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Author Topic: Excommunications of Ben Lomond  (Read 12213 times) Average Rating: 0
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BasilCan
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« on: April 28, 2008, 10:52:38 PM »

The alcohol at the Pachal celebrations brings out the strangest questions........

Anyways, over 10 years ago a number of clergy at the Antiochian parish in Ben Lomond California where severely excommunicated (they were defrocked and banned from the sacraments) Now, my reading of the canons indicates an Orthodox can only be punished one degree. For example, a man who knowingly and publically commits adultery is excommunicated (band from the sacraments of the church) until he repents. A priest in a similar situation is laicized (becomes a layman) but can still come to communion. Am I correct on this? If so, how was the double penalty of the Ben Lomond clergy justified?

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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2008, 11:04:13 PM »

The alcohol at the Pachal celebrations brings out the strangest questions........

Anyways, over 10 years ago a number of clergy at the Antiochian parish in Ben Lomond California where severely excommunicated (they were defrocked and banned from the sacraments) Now, my reading of the canons indicates an Orthodox can only be punished one degree. For example, a man who knowingly and publically commits adultery is excommunicated (band from the sacraments of the church) until he repents. A priest in a similar situation is laicized (becomes a layman) but can still come to communion. Am I correct on this? If so, how was the double penalty of the Ben Lomond clergy justified?

Basil 

I'm not going to comment on the situation, as I have insufficient information and background knowledge to do so.  However if a clergyman is accused of multiple simultaneous offenses, then defrocking and excommunication can indeed be handed down at the same time.
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2008, 11:05:35 PM »

Do you really want to know?  lol.  Is there any way you could clarify your question?  A priest in general is subject to the same penal laws as any other orthodox christian, but the punishments are in greater degree for priests.  For example, they can be suspended and told to not recieve communion = excommunication, just like with a "regular person" but at the same time if they do something REALLY bad then they can be defrocked.  A lay person cannot be defrocked...

I am not sure if that was helpful...

I will look into it more.  Think about reframing your question.  
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2008, 11:21:01 PM »

Do you really want to know?  lol.  Is there any way you could clarify your question?  A priest in general is subject to the same penal laws as any other orthodox christian, but the punishments are in greater degree for priests.  For example, they can be suspended and told to not recieve communion = excommunication, just like with a "regular person" but at the same time if they do something REALLY bad then they can be defrocked.  A lay person cannot be defrocked...

I am not sure if that was helpful...

I will look into it more.  Think about reframing your question. 

There are a number of penalties - deposed (meaning you can't serve, but you're still a clergyman); defrocked (ejected from the clergy - this presupposes the first one, that is, deposition); excommunicated (deprived of communion - not necessarily implying either of the first two); and anathematized (implying excommunication and deposition, but not necessarily defrocking, or at least not explicitly in what little I've read).
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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2008, 11:28:24 PM »

An anathematization is a defrocking in the sense that the person is not longer part of the church nor do they have any status within it, so whatever orders they might have are moot. 
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« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2008, 03:35:38 AM »

Then a better question is why were those excommunicated/defrocked recieved by the Jerusalem Patriarchate and are the founders of St Lawrence Orthodox church (JP) in Ben Lomond? To be honest with you i never met anyone defending the Antiochan Heirarchs on this one.
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« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2008, 07:07:09 AM »

Sorry for my ignorance in this matter but would you like to fill me in on the details?  I feel that I cannot answer your question or even begin to look at it unless I know the history...

In general though, any priest can get picked up by another church and start their own church.  On the one hand some would call this Protestantism, on the other some would  all it politics. 


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« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2008, 09:38:32 AM »

I was taught in seminary that:

First you are suspended
Then you are deposed
Then you are excommunicated (as a layman)
Then you are anathematized

You cannot be given more than one punishment per offense, but Cleveland presents an interesting possibility, of a clergyman receiving punishments for multiple offenses.

Suspension is not excommunication though as a suspended priest is allowed to receive communion in the altar with the other clergy. To suspend a clergyman and tell him not to commune would theoretically be a violation of the order of discipline.

The clergy that were received into the JP had not been baptized on reception into Orthodoxy* and furthermore their ordinations were done simultaneously at the same liturgy (i.e. more than one man raised to the same rank at the same liturgy) which is uncanonical (even SVS faculty wrote against this) back in 1987 (the practice continues from time to time today btw).  So the  JP basically said, "you aren't really Orthodox priests" and baptized them I believe (someone correct me if my facts are wrong) and then ordained them.  It certainly looks suspect, like they were using this as a backdoor way to get reinstated as priests, but, it is entirely possible that they were concerned about this all along and what happened with the Antiochians was a catalyst.  I don't want to judge what they were doing. We also don't know what the Antiochians were doing, although the public acts were strange (deposing a priest "until he repents"--but again, do we know that is what was meant? was it a typo? is the document on the internet legit? these are the types of questions we should wonder).

At any rate, it's been a long time and ultimately these people have to answer to God and not us. However, the question in its theoretical sense is certainly interesting.

Deacon Anastasios

(* I am not starting an argument on reception but pointing out that this argument figured into the public discussion of the topic that I saw years back on the net).
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« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2008, 10:10:20 AM »

Sadly there are several versions of the story going around, however after sorting through many of them, this seems to be the basic gist. The Diocesan Bishop, His Grace Bishop Joseph determined that there were simply too many clergy in that one parish and sought to reassign some of them to missions and parishes in need of clergy.  In addition around that time, he also sought to bring the liturgical practices of the parish under the practices of the Antiochian Orthodox Church since the parish was under the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. There was a meeting held by the senior priest John Weldon Hardenbrook with the other Clergy that further deteriorated the situation.  Here is a brief summary of that meeting as presented by one who attended Father Deacon Thomas Zell (Now Father Thomas Zell) as written in AGAIN Magazine:
"One telling of the Ben Lomond disaster, popularized on the Net, is that what happened here was solely the result of our bishop transferring one of the core Ben Lomond clergy from here to a parish in the Midwest. Another version would have us believe that this disaster occurred as a result of a "simple request" for our parish to transfer to another jurisdiction.

