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Author Topic: GOA Church Rejects EP Charter  (Read 2317 times) Average Rating: 0
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TomS
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« on: July 02, 2003, 10:18:28 AM »

FIRST GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH VOTES
AGAINST PATRIARCHATE’S CHARTER


Cleveland, June 30, 2003 - A Greek Orthodox Cathedral here passed a resolution that rejects a charter imposed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, Turkey. Although other churches are expected to follow with similar resolutions, this is the first formal resolution of its kind adopted by any church in the Greek Orthodox faith in the United States.
 
The resolution by the parishioners of Saints Constantine and Helen Cathedral was passed overwhelmingly last week at a parish assembly. The parishioners claim that the Patriarchal charter is illegal because it was soundly rejected by the Clergy/Laity Congress, the [ruling] governing body of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States, held in July, 2002. More than 800 clergy and laity delegates to the Congress rejected the proposed charter as presented. The delegates passed 30 amendments to the proposed charter to make it acceptable for the Greek Orthodox faithful in the United States. The Patriarchate disregarded those amendments and since then has imposed its charter.

The 2002 Congress delegates said the proposed charter would eliminate the rights of the laity and the clergy in the governance of the church, which have been in effect for more than 80 years, and make the church more authoritarian. The current charter, which was approved by the Patriarchal Synod in 1977, was accepted by a Clergy-Laity Congress the following year. It clearly provides that charter modifications cannot be made without the agreement of the Clergy-Laity Congress.

The Cleveland Cathedral’s resolution makes it a point to say that it continues to accept and support the Patriarch as the spiritual head of the church, but it demands that the charter be the first item on the agenda of the next Congress to be held in New York in July, 2004.

For the full text of the resolution, click on the link below:

http://www.ocl.org/
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Hypo-Ortho
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2003, 10:57:37 AM »

<sigh> More Protestant-style rebellion in the GOA.  :'(

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Mor Ephrem
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« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2003, 11:24:50 AM »

Pardon my ignorance, but I'm struggling to understand this.  On the one hand, many criticise the Ecumenical Patriarchate for coming off as wanting to be the head of the Orthodox Church, similar to the role of the Pope in the Catholic Church, instead of simply being "first among equals".  It would seem to me, granted that I am not versed in the details of this situation, that the rejection of a charter imposed from above that gives even more authority over the GOA to the EP would be something that stands up to what some would perceive to be an un-Orthodox way of doing things.  But now it is characterised as "Protestant style rebellion".  Could someone enlighten me with regards to what is actually going on here, because I'm not sure what's going on.
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« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2003, 11:35:07 AM »

Mor,

I am similarly confused by our friend Hypo's comments Smiley

Here's my take on it: The GOA is the richest and most important part of the EP. The EP has spent the last 80 years or so trying to desperately cling to whatever life it can. Therefore, the EP does what it believes will extend it's grip on it's overseas "children" for another generation (Antioch does this as well, though the situation between Antioch and the N. American Antiochians is not quite as extreme). It's sort of like the parent who gives some "freedoms" to their kids, but still keep a firm enough leash on them so that they can be pulled back at any time... and if the parent gets scared, they do indeed try to pull them back. I think the problem here is that the EP made a tactical error (when considered from a political perspective): they apparently agreed to allow the rights/authority which the GOA are now exercizing.

How you understand this situation is directly related to how you saw all these politics going into the discussion. If you (as I do) see the EP as an authoritarian (as opposed to authoritative), self-interested, worldly-minded Patriarchate, that does anything it can to maintain it's earthly power, then you will probably view the GOA as doing nothing but exercizing it's rights--rights which the EP agreed that they could have and exercize. If you see the GOA (or a vocal and influential part of the GOA) as being infected by "Protestant style beliefs" or "convert disease," then this situation will most likely appear to be immature kids (the GOA) not following what their venerable father (the EP) wants; from this perspective, the kids should submit to the authority of the father, whether they agree or can understand the father's wish or not.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2003, 11:39:39 AM by Paradosis » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2003, 11:49:45 AM »

The EP in 1977 signed an agreement that said that changes to the GOA charter could only be made by the GOA Laity. These would then be sbmitted to the EP for approval or rejection.

This is my understanding from what I have heard from other GOA members (and one of them attended the 2002 Laity congress) -- When the GOA Laity submitted the Charter to the EP from the 2002 congress, the EP ignored all the Laity changes and modified it unilaterally. Then said that it was accepted (after he modified it the way he wanted it).

----

A letter from OCA to the Patriarchs and other hierarchs asking for their support:

April 28, 2003

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

I am writing to you on behalf of the thousands of members of Orthodox Christian Laity, an organization of both laity and clergy from all Orthodox jurisdictions, who are laboring in America to promote cooperation and unity among all Orthodox Christians in order that the apostolic commission of our Holy Orthodox Church may be witnessed and fulfilled among the peoples of our nation.  

