Posts Tagged ‘Antiochian Archdiocese’

Oh, Has It Been That Long?

November 15, 2010

Yes it has.  I didn’t know anyone read this blog until a parishioner and friend asked me this morning before Divine Liturgy when I was going to post again.   So at least one person noticed my long absence.  No excuse for not blogging – I just didn’t feel like it, so there.

Well, what shall I talk about?  Hmmm, Metropolitan Philip seems like too easy a target (but it sure is tempting).   How about some religious news of the weird – is or isn’t Naomi Campbell going to become Orthodox after she gets hitched  in the Temple of Luxor?  Guess if you’ve got money you can get married any darn place you like.  

Locally I was interested in the report of the Russian Church Outside of Russia accepting the Western-rite practicing parishes of the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church of America .   Never heard of ’em before this, which is surprising since their entire Texas presence is found in my home town of San Antonio not 5 miles from my front door.   It appears to be a small house church in a nondescript neighborhood on the northeast side of town.  I haven’t driven by yet, but did do the modern equivalent with a Google street view (forget the Germans and their privacy issues,  I love this feature).

In the big scheme of things, I don’t think this will change the course of Orthodoxy in America since all ten parishes of this group couldn’t possibly contain more than 1000 souls.   But hey, the soul of 1 or 1000 doesn’t matter to the Lord.  The angels rejoice when just one person is saved, and we should too.  Prayer for these folks is needed – they are coming out of the strange land of non-canonical Orthodoxy, bringing whatever baggage that might entail.  Making a switch like this can’t be easy or done overnight.   I’m reminded though that several of our strongest parish families came out of a local Old Catholic church many years ago.   We’re not talking huge numbers either but what a benefit their witness has been for our Church and Orthodoxy as a whole.

Orthodox Conference on Missions and Evangelism 2009

September 17, 2009

Now posted on Ancient Faith Radio are the talks given at the recent Conference on Missions and Evangelism sponsored by the Antiochian Archdiocese.   This has been a very succesful, enthusiastically attended conference, attracting a Who’s Who of Orthodoxy, particularly well known converts.  The frank, heartfelt responses of Metropolitan Jonah to a variety of questions about Orthodox unity, missions and relations with the Oriental Orthodox churches are very edifying.  Every word I’ve  heard from Metropolitan Jonah has the power to move me in so many positive ways.   I always come away with a renewed sense of commitment and love for Orthodoxy and the Church in this country.  What a blessing he is for American Orthodoxy.

Metropolitan Philip’s Latest Poke at Orthodox Americans

August 15, 2009

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“Every thing that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘tis time to part.”     Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

There is a character and spirit which defines America and Americans, that imbues their souls, whether they are 6th generation or newly arrived.  It is a sense of self-determination, fairness and individuality.  Not content to blindly follow, they value the freedom to criticize and analyze without fear of censure or violence.   In our Orthodox ecclesiastical structures we do give up a certain amount of our independence, but it is a willing and sacrificial obedience to the teachings of Christ and his Holy Church.   In return we expect our hierarchs, chosen in concert with the Holy Spirit, to lead us without self-interest, malice or pride. 

Sadly, it now appears that Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese of America has stooped to extortion and heavy-handed vindictiveness to silence his critics and keep the sheep in line.  

It is absolutely shameful to see a spiritual leader act this way.    Is the Metropolitan willing to harm the Church and its inter-jurisdictional relations by playing tit-for-tat with the lives of poor seminarians who aren’t even involved in this affair?  Is the Metropolitan so afraid that the accusations of Mark Stokoe hit too close to home?   Is Metropolitan Philip willing to continue tarnishing  40 years of leadership with these Old School/Old World tactics?  What he continues to do is act like a petty tyrant lashing out at mosquitoes with a full military assault.  It displays paranoia and overblown pride.  The sheep won’t be quiet much longer.  As I’ve written before, the mood surrounding  the whole mess in the Antiochian leadership has the feeling of revolutionary discontent  to it.   Things will reach a tipping point from which there is no going back.

Metropolitan Philip, learn from the British.  They didn’t fare too much better when faced with American resolve.    (Read Metropolitan Philip’s explanation of the seminarians’ move here and make up your own mind whether this “explanation” sounds reasonable.)

Has the Antiochian Archdiocese Jumped the Shark?

March 6, 2009

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Did you feel the earth move on February 24, 2009?   

The jolt you felt was the seismic shift under the fragile ground of American Orthodox unity, thanks it would seem, to the  the machinations of the Patriarch of Antioch and the Self-Ruled  Antiochian Archdiocese of North America.  With the issuance of  this decision  by the Holy Synod of Antioch, the Self-Ruled Archdiocese has effectively become a ‘sole-ruled’ diocese under the leadership of Metropolitan Phillip.  The Bishops of the Archdiocese have been demoted to Auxilliary Bishops, and what they are left with in the way of real leadership for their individual dioceses has yet to be defined.  (You’ll note this decision affects all Bishops – worldwide!)

I’ll admit I’m pretty ignorant of the ecclesiastical structure of the Antiochian Archdiocese, Orthodox canon law or ecclesiastical politics.  I’m just a lay person whose opinions are based solely on common sense and the smell test.  For what it’s worth, this decree stinks to high heaven.  It has left me with a feeling of  hopelessness and futility over the promises made 15 years ago at the Antiochian Village.   

Strangely, this trampling of ecclesiastical order has re-affirmed and strengthened my belief in the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America and its new leadership.  For all it’s own scandal and dysfunction, there is at least a clear and coherent hierarchy in which each Archbishop knows his role, his responsibilities and his limitations under Metropolitan Jonah.  Will these newly made auxiliary bishops have the the normal freedoms of our OCA Archbishops to plant missions, ordain clergy,  investigate and administer discipline, or any of the normal administrative roles expected of a Bishop? 

Link here to read Metropolitan Phillip’s explanation  for this coup, which sounds more like a paranoid overreaction to the successes and forward thinking of his own Bishops than any kind of heroic rescue of the Archdiocese from a vague threat to its unity.  If he wanted unity for the AAOA, this certainly isn’t going to do it.

What does this all mean in the long run for Orthodoxy in  America?  I pray it doesn’t lead to schism and outright rebellion.  The world is a hard place to understand right now without our Church adding to the grief.   But, as history goes for other events, it might be that the backlash from laity and clergy will in the end lead to more independence for the Church in this country.   Make no mistake – I’m not advocating this – it’s purely speculation.  However, the establishment of so many Antiochian mission parishes over the last decade, their progressive and successful evangelization efforts, the rise of Orthodox internet media and to some extent, the election of Metropolitan Jonah, are all factors that could lead many American Orthodox Christians to stand up and say ‘we aren’t going to take these kinds of slap downs from the old country any more’.    Isn’t that how the American Revolution started?   Change comes when a people’s tolerance reaches the tipping point amid an awakening sense of self-determination. 

Ehh, but what do I know?