Saturday, December 2. 2006
Is Fr. David correct? Is this the future of the OCA? Are the bishops, clergy and laity of the Church simply "consultative?" Your comments welcome.
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Your article, The Brum Doctrine, helps me understand this whole mess with a clarity I heretofore did not have. If powers-that-be wish to claim Apostolic Canon 34 as the basis of their far-reaching grasp, let them also read the last part of that canon: let he-who-is-first not do anything without the consent of all! Consent is something given, freely given, though my experience knows that the powers-that-be think consent is something to be commandeered. Maybe he-who-is-first should watch more Red Green television show re-runs ("we're all in this together")! Thank you for your good article.
#1 Thaddeus Nielsen on 2006-12-02 11:47
I think we now see why the ecclesiology expressed by Fr. Brum never quite struck some of us as Orthodox - it isn't. It appears to be a hybrid of legal and Roman Catholic concepts, creating a "papist" primacy, rather than a "primer inter pares".
Much of what Fr. Brum has to offer needs some elaboration ... what does "equals" mean? Are bishops equal in their authority? Are some bishops/dioceses more equal than others?
(Side question: by OCA Statute the OCA Metropolitan Primate does not have to be the diocesean bishop of NY/NJ and Washington, does he?)
Where are the references to the Fathers? The references to how Orthodox Churches have been governed in the past? And not just the last 100 years, but the last 1,000 years?
I wish we could hear Fr. Alexander Rentel's presentation to the Holy Synod on Canon Law. While his education is, in part, Roman Catholic, he at least has a Theological degree from an Orthodox Institution (St. Vladimir's).
I believe the powers at St. Herman's need to think carefully about Fr. Brum as a choice for Dean. I believe the dean should embody an Orthodox Theological education, not a Roman Catholic Theological education. Perhaps that is part of the reason for Fr. Erickson's non-renewed contract at St. Vladimir's.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#2 Marty Watt on 2006-12-02 11:51
Thank you for this recent bit of information. I have to say that I completely disagree with Metr. Herman's ecclesiology. It seems pretty apparent that his whole paradigm for the church is that he is the vicar and everyone else really doesn't matter (but please remember to send in your checks).
I have three young children that my wife and I are trying to bring up in the faith. I simply can't accept bringing my children up with this "pay, pray, and obey" ecclesiology. I hope and pray that my children will grow up and be great contributors to this world not peasants told to shut up and work the fields. What lesson is the metropolitan trying to teach? It's okay to be successful in the world because that's what pays the bills, but when it comes to the church, please be quiet, write a check, and don't say anything. Great message of hope for our young people isn't it?
In a recent post on the OCA web site, there is a memo from Mr. Joseph Semo, Esq. He is a very well qualified, highly educated, and trusted attorney that specializes in understanding the complex laws surrounding pension plans. I have met him several times over the course of the past 10 years and I can't imagine that they would find someone much more qualified than him to help with the OCA's pension plan. My point is this, in matters of law or for that matter anything where you don't have particular expertise in, intelligent people seek out competence. You don't go to a chiropractor if you need open heart surgery, and you don't purchase a million dollar piece of property with your second cousin twice removed because he took one real estate class in college.
Somehow Metr. Herman seems to think that he can do it all. But isn't it interesting that in the case of the OCA's pension plan they have called upon an expert? If he can call upon an expert to help administer their pension plan why can't he hire a competent CPA to help sort out the finances of the OCA? Why is it that no complete financials records have been provided to church this year? You know, just because you can make change for a five dollar bill doesn't mean you're financially competent to run the finances of an organization as complex as the OCA.
Metropolitan Herman, it is you who has the warped understanding of your role in the church, not the other way around. Constructive, meaningful dialogue and participation with all of the royal priesthood, not just those with black robes and crosses, is the answer to a healthy church. It would appear that nothing is really going to change until the checks simply stop coming and this is really pathetic.
Brothers and sister in Christ, I invite you to join the Antiochian Archdiocese. It is a place where there is a healthy understanding of the church. It is a place where its metropolitan actively engages the clergy and laity in the vision and growth of the church.
#3 Fr. Michael on 2006-12-02 12:38
The claim by some that "Russian" Orthodoxy has a predilection for Roman concepts of authority and doctrine now appears shockingly to be true. How else to explain the Baum (Cardinal?) and Herman ecclesiolgies? But this merely underscores what has been apparent for some time from the words and deeds emanating from Syosset.
The bigger question is what will the rest of the OCA do about it? One indication will come from the joint meeting of the Synod and the MC. Both groups must decide if they want to be rubber stamps or something a little more meaningful. Ultimately, however, it is the Faithful who must decide if we are going to accept the worst features of Roman Catholicism or stand up and say "enough is enough!"
I, for one, will not support this model of church governance. Metropolitan Herman is right about one thing--there are competing ecclesiologies at war with one another in the OCA. For the sake of the Church, his vision, no matter how honestly held, must not prevail!
#4 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-12-02 14:07
Reading the "Brun Doctrine", it does seem "habamus papem", doesn't it.
#5 jean Langley Sullivan on 2006-12-02 14:42
It seems very clear that all of the following warnings and wisdom from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ are completely lost on the administration in Syosset, the Metropolitan, and quite a few of the Bishops (serving and retired) of the OCA:
"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24)
"If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." (Mark 9:35)
But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. "And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave; "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28)
"But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:11-12)
Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' "But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. "For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves." (Luke 22:24-28)
"You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:13-17)
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Let me correct my own post--obviously "Baum" should be "Brum." My apologies to Cardinal Baum!
#7 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-12-02 16:35
As I read through this posting about the Brum Doctrine, and as I read Father David Brum's resume, I was struck by the linkage between the attempted romanization of the position of Metropolitan evidenced by the Brum Doctrine and the modification of the Divine Liturgy in the Dioceses of Alaska and the West under Bishops Nikolai and Tikhon. Professor Richard Dauenhauer noted this liturgical modification in passing in his letter posted here ten days ago, and its significance might easily be lost on Orthodox from other dioceses where it has not been put into place.
I want to say at the outset that I regard any tendency toward the romanization of our church as dangerous; and, like many former Roman Catholics who converted to Orthodoxy, I am highly alert to those trends, and I don't like what I've been seeing.
In his letter Professor Dauenhauer made a brief reference to elimination of lay participation in the anaphora in the Divine Liturgy as it is celebrated in Alaska under Bishop Nikolai. It would have been more exact if Professor Dauenhauer had referred to the elimination of lay participation in the prayers of the epiclesis, because that is the modification introduced recently in Alaska and earlier in the West.
The offertory portion of our Divine Liturgy differs from the offertories of the Roman Catholics and all Western Christians in one very important respect. And, by the way, it is well to note this difference with potential converts to Orthodoxy who come from Western Churches. Unlike the Romans, our offertory prayers include both the recitation of Christ’s institution of the Eucharist – “…This is My Body…” et cetera, as well as the prayers of transformation, the epiclesis, the “calling down” of the Holy Spirit to “…make this bread the Precious Body of Thy Christ…” et cetera. The Westerners either don’t do the prayers of transformation at all or they hide them away.
The Romans used to include the epiclesis in their liturgies right where we do it our liturgy, but that ended soon after the Great Schism. The concept of the laity praying with the clergy for the transformation of the offered gifts didn’t fit with Roman notion of the power to transform flowing down the hierarchy from their pope and ending at the offering priest. This notion is reflected in the fact that Roman priests are allowed to “say mass” in full while alone, something Orthodox would regard as incomplete and improper.
In most OCA dioceses the epiclesis, regarded as the key moment in the whole celebration, is prayed aloud by the priest with the deacon and faithful responding together and aloud “Amen, Amen, Amen.” But that was changed by Bishop Tikhon and apparently Bishop Nikolai. In the West and now apparently in Alaska, those prayers are supposed to be said with Royal Doors closed and by clergy only.
