I listened to “Interview with Bishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America” posted on AFR on Sept. 10, in which he talks about the Assembly of Bishops.
If I had been assigned to write the headline for this podcast, it would have gone something like this: Bishop to Critics: Shut Up!
The Chicago bishop says that the chief obstacle to the work of the Assembly is the cynicism and negativity of critics here in the “diaspora.” Critics have not been privy to all of the great work already accomplished in committees, he says. How can folks be more helpful?
“The obstacle of cynicism needs to be removed,” he says. “And … if they’re not going to be part of the process and part of the solution I would ask them to please remain silent and prayerful and that would probably be the best thing that could happen for us so that we can remove that obstacle. Maybe we can enlighten them too.”
He later recommends that the faithful offer financial help to the Assembly, thereby rounding out the trifecta of “pray, pay and obey.”
Bishop Demetrios expresses his gratitude to the Mother Churches for “allowing” the American Orthodox to offer ideas for a Great Council which would sort out our messy jurisdictional problem. Then, towards the end of the interview, he changes gears and asserts that there is no disunity in American Orthodoxy. “”Its a unified whole” in America, he says.
What people don’t realize is that the Mother Churches operate according in both “chronos” and “kairos” time, he adds. The Mother Churches are now entering in their important work in a “serious and systematic manner” but should not be pushed.
“People who are cynical need to wake up from their dogmatic slumber to borrow a phrase from another famous philosopher and to realize that the Church is alive the Holy Spirit lives. Christ lives. And therefore if it takes us one, five, ten, 25 years … I don’t know how long it’s going to take … I certainly wouldn’t want to put a time limit on that and to rush and to produce something that’s inferior or something not even considered by the Mother Churches as something significant and something serious. The Mother Churches have been around for centuries and we need to respect that time in Orthodoxy as a different kind of reality. We have a kairos and a chronos, right?”
Ten Follow Up Questions for Bishop Demetrios:
1. Does the Assembly plan to translate the phrase “blessed omogeneia” into Serbian, Romanian, Russian, Carpatho-Russian, Arabic, etc.?
2. Have you like so many other bishops of the Ecumenical Throne applied for Turkish citizenship? If you have, does that not make you a member of two “diasporas”? Which one is more important? Will Greek parishes now be opening Turkish schools?
3. How do you know when you’re in “chronos” or in “kairos”? Is it OK if I offer my church stewardship payments in “kairos”?
4. Why doesn’t the Assembly webcast its proceedings so the laity can be “in the room” too? (tech tip: webcams only work in “chronos”)
5. The Church and Society Committee has done exactly nothing in three years. Is it having trouble identifying any social problems in America?
6. You mention nothing about a unified, autocephalous American church. Was this discussed at the most recent meeting of bishops? When will the Mother Churches allow clergy and lay people to talk about this?
7. You didn’t mention anything about an Orthodox bishops meeting in Ligonier, Pa., in 1994 where the concept of “diaspora” was denounced. Would the Assembly consider established an Archbishop Iakovos Award, to be given annually to the American Orthodox layperson or clergy member who has done outstanding work for the cause of unity?
8. The Phanar representative who lectured American Orthodox about their immaturity in 2009 has since been promoted to the rank of metropolitan and is now being talked about as the next patriarch. Does this bode well for the cause of American unity and independence?
9. Why does the Assembly ask for donations from lay people when most don’t even know it exists? Does the Assembly have a projected budget it is willing to share publicly? Income and expense statement?
10. Is there anything the Mother Churches can learn from their American provincials? (See: the Founders and the Constitution, religious liberty in a pluralistic society, freedom of speech and assembly, Orthodox immigrants getting wealthy via free enterprise and “the American Dream,” etc.)