Tuesday, June 23. 2009
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The difference is of but one letter - and as Orthodox Christians know, one letter can make all the difference.
Mark, why would you assume that numbers in the fax header were removed? Some people don't enter that information into their fax machines — or, if the source was indeed not the Patriarch's office, it may have been deleted from the machine's memory before transmittal.
I think you should at least qualify the charge in light of this. Whatever else may be said and must be asked, it is not necessarily the case, from the evidence before us at present, that the documents were altered by any party after being received from their origin.
(Editor's note: If you examine all the other patriarchal faxes over the years, contained in teh Timeline, you will see all the headers are there. That this one is not is most suspicious. And I did mention the possibility you infer - that they were changed before Englewood receieved them. The question then becomes: where did they come from, and does Englewood know? And when did they know it?)
#1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-23 11:40
Wouldn't a lot of this be cleared up if the Patriarchal website also published this document? I could not find it there.
(editor's note: Not just one document - but all three if they are authentic. If it just published the undisputed text, it would clearly suggest the others contained interpolations in the text.)
#2 Fr. Stephen Lourie on 2009-06-23 11:44
Do either or both Arabic versions have the "and affirmation of" clause?
#3 Steve Knowlton on 2009-06-23 11:48
This state of affairs is unbelievable. It has only made matters worse, and the people of the North American archdiocese deserve adequate explanations from Englewood and not later, but NOW. What a sad day for the Antiochian Church in America.
#4 anon on 2009-06-23 12:00
It is sad that, for lack of a better term, a "Kondratick-type" of deception is being parlayed to our Orthodox brethren in the AOCA by Englewood! These deceptive faxes, with their substituted letters, backwards commas, different fonts, and removed or incorrect headers, are parallel to Kondratick having boxes of incriminating evidence removed from the OCA Chancery. It seems it is more than time for +Philip to either step down or be removed (a la +Herman), and to let a more prayerful and godly man such as +Bishop Basil take his place (a la +Metropolitan Jonah)! May it be God's will to let the Holy Spirit bring this to fruition!
#5 David Barrett on 2009-06-23 12:13
the Ochlophobist (one of the better Orthodox bloggers) posted on this yesterday here...
Metropolitan Philip's action reminds me of a child caught lying who, instead of choosing repentance, chooses to keep lying in an attempt to cover it up. He has carefully avoided getting his own fingers dirty, but his fingerprints are all over this. If he is truly the Metropolitan, then he has no excuse for permitting this kind of garbage to be posted on the Archdiocesan website, scandalizing the Church and sowing the seeds of confusion and dissension. To claim innocence successfully, he should have first checked with the Patriarch to see which version was, in fact, official. His permitting this posting announces his complicity in a scheme to dupe the Patriarch and the Holy Synod. And he dares lecture us about obedience? This is not the first time he has slapped the Holy Synod in its face; God willing it will be his last. ANAXIOS!
If the Holy Synod will not depose him, the people of the Archdiocese should demand his retirement. If he refuses to retire gracefully, the people should refuse to pay him any longer. Let the people pronounce loudly: ANAXIOS!
#7 Silouan James on 2009-06-23 12:17
These are all very good questions, Mark. The text is a forgery. For some people, there are few bounds to the duplicity that is allowable to maintain power.
The defenders of Metropolitan Philip's meglomania are going too far. Forging documents, threatening people, and banning them from internet sites is not the way to sustain Christian life. Metropolitan Philip MUST GO NOW!
#8 Phileas (From the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest) on 2009-06-23 12:40
Even without the falsified documents, we have become too cunning in our reading to hear the truth. Let the Patriarch speak. Why should Bishop Joseph speak against the words of his Metropolitan? We should not expect a careful document by a Holy Synod to directly there address personnel issues. Now, this needs to be addressed because things are worse. Though the intent of the Holy Synod was good, it has been used for evil. Again, let the Patriarch speak.
#9 Monologistos on 2009-06-23 12:44
if this is a forgery, it's almost as good as a kid giving the teacher a note saying "please excuse timmy from class. he's sick. signed, timmy's mom."
perhaps they could get the message across if they just inserted the word "auxiliary" a few more times.
-Rdr Mo, auxiliary reader, who reads only at the pleasure of the Archreader
#10 Rdr Mo on 2009-06-23 12:45
I said this a few days ago, this is a case of "shake the dust from your shoes." It sounds "brutal" but it is of course Christian, words of admonition from our Lord and Savior.
This is worse IMO than Sergianism and Peter the Great which the Russophobes in the AOCA are quick to highlight along with "Westernizations" in the Russian Church in iconography and the words of absolution all the way to "all the problems in the OCA." This is worse than the ethnocentrism the AOCA obsesses about in the Greeks, though I have said it before I have never heard a Greek Orthodox Christian rant against other Orthodox Christians with their vehemence.
