Fr. Peter Guilquist interviews Met. Philip Saliba

Met. Philip

Met. Philip

In this historic interview on Ancient Faith Radio, Metropolitan Philip talks candidly about such things as Orthodox unity, music, our witness to the world, his most memorable accomplishments as well as his biggest disappointments. This two part interview was conducted by Fr. Peter Gillquist, Chairman of the Department of Missions and Evangelism in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

Source: Ancient Faith Radio.

Listen now:

Part 1  widget here (36:33)

In part one, Fr. Peter asks His Eminence about health, family, his most significant accomplishments and his biggest disappointments.

Part 2  widget here (30:33)

In part 2, we hear the thoughts of Metropolitan Philip on the recent OCA crisis, his meeting with Metropolitan Jonah, Orthodox Administrative unity, evangelizing in today’s culture, SCOBA and much more.

Editor’s note. I met Met. Philip for the first time this Sunday. He is a man of prayer.


  1. Metropolitan Philip has the vision for what this Church can and should become in America. If more bishops had his missionary zeal, Orthodoxy would be a much more potent, and transformative, force in American culture.

  2. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Yes, he does. He lays out in measured and sober terms the need for unity and also the challenges it presents. Very good interview.

  3. I have read with great sadness the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch stating that all bishops outside of the Metropolitan are now auxilary bishops. Years ago, Antiochians in America celebrated self-rule as a gift. We celebrated it at conventions and in the media. It was shouted from the rooftops. We talked about local dioceses and good canonical order. We also talked about local church governance and electing our own bishops.

    Now the idea of local dioceses has vanished. No more diocese of Wichita and Mid-America etc. Also, the idea of Antiochians in America electing their own bishops and Metropolitan has vanished. The old country will impose its will on us. Every success of the Archdiocese in the past decades is now put at risk. Is an Antiochian version of Archbishop Spyridon in our future?

    All of this talk about conciliarity, unity, self rule is a mirage. Are we really the self-ruled Antiochian Archdiocese? Its like Alice going through the looking glass… Up is down and down is up…. say self rule and it really means foreign rule.

    I hate to say it but Metropolitan Philip talks a good talk but the silence of Englewood on this earth shaking move raises serious questions about Antioch’s commitment to American Orthodoxy.

    I hope Metropolitan Philip who has accomplished so much for the good of Orthodoxy in America will take time as a spiritual father to speak publicly to his children as to what this decision means and how it impacts our life in America. He should at least offer to answer questions on what looks to be a step back for American Ortodox Unity.

  4. Richard Barrett :

    This is how I see it (and some of this I restate differently here):

    1) Antioch is financially dependent on the United States for its survival. Patriarch Ignatius made it clear in a recent visit to the States that as far as he’s concerned, he is in charge and whatever fantasies we have about an autocephalous church in the United States, it’s not going to happen under his watch. He said this in a really, really, really nice and warm and fuzzy way, but that’s the substance of what he said (see this interview, pp. 5-8).

    2) The Antiochian Archdiocese is financially dependent on the ethnic Arab parishes for survival. We converts don’t want to hear that, but that is the reality. The big donors are not named “Smith” and “Jones”; they are named “Farha” and “Habib”, as is evident from the list of donors in any issue of The Word.

    3) Met. PHILIP will be retiring/reposing within a single digit number of years one way or the other. Under the terms of self-rule, as I understand it, his successor would have been selected, by Antioch, from one of three candidates the AOCNA diocesan bishops put forward. However, since we no longer have diocesan bishops who can nominate or vote, they won’t have any say about who succeeds Met. PHILIP. From the Patriarchate’s point of view, and from the point of view of a particular cross-section of parishes, they probably don’t want somebody to succeed Met. PHILP whom bishops like MARK or BASIL would select. Frankly, it has the potential to be somebody like BASIL, who, among other worthy attributes, is actually is a monk.

    4) As it is, the authority of diocesan bishops has been steadily chipped away at since it was established in AOCNA.

    So, what this does is:

    a) puts the matter of final authority on all matters firmly in the hands of Met. PHILIP and out of the hands of those who would alienate the people who pay the bills.

    b) puts the matter of Met. PHILIP’s succession firmly in the hands of the Patriarchate and out of the hands of those who would alienate the people who pay the bills.

