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Friday, April 24, 2009

Does Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Have Authority Over the Whole of Orthodoxy?

"In true Orthodoxy, canonicity is not determined by individuals and church politics, but by the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils. There is no canon promulgated by any of the Seven Ecumenical Councils which even remotely suggests that every single Orthodox Jurisdiction must be in full communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. It would be churlish to suggest that given his greatly diminished territorial stature (the Turkish government recently reminded him of the tiny Christian population of his see) he should be stripped of his title of First among Equals. He should rightly remain as the first spokesman of the Church (although the current Patriarch’s dalliance with ecumenism is causing questions to be raised amongst some Churches in this regard). But at no time should he be regarded as exercising any form of temporal or ecclesial jurisdiction. He is simply the 270th successor of the Apostle Andrew in the See of Constantinople; and that is the greatest of his honours." (See the Full Article HERE from The Hermitage Journal) [UPDATE: 3/9/11-The link provided here has joined a series of links making itself available to members only and is password protected. Prompting the question, why? Seems there are more "orthodox" sites becoming unavailable to the public since the coup of the MP. Also watch for revisionist history, particularly in new additions of books and other Orthodox materials.]

So stop throwing around the phrase "You must be "canonical" as if every Orthodox Bishop must be in communion or under the reign of the Ecumenical Patriarch. That concept is Papism and Papism is certainly not canonical. A Bishopric/Church/Diocese is canonical if it has authentic succession, follows the canons of the Church as presented by the historic Ecumenical Councils, and teaches what has been believed by the Church at all times in all places. This is what Antiochian Metropolitan Philip has refused to accept as he has recently demanded the written acquiescence of his fellow Bishops to the Antiochian Patriarch's decision to demote them without cause.

Here are some of the more relevant questions about canonicity:

1. Is Pseudo-Patriarch Bartholomew canonical when he teaches that there are paths to God other than through Jesus Christ? Do the churches who remain in communion with the heretical Patriarch retain their canonicity?

2. Are Bishops canonical when they issue an edict forbidding all Orthodox to evangelize people of other "christian faiths" in order to preserve "unity"?

3. Is a Bishop or church canonical when it follows a New Calender innovation introduced by a single heretical Masonic Bishop removing that which was practiced by the whole Church and since the First Ecumenical Council?

4. Is any jurisdiction canonical when it considers the Roman Catholic Church to be a sister church sharing the same Eucharistic sacrament?

The Ecumenical Patriarch has been uncanonical in all of these matters. One cannot with integrity broach the issue of canonicity without dealing first with these and other similar questions.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Question: "Should not we cease to emphasize our differences and unite in a spirit of love?"

Answer: "If we, supposedly in the name of love, so as not to trouble our neighbors, are going to keep quiet about their error and not explain to them that they are on a false path, then this is not love at all but hatred! Does he do well who, upon seeing a blind man approaching a precipice, does not tell him about it, so as not to 'trouble' him? Is that then love?"

Antiochians And All Other Parishoners Of "World Orthodoxy"

This is the theology of your hierarchy- your Ecumenical Patriarch, your Patriarchs, your Metropolitans, your Bishops, your Priests and your Deacons who are part of SCOBA and are part of the World Council of Churches and who adopted the following mission statement. Is this what you believe?

The Barr Statement of the World Council of Churches

"That in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word the entire human family has been united to God in an irrevocable bond and covenant. The saving presence of God's activity in all creation in all creation and human history comes to its focal point in the event of Christ...

[Good so far? Look at the rest...]

...because we have experienced goodness, truth and holiness among followers of other paths and ways than that of Jesus Christ..., we find ourselves recognizing a need to move beyond a theology which confines salvation to the explicit personal commitment to Jesus Christ."

"Choose you this day whom you will serve."



Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saint John Chrysostom's Pascal Homely

If any man be devout and loveth God,
Let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast!
If any man be a wise servant,
Let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.