Would that it were that simple.

Below this tiny tip of the iceberg looms a much deeper reality. Our parish, with all its size, with all its liturgical beauty, with the strength of its leadership, had somehow become an entity unto itself, an Orthodox "free agent." Our leadership had become resentful of any ecclesial authority above their own. Many observers believe that the transfer by the bishop merely provided (then) Father John Hardenbrook, the opportunity he had been looking for for many years -- to break rank with the Archdiocese in search of other pastures.

Of course we had all felt the rising tensions at the parish, and were aware that things were not right between certain of our priests and the hierarchy to whom they had pledged obedience in 1987. Since, however, the communication level at the parish had by this time dropped to an all time low, no one -- not the people, not the deacons, not even all the priests (except for an elite inner core composed of select members from all three groups) -- really knew what was going on. As a deacon of the Church, I should have known. TO the extent that I blinded my eyes to the realities of what was happening around me, optimistically believing that things would turn around soon, I failed my Church and my bishop.

My own rude awakening to exactly how desperate things had become came by way of an emergency meeting of the deacons of Ss. Peter and Paul which was called on February 11, 1998. The priests had met the night before to discuss how to respond to the transfer order. The majority decided to assume an attitude of defiance, no matter the cost.

My memories of that February 11th deacons' meeting include, among other things, a long and emotional dissertation by (then) Father Hardenbrook. Having firmly decided on a course of action, he had only one evening to win us over to his side and he gave it everything he had. He spoke of deep-seated resentments which had been building up between the authority structure of Ss. Peter and Paul and the hierarchy of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Most of us were hearing these details for the first time.

At times his presentation bordered on the bizarre. He claimed, among other things, that Metropolitan PHILIP's name had been supernaturally removed from our Church's intention.1 (This report was corrected some time later by a priest who admitted he had rinsed the intention in water after a spill from the chalice, thus causing the water-based ink to release from the fabric.) He also told a nightmarish tale of being attacked by demons after a Holy Friday meeting between himself and one of our hierarchs.

Frequently he resorted to vicious character assassination, as he systematically discredited various priests and bishops of the Archdiocese who had no chance to reply. The stunned group of deacons stared on wide-eyed, denied the time (or in some cases lacking the inclination) to check out the details of these stories for themselves or verify any of the largely unsubstantiated allegations being made.

I will never forget the sad moment when, after a few other brief presentations by priests loyal to Hardenbrook, and a period of questions and answers, we were told to make our decision known. "Those who are with me, raise your hands," we were told by Hardenbrook. With nothing more than the words spoken in that one meeting, it was heartbreaking to see that a majority of the deacons chose to follow this immensely self-confident and persuasive figure who was shocking them into making a decision they would have to live with for the rest of their lives.

At the same time, it was of great encouragement to note that a solid group of men stood against what they saw to be a direct act of rebellion against Metropolitan PHILIP, who had courageously and graciously brought the Evangelical Orthodox Church into the Antiochian Archdiocese in 1987, and of whom we as clergy were representatives. After the dust finally settled, eight of the deacons and two of the priests (Fr. Andrew Beck and Fr. George Washburn) of Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church refused to follow John Weldon Hardenbrook in his rebellion against the episcopacy of the Holy Orthodox Church.

If that night was bad, it was only the beginning of our woes. Perhaps that deacons' meeting was little more than a dress rehearsal for what was to come the following evening. Father George Washburn describes the terrible scene which took place at Church the following night:
"In retrospect it is clear that the climactic meeting of February 12 was organized for the purpose of causing a division in the parish. It was held while His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH, was in Pennsylvania. The priest-representative Metropolitan PHILIP sent to chair the meeting and present his position was denied the chair and not allowed to speak. Instead, Hardenbrook as chief prosecutor, chief witness, and chief judge led an emotionally charged and patently unfair attack on the hierarchy.
"People were stampeded that night into an immediate, defining decision. The unspoken, manipulative, emotionally abusive subtext of the meeting emerged when voices which counseled patience, prayer, and dialogue with the hierarchs were either ignored or overwhelmed by accusers. Frustration and anger erupted from all sides. What took place in the presence of the holy icons of Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church on that night in February was a shameful spectacle which should never have been started in the first place, let alone allowed to continue throughout the evening.

"On a human, interpersonal level the consequences were immediate, defining, and given our history of authoritarian leadership, almost inevitable. Relatives stopped speaking to one another and friends were immediately ostracized by those who had been their brethren for twenty years. Demons of slander deliberately loosed that evil night in the sanctuary ravaged the parish; for months, labeling, recriminations, and invective were traded by both sides, and rational argument over the issues was either forbidden by the breakaway leaders or rendered impossible by the strength of people's emotions. By the time that died down, or at least started to die down, the lines were too deeply drawn for any easy crossovers." ...

The events which followed at Church occurred in rapid, unrelenting waves. Quoting AGAIN from Father Washburn:
"On an official level, Metropolitan PHILIP reacted decisively to the repudiation of his authority inherent in the rejection of his emissary. Within two days he had severely disciplined all the clergy who joined in the revolt, and ordered the loyal clergy to take control of the antimension- but his letter of discipline invited repentance. The reply of the disciplined clergy was immediate: they changed the locks to the church and never voluntarily let the bishop or the faithful back in to the building except for one brief prayer service.

