Thursday, July 9. 2009
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2/3 = 4/6 Assuming Met. Phil didn't vote, who is the 4th who voted for assistant?
#1 pelagiaeast on 2009-07-09 16:05
Question: Are the Bishops the bishops of a city, or a diocese (a territory) Does +Mark have any influence in the hostile Detroit area or only Toledo? Are the rebellious Detroit priests a low unto themselves? This does need clarification.
#2 anon on 2009-07-09 16:24
Does this mean our bishops will now "assist" the Metropolitan in seeing that:
• a proper audit is conducted
• our Board of Trustees is cleaned up
• we find out who was responsible for the "forged" document disaster and deal accordingly
• our shabby ecclesiastical house is swept out and put in order
• et cetera, et cetera, et cetera?
I find it impossible to roll back the clock to February 23 like nothing ever happened. There may not be a storm in the desert, but we sure could use a cleansing.
#3 Makarios on 2009-07-09 16:27
If things have returned to pre-February conditions, why have the bishops' titles been amended? Why is the amendment even necessary? What do these new titles mean? Are any other bishops under the Patriarchate of Antioch styled this way?
Heck, can we even ask why is "The" capitalized in "The Metropolitan"? What's so special about Met Philip that he gets a capitalized definite article?
Although the false resolution has apparently vanished from the website, they still have not acknowledged the deception, or the existence of the real resolution posted by the Patriarchate. Instead, we've been given some nominal concessions - no more use of the word "auxiliary", and the local bishops are to be commemorated in the parishes.
But notice all the the bishops are now styled "'Assistant' to The [sic] Metropolitan". This is not the same as "bishops who assist," which was what was in the resolution of the Holy Synod. This calls to mind the same distinction that has been noted here before - the difference between calling someone an "assistant" and "one who assists".
Englewood is still playing games with words, and I, for one, am sick of being jerked around.
This is not over. Not the episcopal scandal, and certainly not the financial questions. We must keep asking questions and looking for answers.
#4 Cordelia on 2009-07-09 16:37
My gut reaction was that feeling when you've been punched and all the air taken out of your lungs. However, when I really read the thing carefully, I could see that someone was very careful in crafting the words of the decision. It completely blows out of the water +Philip's contention that our bishops are auxiliaries. That discussion is done. Over.
We need to note that our bishops have "titles"-- that is, more than one title. The first denotes the place of which they are bishop. Who cares what they call it, they are a bishop of a place. An auxiliary is a displaced bishop. These are not. The second title simply notes a distinct role they play-- they assist the Metropolitan in the administration of the Archdiocese. That's OK, too, isn't it? I'm not agitating for our bishops to be islands unto themselves. When a PLC can't be staffed because it doesn't have a bishop, there is no harm in +Philip picking up the phone and telling Bishop Thomas that he needs Bishop Thomas to fill in for that function as part of the Archdiocesan administration. Whatever. That's a whole different deal than +Philip picking up the phone and telling +Mark that he has to move or +Philip telling +Mark's priests that +Mark doesn't have the authority to tell them to abide by the Church's rules for divine services.
I've heard gleeful reaction and glum reaction. I'm right in the middle, myself. Could've been stronger. Could've been weaker. It'll do, though.
You know, for those of you who really want the proof in the pudding, check out the thing that is getting less press-- the directive that our bishops are to be commemorated when not present. That, my friends, is the real deal. Philip hasn't blinked; he's finally shut his eyes.
Now that ecclesial matters have been dealt with (at least in the short term), let's get on with the temporal matters, which is where the laity have a particularly strong say. Just because MP has backed down is no excuse for us. The weeds are still there; let's pull them.
#5 Silouan James on 2009-07-09 16:39
The announcement on the AOCA website lists the new titles of the bishops, for example:
+JOSEPH Bishop of Los Angeles and Assistant to the Metropolitan
What was the title of an AOCA bishop prior to February? Did it include this "Assistant to the Metropolitan" wording?
Is this a compromise where they are splitting the difference?
#6 Stu on 2009-07-09 16:43
#7 Now Happy Antiochian on 2009-07-09 17:21
So the episcopal focus now returns to the Midwest....will +Philip support +Mark's efforts towards good order, or sit back and watch as his cronies continue to undermine their Bishop? And will the other Bishops support +Mark if he imposes discipline on the miscreants?
#8 JPS on 2009-07-09 17:27
Too little, too late. The man and the cronies and crooks he has surrounded himself with still must go. And what is with appending "Assistant to the Metropolitan" to their titles? All that does is leave an opening for +Philip to come back later and use that to try and run roughshod over our Bishops. He will claim it means that they cannot thwart his will and he will do whatever he wants and move them wherever he wants. He still has the Detroit 4 who will demand +MARK be removed or replaced.
There still is the whole financial mess and the probable greased palms all over the world. And let's not forget the questionable Dimitri who still seems to have some influence in some spheres and Walid Khaliffe. This is far from over. Too much is now known by too many. +Philip has made a gesture. Let's not let it stop there. I still feel it is time for him and +Antoun to retire.
#9 Alexei on 2009-07-09 17:34
As far as I am concerned this is too little and too late, too many things have been revealed in the process; i.e. the composition of the board of trustees, the problem with our constitution, the fraudulent actions of our Damascus delegation, the status of Bishop Demetri and especially the lack of our financial accountability and transparency. NO - let it be said that the emperor has no clothes on!!!!
All these items MUST be addressed in Palm Desert. It is deplorable that there can be fraud perpetuated on the Damascus delegation and not to have depositions or discipline of some sort.
No AUDIT = NO BUDGET.
No AUDIT = NO BUDGET
No AUDIT = NO BUDGET.
#10 Delegate #1 on 2009-07-09 17:35
Christ Is In Our Midst!
All this semantic maneuvering is the epitome of juvenile foolishness.
An episcopal title that includes the clause "...and Assistant to The Metropolitan" is completely ridiculous.
Is the metropolitan's title going include the clause "...Who Is To Do Nothing Without The Consent of All The Other Bishops"?
You cannot have one of these additions without the other. It's that simple. If there is no such addition to the metropolitan's title than it is a double standard par excellence, which serves to reveal his deeply rooted lust for power even at at time like this when he is forced to give up his quest for absolute control.
It is unnecessary to tack a phrase onto a title in order describe the dynamics of the proper relationship between the diocesan bishops and the metropolitan bishop as it is described with striking clarity in Apostolic Canon 34 and in Canon 9 of Antioch.
Hierarchs functioning within this context should be a given. Adding little reminders to their titles is not going to solve the problem that underlies this crisis.
In fact, if any of the hierarchs might benefit from such "little reminders" it is not the diocesan bishops, but instead His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip. The record shows that he is the only one of the hierarchs who has failed to submit to canonical order.
