A REFLECTION ON THE VALUES OF METROPOLITAN PHILIP
In transferring Fr. Paul Alberts and releasing Fr. David Moretti from his parish, and the Archdiocese, Metropolitan Philip sent a loud and clear message—and the message has been received: the Antiochian Archdiocese is open to unrepentant convicted criminals who side with Metropolitan Philip, but closed to those who may walk a tight rope between “mainstream” Orthodoxy and “fundamentalism,” who find themselves at odds with the ideology of Metropolitan Philip.
For months—even years now—we have had to hear supporters of Metropolitan Philip speak of “forgiveness” and “compassion” to the criminals in our midst. Fine, let us forgive and offer compassion. They are certainly the lofty ideals and expectations of the Gospel. But let us also offer forgiveness and compassion to those whose only “crimes” are wearing cassocks and clerical hats, or holding daily services, or opening and closing the holy doors a few too many times.
Why have Metropolitan Philip and his supporters been so eager to restore a convicted sex offender, Bishop Demetri? I feel sorry for Bishop Demetri. The poor man made an enormous mistake that scandalized the entire Archdiocese. He accepted his ecclesiastically penalty in humility and quietly began to work out his salvation outside the public eye. But Metropolitan Philip has, for some reason, tried to force him back on the scene, and back into active ministry, contrary not only to the canons, but to common sense. And then when people protest, Metropolitan Philip and his supporters make out those acting with common sense to be the ‘bad guys.’ No, the one who has forced this issue on the Archdiocese is none other than Metropolitan Philip. He should have left Bishop Demetri alone to live peacefully in repentance.
Why has Metropolitan Philip continued to support people like Walid Khalife, people who have made threats on the lives of others, including Bishop Mark? Why does he overlook the criminal charges against Mr. Khalife and allow him to serve as an ‘honorary’ member of the Board of Trustees? Being a Trustee with a felonious criminal record is bad enough, but then to label him as ‘honorary’ on top of that?!!! Why has he turned a blind eye to the whole situation in Detroit, where one of his closest associates, Fr. Joseph Anytpas, has admitted to forging checks? Why does he allow Fr. Antypas to maintain a prominent position in the Archdiocese, often accompanying the Metropolitan on trips overseas?
Why does the Metropolitan not step in when people like Jamal Khalife—who was recently featured in a 48 Hours Mystery for his role in obstructing justice in a murder investigation, only to receive immunity for testifying against the murderer (you can see the 48 Hours Mystery episode here —are allowed leadership positions in prominent parishes like his parish of St George in Detroit?
Why does the Metropolitan wait to step in when a priest is disobedient by wearing a cassock? Where is the forgiveness and the compassion now? Where is the opportunity for the priest to receive a minor penance in order that he may correct his path? Is it really so that being a supposed “fundamentalist” is worse in this Archdiocese than obstructing justice for a murderer? Is it worse to quietly and unpretentiously hold daily services than to threaten the life of a bishop or anyone else who might get in your way, as Mr. Khalife did? Is it worse to open and close holy doors according to the Russian tradition than to forge your signature on a parish check?
I never thought I would see the day when the Antiochian Archdiocese descended to its current level. I remember the days—not so long ago—when I was proud to be a son of Antioch and a son of Metropolitan Philip. I remember when I thought Metropolitan Philip would lead us to true unity in North America. Now he has divided his own Archdiocese beyond my imagination. I remember looking at the other ‘jurisdictions’ in America and being happy that I was i " the bes"t—oh how quickly the mighty fall! I remember thinking that Metropolitan Philip would go down in Orthodox history as a hero who made some bold mistakes—now he will be most likely remembered as a villain who did a few things right.
I will continue to pray for my Metropolitan. I will continue to hope beyond hope that he changes his course. In the meantime, I will have to grapple with the fact that my father in Christ makes our Archdiocese a ‘den of thieves’. (For the record, I would be happy to welcome these ‘thieves’ if they showed any sign of repentance). I will remain perplexed at the message we have all received: corrupt and unrepentant criminals are welcome here, while those who are serious about practicing their faith are invited (or even forced) to leave.
Ashamed to be a Son of Antioch