Wednesday, June 10. 2009
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I have it from an impeccable inside source that Metropolitan Philip is going to attempt to negotiate a settlement with the patriarchate. He is going to demand, at the minimum, that Bishop Mark be removed from Toledo and the Mid-West, in that this whole debacle was motivated in great part by Met. Philip’s desire to move bishops, Bp. Mark in particular.
I believe that if such were to occur Bp. Mark would be on solid ground to appeal to the Holy Synod in that such a forced move is against the Sacred Canons, in as much as it would be against his will and not as the result of any moral or dogmatic infraction. Additionally, such a spontaneous decision would deprive him of due process to have charges levied against him and given the right to appear before the Holy Synod to defend himself against such an unwarranted action.
If such an act were to be perpetuated against Bp. Mark, surely there would be great disgruntlement among the majority of the clergy and laity in the Mid-West, who have come to love, respect and become attached to their diocesan bishop. Furthermore, in such a scenario, there would certainly be great indignation and rebellion among many of the converts to Orthodoxy throughout the archdiocese. Without doubt the fallout will be much greater than the Holy Synod can imagine.
Hopefully, the Patriarch and the majority of the Holy Synod will not be misled into making such a deal.
#1 Anonymous on 2009-06-11 05:43
This is all bunk! This is the direct result of "old country" vs "America." None of this would have happened if the AOCA were truly independent of the old country. + Philip has and is using the wedge for his own purpose. It stinks.
Again, the Trustees and people of the AOCA must move to total independence from foreign bishops.
#2 Anonymous on 2009-06-11 06:08
The grounds you outline for +Mark to appeal a forced move only apply if he is a diocesan Bishop. If he is an auxiliary to Met. Philip, Philip can do whatever he wants with him. Hence the question of auxiliary vs. diocesan status of our Bishops is paramout, even if +Antoun doesn't understand the difference.
Agree 100% about the outcome if +Mark is forced out of the Midwest.
#3 JPS on 2009-06-11 06:21
It appears as though the auxiliary bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese have been swept into Damascus and swooned to the point that they are now willing to accept ANY decision that the Antiochian Patriarchate chooses, even if it is not canonical. And after reading and listening to much of what the returning bishops have stated so far, I find it very distasteful that they find it necessary to keep their conversations or discussions with the Patriarch "confidential". As if they are some ruling class with the privy to know and the rest of the non-ordained are just the little people waiting to receive orders. Bishops are not our Lords to Lord over us. They are our masters only in that they are our slaves as well. They are to rule "over us" by first serving us. To viciously defend the faith but with Love not coercion.
My initial perception of what is unfolding here may be wrong, I guess time will tell. But the last thing American Orthodoxy needs right now is a sizeable fraction of its (American)people "rediscovering its childhood" to another Old World church when we ALL should be building an AMERICAN Orthodox Church HERE. One that is infused with the life blood, ritual and beauty and preserved faith of all of the old world churches combined, mixed with some of our own culture. Whether the Antiochian or Russian or Constantinopolitan patriarchates cares for us is important...yes. But the old world patriarchates should care for us inasmuch as they want the Orthodox Catholic church to establish itself here as an AMERICAN church. Born of ALL the old world churches and made ONE here in America. A blending of all the ethnic expressions here in America forming "new whole" so that the good news in its fullest form (Orthodoxy) can be spread here.
#4 Scott Yonkin on 2009-06-11 08:04
If what you have heard is true, it will be a sad day in the mid-west when rude, arrogant priests are able to rid our region of a pious and kind Bishop who brought energy and hope beyond ethnic fairs and dances to focus on spiritual matters. To think that the archdiocese has undergone all this turmoil and unease because +MP and a few priests disliked Bishop Mark is unbelievable. I do hope that other priests in the mid-west will speak out in defense of him because he does not deserve the kind of treatment he has received from some of the clergy.
#5 anon on 2009-06-11 08:23
I agree with what you have said about how the majority of the clergy and laity in the Mid-West feel about Bishop Mark.
I have the same concerns as you regarding the fallout if Bishop Mark in reloated. I pay he stays in the Mid-West.
#6 Guy from Toledo on 2009-06-11 09:25
This makes sense, if "sense" can be applied to any of this.
The whole "who was in the room" with the Patriarch and what was said when everyone was in the room and Bishop Antoun being suprised by a scheduled meeting...and yes, private meetings...and yes, Metropolitan Philip wasn't there for any of this...not even on speaker phone...
let me take out my check book or send in cash anonymously in an envelope.
#7 Steve on 2009-06-11 10:27
Must be a mind reader. Can't add anything, but to say, Can you believe Met Philip would not attend Synod (July 16) completely prepared with his old position.....?
