Saturday, June 20. 2009
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Hmmm.... Interesting timing regarding this matter...
#1 R. Daystrom on 2009-06-20 14:05
Thanks be to God for +Metropolitan Jonah's eloquent, insightful, and astute survey of not only the history of Orthodoxy in America, but its canonical, scriptural, and theological implications as well!!! Again, this address proves what an asset a theological education is when applied by a person of prayer and love of God and neighbor!! I pray that this address will touch the hearts of those in positions who can further the cause of Orthodox unity in America, including +Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, +Patriarch Ignatius of Damascus, etc. I further rejoice over the practical suggestions of +Metropolitan Jonah, such as bishops, clergy, and people of the various jurisdictions in America concelebrating the Divine Liturgy together, and bringing about Orthodox unity from the "ground up!!!" May God grant His grace to all of us to make this unity a reality, to His glory and the glory of His holy Church and eternal Kingdom!!!
#2 David Barrett on 2009-06-20 14:14
The Ecumenical Patriarch in his prerogatives.....Oh, dear how long will this drag on and on. perhaps I'll take the speech of bishops more seriously when the Ecumenical Patriarch, writing from the Ecumenical City gets a go-ahead from the Ecumenical Emperor to do all those things. When the initials are on the paper we'll talk.
Can we also stop using the utterly meaningless "Pan" word to modify "Orthodox"? I decided years ago that anything with that useless phrase couldn't be taken seriously. Is there any history to the term beyond the last 30 years? Doesn't Orthodox stand alone as a useful word? If not, Pan adds nothing to it. Zero plus zero is still zero.
When a bishop writes about things that won't happen precisely because no one wants them to happen it's a waste of time. Some of the saddest things ever written are by Met. Kallistos Ware when he dodges a tough question by saying it would "Doubtless be on the agenda of the Great And Holy Council" somewhere off in the future. Like the ideas of the EP convening councils all over when Hell freezes over. No one has time to wait around for bishops to get that busy. Orthodoxy is pretty much Presbyterian, and thankfully so. All the work is done in parishes or it isn't done. You can't expect bishops to do anything until they're uncomfortable.
#3 Ba'ab on 2009-06-20 15:17
Thank you for this.
I don't know if this is the place to ask, but I've been hearing about Matthew Namee's talk regarding the "myth" of unity. Are you going to be posting that speech? I am interested in reading it. Thank you.
#4 Maria on 2009-06-20 21:57
I applaud these comments from Metropolitan Jonah and the vision they set forth. Unfortunately, this vision, particularly of conciliarity, is strongly opposed by many Orthodox bishops throughout the world and even within North America. For almost 40 years there has been a steady retreat from the impetus to unity and conciliarity created by the OCA's grant of autocephaly, and a destructive wave of attacks by the OCA's own hierarchy on the creation of a truly conciliar Church.
Whether we can learn from our past mistakes and move forward is still very much in question. Under normal circumstances, Metropolitan Jonah's remarks would be seen as very encouraging and grounds for renewed optimism. But the hour is late and the record, to date, is clear--so we need to collectively either put up or shut up!
#5 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-06-21 06:06
I said I would no longer post anything as I believe I have said enough already. But I feel compelled to share my sincere joy that Metroplitan Jonah is the voice of the OCA. He exemplifies what the American Orthodox Church WILL be someday and in many ways already is becoming. My perception of him is that he is not just an autocrat with a title, but someone who chose Orthodoxy himself and sees a future for our Church in America that is full of wonderous potential when it finally unifies. He is one of us...an American. Who chose to be Orthodox and doesn't long to live or re-enact his grandparents' life in far away lands. He realizes that the Orthodox Church doesn't belong to any country and that Christ doesn't favor the Greeks, Russians or the Antiochians. As I said before.... many old world traditions will contribute to our Church here as they are all beautiful. But we WILL have a church here that is truly representative of and preaching to Americans sooner or later. Lets pray that because of people like him it is made sooner!
Not worthy to be preaching to anyone, but sincerely hopeful that our Orthodox Church will no longer be hidden in this country,
#6 Scott Yonkin on 2009-06-22 08:52
I was thrilled with Met. Jonah's speech. As I listened to it, I just kept saying, "yes, this is right, this is the Gospel he's talking about". Other's keep refering to the hour being late, and I wasn't quite sure what that meant until today. But I agree......the hour is late. Time is running out. The Orthodox Church and it's current "population" is dying off. Within 20 years, without a united American Church, there will not be an Orthodox Church in this country, at least not for any practical purposes. I think Met. Jonah's suggestion of basically disolving all the jurisdictions into a NEW and united Church body is the most practical suggestion I've ever heard, as well as the one of the most humble, considering he'd no longer be considered "primate".....unless of course the laity voted him in. That sounds crazy to some I'm sure, but I believe it was St. Ambrose who was basically (and literally) dragged to the basilica by the laity to be made a Bishop. So it's really not that crazy and certainly not out of line with Traditional and ancient practices.
