Sunday, May 17. 2009
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Glory to God for all things! Thanks be to God!!!
#1 Anonymous on 2009-05-17 10:56
Excellent opinion piece by the Chancellors! The analysis is logical, thoroughly reasoned, and meticulously defended by solid references and documentation. One would expect no less from someone of Charles Ajalat's and Robert Koory's caliber, character, and professionalism. Thanks be to God for their love for the Orthodox Church and justice, logic, reason, and proper church order. Their work evidences courage and determination in defending the Orthodox flock and standing up for truth regardless of who might be "offended" or made uncomfortable. Truth is truth no matter how many times someone may choose to distort or ignore it.
Even though I am not part of the Antiochian Archdiocese, I feel proud, blessed, and reassured to know such loving and fearless Orthodox Christian men are out there willing to do what's right and just in defense of truth and righteousness. May God grant them many years!
Can I go back to venerating my bishop again? (Actually, I never stopped....)
(editor's note: Oops, your Freudian slip may be showing, friend. One venerates icons. One commemorates Bishops. Perhaps part of the problem in the Orthodox Church today is too many "venerate" their bishops, when they too need our prayers! Let's just pray with them and for them, while they are alive, rather than to them!)
#3 Antionymous on 2009-05-17 11:25
glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those with whom He is well pleased . May the Lord grant Bob Koory and Charles Ajalat many many years.
#4 anon and anon on 2009-05-17 11:41
CHRIST IS RISEN---AND IS IN OUR VERY MIDST!
Proof that some people have integrity and are honest! Thanks be to God! All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Goodness and holiness reign when even a few stand up and are willing to be counted---to the Risen Lord be the glory! Now it is in the Metropolitan's lap. Let us hope and pray that he can rise out of his ego and act for the good of the Church!
Mark: The seeds of goodness and holiness are being constantly planted and watered by your work!
PRAISE BE TO THE RISEN LORD JESUS!
In His Holy Name,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#5 Fr. Pius on 2009-05-17 11:45
I just wonder how long it will take these new job openings for Chancellors to appear in The Englewood/Damascus Times?
#6 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-05-17 12:03
Great legal opinions by top lawyers of the AOCA. Let everyone remember, no one plays "Byzantine Politics" better than + Philip & his Chancellors. Let's also remember that "civil legalities" don't cross-over into "church legalities." There is a separation. So how will all this play out? It is time for the "people" of the AOCA to speak out. Who do you want to be? Are you an American Orthodox Church of Arab ancestry or are you a diocese of the Pat. of Damascus (Antioch)? Will you make your own decisions regarding YOUR OWN church or will foreign bishops? Now is the time for decision. Your national church gathering is upon you - WHO WILL YOU BE? Who will lead after Met. Philip? Will it be someone foreign bishops choose or someone the laos of the AOCA choose? Will the BEST candidate for Metropolitan, Bishop Basil, be marginalized for an "old country" bishop?
The choice of the future for the children of the AOCA rests with the people of the AOCA - who will you decide to be?
#7 Anonymous on 2009-05-17 12:27
Me Culpa....what does that reveal about the inner me?
Yes, of course, commemorating....too many are venerating +MP....
#8 Antionymous on 2009-05-17 12:34
Just a bit of background info on Robert Koory. His son, Fr. Basil, is the dean at Bp. Mark's cathedral in Toledo. His wife, Dianne (a convert, if that makes any difference) is a well-known iconographer (she did the iconography in the Toledo Chancery chapel in Bp. Demetri's day), prints of whose icons are sold through Conciliar....
#9 Michele Hagerman on 2009-05-17 12:53
Christ is Risen!
Actually, sacking the Chancellors for giving honest legal opinions (which is one of their primary functions) would probably be actionable in civil court.
As someone else pointed out, the Chancellors had three options--the one they took, rendering an honest legal opinion; risking disbarment by giving a dishonest opinion that supported the purported dethronement of the bishops; or resigning.
Glory be to God that our Chancellors are honest, and whether through native courage or courage given by grace, have done the right thing.
#10 Subdeacon David Yetter on 2009-05-17 13:15
A note of correction: The links on the archdiocese website haven't "been removed." There just seems to be a bad link editing job on the main page:
If you click on the apparently broken links (the first two listed) and insert "node/" before the number at the end of the link (i.e., just the like the remainder of the links on the page), then you'll find they're still there:
Once again, a simple error in web editing becomes an ominous piece of tabloid ammunition!
#11 Anonymous on 2009-05-17 13:45
We will all SEE it to BELIEVE it! Do you IMAGINE that Met. P. did'nt see the Chancellors report PRIOR to publication ?? Think again. We believe Met. P. saw the handwriting on the wall or did he preplan all this? He's done it before!
#12 Anonymous Priest on 2009-05-17 14:02
I do believe that this huge crisis in the AOCA has to end soon. The opinions of the chancellors clearly demonstrate that the actions of the Patriarch (and Metropolitan Philip) are invalid. This give me and many others hope for the future. I had been told that "what the Metropolitan wants, the Metropolitan gets," but this time he seems to have overstepped his boundaries. I would never dispute that he has done good things for the Antiochian Orthodox Church in America, while at the same time ignoring unpleasant facts which contradict what he wanted to do. I thank God that Bishops Mark and Basil stood firm in their refusal to sign off on his actions. They showed great courage in the face of what appeared to be insurmountable odds against them. I pray that the Church can put this strife and turmoil behind, and demonstrate to America, cradle and convert alike, that the Orthodox Faith is alive and well in this land.
#13 anon on 2009-05-17 14:11
July 19-26, 2009. 49th Antochian Orthodox Chrisitan Archdiocese Cnvention.
If Met. Philip intends to persist in the unwise course of action, there will likely be a resolution put before the General Assembly to change our Constitution and By-laws.
It ain't over 'til its over.
#14 Michael Bauman on 2009-05-17 14:54
When the story of the American Church is finally written, this action will feature prominently.
Thank God for continuing to provide our Church with brave laymen - in the mold of St. Mark Eugenicus.
To be honest, I had a feeling St. Raphael had a few surprises in store for his friends in Damascus.
Now if we can only take the next step...it's time for the AOCA and the OCA to have an Orthodox tea party...let the Old World patriarchates play their Byzantine games in Cyprus.
The American saints are surely smiling today.
Christ is Risen!!!
Christ is Risen!
Glory to God and many thanks to the Chancellors!
#16 David Feliciano on 2009-05-17 16:16
This is indeed sad news. It means not simply that they will be dismissed at once, but in addition Poor Fr. Joseph Allen will have to take over their positions immediately. He is unfairly overworked.
#17 Ba'ab on 2009-05-17 16:21
Please be assured that the Timeline by the ASSOC. OF ORTHODOX ATTORNEYS laid before all what has led to this report. Which, by the way, was requested by "members of the Archdioces Trustees" and NOT Metr. Philip. Witnesses to the actual display of sheer dismay at the Atty Assoc. TIMELINE by Messrs. Grant, Lysaght,Jr., Porr & Turner were confirmed from Englewood! These attorneys have had their respective addresses removed from the Website. They are converts, we are told, in varied parts of the country. It was inevitable that the Chancellors (who should have been consuled "first" ) or where they (?) would not be able to deny the documented issues in this sad demotion of the Bishops. But MANY still contend this is all part of the typcal Metr. Philip play of words, decisions that will ultimately benefit him.
#18 Anonymous Ant. Laymen on 2009-05-17 19:39
From everything I know of these two gentlemen, they are faithful sons of the Church, honorable men, not dependent upon the Archdiocese for their livelihood or status. Both were intimately involved with the drafting of the Self-rule documents and know Arabic as well as English (if I am not mistaken)
That they would do any less than they are obliged to do by their profession and their faith was probably an insult to begin with.
The question remains, are the rest of us who, under their opinion and by Holy Tradition, have the same duty to both the Church and our Archdiocesan Constitution as they do, willing to proceed in the same dis-passionate manner to seek, find and stand on the truth.
#19 Michael Bauman on 2009-05-17 19:47
Neither of the chancellors know Arabic. This has to play out - agreed do you imagine that +Phlip did not see the report first! Think again! The chancellors have done Met. Philip's hatchet work on many an occasion. Some believe they cannot be trusted. Their "report" had to be as the Orthox Atty Group led the way !
#20 Anonymous - Los Angeles on 2009-05-17 19:59
I have had the honor of meeting both of these gentlemen. They are both faithful laymen who have devoted themselves to serving the Church with distinction.
But, this action has exceeded my highest expectations- I thought they would have simply resigned. Instead, they stood up for all of us who are too afraid to speak. They said what was plainly true, but cited their logic and removed the emotional hyperbole that most of us would have added.
My faith is strengthened when I see men of courage. They have shown more leadership qualities than ANY of the bishops simply by speaking the truth.
Thank you both!
#21 anonymous Antiochian priest on 2009-05-17 20:34
Doubtful whether Fr J. Allen will fill their shoes. Too busy writing another book w/ Fr Gillquist to glorify Metropolitan P. Just think how much "material" at hand to glorify this Despot of the Church. Where did Orthodoxy get that "title" ? Ahhhh byzantium in America !!
#22 Anonymous on 2009-05-17 20:36
Mark and Commentators:
Thanks so much for helping catch what was indeed only a web editing error, making the links to the www.antiochian.org posts regarding the April 24 Local Synod meeting broken. There was no intention to remove this information. The links have been fixed.
I'm certainly glad that you all brought this to light. May God have mercy on we pixel-stained editorial wretches!
Christ is Risen!
Chair, Antiochian Archdiocese Dept. of Internet Ministry
Subdeacon David Yetter expresses the opinion that it would probably be actionable in civil court if the chancellors should be dismissed by His Eminence after writing this letter. He gives us no basis for this gratuitous legal pronouncement.
While I applaud him for using his real name, I believe he is incorrect in what he asserts for several reasons.
First, I do not believe His Eminence will dismiss the two.
Second, as I understand the way the Chancellor position has worked during the tenure of these two men, it has been a labor of love. I know both men personally and it is inconceivable to me that either one would seek civil redress should His Eminence no longer require their services.
Third, if I am correct that there has been no compensation for their almost legendary and highly valued past services, there would be no damages to claim in a civil court and thus the most fundamental type of claim - for compensation - could not be supported.
Fourth, since the office of Chancellor essentially means "the Metropolitan's chosen legal advisor(s)," should he fire them there would be no recourse because the law allows a client to switch legal advisors at will. In California at least there is no provision of law that makes it actionable for client to discharge or replace an attorney whose advice is no longer welcome. Think about it a moment: would we want public policy to tie us to a doctor, lawyer or other professional whose advice we no longer found acceptable? Of course not. What absurdities would result if the opposite were true: i.e. doctors performing operations the patient had refused, or lawyers merrily asserting claims and defenses against the client's will!