If any have laboured long in fasting,
Let him how receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour,
Let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour,
Let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour,
Let him have no misgivings;
Because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour,
Let him draw near, fearing nothing.
And if any have tarried even until the eleventh hour,
Let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness.

For the Lord, who is jealous of his honour,
Will accept the last even as the first.
He giveth rest unto him who cometh at the eleventh hour,
Even as unto him who hath wrought from the first hour.
And He showeth mercy upon the last,
And careth for the first;
And to the one He giveth,
And upon the other He bestoweth gifts.
And He both accepteth the deeds,
And welcometh the intention,
And honoureth the acts and praises the offering.

Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord;
Receive your reward,
Both the first, and likewise the second.
You rich and poor together, hold high festival!
You sober and you heedless, honour the day!
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted
And you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously.
The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith:
Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail his poverty,
For the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities,
For pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
For the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.

By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry:
Hell, said he, was embittered
When it encountered Thee in the lower regions.

It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
Is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be glory and dominion
Unto ages of ages.

Amen.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"A Brief Analysis of the Current Situation in the Antiochian Archdiocese"


Unsigned Document
Full PDF File Here

A Brief Analysis of the Current Situation in the Antiochian Archdiocese April 6, 2009

What Happened?

In February, the Holy Synod met and claimed to have changed its bylaws to “normalize” its rules governing non-Metropolitan bishops, even though it did not have a quorum present to issue a binding decision under its own rules.

In the Antiochian Church today, there are only three bishops, other than our own Diocesan Bishops, who are not Metropolitans—and one of these bishops—the Patriarchal Vicar—is not permitted to be a Metropolitan. Although couched as a decision affecting the entire Patriarchate, the decision, if binding, would affect North America disproportionately.

Metropolitan PHILIP then issued a directive stating that, as a result of the Holy Synod’s decision, our Diocesan Bishops were (a) reduced in status to Auxiliary Bishops and (b) not permitted to do anything contrary to the will of the Metropolitan.

Metropolitan PHILIP regularly states that this is a “narrow administrative change” and that nothing really changed—the Local Synod continues to exist and the bishops in the Archdiocese just have an added title to their names—“Auxiliary.” Quite the opposite is true. Although the Local Synod may still “make decisions,” Metropolitan PHILIP’s directive clearly prohibits any bishops from opposing his own will, as some have in the past.
Is the Action Binding on the Archdiocese?

The Holy Synod’s action is not binding because it is noncanonical. The Holy Canons are exceedingly clear that one bishop may not be subjected to the authority of another bishop without (a) the consent of the affected bishop or (b) a conviction of the affected bishop by an ecclesiastical court for conduct unbecoming a bishop or teaching or action contrary to Scriptures, the Holy Canons, or Holy Tradition. This ecclesiological structure is one of the fundamental differences between Holy Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism; Holy Orthodoxy does not tolerate and has never tolerated superbishops. Metropolitan PHILIP himself has said, in response to a query from Bishop BASIL, that none of the Diocesan Bishops have done anything wrong.

The Holy Synod’s action is not binding because its decision was not properly taken in accordance with its own rules that require a quorum of at least 11 of its 20 members to be present before it can take binding action. The signatures of only 9 members were affixed to the document faxed to Metropolitan PHILIP, and the presence of at least one of those bishops was unlikely. Metropolitan PHILIP indicates that the document was faxed to other members of the Synod for approval, but signatures after the meeting by members not present would not make the action binding after the fact.

The Holy Synod’s action is not binding because its decision violates its grant of self-rule to the Archdiocese in 2003. The Holy Synod bound itself to revising its own Constitution to reflect the special “self-rule” status for our Archdiocese. Although the Holy Synod never got around to amending its Constitution as promised, its failure in this regard did not make self-rule any less of a reality.

