Monday, November 22. 2010
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I laud your forthrightness about jursidictional loyalty, that it is no substitute for loyalty to the Church, to Christ, to the Gospel.
Good people may disagree about how the OCA is to "die" in order that a united Church may appear in the Americas. What concern me now are attempts which seem determined to kill the OCA, to dig its grave and push it in; not that you have advocated this.
Perhaps a better concept is that the OCA and other jurisdictions might ultimately be transformed by the renewing of their minds in Christ Jesus as to what the Church truly is and is called to be, neither an outpost of Old World hegemony and homogeneia nor a bastion of New World exceptionalism and triumphalism.
Otherwise, pride goes before our fall.
Fr John Reeves
#1 Fr John Reeves on 2010-11-22 07:36
Again, the OCA is going NO WHERE! If the "Old Country" Patriarchs formulate their churches in America into ONE autocephalous church with it's own head in America, THEN and ONLY then will the OCA consider a merger with a NEW Autocephalous Church in America. Until then, the OCA and it's autocephaly will remain unchanged - no matter what any bishop wants. It's not a matter of "Jurisdictional Loyalty," but Orthodox Canon Law. "LOCAL CHURCHES ARE UNDER THE RULE OF LOCAL BISHOPS." And thus the OCA is! All those Orthodox Churches under foreign bishops are against canon law! Why would ANY American want to place themselves under foreign bishops who have no clue regarding Orthodoxy in America? WHY? How about those "sleeper agents" from Russia?
#2 Anonymous on 2010-11-22 08:35
"Why would ANY American want to place themselves under foreign bishops who have no clue regarding Orthodoxy in America?"
I can tell you one very good reason; the foreign bishops know about the Orthodox church that Jesus set up. I don't care a hoot how anyone wants to do it 'in America' I want to follow Christ, and godly bishops. I do not care if they sleep in the USA or Europe or wherever.
#3 Anonymous on 2010-11-22 08:49
Some arguments legitimately are bi-directional. It is every bit as accurate, and fair, to note that many, many Orthodox Christian people in the U.S. are "without a clue" concerning Orthodox Christian teaching and practice in countries possessing a long (sometimes of centuries' duration) Orthodox presence. One tires of hearing and reading snooty disdain for Orthodox who live elsewhere, as if the United States were some "Magic Kingdom". (There is a Protestant viewpoint that erroneously asserts that God hand-picked the United States for the salvation of the world.) The Church transcends the human failings of jurisdictions in the U.S. and in other countries. I no more consider myself "U.S. Orthodox" than I consider myself Japanese Orthodox. Attendance at services within a particular jurisdiction is a temporal action incidental to the faith. Of course I hold no "loyalty" to any specific group derived solely from its "country of origin". I am an Orthodox Christian. Period.
#4 Antonia on 2010-11-22 09:04
Your "godly" bishops in foreign countries are only interested in putting their hands in your pocket book. And, if you look closely, most aren't "godly" at all. Nice false front with pomp and ceremony lacking real substance. Why don't you just write a check for 10% of all you own to your favorite "old country" bishop. They'll pray for you, don't ya know!
#5 Anonymous on 2010-11-22 09:31
Alas, Father, I am afraid either this article is mis-titled or the point was missed. It would appear, in my humble estimation, that the question is NOT about whether we should be loyal to Christ (of course we should), but rather, whether we should stay within one jurisdiction when, perhaps as has often been the case in my life, we move from one city with multiple Orthodox churces, to another city with multiple Orthodox churches. Should we then remain loyal to the same jurisdiction as we came from?
The answer should seem simple, but it is one that all too many Orthodox shy away from ... the question of loyalty to one jurisdiction is NOT about our faith in Christ or our committment to His Holy Church. The question is one about culture and ethnicism, pure and simple. In what jurisdiction do we feel we learn and experience the greatest experience of Christ? For most Orthodox, the answer will be simply that they will attempt, whenever possible, to remain in the same jurisdiction they grew up in, not because the presence of Christ is more real in one church than another, but because the traditions, style of music, language, etc. are what they are familiar with.
For converts however, the question may be a bit more complex, because they don't have an Orthodox Church that they were raised in.
I once heard it said that the purpose of the Church is to give the people an experience of Christ and His Kingdom. It IS THE Body of Christ. It doesn't really matter which jurisdiction it happens in, all of them can provide this. But people are different, and what one finds in one place another is unable to find in the same place. This is okay, and it is not a problem. We all need to meet Christ, be indwelt with Christ and his saints, we need to learn and experience and we need to share. If a church needs to have services and sermons in Greek or Russian or Arabic to meet the needs of that congregation, then it should do that. However, one should not complain about nor attend a church where they personally cannot find Christ and an experience of His Living Body.
The problem of course comes when one cannot find a church where this is happening, perhaps because in their community only one Orthodox church exists and that one serves a community that is culturally significantly different. What then? The answers are not easy and frustrations often arise.