Tomorrow, at Divine Liturgy, think about what would be missing in you if you missed that moment of prayer, if your bishop thought you too unworthy to pray that prayer.
May God have mercy on them.
#8 Mark Warns, Poulsbo, Wshington on 2006-12-02 18:25
"Every Church with a Bishop is to also have a steward from its own clergy, who shall manage the church business under the sanction of his own bishop so that the administration of the church may not be without a witness." (Summary of Canon 26, Council of Chalcedon, 451 A.D.)
The general principle, here, is that the Bishop should not be managing the church business. Rather, he should have an "economus", someone to manage the business of the Church. This can be expanded to a Committee, or Council, which is what the purpose of the Metropolitan Council was supposed to be.
Obviously, Fr. Brum is espousing later Roman Catholic thinking, and Met. Theodosius and Met. Herman have bought into this.
Yes, there are competing ecclesiologies, here, but it is the Metropolitan that holds the heterodox ecclesiology.
Every parish should hold a Special Meeting to discuss any proposed revision of the Statute, especially if the proposal is to eliminate the Metropolitan Council and legally place all power in the hands of a bishop.
The members of the Metropolitan Council must stand up and demand that Syosset adhere to the Statute as it is.
Abosolute power corrupts absolutely.
#9 Name withheld on 2006-12-02 19:58
Yikes! I hope they won't be selling indulgences to pay back the loan.
#10 Marina Dugan on 2006-12-02 21:58
We will see who the powers at St. Herman's really are: the Board of Trustees or Bishop Nikolai.
St. Herman's Seminary needs to hire a well-qualified Orthodox theologian for dean; however, it does appear that none wish to move to the OCA Diocese of Alaska under current management.
#11 Please withhold my name on 2006-12-02 22:48
I am no expert on the canons, but I can read the OCA Statute. I do not think the Statute says what Fr. David claims it says. Article IV Section 1 says that the Metropolitan "supervises the internal and external welfare of the Church . . . ." Article IV Section 2(i) says that the Metropolitan "Has the right of pastoral initiative and guidance, and when necessary the right of pastoral intervention, in all matters concerning the life of the Church within the framework of the holy canons."
The key words here are "supervises" and “pastoral intervention.”
What does it mean to supervise? Does the power to supervise mean the power to usurp? That is the heart of the question. The Metropolitan Council has the duty to establish the budget (V.4.c), examine financial reports (V.4.c), maintain an inventory of all properties (V.4.h), initiate, prosecute and defend legal matters (V.4.l), and receive reports on matters within its competence (V.4.m). The right to "supervise" implies that the Metropolitan has the right to take initiative, to oversee, and to be involved in these matters, but the word does not imply the right to have exclusive control and override other parts of the Statute.
What does it mean to have the right of "pastoral intervention"? Intervention is a stronger word than supervise, but how far does it go? All clergy probably exercise the right of pastoral intervention in different contexts, but I think very few believe it is a blank check -- particularly over routine financial and administrative matters. Intervention implies sparing application in extreme cases. I doubt that the words “pastoral intervention” in the Statute give the Metropolitan the unfettered right to regularly usurp the functions of the Metropolitan Council and withhold information from the Synod.
#12 Robert Vasilios Wachter, Esq. on 2006-12-02 22:52
1 John, chapter 4......"We are of God; he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." This verse came to mind upon reading Fr. Brum's version of papal infallibility in the OCA..... ''manifest destiny'/Monroe Doctrine/ and various other manifestos cried out for recognition...... but the image of the OCA "primate" exchanging the white hat for a papal mitre prevailed..... with Syosset effectively muzzled by defense counsels within a wall of circled wagons...... and Pope Herman tucked away in So. Canaan, perhaps it would be possible to go to church and worship without interference from the "central administration"
#13 luke on 2006-12-02 23:57
Is that white smoke emanating from the Metropolitan's chimney in Syosset?
The broad administrative authority granted the Metropolitan in the document written by Archpriest David Brum reminds me of a similar relationship between the Bishop of Rome and the Roman Curia, defined in Christus Dominus, the Second Vatican Council's 1965 Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops:
"In exercising supreme, full, and immediate power in the universal Church, the Roman pontiff makes use of the departments of the Roman Curia which, therefore, perform their duties in his name and with his authority for the good of the churches and in the service of the sacred pastors."
—Christus Dominus, 9
It is uncanny how Fr. Brum's description of the Metropolitan's authority over the administrative functions of the OCA mimics the purpose of the Roman Curia, as defined above.
Fr. Brum writes:
"These offices are clearly an extension of the metropolitan's administrative ministry, are under his direct or delegated supervision, and exist within the Church (apart from their role in the fulfillment of civil law requirements) solely for the purpose of assisting him in his canonical duty to act as chief overseer of the internal and external life of the Church. Therefore, the nature, role, functions and accountability structure of these offices are determined by the Metropolitan, to whom they are subject."
Surely, I am not the only person to note the similarities here.
I hope, and pray, that a traditional Orthodox model of church governance--collegial, conciliar, and patristic--triumphs over those who would desire a Roman Curia-style administration in Syosset.
#14 Tim Dugan on 2006-12-03 00:12
I think to accuse Bishops TIKHON+ and NIKOLAI+ of advocating a "Roman Catholic" view of the Eucharistic celebration is a bit of an overreaction. These hierarchs are most certainly NOT being "Roman" in having the Epiclesis recited in a low voice by the priest that cannot be heard by the congregation. Rather, they are being quite traditionally Orthodox at this point. Read the rubrics of the Divine Liturgy carefully. The 1967 edition of the Divine Liturgy published by St. Tikhon's Seminary Press has the Epiclesis on pages 66-67. The Epiclesis is in italics, which indicates that it is supposed to be recited either silently or in a low voice or "secretly" as some translations say. In many places these days (including my home parish) the Epiclesis is recited aloud. However, this is quite a recent innovation in the Liturgy and from what I have been able to gather, is a custom that was popularized at St. Vladimir's Seminary by the late Father Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory. I am neither criticizing nor praising the practice of reciting the Epiclesis aloud. I leave that to the judgment of my Archbishop. However, to say that a bishop has "Roman Catholic tendencies" just because he wants his diocese to return to the traditional Orthodox practice in this regard strikes me as patently absurd and not a little naive. If you travel around the world, you'll find that only here in America is the Epiclesis recited aloud. In Greece, in Russia, in Romania, the Holy Land and everywhere else it is still recited silently. Ever attended a Divine Liturgy in a Greek Orthodox Church? The Greeks don't recite the Epiclesis aloud. They had no Father Schmemann to encourage the practice. Even in the OCA I have noticed a wide variety of practices concerning the Epiclesis. Typically priests educated at St. Vladimir's Seminary prefer it recited aloud, while priests educated at St. Tikhon's prefer it recited silently. I try to respect both positions. I have had priests explain to me the reasons both for saying it aloud and for saying it silently. And both sides can defend their position rather well. If a priest has his bishop's blessing to say the Epiclesis aloud, then it should not be an issue. If, however, a bishop wants it recited silently, he should be obeyed. The bishop, and not the priest, has the final word on how the Liturgy is to be celebrated. As far as the triple "Amen" goes, if you read the rubrics, the DEACON is supposed to say that, and not the congregation. I'm not so sure how it came to be the custom in many places for the congregation to say those Amens aloud. It's not something that I fuss over or worry about, but nowhere do the rubrics assign those amens to the people. And since deacons are clergy (don't we call them "Father Deacon"?), it would appear that those amens are the perogitive of the clergy to say and not the laity. Just my two cents.
#15 Tikhon Griffin on 2006-12-03 09:17
When I became Orthodox, it was taught to me that one of the differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism is that Orthodox Church government is conciliar, and Roman Catholic government is hierarchical. I was not taught that this does not apply in Syosset, the Fourth Rome.