On a number of previous occasions (primarily dealing with differences in the Archdiocesan Constitution as adopted by the General Assembly and as approved by the Holy Synod), Metropolitan PHILIP and the Archdiocesan Legal Department themselves have insisted in no uncertain terms that:

The Holy Synod’s grant of self-rule was irrevocable; and

The Holy Synod, by reason of its grant of self-rule, was not permitted to interfere in the administration of the Archdiocese.

Since 2003, our Diocesan Bishops have been exempt from the rules that the Holy Synod attempted to amend in February:

The Holy Synod’s Bylaws have always contained rules that make non-Metropolitan bishops into what we refer to as “Auxiliary Bishops.”

The Holy Synod’s grant of self-rule to our Archdiocese removed our Diocesan Bishop from the scope of these rules.

The Holy Synod’s purported action in February simply amended the existing rules governing Auxiliary Bishops and would, if binding, have no effect on our Diocesan Bishops—they have been exempt from these rules since the Holy Synod granted self-rule to our Archdiocese.

The Metropolitan’s directive violates the Archdiocesan Certificate of Incorporation and the Constitution approved by the people.

Section 2(c) of the Archdiocese’s Certificate of Incorporation provides that, if the provisions of the Archdiocesan Constitution are not followed as the result of an action taken outside the Archdiocese, both the Board of Trustees and the Local Synod must take “all necessary action to protect the Archdiocese.” Our Board of Trustees and Local Synod (including Metropolitan PHILIP) have a legal obligation to take all necessary action to protect the Archdiocese from any attempts by the Holy Synod to reduce the status of our Diocesan Bishops.

The Archdiocesan Constitution provides very clearly that the decision-making power in the Archdiocese resides in the Local Synod and not in the Metropolitan.

Metropolitan PHILIP and the Archdiocesan Legal Department have reminded the Faithful many times that the Archdiocesan Constitution may only be changed by following the procedures set forth in it. These procedures have not been followed, in disregard of both (a) the Constitution approved by the Faithful and (b) the Metropolitan’s own past insistences.

Why was this Done?

At this time, we can only speculate as to the reasons for this action. The national Association of Orthodox Christian Attorneys has published a helpful and well-documented factual timeline of the Archdiocese’s path to self-rule and situations that have occurred since at http://www.orthodoxattorneys.org/resources.html.

The facts, themselves, suggest a number of reasons, but it is up to you to develop your own thoughts in the matter. www.ocanews.org also has some excellent discussion of this issue, but you must be careful to distinguish between fact and rumor.
What can be Done?

Pray. The prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

Think clearly. Our Metropolitan has done much good for this Archdiocese. There may be a temptation, as was the case with (Father) Joseph Allen, to give Metropolitan PHILIP what he wants simply because he has done these good things. The Metropolitan’s directive, however, strikes at the very heart of the Orthodox Faith. Never before in history has our Church permitted the authority of a bishop to be reduced by other bishops without that bishop’s consent or a conviction of that bishop for wrongdoing. The Metropolitan wants us to accept his short-term practical answer (“nothing has really changed”) to a question both of principle (“do the Canons permit this?”) and one of long-term reality (“assuming nothing would really change during the Metropolitan’s tenure, what happens after he dies?”).

Act like a responsible Orthodox Christian layperson.

When a bishop acts in a manner not sanctioned by the Holy Orthodox Church, the laity have a distinct role that they are obligated to exercise—the laity are the guarantee of the Orthodoxy of the Church. When most of the bishops at the Council of Florence signed a statement of agreement with the Papal authorities, they returned home to laity who refused to comply. Ultimately, these bishops either recanted their agreements or were treated as heretics because of the pressure brought by the people.

Consider contacting all members of the Board of Trustees and the Local Synod (including your Diocesan Bishop), encouraging them to hold fast against this noncanonical situation and to meet their legal obligation to protect this Archdiocese from the Holy Synod’s attempted action.

Advocate for the true practice of our Orthodox Faith; don’t attack people or personalities. Be respectful in all that you do, no matter how distasteful you find something.

