July 24, 2014

SCOBA calls first episcopal assembly for May 2010

SCOBA Hierarchs Convene For Special Session

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New York, NY – A Special Session of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) met on September 25, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., hosted by the Chairman of SCOBA, Archbishop Demetrios of America, at the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in Manhattan. The session was attended by the following Members of SCOBA: Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese), Metropolitan Philip, Vice-Chairman (Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese), Metropolitan Christopher, Secretary (Serbian Orthodox Church), Archbishop Nicolae (Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese), Metropolitan Joseph (Bulgarian Orthodox Church), Metropolitan Jonah (Orthodox Church in America) Archbishop Antony (proxy, Ukrainian Orthodox Church) and Archpriest Alexander Abramov (Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA).

Also present were the General Secretary and members of the SCOBA Study and Planning Commission representing the SCOBA member Churches.

The entire discussion was focused on the documents related to the “Organization of Episcopal Assemblies” in the regions of the world that are outside the borders of the Autocephalous Churches. These Episcopal Assemblies have been authorized by the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference which met at the Orthodox Center of Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Switzerland from 6 – 13, June 2009. It was decided unanimously by the Hierarchs that the first such Episcopal Assembly shall be convened during Post-Pentecost Week of 2010, which will fall in the last week of May. The likely days of the Assembly will be May 26-27, 2010. There was also discussion as to the location of the Assembly, with a specific venue to be decided after investigation of locales and resources.

The Hierarchs also outlined an initial staging process, combining Hierarchs of SCOBA with sub-committees, which will formulate the outline of the form and agenda of the Assembly.

Source: SCOBA News

Comments

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    Nick Katich says:

    It’s a start.

  2. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Mickey Hodges says:

    Yes, a start indeed. I had just finished listening to the AFR podcast on Chambesy (worth the time) this morning. Much can happen in the next eight months.

  3. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Isa Almisry says:

    …of what is the question.

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    Greg says:

    cheeky…

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Isa, ??? It’s a start, but I fear that press releases like the latest one from the Archons can derail the process. My take is wait and see what the agenda is, the sub-committees, the venue, etc. This will indicate whether this will be a serious meeting or just a “more of the same.” Also, it’d be itneresting to see what the EP does or says with SCOBA while he’s here.

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Meanwhile…let’s get behind Metropolitan Jonah’s plan to merge the AOCA and the OCA…and make all this nonsense moot.

    Just a thought…I’ll take chaotic action over orderly inaction any day of the week.

    Best Regards,
    dean

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    Isa Almisry says:

    Have to agree with you Dean.

    I just finished listening to the “Unraveling Chambesy” and did my rant there. Coupled with the shots across the bow by the Chief Secretary of the EP, I suspect that the aim is to squeeze acceptance of the new interpretation of canon 28 into the Church by stealth. I agree with Ajalat, that if Chambesy turns out to be nothing more than a way of dealing with that pesky requirement in SCOBA’s constitution that the Chairmanship rotate, then Chambesy is not serious.

    My working hypothesis is that the PoM sees that, and agreed to give the EP his rope.

    So yes, I’m more for pushing the merger of the Antiochians (including yours truly) with the OCA. Now’s the time. And despite Fr. Arey’s assessment, such a merger would change dynamics considerably. For one thing, if done in accordance with the constitution that the Patriarch gave us, which envisions such a thing explicitely, it would pull the rug out from under the Phanar’s Pentarchy argument over the OCA’s autocephaly.

    As for what the EP will be doing here, meeting with SCOBA still isn’t posted on the GOARCH website.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Isa, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment that the OCA and Antiochian synods should merge completely as quickly as is prudent. I’m intrigued however by your assessment that the PM is going to “give the EP his rope.” What exactly do you mean? I’ve heard rumblings that the MP and some of the Slavic churches are working behind the scenes to foil the EP. Could you or anyone connect the dots for me on this matter?

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      Isa Almisry says:

      On the EP’s rope: no one should for a second think that Moscow (or for that matter, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Georgia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Athens, Warsaw, Albania, the CS lands or the OCA) has converted to the new Ultramontanism of the Phanar, represented by the “famous” canon 28. The reaffirmation of the OCA’s autocephaly by Russia, and the explicit recognition of the same by Georgia (an ancient patriarchate, btw), Bulgaria, Warsaw and the CS, and of course the OCA’s reaffirmation of its own autcephaly; Antioch, Serbia and Romania’s reaffirmation of their own exarchates (with the free admission of the first two that their jurisdiction stems from the Russian Archdiocse, the predecessor Church of the OCA) coupled with their explicit rejection of the Phanar’s claims (having lived under the Phanariots’ yoke, they know of what they speak); and Alexandria, Jerusalem and the CoG extending their jurisdiction, past and present, into the “barbarian lands” and others that the EP claims (Alexandria, for instance, explicitly extending its jurisdiction to all of Africa in the 1930′s by Pope Meletius (yes, THAT Meletios: seems he didn’t care for canon 28 when it meant he had to get the OK from his successor as EP, and so he didn’t) no matter the delusions of the Chief Secretary of the Phanar of a 2002 date) basically leaves Cyprus (also occupied by the Turk) holding to the EP’s claims about canon 28.

      The EP has invested his capital into the Chambesy scheme. The PoM knows that. Nearly all the autocephalous Churches, explicitly or implicitly, reject the EP’s proof texting of canon 28. The PoM knows that. A defeat of the OCA’s autocephaly will call into question the jurisdiction of the PoM abroad, and in places like Estonia and Ukraine. The PoM knows that. Chambesy is basically envisioned to fight over who has the chairmanship, as Ajalat points out. The PoM knows that. Facts on the ground in the “diaspora,” however, has moved beyond that. The PoM knows that: the EP hasn’t learned from the Spyridon fiasco, and the PoM knows that too. So, given the natural course of things, the PoM has to do nothing except things it would do anyways (e.g. reaffirm the OCA’s autocephaly, and refuse to treat her as a branch under Moscow), sit back, watch things transpire as the EP’s capital deflates.

      The EP has cornered himself into a zero sum game: if he wins then he will be free to interfere in Ukraine (witness the reception by the UAOC), insist on its terms of the Church of Poland’s tomos issued by it (as opposed by the one issued by her mother Church Russia) and similar problems with the CS lands (which the EP refused to recognize, and continued to meddle in, for half a century), question the patriarchate of Bulgaria (which was not granted by the EP, but recognized by all the Churches), free to disgorge Serbia and Romania of its exarchates and interfere in their affairs (for instance, the part of the Serbia and Romania Churches now outside the boundaries of Serbia and Romania). Etc. So, if the Autocephalous Churches don’t want the EP meddling in their affairs, and the Orthodox don’t want to become a pale imitation of the Vatian, they are going to have to act now.

      I see that the EP has now posted his schedule having squeezed a meeting with SCOBA in on the morning of the 27th of October, in between delighting in lectures and conferences on the environment, and meeting the rich, famous and politically connected.

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    Ryan Close says:

    Fr Arey said there is no use speculating about who is trying to undermine who as if this were the CIA or something. I agree.

    Also, merging the OCA and the AOCA would take just about as much resources as merging all the jurisdictions. It seems like a waste of time since all the jurisdictions will be merged sooner than latter. But if it could be done, which I doubt, many Antiocenes are very happy where they are, how would it effect the Chambesy process? Would the Antiochians become OCA and loose their place in the dyptics in order to shore up the OCA’s claim to autocephely? Or would the OCA come under the Patriarch of Antioch? I know this last option is quite repugnant to the OCA faithful, but under the Chambesy process representational governance is by dyptics not population.

    I am intrigued by the idea that certain jurisdictional primates of very small jurisdictions would have more say than diocesan bishops with many more parishes under the protection.

  10. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Isa Almisry says:

    I just reread this, Met. Philip on canon 28:”Most of the people in my Archdiocese have no intention of returning to their place of origin. This is true even of new immigrants, let alone those of the third or fourth generation. Our people are here to stay, and we are indeed an indigenous church in North America. I believe that the Church in North America is mature enough to take care of herself without any interference from the outside. Those who support an ethnocentric reading of Canon 28 and insist that unity on a national basis cannot be discussed, then, are naïve and bury their heads in the sand. While they may delight in holding lectures and conferences on the environment, the witness and mission of the church is ignored..” LOL. As fresh and (as the EP’s tour schedule shows) apropos today as the day he said it. As are his other words:”This Bishops’ Assembly, for example, would address non-canonical situations in North America such as the infringement of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in North America with the blessings of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.”

    No, I’m afraid I cannot agree that merging the OCA and Antiochians would be a waste, because if the EP gets his way unity will come later. Much. And only under his exarch, i.e. his thumb. This is what has killed the merger of the Romanians. Bucharest doesn’t see any difference between the Romanian Episcopate in the OCA and the Church of Moldova under the PoM. That just flies in the face of reality.

    And the EP has no one to blame but himself for the speculation: while he has sent a number of his surrogates out to attack Met. Jonah, he has shut Met. Jonah out of this scheme that is called a “process.” As of August 15, 2009, Met. Jonah had received no official news, invitation, or other information on the Chambesy “process,” and just figured that it would be brought out in the next SCOBA meeting. That means two months after the decisions of Chambesy, and just over a month before the implementation was to get started, a major player (and the magnitude of the attacks on him by the Phanars Phyletists shows he more than just a fly) in the whole thing was being purposefully kept in the dark. This is unacceptable. That’s how “Byzantine” got its definition in politics.

    I’m not sure Fr. Arey really answered the question: what if the episcopal assembly does something, like, say pull a Ligonier and merge itself in the OCA/Antioch merger, and thereby becoming Autocephalous, which no exarch of the EP? What is the EP going to do? If he vetos it, are the other Autocephalous Churches going to back him up?

    “I am intrigued by the idea that certain jurisdictional primates of very small jurisdictions would have more say than diocesan bishops with many more parishes under the protection”

    Are you speaking of, say, the EP’s Albanian bishop here, who has two parishes and a seat on SCOBA, opposed to the Albanian Diocese in the OCA, which has dozens and in fact is the Mother Church of the Church in Albania, but does not have a seat on SCOBA?

    But back to the question, how would this effect the Chambesy process? It would pull the rug under the EP’s device to sneak the novel interpretation of Canon 28 past us. The Constitution the Patriarch granted us explicitely envisions a union of the Jurisdiction in North America, as does the Tomos of Autocephaly the PoM granted the OCA. The Charter the EP forced on the GOARCH explicitely does not, Article I:
    c.- The Archdiocese receives within its ranks and under its spiritual aegis and pastoral care Orthodox Christians, who either as individuals or as organized groups in Dioceses and Parishes have voluntarily come to it and which acknowledge the supreme spiritual, ecclesiastical and canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In the case of the coming to the Archdiocese of organized groups, either Orthodox or heterodox, the opinion and approval of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is required, as it exercises its ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Orthodox in the Diaspora.

    I’m told by everyone that the GOARCH doesnn’t include ACROD, UOCUSA, etc. How’s that unity? Just unity of submission to the Phanar. As Met. Jonah has stated, we have a different vision, and the union of the OCA/Antiochians would impliment that as a bulwark from the Phanar imposed phyletism, which treats the faithful as objects. Witness the parishs of the Jerusalem patriarchate in North America, traded off to GOARCH by the Phanariots. But they still refuse to go. The EP (note, NOT the GOARCH) charter says “have voluntarily come.” Being traded as chattle is not “voluntarily coming.” So by his own words, if they mean anything, he can’t take them.

    If the OCA/Antiochian union is achieved as the Tomos of Autocephaly was, with the blessing of the Mother Church, it will much deflate the Phanar’s proganda. No more none-of-the-ancient-patriarchates-recognize-the-OCA nonsense, except as the bold misstatement it is (the Antichians freely admit the jurisdiction has its roots in the Russian Archdiocese, the basis of the OCA) It will also raise the question, as, well I’ll let Met. Philip say it “the representation of the Orthodox Churches in SCOBA does not reflect reality in North America. Neither the Moscow Patriarchate nor the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) are represented in SCOBA, while the Ecumenical Patriarchate has four of the nine seats.” Why should the EP’s Albanian have a seat, and the Albanian bishop of the OCA does not? Why should Bucharest’s bishop have a seat, and the (larger) Romanian Episcopate does not? Neither UOCUSA nor ACROD represent Autocephalous Churchs (they have no connection to Moscow nor Prague respectively), why should they have seats? So why should the Antiochians give up their seat, if they merge with the OCA? And if the Metropolitan of the Antiochians yields to his primate, the Metropolitan of the OCA, whose business is that, seeing that, according to Chambesy “The Episcopal Assemblies do not deprive the Member Bishops of their administrative competencies and canonical character, nor do they restrict their rights in the Diaspora. The Episcopal Assemblies aim to form a common position of the Orthodox Church on various issues. In no way does this prevent Members Bishops from remaining responsible to their own Churches, and to express the views of their own Churches to the outside world,” “The definition of the scope of these competencies should in no way interfere with the responsibility of each Bishop for his eparchial jurisdiction” and “The Episcopal Assembly may establish its own Internal Regulations in order to supplement and adjust the above provisions, in accordance with the needs of the Region and in respect to the canon law of the Orthodox Church.” That would include the OCA, who, because it was not invited, did not sign and so is not bound by Chambesy. And merger with the OCA is quite canonical.

    In other words, the union of the OCA/Antiochians will make Chambesy obsolete.

    It will also make the vision of the OCA mano a mano with the myopia of the Phanar.

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    Ryan Close says:

    Thank you for clarifying. That makes more sense now.

    I am not against the AOCA / OCA merger. But I read a lot of comments by Antiochene Christians in America who despise that idea. Also, if the AOCA came under the OCA, an autocephelous Church, it would essentially be a demotion. Why would they want to go from number 4 to number 15. I think that it would be easier in the long run to merge all the institutional and legal aspects (such as pension plans) of all the jurisdictions all at once rather than one at a time, but what you say makes sense. Will Met Phillip and the Patriarch sign on to it before May 2010?

    Also, how will we resolve the problem that the Greek Tradition switched the meanings of Metropolitan and Archbishop? All the Metropolitans of the Greek Archdiocese are really Bishops or Archbishops according to the original and Slavic reckoning. Primates are Metropolitans, not Archbishops.

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      Isa Almisry says:

      LOL. As we say in Arabic, “Only God is immortal.”

      I’m in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and I don’t find many who despise the idea. Not since Met. Jonah has taken the helm (the days before him was a different story). The WRO feared it, because of the elements against it in the OCA. Met. Jonah is a change from that, and has good relations. As the bishop flap showed, we have our phyletists. The resolution shows that they do not have the final word.

      An Antiochian solution would be to make Met. Jonah Catholicos of North America.

      I have a real question on why, even if the Antiochians merge, their spot should disappear. The EP’s Albanian, with his two parishes, gets to have his place in the dipytchs on SCOBA in addition to Archb. Demetrios’ place. What’s the order going to be with the PoM and ROCOR?: according to their internal composition (which Chambesy claims it doesn’t interfere with), ROCOR also will have to have its seat. What order will it be?

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Ryan, as I understand it, the merger of the AOCNA and the OCA would not be a “demotion” for AOCNA. What +Jonah has spoken of however is a true merger of their respective holy synods. And this is doable as presently there are no duplicate episcopal seats between these two bodies (I think).

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    Isa Almisry says:

    On another forum (orthdooxchristianity.net) some have posted on this extensively, and someone actually outlined a plan with some thought:
    http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,22901.0.html
    http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14412.msg205010.html#msg205010

    Yes, there is very little overlap. Providence?

    The only problem at present would the unevenly yoked primates. Met. Jonah is autocephalous, but I expect he would defer to Met. Philip who is more senior but not autocephalous.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Or Philip could do the decent thing and retire. It would certainly help his reputation which has been sullied this past year.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    P.S. Isa, I went to the sites you mentioned. Ingenious! Only a minor quibble or two, the second site said the “archbishop of NYC” would be the primate. Actually it should be the “archbishop of Washington, DC” who should be the “metropolitan of All-America and Canada.”

    In addition it would make more sense culturally if Oklahoma, NM, Ark, and LA were part of the diocese of Texas. And I think Canada should have at least three dioceses: Ottowa (archbishop), Quebec City, Saskatchewan, and BC. Needless to say, Canada should be called an “archdiocese.”

    Mexico City’s bishop should be an archbishop as well and all of Central America termed an “archdiocese.”

    I didn’t see a diocese for Alaska. That one should stand alone.

    In other words, there should be one metropolitan of the entire Church (Archbishop of DC), two other archbishops (Canada and Mexico), the rest should be bishops and their dioceses named as such. (A venerable bishop could be granted the rank of archbishop simply because of years of service, like the OCA does at present.)

    The caterwampus way we Greeks have distorted the hierarchy has got to go by the wayside. A metropolitan superseded an archbishop.

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    Ryan Close says:

    I have to say I am very happy to hear all of this. It is good news. How can I help?

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    Jason Bently says:

    I think the idea of an Antiochian-OCA merger is a good one, but not with the OCA at the top of the merged body.

    For one, it’s “autocephaly” has imploded and they’ve lost over 80% of their membership since autocephaly. Not a successful model. Secondly, they’re a financial basket case. Thirdly, the MP’s signalling of “reaffirmation of OCA autocephaly” is a political move on the table to bargain with the EP: the EP might be left N America, while agree to keep its hands off the canonical territory of Moscow. What convinces me of this is the fact that the MP choose to resend a representative to SCOBA.

    An organization such as SCOBA really is uncanonical on the territory of a truly local, autocephalous church. That’s why the MP withdrew its representation from SCOBA in the first place. They were stressing that the issue of N American Orthodox unity was settled as far as they were concerned: the OCA was the N American local church. Not anymore.

    The MP/ROCOR seems interested in expanding efforts into Latin America as well and has no real intention of merging ROCOR with Metropolitan Jonah’s OCA. It is encouraging the “ministration of ROCOR to new immigrants”.

    In the end, the MP will back the EP plan for N American Orthodox unity based in a SCOBA the EP runs.

    What Antiochian/OCA unity, with a strong Antiochian administration, will do is begin to fix the financial mess and temper some of the fads and follies the OCA has let itself fall into since 1978 or so.

    It is clear that the Antiochians are doing the best job at the American mission and evangelization. They should be rewarded and run the show of a united OCA/AOA.

    No, it would be wrong to undercut the Patriarchate of Antioch by seceding from its jurisdiction and just joining a failed OCA “autocephaly”. What should be done is the merger of the OCA into the Antiochian self governing autonomy and perhaps a declaration of a Katholikos for N America under Antioch, with that failed “autocephaly” allowed to expire.

    This will eliminate the contention of that unripe autocephaly in the diaspora and actually provide a strong and hierarchically viable model for a future American local church. It will also provide a canonical hierarch the EP will have to enroll in the diptyches.

    Those parishes and dioceses within the OCA who want to return to an MP/ROCOR structure should be allowed to vote and do so. While this will be all coordinated by Antioch, Moscow, the respective N American jurisdictions and non EP aligned local churches.

    The result should be an alliance in SCOBA between the MP/ROCOR and the resulting OCA/Antiochian union with the non EP aligned jurisdictions being courted in a block to keep SCOBA balanced.

    Jason Bently

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    Isa Almisry says:

    The books of the Antiochian archdiocese have not been opened yet (and I’m not refering to the book of life), nor of the other major jurisdiction. The OCA’s have. What will we see when the others are opened? We have indications of surprises and unpleasantness.

    Yes, the OCA has squandered a lot of opportunity. That can be said of a lot of jurisdictions and Churches.

    The EP isn’t going to keep his hands off Moscow’s terriory: the antics this month with the UAOC shows that, and the Ukrainian prelate talking with the Ukrainian press about the primacy of the EP shows that.
    http://www.risu.org.ua/eng/religion.and.society/interview/article;31635/

    Already there are those that say the EP can revoke Moscow’s tomos. The PoM isn’t going to provide the razor to slit his own throat.

    Everyone is in a rush to write the OCA’s: are they going to write the Church of Greece’s too? It was just, what, 5 years ago that the EP presumed to excommunicate the Archbishop of Athens in a jurisdictional spat in Northern Greece? The OCA can run its seminaries to train and ordain its own bishops and metropolitan without outside interference. Can the EP say the same?

    The EP had 4 out of 9 votes on SCOBA. I’m glad the return of Russia delutes that further. You are aware that the PoM has ordered that Met. Jonah be commemorated in the patriarch’s parishes in North America, no?

    Anyone who thinks the PoM is going to give ground to the EP ANYWHERE doesn’t know the history of this rivalry.

    Autocephaly doesn’t “expire.” The merger should be a restoration of what it was under SS Tikhon and Raphael, and their vision. The adoption of the Antiochian title “Catholicos” by the autocephalous successor of St. Tikhon would be a good indication of a less Russian/more American melting pot merger. The opposite thought, of its “expiring” would set the Church back, and promote the ethnarchs ad infinitum.

    I personally don’t care what the EP does, and no, he won’t have to enroll the catholicos: when the Antiochians became masters of their own house, the phyletists in the Phanar denounced the Patriarch of Antioch as a schismatic and struck him from the diptychs. I doubt he would have qualms about a hierarch who didn’t submit to his claims.

    SCOBA is the organization whose obituary is well overdue.

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    Jason Bently says:

    The early autocephalies of the Serbian and Bulgarian churches did indeed expire after Ottoman conquest as these countries were not ready for local churches and these autocephalies were indeed political contrivances.

    The OCA has failed alot worse than those old Serbian and Bulgarian autocephalies.

    Real autocephaly takes time, for what it brings into being is acknowledgement of a reality of a genuine and distinct local church, with a genuine and distinct spirituality and and a genuine and distinct missonary presence and success on a given territory. Nothing in N America qualifies for autocephaly at this time.

    However, a Katholikosate, self governing, autonomous, and supported by Antioch and Moscow (and their allies) can more work to bring about Orthodox unity and develop a local church alot better than an organism disputed in its canonicity and failing in its methodology and stewardship. The OCA is a failure. An Antiochian Katholikosate would be included in the diptyches without dispute.

