Tuesday, March 10. 2009
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I've been reading all the Latest News and Reflections for years and was pleased to see +H stepping down and hopefully progress on settling the scandal. Yet everyone plods along and I think these news items about the AAC and Bishop's synod as well as the new +J and his preaching about 'forgiveness' are a purposeful distraction to divert attention from the scandal. are we ever going to see the end? I want to see the end and a copy of the P.Rose report. Are the bishops so involved that this continues to be 'under the rug'? Let's not be diverted from finalization and the END of this scandal. The truth shall prevail, sooner or later.
(Editor's note: There is no Proskauer-Rose report in written form, so you shall never see one. Sorry. As for your other questions, I think the answer to your last question ( Are the bishops so involved...) will give you the answer to the first (' Yet everyone plods along....) Conversely, if we ever did get to the "end", other than some Bishops just telling us "Enough!", that too would answer your question.)
#1 Anonymous pleae on 2009-03-10 15:28
Having left the OCA to seek refuge in the AOA during the recent turmoil, I find myself faced with the same sifting of the hierarchy by Satan. As I have said before on this website; Satan is a smart adversary, he attacks the leadership of the Church. Any good military leader knows that if you want to defeat your enemy, you must cut off his head. I fear that this is happening all over again.
On a possitive note, perhaps this is just another indicator of how close our Lord's Second Coming may be.
Lord help us, save us, and have mercy on us all.
#2 Marc Trolinger on 2009-03-10 18:25
You know, I don't care about this. He isn't a crook and he isn't a molester. Metropolitan Philip probably took a look at the OCA and said NOT IN MY DIOCESE and decided to retreat. Philip has balls and brains, which is more than I can say for some other bishops. I'll take balls and brains over the 'other' any day of the week. Go Philip go, if your wrong, hit the wall going 90! If your right-go for it! Many years pal, may years!
#3 no name on 2009-03-10 20:07
With all due respect, your comment is illogical, no name.
The OCA's problems did not arise from being organized as a network of actual dioceses with actual diocesan bishops who form a synod under a primate; they arose from some people abusing their positions, behaving unethically and concealing their misdeeds from the church at large, to its detriment. Suppressing dioceses in favor of one big über-diocese and demoting all diocesan bishops to auxiliary bishops who cannot question the decisions and doings of one single bishop over all does nothing to forestall such problems; if anything, concentrating all power in the hands of one person, with no checks or balances or avenue for honest, well-meant questioning, makes the possibility of abuse and unethical behavior easier. The Church is never one man: it is a living body made up of many members, each of which has its role and function so Jesus Christ can act through them in the world.
As for "balls and brains," as you so earthily put it, they are not necessarily a virtue: they can be wielded for good or for ill. Far better than "balls and brains" for a bishop are the qualifications and character traits laid out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:7-9: sound-mindedness, self-control, decency, hospitableness, gentleness, teaching ability, love of goodness, sense of justice, fondness for holiness and a firm grasp of orthodox teaching and practice, with a good reputation inside and outside the Church -- without arrogance, argumentativeness, aggressiveness, violent temper, drunkenness or greed for money or personal gain.
Finally, the Church is not a stock car demolition derby. Nobody -- bishop, presbyter, deacon, subdeacon, reader, monk, nun, layperson or catechumen -- ought to "go for it" and "hit the wall doing 90" where her life and well-being are concerned. Church leaders especially must "account to God" for the souls of the people under their care (Hebrews 13:17), so there is no room for recklessness in how they exercise their ministry -- just as there is no substitute for orthodox ecclesiology, canonical norms and Christian conduct if a church is to be spiritually healthy, effective in carrying out its mission and true to itself and its Lord.
#4 Gregory on 2009-03-11 15:52
Oh pleaseeeeeee how long have you been at this.......