As these two canons state the bishops are obligated to acknowledge the metropolitan as first among them and do nothing with respect to affairs that go beyond their individual dioceses (i.e. matters affecting multiple diocese) without his consent. Additionally, the metropolitan is to govern his own diocese, and in matters of common concern (i.e. affecting more than his particular diocese) he is forbidden to act unilaterally. There must be a genuine *consensus*, as Apostolic Canon 34 states, "...so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit."
Perhaps Metropolitan Philip has failed to understand that these canons state that diocesan bishops are at liberty to govern their "own particular parishes [i.e. cathedrals] and the districts subject to them [i.e. dioceses]. For each bishop has authority over his own parish, both to manage it with the piety which is incumbent on every one, and to make provision for the whole district which is dependent on his city; to ordain presbyters and deacons; and to settle everything with judgment."
More realistically, Metropolitan Philip understands this all to well, and thus he attempted to strong arm the diocesan bishops into the uncanonical role of "auxiliary" bishop so that he could act like a dictator.
In the mid 3rd century, when Stephen, bishop of Rome, attempted to force his will upon the African bishops, it prompted Saint Cyprian (metropolitan bishop of Carthage) assembled in council with 87 other north African bishops to pronounce the following:
"It remains, that upon this same matter each of us should bring forward what we think, judging no man, nor rejecting any one from the right of communion, if he should think differently from us. *For neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment*, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another.
Let us truly pray that the grace of the Holy Spirit will penetrate Metropolitan Philip's heart and mind granting him the repentance AND confession that produces an authentic desire to act in love and harmony with his brother bishops instead in deceitfulness and unilateral tyranny. Then such frivolous additions to episcopal titles would not even be conceived of in the first place let alone officially added.
Despite all of this I rejoice because: Christ Truly Is In Our Midst!
#11 Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim on 2009-07-09 18:20
I hate to say it, but Met. Philip is waaaaay behind the times. Doesn't he get that we've moved on to audits, reform and removal of his cronies? Honestly, just by the mere fact that he's floating this without even a shred of an apology ought to be grounds for anyone to realize how totally removed from reality he really is.
Gabriel, Antypas and the rest are advising Philip right into disaster. If I was one of the Bishops, I'd just keep nodding too. Why fight him over this? I think the bishops understand the people are ready to bring Philip down. Might as well make him as comfortable as possible for the inevitable crash.
We must all remember that it isn't the fall that does you in, but the sudden stop at the end. For Philip's episcopacy, that will be in Palm Springs.
#12 anonymous on 2009-07-09 18:24
Well that was unexpected. I guess we can all stop paying attention now.
#13 Rdr Mo on 2009-07-09 18:59
This is nothing but a smokescreen. Metropolitan Philip is doing this only to try and calm the fires before Palm Springs. First, he refuses to embrace in its entirety the recent decision of the Holy Synod. Second, he has not retracted the fraudulent decrees that have been posted these past weeks on the archdiocesan website. Third, he dances around what hierarchical prerogatives the bishops may exercise. Fourth, he implies that the decision of the Holy Synod is negotiable (whatever happened to the Holy Synod being the "highest authority in the Church"). Fifth, he refuses to responsibly deal with his unprincipled mercenaries. Sixth, he is desperate to head off the most troubling issue, the need for a complete and open audit.
If the clergy and laity become placated by +Philip’s latest tactics, this archdiocese will continue to loose credibility among sensible Orthodox Christians in North America.
#14 Anonymous on 2009-07-09 19:06
How can the decision have a two-third majority with seven bishops present? Did one hierarch refrain from voting? Also, I find it interesting to note that the bishops are listed of a particular city only and not of a whole diocese? Was this an overlooked item or is that why at least two bishops did not agree with the decision? It sounds like more rhetoric to me rather than a concrete solution. For example, do the bishops of these particular cities have sole governing rule over their city and their whole diocese, or do they still need +Philip’s permission to ordain, transfer, or disciple clergy? I think there are too many loopholes in this statement.
It is also somewhat odd that +Philip stated at the end, “It is expected that all clergy will strictly adhere to this directive.” Perhaps he should learn to strictly adhere to the Synod of Antioch’s decisions in the same manner. Let him start by adopting the Damascus Constitution.
#15 Anonymous on 2009-07-09 19:11
So where does it leave us - no mention of DIOCESE, yet a listing by city (see ?)
2/3rds approved - did Met P vote or just in case there was a tie? Which of the hesitant "three" - Bps Antoun, Joseph & Thomas vote ? Had to get ASSISTANT in there to save face. Naturally before the Convention or a powder keg to explode? Met P only makes a move "to save face" or show his dominance. Naturally his loyalists will say see, "Assistant", we told you. What confusion from far off Damascus - poor english translations? More than this as they will never allow an American Church! Bet on it!
#16 Anonymous Priest on 2009-07-09 19:15
In your reflection of "Philip Blinks" your first sub-topic is "Six Months of Turmoil." Actually, February 24th to July 9th is more like four-and-one-half months of turmoil. Just a minor error. Thanks for all of your reporting!
(editor's note: Your point is noted and affirmed. In my defense I will only say that if the Church can call the sixth hour on Friday to the first hour on Sunday "three days", which it is only technically, but more importantly is symbolically, I can call February - July six months. Which technically, it is: but more importantly, six months just reads better than 4.5, doesn't it? )
#17 Anonymous on 2009-07-09 19:18
This BISHOPGATE SCANDAL is not going to subside with the issuance of this particular statement from the office of the Archdiocese.
Due to the numerous alledged improprieties which have been brought out into the open at the hierarchal level, the genie is out of the bottle and this latest document has all the appearances of the beginning of a spin campaign. It is a token offering in an attempt to smooth things over prior to the Palm Desert convention.
I'm old enought to remember the turmoil our nation was put through when a sitting US President attempted to coverup the corruption running rampant through the executive office. The informant, Deep Throat, told Woodward and Bernstein to "follow the money" and it appears the same advice is in order here as well.
I believe the laity should appeal to the Orthodox Attorneys to indeed follow the money and let the chips fall where they may. We must have financial accountability, transparency, properly elected trustees, and an end to the papacy being forced upon our HOLY PRIESTS and BISHOPS.
It is appalling to learn that sincere MEN of GOD are threatened and intimidated when doing their duty to serve both Christ and His Body the Church. It is time to indeed bring the "captivity" to an end.
#18 fr. wylekiote on 2009-07-09 19:22
I am extremly please our Hierarchs all were able to resolve this issue t avoid an unpleassent Convention.
It is time nw for ALL OF US to stop gossipig on this and lets get back for our Church to grow.
