to the Church. What he felt concern that the diocese was in turmoil and in danger of dividing the church into once again. His reactions were his efforts to not allow division of the Church.
Does this make his Emminence Metropolitan Phillip a bad Metropolitan--- NO!
Who is to blame---no one and everyone.
Bishop Mark wanted to develop a perfect Orthodox Church Diocese with his focus on Liturgical and spiritual practices. This is probably because in American Society, we divide our secular life from our spiritual life. He sought to perfect the diocese in outward worship and practice. What he missed was the need to create culture as well that integrated the needs of the American Convert and the need of the Cradle Orthodox with an existing cultural reference point.
The "Arab" members of the Toledo and Midwest Diocese, AOCNA wanted the status quo, they wanted to worship the same way their parents did, they were happy --- it worked for them and they were very welcoming to those who would adapt to their expectations and practices. Little had been demanded of them in the past spiritually and so they had begun to believe that this was normal Orthodox practice and anything more was foreign and new.
The "Convert" members of the Toledo and Midwest Diocese, AOCNA wanted greater spiritual practice. Many had come from evangelical churches that were very demanding of their members financially and public service wise. They were comfortable with change, after all they changed their entire life ---sometimes alienating family members to become Orthodox. They wanted an Orthodoxy that gave them daily spiritual sustanance and activity. They were used to Tithing, but the desire to use tithing to finance the chuch somes with a price. Many converts had personal experience with charismatic spiritual leaders who bilked them out of money and practiced financial improprieties. They wanted accountablility.
Metropolitan Phillip is personally responsible to the Patriarch of Antioch and to Our Lord for the entire Self-ruling Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. He wants to see it whole without divisions, “one unifed entity who all expected to minister, in unity, with one voice and one objective.” He is elderly and will soon have to meet his Lord and Master for Judgement, he wants to present the achievement of a unified Self-ruling Antiochian Archdiocese of North America to him. He tries to balance the needs and expectations of both the convert and the cradle within the Antiochian Church. As with many Church Leaders he progresses slowly and gradually. As he makes changes he expects gratitude for his efforts and like many elderly people, he is confused when his efforts are challenged or criticized. He wants everything to run smoothly without complaint and without division.
As I said in the beginning, we need to look at all sides and begin to discuss thing in a loving Christian manner without recriminations to each other. The reality is that both sides love the Orthodox Church. Let us use that Love we have for the Church to make it better with the help of the Holy Spirit.
May God Grant his Eminence Metropolitan Philip Many Years!
May God Grant his Grace Bishop Mark Many Years! And a successful transfer as he wished to the Orthodox Church in America.
O God save thy people and bless Thine Inheritance for Many Years!
#28 Gunter on 2010-10-28 10:45
Gunter--I am amazed how you can be there without being there. I appreciate your attempt to find the good in all sides but I do have some specific objections to what you wrote.
1. It seems that this was not strictly an Arab versus convert clash. There are many Orthodox of Arab descent who have said that they had NO problems with Bishop mark.
2. It seems that this a problem with a few Arabs, mainly in the Detroit area, who have great influence with the Metropolitan and did not want to do what Bishop mark asked them to do. This problem extended beyond priests disobeying canonical requests from their bishop to a lay person with a police record physically threatening his bishop, and parishes refusing to comply with canonical requests from their bishop. In each instance, instead of disciplining the guilty priests, lay person and parishes, the Metropolitan instead rewarded them by getting rid of their canonical bishop. Thus, aside from the uncanonical way in which +Philip tried to transfer +Mark, he is also complicit in each and every transgression that were committed bu his followers against +Mark.
3. You say that Arabs have a particular way and +Mark wanted them to do things differently. Hogwash! In my personal experience this is simply not true and is an insult to the Arab Orthodox. I have belonged to an Antiochian Church and our fellow members who were of Arab descent readily embraced tithing, Saturday vespers or any such true Orthodox practice.
#28.1 Carl Kraeff on 2010-10-28 11:49
A greatd eal have been said regarding Bishop MARK and the diocese of Toledo, sicne he is transferred to the OCA this is now all academic! Once a Bishop is nominated and elected next summer I hope all have learned from this expereince and History will not repeat itself!
I feal this whole sisuation is tragic and a great deal of ti could have been avoid. I pray they peace will prevail int hat diocese and hope this comments of personal attacks and dwelling on the past will cease!
#28.1.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-28 12:20
Thank you Carl for your response.
I have not been in Toledo and the Midwest, however in the past 20 years after my own conversion, I have seen much of what I noted in the various areas of the country I have lived. I perhaps read too much of my experiences into what I was hearing from both sides; however I do believe that in order to understand those you disagree with you need to know where they are coming from.
My presentation about the "Arab" cradle Orthodox came from them explaining to me as a convert what was important to them. The Convert presentation was a summary of my experiences over the last 20 years with other converts. My listing of the complaints of the two sides I have gotten off this site and others. I devloped this list as I tried to undertstand this issues and how they could amicably resolve their issues and return to being a light upon the hill we as the Church are called to be.
As a person not in the Diocese I do lend a credible evaluation of an outsider who is not involved personally in the two parties issues.
#28.1.2 Gunter on 2010-10-28 12:57
Thank you for your gracious response. May I raise the possibility that this is not a cultural issue, being fully aware of several attempts at trying to analyze Arab mentality. As you may be aware, the majority of the Americans of Arab descent are not off the boat and they have indeed changed into "Arabs" of a different sort. That is, I think that the majority of Archdiocesan members of Arab descent would not agree with what has happened. The vast majority of Arabs would not approve of a man with a police record appointed as an honorary trustee. The majority of them would not try to defend the indefensible. And, let us be clear here, even using your own long-distance descriptions, we have here a bishop who is guilty of nothing more than trying to be a good Orthodox bishop but is being driven out by a small number of Arabs who are claiming to have been abused and maltreated by this bishop because he is just not sensitive to their cultural differences. Either this is hubris or is a desperate effort to cover up serious irregularities. I cannot see any equivalencies here and you diminish your argument by attempting to find them. Respectfully, Carl
#18.104.22.168 Carl Kraeff on 2010-10-28 13:39
I think that the majority of Archdiocesan members of Arab descent would not agree with what has happened.
You are absolutely right about this but the sad truth is that they will NOT say it aloud or act on it. They are intimidated by the tribe's leaders , +P & his supporters who are loud and threatening. Mr. Walife is the prototype. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to remain silent. What happens in AOCA is just like the way the KKK intimidated good men in the south into silence during the civil rights movement. Those who speak out against the abuses are targeted and revenge is certain. This latest series of actions moves this whole scenario right out in the open for everyone to see. Many former AOCA members (myself included) have seen it up close and personal. Until the majority of AOCA members are willing to act against what they know to be wrong the abuses will continue and multiply.
#22.214.171.124.1 Former AOCA member on 2010-10-29 04:32
This is not really an "Arab v. Convert" issue. There are Arabs and there are Arabs, and the characters in this drama are products of a very particular time and place.
I wonder if more is going on than meets the eye. I have seen some enthusiastic cheering for the firm hand +Joseph will presumably wield as future Metropolitan. He apparently takes his liturgics and the Calendar seriously. Still cheering? Everybody?
Some cool, clear monastic voices of impeccable Antiochian pedigree are beginning to weigh in. Why here? Why now?
I don't think the people who have set certain events in motion have given much thought to how things may end up.
#126.96.36.199 Doug on 2010-10-28 14:47
So well put. Thank you for writing this amazing post. Best one I have ever read on this website.
#28.2 Happy on 2010-10-28 12:14
An attempt at a reasoned response from the "eject +Mark" POV. BUT, this does not explain the problems that Bishop Alexander (lately bishop of Ottawa) has with his malcontents led by +Philip crony Father Antony Gabriel. You going to blame that on him being a convert?
#28.3 Antionymous on 2010-10-28 13:08
"His understanding of the Orthodox Church had largely been theoretical and scholarly. As a conservative evangelical, he would bring with him into Orthodoxy ideals of American Evangelical thought"
Gunter, Bp. Mark was formerly a Roman Catholic, not an Evangelical Protestant. He had some years of parish life in the Orthodox Church before ordination. Your information is wrong. As your remarks about drinking, dancing etc are most likely wrong as well. Catholics do not share that Protestant prejudice.
#28.4 Alice Carter on 2010-10-28 14:42
Thank you for your response. You are correct, Bishop Mark was Born in Jeffersonville, Indiana, in the 1950s and baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, he later became a Pentecostal Christian, attending an Assembly of God church in Louisville, Kentucky. He attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and for a period of time before his conversion to the Orthodox Church taught Old Testament there. He later attended St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York, where he earned a M.Th. degree."[source orthodox-wiki]
Alice, I admire and recognize the good in Bishop Mark and pray for him. As a former ptotestant who converted to Orthodoxy some 20+ years agi, I identify with Bishop Mark. I am sorry that AOCNA has lost a good bishop. This does not change my analyisis that his protestant background has flavored his reactions and administration . I also acknowledge that Metropolitan Pillip likewise has been affected by his pasr experiences.
These two bishops both love and serve the Church in the way they think best---it is a shame that neither could resolve their issues by trying to understand each other. This has not helped the Church or the evangelizatiin of America.
(Editor's note: I think you make a large assumption Gunter, in suggesting that the problem is that the two could not resolve their issues because they did not understand each other. The evidence would suggest just the opposite - they understand each other too well.)
#28.4.1 Gunter on 2010-10-28 20:18
Thank you for your comments however you are mistaken about Bishop Mark not being a protestant prior to coversion. Bishop Mark at the time of his conversion to Orthodoxy was a pentecostal evangelical protestant. According to Orthodox Wiki, His Grace Bishop Mark was"Born in Jeffersonville, Indiana, in the 1950s and baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, he later became a Pentecostal Christian, attending an Assembly of God church in Louisville, Kentucky. He attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and for a period of time before his conversion to the Orthodox Church taught Old Testament there. He later attended St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York, where he earned a M.Th. degree." citation from http://orthodoxwiki.org/Mark_(Maymon)_of_Toledo.
The other issues you addressed were my personal interpretation of information I have heard from him and about him over the years. As a mediator in my professional life, I often seek to help others to understand the similarities and differences that are causing issues between them. I was trying to present a balanced evaluation on both sides of why the situation happened and how it may have been remedied by Christian charity to each other and understanding where each are coming from. You are, of course,welcome to your observations and interpretations as well, perhaps you have insight on how to heal this breach with in Our Lord's Holy Church amicably for all parties?
In closing I believe we both agree that Bishop Mark is a good Bishop and it is sad that he chose to leave the AOCNA rather than continue to work within it. However, I have nothing but good feelings toward Bishop Mark and Pray that Our Lord will Grant Bishop Mark many years and that he will find the happiness, peace. and fulfillment in the OCA that he did not find in the AOCNA.
#28.4.2 Gunter on 2010-10-29 12:00
In your analysis of the situation and the sort of 'stylistic gap' between the Metropolitan and the Bishop, aren't you leaving out a lot of facts?