Met. Jonah gives me a little bit of hope, but I suspect the EP and the other "ancient" Patriarchates will squash that hope within a few weeks, for now....I'll pray for Met. Jonah and all the Patriarchs, including the EP, while I have the strength and faith to do so.
#7 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-06-22 12:14
I also thought that it was a masterpiece of analysis. He defined the problem, detailed the alternatives and stood firm in his conclusions. Metropolitan Jonah is showing himself to be a pastor, scholar, theologian and leader--all of the first order. I hope and pray that he will lead us out of this mess we are in, so that we can get on with the work of the Lord.
#8 Carl on 2009-06-22 12:17
Why do the majority of the parish priests (converts) and our metropolitan (convert) insist on wearing the black monk cassock, the ponytail, and the unkept beard. Priests do not need to dress like this to be "orthodox". The other diocese would take you guys a lot more seriously if you lost the "Rasputin is coool" look. Come on guys the Greeks, Serbs, and Antiochans don't dress like this in America--What makes you think you should?
#9 anonymous cradle Orthodox on 2009-06-22 14:14
It is really encouraging to seek a united Orthodox church in America.
But I think as KRT alluded to, it will take great effort. This effort should include the desire, will, and work of the other jurisdictions here in America, as well.
However, short of their effort, can we not start our own efforts, such as some of the ideas suggested by +Jonah and others?
We must start somewhere beyond the rhetoric. Let us move to unity through our actions, as well. +Jonah and others have put forward some suggestions so can we not do the hard work to move us in that direction?
#10 Patty Schellbach on 2009-06-22 16:45
Metropolitan Jonah’s speech is both reassuring and troubling.
His re-affirmation of the “kenotic nature” of the OCA’s autocephaly is a welcome retreat from the more confrontational rhetoric heard previously. It is a welcome return to the attitude of true “conciliarity” and conciliation expressed by the OCA’s founding fathers. Thank God for that.
On the other hand, Metropolitan Jonah’s persistent Russo-centric view of church history is a fatal flaw in his reasoning. As the Metropolitan admits, his view of history and canonicity does not resonate outside the OCA, which comprises a tiny fraction of the Orthodox population in North America. By its own statistics, the OCA is less than half the size of the Antiochian Archdiocese, and smaller than any of the Greek Metropolises. The Metropolitan’s views are simply irrelevant to the overwhelming majority of the Orthodox community in this land. While he may reassure his base of support within the OCA, his speech will do little to foster the unity of the Orthodox as a whole, which he states is his ultimate goal.
The Metropolitan’s review of Russian church history is well rehearsed but limited. He lauds the Russian Missionary movement; but fails to note that the indigenous language missions in Russia did not outlive St. Innocent. By the latter half of the 19th century these efforts were cashiered in favor of imperial Russification, a process that extended even to Georgia, whose church predated the Russian church by 7 centuries.
The Georgian Catholicosate was abolished. A Russian Metropolitan was installed. The Georgian language and liturgical music were banned. Ancient frescoes were painted over with the Westernized style favored in Russia. Ancient icons, such as the Khalkuli Icon of the Theotokos were looted and sold abroad. Indeed, in Georgia, this period is referred to as the “first persecution”.
There is an illustrative, although possibly apocryphal, story that circulates widely among our Georgian friends. This story states that St Seraphim of Sarov warned the Russian Tsar: “Georgia is the inheritance of the Most Holy Mother of God. Do not grieve the Georgians, or God will cause Russia to grieve.” According to this tale, the Bolshevik persecution of he Russian church was punishment for Russia’s “first persecution” of the Georgian church and nation. What is important to note, is that in the Georgian view, the Russians have been oppressive occupants and persecutors of the church for the past 2 centuries; during the Tsarist times, during the Soviet era, and continuing into the present Putin era.
To put it simply, Russia, and the Russians, are neither admired nor loved by their neighbors. On the contrary, the Russians are feared, despised and loathed. The Russians are still oblivious to this evident reality. This is why the Russians cannot accept the reality of an Estonian church for Estonia, a Ukrainian church for Ukraine. This is why the Moscow Patriarchate cannot be the vehicle for the establishment of an American church in America.
