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Author Topic: Why is the GOA (via the Observer) stirring the pot?  (Read 2257 times) Average Rating: 0
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Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)
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« on: July 20, 2009, 09:30:06 PM »

Please check out the Orthodox Observer article, Metropolitan Methodios Reflects on Orthodox Unity, May-June Issue. This article may be accessed either at http://www.goarch.org/news/observer or at http://www.boston.goarch.org/news/metropolis_news/431.html (the latter titled Reflections and dated April 15, 2009).

As many of us would recall, on April 5th Metropolitan Jonah, the Primate of the autocephalous Orthodox Church in America, had criticized the upcoming effort to solve the canonical status in the so-called diaspora, with special criticism placed on Constantinople. This address caused a mini storm, not unlike the one caused earlier by the Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of Constantinople and later by Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco (again Constantinople/GOA). Ten days later on April 17th, Metropolitan Jonah had offered an apology of sorts; it was not the white flag of surrender but it was at least an olive branch.

I do not know who makes editorial decisions in the GOA, but it seems to me that the inclusion of the above cited article by the Metropolitan Methodios of Boston (Constantinople/GOA) in the May-June 2009 edition must have been at a very high level. My question is why Constantinople/GOA has decided to continue to criticize Metropolitan Jonah. It seems to me that Constantinople has already won the issue of how to handle the so-called diaspora. It just seems pointless, except may be to criticize Metropolitan Jonah from sea to shining sea.

By the way, Metropolitan Methodios criticizes other (non-GOA) hierarchs who "who ignore and violate basic tenets of Orthodox Ecclesiology and Canon Law by placing Bishops in cities where there is already a canonical Orthodox Bishop." Does anybody else but me find this statement to be historical revisionism at best, especially when the other bookend of criticism is Metropolitan Gerasimos who was placed by Constantinople in San Francisco, of all places?
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2009, 11:09:19 PM »

Was there any new criticism of Met. Jonah in the Observer article or did they reprint what Met. Methodios reaction was to Met. Jonah's speech for the benefit of those who either do not have Internet access or were not aware of the events that transpired in April?
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2009, 11:41:51 PM »

Was there any new criticism of Met. Jonah in the Observer article or did they reprint what Met. Methodios reaction was to Met. Jonah's speech for the benefit of those who either do not have Internet access or were not aware of the events that transpired in April?

I think it is a reprint. I hope that you are righy or that the editorial decision was very early, perhaps as early as late April. In any case, your point would have been stronger had the magazine provided some context.
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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2009, 12:43:38 AM »

Was there any new criticism of Met. Jonah in the Observer article or did they reprint what Met. Methodios reaction was to Met. Jonah's speech for the benefit of those who either do not have Internet access or were not aware of the events that transpired in April?

I think it is a reprint. I hope that you are righy or that the editorial decision was very early, perhaps as early as late April. In any case, your point would have been stronger had the magazine provided some context.

In April, the Observer was preparing for their Easter edition.
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2009, 02:26:38 AM »

Although Metropolitan Methodios' speech was delivered before Metropolitan Jonah's Great Friday apology, it is stirring the pot, unnecessarily, by publishing it.  We've been fighting the which jurisdiction is right fight for 39 years to absolutely no avail.  I suspect publication of the article is a demonstration to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of how supportive we are of their position in the diaspora.  While I cannot support Metropolitan Jonah's speech after the Vespers Service, his apology is something all Orthodox Christians, including hierarchs, should be most humbled by.  A very rare example of Christ-like humility, a characteristic far too absent from contemporary episcopal behavior.