Correct me on these points if you can show I am wrong, Mr. Yetter. Otherwise perhaps we could use this as a reminder that the right to speak freely should not be exercised if we are only guessing or venting.
(editor's notes: I disagree, Father. The right to speak shall not be abridged just because one is speculating on this, or any other thread, on this site. How often have we seen anonymous "speculations" on this site turn out to be real concerns? The issue is not venting or speculation, but the culture of fear, lack of transparency and lack of accountability in a Churches that necessistates anonymity, fuels speculation and encourages venting. You are confusing the symptoms with the disease.)
#24 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-05-17 21:10
This is good news for the AOCA.
Was pretty simple, though. Can't be self ruling and have someone else hand down rulings...
If a Patriarch is allowed to revoke self rule, then the churches here in America will collapse. Americans won't fund foreign Patriarchs by mandate.
It is quite simple.
I pray that Metropolitan Philip and all of his Bishops are able to manage this thing to its best outcome.
#25 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-05-17 21:53
This is, indeed, very good news! The good fight goes on. May God grant more of us the courage to see this through.
#26 Phileas on 2009-05-17 22:10
This is certainly a very embarrassing development for Bps. Antoun, Joseph, and Thomas, who must now stand before their diocesan Parish Life Conferences next month and explain to their flocks why they were so quick and eager to abandon them.
Sic semper tyrannis,
#27 Nemo on 2009-05-17 22:20
The Orthodox Church is administered by bishops, not by lawyers. A lawyer cannot just declare that a decision of the Holy Synod is "invalid". The only body that can invalidate a decision of the Holy Synod is the Local Council of that Local Church.
(editor's note: Just as the Orthodox Church had to live according to Roman law, Byzantine law, Tsarist Imperial Law, etc., the Church must live and carry on its ministry according to American law in those territories administered by the United States. Is that different in Russia? I think even less so, given the authortarian nature of contemporary Russian politics. (I suppose their is a caveat in there for exceptions, but I doubt this qualifies.) The question, therefore is, are we a nation and Church of laws and order - or something less?)
#28 Russian Observer on 2009-05-18 01:22
Civil legalities may not cross over into church legalities, but note that exemption from income taxes and property taxes may well bridge that gap to some extent. I don't know how it works with the IRS; but if, in Canada, a registered charity failed or refused either to notify Revenue Canada of amendments to its fundamental governing documents and secure RevCan's approval of those amendmentsand/or failed or refused to abide by the provisions of said documents, that organisation's tax exemption would be pulled so fast they wouldn't know what hit 'em. All organisation income would then be liable to income tax at the corporate rate, and contributions to the organisation would no longer be tax-deductible. (And Revenue Canada is not obliged even to notify the organisation of such action, but merely to publish the decision in the Government Gazette---a little newspaper that circulates only on Parliament Hill.) While governments habitually lie to the public, they become enraged and viciously vindictive if lied to by the public or any portion thereof. Bottom line: if the AOCA violates the fundamental governing documents it filed in and with the State of New York, the wrath of both the state and the IRS may fall on them like the proverbial (metric) tonne of bricks.
#29 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-05-18 04:08
The Chancellors clearly pointed out that all administrative authority within the Archdiocese was agreed upon by the Holy Synod and His Beatitude. The civil courts should uphold the agreement.
The questions remain, did MP orchestrate this to give himself an out? Unlikely, but possible.
Will he hold to his position until there is nothing left but rubble like Hitler did in Nazi Germany. Given his ego, perhaps likely.
Will Sayedna Ignatius accept that he and the Holy Synod granted self-rule in 2003 as the Time Line Illustrates?
When +MP resigns, dies or is removed will the Holy Synod act in our best interests or theirs? Are they mutually exclusive?
We will see what decision they take at their meeting on Jume 16. This will show their true colors. If they stand by their decision we will know that the majority are not men of good will.
This will have a direct impact on the National Convention with MP's removal and our decision to make a break (if they do not have good will towards us) or to continue our relationship with a loving and nurturing Mother church.
At present we must remember, they will choose our next Metropolitan. We only have one candidate, +Bp Basil. He is the ONLY ONE WE CAN ACCEPT.
#30 betrayed by philip on 2009-05-18 04:39
it makes no difference what was written by the chancellors. what people dont seem to understand is that the archdiocese constitution is not bound by legal determination. church law does not equal civil law. the church authority/holy synod is not bound by what the civil law in this land states. this will make no difference.
in fact, the first item on the agenda at the holy synod meeting in june is the re-affirmation of its decision. met philip will be present at that meeting. it is also known that once he returns from the meeting, BB and BM will no longer be serving in this archdiocese if not compliant with MP directives. It is thought that Bishop Antoun will come to the midwest to oversee the region while the southwest region will be attached to the western region overseen by the bishop joseph. its too bad all this had to happen because of two renagade bishops. FYI: Bishop Alexander was just overseas and has shown his solidarity and support to the holy synod decision.
(editor's note: As for the Synod not being bound by civil law, tell that to the IRS. One hopes they are not listening. )
#31 Anonymous on 2009-05-18 04:56
When I heard that an opinion had been requested of Messrs. Koory and Ajalat, I must admit that I had misgivings. I've seen plenty of "watered down" legal opinions in my day and was, at most, expecting one of those-- an opinion that stumbled toward ultimately saying nothing. When I head to confession next, I will be confessing the wrong that I held in my heart and professed with my mouth that these guys lacked the testosterone to do their duty to speak the truth as Christians and as lawyers. Rendering this opinion, particularly in these strong terms, had to be extremely difficult for them, as they have been close to our Metropolitan for years. Nonetheless, they did their duty. My hat is off to them. I pray that, if they do receive pressure to resign from the Board, they do not cave in but continue to speak up for the truth.
Those who are appreciative of their fine work ought to consider sending them brief notes thanking them and encouraging them to remain in their roles. You should be able to Google them up.
#32 Silouan James on 2009-05-18 05:16
Awesome. For those who think this is a site for nay-sayers these responses are proof that when Church leaders lead they recieve the loyalty and support they deserve.
#33 Anon on 2009-05-18 05:18
"met philip will be present at that meeting. it is also known that once he returns from the meeting, BB and BM will no longer be serving in this archdiocese if not compliant with MP directives. It is thought that Bishop Antoun will come to the midwest to oversee the region while the southwest region will be attached to the western region overseen by the bishop joseph."
If this should happen, say good-bye to the AOCA. Such an action will completely destroy what + Philip has built since 1968. The OCA will gain ALL the converts and the AOCA will go back to being an ethnic ghetto church with "old country" mentality. GOOD WORK!
#34 Anonymous on 2009-05-18 06:06
Dear Russian Observer,
You are evidently not very observant after all. If you re-read this article, the decision was not made by the Holy Synod of Antioch. It was made by a minority of the members of the Holy Synod. Not only was there no quorum at the meeting, but not even half of the members of the Synod were present.
#35 An East Coast Priest on 2009-05-18 06:30
To begin with, read my comments above to the non-observant Russian Observer. This decision was not made by the Holy Synod, but my a minority number of members of the Holy Synod. There is no synod within the synod that whose decisions are binding.
Second, Metropolitan Philip may or may not be present at the Synod meeting in June. He often does not attend.
Third, if Bishop Basil is suspended from service from this Archdiocese I, together with any other clergy who have any integrity, will resign my position. Contrary to what some are saying, he has not been disobedient to anything. There has been one edict issued after this decision--that diocesan bishops are no longer commemorated at liturgy. He and all of his parishes have complied with this edict--there is no disobedience.
Finally, you show ill will by calling the dioceses regions. You show that you are the only one being "disobedient." The dioceses are still called dioceses according to Englewood, so you should cease calling them regions in a silly effort to further degrade the bishops of those dioceses.
#36 An East Coast Priest on 2009-05-18 06:38
Yes, yes, yes. At this point, all you have is an order from Antioch obliging the Archdiocese to change its Constitution and By-Laws. If Philip does nothing else until these changes are made, he's safe from the law. But if he starts spending money or taking other actions as if he's in charge again (like cracking down on dissent), then he would expose himself and the Archdiocese to civil or administrative action.
#37 Anonymous on 2009-05-18 06:50
It is not testosterone, it is integrity.
#38 Anonymous Priest on 2009-05-18 07:16
As children we're taught to be gracious in both defeat and victory. Whether a document like this lays the ground for further struggle or eventual healing depends on remembering those lessons.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
The Chancellors are the attorneys for the Archdiocese, not for Metropolitan PHILIP.
#40 Jimmy the Greek on 2009-05-18 07:45
No, bishops are venerated as well, as icons of Christ.
(editor's note: By that token, we could all then be venerated for all men are made in the image (icon) of God.... but it all ends up rather confusing if we do.)
#41 anonymous on 2009-05-18 08:13
This enlightening article encapsulates all facets of this current crisis in the AOCA: spiritual, moral/ethical, and, now, *legal*!!! What is brilliant in this article is that the Chancellors, by dotting the "i's" and crossing the "t's," so to speak, have put both +Philip and the Synod in Antioch on notice that, should they continue to pursue their present course, they are in violation of firmly-entrenched laws of the land of the USA!! Hopefully, this will cause them to think twice about the matter. It is one thing to try to "snow-job" the Orthodox (be they "diocesan" or "auxiliary" bishops, priests, or laity) with rhetoric about obedience, canons, and authority. It is another thing to have to face "Caesar" in open court because of clear violations of the law. Thanks to this article, if that courtroom showdown occurs, neither +Philip nor representatives from Antioch could claim ignorance or lack of knowledge in the matter!! This article alone would prove that, not only were their actions illegal, but, also, that they were advised about the illegality of the matter and then still pursued their illegal path!! One can hope and pray that this realization on their part will result in a turning to the true spiritual, moral/ethical, and legal path that they were on before February 24th!!
Christ is Risen!!! Indeed, He is Risen!!
(editor's note: I do not think the Chancellors suggested anything "illegal" was done - only that the intended course of action, should it be fulfilled would not be in accord with civil law. )
#42 David Barrett on 2009-05-18 11:31
Thank God for lawyers! (Did I just say that?--Yes!)
#43 Q on 2009-05-18 12:06
Churches in the US are not required to file any documentation to receive a tax exemption under the IRS code, nor are annual filings made. There is a notification requirement that identifies the employer identification number with the Church, however that filing is prefunctory and there is no information required other than (basically) we're a church. It is up to the IRS to dispute that status.
Non-church exempt organizations are required to file and report annually on Form 990 - which are available for review from any number of sites (I like Guidestar.org, personally). OCMC is not required to file, as it is a "religious organization", however IOCC does file, because they are not doing religious but charitable work.
Hope this helps. Christ is Risen!