Pray for the Synod!
#8 Anonymous (SE Region/Diocese?) on 2009-06-11 10:43
And this is where the Father Allen mentality comes back to haunt the AOCA...you're a priest, now you're not a priest, now you're a priest...
You're a diocesan bishop now you're an auxiliary bishop...because as an auxiliary bishop you have no recourse...
Please, from this point onward, layman or clergy, please do not tell me about a "legalistic approach" or a "Protestant" approach (that never worked on me because I've never been a Protestant) when the AOCA has a supremely legalistic approach to the Canons that has NOTHING to do with economia! It verges on word magic.
#9 Steve on 2009-06-11 10:58
I agree 100% with Scott. Somehow, we've allowed the Antiochian powers to "change the subject,", and everyone is waiting on a distant Holy Synod to save the Archdiocese's autonomy. By definition, that's not autonomous.
I would also reinforce others' views that having 3-4 bishops' separate accounts of what happened is unseemly. It is very clear that Bishop Antoun's "Reflection" is not a reflection at all, but a Refutation of accounts by Bishops Mark and Basil.
I also find it embarassing to read the constant assurances by one and all that the Patriarch is, or even needs to be, in touch with the Archdiocese. Prior to this controversy, no one really cared whether he was in touch. Rather, it was assumed that he didn't need to be.
#10 Steve Knowlton on 2009-06-11 11:51
Responding to a couple of the comments...
First of all, please be patient with our bishops. Bishops Basil, Mark, and Alexander in particular have stood firm in defense of Orthodox ecclesiology against those, like Met Philip, who would distort it. Let's assume that they have continued to maintain their principles. There is no reason for us to think otherwise.
It sure sounds like Bishop Basil -- an unswerving advocate of Orthodox ecclesiology -- had a very, very good encounter with the Patriarch. But, as he said, the Patriarch can't just unilaterally make a decision. He has to consult with the Holy Synod and act in a conciliar manner. It would be foolish for our bishops to alienate the Patriarch and the Holy Synod by pre-empting the Synod meeting next week with tell-all stories. Instead, they are wisely sharing only a little for the moment, but even the little they have told speaks volumes. They are the ones who stood up to Met Philip, and they have come back from Damascus in high spirits. That sure sounds to me like they heard something good.
Another thing I really would like people to stop pushing is this antangonism towards "foreign bishops." The OCA is independent of foreign bishops, but it has just as many problems as the rest of our jurisdictions -- power-hungry bishops, corruption, greed, lack of transparency. We are beginning to see some progress, but it has taken many years.
Foreign bishops aren't our problem. We've had them since Orthodoxy in America began. The problem is egotism, lust for power, greed, and moral flexibility. The Antiochian Archdiocese doesn't need "independence from foreign bishops"; it needs a new Metropolitan and, as Fr. Daniel Griffith says, better communication with Antioch.
#11 Ferris Haddad on 2009-06-11 11:55
You are mistaken in that Bp Antoun and MP both are fighting the Holy Synod possibly reversing a decision "they had nothing to do with."
Who are we kidding? The problem is not Damascus, the Patriarch or the Holy Synod (so far), it is MP, the inner circle, i.e., Joseph Antypas, Anthony Gabriel, George Shalhoub and Constantine Nasr and their lust for power. These priests have labored tirelessly to discredit Bishop Basil and to insure (in their minds) that Bp Joseph was the only candidate to succeed MP.
MP deceived the members of the Holy Synod telling them the self-rule was not working. (Read the time line). He has a lengthy history of telling the Holy Synod one thing and the Archdiocesan faithful another.
Judge Judy would have tossed him out three months ago. She would make short work of this whole mess.
MP used the Holy Synod to do his dirty work and it backfired.
Where could we turn for aid?
He split and intimidated half the Local Synod.
He has cowed the Board of Trustees.
He has openly chastized the Chancellors.
He has certain metropolitans in his pocket or who owe him "favors".
I can hear the words from The God-Father in my ears, "Do me this small favor."
This was a mess orchestrated by MP...
We need our Father-In-Christ, Patriarch Ignatius IV to intervene on our behalf.
We will not be ready for self-rule until we have real leaders.
Thank God for the three Bishops, who showed themselves as real Bishops.
Thank God for the few Board of Trustees who openly opposed MP at the recent meeting, especially Elaine Heider.
Thank God for men like Bob Koory who was willing to speak the truth and face the consequences (so far the only one, I can think of who has faced consequences, give him a call and thank him).
Thank God for men like Patriarch Ignatius the the godly men of our Holy Synod who will do the right thing for the right reasons.
