Permit me a dissent, please, from the view that the Antiochian Archdiocese should not provide Bishop Demetri with financial support. Respectfully, I believe that view is short on kindness and the gentle sentiments encouraged by the Gospel.
Bishop Demetri did not fall into heresy or cause schism. There was nothing malicious or rebellious in what occurred in Michigan that night. According to the evidence I’ve seen, the bishop succumbed to a human weakness, as any of us might.
And, as far as I know, the bishop has repented, as any of us should.
Why further punish this Christian brother, by depriving him of a livelihood?
Consider what Bishop Demetri already suffers: He is a confessed criminal. For the next three decades the law will register him as a sex offender; his mug shot and rap sheet will be posted on line, for the whole world to see. (Indeed, someone recently sent me a link to that picture, on the web page of the Florida Bureau of Corrections, and one hears rumors that it is a page much visited by members of the Archdiocese. Good heavens, my own grandchildren could look up this page, if they knew about it!)
Bishop Demetri’s reputation and standing as a clergyman are ruined. His canonical reinstatement as an active bishop of this Archdiocese is pastorally unthinkable.
Be reasonable: How many parishes would welcome a registered sex offender for a pastoral visit? No one familiar with the sentiments of American parishioners could imagine it.
That is to say, Bishop Demetri is already punished more than enough. When he resigned several years ago, there was some sort of statement from the Archdiocese that he would be given work for which he would be recompensed by the Archdiocese. This recompense should continue.
I am aware that this is a delicate subject, and feelings run high, but there seems to me a measure of unholy malice in the suggestion that Bishop Demetri should simply be cut off from adequate financial support.
If this review of New York not-for-profit statutes does not constitute the "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch," then I don't know what does. The groundwork has clearly been laid for major change in the AA, and the administration has been put on notice. If the clergy are too terrified to press this agenda at the convention, it is comforting to know that well-informed lay persons are ready to follow through until the work is done.
Best wishes to all God-fearing Antiochians from a brother in the OCA.
As to the eminent Chan. Ajalat, he is known to many of us as the ego centric millionaire (times over) whose $$$ to Met P. are well known thru the years.
His "dissertayion" with the departed Bob Koory resulted in his forgiveness before the Met. in order to "remain" as Chancellor. His yearning for prestige and $$$$ to the Archdiocese could not be ignored by our Prelate. Doubt greatly whether he will refer to ANYTHING described by a fellow attorney of this informative and fine article!
Thanks again Mark, our only media access to truth!
Anonymous Western Diocese (finally?)
Well done, Anonymous Antiochian Lawyer! I have enjoyed your contributions (five at this point, plus this postscript?). Your summation is right on. Enough is enough.
(VRev) John H Erickson
St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
This is the first time I have considered myself unlucky not to be part of the Antiochian Archdiocese - I would give a lot to be an observer at this convention. (I like melodramas.) Maybe they should televise it.
Again, I thank you for your invaluable work in pointing out the many ways that the Archdiocese has violated the law. Your effort is well-researched and clearly demonstrates that the Metropolitan has not been well served by his Chancellors (although I can imagine that if and when they questioned +MP on some of these issues, they were shouted down by the Leader).
It seems to me that the only way that reform will come to the Archdiocese is through legal means, and not at open meetings at Conventions where questioners are shouted down by his supporters. There are simply too many questions that can no longer be swept under the rug. I am especially interested in the way that the Metropolitan ignored questions from Damascus and pushed through the Constitution of his making. I cannot believe that the Patriarch does not discipline this man who is out of control, except that the Patriarch is beholden to him for massive fund raisers, yet little or no support for Orthodox seminaries in this country.
Correspondence courses managed by his supporters seems to suffice for seminary training, and while I think +MP, in some ways, has been a good leader over the years, it is also evident that his accomplishments have been greatly exaggerated. And that's okay if he can celebrate his successes and leave before the other problems in the archdiocese are uncovered.
Re Item Three: In truth, each diocese should be incorporated as a Corporate Sole. This would end an injustice and clarify that at this time the word "Archdiocese" is being used in two different ways. First, the Archdiocese is the diocese over which Metropolitan PHILIP serves as the Diocesan Bishop. It is the chief diocese of those which are members along with it whose bishops comprise the Holy Synod. Second, the Archdiocese is the (somewhat impricise) term used for local Church of Antioch in North America and comprises the several dioceses, including the chief "archdiocese". If each diocese were organized as a corporate sole the authority of the diocesan bishop would be strengthened, and provision could easily be made towards the funding and functioning of the Holy Synod thus ensuring continuity and unity within the local Church. This would also allow more transparency of finances as well as clarity between the unity of the Local Church and uniformity within each diocese as determined by the Diocesan Bishop.
Fr. Reardon, while I agree that Bishop Demetri deserves to be treated with compassion including sufficient financial support to heal, he should also be laicized
Why should we suffer hierarchs covering things up when it enables a person with a serious personal problem and risks more victims?
This just smells too much like all the infamous RCC cover-ups where clergy get moved around for ostensibly good reasons just like those you expressed.
If our faith is about anything, it is about facing reality (Christ, ultimately) and responding like men when a hard truth comes. Hard or soft, truth should change a man and often make him weep.
At some point even a pastor has to say, "for the sake of your soul and the safety of others, NO, you may no longer serve." If the scriptures and the cannons aren't clear on this I'll gladly stand corrected.
I am dubious about the application of the English notion of Corporate Sole to the Orthodox Church. I have pointed to canonical support for the notion of financial transparency in the 26th Canon of Chalcedon, which requires bishops to have a steward. While the canons are not a straight-jacket to bind our hierarchs, consideration of this canon makes it clear that the Harps of the Spirit did not identify a bishop with his diocese in the way that the English legal notion does: bishops are not supposed to have sole control of the temporalities of their dioceses, at least not if we follow the lead of the Fathers who gathered at Chalcedon (or for that matter at Nicea in 787 when another canon authorized the Ecumenical Patriarch to appoint stewards for bishops who would not).
Your suggestion would require the dioceses to be incorporated in states that (unlike New York) recognize the notion of a corporate sole--a bit awkward if none of the states in the diocese does so, as is the case with the Archdiocese of New York, and the Diocese of Charleston.
Met. +Philip may imagine and assert that he is a corporation sole and identified legally with his office, but no state in his Archdiocese recognizes him as such.
The condition of our continued financial support of +Demitri was that he would be retired from active service. He is actively serving in Mexico. This is in violation of the terms of our "retirement" support. Therefore AOANA should no longer be supporting him, Mexico should.