#16 Theodore on 2006-12-03 09:50
Whoever told you that is dead wrong. Both churches are hierarchial and conciliar, but in different ways or with differing balances between the two concepts. Orthodoxy has a longer and more solid history of conciliarity than our sister church in Rome, which begun to function with more limited forms of conciliarity only since Vatican II in the 1960s. Hierarchy and conciliarity are not mutually exclusive.
Terry C. Peet
#17 Terry C. Peet on 2006-12-03 11:08
Your points are well taken, but miss the big picture--namely clerical (in this case episcopal) arrogance and spiritual pride. How dare the inferior and unwashed laity participate in a rite reserved for their betters.
Now you may say this is gross exaggeration, but taken in context, I don't believe it is. If this was an isolated reversion to nostalgia, then your attitude of tolerance and acceptance might be best. However, I believe it reflects a reactionary mindset that would be happy to consign Fr. Schmemann and his works to the "flames."
#18 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-12-03 11:41
Actually, it is quite the other way around. In those places in the Liturgy where you see the Deacon saying the Amen (there are several), the original practice was for the People to say it. But, after the prayers began to be said quietly, the People could no longer hear, and could no longer say Amen, so the Deacon began to say it in place of the People.
The move to say the prayers silently, again, is but a symptom of the clericalism that is obviously taking hold of the OCA.
#19 Name withheld on 2006-12-03 12:07
thank you,i agree with your statement.in most orthodox churches all over the world the anafora is read quietly.only a panorthodox synod would have the authority to change that and have the eucharistic prayers said aloud.we should be very careful with any innovations.i agree with Vladyka NIKOLAI,may GOD grant him many years.(i am not in his diocese and never met him or Vladyka TIKHON,but i like their faithfulnes to the russian traditions.)presently in the serbian church there is an ungoing discussion about liturgical practice.i understand that PATRIARH PAVLE stated that we should adhere to the existing liturgical practice and not make any innovations.isn't the orthodox service really beautiful when served correctly.i am really afraid that some in the oca would probably tear down the iconostas,turn the altar table towards the people,eliminate the incense and maybe even bring in the guitars to really make it american contemporary.GOD FORBID!i hope i am exagerating.all of these are very difficult questions,and as i stated before can only be decided by a panorthodox synod.when it comes to the financial crisis in our church i would agree with Vladyka JOB.i hope and pray that peace,love and unity trully return to our church.
#20 Anonymous on 2006-12-03 14:58
Please forgive my bluntness, but anyone who insists that the Anaphora (including the Epiclesis) is to be said “secretly” is not in any wise acting according to the tradition. Rather, such a person is embracing an innovation explicitly condemned some 1500 years ago. Please consult Novella 137 of the Emperor Justinian, as quoted by Boris Ivanovich Sove in The Eucharist in the Ancient Church and Contemporary Practice, found in the Liturgy section of the website of the OCA’s Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco.
Igumen Philip (Speranza)
#21 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2006-12-03 15:22
Dear friends, please make note to what lengths crooks will go to hide their misdeeds... even in the name of religion.
Crooks will even work to ruin a national church to save their own skins. This is a travesty. Mark, you are too kind (don't change). If this were a legitimate question of ecclesiology, then legitimate people would have opened this question to the whole church for dialogue. No, this is about small-minded men and women, compromised by years of missappropriation of the Church's money, striving mightily to find a way to stay out of jail.
We do need a debate on ecclesiology, for sure. But the arguments made by the purveyors of scandal is an abortion. Have you ever noticed how the "hierarchical crowd" never mentions the equally venerable conciliar principle within Trinitarian theology? It is a glaring and self-serving omission.
#22 Anon. on 2006-12-03 19:39
The Church is One. She does not have "sisters".
#23 Anonymous on 2006-12-03 23:09
One can certainly identify parallels between the notion of primacy presented in the editor's article and the pope's primacy as promulgated by the Roman Catholic magisterium. This liturgical comparison does not apply. The Roman Catholic Church used one eucharistic prayer for most of its history - the Roman Canon, which does not include a specific epiclesis invoking the Father to send His Holy Spirit for the sanctification of the assembly and the gifts. This style of epiclesis comes from an Antiochene origin, whereas the Roman Canon obviously has a different provenance. Nonetheless, a father as early as St. Ambrose of Milan (fourth century) witnesses to the Roman Canon in his mystagogical lectures on the sacraments, and the Canon was the only prayer used until new eucharistic prayers were composed and added to the Roman Sacramentary after Vatican II. At least one of these prayers (#2, and I believe others as well) has explicit epicleses more similar to the Orthodox "epiclesis" promoted here. And, they are said aloud so that the people affirm every prayer with an Amen, an ancient practice attested to by St. Justin Martyr. The bottom line is that liturgical practices have changed and evolved much more than we might want to believe. A historical argument for or against a liturgical practice canot be made on this basis of contemporary texts. Our Eucharistic prayers are offered as "we," and the Church's form of prayer always concludes with the people's 'amen.' Is anyone comfortable with saying 'Amen' to a prayer you don't hear or participate in?
We have the gift of autocephaly, and God has given us the charge of being his church here, in North America. Thus, we should be taking the lead in charting our own ecclesiological path. The imperial 'glories' (if there ever was such a thing) of Byzantium and Rus' have passed. We are not obliged to incorporate and imitate every detail from those models. Nor are we obliged to simply copy the practices of the Moscow Patriarchate - this is not Russia. Tradition is broad enough to provide us with sufficient resources to build church structures that reveal Christ as Incarnate here and today. The sooner we start working on that and lay aside childish nostalgia, the better.
#24 Dn. Nicholas Denysenko on 2006-12-04 06:40
"Hierarchy and conciliarity are not mutually exclusive" is true, but their delicate balance needs vigilant attention and prompt readjustment if they are not to be allowd to become euphemisms for despotism or anarchy.
#25 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2006-12-04 06:49
Perhaps, but there is no limit to the number of God's children.
#26 Anonymous on 2006-12-04 14:22
As an outsider with EO friends, I appreciate this site and these comments very much. But good grief, can't y'all fix your own church without bashing ours? All the cracks about (gasp, horrors) "romanization" are silly and insulting, IMHO.
OK, carry on!
--one of those unwashed papists
#27 anonymous papist on 2006-12-04 14:43
The Church is one, indeed. As for sister churches, your view would be a great surprise to most Orthodox Patriarchs, some of whom include the bishop of Rome in their diptychs (gasp!). You need to review the literature of the last four decades rather than rely on standard mantras of a by-gone era. The sin of schism is being healed, ever so slowly.
Terry C. Peet
#28 Terry C. Peet on 2006-12-04 18:46
This is a gentle reminder-reference to the VERY authoritative voice in the Orthodoxy as a corollary to ALL our "too human" opinions
Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann
The Church is Hierarchal
An Answer to Ralph Montgomery Arkush, Esq.
As a follow up of the storm he raised at the Tenth All American Sober of the Russian Church by declaring that our Church is not hierarchal, Mr. Ralph M. Arkush has issued now a mimeographed pamphlet entitled Is Our Church Hierarchal? "This question, – he says in conclusion, – must be answered in the negative. The form of our Church is sobornal". This conclusion is based on: a) Webster’s definition of the term "hierarchal" (pp. 1-2); b) a brief analysts of the various forms of church government since the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem (pp. 2-3); c) references to the Moscow Council of 1917-18 and the Detroit Sobor of 1924.
Were the conclusion of Mr. Arkush a mere ‘private opinion’, or rather his own peculiar interpretation of Church history, ecclesiology and canon law, we could, in spite of our total disagreement with him, pay no attention to his pamphlet. But Mr. Arkush has been for a number of years a leading layman in our Church, the official Jurisconsult of the Metropolia, the Orthodox delegate to the National Council of Churches, a lawyer, who by the very nature of his profession is constantly confronted with the meaning of Orthodox tradition. All this makes his case a very serious one. And since his views are shared by many of our lay people, those especially who play an active part in the life of the Church, we seem to face a really unprecedented situation: a segment of the Church simply refuses to accept and confess a doctrine that has never been questioned. One thing is made clear by this pamphlet: the time has come for an unambiguous clarification of the whole issue.