    You can’t just ignore the EP in N America. You have to deal with them and the structures they are putting forward. There is something to their canonical claims, and they can back them up with the resources and successful structure the GOA has put together in N America.

    That being said, EP and the Ukraine are political matters. With Russia as superpower and the US administration’s recent bargaining on “Eastern questions” as well as the general history of the region, Russia has no fears about an EP invasion. Moreover, the UAOC isn’t even supported by the Ukrainian government, the schismatic “KP” is. If Russia were to effectuate a concordat with Turkey, the EP’s influence and days of rivalry would be over. That would not be a difficult thing for Russia to do today, considering the recent agreements on energy transmission with the Turks.

    Russia is still a superpower. Constantinople is called “Istanbul” today. Attempts to revoke “autocephalies” or whatever would be laughible and simply provoke Russia into just such a concordat with the Turks.

    Why Moscow would deal on N America at this time is because it has no real stake; whereas, Constantinople has no real cash flow without N America.

    I have no problem commemorating a Katholikos of N America who is tied to the See of Antioch in ROCOR/MP, just as I am not offended by commemoration of Metropolitan Jonah. But I think a Katholikos would actually be a better and sounder way of bringing about an American local church, one not dragged down by the abyssmal failure of the OCA.

    I would not in any way fear the opening of the Antiochian books. I think one would find a tight and well run ship. That’s exactly part of what the Church in N America needs today to survive.

    Jason Bently

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      Isa Almisry says:

      The Serbian and Bulgarian Autocephalies expired? LOL.

      It is only because it proved useful for Mehmet to play Keisar-i Rum that the EP wasn’t snuffed out at the Conquest. Talk about a political contrivance.

      Constantinoplle tried to deny Bulgaria an autocephalous Church, but the Czar successfully played New Rome off of Old Rome and had his autocephalous Church in 927. Btw, you are aware that the Bulgarian Church has the same Apostolic roots as Constantinople, if not more, and Sofia hosted Church Councils before Constantinople did? Even Basil the Bulgar slayer recognized it, but took its patriarchal title and replaced it, in true Phanariot fashion, with a Greek archbishop who ruled it until the Romanians led the Bulgarians (again playing New Rome off of Old Rome) fully restored the Bulgarian patriarchate in 1235. The patriarch had taken up residence in the Old Autocephalous See of Justina Prima, now Ohrid, and continued there, as you point out, until the Ottomans reached it and “abolished” it in favor of their millet-bashi in 1767, i.e. after over 8 centuries of existence. And then, it still couldn’t be held down: already a century afterwards the Sultan was forced to recognize the Bulgarian exarchate, which revived the Bulgarian patriarchate (Ohrid voted 97% to rejoin the Bulgarian patriarchate). The EP, of course, spent 74 years fighting the inevitable, and protested, ignored by all, when Sofia unilaterally retook the title of Patriarch in 1953.

      Serbia was even more “unready”: it received its autocephaly in 1219. When the Ottomans came the Patriarchate continued on in Karlovitz, Belgrade and in Montenegro, where the Sultan counldn’t reach it and abolish it with the parts he did trample in 1766. Again just after a century EP Ioachim III had to reaffirm the autocephaly, and all parts of the Serbian patriarchate reunited in 1920.

      It seems that oppression couldn’t keep the Bulgarian and Serbian Churches down. If that is failure, I’d love to see success.

      Constantinople didn’t have any of the criteria you set up when it became autocephalous, and I dispute that America doesn’t have them. For one thing, the involvement of the laity in the Church is something other Churches can, and have, learn from, along with the application and restoration of conciliarity opposed to autocracy in the Church.

      And not to be redundant, but to repeat what I have already said: the EP had no problem dismissing Antioch, a TRUE Apostolic See, when it wouldn’t bow to his claims. Why do you think a Catholicos is immune?

      Yeah, Spyridon’s tenure was a real success. And although the EP has been able to hide behind the legal classification of hiearchal Churches, there is all sorts of laundary that needs to be washed. I don’t think we need to air it here. What is pertinent is that it seems, from the surrogates that the EP sends out to attack Met. Jonah, that a revitalized OCA has somebody nervous.

      You know so much about the Antiochian books, eh? Do tell us in the Antiochian Archdiocese, because we got no answers at the convention.

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      Ryan Close says:

      Jason,

      What you are saying is catastrophically unfair. The GOA is a failure. The GOA is rich because of greek festivals. That does not make it successful.

      1) Friends of ours have been investigating Orthodoxy for seven years. They currently live about 4 hours away. They have not been welcomed by the Greek parish in their own city. The people are cold and unwelcoming to non-Greeks. The service has progressively been done with more and more Greek language. My friends frequently travel four hours and spend the night at our house to go to our OCA parish where they are now enrolled as catechumens. They love our priest who gives them the pastoral care and catechiesis they have been yearning for. They are not the only converts we have. Last year at Pascha we baptized eight catechumes, and three others earlier in the year. This year we have already baptized one person since Pascha and may have close to a dozen new catechumens ready for baptism at the next Pascha. The Lord is doing something important in Southwest Missouri.

      2) I attended the Greek parish in my friend’s home town about three years ago because it is also my wife’s home town. It was thriving, with many converts and other nationalities represented including Russians and Indians. Now, they are down to a very small number of almost exclusively Greek immigrants. I have been to many like it across the country with pews and organs and mostly old ladies, the Lord bless them. They say fasting, confession, and frequent communion are almost non-existent in the parishes and the faithful are fleeing to monastic centers of authentic Orthodox spirituality.

      3) We have a new monastery that our parish supports. From what I have heard the AOA has only one monastery. Some say this is why they want to change our tradition and allow married bishops (in times of non-emergency).

      4) The OCA is the only Church that does not answer to a foreign secular power such as the Turkish government. We had a crisis but we were able to solve it and get back on a straight path. Met Jonah has a great vision for evangelism and unity. He is also a very humble monastic who is able to explain the mystical faith clearly to modern ears. Met Phillip seems like a despotic megalomaniac. They have a crisis today that many people seem intent on sweeping under the rug of history in their rush to worship their great leader.

      5) Any church founded on ethnicity will necessarily exclude people. Russians will not want to attend a greek parish. Romanians will not want to attend a Slavic parish. The only solution has always been to have a local and indigenous Church that welcomes every one. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has done more harm to the cause of Orthodox evangelism than perhaps any other single factor. People think you have to be greek to be Orthodox, or at least ethnic or strange. But I tell people, we have 15 nationalities represented in our parish, mostly Americans. We are not Greek, nor are we Russian. We aren’t even Eastern. We are Christians.

      6) I honor the evangelical zeal that the AOA has and wish to further inculcate that zeal in the OCA. I have sympathy for your Catholikos solution, and asked this same question earlier on this thread. But you have argued for it mostly on the demerits of the OCA. Which I believe are based on a very disturbed and unbalanced perspective.

      To everyone else. I think this goes to show you that not every one in the AOA is gun ho about joining the OCA and perhaps we should consider what would happen if the OCA were to become an autonomous local church under the joint pastoral care of Moscow and Antioch. We could regain our place in the dyptics and work for autocephely from there. This too would foil the EP’s plans. Nonetheless, this solution entails something like demoting the OCA from autocephely to autonomy which would hurt the Moscow Patriarchate. For that reason I don’t think it will work. Moscow would never allow it. As far as Moscow is concerned, Met Jonah is the Primate of the only legitimate local Church in the region. Who cares if the EP doesn’t recognize us? They excommunicated the Church of Greece and the Antiochian Patriarchate in their turns. So what if we are not invited to pan-Orthodox meetings? Archbishop Hilarion is always there to represent our concerns.

      Sincerely,

      Ryan

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        Chrys says:

        Fascinating conversation, though the particulars are well beyond my ken. I hope that the unfortunate situation you describe changes sooner rather than later. I would note that the Greek Orthodox diocese to which I belong (Pittsburgh) under Metropolitan Maximos has quite a few parishes that are warm, welcoming to converts, fairly diligent in their ascetical practices and active in their support of monasticism. My own priest has been exemplary in regard to all of these issues. Indeed, we could not have developed the Orthodox elementary school without his active guidance and prayerful support. I am certainly aware that there are (plenty) of exceptions in the Archdiocese and that there is always room for improvement. At the same time, I have been blessed to be “surrounded” by so many who may well be (or are becoming) living saints. Indeed, THIS is what gives me hope that we may eventually be able to resolve these jurisdictional issues. Whether near or (now) far, Greek or OCA, it is the compelling witness of these living saints and their dedication to fostering the transfiguration of the human heart that seems to me to be the only real hope for resolving these divisions which would not continue were it not for the divided concerns of the fallen human heart.

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    Jason Bently says:

    To dispute the legitimacy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople I’ll leave to those who can’t reconcile themselves with the Imperial Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.

    Was there a distinct spirituality, a distinct administration, distinct liturgical tradition developed by Constantinople from its parent Antioch by the fourth century? Most definitely. Antioch was a Syriac see. Constantinople at this time had clearly become a Greek speaking see with imperial patronage, diverse rites and theological and liturgical emphases that had become distinct from those of Antioch. One need only mention the Cappadocian Fathers.

    Nothing like that remotely even present in N America.

    Arguing the sucess of Bulgarian and Serbian autocephalies is a new one. The history and ravages of the Ottoman conquests as well as the conversion of the Bogomils to Islam and the predominance of Janissaries taken from the Southern Slavs illustrate churches overwhelmed and in disunity rife for conquest. One united church with one administrative center and one army could have helped rebuild after the crusades and repel the Turkish invader.

    Arguing that there was some sort of success in these sees is also a new one. Aside from the era of the Apostles of Bulgaria and that of St. Sava, after the Battle of Kossovo and the burning of the relics of St. Sava, the churches of the Southern Slavs were in decline. Why the Serbs were even forced to move from their ethnic homeland by the Turk. There was nothing but subjugation, oppression, the Turkish jackboot.

    A united church with a united adminstrative center from the outset would have fared better and perhaps even overcome the invader. The earlier history of Byzantium alludes to this. Autocephalies and lack of unity are precisely the reason why the Turkish conquest was so succesful.

    It is because a centralized commonwealth with one local church could not be forged that the Balkans and the City fell. The failure of late Byzantium was its inability in its final days to administratively unite the Orthodox peoples and its willingness to cheapen titles and offices to appease its neighbors. It should have acted to assimilate them. There was no Bulgarian Orthodoxy or Serbian Orthodoxy particular to these peoples at the time the “autocephalies” were issued. There were only pagan kings playing politics to gain political concessions they did not earn, nor were they ready for.

    The OCA failed. It has lost over 80% of its membership since its “autocephaly”. It is bankrupt. It is losing more people by funeral than it is gaining by evangelization. It can’t retain its youth, not even after 30 years of failed fads and gimmicks to keep them. It is a textbook example of when an autocephaly is unwarranted and when a church needs oversight and aid from its Mother Church in order to survive.

    While Metropolitan Jonah, for all this talk of his great success (without any real results to this point), refuses even to prosecute the embezzlers and those who brought the OCA to its knees and seems adamant in repeating their mistakes: the gimmicks which precisely brought the OCA to its knees today. Advocates of the new administration are like people who believe Ken Lay was to blame for the fall of Enron, not his management style and methodologies. Why the Ken Lays of the OCA won’t be brought to justice and as far as management styles are concerned, with the OCA of Metropolitan Jonah, it’s back to the future.

    One can gauge the health of a jurisdiction by its pension funds, mission seeding, grants and charities, salaries of clergy, etc. The median priestly income in the GOA is $60,000.00. Priests in the AOA don’t make as much, but those in established parishes aren’t living below the poverty line. It’s clear the Antiochians are doing a good job and doing just fine.

    While me being an EP apologist is the most far fetched thing I’ve heard. I’m loyal to ROCOR/MP and have no particular sympathies for EP claims. I do however appreciate the work and growth of the GOA and see it as utterly unwise, impolitic, and frankly deleterious to the N American Orthodox mission to alienate that body. One striving for one local church would certainly want the GOA part of it.

    The EP will never recognize the autocephaly of the OCA. Its heirarch will never be entered in the diptyches. It will never be seen as anything more than a remnant (a dying remnant at this point) of the former Russian American mission.

    While a Katholikos, appointed by Antioch and supported by Moscow, will indeed have more status and eventually be recognized by the Phanar, for canonically and in reality such a heirarch will be appropriate to the American mission without being a threat by assuming some sort of proud stance as the “autocephalous primate of the American sister church demanding not only the recognition of but equality with the Patriarch of Constantinople” while lashing out at very real diasporan missionary activity being undertaken (successfully) on territories not at all having an Orthodoxy of their own yet. Humility, moderation, canonicity, self governing autonomy, united Orthodox recognition and pressure will make a Katholikos an effective and recognized leader for a future American church.

    I don’t understand why a self governing Synod with in effect a junior Patriarch under a minimal guidance of its Mother Church is somehow inferior to an impossible and unwarranted “autocephalous” claimant of a jurisdiction in catastrophic decline unrecognized by anyone and in that decline precisely because there was no oversight by his Mother Church. The Katholikos will be recognized and supported. The “autocephalous” primate will eventually either have to merge with Constantinople’s jurisdiction or his local administration will simply die out. The one model is vibrancy and a hope for the future. The other is decline and sure catastrophic failure.

    Jason Bently

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      Isa Almisry says:

      One thing that I will say that I wholeheartedly approve that the EP is doing: he is visiting parts of his patriarchate (i.e. Thrace, Pontos and Asia) which haven’t been for years. A Turkish Orthodox I know (as I said, they do exist: he actually is a Bosnian who was Turkified when his family were settled as refugees in the Turkish Republic, where he converted. His Muslim family was upset until they found out that he was baptized by an Arab priest (!)) told me that when the EP visited the Church at Smyrna, a couple hundred were there.

      Btw, it seems that the number of Russians in Constantinople outnumbers Greeks. Is a Russian EP possible?

      The Church predated the Imperial Church, and didn’t fall with the Empire. The Caesaro-papism of the East is a myth invented by the Vatican, for its own purposes, that some in the Church think they can refashion to serve their purposes.

      Antioch was very much a Greek see, althought its Patriarchate was Syriac (and Arab, Armenian, Georgian, Iranian and Indian). Byzantium was Greek, Constantinople officially Latin-it was founded by a proto-Romanian after all, and reached its apogee under another. Since we have next to nothing on Constantinople before its autocephaly, I don’t know what you base your confidence on a “distinct spirituality.” The DL of St. Basil probably wasn’t and that of St. John definitely (obviously) wasn’t introduced to Constantinople until after her autocephaly. You might mention the Cappadocian Fathers, but since Cappadocia didn’t come under Constantinople until over a half century after they fell asleep, you have to explain the relevance. Do remember that St. Basil the Great railed against the Arianism of Constantinople, and Constantinople drove St. Gregory from its throne.

      Btw, do you know that the Patriarch of Bucharest and All Romania is ex officio the locum tenens of the See of St. Basil at Caesarea in Cappadocia?

      As Our Lord said a prophet is with honor except in his own town, I often see the denial of any spirituality in North America. I won’t deny my own eyes, though.

      I don’t see how you blame the Serbs and Bulgars for the Bogomils, who grew out of the Manicheans and Paulicians that Constantinople dumped in Thrace, and ended up under the Bosnian church, which had been in submission to the Vatican. Nor were there children the only ones kidnapped for the Janissaries. Ask a Greek about the paidomazoma: Sinan was only the most notable one (I remember being in front of his tomb and thinking “what does it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul?”). The Phanar isn’t Agia Sophia, nor the millet-bashi an Ecumenical Patriarch. I fail to see, or rather you fail to substantiate, you distinction between what happened to the subject Greeks and the Serbs and Bulgarians. I do believe the Turks conquered Constantinople, at at time when it was divided between those who submitted to the Vatican and those who held to Orthodoxy, the result of the idea that one united church with one administrative center and one army could have helped rebuild after the crusades and repel the Turkish invader.

      So SAINT Boris I, SAINT Sava and SAINT Stefan/Simeon Nemanja were pagans? Interesting. Since Constantinople got its autocephaly after decades of Arian emperors, and expanded after Nestorius’ Imperial patron who martyred its primate St. Flavian, very interesting. The fact that SS Cyril and Methodius found fertile ground and a hospitable home in Bulgaria and Serbia undermine the Hellenization program you suggest the EP should have undertaken.

      Basil the Bulgar slayer had subdued the Bulgarian Patriarchate, which went into exile, and so there was no pesky “autocephalies” to explain the entry of the Turks in 1054. And, in face of the fact of the Serbian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Albanian and even the Church of Greece autocephalies, the Turk was not as successful as you claim. Why aren’t they all bowing to Mecca?

      As you confirm my suspicion that your opinions stem from the enemy-of-my-enmeny-is-my-friend party of ROCOR, and I’ve been told that this site sees the OCA/ROCOR thing as an in-house spat, I won’t dwell on it. But I do have to say, the canonical situation of ROCOR is odd, a Church by its very definition is outside its canonical boundaries. You do realize, that according to the Phanar’s idealogy that you are as illegitimaate as the OCA, if not more: at least the OCA claims to be a local Church, whereas ROCOR, being worldwide except Russia, is a universal one that puts it at direct odds with the master of “the barbarian lands.”

      Since I don’t see the Church as a business, I can’t gage it by pesnion funds, etc. Though such things are important, I admit, the sad state of the Episcopal “church” belies the idea that a healthy bank account and assets is the signs of a healthy Church.

      Of course we want the GOA. We just won’t bow to the altar of Ultramontanism for it. And as for the EP’s diptychs, Antioch gave her daughter autocephaly in 486, but the EP didn’t recognize it until March 3,1990. Not to mention the century or so it took to recognize that Kiev/Moscow/Rus were no longer in her jurisdiction (due to her own apostacy). Despite prevously stated facts, you continue to insist that the Phanar would recognize a catholicos without substantiating the basis of your hope. Remember, the EP thinks Moscow (including ROCOR) and Antioch are here uncanonically.

      “autocephalous primate of the American sister church demanding not only the recognition of but equality with the Patriarch of Constantinople” I don’t know what you are talking about here. Do you?

      When Alaska was sold, everyone predicted the OCA’s precursor’s demise. She is now the largest Church in Alaska. And the second largest in North America. I’m sure you in ROCOR are ready to save the former Russian American Mission, but it’s not even on life support. And it has plenty of help: St. Herman, St. Raphael, St. Jakob, St. Innocent, St. Peter, etc.

      And btw, your Patriarch recognizes the OCA’s autocephaly.

      Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

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        Jason Bently says:

        I specifically did mention the era of St. Sava as the flowering of Serbian spirituality to note the decline afterward and in no way did I indicate Serbian or Bulgarian Saints were pagans. Preposterous.

        The canonical status of ROCOR has been addressed by the MP and that is the reality of the matter.

        Likewise, what the MP does in recognition of the OCA has also been addressed by me in previous posts. Like it or not, since the Tomos is not recognized by Constantinople, the OCA de facto is dependent upon Moscow for any real legitimacy and thus in actuality is really nothing more than a self governing autonomous church (experiencing catastrophic failure). It is still the daughter dependent upon the mother’s intercession.

        The Patriarchate of Constantinople was clearly the established church of the empire and the other “lung” of the Byzantine state in its system of symphonia.

        When it functioned best was when the other “lung” (the imperial power) of that state was strong, visionary and united the Roman peoples under its territory and Church.

        When it functioned worst is when these peoples were disunited and Constantinople was a city limited to itself and its suburbs and perhaps some islands and in that process of territorial implosion.

        Thus, again, the political autocephalies of the Serbs and Bulgars were mistakes that could have been mitigated by inclusion of these peoples in the empire and their assimilation into at least one commonwealth and Church which could have better stemmed the tide of the Turkish invader and the subsequent catastrophes that occured.

        Moreover, you fail to note that not only janissaries of South Slavic and other Orthodox peoples are who swelled the ranks of the conquering Turk but retinues of Orthodox troops from conquered “nations” which would not have occured had there been a strong centralized commonwealth with one Church gluing the people together in one ethos which would have led to one ethos, one common Roman identity and affirmation of Orthodoxy and loyalty to an Orthodox empire.

        It was not until Russia began interceding in the Ottoman empire and engaging in wars to liberate Orthodox Christians that other churches and peoples could again breathe freely, but when these peoples and their churches became detached from the Phanar, the Phanar suffered and they likewise became less universal in outlook and more “national”. The process was flawed. Although the result may be necessary.

        As far as the OCA is concerned, when is failure not failure? When the final church is closed and the phone bill at Syosset goes to collections? Using that failed “autocephaly” as a backdrop for any type of N American unity while at the same time advocating schism from the Antiochian mother church can bring no good fruit. It can only bring further catastrophes. In all deference to the Saints, they were sanctified in humility and obedience. The path you indicate is one of pride and disobedience.

        From Theodosius onward the OCA has made inane and nonsensical statements insulting the EP. One who carries water for Syosset should at least become cognizant of them.

        What an Antiochian Katholikosate organized as I have indicated does is rallies more churches to its cause and does not disrupt the EP’s cash flow or threaten it as a supposed “autcephalous” OCA does. Moreover, if, as I believe will happen, the MP clearly agrees to SCOBA headed by the EP as the model for N American unity with the membership of this Antiochian Katholikosate a surety, the EP will have no reason for not recognizing it and enrolling its heirarch in the diptyches. It does not, can not, and will not threaten the EP’s cash flow.

        Moscow is the world’s largest Orthodox Church backed by a superpower which can act to easily quash the EP’s “need for rivalries” simply by coming to terms with the Turkish government. Thus any threats or implications of “consequences” implied to the MP are not in any way a serious concern to the Russian church.

        I think that a Russian Patriarch of Constantinople could be a possibility, but such a person would necessarily have to be a hellenized Phanariot, which is definitely not a probability.