Aren't you leaving out the fact that Metropolitan Philip boldly lied to his flock about his plans with the Synod? You can't seriously believe the Synod (back in old country) made the decision without Metropolitan Philip to modify the status of the Bishops to auxiliaries or whatever you goofs want to call them now. Yet, Philip maintained there was no discussion about wide and sweeping changes occuring. I'm sure the editor can add the link at the end of this post.
People can twist and shape things into whatever ball of mush they like, but your Metropolitan lied.
We heard it here before. Our former Metropolitan didn't want an investigation 'for the good of the church'. But we know the real reason. It was for the good of the few. Philip Saliba is no different. He wants to protect a few of his cronies from audit.
If he didn't, then publicly audit. Audit everything.
Otherwise, he is just like Joseph 'Herman' Swaiko. A .... who operated a cover because he thinks it is needed 'for the good of the church'.
But we know the truth friend. Its all bullkaka.
But you go ahead and change it into whatever you need it to be for it to work in your brain so you can keep your ties and not disrupt your life too much and that is just fine.
From this chair where I really don't give a damn, I can see pretty clearly. Philip Saliba will lie when he feels it is needed. And for all the good things people might say he has done, all I see is a .... liar. Rather than analysis that works for you, why don't you investigate how many other things he has lied about? For starters, he cited the cost of an audit, why don't you ask to see the quotes? Or, how about the priests he has made into paupers, there is probably a list? And since I'm a peripheral outsider, I don't know all the details about Joe Allen, or Demetri Khoury, but what about those issues?
And for those tough Arabs who are offended by the fact that Philip Saliba is nothing more than a ....liar in my eyes; bring it.
Keep up the honest reporting Mark Stokoe. Maybe one day Orthodoxy in America will be different and not full of liars and scumbags because of this website and the continued rug lifting and cockroaches scrambling.
And Happy, Most times when someone is happy, they aren't afraid to say their name.
#188.8.131.52 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-10-30 21:03
Thank you for your corrections to my assumptions about B. Mark, Gunter. At the moment I am researching the impact of Protestant Evangelical converts on the theology and ecclesiology of our church,for which the ministry of B. Mark may be instructive. His Protestant background is not in the biography I found.
#184.108.40.206 Alice Carter on 2010-11-01 11:06
>>"They were used to Bishops who perfunctorily visited them without demanding much from them. Bishops who socialized with them, remembered their names, could use the occasional Arabic word in conversation who let them know he was one of them."
Much more could be said about your reading of the situation. But let me focus on a couple of points.
"Bishops who socialized with them, remembered their names,...". In all fairness, I'm not sure non-convert bishops fill this bill either.
"Bishops who socialized with them, remembered their names..." all too many "celebrations" include the handy segregation of the clergy from the laity. All too often I've seen the effort to put the clergy first or have a "clergy only" table" at functions. What is that about? That's supposed to encourage interaction with the auxiliary bishop?
As for throwing in some Arabic so that you can show that you're in the "in crowd" --- get serious. If you're not fluent, it's tres gauche. You're just pretending and everyone else will know it and know that you are a fake. Throwing in "native" terminalogy won't impress anyone unless the speaker really has the chops. Basically, what you're saying, he never had a chance
#28.5 Curiouser etc on 2010-10-29 00:59
Being new to the Antiochian Orthodox Church, could someone bring me up to speed on the problems that +Mark inherited? What is the Toledo/New York split? What is meant by "the experiences and paradigms of specific Arab groups"? I have been scandalized by the actions of Metropolitan Philip. I'm trying to make sense of what to do---and where to go with my family. We are praying for discernment as to whether we should follow +Mark to the OCA.
#29 Michael on 2010-10-28 10:58
Check out http://orthodoxhistory.org
Search under "Toledo" and "Raphael Hawaweeny" and "Antony Bashir" and you should start being able to put the pieces together. I don't think we've published an overview article. Basically, there were two Syro-Arab groups from the time of St. Raphael's death and in 1936, two bishops were ordained for America, one for Toledo and one for New York. The groups were unified later during Metropolitan Philip and Metropolitan Michael in 1975. You may also read:
I pray all the best for you and your discernment. I, for one, have always felt welcome in the OCA, though I have friends who are and will remain within the AOCANA.
Whenever we have visited OCA churches and monasteries, we have always been warmly welcomed. The AOCANA Church we now attend is also very warm and loving. We have many friends here and a good priest. But what I am seeing from +Philip does not seem to fit with what I have studied about Orthodox Ecclesiology. Many have said to me that I should ignore this because it does not affect me. But it does affect me! The Church consists of the hierarchs and the clergy and the people. Thank you for the links. I will study more about the history of the AOCANA.
St Mark of Ephesus pray for us!
#29.1.1 Michael on 2010-10-28 12:40
As a convert, like yourself Michael, I was confused about the 2 Archdioceses. Here is what I found out.
Following the death of St Raphael of Brooklyn and the impoverishment of the Russian Orthodox Church in America and its small Syro-Arabian Mission after the Bolshevik Revolution, divisiveness hit the Orthodox Church in the United States. Some communities desired to remain under the jurisdiction of the Russian Church, while others opted to be received into the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch. The hierarchs of that period were: Metropolitan GERMANOS (Shehadi), Archbishop AFTIMIOS (Ofiesh), Archbishop VICTOR (Abo-Assaley), and Bishop EMMANUEL (Abo-Hatab). By 1936, all of the parishes were in one or two Antiochian archdioceses—the Archdiocese of New York, headed by Metropolitan ANTONY (Bashir) and the Archdiocese of Toledo, Ohio, and Dependencies, headed by Metropolitan SAMUEL (David). Hurt feelings between the two groups made it so that parishes from one Archdiocese did not even speak to the Archdiocese’s parishes. In some areas, there would be an Antiochian parish on one corner and an Antiochian parish on another conrner that belonged to different Archdioceses but never even acknowledged the existence of the other.
Metropolitan PHILIP broke with tradition and personally called on Archbishop MICHAEL and discussion about unifying the two Archdioceses into one Archdiocesan witness. On June 24, 1975, Metropolitan PHILIP (Saliba) of the Antiochian Archdiocese of New York and Metropolitan MICHAEL (Shaheen) of the Antiochian Archdiocese of Toledo, Ohio, and Dependencies signed the Articles of Reunification which restored administrative unity among all Antiochian Orthodox Christians in the United States and Canada. Metropolitan MICHAEL insisted that Metropolitan PHILIP be the head of the new Archdiocese because he was a younger man and Metropolitan MICHAEL knew that it would take years to heal the hard-feelings and divisiveness of the past. This document was presented to the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate, which ratified the contents on August 19, 1975, recognizing PHILIP as Metropolitan-Primate and MICHAEL as Auxiliary-Archbishop.
Metropolitan PHILIP remembers the old days of disunity and the problems it presented in presenting a unified Orthodox Christianity to America. This is one of the reasons that you will see him speaking of Orthodox Unity and evangelization of America. This also has great impact upon how he reacts to disunity within the Archdiocese.
#29.2 Gunter on 2010-10-28 12:28
It is a shame that he is willing to sacrifice his heritage of unity on the altar of uniformity and control.
#29.2.1 Antionymous on 2010-10-29 03:56
Gunter: Essentially, you're correct about the divisions in the Archdiocese.
However, there is more to it than that. And sadly, it has to do with a lack of communication between The Metropolia under His Eminence Metropolitan Theophilus, R.O.C.O.R, then under Metropolitan Anasstassy, and the Patriarch of Antioch.
This may have been the only time in history that two bishops were consecrated for the same diocese on the same day, by two different synods of bishops.
Yes, that's right two bishops consecrated the same day.
His Grace bishop, (later Metropolitan) Samuel David was consecrated by Metropolitan Theophilus and bishops of the Metropolia as their Bishop of Brooklyn.
Because of a lack of communication between the Metropolia amd R.O.C.O.R., His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony Bashir was consecrated the same day by Bishops of R.O.C.O.R. and the Church of Antioch.
This simply renewed the schism that existed prior to 1933.
Worse yet, consider the canonical irregularity of there being two Metropolitans representing the Same Patriarch in the same territory at the same time.
Fom my reading oft the events of the time, I recall that Metropolitans Anthony and Samuel David attempted to unify on several occasions, and were unsuccessful.
In fact, I think there were times when they were at least cordial enough to concelebrate together, and commemorate one another at divine services.
At other times, they were actually at odds with one another. Isn't brotherly love wonderful???
Then, old age and death came to both Metropolitans, Bishop Michael succeeded Metropolitan Samuel David in 1961, and Bishop Philip succeeded Metropolitan Anthony in 1966.
Then, as you correctly pointed out, Metropolitans Philip and Michael signed the historic act of unification in 1975, and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America was born.
This was an historic event in the lives of both Archdiocese, just as the more recent unification of R.O.C.O.R. and the Russian Orthodox Church, (Moscow Patriarchate) was when it transpired.
And the rest, as they say is history. And recent events have certainly been. . . contentious.
Above all, all Archdiocesan Faithful should pray that God works out the present problem (s). For when He does, then the solution (s) will please him and all involved parties.
#29.2.2 Mark Sudia on 2010-10-29 07:09
(1) Fatigue makes me want to scream "Convert, Schmonvert"! Stop the nonsensical perpetuation of this non-existent dividing line! We have disagreements among varying cultures (American, Protestant, Greek, Russian, Arab, and so forth), but that is ALL. Some of the disagreements are of no moment, others are more serious clashes. Once that person is submerged in the regenerative waters of Holy Baptism, however, he or she emerges as an Orthodox Christian. There is no past any longer, only a Christian future.
(2) "conservatism and rigidity. . ." . . . This is the standard absurd and derogatory stereotype slapped on individuals who love the historic Orthodox faith and who feel it worth their loving submission to its teachings and practices.
(3) People from U.S. culture are not all country bumpkins incapable of understanding alien (traditional use of this word) cultures and of the strong influences (both emotional and cultural) exerted upon Orthodox people with family backgrounds from outside of the U.S. We have the brains to learn at least the rudiments of foreign languages, and often we do. (Sometimes we become -- gasp! -- fluent.) The desire for ones children to marry within the faith is not endemic solely to people from abroad. I spent a number of terror-filled months not long ago, fearing that a child was going to abandon the faith and marry outside of the Church. (God was merciful in the end.) Yes, "Americans" can err in their attitudes and actions when in the presence of a "foreign culture". But "our ways" are not superior to "their ways", and "they" err toward us just as much. In the Holy Church, however, we come together as Christians. I thank and glorify God for the more than thirty years in the faith which I have spent among Greek, Arab, Russian, Romanian, and American Orthodox cultures, blessed by the companionship and prayer fellowship of individuals whose Orthodox Christianity serves God, rather than fractious wrangling.
Sometimes I have read enough that I have to speak up.
#30 Antonia Colias on 2010-10-28 12:31
How does one answer a tyrant?
It surely depends on outcomes.
For the tyrant thinks the outcomes are ordained by him alone.
