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Author Topic: Strictness for Priests?  (Read 9015 times) Average Rating: 0
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BrotherAidan
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« on: January 31, 2007, 01:00:43 AM »

I think all jurisdictions, as well as various Christian denominations should limit "conversions" to once per decade and not receive anyone, though they beg, cry, volunteer fortunes, threaten self-destruction, and most importantly, though they be talented individuals that the church bodies could put to good use, nonetheless, if they don't pass the 10 year test where they already are, no deal. Come talk to us in however many remaining years. And then you better have a real good, well reasoned and responsible reason for making this proposed switch.

And I would recommend this legalistically and rigidly. No spiritual father, no clairvoyant monk, no hierarch, could over-ride this rule.
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2007, 09:13:55 PM »

I think all jurisdictions, as well as various Christian denominations should limit "conversions" to once per decade and not receive anyone, though they beg, cry, volunteer fortunes, threaten self-destruction, and most importantly, though they be talented individuals that the church bodies could put to good use, nonetheless, if they don't pass the 10 year test where they already are, no deal. Come talk to us in however many remaining years. And then you better have a real good, well reasoned and responsible reason for making this proposed switch.

And I would recommend this legalistically and rigidly. No spiritual father, no clairvoyant monk, no hierarch, could over-ride this rule.

If money were never a consideration (and, for many Christian denoms, even the Orthodox Church, unfortunately, it is), this would be a great rule.  Get one of the hierarchs from the GOA, OCA to propose it at the next NCC meeting (we Antiochians aren't a part of it anymore; thanks be to God!) and see where it goes.  I'd just like to see the various delegates go on record about this one. Cheesy

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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2007, 10:41:11 PM »

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it is equally wrong for Orthodox to cry sour grapes

Nobody is disparaging Catholics here.  That would be sour grapes.

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If you can't wish him well, offer him your prayers, if you can't do that then you shouldn't say anything

I absolutely disagree and I see no point in muzzling the discussion.  When a priest leaves the church and renounces his orders, people (especially those affected by the situation), deserve an explanation and an understanding of what brought that about.

Quote
I think all jurisdictions, as well as various Christian denominations should limit "conversions" to once per decade and not receive anyone, though they beg, cry, volunteer fortunes, threaten self-destruction, and most importantly, though they be talented individuals that the church bodies could put to good use, nonetheless, if they don't pass the 10 year test where they already are, no deal. Come talk to us in however many remaining years. And then you better have a real good, well reasoned and responsible reason for making this proposed switch.

BrotherAidan, I understand your suggestion, but for lay people I don't think I agree.  We live in a free society, and people should be able to move around as they please.  It certainly makes sense for churches to impose some reasonable limits such as saying one must be a member for a certain period of time to serve on the church board, etc.

I think however it's different in the case of priests.  There I think the church should be much more cautious, and maybe this will serve as a future warning.  I mentioned that all of this reminds me of a priest I knew that renounced his orders (he too had given up a permanent assignment to become a supply priest in the process).  Ultimately he simply left the church, which I think may have been the right step (at least the part about returning to being a lay person).  It was obvious he couldn't manage his own spiritual life and was all over the map .  He certainly had no business overseeing anyone else's spiritual life.

Someone said on Byzcath he can bring a lot to them (the BCC).  All I can say is be careful what you wish for, you may get it, and I remain amazed they gave him his faculties as a priest.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2007, 10:42:12 PM by welkodox » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2007, 10:56:42 PM »

Andrew,

I have noticed that certain personalities who have entered the priesthood have caused alot of spiritual damage in their wake. There seems to be a patttern many of these men have with obedience to authority (the bishop). Another aspect is their ablity to bring many people into the faith through their personal charisma and insights. People should be aware that some of these men may be bi-polar. I have a relative with this disease. When he is riding high he will convince you that anything is possible and that he some grand schemes that are sure to bring him fame, money, etc. But then when he starts his descent downward he will quit is job and start another project, get another job etc. One Antiochian priest followed a similar pattern. He has now been a member of every major jurisdiction in the country. I think we need to accept the fact we need to have some kind of screening process before we ordain a man. Besides background checks I would think psychological tests should help identify any problems.
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2007, 11:16:12 PM »

I think we need to accept the fact we need to have some kind of screening process before we ordain a man. Besides background checks I would think psychological tests should help identify any problems.