One of our beloved sister churches, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, is currently experiencing a most serious dispute between its entire membership, as formally expressed by the position put forth at its 2002 Clergy-Laity Congress, and His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.  In keeping with the long standing tradition of our Holy Orthodox Church, we are bringing this issue to your attention, prayerfully beseeching you for your assistance in finding an amicable solution to the issue, so that there be no need to ask the civil courts of the United States of America to declare a judgment in the dispute, which would be an action only taken absent a proper solution arising from within our Holy Orthodox Church.

Because this dispute is threatening the unity of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and therefore also affects and threatens the unity of all the Orthodox Churches in America, as expressed through the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA), we believe that all God-elected leaders of Christ’s Holy Orthodox Church in the world should take notice and participate in this resolution of this dispute between the Ecumenical Patriarch and the clergy/laity of the American faithful as represented by their duly elected representatives at the 2002 Clergy-Laity Congress in their deliberations on a revised charter for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

Our concern is with the manner by which the existing 1977 Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese may be amended.  The current English language text of the Charter states:

Article XXIV Revision: The charter herein may be revised upon the request of the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress as the need therefore arises.  Revisions thereto shall be submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for approval and ratification.

It should be noted that the 1977 Charter, which is the current governing instrument of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, was approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on November 29, 1977 and was subsequently voted upon and accepted by the 24th Clergy-Laity Congress on July 5, 1978.  Furthermore all three of the previous Charters of the Archdiocese - 1922, 1927, and 1931 were voted and accepted by a Clergy-Laity Congress.  Therefore we do not understand how the 1977 Charter which was approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with His All Holiness Bartholomeow as one of the signers, can now be abrogated by one party after it was approved?


While the 1977 Charter states that the English text shall “be deemed the official and legal text,” the Charter as written and approved by the Patriarchate was in the Greek language.  The transliterated Greek of Article XXIV states in pertinent part “To paron Syntagma,GǪ.ipokite eis anatheorisin ipo tis Archiepiskopis Klirikolaikis SinelefsesosGǪ.i de anatheorisis afti ipovallete pros to ikomenikon Patriarchion pros engrisin ke epikirosin.”  It is my understanding that the correct translation of these words is “The present Charter is subject to revision by the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress;GǪ. Such revision to be submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for approval and ratification.”

Beyond the specific article of dispute is the more significant spiritual issue and deeply held conviction that the apostolic mission of the Church in America is performed in the synergistic activity of all its bishops, priests, deacons and laity united in Christ and accomplishing His Holy work in harmony and peace.  Clearly, this God given tenet is being violated by the attempted imposition of a revised Charter,  that is in opposition to the prayerfully and clearly expressed charter revisions deliberated and voted upon by the duly elected representatives of the faithful at the Congress and submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for ratification and approval.

As Orthodox Christians who respect your wisdom and counsel, your God given position in His Holy Orthodox Church and your care and love of the Orthodox people residing in America, we respectfully urge you to assist us in resolving this matter.  Your reasoned judgment is important to the good order of the Church in America and therefore in the world.  We realize that you have many duties and responsibilities in this joyous season of the Resurrection of our Risen Lord, as we all now await the arrival and celebration of Pentecost.  However, we pray to our Lord, God, and Savior, the Resurrected Jesus Christ, that the full power, wisdom and action of the Holy Spirit be manifest in you by your assistance in resolving this very unfortunate and potentially harmful dispute in a most timely manner.

May we hear from you by Holy Pentecost, June 15, 2003?

We pray that the Resurrected Christ grant you many, many years!

Asking for your paternal blessing, I am

Respectfully,

Peter Haikalis, Ph.D, President
Orthodox Christian Laity

The recipients:

 The Patriarchs and other hierarchs receiving the request to offer their good council by Pentecost are:

 His Beatitude Petros VII, Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
 His Beatitude Ignatius IV,  Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
 His Beatitude Irenaeos, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine
 His Holiness Aleksy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
 His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Archbishop of Mitskheta and Tbilisi
 His Holiness Pavle Archbishop of Pech, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian Patriarch  
 His Beatitude Teoctist, Patriarch of All Romania, Locum Tenens of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Metropolitan Ungro-Vlach, Archbishop of Bucharest
 His Holiness Maksim, Patriarch of Bulgaria
 His Beatitude Chrysostomos, Archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus
 His Beatitude Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece
 His Beatitude Anastasios, Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania
 His Beatitude Sawa, Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland
 His Beatitude Nicholas, Metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia
 His Beatitude Herman, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America & Canada  

The Hierarchs of the Standing Council of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA) who also received copies of the letter are:

 His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
 His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, Vice Chairman, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
 His Eminence Metropolitan Christopher, Secretary, Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States & Canada
 His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas, Treasurer, American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the U.S.A.  
 His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Bulgarian Orthodox Church
 His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholae, Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America & Canada  
 His grace Bishop Ilia, Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America.  

