Friday, March 13. 2009
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I believe that the letter from Fr Nasr and the reply from A Concerned Priest once again raises the age-old issue that has been a sub-topic during this entire crisis: namely, that, according to some people, any desire to uncover and speak the truth about matters in the Church automatically label those speakers as people who are "out for blood" or who are "vengeful" or who want to "tar and feather" those suspected of wrongdoing. In a Reflection I wrote and that was posted on this website on 9-11-08, called "A Balanced Approach," I argued that this perspective of "tar and feather" is just the other side of the coin of wrong ecclesiology, where the other side is the "forgive-and-forget" attitude that says that, if you forgive someone, what they did wasn't so wrong in the first place, and it's no big deal.
Obviously, we need to address this issue continuously and consistently. It would behoove all of us, clergy as well as laity, to examine the Gospels and try to imitate Christ, as St Paul so often exhorts us to do. Our Lord, while not out for vengeful retribution to wrongdoers, nevertheless spoke soberly and accurately regarding the sins in His midst, especially those of the religious community (scribes and Pharisees). During Holy Week, we will hear the Lord's admonishments to these people ("Woe to you,...hypocrites!"). It would be to the spiritual advantage of all of us to listen carefully to His words, and take them to heart!
#1 David Barrett on 2009-03-13 19:10
Whatever canonical and 'spiritual' justification may be given for the actions of Met. Phillip, one thing is clear to me. People fear the Metropolitan not with a fear of holiness but an earthly fear. A fear produced by a meaness of spirit that is anthithetical to genuine leadership. That in and of itself means he is wrong.
#2 Michael Bauman on 2009-03-13 20:36
Precisely! And rampant anonymity in both the OCA and AOCA is symptomatic of an underlying spiritual sickness. Looking from the outside in, who would want to be part of a Church, no less, where people are afraid to use their names!?
#3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-03-14 05:51
I believe that most people who know Metropolitan PHILIP would describe him as a genuine man of prayer. I've met him on multiple occasions, myself, including a couple of private conversations, and that has been my impression of him every time.
Mind you, I disagree with his support of the Synod's decision, but I don't think that he is attempting to cow the Archdiocese into submission.
It is possible, of course, that some folks may have been on the receiving end of discipline from His Eminence and may thus have an "earthly fear" of him while disagreeing with him on its warrant, but I honestly can't think of any bishop in which that wouldn't be the case. Who, after getting disciplined by their bishop and not believing that discipline was right (either through genuinely being right or simply being unrepentant) would not begin to "fear" this man who can so influence their "career"?
Metropolitan PHILIP may be a bit high-handed at times, but he does not have a "meanness of spirit." He really is a loving father. I believe "Dad" is wrong about this present issue, but I don't doubt his love for a moment.
#4 An Antiochian priest on 2009-03-14 06:50
Some may think the following post is overly dramatic, but I am a dramatic person and it is really a reporting of my experience this morning as it occured.
As I was in contemplation this morning, the story of Exodus began to un-roll before my inner eye. The children of Israel in slavery to Pharoh, working in the mud pits to build Pharoah's palaces brick by brick. They were subject to all types of mistreatment even when they produced all of the bricks Pharoh wanted. Unable to pray and worship God in the Traditional manner, they appeared to be a slovenly, down trodden, barbarian rabble unfit for the riches of Pharoh's Kingdom. But God knew better.
The Children of Israel had bound themselves to Pharoah out of economic necessity and lazy forgetfulness having lost their God inspried leaders like Joseph and their unity as a people. Originally it did not appear to be a bad bargin and they even prospered until there arose a Pharoah who knew not Joseph and the cost of the bargain began to appear. Despair set upon God's children, but God knew better.
At the lowest point when Pharoh called for yet more bricks and sent his prefects and guards to enforce his will, God's wisdom appeared in the person of Moses, at one time a favorite of Pharoh, an adopted son. He came out of the desert and appeared before Pharoh pronouncing God's command: "Let my people go. Let them to be free to worhship God and attend to Him as God wishes and commands us." The battle to free the Children of Israel from foreign Pharoh had begun.
