Saturday, July 11. 2009
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Thank you, Fr. Paul, for a great article.
However, I think your conclusion is a bit optimistic. The controversy is not over. It has just begun...
We need an audit. We need a thorough legal review. We need a thorough cleaning of the Board of Trustees. Heck, we need a Constitution recognized by the Patriarchate!
Lots of work ahead.
#1 Antionymous Priest on 2009-07-11 10:10
An "effective resolution to the controversy"? I don't think so. +Philip doesn't care what the Bishops are titled as long as he can control, second guess and override them. That has always been the problem with Pope Philip, and it will continue to be the problem.
#2 JPS on 2009-07-11 10:33
I am not so sure that +Philip is interpreting the July 9, 2009 statement as this author has stated. Ordaining a priest or deacon is nothing “extraordinary,” yet +Philip still wants control over this. If +Philip considers this function as “extraordinary” does he himself submit the names of who he wants to ordain to the Local Synod? I highly doubt it. Things still seem to be weighted in +Philip’s favor. If the statement was meant to be defined as Fr. Paul ascribes, why were two bishops against the statement? No, I believe that even the July 9, 2009 statement issued by the Local Synod needs to be clarified.
#3 Anonymous on 2009-07-11 11:08
Why put in the bishop’s title “and Assistant to the Metropolitan?” Doesn’t this go without say? Let’s look at the local level. We say Father (name) is the pastor of St. (name) Orthodox Church. We don’t say Father (name) is the pastor and the representative of Bishop (name) of St. (name) Orthodox Church. It goes without say that the pastor is under the bishop and is the bishop’s representative for that particular parish. I don’t trust MP and believe that he will abuse this title. Just take a look at his track record.
#4 Anonymous on 2009-07-11 11:56
This is the clearest explanation and resolution to this controversy I have read. Praise be to God!!!
#5 anon on 2009-07-11 12:05
Perhaps the resolution is effective ecclesiastically and canonically, but administratively we've still got a mess on our hands that needs to be cleaned up yesterday. I'm not sure what canon the following applies under, but NO AUDIT = NO BUDGET.
#6 Makarios on 2009-07-11 12:11
Excellent Fr. Paul, but will Bp Basil be "blamed" for this ?? And moreso will Metr. Philip accept it. His Em. will meet nxt Sat. in L.A. with Western clergy to "straighten them out", prior to the Conv. which starts following Monday in the desert. Ahhhh! for that word ASSISTANT. A ploy by Damascus to appease Metr. P. ? His loyalists all over parading the title Assistant. A number proclaiming, I told you SO from the BEGINNING! Ah! Damascus a Synod of confusion amongst themselves from years past. Let's SEE Metr. P's acceptance of Wichita good intention? Don't bank on it !
#7 ANONYMOUS MID WEST ANT. PRIEST on 2009-07-11 12:57
I very much like this resolution.
I think the part I like best is that, in theory, Bp. Antoun can only be commemorated when he is presnt in a church; since he was never in throned as a Diocesan Bishop nor does he claim that title. That would make him the only true auxiliary bishop of Archdiocese. The same goes for "he who's name shall not be mentioned" aka the convicted sex offender.
I'm just saying...
#8 Bubba on 2009-07-11 13:01
Ah, but Fr. Paul specifically cites ordaining clergy as something each bishop can do independently. Bp. Basil — through Fr. Paul's essay, which he forwarded to all his clergy — has laid out how he intends to exercise his office, namely, in full fashion. I bet Met. Philip is going to be asked about this piece at his meeting with the LA Diocese clergy. What will he say?
But ultimately Mark's right: the proof of the pudding is in the Manual-drafting. Unfortunately, Bp. Joseph has no particular reason to resist +Philip, except for the good publicity. Consider that, if he inherits the throne, a win by +Philip on the Manual issue would mean additional authority in his new station. On the other hand, if +Basil is chosen, +Joseph knows that he will get maximum autonomy as a diocesan whether +Philip wins on the Manual or not, because that's what +Basil believes in. In short, +Joseph just needs to show a bit of independence so as not to come off looking like +Antoun.