#12 anon and anon on 2009-06-11 13:01
Scott, it says in the book of Proverbs,
"Like apples of Gold in settings of silver is a word fitly (timely)spoken."
There is a vast difference between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. (also from the Book of Proverbs, by the way).
As a WWII veteran would say, "Loose lips sinks ships."
#13 anon and anon on 2009-06-11 13:06
Ironically, MP would never tolerate the disrespect and disobedience Bp Mark has been subjected to by these pan-handlers.
#14 anonimously again on 2009-06-11 13:10
Not just Bp Mark, Bp Basil and Bp Alexander have also been under attack from these hoodlums.
MP is simply jealous that the clergy and laity have bonded with their Bishops. How truly sad.
Envy and jealousy, was this not why Peter and Paul were betrayed by Christian brethren? (Clement of Rome)
#15 anonymous on 2009-06-11 13:15
How many times have we read we need an American Orthodox Church ?Many would have it but "Crowns" will oppose it, if not openly, by their words and continous neglect! Father Griffith should remember that our Patriarch was here last Oct. picking up the 2.7 Million dollars for his "dream" Balamond school. Could he have spent a few days more visiting, No! And when invited by Met. P. to attend Conventions - has he come? Probably because they "do not relate", as many have long believed. A Patriarch who probably has more faithful here than most all in the Middle East should visit at every Convention (every other year) to see the "people he loves!" No. America will always be "need ed when needede!" ? Three Metropolitans have stated to visitors that No. America must ALWAYS be aligned with the Mother Church! What were those blogs about England ?
#16 Anonymous on 2009-06-11 13:46
Sources tell me that His Emminence, +MP will NOT be attending the Holy Synod meeting as he is quite ill.....
(Antichian.org has just confirmed he will not be attending.)
#17 Antionymous on 2009-06-11 15:11
Trust +MB and +MM. You have my anonymous guarantee that you can do so.....
#18 Antionymous on 2009-06-11 15:13
This is hardly signiciant, but in his reflection, Bishop Antoun refers to his brother bishops collectively as "Their Graces." I always thought the point of this stylization was that "His Grace" referred to the grace of God, i.e., that a bishop was significant not by his own deeds or talent, but by God and His Grace alone. Bp. Antoun seems to disregard.
The use of "Their Graces" invokes the image that bishops are royalty, ruling elites who in this case, are ruled not by God, but by a higher power - "His Own Grace," the Patriarch.
Maybe Bp. Antoun's slip reveals his views on the episcopacy, or at least his ambivalence about this whole situation...
#19 Anonymous on 2009-06-11 16:41
I wonder if I can gently push back on your comments that seem summarily opposed to confidentiality within private meetings of the clergy. Confidentiality is a key aspect of ministry, and one that we as lay people enjoy when it comes to pastoral counseling and spiritual direction, and also in times where our pastors must deal with sensitive issues that could be very destructive out in the open.
I understand that there has been some very concerning abuses related to secrecy and intrigue within some of our Orthodox hierarchies recently, and I am generally in agreement with a call for greater transparency and openness between clergy and laity. However, the fact remains that the clergy do have a special role in governing the Church - one that they have been called to, ordained and consecrated to, and are now responsible for. We must be willing to avoid the kind of deep pessimism that no longer allows us to accept governance at all unless we are in the loop on every step (and at every stage of very sensitive and difficult meetings on the highest ecclesiastical levels).
I'm all for a relative transparency, especially as a corrective to rampant corruption when it exists. But demanding absolute transparency in the Church during such sensitive times just because we think we have a "constant right to know" seems to me to be a bit too much. No leadership structure works that way, in any institution, even in the "Twitter" generation.
#20 Jackson Downs on 2009-06-11 16:45
Anytime that decisions are made by other than direct democracy, there are process-politics that entail confidential communication with and among members of the decision-making body.
The Patriarch might want to ask Met. Philip questions about topics discussed in the meeting for which the metropolitan has not already prepared pat answers. He may feel that more honest answers will be forthcoming if his degree of knowledge of American matters is an unknown quantity. He might have discussed negotiating positions and fallbacks that he does not wish conveyed to Englewood. It is nearly certain that specific sensitive pastoral situations in America were discussed. Confidentiality makes good sense in all these contexts.
Moreover, the bishops might not want to apprise Met. Philip of what they themselves said. On the one hand, their status vis-à-vis his authority is not clear; and on the other these private conversations give them a rare advantage over him.
I would like to know what was said, too, but knowledge is power for those who can use it, and this knowledge would certainly be used by Met. Philip to achieve his ends.
Finally, as a general matter:
" Bishops are not our Lords to Lord over us. They are our masters only in that they are our slaves as well. They are to rule "over us" by first serving us. To viciously defend the faith but with Love not coercion. "
Among the promises a bishop makes at ordination is that he will not shirk from his duties "from fear of the people." That is to say, their servitude is for the purpose of our salvation and may entail actions contrary to our desires.