Our head bishops, many of them, have grown up under the Dhimmi attitude installed in the Church by the Ottoman Turks and in similar fashion by the Soviets. The Holy Synod of Antioch, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Patriarchate of Russia are still under various forms of Dhimmi. A hall mark of Dhimmi is the imposition of the Turkish system of rule in which one Bishop was in charge of everything. Period. He was the ruler but also the hostage. If the natives became restless, the head of the Bishop was removed, really removed. Simony was the only manner in which office was obtained. Even the OCA still suffers from the fallout of this period of our history that began in earnest in A.D.1453 but goes back even further with the fall of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria to the sword of Islam.
We are still in captivity in the United States. In Exodus many grumbled against Moses and fought God's will that the Children of Israel be free. They were afraid and strangely comfortable in their slavery. But God knew better.
Moses led them in accordance with God's will and purposes. They could have gone directly to the Promised Land, but choose idolatry over God (worshipping the created thing more than the Creator) and so wandered 40 years in the desert. Met. Joseph of Bulgaria (a small but currently peaceful corner of Orthodoxy in the U.S.) feels that the failure of Ligonier was similar in nature for us and that all the bishops then enthroned would have to die before unity and peace would be given. Whether they actually die or are simply removed, I suspect he is correct, even though there are some I would hate to loose.
Perhaps +Jonah is the Moses of the OCA and now the time is ripe for a Moses to arise in Antioch, willing and able to go before Pharoh and give God's command, Let my people go!
Or as a famous Protestant preacher once intoned; "Its Friday now and my Lord is hanging on the Cross, but Sunday's comin'"
We peons and barbarians, heir to the house of David and adopted Chilren of Israel, must be ready. We must pray and fast especially for our bishops, doing our best not to focus on persons or personalities, but on our ture enemy to which we are all enslaved. It is the time of preparation for the passover. Let us prepare in hope and with vigor crying out to our Lord and our God without ceasing; "Lord God of Hosts be with us for we have none other hope in time of troubles but Thee. Lord of Hosts have mercy on us!" Pray that He raise up a Moses for us.
If He does, then the struggles will really begin.
#5 Michael Bauman on 2009-03-14 09:39
Father, on one level I don't doubt your words and your observations. The meaness of spirit does not just come from Met. Phillip. It is part of the system that allows and encourages a despotic episcopate rather than a pastoral one. It separates the bishop from his flock, creating enmity and division where there should be none. The situation becomes one where authority replaces love rather than flowing from love.--the temptation to rule rather than to serve is aceeded to.
I have been in the Church now for 20 years I have yet to hear or read a unreserved comment of love and respect for Met. Phillip from anyone except the leaders of the EOC when they were first received.
You are correct that no one likes to be discplined, but the fear of Met. Phillip is palpable even in the absence of any current discipline.
I know and have talked to priests who have been disciplined by +Basil. While acknowledging the sting of rebuke they never once evidenced any fear of him, quite the contrary. They were only brought closer to him. His attitude encourages repentance rather than resistence. Never fear.
My son was an altar server in my parish for 14 years. He had been serving for several years when Met. Phillip first came for a visit. My son's reaction was instant dislike and mistrust (uncommon except with people who tend to be bullies).
My personal obsesrvation of Met. Phillip is that he is brusque, manipulitive and an intimidator--ultimately afraid of his flock. Everytime I struugle to reach a point where I feel I can freely honor and trust Met. Phillip, he does something like this. He makes it real tough.
But none of that is really the point. The point is he is wrong. The Synod of Antioch is wrong. They would be wrong if Met. Phillip were a universally acknowledged living saint. It is not a simple wrong either, but a profound and damaging wrong that must be corrected for the good of all of us, especially for Met. Phillip.
I can do nothing directly to change anything, I'm just a pew dweller. I can however encourage you Father and others of your dedication and service to speak prophetically with love the truth to Met. Phillp and to us. Remember the angelic salutation, 'Fear not'. If you love Met. Phillip, the Church and her people as I'm sure you do. Speak up please. God will honor you even if Met. Philllip does not (as you said, it is never easy to receive correction). It's easy for me, he can do nothing to me at all. He neither knows nor cares that I exisit. I understand that priests feel they have something to loose because Met. Phillip has power over them. In one sense that is true, but it is ultimately false, an illusion and a symptom of the very problem we face. Fear God, not man.
