Monday, June 1. 2009
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And so the drama continues. It seems our "Archshepherd" will not be content till he has destroyed his flock....
#1 Antionymous on 2009-06-01 06:24
How can we continue to follow MP when he no longer knows his own flock.
We have 250 parishes.
Out of those 250, HOW MANY HAS HE EVER VISITED IN THE LAST 43 YEARS?
How can he insist on direct oversight of parishes he has never stepped into even once (and never will).
How can he resolve their issues if he has never met one parishioner or even their priest?
A GOOD SHEPHERD, is one who knows his flock intimately.
MP has end of life issues and fear of death.
The way to prepare for death is to let go and place it in the hands of God.
His time has come to an end.
Hopefully, he will decide to step down while he still has some shred of dignity and live a life of prayer, repentance and quiet reflection.
#2 anon and anon on 2009-06-01 06:50
The events at the Trustees' meeting are clear evidence that Metropolitan Philip needs to retire. His actions toward the Chancellors who were simply fulfilling their responsibilities are reprehensible. They did not deserve to be treated that way. Let us all pray that our Bishops who have left for the Middle East can fully explain the situation to the Patriarch, and that they can help to end this fear and confusion.
#3 anon on 2009-06-01 06:51
AT THE CROSSROADS
I want to thank OCA News for their unbiased and factual reporting of our recent BOT meetings. This is indeed a difficult time for the Archdiocese but armed with factual and accurate information we will be better prepared for the Convention in July.
I also want to acknowledge the Association of Orthodox Christian Attorneys for their factual time line of documents archived on their web site which I am sure has better informed our Trusteed and Chancellors.
It seems evident that the Antiochian Archdiocese is coming to a crossroads in its History, Self-rule is being tested, the Constitution, the Hierarchy, the clergy, the men and women of the Board of Trustees, in essence our entire Church is being tested - it is my prayer that just as iron is purified by fire we will find ourselves on the other side of this conflict a stronger, more stable Church.
#1 A church that is both fiscally and administratively transparent! An independent Audit is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY
#2 A Church that allows conflict to transform it into something greater than it was before.
#3 A Church that does not allow the Great Divider "Diavolos" to separate one from the other.
A Church that remembers St Paul's words;
"Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided?
I pray that there still remains both love and wisdom in the hearts of our Hierarchs for their upcoming meeting in Damascus. If their hearts are still able to set aside the recent behaviour of our Metropolitain perhaps they will find a way for him to retain his dignity in whatever creative manner the Local and Holy Synod attempts to heal the divisions .
#4 Fr John on 2009-06-01 07:36
God Bless Mrs. Heider!!! God Bless Bob Koory and God Bless Charles Ajalat..they have stood up for Orthodox Christianity!!!
#5 Anonymous on 2009-06-01 07:40
How refreshing to see our trustees acting independently for once! Pretty wise of them to let the situation sort itself out (does the Metropolitan really believe that all these votes and signatures really matter at all to our Holy Synod?). Despite their legal obligations to be independent, I always have viewed the trustees (as I have the Chancellors) as mere pawns of the Metropolitan, asked to rubber stamp his agenda in exchange for the "honor" of being a trustee and the wining and dining that goes along with it. I am thrilled to see them willing to do the right thing. Many of these folks have long and personal relationships with the Metropolitan. It must be extremely difficult for them to put these relationships at risk, but they are doing so for the good of the Church. How beautiful! God grant Mr. Koory the strength to stay on the Board and not to follow through with his threatened resignation. We need folks like him to remain, so that the Metropolitan doesn't use his powers of appointing trustees to empty positions to fill the Board with puppets. I ask the Board and the Chancellors, in particular, to forgive me for my unfair criticism and judgment of them. The road is not going to get easier, but, if our trustees act like this and the Holy Synod confirms our Diocesan Bishops as such, the road will definitely get better and we may just avoid an OCA-style scandal when the trustees wield their full authority with respect to the long-neglected Archdiocesan finances. God grant them all many years.
BTW- It is no surprise that Bishop Antoun doesn't know the difference between an auxiliary and a diocesan bishop. He refused to be enthroned (so he probably still is an auxiliary) or to live on the ground in his diocese shoulder-to-shoulder with his people. With his shallow understanding of Orthodox theology, it is really no wonder that it took Metropolitan Philip's threats in 1982 to get the Holy Synod's approval of Bishop Antoun as an auxiliary. I heard from a trustee who was present that Bishop Antoun executed his usual yelling and wagging his finger schtick right in the faces of the trustees. That whole thing is becoming so predictable that it is annoying and ineffective. Most are wondering why Metropolitan Philip doesn't find it embarrassing and intervene to shut it down, but the answer to that may be that, if he shuts down Bishop Antoun, he may have no supporters left.
Don't forget to pray for our bishops-- all of them, the Patriarch, the Holy Synod, our Metropolitan, and our Diocesan Bishops-- as the meeting in Damascus comes up. God willing, our Diocesan Bishops will be able to represent the face of North America to the Patriarch in a way that he has never seen it before-- loving, honest, and non-threatening.
#6 Silouan James on 2009-06-01 08:22
Great reporting on the actual events of that meeting. It is good to have a trustworthy source that keeps us informed. Keep up the great work and thanks again for the invaluable service you are providing your brethern in the AOC.
#7 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-06-01 08:27
June 01, 2009
The Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch
358 Mountain Road
Post Office Box 5238
Englewood, New Jersey 07631
To Whom It May Concern:
It is with sadness and heaviness of heart that I send this letter.
I am returning our annual pledge donation form to the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch without my 2009 donation of $1,000 because I cannot in good conscience provide financial support to our beloved archdiocese at a time when our bishops have been demoted, our Constitution disregarded, our Chancellor – Robert Koory – was forced to resign, and a good man like Chancellor Charles Ajalat was publicly excoriated at the recent Board of Trustees meeting for doing his (and Robert Koory’s) job of providing objective legal counsel to the Board regarding the February 24 resolution.
Financial support is one of the ways laity in our archdiocese casts its vote and I cannot support with my dollars recent events that have taken place.
