Friday, October 23. 2009
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The only way that this recent "internal audit" decision is a step forward is if people realize the Metropolitan thinks they are stupid and thinks they will be fooled by him coming back with a clean internal audit report.
Perhaps it will be a step forward because it will continue inciting people to anger and will encourage others to take similar actions to those of Anthony Zrake. Besides that, I don't see how this is a step forward.
I have heard that multiple (as in 10-15) parishes are inexplicably late on their payments to Englewood. No reason given, just running a little behind. Maybe some additional parishes should do this. Maybe some of our parishes should group together and decide to withhold money in common so that it will be more difficult to punish us individually.
#1 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-23 07:44
I just read the article about the Synod meeting on antiochian.org. I was surprised that they excluded from the report of the Synod meeting Bishop Antoun's tirade against converts.
#2 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-23 08:13
You so called priests should be a voice of healing and not trying to incite rage. Shame on you. You should be blessed to serve this archdiocese under met Philip
#3 Anonymous on 2009-10-23 10:03
you dont like the decision? then live with it. this is a heiarrchal church and the bishop has the final word. im sick of all these whining priests that simply dont know their roles. you are subject to your bishop and represent him in your parishes. stop your crying. the decision has been made so go back to your churches and do your jobs...or better yet, find another job more conducive to your whining and crying....
#4 Anonymous on 2009-10-23 10:15
Mr. Anonymous, do you work directly for Englewood or are you just a fellow-traveler? The priests in question are the kind that most of us would choose to follow, ones who dare to point out discrepancies between what the hierarchy says and what they do.
#5 Glad to not be Antiochian on 2009-10-23 11:06
Are YOU whining an crying about something outside of YOUR control?
#6 Antionymous on 2009-10-23 11:27
Best comment ever
#7 Luke on 2009-10-23 11:27
Rage is sometimes necessary for real and authentic healing.
#8 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-23 11:38
The Orthodox Church is a conciliar church, not an hierarchical one. And even if you want to label it hierarchical, then you need to realize it is only hierarchical synodically (i.e. "in synod"). It is not hierarchical as in "obey one Metropolitan in absolutely everything."
My place in the church is not one of representing a corrupt, power-hungry Metropolitan (if someone can convince me that is my true role, I will gladly find another job). My place is to represent my bishop inasmuch as he represents Christ. My role is a role of service, not of power or glory. St John Chrysostom reminds bishops of this as well, stating that their only real authority is that of service.
And we might also ask you: if you truly believe that our church is hierarchical, why do you speak to a priest this way? A priest is higher up the hierarchy than you, unless you are a bishop or brother priest. Nevertheless, I won't ask you to shut up or know your place or ask you to change jobs.
For me, it is enough to hear the words of Christ from last Sunday's Gospel: "He who hears you hears me; he who rejects you rejects me; and he who rejects me rejects Him Who sent Me."
#9 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-23 11:52
At the Palm Desert convention, Metropolitan Philip publicly accused converts who questioned his rule of racism, a charge he has not leveled against converts who approve of his rule. He will not now publicly reprimand Bishop Antoun of his racism against converts, if this reportage is correct, because Bishop Antoun is in the favored class of those who approve of his rule. No one in that class (Bishop Antoun, Frs. Antypas, Allen, Shalhoub) has any shortcomings that will be called out publicly. This "buddy" system is morally corrupt.
#10 yet another George on 2009-10-23 12:07
Bp. Mark sent out the following:
“By the grace of God we had a productive Synod Meeting. As already announced at the Board of Trustees Meeting, Saturday, His Eminence appointed Bishop Joseph to chair a committee, along with Bishop Thomas, Dan Abraham and Deacon Emile Sayeg to work on reconciling the Pittsburgh Constitution with the Damascus Constitution, as was voted upon in Palm Desert, CA. In addition Bp Joseph was appointed by Metropolitan Philip to chair a committee to revise the Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities over the next year. Other members of the committee include His Grace Bp Basil, His Grace Bishop Thomas, Dan Abraham and Deacon Emile Sayeg. Finally, at the Board of Trustees Meeting a decision was made to conduct an internal audit of the Archdiocesan books. Eight members from the Board of Trustees were chosen by His Eminence to work on this over the next year.”
