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Author Topic: Ethnicity in The OO Churches in the US  (Read 3184 times) Average Rating: 0
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peteprint
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« on: January 28, 2012, 04:21:00 PM »

A subject often discussed by EO's is the one of ethnic jurisdictions in the United States.  Some are concerned with possible phyletism, and others by the uncanonical aspect of overlapping dioceses and bishops.  What is the situation with the OO jurisdictions, which also are drawn along ethnic lines and where in a single city there may exist Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Armenian parishes?  I know that it is a hot-button topic with many EO's but I don't recall ever hearing it mentioned by OO's.

What is the position of the OO Patriarchs on the jurisdictional overlap that exists here?  Many EO's mention the Russian Revolution as having contributed to the situation among EO's in the US, but that wouldn't seem to have any relevance to the OO situation.  I assume that if (hypothetically) a number of Egyptians were to settle in an American town where the only OO parish was Armenian they would most likely attend, but I would also assume that they would quickly establish a Coptic parish as soon as they were financially in a position to do so.

Also, has any OO Patriarchate ever claimed (as the EP has) the right to jurisdiction over all OO's in the "diaspora"?
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HabteSelassie
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2012, 04:42:56 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

That is a ridiculously good question, one which I think is just barely beginning to be asked in the OO in the United States.  Perhaps the Copts are the longest established, but relatively speaking Oriental Orthodoxy is new to the US, traditional immigration has been from Catholic and Eastern Orthodox countries.  That being said, it seems a lot of Oriental parishes have to focus on getting their own flock together, dealing with the needs of their own community, in other words, getting our own houses in order first before we reach out to far to proselytize.  Oriental Orthodox in the US is a bit of a crossover between a refugee relief center and an immigration integration center.  Considering the regions and recent histories of the places where most Oriental Orthodox come from, it is understandable. 

Another issue is integrating hyphenated American youth, who were born here as native citizens but whose parents are foreign, into the Church culture which is becoming increasingly foreign to them as American youth.  In my own work with our high-school aged Sunday School program, I always try to integrate and encourage the youth to embrace the duality of their identity, it is a gift, most Americans are boring and have a single boring culture, and a ghostly memory of a long lost past..

Catholic parishes here in the LA area have a similar mission the burgeoning Latino populations immigrating from a dozen countries.  Perhaps we in the Oriental world here in the US could take some notes from the more vetted Catholics?

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2012, 05:06:18 PM »

Thank you Habte.  I agree that the situation for OO's is more comparable to the EO's in the late 19th and early 20th century; most are recent immigrants.  It does surprise me though that none of the OO Patriarchs is claiming jurisdictional rights to North America, since I am well aware of the situation in the past between the MP and the EP.

I am a convert of Scottish, Welsh, and English ancestry, and, I might add, don't really give Britain a second thought.  None of those cultural influences were passed down in my family, so I don't identify with any country in Europe.  I'm not sure that American culture is all that boring: it seems that the rest of the world has gone out of its way to copy much of it.  Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2012, 05:32:17 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

 It does surprise me though that none of the OO Patriarchs is claiming jurisdictional rights to North America,

That is not exactly true, we have Metropolitan Bishops over North America, regional bishops over sections of the US, bishops of European cities, but these focus on their own flocks from their own jurisdictions, where as your question seems to be more about inter-jurisdictional relationships and also the issues of which jurisdiction might lean towards primacy of proselytizing Americans or Europeans.  Proselytizing is a of a lower priority then reaching out to the sheep already of the flock but who didn't know where the local shepherd's fold was.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
« Last Edit: January 28, 2012, 05:33:33 PM by HabteSelassie » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2012, 05:40:26 PM »

The issue and notion of "phyletism" doesn't apply to OO's.  It's a 19th century EO innovation.  Your postulation about "jurisdictional rights" over North America is also a rather EO phenomenon.  The OO are a collection of national churches who have, since their infancy, catered to dispersed communities throughout the globe.  We don't give it a second thought that there's another OO church in town.  We tend to build for our own when the need arises.