Also, the Holy Eparchial Synod's failure to correct Metropolitan Methodios' suspension of relations with the OCA within his metropolis is a gross failure to address pertinent concerns and maintain good ecclesiastical order in our pan-Orthodox relations. If his egocentric logic were to be applied across the continent, GOAA metropolis' in New York, (the primatial see), Pittsburgh, and Detroit would have to be abolished.  Allowing him to maintain this suspension of relations demonstrates a serious failure to fulfill their synodical responsibilities.  They can't even come up with a decent consistent English translation of the sacred services, what made me think they could address a fellow hierarchs wrongful, intemperate behavior?
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2009, 10:03:01 AM »

Although Metropolitan Methodios' speech was delivered before Metropolitan Jonah's Great Friday apology, it is stirring the pot, unnecessarily, by publishing it.  We've been fighting the which jurisdiction is right fight for 39 years to absolutely no avail.  I suspect publication of the article is a demonstration to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of how supportive we are of their position in the diaspora.  While I cannot support Metropolitan Jonah's speech after the Vespers Service, his apology is something all Orthodox Christians, including hierarchs, should be most humbled by.  A very rare example of Christ-like humility, a characteristic far too absent from contemporary episcopal behavior.

Also, the Holy Eparchial Synod's failure to correct Metropolitan Methodios' suspension of relations with the OCA within his metropolis is a gross failure to address pertinent concerns and maintain good ecclesiastical order in our pan-Orthodox relations. If his egocentric logic were to be applied across the continent, GOAA metropolis' in New York, (the primatial see), Pittsburgh, and Detroit would have to be abolished.  Allowing him to maintain this suspension of relations demonstrates a serious failure to fulfill their synodical responsibilities.  They can't even come up with a decent consistent English translation of the sacred services, what made me think they could address a fellow hierarchs wrongful, intemperate behavior?

I would add San Francisco to the list; it was established as a ROC Diocesan seat in 1874. In addition, while I do not know the dates of the establishment of each GOA diocese, I was able to glean the following from the GOA web site and its links:

Pittsburgh: 1979
Chicago: 1979
Boston: Diocesans 1923-1949 and 1979-on
Denver: 1979
Atlanta: 1997
Detroit: 1997
New Jersey: Even later.

There are non-GOA dioceses headquartered in New York, New Jersey, Boston, Pittsburgh, Detroit and San Francisco. I don't dare to determine which is the chicken and which is the egg, except for San Francisco.
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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2009, 10:25:33 AM »

The Observer does not need "high level" approval to print articles.  The article was printed, I suspect, because the paper has a standing policy of printing anything the bishops really want it to print - since a layman is in charge of the paper and is an archdiocesan employee, it is reasonable to assert that he's not in a position to say "no" to any of the hierarchs who make such a request.
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2009, 10:57:20 AM »

I would add San Francisco to the list; it was established as a ROC Diocesan seat in 1874. In addition, while I do not know the dates of the establishment of each GOA diocese, I was able to glean the following from the GOA web site and its links:

Pittsburgh: 1979
Chicago: 1979
Boston: Diocesans 1923-1949 and 1979-on
Denver: 1979
Atlanta: 1997
Detroit: 1997
New Jersey: Even later

Not that this matters much -- especially for the larger issues originally raised in this thread -- but many of your dates are wrong.

For example, New Jersey has been a See since 1977. Bishop Germanos was in Atlanta since at least the mid 50s. And Detroit was a See since the early 80s.
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2009, 11:09:16 AM »

I would add San Francisco to the list; it was established as a ROC Diocesan seat in 1874. In addition, while I do not know the dates of the establishment of each GOA diocese, I was able to glean the following from the GOA web site and its links:

Pittsburgh: 1979
Chicago: 1979
Boston: Diocesans 1923-1949 and 1979-on
Denver: 1979
Atlanta: 1997
Detroit: 1997
New Jersey: Even later

Not that this matters much -- especially for the larger issues originally raised in this thread -- but many of your dates are wrong.

For example, New Jersey has been a See since 1977. Bishop Germanos was in Atlanta since at least the mid 50s. And Detroit was a See since the early 80s.