Further, while bishops must defend the faith in love, the service of Consecration describes the pastoral staff as being given both for the comfort and support of the faithful and for the discipline of the erring. Sometimes — rarely — even a good bishop may have to use coercion as an appropriate tool for the job, this being amply demonstrated by the existence of excommunication and defrocking.
In short, the fact that some bishops seem to have taken their definition of "overseer" from a Southern slave plantation shouldn't provoke us to reduce the office to impotence.
#21 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-11 17:26
Scott Yonkin..Bravo! What an opportunity is being presented Orthodoxy in America should the Diocesans not succcumb to flatteries, promises or just the age old treat me nice and I'm allright despite the assault on the Faith and canons.
The door has been opened by Metropolitan Philip. This recent trouble could be a God send. We need a real transparent look see at all the inner workings of our Archdioce including a responsible audit of our fianaces. I hope they are not only looking for a bone or two from the Patriarchs table but a true Autonomous expression of Holy Orthodoxy here in America that rejects all the corrupting influences that have so long afflicted us.
It's time, seize the moment!
#22 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-06-11 19:18
Self Rule would have worked fine in some respects. The main problem, here, is that Philip can appeal via backroom deals. Foreign bishops in themselves are only the problem to the extent that they readily allow themselves to enter these situations. The situation never would have gotten so bad if Metropolitan Philip had been a man of better integrity in the first place. He united two factions of Syro-Arabs, yes, and I'm sure others have other reasons to love him, but from Joseph Allen to favoritism to this latest debacle, he has shown himself to be the center of the problems.
So, you have a point and I do agree that as a general rule, I would rather some a situation like the OCA. The OCA has been working through its mess without the added layer of a foreign synod, but the OCA still had problems as does the AOCANA. The problem is more than one of foreign bishops. What good does it do a man to have an American bishop but still have a narcissistic despot?
#23 Phileas on 2009-06-12 07:02
Anonymous and JPS,
I'll bet you're right on with your analysis but I think that there is more that needs to be discussed about the whole issue of Bp. Mark. Let's be honest, he was set up not to succeed. Historically his diocese was part of the original Toledo diocese. As someone who lived in the area for many years, the parishes of the Toledo diocese were: (1) extremely ethnocentric, (2) extremely Toledocentric, and (3) very unwilling to change the way they have done things for many years. I know I'm casting with a broad brush but in my experience this is exactly what Bp. Mark inherited. Hmmm... is it any wonder that his predecessor had a drinking problem and found his was to a casino. Let's face it, they're a tough crowd. I'm not him, but I can imagine that trying to run Bp. Mark's diocese has to be one of the toughest jobs, especially when you're not an Arab bishop.
So what do you do and what does Bp. Mark do? Bp. Mark is no Bp. Nikolai (formerly of Alaska) but it seems that we, Orthodox Christians in America, need to have better mechanisms for removing bishops for reasons beyond just heresy or outright crimes. Bp. Nikolai was and is a jerk. He was rude, condescending, mean-spirited and cold-hearted. As I understand the canons of the Church, none of these is really grounds for removing a bishop. But try to act like this in a fortune 500 company and see how long it will last before you're dragged into the Human Resources office. In contrast, Bp. Mark is kind-hearted, loving, meek and basically a gentle soul. These are great qualities but they may not be all of the qualities that are necessary to lead a diocese as stubborn and recalcitrant as the former Toledo diocese. So he suffers and the diocese suffers. And unfortunately, we have no mechanism for dealing with a situation like this either. Is he basically stuck there for the rest of his life? Companies changes CEOs all the time. ( Please, no one get on the proverbial bandwagon that the church is not a corporation. Of course it's not but sometimes it doesn't hurt to take a lesson or two from the reality around us). Just something to think about.
#24 Anon. Antiochian on 2009-06-12 08:11
So now, according to the website of the Archdiocese, Metropolitan Philip is NOT going to Damascus, allegedly because of illness. Bishop Joseph is to act as his representative since he was already in the neighborhood. More indications of +Philip's attempts to influence the Archdiocese from the grave? Priests and hierarchs would do well to communicate quickly their concerns about the "Self Ruled Antiochian Diocese of North America." If they don't, the younger ones had best start a sslf funded retirement program of their own, and the OCA parishes should start looking to expand. Perhaps +Philip should lead by example and submit to the EP.
