Friday, October 9. 2009
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An interesting turn of events, don't cha know!
#1 Anonymous on 2009-10-09 07:47
The folks in Fargo must be rejoicing that they and their pastor are free from the insanity of the AOC.
Our loss the OCA's gain. God grant them all many years as they are now free to proclaim the Kingdom of God instead of Englewood's, or Wormwood's?...for some reason it is easy to confuse the two
#2 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-10-09 07:51
What a delicious irony! MP kicks out his own parish priest for daring to ask questions, the Antiochian parish disbands and then the OCA forms a parish with Father Herbel as priest. I'm tempted to say "our loss, their gain," except that the spiritual and emotional scars from this sorry episode make it a loss for everybody. How many members of the old St. Nicholas parish will never come back to ANY Orthodox parish?
By the way, where does MP get his authority to remove Father Herbel? If he's in the Midwest, then he's under Bishop Mark. MP's episcopal authority extends to his own diocese, of which he is Archbishop, and his archepiscopal authority extends to Archdiocesan matters, such as Word Magazine, Antiochian Village and the other archdiocesan operations.
The "Met" who would be Pope, methinks. The sooner he's gone, the better - and his office let another take.
#3 Edmund on 2009-10-09 07:52
I am hesitant to comment on this story, as it involves me, but I would like to clarify that there is not a single member of the Antiochian St. Nicholas mission who will never go to another Orthodox Church over this. The decision to go to the OCA was a consensus. This mission has been through the fire of Hades before. We are united around the Gospel. An ecclesiastical bump in the road is not about to knock anyone off.
That was my point. Just the most recent example of +MP overstepping his bounds.
#5 Antionymous on 2009-10-09 08:22
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake! Fr. Oliver, you have proven yourself to be a true shepherd and a loving and courageous follower of Christ. Your sheep know your voice and followed you.
The rest of us can only shake our heads in deep sadness as we watch a worsening tyrant and impostor continue to terrorize and abuse the innocent and scatter the sheep, in the name of "authority" and demand blind obedience, a wholly un-Orthodox and un-Christian concept.
The Antiochian Synod, tasked with conciliarity and keeping in check their brother bishop seem to be cowering in silence and allowing this travesty to grow and continue unabated. Where is their love for Met. Phillip? True friends speak the truth and love you enough to tell you when you have become a delusional dictator, darn the consequences. It appears that too many "lions for Christ" do not trust God and Christ enough to do the right thing! Meanwhile the rest of the sheep and countless priest continue to suffer and be scattered. Lord Have Mercy!
This can't come as a shock to anyone-- except maybe to those who refuse to believe that +Philip is vindictive. His letter to Father Oliver is more transparently false than his letter about St. Vladimir's; there was no disobedience and no critical internet postings. This is all about getting rid of dissenters. I shudder to think of the instant defrocking that would have been attempted if Father Oliver had been Antiochian. Really disgusting behavior on the part of +Philip, particularly when he tells us that he's not afraid of light shining into Archdiocesan affairs. What a crock!
Edmund- Note that Father Oliver properly disregarded +Philip's letter and sought a proper release from Bishop Mark.
All of you who are withholding financial contributions that would otherwise go to the Antiochian Archdiocese ought to take note of the address and send your money to a parish who could use it-- and use it honestly.
#7 Silouan James on 2009-10-09 08:53
Holy Resurrection Orthodox Mission? Sheer brilliance. May our Lord grant them many years of worship and service!
#8 anonymous on 2009-10-09 09:00
Many years to Fr. Oliver and Holy Resurrection Orthodox Mission. For a more personal reflection on the events affecting Orthdoxy in Fargo, check out the heart-felt, thought-filled words of Fr. Oliver's godson, the Ochlophobist, at http://ochlophobist.blogspot.com/2009/10/i-suppose-coen-brothers-could-have.html
#9 Mickey Hodges on 2009-10-09 09:24
I have just read a paragraph posted by Owen White on "The Ochlophobist" blog, that explains the unbelievable situation that Met. Phillip has caused in the Antiochian Archdiocese:
"We now have a situation where a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty to a drunken sexual assault during a trip to a casino (invited by an Order of St. Ignatius member who was later given an ecclesial award by the Archdiocese) is now allowed to serve, as an active bishop, in a Liturgy in any parish in this Archdiocese. And Fr. Oliver, a man who has sacrificed career and financial security and given earnestly of himself in order to do mission work in his native land and who is, by the account of all who know him, a man of unquestionable integrity and honesty – here we have a man no longer allowed to serve in any Antiochian parish. The next time +Philip speaks about Orthodox evangelism in America, dear reader, I hope you remember Fr. Oliver and the faithful Orthodox of Fargo. There has not been a Divine Liturgy in Fargo since August. After receiving the antimins from +Job this coming Tuesday, their first Divine Liturgy in two months will occur October 18th. They have prayed Matins and Vespers services during the duration. After sacking Fr. Oliver, Englewood did nothing to contact or inquire into the spiritual well being of the AOANA faithful there. Hence, those faithful, of their own accord, left the AOANA, and now there is an OCA mission in Fargo."
"You shall know them by their fruits!"
And what does Christ say about the requirements of true discipleship and Christian authority and leadership?
"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24)
"If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." (Mark 9:35)
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. "And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave; "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28)
"But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:11-12)
Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' "But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. "For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves." (Luke 22:24-28)
"You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." (John 13:13-17)
Has Met. Phillip actually read these passages and understood these words from Christ? How do his words and actions rhyme with the teaching of our Lord? I'm very afraid of that answer, you should be also!
Sadly many of us saw this coming, however I had hoped that this could have been avoided if Fr Herbel, Bishop Mark and the OCA did the right thing.
While I certainly understand Fr Oliver's desire to flee from the AOCANA, this situation could have given the bishops and the Archdiocese an opportunity to confront its abusive Primate. This situation should have been addressed in in spiritual court not the court of public opinion.
Unfortunately, Fr Oliver for requesting to be released, Bp Mark for accepting it, and the OCA for establishing the mission, have only enabled the abusive +Philip. In reality his abusive behavior is encouraged by not confronting it in a conciliar fashion. Any behaviour that does not experience its own consequences is actually reinforced. You are making a monster!
So to make it simple Fr Herbel, Bp Mark and Bp Job have and continue to participate in the sin of +Philip. No sin is personal, +Philip may write the letters but when good men do nothing they take the sin upon themselves.
Fr Herbel with his council could have appealed to the Local Synod, Bishop Mark could have refused to accept the request and taken it to the Local Synod next week, The OCA could take this to SCOBA etc... you get the idea. But that would be messy and difficult, it would involve, perseverance, compassion, forbearance it would most importantly require us to speak the truth in love.
Sorry but blood is on everyone's hands!!!
(Just a thought -- perhaps we have all been making this "monster" for the past 40 years and we all are culpable for his behaviour)
(Editor's note: The people in Fargo have gone without a Liturgy for two months - you would ask them to continue so for another six months to make your point above? I do not think that is practical or even possible from a pastoral point of view. No, +Philip has acted and now it is up to the local Synod, the Board of Trustees, the members of the Order of St. Ignatius, and all the parishes and people of the Archdiocese to remain silent or speak out according to their beliefs and conscience.)
#11 Delegate #1 on 2009-10-09 10:03
As much as I feel for Fr. Oliver and his former mission parish, I oppose the OCA taking this mission. The problem of one jurisdiction injecting itself into the mess of another has been a long established and shameful practice in this country. The bishops act like whores where real estate and sheep are involved.
SCOBA is supposed to address these issues, but that organ too is a failure when it comes to this topic. We need either a unified Church or strong and clearly defined jurisdictional lines. The Archbishop of the midwest himself was victimized in my former parish of Stratford, CT by rocor. Let us now see how he deals with this unfortunate event.
BTW I don't have an answer for the faithful of Fargo. I only know that obedience is a matter of convenience these days. I myself am not without fault, for I would pull down the OCA and recreate it according to my own rules and desires. Thank God I'm not in charge!
(Editor's note: In this case, sadly, the parish was abandoned by +Philip. Should the parish have remained abandoned, and dissolved in all ways because of "obedience"? This would seem to losing sight of the forest for the trees. In the end, even if SCOBA had been involved, the only priest available would have been an OCA priest who could not serve in an Antiochian parish. In short, this was the only possible solution if any parish was to remain in Fargo. So, yes, I am glad you are not in charge. )
#12 no name on 2009-10-09 10:23
What was the origional amount of the grant?
#13 D. Homiak on 2009-10-09 12:14
Well, anyone have doubts about speaking up at the Conventions ?? I was there and Fr Herbel spoke calmly but not what the Despota of Englewood wanted to hear. Know a number of missions (other than the easily shaken former EOC) would love to become OCA. But, they don't want the anguish that accompanies such a move. E>G> poor Ben Lomond. The former Metropolitan would have stated, Unhappy - then go in peace! My Aunt witnessed this in So. Jersey years ago! No anger or retribution"
Met. Philip needs to READ Abbot Touma's articles and read the life of the new Archbishop of Tripoli !
Warning (in advance) to all attending the 2011 Convention in Chicago - "SHUT YOUR MOUTH, PLEASE!"
#14 ANONYMOUS PRIEST on 2009-10-09 12:19
"By the way, where does MP get his authority to remove Father Herbel? If he's in the Midwest, then he's under Bishop Mark."
The "manual"-drafting process is supposed to clear this up (clear this up, I mean, for those who are unable to read the earliest canons of the Church). Hopefully Met. Philip's ham-handed interventions have shown Bp. Thomas why it is important to be a real diocesan, and hopefully Bp. Joseph will take a stand on principle.
#15 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-10-09 12:33
Bishop Mark should file an appeal to the patriarchate on grounds that Metropolitan Philip has exceeded his authority. +Philip obviously is guilty of the Roman heresy of ecclesiological supremacy (not to mention misrepresenting the truth).
He is Anaxios!
To Fr. Oliver,
My prayers are with you and your flock. You now have a chief hierarch who has the integrity to stand up for the truth instead of corrupt cronyism.
#16 Disgusted Antiochian Priest on 2009-10-09 12:39
MP and his coharts do NOT care about Scripture, the Canons or Holy Tradition.
They only care about Power, position and Money!
Stop the flow of cash and flattery!
Support the downtrodden!
MP does NOT care about Fargo as they are NOT his people and they have no real CASH VALUE$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!
