News From Around the
• Syosset, NY
Concern is growing regarding Metropolitan Jonah's public musings about the OCA’s autocephaly. At a recent Diocese of the South Assembly, +Jonah is reported by one delegate to have said the following:
“We may need to redefine autocephaly briefly in order to move forward in the vision of a united church in America. It’s a “spiritual task of overcoming institutional boundaries.”
Writing in the latest issue of THE PATH OF ORTHODOXY Bishop Maxim of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western America, the new Vice-Secretary of the Chambesy-inspired Episcopal Assembly offers one possible re-defination that apparently emerged at that Assembly of the Bishops:
“Interestingly, the question of the OCA (the Orthodox Church in America, formerly the Russian Metropolia) was not discussed, but it has become clear that its 'autocephaly' (given by a unilateral decree of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1970) is understood only as autonomy. ..”
The Patriarchate of Moscow made it clear in 1970 that it was a Tomos of Autocephaly, not autonomy. (The Tomos may be read here). The 1970 All-American Council, which received the Tomos from the Patriarchate of Moscow, was very clear about receiving autocephaly, not autonomy.
( Read an account of the Council here).
After questions were raised by a member of the Metropolitan Council about such issues, the OCA released the following statement late this afternoon:
"On Thursday and Friday, August 26-27, 2010, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, several members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, and advisers met at the Chancery here to begin a series of broader discussions and reflections within the Orthodox Church in America regarding our participation in the Episcopal Assembly process.
According to Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, "His Beatitude has invited His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion [Alfeyev] of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, to meet at the Chancery on Monday, August 30, to contribute to our reflections prior to future conversations."
Metropolitan Hilarion will be visiting Saint Vladimir's Seminary, Crestwood, NY, August 28-29, his first as a member of the school's Board of Trustees, and concelebrating the Sunday Liturgy with Metropolitan Jonah at Three Hierarchs Chapel."
"Several members of the Holy Synod" includes all the bishops save Archbishops Nathaniel and Seraphim. "Advisors" includes Frs. Garklavs and Kishkovsky, as well as Behr and Hatfield from St. Vladimir's.
• Damascus, Syria
Fallout from the recent decision of the Synod of Antioch reducing the bishops (save the Archbishop) to auxiliary status, continues. It is widely expected that the first episcopal casualty will be Bishop Mark of Toledo, who will be transferred from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest (or retired). The 18-month attempt by Metropolitan Philip to undo the work of the past 8 years in differentiating the Archdiocese (by creating 9 dioceses in one Archdiocese, each with its own bishop, joined together in a local Synod, governed by a constitution granting “self-rule” from Antioch) appears to have reached a successful conclusion on his third try.
+Philip’s initial attempt in February 2009 failed, leading to a six month crisis in the Archdiocese. (Read that story here.) His second attempt in June 2009 went horribly awry amid accusations of altered Synodal decisions, accusations that were only resolved when the Patriarchate posted an accurate decision, not supporting +Philip, on its own website. (Read that story here.) The situation was repaired enough in July 2009 (through a compromise orchestrated by Bishop Basil of Wichita) to allow the Archdiocesan Assembly to proceed without a full rebellion, and an uneasy peace ensued - until last week.
According to sources close to Damascus, this third attempt succeeded, where the two previous had failed, largely because Metropolitan Philip personally attended the Synod meeting, despite having publicly stated he would not attend another due to age and health concerns (the Metropolitan is 79.) According to these sources the previous balance in the Synod was finally tilted in +Philip’s favor through a successful disinformation campaign launched against Bishop Mark of Toledo, and no little “horse-trading” of votes involving the dual suppression of the American bishops and the suppression of the Orthodox Youth Movement of Antioch in some Levantine dioceses.
• OCA Diocese of Alaska
A letter by an Alaskan priest requesting that Alaska be given the opportunity to realize the OCA Statute by nominating their next hierarch as has been done by other dioceses of the OCA has been made public. Earlier this month Bishop Benjamin, locum tenens of the Diocese, acknowledged this request and stated that although other candidates may be nominated, he knows that Archimandrite Gerasim (Eliel) “ is best for them”. Archimandrite Gerasim is the former abbott of the Platina monastery in California. Originally under ROCOR, then an uncanonical old calendar jurisdiction, Platina has most recently been in the Serbian Church. Archimandrite Gerasim has been enrolled at St. Vladimir’s Seminary for the past year.
• Chicago, Illinois
The annual clergy convocation of the Diocese of the Midwest was held this past week in Chicago. In a recent blog, Fr. Ted Bobosh reported on the event:
“ Currently, the process of electing a bishop is in the stage where the members of the Diocese are getting to know the three nominees. This is a long process both for the diocese and for the three men ( Ed. note: Fr.s Gassios, Mahaffey and Moriak) who in accepting nomination have agreed to put themselves through a long vetting process. Orthodoxy is a hierarchical church, and so men are needed who are willing to put themselves through this process to become the diocesan bishop. It is a very particular calling by the church.
