+Philip Silences His Bishops
• 18 Directives Will Insure “One Voice”
• Bishops are to formally identify themselves
“as Auxiliary Bishops”
• Independent diocesan policies, websites, presbyter’s
councils and fundraising prohibited
• Bishops forbidden independent communication
with other bishops, clergy, organizations
• Bishops may not “disparage or make negative
personal remarks” about these changes
• Metropolitan asserts his “prerogative” to transfer
Bishop Mark to Pacific Northwest
• +Mark Refuses, Requests Transfer to OCA
At the meeting of the Local Synod of the Antiochian Archdiocese, held Saturday morning, October 23rd in Jacksonville FL, Metropolitan Philip fundamentally re-defined the “self-rule” of the third largest Orthodox jurisdiction in North America with a 3-page, 18 point document listing “certain amendments and directives” he based on the August 19th decision of the Synod of Antioch.
(Read that earlier decision here.)
Legal Affairs gives Carte Blanche to +Philip
The document, entitled “Implementation of the Synodal Resolution of August 19, 2010” was preceded by a one page letter from the Archdiocesan Department of Legal Affairs stating: “It is the opinion of the Department of Legal Affairs that the policy changes and directives contained in the attached letter are reasonable and necessary in order to maintain consistency in the administration of the Archdiocese and to remain true to the Synodal Resolution.” While stating that the changes put forth are “reasonably comprehensive”, the Department warned that “... there may be additional policy changes and directives that are needed which have not yet become apparent.” The opinion was signed by Deacon Emile Sayegh.
The “Implementation” Program
The Metropolitan’s letter leaves no doubt that all authority,powe and responsibility in the Archdiocese now rests with the Metropolitan-Archbishop, that is +Philip, alone. It reads:
“Implementation of the Synodal Resolution of August 19, 2010
On August 19, 2010 the Holy Synod of Antioch, under the Chairmanship of His Beatitude, Patriarch IGNATIUS IV, (Hazim), issued, unanimously, its Resolution (“Resolution”) concerning the status of Bishops in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Based upon the Resolution the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, hereby sets forth certain amendments and directives to its policies in order to properly implement the terms of the Resolution so that both consistency and confidence in the administration of the Archdiocese may continue.
The Antiochian Orthodox CHhistian Archdiocese of North America is an Archdiocese of the Patriarchate of Antioch that exists in its own right and does not depend upon the existence of its component dioceses. However, it is also recognized that the Metropolitan Archbishop with the assistance of his Auxiliary Bishops throughout North America, together composed one unifed entity who all expected to minister, in unity, with one voice and one objective. Based upon these values, the following policy changes and directives, serve only to protect the unity and integrity of the Archdiocese. In order to achieve this goal it is incumbent upon all that the policy changes and directives set forth herein must be adhered to with diligence and respect.
1. A copy of the Synodal Resolution, dated August 19, 2010, issued by the Holy Synod of Antioch will be sent to all chanceries to the attention of the Auxiliary Bishop assigned thereto:
2. News of the Synod Resolution, issued by the Holy Synod of Antioch with a copy of said Resolution shall be posted on the official web site of the Archdiocese.
3. The Synodal Resolution issued by the Holy Synod of Antioch on August 19th, 2010, shall be sent to all members of the Board of Trustees, clergy and parishes throughout North America.
4. All Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese are expected to express, either verbally or in writing, their unequivocal obedience to the terms of the Resolution in order that the hierarchs, as brothers in Christ, may express their unity to the faithful. No one shall express any disparaging remark or negative personal opinions with regard to the terms of the Resolution. It is has always been the policy of the Archdiocese, that in order to encourage and foster confidence in the administration, all hierarchs and clergy should conduct themselves in a manner which expresses unity and brotherly love.