#25 legion on 2009-06-12 11:14
I was altogether inspired and encouraged by Fr. Daniel Griffith's "Personal Reflections of Unity Within the Church of Antioch". Even so, there seems to me good cause for further reflection on his observation that "... there is something vital which we in North America lack: rootedness ... This rootedness in the faith and even in the soil itself we do not have. If we are to regain a sense of this very important aspect our faith, then we need to reconnect with our Mother-Church."
Surely the Church, according to her deepest identity, is rooted, not in any earthly locality, but in the Kingdom of Heaven, of which, indeed, she is the threshold. Even so, it may and should be affirmed that, according to her temporal mission -- the "economy" of her life in this world -- the Church is also to be "rooted" in her earthly settings in such a way as to bring her saving work to bear on the various local histories and cultures in which she finds herself.
So, considering further Fr. Daniel's point that "This rootedness in the faith and even the soil itself we do not have", I'd propose caution as to a comparative evaluation of the faith of us North American Orthodox since, after all, the true rooting of that faith is not in any earthly region, not even in the lands of our Mother Churches, but in the Kingdom of God. As to our having no historical and cultural "rootedness" in -- that is, no authentic engagement of -- the North American locality in which we find ourselves, that observation surely is true. But indeed, that would be because we, in all our scandalously multiple jurisdictions, persist in finding that temporal dimension of our rootedness, not in our earthly home on this North American continent where God surely calls us to bear the light of his saving faith -- but, instead, precisely in a deference to our Mother Churches whose inevitably diverse (and therefore effectively dividing) solicitudes arise from their own local lives and missions which, after all, are so strikingly different from our own.
#26 Tod Mixson on 2009-06-12 12:09
Ferris you hit the nail on the head.
This was never a Arab Vs Convert issue, it was a mindset issue. Certain priests in MP's latter years have assissted him him in regressing to his childhood frame of reference.
They want the churches to be only emigrant, not even second and third generation.
Better contact with His Beatitude and the Holy Synod would facilitate us knowing the other's concerns better.
When we pray for captives, do we pray only for captives in America, or around the world?
When we pray for the sick and the suffering, are we praying only for americans? No. We pray all those around the world.
Let us acknowledge that MP has been misrepresenting the Holy Synod and His Beatitude for many years. I have come to the realizations over the past years that the Patriarch was not the enemy at all, it was MP and the Balamand Glee Club.
How many opportunities have we missed out on for His Beatitude and the Metropolitans of the Holy Synod to be with US because of misrepresentation?
MP controls where visiting Metropolitans visit in this Country. Ever notice where they go? The most ethnic of the parishes.
We need for the visiting Metropolitans to see who we really are by experiencing the diversity of parish life in North America.
We would gladly welcome His Beatitude to do the same to see the Spiriual Harvest that hastaken place in North America.
This is a Harvest that could be ruined through a mis-step at this juncture!
#27 anon and anon on 2009-06-12 15:01
Anonymous, the number of Antiochians in America is minuscule compared to the numbers in the Middle East. Granted, the Church is suffering over there and losing a lot of people, but it's still far larger than our Archdiocese.
I think we should all do what Bp Basil is doing: be patient and pray that the Holy Spirit would guide the Holy Synod when it meets on June 16 (only four days from now). Once that meeting ends, we will have a much clearer idea of the situation we face here. If the Holy Synod stands up to Met Philip, then we can expect him to fight. If they uphold his view of things, then we will be the ones fighting. But let us wait and see, and hope.
#28 Ferris Haddad on 2009-06-12 15:14
Here's where I may blow everyone's mind after several posts and actually (somewhat) agree with you.
For me, the irony of "American Orthdoxy" especially when it attempts to define or represent itself simulatneously as "pan-Orthodox" is that it can be paradoxically even more more provincial, and suffer what in literature is termed a kind of "preciosity." With eclecticism not seen as a symptom/diasease but as a virtue, Western converts to Orthodoxy often do what Western converts to Buddhsim frequently do: attempt some sort of synthesis of frequently disparate elements.
People can talk the talk about how Orthodoxy developes organically, but the walk can be a sort of self-willed Mr. Potato Head designed, and that's the key word, designed to bring everyone in. What is oddly exempt from the whole phyletism accusation is American suburbanism, where better educated conference goers are seen to come in numbers, be the future, and "know even better" than a bunch of unlettered people from the old country.
What also gets sidestepped is time, time to aquire over years an Orthodox mindset, and instead the infusion of talk and books and dialogs... a perfect smokescreen or rather distraction while power grabs are made. Some times it's harder to fool the ignorant than those who think they are wise, or I should say, who think they are "insiders."
Power grabs and fast forward went hand in hand to get the AOCA to where it is now.
Americans are almost totally ignorant of is history. We prefer paradigms.
