Saturday, June 6. 2009
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And now we wait for the Synod. Hopefully everyone can have the sense to wait for the Synod to speak, rather than speculate and interpret.
God grant wisdom, peace, and integrity to the Holy Synod of Antioch.
Well, what this sounds like is "Shut up and wait. We'll tell you what happened when we're ready." OK, then not a dime should go to the archdiocese until that occurs. Might grease the skids, and they need it badly. Not just metropolitans and patriarchs, but "auxiliary" bishops can play games.
#2 ba"ab on 2009-06-06 21:26
Having dipped into theantiochian.com perhaps more than I should have, why should this be a suprise. Though never actually "banned" yet somehow not "not allowed" though even some gross insults of others were granted an airing... it was questioning, noting the similarities between the mentality of the Father Allen mater and this present situation and the additional observation that not a few posters had begun to formulaically put in parenthesis "many years" at the mere mention of Metroplitan Philip's name, a pattern that I connected more to Islam than Christianity that got me never to be heard from again.
With the Admin connecting almost any "disliking" of a hierarch's decision as the beginning of "heresy" and "schism" count me out of thetheantiochian.com which claim not to be officially a part of the AOCA...and the true, factual base for all of this mess.
This is childishness verging on peekaboo...
And let's be direct, all previous speculation was generated by none other than Metropolitan Philip whose actions and conflicting statements necessitated others to do damage control.
I have to say it could only be in a jurisdiction where people were received en bloc into Orthodoxy and then made to feel "indebted" that this kind of disregard for people's feelings and the Canons could be sold as AOK.
This has renewed my former belief that "primarily convert" or "entirely convert" parishes are...unhealthy. For me, it verges on sectism and cultism. When infused with a Damascocentrist/Personalitycentrist sense of being a flatterer and a loyalist no matter what...
#3 Steve on 2009-06-07 04:03
Perhaps we should give the Metropolitans and Bishops a break on this one! Your comments is rather rude and inappropriate.
As we already know, our Diocesan Bishops had a good meeting with the Patriarch. He will now bring the matter to the Holy Synod. Why would our Bishops want to undermine the Patriarch when he so graciously received them?
Why would they want to undermine or preempt his meeting with the Holy Synod? If the Patriarch wants to reveal the details of the meeting it is up to him, not the Bishops.
Let us not be hasty and shoot ourselves in the foot here. We have good Diocesan Bishops who have travelled a long way at their own expense. Let us wait and see what the Holy Synod does.
Where I agree with you is we should comntinue to with-hold money to the Archdiocese and insist on an outsie audit.
Let us pray that God's will be done at the Holy Synod meeting. If the Patriarch is unable to gain a favorable decision, we should audit the Archdiocesan Bak accounts to see the amount of money withdrawn before MP left for Damascus. He is well know for carrying large amounts of cash as "gifts" and giving large checks before Holy Synod meetings.
#4 anon and anon on 2009-06-07 04:16
Ba"ab, please consider what you write before you write it and think about the Christian love and charity with which we're all supposed to treat one another. What exactly have our bishops done to lead you to make the least charitable assumptions possible about them and about their motivations?
You talk about our auxiliary bishops "playing games" and say that we should withhold all money from the Archdiocese until they stop it and tell us what happened. Why?
It seems like a far more likely assumption is that things like this take time to deal with and not everything can always be shared until something is finished. That is true in a lot of areas of life, not just the Church. It is likely that Bishop Mark and the other bishops simply cannot say, at this point, exactly what happened and what was said, because of the upcoming synod meeting in a week and a half. How is that playing games?
If you are a Christian, which I believe that you probably are because you post here, then you are called to assume the best of everyone, especially your fellow Christians. Making assumptions about things that you cannot know and trying to punish the Church based on your assumptions will not ultimately harm the Church, but only yourself.
#5 abdalah hannah on 2009-06-07 11:01
Both Bp. Basil and Bp. Mark write of the tone of their meetings with the Patriarch, but nothing of their substance. There's nothing in what either bishop writes to indicate that the Holy Synod will not try to enact more of the same stupidity at its next meeting that it did back in February. Are these statements merely meaningless platitudes designed to placate the angry masses before our Parish Life Conferences just as the Patriarch seems to have placated our bishops with meaningless platitudes?
#6 Nemo on 2009-06-07 14:05
Budget and Financial Report Questions
“15th All-American Council
For the 15th All-American Council, the total income was $250,996 and total expenses were $265,369, for a net loss of $4,372. While I was optimistic that we would end with a surplus, the fact that we ended with such a small loss is still positive. When we started the process of putting together a budget we truly had no idea exactly how it would play out.”
The above is an EXACT paragraph from the Treasurer’s Report 2008. Obviously, they still don’t exactly know how it played out!!! In my arithmetic, $265,369 minus $250,996 is $14,373. So much for confidence in the new OCA! And what is that $50 extra assessment per member of the OCA to fund the Legal Defense Fund? As per the OCA site, the Final 2009 Budget states that the OCA has approximately 24,857 members. The treasurer is suggesting that each of these 24,857 members should be assessed $50 on page 4 of the Treasurer’s Report 2008. That would mean $1.24 million dollars. Is that what he feels the OCA needs for the Legal Defense Fund? Why? And what happens if that isn’t the end of the story? Lots of questions! Help me!