The Armenian Church is for Armenians.  We have a specific ministry and tradition, we cater to a diverse group within the "big tent" of Armenian identity, but that's part of the challenge.  You have non-Armenians who marry into the church.  Russian-speaking Armenians from former Soviet countries.  Turkish-born Armenians.  Armenians from the Arab world.  Armenians from the Republic of Armenia.  Armenians from Europe.  American-born Armenians.  The list goes on and on and on.  Just finding a common language is a problem.  We have a hard enough time striking a balance there without having to worry about the EO fixation on "pan-ethnic" parishes and "phyletism" and all of that.

Yes, we have issues of youth retention, just like any other religious institution these days.  Yet we also have summer camps full of kids, seminary summer programs bursting at the seams, Armenian schools throughout the country, dance troupes, Armenian scouting and other youth groups along those lines, political youth groups, the Armenian Church Youth Organization, kids who will drive across the country to go to an Armenian dance on the weekends...  So I think we're doing OK.
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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2012, 06:14:15 PM »

While framing the discussion in terms of 'phyletism' is a recent development, the ideal of geographical/ecclesiastical integrity that underlies peteprint's question and EO conceptions of how things 'should work' (though obviously not how they always do work) is quite ancient--it's clearly expressed in the canons of the first 3 Ecumenical councils--specifically, if there is an Orthodox bishop in Alexandria, then the bishop of Carthage or of Constantinople has no business sending priests or bishops to do anything in Alexandria without that bishop's permission. And if all the Orthodox bishops in Egypt form a coherent, independent synod around the Patriarch of Alexandria, then other Patriarchates likewise have no business sending bishops or priests to do anything anywhere in Egypt without the permission of that synod.

OO history is different from EO, and I can see how the question hasn't really come up for you, or not come up in the same way, over the last millennia or so--and the situation in North America is so new there's no reason it would have caused OO's to reassess their current approach (A hundred years from now, when there's an Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syrian Church all in the same city with 95% of each congregation speaking only English and a good majority being in mixed marriages, children of mixed marriages, converts etc, then the interrelationship might start driving more questions).

BUT, while I realize the Armenian Church was always something of a separate national Church, up until Chalcedon, the Copts (Alexandria) and Syrians (Antioch) were a part of the 'ecumene' and shared that same ideal. So I'm curious to what extent the OO's may have or have not actually abandoned that ideal? Specifically, let's say the international situation configures itself in such a way that there is a massive Armenian immigration to Egypt (or vice-versa, massive Ethiopian immigration to Yerevan). Would the OO's consider that those immigrants would be under the authority of the existing hierarchy? Would it be considered appropriate or inappropriate for the synod of the Ethiopian church to appoint an 'Ethiopian bishop of Yerevan' who would be a member of the Ethiopian, not the Armenian synod, and who would set up churches and parishes throughout Armenia without any consultation (or only polite notification) with the local Armenian bishop?
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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2012, 06:40:01 PM »

Thank you all for your input.  That is an excellent question witega. 
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« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2012, 07:03:17 PM »

BUT, while I realize the Armenian Church was always something of a separate national Church, up until Chalcedon, the Copts (Alexandria) and Syrians (Antioch) were a part of the 'ecumene' and shared that same ideal. So I'm curious to what extent the OO's may have or have not actually abandoned that ideal? Specifically, let's say the international situation configures itself in such a way that there is a massive Armenian immigration to Egypt (or vice-versa, massive Ethiopian immigration to Yerevan). Would the OO's consider that those immigrants would be under the authority of the existing hierarchy? Would it be considered appropriate or inappropriate for the synod of the Ethiopian church to appoint an 'Ethiopian bishop of Yerevan' who would be a member of the Ethiopian, not the Armenian synod, and who would set up churches and parishes throughout Armenia without any consultation (or only polite notification) with the local Armenian bishop?

There are Armenian communities in Egypt, Syria, India, and Ethiopia, with Armenian bishops and churches established in those places.  It's never been a problem.

I don't know if there are Coptic, Ethiopian or other OO communities inside Armenia, or if they have established churches there.  I rather doubt it, since Armenia does not get a lot of immigrants coming to it.  If, however, there were Copts, etc, in Armenia, I don't think the Catholicos would have a problem with them having their own bishop. 