#17 Anonymous on 2009-10-09 12:57
I told you and others here previously; it's all about falling in and out of "GRACE" with +Philip. He is an "absolute ruler." Remember "Alice in Wonderland?" "Off with their heads!" This was the typical way kings and rulers acted. If you were in their graces, you could do no wrong. If you fell out of their grace, you became personae non grata .... No different than King Herod!
#18 Anonymous on 2009-10-09 13:05
More power to you and your parish! Pray for us in the AOC.
Why did you not appeal to your direct authority, your diocesan Bishop?
#19 Robert Fortuin on 2009-10-09 13:19
Fr. Oliver was too good to survive in Philip's kennel for very much longer.
How about send him and his mission a little thank-you offering?
#20 anonymous on 2009-10-09 13:35
Fr. Herbel, as soon as I get paid you'll have a check coming. You're in good company.
#21 Kevin Klein on 2009-10-09 13:49
I am not sure we have heard the last of this. MP will see this as a poke in the eye from the OCA. Attempts to explain the logic of this decision will be fruitless because logic is not a quality greatly valued in the Antiochian world. Retribution could follow. St. Vladimir's Seminary would be the obvious target.
On the other hand, in his slightly weakened position, he might be satisfied with getting rid of one priest who has fallen prey to the sin of using logic and common sense, and dumping a parish that brings in no money.
#22 Marcel Herle on 2009-10-09 13:58
With all due respect, and I am thankful for your support, that is the opposite reaction I was hoping for. Further fear and silence is not the answer. Our parish had to walk away from a building in the past. It can be done. Anguish, yes, but we have a faith of the Cross.
Forgive me, father. I mean no offense, and I am very thankful you were there and saw it as you did. I simply differ from you in what I think the response ought to be. Next time, let's have fifty stand up and ask questions, even if their questions are stumbling over each other and not getting answered. One solution is to run and hide. Another is to solidify.
From what I understand, priests on loan to the archdiocese are in an ambiguous position. They are loaned to the archdiocese, then placed in a parish in a diocese. So which bishop is in charge of telling the prior jurisdiction that the clergyman is no longer needed -- +Philip or the diocesan bishop? This was not a clear future "win" for Fr. Oliver and the Fargo mission. Further, Fr. Oliver did take a stand in integrity. He should not be blamed here.
There is also the virtue of "prudence," a virtue I happen to know Fr. Oliver believes in. Is it prudent for a priest and a mission to put mission work on hold simply to encourage a fight that would have gone to the synod and then been voted against them? Is it prudent for +Mark and +Philip to enter the synod meeting at each other's throats? Would it be prudent to go into "stasis" to shift jurisdiction, but to prolong that "stasis" in an eventually lost battle?
I have no doubt that Fr. Oliver would have stood his ground if it was merely up to him, as he did in Palm Desert. He does, however, have a mission parish to pastor. A shepherd cares for his rational sheep. In this case, they all together chose greener pastures, I would venture to say.
As for +Mark, he probably realized the same and did what was best for the flock in question. Let's see what happens when our Local Shepherds…re…Synod, meet next week. It appears +Philip engineered a "conviction" based on a false allegation with no evidence. I'd say it's time to pray for our bishops.
#24 Mickey Hodges on 2009-10-09 15:04
Thank you for using your full name. Your question is a fair one and in light of that, I can understand why some consider me a coward. I think Mickey Hodges' comment below gets to the crux of the matter. it is ambiguous to whom I was on loan to. I was on loan to the archdiocese but serving a parish under a diocesan bishop. There is also the prudence of the matter. I had to listen to my parish and avoid making them ground zero for the entirety of the AOCANA's problems. We were already ground zero for my question asking. Also, if Bp Mark and Metropolitan Philip had been arguing over this going into the synod meeting and board of trustees meeting, would any real headway have any chance of being made in those meetings? For what it's worth, read the article above again and you'll notice that I did contact Bishop Mark, and told him I concurred with Metropolitan Philip inasmuch as I believed I should be recalled. Finally, you need to know that as a priest on loan, I could be recalled by my loaning bishop. Archbishop Job graciously recalled me. I hope NO ONE blames him for ANYTHING in this. That is his prerogative. Frankly, he made the prudent decision.
I think I have commented enough. Maybe too much. I am ambivalent about the comment section on a piece directly about me, but you asked a fair and sincere question and deserved a fair and sincere answer.
The saints communed once a year at times, the argument of frequent communion is spurious.
Yes we are all culpable! It is easier not to carry the cross than to endure persecution. I do not condemn Fr Oliver but point out that it would take great endurance to allow this to be played out. Unfortunately the canonical mess of having parallel jurisdictions allowed and also enabled a priest and a community not to deal with the problem. We are all compliant in the enabling of an abuser pure and simple.
FYI -MARK, you are getting close to unbiased reporting.
(Editor's note: Thanks, but there is no such beast. As Werner Heisenberg pointed out in physics in the 1930's, to ask the question is to influence the outcome. One can only make sure everyone knows your bias, and I make no secret of mine ( transparency, accountability, openess.)
#26 Delegate #1 on 2009-10-09 15:32
Done - checks are in the mail to both this worthy priest and his rational flock. Only wish it could have been more.
Still not one single cent to Englewood since April when I first became aware of the events engineered by Philip and his true master (I continue to ponder how I could have been so blind for so long).
P.S. It would appear that the ROCOR folks in Fargo were correct in their assessment of the AOCNA as typified in the persons of Philip & Cronies, Inc. Perhaps an apology by the newly formed OCA parish is in order.
#27 Heracleides on 2009-10-09 15:41
I would appreciate it that if you wanted to personally comment on an issue or in a thread that you do so at the end of a cue rather than edit our comments. That is if you choose to depart from your "impartial" position.
(Editor's note: The goal of the comment section is to promote dialogue and exchange of views - not to get one's licks in. I rarely edit, and always show I have, to help people avoid slander,or if state something that I know by personal experience to be factually incorrect, or less often, if something is just plain over the top rude, in the sense of drive-by slammings. I try not to distort commentator's main points, but no one is perfect, and I apologize if I have distorted your point. If you think my editing is too heavy handed, though, there are many unmediated sites where one can say whatever one likes...
#28 Anonymous on 2009-10-09 15:59
To those who suggest the decision to change jurisdictions in Fargo was the wrong one:
Fr. Oliver's letter to +Mark requesting the transfer back to the OCA came after he was told he could no longer serve in an Antiochian parish. I would think it rather obvious that an official letter such as this would be written after consultation with all of the significant parties. Perhaps the decisions made in those private conversations reflect realities and considerations which are not yet public. In the end, I am confident that Fr. Oliver did what +Mark and +Job thought best.
Note what happened here. +Philip fires Fr. Oliver, and Fr. Oliver then requests to +Mark that he be officially transferred. +Mark and +Job take care of the details as if +Philip does not exist. That is good.
But aside from all of the complications faced by various clerics, you have the layfolk in Fargo. Fr. Oliver did not ask them to leave the AOANA. He did not in any way coerce them. They left of their own accord. One can talk about the noncanonical status of having overlapping dioceses in the U.S. 'till blue in the face, the reality is that the laity are not bound to a jurisdiction in the manner that priests are. Canonically laity are simply subject to the local bishop. If there is more than one local bishop in a given local, with competing administrative/jurisdictional identities, well folks, that ain't the laity's fault. The laity in Fargo acted in a manner that neither local bishop in question, +Mark or +Job, would condemn or subject to discipline. There is thus, so far as I can see, no canonical basis to argue that they did anything wrong.
If the cult of the Glorious Leader continues unabated, and the mechanisms of crass authoritarianism become more and more repugnant, I should hope that we will see more and more laity leave the AOANA, and God bless them for it.
References to jurisdictional hopping in the past are perhaps not apt. Much of the endemic jurisdictional hopping in the past had to do with propaganda wars between jurisdictions and competing ideologies within American Orthodoxy. This is not what we see here. What we see here are laity who will not be subject to malevolent chaos.
The history of the parish as recounted on the website sounds quite eventful and fraught -- I'll add my inadequate prayers to what I'm sure are the prayers of many others that things settle down and you and your mission be able to concentrate on being a church rather than punching bag.
#30 Rebecca Matovic on 2009-10-09 16:00
May GOD bless you and your parishoners! I wish you well!
#31 Diana on 2009-10-09 16:45
I was worried about this becoming likelihood and learned about this in a call to Fr. Oliver.
From my perspective, as a friend of Fr. Oliver, I'm glad he will be able to continue on as an Orthodox priest.
I am saddened by the actions of Metropolitan Philip in taking retribution against Fr. Oliver in the way he did. His actions alone drove the actions of the OCA.
I teach my children to accept responsibility for their actions. Metropolitan Philip made several clear errors.
I suggest we pray for the Metropolitan that he will not take any further action against the OCA for accepting the Fargo mission in response to his errors.
#32 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-10-09 18:31
Perhaps His Eminence or one of his assistants monitoring this blog or the Fargo parish council president or any of the members of the mission in Fargo or Fr. Herbal himself would be kind enough to copy us on what surely must have been His Eminence's communication of concern for the faithful of the mission and his plans for the continued pastoral care of their souls.
Surely such a document, appropriately dated and signed by our father in Christ, can be retrieved and shared for the edification of those who are increasingly convinced that it's only about money, power, and religious prestige.
#33 Brian Van Sickle on 2009-10-09 18:53
Fr Oliver please understand I was not implying cowardice, far from it!
Thank you for your courage, it gives many of us reason for hope.
#34 Robert Fortuin on 2009-10-09 19:27
"Perhaps an apology by the newly formed OCA parish is in order."
As this insistence for an apology is being repeated, I will repeat the response I gave on the thread at my blog:
The folks you think the OCA mission should apologize to were not ROCOR at the time they fired Fr. Oliver. They withheld some rather vital information regarding the assets of the parish from both Fr. Oliver and +Mark until after Fr. Oliver arrived to work there. They had not refused all financial and administrative help from the AOANA prior to Fr. Oliver's arrival. If they wanted to not be in the AOANA, or to leave the AOANA, to do so with any integrity they should have done so before Fr. Oliver's arrival, or at very least make such an intent clear before he was assigned to the parish (that assignment did not happen overnight, there was plenty of time for them to have behaved in a decent manner). Further, there is no version of Orthodox praxis, ROCOR, AOANA, OCA, whatever, in which a single family rightfully owns and runs the parish. That is disordered. These people can't even manage to keep a ROCOR priest there. The ROCOR priest they did have was on very good terms with Fr. Oliver, and I suspect sees his side of things in a quite sympathetic manner now. To suggest that Fr. Oliver and those faithful who remained with him and remain with him to this day in some fashion mistreated this small group of family & a few friends is baseless.