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#44 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-05-18 12:15
I agree completely, Fr. John. We are all in need of healing from this crisis, regardless of which "side" we are on. As an attorney, I have been troubled by the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch's February decision from the start, precisely for many of the reasons set forth by Chancellors Ajalat and Koory. From the many anonymous messages submitted to this and other websites, it is clear that many people are afraid of showing their faces while speaking their minds (whether that be truth or opinion). I congratulate the Chancellors for boldy stating their legal opinions and backing up those opinions with documentation and sources. This is not a half-hearted opinion, or one that leaves much wiggle room for interpretation. Their opinion is clear that the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch is invalid and does not apply to this Archdiocese. Furthermore, their advice to the heirarchs, Board of Trustee Members and the everyone else in the Archdiocese as members of the General Assembly is that their duty to the Archdiocese and our status as a self-ruling entity comes first, over loyalty to any one person. This cannot have been what Metropolitan Philip, or anyone else supportive of the February 24 decision from Antioch would have wanted in a legal opinion. But it is what they got. With citations and sources. And from people who aren't afraid to use their names.
I think it is important to note that nowhere in any of the official proclamations, published letters, or other pronoucements has any bishop been accused of any wrongdoing. God willing, that will continue. Hopefully the clergy and laity will decline to engage in accusations or speculations regarding motivations or ill will among the heirarchs. This is unhelpful and an impediment to true healing. Regardless of how this all plays out and what decisions are ultimately made, I pray that we move forward together and that there are no winners and losers here, other than the Church and the Orthodox faith once again prevailing over the continuous efforts of Satan to bring it down.
#45 David Najjar on 2009-05-18 12:36
Canon 28 of the 4th Ecumenical Council - Relevant Or Irrelevant Today?
Talk given by Metropolitan Philip, Primate of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese at the Conference of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius held at St. Vladimir's Seminary, June 4-8, 2008.
Met. Philip Saliba
Met. Philip Saliba
Of all the canons dealing with Church authority and jurisdiction, there is probably none more controversial and debated in inter-Orthodox circles today than Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, held in the city of Chalcedon in the year 451. Those of us familiar with Church history know that the Ecumenical Council was called to put an end to the ongoing Christological debates of the time. While this was the main focus of the Council, like other councils before and after, it dealt with other pressing issues of the day. Canon was no exception. It reads as follows:
Following in every detail all the decrees of the holy Fathers and knowing about the canon, just read, of the one hundred and fifty bishops dearly beloved of God, gathered together under Theodosius the Great, emperor of pious memory in the imperial city of Constantinople, New Rome, we ourselves have also decreed and voted the same things about the prerogatives of the very holy Church of this same Constantinople, New Rome. The Fathers in fact have correctly attributed the prerogatives (which belong) to the see of the most ancient Rome because it was the imperial city. And thus moved by the same reasoning, the one hundred and fifty bishops beloved of God have accorded equal prerogatives to the very holy see of New Rome, justly considering that the city that is honored by the imperial power and the senate and enjoying (within the civil order) the prerogatives equal to those of Rome, the most ancient imperial city, ought to be as elevated as Old Rome in the affairs of the Church, being in the second place after it. Consequently, the metropolitans and they alone of the dioceses of Pontus, Asia and Thrace, as well as the bishops among the barbarians of the aforementioned dioceses, are to be ordained by the previously mentioned very holy see of the very holy Church of Constantinople; that is, each metropolitan of the above-mentioned dioceses is to ordain the bishops of the province along with the fellow bishops of that province as has been provided for in the divine canons. As for the metropolitans of the previously mentioned dioceses, they are to be ordained, as has already been said, by the archbishop of Constantinople, after harmonious elections have taken place according to custom and after the archbishop has been notified.
Proper Interpretation of Canon 28
The issue of the proper interpretation of Canon 28 and its relationship to the so-called "disapora" is crucial, not only to the Church in North America, but to the relationship of all Orthodox churches worldwide to each other, and to their witness to the world. As Patriarch ALEKSY of Russia has said: "The question of the Orthodox diaspora is one of the most important problems in inter-Orthodox relations. Given its complexity and the fact that it has not been suffi ciently regularized, it has introduced serious complications in[to] the relations between Churches and, without a doubt, has diminished the strength of Orthodox witness throughout the contemporary world." (For more information on the historical background of Canon 28, I recommend the book The Church of the Ancient Councils: The Disciplinary Work of the First Four Ecumenical Councils, by the late Archbishop PETER L'Huillier, published in 1996 by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.)
The issue of the proper interpretation of Canon 28 and its relationship to the so-called "disapora" is crucial, not only to the Church in North America, but to the relationship of all Orthodox churches worldwide to each other, and to their witness to the world.
It is my opinion that there are three types of canons: 1) Dogmatic; 2) Contextual; and 3) "Dead" canons. Canon 28 is by no means a "dead" canon, since there is still great controversy over it today, and so many commentaries, both past and present, show how controversial it has been, to say the least. I believe that Canon 28, historically, is a contextual canon and not a dogmatic one; it gave the city of Constantinople certain rights as the New Rome for secular, political reasons because it was the seat of the emperor. At the same time, the Fourth Ecumenical Council considered (Old) Rome to be the first among equals. What does this say to us today? Let us begin by stating that the whole idea today of "Rome," "New Rome," and "Third Rome" would be absurd. If we want to give prominence to any city in Christendom, we should give it to Jerusalem, where the history of salvation was accomplished.
The second part of the Canon dealt with the Dioceses of Pontus, Asia and Thrace. Canon 28 gave Constantinople jurisdiction over the metropolitans of the barbarians and those three provinces or dioceses, which today are only Bulgaria, Northeastern Greece and European Turkey.
We can also ask, Is this Canon dealing with a dogmatic issue or a pastoral administrative one? In my opinion it clearly deals with an administrative question. If Antioch or Alexandria had become the seat of imperial power, likely this Canon would have made either of them New Rome. If we were to follow the reasoning of Canon 28, in fact, then Russia could rightfully claim, as it did historically, to be the Third Rome, and the Church of Greece could have made the claim to be the Fourth Rome during the captivity of the Russian Church under Communism.
Given the lack of a new Great Council, common sense would dictate that, with the current captivity of the church in Constantinople (whose indigenous flock totals just a few thousand), there is no reason for Canon 28 and it is no longer relevant today. We do have a problem, however: we have a responsibility to the past and the councils of the past, but there is no Great Council to address this issue. We must therefore explore other solutions.
The Relevance of Canon 28 Today
Constantinople's Long Arm
While the Canon is not relevant to the question of different "Romes," it is profitable for us to look at its relevance today, especially to the subject of administrative organization in North America. We are well aware of the complex issues regarding the so-called "diaspora" and the desire of our Orthodox people, especially in North America, to have an administratively united church. As you must know, there are basically two interpretations of this Canon that extend back into history. Some claim that this Canon implies that Constantinople has authority over all territories outside the geographical limits of autocephalous churches.
Those on the other side of the argument say that this interpretation is, in fact, misinterpretation. Archbishop PETER in his book, The Church of the Ancient Councils, states that "such interpretation is completely fantastic." For those holding this view, any autocephalous church can do missionary work outside her boundaries and can grant autocephaly to such missions. Archbishop PAUL of Finland, in summarizing the position of the Orthodox churches, has stated in the reports submitted in 1990 to the Preparatory Commission for the Great and Holy Council that "the Patriarchates of Antioch, Moscow and Romania strongly oppose the authority of Constantinople over the diaspora and [maintain] that the theory remains an anachronism as far from the modern age as the year 451 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council is from the Twentieth Century."
Patriarch ALEKSY of Russia has stated that "...until the 1920's the Patriarch of Constantinople did not in fact exercise authority over the whole of the Orthodox diaspora throughout the world, and made no claim to such authority."
Patriarch ALEKSY of Russia has stated that it was only in 1921 that Patriarach MELETIOS Metsakis developed a theory of universal jurisdiction for Constantinople. "Historical facts indicate that until the 1920's the Patriarch of Constantinople did not in fact exercise authority over the whole of the Orthodox diaspora throughout the world, and made no claim to such authority." The Russian Orthodox Church responded in a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding the case of Bishop BASIL (Osborne) as follows: "With respect to Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon, it is vital to recall that it concerns only certain provinces, the boundaries of which represent the limits of the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople over the bishops 'of the barbarians.'"
We see, then, that the notion that this Canon extends the authority of the throne of Constantinople to all territories that are not part of one or another local church is a novelty, and one not recognized by the Orthodox Church as a whole. This misinterpretation of Canon 28 would extend beyond territorial issues to such things as the claim that a representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople should chair any Episcopal assembly, anywhere in the world. This claim can extend down to local clergy groups, Pan-Orthodox associations and organizations, and so forth.
Weaknesses in SCOBA
In 1961, we in the United States and Canada formed the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops (SCOBA) in the Americas (SCOBA). I have been a member of SCOBA since 1966. The misinterpretation of Canon 28 has not been helpful to the work of SCOBA. In my opinion, SCOBA has four major defects. First, the representation of the Orthodox Churches in SCOBA does not reflect reality in North America. Neither the Moscow Patriarchate nor the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) are represented in SCOBA, while the Ecumenical Patriarchate has four of the nine seats.
Second, the insistence that the Exarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople must be the President of SCOBA is not what was agreed upon at the beginning. The constitution of SCOBA which has never been amended, provides that there shall be a rotating presidency. Subsequently, at the insistence of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Archbishop SPYRIDON and then Archbishop DEMETRIUS were elected by the SCOBA members after the retirement of the later Archbishop IAKOVOS of thrice-blessed memory.
The third defect of SCOBA is that its decisions are not internally binding. In the 1990 documents before the Preparatory Commission for a Great and Holy Council, in discussing the Western European situation, some autocephalous churches suggested the formation of Episcopal Assemblies whose decisions can be internally binding.
I would like to quote here again from the letter from the Russian Orthodox Church to the Preparatory Commission. "The relations between jurisdictions and dioceses to the Mother Churches would remain the same, but in all purely internal matters, which would include education, teaching, the diakonia, Orthodox witness, ecumenical relations on the local level, pastoral practice, the Bishops' Assembly would serve in joint effort as one whole unit and autonomous in its relationship to the mother church." This Bishops' Assembly, for example, would address non-canonical situations in North America such as the infringement of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in North America with the blessings of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Most of the people in my Archdiocese have no intention of returning to their place of origin...Our people are here to stay, and we are indeed an indigenous church in North America.
A fourth problem with SCOBA, I believe, is the assumption that we are a "disapora." On the contrary: the only way to move the cause of Orthodox unity forward in North America is to insist that we are not a "disaspora." We have been here two hundred years. The late Protopresbytr, John Meyendorff, of blessed memory, states in an essay in his book A Vision of Unity that diaspora is a biblical term and has a perfectly adequate equivalent - "dispersion." He says later in the same article: "There is no promised land any more except the heavenly Jerusalem."