#6 Sean O'Clare on 2010-11-22 13:54
Which foreign bishops have you met in person? What concrete proof of your allegations exist for your trashing an entire segment of the Orthodox world? In this country, your words constitute baseless slander.
#7 Anonymous on 2010-11-22 16:20
The church in America cannot obtain legitimacy or canonicity from the Old World where service to worldly powers trumps the Gospel.
The Moscow Patriarchate decries incursions into its territory; while cynically creating schismatic churches on the territory of the martyred dioceses of occupied Georgia. Russian bishops "blessed" the weapons used to murder innocent Orthodox Christians and the missiles used to destroy the Ghvrtaeba Orthodox Cathedral in Nikazi.
Mind you, all of this was not only done openly; but was actually televised in both Russia and Georgia !
09 November 2010, 14:20
Russian Church hopes South Ossetians' wish to have their own canonical clergy will be considered
Moscow, November 9, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate hopes that the problem with canonical status of South Ossetian Orthodox community will be settled through the dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Georgian Orthodox Church taking into account "ardent wish" of the republic citizens to "have their own canonically recognized clergy."
"It's evident that social views, citizen position of this clergy should be inalienable from the choice made by South Ossetian people, inalienable from the processes that take place in South Ossetian society. I think today no one can deny the fact that only such clergy can be accepted by South Ossetian people," head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said at a round table held in the Orthodox Rus exhibition forum.
According to the priest, all Orthodox Christians should care for settling canonical status of clergy and church communities in South Ossetia.
"We hope that considerations of pastoral care, pastoral love to those who are in a difficult condition today will prevail and leaders of the Holy God's Churches will find a way to settle the existing problem," Fr. Vsevolod stressed.
This article provides one more proof of the moral nihilism of the current leadership of the Russian Patriarchate. They propose the creation of an “Ossetian Eparchy” in occupied Samechablo - Tskhinvali to match the schismatic “Abkhaz Eparchy “ they established in occupied Abkhazia. Notice they make no mention of establishing an “Ossetian Eparchy” in North Ossetia! This demonstrates that this latest statement is merely another attempt to attack the legitimate Orthodox Patriarchate of Georgia by the creation of schismatic churches on the heretical phyletistic model. The Moscow Patriarchate again demonstrates its true nature as a servant of Russian Imperialism rather than a servant of Jesus Christ!
In Abkhazia, The Russian Synod created and supported an uncanonical, schismatic "Autonomous Abkhaz Orthodox Eparchy" whose "leader" is the renegade, defrocked Archimandrite Vissarion Aplia. During the invasion of Abkhazia in 1992-1993, Aplia deserted his monastic and ecclesiastical duty of obedience to Metropolitan Daniel. This same Vissarion Aplia participated in the anti- Georgian pogroms, and personally directed the ethnic cleansing of the last legitimate Orthodox clergy from the newly occupied Gali and Kodori districts in 2009. Details of Aplia's crimes can be read here:
This renegade priest unilaterally declared himself the "leader" of the schismatic "Abkhaz Eparchy", established on the territory of, and in the very churches stolen from the legitimate Orthodox Diocese of Sokhumi and Abkhazia. Despite the clearly uncanonical status of this "Eparchy", Russian bishops have not only concelebrated Divine Services with this schismatic priest; but have ordained clergy for his schismatic "Eparchy". The 2008 documentary "Orthodox Occupation" visibly demonstrates the Moscow Patriarchate’s ongoing relationship with the schismatic Abkhaz Eparchy and its renegade pseudo-bishop. In this video, Bishop Panteleimon of Adyghe, not only congratulated Vissarion Aplia as a hero of Orthodoxy; but awarded Aplia with the Order of St Seraphim of Sarov on behalf of the Patriarch of Moscow and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Details of the Abkhaz schism, and the destruction of the 5th century Ghvrtaeba Cathedral by the Russian invaders may be viewed at:
Indeed, the Moscow Patriarchates’ own publications have freely admitted to the Russian Church's ecclesiastical incursion onto the universally recognized dioceses of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate. See the article below from the Russian Patriarchate Monitor at:
Moscow’s propagandists freely admit to the incursion into the dioceses of Sokhumi and Tskhinvali without permission of the legitimate diocesan bishops, although their excuses for those canonical crimes are clearly and demonstrably false. They claim that Metropolitan Daniel of Sokhumi "abandoned" his diocese. In fact, Metropolitan Daniel was driven into exile along with his people during the genocide of 1992-1993. The article printed in the Russian Patriarchal Monitor, clearly shows that the Russian church has embraced the heresy of phyletism, by demanding separate dioceses based on ethnic identity, not territorial integrity as required by the sacred canons.
The action of the Russian Patriarchate are not only cynical and deliberate provocative acts, they are ultimately self-destructive.