Once the family&friends group became ROCOR, ROCOR bishop +PETER believed that same friend of the family who had made the comment about the AOANA owed the then AOANA mission an apology and +PETER told them to come to Fr. Oliver's parish for Pascha that first year (2008). Several did. One lady even asked Fr. Oliver for his blessing and apologized.
We are not dealing with ROCOR/AOANA-OCA animosity here. Apparently these folks are a headache for ROCOR as well. Fr. Oliver has never uttered a disrespectful word toward the ROCOR priest who was there or +PETER, whom he respects.
Fr. Oliver and the folks who stayed with him through this initial mess were left with nothing but a few service books, and they have, in short time, built a decent mission structure from that nothing. These are people who are willing to start from scratch if that is what God calls them to do. That is the point of the story which is relevant to current events.
I was thinking the same thing about the name of the parish. It is so luscious.
#36 Anonymous on 2009-10-09 22:10
Money is on the way. Hope it helps.
#37 Anonymous on 2009-10-09 23:00
The grant for a mission used to be a whopping $500 per month. The limit was five years. Truly the largesse of the Archdiocese in mollycoddling missions was beyond comparison. And of course, this is not the only case of an Antiochian mission being transformed into on OCA mission. There are many reasons these things happen, some only are the fault of the AOCANA. However, even when Englewood is not at fault directly, the lack of pastoral care for clergy assigned to these missions is often devastating. Rather than sons of the Church, mission clergy are often treated as servants best unseen and unheard whose personal difficulties are mere bothers to be challenged as inappropriate or ignored for 'more important' matters (of interest to the Englewoodians).
#38 anonymouse on 2009-10-10 04:18
You leave out an important category of jurisdiction hopping, perhaps a leading cause [which also doesn't apply to this case] -- jumping ship when a leader's malfeasance is in danger of being revealed/disciplined. This often masquerades as an ideological difference since such leaders will suddenly discover an absolutely critical ideological difference with the authority that is acting against them. An example would be the history of HOCNA and ROCOR.
#39 Rebecca Matovic on 2009-10-10 04:31
Perhaps all of this was "legal" in some sense of the word but was it right, or even more to the point was it Christian? I don't think so, and part of the great shame in all of this is that we're all keeping our titles and vestments and particulars but losing the life and heart of Christ.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
"+Mark and +Job take care of the details as if +Philip does not exist." - Not really.
Perhaps if they behaved as if +Philip had no authority and ignored the letter and addressed it at the Synod or called spiritual court +Philip would feel the consequence of his abusive action.
Actually +Mark and +Job have enabled the abuser.
As far as canonical wrongdoing, give me a break - we are all in this jurisdictional mess together, i.e. we are all uncanonical! In my opinion there can be no canonical justification to change jurisdictions because the canons presume "one Bishop/one city".
This jurisdictional mess is actually much to blame for clergy/laity never dealing with reality, never really being presented with real accountability. We often hear talk about the need for Orthodox unity in the Americas but we seldom understand why. If this site lives up to its name, Orthodox Christians for *Accountability*, then perhaps one goal of accountability should be that our bishops all sit before each other across the table from each other and be accountable for their actions to us and to each other. Jurisdictional disunity means that +Philip will not be accountable for his abuse of power (at least not in this life) because he does not sit across from +Job or +Mark (+Mark is his Assistant according to his title) No real accountability exists because neither +Job nor +Jonah have any say in the AOCANA Eparchial Synod and visa versa.
And if you think the Chambesy solution of Episcopal Assemblies will solve these issues don't bet on it. We have become accustomed to the old phrase, "when the going gets tough - the tough get going". The laity come and go in the churches with no accountability, priests no longer send letters of "good standing" because no one requires it, priests who are disobedient or who have serious spiritual problems jump jurisdictions only to wreak havoc somewhere else. If you don't see a pervasive and longstanding pattern of avoidance of accountability just read the pages and pages of evidence of jurisdiction hopping by convectied sex offenders on www.pokrov.org.
Hey, this leads us back to Englewood and +Demerty. If you wonder why +Philip was so confused with the questions regarding +Demerty in Palm desert it was because this practice of moving an offender has been Archdiocese policy for the past 40 years!
God have mercy on us all!
#41 Delegate #1 on 2009-10-10 08:20
If such a document from Englewood does not currently exist, perhaps it will shortly. Let's hope the author pays attention not only to the dates on the letter, but also those on the fax machine this time around.
#42 Anonymous on 2009-10-10 10:50
I did not say or intend to imply that the Fargo AOCNA/OCA folks mistreated the current ROCOR folks. I simply asserted that the ROCOR folks (family & friends, "whatever") appear to have been correct in their assessment (and nothing else apparently) of my jurisdiction, as typified in the persons of Philip & Cronies, as being "sinful and greedy." That Fr. Herbel, for whom I have nothing but the highest regard, at that time viewed their assessment as "slander" (your word, not mine) then "perhaps" an apology "might" be in order.
In any event, the apology sentence was more of an aside than anything else. My main point was simply that the assessment made by the current ROCOR folks in question appears not to have been wholly slander when applied to some segments of the AOCNA in light of current revelations. Please do not read more into into my post than is there.
#43 Heracleides on 2009-10-10 11:05
I checked the Holy Resurrection web site and didn't see any links for contributions or ways to give money electronically. It might be a good idea to open a PayPal or similar account, since I would be surprised if I were the only one interested in helping.
I work for a religious not-for-profit and know publicity of this kind can paradoxically be a blessing. In our case, each time we've been in the paper in the past couple of years, there's been a huge surge of support. May it be so with HR! Many will now be aware of the plight of the mission in Fargo, and some of those will probably want to help. A direct link from the Web site to some payment mechanism would help.
In the meantime, should we just send checks to the parish?
#44 Morton on 2009-10-10 12:24
What is the positive value of posting a message such as this, with offensive and disrespectful language in reference to our bishops and shepherds? Fallible though they be (as we all are), they should not be referred to with profane and derogatory language. This adds nothing beneficial to positive and constructive dialog on OCAnews and simply adds fuel to this site's detractors.
#45 Helen Levenetz, St. Anthony Antiochian Orthodox Church, San Diego on 2009-10-10 12:59
Fr. Herbel is no martyr. I was shocked at his behavior during the clergy meeting. I know that every priest who discussed the matter with me during the convention was also offended by the way that he spoke to our Metropolitan. He was belligerent and totally disrespectful. After His Eminence answered his question, he continued to argue and refused to give up the microphone so that other clergy could ask their questions. Under the circumstances Metropolitan Philip was more than patient with him. I have no doubt that if he treats his new bishop the same way that he treated Metropolitan Philip that he will again be looking for new bishop. There is no Orthodox bishop in the world who would tolerate that kind of behavior by one of his priests. A priest does not always have to agree with his bishop on non doctrinal matters, but he must treat his bishop with the respect due his position in the Church.
Archpriest John W. Morris
#46 Archpriest John Morris on 2009-10-10 14:24
While I am at once sad that Fr. Oliver was treated as he was, and glad that the Holy Spirit, acting through two hierarchs who have proved to be models of sanctity and humility, +Mark and +Job, has undone some of the damage, I am, quite frankly angry on behalf of the Orthodox faithful of Fargo and environs.
I serve in a tiny mission that cannot afford its own priest, but is blessed to receive priestly ministry from the priests of nearby parishes and missions (there are three within 1 hr 20 min drive). As such the treatment of little, struggling missions is very important to me.
Even if the disciplinary action had been taken on the basis of true accusations, attested by witnesses, to deprive a community of its priest on the Vigil of Dormition, without making provision for a replacement, to let them languish for months without priestly ministry until other, godly, bishops fix the problem, is not the action of a true Father-in-Christ.
This incident, even more than the summary orders to move seminarians, shows how divorced from the actual life of the faithful Metropolitan Philip has become, and how much we need our diocesan bishops to have all the powers normally associated with their office. Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead our bishops to resist any neo-papalism in the Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities, if need be, by appealing to the Holy Synod of Antioch.
Ordinations, blessings to attend seminaries, receiving and releasing priests and deacons from and to other dioceses, blessings to found monasteries, and the like, are all part of the ordinary jurisdiction of a bishop. If the "Manual" does not leave them as such, then it will have been corrupted with the same ecclesiological heresy that was evident in the dethronement debacle, and should be rejected by our bishops and by the faithful of the Archdiocese as alien to the faith and praxis of the Holy Orthodox Church.
#47 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-10-10 14:28
Fr. Herbel is a brave man. If more of our priests were like him the Orthodox Church in the United States wouldn't be a divided, floundering mess. Thank God Fr. Herbel is not an Antiochian priest or he would have no doubt been defrocked or worse for bruising the ego of Metropolitan Phillip. By speaking the truth, in reality he was set free. I pray more and more will step up and speak the truth. Freedom is life.
Fr. John, Could you clarify just what you mean when you state that Fr. Oliver's conduct was "belligerent and totally disrespectful." Did he insult Met. Phillip? Did he call him names? Did he yell at him? Did he curse? Did he accuse him unjustly? Did he lie?
I hope that your definition of "belligerent and totally disrespectful" does not include:
(1) Asking tough and serious questions.
(2) Re-asking questions to which he never received an answer.
(3) Standing his ground while others tried to silence him for daring to speak up.
(4) Requesting accountability for actions and asking for fair and equitable due process.
(5) Holding on to a microphone when others tried to snatch it away or drown him out so he could not finish his questions.
Was this particular clergy meeting taped by AFR? Is there a direct link to that audio file? It would really help us understand what happened and better understand what you mean if we could all listen to it.
I have heard the Financing discussion segment on AFR, and what I heard there was devastating in regards to the pathetic manner in which dissenting and inquiring voices and speakers were treated, ignored, and silenced.
I have no doubt that Fr. John Morris's circle of friends consisted entirely of like-minded Met Philip supporters. No surprise there. I, however, heard several priests and others at the Convention lamenting they did not do more to support Fr. Oliver at this meeting. Yet how in the world can any Antiochian priest or lay person come to Fr. Oliver's support without getting the same ax? Isn't this the major problem with upper management in the Antiochian Archdiocese at this point? How can any one person or any group of people, lay or clergy, stand up to Met Philip with better results than those at Tiananmen Square? He's ready to laize or excommunicate anyone who disagrees with him.
#50 Anonymous to avoid repercussions from Met Philip on 2009-10-10 20:34
The interaction between laity, clergy, and the hierarchy must not be totalitarian. When it is, the church fails.