Most of the people in my Archdiocese have no intention of returning to their place of origin. This is true even of new immigrants, let alone those of the third or fourth generation. Our people are here to stay, and we are indeed an indigenous church in North America. I believe that the Church in North America is mature enough to take care of herself without any interference from the outside. Those who support an ethnocentric reading of Canon 28 and insist that unity on a national basis cannot be discussed, then, are naïve and bury their heads in the sand. While they may delight in holding lectures and conferences on the environment, the witness and mission of the church is ignored.
A Church Based on Nation-States, not Ethnicity
The Orthodox principle is not to organize the church based on ethnicity, but, in the modern world, upon the nation-state. Ironically enough, when ethnic ecclesiology began to flourish and prosper in the nineteenth century, it was the Pan-Orthodox Synod of Constantinople itself that condemned ecclesiological ethno-phyletism as a heresy in 1872. During our Archdiocese Convention last July in Montreal, Canada, I shared with my clergy and laity what I said on the subject to my brother bishops at the Archdiocesan Synod Meeting on May 31, 2007, and I summarize my thoughts in what follows.
Since 1966, I have lived with two obsessions: 1) The unity of our Archdiocese; and 2) Orthodox unity in North America. Where are we now in regard to this latter unity? Unfortunately, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America is now divided into more than fifteen jurisdictions based on ethnicity, contrary to the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils. Our canons clearly state that we cannot have more than one bishop over the same territory, and one metropolitan over the same metropolis. I regret to tell you that we Orthodox are violating this important ecclesiological principle in North America, South America, Europe and Australia. In New York, for example, we have more than ten Orthodox bishops over the same city and the same territory. I can say the same thing about other cities and territories in North America.
We are not alone; the same thing has happened in Paris, France. There are six co-existing Orthodox Bishops with overlapping ecclesiological jurisdictions. In my opinion and in the opinion of Orthodox canonists, this is ecclesiological ethno-phyletism. This is heretical. How can we condemn ethno-phyletism as a heresy in 1872 and still practice the same thing in the twenty-fi rst century here in North America? When I lived in Damascus, Syria, and Beirut, Lebanon, in the early 1950s, there were large Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox communities there, but they were not under the Archbishop of Athens or the Patriarchate of Moscow, but under the omophorions of the Antiochian local bishops. Due to wars and social upheaval, we now have a large Lebanese community in Athens, Greece, and they are under the omophorion of the Archbishop of Athens. They do not have a separate jurisdiction just because they are Lebanese Orthodox.
Archimandrite Gregorios Papathomas, a professor of Canon Law and Dean of St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, France, wrote, "The defining criterion of an ecclesiastical body has been its location. It has never been nationality, race, culture, ritual or confession." In First Corinthians (1:2) St. Paul writes, "To the Church of God which is at Corinth . . . ," and again in Second Corinthians he writes, "To the Church of God which is at Corinth . . . ." He writes to the Galatians, "To the Church of Galacia . . ." (1:2). We learn from the Apostles and the Fathers that the church is one church, one and the same church, the body of Christ, found in Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Constantinople, Greece, Rome, Russia, and so forth. Based on all of this, it is simply wrong to call the church Russian or Greek or American, because the church, in essence, transcends nationalism, race and culture. Here in North America we distort Orthodox ecclesiology by our ethnic jurisdictions.
The Challenge of Orthodox Unity
The twenty-first century has dawned upon us. What, then, is to be our response to the challenge of Orthodox unity in North America? SCOBA was established in 1961; some of its founders were the late Archbishop IAKOVOS and the late Metropolitan ANTONY Bashir. May their souls rest in peace. Under "Objectives" in Paragraph I, Section C, the original constitution of SCOBA, adopted January 24, 1961, states that "the purpose of the conference is the consideration and resolution of common ecclesiastical problems, the coordination of efforts in matters of common concern to Orthodoxy, and the strengthening of Orthodox unity." Last year, between October 3 and 6, SCOBA invited all canonical Orthodox Bishops to meet in Chicago, Illinois, to discuss common Orthodox problems. The communiqué issued on October 5, 2006, did not mention a word about Orthodox unity in America.
Again in November, 2006, a meeting of Inter-Orthodox priests met in Brookline, Massachusetts. A draft statement dated January 22, 2007, was circulated and not a word about Orthodox unity in North America was mentioned. I am convinced that serious attempts are being made, by some hierarchs in North America and abroad, to sweep the whole question of Orthodox unity, in this hemisphere, under the rug. After the Brookline encounter, one of my Antiochian clergy wrote to me the following: "Two of the Greek priests gave very strong talks on unity. We did decide, however, that given the landscape, we would use the word 'cooperation' and not 'unity' in our printed records." This statement, my friends, speaks for itself.
We Orthodox must put our house in order, if we want to have a serious Orthodox mission in North America.
I believe that an Ecumenical Council would be very difficult at this time. It would probably cause a division, or numerous divisions in the Church, and this would be counter-productive. After all, if an issue such as changing the calendar causes splits and division, imagine what would happen if we were to discuss more serious issues. Fortunately or unfortunately, we no longer have the Byzantine emperor to enforce decisions that such a council might make.
As an alternative, I propose the formation of an inter-Orthodox commission, located some place like Geneva, Switzerland, on which each autocephalous church and each self-ruled church would have a permanent representative. To this commission they would bring issues and problems to be discussed on behalf of the mother churches, and they would deal with specific Orthodox problems throughout the world. The decisions of the commission would be submitted to all mother churches for action.
With all the obstacles we face, have we reached a dead end? No, with the All-Holy Spirit working in the Church, there are no dead ends. I am sure that thousands of Orthodox clergy and hundreds of thousands of Orthodox laity in North America are deeply committed to Orthodox unity. We Orthodox must put our house in order, if we want to have a serious Orthodox mission in North America. This unity will begin with our clergy and laity, on the local level. My generation is slowly, but surely, fading away. It is up to you and our younger generation to carry the torch and to make the light of a unified Orthodoxy shine on this continent and everywhere.
#46 Hypocricy? on 2009-05-18 13:21
You obviously don't know at all what you're talking about....
#47 Antionymous on 2009-05-18 14:03
"in fact, the first item on the agenda at the holy synod meeting in june is the re-affirmation of its decision. met philip will be present at that meeting."
Surely he will argue against the decision. What a relief this opinion must be for him! Surely it was breaking his heart to feel compelled to enforce the Holy Synod's decision, which he had absolutely nothing to do with. (Oh, I know — he pretended to agree — but really he was just trying to put a good face on things.)
As to the place civil law has in the affairs of the Archdiocese, we need only quote the metropolitan himself: "we have a mechanism for amending the constitution which we cannot overstep. If we do
overstep this mechanism, then any parishioner may sue us before the civil courts" [ http://is.gd/B6dV ].
And, while a change to the constitution could be proposed, but first it must pass — as Met. Philip so astutely points out — the Department for Legal Affairs, before being sent to all parishes for deliberation. As we see from the opinion of the chancellors, the Legal Department would have to kill any amendment allowing the other bishops to be reduced to auxiliaries, since this would be contrary to Self-Rule.
As you can see, Met. Philip did a darn fine job locking things up so that America would always have its diocesan bishops. Sometimes we don't know our own strength — but then it's never really our own, is it?
#48 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-05-18 14:43
So he won't dismiss them, you think? No, I suppose not. I mean, even if he wanted to, it'd be a bit obvious ....
That should pose an insoluble problem for anyone trying to amend the constitution to allow for the demotion of the diocesan bishops. Amendments have to go through the Department of Legal Affairs first, and the lawyers have now made it clear that turning the other bishops into auxiliaries would amount to the cancellation of Self-Rule and therefore be an impossible contradiction.
In short, with these chancellors — unless everyone votes for a new constitution that surrenders Self-Rule — the AOA will always have diocesan bishops.
Am I missing anything here? (I am, of course, not a lawyer.)
#49 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-05-18 14:59
Christ is Risen!
I had assumed that the Chancellors were paid by the Archidiocese. If, you are correct that their work is pro-bono, you are also correct that there would be no actionable tort on the basis of a wrongful dismissal from their posts for giving honest legal advice.
#50 Subdeacon David Yetter on 2009-05-18 15:48
The following article was published in 2006 (?) by Metropolitan EPHRAIM of Boston and the East of the Old calendarist Holy Orthodox Church in North America, and is particularly relavent in this case:
Has anyone ever heard of an adulterer-usurper bishop? What is an adulterer-usurper [in Greek,
mihepivátis] bishop? First of all, The Rudder has many holy canons that deal with such bishops.
An adulterer-usurper bishop is a bishop who tries to take over another diocese in addition to his
own. Or, he seeks to take over a diocese that is bigger and/or more important than his own
Why do the holy canons forbid this?
Because once a bishop becomes a ruling bishop of a certain diocese, he is, literally, wedded to it
forever. It’s a marriage with no divorce; it’s “for better or for worse”, as the saying goes. That’s
why, when bishops [including, of course, metropolitans, archbishops or patriarchs] die, their
dioceses are called “widowed” dioceses. Also, if such a bishop tries to take over another diocese,
he becomes an “adulterer” [because he’s married already]!
Adulterer-usurper bishops are the bane of so-called World-Orthodoxy — but also, alas, of many
old calendarist jurisdictions in Greece and elsewhere. The basic problem is human ambition, or
greed, or both. As the Church writings say again and again, such bishops love chrysón [gold]
more than Christón [Christ]. Believe it or not, sometimes such bishops will try to get a bigger or
more important diocese by campaigning openly for it, as though it were a political office!
The Greek people have a saying: “Authority shows the man.” That is to say, when a person
receives a position of authority that’s when you’ll see what kind of person he really is. This
happens with bishops too, some of whom, alas, are quite ambitious.
Surprisingly, these men can often be detected. In the Lives of the Saints and in the holy canons,
they are very often described as “tyrannical” [or, as we say in America, “control freaks”] and
greedy. In the secular world, with the CEO’s of big corporations, for example, this type of person
is almost the norm. But in the Church of God, they are disasters. As the Church Fathers tell us
time and again, these men are not true shepherds.
It was mentioned earlier that this type of bishop is one of the banes of “World Orthodoxy”.
“World Orthodoxy” bishops are not Orthodox, of course, so you would expect to see this type of
CEO bishop among them. In a way, though, adulterer-usurper bishops are worse than non-
Orthodox bishops. Non-Orthodox bishops are, after all, outside of the Church, but adultererusurper
bishops are often inside the Church. They are like foxes inside the chicken-coop!
May God preserve us from such bishops. As the holy canons teach us again and again, we must
be on our guard and reject such “shepherds” and not accept them, or commemorate them. Their
actions, say the holy canons, make them liable to deposition [i.e., defrockment]. “Stand fast and
hold the traditions ye have received” [II Thess. 2:15]! Be on your watch!
