The confusion over the recent unexpected and unexplained cryptic decision by the Holy Synod of the Antiochian Orthodox Church continues. According to the letter released by the Archbishop's office March 3, 2009, priests are inquiring as to what the decision means. I was curious that in the Sunday Liturgy at our own church, our former Bishiop Antoun was commemorated as has been the practice even though he was no longer our Bishop. According to the following letter, only Metropolitan Philip's name will be mentioned from this point on unless an Auxiliary Bishop is physically present.
Metropolitan PHILIP writes:
To all clergy of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:
We greet you in the spirit of this Great Lent.
Some of our clergy have inquired about hierarchical commemorations in the divine services. In order to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding, we would like to direct your attention to the following:
On February 24th, 2009 the Holy Synod of Antioch amended Chapter VI of the by-laws of the Patriarchate, which now reads:
The Metropolitan is the point of reference of all bishops in his Archdiocese and they are under his authority.
All bishops within the Antiochian See are auxiliary bishops and are directly under their spiritual authority.
The Metropolitan defines the responsibilities of the bishops and the place where they should serve. The bishop does not do anything contrary to the will of the Metropolitan.
Therefore, in accordance with the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch, the following is the proper order for the commemoration of hierarchs in the divine services:
- The clergy should commemorate the Metropolitan in all divine services.
- The clergy should commemorate the auxiliary bishop when he is present at the divine service.
It is expected that all clergy will strictly adhere to this directive. May the journey to the Empty Tomb bring you all the joy of the Glorious Resurrection.
Your father in Christ,
It seems it would be prudent for the Metropolitan to inform those under his care as to the reason and purpose of the change and what the people of North America may expect from his point on. Anything other seems cryptic.