Understand that not everyone is compelled to protest this action in the same manner. Different Orthodox Christians will find different ways that are best suited to their souls.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Heretical State-Owned Moscow Patriarchate Strikes Again!

From Bishop Andrew Of the ROAC:

As has been reported in recent news stories, the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church is being sued for possession of 13 churches that it received from local authorities over the past 15-20 years, which were received by us in utterly ruined conditions and carefully renovated and returned to use as churches at our expense. The cases were heard at trial on February 5th by the Vladimir Regional Court of Arbitration. This court ruled against the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church and ordered the local authorities to confiscate the churches. We were given 30 days to vacate the buildings. Appeals were begun, and recently the Court of Appeals postponed the hearing of these cases until the 24th of April. Believing that the Court of Appeals is prejudiced against us, and in compliance with the court order, our people have been trying to gradually remove our belongings from these churches - vestments, icons, church vessels, books, etc. Two of our deacons were recently detained by the local police, who explained that they had received a request from the Moscow Patriarchate not to allow us to remove our own belongings from these churches. Apparently, they think that they have a right even to those furnishings that we have placed in these churches.

Today, on Orthodox Good Friday, Metropolitan Valentine made a frantic telephone call to Bishop Andrew of Pavlovskoye, who resides in the US, and had time enough to say only that he and those with him have been arrested for entering the church to serve Holy Week services, before his telephone call was cut off.

We ask all of our people to pray for the deliverance of our FIRST HIERARCH from police custody, and we ask all men of good will, who value the rights of people everywhere to pray in peace and freedom of conscience, as supposedly guaranteed by the Constitution of the new Russian Federation, to make their concerns known to the authorities both in Russia and in their respective countries.

Bishop Andrew
95 Elm Street
Elmwood Park, NJ 07407 USA

Telephone: (347) 321-4870
Mobile: (551) 580-4965
Fax: (208) 730-7551
Email: bishopandrei@gmail.com

UPDATE: 9 pm 4/17/09 Metropolitan Valentine has been released. More to follow...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Question For The Entire Orthodox World- About Baptism

Here is the question:

Is there any scenario in which an individual who has NOT been baptized by

"triple immersion" AND in "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit",


can be received into the Orthodox Church through Chrismation alone?

Rules for responding:

1. You must be Orthodox to answer.
2. Keep answers to five sentences or less.( You may refer to links for documentation.)

3. Refrain from personal opinion.

Thanks!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Approach of The One World Church

World orthodoxy is the end-time Church in ecumenical union either directly, or by association, with the one world church about to be revealed.

The equation should be: Julian (old) Calendar + Holy Tradition + The Seven Ecumenical Councils + the Holy Scriptures + the Holy Fathers = Holy Orthodoxy.

Today, world orthodoxy is abandoning, more and more, one or more of the "parts" which make up this equation.

How Apostasy Approaches:



Notice how it flees when confronted face to face!