Of course, there is always the possibility he is going to be Orthodox about it and stand with +Basil, +Alexander, and +Mark on principle alone.
If not, matters may come down largely to +Thomas. I wonder why he has been so compliant? I know nothing about him — can anyone enlighten me?
#9 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-07-11 13:37
I would love to believe that this is just the "happy ending" we have all been waiting for, as Fr Paul tries to articulately convey the sunny message from our Local Synod. But there is a hollow ring to it all. More byzantine blah-blah to try and appease the Metropolitan and give the Diocesan bishops some bit of their real authority.
Can't wait to hear the spin on all this that the poor Western Diocese clergy get in their meeting next weekend.
This mess is definitely not over........
#10 Anonymously sad about it all on 2009-07-11 13:56
If it only were that easy. Who are we fooling?
What remains are the administrative and pastoral issues. Not so minor and will not go away on their own. Venture to say that they were more than likely the cause for this eruption to begin with.
Ignore these issues at our own expense. Distrust and disrespect will grow; people will walk.
May the Lord be with us and have mercy on us.
I believe many things. One thing that I do not believe is that Bishop +Basil is trying to placate Metropolitan Philip. I seriously doubt that however +Philip tries to rewrite the manual, he will be able to "fix things" the way he wants, because the precedent is now established that the bishops will have to vote on it.
As to what happens after +Philip retires or goes on to his eternal reward, that problem I think best ought to be left to the Judge of us all.
We should be concentrating on the budget.....
I've been pushing the 26th Canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council as a foundation for financial transparency: it requires that every bishop have a steward chosen from among the clergy whose duty it is to "see to it that the goods of the Church are not squandered, nor reproach brought upon the priesthood."
Obviously under modern circumstances, especially in the absence of a history of transparent finances, and with an Archdiocese swollen to the size of a continent with a host of offices and departments the Fathers of Chalcedon would never have conceived (and probably shake their heads at slightly from their places in Paradise), the first thing such a steward would need to do is hire a good team of outside auditors to go over the books. We can see that the absence of an outside audit contributed to reproach being brought upon the priesthood in the case of the late troubles in the OCA, and even the rumors of financial improprieties in the AOANA are bringing "reproach. . .upon the priesthood."
Without an outside audit, the purpose the Fathers of Chalcedon had in framing the 26th canon goes unfulfilled: no one assures that the "goods of the Church are not squandered" and even if the rumors are groundless, reproach is brought upon the priesthood.
(Incidentally, a canon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council allows the Ecumenical Patriarch to appoint a steward for any bishop lacking one, so as you can see financial transparency was a matter that concerned the Harps of the Spirit on several occasions.)
#13 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-07-11 14:41
I am concerned that MP will interpret the July 9th decision as giving him undisputed authority throughout the archdiocese except in the named city over which each diocesan bishop presides. In the case of the four rogues in Detroit, for example, MP will say that +Mark has no authority since his span of control is limited to Toledo, and thus Detroit falls within the direct authority of the Metropolitan with +Mark "assisting."
(Editor's note: This is a groundless fear. I suggest you read Fr. Paul's reflection posted today for how this arrangement is understood by both the Metropoltian and the bishops. The decision was arrived at by a vote - not by fiat. )
#14 Larry Fitterer on 2009-07-11 17:56
The vying for power on the local Synod will continue, make no mistake, today the votes were 4-3 or 5-2 depending on who you talk to, last time they were 4-2.5 (Alexander was the .5) The dissagreements will continue especially as they have agreed to develop a manual of Hierarchichal responsibilities. Are they going to jointly develop it or will it be imposed on them?
Unfortunately our Hierarchs have adopted the age old negotiating technique of positional bargaining - the kind where you hold out the most extreme position only at the last moment to make a tiny concession to seal the deal. This system of negotiation always has a winner and a looser. It is taught at a very young age in the markets and shops of the middle east and on the used car lots of middle america. It is shame and fear based.
Too bad they could not adopt a more healthy method of negotiation, one where you develop common interests and goals and build consensus among the parties involved and develop unity by common agreement rather than unity by force. Force only produces resentment.
But let me remind you all that just as Canon Law is more like canonical suggestions to Englewood so to is financial accountability.