        The status of ROCOR as an autonomous Russian church reflects the reality of diaspora and the upheavals Russia has gone through in the last century. Indeed, the first sanctuary for ROCOR was the Phanar so they are quite cognizant of the special circumstances ROCOR finds itself existing under. They know of the 39th. Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council.

        Again, it simply makes more sense to found the N American local church on discretion and canonicity. I’m not arguing for the subjugation of the OCA or its failure, but, rather, its recovery from catastrophe and inclusion in a self run autonomous N American junior patriarchate which has more recognition, better management, good stewardship and resources and successful evangelization methologies, which is retaining membership with generational shifts. The OCA doesn’t become less freer in such an arrangement. It simply starts to become successful. That’s simply arguing for success and the actual possibility for one day achieving an American autocephaly which indeed claims a significant presence on N American territory.

        While I protest not at all. I simply want Orthodoxy in N America to happen. The OCA is an abject failure whose history illustrates methodologies which will not make that happen.

        Jason Bently

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          Ryan Close says:

          Jason, I am interested in what you think about the following thoughts.

          1) Simply saying that it is a “failure” and an “abject failure” doesn’t make it so. The way the OCA operates is changing, in many ways radically. The previous metropolitains were elected from a very insular group of Carpatho-Russians. Today our metropolitain is a convert and a very humble leader. He encourages us in true loving self-sacrifice and Orthodoxy of the heart through actively pursuing evangelism, good works, charity, peace, and justice. Our parish is experiencing explosive growth and will eventually found a sister parish. We have many people attend services at the monastery 40 miles from the city. People are inquiring almost weekly.

          2) The OCA has many monasteries. The AOA has one. I think this may be a better gauge of maturity and success for a Church than pension funds.

          3) The AOA is not without it’s problems and crisis. And it is interesting that you are advocating an Antiochian style leadership since this is exactly the debate going on in the AOA right now. Met Phillip practices a very heavy handed top-down leadership style that is based on strong-arming people, intimidation, cult of personality, and control. Many converts from Protestantism have put up with it for a long time as an over-reaction from their previous disdain for authority. They are waking up to the fact that bishops are supposed to be fathers not despots. That is why it is so important for the Orthodox Christians of this country to insist on fatherly pastors who will guide us and encourage us in the right paths and toward good works and for evangelism, not just acolades and fundraising!

          4) Furthermore, it is not as if the OCA or the AOA are going to exist as they now are for very long anyway. Met Jonah acknowledges the kenotic role of the autocephely granted by the Mother Church, to facilitate a move toward greater unity. That is why he is open to the Chambesy process in a way that previous leaders would not have been. Hopefully your predictions will not come true, primarily because there will no longer be an “institution” called the OCA, because it will have merged with the others.

          5) Your definition of autocephely as “autocephely aknowledged by all” is interesting since it does make sense that if not all local Churches acknowledge a church’s autocephely they are de-facto reliant on their Mother Church for connection to the wider Church.

          6) Nonetheless, I don’t think the OCA will do anything that the Moscow Patriachate disproves of and I think your solutions would definitely work against Moscow. Met Jonah says he is on the same page as the Patriarch.

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            Jason Bently says:

            1). I’m not sure if there was ever a Carpatho Russian Metropolitan of the OCA, perhaps Theodosius. I believe Metropolitan Herman was of Little Russian extraction. While, the fact that Metropolitan Jonah is a convert doesn’t mean much. For the simple fact of the matter is that he is not assuming leadership of a body founded by Russians who built its parishes and institutions and later were joined by converts who rivalled those Russians in the building of parishes and institutions. No, he is presiding over the collapse of the parishes and institutions built by the Russians with no real convert bulwarking to date of that OCA in this regard. So his convert status gives no “extra” legitimacy. If anything, it says the core of the OCA gave up and they simply allowed someone else to take over because they had enough. What your parish may be experiencing is not the reality of the OCA. Since “autocephaly” it has lost 80% of its membership, gone bankrupt and retained little in generational shifts in its memberships. You gain converts and the heartland of the OCA like PA is on the verge of closing dozens of churches. One step forward, five steps back?!

            2). The OCA has some monasteries, yes, and Antioch has not had a monastic orientation to this point. Yet somehow that emphasis is better served I believe in a body financially capable of supporting monastic growth and reconciled to it than it is with a body which is in bankruptcy. The body I am speaking of would be the autonomous Antiochian Katholikosate which absorbs the OCA as an equal partner, not subjugates it.

            3). Metropolitan Philip, like it or not, took two warring Antiochian dioceses from the brink of oblivion and total obscurity, united them, organized them for growth and prosperity and has enjoyed a successful missionary era on American soil where centralized leadership has been necessary in keeping things running smoothly. The Orthodox church is not congregationalist in constitution and the OCA has failed in its model. The Antiochians are succeeding. That’s what needs to be appreciated.

            4). I am agreeing with you on that point and illustrating how the two united can be successful in my opinion by reflecting on the past.

            5). My definition of autocephaly means the Orthodox local church of a region not contested by other Orthodox churches. That’s autocephaly in the Orthodox world. The OCA can never achieve that, nor are the Orthodox jurisdictions in N America ready for it.

            6). My solutions involve the MP as one of the chief advocates and friends of Antioch, the proposed Katholikosate and the transition of the OCA from failing mission to restored and guided and grounded missionary administration. MP/ROCOR is allied to the OCA/AOA Katholikosate in my paradigm and may even commemorate the Katholikos, while it helps in rallying other non aligned Orthodox jurisdictions to its side in SCOBA. This in no way undermines the MP. What it does is facillitates all parties involved in flourishing.

            Jason Bently

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Jason,

    you’re not only engaging in character assassination but special pleading as well. To try and make the case that Bulgarian’s and Serbia’s autocephalies “expired” because they were not mature is like saying O J Simpson is a “widower.” Technically speaking, that is correct. It was the Turkish army which rescinded the autocephaly of these churches.

    As for overall lack of maturity, financial success, loss of population, and evangelistic zeal, I think we could all agree that based on a cursory reading of history, the see of Constantinople is by far one of the most decrepit of the ancient patriarchates. BTW, I don’t say this with any glee in my heart: my mother’s ancestry is from the island of Imbros, which is still in that patriarchate. This is just an observation, one which I must make in order to be intellectually honest.

    Can this be reversed? I hope so. For one thing, the EP can start evangelizing the people in Istanbul, not just “pastoring” the Greeks there, or the growing number of Russians.

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      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      The fact of the matter is that the EP is a body which breathes by its diaspora and pays its bills by the largesse and prosperity of that diaspora. As a body under Turkish domination, it really does not exist to thrive on Turkish territory and structurally cannot.

      There aren’t any such impediments to the OCA, so the comparions are not totally accurate.

      Moreover, in diaspora the EP is succeeding in ministering to Orthodox Christians and building new Orthodox communities and establishing a greater Orthodox presence.

      The OCA, however, has failed on all accounts in this regard.

      If you want to make successful missiology your sine non qua of the EP’s legitimacy, you have made its case for diaspora, rule of that diaspora and the incompetence of an OCA in that vein.

      Jason Bently

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        Fr. John says:

        I find this incessant carping about the putative ‘failure’ of the OCA project an inane tautology. How can you say the OCA as a whole is caput when the diocese to which I have just moved, i.e. the Diocese of the South, has grown during the tenure of its recently-retired Abp. DMITRI from some 6 sleepy vacation dacha parishes in FL to more than 60 parishes from NM to NC, all using the local language of the people, none having pews?
        If you look only to PA & NJ you will see something like failure, but that is a picture of the ethnic past of part of the OCA (mostly the Carpatho-Rusyn part) and does not evince its present or future. Nor has the experience of the Western Diocese shown massive die-off, but rather good stewardship and provident leadership.
        I am from SF; ROCOR there is big, yes ( I think the SF ROCOR community comprises a very large proportion of the whole of that jurisdiction’s population). From a SF perspective, one may think the OCA is small beer, but despite its demographic ‘failure’, the OCA is some 10 times larger than ROCOR, and much more diverse. And there is no saying in OCA parishes like,”converts always quit”. To me that sums up a certain kind of failure.
        I find little evidence of an immanent collapse of the OCA; rather we have made unprecedented strides toward sorting out some major problems and thereby have become a harbinger of return to health among other Orthodox churches. Our clergy are a diverse bunch comprising a good proportion of converts (myself and all my Hierarchs to date included)
        I don’t see ROCOR having much of a role in the future of N Am Orthodox life; perhaps you could outline your projection of its success. From what I understand, ROCOR’s vision is to ‘preserve the image of Holy Russia’ (this verbatim from a chancellor of that church). I’m not sure this is a blueprint for the future growth of Orthodoxy in North America, at least it does not sound like a credible viewpoint by which to judge the viability of other, non-ethnic jurisdictions.

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        Ryan Close says:

        Metropolitan Philip, like it or not, took two warring Antiochian dioceses from the brink of oblivion and total obscurity, united them, organized them for growth and prosperity and has enjoyed a successful missionary era on American soil where centralized leadership has been necessary in keeping things running smoothly. The Orthodox church is not congregationalist in constitution and the OCA has failed in its model. The Antiochians are succeeding. That’s what needs to be appreciated.

        The Antiochian Archdiocese has been successful. No one denies this. But an equally disturbing crisis in leadership has manifested itself in the Archdiocese. You put forward a false dichotomy. The choice is not between congregationalism and despotism. My question is this: Why would Christians in the OCA willingly submit themselves to the leadership of one who childishly demands accolades and praises and tries as hard as he can to utterly destroy the lives of people who simply call for transparency and accountability. People such as Mark Stokoe whom Met Philip feels is “attacking” him. Which is patently ridiculous. Met Philip is not in favor of the free press and thus in favor of corruption. Or Owen White, who was a victim of fear and intimidation. And what about their episcopal crisis? Not being able to solve problems locally means justice is not quickly served or at all. The OCA finally has transparency, accountability, and strong leadership as from a loving father. Why would we go back to fear and intimidation?

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    Ryan Close says:

    What does this mean?

    To dispute the legitimacy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople I’ll leave to those who can’t reconcile themselves with the Imperial Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.

    Constantinople was wrong, dead wrong, on most of the heresies of the 7 councils. But add the 8th and 9th ecumenical councils and the average goes up. St Photius was right in 879 and St Palamas was right in 1347-1354.

    But what does this have to do with anything. Today the EP is trying to be the vatican style universal ruler instead of the loving pastor and servant and father of all Orthodox Christians. He acts more friendly to every bleeding heart tyrant and Gospel denying Protestant than he does to contemporary saints!

    And furthermore, does the EP recognize the sanctity of the Holy New Martyrs of the Russia and America or St Herman or St John Maximovich? The monks of Mt Athos do. If they cannot even recognize our saints, either because they are unable to do so or because of some kind of political stunt, then are we even in communion?

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      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      I’m not carrying water for the EP and agree its neo papal pretensions are exaggerations and illegitimate.

      Also, the idiosyncrecies of its recognitions of the spiritual accomplishments of other local churches detract from its ecumenical (in the true Orthodox sense) character.

      However, there was a time when Constantinople was great while it is in many ways the Mother Church of much of today’s world Orthodoxy. Respect should be accorded to it in this regard.

      Likewise, one also has to appreciate the successful diasporan missions of the EP and consider their inclusion in a pan Orthodox diasporan unity under a framework possible for the EP.

      Excluding the EP is folly. Disregarding its concerns will not bring about any type of unity but rather work to undermine it.

      Jason Bently

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        Ryan Close says:

        Right, then we agree. The EP has long been a gentle father and strong defender of the faith. All Orthodox Christians would normally render much honor and thanks for his many accomplishments on their behalf. The fact that we find that hard is symptomatic of a disease that has infected the office of the EP. Many would say that Athenagoras and Metataxies were expressing a heretical ecclesiology and his holiness Bartholomew has only rarely parted company with them.

        But we are not against the Patriarch of Constantinople! We commemorate many many saints of Constantinople and Greece, most especially St John Crysostom.

        As I implied before, when the EP stops being more friendly to bleeding heart tyrants and Gospel denying Protestants and becomes the champion of True Orthodoxy then we will love him like a father.

        As far as unity in America, I leave that to the bishops. Met Jonah will not do anything that the Patriarch of Moscow disapproves of. They will take care of this dispute among themselves, and thanks to Chambesy, sooner than latter. I am just pointing out that the OCA is experiencing growth in my part of the world and that the P of M would probably not allow a merger with the AOA. All the Patriarchs unanimously approved the Chambesy process. I think that is what the P of M expects of us.

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          Jason Bently says:

          Dear Sir,

          I am not so sure the MP would not allow an OCA merger with the AOA. Outside of the MP’s satellites, the Patriarch of Antioch is one of Moscow’s closest friends.

          What has been bantered about in Russian circles is the formation of a greater Russian diasporan Synod uniting all Russian and post Russian jurisdictions. This includes the OCA. I personally think that most of the OCA simply does not fit in such an administration and is better suited being allied to Antioch, while in my paradigm I do leave open the possibility of OCA dioceses and parishes voting (if they so choose) to join such a restored Russian missionary administration.

          Chambessy is going to reiterate SCOBA administration of N America under the EP.

          Jason Bently

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            Ryan Close says:

            I don’t really care how it is done. And I am not opposed philosophically to what you have proposed. I asked questions at the beginning of this thread that pointed to much the same thing. But the egotism surrounding the “reunification” is all so intolerable. It is almost better to be jurisdictionaly divided so long as these power plays stay hidden.

            Why didn’t Chambesy simply declare that there is only one canonical Orthodox Church, and that is the Church who’s Holy Synod represented all Orthodox Christians and was attended by all the bishops and that as a consequence, there were no other jurisdictions?

            Under the Chambessy process, only the Episcopal Assemblies leading up to full normalcy are headed by the EP’s ethnarc. After canonical normalcy is restored, then the resulting local Church would elect it’s own Metropolitan. I say get it over with as soon as possible.

            I was reflecting last night about what the reunion would mean for me and my family. Say the diocese are redrawn and we fall in a diocese with a Greek bishop? What will become of us? Will we get pews and organs and drive away all the converts because they are not Greek enough? I am worried about what happens when you mix hot water with cold water.

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            Ryan Close says:

            How do we get it done?

  23. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Jason, not only are you being egregiously unfair, you are now being illogical. You state that the canonicity of ROCOR is recognized by the MP. I assume this means you are ok with it. Well, using simple Euclidian logic, then you must accept the autocephaly of the OCA which was likewise recognized (and granted) by the MP. You can’t have it both ways. To not recognie the autocephaly of the OCA would mean that you do not recognize as well the cannicity of ROCOR. Which is it?

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      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      I have outlined my opinions of both these bodies in previous posts. Please take the time to reread them.

      It’s not that I am disputing the reality of the Tomos. I have not. I am saying that it is effectively null and void because the Phanar does not recognize it and the functional reality of the situation is such that the Mother Church is the sole arbiter of any OCA legitimacy in the Orthodox world. That means de facto, the OCA functions as an autonomous synodeia dependent upon Moscow, meaning the Tomos is a dead letter which does not in reality constitute reality. Moreover, the Tomos is undermined by the abject failure of the OCA. The very fact the OCA recognizes SCOBA on its would be canonical territory is own quiet admission of that fact.

      Jason Bently

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        Ryan Close says:

        You could say that the fact that the OCA allows SCOBA to exist is that they are trying to practice that Christian virtue of putting others first. We all acknowledge that there is canonical disorder in America. But that is not the OCA’s fault, nor is it Moscow’s. The EP originally acknowledged the OCA’s autocephely. It doesn’t do it now for political purposes. We recognize that other jurisdictions have their very human hang ups and are or were not ready for full jurisdictional unity. But I am sure that the OCA considers it more diplomatic, and what’s more, more brotherly, to participate in an organization like SCOBA than to start bombastically excommunicating everyone who does not “submit.” This obsession with “forcing others to submit” is not Orthodox. You could say that submission is all Orthodoxy is, but demanding others submit is it’s opposite.

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          Jason Bently says:

          Dear Sir,

          You don’t put others first when it undermines your own canonical territory and your status as a local church. Such an act in and of itself is already a concession that you are unsure of your canonical territory and/or cannot administer it, are no so sure you are that local church and doubt the mandate of your own Tomos.

          Jason Bently

  24. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Jason Bently says:

    Dear Sir,

    When episcopal boundaries are redrawn, that doesn’t mean people are forced out of parishes to belong to others.

    Moreover, having an ethnic heirarch is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when one considers that in order for Orthodoxy to thrive in N America, a synthesis of ethnic, assimilate and convert has to harmoniously transpire.

    As far as pews, organs, etc. are concerned, I agree that lines must be drawn. There is no place for organs in Orthodox churches and this should be a concession the GOA is willing to make if it is going to assume the mantle of “presidency in honor” of a uniting N American Orthodoxy.

    Jason Bently

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Jason, re 23.1: You are quite incorrect. Recognition by the EP has never been the sine qua non of autocephaly. Nor is it the only grantor of autocephaly. Antioch singlehandedly granted autocephaly to its Georgian eparchate well over one thousand years ago. Even Joachim III, the EP in1873 granted a tomos of autocephaly to Serbia recognizing that “there were many ways” in which autocephaly could be granted. Please read my latest essay on this subject (I believe under sub-heading V or VI.) The reason that he granted autocephaly to Serbia was because in its earlier incarnation as an autocephalous church, Constantinople had been its mother church. It was in this light that he re-issued its autocephaly.

    Any mother church can grant autocephaly to its daughters. Otherwise, we are left with an absurdity: namely, who granted autocephaly to the churches that preceded Constantinople? In another post, Isa pointed out that the ecumenical concils “recognized” the autocephaly of the ancient sees (Rome, Alexandria, etc.) On the other hand, it “created” the autocephaly (by statute) of Cyprus and Constantinople.

  26. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Dear sir, re 24, don’t hold your breath. the ecclesiology of the GOA is regrettable in re organs and pews.

    As for the OCA being “unsure” of its canonicity and boudanries, this is unfair as well. We live in a free country and no Orthodox Church can impose its will on others, even other Orthodox. Please read Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver’s essay “The Dangers of Multiple Jurisdictions in the United States.” He clearly states that in a pluralistic society such as ours, it is impossible for any canonical Orthodox church to enforce canonicity or explicate to the outside world which church/jurisdiction is canonical or not. If I may press the point, cults like Scientology and the JW’s enjoy legitimate religious status in the United States. There’s nothing that SCOBA can do about it. Isaiah’s point was that only by uniting could we even begin to make an attempt to define canonicity.

    You may be surprised to note that ROCOR operated its own parishes in Russia (and its dioceses as well) during the time of the Soviet repression and up until the present. There is no more powerful Orthodox Church than Moscow’s and yet it could not evict ROCOR from its boundaries nor confiscate its churches. The same situation obtains in Greece, where there are several Old Calendar churches and dioceses in existence.

    But let us be honest: most Old World churches (the EP) included, will never let go of their American cash cows. That is why I am forced to come to the conclusion that the Chambesy protocol will ultimately be a waste of time, no different than SCOBA. I was willing to give it a chance but after listening to Fr Mark Arey’s comments, I realize that the stunning bad that was in evidence at Holy Cross last March 16, is still very much in operation at least as far as the Phanar is concerned. The end result of this –because it is in bad faith–will be schism I am afraid.

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      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      I am well aware of the activities of ROCOR in Russia and the reasons for them. Those are separate issues which have nothing whatsoever to do with this topic.

      No, if one is Orthodox, one is bound by a common canonical order, which clearly precludes and condemns the work of other local churches on the territory of a sovereign autocephalous church. The fact the OCA even participates in such a body which denies these canonical prerogatives shows indeed that it either is unable of enforcing them and/or does not take them seriously. That is part and parcel requisite for an autocephalous, local church. If the OCA is the autocephalous N American local church, canonically its administration must be mutually exclusive of such bodies as SCOBA, which canonically are condemned interlopers on its territory.

      No, democratic, pluralistic, etc. structures do not obviate the canonical nature of the Church and her canonicity. The Church lived by the Holy Canons from pagan Rome to Communist Russia to liberal democratic Greece.

      As far as organs and the like are concerned, if the GOA agrees to sit in presidency of a conciliar structure, it must by necessity subject itself to conciliarity and the will of the Church.

      The rest is your welcome dissenting opinion which is another contribution to topic.

      Jason Bently

  27. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Jason Bently says:

    Dear Sir,

    Since Constantinople holds presidency of honor among Orthodox local churches, part of that function is recognition of them in their status as local churches and entering them into the diptyches.

    That’s part and parcel conciliarity in the Orthodox Church.

    It is true that an established local church may grant autocephaly to one of its daughters; however, when one accepts the conciliar character of the Church, such an autocephaly does not really become a reality until this local church is recognized by its peers, the first of which is Constantinople.

    What bearing this has is in constituting quoroms in the Church for local and ecumenical councils which decide on the canonical and doctrinal order of the Church.

    If you are not enrolled in the diptyches of the Church of Constantinople, you will not sit as an autocephalous local church in such a council, nor will you participate as such, nor will you be part of the decision making as such. Thus, your autocephaly will essentially be a self governing autonomy granted by your Mother Church for all practical purposes.

    None of this however has anything to do with justifying the abject failure of the OCA and its utter incompetence in ever function as the autocephalous church of N America.

    Again, the fact it is a constituent (not even an executive constituent) of SCOBA which operates on its territory is de facto admission that it itself does not fully recognize its Tomos and its autocephaly.

    The rest has been addressed above.

    Jason Bently

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      Isa Almisry says:

      so the Georgian Church waited with baited breath for over 15 centuries until the EP recognized it. I don’t think so. In fact, I know not so.

      You keep saying that the OCA is such an abject failure. Tell, where did ROCOR succeed in being recognized as THE Russian Church?

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        Jason Bently says:

        Dear Sir,

        The Georgian church’s autocephaly was suppressed in 1800 and only later reinstated after the Revolution and then only became effectual after the enrolling of its Katholikos into the diptyches.