"For the first month or so after the rebellion most of us were too shell shocked and sleep-deprived to do much, except maintain a semblance of our daily lives and a moderate schedule of pre- and early- Lenten services. The lockout kept us hopping as we worshipped in a succession of three sister churches and three separate public meeting halls. (The disciplined priests, since they could not celebrate the Divine Liturgy, quickly arranged with a neighboring church of a different jurisdiction to hold many of their own worship services in its sanctuary at a separate altar.)
"Official representatives of the Archdiocese, and unofficial spokespersons for our exiled group and the broader Orthodox world kept up a dialogue which sought to promote repentance and reconciliation, or at least gain us access to the sanctuary for our services. We kept hoping, but the dialog bore no fruit.

"We were finally galvanized into action during the week of March 13 when we learned of plans to illegally gut the church office building and turn it into a sanctuary the dissenters could present to a sister Orthodox jurisdiction, complete with choir and congregation, as a sort of "turn- key operation" so to speak. This action, if allowed to proceed, would have helped the disciplined priests in their attempt to change the ecclesiology of the Church from Orthodox to Protestant, and would have forever locked out those members who had chosen to remain loyal to their bishop. Suit  was filed that day in the Metropolitan's name for the return of all the church property, and it led quickly to a court order which permitted us to use the sanctuary for canonical services from early April through mid-August.

"For most of those months we had the surreal experience of either waiting for the opposition's 'reader's services' to end, or emerging from our own prayers to run a grim-faced gauntlet of former friends, waiting to worship God in the same building. This spectacle continued until just after the trial in August, when the California Superior Court unequivocally restored possesion and control of all church uildings to the Archdiocese."

Earlier in May, a Church court had ruled that those who remained faithful to the Archdiocese were the "true" church. It further ruled that the disciplined clergy were deposed and excommunicated (and the man who took over Conciliar Press was excommunicated) until they repented, and for a minimum period of time.

A Church community does not recover quickly from blows such as these. Much like the victims of floods or tornadoes, we have had to pick up the pieces of our lives in the wake of disaster. Many relationships have been destroyed, perhaps permanently. Friends, godparents, relatives, and neighbors now find themselves on opposite sides of the controversy.

The continuing parish of Ss. Peter and Paul is gradually rebuilding its life together and is beginning to regain its equilibrium, under the gentle and able leadership of Father David Barr. (Father David came in to take the helm in June, after a sacrificial tour of duty by Father Gordon Walker, our interim pastor during the worst and most traumatic months.) Meanwhile, the breakaway group is meeting in a temporary chapel established just a few miles down the road, with a Sunday Divine Liturgy being celebrated by a priest from the Jerusalem Patriarchate, who in violation of the canons of the church has given communion to the excommunicated former clergy. Of all the avenues the breakaway group has approached in an attempt to regain acceptance within the Orthodox community, genuine reconciliation with Antioch has not been explored. " From AGAIN Magazine VOL. 21 NO. 1 Winter 1999

What has happened since---John W. Hardenbrook appealled the action of Metropolitan Phillip to the Antiochian Patriarchate ,however the action of Metropolitan Phillip was upheld by the Antiochian Patriarchal Synod.  It is interesting to note although some of the former Antiochian Clergy were allowed to serve by the Jerusalem Patriarchate, John W. Hardenbrook was not allowed to become a Priest again or serve in the Church. His son after attending Seminary was ordained a priest of the Jerusalem Patriarchate and serves as the Priest for St Lawrence Orthodox Church under the Jerusalem Patriarchate. Interestingly, just this past year some of the former Antiochian Priests have returned to the Antiochian Jurisdiction as repentant laymen.


Thomas



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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2008, 10:10:48 AM »

You folks could probably benefit from instituting a pan-Orthodox background check Wink
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2008, 10:50:28 AM »

You folks could probably benefit from instituting a pan-Orthodox background check Wink

It's very refreshing to see your true colours emerging here and in other recent posts.  You claim to have nothing but love and respect for the Orthodox Church, but here is another passive-aggressive attack levelled at Her for no apparent reason.  Really, Lubeltri, as a "humble layman", would you not agree that we are all sinners?  I suppose this post can be seen as a smug reference to just how much better organised the Latin Church is than the Orthodox Church.  I, for one, would never dispute this.  But there are a lot of good things inherent in our apparent lack of organisation too. 

Be that as it may, the thought bears repeating:  just what is the purpose of your post?  It certainly doesn't look to me like it's made in a spirit of love.  On the contrary, it seems to me to be designed specifically to get a rise out of us.  You are, of course, free to say whatever you please.  Don't worry, many Orthodox are only too aware of the frailties and weaknesses present in our Church governance.  If you were a true friend of the Orthodox, you would grieve with us instead of making subtly (and not so subtly) concealed little attacks on the Orthodox Church as you so frequently do.
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2008, 11:10:58 AM »

http://benlomond.wordpress.com/
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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2008, 11:13:12 AM »

It's very refreshing to see your true colours emerging here and in other recent posts.  You claim to have nothing but love and respect for the Orthodox Church, but here is another passive-aggressive attack levelled at Her for no apparent reason.  Really, Lubeltri, as a "humble layman", would you not agree that we are all sinners?  I suppose this post can be seen as a smug reference to just how much better organised the Latin Church is than the Orthodox Church.  I, for one, would never dispute this.  But there are a lot of good things inherent in our apparent lack of organisation too. 

Be that as it may, the thought bears repeating:  just what is the purpose of your post?  It certainly doesn't look to me like it's made in a spirit of love.  On the contrary, it seems to me to be designed specifically to get a rise out of us.  You are, of course, free to say whatever you please.  Don't worry, many Orthodox are only too aware of the frailties and weaknesses present in our Church governance.  If you were a true friend of the Orthodox, you would grieve with us instead of making subtly (and not so subtly) concealed little attacks on the Orthodox Church as you so frequently do.

It was not an attack. We have our own ecclesiological messes too---witness Ngo Dinh Thuc. It would be silly for me to be triumphalistic.

