Tuesday, August 31. 2010
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"Truly God is good to Israel,
To such as are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
My steps had nearly slipped...
When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
If I had said, ďI will speak thus,Ē
Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.
When I thought how to understand this,
It was too painful for meó
Until I went into the sanctuary of God..."
This was all very unsettling to me - prior to Liturgy this Sunday. The Lord is my helper; what can man do to me?
#1 Brian Van Sickle on 2010-08-31 10:57
I think this is an insightful and clear article and one that strikes at the heart of the current situation, wherein many clergy and laity feel as if they have been put awy into a "mental hospital". It's pretty shocking language, but then again, it's straight forward and an honest opinion.
I sense that the words "kow tow and retract" sort of fit the entire mood. The clergy and laity of the Antiochian Archidocese are supposed to do exactly that. For those who agree Met. Philip, they are left wondering "what's the problem"? For those who might disagree, it's the demand to "kow tow and retract" that iritates the most.
I've often heard of the United States that "Intelligent people can disagree and still be friends". This is the heart of who we are as Americans. Unfortunately, there are those who are steeped in a foreign tradition wherein people are supposed to "kow tow and retract" to the powers-that-be, and those people have no clear understanding of an American mindset. It might not even be a 'bad thing' ... it might just be different.
But, here we are in America, with an American mindset, as I have, being a convert, but I have to constantly deal with the powers-that-be here in Orthodoxy who have no recognition of what it means to be an American, culturally, or to deal within an American ethos. Hence, we are bound to rub each other the wrong way, and if it isn't straightened out, we are bound to all end up in the mental hospital of failed evangelization and faith.
#2 Sean O'Clare on 2010-08-31 13:01
I think people are trying to figure out where their own personal "line in the sand" is on these issues. My experience in my contact with other clergy is that what some may consider to be "waffling" is actually more about clerics looking at themselves, their faith, their loyalties (including those to the people they serve) and yes, their careers as they discern what to do and where to take a stand. The gap between various events and the response has been interpreted by some, perhaps many, as a kind of cowardice but before people simply go after their Priests it might be good to consider how you would respond if the collar, and all its responsibilities, were yours.
Suffice it to say there are more clerics then you probably realize who are very aware of what is going on, communicating with each other, and seeking God's will in all of these things. We didn't get to this place quickly and we probably won't get out of it with any speed as well and we still have to behave, regardless of what others are doing, as Priests along the way.
Please pray for us, we see, we know, we understand, and we, despite our American penchant for immediate gratification, are working our way through all of this more than you probably know.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Paul, MN
Thank you, Father!
#4 antionymous on 2010-08-31 17:56
Most are encouraged to hold still as our Leader has spoken, withe aid of the far off Damascus Synod. As I've read here so many times before, we needed in the USA/Canada a Boston Tea Party LONG. LONG AGO. Speak of "standing up" to true Orth. Ecclesiology and then see what your position in the "mental ward" is?
#5 Anonymous Priest on 2010-08-31 22:28
Fr. Oliver is to be commended for his courageous stand at last yearís Antiochian national convention. The treatment he received by some vile laypeople, priests and a bishop were a disgrace and black eye to the entire archdiocese.
That said, fortunately Fr. Oliver had an escape hatch since he was on loan from the OCA. The same cannot be said for other clergy, including bishops.
All are subject to harsh treatment from a wounded, discredited yet ruling despot.
Baring only a very large uprising, anyone standing up in opposition to the farcical actions of the synod of Antioch will be dealt with in a ruthless manner. To sacrifice ones priesthood or episcopate means to deprive a large number of people from quality ministry. Clearly the despot will replace the deposed with his loyalists who exercise a ministry that has as its main objective channeling money and glory to the primate, his co-conspirators and the old country.
The following are responses that could have an affect on the unorthodox action taken by +Philip and Damascus. Clergy should retire or seek refuge elsewhere. Priests who are unable to escape should speak with solidarity (+Philip canít fire everyone). Laypeople need to stop all financial support that can be translated to Englewood or seek asylum in another Orthodox parish.
Obviously the only language Englewood and Damascus understand is money.
#6 Disgusted priest on 2010-09-01 06:36
AMEN! So true and inform a 40yr old Priest with 3 children that it's time to speak OUT. The Met. has been a true DESPOTA for too long. Finally got his way. God help the real three Bishops living with a purely ceremonial existence, All goes to Englewood for approval. The Detroit group and Bergenfield contingent should be happy!?