.......... one of the things lacking in the Church in this country are leaders that take problem on and make decisions. The OCA mess could have been solved quickly and long ago, if the men that are bishops acted like men. This could have all been dealt with swift action and a real plan to put the Church on its feet. The Bishops of the OCA can't get a handle on the simple concept of solution. However, for that to happen they would have to be believing men, men of action, men of faith. Now, maybe some of them are, but these qualities are not present in sufficient quantity to do much good.
Metropolitan Philip is a man of many of these qualities and above all he is a man of courage. Courage, something that left the OCA hierarchy in the early 1970's. Only the laity have found courage in the OCA, where are the bishops? Where are the solutions? I'll tell you where, trapped in a semi-conscious brocade-bound byzantine haze getting their hands kissed and kissed and kissed.
Don't talk to me about orthodox ecclesiology, canonical norms, the Christian conduct you mention is not even in place, honesty and trust are gone. Until the bishops in the OCA find their courage, nothing will change.
#5 no name on 2009-03-11 18:07
All due respect, it seems scandalous that the Church that remembers St Ignasius (of Antioch) as the second bishop of Antioch and whose writings brought many to the church are completely ignored. The notion of auxilary bishops is completely uncanonical. His writings are a key reason why we reject the papacy. This decision makes the papacy look attractive. All Bishops are equal according to the canons of the church. An Archbishop or senior hierarch simply chairs the synod meeting as an older brother, but each bishop admoinisters their own diocese. NO ONE has documented any infractions of the Diocesan Bishops to this canonical order or of any attmpts to separate from the patriarchate.
#6 anonymous on 2009-03-11 19:16
This should be lesson to all those in the Romanian Episcopate who think that an agreement with Bucharest will stand. In spite of the clear constitution of the AOA, the Patriarch and his synod still did whatever they wanted. Only a lawsuit (or the threat thereof) on behalf of the AOA against its own Metropolitan by the other bishops is likely to save them.
#7 Concerned Romanian on 2009-03-12 06:55
An excellent response! Very sound theologically, logically, and ethically, with a solid ecclesiology to support it!
#8 David Barrett on 2009-03-12 08:20
Gregory for bishop!
Thanks for your succinct reply.
On the other hand, you might do with a little more humor!
As for Marc's statement above:
I hope you're not giving on to the temptation of "church hopping," Marc. The grass is never greener, and I should think you'd feel a bit chastened after your very public leave-taking.
If we ever do form one American Orthodox church + synod + primate, this taking leave for "jurisdictions" more peaceful (how many incidents over the years now come to mind?) won't be an option. We'll actually have to put our money where our mouth is and act less denominational and more like a family: get along because this is who you got.
#9 Rdr. John on 2009-03-12 13:45
Truly a well written response. Thank you. What a novel idea for leadership to turn to the sacred writings inspired by the Holy Spirit for guidance. Amazing how many trendy cliches are in reality based upon the holy texts - usually in a very watered down form! I would love to have a church guided by these most noble words along with the traditions of the fathers. Does such a church even exist today? Seems so many leaders are just eager to bask in their self imposed glory and sense of self importance. You are right, Gregory. They will answer to God for what they have done to the Mystical Body. They certainly have not guided it into the 21st century!
#10 anon on 2009-03-12 13:47
Unlike Gregory (who has the courage to sign his name), your anonymous, cowardly, and caustic response doesn't hold much water at all! "Don't talk to me about orthodox ecclesiology, canonical norms"?? Of course!!! In order to fully defend +Philip, we must ignore "canonical norms," such as those calling for priests to be married only once!!! +Philip is not a "man of courage," but a "man" of abuse of power run wild. Hardly the qualities our Lord admonished his Apostles with when He asked them to be men who, like Himself...
#11 David Barrett on 2009-03-12 23:15
Lawsuits won't make any difference here. Because of the way the doctrine of separation of church and state is interpreted by American courts, there is zero chance of reversing hierarchical decisions about eccleisiastical matters by lawsuit.
