TRANSCRIPT FROM THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY: THE MOTION BY SARAH HODGES REGARDING BISHOP DEMETRI
July 24, 2009
Palm Desert, CA
Moderator: Your Eminence. We have Sarah Hodges of St John’s Memphis Tennessee with a comment.
Metropolitan Philip: Yes, sure. Sarah?
Mrs. Hodges: Your Grace, Bishops of the Local Synod, Trustees, and Delegates, We have a serious situation that has not been addressed yet, that is why I am here at the very, very end.
Metropolitan Philip: What is it?
Mrs. Hodges: We must address it. Every person in this room is culpable individually and corporately of perpetuating this disgrace
Metropolitan Philip: What is it?
Mrs. Hodges: It is unconscionable and indefensible to facilitate and finance a bishop who was found guilty of sexual misconduct in a court of law. (Calls to 'Sit Down!', 'Boo!', and heckling from delegates.) It reflects poorly on our Church. It creates an enormous financial liability which has drained the coffers …
Metropolitan Philip: Let her speak.
Mrs. Hodges: … drained the coffers of the GOA and the Catholic Church over that past ten years and endangers the spiritual lives of those who have been entrusted to him.
Therefore, I make a motion: "That this Archdiocese will not compensate or financially support Bishop Demetri directly or indirectly in any manner so long as he remains in violation of the restrictions placed on him by the Local Synod."
Chancellor Fr. Deacon Emile Sayegh:
Saidna. Can I respond as the chancellor, please? May I sir?
Mrs. Hodges: I think it needs a second to be discussed. (Second from floor)
Metropolitan Philip: The Chancellor would like to say something about that.
Chancellor Fr. Deacon Emile Sayegh: (Reading)
'With regard to His Grace Bishop Demetri, His Grace Bishop Demetri now serves as an auxiliary bishop under the omophorion of His Eminence Metropolitan Antoun Chedraoui of Mexico. The matter of His Grace Bishop Demetri being restored to active status was the result of the natural prerogative of His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV in exercising his right to apply the principle of economia. The principle of economia concerns a specific episcopal application of the canons in the life of the church. In a sense it refers to the discretionary power given to the church by Christ Himself in order to manage and govern the Church. Christ referred to this when He gave the Apostles the authority to bind and loose. Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 and this authority in turn was transmitted to the bishops who came after the Apostles.
It is in fact pastoral economia which is the handling or management of various pastoral and disciplinary questions, problems and issues that have arisen through the centuries of the church history. Economia has always been used when, in the judgment of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit it would result in the wider salvation of souls through the extension of God’s mercy. We must always remember in the Church that all canons and laws exist in subjection to the rule of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that is to say, his commandments, teachings and precepts of love, compassion and understanding. The application of economia only takes place through the official church authorities and is only applicable on a case-by-case basis. His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV studied very carefully all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the matter of Bishop Demetri.
We are not aware of all of the facts and circumstances. Let us not judge too quickly (Applause.) It was only after careful and thorough consideration of these facts that His Beatitude made the decision through his natural prerogatives as the Patriarch to reinstate His Grace Bishop Demetri to active status under the omophorion of the Metropolitan of Mexico.
In fact, the decision of the Patriarch in this regard is simply not subject to challenge under any circumstances - (Applause)- for any such challenge would be deemed an uncanonical assumption of the natural prerogatives of the rightful and proper church authority.'
Thank you, Saidna.
Metropolitan Philip: Thank you.
Mrs. Hodges: I am not here to question the Patriarch. Those are very eloquent prepared remarks. I am not here to question the Patriarch. What I am here to do is make the resolution that this Archdiocese not compensate or fund support for Bishop Demetri directly or indirectly in any manner whatsoever as long as he remains in violation of the restrictions placed on him by the local synod. What the Patriarch does is what the Patriarch does. What I am here is so that the Archdiocese can say that we do not condone or rationalize the placement of this bishop anywhere in the world.
Metropolitan Philip: Our Local Synod never “tried” Bishop Demetri. We just retired him. Let’s not make something of this issue which it is not. Our Local Synod never tried Bishop Demetri, it just retired him.
When the Patriarch came here he asked me, “How come this man is not doing something. Let’s put him to work.” I said, “I don’t have a place for him in this Archdiocese.” He said, “Maybe in the Caribbeans (sic) he could do some work for the archdiocese of Mexico.” I told him “This is up to the Metropolitan of Mexico.” That’s why he is doing missionary work in the Caribbeans (sic).
Mrs. Hodges: But we don’t need to pay for it. That is my point.
Metropolitan Philip: In the spirit of charity, in the spirit of charity, personally, I’d like to help him. ( Applause.)
You know, you know, my dear, a few days ago we celebrated the feast of Mary Magdalene. You remember who Mary Magdalene was? She is one of the saints of our church. You cannot, from a Christian point of view… Please listen carefully. You cannot divide people into two classes, the righteous on this side and the sinners on this side as long as we are alive because the human soul, the human soul, my dear, is very, very, very dynamic. The poet Gibran said, “Everyday I discover within myself a new continent.” Mary Magdalene was what she was, we know she was a prostitute and she became a saint. She became a saint. St. Paul was persecuting Christians; he became a saint. The thief who was crucified with Christ on the cross because of his confession, Christ said to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” You see, Judas who was one of the disciples on the other hand betrayed Christ, and he was one of the disciples.
Therefore, as long as we are alive, we cannot just classify people, say these are the righteous and these are the sinners and this is it, let’s condemn them. So let God Judge Bishop Demetri. He received enough judgment. So your motion in not in order. Thank you.
Mrs. Hodges: It was seconded. I think there should be a vote. (Inaudible background.)
Metropolitan Philip: (In Arabic) “I spoke.”
(In English) I don’t want to vote on it. This is ridiculous. To vote on what? Something the Patriarch did?
Okay. Let’s move. We have work to be done."