It was just a wry remark. I apologize if I offend---my sense of humor can be a bit on the dry side. Smiley

If I have a serious point, I guess it would be that the different EO jurisdictions should be in regular communication so that deposed clergy from one can't just pop on over to another. But I'm sure that is well understood already.

As for the other comment---it was a serious one. Consistency is a good thing. It is somewhat ironic to act insulted at some Evangelical Protestants' view that Russian Orthodox are not real Christians when many RO have the same view of the Evangelical Protestants. I have no idea why you see this point I made as being an attack on the Orthodox Church Herself.

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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2008, 11:14:44 AM »

Really, Lubeltri, as a "humble layman", would you not agree that we are all sinners?

I was not aware that this was up for debate.

Do I agree? I most certainly do, and I am a worse sinner than most.
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« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2008, 11:43:42 AM »


...along with

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Talk:Ben_Lomond_Crisis

and

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Ben_Lomond_Crisis

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« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2008, 02:35:07 PM »

Once again Antioch is to blame, for bringing in entire groups as a whole with backroom deals .  Im sick of hearing the Antiochan heirarchs how after they defrock or excommunicate someone (which apparently they do often) and explaining  "they couldnt let go of their protestant baggage". Perhaps if Antioch didnt take them in as protestants, this wouldnt happened.
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« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2008, 03:58:36 PM »

Once again Antioch is to blame, for bringing in entire groups as a whole with backroom deals .  Im sick of hearing the Antiochan heirarchs how after they defrock or excommunicate someone (which apparently they do often) and explaining  "they couldnt let go of their protestant baggage". Perhaps if Antioch didnt take them in as protestants, this wouldnt happened.

So, what do you mean by "once again"?  The Phillipines event?  That is in its infancy and a "wait and see".  For this thread, we are just reflecting on what happened 10-20 years ago.  While agree partly with your statement, it seems rather too blanket and dismissive.  They haven't taken in many different groups.  Wouldn't the number of groups actually what you can count on one hand?
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« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2008, 10:21:52 PM »

Theres a phillipines incident now as well? I remember not that long ago from this very forum how two highly regarded antiochan priests were defrocked, I also have in mind, the speed in which certain protestant groups have been recieved into the WRV (and eastern rite, usually less than a year), many of the parishioners of these heterodox parishes have never even heard of Orthodoxy before,  but are simply going for the ride because they dont want to leave their childhood parish, or they are trusting their pastors plea, to be recieved as a whole. One only needs to read the book from the Antiochans :"Orthodox Fundamentalists" to see the problems they have created for themselves. It is the Antiochans who have coined the phrase "some protestants cant let go of their baggage" to justify there many defrockings and excommunications.
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« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2008, 10:42:00 PM »

Theres a phillipines incident now as well? I remember not that long ago from this very forum how two highly regarded antiochan priests were defrocked, I also have in mind, the speed in which certain protestant groups have been recieved into the WRV (and eastern rite, usually less than a year), many of the parishioners of these heterodox parishes have never even heard of Orthodoxy before,  but are simply going for the ride because they dont want to leave their childhood parish, or they are trusting their pastors plea, to be recieved as a whole. One only needs to read the book from the Antiochans :"Orthodox Fundamentalists" to see the problems they have created for themselves. It is the Antiochans who have coined the phrase "some protestants cant let go of their baggage" to justify there many defrockings and excommunications.

While not necessarily objecting to your points about these parishes, why are you pointing out these priests?  Do you actually know their stories?  It may have been completely justified.  How are they any different than priests in other jurisdictions that are deposed and/or defrocked?  Your rants seem rather haphazard and without evidence.  I think you need to backup your statements better.
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« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2008, 10:52:56 PM »

They may have been justified but why should it of even happened?  If these people were taken in on an individual basis as catecumens first without special backroom deals , it could have been avoided. The Ben Lomond group first went to the OCA and the OCA responded that they must come and be recieved as individuals not as a group, they later were rejected by the EP, but this group finally found the deal they were looking for with Antioch and were brought in an uncanonical way on top of it all. Ive been in the GOA my entire life and have never heard the archdiocese justify any excommunication by claiming "there were still protestants". Its a slur to them,  and the Antiochans have to explain why there former parishioners went thru catechumens (if they ever did)still holding onto protestant beliefs. 
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« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2008, 11:09:04 PM »

They may have been justified but why should it of even happened?  If these people were taken in on an individual basis as catecumens first without special backroom deals , it could have been avoided. The Ben Lomond group first went to the OCA and the OCA responded that they must come and be recieved as individuals not as a group, they later were rejected by the EP, but this group finally found the deal they were looking for with Antioch and were brought in an uncanonical way on top of it all. Ive been in the GOA my entire life and have never heard the archdiocese justify any excommunication by claiming "there were still protestants". Its a slur to them,  and the Antiochans have to explain why there former parishioners went thru catechumens (if they ever did)still holding onto protestant beliefs. 

Again, I'm not completely disagreeing with you, but you are being far too simplistic w/o facts.  Who are these priests or at least what did they do?  It wasn't the "Ben Lomond" group - it was the entire EOC.  Try again.  Your argument basically amounts to me saying that the GOA hierarchy isn't doing anything since most of the parishoners just come to church on Easter and for festivals and thus can't govern.  While this could be true, I should be ready to back it up with some facts and a citation.
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« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2008, 11:43:50 PM »

It was not an attack. We have our own ecclesiological messes too---witness Ngo Dinh Thuc. It would be silly for me to be triumphalistic.

It was just a wry remark. I apologize if I offend---my sense of humor can be a bit on the dry side. Smiley

If I have a serious point, I guess it would be that the different EO jurisdictions should be in regular communication so that deposed clergy from one can't just pop on over to another. But I'm sure that is well understood already.

