Tuesday, August 31. 2010
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The danger in this reflection, which on its surface is a call to moderation and tolerance, is the cover it gives to those forces tearing apart Christ's Church in the name of Authority and Tradition. Of course, we should resist making black and white judgments, but is there not a distinction to be made in the various shades of gray we encounter throughout life?
The recent history of the OCA and the AOCA, not to mention worldwide Orthodoxy, is replete with examples of dark gray that demand a strong response from the Faithful. Of course, even a principled and reasoned response will be labeled as inappropriate and divisive. But to blandly subsume the sins of Authority, into the excesses of the offended and oppressed, is a kind of moral equivalency that must be rejected and despised as a manipulative tool of the devil.
#1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-08-31 07:46
I, too lived near Jordanville, but not part of ROCOR. I disagree with your point that the OCA/Metropolia was in schism with ROCOR. From my experience, ROCOR was in schism with all Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States--I cannot speak of Europe or elsewhere. Now ROCOR could be uniting its espicopacy and administration with the Russian Patriarchial parishes in the United States. The attitude of ROCOR parishes is that they are superior in their Orthodoxy and that their fellow brethren (does not matter which jurisdiction you wish to refer to) are wrong. Administrative unity of the Orthodox jurisdiction, I firmly believe, will be grassroots upward, not Espicopacy downwards.
(Editor's note: I suggest one read's Bogolepov's Towards an American ORthodox Church for a serious discussion of who is in schism with whom. Since the time of St. Tikhon, and following the tradition of the 1917 Council, the OCA has been a conciliar church, led by a Synod, rather than Synodal church. While desiring unity it refused to abandon that heritage and tradition as the price of unity in 1946. We are not going to abandon conciliarity - and the Bishops of the Synod seem little interested in it. Fine. If they can reconcile with bishops consecrated during the Soviet Era (even as they decried a lack of grace in that church for decades) I fail to understand why a difference in church administration in two separate jurisdictions is a problem towards full sacramental communion. We don't want to run them; nor should they desire to administer us. Brothers need dwell in unity, as the Psalm says, not uniformity.)
#2 anonymous on 2010-08-31 08:24
When all is said and done, the people will have decided the issue, voting as they have always done, with their feet and their wallets. There are very many good people in all of the churches. Metropolitan Jonah is one of them I honestly believe that the Metropolitan loves the Lord and his flock. It will be this love that will eventually guide him to do what he thinks is best. I may not agree with him when that comes and I will be voting with my feet and wallet. It is my responsibility as a member of the Body to try to also do the right thing for the Body. I pray that the Lord will guide my decision.
In the meantime, I agree with the Metropolitan's stated position (article in the latest issue of the Orthodox Church) that the OCA is autocephalous and we will not give it up for nothing less than a truly autocephalous local church.
People make the point (rightly at this point in history) that the OCA is not the largest Orthodox jurisdiction in America. These people seem to think that we should defer to the overseas "mother" churches, partly because the OCA is indeed not even a plurality in America. I have two questions to ask of them:
1. Is the OCA doomed to be a minority jurisdiction?
2. With the unchurched percentage as high as it is in America, do you believe that OCA is bound to grow in the future?
I would think that if you answer question 1 in the affirmative and question 2 in the negative, there are two possibilities. Either you are ignorant of, or do not believe in, the power of the Holy Spirit or the promises of the Lord Himself, or you do not think that the OCA is par of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
The answers for me are clear. I am now in a wonderful, Spirit filled parish of the OCA Diocese of the South. It is led by a wonderful priest, whose boss is a wonderful bishop (+Jonah for now), and which is populated by cradle born and convert Orthodox believers from all lands and generations. I am home.
#3 Carl Kraeff on 2010-08-31 09:40
While your assessment of the Antiochian situation may be quite reasonable and pragmatic, it also appears to me as bleak. Essentially, you present it as a moral dilemma: accept the arbitrary rule of the Metropolitan and his supporters or compromise the position of the Middle Eastern Orthodox. While personally I would lean toward the former solution, one is not compelled to acknowledge it as morally optimal or correct. Furthermore, if the current actions of the Synod and the Metropolitan are indeed “unTraditional” (and no one, to my knowledge, has presented a convincing case for their validity - the Metropolitan has simply flaunted power in this matter), then the question is what deviations from the norm are acceptable for the sake of concern and compassion for the mistreated. After all, a similar argument has been used in the Middle East to justify the Communion of non-Chalcedonians, Catholics and, allegedly, even Moslems. I do not have answers, I am simply posing the question. How far does one take it?