#51 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-10-10 20:40
Fr. Oliver does not have a new bishop. He has always been under the omophorion of +Job. Both +Job and +Mark have supported his actions.
There are those in this Archdiocese for whom any confrontation of +Philip and the lies he puts forth will be considered offensive. Such is delusion.
Fr Morris you as usual are a "Company Man" to the TEE. Why if the Met. ran over your foot you would say, "I'm sorry". ... I was in P.Desert and your observations just don't click. Many said out loud, "Let him be heard!" That's just not whay you wanted to hear!
#53 Anonymous Priest on 2009-10-11 10:26
Fr. Oliver never left the OCA. He was not defrocked, His return to Archbishop JOB was entirely on the up-and-up.
The people chose to leave the Antiochian Archdiocese. There were apparently few if any assets that would transfer. Had they been further down the path and had a building, I'm sure that would have been forced to stay with the Antiochian Archdiocese. It most likely would have made no difference, however, to the people who desired to withdraw from the Antiochian Archdiocese and form an OCA mission.
Two things I take away from this situation. First it illustrates that the hierarchy actually have little if any authority unless the people offer their obedience. And no one should, in my view, be deluded that somehow salvation is manifest in the mind of a hierarch. Yes, that hierarch is accountable for your soul, but you are not accountable for his.
Second, it illustrates how far we are from unity in North America, and that no amount of organizational machinations will unify us. Only the Holy Spirit can (and will) unify us - but we must understand our purpose. Our purpose hasn't changed: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Individually and corporately we are bound together in that commission and it doesn't matter a whit what things the Evil One throws in our way. For the talk of a hierarch's "success" I recall that we're not called to success, but faithfulness.
A final point: the actions of Metropolitan PHILIP and the other hierarchs are absolutely relevant to each and every Orthodox Christian. What type of culture will our episcopal assemblies embrace? Will they be open, transparent, and accountable? Will they be 21st Century Byzantine fiefdoms?
May God have mercy on us all.
In Christ the risen despota!
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#54 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-10-11 12:14
Were I a bishop (and proper praise be sent to heaven that I am not), I would expect any priest to question me pretty much as Father Oliver Herbal questioned Metropolitan PHILIP.
Put simply, this is how Americans do things, and I believe the Orthodox Church will learn to survive it.
#55 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-10-11 14:51
I now await Fr. John Morris to direct his pious denunciations to the venerable Detroit presbytery and the devout Khalife brothers. I'm sure he reserves the same displeasure and dismay at their disrespect and in some cases threats of violence against their Diocesan Bishop Mark and other venerable lesser clergy i.e. Fr. Patrick Reardon?
Oh and while you are at it Fr. John say a few fitting words about the conduct of our Metropolitan towards the Holy Synod and His Beatitude. Quite a history there so you should have plenty to huff and puff about.
#56 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-10-11 16:07
Too bad a similar situation didn't occur for +Fr David Anderson when TPTB arbitrarily transferred him from Ben Lomond to Chicago without a parish for him to go to. And then, the bishop of the Diocese of the West (OCA), when he was returned to the OCA stuck him in Calistoga, CA essentially without a parish. He was then forbidden to go within 50 miles of Ben Lomond to make +MP Philip happy. His invalid mother was being taken care of by the former Ben Lomond clergy and laity and, naturally, he was disobedient and went to visit his mother. Bad, bad, bad. He finally gave up and returned to his Uniate roots.
I suspect that the new OCA regime would have handled things differently, or at least, I hope that they would.
I may be slightly inaccurate on some of my facts or some may try to say that I am, but close enough is better than saying nothing. In the mess around the situation, I lost my sponsors.
#57 Glad to not be Antiochian on 2009-10-11 19:10
All: I am mortified by what happened to Fr Oliver and the good people of Fargo. I see the point of some of you that +Mark, +Job, and Fr Oliver are somewhat "complicit" in not confronting the hierarch in question. It would be a case of "fiat justitia, ruat coeli," ("Let justice prevail, though the heavens fall). I personally think that in such a situation, it could have cause an implosion within AOCNA. (I believe that a few more of these actions, and it will come anyway.)
I still believe it is uncanonical, Philip had no authority to go into another bishop's territory (+Mark's) and reassign one of his priests. That is if +Mark were a real diocesan ordinary. But now we see the truth, the bishops of the AOCNA are in reality auxiliaries and more importantly, always have been. That is the lot of any bishop (no matter how pious and holy) who serves in an archdiocese that is an eparchy of an foreign patriarchate.
Let us not fool ourselves: it is clear that Bishop +Mark did not want any of this to happen. It is not he that suspended the celebration of the Divine Liturgy over these two months. I am therefore forced to assume that Fr Oliver's antiminsion was recalled by Philip. Thus, Philip did interfere in +Mark's territory, a clear breach of canons; the fact that he got away with this and all his other various thuggeries, makes plain that the AOCNA is nothing but an eparchy, fully dependent upon the actions and decisions of a foreign holy synod. There's nothing wrong with that in general but let us not be fooled into thinking that it is on the other hand "self-ruled." Philip's actions give the lie to this.
Let us also not be "complicit in his actions" by continuing to call the AOCNA a "self-ruled" archdiocese. When we do so, then we are aiding and abetting this farce.
I hate to belabor the point, but as Fr Touma Bitar said back in July, "the OCA is the only canonical church in America." By this I believe he meant that the OCA is the only church which is governed, ruled, set up, administers itself, etc. in a canonical manner. I realize that this is a bitter pill to swallow for all the OCA-haters out there, but as a lifelong member of the GOA, I came to this conclusion (sadly) on my own about 5 years ago. Because I consider myself to be a man with at least a shred of integrity, I did what my conscience led me to do: join the indigenous Orthodox Church that exists, and has existed on this continent for over 200 years.
Please understand, I'm not tryingn to be triumphalist here --I know full well the escapades of the OCA's adminstration in Syossett lo these last two decades. But my contention that an authentic, permanent and settled Orthodox presence in North America from 1794, stands. This church was missionary, evangelistic, and pastoral to natives, colonists, and immigrants alike. This is based on fact.
We can see that in this particular case at least, the pastoral outreach of the OCA's diocese of Chicago is real; indeed, +Job had no choice but to act as he did since he is an authentic bishop-ordinary with all authentic and canonical powers that inure to all ordinaries. And Fr Oliver and his parish were right to ask for normalization of their ecclesial presence in an authentic, local, and canonical Orthodox church.
#58 George Michalopulos on 2009-10-11 23:18
>>"and hopefully Bp. Joseph will take a stand on principle."
umm?.. based on what? why would you assume some intervention?
#59 Anonymous on 2009-10-12 00:42
>>"There is no Orthodox bishop in the world who would tolerate that kind of behavior by one of his priests."
Fr John, once again we disagree and once again, you can pull rank. But as far as the bishop's views, let us let them sort that out for themselves. Certainly we can prayerfully do that.
voxrob aka Rob Stevenson
#60 Anonymous on 2009-10-12 00:54
Dn Marty, you have touched upon a very important key to solving this entire problem in your post. The comment that because the Fargo parish had few assets they were able to just dissolve and walk away from the AOCNA screams out the solution. This is in fact what any parish should do that is fed up with the actions of Philip.
I am willing to bet that most parishes established in the past 10 years are paying a mortgage on their property. If these parishes were to petition Philip and state they want to transfer to the OCA or some other SANE jurisdiction, he would undoubtedly refuse. In that case, let GLORIOUS LEADER pick up the mortage and when he refuses, let the property go into receivership and buy it from the mortage company at pennies on the dollar.
This practice of letting a central entity such as a diocese control and in effect own the property of the local parish is lunacy! The diocese has not paid one penny to the purchase and maintenance of the local churches. This same practice is what has enabled the ultra-liberal faction of the Episcopal Church of North America to in effect take over the assets of the conservative majority.
If this same practice continues within the Orthodox Churches in this country, it will only be a matter of time before the same thing happens within our dioceses. The local parish property should stay in control of the local churches, seeing as it was their sweat, blood, and sacrifice that paid for them.
The time has come to throw off the yoke of oppression from this person who views himself as the Pope of North American Orthodoxy. He is indeed a pathetic caricature of the Bishop of Rome.
#61 Fr. Blues on 2009-10-12 09:56
And what if you are completely wrong on a fact, such as in the suggestion that there was no parish in Chicago for Fr. David to serve? There was one.
#62 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-10-12 10:05
With all due respect, I think you should be aware that the OCA's canonical situation is a little more complicated than is commonly presented.
The Moscow Patriarchate did NOT grant the OCA autocephaly with a view to making it the sole canonical church on North American soil. The intent behind the grant of the Tomos of Autocephaly was to normalize relations between the OCA and the other canonical churches, to make it one of the canonical churches on the North American continent. There was NO intent to make it the canonical church and say all others must be uncanonical. There are people who argue that, but they are badly misinformed. They've bought into a myth that sprang out of defensive feelings in the OCA following the Ecumenical Patriarchate's outrage over the granting of autocephaly. The OCA simply was NOT meant to be an autocephalous church unto itself in perpetuity, as has historically been the case with the granting of autocephaly to various other Orthodox churches.
Metropolitan Jonah himself has said that the OCA's ultimate vocation is to disappear. It was created as a transitional entity that would be free from Moscow's influence, and free to participate in the eventual formation of a unified North American church - not to be that church in and of itself.
(Editor's note: The first paragraph is nonsense for it is anachronistic - reading back into the events of those days the trends of today. So too the justifications of the second - although the OCA has never said everybody else is uncanonical outside the OCA. This writer did, not the OCA. One has only to read the actual documents of the day, written by those who participated, to see that was not the case. Show me one writing - just one - by Schmemann, Bogolepov, Meyendorff, etc. where they suggested otherwise.
The third paragraph is a misstatement of what the Metropolitan said: I was there and heard him. He did not say it was the vocation of the OCA to disappear, but rather, if it could be the case that if the rest of the orthodox churches were to unite their jurisdictions and grant a " greater" autocephaly to that united body, the OCA would willing and joyfully join, rather than claim precedence. If that becomes the case, the OCA could then be seen as " transitional" in retrospect; but until that eschatological day, dream on. There is simply no evidence in history of colonial empires freely giving up their biggest and most valuable colonies - spiritual or secular. It has never happened, and one would have to be reasonably skeptical it ever would.