As for the other comment---it was a serious one. Consistency is a good thing. It is somewhat ironic to act insulted at some Evangelical Protestants' view that Russian Orthodox are not real Christians when many RO have the same view of the Evangelical Protestants. I have no idea why you see this point I made as being an attack on the Orthodox Church Herself.
Maybe because of your track record here at OC.net...  Whatever happened to your vow to change your posting style here?
I repent of my lack of charity here in the past, and I sincerely beg you all for your forgiveness. I will not let it happen again.
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« Reply #22 on: April 29, 2008, 11:59:36 PM »

Maybe because of your track record here at OC.net...  Whatever happened to your vow to change your posting style here?

I do not think I have such a bad track record here, at least comparatively. Nearly all of my warnings have come from carelessness in making posts in the wrong fora. And I do not see how my recent ("passive aggressive"  Huh) statements are at all comparable to some of the things I've written in the past to cause offense.

In fact, I am a bit perturbed to be accused of attacking the EO Church herself. I've seen plenty of anti-Rome invective here, and I usually do not take it personally.

Further, I'm a bit perturbed to be even be defending myself here about a comparatively innocuous tongue-in-cheek remark. I've seen far worse in the free-for-all section, and nobody seems to bat an eye.  Undecided

And since this thread is about the Ben Lomond excommunications and not Lubeltri, I would appreciate it if further discussion on this topic go onto PM or a new thread created for the purpose.
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« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2008, 05:33:34 AM »

They may have been justified but why should it of even happened?  If these people were taken in on an individual basis as catecumens first without special backroom deals , it could have been avoided. The Ben Lomond group first went to the OCA and the OCA responded that they must come and be recieved as individuals not as a group, they later were rejected by the EP, but this group finally found the deal they were looking for with Antioch and were brought in an uncanonical way on top of it all. Ive been in the GOA my entire life and have never heard the archdiocese justify any excommunication by claiming "there were still protestants". Its a slur to them,  and the Antiochans have to explain why there former parishioners went thru catechumens (if they ever did)still holding onto protestant beliefs.
I'm not sure what you mean by "background deals" since the actions of the Antiochian Church were quite transparent. Nor can I see anything "uncanonical" in the way the Ben Lomond group were received- perhaps I'm missing something? Did the Antiochian Church actually say the clergy were excommunicated because "they were still protestants"- or are you simply inferring this? From what I can see, they were disciplined for disobedience to the Bishop, not for heresy.
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« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2008, 09:21:43 AM »

I'm not sure what you mean by "background deals" since the actions of the Antiochian Church were quite transparent. Nor can I see anything "uncanonical" in the way the Ben Lomond group were received- perhaps I'm missing something? Did the Antiochian Church actually say the clergy were excommunicated because "they were still protestants"- or are you simply inferring this? From what I can see, they were disciplined for disobedience to the Bishop, not for heresy.

CHRIST IS RISEN!

George you have hit the main point.  They were in disobedience to their Bishop and it was for that they were disciplined and called to repentance with the offer to reinstatement upon repentance for most of them. The issue is always complicated when a priest or other clergy are involved because they impact the laity because of their influence and pastoral role, therefore when incorrect doctrine is taught or practiced the clergy are censured much more stringently than the laity in most cases.

Buzuxi, The issue that you noted of they were excommunicated because they were "still protestants" was not the official reason nor is it found in any of the formal documents listed either on the pro-Ben Loman splinter groups or official Antiochian Orthodox documents.  Rather it is the common discussion in chat rooms and websites as people , like myself and you, sought to get to the core issues and understand why it happened. Usually what is described on the web is "they were still protestants" as an explanation of one of the core  issues of what is the proper position and role of the Bishop and hierarchs in the Church and how John Hardenbrook was interpreting that issue---John Hardenbrook had been a bishop of the EOC and once made a priest, tried to continue to run his parish church as the senior priest as though he were a bishop.  When the Antiochian Bishop, His Grace Bishop Joseph discovered this he tried to correct this, reassign the parish's surplus priests to areas they were needed in the church, and return the parish to running as a parish not as a diocese within the diocese. This was apparrently the grounding  issue that eventually developed into disobedience by the clergy to their bishop.

Buzuxi, the other issue of numbers of clergy being disciplined being high in the Antiochian Church  is not  accurate.  I read all of the official publications  (easy because they are all on the web now) that list the transfers, releases, disciplining, etc of clergy and I have not found that to be the case.  In fact when one reviews the AOC, GOA, OCA, and ROCOR, the annual numbers  generally are the same in all areas except for one, the GOA has a higher number of clergy being disciplined for sexual abuse of laity (this of course has been discussed previously in the oc.net forums).

There have been former EOC members who were ordained priests who successfully petitioned for transfer to another jursidiction by using appropriate canonical procedures  and gained official releases from their Antiochian Bishop with no animosity or retribution. Some former EOC members who became Orthodox under the Antiochians have transferred their membership to other jurisdictions they felt were more traditional or observing the level of spirituality they felt the need to have.  The former EOC members have remained Orthodox Christians faithful to their baptism and chrismations given to them through the Antiochian Jurisdiction, the majority of them remain in the Antiochian Orthodox Church.  It should be noted that even with the Ben Loman Tragedy, most of those who left in the split remained Orthodox and faithful to the teachings of the Church. The Ben Loman splinter group actually entered a canonical Old Calendarist  jursidiction with very conservative leadership, traditional liturgical practice, as practiced by the Greek Orthodox Patrirachate of Jerusalem.

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« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2008, 10:09:20 AM »

Assuming that the people here weren't directly involved in the events, it's going to be hard to exactly say what did or did not happen.  Based on what I have read I would sort of assume the following:

- This was a unique set of circumstances and probably a unique event.
- Both sides probably were guilty of some excesses and rashness.

Hopefully as with anything, both sides learned something and can move on, and to the extent possible can reconcile themselves to what happened and to each other.