Frankly, there is no need to rant about the AOCA and Damascus.
They have placed their bet on an Arabic everyday word for "intelligence" which is related more to the connotation of "cleverness." And their cleverness has failed; it is sad and tiresome.
There is much talk in the AOCA about the Christian-Muslim dialog. It is time for the AOCA and Damascus to dialog with Orthodoxy... and the most basic sensibilties of ethics and communication.
No need to "get it right" again. No need to wait and protest. This earthly life is short.
Let THEM (the loyalists) figure it instead of everyone else like a team of detectives on CSI or Law and Order...perhaps theantiochian.com and antiochian.org foreshadowed the "official statement" and the "anti-official statement,' the "fax" and the "anti-fax."
#11 Steve on 2009-06-23 13:02
I would also like the answer to this. The English translation from the Archdiocese website says, in the first paragraph, "after long discussion and deep deliberation and affirmation of the Synodal decision of February 24". These two words do not appear in the English translation provided earlier on this (ocanews) website. What does the Arabic say?
#12 An Anthiochian parishioner on 2009-06-23 13:06
ANAXIOS! ANAXIOS! ANAXIOS!
Let him be deposed!
A FULL AUDIT MUST BE DONE IMMEDIATELY
#13 betrayed betrayed betrayed on 2009-06-23 13:07
We need an explanation/clarification direct from Damascus...it's "explanations" from Englewood that got us into this mess.
#14 JPS on 2009-06-23 13:08
Absolutely right. A teleconference (or better yet videoconference so both sides know who is in the room and who is speaking) between the Patriarch and ALL our bishops should be arranged IMMEDIATELY so all can hear, directly, what he wants to say. Enough of parsing terse Arabic statements of dubious lineage.
#15 JPS on 2009-06-23 13:16
DOES ANYONE STILL QUESTION THE WISDOM OF WITHDRAWING FROM THE ORDER OF ST IGNATIUS UNTIL THIS MATTER IS RESOLVED?
In fact no money should go to Englewood until there is accountability, ethically, morally and finacially.
Is MP's Condo in his brother's name?
Doesn't the Archdiocese make the payments?
Does the Archdiocese own a Condo in Englewood?
Who makes the payment?
Who lives there and why? Is rent shown on income reports?
Where does the money go for baptismal Certificates?
Where does the money go for reveiw of Divorce decrees?
Where does the money go for "Food For Hungry People'?
Does the timing of these distributions correspond to Holy Synod Meetings?
Perhaps it is time to realize MP MUST GO!
He MUST GO!
HE MUST GO!
Patriarch Ignatius help us!
#16 anon and anon on 2009-06-23 13:17
I have the horrible, sick feeling in my stomach that Bp. MARK has been set up.
I would like nothing more right now than to get as far away from the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America as I possibly can. Unfortunately, I don't think this is likely to happen any time soon where I am living. Trying to get a mission going under a different jurisdiction in the town where I live would be seen as an act of hostility, disobedience, and division, and there is only one parish for at least an hour in any direction.
This is a tragedy beyond belief. At least one good man and good father in Christ is having his life unjustly destroyed by this, and there is nothing we can do about it that will have any impact. My hope is that at the very least Bps. MARK (and BASIL?) will be granted canonical releases so that they might serve elsewhere rather than be "disciplined" (read "disposed of").
Metropolitan PHILIP ANAXIOS. Priests Antypas, Shalhoub, and the like -- ANAXIOI. How dare they drag Bp. MARK through the mud like this? How dare they show nothing but disrespect and contempt for him when he has done nothing to deserve it except serve the episcopate and the archdiocese as best as he possibly can?
And, quite frankly, either the Synod of the Patriarchate can't keep Met. PHILIP on his leash or they caved. Whichever way it is -- ANAXIOI.
Maybe a group of Antiochians will take Met. Jonah up on his invitation. I think the time has come for that to be an option on the table.
#17 Anonymous Antiochian Convert on 2009-06-23 13:18
Someone will have to be deposed for this. This is really gone too far.
#18 Flabberghasted on 2009-06-23 13:26
+Philip has to go. The people who are forging this stuff aren't even competent forgers, and they need to go too.
I'm furious. We aren't that stupid. Scripture may call us sheep, but Orthodox hymnography describes us as the RATIONAL sheep.
And even sheep can bring down a wolf, if they work together....
Yes, the second Arabic document differs from the undisputed original in more than just a single letter. The words و التاكيد عليه were added to the end of the first phrase, coming right after the date. The English version embedded that expression "and affirmation of" into the middle of the sentence.
It's interesting to observe that the changes to the Arabic document occurred through insertion of a phrase at the end of a line, and the change of a letter at the beginning of a line. Small changes, easy to make, easy to overlook. Unless people had a reason to scrutinize the text.