Appointing a deacon who is a litigation attorney with limited theological education when there are many more qualified clergy is another example of Metropolitan Philip’s wish to dilute the truth.
Dan Abraham on the committee to revise the Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities is outrageous. Not only does he not have any theological education, his wife has been one of Bp. Demetri’s closest supporters and advocates for many years. She has gone around telling people that Bp. Mark was separating the Midwest diocese from the archdiocese. Why, because +Mark wanted to function as a ruling diocesan bishop and his name isn’t Demetri. Hence, what can one expect of her husband, Dan? Will he be objective when it comes to supporting a diocesan bishop’s canonical rights? What makes him qualified by the Metropolitan is that he is a millionaire and blindly loyal to +Philip. Surely these are the two most important attributes to MP, since money give him power and loyalty is above ecclesiology and truth.
#11 Disgusted Antiochian Priest on 2009-10-23 12:08
One of the most interesting things about this Antiochian.org statement is the simple fact that it exists. Never before has Englewood been so forthcoming with information. Even if there are omissions and so forth, it's a really amazing thing that anything at all is being released. They might not like the Internet, but hopefully they're beginning to realize that, if they aren't open about these meetings, someone else (like OCANews or AntiochianInfo) will be.
#12 Ferris Haddad on 2009-10-23 12:10
BTW we are not whining disobedient priests. We are educated, experienced and knowledgeable pertaining to theology, doctrine and ecclesiology. We know about obedience to our bishop, that is our ruling diocesan bishop, not a pope-wanna-be. How about you #4 anonymous?
#13 Disgusted Antiochian Priest on 2009-10-23 12:19
Since Anonymous commented twice, so will I in response to both of his or her posts. You say: "this is a heiarrchal [sic] church and the bishop has the final word." What a profound misunderstanding of Orthodox ecclesiology! The church, under its Head, Christ, is comprised of 4 orders which work together in conciliarity under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If each does not listen to the others, they will not function properly. When Metropolitan Philip hears something he does not like, he seems to rarely consider the possibility that he might be wrong. Instead, he views it as a personal attack, rather than a valid identification of a potential problem and proceeds to vilify, ridicule, or treat with contempt those who differ from him, rather than fulfilling his priestly calling of trying to reconcile them by being open the truth of what might be being said. The Sarah Hodges confrontation at the Palm Desert General Convention (http://ocanews.org/news/HodgesTranscript8.3.09.html) is a perfect illustration of what I mean. Priests, deacons, laity all have the responsibility to tell him when they think he's wrong. He has the responsibility to listen to them and fairly and honestly consider what they might be saying. He does not do that.
You said: "Shame on you. You should be blessed to serve this archdiocese under met Philip." We serve under Christ. If Metropolitan Philip acts in way that causes one to wonder if his spirit is that of a servant of Christ rather than one who seeks to be served by the other orders, that is his problem, not ours. He has certainly acted in that manner. The shame is on him, not on us. We refuse to be cowed and told to sit down like little children by people who consider themselves our rulers rather than our shepherds or, more accurately, fellow sheep, equally infected with sin, self-deception, and pride. When adults are treated respectfully because that is the way all should be treated, not just those who agree with Metropolitan Philip, then things will begin to heal. But not until then.
#14 yet another George on 2009-10-23 12:49
You say: "What makes him qualified by the Metropolitan is that he is a millionaire and blindly loyal to +Philip." The common denominator among those appointed seems to be the second of these characteristics. Including the first sounds like envy. If Mr. Abraham is a millionaire, it is rare that self-made millionaires (as opposed to trust fund babies) achieve that status without serving a number of people, giving them what they want at a price they deem fair and reasonable. If so, that is honorable, not dishonorable, especially if one then uses the money so acquired for the Kingdom. Mr. Abraham may be blind to MP's misuses of his money or he may not. We simply don't know because there is still no objective oversight of the books of the Archdiocese. But let's not zing him merely for being a millionaire. He's not necessarily evil for being such, any more than the poor are necessarily righteous for being poor. As I discovered at the Palm Desert Convention, Mr. Abraham is an especially winsome person. There's a reason why he's been successful in business. He might, you know, even be a good man....
