April 18, 2014

Barbarians Among Us?

Broken Church

Essays like Fr. Gregory Jensen's below, give me hope. It reveals the new thinking needed in American Orthodoxy, the kind that is thoughtful and responsibly self-critical. An excerpt is included below. You can read the full article on either the new and improved! Orthodoxy Today, or the AOI main page. (Click the pic for a full view of the image too.) +++++++++++++++ The Rejection of Tradition On a post on my blog Koinoia ("An Editorial: Orthodoxy & the Public Square"), I wrote that whether or not I like Frank Schaeffer's politics or his moral theology, or whether or not his support of abortion and gay rights are compatible with the tradition of the Church, the reality is that he is well within the mainstream of current Orthodox opinion in America. According to the PEW survey, the majority of Orthodox laity agree that abortion and gay marriage should be legal.  It may surprise you, then, that the problem isn't Schaeffer – it’s us; specifically, it’s the … [Read more...]

Politics, Polemics and Reconcilation

Often I find myself being criticized for taking up political themes in my writing or speaking. Typically (in an America context at least) I am chastised for aligning myself with the political or Religious Right. While there is some truth to this, I think as the Catholic journalist and commentator John Allen points out in a recent essay ("Spain takes a page from the US pro-life playbook" ), critics conveniently ignore "the fact that the church's political alignment in a given culture often depends on factors beyond its control. In both Europe and the States, one such variable is how open the political left is to pro-life sentiment. To put the point bluntly, if pro-lifers (including Catholics) can't find a home on the left, many of them are obviously going to end up on the right." Allen's observation about the Catholic Church's response to political currents I can certainly claim as my own. Additionally, I think his view of the centerist inclination of the Catholic Church here is … [Read more...]

Freedom and the Church’s American Exile

Both on the AOI blog and my own my post, “Pentecost, Lincoln and the American Experiment,” brought some very interesting and thought provoking comments. Your thoughts have helped me think a bit more deeply about the relationship between the Tradition of the Orthodox Church and the American Experiment. For this I thank you all. And even more importantly, your words were very much in mind as I read Michael Baxter recent review of American Babylon: Notes of A Christian in Exile, by the late Fr Richard John Neuhaus. As is no doubt clear from what I wrote, I do not see Orthodoxy and the American Experiment as necessarily in opposition to each other. Or maybe it might be more accurate to say, that the differences between Orthodoxy and America are certainly no wider or deeper than what one would expect between that between God and Caesar, between the City of God which is to come and the City of Man which is here and now. Be that as it may, however, my interest in political … [Read more...]

St. Vladimir’s Summer Conference: The Council and the Tomos

St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary has announced the topic for its summer institute and a very interesting lineup of speakers. The full announcement is available on the OCA site here. HT: orrologion CRESTWOOD, NY [SVS/May 13, 2009] -- Recent exchanges of views about Orthodoxy in America, the role of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the forthcoming pan-Orthodox sessions that will deliberate on the "diaspora," emphasize how vital it is to reflect upon events that shaped the current landscape. As a foundational part of its mission, Saint Vladimir's Seminary is a venue where controversial topics can be discussed openly and freely. The seminary will host a summer conference titled, "The Council and the Tomos: Twentieth-century Landmarks towards a Twenty-first-century Church," June 18-20, 2009. Conference speakers will focus on two watersheds that have shaped the Orthodox Church in America (OCA): the All-Russian Council (Sobor) of 1917-1918, and the Tomos of … [Read more...]

Met. Gerasimos blasts Met. Jonah for “persecuting” the Church of Constantinople

Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco (GOA)

In what can only be described as a radical restructuring of an increasingly public discussion, Met. Gerasimos (GOA, San Francisco) blasts Met. Jonah (OCA) for his recent criticism of the address by Fr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis at Holy Cross Seminary last month. In the address, Fr. Elpidophoros laid out the rationale for submission of all American Orthodox Christians to Constantinople in what can be generously described as exclusively ethnic terms. Met. Gerasimos addresses none of Met. Jonah's criticisms or Fr. Elpidophoros' rationale. Instead, Met. Gerasimos frames the discussion in terms of the "persecution" of the Constantinopolitan Church, which, he contends, "...has shown us that the Ecumenical Patriarchate must now concern itself not only with attacks by those outside the Church, but also from within the Church, as well." No mention is made of the historical and canonical claims made by Fr. Elpidophoros. Neither does Met. Gerasimos address the worldwide resistance to … [Read more...]