#20 Al Mu'min on 2009-06-23 14:07
ANAXIOS! ANAXIOS! ANAXIOS!
#21 Makarios on 2009-06-23 14:09
The Integrity of Orthodoxy within the Patriarchate of Antioch is certainly being challenged.
Heads need to roll. Hopefully the rights ones will be found! Once found we do not want them rediscovered a second and third time.
Anathema! Anathema! Anathema!
#22 anonymous on 2009-06-23 14:16
Bit of interesting news over on TheAntiochian (as for its veracity, who knows...):
More cowardly than anonymous coward says:
June 23, 2009 at 4:25 pm
Call the Archdiocese about the “official documents.” Kathy Meyer is now equivocating. She’s telling callers now that “Some of them came from the patriarchate, but now we’re finding out that some may be inaccurate.” She’s relaying that the water cooler talk in Englewood is that the documents were “tampered with” in Damascus (surprise) and to keep checking the official Archdiocese website for “a correction.”
#23 Heracleides on 2009-06-23 14:19
The people who are forging this stuff and promoting division in the Church need to be excommunicated post-haste.
Flee Antioch like Lot fled Sodom and Gomorah
Do not even look back as Lot's wife did!
#24 anonymous on 2009-06-23 14:19
Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. I thus felt the need to join my voice to the many others appalled at the apparent forgery of documents of the Holy Synod of Antioch. Having practiced law for nearly two decades, and spent time working in the chambers of a U.S. federal judge and U.S. federal prosecutor, I know a little about evidence, and what is credible and what is not. It truly appears someone in Englewood is spreading forgeries as truth. So please let me join my humble voice in protest. To whomever has had any hand in any of this, I also say, ANAXIOS!!
#25 Michael on 2009-06-23 14:26
First of all, I'm posting anonymously because I don't want any scandal to come to my parish priest because of what I'm about to say. The time will come shortly when I will not be anonymous--I have just finished booking my room and flight to Desert Palm Springs for the Archdiocese Convention. I will be there and intend to speak out. These forgeries and what they mean to the archdiocese are beyond disgusting. This is a criminal act against the Archdiocese, against the Patriarch, against the Holy Synod, and against the Local Synod. Furthermore, the third-rate job the forgers did on the two created documents insults the intelligence of everyone. This error is only exceeded and compounded by the forces that are in charge in this Archdiocese publishing and disseminating via the internet this garbage.
I am cradle Orthodox, with generations before me too numerous to count as members of the parishes in the Antiochian Patriarchate. There are members of my family, past and present, who have served the church at the altar as bishops, priests and deacons. I have served my church in various lay positions and am a member of the Order of St. Ignatius. In other words, I have big time roots. And this has shaken my faith all the way down to those roots.
I believe that there is no sin which cannot be forgiven, if only the sinner asks. I pray that those who have perpetrated this mess repent and ask forgiveness. I pray that all those, who by their words or deeds, have instigated or promoted the disruption or fracturing of the faithful, repent and are forgiven. It is too late, I am afraid, to believe that anyone could say or do anything before the Archdiocese Convention to put things back the way that they were and heal the divisions that have occurred since Feb. 24. With that, I think it is up to the faithful, the General Assembly of the Archdiocese to say, loudly and forcefully, "NO". We will not have these forgeries, lies, deception, and power grabs in our Church. Those of you who insist on doing it that way must leave or be deposed.
Members of the Archdiocese, do not let this be a convention by proxy, business as usual. Show up. Be heard. There are many priests who are troubled by this as well, as evidenced by their submissions to this and other blogs. Support them by your presence. Yes, it isn't cheap. But for our Church, it must be worth it.
And if we fail, shake the dust off our sandals.
If I have offended anyone, or spoken untruly, I apologize and beg forgiveness.
#26 Anonymous on 2009-06-23 14:56
I guess I'm the first woman to weigh in here, unless some of the anonymous comments were posted by women. (What's with the anonymity?) Since I'm from the weaker sex, I'll simply say, "I need a hero!" To read more, check out my blog post today: http://wwwpenandpalette-susancushman.blogspot.com/2009/06/who-loves-christ-i-need-hero.html.
"And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants." Exodus 9:30
Those with ears to hear, let them hear.
Birth pangs, these troubles are. Take heart, my Antiochian friends.
#28 James P. on 2009-06-23 15:06
Hey! Anaxios people chill, take a time out! Mark has asked reasonable questions, can we stop all the CRUCIFY HIM stuff and just pray and search for the truth, no matter what it is?? Don't prejudge, All these people were Byzantine long before they all got to America. The truth may be what you want after all, or it may be +Philip's or that of Damascus, or the more we all shoot off our mouths it may change. No matter what, I'm sure we won't like it in the end.....