The OO's are just not that territorial.  I guess we've been more concerned with survival over the past century, and the territorial concerns are just not important enough.
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« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2012, 08:48:37 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

At this point in the game in regards to North America, the Ethiopian Church fully recognizes the mutuality of the Alexandrian Church, and Ethiopians are allowed to commune regularly in Coptic parishes if there are no Ethiopian parishes, or even if they just seem to prefer them.  I do not know if the Egyptians are the same about Ethiopian Church, but we feel they are our sister, and we do not feel the need to step on their toes, neither are they stepping on our own.  In Ethiopia the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate from Alexandria is allowed to establish parishes for those Eastern Orthodox Christians residing in Ethiopia, and a few Ethiopians have converted and the Ethiopian Church seems to be cool with it.  This is actually quite revolutionary considering the the anti-Chalcedonian history in Ethiopia and the conflicts that have arisen and been revived in the past few hundred years.  The Ethiopian Church feels comfortable enough within her own jurisdiction to be hospitable to other jurisdictions to a degree.  Even the Catholics are allowed their space..

Of course there has been a lot of conflict with the Lutherans and Pentecostals within Ethiopia, as they regularly recruit and try to proselytize within the Orthodox communities and even at our parishes.  We do not necessarily bother them, but the surely have become a bother to us. 

In North America, we Ethiopian Orthodox recognize that we are blatantly out of our historical jurisdiction, and so we treat Ethiopian Churches in the US and Canada (which  are under local and metropolitan Bishops) as the Greek Churches are treated in Ethiopia proper, as a foreign jurisdiction there to care for her own.  We are not trying to invade America with our Oriental Orthodoxy, we are just trying to tend to our Ethiopian flock, and any folks who marry or convert in, are free to join us, but we are not actively trying to step others toes.

stay blessed,
habte selassie

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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2012, 09:05:07 PM »

I assume that if (hypothetically) a number of Egyptians were to settle in an American town where the only OO parish was Armenian they would most likely attend, but I would also assume that they would quickly establish a Coptic parish as soon as they were financially in a position to do so.

Hmmm. Oriental Orthodoxy lacks the amount of liturgical and practical homogeneity the EO have (for better or for worse), so it isn't that simple. Quite a few of the Eritrean, Indian and Ethiopian OO go to my Byzantine parish rather than the Ethiopian parish in town.
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2012, 09:18:16 PM »

Another issue is intermarriage.  There's not a lot of intermarrying going on between OO Churches.  The biggest extent of intermarrying is probably between Syrians and Copts, but other than that, we as OOs haven't really mingled with each other in a true sense of the word.  Because we're that separate, while united in unity, the question of phyletism hasn't really been brought up, or hasn't been given much thought of as a problem.  I think as time goes on, and our youth might do more mingling, and become more Americanized generation after generation, the question then might be brought up.  We don't even have a united evangelical focus as we like to have.  All of these things are just starting now at this point.  There's an Orthodox Christian Mission Conference (nothing to do with OCMC of the EOs) being put together by our youth here in NJ/NY area to unite all OOs in a mission to try to evangelize in areas here in the US to spread the OO faith.  This is all happening all too recently.  Once, we are organized as a OO unity with common interests, goals, and mingling, the question of jurisdiction might be brought up, probably in the next couple of decades, as the bishops might see a need to have a more organized and unified leadership for these particular areas of interest.

It is though quite a unique situation in the US.  And I'd venture to say this isn't the first time in Church history this issue of "phyletism" was dealt with.  The New Testament Church had to deal with the divide between Jewish and Gentile Christians, which can be a form of phyletism at its time.  As our churches start to explore and understand one another, there might some cultural aspects of one church that may scandalize members of another church (as I've seen happen personally) that could lead then to the questions of phyletism that so plagued the EO church at her time.  But until then, we like each other, we commune with each other, we embrace each other, but we haven't mingled together, and so this question never really shows up.
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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2012, 09:21:11 PM »

This is all very interesting.  It seems that the OO are much more casual about organizational matters than the EO (this is not meant as a critical remark).

If a group of validly consecrated EO Bishops were (again, hypothetically) to form a jurisdiction (which many of the Genuine/OC groups have in the past) and declared it the American Orthodox Church, basing its existence on the issue of overlapping dioceses, the other EO jurisdictions would have nothing to do with them and declare them uncanonical.