Monday, April 06, 2009

A Letter Of Appeal From His Grace Bishop Andrew

--> -->
Dear All,

My name is Bishop Andrew of Pavlovskoye. I am the American representative of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church. We are a small group of about 200 communities, worldwide, who do not belong to the “official” Russian Orthodox Church in Russia headed by the recently elected “Patriarch Kirill.” We consider his group, the “Moscow Patriarchate,” to be nothing more than an apostate group, which long ago (1927) opted to serve the interests of the Soviet state, and now the Russian Federation, rather than follow the examples of numerous martyrs for the purity of our ancestral Russian Orthodox faith. The people of our communities are some of the last members of the Church in Russia that was underground for 80 years, or existed in the free countries of the world without recognizing the stolen authority of the so-called patriarchs of Moscow during this period.
The present-day Russian government, in spite of its constitutional guarantees of freedom of conscience, or religion, has been trying for 20 years now, to force us to either join the Moscow Patriarchate, or cease operating. Officially in Russia, there is supposed to be separation of church and state. The church is indeed separated from the government, but the government is not separated from the church. All religions operating in Russia today are supposed to be equal before the law. No one church is supposed to have any more or any less rights than any other. Russian citizens, after so many years of brutal repression, are supposed to be guaranteed today the right to believe as they desire and practice accordingly.
The latest event in the oppression against our Church was the decision on Feb. 5th, of the Vladimir Regional Court to take away all of our church buildings in Suzdal, buildings that we restored from ruins over the last 20 years or so at our own expense in exchange for the right to use these churches indefinitely rent-free. According to Russian law, these buildings can only be used for their original intended purpose - religious ceremonies. That is exactly what we were using them for. Our people in Suzdal have been told that the buildings are not going anywhere; they will not be torn down. If they want to use them, all they have to do is change leadership and realign themselves with the local hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate. Our bishops have been attacked physically, slandered with every imaginable charge, arrested, and threatened. Yesterday, our Chief Hierarch, Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir returned to Russia after a two-week stay. During his stay, we traveled to Washington, DC, and met with several organizations there. I received your email addresses as people who might be interested in writing about our plight. We need help. The only thing that we believe can help in this situation, besides God’s help, of course, is making the world aware of just what is going on in the Russia of today. The leaders of today’s Russian government are still sensitive to public opinion, and little else.
Whether you believe as we do or not, is not the point. If the human rights of our faithful, citizens of Russia, which claims to be a democratic nation, a member of the civilized nations of the world, can be done away with without even the slightest sign of disfavor, then who will be next on the list? Won’t you please raise your voice, inquire into the particulars of these events, and write something to bring the attention of the world to this gross miscarriage of justice?

Thanking you in advance

Bishop Andrew
95 Elm Street
Elmwood Park, NJ 07407 USA

Telephone: (347) 321-4870
Mobile: (551) 580-4965
Fax: (208) 730-7551

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Choose Gods For Yourselves Today Whom You Will Serve...

...But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord, because He is holy.

The Orthodox World Church in union with Papal Globalism

through the heresy of Ecumenism.
A documentary in three parts.

Part One


Part Two


Part Three


"Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins,
and lest you receive of her plagues."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hard Questions Hard Answers