At the convocation each of the priests made a presentation to the gathered diocesan clergy and then answered questions in what was a two hour session. Additionally, each of the three priests was interviewed in a tape recorded session which will be made available to the parishes of the diocese, thus giving a chance for all diocesan members to become at least a little familiar with the nominees. All of this is being done to help the parish clergy and lay delegates to the Diocesan Assembly in Minneapolis, October 4-6, decide for whom they want to vote in the special episcopal election. Whichever candidate receives the most votes in the election will be considered the nominee from the diocese for the office of bishop; his name will then be submitted to the Synod of Bishops for formal election as bishop of the diocese. The actual consecration of the nominee as bishop will occur sometime later.
In general in the Orthodox tradition, there is no campaigning for a candidate, and the process is not simply a democratic vote with majority rule. It is a consensus building process, with the Synod of Bishops having the final say in confirming the Diocesan Assembly’s nominee.”
It has been reported to OCANews.org that Fr. Moriak has recently been released from the Carpatho-Russian jurisdiction to the OCA.
In a sad development, Archimandrite Alexander Golitsyn, a priest of the Midwest diocese whose name was mentioned as a possible candidate, suffered a serious stroke earlier this month. He will be taking the semester off from Marquette University, where he teaches, to recover.
In other news from the Midwest, the 2011 Archbishop Job Memorial Trip to Project Mexico has announced it will include 105 missionaries from 8 states and 2 Canadian provinces . The week-long trip scheduled from July 12-18, 2011. The missionaries will build homes for the poor in Mexico in memory of the late Archbishop.
• Moscow, Russia
On August 22nd, Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow spoke of new bishops. According to a recent a release from the Press Office of the Patriarchate: “His Holiness expressed his joy over the fact that during the visit two patriarchal episcopal consecrations were performed, with the highest level of service to the church given to pastors who strove not after honors, but gave their whole lives to the “humble, not very noticeable, but sincere service to the Lord.” According to His Holiness, “there is something to think about” the fact that to the congregation of bishops of the Russian Orthodox
Church were joined people such as Archimandrite Panteleimon (Shatov) –a pious pastor, who spent many years of carrying out parish obediences and who raised four daughters, and Archimandrite Veniamin (Likhomanov) - “a monk, confessor, modest, educated man who never boasted about his education and humbly served in those places where he was sent. The most repulsive thing in the Church is monastic careerism - stressed the Primate. - I think the two consecrations which took place in Solovki – send a very clear signal to all of our monks, whose heads spin with thoughts of episcopacy and who believe that there is no life, if by reaching thirty years they have not become archimandrites.
“All corrupt careerism in the church - this is what needs to be eradicated, and with God’s help, we’ll deal with it, - said His Holiness. - And everyone who really wants to become a bishop, I want to warn: the Patriarch sees it and is unlikely you will become bishops. The Bishopric will be for those who are not seeking it. His Holiness said that the consecration of Father Panteleimon was supposed to be performed on Aug. 10 at the Novodevichy monastery, but in those days the capital was covered with the smoke of forest fires and so His Holiness was asked to cancel the Patriarchal Liturgy in order to avoid a large gathering of people and not to endanger people’s health. The Primate called Father Panteleimon and said that consecration would be postponed. “He told me quietly in response:” Maybe it can be canceled? “ - said the Patriarch. - Thank you, Vladyka Panteleimon, for these words - they warmed my soul. “ “I think that we should treat the Episcopal service thus: the lot fell on you – take it, if the lot does not fall on you - do what is your occupation, - added the head of the Russian Church. - After all, before God we all stand in line not by the order of our ordination, and not by the number of crosses, and not by whether you serve in a mitre or kamilavka. It may come to pass that the Patriarch will be standing behind a cleaning lady and will look into her eyes and say “Maria Ivanovna, could you pray for me ...” “ “We have very clearly understood that our ecclesiastical career is a relative thing, not having any direct connection to our salvation, - reminded the Patriarch Kirill. - God gives strength and understanding, pay attention to the conciliar wisdom of the Church – you will be made a bishop, a Metropolitan and a Patriarch. “You need to be there where you carry out your ministry - Carry it with boldness, prayer and love.”
• OCA Diocese of New York- New Jersey
The Diocese has announced several public meetings to discuss the Strategic Plan of the OCA. The dates include:
New Jersey Deanery, September 14
Saints Peter and Paul Church South River New Jersey -- Open Forum for the clergy at 3:00 p.m., and a Open Forum for clergy and laity at 7:00 p.m. the same day
New York City Deanery, October 10
St. John Chrysostom Church, Woodside, New York
New York State Deanery, October 21
St. Nicholas Church, Cohoes, New York
In other news of the Strategic Plan, the current Chairman, Fr. Alexis Vinogradov, has resigned. A predecessor, Fr. Robert Arida, resigned several months ago. Metropolitan Jonah is expected to name his delegate from the Diocese of Washington, Fr. John Vitko, to be the new Chairman.
- Mark Stokoe