Some Canons About “Adulterer-Usurper” Bishops
CANON 15 of the First Ecumenical Council (A.D. 325)
ON account of the great disturbance and discords that occur, it is decreed that the custom
prevailing in certain places contrary to the Canon, must wholly be done away; so that neither
bishop, presbyter, nor deacon shall pass from city to city. And if any one, after this decree of the
holy and great Synod, shall attempt any such thing, or continue in any such course, his
proceedings shall be utterly void, and he shall be restored to the Church for which he was
ordained bishop or presbyter.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON 15.
Neither bishop, presbyter, nor deacon shall pass from city to city. But they shall be sent back,
should they attempt to do so, to the Churches in which they were ordained.
CANON 21 of Antioch (A.D. 341)
A BISHOP may not be translated from one parish to another, either intruding himself of his own
suggestion, or under compulsion by the people, or by constraint of the bishops; but he shall
remain in the Church to which he was allotted by God from the beginning, and shall not be
translated from it, according to the decree formerly passed on the subject.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON 21.
A bishop even if compelled by the people, and compelled by the bishops, must not be translated
to another diocese.
CANON 1 of Sardica (A.D. 347)
HOSIUS, bishop of the city of Corduba, said: A prevalent evil, or rather most mischievous
corruption must be done away with from its very foundations. Let no bishop be allowed to
remove from a small city to a different one: as there is an obvious reason for this fault,
accounting for such attempts; since no bishop could ever yet be found who endeavoured to be
translated from a larger city to a smaller one. It is therefore evident that such persons are
inflamed with excessive covetousness and are only serving ambition in order to have the repute
of possessing greater authority. Is it then the pleasure of all that so grave an abuse be punished
with great severity? For I think that men of this sort should not be admitted even to lay
communion. All the bishops said: It is the pleasure of all.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON 1.
NO bishop is to be found passing from a smaller to a greater city. If anyone should move from an
humble to a more important see, he shall be excommunicated through his whole life as proud and
CANON 2 of Sardica (A.D. 347)
BISHOP HOSIUS said: But if any such person should be found so mad or audacious as to think
to advance by way of excuse an affirmation that he had brought letters from the people [laity], it
is plain that some few persons, corrupted by bribes and rewards, could have got up an uproar in
the church, demanding, forsooth, the said man for bishop. I think then that practices and devices
of such sort absolutely must be punished, so that a man of this kind be deemed unworthy even of
lay communion in extremis. Do ye therefore make answer whether this sentence is approved by
you. They [the bishops] answered: We approve.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON 2.
If anyone shall pass from one city to another, and shall raise up seditions, tickling the people and
be assisted by them in raising a disturbance, he shall not be allowed communion even when
CANON 48 of Carthage (Nicene Series)
Of re-baptisms, re-ordinations, and translations of bishops.
BUT we suggest that we decree what was set forth by the wisdom of the plenary synod at Capua,
that no re-baptizing, nor re-ordinations should take place, and that bishops should not be
translated. For Cresconius, bishop of Villa Regis, left his own people and invaded the Church of
Tubinia and having been admonished down to this very day, to leave, according to the decree,
the diocese he had invaded, he treated the admonition with disdain. We have heard that the
sentence pronounced against him has been confirmed; but we seek, according to our decree, that
ye deign to grant that being driven thereto by necessity, it be free to us to address the rector of
the province against him, according to the statutes of the most glorious princes, so that whoever
is not willing to acquiesce in the mild admonition of your holiness and to amend his lawlessness,
shall be immediately cast out by judicial authority. Aurelius the bishop said: By the observance
of the constituted form, let him not be judged to be a member of the synod, if he has been asked
by you, dear brethren, to depart and has refused: for out of his own contempt and contumacy he
has fallen to the power of the secular magistrate. Honoratus and Urban the bishops said: This
pleases us all, does it not? And all the bishops answered: It is just, it pleases us.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON 48.
Let there be no re-baptisms, nor re-ordinations nor translations of bishops. Therefore let
Cresconius be forbidden by judicial authority, for he has left his own people, and has taken
possession of the diocese of Ceneum, although ecclesiastically admonished that he was not to
#51 John Peter Presson on 2009-05-18 16:22
The Chancellors are appointed by +MP but represent the Archdiocese, the DIOCESAN Bishops, the Board of Trustees as well as +MP.
Hopefully, we are not confusing the Archdiocese with +MP. The Church will hopefully go on long after we are gone.
Though I beleive it was St Seraphim of Sarov that predicted the suffering of the Russian people. He stated the Lord promis was the "gates of hell will not prevail against His Church."
This did not mean and does not guarantee the survival of an independent expression of the Church, i.e, the Russian, the AOCA or the Patriarchate of Antioch for that matter.
I believe we have come to a cross roads.
The Chancellors would have discussed the situation with +MP. Obviously the have reached an impass with him.
Therefore they have chosen to inform the Board of Trustees of their LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES to the ARCHDIOCESE. It is time for loyalty to ORTHODOXY to prevail over LOYALTY to +MP.
The two are not the same.
+MP obviously is resisting reason and he needs to be persuaded.
Let us continue to write witholding money from the Order of St Ignatius. Cancel membership if necessary.
Parishes must begin to halt and or slow down payments to the Archdiocese. The economy is tight. Mai gets lost. The treasurer is on vacation, etc., etc., etc. . . .
Let those who have +MP's ear foot the bills for a while as they are the only ones he hears.
It is time for a good ole fashion Boston Tea Party. Isn't that where he betrayed us?
#52 anon and anon on 2009-05-18 19:46
To Anonymous #22. God Bless you!
#53 Michael Bauman on 2009-05-18 20:15
This is all very new stuff to me.
I was quite happy as a child going to Sunday school in Clayton, WI.
I did not care there were other Orthodox churches led by other Bishops in another town. Had my churches town been bigger, still I would not have cared.
Thank God for the OCA.
The leadership of the church serves what purpose?
In my not so humble opinion, it would be to make sure the clergy is doing its job.
Why can that purpose not be served in some fashion with overlapping geographies?
Everyone sees two different Bishops of New York as a problem, but as a layperson, I couldn't care less unless they started teaching different stuff. And I know they do to a small degree, but traditions vary within dioceses as well.
#54 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-05-18 21:18
Only one solution and that is freedom from all foreign alliances except for needed funds and "support". WHY then Metropolitan Philip the need for you having more Bishops in N. America? Did not Metr. Maximos (GOA) not insist that the new Bishop Thomas (AOC) not be stationed in Pittsburgh - now bearing the title of "Oakland". Where's that? C anon 28 or not why install more Bishops for the same area? Phyletism!
(Editor's note: If one is going to play that game, there was an OCA Bishop in Pittsburgh long before Maximos had his title. "Why install another? Phyletism! " This is just another case of the pot calling the kettle black. It doesn't matter whether the bishop is the bishop of Pittsburgh, Oakland or Alllison Park. The problem of verlapping Bishops damages the integrity of the system.)
#55 Anonymous Priest on 2009-05-18 23:18
Dear Fr. Deacon,
Thanks! If it's all the same to you, I won't tell our parish treasurer how it is in the U.S., so as not to lead her into the sin of envy. She gets so fed up with all the reporting we have to do up here! One benefit, though: we get back 50% of the federal sales tax everybody pays on goods and services.
#56 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-05-19 03:34
The way we conduct ourselves in the heat of battle has much to do with how the peace that follows will unfold. It should be noted among us that truth and grace go hand in hand.
Perhaps one the good things that could come out of this is a renewed understanding of how much we, who are all sinners prone to struggle and error, need each other not just as giving units or some part of a master plan or ambition, but as brothers and sisters in the Church. In the Church the respect, care, and love need to go not just from the bottom up but also from the top down, and horizontally as well.
I hope, too, that the repentance that can emerge from this will soften the soil of our hearts to make it ready for the rain of the Holy Spirit. Often a period of struggle and cleansing is the precursor to revival and new life as God loves us enough to challenge us all to put aside lesser things and seek first the Kingdom.
I'm optimistic about the future, not because we don't have things to face, we do, but rather because God remains who He is and nothing, not even our own wanderings, changes that or His love and care for us. I keep an icon of the prodigal son in my home to remind me of that and I trust that as we come to our senses we will surely find our way home.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
Again, and I restate, as a small child, there is no understood, perceived, or appreciated consequence of multiple Bishops in the same city presiding over different churches.
When parishoners start moving from church A to church B because church B follows a different set of rules, then the child is affected.
I would ask everyone to follow in the footsteps of our recently deceased Fr. Mileta Simonivich and consider the children first in the discussion of this perceived problem.
It is only a problem if the children are affected if you ask me.
#58 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-05-19 05:23
Obviously the person who is treading water here does not understand or rfuses to understand +Mp has lost all credibility with the people of the AOCA and perhaps many of the Holy Synod.
Look at the documentation of the Orthodox Christain Attorneys.
+*MP cannot be trusted to accuarately represent the AOCA to the Holy Synod.*
Nor can he be trusted to accurately represent the Holy Synod to the AOCA of NA. He has shown himself to be untrustworthy, deceitful and manipulative.
Lord, have mercy!
Additionally why would are Bishops who have done nothing in his "own words face consequences, whe +Bp Demitri just registered again in the state of Florida as a sex offender so he can continue serving in Puerto Rico?
What a Church? Forgive me. Not what a Church, what a leader we have in +MP
*Reward the one who plead guilty to a FELONY OFFENSE
of sexually molesting a women
while HIGHLY intoxicated
at a CASINO
using all kinds of vulgar language
*and punish those who simply disagree with you or question your judgement*.
We have a perfect example of his judgement with +Bp Demetri
LORD, HAVE MERCY
It is truly time for the Holy Synod to act ON BEHALF of the AOCA by retiring +MP and allowing us to nominate a new Primate in accordance with the Constitution they approved.
We do not want to separate from Antioch, we want all to act with purity and holiness.
#59 BETRAYED BY PHILIP on 2009-05-19 05:40
So much for seperation of church/religion and state. So, in one sense, Uncle Sam has help foot the bill for our Churches, seminaries, vestments, clergy salaries, etc. I suppose we shouldn't get too suprised if and when Uncle Sam starts telling us what we can and cannot do or say in our churches, heck he own a good share of it.
(Editor's note: Your concerns are misplaced. The state has no interest in the Church, other than making sure that if the Church wants the wonderful benefits of state registration ( tax exemption, etc) the Churches so registered obey their own legal documents of incorporation. That is hardly Uncle Sam telling the "churches what to do..." . The bottom line here is that the Churches should not hide behind the First Amendment like gangsters hide behind the Fifth.)
#60 Anonymous on 2009-05-19 06:30
CHRIST IS RISEN---AND IS IN OUR VERY MIDST!
EXCELLENT! Totally true...totally comprehensive...exact in totality!
In His great mercy,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#61 Fr. Pius on 2009-05-19 07:20
Daniel, as someone in the GOA, I can verify that it begins to matter when "being Greek" becomes infinitely more important than being Orthodox, and such an attitude not only comes from within the parishes, but from the top down.