#29 Steve on 2009-06-12 15:28
Excellent post, Ferris. We are at the front end of a long process. This will work itself out in God's good time, not ours.
#30 Doug Smith on 2009-06-12 19:50
I'm with Ferris here.
Those of you weeping and wailing about "foreign bishops" just really don't have a good picture of what Orthodoxy is.
I don't CARE what my bishop's natiionality is. I don't care. What I care about is his fidelity to Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy.
I care about his love for his flock. I care about his integrity, his intelligence, and his piety.
Those of you calling for an "american" church with such anger and bitterness are just as bad as the middle-eastern ethnophiles. Is ethnic bias suddenly OK because it is "American"?
Those of you parsing the difference between "autonomy" and "self rule" please explain the difference to me? See, I thought it was from two greek roots auto- meaning self, and nomos- meaning rule or statute.
Syria has a population of 20 million people, approximately 10% of those are Christian. The bulk (say 50%) are orthodox. That comes to around 1 million. Are there 1 million Orthodox here? That doesn't even include the sizable number of people in Lebanon, Jordan, and other countries.
As to the regular accusations of Simony that are thrown around here.... Please just stop. It just makes you look angry and wrathful. And I honestly doubt it is true.
Metropolitan +Philip has clearly been playing both sides against the other. Honestly for the most part it's been a bunch of good things with some really bad.
The money that has gone over there has gone to good things. Balamand is not the center of all evils. They train clergy and doctors among other things. St. George's hospital is one of the few hospitals in Lebanon that treats people from any sectarian background. Balamand monastery and Saydnaya Convent, should they go too? Now, I agree that we need to bring the finances out into the light. But no matter what, even when that happy day comes when we have an autocephalous American Church, Antioch will still be our mother. Do we really begrudge Antioch some money?
+Philip messed up. Badly. HE probably thinks he's doing what's best for all. So let's get his ears pinned back. But lets not throw out the baby with the bath water.
Tod, I think up to a point your observations are valid.
But that rootedness that we lack is much more than historical identity. What we really lack is that connectedness that comes from our organic connection to those who have gone before.
"Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size." -John of Salisbury
You see, I learned the elements of the faith from books and a canny convert priest. But I learned true piety from a cypriot peasant woman who barely spoke english and Lebanese men and women who are immigrants.
We sometimes forget our greatest saints were simple men....
The issue is not Bp. Mark's temperament or approach. He has demonstrated a flexible approach -- he is indeed a gentle soul as you said and has only asked of the dissident Detroit crowd that they follow simple requirements that apply to everyone else. The issue is whether the dissidents will respect and obey their local bishop and whether the local bishop will be backed up by the Metropolitan in matters that the Metropolitan HIMSELF endorsed. What you correctly describe as the historical situation in the Midwest needs correction, not kowtowing. That's what Mark tried to do. The Philip-lovers that constantly chant "obey obey" with respect to Philip don't think obedience/respect needs to go any farther than that and feel they can rough up anyone else they don't agree with. The only way to not have had this situation occur in the Midwest would have been for Mark to continue to look the other way. Not the right approach.
#33 JPS on 2009-06-13 05:30
So Metropolitan Phillip is not going to the meeting of the Synod? He must know he is in trouble...I used to get the sane virus befor the SATs or Regents Exams when I was in prep school
#34 Stephen on 2009-06-13 06:42
Thank you, Jon Nials, for speaking my thoughts. I wish everyone would print out your message and tape it to his or her computer monitor. God bless.
#35 Peter on 2009-06-13 08:15
Here is reaching at straws but I am going to take the news of Met. Philip's mysterious virus as a positive development. His Grace has a history of not making it to meetings of the Holy Synod when it does not suit his agenda or purpose.
Perhaps because His Beatitude now has an even heightened and informed understanding of the mess inflicted by The Vicar of Christ in North America, Met. Philip is none to eager to explain himself?
Another positive sign is the insistence of The Antiochian.com that the first order of buisness for the Holy Synod is their emphatically upholding the Feb. 24th decree.
The suppossed inside sources they claim to have in Damascus thus far have been anything but reliable. In fact they almost sound as if a certain personal Auxiliary with an office in Englewood has been their reference thus far.
So here we are plunged into a completely unneccessary crisis it would seem because The Servant of the servants of God couldn't adide their truly serving.
#36 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-06-13 08:21
No, this is quite wrong. "His Grace" is the ecclesiastical style whose secular equivalent is "His Excellency." It only exists in English, and its use is rooted in Anglican tradition. In other languages, such as Spanish and French, Bishops are referred to as "His Excellency" instead.
#37 Anonymous on 2009-06-13 08:59
Not necessary, I think — and perilous. To be able to remove a bishop for being a "bad fit," even if he does not assent to it, is a dangerous power. Indeed, this criterion is so necessarily vague that it amounts to rule by whim.