(Editor's note: Being a watchful steward of the resources and traditions of the Church is not gossip, any more than your suggestion that peace is a precondition condition for growth. A cemetary is peaceful - and it grows as well. )
#19 Anonymous on 2009-07-09 20:04
Life is sometimes a series of games. Some for fun and others quite intense and life altering. We learn many of life's lessons while playing.
Baseball: Don't try stealing home when the best catcher in the league is guarding home base.
Orthodox Christians are not sitting and allowing ANYONE to "steal" their Orthodox Home!
Christ is in our midst!
Football: A pass can never be "sweet" if no one is eligible to catch it.
There are several ineligible "men" on the team. Kick them off - they don't play on OUR team.
Seems obvious it started with several severe cases of TESTOSTERONE POISONING and advanced to intercranial Resorption, Self Absorption, Patristic Patronization and Fluffy Favoritism -All lethal ailments.
We need an iNTERVENTION...call Dr. Phil quick!!!!!!
#20 Origami on 2009-07-09 20:26
Indeed, a Romanian priest told me many years ago, "Weeds grow even on the Holy Mountain." That phrase has come to mind a lot recently. Where's my weed-eater?
#21 Makarios on 2009-07-09 20:48
Until there is a true return to the status quo ante bellum with the diocesan bishops resuming their previous titles, nothing is settled.
Until a full and independent financial audit is completed of the Archdiocese's assets, nothing is settled.
Until the four priests from Detroit are properly disciplined for their insubordination, nothing is settled.
Sic semper tyrannis,
#22 Nemo on 2009-07-09 21:00
Beloved Hierarchs, esteemed members of the Board of Trustees, Reverend Fathers, Ladies and Gentlemen of this God-protected Archdiocese ... let these words resound as a voice crying in the wilderness...
No Audit = No Budget
No Audit = No Budget
No Audit = No Budget
No Audit = No Budget
No Audit = No Budget
No Audit = No Budget
No Audit = No Budget
No Audit = No Budget
#23 Delegate #1 on 2009-07-09 21:04
Couldn't agree with you more in the additional questions about what our renewed Diocesan Bishops should do. This whole "Assistant to the Metropolitan" nonsense only helps confirm how things are still screwy and the underlying power struggle that is definitely not over.
Met. Philip may have found a way to take some of the fire out of the storm coming at the Convention, but there are still lots of questions that need answers and some priests that need some serious penance. Let's see how these "Assistants" get this important work done!
I hope that the laity don't let this thing go at the Convention!
#24 Anonymous for a reason on 2009-07-09 21:06
Did anyone notice that +Philip's title has also changed? On the letterhead, he is now listed as "Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America." It would appear that Washington, DC, has been dropped from his title.
Could this be related to +Jonah's upcoming move from NYC to Washington? Perhaps instead of having two metropolitans claiming both cities, we will now just have one metropolitan for each city. (But, of course, the Greek archbishop still claims both cities.)
Thanks be to God!
We may, indeed should all, pray that the four votes in our local Holy Synod for yesterday's decision hold together and the Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities will reflect true Orthodox ecclesiology, rather than some sort of neo-papalism.
Vainglory (Assistant to (capital T) The Metropolitan??) may be unbecoming in a chief hierarch, but unlike ecclesiological heresy, it is a vice the rest of us may sigh at as we commend our Metropolitan to the care of his father confessor and his guardian angel, rather than being obliged to resist for the good of the Church. Doubtless the capital T will at some point be dropped, and Met. Philip's successor will drop the "Assistant to" titles, as a silly redundancy in light of Apostolic Canon 34.
Now, as to the other point of canonical order this whole mess has brought up: could the priests who bear the 'dignity' of Economos kindly start taking seriously the office of Economos, which according to Canon 26 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council has the duty to "see to it that the goods of the Church are not squandered, nor reproach brought upon the priesthood". With an Archdiocese swelled to the size of a continent, I'm afraid that you'll need the help of outside auditors. Fr. Anthony? Fr. Constantine? I trust you'll be leading the charge for an outside audit.
#26 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-07-09 22:52
To Antiochian Attorney
The following link provides information detailing the requirements of financial reporting. This is probably more important than how many sit on the board.
#27 James A on 2009-07-09 22:53
Agreed, this cannot subside.
This move is the Metropolitan realizing that it is time to be wily and that brute force and/or trickery are not going to work.
Step 1) Restore commemorations and status of bishops as having a throne in the U.S. This is meant to soothe the populace in general.
Step 2) Arrange a meeting with Bishop +Joseph's clergy. Get +Joseph's clergy, many, many of whom are the most ardently against this decision, to be comforted by the directive. Try and deal with the fact that the convention is going to be held in hostile territory.
Step 3) Use the palliated clergy to calm the others down and quiet lay opposition at the Convention.
Guess what? It ain't gonna work.
#28 Clergyman on 2009-07-09 23:00
Are we not accept this decision as it does not have the signature of all the bishops?
BTW, was the 2/3ds "Me" and "Myself" with the dissenting 1/3 vote going to "I"?
#29 Too cynical on 2009-07-10 01:28
Is a self-ruled archdiocese the same rank as an autonomous church (Ukraine, Japan, Finland, Sinai)? If not, is it a new ecclesiastical entity? If it's not, then how can it actually have a diocese? The OCA's archdiocese of Canada isn't split into various dioceses... and is the GOA split into actual dioceses? The web page says "metropolis." Is that another word for diocese? I'm confused.
I think the following happened - in the agreement of "self-rule" Metropolitan Phillip saw himself as gaining standing among all bishops as someone as head of autonomous church. The other bishops then also saw themselves as becoming bishops of diocese - so from a hierarch's perspective - everything's good. The only problem is this fiction of a self-ruled archdiocese that has its own diocese in the geographical territory of A) an autocephalous church at worst and B) on the "canonical territory" of Constantinople... at best... and we all know who doesn't like that idea... and I wouldn't be surprised if +Bartholomew called +Ignatius out on this one.
The problem isn't that Metropolitan Phillip overstepped any boundaries, it's that an authority exists where one ought not because ultimately, the Antiochian Archdiocese is becoming an (if not already) indigenous Church on the North American continent and really should look to be joined to the OCA (like it or not); currently the indigenous Church of the North American lands.
The dioceses should not exist in the first place - unless this is a new ecclesiastical institution. And if that is the case, we have an even bigger mess on our hands because we may preach freedom from "ethic ghettos" but this arrangement could set the groundwork for unity in utter ethnic poverty... and as much as people on this site like "unity" - remember, unity isn't always Godly.
#30 Methodios on 2009-07-10 02:05
Clarification - I see that the GOA's Metropolis' are actually dioceses. I forgot that this was the big bru-haha back in 2003. Either way, the AOCA created dioceses on top of dioceses, on top of dioceses.