        That is precisely the point I am making in regard to true autocephaly, local church and conciliarity.

        It was never ROCOR’s purpose to be recognized as the “Russian church”, or an autocephaly, nor does that have anything whatsoever to do with the topic. For a time, ROCOR was influential in the Orthodox world as being a free voice and traditional one of Russian Orthodoxy, especially during the primacy of Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky). ROCOR’s emphases over the years and actions (glorifications, doctrinal stands, etc.) indeed influenced the post communist MP (even the Stalinist MP if one takes into account the condemnations of Bulgakov’s sophiology and ecumenism-WCC /Moscow Sobor 1948/). One need only look at the 2000 Moscow Sobor to appreciate that.

        The OCA’s failure has been addressed and defined above and there is no point in talking it in circles, nor is there any reason to keep bringing up a body which in effect adds nothing to this discussion, save a glaring example of a way in which not to go.

        The paradigm I put forward for unity was and AOA/OCA Antiochian self ruled autonomous Katholikosate, a junior Patriarchate, as an eventual basis, Patriarchate, for N American Orthodox unity, a body cooperating with and aiding the EP led SCOBA to be, not ROCOR/MP.

        Jason Bently

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          Isa Almisry says:

          yes, I’m aware of the Holy Governing Synod (a body of dubious canonicity) uncanonical actions against the Church of Georgia.

          Old Rome did not enroll Constantinople in its diptychs, it seems, until Lateran IV (1215). But that was after the schism, so I guess Constantinople never made it into the diptychs. If Constantinople’s diptychs are so important now, then Rome’s must have been then.

          The OCA’s failure has been alleged, but since I’m not a Hindu mantras don’t work for me. You seem to know better on the numbers (your “lost 80%….”) than anyone claims. How are you privy to such information? As for the demise of the OCA in its heartland, as you put it, in PA, you might note that a) PA population overall is aging: it has the largest percentage of retirees after FL, b) PA is the heartland of Orthodoxy period, and a lot of that is due to the OCA.

          I used to attend the OCA Cathedral here in Chicago, founded by St. Tikhon and St. John Kuchurov. During the short time I was there (3 years, my ex wife’s idea) they had a number of Lutheran pastors who were in training for the priesthood has they were bringing their congregations into Orthodoxy, and the Christ the Savior mission fell into their hands. All the parishes I know in the Chicago area were a-building.

          I do not see any evidence that the EP has any interest in a united North American Church, except under him. THAT’s the way NOT to go.

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            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            It is clear that Constantinople sat in council during the era of the seven ecumenical councils and also during the post schism era in presidency of the post schism councils.

            It’s canonical prerogative of enrolling churches into the diptyches of the Orthodox Church determines the canonical order of the churches and their conciliarity in council. If there is no possibility of conciliar participation for a supposedly “autocephalous” local church, that church by all effects does not function as an autocephalous local church.

            In 1976, the OCA stated a membership of 1,000,000. Just last year that number was stated as 200,000. That’s an 80% decrease.

            Some say that 1,000,000 Orthodox Christians in the OCA was an impossibility, because of the great disparity of believer to church. But if one looks at, say, the pre-Revolutionary Russian Orthodox church, one sees similar disparities in believer to church and even greater ones today after the fall of Communism. Does this mean there really aren’t that many Orthodox believers? No, it means that church affiliation by Russian Orthodox Christians isn’t as much dependent on church attendance as it is upon self identification and adherence to the doctrines of the Church, with use of its ministrations on as needed basis.

            Now, between 1870 and 1970, at least 5,000,000 Russian Orthodox Christians immigrated to N America (This number also discounts nominal “baptized” Orthodox such as Socialist emigres and baptized Jews). Discounting defections, deaths, memberships in other jurisdictions, even without taking into consideration new births and conversions, the 1976 number is probably understated for the OCA.

            Thus an 80% loss. How in the world can it be justified to perpetuate, reward, or even take such a FAILED model seriously?!

            Again, if one does not want to look at PA (Why isn’t the OCA in PA converting Pennsylvanians?! Isn’t that what the American local church is supposed to do?), then look at Alaska which experiencing serious declines in membership and defections by the youth. If not Alaska, then look at New England which has suffered heavy generational losses. If not New England, look at Michigan and Ohio and Minnesota and Indiana and Wisconsin and Missouri, also suffering heavy generational losses. Canada has similiar trends, etc. Again, 1 step forward, 5 steps back is what you indicate.

            This is nothing to emulate, but rather something to lament.

            Again, the model I put forward begins to stop this bleeding and actually begins increasing the number of Orthodox in America while cooperating with everyone else.

            It makes alot more sense than loathing of the GOA and building something on the quicksand of a failed “autocephaly”.

            Jason Bently

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    George Michalopulos says:

    correction, I meant to say “…the stunning bad faith that was in evidence…”

  29. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    P.S. sorry for the disjointedness of this. I believe I speak for many who want administrative unity that none of us are against “ethnic bishops.” I myself am Greek-American. What we are against is a stacked deck in which only EP bishops are placed at the top of the heap and no one else is allowed to join “the club.” If this is the case, and if measures are taken to “consolidate finances” in pension and health funds without any concommitant endeavor in redrawing episcopal boundaries and allowing each bishop one vote, then I can predict that the episcopal assemblies will eventually wither and die. I can easily see a scenario where the OCA, AOCNA, Serbs, etc. will simply drag their feet when it comes to turning over their monies.

    Some of course would say that these churches are “tiny” and their funds are “meager” or their real estate “insconsequential” in comparison to the GOA. Yet in listening to Fr Mark Arey’s two recent interviews, I got the distinct impression that that this was not the case, otherwise he wouldn’t have harped on it time and again.

  30. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Jason Bently says:

    Dear Sir,

    As far as stacking the deck is concerned, by coordinating efforts between the Katholikosate I propose, the ROCOR/MP and non EP aligned structures in the Synod to be, “reshufflings” of the order of Bishops, their number, etc. can be effectuated. With the pressure of Mother Churches brought to bear, even defections and the habits of conciliarity of such a body can be “oriented”.

    As a Russian Orthodox Christian, I in no way am intimidated by Constantinople or its diasporan appanages, for at the end of the day, it is a captive see which is influenced by the political climate of the day.

    In that climate, Russia is the chief Orthodox power.

    Jason Bently

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Jason, re the 5,000,000 number of emigres from the Russian Empire to the United States is patently absurd. The largest number of emigres from that nation were Jews, not Christians. There is absolutely no way that any more than 1,000,000 Russian Christians emigrated to America over even a 100 year period. (Western Europe, South America and Australia are another matter entirely.)

    Anecdonatal evidence against this fabulous number is overwhelming. The majority of priests in the United States and territories were Russian, as were all the bishops. This made sense as North America was a constituent diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church (the 66th diocese if memory serves). The majority of their parishioners on the other hand were Greek and Serbian. It is a proven fact that the largest number of Orthodox immigrants to the United States were Greeks, averaging about 19,000 Greeks per year from 1900-1920. The reason there was no massive out-migration of Russian Christians before 1917 was because land reforms in Russia were benefitting a majority of the people. In fact, Russia was a net exporter of food, its railroad tonnage was increasing geometrically, and universal medical insurance was being inaugurated in the early 1900s. Greece on the other hand was an impoverished land unable to sustain its growing population (this has almost always been the case, that’s why we Greeks are among the world’s greatest explorers and colonizers, we had to do it.)

    Of course thousands of Carpatho-Russians and Ukrainians, as well as Russians emigrated to the United States and Canada, and their churches in raw numbers did outnumber Greek parishes by fourr-to-one, but even if we accept the number of 20,000 Greeks per year x 20 years, that number comes to 400,000. At the outside, that would mean that 1,600,000 Russian Empire emigres came to that time, since Metropolia parishes outnumbered Greek by 4 to one.

    In reality however, Greek parishes by necessity were more populous than the typical Metropolia parish (which is still the case today). The reason for this is because Greek immigrants had absolutly no help from the EP or the Church of Greece in founding their parishes. (So much for the “missionary impulse” of these churches that some writers allege.) The majority of Metropolia parishes were founded and endowed by the Tsarist government. This included everything from the purchase of land, monies for construction, liturgical implements and vestments, and of course –most importantly–stipends for priests. The Greek immigrants had nothing even approaching this (except for those that recognized the authority of Moscow).

    As someone who has been involved in building project from the ground up, I cannot tell you what a boon it would have been to have had this kind of help from an exogenous source. Regardless, the point is that even though Metropolia parishes outnumbered Greek parishes by a significant 4:1 margin, it is extremely doubtful that Russian/Ukrainian/Carpatho-Russian/Galician immigrants outnumbered Greeks by this same ratio.

    As for the number quoted by the OCA in the past of “1 million adherents” that is an absurdity as well (and shame on us for repeating it). As absurd in fact as the frequently cited number of “1.5 million Greek Orthodox” which is put in every press release and every issue of The Orthodox Observer. The best numbers (as I’ve said ad nauseam are Alexei Krindatch’s. At most, there are 1.2 million Orthodox in America (and this includes Oriental Orthodox as well). The GOA is likely the largest, but with no more than 400,000 at the outside.

  32. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Jason Bently says:

    Dear Sir,

    Here is a quote from a quick net search for Russian immigration to the US:

    …An investigation carried out in 1978 revealled that since 1820 over 3,374,000 people emigrated to the United States from Russia. …

    http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAErussia.htm

    That number is at odds with the one I provided and it does not take into account the immigration of Russian Orthodox from Austria Hungary.

    Magocsi (who lowballs Rusyn numbers) writes about them:

    …Carpatho-Rusyns began immigrating to the United States in the late 1870s and in the 1880s. By the outbreak of World War I in 1914, approximately 225,000 had arrived. …

    http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Bu-Dr/Carpatho-Rusyn-Americans.html

    At least 40% of them converted to Orthodoxy.

    Now discounting Jews, Socialist, non Orthodox, etc. and taking into consideration births, conversions, etc., even with this cursory search, the 1976 OCA number of 1,000,000 holds up.

    Again, similar disparities of believer to church have been witnessed in Russia for centuries. Thus, the argument that you can’t that many people into a church again falls to pieces.

    Thus an 80% loss in membership by the OCA since autocephaly, abject failure.

    Jason Bently

  33. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    P.S., this would mean that at present, there are as many Greek Orthodox in America as there were in the first twenty years of the last century. I’m not a mathemitician and cannot do regression analysis, but this means that the attirition rate must be horrendous. According to the Census Bureau, there are over 900,000 Americans who claim Greek descent. That means at least one grandparent. Even this number in no way indicates Orthodox adherents. Some of these people of Greek descent are Romaniote Jews from Thessalonika, Vlakhs, and the ever-problematic Macedonians. Let us also not forget that many people of Greek descent are Evangelical, Charismatic, Catholic, and of course, un-churched. (In my own little neck of the woods, I’ve known Greek-Americans in all these categories.)

    As for the “failed autocephaly,” this is nothing less than a calumny. Nothing is over until it’s over. The history of Orthodoxy in this country is not over. (Although I shudder to think what would happen if we were all forced to “submit to the First Throne of Orthodoxy.” Yeah, that’s what we need here in the good ole’ U S of A, instruction in how to prepare baklava for our festivals, that’ll bring ‘em in to the True Faith.) One could have said the same thing about Russian Orthodoxy during the dephths of the Cold War. It is not the commissars who are having the last laugh in that country.

    Let us put our cards on the table: 1. the Phanariotes are never going to allow true administrative unity, 2. they are never going to allow the GOA to be part of an autocephalous church, and 3. all attempts to aggrandize the role of Constantinople are bound to fail because Constantinople’s autocephaly was and is based on statute, not an actual apostolic foundation. And I would add 4. once it becomes obvious that there will not be a “Great and Holy Council” and that GOA functionaries are going to be running the pension plans, then the episcopal council in North America will likewise go the way of SCOBA, I mean all flesh.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      I just looked at the numbers in a cursory fashion and they hold up. An 80% loss is an utter failure. There is no way to spin it otherwise.

      You say 900,000 people of Greek ancestry and the GOA claims a membership of 1,500,000. I would suspect that the GOA is probably not far from the mark.

      The rest of the attacks on the GOA are your speculation. All right. Let’s see how it plays out.

      Jason Bently

  34. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Jason Bently says:

    Dear Sir,

    The numbers are even worse when one considers that the OCA has large Romanian and Bulgarian segments and the fact that the stated number today of 200,000 adherents is established with the clarification that 51% of them are converts. That’s at least 101,000 converts, leaving 99,000 ethnic/assimilate Orthodox divided between Russians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Albanians and others. Even with Magosci’s figures, there were at least 100,000 Orthodox Carpatho Russians in 1914! Thus is utter, abject, unforgiveable failure.

    Jason Bently

  35. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    So now, it’s not 5,000,000 but 3.7 million of which perhaps one million were Jews and non-Christians?

    OK, then what about the stasis of GOA numbers that I mentioned? I.e. 400,000 in 1920 and 400,000 now?

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      Now it’s a quick source stating a number which far outweighs the outlandish and understated number you put forward and is alot closer to my own. Taking all things into consideration, it is pretty clear that the OCA 1976 of 1,000,000 members, including Romanians, Bulgarians, converts, Albanians, etc. is most probably correct if not understated.

      Again, even Magosci’s numbers say that what became the OCA had more Carpatho Russian Orthodox in 1914 than it does have a total of ethnic/assimilate Orthodox today.

      Ludicrously unforgiveable missionary failure and implosion!

      Jason Bently

  36. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    sorry, 3.74 million.

    No one who is arguing in good faith is saying that Orthodoxy is thriving in America. Certainly not in the OCA. The pollyannas though are in the GOA, which using your criteria is just as abject a failure. (I will not even entertain which jurisdiction –GOA, OCA, AOCNA, etc.–has the most failed ecclesiology. that’s a whole other pissin’ contest.)

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      Is the OCA or AOA bankrupt and how many churches and institutions have they built since 1970. Their numbers are showing an increase and flourishing jurisdictions.

      Moreover, neither of these bodies were supposed to be the N American local entrusted to convert N America to Orthodoxy.

      Now, the number to concentrate on is the 1976 OCA number which states a million members and even with the quick source I found, it holds up, especially in consideration of Carpatho Russians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Albanians, converts, new births.

      That leaves last year’s number of 200,000 which the OCA reports as accurate, leaving an 80% loss.

      Then there’s the bankruptcies and lack of generational retentions and all the other nonsense.

      The OCA is an abject failure by its own admission.

      Arguing otherwise or trying to camouflage it with attacks on other jurisdictions (inaccurate ones) in no buries the facts.

      Jason Bently

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        Jason Bently says:

        Dear Sir,

        Moreover, the only other “denomination” in the US to experience such losses during the period in question was the Episcopal Church of North America.

        Sad company to be in and unforgiveable.

        Jason Bently

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    George Michalopulos says:

    sorry, 3.37 million. I’ve got a bandage on my middle finger and it’s making typing difficult.

  38. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Sorry Jason, I can’t let this one go. There is no way that 900,000 is closer to 1.5 million than it is to 400,000 (which is Krindatch’s actual number.) That’s not putting the thumb on the scale, that’s putting the whole elbow on the scale. It’s rank dishonesty. As I’ve said, the real numbers (based on an actual census btw of the GOA which it keeps hidden but which Krindatch exposed) is 400,000 at the outside. Looks like abject failure to me.

    Again, we Orthodox in America have failed. Some of us can admit it, others can’t.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      When the average GOA Priest starts making what the average OCA Priest makes, we’ll begin talking about failure.

      The numbers I put forward is what the OCA itself approved, both in 1976 and in 2000.

      While the numbers you put forward don’t correlate with what the GOA claims.

      That’s an important distinction.

      Jason Bently

  39. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    I just heard part1 of “unraveling Chambesy.” My number one take on this was how quickly Rev Arey backed away from Canon 28. He did it not once, but twice.

  40. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Jason, I know what the salary numbers for the GOA priesthood are. However, you would be wise to actually verify that these numbers reflect reality. Trust me, they don’t. The actual numbers are higher on average than they are for OCA priests, but not by much. The “official” salaries are only for the golden boys and those who don’t make waves. I’ve know more than a few GOA priests who make far less than the stated numbers. There are so many escape hatches for parish councils which allow them to opt out of the stated salary.

    Again, let us relect on reality: if the stated numbers are real, then why does the GOA have only one seminary? Also, why does the GOA have the greatest vacancy rates in the US? Why does the OCA operate three seminaries (with one on the way)? We’re talking supply and demand here. If all GOA priests were making the stated salaries (and I think all priests should), then the line of applicants to Holy Cross would be snaking around the block. Instead, HC has had to issue a new offer discounting tuition by 80% (again, I think ALL seminary education should be free).

  41. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Jason Bently says:

    Dear Sir,

    The reason the GOA has one seminary is because there are options in Greece which provide better educations and are essentially free.

    The reason why the OCA has three is because at one time it had a burgeoning membership and theological education is something it stressed. But as has been illustrated these things have imploded. Moreover, the OCA seminaries, including St. Vladimir’s, are much more affordable to Holy Cross, so more people go to them to be trained even from other jurisdictions.

    That all being said, it is hard not to remark on the difficulties both St. Herman’s and St. Tikhon’s (surprisingly) have had. Difficulties mainly because the corrupt administration of the OCA squandered requisite funds to keep these institutions going and financially sound.

    That is again another example of how not to be an “autocephalous” local church.

    Jason Bently

  42. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    I know that there ara options in Greece, and in the past, there were more than a few priests from Greece in the GOA. However today I know of no priest under 60 who came from a seminary in Greece. (There may be some, but the fact that I don’t know of any tells me that their numbers must be vanishingly small.) Let’s not forget, emigration from Greece peaked in 1967.

    Anyway, that argument doesn’t necesarily hold water: priests from Russia could easily come to America as well to serve in OCA parishes. Indeed, Metropolitan +Jonah asked for the MP to send him at least a dozen missionaries from Russia specifically for the purpose of evangelizing groups of Maya Indians in Mexico who have made outreach to the OCA to be received into Orthodoxy. He did this last April when he lectured at St Tikhon’s seminary in Russia. When asked how hard it was to learn Mayan, he replied “as easy for a Russian as it is for an American, that is equally difficult.” Although a rather glib statement, just asking it shows the seriousness of the OCA for indigenizing Orthodoxy.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      The fact that an OCA Metropolitan would leave it for Russian Priests to immigrate, learn Mayan, and missionize these peoples shows that he really has no interest in doing it himself. This is totally preposterous and a glaring example of why all this rhetoric surrounding Metropolitan Jonah as some sort of “wunderkind” is simply smoke and mirrors.

      Jason Bently

  43. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Ryan Close says:

    Why didn’t Chambesy simply declare that there is only one canonical Orthodox Church, and that is the Church who’s Holy Synod represented all Orthodox Christians and was attended by all the bishops and that as a consequence, there were no other jurisdictions?

    Under the Chambessy process, only the Episcopal Assemblies leading up to full normalcy are headed by the EP’s ethnarc. After canonical normalcy is restored, then the resulting local Church would elect it’s own Metropolitan. I say get it over with as soon as possible.

    I was reflecting last night about what the reunion would mean for me and my family. Say the diocese are redrawn and we fall in a diocese with a Greek bishop? What will become of us? Will we get pews and organs and drive away all the converts because they are not Greek enough? I am worried about what happens when you mix hot water with cold water.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Isa Almisry says:

      “Why didn’t Chambesy simply declare that there is only one canonical Orthodox Church, and that is the Church who’s Holy Synod represented all Orthodox Christians and was attended by all the bishops and that as a consequence, there were no other jurisdictions?”

      I’m afraid it is because, as Dean said it, it is desgined to be orderly inaction.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Michael Bauman says:

      Ryan, and that is the crux of the matter. Personally, I’m leery of the proposed merger of the OCA and AOCNA with even the possibility the Met. Philip would be primate. If I were OCA that would be a no go immediately.

      Any unity process in which put the control in the hands of bishops that are not trusted or approved of by a significant portion of the Orthodox faithful will be dead.

      Unity is not a panacea. As it stands now, unity is more likely to result in a secularized American “Orthodoxy” than a dynamic, evangelical, Apostolic Church.

      Of course, much the same thing is happening without unity.

      We tend to look upon God and the Church as our servant rather than the other way around. Thus you see the involment in cultural, social and political pursuits (left & right) taking precedence over prayer, fasting, almsgiving, worship and mutual submission to Jesus Christ in love.

      We are called to be in the world but not of it. That is a personal and intimate calling that can only be lived out in a worshipping community of like minded people. It, IMO, necessarily requires that they be relatively small. Especially when traditional Orthodox practice is so at odds with ‘normal’ life–to a far greater degree than most any time in history.

      I fail to see how massive plans and structures that ignore the actual parishes helps at all.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Jason Bently says:

        Dear Sir,

        As I have indicated, it would be preferrable for Metropolitan Philip to be primate over Metropolitan Jonah, but my first choice is Bishop Basil of Wichita.

        Jason Bently

  44. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    All: I just finished listening to “Unraveling Chambesy,” parts 1 and 2. I must issue an apology to Fr Mak Arey, I think that he is sincere in his desire for unity.

    Unfortunately, the fact remains that within the Chambesy process, minefields exist, minefields which will derail authentic unity or permamently suppress true autocephaly.

    here are some:

    1. Fr Arey skated over the question of the GOA’s complicity in derailing unity in the past.

    2. He stated that “the Ukrainians don’t have unity” even though “they’ve been Christian for one thousand years.” This is a red herring. Ukraine was always apart of the Russian nation. They have had autocephaly for as long as Russia has had autocephaly. That Ukraine is now a sovereign nation is a modern phenomenon and not the fault of the MP. On a side note, why doesn’t the EP grant his branch of the Ukranian church autocephaly?