    Bottom line: this is about who pays the bills. Bishops who have established and advocated for “no bingo” and “pay your priest” policies have not exactly endeared themselves to certain segments of their respective flocks, nor have bishops who have stood fast on clergy assignments despite those priests incurring the displeasure various parties — and to be fair, the people whose displeasure has been incurred don’t believe they’re doing anything wrong. They’re following the model that they know, and like most people, they want to think that they’re doing the right thing.

    To some extent, messiness surrounding these issues was inevitable, and was always going to take time to work out. It’s too bad that this is one of the ways it has manifested itself, but there we have it.

    Welcome to Lent. That’s no accident. Pray for your soul, your brothers and sisters, your priest, and your bishop and Metropolitan.


  5. John Couretas :

    Met. Philip’s “Archpastoral Directive” of March 3, 2009, is available at this link:

  6. Demography is destiny in the Greek Archdiocese in a big way and to tell you the truth the same holds true for Antioch. This generations’ big donor parishes may not necessarily be the next generations big donors. Will the children of today’s big ethnic donors even give? Will such giving even be a priority for these folks given the Economy and the repeal of tax breaks for charitable contributions?

    One day Antioch and Constantinople may have to rely on those American Converts named “Smith”, “Jones” etc for their continued experience of the “Good Life” if not their outright existence.

    After being treated as second class citizens for years the question remains: Will they care?

    I for one wonder.

  7. Michael Bauman :

    James Chapter 5

  8. Richard

    Your blog post is horrible. It paints a depressing portrait of the body of christ where our clergy and church are for sale.

    He who has the gold makes the rules?

    What about the Gospel and the Saints?

    Do we want a Church that so easily manipulated by the snares of this world?

    If we look at the potrait you paint all we see are empty churches that may be beautiful on the outside but are hollow on the inside.

    Now more than ever we need an American Church free of foreign influence and money. A Church that is not for sale.

    Mother Teresa is right its about fidelity not success!

  9. Richard Barrett :

    Andrew: If we look at the potrait you paint all we see are empty churches that may be beautiful on the outside but are hollow on the inside.

    Rather, what I intend to suggest is that we cannot assume that because we have come to Orthodox Christianity for reasons of faith that it’s going to be some kind of Platonic ideal which will not have to struggle with worldly concerns. I think what’s happening right now is a pretty clear demonstration that this is not the case, that the biggest donors are only going to let things go in a certain direction so far before they drop out of the game, and that from their perspective, they’re not wrong to do so. That’s known as “calling a spade a spade,” I believe, but I’m also trying to be compassionate towards those things and people I’m identifying.

    By virtue of what the American system is, the so-called “marketplace of ideas”, everything by default is for sale. This is not a statement of how I think things should be, a statement of how I think Christians or the Church should act, or a statement that somehow I think all of these concerns should override the Gospel and the Saints. I think I’ve made it clear enough that I don’t think these things. However, if we as Orthodox Americans actually wish to engage the culture, we have to acknowledge that this is how the culture we’re trying to engage constructs certain things, and figure out how to evangelize within that framework. That will mean subverting the culture at some point, but before we can do that we have to know what we’re subverting.

    I’ve described nothing in my blog post that I have not seen with my own eyes. I’m by no means saying I like it; rather, I’m saying, if we don’t like it, here’s how we probably have to solve it.


  10. Richard Barrett says:

    the authority of diocesan bishops has been steadily chipped away at since it was established in AOCNA.

    Andrew says:

    I hate to say it but Metropolitan Philip talks a good talk but the silence of Englewood on this earth shaking move raises serious questions about Antioch’s commitment to American Orthodoxy.

    Looks like more and more people say one thing while their actions prove the contrary. Talks about American Orthodox unity and actions to undermine it.

    Andrew, I understand your despair …. Yes, looks like He who has the gold makes the rules!
    This is becoming more and more obvious. We need to be fidel to the Gospel and to the teachings of the Holy Fathers and not so much preocupied by what the world calls succes.

