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Author Topic: Orthodox in US explore possibility of unifying  (Read 9281 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 26, 2009, 03:24:51 PM »

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America's Orthodox Christians, divided for decades among about 10 churches based on Greek or Serb or other ancestry, soon may be moving toward the formation of a united American Orthodox church.

Many of them have dreamed of that for decades, especially as conversions to Orthodoxy have skyrocketed. But most church patriarchs have squelched such talk.

Now it appears that the patriarchs are not only supporting but demanding some sort of unity. To explore what this may mean for believers in the United States, the independent, pan-Orthodox group Orthodox Christian Laity will gather for three days, starting Thursday, at Antiochian Village in Ligonier.

In 1994 that retreat center hosted the first and only gathering of all Orthodox bishops in North America. Believing they had approval from church patriarchs overseas, those bishops called for a united church in which the faithful would not be treated as "scattered children" of ancestral homelands.

But the ecumenical patriarch  denounced it as a rebellion against the ancient church and replaced the Greek archbishop who had led it. The unity movement lay dormant for 15 years.

Then, in June, the 14 Old World patriarchs gathered in Chambesy, Switzerland, and declared that all Orthodox bishops outside of traditional Orthodox lands -- including North America -- will begin meeting to address their own issues in their own lands.

This week's lay conference will examine what it may take to achieve unity. There are significant questions about how ethnic traditions will continue to be honored and whether laity will have as much of a voice in a unified church as they have in some of the smaller ones.

The patriarchs "are asking the Orthodox Christians in the so-called lands beyond the ancient world to show that they can create a unified, multicultural church in their land. That's a very dramatic development," said George Matsoukas, executive director of Orthodox Christian Laity. The first meeting of American bishops is set for May.

The keynote speaker at Ligonier will be Metropolitan Jonah, leader of the Orthodox Church in America, a self-governing offshoot of the Russian Orthodox Church. Although it is one of the most Americanized bodies -- and he is a Chicago-born convert -- it potentially has much to lose in the formation of a new American church.

Orthodoxy is the Eastern wing of an ancient church that split into the Orthodox and Catholic churches in 1054 in a disputes over papal authority and doctrine. Its ecumenical patriarch in Constantinople -- modern-day Istanbul, Turkey -- has no authority over the other patriarchs, but is "first among equals." He has direct authority over the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, which is at least 100 times the size of his flock in Turkey.

The Russian Orthodox Church began sending missionaries across the Bering Sea to Alaska before the American Revolution, and originally had jurisdiction over North America.

But after the Russian church was crippled by the 1917 communist revolution, many Orthodox bodies worldwide created a jumble of overlapping ethnic mission dioceses in North America. This violates church law, which dictates one bishop per city; Pittsburgh has several.

The June meeting in Switzerland was part of decades-long preparations for the first Great Council of Orthodox bishops since 787, which is expected to untangle the American hodge-podge.

"The idea of unity in America is really a very conservative movement," Mr. Matsoukas said. But it has been resisted from overseas, where churches that struggled under communism or Islam rely on American support.

Disputed estimates say there are at least 225 million Orthodox worldwide. The United States had claimed 5 million. But a study by the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, found no more than 1.3 million -- roughly half of them Greek Orthodox.

It found that 90 percent of parishioners in the two largest bodies were American-born. More than half were converts.

"That was much more than I expected," said Alexei Krindatch, research director of the institute. He also found that overwhelming majorities of both bodies wanted unity.

No one from America attended the gathering in Switzerland. So no one from churches here knows why the patriarchs chose to call for unity now.

"The Orthodox unity project has been either stalled or losing ground since the 1970s. So this Chambesy thing, which came out of the clear blue sky, has some people really excited and many people puzzled about how things will work," said Andrew Walsh, an Orthodox historian at the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, Hartford, Conn.

Since the ill-fated 1994 Ligonier meeting, the ecumenical patriarch "has vigorously sent messages [to the Greek archdiocese] to be quiet about this. And people have been," Dr. Walsh said.

"But many people have been frustrated by these slow discussions on unity. What this means is that permission has been given for the Greek side to take it seriously."

Dr. Walsh, who is Greek Orthodox, said non-Greeks worry that the new structure will favor Greeks, in part because the next two strongest groups have been hamstrung by internal turmoil. The Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, which has its roots in the Middle East, had led the unity movement.

But the Orthodox Church in America is emerging from years of financial scandal. And an uproar over bishops' authority -- pitting some immigrant Arab priests against convert bishops -- has erupted among the Antiochians, who have a patriarch in Syria, but are an Americanized magnet for converts.

The sudden move for unity "is happening at a time when it's clear that tensions over how we will get along with one another -- especially the converts and ethnic Orthodox -- are looking really bad," Mr. Walsh said.

The Rev. John Abdalah, dean of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland, said the Antiochian conflict has been blown out of proportion and is being resolved. He hopes to attend the Ligonier meeting.

"The more we all get to work together and to know each other intimately, the easier [unity] will be," he said.

The Rev. Thomas Soroka, pastor of St. Nicholas, an Orthodox Church in America parish in McKees Rocks, has mixed feelings about the new call for unity.

He's elated that the ecumenical patriarch and Greek archdiocese now support unity, but worried that they may discount the Orthodox Church in America. The patriarchs decreed that the representative of the ecumenical patriarch -- the Greek archbishop -- will preside at the unified bishops assembly. Standing among the others appears to be ordered according to historic status in the ancient world.

That could give a major role to the Bulgarians, who have a handful of U.S. parishes, and minimize or eliminate the Orthodox Church in America, whose independence from Moscow has never been recognized by Constantinople, he said.

"The OCA is really at a crossroads. There are decisions being made about us, and we are unable to participate in those discussions," Father Soroka said.

He's not concerned about whether his team will have power, he said, but whether the unified church will take the gospel to mainstream America.

"The OCA has been extremely vocal that we are a missionary church," he said. "We're going to have to see whether this [bishops] assembly can articulate that mission, or whether it will fall back into an old-world mentality where the key words are 'maintain and preserve' rather than 'reach out and evangelize.' "

Metropolitan Maximos, the Greek Orthodox bishop of Pittsburgh and an architect of the ill-fated 1994 Ligonier conference, believes the Orthodox Church in America will have an important voice in the new body.

"I'm not worried about the Bulgarians," he said. In the movement for unity, "they don't mean that much. The OCA in itself means much and the Antiochian archdiocese means so much regarding Orthodox unity."

He won't be in Ligonier. But he is still working for unity. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew arrived Tuesday in the United States. Metropolitan Maximos plans to urge him to make unity a priority.

"He is a very wise person and I would like him to be fully involved in this project. There will be no progress without him," Metropolitan Maximos said.

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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2009, 03:37:10 PM »

Imagine! And organized American Orthodox Church!

That truly would be a miracle!  laugh
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2009, 07:27:17 PM »

The unity perhaps envisioned by the EP is something whereby there is one Orthodox jurisdiction, but ultimately answerable to him.  In other words, we will be a united diaspora province under the Ecumenical Patriarchate and all the other Metropolitans here will be suboridnate to his appointed Exarch, like Archbishop DEMETRIUS (today's his name day; many years, Master!).  The EP and for that matter the other jurisdictions, with the exception of the OCA since they are autocephalous, are not going to give up their prized cash cow to follow the canons.  Money is at stake. 