    3. He doesn’t know when, if ever, there will be a “great and holy Council.”

    4. He stated that there could be “two holy synods.” One of all the bishops and a successor-SCOBA. Becareful of the latter: it will probably be made up only of GOA bishops and their successors and these will control the purse strings and th electoral processes for bishops. Unless the laity take their proper role in the election of bishops, then we’ll have more of the same.

    There are other things, but in these respects Fr Arey was being disingenuous.

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      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      On your point regarding the “Ukrainian” issue, I must concur.

      That being said, in the future, due to the sheer size of the Moscow Patriarchate and the burden of such a centralized administration, even allowing for the “Kievan Exarchate”, it will be necessary for the MP to further federalize its structure and coordinate a “federation of autonomous churches” to be as relevent and responsive to the needs of Orthodox believers of the MP.

      Jason Bently

  45. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Michael, the more I contemplate the whole scenario, the more I’m coming to your point of view. Unless the Holy Spirit intervenes, there is no way that the Episcopal Assembly will be anything but an “orderly inaction” type of council (in Isa’s words), that is another SCOBA, or a vehicle for secularizing American Orthodoxy.

    There is no way that the more worldly of the jurisdictions are going to accede to in increase in Orthodox rigor or piety. We’ve seen that happen time and again with our participation in the ecumenical movement. For all our decades there, there has never been a movement among the Protestants towards traditional Christian orthodoxy. In fact, quite the opposite.

    If I may use a rather unpleasant analogy, when you mix 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream with 2 scoops of coal, you don’t get a bowl of ice cream that tastes “somewhat like vanilla.” Even though its equal parts ice cream and equal parts coal, the more toxic substance dominates.

    If I may venture a little further afield, another highly intelligent correspondent talked about the “abject failure of the OCA” here in America. What about the demonstrable failure of American Christianity, which we Orthodox in the NCC/WCC have aided and abetted? I realize that’s a harsh assessment but what else would you call our witness in these bodies? Did we reverse the trend to liberalism and –let us be honest–outright apostasy and paganism? It doesn’t look like it. In fact, things have gotten worse.

    So why would we think that the presence of (say) ROCOR or the Serbian exarchate would reverse the protestantization of Orthodoxy here in America. Trust me, those jurisdictions that have organs and pews ain’t ever gonna give them up. We’re talking about more than organs and pews and other externals. We’re talking about the lack of confession, little or no fasting, no pro-life witness, acceptance of Freemasonry, tacit acceptance of homosexual unions, free and easy divorce, the whole nine yards.

    And then what? What will happen when the more rigorous jurisdictions wake up and realize that the monies have gone into the centralized pension fund, the deed to the real estate is now in the hands of some liberal metropolitan in Chicago, their flocks are going to more liberal parishes that will overlook their sexual sins, etc? Then it will be too late. Because, if those bishops leave, then they’ll be “schismatic” and thereby deemed “uncanonical.”

    The only way out of this (and I have this on pretty good authority) is that if things go down this pike, the PM will pull the plug on the North American episcopal assembly (at least) and order ROCOR, the MP parishes, and anybody else who wants to join with the OCA. This would still be viewed as schismatic but +Kirill would provide the necessary cover to make it happen. I could see in this scenario two expressions of Orthodoxy, one with perhaps 18 bishops under the GOA and the other 25 (Bulgarian, Serbian, MP, OCA, ROCOR, Ukrainian, Carpatho-Rusyn, one or two AOCNA, plus all the Ephraimite monasteries)joining under an OCA protected by the MP umbrella.

    Of course, rather than be completely a pessimist, I can see the opposite: if the forthcoming episcopal assembly issues a complete agenda, a timeline for unity AND autocephaly, and a free election for primate, then I’d say all bets are off. What worries me however is that this is a game of kick-the-can. nothing will be done because there is no deadline save for the nebulous one of “when the great and holy council” meets.

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      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      At this point the empasse and inactivity of such an assembly is exactly what is necessary to precisely arrange things against the “organs and pews” mindset.

      What is going to determine the actual N American local church is growth. Growth is going to hang the laurels on the jurisdiction that gets it done. That is why I stepped forward with the advocacy I did.

      A moderate goal for who should be the American local church is 10%+. 10%+ of the population of N America evangelized, missionized and Orthodox.

      A moderate goal for autocephaly is 20%+, 20%+ of the N American population Orthodox.

      That gives us a body that rivals the current U S RC church and an actual force on this continent.

      Now, the model(s) and time to get these things done is the threshold for ascendancy of the N American Orthodox jurisdiction and its autocephaly.

      Jason Bently

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        Ryan Close says:

        The Antiochians have been moderately successful in moving forward with this kind of evangelical goal. And I think it would be a great strategic goal to move forward with the Katholocos Solution as it would give us more dyptic votes. Only problem: I asked my wife about it last night, and she said, “Our church needs to be local in the sense that it does not directly reference any ethnicity as this promotes the idea that Orthodoxy is foreign and strange.” I agree. I don’t even call it Eastern anymore! Most people don’t. We are not “eastern” we are the Church. I also think evangelization is practically impossible in the presence of all this egotism and power plays and disunity. But we are doing our part in Missouri.

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Jason Bently says:

          Dear Sir,

          Antioch is one of the most ancient sees and can be seen more as “biblical” than as “ethnic”.

          It is good to have oversight in such a great undertaking until we are indeed ready.

          After all, in the Book of Acts, it is written, “And they were first called Christians in Antioch”.

          “Eastern Orthodox” is fine for now, but I have always preferred “Orthodox Catholic”; unfortunately, many people confuse that with “Uniate”.

          Jason Bently

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        Dean Calvert says:

        Dear Jason,

        I’ve been following this discussion, but have not had time to reply.

        To be honest, there’s not much you have stated that I agree with…but it would take more time than I have, or am willing to invest in this discussion, to rebutt all the errors.

        However, I thought your use of numbers was interesting – I’m a numbers guy myself.

        And I think if we are going to apply your “20%” threshold rule to autocephalous churches, it must be a universal rule…at least one would think.

        So, under your 20% rule – is the ecumenical patriarchate, as well as the patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria going to be “delisted” as autocephalous churches? Certainly none of them comes even close to your 20% threshhold (of their respective populations). I would guess this would also be bad news for the Czech Church (all 89 parishes), as well as Abp Anastasios of Albania. Since autonomous churches seem not to matter, the Finnish Church is safe I guess.

        Presumably that would be your solution.

        I might suggest an amendment to your prescription: Only churches representing 20% of the population (or more) may be considered eligible for ranking as a patriarchate..Oh…no, that wouldn’t work either would it.

        Just curious.

        Personally, I think you’re on to something.

        Best Regards,
        Dean Calvert

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          Jason Bently says:

          Dear Sir,

          Constantinople and Antioch do not emerge out of a vacuum. These historical churches which were once well over that 20% threshold.

          Whereas, the Czech autocephaly does indeed emerge from the same mindset as the OCA does and perhaps should be reexamined in the future.

          What I don’t get is how people have a problem with a vision for success but are somehow caught up in continuing a failure and denying that failure.

          That’s the most erroneous pattern of missiology there is.

          Jason Bently

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      Ryan Close says:

      This is a most cogent argument. Perhaps we should come up with a list of four or five predicted outcomes and posible strategies for dealing with each. The Great Council could end up being a disaster as well so we should come up with a counter agenda for a real council that would be convened to reverse the damage. The question remains, how to stand for the truth without becoming fundamentalists, between the fundamentalists and the liberals. The liberals will call us fundamentalists, that’s for sure. But we cannot let that stop us from confessing the truth.

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        Jason Bently says:

        Dear Sir,

        I’m not sure what is really “fundamentalist”. I know how some use it as an epithet, yes, but I never really saw their definitions as making sense.

        Simply because if you take their definitions and apply them to the rest of the Orthodox world, you find most of it is “fundamentalist” in their eyes.

        In my opinion, you take some benchmarks, you look at say certain dioceses of the Church of Russia and Greece and Romania, etc. and you say we want to model our indigenous Orthodoxy in its orthopraxia off of them, but we want it to have a local character.

        Jason Bently

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Jsson, re 43.2.1

    I think there is reasonable room for compromise in many of the solutions you bring forward. However one area in which I would most definatly disagree with you ’til the world gets level is that Philip should be metropolitan over Jonah. Under NO circumstances should this be allowed to happen in light of the events of the last year. A year ago, yes. But beginning in February and continuing through this very day, he has abrobaged ALL moral authority. Such actions are commensurate with third-world kleptocrats, not hierarchs who serve in nations where the rule of law obtains.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      My first choice is neither, but, rather, Bishop Basil of Wichita.

      Metropolitan Philip is not immortal and I have no problems with him having having a victory lap, however.

      Jason Bently

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Jason, I’ve been Antiochian for over 20 years and since day 1 I’ve been hearing that Met. Philip is not immortal so if you don’t like him, just wait. He himself is of the opinion that he will die when he wants to.

        In any case, he is not the only problem but the network of like minded clergy and layity that hold power and will continue to hold power in even after his repose.

        The OCA would be crazy to join with the AOCNA at this point.

        Bp Basil has defended his diocease against the worst excesses of Met. Philip but he has been Antiochian all of his life and for generations before that. Don’t expect him to be prominent.

        I keep coming back to what Met. Joseph of Bulgaria said about unity (to paraphrase): unity won’t happen until all of those involved in Ligoner are dead. That includes Bp Basil. It obviously does not include Met. Jonah.

        For Met. Philip to assume any leadership role would be a disaster. Because he would bring his legion of cronies with him. ANAXIOS!

        • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
          Jason Bently says:

          Dear Sir,

          Reading over the accusations against the administration in the Antiochian Archdiocese, I have to observe the following. They are reporting yearly financial statements and have agreed to an audit.

          Moreover, the diocese is growing, committed to evangelization and is in the black.

          While I by no means endorse everything Metropolitan Philip does, one does have to point out that he has indeed accomplished alot over the decades.

          I did say a victory lap for Metropolitan Philip, but not one for another incarnation of him, Archbishop Antoun.

          But then again, you have to ask yourself honestly could you trust your money with the OCA? Do you really think that anything the Antiochians have done is in the slightest comparable to the gross malfeassance, incompetence, and corruption of the OCA for over 30 years?

          Seriously now.

          Jason Bently

  47. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Ryan,

    one of the best methods for ensuring locality, is that every diocese should be incorporated as an LLC in the state in which it is located.
    Elected Trustees should be named on the articles of incorporation as well. And a mechanism for electing bishops from a select group which includes priests and laymen is necessary as well. Of course, confirmation of the bishop’s election should be the prerogative of the Holy Synod (and by this I mean ALL bishops). If there’s a variance, that is that a nominated bishop is not confirmed by the Holy Synod, then a second election should commence. If the same nominee wins the second election, he should be consecrated.

    Of course all nominees for bishops (as well as lay-electors) should be canonically in good standing.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Jason Bently says:

      I like the idea of regional and state assemblies, but you have to grow into something like that or else you end up having more chiefs than Indians and a structure with hierarchs without real dioceses.

      Jason Bently

  48. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    OK, since we’re on this subject. Can anyone tell me how many Orthodox bishops there are in:

    1. NYC
    2. Chicago
    3. Los Angeles
    4. San Francisco
    5. Detroit
    6. Pittsburgh
    7. Philadelphia

  49. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Isa Almisry says:

    I seem to recall 5 at the Triumph of Orthodoxy in Chicagoland this year, and not all of them were there.

  50. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Jason, I like Basil of Wichita as well. However, Jonah is a breath of fresh air and he is the only archbishop with the title “metropolitan of All-America and Canada.” The MP recognizes this and has directed the MP parishes and ROCOR to recognize him as such.

    Isa, according to my math, there are perhaps 57-60 bishops in North America. (It’s difficult to pin down where the five Serbian bishops are: where’s Alhambra, CA, or Campbelleville, ONT?) Anyway, let’s say 60. Acording to Nick Katich, there are 2,350+ parishes in North America, that’s Alaska to Panama. Let’s say 2,400 parishes and missions and monasteries all told. If my math is correct, that means that 2,400/60 = 40 parishes per bishop on average. That’s good. Perhaps there could be a floor of 12 parishes/missions/monasteries per bishop with a maximum of 50 per bishop. What do you think?

    PENN could easily have five dioceses
    OH, 4 dioceses.
    ILL, 3 dioceses

    Some dioceses will continue to be smaller but that’s ok if we keep to a floor of 12. Nothing wrong with small dioceses. they should be as compact as possible. Some dioceses are so gigantic that they have little cohesion and relstively visits per bishop. +Dmitri of Dallas was an exception to this rule but I wouldn’t wish that traveling schedule on any man.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      I thought we went over the OCA. Metropolitan Jonah was part of that discussion. I know the man. Trust me–he’s not what you think.

      As far as dioceses are concerned, again I think growing is more important right now than assigning chiefs.

      Jason Bently

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        Isa Almisry says:

        Those I trust say otherwise.

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          Antiochian friend says:

          “Jason Bently” was on the Orthodox yahoo forum and many there thought he was the poster, Rostislav Michael Zachary (active on the Indiana List circa 2000 – check the list archives) or, as he evolved himself, Rostislav Mikhailovich Malleev-Pokrovsky.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            That forum never offered me the opportunity to answer those accusations where when I was able on the Orthodox Tradition forum to answer them, they unravelled.

            Moreover, it was my understanding, that the chief slanderer in this, a Rdr. Constantine Wright, was recently talked to by his Bishop’s chancery for making such outlandish claims.

            But then again, if you have to keep repeating slanders without substantiation and engaging in ad hominem attacks against you people disagree with, you illustrate you really don’t have anything to contribute to any given discussion and simply like to engage in character assassination.

            These are hardly the traits of an Orthodox Christian.

            Jason Bently

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          Jason Bently says:

          Dear Sir,

          Then that all depends on what you think.

          Jason Bently

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        Fr Gregory says:

        Jason,

        I know Metropolitan Jonah as well. He is my friend, he was the confessor for my wife and I when we lived in California. We served together as priests. I as often as a I could, which was not as often as I wished, I would stay at St John Monastery when it was in Point Reyes. When he had to travel north he would stay at my home. So I think I have a good measure of his character.

        So let me ask you: What exactly do you mean when say that you know the man and “he’s not what you think”? Forgive me, but it hard escape the thought that your comments here represent a personal animus against the OCA in general and His Beatitude in particular.

        So, again, what is that you know about His Beatitude that the rest of us don’t know? If you have a charge to make against the man, by all means make it but don’t drop sly hints.

        In Christ,

        +FrG

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          Antiochian friend says:

          Dear Fr. G,

          It is simply. “Jason” has no charges against Metropolitan Jonah. He is the latest in a line of trolls who wish to cast a shadow on the new hierarch because they are afraid of him and what he has the capacity to do for North American Orthodoxy.

          He isn’t the first troll who has come to this site and he won’t be the last.
          All of you clergy, gentleman and ladies who come here in a sincere effort to discuss unity, keep the discussion going and ignore these folks who come to distract you.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            I find it comical that you insult my very identity without providing one of your own and then proceed to simply insult me forward.

            It’s quite ironic you use the word “troll” or is it perhaps a bit of transference.

            Jason Bently

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          Jason Bently says:

          Dear Father,

          For one, I have no animus against the OCA, but have put together a model in which it coupled with the Antiochian Archdiocese, becomes the nucleus of the N American local church.

          Moreover, I made no charges. I simply expressed my misgivings based upon my personal experiences with the man.

          Frankly, I am taken aback at the harsh tone of your correspondence.

          Moreover, I have stated my case against the OCA above and mentioned some misgivings about Metropolitan Jonah above, but I have also expressed no irritation with having him commemorated as well.

          I simply think it would be the wrong move at this point as I thought his election as OCA primate was the wrong move. (I was shocked to hear substantiation of allegations against Metropolitan Herman at the time and felt the OCA should go in a different direction, that was electing Archbishop Nathaniel of the Romanian Episcopate as primate.)

          Thank you very much concern, but in a cursory review of my participation in this discussion, you will answers to all your queries.

          Thank you very much, Father.

          Jason Bently

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            Fr Gregory says:

            Jason,

            You have offered nothing to substantiate your sly hints that Metropolitan JONAH is other than what he appears to be. When you are called to account by others for your implied criticism against Metropolitan JONAH you protest that you have been insulted and that you have been treated harshly. This isn’t an answer it is changing the subject by attempting to make those of us who doubt you the topic of conversation. No one’s rhetorical style is the issue before us. The issue is your unspecified charges against the Metropolitan.

            So let me ask again, what specific personal knowledge do you have that leads you to conclude that Metropolitan JONAH is the wrong choice to lead the OCA. Why, in other words, should I trust you when you say “he is not what you think”?

            Finally, and so there is no mistake, I’ve read you comments and found nothing of substance there to suggest we made a wrong choice in electing Metropolitan JONAH. Nor have I found any reason to trust your opinion of the man.

            In Christ,

            +FrG

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          Dean Calvert says:

          Fr. G,

          Sorry…having a little trouble figuring out how to respond…and to what.

          Re: October 3, 2009 at 11:39 am
          Jason,

          You have offered nothing to substantiate your sly hints that Metropolitan JONAH is other than what he appears to be. When you are called to account by others for your implied criticism against Metropolitan JONAH you protest that you have been insulted and that you have been treated harshly. This isn’t an answer it is changing the subject by attempting to make those of us who doubt you the topic of conversation. No one’s rhetorical style is the issue before us. The issue is your unspecified charges against the Metropolitan.

          So let me ask again, what specific personal knowledge do you have that leads you to conclude that Metropolitan JONAH is the wrong choice to lead the OCA. Why, in other words, should I trust you when you say “he is not what you think”?

          Finally, and so there is no mistake, I’ve read you comments and found nothing of substance there to suggest we made a wrong choice in electing Metropolitan JONAH. Nor have I found any reason to trust your opinion of the man.

          In Christ,

          +FrG

          Well said Father. These subtle “I know more but can’t tell” type of comments are nothing more than the worst type of slanderous character assassination. However, the accuser has no real courage. It’s very insidious, and simply intended to play on people’s worst fears. They are disgraceful.

          I’m glad to hear your comments about Metropolitan Jonah. We are all naturally a little more leery nowdays, given the experience of the past few years…but my sense is that we need to help this man!!!.

          Best Regards,
          Dean

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            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Father (Sir):

            I refer you all to my “back to the future” comments about Metropolitan Jonah above.

            Again, my apprehensions are expressed in earnest and without derailing this topic and making it into a “why I don’t like Metropolitan Jonah” farse. I’m not interested in going over the sundries witnessed (and offended by) of the past. All I have done is simply express my misgivings and that is enough coupled with the take I have given on the abject failure of the OCA.

            In the Orthodox Church, we are “not of Paul or of Peter or of John”, but of Christ Jesus, and I DEFINITELY have no time for some petty game of some sort of poseur “message discipline” for a new regime or a hackneyed attempt at a personality cult.

            That is the last thing this discussion (or N American Orthodoxy) needs and simply illustrates the point that if that is all is offered in defense of the OCA (or its primate), then there really is nothing to discuss regarding it.

            Such is not an expression of “positive leadership” but indicative of an enfants terribles.

            This definitely is not anything Orthodox.

            Jason Bently

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            Chrys says:

            Jason (or if you prefer, Dear Sir):

            my apprehensions are expressed in earnest and without derailing this topic and making it into a “why I don’t like Metropolitan Jonah” farse.

            If so then you expressed it really poorly. The comment that “he is not what you think” is loaded. The responses that have followed are directed solely at that.

            I DEFINITELY have no time for some petty game of some sort of poseur “message discipline” for a new regime or a hackneyed attempt at a personality cult.

            No one on this site has taken that position. Nor have any of the subsequent comments sought to do so; rather those comments have asked you to support what certainly appears to be a slanderous aside. The MOST that can be said is that the folks on this site have expressed their appreciation and support for someone who clearly “gets it.” You will also find plenty of concern raised about other leadership which, by their actions, efforts or words, don’t seem to “get it.” This may well increase the appreciation expressed herein for someone who does – but that hardly qualifies as a personality cult. More to the point, creating such a straw man is not a valid response to repeated requests that you support your initial claim – which is what started all of this.

            So – if your goal is truly to build up the Church in North America, you might want to focus on the specific issues, claims or positions of the leadership and avoid unsupported broad-brush judgments about their character. Of course, you may wish to take issue with how others are treating that leadership, but that is a very different thing than what you were addressing at the start of this. To be blunt, unsupported innuendo about another’s character is also definitely not Orthodox.

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            Fr Gregory says:

            Dean,

            I agree with your comments above.

            Yes people–and not just those in the OCA–are “naturally a little more leery nowdays.” This is understandable and even healthy. I think it is fair to say that we (and I do mean WE, all of us, not just a small group) have rather oversold the Church.

            What I mean by that is that I have been more willing to look at the beauty of the tradition than my own sinfulness. The Church is of divine origins to be sure and she is guided by the Holy Spirit. But none of this overrides the humanity of the Church. Peace, as the bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate said in their encyclical on the social concept of the Church, is God’s gift but it is our work. TO put the best face on it, I think we have allowed our gratitude to God for the gift of the Church to overwhelm our own responsibility to love in harmony with that gift.

            As I’ve argued on my own blog, we have come to value the absence of conflict more than real peace. This peace is a gift to be sure–but it is also the fruit of justice, of our living, concretely and on a day to day level, in right relationship with God and each other. Too often we allow ourselves to dismiss the necessity of justice in the Church because we entertain a false notion of justice as vengeance. But the prophets cry out again and again in the OT that God demands justice not sacrifice–God demands of His People now what He demanded of us then, to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (see Micah 6:8)

            Commenting on this passage, Tertullian reminds us that it is not enough to speak about mercy and compassion and forgiveness. Too often he says “such things are only said, not done, merely bandied about, unmanning rather than strengthening the disciple, flattering God and pandering” to our own sinfulness. The Venerable Bede, for his part, simply summarizes Micah by reminding us that: “[T]he full expression of the priesthood is comprised of the combination of the teaching of truth with good works.