Moscow’s adventures in occupied Georgia will prove to be the paradigm for the dismemberment of the Russian Orthodox Church. If the Ossetians (at least the handful remaining in occupied Tskhinvali) are deserving of an independent church, then how can Moscow deny an independent church to the Ukrainians, Belorussians, Estonians, Komi, Yakuts, or the hundreds of other ethnic groups that inhabit the former Soviet space?
It is painfully clear that Patriach Kirill is intent on the destruction of the Orthodox faith and the vivisection from within of the Body of Christ.
Moscow Patriarchate Faces ‘Parade of Sovereignties’ Within Orthodoxy
OCTOBER 21, 2010
Vienna, October 21 – Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s recent meeting with Bartholomew I, the Universal Patriarch of Constantinople, has disturbed many in the Moscow Patriarchate who believe that, despite Minsk’s denials, Belarus is now on the “separatist” road to the establishment of a nationally-based autocephalous Orthodox Church.
But even if those denials are true, church historian Vadim Venediktov writes in the current issue of “NG-Religii,” the Moscow Patriarchate faces a new “parade of church sovereignties” in the former Soviet space, one that he says will ultimately mean there will be as many Orthodox churches as there are countries
At the present time, Venediktov points out, the Moscow Patriarchate officially recognizes and is in communion with 15 autocephalous and four autonomous churches within Orthodoxy around the world. Among the 15 autocephalous churches, nine have patriarchs, including Moscow and Tbilisi on the territory of the former Soviet Union.
The issue of autocephaly has been a highly contentious one because it calls into question the universalism of the church, but over the last 150 years, Venediktov says, Orthodoxy has generally been moving toward the view that “church autocephaly should follow the political independence of the state.”
That idea has its roots in the formation of the autocephalous Orthodox Church in Bulgaria in the 1870s, he continues, but it is far from universally established, as shown by the conflicts between the Greek Orthodox Church and the Constantinople Patriarchate and between the Moscow Patriarchate and Orthodox communities in the former Soviet space.
Among the first of the latter conflicts were those between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Universal Patriarch of Constantinople concerning the subordination of Orthodox sees in Estonia following that country’s recovery of its de facto independence in 1991, a conflict that has made Moscow especially nervous about anything Bartholomew does in its area.
More recently, the Moscow Patriarchate has been confronted with other challenges: In Ukraine, there are several competing patriarchates, only one of which is subordinate to Moscow. And in 2008, the Russian Church was faced with a Hobson’s choice given Moscow’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
On the one hand, the Moscow Patriarchate very much wanted to be supportive of the Kremlin’s foreign policy agenda, but on the other, it was reluctant to recognize the autocephaly or transfer of allegiance of Orthodox bishops in those two republics lest that step under its pretensions in Ukraine and elsewhere in the former Soviet space.
It is a measure of just how serious the Moscow Patriarchate views such threats to its power that Kirill came down on the side of the Church rather than on the side of the Russian state, although it is probable that over time, the political changes there will have religious administrative effects as well.
As Venediktov notes, the recent meeting between Lukashenka and the Universal Patriarch means that Moscow now must deal with “the problem of Belarusian autocephaly,” something that “from the canonical point of view” should be resolved on the basis of the principle that “church autocephaly follows the political independence of states.”
“If Alyaksandr Lukashenka pushes for the church autocephaly of his state, his actions in this case are completely logical and justified,” Venediktov says, “because an independent state ought to have an independent Church” – although Lukashenka and his religious leaders should be talking to the Moscow Patriarchate rather than the Universal one to achieve that.
Such a requirement, the church historian says, reflects the fact that “the autocephaly of the Belarusian Church is possible only with the agreement” of the Orthodox Church that had been its administrative superior, in this case, the Russian Orthodox Church. The same principle holds, Venediktov continues, with regard to the possible autocephaly of Ukrainian Orthodoxy.
“If [Moscow Patriarchate] recognizes that Belarus and Ukraine are independent states, then [it] must offer the Churches of these independent state autocephaly or perhaps autonomy. But if the church leadership does not offer autocephaly to Belarus and Ukraine, this means that [Moscow] doubts the lawfulness of the sovereignty of these states,” Venediktov argues.
And he concludes that despite all the anger about the Lukashenka meeting, “in all probability the Orthodox world is moving to a situation in which in the not distant future there will be just as many autocephalous Churches as there are Orthodox peoples,” not just beyond the borders of the former Soviet space but within them as well.
#8 Francis Frost on 2010-11-22 19:52
Glory to IC XC!
Thanks for your comments and questions, Sean O'Clare. My impression is that we may well agree. The topic was limited to focus on jurisdictionalism, not pastoral needs (which can be met beyond the bounds of any jurisdiction within the Church).
You write: "...the question is... whether we should stay within one jurisdiction when... we move... to another city with multiple Orthodox churches. Should we then remain loyal to the same jurisdiction as we came from?"
