Saturday, June 13. 2009
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Oh what a joke. Just pathetic. Almost, but not quite as dull as listening to Bishop Basil on Ancient Faith radio. Is the Met next on a podcast? To not explain in greater detail what he has already clarified by not explaining it? This is getting to where the Great Entrance will be a time to try not to giggle as the poor celebrant exhorts his congregation to remember **FIRST** the hierarchs who are getting ever more forgettable. Maybe these exhortations could be done behind the iconostasis, silently, with a nice exclamation to let us know it's over?
#1 ba'ab on 2009-06-13 17:15
Thank God for men like Bob Koory, who have enough integrity to say he will not participate in Metropolitan Philip’s charades any longer.
How can we make any progress towards resolution when MP continues to play the LOYALTY CARD? The only way to move forward is through cultivating love and trust rooted and grounded in Truth and Love. Hopefully, the days of blind obedience are behind us.
The Orthodox Faith has been entrusted to every Baptized Soul. Yes, we are a hierarchical Church, but the laity must say the AXIOS! --- He is worthy!
On occasion, brother clergy together with the laity may also say An-Axios! --- He is unworthy! How tragic!!!
Let us pray the Holy Synod realizes North America is too large for ONE BISHOP to shepherd alone. We need real bishops in real dioceses. The sham dioceses of the past five years, while fruitful and effective, were handicapped by Metropolitan Philip’s continuous meddling!
Discipline was undermined. Our Bishops were undermined! No one should tolerate the humiliation Metropolitan Philip subjected, the Hierarchs, Priests, Deacons and laity to over the years.
Is this too painful to swallow? Yes, because we sat idly by and watched it for years, thereby enabling his behavior. Why? Perhaps, because we were not his victim at the moment. Lord, have mercy.
Did not the same thing happen during WWII, when Hitler euthanized the handicapped, the blind, then the deaf and the mute, etc.. Until there was no one left to help when the gaze turned upon one’s self.
We can no longer play games or sit idly by why MP tries to feed us lies. We must insist upon truth! We must insist upon integrity! We must insist upon transparency! Why is it too much to expect that our Archbishop would possess virtuous qualities?
#2 anonymous on 2009-06-13 17:38
How do you do it? Have you trained the flies or do they naturally find the manure?
MP guided the Chancellors through the so-called self-rule process, then changes his mind and openly chastizes them for following through with what he instructed them to do.
Lord, have mercy!
Maybe, we should simply let him do all the talking as we never know when he will change his mind.
On second thought, it is time to stop listening as he has proved himself untrustwiorthy.
#3 anonymous on 2009-06-13 17:42
Excellent as many were led to believe +Philip had the last word and convinced MOST of the Trustees he was right to denounce them! Neither Chancellor impress many of the Arch'd but they at least, here, held their ground. The truth now coming out tells it in a more correct fasion, I've been assured by those present. Not easy to "buck" our 43yr Despot who changed when the Arch'd began to grow sometimes with little encouragement from Englewood or the "Missions Dept". The Arab emphasis, "Let them grow on their own if they are sincere", has meant few funds or "seed" money with little exception. May God bless those who are revealing the truth! Lord increase you!
#4 Anonymous Antiochian Priest on 2009-06-13 18:17
Have you seen the announcement on the Antiochian homepage? Met. Philip is ill and will not be attending the Synod meeting. Bishop Joseph will be his representative, with Pat. Ignatius IV's blessing.
#5 Philippa Alan on 2009-06-13 18:34
It's just sad; very, very sad. + Philip has no clue! It's over. Time for REAL independence from Damascus and autocephaly. Fr. Schmemann tried to teach you, but you refused to listen!
#6 Anonymous on 2009-06-13 19:14
My passing comment about Metropolitan Philip not being at the last meeting in Damascus "not even on speaker phone" may have to be amended with the next meeting.
As for cell phones... perhaps the popular commercial should be revised to "Can you obey me now? Can you obey me now? I mean THIS now, not the other past "now?"
14 points indeed!
#7 Steve on 2009-06-14 04:53
Byzantine intrigue... rooms bugged with secret cell-phones... back-room under-the-table cash exchanges with foreign leaders... this is stuff that prime-time cop/detective shows are made of. I think it's time for our own tv show: Canon Law & Order.
#8 Rdr Mo on 2009-06-14 05:40
I sincerely hope that the plan is not for Metr. Philip to suddenly retire so that the Holy Synod can quickly elect Bp. Joseph, who just happens to be in Damascus for their next meeting, as Metr. Philip's successor and have that presented to us here as a fait accompli.
#9 Nemo on 2009-06-14 09:30
If you haven't read the late Sir Steven Runciman's "The Great Church In Capitivity," a history of the Church during the Ottoman Empire, I think you might find it helpful while pondering current events in Orthodoxy.
