Tuesday, June 16. 2009
Your comments on financial transparency in the Archdiocese are welcome.
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Just look at the budget for the Archdiocesan Headquarters itself.
Almost 3/4 of a million dollars for what?
How much of our tithes comes back to support the labors of our Diocesan Bihops?
Where is there secretairal help?
How do they entertain guests with no budget?
Where is their secretarial funds?
Why don't they have a deacon?
How much of the budget is actually un-accounted for? How much is used for what it is designated?
We do need a complete and thorough "OUTSIDE AUDIT" by someone trained in looking for the tricks.
Our clergy should have a decent and vested retirement plan.
Our seminarians should not be on public assistance.
How many of our seinarians are NOT ACTUALLY SCHOLARSHIPPED BY THE ARCHDIOCESE?
Why do we have almost $3 million dollars raised for the Balamand, but cannot care for our own seminarians and seminaries.
How can one of our Bishops own an apartment building in Damascus, The Mutron Antioun Khoury worth hundreds of millions of Syrian Lyra.
What does the Archdiocese actually own? What is in the name of MP or has been placed in the name of his relatives? Who makes the payments?
Who owns the Condo and who makes the payments?
What about the Patriarchal Constitution and the estate of th Archbishop?
Is he in DISOBEDIENCE TO THE HOLY SYNOD, The HIGHEST AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH? ABSOLUTELY!!!!!
#1 Betrayed by Philip on 2009-06-16 07:54
My guess is that people will jump to praise this anonymous priest for his articulate post.
I wonder what St. Paul would do today in the midst of all these orthodox scandals? I doubt he would hide behind his words and sign his post "anonymous".
St. Paul was not afraid.
I see example after example of men in the Orthodox Church who are afraid to boldly speak out for what they believe to be right.
I see nothing changing in the Orthodox Church. I see people who are afraid to stand up for anything that threatens their personal position, whether that be their church membership or their job. People talk and write endlessly about what is wrong and then they just circle around and end up back in exactly the same place.
I see a measurable amount of idolatry on this website in the form of putting the organized church ahead of Christ.
Why should anyone take seriously a priest who can't even stand up for his own opinion and sign his name? What kind of leadership is this?
Is he so afraid that the corrupt bishop is going to fire him and kick him out of the corrupt church that he writes about?
Is it more than coincidence that Bishop Joseph was in the Middle East so he could be the stand-in for Metropolitan Philip? It certainly was very convenient. Anyway, we are all happy that +MP has made a miraculous recovery from his "virus." Soon we will know the outcome of the momentous meeting. May an acceptable compromise be found that will ease the tensions in our archdiocese.
#3 anon on 2009-06-16 09:31
And for once and for all, clergy and laity need to have an accounting
from +MP of expenditures, not just for this fiscal year, but for all the
other years he has spent funds without any accountability. Living and
spending like a king is not becoming to a spiritual leader. Rather
following the example of St. John Maximovitch, ragged but saintly,
should be the model he would seek to emulate.
#4 anon on 2009-06-16 09:35
How to organize a large movement to vote in a resolution to hold up any budget approval unless an independent audit of the financials of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America?
What communication process would be most helpful?
#5 an antiochian priest on 2009-06-16 10:15
If MP does not like the results of the Holy Synod's decisions, will they no longer be the Highest Authority in the Church?
Let su see how obedient he truly is!
Perhaps they will set up metropolitonates like the Greeks!
#6 anon and anon on 2009-06-16 12:20
I think it's time for bishops to be "the husband of but one wife". There aren't enough candidates, so some are chosen primarily beause they are not married.
#7 Anonymous on 2009-06-16 14:09
If MP does not like the results of the Holy Synod's decisions, will they no longer be the Highest Authority in the Church?
The Holy Synod has never been the Highest Authority for The Antiochian Church in America. That is not to say that His Grace Philip does not find their statements useful, when suitable as evidenced by our current troubles.
My great fear is that the Patriarch having played nice with the former Diocesans on their recent visit will effectively quell the fire started by The Metropolitan.
Bp. Basil seems to have succumbed completely to the charms of his Beatitude and if I have a proper understanding on what he has written and said, he seems willing to abide whatever is now the will of The Holy Synod. I heard nothing from His Grace indicating larger issues like canonicity would be a factor in guiding any future course he might pursue.
It is time to open fully the door cracked by Met. Philip. It is not in the intrest of The Church or our Archdiocese in particular to ignore the real issues or let the opportunity for real accountability and transparency be lost.