Our finances are like a house of cards that will inevitably fall, even if this Metropolitain is beyond reproach who is to say the next Metropolitain will be. For the Good of this God-protected Archdiocese we need an independant audit. NOW
Oh and did I mention that when the delegates vote and pass a motion for an audit all of this, Helper, Auxiliary, Assistant nonsense will go away, because we will see the financial mismanagement that is waiting to be brought to the light and a new era will ensue for Antiochian Orthodoxy on this continent just as the OCA experienced.
Indulge me once again....
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
No Audit = No Budget
(9 times for the hierarchy reading this.)
#15 Delegate #1 on 2009-07-11 19:29
Your cost-benefit calculus undertaken from the point of view of a hypothetical Bishop Joseph concerned only for his ecclesiastical status (whether the actual Bishop of Los Angeles is such a person, I have no way of knowing) overlooks two things:
First, and most salient is that Bishop Joseph might well be concerned more with the good of his flock than his own ecclesiastical status. After all, he has crossed Met. Philip on the matter of +Philip's tendency to pair down services, and if my intuition of the 4-2 split in the local Holy Synod is correct, 3 other bishops would have his back if he stands up for Holy Tradition.
Second, even if His Grace were first and foremost an ecclesiastical politician, you leave Patriarch Ignatius and the Holy Synod of Antioch out of the calculus you undertake on his behalf.
Wait, pray, and if you're going to the Convention as a delegate, demand an audit.
#16 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-07-11 20:28
I had a feeling it was going to happen. TheAntiochian.com is now chortling about our "assistant bishops."
As one who handles words for a living, I am finding it increasingly difficult to treat with the same respect the new title "Bishop of Miami and Assistant to the Metropolitan" as I would the old "Bishop of the Diocese of Miami and the Southeast." The perception of diminished authority is apparent in the new title. And in the court of public opinion, perception matters – a lot. Were our bishops snookered?
I'm beginning to think the July 9 article should have been titled "+Philip *Winks*" rather than "+Philip Blinks."
#17 Makarios on 2009-07-11 21:10
It will not be over until there is an audit.
It will not be over until the architects of this disaster are disciplined.
It will not be over until those from our AOCA who manipulated documents in the Patriarchal office are disciplined.
It will not be over until Nasr, Gabriel, Antypas and Shalhoub are disciplined and their parish finances audited.
We must have transparency.
It will not beover until the old guard is removed, including +Philip and +Antoun. Enough with the bullies and intimidation.
Enough of their lies.
43 years of Lies
I am sick of hearing MP LIE and when one says he is, someone whispers, "He is the Metropolitan."
Are Bishops exempt from morals?
Do we not have HIGHER STANDARDS AS CHRISTIANS?
HIGHER STANDARDS FOR CLERGY AND HIERARCHS?
WE need a vote of confidence at the Convention.
NO AUDIT = NO BUDGET
#18 betrayed on 2009-07-12 03:55
Are the votes recorded on the "other website" (one big sic for illiterate writing), accurate? Does this mean +MP has the authority to transfer Bishop Mark anywhere he chooses? If so, I say ANAXIOS to the Metropolitan because if that should happen, it would mean that the arrogant and rebellious priests in Michigan would have triumphed in the controversy, and we are back to where we started. I suggest that those priests find a a spot in the sunny south where they can serve under Bishop Antoun and perhaps think about retirement condos in Miami or Naples. Bishop Antoun would be perfect for their wishes. Meanwhile we in the midwest support our Bishop Mark.
(Editor's note: No, the Metropolitan may not transfer a Bishop from his See without that hierarch's agreement. That ship sailed for good on June 17th, as confirmed by July 10th. Of course, the Metropolitan could spark another round of crisis by attempting it - but I imagine an appeal to the Synod of Antioch by the aggreived Bishop would be warmly received, and upheld. Bishop Mark is staying in Toledo - the real question is having been thwarted in Plan A, will +Philip try Plan B and attempt to bring back +Demetri to the Northwest, or Northeast? )
#19 anon on 2009-07-12 05:34
Yeah, it's one of the stupidest ways to have to commemorate a bishop that I've heard yet. However, and this is a big "however," if that is what it takes for Metropolitan Philip to save face a bit, then so be it. We know our bishops are bishops. This issue may not be completely dead, but Fr. Paul and the other priest who cares about canon law are on the right track in how we should understand this statement. The other issues, of course, have yet to be appropriately addressed (i.e. are we governing ourselves legally, financial questions, +Dimitri, the proper role of the laity, etc.). I tell you, this archdiocese's problems never cease to amaze me. Thankfully, the steadfastness of many people to see things through never ceases to amaze me, either.