Before we come to the pamphlet, one preliminary remark of basic importance must be made. When in the "clergy-laity controversy" the terms "government", "administration", "controlling authority" are used, are all those who use them aware that when applied to the Church, they must of necessity mean something different from what they mean in a purely secular context. The Church is not a secular society and, therefore, all definitions and descriptions of its life and functioning to be adequate must necessarily be transposed and adjusted to its nature. Any type of government must be adequate to the nature and the purpose of what it governs. We live in a Democracy which is a high and noble doctrine of government. But we know that the principle of Democracy ("government of the people, by the people, for the people") is not applicable everywhere even in the secular society. It is not applicable to the Armed forces, to the school, to the family. Is it difficult to understand the simple and trivial truth, that for much more serious reasons it is not applicable to the Church? The Church is not and has never been a democracy because the Church is not a human institution with human goals and purposes. The Church is a Divine Institution, founded not by men, but by Christ, receiving her life from God and having one specific goal: to save people by introducing them into the life of grace, forgiveness, love and truth, by uniting them to the life of Christ Himself. To be sure, the Church has a human aspect, a human dimension of her life – yet this "humanity" of the Church is not independent from her spiritual essence, from her Divine root, but embodies it, expresses it, is totally and absolutely subordinated to it. To speak of two spheres in the Church – one spiritual and the other material – as being independent from one another is to completely misunderstand the real nature of the Church, whose "Pattern" is Christ Himself, God made Man, in whom the human nature was entirely accorded to the Divine, totally expressive of the Divinity. The whole Church, in all her aspects and activities, in the totality of her life is governed primarily by Christ, who is the Head of the Church, and this is why we must emphatically reject the very idea of a "democratic Church", however highly we value the democratic ideal for a secular society. But, for the same reason, the idea of an "autocratic" Church is equally wrong. If in the secular context "autocratic" is the only alternative to "democratic, this alternative simple does not apply to the Church – yet, this is precisely what Mr. Arkush and those who agree with him, are apparently unable to understand. The Church is hierarchal – which means, that power and authority in the Church are always related to, and proceed from, the ultimate source of its Iife – Christ Himself. Those who, by Divine appointment and consecration (Sacrament of Order) exercise this authority are not "autocrats" because they themselves must be totally and unconditionally subordinated to Christ and to His Church, to her Tradition, canons, to the whole of her Truth and Spirit. And the unique goal of their government is to keep the Church within this Truth and to assure her growth into the "full stature of Christ". They "govern" the Church not by people’s consent, but by Divine appointment and the Church believes that in the Sacrament of Order they are granted necessary "charisms" or gifts for this government.
It is impossible to exclude anything in the Church from the sphere of this government, to say, for example, that the hierarchy is responsible for the "spiritual", and the laity for the "material", aspects of the Church life. As said above the Church has no other goal but salvation and spiritual edification of her members. All her activities, from the most spiritual to the most practical and material, are therefore internally shaped by this goal and ordered towards it. A "parish activity" that would not be in some degree related to the spiritual task of the Church would ipso facto be alien to the Church and to the parish, would contradict the very principle of the Church. Let us take, for example, the whole aspect of fund-raising and financial welfare of the parish, an area where the controversy on the "rights" and "responsibilities" is especially heated. Is it possible to say, as it is said so often, that this is a "material" problem and must be handled by the laity without the interference of the clergy? The very fact that money is being raised by the Church and for the Church makes this activity spiritual, for this money must be spent in accordance with the spiritual goal of the Church. But "it is our money" and "we don’t want any one to have control of it" is the usual answer. Another tragical misunderstanding, showing how radical is our misconception of our Church. The money that we gave to the Church has ceased to be our money and has become God’s money. It is neither ours, nor priest’s – it belongs to the Church and the Church does not belong to us, for we belong to the Church. The possibility of giving to the Church is not our merit, it is the greatest privilege, it makes us coworkers in Christ’s work of salvation, ministers of His purpose. Therefore the Priest who by definition is the keeper and the guide of the religious life of the Parish must necessary give the sanction to every decision concerning the use of the Church’s funds. The fear that he will use "our" money for "his" interests reveals the moral level of Orthodoxy in this country and is a shameful one. One of two things: either the Priest is the Priest, knowing who he is, trained to fulfill his ministry, sincere, enlightened and "pastoral" – the fear in this case is superfluous and must be replaced by trust. Or he is a bad Priest (and there have always been bad priests in the Church!) using his position to enrich himself, stealing the parish’s funds, lazy, ignorant, selfish. Then he betrays his function, and the Church has all possible means to depose such a Priest and to deprive him of the function which he has betrayed and falsified. But to erect the distrust into a legal system, to establish the whole life of the Church, as if it had to be "defended" against the Priests is to make the Church a mockery and to disregard her real nature... There can be no doubt that the "controlling authority" in the Orthodox Church belongs to the hierarchy. And it should be the common goal and task of all Orthodox to assure its clergy such training and spiritual preparation that would make them capable of exercising their authority with the wisdom, the experience and the spiritual insight which are the characteristics of a good Pastor.
It is this misunderstanding of the spiritual nature of the Church (spiritual which is not opposed to, but includes, the material) that constitutes the root of the monumental distortions in Mr. Arkush’s pamphlet. It is too bad Mr. Arkush does not see them. It is too bad that he is blind to the fact that his secular terminology, when applied to the Church is entirely "out of key", false, inadequate. It is the terminology and the language of someone who can see all the "legal points", and yet fails completely to see the religious essence of the Church.
The first of these errors is the opposition between "hierarchal" and "sobornal." Mr. Arkush presents these terms as mutually exclusive. "Hierarchal" means "government administered in the Church by patriarchs, archbishops, bishops etc . . ." (Webster) and since in our Church "the supreme legislative, administrative and judicial authority within the Church is the Sobor" with the participation of the laity – our Church is not "hierarchal" – so runs Mr. Arkush’s argument. But it is based on a purely legal concept of the Sobor, a concept which is simply incompatible with the concept of the Church. The Sobor being the expression of the Church is itself a hierarchal organ, i. e. reflects and expresses the structure of the Church. All members of the Sobor take part in it according to their order and status in the Church: Bishops as Bishops, Priests as Priests and Laymen as Laymen. It would be absurd to think that from the moment the Sohor is convened, all its members loose their "status" in the Church and become equal "units" of an abstract government, with the majority rule as the only principle of decision.
It is obvious that the participation of the laity in the Sobor is given a false interpretation based on a false application of the "democratic" principles to the Church. Their participation means primarily the privilege given then to express their concern for the Church, to discuss together the needs of the Church, to devise better solutions for her actual problems and to take decisions Insofar as they are in agreement with the Tradition and the Faith of the Church. This privilege is based on the Orthodox belief that no one in the Church is deprived of the Holy Spirit, and that to every one is given the spirit of responsibility and concern for the Church, the spirit of active membership. It is not based, however, on any juridical right that would make laity "co-governors" and "co-administrators" of the Church. The authority to decide whether this or that decision of the Sobor is in agreement with Tradition remains with the Hierarchy and it is in this sense that the Sobor is hierarchal.
The Sobor is thus the expression of the common concern for the Church of all her members and the expression also of her hierarchal structure, and this is what "sobornost" and "sobornal" mean in Orthodoxy. It is a cooperation, in which each member of the Church is given full possibility to express his views, to enrich other with his experience, to teach and to be taught, to give and to receive. The hierarchy can profit immensely from this cooperation with the laity, just as the laity can be enlightened on the various dimensions of the Church life. But all this does not mean "egalitarianism", a transformation of hierarchy into laity and vice-versa. It is a sad fact, a tragedy indeed, that under the influence of secularism and legalism, the whole emphasis in our understanding of the Sobor activities has shifted to "decisions" and "motions" which are being considered as the main task of the Sober, whereas its real value is in the wonderful opportunity to clarify the mind of the Church by a common discussion, by sharing the concern for the Church, by deepening the unity of all members of the Church. It is a sad fact, that instead of pervading our "secular" life with the spirit of the Church, we can think of nothing better than to transform the Church into a secular corporation with "balance of powers", "fight for rights" and pseudo-democratic "egalitarianism." Once more, the Sober is an hierarchal organ of the Church, submitted as such to the basic structure of the Church and valid inasmuch only as it is hierarchal.