#15 yet another George on 2009-10-23 14:14
Will this nightmare never end? It is time for many of us to run, not walk, to other Orthodox jurisdictions. The Metropolitan and his "friends" have no intention of carrying out any kind of independent audit. It is a farce, and Orthodox Christians in the Antiochian Archdiocese need to face up to the situation. I have been told over and over again that I need to stay and hope for the best. But the corrupt nature of this regime has been amply demonstrated. It definitely interferes with what's left of my spiritual life and does nothing to assuage my anger. I surrender.
#16 anon on 2009-10-23 14:21
LOL! We aren't the Roman Catholic Church where all must blindly follow their leader. You are either a deluded convert or an Arab mujnoon who knows nothing about Orthodox ecclesiology.
Get with the program, habbibi, the money is going to stop flowing
and already has begun to stop. The party is over.
No more condos in Florida for Saliba family members courtesy of the Archdiocese.
We are taking back our church!
#17 Delegate #3 on 2009-10-23 15:05
This is the stuff that never gets told unless someone has a forum to speak the truth.
As an outsider, I find your post very revealing.
#18 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-10-23 16:55
This is Metropolitan Philip's MO. He concedes something and then undermines the effort by poisoning the well so nothing good will come from it.
Have any of the members of the audit committee EVER gone on record disagreeing with Metropolitan Philip?
We commemorate the Holy Martyrs and ask for their prayers. They gave their lives to protect the Church, yet most of our clergy won't even give their names! They would rather protect their reward in this life than help us prepare for the next.
We have NO ZEAL for our Father's house. We are like the lukewarm Church of Laodicea. We are "rich, wealthy, and have need of nothing and do not know that we are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked." - Christ is prepared to "vomit us out."
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
#19 Gail Sheppard on 2009-10-23 19:17
But no place does it say to be blind!
Read Fr Touma's denunciation of power hungry Prelates. We have one.
Read Met Khodr's treatsie and learn the proper place of a Bishop (or Met.) in the Church.
Too bad no SECRET BALLOR for the Board meeting rather than a roll call. We know, already, of those whose names written down, who spoke for an External Audit, Wake up!
#20 From fellow East Coast (DIOCESE!) Priest on 2009-10-23 20:41
Seriously, an 'internal audit'? Why bother. If the people internally would do anything better or differently they would be doing it already.
A preview of the results of the just announced Internal Audit:
All the accounts given to be included in the audit will be found to be without material error and will represent fairly the operations of the AOCA in the opinion of the committee members though none of them have professional credentials in this area. A summary of those results without detail or footnotes will be published along with a reassuring cover letter signed by the committee. There will be some irregularities that need investigating relative to the accounts associated with those known to be creating problems for the church's Engelwood operations, professional actual outside audits will be ordered for (read: against) them -- but these will at the last minute too be modified to internal audits.
Some people close to the process will notice anonymously that a number of bequests and accounts of special, south florida or offshore investment or other occasional character cannot be found or were not included in the summaries presented generally.
In time if there are still enough people hanging around funding all this, the leadership will consent to an actual audit, but this will be a 'compilation' where the auditors will rely on the information given without question, while providing some advice as to methods. Complaints about the computer system lacking whatnot will lead to a new system being called for. Perhaps two conventions down the line an actual audit will be accepted, the overall intention being to put current misdoing then discovered beyond the statues of limitations for recovery.
The conseration absent from the leadership is whether actual growth is deemed important and if so whether it depends on whether those interested in growth will still come with this internal 'doomed to lack credibility before it begins' effort at providing the perception of honesty with money in high places.
#21 Harry Coin on 2009-10-23 20:52
The other day on my way home from work, I saw a large advertisement on the side of a public bus:
ABUSE: Let's get Real!
Let's get Involved!
Let's Stop the Hurting
Obviously they were advertising about domestic violence, but the ad hit me so hard - this is what is happening to all of us in our Archdiocese. We are being ABUSED - it's been going on for a long time - and it's time to stop it and return the joy and peace to God's Holy Church.