As you note, we're in it for the long haul but I would also note that we have people willing to run that race.
The bigger question is who will be responsible for when sexual abuse and harassment charges are rendered?
How much of this GERRYMANDERING of responsibilities was engineered to deflect the arrows and allegations against
Bishop Demetri Khoury?
By stretching the length of time when allegation surface, "Oh the bishop is out the county..."" blah, blah blah..
Oh its not me, Oh its that other Bishop's responsibility.
Oh now the bishop is in rehab and writing books for the clergy in Florida.
What Orthodox Bishop has taken responsibility for clergy sexual abuse? So disheartening Met Jonah of the OCA goes to Dallas and speaks with an Anglican group with known sexual issues and never offers any hope or consolation to the very city invested in the plague in which the perpetrator of abuse was found out and died without a statement of repentance all in the same week! No one word spoken, no “I am sorry for the sexual abuse and hurt which happened in this town and or in another town”.
I hope every victim hurt by the Orthodox priest Katinas will come forward to the law firm of
Tahira Khan Merritt
8499 Greenville Ave. Suite 206
Dallas, TX 75231
Toll free: 888-901-5931
See SNAP Orthodox and Pokrov.org for details on Katinas and
Can it not be clearly seen from the victims of the priest Nicholas Katinas that there was no hope or help for Orthodox victims of clergy sexual abuse in the same city of Dallas by the church? Katinas had been applauded for his Pan Othodox activites and idol church construction.
What use is the word Pan or gatherings over and over again about unity or canons when the problems at hand find only another carpet to pushed under, some other activity or mission to detract.
When they put out the eagle rugs for the bishops in church they might as well enlist a sweeper to make some ceremonial sweeps under this bishop's carpet.
Each and every unity conference and each and every meeting of the Orthodox should be preceded by the statement of who will take responsibility for aid to victims of sexual abuse hurt by clergy.
I applaud Attorney Tahira K. Merritt to have stepped up to the plate to have made these victims of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Church her interest.
No church is a safe church until they align themselves with the victims who have suffered and the attorneys who help the victims come forward.
Everything else is vanity.
I don't see how the Patriarchate would come into play regarding his position on the Manual-drafting. It is one thing for +Philip to seize power and demote bishops, and another thing for the bishops to voluntarily hand it to him during the drafting process. As to the kind of man Bp. Joseph is, I do not know either. I can only repeat an earlier posting of mine — submitted too late to be seen by most.
I think of my perspective as caution, but perhaps cynicism has gotten the better of me. If anyone can provide an apologia for Bp. Joseph's actions, I would sincerely like to hear it.
Frankly, I find Met. Joseph's behavior to be consistent, not with an extension of Met. Philip, but with someone who knows how to play politics for his own advantage.
When he was an auxiliary — when he developed his reputation for belonging to Met. Philip — doing his the will of the Met. was the smart move. Once he gained diocesan statue, the risks of bucking the Met. in minor ways became minute in comparison to the gains: distance from the incumbent and a reputation for independence. But when it looked like Met. Philip had won back his old power, Bp. Joseph did not stand up for Orthodoxy, but abandoned his bolder brothers and signed on the dotted line.
Now, though — now that the outcome is in question — silence is the shrewd move, because it can be interpreted as prudence or modesty, and it avoids a direct challenge to either party. Personally, I think silence unconscionable, and no speechwriter will convince me otherwise. ...
Bp. Joseph is the favorite, by far, of Met. Philip's old guard cronies. For an example of this, you may visit The Antiochian , where a drooling endorsement of Bp. Joseph's ascendancy to the Metropolitan's throne is on grotesque display. These men may know little of canons or ecclesiology, but they are not stupid, and they know what is in their interest and what is not.