#29 no name on 2009-06-23 15:17
Oh, it is highly suspicious — and the fact that the third page has no header at all? And then there are the apparent cut-and-paste artifacts pointed out by David Yetter. (Not that I think OCA News should suggest the same without the support of an expert.)
I did mention the possibility you infer - that they were changed before Englewood receieved them
Not exactly, as I read it. The only explanation you offer for the missing information is that it had been physically removed from a printed page . (That is, someone had cut it out, used white-out, etc.) You noted that this act could have been performed before the documents were transmitted to Englewood.
My point is that there might never have been any phone numbers printed in the first place — that the sender's fax machine might have been programmed not to send this information. That would be suspicious too, of course; my point is merely that it is a different thing , and that raising a question of forgery is something that must be done in a precise way.
Moreover, I do not agree that (as you seem to be proposing) the documents might have been sent by 1) Damascus to 2) Mr. Someone, who removed the phone numbers from the header and then faxed the results to 3) Englewood. The reason is that, as far as I know, every fax machine sends a header — including Mr. Someone's fax machine. So, if it were a fax of a fax, there would be two headers.
Of course, it is possible that Mr. Someone simply snipped off the entire header line from what he received, and then faxed the remainder of the page to Englewood — having also programmed his fax machine to send nothing where the numbers usually go. Then we would expect to see only one header; namely, Mr. Someone's. You don't appear to address this possibility.
That too would be a suspicious action in itself — and who's this Mr. Someone, anyhow? Again, though, I think it important here to sweat the details even of our own speculations
(Editor's note: Agreed. BTW, I did not use the term "forgeries". I asked whether they were better seen as clarifications, or falsifications. There are many ways a document can be a falsification, without being forged. The possibilties are endless - and I have no doubt the truth will be even stranger still. In these cases, it always is.)
#30 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-23 15:24
Bishop Basil received the same text as Bishop Mark. It was not just about setting up Bishop Mark, though there are those who like to threaten him and castigate his efforts as an Orthodox bishop.
#31 Phileas (From the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest) on 2009-06-23 15:47
Before calling for Met. Philip's head — or in any event expecting his beheading — consider this:
Even if the documents are forgeries, there is no proof that Met. Philip ordered them to be prepared or even that he knew of the deception.
Don't misunderstand me. I find it very difficult to believe that Met. Philip, with all his contacts, would not know the truth about something like this. I also can't imagine that anyone would have dared to do it without at least his tacit approval.
But neither the contents of my imaginations and suppositions, nor my ease or difficultly in believing a scenario, constitute proof, and proof is what you need to make such an accusation about a bishop and to call for a Spiritual Court.
Does anyone think that Met. Philip, were he to arrange something like this, would fail to ensure himself "full deniability"? If the forgeries were uncovered, the story would be simple to spin. Someone (some evil person!) faxed Met. Philip the documents, and he was fooled.
How could that be disproved?
(Editor's note: It is all a case of what did he know, and when did he know it. If he was informed the documents might be spurious before they were published, and still insisted they be published, that would be difficult to spin, no?)
#32 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-23 15:49
I have it on authority that I trust that the Patriarch has already repudiated pages 1 and 2 of Englewood's posted documents, and affirmed the Arabic text on the third page that corresponds to the English translation posted here, and on which Bishop Mark based his letter to his clergy. Pages 1 and 2 are forgeries (and childishly bad ones, at that--see my posts on other threads.)
If anyone has been set up it is Met. Philip, either by over-zealous supporters of his claims to neo-papal authority over the Archdiocese, or by enemies who want to make him appear as a rebel against the Holy Synod.
What is amazing is that whether through blind ambition or loss of mental faculties, Met. Philip allowed such a transparent fraud to be posted on the Archdiocese website.
#33 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-06-23 16:04
I consider myself proficient in both Arabic and English. I assure you the words "and affirmation" do not exist in the true Arabic version - document 3. The forged English translation (document 1) matches the forged Arabic version (document 2). I don't need to translate it again. Those who forged the Arabic original, did a good job translating it into the forged English one, including the addition of the words "and affirmation" in paragraph 1, the words "as his Auxiliaries" in paragraph 2, and "or any Auxiliary Bishop" in paragraph 3.
I have been a member of this Archdiocese for 41 years, ever I came to this country with my family, and up until now, I have been very proud to call myself Antiochian Orthodox, even though this is not the church I was born into. I pray that this too should pass and all who contributed to this disaster, repent. We are all sinners and if they repent, I am sure we will all forgive as the Lord has taught us in the Lord's prayer, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us".
Forgive me a sinner.