On the other hand, if a group of validly consecrated OO Bishops were to form an American OO jurisdiction it almost seems that the other OO bodies would say "fine, do what you want" and continue going about their business.  Perhaps I am reading more into this than there is.  It just seems that we EO are very concerned about jurisdictional authority and organization (whose turf belongs to whom) than the OO's, who seem to have a more live and let live approach.

Salpy's statement: "There are Armenian communities in Egypt, Syria, India, and Ethiopia, with Armenian bishops and churches established in those places.  It's never been a problem," amazed me, since it would be a huge problem if that occurred in an EO setting.  
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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2012, 09:29:58 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

This is all very interesting.  It seems that the OO are much more casual about organizational matters than the EO (this is not meant as a critical remark).

If a group of validly consecrated EO Bishops were (again, hypothetically) to form a jurisdiction (which many of the Genuine/OC groups have in the past) and declared it the American Orthodox Church, basing its existence on the issue of overlapping dioceses, the other EO jurisdictions would have nothing to do with them and declare them uncanonical.

On the other hand, if a group of validly consecrated OO Bishops were to form an American OO jurisdiction it almost seems that the other OO bodies would say "fine, do what you want" and continue going about their business.  Perhaps I am reading more into this than there is.  It just seems that we EO are very concerned about jurisdictional authority and organization (whose turf belongs to whom) than the OO's, who seem to have a more live and let live approach.

Salpy's statement: "There are Armenian communities in Egypt, Syria, India, and Ethiopia, with Armenian bishops and churches established in those places.  It's never been a problem," amazed me, since it would be a huge problem if that occurred in an EO setting.  

But does the EO have that same authority outside of Europe? I know the Roman Catholics express the Universal Church as being their one jurisdiction worldwide, does the EO have the same stance? See that is what is different in the Oriental, we are regional jurisdictions.  Alexandrian Church has localized jurisdictional authority over Egypt and surrounding areas, the Syrian Church has jurisdictional authority in Damascus and surrounding areas, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has jurisdictional authority in Ethiopia and surrounding areas..  When we establish our authority outside of our geography, we are addressing the needs of expatriates, refugees, and exiles who originated in our regional jurisdiction, we have no pretensions of Universality, geographically speaking.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2012, 09:30:15 PM »

Btw...it's called "Orthodox Mission Conference"...so there you go...nothing to worry about there  Wink
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« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2012, 09:38:21 PM »

Thank you Mina.  Smiley

Dear Habte,

If there were Romanians living in Russia there is no way they would be allowed to have Romanian parishes with a Romanian Bishop, as Salpy says happens with Armenians in Egypt and Ethiopia.  The whole phyletism thing started in the 1800's when Bulgarians in Greece wanted to have Bulgarian parishes and the Greek Church declared such actions heresy:

"The term phyletism was coined at the Holy and Great pan-Orthodox Synod that met in Istanbul (then Constantinople) in 1872. The meeting was prompted by the creation of a separate bishopric by the Bulgarian community of Istanbul for parishes only open to Bulgarians. It was the first time in Church history that a separate diocese was established based on ethnic identity rather than principles of Orthodoxy and territory"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyletism

In countries that have a national Church (which I assume Ethiopia does), the idea of a foreign Church establishing parishes there would cause an uproar in the EO world. 
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« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2012, 09:41:10 PM »

The issue and notion of "phyletism" doesn't apply to OO's.  It's a 19th century EO innovation.  Your postulation about "jurisdictional rights" over North America is also a rather EO phenomenon.  The OO are a collection of national churches who have, since their infancy, catered to dispersed communities throughout the globe.  We don't give it a second thought that there's another OO church in town.  We tend to build for our own when the need arises.

The Armenian Church is for Armenians.  We have a specific ministry and tradition, we cater to a diverse group within the "big tent" of Armenian identity, but that's part of the challenge.  You have non-Armenians who marry into the church.  Russian-speaking Armenians from former Soviet countries.  Turkish-born Armenians.  Armenians from the Arab world.  Armenians from the Republic of Armenia.  Armenians from Europe.  American-born Armenians.  The list goes on and on and on.  Just finding a common language is a problem.  We have a hard enough time striking a balance there without having to worry about the EO fixation on "pan-ethnic" parishes and "phyletism" and all of that.