Equally wrong is Mr. Arkush’s analysis of the lay participation in the Sobors of the past. In his opinion, the Church of the Ecumenical Councils not only changed the practice of the early Church (which was that of accepting the laity into the "synod") but legislated in exactly the opposite direction: laity was canonically excluded from the election of Bishops and participation in Church Councils. The "early" practice was restored by the Moscow Sobor of 1917-18, and constitutes the basis for the Church in America. First, on the election of bishops: It is true that the bishops were elected by the local church. The consecration, however, which alone made them bishops was performed by the bishops – and this order expresses the ontological order of the Church. Election, i.e. suggestion, proposal, etc., comes from the people of the Church, the Sanction comes from the hierarchy, and this principle is to be applied to the whole life of the Church, in which, according to St. Ignatius of Antioch, "nothing can be done without the bishop" (i.e. without the hierarchal sanction). No canon ever condemned or forbade the election of the bishop by the people and if this was not done for a long time, the reason is purely historical and accidental, not "canonical." It is highly desirable to restore it wherever and whenever possible, but let it be clear, that election as such is not the condition of validity for a bishop. The Apostles were not "elected" by anyone, and it is at least doubtful that St. Paul when appointing Timothy or Titus was basing his choice on a popular election. It is true that many forms and the very spirit of secular government pervaded the Church after her alliance with the Roman Empire, transforming the bishops into high officials (hence the uncanonical transfers of bishops, the idea of a "cursus honorum", the weakening of the ties between the bishop and his church etc.), but it is also true that the best bishops and the real canonical tradition were always fighting this transformation as a distortion and called for the restoration of a true Orthodox ecciesiology.
"The canons of the Ecumenical Councils, – writes Mr. Arkush, – make no mention of the laity as sharing in Church government. On the contrary they indicate that the Bishop solely governed the Church". I am glad that Mr. Arkush makes this clear statement and, although he tries immediately to question its relevance for us and our time, there remains the fact that our Church knows of no other canonical tradition but precisely that of the Ecumenical Councils period. The Church was governed by the Bishops because the Bishops are the ministers of Church government, and to ask whether this principle or "canon" is still binding is to ask whether the Church is still the Church. What Mr. Arkush overlooks, however, is the fact that the lay participation in shaping the life and the activities of the Church, its voice – was fully recognized, even though they took no official part in the Church councils. The great monastic movement was at its beginning a lay movement, yet it had a great impact on the whole life of the Church. Eusebius of Dorylea was a simple layman when he protested against the heretical teaching of his bishop Nestrorius. Theologians were not necessarily bishops and the tradition of "lay theology" has remained a living one even today. Participation, activity, concern for the Church, thinking, discussion – all this was never denied to the laity, on the contrary, belongs to it as its right and duty.
It was indeed a wonderful achievement of the Moscow Sobor of 1917-18 that it restored this lay participation to its full capacity and gave the laity new possibilities of cooperation with the hierarchy and creative activity in the Church, and this at a moment when the common defense of the Church became an urgent need. It brought to an end a false "clericalism", a situation in which clergy alone constitute the active element in the Church. It clearly proclaimed the principle that all Christians are living and active members of the Church. But the Moscow Sobor did not and could not change the basic structure of the Church, as Mr. Arkush seems to interpret its decisions. By introducing the laity into the Sobor – "the supreme authority of the Church", it did not change the status of the laity in the Church, it did not give them "rights of government". The final sanction within the Sobor belongs to the Bishops, and this principle according to Prof. Kartashoff was the "corner stone of the whole activity of the Sohor" (A. Kartashoff, The Revolution and the Sobor of 1917-18, in "The Theological Thought", Paris, 1942, pp. 88) – "All decisions of the plenary sessions, – writes Prof. Kartashoff, – were revised at special sessions of the Bishop’s Council; if rejected by three-fourths of the Episcopate, they were sent back to the plenary session. If not accepted by the Bishops after revisions by the Sobor, they were not to become official acts of the Sobor". Thus, at this point Mr. Arkush’s interpretation is false. The Sobor created two organs of the Church government: the Synod of Bishops and the Supreme Church Council, and it was clearly stated that to the competence of the Synod of Bishops belong the questions concerning Doctrine, Worship, Theological Education, Ecclesiastical Government and Discipline (Decision of December 8, 1917). Finally, in the Parish statute (April 20, 1918) the government of the parish is defined as follows: "It is the duty of the Rector to have a concern for all the activities of the Parish" (Ch. V. 29). To oppose the Moscow Sobor to the earlier tradition of the Church, to see in it the beginning of a "sobornal as opposed to the hierarchal Church" is therefore a pure distortion.
Mr. Arkush’s pamphlet has one notorious merit: it crystallizes the issue of our present ecclesiastical trouble. He formulates the question and answers it in the negative. It is our absolute conviction that the Orthodox faith and the Orthodox tradition put us under obligation to answer it in the positive. The Church is hierarchal. To let these two mutually exclusive answers coexist any longer would endanger the very foundation of Orthodoxy in this country. All men, who put the Church, her Life and her Truth, above their own private and individual options, likes and dislikes, must understand the ultimate scope of this controversy, make their choice and act accordingly.
St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 4, Fall 1959, pp. 36-41
#29 Alexander Schmemann (forwarded by one of the readers of his writings on 2006-12-05 01:37
This little missive quoted from Protopresbyter Alexander fails to answer perhaps the most critical unspoken question posed on this website?
"What do ya do when the bishops are a bunch of bums?"
or, more elegantly stated by Juvenal,
"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" (Who guards the guards?)
Protopresbyter Alexander's model is fine for the hypothetical perfectly functioning Church and Hierarchy. When you find it, please let me know so I can join it.
In the meantime, the OCA has big bad problems that aren't going to be resolved by wordsmithing, but by action.
There is an aversion to discussing "rights" in the context of the Orthodox Church and its governance, and I understand why. However, I do believe the laity have two basic rights. (1) The right to the authentic, correct teaching of the Orthodox faith by its clergy (2) The right not to be abused by its clergy. On this website, we are mostly concerned with right #2.
One quote from Protopresbyter Alexander's writing...
"Or he is a bad Priest (and there have always been bad priests in the Church!) using his position to enrich himself, stealing the parish’s funds, lazy, ignorant, selfish. Then he betrays his function, and the Church has all possible means to depose such a Priest and to deprive him of the function which he has betrayed and falsified."
First, it seems to me that all too often, even though the Church has the means to depose a bad priest, it has not the will. Second, what about the bad bishops? (Bad bishops? I'm shocked. SHOCKED!) I know, I know, the Synod can remove them. But as history all too often shows, those in power protect their own, and currently Syosset is no exception.
I think the following needs to be added:
Mark 10:42-44: But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
And one last point: If it is true, that "The money that we gave to the Church has ceased to be our money and has become God’s money," then the ONLY possible solution is to temporarily stop giving to the Church, or at least those parts of it that are abusing the cash. If you disagree, consider this: giving to OCA central administration, right now, means that you (whoever gives the money), are enabling the abuse of goods and, much more importantly, people, in the Name of God. Think about it! There are now, and always have been, clergy who use God Himself to further their own selfish and destructive ends! Do you really want to be part of that?
#30 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2006-12-05 09:21
I could not agree more with the statement of the one self-identified as "anonymous papist." It seems to me that the ultimate yardstick for any church, bishop and/or christian should not be "How close to or far from Rome are we?" but rather "How close to or far from Christ are we?".
