Wednesday, November 17. 2010
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Unfortunate as it may be, it makes total sense after reading this letter. These are all very legitimate points made.
I pray Fr. Elias seeks guidance in the correct area for his spiritual nurturing as a priest. Other layman and myself can help nurture to a certain capacity in the spiritual life of clergy member I believe, but we are not ordained and can not be used as spiritual fathers.
Maybe a clergy can answer this for me, hypothetically if one was in position where they had no other person around except a friend, could that friend be a father confessor in a desperate time of need? Like if they were stuck in the wilderness or something lost? Curious about that.
(Editor's note: In answer to your question, although I am not priest: Many monastics are spiritual fathers, but not all are ordained priests. It is not common in this country, but hardly rare abroad.
There is no issue with confessing to someone who is not ordained: they simply cannot offer the absolution which only a priest of bishop is authorized to do. )
#1 Happy on 2010-11-17 07:39
Fr Elias was certainly in the hinterland of Orthodoxy but definitely NOT guilty of something worth deposition.
Perhaps if he "repented" - by never again going to confession, tossing aside his cassock, excommunicated his parish council president, shaved his beard and instead of ministering to the homeless opening a Bingo hall his reinstatement might be possible to the hallowed lists of clergy of this God-protected Archdiocese!
(Oh and how could I forget - it may even be possible for him to marry a parishioner in the process!)
The HORROR, the HORROR!!
#2 Delegate #1 on 2010-11-17 08:30
Mark is correct. Throughout the history of Holy Orthodoxy, confessions were heard by those who were not ordained. Obviously, absolution had to be obtained by a priest or bishop. It seems quite clear that the primary reason for the dismissal was due to criticism of +Philip. This type of despotism will not survive long. Everyone must continue to fast and pray.
#3 M.A. on 2010-11-17 09:03
Good, and taking no joy in it.
#4 no name on 2010-11-17 09:23
Confessions were heard by those who weren't ordained, yes, but those confessors were monks, and they were blessed to act as confessors by their own spiritual fathers.
On the other hand, since Metropolitan Philip has an allergy to monasticism, perhaps simply confessing to a layman is the modern Antiochian equivalent!
#5 Cordelia on 2010-11-17 09:26
It really isn't clear "that the primary reason.....was due to criticism of +Philip." Only 3 of "a few" reasons were given in addition to that, all involving parishioner(s) and some level of disobedience. There really is much more here, I believe, than meets the eye or is publicly reported. Should we not be a little more careful in what we assume and say?
(Editor's note: All we can go on is the evidence, which is before you. Make of it what you will.)
#6 JM on 2010-11-17 10:39
What a tragedy. Here was one priest who was willing to leave his familiar surroundings in his home parish and work in a mission parish ministering to the homeless and the outcasts of society. And, God forbid, there were even manifestations of the spiritual gifts among the flock, including prophecy and healing -- can't have those. can we, especially if they don't have prior approval from Charleston or Englewood?
The more this travesty plays out, the more it resembles what we read about in the Gospels where our Lord Himself had to endure such opposition from the Scribes and Pharisees.
As one priest has said, we need to centralize Christ by decentralizing the Church. Much of our ecclesiastical organization is not only post-biblical, but no longer serves the purposes for which it was intended.
Acts 20 speaks not of one bishop over multiple churches, but of multiple bishops over one congregation (Ephesus). I Timothy lays down a requirement for bishops to be married. (One would think that in an archdiocese with 97% of priests being married, having a bishop who could relate to their situations might help in offering pastoral care to the priesthood.) Whatever purpose our current canon law once served in the Old Country, it certainly doesn't meet the needs of Orthodox Christians living in 21st-century America!
I'm not crazy about +Philip or his actions, but I wonder how much we're to blame for continuing to perpetuate an ecclesiastical structure that just invites this kind of ungodliness, abuse and corruption.
#7 Edmund on 2010-11-17 11:02
As a former parishioner of the Twice Married Priest I CONCUR. Too bad Fr Elias was not a FAVORITE SON of Metr Philip. Oh, how the brain washed are rewarded. A spineless Arch'd with fgew exceptions. Don't EVER trust DAMASCUS they are mostly bought. Perhaps we should'nt blame them? With all of them a distinct minority to the Muslims! Why give up America??
#8 Anonymous on 2010-11-17 11:43
In the Antiochian Archdiocese, there has been a several years requirement that all higher Clergy (Deacon and above) use only Antiochian Clergy as their spiritual fathers and confessors. This was put out in writing to all clergy. So technically he was in disobedience. If this had been discussed earlier it is a "Legal" reason for disciplining the priest.
#9 Gunter on 2010-11-17 12:03
Ah, the ellipsis strikes again! This website makes it look as though this is somehow a new letter doing only one thing -- removing Fr. Elias from the archdiocesan clergy. But this is the actual letter of discipline he received. But of course our editor has left some parts out. Why did he remove parts? One can only assume that there is a deliberate attempt, once again, to distort this narrative.
Here's the whole thing:
November 9, 2010
Feast of St. Nektarios of Pentapolis
Rev. Fr. Elias Yelovich
1634 Carrolls Tract Rd.
Orrtanna, PA 17353-9740
Dear Fr. Elias,
It is with great sadness that I inform you that it has been decided that you should be suspended from priestly ministry, dismissed as pastor of St. James Mission, and removed from the roster of clergy of this Archdiocese. This action is being taken with the blessing of His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP, and is effective immediately.
The reasons for these actions are numerous. To name a few:
1. Your continued disobedience to directives passed on to you by my office, specifically those dealing with your own spiritual care, namely continuing against my direction to have a layman as your confessor.
2. Secondly, maintaining a parish council president who is not in good canonical standing with this Archdiocese. You have been sent a number of times a copy of the Priest’s Guide containing the model constitution for parishes, which indicates that council members must be in good canonical standing.
3. Proclaiming throughout your deanery that one of your parishioners is a “prophet” and accounting and proclaiming “miracles” without consulting with the hierarchs of this Archdiocese.
Your recent postings to the website ocanews.org led us to interview you and investigate your activities. The investigation revealed that you had not changed any of the behaviors about which you had been warned. In addition to the serious items listed above, the disparaging remarks you posted about the Metropolitan on the Internet have certainly contributed to our taking this action. Likening our Archbishop to a father who beats his children will never be tolerated. There are proper ways that we can disagree as brother clergy, and there are inappropriate ways. This one certainly was inappropriate.
As you know, we have repeatedly asked you to conform to the practices of our Archdiocese and specifically to repudiate the remarks you posted on the Internet. Sadly, you have refused to work with us. This being the case, we have no other recourse but to take this action.
We pray that you will come to repentance.
Yours in Christ,
Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Diocese of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic
CC: Most Rev. Metropolitan PHILIP
(Editor's note: The "parts left out" had already been reported last week ( i.e. that he had been suspended and removed.) What was not known, until the letter was received, was that he was removed from the Archdiocese as well. As the original notification came over the phone, that part was not made clear. The letter does make it clear, as well as the stated reasons for the dismissal. That is why it was published here at all, because if it just repeated what we knew earlier, there would be little point beyond creating an historical record. Sorry to disappoint your "agenda theory". )
#10 Abd'al-MasiH on 2010-11-17 12:34
Fr. Elias has not been deposed, only removed as an Antiochian clergyman.
As for his parish council president (the so-called "prophet"), he was already excommunicated! He was divorced and had not repented, and so he was not eligible either to receive the sacraments or to serve on the parish council. (This "prophet" even offered the bishop, when he visited, to become one of his "disciples" along with Fr. Elias.)
I think as you learn more from the actual parishioners at the mission, you will figure out that this was a supremely messed up situation. There were nearly a dozen families who left over the past couple of months, all burned and tired of the utterly un-Orthodox approach to church life.
#11 Abd'al-MasiH on 2010-11-17 12:44
Thank you, "Servant of the Christ,' for this perspective.
When I read Father Elias' two messages on ocanews.org, lots of red flags went up and many alarms sounded.
#12 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-11-17 13:00
A priest can either be laicized at his own request, defrocked after a trial, or released TO another bishop. I do not know of any other canonically Orthodox option.
Here we see a man who is a suspended priest, not released, yet no longer recognized as a priest by those previously responsible for him.
Leglalistically, canonically speaking, by economia I think the Antiochians have created a canonical one-man priest led autocephalous Orthodox Church! Impressive.
And we Orthodox try to tell the Roman Catholics they're all wrong about Limbo. Shazaam-- you don't even have to die to see whether it's real or not in our Church!!
Truly Wondrous are the ways of the Ordained Young Never Married.
#13 Harry Coin on 2010-11-17 13:59
Metropolitan PHILIP through Bishop THOMAS is within their rights and discretion. enough siad, from what I read hear seem like this priest was starting his own cult.
We have to trust through who responsibility is given, which the MEtropolitan have the authority to do what he did.
enough said. I find MEtropolitan PHILIP a forgiving Bishop maybe if he repeants and aask forgiveness he will reinstate him.
#14 Real Son fo antioch on 2010-11-17 14:53
And exactly what are the proper ways to voice grievances regarding +Philip, now that his Directives have been published???
Simple, there Aren't any. Remember, the auxiliary bishops can neither question nor disagree with the Holy Pope.
Think of the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's 1984. The earliest versions of a printed story are true. Gradually, the truth is excised, until people wonder if the reported event ever happened.
And once the word "Wrong" is eliminated from the language, everything becomes *Right*.
Yes, it "appears" that this priest may have also done some things wrong.
If, and "ONLY IF" those charges are true, and he flagrantly disobeyed the Canons, and his Bishop, and refused to change, then he should be removed from the clergy.
As far as I know there aren't any canons that direct priests and laity to "Shut Up" when you see something wrong being done.
In fact, I suspect the reverse IS true: That there are many canons that provide for the orderly resolution of difficulties between the laity and their pastors, the laity and their their bishops, and the priests and their bishops.
Please show me just one canon that says a priest SHOULD BE deposed for disagreeing with his Bishop.
If you can find it, than you should become the Canon Lawyer for the EA.
Otherwise, your opinion is as valid as those who disagree with+Philip.
That is how Freedom os speech is supposed to work. The other way, *at least in America*, IS "Illegal."
#15 Mark Sudia on 2010-11-17 15:07
I find it suspicious that it is only AFTER Father Elias posted on this site that Metropolitan Philip, through Bishop Thomas, felt the need to dismiss him. Since we have no reason to doubt Father Elias, please answer the following for me:
1. Are there theological, historical, canonical, or spiritual prohibitions against miracles happening in a parish?
2. Do the canons specifically prevent one from speaking about them, should they occur? - If so, somebody should warn Metropolitan Philip that he crossed a line when he declared the Weeping Lady of Cicero miraculous.
3. Is there something in Tradition that states that God does not bless lay members with gifts of the Holy Spirit, i.e. WISDOM, understanding, COUNSEL, fortitude, KNOWLEDGE, piety and fear of God?
4. If He chooses to bless them, does the Church prohibit these gifts, specifically wisdom, counsel and knowledge, from being shared with a priest?
While I'll admit that Father Elias spoke of extraordinary things, I will not concede that they are grounds for his dismissal. Metropolitan Philip not only threw this 60 year-old priest, who served the poorest of the poor, out on his keester, he took great pains to discredit him on the way out. I think this is despicable and those of you who say that the things Father Elias spoke of are too fantastic to be true, I suggest you reread Scripture.
#16 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-17 16:09
#17 Cordelia on 2010-11-17 17:30
Has anyone else noticed that the St. James Orthodox Church website is now down (stjamesorthodoxchurch.org)?
The website of St. George Orthodox Church in Terre Haute (Fr. David Moretti's former parish, www.stgeorgeterrehaute.org) is currently listed as a malware attack site.
It's too bad these parishes cannot post updates for their parishioners.
#18 Anonymous on 2010-11-17 17:45
Vote for the OCANews.org site as the Best Church News Blog for 2010. Without Mark, we would have no place to commiserate or discuss these things.
#19 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-17 18:21
Fr. Reardon, how many red flags have been raised for you with Philip's words and actions?
Or dare you not say, especially in public?