#7 Wondering in Jersey on 2009-06-07 14:34
Sounds less like "shut up and wait" than it does a polite "we had a good private chat with the Patriarch, and we wish to respect that privacy, rather than rudely blabbing everything we discussed." The negative is pretty apparent-- that the Patriarch did not demand oaths or banish anyone to a monastery as "those in the know" on other websites have been saying happened.
#8 Silouan James on 2009-06-07 17:50
I am not encouraged either by Bp. Mark or Basil's words regarding their visit in Damascus. Like hundreds if not thousands of the faithful we will expect more than carefully guarded nothings when they address us about these serious and far reaching decisions that affect not just their positions but the future of Holy Orthodoxy in America.
I cannot do much but I can with those God has entrusted me go where Orthodox ecclessiology with integrity is promoted and practiced.
#9 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-06-07 17:54
We look for the "best" but with trepidation as to te low gear response of those returning from Damascus! We are praying but events of thepast cause many to wonder!Many know that Met. P. dispenses gifts on his trips and since he's missed many Synod gatherings he will be well armed and those awaiting his gifts. An accounting of Arch'd books? Just 3 people even know what transpires from the Englewood Castle. And only 1 to account to, that's certain. Full control now and always.
#10 Anonymous Priest (Eastern Region or Diocese) on 2009-06-07 20:55
In as much as one of the concerns expressed both by our bishops and by posters here is that the application to North America of the 24 February by-laws change (or proposed by-laws change, since there was no quorum present) would be a violation of the Holy Canons, I think, couched in ecclesiastical diplomatese, there is enough substance to Bishop Mark's missive for us to be hopeful.
Even more, the expectation of regular contact between our Holy Synod (so long as the Constitution is not amended we have one) and the Holy Synod of Antioch held forth in Bishop Basil's letter to the clergy of our diocese is a real change: no longer will the Partriarchate get all news of North America through the filter of Englewood. I would also note that such contacts would not be in keeping with proper ecclesiastical protocol if the by-laws change and Met. Philip's application of it to our Archdiocese are upheld at the 16 June meeting of the Holy Synod of Antioch (though even then, Patriarch Ignatius could certainly invite any bishop of the Patriachate for consultations).
Keep hope, don't do or write anything rash, and pray fervently.
St. Raphael intercede for us!
#11 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-07 21:29
See my reply to Nemo.
#12 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-07 21:33
Did not both Bishops indicate the Patriarch was unaware of the unrest in North America?
Did they not both say the matter would be addressed at the upcoming meeting of the Holy Synod.
The fact that they were invited to come and meet privately and corporately speaks volumes.
The fact that the patriarch was already well aware of the developments in North America and he was concerned enough to meet with our Bishops speaks volumes.
WE should have confidence in the fact that the Patriarch is seeking a resolution to this matter.
We are not Papist. The Patriarch has a Synod too. He must now take the information he has and present it to the Holy Synod. The Patriarch must first have opportunity to meet with the Holy Synod and seek a solution.
It would make no sense whatsoever for the Diocesan Bishops to disclose the substance of their meeting before the Patriarch does so with the members of the Holy Synod.
Hopefully, His Beatitude and our Diocesan Bishops are seeking a resolution to bring peace, reconciliation and harmony.
Given MP's chastizement of the chancellor's and his commnets we are a hierarchical Church, let us ee if he is still singing that song after the Holy Synod meeting.
MP was the one who wanted a Constitution to protect the AOCA from outside interference. Then he chastized the chancellors for defending it as they were ethically required to do.
Now if things do not go his way, will he appeal to the Constitution and reject the decisions of the Holy Synod.
MP has adopted the cafeteria approach to Orthodoxy. He picks and chooses when to embrace the canons or when to embrace a Constitutional stance.
He always advocates for that which supports his current aganda.
Read the time line. Read his comments over the past sveral months. Obviously his counselors from Montrael, Detroit and OK City have put him on the path to end his episcopacy sooner rather than later. He has lost all credibility and no longer can unite this archdiocese.
It would truly be tragic and grossly inappropriate for the Holy Synod to allow wealthy laymen or clergy from this archdiocese into the Holy Synod meeting and not any of the diocesan bishops.
Let us remember it has been our Diocesan Bishops who have stood their ground based on solid Christian principles.
#13 anon and anon on 2009-06-07 21:45
Take care Kevin, all the best.