Should the situation in our archdiocese normalize and become once again consistent with our Constitution and by-laws, I would be happy to resume our financial support. Until such time, my wife and I must resign our memberships as Knight’s of The Order.
#8 Kevin Allen on 2009-06-01 08:40
This is not an accurate report. I have two friends on the Board and this is not accurate from what I heard. They actually agreed with the decision.
(Editor's note: I suggest you ask your friends again, or check your hearing. My report is fully accurate. The Board chose not to take a vote on the issue. If they had, do you not think the Archdiocese would have at least reported it, had it passed? Or that those opposed to Feb. 24th would have published the results if it had not? No, the silence confirms the truth of the matter: the Board voted to table the motion as premature. )
#9 William on 2009-06-01 08:54
For "wrong" to triumph it is only necessary that good men do nothing. Let it be known that many good men and women of our Archdiocese have not, and will not, sit and do nothing. Our Chancellors and the Board of Trustees have clearly demonstrated that they will not be a "rubber stamp" to wrong. Being encouraged by such courageous examples, let us continue to hope and to pray that righteousness will prevail in the end.
#10 Fr. Michael Molloy on 2009-06-01 08:57
It has been reported that the "great progressive and reformer," Metropolitan Philip, during the height of the OCA crisis expressed his sympathy and support for Metropolitan Herman, when so many others were calling for his resignation. One can now understand why-- it all falls under the rubric of we "tyrants" better stick together....
The bottom line for most of our worldly bishops always seems to come down to maintaining their personal power and prerogatives at all costs. Of course, they rationalize this as maintaining the good order and hierarchical nature of the Church--but we know better. Sadly, Metropolitan Philip seems determined to destroy what remains of his reputation by attacking his flock, and especailly those within it who have the courage to say "no" to his excesses and vituperative outbursts.
While many seem to be placing their faith in the Antiochian Mother Church to intelligently resolve this crisis, I still believe the best course of action is to move forwarded, unilaterally if need be, with plans for a unified and independent North American Church. It is certainly in conformity with our U.S. secular tradition, and hardly unprecedented in worldwide Orthodoxy, to just declare independence and boldly move forward, rather than being mired in "Old World" politics and machinations.
But whatever course is followed, one hopes that the unity exhibited this week by the laity and clergy of the AOCA can be maintained....
#11 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-06-01 09:36
Yes, at least Mrs. Heider has the masculinity to stand up forcefully. It was good to see that the others did not cave. That is a start. Bp Antoun's position is to be expected. I am not aware of any time when he has not acted on +Philip's behalf, though perhaps there is an exception or two that proves the rule.
(Editor's note: Pardon me, but your sexism is showing. One does not have to be "masculine" to stand up for the truth. Women do it all the time. We even honor many as Saints precisely for that....)
#12 Phileas on 2009-06-01 09:51
Will the next 'assault on self rule' be the auxilliaries get restored to be full bishops -- each directly under +Ignatius instead of +Philip? They become a minority on the distant synod?
Will the AOA look like the GOA?
Will the bishop from Moscow to attend the OCA's synod meetings wear a 'not your exarch' badge pinned to his rasso, just to keep the autocephaly nags quiet?
So then each 'diaspora' church (now being depopulated owing to non-diaspora people) is to become an ethnic-defined extensions of overseas ethnarcial synods.
I hope not, as if Chrisitanity and 'The universal brotherhood of man' ideal it upholds wanted such I thing I'm sure it would have been mentioned somewhere near that 'neither Jew nor Greek' bit.
What is really needed, and needed now very badly, is for some Patriarchate or group of them to endorse or publish a document that explains why all of this is a good thing that will help growth and lead to a future different than what appears to be an entrenched ethnic chauvanistic muddle of declining membership.
(Editor's note: Not to dispute your insightful analysis, but instead of viewing it only as a potential defeat, how about viewing it as making the Local American Synod a real body, capable of making majority decisions, rather than the current one man rule? That could be the start of something wonderful...)
#13 Harry Coin on 2009-06-01 10:10
this is grossly misinterpreted. george farha pleaded with the bishop and asked that he table the motion for which the metropolitan okayed. it is not that we refused to accept the decision. on the contrary, over 95 percent were supportive of the decision, but in order to show full unanimous support, george farha suggested we wait because he didnt want to show any dissention in the board becasue there were few that were against the decision, such as sam khouri, with regard to the vote. sayidna obliged. how do i know this, because i was there and i am a board member. had a vote taken place, yes there would have been a dissention, but by far over 95 percent of us would have voted for the metropolitan. also, i should note that charles ajalat even offered to help re-write the constitution to detail what it is the sayidna wants.
(Editor's note: If what you state is the truth, and you were there, and 95% of those present agreed with you, why the anonymity? Why the fear at signing your name, one who claims to a Board member? Pardon me if I remain skeptical. Your deeds do not match your words.)
#14 Anonymous on 2009-06-01 11:50
Thank you. This cannot have been an easy thing for you to do, as I know you are a public figure on Ancient Faith Radio and have many connections in the Antiochian Church. May God reward you for the courage you have shown, not only by sending this letter but for making it public. May God use your example, just as He has used the example of our faithful Chancellors and trustees, to inspire others to do likewise.
Money talks, and, sad to say, our Metropolitan listens to it all too well. God grant that members of the Holy Synod haven't been listening too closely to Metropolitan Philip's money . . .
#15 Silouan James on 2009-06-01 11:51
How is it that the Orthodox Church wants to evangelize and bring new converts into a “house divided?” To be honest, I’m embarrassed to be “Orthodox” at this point. How many of “these little ones” (c.f. Matt 18:6) will simply leave because of this crisis, the OCA crisis, and the façade of “Orthodox unity” the hierarchs proclaim that exists in this country.
Many have commented that we need one Orthodox Church in this country. This seems to be the only true expression of the Church. Met. Jonah had a wonderful speech expressing the necessity for a common American Synod. Why do other hierarchs, including Met. Philip, claim to want unity and do not act on it? Also, if Met. Philip cannot have unity with his own bishops, priests, and laity does one really think he would lower himself to the status of a diocesan bishop in a unified American Church?