I am reminded of a comment made by an Orthodox monastic who after meeting an over-zealous convert was known to remark: "Well, he is Orthodox all right -- but I wonder if he is Christian?"
I would encourage everyone to revisit the remarkable insights of St. Mother Maria who encouraged us all to judge everything by the "evangelical" standard of truth and who warned us against using other standards, however pious they may sound.
#31 Anonymous on 2006-12-05 12:19
Yes, the Church is hierarchical and sobornal.
But, that is not the question, here. The question is: what does the Church do when a hierarch falls into moral sin and solicits funds for one purpose and then illegally spends them for another purpose, even for paying blackmail to cover up the moral sin, and for personal use? How does the Church deal with this? How does the Church guard against this happening? Does the Church just turn a blind eye and say that the hierarch is free to do as he pleases with the funds, even if he chooses to deceive the people and break the laws of the land?
Everything in Fr. Schmemann's article assumes that the hierarch is a godly man whose actions are guided by the Holy Spirit. This is clearly not been the case, however.
Was Fr. Schmemann not involved in the writing of the Statute, in the formation of the structure of the OCA, including the Metropolitan Council? Was this not wisdom and a prudent structure in order to guard and protect the Church?
#32 Name withheld on 2006-12-05 14:03
Fr. Schmemann's 1959 comments present his answer to the question: "is the Church hierarchal or not hierarchal?"
Is the church only hierarchal would seem to be the question 45 years later.
#33 Jean Langley Sullivan on 2006-12-05 15:43
My goodness, even posting a passage from one of Fr. Schmemann's writings seems to require anonymity these days! Then again, if it was done to infer his support for the status quo in the OCA or to defend the way episcopal authority is exercised by some bishops, I understand.
Even as an admirer of Fr. Schmemann, I find it difficult to invest him with an authority that transcends humanity and fallibility. But be that as it may, I think it is clear that he would be appalled by the scandal in the OCA and the way it has been handled/created by the bishops, despite any previous concerns about anti-clericalism or attacks upon hierarchical governance. Certainly, his rejection of clerical autocracy and a passive and uninvolved laity, lead one to believe that he would be an unabashed critic of today's OCA.
Ours is clearly a hierarchical church. But how that authority is exercised and shared, not to mention the degree to which it should be accountable, is another matter entirely.
#34 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-12-05 16:38
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR POSTING PROTOPRESBYTER FR ALEXANDR SCHMEMANS ARTICLE ON THE HIERARCHAL STRUCTURE OF THE CHURCH.truly a good lesson to all the wannabe protestants out there.MAY GOD HELP METROPOLITAN HERMAN to lead the church out of this crisis and not give in to those who would overturn the very foundations of the church. i have not seen VLADYKA GERMAN for more then 25 years but i remember him as a kind, down to earth and pastoral man,NOT at all tyrannical,"papal"or even strict but always nice.those who don't like the church as is should simply leave.there is a door,use it.
#35 Anonymous on 2006-12-05 20:00
it appears that the solution suggested by fr. alexander - that the clerical hierarchy is the church, that they should keep their hierarchy and the laity (which is evidently not the church) should keep their money...in their pockets...may indeed allow us to observe how many more loans such a hierarchy can float
#36 luke on 2006-12-05 21:16
Dear Anonymous Papist,
You are right on. Many apologies for my brethren whom you rightly point out are Catholic-bashing. It is easy to be AGAINST something. It is much harder, it would seem, to be FOR something. We make so many arguments in the negative, to our detriment. It takes more work to identify what we believe and stand for instead of simply taking cheap shots at others for what they believe (or we think they believe).
God bless you. We need to remove the log in our eye.
Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.
#37 Anon. on 2006-12-05 22:43
Fr. Brum was specifically recruited to Syosset to add weight via canon law where Fr. Kondratick and Met. Theodosius wanted to enforce their will. Go and look back at the time when Brum joined Syosset and some of the issues they were facing. You'll see that his twearking of canon law to support a "central authority" was prime for Syosset to centralize more and more power. Yet, Brum's interpretations could clearly be challenged by an educated Orthodox canon lawyer and were.
Just more of the same which was coming out of Syosset. Met. Herman was not immune to any of this.
#38 Anonymous on 2006-12-06 07:21
I would ask that the excellent Fr. Schmemann article be bumped into the Reflection Catagory, of coarse with consent from appropriate sources. I would appreciate reading a public response to the so-called Brum doctrine one each from of St. Vladimir's, St. Tikhon's and Holy Cross's faculty. What is passed off as a teaching of the Church should come under the Church's scrutiny for truth or falsehood. I don't think this request is unreasonable to ask!
#39 Anonymous on 2006-12-06 09:11
You're giving the post Vatican II Romans too much credit. Although a prayer to the Holy Spirit appears in at least some of their later offertories, it was inserted - in an order we would regard as illogical - well before the words of institution. In that position it doesn't negate their basic notion that the power to transform flows in a line from their pope to their priests and that it is complete at the words of institution.
Further, I am certain you would agree that our anaphoras, including within them the epiclesis, are alone in their Trinitarian completeness, their cohesion, pace, and beauty.
#40 Mark Warns on 2006-12-07 01:09
It only gets worse huh?
The Evil One tempts me and us... he is doing his work from the center of God's Church... in His Holy Name by his so called bishop/s.
What have we here, what are we going to do?
Are we called to exorcise the cancer ourselves?
What do we do when we are autocephalous - self governing;
seize the initiative and do the right thing or cease and desist as the Evil One would have us do?
Does Autocephalous mean a branch, torn from the original tree of life, vulnerable, alone, left to fend for itself or die?
Does it mean we let some of our leaders; corrupt, criminal, evil [or whatever fits] go their own way, or does it mean that when leaderless we take action and cleanse the wound in Christ's Body, remove the dirt and set about to heal the infection?
#41 cradle orthodox christian, fearful alaskan native on 2006-12-07 02:10
I see that there is some discussion re: Catholic Bashing. One of the fundamental differences between Roman Catholics and Orthodox is the authority of the central administration (papacy). I believe it is appropriate to expect the Orthodox to hold to their position of 2,000 years or so.
To have an individual espouse a view that the Orthodox have NEVER held (that of a primacy of authority of one bishop over others) is to deny a 2,000 year old belief.
Orthodox Christian belief is conciliarity. Each Bishop is accountable to the Synod to which they belong, not the Primate, in the execution of their duties.
The mistake in the statute (in my humble opinion) is in the requirement for 12 bishops to constitute a heirarchical court to dismiss a brother bishop for some sort of malfesance. I suspect (legally) there are other alternatives, but I'm not sure what they are other than a simple removal of a bishop from a diocese, or a synodal vote to remove a heirarch from their primacy (but not from diocesean responsibilities).
We are indeed charting new ground here. We must develop solutions that are grounded firmly in our beliefs, and not default to the beliefs of another Church. It is dangerous (again -- my opinion) to base one's view of the world on one person, whether that person is Fr. Schmemann or Fr. Brum. That has never been the Orthodox way.
We cannot simply default or defer to a law, statute, or deeply held conviction of an individual. We have (I think we'd all agree) a situation where malfeasance has taken place. There is still some debate about how to proceed and how to prevent such malfeasance in the future, but that wrong has occurred we have little doubt.
Some want to blame. Some want to dismiss the behavior entirely and say "it's his right".
I suggest that historically (since Constintine), from an administrative level (which is what we are dealing with here), the heirarchs *have always been subject to the oversight of the state*, be that state Christian, Ottoman, Athiest, etc.
In the US, the state specifically refuses oversight of the Church. So what are we to do?
I think there are two possible solutions that are equally in line with Orthodox ecclesiology:
1. To have the Synod of Bishops accountable to no one but itself.
2. To have a representative body (the Metropolitan Council) to oversee the Synod of Bishops, to serve as the "state".
It's interesting to me that under the "Brum doctrine" the All-American Council itself is seemingly unnecessary. All authority is vested in the Primate, unquestioned. EXCEPT the money -- we cannot be compelled to give (another unique aspect of the American paradigm in Church History).