Secondly, Metropolitan Philip's actions have hardly been motivated by his concern for the Syrian and Lebanese Christians. The reasons for his and his advocates’ displeasure with having diocesan bishops are glaringly obvious from their not so subtle comments coming from the Toledo area. You write that “it is possible to strongly and vocally disagree and protest an action of any member of the Church that is contrary to the Tradition” (although it appears these days what is Traditional in the Church is determined by those with a political and financial upper hand). I have a very hard time with Traditionalism being divorced from ethics. I am not implying that you suggest this. Yet, what about the victimization of those who have questioned or disagreed with Englewood? If you have followed this saga closely, you probably know that some methods of Bishop Mark’s opponents appear to be downright mobsterlike.
Finally, I believe that a better familiarity of the American Antiochians with the Middle Eastern hierarchs who, according to you, deserve much respect and trust, as well as with the plight of Middle Eastern Christians would be beneficial for us here. It could also result in a continuous financial support from this Archdiocese. A connection to the Mother Church rooted in trust and in love would be much more meaningful and profound than the current dysfunctional and ambiguous relationship.
#4 Karina Ross on 2010-08-31 10:31
anonymous, Mr Chapman does not that say that the Metropolia/OCA WAS a schism from ROCOR. Rather, he clearly states that ROCOR has always understood the Metropolia/OCA to be in schism from it. Regardless of who was or was not in schism from whom, it is indisputable that this understanding has long been the official ROCOR position.
#5 John Congdon on 2010-08-31 11:08
I was glad to read Nicholas Chapman's essay, and concur that our demons certainly seem to be grey these days.
But there are two points that are very clear, and will serve us, at least within the Orthodox Church in America, to keep our bearings while we try to navigate through what may seem like fog.
First, unlike any other ethnic jurisdiction in the New World, the historical and canonical orgins of the OCA clearly lie in Alaska, where a monastic mission was specifically sent to bring Orthodox Christianity to America, for Americans. The initial contact was with Native Americans, Aleuts, Indians, Eskimos, and the missionaries learned their languages, translated scripture and liturgical texts into those languages, opened schools and ordained clergy from among those indigenous tribes. This is undeniable. The mission was, from its inception to America and for Americans of any ethnic, cultural, linguistic or national origin or identity.
When sovereignty of Alaska was transferred to the USA in 1867, following the wise advice of St. Innocent Veniaminov, the mission moved south, not to transplant "Russian" Orthodoxy to the "lower 48" but to make Orthodoxy accessible to Americans, this time those whose ancestors had immigrated from Europe, specifically Britain. It is this missionary consciousness and identity, perhaps obscured by the conversion of formerly Uniat Rus' in the time of St. Alexis Toth and St. Patriarch Tikhon, that was never lost. Even the later Metropolitans, Leonty and Ireney, referred to the "Metropolia" as "Nasha Missiya," our Mission.
And while Soviet interference and Stalinist policies prevented this mission from maintaining administrative ties with its Mother Church, it never condemned nor broke communion with the Moscow Patriarchate, nor did it ever derive its canonical or administrative authority from the so-called Synod Abroad, even though some members of that group maintained that it had. The bishops of the Metropolia and later the OCA were appointed by Moscow, not the Synod Abroad, ordained and given their dioceses and their titles by the Church in Russia, from which it was forced to separate for purely political reasons. I think the book by the late Archbishop Gregory (Afonsky) clearly delineates and explains these painful developments in the life of the American Mission after 1917.
The second pole or pillar I would highlight, as we attempt to maintain our course in North America, is conciliarity. This concept dominated the discussions at the All-Russian Council in Moscow, 1917-18. The very identity of the Church, not just in Russia but worldwide, had become essentially linked to the term "sobornost'" the Slavonic term for "catholic" in the Nicene Creed being precisely "conciliar."
St. Tikhon recognized that the administrative of the Church in this new mission field of North America had to recover this dimension of Church life in order to flourish. The whole Russian Church, as Tsardom ended, recognized that the old semi-papal, autocratic way in which the church was organized, had to be reconsidered. There is nothing conciliar, they realized about having a pope in each diocese any more than having just one in the Vatican. And they sought to establish a conciliar framework, at the parish, diocesan and national levels to reflect what they believed to be an essential aspect of Orthodox ecclesiology, conciliarity.
The Revolution and Soviet era precluded the implementation of this vision in Russia, but in America, it was accepted and has become an essential aspect of the life of our Church, again distinguishing the OCA from other jurisdictions.
These are the twin pillars on which the OCA now stands. Our Autcephaly is not a sacred cow, and, if necessary, this self-goverance could be sacrificed, surrendered in order to create a more fully unified Orthodox Church on this continent--but not if the price is the loss of either the missionary dimension and focus, or the suppression of conciliar structures and the "culture of conciliarity" that we have tried to establish within the OCA.