#20 Anonymous on 2010-11-17 18:40
Really Mark, take out the point of disobedience and tell me that as a bishop you would allow a priest to protect your flock when he admits to having a non-ordained layman as his spiritual father and a prophet in the church. If you were my bishop and allowed such things to continue than you are not protecting your flock. Again, you csn not say this wasnt right on MPs part, even if you take out the insults. This priest is not fit with that kind of teaching. He published those red flags himself, you can even read it on this website.
#21 Happy on 2010-11-17 19:29
I would vote ocanews.org for bedtime church tabloid site.
#22 Anonymous on 2010-11-17 19:30
First, thank you very much for your charitable, loving and Christian postings on this website. Second please tell me where we can send a donation to help Fr. Elias. I intend to send the money which I would have sent to my parish to Fr Elias and Fr Moretti until God spares the Archdiocese of this ungodly and unloving hierarch.
#23 Diogenes on 2010-11-17 19:33
I believe there are steps required, I heard they even sent scientists to try and figure out the weeping icon. After no scientific explaination it was reaffirmed. I believe it was on national news too.
#24 Happy on 2010-11-17 19:37
No offense but I wont. Only because I don't want people to see this mess as a first impression.
#25 Happy on 2010-11-17 19:39
Looks very similar to the malware warning that hit OCAnews about 10 or so days ago.
#26 Makarios on 2010-11-17 20:16
"Or dare you not say, especially in public?"
Well, now, let's think about this.
Since you are anonymous, and I am not, it should be clear who between us is qualified to post a challenge.
#27 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-11-17 20:41
Awwww come'on Harry! This guy is a flake, though from a position of canon law you are right. I think +P got it right, I'd-a dumped this priest long ago.
#28 no name on 2010-11-17 20:48
At least in the comments I read, Fr. Elias didn't say he confessed to a layman. He said he had a layman as a spiritual guide. As you noted, this is very far from being a rarity, and was even less so in the early church. Still, everyone in clerical orders owes obedience to their canonical superiors, and as I read the letter dismissing Fr. Elias it seems fairly clear he was at least disobedient, whatever the truth behind the other issue. He was told to get another director, and he refused.
One thing caught my eye in the various texts: the bishop's title. "Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Charleston." Forgive my ignorance, but if Bishop Thomas is only the auxiliary, who is the ruling hierarch? If the answer is "No one," then the word diocese makes no sense. (What authority would an auxiliary have in the absence of a diocesan ordinary?) But if the answer is Metropolitan Phillip, my next question would have to do with the position taken in the Orthodox canons on multiple benefices. Surely, one bishop ought not be the ruling hierarch of nine dioceses? (I mean apart from serving as locum tenens.)
No, I haven't been asleep for the last six months. I just think we really need to find new words for the structure In the AOC, because words like "diocese" or "synod" are literally nonsense under present conditions.
#29 Morton on 2010-11-17 20:54
So basically they let this priest do all the crazy stuff he felt like doing, until he went too far and questioned Metropolitan Philip? Geez, what a spiritual hierarchy!
#30 Andrew on 2010-11-17 22:45
But how did this situation get to fester to this point? Most of this went on when there was a diocesan bishop who, presumably, could have spent more time understanding and handling the situation. You said you got red flags reading his missive -- how come these red flags were never seriously raised with the hierarchy?
This isn't the only instance of this sort of thing where the parish just sort of runs itself until it's just a big mess which forces an edict from on high. Is there not an effort for the episcopacy to get to know the priests and deacons, if for no other reason, so that the bishop can get a sense of the people working in the parish? Or is it just run by orders and commands?
I feel for this situation because I've been affected by what appears to be episcopal imperious complacency and then, seemingly, a quick panic reaction. Fr Elias wasn't disciplined, at first, because of these "suspicious" things but because he wrote some posts on ocanews. Maybe Fr Elias is really mislead and mixed up in areas, but the hierarchy bears alot of the responsibility for letting things get to where they are but he is the one that will be taking the hit. But that is always the way in hierarchical organizations.
#31 Anonymous on 2010-11-18 02:06
Points, 1, 2, 3, 4: We're really beating up on the Straw Man today, aren't we? No one is saying that miraculous things can't happen, but, most of the time, they don't.
No one argues with the points you brought up. If miraculous things happen in a parish, I expect the bishop will investigate. We have no information about that part, except that Bp Thomas seemed to be fairly confident in his remarks. I have no idea what sort of oversight there has been over this parish since these things started happening -- but I'm assuming there was. Perhaps this dismissal was just really really bad timing -- which means, it was bad timing and not one more dominoe in a conspiracy. Which means that for 99% of us, we don't have to try to interject ourselves into the situation.
#32 RStevenson on 2010-11-18 02:24
Ah, Harry, our old Voithia friend.
Yes as far as the fate of a priest, I've heard of an Antiochian priest who was "transferred" out of a parish but not to anywhere. He and his family were just left hanging. I'm not sure if this is the same sort of thing or a slightly different take -- but it just seems like a way to let someone twist in the wind until they buckle down, submit and fly right.
#33 An old acquaintance on 2010-11-18 02:31
I visited the site of St. James Orthodox Church in Westminster, MD, before it was taken down and even read at that time the brief farewell message of Fr. Elias to his flock. Very moving. And now the site wasn't just edited, but taken down.
I didn't check the site of St. George Church in Terre Haute.
Saddened by these events, I am
Yours in Christ,
Perhaps this will help:
"Hey... so, Captain, what about you? I mean, you don't gripe at all?"
"I don't gripe to you, Reiben. I'm a captain. There's a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, so on, so on, and so on..."
#35 Saving Private Ryan on 2010-11-18 07:44
It sure would be nice if we didn’t have to deal with people in the Church who were consumed by judgementalism, Pharisee-ism and arrogance. If there’s one thing that I have learned from true Orthodoxy, it is that Christ’s message, and message of the saints and holy ones, is of love, forgiveness, healing and spreading His Gospel. It is too bad that some are so obsessed with hatred and judgementalism that they have forgotten and neglected the True Message of Christ.
As for the case of Fr. Elias, I must honestly say that I cannot (and will not) judge him, not only because it would be inappropriate, but also because I don't know enough about the situation. All I can say is that it is sad, tragic, and it hurts the church and the faithful.
#36 Sean O'Clare on 2010-11-18 10:32
Very nicely stated Gail. It is refreshing and all too rare to see a comment that is so compassionate and caring. Thank you!
I do not know the specifics of this situation, but it seems as if you do and you have chosen the road of love and compassion.
#37 Sean O'Clare on 2010-11-18 10:35
I think we do have dioceses which is correct, however Bishop THOMAS is assigned to that particular Diocese, therefore it would look odd if he put "Bishop THOMAS, Diocese of Los Angeles and the West" when he is assigned to be the Auxilary of that Diocese (which isn't technically what it should be, reason below).
PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I'm WRONG IN A POLITE WAY, THANK YOU.
Technically the correct method is to have one Metropolitan for each Metropolis, like the GOA. And one Archbishop of the Archdiocese. We technically did this, when they were regions. There was only one Metropolitan and Archbishop. Now we renamed them into Diocese which is a western term if I'm correct, (correct me if I'm wrong on this). So we run it much like OCA which in reality there should not even be dioceses if you compare to the other countries. There should be Metropolises with Metropolitans if anything. Not Diocesan bishops, that is a western thing taken from Catholics. This is not really a thought out answer but it's off the top of my head.
Anyone care to confirm or correct the Diocese vs. Metropolises question? Please do because this is what i perceive. thanks
#38 Happy on 2010-11-18 11:12
You must be one of the “brothers that either shake their heads, whisper behind closed doors or erupt in anger with wagging tongues” that Father Elias spoke about! - I generally evaluate what people say based on the content of their posts and your one sided view makes me suspicious. The fact that you seem to have a vested interest in drawing our attention to private document to discredit a man doesn’t speak well of you either. A true "servant of Christ" wouldn't do that. You talk about Father Elias as some kind of “nut job,” but fail to explain how a convert from the Lutheran ministry, where he served for over a decade, who was a sub deacon in the OCA for another decade and then a deacon in the AOC for another six, was made a priest. What kind of “nut job” allowed that?! As long as we're on the subject of "nut jobs," Abd'al-MasiH means a Christian saint and martyr. Is that how you see yourself? You sound a little like a “nut job” yourself! If you want to go to extraordinary lengths to kick a man when he's down, don't hide behind a lofty moniker; use your own name for pete's sake.
We know the facts. Metropolitan Philip pulled the trigger immediately AFTER Father Elias posted his remarks on this website. We WITNESSED the events as they unfolded so don’t be trying to tell us he was dismissed for various and sundry reasons. We know the truth.
As for the prophetic council member, what you're saying is just plain gossip as far as I'm concerned. How would you know whether or not he was repentant over his divorce? Are you his confessor? Somehow I doubt it. - Sorry, buddy, but you sound like a shill to me. Give Metropolitan Philip my best and tell him he hasn’t heard the last from us.
#39 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-18 11:31
This is the only time, thus far, that I have agreed with you.
#40 Anonymous on 2010-11-18 12:11
This situation has been monitored closely by and addressed by the bishop for many, many months, with lots of guidance and care. What you see on the Internet may seem sudden and out of the blue, but those closer to the situation see this really simply as the final straw.
Just because you're not aware of the huge amount of attention and work a bishop has put in on a given situation does not mean it doesn't exist.
The most important thing to remember when deciding to get outraged by what you see on the Internet is that it is rarely even 1% of the actual story.
(Editor's note: Really? You mean we only know 1% of the "real story" of the decisions of March 2009, or of June 2009, or of August 2010? Interesting claim. Unsubstantiable, but interesting.)
#41 Abd'al-MasiH on 2010-11-18 12:25
SWEET:) You made me smile for real!
#42 Happy on 2010-11-18 13:15
It is my understanding that both Father David and Father Elias have outside jobs. I do not believe money is an issue at this point. If this should change, I will certainly facilitate taking up a collection for them. I'm sure they appreciate the offer.
My point WASN'T that the weeping icon was a fake. My point was that if the Holy Spirit could bless a parish in Cicero Illinois, is it really such a stretch to imagine that He could also bless a humble mission in Westminster, MD? You either believe in miracles or you don't. On this one point, Metropolitan Philip and I agree: miracles are indeed possible and if a humble priest, who describes himself as the "least of the least," tells me they are happening in his mission, I'm incline to believe him.
You acknowledge that the things Fr. Elias spoke of were indeed possible and do happen, but then discount what he says because "most of the time they don't." How can you know if this is one of those times? You can't. Since neither of us are in a position to judge and Fr. Elias appears to be a genuine man, why not take what he says at face value? - You say: "I have no idea what sort of oversight there has been over this parish since these things started happening -- but I'm assuming there was." I'm incline to agree with you; at no time did anyone intervene. Why not? There was ample time. It's not like the situation popped up overnight. The facts are this: Fr. Elias openly challenged Metropolitan Philip. He was summoned by the Dean, called and questioned by the Bishop and strongly corrected by a brother priest. His comments were discussed in Englewood and the following Sunday he was dismissed from his parish and banned from all AOC churches. End of story.
#43 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-18 13:31
Sweeping things under the rug isn't the best way to affect change. - Don't penalize Mark because our Archdiocese is in an embarrassing mess. Mark has given us this venue at great personal risk and deserves our support. - Friendly word of advise: Don't post something you don't want people to see.
#44 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-18 13:45
Look how silly this is. First, he was being removed for wearing a cassock in public - THAT WAS THE CHARGE. Then, it was something else; then something else...Well, what the heck is it? Why is Englewood trying to confuse issues? This priest is being made an example of - THAT'S WHAT THIS IS! Crazy Phil is trying to exert his authority to keep others in line. It's a smoke screen while + Mark's removal is the real issue here. Pay attention everyone - Crazy Phil is the REAL PROBLEM!
#45 Anonymous on 2010-11-18 14:06
I don't suppose it matters to my spiritual life. I'm just curious how the Antiochians have established a number of units that would theoretically be headed by ruling hierarchs; but instead of that, they are managed by auxiliaries, who are, however, fully subordinate to a metropolitan; the metropolitan, in turn, leads an archdiocese that includes all these other units, which he governs...The auxiliaries cannot make any decisions on their own: they cannot ordain, consecrate, depose, or govern in any way. The dioceses really function more like large deaneries, to continue with the Western usage you mention. So the bishops are more like deans with fancy hats.