#10 Mickey Hodges on 2009-06-14 09:45
Bishop Joseph representing Metropolitan Philip at the Holy Synod meeting in Damascus brings little cause for optimism. He has shown his true colors over the past four months. His silence after the February 24 announcement, his directive to his council of presbyters not to meet, discuss or initiate any action as Bishop Basil’s council engaged itself. Bp. Joseph’s willingness to sign the “Black Friday” decree of Met Philip, which is the ecclesiological equivalent to the decree of the Council of Florence, renders little reason to think highly of his motives.
In addition, Fr. Antypas, an associate architect of all the discord and upheaval, along with some very wealthy board of trustee supporters of Met. Philip, visiting the Patriarchate does not stir confidence that any decisions will not be tainted. God help Patriarch Ignatius when there are metropolitans who are prone to compromise Church order and her good estate for many U.S. $’s. Congressional members in Washington DC could learn a lot from some of those men in black.
God save His Church from such phyletists who are chiefly motivated by worldly power and riches.
#11 Anonymous on 2009-06-14 12:41
Ummmm.... "Canon Law & Disorder" might be a more appropriate title.
#12 Heracleides on 2009-06-14 16:04
My relatives well rember their smallparish hosting a MidWest Parish Life Convention where Met. Philip was to "star" honoring his 40th Yr as Metropolitan. Most all ads in their book hailing thegreat"leader". No show to the disappointment of many. But, when the famed Fr Antypas had a great dinner (Detroit) he of course, made it. Filled with many arab background faithful (of course)! He has always chosen his "appearances" as to how much spotlight will be upon him and disappointed many thru the years. Oh well, as one said, you can always subscribe to the Archdiocese magazine, The Word, as see him everywhere.
#13 Anonymous Antiochian on 2009-06-14 16:25
correction: Canon Law & Holy Orders
#14 Rdr Mo on 2009-06-14 18:34
Please be so kind and post this material as it was taken from a credible source.
This is an indication that canonical order is a "MUST ISSUE" everyone should have knowledge about.
The Antiochian crisis should end by resignation of +Philip and election of the new Antiochian Primate. Philip should be held accountable for not allowing the auditing of the AOCA financials / record books to take place. Nobody should trust +Philip anymore. He must go NOW. ...
See below the text from the Geneva meeting:
Orthodox Report, a UK site, has a translation of the official French-language communiqué issued by the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference that met June 6-12 in Chambesy, Switzerland, to discuss the problem of the Orthodox “diaspora.” [Orthodox hierarchs pictured above at the meeting] The news release is available in Greek and Russian, for those who can read these languages. But Orthodox Report says it cannot find an English version. Nor can we.
This is one of those High Bureaucratic messages, the sort of thing that diplomats issue, that requires the reader to parse the phrases carefully for hidden meanings. Or maybe it’s written this way because nothing immediately actionable came out of the meeting. Who’s to say?
The official site for the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Center for Orthodoxy in Chambesy is all in French, which doesn’t help us rustics in the “diaspora.” Orthodoxie, a French site, has more, in French.
The text talks about the creation of “new episcopal assemblies” headed by bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that would “order” the Diaspora. But what, exactly, is a “new” assembly of bishops?
Saturday, June 13, 2009
IV Pre-conciliar Pan-orthodox Conference
IV Pre-conciliar Pan-orthodox Conference
Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Chambésy, 6th - 12th June 2009
At the invitation of His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, following the consensus of their Beatitudes the Primates of the most holy local Orthodox Churches, as expressed during their meeting held in the Phanar from 10th to 12th October 2008, the Fourth Pre-conciliar Pan-orthodox Conference met at the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Geneva, from 6th to 12th June 2009.
The work of the Conference began with the pan-orthodox concelebration of the Divine Liturgy, on the day of Pentecost. They were held under the chairmanship of His Eminence Metropolitan John of Pergamon, delegate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with the contribution of the secretary for preparation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, His Eminence Metropolitan Jeremias of Switzerland. The Conference was attended by delegates of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, at the invitation of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
The Primates of Local Orthodox Churches greeted the participants at the Conference by messages sent or forwarded by their delegates. The members of the Conference have sent letters to all the Primates of the local Churches, asking their prayers and their blessings for the accomplishment of their task.
In accordance with the wishes of the Primates and representatives of the local Orthodox Churches expressed in the message published at the end of their meeting at the Phanar (October 2008), the Fourth Pre-conciliar Pan-orthodox Conference was charged to examine the question of the canonical organization of the Diaspora Orthodox. The Conference decided its agenda at the opening meeting of its work.