It could be that up until the reorganization after Arch. Iakovos' of blessed memory's departure, the bishops were bishops of some vacant see in Anatolia, not of where they actually were.
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2009, 12:05:13 PM »

I would add San Francisco to the list; it was established as a ROC Diocesan seat in 1874. In addition, while I do not know the dates of the establishment of each GOA diocese, I was able to glean the following from the GOA web site and its links:

Pittsburgh: 1979
Chicago: 1979
Boston: Diocesans 1923-1949 and 1979-on
Denver: 1979
Atlanta: 1997
Detroit: 1997
New Jersey: Even later

Not that this matters much -- especially for the larger issues originally raised in this thread -- but many of your dates are wrong.

For example, New Jersey has been a See since 1977. Bishop Germanos was in Atlanta since at least the mid 50s. And Detroit was a See since the early 80s. 

There were bishops in each of those cities before the 1970's - however, they were not named for their city, but were instead referred to as "Archdiocesan Districts." (For example, Pittsburgh was District 6, and had at the very least 2 other hierarchs before Metropolitan +MAXIMOS was elected: Bishop GERASIMOS (67-77) and Bishop THEODOSIOS (60-67).  None of the aforementioned diocese on the GOA list are new (or new for the 70's - except maybe Detroit, carved out from Chicago's and Pittsburgh's areas), and in fact some of the dates listed refer to the enthronement of new hierarchs, not the establishment of the see.
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« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2009, 12:11:38 PM »

I hadn't mentioned Denver, New Jersey or Atlanta, because they are not seats of other Orthodox jurisdictions.

Chicago, Boston and San Francisco were diocesan seats for the GOAA while it operated under its original constitutional charter, in 1923, which designated their bishops as ruling bishops of dioceses, though a bishop was not elected for San Francisco until 1927.  

The GOAA's 1931 charter reduced their sees to auxiliary sees; however, the OCA's predecessor, the Metropolia, did not have a statute until the 1950's and their diocesan seats could be considered auxiliary seats in that era.  When Saint Tikhon moved the diocesan see to New York, he didn't leave a bishop in the San Francisco see.  In that case, the GOAA's see could be considered as having precedence.

All the jurisdictions had one national diocese and did not have regional dioceses, so the idea of an episcopal presence should be considered the standard.

The GOAA's Pittsburgh and Detroit episcopal seats were established in the 1950's as auxiliary seats.  I would still submit that the episcopal presence counts, yet the Russian Diocese had a bishop in Pittsburgh rather early on, between 1915 and 1918 I'd guess, though Pittsburgh was the see the Russian diocese had envisioned for the Greek auxiliary they had contemplated establishing.
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« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2009, 12:15:19 PM »

The Observer does not need "high level" approval to print articles.  The article was printed, I suspect, because the paper has a standing policy of printing anything the bishops really want it to print - since a layman is in charge of the paper and is an archdiocesan employee, it is reasonable to assert that he's not in a position to say "no" to any of the hierarchs who make such a request.

Telling that it was printed.  As to make a point.

Please check out the Orthodox Observer article, Metropolitan Methodios Reflects on Orthodox Unity, May-June Issue. This article may be accessed either at http://www.goarch.org/news/observer or at http://www.boston.goarch.org/news/metropolis_news/431.html (the latter titled Reflections and dated April 15, 2009).

As many of us would recall, on April 5th Metropolitan Jonah, the Primate of the autocephalous Orthodox Church in America, had criticized the upcoming effort to solve the canonical status in the so-called diaspora, with special criticism placed on Constantinople. This address caused a mini storm, not unlike the one caused earlier by the Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of Constantinople and later by Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco (again Constantinople/GOA). Ten days later on April 17th, Metropolitan Jonah had offered an apology of sorts; it was not the white flag of surrender but it was at least an olive branch.

which is still extended.  I don't see the white flag yet, in fact, his statement that the OCA would dissolve only into autocephalous Church in North America would indicate he doesn't have a white flag to wave.

Quote
I do not know who makes editorial decisions in the GOA, but it seems to me that the inclusion of the above cited article by the Metropolitan Methodios of Boston (Constantinople/GOA) in the May-June 2009 edition must have been at a very high level. My question is why Constantinople/GOA has decided to continue to criticize Metropolitan Jonah. It seems to me that Constantinople has already won the issue of how to handle the so-called diaspora. It just seems pointless, except may be to criticize Metropolitan Jonah from sea to shining sea.