(Editor's note: Fancier hats. Deans, at least in the OCA, often wear fancy red or purple hats already. I am not familiar with the costumes of the AOCNA deans, however, so maybe you are more accurate....)
#46 Morton on 2010-11-18 14:26
Actually Fr. Reardon, that was my post. I hit the Submit Comment button not realizing I had failed to fill in my name.
So, having cleared that up, can you now truthfully answer my question or is expecting a straight answer to a straight question simply too much to hope for from any Elder of the Antiochian Archdiocese?
In case you've forgotton, the question was:
Fr. Reardon, how many red flags have been raised for you with Philip's words and actions?
Or dare you not say, especially in public?
Not holding my breath for an upfront answer, but certainly willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.
#47 Jerry 'Isaac' Sanders on 2010-11-18 14:40
I think it is time to stop over-analyzing Fr. Elias. He actually went out of his way to downplay the miraculous in his first post. And I am pretty sure he won't show up here to defend his record, and God bless him for that.
#48 CJ7 on 2010-11-18 14:44
I meant the miters.
(Editor's note: Yeah, we have at least one priest in the OCA with that kind of funny hat as well. Probably a few more with one under their bed, as well. (Yes, really, some do. One even showed me his hat-in-waiting once.) Of course this is all humorous, until you are brought up short by overhearing someone describe Orthodoxy as
"It's all about the hats, you know...." And then you look around the room at the Orthodox, and doubt creeps into your heart that perhaps it is all about the hats....)
#49 Morton on 2010-11-18 15:03
I remember that when they were regions, they also had deaneries, the Auxilary Bishops did not have the authority to ordain etc. Which could be good/bad...who knows.
It ran pretty well but got so very large, I believed it was time to change methodology in a sense and give individual regions the care they needed on a more intimate level with a instated hierarch, even though everyone knew who their local bishop was and gave him the respect of that acknowledgment.
Without getting off track and discussing the current situation yet, maybe Mark S. can clarify for me as a church historian. In Orthodox tradition we don't/ or never had the system of dioceses, we had metropolises that ran a little different, correct?
However the issue currently facing us in the AOCA seems that it didn't work out to well, probably because the country is so huge.
Trying to work in a new structure, we probably had to try and conform to the western terminology of how churches are understood to be divided.
I'm guessing now, Metropolises should have been the way to go with their respective Metropolitan s.
One of the main concerns as a layman I have with the authority of a diocesan bishop is that many of them were ordaining priests left and right without the proper seminary education, this could be a reason why there is a flooded market of priests in the archdiocese. Or also why many are wearing cassocks and look traditionally centuries older.
(this may be a completely wrong guess, just what I witnessed over time in the Word magazine and online.)
These newly ordained priests, deacons, and sub-deacons probably most likely only had their nurturing remotely via house of studies and education from another seminary or theological institution. They only knew their local bishops in regards to those of the clergy that were ordained from (2004-present).
Therefore I don't blame them for supporting their local bishops and the ways of those dioceses. This was all they knew but it was really different from other diocese where their bishop was not a monastic and pressed for that.
I know I'm going off the question I originally asked but i don't really want to scroll down for another post that it fits to. lol.
If anyone sees anything wrong with what I wrote, please correct my interpretation. I'm trying to maintain myself as civil as possible since I turned over a new leaf of calming it down:) Thank you.
(Editor's note: Its good you are asking questions, for it shows a desire to learn. It also shows, and I mean this with no disrespect, some real problems with our catachesis these days that so many fundamental questions are being sincerely asked. I am going to let others answer, though, because while the questions are many, there are many others who can help you find the answers you need - but may not want. One thing I can tell you is that there is no "glut" of priests in Orthodoxy, rather a healthy shortage that allows most priests to move if they desire/need/are ordered to. Most have serious theological training, in fact, I have never met one who had none, albeit not necessarily at an Orthodox seminary. THat is not the reason some choose to wear beards, cassocks and adopt monastic practices, even in America. Its not my style either , but it is a bit ridiculous to complain about something which is the norm in the rest of the Orthodox world, isn't it? The clothes don't make the man, and the day we begin believing or acting like it does, is the day we have lost the Gospel and adopted secularism as our guiding principles. So, go to it people and answer his questions!)
#50 Happy on 2010-11-18 15:21
Some of the people on here seem to have a personal vendetta against the Metropolitan. You have been given just and fair evidence that shows why a priest is no longer serving under Phillip. Not everything is some big conspiracy as you all seem so insistent to promulgate
#51 Anonymous on 2010-11-18 15:31
"Fr. Reardon, how many red flags have been raised for you with Philip's words and actions? Or dare you not say, especially in public?"
I have spoken very frankly, in public, about the current problems of the Archdiocese---to my congregation.
The people in my congregation know exactly what I think on these matters, and how I believe we should react to recent events, especially the loss of our beloved Bishop Mark. This was a hard blow, and our people cried over it.
My pastoral task is to preserve this congregation in peace and charity, and i try to give it my best.
So far, only one person has left our parish over this recent trouble (and, to be truthful, she is much missed here). Most others are still distressed---a few very distressed indeed---but we are trying to deal with the problem as Christians should, which means some reference to the standards of the Sermon on the Mount.
Permit me, please, two further observations:
First, my congregation is the proper setting for my personal communications about the current problems in the Archdiocese, because this task pertains to my pastoral care for the people entrusted to me by Metropolitan Philip.
I owe no such communications to the folks on this blog site, where a general and often angry buzzing makes it nearly impossible to discern the difference between a bee and a wasp.
Second, people who expect me to speak disparagingly or disrespectfully of Metropolitan Philip will wait a very long time. Indeed, I challenge them to a hockey face-off when hell freezes over.
In spite of all the raw nonsense about the Antiochian clergy living in constant fear of retaliation from Englewood, let me declare it plainly: I fear God.
In particular, I fear God's just retribution for anything I might do or say that would being harm to His Church, especially this modest flock of dear believers here in Chicago.
Meanwhile, I will not dishonor the Metropolitan's signature on the antimins here at All Saints.
#52 Fr. Patrick Reardon on 2010-11-18 16:55
Maybe this priest deserved his removal, maybe not. I just want to know: Is there a list somewhere that I can add my name to, to request excommunication? I’ll say whatever is necessary.
#53 Douglas Dalrymple on 2010-11-18 16:57
I'll try to answer your question about what is normal church structure. Believe it or not, the current structure was first defined by Saint Ignatius (Third Patriarch I believe) of Antioch. It was very simple: The church is constituted by the bishop, surrounded by his priests, deacons and laity. He meant this to be so at each church headed by a local bishop. Initially, we had a bishop, deacons and laity in one city, usually in one congregation. Interestingly, the bishop presided over a Council of Presbyters (priests) and would not/could not make a decision without the council's consent. AS the Church grew and became established in the Roman Empire, she had to reorganize to accommodate the greater number of local congregations. The Apostolic Canon 34 essentially replaced the Council of Presbyters with what we now know as a Holy Synod, made up of the bishops of dioceses, one of whom had the additional responsibility of functioning as a metropolitan (administratively responsible for the Roman province, of which dioceses were subsections). As with the local bishop and his Council of Presbyters, the new grouping also operated by the same principles. Each diocesan bishop continued to have the authority to run his see/diocese but there were two restrictions to bishops' powers. First, each diocesan bishop could not do anything extraordinary without informing his metropolitan bishop. Second, the metropolitan bishop could not do anything at all (that is affecting the province and not merely his own diocesan see) without the consensus of all of his diocesan bishops. As far as I know, this canon has never been repealed. In any case, the true Orthodox approach is based on the original Antiochian concept: the local diocesan bishop has many powers, none of which can or should be taken away from him or usurped by another bishop, even if the usurper is the metropolitan. There are similar restrictions to the power of an bishop who is given administrative power over areas larger than a province, such as a Patriarch. I hope this simple explanation helps. Carl
#54 Carl Kraeff on 2010-11-18 17:41
Quoting Fr. Reardon:
"...we are trying to deal with the problem as Christians should, which means some reference to the standards of the Sermon on the Mount."
"Second, people who expect me to speak disparagingly or disrespectfully of Metropolitan Philip will wait a very long time. Indeed, I challenge them to a hockey face-off when hell freezes over."
in reference to a question regarding his previous comment:
"When I read Father Elias' two messages on ocanews.org, lots of red flags went up and many alarms sounded."
I see. So you hold yourself to one set of standards when publicly dissing a fellow priest and quite another when failing to publicly speak about the words & actions of your Despot. Nice to know that "the standards of the Sermon on the Mount" are so, um, flexible.
In any event, thank you for your response Fr. Reardon - it is enlightening to see an Elder in action whilst protecting their, ah, 'congregation' (is that what they are calling it now?) and not that of a fellow priest & his parish.
You do Philip proud - keep sounding those false alarms.
#55 Jerry 'Isaac' Sanders on 2010-11-18 17:45
Thanks Carl. I appreciate the response.
#56 Happy on 2010-11-18 18:07
Sign me up as well.
#57 Jerry 'Isaac' Sanders on 2010-11-18 18:33
Wish we had 30 Greek-American laymen like yourself to organize the Antiochian laymen.
Most are afraid because they don't want to lose their priest or they are in parishes where Met. Philip supporters physically threaten or push around the members who want transparency.
It is quite sickening.
#58 delegate 2 on 2010-11-18 19:59
With all Respect to Fr. Elias,
As Priest they MUST be obedient to their MEtropolitanLIKR IT OR NOT; if he disagree, he should discuss it in private not for the entire world to read/see!
He was told to refute his comments which he did not obey his MEtropolitan. In reading the letter posted here there are some serious issues, which its seem to me he was running a cult not an ORthodox parish.
It seems to me everyone here wants to second guess and critize every decisson MEtropolitan Philip makes
#59 Real son of Antioch on 2010-11-18 22:27
Thank you for the back-story, but I'm not "outraged". Like I said, this sort of thing has happened before and this appears to be one more incident -- albeit with some poor timing.
#60 Anonymous on 2010-11-19 01:40
Gail, you said:
"You acknowledge that the things Fr. Elias spoke of were indeed possible and do happen, but then discount what he says because "most of the time they don't.""
No, I did not discount it. I said, in essence, just because it's claimed, doesn't mean it's true -- that's what I meant. I live 2500 miles away, I have very little means of verifying this myself so I am hoping that Bp Thomas has done so over the past number of months/years, regardless of the political turmoil. As for his involvement, I'm glad he hasn't posted an update on the internet at every exchange with the parish. I would be very very uncomfortable with a hierarch who wanted to live such a "plugged-in" life.
Please understand something -- when I first read this story, I thought much like you -- "what if this is the real thing"? I really want to believe there was something here here. I'm like Fox Mulder -- "I want to believe". I read the books -- I want there to be some spiritual reality in what appears to be a blank middle-class American landscape. I understand how much that desire might overcome one so much as to see something that isn't there. This story reminded me a tiny bit of the Cure d'Ars -- a simple priest in France where big things were happening. Clergy in neighboring villages were absolutely hostile to what was going on in Ars, but this "average" priest just kept hearing confessions. There is no question -- when God is moving, people are inconvenienced. We have a saint here in the US, St John of SF -- he was taken to court by people in his own church -- obviously by people who thought they were doing the right thing and did not believe at all that he was a saint. This tends to be the pattern.
Just so we're clear.
#61 RStevenson on 2010-11-19 02:36
Yo, dude! There's a couple of different stories here -- this guy isn't the guy wearing the cassock -- this is the one making comments on this here website. The other guy wearing the cassock is a different story. I know -- it's like a Russian novel but at least in those they have the major characters outlined in the beginning.
#62 Anonymous on 2010-11-19 02:43
I do repsect Fr. Patrick very much. However, it does seem to be parochialism trumping catholicity.
#63 Antionymous on 2010-11-19 04:37
"Is there a list somewhere that I can add my name to, to request excommunication? I’ll say whatever is necessary."
Mr Dalrymple, Mr Sanders: I think you can just quietly walk away. If you believe excommunication is an answer to this sorry series of events, I suspect you can not really be said to be Orthodox Christians.
#64 ahem on 2010-11-19 07:27
Yes, Met. +Philip has made that the only option for a priest since all clergy associations have been dissolved.
With all due respect, perhaps us lowly laity would not have to second guess his decisions if perhaps there was a Synod to that for him.
No accountability from his brother Bishops= a disgruntled laity....who'd a thunk it.