The OCA is here to stay, friend, for one simple reason - those of us who are indigenous to this country, who are not in diaspora, and have no desire to be in exile from countries or patriarchates we have never even visited - have nowhere else to go. Feel free to ignore us, since we do not fit in the schemes of universal jurisdictions based on ethnicity and nation states presently being pushed by proponents of Chambesy. But for those who do not see the Church in terms of "local" catholicity most visibly expressed on a common or adopted ethnicity, but in terms of local expressions of catholicity based on common faith, the OCA will do just fine. )
#63 pobrecita on 2009-10-12 10:18
Helen would you please point out this profane language that you refer to because I don't see it. All I see is people rightly criticizing Met. Phillip, which is apparently something he and his minions are not accustomed to having.
Or is the mere criticism that profanity of which you speak?
#64 Kevin Klein on 2009-10-12 11:53
Actually, David Anderson was rescued by Met. Theodosius, whom he betrayed not by visiting an invalid mother, but serving a funeral for one of the defrocked deacons without permission of Met. Theodosius. Calistoga is a monastery not far away from David's family. It was a great deal, but he could not wait for the dust to settle.
David Anderson also planted the idea that the Ben Lomond parish would be received into the OCA, when in fact there was no such idea. Let's get things straight, they wanted their own liturgics, and Bp. Tikhon was a stickler for proper Russian rubrics. It was never going to happen their way.
#65 anonymous on 2009-10-12 12:16
What Fr. Patrick said.
I'm an American convert who has been Orthodox for almost fifteen years now. I find the emphasis on "culture" in defending dishonest and abusive behavior within the hierarchies of the American Orthodox jurisdictions (all of the major ones) disingenuous. An incident like this one, or like the financial mess in the OCA, did not occur because of "cultural differences". Abuse of power under color of authority (to use legal terminology) is not acceptable in Russia, Greece, or Antioch any more than it is here. Neither are fraud and malfeasance. When we excuse these things on the basis that they're culturally acceptable, we are insulting the cultures that brought us the Church.
Sometimes people condone or tolerate abuse of authority and other sinful behavior by their hierarchs. Often we don't want to do the work and accept the suffering that comes with opposing evil, especially evil in the Church. St. Paul commented on this in his epistles to the Corinthians; this is nothing new. I've also never noticed that the sins of cowardice or sloth were particular to any culture, or that any culture was free of them, unfortunately.
I've read the publicly available accounts about Fr. Oliver Herbel, including testimonies from some here who were present when he spoke at the meeting with Metropolitan Philip. I applaud Fr. Morris' willingness to sign his name to his post, but I rather strongly suspect that his view of what happened at the Antiochian annual national clerical meeting was (to put it mildly) at variance with the views of many others who were present. It appears to me that Fr. Oliver is an honest and forthright man, perhaps lacking in subtlety but not in the least rude or disrespectful. Apparently both Bishop Mark and Bishop Job think well of him, as well.
Since I'm not Antiochian, not in the clergy, and not in or near Fargo, my involvement in the situation is going to be limited to helping out a bit financially. (I hope many of the rest of you will do the same if you can.) I also am glad that Fr. Oliver and his flock are no longer entangled with the current mess in the Antiochian archdioscese.
#66 Catherine Jefferson on 2009-10-12 13:17
This is rich. I suppose this must be a different "Archpriest John W. Morris" than the one that has always chided everyone against namecalling and insults.
#67 Brian Jackson on 2009-10-12 14:10
With apologies, I'm not sure what you are saying.
Why do I think it would be proper for Bp. Joseph to "intervene"? I was not referring to this latest incident, which is in any event a settled matter. I was referring to the bishops' discussion of the hierarchical "Manual." My hope is that Bp. Joseph would favor a revision that is consistent with the canons and does not attempt to deny diocesan bishops their rightful authority — and I say "on principle" because he seems the obvious Patriarchate pick for Metropolitan.
Or perhaps you're wondering what basis I have for hoping that Bp. Joseph will do the right thing — considering his silence during the various phases of the auxiliary debacle, his signature on Met. Philip's joint statement, and his silence at the convention.
Well, he may truly believe silence always to be the most virtuous policy, and that it was his obligation to behave like an auxiliary when that appeared to be the word from Damascus. This would make him wrong — but sincere in his behavior thus far. Thus, in the upcoming synod meeting, considering that it is private and that his place as a diocesan has been affirmed, he might feel more free to act on his own judgment.
Of course I don't know, really, what he thinks or feels — but that's why I said, "hopefully."
#68 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-10-12 14:16
Crudely referring to bishops, or anyone else for that matter, as prostitutes is the concern regarding the posted message. Nothing more, nothing less.
#69 Helen Levenetz, St. Anthony Antiochian Orthodox Church, San Diego on 2009-10-12 16:35
Yes, I feel that your editing is "too heavy handed" as you say.
#70 Delegate #1 on 2009-10-12 17:53
I believe the objectionable language Helen referred to is: "The bishops act like whores where real estate and sheep are involved."
While the words may not be considered profanity, strictly speaking, the imagery is rather crass, if not vulgar. Such interpretations are always subjective, of course, but speaking only for myself I would have preferred a different choice of wording.
#71 Elizabeth on 2009-10-12 19:33
Did you mean "What a CROOK?" Either way, it continues to show MP as a mean, vindictive and revenge seeking "CHIEF SHEPHERD?""" What a joke. He'll never give up. He's like a 3 year old child, digging his heels in and demanding his way, and it has nothing to do with his age. He's been that way for many years, and he should have been removed many years ago. ANAXIOS!
If the OCA is truly autocephalous, then clearly the
other churches in North America are uncanonical,
whatever (pace "Pobrecita") Moscow may have intended
and (pace Mr. Stokoe) Meyendorff et al. may have said.
If this not the case, "autocephaly" is meaningless.
Since I consider the Tomos to be valid, I consider
the other jurisdictions to be here by oeconomia.
That being said, the OCA shows little evidence
of "not fit[ting] in the schemes of universal jurisdictions
based on ethnicity" as claimed by Mr. Stokoe. It
is clearly an ethnic jurisdiction of Slavic-Americans
(except for the Romanian etc. diocese and Alaska,
which are ethnic jurisdictions of other ethnoi).
If this is not the case, why are there no Western
Rite parishes? No Byzantine Rite parishes (in the
"main" OCA)? No Chalcedon-affirming Geez Rite
or Assyrian Rite parishes? In fact, OCA parishes
are Russian parishes in translation (or more often
Carpatho-Russian parishes in translation or Rue
Daru Franco-Russian parishes in translation). There
is nothing wrong with that -- I personally love the
Rue Daru tradition and am at home in it -- but
the lack of diversity does little to advance the
argument that the OCA truly represents the whole
Orthodox Church in heterogeneous America.
Norman Hugh Redington (O'Readaghan, also
at home in the Celtic tradition!)
#73 Norman Hugh Redington on 2009-10-12 19:45
Bp Joseph stand on principle?
Bp Joseph stands for Bp Joseph!
He will only take a stand if the wind is blowing that direction as well.
Pray for a good breeze!
#74 anonymous on 2009-10-12 20:29
Dear Mr. Stokoe,
Thanks for your response. Please rest assured, I'm not casting aspersions on the OCA, and I'm not the secret agent of the Phanar you seem to have taken me for. I'm just a regular American convert, who is as annoyed as anybody at the EP's pretensions of jurisdiction over us barbarians. On the other hand, I really don't like seeing the OCA's autocephaly misrepresented and misunderstood, especially when it's being used against other jurisdictions in North America.
You say: "the OCA has never said everybody else is uncanonical outside the OCA. This writer did, not the OCA."
I didn't say that the OCA said such a thing. I was responding to the previous writer, who, as you said, made that claim. He agrees with Fr Touma that the OCA is the only canonical church in North America, which, naturally, would render everybody else uncanonical. They are not the only people who I've heard say such things, but I know it's certainly not the official position of the OCA that they are the only canonical church in North America and everybody else is uncanonical. In fact, the Tomos of Autocephaly itself contradicts this.
You say: "The third paragraph is a misstatement of what the Metropolitan said: I was there and heard him. He did not say it was the vocation of the OCA to disappear, but rather, if it could be the case that if the rest of the orthodox churches were to unite their jurisdictions and grant a " greater" autocephaly to that united body, the OCA would willing and joyfully join, rather than claim precedence. If that becomes the case, the OCA could then be seen as " transitional" in retrospect; but until that eschatological day, dream on. There is simply no evidence in history of colonial empires freely giving up their biggest and most valuable colonies - spiritual or secular. It has never happened, and one would have to be reasonably skeptical it ever would."
For anyone who wishes to read the speech in question, it is available online here: http://www.oca.org/jonah-2009-0620.html
I watched the webcast; I can't understand how there would have been any advantage for my understanding if I had actually been physically present like you were. I think you are misunderstanding both what I said and the Metropolitan's speech. The Metropolitan did say what I said he did, and I quote: "Thus, the OCA's charter and vocation is for it to disappear: it is kenotic."
You say: "The OCA is here to stay, friend, for one simple reason - those of us who are indigenous to this country, who are not in diaspora, and have no desire to be in exile from countries or patriarchates we have never even visited - have nowhere else to go."
Again, you misunderstand. What I'm trying to say, and I think the Metropolitan was trying to say, is that you can't identify American Orthodoxy exclusively with the institution of the OCA. In order to achieve jurisdictional unity in this country, we have to be willing to let go of that institution, allow it to evolve or be absorbed, not dig heels in against anyone who dares suggest the autocephaly was anything other than absolute. As Metropolitan Jonah pointed out, the autocephaly wasn't meant to be taken that way. Giving way on this point is not opening the door for the EP to seize America. It opens the door to honest dialogue and, I hope, invites others to forego their own jurisdiction-based prejudices. (Maybe I'm a little starry-eyed for hoping that, but I always believed that God loves the humble.)
Don't confuse the OCA as an institution with the fate of indigenous American Orthodoxy. There are plenty of American Orthodox in AOANA and GOARCH, and enough of those "Straight Outta Slobovia" parishes in the OCA. The OCA as it stands is decidedly skewed towards Slavic Orthodoxy, even in parishes that are predominantly American, but the united American church of the future will have to incorporate all facets of Orthodoxy as it has come to America - Slavic, Byzantine, Arab, whatever. There are American Orthodox of each of these traditions, who, nonetheless, are no more part of a diaspora than you and I are, and don't want to be under a 'foreign despot' any more than you and I do.
I hope I've articulated my point better this time, and hope you are having a lovely day or evening, Mr. Stokoe.