Hear Peter Dacaleis, AOCNA asst comptroller has retired. Guess the books have been cleaned up as we hear nothing of the AUDIT! Pay and Obey and many have stopped. Poor St Ignatius dues being collected now and blame it on the economy? Not so! Yes you can fool some of the people .........
#7 Anonymous on 2010-09-01 09:57
As a point of clerification PEter decales have been wanting to retire for a few years now. IT was not till they found a replacement that the MEtropolitan accepted his retirement, however PEter is still consulting in the interm period.
This has nothing to due with the audit Committee. There are two seperate issues here. The Audit Committee will eb submitting its report in OCt.
#8 Anonymous on 2010-09-01 11:10
I assume you are in the Antiochian Archdiocese. You say, "Laypeople need to stop all financial support that can be translated to Englewood or seek asylum in another Orthodox parish". But doesn't that include every offering dropped in the basket on Sunday? How does the layperson delineate what is to go to the mortgage, electricity, priests salary, etc but with nothing going to Englewood? Doesn't the archdiocese get the cut regardless of the amount collected?
#9 Anonymous on 2010-09-01 13:50
Think outside the box. Have the budget decrease to near zero and go back to having patrons step forward for individual expenses. Father needs his check for the month? Oh, lookie here! Five people have stepped forward to cover it. He can still put it on his taxes and he makes his bills. What about that utility bill for the parish, the electric one? Oh, look, the Jones' stepped up and covered. Thank God for such people because our budget is $500/month. Tithing has really dropped off. Yeah, MP can still live off the millions he has saved and taken from his cronies, but this parish is not complicit. Ramifications? Sure, but Fr. X could say, in good faith, "the people have quit giving. What more can I do?"
Or, approach a bishop of another jurisdiction and seek entrance, allowing MP to keep your empty building. Let him have it. He could dedicate it as a museum to himself or his favorite saint or Syrian political movement or just sell it for the money. His call.
#10 A Midwest Observer on 2010-09-01 14:16
Not if you write on your offering checks "none of this contribution is to be sent to the Archdiocese." By law, designated gifts must be used in the manner designated. If your parish sends a tithe or other fraction of all collections to Englewood, the "cut" cannot include any monies so designated.
#11 JPS on 2010-09-01 17:00
Everyone keeps asking how to keep money from flowing to Englewood without harming one's parish.
One answer is donor restrictions - a simple letter included with the tithe/offering specifically stating what the donation can and/or cannot be used for. Donor restrictions are legally binding on a parish. Accepting a donation subject to donor restrictions legally obligates the parish to honor the restriction(s). Failure to do so subjects the parish to suit.
Donor restriction letters that forbid any funds to be used in support the Archdiocese must be saved by the parish treasurer for documentation and deducted on Line 7 of the Worksheet for Calculating Parish Contribution with copies attached in support of the deduction. Due to the need for appropriate documentation, donor restrictions may not be anonymous.
Donor restrictions allow parishioners to maintain good conscience in their stewardship (if such is his or her conviction), and they actually help the parish financially by increasing the amount of funds available for parish use.
Parishes are not obligated to accept donor restricted funds, but once the parish accepts the funds it is obligated to direct them according to the wishes of the donor.
The laity have great freedom and great responsibility yet very little voice in the conciliar process other than our stewardship. We are free to stand up and be counted in this way if we choose. Many have rightly said that actions such as these will have little, if any, impact. Personally, I care far less about impact that I do about maintaining a good conscience before God. I freely confess that it makes me very uncomfortable to decide how money that I never considered my own is allocated. But let those who criticize understand that none of this would ever have been considered if an atmosphere of trust had been fostered and maintained.
Our priests, on the other hand, have great responsibility for our care; but many have precious little freedom to speak and to act according to their consciences without placing their families and their flocks at risk. Pray for your priest! Pray that our gracious God who rules in the affairs of men grant him wisdom, discretion, courage, and protection.
#12 Brian Van Sickle on 2010-09-01 20:02
Local parishioners could set up a non-profit auxiliary (wouldnít that be poetic justice) organization whose purpose would be spiritual, philanthropic and cultural. They could pay bills and sponsor charitable efforts. Much like the FROC (Federation of Russian Orthodox Clubs) that exist in many OCA parishes and contribute to the well being of the local church. Perhaps some may wish to call it AAFO (American Antiochian Fraternal Organization).
(Editor's note: FROC ceased being Russian clubs years ago. It is now called FOCA - the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America. They are meeting this weekend in Pittsburgh.)