The Conference reviewed the documents prepared by the preparatory inter-orthodox commission at its two meetings in Chambésy, i.e. that of 10th to 17th November 1990 and 7th to 13th November 1993 and the document prepared by the Canonists’ Congress meeting at Chambésy from 9th to 14th April 1995. These documents, specified, corrected and supplemented, have been approved unanimously.
The Conference expressed the willingness of Orthodox Churches to solve the problem of the canonical organisation of the Orthodox Diaspora, conforming to ecclesiology, tradition and canonical practice of the Orthodox Church. The Conference decided to create new episcopal assemblies in some regions of the world to order the question of the Diaspora, i.e. the Orthodox faithful installed in areas beyond the traditional boundaries of the local Orthodox Churches. The presidents of the Assemblies are bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the given region, and in their absence, the bishops in accordance with the order of the Diptichs of the Churches. All the bishops of the Orthodox Churches who exercise their pastoral ministry in the communities existing in each of these regions are members of these Assemblies. The Episcopal Assemblies are for the mission to manifest and promote the unity of the Orthodox Church, to exercise pastoral diakonia to the faithful of the region and to render to the world their common witness. The decisions of the Episcopal Assemblies are taken in accordance with the principle of unanimity of the Churches represented within these Assemblies by bishops.
After amended and supplemented, the Conference also approved the Proposed Regulations of Episcopal Assemblies by defining the fundamental principles of organization and operation thereof.
The remaining topics of the holy and great Council, i.e. the method of proclaiming of autocephaly and autonomy, and the order of Diptichs, will be discussed in future meetings of the preparatory inter-orthodox commission and will be submitted for approval to the following Pre-conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conferences.
Chambésy on 12th June 2009.
The President of the Conference
†John of Pergamon
An Orthodox Church minister, 06.14.2009
#15 Anonymous on 2009-06-14 19:15
I think it's time for our own tv show: Canon Law & Order.
How about, Ignoring Canon Law and Dis-order?
#16 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-06-14 19:49
Reader MO is the best! All Saints Bray for us!
#17 Extremely Undetectably Really Really Anonymous Priest on 2009-06-14 21:31
Cell phone left on.. .OOOOPS! How could THAT have happened.
Well, next time around we'll see Joe Allen frisking people, maybe electronic jamming equipment on board. Too fun for words. Dear me, it'll be like the Metropolitan won't know who to talk to anymore, you know how prevalent those little tiny cell phones are. It'll make him feel like an Antiochian layman or priest.
If you listen to Bishop Basil on the trip East you might notice the resemblance of the Patriarch of Antioch to the subject of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Nevertheless, it does sound like there's a Big Man who lives across the water far far away. He loves us. He knows our names. Bishop Basil says he actually saw Him. He can't tell us what he said, but He really really cares for us. He knows what is best for us. He drinks coffee. If we're very good he may send us more of the shiny beads. But whatever else we do, don't make the Big Man angry. That would be bad. Because He loves us.
It's a good thing this was on Ancient Faith Radio, because that really is a very ancient faith. Christianity is newer, but much better for people.
#18 Ba'ab on 2009-06-14 22:55
If Patriarch Ignatius is looking for a compromise solution to the North American crises, which surely he is, perhaps he should consider the following:
Reaffirm that the North American Bishops were elected, consecrated, canonically enthroned and issued a praxis by Antioch, therefore, they need to their full authority restored in the area (diocese) which was entrusted to them five years ago.
In the delicate matter of the Detroit clergy who have been disobedient and disrespectful to their diocesan bishop, +Mark, let the Holy Synod take a page from the Serbian Holy Synod who accommodated an elderly Metropolitan in America, and likewise exercise discretion by placing the southeastern Michigan parishes directly under the omophorion of the Metropolitan, thereby instilling peace and order in the mid-west diocese by removing those who have been rebellious.
This accommodation, while somewhat rewarding the bad behavior of said clergy, nevertheless, will give the Metropolitan direct authority over his closest allied priests and parishes which have some of his most supportive members of the archdiocese board of trustees.
While this is certainly ecclesiologically irregular, it is a compromise that will restore a great deal of peace and order in the vast majority of the Archdiocese.
#19 Priest Dunsel on 2009-06-15 03:55
How about "Canon Law & Order: Canonical Intent"
In this show, the bishop-detectives focus on investigating and then beating a confession out of the accused.
Oh wait, that's how things have worked our Archdiocese up until now. I guess it should be a documentary!
#20 Anonymous on 2009-06-15 06:15
Look, long ago + Philip chose + Joseph as his predecessor. This act of sending him to Damascus is + Philip's way of stating to the Synod that "THIS" is his hand-picked successor. And of course, the "old country" bishops will concur.
Isn't obvious to everyone that as long as "old country" bishops continue to run American churches, Americans are second class citizens. ....Even the canons denounce foreign bishops ruling over local churches. It really is time for REAL independence and AUTOCEPHALY!