Constantinople knows it has made its decision, and, giving credit where credit is due, managed to get the mainly non-affected Churches to sign on.  Now it has to enforce that decision. That would have been an easy sale with Met. Hermann.  With Met. Jonah, a much tougher sell.

Quote
By the way, Metropolitan Methodios criticizes other (non-GOA) hierarchs who "who ignore and violate basic tenets of Orthodox Ecclesiology and Canon Law by placing Bishops in cities where there is already a canonical Orthodox Bishop." Does anybody else but me find this statement to be historical revisionism at best, especially when the other bookend of criticism is Metropolitan Gerasimos who was placed by Constantinople in San Francisco, of all places?

On these threads:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20839.msg318739/topicseen.html#msg318739
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20839.msg312684/topicseen.html#msg312684
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20839.msg312677/topicseen.html#msg312677
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20260.msg303196/topicseen.html#msg303196
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20260.msg303239/topicseen.html#msg303239
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20260.msg305204/topicseen.html#msg305204

I show how the OCA preceded the EP in San Francisco, New York and Chicago.  I'm not sure off hand about other sees.

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« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2009, 12:23:25 PM »

Cleveland, Yes, one auxiliary bishop proceeded Bishop Theodosios of Ancona in the Sixth Archdiocesan District; Polyefkos (Finfinis), (spelling could be off on both of these), though I can't recall the title of the ancient see he held.  Bishop Anthimos succeeded Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos for a short time and Bishop Maximos was an auxiliary for a short period before the implementation of '77/'78 charter which changed the archdiocesan districts seats to diocesan sees.
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« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2009, 01:09:33 PM »

GOA is stirring the pot because they want to absorb all the other jurisdictions. As Met Philip said: It is the long arm of Constantinople.  I have just reread St John of Shanghai's sermon on Canon 28.  Only since Meletios has this canon suddenly become a big issue.  There are vast resources to be had in them hills Wink
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« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2009, 02:12:28 PM »

GOA is stirring the pot because they want to absorb all the other jurisdictions. As Met Philip said: It is the long arm of Constantinople.  I have just reread St John of Shanghai's sermon on Canon 28.  Only since Meletios has this canon suddenly become a big issue.  There are vast resources to be had in them hills Wink

I am not sure that Constantinople/GOA wants to absorb all the other jurisdictions. I think Constantinople/GOA wants to eat its cake and have it too in this sense: It wants to be the boss but does not want to do the first thing that it must to be the boss, that is to truly shed its ethnic/nationalistic character.

BTW, I do not think that we can do anything but start over from scratch.  All of the possible approaches have shortcomings: diocesans, hierarchical presence, all of the applicable canons--none of them are adequate. Constantinople's interpretation of Canon 28 is admittedly one way to approach our problem but it is deficient in so many ways that the mind boggles.

I say, let us simply get together using the principle of sobornost, constitute ourselves as an autocephalous church (just as Constantinople did not say "mother may I?" but just became), and get on with the work of the Lord.

Dioceses should be set up without any regard to the current sees and its occupants. The principal organizational criteria ought to be the actual pursuit of the Great Commission as our mission; delineation of ethnic and non-ethnic markets, with the latter being preeminent (mostly population-based); the complete rejection of phyletism at the national level, while making allowances for special ministries to ethnic parishes; and non-involvement in foreign affairs, except for humanitarian reasons.

We could have Diocesan and special ministry/ethnic bishops (auxiliaries to the Patriarch), with the latter phased out or in as needed. In the beginning also, the current bishops should be assigned by lot to the dioceses and the Patriarch elected on a limited term basis by the Holy Synod.