But in America, revolution breaks the backs of tyrants.
If I were in the AOCA, I'd leave. It'd be the only solution. Had Metropolitan Herman and Kondratick stayed in power, I'd have left, maybe to return after they were gone.
I'm sure it'll sound like an OCA ad campaign, but I am not suggesting/advocating you leave to the OCA. Just leave for any Orthodox church, or just leave the church. Jesus doesn't tell us we can't be saved if we leave corrupt bishops to their corruption.
If you don't leave, then you've answered the tryant.
#31 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-10-28 14:27
These are good thoughts Daniel. Having left the OCA under the leadership of Herman and sought refuge in the AOCA, and then been betrayed by the Philip and sought refuge in the OCA, I understand what you are saying. We must seek the Truth, that is our Lord Jesus Christ, if we are truly His disciples. Although Holy Apostolic Tradition in the Church will lead us along the Way to Truth and Life, it is becoming more difficult to find the Way amongst the corruptions in the Church. I am becoming more understanding of those who delt with the same issues almost 2,000 years ago.
#31.1 Marc Trolinger on 2010-10-28 15:43
What about "roots?" What about the trauma of constantly dislocating your family? What about courage and tenacity to stick around and be a part of the solution?
Church hopping is a faulty American answer to church issues. You will never be part of a perfect jurisdiction. If you find one, please don't join and bring your baggage with you.....
(Editor's note: Without advocating going or staying, may I ask what is "the solution?" More importantly, what do you see as "the problem that needs solving?" )
#31.1.1 Antionymous on 2010-10-29 04:00
>>What about "roots?" What about the trauma of constantly dislocating your family? What about courage and tenacity to stick around and be a part of the solution?
>>Church hopping is a faulty American answer to church issues.
So, what about following your bishop? (The righteous one uncanonically forced out of his diocese, I mean.) That's not church hopping. That's what faithful priests and parishes are supposed to do! He's not called "archpastor" for nothing. (Or maybe it is for nothing...? Wouldn’t that be sad, indeed!!) If the bishop is not betraying the Church and the Faith and if it's not just a matter of his personal opinion, then -- and I mean this literally-- why in God's name would you not follow your diocesan bishop? The sheep are supposed to follow their shepherd, which is what "pastor" means, after all. Don't disparage people for following their bishop as if that were a problem! It’s what we are supposed to do so long as the bishop isn't leading us away from the Kingdom of God in His Church today and the Age to Come. It's part of being Orthodox, for crying out loud. St. Ignatius wrote about this 1,900 years ago! (as the Antiochian Bishop of all people -- note the irony!)
And if a poor mission church has no property and barely supports their priest... well, that's all the more freedom to follow the bishop, since MP doesn't have any real-estate or financial leverage yet. He can’t seize what's not there. And if he does have leverage, well… Fr. Elias covered that eloquently in post #93 in the other thread (+Philip Silences His Bishops). God, bless the priest Elias!
This whole situation seems so simple to me, but then again, I'm just an arrogant idiot. Why listen to me...? (If you’re not going to do that, you could at least pray to the Lord to be merciful to me.)
#220.127.116.11 Irrelevant on 2010-10-29 16:32
Bravo, mon frere. I appreciate you gettign your irish up about this as you should. I'm just bouncing stuff out there as we all try to figure this out. If I was in Bp. Mark's diocese, I am sure I would try to follow him as well. I wonder what they will end up looking like?
#18.104.22.168.1 Antionymous on 2010-10-30 09:59
Well, what if your bishop tells you to stay put and be patient? I think everyone is assuming Bp MARK would advise people to leave... a big assumption. It just may be that he would (or has?) given different advice. He may disagree with +PHILIP, but I've yet to hear him speak disrespectfully or with ill intent of his brother bishop/metropolitan.
Dr. Kevin Burt
Holy Apostles Antiochian Orthodox Mission
Bowling Green, KY
Diocese of Toledo
#22.214.171.124.2 Dr. Kevin Burt on 2010-10-30 14:49
Too true, my good man. However, allow me to clarify. The thesis of my rant above was directed against the charge of “church hopping” for people following their bishop. That is not church hopping. That’s what really got my goat and set me off even further than I already needed to be, I fear. (Sorry about that, by the way. Forgive me, all. You have my apologies for my excessive zeal. And for too many exclamation points, but Fr. Elias gets to keep his. )
To follow a pastor / archpastor does not only mean to obey his teachings or stated instructions, nor to do nothing and wait until any may be stated. It also means to accept his leadership and emulate his choices as your own. “Be an example to the faithful in word, in conduct” and all that other stuff we read in 1st Timothy 4:12. Examples are to be copied, by definition. And a bishop’s leadership is by example most of all. When it’s not we call it hypocrisy. Yet, to your point, a bishop can be in a unique situation where he may have to do differently than his flock. It’s always good to ask his advice. (Sarcasm alert) Is that even allowed in this case?
And you are correct again. We have not heard disrespect from Bp. Mark. Nor do I expect that we will. If that were his way, his departure would not have stirred up so many emotions. Who loves a bad-mouther? It’s because of injustice such as theft and lying as in the OCA’s recent troubles or when the humble and righteous are persecuted for righteousness sake as in this case, that the people of the Church tend to get upset.
#126.96.36.199.2.1 Irrelevant on 2010-11-01 17:18
My understanding of Orthodox Christianity is that we are to put down our roots in the undivided Church in Heaven.
We "lay aside all earthly cares" so that we can all be in Communion during the Divine Liturgy with all the Faithful on earth and in Heaven.
To truly "lay aside all earthly cares" requires that we all leave our baggage behind.
#188.8.131.52 Marc Trolinger on 2010-10-30 08:01
Yet I have many dear brothers and sisters in the Faith who have, and will, remain in their respective parishes despite the failures of Church leadership.
Although some of them may be unaware of the harmful actions of Church leaders, I suspect that most of them are more patient and thus better Christians than I.
#31.1.2 Marc Trolinger on 2010-10-29 04:59
I understand your frustration. I understand and won't think badly of anyone who decides to leave the AOANA because they feel they are doing so for their spiritual health or the health of their families.
However, two points should be made, at least.
First, it is easy to convince oneself that one is leaving "for spiritual reasons" when, in fact, on is leaving because of anger.
Second, it is not always, simply put, so easy.
Take my situation. We have a single Orthodox presence in our city, an Antiochian Mission. With only about 60 people, including children, our budget is heavily dependent on a few family units with stable incomes. One of those families leaves, and all of the sudden our budget become perilously unable to support our new priest, a good man with a wife and three children.
I think it a bit hasty to say that someone in our position who fails to leave the AOANA has "answered to the tyrant."
As much as I disagree with things, this situation is hardly close to many much worse situations in church history. It was far worse for most Jews living in the time of the minor prophets, when scarcely a sound priest could be found, and the temple was a festering site of whores and greed and idols in high places. I'm not sure the solution was ever to "leave." There is a powerful statement made in support of truth by those who stay and speak truth amidst problems patiently, respectfully. The very fact that they do that without any "visible success" is a testimony to truth.
Again, I fault no one who leaves for truly noble reasons. But, I think we need to be careful in faulting those who stay for the same. Many of us stay because it is the only place we have. If I cannot be a faithful Christian in an AOANA parish, do I truly have the ability to be one anywhere that I am in a minority?
Kevin L. Burt
Bowling Green, KY
#31.2 Dr. Kevin Burt on 2010-10-28 20:41
Of course, you, your mission, and your priest could be brave and simply leave the Despot Philip behind and move en masse to another jurisdiction. At least one other mission has taken this path - why not you?
#31.2.1 Heracleides on 2010-10-29 16:40
Be brave? There are many forms of bravery, friend, and not all involve running for greener pasture when the going gets tough.
Further, following Christ is not simply a matter of "bravery"; it also entails gentleness, love, forbearance, faith.
I think it takes bravery to sign one's name to a letter of disagreement. It takes bravery, I think, to speak respectfully to a bishop when one disagrees with him. I'm not sure, in this country, how running off to another jurisdiction is "brave." Perhaps it is in some contexts; more often, I suspect it involves "showing ___ how I feel!"
As I said to Daniel, I will fault no one for leaving if they do so for pure motives. I hope, though, that for the sake of our venerable heritage from Antioch, that enough people who care will remain so as continue the struggle to work this out. You may think it cannot be done, and I'll respect that.
But for some of us, the only balanced path seems to be remaining where we are, speaking the truth in love, listening to those with whom we disagree (but with whom we share the chalice) and continuing to trust in God.
"Put not your trust in princes or sons of men, in whom there is no salvation." To this I might add, "...nor in fast chariots to carry me away to other princes and sons of men." Fr. Hopko has often said, when speaking of how to be saved, "Stay put if at all possible."
Dr. Kevin L. Burt
Holy Apostles Antiochian Orthodox Mission
Bowling Green, KY
#184.108.40.206 Dr. Kevin Burt on 2010-10-30 08:44
Recieved this pertinent offering in my in-box this AM:
Here is a story told about Elder Paisios
A group of monks from Mount Athos, who were somewhat sensitive, were thinking of stopping commemorating the name of Patriarch Demetrios during the service, because they claimed he had publicly expressed a positive attitude towards the Vatican. They went to Father Paisios to express their unbending opinion on the matter, and were bombarding him with various arguments to support their decision to stop commemoration of the Patriarch.
When they asked him for his opinion, he replied:
- What can I say? I am also very disappointed with our prime minister. He has destroyed Greece by passing so many anti-church laws, even though the Greek constitution is written in the name of the Holy Trinity. I cannot bear this situation any more, and for this reason, I decided to leave Greece and Mount Athos and go to Sinai.
The monks replied:
- For God's sake, Father, don't do such a thing. Don't leave because of the prime minister, for any day now he will fall and we will find our peace of mind.
The Elder told them smiling:
- You do the same thing just as you have advised me to do. Be patient because it is not right to be detached from the Church of Christ. We must pray to God to enlighten the officials of our Church to teach rightly the word of truth.
#220.127.116.11.1 Antionymous on 2010-11-01 05:27
The one issue that seem to be at the center of this Kevin, is the enabling of harmful actions by Church leaders due to the ignorance and/or inaction on the part of the laos. If you are aware of a problem and do not act to end the enabling by speaking up and cutting off resources, are you then contributing to the problem? If you are aware, and yet most of your fellow parishioners are ignorant, do you act to inform them and take responsibility for introducing potential division in your parish? Theses are issues that can have a great deal to do with whether one stays in their parish, or leaves.
I believe Fr. Tom's advise "to stay put if at all possible," would probably be Bp. Mark's advise as well. However, I know from personal conversations with Bp. Mark that he is very sensitive to concerns regarding the enabling of wrong doing by Church leaders. He also recognizes that sometimes a change in parish home is the best action.
#18.104.22.168.2 Marc Trolinger on 2010-11-01 06:44
Thank you for your thoughts; they are well spoken and taken. Having kept in touch with Bp MARK, I am following the path that my conscience, my (former) bishop,and my spiritual fathers are guiding me to take.