I posted the blog site I did because it seems someone wants to re-hash the history and keep it alive.  I'm not really sure what purpose is served by that.
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« Reply #26 on: April 30, 2008, 01:14:27 PM »

It should be noted that even with the Ben Loman Tragedy, most of those who left in the split remained Orthodox and faithful to the teachings of the Church. The Ben Loman splinter group actually entered a canonical Old Calendarist  jursidiction with very conservative leadership, traditional liturgical practice, as practiced by the Greek Orthodox Patrirachate of Jerusalem.

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Thomas,
Thank you for posting a well-reasoned response...one of the few charitable posts regarding the faithful at St. Lawrence.  While the clergy have to deal with whatever ecclesiastical ramifications result from the tragedy, I wish people would leave the faithful out of it.  We can rejoice that those who left Sts. P&P are under a Canonical jurisdiction, from what I have heard, the administration of the JP parishes in the USA is actually up in the air right now (or so kelfar told me).  We can only pray for a peaceful resolution soon.


- Both sides probably were guilty of some excesses and rashness.

Hopefully as with anything, both sides learned something and can move on, and to the extent possible can reconcile themselves to what happened and to each other.

I posted the blog site I did because it seems someone wants to re-hash the history and keep it alive.  I'm not really sure what purpose is served by that.
Yes, I think everyone can learn from it.  From what I know (read, people I've talked to  - remember, I wasn't directly involved but did grow up in the EOC), there seemed to be poor handling/mgmt from the hierarchy and disillusionment and ignorance from the Hardenbrook camp.  Hopefully these lesson can be learned to not happen again.
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« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2008, 02:45:56 PM »

Another thought to add to what has already been stated by Thomas and Elisha, is the EOC parishes were accepted by the Antiochians in 1987 but Bishop Joseph was not assigned to the region until 1996. In other words, we didn't have a bishop on the west coast to oversee our parishes.  In 1987 we only had three bishops for the whole North American archdiocese and they were all living on the east coast. We rarely received visits from our bishops because there were too many parishes for them to oversee. John Hardenbrook had almost ten years of freedom to continue on his merry way as he had before. Once Bishop Joseph arrived he began to bring uniformity to our Liturgical practices and he visited all of his parishes quite often. But he was also newly arrived from Damascus and he spoke very little English at the time. He had no idea that when he was the secretary of the patriarchate that he would one day be sent to America. He confided in us that if he had known ahead of time he would have learned English. Now, however, his English is very good and he has adapted to American life.
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« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2008, 02:52:18 PM »

Thanks, Tamara. 
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« Reply #29 on: April 30, 2008, 04:03:09 PM »

Now, my reading of the canons indicates an Orthodox can only be punished one degree. For example, a man who knowingly and publically commits adultery is excommunicated (band from the sacraments of the church) until he repents. A priest in a similar situation is laicized (becomes a layman) but can still come to communion. Am I correct on this? If so, how was the double penalty of the Ben Lomond clergy justified?

{Edit: What follows is NOT actually an explanation of what happened at Ben Lomond, or why it happened. It's merely an explanation of some of the generic issues involved in the OP's question.}

Remember: Oikonomia simply means a bending of the "strictness" or letter of the law for pastoral reasons. According to the principle of oikonomia, a Spiritual Court must sometimes bend the letter and be MORE severe (just as it must sometimes bend the letter and be less severe).

In an ideal world, a priest would receive only one "penalty," but what he if continues in his ways? What if he doesn't accept the penance with obedience? What if he questions the very authority of the Spiritual Court that is giving him this penance? What if his offense threatens not only his own soul, but those of many others? These are all things that must be assessed, and Spiritual Courts sometimes find that it is pastorally necessary to apply the principle of oikonomia and be tougher than the letter typically requires.

This could be intended to serve many pastoral purposes. It could, for example, be intended to rattle the penitent and impress upon him the true seriousness of the situation, in the hopes that such would lead to repentance. This is especially true in cases that involve a clergyman's intransigence to his hierarchs, because it's an unfortunate fact that such priests often persist in their intransigence and even multiple their offenses by actively trying to convince others of their correctness or even lead them away from the hierarch in question. By exercising oikonomia and applying a more harsh penance (including, eventually, anathema), the Church sends an absolutely clear message to the priest (and to all parishioners): To continue in this path is to leave the Church herself. Repent.
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« Reply #30 on: April 30, 2008, 04:30:16 PM »

I haven't been following this thread really until it jogged my memory that we had someone trolling around for dirt about Ben Lomond back in the fall.  See the thread below.  I would only say that if we cut this guy off so quickly on the subject, I'd be very careful about what is said on the current thread. 

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13240.0.html
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« Reply #31 on: April 30, 2008, 07:02:56 PM »

Another thought to add to what has already been stated by Thomas and Elisha, is the EOC parishes were accepted by the Antiochians in 1987 but Bishop Joseph was not assigned to the region until 1996. In other words, we didn't have a bishop on the west coast to oversee our parishes.  In 1987 we only had three bishops for the whole North American archdiocese and they were all living on the east coast. We rarely received visits from our bishops because there were too many parishes for them to oversee. John Hardenbrook had almost ten years of freedom to continue on his merry way as he had before. Once Bishop Joseph arrived he began to bring uniformity to our Liturgical practices and he visited all of his parishes quite often. But he was also newly arrived from Damascus and he spoke very little English at the time. He had no idea that when he was the secretary of the patriarchate that he would one day be sent to America. He confided in us that if he had known ahead of time he would have learned English. Now, however, his English is very good and he has adapted to American life.

Well im glad to see that atleast one bishop in Antioch realized how far the innovations have gone under Metropolitan Saliba in order to bring as many protestants in for their generous tithes.
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« Reply #32 on: April 30, 2008, 07:14:16 PM »

Well im glad to see that atleast one bishop in Antioch realized how far the innovations have gone under Metropolitan Saliba in order to bring as many protestants in for their generous tithes.