What is more, the Moscow Patriarchate has no moral authority to support the principle of defined territorial dioceses. The Moscow Patriarchate has established, staffed and funded a non-canonical “Autonomous Abkhaz Eparchy” on the territory of, and in the properties stolen from the legitimate Orthodox Diocese of Sokhumi, and its legitimate bishop, Meupe Daniel, who like his flock was driven from his home in the ethnic cleansing campaign of 1993. What is more, during the August war, bishops of he Moscow Patriarchate stood on the reviewing stand with the Abkhaz separatist leader, Sergei Baghpash, to “bless” the very tanks and missiles used to murder innocent Orthodox Christians in Georgia. This infernal blessing was televised in both Russia and Georgia. This is nothing less than blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, since this “blessing” makes God complicit in the murder of Christians! In occupied South Ossetia the entire Tskhinvali diocese has been destroyed. Bishop Isaia fled his cathedral residence just minutes before it was destroyed by the “blessed” Russian missiles. In April of this year the monks of the St. George Monastery in Kodori were evicted from their home at gunpoint by the Russian occupation forces. Who could possibly take the Russian church as an example of ecclesiastical propriety after this?
While the Moscow Patriarchate claims to represent 70 % of he Russian population, in reality less than 10% of the Russian population participates in the faith in any meaningful way. For more details on the current state of the church in Russia, I would recommend the astute article by Mr. Serge Schmemmann in the April 2009 edition of the National Geographic magazine. Does Metropolitan Jonah really believe that the Moscow Patriarchate can serve as a model of successful church growth given its pathetic performance in re-evangelizing the Russian nation?
The Russian nation is a decaying corpse. The Russian population is shrinking by 800,000 persons per year due to the low birth rate and excess mortality. Despite ten years of plenty, the average Russian man dies by the age of 61, a full two decades earlier than men in Europe, Japan or North America. Russia has the highest rate of alcoholism and drug abuse (predominantly IV heroin) in the world. Russia consumes 70% of the entire world production of heroin. Russia has the highest rate of HIV /AIDS outside of Africa. If the current trends continue, the Russian population will be reduced by half within a few decades, and the Muslim ethnic minorities will be an outright majority of Russia’s population. Given the Putin regime’s blatantly racist rhetoric, the rampant hate crimes against minorities, and the massacres in Chechnya, a cataclysmic day of reckoning is inevitable. Indeed as the BBC report below shows, the Muslim insurgency in the North Caucasus is still simmering just below the surface.
If Metropolitan Jonah wants the OCA to be a part of the future of Orthodoxy in America, he will need to look elsewhere for an example of success. What missionary work has the Moscow Patriachate done in the past century and a half – aside from establishing its illegitimate Abkhaz Golem? None. The actual missionary efforts of this century: in Africa, India, Indonesia, and Albania have all been efforts of the church of Greece, the church of Cyprus and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “By their fruits shall ye know them”
I am very sorry to rain on the historical hit parade; but its time to get real !
The president of the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia has been wounded in an assassination attempt, apparently launched by a suicide bomber.
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov is said to be in a critical but stable condition in hospital, with head and chest injuries.
Reports said one bodyguard was killed and several others were wounded, after a car travelling at high speed rammed the president's vehicle.
Ingushetia, which neighbours Chechnya, has seen violence soar recently.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called the attack, in the city of Nazran, "an act of terror".
He has ordered the interior ministry and the Federal Security Service (FSB) "to fully investigate the attack on the Ingush president's life and to take all the necessary law-enforcement efforts", presidential press secretary Natalya Timakova said.
The attack was launched at about 0820 (0420 GMT) as the president's mtorcade passed, carrying him to work, an official told Itar-Tass news agency.
The brother of the president was among at least three bodyguards injured in the attack, he said.
Witnesses said they saw a 4x4 vehicle - apparently the president's - on the road with broken windows and bodywork damage.
The charred shell of another car - presumably the bomber's - lay at the bottom of an embankment.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it seems probable that it was carried out by Muslim separatists fighting against Moscow's rule in Ingushetia, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow.
Monday's attack is the third on a senior figure in Ingushetia in as many weeks.
On June 10, gunmen killed the deputy chief supreme court justice in Nazran as she dropped her children at a kindergarten.
Three days later, the region's former vice prime minister was shot dead outside his home in Nazran.
Hundreds of refugees from the wars in Chechnya have settled in Ingushetia, a mainly Muslim republic, which is itself one of Russia's poorest regions.
The insurgency in Chechnya has largely been suppressed, but the violence has spilled over and now seems to be escalating in Ingushetia and Dagestan.
President Yevkurov, a former paratrooper general, was installed by the Kremlin last year to try to bring stability to Ingushetia.
Mr Medvedev paid tribute to the progress made by Mr Yevkurov, saying: "The Ingush president did much recently both to bring order and... civil peace to the republic. The bandits did not like this activity."
#11 Francis Frost on 2009-06-22 17:30
Lots and lots of words.
Still no action on how the Orthodox will address the consequences of sexual abuse.