Where we are best challenged, edified, and where we can best serve others to the Glory of God is where we need to be. Music and language styles (e.g. You came/Thou didst come) can be overcome easily enough with an openly disposed heart. But, one cannot so simply overcome an unknown language. Yet, to write off a nearby church in favor of a more distant church simply because the closer is in a different jurisdiction, then we potentially can start to move “jurisdiction” in the direction of denomination. (Not that you said that.) Many churches in ethnic jurisdictions use much or all English. Some in the OCA use languages other than that of the broader community. We should give a church a chance.
You also write: "when... only one Orthodox church exists and that one serves a community that is culturally significantly different. What then?"
The earliest Church in Jerusalem had cultural difficulties between Semitic and Hellenic Christians (Acts 6). We have at least two options. 1) Say "amen" and bear it: blossom where we’re (trans?) planted. Immigrants or soldiers stationed overseas have no choice. When stationed in Germany, attend Liturgy in German. When in Rome... In either case, choose to endure, embrace and enjoy foreign language and culture, though you will have a harder task with children. The God of Babel and Pentecost is in the Liturgy with the full cloud of witnesses. (Was it in "The Way of a Pilgrim" where the man was advised to read the Bible when tempted even though he couldn't understand it in Slavonic, because it was holy and the demons understood it and would flee?) 2) Make a long commute. We have parishioners in our little mission who cross a quarter of the state for every service. (Good thing we’re not in Alaska!)
If one has a trust-worthy spiritual father or mother (God forbid another kind!), seek his advice, ideally, even before the situation arises.
I hope that this was helpful.
#9 Anonymous on 2010-11-22 20:41
Fr. John. You advocate balance? Synergy? Your suggestion has been so long ignored that it has become novel once more. Blessings to you.
(Editor's note: Beware. Fr. Reeves is a known radical. Next thing you know he will be advocating transparency and accountability!)
#10 Anon. on 2010-11-22 21:41
I am still a skeptic of the whole "Orthodox Church in America needs to die to make room for the Orthodox Church of America" argument.
(I would also never use the term "loyalty" to describe my "relationship to Christ," perhaps this is a Red State v. Blue State thing. Haha)
While I am also frequently critical of goings-on in the OCA, I guess I am nonetheless what Priest Wojcik would call an "OCA zealot." As a principle, I will always be a member of an OCA parish, and when visiting a parish, I will always attend services at an OCA parish over another 'option.' (When I studied in Europe, I attended parishes of the EP's Western European Exarchate, which appeared more interested in engaging Western European contexts.)
I believe in the vision of an American church laid out by the architects of the OCA, including Frs. Schmemann and Meyendorf. I am unconvinced that this vision will be accomplished through mechanisms like the Episcopal Assembly, or the abdication of our autocephaly.
The mission to establish an Orthodox Church in (and for) America is engrained in the DNA of the OCA. There is no need for it die away, except for reluctance of other jurisdictions to join the OCA, due to their ethnic allegiances or qualms about the OCA's "canonicity" -- concerns which are 100% political, and 0% theological, I might add.
When it comes to establishing an Orthodox Church in (and for) America, there is no need to meet anyone halfway. The OCA is already here, and already striving to do just that.
#11 Nilus on 2010-11-22 23:00
I lived in a city where there used to be only one Orthodox Church which wa sa GOA parish....soon there was a nasty split and an Antiochian parish was formed...I now live in a large city with multiple jurisdictions but I belong to an OCA parish because the service is 100% english...the GOA and Antiochian parishes here are ethnic clubs.the foolishness with Met.Phillip doesn't help either....
#12 STEPHEN on 2010-11-23 02:27
Three cheers to Fr. Bartholomew. He rightly tells us that Orthodoxy in America has to engage America. Old world Orthodoxy certainly has much to teach us, but like the Russians moved away from the Greeks in due course, so must America come into its own in due course. A large part of this transformation will necessitate looking beyond jurisdictional affiliation to forge a clearer vision of living the Gospel in America as an American Orthodox Church.
Foreign bishops (particularly Constantinople) are consumed by foreign concerns, and understandably so. Part of Constantinople's preoccupation is the establishment of international influence, again an understandable development given their subjection to their Muslim overlords. The concerns are always local, no matter how transnational the language explaining a policy might be. We should support Constantinople, but, as Fr. Bartholomew implies, we should not accede to the rule of foreign overlords as they (unfortunately) accede to the rule of the Muslims.
Fr. Bartholomew is implying foreign leadership was a practical necessity in years past, but the circumstances are changing. I don't read his essay as a repudiation of the past nor of the wisdom that Old World Orthodoxy can obviously impart to Americans. But failing to see the weaknesses (and in some cases corruption) of Old World leadership is no different than failing to see the weaknesses and corruption that we too possess. The antidote, as Fr. Bartholomew says, is to look more clearly towards Christ, as well as place we occupy.