5. The role and responsibilities of an Auxiliary Bishop are such that each Bishop acts on behalf of the Metropolitan Archbishop and he does not act in “his” own right. We must always be mindful that one of the primary values in the administration of the Archdiocese is to exemplify unity and brotherly love. In fact, this values set the example for the faithful of our God-Protected Archdiocese. There can only be one set of policies, addressing both internal and external affairs, of the Archdiocese, otherwise the risk of confusion and fragmentation becomes real. As such, no Auxiliary Bishop may formulate any policy of his own, and, in the spirit of unison, the policies of the Archdiocese are the policies of the Auxiliary Bishops.
6. An Auxiliary Bishop does not administer his dioceses as an independent entity, but rather, he administers his dioceses as part and parcel of the Archdiocese as a whole. The Archdiocese shall continue to be responsible for funding the approved budgets of each Auxiliary Bishop and chancery and to accommodate the reasonable needs of each chancery, subject to budget approval.
7. In order to establish and maintain “ one voice” within the Archdiocese, any and all formal communications by an Auxiliary Bishop to another (non-Antiochian) Archdiocese. Diocese, Church or Organization must be communicated through the Archdiocese.
8. In accordance with the Synodal Resolution, unanimously approved on August 19, 2010, all are reminded that
“ The Metropolitan possesses the right and authority to transfer a bishop from one diocese to another, as he deems necessary, for the benefit of the Archdiocese and after deliberating with the Archdiocesan Synod.”
9. And an all fund raising activities and/or solicitations must be conducted through the Archdiocese and no Auxiliary Bishop is permitted to conduct any form of fund raising activities and or solicit donations through his chancery, unless he is authorized, in writing, by the Metropolitan. Furthermore, there shall be no direct disbursement of funds by an Auxiliary Bishop to any other (Antiochian or non-Antiochian) Archdiocese, Diocese, Church, or Organization without the express written approval of the Metropolitan.
10. In order to preserve consistency, all internet websites of any diocese and/or chancery must be designed and its contents must be in conformity with the policies and directives of the Archdiocese. The contents of said web sites must be fashioned so as to protect the integrity of the Archdiocese, and shall not in any way create confusion with regard to the administration prerogatives (sic) of the Archdiocese.
11. While it is the prerogative of the Metropolitan to insist upon the rubrics as contained in the Typikon with regard to commemoration of Bishops, and as such, there would be no commemoration of Auxiliary Bishops at any services, the Metropolitan shall permit the commemoration of Auxiliary Bishops, provided the following directive is adhered to: Commemoration of Auxiliary Bishops shall be permitted only after commemorating the Metropolitan Archbishop, using the following format: “Our father and Metropolitan ------, Our Bishop --------”. This privilege shall always be subject to amendment.
12, All Auxiliary Bishops shall inform their respective dioceses, parishes and missions of the new policies and directives of the Archdiocese and he shall present them in a manner which promotes the integrity of the Archdiocese and its administration and in a positive tone and attitude.
13. All Auxiliary Bishops shall always identify themselves, either on their respective letterhead, or in any other manner, as “Auxiliary Bishop” and in no other manner.
14. It has and continues to be the policy of this Archdiocese that all members of the clergy are members of one family under one Archdiocese.
15. An Auxiliary Bishop does not have the prerogative to communicate and/or interfere with members of the clergy who minister under another Auxiliary Bishop. Any such communication should be made with the Auxiliary Bishop of that diocese.
16. It is required that the committee appointed by the Metropolitan Archbishop to review the Hierarchical Manual be re-commission to review, modify and amend all provisions of the Hierarchical Manual so as to be consistent with the Resolution of the Holy Synod of August 19, 2010, and with the policy changes and directives herein stated.
17. All “Presbyters Council” as they may exist, should be immediately dissolved as being inconsistent with the administrative prerogatives of the Archdiocese.
18. By no means are these policy changes and directives set forth herein to be deemed an exhaustive list. The Archdiocese reserves its right to issue further policy changes and directives it deems appropriate.”