I know peace, harmony and calls for unity will be the insistent mantra of many, once the Synod meeting is over. But where do we go from here? Back to the good old boys, business as usual ways, with our unaccountable Masters giving us crumbs from their table?
#8 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-06-16 14:54
It is easy to counsel others to become confessors for Christ, but is it easy to counsel them to make their wives and children confessors as well?
I do not hide behind anonymity. Let the words of the anonymous priest be my words instead. Now what is your answer?
I realize that some might see applying the name 'confessor' to one whose only suffering might be being forced to relocate to a rural mission and become bivocational (the priest), to work outside the home (his wife) or to not be able to afford the college one was hoping to attend (the child), when the saints we title Confessors endured imprisonment, beatings, and worse tortures. But we are Americans. We are soft. But for all that I will still apply the word:
One of the fathers in the desert asked why one of the other monks in the skete had sheets on the hard cot on which he slept. One of the other fathers explained that before he left the world to become monk, the other monk had been a Senator.
Others have pointed out that St. Raphael wrote anonymously on occasion on controversial matters of his day. Do you fault him, too?
#9 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-16 16:59
"Man does not live by bread alone." Unless there is no bread.
#10 Michael Strelka on 2009-06-16 18:15
The monies go to all the departments. Each department head typically gets paid a salary since it is a full time job. Travel expenses come from that. Computers come from that. Phone bills come from that. etc... The Youth Ministry is huge too. The Antiochian Women as well. Please take into consideration that. The property taxes on the home in Englewood is probably expensive and each of the staff get paid as well. What Bishop ANTOUN does with his HARD earned money is his business, not yours nor I.
The WORD Magazine is free to all who subscribe, many people donate to that magazine, but remember that is over 30,000 publications a month and it costs a lot to mail these. Need I go on?
Yes there should be a better retirement plan...remember Metropolitan PHILIP stating he donated his money to the clergy retirement at the last Archdiocese Convention. That was a lot of money too.
Also, take into consideration each Bishop gets paid a certain amount as well. Their local parishes within their Dioceses give them money too. Each time they visit a parish they get money (gifts). Just after they were enthroned if you looked on the website there was a protocol of a $500 gift for a bishop's visit and hotel and airfair. Do you not remember this?
It takes money to run the Archdiocese and all it's branches. There is no need for an audit unless you want to audit each individual department or individual. We have no right to audit individuals unless you are the IRS. What you do with your money is your business so please do not even say that Bishop ANTOUNS apartment in Syria is a big deal. That's probably where he will retire. I think that is great he has someplace he owns...don't you?
#11 William on 2009-06-16 18:44
I agee 100% we need to choose from married priests for future bishops. The Episcopalians have it al over us on this point. Most of these "single" bishops have issues...
Right now if you have a pulse and you are not married you are a candidate.
The Orthodox need to be shut down and overhauled to come into compliance with the Gospel. Make it a "living faith" and not a museum piece.
#12 Anonymous on 2009-06-16 19:00
Kevin, you don't have a proper understanding of Bp Basil's position.
#13 Ferris Haddad on 2009-06-16 21:23
You have no clue William. God bless you. I did not say an aparment. I said apartment building.
The departments of the archdiocese are listed with their separate budgets.
But where does the 3/4 of a million go for the headquarters? $80,000 for maintenance and repairs. If this is so sell the place. None of the other chanceries get this. Their meager budgets are expected to cover everything.
Troy and Livonia give less combined thAN SOME OTHER PARISHES.
WHY ARE WE NOW DISCUSSING INCREASES WHEN SOME PARISHES WITH THE METROPOLITANS BUDDIES DO NOT EVEN PAY WHAT IS ALREADY REQUIRED.
#14 anon and anon on 2009-06-17 03:37
The point about family is a good one. But, it is also the case that there are, especially at this date, good tactical reasons for dissident clergy to avoid revealing themselves. And, at this point, it may not even be just to support these accusations, anonymously or not.
The priest assumes that withholding is the right thing to do at this particular moment — I confess that I have not yet considered it enough to agree or disagree. (It just occurred to me, for example, that if it done on the heels of a bad decision from Damascus, it might be easier for Met. Philip to dismiss to the Synod the ethical concerns they voice as a smokescreen for reactionary bitterness.)