Let him repudiate this cast of characters, stand up now for the tradition of the Church, and bring into the light of truth the events he has witnessed. Otherwise, let us rather repose our confidence in those who have risked themselves to support what is right.
#22 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-07-12 20:50
The question is what is anybody planning to do about this?
Are people going to the Convention? Will there be an opportunity to bring up issues? To ask questions? etc.?
I haven't heard anything about some sort of plan, just a bunch of us venting our frustration. But what good will that do unless it is translated into action?
From what I gathered the West Coast clergy meeting with the Met. is not going to be an occassion for rocking the boat. It has even been mentioned that clergy won't even ask any question about all that has happened. Too many are too scared to even ask!!
So it seems it comes to the laity to do anything. But what plan is there for doing anything??
Do not be deceived as a prev. blog wrote, "Bishop Joseph not to be trusted, a double agent for the Patriarch." 26days in Damascus priming (some success?) the Synod. "Assistant" title pleases him if (as many agree) he should become Metroplitan it would please him. Many here distrust him and we did not vote for him (or Bp Demetri) as we did ALL other elections since the mid-30's for our Bishops. A bad precedent! ...
#24 Anonymous Western Diocese on 2009-07-13 00:05
Why Nasr, I think he said one post which was to leave the subject alone off the website. I guess that is bad?
#25 William on 2009-07-13 06:36
I think your usual balance and good sense has been disturbed a bit, perhaps by seeing people you disagree with praise Bp. Joseph. You ask for an apologia, but I highly doubt that you will get one from him or anyone. He does not give them or ask others to do so for him.
Where, as here, there is little public evidence about what Bp. Joseph actually believes and does, people are left to reading tea leaves. Doesn't that usually come down more or less to projecting on the evidence (the tea leaves in the bottom of the cup) whatever images the interpreter already has in mind?
For example you seem to assume that when, in the initial years of his episcopate here, he was assigned as an auxiliary - and behaved like one - he was merely playing politics, behaving expediently, and biding his time. The evidence is just as supportive of the view that he was doing his job the way he was supposed to do it given the job description at the time.
You choose to see his signature on the Feb. 24th statement as a betrayal of Orthodoxy and his "bolder brothers." At the May PLC clergy meeting Bishop Joseph told us he signed to signify his willingness to obey the Holy Synod, not because he himself felt any change in diocesan status was needed.
His basic public silence is interpreted by you, as wiliness. When you look back at his history in office, however, he has always practiced and recommended to his clergy public silence as the best basic stance when there is friction - a position that spiritual writers advocate pretty uniformly too. Why not interpret Bishop Joseph's silence as stemming from the belief that, given the strongly opposing public positions on display at the time, quiet diplomacy was the best way to serve the Church?
#26 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-07-13 08:24
Incidentally, that text was supposed to be surrounded by asterisks (*) to set it off as a long quote, not bolded like some kind of manifesto. ( Mark, please correct this if you can, maybe by substituting # or • or something.)
Sorry. Next time I'll use the "preview" function.
#27 A Fellow Othodox Christian on 2009-07-13 08:52
Quote: 'What Orthodox Bishop has taken responsibility for clergy sexual abuse? So disheartening Met Jonah of the OCA goes to Dallas and speaks with an Anglican group with known sexual issues"
You have confused the Anglican group meeting in Dallas with The Episcopal Church, which indeed does have known sexual issues including a gay, partnered bishop. The group to which Met Jonah spoke has split from the TEC and is faithful to the bible and tradition of the church universal.
#28 Brad Miter on 2009-07-13 09:07
Please: we must stay on topic. Anglicans have nothing to do with this article, nor do Ms Merritt's street address or local, toll-free, and fax numbers, however admirable her work.
Bp. Demetri was removed from duty immediately after he offended. Then he was inappropriately sent out of the country to serve, which lasted until recently. The problem right now is the possibility of his serving next in America.
To stop that, and more, from happening we need to stay on target as the convention approaches.