#21 Anonymous on 2009-06-15 07:22
Interesting to note the Decision of Feb 24 does not state MP can move a Bishop. Yet he interprets it in a way that suits him.
Since when is one Bishop under another's omophorion. This is lousy ecclesiology and Papalism.
Hopefully the Patriarch will liberate our Bishops from their Captivity and allow them to fully function as Bishops without interference.
#22 anonymous on 2009-06-15 07:35
As the Holy Synod will be meeting in less than 24 hours we need to pray.
Hopefully, their revision of the Feb. 24 Decision will be perfectly clear to all. MP has a way of putting his own spin on things and we need a resolution to this issue.
The last thing we want is for him to have another black friday meeting with our Diocesan Bishops demanding obedience to a contrived interpretation.
The Holy Synod needs to simply state that the Holy Canons are to be followed. It is not like we are inventing something new here.
Have none of the Hierarchs of the Holy Synod ever studied ORTHODOX ECCELSIOLOGY or did they all study at the Pontifical Institute?
#23 Betrayed by Philip on 2009-06-15 07:51
Word on the street is that the active cell phone strategy was orchestrated by +Philip supporters, rather than his detractors. Your scenario, thus, ought to be changed to one in which Joe Allen frisks the detractors and hands out active cell phones to all supporters with the minions of +Philip already on the other ends waiting to execute +Philip's policies.
Interesting implications for +Philip, though, if he is having a hard time, now, determining who is really a supporter . . .
#24 Silouan James on 2009-06-15 08:20
You all need to stop acting like children and thinking you know what's right. I have stopped posting on this site and visiting it due to complete ignorance and unchristian like conduct. All of you, priests or laity are truly pathetic in every description of that word. I am glad you are obsessed with this because at least it is taking many peoples minds off the economy. God bless you all.
#25 William on 2009-06-15 09:41
Another possibility that would allow everyone to save face would be for the Holy Synod to reaffirm its February 28th decision, but elevate the current auxiliary bishops to metropolitans. Thus our diocese would be intact, and our Metropolitans would be able to rightfully participate in future meetings of the Holy Synod of Antioch. Why should our bishops, who administrate very large diocese compared to the Metropolitans in Lebanon and Syria, not have an equal say in the governance of the Synod? Also this would position us to be able to dialogue with the Greeks on an equal footing. This may actually hasten a uniting of our churches in N. America.
#26 Aristobolus on 2009-06-15 09:48
I have had the same thoughts as Priest Dunsel and I am glad he has brought it up. I think this compromise would be best for the Mid-West who don't want to loose Bishop Mark and the Detroit priests would be happy as well.
#27 Guy From Toledo on 2009-06-15 10:02
I hear a delegation of dissident priests and Board of trustees with fat wallets went over to "represent the Archdiocese." Do we not have Diocesan Bishops who just did that?
Who appointed this delegation? MP
If the Holy Synod supports MP and undermines our Diocesan Bishops our problems will only get worse as people leave the Archdiocese and Funding dries up.
#28 anonymous on 2009-06-15 10:38
The key point here is that they are dictating that the "presidents of the Assemblies are bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the given region, and in their absence, the bishops in accordance with the order of the Diptichs of the Churches." This has three effects:
1) It enshrines Constantinople's misinterpretation of the 28th canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council as being normative by, essentially, placing the Ecumenical Patriarchate in charge of all the Episcopal Assemblies.
2) It solves, in favor of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the question that arose in SCOBA at the installation of Abp. Spyridon as to whether he should have automatically become Chairman of SCOBA or whether, as per SCOBA's constitution, he should have been elected by the members.
3) It, as a result of the first effect I mentioned, denies the autocephaly of the OCA and the autonomy, oops, I mean, "self-rule," of the AOCA by reviving the misconception of the "diaspora" by creating an official Episcopal Assembly ruled by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and populated with bishops appointed by overseas synods. Nowhere does it mention participation by local bishops or how an Episcopal Assembly might evolve into a Local Synod.
Were there any representatives of the OCA at any of these meetings and, if so, were they allowed voice and vote? As far as I can tell from this document, the Ecumenical Patriarchate doesn't even acknowledge the existence of the OCA.
Sic semper tyrannis,
P.S. In this case, the tyrants would appear to be the members of the Holy Synod of the Phanar, representing the ~2,000 Greek Orthodox Christians still in Turkey but who are desperate to be seen as having global influence and stature. As Patr. Ignatius IV of Antioch is rumored to have said, the Holy Synod of the Phanar is busy reinterpreting old canons while the Holy Synods of Antioch and Moscow are busy tending to real flocks.