#65 CJ7 on 2010-11-19 07:37
Not "repented" in this sense probably means that this poor man did not have $200 to send to Englewood to be reinstated to communion. Repentance costs in this Archdiocese!
#66 Delegate #1 on 2010-11-19 08:18
I was being ironic...maybe too subtle. The Antiochian bishops are in reality more like deans than bishops, but they get to pretend they're real bishops by putting on all the fancy duds.
#67 Morton on 2010-11-19 08:47
Like anyone who turns the other cheek, Jerry, I ran a measure of risk by treating your person respectfully and addressing your question honestly.
Receiving a gratuitous public insult for this effort, I must now leave you on your own.
#68 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-11-19 09:53
I appreciated your response and thought it was reasonable. We are in confusing circumstances. I have, however, become aware of a climate of fear in the archdiocese. I think the general confusion augments this. We ought to fear God, not man, and the current situation does not mean that we are free to dispense with respect. If I might posit a theory, I think what some, including myself, would like to see is not something so much lacking in the priests as it is in the higher church administration of the archdiocese and patriarchate. I do not know that it is fair to expect parish priests to speak out for these things (accountability, transparency, and responsibility), given the circumstances, but I would hope that those who do ask for such things respectfully would be heard and not dealt with unjustly.
#69 Eric Peterson on 2010-11-19 13:51
Please, brothers! Have a care for your souls. We should not desire such things. If it should happen through a miscarriage of justice, that is one thing. But to try to provoke it to prove a point is a sign of pride. Or so it seems to me. Please, don't allow frustration to move you to despair. God is in control. He knows everything that is going on and He is zealous and jealous for His Church. We commend ourselves and one another to Him, Who alone is just and merciful.
#70 Eric Peterson on 2010-11-19 14:00
I like Fox Mulder.
#71 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-19 14:46
Thanks for the brotherly love, man.
#72 Douglas Dalrymple on 2010-11-19 14:58
"As for the case of Fr. Elias, I must honestly say that I cannot (and will not) judge him, not only because it would be inappropriate, but also because I don't know enough about the situation. "
Yes. I am with you on this.
#73 Matt Karnes on 2010-11-19 19:17
Dear Jerry and Antinomius,
You've asked Fr. Pat, and he's given you a reasonable explanation. You may not like it, and it clearly doesn't meet your standards, or with your approval. Let's hope YOUR judge is more merciful.
I'd suggest a better use of your time might be to get your own parish council, the laity, to do something about the current mess.
Like it or not..this is a job for the laity. Having grown up in the GOA, and now in the OCA, i always admired the AOCA for it's constructive works. Now, however, with the greatest challenge for the AOCA since it's inception, I see nothing but bloviating on forums, much which is posted anonymously.
Say what you like about the GOA, but when we had a problem with our archbishop, the laity took care of the problem. Ditto for the OCA.
This is NOT the job of the clergy...if you think it is, you really haven't become Orthodox. We've got a 2000 year tradition in this Church of lay participation and involvement, working in synergy with the clergy and hierarchs. Most of the time it is constructive...but when one side errs, it's the job of the other to bring them back.
That's what's needed now...ACTION on the part of the Antiochian laity...not bloviating, anonymous posting etc...A C T I O N!
And to be honest, badgering good priests like Fr. Pat is the lowest of the low. You go and do what that man does...and then come back and preach to us.
Please forgive me...I do not intend to offend you.
...but it's time to saddle up guys...you get the government you deserve.
Our prayers are with you.
#74 Dean Calvert on 2010-11-19 19:33
Pay no attention to the comments below. You are more Orthodox than these characters hiding behind their anonymous names.
And forget about excommunication...we need courageous committed Orthodox like you.
Organize the laity at YOUR parish...don't waste your time on these forums.
Action is what is needed. Action by the laity.
During the first 1500 years of the church, bishops would be sent out to the parishes...there are instances of the parishes sending them BACK!
That's all we are talking about doing now...exercising the same options.
That's not Protestant...that's Orthodox. A 2000 year tradition of active, engaged laity.
#75 Dean Calvert on 2010-11-19 20:07
Perhaps the fact that this Fr. Elias actually PUBLISHED and CIRCULATED some of the Confessions he had heard from some of this parishioners had something to do with his dismissal. He should have been deposed and defrocked for such a terrible violation of the Holy Mystery of Confession, with the pain and sorrow that it caused for some who had trusted him.
"One day we all will stand before God, and I while I fear the day, I'm pretty confident on these issues."
Yes Mark, that's perfectly correct,on that Fearful Day of Judgement, I'm sure that each one of us will tremble, and we all will remember everything evil that we've done in this world! On that Day we all will remember The Sacrament of Holy Confession,(which we ignored so many times here in the world) and we'll see everything which we suppose to do in this world and never did, because we were busy doing all other kinds of nonsense, instead of taking care of our souls!
But one thing I'm afraid is going to happen then too, and it will certainly not be my problem to take care of, and that is, you Mark Stokoe, will be asked by The Almighty One if all the accusations and charges and talks that you and your friends were posting on your website,represented the Truth and only the Truth, or were just fabrications or personal opinions,to show your protest and also to satisfy your personal revenge on a person who fired you when he was the chancellor of the OCA! Please keep this in mind and meditate on it!
(Editor's note: To quote Romeo: "You jest at scars that never felt a wound." I cannot be motivated by revenge, as you infer, since I was never fired by anybody. As the facts, documents and multiple witnesses who were present at the time will attest, I resigned of my own free will, in protest to RSK's assertion that he had the right to use monies donated to the Youth Department for youth work, for whatever purposes he determined. As I have said before, I was unwilling to defraud my donors, my superiors (such as Bishop Job) my co-workers, the young people of the OCA, and most of all my self, by participating in such a scheme. So I left. And I thank God everday that I did, and so saved what little soul I have left.
That being said, you do yourself no credit by spreading falsehoods when the truth is known by so many.)
Douglas, you have a good parish. (It's a little crowded and could easily be divided into two healthy parishes, but it's good.) The bishops don't visit often. Love Jesus. Love your neighbors. Go to Liturgy. The sins of the bishops do not change the nature of the Holy Mysteries.
By now you, and all of us, know what happens to Antiochian priests who comment on blogs: they get removed and barred from even attending any Antiochian church.
But when a priest is merely accused of possessing kiddie porno, he's put out of his regular parish, and is welcomed to commune at the altar of other area churches: http://byztex.blogspot.com/2010/11/some-concerns-over-houston-area-priest.html
Apparently, in the Antiochian archdiocese, it's more important to protect the Metropolitan's ego than it is to safeguard the well-being of children.
(Editor's note: In the USA, a person, even a priest, is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law - church or secular. While the charges against the priest are serious, he has been removed from serving, which is appropriate, until his case is adjudicated by the civil courts. In the event he is found guilty, your complaint would be more valid; as it is, it seems premature to me. Are those accused of crimes not to be allowed to attend liturgy, such that if needed, they may work out their repentence?)
#79 Cordelia on 2010-11-20 14:01
Actually, every ordination to Deacon or Priest has always gone through Inglewood, specifically the Ordination review board overseen by Bishop ANTOUN.
#80 one of those priests flooding the market on 2010-11-20 14:37
Let's just agree that what passes for the modern 'ordained young never married bishop' holds all the rules in high importance and every nuance as exalted until they get in the way of what he wants to do. Then those rules don't exist.
In the old days a seriously misdoing bishop would cause the laity to put the misdoing bishop on a boat up the Crimea out of town and gone.
We all know plenty of serious folk in the AOA. When a person who has contributed so much like Charles Ajalat sees his only option to keep his seld respect is to leave you know that a very sober plan leading to a viable future would get serious support from sober and dedicated people.
Even if as some say this dumped priest is 'a flake'-- he, like you and like me -- is one of OUR flakes. We can and should have done better. I've thought on more than one occasion of leading a very quiet but serious team of people who make it their business to try to craft some kind of future for those who need a life after the priesthood hasn't worked out.
If we can ignore and make up rules as we go along, well it might not be so long before more than the ordained young never married feel it just fine to also use that method. This while serious young people look at our shenanigans and decide the church of their non-ethnically orthodox spouse is a much better choice.
#81 Harry Coin on 2010-11-20 15:26
Father, bless! With respect, based on your statements, if the opinion is expressed only to the congregation, then why do you post here?
(It sounds sarcastic, but it's a serious question).
Dn. Marty Watt
#82 Dn. Marty Watt on 2010-11-20 19:26
The Second Canon of the First Ecumenical Councils provides some insight over governance. First, the "diocese" was a Roman unit of government A diocese covered a lot of territory - several provinces were included in a diocese.
The Second Canon says:
The bishops are not to go beyond their dioceses to churches lying outside their bounds, nor bring confusion on the churches; but let the Bishop of Alexandria, according to the canons, alone administer the affairs of Egypt; and let the bishops of the East manage the East alone, l l l and let the bishops of the Asian Diocese (modern day western Turkey) administer the Asian affairs only; and the Pontic bishops only Pontic matters; and the Thracian bishops only Thracian affairs. And let not bishops go beyond their dioceses for ordination or any other ecclesiastical ministrations, unless they be invited. And the aforesaid canon concerning dioceses being observed, it is evident that the synod of every province will administer [only] the affairs of that particular province, as was decreed at Nicea [in Canon VI].
So - we can see that synods governed provinces. There were multiple bishops in a diocese (the words in the Greek are plural). Bishops were allowed outside their city, with the implication that the local synod would have to agree. It is not clear that synods consisted of Bishops only, as they do today, or if they were the council of Presbyters headed by a Bishop.
Either way, the Bishops lived very close to their flocks. Likely close enough that the respect of the office would have to be maintained by personal sanctity. People could see how the Bishop lived, on a daily basis. How could a Bishop shepherd his flock from afar?
In later times, the synod of the provinces came to be subdivided further, into metropolises. The local synods were headed by the Bishop of the Metropolis, who was styled a "Metropolitan Archbishop", or as we call them today, Metropolitans. In the Greek usage, a Metropolitan is typically under an Archbishop, while in the Slavic usage, a Metropolitan is a higher honorific than an Archbishop. The titles didn't initially provide any authority other than the presidency or chairmanship of the Synods. Authority in the Eastern Church still resided in the collective consensus, not in a specific title or personage.
In the US, because Bishops had oversight based on ethnicity rather than geography, the flocks are more widely dispersed and the bishops have a more difficult time in governing. To compare, the Roman Catholics have 177 dioceses grouped into approximately 35 metropolitan provinces. So, they have 177 bishops - the actual number is higher because they do have auxiliaries. The Province of Louisville, for example, covers 7 dioceses, four in Kentucky and three in Tennessee.
The Orthodox in the US (based on the Episcopal Assembly total) have slightly over 60 bishops. So, if we were governed by geography, as the tradition holds, we would have a bishop for each state, at a minimum, and several states (New York, California, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, for example) might have multiple bishops in that state, one in each major city ("metropolis").
In Greece, for example, there are 77 dioceses for a population of 11 million, or a diocese for every 143,000 people (approximately). If you kept the same ratio, Russia has approximately 160 dioceses and slightly over 200 bishops. The ratio is a diocese for every 780,000 people in the Church.
I hope this is helpful.
Dn. Marty Watt
#83 Dn. Marty Watt on 2010-11-20 20:16
Yes,St.John was persecuted by some of his brother bishops,the future Metropolitan Vitaly among them.One of the Saint's defenders was the Serbian Bishop Sava,who was Archbishop Vitaly's Vicar for Western Canada.Bishop Sava was forced to retire the year before his repose in 1973.When some monks asked Bishop Sava why he had to endure persecution from his brother bishops,he merely pointed his finger upwards,
#84 Archpriest Andrei Alexiev on 2010-11-21 14:29
I think that I can shed some light on this for you. I am not being rude but direct.
THERE IS ONLY ONE KING ONE RULE OBEY
#85 anoymous for now on 2010-11-21 18:49
No, only Metropolitan +Philip's actions which are perceived as wrong are criticized--plain violations of the Holy Canons he swore to uphold at his consecration, refusal to implement or even permit modern standards of financial accountability within the Archdiocese, modifying decisions of the Holy Synod of Antioch before presenting them to the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese, and wielding his archepiscopal authority not as a Father in Christ, but in ways that at least appear to be taking vengeance on those who oppose him even by questioning his judgment.