At least in the GOA for the past four years, a psychological evaluation is required for every ordination candidate specifically to try to limit the potential damage that some priests may give to others, as well as to help those who need such help (yes, some candidates at Holy Cross were identified for future psychological care through this process...)
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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2007, 11:36:25 PM »

How would his parishioners benefit if he no longer believed in Orthodoxy but still shepherded them out of a feeling of obligation?

Nobody anywhere has suggested that.  In reality it's a no win situation for his former flock.

Quote
I mean, what has he done other than decide to change churches?

If somebody wants to go on a spiritual quest, that's their business.  When you take other people along for the ride, that's a problem.  When those who should no better allow that to happen, it's even worse.
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2007, 11:42:28 PM »

At least in the GOA for the past four years, a psychological evaluation is required for every ordination candidate specifically to try to limit the potential damage that some priests may give to others, as well as to help those who need such help (yes, some candidates at Holy Cross were identified for future psychological care through this process...)

And an unfortunate legacy of the Antiochians is that many priests (including Fr. Mack) are ordained through the St. Stephen program, as opposed to submitting to the scrutiny of attending an actual seminary, let alone a psychological exam. I do credit the Greeks for looking at their future priests with more care.
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2007, 11:44:31 PM »

If somebody wants to go on a spiritual quest, that's their business.  When you take other people along for the ride, that's a problem.  When those who should no better allow that to happen, it's even worse.

But, ultimately, everyone has a choice to make...these people arn't 'taken' along for the ride, they voluntarily go. That's one of the great blessings and great curses of living in a free society...responsibility.
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2007, 11:52:49 PM »

The fool who believed him is as much at fault as the man who preached this nonsense.

A reality of life is that some people for various reasons can fall sway to those in power and authority.  What happens to them may appear to be foolish, but the fact is we don't discount them as fools (at least the people who take seriously that they are spiritual shepherds which you and I are not).  We live in a free society, but we also recognize some people in a free society need protection, and allowing them to be taken for a ride is not acceptable.

Also along the lines of people willingly following along - I would guess many people had no idea what they were getting, and may have left when the found out.  They didn't go along, which is as much a tragedy.
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« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2007, 12:05:30 AM »

A reality of life is that some people for various reasons can fall sway to those in power and authority.

It is also a reality of life that some people for various reasons abuse power and authority...the fact that it's a reality of life doesn't make it any less wrong and sinful.

Quote
What happens to them may appear to be foolish, but the fact is we don't discount them as fools (at least the people who take seriously that they are spiritual shepherds which you and I are not).  We live in a free society, but we also recognize some people in a free society need protection, and allowing them to be taken for a ride is not acceptable.

I fear that I take no one who claims to be a spiritual shepherd seriously...which is a completely different fault. And while I do not like seeing people 'taken for a ride,' ultimately, they are adults and they can make their own decisions. There comes a point where you must think for yourself, and if you dont there can be serious consequences...again, it's called responsibility, you have to give it to people at some point.

Quote
Also along the lines of people willingly following along - I would guess many people had no idea what they were getting, and may have left when the found out.  They didn't go along, which is as much a tragedy.

When someone start's saying that obience to him is more importance than obedience to God...you have two choices, either condemn this man for the heretic he is or make him your God...ultimately that's what his followers did, made him their God...they are idolaters by their own choice
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« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2007, 12:16:23 AM »

Quote
ultimately, they are adults and they can make their own decisions.

GiC, bishops have to consider there are people in all states.  Some are not adults, and children suffer equally in situations like this.  Ultimately bishops should do their utmost to protect their flocks, because the trust between a parishioner and a priest is great.  None of that obviates personal responsibility.

-----

One thing I think that is worth considering are two posts made at the start of the thread by a self-stated parishioner of the mission

Quote
Oh my Lord have mercy upon me and save me!!!
  Father Mack brought my family into the church. He was my priest ( in Lawrence ,KS.)
He remains and always will be my brother in Christ.
 I am deeply bitter about his departure from Orthodoxy as he was forced out of the church the details of which involve long standing vendetas from the Antiochions and pressure applied on the OCA by said Antiochions and has caused me to withdraw from regular church attendence.  It is a long and very sad story and a demonstration of why there will never be a United church in America.
 As my Greek friend said when I told him about Fr. John leaving the church  ..." This is a huge loss to the Orthodox faith."
  I was the Parish Council President when he resigned . What I state is fact as I saw it unfold.
I make no apologies for stating the truth . He was forced out .