The real change in the OCA began when bishops and priests overcame their reticence and fear and spoke out strongly, openly even though they knew they and ther families would suffer. They acted anyway. God bless them. I hope we come to the same point much more quickly.
#6 Michael Bauman on 2009-03-14 10:26
Amen three times to the above and to Anonymous Orth Priest as all can be verified by the history ever since the AEOM oined and CONTROL was the by word of Englewood. Away in the South Met P directs all thru Bp Antoun, Thanks be to this website - can one be imagined in the Ant. Arh'd. I daresay not.
#7 Anonymous on 2009-03-14 21:25
Thanks for managing this website Mark and making yourself a target. I do love my Church and I too am greatly upset over this unjust power-play. Our bishops deserve alot better.
#8 Kevin Klein on 2009-03-15 07:08
Coming out of church this morning, I asked our pastor if he realized that he had, for the second Sunday in a row, commemorated our diocesan bishop in violation of the Archdiocesan directive. "Did I? Force of habit, I suppose. I'll have to change that the next time Metropolitan Philip comes to town," was his reply.
What was Metr. Philip thinking? First, he has the entire local synod demoted with no warning or notice and then doesn't even have the common courtesy to meet with them to discuss it until two full months after the fact. Where's the brotherly or even fatherly love in that? How can Fr. Constantine in OKC or the sheikhs in Detroit defend that kind of insulting behavior except out of a loyalty that is totally blind?
In his completely unexplanatory follow-up letter, Metr. Philip claims that he acted to preserve the unity of the Archdiocese. How does exposing the Detroit emirs' utter lack of respect for their diocesan bishop accomplish that? How does showing that convert clergy, including bishops, are always to be second-class citizens of the Archdiocese accomplish that? How does promoting strife, discord, and even open rebellion in the Archdiocese preserve its unity? If the Detroit viziers' letter was an ecclesiastical Harper's Ferry, is Fort Sumter soon to follow?
#9 Anonymous Antiochian on 2009-03-15 14:01
Metropolitan Phillip should retire. This is an act that is ungodly and unjust. I voted for autocephaly, I did NOT vote to have my dear bishop demoted. What Met Phillip and the Synod have done is awaken and mobilize their faithful whom they serve.
We should let them know of our displeasure #1
and we should stop the flow of monies to the archdiocese #2.
Speak to your fellow parishioners and direct them to this site.
#10 Christos on 2009-03-15 20:38
One of my most favorite of Orthodox writers is Bishop Kallistos Ware. I have purchased and read his books. Upon completing them, I have passed them on to others to read. There is an abbreviated form of his work on the Internet that I have bookmarked and occassionally I will re-read excerpts for my own enrichment. Of late I have read and re-read the excerpts on the episcopacy and I can't find any historic reference to "auxillary" bishops. By tradition and history this just seems to be such a foreign concept to Orthodoxy. I love the comment - we dress them up like emporers and tell them to live forever! It certainly sounds like all bishops - including patriarchs and metropolitans who, after all, are nothing more than first among equal bishops - need to understand and accept that 21st century Orthodoxy is not interested in allowing them to continue to act llike emporers. The role of bishop was not about authority and power. It was about spiritual leadership over the entrusted flock. Why does it appear to be so difficult for these men to grasp that's what we want from them today.
#11 anon on 2009-03-16 14:16
Bishops acting like Emperor's? Whose clothing do they wear? When we the faithful and dutiful laity address them what do we say? Sayedna, Master, Lord, Most Holy, Father.
Let's face it and the words of our true Lord, Master, and Teacher. (Matt:23)
We call them by names that Christ told them to refuse. We give them titles that Christ said they should flee from and yet we fall over ourselves in tempting them and when they act the part we say how dare they?
We get what we deserve. Of course these the protectors of genuine Holy Tradition ignore the source Himself in these seemingly pious exercises and we wonder how can messes like this occur?
#12 Kevin on 2009-03-16 16:48
"it is meet and right..." what has been said by MANY. Fr Anthony's diatribe represents his Met. given "honor" of Economos (a treasurer of a monastery!) Anonymity comes from many supressed for any years since the late 70's. The AOC my brothers tell me have no avenue of expression as evidenced by the "silence" before the presence of the bishops. Years ago anew Arch' board trustee member asked as to full revelation of ALL finances and endowments. Answer given, "Mind your own parish business." Sad commentary. At least w in our own OCA we have a treasurer who responds to every question asked. To his knowledge and applied record before him.