No one here has spoken any ill of his healing the Toledo-New York schism. No one takes issue with the Metropolitan's founding of the St. Stephen's Course so that even many laymen and folks in minor orders in the Archdiocese have a theological education better than most priests in the Old Country (a characterization made by the priest of a parish in the Diocese of Charleston I attended while on sabbatical). Some have questioned his motives for it, but none have objected to the reception of the EOM into the Church. No one takes issue with his policy of fully funding seminarians' education, even if we do object to his claim that having done so buys their absolute loyalty to him personally--after all it is the money of the faithful that pays their education, of which +Philip is but the fiduciary, not the owner.
Those of us who object on the basis of the Holy Canons to the purported dethronement of our bishops are, in fact, defending Metropolitan +Philip's crowning achievement--the Self-Rule Constitution, which would have the Archdiocese governed according to the canons, with its own proper Holy Synod to which all of its bishops, the Metropolitan himself included, would be answerable, according to the principle of Orthodox ecclesiology that there are no "bishops of bishops", that bishops answer to synods of bishops.
Ironically we have to defend it against the Metropolitan himself. For the moment it was promulgated by the Holy Synod, he began to undermine it, presenting a modified constitution for ratification by the Archdiocesan Convention, so that the Archdiocese could not adopt the Constitution presented by the Holy Synod of Antioch. And he continues to this day, wheedling reversals out of the Synod, which, when the official Arabic doesn't quite give him all he wants he or his faction on the synod supplement with English not-quite translations digitally cut and pasted over the Synod's signatures.
As you are indeed a "Real son of Antioch", you ought to be distressed by the ways in which Metropolitan +Philip is disobedient to the Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch and All the East, and the contempt which he shows for the ecclesiology of St. Igantius of Antioch.
Perhaps you need to go back to your roots: if you read Arabic, read the websites of the other Archdioceses of the Patriarchate and the Monasteries in Lebanon and Syria. If you don't,the blog Notes on Arab Orthodoxy provides translations, mostly of edifying homilies and articles from the Church of Antioch back in the Old Country, but also of news bearing on this Archdiocese.
#86 DNY on 2010-11-21 22:47
Perhaps Messrs. Dalrymple and Sanders are of the opinion that Metropolitan +Philip's contempt for Orthodox ecclesiology--setting himself up as a "bishop of bishops"--amounts to heresy and are seeking the honor of being pronounced excommunicate by an heretic.
Many of the saints had that honor.
For my own part, I have characterized the argumentation in support of the need for "unity" by overthrowing the normalization of Orthodox canonical order represented by the Self-Rule Constitution as ecclesiological heresy of the same sort as the arguments in support of the Latin papacy, so, though I'm not looking for the excommunication list, I am sympathetic to their position, and don't think it means they are not Orthodox.
#87 DNY on 2010-11-21 22:55
I did some investigating and you were right on the money (figuratively and literally), Delegate #1. I was blown away to learn there is a "penance tax" and apparently, the man Bishop Thomas spoke about, doesn't have the bucks to pay up. As a result, they've labeled him "unrepentant" and not in good canonical standing with the Archdiocese. - Profiting from someone's failings seems positively obscene to me. What happened to "go and sin no more?" These days, following Christ's example will get you kicked out of the Church.
Bishop Thomas was mistaken about Father Elias' relationship to this prophetic layman, as well. He is NOT Father Elias' confessor. Father Elias receives absolution from a priest. The "spiritual guidance" Father Elias alluded to was leaning the discipline of quieting the will, which is this man's gift. No easy feat. - "Our mind, which is normally dispersed abroad among a wide variety of thoughts and ideas, must be 'unified." it must be brought from multiplicity to simplicity and emptiness, from 'diversity' to 'scantiness.' It must be stripped naked of every mental picture and intellectual concept, until it is conscious of nothing save the presence of the invisible and incomprehensible God." (Igumen Chariton, The Art of Prayer)
So to summarize, the layman is not Father Elias' confessor and he is not unrepentant. Shame on Bishop Thomas for sullying the name of a disabled man who does not have the means to pay off the Archdiocese, and dismissing a good priest who chose to overlook such nonsense.
(Editor's note: This is a new one for me: what is a "penance" tax? Can anybody else please explain this practice, if it truly exists? )
#88 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-22 03:14
Actually, I agree with most of what you have said in both of your posts above with one slight exception. Expecting our clerics to lead from the front and not cower behind the skirts of their 'congregations' is not asking too much. Sorry - but I am not buying Fr. Reardon's excuse - he certainly had no problem dissing Fr. Elias in public without regard to 'harming Christ's church,' etc. Respect for clergy (and anyone else in the church) is earned by example, not pious words tailored to the audience (nor by the episcopalian monkey-suit one wears). End of story.
As for laity steeping up, you're spot-on. That's why I now sign my name and am preparing tri-fold informational pamphlets for distribution at my parish and all other Antiochian parishes in my vicinity. (Windshield & windshield-wipers are wonderful things for the dissemination of information.) The first pamphlet is completed (it is a reprint of the reflection "The Myth Ends") and if anyone would like a PDF copy to print & photocopy for distribution in their area, please contact me at: jpsanders64-at-gmail-dot-com (I'll send it and others as they are completed as email attachments).
So Dean, you up for it? Just because you're OCA doesn't mean you can't visit the parking lot of your local Antiochian church some Sunday. (And before anyone starts ranting about stepping over jurisdictional lines - get over it - we are one faith and our Archdiocese needs all the help it can get at the moment.)
#89 Jerry 'Isaac' Sanders on 2010-11-22 08:00
Now, that's quite an accusation to make, especially publicly on a forum such as this. Do you have actual evidence to back it up? If so, has this been presented to Bp. Thomas and/or Met. Philip? And if not, why not?
(Editor's note: The accusations are Fr. Touma's not mine, and indeed, Fr. Touma makes it clear he is "accusing" no one. I just reported what he posted.
As for evidence, the actual jpeg is posted for all to read - the signatures are clearly visible. Fr. Touma says three Metropolitan's, all unnamed, claimed they did not sign such a document. On the face of it, since there is no official english translation published by the Patriarchate, but only the Arabic, where did the English translation with all those signatures come from? I think Fr. Touma, and his three unnamed Metropolitans, owe us all more information.
I think you may reasonably assume the Metropolitan knows. Bad news travels fast, alas.)
#90 JM on 2010-11-22 08:24
Fr. Elias has actually referred to "the disabled man" (which, in fact, he is) as his confessor and spiritual father, to whom he is under obedience. The disabled man has referred to Fr. Elias as his "spiritual son", under obedience to him. I, personally, have no actual knowledge as to who, if anyone, was granting absolution to Fr. Elias. At this stage, it's probably a moot point, anyway.
Some people know some things. Other people know other things. Many people make assumptions. Few people actually know the facts. And even those people sometimes obfuscate those facts or just plain choose to ignore them. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is much here that has gone unreported, for very good reason, and much that doesn't meet the eye. It really behooves everyone to be cautious about what they say and about what they think they know.
#91 JM on 2010-11-22 08:35
In response to your question on "what is a penance tax" and does it exist? My experience is emphatically yes.
Not so long ago, my ex-spouse left me and ran off with his/her girlfriend/boyfriend (I am being anonymous and gender-neutral to protect privacy, as this was a very difficult and horrible time in my life). Yes, even for us Orthodox Christian Americans who "never get divorced," this does even happen to us.
Anyway, I sought counsel from a local Antiochian Orthodox priest who is known as a good counselor, and he is good (I do not worship at an Antiochian church however).
In the course of counseling, he did tell me that if I was in the AOANA and got divorced, even though it was my spouse who had left me and did not want to try to salvage our marriage, in the AOANA I would have to pay $500 at some point to be reinstated to holy communion after the divorce.
I was shocked. But yes, apparently this $500 is the AOANA tax for getting a divorce. I cannot say if it is Archdiocese-wide, but the impression that I got from this priest is that it is an Archdiocese-wide. Who knows, maybe because of inflation the tax has since gone up?
I left that counseling session praying to God for strength to get me through the horrible time of the divorce, and also thanking Him that I was not worshipping in the AOANA. My own church jurisdiction has no such ridiculous and un-Christian tax, thank God.
Anonymous for privacy sake
#92 Anonymous on 2010-11-22 08:58
"Penance tax" is new to me, too. When I was a member of the Antiochian jurisdiction, many years ago, I was counseled to divorce a brutal spouse who repeatedly assaulted me, eventually with intent to kill. Nobody ever mentioned a ludicrous outcome such as purchasing access to Holy Communion. The technical term for that is "simony".
#93 Also anonymous for justifiable cause on 2010-11-22 09:54
I have been saying it for a year now---Follow the Money!
The "Penance tax" as someone here put it is a fee that Englewood collects when reinstating someone to communion after a divorce, I guess it is now $500 according the the previous poster, inflation I guess.
This money along with food for the hungry, and ALL certificates (baptismal, chrismation, marriage cost $$$$ (By the way they don't charge the dead man for a funeral, difficulty with collections I imagine)
A professional Audit would clear this up and we would see where all this sacrament money went.
#94 Delegate #1 on 2010-11-22 09:58
Friends of mine were also recently taxed. I did not know of it before, but it did not surprise me. Mind you, that's $500 each. I guess it's a cheap price to pay for a spouse wanting to engage in serial polygamy, but isn't it equally unseemly to tax the victims of bad marital situations?
How is this tax accounted on the books of the Archdiocese?
On a related topic, how are the Order of St. Ignatius pledges accounted for? There's many documents online about the order's business, but I did not find an income and expense report. Does that exist? I truly hope so.
What about Food for Hungry people donations? Has an there been any better news on the accounting for that?
This is "stewardship season" in the AOCANA. We hear about giving and tithing money, time, and talent as our individual responsibility, but we don't ever get the sermon on how accountability, honesty, and transparency is also required on the part of the leadership and how that's managed.
#95 MWP on 2010-11-22 10:04
Jerry writes: "I am not buying Fr. Reardon's excuse - he certainly had no problem dissing Fr. Elias in public."
Not true, not even slightly.
I wrote only---and verbatim—"When I read Father Elias' two messages on ocanews.org, lots of red flags went up and many alarms sounded."
This observation suggested not the slightest criticism of Father Elias. I did not come within a country mile of it. I simply said that his two messages caused red flags to rise and alarms to sound.
I explained this comment no further. I steadfastly refrained from making any judgment whatever.
In the ensuing days, more than a dozen people on this blog site expressed similar dismay and concern about the content of Father Elias's two messages.
How is it, then, that I alone---of all these correspondents---was accused of "dissing Fr. Elias in public"?
My observation expressed not a single syllable of criticism of Father Elias. Jerry Sanders falsely accused me.
I gave this young man a second chance to withdraw this criticism. I turned the other cheek and treated him with a politeness and respect beyond his obvious deserts.
Now, for the third time, he repeats the identical calumny.
#96 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-11-22 10:20
Also anonymous writes: "'Penance tax' is new to me, too."
One suspects a misunderstanding here.
It may be our correspondent refers to the normal fee for the official paperwork involved in securing a divorced person's restoration to the Sacraments.
If this is the case, our correspondent has a point: I conjecture that this fee is rather commonly misunderstood.
The peril of such misunderstanding does pose a pastoral problem, perhaps even a danger of scandal. Anytime money is associated with the Sacraments, such a risk does exist.
This is the reason why, during my two decades as a priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese, I have always borne that expense from my own pocket. I never want it to appear---even to the most robust conscience---that Sacraments can be purchased.
If memory serves, however, that fee for the official paperwork was nowhere near $500.
#97 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-11-22 12:45
So, where IS this jpeg for all to see? Does it actually show some statement by Fr. Elias reproducing or commenting on confessions made by his parishioners? Are parishioners actually named?
#98 JM on 2010-11-22 14:30
This post is to Father Patrick Reardon regarding comments he made on 11/18/10.
Re: "I owe no such communications to the folks on this blog site, where a general and often angry buzzing makes it nearly impossible to discern the difference between a bee and a wasp."
You THANKED a man for speaking openly about the sins of another! He said: "As for his parish council president (the so-called "prophet"), he was already excommunicated! He was divorced and had not repented, and so he was not eligible either to receive the sacraments or to serve on the parish council. (This "prophet" even offered the bishop, when he visited, to become one of his "disciples" along with Fr. Elias)!!!" If anyone is guilty of "angry buzzing," it's this man.