Quote
I saw that thread and thought about posting but withheld. I am going to irritate a lot of people on this forum ( as most of you know , I am the least articulate here and can`t spell to save my life) but .....
   High placed Antiochians in Wichita KS. (St. George`s) had issues with Fr.John dating back to his days as an Antiochian Priest. I am not famliar with the details, though I do know that his critics continued to conspire against him.
  So, I`m going to break it down.....The OCA is in a SEVERE financial crisis.....The Antiochians have money...LOTS of money.....in exchange for certain favors, the Antiochians donated a considerable amount of monetary support to the OCA......
 Father John was an awesome Priest and brilliant articlulater of the faith and did not deserve to be sacrificed by the by Met. Herman in order to save himself. For this reason alone, Met. Herman should resign.....oh yeah...there`s that money thing too

My comment was it sounds like the OCA and Antiochians are like the Mafia.  Either that is the case, or some terribly misleading ideas were floating around.  I'm assuming the person in question got these ideas from somewhere.  Balance this forced out/vendetta statement with the "just leaving cause of sectarianism/following conscience" thing.    Then take in to account what Corsair is saying.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2007, 12:17:31 AM by welkodox » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2007, 02:48:56 AM »

Tamara:  an Orthodox friend of mine, only 25 or 26, told me that he was recently diagnosed as being bipolar.  He said that he also wants to be a priest.  He says that the bipolar claim is really only a label attached to some crazy behavior he's had in the past of staying of a few days straight.  I feel for him.  He seems to be really nice and genuine - even someone I'd trust a female friend or even relative to marry (THAT'S tough for a guy).  I feel that his journey could get quashed by being knowingly bipolar.  Just thought I'd share since you'd brought it up.

Others:  so what the heck is a "sectarian" supposed to be?
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« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2007, 03:25:26 AM »

This is to be a continuation on the sub-topic that had formed in the Father John Mack thread.

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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2007, 09:33:29 AM »

At least in the GOA for the past four years, a psychological evaluation is required for every ordination candidate specifically to try to limit the potential damage that some priests may give to others, as well as to help those who need such help (yes, some candidates at Holy Cross were identified for future psychological care through this process...)

Is the GOA the only jurisdiction doing this?
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« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2007, 10:04:08 AM »

To be a priest, you have to be a little crazy.  No wonder the GOA seems to be short some priest.
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« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2007, 10:10:36 AM »

To be a priest, you have to be a little crazy.  No wonder the GOA seems to be short some priest.

I don't quite get the nature of this comment.
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« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2007, 11:26:08 AM »

At least in the GOA for the past four years, a psychological evaluation is required for every ordination candidate specifically to try to limit the potential damage that some priests may give to others, as well as to help those who need such help (yes, some candidates at Holy Cross were identified for future psychological care through this process...)


Well, I know for a fact that candidates for ordination in the GOA have had to take fairly extensive psychological tests (circa 4 to 6 hours) from an Archdiocesan approved psychologist for at least 10 years (since the very beginning of the Spyridon years). I wouldn't be at all surprised if His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos also required such tests, but I don't know firsthand.

What is "new" in the last four years is that first-year seminarians also have to take the tests. This allows for earlier detection and, possibly, help where it is needed.
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« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2007, 11:31:10 AM »

Is the GOA the only jurisdiction doing this?

Well, pensate beat me to the answer.  I do not believe that Iakovos required the tests, however - he judged himself a very good measure of character and ability.
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« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2007, 11:36:11 AM »

I don't quite get the nature of this comment.
It's just a little levity or tongue in cheek- made me laugh anyway.  As far as I know, the Greeks are the only ones who seem to have trouble getting priest; they are also the only ones who have psychological evaluations performed on those who want to be priest.
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2007, 11:55:03 AM »

As far as I know, the Greeks are the only ones who seem to have trouble getting priest...

I think the numbers tell a different story. Regardless, the single biggest reason why there would be more trouble (if there actually is) is because the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese does not ordain as priests men who have not graduated from an accredited Orthodox theological school. Thus, the standard (and sacrifice) required is much greater. One can't depend solely on one's other theological degrees or even on years of pastoral experience in another non-Orthodox Church. He must leave home, job -- possibly even family -- for anywhere from two to four years, and enter a difficult environment, fraught with temptation and spiritual challenge. He must be willing to put aside all his previous knowledge and experience and submit to instruction as if he were little more than a neophyte.