Hierarchs, Clergy, Laity and others should not partake in ABUSE of any kind, IF THEY TRULY LOVE GOD AND BELIEVE IN HIS TEACHINGS. If they do, they are serving two masters, and they must make a choice. There is no room in our church for ABUSE, and the meetings in Texas only showed further the extent of the ABUSE that prevails. Until things change, the ABUSE will still be there, and we will only go backwards in our efforts. It's time to act on behalf of everyone.
In response to "following a corrupt Metropolitan", "the anonymous" people have accused him of "this & that" - uhm where is the proof?
Don't insult the core of the Antiochian Church, these attacks on MY BISHOP's must come to an end, & of Sayidna Philip literally has an open house, every receipt, every bill - all of it- you people will find, you'll create something to keep "this" going, this drive to destroy-
Well, I for one am increasing my donations people- & so are a lot of big donors- much thanks for the attacks, the lies and the tremendous disrespect, it's just one more reason that the Antiochian
Archdiocese will NEVER be a part of the O.C.A. and why we should totally break ties with your corrupt O.C.A.
You will NOT win, Metropolitan Philip is truly the victim here, and I'd like to see this posting to be published....
(Editor's note: This is not someone "winning". It is about everyone winning. When Churches, especially God's Holy Orthodox Church, are open, transparent and accountable, espeically financially, everyone wins, for our witness has integrity, honesty and conviction behind its words. I do not understand how anyone can object to that. Secondly, I have never advocated that the AOCA be part of the OCA. Ever. Period. The OCA has enough administrative problems of its own right now, to deal with the AOCA's as well. But thanks for the whiff of a conspiracy. It's always good to laugh.)
#23 Alexx Ramchiato on 2009-10-24 03:29
This is a very small step, Mr. Haddad. I am glad that you are looking on the bright side of life, but your point only goes so far. The meetings did not go that well. Yes, Bishop Basil is on a committee, and I know you'll note that. I agree that is good, but it does not guarantee that the committee in question will produce the desired result and that still does not address the problem of the internal audit. Further, I'm not entirely convinced that it is better to have Englewood producing "spin" than it is for Englewood to produce nothing.
#24 Phil on 2009-10-24 13:36
What we ought to do is focus energy and attention on one jurisdiction. I think having groups here and there in all the jurisdictions accomplishes nothing. Perhaps we should concentrate on one, say, the OCA (or another?) and get one jurisdiction operating in a healthy way. Yes, there will always be sinners, but if we can get one jurisdiction to deal with scandalous behavior appropriately, we will have accomplished much more than if we keep getting frustrated because we are spread thin. We have allowed ourselves to be divided and conquered.
#25 Phil on 2009-10-24 19:48
We already know who manipulates the voice vote vs. the secret ballot - you guessed it right - MP - he's been doing that for years. It's his only way to visually intimidate his BOT when they give their vote, as opposed to not knowing by secret ballot who voted yes or no. If he was truly a "SHEPHERD", he wouldn't keep score. He would encourage everyone to listen to the discussion, hear both sides and then vote what they think is best for the Archdiocese. But then we don't live in fairyland, do we? Life is simpler there. So instead MP forces everyone into a corner, so to speak, with no way out, and the weak ones, on his LIST, don't want to upset him, so they vote the way he wants them to, giving up their freedom to vote as they see best. .....
Seven orders, not four. One reason those of some of us in minor orders bother putting our lowly titles before our names when we write on matters ecclesiastical is precisely to warn against clericalism. (Curiously, in America the practice seems to be most common among us Antiochians and in ROCOR.)
The fact that some of the greatest theological writers of the past two centuries (Khomiakov and Kalamiros come to mind) have been laymen doesn't seem to be enough to block the drift to clericalism in the minds of many, so we do our little part by offering a reminder.
#27 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-10-24 20:22
I am tired of hearing people speaking about running to other jurisdictions, as if these jurisdictions provide hope or are somehow better.
The Antiochian Church in our church. Whether you were born into it or chrismated into it is irrelevant. As soon as you were baptized and/or chrismated--at whatever age--this church became your church. The last thing we need is for people to desert the church now because of troubles. Stay here and help us work it out.