#31 Methodios on 2009-07-10 02:11
I disagree. This "Assistant" addition implies that our diocesan bishops are different in some way from other bishops. For example: has +Philip's title changed to include "Assistant to the Patriarch"? Why not? Why, as he sees matters, shouldn't it? Why shouldn't all bishops everywhere have this addition?
In the official English version of the June 17 decision, the idea of assistance is conveyed in verb form, describing something the bishops do , rather than in adjective form, qualifying what they are . That is consistent with the decision's opening assertion that all bishops have the same episcopacy as regards its "nature."
The new titles are not necessarily consistent with this. But, then, just try finding the June 17 decision on the Archdiocesan website. The "Summary of Posts" links only to the same obnoxious statement that no decision will be accepted without the signatures of all present. Until the Patriarch's approved version is published, without qualification, we must assume that +Philip continues to reject it.
You are interpreting each bishop's new appellation as a series of independent titles — so that we might just as well say, "Basil, Bishop of Wichita and Assistant to the Metropolitan and American Citizen." But I do not think this is what Met. Philip has in mind.
In fact, I do not think he is backing down at all, but only seeming to in order to calm us. Commemorations? He surely considers it his right to order commemorations made in whatever way he likes. Meanwhile, these new titles are intended to describe the bishops as bishops — with the word "Assistant" reflecting a reality that applies to our bishops as opposed to others.
Either this gets better sorted-out, or we will have a perpetual ecclesiastical Cold War punctuated by occasional word-game skirmishes — more or less bloody depending on the stakes. And it will be the same debate, over and over again: are our bishops true, normal, Orthodox bishops, with all the authority this includes, or not?
#32 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-07-10 02:23
I like the term "auxiliarygate" better.
I will follow Met. PHilip's example and wait until I see a document signed by ALL of the Holy Synod.....
#33 Antionymous on 2009-07-10 04:43
When I first read the news from the antiochian.org, I was temporarily euphoric after these last few months of turmoil, but upon reflection, I think I am more depressed than euphoric. +MP is a person who HAS to win, rather than a humble shepherd who guides his sheep. I simply cannot understand this man whom others have described as "charming" when he wants to be, but highly imperious when he is challenged (but of course, I don't think he has ever been challenged).
Questions, at least in the midwest archdiocese, as others have pointed out, are still unresolved--such as the recalcitrant priests in the Detroit area. Can the Metropolitan dip into Detroit and rescue his buddies, since Bishop Mark is in Toledo? Will they follow their beloved Metropolitan or submit to direction from Bishop Mark. Everyone in the Orthodox faith "pretends" to believe in the concept of obedience, but obedience to which conflicting demands? I'm still confused.
I'm beginning to think that the idea which was suggested, that is, no audit=no budget, may be the only way that our Leader will understand that these stables need to be cleaned. You just can't put humpty dumpty together again. I honestly wish no will toward +MP, but unbridled power has contributed to his arrogance, and as a good Orthodox Christian, he must realize that even leaders need to think about repentance.
#34 anon on 2009-07-10 05:04
I second that motion! (And believe me, I'll be there with you, my friend!) ANAXIOS!
#35 Delegate #2 on 2009-07-10 05:19
Indeed. This whole mess is incredibly tangled, and it must be made understandable-- slowly and clearly. New York law is no party to wade through, but I think you'll find Article IV quite to your satisfaction. Cheers.
#36 AOA on 2009-07-10 05:22
This move by + Philip is an attempt to quell the masses. Apparently, he wants to remain in power and doesn't want a revolt in Palm Springs. If the Board of Trustees is wise, they will ask him to resign, along with + Antoon, and put forth an acclamation that Bishop Basil be elevated to Metropolitan. Next, to reaffirm their "autonomous" status and agree to work to merging with the OCA by 2010.
Now THIS would finally be progress since OCA autocephaly in 1970!
#37 Anonymous on 2009-07-10 07:18
This is an awful situation.
Fifteen years ago, Abp Iakovos participated in Ligonier, backed away from what they (he and Met. Philip) had apparently planned, and ultimately lost his job over it. I remember Metropolitan Philip telling me, "Poor man, he lost his nerve, and he paid the price."
Now, fifteen years later, Metropolitan Philip has done something similar...in my mind worse. He has sacrificed his creation at the altar of his own ego.
Wake up people...there has been no misunderstanding...this is raw, hardball power politics...Corleone style. And now, at the eleventh hour, this ridiculous statement is issued in order to provide some fig leaf for his shame at the upcoming convention.
I take no pleasure in saying it - but it's obvious to everyone but the brain-dead: It's time for the metropolitan to go.
To paraphrase the metropolitan, "Poor man, he lost his mind, and he paid the price."
It's time for you, the LAOS TOU THEOU, the royal priesthood, to take care of this problem. Not the clergy, not the bishops...YOU - the laity of the AOCA.
You get the leadership you deserve.
I pray you are worthy of the task.
#38 Dean Calvert on 2009-07-10 07:53
The Assistant to the Metropolitan is a silly addendum to the title. Hopefully, it will eventually fade away over time.
I think that +MP should add to his title Assistant to the Patriarch...
I pray that the games with the bishops are over and that there is reconciliation. Of course, many of us will remain vigilant.
#39 Anonymous on 2009-07-10 07:56
This is an attempt by +Philip to throw us a bone on the semantics of the status of the bishops while retaining all his actual administrative powers. E.g. the current version of the Hierarchical Duties manual, which was distributed way before Feb. 24, doesn't allow our Diocesan Bishops to even transfer a priest within their diocese without +Philip's approval. If that kind of usurpation of the traditional authority of a diocesan bishop is accepted by our clergy and faithful as the pre Feb. 24 "status quo ante" then reverting to the status quo will present no problems for +Philip.
#40 JPS on 2009-07-10 08:04
All I can say to my Antiochian brethren is PLEASE, PLEASE, do NOT let this 'decision' calm the storm as they say. This, IMO is nothing but an attempt at a slight of hand so everyone will pay attention and "look over there" and not bring up all these other scandalous events that have taken place since Feb 24th 2009. The corruption in the Church has been brought to light, do not allow the heirarchy to once again cover it up, swept under the rug to be forgotten, only to reappear years from now. If indeed there is not audit, no call to accountability on those sending threatening emails, no accountability to those "tricking" the patriarch into signing corrupt documents, no accountability to the mob like tactics, the controlism and the power plays, then it will be a dark day ahead for the Church in North America. And I mean for the ENTIRE Orthodox Church. If this is all "forgotten" and "peace" is made before Palm Springs, and well all just say, "well that's settles that" then it will do nothing but empower the Power mongers in the Church in EVERY jurisdiction because they'll see that we American Orthodox are easily appeased. "Throw them a bone, while we get the steak."