This is particularly significant because so many vocations (in all jurisdictions and even in various denominations) are coming later in life. If one is in such a situation (older, established, with bills to pay and a family to feed), it's much easier to take a correspondence course or even get chrismated and ordained on the same day.
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« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2007, 11:59:20 AM »

I think the numbers tell a different story. Regardless, the single biggest reason why there would be more trouble (if there actually is) is because the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese does not ordain as priests men who have not graduated from an accredited Orthodox theological school. Thus, the standard (and sacrifice) required is much greater. One can't depend solely on one's other theological degrees or even on years of pastoral experience in another non-Orthodox Church. He must leave home, job -- possibly even family -- for anywhere from two to four years, and enter a difficult environment, fraught with temptation and spiritual challenge. He must be willing to put aside all his previous knowledge and experience and submit to instruction as if he were little more than a neophyte.

This is particularly significant because so many vocations (in all jurisdictions and even in various denominations) are coming later in life. If one is in such a situation (older, established, with bills to pay and a family to feed), it's much easier to take a correspondence course or even get chrismated and ordained on the same day.

Well, kinda...there are, of course, many ways around said requirement...depending on the Bishop, of course.
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« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2007, 12:11:10 PM »

Elisha,

When my relative is on his medication he is just fine and I have allowed him to babysit my boys. There are different levels of severity with bipolar disease. Some function very well on the medicines with therapy but others struggle their whole lives. Some will never stay on the medicine so they continue to have cycles of mania and depression which tend to get worse each time they go off the medicine. This cycle leads to a very unstable lifestyle. Many bipolar patients become drug-users or alcoholics, some spend money extravagently until they are bankrupt. Thank God my relative is not an alcoholic or drug-user but even so, his cycles of being on the medicine and then off again have lead to a very unstable lifestyle for him. The ups and downs of these cycles can be extemely hard on a spouse and children so I would imagine it would be very hard on parishioners if a priest had this condition. I wouldn't say a man with bipolar disease shouldn't be a priest but it is definitely something the bishop should know about before he decides to ordain him.
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« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2007, 12:12:30 PM »

Well, kinda...there are, of course, many ways around said requirement...depending on the Bishop, of course.

Sure, some bishops are more strict than others, but I think you should re-read what I wrote. I know of a case where someone with extenuating circumstances and lots of experience didn't get another M.Div., but he still got a degree. Perhaps a true exception to this rule exists, but I know of no priest who was ordained by the GOA without a degree from some approved Orthodox school/seminary (in the U.S. or abroad).

As you well know, there are currently many men at Holy Cross right now who fit this profile, and the standard is so common that it obviously influences many potential ordinand’s plans. The details and (alleged) exceptions are irrelevant if the aggregate still produces a noticeable effect.
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« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2007, 12:31:50 PM »

Two things come to my mind when thinking about this issue.

One is that I think we need to consider the importance of the diaconate in priestly formation.  I would say especially for someone outside the church who comes in, even if they were previously ordained.  They should spend time in the diaconate first.  Obviously that would not be the case when it comes to changing jurisdictions, which leads to my other thought.

That is the situation that spawned all of this is to me a glaring example of the problem of our jurisdictional fragmentation, and that there is a system that has evolved that can be worked or exploited.  Maybe this whole thing would not have been avoided, but I can’t help but believe that maybe it could have been.  Especially vis-à-vis being able to put half a country between oneself and a bishop.
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« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2007, 12:44:41 PM »

Two things come to my mind when thinking about this issue.

One is that I think we need to consider the importance of the diaconate in priestly formation.  I would say especially for someone outside the church who comes in, even if they were previously ordained.  They should spend time in the diaconate first.  Obviously that would not be the case when it comes to changing jurisdictions, which leads to my other thought.

That is the situation that spawned all of this is to me a glaring example of the problem of our jurisdictional fragmentation, and that there is a system that has evolved that can be worked or exploited.  Maybe this whole thing would not have been avoided, but I can’t help but believe that maybe it could have been.  Especially vis-à-vis being able to put half a country between oneself and a bishop.




Oh Andrew...you are so right. Our fragmentation causes so many problems. Jurisdiction hopping along with the fact  that some jurisdictions have a priest shortage guarantees these problems will continue. This situation can be aggravated when bishops in the same region refuse to communicate with one another.
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« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2007, 02:02:23 PM »

Sure, some bishops are more strict than others, but I think you should re-read what I wrote. I know of a case where someone with extenuating circumstances and lots of experience didn't get another M.Div., but he still got a degree. Perhaps a true exception to this rule exists, but I know of no priest who was ordained by the GOA without a degree from some approved Orthodox school/seminary (in the U.S. or abroad).

