Wednesday, September 29. 2010
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First and foremost, regarding the self-rule issue for the Antiochians, we see a round of instability within the decision making process of both the local and patriarchal synods.
The wavering and vacillating, the unstable process of clear communication (such as this one currently presented from Met. George) being rescinded with little regard for canonical order, is paralleled in the US when we contrast the clear and thoughtful presentation from Met. Philip setting the stage for self-rule, and the current round of reversal (with not so clear communication from both synods).
For most concerned faithful, we are left only to surmise motivations? Be certain, however, that the underlying motivations are substantive, but complex, and involve the age-old tension between the mind of the fallen world impinging upon the "mind" of the Church.
We need little reminding that we pray that our hierarchy rightly discern the word of truth.
In this particular case, many Orthodox do not understand motivation when such duplicity reveals itself in the unfolding decisions of our leaders. What continues to be encouraging is the maturing of our collective conscience, here in America.
Seeing all things which transpire as an opportunity from God for our salvation, we need to press forward with love and firm resolve that this matter will be stabilized and rightly discerned and corrected.
God willing, we pray that it might yet happen without undoing the last many decades of progress.
#1 prayerful on 2010-09-30 05:40
At the upcoming meeting of archdiocesan hierarchs, Metropolitan Philip will ask the bishops to sign a prepared document pledging their obedience and fidelity to the Holy Synod of Antioch. In particular this document will confirm their adherence to the recent synodal decision defining the auxiliary status of the bishops of North America to the Metroplitan-Archbishop. +Philip will maintain that not to sign is a rejection of the holy synod, which is the “highest authority” within the church. Those not signing therefore will be subject to discipline.
What +Philip will not declare is the “highest authority” in the Orthodox Church militant are the Sacred Canons as defined by the whole church. What he should especially remember is the “highest authority” of the Church triumphant is the All-Holy Trinity, to which he and all mankind must give account.
The Antiochian bishops who are worthy of their “high calling” need to have the wisdom, fortitude and conviction to reject distorted synodal edicts, instead embracing and bearing witness to the “truths” of Orthodoxy. To not defend the truth makes one a partner of deceit. The rungs of the ladder of St. John Climacus are numerous and the ascent perilous but the only objective that matters waits at the top.
“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment” [Proverbs 12:19].
#2 Anti-apologist of byzantine intrigue on 2010-09-30 08:42
I find much of this reflection difficult to stomach, but then I also have a sense that there is a certain something lacking in the translation and an element in the wording, even an offensive sense, that may not have been intended in the original. I suppose, as always, the bottom line is, that those who wish to see the Antiochian Patriarchate as a care-taker still seek close ties to Antioch. Those who see Orthodoxy as evangelical in the New World, will want greater independence. For my part, as a convert, it's been nice having the tie to Antioch, in the past, but I wish to see the true faith in America today and into the future (not as it was in the recent past).
#3 Sean O'Clare on 2010-09-30 10:17
Re: "At the upcoming meeting of archdiocesan hierarchs, Metropolitan Philip will ask the bishops to sign a prepared document pledging their obedience and fidelity to the Holy Synod of Antioch."
Why would Metropolitan PHILIP ask the bishops to sign something? Bishop Alexander had it right the first time when he said: "This decision is already in effect and does not need my signature."
We looked to our Local Synod to solve this problem and nothing changed. We looked to the Patriarch to solve this problem and nothing changed. We looked to the Holy Synod to solve this problem and nothing changed. It's time to look to the Certificate of Incorporation of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America filed with the State of New York: "The property of this corporation is irrevocably dedicated to religious or charitable purposes and no part of the net income or assets of this corporation shall inure to the benefit of any private person."
Using the Archdioces' money to support ones brother in Florida might qualify as a breach of this clause. If so, couldn't this be grounds for dissolution?
"Upon dissolution, any assets remaining after payment, or provision for payment, of all debts and liabilities of this corporation, shall be distributed to a nonprofit fund, foundation, or corporation which is organized exclusively for religious or charitable purposes and which has established its tax exempt status under Section 501 (c) (3) of the United States."
The OCA has 501 (c) (3) status.
Question for you attorneys: Do we need the Board of Trustee's approval to file a motion to dissolve the corporation or can any of us do it?