My prayers are with you all in this, and I hope everyone realizes it is not just the Antiochian Archdiocese that is at stake, but the whole of the Church in America.
#41 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-07-10 08:11
I think your critique is unwarranted, or at least no more applicable to Antioch than to Constantinople (or to the OCA if you're a Phanariot), the Church of Serbia, the Church of the Ukraine, . . .
The division of the Antiochian Archdiocese into territorial dioceses did not create a new layer of overlapping dioceses in North America: even when +Philip acceded to the Metorpolitanate, there was an Antiochian bishop over every square inch of North America, just as the Metropolia, Constantinople, Serbia, etc. all had bishops for North America.
All this did was to make the Antiochian Archdiocese have a parallel structure to the Greek Archdiocese, but without giving our diocesan bishops the dignity of metropolitans.
In fact, the fact that most of our diocesan bishops do not have their seats in cities where other jurisdictions have cathedrals makes the change a positive one for the eventual abolition of the plague of jurisdictionalism: in the short run we Antiochians get to live under an approximation of normal Orthodox eccelesiatical structures, in the long run the map of dioceses for a united American Orthodox Church is easier to draw.
#42 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-07-10 08:12
Do the parishes have to accept the directive issued by MP since the decision wasn’t signed by all seven hierarchs? That is after all MP’s requirements for accepting a decision from Antioch, that all of the signatures of the Synod Members be on a synodal decision.
#43 Anonymous on 2009-07-10 08:47
I do not think Met. Philip blinked and after carefully considering The Archpastoral Directive I most certainly do not believe he has confirmed their status as Diocesans.
This is just another cynical example of +Philip attempting to circumnavigate the Holy Synod, thumb his nose anew at His Beatitude, while relegating our bishops to the status of Auxilaries.
The Official Synodal Decision of June 17 and +Philip's Archpastoral Directive of July 9 could not be more contradictory.
The Holy Synod declared, "the nature of the Episcopate is one and the same to all those consecrated as bishops" and then "reminds that all bishops of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America are bishops who assist the Metropolitan.
The Archpastoral Directive seems just another transparent attempt to again subjugate the bishops as his personal Assistants even bestowing upon them this new title "Assistant to The Metropolitan" Merely Auxilaries by another name.
Our Metropolitan is many things but inconsistent is not one of them. He will drive this bus to hell and back if neccessary and damn the casualties.
I would also like to know if there is any sinister reason for not mentioning their episcopal authority extending beyond the particular cities in which they reside?
#44 Kevin Krwan on 2009-07-10 08:55
Seems to me that the bishops took the right step at this juncture. I am glad.
Since the discussion obviously has shifted to this thread from the one on NYS corporate law, I will reply to that author here.
You stride forward with verbal boldness through ground I do not see as so firm and well-marked as you do. Orthodox church government stems from the scriptures, the fathers/councils and the experience of the Church. Sometimes, for example when it was dominated by Turks, czarist bureaucrats, or communists, the real and the ideal have not resembled one another very closely.
We must be cautious therefore in making pronouncements about the intersection of Orthodox polity and the New York State legislative process. I am prepared to assume that few, if any, of those representatives had the principles from the scriptures, Fathers, Councils and church history firmly in mind when this statute was passed. Nor am I willing to assume that in the moment the Orthodox persons who lobbied for the legislation necessarily had a clear vision of those foundational ideas either.
The big concern when the Church meets civil autocracy is that those in power will assume an imperial leadership style as the czarist church was known to suffer from. The big problem when the Church meets civil democracy is the opposite, is it not? In Orthodoxy how much "power to the people?" Or the trustees, the lower clergy or one's fellow bishops?
I do not see how there can be good government unless there is broad participation and consensus building, especially when you have a rapidly growing, far-flung, and ethnically diverse organization. I certainly have understood the large board of trustees as intended to be an opinion gathering and consensus building body, not the ultimate decision maker.
I understand Orthodox polity to provide that after everything preliminary has been said and done by any single steward or group of them, the Church is not a democracy - bishops rule. As I said above, I tend to doubt the NYS legislators really understood that. I tend to doubt that some of us here, whether converts who were raised to worship democracy or immigrants who have come here and embraced it, understand that unless we really stop to think.
And most pointedly for the present discussion I tend to doubt the author of our four part series really understands that when he describes trustees as being "under [their hierarch's] thumb." If the Orthodox system says that is who appoints them, and that is who has the ultimate decision-making responsibility once the trustees have done their jobs and rendered their opinions, then by definition they exist under a bishop's something - omophore, rod, fist, hand, overseeing eye, shepherd's staff, thumb or ? - and the writer's choice of term for that something may well tell us a lot about the phronema from which the writer himself is actually operating, and not just his view of the bishop.
I hope I am open to light from the next three installments. The first did not exactly make me reach for my sunglasses.
And as a sort of p.s. - please remember my father in law Mark in your prayers these days. His condition has declined steeply in the past week.
#45 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-07-10 08:57
When a PLC can't be staffed because it doesn't have a bishop, there is no harm in +Philip picking up the phone and telling Bishop Thomas that he needs Bishop Thomas to fill in for that function as part of the Archdiocesan administration. Whatever. That's a whole different deal than +Philip picking up the phone and telling +Mark that he has to move or +Philip telling +Mark's priests that +Mark doesn't have the authority to tell them to abide by the Church's rules for divine services.
There is a flaw in the above reasoning. First, you said, “there is no harm in +Philip picking up the phone and telling Bishop Thomas…” [Emphasis mine]. “Telling” is ordering a subordinate to do something. It is not a request; it’s an order. If +Philip has the right to tell a bishop where to go, why would he not have the same right in moving a bishop from one city to another?
#46 Anonymous on 2009-07-10 09:58
Swell. So now during the Great Entrance we're going to be hearing "our father, Metropolitan Philip and our father, Bishop Joseph, Bishop of Los Angeles and Assistant to the Metropolitan".
#47 Curiouser and curiouser on 2009-07-10 10:04
Being jerked around seems to be the name of the game. What happened to the *Bishops of a Diocese*? That is not an insignificant detail! The ecclesiology of this is still not right, no matter how they play with words and spin this. Englewood knows that. And so do many of the rest of us.
Will the byzantine games ever stop? This latest move is still mired in wrongly directed egos. Can the bishops please put an end to this unholy stuff?