Turning and churning on these various tread mills of historicity in the attempts to move our minds away from the real problems of the legal fees and insurance consequences clergy sexual abuse has brought to the churches in America.
May the real Christian workers unite in the love of God and seeing Jesus in all people, and not more attempts to find a way out of the hot seat of civil and natural laws in reagrds to clergy sexual abuse.
Ephesians 5:6 (New International Version)
6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
It really is simple! Americans and other peoples want to run and have full control of their own churches. The "old country" patriarchs, with the Pat. of Istanbul leading the charge, want to keep America and others under their thumbs. This is no different than other rebellion against foreign dictators. The OCA since 1970, set up a format where all churches in America could have their freedom, but "old country" sympathies have prevailed.
Now, + Jonah is saying the OCA is willing to give up all for a new, unity of all the Orthodox with one stipulation - any new church organ MUST be an autocephalic church. Will the "Despotas" of Orthodoxy agree? Did Britain give up America without a fight?
#13 Anonymous on 2009-06-23 06:04
The empty words serve as a distraction from the issues gnawing at many orthodox believers, i.e., clergy sexual abuse, clergy financial abuse, lack of repentenance for these abuses. Before addressing lofty ideas, the very real problems must be addressed. Many orthodox have been turned off because of these problems. The OCA cannot move forward without numbers.
#14 Cradle Orthodox Too on 2009-06-23 06:36
I always read your posts with great interest, though I find them laced with an underlying anti-Russian tone that at times is offensive. That said, your specific examples are usually on point and should give pause to those seeking blessing and finding positive example in the Russian Church and its works in the present day. And as you accurately point out, the historical record is also very mixed.
Where I part company with you is in seeing the Constantinoplian Patriarchate as all that much better. Of course, for over fine hundred years it has not had the resources of the State to to persecute and oppress--thank God. Its methods must be more subtle, though its objective in no less expansive, and yes, Papal. How great are the seductive powers of the Enemy when it comes to promising the keys to the kingdoms of this world. And how sad!
#15 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-06-23 07:56
FYI--the Metropolitan is, in fact, a monk, and has a long track record as a very serious one, too. Yeah, it may be time for my thrice-a-year trim (getting warm, y'know--and the beard's staying, BTW), but HE gets a pass.
For myself, I can't make any pretensions about being "more Orthodox" via my beard, hair and cassock until my life is "more Orthodox"--it's just a comfort and perhaps a vanity issue here--but +MJ is garbed as he should be.
#16 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2009-06-23 08:11
Francis, you are joking right?
"The actual missionary efforts of this century: in Africa, India, Indonesia, and Albania have all been efforts of the church of Greece, the church of Cyprus and the Ecumenical Patriarchate."
What universe are you living in? I don't have the time or ability to respond to most of your points, particularly about Russian politics, maybe others will, but as far as I'm concerned that single sentence makes the rest of your post seem like nonsense. Of course, it wouldn't entirely be against the EP's stance to do missionary work in countries and Continents where indigenous Orthodox Churches already exist, like say in India and Africa. (which even if you don't accept the OO as "Orthodox", would fall under the EO Patriarch of Alexandria, and Antioch, not the EP) And why has no one else heard of these missionary parishes? Granted, the Church in Kenya might be an exception, but come on.....when you claim Russia and the OCA are not missionary Churches, but the EP and Greece are, no one is going to take any of your valid points about Russia seriously. I only say that because I agree with you, Russia is not my country nor my home land, and I don't care for Russian politics and I'm terrified that the OCA might be forced back under the MP. You make valid points, but then you claim something completely outrageous like the EP does missionary work. 'sigh' You're right, Russia is corrupt, but of course so was Byzantium, and so was Greece, and so was/is every other nation on the planet at one time or another. The Byzantines "blessed" their armies, and made "saints" out of brutal theocratic emperor/warlords. What's you're point? That nations are corrupt? That the Church is corrupt? Or that Russia and the Russian Church is, but not the EP? Please. The EP's office was bought and sold to the highest bidder in times past. Autonomy and self rule was bought at sold as well. How much more corrupt can you get than the EP only granting self rule when Churches PAID them enough in gold and horses? This is Christianity? This is the Church? If we're just going to point fingers at each other to find out which Church and nation has or is the most corrupt, what does that do? The whole thing is a mess and instead of fighting over ancient canons, who did what to whom 500 years ago we need to look into the future. Like it or not, that is what Met. Jonah is attempting to do.
Lastly, you are also incorrect about the Alaskan Church, when you state they no longer have a Native Mission. That's completely untrue. Only in the last decade did the Church attempt to force a Russification, and priests like Fr. Michael Oleksa spoke out against such things. You can read his article on the matter on this website in fact.