Assuming the priest is correct — a priest must convince his parish to withhold funds, and he must plan with them how to react when he is relocated, suspended, or deposed, and the parish council is summarily dismissed. That takes time.
And, frankly, there is not good evidence right now. Dn. Wheeler's accusations were credible in part because he used his name, but mostly because the position he had held made him a firsthand witness. I see nothing like that here — just some mostly anonymous posts on a website from people who do not claim to have any proof or firsthand knowledge of financial wrongdoing.
As it is, there is only the claim that people are scandalized because of the lack of an independent audit, and this argument is not especially strong. Perhaps the faithful should be scandalized, but the author gives no evidence that more than a few are even aware of the issue, much less scandalized by its present disposition.
Finally, there is a convention coming up. There is no point in dissident clergy announcing themselves in advance of this so that they can be suspended, demoted, forbidden to attend on some other pretext, or marginalized when they do attend.
Once that event is past, and if I see some real evidence, then I imagine I'll agree with you that it is time for all to stand up — en masse, so that the punishment-by-poverty of their families will not be a viable response.
(My anonymity, by the way, is for the sake of the protection of my priest, for the reasons I indicated above.)
#15 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-17 03:52
My point is this. The priests who write anonymously are more concerned about themselves than standing boldy for what they believe. They are not going to lose their lives over this.
They might possibly lose their position and their membership in a very corrupt system. I think they state very clearly just how important (or unimportant) their cause is when they do not sign their names.
And don't tell me about the consequesnses for speaking out.
I know all too well.
I don't think hiding behind women and children is a good enough excuse, IMHO.
You know a lot about the shame imposed on victims, the wounding of their spirits, the crippling of their souls.
Perhaps this is what is feared more than losing a job etc.; because nowhere is a victim more a victim (I am sad to say) than in a religious milieu. Guilty people, who fill the Church, always find it easier to point the finger at anyone singled out for banishment, punishment etc., even those outcast wrongly by bad authorities. These finger pointers are the real cowards who are in denial of the fact that when they are pointing, four fingers point back at themselves.
This is the crowd crying *crucify*,the crowd so willing to fall in line, get on the band wagon, and find a victim. Victimhood played out again and again is the name of religion's dirty little game. It will restore the illusion of peace and allow prosperity its parade once again, for money is religion's tool.
So I agree with you about anonymity, but as you give compassionate understanding and fight for victims of sexual abuse, so give this anonymous priest the same compassion and understanding, and pray for him to have courage to do what he must do, in his own time.
#17 Ever and anon. on 2009-06-17 08:21
Kevin, you don't have a proper understanding of Bp Basil's position.
Ferris, you don't know how much I hope you are correct about this. Time will tell and not all that much time.
#18 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-06-17 08:58
"Most of these single priests have issues", you say? I would hardly hold up the Episocopalian church as an example of how to come into conformity with the gospel. Yikes!!! And our church is not a museum. It is one of the few , if not the only church that has preserved the true faith and teaching of and about Jesus Christ. It doesn't need shut down and overhauled. That statement is ridiculous! Sometimes I wonder if alot of the people posting here go to church or are even Orthodox. The problem is that there are people who can't see Orthodoxy except through their own ethnic lens. If we force this to change our Church will continue here in America renewed and understood by Americans so we can finally begin the important work of evangelizing this country and hopefully helping to save many from its rabid secularism and atheism.
Mr Anonymous, our church does not conform to the world. Other churches have. Most especially the one you cite as and example for us. Why would you suggest such a thing?
And finally our church is not corrupt. WE are corrupt. We being all of us...the bishops, priests and people. But we are all saved because we receive Christ through His church. This is His Church and it is Holy whether we are or not. Everyone who posts here should be mindful of that even when leveling sometimes justified criticism of it people or leaders.
P.S. I don't frequently post here but have done so 3 or 4 times over the last couple weeks hoping to get people who believe it is time for an American Church to begin to speak out. Those who believe this but don't say anything or are too timid to do so should speak out now.. Every Bishop of every jurisdiction should be hearing from us. I will stop posting now, before I surpass my welcome. But I would just hope that every Orthodox Christian posting here has the best interests of Christ's Church at heart when doing so.
#19 Scott Yonkin on 2009-06-17 09:24
I've read through your website and what you have to say about abuse. So, let's take your paradigm regarding abuse victims: shouldn't they stand up and immediately report abuse using their real names?