#48 Anonymously sad about it all on 2009-07-10 10:13
The vote of the Archdiocesean Synod of Bishops reveals that the Synod is divided 3 against 3, so Philip will always get his way because he votes to break the tie. Another way of saying this is that Philip haswon this battle, by dividing our bishops against each other and Philip has conquered. This is outrageous. I for one will not commemorate Philip because he has betrayed our Archdiocese
#49 Outraged Antiochian Priest on 2009-07-10 10:30
May our Lord bless the great series by the "Orthodox Attorney"! Well done Part I & II. Read and reread prior to the Convention (if your going!) Also, Mark, may we encourage ALL to web to - OCHLOPHOBIST.COM This "Owen" a convert I believe, writes with great clarity and truthfulness. We believe he compliments OCANews. We have no vehicle to diseeminate, read or be made aware of what's happening. The Word magaqzine (not a word on our mess from the beginnin) and the Web site. Controlled better than Pravda! Thank you for all, When webbing to Orthophobist.com - scroll down on the right and read July 2009. Have time read the previous months and the comments. Outstanding!
#50 Anonymous Ant. Priest on 2009-07-10 14:23
I couldn't agree more. The bishops being demoted was disturbing, but what really got me angry was finding out what kind of ...... were sitting on the board of trustees of my church. And to make matters even worse, I find out these ..... are hand picked by Met. Philip to be part of a delegation to Damascus. I think this whole thing stinks to high heaven. What's really depressing however, is that my wife and I are in the midst of catechizing a good friend of ours, who is pretty shaky about organized religion to begin with, and now this happens. Now I'm the one with doubts about the one church I thought could keep its own house in order. I'm not sure now I want him to join this ..... organization--and I'm not sure I want to be part of it either.
#51 Patrick Adams on 2009-07-10 16:56
No Audit = No Budget
No Audit = No Budget
No Audit = No Budget
This does not fix the accusations of corruption, so it does nothing for us. So long as Met. Philip can continue to hide facts from us, then he can name them all 'patriarchs' and it still makes no difference.
I and numerous priests have commemorated the Diocesan Bishop since receiving the copy of the Patriarchal Decision. Nice to see Met. Philip has finally caught us with many of us!
#52 anonymous Antiochian priest on 2009-07-10 17:23
F George, you wrote:
"And most pointedly for the present discussion I tend to doubt the author of our four part series really understands that when he describes trustees as being "under [their hierarch's] thumb." If the Orthodox system says that is who appoints them, and that is who has the ultimate decision-making responsibility once the trustees have done their jobs and rendered their opinions, then by definition they exist under a bishop's something - omophore, rod, fist, hand, overseeing eye, shepherd's staff, thumb or ? - and the writer's choice of term for that something may well tell us a lot about the phronema from which the writer himself is actually operating, and not just his view of the bishop."
Apparently you feel that the Trustees existence under +Philip's thumb is the same as under his omophore? Couldn't disagree with you more. This is still about abuse of power, no matter how well intended the Met thinks he is. The writer's mindset seems based in the verifiable history of the Trustees and Met. As someone who has served the Church under other bishops, my experience has been that not every bishop tries to keep Trustees under his thumb...and they can have mutually respectful relationships along side their shepherd, even when they disagree! And that sure isn't the case in the AOCA.
#53 Anonymously sad about it all on 2009-07-10 17:39
+Philip's title has never included Washington, D.C. That was only ever an OCA practice.
#54 A Reader on 2009-07-10 18:24
Dear Outraged Antiochian Priest,
Met. Philip did not "blink", he stared down all of you pseudo theologians and showed you he is"wise as a serpent". All whiners and theological dilletantes should get together and have a "shadow convention" led by the OAP (outraged ant. priest).
You could meet and drone on about canon law minutae and opine about the how you were vicitimized "ante bellum". You could hire lawyers and forensic detectives and hold "hearings". You could all have a an anti-Hafli on Saturday night.
When all is said and done you could write a Troparian to the Editor.The choir of sic semper tyrannis, the sub deacon and Fr.Wylekyote will sing in wonderful harmony.
#55 Alex on 2009-07-10 19:08
I have one question for you. Do you support the actions of MP? It seems to me like you always side with him, but in a subtle way as to appear to be neutral. I may be completely wrong and so I will ask you this question directly and in all sincerity. Please clearly let us know your position in your support of MP. And if I am wrong in my assessment, please forgive me. I'm just trying to sort things out. Thank you.
#56 Anonymous on 2009-07-10 19:43
Christ rules (as we are taught in Sunday school, the priests and bishops only share and participate in the one priesthood of Christ), and when bishops mislead, it's up to the other bishops, priests, deacons, and laypeople to correct their path. Bishops certainly have much authority in the church, but that authority presupposes obedience to the ultimate authority: truth. Again, if a bishop strays, others must step in and correct.
Furthermore, I would point out that if you do not want to be subject to the civil laws of America/New York, then you should move elsewhere or not organize the church as a legal corporation in the state of New York.
Finally, you are making an enormous, implicit presupposition: that Metropolitan PHILIP, unlike the civil authorities and previous Orthodox religious leaders (both clergy and lay) in New York, is operating according to the 'mind' of the Church. Let us not be so naive.
#57 Anonymous Antiochian Priest on 2009-07-10 20:35
Read the account of Moses giving Pharoah numerous opportunities to repent.
Pharoah continually hardened his heart after Moses releaved the Egyptians from each plague.
Do not be surpirsed if MP hardens his heart (if it can be hardened any further) after the National Convention.
MP has not repented (did Jimmy Swagart repent after being caught?), he only wants the plagues to go away.
Remember though the Lord may offer opportunity for repentance "The same Sun that softens wax hardens clay."
To which will history's commentators compare MP's heart?
only hardened his heart
#58 betrayed by philip on 2009-07-10 20:43
To you I Say (be it so we all pray). Amen. Amen. Amen. Met Philip swhoulde retire and take his "friends: with him. A nice Villa in his Lebanon homewtown with the proceeds of his ultra condo. I think of the many Missions told to do it onj their own. Those Millions to the Balamond also paid once for a dusty athletic field with many thinking it was for classrooms!
#59 Anonymous Priest on 2009-07-10 20:47
I think those of you taking the most dire reading of the 9 July are overlooking an important fact: the decision was a decision of the local Holy Synod of our Archdiocese, not a papal decree from Metropolitan Philip.
Again, I exhort you all to pray that the votes for the 9 July decision hang together and the update to the Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities will reflect Orthodox ecclesiology.
#60 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-07-10 20:53
It seems to me Fr. George that both sides of the governance coin are incorrect, the church is neither a democracy neither is it an oligarchy, it is governed by councils of Bishops whose positions are guaranteed by their service (Diakonia) to God and especially to His people. When they cease to function as servants and begin to "lord their authority as the gentiles" they relinquish their God given position for the only authority that is Godly is that of service be he Priest, Bishop, Metropolitan, or Patriarch.