#75 pobrecita on 2009-10-12 20:47
The editor is completely correct here. What you don't understand, pobrecita, is Canon Law. When an indigenous, local church is granted autocephaly, ALL other Orthodox come under it's omophor (authority). This is why the Greeks (Pat. of Istanbul) wouldn't recognize the OCA's autocephaly "FORMALLY." In other words, +Bart. wants unity in North America "ONLY" under himself. Well, we have news! Chambesy is his attempt to do just this. As far as +Jonah is concerned, he alone can't undo what has been established. Chambesy and further talks can possibly come up with a new format for administrative unity in North America, but not under FOREIGN BISHOPS. LOCAL CHURCHES ARE TO BE UNDER THE OMOPHOR OF LOCAL BISHOPS - Canon Law. Smoke screens under the guise of unity are just land grabs by foreign bishops!
#76 Anonymous on 2009-10-13 05:44
Axios! Fr. Morris. God bless you for saying what you say. You and the rest of the clergy that understand the meaning of a hierarchal church and obedience and hard work will unfortunately be persecuted by the ignorant.
People on here said they wished they had more priests like Fr. Oliver. If you put Fr. Oliver side by side with some of the clergy these people are talking about he would be blown out of the waters by knowledge and hard work. Fr. Oliver is still young and I bet you he could be a great priest. I am not doubting that, but to say this action is what we need more of in the church is going to make people go do the Ben Lomond split.
Fr. Oliver was on loan to the Archdiocese, which is under the Archbishop. Archdiocese is not diocese, it is above diocese, so Metropolitan PHILIP is certainly in his right to do what he did.
I was not at the meeting, but I heard enough about it from many people across the country. You all are making this appear so sympathetic to Fr. Oliver. That is good I guess but remember, if you have a guest in your house and they try to make a mochary out of you that I guarantee you would not stand for it. Plan and simple. Good move on Metropolitan PHILIP's part! Axios to Metropolitan PHILIP.
P.S. those that say Axios to people comments really do not know what the term actually means. "He is Worthy!" so why do you say "He is Worthy" on a comment that bashes Metropolitan PHILIP. Your someone I would want to teach Sunday School for sure!
#77 A true Antiochian on 2009-10-13 08:19
Thank you for the correction, +Fr George. The lack of a parish was reported to me by some of the involved in the mess. I must have been listening to the wrong sources.
Also, it appears that my sources were wrong in the events around Fr David breaking the distance rules.
#78 Glad to not be Antiochian on 2009-10-13 08:31
I just listened to the discussion adverted in this comment, and I was very, very surprised. First, I was surprised that the need for an organization with declared assets of more than $60 million to have an outside audit could even be questioned at all. It is obvious. This is far, far beyond what could be done with a simple handshake. If these were personal assets, I guess it would be up to the person who owned them, although I imagine the IRS would have a view on the subject. For a registered corporation of this size not to conduct an external audit amazes me. And again, I imagine the IRS and state tax authorities would have a view on this subject as well. In other words, it is simply not optional.
But even more, I was surprised at the assets themselves that are being held by the church. For what possible reason would Christ's church need investments of $25 million? And real estate worth $40 million? How many people could be fed and housed for that money? And Christ had not where to lay his head...How can we claim to trust in God with all that material wealth on the books?
I know from first-hand experience how many people could be fed and housed for just a fraction of that $25 million. The idea of a swimming pool at the "beautiful" diocesan chancery (assessed value: $3 million) in LA or of all those resources being tied up in investments--and of the metropolitan actually bragging about them--is overwhelming.
Who are we?
#79 Morton on 2009-10-13 09:31
Clearly, you have no idea what you are talking about. +Joseph can be frustrating at times but that is mostly due to his monastic formation. He is very much like many monks formed in established monasteries of Mother Churches. They are not cute and cuddly.
I have lived in the Western Region/LA Diocese my entire life, and I remember the days when everyone spoke of the "Wild West". He was the one who cleaned it up when +Philip saw it was getting to wild. With God's grace he got rid of the "Old Guard". He stopped the practice of random transfers of priests. He stopped indulging "priest-eater" parishes by dissolving their clan-councils and bringing in new people. He is ahead of the curve when it comes to bringing liturgical unity to parishes that have done their own thing for years. He does not suspend priests on a whim.
He was even leading the majority block on the Local Synod against +Philip until +Basil switched sides at the last meeting before the "February Decision". +Joseph never silenced his clergy during the debate and still has not. When the Holy Synod met to discuss the problem North America it was +Joseph who reeprsented us against Walid and Antipasto and helped convince the Holy Synod to restore the bishops. That was a pretty big move and you can see +Philip is still not giving +Joseph any more love than any of the others.
+Joseph is not loud but he has never been a shill for +Philip.
#80 anonymous on 2009-10-13 09:52
I didn't see this letter on the Archdiocese Website, and I went back to August to check. Somehow someone got a hold of it and leaked it, two months later, to this website. Bravo - well done. Thank you for shedding more light into the darkness. What other forms of communication are being hidden by MP, who doesn't work in the dark? He may not work in the dark, but he stumbles consistently in the dark. If you know any other news we should be made aware of, let's post it and get it out in the open. Nothing should be hidden from us.
To our Beloved Hierarchs and Board of Trustees,
Christ is in our midst. He is and ever shall be.
The Archdiocese Website today featured a photo of the Local Synod, along with a short article about the upcoming meetings in Texas for the Synod and the Board of Trustees.
I know every wishes you all safe journies from your homes and for productive and fruitful meetings. It is very important for these meetings to go better than the one in Palm Desert. We need you, our leaders, to insist that all the wrongs be fixed, that honesty and truth will return to our Holy Church, and that everything that took place in Palm Desert be discussed and decisions in a positive direction be made. Otherwise, you are all wasting time and money going there to just do nothing to help our Archdiocese solve the mess we are still in 8 months later, and to stop the negative things still coming out of Englewood. Thank you, and God bless you.
You really should widen the circle of priests with whom you discuss matters of import.
#83 Silouan James on 2009-10-13 12:52
I am going to share a personal story about the evilness of the situation with the Orthodox church in Fargo and in the United States in general. You can post it or not as you see fit.
I have a step-granddaughter who was baptised into the Orthodox Church because of my guidance while she was living in MD with her father. The situation became such that she had to go back to live with her mother in Fargo, ND. I desperately searched the internet and spoke with my priest about locating a parish. We knew there had been one previously, but we could find nothing on the internet, and our other contacts told us the mission church had folded. I was very upset because I knew my precious grand-daughter was going into a situation that not good and I had so hoped she would have a church and parish to help keep her in the faith.
Needless to say, my fears were founded and two years without church support, my grand-daughter has been in trouble with authorities on numerous occasions and is now in juvenile hall. She is only 13 and my heart breaks because I was not able to keep her established on the path that she had begun. It may not have made a difference in her life choices if she had been going to church regularly, but on the other hand, it very well may have.
I can tell you that I truly fear for all the leaders of the Orthodox churches in America when God asks them how they could let all their petty, egotistical squabblings cost the salvation of the souls of his sheep.
Please keep my grand-daughter in your prayers that God will have mercy on her and bring her back onto the straight and narrow path that leads to His mercy and love.
In Christ's love,
#84 Alison Cloonan on 2009-10-13 15:27
Yes, the money could be put to good use.
Let us start with our retired clergy.
Widowed priests wives, etc.
Let us feed our hungry seminarians who are dependent upon welfare and social services while treated as the Metropolitan's DOGS.
#85 anonymous on 2009-10-13 16:13
NO. Let's start with our fellow humans who have nothing at all, regardless of how or whom they worship.
I'm not minimizing the problems of retired priests or the others mentioned. But the needs of a needy seminarian seem like luxury problems to someone who lives in abject poverty.
#86 Morton on 2009-10-13 21:44
According to reports, the parish in Fargo was left without a pastor for 2 months. No communion, no confession, no liturgy, no ministry, nothing. How could MP do that to this parish - leave them totally alone with no one to guide them or lead them. Couldn't he find an extra priest somewhere and arrange for a temporary transfer there until a permanent priest could be assigned? This doesn't make any sense. He isn't being a shepherd - he left his flock alone - he didn't go after the 1 lost parish. This parish then voted to leave our Archdiocese, applied for transfer to the OCA and now they have their priest, Fr. Oliver, back to care for them and their spiritual needs. What loving father abandons his children? Something is very wrong here. I'm glad this parish got out of the woods and back into a safe environment. God bless you and keep you all safe.
Probrecita, et al. Please understand, when I said that the OCA is the "only autocephalous church in America," I was quoting Fr Touma Bitar. I wish I had expanded on that --I did on another blog (AOI)--so I will here.
If I understand Fr Bitar correctly, I take it that he believes that the OCA is the only Orthodox presence in North America which adheres to all the canonical norms that inhere to an autocephalous church.
1. It is self-headed.
2. It's bishops comprise a real Holy Synod. They elect other men to real dioceses and their president (the Metropolitan).
3. The bishops of the OCA are what in Catholic terminology are "ordinaries." Their pastorate within their dioceses is absolute, the chain of command goes from layman to priest to bishop. Period.
4. The Holy Chrism is consecrated by the primate of the Church.
5. The diocesan boundaries follow as much as possible political boundaries. (New Mexico is not divided between the Diocese of the South and the Diocese of the West.)
6. The ethnic exarchates that exist are due to economia. I believe that the Romanians, Bulgarians, and Albanians were brought in en masse because of a disastrous political situation in which these parishes had to flee from foreign overlordship (i.e. Communist control). They were allowed to retain their discreet ethnic characteristic against the day when they could be reconciled with those parishes that chose to remain faithful to the Old World. Again, note, this is an example of economia, a very extensive relaxation of canonical norms --not the ideal.
7. Only an autocephalous church can grant such a dispensation. You may interject that the EP has done the same with UOC and ACROD, which is true. Then again, the EP is an autocephalous church. And let's not forget, Constantinople placed these ethnic exarchates under its omorphor, NOT the GOA, which is an exarchate of the EP itself.
8. The fact that the OCA's grant of autocephaly is not recognized by many Old World churches is neither here nor there. For about a six-month period in 2001, the EP did not recognize the Church of Greece. These are transient things.
As to my supposed misstatement of facts, I believe that Mark (?) came to my rescue. Although I was not at Crestwood, I did here Metropolitan +Jonah's remarks on the computer. He most definately did say that the vocation of the OCA was "to disappear." Mark provided more context ("It is kenotic") but I believe that the phrase that pealed through that room like thunder was the word "disappear."