#14 William on 2009-06-07 22:20
I would like to very much place a comment on this, while all of you sit and wait can you please understand that we are all One and Undivided, and if this is the case we should all be looking out for one another, How can we do this? instead of spending all our time on nonsense we can spend it on the Lord, How can we do this? a good example would be is to help build New Church's, It is very simple, As the priest of St Michael's Orthodox Church in Cordova Alaska we are looking to complete this new building of the Lords, but we are coming up a little short, If we can all come together and support one another this can happen, you can see the progress on the dioceseofalaska.org web site
thank you the unworthy priest alexei
#15 Rev Alexei Knagin on 2009-06-07 23:07
First of all, I am no apologist for Metropolitan +Philip. In point of fact, I suspect most of the things he's done ever since the Joseph Allen affair.
Having said that....
Bishop +Mark and Bishop +Basil didn't say anything because it isn't their place right now.
The Holy Synod of Antioch and +Philip made this mess. It's up to the Holy Synod to clean it up. And if they don't then I think sterner measure should and will be called for. But for +Basil and +Mark to come back and say this or that about what went on would be just as bad and just as prejudicing as the nonsense that came out of the Archdiocese Chancery in the first place.
But it isn't like this doesn't have a clear date where something should be resolved. The Holy Synod meets on June 16. They usually meet for less than a week. At the end of that time, if nothing changes at all, THEN raise the flag of rebellion.
It took 10 days from the Ascension for the Holy Spirit to descend on the Apostles. Don't you all feel you can wait 8 days?
And as to those who characterize this as "shut up and wait" or "carefully guarded nothings", have you really thought through what went on? They met with the Patriarch and a few other Metropolitans. They shared their concerns, they answered questions. The SYNOD needs to fix this. The Patriarch isn't a pope, he cannot respond by Fiat.
Have a little patience. Give God a chance to work here.
The initial testing/training ground for all of this, IMO, was the Father Allen matter. If 25% can leave a parish (is that percentage correct?) for the sake of someone who "has done so much for the Church" then why be surprised now? Were those who left heretics or schismatics? Were those who even disliked such an "administrative decision" at risk for eternal loss? Were they themselves "ingrates?" Establishing this type of acceptance threshold softens people up... till a belief in something like Zen "crazy wisdom" emerges. Add to this what seem to be culturally inspired gooey sycophantic layers and you get posts where it's sometimes hard to tell if the writing is satire. Frequently, it's unintended satire.
The guarded statements that follow should be considered mystical?
Reading your recent posts on theantiochian.com, I sympathize with you in your reaction to those who go beyond a belief in "infalillibility" and into the realm of "sancitity" and "iconography."
Could you imagine someone like St. John of Shanghai essentially hiring a PR man/hagiographer? Or St. Raphael of Brooklyn? Others are apparently public relations volunteers...who then wake up owing the AOCA money.
It's time for all Orthdodox Christians in North America to find "the program" in Ephesians. It requires less new buildings, conferences and publications, and yes less money.
#17 Steve on 2009-06-08 04:00
I know Bishop basil quite well. He cares for his flock and they care for him.
If he looks not only relieved, but joyous in the photo then he received encouragement related to his flock which he shepherds.
The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep (not the sheep for the shepherd.).
Perhaps Bishop Basil is greatly encuraged that the Patriarch is equally concerned for the people of the Dioceses. This would make Bishop Basil truly happy.
If you compare the picture with the one from April 24. No one is smiling. Why? Because there was turmoil and grief --- MP tried to force a decision on the Diocesan Bishops and some signed, perhaps reluctantly AND OTHER REFUSED TO SIGN AN AGREEMENT THAT MADE ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE.
This may be the key to the whole matter --- the Patriarch is going to take the matter of the Feb 24 decision back to the Holy Synod and address the concerns of the NA Bishops and THEIR PEOPLE.
If this is so then we should look to the Patriarch as our advocate and one who seeks to be a true father as he genuinely cares for his flock.
#18 anon and anon on 2009-06-08 04:05
The only options I see at this point are
1. The Patriarch & Holy Synod revise the Feb 24th decision allowing for an eparchial synod to exist with real bishops of their bishoprichs. MP to step down as he obviously does not have the capacity to function as the elder brother of a synod (nor as a brother of bishops of the Holy Synod). The priests who were the architects with the metropolitan should all be deposed for their blatant disrespect to their Bishops and subversive behavior. A Full and complete audit be mandated for the Archdiocsan books.
2. All our Bishops become Metropolitans and seated on the Holy Synod. They already have multiple metropolitans from a small country like Lebanon and multiple metropolitans from Syria. MP be retired and his friends and co-architects be deposed. A full audit be performed. How could we ever talk of Orthodox unity in NA when our own house is in such diarray. WE need to adjust ourselves to true diocesan ecclesiology first.
#19 anon and anon on 2009-06-08 04:37
It is impossible to know the details of the Bishops' visit to Damascus. We can only speculate. LIke most Americans, I am anxious to know what will happen in this controversy, but I also realize like most Americans we want instant answers to these complex issues. We all need to be patient, and realize that any solution will not please everyone. The Patriarch has got to be grateful to +MP for all those donations and any decision has to be a way to allow the American Metropolitan to have some sort of face saving solution to the problem he created. He was simply used to absolute power, and the creation of these god-fearing bishops meant that he could not control everything all the time. They mistakenly believed that they could actually make decisions.