On March 17th, 2009, Protopresbyter Paul O'Callaghan and The Council of Presbyters of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America wrote a letter to Metropolitan Philip concerning the demotion of the Antiochian Bishops to the status of Auxiliary. Two things are noteworthy and commendable. One is that the Diocese representatives took courage to respectfully ask a series of questions seemingly challenging the recent decision and secondly that Antiochian.org decided to publish it for all to see. The following is the letter and Metropolitan Philip's point by point response to each question. With such detailed answers as to the whys of the unprecedented action on the part of the Holy Synod of Antioch, the discussion can now begin over the canonisity of such action. In reviewing the letter and response it is not difficult to ascertain that opinion has asserted itself in the Synod's decision. It remains to be seen if the opinion is consistent with the canons and practices of the church. It also remains to be seen as to whether or not the questioners and others whose discourse has been in a less visible forum will remain in communion with the Metropolitan and the Patriarch.
March 17, 2009
Your Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP,
Master, bless.
Our Council of Presbyters met today at St. George Cathedral, Wichita, KS, with deans and elected presbyters, to study the recent decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch regarding the status of diocesan and auxiliary bishops.
With love and reverence, we seek your counsel on the following questions that arose during our deliberations. We assure you of our prayers and respect as our beloved Metropolitan of this Holy and God-Protected Archdiocese, and our love and respect for His Grace, Bishop BASIL. We pray for your continued good health.
We humbly submit the following questions for your consideration.
1. Are there any other diocesan bishops, outside our Archdiocese, that are affected by the Holy Synod's decision?
2. There seems to be differences in tone and meaning between the Arabic original and the English translations of Articles 77 and 78. Can these be clarified?
3. What were the intentions of the Holy Synod in formulating these amendments?
4. Is the Pittsburgh Constitution binding, since it was duly approved and implemented by the legally binding decision made at special Archdiocesan Convention of July 2004?
5. Since official Archdiocesan documents state that the provisions for self-rule, including those pertaining to the local synod of the Archdiocese, are irrevocable, as witnessed both by the Pittsburgh Constitution and the Patriarchal version of October 15, 2004, how can they be overturned by amendment of the Patriarchal by-laws?
6. Given that the granting of self-rule required that the Patriarchal Constitution be amended to reflect the self-ruled status of the North American Archdiocese, and that this constitution governs its by-laws, not vice versa, how could the Constitution be overturned by amendments of by-laws?
7. What was the need, and why the urgency, for a special meeting of the Holy Synod of Antioch? Were constitutional procedures followed for the calling of that meeting?
8. Given the fact that the mechanism of resolution for possible problems or disagreements is specified in our Constitution as belonging to the Local Synod of Bishops, with right of appeal to the Patriarch and the Holy Synod, why were these amendments necessary?
9. We are not aware of any study, investigation, or report containing information regarding concerns of disunity or other issues of disagreement within our Archdiocese. What was done by our bishops that precipitated the Holy Synod's decision? Did the Patriarch discuss these issues with our bishops when he visited in the fall of 2008?
10. How can enthroned diocesan bishops be dethroned other than on specific canonical grounds?
11. If there is no local synod within our Archdiocese, in what way do we retain our status of Self-Rule?
12. If Bishop BASIL, for example, is no longer Bishop of Wichita, what is his current title?
13. How are we to understand the status of bishops who were not only enthroned but also consecrated for specific dioceses, if they are no longer bishops of those dioceses?
14. Are the dioceses which were created at the time of our becoming self-ruled now reduced to regions?
15. We understand that the decree was sent for approval to all the members of the Holy Synod. Did they all respond? What were their responses?
Once again, assuring your Eminence of our filial love and obedience, we pray for the abiding unity of your flock in Christ.
Your servants in Christ,

Cc: His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV of Antioch and All the East
His Grace Bishop BASIL

March 26, 2009
Protopresbyter Paul O'Callaghan and
The Council of Presbyters of the Diocese
of Wichita and Mid-America