#34 Lucy Hanna on 2009-06-23 17:35
Believe me you will be called out of order at the P>S> Convention. Koory has been replaced and Ajalat (who lives in the limelight as St. Vladimir's Forum showed) will remain with is $30K donation to Met Philip each year (anonymously, no less!) All is NOW being prepared to be staged. A very proxy filled gathering, as usual, with "reports" (already printed and to be submitted) taking up 2/3rds of meeting time on Thurs & FRri. Purposely to take up "time". Hope your not disappointed! You'll need about $2K if your wife attends with you. Ticket books are $250.plus abd the Order dinner another $200. if your married! Good luck!
#35 Anonymous Priest on 2009-06-23 18:14
HEY SILOUAN AND HERACLEDIS KEEP THE RHETORIC DOWN!!!
Are you trying to incite the "ochlos"? If you don't like the station "change the channel". You and your ilk are not welcome where honest people worship. Go sow your seeds of division, rumors and self righteous threats elsewhere.
Who know what and when?? The conspiracy theories promolgated by this website and its editor are laughable.
#36 George from Brooklyn on 2009-06-23 18:27
1. The Patriarch should come to the convention. All discussions should be in English.
2. Forgery or not, the Patriarchate should post the Official English & Arabic documents on the Patriarchal web-site.
They met for 2 days after the June 17 document. If it was incorrect and they meant auxiliary, they should have not issued it and ran it through the shredder.
At a time like this, communication needs to be better and clearer.
#37 Anonymous on 2009-06-23 18:52
GivenKathy Meyer, MP's secretary acknowledged the documents to be illegitimate, why were they not taken down immediately?
Because it serves their purposes. They knew they were forged before they went up.
They are intentionally leaving them up to spread dis-information.
If I had beend revived twice and had a heart condition, I pray to God I would not lay my head to sleep with this on my hands and on my conscience.
#38 anonymous on 2009-06-23 18:53
George, we must all guard against temptation here, most notably the spirit of gossip and self-righteousness. Pray for me a sinner on both counts. But people here are connecting logical dots, and sadly the patterns they see have ample precedent. Who was more representative of "honest people" in the recent OCA scandals: this web site or those who decried its postings as mere rumor? What is the "honest" person's argument against more information about the faxes, or against an independent audit?
Anonymous #38, Ms. Meyer hasn't called anything illegitimate; she said there was talk around the office about possible problems with the documents. Let's not get a nice lady who answers the phone in any avoidable trouble.
#39 Also in Brooklyn on 2009-06-23 20:02
There is another difference between the third document and the first two. The third document says "From the Patriarchate" above "Issued June 17, 2009," while the first two simply say "Issued June 17, 2009."
#40 Basil on 2009-06-23 20:16
The paper switch and such is again a symptom and a sign we are looking in the wrong places for making decisions on
I prayed and saw the figure of Father Michael Mihalick and his wife Matushka Janet. Here is where we need to find ourselved united. I pray for this family and hope the funds needed for Father Michael and Matushka Janet Mihalick
323 Nees Avenue
Johnstown, PA 15904
will arrive soon to bring them the comfort they need at this time.
Father Michael has had severe Multiple Sclerosis forcing him into retirement in his 50's. The last I knew his wife, Matushka Janet was his daily nurse. I have not heard from them in some time. If it was not late I would call.
My spirit troubles me we have gone so far from the image of Christ. Those who do these "switches" have not the conscience of wrong doing.
To refind our image of Christ and the Church we must look at the suffering we share the suffering and unfairness Jesus was to suffer. Let us not look to imitate the Pharisees.
Lets us find in all the places where there is so much need today the way to unity through service and aligning oursleves with the Suffering Servant of Jesus Christ and being the hands of Jesus, the feet of Jesus, and not allow ourselves to be pushed into the cavern of vain glory and vanity of 'who is the first.'
St. Peter himself was first pushing for these special me first and Jesus reminded him of this place being already set ...
Let us mediate on the "faith" in the translations of "the Rock" given us by the Bible and Holy Scriptures and less on the men who are more interested how their pockets will be lined.
I am thinking and thanking God for Father Michael and Matushka Janet who helped me from homelessness and medical need with their most needed gift in the timing it came to save my work, ministry and and home.
I realize some may consider this "off topic" but where our heart is our treasure will be also.
Lets find our hearts again in the SS. Peter and Paul Fast and line up with those whose Hearts are for Christ and abandon these fractured fairy tales of illusion which is all in the wrong direction.
Yes, get the facts, notate the wrongs and then get moving to
do God's work. Please remember the suffering and remember the Mihalick Family with your prayers and gifts.
Trust me MP was not set up. Why did he put it up? Why does it continue to be up after the secretary acknowledged there were problems?
#42 anon on 2009-06-23 21:23
Honestly, you would think we still lived in the age of using a boat to relay a simple message. There is no reason with the current technology for all this mess. I wish we had an Orthodox TV Station like EWTN and the Patriarch could just say for himself what he/the Synod meant. The utter lack of quick and clear communication just seems to reinforce the fact that we need an American English speaking native born Patriarch over a united American Orthodox Church. Of course, the OCA seems to have just about that, don't they (almost)? Hmmm...