The Church has seen far worse times than these.
#22.214.171.124.2.1 Dr. Kevin Burt on 2010-11-01 17:03
Thanks for your kind response Kevin.
Because mission parishes like yours are truly the good news concerning Orthodox Christianity in North America, I hope and pray that you and our brothers and sisters there will weather this storm and grow in the Faith.
#126.96.36.199.2.1.1 Marc Trolinger on 2010-11-01 20:26
Actually, Dr. Burt, had Herman and Bob Kondratick held power in the OCA and failed to audit and stop the madness and get their just reward for ex-communing Kozey, I would have stopped my participation in the OCA.
Had the OCA not answered the serious questions about the 9/11 funds, I would have stopped my participation in the OCA.
Had lies and deceit and corruption at the highest levels continued, I would have stopped my participation in the OCA.
For years, my mother and father did their best to keep church in my life even though a Greek church was all we had available. My Dad would even sing us the Troparion on holidays so we'd get it in English.
Life is sometimes about hard choices and they aren't always simple. But to say you won't participate today doesn't speak for tomorrow's plan. To go somewhere else, even to Commune, doesn't speak for tomorrow.
One person here said it probably best. All those people that were under Bishop Mark should leave. Metropolitan Philip is a liar, nothing more. He even lied about his intent in Syria for Pete's sake. How many lies will you tolerate just for your coffee clatch? How much bullying will you watch for your potluck?
I guess you can deny that portion of the Liturgy under your breath if it feels better,, but at some point, how much disgust do you really want to drink and chew? You've got to be disgusted if you have really watched this guy operate.
Bishops come and go, it is true, but I think the more serious problem is your Metropolitan. I wouldn't tolerate it a minute and he solidified his ability to do whatever he pleases. Even your lay council can't stop him.
I don't write under a nom-de plume, but with the corruption I've watched, I'm wondering if it would be wiser.
There should be an exodus; it would be right. An exodus away, I won't tell you where to go, but I know a place where they are trying to get it right and got rid of their bad Metropolitan.
Fr. Oliver Herbel is a convert and I consider him a friend (a bias qualifying note). He took his parish and left because he was wise enough to know how horrible a tyrant Metropolitan Philip has become.
The Orthodox church can't grow under the GOA because the Greeks have a terrible stereotype of xeniphobia. ROCOR is too Russian, the Antiochians are too Arab (that has certainly been made fact in the past months). I can't imagine why any orthodox convert would want to participate in any of them.
#31.2.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-10-30 21:47
I cannot speak to the situation you describe in the OCA, being mostly unfamiliar with it.
Your advocacy of a mass exodus troubles me, though. I simply don't see anything of the sort advocated by the Fathers, the Saints, etc. My goodness, Daniel, there has been corruption in every generation, in every jurisdiction. The Saints' advice was to be holy in spite of what those around you were doing, not to flee looking for a better church.
If you must leave for your salvation, as I said, I hold no grudge against you. I must follow my conscience (and the advice of my former bishop and my spiritual fathers).
"How many lies will you tolerate just for your coffee clatch? How much bullying will you watch for your potluck?
I guess you can deny that portion of the Liturgy under your breath if it feels better..."
Daniel, I hope you may reconsider that those of us who stay to struggle through this situation do not all do so for a "potluck." It is unfortunate that Orthodox Christians would make such careless comments and judgments towards their brethren they do not know. I have repeatedly said that I will not judge those who choose to leave; my hope would be that they would return the charitable favor. As your brother, I would simply ask that you try to see us in a better light; I certainly assume that you do what you do in a sincere attempt to follow our common Lord.
And if you refer to the part of the Liturgy where we pray for Metropolitan PHILIP.... no I don't hold my breath. I pray for him now just as I have always prayed for him. He is my Metropolitan, whether I disagree with him or not.
Further, if Orthodoxy teaches me anything, it is that I need his prayers more than he needs mine, or at least that is the attitude I must possess.
So, if you know me to be a coward, or uncaring, then forgive me. And pray for us who remain in the AOANA. I am confident that most of the people in my Mission -- my brothers and sisters whom I love -- need prayers for things far more likely to endanger our salvation than what archdiocese we are in. I know that this is true of myself.
#188.8.131.52 Dr. Kevin Burt on 2010-11-01 17:14
I will give you the last word on this one; my last post here. I have stated in most all of my posts that I am in the OCA. I did not leave the OCA, but would have if the corruption and deceit had not stopped.
Some of our churches did what they could do within their locus of control to deal with the demons. They put their assessments in escrow and did so collectively as a parish. In the absence of this type of effort; leaving is a sound solution.
Answer the tyrant.
The only real sound reason for removing Bishop Mark was to remove the ability for the Bishop to require audit and it is factual that removing Bishop Mark eliminates audit. And the Metropolitan lied to people about his intention to change the status of bishops. These are serious, serious issues.
I'm not calling for an exodus to the OCA, I'm just saying, no way would I stay under the circumstance of a Metropolitan that so boldly lied and now has full control. I couldn't do it.
Good luck, I will pray that God forgive Metropolitan Philip and for the sake of Orthodoxy, I will pray Metropolitan Philip retire ASAP. People don't flock to liars. The only mission of the church fathers is to spread the word of the gospel and they can't do it without credibility. He has none with me and according to him he has millions of dollars, so he is also boastful and wasteful to add to my perspective of this fellow.
He has lost his way if you are asking me and no one ought to follow a lost leader.
#184.108.40.206.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-11-02 18:02
I believe it would benefit +Pope Philip to read and peruse Fr Hopko's recent Reflections on this website, especially the one entitled, "Vatican II and the Orthodox Bishops." +Philip has long had a pattern of vacillation in his behavior (first, there was Self-Rule, then Semi-(or, Pseudo-)Self-Rule, then, once again, Self-Rule; likewise, first there were diocesan bishops, then auxiliaries). It seems that Fr Georges Florovsky's famous observation about "the Western captivity of the Orthodox Church" is even more applicable today than when he first spoke those words!
#32 David Barrett on 2010-10-28 15:55
Assuming that +Mark was the type of Bishop those happy with his leaving state that he was, the question should be raised, who had such poor judgment to place him in this position? I'm reasonably certain that he didn't usurp the position. He didn't insist on being made the Bishop of Toledo. Who could have been such a poor judge of his character?
#33 Timothy Nixon on 2010-10-28 18:18
You want to know who are the supporters of MP watch the video at the following link
It is story of an alleged murder and the manhunt that followed. Most important is a key witness against the defendant. It is Walid Kalife's brother, Jamal, who also makes several appearances on my video. His offences were blotted out for testimony.
You will note that another parishioner, William Swor, is in tow.
Scroll down to the RECENT EPISODES section, and chose the picture showing a man in four photos, with different looks, with the caption firstname.lastname@example.org
around the 20 minute mark you will see Jamal.
Watch and you wuill hear of his felony offences as well.
Is he the same one arrested for throwing traffic cones at the police and running an employment scam a year ago.
He was on parish council in St George Troy, MI as well.
#34 anonymous on 2010-10-28 18:33
And here we have the reason why Bishop Mark was not the right fit for the parishes in Detroit. The Arab "mafia" didn't want an honest bishop. But if they could have gotten Bishop Demetri back all their problems would be solved:
a convicted sex offender to take care of convicted felon parish council members and a priest who forged a signature of the deceased treasurer.
#34.1 Iskandra Tannous on 2010-10-28 20:33
I think NOW we have the REAL answer that some have been asking for, plain and simple. Consider the difference between the two bishops, who would love and accept whom.
#34.1.1 pelagia on 2010-10-30 11:19
everything is going to be all right.. REALLY, WELL JUST TO LET YOU KNOW BISHOP THOMAS ,NOTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT as long as Bishops remain cowards, deaf and dumb mutes to include being eunuchs! SHAME ON YOU AND YOUR BOSS! JESUS HELP US ALL DURING THESE DAYS OF AWFUL SHAME!
#220.127.116.11 fr. theodore on 2010-11-04 14:37
Believe me, Bishop DEMETRI is being more of a example of Christ than you are at this moment in time. It's called repentance and confession, have you heard of it?
#34.1.2 Happy on 2010-11-01 08:56
Funny that we haven't heard much lately about that very parish under which runs a direct fault line to Englewood. I am still convinced after conversations with some coursins(no longer attending that parish) that if this nut is finally cracked, a whole lot of miles toward the better in AOCA can be traveled.
#34.2 Dorothy Durany on 2010-10-29 12:47
Just curious....anyone still want to entrust the entire Church in America to these Old World patriarchates....so we can all end up with glorious leaders issuing thunderbolts from Mt Olympus?
This is a real time lesson folks..the ONLY safeguard against this nonsense is a united church, defined as Locally elected bishops (not auxiliaries) sitting in synod. Real bishops with real powers, working in concert with the laity and the clergy.
We will all answer for our actions...irrespective of whether we wore an episcopal crown. One would think someone so near to that point might show some humility.
Bishop Mark deserved better...perhaps he is getting his reward now.
Pity the poor Antiochian converts who, like me, have believed in Met. Philip's unity rhetoric for so many years. My heart really goes out to you. This too shall pass.
God must really be getting us ready for something...i.e., cleaning out the OCA, now disembowling the AOCA - the shining stars of Orthodoxy on this continent for years.
It takes a lot to make the Greeks look good, but His Eminence is coming very close. And for those of us who went thru the Spyridon years...this has the eerie feeling of deja vu.
Lord Have Mercy!
#35 Dean Calvert on 2010-10-28 19:36
Hey anon with the info regarding Jamal...get a grip. Nobody cares about your videos. It really doesn't matter. If you think this changes anything, you are wrong. You are simply upset because things didn't your way so you have to sling mud. Use your energies for something more constructive.
(Editor's note: To be fair, I think you would have say it is CBS slinging mud, not anonymous. And to be fair to CBS, they don't even know what the Archdiocese is, so I doubt you can call it mud-slinging....)
#36 Anonymous on 2010-10-28 19:52
While His Eminence is still an enigma (Is he just old, out of touch an dpower hungry.....or are is there really some serious corruption and larceny going on?), much of the debate between his supporters and the detractors, lies in the are of "possessiveness." We see this all the time at our parishes, and most of us are guilty of it at one time or another. MY cleros. MY choir directors stand. MY kitchen. MY job. MY altar (Lord have mercy). MY CHURCH!
On one hand, to take responsibilty and stewardship over a function of the Church is how the local parish continues to operates. "Aunt Susie always buys the Pascha flowers." But on the other hand, the enemy of our souls turns this healthy sense of responsibility into ownership and control. We see someone else, especially someone new, as a threat.
I fear the faithful members of this archdiocese see converts as a threat, and feel they are losing their church.
But, brothers and sisters. Its God's Church. Not mine, not yours and not Met. Philip's. We must be responsible for GOD's Church and give up our insane and demonic need to control.
#37 Antionymous on 2010-10-29 04:17
Resign from the Order of St Ignatius!!!!!!!
No Audit! No Money!
No Diocesan Bishops! No Money!!!!!!