The fact is that quite a number of clergy feel abused, and, right now, there have been serious doubts that was anywhere for them to turn for help. Some clergy have expressed to me that they felt deceived when they entered into the clergy, took a parish, and suddenly found out how things 'really are.'
You may be surprised to discover many parallels between the victims you represent and the clergy who have been victimized by what they perceive as 'hostage situation' involving their parishes, their families and their reputations. You read how Met. Philip speaks to his clergy. Do you blame them for being hesitant?
I don't give my name because I don't want to scandalize my parishioners who are already deeply divided and I don't want to jeopardize my children's wellfare. If it was just me, I suppose I would have signed my name long ago, Cappy. But, there are a lot of people depending upon me to keep coloring between the lines until God acts.
Yes, God is in charge here. He is moving. He is changing things. Look at what has happened so far. Can you doubt it for a moment? He doesn't need me to sign my name... yet. Trust me, you WILL see my name in print. But, like a soldier in war, you keep hidden until the right moment. It is fast approaching.
Our co-sufferers in the OCA took many long, painful years to get where we Antiochians are in a matter of months. Months! Part of that has to do with our brother Mark providing a safe place for us to bring together our thoughts and evidence. See, Cappy, the anonymity has its benefits!
Or, would you prefer to see more sin and more despair? Frankly, I think that if the same change can be done with less harm, then let's do it without leaving so many battered and bruised.
One last thing: I think OCANews and Mark's work has taught us all a valuable lesson about how the clergy and the laity can work together for the good of the Church. The laity don't hold all the cards, and neither do the clergy. But, together, we are playing with a full deck.
Still, we should avoid the casinos...
#20 anonymous Antiochian priest on 2009-06-17 09:37
Saint Paul eventually did go to his death, but soon after his conversion he escaped the city in a basket and fled. Not because he was afraid, but because he was more valuable as a teacher than a martyr. The situation changed at the end of his life, but for that moment, it was more important to do the "cowardly" thing than to flee.
It is not yet the time for many of our clergy to speak out. The time may come, but not yet.
#21 Age on 2009-06-17 09:39
Of course, you do realize that the Holy Apostle Paul did write an anonymous work. Precisely the one whose recipients would find it most controversial: the Epistle to the Hebrews.
The Apostle's lack of self-identification in that letter is such that secular scholars dispute his authorship.
#22 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-17 09:45
The Antiochian Archdiocese sounds like the OCA a few years ago...push for an outside audit.
push and push and push for an outside audit......withhold money..money talks..that wasn't an apple Eve gave Adam..it was a dollar bill
#23 Stephen on 2009-06-17 10:15
Here, here! Thank you Cappy for showing the courage that so many others lack...a warrior indeed.
Moses the Tlingit
#24 Moses on 2009-06-17 10:28
1. You don't know what's going on in the hearts and minds of anonymous priests.
2. You don't know that anyone is "hiding behind women and children".
Ergo, your "argument" is just so much hot air and uncharitable to boot.
#25 Kevin Payne on 2009-06-17 12:59
Hey easy on MP. I would probably not be Orthodox today if I hadn't read about his vision for America. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. I donated paint and supplies to one parish because of the disrepair to the building. It wasn't the priest fault as he was new, it was the people who apparently had a pretty dead faith. The people in the church have to be missionaries also. It can't be just the job of the priest.
There is blame to go around. I must say St. Athanasius in Sacramento does a pretty good job bringing people into the parish from the surrounding community, the poor, the wealthy, the Arabs, the WASP, mentally challenged etc, etc. MP could not be talking about that parish (whom I believe is home to one of the Orthodox Lawyers). I am just torn up about what is going on with the Antiochians. I love them, they have always strengthened me. I hope the healing is swift.
Back to the future...
Next week we will finally learn the difference between diocean and auxillary...in English and Arabic. You don't get any more transparent than that.
The genie will be put back into the bottle. Peace will reign over Englewood.
Get over it all you cannonist, lawyers and ivory tower theologians. Where do we go from here?? Time to start the Haflie in Palm Springs...
#27 Anonymous on 2009-06-17 17:06
Respectfully, are grossly simplifying the exchange of money. Actually you are jumping over a number of steps to reach your conclusions.
First off, the vast majority of money makes it way to Englewood, NJ and then it is distributed to each department head. As you pointed out, money comes into Englewood in a variety of ways. It makes it way via parish assessments, contributions to the Word, and volunteer contributions. However, it also makes its way there through hand shakes and special personal requests which are not shown on any books. It also makes its way there via investment income (or loss). Can you say how much is sitting in investments?