Sorry to sound so negative, but we've heard this song many times before and I'm still not dancing along.
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2009, 11:10:40 AM »

You know, in the United States we believe in freedom of religion and in the competition of ideas.  None of this existed in our Church history until relatively recently. I think new canons are needed for the Church to function in this new reality. Therefore, let there be an autocephalous Church in North America, along with the exarchates of Constantinople, and any of the other foreign churches who wish to do so. And, let the Canadian, American and Mexican people vote with their feet. If any of these entities is worthy, it will grow and prosper. Right now, none of them seem to be favored by God as the percentage of Orthodox (at least in the United States) has remained constant at about 1% for decades. Ladies and gents, holding steady at 1 percent is a scandal for a Church that proclaims itself to be the true church.

BTW, the primary source of the quoted article is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09299/1008355-84.stm#ixzz0V7F54QFj
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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2009, 01:22:45 PM »

You know, in the United States we believe in freedom of religion and in the competition of ideas.  None of this existed in our Church history until relatively recently. I think new canons are needed for the Church to function in this new reality. Therefore, let there be an autocephalous Church in North America, along with the exarchates of Constantinople, and any of the other foreign churches who wish to do so. And, let the Canadian, American and Mexican people vote with their feet. If any of these entities is worthy, it will grow and prosper. Right now, none of them seem to be favored by God as the percentage of Orthodox (at least in the United States) has remained constant at about 1% for decades. Ladies and gents, holding steady at 1 percent is a scandal for a Church that proclaims itself to be the true church.

BTW, the primary source of the quoted article is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09299/1008355-84.stm#ixzz0V7F54QFj

A submit that the plurality of witness (in other words, lack of witness to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church) is a factor in the 1% ceiling.
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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2009, 01:32:10 PM »

Actually, last Pew survey had the Orthodox at .6%. That's six-tenths of one percent.
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2009, 01:59:47 PM »

We are united through the Divine Liturgy and our saints, not bureaucrats.  Surely it is not what we do, but who we are.  If some of our churches remain empty it is because we don't use them for worship on  a daily basis. Archpriest Alexei Mechev served in empty churches for 10 years.  Other clergy laughed at him.  Later his church was filled with 5000 people and he became the confessor of Moscow at a time when he was needed.
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2009, 02:40:20 PM »

You know, in the United States we believe in freedom of religion and in the competition of ideas.  None of this existed in our Church history until relatively recently. I think new canons are needed for the Church to function in this new reality. Therefore, let there be an autocephalous Church in North America, along with the exarchates of Constantinople, and any of the other foreign churches who wish to do so. And, let the Canadian, American and Mexican people vote with their feet. If any of these entities is worthy, it will grow and prosper. Right now, none of them seem to be favored by God as the percentage of Orthodox (at least in the United States) has remained constant at about 1% for decades. Ladies and gents, holding steady at 1 percent is a scandal for a Church that proclaims itself to be the true church.

BTW, the primary source of the quoted article is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09299/1008355-84.stm#ixzz0V7F54QFj

A submit that the plurality of witness (in other words, lack of witness to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church) is a factor in the 1% ceiling.

It may for some. Let's assume that by unifying we can double our presence: that gives us anywhere from 1.2% to 2%,. You can triple and quadruple membership and still remain insignificant. I think there are many issues that we should consider. However, "out of the box" thinking goes against the grain.

Let me put it in secular terms. In many organizations, process improvement are undertaken to engage and retain clients. They work only if the change team is client oriented, that is, they change the organizational processes to serve clients better; change projects do not work if they attempt to change clients to serve the organization. Let me be clear, I am not talking about doctrine; I am talking about ecclesiology, canons, and orientation. As long as we are wedded to all traditions, small and capital "t" alike, we are not going to go anywhere.
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2009, 04:24:39 PM »

As long as we are wedded to all traditions, small and capital "t" alike, we are not going to go anywhere.

Where exactly are you proposing we are trying to go and at what costs?



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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2009, 08:16:39 PM »

Second Chance, please expand on the small and capital 't' traditions we should divorce ourselves from.
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2009, 09:44:43 PM »

As long as we are wedded to all traditions, small and capital "t" alike, we are not going to go anywhere.

Where exactly are you proposing we are trying to go and at what costs?



Yours in Christ
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Vision: To be the church of choice for a majority of the unchurched.

Mission: To effectively and efficiently implement the Great Commission and to demonstrate through positive deeds, particularly at local communities, that the faith of the Orthodox communities is a living one.

Costs: This will require a much more active role for the laity, along with the re-institution of apostolic practices, such as married bishops and permanent deacons and deaconesses, among other things. I don't think that any of this should be costly (monetarily) or to dramatically alter who we are. I do recognize that a real cost may be great reluctance that may at times lead to schisms.
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2009, 09:52:53 PM »

Second Chance, please expand on the small and capital 't' traditions we should divorce ourselves from.

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware in his The Orthodox Church made that distinction. He said, and I am paraphrasing, that some of the things that we do and believe are pious customs (tradition with a small "t"), while other things are essential to our faith (tradition with a capital "T").

Father Schmemann in his Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy, again I am working from memory, went a bit further and cautioned us to always question the past because treating pious customs as Holy Tradition expose us to paganism and cultic practices. (please take that last bit with a grain of salt as is is my interpretation--he did warn us though to treat tradition with small "t" as if it were the real thing). I am sorry that I am not giving you actual quotations as I do not have access to those two references right now.
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2009, 10:02:16 PM »

As long as we are wedded to all traditions, small and capital "t" alike, we are not going to go anywhere.

Where exactly are you proposing we are trying to go and at what costs?



Yours in Christ
Joe

Vision: To be the church of choice for a majority of the unchurched.

Mission: To effectively and efficiently implement the Great Commission and to demonstrate through positive deeds, particularly at local communities, that the faith of the Orthodox communities is a living one.

Costs: This will require a much more active role for the laity, along with the re-institution of apostolic practices, such as married bishops and permanent deacons and deaconesses, among other things. I don't think that any of this should be costly (monetarily) or to dramatically alter who we are. I do recognize that a real cost may be great reluctance that may at times lead to schisms.

Sounds grossly Protestant.  Christ says that when He returns, there will be little Faith left.  Small numbers should not be an issue.  Preserving the fullness of the Faith is the mission.  How many people choose to accept that is not up to us.  I also do not understand the concept of "insignificance".  If we have faith in God, what is more significant?  At one time the Orthodox Church comprised of no more than Athanasius and twelve known followers.  So what?  The heretics did not prevail.  Or what about the Prophet who cried out to God that he was the only one left in Israel.  God answered that there were 7000 who had not bowed knee to Baal.  This whole numbers game is nothing other than a distraction from the Evil One.  The "Churches" will one day unit, but it will be under the AntiChrist.  I want no part of this unity.  Each Orthodox Christian has unity with Christ through the Divine Mysteries.  Nothing else is needed.  This striving for a unified bureaucracy is not from God.
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« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2009, 12:58:53 AM »

Quote
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware in his The Orthodox Church made that distinction. He said, and I am paraphrasing, that some of the things that we do and believe are pious customs (tradition with a small "t"), while other things are essential to our faith (tradition with a capital "T").