No Bishop Mark!! No Money!!!!!!!!!
Say no to Philip in the ONLY LANGUAGE he understands - No Money!!!!!!!!!!!!
#38 Former order member on 2010-10-29 05:05
You have it right. It is time to leave the archdiocese (diocese). Stop sending money to support the millionaire bishop. Drop out of the Order.
Witchita if you have lawyers who have IRS connections and can put met. Philip on the hot seat, do it now! Bishop Basil will not be able to become the next met.
Bishop Joseph is the patriarch' godson and he loves him like a son. Bishop basil has no chance so stop the politics and get to work. Otherwise this pseudo-archdiocese will be an ethnic remnant like the Ukrainians who are under the EP.
#38.1 Iskandra Tannous on 2010-10-29 14:20
When I first read this article, I had no idea what a "locum tenens" was, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. Seems like the Danes have a pretty good understanding of the term as it relates to the recent goings-on in the Archdiocese.
(Editor's note: ROTFL. I could not for the life of me understand what you were talking about, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. Far down in the citation is the following: " In Denmark, the word has for a long time referred to a toilet in form of barrel with a seat on top (stemming from the Latin word locus=place). It was emptied by horse wagon in the night. It also fulfills the duty of others.
Locum tenens is also a name given to a temporary hierarch in the Eastern Orthodox Church, e.g. locum tenens of the Russian Orthodox Church."
Somebody needs to rewrite the article so the two are not con-joined! )
#39 Edmund on 2010-10-29 06:34
From Wikipedia. Far down in the citation is the following: " In Denmark, the word has for a long time referred to a toilet in form of barrel with a seat on top (stemming from the Latin word locus=place). It was emptied by horse wagon in the night. It also fulfills the duty of others.
Locum tenens is also a name given to a temporary hierarch in the Eastern Orthodox Church, e.g. locum tenens of the Russian Orthodox Church."
We use a locum tenens at our place when the power goes out and there is no water from the well coming into the house. It's a 5 gallon bucket with sawdust or shavings inside.
It actually means: 'one holding the place' (of another to be permanently assigned).
Jim of Oly
#39.1 jim of Olym on 2010-10-29 18:29
Folks this is not about cultural divides.
It’s about the super ego and questionable ethics that preside in Troy. The compromised ministry in Livonia. The scandalous behavior in Akron. The players of which, have surgically fed the paranoia of Metropolitan Philip.
Add to the above, serious financial questions in Englewood, Troy, and God knows where else and there was only one course of action, get rid of Bishop Mark or else risk being uncovered and facing the unacceptable consequences. Why else would the Sacred Canons be so recklessly dismissed?
In the final analysis, it’s all about unbridled, corrupt freedom and privilege. It’s all about the money and the power it buys.
#40 Former Philipian on 2010-10-29 07:12
Antiochian.Org is already advertising the 2011 Parish Life Conference for the Midwest. Any irony in the fact it is being held in Strongsville OH?
#41 anonymous on 2010-10-29 08:19
+ Philip has strong ties in Cleveland, Ohio. He probably has his annual heart check-up at the Cleveland Clinic at this time. If we're lucky, he'll announce his retirement!
#41.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-29 14:44
Metropolitan served as a Priest at st. George Church in clevland from 1959-1966: until he was conscrated MEtropolitan. It is understandable he will attend that conference due to these strong ties, it is the parish 100th annivserary and due to the internal issues with the diocese
He does his heart checkup in florida every winter.
#41.1.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-30 13:54
The Greeks and the Arabs are trying to hold on to their "old Country roots" through the Orthodox Church. They are afraid of the other Orthodox coming into their parishes--whether they are ethnically Russian, Serbian, Irish, English, French, "mutt-American" and being outnumbered, and understanding and living their faith better than the ethnic parishioners.
However, the real problem with Metropolitan Philip is he believes he is the Archdiocese and everyone must follow him to the letter of the law, whether he is correct or not. Bishop Mark's true problem is that he was being a bishop of his diocese and not a lap dog of Metropolitan Philip.
Most parishioners (regardless of their jurisdiction) are happy with their parish, if not, they would leave and go to another if one was close by. Many parishioners really only think about the bishop when he comes for a parish visit--once every three years for a few hours on the weekend.
Metropolitan's problem with the Midwest and other parts of the country is that he is out of touch with modest income families. He apparently surrounds himself with weathly Arab-Americans who like to make a show of their wealth. Metropolitan Philip wants all to bow down to him.
#42 anonymous on 2010-10-29 08:57
This entire situation reminds me of a quote attributed to Pope Pius IX (the one who adopted the ultramontanist doctrine of papal infallibility).
He said: "I am Tradition!"
#42.1 Michael on 2010-11-01 09:37
People, it really is simple. In the AOCA, there are clergy and then there are CLERGY. + Philip is still extremely partial to his Arab clergy. Anyone "inside" knows this. They operate in their own circle to protect the Met and if they decide someone is out, they are out. It's like a secret society, but based around TRIBALISM. + Philip is the Tribal Chieftain and the Arab clergy are his loyal subjects. + Mark rubbed the Arab clergy in Detroit the wrong way. How? He asked for financial accountability. How shameful! All converts wake up!
#43 Anonymous on 2010-10-29 09:04
I didn't know that Rodney King's brother was an Antiochian Auxiliary Bishop: "Can't we just get along together?"
Beloved in Christ,
God bless you.
As you no doubt have read in the letter we received from His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, yesterday, I have been asked by him to assist him in ministering to the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest for the next few months. Please be assured that this is temporary, and I intend to be only a facilitator in whatever way is needed.
I am going to share with you what I shared with the priests of the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic some months ago: In these present times, I think the best advice that can be given is to be concerned foremost with our own salvation and the salvation of those whom God has given us to watch over. Our attention should be on the holy altar, on the Mysteries of the Church, and on preaching the Gospel. If we have become distracted, let us now refocus ourselves.
I'm going to make some suggestions that I hope will make our working together easier. Your help in this would be greatly appreciated. Right now, I am assisting in the overseeing of about 1/3 of the parishes of this Archdiocese. Unfortunately, this does not give me a lot of time for the kind of detail that would normally be called for in ministering to a diocese. In this regard, again, your assistance would be greatly appreciated.
You will find two attachments to this letter. The first is the directive we received yesterday from His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP. The second is what I believe might be a helpful guide for all of us in our ministry. This document has been edited from the Priest's Guide that was published by the Archdiocese in 1994. Many of you have read it before. I'm going to ask you to read it again, so that we may refocus our attention. Once again, this is edited for use in the Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic. The deanery list only includes the parishes within that diocese.
First, let me remind you that all visits within the Toledo Diocese that were previously arranged with Bishop MARK are now canceled. You are welcome to invite His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, to visit your parish, or, if you like, you may invite me. If you would like to invite me, I suggest you first look at my schedule, which may be found at the following site: http://www.antiochian.org/Bishop_THOMAS_Schedule
In this interim period while I am assisting, visits will be made by invitation only. If you do not desire a hierarchical visit at this time, you are not obligated to make an invitation. Yesterday, I already reserved two weekends for ordinations within your diocese. I will also try to make room for your invitations and special occasions.
When making an invitation to me, you cmay contact me directly by phone at 724-787-9832 or by email at email@example.com. My US Mail address is: 4407 Kanawha Ave. SE, Charleston, WV 25304.
During this interim period, I encourage you to invite your dean. The second document that I attached addresses the responsibility of the dean toward the parishes he's overseeing. I suggest that we take advantage of our deans and utilize their talents during these next few months while we await the assignment of a new bishop for Toledo.
In regard to correspondence, all correspondence that requires a hierarchical blessing or hierarchical action should be sent by US Mail to His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP. You may send me a copy by US Mail. Please do not email this sort of correspondence. Please do not send any mail to the Toledo chancery. There is no reason to send any mail there. I reside in Charleston, West Virginia, and all my written correspondence should be sent there.
Copies of your church bulletins, your local activities, organizational reports, missions reports, etc., should be sent only by email. This sort of email should be sent to me by way of Dcn. Mark O'Dell (firstname.lastname@example.org). (Do not send them directly to my email address.) The deacon and I will review all of this together. Also, all of you who are spiritual advisors for various organizations should inform the laity that you work with of this new situation we are in. Their reports also should be forwarded to Dcn. Mark O'Dell by email only. They should only be calling me with issues if they've received your blessing to do so. It would be preferable if you call on their behalf so that I'm assured that things are being done properly.
In regard to your questions that deal with liturgics, I assume that you've been using liturgical texts that are produced by the Archdiocese. Please continue to do so. If you have questions about the liturgical practices of this Archdiocese, I will ask you to address them to the V. Rev. Fr. Edward Hughes (email@example.com), who teaches liturgics at Holy Cross Seminary. Fr. Edward is also the head of the Department of Liturgics and Translations at the Archdiocese. In the event that Fr. Edward is not available, you may contact Fr. Thomas Zain (firstname.lastname@example.org), who teaches liturgics at St. Vladimir's Seminary. Fr. Thomas also works at the Archdiocese. If need be, both of these priests are literate in Arabic, so that they may refer to Arabic texts if questions arise that are not answered in our present liturgical publications.
The next item has to do with church music: The Diocese of Toledo has a coordinator for music. The Archdiocese also has Chris Holwey (email@example.com), who chairs the Department of Sacred Music for the entire Archdiocese. You may contact Chris if you have questions about music that's available or whether a particular piece is approved for use within the Archdiocese.
Regarding missions, in addition to sending my reports to Dcn. Mark O'Dell, you should also be forwarding your reports to Bishop ANTOUN, Fr. Peter Gillquist, and your diocesan coordinator for missions. I will be working with them and pretty much following their lead. In this regard, as well as in most dealings within the Diocese of Toledo, I do not intend to change things or overhaul anything that is presently working well. I would encourage you during this interim period to invite Fr. Peter to your mission. I am sure you will find him to be of great assistance.
In the event that difficulties should arise within the parish, your first recourse should be to call your dean. If it's a minor problem that can be worked out with the dean, all well and good! If the problem is a little more involved and you believe I can help, please call me on the telephone (724-787-9832) and discuss it with me before sending me anything in writing. If, between the three of us, we cannot resolve the problem, you will then be instructed to write an official letter to His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, copying me. This, once again, should be sent via US Mail only -- not by email.
Many of you have been assigned responsibilties by His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, and by Bishop MARK. I am assuming that you will be continuing in administering the assignments that were given to you. Most of these assignments have overseers at the Archdiocesan level. Please confer with them as often as possible. As far as communications that are posted on the diocesan website, it's been my policy within this diocese to clear things that are out of the ordinary with His Eminence by way of Fr. George Kevorkian (firstname.lastname@example.org) and also the department that runs the Internet ministry (email@example.com). I trust you have been doing this, and I encourage you to continue doing this. Casual pictures and announcements about upcoming events, etc., are of course not included in this need for review. You may have these posted as you have in the past.