I can't think of any specific example of an actual ordination by a GOA bishop without some formal orthodox education, but I know of two instances where a Greek Bishop transfered someone who lacked any formal orthodox education for the express purpose of Ordination, after which they were given a canonical transfer back to the Jurisdiction of the Greek Bishop...an easy way to get around the requirements of the eparchial synod.
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« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2007, 02:18:45 PM »

[quoteAnd an unfortunate legacy of the Antiochians is that many priests (including Fr. Mack) are ordained through the St. Stephen program, as opposed to submitting to the scrutiny of attending an actual seminary, let alone a psychological exam. I do credit the Greeks for looking at their future priests with more care.][/quote]

Corsair, when you are on a campaign to grow a jurisdiction at all costs some standards invariably fall by the wayside. This to some extent is the failings of business and it is my opinion that the AOC is run more like a business than a church. As a result you have priest being ordained that do not have the necessary skill set to be a good priest. I know. I was in an AOC church that suffered as such. The priest was schooled in a Presbyterian seminary and then just went through St. Stephens.  Go figure.
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« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2007, 11:59:19 PM »

I am always amazed that mental illnesses, so labelled are taken as concrete fact.  What's the test for schizophrenia.   "Do you have a split personality?"  Answer; "yes and no".

Are priests not allowed to get depressed?  Are they not supposed to have spiritual struggles like the rest of us?  A hedonistic society doesn't want any unpleasantness.  I hope those psycho tests are not the same as for ADD and the new OCD nonsense.
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« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2007, 12:08:18 AM »

Dear Friends:

The only person responsible for John Mack's actions is ... John Mack. It is unseemly to try to blame others for his choice to leave the church.

We are created with free will. Sometimes, people we love and respect act in ways we neither understand nor approve.

John Mack's true reasons for leaving are, and I suspect, will remain his own. The explanation offered on the Byzantine Catholic web site is as improbable as the story he told his parishioners in Lawrence. ' I'm leaving the Orthodox church to cure myself of being a Protestant ' is as silly as ' The Lebanese mafia forced me to do it ' Frankly, his reasons are irrelevant. What is relevant, and reprehensible, is that he lied to his parishioners and slandered innocent people in order to justify his actions.


I think we've given John Mack enough of our attention already. We need not spend any more brain power trying to figure out what went wrong, nor do we need to second guess our bishops. It is true that many of our convert clergy came into the priesthood with little formal preparation. But, overall, can we say that those clergy have performed worse than our usual clergy, who underwent the usual training ? The fact is that every jurisdiction has had its embarrassments. It is true that Metropolitan Phillip has been more willing to take a chance on convert clergy. The majority of those have performed faithfully and without scandal. We need to not lose sight of the big picture. It is far too easy to take pot shots at the bishops.

Several years ago, I watched a television interview with one of the Metropolitans of the Moscow Patriarchate. When he was asked about the compromises made during the communist times, he answered:
" Öf course there we made mistakes. The only way to never make a mistake is to do nothing, and that may be the biggest mistake of all. "  I think that there is true wisdom in that statement.

Instead of always criticizing each other, we should support each other and pray for one another. That is the true way to heal the church's troubles and divisions.

Best wishes to all for the coming Holy Fast,

Francis Frost
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« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2007, 06:34:34 AM »

I am always amazed that mental illnesses, so labelled are taken as concrete fact.  What's the test for schizophrenia.   "Do you have a split personality?"  Answer; "yes and no".
observer,
Psychological profiling does not simply test for mental illness. There are many people who may not have a diagnosable mental illness, yet who are psychologically unfit for certain positions, including the priesthood. Someone with poor coping skills may not be mentally ill, but you wouldn't send them up in a Space Shuttle.
As for mental illness, in some cases, there are specific tests, but all diagnoses of mental illness require that certain criteria are met. By the way, schizophrenia and "split personality" (more correctly, "Multiple Personality Disorder") are two completely different illnesses. Schizophrenia is a psychosis, "Multiple Personality Disorder" is a neurosis.

frost,
This thread isn't actually about Fr. Mack.
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« Reply #30 on: February 02, 2007, 08:29:06 AM »

Frost:

You have good points. It is easy to play Monday Morning Quarterback when you're not actually playing in the game.
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« Reply #31 on: February 02, 2007, 10:15:14 AM »

