Friday, September 17. 2010
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Well, DUH! Since 1970, Frs. Schmemann & Meyendorff worked diligently to get all the churches in N. Am. join the OCA. Read the OCA Newspaper from 1970 until Fr. Meyendorff's death. His comments imploring all hierarchs to realize that joining the OCA was the resolve ALL American churches were looking for. + Philip refused to listen to those who taught him and reneged. + Iakavos who knew Schmemann was right, did nothing. Fastforward to today, "Black Bart" is riding up on his horse to give unity & peace to all N. Am. Don't believe it for one minute! We don't believe in an Eastern Pope and foreign bishops have no authority over territory outside their immediate territory. The Orthodox of N. Am. must unite in their own church and rule over their people. There is no hope in Istanbul, Moscow or other foreign lands - only enslavement!
#1 Anonymous on 2010-09-17 06:25
Fr. Ted's reflection regarding the Autocephaly of the OCA is true but I would like to point one unfortunate fact of history. When the Metropolia approached Moscow for the Autocephaly there wasn't any buy-in from the other two major jurisdictions in America, namely the Greek Archdiocese and the Antiochian Archdiocese. This has always been the crux of the stumbling block and it may ultimately be the demise of the Autocephaly.
Back in the early 1970's the Metropolia could have joined with the Antiochian Archdiocese or the Greek Archdiocese if they didn't want to be under Moscow. Instead they chose the path of declaring themselves THE Orthodox Church in America. And by doing this they usurped the self rule of America for all other jurisdictions. Essentially they left their brother and sister churches on their own. You wouldn't leave your own family members stranded at the airport but that's essentially what the Metropolia did. I understand that they didn't want to come along, but this should have been an indication that the timing simply wasn't right, that more work, more negotiation was necessary, before getting on the plane to Moscow.
My words may sound like a punch in the gut to many in the OCA because they have been filled with the Autocephaly since 1972 but I think it's time we talk turkey and get these painful facts on the table. Why didn't the Metropolia join with the Greeks or Arabs? Very simply, they didn't want to be Greeks or Arabs. But what they fail to see is that what they were asking the Greeks and Arabs to do in 1972 was to become Russians, which they too were unwilling to do.
I wasn't at the negotiating table in the early 1970's, but it seems that it would have been much better if the Metropolia had delayed its request for Autocephaly until it had reached some accord with the Greeks and Arabs. If they had worked out some sort of interim administration, working committees, etc. we wouldn't now be playing a game of catch up.
Another point I would like to make is that it is patently unfair to continue to proclaim, as many in the OCA do (including their hierarchs), that they are the voice, vision, future, (insert cliche here), of America. They continually dismiss any possibility of the fact that anyone but those in the OCA are actually ministering to America. I think many in the OCA. would be shocked to learn that most parishes in the Antiochian Archdiocese are English speaking and frankly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars building up the churches in America and ministering to Americans.
This shouldn't be about who was here first or who got the paperwork from the mother church first. It isn't about whose jurisdiction is more American or whose jurisdiction can trace their lineage to the first Orthodox footsteps in America. We need to come together as Orthodox Christians first and work out the best plan for all Orthodox Christians. Frankly, it's my dream that the clergy of the various jurisdictions admit that there have been flaws for many years and just sit down and talk to one another. That might be a good starting place.
(Editor's note: Talking is good. But I am afraid your "punch in the gut" is nothing more than flailing in the air. Your are right that the OCA did not want to forced to become Greek or Arab, which would have happened had they joined either jurisdiction. (Overlooking completely the fact that jurisdictions are the problem, not the solution...). But you are totally wrong is saying that the OCA would have made Greeks and Arabs into Russians! LOL. Did the OCA make the Romanians into Russians? I think not. Or the Albanians into Russians? Or the Bulgarians into Russians? Hell, the OCA couldn't even make the OCA into Russians! The fact, not the fear, is that the OCA has made no one into anything ethnically, they did not want to be. Least of all the OCA itself, which is hardly Russian, and if many posters on this site are to be believed, way too American for many! ROTFL....