(editor's note: 1) It does no such thing. Neither Moscow nor Antioch nor the OCA would ever agree to the EP's reading of Chalcedon 28. The agreement simply recognizes what is, in fact, the existing case. 2). Yes, it does solve that problem. See #1. 3) Since the OCA's autocephaly has never been officially recognized by the EP, its continuing non-recognition is of little import. The only important thing is that Moscow recognize it - and that they have done, to the point of commemorating +Jonah in addition to +Kyrill in their Representation Church, as is the Orthodox custom. How the colonial powers decide to carve up the continent in their own minds now, regardless of the facts on the ground, is even as less meaningful as the European powers that carved up Africa in the 19th century. Eventually they will leave. )
#29 Nemo on 2009-06-15 11:34
I hope and pray that the Holy Synod -- in its meetings this week -- will agree to a harmonious and spiritual decision regarding the titles of the Antiochian Orthodox Bishops in America, so that the division and anger prevailing in the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America is ended -- fast.
Is it true that the "self rule" in the name Antiochian Self Ruled Archdiocese of North America really meant self ruled by Met. Phillip?..He needs to go..he is becoming very tiresome.
WE also need an independent audit of the books...
#31 Stephen on 2009-06-15 14:29
It is this attitude that somehow we in North America are "beholden" in perpetuity to the "mother country" that irritates the heck out of me.
I have news for the hierarchs in Constantinople, Damascus, Moscow, etc.
A rather largish majority of us are NOT IN ANY WAY "of the Diaspora". We are born and bred natives of the North American (and other non European/Middle Eastern) continent.
Why should we "submit" to you as somehow our cultural superiors? Greece is not my mother country, and the Ecumenical Patriarch is not the head of my mother church. (England and Canterbury, if we want to get all technical, though I was more than happy to submit to the Synod of the OCA lo those many years ago).
We will love you and honor you as our fathers and mothers in the faith, but parents must always acknowledge that the time comes (and in our case has come many years ago) when we need to set on our feet to sink or swim on our own. By the grace of God we have struggled but won through. We are not your slaves nor even your wayward children. We are American Orthodox of many different heritages, spiritual children indeed, but again by God's grace our own persons. Kindly keep your mitts to yourselves and allow us to continue to grow on our own with your prayerful support and advice, but WITHOUT attempts to "take over".
#32 Anonymous Disgusted AMERICAN Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-15 14:31
I saw a picture at a museum with the same theme, "The Error Apallant." Sorry for the typo, "The Heir Apparent."
#33 Betayed by Philip and ? on 2009-06-15 18:40
William you paint with a broad brush and make such sweeping and judgemental statements it may be best that you not write. God bless you. Is everyone on this blog a heathen? No.
Maybe you are right, "Let's leave it to God."
#34 anon and anon on 2009-06-15 18:50
You've promised to stop posting (and reading) several times now. Your most welcome to follow through with that promise.
#35 David Feliciano on 2009-06-15 20:55
All the talk about Bishop Joseph... Let us remember that Bishop Joseph was the real catalyst behind the Ben Lommond fiasco. +Philip had made promises to this group that allowed a slow transition to normative Orthodox liturgical practices and for the former evengelical ministers to keep their titles, without active service - which is canonical. Bishop Joseph jumped in at the prompting of a few 'cradles' and began the fight that led to the ruin of the once shining star of Antiochian Orthodoxy in Western America. +Philip's old guard would love for Bishop Jospeh to succeed him as it would allow business as usual to continue.
#36 Seen it all before on 2009-06-16 03:43
I can see that it is true...you HAVE stopped reading and writing here!
#37 Antionymous on 2009-06-16 03:58
God Bless everyone speaking out for Unity of the Church in America. We need more of this from the laity and priests. Not just lip service from the Bishops and old world powers. The OCA and the Antiochians are most well positioned for Union and the Bishops/Synods of both churches should meet regulary to discuss/encourage/set in motion/facilitate this. If unity in America is done incrementally...then so be it. The whole becomes larger over time and eventually each jurisdiction will eventually see the rewards of this and join themselves. There should, and will be sacrifice by everyone. Even the OCA's autocephaly as it is currently understood. But the most important point is that an authentic American Orthodox Church emerges with once governance and speaking with one voice. SCOBA cannot and will never do this despite its early hopes. It is now nothing more than a smoke screen and some bread crumbs dropped for the unity folks to chew on and distract them. I feel that the recent events in the OCA and the new Metroplitan's election along with what appears to be a cleansing of abuse of power in the Antiochian Archdiocese gives renewed hope for REAL union, maybe in our lifetime. The old world keeps us divided because we let them. Once the Antiochians get their ship aright we should have REAL DIALOGUE about untiy. Not just Pan Orthodox mission services. Let us pray so.