Father Schmemann in his Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy, again I am working from memory, went a bit further and cautioned us to always question the past because treating pious customs as Holy Tradition expose us to paganism and cultic practices. (please take that last bit with a grain of salt as is is my interpretation--he did warn us though to treat tradition with small "t" as if it were the real thing). I am sorry that I am not giving you actual quotations as I do not have access to those two references right now.

For slightly more background (though not much), there is always this thread.
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2009, 02:59:22 PM »

As long as we are wedded to all traditions, small and capital "t" alike, we are not going to go anywhere.

Where exactly are you proposing we are trying to go and at what costs?



Yours in Christ
Joe

Vision: To be the church of choice for a majority of the unchurched.

Mission: To effectively and efficiently implement the Great Commission and to demonstrate through positive deeds, particularly at local communities, that the faith of the Orthodox communities is a living one.

Costs: This will require a much more active role for the laity, along with the re-institution of apostolic practices, such as married bishops and permanent deacons and deaconesses, among other things. I don't think that any of this should be costly (monetarily) or to dramatically alter who we are. I do recognize that a real cost may be great reluctance that may at times lead to schisms.

Sounds grossly Protestant.  Christ says that when He returns, there will be little Faith left.  Small numbers should not be an issue.  Preserving the fullness of the Faith is the mission.  How many people choose to accept that is not up to us.  I also do not understand the concept of "insignificance".  If we have faith in God, what is more significant?  At one time the Orthodox Church comprised of no more than Athanasius and twelve known followers.  So what?  The heretics did not prevail.  Or what about the Prophet who cried out to God that he was the only one left in Israel.  God answered that there were 7000 who had not bowed knee to Baal.  This whole numbers game is nothing other than a distraction from the Evil One.  The "Churches" will one day unit, but it will be under the AntiChrist.  I want no part of this unity.  Each Orthodox Christian has unity with Christ through the Divine Mysteries.  Nothing else is needed.  This striving for a unified bureaucracy is not from God.

While I do not share your outlook, I understand what you are saying, to include your initial reaction that this is "grossly Protestant."  I admit that I am protesting the current state of affairs, not because I have Luther's theses or beliefs but because I disagree with a number of things that the Orthodox Church teachers and practices outside of doctrinal matters.

I am not familiar with the teaching that when the Lord returns there will be very little faith left. I am familiar, however, with the following sayings of the Lord:

Matthew 28:16-20. Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Matthew 7: 16 "By their fruit you will recognize them."

John 15:1-2. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

John 15: 16. "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."

Saint Paul said:

Colossians 1:10. "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,"

Ephesians 4:11-13. "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

Saint James said:

James 2:14. "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?"

James 2:20: "But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?"

It is clear to me that we are not called to hunker down in our own bunkers and zealously protect what WE perceive the be the fullness of the faith. If what I am doing and how I am doing it seem Protestant, so be it.

By the way, I agree with you that the unity of faith is much broader than administrative unity. Nonetheless, there is a place for administrative unity (strongly implied above by Saint Paul in Ephesians 4) and I believe that we will eventually get there. I do not think that it would be preferable to force this issue just for the sake of it; it should come naturally as the people of God  grow closer to each other in love.
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« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2009, 04:14:36 PM »

Costs: This will require a much more active role for the laity, along with the re-institution of apostolic practices, such as married bishops and permanent deacons and deaconesses, among other things. I don't think that any of this should be costly (monetarily) or to dramatically alter who we are. I do recognize that a real cost may be great reluctance that may at times lead to schisms.
There most certainly would be a schism between the Orthodox Church and this new faith proposed above.

Lord, have mercy!
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« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2009, 08:56:39 AM »

Costs: This will require a much more active role for the laity, along with the re-institution of apostolic practices, such as married bishops and permanent deacons and deaconesses, among other things. I don't think that any of this should be costly (monetarily) or to dramatically alter who we are. I do recognize that a real cost may be great reluctance that may at times lead to schisms.
There most certainly would be a schism between the Orthodox Church and this new faith proposed above.

Lord, have mercy!

This is not a "new faith," but a very old version of the Orthodox faith. One may say that it is the faith as practiced in the Apostolic Age. It is indeed sad that you think that these non-doctrinal changes would cause schism. It is a tragedy that you infer that this is a heterodox church.
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« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2009, 09:26:28 AM »

This is not a "new faith," but a very old version of the Orthodox faith.
One that precedes the Seven Councils and denies the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit.

One may say that it is the faith as practiced in the Apostolic Age.

But one many not say that it is the faith of the Orthodox Christian Church.

It is a tragedy that you infer that this is a heterodox church.
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« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2009, 12:27:48 PM »

This is not a "new faith," but a very old version of the Orthodox faith.
Quote
One that precedes the Seven Councils and denies the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This is a blanket statement, which I will answer with specifics. You may not know but it is a fact that the last canon of the Seven Councils that addressed the issue of married bishops did not forbid the consecration of married persons to the episcopacy, it merely required the bishop and his wife to be physically separated (Canon 12 of Trullo). The subsequent practice of consecrating only widowers and monastics turns out to be pious custom. It is also pious custom not to have deaconesses and the treat the office of deacon largely as a stepping stone to the priesthood.

One may say that it is the faith as practiced in the Apostolic Age.

Quote
But one many not say that it is the faith of the Orthodox Christian Church.
So the Apostolic Church was not Orthodox? Look, I know what you are trying to say; I have already admitted that the Church today differs somewhat from what it was before. Just to give you a modern example, you must be aware of the Patriarchate of Constantinople's attempt to drastically change the common Orthodox interpretation of canon 28. You may be aware of Metropolitan Philip's (Antiochian Archdiocese) attempt to change the status of diocesan bishops. You should be aware of the insensible schism over the calendar issue. On the other hand, you may be one of those who absolutely panic when faced with change.

It is a tragedy that you infer that this is a heterodox church.
It walks like American Episcopalianism, it talks like American Episcopalianism...
In what sense? There are now two American Episcopalian Churches and a Western Rite (Episcopal) Orthodox Church. Are you offended by my call for much greater involvement by the laity?
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« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2009, 12:49:06 PM »

In what sense? There are now two American Episcopalian Churches and a Western Rite (Episcopal) Orthodox Church. Are you offended by my call for much greater involvement by the laity?
Yes, their innovation has created schism within their own church. Why would we want to emulate that?

Quote
...married bishops and permanent deacons and deaconesses, among other things...
Married bishops and deaconesses (which historically did not serve in the same manner as deacons) are part of the Church's past, not its present nor its future. And I'm inherently suspicious of 'among other things' as that could encompass the Episcopalians naming women and homosexuals as bishops.