To say that the OCA is a "Slavic church," perhaps "in transition" is not completely correct. Perhaps on the EAst Coast. Yet even here the OCA is the only one of the three largest OC's to be completely at home in America (all English liturgies, etc.) And of course, its primate is the Archbishop of the capital of the American Republic. Plus he lives there. In addition, ALL of the OCA's bishops (except for two) are converts, as are most of its priests, and a majority of the laity have a predominantly Anglo-American background.
As to why we don't have a Western Rite, Byzantine Rite, or Gallican Rite, I dunno, maybe there's no demand for it --yet. But with the recent events at Nashotah House (Wisc), that may be changing. From what I heard, there has been a sea-change in the OCA hierarchy's attititude towards the Western Rite.
Anyway, I hope this clears things up.
#88 George Michalopulos on 2009-10-14 03:29
this is for stokoe and all buffoons above.
you all must have such pitiful lives that you resort to spewing nonsense above. to those who wish metropolitan philip death, i hope he lives for another 100 years over this archdiocese. furthermore, i pray his ghost will haunt those that wished him death after those 100 years are over. show respect and behave for your metropolitan has spoken and you are to obey...you dont like it you say, then get the hell out!!!
#89 Anonymous on 2009-10-14 08:06
Mr Glad-not-to-be-Antiochian writes:
"Too bad a similar situation didn't occur for +Fr David Anderson when TPTB arbitrarily transferred him from Ben Lomond to Chicago without a parish for him to go to."
In fact, this is not true. In February or March of 1998, Father David Anderson was appointed to serve at All Saints Church in Chicago. This mission had been founded in 1993, and to this day it is the only Antiochian parish within the Chicago city limits.
Since I was familiar with All Saints, Father Weldon Hardenbrook (Father Anderson's close friend at Ben Lomond) called me, to inquire about the place. I spoke highly of All Saints to Father Hardenbrook, but I later learned that Father Anderson declined to accept the appointment.
Then, in early May of 1998, Englewood appointed me to be the new pastor of All Saints.
I heard many other things by way of rumor in 1998, but I am in no doubt about the facts I narrated above.
#90 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-10-14 08:35
Let's give everyone, including Bishop JOSEPH, the benefit of the doubt, see if they have done their homework to prepare for the meetings this week, and how it will go. I'm skeptical, unsure, if anything will actually be accomplished, but let's hope the news and the temperature in the rooms in Texas are better than they were in Palm Desert. Watch for reports coming thru later this week.
Um, who are you?
I mean, I have a pseudonym, but I don't claim special knowledge: anyone can evaluate my claims. You give us this:
"He was even leading the majority block on the Local Synod against +Philip until +Basil switched sides at the last meeting before the 'February Decision'."
Fr. Paul Hodge reported here on Bp. Joseph's comments at the clergy meeting on the second day of the convention:
"Also, we [bishops] have differences. I disagreed with His Eminence many times.” Then, shouting, “I voted against him twice.” And once again without raising his voice, “Normally, of course, I never stopped respecting him. I grew up with Demetri, but I voted against him on the synod. But I called him after that vote and said to him he deserves to be at the [holy] table more than me. Do not judge.”
It's not quite clear who all those "he"s are, but anyhow, there it is. How does voting twice against the Metropolitan square with "leading a bloc"? (Anyhow, what would such "leading" entail?) Along the same lines, what you mean about Bp. Basil "switching sides" in a meeting prior to February is rather opaque. He agreed with the Metropolitan about something? Why even say this, unless you are simply trying to cast aspersions on Bp. Basil?
Who told you these things? How many hands did this information pass through before making it to you? Only the bishops were in the room — right? (Incidentally, I'm not implying that Bp. Joseph is tooting his own horn: I'm questioning the reliability of your account.)
My question is, why on earth did Bp. Joseph put his signature under Met. Philip's attempt to usurp five episcopal thrones ? Because that is what we're talking about — and I'm honestly wondering. That decision (or whatever it was) was a mockery of ecclesiology. Perhaps he did not realize it was invalid — being totally contrary to the canons — and he thought he was back in the position of having to do what Met. Philip ordered. In that case, I respect the sincerity of his action, and we all make mistakes — but I must say that it was wrong. In any event, that was not being quiet, but giving active and public consent.
You further write: "It was +Joseph who reeprsented us against Walid and Antipasto and helped convince the Holy Synod to restore the bishops."
Again, who filled you in on *that*? And how good is their Arabic? And then there is the matter of the document scandal. I am not accusing Bp. Joseph of participating in wrongdoing, but a lot of people were frustrated or outright scandalized by his silence when it all blew up.
This discourages people. It crushes spirits, seeing wrong done and error taught and our shepherds, to all appearances, not standing up to it. Frankly, I have found his decisions not to openly oppose what's wrong to be a sharp temptation. The temptation isn't to see him as a stooge, but to suspect that he's taking the easy route — letting others make enemies and stick their necks out while he avoids discomfort and political risk.
It's not an accusation. I'm just saying what things look like to a fair number of people. Can you blame them, even if what you’re saying is true, for "not knowing what they're talking about"? How on earth could you expect them to ?
Evidently you are close to (people who are close to people etc) Bp. Joseph. If so, perhaps you would emphasize to him how it will affect those of us who aren't in various inner-circles, if this weekend ends with vague notions instead of a real audit, if real diocesan authority is not firmly established, and if we are still paying for Bp. Demetri while he's active. There'll be anger — but also disappointment, and exhaustion, and a sense that the righteousness of the Gospel means nothing to some of our fathers in Christ. It's the latter that causes people to walk away from the Church.
Like I said, I do hope he steps up this weekend. Four (or five!) bishops standing firm on transparency, diocesan authority, and Bp. Demitri can save the Archdiocese from more lost sheep and perhaps from wrenching lawsuits. If his silence is a matter of personality, I hope he transcends it. If it is strategic — now's when we all need that strategy to finally pay off.
#92 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-10-14 10:19
Oh. Well...two points: 1) That word is in the Bible and therefore said aloud in Church and 2) If the shoes fits, wear it.
#93 Kevin Klein on 2009-10-14 11:36
With a mother in need of constant care that was being provided by the then community of Ben Lomond it would have been very difficult for Fr David to go to Chicago. Also, in that Fr David was an OCA priest on loan to Ben Lomond, I don't believe that it was proper to try to move him to Chicago.
Your statements seem somewhat logical, but it very obvious to an impartial observer that Fr David was being move to break up the 'group' at Ben Lomond.
Then Archpriest John Weldon Hardenbrook has a very detailed summary of the whole situation on a website at: http://benlomond.wordpress.com/1998/05/26/fr-john-weldon-hardenbrooks-defense/
Have you ever read it? When I read it recently, I was reminded of a statement that I read somewhere that, "the Byzantines could take lessons in being Byzantine from the Arabs."
#94 Glad to not be Antiochian on 2009-10-14 14:53
"If we don't like it, then get the hell out" - sounds like something my landlord said to me many years ago when he wouldn't fix broken things in my apartment. Same thing - good analogy - we need to fix what is wrong in our Archdiocese, and the BOSS ain't doing it. He refuses, like another spoiled child. The young nephew of MP, Philip Saliba, was a monitor near where I was sitting in Palm Desert. He saw me getting more and more upset as Friday's fiasco progressed. He finally told me to keep the noise down - I wasn't making any - just shaking my headin disgust and disbelief. He said the BOT and MP are correct, and if I don't like it, I don't have to stay and listen to it. I told him to stop talking to me and don't bother me any more. He didn't like that, and guess who is one of the new BOT - young Philip.....
....My obedience is to God only, because HE loves us unconditionally, and HE gives us free will to make our own choices. MP gives no free will to anyone, except his inner circle. Some of us have been around longer than others. Why do we have to get the hell out? We have the right to be here and demand that the righteous and appropriate process be followed to the letter. And that's what we intend to do, so be on the lookout for order to be restored to our lives and our HOLY CHURCH very soon....
Anonymous writes, "you dont like it you say, then get the hell out!!!"
Well now, why should we do that? We have raised our children in this Archdiocese, and they are currently raising our grandchildren in this Archdiocese.
No, dear Anonymous, this is our home. We're not going anywhere. Get used to it.
#96 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-10-14 19:05
No one who posts here wishes Met. +Philip dead, we wish for him to live out his life in peace and *repentance*. If he can manage to accomplish his repentance by accepting life with a fully functional Eparchal Holy Synod composed of bishops with all the powers that bishops have vis-a-vis their dioceses under Orthodox ecclesiology, and can accept American, nay, modern, civilized, standards of financial transparency, then may his Metropolitanate last another 100 years. If he cannot, and insists on foisting neo-papal ecclesiology on us, or hiding the Archdiocese finances from plain view, then the sooner he retires to a monastery, the better for him and for all of us.
And, as for "haunting" us, is your hatred of Orthodox ecclesiology or financial transparency so vicious that you would prefer to deny our Metropolitan rest in the bosom of Abraham so his unquiet soul can haunt those of us who would like our Archdiocese to enjoy the benefits of both? God forbid.
#97 Subdeacon David on 2009-10-14 19:39
The IRS will take no interest in the activities of a Church except in two cases: First, a substantial amount of income derives from what are called "non-exempt activities" or sometimes called "unrelated business income". That is what got Dr. Robt. Schuler of the "Crystal Cathedral" in southern California in trouble - the IRS claimed it was more of a concert hall than a Church.
Second, if individuals are enriching themselves by utilizing the organization's tax-exempt status. As Metropolitan PHILIP can (rightly) claim he doesn't OWN anything, it is all Church property, and that he is the sole administrator of that property on behalf of the Church, then the IRS would tend to stay away from that one.
I daresay the government will be less interested in the Antiochian Archdiocese than the OCA, and they weren't terribly interested in the OCA.
What would this mean? We cannot rely on the government to fight our battles for us. Yes, we could try in State court - unfortunately, the power of a state to regulate/supervise a religious institution is very, very limited, and could be constitutionally challenged, probably successfully.
No, the answer is for us to do the right thing. What our Bishops and Metropolitans refuse to do, we must do ourselves. We are the body of Christ.
In Christ our Savior,
Dn. Marty Watt
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#98 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-10-14 20:02
Anonymous, re #36, your sentiments are neither sane nor logical. Allow me to explain:
1. You don't believe what you are saying, because otherwise you would state your name and back up what you are saying by reasoned discourse.
2. They are insane because no secular institution would operate under such thuggish machinations.
Either way, you are certainly not a Christian gentleman and quite possibly a coward.