I want you to know that I know from the bottom of my heart that everything is going to be all right. I know this, because I have been acquainted with many of the priests within the Diocese of Toledo. I have not met one that is not a better priest than I was when I was a parish priest. Any difficulties that we have been experiencing in the past will be overcome by your holy prayers.
Some of you know this of me, but I will say it to remind you and also to inform those who do not know me: Of the bishops that we have in this Archdiocese, I am the least capable. I am blessed, however, in my diocese with magnificent priests, and I have been assured of the excellence of the priests within the Diocese of Toledo.
Please pray for His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, His Grace, Bishop MARK, upon whom we wish all God's blessings as he moves on, and most especially, I ask for your private prayers for me, who is unworthy of any association with such holy priests as yourselves.
Have a blessed day.
Yours in Christ,
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Charleston, Oakland and the Mid-Atlantic
Locum Tenens, Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest
Please note this email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please do not send email to any other addresses.
#44 Don't tell me it's raining when... on 2010-10-29 09:07
We this one is not rocket science!
If the Diocese of Toledo wad in such a *state of deterioration*, why would anyone put in a *locum tenens who will only maintain the status quo*?
Obviously, the whole thing is a ruse to shut Bishop Mark up about financial transparency.
MP did not even want BP MARK to go to the NW.
He tried to get him out before Pascha!
He tried to get Bishop Alexander out when they needed a Metropolitan for Tripoli.
MP and the Balamand Glee Club are working doubly hard against financial transparency!
Can anyone connect the dots.
Personaly, after seeing the swat team in Cincinnati protecting Bishop Mark, it is truly a miracle for him to get out with his life!
#44.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-31 14:25
I believe it would benefit +Pope Philip to read and peruse Fr Hopko's recent Reflections on this website, especially the one entitled, "Vatican II and the Orthodox Bishops." David Barret
Any Medieval Pope in any age or even a wannabe one heading an Orthodox jurisdiction when confronted with Holy Traditon or Canons or the testimony of the Ancient Fathers, dismisses and ignores it, like we would a report from Bp. Antoun on the financial integrity of our Archdiocese.
It means absolutely zilch to either party. Admittedly there is a profound difference between the divinely inspired and the uh...not so divinely invented but I think you catch my drift.
Besides all true Medieval Popes are accountable to no one but their own current whims. All usurping bishops believe something like, "I am Tradition" (Pope Pius IX) or I am Robert's Rule's of Order (Met.Philip Saliba)
Next thing you know you might even expect these guys to read the Gospels and take to heart what Christ says to the clerical hypocrites and self exalting religious authorities of his day?
Now imagine the disappontment?
#45 Kevin Kirwan on 2010-10-29 11:58
One possible reason for Met. Philp's disinclination to a straight-up audit--that I have not seen mentioned elsewhere--is noted on George Michalopulos's blog, Manomakhos, which cites an old story from The Word (Volume 49, No 3, March 2005):
" wherein we find monies that were raised in Antiochian parishes going to Islamist “charities” in the West Bank. Specifically the “Islamic Rawda School for the Sons of the Martyrs” (read “suicide bombers”) and the “Ramallah Islamic Club.”
Where did the money come from? On page 13 we read that “…Metropolitan Philiip, through his uncompromising generosity and genuine concern for the Palestinian people, made an additional contribution to the fund on behalf of the Archdiocese…A total of $120,000.00 was donated.”"
(Editor's note: In Palestine, "Martyrs" does not simply refer to suicide bombers. It refers to anyone oppressed by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which includes the Christian population.)
#46 Call Me Anonymous on 2010-10-29 17:27
You know if we repeat certain words....terrorist.....bomb.....tax evasion.....maybe a computer program in the Office of Homeland Security will pick up and actually read on this thread.
Oh..Oh....IRS, NSA and FBI ....are you listening????
(Editor's note: You hear that clicking sound recording your keystrokes? No? Of course you don't......)
#46.1 Delegate #1 on 2010-11-02 13:39
To try to tie MP to Islamic terrorists is beyond absurd and really flat wrong. I'm sure the FBI would have hog tied him years ago for such a thing and I really think this is a horrible thing to say even though I've called him nuttier than a fruitcake. I'll stand by the nuttier line and back it up with why, but the main reason is he lies when it suits him.
#46.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-11-02 17:06
Sorry to butt in and move a bit off topic but when I was part of the OCA, Albanian Archdiocese 3000 miles away from my bishop while another OCA Bishop was 80 miles away I didn't feel any love from or towards my bishop because he was a stranger. For the most part I felt like I was part of a Bishopless church. Then after the mission closed due to illness in the priest family I was unable to get a returned phone call or e-mail from my bishop. As far as I know he is still a bishop (one that is quoted in an interview saying one day gay marriage may be accepted in the Orthodox church but not at this time). I have chronic health issues, after the mission closed I got sicker and there was no one there for me. I am still sick but well enough to commit to a parish and being part of it, supporting it, etc. but I just haven't felt much love from Orthodoxy, I find myself wondering if I should compromise and go to a loving but heterodox church like a liturgical conservative Lutheran body, or one of the continuing Anglican Jurisdictions.
I am tempted by desire or the Holy Spirit to just walk into one of the non English speaking ethnic parishes close to my house and see if maybe they would want my family. I figure there I won't have to worry about being "irregular".
I have to add, reading Metropolitan PHILIPS writings and vision of what he saw of Orthodoxy are a big part of the reason I became Orthodox (though never Antiochian do to geography). Not only do I hear him bad mouthed by the clergy of other Jurisdictions now I hear him bad mouthed by his own people. Was I duped?
#47 David L on 2010-10-29 19:14
Yes. As were we all.
#47.1 Antionymous on 2010-10-30 10:24
(TO THE EDITOR:
Mark, this guy is right--he is off topic. I am trying briefly to respond. If you wish to move this elsewhere or perhaps just send this message on individually without posting it here, feel free. You da editor--your call.
You have not been duped as far as your Orthodox faith is concerned. As for the other consideration you mention--not my place to comment, as it concerns another "jurisdiction" of which I am not a part.
But I feel called to respond to you--briefly and probably not adequately--but maybe there's something helpful here you can glean.
It is not hard to figure where you're from, as there is only 1 Albanian Diocese parish 3,000 miles from the bishop. Are you sure it's closed, or is it merely awaiting a newly assigned priest? It remains on the Archdiocesan list on oca.org. Just a question that needs asking--you probably know better than I!
Secondly, are you sure there are no other English-language parishes in your area? Things happen pretty quickly, and something may have sprung up without your noticing.
Otherwise, to answer your question, I'd say, yes, by all means, try attending one of the "ethnic" non-English parishes. First of all, they may use some (or maybe a lot more than you think) English in their services. Often these things aren't all that monolithic as we might think. And they may be quite open, pious and friendly. Happened to me in the first parish I attended (Serbian). Meanwhile, I'll check my handy-dandy Rand McNally and a few directories and see if there's anything I can find for you near Folsom, California (please inform me if I'm incorrect on that).
A story that may be helpful: a couple years ago I was asked to speak at a local Protestant church on what brought me to my "faith community" (as they like to say), and what keeps me there. This was just after things had started to settle down from the OCA's "times of troubles." I had 2 responses: first, my own parish which, to a remarkable degree kept focused on what they were doing in church even as they expressed concern over what was happening "higher up;" and, secondly and most importantly, Jesus Christ. I encountered Him in the Orthodox Church in a way far deeper than what I had in the faith in which I grew up (Roman Catholic). I knew (know) the Church's teachings to be true. Though I am sometimes distressed by the evidence vis-a-vis Jesus's quote "...by their fruits you will know them..., " I still recognize Jesus in the teaching of Orthodoxy in spite of the shortcomings of myself, my parishioners, and, too often than it should be, the leaders of this Church on earth.
Long story short: what keeps me in the Orthodox Church? Jesus Christ.
Which is to say, hang in there, and, with an open mind, try what you have in your area. The other options you mention are dead ends.
You have my prayers and you can find me via the OCA clergy directory if you wish to confer further.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Dennis Buck
#47.2 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2010-10-30 17:50
OK, David L., a little internet research and a glance at my aforementioned road atlas comes up with the following:
1) Folsom (if that is where your former parish is) is in the greater Sacramento area, a bit east of the city itself.
2) a search produces 6 churches in metro Sacramento (poetry, that!): 2 Greek, 2 Antiochian and 2 OCA (Folsom [former]Albanian church not listed)
3) Of the OCA parishes, one admits in its website to being "Russian-speaking" with services in Slavonic and on Old calendar. The other, Holy Cross in Sacramento itself, appears to be a predominately English-language parish on New Calendar.
4) I do not have further information on the Greek and Antiochina parishes, though use of English is common throughout the Antiochian Archdiocese. As far as other issues, see others' comments above and below, yea and nay.
5) I am aware that the OCA's Romanians have had a parish in Sacramento for a while, though I am unfamiliar with its present status.
6) As for the others--?
My suggestion--call Fr. Ian McKinnon at Elevation of the Holy Cross, Sacramento, CA.
(TO THE EDITOR--Sorry, Mark, but I told him I'd get back to him and this is the only option I have)
#47.2.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2010-11-02 16:06
I am very saddened by Bp. Mark's removal from the Diocese of Toledo. In many ways it will be easier for him because he does not have to deal with so many who are Orthodox in name only, but who do not truly desire to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ OR the Orthodox Christian Faith. In 1987 I was chrismated into the Orthodox Church in the GOA.
I know however, after I felt called to the priesthood, that I would never be fully accepted into GOA because no matter how well I spoke Greek I would always be "xeni", a foreigner. In 1990 I asked to be accepted as a student at SVS and appealed to Met. Philip to be received under his omophorion. He graciously received me and my wife Tammy. In 1992, while still in my last year at SVS I was sent to St. George, Danbury, CT because the priest there was sent to feel the temporary absence of Fr. Joseph Allen who a widower had been allow to marry a divorced woman. St. Geo. was a typical Antiochian parish in New England; the majority were Syrian/Lebanese and the few Slavs and a few converts. I found the spiritual life of the parish appalling. Few knew even the basics of what it meant to be a Christian, let alone an Orthodox Christian. The parish, celebrating 95 years at the time hadlearned such a perverted and denuded form of the Orthodox Faith that when I tried to introduce the true traditions of Prayer (besides Div. Lit. & Holy Week), confession, fasting, Bible study and basic Christian morality (some within the parish were living in fornication, homosexual relationships, others were in prison for financial crimes, etc.) the families of the older members saw red. However, there were a fair number ( I would dare say the majority, but not a terribly vocal majority) who supported my pastoral ministry. They likewise were made up of some of the founding families of the parish as well as the Slavs and the converts.
I am convinced that this is not an "Arab" versus "American" issue but rather is a Christian versus a Secularized Person issue. Many of the families did not lke that I preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and called for repentance and a changed life. I love kibbee as much as the rest, perhaps even more, because I wanted to eat Middle Eastern food all the time so they know it was not an ethnic issue, it was a heart issue. I learned some Arabic, sang lustily with the choir when they sang Arabic hymns but when I tald them to take up their Cross, deny themselves and follow Christ, and that No, they could not have a kibbee dinner on St. George Day (even though it was towards the end of Great Lent), No they couldn't have a belly dancer who was scandalously dressed (they did it anyway), when I called them to forsake fornication, adultery, pornography, illegal practices and pride and arrogance they would not stand for it.