By the way, I'm confused by the term 'permanent deacons' as I've yet to meet a temporary one. Please explain.
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« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2009, 01:32:35 PM »

In what sense? There are now two American Episcopalian Churches and a Western Rite (Episcopal) Orthodox Church. Are you offended by my call for much greater involvement by the laity?
Yes, their innovation has created schism within their own church. Why would we want to emulate that?

Quote
...married bishops and permanent deacons and deaconesses, among other things...
Married bishops and deaconesses (which historically did not serve in the same manner as deacons) are part of the Church's past, not its present nor its future. And I'm inherently suspicious of 'among other things' as that could encompass the Episcopalians naming women and homosexuals as bishops.

By the way, I'm confused by the term 'permanent deacons' as I've yet to meet a temporary one. Please explain.

Permanent Deacons: Those deacons who do not wish to become priests but function in the New Testament roles.

Married bishops and deaconesses:  They belong in the past  and not in our future? You stated this so categorically, I was for one nano-second tempted to accept it as definitive. Well, it is your turn to explain to me why it is not to be.

Among other things: No, I did not mean that it would/could encompass naming women and homosexuals as bishops. and, no, I will not tell you what I meant by it because you seem bent on twisting and dismissing what I say.

Increased role of the laity: I do not know if you are attributing female clergy and practicing gay bishops to the innovations of the laity or not. I happen to believe that these innovations were advocated mainly by the clergy, or at least equally by the clergy and the laity, but hey, no difference right? By increased role I meant the various ministries that a vibrant, evangelizing, community-serving church must have. Now, if you believe that laity are there  only to "pray, obey, and pay," that is your misfortune.
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« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2009, 02:15:52 PM »

Permanent Deacons: Those deacons who do not wish to become priests but function in the New Testament roles.

?
We have those. My cathedral parish has 2, I know of at least 3 others in the diocese, and I've never heard that we were unusual in this. In fact the reverse, the fact that Orthodoxy maintains the deaconate as a permanent office and not purely a stepping stone is something I've seen multiple people reference as a difference between us and the Roman Catholics.
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« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2009, 02:48:26 PM »

Permanent Deacons: Those deacons who do not wish to become priests but function in the New Testament roles.

?
We have those. My cathedral parish has 2, I know of at least 3 others in the diocese, and I've never heard that we were unusual in this. In fact the reverse, the fact that Orthodoxy maintains the deaconate as a permanent office and not purely a stepping stone is something I've seen multiple people reference as a difference between us and the Roman Catholics.

Actually, it appears that I inadvertently used the Roman Catholic term, "permanent deacon," that was instituted after Vatican II. I checked Wiki and found about the current Roman Catholic practice: "Following the recommendations of the council (in Lumen Gentium 29), in 1967 Pope Paul VI issued the motu proprio Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem, restoring the ancient practice of ordaining to the diaconate men who were not candidates for priestly ordination. These men are known as permanent deacons in contrast to those completing their training, who were then called traditional deacons. There is no sacramental difference between the two, however, as there is only one order of deacons." Vow, another reason to hate my proposal!

Anyway, what I meant was to increase the number of such deacons. The Orthodox Church in America and other jurisdictions (the Antiochian Archdiocese is one) that encourage, train and use permanent deacons are doing the right thing. You know, there are so many serving ministries that permanent deacons and lay folks can serve, we just need to organize and use our talents better. By the way, I mean permanent deacons whose primary function is not to assist the Priest in the various mysteries.

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« Reply #23 on: October 29, 2009, 03:04:39 PM »

Costs: This will require a much more active role for the laity,

Our problem today is that we are too congregational as it is.

Quote
along with the re-institution of apostolic practices, such as married bishops and permanent deacons and deaconesses

We didn't get rid of married bishops and deaconesses for nothing.
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« Reply #24 on: October 29, 2009, 03:37:32 PM »

Costs: This will require a much more active role for the laity,

Our problem today is that we are too congregational as it is.

Quote
along with the re-institution of apostolic practices, such as married bishops and permanent deacons and deaconesses

We didn't get rid of married bishops and deaconesses for nothing.

Wrong and wrong again, as usual.
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« Reply #25 on: October 29, 2009, 03:54:40 PM »

Costs: This will require a much more active role for the laity,

Our problem today is that we are too congregational as it is.

Quote
along with the re-institution of apostolic practices, such as married bishops and permanent deacons and deaconesses

We didn't get rid of married bishops and deaconesses for nothing.

Wrong and wrong again, as usual.

Then perhaps you should come back from the land of the Lollipop King and join the real world for a change.
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« Reply #26 on: October 29, 2009, 04:15:51 PM »

We didn't get rid of married bishops and deaconesses for nothing.

Wrong and wrong again, as usual.

We got rid of them for "nothing?"  That's news to me.  An argument for the restoration does not have to include dismissal or insult toward the reasoning for the original banishment, you know.
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« Reply #27 on: October 29, 2009, 04:54:51 PM »

Married bishops and deaconesses:  They belong in the past  and not in our future? You stated this so categorically, I was for one nano-second tempted to accept it as definitive. Well, it is your turn to explain to me why it is not to be.
That they are in the past of the Church is easily verified.

That the Church stopped both practices long ago (since before the Seventh Council, perhaps?) is quite apparent (although I'm not about to go looking to determine exactly when this occurred).

Do you believe that the Church is being guided by the Holy Spirit?

If so, then the Church reached a point where these offices were not needed. That point is now in our past and we are moving further away from it.

If we will need them in the future, than the Church made a mistake by eliminating both practices. In which case either the Church isn't lead by the Holy Spirit and committed an error, or the Holy Spirit lead us astray (I don't think so!). If you believe that either of those options are viable, well then, I don't really know what to tell you.
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« Reply #28 on: October 29, 2009, 05:08:31 PM »

We didn't get rid of married bishops and deaconesses for nothing.

Wrong and wrong again, as usual.

We got rid of them for "nothing?"  That's news to me.  An argument for the restoration does not have to include dismissal or insult toward the reasoning for the original banishment, you know.

Sorry, I got irritated. Instead of objecting to my point with a cogent argument, Ukie covered it with a flippant remark, in  my view. I honestly do not know an official reason because the only thing that would be applicable as an ecumenical canon, as opposed to practice, is Trullan Canon 12. Again, this canon did not do away with married bishops, it merely forced married bishops to live separately from their wives. Through the ensuing 13 centuries, the practice seems to have changed to what we have today, which is not keeping with Trullan Canon 12, Apostolic Canons 4 and 6, 1 Timothy 3, or the Lord's commandment--"What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Matthew 19:6)" It really is strange, for a church that proclaims its fidelity to Holy Tradition to so easily discard essential elements of this Tradition with mere practice. Yes, we have talked about the Mind of the Church and I did at one point agree that there may be something to it. I now have my doubts that we should give it so much credence because the Holy Spirit may well have guided the Church to change its practices to cope with the historical circumstances. To deny change now would be akin to denying that the Holy Spirit has ceased guiding us.
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« Reply #29 on: October 29, 2009, 06:03:49 PM »

Married bishops and deaconesses:  They belong in the past  and not in our future? You stated this so categorically, I was for one nano-second tempted to accept it as definitive. Well, it is your turn to explain to me why it is not to be.
That they are in the past of the Church is easily verified.