Oh and did I mention:
No Audit = No Budget!!!!
#61 Delegate #1 on 2009-07-10 21:25
Stop the special pleading. "Bishops rule." Really? Then why is Metr. Philip trying to supersede the rule of the Bishops in their dioceses? Why isn't he labeling himself "Assistant to the Patriarch"? If Bishops rule, what happened to the "Amen" of the laity? We are not his tools. We can say no. And we are saying no to this autocratic rather than shepherdly exercise of power. If he doesn't wake up, he'll find parish archdiocesan assessments going into escrow until audits are performed and corruption (communing Muslims, continuing payments to Bp. Demetri) cleaned up. Perhaps when he feels the heat, he'll see the light, without the need for sunglasses.
#62 Another George on 2009-07-10 22:34
I for one will not commemorate Philip because he has betrayed our Archdiocese
Outraged Antiochian Priest:
You know if you follow this thread I am outspoken in my criticisms of Met. Philip. Having said that, I am as an Orthodox believer deeply troubled by your refusal, as a priest in our Archdiocese to commemorate him in the divine liturgy.
This is troubling on many levels and I hope you will reconsider your actions.
#63 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-07-11 04:14
Given all the palaver on this topic (serious, silly, and spiritually significant), I have a serious question.
Do the rules of the Self-Ruled Archdiocese permit a "meeting", vote and decision of the local synod to take place via telephone conference?
Where are the signatures of the supporters of this resolution?
#64 Curious Anonymouse on 2009-07-11 06:22
It obvious you are +Philip's duly appointed "Keeper of the Kool Aid". As such I am sure you will be given the first place of honor at the Hierarchal Table during the many banquets at the convention.
Please inform Walid and his Boys from Detroit they will be included in our Troparion as well, since they provide such an excellent example of "loving the brethren".
"Wise as a serpent"? not hardly.
#65 Fr Wylekiote on 2009-07-11 06:37
What even are you talking about?
#66 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-07-11 07:21
I believe that, traditionally, only the diocesan bishop is commemorated. The additional commemoration of the chief hierarch is a novel practice, and some GOA metroplitans objected vociferously when Apb. Demetrios pushed for this to be required.
(There is a parallel here, actually — as I recall, his argument included the claim that the additional commemoration was called-for in order to emphasize the unity of the Greek Archdiocese.)
In short, I do not, however, see any ecclesiological or canonical problem with the action in itself .
That said, the priest's non-commemoration may be unwise, ill-considered, and harmful in the extreme — that is a broad pastoral question I am unprepared, in every way, to address.
Dear Outraged Priest,
Bless. If you'll forgive my boldness, I would like to point out that outrage is often not the best mood in which to make decisions. It is possible for even godly anger to go astray.
I urge you to, at the least, consult with your spiritual father and brother clergy before doing this — so that you are not simply trusting your own opinion (which even the saints feared to do)!
#67 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-07-11 07:47
I can imagine some good reasons for a reduction in the number of trustees — but this is not about numbers of trustees. It's about money, as I am sure we will shortly see. Once the principle of compliance is established, the law can be leveraged to the max in order to force transparency on the Metropolitan.
He does not want it — is it Orthodox to force it on him? "Bishops rule," as you say. And they do — but not absolutely. It's a paradox — which is territory any Orthodox is bound to find familiar. Attempts at a complete system for what is acceptable behavior here and what is not will fail — just as do attempts to give external definitions for what makes a council an Ecumenical Council rather than a false one. (See Ware [ http://is.gd/1uPw1 ] and Florovsky's Bible, Church, Tradition re St. Vincent.)
St. Nicholas Planas persisted in celebrating on the Old Calendar after it was banned in Greece (though he did not break with his bishop) — and he was canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarch. St. John of San Francisco could be said to have played "word games" with at least one synodal decision — the one demanding that he start wearing shoes around town. (The verb used can mean "wear" or "carry" — so he stated carrying them.)
You may break with a heretical bishop even before his heresy is condemned (Canon 15 of the 1st-2nd Council) — but God help you if you are wrong about it, because not even martyrdom washes away the sin of schism.
There are limits, balances — which it is up to us to discern in fear and trembling. Says St. John Chrysostom regarding a bishop's wickedness, "Wicked? In what sense? If indeed in regard to Faith, flee and avoid him; not only if he be a man, but even if he be an angel come down from Heaven; but if in regard to life, be not over-curious" (Hom 34 on Hebrews). This is not exactly a bright line, but — such is life.
No crowds were demanding public accountability prior to the present storm. This is not fundamentally about democracy, but about laity seeking to guard the Church, laity who feel matters have been pushed over the line — wherever it is, exactly.
Near-riots once prevented St. John Chrysostom's expulsion from Constantinople when a usurper was given his throne. Today's laity do not have such means available to them, so they are using whatever is to hand: the internet, New York state law, regulatory mountains and molehills, Trustees, and whatever else might do the job.
#68 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-07-11 08:36
Unfortunately you are not able to claim that Met. Philip is "harmless as a dove". Serpent-like wisdom without dove-like gentleness is precisely the underlying problem in this whole mess.
Met. Philip's 'blinking' is evidenced not so much in the words of the decision, but the fact that the decision was a decision of the Archdiocesan Synod, signed by him, in parallel with the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch signed by His Beatitude Ignatius IV.
As for canonical minutia, I'm sorry you don't take as seriously the advice that the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils and the local councils they received on how the Church should be organized as some of us do. Some of us would rather trust the Harps of the Spirit who bestowed those minutia on the Church, rather than an archbishop who shows serpent-like wisdom without the corresponding harmlessness.
Do you doubt Met. Philip has done harm? Before this misadventure, there were no cries of "Anaxios!" resounding on the internet; there was no threat of disunity in the Archdiocese as his early comments on the 24 Feb. document suggested, instead he created disuinity; there was neither financial accountability in the Archdiocese, nor rebellion on behalf of accountability; felons were given places of honor without regard for the scandal this might cause the faithful; . . .
I rejoice that Met. Philip has apparently repented of the most grievous harm--his attempt to overthrow normal canonical order that the Self-Rule constitution had created for our Archdiocese. Were it not for the suspicion that this incident has created that monies sent to Englewood may not be used appropriately--and we can't know without an audit--I would be content to commend the other harms to God's healing and amendment, now that our Father and Bishop Basil is acknowledged as unambiguously our local diocesan bishop. We could say "God bless Our Metropolitan Philip and keep him (far away from us)" as the Unitates supposedly say of the Pope, and just live Orthodox lives.