On a related note, I'm becoming a big believer in generally making all converts fulfill the entire catechumate (three years minimum, isn't it?)  I think it's only because  mangled ideas have prevailed amongst many Orthodox (and sadly, many adult converts to Orthodoxy) about just what it is to be a Christian (and just what it means to be a participant in the Holy Mysteries.)  There's kind of a "Roman Catholic" idea in a lot of folk's heads, that if they're not able to approach the Chalice (or in stricter practice, not being allowed to attend the Holy Oblation in the Divine Liturgy, which I'd actually like to see "brought back" as it re-enforces an important truth), they're simply spinning their wheels and not going about anything spiritually important.  That idea has to get pushed out of people's minds.  "Liturgy" is a big idea, and rightly encompasses far more than the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and it's all very important.  This is why when catechumen complain that they are not able to go to Holy Communion, I cannot help but sense a failure on the part of their pastors and mentors in properly instructing them.

It's well known that most adult converts to Orthodoxy come from some other "Christian tradition."  While it's true that there has commonly been some leniency in receiving people from heterodoxy in terms of the length of their preparation for Baptism (esp. when it comes to "corporate conversions"), I think the belief that this still applies today is misguided, since that leniency reflected a very different set of circumstances.  Save perhaps the anti-Chalcedonians and some of the Uniates, the "church life" of most religious westerners (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) is now so alien to Orthodoxy on a theoretical and practical level, that the idea that it's a "shorter jump" for them to come to Orthodoxy than for someone who is from another kind of background (non-religious upbringing, Muslim, Jew, etc.) is incorrect.

btw. St.Paul warned against the danger of "laying hands" upon a neophyte.  Much like maturity in other areas, I'm inclined to believe that this warning does not only include those "who have been Orthodox for less than X number of years."

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« Reply #32 on: February 02, 2007, 10:50:09 AM »

Are priests not allowed to get depressed?  Are they not supposed to have spiritual struggles like the rest of us?  A hedonistic society doesn't want any unpleasantness.  I hope those psycho tests are not the same as for ADD and the new OCD nonsense.

Should the tests reveal a tendency to depression, it would not necessarily constitute an impediment to ordination. But the tests could, of course, reveal significant problems that may constitute an impediment, e.g. alcohol and/or drug abuse, a history of physical or sexual abuse, etc.

At any rate, why would it be bad for the Church leadership to know an ordinand had a certain struggle? Not only does such provide transparency in deciding whether or not an ordinand has an impediment, it also provides better opportunities for addressing and healing said struggle.

Further, a standard battery of psychological tests gives the Church leadership, including one's ordaining bishop, a number of important insights that have little -- if anything -- to do with diagnosing psychoses. From the tests, the bishop can learn about the ordinand's personality type, strengths, weaknesses, social coping skills, sense of self, leadership characteristics, ability to handle conflict, etc. -- all of which allow the bishop to better decide where the ordinand needs further mentoring, oversight or, perhaps, where the ordinand already possesses certain characteristics that could be put to use in the Church immediately.
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« Reply #33 on: February 02, 2007, 12:06:42 PM »

There have been several comments on this topic relating to  the St. Stephens Program at the Antiochian House of Studies that I believe need to be clarified.

The St Stephen's Course in Orthodox Theology is but on of several programs at the Antiochian House of Studies:

1. The St. Stephen's Course in Orthodox Theology - a distance education-based, non-degree program. Aimed at introducing practicing and future church workers to the richness of Orthodox theology. Reading courses are mentored by mail, while local clergy provide auxiliary support and praxis for the student.  Three one week courses are required at the Residency Program for St. Stephen's students.  Graduates will receive the St. Stephen's Diploma. 
      a. It is a requirement that former Clergy from Heterodox communions that convert to Orthodoxy and wish to be ordained have to go to St Stephens Program as per Metropolitan Philips directions so they may take their theological education (most if not all of these former Clergy have Theological degrees from Heterodox Seminaries who often have Orthodox Priests on their faculties teaching Patristics, Greek, and early Church History) and mold it or correct it along Orthodox standards.
      b. Not all who attend the St Stephens Program are studying to become  members of the clergy.  There are programs that include studies in Youth Ministry and Church Education as well.
      c. All of my instructor/mentors at St Stephen's Program have been noted Orthodox Scholars and authors often teaching at St Tikhon's and St Vladimir's Seminary. Their comments on my written papers have been very edifying and corrective when non-orthodox thought has come in to play within  my papers. They have also been available for private discussions via e-mail and telephone as needed. 