That the Church stopped both practices long ago (since before the Seventh Council, perhaps?) is quite apparent (although I'm not about to go looking to determine exactly when this occurred).

Do you believe that the Church is being guided by the Holy Spirit?

If so, then the Church reached a point where these offices were not needed. That point is now in our past and we are moving further away from it.

If we will need them in the future, than the Church made a mistake by eliminating both practices. In which case either the Church isn't lead by the Holy Spirit and committed an error, or the Holy Spirit lead us astray (I don't think so!). If you believe that either of those options are viable, well then, I don't really know what to tell you.

I grant you that this is a very difficult problem for us. I do think, however, that the choices are not restricted to the two that you cited. I believe that the choices include the possibilities that the Holy Spirit blessed the choices made in changing the Church's practice because a particular change may have been beneficial at that time. Let's take the issue of married bishops chronologically:

1. At first, the Apostolic Church was vehemently opposed to separating a husband from his wife in accordance with the Lord's commandment (see my response to Father George above).

2. At the same time, bishops (like priests and deacons) were single or married men, who maintained their status upon ordination. This was based on 1 Timothy 3 ( 1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil) and the Apostolic Canon 6 (Let not a bishop, a priest, or a deacon cast off his own wife under pretence of piety; but if he does cast her off, let him be suspended. If he go on in it, let him be deprived."

3. At the Trullan Council (692 AD) that was called by Emperor Justinian II to put his religious policies into effect, the Fathers enacted Canon 12, which I am quoting in full:

"Moreover this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offence to the people.  Since, therefore, it is our particular care that all things tend to the good of the flock placed in our hands and committed to us,—it has seemed good that henceforth nothing of the kind shall in any way occur.  And we say this, not to abolish and overthrow what things were established of old by Apostolic authority, but as caring for the health of the people and their advance to better things, and lest the ecclesiastical state should suffer any reproach. For the divine Apostle says:  “Do all to the glory of God, give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Greeks, nor to the Church of God, even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit but the profit of many, that they may be saved.  Be ye imitators of me even as I also am of Christ.”  But if any shall have been observed to do such a thing, let him be deposed."

So, somewhere between the 3rd and 7th centuries, the Holy Spirit guided the Church, through the person of a layman (Emperor Justinian II) and the Fathers assembled at Trullo, to change long-standing policy and practice, even though it was explicitly against the commandments and prescriptions of the Lord, His Holy Apostle Paul and the Apostolic Era Fathers who composed the Apostolic canons. And yet, we do not have an outright ban of married bishops, just the forceful separation of the married bishop from his wife.

4. Between 692 AD and now, there are no ecumenical canons (actually no canon that I am aware of) that has updated Trullan Canon 12. Yet, this canon was further changed by practice so that we now have no married bishops period (we do have widowers). I happen to think that this is a more humane way and this way also does not cause a violation of the Lord's commandment or of Apostolic Canon 6. 

So, if we are to accept your argument that the Holy Spirit guided us to where we are today, you must be open to the idea that the holy Spirit may guide us in a different direction tomorrow. This is not a matter of the Church being in error. Let me put it this way:

If continuing revelation (guidance by the Holy Spirit) is reality, changes are a possibility.

If not, we must stick with the primary sources. Period. (This is the Protestant approach by the Way--sola scriptura).

One cannot say that the Holy Spirit guided us through serious changes and yet assert that changes are a thing of the past. So, you are correct: your two options are viable but the third option that I presented is more in line with Orthodox theology.
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« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2009, 07:50:42 PM »

Married bishops and deaconesses:  They belong in the past  and not in our future? You stated this so categorically, I was for one nano-second tempted to accept it as definitive. Well, it is your turn to explain to me why it is not to be.
That they are in the past of the Church is easily verified.

That the Church stopped both practices long ago (since before the Seventh Council, perhaps?) is quite apparent (although I'm not about to go looking to determine exactly when this occurred).

I do believe we have several threads on the deaconesses being revived in Greece.

Quote
Do you believe that the Church is being guided by the Holy Spirit?

If so, then the Church reached a point where these offices were not needed. That point is now in our past and we are moving further away from it.

You sound like a Modernist. There are plenty of places on the globe where such offices are still, or again, needed.

Quote
If we will need them in the future, than the Church made a mistake by eliminating both practices.

 Huh
How do you conclude that?

Quote
In which case either the Church isn't lead by the Holy Spirit and committed an error, or the Holy Spirit lead us astray (I don't think so!).

How about changing circumstances in a changing world?  Neither are dogma, so I don't see how you draw such dire conclusions.

Btw, there are plenty of things that fall under the mistake category: the way the Nikonian reforms were implemented, the abolition of the Bulgarian, Serbian, etc. patriarchates, the suppression of the Antiochian and Alexandrian rites.... That doesn't say anything about the Holy Spirit, just the hardness of men's hearts.  Take for instance, the outcome of the Synod of the Oak.


Quote
If you believe that either of those options are viable, well then, I don't really know what to tell you.
So everything is of equal value?  The Trinity, the Incarnation, the number of loaves in the Proskomedia....
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« Reply #31 on: October 30, 2009, 12:34:13 PM »

Married bishops and deaconesses:  They belong in the past  and not in our future? You stated this so categorically, I was for one nano-second tempted to accept it as definitive. Well, it is your turn to explain to me why it is not to be.
That they are in the past of the Church is easily verified.

That the Church stopped both practices long ago (since before the Seventh Council, perhaps?) is quite apparent (although I'm not about to go looking to determine exactly when this occurred).

I do believe we have several threads on the deaconesses being revived in Greece.

Quote
Do you believe that the Church is being guided by the Holy Spirit?

If so, then the Church reached a point where these offices were not needed. That point is now in our past and we are moving further away from it.

You sound like a Modernist. There are plenty of places on the globe where such offices are still, or again, needed.

Quote
If we will need them in the future, than the Church made a mistake by eliminating both practices.

 Huh
How do you conclude that?

Quote
In which case either the Church isn't lead by the Holy Spirit and committed an error, or the Holy Spirit lead us astray (I don't think so!).

How about changing circumstances in a changing world?  Neither are dogma, so I don't see how you draw such dire conclusions.

Btw, there are plenty of things that fall under the mistake category: the way the Nikonian reforms were implemented, the abolition of the Bulgarian, Serbian, etc. patriarchates, the suppression of the Antiochian and Alexandrian rites.... That doesn't say anything about the Holy Spirit, just the hardness of men's hearts.  Take for instance, the outcome of the Synod of the Oak.


Quote
If you believe that either of those options are viable, well then, I don't really know what to tell you.
So everything is of equal value?  The Trinity, the Incarnation, the number of loaves in the Proskomedia....


More and more I am coming to believe that it is futile to fight against human foibles. Many if not most of our schisms, mistakes, condemnations and alienation from each other have been caused by natural tendencies of men and women to view our faith through their own subjective filters. Take the Nikonian reforms and the resultant schism: both sides made mountains of a mole hill, unfortunately with tragic results. Similar insensible schisms were caused by the calendar issue, tying knots, etc... I even think that the differences between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox were largely caused by misunderstandings and aggravated by court politics. But, even if there is no schism, you find old resentments and wounds causing alienation from each other. I do not know what is the best way to overcome this tendency. Orthodox folks do not seem to be fundamentally less schismatic/alienated (and alienating) than their Protestant brethren.