Like another writer mentioned in his comment, I have read too much on that other dreadful, quasi literate blog, and its mentality of the Metropolitan, right or wrong, is beyond credibility. However, I think all Antiochian Orthodox Christians who have been in the archdiocese for at least ten years and have read the WORD realize the power and influence of +MP. Nothing much will happen until he retires. Having been treated like a KING all these years, he cannot be abruptly disregarded. Perhaps the best we can hope for is some sort of recognition of the worth of our bishops. In many ways the worst insult and shock for ordinary laity was the command that our Bishops not be commemorated in our Liturgies. Such a glaring put-down.
#20 anon on 2009-06-08 04:40
Dear Kevin may solutions to our problems in life are a process. No one likes the process, but insytant results are not possible in something of this magnitude.
Let us give the Patriarch time to digest what he heard in the meeting and to present his and our concerns to the Holy Synod.
As the Decision came from the Holy Synod and the Patriarch chairs that synod, we are moving in the right direction. This may take several meetings before all the metropolitansfully grasp the magnitude of the unrest in North America.
Let us give opportunity for them to make an attempt to fix it.
Unfortunately at thios point even reversing the decision or stating it does not apply to North America will not be enough.
Many faithful now distrust the Holy See of Antioch and certainly have lost all respect for MP.
Trust takes time to rebuild, and like Bp Basil said we are entering a new era with the Patriarchate. Now the Patriarch and our Bishops realize we need more exchange and interaction to know one another better.
When was the last time any of our Bishops made an official visit to the Middle East? Small wonder we have problems when our only channel of communication--- MP proved unreliable (see the time line).
The Patriarch may be reluctant to remove MP until he knows for sure this is what the people want. Let us pray, not pay and seek peaceful resolution knowing full well this may be a lengthy process.
#21 anon and anon on 2009-06-08 05:20
I would agree with Silouan James -- the bishops had private meeting with the Patriarch, and it would be foolish of them to simply come back here and tell the world everything that was said. But try to read between the lines a little bit. Neither Bp Basil nor Bp Mark signed Met Philip's April 24 "resolution." Both have stood firm in defense of Orthodox ecclesiology. Do you really think they would just go over to Damascus and capitulate?
The Holy Synod meeting begins in a week. The Patriarch, whatever his views, can do nothing without his Synod. We are not Rome; the Patriarch does not have unilateral power. It is unreasonable for us to expect him to resolve everything personally, without the involvement of the Holy Synod.
It is becoming clear, at least to me, that the problem is less with Damascus than with Englewood. And whatever the case, the problem is most certainly NOT with Wichita and Toledo. Could we all please trust Bishops Basil and Mark and wait, as they are, until after the Holy Synod meeting?
#22 Ferris Haddad on 2009-06-08 05:50
Some folks are a bit too impatient. We cannot expect this to develop like a football game, with some kind of outcome immediately apparent. The situation in North America took many years to develop (didn't just start on Feb 23rd) and it will take a while to resolve. Wait at least until a couple of months after the meeting of the Holy Synod and pay attention NOT to the words but to the actual events that transpire.
#23 Carl on 2009-06-08 06:08
I understand that our Bishops are not yet ready to go into detail about what happened at the Patriarchate and so they need to, for now, speak in "diplomatic". As others have stated, parsing the statements is a process ripe with problems.
We who have expressed, in a diversity of ways, our concern over these things and/or our desire to continue having Diocesan rather than Auxiliary Bishops now need to back up that desire by trusting that our Bishops will do their best to represent these concerns and to formulate a plan of action. If Bishop Mark is worthy of being my Diocesan Bishop, and he is, then he is worthy of my trust here as well. My task, our task, is to pray fervently for all of our Bishops that God would grant them all the grace of the Holy Spirit in the coming days.
Sometimes in the history of the Church our Bishops have to stand in the heat for us and other times we have to stand for them. Now is such a time. It's time for us to go to our icon corners and do what we need to do.
O heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who art everywhere present and fillest all things, the Treasury of good things and Giver of life, come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls O good One.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
Patience isn't a virtue for nothing! And so ours is tested with the kind words of Bp Mark and Bp Basil about what happened in Damascus. So we are forced to wait, again. I am not any happier than anyone else about having this drag out. But we have no choice.
The people of Bp Basil's diocese can press him this week at their Parish Life Conference. But I don't know what more he might say. Obviously, he and Bp Mark are willing (whether pleased or displeased) to let this unfold at the Synod Meeting.
Guess on this Spirit Day, we are left to keep calling on the Spirit to clean up another mess in the Church...and to give the patience we need to wait in hope while that happens, hopefully in the next 2 weeks.
