Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba – On the Record

Note October 14, 2010: A few days ago I posted this interview (a very good one, BTW), then took it down, but I am putting it back up but disabling comments. Why did I take it down? I took it down because Met. Philip, a flash-point in the blogosphere right now, is also my hierarch. On a personal level, the man has been very good to me, taking me in and going to bat for me when I was mistreated by another bishop. On a corporate level, I am aware of the complaints and while I think some of them need to get ironed out, some of them are too personal and distract from what I see as the larger problem at hand: a clash of Eastern and Western sensibility and culture that, 1) the OCA was forced to confront when the ties to the Mother Church was cut by the Bolsheviks in 1918, 2) the GOA refuses to confront by building a false mythology of primacy, 3) the AOA has moderated by essentially building two churches side by side but which are now rubbing up against each other.

St. Paul ordaining Titus in Crete

St. Paul ordaining Titus in Crete

I am not, like some Orthodox, reflexively critical of all things Western. It’s a remarkable thing that the marauding tribes of Europe — the Goths, the Gauls, the Vandals, the Vikings, etc. — heard the Gospel that came from the East, embraced the Christ revealed through it, and then built a civilization that produced the most stunning achievements the world has ever seen. It is, in its own way, as remarkable as the transformation of Classical civilization that began when St. Paul first set foot on Crete.

The West carried forward much of the best of Christian/Hellenic ideals after the Muslim domination of the East. The Magna Carta, the US Constitution, the ideals of freedom, liberty, human rights, a high value of human life, Christian humanism — ideals that must be properly defined of course and, frankly, not always practiced — had their genesis in the East but reached a development in the West that needs to be recognized, embraced, and strengthened. Our churches reflect that tension between East and West — that groaning of how to reconcile and build a Church in a culture that was shaped by sensibility at once familiar but also different, especially for those raised with more of an Eastern orientation.

Ossios Lukas (Venerable Luke) Monastery

Ossios Lukas (Venerable Luke) Monastery

I’ve lived in Greece. I’ve been to the (good) monasteries, many times in fact. I led the the college segment of Ionian Village for five years and came to rely on one monastery in particular as the place where the person seeking God but having great difficulty finding Him would finally meet Him. I saw this happen time and time again. So I know the depth of faith that can exist in the East, that transformative, regenerative power of God’s Holy Spirit that works in the places of antiquity where faithful men and women followed Christ for centuries and still follow Him today.

At the same time, I love the vibrancy, energy, youthfulness, daring, pragmatism, even incredulity, of America. Traveling back and forth between Greece and America, I could sense the difference in national character — that spirit that defines place — as soon as I entered American air space. Yes, America, although a nation of immigrants (of which I am one) is also a “people” with distinctive character and identity, some of it good, some of it that needs some work, just like all other nations. I love Greece, but I am an American.

That tension, that clash of sensibilities, is what underlies a lot of the internal conflicts — and why Met. Philip is a flash-point in the blogosphere. He bridges two worlds, raised in the East with Eastern sensibilities, he must deal with the Western sensibility too. Clashes are inevitable. Will the complaints be resolved here? Probably not. Is he committed to bringing the Orthodox faith to America? Without a doubt.

If I was assured that the discussion could remain on a high level I would enable comments. But, unfortunately, there is just too much invective in other places and I don’t want to discussion here to degenerate into personal ax-grinding. We talk about hot topics here and manage to avoid the posturing and grandstanding for the most part. If you disagree and want to persuade me otherwise, shoot me an email.

The Illumined Heart on Ancient Faith Radio with Kevin AllenThe past few years have seen their controversies within the Self Ruled Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. On September 30, 2010, Kevin Allen and John Maddex traveled to Englewood, NJ to visit the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese and the home of it’s Archbishop Metropolitan Philip Saliba. Our purpose was to seek clarification on several key areas that have become a concern to many, and fodder for the blogosphere. His Eminence warmly welcomed us and gave Kevin the freedom to ask any question he thought would be helpful to our audience in understanding several critical issues. There were four specific topics we wanted him to address:

1. The meaning and future of self rule in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

2. The status of the Bishops in North America and the meaning as well as the ramifications of the title “Auxiliary Bishop.”

3. The finances of the Antiochian Archdiocese and in particular the status of an audit.

4. The view point of His Eminence on the Episcopal Assembly, SCOBA, and the future of Administrative Unity in North America.

We have left the Metropolitan’s remarks intact and unedited to make them available to the audience for their own evaluation and conclusions.

This episode provides the entire interview. If you are interested in listening to the individual topics, we have also divided it up into 4 sections and those are available on The Illumined Heart page of Ancient Faith Radio. A free transcript is also available.

Listen here:

Podcast courtesy of Ancient Faith Radio