            Thank God the Orthodox Church in this country has taught the Truth. But now it seems God would have us added good works to our good words.

            If I may be so bold, I think that Metropolitan Jonah’s election is part of what God is now calling us to do as His Body here in America.

            Thank you again Dean, and all of you, for your kind words to me and your thoughtful comments here.

            In Christ,

            +FrG

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            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Father (Sir):

            I was neither painting with a broad brush nor making an innuendo, I was simply emphasizing my misgivings about Metropolitan Jonah, whom I repeat I have no confidence in.

            “Best man”, “better ideas”, etc. Nonsense. None of this holds water. He advocates a course of “back to the future” of the policies of Metropolitan Theodosius and that’s what got you all into this mess into the first place.

            So, no, I will not worship at his altar, nor burn incense before it, not speak of a “legacy” when there clearly isn’t any accomplishment and little to no new vision.

            My endorsements remain what they were in this regard, and I make them for the better future and recovery of the OCA, not for its detriment.

            Jason Bently

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            Chrys says:

            Jason, I must agree with you. This is proving to be a waste of time. Your initial comments – which started this whole thing – were badly said. You may well have only meant that you have no confidence in the current leadership’s commitment to make the change’s you feel are necessary. Very well. Expressed in that manner, such comments would have produced none of the resulting responses, since they would have indicated a clear difference over policy or approach. You, however, expressed it as a judgment of the man. As I said, very poorly expressed.
            Of course, we’ve all written stupid things. Then we apologized. But rather than clarify or correct them, you have repeatedly attacked positions no one here holds. It is absurd – and dishonest – to claim that anyone here has asked you to literally or figuratively “worship at his altar, nor burn incense before it.” Setting up these straw men, however, does allow you to continue “righteously” condemn these positions rather than respond directly to the actual issue: what you actually said.

            I will admit that, as a member of the GOA (with no intention of leaving), I am in no position to judge the health or effectiveness of the OCA. It’s failings (unlike ours, perhaps) have been made very public. At any rate, it has obviously failed you. Yet if you had ever run a business – or any organization – you would recognize that it’s never over until it is actually over. Per Mark Twain, rumors about its death are greatly exaggerated. In the same way, you continue to prematurely judge Metropolitan Jonah’s leadership inadequate. With less than a year in office – and a lot of repairing to be done – this is an absurd judgment. No one with any experience running anything of any size would rush to such judgment. Only time will tell. What is worse, though, is that you appear to have written off any chance of resurrection – in which I am sure you believe.

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            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            Businesses do indeed go bankrupt, especially those who have squandered 80% of their assets with no real return.

            As far as what I have said, “poorly worded”, etc. is not the case here. I simply don’t want to go into things and am leaving it at that. What the problem is in this discussion is engaging a paradigm the other side is using as a distraction to keep attention off of other things in the hopes of an escalation they can spin.

            There is a very real undercurrent of projecting Metropolitan Jonah as some sort of “bringer of peace and justice” that is simply unreal and we do need to pay attention to.

            If I am being self-righteous in any way, I apologize and ask forgiveness.

            Jason Bently

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      Isa Almisry says:

      I envision:

      1 Catholicos (unless Canada and Mexico are set for immeidate or near immediate autocephaly and the US without Canada)
      3 Metropolitans (Canada, Mexico, US)
      22 Archbishops (Alaska, Western Canada, Quebec, Eastern Canada, New England, New York, New Jersey, Eastern PA, Western PA, Michigan, Ohio, Central Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, South, Southwest, Plains, Upper Midwest, North West, Northern CA, Southern CA, Northern Mexico, Southern Mexico). I’m looking at a map resembling the third one here:
      http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,22901.msg349287.html#msg349287

      The other 34 bishops should be distributed as suffragans according to a combination formula of a) geography b) ethnic make up of existing parishes in the Archbishoprics, c) population and ethnic make up non-Orthodox (mission!) among the Archbishops. As observed:
      “It should be noted that the Ohio Valley and Northeast combined have 25% of the US population, 7% of its land mass, but 44.4% of its Orthodox parishes.”
      http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14412.msg205010.html#msg205010

      The placement of the 14 (15 if Sinai joins in) metochia will also affect the placement of bishops. For instance, since I think the Serbian metochia should be placed in Libertyville, no bishop charged with as defender/vicar of the Serbian usage should be in the Archbishopic of Chicago (I’ve aganized over the Serbs, because Chicago being the see of the Defender of the Serbian usage would make sense, but that’s too many Serbian eggs in one basket. Does anyone know, what’s the no. 2 concentration of Serbs?). Same for the Romanians, as Romania’s Metochia will be in Chicago (where the exarchate is now), the Albanians (at St. Nicholas in Chicago), etc. The Metochia of Constantinople should be in New York (Annunciation), so no Archbishop or bishop Defender/vicar of the Greek usage in the New York Archdiocese.

      A wild card if each Mother Church has patriarchal parishes: that will have to be factored in/around.

      The ideal would be to have a bishop per state/province, and we shold aim for that. Some states, already however, have enough parishes that they should be broken up (e.g. PA) now. Then there are places like Kansas, which has just over 2 million and already a dozen Orthodox parishes and counting.

      So yes, I agree with your average number of parishes for each bishop.

  51. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    Well, I don’t know how many each have but La is low in orthodoxy compared to the others because the biggest immirgant groups are from Latin American countries or asian countries like China or South Korea or Vietnam. San Fran gets more Eastern Eurpoean immirgants to comparsion for its size. The others are back east where immirgation from Eurpoean Countries are higher. Ca only 6 percent from Europe versus 12 percent or higher back east.

  52. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Jason, I must reiterate wha Fr Gregory says. Such calumnies are unbeffiting a Chrisian gentleman, as is your animus towards the OCA. Either put up or shut up.

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      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Sir,

      I have made no calumnies and no accusations, unlike some who have used the term “kleptocrat” to insult Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochians or the other insults hurled at the EP,GOA and its voices.

      As a matter of fact, I’ve argued for a more tempered and mature approach.

      I’ve made my case against the OCA and have expressed my reservations about Metropolitan Jonah already in this discussion. Simply scroll above.

      THE OCA IS AN ABJECT FAILURE and this has been illustrated.

      I don’t have to keep reiterating this and talking in circles. I don’t say these things with animus but with remorse and with the hope that SOME learn from the mistakes of the past and MOVE ON to more successful models not only for what becomes of the OCA but for N American Orthodoxy in general.

      Jason Bently

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        Isa Almisry says:

        “THE OCA IS AN ABJECT FAILURE and this has been illustrated.”

        That you have (at least to your own satisfaction). What you have not illustrated is how the rest of the Autocephalous Churches won’t fall by similar criteria, including Constantinople.

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          Jason Bently says:

          Dear Sir,

          I do believe we’ve gone over how the historical parallels have no congruency in this discussion. See above.

          Now if you wish to talk about the GOA, it never made a claim of being the “autocephalous American church”, but, rather, organized its diaspora and built prosperous communities. Its greatest problems today are not having adequate ministries for intermarriages, assimilates and generational shifts, but it is well capable of coordinating these ministries and has the funds to do so. All is needed is sounding the alarm and making the resolution to stop the crisis.

          If you want to talk about the Antiochians, they are in a similar position to the GOA, save they are actually bringing in converts by evangelization. Although they lack the financial base the GOA does, they are well managed fiscally. They have the most promising missionary model on N American soil today.

          The rest of the groups at this point will eventually be assimilated into a larger structure, that includes the OCA.

          Jason Bently

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            George Michalopulos says:

            The charge of “kleptocrat” is indeed harsh, and may be unjustified. However, one of the hallmarks of those engaged in financial misdealings is a pronounced aversion to independent audits. It is a fact that Philip shouted down a motion for an independent audit last July. This is in keeping with the two previous kleptocrtatic administrations of the OCA.

            I also believe that Isa’s point about the OCA’s supposed “abject failure” compared to other autocephalous churches did not include the GOA (which is an eparchy, not a local or autocephalous church), but other autocephalous churches. One should avert his eyes to what is happening in Greece at present (and to my own sorrow as I was a big fan of the late archbishop of Athens, +Christodoulos). Let us compare apples to apples. And rather than seek to condemn the darkness, try instead to shine a light.

  53. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Jason Bently says:

    Dear Sir,

    The point I have fleshed out is that the OCA was NEVER really an autocephalous church in the proper sense, nor by its acceptance of and membership in SCOBA, recognized itself as being such. (Local church and SCOBA are mutually exclusive.

    So, yes, let us compare apples to apples. The OCA is like the GOA or AOA, and in no way like, say, the Church of Serbia. After all, it wants to merge with another “jurisdiction” and participates with other “jurisdictions” (not local churches) in SCOBA.

    It is utterly OCD to dwell on this failed “autocephaly”.

    Moreover, there have been financial statements issued by the Antiochians for years and Metropolitan Philip has indeed called for an audit. Thus, jumping the gun in the denunciations dept. here is unwarranted. In none of the financial statements the AOA has issued over the years, has it even been REMOTELY shown to be in the basket case situation the OCA has been. (As a matter a fact, it has progressively tried to look like the GOA in its SOLVENCY.)

    Thank you for your consideration, however.

    Jason Bently

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      Isa Almisry says:

      You are aware that the present day Church of Serbia is the merger of at least three autocephalous Churches, and the Churhc of Romania is the union of at least 4 jurisdictions/autocephalous Churches.

      Or perhaps you aren’t.

      You take on the Antiochian financial books is rather interesting, because us in the archdiocese don’t know what you are talking about.

      Does solvency in the GOA include legal liability/lawsuits?

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        Jason Bently says:

        Dear Sir,

        Condescension notwithstanding, you are aware that those mergers are more or less of homogenous peoples and that they comprise the majority of the populations of the territories in question and that they have a distinct Orthodox history, spirituality, ethos, orthopraxia, etc.?!
        THESE ARE REQUISITE CHARACTERISTICS FOR AN ORTHODOX LOCAL CHURCH.

        It boggles the mind how some wish to fly before they can walk.

        Moreover, talk about sordid innuendo! What does the GOA’s lawsuits have to do with this topic, the health of that jurisdiction or anything?!

        Jason Bently

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          Isa Almisry says:

          I believe someone has already spoken about certain jurisdictions’ laundry not being as aired at present as the OCA’s.

          Can you be more concrete and less vague about “distinct Orthodox history, spirituality, ethos, etc.”

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            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            Romanian Orthodoxy is different from Serbian Orthodoxy is different from Russian Orthodoxy is different from Antiochian Orthodoxy, etc., with different history in the church, different experience with their lives in piety and different and native traditions of sanctity.

            Jason Bently

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          Chrys says:

          Unless homogeneity and comprising a majority of the population are established somewhere in the canons, I can’t see why such criteria are important. They might work for conversion that occurs by imperial decree, but it would seem to undermine traditional evangelization efforts. It would essentially prohibit any establishment of an American Orthodox Church given the nature of how the Church developed in this country. It would have been a pretty big problem for the churches in the New Testament as well, which were neither.

          The other criteria are, as Isa noted, awfully vague. Depending on how these are defined, one could qualify or disqualify any number of countries that already have autocephalous Churches. If the bar were set fairly high, I can’t see how Constantinople would currently qualify – or how most autocephalous Churches behind the iron curtain would have qualified either – or most of the current Patriarchies would qualify. In terms of numbers – and certainly political power – the US would easily eclipse many of these (which seems at least roughly similar to how Constantinople got the nod.)

          That said, I would agree that there needs to be a distinct and vibrant spirituality. I just have no idea how you “measure” that. One might look at the number (or proportion) of monasteries, participation in the local churches, etc. I guess I’d be inclined to “measure” it by the presence of saints – but still, where would you draw that line?

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            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            Homogeneity implies nativeness to locality and a church of that locality and not of immigrants of other local churches. You can’t have a truly local church which does not represent the local people or assimilated Orthodox of other local churches.

            As far as history, spirituality, orthopraxia, piety, etc. are concerned these also are traits of MATURITY which show a church has cultivated an Orthodoxy of its own, with a local character, which shows that on soil x there is a NATIVE Orthodox presence.

            I would draw that line, because once the process of sanctity is started it needs to be fostered by local church x and sanctify the people of locality x and generation after generation. That is the local church’s primary obligation.

            Jason Bently

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          George Michalopulos says:

          Jason, your arguments re “homogeneity” being a hallmark of a local church is far from the mark. None of the ancient patriarchates were homogeneous. And the medieval patriarchate of Bulgaria was likewise heterogeneous. Please read Papadakis, Runciman, and Norwich for starters. It is clear that anybody who has studied Bulgaria will note that Bulgaria was a great multinational and multiconfessional empire in its heyday, as was Russia. In neither case was Christian confession viewed as the benchmark of citizenship within the empire (at least in their early stages). And I can assure you that the various Serbian factions that joined together to form an autocephalous church were riven by intense political divisions that were just as profound as ethnic divisions in their day.

          Indeed, Russia under the Romanovs was far more heterogeneous than the United States. Great Russians made up perhaps 55% of the population, whereas even with massive immigration to the United States, the population is still approximately 70% European. Of course you will probably object to my characterization as “Europeans” being a relatively homogeneous grouping of people. I can assure that all nativist groups in the United States certainly consider Europeans to be a homogeneous group.

          Be that as it may, the Great Russian contingent of Russia is as varied in ancestry as the English of Great Britain are. The only difference being that the Russians were able to integrate other tribes and nations into their nation without losing their Slavic and Orthodox sense of identity. The Anglo-Saxons have been able to absorb the Danes and the Normans, but only at the expense of their language and their original Orthodoxy. (Slavonic is far more similar to modern Russian than Old English is to modern English, just try reading Beowulf in the original.)

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            George Michalopulos says:

            P.S. I meant “70% of Americans are of European descent.”

            P.S.S. Your example of the Romanian church is likewise flawed. Romania is a cobbled-together country with significant Slav and Magyar populations. If we follow your argument to the logical conclusion, then the unification of the various Romanian principalities into one nation and more importantly, one Church, would indicate that the Magyars and other Christian minorities are necessarily to be left to the wayside.

            This indeed happened more or less in the Balkan churches of the post-Ottoman period. Is this what you envision as effective evangelism, as opposed to the “abject failure” of the OCA (which is overwhelmingly comprised of converts from Northern European [i.e. not Orthodox immigrant] groups)?

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            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            You anachronistically pose a model of “nation” vs. empire.

            What united peoples of Byzantium was a common ROMAN identity and culture which transcended “nationality”, likewise the RUSSIAN identity of the empire united Finns, Slavs, Asians, etc. It was centred in Orthodoxy, the enculturation of it of people x, and a common vision for the future.

            This indeed was homogeneity of a given nation.

            Think of it in terms of the American “melting pot” which embraces all nationalities and forges one whole.

            While again in America, the only thing you have is ethnic and assimilate Orthodoxy of local churches trying to figure out how to adapt to diaspora.

            THERE IS NO MATURITY for a N American local church at this time as there is no N American Orthodoxy.

            All this has been stated above.

            Jason Bently

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            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            What Romanian DNA is is beside the point. Today the people of the Romanian church are not a confederation of different racial types, but ONE Romanian people and have been so for centuries.

            Really.

            Jason Bently

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            Isa Almisry says:

            “What Romanian DNA is is beside the point. Today the people of the Romanian church are not a confederation of different racial types, but ONE Romanian people and have been so for centuries.”

            Ah, if it were only so.

            Besides the problem of the Romani population (most of whom are Orthodox but not Romanian) and the large Hungarian population (which are neither). Romanian wasn’t united until 1918, and isnt’ today: Romania and Moldavia have seperate governments, and Bucovina is under Ukrainian occupation. And Serbia still has a jurisdiction in Romania.

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      Dean Calvert says:

      Dear Jason,

      The point I have fleshed out is that the OCA was NEVER really an autocephalous church in the proper sense, nor by its acceptance of and membership in SCOBA, recognized itself as being such. (Local church and SCOBA are mutually exclusive.

      So, yes, let us compare apples to apples. The OCA is like the GOA or AOA, and in no way like, say, the Church of Serbia. After all, it wants to merge with another “jurisdiction” and participates with other “jurisdictions” (not local churches) in SCOBA.

      It is utterly OCD to dwell on this failed “autocephaly”.

      What is OCD is to continue to use the phrase “failed autocephaly.” Unless, of course, you want to use phrase toward the ecumenical patriarchate itself, which, of course, has lost far more of it’s adherents than either the OCA (90% by your number), the GOA (has lost 25% of it’s own members since 1970, the number would be far worse using your “members vs immigrants” measurement).

      Moreover, there have been financial statements issued by the Antiochians for years and Metropolitan Philip has indeed called for an audit. Thus, jumping the gun in the denunciations dept. here is unwarranted. In none of the financial statements the AOA has issued over the years, has it even been REMOTELY shown to be in the basket case situation the OCA has been. (As a matter a fact, it has progressively tried to look like the GOA in its SOLVENCY.)

      I don’t know what you’ve been smoking, but this is truly a preposterous statement. All financial statements have been unaudited. Perhaps you were not paying attention at the last convention, when people calling for an audit were shouted down, and the motion (for an audit) not even accepted. And the metropolitan continues to resist an audit to this day…no change has been announced.

      Finally, your criteria for an autocephalous church can only be described as delusional…they are simply not borne out by the historical record. For example, the First Bulgarian kingdom became autocephalous (960)
      only 60 years after being evangelized (864). Both the Cypriot Church and the Georgian Church were declared autocephalous approximately 150 years after their evangelism…hardly long enough to qualify for your “Maturity”.

      This supposed “Maturity” is commonly trotted out by opponents of OCA autocephaly to declare it invalid…as if there were some time honored prescription for achieving autocephaly.

      In fact, there is no such prescribed process. Autocephalies come and go, generally following the secular borders of the state. About the only thing that can be said is that autocephaly is generally declared by the Daughter Church in opposition to the Mother Church; a state of schism generally is declared (by the Mother Church); and the Mother Church generally recants this declaration, generally between 20 (Church of Greece) and 140 (Church of Russia) years later.

      All the other criteria you list are your opinions – nothing exists to back them up…NOTHING.

      You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but please resist calling any of them Orthodox praxis, tradition, or any other such names in an effort to cloak such opinions in legitimacy.

      Autocephaly is declared when the Daughter Church decides it is ready. That’s about it. By that standard, the OCA autocephaly was actually one of the more peaceful declarations (ie no state of schism resulted).

      You are now free to resume your anti-OCA diatribe.

      Best Regards,
      Dean

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Jason Bently says:

        Dear Sir,

        Again, see above. The EP is the victim of history AFTER being the major church of the empire. The State Church of Greece includes over 90% of the population of the country. Nothing here compares to an OCA which has les ethnic/assimilates today as it did in 1914 and only 20% of the parishoners it had in 1976 including ALL of its membership, a membership today which is 20% less than that of the current AOA.

        Moreover, for one to talk about an autocephaly, besides having SUCCESSFUL mission on the local territory, one would have control of that territory and not leave it to an organization which would be uncanonical on the territory of a REAL local church, an organization like SCOBA, which the OCA has no executive authority in and in which it only participates.

        Only the OCA’s Mother Church (and some satellites/friends) recognizes it while the EP does not, which means it does not function conciliarly like an autocephalous church, but, rather, an automous synod, which it is in effect, and a FAILED one.

        My outline for what constitutes a local church is the REALITY in the Orthodox world. The history of Orthodoxy, country by country validates the model.

        You don’t have an indigenous American Orthodoxy. You don’t have unity. Which you do have is the presence of ethnic/assimilate Orthodoxy of various local churches which still haven’t figured out how they are going to adapt the experiences of their local traditions to N America.

        NONE of this constitutes a maturity ready for REAL autocephaly and local church.

        All this has been gone over above. Please reread what has been stated instead of trying to talk things in circles in the hopes of another outcome the facts simply do not support.

        Jason Bently

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          Jason Bently says:

          Dear Sir,

          Another thing, no one said the AOA books had been audited, but that an audit was agreed to. What was said is that the financial statements showed solvency consistently and that the AOA in practice showed a healthy stewardship which supported succesful missiology on N American soil.

          That in and of itself is enough to endorse the current administration and allow the books to be audited at the set time to see if there might be indiscrepancies.

          Jason Bently

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          Isa Almisry says:

          There isn’t a single Church that validates your model, including Constantinople.

          When Constantinople received (or took) its autocephaly, there is a real question on whether the majority of its population was Christian, let alone Orthodox.

          So the OCA isn’t in the EP’s diptychs. SO WHAT? When Antioch wasn’t (because the Phanariot’s had been shown the door-and the boot), did nearly two thousand years of where “the disciples were first called Christians” diappear? And I submit that if the OCA was just an “abject failure” that we wouldn’t hear so much from the EP’s surrogates on Metropolitan Jonah.

          The Phanar has its own nationalist axe to grind: it is by no means a neutral arbiter, nor is the Phanariot cartel which tries to maintain Greek control even if it means destroying the Church and are the only ones who refuse to recognize the OCA. It may be noted that the predecessor of the OCA was the Mother Church of Albania and perhaps the Czech and Slovak lands (the Back to Orthodoxy movement there picked up after St. Alexis Toth) two Churches that the Phanar refused to recognize until forced to bow to reality.

          You seem to suffer from the same myopia that afflicts the Chief Secretary of the Phanar. The Church in Alaska, for instance, is quite indigenous, quite united and has hardly any “presence of ethnic/assimilate Orthodoxy of various local churches which still haven’t figured out how they are going to adapt the experiences of their local traditions to N America,” there being practically no other Orthodox (Eagle River Antiochian being a notable exception). And oh, btw, it is the largest Church in Alaska, although its obituary has been repeatedly written after 1867.