2.The Masters Degree in Applied Orthodox Theology- a formal degree program in cooperation with the St. John of Damascus School of Theology of the University of Balamand.  Leads to a Master of Arts in Applied Orthodox Theology, which is accredited by the Government of Lebanon, and is awarded by the University of Balamand.  Requires the St. Stephen's Diploma, the completion of a Master's Thesis, and one additional pastoral project.  A new concentration in Youth Ministry is now being offered.

3.The Doctor of Ministry Program- an intensive program conducted in academic partnership with Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Available to those who have acquired a Master of Divinity (M. Div.) degree and have served in a full time ministry for at least three years following graduation from seminary. This program leads to an accredited Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) degree.

4. The Residency Program- a residency-based, intensive program, aimed at practical issues within the theological training received by seminarians and St. Stephen's students. The Residency Program provides face-to-face training for recent and soon-to-be candidates for ordination.

5.The Clergy Symposium- a biennial conference for all clergy of the Archdiocese. Provides a forum for both theory and praxis in the ministry of the priesthood.

I have seen much valued fruit come from the Antiochian policies that do develope good Orthodox leadership. Perhaps one needs to see the whole picture of training and continuing education before we throw the AOA out the window as ill educated and prepared to serve the Church. BTW, at least one Antiochian Bishop who is seen as a great pastor and leader is the product of conversion from the Protestant Church and studies the the Antiochian House of Studies programs. Who knows what valuable American born Orthodox Church Leaders will come from these programs in the future in the future

In Christ,
Thomas


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« Reply #34 on: February 02, 2007, 12:49:59 PM »

Perhaps this quote from Father John Abdulla of the Antiochian Archdiocese is  a better cite for this forum question:

After loving one another, we need to learn real obedience.  Such obedience cannot be reduced to blind adherence to every whim of authority figures.  Christian obedience involves church leaders and faithful alike seeking to understand God, and then in a loving and trusting relationship, relate that which will bring the other into a better understanding of God's presence and will.  All in the Church must be accountable to each other.  Spiritual gifts are not reserved for clergy.  God works in all who put Christ on and embrace God.  We Christians must always be first obedient to God, and then seek God's direction for each other.  This is a sacred responsibility shared by the shepherds and the reason-endowed Christians together.

In Christ,
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« Reply #35 on: February 03, 2007, 12:30:07 PM »

There have been several comments on this topic relating to  the St. Stephens Program at the Antiochian House of Studies that I believe need to be clarified.

The St Stephen's Course in Orthodox Theology is but on of several programs at the Antiochian House of Studies:

1. The St. Stephen's Course in Orthodox Theology - a distance education-based, non-degree program. Aimed at introducing practicing and future church workers to the richness of Orthodox theology. Reading courses are mentored by mail, while local clergy provide auxiliary support and praxis for the student.  Three one week courses are required at the Residency Program for St. Stephen's students.  Graduates will receive the St. Stephen's Diploma. 
      a. It is a requirement that former Clergy from Heterodox communions that convert to Orthodoxy and wish to be ordained have to go to St Stephens Program as per Metropolitan Philips directions so they may take their theological education (most if not all of these former Clergy have Theological degrees from Heterodox Seminaries who often have Orthodox Priests on their faculties teaching Patristics, Greek, and early Church History) and mold it or correct it along Orthodox standards.

[snip]

I have seen much valued fruit come from the Antiochian policies that do develope good Orthodox leadership. Perhaps one needs to see the whole picture of training and continuing education before we throw the AOA out the window as ill educated and prepared to serve the Church. BTW, at least one Antiochian Bishop who is seen as a great pastor and leader is the product of conversion from the Protestant Church and studies the the Antiochian House of Studies programs. Who knows what valuable American born Orthodox Church Leaders will come from these programs in the future in the future

I'm not sure what all of the other elements of the Antiochian House of Studies has to do with the basic point that  non-Orthodox clergy are prepared to serve the Antiochian church by going through the St. Stephen's Course. By it's very nature, the St. Stephen's Course is still essentially a correspondence course and what one mainly gains is book knowledge.