#29 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-07-13 09:09
It does seem to me that the so-called concessions we are now hearing may be nothing more than a cynical attempt to appear to concede the hot topics (aside from financial audit) to take the steam out of those being cast as reformers. MP is used to getting his way. This issue is not going away. Regularly scheduled financial audits from the parish level to the Archdiocese are mandatory to resolution and ought to be called for by the Articles of Incorporation. Resignation of MP is mandatory for resolution. It is not my responsibility to seek to bring him up under criminal charges ... for my part, it is sufficient that he depart. In a society that lifts up Michael Jackson, a freak and an allegded child molester as a cultural hero, what does it say when the Church honors one who appears to have attempted to deceive us with forged documents? One who has continued to affirm a sexual molester bishop at the expense of the flock and the honor of Orthodoxy? With one who has thrown the authority of his office and his personality behind a power grab that was a direct attack upon the conciliar nature of the Orthodox Church? No, his is anaxios.
I don't really care about who gets away with getting his own way. I don't care about ego struggles or the politics involved here. It is like watching a train wreck ... a fascination both attracting and repelling. But from where I stand, it looks to me that if MP has his way, it will be at the expense of Holy Tradition, of Orthodoxy, and of the worshiping Body of Christ. I cannot say whether MP is blind to spiritual reality and I cannot judge whether he might return ten talents or a thousand to our Lord but we are under authority to do no harm. Bishops are to be above reproach. It is a false humility on our part to confuse our own need for repentance, our responsibility not to put others under condemnation, with allowing harm to come to God's children because we would not act as true parents.
Sure, it would be easier to not find out certain things. We were not told discipleship would be easy. We struggle in a spiritual twilight where we must grab hold of and struggle with ailments that oppress our spiritual household. We are dependent upon others to assist us in bringing them to the Light so that their power may be loosened. But having done so, having named the sin and gained power over it, we MUST cast it out or the last state becomes open rebellion against God. Heal the man but exorcise the demon. Without exorcism, we cannot be whole.
#30 Monologistos on 2009-07-13 09:49
Fr George, your response to AFOC included this:
"You choose to see his signature on the Feb. 24th statement as a betrayal of Orthodoxy and his "bolder brothers." At the May PLC clergy meeting Bishop Joseph told us he signed to signify his willingness to obey the Holy Synod, not because he himself felt any change in diocesan status was needed."
While you are content not to conjecture about Bp Joseph, his inclination to obedience (as in apparently "blind obedience"), should raise several questions for all of us. Did any of the clergy dare ask how Bp J understands obedience, or the episcopacy? Or how does he understand ecclesiology with his agreement to sign?
I make no judgment about his being wile, but his silence causes serious concern. And so does his only public explanation.
#31 Another Anon on 2009-07-13 13:00
Mark, I respectfully disagree with you. I do not believe this is a "groundless fear." If we were dealing with an honorable and rational person I would fully agree with you. In theory, you are 100% correct. In practice, well, we'll see.
#32 Anonymous on 2009-07-13 13:47
Yes, so what are the practical steps here? What are you going to do about it?
#33 Chris on 2009-07-13 15:10
Now, you see, that is the sort of thing I am looking for.
To a point, you are right. After all, if the Klan endorsed a candidate for office, I would not take that as proof that the candidate was a violent racist. But if I then realized that I had no idea what he thought about race, and that they knew a lot more about him than I did — I'd feel justified in wondering.
Again, the Detroit crowd did not get to be rich by being stupid. Frankly, I trust their judgment as to what is good for them. Yes, perhaps they were just kissing up. Perhaps he would rather not, through criticism, draw attention to their combination of praise and bashing. Could be: I didn't and don't deny it. But I feel that now is not the time for closing our eyes to the other possibility — and can you be surprised that, these days, the trust of some must be earned?
What is not speculation is his signing and his silence. You write, "Bishop Joseph told us he signed to signify his willingness to obey the Holy Synod, not because he himself felt any change in diocesan status was needed." But whether it was "needed" or not, by his calculations, is moot . The point is that it was wrong — a frontal assault on our canonical tradition in letter and spirit and on the ecclesiology this tradition reflects. He simply never should have assented to such a thing — full stop. The other bishops would not believe that Met. Philip's will reflected a decision of our Holy Synod: would the patriarchate, they asked, really have said such a thing? If I assume that Bp. Joseph was acting on principle, I must conclude that he found the scenario perfectly plausible, and Met. Philip's claim Orthodox. That does not much soothe me.
