Thank you, Fr. Laurence. I have read St. Ignatius in the original, and I have yet to find mention that a bishop can operate solo in extremis. It has always been by contention that the old EOC crowd read St. Ignatius a little too closely. I see the results.
(commenting on Father Lawrence Farley's Reflection)
This reflection is most timely and necessary. God grant it may not fall on deaf ears (eyes?).
Two paticularly telling passages:
"Bishops are not the local pastors, but remain at a geographical distance, whether they want to or not. If someone has a pastoral emergency, it is not the bishop who gets the late night phone call, but the presbyter," and
"The cry of axios, offered at the ordination of a presbyter, does not mean that the newly-ordained presbyter has been successfully lobotomized. Rather, it is a recognition that he has the requisite gifts and wisdom to offer counsel and help to the local church"
I look forward also to the continuation of Fr Hopko's new series on Bishops on Ancient Faith Radio, and to a wider realization that (as noted by Fr Hopko in 2007)our ecclesiology, particularly regarding the relationships between bishops, presbyters, and "laity", is faulty and needs to be corrected.
Thank you, Fathers, for your insight. It seems to me, and I'm not by any means conversant in matters ecclesial, that present-day Presbyters are much closer to the Bishops of antiquity, and the "council of presbyters" would be close to a parish council. The deans of the various deaneries seem to function more in the traditional role of archbishop, while our bishops function as Metropolitan Archbishops.
If all these layers are necessary, or what their role should be, I wouldn't venture a guess. I don't see changes in title as necessary, but we certainly need to recognize the de facto roles being played. As Fr. Farley indicated, it is the local priest that gets the phone call, not the bishop. That is their role.
If we continue to ascribe to the Episcopacy the same rights as in ancient times, then the responsibilities should be similar as well. I rather think it makes more sense to recognize the role of priests to be identical to those described as Bishops in the ancient texts. Frankly, the geographic distance alone makes pastoral care by a Bishop impossible, be that Bishop married, single, widowed, or celibate.
The Reverend Fathers Ericsson and Farley have done us a great service in revisiting Ignatian ecclesiology, and we are deeply indebted to them for their wise contribution. However, I wonder if they realise the can of worms they have thus opened? (I think they may, but they may well be keeping their powder dry).
Ignatius was making his comments to an overwhelmingly Gentile Church, very few of which had generations of family history of worshipping Yahweh of the Bible. The Jewish Church in "Jerusalem-Central", however did not have such an impediment in their background.
In the first generation, Jewish-appointed Bishops to overwhelmingly Gentile congregations had to assume a higher prominence in Church-leadership than was the case in Jewish Churches in the "Jerusalem-Central" orbit - thus Ignatius' counsels to his Gentile presbyters.
However, it was always intended from the Jewish "Jerusalem-Central" Churches that once these formerly pagan converts had acquired sufficient generational experience in worshipping the Biblical Yahweh (now in three persons), the clergy in general, and especially the Bishops, would not need to be so central, and would assume the more peripheral role already in use in the "Jerusalem-Central" orbit.
However, the wide-ranging but inadequate Gentile response to Marcion ensured that a certain degree of clerical prominence in Gentile Churches was unnecessarily prolonged beyond the expectations of "Jerusalem-Central", and sadly, was made permanent by Constantinian ecclesiology.
With the Constantinian clergy monopolising both the Charisms of the Spirit, and the Sacraments and Sacramentals of the Church, we find its apogee (or should that be nadir?) in Papal Roman Ecclesiology - as recently advised to us by Fr Hopko.
Sadly, also, it was Constantinian ecclesiology that reduced the "axios" to a mere perfunctory formality that was never challenged in the face of Imperial force majeure. His appointment of Sylvester as Bishop of Rome was the first of tens of thousands in this tradition - where an effective lay "anaxios", supported by the Roman presbyters, would have thwarted the Silvestrine Imperial appointment.
Finally, the installation of Clergy - be they Priest or Bishop, at least in the "Jerusalem-Central" orbit, was initially "bottom-up", never the current "top-down" model.
In this orbit, the local congregation 'discerned' the charism of Priesthood, locally installed that person as their Priest, and invited the Bishop to demonstrate his "catholicity" by ordaining that installed-one as Priest. Moving up the scale, a similar story applied to the formation of Bishops.
Much of the angst in Orthodoxy today over clericalism is actually a "wake" for Constantian ecclesiology, and once this is realised, progress can be made. The US Antiochians with Met Philip could benefit immensely from this insight.
Fr Lawrence's comments on the Council Of Presbyters is most welcome. The bishop should be seen, among other things, as president of the council of presbyters, and should not lightly take major actions without the council of presbyters. In the past the OCA/Metropolia had been organised in a way so that the diocese did not have the status they should have had, and the presbyters' council would not have functioned. Presumably, the OCA is now organised, or in the process of being re-organised on a more sound and canonical basis. The restoration of the ancient council of presbyters should be welcomed by all. One of the greatest needs for the Church in our era is to be finally liberated from the Imperial models, from the Byzantine Empire, and also from its clone, the Russian Empire. We really must function within democratic societies, and the Imperial model was not proper anyway. The Council Of Presbyters presided over by the Bishop as president, is something that we truly do need.
Archbishop Lazar Puhalo
If only a wake were justified, I'd be partying all night! Unfortunately, the specter of Constantinian ecclesiology is still very much with us and is indeed a wellspring for so much of the clericalism that infects the Christian Church.
Your historical examples and references, however, are spot on.
To add to my response to Fr. Lawrence's excellent reflection on the presbyteriate: I have been in favour of married bishops for the past three decades. I still am. Having strict monastics as bishops is not always a sound idea. We have had problems with that in the past few decades in some place. The inclination to attempt to turn parishes into "married monasteries," or to govern the diocese itself as if it was a monastery is not in anyone's best interest. Nor should anyone expect to find an "flawless" and "totally pure" men, married or monastic, for hierarchs. The Council of Presbyters really would help a great deal in effecting moderation; and moderation and compassions is needed by some of the presbyters who don't hae either one also. This is another area where the Council of Presbyters could be very helpful. I will still support the idea of married hierarchs.
Archbishop Lazar Puhalo
Erickson's paper is very good and sheds light on many subjects. The uniformity of how the marriage issue is treated and reception of converts is outlined. Many clergy have realized the difference from the Greek & Russian Traditions and how they developed. Yet, this is not a major reason to establish the Ep. Ass. In fact, Met. Philip said it right when he said, "There was no reason to get rid of SCOBA; at least SCOBA had a Constitution!" SCOBA did wonderful work and formed the frame work for the Ep. Ass., but there IS one major difference. SCOBA made it's own decisions by it's Bishops in N. Am. solving it's own problems & issues. The Ep. Ass. is under the watchful eye of "FOREIGN BISHOPS." In fact, any decisions the Ep. Ass. may make, can be vetoed by FOREIGN BISHOPS. Why do we need this in North America? SCOBA was doing just fine; why do we need intervention from overseas? The Ep. Ass. is just another way to take away ANY independence the bishops in N. Am. may of had or hoped to have. And even though the Ep. Ass. has no canonical authority, the dissolving of SCOBA for this aberration is unconscionable!