It's interesting to note how many people are all reading this thread at the same time. It's obviously an important topic about which we all care a great deal. I, too, have been reading, and reading, and reading it over the past couple days, but, as I was reading it on my phone and not the computer, I was unable to read/watch His Beatitude +JONAH's speech. I was expecting to be inspired and uplifted by wise words that would call all to unity under a compromise that would allow us all to continue to worship in the ways we are comfortable, while uniting our voice. I was sorely disappointed...
I'll start by saying that, while I agreed with the Chief Secretary's speech at HCHC for the most part, I was also sorely disappointed with his delivery. I felt there was a loving way to handle the situation and he did not choose it.
I feel the same way about His Beatitude's speech. In fact, to be honest, the phrase that came to mind was "fear mongering." And it made me angry.
BTW, I'm going to use the GOA as an example a lot, because it is the EP's jurisdiction in the US, and the most obvious example of how the EP does and would administrate a church in the US.
There were, indeed, exaggerations and falsehoods that were utilized to make his point. The most blatant and obvious (not to mention UTTERLY ABSURD), as AMM pointed out earlier, being (from Serb1389's transcription):
but you have to give us the freedom to take care of our own church and our own country and our own culture, and not to be controlled by people who have never heard a word of English, much less would allow a word of English to be spoken in the Liturgy
Since His Beatitude has only been Metropolitan of the OCA for like five minutes, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying maybe he has never been to services in the GOA. Otherwise, he would know that of course we do English in the services. At HCHC (and many on this forum have either attended the school or at least been to services there) alone, which one would hope to be an example, since it is the archdiocesan seminary, the services are done AT LEAST 50/50 Greek-English. Many, many parishes in the GOA have all but eliminated the Greek entirely. So... either he's utilizing a falsehood to incite fear and anger, or he's ignorant of GOA practices. I'm going to go with the latter, since I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I too have been inspired by his election and hopeful, and don't want to think badly of him.
The falsehoods/exaggerations are also made by implication. In other words, he implies things that are false or exaggerated. Here's an example:
A church that is dedicated to the conciliar process which does not ignore the voice of the laity, which does not ignore the voice of the priests.
The implication here is that the Phanar and His All Holiness ignore the voices of the laity and priests. If this is the case, then things would be far different in the GOA. There would be no English, but the people request English, so there is English. There would be no Thanksgiving Turkey (and His Beatitude thinks that the EP doesn't understand America? Do the OCA recognize Thanksgiving? I actually am asking, not being sarcastic, cause I don't know the answer), but the request of the people was heard, and, out of love, the EP made a concession so that we might RECOGNIZE OUR HERITAGE AS AMERICANS AND CELEBRATE IT WITH THANKSGIVING TO GOD. Hmmmm.... I could write a list of such things that the EP has heard and allowed, but I think my point is made.
Because, we are orthodox not simply by birth, we are orthodox not simply by our ethnic heritage, we are orthodox because we have chosen to be orthodox. We are orthodox because we have committed our entire life to Jesus Christ and the Gospel. And that it’s that commitment to Jesus Christ and the Gospel, and our commitment to bring our brothers and sisters in our land to that same commitment to Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
The implication here is that we Greek Orthodox (notice I say we Greek ORTHODOX, not we Greeks) are only Orthodox because of our birth or ethnic heritage. Tell that to my Chinese brother-in-law and all the other converts we have in the GREEK ORTHODOX church (in other words, the GOA is NOT made up of just Greeks, but converts as well, in case His Beatitude has not visited a GOA church yet). Furthermore, I AM of Greek heritage, but I am CERTAINLY not Orthodox just because my father is. For one thing, my mother was Catholic (oh, yeah, she's a convert too). [ light-hearted but to the point sarcasm] I'm so glad His Beatitude knows the souls of all the Greek Orthodox in America to be able to imply that we are all Orthodox just because our parents were. [/light-hearted but to the point sarcasm]
And another (one of my favorites):
Not to some kind of alien ideology, not to some nationalist or imperialist ideology from some forgotten empire. Not the imposition of foreign customs, and the submission to foreign despots – but to a united church in this country.