Without proof, this is called libel.
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« Reply #33 on: April 30, 2008, 07:27:03 PM »

CHRIST IS RISEN!

George you have hit the main point.  They were in disobedience to their Bishop and it was for that they were disciplined and called to repentance with the offer to reinstatement upon repentance for most of them. The issue is always complicated when a priest or other clergy are involved because they impact the laity because of their influence and pastoral role, therefore when incorrect doctrine is taught or practiced the clergy are censured much more stringently than the laity in most cases.

Buzuxi, The issue that you noted of they were excommunicated because they were "still protestants" was not the official reason nor is it found in any of the formal documents listed either on the pro-Ben Loman splinter groups or official Antiochian Orthodox documents.  Rather it is the common discussion in chat rooms and websites as people , like myself and you, sought to get to the core issues and understand why it happened. Usually what is described on the web is "they were still protestants" as an explanation of one of the core  issues of what is the proper position and role of the Bishop and hierarchs in the Church and how John Hardenbrook was interpreting that issue---John Hardenbrook had been a bishop of the EOC and once made a priest, tried to continue to run his parish church as the senior priest as though he were a bishop.  When the Antiochian Bishop, His Grace Bishop Joseph discovered this he tried to correct this, reassign the parish's surplus priests to areas they were needed in the church, and return the parish to running as a parish not as a diocese within the diocese. This was apparrently the grounding  issue that eventually developed into disobedience by the clergy to their bishop.

Buzuxi, the other issue of numbers of clergy being disciplined being high in the Antiochian Church  is not  accurate.  I read all of the official publications  (easy because they are all on the web now) that list the transfers, releases, disciplining, etc of clergy and I have not found that to be the case.  In fact when one reviews the AOC, GOA, OCA, and ROCOR, the annual numbers  generally are the same in all areas except for one, the GOA has a higher number of clergy being disciplined for sexual abuse of laity (this of course has been discussed previously in the oc.net forums).

There have been former EOC members who were ordained priests who successfully petitioned for transfer to another jursidiction by using appropriate canonical procedures  and gained official releases from their Antiochian Bishop with no animosity or retribution. Some former EOC members who became Orthodox under the Antiochians have transferred their membership to other jurisdictions they felt were more traditional or observing the level of spirituality they felt the need to have.  The former EOC members have remained Orthodox Christians faithful to their baptism and chrismations given to them through the Antiochian Jurisdiction, the majority of them remain in the Antiochian Orthodox Church.  It should be noted that even with the Ben Loman Tragedy, most of those who left in the split remained Orthodox and faithful to the teachings of the Church. The Ben Loman splinter group actually entered a canonical Old Calendarist  jursidiction with very conservative leadership, traditional liturgical practice, as practiced by the Greek Orthodox Patrirachate of Jerusalem.

Thomas

I never meant that they were never converted to Orthodoxy, My point "that they are protestants" is a peculiar Antiochan excuse used when some of their converts who have been excommunicated or deposed are slured by phrases such as this: "they couldnt let go of their protestant baggage".  Of course they cant let go of their "protestant legalistic baggage" if they never had to abandon it to begin with.
Now the EOC first went to the OCA and the EP and both rejected them. The backroom deal was upon entrance into the Antiochan Archdiocese there congregation and all its clergy would be lefy "as is" and intact forever. This was the backroom deal and it was this deal that was brokered which contrubuted to the tragedy. Secondly the clergy was recieved thru multiple ordinations, which is totally uncanonical unless Antioch now believes in "sola scripture" and even then, claiming Acts 13.3 condones this is a stretch.
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« Reply #34 on: April 30, 2008, 07:53:20 PM »

I never meant that they were never converted to Orthodoxy, My point "that they are protestants" is a peculiar Antiochan excuse used when some of their converts who have been excommunicated or deposed are slured by phrases such as this: "they couldnt let go of their protestant baggage".  Of course they cant let go of their "protestant legalistic baggage" if they never had to abandon it to begin with.
buzuxi,
You have yet to show that anyone other than yourself has said that "they couldn't let go of their protestant baggage". Can you point to one official statement of the Antiochian Church where it has made this claim or used this "excuse"? If not, then all you are giving us is your own opinion, which is fine, but don't presume to put words in the Antiochian Church's mouth. I ask you again: Where has the Antiochian Church ever made such a claim?
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« Reply #35 on: April 30, 2008, 07:58:03 PM »

The Defense of Father John Hardenbrook

http://benlomond.wordpress.com/1998/05/26/fr-john-weldon-hardenbrooks-defense/
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« Reply #36 on: April 30, 2008, 08:24:01 PM »

Oh come on OZ, you must of heard that or something very similar used by Antioch before.

Let me give you an excerpt from Fr John Morris book "Orthodox Fundamentalists" with the endorsement from Metropolitan Saliba. The book was written right after the Ben Lomond tragedy and goes on and bludgeons everyone from monastics to old calendarists, to veiled references to Ben Lomond, veiled references  to the JP, heck the book even attacks people who fast too strictly! And  all thru the prism of the problems that have arisen in the Antiochan archdiocese, pg 71:

"Significantly some of the most fanatical Orthodox fundamentalists are fairly recent converts. Their legalism shows that they have not really completed their conversion to Orthodoxy. Some new Orthodox christians bring alot of excess baggage with them in the form of western legalism.

(pg73)'Some Orthodox fundamentalists also show that they have not completely abandoned their former protestant orientation by presuming to judge for themselves what is and what is not Orthodox..."

Funny but ive only run across such problems with Antiochan converts, problems which had to make them write such a silly and inaccurate book.
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« Reply #37 on: April 30, 2008, 08:38:02 PM »

Oh come on OZ, you must of heard that or something very similar used by Antioch before.
Actually, never.