#13 Anonymous on 2009-03-16 19:50
Maybe you should ask your priest for a copy:
"I think transparency in financial matters is extremely important... So by being transparent, by being good stewards, we have done so much. So much. And we made our books available to everyone in the archdiocese. We sent our financial report to every parish, every year, to every priest, to every archdiocese trustee, let them see what is happening in the archdiocese."
-from a Nov. 2008 interview with Met. Philip, on ancientfaith.com
#14 Michael Strelka on 2009-03-17 10:17
Maybe you should look at the financial report from the Archdiocese and see that, every year, it is unaudited by any professional auditing firm. Consequently, the numbers are little more than meaningless or irrelevant.
Anyone can put together a fancy report with numbers. Anyone can send this report to everyone in the Archdiocese. If it's not audited by an independent auditor, it is worthless; simply numbers on a page.
#15 Anonymous on 2009-03-17 12:37
Yes it is absolutely TRUE. No auditors ever in the AOC. One part time Comptroller, two laymen and MET P. control ALL.... No pension plan and a farce of a "Housing Allowance" (not vested and at the discretion of the Met.P) of $800. a mo. even after 40yrs of service, I'm informed by a neighbor AOC retired Priest. No listing of EXCESS FUNDS (reported in the many Millions) or endowments with the long standing note: "if they know what we possess - they will not give anymore." Despite the few individual thieves the OCA had ("we were raped" said Met Jonah) we at least can enquire and learn of our assets. True? Call the Syosset team and you will be informed without delay on any balance in any fund!
#16 Anonymous Antiochian Priest on 2009-03-17 21:13
I guess I am just wondering - how much time have we been praying for the Bishops and Metropolitan?
I am not saying I agree with what is happening, nor am I saying that I don't. I guess I am wondering if are spending as much time praying as composing our eloquent replies. (Myself included).
Just a thought...
#17 Clinton - Ottawa, ON on 2009-03-21 06:17
The Pillars of Orthodoxy are the Saints Gregory Palamas, Photios the Great, and Mark of Ephesus. Since none of these great saints are known for living in the lap of luxury, golf junkets, a penchant for being photographed with the powerful of this world, huffing and puffing on expensive cigars,.... hunger to grab and hold on to power, looking, dressing and acting like anything except an Orthodox Hierarch, ecumenical excess...how can Met. Philip be named a "Pillar of Orthodoxy" without insulting the great saints known as the Pillars of Orthodoxy? Also it would seem that the seeming demotion of a group of ruling Diocesan Bishops to the status of Vicar Bishops to allay fears over the power of the most heavily contributing Metropolitan of the entire Church could only be undertaken by a Holy Synod that cares nothing for the Canons and desires to embark on the adoption of Papal powers. Of course, nothing new in Antioch...
#18 Anonymous on 2009-03-22 13:35
Y'know, I disagree with this step backward the archdiocese has taken, BUT I am tee'd off at those who are taking advantage of this situation to fire pot shots at my primate.
How is having a "pile on" on His Emminence, going to help resolve this conflict. IT ISN'T. Keep your pet peeves and beefs to yourself.....
#19 Antionymous on 2009-03-23 05:52
There is absolutely no canonical or spiritual justification for the actions of the Holy Synod of the Antiochian Patriarchate in the "change of status" of its Bishops. Diocesan Bishops cannot be removed, nor can their status be changed to that of a "lesser" function, except, of course, in the case of serious offenses. That case requires the testimony of several witnesses, and a subsequent trial. If found guilty, the offender is then removed from leadership of his Diocese, and deposed from the Episcopal rank. The strategy employed by the Antiochian Holy Synod is clearly and simply am egregious violation of the Holy Canons. Any "excuse" offered that the Patriarch, the Holy Synod, or the Patriarch and the Holy Synod acting jointly have a right to bypass the Canons involved are merely an attempt by the Antiochian Patriarchate to elevate itself to an "Orthodox" Papacy; an act that is truly ANTI Orthodox. Obviously, the Antiochian Patriarchate has deemed that Orthodox Conciliarity is no longer "useful" to it.
#20 A Sinner on 2009-03-23 11:26
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