Recent history has demonstrated, especially in the way the entire Church rose, with one heart and one mind, to demand reform in the diocese of Alaska, that the Holy Spirt can and does act through the whole Church, inspiring, guiding and challenging us all to work in harmony to fulfill the Will of God for His Church. Conciliarity "works." And we should be loathe to renounce it, to lose it, in order to gain some political advantage, some greater power or influence within the community of ethnic jurisdictions.
Essentially, what I am trying to say is that the issue has really nothing to do with who got here first, which bishop or parish got established when, how, by whom. I consider this all a diversion--fog--grey demons confusing the fundamental issues. The questions really are what are we doing here, in North America, not why or when did we come, and how are we doing it. And what distinguishes the Orthodox Church in America from most if not all other ecclesial bodies present in the New World is that we are here for Americans, for North America, and we seek to establish the Orthodox Church here using a conciliar process, governing the Church in a way that respects and utilizes all the God-given gifts and talents of all the People of God, clergy, laity and hierarchy, in building up the Holy Church in this land.
And may God help, guide and bless us all!
(Editor's note: Amen.)
#6 Archpriest Michael Oleksa on 2010-08-31 11:09
I too respect the tone and temperament of Nicholas' reflection, but if what he is saying is true, that the post-Ottoman world that Antiochian bishops are accustomed to is something we Americans don't understand or appreciate, then it is not a "grey" issue, but a black and white issue that we leave all those grey issues in Damascus where people are better able to shoulder the moral compromises that are necessary. We have enough grey demons of our own.
Also, I can't be expected to take seriously the argument that the bishops in Antioch should or could back away from a "metropolitan district" here, partly based on the fact that it didn't work in Akar, a place that has nothing to do with us.
The impact of American foreign policy on the orthodox remant in Iraq is risible. I'd like to know how often the Orthodox in the old countries petition their governments to soften this or that policy in the interest of the Orthodox in America. Nicholas aludes to a duty we have in this respect, but seeks at the same time to reduce the rights and prerogatives that would come with living up to said duty. In other words, how would the Orthodox influence on American foreign policy (laughably small in any scenario) improve by submitting our selves to some sort of worldwide episcopal re-arrangement of forces?
Finally, he seems to assert that autocephaly is based on a historical premise that the Russians were the "first" here. Who was first, who was senior, who is better, who has the "prerogative" to grant it... most of us don't care, nor should we. The real motive force beyond autocephaly is fairly straightforward: the need for the american metropolia at the time to order its own affairs. That need remains. I would remind Nichoals that Abraham didn't actually kill his son. Let's not kill ours. Let's keep the autocephaly until the alledly "more mature" jurisdictions provide us something demonstrably better.
#7 STeve Knowlton on 2010-08-31 11:36
it doesnt get any conciliar as this. the synod made a unanimous decision this past month with ALL bishops in agreement. the holy spirit guided their deliberations and a decision was made. when a decsion is good and you like it, it is called conciliar and yet when you disagree, people dont call it conciliar and think that money had to change hands or something. respect the decision. it is final....
#8 Anonymous on 2010-08-31 12:57
"it is final" means what exactly? The one thing I have come to expect from the Synod of Antioch is that everything is final until the next time. Perhaps the next time there will be no Met. Philip and then what will happen? You know that they do what is politically expedient and so the decision will change.
This of this like this-- what does "Self-Ruled" really mean? It means whatever someone says at that time which is why they never write down what it means. We Arabs like this ambiguity because it gives us flexibility to back out of bad situations by saying that we did not say that. So we can have self-rule with no self-rule and no one is lying. Gray demons indeed. They buy their paint in Damascus.
#9 anonymous on 2010-08-31 14:16
I am inclined to agree. Let the bishops of the Holy Synod come to America and get to know us and we them. Perhaps communication and trust can be restored.
#10 antionymous on 2010-08-31 16:11
May I second the Editor's Amen and thank you Fr. Michael for your encouraging remarks. May God continue to bless your service and grant you many years.
#11 lexcaritas on 2010-08-31 17:00
"it is final?" Like last year's decision? Like "self-rule?" Like our enthroned bishops?
#12 antionymous on 2010-08-31 17:58
Nicholas, I have been a guest in your house and been dragged to services in Bath to read names of Celtic saints I can't begin to pronounce ... but I do so have to disagree with you. Yes, we are all here and all have met and learned much from the hierarchs. But I do not agree that they are doing all they can to promote Orthodoxy and one Church in America, or in fact, anywhere. The reality is, Orthodox bishops that are elected are elected only because they meet one specific criteria: They are not married. They possess no special faith, intelligence or wisdom (that is absent for the lay faithful), and this is where many go astray. I was once taught by Fr. John Meyendorff, that we must always remember, that a poor elderly lady in the pew or standing in the back next to a postage sized icon of an unknown saint might possess far greater sanctity than the priest at the altar or the bishop on his throne.