    This is the future for many churches beautiful on the outside but hollow on the inside for the Holy Spirit will not be there

  11. Richard

    I want to apologize if I was a little hot under the collar with you. You blog post is certainly not a reflection on you personally.

    I have seen so much horror in the Orthodox Church that it is only by God’s grace that I have been able to endure.

    Sometimes, I feel my spiritual journey to analogous to Capt Willard going up river in the movie Apocalypse Now.

    Christ endures, miracles are real and in the midst of despair God’s grace fills the empty spaces. In the midst of the proverbial horror I have seen these things are true.

    In the meantime, there is still the dream of one united American Orthodox Church. It is a worthy struggle for which people will have to suffer to achieve.

    Until then, Lets continue out journey up the river.

  12. George Michalopulos :

    Good points all. Speaking as a former member of the GOAA, I can tell you that this recent directive is horrible and will negate any growth in the AOCNA, a bright, shining spot in American Orthodoxy. Metropolitan Philip was the exemplary Orthodox evangelist here in America. While I do not want to judge him, I believe he should have done everything within his power to blunt this new directive. One way would be to enter into direct negotiations with Metropolitan Jonah and simply unite the Antiochians w/ the the OCA.

    As for any phyletists (read: big-money guys) and tribalist parishes, they can stay the AOCNA. I believe the majority of the Antiochian bishops and parishes would join the OCA.

  13. Richard Barrett :

    Andrew — no apology needed. Forgive me if I caused you to stumble.

    As I said, it is no accident that this is taking place at the outset of Lent.


  14. Fr. John Peck is right in his prophetic article The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow. While the ethnic money may flow for a short time (and believe it will be a short time) The American Orthodox Philanthropists are sitting on the sidelines because they do not trust the current structures of Church governance.

    The Antiochians seem to want to repeat the years of turmoil that followed the retirement of Archbishop Iakovos. Recent decisions show they have learned nothing from this time history.

    Does anyone know with certainty how the Metropolitan is elected in the AOCNA? It should trouble us all if this process is not crystal clear and known to all.

    The patronage culture that surrounds the Metropolitan will be very hard to overcome and the transition in leadership may be a profound period of strife in the Archdiocese. It could be a period of revolution and renewal or it could be Archbishop Spyridon Version 2.0

  15. George Michalopulos :

    Richard, Andrew, I often reflect on what old people used to tell me “During Lent, the devil works overtime.” It’s telling that our bishops are subject to the same snares that we are.

  16. What trends do we see today in tha Orthodox World?

    1. Parhriarch Ignatius gaining control over the AOCNA (looks like Met. Philip does the job for him).
    2. A policy of the Greekification of the GOA
    3. Patriarch Daniel of Romania is pulling the strings (also called diplomatic efforts) to gain control over Romanian Orthodoxy in America. The unofficial version of the effort is:”like it or not, all at once or piece by piece Romanians must to go under patriarch Daniel’s omoforion”.

    4. Met. Kiril is doing about the same thing.

    What is next? An all-Orthodox council where all the above leaders are one mind? Changing cannons and “modernizing” the Church?

  17. Michael Bauman :

    Getting too carried away here folks. I think often of what Met. Joseph the Patriarchal Bulgarian Metropoltian for the U.S, Canada and Australia said on an anniversary of Ligoner. Met. Joseph is a wonderful man, a pastoral bishop with great insight. (Paraphrased) All the bishops will have to die before any further progress toward Orthodox unity is made. That basically means every single bishop we have now plus all of the various Patriarchs and Metropolitans in the old countries. Lone exception: Met. Jonah (many years).

    The Church has always been in a mess, full of sin and disharmony, heresy and an occasional apostate. We’ve argued with our brothers and sisters from day one been subjected to horrendous persecutions with more to come. Yet the Church is still here, union with Christ in the Church is still possible, obedience to the teaching of the Church still a necessity. Our task remains the same, love our enemies and each other, love God. Pray, fast, repent and give alms. Witness to the truth when God calls to that witness.