The most important precedent here for Orthodox Christians is the U.S. Supreme Court's Milivojevich decision, which ruled that patriarchates (like Belgrade) have ultimate authority in Orthodox churches in the United States, and certainly in matters of church organization. (The OCA, as an authcephalous church, excepted, but that doesn't make the OCA any more reachable by lawsuit.) American courts simply refuse to adjudicate internal church matters that don't involve violations of criminal or civil statutes (like the tax code). In fact, they are cautious even about that.
This is why lawsuits aimed at overturning the new charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese failed earlier in the decade. The legal language inserted in various charters (GOA, Antiochian, ROCOR, potentially Romanian, etc.) that offer "protections" against unilateral change by the various patriarchates and synods are not enforceable, as lots of attempts at litigation have demonstrated. So, when the Antiochian synod says that it's decree supercedes any other document, as a practical matter, it does.
Lawsuits can bleed jurisdictions by forcing them to pay lawyers to go to court. But the lawsuits themselves get thrown out.
(Editor's note: Fr. Walsh is managing editor of Religion in the News, associate director of the The Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, and visiting assistant professor of history and religion at Trinity College, CT.)
#12 Andrew Walsh on 2009-03-13 05:43
In this regard, I am curious about the language used by the AOCA in their agreement with Antioch. Was there a clause in the agreement in which Antioch gave up all rights to administrative involvement in the AOCA? I am not an expert on the Antiochian agreement, but I think not. Perhaps someone who knows the situation better could clarify. My understanding is that this "self-rule" was never really so because they were still provisions making them subject administratively to the synod in Antioch.
#13 Anonymous on 2009-03-13 08:28
If what Andrew Walsh wrote is in fact correct, it is not possible for any body of any rank in any of our churches to make a promise that can be trusted to last beyond the next synod meeting.
Congress should fix that.
(Editor's note: That would be violation of the First Amendement. It is not for Congress to fix that; it is for us to.)
#14 Anonymous on 2009-03-13 13:46
Dear Rdr. John,
Some of the concerned faithful of the OCA were fortunate to be in parishes where the priest and bishop refused to enable the misconduct going on in the OCA. I was not.
Your premise is faulty in that it fails to recognise the fact that if we were one Church in America, my community would have five parishes under one bishop instead of five jurisdictions under five bishops.
My current priest, whom I love and trust, makes the point that we live our Faith at the parish level, and I agree with him. So each of us must find the parish family in which we can grow and realize our God given potential.
This has nothing to do with denominationalism as you suggest. Rather it reflects on the broken, and sinful state of the Orthodox Church in North America.
I am encouraged by the events taking place in the OCA, and I had thought that the OCA and AOA could create a foundation for a truly American and Canadian Orthodox Church. Recent events in the AOA have dampened my hopes.
I appreciate your concerns, and hope the day will come when we are all part of one united Church in America and Canada. But, I take a great deal of comfort in knowing that we all share the treasures of our Orthodox Christian Faith, and remain brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.
#15 Marc Trolinger on 2009-03-13 15:43
As a layperson of the AOCA, who has tolerated various other uncanonical behaviors in the Archdiocese for a quite some time, I find that all this has led me to my breaking point.
Not a penny more will be given to the Church from this house until the situation changes. Better the Salvation Army or the Shriners than these people. Damascus cares only about retaining its leash for the purposes of attracting donations, and Orthodox canonical unity...
....is something all are quite willing to ignore.
#16 JayGee on 2009-03-13 16:41
May God bless you for your dedication in serving the North American Orthodoxy very genuine and professional manner. Without your site and dedicated help the OCA would never get to the bottom of its crisis. CONGRATULATION.
Please post this material as it is sent to the site, as a reply to my fellow countryman.
Dear Concerned Romanian,
It is very nice for you to touch this subject in your own fashion. But keep in mind that in each and every Orthodox entity on the North American continent there are "body guards" as protectors of the despotic hierarchs.
Did you hear about the "VATRA GARDIANDS" ... as the roeaNews.info is telling this truth very plainly?