Fr. Alexander Schmemann on Primacy in the Orthodox Church

Many of the current jurisdictional controversies within the Orthodox Church involving the Ecumenical Patriarch, relations between Constantinople and Moscow, the status of the "autocephalies" -- even the future of the American Orthodox Church -- hinge on the question of primacy. While Orthodox Christians have rejected the Roman model of primacy as "supreme power" over the Bishop and local Church, the question of primacy within the Orthodox Church is a complete muddle. In "The Idea of Primacy in Orthodox Ecclesiology," an essay written in 1960 and now available on the AOI main site, Fr. Alexander Schmemann examines various aspects of the primacy question, an issue he describes as "on the agenda for our time." As he reminds us, the ecclesiological interpretation of primacy -- regional, autocephalous, and "universal" -- is "virtually absent" from from Orthodox theology. "We badly need a clarification of the nature and functions of all these primacies and, first of all, of the very concept … [Read more...]

Achieving Orthodox Unity

pentecost

Fr. Gleb McFatter, who pastors St. Demetrius Orthodox Church in Naples, Florida offered the following homily at the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers. Highlight: Orthodox unity will only be achieved when the laity, parish priests and monastics lovingly unify themselves and exhibit that unity to the hierarchs. One thing those of us in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) have learned from our recent "times of trouble" is that only when the discontent among the laity, parish priests and monastics rose to a fever pitch — only then were the hierachs moved to action. Imagine what could be accomplished if that same level of energy was focused on achieving unity among those at the parish and monastic level! … [Read more...]

Ecumenical Patriarchate: American ‘Diaspora’ must submit to Mother Church

Arch. Elpidophoros Lamprianidis

The battle is joined. Highlight: With regards to the United States, the submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only fitting with the American society and mentality but also it opens up the horizons of possibilities for this much-promising region, which is capable of becoming an example of Pan-Orthodox unity and witness. The Mother Church of Constantinople safeguards for the Orthodox Church in America those provisions that are needed for further progress and maturity in Christ. Full text follows: Challenges of Orthodoxy in America And the Role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate By Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod (Chapel of the Holy Cross, March 16, 2009) Reverend Protopresbyter Nicholas Triantafyllou, President, Reverend Protopresbyter Thomas Fitzgerald, Dean of the School of Theology, Reverend and Esteemed Members of the Faculty and … [Read more...]

Met. Philip offers background on new Archpastoral Directive

Metropolitan Philip, the head of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America, issued a statement today explaining some of the background to the Archpastoral Directive of March 3. The letter follows: Beloved Hierarchs and Clergy, Members of the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese, Parish Councils and Faithful of this God-Protected Archdiocese: Greetings and blessings during this Holy Lenten Season! There have been some questions raised regarding the February 24th decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which addressed the status of bishops across the entire See of Antioch. The purpose of this letter is to try to answer these questions so that confusion may be avoided. The first question deals with whether or not I am supportive of the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which was taken on February 24, 2009. I am supportive of this decision, for a simple reason. I am convinced that the institutional structure of our Archdiocese here requires it at this time. One of the … [Read more...]

Recalibrating the Conversation

One of the great things about a blog is that it's a conversation, not a monologue. The Observer is a moderated blog, but we keep it fairly open to encourage this conversation and the learning that goes on here. Those of us associated with AOI are grateful for your readership and the constant feedback. I have noticed, however, that in recent weeks some of the comments on this blog have veered off course. Nothing disastrous, but it's time to recalibrate. Now and then, a course correction is in order. What we set out to do on The Observer is discuss how the social witness of Orthodoxy can be an effective force in transforming the culture. The focus here is decidedly domestic (American) but we also bring in currents from other Orthodox cultures where they may be instructive. A couple requests, in particular. First, I'd like to avoid further ruminations on the anti-Christ and other apocalyptic figures. Let us, with the Church, leave these theological excursions to others equipped … [Read more...]

Met. Philip on Canon 28 and Orthodoxy Unity

Posted on the main page is direction to an address delivered by Met. Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese dealing with Constantinople's interpretation of Canon 28. From the introduction: "Of all the canons dealing with Church authority and jurisdiction, there is probably none more controversial and debated in inter-Orthodox circles today than Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council," writes Metropolitan Phillip Saliba, leader of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese and long-time champion of Orthodoxy unity in America. In "Canon 28 of the 4th Ecumenical Council - Relevant Or Irrelevant Today?," Met. Philip argues that Constantinople's interpretation of the canon is historically untenable, interferes with good order, hobbles efforts at jurisdictional unity and, most important, retards Orthodox missionary work in the United States. … [Read more...]

Orthodox Church of America at March for Life

March for Life, 2008

SYOSSET, NY (OCA Communications) - On Thursday, January 22, 2009, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah will join Orthodox Christian clergy and faithful from across America for the 36th annual March for Life in Washington, DC. On the evening of Wednesday, January 21, 2008, Metropolitan Jonah will celebrate Vespers at St. Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC, at 7:00 PM. The following day, he will take part in the March and will be one of the first religious leaders to give a message at the rally on Capitol Hill. That evening, Metropolitan Jonah will give the invocation at the March for Life's annual Rose Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Washington. … [Read more...]