#43 Daniel on 2009-06-23 21:41
We have an Antiochian contender for the throne left vacant by All Caps Anonymous Guy! At least he knows how to use the shift key. But the contempt and disdain for those who want nothing more exotic than the truth is about the same as what we all came to know during the OCA's time of troubles.
#44 Scott Walker on 2009-06-23 22:35
First let me say that I do not post on other sites theses days, and never post without my identifying surname. Any Fr. Georges who post here or elsewhere without the surname are not me. And are probably quite content not to be!
I agree with the advice to the hue and cry crowd: "not so fast!" Time will tell us a lot more than we think we know now.
In the cries for fleeing, canonical releases and the like in the last day or so I hear exactly what some wise Orthodox Christians predicted would be heard someday when we evangelicals began to convert quickly and in greater numbers: that we were bringing with us to Orthodoxy a Protestant Reformational "phronema" - and were very likely to scandalize, or be scandalized, in the foreseeable future.
The root Greek word is skandalon and refers quite literally to something people trip over. What is it in these trials and tribulations that people of a certain mentality tend to stumble over especially hard and especially often? They would of course say "this or that wrong or series of wrongs, and/or this or that perpetrator."
I recall a passage from a favorite book, Montrose, in which the author, John Buchan, is describing what caused the English Civil War of the 1640s. In explaining the mindset of our Puritan forbearers, those folks in the first flushes of yeoman literacy and Christian zeal, and their resulting determination to "purify" both Church and state from, well ... impurities, and if that proved impossible, then to separate from one or both, Buchan wrote:
"The Puritan became, by his severe abstraction, a dangerous element in society and the State, since human institutions are built upon half-truths, opportunisms, and compromises. He was pre-eminently a destructive force, for he was without the historical sense, and sought less to erect and unite than to pull down and separate." In a footnote to the last-quoted sentence Buchan further observes: "The Puritan statesmen were often zealous collectors of precedents, but their legal antiquarianism was not the same thing as a sense of history." (p 26-27)
"A sense of history." The very nature of this medium - brief, broad and instantaneous communication lends itself so naturally to quick, non-reflective phrase-making - not to say the grinding of axes, or even the deceptive, anonymous shaping of public opinion through the "brouhaha method."
A sense of history. Those who have taken a little history and thought about it are cautious about shouting for heads to roll, let alone sharpening axes. They realize that a big rush into the field to yank out tares from among the wheat is far from advisable.
Those with a little learning, and far less experience or sense of history, like the pious peasantry of 17th century England, read some verses in the Bible, or some canons, or some anonymous accusations and reactivity on the internet, and, as Buchan diagnosed, by their very piety, abstraction, energy, and lack of that sense of history, become a powerful force for division. Add demons, time, and opportunities and you soon have a recipe for quarrels and divisions.
A sense of history is not a refusal to take action for good and change when possible. It is a refusal to rush into self-anointed action so quickly and zealously that damage is inevitable.
The lustier cries we read here seem so completely unshaped by that sense of history, so ready to take the separationist stands that Buchan warns us: stands that by nature will tear down and divide.
For me the Feb 24 ruling and the differing translations isn't the question, but rather, as it has always been, about how power is to be shared among those who worship, share the life of, and seek to emulate the Holy Trinity. I am not sure THAT can be be effectively put on paper, and can only be lived. But when people blow it and fight and separate from one another ... that is sure to get and fit on paper.
#45 Fr George Washburn on 2009-06-23 23:21
I have a question for those who have thought about a future American Orthodox Church -- how did you imagine it would happen? Was there an image of the bishops of SCOBA coming together, hammering out an agreement, communicating this to their respective home-countries who would agree to let this North American bird fly free? The bishops would put aside the ethnic and small "t" traditions for the future American Church? I'm not sure. Twelve years ago, a bishop point-blank declared that the parish he was writing to should not be a half-and-half blend of Orthodoxy but should fully embrace the heritage of it's archdiocese. There is no reason to suppose this view has changed.
It seemed always the case that there would be push-back, not only from overseas but from the bishops in the United States. Just imagine the situation. Say, the OCA, the Greeks and Antiochians got together and divided the country so that the current gerry-mandering does not occur. Almost every bishop would suddenly find themselves in charge of mostly parishes where the practices are unusual and they don't know anyone. This is probably not the optimal situation for them and one wonders why most of them would vote for this -- even if the home-office was in favor of it (a big if). The future Ecumenical Council cannot be counted on because there is no Emperor to force all of the bishops and patriarchs to come together -- if the Ecumenical Patriarch were to try that, he would be accused of yet another attempt to grab control by a fit of papal domination.
