Monday, March 16, 2009

"Special" Meeting Called

Continuing the cryptic nature of the recent decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch and Metropolitan Philip's support of the demotion all Bishops to the status of Auxiliary, this announcement appears on the website.
The meeting would have to be "special" considering the unprecedented move of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America to that of a single ruled church jurisdiction by fiat. What happened to consensus? How is it canonical that the Self-Ruled agreement, constitution and bylaws are stricken overnight with the support of the Metropolitan and without the consensus of the Bishops who rule? Papist? Certainly not the Orthodox way. We can only hope that the specialness of the meeting is so-called because our demoted Bishops will not stand for such an independent act outside the canonical method of governing. No Patriarch nor Metropolitan is above the will of God.

It would behoove the Metropolitan to come into the open concerning the actual real life reasons The Decision (of the Holy Synod) was made in the first place. Thinking that the use of phrases such as "preserve the unity" is sufficient communication highly underestimates the reaction of the laymen to such ambiguity. It would also behoove the Metropolitan to invite some laymen and lowly, subservient priests to the Special Meeting so as not to rule from an Episcopal Tower. JTO is hearing from priests and laymen who all express consternation and alarm that will not be quenched by posturing and subterfuge.

Whether it was The Decision itself or the method in which it was made, it has resulted in turmoil and has the potential of severely dividing what has been one of the most respected jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church. If the Patriarch or the Metropolitan determine that they can rule without the consensus of the people as a measure to the rightness of their decisions, then they have become isolated and out of touch indeed. How will you lead if there is no one left to follow? More than one has told JTO that they can get no response from the Metropolitan's office. JTO has personally experienced this with a previous matter in which a mailed letter went unanswered. Is anyone home up there?

The proof of Holiness in our Bishops and Parish Priests in this hour will be whether they will care more to safeguard their careers and positions rather than the Church of Christ. Will they stand for the right or will they cower under ecclesiastical power? There is a common story that once Metropolitan Philip was in conversation with a parishioner concerning the Canons. As the parishioner was giving his opinion the Metropolitan interrupted, "You don't tell me what the Canons say. I tell you." Could this be the pervasive attitude that is The Decision? Could this be the hierarchical papist attitude that causes the great divide of the Antiochian Church? Pride comes before the fall and until evidence and answers are forthcoming as to the rightness of the recent events, conclusion are limited to the negatives.

I have always said, "It is a wide Church." Damascus Syria, where the See of Antioch resides, is not larger than the state of Nebraska. In North America there are no more than 55,000 parishioners the Antiochian Diocese. There are almost 300 million Orthodox worldwide and about 500,000 of all jurisdictions in North America. If Metropolitans or Patriarchs err in matters of Canons or faith to the harm of the people they must either repent, be removed or the people must remove to another diocese. I hope all, including our Bishops and Priests, will consider this as a viable option should The Decision be revealed to be one not from the heart and will of Christ.


  1. Anonymous8:10 AM

    Perhaps it is time for the Bishops to remove the Metropolitan and decare themselves autocephalous. In time Damacus will miss the money and acknowledge the same. Meanwhile we can continue working toward an American Orthodox Church.

  2. Anon,
    Since North American Antioch is Self-ruled it seems that should be a viable option, however, the rules don't seem to apply here as seen by the Metropolitan and Patriarch's decision. Any move in that regard by the Bishops would be provocative, but standing up for righteousness is always such. Schism, Schism, whose got the Schism...

    PS I always wonder if Anon posters like yourself are priests in hiding... Are you?

  3. There are many people posting anonymously fearing retribution, which is a legit fear. I've seen this "do as we say or else" stance many times before throughout Church history, just recently in the OCA. It never turns out well.

    Met. Phillip has apparently been corrupted absolutely by his absolute power, and it's also apparent he will not relinquish it until it is taken from him. Then question is who will take it first: the Lord God, or us?

  4. Vir, I am not certain I can forbear a priest fearing "retribution". God forbid that any who has received the sacrament of Holy Orders preserve his own life and career over preserving and protecting the Church which is the body of Christ. Have we not given our lives as a sacrifice just as He did? "For I have been crucified with Christ, yet nevertheless I live, yet it is not I who live but Christ who lives in me and the life that I now live, I live by faith in Him who loved me and gave Himself for me." God give us the might of the most Holy Spirit to stand, speak, and move according to his dictates and not our own.

  5. Anonymous9:41 PM

    You say "I am not certain I can forbear a priest fearing "retribution"". I would question that. In charity, shouldn’t we consider that a priest might have a family and is he not responsible to them and enjoined to exercise prudence in his actions? We may have to "take up our cross" but is it right to put others to the test? There is nothing inherently wrong with secrecy, deception or mental reservation, especially if it to defend the innocent. Perhaps the anonymous priest might want to defend his flock against possible retribution? If some Nazi storm trooper showed up at you door and was looking for Jews and you were harboring a Jewish family what would you do? It is true that good cannot be brought about by doing evil but are we to encourage evildoers by facilitating their attack on the innocent?

  6. Dear Anon...HUH? The issue is standing up in the face of heresy, proclaiming or denying Christ, like all the saints of the ages have been called on to do. This is not about a simple disagreement with Hierarchy. If those in leadership over us become apostates either by Ecumenism, Sergianism, failing to adhere to the Canons and Ecumenical Councils already established, then the said priest must not choose his career over his GOD. Defend the innocent? Secrecy? These are non sequiter. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul? Remove the heretic or remove yourself and your whole parish if needs be, but do not remain in communion with those who bring leaven into the body! This is scripture! Forgive me for shouting, but you have so missed the seriousness of the times in which we are living and in the all-out attack on the Orthodox Church.

  7. Anon, One more thing...Could your "hunker down in secrecy to protect your own" idea be the very reason the whole church has not stood up in mass and denounced the Orthodox Church's involvement in the World Council of Churches which blatantly promotes all faiths as equal paths to God? Is it not time the priests and the people stand up and throw the heretics out...starting with Patriarch Bartholomew?


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