#25 Anonymous for a reason on 2009-06-08 07:23
We are reminded the Bishops paid their own way to Damascus to see the Patriarch. So much for the visit as Met Phillip will go alone (without them) on June 16. Just imagine the results? He has persuaded them before as with the Fr Joseph (Twice Married) Allen debacle" If the Met. allowed a Diocese Treasury their expenses would (and should) be paid by their Treasury not their personal funds. The controlling Met. will not allow a "Diocese" to exist and never will! All must be controlled from a certain NJ city.
#26 Anonymous Layman on 2009-06-08 07:34
Dear Wondering in New Jersey,
There is a typo in the written report that you referenced. The actual expenses were $255,369.50, not $265,369 as stated in the written report. The bottom line loss of $4,372.88 is correct. Please see page 32 of the report and you will see the line by line detail. While we may disagree, I do believe that a loss of $4,372.88 is considerably better than the prior AAC which left the church in debt over $150,000 and was ultimately repaid with some of the funds from the Honesdale Bank loan.
As to my remarks about the $50 per head assessment for a legal defense fund, yes I stated this in my report. Obviously the current administration is not covering up opinions, good, bad or indifferent. Am I concerned about the ongoing legal fees? The answer is "yes." Like you, I am one person with an opinion. I expressed my opinion in my report to the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council. I can assure you that I don't have any more of an idea what the actual legal expenses will be going forward than anyone else but I do think it would be prudent to discuss the idea of a legal defense fund.
Incidentally, a financial report for the first four months of 2009 will be issued shortly.
Fr. Michael Tassos
#27 Fr. Michael Tassos on 2009-06-08 09:58
DEar Father Tassos,
I am extremely impressed that a financial report for January-March 2009 will be issued as early as June 2009. This is really fast work; please accept my congratulations.
In Christ, Carl
#28 Carl on 2009-06-08 12:22
You are SO right!!
#29 Steve on 2009-06-08 13:33
WIlliam, the compassionate....
#30 Antionymous on 2009-06-08 14:27
Go to Church young man, say your prayers, stand up for truth. rest in God's grace.
A true recipe for happiness....
#31 Antionymous on 2009-06-08 14:29
The Spirit comes only with repentance and humility. In the absence of true repentance and humility what emerges is a prelest fest.
Calling for patience is never a bad idea. It's never a bad idea to call for repentance.
But it was not "patience" that was most frequently called for on theantiochian.com... but "obedience"...for non-monastic laypeople. The fact that the Canons were of concern to some sincere informed laypeople mattered less than "obedience." In fact, there was little patience shown towards such sincere laypeople. The prelest of pseudo-peace with whatever "God wills" was favored even if the circumstances did not demonstrate a sense of obedience to or concern for the Canons of the church. Amid this one could find the sin, that is right, the sin of flatterery now considered a sign of grace, taken to the extremes of idolatry. And of course, the prelest of sham holy outrage shown towards those who simply questioned... they did not question the Canons of the Church
This "mess" was not created by non-monastic laypeople who "disobeyed."
#32 Steve on 2009-06-08 15:11
The post on TheAntiochian.com regarding writing an icon of Met. Philip was a joke! Satire and Sarcasm. How do I know? I wrote it. Ease you minds my friends!
#33 ICONOGRAPHER on 2009-06-08 16:22
Carl has some insight into Byzantine behavior. It is not what is in writing that matters as much as how it is implemented.
Westerners look to written agreements. Byzantines love flowery language and flattery. What you do afterwards does not seem to matter as much.
Just look at the clergy who were the architects of this fiasco! They have never followed MP's directives, but they flatter him ceaselessly and lavish him with endless praise and adulation.
If they meant one word of it they would also do what he asks of them. Did not Christ say something to that effect, i.e., "If you love me you will keep my commandments."
Let us see how MP now tries to wiggle out of this mess. He chastized the Chancellors and threw out the Constitution. He did the same when he made this back door bargain.
He advocated we are a hierarchical Church and follow the Holy Scripture and the Canons. (When he gained respect for the Canons, I will never know).
MP stated the Holy Synod is the highest authority in theChurch of Antioch. Will he now obey or take bribes and even threaten to break away?
He has placed himself in a very small place. Let us see if he, like Harry Houdini is truly an escape artists or will he finally fall by his own doings.
Perhaps it is time for a complete audit to see exactly who is on the payroll in the old country.
#34 anonymous on 2009-06-08 16:58
Yes, about 25% left St. Anthony's - parish of Fr. Joe (Twice Married) Allen. But in time replaced by new families according to my Aunt, a former member who left. The 50th Anniv last year lauded Fr. Allen's "40th" more than their anniversary. All orchestrated by the Metropolitan who planned the Spring Arc'd meeting with the observance. Those who remain simply state, "The Metropolitan and even the Patriarch allowedit! How naive are the "followers". The same with all from Englewood for a very long time.
#35 Anonymous on 2009-06-08 18:33
We have had a KIng in Englewood for many, many years! Ever since the AEOM entered (who are so silent after being assailed over the Allen mess) it has all become so very "much" for the Metropolitan. To share responsbility with the Bishops he could not tolerate. Those who have worked with him know well of his domineering spirit, cached in a charisma smile and "rewards" for his faithful. He is responsible for our mess in N. America and unfortunately the Church Convention will be fully orchestrated by him, as usual. Long overdue to retire says my parish Priest and many in our region agree.