#4 Gail Sheppard on 2010-09-30 13:33
something lacking in the translation... like "Bishops of the Earth" ? It sounds like a typical howler from some of the Antiochian translations of the Church's hymns, but then one wonders what on earth our resident Arabists will do with the underlying Arabic phrase. Probably some wholly new category of "auxilliary bishop" unique to the patriarchate of Antioch.
#5 Steve Knowlton on 2010-09-30 14:51
Our Bishops should not sign anything without proper legal representation. They signed paperwork before to show their allegiance to MP and the Holy Synod, and look where it got them. They had a conference call to agree to their restored status, and look where it got them. They have not been able to make any progress in a forward motion, and they are sitting still stagnant, in their own juices, so to speak, with no real hope in the near future of a proper resolution.
Bishops BASIL, MARK and ALEXANDER should make sure they have attorneys read the statements presented to them, and they should advise them whether to sign or not. The attorneys should be unbiased and impartial, so that they can be objective.
As for Bishops JOSEPH and THOMAS, they seem to be hanging out on the same side of the fence as MP, so I guess it doesn't matter what they do, but they will betray their Dioceses if they sign.
Bishop ANTOUN, we won't even discuss him, since he is still an auxiliary bishop and always was.
Please, dear Hierarchs, watch your backs and don't let anyone talk you into anything that looks or smells suspicious.
Amazing what a little research reveals! The intent to establish real dioceses with real bishops cannot be seriously challenged.
Now we remember where the Holy Synod stood on the issue. MP went to Damascus to undo what was done in 2003.
Be assured he will deny it but his fingerprints are ALL OVER this one.
How long, O Lord will we have to tolerate this betrayal ad well as the spineless inaction of the local synod?
#7 Anonymous on 2010-10-01 08:24
You are on the right track....follow the money! And the truth will clear up all this smoke!
#8 Delegate #1 on 2010-10-01 11:13
"The auxiliary or honorary bishop is a 'novelty' that arose in both the East and the West; such arose due to the need of the Archbishop of a helper... Christianity does not believe in a bishop by common terms, but believes in a bishop over a geographic area whose people are led by him. Therefore, he is a shepherd to people..."
Well put. This is right; this is our ecclesiology. The use of "titular" or "auxiliary" or "subordinate" or "assistant" or whatever-you-wish-to-call-them Bishops is unOrthodox. Our pastoral hierarchy is very simple, and has never changed since biblical times: Bishop, Presbyter, Deacon (and Deaconesses and Widows!).
His Eminence GEORGE makes his point very well, but the root of the problem is that our bishops have become administrators, because of their overly large areas of pastoral responsibility, and have had to busy themselves with putting out parish "fires," so to speak. Becoming reactionary instead of proactive, and administrative instead of personal pastors.
And "auxiliary" bishops is not the only unOrthodox outgrowth of this phenomena. We have built a whole infrastructure of intermediaries. Our bishops need assistance ("eyes and ears"), of course, but to create additional authorities only exacerbates the problem. We need SMALLER dioceses and bishops who frequently visit and regularly pastor the flock --both lay and clergy-- under their care.
I realize this is a bit far afield from the subject of this excellent article about the Antiochian situation, but I remember an All-American Council (OCA) where plans were announced to redefine the boundaries of our dioceses such that they were BIGGER and we had LESS bishops. In my opinion, this is the opposite of what we need. On this forum, some have suggested the same, that the OCA needs less bishops. I disagree.
(Editor's note: At the root of larger dioceses is money: if a bishop is to live like an executive, a commensurate number of parishes is required to support his salary, staff, residence, etc. Smaller dioceses would require the bishop to be a parish priest, receiving most of his support from that source, and the rest from the smaller number of parishes. One has to ask how many "careerists" would be interested in becoming a bishop if there it involved no perks, more work, no wonderful vestments, little travel, and all the problems. One would hope just as many, but one doubts....)
How does one "follow the money" without an audit? If you have any suggestions, I'd be open to hearing them. Email me directly and I promise to do everything within my power to shed light on the matter. I can be discrete. Just point me in the right direction.