#38 Scott Yonkin on 2009-06-16 07:59
The one problem with this solution is that other churches would also, perhaps, want to opt out of their diocese and be part of Metropolitan Philip's diocese creating, in a sense, a church that looks very much like the older model where parishes, even in one city, could either be Toledo or New York church. I can even imagine parishes transferring back and forth depending on how they feel about their current Bishop. I suppose, though, that a kind of peace would result but the cost would be true communion and a severely hampered mission.
As we wait for the Holy Synod to act we have to contemplate how we will react to that decision and how we will make the peace. It may take some time to heal the rifts that have evolved from these things but I feel we have to find a way, regardless of what happens, to not simply isolate ourselves into separate worlds and shout across the distance but reattach ourselves, if at all possible, to each other.
I do wonder what I would do if, for example, the decision of the Holy Synod affirms February 24th and I and others who desire the restoration of Diocesan Bishops find ourselves on the losing side of this question. The truth is that I don't know but I do hope God will grant me the grace and insight to do and be what is right.
Whatever happens we need to continue to pray for each other, even when we disagree, and continue to lift our Bishops and the Holy Synod up in prayer.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
Uh, not quite. Bishop Joseph came to SS. Peter & Paul parish with dozens of clergy, men ordained the same as all others, and said he had needs throughout the Western Region for clergy. He spoke of transferring them, and that started the meltdown. Many of them did not want to leave Santa Cruz, and the former priest David Anderson then lied to them and told them they would be received into the OCA. When that didn't work they went into schism.
If you want to know who Bishop Joseph is, just look at his overall tenure in the West and watch the patterns. While he had made mistakes, who wouldn't in his circumstances? What is obvious is that he encouraged missions, improvements in the liturgical life of parishes, focussed on spirituality and supports his clergy. He never transfers clergy for punishment, and in all the years he's been here he's only suspended or had defrocked a handful of clergy.
He has taken a lot of flack for obeying Metropolitan Philip and the Holy Synod, and carrying out their instructions without excuse or complaint. But, then again, aren't people all up-in-arms about bishops who don't obey?
Bishop Joseph wasn't 'prompted by a few cradles' in the Ben Lomond situation: he was desperately short of clergy in the West and saw an opportunity for those men to get out of the 'nest' and start flying on their own. They chose schism over service to the Church. That's the painful truth, and, frankly, they are still paying for it today. Very sad.
Mind you, Met. Philip and Bishop Joseph have been at odds for quite a while. Bishop Joseph was partner with Bishops Basil, Mark & Alexander, that formed the majority block on the Local Synod and were making good progress in moving the Archdiocese into the 21st century prior to the February Decision.
The 'Old Guard' is just as underwhelmed by Bishop Joseph's traditionalism streak as they are by the other bishops. Frankly, he is seen by some as more of a threat because he has direct ties to the Patriarchate. When you look at the Metropolitan and then glance at the other bishops, only Bishop Antoun stands out as a down the line supporter of the Metropolitan. The rest have 'strayed' to one degree or another. Since Bishop Antoun is not a candidate for Metropolitan by his own request, change in the Archdiocese is unavoidable. It only is a matter of time.
So, before dumping on Bishop Joseph, please get your facts straight.
#40 Diocese of L.A. Priest on 2009-06-16 09:23
I will gladly defer to your more personal knowledge of Bishop Joseph. I only know what was going on when Ben Lommond imploded.
Amongst the old guard it was widely said at the time that it was Joseph's fault but that getting rid of the Evangelicals was worth it. (And, I would note that the agreement with Metropolitan Philip for the Evangelicals was for most of the former "priests" to be granted order but serve honorarably at Ben Lommond - not move into the wider Church.)
Bishop Joseph's first move was, in fact, demanding that the Evangelicals conform to "Antiochian" practice, despite their being given the assurance from +Philip that they would maintain their own taxis. I am glad the longer history of his episcopacy has revealed him to be a holy man; perhaps this initial misstep taught him a better way of dealing with converts.
That said, I am serious in my reservations but would be delighted to find myself wrong if Bishop Joseph ascended to the Mertopolis. Still, my hope is for Bishop Basil - even though I personally would possibly fare better under Bishop Joseph.
#41 Seen it all before on 2009-06-16 13:40
I agree! After almost 60 years of Orthodoxy, I remain baffled about why many members believe that those not born into the Church should feel “beholden”. This is God’s Church! God’s!
When Jesus ordered his disciples to go and make disciples of all the nations, He did NOT add, “And make them feel “beholden” for providing them with My information.”
Today let us eliminate the foul words, cradle and convert, from our vocabulary. These “c” words perpetuate the destructive, “beholden” lie.