Now take it a step further. How many real or potential lawsuits are out there? If the Antiochian Archdiocese has no potential lawsuits I would find this incredibly hard to believe given the fact that it's a church, it is filled with lots of clergy, and it is filled with lots of people that live in the world.
Since Bishop Dmitri Khouri's name has surfaced, who gave the authorization to pay him his salary? Is this coming out of parish assessments? What are all of the current administrative salaries of the archdiocese?
At the end of the day, we are no longer in the Byzantine era. We live in a time and place where people really do have a fundamental right to know where there money is going. I personally applaud Metropolitan PHILIP for all that he has done, but it is time to step up and be completely accountable for every dollar that is contributed to the archdiocese.
#28 Anonymous Observer on 2009-06-17 17:28
Do the members of the Holy Synod have issues with ORTHODOX ECCLESIOLOGY?
A Bishop of a Bishopric's relationship to the Metropolitan is comparable to that of a Metropolitan to the Patriarch.
The Patriarch recognizes their jurisdiction within their Archdiocese nd the Metropolitan recognizes the authority of the Bishops within their Bishoprics. It is Very Simple, i.e., ORTHODOXY 101
A system where one bishop is under another is known as PAPAL.
A misstep at this point will only intensify and inflame the situation in North America.
#29 anon and anon on 2009-06-18 09:19
Fellow Orthodox Christian,
You make it sound like a political game. So the strategy is to have people remain anonymous and then reveal themselves and their stand on issues at the convention?
I actually find that courage diminishes in the presence of the hierarchy. Look at the bishop's visit to Damascus. They were putty in the Patriarch's hands! I found it extremely painful to read. They were in awe at being in His Holiness’s presence. They came back in a daze like they didn’t know what hit them or why they even went in the first place.
I hope you are right about the convention.
If the difficulties over the status of the bishops is somehow resolved and +Philip survives, the financial issues at hand will inevitably bring about the end of his regime. The older generation of Orthodox leadership have not come to grips with the new world of the internet - where the old methods of obfuscation and intimidation do not work. Today, there is a level of transparency that cannot be avoided - we only need to look at the "open cell phones" at a supposedly closed meeting as an example. More commonly, where rumors of the "he said, I said" variety used to dribble out slowly to those that were in the loop, anyone can make anything public almost instantly. There really is nowhere to hide.
In the end there will be disclosure of the Antiochian finances - willing or unwilling. Given the lack of transparency over the years one may predict that, at the very least, sloppy methodology will be exposed. I am afraid there will be a lot of housecleaning to do. It seems to me that all members of the Archdiocese have the right to insist on proper auditing before donating one more penny.
There is a lot of debate on this website (and others) which centers on whether +Philip is a "good guy" or a "bad guy". This could be settled quite easily: In the words Deep Throat in "All the President's Men" - "Follow the Money."
#31 Marcel Herlé on 2009-06-18 11:27
You make it sound like a political game.
Do I? I doubt you would say that if this were one of the cases on your site, after, say, watching a strategy session held by plaintiffs' counsel. Attorneys cultivate relationships with the press, think about demography and juror pools, determine who the opposition will be most embarrassed to have called to the stand, consider the ideology of the judge .... All political, but none of it a game.
On the contrary, this is a battle, and in battles you must think tactically if you want to win.
The key is always to remember what you want to win, and why . To quote the old civil rights leaders, "Keep your eyes on the prize."
So the strategy is
To be clear, I am just what my nom de net says. I have no special knowledge of the thoughts or plans of clergy and specially-positioned laymen who oppose the Feb. decision and support transparency. But I know how I would approach these matters — and it wouldn't be to march into the limelight like a Redcoat into the American forest.
They came back in a daze like they didn’t know what hit them or why they even went in the first place.
You seem quick to assume the worst of bishops and priests. I know you've dealt with some black-robed snakes in your time, but it seems unfair always to view all the clergy with a jaundiced lens. I believe in preparing for the worst, and we are all capable of vice — but I see no reason not to maintain positive assumptions as regards people's motives, unless I have a specific reason not to.
Mark and Alexander were relatively quiet on returning, but that has a simple possible explanation: talking about the events of the meetings would have lost them sympathy in Damascus, and the sad reality is it is Damascus that presently decides our fate. Hard to judge from that, then. Bp. Basil, on the other hand, said more — and I found his choice of words revealing, especially as regards the "frequent" and "direct" communications with the Patriarch which he announced would be a hallmark of the immediate future. He sees that this means a change — a reduction of the influence that an AOCA metropolitan can use to get his way. I suspect there were other gains made too, though not the prize, a total change of position on the part of the patriarch.