I love the Orthodox Faith, but I am wondering if the leaders of the American Orthodox Churches (yes, unfortunately, I did use the plural “Churches”) are leading the people astray. Why stay in a church where the hierarchs proclaim publicly that jurisdictionalism is heretical, but refuse to rectify it? Who wants to be part of a heretical church? How many other denominations claim to be living in a heretical state?
Let’s clean up our own house before trying to bring new converts into the confused Orthodox Church(es).
Hanging on for now…
#16 Hanging on for now… on 2009-06-01 12:32
So the Board of Trustees did not rubber stamp something that the Metropolitan wanted. All are hailing this as a brave group of trustees. Over the years, where has their bravery been? Have they asked for an accounting/audit of the Archdiocese books? How often have they stood up for what is right? There have been a few "brave" trustees in years' past that have expressed a differing opinion than that of the Metropolitan. These brave trustees did not get reelected; board members may have whispered in their ear that they agreed, but did not publically back them.
The Trustees of the Antiochian Archdiocese may now start to do the job they were elected to do. Certainly, they have not done so in the past.
#17 anonymous on 2009-06-01 12:55
I'd love for this to somehow add up to a success. What I need is for you to connect and explain the dots and steps from what we are seeing to the wonderful result you mention.
How to we get to the 'there' you describe from here soon enough so there are enough people still participating in all this to make it more than a Potemkin villiage?
What I see is little more than being legally positioned to be handed over to the Vatican's way of doing things-- and they are shrinking while the other groups are building parishes around here.
(editor's note: Oh, I won't argue that the Vatican's ideological influence is waxing, or that parishes are waning. I am sure there is a segment of our leadership that would be more happy and comfortable with fewer troublesome people in the pews, even if the parishes thereby were much smaller. But the majority could make lemonade out of lemons by creating open, accountable and transparent synods, that were governed by those committed to the growth and maintenance of the Church here in this continent rather than the current colonialism which sees America as a) a hardship post, b) simply fertile ground for raising funds for "back home" however you define "back home" or c) a means of influence in concerns other than the Gospel ( government, foreign policy, cultural politics, whatever.) If such could be created and supported it would be a huge step forward, for eventually the commonality of faith, ministry and concerns would necessitate unity. I believe this will happen one day. I am not holding my breathe however. One step at a time though - and transparency and accountability is a good start, no matter what jurisdiction one may be in. )
#18 Harry Coin on 2009-06-01 13:14
All this controversy over what was said, how it was said, what was meant, and why could be avoided and put to rest very easily if the Board of Trustees would simply publish their minutes, not just now, but every time they meet. Publish it in the Word magazine, on the website, in parish bulletins, wherever. Whether the question is one of ratifying the February 24 action from Damascus, or one of transferring funds from the paper clip sub-account to the staple sub-account, let the faithful know what is going on in our Archdiocese. It seems to me to be such a simple action that could put to rest much needless speculation and source of dissention and unrest.
Also, could someone explain why a vote of the Board of Trustees to ratify the February 24 action from Damascus was necessary in the first place? I could understand a discussion being initiated or a vote being sought on protecting the Archdiocese's status as self-ruled, as set forth in the Chancellors' legal opinion. To seek a vote on ratification of the February 24 action is puzzling to say the least. If this was and is a valid, legally binding action by the Holy Synod of Antioch on our Archdiocese, and can only be revisited by that same Synod, then what does the opinion of 40 or so laity and clergy scattered around our Archdiocese matter? If parish councils, presbyter councils and other clergy and laity have been told in so much words that this is a heirarchical matter that does not concern them, then why does it concern the Board of Trustees? Whether support for such a resolution is 95%, or closer to zero doesn't concern me so much as WHY such a resolution was asked of the Board at all.
We all should pray for a quiet and peaceful resolution based upon the bishops, clergy and laity being of one accord in prayer on this issue. We should pray that all the bishops travelling to Damascus this week to meet with and discuss this matter with our Patriarch and other members of the Synod have a meeting that is full of love, humility, mutual respect and prayer. By God's grace, we can overcome the influences of pride, power, love of influence, and any other sinful behavior set upon the Church by the devil. I am still hoping for a conciliar and peaceful resolution to this crisis. I must admit, though, my hope is waning.
#19 David Najjar on 2009-06-01 13:34
Well, it's clear; when an organization is built around "A" human personality, it will eventually fail. + Philip is of the "old school." This is where one ruling bishop is regarded as supreme in power & authority. The trouble with this is that this isn't Orthodox. The transition from the decline of an all-powerful super-bishop to distributed authority with many local bishops, centralization to de-centralization, isn't without a war. Even more difficult is the transition from total authority with foreign bishop(s) to autonomy and/or autocephaly. Again, Orthodoxy is only realized in the self-rule of local churches under local bishops. So, here you are AOCA - it was bound to happen sooner or later. In fact, inevitable. And what is the answer? Total independence from Damascus and local bishops ruling local churches - it's your ONLY real choice!
#20 Anonymous on 2009-06-01 13:50
David, lots of minutes of the Board are now available on the Association of Orthodox Attorney's website.
#21 Jimmy the Greek on 2009-06-01 14:17
Total independence form Damascus is NOT the only real choice. In fact, I would argue that CLOSER relations with Damascus is the only REAL choice. If the Holy Synod affirms that its decision did not apply to North America, it risks only losing Metropolitan Philip and his increasingly fewer sycophants; there is no way that the faithful-- convert or Arab-descent-- would follow him into schism or a flight of fancy to Moscow or the like (where he could never survive with the likes of Antypas and Shalhoub completely disregarding liturgical norms). If the Holy Synod takes an uncanonical approach, it risks isolating the pious faithful-- both convert and Arab-descent alike-- and forcing them to consider fleeing to a jurisdiction which will make canonical decisions. This would seriously marginalize the future role of Damascus in North America, as it would, in the long-term, consist only of the Metropolitan and his few loyal followers. These may be the guys who are heading over to Syria and Lebanon now to hand out large monetary "gifts" to members of the Holy Synod before its meeting next week, but these guys have not raised faithful Orthodox descendants who can continue to stay close to the Church, here, over the long haul, and converts seeking a Church to trust will certainly not be attracted to a church which would deny the very ecclesiology ("no bishop greater than another") that makes Orthodoxy attractive to converts.