Re: "In spite of all the raw nonsense about the Antiochian clergy living in constant fear of retaliation from Englewood . . ."
Are you denying that people live in fear? If so, how would you explain the following exchange we had back in August 2009:
ME: It doesn't surprise me that people would be afraid to give their names. . ."
YOU: It does not surprise me either. I have been very careful not to criticize these folks.
Re: "In particular, I fear God's just retribution for anything I might do or say that would being harm to His Church. . . "
And what about what you DON'T do or say? I specifically remember this line from your Pastoral Ponderings: "As I mentioned, this truth about repentance pertains, not only to the bad things we have done, but also to the required good things we have failed to do."
Forgive me, Father, but I sense that you have been walking a tightrope. Either what's happening in our Archdiocese is a problem or it isn't. Is it right that felons are appointed by MP to serve on our Board or that he allowed forgeries to be posted on our website or that he threatens people and then retaliates or that he demoted our bishops and then transferred YOUR Bishop to a part of the country that would literally make him sick, etc. etc. etc.? If this is not right, don't you think God expects you to use your voice to stop it? If your loyalty is to God, then condemn ungodly behavior whenever and wherever you have the opportunity. You don't stop being a priest outside your congregation.
(Editor's note: While Fr. Pat is more than capable for explaining his positions, I think, Gail, you are being a bit unfair and unreasonable to ask a man, whom you admit is walking a tightrope, to jump into the air without a net, to make your point. Rather than focus on the man on the tightrope, which is great entertainment, why not focus on the real issue: where is the damn net? I might suggest that if the clergy and laity of the Archdiocese are in turmoil and unhappy, and wish to change something, a good start is probably not the Synod in Damascus, but would be establishing an independent, fullly vested, including housing, pension plan for their priests like the GOA and OCA both have. Think about it.)
#99 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-22 15:06
I would not begrudge Father Stephen his repentance, Mark. What bothers me is that Father Stephen gets the benefit of the doubt and the privilege of communing at the parish of his choice, while the other priests were drummed out of the Archdiocese without any kind of spiritual trial or appeal of the Metropolitan's summary and unilateral decision.
Being barred from Antiochian parishes, perhaps they can go to an OCA/GOARCH parish instead, yes, but imagine if this were back in the old country and there was only one jurisdiction to choose from?
Not only that, but the crime Father Stephen is accused of is far more serious and devastating than simply puncturing the Metropolitan's ego.
(Editor's note: I am not begruding him his repentence in any way. I am suggesting that by fighting the charges, he obviously feels he has nothing to repent of, and given our legal system, we must assume he is innocent until proven guilty. Other than that, I totally agree with you; the consequences seem disproportionate to the offense. Of course, that presupposes which is worse: offending a child, or offending a bishop. In actual fact, I think if you check the canons, you will see the punishment for the former is often far less ecclesiastically than the latter. Go figure. Then again, Jesus had something to say about the punishment he will mete to those who offend children.... But as you infer, our goal should be repentence, not punishment.)
#100 Cordelia on 2010-11-22 15:12
I went directly to Father Elias to clarify the matter. He confesses to, and receives absolution from, a priest. He has given me permission to post this information to quiet the fears of those who misunderstood his comments.
#101 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-22 15:17
Really, I’m not interested in the question of heresy. It’s just that Met Philip (along with others in the hierarchy) seems to be a fraud and probably a criminal. If he were to excommunicate me it would make it easier to leave the archdiocese (we’re fond of our local parish, but don’t want to support a criminal organization). I just want to be put out of my misery... At least “ahem” is willing to personally excommunicate me. If only those in power were so generous.
#102 Douglas Dalrymple on 2010-11-22 15:49
I once questioned this practice at the highest levels. I was told that here in America, people don't understand repentance. They only understand repentance if it impacts their pocket book. There you have it!
#103 Anonymous on 2010-11-22 16:03
I think JM was referring to Archbishop Lazar's accusations that Fr. Elias broke the seal of confession, and asking for proof in that regard. I don't think JM was referring to any (rightly or wrongly construed) allegations of yours or Fr. Touma's about the possible forgery.
(Editor's note: My mistake. Sorry.)
#104 Cordelia on 2010-11-22 17:02
Since I am paying for the Moretti family's Thanksgiving dinner I think I would know if Father Moretti has a job and he does not, please get your facts straight. His family are packing to vacate their home and thankfully a Christian has offered them temporary housing. Also, I think one should be aware that the family has suffered greatly but continue in faith that God will provide and lead them to green pastures. How very sad that this happened to such a wonderful family, shame on those who did not consider this family. God will take care of them I am sure but they have suffered greatly. Leaving their beloved St. George will be so painful. I am having a hard time understanding all this and must control my anger and pray for strength. Lord have mercy.........
#105 Someone who cares deeply on 2010-11-22 18:22
I'm still trying to figure out how a message that took three days to be posted, gets a response on the same day. Scratching my head on that one. and I'm obviously still having problems getting the replies to the right messages...that second message was a response to Doug Dalrymple.
Second, with regard to this: "Expecting our clerics to lead from the front and not cower behind the skirts of their 'congregations' is not asking too much. Sorry - but I am not buying Fr. Reardon's excuse - he certainly had no problem dissing Fr. Elias in public without regard to 'harming Christ's church,' etc. Respect for clergy (and anyone else in the church) is earned by example, not pious words tailored to the audience (nor by the episcopalian monkey-suit one wears). End of story."
I still don't agree...it's not the "end of story," and I bring it up because I think the difference is significant. Let me explain why.
If you will go to this link http://members5.boardhost.com/STANDREWHOUSE/msg/1290480174.html you will find a number of articles from the OCL book "Spiritual Renewal" which was published a number of years ago. You can access most of the book online at the OCL website, but you need to get a password.
I post it because I'm sensing that many in the AOCA, to my shock to be honest, seem trapped in some sort of "visitor's mode"...a mode which appears to prevent them from taking their rightful place as Orthodox laity....that is, the ROYAL PRIESTHOOD. It's particularly striking to me, who grew up as a cradle GOA, and who always looked up to the spiritual maturity and knowledge of the AOCA laity.
What I'm realizing is that while we "reverts" (what i call cradle 2nd and 3rd gen cradle Orthodox who have had our faith reintroduced and reignited) may be pretty ignorant on a lot of theological levels, our experience dealing with the machinations of the Old World mentalities in our jurisdictions are completely different than yours. We grew up in these jurisdictions, sitting at the feet of older ethnics (some incredible Greeks in my case), who both understood their faith, as well as their role in it. They had none of the hesitation that I sense in the AOCA, knew that they were full partners in the "symphony" of the hierarchs, clergy and laity, and clearly understood their role as a guardian of the faith. I grew up watching some of these incredible men, men who built the GOA in this country, challenge archbishops and even patriarchs on a regular basis. I still remember Abp Iakovos, recalling the names of some of those exceptional men at a meeting in Detroit.
The AOCA laity, on the other hand, seems to want to be "led"...your own comment betrays this belief. To be honest, this stands in stark contrast with my belief and my reading of history.
During the Council of Florence, during one of the debates, the emperor turned to the patriarch and asked, "Why are all my smartest theologians my LAY theologians?" When the emperor and hierarchs returned from the Council of Florence, the laity shunned those churches which supported the union...right up to the fall of C'nople in 1453. When Isidore, Metropolitan of Russia, showed up in Kiev and announced the union, the Grand Prince THREW HIM IN JAIL, and called his synod together to elect one of their own, essentially declaring independence. These are only a few of hundreds of examples of LAY participation in the church....we have a 2000 year history of this - enlightened, engaged laity.
So, when you talk about "clerics leading"...I'm sitting here scratching my head. Sure, they have a job...but so do we. And our job does not depend on clergy leading us..at least not in my opinion. And in this particular issue, we are the NATURAL LEADERS, if for no other reason than we are much more untouchable than our priests.
That said, while my leaflet distributing days have been over for 20 years, I'll gladly help you in plenty of other ways. Contact Mark Stokoe...he has my email, and write me.
To be honest, I'm thrilled to see someone doing something. You guys need to set up a national network...FAST. You are going to find the same thing we did in the GOA...the stories don't change, only the zip codes do. You will find people all over the country wrestling with EXACTLY the same issues, all reinventing the wheel.
That's really no longer necessary in 20th century America....much to the chagrin of these Old World kleptocrats...LOL
(Editor's note: Busted. It took three days, Dean, because, well, I had to got to the lake for the weekend to make some repairs on the cottage, and there is no internet there. But I promise to go to liturgy this Sunday, really, no really.)
#106 Dean Calvert on 2010-11-22 20:27
Very, very interesting, especially in light of the fact that I heard, from his own mouth that he cofesses (or used to confess) to the disabled man. And that I heard from the mouth of the disabled man, that he was Fr. Elias' confessor, and spiritual father in the strict, historical sense of that term. I understand that he is now forbidden to do so. But who, except himself, is to stop him?
I am glad to hear, however, that he was receiving absolution from a priest and now confesses to him as well.
#107 JM on 2010-11-23 08:12
I never suggested he wasn't capable, Mark. In fact I think he is quite capable. And I'm not going after him for sport. I'm actually quite fond of the man, but I'm also genuinely frustrated by his responses and the total lack of response by other members of the clergy. We're ALL jumping into the air without a net and there are very real consequences. It's the nature of the beast, but if the clergy doesn't start pulling together and PROVIDE the net, the brave ones will be picked off one by one, and frankly that's unconscionable. - How can the clergy establish an independent, fully vested pension plan for their priests when #9 (all fund raising activities and/or solicitations must be conducted through the Archdiocese) and #17 (all “Presbyters Council” as they may exist, should be immediately dissolved) of MP's 18 Directives prohibit this kind of thing? Since Metropolitan Philip uses the retirement fund as a way of controlling the clergy, it's unlikely he would support such a move. - P.S. Not sure why you used bold type in my post. It wasn't my intention to single out a particular point.
(Editor's note: No bold type intended. Where did that come from? Anyway, your points are well taken. As for the pension fund, one wonders how many younger priests will flock to the AOCNA with no pension security, when both the GOA and OCA offer the same? It seems a long-term structural problem that should be addressed. And I agree, the priests should take the lead, supported by their people. I can't imagine why anyone would be against securing pensions for our clergy. Nor can I imagine the Metropolitan being opposed. Indeed, since he has millions, his words, not mine, I can't think of a more wonderful way to ensure any "legacy" than fund the initial set-up, thereby eliminating any problem with the costs being associated with parishes that may be struggling in these hard economic times. )
#108 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-23 09:35
Well, if you are asking for excommunication, then you'd better hope the bishop who excommunicates you is an heretic and not merely a venial or even truly bad man. Other Orthodox bishops are not likely to receive into communion a laymen excommunicated by an Orthodox bishop, even if he is a bad man, but will joyfully (if they are true to their office) receive one excommunicated by an heretic.
If it's not heresy, better to go quietly as "ahem" says, and not seek excommunication.
#109 DNY on 2010-11-23 09:50
In light of Archbishop Lazar's posting above about Fr. Elias breaking the seal of confession, and in light of what some parishioners may have experienced at St. James, perhaps the following website would be helpful to some: www.pokrov.org.
Please note: I offer this as a possible resource *only*, and make and imply no accusations or allegations of any kind against anyone.
#110 GDB on 2010-11-23 10:33
Dean, hi -
What's your assessment of the progress that's made in GOA governance since Ligoneer?
#111 MWP on 2010-11-23 10:53
I specifically asked about him with the intention of helping him and was told that because he has an outside job, he is fine for now. Since this is not the case, please tell me where to send a check. - I am very sorry for what you are going through. It must be incredibly painful.
#112 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-23 13:08
Dear Mark, I wasn't suggesting you were denying Father Stephen a chance to repent, I was just saying that I wasn't denying him a chance to repent, myself, in complaining about the comparatively light treatment given to him versus the treatment of Fr. David and Fr. Elias. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
As for the applications of canons, I don't have a copy of the Rudder handy, but I would hope that sexual impropriety, a failure of chastity, would be taken more seriously than what, at most, amounts to a simple disagreement with one's bishop.