If you are going to bash the OCA as the problem, rather than the solution, find a real problem. Then let's talk some more. Otherwise, don't drag those of us who have a solution, imperfect as it may be, into the problems so many are now experiencing, yet again. As the saying goes: "Been there, done that, no need to repeat the mistake." The solution to Orthodox America's woes is to let us solve them, rather than have solutions imposed from outside ( ala Chambesy) for the benefit not of Orthodox America, but foreign Patriarchs and the foreign and domestic policies of other nations. I am all for supporting ancient and foreign Patriarchs in their times of troubles, but God knows I have done enough of that in the past thirty years to be able to see that the best way to do that is a free, autocephalous, united, diverse Orthodox Church in North America. Anything less would be letting them down in the long run. And we Orthodox are to have the long perspective, right?
#2 Anon. on 2010-09-17 06:48
First let me state that I have always been a parishioner within the OCA. Years ago, a Greek Orthodox priest (in the early 70's) said to me, and I am paraphrasing because I can't recall the exact quote...what really angers the Greek Orthodox is the name the Metropolia chose "Orthodox Church in America," we Greeks are also Orthodox in America. ... I don't believe he, as a Greek Orthodox had a problem with the Metropolia receiving their autocephaly status, but the "assumption that the OCA received their autocephaly on behalf of all Orthodox Christians who reside in America." I, as an Orthodox Christian who is a member of the OCA do not agree with this Greek Orthodox priest, but do understand his position. Fr. Bobosh reflection seems to reinforce the anger of other Orthodox jurisdictions. I believe Greek Orthodox Americans, as well as the Antiochian Orthodox Americans want an authocephaly status granted to their jurisdiction here in America. Their "Mother Churches" are not willing to grant their requests (which were voted upon at their "conventions," and "assemblies" here in the US in prior years). I do not think "unity" among the jurisdictions for a single administrative body will take place while these viewpoints are held. The Mother Churches have to grant or these Orthodox Churches have to take their autocephaly first, before a single administrative body will be actualized. I personally believe, a "grassroots effort of acting like a unified body of Christ" where there are several Orthodox parishes within one locality--any metropollitan city in the US. Specifically, doing charity work together for example a food bank for their locality. Doing work such as this would illuminate the Orthodox Church and make it recognizable and visible to all whether they are Orthodox Christians or not. In the meantime, the OCA has to be itself and its best self.
#3 anonymous on 2010-09-17 07:32
So what do the Episcopal Assemblies have to offer? Nothing. What will be accomplished at the Great, Greek Universal Council of 2013? An endorsement of Greek/Russian domination of Orthodoxy worldwide? Will we coronate + Bart as our Pope?
Orthodox People of North America WAKE UP! The void in leadership in America is allowing foreign bishops to divide and conquer. The only hope for Orthodoxy in America is to unite under one church, one banner, one authority without foreign bishops. What the Episcopal Assemblies and Great Greek Council of 2013 offers is unity under foreign bishops. Why is everyone so blind?
#4 Anonymous on 2010-09-17 07:49
A clarification for #2 & #3 is necessary. In the early minutes of SCOBA in 1961-2, ALL the hierarchs not only decided to work together, but work toward a united, autocephalous American Church which would be called, "The Orthodox Church in America." Please contact Fr. Schnierla (Sec. of SCOBA) for this info.) It wasn't the Metropolia which decided OCA or autocephaly, but ALL the hierarchs within SCOBA. The Metropolia went to Constantinople for autocephaly and were told, "Go to your Mother Church and get it." (Never thinking Communist ROC would comply) However, the Metropolia did obtain autocephaly in 1970, as told to do by Constantinople, and presented what SCOBA asked for. Both + Philip and + Iakavos reneged citing every imaginable excuse possible.