The answer is not separation from Damascus but increasingly closer relations such that Damascus understands us in North America, not through Metropolitan Philip's lenses, but directly by contact with us and our bishops. An empowered Local Synod having healthy ties with Damascus will ensure that the clear pattern of deception practiced on the Patriarch over the past 30 years comes to a screeching halt.
#22 Silouan James on 2009-06-01 14:22
From the book, Helping Your Aging Parent:
"Dealing with dementia symptoms in your own parent can stretch the limits of your sanity. Sometimes you may not even notice the first symptoms of dementia -- the slow decline of your aging parent’s memory. The symptoms of dementia may continue until your aging parent starts exhibiting signs of other mental disorders, such as paranoia or delusions, which frequently piggyback on the effects of senile dementia. These symptoms may keep reappearing, until you can’t ignore them and you’re forced to take action. Hopefully, this chapter will help you identify dementia and other mental problems in your aging parents and help you deal with the problem by getting their condition assessed by a professional."
While it is both depressing and heartbreaking to see someone we love and respect slide into the depths of senile dementia, we must now face a reality we all hope to never see. It would appear that only one real question remains: in our Self-Ruled Archdiocese, is it the duty of the Board of Trustees or of the Local Synod to determine that the Metropolitan is no longer mentally competent to continue in office?
P.S. No, given his vicious attacks on some of his closest frinds, it appears that Metr. Philip is not a tyrant but, rather, a suffering elderly man forced to work past his time who now needs most not our obedience but our prayers.
#23 Nemo on 2009-06-01 14:36
"Over 95%" ? So that would leave, what — only two people disagreeing? Not even two, by my count. Yet, knowing nothing but public information, I can already name as opponents there present Mr. Ajalat, Mr. Khouri, Ms Heider, Mr. Laham, +Mark, and +Basil.
In short, this commenter seems to be fact-challenged.
(Besides, what would make Mr. Farha think that waiting would convert more than a tiny minority of dissenters? The arguments against the decision are about far more than simply whether a quorum was present. If the Holy Synod confirms the 2/24 decision, the bulk of the Chancellors' and Bp. +Basil's objections will still stand.
And if such a confirmation takes place after a dozen or so lay fat-cats have weighed in, as some here have claimed is in the works, a fresh new objection will be available. "Simony" is such an ugly word, but sometimes no other will do.)
#24 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-01 14:37
It's not jurisdictionalism that's actually heretical (and in any event the term needs definition), but ethnophyletism. And I know of no American hierarch who holds the latter literally, as one would have to for it to be a heresy.
That's not to say that we have anything to be proud of in the area of national Church governance, but "heresy" is a term that I feel we ought to use only in the most rigorous manner. To do otherwise will surely be counter-productive, just as has been the over-application of the term to Orthodox involvement in the ecumenical movement (a mistake that even Fr. Seraphim Rose warned of).
Keep on keeping on — God has not left us to be orphans!
#25 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-01 15:10
Oh, no doubt about women standing up. My point was not that they don't or can't but only that if she had the courage to do so, more of the men should have as well. If that is sexism, then I accept the label.
#26 Phileas on 2009-06-01 15:19
It seems that Economos Antony Gabriel has already left for Damascus, no doubt to lay the ground work for the delegation and start the politics and polemics to counter whatever the Patriarch and other bishops learn first-hand this week about the other side of the story.
Let the politics and the caucusing begin!!!!!!!!!
#27 Anonymous on 2009-06-01 16:26
Having seen Chancellor Ajalat in action it can be assured he would not leave the Board being a Met Philip "follower"..... Rewrite the Constitution? Then why his long attack calling it "indefensible", the resolution put up to the Six Bishops in Englewood? Strange!
#28 Anonymous on 2009-06-01 17:26
Let me elaborate on how I am using the term “jurisdictionalism.” Perhaps “phyletism” would have been a better term to use, which was condemned as a heresy by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1872. I would refer one to the following article by Fr. Josiah to better articulate what I meant.
Thank you for your last statement, “Keep on keeping on — God has not left us to be orphans!” Yes, you are right. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see the light in times of darkness. I appreciate your encouragement.
#29 Hanging on for now… on 2009-06-01 18:25
Bishop Antoun has always followed Met P. as his classmate "made him". His shouting and finger waving has been known for years. Some, at best, call him the Sheriff. Others a true assistant Despot!
#30 Anonymous (Mid West Diocese) on 2009-06-01 19:35
I disagree with people who think Met. Philip might not be firing all cylinders. he is just as sharp as ever, the difference is that now people are having the temerity to point out he is wrong, has been wrong and will continue to be. He is sputtering and not making a lot of sense, but he *never did*. There are more people demanding common sense instead of fawning over bishops. Very healthy. The body has an immune system.
The Church is one, and not surprisingly the tough love offered the OCA by its flock will work just as well for "Antiochians" as it does for Americans. Greeks will find this out too. Romanians, Serbs, et al. The sheer uselessness of overseas patriarchates and how they horn in on US fatihful will someday look even stranger than it does now. There is momentum in a good direction.
#31 Ba'ab on 2009-06-01 19:50
I believe you meant "let the palm greasing begin."
#32 Silouan James on 2009-06-01 19:59
Just a note regarding the Board of Trustees. Traditionally (no pun intended) the Metropolitan has stocked the Board with "yes-men" and simply rotated them on and off over the years. These are people who see the Church as a business or in a very nominal way. They are people who are very comfortable with the Metropolitan's approach to Church -- "Departments," "Activities," "Our People," etc., not the spiritual tradition of the Church.
HERE'S A LITTLE NUGGET FOR YOU. Every other year at the Archdiocese Conventions, one or more Priests (you can guess who) go around while we are "voting" for the Board of Trustees nominees and without apology LET US KNOW WHO THE METROPOLITAN "WANTS" US TO VOTE FOR.
"Transparency" at it's best!