For years I was so proud of Met. Philip. He would encourage us converts to serve Christ and the Church and then I began to notice one things...he spoke out of both sides of his mouth. When he was with the converts he would say what he knew they wanted to hear and then when he was with prdominantly ethnic Antiochians he said some different out of the other side of his mouth. Interestingly enough he always spoke more about Jesus Christ, the Gospel and Salvation when he spoke to us converts.
May God have mercy upon Met. Philip and correct him for his pastoral errors. May the Lord have mercy upon Bishop Mark and give him a thriving ministry in the OCA and may God have mercy upon every Orthodox Christian in the USA, regardless of jurisdiction or ethnic background and send upon us a spiritual shaking and sifting that will separate the wheat from the chaff and spiritually renew us by the All-holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit!
I know how you feel, Fr. Timothy. This isn't a convert versus cradle issue, nor is it an Anglo versus Arab issue. You're absolutely right: it's a Christian versus secularized person issue.
I've seen people try to pass off the Met. Philip thing as just a "cultural difference", "He just wanted to handle things the Arab way". The truth is, anyone of any background can learn to forsake their sinful lives and live as an Orthodox Christian. Attributing failures of chastity, like you saw in your parish, or failures of stewardship, like we are seeing from Englewood, to a 'cultural difference', is patent racism.
#48.1 Cordelia on 2010-10-30 10:49
Sorry, you and Fr. Timothy are wrong! There is a very powerful underground Arab "mafia" within the AOCA. + Philip is the Tribal Chieftain. The Arab laity support him & the Arab clergy - overlook serious issues. Why do you think + Philip tried to bring + Dimitri back? He almost did, but a serious criminal charge is hard to overlook. Look at Joe Allen and many others. If you are a convert cleric who steps out of line, you receive a letter saying, "Thank you, but your services are no longer needed." All of this bru-ha-ha with + Mark came out of Detroit, not the entire Midwest Diocese. .... Tribal, tribal & more tribal!
#48.1.1 anonymous on 2010-11-01 06:05
But what you write actually makes the point Fr. Timothy and Cordelia were making. The issue is not convert vs. cradle nor Anglo vs. Arab, but the Arab "mafia" as you put it vs. everyone else who's spiritually awake enough to care.
#18.104.22.168 DNY on 2010-11-01 15:12
Fr. Timothy, I pray that God will help me to respond to your post in love. I was born and raised in St. George Church in Danbury. The foundation of my faith was set amongst the love and guidance of the people and priests that served the community in the many years prior to your being sent to the parish. I am currently raising my family in Pennsylvania, but I was numbered with those that know little about “what it means to be a Christian, let alone an Orthodox Christian” at the time that you were our priest.
Father, every Christian is on a journey. When one judges another person’s journey against their own, they may come to a conclusion that the other person’s practices are perverted and denuded. We the faithful are not on a journey to meet our priests expectations, we are on a journey to a life with God. Instead of judging one another we should be helping and encouraging one another on that journey. Father, you may see my practice of the faith as perverted and denuded, but if we step back and think of what all of mankind must look like to God, when He is the standard, he must see all of our practices as perverted and denuded. So, you are probably right, my practice of the faith is perverted and denuded, but I might dare say so is yours, so is all of mankind’s. If we had it right, we would no longer need God’s saving Grace. God became a man and died that we could be saved yesterday, today and tomorrow. Every one of us puts another nail in the cross every time we sin, and none of us are without sin.
You stated that many families did not like that you preached the Gospel of Christ and that you called for repentance and a changed life. You stated that you tried to introduce the true tradition of prayer, confession, fasting, bible study and basic Christian morality. I’m sorry father, but you did not introduce us to those things, the parish had been practicing them for 95 years prior to your arrival. Are we without sin? no. Is the parish perfect? No. No parish is. If we were perfect we would not need the saving grace of God. We may not have lived up to your standard of prayer, fasting and Christian morality. Father, I am more concerned that as human beings none of us lives up to God’s standards. It concerns me that as Christians we spend so much time judging how others are not good Christians, when if we looked at the log that was in our own eye we would see that none of us are. We need to spend less time in frustration with one another and more time loving, encouraging and lifting one another up. Yes father, I am the scum you described in your post. We as the faithful know that we are fallen and sinful. What we need to see is that our priests and bishops also understand that they are also fallen and sinful and walk in the same scum and filth that we do. We need to know that you love us and are willing to walk with us and accept us for the sinful human beings that we are. Guide us, don’t judge us.
I have 5 children father. I couldn’t do justice with words to tell you how much I love those children. As a parent, I don’t need to tell you what filth and scum I would endure for their sake. I am their father. I want to protect them from the scum of this earth, but the reality is, every morning I send them out into the world, I know that they are walking amongst it. I pray that they stand strong, but I know that they fall. I try to nourish them at home, praying that with each passing day that God will guide their footsteps. As long as God grants me life to care for these children, I will be working hard to love them and protect them, and to pray for God’s protection over them.
We as the laity in the church call our priests father. It is an awesome responsibility. How could a man be asked to love a flock, in many cases people he has never met before, as he loves his children. In reality, a priest is asked more than that. He is asked to love his flock as Christ loves it. That is a love that is beyond my understanding. It is a love that is beyond all human understanding. That is the love a parish is looking for from their father. Sounds pretty unfair doesn’t it? That we want our priests to love us as God loves us. It’s unreasonable, unfair and impossible. How about what a priest wants from his flock? The things you wanted of the people of St. George. To the people it may have seemed unfair and impossible. Father, the truth is that it is all impossible, except for God. God can make this happen through His priests and through His flock. A huge tall order that even the most devout of Christians will fall. But as a community, we are there to encourage one another and pick each other up. A priest may blame his troubles on the fact that his parish (or even his bishop) is Godless, and a parish may blame their troubles on the fact their priests and bishops are Godless. The truth is, when we stop loving, we are all Godless.
Father, please forgive me, but your prayer at the end of your post saddens me. You ask God to “send upon us a spiritual shaking and sifting that will separate the wheat from the chaff and spiritually renew us by the all-holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit!” If I’m not mistaken, separating the wheat from the chaff is interpreted by the fathers to be speaking of the last judgement that we will all face before God. At that time, the Scripture says, He will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. Imagine if a child felt that his father prayed to God to come and take him away to be burned in unquenchable fire because he did not meet his fathers expectations, so that the father could have a renewed life with the rest of his family. What do you think the response of that child would be? Might it be rebellion? When God entrusts a priest with a flock, He entrusts the souls of every person in that community to him. As the father of the flock that God entrusts to a priest, how do you think the children in the flock would respond if they felt their father’s prayer was to ask God to take them away, even if it meant they burn in unquenchable fire, so that the rest of the family could enjoy a spiritual renewal? Even more fearful, how do think God would respond? Father, as the church we want to peal the chaff away from all human beings before that fearful day so that all mankind will be saved. We should not be asking God to take the chaff away from us so that our Christian journey will be easier and more resemble what we think it should be. We should be asking God to be sending us the chaff, so that by His loving them through His priests and his people, the chaff will be pealed away so that on that fearful day, there will be no chaff to be separated out. Imagine the joy we would feel if when God came and found no chaff on the face of the earth and then looked to his priests and people and said the words well done my good and faithful servants.
This is all impossible, except for God. As Christians, if we want God to dwell in us and work in us, we need to make the spirit within us a loving spirit. When we have a spirit of love, and if we open ourselves up to Him, only then can we be serious when we ask God to come and dwell in us.
I apologize to you Father Timothy. I love you. You are my Christian brother, and we need each other’s prayers. This post is more than just a response to your personal remarks. It is a response to the frustration I have in general with the how much time we as Christians waste judging each other for falling short of each others expectations, when in reality, in God’s eye’s the actions of each of us is probably far worse than what we accuse of others.
We need to move beyond the remorse of wishing things were different. Think of whatever disparaging remark you want to say about me and I can probably say that in God’s eyes my actions are far worse. But, He loves me anyway. In God’s eyes, our actions are probably far worse than anything we can say about one another, so let’s move on and get beyond the fact that we aren’t perfect Christians. God has taken care of that. We need to stop seeing each other as stumbling blocks. We are Christian brothers and sisters, which means we should be lifting each other up and loving and treating each other as Christ. We can start by looking for Christ in our brothers and sisters rather than looking at each other as fornicators, homosexuals and criminals. God have mercy on us as Christians if we have gotten to the point of defining one another by each others sins, and not by the image of God that we are created in.
Louis Matthews Jr.
#48.2 Louis Matthews Jr. on 2010-11-06 08:00
Dear Father Timothy,
Being in the majority of parishioners at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Danbury, CT who had stood on your side, I am surprised and saddened by your graphic depiction of the spiritual life of our small parish. Your comments do not describe accurately this parish that I had known for the past 14 years, including one and a half years under your priestly care. There are other parishioners who care a lot about you, but are equally surprised and saddened by your comments. And I could imagine a similar reaction from priests and seminarians who had served at our church before and after your departure in 1997.
Your listing of specific sins was not necessary and is a distraction from your main arguments, for which I agree with their general premise. While I understand that the spiritual life of the parish did not attain the ideals that you had rightfully preached, you could have described the situation in general terms and perhaps without identifying the parish. Allow me to share respectfully with you this translation of an Antiochian (Lebanese/Syrian) saying – “Do not throw a stone in a well that you drank from”. Knowing you, I trust that you did not intend any harm to our parish.
My response on this website is triggered strictly by your comments on our parish; however I feel compelled to comment on your main arguments about the Antiochian Archdiocese (AOCANA). My comments below on the Archdiocese do not represent our parish, clergy or any other parishioner.
First, I share your sadness for the removal of Bishop Mark. As you know I was saddened by the circumstances of your departure from our parish. Second, I agree with you that there is a “Christian versus secularized person” issue in the Archdiocese. However I think that this issue is the most significant amongst other issues such as ethnicity. Third, I also agree that Metropolitan Philip has demonstrated a tendency to vacillate on some issues. One example is his conflicting statements during the past few years about the status of his bishops. Another example is your departure from our parish, whereby the auxiliary bishop rightfully supported you in front of the parishioners while intending all along to transfer you. Fourth, the Metropolitan tends to play favorites amongst clergy and laity. Fifth, while he has done much good for the Archdiocese and Orthodoxy in North America, his recent and on-going actions are baffling. Consider in this regard this translation of another Antiochian saying – “Just like a hard-working cow producing life nourishing milk, only to throw it away by kicking the milk bucket!”
As you know when I first joined this parish in 1996, I was inspired by your strong chanting voice, fiery sermons and deep faith, and I benefited from your preaching until your departure the next year. You were like a safe anchor for a cradle orthodox. Since then, I followed your news through common friends and few years ago I made an effort and met you. I am glad that you have recently found a welcoming parish where you are continuing your orthodox ministry.