I would argue that the formation of clergy is far more than book knowledge, regardless of who is reading one's papers. There is something to be said for forming clergy in seminary--an explicitly Orthodox environment in which the future priest lives in for 3-4 years before being ordained.
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« Reply #36 on: February 03, 2007, 12:44:00 PM »

Dear Corsair,

I have to agree with your comment. Unfortunately there are too many former whatever clergy at least in the Antiochian Archdiocese that have as their claim to Orthodox formation the Saint Stephen's Program. Maybe if the hierarchy was not in a rush to bring these clergy and their communities into the church, they would have the proper formation time in a proper setting.

Friar Tuck
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« Reply #37 on: February 05, 2007, 12:03:21 PM »

Corsair & Friar Tuck

And why then is the AOC in such a rush to ordain clergy and bring in their respective communities?

Can I be so bold as to say it surrounds money!  More parishes hence more cash and all know that former Protestants are more likely to give financially as that is how they were trained in their former churches.

Follow the money trail my friends!  Undecided
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« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2007, 09:30:41 AM »

...follow the money trail is correct. Most Greek parishes are large and can support a full time priest. Many Antiochian one's cannot. Therefore, many men could not afford to attend the seminary and then get paid a very small salary. Is this an indictment of their faith? No, it is just a reality.

If one looks at the official Antiochian policy and the printed and spoken desires of her bishops, going to seminary (even for converts) is encouraged for those who want to be ordained. In fact, rarely are converts who were not clergy before ordained anymore if they don't go to seminary.

While the St. Stephen's program is very good, it does lack any sense or mentorship or liturgics. One should be apprenticed to an established priest if he is in this program. Technically, this should be one's parish priest but if he is an unsure convert as well, then you have trouble.  One other concerns is that I have never heard of any who was ordained after being in St. Stephen's having been required to take a psychological test or even a criminal background check. Those things should be done.

Basil

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« Reply #39 on: February 06, 2007, 10:26:27 PM »

In my immediate experience, I have come across 2 priests and 1 deacon who are graduates of the St. Stephen's Course...all are outstanding clergymen. I believe the St. Stephen's Course assumes an active life in the parish, mentored by your father-confessor for its students.  Granted, the course doesn't provide hands-on liturgical experience and what-not, but that can be learned in the parish by watching the priest, asking questions, serving in the altar, chanting, etc... for those who for whatever reason do not attend an established Orthodox seminary.
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« Reply #40 on: February 07, 2007, 10:49:46 PM »

As one who attended a protestant seminary and received a M.Div. degree, I must say that seminaries mostly produce young men filled mostly with book knowledge and not much else (other than themselves). The St. Stephen's course can't take the only hit there.

I have not been to St. Vlads, St. Tikhons, or Holy Cross, so I can't comment. I would imagine that the temptation to hubris is greater coming out of one of those institutions (just like it is from a protestant seminary) than from a "correspondence" course.

I personally think that priests should be made to apprentice for a couple years as a reader or sub-deacon; then go to a campus for intense theological studies for a year, then go back to working under a mentor and complete the rest of their "book" training on-line. Do that for a couple of years before submitting them to the rigors of ministry as an ordained priest.

For convert priests, some time could be granted for years of pastoral experience and for some of their theological training, but they might have to work a secular job for a couple years while they are mentored.

Of course, then we might never get any new priests!
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« Reply #41 on: February 07, 2007, 11:39:07 PM »

As one who attended a protestant seminary and received a M.Div. degree, I must say that seminaries mostly produce young men filled mostly with book knowledge and not much else (other than themselves). The St. Stephen's course can't take the only hit there.

The Orthodox solved that problem...the whole 'knowledge' component has been cut out. Now they're just full of themselves and not much else. Not that I think your plan would be a substantial improvement...most seminarians come full of themselves, no training is required for that.
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« Reply #42 on: February 07, 2007, 11:46:30 PM »

The Orthodox solved that problem...the whole 'knowledge' component has been cut out. Now they're just full of themselves and not much else. Not that I think your plan would be a substantial improvement...most seminarians come full of themselves, no training is required for that.

Case in point, the person I am quoting...but I digress.
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« Reply #43 on: February 07, 2007, 11:47:18 PM »

The Orthodox solved that problem...the whole 'knowledge' component has been cut out. Now they're just full of themselves and not much else. Not that I think your plan would be a substantial improvement...most seminarians come full of themselves, no training is required for that.

Just for the record, you attended Holy Cross, didn't you, O Sith Lord? Wink
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« Reply #44 on: February 07, 2007, 11:48:47 PM »

Just for the record, you attended Holy Cross, didn't you, O Sith Lord? Wink

I beat you by 48 seconds....hah!
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