All these steps would serve us well to cut the umbilical cords to our mother churches; we cannot avoid this forever is we are to grow into infancy, adolescence and adulthood. On the other hand, cutting the umbilical cord does not alter the reality of close relationships with the mother churches--just as our biological mother does not cease to be one after the cord is cut.
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« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2009, 02:56:30 PM »

GOA is stirring the pot because they want to absorb all the other jurisdictions. As Met Philip said: It is the long arm of Constantinople.  I have just reread St John of Shanghai's sermon on Canon 28.  Only since Meletios has this canon suddenly become a big issue.  There are vast resources to be had in them hills Wink

Can you post a link to St. John's sermon.
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« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2009, 11:57:24 PM »

REPLY TO REPLY #14, Second Chance,

With due respect to what I perceive is the good intent of your proposal, I think it is a move that would be too drastic for the majority of the faithfull and the clergy at this time, even though it is long over due.  Despite the interest for administrate unity of you, me and probably the majority of the members of this forum, I don't not think it is even an issue the overwhelming majority of the faithfull desire or understand.  The OCA might be an exception to this statement.  I think it would result in schism and law suits in each jurisdiction.

That is why I am very supportive of the regional Episcopal Assemblies plan put forward by the IV Pre-Conciliar Commission for the Holy and Great Synod.  It would allow for the status quo to remain in place, but at the same time, would enable the Episcopal Assemblies to develop structures and activities for us to function routinely within a pan-Orthodox environment.  As pointed out in the Ligonier statement, there are no regional structures currently for such activities, nor are there regional links that would encourage local activities.  We must sponsor joint activities that enable us to be with each other, to experience the sharing of our oneness in faith.  These activities would include: services, conventions of similar programs, like religious education, charitable programs, retreats, spiritual renewal and youth activities, and much more.

Once a large percentage of the clergy and faithful have gotten accustomed to doing things jointly, nationally, regionally and locally, while maintaining current cultural variances as they now exist, unified  administration will naturally manifest itself, I believe.
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« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2009, 01:21:57 PM »

REPLY TO REPLY #14, Second Chance,

With due respect to what I perceive is the good intent of your proposal, I think it is a move that would be too drastic for the majority of the faithfull and the clergy at this time, even though it is long over due.  Despite the interest for administrate unity of you, me and probably the majority of the members of this forum, I don't not think it is even an issue the overwhelming majority of the faithfull desire or understand.  The OCA might be an exception to this statement.  I think it would result in schism and law suits in each jurisdiction.

That is why I am very supportive of the regional Episcopal Assemblies plan put forward by the IV Pre-Conciliar Commission for the Holy and Great Synod.  It would allow for the status quo to remain in place, but at the same time, would enable the Episcopal Assemblies to develop structures and activities for us to function routinely within a pan-Orthodox environment.  As pointed out in the Ligonier statement, there are no regional structures currently for such activities, nor are there regional links that would encourage local activities.  We must sponsor joint activities that enable us to be with each other, to experience the sharing of our oneness in faith.  These activities would include: services, conventions of similar programs, like religious education, charitable programs, retreats, spiritual renewal and youth activities, and much more.

Once a large percentage of the clergy and faithful have gotten accustomed to doing things jointly, nationally, regionally and locally, while maintaining current cultural variances as they now exist, unified  administration will naturally manifest itself, I believe.

Unfortunately, I believe you are correct. I just threw my ideas out there to plant a seed in folks' minds; primarily that it is indeed possible. Of course, there is another model: one that is somewhat between the Regional Episcopal Assemblies and the autocephaly idea. OCA is a member of SCOBA and yet it is also autocephalous. The model I was thinking of would be for other jurisdictions to join OCA, which in turn would be part of the regional assembly. So, you could have a continuous process, with the OCA growing bit by bit until all of the truly local dioceses/congregations came under it. If you still had some ethnic jurisdictions remain in the regional assembly, it is OK too.

I am looking at the target audience. In the USA alone, 40% of the people are unchurched (roughly 120 million folks). Orthodox constitute 1% of the population (our 3 million people). If the church were to succeed in getting just 5% of the unchurched, 15 million more folks would come into her fold.  I would expect most of them to be in OCA.
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« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2009, 09:13:45 AM »

Archimandrite  Touma (Bitar), Abbot of the Monastery of St. Silouan the Athonite at Douma, has written a reflection that was just published at the Orthodox Christians for Accountability. See http://www.ocanews.org/news/ToumaReflection7.22.09.html.