#42 Anonymous on 2009-06-16 14:00
First let me respectfully recommend that you consider amending your nom de guerre to HIABO, as in "Heard it all before," or GIAN as in "Guessed it all now."
I was in BL and its environs from 1973 to 2006, logging some 14 years with some of those who went into schism before we were ever received into Orthodoxy, and another 11 together before the split. Please state who you are, or at least what you consider to be your qualifications to make pronouncements.
The truth of what happened regarding multiple clergy is just too complicated to discuss here in any but the the most abbreviated way. I wouldn't bother except for the way in which you use the (perhaps entirely well-intentioned - I do not accuse you of lies) mistakes and misjudgments to cast shadows unfairly on bishops.
The truth, summarized, is that we were brought into the church intact with about 30 local clergy (counting deacons and priests). Everybody knew it was anomalous, and various and shifting currents and eddies were brought to bear on the local office holders and the leaders who oversaw them during the years from 1987 reception to the 1998 debacle.
Sometimes it was the bishops seeking clergy to fill vacancies in other places. At other times the local leader who was more or less fed up with having to supervise the number and kinds of people who were his assistants, but who could not be seen in their eyes to want to cull the ranks of his supporters ... and so he therefore tried to work through the bishops, and sometimes even manipulate them to thin the ranks.
Suffice to say that except for the transfer order that Fr. David Anderson received in Feb. 1998, which was turned into the pretext for the rebellion, not a SINGLE one of us was coerced out of serving in Ben Lomond or subjected to involuntary transfer by His Eminence, Bishop Basil or Bishop Joseph. (By the way Fr. David received ... and unfortunately believed and passed on to those who fled, false or mistaken assurances about the OCA reception they would receive; he did NOT lie.)
During those years Bishops Basil, and after taking over in Los Angeles, Bishop Joseph, made reasonable and repeated efforts to encourage us working part-timers to full engagement with our ministries. Given the sheer numbers in Ben Lomond and the fact that they had a lot of other work to do, I think they paid us a very appropriate amount of individual attention, and showed real patience, as each man sought to wrestle with discovering his true calling.
I don't think any of us - on the ground in BL, regardless of "side, " or in higher office - can look back on that shambles without regrets ... at the very minimum. That is true of me on several scores, not the least of which was letting the wool be pulled over my eyes by the departing brethren until the last moment.
But there isn't room or time to go into all of it now, and I am positive that the things I know for sure are by no means all. I can, however, categorically assure the readership here that the actual conduct of Bishops Basil and Joseph in dealing with our numerous clergy in the years before 1998 was neither arbitrary nor harsh, and does NOT suggest in the slightest anything to detract from their fitness as bishops.
#43 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-06-16 19:31
With all respect, you may know what you know; I know what was said by members of the old guard as I heard it from them with my own ears. I personally saw some of the writings ordered by Englewood to rebutt the Evangelicals - later determined to be unnecessary.
#44 Seen it all before on 2009-06-17 03:38
Thank you for sharing your first-hand perspective on events. I have a question, which I hope is relevant to at least some degree.
From what I've read, including some original sources published here and there, it appears that the now-departed clergy asked for a transfer to the OCA, and a couple days later they found themselves suspended and even deposed in advance of an ecclesiastical trial; and eventually ended up excommunicated as well (and therefore twice-punished contrary to the canons). Eventually, they were able to convince Jerusalem that they had been given a raw deal, at least to the extent that they were permitted to commune.
Now, I know that there was all manner of insanity leading up to the ostensibly humble and sorrowful request for a transfer; and the path of the departed group since that time suggests, to me at least, that there was something very wrong in them from the beginning of the mess. I also know that there were subsequent trials upholding the punishments, and that an appeal to the Holy Synod in Antioch was denied.
But — still — can their summary punishments and the addition of excommunication be justified? I don't mean this to be a historical derail: the facts here interest me in terms of Met. Philip's and Bp. Joseph's attitude toward the canons and the canonical tradition in general. (Nor is my question rhetorical — Met. Philip does seem to me to be rather inattentive to canonical matters overall, but the details of this case are thoroughly obscure to me.)
#45 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-17 04:55
I do hope that unity is served by the Holy Synod of Antioch. A curtain of silence seems to rest over that event and perhaps that is no bad thing. There are many things that the Holy Synod might or might not have done this week. Elevating Bishop JOSEPH is one possibility. Doing nothing effective is another. My preference is that their actions should uphold the conciliar nature of Orthodoxy rather than degrade it. My preference would be that MP be retired with honors but that independent audits not be delayed. I find what I've seen of his leadership style absurd, dysfunctional and at least potentially corrupting but I wish him no evil. Who knows if you or I would do worse, given his position and power? But the Archdiocese requires his resignation and I believe it is in his own best interest. How easy it is to get attached to power and prestige and a love of one's own opinions! If he is strutting and posturing and rationalizing, do we not know this struggle from our own fasts? Go in peace, MP. Many Years.