Is it what it should be in Alaska? No, but they have always been, and still remain farther along than ANY of the EP's parishes are, and mine is pretty far along...but compared to where we should be, we can't touch the Alaskan Mission. Sorry, that's just the way it is, (the recent forced Russification aside)
#17 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-06-23 09:47
If the other dioceses are so shallow that they are influenced negatively by a cassock, I am not sure why I should give three hoots about what else they may think important.
#18 Scott Walker on 2009-06-23 09:48
A modest proposal: start your own blog devoted exclusively to the excoriation of all things Russian. Then you would not need to post endless screeds that are irrelevant to the issue being discussed here. Full disclosure-I am not Russian, and I think that Putin and Company are displaying many of the tell-tale signs of Fascism. I largely agree with you. But this is not the place to parade the Dark Side of the Russians.
#19 Scott Walker on 2009-06-23 09:58
I'm not drinking the same Kool-aid as most of the people that have posted here. Most of Jonah sounds like a Schmemman rip off with Jonah trying to glue it all together. Nothing really wrong with that I guess, except that God will not bless a genuine revival of the OCA, nor will this Church gain any respect globally until it cleans house and repents of the sins of pastoral, cult and sexual abuse by clergy, some still serving in capacities of responsibility.
Your Beatitude, many of us were victimized, many of us will follow this issue and expose it if it take a lifetime. Please deal with it, or we will have to select other avenues for remedy. While people still trust you, deal with it, and do it right.
To answer another post above, I suppose we would even let the clergy walk around looking like the abominable snowman IF THEY WERE MEN THAT KEPT THEIR PANTS ON, AND DID NO HARM.
Is that so much to ask????
#20 no name on 2009-06-23 10:23
I wholeheartedly concur with your assessment of the need for action beyond rhetoric! In fact, in many places, this has already begun. In our Diocese of New England, for instance, we have a group of lay and clergy people from various jurisdictions called FORCC, which stands for Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in Connecticut. It is pan-jurisdictional, and it is ministerial as well as social. They raise money for student scholarships for Orthodox kids going to college. They also purchase billboard space, proclaiming, "Christ is Risen!" at Paschatide, and have an annual dinner in the autumn with a guest speaker. Previous speakers have included Fr Thomas Hopko and Fr Chad Hatfield of St Vladimir's Seminary. This year's speaker will, God-willing, be +Metropolitan Jonah. There are other such gatherings of Orthodox Americans across the country. God is truly blessing us with His grace and love, inspiring those of His "royal priesthood" to work together to spread the Gospel here in America!
#21 David Barrett on 2009-06-23 11:17
I believe that any kind of unity is possible if people on all sides of the Orthodox spectrum learn to tolerate practices and preferences that might not be appealing to them. What we frequently tend to disregard is that people’s affection for Orthodoxy relies not only on their intellectual perception of the Faith but on deep emotional predilections that bring them a sense of comfort and appreciation. Such preferences are subjective, yet absolutely real and of great consequence. People are both rational and emotional creatures and both aspects of human nature must be taken into account. This means that they may favor different expressions of Orthodoxy depending on their backgrounds and past life experiences. As long as those expressions are tolerable, we need to learn to live with each other without making demands and putting each other down. This also means that some may find the Rasputin look cool simply because it appeals to them. I would only insist that no one can demand that you look like Rasputin, but then you need to learn to put up with other people’s preferences.
Metr. Philip opted to adopt what he considers to be a more appropriate contemporary style and it did not seem to solve problems in his jurisdiction. In fact, there is a strong longing among many Antiochians, including converts, to return to more traditional practices, as their current crisis has revealed.
I think one of the most serious obstacles toward unity is this constant bickering and badmouthing of other jurisdictions. “Traditionalists” believe that the intensity of Grace is contingent on the length of beards, decreases if a priest wears a clerical collar, and departs when a church is on the same calendar as those “godless Catholics and protestants”. “Modernists” seek to thrust aside with astonishing ease centuries long practices completely disregarding the catholicity of Orthodoxy, seeking to unilaterally adopt major changes, such as married episcopate, or proclaiming monasticism archaic and worthless. Both lists can go on and on and this nonsense has to stop. As long as jurisdictions are in Communion there should be at least outward respect for diverse customs. After all, intercommunion is the ultimate criterion of tolerability of different practices.
At present it seems like the Antiochians and the OCA share most common ground and are willing to respect each other’s existing practices. I truly hope that this merger can occur.
#22 Karina Ross on 2009-06-23 11:48
Good points regarding the EP. The unilateral decisions bringing about the atrocity of the new calendar and the pulling of the anathemas on Rome speak volumes about the EP. Anaxios.