The key to all of this is knowing that there must be a vertical collaboration from bishop to priest to layman or lay woman. Only then can we get beyond the idea of "This is what is best for MY patriarchal see" or "this is best for me". We need to see that evangelization is the key to Orthodoxy and without it, without those who have proven successful in converting a few, or a dozen or a thousand, can not easily be dispensed with.
We need ALL of the faithful. At times, alas, I feel as if our hierarchy has forgotten this, and we cannot simply be trusted to sit back, do nothing, and trust that they know best. They don't always know best.
#13 Sean O'Clare on 2010-08-31 20:22
Conciliarity is of the nature of the Church. No council can authentically change that nature. I am nobody but only one who prays. Don't listen to me - listen to Holy Tradition. If we accepted council rulings that pretend to change the nature of the Church, we might as well become Episcopalians and bless dogs rather than wash feet. We cannot change the nature of the Church ... by attempting to do so, we only distance ourselves from the faith once delivered - distance we must repent of with much suffering for God's little ones. If the Synod of Antioch acts like Protestants blind to Holy Tradition, that's little reason to run after them like blind fools.
#14 monologistos on 2010-08-31 20:51
Dear Father Michael Oleksa,
I have long admired the beloved Alaskan diocese, the mother diocese of American Orthodoxy. It is a hallowed land and indisputibly a spiritual oasis that produced the early saints of North America. I also tremendously respect the life and memory of the ever-memorable, loving former archpastor of Alaska, Archbishop Gregory (Afonsky).
However, I must say something that I think is long overdue for saying: the history of American Orthodoxy written by then-Bishop Gregory-- which you invoke authoritatively-- as well as every history of American Orthodoxy published by Metropolia-cum-OCA authors over the years has been, to put it as charitably as possible, replete with well-intentioned falsehoods and thinly-veiled hostility toward ROCOR. In addition to Bishop Gregory's history, this also goes for the 1976 U.S.A. Bicentennial publication edited by Constance Tarasar and John Erickson-- with significant imput by Frs. Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff-- (*Orthodox America, 1794-1976*); the 1994 OCA Bicentennial publication *Orthodox Christians in North America, 1794-1994*, co-authored by Mark Stokoe and (Fr.) Leonid Kishkovsky; all the pieces on oca.org authored by OCA archivist Alexis Liberovsky; all discussions of the American Metropolia/OCA-ROCOR relationship that appeared in any part of publications authored over the years by Fr. Thomas Hopko (such as his famous multi-colored paperback book set from the 1970s), Fr. John Erickson, Archbishop Peter (L'Huillier), and others. Without exception, the discussions are polemic, factually error-laden, and often outright hostile in tone. All this is not to say that ROCOR discussions of the American-Metropolia/OCA in its own histories, such as those of Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) and other references made to the OCA in other works published by other ROCOR-affiliated authors over the years have been less polemical (except in the years since the thaw between Moscow and ROCOC) and seemingly motivated by then-presentist concerns. For decades, there were obvious reasons for the especial hostility between representatives of what were essentially feuding brothers, as were OCA and ROCOR. But from a scholarly perspective this situation is inexcusable. It also makes it impossible to approach the future with a proper posture of openness if one stubbornly insists on misrepresenting the past. Why this historiographical mess? For one thing, not one of these people referred to above had a doctorate in history and thus, none of them was in a position to write proper, professional quality history. I say this again, because it is a dreadful truth when one considers the many years that have passed without an actual historian addressing this question: there was not a single, properly trained professional historian in the lot who put pen to paper. Not one. This is far more significant than we might wish to admit. The time for amateurism is over. Professional historical scholarship is needed... badly.
Someone with such credentials-- and, far more importantly, the historical training such credentials represent-- needs to go and do the hard work of sifting through archives in Syosset, New York City, Moscow, Belgrade, and other places and then will be revealed much that has been obscured about the intertwined history of ROCOR and the OCA. How can I claim to know that there is an obscured reality when I myself have not done this sort of work? Even reading the amateurish and polemic works that have appeared over the years makes it clear enough that facts are ignored with frightening regularity by each “side” when talking about the other such as to make “historical revisionism” an extremely apt phrase to describe the sorry state of affairs. Since this website is produced by a person affiliated by the OCA, who is also the co-author of one of the aforementioned offending books, I will refer primarily to OCA-affiliated publications below.