One could argue that perhaps Fr. Elias insulted Metropolitan Philip by comparing him to an abusive father, but to my knowledge, Fr. David did no such thing by simply openly professing his admiration for Bishop Mark.
Furthermore, in the case of Fr. David and Fr. Elias, the offended party is not even their true bishop, but a usurper who drove away their bishop. I would think that would take away a lot of Met. Philip's canonical standing for punishing them.
(Editor's note: Canons are tricky things, reflecting both the wisdom of the Church and the times and cultures they were written in. They are not "The rules of the Church". For example, it always amazed me that in the Rudder, for example, a monastic having improper relations with a goat was less punishable than relations with a woman. That may have been the case in 11th century Greece, but one imagines that is not the case these days. So reading such volumes is not always very helpful, or instructive, and should be done with great care and guidance.)
#113 Cordelia on 2010-11-23 14:27
I am very much surprised that no one has yet commented on what Archbishop Lazar wrote in #21 above about Fr. Elias violating the seal of the confessional. I understand that this was in a "book" written by him and circulated to a few "chosen" people. I know of this book but do not have knowledge of its specific contents.
My understanding is that no priest is to ever reveal the contents of anyone’s confession, even if that person remains unnamed. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.
Has everyone become so enamored of Fr. Elias and so intent on demonizing Met. Philip and Bp. Thomas that they are willing to ignore this? Remember, in Bp Thomas' letter to Fr. Elias, he stated, "The reasons for these actions are *numerous*." (my emphasis). I understand that Bp. Thomas, Met. Philip, and at least one or two others have seen the book. If this is correct, and if there were in the book the contents of anyone’s confession, is that not enough, in and of itself, to have warranted Bp. Thomas’ actions?
(Editor's note: Sadly, the turmoil exists because the highlighted reason in the dismissal letter was for internet posting, whatever other unstated "Numerous" reasons there may or may not have been. )
#114 JM on 2010-11-24 08:27
If, as Archbishop +Lazar alleges, Fr. Elias was guilty of breaking the seal of confession, the lack of judgment shown by Metropoltian +Philip and Bishop +Thomas in the letter of dismissal in highlighting not this grievous offense against both the canons and those under his spiritual care, but his online postings, is staggering.
Given the very real opportunity--here I assume Abp. +Lazar's allegations are true--to show himself a good shepherd, acting for the protection of the faithful by properly disciplining a gravely erring priest, instead, Metropolitan +Philip presents himself as disciplining a priest to protect his own person from criticism.
Privately, I am of the opinion that, whether he deserved deposition for breaking the seal of confession or not, whether the miracles he attests are of the Holy Spirit or are really deceits of demons, what Fr. Elias was really disciplined for was allowing his Mission Council to vote to divert his Mission's voluntary contribution from the Archdiocesan coffers to the succor of Fr. David Moretti.
#115 DNY on 2010-11-24 10:32
Well he was still serving in the altar and taking communion, thats why I got disgusted and I was one of the people that left!! maybe he got excommunicated after I left. but all your other comments are perfectly true and sad!!!!!!
#116 Anonymous on 2010-11-24 11:02
I don't know if you know what retrograde movement is...it's an astronomical term, for when planets appear to move backward in the sky...that pretty much covers it.
The OCA has elected a new metropolitan, the AOCA had at least technically declared "self governance" (of course, the actual status is debatable right now)...meanwhile, the GOA, which most people do not realize HAD BEEN AUTONOMOUS according to their first charter, has moved in a retrograde motion ot all the other jurisdictions, and is now essentially a diocese of the Old Country. Anyone doubting this, please see my post "Who Selects Your Bishop? Anyone you know?" at http://members5.boardhost.com/STANDREWHOUSE/msg/1280771028.html - which lays out the documentation for how each jurisdiction selects their bishops.
Bottom line, the strategy of "divide and conquer" which has been utilized by the EP has accomplished it's intended purpose...the GOA now acts like a house divided against itself...and will suffer the same result.
Such a shame...it didn't have to be this way.
In the end, all of these Old World patriarchs went to the same school (and I don't mean Halki)...there is only one solution, and that is a local, autocephalous church...locally elected bishops, sitting in synod.
Hope this answers your question.
#117 Dean Calvert on 2010-11-24 11:28
You must be kidding!
#118 Carl Kraeff on 2010-11-24 12:01
I believe that a priest can divulge a confession in the following situations:
- When he requires help or advice on dealing with a situation. The penitent's name must not be divulged, and identifying details are changed or removed. (This is usually done quietly!)
- When the penitent has given his/her permission.
Sometimes, clergy invited to do a public lecture of some kind will share an example of something that was dealt with in confession, concealing the person's identity AND usually getting his or her permission first.
I also have to agree with what Mark said. If Fr. Elias was guilty of revealing confessions, and of all the other irregularities he has been accused of, then he certainly deserves punishment (and revealing confessions is supposed to get you defrocked, if I remember correctly).
So I have to ask, if all of those other allegations were true, why did the bishop only discipline Fr. Elias after the priest made a blog comment?
#119 Cordelia on 2010-11-24 12:45
Are you suggesting Pokrov posted information on Father Elias, because there is no mention of him on their website? Perhaps you were speaking generically. - I suspect no one responded to Archbishop Lazar's post because he provided no proof. Unsubstantiated allegations tend to be ignored in the wake of real world concerns.
#120 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-24 13:16
Our priest in Worcester has said that it is not forbidden for an Orthodox priest to repeat what he hears during a confession, unlike the Catholic Church which strictly forbids this.
#121 Disgusted in Worcester, MA on 2010-11-24 13:50
It's called sarcasm and overstatement, folks. Jeesh. I swear, if I were to say something like "This whole situation makes me want to put a gun to my head" someone here would reply that it's a sin to commit suicide.
#122 Douglas Dalrymple on 2010-11-24 15:18
You wrote, "It may be our correspondent refers to the normal fee for the official paperwork involved in securing a divorced person's restoration to the Sacraments."
May I ask: is there likewise a normal fee for the official paperwork that is paid when a divorced person is initially barred from the Sacraments? If not, why does only securing a divorced person's restoration necessitate a normal fee for the official paperwork? And, if there is a normal fee for processing the official paperwork for the excommunication, who pays this fee?
#123 Jason Barker on 2010-11-24 22:48
The idea that within the Orthodox Church that a "confession" is sacredly secret is a Roman Catholic aberration! In the early church, all confessions were public. The penitent would stand in the middle of the church and confess to all asking forgiveness of all. The bishop or priest would then assign penance or absolve the penitent of their sins. This practice ended because unscrupulous people would use the confession against the penitent. Private confessions then became the practice due to practicality. The legalistic Roman idea of a confession being "sacredly secret" just isn't Orthodox. It behooves a bishop and/or priest to maintain confidentiality in the confessional so their credibility & trust remain. Also, no one wants to confess if their priest is a blabbermouth. So, get it right. Afterall, in the Kingdom of Heaven all things done in secret will be shouted to all and made public. So repent and ask forgiveness of all!
#124 Anonymous on 2010-11-25 07:56
"Well, if you are asking for excommunication, then you'd better hope the bishop who excommunicates you is an heretic and not merely a venial or even truly bad man. Other Orthodox bishops are not likely to receive into communion a laymen excommunicated by an Orthodox bishop, even if he is a bad man, but will joyfully (if they are true to their office) receive one excommunicated by an heretic."
Funny you should say that.
Actually, we don't know that Fr. Elias did what Archbishop Lazar Puhalo alleges.
Given the Archbishop's checkered past I'd have to see some hard evidence before I'd take any such claims of his seriously. (You'll note that when YOU asked the Archbishop in #21.1 to provide evidence of his allegation he went mute, which speaks volumes to me.)
#126 Heracleides on 2010-11-25 12:14
Well, it seems that our friend Elias Yelovich, depicted by this website as some sort of martyr, has decided to take his miracle and wonder show on the road and joined up with uncanonical Old Calendarists.
#127 Abd'al-MasiH on 2010-11-25 13:48
No, he was married three times(!). The last marriage was outside the Orthodox Church. It was Fr. Elias himself who excommunicated him.
#128 Abd'al-MasiH on 2010-11-25 13:51
My heart is broken
#129 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2010-11-26 09:00
The appropriately named "Disgusted in Worcester" writes:
"Our priest in Worcester has said that it is not forbidden for an Orthodox priest to repeat what he hears during a confession, unlike the Catholic Church which strictly forbids this."
Now, knowing his views on this matter, would you still make confession to him?
#130 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-11-26 09:35
I received confirmation via private email correspondence with Archbp. Lazar about this.
And, by the way, thanks to those posters who corrected me about the issue of confessional confidentiality.
#131 JM on 2010-11-26 09:42
"The legalistic Roman idea of a confession being 'sacredly secret' just isn't Orthodox."
And this sudden declaration is based on . . . ?
Anyway, would anyone make Confession to a priest who holds this view?
#132 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-11-26 09:47
Boy, talk about taking the tiger by the tail! Bruce (Fr.? Elias) just doesn't quit, does he? Well, they are welcome to him (them), and I'm sure Bp. Thomas is just delighted!
#133 JM on 2010-11-26 09:49
So, care to share this "confirmation" (which I assume is actual evidence, not mere hearsay repeated in an email) with the rest of us... or must one join some super-secrert Abp. Lazer fan club?
#134 Heracleides on 2010-11-26 12:20
Abd'al-MasiH asks if we are shocked by the things he continues to reveal to us about Father Elias. I've got to say I am. I'm shocked that a self-purported "Saint and Martyr for Christ" would turn this discussion into vendetta. I sense you do this not because you are a Metropolitan Philip supporter, but because you have your own personal issues with Father Elias. Since I can't know this for a fact, I have to ask, "Am I right?" Has this man offended you in some way or does he just irritate your "Orthodox" sensibilities?
I think we can all agree that Father Elias is not your typical priest. In my opinion, he is a "fool for Christ." He serves the poorest of the poor, cleaning up their excrement and serving them coffee. He believes in miracles and unabashedly acknowledges them. He sees "gifts" in sinners and has the audacity to believe he can benefit from them, even though they aren't packaged in fancy robes. Yes, he is different to the extreme, but his "uniqueness" doesn't excuse Metropolitan Philip's actions. The issues you've raised, however compelling, are not germane to the subject matter. Metropolitan Philip had Bishop Thomas dismiss Father Elias because he dissed him on the Internet. Both the timing of the event and the content of Bishop Thomas' letter make that crystal clear.
#135 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-26 12:29
If by "confirmation," you mean proof, i.e. Archbishop Lazar sent you someone's confessions, wouldn't that make him complicit? In other words, by divulging someone's confessions to you, he would be doing exactly what he found so objectionable in Father Elias.
I don't know Father Elias all that well, but we have spoken and exchanged emails. It is my guess that if he published such a document, he would have first obtained the permission of the individual he wrote about. - Did Archbishop Lazar lead you to believe what was written was improperly obtained? If it was, he had no business forwarding it to you. If it wasn't, his objections are unfounded.
#136 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-26 13:39
There are many priests, some of whom comment here, that I would certainly refrain from making confession to because of sundry moral and ethical shortcomings.
#137 Anonymous on 2010-11-26 14:56
Indeed... but then I seriously doubt Fr. Elias' new archbishop/bishop is any more reprobate (and likely less) than Philip & his troupe of mini-me bishops. Who knows, after a sojourn with the Milan Synod Fr. Elias can, if he plays his cards right, retire as a so-called archbishop with the OCA as did 'Archbishop' Lazar Puhalo.
#138 Anonymous on 2010-11-26 15:11
Could'nt have said it better. Thank you for your clairity in driving to the heart of this and many other matters.
#139 Jerry 'Isaac' Sanders on 2010-11-26 21:13
I'm no saint or martyr, though your apparent ignorance of Arabic does not seem to realize that "Abd'al-MasiH" means simply "servant of Christ," just as "Abd'ullah" means "servant of God" and is how every Arabic-speaking Orthodox Christian introduces himself at the chalice.
Anyway, there is no vendetta here. I did not force Yelovich to attempt to turn his former parish into a cult. You seem to be convinced of his sanctity from what you read on the Internet and what he told you over the phone. But have you spoken with his "prophet," whom he himself excommunicated? Have you spoken with the bishop whom you vilify and assume tyrannical without even the possibility of being reasonable? Have you spoken with the many hurting parishioners left in the wake of this nightmare, many of whom left the parish after years of bring controlled by this man and his shaman?
