Metropolitan Philip Dispels Rumors
In a question and answer session with clergy last night at the Biennial Antiochian Archdiocese Clergy Symposium currently being held at Antiochian Village, Metropolitan Philip forthrightly denied widespread reports he would request the revocation of self rule for the North American Archdiocese.
The Metropolitan sought to dispel rumors, purportedly originating in the highest circles in the Antiochian Archdiocese, suggesting that the purpose of his unexpected participation in Holy Synod meeting in Damascus next month was to request revocation of self rule as a prelude to moving Bishop Mark out of Toledo and reinstating his predecessor, the disgraced Bishop Demetri (Khoury).
Reports that Fr. Michel Najim, dean of St. Nicholas Cathedral in LA (and former dean of the Balamand Seminary) had prepared a paper for presentation to the Holy Synod arguing for the legitimacy of "auxiliary bishops" only heightened fears that the Archdiocese may be about to re-enter the crisis from which it has so recently emerged.
(In 2009 Metropolitan Philip unsuccessfully attempted to reduce the diocesan bishops to auxiliaries and decommission the dioceses.)
At the meeting last night Bishop Basil of Wichita asked the Metropolitan about the rumors concerning self rule and the upcoming Holy Synod meeting. Metropolitan Philip responded decisively that he would defend the self-ruled status of the Antiochian Archdiocese stating: “It is just a rumor. I haven’t heard this on the agenda.” He continued: “I will fight for it (self-rule) with all my strength and with all my power. We have self rule and we’re going to preserve this self rule.”
According to one relieved clergyman present: "With these unequivocal statements, Metropolitan Philip has put to rest any concerns that the self rule of the Antiochian Archdiocese was at risk. He has conclusively allayed fears that were circulating among the Antiochian clergy."