Rather than pen a lengthy citation of dry facts/incidents that themselves confound the simplistic polemics produced in these so-called histories over the years, let me just take one paragraph of yours, Fr. Michael, from your above posting, and explain in detail--using two thoroughly-explained examples-- the enormity of factual mistakes therein. Here is your paragraph in question:
“And while Soviet interference and Stalinist policies prevented this [American Metropolia] mission from maintaining administrative ties with its Mother Church, it never condemned nor broke communion with the Moscow Patriarchate, nor did it ever derive its canonical or administrative authority from the so-called Synod Abroad, even though some members of that group maintained that it had. The bishops of the Metropolia and later the OCA were appointed by Moscow, not the Synod Abroad, ordained and given their dioceses and their titles by the Church in Russia, from which it was forced to separate for purely political reasons. I think the book by the late Archbishop Gregory (Afonsky) clearly delineates and explains these painful developments in the life of the American Mission after 1917.”
Here are facts that create severe difficulties with your conclusion above. I offer them in two parts:
1) All four metropolitan districts of the emigre Russian Orthodox communities in existence after the Russian Revolution-- including the metropolia of America-- at some point[s] in time recognized the famous theologian Met. Antony (Krapovhitsky) of Kiev and Galicia as the temporary head of Russian Orthodox emigre communities in the early 1920s. This sometime-recognition kept appearing and vanishing off and on at least through 1926. Why did they ever do this? Because the idea for Antony's oversight came from directive of Patriarch-St. Tikhon [Bellavin] himself (Patriarchal Directive #362, issued in 1920). In ever choosing to recognize Metropolitan Antony's authority, they were only following the lead of the first among equals of the Orthodox world, the Patriarch of Constantinople, who provided temporary canonical hospitality to the temporarily-resident ROCOR bishops from Russia in Turkey in 1920. Had the Constantinopolitan patriarch thought the Russian emigre bishops under Antony were rogue bishops rather than true pastors legitimately given authority by their own Patriarch (Tikhon), he certainly would have demanded they submit to his local diocesan/patriarchal authority rather than let them run the affairs of the Russian Orthodox emigre flock in Constantinople themselves, as he did allow.
It is true that Patriarch Tikhon's directive #362 was later revoked in 1922 by a about-to-be arrested Patriarch Tikhon, but the fact that this was a revocation made under duress is pretty clear. If it were not, then one would have to also accept the similarly-coerced official deposition of Metropolitan Platon (Rozdestvensky) by the same Patriarch Tikhon in 1924 (which the Detroit Council of the Metropolia properly refused to accept as the legitimate wish of Patriarch Tikhon) Platon was actually summoned by Tikhon to Russia to be tried in ecclesiastical court. That this was a bogus decree forced by the Soviet authorities to advance the schism of the so-called "Living Church" in America is clear. Equally clear is the fact that the reversal by Patriarch Tikhon that same year of his own previous decree establishing the authority of the 34 emigre bishops abroad under Metropolitan Antony Krapovhitsky's leadership was coerced and fraudulent. Even the well-known Metropolitan Evlogy of Western Europe submitted to Metropolitan Antony's ROCOR synod. At one point, he sought out Metropolitan Antony for absolution after he himself publicly rejected the latter's prerogatives as chief representative of the Russian Orthodox Church outside the boundaries of the U.S.S.R. under the influence of Living Church renovationists in France. This absolution restored him to the authority of Metropolitan Antony (Evlogy subsequently separated himself again. But one must seriously ask why he *ever*, even for a moment, would have submitted himself to Met. Antony had the latter's claims been as outlandish as the pseudo-histories suggest. After all, Metropolitan Evolgy was not a fool).
-- Still, this is an argument that has long been made by ROCOR folks wanting to assert the Patriarch-St. Tikhon-derived origins of their administrative existence. While the fact that this has been a longstanding invocation doesn't make the facts any less true or valid, they are not liable to persuade people who have listened to this argument in the old "Cold War" days of the OCA and ROCOR. Surely Bishop Gregory (Afonsky), himself of Russian background, did not find the argument persuasive.
Let me, therefore, proceed to my second historical point. This one has not frequently been made, but it much more directly speaks against your claim, Fr. Oleksa, about ROCOR authority in the U.S.A. itself. This time, I will use specific secondary sources to make the case.