I have no vendetta, just a desire that the truth be told and made clear. In your frenzy to believe in this man who has so hurt others, have you considered that you may only have a small portion of the facts? Is it not even slightly revealing that this man whom you admire so much has now left the Orthodox Church? Is that what the saints do?
I am indeed close to this situation, and I think I can speak on behalf of others who are, as well: It is time for St. James Mission to heal, and now at last some serious medicine is being applied, after many months of probes and tests by the physician. The infection has shown itself for what it is: alien to the body, which is why it left entirely after the medicine was applied.
It is unfortunate that all of this has coincided with other recent inexplicable actions by the metropolitan, who was only peripherally involved with the case at hand, but this problem with Mr. Yelovich has been going on for years. If I fault Bp. Thomas for anything, it is in being too lenient for too long, for giving Yelovich too many chances. But of course it seems that all bishops are damned by this website no matter what they do.
Let me reiterate that you really do not seem to know what you're talking about. You have only scratched the tiniest surface of this situation. I suggest that if you are really interested in truth and healing, you do more than read on the Internet and believe whatever a schismatic and his false prophet happen to say about themselves.
(Editor's note: Not all bishops, friend. Many bishops, Archbishops, and Metropolitans, living and dead, have been praised here, again and again, by many. I suggest you look again.)
#141 Abd'al-MasiH on 2010-11-27 05:27
"May I ask: is there likewise a normal fee for the official paperwork that is paid when a divorced person is initially barred from the Sacraments? If not, why does only securing a divorced person's restoration necessitate a normal fee for the official paperwork? And, if there is a normal fee for processing the official paperwork for the excommunication, who pays this fee?"
Actually, Jason, there is no paperwork at all in an excommunication. It requires no rescript from a bishop.
There is paperwork involved, however, in the episcopal rescript for a baptism or marriage. There are standard fees for these, but I confess I don't have the figure in my head right now.
Since becoming a priest in the Orthodox Church, I have always paid these fees on my own. Once again, I simply fear any association of a Sacrament with an exchange of money.
#142 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-11-27 09:03
My comment was not meant in any way to be a criticism. This is a ministry of love, and it must take an enormous toll on you. I'm sure that even at $5 per hour, you'd be a wealthy man.
I was just trying to understand the logistics...that's all.
Keep up the great work...and may God bless you for all you do.
#143 Dean Calvert on 2010-11-27 09:33
As a former long-time member of Fr. Elias' parish at St. James, it has been very interesting to observe the exchanges here about him, the hierarchs, and the man that he himself proclaimed to be a "prophet".
Gail Sheppard claims Fr. Elias is a "fool for Christ". I really do not think so, but the final verdict is not in.
She claims he cleaned up the excrement of the homeless people outside the church. This is correct. Someone had to do so, and as he was always the first person to arrive there, frequently with the disabled "prophet" who was physically unable to do that, it only made sense that Fr. Elias would. This does not make him a "fool for Christ".
Fr. Elias would give the homeless people coffee and food. Who among us would not, really? Many of us did so, also. He also gave them money. Many of the parishioners also did so. This, too, does not make him a "fool for Christ".
As Christians, we all believe in miracles and proclaim them daily. Does that make us all "fools for Christ"? I don't think so. I can attest, and would do so before any bishop or metropolitan Ms. Sheppard would care to name, that there is no proof for the miracles and healings Fr. Elias refers to whatsoever. None. Even the people involved were never able to offer anything that could be called "proof". We have only the word of the "prophet", and to a certain degree, Fr. Elias.
Ms. Sheppard--were you there? Week after week after week? Did you experience all the very many strange and wildly dysfunctional events that happened there? Were you criticized and judged, yes, "judged", by Fr. Elias as many of us were? Did you confess to Fr. Elias, and get to hear all about his sins, his stories, and his experiences, rather than short, succinct spiritual advice? Did you hear the guilt-tripping that occurred both publicly and privately on almost a weekly basis? Shouldn't it be the Gospel that convicts us, and not a priest who has said on more than one occasion "If I have to be here, you should be, too."? Were you told that, even though this is a free country, you must read only that spiritual material that Fr. Elias said you should?
Did you personally experience a "miracle" or supposed "healing" at the hands of the "prophet"? Do you know that even the demons can perform miracles and healings? Did you ever wonder why the numbers at St. James, for the most part, remained static, at least until recently when even more people left, some of whom had for a long time been quite close to Fr. Elias and his "prophet"? I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. No? Well then......
Fr. Elias is in many, many ways a good man. He spent much of his time, while working a full-time job, with his parishioners. He gave much of himself. Of this there is no doubt. There is also no doubt that none of that qualifies him for the exalted status of "fool for Christ." Please, let us not get too carried away here! We get that you like him and are, in your own way, attempting to defend him. This is laudable. But you really do need to have your facts straight. And without having been there, and experiencing both sides of the issues, you really do not know what the facts are. Defend him? Yes, by all means, if that is your inclination. Elevate him unilaterally to virtual sainthood? Please, Ms. Sheppard, get real!
Before I even started going to St. James, I heard one person refer to Fr. Elias as "the holiest person I know". After spending a number of years with him, often very close, I know that he is just a good man. Period. With many faults, just like the rest of us. He really is no holier than you or me or the homeless people that he, among others, served. Can't we just leave it at that?!?!?
Fr. Elias did what he did. The bishops did what they did. It is over and done with. Fr. Elias has found a new home, for better or worse, with an uncanonical archdiocese. May God watch over him and his family, and grant them many years.
#144 Anonymous at St. James on 2010-11-27 11:24
I seriously doubt that. But then, who knows? We're all still young, sort of.
#145 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2010-11-27 11:48
There are no fan clubs here, other than the one emerging for Fr. Elias. Why be so nasty??
You are as free as I was to communicate privately with Archbp. Lazar (he provides a link on #21 above, should you wish to do so). When he didn't reply to my posting I emailed him and asked him directly about the matter. Why don't you do the same?
In answer to Gail Sheppard's question below, no he did not send me anyone's confessions or any content that he referred to. He simply confirmed existence of the book, that he, as well as others had received a copy of it. Without coming right out and saying it, he very strongly implied that it contains the contents of confessions. Whether Fr. Elias actually put that in the book, and if he did, whether he had permission to do so or not, I simply don't know.
#146 JM on 2010-11-27 14:43
Please read what I wrote, Gail. I never said that Pokrov said anything about Fr. Elias. The site is for people who are "survivors of abuse in the Orthodox churches". Abuse can take many forms, not just sexual. I offered it only as a possible resource for any of St. James' parishioners who might feel that they were in some way abused there. That's it.
#147 GDB on 2010-11-27 14:55
I looked up your moniker when you first appeared. Wikipedia says "Abd'al-MasiH (or Abda) is a Christian saint and martyr." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abd-al-Masih_%28martyr%29 I apologize for the confusion. You're right. I don't know Arabic.
I am not convinced of anyone's "sanctity" and I never referred to Father Elias as a saint. I said he was a fool for Christ: "According to Christian ideas, 'foolishness' included consistent rejection of worldly cares and imitating Christ, who endured mockery and humiliation from the crowd." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foolishness_for_Christ
Though I have exchanged emails with the man you refer to as a "prophet," I have not spoken to him. It would be most irregular for me to approach Bishop Thomas, but why would I need to? He wrote a letter specifically outlining his reasons for ousting Father Elias and one of those reasons was because of what he posted here. There was nothing "unfortunate" about the timing.
Based on what you said, perhaps Bishop Thomas did what he did with a heavy heart. It was only AFTER Metropolitan Philip got his knickers in a bunch that he was forced to take action. - You are mistaken about the "bishop bashing." Most of us realize what an untenable position they're in.
Perhaps some of the healing that needs to take place is within your own heart, my friend. I do not say this to be insensitive. I wonder if you realize just how angry you sound.
#148 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-27 16:00
Thank you so very much for writing this and putting so much of his and St. James's circumstances into proper perspective. For various reasons not worth going into here, I have personally been very affected by what has happened to Fr. Elias. Your comments have helped bring me out of my 2-day funk. Bless you.
#149 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2010-11-27 19:37
Thank you for your response, Father.
#150 Jason Barker on 2010-11-28 19:27
I never said he was "holy" and no one is getting carried away. I defined what I meant by "fool for Christ" and frankly you just proved my point. He HAS "endured mockery and humiliation from the crowd." Sadly, this particular crowd is from his own parish.
#151 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-28 20:05
I wasn't sure what you meant. Thank you for the clarification.
#152 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-28 20:10
Dear Gail, where in my post did I say you said Fr. Elias was "holy"?
I will state here, though, unequivocally, that Fr. Elias is in no way a fool for Christ. Not by any definition. He is a man with many good qualities. He is a good man, for the most part. He has, unfortunately, just been led astray--just like many others of us at one time or another in our lives.
And that is all I shall say about him or this situation here. We've beaten the dead horse way too much, I think. May God bless you and watch over you, as I'm sure He will Fr. Elias.
#153 Anonymous at St. James on 2010-11-29 15:37
I don't see where you said "holy." My mistake. - I still think Father Elias is a "fool for Christ," if for no other reason than he "foolishly" thought he could stand up to the machinations of Metropolitan Philip and get a way with it. I tried to warn him. - May God bless you, too, my friend. I'm sorry if I offended you in any way.
#154 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-29 16:21
No offense taken, Gail.
Please pray for Fr. Elias, his family, and his friends.
#155 Anonymous at St. James on 2010-11-30 09:51
Since there is no sound at all coming out of this webpage, I wonder if you realize how desperate you yourself "sound." I also wonder how we are supposed to know one another's emotional states via words on a screen.
But since you have judged the hierarchy of the Antiochian Archdiocese and found them wanting, perhaps it is by using this same clairvoyance with which you look into the hearts of fellow posters.
If only you would use this same power to explain how you know all these things about those whose responsibility it is to deal with this situation without actually asking them.
If you must know, though, Bishop Thomas has been working on this situation for many, many months. He was not "forced" to take any action except in the sense that Yelovich himself forced the issue again by refusing to obey the numerous entreaties by his bishop, his dean and other senior clergy to cease his spiritually destructive, controlling behavior. It was a private pastoral matter being taken care of privately, but Yelovich made it into an open one by announcing to the world on this website how he was a worker of miracles.
In any event, the fruits of this deluded priest and his "prophet" are now making themselves more clearly known, even without any displays of miraculous knowledge on your part.....
#156 Abd'al-MasiH on 2010-11-30 09:51
Editor: Those decisions have nothing at all to do with this situation, though I'd be willing to bet that you only have heard a tiny bit of the whole story there, too.
I have to wonder: On what basis do you make the claim to omniscience?
(Editor's note: I have never made claims to omniscience, but I am omnipotent on this site. But seriously, unlike you, I am known, rather than unknown, so people can hold me accountable for my errors of fact. You can just continue to spout, and if mistaken, repost under yet another name....
#157 Abd'al-MasiH on 2010-11-30 10:00
Desperate?? Clairvoyant?? LOL
You are mistaken, my friend. I have no mistrust of the "hierarchy of the Antiochian Archdiocese;" only Metropolitan Philip. Under the right leadership, I would rest quite comfortably with the hierarchy we have in place. - I suggest we wish each other a blessed Advent and put an end to this exchange. It has ceased to be fruitful.
#158 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-30 16:40
I will and thank you.
#159 Gail Sheppard on 2010-11-30 16:42
In case anyone is wondering what has been happening with Fr. David and family, some very generous parishioners who happen to own rental properties in Terre Haute have provided housing for the Moretti’s at no cost for one year. Khouria Dianne is working as a substitute teacher. The children are attending school as usual.
It was assumed that very soon Fr. David would be accepted into the OCA and would assist in serving a semi-local parish until a more permanent solution could be arranged. However, this is not the case. So far, Father's "paperwork" has been lost and then found, and currently Met. Philip refuses to provide the OCA with an "official" canonical release. This is because Met. Philip is making the demand that Fr. David shall never be allowed to serve in any OCA parish within the state of Indiana. Only with this promise from the OCA will Met. Philip release Fr. David. In the mean time Father is in limbo, looking for a secular job, and wearing a cassock all over town.
#160 Still Watching on 2010-12-22 06:14
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