It looks that the visit to the Romanian Patriarchate as of February 2008 by the ROEA delegation led by Archbishop Nathaniel was like a farce. The opposition of the VATRA GARDIANS is obvious a big obstacle in selling out the ROEA to the Romanian Patriarchate …
The situation is not clear due to the maneuvers of Nathaniel and his body guards. Nathaniel is having internal problems financially and administratively. On top of everything do not overlook the lawsuit brought against him by one of the ROEA priests who was abusively kicked out from the ROEA for undisclosed reasons as of yet. The OCA has been informed since March 2004 about this issue and nothing was done. It is obvious that the OCA is still covering up priests reported to the OCA chancery as being involved in sexual misconduct. Was that the reason of the ROEA Archbishop to kick out his former priest because he was part of the ROEA Spiritual Consistory as spoke to Nathaniel plainly about such a cover up of one of his former priests not defrocked yet and still part of the ROEA but unassigned? A big question Nathaniel should answer in due time.
Deacon Erik Wheeler, the OCA whistleblower who brought down the former OCA Metropolitan Herman paid of heavy price and at the present time he is not rehabilitated. The former ROEA priest as a whistleblower is paying his own price, but he is expecting to have his case heard in civil court...
Time and again the OCA inaction is lamentable...
The crisis that recently erupted within the AAOA is the result of the abuse of power of the current Metropolitan, contrary to the canonical and Archdiocese Charter provisions. Is it a sign of dictatorial abuse in the Church field? It looks that it is something like this.
Metropolitan Phillip will pay a heavy price together with the Damascus Antiochian Synod for such turmoil created as revenge against the most faithful and dedicated bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese. The meeting of the Antiochian Archdiocese hierarchs following Pascha is an indication that the crisis is real … and it is not a joke …
Hope the Romanians will think again and not fall into a trap. This month on March 21, both ROEA and ROAA Council will meet secretly in Cleveland, OH at St Mary’s Church for the first time without having any prescribed agenda.
We as Romanian orthodox are not for sell or trade.
We need peace and not interference from foreign despots. I hope this message is going to be well accepted by every Romanian Orthodox.
At the present time prefer to keep my name out of the revenge of any – one, clergy or laity.
Next time I’ll sign my name.
Have you a peaceful journey Lent.
In Christ our Lord,
A more concerned Romanian faithful.
#17 Anonymous on 2009-03-13 19:02
I don't think so. There is no need for the government to get involved in doctrinal matters (the cause of the amendment). Rather all that's needed is the ability for the people who paid for a building to be able to leave a heirarchal church with the building.
It is not sanity to expect 'us fixing it' to work out in the present mode as it requires the permission of the people who don't apply the rules to themselves and are in office for life.
#18 Anonymous on 2009-03-14 07:01
Having conveyed my own questions and concerns to Metropolitan Philip on Tuesday, I received his reply today through his spokesperson.
He appreciates the concerns that I have expressed, and indicated that the meeting of our Church leadership during Bright Week is the first of several that will be taking place in the near future. He believes that these meetings will address my concerns in a possitive way. He also indicated that he remains commited to conciliar Church governance and Orthodox Christian unity in North America.
He asked for my patience and prayers for our Church leadership, and I intend to honor his request.
#19 Marc Trolinger on 2009-03-14 13:40
I thnk we should all be patient and see what comes of the meeting of our former local synod. Nothing else we can do anyway. I will continue to tithe until then.
#20 antionomous on 2009-03-14 14:59
I can see where you are coming from but having spent a few years in the Antiochian Archdiocese I always had a sense that with all their openness to the sensibilities of Western Culture and the sometimes rather dramatic misread that certain customs and dress etc. were a sure "turn off" for potential Orthodox converts, Metropolitan Philip, for whatever justification he presents, has done precisely the one thing that will certainly "turn off" a lot of perfectly good people. Not that I think the Church should be an endless debating society or some free-for-all democracy but the arbitrary overthrowing of the Antiochian constitution and the demotion of their newly enthroned Bishops will cut a much deeper swath than some priest going about in a cassock and a ponytail. I guess it is a good thing to "wait and see" and I certainly do not wish ill to Metropolitan Philip but it seems his actions might be taken by many fair minded people as being morally flawed. Not a good image to project in my opinion.