#13 Disgusted priest on 2010-09-02 06:49
I understand your frustrations!
I do not disagree that some money from the archdiocese goes to the Middle east. However the archdiocese and The ORder funds various programs that goes for good causes; most of the funds that goes to the Middle east are funded by individuals not the Archdiocese budget.
If you want to cut what your parish sends the archdiocese, I ahve one thing to say then, how about your PArish cuts its riest salary since he have too much time since he is posting blogs on the Internet about the Church.
#14 Anonymous on 2010-09-02 09:01
Since we have no external audit and no way of knowing where our funds to Englewood (beit general fund or Order of St. Ignatius), we cannot be sure as you say, that funds are being put to good use. I cannot take the word of an anonymous poster on the internet that they are.
My priest however is still visiting the sick and leading our celebration of the Eucharist. Thus I have increased my gifts to him in proportion to the amount I stopped allowing to be sent to Englewood.
Also, my hardworking diocesan bishop (still awaiting on a spiritual court to say that he has been dethroned) drives himself in an old car (he has no staff to drive him) and visits us a few times every year and bolsters us with his love and prayers. Thus I have begun to send him support.
#15 antionymous on 2010-09-02 13:13
I have no disagreement with your first paragraph. Nor do I object to funds going to the Middle East. There are undoubtedly many genuine needs in that region that are worthy of our financial assistance.
I repeat that this is an issue of trust. The loss of my trust occurred when:
1,) It was discovered that the archdiocese was secretly sending funds to another archdiocese in support of a bishop (a man whom I DEARLY love, by the way) who was serving in a pastoral capacity in violation of his local synod's prohibition - a prohibition that was canonical both in letter and spirit, Scriptural, and in every other sense obviously correct.
2.) A duly seconded motion to remedy the above tragedy was unilaterally dismissed with the words, "I don't want to do it."
3.) The suspicion that understandably arose from the above incidents in conjunction with the refusal to agree to an external audit.
4.) The refusal to remove a convicted felon from the archdiocesan board in spite of a duly enacted resolution requiring it.
These are but a small number of violations of trust that are undeniable matters of public record. There are many others that are rumored, and anyone with proof of them is free to add to the list, but these are things I know to be true.
I am obligated to respect the office, and I am obligated to obey to the degree the office requires. I am also obligated to pray for Orthodox bishops, and indeed I do. But I am not obligated to trust those who betray their trust, nor am I obligated to fund their misdeeds.
Do me and everyone else a huge favor. Do what it takes to restore our trust, so we can once again cry Axios! So we can once again not have to think twice before giving. Allow our prayers for "godly and Orthodox bishops" to be heard. Remove the mistrust and suspicion by telling us the truth - even if it reflects poorly. We are ready to forgive. We are ready to have this ugliness and dysfunction purged from our midst.
Lord, have mercy on us all.
#16 Brian Van Sickle on 2010-09-02 18:12
The Order of St. Ignatius is made up mostly of common good intentioned faithful. Indeed good programs are funded by the order. But not always without strings attached. That being said, unfortunately the order has been dominated at the top for decades by millionaires who buy +Philipís favor. Some of the most arrogant spiritually challenged individuals you could meet are such favored members. You can make disrespectful remarks to non-favored bishops and priests if you have enough money. You can do anything, including breaking moral, ethical and civil law if you have enough money. Do you see a pattern? Donít contribute to corruption.
Nice suggestion to cut the priestís salary. Most go to school for 7 years and make less than other professions with comparable education. More than a few non favored priests are abused and undercompensated by power hungry and often well to do laity and you want to further reduce the priestís salary because some post on the internet. Never mind that the priest is on call 24 Ė 7. Never mind that many priest wives work to compensate for their husbands lack of income and quality benefits. Never mind that priest families constantly take a back seat to the needs of parishioners. To make assertions to reduce priestís salaries one must either be clueless or worse, one of +Philipís brainwashed minions.
Stop supporting anything controlled by Englewood.
#17 Disgusted priest on 2010-09-02 18:53
Father, since you work only on Sunday, you could get a job on the other 6 days a week?
#18 antionymous on 2010-09-03 08:59
For the record, I was not 'encouraged to hold still as our Leader has spoken.' My priest arrived from a mission trip just in time for him to get to Liturgy. He knew nothing of this decision...until I informed him.
#19 Brian Van Sickle on 2010-09-03 18:20
Gosh I hope that smiley-face emoticon is winking. Can't make it out too clearly here.
#20 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2010-09-04 07:59
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