It is likely that in recent years this process has slipped a bit (especially with many converts coming into the Archdiocese) and some non-cronies -- who don't realize they are supposed to say that the Emperor has beautiful clothing -- have come on board and began to notice the Emperor has no clothing. It takes a while to come to this when everyone around you is assuring you that they see his beautiful clothing and if only you squint your eyes enough you too can see it!
#33 Anonymous Priest on 2009-06-01 20:12
I'm glad to see the AOCA applying a 'flat rate' to the parishes. The only addition I'd make is to allow the Bishops to adjust the rate up or down a bit as needed. For a new parish 8% might be too much, for a well established parish with few bills, 12% might be quite simple.
Established parishes always ought to be supporting missions.
#34 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-06-01 20:24
I am glad that I am in Damascus all the while sitting here in Montreal accidently reading this dribble:hey anonymous get a life!
(Editor's note: Thank you, Father, for the clarification. One of the problems of the internet is that false information travels quickly; the good news is that corrections can do the same.)
#35 economos antony gabriel on 2009-06-01 21:36
Is there a listing of the names of the Trustees anywhere on the web?
(editor's note: No. The only listing I am aware of is in the Antiochian Directory which is privately distributed to clergy and BOT members.)
#36 Antionymous on 2009-06-02 03:57
It is obvious why Metropolitan Philip would want the board of trustees to vote on this issue. First, it would support his version of events in the eyes of the Holy Synod. Second, he could use the vote of the board to preface a resolution at the convention to repeal the constitution. He may claim he doesn't need it, but the very fact that a BOT vote was attempted reveals he KNOWS he needs it. This was typical Philipian sleight of hand.
#37 Anonymous on 2009-06-02 04:23
Overheard in Damascus:
Well, you see Sayidna... In this war, things get confused out there, power, ideals, the old morality, and practical necessity. Out there with these natives it must be a temptation to be god. Because there's a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. The good does not always triumph. Sometimes the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. Every man has got a breaking point.
#38 Anonymouse on 2009-06-02 05:03
I f what people say is true--that over the years, +MP has showered Damascus with money and gifts, I seriously doubt that Patriarch who is more advanced in age than +MP, will stand on the side of the Bishops against Philip, his "gift horse" and now we see one of his buddies "setting the stage" for the meeting. I'm am confident that the Patriarch can NOT be aware of the turmoil in this country, so I fear for the outcome.
The Metropolitan's behavior at the Trustees' meeting is a clear indication of his imperious behavior, and that is not going to change. I, and many others, have already resigned from the Order of St. Ignatius, and I will be leaving this archdiocese (with great sadness and pain). Few, laity or priest alike, should be able to tolerate this kind of behavior in this Church leader. I think the situation is especially painful for converts, like me, who came to Orthodoxy and love the Church. We do embrace the concept of obedience and hierarchical structure, but history has shown that there are times when ordinary folks need to stand against wrong doing. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
#39 anon on 2009-06-02 05:29
Sorry James, you couldn't be more wrong! Continuing to remain under foreign bishops is not a role ANY Orthodox Church in North America should maintain. There is no hope remaining under foreign bishops rule and it clearly non-canonical. SO WHY? The Greeks are going to hold a conference trying to justify why foreign bishops should maintain control over foreign territories emphasizing the "Diaspora." The "Diaspora" is a fallacy. Who in North America is going back to Syria or Lebanon to live? Who is going back to Istanbul? Who is going back to Russia? Maybe 2 people.
The ONLY hope for North American Orthodox is to cut all ties with their foreign over-lords and run their own churches. + Philip needs to retire; + Basil needs to become the Metropolitan; the AOCA Synod needs to leave the control of Damascus and join the OCA to become a true, autocephalous church of Arab ancestry!
#40 Anonymous on 2009-06-02 06:10
Let's never forget, "Money talks, nobody walks!"
The SOP of all old country bishops is to take the bribe. Why does anyone think these old country bishops want to maintain control over North America? IT'S THE $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!
#41 Anonymous on 2009-06-02 06:26
did anyone read the telephone interview conducted by theantiochian.com with a board of trustees member? it is very enlightening to say the least.
(editor's note: It led to the retraction of their earlier story about the meeting. Clearly, different Board members had different reactions to the events that transpired - but I agree, the speculations of the anonymous Board member interviewed are most interesting. )
#42 Anonymous on 2009-06-02 07:21
It is definitely correct that Arch'd cronies campaign for election of trustees favored by the Metropolitan. It has been witnessed many, many times. July in CA will be no different! They are rotated and with $$$ enjoy sitting on the high places with the honors, dinners and hope for their silver and gold award medals. Only a few ever elected dare speak out and most the best example of the "rubber stampers" favored! Has ANY ONE ever simply asked what are our total assets? Never! As our leader will not allow it. I dare anyone to reply to this email on this subject !! Pray for our Board to open their eyes. Thank you Mrs. Heider as you may not be elected next time but you asked thye "honest" question on Bp Demetri, although NEVER answered.
#43 Anonymous Archpriest on 2009-06-02 07:49
My father died 17 years ago and often spoke of the aggravated life thye late Met. Archbishop nAntony (Bashier) had to endure in the 30yrs + he headed the Antiochian Church here. Freedom from Antioch (or is it Damascus) is imperative if their will ever be a united Church in No. America. The late Fr Vasile Hategan of the Romanians preached this all his life, a good friend of Ohio, and his writings predicted the "mess" we would endure.
#44 Anonymous American born Priest on 2009-06-02 08:04
Perhaps, instead of protesting the rumor of his current departure, Father Antony could simply enlighten us as to the date of his pending departure . . .
#45 Silouan James on 2009-06-02 08:24
To Anon #24:
If people who disagree with what is going in in our archdiocese leave, who will remain? This is not the time to leave; it is the time to remain and to pray. Let's not forget prayer and as someone previously said, God will not leave us orphans. God will NOT leave us orphans! Is this His Church, or not? Does God not see and hear? Let's live our faith, not pick up our ball and go play somewhere else. The fact there is dissent is proof that things are changing. We need to stand for what is right, but do it as humbly and respectfully as possible.