#23 yanni on 2009-06-23 17:34
A General Reply:
First, I am hardly joking. The victims of the Russian aggression are relatives, kum (medjuarebi) and friends. Their deaths, their injuries and dispossession are hardly laughing matters to me, my family or the Georgian American community at large. For that matter, these horrific crimes ought to be a matter of concern to ALL Orthodox believers. The fact that Orthodox hierarchs, clergy and layepeople are willing to close their eyes and their hearts to the tragic fate of fellow Orthodox Chrisitians is absolute proof of the general apostacy and debasement of our faith. There will come a day of judgement and retribution for all of this; and THEN people will lament and sorrow over sin -when it is too late!
I'm sure it's much more fun and satisying to indulge in dreams of the glorious Russain Empire and "Holy Russia"'; but reality will eventually slap you in the face.
It might shock some of our Russophilic friends; but the prophetic voices in Russia have all warned of the coming catastrophe. The blessed Schemanun Makaria of Temkino repeatedly warned of Russia's future. On one occasion a Metroplitan asked her: "Matushka, can our Russia be saved? Her reply was: "Russia will turn to salt". We can now see the truth of this prophecy. Russia was given it's freedom from communism and was given a decade of proesperity. What happened? A return to totalitarianism, militarism and moral decadence. Having escape Sodom, they turned back like Lot's wife, and this is why "Russia will be turned to salt".
The contemprary spiritual Father, Archimandrite Rafael, the retired dean of the Aleksandr Nevsky Lavra, lives in Tbilisi, where he has many spiritual children. During the August war, Father Rafael was seen daily in the church on his knees begging God to forgive the Russians. He has asked all his spiritual children to pray for repentence in Russia, for without repentence, Russia will face "a cataclysm".
As regards my antipathy to "everything Russian", I was a part of the OCA before it WAS the OCA. I have been a member of th church since childhood. I first learned the Liturgy in Slavonic. My family spoke the Russian language at home, and we still do. Perhas that is why I have more access to the real story of modern Russia. We have relatives in Moscow, Petersburg as well as throughout Georgia who tell us about the real situation there. I have nothing but fond memories of the kindly elders of my childhood; but that does not obligate me to hail the Putin dictatorship or his clerical acolytes.
It is no joy to me to "execrate" Russia; but sometimes tough love is the only true love. Russia is headed for disaster, and the primary victims of the Putin regime are the Russian people. They are furthermore victims of the leaders of the Moscow Patriarchate, who have consistently proved that they love Mammon more than they love God. (see the article posted on this web-site last December detailing he financial scandals in the MP).
What is more, the Moscow Patriarchate not only "blessed" the weapons of mass destruction used in the war against Orthodox Christians in Georgia; in 2007 priests of the Moscow Patriarchate "blessed" the latest production of nuclear armed missiles pointed at America, and at our children. What kind of selling point is that for those who want to bring Orthodoxy to the American people? "Join the church that wishes your children incinerated with holy nukes! " Now, there's a great slogan for your outreach department.
I grew up in the OCA and wish it only well. Let's be honest. A simple review of this web-site should let you know all is not well in Syossett! The OCA is in big trouble - trouble directly attirbutable to arrogance and delusions of grandeur.
I hope and believe that Metropolitan Jonah means what he says about conciliarity and the unity of all the Orthodox in this land. If he does, he needs to change his tack and do it in a hurry.
He needs to stop declaiming his seminary lessons as if his class-notes were written on the stones of Sinai. He needs to recognize the fragile and perilous situation that the OCA finds itself in. He needs to recognize that unity will not be achieved through public lectures, repeating worn out lessons of the past. The past is over and done.
The Metroplitan needs to put away the seminary lectures, open his Bible, and read the Gsopel: "When you are invited to a supper, do not take the first seat; mayhap someone greater than you will come... Take the lowest seat, and your host will see and call you to a higher place."
The Metropolitan needs to face the future, and embrace it with his fellow hierachs here in America. The forum to do that is SCOBA. The fact is; there are many in the GOA, the AOCA and the other jurisdictions, far many more than you might realize, who long for unity as much as any of you. Instead of pedantic lectures and confrontational speeches, His Beatiutde needs to reach out personally to his fellow bishops across the ethnic / jurisdictional divide and develop personal relationships, so that administrative unity might follow.
Unity of the Orthodox will not come about as a result of a decree from on high, not from Moscow, and not from Constantinople. Unity will be built from the ground up, by faithful Christians here in America, until the "powers that be" simply take notice and recogize what already exists. To put is simply, if you want unity, work for it yourself!
I've said it before, I'll say it again.
It's time to get real. It's time to repent. It's time to apply the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
Best wishes to all
#24 Francis Frost on 2009-06-23 19:18
That is really very good news about these projects. I like the bill board project about Christ is Risen!
Perhaps an article about all the work towards unity could be written up in a series of articles for all three major jurisdictions' magazines!