Beloved in Christ,
Greetings and Blessings to you during this holy season of The Great Fast!
We have received and reviewed your letter dated March 17th, 2009 in which you pose fifteen questions related to the February 24th, 2009 decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch regarding the status of all bishops across the Holy See of Antioch. We will try our best to answer these questions as follows:
1. Are there any other diocesan bishops, outside our Archdiocese, that are affected by the Holy Synod's decision?
Answer: Yes. In the Patriarchate there are three bishops, the Bishop of Saydnaya, the Bishop of Qatana, and the Patriarchal Vicar. In addition, the Archdiocese of Akkar had the Bishop of Tartous and the Bishop of Marmarita & Al Hosn. The Bishop of Marmarita & Al Hosn was elected as Metropolitan for the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe. The Bishop of Tartous was elected to succeed Metropolitan Paul Bendali in the Archdiocese of Akkar. He refused to have either diocesan or auxiliary bishops in his Archdiocese at this time.
2. There seems to be differences in tone and meaning between the Arabic original and the English translations of Articles 77 and 78. Can these be clarified?
Answer: The English translation was my best effort. If someone can produce a more accurate translation, this would be most welcome.
3. What were the intentions of the Holy Synod in formulating these amendments?
Answer: The intention was to have good order and consistency throughout the Holy See of Antioch by normalizing the status of all bishops.
4. Is the Pittsburgh Constitution binding, since it was duly approved and implemented by the legally binding decision made at special Archdiocesan Convention of July 2004?
Answer: The constitution is binding to the extent that it is consistent with the decisions of the Holy Synod of Antioch, which is the highest authority in the Church of Antioch. The Holy Synod has the prerogative to modify any decision that it had previously approved.
5. Since official Archdiocesan documents state that the provisions for self-rule, including those pertaining to the local synod of the Archdiocese, are irrevocable, as witnessed both by the Pittsburgh Constitution and the Patriarchal version of October 15, 2004, how can they be overturned by amendment of the Patriarchal by-laws?
Answer: We can find no language in any Constitution, or the original decision of the Holy Synod dated October 10, 2003 which indicates that the provisions of any constitution or by-laws are irrevocable.
6. Given that the granting of self-rule required that the Patriarchal Constitution be amended to reflect the self-ruled status of the North American Archdiocese, and that this constitution governs its by-laws, not vice versa, how could the Constitution be overturned by amendments of by-laws?
Answer: The Patriarchal Constitution was never amended to reflect self-rule status, so the February 24th decision is consistent with the current in-force Patriarchal Constitution.
7. What was the need, and why the urgency, for a special meeting of the Holy Synod of Antioch? Were constitutional procedures followed for the calling of that meeting?
Answer: At the October 7th, 2008 meeting of the Holy Synod in Damascus, His Beatitude appointed a special committee which included the Archbishops of Aleppo, Hama, Homs, and Akkar to study the question of the status of bishops across the See of Antioch, and to make a recommendation which would normalize that status. The meeting of February 24th, 2009 was convened to hear this recommendation and to act on it. The Patriarch may convene a meeting of the Holy Synod at any time that he sees fit.
8. Given the fact that the mechanism of resolution for possible problems or disagreements is specified in our Constitution as belonging to the Local Synod of Bishops, with right of appeal to the Patriarch and the Holy Synod, why were these amendments necessary?
Answer: The February 24th decision was not a result of any wrongdoing by any bishop. It was necessary to normalize the status of all bishops across the See of Antioch.
9. We are not aware of any study, investigation, or report containing information regarding concerns of disunity or other issues of disagreement within our Archdiocese. What was done by our bishops that precipitated the Holy Synod's decision? Did the Patriarch discuss these issues with our bishops when he visited in the fall of 2008?
Answer: Once again, our bishops did not do anything that precipitated this decision. It should not be viewed as a matter of discipline, since this was not the intention. To my knowledge, the Patriarch did not discuss this with our bishops during his visit in the Fall of 2008.
10. How can enthroned diocesan bishops be dethroned other than on specific canonical grounds?
Answer: To dethrone a bishop is to remove him from his episcopal throne. This has not been done. The status of the bishops has changed from diocesan bishop to auxiliary bishop.
11. If there is no local synod within our Archdiocese, in what way do we retain our status of Self-Rule?
Answer: Our Archdiocesan Synod remains in place. The February 24th decision made no mention whatsoever of self-rule, or a change in status of the Archdiocesan Synod.
12. If Bishop BASIL, for example, is no longer Bishop of Wichita, what is his current title?
Answer: Our bishops will carry the title Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of (name of Diocese). As an example, Bishop BASIL carries the title Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America.
13. How are we to understand the status of bishops who were not only enthroned but also consecrated for specific dioceses, if they are no longer bishops of those dioceses?
Answer: They are Auxiliary Bishops who are overseeing a Diocese on behalf of The Metropolitan.
14. Are the dioceses which were created at the time of our becoming self-ruled now reduced to regions?
Answer: No. The dioceses remain intact and they retain their current names.
15. We understand that the decree was sent for approval to all the members of the Holy Synod. Did they all respond? What were their responses?
Answer: We are not privy to the individual responses from each member of the Holy Synod. Suffice it to say that the decision was approved by a majority of the Holy Synod.
It is our prayer that the remainder of your Lenten journey will be greatly blessed.
Your father in Christ,

Cc: His Beatitude, IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Bishop ANTOUN, Bishop JOSEPH, Bishop BASIL, Bishop THOMAS, Bishop MARK, Bishop ALEXANDER