"Significantly some of the most fanatical Orthodox fundamentalists are fairly recent converts. Their legalism shows that they have not really completed their conversion to Orthodoxy. Some new Orthodox christians bring alot of excess baggage with them in the form of western legalism.
(pg73)'Some Orthodox fundamentalists also show that they have not completely abandoned their former protestant orientation by presuming to judge for themselves what is and what is not Orthodox..."
And this has been my experience with a few neophytes, but again I reiterate that there is nothing in the Ben Lomond situation which suggests that the problem was one of "legalism" or "fundamentalism". It was disobedience to (and rebellion against) the Bishop, plain and simple.

Funny but ive only found such problems with Antiochan converts.
That has not been my experience at all. For example, there is not one single Old Calendarist movement in the Antiochian Church- which you would expect if "legalism" and "fundamentalism" were rife in it.
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« Reply #38 on: April 30, 2008, 09:31:38 PM »

there is not one single Old Calendarist movement in the Antiochian Church- which you would expect if "legalism" and "fundamentalism" were rife in it.

George,

If i get an Old Calendarist movement within Antioch, then will you change your opinion?  I think we need one!  Grin
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« Reply #39 on: April 30, 2008, 09:36:49 PM »


I read his account and I know the other side's account. Especially in regard to the priest, Fr. Seraphim Bell, who was his friend and protege. Fr. Seraphim Bell did ALOT of spiritual damage while he was a priest in our archdiocese. He went on to the OCA and left it after a few years, he then joined the GOA and had problems with their hierarchy after a few years and last I heard he had moved on to the ROCOR. If John Hardenbrook mentored Fr. Seraphim then I think we can see a clear pattern of teaching disobedience to hierarchical authority. John speaks about how our parish was decimated after Fr. Seraphim left. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our parish THRIVED with his leaving...his ability to control the parishioners through confession by fear was gone. His account show signs of paranoia, ego, and delusion. Sad.
  
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« Reply #40 on: April 30, 2008, 10:23:57 PM »

I read his account and I know the other side's account. Especially in regard to the priest, Fr. Seraphim Bell, who was his friend and protege. Fr. Seraphim Bell did ALOT of spiritual damage while he was a priest in our archdiocese. He went on to the OCA and left it after a few years, he then joined the GOA and had problems with their hierarchy after a few years and last I heard he had moved on to the ROCOR. If John Hardenbrook mentored Fr. Seraphim then I think we can see a clear pattern of teaching disobedience to hierarchical authority. John speaks about how our parish was decimated after Fr. Seraphim left. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our parish THRIVED with his leaving...his ability to control the parishioners through confession by fear was gone. His account show signs of paranoia, ego, and delusion. Sad.
  

I dont know much about all this but I am a big fan of Fr. David Anderson. I have all his tapes. He got booted out too.
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« Reply #41 on: April 30, 2008, 11:20:28 PM »

I dont know much about all this but I am a big fan of Fr. David Anderson. I have all his tapes. He got booted out too.

I don't know anything about Fr. David but I was told he is now either Byzantine Catholic or Roman Catholic. Do you know if that is true?
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« Reply #42 on: April 30, 2008, 11:23:31 PM »

I don't know anything about Fr. David but I was told he is now either Byzantine Catholic or Roman Catholic. Do you know if that is true?

David is now a Byzantine Catholic.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2008, 11:24:10 PM by Orual » Logged

He spoke it as kindly and heartily as could be; as if a man dashed a gallon of cold water in your broth and never doubted you'd like it all the better. 

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« Reply #43 on: April 30, 2008, 11:36:57 PM »

I never meant that they were never converted to Orthodoxy, My point "that they are protestants" is a peculiar Antiochan excuse used when some of their converts who have been excommunicated or deposed are slured by phrases such as this: "they couldnt let go of their protestant baggage".  Of course they cant let go of their "protestant legalistic baggage" if they never had to abandon it to begin with.
Now the EOC first went to the OCA and the EP and both rejected them. The backroom deal was upon entrance into the Antiochan Archdiocese there congregation and all its clergy would be lefy "as is" and intact forever. This was the backroom deal and it was this deal that was brokered which contrubuted to the tragedy. Secondly the clergy was recieved thru multiple ordinations, which is totally uncanonical unless Antioch now believes in "sola scripture" and even then, claiming Acts 13.3 condones this is a stretch.
But this all happened some 20+ years ago, with the Ben Lomond crisis happening 10 years ago.  Why are you so intent on continuing to fan the flames of discontent today?  Do you have some documented evidence that we don't have to suggest that a good portion of the former Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission received into the Church in 1987 has not yet been integrated properly into the Church?  IOW, I fail to see how these issues on which you keep harping are important to us today.
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« Reply #44 on: April 30, 2008, 11:44:39 PM »

But this all happened some 20+ years ago, with the Ben Lomond crisis happening 10 years ago.  Why are you so intent on continuing to fan the flames of discontent today?  Do you have some documented evidence that we don't have to suggest that a good portion of the former Antiochian Evangelical Orthodox Mission received into the Church in 1987 has not yet been integrated properly into the Church?  IOW, I fail to see how these issues on which you keep harping are important to us today.

IIRC, Metropolitan PHILIP has repeatedly said that he does not at all regret receiving the Evangelical Orthodox, which would seem to suggest that the vast majority have integrated rather nicely.  You don't need to be rebaptized, renounce your birthname, and grow a long shaggy beard to be Orthodox.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2008, 11:46:40 PM by Orual » Logged

He spoke it as kindly and heartily as could be; as if a man dashed a gallon of cold water in your broth and never doubted you'd like it all the better. 

- C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces
f.k.a. Matron.a
Tags: Ben Lomond Ordination multiple ordinations 
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