It's kind of hard to explain "why" it's a problem, and only once someone has lived through the problems can they really grasp the gravity of the situation, but I think all the posts here should clear up some things for you.
I'm sure in the OCA it probably really isn't much of an issue as you pointed out. But for those of us in jurisdictions that get their orders from overseas, (or from Bishops were spent most of their life overseas then come here and then plan on retiring overseas) it becomes a big issue. How many times do OCA parishes see their Bishop? I have no idea, but I bet it's a whole lot more than outlying GOA parishes do, especially GOA parishes with a significant amount of converts. (again I speak from hands on experience)
I used to take the exact position that you did, and thought people who fought over this were just ultra legalists trying to enforce some ancient canon that means nothing in today's world, (or worse to usurp power for the Orthodox in this country) but over time I've found that there is a BIG problem. In some parishes of some jurisdictions its next to impossible to be American AND Orthodox, they make you choose, and then make you switch cultures on top of it.
I'm thankful that I in fact have not truly experienced much of that, and that the fact that you never saw any of this as an issue I think is a testament to the benefits of having an American Church and American Bishops.
Hopefully like you're experience, someday very soon, none of this will really matter, God willing!
#62 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-05-19 08:15
Hello again Daniel,
Just to add to your comment about the children being the ones we should be most concerned about, I completely agree. And believe it or not, this issue DOES affect the children and it is a sad situation. Again maybe one has to be seeing from the inside out to see, I don't know, but it greatly affects the children, the youth and this carries into adult life, and even marriage. I don't think this is the place to air my jurisdiction dirty laundry (anymore than it already has) but this whole issue affects the entire life of the Church. Yes the children, but also catechumens, adults, converts, cradles.....the entire spiritual life of a Christian "can" be affected by the practical applications and results of this. I'm not saying it always does, or that this even must be the case, but it is the way it is, sadly.
Consider yourself blessed you grew up in a parish where none of this mattered. As I consider myself blessed that my parish has been shielded from much of this as well, but it's not always the case.
BTW I hope to visit the Clayton parish sometime this summer.
#63 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-05-19 08:30
Yes, that was my understanding, also. I didn't say that the Chancellors accused +Philip and Antioch of illegalities. I just made the observation (at least that was my intention) that the point of the Chancellors was, should +Philip and Antioch continue on their present course, they would end up violating the Articles of Incorporation, and, *therefore*, would end up violating civil laws!! My post was intended to point out the completeness of the Chancellors' argument, from spiritual, moral/ethical, and, yes, eventually, legal standpoints!!!
#64 David Barrett on 2009-05-19 10:07
Go back to the early times of america by reading about the boston tea party. You can even re-read it so you can have unlimited tea parties. Your comments don't hold ground. I do understand the legal position of what the posted. It has strong merit, however withholding from the order will only cause the departments to shrink in turn hurting the church even more. Don't you think it is already hurt enough?
#65 william on 2009-05-19 12:01
The renegades here are not the DIOCESAN BISHOPS, but MP.
MP is the one who overstepped the Canons and mocks them.
He is the one who flaunts his disobedience to the Holy Synod.
What a hypocrite to insist that one must agree to a decision that many of the Metropolitans of the Patriarchate disagree with as well (Metropolitans who took their OATH before God seriously to uphold the Sacred Canons).
Will MP have the other Metropolitans punished who disagree with the Feb 24 decision, by several renegade Metropolitans? NO!
Then he should not be able to punish DIOCESAN BISHOPS who disagree with his private opinion.
Can a Bishop be punished by one Bishop or Metropolitan alone?
Certainly not. A bishop is called before a spiritual court of his peers.
Can an auxiliary bishop compose a spiritual court when they are subservient to one Bishop? NO.
This would present a clear case of "Conflict of Interests."
*Any of our DIOCESAN BISHOPS may certainly appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch*.
Even if MP agreed to accept the decision of the chancellors, his reputation is down the shishmee.
The only honorable thing for him to do is retire. May the Lord grant him the wisdom to do so before he completely detroys all he labored so tirelessly to build.
#66 betrayed by philip on 2009-05-19 18:44
Witholding money will communicate to MP the dissatisfaction of the faithful of the AOCA.
At present he thinks this will pass and the people will quickly forget.
If this decision stands, any Bishop may be moved.
If this decision stands, when MP dies the next Metropolitan may be from the old country.
What if the new Metropolitan wants service predominantly in Arabic?
What if he does not like our current bishops and wants to bring over all his friends so they too can get rich and work little?
What if the new Metropolitan does not believe in mission or evangelism (as this does not occur in Islamic countries)?
What if the new Metropolitan wants to go back to being an ethnarch?
WE WOULD BE IN BIG TROUBLE
A diocesan structure could marginalize the influence of the next metropolitan if he does not have a viion for Orthodox mission in North America.
The diocesan bishops can work togther and continue to build and expand the work of St Raphael of Brooklyn and the North American Saints.
Witholding money communicates that the dissatisfaction is widespread and not just a few disgruntled peasants.
As those who give money seem to get MP's ear more easily, perhaps those who do not give can eventually gain his attention as well.
#67 Betrayed by philip on 2009-05-19 19:10
Without financial accountability in the form of an annual independent external audit, how can anyone know that their contributions to the Order are going to the departments as intended? For all we know, monies are being siphoned off and sent directly to Damascus and other overseas destinations. It would truly be sad if the only way we were able to achieve financial accountability in the Antiochian Archdiocese is for someone to mention to the FBI that there are questions about funds being transferred from the United States to an organization headquartered in the capital of a state sponsor of terrorism.
Sic semper tyrannis,
#68 Nemo on 2009-05-19 20:47
"...however withholding from the order will only cause the departments to shrink in turn hurting the church even more. Don't you think it is already hurt enough?"
Perhaps you should ask MP your question (please let us know his response). At times the 'power of the purse' is the only message some bishops appear to understand. Will MP get the message? I hope so, and am doing my part to see that he does: Not another single cent to Englewood until this 'situation' is resolved with honor.
#69 Heracleides on 2009-05-19 21:57
"...begins to matter when "being Greek" becomes infinitely more important than being Orthodox..."
Absolutely right. When I was just beginning to learn about Orthodoxy I read an interview of the the then Patriarch of Jerusalem that almost drove me away from Orthodoxy. He talked more about the value of Greek heritage (I do not deny it is a wonderful thing) than about the Gospel. It was very disappointing. I struggled though and eventually became a catechumen, but with no help from that bishop, who made me wonder if to the Orthodox being greek was more important than being Christian. Thank God someone gave me a copy of Fr. Gilquist's "Becoming Orthodox" in my hand. If they hadn't the Patriarch of Jerusalem's words would have driven me away.
#70 Anonymous on 2009-05-19 23:36
"Let us commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God."
As the Divine Liturgy teaches, we cannot separate faith from our actions. If the Order turns out to be corrupt, and I'm not saying it is, then we cannot support it without compromising our belief in Christ. Giving money to an organization (the Order or the Archdiocese) is giving our personal blessing for its activities.
#71 Anonymous Antiochian on 2009-05-20 05:49
Sometimes I get that feeling when people overempesize being "American". Being "American" does not necesarily make us better stewards of the Gospel.
(Editor's note: Excellent point. But at the same time being "American" makes us no worse....)
#72 Anonymous on 2009-05-20 06:09
Sic semper tyrannis "thus always to tyrants" is a phrase attributed to Brutus when he assassinated Caesar and actually used by John Wilkes Booth when he shot President Lincoln. Do you think this is a good thing for this forum? I think we can be forceful, honest, and direct in our opinions without pushing the edge. Don't forget the golden rule.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
Yup. But make sure you take care of your priest and your diocesan bishop. Just don't give to the general fund of your parish, as the central church takes 10%. If the the electric bill needs to be paid at your parish, write the ck yourself directly. Put your money into a trust that will be released once His Emminence repents, retires or is removed....
#74 Antionymous on 2009-05-20 06:20
I appreciate Subdeacon David's gracious reply. It is hard to know when to end a dialogue like this, and I apologize if I do not seem to get it right here. (Sometimes it is no doubt best not to try to use a scalpel when the overall exchange is being conducted at the machete level.) Nevertheless I would like to take brief, polite exception to the term 'wrongful dismissal' in his reply. I think that all American jurisdictions are clear that it is always lawful, and therefore by definition never legally wrongful, to part company with a lawyer whose advice one declines to accept. That said we all realize that there are vastly differing opinions here as to whether or not the advice of the lawyers in this case is wise and legally correct, and nothing I say here is intended to detract from their analysis.
#75 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-05-20 07:01
Fr George wrote:
"Nevertheless I would like to take brief, polite exception to the term 'wrongful dismissal' in his reply. I think that all American jurisdictions are clear that it is always lawful, and therefore by definition never legally wrongful, to part company with a lawyer whose advice one declines to accept."
And here lies the dilema for Christians! Fr., you speak as lawyer parsing the law. However, this becomes a moral and spiritual issue. Hence, a strictly legal clarification, no matter how true, does not do justice to the situation. (Or as St Paul put it, it may be lawful, but it may not be good for me!) Nor will hiding behind any legalism justify Met Philip if he gives them the ax.
#76 Anonymous for a reason on 2009-05-20 08:44
"bring his friends to get rich and work little", do you know that these priests that you supposedly talk about work 24/7 365 like a priest should, not like many new 9-5 priests. Many don't even have days off and if they do...you know where they are...blessing homes, at hospitals seeing the sick, counceling the broken hearted, and even services in the mornings during the week.
Consider your words wisely. They deserve every penny they get because of the size of parishes they deal with as well as the time they put it, i guarantee they work harder than you do in every sense of the word "work". Be thankful there are priests that will neglect their own problems and give their time for the benefit of others. That was ignorance at best. I pray your heart be cleansed from that lie that you state.
#77 William on 2009-05-20 08:45
I suggest everyone on this board get a job because they spend too much time on this website, you all are pretty pathetic. Good luck to your spiritual lives. God bless you, and I mean that one. I retire from posting on this website.
#78 William on 2009-05-20 08:50
This is all very interesting, but the opinion of a pseudo-bishop of a schismatic sect means precisely nothing to me. He's nothing more than the Orthodox version of Brother Billy Bob's Powerhouse Church of the Truly Restored Holy Ghost Gospel. Maybe he could get a late night spot after Jimmy Swaggart.
#79 Scott Walker on 2009-05-20 09:21
Accountability from Englewood? Never! No "balance sheet" ever in the smooth glossy annual reports. Little breakdowns of funds spent. Our parishioners ask about "Food for Hungry People" Drive each year. About $150K raised from 225 parishes (not too good) but an occasion letter in the WORD magazine giving thanks for funds rec'd by a group. (Worthy we hope!) So he can give to whatever Middle Eastern needs he desires. So much for accountability. And many catregories in the same situation within the annual "report"!