#46 Kevin Allen on 2009-06-02 08:37
Obviously, from my previous comments, I completely agree with you and the many others giving voice to this sentiment.
One point our foreign brethren may be missing is that North American financial generosity might well increase, rather than decrease, if we were truly independent. Most of us are sympathetic to the plight of Christians in Islamic societies where intolerance and persecution are the norm. At best, despite Western leftist propaganda to the contrary, Islamic countries provide a very "second class" kind of citizenship, even to people of the Book, which we would find intolerable and ultimately genocidal, at least in a spiritual sense.
Surrender outdated control, and perhaps financial and political support would increase. What is an inescapable fact is that all the ancient Patriarchates of the East are shadows of their former selves, dominated and largely controlled by secular forces increasingly under the thumb of Islamic fundamentalism. They are in no position to lead anyone outside their immediate jurisdiction. It is they who need our help.
#47 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-06-02 08:52
The temptation in North America is to paint the entire Holy Synod as "Damascus" and then to accuse the Patriarch, himself, or the entire Holy Synod as corrupt. This is unfair and, fundamentally, unChristian. By all reliable accounts, the Patriarch is an honest man. Sure, he may be susceptible to the twisting of the truth by Metropolitan Philip, but, then, again, he's not alone in being charmed by that "warm, melodious voice." He's no bribe-taker, though.
That said, there are a number of Metropolitans on the Holy Synod who ARE "on the take." One only need follow the trail of North American gift-bearers to their doorsteps and the votes in the Holy Synod. These Metropolitans know who they are. It will be interesting to see whether they will confirm their propensity toward graft during this week and the next or whether they will resist the temptation, knowing that the next ecclesial storm (a complete collapse of the reputation of Antioch throughout the world) will be heading their direction if they give in. God grant them strength to make a fresh start of things, now.
I trust that they and the Patriarch understand that a number of us here in North America are already identifying specific payments made in the past by +Philip from "Food for Hungry People" collections to secure the votes of Holy Synod members. Some of them are dead, but some remain. It is only a matter of time before the entire picture is apparent. Is it any wonder that +Philip resists a financial audit?
If the Patriarch is forward-looking, as many believe he is, he will realize that a Local Synod will be far better prepared to deal with and mitigate the effects of the coming scandal than a single Metropolitan Archbishop whose hands are, themselves, dirty and who will go to his grave fighting the evidence and making the scandal take on a much larger dimension than it otherwise would.
The internet and modern communications are here to stay. As the OCA has discovered, corruption will always be made known. It's simply a matter of whether it is outed by the Church itself or whether the people have to do the job, in which case the guilty will cause no end of public humiliation to themselves as they engage in battle and more deception to slow the emergence of the truth.
#48 Silouan James on 2009-06-02 09:04
"The horror! The horror!"
(Editor's note: We hardly in the heart of darkness, Mr. Conrad. Your cry is a bit premature.)
#49 Col. Kurtz on 2009-06-02 09:19
Your message is a sad one, but probably genuine. I must confess I remain pretty skeptical of people who seem to have no legitimate reason for remaining anonymous (you are quitting both the Order and the Archdiocese, after all - so why not have just a little courage and give your name?) other than the desire not to be publicly accountable for opinions that may be less than flattering to those who express them.
Were you in church and awake this last Sunday during the epistle reading - St. Paul's farewell meeting with the Ephesian elders? He made it very clear in their case that the Church would only go forward through much tribulation from without...and within! One supposes the Holy Spirit inspired St. Luke to write it down and the Holy Fathers of Nicea to approve its inclusion in the canon of scripture because it has relevance to successive generations like ours and their challenges - such as this one.
You're an American convert? So am I. Americans love fantasy and dose themselves regularly with it. Were you drawn to a fantasy image of Orthodoxy or Antioch as the Pure Church, free of heresy, conflict, compromises? I remember people trying to sell that bill of goods, and I half bought it. The other half of me remembered studying 20 centuries of Church history and was too realistic to actually complete the purchase. If you need the fantasy of greener grass I will not stand in your crossing of fences to seek it, but I will at least warn you that it is probably a mirage.
And we Americans are so impatient, and want things to come right at minimal cost! This controversy has been out in the open about 3 months now. Wow! Getting tired? Sorry. An irreparable breach can be created in a flash. A lasting and beneficial consensus takes a long time to create and live out. There is an old Protestant hymn (Am I a Soldier of the Cross?) you might have learned and sung in younger days as I did. It goes "Shall I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?" Perhaps you have spilled 'blood' I do not know of, and that sacrifice was all you can bear. If so I apologize for presuming to teach you about it from my small experience.
An American mind Potest-ant mind protesta and fulminates at the sight of impurities and struggles and divides from those whose struggles it finds unedifying, loathsome, embarrassing. If that is who you really are and what you really stand for, then you should take a look at whether or not you ever really understood the Church and the committment to her you were making. I sincerely hope you do not stumble too badly on the way out, but if that is the only way for you to keep the faith go in grace and peace.
There is also something quintessentially American about the yeoman belief that every difficulty or curiosity or enigma deserves, yea needs, the insertion of every good citizen's nose into as much of the controversy as possible. I am not saying that this difficulty is unimportant or that people should just step back and leave it to the experts, but I am suggesting that it is something that the average person embroils himself in at great spiritual peril - as your professed readiness to quit and go away strongly suggests.
And when a person with a Protest-ant mind encounters these troubles, by definition that mind protests. And unless it can be cured by admonition, reflection, patience, prayer - sooner or later it separates too.
Do our people have any comprehension of history, the dynamics that have created and driven the myriad of Church fights and splits of the past? Were the people of olden times mere weaklings and fools; are we so wonderfully wise and insightful that we are immune to the same diseases of mind and heart that felled many of them? NO! In a generation that is addicted to entertainment (rather than the search for wisdom and the Holy Spirit) is there any appreciation of how to recognize and avoid the same mistakes? Or having gotten involved how to make a positive contribution to their resolution?
This last Sunday's Gospel (John 17-1-13) was a timely one too - Christ's high priestly prayer for the Apostles and the Church they would found (and we would inherit). Tucked away in there is the phrase "...that they may be one even as we are..."