So both #2 & #3, you are WRONG! Frs. Schmemann & Meyendorff gave SCOBA, ALL the Orthodox hierarchs what they asked for and they reneged. Fastforward to today and we have this mess. The Greeks are not the answer. The Russians are not the answer. The answer is before all of the Orthodox in North america in the OCA and the hierarchs are still blind. It is reminiscent of the Jews rejecting Christ!
#5 Anonymous on 2010-09-17 08:05
In addition to the good editor's comments, I would like to point out that part of what is at play is "how" to get a united, American Orthodox Church. One way is to wait until every single jurisdiction is ready to come together. Perhaps, with the Episcopal Assembly, that might happen. Another is incremental unity, which is what the OCA has allowed and still allows. As long as there is an OCA, incremental unity is always possible. Although it is no secret that I do not think the OCA's autocephaly should be based on a historical myth (esp. a pre-Revolutionary historical myth), the tomos is the tomos and the OCA does offer a vision for unity. It is not the only vision and might not end up being the successful one, but it is a legitimate vision and I think if you read the editor's comments, you'll see that despite the overgeneralizing rhetoric of some (and I grant this to be the case) the OCA really would like to see an American Orthodox Church for all.
I respectfully request that you go back to the archives of the former Metropolia in 1972 and look carefully at the documents. If you feel so inclined, please call the archivist for the Orthodox Church in America and ask him what language was used up until 1972 on many if not most of the official documents of the OCA. I think you will find that it wasn't English. You of all people who worked at the chancery and worked on a short history of the OCA would know that Russian was the predominant language amongst the hierarchs until the autocephaly.
I'm not bashing the OCA, I'm just not going to rewrite history to make it fit neatly into the OCA's version. For the record, the OCA/Metropolia is part of my family history too and it does no one any good to demean other jurisdictions. These expressions like "the Greeks and Arabs didn't want to come along" ( a common euphemism amongst OCA supporters) are oversimplistic. How many people in the OCA even recall the term Metropolia?
Just as ROCOR and the OCA are working towards a meeting to look at their relationships together, perhaps we should also work towards meetings/conferences on the subject of who and what it means to be Orthodox Christians in America from the perspectives of all of the Orthodox jurisdictions in America.
(Editor's note: I am afraid I might find such a meeting fascinating - but depressing as well. But it might be a start. Talking is good.
That some of the OCA bishops, but not even the majority in 1972, spoke Russian is not the point though. No one was ever suggesting they weren't Russian, or rather, Carptho-Russian: the point was that they never insisted on Russification of anybody. ("cept the Ukrainians in Canada in the teens and twenties! But that was long ago, and in a different country...) Seriously, the OCA has proposed any multitude of arrangements - the latest being that bishops in America could sit on both Synods, the autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America, and whatever old country one they wanted, assuming any old country patriarchate would allow any americans to sit on their Synods. ( One token might be fine, but more? Don't hold your breath on that one!) No, complaining about the past is unhelpful when confronting the unplesantness of the present and the realities of the future. I sit now with a copy of OUTREACH magazine, which a friend handed me, which lists the 100 largest congregations in America. The membership of these 100 congregations is greater than the entire membership of all the Orthodox jurisdictions in America, if Krinditch's numbers are accurate - and they are. The top five churches each have individual memberships bigger than the entire paying membership of the OCA; let's not even talk about the AOCNA, or the smaller ones. There is not an OCA diocese that has as many members as any one of the top 100 churches - nor the AOCNA, cept' maybe the Midwest, and its close. ( Since the Greek Archdiocese no longer has any official members, as per their offerings to the Court, we won't discuss them. ) But that is the reality - or rather unreality of this discussion. Everyone is worried who is sitting at the head of the table, when people are leaving the table, eating elswhere, or abstaining altogether. Hello? Will forced unity among anybody united us, or inspire us? No! It has to come willingly, and be freely chosen by us - not imposed if it is to bear fruit in this society, in this place, at this time. Otherwise, Orthodoxy is just an exotic immigrant church, and always will be, unto the ages of ages.