It seems clear, especially recently, that the American Orthodox Church will not be created (if it will be created) by an amiable agreement among men who generally have a great deal of control over their flocks. It seems that it will come about by strife and trouble and difficulty and protest and a growing dissatisfaction with the status quo. This will come from the ground up, not from the episcopacy who will, largely, try to pacify the laity. Perhaps there will even be depositions and excommunications on this road.
A danger here comes from the cradle/convert factions. This will not be a strict division, but there is a certain ease among the converts to change from, say, the Greek Archdiocese to the OCA. After all, they already, by definition, have thought differently enough so as to change their religious affiliation and so it is not so jarring for them to make a smaller change. In addition, there is not the long family history in a parish to be preserved. But, depending upon the behavior of the current administrations, even the cradle Orthodox can be moved.
This is where the OCA comes in. I can't see the Antiochian or Greek hierarchy merging with the OCA. How can this possibly happen? It seems like, if unity occurs, it will be by the laity voting with their feet ---- if the OCA shows itself to be the leader in American Orthodoxy. That will take time to determine and, as said before, depends on how the other Orthodox hierarchs behave. Long-term, it seems unlikely that people will flock to the Antiochian or Greek churches under the current circumstances. In thinking about this, the cards and the challenge seem to be in the OCA court -- they can make it or blow it.
What will Orthodoxy in America look like in 50 years? If we have the same divisions with the same relative populations then something would seem to be very wrong, quite dysfunctional. If there is one archdiocese, then which jurisdiction did this come from? What would be most likely? If this bloomed from the Antiochian Archdiocese, for instance, how could that possibly have occurred, how could that grow from the current situation? Now, understandably, we all can't behave in ways that conform to our future projections but we could realize that history may proceed on a certain path and that our current place is only a step on that path and not the end-point. Our Faith cautions us not to build our kingdoms in this world and put our trust in earthly work. We can work within our parishes to do the next right thing, but also realize that God can over-rule our best efforts to craft the future -- whatever we conceive that to be.
#46 Catholicus on 2009-06-23 23:28
This is obviously an Orthodox turn of events; it is nothing less than the Synoptic Problem revealing itself before our very eyes.
Certainly there is a Source, a "Q", that is the true origin of the Faxing Tradition before us. The question is not which is the True Fax, but to see how the Mind of The Church is expressed in it's fullness in *all three*. Christians with a true Orthodox mindset will find no trouble seeing the Tradition forming in our midst. Obviously a Fourth Fax, a Theological Fax, will eventually serve to ponder the meaning of the other three. It will be unlike the Synoptic Faxes, yet fulfill them.
#47 Ba'ab on 2009-06-23 23:41
The official statement of the Holy Synod has finally been posted on the Patriarchal website with a prefacing statements in English that authenticates the second Arabic version as the true version. (That would be document number 3 posted on the Archdiocese website).
Here is what they said word for word:
"To whom it may concern:
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East is willing to announce herein the final official statement that had been agreed and voted among the majority of the Holy Synod members during the recent Synodal meeting that was taken place at the Patriarchate in Damascus from 16 -18 1f June 2009.
The below decision represents the final official Synodal decision issued from the Patriarchate on June 17th 2009.
The Patriarchate wishes all readers not to consider any other version in Arabic language except the attached one that appears below."
That is it everybody! It's over! The decision is final and the bishops can go back to shepherding their dioceses as the diocesan bishops that they are.
God bless ALL our Bishops, Clergy, and Laiety.
PS Here is the link to the patriarchate page:
#48 Lucy on 2009-06-24 01:34
His Beatitude has issued the English Version of their decision and posted it on the Patriarchal website.
This one cannot be tampered with by Englewood and Detroit.
#49 Anonymous on 2009-06-24 03:33
Official statement of the Patriarch and Holy Synod is now posted on the Patriarchal website. All others are not to be considered. It is the same one that the diocesan bishops received and that this website posted.
#50 Anonymous on 2009-06-24 03:34
The Patriarchal Web Page has posted the Arabic text of the resolution with an English disclaimer. The Arabic text is the "page 3" version as found on the Archdiocesan Web Page.
The disclaimer reads as follows:
To whomever it may concern
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East is willing to announce herein the final official statement that had been agreed and voted among the majority of the Holy Synod members during the recent Synodal meeting thaw was taken place at the Patriarchate in Damascus from 15-18 June 2009.
The below decision represents the final official Synodal decision issued from the Patriarchate on June 17th 2009.
The Patriarchate wishes all readers not to consider any other version in Arabic language except the attached one that appears below.
#51 Hot off the presses on 2009-06-24 03:37
Keep your head in the sand, George..."Evil triumphs while good men do nothing"
#52 Antionymous on 2009-06-24 04:26
Take heart my friend! I, as convert clergy, know and appreciate the sacrifices and labor it took from you and your anscestors to build this church (composed of an archdiocese and 7 dioceses). Many years to you, and may the memory of your forefathers be eternal!