What a tall order: to replicate in weak human flesh the unity of the Trinity. We are told to seek it in marriage and in the Church. Is that beyond you, Mr. or Ms. Enough - absent God's gracious answer to Christ's prayer? It is beyond me and all the other players in this drama that I know of.
I am so disappointed in so much of the rhetoric here - us vs. them thinking reveals itself in hasty, heated, raw, us vs. them verbiage. I think far too many people are taking their subconscious cues from the media and American politics, especially the ways in which one party publicly trashes the other. In the Church we cannot afford to do that. As St. Paul told the Galatians, if we bite and devour one another we must take heed lest we devour one another.
I have said pretty much from the beginning that this is about sharing power, a living Church re-examining itself in light of the past, present and hoped-for future. The changes of 5 years ago were supposed to embody that but leave me with some significant doubts. As Orthodox we believe in conciliarity of leadership. As St. James proved at the Jerusalem Council, we can have both conciliarity and strong central leadership by an individual. As history proves, it is a balance people will often get wrong without divine help.
One of the canons I recall seeing cited on this site a month or two ago states that a Metropolitan must not act without the consensus of the bishops, and they must not act without his approval. Exactly! This is foreign to the world's zero sum paradigm of 'either-or' thinking in which each perk or privilege you have is a subtraction from mine.
All of our bishops must work together with one another and show their worthiness by figuring out how to define it and make such a synergy work. No easy or quick task. I look forward to the day when they will have humbly, firmly wisely worked out how to maximize ONE ANOTHER's power and effectiveness. This is what we must pray and work for and encourage.
So my $.02 worth is stick around but distance yourself from this issue and the damage it is causing you. You are not indispensable to the outcome. Give prayer and encouragement to good people of all seeming "sides" who remain engaged and appear dedicated to promoting a positive outcome. Discourage those who are just venting or doing things that tend to friction and division.
sincerely, and with some love,
#50 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-06-02 10:53
I did find those recently. Although it was not the Archdiocese putting those out, they are out, and it is better late than never.
#51 David Najjar on 2009-06-02 11:51
This is an interesting point worth noting. In past American political debates, this issue was often raised. A flat tax hurts the smaller, poorer people more than the richer. In the American income tax system, this can be the case. I don't know how it'd work for the AOCA.
#52 Phileas on 2009-06-02 13:14
Exactly. Let us pray for our Patriarch and all of the members of the Holy Synod. Some of them may have taken "gifts" in the past, but it does not mean that they will repeat their mistake this time. Moreover, the Patriarch and the bulk of the Holy Synod is innocent in this regard and is concerned for the well-being of North America. So long as they are not duped by half-truths spun by Metropolitan Philip in the Holy Synod meeting where no one has the knowledge to refute him, we should rely on the means the Church has long employed to resolve its situations-- conciliar action in accordance with Holy Tradition and the Holy Canons. Let us lay the issue in the hands of the Holy Synod, as have our wise Diocesan Bishops, and trust the Holy Synod to deal with it. Although it is possible that they will ultimately betray that trust, let us be careful not to judge them aforetime but, rather, to seek by prayer the Holy Spirit's descent upon them, the Patriarch's meetings with our bishops, and the Holy Synod's meeting next week. Perhaps they will prove, by their canonical actions, their desire to grow closer to us-- and may that also be our desire, so that the effect of years of separation through the political machinations of +Philip can be erased in the years to come and that the Antiochian Orthodox Church can flower throughout North America and the world.
#53 Silouan James on 2009-06-02 14:19
As my trophy wife just pointed out to me, "Byzantine" is a very appropriate word to describe MP and the way this Church behaves. I'm waiting to see what news our bishops bring back from Damascus.
#54 Kevin Klein on 2009-06-02 14:22
Thank you for that. Just one thing: You write that you recall seeing cited here a canon that "states that a Metropolitan must not act without the consensus of the bishops, and they must not act without his approval. Exactly!"
In fact, the canon states, regarding the chief hierarch, that the other bishops "must ... do nothing of consequence without his consent; but each may do those things only which concern his own diocese, and the country places which belong to it" (35th Apostolic Canon).
In short, without the consent of the chief hierarch, a bishop may not do things of such consequence — another translation reads "great things" — as to reach beyond his diocese and affect the larger Local Church. However, where a matter concerns his own diocese, he is sovereign as established by the same canons (14, 15, 35, 41, etc).
An important point in the present storm, I think.
#55 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-02 15:32
Re: The Horror
Sorry, Mark. Just having some fun with Anonymouse and his Apocalypse Now reference ("Well, you see Sayidna... In this war, things get confused out there...").
(Editor's note: No need to apologize. Literary and cinematic allusions are always welcome here. We had great fun with Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter in another crisis. Just interesting how this one goes seems to find its home not in fantasy, but in horror, so far.
#56 Col. Kurtz on 2009-06-02 15:49
To Fr. George,
Although I agree with your above statements in general, there are a few points where I strongly disagree with you. Particularly, first you asked why the poster chose to remain anonymous if he is leaving. My guess is that he would like to be left alone. Second, unless I have read your post incorrectly, you seem to be implying a lack of perseverance and the need for him to stick through this mess. Fr. George, have you personally been a victim of abuse? It is true that for many this issue is exactly as you describe it…a need to have patience and to persist. But what about those who have suffered abuse in their lives? I’m afraid to say that this situation is too much for them. Met. Philip has proved himself to be an abuser. To a relatively healthy person it may be easy to stick it out. However, to those who have suffered the pains of abuse, this is too much. I hope that MP will realize the harm that he is causing to some and repent.
You also stated, “if we bite and devour one another we must take heed lest we devour one another.” But previous to that you asked, “Were you in church and awake this last Sunday during the epistle reading…” [Emphasis mine]. Are you not being a little hypocritical? You preach not to bite and devour one another but at the same time you demeaningly ask if he was awake during the epistle reading.
After giving your “$.02 worth” you signed your post, “sincerely, and with some love.” Perhaps there was “some” love involved, but not the fullness which the Lord calls us to have. Your post seems to have lacked compassion, sensitivity, and understanding to the poster, and a little self-righteousness on your part.