You speak of his preference for "public silence as the best basic stance when there is friction - a position that spiritual writers advocate pretty uniformly too." Well, we are thinking of different spiritual writers! Surely you have seen the hundreds of letters that Bishop-Saints like St. Basil wrote on issues of every kind? St. John Chrysostom got himself martyred for speaking out against the Emperor's remarriage. The fathers often praise silence — in a personal context. A bishop has neither an obligation nor a right to remain silent in the midst of serious scandal. The obligation of those who hold teaching offices is to teach .
I could multiply patristic exhortations to Christians, and even bishops particularly, to speak out at such times as this. Wasn't this among the reasons St. Gregory Nazianzen fled, and later resigned, the episcopacy — because he preferred silence and peace, a silence and peace which his office did not permit him? Yet he himself says:
"[The most eminent men] are openly at war with the priests, and their piety is an aid to their powers of persuasion. And indeed, provided that it be on behalf of the faith, and of the highest and most important questions, let them be thus disposed, and I blame them not; nay, to say the truth, I go so far as to praise and congratulate them. Yea! would that I were one of those who contend and incur hatred for the truth's sake: or rather, I can boast of being one of them. For better is a laudable war than a peace which severs a man from God: and therefore it is that the Spirit arms the gentle warrior, as one who is able to wage war in a good cause" (Oration 2, 82).
It is certainly possible that Bp. Joseph's silence is not from any base considerations, but owes to his not knowing, not believing, or not facing this principle. Or I could give him the benefit of the doubt on both counts, and posit that he simply does not think this a "good cause." After all, as St. Gregory continues:
"[T]here are some who go to war even about small matters and to no purpose, and, with great ignorance and audacity, accept, as an associate in their ill-doing, anyone whoever he may be. Then everyone makes the faith his pretext, and this venerable name is dragged into their private quarrels" (83).
Such is the position of those who claim this was all just a "minor administrative matter" and of no fundamental importance. But, if this is what Bp. Joseph believes, then he does not understand something vital to the life of the Church, and especially of a nascent Church such as ours in America.
So, no, he need not be focused on power. I emphasized this possibility largely because of a couple of red flags: the fear among his clergy that some report and a couple of incidents in which he chose to "correct" clergy by means of public humiliation. (I do not know the clergymen themselves, but the whole point of such exercises is that there should be eyewitnesses, which there were.) Of course, these fragments are not a solid basis for judgment. I am only pointing out the possibilities — because I feel that now is a time to exercise the greatest caution and not to assume loyalty to the faith without cause. After all, who would have imagined six months ago that Met. Philip would suddenly overthrow the genuine accomplishment to which he had previously seemed so devoted?
To conclude: I ought to have made more clear that I was , as you say, projecting a picture — one of several, and one that presented Bp. Joseph in the worst of lights. My failure to do so was inexcusably careless, especially in light of his office. I do not know his true character, nor do I claim the right or ability to draw conclusions about it. I only offer speculations — and I look forward to the time, hopefully soon, when I will no longer have any reason for doing so.
#34 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-07-13 18:24
"St. John Chrysostom got himself martyred for speaking out against the Emperor's remarriage."
Sorry — a little tired there. That was St. Theodore the Studite, who wasn't martyred and also wasn't a bishop.
The person St. John Chrysostom spoke out against was Empress Eudoxia.
#35 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-07-13 18:56
Why append a title that should be contentless given the conciliar nature of the Church? Because our chief hierarch loves the praise of men and the best seats at banquets. (Capital T "The Metropolitan", commemorative coffee-table books, . . .) The most salient reason for which Met. Philip should step down is not the promulgation of fraudulent documents and interpretations of synodal decrees in manners contradicting Holy Tradition, nor the appointment of criminals as representatives of the Archdiocese to the Holy Synod, nor even the failure to provide financial accountability. No, he should step down for the sake of his own salvation.
#36 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-07-14 21:27
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