#36 Anonymous on 2009-06-08 23:52
BTW, idolatry does not only apply to making "an icon of Met. Philip" but what inspired such satire.
Sadly the many calls for "obedience" and a few references to possible excommunication were NOT satire.
The fact that the Admin did not block the most exagerrated satire or criticize it is revealing. Such satire passes for acceptable here and there...
#37 Steve on 2009-06-09 04:27
When you think about it, you have a website that states it is not affiliated with the official website that is clearly doing damage control for the official website, Metropolitan Philip and the Holy Synod...and yes, there to give you the truth, official statements, make announcements regarding the next official statement (since to consider anything else would be speculation or even disobedient or even ungrateful).
In the process, posts which are more or less satirical and some unintentionally satirical are allowed...there are also high-level informed questions thrown in the mix amid chastisements from the Admin...
#38 Steve on 2009-06-09 06:06
I am afraid that I will set off a round of "Canon-ades" by saying this, but I question the approach to Canons that seems implicit in some of your messages.
Let me analogize to the days of the Protestant Reformation, when the yeoman farmer became literate reading his family Bible. At least three or four sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken assumptions accompanied this pious reading and theologizing by the modestly educated common man and woman:
1. the Holy Spirit inspired every word,
2. every word is meant to apply to me/us today
3. literal application of the "plain meaning" of the text,
4. if the bishops don't seem to be doing this, then Protest.
I get more than a whiff of that set of ideas from some of the current posters on this subject. I do not doubt that you yourself are both educated and intelligent in one or more fields of modern knowledge. It shows in your writing.
But I respectfully question whether you are educated in the highly specialized and by no means self-evident field of Orthodox canon law or its application today. I believe it requires a great deal of individual and collegial work to understand the history of the Church, the development and state of the societies in which the conventions were called, and the ways in which the canons they decreed were interpreted and applied by the Church in (and after) the times in which they were written.
My own ignorance of the ancient Mediterranean World, to say nothing of the Byzantine Empire, is vast. Although I have 22 years of reading and thought since ordination, many Orthodox seminars and visits to monasteries, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in Bible, divinity and law, I wouldn't dare pretend that I can take up the Rudder and toss out strong opinions, let alone pronouncements, about how the canons determine what MUST be done today.
The Patriarch, the Holy Synod, Met. Philip and the bishops of our North American Church are presented with a terribly difficult problem. Coming closer to the end of an era in which the Antiochian Church in NA has enjoyed the unusually long, unified, peaceful, well-organized and prosperous reign of His Eminence, what is the right way in light of the past, the present and the foreseeable future to share power in a country with one government (apologies to all Canadians), one media culture, one official language (apologies to all French Canadians), where there are so many very powerful Protestantizing presuppositions, and so many incentives to fragment into (or remain in) separate ecclesial enclaves of ethnic, ideological, or personality-centered identity?
They will earn their "axios" a hundred-fold if they are able to steer the ship through those waters, rocks and reefs with no serious damage below the water line. The best hearts and minds of the past, especially in the Western churches perhaps but also in the East, have often failed at that task as the myriad of denominations eloquently attests. Our leaders and we followers must try to lay aside personal pride and the temptation to resort to simplistic and formulaic pronouncements like "Metropolitan Philip must have all power" or "Each bishop must have complete independence."
Now the original purpose of this site and rationale for its existence, ("OCA leaders seem to be mishandling money and power and we had better get to the bottom of it") proved to be a problem pretty amenable to beneficial action here. It does not take a lot of sophistication or knowledge of the arcane past to decide if money is being misused, good accounting rules aren't being followed, or lies are being told.
This situation is far different, and far less susceptible to resolution by reference to sound-bite analysis. (as in Achbp Job's 'Are the allegations true or false?') The complexities of different personalities, at least two very different cultures (the Middle East and North America) and sets of assumptions (in NA we assume the law must be superior to the office holder, while in the ME I think the assumption is quite different) and the effect of having a large convert bloc among clergy and laity with some residual Protestant presuppositions, etc., etc. are not so simply understood and worked out on the internet.
How DO we recognize the great achievements and wisdom of Met. Philip without turning him into something no man can or should be? How does the Church balance that with the need for the other bishops to have the respect and clout necessary to deal with people like you and me when we get too full of ourselves? How do we recognize the past, look honestly at the present, and provide wisely for the future?
I don't presume to know. I do presume to say, however, that it will NOT be done by anonymous internet Revolutionary War sloganeering (that equates the Patriarch with King George, the most testosterone-crazed anonymous posters here with Tom Paine or Paul Revere, and godliness with tipping Arabic coffee into the Hudson River) or overlooking the cultural differences and pretending that both Old Country ideas and New World Protestant presuppositions don't exist or need to be strongly questioned and dealt with.