I found the following argument by this well-respected Abbot (Antiochian Patriarchate) very germane to our topic:

"The situation of all the Orthodox eparchies dependent on mother churches in North America is uncanonical. There is one Orthodox church in those lands whose situation is sound and canonical: the American Orthodox Church (OCA). This alone is independent and autocephalous and this is de-facto recognized by the other Orthodox eparchies. Its recognition, formal or implicit, by the eparchies depending on mother churches is clear and frank confirmation that the status of these eparchies is uncanonical and unsound. If these eparchies and mother churches on which they depend were to be logical with themselves and consistent with Orthodox ecclesiological and canonical thought, in the true sense of the word, then they would belong to the OCA or would at least enter into an understanding with it and the thorny crisis of the Orthodox presence there, theologically and canonically, would end. The simplest position and the most sound is for us to leave the Orthodox in North America to themselves and to encourage them to arrange their affairs themselves! We and the other mother churches are the ones who are complicating their affairs!

Naturally, there are those who claim that the problem of the diaspora is, to a great extent, a problem of nationalist sentiment. The sentiments exist, but not to the degree that is thought. The Church in the past has dealt with nationalism-- in Constantinople, in Antioch, and elsewhere-- and she is able to deal with it in every time and place whenever proper ecclesial sentiment abounds. But if nationalistic notions eclipse concern of the Church, then this is a dangerous event and a serious deviation because we are no longer a church possessing one faith, but rather a group of tribes. The truth is that the mother churches hold on to their eparchies in North America because they do not want to be stripped of their prerogatives and their benefits and their power there. The issue of money plays an important role in this matter and likewise does political and ecclesial influence. None of this has any connection to the Church in the exact meaning of the word, not to her theology, nor to her canons, nor to pastoral care for her people nor to her spirituality."
« Last Edit: July 23, 2009, 09:15:18 AM by Second Chance » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2009, 12:41:05 PM »

Here is the link to St John's sermon

www.aoiusa.org/main/page.php?page_id=129
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« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2009, 04:38:02 PM »

The Observer does not need "high level" approval to print articles.  The article was printed, I suspect, because the paper has a standing policy of printing anything the bishops really want it to print - since a layman is in charge of the paper and is an archdiocesan employee, it is reasonable to assert that he's not in a position to say "no" to any of the hierarchs who make such a request.

I agree, there was most likely no other bishops that actually had read this before it was printed, and certainly did not know that it would be printed.  I know that in our magazine, if a bishop wants an article printed, the two editors do not check with the other bishops before they print it.  They simply just print it. 
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« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2009, 04:48:53 PM »

By the way, Metropolitan Methodios criticizes other (non-GOA) hierarchs who "who ignore and violate basic tenets of Orthodox Ecclesiology and Canon Law by placing Bishops in cities where there is already a canonical Orthodox Bishop." Does anybody else but me find this statement to be historical revisionism at best, especially when the other bookend of criticism is Metropolitan Gerasimos who was placed by Constantinople in San Francisco, of all places?

This is a valid criticism, although I suspect that Metropolitan Methodius is sort of caught up with the "rub" of Bishop Nikon's presence in Boston.  Of course, Bishop Nikon's presence is the result of the Albanian cathedral also being the seat of OCA New England, and he is the bishop of both.   Since the Albanian Cathedral was there for quite some time, it became the seat of both.  Met. Methodius probably also has in mind Bishop Thomas' placement first in Pittsburgh (with Met. Maximos already being there), but the Antiochian Archdiocese corrected this in good faith, so it should not still be an issue.   But the San Francisco situation is a valid point!   It is the old "watch when you point because three fingers are pointed backward."  With these accusations against non-GOA bishops, someone could easily throw the grenade back and say "hoist on your own petard"
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