Any bishop whose removal is desired on the basis of him not being enough of a tough-guy, if asked by the rest of his brethren to step aside, probably will.
But what of bishops who are entreated by their synod and still won't step aside? If such people really are poor shepherds, they will probably have given cause for their deposition. Is there even one example to the contrary — a bishop who is innocent by the lights of the canons, yet such a problem-case as to bring on the censure of his synod?
+Nikolai, for example, did violate canons that could have been used, and still could be used, to depose him. Physically striking people is one, as is his tonsuring of a known sex-offender as a Reader. Further there are allegations of sexual immorality credible enough to have been included in an official report to the Synod.
In the midst of the crisis, +Nikolai could have been deposed at any moment. I suspect that the only reason the Holy Synod did not do this was that the Metropolitan, and perhaps others, were afraid that +Nikolai would in turn reveal their own transgressions.
And by the way: now that +Herman is out, and +Nikolai has furnished yet another grounds for his deposition by going to law against the Church, will the Holy Synod finally act — to execute judgement and righteousness, to honor the episcopal office, and to protect the faithful from this mad wolf in the robes of a shepherd?
If not, why not? In famous words — are the allegations true, or false?
(I do not claim, by the way, that the canons are all-sufficient. For example, might the civil law, as a practical matter — that is, either directly or from imposing liability — require a bishop to be removed from his position during the course of an investigation? As far as I know, such a case is not foreseen by the canons, but it could surely be addressed in a way not inconsistent with their spirit.)
#38 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-13 10:10
*The church does have mechanisms in place, however we did not set things up to allow our Bishops to ability to address the issues of their respective Diocese*.
Bp Mark has some of the toughest problems of the whole archdiocese. He could make short work of it if there were NO INTERFERENCE FROM NEW JERSEY.
The problem areas have only been validated from New Jersey and they have been enabled in order to undermine proper Order and Disciplinein the Church.
MP never really wanted Diocesan Bishops to outshine him. Sadly, because the faithful embraced their Local Bishops, loved and supported them, MP became jealous. Consequently he continually undermined them to make it LOOK LIKE THEY WERE INCOMPETENT AND INCAPABLE OF CARING FOR THEIR DIOCESES WITHOUT HIM.
Our Bishops being allowed to act fully and completely as Bishops will only make the Church stronger. Sometimes, however, even a doctor needs to remove cancer from the body. Recovery takes time.
Maybe we should give Orthodox Ecclesiology a chance. MP did not like the system because he wants more centralized power. Powr to discipline and punish those who disagree with him. Power to control.
May God bless and protect our Diocesan Bishops!
Mp's days are over. May he have a blesse retirement.
Since when has the Church removed Bishops for having heretical priests which he has been undermined in disciplining?
Since when has the Church removed a Bishop when he is given an office and deprived of the authority to execute that office?
Lord, have mercy. Give Orthodoxy a chance. Remove the cancer, not the physician.
#39 anon and anon on 2009-06-13 10:35
I think we are all in need of a reaity check.
MP has created the lenses through which we see the Holy Synod and Patriarch and how they see us. Not to mention how we think they see us.
Perhaps we need to consider MP has been the one deceiving us and them.
He has been the one misrepresenting us to them and them to us.
Perhaps it is time for us to get to know the Patriarch better and the Memember sof the Holy Synod.
When they visit they are always directed to the most ethnocentric parishes. It is really time for them to be introduced to the broader spectrum of Orthodoxy in North America.
It is also time for us to visit Syria and Lebanon to gain a better understanding of of brothers and sisters in Christ there.
As I remember from "All Quiet on the Western Front," we are discussing abstractions when we talk about people we have never met. Once we meet and talk, we find we have much more in common that one could imagine.
Let us pray for the Holy Synod and our Patriarch and beseach their God-pleaing prayers as well.
#40 anon and anon on 2009-06-13 10:44
Thank you Mark Stokoe for giving us the venue to examine the possibilities the future may hold for us.
This is viatallt important for decision making.
Perhaps if MP had openly discussed with the Diocesan Bishops his concerns or what he believed the problems to be he would not have found himself in such a precarious position.
This of course assumes he could be open and honest about what the issues were....
#41 anonymous on 2009-06-13 11:00
Archimandrite Daniel was for some years my priest. His reflection should not be read, it seems to me, as a call for administrative subordination of the American church to foreign bishops, but a call for the American church to follow the path he personally took in drawing spiritual strength from the Church in traditionally Orthodox lands.