#13 Anonymous Priest on 2010-11-23 05:11
The best outcome of the EA is for the American bishops to disengage from overseas control, manipulation and oversight and to self-determine a course toward structuring a canonical American church. If you look at the evolution of the national churches, example after example is that of the local church asserting its own autonomy. We don't need to establish another quasi-imperial patriarchy, either. We need to shape our church governance on the present and future needs of the American church. The synodal mode of operation of church governance is flexible. . Modeling the American church governance upon some foreign foreign paradigm is foolishness. Our American church is not captive to government "aid" and interference as are most of the other Orthodox churches. Do you want to continue to be manipulated by political foreign ambassadors or by foreign dictators and by foreign and local synods who are beholden to these bad actors? The American church is the one most able to be free of such captivity.
May God bless America and our Orthodox bishops, clergy and laity and equip us for our maturity.
#14 MWP on 2010-11-23 05:32
That's EXACTLY how the CHURCH was formed from the beginning! Each separate people and territory established it's own church as set forth by the Holy Apostles. Individual local churches with bishops to run their own churches - THIS IS ORTHODOX! The aberration set up by Rome, that all churches report into her, is just wrong. This idea of consolidating all churches under Moscow or Istanbul is just wrong! The autocephaly of these churches didn't need the approval of Constantinople, Rome or anyone. If they followed the TRUE faith, then they were in Holy Communion with ALL - PERIOD! All countries and separate territories should have their own INDEPENDENT bishops and churches. The Holy Apostles did not set up local churches telling them, "You must be under Rome, Jerusalem or Antioch." Again, an aberration!
#15 Any Mouse on 2010-11-23 08:03
Good points, with which I generally agree. But unfortunately a large segment of the OCA, especially elements of the clergy, do not really like or accept the Schmemann/Meyerdorf vision including apparently our Metropolitan. This vision is seen as too accommodating of the modern world and insufficiently subservient to hierarchical and clerical authority.
On paper, the OCA seemingly has everything required for a healthy North American Orthodox witness. In reality, it suffers, to lesser degree of course, from the same fundamentalist cancer that afflicts much, if not all, of the Orthodox world.
#16 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-11-23 08:42
Thank you Father ... a very nice response and so very appreciated. For years I drove over an hour to attend an Orthodox church ... it's not easy.
#17 Sean O'Clare on 2010-11-23 08:50
I personnally don't believe in the "giving up our autocephaly to be accepted by those who reject our autocephaly." I also was not in favor of SCOBA of being "scraped." Personally I don't have a problem of being a "member of a jurisdiction other than the OCA if I were living in a city where an OCA parish wasn't available, or if a parish in another jurisdiction was more loving and Christ like in her missionary outreach. If each parish, regardless of jurisdiction was more Christ-like and each bishop (or Metropolitan) was concilliar and Christ-like; I believe a united Orthodox Church in the US would be a likely outcome. The bishops in the US (Orthodox) have to be able to come together in a Synod format in order to move forward without the Episcoal Assembly with foreign Patriarchs who have a personal agenda. For example: E P Patriarch Bartholemew agenda is to get the Turks' out of the his archdiocese and to have control over the churches in dispora (North America). When one puts culture--whether it is French, Irish, German, Greek, Romanian etc ahead of serving the Liturgical Services in the people's language then what the community is doing is not Orthodox. They are creating a false culture, and not a christian community.
#18 anonymous on 2010-11-23 09:26
Antonia mentions what she sees as a Protestant belief that American is a nation especially chosen by God to bring salvation to others.
This is pretty close to a concept I briefly heard discussed on NPR last week in the context of a recently-released study by two scholars at the Brookings Institution (Dionne is one and I can't recall the other) on faith and the 2010 election. Polling indicated that some 60% pf those responding (all across denominational lines) agreed with a fairly strongly worded proposition to the effect that the American nation has been called by God to show the world the way ... or words to that general effect. The term for this view that I heard used for the first time is "American exceptionalism." The guest discussing this point bemusedly opined that probably about 30% of the people who affirmed that statement also claimed not to even believe in God!!
I get more than a whiff of that same basic viewpoint here.
#19 Fr. George Washburn on 2010-11-23 18:27
It is pretty obvious that the overseas patriarchs want control of the diaspora for the money that can be sent to the old country. The patriarchs want to divide up America the way the mafia divided up new York city during their heyday so we can be plundered without their fighting each other. Fighting gets in the way of counting the money.
Why should the Americas be a perpetual colony in thrall to a multitude of jurisdictions? Autocephaly was granted 40 years ago. 40 years ago was when there should have been complaints, not now. What is canon law on reneging on a Tomos of Autocephaly? And to whom would the OCA churches "revert" if there is no autocephaly? The Russians? the Greeks? The Ruthenians? /and what about the non ethnic (or non orthodox ethnic) converts? To whom do we belong? Why don't we belong to ourselves? Maybe our function is to shut up and pay our tithes,so everyone else can pay their $5/wk dues.