I wonder if one possible solution would be to emphasize tolerance of differences between us. By this I mean more emphasis on the basics and less on those customs and habits that are naturally different from one culture and/or church and another. Less emphasis on legalities and more on the essence of faith. Take our fixation on the uncanonical situation in North America; while true, should this issue (or the related controversy over canon 28) hold any one of the jurisdictions from forging ahead with the true business of the Christ's Holy Church? Is unity desirable? Yes. But is it critical? I don't think so.
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« Reply #32 on: October 30, 2009, 02:26:25 PM »

So, somewhere between the 3rd and 7th centuries, the Holy Spirit guided the Church, through the person of a layman (Emperor Justinian II) and the Fathers assembled at Trullo, to change long-standing policy and practice, even though it was explicitly against the commandments and prescriptions of the Lord...

This didn't just come out of thin air. For one thing, it was considered standard pretty early in the West for all clergy to be celibate (in some places, even subdeacons). Pope Siricius confirmed that such had been the practice in Italy for many years before his first decretal in 385. There's also many references in the East to the preference for celibate bishops from this same period.

Starting with the legal reforms of Justinian, episcopal celibacy was the law of the land, so the Trullan canon wasn't introducing anything new.
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« Reply #33 on: October 30, 2009, 02:36:48 PM »

So, somewhere between the 3rd and 7th centuries, the Holy Spirit guided the Church, through the person of a layman (Emperor Justinian II) and the Fathers assembled at Trullo, to change long-standing policy and practice, even though it was explicitly against the commandments and prescriptions of the Lord...

This didn't just come out of thin air. For one thing, it was considered standard pretty early in the West for all clergy to be celibate (in some places, even subdeacons). Pope Siricius confirmed that such had been the practice in Italy for many years before his first decretal in 385. There's also many references in the East to the preference for celibate bishops from this same period.

Starting with the legal reforms of Justinian, episcopal celibacy was the law of the land, so the Trullan canon wasn't introducing anything new.

Yes, the West tried to impose celibacy on the rest of the Church (though it did not become standard in reality until after the Western Schism), and was rebuffed, at Nicea I.
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« Reply #34 on: October 30, 2009, 03:00:55 PM »

So, somewhere between the 3rd and 7th centuries, the Holy Spirit guided the Church, through the person of a layman (Emperor Justinian II) and the Fathers assembled at Trullo, to change long-standing policy and practice, even though it was explicitly against the commandments and prescriptions of the Lord...

This didn't just come out of thin air. For one thing, it was considered standard pretty early in the West for all clergy to be celibate (in some places, even subdeacons). Pope Siricius confirmed that such had been the practice in Italy for many years before his first decretal in 385. There's also many references in the East to the preference for celibate bishops from this same period.

Starting with the legal reforms of Justinian, episcopal celibacy was the law of the land, so the Trullan canon wasn't introducing anything new.

By the legal reforms of Justinian, do you mean Justinian I or II? I know that it was the first Justinian, the Great, who reunified the empire and rewrote Roman law and legislated the affairs of the Church. Yet, the starting paragraph of Trullan Canon 12 says: "Moreover this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offence to the people." I suppose that Justinian the Great's law of the land had not taken firm root in all the provinces.

Another way of looking at priestly (including bishops) celibacy is to consider the reason for this unusual stance. I say unusual because Saint Paul, the great proponent of celibacy amongst the apostles, actually recommends married bishops (and presbyters). In any case, there are plenty of indications that the growing practice of celibacy amongst the bishops and priests owed a lot to the belief that sexual relations were bad, dirty, evil (even among married folks) and detracted from the holy office of the priesthood.  Indeed, this may be just another instance of the Church accommodating popular beliefs and prejudices by changing even its most definitive theological and ecclesiastic stances. Of course, some of these "popular" beliefs and prejudices were not of the people but of the ruler. As an aside, what happens to the role of the biggest and baddest lay person when he/she is an Ottoman Muslim Sultan or a Godless Bolshevik Dictator? Are we respect their leadership of the Church?

Once again, I repeat that Canon 12 did not do away with married bishops. I know you did not say that; you said "episcopal celibacy." I just want to reinforce the plain meaning of the Canon and the fact that episcopal celibacy does not mean bishops who are not married. That was obviously a later development--one that was not solemnized with the adoption of a canon.
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« Reply #35 on: October 31, 2009, 09:14:14 AM »

I am not sure if this article belongs in this thread or not, but it derives from the recent Ligonier meeting.  In any event, it is disturbing. I wonder if the poll is further broken down by American jurisdiction?  That might lead to an interesting observation or two....

Orthodox Christians in U.S. face obstacles before unifying
Friday, October 30, 2009
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette
Sister Sarah Elizabeth Oftedel, the co-founder and Housemother of Martha and Mary House, an Orthodox Christian Maternity Home for pregnant women choosing life and adoption in Escondido, Calif., participates in the panel discussion on the "New Face of American Orthodox Christianity in the 21st Century," at the Orthodox Christianity in North America conference at the Antiochian Village Retreat Center in Lionier.

As Orthodox Christians in the United States seek a new unity out of ethnic fragmentation, they must grapple with the fact that many who say they cherish the faith nevertheless ignore its teachings and practices.

"They see the Orthodox Church in an unorthodox way," said Alexei Krindatch, research director of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute at the University of California-Berkeley, who conducted an in-depth study of Orthodox Christians in the United States.

He spoke in Ligonier at a national conference of Orthodox Christian Laity, church activists from across all ethnic jurisdictions. They welcomed this year's call from the patriarchs of all of the Eastern European and Middle Eastern Orthodox churches to begin forming united Orthodox churches in places such as North America and Australia. The patriarchs instructed all Orthodox bishops in North America to begin meeting together to deal with the issues of their own regions. Groups such as Orthodox Christian Laity want to help the bishops along that path.

Orthodox Christians have a high sense of identification with their faith, Mr. Krindatch said. Eighty-seven percent said they couldn't imagine being anything but Orthodox, compared to 70 percent of Catholics who felt the same way about their church. But although more than 70 percent of Orthodox identify themselves as conservative or traditional -- wanting no or slow change -- many also consider key teachings of the faith optional.

Mr. Krindatch found that 60 percent believed they could be good Orthodox Christians without going to church every Sunday -- and they attended less frequently than Catholics or evangelical Protestants.

More than a quarter believed it was unnecessary to give time and money to either the church or to help the poor. Another study found that 62 percent of Orthodox Christians believed abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Metropolitan Jonah, national leader of the Russian-rooted Orthodox Church in America, reacted strongly to the abortion findings, telling the assembly, "If 60 percent of our people support abortion, then we have failed miserably in our teaching."

But he praised a panel of speakers who he said were laying the practical groundwork for unity by bringing people from all jurisdictions together to aid women in crisis pregnancies, assist the poor and start schools.