          One of my favorite stories of the attempt to kill it is what happened in the Lutheran sector (the US, after 1867, had martial law and divided Alaska up into 10 parts, each part going to a Protestant denomination, to deal with the natives): they hit on the idea of importing Sami (then called Lapps) men and their reindeer. The men would marry the Eskimos, make good Lutheran women out of them and raise Lutheran families which they would feed with the reindeers they raised. The native Alaskans, turned out to be Orthodox, who converted their husbands, so in that part of Alasak there are Orthodox Churches full of Aleut looking parishioners with Scandinavian last names (the reindeer ran off with a Caribou herd, and were never seen again).

          To top it off, Alaska has become a place of pilgrimage to those in her Mother Church, Russia. I’ve seen that St. Herman has become quite popular.

          No, Alaska isn’t all of the OCA, but it is an example in many ways of how to plant a Church and do missions, one that the Chief Secretary prefers to ignore.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            Almost EVERY local church fits the model I have put forward WHILE THE OCA doesn’t even recognize its own status as local church.

            It participates in SCOBA.

            All this has been answered above. Perhaps you don’t like the answer, but you’ve been given it. Talking this in circles is not going to provide you with a different outcome.

            The OCA has shown to be an abject failure. GET OVER IT!

            Strive for a MATURE Orthodoxy on this continent and one that does not need rebellion and lack of oversight “to do what it sees fit” (and lapse into failure or apostasy as a result) as a model to emulate.

            You mention Alaska and pilgrimage there of all things. Do you know what the OCA Alaskan diocese is called?! The Russian Orthodox diocese of Alaska. You have the audacity to say that that is indicative of an AMERICAN local church or American spirituality?!

            Really, enough of this.

            Jason Bently

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            Isa Almisry says:

            “Almost EVERY local church fits the model I have put forward WHILE THE OCA doesn’t even recognize its own status as local church.”

            So you have alleged, but not subsantiated. No, not a single local Church fits your “model,” with the single posible exception of Serbia, which you say was also “failed.” Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Cyprus were not a majority Orthodox society when they started, nor was Constantinople when it received its autocephaly. Russia, Greece, and Romania were a majority Orthodox (Greece and Romania being under kings who were in communion with the Vatican), but they took autocephaly over Constantintinople’s objections. Albania, Poland and Czech and Slovak Lands are still not majority Orthodox. Bulgaria obviously doesn’t fit your model at all. Georgia, the details elude us, but it is clear that Antioch gave her autocephaly because she could not give any supervision.

            “It participates in SCOBA.”

            yes, the solution the EP and others engaged in, say, Macedonia was so much better, slitting the throats (literally) of those of other jurisdictions at the turn of the last century. I prefer the OCA’s econonia.

            At the time of SCOBA’s fonding it would be the EP and Moscow who didn’t recognize their own claims. The Metropolia, according to everyone, even itself, was not autocephalous.

            “All this has been answered above. Perhaps you don’t like the answer, but you’ve been given it. Talking this in circles is not going to provide you with a different outcome.

            The OCA has shown to be an abject failure. GET OVER IT!”

            No matter how much you repeat your mantra, it does not make it so.

            “Strive for a MATURE Orthodoxy on this continent and one that does not need rebellion and lack of oversight “to do what it sees fit” (and lapse into failure or apostasy as a result) as a model to emulate.”

            Name a “MATURE Orthodoxy,” because I see a lot in the Mother Churches acting like children.

            The congregationalist Greeks that even the Chief Secretary condemned were organized by the deposed Archbishop Meletios founded what became your favorite GOARCH, left it in the hands of the defrocked Bp. Alexander when he was elevated in an uncanonical election. Is that the rebelliion and lack of oversight you speak of?

            “You mention Alaska and pilgrimage there of all things. Do you know what the OCA Alaskan diocese is called?! The Russian Orthodox diocese of Alaska.”

            The Diocese’s official web site:
            http://dioceseofalaska.org/
            Says “Orthodox Diocese of Alaska.” So much for your name calling.

            “You have the audacity to say that that is indicative of an AMERICAN local church or American spirituality?!”

            The ancestors of the vast majority of the Faithful in the diocese lived in Alaska centuries before the Russian came. But I guess they don’t count.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            Go to Alaska. If the name has been changed, it’s quite a recent thing. Most native Orthodox refer to themselves as RUSSIAN Orthodox. While the point you made was pilgrimage to the shrine of a RUSSIAN Orthodox Saint of a RUSSIAN Orthodox mission.

            Now the model I put forward calls for:
            1). A history as a successful missionary church on a given territory.
            2). The development of an Orthodoxy which is local and has a character which is homogenous with the local population.
            3). While at the same time having a congruent piety, orthopraxia spirituality with other local churches, yet being distinct.
            4). Having a tradition of spirituality which is distinct to that local church and embodies its local character and a living tradition of theosis.
            5). Natural evolution in obedience to and guidance by the mother church.
            6). Recognition by the EP for full conciliar character and actual autocephaly, not overglorified autonomy.
            7). Unity of all Orthodox bodies within its synod, not subordination to a para synod on its territory.

            Almost every autocphalous church has either expressed this in its character as local church or expresses it today. It is requisite for autocephaly and expresses mature Orthodoxy.

            I said the ORIGINAL Serbian autocephaly failed. Stop being disingenuous.

            Now as stated above:
            1). The OCA has lost 80% of its membership since autocephaly, has ethnic/assimilate memberships today lower than it did in 1914, when it did not even have autonomy, and has a membership 20% less than the current AOA.
            2). It has been riddled with financial and other scandals during the era of its “autocephaly” which have inhibited its mission, compromised its institutions and threatened to close many of them.
            3). It has not in any way shape of form cultivated a native Orthodox character and does not in any way exhibit even the beginnings of a native Orthodox spirituality.
            4). It acquiesces to a para-synod on its canonical territory of diasporan churches which UNCANONICALLY usurps its prerogatives as a local church.
            5). It is not recognizes by the EP, will never be, and has no conciliar authority in the Church as such.

            And we could go on and on. The case is made for the ABJECT FAILURE of this body and closed. WHEN IS FAILURE NOT FAILURE?! You are lambasting the AOA for not opening its books to your satisfaction. Enough. If this were a business, it would already be in receivership (It should be).

            Again, autocephaly is NOT a given. It takes time and maturity in the Church. You just don’t declare it and you DEFINITELY do not predicate it on rebellion and some RENOVATIONIST drive to “do as you please” without oversight. That, as the OCA has shown, ends up as failure and taken to its logical conclusion eventual schism and apostasy.

            I put forward a model for an eventual autocephaly, which takes time, but gets it done and creates a native Orthodox church, which you find no need for. You just declare ethnic/assimilate Orthodox jurisdictions “local” even though they aren’t even sure which translation to use and rebel against your bishops and lead things as you please. That is not Orthodoxy, but a quite personal cafeteria religion, leading right out of the Church.

            Jason Bently

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            Isa Almisry says:

            “Go to Alaska.”

            I am, having just gone on pilgrimage to Fort Ross last year, planning just that. Lord willing.

            “If the name has been changed, it’s quite a recent thing. Most native Orthodox refer to themselves as RUSSIAN Orthodox. While the point you made was pilgrimage to the shrine of a RUSSIAN Orthodox Saint of a RUSSIAN Orthodox mission.”

            Canonized by the Orthodox Church in AMERICA.

            “Now the model I put forward calls for:
            1). A history as a successful missionary church on a given territory.”

            Constantinople had no such history when it received autocephaly. It was mostly know for being a hotbed of heresy at the time, which outsiders had to come in and clean up.

            (I use Constantinople as an example).

            The OCA had, by the time of autocephaly, built up the Church in Alaska (the majority of the conversion happened after the Russian sale. The Tlingit, for instance, had not converted pratically at all until after the sale), gave birth to the Albanian Church (Boston, not Tirana, is the Mother Church), led/promoted the back to Orthodoxy movement which culminated in the Church of the Czech lands and Slovakia, prevented the communist takeover of the Orthodox Church of Japan which came under the OCA until autocephaly, shepherded the Romanian “diaspora” into the Romanian Orthodox Episcopacy, (shortly after autocephaly) received Mexican National Catholic Church into Orthodoxy, had ordained the first Orthodox bishops in the New World and a NON-titular hiearachy, etc.

            “2). The development of an Orthodoxy which is local and has a character which is homogenous with the local population.”

            At the time of Constantinople’s autocephaly, it had driven St. Gregory (an outsider from Cappodocia) from its throne for Maxim the Cynic (an outsider from Alexandria) whom the Second Ecumenical Council deposed and replaced with St. Nectarios (and outsider from Cilicia under Antioch), who was succeeded by St. John Chrysostom (another outsider from Antioch), whom Constantinople exiled and killed, who was succeeded by the brother of St. Nectarios (and hence an outsider but a Constantinopolitan by nepotism)…it would be quite some time before Constantinople produced its own primate.

            At the time of autocephaly, the primate was Met. Ireney, whom Met. Leonty (who had gone as a missionary to America and put in charge of the seminary here by St. Tikhon and at the time of Ireney’s consecration, had been in America nearly half a century) had consecrated as primate of the Japanese Church, and who had succeeded Met. Leonty (who had started as a bishop in Chicago, succeeded there by the Metropolitan of All Latvia). He was succeeded by Theodosios, but that the OCA was able to do what Constantinople couldn’t for decades if not centuries isn’t negated by his tenure (remember: in a comparable time period Constantinople was exiling and killing her primates).

            “3). While at the same time having a congruent piety, orthopraxia spirituality with other local churches, yet being distinct.”

            Constantinople had none of the above at the time of its autocephaly.

            The OCA, amongst other things, implemented St. Tikhon vision of a more conciliar than monarchal episcopacy. It is still the other Church (possible exception Albania) pursuing that.

            Your point is too vague to go further.

            “4). Having a tradition of spirituality which is distinct to that local church and embodies its local character and a living tradition of theosis.”

            Constantinople, again, had none of that.

            I would submit that the voluntary nature of the Alaskan mission has carried throught to the reception of the uniates to the establishment of the OCA, which has already produced saints in this character.

            Again, your point is too vague to go further.

            “5). Natural evolution in obedience to and guidance by the mother church.”

            Constantinople definitely had none of this. She was quite disobedient to her Mother Church of Rome: she got autocephaly to be freed of her immediate bishop at Heraclea.

            The OCA went to the PoM, as the EP said. Autocephaly was the result.

            As your point is so flatly contradicted by the histories of the local Churches, I won’t belabor it.

            “6). Recognition by the EP for full conciliar character and actual autocephaly, not overglorified autonomy.”

            Rome didn’t recognize Constantinople for nearly a millenium. Did that make the EP just an overglorified minister of religion?

            Again, as this is so flatly contradicted by the history of most Churches (even the EP’s site admits this, Serbia being only a partial exception), I won’t belabor it. We don’t believe in Vatican I or II. Or Phanar I or II.

            “7). Unity of all Orthodox bodies within its synod, not subordination to a para synod on its territory.”

            Constantinople, when made autocephalous, didn’t have any territory, just its freedom from the see of Heraclea. It wouldn’t get any set down for 70 years (so the OCA still has some time).

            Uncanonical actions of other Churches do not affect the canonical actions of an autocephalous Church. If it did, Constantinople shouldn’t be autocephalous.

            “Almost every autocphalous church has either expressed this in its character as local church or expresses it today. It is requisite for autocephaly and expresses mature Orthodoxy.”

            Every time a hear the vague appeal to “mature Orthodoxy,” it signals not only an attempt to latch onto the apron strings for dear life, but trying to reattatch the umbilical cord. A mother nursing her infant is a heartwarming scene. Past a certain age, it becomes unseemy.

            “I said the ORIGINAL Serbian autocephaly failed. Stop being disingenuous.”

            And you were wrong about that too.

            This is long enough, and I’ll have to answer the rest of your “points” later.

      • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
        Jason Bently says:

        Dear Sir,

        Moreover, the most preposterous thing I hear from advocates of “autocephaly” like yourself is that it “exists” or needs to exist when there is no such thing as an American Orthodoxy and an American Orthodox identity.

        How preposterous.

        Jason Bently

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          Dean Calvert says:

          Dear Jason,

          Again, see above. The EP is the victim of history AFTER being the major church of the empire.

          I see, so using your logic, if I set up a tent in Old Rome, I am entitled to declare autocephalous status instantly, although I have no parishioners, simply because I “used to be something.” Presumably the same rationale would allow people in Ephesus and Carthage (Orthodox population – zero) to do the same?

          Only the OCA’s Mother Church (and some satellites/friends) recognizes it while the EP does not, which means it does not function conciliarly like an autocephalous church, but, rather, an automous synod, which it is in effect, and a FAILED one.

          By my count, the vast majority of the Orthodox on this planet recognize the OCA, minus a few hundred people in Istanbul and Jerusalem. The better question might be, “so who cares?” As I said, I’m amazed they answer the telephone when the Phanar calls, either in Moscow OR in Syosset.

          Another thing, no one said the AOA books had been audited, but that an audit was agreed to. What was said is that the financial statements showed solvency consistently and that the AOA in practice showed a healthy stewardship which supported succesful missiology on N American soil

          Point of fact, the AOCA has NOT agreed to an audit, to the continuing consternation of many of it’s members. I don’t know where you are getting your information. And common sense would dictate not declaring the state health of its stewardship prior to that audit.

          My outline for what constitutes a local church is the REALITY in the Orthodox world. The history of Orthodoxy, country by country validates the model.

          Your interminable rantings aside, the problem is really this: You would “like” there to be some process for autocephaly. You might be able to describe what that process SHOULD be; some might even agree with you.

          But the bottom line is that autocephaly has NEVER been achieved in that way. A national church simply declares itself autocephalous. PERIOD. That’s what happened in the Balkans; that’s what happened in Russia. That’s what happened in the Czech Church – all 89 parishes.

          Don’t like it? Go argue with history – because that’s what the history is. Sometimes it’s 60 years after the formation of the Church (Bulgaria is one example), sometimes it’s 450 years after being evangelized (Russia). You are free to disagree with the process; you are free to suggest an alternative process; but those are simply YOUR opinions. There is no canon law supporting your claims – and history specifically argues to the contrary. Finally, but most importantly, there is no threshhold of any sort that a church must meet before declaring itself independent.That may not suit your agenda, or your likings…but it’s the fact.

          Borders change, and that generally causes changes in ecclesial boundaries. Many times this causes the formation of a new national church. The Mother Churches generally object, but eventually get over it. It’s not a lot more complicated than that…your comments, or those of your Phanariot friends notwithstanding.

          Finally, to call a church, or more precisely their autocephaly, failed? To be honest, I don’t think I’d want to be the one doing that. God will judge the success or failure of the OCA, and it’s autocephaly.

          Placing yourself in that position is something we are specifically warned against.

          Have a great evening.

          Best Regards,
          Dean

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            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            All your observations have been addressed above and answered. So I’m not going to argue in circles any further with you. Simply read what is written above

            When is failure not failure?! The OCA is an abject. 80% of parishoner LOST since “autocephaly”?! Bankruptcy, corruption, other sordid perfidy. Insititutions and parishes imploding. One could go on, but, frankly, it hurts. Once you all finally admit the failure YOU are responsible for, reevaluate your FAILED missiology and actually appreciate the necessity of an AMERICAN LOCAL CHURCH featuing an AMERICAN ORTHODOXY and the time such a process takes to transpire to create a local church and FINALLY accede to a missiology which is consonant with the Church’s catholicity, and not something contrived or ridden with fads, which expresses a local orthopraxis congruent with the rest of the Church, which fosters and promotes a local Orthodox sanctity and piety, then we’ll talk.

            Right now, the only thing on the table is politics, disobedience, rebellion and an immaturity so unripe it has collapsed in on itself.

            Enough.

            I’ve put together of a missiology which works and puts together a local church which eventually matures to autocephaly.

            Read what I have written above.

            Jason Bently

            The AOA MOST CERTAINLY has agreed to an audit. Avail yourself of that information on their website, and, really, stop maligning those people who have been successful at spreading Orthodoxy in N America.

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            George Michalopulos says:

            Jason, among your many misstatements of fact, I cannot let one go: and that is that the AOCNA is “financially solvent” “like the GOA.” This is supposition on anybody’s part.

            fact: the call for an independent audit was shouted down last July.

            fact: a seeming miracle has occurred at St George’s church in Troy, Mi, where a dead treasurer has been issuing checks over the past two years.

            Sarcasm aside, unless and until an independent audit is conducted, then nobody can safely gainsay what the real financial picture of the AOCNA is. Period. In the interests of the Church as a whole, I would suggest that Englewood come clean an authorize such an audit. Unlike the Lord, the IRS is not long-suffering.

          • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
            Jason Bently says:

            Dear Sir,

            AGAIN, the AOA has stated that an audit will be taking place.

            What is this infatuation with trying to tear down success and prop up the failure of something like the OCA?!

            Jason Bently

  54. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr Gregory says:

    Jason,

    I have read and re-read your comments. Near as I can tell you object that His Beatitude has not dealt with the former members of the Central Church administration as you think he ought to have. Fine. That you interpret this as some how being “business as usually” in the OCA is just that, your interpretation and not a fact.

    With Chrys, I will give you the benefit of the doubt, that when you say things about His Beatitude such as “he’s not what you think” that you merely have expressed yourself poorly. But, for the sake on my conscience if for no other reason, withdraw the statement. If we have misunderstood you, if I have misunderstood, please forgive–but clarify tell us directly that you simply disagree with decisions that have been made and that you are not drawing inferences about the man’s character.

    Dean Calvert is correct: We need to support Metropolitan JONAH and all our bishops. In the past we have not–sometimes we haven’t for understandable and even praiseworthy reasons. But we have also not supported them for reasons that are petty and frankly sinful.

    If His Beatitude is in error, I will tell him so myself. But so far all I am aware of is that he has made decisions with which some have disagreed.

    In Christ,

    +FrG

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      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Father,

      My only reaction to this is to stop beating a dead horse. I’m not going to say any more regarding Metropolitan Jonah, for I don’t believe it to be a worthy use of time.

      The OCA is an abject failure and that has been illustrated.

      The rest of my contribution I refer all to the above statements to see where I advocate AOA-OCA merger and under what auspices.

      Jason Bently

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        Jason Bently says:

        Dear Father (OCA loyalists),

        My position is that a wrong turn began to be taken when Fr. Florovsky was forced out, that it was solidified after Metropolitan Leonty’s death and exacerbated into unrecoverable ruin with the enthronement of Metropolitan Theodosius and his subsequent rule. I hoped for better under Metropolitan Herman but was utterly disappointed. My OCA died with Archbishop Kiprian of South Canaan.

        Since I grew up in the OCA, I speak from personal experience.

        This is my backdrop for stepping back and looking at the past. I don’t hate the OCA, I’m so sorry for what happened to it.

        Jason Bently

  55. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    As for Greeks, many there are not just upset with their religious leaders but also the political ones. I came across a nationlistic group on the right in Greece which is upset with immirgation to Greece. Greece is not a large country and many Albanians have immirganted to Greece illegality. This not only makes it hard culturally since the Albanians are more likely to be Moslems but also the Albanians will work for less money making it harder for Greeks to be employed.

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      Jason Bently says:

      Dear Lady,

      I can never understand why in the Balkans, instead of getting angry and losing control, the Orthodox peoples simply do not try to convert or at least acculturate such Islamic peoples as the Albanians.

      Jason Bently

  56. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Theodoros says:

    Comment to Jason Bently 55.1

    Archbishop Anastasios of Albania has in fact presided over the baptism
    and conversions of thousands of former Muslims and atheists in Albania.

    Theodoros

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      Isa Almisry says:

      The Monks of Decani

      “There is another part of the Church in Kosovo, however, which has already started preparing for the spread of the gospel to the rest of the region. These people are less concerned that Kosovo should become Serbian than that Kosovo as a whole should become Christian.

      It seemed to me that the monks of Decani, some of whom have learned to speak Albanian, form something of a vanguard in this forward-looking movement. Although they insisted on the legitimacy of Serbia’s political claims in the region and showed not the slightest enthusiasm for Kosovo independence, the Decani monks manifested a greater interest in the salvation of souls—including Albanian souls.

      Indeed, even during the war, the monastery of Decani was a beacon of hope and renewal. When hostile Albanians launched a mortar attack against the monastery, and bombs from American planes (evidently misdirected on purpose!) fell on the monastery’s apple orchard, the monks of Decani went on with their traditional routine: chanting the Psalms and hymnody in church, painting icons, studying the Bible, tilling fields, gathering honey, making cheese and butter, and so on.

      And especially these monks loved their neighbors, regardless of race or religion. When the army sent from Yugoslavia was killing and pillaging all through the region, the monks of Decani received the fleeing Muslims and other Albanians into their cloister to protect them. These monks—never more than thirty in number, I think—fed the hungry and housed the homeless. When cursed, they blessed. Slapped on one cheek, they turned the other. That is to say, they did what Christians are supposed to do in the hour of the gospel’s testing. They placed the gospel first. If the spirit of the Decani monastery prevails in the Orthodox Church in Kosovo, I believe nothing is to be feared about the region’s future.”
      http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=22-07-021-f

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      Jason Bently says:

      Glory to God!

      Jason Bently

  57. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    That was a very good artcle entitled Kosovo Lost And Found. It fact, Orthodox should care about other christians and non-christians. I came across Sergio, on the internet who was a ex-Moslem who didn’t like the Orthodox in his country of Algeria because they had drinking problems and didn’t like Moslems, so he became a protestant evangelical since they showed an interest in him. Orthodox behavior among the non-orthodox is important.

  58. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    Sorry, the message got duplicated, a problem on my computer.

  59. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Alexander says:

    I weep.

  60. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. David says:

    To George M:

    Your remark about Romania being a “cobbled-together country with significant Slav and Magyar populations” would not be received kindly by anyone born in Romania. At first glance, it sounds very much like the denial of the authenticity of the Romanian ethnicity, which is a line often pursued by Romania’s enemies. I’m sure you did not mean it that way.