Last, the poster did not say that he is leaving the Orthodox Church, just the Antiochian Archdiocese. All I can say is, “I don’t blame him!” This incident is not an isolated case of abuse of power on the part of MP, but rather a pattern that spans over years.
I hope the poster can find another Orthodox Church where he can find healing and the fullness of Orthodoxy. I tend to believe that this poster will not be the only one who says “enough is enough.” I fully agree with him.
Hanging on for now…
#57 Hanging on for now… on 2009-06-02 16:08
To Fr. George and Kevin Allen,
Thank you for your comments, and my hotheaded remarks were indeed uncalled for. Please forgive me for that. I will never leave Orthodoxy, but there are options, and it remains to be seen how the AOCA will resolve its troubles. But at this point in my life, I want peace, and perhaps can use my limited funds to help a struggling OCA parish. I do know that God will provide, and the limited perspective that we see at this moment is a tiny blip on a radar screen in the history of the Church. It's time for me to remain silent.
#58 anon on 2009-06-02 16:37
Power struggles and turf battles are a fact of human existence. Unless you resign yourself to sitting at home like the Protestant with his King James Bible, you will not find an institution free of them.
One definition of "crisis" might be a problem that time itself cannot cure. In all candor, this is not such a problem.
#59 Doug Smith on 2009-06-02 18:28
Well, dear 'Hanging,"
I wrote "some" love because, despite trying, I wanted to acknowledge how incomplete my love for people really is.
Have I ever been the victim of abuse? Given the breadth with which YOU use the term, absolutely, repeatedly - but not by any Orthodox bishop. The way I use the word, and recommend that others do too, i.e. more precisely, so that it has real meaning and content, no.
You hypothesize that #24 might be a survivor of abuse and engaged in mental processes which caused him/her to associate the use of an hierarch's power with whatever this person MIGHT have experienced in the past, and that therefore I should have been more sensitive. That's a lot of guesswork and extrapolating. I prefer not to guess, and to respond to what the person actually says - which in this case contained no reference to past trauma from "abuse" and no indication of any harm to him/her personally from the current problems.
#60 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-06-02 19:06
A flat tax is considered regressive from the aspect of the payer when a person with greater wherewithall is allowed to pay less and the budget remains the same, which would thus increase the flat rate to all.
Regressive taxes land in all sorts of ways, though. A flat dollar fee is regressive as well. When the federal government stops contributing to local government, local governments raise property taxes without regard for the income of the payer.
The part you are missing is that the budget would not remain the same under the churches plan.
If every parish contributes 10% of its budget as assessments, that is the budget...period.
But, a smart bishop, given a bit of latitude, would know that parish A has a bit of greater wherewithall than parish B. Perhaps parish B has a mortgage, for example. This is why it would be wise for a bishop to ask for say 13% from a financially strong parish, and say 7% from a parish that can't afford it.
Really, a flat rate to the parish is the only decent way I've seen to fund church hierarchy.
#61 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-06-02 20:25
Being a 3rd generation Orthodox Christian and the grandson of a priest I am appauled at the actions of the priest in Livonia. I am involved with my church on many levels and needed to weigh in on some of what I have read on your website. The Priest in Livonia and Detroit have not only insulted Bishop Mark but do so at the approval of Metropolitian Phillip. The Metropolitian made them issue an apology to Bishop Mark but it was a clausable denial letter and even a bigger insult, probably their intent. It's too bad that they had a third grader compose it. They however are why our Archdioscese is in the train wreck that it is headed for. The old country attitute is drwoning our religion. The Livonia priest believe that they are above any and all scrutinity, it is this narrow minded thinking that is dividing the church the priest and the clergy. The world can now see just how power and money has made certain clergy hungry for more. For a priest to refuse direction of their Bishop and to openly insult a Bishop is unacceptable. They must be held accountable and not protected from New Jersey. It is time to clean out the clergy closet. We cannot allow them to use the Holy Alter for a book signing or was that the Gospel signing. But I heard that they too have certain criteria, you must give an awful lot of money or be really famous, can't really remember how it went down. It's time to have the priest who are using the alter for a celebrity showcase stop immediatly, this is below shameless, the alter is a hold and and sacrad area. These are some of the major supporters of our Metropolitian and fuel the fire of un-orthodoxy. Because they command large parishes and are Arab they believe that they have card blance. Thank God for your website and for bringing to light what is taking place. God Bless the many attorneys who have the insight and determination to keep strong for us.
#62 GBINC1 on 2009-06-02 21:05
I am glad that I am in Damascus all the while sitting here in Montreal accidently reading this dribble:hey anonymous get a life!
Just curious... how does one happen to "accidently" read "dribble" posted about themselves?
Not saying it couldn't happen, but it seems to me that there are quite a few of the MP's enforcers frequenting this website.
I can't help but wonder if MP is seeking to keep an eye on things through the use of surrogates. Perhaps there is more concern in Englewood about the reaction to MP's reprehensible actions than is publicaly acknowledged.
#63 Heracleides on 2009-06-03 09:01
How absolutely silly!
Metropolitan Philip faced a BOT meeting with 90% or better against a vote. He evemn tried to bully them by saying Patriarch Ignatius was waiting for their vote.
Why would Patriarch Ignatius even care about their vote, if as MP says we are a hierarchical Church. If the Constitution means NOTHING, then the NATIONAL CONVENTION and the Board of TRUSTEES mean nothing as well.
I believe it is truly likely the Patriarch was not waiting for our Bishops to sign of April 24, nor the BOT to sign when they met. MP is the one who needed them to sign as an indicator he could still bully people.
To his complete dismay, he can no longer bully the Diocesan Bishops, nor the BOT.
Now we will see if he can bully the Holy Synod and impose his will upon them.
If he prevails, will he not impose his will on our Bishops?
If he prevails will he not impose his will on the BOT?
If he prevails will he not impose his will on th entire Archdiocese?
IF HE PREVAILS IS IT NOT TIME FOR A FULL AND COMPLETE OUTSIDE AUDIT?
#64 anonymous on 2009-06-07 13:30
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