Sister Sarah Elizabeth Oftedel, co-founder of Martha and Mary House in Escondido, Calif., a small home for women who choose adoption over abortion, said her board has members from the Serbian, Antiochian, and Greek jurisdictions and is incorporated in the Orthodox Church in America.

"As a convert, I'm blind to the differences. But I do think it would be wonderful if we were all together because it would be a much more powerful witness," she said.

The Rev. Justin Mathews, director of FOCUS North America, a pan-Orthodox ministry to aid poor Americans with food, shelter and employment, said global Orthodoxy has a long tradition of social service, but it has been neglected in America.

Ministry to the poor "is the responsibility of our church and perhaps the beginning of the tangible fabric of unity," he said. Paying homage to food festivals, he said Orthodox churches in America are ideally suited for soup kitchens because "our churches are full of these commercial kitchens that are used primarily to serve ourselves."

Achieving administrative unity would benefit social service ministries because they wouldn't have to approach a half-dozen ethnic bishops for permission each time they wanted to start a project in a given city, he said.

Right now "it's just difficult to access the faithful. I can't get the names of everybody. They don't all subscribe to the same magazines. So just in the area of being able to reach people with a vital message, there would be an economy of communication that would be greatly e
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« Reply #36 on: October 31, 2009, 09:32:54 AM »

If the poll being discussed is the same one I'm thinking of, then I believe it was OCA and GOA parishes that were polled, and the data was put into the book Orthodox Church Today by Alexei Krindatch. I'm not positive that it's the same poll, but if you're interested there's a link for you. Smiley
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« Reply #37 on: October 31, 2009, 12:14:09 PM »

So, somewhere between the 3rd and 7th centuries, the Holy Spirit guided the Church, through the person of a layman (Emperor Justinian II) and the Fathers assembled at Trullo, to change long-standing policy and practice, even though it was explicitly against the commandments and prescriptions of the Lord...

This didn't just come out of thin air. For one thing, it was considered standard pretty early in the West for all clergy to be celibate (in some places, even subdeacons). Pope Siricius confirmed that such had been the practice in Italy for many years before his first decretal in 385. There's also many references in the East to the preference for celibate bishops from this same period.

Starting with the legal reforms of Justinian, episcopal celibacy was the law of the land, so the Trullan canon wasn't introducing anything new.

By the legal reforms of Justinian, do you mean Justinian I or II? I know that it was the first Justinian, the Great, who reunified the empire and rewrote Roman law and legislated the affairs of the Church. Yet, the starting paragraph of Trullan Canon 12 says: "Moreover this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offence to the people." I suppose that Justinian the Great's law of the land had not taken firm root in all the provinces.

Another way of looking at priestly (including bishops) celibacy is to consider the reason for this unusual stance. I say unusual because Saint Paul, the great proponent of celibacy amongst the apostles, actually recommends married bishops (and presbyters). In any case, there are plenty of indications that the growing practice of celibacy amongst the bishops and priests owed a lot to the belief that sexual relations were bad, dirty, evil (even among married folks) and detracted from the holy office of the priesthood.  Indeed, this may be just another instance of the Church accommodating popular beliefs and prejudices by changing even its most definitive theological and ecclesiastic stances. Of course, some of these "popular" beliefs and prejudices were not of the people but of the ruler. As an aside, what happens to the role of the biggest and baddest lay person when he/she is an Ottoman Muslim Sultan or a Godless Bolshevik Dictator? Are we respect their leadership of the Church?

Once again, I repeat that Canon 12 did not do away with married bishops. I know you did not say that; you said "episcopal celibacy." I just want to reinforce the plain meaning of the Canon and the fact that episcopal celibacy does not mean bishops who are not married. That was obviously a later development--one that was not solemnized with the adoption of a canon.

Btw, the legislation on married bishops had a lot to due with inheritance: all property in the diocese is in the bishops name, and this was a problem in probate court.
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« Reply #38 on: November 01, 2009, 12:06:21 PM »

Take our fixation on the uncanonical situation in North America; while true, should this issue (or the related controversy over canon 28) hold any one of the jurisdictions from forging ahead with the true business of the Christ's Holy Church? Is unity desirable? Yes. But is it critical? I don't think so.

This is probably the essence of the problem.  For many Churches, such as the ROCOR, I really do not see them fixed on some issue of unity.  They conduct the liturgy.  They administer the Mysteries.  They preach the Gospel.  Is this not the true business of Christ's Church?  This push to some form of unnatural "unity" seem more driven by those interested in power, money and numbers rather than those interested in doing the work of Christ. I believe you are right here.  NOTHING keeps a Church from forging ahead with the true business of Christ.
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« Reply #39 on: November 01, 2009, 10:35:02 PM »

I am not sure if this article belongs in this thread or not, but it derives from the recent Ligonier meeting.  In any event, it is disturbing. I wonder if the poll is further broken down by American jurisdiction?  That might lead to an interesting observation or two....

Orthodox Christians in U.S. face obstacles before unifying
Friday, October 30, 2009
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette
Sister Sarah Elizabeth Oftedel, the co-founder and Housemother of Martha and Mary House, an Orthodox Christian Maternity Home for pregnant women choosing life and adoption in Escondido, Calif., participates in the panel discussion on the "New Face of American Orthodox Christianity in the 21st Century," at the Orthodox Christianity in North America conference at the Antiochian Village Retreat Center in Lionier.

As Orthodox Christians in the United States seek a new unity out of ethnic fragmentation, they must grapple with the fact that many who say they cherish the faith nevertheless ignore its teachings and practices.

"They see the Orthodox Church in an unorthodox way," said Alexei Krindatch, research director of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute at the University of California-Berkeley, who conducted an in-depth study of Orthodox Christians in the United States.
There are numerous problems with Krindatch’s study and conclusions.  First- He intentionally used a skewed sample of participants and jurisdictions. He stated that it was a nationally representative and comparative study with hand-chosen participants? from only two jurisdictions (the Greeks and OCA).? Second- He begins by stating that there is a growing conservative-liberal gap, but he hasn’t any statistics to prove this statement.?  Third-He doesn’t have any past data in which to compare his new (skewed) data. These are required to support his (predetermined) conclusion, but whatever........  Fourth- He took his (skewed) data and he modestly applied a subjective opinion to it. In one area, he implied that proof that the (undocumented, unproven) liberal-conservative gap is widening was found by the (skewed) data revealing that some parishioners are not strict legalists during Great Lent???

Yes, I understand there were probably many limitations that restrained Krindatch’s study and I thank him for his service to our Church.  (I also thank God that he wasn’t my thesis advisor.)
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« Reply #40 on: November 02, 2009, 01:05:35 AM »

For many Churches, such as the ROCOR, I really do not see them fixed on some issue of unity.  They conduct the liturgy.  They administer the Mysteries.  They preach the Gospel.  Is this not the true business of Christ's Church?  This push to some form of unnatural "unity" seem more driven by those interested in power, money and numbers rather than those interested in doing the work of Christ. I believe you are right here.  NOTHING keeps a Church from forging ahead with the true business of Christ.