Yes, we have issues of youth retention, just like any other religious institution these days.  Yet we also have summer camps full of kids, seminary summer programs bursting at the seams, Armenian schools throughout the country, dance troupes, Armenian scouting and other youth groups along those lines, political youth groups, the Armenian Church Youth Organization, kids who will drive across the country to go to an Armenian dance on the weekends...  So I think we're doing OK.

Well said!
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« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2012, 09:44:18 PM »

P.S.  I think this territorialism is a contributing factor to the lack of administrative unity in America.  None of the various jurisdictions wants to give up what they see as their turf.  It's a case of the EO Church's here not following what the Churches back home practice, namely territorial exclusivity.  It's tolerated here because no one wants to be swallowed up by a larger jurisdiction, and because the Mother Churches don't want to lose the money and influence.  At least that is my humble opinion.
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« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2012, 10:01:23 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

This is all very interesting.  It seems that the OO are much more casual about organizational matters than the EO (this is not meant as a critical remark).

If a group of validly consecrated EO Bishops were (again, hypothetically) to form a jurisdiction (which many of the Genuine/OC groups have in the past) and declared it the American Orthodox Church, basing its existence on the issue of overlapping dioceses, the other EO jurisdictions would have nothing to do with them and declare them uncanonical.

On the other hand, if a group of validly consecrated OO Bishops were to form an American OO jurisdiction it almost seems that the other OO bodies would say "fine, do what you want" and continue going about their business.  Perhaps I am reading more into this than there is.  It just seems that we EO are very concerned about jurisdictional authority and organization (whose turf belongs to whom) than the OO's, who seem to have a more live and let live approach.

Salpy's statement: "There are Armenian communities in Egypt, Syria, India, and Ethiopia, with Armenian bishops and churches established in those places.  It's never been a problem," amazed me, since it would be a huge problem if that occurred in an EO setting.  

But does the EO have that same authority outside of Europe? I know the Roman Catholics express the Universal Church as being their one jurisdiction worldwide, does the EO have the same stance? See that is what is different in the Oriental, we are regional jurisdictions.  Alexandrian Church has localized jurisdictional authority over Egypt and surrounding areas, the Syrian Church has jurisdictional authority in Damascus and surrounding areas, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has jurisdictional authority in Ethiopia and surrounding areas..  When we establish our authority outside of our geography, we are addressing the needs of expatriates, refugees, and exiles who originated in our regional jurisdiction, we have no pretensions of Universality, geographically speaking.

stay blessed,
habte selassie

I may have slightly misunderstood you, and if so forgive me, but the EO are not the same as the RC in regards to jurisdiction.  However, the way that the Church is meant to be (and in countries where Orthodoxy isn't a new thing, is) is - as I understand it - that in any given territory, for example LA County, there would be one bishop.  No other bishop could include LA County in his diocese.  So, it is actually the opposite of the Roman Catholics (where the Pope has jurisdiction everywhere).  The only time other bishops can make decisions for anyone in a given diocese, that is not theirs, is if the synod that that diocese belongs to has given such permission to another bishop (such as a Patriarch), but in such case they would be acting on behalf of the synod and not themselves. 

Anyways, ideally then, if Malta were to invade Crete and force countless residents to pick up and move to Romania, the Ecumenical Patriarch would have no authority to send priests there and have a diocese established.  In fact, Romania establishing parishes in the territory of the Jerusalem Patriarchate has caused (last I heard, I've not seen an update on this for some time) the Patriarch of Jerusalem to prohibit the Patriarchate's priests from con-celebrating with the Romanian Patriarchate's priests. 

The thing is, Habte, the EO see it as refugees or emigres from one Orthodox area to another as needing to be served by the bishop of wherever they went to.  In the case of America, when there was a mass amount of immigration from a number of countries with large Orthodox populations, they brought priests along with them or requested them from the old country because otherwise they would be without priests.  Then came bishops to oversee the priests.  Now, this doesn't preclude things like how the Church of Russia has - with the consent of the Patriarch of Alexandria - sent priests to places in Africa with large Russian communities (or the same in the Holy Land, with the approval of the Patriarch of Jerusalem), but those priests are always (if i'm not mistaken) under the authority of the bishop of that area.
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« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2012, 10:46:18 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

.  