Power-sharing is a problem that moribund churches don't have to wrestle with much. Dynamic churches do, and especially so when wise, advance provision needs to be made for an unpredictable event that I personally hope is not just around the corner - stable transition to Met. Philip's successor. God will provide, but as history amply demonstrates, man can and often does screw that up.
Back to the canons, which set off this answering shot. I think it is OK, and even necessary, for "the people" to participate in the debate. But with a whole lot more humility, caution and self-restraint about canons and other matters than is shown by some of the simplistic and anonymous axe-grinders we read from BOTH seeming "sides" of the issue. If we are in Christ there is only one side, and many of us ought to be far more cautious in light of history about our own potential for spoiling that unity right here, right now. One way of spoiling the debate and our own attitudes is to have a simplistic set of assumptions about the verbal inspiration of the canons by the Holy Spirit (the canons are NOT part of the Canon), their susceptibility to verbatim application today, or the capacity of normally educated people to discern how they might apply.
#39 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-06-09 08:20
Thank you for answering me so quickly. I commend you for bringing up many thorny issues in your report. It was interesting reading and I hope everyone has a chance to read it. We have questions about certain spending but the answers are not your responsibility. You are doing a good job and being straight forward with your reporting. However, I do have another question that is troubling me that you can answer. Can you confirm that the yearly census figures that you receive from the individual dioceses are used as the basis for determining assessments for each diocese. Can you tell me the census figure and the percentage of the assessment for the Washington-New Jersey diocese. Again, thank you for your prompt reply and keep up the good work.
#40 Wondering in NJ on 2009-06-09 08:51
I really appreciate your calm reasoned approach here.
I suspect some are only happy if they take up their (metaphorical) staffs and battle to the death in the streets, much like the battling monks in Egypt during the 4-7th centuries....
BTW, I neglected to mention the tactic allowed on theantiochian.com... allow someone to make a slanderous statement about one of the Bishops (Bishop Mark)... and then the Admin sham-reacts (because of "no proof") and THEN bans that person...for breaking the rules of the website.
Other remarks, like one of my own, not slanderous, getted banned outright without mention, without calling attention to them...and towards others, taken off completely.
Again, the remark made by Metroplitan Philip about no wrongdoing on the part of the Bishops...let someone else do the dirty work while feigning concern for the name of the Bishops...no need to go back to that one...
Frankly, whatever is decided how could the AOCA not comment on this website nor assume true leadership at this time?
#42 Steve on 2009-06-09 15:21
Say what you wish about the pope and papal theology, but if MP were under Rome, he'd have HAD to submit his resignation at 75 and would have been replaced by now! At 77 it's high time. I for one...won't be happy with any other move by Damascus!
Wishing and hoping for a final solution to all this for the growth of the Archdiocese and the other dioceses...and praying that the Lord will give MP a quick retirement and time for repentance!
In His Holy Name,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#43 Fr. Pius on 2009-06-09 16:18
Father, Thank you for your response. But I must say you set up a bit of a paper tiger with your reference to Protestantism and somewhat of an ironic paper tiger.
First, there is no need to equate the reaction people had, for example, with the Father Allen matter, to simply a concern for the Canons as a Protestant might read the Bible. Even without knowlege or concern for the Canons, reasonable Christian people might have very well objected. I do not think I need to review the details of that matter (nor even address the Canons) as to why 25% of a parish might walk out...this would not be Protestantism...or fundamentalism...Actually, it's arguable that the ACCEPTANCE of such a decision might depend more on a fundamentalist sense of "obedience" and depend on a sense of manipulating ex-Protestant guilt.
And the same applies now.
Put simply, I think you are right. There are few Orthdox Canon lawyers posting. With regard to the current situation, let's even put the Canons aside if you will. What could still be left is people asking, what's going on here? And I will go beyond agreeing with you, even lay aside the Canons. Reasonable Christian people could very well ask, What's going on here? Regarding the Feb.24 decision and the pattern of leadership in the AOCA.
Your reference to the OCA troubles is stated calmly and if I may summarize as something more pedestrian by comparison to the "complexities" of the Feb 24 decision. Any person uneducated in the Canon knows stealing is wrong if they know the 10 Commandments.
But is the February 24 decision really that complicated? And all that has followed? Yes, you have convinced me it need not be perceived that way...that it should be brought down to the pedestrian level of being given the run around (no need to refer to Canon Law)...and many not liking it...being told to like it, and then to continue to hand over money.
Why refer to the complexities and the subtleties of the application of Canon Law (which de facto precludes most laypeople and even clergy), make the assertion of Protestantism and fundamentalism in the mentality of too quick to react (and I WILL agree with you that too many converts especially go crazy about the Canons) when in the end what's will happen is what will happen in the AOCA.
I have never been Protestant, BTW. One Protestant notion that I think Orthdox Christians in North America need to reconsider ASAP is the notion of tithing. In general, the Protestant reading of Scripture does not correctly interpret the Old Testament...and much in the Old Testament is clearly anthropomorphism and cultural law/strata that does not bear the full sense of a validity when seen properly with reference to the Fathers and of course Christ in the New Testament.