I completely agree with this.  People have a tendency to focus on just about everything except for fasting, daily prayer, the Mysteries, and faithfully conducting the liturgy in a deep and heartfelt way.  Anytime this unity business comes up, I express my hope for a unified American church, but that it doesn't concern me much.  As long as we have the liturgy and the Eucharist, we have everything.
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« Reply #41 on: November 02, 2009, 10:38:40 AM »

For many Churches, such as the ROCOR, I really do not see them fixed on some issue of unity.  They conduct the liturgy.  They administer the Mysteries.  They preach the Gospel.  Is this not the true business of Christ's Church?  This push to some form of unnatural "unity" seem more driven by those interested in power, money and numbers rather than those interested in doing the work of Christ. I believe you are right here.  NOTHING keeps a Church from forging ahead with the true business of Christ.

I completely agree with this.  People have a tendency to focus on just about everything except for fasting, daily prayer, the Mysteries, and faithfully conducting the liturgy in a deep and heartfelt way.  Anytime this unity business comes up, I express my hope for a unified American church, but that it doesn't concern me much.  As long as we have the liturgy and the Eucharist, we have everything.
I agree with your posts except for the concept about money/power.  In some areas, we are deeply concerned about money, but it is to keep our churches open.  We can’t receive the Holy Eucharist, invite non-Orthodox to experience a Divine Liturgy, give our elderly parishioners an Orthodox funeral, and etc...  if we are “closed for business”.
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« Reply #42 on: November 02, 2009, 12:15:12 PM »

Once again, I repeat that Canon 12 did not do away with married bishops...That was obviously a later development--one that was not solemnized with the adoption of a canon.

As Fr. Hopko says in his rainbow series, "Since the sixth century it has been the rule in the Orthodox Church that the bishops be single men or widowers." As you appear to be unaware of the history, I'll outline some of it below.

By the legal reforms of Justinian, do you mean Justinian I or II?

Around 550, Justinian I promulgated several laws on marriage and the episcopacy, which have been included in the ecclesiastical canonical corpus (e.g. in Patriarchs Photios and Balsamon and, finally, in the Syntagma of Ralles-Potles). Basically, according to these laws, any married man that wants to be a bishop has to send his wife to a far-away convent and never talk to her again. (Such an action falls under provisions for "divorce by common consent" in Roman law. So, I don't think one can consider these bishops "married," either in a legal sense or from a more common-sense point of view.)

These laws come on the heels of a long-standing trend, starting in the mid-fourth century, that assumed that the Bishop, as head of the local church, should obviously be second to none in virtue and zeal for the Kingdom. How could he dare to be pastor of monks, for example, if he himself wasn't even willing to forsake all and live the angelic life? (On this sort of thing, see especially St. Athanasius the Great or St. Ambrose of Milan).

Of course, exceptions happened (to the growing scandal of the faithful), but this was the accepted standard even in the far-off provinces that Justinian took from the Vandals. However, over the next several generations, most of that land was lost to the Arabs and Lombards. Thus, the Trullan Fathers, upon hearing of the improper practice of the bishops that remained in foreign-dominated lands, issued Canons 12 & 48, which make it clear that (a) new candidates for the episcopacy must separate from their wives, or they are not to be ordained; and (b) if there happens to exist some bishop who -- contrary to canonical practice and to the scandal of the faithful -- is still living with his wife, let him conform with the standard or, if he refuses, be deposed).

Yet, the starting paragraph of Trullan Canon 12 says: "Moreover this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offence to the people."

Indeed. The Trullan Fathers are disturbed to find out that some bishops do not refuse to live with their wives, i.e. they SHOULD refuse to live with them by sending them away to a far-off monastery and never talking to them again (a la Justinian's laws and the Trullan Canon 48). Unless these far-off bishops comply with standard practice, they are to be deposed.

Today, it is still canonically possible for a married man and his wife to mutually agree to separate "for the desire of living in chastity". I know of at least two cases. Many more are recorded in hagiography.
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« Reply #43 on: November 02, 2009, 12:23:30 PM »

Once again, I repeat that Canon 12 did not do away with married bishops...That was obviously a later development--one that was not solemnized with the adoption of a canon.

As Fr. Hopko says in his rainbow series, "Since the sixth century it has been the rule in the Orthodox Church that the bishops be single men or widowers." As you appear to be unaware of the history, I'll outline some of it below.

By the legal reforms of Justinian, do you mean Justinian I or II?

Around 550, Justinian I promulgated several laws on marriage and the episcopacy, which have been included in the ecclesiastical canonical corpus (e.g. in Patriarchs Photios and Balsamon and, finally, in the Syntagma of Ralles-Potles). Basically, according to these laws, any married man that wants to be a bishop has to send his wife to a far-away convent and never talk to her again. (Such an action falls under provisions for "divorce by common consent" in Roman law. So, I don't think one can consider these bishops "married," either in a legal sense or from a more common-sense point of view.)

These laws come on the heels of a long-standing trend, starting in the mid-fourth century, that assumed that the Bishop, as head of the local church, should obviously be second to none in virtue and zeal for the Kingdom. How could he dare to be pastor of monks, for example, if he himself wasn't even willing to forsake all and live the angelic life? (On this sort of thing, see especially St. Athanasius the Great or St. Ambrose of Milan).

Of course, exceptions happened (to the growing scandal of the faithful), but this was the accepted standard even in the far-off provinces that Justinian took from the Vandals. However, over the next several generations, most of that land was lost to the Arabs and Lombards. Thus, the Trullan Fathers, upon hearing of the improper practice of the bishops that remained in foreign-dominated lands, issued Canons 12 & 48, which make it clear that (a) new candidates for the episcopacy must separate from their wives, or they are not to be ordained; and (b) if there happens to exist some bishop who -- contrary to canonical practice and to the scandal of the faithful -- is still living with his wife, let him conform with the standard or, if he refuses, be deposed).

Yet, the starting paragraph of Trullan Canon 12 says: "Moreover this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offence to the people."

Indeed. The Trullan Fathers are disturbed to find out that some bishops do not refuse to live with their wives, i.e. they SHOULD refuse to live with them by sending them away to a far-off monastery and never talking to them again (a la Justinian's laws and the Trullan Canon 48). Unless these far-off bishops comply with standard practice, they are to be deposed.

Today, it is still canonically possible for a married man and his wife to mutually agree to separate "for the desire of living in chastity". I know of at least two cases. Many more are recorded in hagiography.
I don't recall Christ or the rest of the NT endorsing abandoning one's wife as a sign of greater sanctity.
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« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2009, 12:39:34 PM »

I don't recall Christ or the rest of the NT endorsing abandoning one's wife as a sign of greater sanctity.

Who said "abandoning?"  If they, by consent, decide to separate and go to monasteries and pray for one anothers' salvation, who are you to call it "abandonment."  Even in the case of "separate or else," there is still the option to not be elected/enthroned as a bishop and remain with one's wife - so it is still a matter of consent. 

To top it off, I'd hardly call the entering of a monastery, complete with its free room & board & food, to be "abandonment," especially if it is voluntarily undertaken.
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