#10 Gail Sheppard on 2010-10-01 13:11
I love it that everyone knows what is goign to happen at a Local synod meeting before the agenda is publsiehed!
Please give me your lucky numbers and I will go to Vegas and bet on that number! LOL
#11 Anonymous on 2010-10-01 17:31
The issue of money is a separate issue. Instituting a system of funding by proportional giving (tithing), starting from the ground up, would more than provide for a bishop and his administration's needs. (And besides, our current situation with "auxiliaries" and additional unOrthodox administrative authorities requires more money, not less, to maintain.)
One does not need a crystal ball to know what the glorious leader is up to. He had been working on this since the summer of 2008 when the Bishops voted to allow him final approval of all parish assignments. Later that year he gave Patriarch Ignatius 3 Mullins reasons to throw his diocesans under the bus.
So now he wants to throw one at a time under the train. Why?
Too much talk of accountability.
Too much talk about conciliatory.
Philip will give no place to any Bishop who simply wants to be a. Brother.
This mess is far from over but unfortunately thee reaction from the clergy and laity may be like a slow leak.
The AOCANA will shrink like an old balloon.
#13 Anonymous on 2010-10-04 10:51
Re: "The AOCANA will shrink like an old balloon."
Perhaps this is a GOOD thing. Metropolitan PHILIP has cause so much divisiveness. Clearly, God has pulled back His hand for our "God protected Archdiocese." If Metropolitan PHILIP has any love for us at all, he will take a long, hard look at what he's done to maintain control. His greatest fear, I believe, is that the truth will be known, which it will in God's own time. Why else would he hesitate to do an external audit? It's not a cost issue. I bet that each one of us would contribute to a special fund to raise money for an audit were that option made available to us. We have special collections for things all the time. An external audit would bring peace to our troubled Archdiocese. Why would our spiritual father oppose such a thing?
Many people are afraid of signing a petition to remove Metropolitan PHILIP, but perhaps we could circulate a petition asking for an external audit. Surely there could be no retribution to fear from that and it would send a strong message to the Board of Trustees that only an audit is going to heal this ugly mess.
Consider signing this petition which reads:
Since the expense is the principle reason given for not doing an external audit of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, I support starting a special fund within the AOCANA to cover the cost. I do so, not because I expect to discover improprieties, but to restore faith in the leadership of the God protected Archdiocese.
#14 Gail Sheppard on 2010-10-04 17:09
I think you make some interesting points, however I would like to point oput which I have in the past, the Church is a Theocracy not a Democracy - the Hierarchs run the Churh not the layity.
Regarding creating a special fund for an Audit, I suggest to forward this idea to the archdiocese Treasurer, Who in fact last year voted for an External Audit.
I have served on my PArish APrish council for several years, Includign being Chair of the APrish council. the year I was Chairman we did any Audit - which we do every three years.
The Audit is done by a CPA who is a parishioner at no charge, by this defination it would be an internal AUdit. Each time we have done an audit he made recommendation to improve our protocols and accounting system, all monies are in place.
I belive the external Aduti of the archdiocese will have similar results. I know the chair of the audit committee and he have the highest intergity when it comes to proefessionalism.
Do you think we can wait and see the report before we all are quick to judge, Who knows the audit committee may recommend an extrernal Audit.
(Editor's note: The Church is not a theocracy, nor a democracy; it is conciliar, or at least should strive to be since that is our tradition for the past 2,000 years. No bishop or priest may even serve liturgy alone; it requires 2 or 3 as the Scripture infers. Likewise, no bishop or priest, or lay person can " run" the Church alone; it is clearly best if we are all on the same page, working together. The Bishops did not call the Councils together - the Emperor, a layman, did; and priests and deacons, including one rather famous deacon named Athanasius participated; and the Bishops voted. That is hardly a theocracy, or a democracy. It is conciliarity, such that the Apostle could write of an earlier council - "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us...")
#15 Anonymous on 2010-10-05 13:42
A true audit will happen when pigs fly. Be certain that after +Philip the new powers that be will insure that there is no such action. We will have to wait for the fearful judgment when all things will be revealed.
Until then people need to voice their displeasure by not supporting anything that goes to or through Englewood, especially anything that benefits Damascus.
#16 Disgusted priest on 2010-10-06 08:23
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