Why be almost fundamentalists with respect to tithing when it's bad to be Protestant with the Canons?
I am liberal enough about Scripture to make that 10% be time, money... and helping strangers...not necessarily Archdiocesan Funds.
Frankly, Father, I find it unfortunate that you refer to Protestantism since that supports my conclusion that a fair amount of playing with ex-Protestant guilt goes on in the AOCA, and that because Orthodox are not fundametalists, anything goes.
#44 Steve on 2009-06-09 17:05
I see a straw man here. I really don't think Steve is using the canons the way you suggest. Have you read his postings at The Antiochian, or the others treating this issue? Carl has posted some, as have I, and there are no good answers forthcoming.
To suggest that this is because the matter requires the Orthodox equivalent of Mr. Spock, whom our hierarchs thankfully have on retainer, seems a bit disconnected from reality. First of all, would you give me some examples of the masterful, erudite canonists you have in mind? Cast about the Archdiocese for names, and you are likely to come up with men who frequently speak and write of the canons to tell us how Old Testamental, outmoded, and frankly silly they are. No amount of expertise in this field, no matter how complex it is, can make that attitude Orthodox.
I love academia and careful study, but I will be the first to tell you that it takes an academic to assert that Shakespeare was a Marxist or that it's a good idea for you to marry one of your parishioners.
Of course you are correct that it would be wrong for a naive young man, or a very stupid older one, to simply pick up the Rudder and start making proclamations. And there are certain sticky issues that require linguistic expertise, manuscript study, a surveying of local canons, etc, which cannot practically be undertaken by a nonspecialist layman. But I don't think all that is required to know that you don't need to stop seeing your Jewish doctor or having lunch with your Baptist heretic office-mate; or to know why.
There are a range of issues in between, and what constitutes an unlawful deposition is one of them, as is the requirement that a chief hierarch do nothing affecting his whole synod without the consent of all. If I see the sort of reflexive, Protestant-esque nonsense you condemn tossed around in treatments of canonical questions, I will certainly object; but so far I really have not.
#45 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-10 10:02
Also: "anonymous internet Revolutionary War sloganeering (that equates the Patriarch with King George, the most testosterone-crazed anonymous posters here with Tom Paine or Paul Revere, and godliness with tipping Arabic coffee into the Hudson River)"
You are right, and when such half-convert ignorant heretical Protestant freak birds appear, let us waste no time in shooting them down.
But that's pretty rare, so in the meantime let us edify ourselves with the words of Met. Philip to the Patriarch, no doubt as innocent and sincere as the rest of his letter, in the midst of their 2005 Constitution dispute:
Sayedna, the American people are consumed with democracy. When the Americans revolted against the British Crown in 1776, they wrote a constitution, which starts with these words: "We the people." [ http://tinyurl.com/ml2rvr ]
Subtle as ever. But at least he wasn't anonymous on the internet.
#46 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-10 10:24
Protestants are simply Roman Catholics without robes and liturgies. They share the same Augustinian triumphalism of philosophy and man-centered religion. Therefore, if one restores vestments and liturgies to the Protestants, without a thorough catechumenate, we have again a Roman Catholic people. Indeed, if asked, these "converts" will parrot papal answers about "automatic grace", sacraments (not Mysteries), etc. that reveal their complete ignorance of Orthodox Christianity and our fathers' teachings from the Apostles.
Like frogs in the warm-to-hot water, Orthodox here are being "latinized" per the Balamand agreement.
#47 anonymust on 2009-06-10 13:53
Fr Washburn’s comments (four dot-points) are both wholly-true and wholly-elliptical!
They are a “Protestant” approach.
They have their foundation in the first-century, Messianic Jewish Community – where the Messianic-Jewish “yeoman-farmer” was more educated and literate in things Biblical – and hence the “mind” (“nous”) of God, than the fourth-century monastic (let alone layman) in Constantinople debating the arcane points of Trinitarian Theology and Christology.
Q: How come?
A: The Jewish love for Torah-Study – a pre-eminent mitzvot, vs. the Byzantine love for illiteracy of the masses.
#48 John B on 2009-06-10 15:28
four months being, of course, January-February-March-April, making June a rather more acceptable month.
I think you are confused. There was no 'Byzantine love for the illiteracy of the masses'. The illiteracy of the masses was a phenomenon created by the Germanic barbarian 'nobility' in regions of the Empire they overran, and in the East by the Turkocratia that forced education of Christians underground. In either case, the Church, even the Latin church after its schism, was the institution that preserved and propogated literacy.
During the 'Byzantine' era, literacy was the norm. The monks and laymen debating theology in fourth century Constantinople were, for the most part, not only literate and conversant in the Scriptures but classically educated. Even those who were illiterate were fully conversant with the content of the Scriptures, as in societies with fewer props for memory, the ability to easily memorize from hearing was commonly well-developed.
#50 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-11 07:10
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