Through your efforts, and all of our love and prayers, God will right his ship. We must remember that it is HIS Church, and He is still in charge in the middle of this mess.
#53 Antionymous on 2009-06-24 04:37
Let me be one of the first persons to say you are not a liar or bad person.
The demonic theantiochian.com site now has a clear link posted to the Patriarchal site, not by the Admin of course.
The signatures are clearly different. No need to call in the FBI. They could only have been signed by the same person if that person had used their foot on the infamous (Auxiliary version, how stupid) or was on a morphine drip.
Not even the hagiography of Fr. Allen can save Metroplitan Philip this time.
It is indeed sad that this occurs during the Apostles Fast where apparently one interpretation in Englewood is fasting from being an apostle.
And as for "spin," tires spin as they leave a parking lot...or garage.
#54 Steve on 2009-06-24 04:46
Did the Patriarchate really say what is (hopefully was) on the Archiocesan website? In a word: *NO*.
Please forgive my insensitive words in my earlier comment, "What's with the anonymity?" I do understand the danger that might await priests and their families if they speak out. I'm just weary from the years of fear that many of us have lived through on this journey to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, where we thought we would finally find green pastures and protection from the wolves. It's always so tragic when the wolf is inside the fold. THANK YOU to the brave men who are fighting for us, whether you are on the front lines, or like many saints, quietly praying and refusing to give assent to untruths. You are in my (feeble) prayers.
this is certainly shaping up to be a case of "plausible deniability" by Met. Phillip. I sure hope my brothers and sisters in the Antiochian Archdiocese do NOT let the people involved in these forgeries off the hook. Call them to task. While I'm not Antiochian, we are all ONE Church and this is not only affecting one Archdiocese but people in ALL the American jurisdictions. Again, this is yet another reason we need, and must have ONE Church in this country, with us all split up into various jurisdictional factions, it makes it that much harder for the people and the clergy to hold our shepherds accountable, and frankly I think that's exactly how they want it. Pull together, do not let your leaders get away with this. This is an outrage, and if one jurisdiction can get away with it, much worse will come about in other jurisdictions. Stand up, fight, speak out, email, blog, write hand written letters to whoever you can think of, Bishops, priests whoever....when the Church begins forging documents ala the middle ages to "prove" this thing or that thing, it should be clear there is a serious problem that goes far deeper than anyone ever imagined. And no jurisdiction is safe from this. Just don't give up.....it took outspoken clergy and laymen to fend off the Iconoclast heresy, imagine if they gave up and just "moved on".....
My heart and prayers go out to all those in the Antiochian Church, its more than Church politics, this is about souls and our very faith, which it seems no matter which jurisdiction we're in, has been shaken to it's very core. But one thing that is comforting, and that this website has helped me see, is that we're NOT alone in this mess, and there are more people that think alike and draw the same conclusions than I first thought.
#57 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-06-24 07:45
I hope you're not suggesting that, in this matter, converts posting on the canons have been reading them like newly-literate Puritans. Just read the actual posts. Almost all of the posts are concurring with or amplifying points made by Bp. Basil and Met. George (Khodr).
I have, in other contexts, seen converts (and cradle, on occasion) guilty of the faults you describe. But I am tired of seeing the "protestant card" played every time people dissent, protest wrongdoing, or object to departures from our written tradition. The "Donatist card" too, for that matter. It's like the way some zealots for an American Orthodoxy wield the word "ethnophyletism" whenever anything Old World is found in Church life.
As to scandal, I suppose there may be an edge of Puritanism in some of the reactions to the latest revelations. But it doesn't require a "protestant phronema" to be scandalized at the forgery of a Synodal decision. Worse has happened in history, yes. But I think the issue for many people is not the what or who of it, but the circumstances that made it possible. This shenanigan required us to be dependent on a poorly organized administration headquartered in a land at a vast distance, in several important ways, from our own. I hope no one leaves, but I can sympathize with those who want a different sort of environment than that.
#58 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-06-24 14:00
We must have an ORGANIZED demonstration at the convention against any railroading of dissenting voices. It cannot be business as usual.
#59 New convert on 2009-06-26 12:38
Someone posting on theantiochian . com as Kh. Lynn Gabriel has given an explanation as to how Englewood received the questionable documents.
She has made several posts, actually, but the most interesting one is found here:
Fr. G. left for Lebanon in a car that had been waiting for him. When he arrived at his destination, I spoke to him and he told me that he had just faxed the signed documents he had to M.P. from there using the facilities of yet another old friend.
Presumably Fr. G. is Economos Anthony Gabriel, the husband of Lynn Gabriel. Another exchange in that comment thread apparently corroborates the identity of the poster, although it could all be a puppet show.
#60 Anonymous Coward on 2009-06-27 21:50
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