What if 100 OCA families moved to the same city in Greece? What would happen if they brought in their own priest and conducted services in English? Shouldn't they have their own priest and services in their own language? Sauce for the goose and all that. That would not happen, would it? I think they would all be arrested and thrown in jail, and then the government would Hellenize their names (It's happened before - just ask the Macedonians).
#20 Jim Scisson on 2010-11-24 13:33
I was referencing a strand of Protestant thought held by only a small, overall -- (one would hope!) -- group of people who subscribe to something called "The Principle Approach", and to the "providential view of history." There are Protestant homeschooling curricula which espouse this most peculiar worldview. Salient characteristics include (1) teaching U.S. history year-after-year-after-year to the near exclusion of any other history BECAUSE (2) The United States is inherently superior to every other country on the planet BECAUSE (3) God, Himself, created the United States to be the leader, guide, and example to every other nation, BECAUSE (4) All other nations have failed God and need salvation by us [Protestants].
Both as an Orthodox Christian, and as an educator, I yelped "Yikes!" and fled.
#21 Antonia on 2010-11-24 15:05
Now I understand the reason for your questions on the other thread...LOL
Couldn't have said it better myself. AXIOS. Locally elected bishops, sitting in synod...that's the ONLY way to go. These Old World patriarchates are nothing but kleptocrats intent on fleecing their American "golden gooses"...sorry...eparchies.
We must never forget that the Church Fathers set up a system of governance which is instantly recognizable to any modern American businessman as a geographic franchise system. While priests and bishops cringe when i use the analogy...we are really no different than Starbucks... The faces and languages change when you visit Manhattan, Moscow or Shanghai...but - MESS WITH THE COFFEE AND YOU LOSE YOUR LICENSE!
Our Church Fathers were truly geniuses. They understood that only thru local control would correct decisions be made, in full knowledge of all of the local facts. This has been happening since the earliest of times, when the Church of Cyprus was made independent of the Patriarchate of Antioch.
In a sense, this is nothing more a continuation of a much more ancient (Greek) belief that "the standard remains the standard"..no matter what. This principle, expressed in fiscal discipline (ie not inflating the currency vs the West) is perhaps the single greatest reason the Eastern Empire survived, while the West collapsed.
In any case, if you objectively examine the actions of each of the Old World patriarchates, you will see that most of them operate under what I've called "Corleone rules of diplomacy"....i.e., "What's mine is mine, what's yours is debatable".
Think about it; the EP is FOR local churches, everywhere except in it's backyard (supported Georgian independence, Estonia, Ukraine), but not in America; the MP is for autocephaly in the US, but not in Ukraine, Estonia or Belarus; Romania's church in the US is autonomous, but it is attempting to regather all of the Romanians all over the world under it's omorphorion (including the ROEA of the OCA).
Americans need to wake up and recognize what they are dealing with. These are not people who respect the rule of law...they come from cultures who have elevated lying and deceit to an artform. Whatever the Turks did not teach them, the communists surely did.
Finally, anyone doubting any of the above need only to examine what just occurred in the AOCA. A self governed (ie autonomous) church, with a constitution etc was just forcibly re-integrated into the patriarchate of Antioch...AS WE WATCHED.
Anyone who still labors under the impression that ANY of these Old World patriarchates care about anything other than money, is simply not paying attention.
#22 Dean Calvert on 2010-11-25 11:44
What Frs. Schmemann & Meyendorff taught was ORTHODOXY. Those priests or bishops who reject what they taught, reject the teachings of the Orthodox Church. There are many who prefer to follow Uniate or Roman Catholic theology, but they aren't Orthodox. A prime example of this was Fr. Schmemann reintroducing the Orthodox concept of frequent communion for ALL. Priests & bishops rejected this and preferred to follow their Uniate ways of communion for the faithful only twice a year. So you see, who is REALLY teaching Orthodoxy? Beware of those who proclaim, "We teach traditional Orthodoxy!" Most of the time, they don't even know what that is!
#23 Anonymous on 2010-11-25 16:32
The so-called "churches" in Abkhazia and South Ossetia were created by acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing. 50,000 Orthodox Christians have been killed in their own homes, and another 300,000 driven into exile. The ancient Ghvrtaeba Cathedral and the shrine of the Protomartyr Razhden were attacked with missiles, then looted, desecrated and burned by the Ossetian militia with help from the Russian military.
Do you really believe that is the appropriate way to build the body of Christ - by killing innocent Christians?
If so, God help us all !
The tragedy of our age is that while the crimes committed in occupied Georgia have been well documented (the European Court of Human Rights and the International Court of Justice have nearly 30,000 cases pending against the Russian government and the Russian military) our church remains silent.
While the United Nations, NATO, and the European Parliament all have denounced the invasion and the illegal occupation of Georgian lands, and have called on the Russian government to end its oppressions, our Orthodox bishops and theologians still remain silent in the face of genocide and ethnic cleansing. By their silence, they are complicit in these crimes, and they will not be found guiltless on the Day of Judgement.