    The odds of having good bishops is always small, no matter how they are selected because our falleness. That is why our allegience and faith is in Jesus Christ, not the bishops. St. John Chrysostom said at one point that the majority of believers in the Church were a millstone around her neck. Not much has changed. Saints are the exception. I’m certainly not one. Should be ask for, even demand the best from our bishops? Of course, but we can only do that if we take care of our own business first.

    O Lord and Master of my life! Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother; For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen

  18. Michael Bauman:

    “Met. Joseph is a wonderful man, a pastoral bishop with great insight. (Paraphrased) All the bishops will have to die before any further progress toward Orthodox unity is made. That basically means every single bishop we have now plus all of the various Patriarchs and Metropolitans in the old countries. Lone exception: Met. Jonah (many years)”.

    What the Patriarchs and Metropolitans in the old countries are doing make the job of Met Jonah close to impossible. Christ is in charge and we’ve been told that His Church, His flock will be little before His Second Coming.

  19. Michael Bauman :

    Eliot, whom do we trust? Where is our faith, in God or men? There are several of the current crop of bishops that I personally like and learn from, +Basil,+Joseph,+Job for instance. The first two I love and respect. I don’t think they are great bishops. I’m sure they would agree.

    Yes the flock will dwindle, but that is not all the bishops fault. We each have the choice don’t we?

    I know two things about God, He forgives and His love never waivers.

    I know one thing about myself, despite God’s love I find ways to ignore Him and go my own way with unhappy results. I cannot honestly expect anything more of anyone else. Nice to get it, but I cannot expect it.

    I know two things about the Church: 1) the Gates of Hell will not prevail against her; 2) she has always been a mess, never unified or at peace

    There have been essentially three ways of dealing with the observed state of the Church over the centuries 1) legislate and enforce laws; 2) Go do your own thing; 3) do the best to follow Christ in the midst of the world

    In all the scandals, controversies, whinning, complaining, anger, hurt and distress that exisits in us who are members of the Church it seems we usually favor 1 or 2. They don’t work. They merely distract us from working out our salvation by loving God and loving our neighbor.

    Shoot, I love to complain and pontificate, God forgive me, but I’m painfully coming to the conclusion it is a disease. If we love Jesus and His Church the best thing we can do is confess our own sins and pray for our priests and bishops. By praying for them out of love, IF we are called to witness to them, we will be able to do so out of that love and humility which alone produces change.

    If we live the life of the Church to our utmost, our witness will be vibrant, strong and effective. If we don’t, we are just adding to the problem. I know I have an unhappy tendency to substitute my own thoughts for obedience to God.

    As much as I’d like to get bent out of shape about the actions of my Patriarch Ignatius, I sort of agree with Met. Philip, it doesn’t really change anything. It certainly has nothing to do with my salvation or anybody else’s that I can see.

    Yeah, Met. Jonah is in the soup. If he relies on God, it will be a good, healthy soup that will feed many. If he relies on himself and the ways of man, the soup will sour and be spoiled. Same goes for the rest of us. This is the way it has always been in the life of the Church.

    I am not suggesting fatalism, simply reliance on God to take care of His Church and us. Then the actions we need to take will be clear and we will have the strength to take them. Persecution and martyrdom is the most likely result of any such witness by the way.

    “Lord God of Hosts, be with us, for we have none other help in time of sorrow but thee. O Lord of Hosts, have mercy on us”

    “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad it it.”

  20. Michael Bauman :

    Food for thought. When the Bishop of Moscow proclaimed the ‘Unity of Florence’ from the altar, the congregation had him locked up and forced into exile.

    During the same time, the catherdrals of many of the bishops who signed on to the ‘Unity’ were empty until they recanted.

  21. Michael Bauman:

    Whom do we trust? Certainly there are many good bishops and priests. Got to know the teaching of the Holy Fathers and the saints! Otherwise we go around aimlessly, lost like many in the inflation of denominations that are out there.

    Yes, it is reliance on God, but we have to know were to find God. The Holy Spirit is with us until the END. Hearing the Holy Spirit it is simply listening to what the saints said.


  1. […] think this makes it reasonably clear what this is about. As I have said elsewhere — welcome to Lent. That’s no accident. Pray for your soul, your brothers and sisters, your […]

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