How sad and tragic that would be. And how disappointing to our Lord.)
#7 Anon. on 2010-09-17 09:22
Those who equate the New World churches with "youth and immaturity" and the Old World churches with "age and maturity" -- with the conclusion that the New World churches are therefore something lesser, and thus in need of control by the Old World churches -- forget one important thing: age is no guarantor of maturity; it can also be marked by debility and senility.
Some of the oldest churches in the world -- Antioch, Constantinople and Jerusalem -- are shrinking, not growing; becoming feebler, not stronger, with extinction a constant worry and distinct possibility. What's more, "age and maturity" have not prevented the churches of Greece, Romania, Russia, Serbia and others from falling into some pretty serious internal scandals, moral compromises and questionable practices, contrary to the letter and the spirit of Jesus Christ’s gospel, that made for embarrassing headlines over the past decade. Humility and repentance are in order just as much for elders as they are for youngsters.
After a lifetime of being told that the fullness of the Church is present anywhere a bishop gathers with his presbyters, deacons, subdeacons, readers and laypeople at the eucharistic table, I am now being told something different: even if that eucharistic assembly exists here, a church outside the Old World is only really "church" if it is subordinate to another older church elsewhere, overseas, in the Old World. This, of course, is the reduction of churchliness and canonicity to "subordinationism," which Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann soundly decried as unorthodox -- an ecclesiology that has far more in common with Roman Catholic thinking than genuine Orthodox Christian tradition.
One yearns to hear from the "Chambesy process" a word about the Church's identity as the body of Christ and how embodying his presence on territories old and new, to perpetuate his saving work in a fallen, broken and hurting world, is to be accomplished. Alas and alack, the conversation thus far has focused on who comes first and who remains in control, despite what Jesus said in Matthew 20:25-28. Some bishops have even refused to talk to or sit with other bishops -- while the Christ they profess to serve had no problem sharing his table with tax collectors, harlots and sinners! And a great many Orthodox Christians have not even been included in the conversation from the start, suggesting there is "first-class citizenship"and "second-class citizenship" in the Church -- another unorthodox and uncharitable notion. What’s the harm in hearing the voices of all?
All this hubris and hubbub, while Orthodox Christian tradition offers a simple solution: "Let the order of things ecclesiastical follow the civil and public models" (Canon 38 of the Quinisext Council). In other words, simply organize the Church according to the political and governmental boundaries of the world as it exists now, not as it existed 500 or 1,000 years ago. Let the Church in each country in existence today, wherever there are enough Orthodox Christian bishops to perpetuate apostolic succession, organize itself, regulate its own life, elect its own head and direct its own mission, in an autocephaly within the family of local churches worldwide, regardless of their youth or age.
#8 Gregory on 2010-09-17 11:05
I think you hit the nail on the head Mark. It is a tragedy that the potential of the Othodox Church of Christ in North America to execute the mission that our Lord Jesus Christ has given to us all has not been realized largely due to our jurisdictional disunity. I can not see how a solution, other than what Met. Jonah has articulated several times, can be viable. Perhaps the EA will come up with something new that is workable, but until they do the OCA's combination of geographical and ethnic diocese is a good start. Perhaps since the OCA has truly began to clean up its own house, the Holy Spirit will bless its efforts toward unity and mission in ways not possible before.
#9 Marc Trolinger on 2010-09-17 11:06
My! The commentary on the web about Orthodox Christian life gets more interesting everyday. It seems very little of the 'Faith' enters into much of the discussions! Since Constantine stopped the persecutions (by the Romans - others, including Christians have continued them) human politics has become the norm and we no longer follow Christ's kingdom that is not of this world. Some random comments:
Eparchy, diocese, archdiocese, bishoprics, archbishoprics, regions, auxiliaries, titulars, what all - when ones browses the internet, one should think that there would be some consistency in the use of the terms, if not in meaning, especially on the sites of the various 'mother' churches. Often as not on any specific site many of these terms are used variously, even interchangeably. For us non-canonists much of the present arguments are just tempests in a tea kettle. Just legal splitting hairs to cover our human wants.