The thing is, Habte, the EO see it as refugees or emigres from one Orthodox area to another as needing to be served by the bishop of wherever they went to.  In the case of America, when there was a mass amount of immigration from a number of countries with large Orthodox populations, they brought priests along with them or requested them from the old country because otherwise they would be without priests.  Then came bishops to oversee the priests.  Now, this doesn't preclude things like how the Church of Russia has - with the consent of the Patriarch of Alexandria - sent priests to places in Africa with large Russian communities (or the same in the Holy Land, with the approval of the Patriarch of Jerusalem), but those priests are always (if i'm not mistaken) under the authority of the bishop of that area.


So how does the EO deal with then mutual Russian and Greek parishes in the Los Angeles area? Under which Bishop's authority are these? In the Oriental, the Ethiopian parishes are under the local Ethiopian Bishop (in my parish's case, the Bishopric of the Southwest located in Las Vegas) and the Copts are under their own Alexandrian Bishops, as are the Syrians etc etc..

Let us also remember the unspoken word here is $$$  Lips Sealed

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2012, 10:52:23 PM »

Dear Habte,

The answer is they don't.  Everyone accepts that having more than one Bishop in an area like Los Angeles is wrong (from the EO perspective), but they don't address it.  When the EO Churches at Constantinople agreed with the Greeks to shut down the Bulgarian parishes it was with the understanding that the Greeks (and others) would not open up parishes on their territory.  What is considered the rule in the Old Country is not practiced here in America.  Hence the problem.
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« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2012, 11:03:28 PM »

If a Greek were to move to Romania, that person would have to attend the Romanian Church, just as if a Russian were to move to Greece, he would de facto be in the Greek Church.  If a Bulgarian were to move to Egypt, he would then be in the Church of Alexandria.  I am currently a member of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, but, if for any reason, I had to move to Russia, I would have to attend the Russian Orthodox Church.  Each Church controls its own territory.  It doesn't work that way though in the so-called diaspora.  Outside of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, each jurisdiction treats it as open territory, even though they have agreed not to do that at home.
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« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2012, 11:17:00 PM »

The problem with EO's in my opinion also is that at a certain point, it was considered a "heresy."  I wouldn't jump the gun to call it a heresy, but I would say an "ecclesiological problem," especially if this is leads to a form of some sort of racism or cultural divide over issues that have nothing to do with dogma, and a "potential problem" if the racism doesn't exist yet.  St. Paul chastised St. Peter over his refusal to sit with Gentiles in the presence of Jews, and that's a problem.  But mere ecclesiological divides in the same territory without the baggage of racism or cultural criticisms should not be considered "heresy" (St. Paul after all was dubbed the Apostle to the Gentiles, so it shouldn't be "heresy"), and OOs are very welcoming to new dioceses overlapping with their own dioceses especially on this regard.

If anything, the need to regulate turf should also be frowned upon.  The Apostles never fought for turf with one another, and they frequently overlapped with their converts.  Rome wasn't exclusively for St. Peter for instance, as St. Paul was there, even waaay before St. Peter establishing the Gentile Christian community there.  But St. Paul also dealt with Jewish Christians too, as is the case with having St. Timothy circumcised just to approach a Jewish community to evangelize to them, despite being commissioned specifically for Gentiles.

But that does not mean we OOs are immune to turf fights as one would like to see.  Case in point, the Indian Orthodox divide can arguably be made on the idea that the Syrian Church might want to keep turf there rather than just easily resolve the conflict and let there be an autocephalous united church.  The idea of hurtful turf wars I personally see is just as equally a problem as creating a racist/xenophobic phyletist group.  It's amazing that the EO Church likes to debate on issues regarding phyletism, and not allow a more independent and new Church develop with new patriarchal system, to allow her to grow.  It's mind-boggling to me, and one needs to also commune a pan-Orthodox condemnation "turfism" just as much as phyletism is condemned.  And I don't say this as a criticism to EOs alone.  I pray that OO problems of turfism can be resolved as well, as in cases of Jerusalem and India.