#80 Anonymous Antiochian Laymen (3) on 2009-05-20 09:59
"...once His Emminence repents, retires or is removed...."
We need to be very careful in all this not to become prideful and hurtful. Met. Philip Saliba has served the Church admirably - yes with his faults (are you absent of faults?) - for 35 + years. Now anonymous emailers are calling for his retirement or removal (essentially)!? Let's give this a chance to unfold and settle out, for heavens sakes. The Chancellors work shows that the Antiochian archdiocese has checks and balances. This does not mean we are to indict H.E. Philip for all the important work he has done in almost single-handedly setting the stage for administrative unity in this country. Many of us would not be Orthodox were it not for Met. Philip.
#81 Kevin Allen on 2009-05-20 10:57
After reading the Chancellor's opinion, it is clear to me that the real and central issue is Self Rule. The Holy Synod simply cannot do what is purported that they have done unless they revoke our self rule. If I understand things correctly, they cannot revoke our self rule without the consent of the General Assembly of the Archdiocese, in the form of an amendment to our Constitution.
So the real question is, and has always been, whether we are willing to agree to this. Will our Trustees go along with it? Will we go along with it at the Convention in July? They can do anything they want, even things that they have no right to do, if we all agree to it.
But we MUST keep firmly in mind that demoting our Bishops as some claim the Holy Synod has done is the very equivalent of revoking our Self-Rule, and if they can do that, then they can do anything they want, including and especially appointing our next Metropolitan however they desire. The Chancellor's opinion shows us very clearly what is at stake.
#82 Anonymous on 2009-05-20 11:37
Which Golden Rule do you mean, Father? There's the one that says, "Do unto others as you would have done unto you," and then there's the Golden Rule of the Antiochian Archdiocese: "Those who contribute the gold have the ear of the Metropolitan."
In addition to the uses you mention, "Sic semper tyrannis" is also the motto of the Commonwealth of Virginia, whose seal, according to Wikipedia, "shows Virtue, sword in hand, with her foot on the prostrate form of Tyranny, whose crown lies nearby." In hoping for the victory of Virtue over Tyranny, I believe it's quite fitting for this forum.
Sic semper tyrannis,
#83 Nemo on 2009-05-20 12:47
We must push for an audit. The scandal of the OCA will look like pocket change compared to the skimming in the AOCA.
#84 betrayed by philip on 2009-05-20 13:30
The Board of Trustees have a legal responsibility to DEMAND an EXTERNAL AUDIT. They could be held responsible for neglect of their fiduciary responsibilities.
An external audit will put an end to this whole mess, as MP and his CHOSEN will be done.
Where has our money gone?
Why are so few seminarians actually sholarshipped by the Archdiocese?
Why are our retired clergy not vested in an acceptable and substantial retirement plan?
Where does the Food For Hungry Money actually go?
Where does the Special Tray Monies actually go?
If one penny goes anywhere other than where it was specified it is a civil matter and a matter for the IRS.
Why is MP fighting so hard against something he fought for?
Shame on him!
#85 anonymous on 2009-05-20 14:04
Don't go writing the icon just yet of MP.
The road to hell is paved with the heads of priests and bishops.
There is many a preacher in the Protestant world that knows human behavior and profit greatly by it. They know scripture verses well enough to use them to tickle peoples ears.
MP has tickled our ears with the idea of self-rule that is now gone if we give in.
He has tickled our ears with the idea of Orthodox Unity, because we wanted to believe in it.
How could he advocate for unity if he cannot get along with six bishops who have done nothing wrong.
Just because good was done during MP tenure does not mean you have the whole picture. Sadly, the man has trampled many a priest down over the years.
*I am deeply saddened by the things that will be coming out because MP did not take advantage of the opportunity to save face*.
When the truth of his deeds is exposed, I pray to God that our faithful will not stumble.
As the psalmist says, "Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help. When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day his plans perish (Ps 146:3-4).
The Orthodox Faith is still the true faith though we sinner compose the Church.
Please do let not the extent and gravity of MP sins cause you to stumble.
Let us be more diligent in prayer and fasting for the young in faith.
#86 anonymous on 2009-05-20 19:39
You are right. It shouldn't be left to those of you who were welcomed into Orthodoxy's arm's to ask him to retire.
So then, all of my Arab brothers and sisters, I call on you now. We need to ask Metron Philip to retire. He has served this archdiocese long enough....IF he retires now, he can retire with some dignity and with the knowledge he welcomed America into Orthodoxy.
Come now, we must do this together my friends. We owe it to those who have come into Orthodoxy and those who will come into Orthodoxy.
St. Raphael, our spiritual father, who cared for our grandparents and great-grandparents, is leading us to ask him to retire.
#87 Iskander Ibrahim on 2009-05-20 21:08
It is just this sort of attitude over whici I feel the most despair.
#88 Rdr. Tracey on 2009-05-20 21:09
Disbursements of the Ant. "Order" are fully listed unlike the absence of a balance sheet in the Annual Report. Much designated by Met. P. for his chancery "needs"! Much of which should be in the regular budget. A way to bypass the laity approving items and the "special needs" he requires. Small am't designated for the munificent $800. housing allowance in place of a proper pension plan as employed in the Greek & OCA jurisdictions.Wonder what the Met. will receive as his retirement? Hardly $800. but a bountiful stipend for life by his followers.
#89 Anonymous Clergyman on 2009-05-20 23:13
I'm simply asking people who are posting on this site to critique others in the same way they themselves would like to be critiqued. The Chancellor's opinion, for example, was a significant critique of the actions of the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Philip in the matters we are discussing but its tone was sober, detailed, and not given to emotion or implications beyond its scope.
I can imagine that producing this document was one of the hardest things the Chancellor's had to do. What kind of person would rejoice over the task of investigating and exposing another even if the cause was just? Certainly this is not our way. If, on some future day, Metropolitan Philip stands before us in humility regarding these things would it be Christian to say "Thus always to tyrants" or would it be wiser to say "There but for the grace of God go I.." and pray for him and ourselves as well?
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
(Editor's note: Father, can one not do both? Forcefully resist things one feel to be wrong - and pray for the wrongdoer? Does the latter preclude the former? I think not. I will not defend Nemo's position - he is clearly capable of doing that - but I will agree that sometimes even quiet, reserved, repressed Norwegian-Americans like myself have to consider shouting to make our concerns heard. Sometimes being quiet and polite only gets you ignored and abused further. Rather that critique those crying out in pain, why do you not consider the causes of their pain, and address those as well? )
Please do not understand my repeated pleas for thoughtful debate as being passive or quiet. There have been posts on this site, like the information from the Chancellors, that have been calm, reasoned, and in my opinion quite effective in shedding light on all of this. There have also been others that are simply, no matter how they are dressed, about calling each other names.
I hear the questions, the struggles, the sense of the ground shifting underfoot. I share them. From the time this decision was made a small voice inside of me said "Something is wrong here." And at that point, I, and we, have a choice.
I could say, like some have on this site and others, that this is all because Metropolitan Philip is an egomaniac with delusions of being a pope who lives in a world far removed from us all. It's amazing, isn't it, that people from great distances can claim to have a perfect insight, usually negative, into a person that may never have met. I've had that kind of thing happen to me and I choose not to pay that forward.
Reality is usually more nuanced, more complex and I have a responsibility. I serve a Parish, people count on me to lead them through good times and bad and to keep my head when events and issues swirl around. So when all the information following this decision is coming at me I need to first remember that no matter what happens, no matter what my personal emotions are, I must think and act as a Christian. What the "other side" is doing, as it were, has no bearing on that. Within that larger context I must then step back, pray, and seek not just the earthquake and the winds but also the still small voice.
I've already have had people critique me for that, implying that my appeals for reason and a Christian demeanor in these matters are a cynical ploy to play both ends against the middle. People wonder why I haven't joined the crowd with torches and pitchforks at the castle door. I simply choose another way. I have the same concerns as many do but I choose to address them through my prayers, as weak as they are, and seeking to lay the groundwork, as best I can, for a space in all the noise to hear the voice of God. That's my task as a Priest who will be asked by God to answer for how I cared for the people of St. Elias in these days and every day.
So yes, expose the error but do it with a holy fear and reverence as people who will be called to account ourselves. Speak the truth, but season it with love and a door open for repentance. Be passionate about the good of the Church but don't be overcome by the passions. I have never suggested that people be silent, I haven't been, but our ability to apply higher standards to ourselves as will, in the years to come make all the difference.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
(Editor's note: Well said, Father. And as you said, there are many different ways to be passionate about the good of the Church. Such is the wonder of the Church - that out of such diversity can come unity.)
It saddens me beyond expression regarding what Metropolitan Philip and the Patriarch have collaborated to do to this archdiocese, which has been as good a jurisdiction as exists in North America.
What makes this all the more difficult is that His Eminence had the leading role in inspiring many cradle and non cradle Orthodox to follow his vision for an Orthodox Church that is sensitive to our domestic culture and willing to communicate in the language of the people.
And now for all that he inspired his clergy and laity to accomplish, he is on course to destroying much of what he helped create. In the name of the Living God – WHY? For what good? No matter what he hopes to accomplish, is it really worth the devastation that will follow?
I ask everyone to earnestly pray for Metropolitan Philip that he will look at the big picture and realize that this course of action will not only irreparably damage his reputation and legacy but will greatly harm his children, whom he has nurtured to maturity and ultimately will wound our Mother the Church.
Additionally, the Patriarch has shown that he lacks understanding and sensitivity to the North American Church. Like an elderly parent he needs to realize that his children have grown up and need to live on their own, making decisions, to the best of their ability, corresponding to what has been taught by Holy Scripture, the Sacred Canons and Holy Fathers of the Church.
If passions do not subside and if sobriety does not set in then a great tragedy awaits the Holy Church and Satan has won another battle as surely souls will be lost.
To our Fathers Patriarch Ignatius and Metropolitan Philip it is important to remember that as is the case for everyone, the ultimate and final accounting before our Lord Jesus Christ is only a heartbeat away. May they with us do everything within our being, when that time comes, to meet Him as loving Savior rather than our fearful Judge.
With fear and trepidation,
#92 Priest Dunsel on 2009-05-21 08:54
Dearest Fr John, Christ is risen!
As you are rather new to the AOCA there are those who have many years of seeing and hearing.
They have kept their mouths shut as they saw others punished who dared to open theirs.
There was no internet when Joe Allen chose to counsel a woman to divorce her husband (the council chair) and then marry her.
There was no internet when seminarian priests and eacons were suspended when the y spoke up.
Now the internet has provided a venue to et truthful and accuarte information disbursed.
After 43 years of being beaten down perhaps we are watching something the equivalent of Mt St Helens. The pressure builds to such a level that when it comes forth everyone around the whole world feels its release.
The gravity of those things coming out will be seen and heard all around the world. This is something Met. Herman and Met. Theodosius could not comprehend. As we can see MP has not yet comprehended it as well.