And maybe we can say that, and just get on with it. However, I fear that for his own salvation's sake, Met. Philip really needs to resign. Your description of him gives me the dreadful sinking feeling that so long as he has responsibility for our Archdiocese, it will be impossible for Met. Philip to live out his life in peace and repentance. And if that sinking feeling really has an objective basis, then his resignation would not only benefit his soul, but our Archdiocese as well.
#69 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-07-11 10:14
MOST REVEREND SUB-DEACON YETTER...
Lets face it the entire ECCLESIOLOGY in North America is SCREWED UP...It is an abomination of pluralistic and overlapping Orthodox jurisdictions. St. Ignatius in his treatise on the "one Bishop overseeing one flock in one location.." expains this fundamental principle which all the heirarchs have abused. Auxilliary or assistant is what bishops are are in this confused system. You can parse and twist this in any language and historical precedent you want. (See Fr. Callaghan's explanation)
Met. Phil is first among "equals" in this system, and he isn't going anywhere. He is just trying to keep the "house in order".
Archdiocean politics has always been a "power grab". Now it is played by Bishops in the mid-west vs. annoyed clergy, cloaked in canonical theory most plainley seen on this web site.
Yetter if you are truley a purist and as Orthodox as you so readily bloviate, why not fight the injustice of false Ecclesiastical pardigms throughout North America.
In this "velvet glove" , "brass knuckles" game of power; the Bishops in the mid-west vs. Met. Philip. I will put my money on the latter. Just speculating here...Maybe you should be thanking the Met, he probably brought you and your parish into the Orthodox faith, so that you could have the esteemed titile of "sub" deacon.
(Editor's note: And other than excorciate Mr. Yetter, Alex, let me ask you the same question: What are doing what to deal with the situation you so accurately describe? We are all guilty of our current situation. Physician, heal thyself.)
#70 Alex on 2009-07-11 16:00
I know that you are reading these posts. I'm still waiting for your response.
#71 Anonymous on 2009-07-11 21:26
Father, with respect, I only have one comment.
The Bishops do NOT rule! CHRIST rules. If I wanted to be in a Church where the bishops ruled and had this sort of power I'd be Catholic. The Bishops are our servants, they SERVE Christ, and His people, and the world. The Bishops TEACH, administer, explain doctrine (and frankly how many Bishops actually DO any of those things today? Mostly I see priests and laymen doing most of the teaching and preaching)...we have our unity in and around our local Bishop, but there is only one RULER, and one head of the Church. If I wanted to be in a Church where the Bishops were the final authority in all matters I'd be Catholic. Until our hierarchy figures all this out, I fear the Church is in for darker times to come.
#72 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-07-12 08:32
Hierarchs are not retired by any "Board of Trustees." Metropolitans are not proclaimed by some vote of Trustees. What do you think this is, General Electric, or Ford? Read the Archdiocese constitution to learn how THE CHURCH recieves its hierarchs. No such thing as acclamation exists, since possibly St. Ambrose or St. John Chrysostom in an entirely different age, and under altogether different circumstances than that of the 21st century!
#73 Athanasios Emmert on 2009-07-12 13:19
If Met. Philip was "trying to keep his house in order", then the results certainly draw into question the serpent-like wisdom you attributed to him earlier. (And that leaves aside the question as to why it is "his" house, and not ours--how does that bit about "He who would be great among you," end?)
I suppose it rankles that we opponents of the only power-grab within our Archdiocese in recent times--the attempt to dethrone duly enthroned diocesan bishops from their sees--can quote the canons and Scripture with greater facility in support of our cause than can those who supported it. I tend to hear out of context, truncated quotes "wise as a serpent" without "harmless as a dove" and the first clause of Apostolic Canon 34 without the second from your side.
"Velvet gloves? Brass knuckles?" I hope you mean that metaphorically, but either way, you have made my point: for his own soul's sake, Met. Philip should resign. He has lived too long in a world of brass knuckles and velvet gloves, too long enjoyed the praise of men and the best seats at banquets, played power politics too long.
At some formal level, given the old administrative structures of the Archdiocese that prevailed at the time, I have cause for gratitude to His Eminence, for some behind-the-scenes approval given to Bishop Basil at the time of our conversion. And I am truly grateful both for his opening of the Archdiocese to converts in general, and for the establishment of the St. Stephens' Course which afforded me, and a fair number of other lowly subdeacons as well as deacons, the opportunity to get "a better theological education than most priests get in the Old Country" as a priest on the East Coast once described it to me.
But gratitude does not change the fact that I converted to Holy Orthodoxy, not a cult of personality centered upon Metropolitan Philip, that I have seen holiness of life in a "Mid-Western bishop" who pays poor missions archpastoral visits without demanding luxury accommodations or large honoraria, but have scarcely seen Metropolitan Philip, even when he really was our bishop, and Bishop Basil was not yet Bishop of Wichita.
As to the scandal of jursidictionalism, I have written here and in other forums an explanation of why the Damascus Constitution as implemented, which I have written fervently in support of during this late unpleasantness, was a step forward: it let us Antiochians among ourselves live under an approximation of normal canonical order in the short run--practice as it were for living with the multiple dioceses and rule by a Holy Synod, that we would have in a united American Orthodox Church--while for the eventual abolition of the anti-canonical divisions in North America, the fact that our bishops seats for the most part are not collocated with bishops of other jurisdictions would make the drawing of diocesan boundaries for a united American Orthodox Church easier.
Nothing would make me happier than for the eventual denoument of this row to be a merger between the AOANA and the OCA--I would presume other jurisdictions would eventually come around, the Greeks last. Unfortunately for my gratitude toward him, Met. Philip's recent attempt to overthrow the beneficial constitution he had negotiated suggests that, for all his earlier advocacy of North American Orthodox unity, he has become an impediment to the process. If he really would be willing to step down from the top of the organizational pyramid (I use secular terminology deliberately) and just be one bishop among many in the Holy Synod of a(n even partially) united American Orthodox Church, see his propaganda arm--"The Word" Magazine--either abolished or put to the service of the greater good, see the Archdiocese's finances come under the same regime as the OCA has now established, then perhaps resignation is not the only balm for the wounds that "velvet glove, brass knuckle power-politics" inflict upon souls.
#74 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-07-12 21:21
Dear Mr. Shingledecker:
With equal respect let me say that I believe you set up a false dichotomy when you say that Christ rules, not bishops. It is both/and, not either-or. The Church is a divine-human institution in which Christ is the Head, and exercises His headship in a visible way through human beings. Thus St. Paul urges that elders who rule and teach well be shown double honor, I Tim . 5:17.
#75 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-07-12 22:35
To st the record straight - many converts entered Orthodoxy via the way of Met. Anthony Bashir, of blessed memory! WAY before Metr. Philip thought of coming to the New World with his old ideas!
#76 Anonymous on 2009-07-13 11:42
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