 
« Last Edit: July 02, 2003, 11:51:49 AM by TomS » Logged
TomS
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2003, 11:59:31 AM »

According to "people in the know" at Orthodox Christian Laity, the next step will be to file a lawsuit to set aside the Charter..
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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2003, 12:22:40 PM »

Why would anyone want to involve secular courts in Church matters ?

james
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2003, 01:50:29 PM »

Why would anyone want to involve secular courts in Church matters ?

james

Indeed, Jakub, why? This is a sad, deplorable situation brought on by "money and power" issues unrelated to His Church. I could rage myself in fits about the whole thing. Suffice it to say, it's a lose-lose thing.
By the way, please don't take too much stock in OCL's statements. That poor group of malcontents really doesn't know what it wants; only what it doesn't. And it doesn't want the new charter's Vatican-style hierarchy imposed by the current and Vatican educated patriarch and his synod of bishops with phantom sees.
It cost nearly $2,000,000 for the last Congress. I cannot fathom why they just don't send the EP the bucks and bail out the financially troubled American archdiocese at the same time. Only Greeks could get in this sad situation - and I am one. When one considers the daunting issues facing His Church in Russia and the Ukraine, this seems absolutely sinful.
The parish property question will probably explode. Parishes own their property until they try to leave the GOA, at which point the property goes to the EP (in Turkey.) I'm sure some parish will force the issue soon.
Pray for them all.
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2003, 05:08:52 PM »

Why would anyone want to involve secular courts in Church matters ?

james

Precisely.  This is an internal Church matter between the EP and the GOA.  The OCL (*NOT* the OCA!!!) is a descendent of the group called GOAL/Voithia, which succeeded in having the traditionalist American-born Archbishop Spyridon ousted--yet he fit the bill for what they wanted to begin with.  They really want to restructure the GOA from an hierarchical church to a congregational one controlled by the laity, IMHO.  Anyway, sorry but that's the way I see it with the constant whining from the OCL.

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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2003, 05:44:36 PM »

Well Brother Hypo,

You know my back ground, but I like a Clergy/Laity input into some matters, however, the Hierarchy always reserved the right to set & interpret "policy/rules". Other wise there would be a new jurisdiction weekly or church of the month, the Protestants are a perfect example.

james

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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2003, 07:43:49 PM »

I don't know much about the history of the OCL, but sometimes I think we Americans tend to believe that representative democracy is Christian dogma. It's not.

I don't see a reason to get into a head-butting contest with the EP unless he is teaching heresy.

These power struggles are unedifying and extremely depressing to boot.
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2003, 04:01:52 PM »

These lay popes with fat pocketbooks had better cool it or they might well find themselves outside the Church. Schemes from these folks have already cost the Archdiocese an excellent Archbishop who would not play their game. The majority of the laity in the Archdiocese are tired of these power struggles and are loosing patience with this kind of thing.

Michael  Embarrassed
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« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2003, 07:00:53 PM »

These lay popes with fat pocketbooks had better cool it or they might well find themselves outside the Church. Schemes from these folks have already cost the Archdiocese an excellent Archbishop who would not play their game. The majority of the laity in the Archdiocese are tired of these power struggles and are loosing patience with this kind of thing.
Michael  Embarrassed

Michael,
You are sooooooo right! But the EP needs some better political skills. His still unexplained reaction to Ligonier in 1994(?) is perhaps the root cause.
My yia-yia would box my ears for even writing the above statement!

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« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2003, 08:49:40 PM »

Well Brother Hypo,

You know my back ground, but I like a Clergy/Laity input into some matters, however, the Hierarchy always reserved the right to set & interpret "policy/rules". Other wise there would be a new jurisdiction weekly or church of the month, the Protestants are a perfect example.

One of the reasons my the Presbyterians are able to keep their clergy in line is that the clergy have no say in their hierarchy.
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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2003, 09:29:36 PM »

Quote

Michael,
You are sooooooo right! But the EP needs some better political skills. His still unexplained reaction to Ligonier in 1994(?) is perhaps the root cause.
My yia-yia would box my ears for even writing the above statement!

Demetri
Quote

Thanks Demetri.
I do agree that the Patriarch should rethink his public relations philosophy, and might consider reassigning some of the questionable characters he is now surrounded with.
The future of our Archdiocese belongs to those who fill their lives and communities with faith and love, not with those who would like to use their cash to run the show.

Michael
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