Bishop Mark To Leave For OCA
The new directives have immediate effects:
• The Metropolitan, as expected, announced that Bishop Mark is to be transferred out of the Midwest Diocese where he has served the last five years since being installed as the Bishop of Toledo. The “deliberation with the Synod” that according to the August 19th Resolution is to precede any episcopal transfer, consisted not in a vote but in the Metropolitan asking each of his auxiliaries their opinion. Only +Basil and +Alexander objected to the move. Bishop Mark, however, refused the transfer and requested, instead, to be released to the Orthodox Church in America. The Metropolitan agreed. (According to sources close to Syosset, Metropolitan Jonah has invited Bishop Mark to attend the next meeting of the OCA’s Synod scheduled for mid-November in Syosset, New York, as his guest. It is expected the details of the transfer will be settled then.) Bishop Mark is expected to continue his schedule of parish visits throughout the Antiochian Midwest diocese until the end of the year. With his calls for financial accountability and transparency, and his insistence that the American Antiochian Bishops were installed as diocesan, not merely auxiliary bishops, +Mark’s departure removes a very public thorn in the Metropolitan’s side.
The new directives fall heavily on the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America as well. The diocesan Presbyter’s Council, known as the St. Rafael Clergy Brotherhood, is to be disbanded. (The Clergy brotherhood, it may be remembered, was the first to ‘seek clarification” to the Metropolitan’s March 2009 directive that initiated the last 18 months of turmoil in the Archdiocese.) It is not clear how, or even if, the diocese’s sister- relationship with the Archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran in Syria will be allowed to continue, as it may fall under the Metropolitan’s prohibitions in Article #9 of the new directives banning fund-raising, soliciting donations or disbursing funds directly by any diocese to anybody else without the express written approval of the Metropolitan.
Article #9 may also impact Bishop Basil of Wichita’s role as the secretary of the new Episcopal Assembly of North America. As an auxiliary bishop +Basil may still serve as the secretary, but he is now forbidden to solicit or raise funds for that body, or to have contact with other Orthodox hierarchs apart from the Metropolitan’s permission. +Philip has been very critical of the new Episcopal Assembly. (Read his speech at the Assembly here.)
Thirdly, Article #10 means that not only +Basil’s own diocesan websites ( such as www.dowama.org) but those in the Diocese of Los Angeles, for example, must also be closed or down, or at least re-ordered so as not “ in any way to create confusion with regard to the administration prerogatives of the Archdiocese.”
Finally, the long-awaited Hierarchical Manual, several years in the making, has been thrown out. A new Manual is “required” now, such as reflects the new policies regarding Bishops in the Archdiocese. It is not clear what express duties the Auxiliary Bishops now have, except liturgical. Indeed, even liturgically, the Bishops are now to be commemorated only at the Metropolitan’s discretion. As Article #11 makes clear: “While it is the prerogative of the Metropolitan to insist upon the rubrics as contained in the Typikon with regard to commemoration of Bishops, and as such, there would be no commemoration of Auxiliary Bishops at any services, the Metropolitan shall permit the commemoration of Auxiliary Bishops, provided the following directive is adhered to: Commemoration of Auxiliary Bishops shall be permitted only after commemorating the Metropolitan Archbishop, using the following format: “Our father and Metropolitan ------, Our Bishop --------”. This privilege shall always be subject to amendment.”
In the end the new directives are simply the working out in specific instances of the general principle outlined in the implementation’s final Article #18. It reads: “By no means are these policy changes and directives set forth herein to be deemed an exhaustive list. The Archdiocese reserves its right to issue further policy changes and directives it deems appropriate.” In short, concepts such as “self-rule”, structures such “dioceses”, “constitutions”, or people such as “Boards of Trustees”, or “diocesan bishops” sitting on a “Local Synod”, no longer constitute the Archdiocese for purposes of administration or policies. In the re-defined Self-Ruled Antiochian Archdiocese there is now only one voice - Metropolitan Philip'. Whatever he orders, now or in the future, as “... there may be additional policy changes and directives that are needed which have not yet become apparent", are not only to be acccepted and obeyed, but presented to the world with " a positive tone and attitude."
Such is the new policy.