2) Several other of the Eastern Patriarchs treated Metropolitan Antony, and his successor Metropolitan Anastasy (Gribanovsky) as the authoritative leader over the various metropolitan districts. As but one example of how this relationship between the Eastern Patriarchs, the ROCOR, and the American Metropolia worked [on American soil], we find that Metropolitan Theophilus (Pashkovsky) himself appealed to Metropolitan Antony's successor, Metropolitan Anastasy as a senior authority when trying to avert a demand by the Patriarch of Antioch (Alexander III) that Metropolitan Anastasy depose three metropolia bishops for having dared to consecrate Bishop Samuel (David) as Syrian-Antiochian Bishop of Toledo, Ohio on very the same day (April 19, 1936) that ROCOR Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko) and the Antiochian Patriarchate's Metropolitan Theodosius of Tyre and Sidon co-consecrated Metropolitan Antony (Bashir) as a bishop under the omophorion of the Patriarchate of Antioch in St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY. Bashir had been elected to the Synod of Antioch for this purpose. It was a ROCOR bishop chosen by the Antiochian Patriarchate to co-consecrate its bishop with one of its own metropolitans, on American soil. The facts here speak for themselves, especially that the Patriarch Alexander implored Metropolitan Anastasy of ROCOR depose Metropolia bishops. In this case, we are talking about a non-Russian-affiliated, and thus-- non-”biased” Orthodox 'source' for the then-contemporary views: the Patriarchate of Antioch in 1934.
For another non-Russian, or Russian-American (and in this case, a non-Orthodox) source confirming the machinations involved at the time and what was seen as legitimate and what was not, see TIME magazine's short article Religion: Smart Syrian (May 4, 1936). This source makes clear who was seen as the most authoritative group on Amerian soil by the Patriarchate of Antioch.
Beyond those sources there is another source that can be consulted on these matters. Although this one doesn't mention the part about Anastasy being asked by Patriarch Alexander to depose the metropolia bishops, even Tarasar's Orthodox America says that the ROCOR Archishop Vitaly was acting with the full authority of Patriarch Alexander III of Antioch to co-consecrate Antony Bashir on American soil and that the metropolia bishops were clearly transgressing proprt church authority and order by their act of consecration (Tarasar and Erickson, eds, *Orthodox America*, p. 194-195).
This episode, aside from forcing away some historial amnesia, invites another question: Imagine the different turn American Orthodoxy would have taken had the charitable and kind Metrpolitan Anastasy not assuaged the Patriarch of Antioch's ire such that he was not forced to carry out the depositions. Why? Because two of the three American metropolia co-consecrators of the schismatic Samuel David (whose “Toledo schism” plagued the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America through 1975) were rather noteworthy figures: Leonty (Turkevich), Arseny (Chagovtsov).
Perhaps you don't believe my account of the events that Tarasar, et al, mention but plaster over. How about another source, then: Paul D. Garrett, the same Paul Garrett who authored the superb life of St. Innocent, Apostle to America in 1977? This is how Garrett described how Metropolitan Theophilus responded to the situation created by Metropolia Bishops Leonty, Arseny and Adam (Phillipovsky):
“The Primate of the Russian Church in America, Metropolitan Theophilus Pashkovskii, pleaded ignorance of their actions, which were in flagrant violation of the canons when confronted by an outraged Metropolitan Theodosius and Archbishop Antony first thing Monday morning. Theophilus first deferred to the Patriarch of Antioch, next called a synod in Pittsburgh to hear the offending bishops' explanations, then ultimately referred the matter to the bishops in Karlovci. The latter, receiving demands from the Patriarchate that Adam, Arsenii, and Leontii be defrocked for their deed, and feeling themselves so utterly overwhelmed by the forces dividing the Orthodox Russians in America into three warring camps, excommunicated Samuel David and ended their involvement with the "Syro-Arab Mission" by transferring it to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch.” (http://www.stsophiadstx.com/misc/bashir_full.htm)
Let us review Garret's arguments: Who exactly was it that “transferred” jurisdiction to the Syro-Arab mission to Antioch (meaning who had the authority to do so)? Who was approached by the Patriarchate of Antioch to defrock the American Metropolia bishops? To whom did Metropolitan Theophilius “refer” the matter?
What I have said above is not the whole story about the distortions sold as history for so long. In other words, Bishop Gregory (Afonsky's) and others' story of the marginal and ignored status of ROCOR in the U.S.A. during the periods of Metropolitans Antony and Anastasy's leadership is simply wrong. As a teaser for a future, serious researcher, how about this primary source tidbit: It can be found on pg. 407 of an American religious directory written by George Holmes Howison during the ROCOR episcopate of Metropolitan Anastasy (it's available on Google Books). The section the following information appears under in that book is “The Eastern Episcopate.” In this section, one finds this entry: “Rt. Rev. Bishop Theuphilos (Ionescu), Suffragen to Metropolitan Anastasy, 2480 John R. St. Detroit, 3, MI.”
In other words, as I said before; some facts, such as those about the Bashir/David consecrations, speak for themselves. Others, such as this cryptic account of a Romanian bishop in America listed as an auxiliary to Metropolitan Anastasy in an official American church directory, beg for someone to speak truthfully, and in a scholarly way, on their behalf.