Also when each major jurisdiction has their conference, all these efforts towards unity can be presented in a workshop and/or conference room area.
#25 Patty Schellbach on 2009-06-24 08:32
I believe our focus should always be on what Christ is asking us to learn. Maintaining respect for all the small t traditions, Christ has asked us to, in Matthew 28:16-20 The Great Commission, to baptize all nations in the name of the Holy Trinity, teaching them "to observe all that I have commanded you..."
When I walk into an Orthodox church and I then hear half or more of the service in a foreign language, I become greatly discouraged that the Orthodox are really following the Great Commission. I wonder what any visitor thinks and wonders if they even realize they are in a Christian church.
I believe that meaningful Christian Evangelization has always included teaching a people about the Christian faith in their own language.
The ancient history of the Orthodox has brought right with it into the 20th Century the ancient rules and rituals from the Byzantine era and before, such as black cassocks and long beards and hair. While this may be what we all observe and tolerate within our faith, proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel must be our priority.
Can we say we really do this when I continually walk into Orthodox Churches hearing half or more of the service in a language I don't understand?
#26 Patty Schellbach on 2009-06-24 08:46
Francis, you obviously did not read anything I wrote past my first sentence. I, we ALL realize the corruption in Russia is no joke. We also realize the corruption in ANY nation, including the United States is no joke. And we know that what Russia did in Georgia isn't good, but what does any of this have to do with the OCA? The OCA is autocephelous, (or however you spell it) and I don't think ANYONE on here wants the OCA to go back under Moscow, or be Russified. You need to go back and READ what everyone has said, we even said that we agree with you about Russia, but Russia is not the only nation with blood on their hands, nor is it the only Church with a dark history and even a dark present. I refuse to turn this into a debate about secular politics, but trust me, the EP, the GOAA etc are NOT clean from corruption, whether it's in the Church, or in secular politics, or in blessing military weapons. This was one of the hardest things I had to deal with as a Catechumen and you're right, it's wrong, it was wrong 1000 years ago, and it's wrong now. But that's not the issue at hand. The issue is the Gospel. The Mission in the New World is what is at stake. The Old World, including Greece and Russia has the Gospel, and what they do with it, is up to their free will. But they don't have the right to lock up the Gospel in dozens of "jurisdictional" factions all to be worked out in SCOBA which I'm sorry to say, does absolutely nothing.
You're right, there are many people under the EP who want unity, I am one of them. I am NOT in the OCA, but the GOAA. And yet, I believe it's time the EP give up his "control" and let there be a united Church in this country. This is the debate that is going on, not Russian politics. You raise good points, but that is not what we're discussing. And even if it was, what is the point in bringing it up? What are you saying? That the Orthodox Church is too corrupt to be united? Or that unity must "flow" from the EP? Just what is your point? We get it, Russia is "bad", but so are a lot of nations. Are you saying that uniting Church and state is wrong? I agree 100%! But my friend, taking the EP's side is not going to win THAT argument. The See that was founded by Constantine the Great, the See that for 1000 years was very center of the absolute union of Church and State. And for Greece, Greece's official religion is Orthodoxy...you cannot get any more merged in the modern world than that, save returning to a flat out theocracy.
And trust me, there are plenty within and under the EP who want exactly that, even some crying for a the revival of the Byzantine Empire. (just as some Russians want a return to the Russian Empire) You're right, it's wrong...it's un Christian, but why bog down a discussion that has nothing to do with any of that?
Met. Jonah's address specifically stated that we have to figure out how to have a Church without an Empire. Did you even listen to it or read it? When has the EP ever said anything denouncing a return to an Empire?
In one sense I agree, union will never come from the top down, and that is what Met. Jonah's address basically said. We have to work together...and I think you're stance on Russia and world politics is admirable, but every argument has it's time and place. You'd do your position much better if you didn't use a debate about unity to declare your POV. It's not that I so much disagree with you, but that I disagree with using this discussion, to get your point across. You don't here me on here declaring my opinions about unity with Oriental Orthodox, or which chanting style we should use, or my opinions of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict...all of which are important issues, but not directly related to THIS topic. Maybe you should start a blog, because I think it might suit your arguments better.
#27 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-06-24 09:10
I agree. The OCA needs to make cleaning its own house a priority. There is lots of work to be done, particularly in the area of sexual abuse and misconduct. The Sidebottom case pointed out the problems with the current guidelines, but what is worse is that even the flawed policy is not being applied. Is this the kind of church you want?!?!?
Melanie Jula Sakoda
This is so Protestant an observation, one would laugh -- except that there are people who actually believe that the Church should divest itself of legitimate traditions (such as proper clerical garb). Scary times here in America. VERY scary.