Who's running the ship? In the hierarchy of territorial responsibilities maybe a look at another hierarchy may be useful. In most navies understanding the relationship between captain and admiral might be useful how that hierarchy works. The captain is responsible for his ship and how well it is run. The admiral, on the ship, is responsible for how the fleet of ships under him is maneuvered. The twain don't mix. The captain doesn't tell the admiral how to maneuver the ships, and the admiral doesn't tell the captain how he runs the crew on the ship, only where the ship should be. If the captain can't properly run the crew and ship, the "council" of seniors can take action to relieve the captain. If the admiral doesn't handle the maneuvering of the fleet properly, again, the 'council' of seniors will relieve the admiral. I had thought that the hierarchy of the church performed similarly! Not as dictators!
The spread of the Gospel. The Scripture, notably the New Testament, describes the spread of the Gospel by missionaries, first the Apostles and their helpers, and later by missionaries among whom the most notable are recognized as saints with a label of "Apostle to". Even after the secular royalty largely took over commanding conversion, it was the missionaries who went into new territories. In the New World there are no rulers, yet, to command conversion. Now for the last century or so missionary work to the indigenous population has taken second fiddle, while ruling the expatriates, the foreigners, has become the custom. No longer are we spreading the Gospel, but only ruling over the wandering flock and forgetting about the indigenous sheep. Maybe the indigenous flock should organize itself and treat the expatriates (diaspora) like the foreigners they are, and let them have their representation churches. Perhaps the indigenous Americans, Canadians, Aussies, etc. might consider serving "their" expatriates, setting up their churches in diaspora! Imagine, an Aussie church in Athens, an American church in Istanbul, a Canadian church in Moscow!! Oh, the Americans/Canadians do have one in Moscow!
Language. In all these discussions the past several months whenever a concern arises about middle east languages, my thoughts go back several decades to a conversation I had with my father about a meeting he attended in Santa Ana, California during the early 1960s. Meeting was of a group that were asking the blessing of Metropolitan Antony Bashir to begin a parish in Santa Ana. (At the time I don't think there were any Orthodox parishes or missions in all of Orange County.) My dad related that during the meeting the question arose of using English during the services. To this he said that the Metropolitan remarked that he didn't have any problem with using English - then he went on to comment that Arabic was not 'our' native language anyway! It was obvious that the Metropolitan had a fine sense of history, history of the ancient Church of Antioch, and mission. By the way, that proposed parish is now St. Luke's Church in Garden Grove. And, for all of us, after two thousand years of Christ's Church how many of us really speak and know any of our 'old' languages?
#10 William Kosar on 2010-09-17 16:12
This is one of most refreshingly original tacks on the whole controversy I have seen.
Here is the assertion that Autocephaly belongs to all and has, by the appropriate authority, been given to all and has just not yet been embraced by all our American Orthodox brothers and sisters.
Coupled with the stinging and well documented indictment of the concept of a Mother Church, we in America are left wondering why we aren't considered the local realization of the Church of God. Well, in fact, the vast majority of Orthodox on the planet (The Russian Church et aliis) accept us as such already.
And so maybe we already are. I've expressed concerns in this forum about Moscow's commitment to American Autocephaly. But since then Moscow has confirmed their commitment to it with clarity. I have no right to doubt that.
The piece of this argument that is the most compelling is the fact that "where the Bishop is, there let the people be." (St. Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnaeans . This is basic ecclesiology.
The jurisdictional scandal here in America is not our crisis.
The old world who do not recognize and share unity with an independent Orthodox Church in America are the ones in a perilous state. For they are the ones who violate the sacred canons, not us.
We simply are. We simply celebrate the Sacred Mysteries and endeavor to lead others to Christ. Whether we are OCA, Greek, or Antiochian, we are American Orthodox.