Fr. Daniel was granted a canonical release by Met. Philip to serve the Church of Greece for a number of years. The connection with Holy Tradition as it is lived by a traditionally Orthodox people that he made in those years has made him a treasure to our Archdiocese and the Church in North America generally. It has been a joy and privilege to know him and deepen my faith and knowledge of the Faith through his insights.
He writes, moreover, from a parish in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America. Our diocese has, I think, pioneered what will become, should this sorry affair be in the end happily resolved in accord with the Holy Canons, the model for connection between the American Orthodox Church and the 'Mother Churches' as Fr. Daniel calls them: the Sister diocese program with the Archdiocese of Bosra-Haran (a Diocese so old that its bishop bears the title "the Angel of Haran", as the bishops to whom St. John the Theologian addressed the Apocalypse bore the title "Angel of Philadelphia" and the like).
I think the fear of "Old Country" hieararchs (and I do not know whether this really applied to Damascus, but it certainly seems to be a palpable fear in the Phanar) that American unity and autocephaly would cut off support for the ancient Patriarchates from their children in the New World is misguided. Americans are a generous people, and the Sister diocese program, I think. shows the way in which that generosity could and should naturally continue to connect the American Orthodox Church to the rootedness of the 'Mother Churches' (both the Ancient patriarchates, and the national churches of Greece and the Slavic lands) that Fr. Daniel rightly values. After all the program was established once the Archdiocese was Self-Ruled.
#42 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-13 15:09
So here we are plunged into a completely unneccessary crisis it would seem because The Servant of the servants of God couldn't adide their truly serving.
Yep. That's pretty much what always happens. The differences now are 1) the scope and 2) the possibility of establishing a means of negotiating such things on a large scale
I'm as curious as anyone to see what happens this week. No, curious is not the right word. I am anxious. I want to see the Synod do the right thing. I am frustrated the synod has to look at it at all. It ought to be simple: "oops, we goofed. Our bad. Forgive us!"
The Church of Corinth will always be with us.
#43 Phileas on 2009-06-13 18:10
In response to some who think I believe that there should never be a private communication among the hierarchy : That would be false. I was just trying to point out that ALL of us. Antiochians, ROCOR, OCA, Bulgarians, Romanians, Ukrainians converts, THOSE YET TO BE CONVERTED, have a stake in what is going on in Damascus. I believe that most of us in America, no matter our ethnic stripe, want an American church. But the gravitational pull from the old world centers keeps us apart. And Yes I know that there are many who have the church as their way of remaining in the country of their parents (but actually live here)....But those of us who see the Church as "the Church" and not an ethnic club need to be more vocal. And be seriously vocal about The Orthodox church taking an American form! Borrowing the beautiful from all Local Churches in the old world.
And The church is not going to protestantize if if becomes an American church either. I have heard this mentioned as a concern before and was another reason to delay, or postpone indefinitely American Orthodoxy. After all, converts aren't the ones who introduced pews or organs. The cradles did this. The converts who come to the Orthodox Church are not looking for protestantism. That's everywhere. We were and are looking for authentic Christianity. And The Orthodox Church is it. When protestants move into the aisles during Lent they aren't looking for a nice spot to set up a "praise band". We're going there to do prostrations. Something that many of the cradles haven't done in years because the pews get in the way. So us former protestants are not gonna make the church conform to the world. We LEFT that.
But back to the leaders of the Church. They destroy the Church's ACTUAL MISSION by keeping a place like America from birthing a local autocephalus church that is unified and able to preach to it's people. There are many Christians or even unchurched people here who STILL have NEVER heard of the Orthodox Church. And that is because for far too long people in our church were too busy being Russian, Arab, Greek, or Ukrainian. And don't get me worng.. I LOVE the traditions and music, and iconography of them ALL and think they all should contribute to the American Church. But we MUST become an American Church. There are many who yearn for more of Christianity than they have now. And many who won't be Christian because they think it contains no beauty...just harsh rules and business suits. We can change all of this if we become one and represent ourselves to this country with ONE VOICE proclaiming CHRIST and his church.
And lastly... I have great respect for the hierachy. I am well aware they guarded the faith against heresy and iconoclasm. But I am also aware that the Patriarch of Constantinople tried to make the Church Calvinist a few hundred years back. The difference between blind obedience and obedience to those who defend the true faith and the Church's mission is reflected by the fact that we are not now Calvinists nor Papists.
#44 Scott Yonkin on 2009-06-13 20:04
Huzzah to all you have said. We do not (pray God) need a Dictatorship at this juncture. We ALL must pray God will intercede and correct what has blinded +Phillip. Has he forgotten he is elected by the people (in escence) and should we not go back to Cannon Law to correct this misrepresentation ....
#45 S. Eugene Cohlmia on 2009-06-15 07:23
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