In sum, I wish to point out that historical distortions-- intentional or unintentional-- serve no one and nothing good. It is possible that many decades of pseudo-history had been the product of people with the best of intentions. But enough is enough. The OCA-ROCOR Cold War is over. For the sake of the future (let alone the past), let no one reading this "take my word" for what I have discussed. No. DON'T take my word for it. Instead, let a professional historian, or better yet, several professional historians, do the dirty work, the archival dirty work, to bring the truth to light. Then we will be in a position to talk about the future with an honest light having been shed on the past.
(Editor's note: Fascinating stuff, and I thank you for sharing it all with us. Unfortunately, as any "real" historian will tell you, truth is not just a matter of more and more "facts". It is how one interprets those facts. To quote your own essay: " It is true that Patriarch Tikhon's directive #362 was later revoked in 1922 by a about-to-be arrested Patriarch Tikhon, but the fact that this was a revocation made under duress is pretty clear." Pretty clear to whom? The "fact" is that he made it. The Synod denies #362 as valid - even though the Patriarch made it. The OCA accepts it as valid - even though he was about to be arrested. The "fact" is not in question - it is how one interprets that "fact" that makes all the difference. No amount of "new" evidence is going to change how the "facts" of the day were interpreted then.
That being said I totally agree more work, fundamental work, is needed. Not for the purpose of jurisdiction-bashing, and one-up-manship, but for coming to ever greater clarity about the turmoil and troubles and decisions taken during horrible, confusing years. The differences between the OCA and ROCOR, like feuding brothers, is not about origins and rights; it is really about fundamental values in Church life, to which each assigns different importance. Can we agree to disagree and come together? Or, are our differences too profound for amity? That is a question to be discussed by the Committee currently empowered to hash it out. God bless them in this work, no matter what resolves or fails to resolve.
Here's what I think will happen: When I worked in SYNDESMOS, the Americans, often from 4-5 jurisdictions often quarrelled amongst themselves, and you could often hear one of youngsters say " He is so Greek", or "He is typically Russian", or "What do you expect, she's an Arab..." Yet, when they actually met Greeks, Russians and Arabs from the Old World, it was soooooooo obvious to even the youngesters that whatever our jurisidictional experiences and ethnic backgrounds, the Greeks, Russians, and Arabs saw us as "Americans" first of all. We too had the same experience in reverse - after meeting the others, whatever our jurisdictional differences, we recognized we were "American Orthodox" whether we had a previous consciousness of that or not. So too, I imagine, will occur with the OCA-ROCOR discussions. We will see major differences. Put the two of us in the same room with the Russians, and suddenly, we will be the "Americans", no matter how "Russian" some of us may want to be. That dawning consciousness can be the start of reconciliation, as we seek to find our way forward on this continent together. )
So too, I am guessing, will occur with the OCA and ROCOR. Whatever our Russian or Carpatho-Russian backgrounds, in the face of Russians, we shall discover we are mostly "American Orthodox
#15 Anon on 2010-09-01 00:29
Do not confuse Theophis Ionescu, the Romanian Bishop consecrated by ROCOR, with Metropolitan Theophilus Pashkovsky, of the Metropolia.
Fr Yousuf Rassam
#16 Fr Yousuf Rassam on 2010-09-01 08:55
Yes, what occured at the Consc. of Metropolitan Bashir is definitely correct. My Grandfather explained ALL that occured in 1936, Yes, Archp David was excommunicated but later the Synod of Damascus reinstated him. Alas for Met Antony 30years of anguish. Another example of far off Damascus intriques (money involved, you can be certain). What changes? Only a Unied Independent of foreign despots Orth. Church OF AMERICA will make the difference. Oh, how blind are the followers!
#17 Anonymous Priest Eastern D I O C E S E on 2010-09-01 10:19
Addendum ... I was informed by a neighbor Priest that Met. Antony Bashir ended up burying Archp ADAM as he was instructed so by Pat. of Moscow (classmate of the then Pat. of Antioch) asw a favor. No one else would do it. Not the Synodal or Metropolia. He stated he gave a very SHORT eulogy!
#18 Anonymous Priest (again) on 2010-09-01 10:23
Mark .... this may not be possible, but I sure wish there could be a limit on the length of some of these responses. A few paragraphs are fine, but some think this is time to re-write all of Orthodox history, and though their points may be worth-while considering, they are so overly taxing that I simply can't give them the consideration they deserve ... they are just TOO LONG!!!