It is not theirs to declare that, yeah, overlapping bishops ain't right, and yeah, some century we'll fix it all.
Apparently they sat bishops from numerous jurisdictions at the Episcopal Assembly. Apparently they recognized everyone at the meeting as a canonical bishop.
In short, if they recognize a bishop here, any bishop, to be canonical...
then we have the Church here...
And if we have the Church here...
We are the Church...
Let me add a thought to Mark's allusion above regarding "supporting ancient Patriarchates".
The Old World Churches are shooting themselves in the feet by their machinations in North America. They don't want to give up the flow of money from here, and they don't want to give up the political power inherent in having American cheerleaders. For example, Orthodox in the New World have successfully put pressure on the American government to pressure Turkey regarding the plight of the EP. But those voices are gravely weakened by disunity.
A united "American Orthodox Church" would be far better able to influence the conditions of the Old World Churches. Lines of communication with parishioners (where the money is) would be efficient, speeding aid to where it's needed. A pronouncement from a single Synod of American Orthodox bishops would hit the desk of the Secretary of State with a far louder "thump" than what we have now, which amounts to the disjointed mutterings of a smattering of old monks, in comparison. In short, the Old World has an opportunity to help create a real asset to their survival, but they are being short-sighted.
The key to a united "American Orthodox Church" is in the above. The laity are ready and the structures are mature. We will achieve unity when we convince the Old World that it is in their best interests, and it is.
Just a thought that's been bouncing around for a while....
#12 Christopher on 2010-09-18 05:34
Thank you Fr. Ted for thoughtfully engaging the subject once again of “Mother” churches and maturity contrasted against the fallacious attempt to link “Daughter/Infant” churches with immaturity.
I have always held the position that attempting to link maturity, implying wisdom, with age as one not properly thought through in the context of the Church.
When speaking of maturity or wisdom of the person one acknowledges that for each individual it is something that applies to the person over the time span of one’s life. Each child at birth is not born with the maturity of its parents. Children do not inherit the maturity of their parents, they acquire their own maturity over their own life time.
Therefore the maturity of a particular geographical Orthodox Church, be it an old church with a long history, or a young church with a short history, is more dependent on the maturity of its current leaders responsible for the daily life of its faithful. From this perspective, attempting to assess the inherent maturity or wisdom of today’s Russian, Greek or Antiochian churches in the old world or the OCA, GOA or AOCAA churches in the new world would be best done by attempting to determine the maturity of the bishops sitting on their current respective Holy Synods.
Indeed, most would agree that it would be very difficult to conclude that one would find the maturity of any of the current Orthodox Holy Synods in the world today significantly greater than any other, based on the geographical location of the churches they oversee.
Today’s “Mother” churches therefore are likely to express the same level of maturity as today’s “Daughter” churches, depending solely on the maturity of its current Holy Synod members and other leaders.
The age, or history, or experiences of any Orthodox Church in the world cannot be linked exclusively to its potential maturity in the present. The collective historic wisdom and experiences of all those who have been a part of the Orthodox Church are available to the entire Church today, old and new, in something we call Sacred Tradition. Sacred Tradition has no geographical or ethnic boundaries placed upon it. It is passed along to every generation as a source of wisdom, along with Scripture so that we may grow in our personal journey to the Kingdom.
The fullness of the Faith resides therefore in every Orthodox Church, regardless of its age, as Father Ted has said. The maturity of every Orthodox Church today is dependent on the maturity of its current leaders and the saintly living within its geographical boundaries. In time this too will become part of the Sacred Tradition of the Church. The “Mother” church –“Daughter” church maturity argument put forth really has no foundation and is unsound.
#13 Deacon John Zarras on 2010-09-19 07:09
"Old age is not honored for length of time nor measured by length of years, but understanding is gray hair for men, and a blameless life is ripe old age ... Youth that is quickly perfected will condemn the prolonged old age of the unrighteous man..."
Wisdom of Solomon 4...
#14 Anonymous on 2010-09-21 04:28
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