This is not to say we should not have a unified American Church; but if we run and jurisdiction shop when there are problems, we are actually working against Orthodox unity, which can only happen with healthy, functional jurisdictions.
#28 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-24 20:36
I have pondered how to even begin responding to this post. It's nearly impossible, other than to say that if you think after this most recent decision of an internal audit with hand-selected people chosen by the Metropolitan constitutes him having an "open house," then there is nothing I can say that will convince you.
Some people are going to believe whatever they want to believe. Some people are going to think that the Metropolitan is terrible no matter what good he has done. Others are going to think him a saint, no matter how much evidence is presented to show him as a power-hungry individual.
Certain people--a minority, I think (and hope)--have already made up their mind, and no amount of evidence will cause them to change. I think most others are open to facts. I think most others are open to this inconvenient thing we call reality. And if we are open to reality, and not our wishful thinking or how we wish the world worked, then I think we can easily see there are serious problems with blindly following our Metropolitan (or anyone else, for that matter).
#29 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-24 20:44
East Coast Father: you mentioned +Antoun's comments concerning converts at the synod meeting. Do you have more info on this point? Is it on record? Anything on Ancient Faith Radio....?!
#30 Subdeacon Bob on 2009-10-24 22:33
Your point is well taken, father, but do be careful not to conflate the archdiocese with the Church. Not everyone who has left the archdiocese has championed "jurisdiction shopping" or "hopping." Sometimes, for some people, it is time to move on to where they believe they can honestly help work with people to build something healthy. That happens at the local level more than we'd probably care to admit.
We would do well not to overreact on this issue, no matter what our position. Frankly, I think the proposal by Phil makes some sense, so let's all take a deep breath and pray and realize that there are going to be different ways of processing this and not everyone who leaves is jurisdiction hopping plain and simple. Leaving the Antiochian Archdiocese today does not mean a person will spend his or her life jumping around at every bad turn of events. Nor does it mean that he or she did so in the past.
Dear Subdeacon Bob,
As far as I know, the meeting minutes for Synod meetings are closed and can only be opened with the Metropolitan's approval. Even so, I'm sure his tirade would not appear in the minutes. Neither was the Synod meeting recorded on Ancient Faith Radio, or elsewhere.
I heard about this tirade second hand. I have heard enough of them about converts first-hand to believe it's true. And if it's not true, there are plenty of other times I have heard with my own ears.
#32 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-25 11:48
Thank you, Father Herbel, for your comments. I do not, in any way, want to be one of those "protestant" types who church hops. Nevertheless, there comes a time when one must decide to "fish or cut bait," in that when the actions of the Antiochian Archdiocese board of directors, and especially the Metropolitan indicate that there is NO intention of transparency, and are just a matter of stall, stall, stall, cover up, cover up, cover up at the national level. I do know and love many priests in the Antiochian Archdiocese, but it's clear that many of them are disgusted, too, and have no where to turn. To leave and go to the OCA is not really church hopping, but if there is a Parish where one's contributions or help would be needed at the local level, that just might be what should be done. It just seems to me that the atmosphere in many antiochian parishes has been poisoned. In many cases, these feelings are unspoken, but the sense of disease is there and will not go away until there is reform.
#33 anon on 2009-10-25 15:53
On 10-17-09 (concerning Mr. Zrake's open letter) I wrote:
"Personally, and in fairness to all, I am awaiting the outcome of the local Synod and Board of Trustees meetings this weekend before taking principled action similar to Mr. Zrake. There is, however, a way to do it without hurting one’s own parish. More on that if the occasion arises. Hopefully, it will not."
Now, after the meetings in Houston, little actual clarity has been forthcoming. Some say an internal audit is "an important first step." Others say only an external audit will do. And on top of this, no formal announcement about Bp. Demitri has come from the archdiocese.
Simply more confusion.
Assuming that those who made these decisions are good people who are trying to do the right thing, there are still questions that remain:
1.) Why do we need an entire year to complete study on a manual of hierarchical responsibilities when we already have the canons of the church as a guide?
2.) If ANY audit was deemed necessary, why not make it one in which ALL could place some trust?