#46 Monologistos on 2009-06-17 11:38
Dear AFOC and HIAB:
I did not understand the last sentence of what HIAB wrote.
I appreciate what AFOC wrote and the spirit in which it seems to have been written. It helps us focus, I believe, on a threshold issue without a rational understanding of which it is impossible to draw informed conclusions about the discipline imposed. And even then it may not be possible, and certainly not easy.
The issue: what did the departing brethren do? If it was just a faux pas, the equivalent of stepping on the Metropolitan's corns, then I believe a) the discipline would have been unwarranted and b) His Eminence wouldn't have gone to all the trouble.
If it was more, as I know it was, then the question is how much more and what the appropriate disciplinary response would be. Good reasons can be cited in both directions, but as of the time discipline was imposed I think Englewood ultimately had the better, but by no means perfect or perfectly obvious to American converts, argument.
I do not have the time or energy to explore that here. I'm sorry. I think it would be a great subject for a thesis or dissertation, the kind of thing which involves many partially hidden issues, facts questions large and small. Maybe I will be able to think of a way (and find the time) to respond a bit more effectively soon.
In the meantime I can confidently say I know personally of seven cases in which men who were originally deposed and excommunicated were relieved of at least the latter, and in two cases both. by the actions of Metropolitan and Bishop Joseph. The 8th is difficult to explain and label.
More perhaps another time.
#47 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-06-17 12:23
I am a layman who was present around Ben Lomond for 7 fewer years than Fr. George. In my view, the excommunications were meted out for the underhanded, deceitful, manipulative and vicious way in which the parish was rent asunder by Weldon Hardenbrook. I was present at the fateful February 1997 parish-wide meeting at which the representatives of the Bishop and the Metropolitan (Frs. Gillquist and Ballew) were denied entry to the meeting unless they promised not to speak. Like the Council Meeting in Hell in Book II of Milton's Paradise Lost, the meeting's outcome was rigged before it ever started. Hardenbrook calculated who would go with him and who would not, pronouncing those who wouldn't as so much useless (i.e., non-manipulable) jetsam to be discarded.
Their deposition as clergy was related to their non-acceptance of any episcopal authority but Hardenbrook's. To this day, they believe (somehow) that Metr. Philip could validly ordain them but couldn't depose them. The Joseph Allen matter was cited as one of the sticking points in Metr. Philip's supposedly non-canonical exercise of power. Assuming for the sake of argument that every allegation of that nature was correct, the real motive wasn't concern with the Allen matter but rather to deflect attention away from Hardenbrook's co-dependent, dysfunctional leadership.
To this day, I believe Metr. Philip would extend mercy (as he did posthumously with one of the rebelling former deacons) if he saw authentic "owning up" to what Hardenbrook and his followers did. Sadly, that is not the case. Rather, wholesale denial seems persistent.
Interestingly, some of those rebelling clergy (3 former priests and two former deacons) have left Hardenbrook's Jerusalem Patriarchate parish and returned to Ss. Peter & Paul in genuine repentance. One of those men has since left the area for work for which he was suited in an OCA parish in Oregon.
When Hardenbrook seeks to publicly repair the wounds he caused with the split, then I think real progress will have been made toward healing. That would require public repentance and admission of the wrongs that were done. Until then, I think the excommunications and depositions were exactly appropriate.
#48 Tim on 2009-06-17 20:34
So the Holy Synod is still meeting ... desperately struggling to find a path of non-action or limited action to mollify and pacify a dysfunctional, fragmented Church body. The problem seems to be that some Holy Synod members operate much like MP operates ... without accountability and often without discipline with regards to important canons.
I don't know if the deeper question is whether this week's actions hold us together. Our unity is a mystery already. It doesn't appear that I am personally going to be happy with what is done but I must hope that despite raised hopes that Antioch should actually start to act like the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, that *in time*, God's will may be seen to be done *despite our actions*. We must hope that we are able to still speak, humbly, penitentially to the world saying, "We are sorry that we are hypocrites ... but we hold up the apostles so do what we say not what we do." Oh ambulatory icons! How this distinguishes us from sectarian Protestants is not entirely clear to my feelings when confronting disappointment. But this has ALWAYS been the way it is with us ... if it were not for the Holy Spirit dwelling in the Church, we should have long ago foundered and failed. Our gifts for understanding must be patience, humility and hope ... hope that we might be surprised by joy. It is not good to allow disapointment to be corrosive. May even this council of so fallible men allow the Holy Spirit to renew the Church .
So we make our prayer, "Come, Holy Spirit."
#49 Monologistos on 2009-06-18 12:33
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