Why didn't they just demand this? Well, first, there was no united front they could have formed to demand a reversal of the decision — not that the patriarch could have effected one on his own. It was, in fact, only +Alexander, +Mark, and +Basil who cared enough to take a risk, and only two of them were present. Second, it is possible that the fix was already in and they knew or strongly suspected it. In any event, I think that something prompted them to simply get what they could to help them and us at the next window of opportunity for structural change: when Met. Philip steps aside.
I hope the meetings went better than that, of course; and I know that matters may be worse than I present them. But, since the laity have their jobs in this matter regardless, why not give the benefit of the doubt?
#32 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-18 12:57
I know what you're trying to say about the the people being corrupt and not the Church, however....the Church IS the people. We are the Church, the body of Christ, and if we are corrupt then the Church is corrupt.
It's true that the divine aspect of the Church, which is Christ is pure and spotless, but the Church .. . that being the human institution it has become, is corrupt at various levels. You cannot look at pedophile priests, and priests who have solicited prostitutes being reinstated within a year or two of said offense, and NOT see the corruption, unless you are either putting on the rose colored glasses over top of the blinders, OR you have INCREDIBLE faith; the faith of a true saint. And indeed, that may be true of you, and maybe everyone else out there. But I admit, I do NOT have that powerful faith. I'm weak in faith, at times extremely weak, and I see the corruption. The Church is sinful because it is full of sinful men, including me. And yet it is divine, indeed perfect. However like any human institution, when you give man absolute power, they'll abuse it absolutely. And that is what's happening now. The laity have forgotten that we too are part of the Royal priesthood, we've handed over our anointing and sealing of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Sacramental priesthood, and when you do that, when both stop working together, corruption happens.
I understand the point you're trying to make, but personally I cannot view it in that manner any longer. As long as we use that line of reasoning, it becomes an excuse for doing or not doing what Christ told us to. Again, I "get it" from a theological perspective, but from a practical perspective, I don't "see it"...if that makes any sense.
#33 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-06-18 13:03
Why would you wear out your welcome? Strong opinions are perfectly welcome here, as long as they're well-reasoned.
I don't know how a married episcopacy might be implemented — certainly, it would have to be done in consultation with the wider Church so as not to provoke a schism. I see no reason, though, to regard it as an example of becoming "conformed to this world," considering how early a tradition it is. There are some secularized Orthodox who support the idea of married bishops, not for practical pastoral reasons, but because they can't stand the idea of celibacy. But that is their problem, not ours.
What the writer was referring to as regards the Episcopalians, it seems to me, had nothing to do with doctrine but was exclusively limited to the sexual morality of their (heterosexual, obviously) married bishops. Now, maybe married Episcopalian bishops cheat on their spouses with the same regularity that our bishops get blackmailed .... and grope cocktail waitresses. Hard to know — but it does seem unlikely. After all, this is the very reason that clergy in the world traditionally must be married (rare exceptions, such as saintly missionaries, aside). ....
If our bishops were true and exceptional monks — as they ought to be, considering all the temptations of the world and of power — this would not be an issue. But they have not been, on the whole, because we lack a decent supply of such men. I don't mean to imply that most or all of our non-monastic bishops are degenerate — but candidates are undeniably rare, which means that good candidates are extremely rare. And creating more monasteries, while important, is not going to answer the Church's needs for a long while.
These are practical issues, and if we don't address them I fear we will face decades of low-talent, worldly "career archimandrites" ascending thrones they have long coveted — secure in the knowledge that there is barely anyone else who qualifies.
#34 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-18 14:05
Given the recent decision regarding the Diaspora, of which I am NOT a part, we would hope the Holy Synod would place our Bishops on an equal footing. How can one be a diaspora after 3, 4 or 5 generations on this soil?
#35 anon and anon on 2009-06-18 14:35
Judging from the appeals and events I've come across in recent months, I've concluded that the average household income in the Archdiocese must be around $500,000. Our weekly parish bulletin has been filled with fundraising appeals for Gaza and Middle East evangelism efforts, all with the proviso that the minimum contribution is $400. Membership in the Order of St. Ignatius is $500 or more a year. I have in front of me the June issue of the AOCA magazine, on the back of which is the schedule for the yearly convention in Van Nuys. If a married lay couple without children attended and paid for all the relevant events, it would run probably $1000 without even beginning to consider lodging and travel expenses. Is all this really necessary?