Really? You must be kidding. He's talking about foreign customs wearing a RUSSIAN style of vestments! Did I miss something or didn't the OCA come from the Russian tradition? Certainly looks like it, from the tradition of music, liturgics, and vestments (among other things). Why does he fault the Greek Orthodox for following the Byzantine tradition of music, liturgics, and vestments? Isn't that a little backward? If he is not speaking of liturgical tradition, then what is he speaking of? Is he implying that the EP is going to force everyone to learn modern Greek, Greek dances, Greek cooking, celebrate Greek holidays, etc? Surely not. I think we can all see how absurd that would be. Unfortunately, yes, many of the GOA churches have Greek school and dance troupes. And I think most of us (including the clergy and hierarchs) will tell you it is unfortunate, not the place of the church, and that we are trying to weed that stuff out. To take that further and say that not only would the EP NOT weed those things out, but would force them on other churches, that is just baseless and, I'm sorry, but falsehood.
Further, I too find it insulting to refer to him as a foreign despot.
I don’t think they understand, that our church here has this rich diversity, but that we all share a common identity.
Really? Nevermind that the GOA hierarchs rotate through the Patriarchal synod. Nevermind that many of those AT the Phanar are in one way or another connected to the United States (either themselves being from here, schooled here, having family here, having visited or lived here...). They just don't understand. Right.
. We all submit, to a foreign patriarchate, where all decisions will be made there, where we will have no say in the decisions that will be made, we will have no decisions in our own destiny, and we surrender the freedom that we have embraces as American Orthodox Christians, to a Patriarchate still under Islamic domination.
This one, I think, is the one that gets me the most upset, the one that is the MOST fear mongering. It is, in my opinion, the most irresponsible thing he said, as I feel sure he knows that it is not true (anyone who knows anything of the workings of the GOA knows it's not true, so surely he must). But, maybe I should again give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he has never been to a GOA church, knows no GOA hierarchs, knows nothing of how the GOA operates. Hard to believe, but I'm happy to give him the benefit of the doubt.
It is wrong to imply that the churches in the US, should they come under the omophorion of the EP, would be completely controlled in the way he says... that we would have no decisions, surrender our freedom, etc. That is just blatant falsehood. His All Holiness DOES NOT interfere in the workings of the GOA. He leaves them to the respective bishops. Why, then, would he turn around and do that to a united church in the US? It doesn't make any sense. It is baseless and false.
Further, I have a question to ask... this conciliar church he is proposing... where all the bishops sit on a synod "or something like that..." Who sits at the head? Yes, we are a conciliar church, but we are a HIERARCHAL Church, meaning, there is a hierarchy, with A hierarch at the head. No, I'm not proposing a pope. But every Church, every autocephalous church, even, has a synod WITH A HIERARCH (usually known as a Patriarch, Metropolitan, or Archbishop... anyone recognize those terms? Anyone?) sitting at the head! He talks about this synod (as though it's a novel idea... anyone remember SCOBA?), but offers no solution as to who sits at the head. Isn't that really the crux of the problem? I don't think the EP has a problem with a synod, otherwise SCOBA wouldn't exist (or the GOA wouldn't participate, at least). The question is who sits at the head, where does that person come from, who do they answer to (if anyone). It was mentioned earlier in this thread (or in the Challenges of Orthodoxy thread, I can't remember which), that the model has been to grant autocephaly to the church, and this is the most likely thing that would happen, should the American church come under the EP. Everyone seems to love to ignore that.
By the way, the crack about the pope right at the beginning was just nasty and uncalled for. I was truly, sincerely, disappointed in that. It is Lent, after all. Is that really what we should be doing? Slandering and name-calling fellow Orthodox brethren (never mind that the one he is going after is a fellow hierarch, one who outranks him, no less)... nice.
Really, I rejoiced along with everyone else when His Beatitude was elected. I still do. I think it's great, no, imperative, for the OCA to have a strong leader with a clear vision who can wade through the muck and bring the OCA back from the terrible things that have plagued it for so long. But I can love him and disagree with him, and I can love him and be disappointed by his words and certain aspects of his leadership. He is human. I love and respect him. I'm disappointed because I love and respect him and had hoped for something healing and loving, not petty and full of fear and falsehoods. I do say all these things with respect. If my tone appears disrespectful, I assure you it is NOT
because that is how I intended it. I attempted for the opposite, and if I have offended, then at this most important time of Lent I do ask for your forgiveness.
Forgive me a sinner.