    While it is true that the people living within the modern nation-state of Romania include non-assimilated ethnicities such as Hungarians/Magyars and Romi/Gypsies, and that Romania as a state came into being only during the 19th century, Romanians are a proud and ancient people whose Latin roots are well attested by, among other things, their language: Latin structure, and Latin vocabulary, with only 35% of the word stock being of Slavic (and certainly later) derivation.

    It is also true that there are people of Romanian ethnicity living outside the border of the modern state of Romania, including large groups south of the Danube which still maintain a Romanian dialect, and may be called Aromanians, Macedo-Romanians, Vlachs, etc.

    In general, all Romanians have been Orthodox as long as there is a historical record, with the notable exception of the Union with Rome (Byzantine Catholicism), which was forced on the Romanians in Transylvania under the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

    Hungarians have never been Orthodox and are not today. They chose Catholicism in the 11th century, if I recall correctly, but were significantly affected by the Reformation. Thus the two predominant Hungarian churches: Reformed and Catholic. Hungarians in Romania are not Orthodox, except in the case of mixed marriage, and an isolated conversion here and there.

    There are no unassimilated Slavs in Romania, to my knowledge. The Roma/Gypsies are a “Pan-European” people of Indian origin. In Romania I believe there are 5 major tribes or families of Gypsies, some of which identify with the Hungarians, and some with the Romanians. They have their own language, as well as speaking Hungarian or Romanian, as the case may be. They may hold to a form of Orthodoxy, but normally are more influenced by folk traditions.

    The Orthodox Church in Romania is largely a nationalist church, which holds on fondly to the vision of “Byzantium after Byzantium”. It is for Romanians. If a Hungarian in Romania converts to Orthodoxy, he or she is forsaking his or her Hungarian identity, at least to a certain extent, and embracing a Romanian one.

    In fact, I understand that the Old World still believes that one’s religion is determined by one’s ethnicity, that religion is not an individual matter, but a heritage that ties together families, neighborhoods, regions, nations–all that is inferred by the idea of “us”, as opposed to “them”.

    By the way, for a person born in a place like Romania, where Orthodoxy and ethnicity are organically intertwined, it would be hard to view Orthodoxy in America as anything other than Diaspora. Certainly not indigenous in the Old World sense. Thus the Old World Churches see America as a mission field, not an indigenous Orthodox land. But of course their mission here is only to their own.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Fr, I did not mean any disrespect to the Romanian people. My statement that Romania was “cobbled together” was just a statement of fact, in much the same way that the Russian polity was cobbled together from several different grand duchies and principalities. (The focal point of unity for almost 500 years was the metropolitan of Kiev.) In addition, there are numerous Vlakhs in Greece who claim Romanian origins.

      My criticism of “Jason Bentley” is primarily that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. His seeming insistence that the OCA or its all-American successor cannot be Orthodox because America is not a homogeneous nation is too ludicrous for words.

      As you can tell by my name, you can see that I am of Greek descent (full blood if that matters). Clearly, because I use my name and refuse to hide behind internet monikers would be prima facie evidence that I am proud of my heritage. This caveat aside, I think we can all agree that the last half-millennium of Orthodoxy (with the possible exception of Russia), has been one of decrepitude and nationalism above and beyond the “one needful thing,” which our Lord lamented to a certain church in Asia Minor in the Book of Revelation.

      This is understandable. The Orthodox Church in its various nationalistic manifestations has allowed the Serb, Bulgar, Romanian, and Greek people (among others) to maintain their sense of nationhood. That is not a bad thing, and in fact, quite a good thing all things being equal. Clearly though in America, Orthodoxy must cultivated with a special emphasis on our nationality and not a particular racial component (whether Anglo-Celtic, Hispanic, Amerindian, or African-American).

      Again, I meant no offense to the Romanian people.

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        Isa Almisry says:

        On behalf of my two sons (their mother is from Bucharest), I didn’t take George M.’s comments that way.

        You are right in that Romanians from Romania do have trouble seeing this country as anything but Diaspora. That is the reason why the Romanian merger isn’t going to happen. On the exarch’s side, the Romanian Episcopate is the same as the Orthodox Church of Moldova: Romanians under the Russians (so expressed) instead of Bucharest.

        But it is no impossible for a different vision: as one put it, Dormition Monastery is the “bleeding edge of Orthodox Unity in America.” In fact, that is the insistence that the monastery be in this country that led to its founding.

        The Romanians are well aware of differences among themselves in Romania. They are not as homogenous as some would put it (neither, for that matter are the Greeks), but that doesn’t override their sense of national solidarity. Or the unity of their Church. Neither does diversity stand in the way of an American Church.

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        Fr. David says:

        George,

        I am quite satisfied that you meant no offense. The nation-state of Romania was indeed a rather late political union of political-cultural regions that had people of Romanian origin as their majority. It is just the fact that neighboring peoples, especially the Hungarians, deny that the Romanians are anything but a mongrel ethnicity (there thus being no justification for a Romanian state). We even heard that point of view not too long ago from a mayor of Moscow. To Romanians that is not just an insult, but also a threat to their security.

        Cultural divides have plagued the Church since Acts 6, and while the Church is indeed universal and must find a way to live out its universality, missiology teaches us that a variety of modalities may be more effective in spreading the Gospel than simply insisting that every parish/community must be all things to all people. That is why I find the current Chambesy IV proposal encouraging.

        I find inspiration in the situation I glean from the life of St. Paisius Velichkovsky, at a time prior to Orthodox nationalism, when there was a high level of cultural sophistication, and a fascinating intermingling of nationalities and languages. St. Paisius came from what I understand to be the Ukraine, was at home with the Slavonic, Greek, and “Moldovlachian” (Romanian) Orthodox cultures, and did some of his greatest work in Moldova, significantly influenced by a little known Romanian Saint, Basil of Poiana Marului, who taught him the ways of hesychasm.

        Myself, I am a mongrel, a Western puppy eating from the crumbs that fell under the table of the Church which flowered in the East. I too want an indigenous Orthodoxy in America. But I think there are still some significant milestones to pass before we have a rooted, stable, mature, and organic American Orthodoxy. Perhaps in the providence of God, America, by its nature as a multi-cultural society, will be the place where Orthodoxy can be reborn to a new vitality, authenticity, and missionary character. It seems to me that all aspects of the current agitation about Orthodoxy in America are good signs that something is happening. Major changes rarely come peacefully, do they?

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          Dean Calvert says:

          Hi Fr. David,

          Your comments reminded me of these, from Runciman’s book The Great Church in Captivity:

          “George Scholarius (Gennadius) had, perhaps unconsciously, foreseen the danger when he answered a question about his nationality by saying that he would not call himself a Hellene though he was a Hellene by race, nor a Byzantine though he had been born at Byzantium, but, rather, a Christian, that is, an Orthodox. For, if the Orthodox Church was to retain its spiritual force, it must remain oecumenical. It must not become purely a Greek Church.

          One of the most disorienting things one is faced with in reading the original Byzantine histories is exactly what you point out – i.e. the complete lack of concern for ethnic identification. It is so completely opposed to the national outlook that we have today…that one is truly disoriented by it.

          I remember reading an 800 page tome, “The Annals of Niketas Choniates”, translated by Harry Magoulias. In that book (but in most others as well) the word “Greek” is almost never used, and Orthodoxy is never associated with any nationality.

          Now if you think about this – it’s truly stunning. Not only did the Byzantines not refer to others as “Russian” Orthodox, or “Greek” Orthodox…they did not refer to THEMSELVES as anything but “Orthodox”…not Romans, not Greeks, certainly not Byzantines. They were simply members of the Orthodox Oecumene…a phrase I always thought was beautiful.

          I came to the conclusion that our modern point of view has been so influenced by the modern day “hyphenated” American practice, i.e. “Italian-Americans” “Greek-American” German-American”, that it is really difficult for modern Americans (with all their talk about diversity!) to even imagine a situation with ethnicity does not matter.

          This is one of the (many) reasons why I refer to the “Church of the first 15 centuries” as something to be emulated. It’s not a romantic notion, or ultra conservatism etc.

          This increased emphasis on nationalism, while understandable, is nothing more than what I’ve called “the bath-tub ring” of the Ottomans. Something that was completely foreign to the Church for 15 centuries, and was foisted upon us by Muslims, who, we must remember, had the expressed intent of destroying the Church.

          In any case, it’s always amazed me that in many ways, the Church of the first 15 centuries was more advanced than we are.

          Just a thought, provoked by your comments.

          Best Regards,
          Dean

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            Chrys says:

            The rise of nationalism is a global phenomenon that well pre-dates (and was a significant factor in) World War I, and supplanted the tribalism that preceded it. While it expresses our need for social order (you have to have boundaries somewhere), we invariably take it up – as we do pretty much everything – in a fallen manner – turning it into an occasion for enmity. Ethnic differences can enrich or divide – but humanity has a lousy record when it comes to making factions of every conceivable kind. As has been referred to many times on these pages, St. Paul dealt with these issues from almost the beginning of the Church. All of which makes it all the more imperative that we focus on the “one thing needful.” The first order of business is the conversion of the heart to that “one thing.” The second is the prudent but relentless application of asceticism to apply and extend that conversion to every nook and cranny of our existence until we are living the the faith with deep integrity, consistency and love – until we are saints. My bet is this is how unity will happen “on top”: when it bubbles up – with power – from the bottom.

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            Chrys says:

            Quick clarification: my point in referring to WWI – which was well after the Ottoman empire and occurred, in fact, at its very end – was only an awkward expression of the global nature of the phenomenon. I should have chosen a much more timely (by a few or more centuries) example. One could see similar forces at work in Europe and China around the same era – the inevitable development in the scale and integration of social organization. (Its delayed development in Europe was, as I understand it, the consequence of the utter social disintegration that followed the collapse of Rome.)
            Again, my apologies for a lousy illustration, which takes a bit away from my key point – namely, the divisive nature of sinful existence and the ONLY solution to it: life in Christ.

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            Fr. David says:

            And yet, brothers, we should be careful about treating Orthodox nationalism as though it were nothing but some kind of disease. Some of the most significant Orthodox theologians of the 20th Century (Dumitru Staniloae, Justin Popovich, and St. Nikolai Velirimovich) all wrote very convincingly about their Orthodox nations having a special character, a unique contribution to the whole, and a divine vocation to fulfill.

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            Chrys says:

            Fr. David, you are exactly right. Just as each individual has unique gifts and a unique calling, so to each era, nation, culture, locale, etc. At the risk of horrible oversimplification, one can see it in the Russian asceticism, Greek community, etc. The Romanian theologians and witness generated in the midst of one of the most deliberate persecutions in history has been a profound blessing. (The very different writings of Fr. Roman Braga, Elder Cleopa and Fr. Dumitru Staniloae have each blessed and challenged me.) I look forward to the unique contribution(s) that American Orthodoxy will make. My suspicion is that it will have “practical” character, perhaps fostering organizational accountability and efficiency. (While some may struggle to stifle laughter at such a comment, it is precisely our American demand for organizational integrity is what has exposed – and what may ultimately correct – the practices that I suspect are more commonplace throughout history than we would like to think.) The issue is one of priority and focus. So long as our focus and priority is the kingdom of God, then we will eventually discover the character of God’s unique gift that is American Orthodoxy.

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            Fr. David says:

            OK, I hope this gets posted in the right place, as a reply to Chrys.

            I keep intending to stop posting, as I get tired of my own pontificating, but I did intend to say, Chrys, much more in the posting about the unique contributions of various Orthodox peoples.

            In fact, you took the words out of my mouth, so to speak. Romanian theologians like to say that the American gift is pragmatism, and by that they mean the ability to get things done.

            Perhaps also, as I said somewhere above, the multi-cultural character of our society can be a matrix for Orthodoxy to rediscover its universality and missionary spirit.

            Romanians have a deep respect for all the other Orthodox peoples, and also admire the zeal of American convert Orthodoxy. But they have settled into the idea that every people has its own religion, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be; thus there is no impulse toward what they call “external mission”.

            But, you see, here I go on and on, riding my hobby horse, and pretending I know what I’m talking about.

            Lord have mercy!

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        Fr. David says:

        By the way, George, my full birth name is David Wayne Hudson. I’m of Appalachian Scots-Irish descent and my mother, unfortunately, had John Wayne in mind when she gave me my middle name in the 1950s. In the 1990s I was converted to Orthodoxy in Romania, where I was also ordained to the priesthood. I now serve a parish of the Romanian Episcopate of the OCA, located in northwest Indiana. In the interest of transparency and accountability. You’re right; if we’re going to pontificate, we should show our faces. That would probably improve the integrity of the Orthodox blogging enterprise. And I don’t mean that as a potshot at anyone in particular.

        :-)

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Jason Bently, the AOI blog is not the place for personal crusades. You have made your point. Everyone understands it. No more please.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Isa,

    you are of course right. The Balkans are a place of intense intermingling of different nations. One of the reasons I have come to reject the pettit nationalisms of modern ethnic Orthodoxy is that I can look around the GOA and see the diverse descent of Greek-Americans who claim 100% Greek ancestry. In my case, my mother’s maiden name has has clear Slavonic roots even though that part of the family was from Asia Minor. My paternal great-great-grandfather was from Sicily and his name is most definately Italian. My wife’s paternal ancestry is from Peloponnesus but her maiden name is Hispanic. (Actually it was traced to Medieval France but it got hispanized early on.)

    Fr David, all: Anyway my point is that growing up it appeared that the GOA’s mission was to foster a cult of homogeneia. I imagine that’s what was going on in the Serb/Bulgar/Romanian/Etc. jurisdictions as well. All to the detriment of the Gospel.

    That’s why sometimes I get dismissive of this type of ethno-Orthdoxy and simply call it “Bulbanian” or “Slobovian” Orthodoxy.

    p.s. I’m very gratified to hear that the proposed merger of the two Romanian exarchates is dead in the water. When I first heard it I thought it was more of the same.

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      Fr. David says:

      Hmm. Perhaps it is “dead in the water”, but I’m not sure it was necessarily “more of the same”. For some, it certainly was. For others, I think, it was meaningful on a different level: (1) healing an ugly, sinful rift; and (2) not carrying that baggage into the new administrative paradigm for Orthodoxy in America, which will surely continue to respect and make room for what some of you called in previous posts “the Romanian usage”. Since, even in Metropolitan Jonah’s vision, the future of Orthodox unity in America will probably be organized as something other than the OCA, I imagine that many Romanians may have considered a Patriarchate-based unity a viable step towards the new Chambesy IV paradigm. Even the Romanian Episcopate of the OCA has utterly no intention of being assimilated into some kind of Pan-American-melting-pot-Orthodoxy. Myself, I’m sorry to see the Romanians again fail to reconcile their differences. While I don’t believe the Old World Patriarchates should be carrying on a mission directly on foreign soil, that IS the predominant paradigm at the present. I suppose we’ll all get to unity at the same time, traveling our various roads. As Chrys points out, and as in fact Metropolitan Jonah warns us, without inner unity, administrative unity may be a nightmare.

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    cynthia curran says:

    I agree that the ethnic nature of many orthodox churches causes many Americans, in particular Protestants to not persuade the orthodox church. Also, hearing about the orthodox church in Russia making it difficult for protestants to practice their religion will turn off a lot of potential protesants. Granted, the american churches don’t have control over this but some in the hierarchy in the US could point this out more to their breathen overseas.

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    cynthia curran says:

    protestants who are interested in converting. I forget to put this in my last sentance.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Fr David, bless,

    what worries me about this “in time we’ll all have unity schtick” that’s being peddled by many (mostly pollyannas and sycophants for the EP), is that I can just as easily see further division and eventual schism. I don’t mean to tell tales out of school, but I was told by a friend who I trust very much that a well-respected bishop once said in a private convesation with him and a few others two negative things about the present and future of American Orthodoxy. First, he said that he always feared, nay dreaded, “the Question.” What is The “Question”? The one that is invariably asked by honest inquirers is “Wow! I love Orthodoxy! I feel like I’ve found the pearl of great price! Now…which jurisdiction should I join?” Variations of this question include: “what’s the difference between Greek Orthodoxy and Russian Orthodoxy?” and “What’s this about the Serbs? Why are they divided?” “How come there are two Bulgarian jurisdictions in America?” “If your Church is the Church and it is guided by the Holy Spirit then why all this division? Is the Holy Spirit the author of division?”

    (I know exactly what this bishop meant! I’ve been asked this question a hundred times if I’ve been asked it once. Speaking for myself, this hurts my soul, as I can’t give a good answer. Maybe you can help me?)

    Anyway, this bishop spoke barely above a whisper and he said the second thing, that as to the future, “It’s very possible that in fifteen years we’ll be so divided that we won’t even share the Chalice.” My friend told me that you could have heard a pin drop. I still see that happening, especially if the forthcoming Episcopal Assembly proves to be nothing more than a smokescreen to frustrate true unity, something that I think we can all agree that SCOBA turned out to be. (Actually, that’s unfair, SCOBA didn’t have the moxie to be obstructionist.) Since there is no real deadline, I can easily see that if nothing concrete happens and there is no honest compromise between all the jurisdictions, then many bishops will leave, some in a dramatic fashion. Others will just stop coming, period.

    In addition, it the current ecclesial laxity of the more worldly jurisdictions is not addressed, then I can easily see the more traditionalist bishops forming their own counter-synod. I’ve been told by people I respet that should this come about (i.e. lack of good faith, fecklessness, and no real attempt to enforce canonical norms) then Moscow will provide theological cover for any bishop who wants to leave from such an assembly. I know that Moscow forced the EP to come up with the protocol in the first place but we all know that individual jurisdictions can frustrate the entire process if they want to.

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      Isa Almisry says:

      It has been my working theory that Moscow, looking at the facts on the ground and seeing the likely outcomes, signed on Chambesy to give the EP enough rope to hang himself.

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        George Michalopulos says:

        Isa, that’s interesting that you would say that. I’ve picked this thread up from personal conversations. Can’t really put my finger on it but it just seems to be “in the air” if you know what I mean.

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    Fr. David says:

    Yes, George, you are right. And this also affirms my theory that we will all reach unity at the same time, if we are speaking about a more or less total American Orthodox unity. Among the many obstructions is that many (or perhaps most) who speak out for unity would not accept unity except on their own terms. Unfortunately the State has traditionally played a major role in enforcing unity in the Church, and since that will never happen here, we have a very good chance of seeing Orthodoxy finally sink to the American level of just another group of related denominations, of Eastern extraction. Any partial unity (such as the present OCA paradigm) just reinforces that impression: Orthodoxy offers brand choices, just like all the rest of the faiths on the marketplace (I wish it were only ethnic culture that divided us). And thus all faith remains relative and individual.

    It seems to me that the Old World Orthodox Churches, while having external (administrative, if you will) unity, contain at the same time, not just diversity but downright disunity (internal).

    I guess if we were truly Orthodox we would already have unity.

    When I was struggling through the process of conversion, my biggest question was whether or not there WERE any true Orthodox Christians (to the extent I was able to understand and discern what that meant). Thankfully, I did find enough pious Orthodox Christians in Romania to convince me that there really was such a thing as Orthodoxy, and nothing else compared to it.

    To say that the Orthodox Church has been a disappointment would be an understatement. But in the mercies of God, we still can find salvation here. It’s a narrow path we must walk.

    Lord, have mercy.

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      Chrys says:

      There is so much about your comments that resonates with both my experience and views. I am particularly convinced (as numerous comments on this blog would indicate) about the importance of personal sanctity. No matter how compelling our arguments nor how effective our programs, nothing reaches and changes the heart like the witness of living saints. It is the ongoing transformation of the fallen person and the “incarnation” of God’s Spirit that makes a hash of all of our pet theories and personal excuses – and that evokes in our own hearts a deep desire for His kingdom. One can not read about Elder Paisios, for instance, nor meet those many “hidden” saints among us, without quickly discovering how low and self-serving our notion of life is. In these saints we realize that the transfigured life to which we are all called is indeed SO much more than we had thought or imagined.

      As you say, the Church, en masse, has been a heartbreaking disappointment, yet the continuing flowering of God’s saints in her gardens convinces me – as you said – that there is nothing else compared to it.

      Thank you for your post.

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    Isa Almisry says:

    I just came across this again. It’s rather rich. It’s from Met. Stephanos the Cypriot Greek from Congo that HAH Bartholomew put in charge of Estonia. To appreciate it, you have to know that HAH demanded that Pat. Alexei recall his “supposed canonical bishop” HB Met. Cornelius, a call HAH repeated when he came to Estonia to canonize a saint Pat. Alexei and HB Met. Cornelius had already glorifed. He offered the sop of Russian bishop for the Russian speakers in Estonia. The call is rich because both Pat. Alexei and Cornelius were Estonian speaking and bred, being born, baptized, ordained and consecrated in Estonia (Cornelius also having been sentenced to 10 years by the Soviets for possession of religious literature and speaking to people about religion), a fact the EP tries to constue to his advantage (“You, personally, were born in Estonia under the omophorion of the Church of Constantinople and as her child You were baptized and spent your childhood there”)
    http://www.orthodoxa.org/GB/estonia/documentsEOC/intime.htm
    http://www.orthodoxa.org/GB/estonia/documentsEOC/reponseAlexis.htm
    “This website includes the documents and the witnesses about the Orthodox Church of Estonia for the purpose of recording the whole topic to the memory of History. Still nowadays, there are people living in Russia and in Estonia who have closely or remotely been the actors or victims of a tragic destiny. We keep all the thoughts of quarrel and vain suspicions far from us. If we make place to certain memories, it is only because we hope to create such new conditions that the past would never be repeated and the future would bring about a reconciliation with all the Orthodox population in this country. It seems to me that it is high time for us to force ourselves just there where we are to stop all “colonialist-like attitudes that have nothing to do with the ecclesiology and canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church“”
    Who HB Met. Stephanos is quoting is “Archbishop Nathanael of Roumanian archdiocese of Orthodox Church in America

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Isa, see why I keep repeating this phrase: “…stunnning bad faith…”?

Care to comment?

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