Am I the odd man out here, or are large numbers of Antiochian Orthodox Christians being left out in the cold? How much more money could have been raised (ostensibly, anyway) for charitable projects had those who couldn't contribute $400 or more been allowed to contribute something smaller?
It looks to me like AOCA is, among other things, bringing itself into condemnation by violating James 2:1-13.
#36 Edmund on 2009-06-18 19:48
Cappy, you ask: "Why should anyone take seriously a priest who can't even stand up for his own opinion and sign his name?" Yet you have never signed your name to your own story. No one can depose you or transfer you, uprooting your family and throwing the people who depend on you into chaos. In this situation, the clergy are the victims. They've seen what Metropolitan Philip can and will do out of revenge. If they speak out, they are putting the well being of their families, as well their entire parish on the line. If one wants proof of how Metropolitan Philip has terrorized this Archdiocese, one needs only to look at how frightened people are about speaking out . . and with good reason. I have spoken out and because I used my own name, I was threatened with criminal prosecution and my personal safety, as well of that of my family, was put in jeopardy. It's already cost me. Not just in physical damages, but spiritually and emotionally. I had to leave my parish out of fear that Metropolitan Philip would retaliate against them. He has already called my priest and one of our deacons complaining about my "behavior," threatening to haul me into court for blackmail if they don't get me to "back-off." He often uses the court to accomplish his objectives, even though this is in direct violation of the Gospels. However, I would gladly take court over his thugs any time. You have no idea what it feels like to have someone break into your home and into your car just to deliver the message that you are not safe and to watch your back. - The priests are the victims here, Cappy. If you want to take a pot shot at the Church, go after the aggressor and leave the victims alone.
#37 G.S. on 2009-06-19 06:31
The reason the Holy Synod has gone into the FOURTH DAY of discussion regarding the AOCA of NA is division within the Holy Synod. A Division between those who want Canonical Order and Those who are in MP's POCKET.
Lord, have mercy! Let us pray that PROPER ORDER WILL COME OUT by the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
We will gladly cultiuvate a better relationship with Antioch when given a chance. We will gladly visit and welcome those who visit us.
We need persona and direct contact with Antioch.
Once again the problems we are facing is because MP manipulates all information going to Antioch and all communication coming to us.
#38 anon and anon on 2009-06-19 06:33
Why were certain individuals allowed to go to the Holy Synod meeting or to be there to influence the decisions?
If anyone should be there to REPRESENT our Archdiocese and the Dioceses, it should have been our BISHOPS.
Perhaps the issues could have been dealt with more swiftly and completely without this outside intereference.
Let us pray the Lord will rise up and scatter the enemies of His Holy Church.
#39 anonymous on 2009-06-19 08:03
I've been torn about the whole anonymity issue.
On one hand it allows people to be just plain mean sometimes and hurl things at each other they would never do in person. And some of the things that have been said in this forum and others are just that, mean and thoughtless.
Yet I also have a great deal of sympathy for Priests, especially, who would love to be heard and have interesting insights but really do have to think about children and families and the fact that outside of the Church a Master of Divinity Degree and a dollar will get you a hamburger at McDonalds. I get it and in my zeal for civility was certainly too harsh in my critique of anonymous posting. These are often good men thrust into a very hard place and I respect that.
For me I choose to print my name and my parish because that's what I feel I need to do, first to avoid the temptation to be a smart aleck and say harmful things and second because I feel this is how I, personally, must approach this. It's my choice and I respect that others, for their own reasons, choose otherwise.
My instinct tells me that no matter how the Holy Synod rules the next months, and maybe years, will be bumpy. Thoughtful, insightful, and reasoned words in these days may help take some of the struggle out of whatever is to come. That's my hope, anyway, and if anyone feels the natural kind of anger and frustration that can emerge from these times I hope they consider the option of posting their name so they can avoid saying things that make matters worse or fuel the passions that can be stirred in moments of disagreement.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
As of this writing, the most recently posted reflection on the Antiochian crisis (to which no comment thread has as yet been attached) points out that the problem in our beloved Archdiocese (and to a lesser extent in North American Orthodoxy as a whole) is not foreign bishops. I agree. The problem is the failure of hierarchs, foreign and domestic, to govern the Church in North America in accord with the Holy Canons, if not in letter (as indeed some aspects of the ancient canons are time-bound), but in spirit.