Keep us in your prayers,
Walid S. Najjar, Ph.D., P.E.
#48.3 Walid S. Najjar, Ph.D., P.E. on 2010-11-06 13:16
So many questions, so little time.
MP says in his frank recent radio interview on AFR that his millions are all earmarked for the Archdiocese. The questions remain on why he is withholding these assets from being put in use now by the AD? If he's reluctant to deploy these assets while he can still have a voice in how they are used within the AD then is there any credibility that he'll bequeath this bundle in his estate with no strings attached? Had not the clergy and laity of the AD had best be trying to claw back these funds and get an accounting sooner rather than later lest they dissolve into vapor as have so many of the hopes and the trust of the people?
How many clergy and laity is MP going to punish or dismiss every time he perceives a difference of opinion or less than enthusiastic support for this agenda?
#49 MWP on 2010-10-30 05:52
Patriarch Ignatius always said he wanted our. Church here to know them better!
We certainly do now!
At present poor Bishops are forbidden contact with them.
The only one who provides information is MP.
It would seem the only one they care about knowing is the one with the DEEPESTPOCKTS.
May God delivery His people.
Perhaps, deliverance will only come through an Exodus!
#50 Anonymous on 2010-10-30 06:31
Regarding "self-rule" of the archdiocese:
MP had to demote the bishops to auxillary status in order to preserve self-rule. Had they remained bishops of (and not merely in) their respective diocese, then they might rightfully be invited to sit on synod of Antioch. If that happens, then there's no real self-rule, is there? It's like the model that the SOC and GOA have where their bishops sit in foreign-based synods. The synod of Antioch itself may have engineered this to defeat self-rule in this manner and to keep us in knots for years to come trying to untangle it all. So now MP has preserved self-rule. But this hinges on what definition of "self" is. In our current situation, self equates to MP, himself. Oh, it's all so deliciously Machiavellien. Calling these machinations "Byzantine" does not do them justice, as our leadership have taken it to the next level.
It's time now to put the weekly offering into escrow, I think, until there's an accounting for this mess.
#50.1 MWP on 2010-10-30 07:54
This is what many are doiing. Instead of putting cash or a check in their envelopes or in the plate, put a copy of the ledger of your giving to the escrow account.
#50.1.1 Antionymous on 2010-11-01 05:25
How did +Philip preserve self-Rule (autonomy), by doing this??? Please explain your convoluted logic to me, for I truly can't understand it.
I thought that the ecclesiastical definition of Autonomy means that a church is Self Ruled, but not Self headed.
Meaning that the Archbishop or Metropolitan of the Autonomous Church is essentially the Exarch of the Patriarch to that particular church.
Much like the late Archbishop Iakovos was for the G.O.A.A.
Thus, according to this understanding, +Philip would be elected by the delegates of the Clergy laity Conference, and the Archdiocesan Synod would submit his name to Damascus for final approval.
This suggests that +Philip would thus Represent the Archdiocese to the Holy Synod in Damascus, while also representing the Patriarch and His Synod to the Holy Synod and Faithful of the Archdiocese.
So the question asked by many still must be answered. Since +Philip has had his Diocesan Bishops demoted to Auxiliary Status, how can the Archdiocese still be Self-ruling, when auxiliary bishops have NO VOICE in the operation of the Archdiocese???
Please clarify this if you can, as +Philip has done a truly abysmal job of it.
This sounds like the quasi independence my father once gave me, as long as I did everything he expected me to do.
And when I tried to get him to let me make my own decisions, then he permanently disowned me.
If this isn't what +Philip has done to Bishop Mark, and the rest of the Archdiocese by publishing his 18 directives, then I've totally misunderstood the situation.
So I'll ask once more. Please explain your convoluted logic to me, because I truly can't understand it.
#50.1.2 Mark Sudia on 2010-11-01 21:45
Speaking to #10 - now living in NYC. Do you remember your home parish in Florida having a Convention hosted in YOUR former City by another parish because your parish and it's leadership (know the worthy Priest?) were not deemed capable? Short Memory, Mr. Hamatie - chk with the worthy Parish Priest. Another of Englewood's shenanigans!
#50.2 Anonymous Parishioner on 2010-10-30 15:57
We substantiated the claim that few year back the local outlying community (small in number but very faithful) took on the Mid West Parish Life Conf. TRUE the whole event dedicated to the Met. who failed to even show up for a day. (Home in Englewood verified!) Page after page in the Conv. Ad Boof glorifying him.
How let down those attending and for his Anniversary, no less!
And he can rebuild the Conferences by coming to our Conference here in Cleveland?
That same Fall some of our parishioners went to Detroit where he appeared to celebrate His Anniversary in an all ethnic event with $$$$.
Who is he fooling when he SEEKS participation?
"You can fool some of the people sometimes but ....."
#50.3 Anonymous Cleveland church member on 2010-10-30 16:05
Curious about what +Thomas said in his email. Can an Aux. Bishop ordain orders of the clergy, even though he is not a canonical "Bishop" for a diocese? What does Canon law say about this? To be a valid ordination, does the Metropolitan have to perform it? My understanding is that ordinations should be done by the Diocesan Bishop or if approved by the presiding Bishop, by a designated Bishop that has been blessed to do it by the diocesan Bishop.
#51 Rd. Rick Wagner on 2010-10-30 12:17
The clergy of the (former?) Diocese of Toledo have received several messages from Bishop Thomas this past week.
There messages were invariably sensitive and consistently pastoral in tone---very much as Bishop Mark's were.
#51.1 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-11-01 09:57
Perhaps, deliverance will only come through an Exodus!
#50 Anonymous on 2010-10-30 06:31 (Reply)
An Exodus of those demanding financial accountability is probably the one thing Englewood believes would deliver them not the faithful.
I am beginning to think given the weird admission of Met. Philip that he is personally controlling millions of dollars and nobody is going to take a look or hold him accountable indicates something else.
Our deliverance may in fact not be our Exodus but rather their Indictments.
#52 Kevin Kirwan on 2010-10-31 07:18
Well, now that MP's Papal Bull was read this Sunday, we will see what the response of the people will be.
#53 Enough of the Papal Bulls on 2010-10-31 14:33
Yes, it certainly was a lot of "BULL." It stinks, it stinks and it all stinks again! Somebody is going to great effort to cover something up!
#53.1 Anonymous on 2010-11-01 15:35
I have a great idea, after the fiasco in our churches yesterday. If you brought home your bulletins with the wasted piece of insert paper from Englewood, this is what we should do with them. Don't file them in the round file or recycle them. Address an envelope to Philip Saliba in Englewood. Put a stamp on the envelope, but no return address. Tear the paper into many pieces and insert them in the envelope. Mail to PS ASAP. He'll never be able to trace where the envelopes came from, and hopefully his fancy home in NJ will be flooded with the same mail from the same people who have had enough of his lies and deceit. If nothing else, he can use them for jigsaw puzzles to entertain himself when he is no longer in his high position.
Spread the word about this idea, and let's see how many envelopes of wasted directives arrive on his doorstep. 44 cents is a small postage price to pay for letting him know how outraged we are with his attitude.
God bless and keep safe any clergy who chose not to publish/read this worthless directive. We all must stand and be heard. I respect your courage.
I love the idea of flooding his home with mail. Perhaps we can write our thoughts on top of his letter before tearing it up. and if he wants to know what those thoughts are then he has to put the puzzle together. Only I'd probably sign my name... I don't care if he knows I wrote it! What do we have to lose?
#53.2.1 Carol Yonov on 2010-11-02 15:12
Bishop Philip and those who consort with him have forgotten something fundamental to the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
We are stewards, not owners.
Regarding his rule: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.
#54 Daniel on 2010-11-03 05:13
"So, is Ec. Pat. Bartholomew to be removed?" YES!!!!!
#55 Anon on 2010-11-04 13:59
My Dearest Brothers, Ssisters and friends:
I am very sorry that my comments about St. George, Danbury offended you. However I will stand by my comments 100%. First of all, Louis, my comments are not "judging". According to the NT word, taken from the Gospels, to "judge" is to make the decision whether a person is saved or condemned. I do not judge the salvation of these people. However, as the holy Scripture plainly states, "You shall know them by their fruit." Your family and several others were an exception to the rule at St. George, so yes, your experience was different. However, once again I stand by my comments because I was the preist and father of the parish and was privy to things you have no idea about. If these things were being practiced before then they were hidden in the corner. You will never know the dark hours of night when I paced the floor of the parish house, or laid before the altar, with tears, praying for the souls of the people of St. George. You will also never know the horrific things that people did to one another and how as the priest I was called to pastorally assist them. You'll also never know the hundreds od conversations I had visiing peiople in their homes and on the street in which they tried to convince that heir lifestyles were quite fine and acceptable to God.
Louis and Walid, once again I am sorry that my words offended you but I stand behind them before God and once again declare that the number 1 issue in the Orthodox Church is NOT ethnic or cradle versus convert, but the fallen and corrupt world spirit and the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Orthodox Christian Faith.
Dear Father Timothy,
If you were privy to some information through your priestly privilege of hearing confessions, it should have been kept secret, and if you had learned about other information through private meetings, more prudence should have been exercised in sharing such information. As stated in my first response (#48.3), your listing of specific sins was not necessary in the context of your arguments about the Archdiocese and you could have described your experiences at our parish in more general terms. This was the surprising and saddening element in your original comments.
Once again, you were like a safe anchor for this cradle orthodox, who had benefited from your fiery sermons. Please, let your former parish continue quietly on its healing journey, without the unintentional opening of old wounds.
#56.1 Walid S. Najjar, Ph.D., P.E. on 2010-11-08 10:35
I have never, nor will I ever, reveal the sins or names of those who come to me in Confession, I take my ordination to the priesthood very seriously. However, the evil one loves to work in secret, in the dark and make sure that sin in general always stays hidden, this way we always feel we are safe from coming clean before God. But the Lord has declared that that which is whispered in secret will one day be shouted from the housetops.
My comments about St. George apply generally to every Orthodox parish I have served in. There is an insidious spirit at loose among the people of the Orthodox Church to compromise with the spirit of this world in which truth is called a lie, morality is called prudishness and closemindedness, darkness is called light. We need to understand that our God is a good, loving and longsuffering God who welcomes all who repent and turn aside from and struggles with their sin but He will NOT tolerate those who excuse their sin or worse yet try to call acceptable what He has declared an abomination.
My prayer is only for the good of St. George parish and all its members. Fr. George is a good pastor and priest and I am thankful to the Lord for the five years I spent there. There were many people who I have very good and fond memories of, you and Dianna being one of those families. However, at the same time it was painful for me to see others who always held the parish back from being the spiritual powerhouse that it could have been by always wanting to compromise the Gospel of Christ.
Walid, I will write no more on this subject. I am thankful to the Lord for you and for your faithfulness to St. George. May the Lord bless you and your family with every good and glorious blessing.
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