#29 Antonia Colias on 2009-06-24 09:36
Your comment confused me greatly.
What is Protestant? The Good News and Gospel?
If this does not belong to the Orthodox nothing much else matters.
#30 Patty Schellbach on 2009-06-24 11:47
The webmaster placed my response in the wrong position. I was replying to the individual who wants Orthodox clergy to wear "dog collars" and to appear indistinguishable from Protestant ministers, rather than to dress as priests do. I don't know why my response was appended to yours.
#31 Antonia Colias on 2009-06-24 13:14
I’ve been traveling to Georgia yearly since 1990 and will soon leave on my 19th trip. I am blessed!
Francis, yes, it’s a sad fact that from 1811-1917 the Georgian Orthodox Church was under the Russian Patriarchate, its own ancient autocephaly (as granted by Antioch in the 4th century) abolished by Russian authorities in 1811. During my trips I have seen many churches where Georgian frescoes were whitewashed, Russian frescoes and icons (generally very western – the “style” of the time) installed.
Coming up to modern times, (especially since Putin) I cannot understand the position of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate vis a vis its elder sister, the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate. I know Meupe (Meupe = Vladyka) Daniel very well. Indeed, he was expelled from his Diocese of Abkhazia along with his flock in the as a result of the ’92-’93 armed conflict. The Georgian Orthodox Church wants to minister to its flock in this diocese, but have been thwarted at every turn, the last gross action being, as you state, the expulsion of Georgian monks and nuns from a mountainous area (Gali/Kodori Gorge), where the Russian forces and their separatists continue to persecute and drive out the Georgian population. This spring His Holiness Ilia II (Catholicos-Patriarch of Mtskheta and All Georgia) expressed His strong desire to visit His diocese of Abkhazia, but both the uncanonical clergy of the so-called Abkhaz Church and the separatist Abkhaz government answer with lies and refusals.
I am quite disturbed by the lies that have been published about both His Holiness Ilia II and the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate on the Interfax-Religion site from Russia (http://www.interfax-religion.com), heavily used by the Russian Patriarchate. This website purports to report facts, but publishes much spurious material. (To find stories about Georgia, you generally have to go to the Russian version of the web page, go to the “CIS” pages and to Georgia.) They quote schismatic clergy in the territories of Abkhazia and South Osssetia and propagate lies. This is not Christian behavior.
I’ve also gotten to know Meupe Isaiah from Tskhinvali. His flock that has remained in and around Nikozi (So. Ossetia) lives in danger. Since the spring, when he travels from Tbilisi to visit his flock, he has to ask permission of Russian troops to enter the territory – part of Georgia!
Does our church speak to the Moscow Patriarchate about the situation in Georgia? As we are fed by the traditions of our Church, its ancient patriarchates, its many martyrs, do we remember the suffering flock of Georgia?
O Lord, save Thy people!
My response on the Rasputin wannabees struck a chord with many. If you are an Orthodox priest in Russia, Greece, or the Middle East a beard, ponytail, and a black cassock are the cultural norm of how a priest presents himself. A man who is born and raised an Episcopalian in Ames Iowa and converts and becomes an Orthodox priest does not need to grow a ponytail, wear nothing but black monk cassocks in public and grow a beard to minister the Orthodox faith. These priests are not adhering to a cultural norm in the United States and are isolating themselves from a public that shakes their head at their looks and atire. That was my point. If you are offended-my apologies.
#33 anon cradle orthodox on 2009-06-25 09:41
Now I understand what you said.
Thanks for your clarification.
#34 Patty Schellbach on 2009-06-25 09:57
We are in the post-cultural norm phase of American "culture". Here in America we are what we want to be and are not constrained by "cultural norms" to adhere to one groups definition of what is acceptable public attire. If all of us have the freedom to dress as we please, I think clerics should have that freedom as well. That freedom includes the freedom not to look "priestly" outside of Church events, and conversely the freedom to grow long hair, long beards and wear a cassock all the time. Or are they not free to make their own decisions? Are they not free in Christ to dress according to their conscience?
#35 Anonymous on 2009-06-26 10:18
Do you mean post modern? Your thesis is weak. Does the president of the US wear a dashiki when visiting dignitaries? Does he break out the leggings, waistcoat, and wig because hey that's how his predecessors dressed? Do male teachers wear speedo bathing suits to work because they are comfortable? My point deals with how OCA priests and bishops look in public. They are not approachable by non orthodox people when they choose "the look"-- black cassocks, beard and ponytail. Do we want to evangelize or do we want to pretend we are in a Potemkin Holy Russia? Met. Philip did a wonderful thing by having our Antiochan priests blend into communities instead parading around in monk's cassocks in public. I urge the OCA to do the same.
#36 cradle orthodox anon on 2009-06-28 14:47
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