The bane of jursidictionalism itself, is grounded in the refusal of some, yes, foreign hierarchs to follow the canonical principle that the diocese of bishops not overlap. Various crises that have roiled +Philip's metropolitanate have happened by his disregard for the Holy Canons.
As regards finances, there are many priests raised to the "dignity of Economos". Might I ask which of them actually fulfills the office of Economos for Met. Philip as provided by Canon XXVI of the Holy Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon? Which of them "manage[s] the church business. . . that thus the goods of the church may not be squandered, nor reproach brought upon the priesthood. . ."? And if none does, oughtn't the Ecumenical Patriarch appoint a Steward (to English the word and give it its original meaning distinct from the modern 'dignity') to do the job under Canon XI of the Second Council of Nicea?
In Imperial times, the affairs of a diocese were simple enough that a single steward chosen from among the clergy was held by the Harps of the Spirit who sat in council at Chalcedon to provide enough auditing that "the goods of the church may not be squandered, nor reproach brought upon the priesthood". Plainly in modern times, especially with an archdiocese swelled to the size of a continent, any Economos doing his canonical duty would hire a team of outside auditors to ensure that "the goods of the church may not be squandered, nor reproach brought upon the priesthood".
Who's the Economos missing in action? The rumors intimations of back room dealing and misappropriation of funds, precisely because the lack of financial transparency in the Archdiocese provides a basis for them, true or false, are bringing reproach upon the priesthood. Of course, if no one is doing the job, then not only can Constantinople appoint someone to do it, but Met. Philip is "subject to the divine canons" for not having a steward.
If any object that this is a "dead canon", that it presupposes Roman finanical arrangements, nonetheless the intent of the Holy Fathers of Chalcedon is plain: financial accountability in the Church. Independent auditors are the modern analog of stewards. Let "Economos" remain a mere dignity, so long as we have independent auditors ensure that "the goods of the church may not be squandered, nor reproach brought upon the priesthood", or let us follow the letter of the canon, but in that case let Met. Philip's steward do the job the canon provides (doubtless needing the assistance of CPA's and auditors to do it). In either event let the accounting be public, as otherwise the purpose of the canon will not be accomplished.
#41 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-19 09:43
It really beats me how you can be as rational as you otherwise seem, survey the roster of serving Antiochian bishops in NA, and then say *good*, celibate candidates for the episcopacy are extremely rare. I am not looking for you to give us your personal ratings of each man on the list ... please ... but rather to take another look and tell us if you think good men are "extremely rare" among them. I don't think you can come close to saying and meaning that in all good conscience.
If your point is that good bishops are very hard to come by and we need to be careful, a big "amen" from me, but you don't need to exaggerate to make that point. And in fact the valid point is obscured by the hyperbole.
#42 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-06-19 11:42
First of all most all "Dept Heads" are volunteers appointed by the Metropolitan ONLY. The Youth Director (a Priest) & Christian Educ Chrmn (A Woman) are the only ones paid. That's how expenditures are kept low so the Met. can spend as he wishes, carefully getting what he desires, through 3 people. A "sham" of financial "leaders" two from the Trustees and one part time employee plus Bp Antoun. At the Conv. the laity are invited for 3 hrs to give their "input", rarely followed through. So much for financial "input". An outside audit is IMPERATIVE. The dam is open and contributions and "Order" funds will diminish. Ah, taxation without much representation - sound familiar!
#43 Anonymous Priest on 2009-06-19 18:08
Ah. Late as this reply is, let it stand for the record:
I was perhaps unclear: by candidates, I didn't mean actual candidates for election, but rather the population of celibate clergy in the AOCA. This population is pretty small (thus: rare). Of those, only a subset are qualified for the episcopacy as this is currently understood — having some knowledge of Arabic and fluency in English; being sufficiently educated, neither too old nor too young, willing to be consecrated, and so on (thus: even more rare). Of those , again only a subset are likely to have the talent and character to make good bishops (thus: "extremely rare").
Of course it is also the case that only a small percentage of married clergy would pass those filters — the difference is, we have a lot more married clergy than celibates.
I suspect that Met. Jonah's present troubles in finding potential bishops constitute a piece of history that the Archdiocese must learn from — or be condemned to repeat.
#44 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-25 14:32
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