The tragedy of our church in these times of general apostacy, is that our people are not only incapable of telling the truth, they are no longer even able to hear it.
Lord have mercy while there is still time!
#24 Francis Frost on 2010-11-26 15:07
Jim S wrote: "What if 100 OCA families moved to the same city in Greece? What would happen if they brought in their own priest and conducted services in English? Shouldn't they have their own priest and services in their own language?"
Bringing "their own priest" would be a violation of Canon. Priests are not employees, free agents, property of a parish or independent actors. That's for congregational Protestants.
What, perchance is an "OCA family"? A new ethnic group?
Were 100 "OCA families" to move en mass from NY to Seattle, would they be able to bring "their own priest", or would that priest need a transfer from one diocese to another? Would +Benjamin expect them to become parishioners at the existing local OCA church, or simply let them pitch up a new parish just for "New Yorkers", complete with a "New York" priest? No simple answer.
Were 100 English speaking, non-Greek speaking families to settle in our diocese, the bishop would do everything possible to provide an English speaking priest, if that is what they need and desire. That is his pastoral responsibility, which, in our experience, he takes very seriously. Just as was done in the US in years gone by for non-English speaking immigrants, he could request a priest be transferred in from an English speaking country, or find one here in Greece. He has made every effort to ensure our spiritual needs are met, and we live in a small village and speak only a modest amount of Greek.
Indeed, a couple of years ago, he blessed my serving as a reader, IN ENGLISH, at the Pre-Sanctified Liturgies, as our village reader was away due to illness. Our fellow parishioners were kind of proud to have the only Greek and English services in the diocese. But the decision was not for the two of us, but for the parish to be able to have the services.
Oh, how many misconceptions exist in the US about the state of affairs in other lands. How readily Protestant notions of congregationalism are seen as the norm, even amongst the Orthodox.
(Editor's note: I think you missed the point - totally. But I have not doubt faithful readers will make it clear to you, observer. )
#25 Overseas Observer on 2010-11-27 03:26
I did not miss the point. Making a preposterous statement to "make a point" is just plain horse-puckey. As I wrote, it is in violation of the canons for a priest to set up shop just anywere as he or any group of laity see fit, be it "OCA families" moving from diocese to diocese in the US, or from the US to Greece, Egypt or Indonesia.
There are many, more responsible reasons that the Church in the West needs to be sorted out and brought into canonical order. And, you would find that such a goal has been in my most fervent prayers for a long time. The Tomos did not bring the hoped for unity, not just because of the "evil foreign patriarchs", but a variety of failings, quite a few of which can be laid at the door of the OCA. In short, we have all failed in this endeavor. Making ridiculous hypotheses and laying all the blame on "others" is not going to solve the problem. For whatever reason, after 40 years, 75% of the Orthodox in the US have still not flocked to unity under the OCA. Perhaps +Jonah is suggesting that another approach to solving the mess might be considered? Perhaps everyone is contributing to the problem, to include the OCA? Or is it simply that other 75% of the Orthodox population in the US that is bad, misguided and downright wrong?
The problem needs to be solved, and to solve it, an Orthodox solution, acceptable to all, needs to be adopted. The vested interest should be canonical order, not any particular vested interest.
(Editor's note: A classic statement of the "Buttermelcher" syndrome! 75% of the people can't be wrong, or misguided or bad, can they?
Well, actually, yes, they can.
This is not to say they are in this case. On the other hand, it is amazing to me how "canonical order" always seems to follow the particular vested interest of Constantinople. Hmmmm. Moreover, until someone from the EP will confirm that the goal of "canonical order" is an autocephalous, united Orthodox Church in the America - which no one has, or will - I think it wise that those of us that possess an autocephalous church in America keep the two in the hand, for the three in the bush at some undetermined, eschatological future. This Midwesterner is not buying a pig in a poke. I've seen industrial farming, and prefer my pork local. Feel free to disagree. )
#26 Overseas Observer on 2010-11-27 10:45
Dear Antonia and friends:
That's exactly what I thought you were referring to, and I agree that it is a distorted worldview to believe or teach one's children. Have had friends and relatives who did believe and teach it, with predictable results.
My comment had to do with my doubts about one of those 'predictable results' that shows up even among those who were not subjected to that fundamentalist education, but merely got the required annual dosages from K-12 in most public schools. I refer to the seeming belief that our national superiority and divine anointing enables, entitles (and even imposes a heavenly obligation upon) any and all Americans armed with a high school diploma and a working knowledge of the formulaic textbook version of American Democracy to a) immediately ascertain what is wrong with any given foreign society, leader, tradition or institution, b) discern exactly what must be done to quickly correct the same, and c) employ blunderbuss methods, like the old pre-Revolution "broadsides," to push for said quick 'n easy outcomes.
This "American exceptionalism" has its obviously repugnant forms that we can all, or almost all, agree are bad. What I wonder is whether or not it shapes (distorts?) the way in which people conceptualize and 'perform' their 'duties' in a forum like this?