3.) If any decisions were made concerning Bp. Demitri, why were they not formally announced?
These are honest questions, and they are not intended as accusations. Some of us are trying desperately to give the benefit of any doubt to the archdiocese. Why, pray tell, do you insist on making it so very difficult to trust what you are doing?
Are we to wait another year (or more) to have to decide YET AGAIN whether you can be trusted? We rational sheep have a responsibility as stewards that we take very seriously. We cannot afford to put our trust in princes nor sons of men.
So I ask a few more questions of you:
Would YOU continue to give money to an organization if there was any shred of suspicion that it was helping to pay (for example) for the persecution of Christians in the holy land? Or helping to fund the building of Israeli settlements?
If such questions were raised, and the response you received was, "We'll do an internal audit," would YOU be satisfied? Would YOU continue to have faith in that organization and continue to support it? Would YOU say, "Well, we can wait a year or more before deciding what to do. We'll just continue our support in the meantime."?
If this same organization had also been rumored to be doing things that were questionable, things that later turned out to be true via the acknowledgment of their own mouths, would YOU continue to have faith in them and simply keep on giving without question?
Do not be surprised if the giving declines, my brethren. Do not place the blame on those who refuse to give. Do not accuse them of disloyalty or disobedience. Many have waited patiently for you to do what is right in the sight of God and men. Many waited for you to emulate the blessed Paul who made every effort to conduct the gifts of the churches for the relief of the saints in Jerusalem in a manner that was ABSOLUTELY transparent so NO ONE could question his integrity or his motives - and this (I would add for those who never cease to remind us this is a hierarchical church and that all should just shut up and obey) is in spite of the fact that he was the APOSTLE PAUL, the planter and builder of churches, the one with true and undeniable apostolic authority, the father in Christ of all those from whom the collection was taken.
You may claim that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing from now until Christ returns, but this will not change the fact that there is a PERCEPTION of wrongdoing - a perception created not by OCA NEWS but by the archdiocese itself. You were tasked with restoring trust, and that can only be achieved by absolute transparency.
Of those that voted, 36% apparently believed the abiding lack of trust is serious enough to address head-on. So I ask you, what sort of unity will we have a year (or more) from now when more than a third of the archdiocese is still unable to have faith in the blamelessness of their leadership?
#34 Brian Van Sickle on 2009-10-25 18:16
Interesting, Alexx, you stated: "Sayidna Philip literally has an open house, every receipt, every bill - all of it- you people will find".
That is wonderful, then MP can end the whole controversy simply by producing every receipt, every bill, all of it, and he will be vindicated in the eyes of the people. ROTFLMAO.
This kind of like that Bob fellow in the OCA, he had all of the paperwork too and apparently he spent a lot of time and effort shredding everything that might point a finger at misdoings.
Has MP purchased a good shredder yet? And, does he actually have all of the paperwork, where does he keep it? Normally that kind of documentation is kept in the files of the accounting office, the place where the bills are paid, etc. Strange that a Metropolitan would personally keep all of the paperwork.
Your logic defies the imagination. Turn on the lights someone.
#35 Glad to not be Antiochian on 2009-10-25 18:44
Pointing out that Dan Abraham is a millionaire is not to infer that he in any way gained his fortune through inappropriate means. It was noted to show that Metropolitan Philip has the proclivity to surround himself with the very wealthy. The very wealthy readily serve him without reservation because he has convinced them that by doing what he wants they are serving God and His Church. Very cunning, very shrewd and very dangerous. Certainly Dan Abraham is not alone in being used, he has a lot of company.
#36 Disgusted Antiochian Priest on 2009-10-25 18:53
What has happened to St George in Troy?
Are people there still calling for transparency or are they still throwing their money into the black whole?
Birds of a feather, flock together!
Look at our represenatives to the Holy Synod meeting in June.
Nothing to HIDE?
Let the light in?
Its called BLACK LIGHT!
#37 anonymous on 2009-10-25 20:53
Your situation is obviously unique and I would counsel someone in your shoes differently (though I would not presume to counsel you, a brother priest). Your point is well-taken as well.
#38 An East Coast Priest on 2009-10-26 13:53
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