#99 George Michalopulos on 2009-10-14 23:43
Indeed. Years ago, in the Christian Activist , Met. Isaiah of Denver wrote a striking article about asset-hoarding by parishes. It reads, in part,
"The concern for the funds of those parishes has been so great on the part of some, that they have not realized the erosion of the parish membership. An ironic result of this reality is that the parish, with its decreased membership, cannot compensate a full-time priest adequately because of its decreased annual income and also its refusal to touch the invested funds.
"There are also large parishes within the Archdiocese which do not bother to measure increasing or decreasing membership because the parish services seem to be well attended. Furthermore, they, too, have vast sums of money put away. For what?
"If the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ were to take place today and the Lord had come to lay claim to His Church, what would the guardians of all those millions of dollars say to Him? Would they say to the Lord, 'Here is your money, Lord.'? And in offering the funds to the Lord, what in the world would our Lord do with those funds? Or would they say to themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance (Matt. 21:38).'
"Obviously, when the Lord returns in glory, neither will He be killed nor will He have any use for all those buried funds.
"In reflecting upon parishes with excessive amounts of funds, it is a sad testimony when we hear of the evil that has befallen some of those parishes. Aside from the fact that those funds are being used only by the investment and lending institutions rather than by the Church for the benefit of the people, a number of our parishes have suffered embarrassment and heavy losses. Although, shamefully, some custodians of the funds have received personal favors from financial institutions, the greater sin is that a few custodians have removed large sums and used them for their personal intentions. These sins rarely come into public focus for fear that our people will stop giving to the Church.
"Where in this ugly reality can anyone see that our Church is truly the Church of Jesus Christ Who suffered and died for Her? Where can one find the spirituality for which Orthodoxy is known and admired? Where is the light of Orthodox Christianity which is found on the stand and not under it?"
[ http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles2/MetIsaiahGOA.php ]
#100 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-10-15 03:12
"Archdiocese is not diocese, it is above diocese"
Well, Fr. John, this is the Latin ecclesiology your apologias are propping up. Will you correct this writer?
#101 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-10-15 03:22
i still say get the hell out, peggy. we dont need your kind or that of mark stokoe troublemakers in our archdiocese. and for your info, nephew philip is a great contributor to the budget of the archdiocese, thats why he is on the board, and rightfully so.
#102 Anonymous on 2009-10-15 07:03
Fr. Dcn. Marty, you are almost certainly correct that the IRS would have little interest in the financial affairs of the Archdiocese. I suspect, however, that those New York state regulators whose job it is to see that New York non-profit and religious corporation laws are properly adhered to might well be very interested.
#103 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-10-15 08:00
"...for your info, nephew philip is a great contributor to the budget of the archdiocese, thats why he is on the board, and rightfully so."
So basically you're saying that "nephew Philip" bought his way onto the Board of Trustees? I'm so relieved to know it was a case of simony rather than an instance of outright nepotism.
si·mo·ny: The buying or selling of ecclesiastical pardons, offices, or emoluments.
nep·o·tism: Favoritism shown or patronage granted to relatives, as in business.
By-the-way, setting aside family discount rates but taking into account the current state of the economy, how much does a seat on the Board of Trustees actually sell for in terms of "contributions"?
#104 Heracleides on 2009-10-15 09:01
And yet another heroic anonymous Defender Of True Orthodoxy strides forth. He or she apparently has better punctuation skills than All Caps Anonymous Guy, but the message is the same: "Your betters have spoken. Now shut the hell up, get in line and keep the money coming in." Kudos to Fr. Patrick upthread for courteously laying it all out where the goats, or even anonymous Defenders Of True Orthodoxy, can get at it.
No, my courageous anonymous friend, we aren't going anywhere. We can be found in all jurisdictions, and the Church is our home, and neither you nor any other man can tell us to leave.
#105 Scott Walker on 2009-10-15 10:21
if that is the case then stop your whining and complaining. be an obedient son to your metropolitan and stop lending support to this websites trash talk with your passive-aggressive comments. the metropolitan has done no wrong and has been at the helm of this archdiocese while you raised your children...why now do we have this baloney? there is an underlying reason and that is becasue they are trying to bring down AOCA just the way they did OCA. and the situation of OCA is NOT that of AOCA. Mark stokoe is a jackass and so are all his supporters.
#106 Anonymous on 2009-10-15 10:27
Mark, I know that you don't want to censor anybody. In general, I agree with that -- we've had too great a tendency in the Orthodox Church to try to shut critics up. I'd like to suggest, though, that certain language and personal attacks might be counterproductive to a open discussion of the issues. "Get the h*ll out" is an excellent example of the kind of language and personal attack that might shut down discussion rather than promote it, and strongly suspect that "Anonymous" intends exactly that result.
I'm not sure what to do about that, but I thought I'd bring it to your attention, and that of the other participants.
#107 Catherine Jefferson on 2009-10-15 12:11
Your graciously expressed sentiments are a nice addition to the exchange here.
I have another explanation for why, if this "go to heller" is even for real, his posts get immediate play instead of the round file treatment to which even the slightest exercise of actual editorial discretion (although Mark styles himself editor, he advocates and practices a role that would more accurately be described most of the time as "proprietor," "conduit" or "facilitator") would immediately condemn them: they make the "side" Mark wants to look bad, look bad, and they help keep the kettle on the boil on the side that he wants to keep very well-heated.
The other explanation - that the guy is not for real and is just a trick of some diabolical mind intent on sowing, enhancing or exploiting discord among brethren - must also be considered ... even if we ruefully discard it for lack of solid evidence.
If we really believed that the sowing of discord among brethren is one of the short list of things the Lord hates most (Pr. 6:19) and that he hates it because it is the work of the devil and does so much damage that is difficult or impossible to undo, we would perhaps stop to ask ourselves "Hmmm .... now how would the devil like to sow discord among the brethren of the most thriving Orthodox Church in North America?" And then examine what goes on here a whole lot more closely for any linkage.
If you don't believe that Jim-Dandy-to-the-Rescue Reformers, in their haste and zeal and cockiness, can and do cause as much damage or more than those they purport to be Reforming, ask Jesus about wading into the field to pull out "tares." Matt.13:24-30 I just noticed when I looked it up a moment ago that at the end of the chapter, where he explains who everyone is in the parable (angels, the devil, etc.) he doesn't specifically say who the eager-beaver servants the would-be tare-pullers, are! Maybe so that we might all think it could be us?
There is much work to be done in our Archdiocese. But I don't trust the impatient voices that so readily hurl "anaxioses" or "hells" to be the ones who tell us what needs to be done (or not done), let alone the timetable. A God who took many centuries to work through the slow-grinding mills of the Old Testament for the coming of the Messiah, who took centuries for the 7 Ecumenical Councils come and go, doesn't readily work on the frenetic timetable of the tweet and twitter society, does He? But I think I know who does want to tempt people to adopt that rush to action. The same Being who would counsel despair and complete inaction.
#108 Fr. George Washburn on 2009-10-15 17:22
Good post +Father. There are some real thuggish types posting their threats and inanities. You didn't say it, so I will, they need to get a life.
Courteous discourse seems to something that is not addressed in the upbringing of some with the problem being that the preponderance of the 'nasty' posts being generated in favor of +MP. I don't personally have an axe to grind in this mess, but I couldn't stand back and watch without commenting.
I often wonder whether these anonymous posters would be able to make their comments face to face with a real human being or are they feeling safe hiding behind their computer keyboards?
Anyway, I certainly appreciate your posts. Not that I always agree, but I have to state that you are willing to put it on the line and you sign your name to the post. Seems somewhat cowardly to hide behind anonymity except in the case of those who would be greatly jeopardized by the thuggish types in the Archdiocese.
#109 Yanni on 2009-10-15 22:04
Anonymous, re #39. Fr Patrick Reardon is only doing what a man of conscience is supposed to do. You make an assertion, "that Metropoltian Philip has done no wrong." Actually, there are several instances in which cases could be made that he actually did do things wrong. Here are a few:
1. the unilateral demotion of diocesan bishops to auxiliary status. I challenge you to find me a situation in Church history where this has ever happened.
2. the expulsion of Fr Oliver from all AOCNA parishes without cause.
3. the normalization of Fr Joseph Allen's status upon his remarriage (THAT has never happened in the history of the Church).
Then of course there are the questionable things he has done:
1. the petulant way in which he waited until the last possible minute to "transfer" the three seminarians to Holy Cross.
2. the self-congratulatory biographies that he reedits every 10 years.
3. his assertion of God-like powers, like when he told the assembly at Palm Desert that he'll "die when he's good and ready."
And then the.... comments that:
1. Mary Magdalen was "a prostitute," (also said at Palm Desert in his justification of His Disgrace Demetri, and
2. The reason he surreptitiously transferred the three students last summer was because they needed a more thorough grounding in the "common Syro-Byzantine tradition."
I'm sure there are many more comments and actions that others will proffer.
Just so that people are clear: I have always come to the defense of -Philip in the past, choosing to overlook several of his more questionable actions, knowing that all men have fallen short of the glory of God, If he had retired last year, people would have remembered him for all the good he had done but since February, all that people will remember is the negative things. Lord have mercy.
#110 George Michalopulos on 2009-10-16 00:42
Fr George, bless,
there is much wisdom in what you are saying, but wisdom also asks that it not be used as a cover for malfeasance. My assertion against "Anonymous" was to call him out, not to question his existence. I fully believe that his clownish ravings represent a significant part of American Orthodoxy. Usually a hidebound, ethnic part but not exclusively so.
As for Mark being a mere "facillitator" rather than a true "editor," that is a point well-made, however if Mark did not allow these opinions (no matter how buffoonish they may be) then he would be accused of being censorious. It's almost a no-win situation for him.
Having said that, Mark cannot be held responsible for the clowinish antics of these pathetic characters or of the various bishops who are the source of such criminal and/or uncanonical antics. You can't blame onlookers for observing and commenting on trainwrecks.
#111 George Michalopulos on 2009-10-16 22:03
No, what you don't understand is what the Tomos of Autocephaly actually says. Please read it.
The situations both in Russia and America were unprecedented. Moscow gave the OCA autocephaly in nearly every meaningful sense, except that they did not want to make the other American Orthodox churches uncanonical. That is what differentiates the OCA's autocephaly from the autocephaly of other churches. In typical cases, making a daughter church autocephalous would automatically render Orthodox churches with allegiances to other primates uncanonical. In the OCA's case, however, they are explicitly told to treat the other canonical jurisdictions in America as brothers.
#112 pobrecita on 2009-10-19 17:30
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