We live in an age where backroom deals are no longer possible. THANK GOD!
We live in a day and age where greater accountability is made possible. Tyrants are exposed. Abuse comes to the surface. Intimidation is no longer acceptable.
MP and Bp Antoun have played good cop and bad cop for many years. Bp Antoun was the heavy and MP would scold him publicly for being to harsh. Yet it was all a ruse.
Our Diocesan Bishops do not wish to engage in these games or be sock puppets of MP.
The only way this situation could have been resolved is for everyone to speak openly and honestly as Christian brothers. Sadly, this is not possible with MP. He knows what he wants for the moment (self-rule) and what he does not want (diocesan bishops). Like a child he always gets what he wants or he throws a public temper tantrum to manipulate the situation. Perhaps his mother should have spanked him more as a child, for now he has become a despotic bully.
Week by week more of his actions and behavior have been exposed. Each week giving him opportunity to change course. Sadly, his reputation is completely and utterly ruined. Once the full story is known many will weep!
The explosion once all is revealed will be greater than once everyone sees with their own eyes what he has been up to for the last 43 yrs and how he has violated their trust.
May the Lord have mercy on his soul.
#93 anon and anon on 2009-05-21 12:09
I am saddened to think that perhaps MP has some diminished capacity after his last heart attack and the medications he is on.
This may simply be a case of certain clergy playing upon his perrenial fear of our archdiocese being divided.
These clergy who present themselves as his friends and inner circle have simply taken advantage of his condition.
How many clergy does he actually know in this archdiocese?
How many of the 250 parishes has he visited within the last year? Two years? Five years?
He only visited about 10 % of the parishes in the last 5 years.
How could he possibly keep in touch with the growing needs of the AOCA.
This is precisely why he needed Diocesan Bihops.
The gracious thing to do would be to retire him as quietly as possible, with honor while there is still a possibility to do so.
He may have alrady missed that opportunity because of those who have taken advantage of his current condition.
Lord, Have mercy.
#94 anon and anon on 2009-05-21 16:42
Did not the Lord use Caiaphas to prophesy concerning Christ's death on behalf of the people? I do not think he was Orthodox.
Did not the Lord speak through Balaam's ass? Last I checked the ass was not Orthodox either.
The good and loving God can speak through whom He chooses.
Whether you accept the articl, the writer also provides a number of Holy Canons accpted and approved by the Ecumenical Councils. Are they no longer applicable because an Old Calendarist used them. In that cas we would need to jettison the whole Liturgical Tradition, The Holy Fathers and the Canon of Scripture.
These things all need to be rightly interpreted. Even those outside our camp may have a glipse into the meaning of a Sacred Canon, since our own Hierarchs seem to have great difficulty applying them.
Sadly, it is not a simple matter of understanding them. It is a matter of loyalties. WHERE IS LOYALTY TO CHRIST IN ALL THIS!
ALL ORTHODOX BISHOPS TOOK AN OATH AT THE DIVINE LITURGY TO UPHOLD THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH.
May the Lord be merciful to those who break their vows causing thousands to stumble .
#95 anon and anon on 2009-05-21 16:57
It seems to me that there is too much concern over the handful of people calling for +Phillip's retirement. And I don't understand the appeal to his many years of faithful service to the AOCA. What does that have to do with the current situation? If there is corruption in the AOCA, 100 years of faithful service will not make up for it. Faithful service does not exempt our leaders from accountability.
Some are concerned about those who are critical of +Phillip, yet there are no answers given for the concerns that underlie the criticism. The recent events in our Archdiocese are cause for greater concern than a handful of extreme comments on a discussion board.
What about +Demetri's reinstatement?
What about accusations made in the Abdallah Khouri letter and the correlations to our current situation?
What about the lack of an independent audit?
What about the questionable details surrounding the Feb. 24 decision?
Aren't these issues a valid cause for concern? Shouldn't we expect transparency and accountability from the leaders of our church?
#96 David Feliciano on 2009-05-21 22:22
I understand, but I'm still hoping and praying that God's good will come of this, even if we have to wade through some dark waters to find it.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
As a member of the AOCA and a Member of the ORder of St. Ignatius I find soem of your comments insulting and childish. Punishing the Church and the works of The Order, because your disagree wth Metropolitan PHILIP is not puishing MEtropolitan PHILIP but those who benifits from the programs of the Church, if you really do care about the Churh you will not be calling for people to with-holding their membership due in The Order and parishes from paying the Archdioces, but would encouraging individuals who pray for all of our Bishops for wisdom and that the Church will survive thiscurrent cris. What Bob Koory and Charles Ajalat do what rende a legal opinion, they did not recommend any action. Keep in mind their defense of our Costition is becaue they were the ones who drafted it.
Metropolita PHILIP is free to act upon their option or not, Everyoe has options, this website is proof of that: only time will tell what the results will be, I ask everyone hear to join me and pray for Metropolitan PHILIP, Bishop and all of our local bishops and for unity of the faith.
(editor's note: As a point of fact, the Chancellors did specifically recommend a certain action - I suggest you read their Opinion again. They recommended defending the Constitution of the Archdiocese.)
#98 Loyal Antiochian on 2009-05-22 06:38
Anon is concerned about the possible diminished capacity of Met. Philip and a cabal of plotting subordinates manipulating him behind the scenes? I find that scenario an almost sure impossibility. That would be like Fredo pulling the strings for Don Corleone.
Only if his Eminence is seen wandering the grounds of Englewood in his pajamas muttering incoherently to himself would I consider such a thing...? You know I wouldn't even believe it then.
#99 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-05-22 19:00
Without finacial accountablity programshave already suffered. An audit would cool things off immediately and restore financial giving if all is in order, especially once our Bishops are given their proper due.
So here we go back again to the famous motto
Pray (but not too much)
Pay (as much as you can)
Obey (without thought or question)
Lord, have mercy.
We are called to stewardship.
We are called to be accountable for the Holy Faith.
*Obedience is not blind*. The call for blind obedience is usually from those with MUCH TO HIDE
#100 anon on 2009-05-23 14:33
According to inside sources Bp Demitri will be at th national convention.
As in the case of Joe Allen, the litmus test of LOYALTY to MP will be if one will serve with Bp Demetri.
Lord, have mercy!
Where is LOYALTY to Christ in all of this?????
Maybe it will backfire and Demitri will get drunk at the Convention again? Heaven help him. He does not ned to be used in this way.
#101 anon and anon on 2009-05-23 16:40
Great legal opinion. Now we need to insist MP retire! He has done too much damage with this little manuever. The division he has caused may take years to mend if he does not retire immediately.
We must insist a a complete and thorough audit!
Where did our hard earned money actually g last fall.
We were told it was for an endowment!
Then we were told a wing was being built at the Balamand!
Money was not raised for a wing. Even if it was used for such, whu=y not state its actual purpose.
Obviously, they could not keep the facts straight as it was used for neither.
Where does our money actually go?!
Where does food for hungry people actually go?
Why are checks written for oveseas Metropolitans right before Synod Meetings?
How many are receiving checks from our Archdiocese to curry their favor?
Is this not simony?
Why are they not deposed?
Why should we accept any decision by a synod which tolerates such corruption?
Why should we be bound by ther decisions, when decisions are bought and sold?
What other ways have our hard earned donations been used?
Why not for our seminarians who are on public assistance?
Why not for retired clergy and Khourieh?
What properties does the Archdiocese actually own?
If the Holy Synod upholds this decision on June 16th we must break away or walk away from Antioch!
If they attempt to punish or remove our faithful Diocesan Bishops, Confessors of the Faith, they are not a true Holy Synod and do not deserve obedience.
What other games will they play? Why do we let MP and BP Antoun play cat and mouse with the Bishops while there is work to be done.
Satan is laughing. He is laughing because our people do not love the TRUTH but choose to believe the LIE. (2 Thess. 2)
#102 anon and anon on 2009-05-23 20:52
Hopefully, the Board of Trustees will insist on a full financial accounting and external audit. This may help to calm things down.
If MP attends the June 16th meeting of the Holy Synod (after he said he would never go back) everyone will know beyond a reasonable doubt that this whole mess was orchestrated by him.
If an audit is refused by MP and the Feb 24th decision is upheld by the Holy Synod we know our problems are deeper than our Archdiocese.
If that is so we have some major decisions to make.
A for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
#103 anonymous on 2009-05-23 21:06
Obviously, Kevin you are young enough that you have never had to care for the elderly. Dementia or Alzheimers does not just fall on someone like a ton of bricks.
The symptoms become more pronounced as the disease progresses. Likewise the damage to our Archdiocese could also become more extensive than already occurring.
At what point does one say to a parent, "Let me have the keys to the car?"
Or "I can't let you live alone, you have set the house on fire three times."
I have spoken with doctors who verified the symptoms MP exhibits are of concern for a person of this age and medical history.
#104 anonymous on 2009-05-23 21:13
As a former chaplain in health care I would urge caution about diagnosing a person from a distance. What is commonly described as "dementia" is really a cluster of symptoms that can have many causes and having a small number of these symptoms is not always indicative of dementia.
I know that there are some who hope, in their disappointment and shock over these events, that this is all about our Metropolitan's health. We would like an explanation and the idea of dementia or mental illness would allow us to make immediate sense of everything and act accordingly. It's an easy answer.
The truth is, though, that being older and being demented are not the same thing. I have cared for people who were thoroughly dealing with dementia in their 30's from excessive alcohol consumption and yet I also know a lady who is in her late 90's who can take me to the cleaners in Scrabble. We have to be careful about making a diagnosis based on our subjective opinion of a person's actions no matter what their age.
My mother always said "The mill of God grinds slow but exceedingly fine". Slowly but surely things are being opened up and revealed. Perhaps this will include a medical diagnoses, but we have to wait and see. In the meantime we can thoughtfully and prayerfully search out the truth and face what we have to face. There could be many reasons why this decision was made but none of those reasons allow us to stop praying for all of our Bishops, and quite frankly for each other. A prayerful heart is one that is best suited to discernment.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
One thing that may help the faith of converts and their peace of mind is to balance this notion, "I never would have become Orthodox if not for Fr. So and So or Metropolitan Philip..." I understand simple gratitude. But I have heard this gratitude played up to the point of guilt trips by clergy and laypeople alike when faced with the sincere questioning of converts to Orthodoxy especially.
No one "owes" anyone anything in the sense of blind obedience for "becoming Orthodox." To lay Orthodox especially, you are not monks and nuns. Frankly, there is too much control freakery in American/Western Orthodoxy much of it sought after, self-imposed as if to "authenticate." And this can get played with. The term "spiritual father" for example gets tossed around too frequently when the faithful would be better with a priest who considers himself simply a confessor...
Christ is the Head of the Church. We owe everything to Him and the Holy Spirit. This does not deny the role of the servants in the Church, but they are sinners like the rest of us, called to humility.
#106 Steve on 2009-05-28 03:53
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