Anyhow I have found a good home in ROCOR
#21 Reader Polycarp Sherwood on 2009-03-14 18:36
Do not be naive, Marc, the Met. will get his way as always! Ben Lomond, Joe Allen, Fr. Henke excommunication are all examples of the Papacy practiced. My Ant. parish Priest agrees but cannot speak out believing the best in Bishop MARK, a convert,who will be reassigned. So much for our Church "ecclesiology". The "I know best", system works best it is obvious!
#22 Anonymous on 2009-03-14 21:42
Now is the time for the calling of a Holy Council!
Whenever there is a breach so vast and so cutting as the most recent action by the Holy Synod of Antioch, in the past the bishops worldwide would convoke a Holy Council to debate the matter, and as a Church settle it.
I agree with those before that believe that an Auxiliary Bishop is an innovation as regards not having a ruling bishop over them in the diocese they were enthroned to serve. I have no fault with a Vicar Bishop under a ruling bishop in an individual diocese. But this has Auxiliary Bishops reporting directly to the Metropolitan Primate, yet having continued responsibility in their named diocese.
For years the faithful have waited, until their hair turned gray, for the work at Chambésy to finish and the Great and Holy Council to be called. Together with the situation in North America and elsewhere, concerning more than one bishop over the same city, may I suggest this situation is worthy of consideration at such a gathering, because it has the potential to affect the harmony of other jurisdictions. That would not be good for Orthodoxy or its pious bishops.
Therefore, I call upon all Orthodox Bishops, wherever dispersed throughout the globe together with their Holy Synods, to petition His All-Holiness, Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch to call a council to decide this grave and weighty matter and together to render a decision right for our One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. This issue is most deserving because it affects Cannon Law which dictates directly “the rules of the Church for her own organization, government, and administration.”
Subdeacon Robert Aaron
Chairman – Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black – Detroit Metropolitan Chapter
#23 Subdeacon Robert Aaron on 2009-03-14 22:52
This is not as much a doctrinal matter as it is a matter of the Church following its own laws as in the Serbian Lawsuit. How can the Holy Synod make a unilateral decision to violate the canons of the whole Orthodox Church? Every bishops takes a vow to uphold the canons, perhaps all the signataries of this decision should be brought before a spiritual court, if one that is truly spiritual can be found. Perhaps someone is trying to throw us off track?
#24 anonymous on 2009-03-15 05:48
Best of luckj with this Subdeacon, I am quite sure that they won't be able to agree on the seating arrangements....
#25 Fr Anonymous on 2009-03-15 22:52
WHAT???? You must be a new convert. This is not an issue for anyone, but the Antiochians & Antioch. + Bartholomew has no say-so in this nor should he.
#26 Anonymous on 2009-03-16 09:10
You know if such a Council was in fact called and Philip showed up that would be an instance of a Pope actually attending an Ecumenical Council.
Fr. Anonoymous is quite correct about seating arrangements taking up the bulk of business. It could take months before that item was resolved.
I am going to make a prediction regarding the whole outcome of this mess. First of all it will be Phiip's greatest blunder and one all his apologists will not be able to make better. No matter the effort employed.
When you see the first accusation rightfully leveled against Philip (by one of the former Diocesan now Auxilary Bishop's) for his communing of heretics (non-Chalcedonians) you will know the rupture is imminent.
All of a sudden "canonical" issues will be an issue. Of course I would ask why everyone is finding their canonical legs all of a sudden?...But I think this will happen prior to a genuine exodous of biblical proportions or a Bishop or two leaving with some of the flock.
I am convinced this cannot turn out well for the Antiochian Archdiocese unless the Synod decides to make these Auxilaries Metropolitans themselves. This in my opinion is the only way the crisis can be resolved. It is not a likelihood.
#27 Kevin on 2009-03-16 11:49
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