#19 Sean O'Clare on 2010-09-01 12:58
The problem with these "selective" bits of history from ROCOR diehards, is that they are just that- selective. They very judiciously forget other documentation that places ROCOR in a "bad light." For example, in response to an appeal by Metropolitan Evolgy in the 1920's we have this statement from the Ecumenical patriarch:
"..the act of suspension against you, just like any other act of the so-called Episcopal Assembly Abroad, is canonically invalid because the very existence of this self-styled assembly as an administrative organ is without canonical foundation." This decision was also endorsed by the EP, Alexandeia, Greece and others. Check it out: Pospielovsky, D. 1984. "The Russian Church Under the Soviet Regime, 1917-1982" Volume 2, p. 258.
#20 Harold Greenleaf on 2010-09-01 15:21
Alas, I am afraid that part of your analysis of history is a bit biased, in favor a vision of Ortodoxy in America that never really existed. As much as we would like to think otherwise, the first Orthodox Churches in the mainland USA were not started with any attempt, at all, to spread Orthodoxy to America. Both the Greek Church in New Orleans and the Russian Church in San Francisco were started merely and only to serve the ethnic communities that already existed in those locales. I would love to say that these were missions to the American people, but they were not. They were missions to ethnic communities. I would suggest that this was the case with virtually all early communities in the lower 48. That some converts found Orthodoxy is of little credit to those early churches. As always, converts, including myself, have had to find Orthodoxy, by climbing over walls and barging through doors. Orthodoxy never reached out to us ... we reached out to Orthdoxy.
(Editor's note: Alas, this is experience of many. But you are half wrong in your historical assertion. The Russian Church in San Francisco was, as of 1874, specifically designed to be the headquarters of a "missionary diocese" to America. In 1870 Bishop John Mitropolsky proposed to move the diocesan headquarters of the Diocese of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands from Sitka to SF so as to 1) to be closer to the US military authorities in the Presidio, who actually ran Alaska and 2) to establish a "missionary outreach" to the United States, now that the Russian Church was in this country. The Synod, of whom St. Innocent of Alaska as Metropolitan of Moscow was a member, (no missionary slouch himself) agreed. Hence the move in 1874. The OCA may not have always been able to fully put into practice its vision - but that does not mean the intent was not there.)
#21 Sean O'Clare on 2010-09-01 18:34
I am sorry to say your experience is wrong.R.O.C.O.R. was always in communion with the Serbian Church,the Serbian Church was always in communion with ALL the Orthodox Churches in the world and therefore R.O.C.O.R. was indirectly in communion with world Orthod
oxy wether they saw it that way I can not say.
(editor's note: Ahh, Father, that would suggest that ROCOR was in communion with the Russian ORthodox Church from 1922-1992, which was distinctly not the case. I think you can say the Serbian church was in communion with ROCOR, and with the rest of Orthodoxy, but beyond that its pretty sticky.)
#22 V.Rev.Dragan Filipovic on 2010-09-01 19:08
I was looking again at the new resolution signed by the Synod in Damascus. Most of the names were signed in Arabic. How do we know the signatures are those of people who were authorized to sign? Unless we read the language, many of us won't know.
The proper thing to do was to type each of the names of the Synod with a line above for them to sign on. Then at least we know the names and have an idea of who signed. It's possible, given the track record of the past, that anyone could have signed their names, anyone else who was in Damascus at the time of the meetings, and yet, not a member of the Synod and therefore not authorized to sign.
Someone should look into this and make sure the document is truly legal with the proper signatures.
(Editor's note: No one has suggested the document is not authentic. )
Mark- Sean O'Clare is right on. Perhaps we can also limit the discussion of Mr. Kirwan, disgusted priest and such. They only attempt to do damage and discredit the progress our archdiocese has made. Perhaps you can ban them the way the administrator at theantiochian.com did. that would be great!!
#24 Anonymous on 2010-09-02 10:47
Limiting free speech is not something we normally do in America.
In Syria, I'm sure this is normal, so head out.
#25 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-09-02 18:52
I'm not hinting that it's not an authentic document. I'm just saying it's confusing because of the Arabic signatures. Other people were in Damascus, whether they attended the meeting or not. These people know how to write in Arabic - so it's possible that they were allowed to sign, even though they are not part of the Synod.
Bishop JOSEPH was invited to attend the meeting. Did he sign the document? Can't tell - but if he did, that means he had a part in all of this. It also means that he signed something he should not have signed, as he is not a member of the Synod. The proper names typed and signed would at least clear up this part of the mess we are in again.
Be not too prideful now. I know Episcopalian communities that "wash feet" far more and far better than we do, even while blessing dogs, out of love for all of God's creation -- as we, sadly, wash none, much to our shame, as we sit on our canons and argue ancient orders of precedence and prestige. Jesus advised caution: "I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit" (Matthew 21:43). Ancient pedigree and purity ain't much use without acting on his gospel.
#27 Gregory on 2010-09-02 20:32
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