No matter how we examine the problem, I do not believe the solution will be found in the past. We need godly leadership, well grounded in the Orthodox faith, to craft a solution. That solution will be new - that much is certain. But that solution can (and should) be in conformity with Orthodox belief and tradition, entirely consistent with the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
May God have mercy on all of us as we enter this discussion.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#42 Marty Watt on 2006-12-07 08:21
I am in no position to judge anaphoras used by ancient churches. As I stated in my entry, if we base our arguments on the form of a contemporary text, we anachronistically impose later theological development on earlier liturgical practice. Perhaps we will caricature the eucharistic prayer in the Didache as pneumatologically deficient, or lacking in Trinitarian fullness. Which of our venerable fathers excommunicated Rome, or Milan for that matter, over their use of the Roman canon? The Roman Canon is an ancient prayer, and I have no reason to disparage it. We have a responsibility to learn church history and understand that any attempts to impose uniformity on liturgical practice damage the body of Christ. If the Eastern fathers had no problem with the Roman Canon, then why should I?
I will say that reducing the 'epiclesis' to the invocation of the Holy Spirit amounts to allowing Western theologians to dictate the assignment and definition of terms in technical liturgical language (see Fr. Schmemann's commentary on the inadequacy of 'breaking down' the Eucharistic prayers into specific components in his book on the Eucharist). The prayer is valuable as a complete, cohesive unit, and should be interpreted as such.
The notion of 'transformative power' of the priest will always be a problem for RCs as long as they retain practices such as private masses and the anointing of the hands of priests at ordination. Of course, no Orthodox believe in something as silly as 'priestly power.' It's all about service - isn't it?
#43 Dn. Nicholas Denysenko on 2006-12-07 11:57
Dear Mr. Watt: It is not a question of "bashing," but rather of misunderstanding. What Met. Herman is apparently doing is not "papal." The pope is the servant of the servants of God, not a despot with no accountability whatsoever, even in finances. (Surely you do not see Benedcit XVI as such a despot?)
Moreover, needless to say, we Catholics have a different take on that 2,000-year history--one in which we see the Petrine office as bibliccal, venerable, and ancient (2,000 years ancient).
But this is not the place to explore such questions. I would merely ask that you not equate power-grabbing with "papalism.' Out of courtsey and consideration for your Catholic sympathizers, please choose a more neutral term.
As always, I enjoy reading this blog and its comments.
#44 anon on 2006-12-07 15:47
I really wanted to avoid getting involved in this discussion, but as usual when the subject interests or concerns me, I can't resist.
First and foremost, I want to say how much I welcome your participation in this website from a Catholic perspective. While some Orthodox Christians, no doubt, harbour anti-Catholic prejudices, I do not and welcome you as a brother or sister in Christ. That said, I do think you are being a little too sensitive when some of us make reference to your communion in what you perceive to be less than faltering terms.
Some of the problems we are experiencing are very similar to ones you have faced--episcopal indifference to clerical wrong doing, abuse of authority, contempt for the laity, etc. Others reflect long standing differences of faith with respect to papal authority. When we compare and contrast, it is with full knowledge that our own house is not in order and not to denigrate those of a Roman Catholic persuasion--especially lay persons.
This is, of course, principally an Orthodox website for members of the OCA. We do have issues, regretably, that separate us at the alter. Fortunately, we live in a time when these differences are lessening, as we begin to understand how much we have in common, so that Pope and Patriarch can stand together in common witness to Christ.
#45 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-12-07 17:58
The papal example is very appropriate in understanding what has gone wrong in the episcopal leadership of the OCA. All of the schisms of the Church and divisions among Christians stem from a rejection of the apostolic model of conciliar and collegial leadership. Our Lord called twelve and then seventy more to become apostles because He fully understood the propensity for tyranny in a monarchy. Israel’s rejection of the judges and desire for a king led to great suffering and sorrow. When one bishop, priest, monk, or lay leader in the Church thinks he knows better than the collective Body of Christ, it is always a recipe for disaster.
#46 Marc Trolinger on 2006-12-08 07:04
I beg to differ a little with Kenneth: If we do have competing ecclesiogies, the OCA is in outright heresy; but isn't ecclesiology the understanding of the nature of the Church itself? Yes, the authority of hierarchs is certain an ecclesiological issue, yet it is not the whole of ecclesiology. We have competing views about the extend of episcopal authorirty, not ecclesiology in general - I hope.
While this term has been bothering me, it is a matter of semantics, and I hope people will forgive me if it seems too picky. I don't mean to play semantic games. It just struck me as the wrong term - one that implied something far broader and theologically more serious. At the same time, in terms of our pragmatic reality, I am with Kenneth all the way - this vision must not prevail. Papam NON habemus.
#47 Sine Nomine on 2006-12-09 04:56
1) It doesn't take a liturgical scholar to recognise that the structure of the Byzantine anaphora is an ongoing dialogue. The beginning is obviously a dialogue, but what do the words "singing the triumphant hymn…" mean in isolation? If I were to just walk up to you and say those words, they would be meaningless. They do not form a complete sentence as there is no active verb. The same holds true with 'Thine own of Thine own" which, only relatively recently in Greek and then in English was rendered with the active verb 'we offer'; the original in Greek, and still in Slavonic is 'offering' (prospherontes / prenosyashikh). Even in its modern rendering "Thine Own of Thine Own" is out of context when said in isolation, but in truth, it is part of a dialogue: After the words of the Saviour, the anaemnesis "Remembering this saving commandment" is a single sentence that includes "Thine own of Thine Own." "We praise Thee…" is the choir's copletion of that sentence. Only there do we get an active verb. They are grammatically, syntactically, and logically connected. They are meant together, not as one part for the priest/bishop exclusively and the other for the laity. Nevertheless, it has been the practice in the Church throughout the world for many centuries now to recite the anaphora silently.
2) With no intent to demean the Pope or Roman Catholics in general, I'd say that it seems quite evident that the Brum doctrine represents far more a Latin line of thinking, which is incompatible with Orthodoxy. The comparison between the Brum doctrine and the stated role of the Roman Curia seems self evident - res ipsa loquitur.
3) As for the stucture of the Church - she is both hierarchical and conciliar. The very word 'katholiki' is rendered as 'sobornuyu' in Slavonic. By her very nature she must have headship in the persons of the episkopoi (bishops). By the same token, the episkopoi, are not true episkopoi if they have no flock to shepherd (watch over). St Ignatius of Antioch commends the bishop to be held in honour, and that nothing be done without him. Amen. This does not mean that the bishop is a prince or king with the privilege to rule as though he were everything and those 'under' him were nothing, or, at best, merely personal servants. He is to be to his flock as shepherd, father, guardian; not prince and lord. The Church is hierarchical, not feudal. That is the point that certain hierarchs don't seem to quite get.
#48 Sine Nomine on 2006-12-09 05:28
Dear in Christ,
Mark please accept our best for the way you sacrify your time and talents in keeping alive this site.
I truly invite you all to pay attention to the biography of Fr Brum and realize that he just has nine years within the Orthodox Church. His blood, mentality and conduct is genuine Roman Catholic. He does not have anything in common with the Orthodox Church.
I do not wonder how something like this really happened namely to face so called "Brum Doctrine". The Roman Catholic Church does not have the same canonical code as the Orthodox Church has.
However, it is amazing how Fr Brum betrayed the Roman Catholic Church, then came to the Orthodoxy through the OCA Diocese of West, did his own best distorting the proper interpretation of the Church Canons and created "a Syosset papism" under the protection of R Kondratick and with the blessing of + Theodosius and + Herman. What ever he did is a shame for the OCA.
This is a sign that the OCA theological schools (so called Seminaries) do not have good teachers in Canons and Laws, and allowed something like this (the Brum Doctrine) to be put in place and abused even by the OCA Primates + Theodosius and + Herman (Gherman).