#27 Fr. George Washburn on 2010-11-27 11:34
Lets see here. Orthodox Christians and Eastern Christians can come to the Americas and worship at a church with a priest from the old country, administered by the patriarch in the old country and in the language of the old country, and thats canonical. Some Greek Orthodox websites even proclaim that everyone should worship in liturgical greek, but it is un canonical for members of the OCA to travel to the old country and have their own priests and services? this seems unfair and is certainly assymetrical.
As far as saying that priests are not "independent contractors" please get a grip. I was on the parish council when we hired a priest and for purposes of employment, he IS an independent contractor, even though he is assigned or reassigned by the metropoliltan or bishop. The priest is not paid by the diocese, but by the parishoners. If it walks like a duck.....
As to the question "What is an OCA family. another ethnic group?" Please do not condescend or patronize, it is offensive. Ethnic particularism is the problem. I am a convert, an Anglo Saxon. It is clear that to many, we will never be good enough to be real Orthodox because we are not from the village back in the old country. Our old priest use to mock my family as being "Just" Orthodox instead of being some sort of Slav or a Hellene. Shouldn't we in America all be "just" orthodox. maybe the OCA can all be real or honorary Anglo Saxons and p[etition for minority status and privileges as an oppressed group......
I see no one has disputed my claim that this is all about the money, and the old country sees the Americas as a colony to be mined , just as back in the days when Spain ruled much of the New World. As I said, the old world patriarchs have divided up the Americas to bring home the gold.
#28 Jim Scisson on 2010-11-29 11:22
Good point by FBW. Too bad its lost on most of the commentators thus far. Think some people just like to argue. But why wrangle with the point that so long as you deliberately put XC first, all other loyalties fall into place? A jurisdiction (and all it may stand for in one's mind -- however good) is a poor substitute for God, and ultimately insipid, spiritually feckless and sardonically pathetic w/o Him. Its Abraham and Isaac.
#29 Hinga on 2010-11-30 00:45
Jim S: "but it is un canonical for members of the OCA to travel to the old country and have their own priests and services? this seems unfair and is certainly assymetrical."
Read my words again. That is not what I wrote. I said that if 100 English speaking people were to settle in our diocese, the bishop would make every effort possible to provide an English speaking priest, even if one had to be brought in from outside Greece. What is uncanonical is the notion that 100 families could simply bring "their own priest" without arranging the proper transfer from one diocese to another. It is uncanonical for any Orthodox to "import" their own priest, without episcopal permission, from one diocese to another - in the US as well as elsewhere. Parishes in the US that have "Old Country" priests do so because the priest has been transferred from a bishop in the "Old Country" to a bishop in the US.
I, too, have served on parish councils in the OCA and AOA. Priests are "independent contractors" or "employees" for labor law and IRS purposes, but not under the canons. While there are many bishops who do not have the pastoral and moral courage to stand up to the "hiring and firing" authority claimed by parishes, under canon law and Tradition, no such authority exists. But, you are right in saying "it's about the money". Those bishops who let their priests be treated as parish vassels generally did so to avoid losing funds from that parish. Several years ago, one cowardly OCA bishop posted on an internet forum that he had no choice but to cave in to any influential parish member that wanted a priest cast off, no matter what the reason. "Just about the money" motivates some US bishops as well.
As to the treatment of "converts" in the US, yes, it is often abysmal. Just as many "converts" treat people of "traditional" Orthodox ethnicity with distain. I can assure you that our experience in Greece has been quite the opposite. Every parish we have been blessed to worship in has been thrilled to meet people who became Orthodox from other faiths by their own volition.
I post from experience as as someone received into Orthodoxy at St Vladimir Seminary at age 26, over 40 years ago, was a member of Metropolia, OCA, AOA and GOA parishes in various states over many years, and a now permanent resident of Greece. I don't claim to know all the answers, but I do recognize some inaccurate statements when I see them.
I find it hard to envision a "united" US Church when all too much discourse is about "Them versus Us" and how never the twain shall meet.
#30 Overseas Observer on 2010-12-01 15:14
I must say I am amazed that a Greek Orthodox church in Greece would offer services in English when the Greek Orthodox church in my city does not offer servcies in English. Why would he do that? Does the Greek Orthodox church in Greece also offer services in Church Slavonic for the ethnic Macedonians? My Macedonian Greek godfather says that is (or was) against the law. I guess the rich Americans contribute a lot of money to the church in your parish eh?
It is not preposterous that the OCA could open churches abroad, just as every other Orthodox country has churches in America. Reciprocity and all that. I mean its olnly right that the American chruch be allowed to establish itself in outher countries. Or do youbelieve that we are just a colony to be plundered?
You made a big deal out of being chrismated at the monastery. Is a chrismation there better than one done on Oswald St?
#31 Jim Scisson on 2010-12-05 07:14
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