The Brum doctrine is part of the OCA history as negative and shameful. Do not wonder my dear in Christ that the same poor theological knowledge is proper to the OCA hierarchs. We are not proud about the way the OCA Synod members did attend the theological schools and do not show any respect to the Church Canons. No study of canons, no respect for canons, just Brum Doctrine and abuse of power.
Then, HOW were they elected as bishops, because it is crystal clearly that they should have knowledge of Church Canons as they did the confession of faith before they were consacrated as bishops. It looks like everything was done very superficially and irresponsably. At the present time everyone as part of the OCA and not only is paying the price for the lack of knowledge of Canons and laws by the OCA hierarchs, but also is suffering injustice and abuse.
The Orthodox Church is not an army even though some OCA hierarchs were in the army. The consequences of poor theological preparation are paid off by the OCA members who are watching the current OCA financial scandal.
The only way out of this 'Brum / Syosset papism' is to accept the resignation of all OCA hierarchs who were not in line with the Orthodox Church Canons (+Herman, Tikhon, Demetri, Nathaniel,) and to revise the OCA Statute including the canonical provisions regarding the bishops duties and responsabilities as Church hierarchs. The current OCA Statute do not have any value, this is the reason they are not mandatory to the OCA Bishops.
The Brum Doctrine should be abolished. It should be part of the agenda of the next AAC. Fr Brum should be kicked out of the OCA for the way his doctrine was formulated and blindly used and abused by the OCA metropolitan. + Herman should resign immediately as one who does not have respect and obedience to the Orthodox Church Canons. A humble OCA hierarch should replace him immediately.
+ Herman should be put to trial by the OCA Synod members for abuse and neglect of all biblical and canonical provisions regarding the Church hierarch primate position, life style, abuse of power, abuse of people. He does not deserve to be the OCA primate any longer. His era is over. He should decently retire or resign, and the OCA history will not present his image the way he likes, but the way he acted as a primate.
We cannot move on blindly and irresponsibly. It is the proper time to really clean our house (the OCA) stahring from the top level. The longer this process is postponed the worse.
Let us reflect upon our future and ask again for the resignation of + Herman.
An OCA theologian.
Name withheld at this time.
12. 10. 2006
#49 Anonymous on 2006-12-10 02:08
I want to offer my response to the comments made by many about the Roman Catholic and Orthodox visions of ecclesiology and the practical implications of those visions. I do this on the basis of my own experience both as a canonically ordained Orthodox priest in the United States who has "converted" from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. (To the surprise of some in Orthodoxy, there are many such converts – even among priests.)
Suffice it to say, my experience of "Episcopal authority" in the Orthodox Church and then again in the Roman Church leads me to conclude that, whatever the stated doctrinal positions are, the Orthodox position "in the real world" is remarkably much more authoritarian and prone to active abuse than the Roman Catholic. Although conciliarity/collegiality is a concept that reads well, the reality is that the current understanding of this concept in the OCA and other jurisdictions in the US has made each bishop a "pope" in his own diocese and each autocephalous hierarch a "pope" in his own autocephalous Church (i.e., the Brum Doctrine). So, ironically, instead of having one Pope thousands of miles away (who only possesses an abstract, mediated authority exercised through layers of authority within the boundaries set by canon law), the Orthodox have multiple Popes (with unmediated authority often in the very "backyard" of priests' homes and parish temples operating according to their own interpretations of liturgical history and/or their own version of economia). Ironically, the historical record clearly shows that the Universal Pontiff has far less authority in practical and financial matters than any Orthodox Bishop has in his own diocese.
On a personal level, I have witnessed the outcome of this unlimited authority and lack of unaccountability. In my years of serving at the altar, I knew many painful events -- Orthodox bishops yelling at priests, throwing liturgy books on the floor, reprimanding priests with great anger, etc. I have also observed Orthodox bishops sidelining and silencing priests for no other reason than their personal dislike for the priest, etc. I have known of priests who have been left "out in the cold" for years unable to serve but with no charges brought against them, etc. all because of one bishop's dislike for them.
Why can Orthodox bishops get away with this? In a word, there is no accountability—quite literally, there is no authority to whom the autonomous Diocesan Bishop or Autocephalous Hierarch is accountable. (As one more example, I remember one bishop who told me, “I am the Typicon.”) Why can Met Herman get away with what he has done, and why was Met Theodosius able to get away with what he did? -- In a word, lack of accountability. Why has the OCA continuously been embarrassed by the actions and words of Bishop Tikhon? Lack of accountability! Each Bishop is a "Dictator" in his own Diocese. Thank God that some of them are pious and thus exercise their leadership lovingly, but the fact remains that there is little that can be done when they do not. This is especially true for married priests who are forced to endure their abuse silently and are threatened with the loss of income if they object. This is equally true for priest wives and children, many of whom bear deep scars from the abuse they have watched their husband/father endure.
The Orthodox system has had and continues to have a serious problem dealing with rogue Bishops; the history of Orthodoxy in America makes this clear. Jurisdictionalism is one clear result (e.g., Bishop Anthimos, etc.). Quite obviously, as this site has made clear, the Bishops and Hierarchs of the OCA do not see the problem and thus are not willing to confront it by giving up some of their power and working to establish true conciliarity and accountability both to each other and to the larger universal (catholic) Church.
It is for this reason that this site is so important. My belief is that the Orthodox who write on this site, together with others, need to continue to take this lack of accountability seriously and work together within the very large and flexible Orthodox-Catholic tradition to devise new strategies for dealing with the very real problem of hierarchical abuse which is afflicting the Church.
P.S. My humble request is that they/you do this without casting stones at the Roman Catholics who have their own issues to deal with! (If we could recognize our mutual faith and acknowledge that without each other we are prone to unhealthy extremes, perhaps the dream of unity could be realized again!) For the Roman system has its problems as well. As the recent priestly abuse scandals reveals it has its problems. The Roman system puts each bishop "under authority" with a chain of authority leading back to the Roman Pontiff. The problem with the Roman system is that the Bishops end up so caught in the system of mediated authority that they can do very little if anything to clean things up. Contrary to Orthodox fears, most often the problem in the RC world is a lack of authority and a lack of action rather than the abuse of authority.
#50 Anonymous on 2006-12-11 11:43
Is there ANY Orthodox Catholic entity which DOES correctly identify itself as 'Catholic' in its title? ...
NOT 'Orthodox Church in America' but, 'Orthodox Catholic Church in America'; NOT 'Antiochian Orthodox' but ' Antiochian Orthodox Catholic '; NOT 'Greek Orthodox' but 'Greek Orthodox Catholic''; etc, etc ...
The Orthodox Churches ARE Catholic because that is what they ARE orthodox of as per our (Orthodox) Catholic Creed: One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church ...
#51 Victor Chacho on 2006-12-13 13:55
"But how that authority is exercised and shared..." Authority is not shared, that is the point. Of course the laity has responsibility, but that is not authority. Do you not trust the Holy Spirit with the ultimate authority of the Church? Will the Church be destroyed because the laity don't have democratic rights? Jesus says no.
It certainly appears that at some level the hierarchy of the OCA has major problems. Fortunately, however it gets worked out, justice will be served. It may not be our justice, and we may not be the ones to serve it, but it will happen. I pray for mercy, for myself and for those involved in any wrong doing.
What is our responsibility as laity. It is to pray and to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance for ourselves and our Hierarchs. Our responsibility also mean being vocal in our support of traditional Orthodox norms of our Hierarchs. Although I do not agree with everything Mr. Stokoe writes, I believe he is exercising his responsibility.
#52 Seraphim on 2006-12-14 20:00
First, our Lord didn't answer the question you have posed.
Second, "sharing" or if you prefer "delegating" authority is not democracy--that is a "red herring."
Third, the Holy Spirit does not work exclusively through the Heirarchy--thank goodness.
Finally, "however it works out, justice will be served" doesn't make the grade in my book. That kind of fatalism is why we are in such a mess today.
#53 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-12-15 11:41
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