Yes, it's great to want jurisdictional unity, but not on the expense of humility, which I find many bishops seem to lack.
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« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2012, 11:39:11 PM »

"It's amazing that the EO Church likes to debate on issues regarding phyletism, and not allow a more independent and new Church develop with new patriarchal system, to allow her to grow.  It's mind-boggling to me..."

It boggles my mind as well Mina.  Part of the problem, besides the Mother Churches not wanting to lose their territory, is that many, at the local level, see the parish as a cultural center.  Support for an American Church is seen as undesirable by many who view the parish as "home away from home".

While other immigrant groups have managed to separate the two by establishing groups such as The Sons of Italy, Order of Hibernians  and other cultural organizations to maintain their sense of ethnic pride, all too often, in the Orthodox Church, the parish is the cultural center.  They don't want to give that up.

My priest has mentioned to me how difficult it is to get members of the parish to help feed the homeless, or attend Bible studies, but there is no problem getting them to show up for cultural events like folk dancing.  I mentioned this one another thread, but we normally have 125-150 people at liturgy on Sunday.  Father mentions the Bible study during the announcements and it is mentioned in the bulletin.  3 people show up; me, another convert, and one of the elderly ladies.  And that is every week.  On the other hand, if there is a cultural event, you can count on at least 50.  Sad.

I have a Bulgarian friend who attends our Serbian parish occasionally.  She and her Bulgarian friends are determined to create a Bulgarian parish at some point in the future, even though there are about a dozen Orthodox parishes in the county.  They have to have "their" parish.  It's sad as well.  I think there is a word for that: Balkanization.  
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« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2012, 11:42:39 PM »

"It's amazing that the EO Church likes to debate on issues regarding phyletism, and not allow a more independent and new Church develop with new patriarchal system, to allow her to grow.  It's mind-boggling to me..."

It boggles my mind as well Mina.  Part of the problem, besides the Mother Churches not wanting to lose their territory, is that many, at the local level, see the parish as a cultural center.  Support for an American Church is seen as undesirable by many who view the parish as "home away from home".

While other immigrant groups have managed to separate the two by establishing groups such as The Sons of Italy, Order of Hibernians  and other cultural organizations to maintain their sense of ethnic pride, all too often, in the Orthodox Church, the parish is the cultural center.  They don't want to give that up.

My priest has mentioned to me how difficult it is to get members of the parish to help feed the homeless, or attend Bible studies, but there is no problem getting them to show up for cultural events like folk dancing.  I mentioned this one another thread, but we normally have 125-150 people at liturgy on Sunday.  Father mentions the Bible study during the announcements and it is mentioned in the bulletin.  3 people show up; me, another convert, and one of the elderly ladies.  And that is every week.  On the other hand, if there is a cultural event, you can count on at least 50.  Sad.

I have a Bulgarian friend who attends our Serbian parish occasionally.  She and her Bulgarian friends are determined to create a Bulgarian parish at some point in the future, even though there are about a dozen Orthodox parishes in the county.  They have to have "their" parish.  It's sad as well.  I think there is a word for that: Balkanization.   

As a side note, it is stuff like this that makes me quite irate to hear Orthodox Christians (OO or EO) try to condemn and refute that "I hate religion, but love Christ" poet, when it is the problem of "culture center Orthodoxy" plank that we should remove from our own eyes before removing the plank from that poet's eye.
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« Reply #24 on: January 28, 2012, 11:45:02 PM »

I understand your position. 
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« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2012, 12:06:00 AM »

When we think of how Ethiopia was served by the Coptic Church, it was not by establishing the Coptic Church in Ethiopia, but by establishing the Ethiopian Church. Such a thing as the Coptic Church in Ethiopia would have been a contradiction in terms, since the Coptic Church is the Church in Egypt...

The Armenians had parishes serving their people in other territories, such as Rome, from the very early centuries. But I don't think it was as an independent Church with its own hierarchy. It was parishes to serve that need, with the cooperation of the Armenians sending priests to serve and the local bishop's approval.

Fast forward to today, and things in North America look quite different than (my limited understanding of) the past.

The Church Coptic Church was the first large presence here. But they did not set up an American Orthodox Church, or a Canadian Orthodoxy Church as they previously set up the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. They set up the Coptic Orthodox Church in Canada, which is a contradiction in terms. This has been a result of, and has resulted in, much confusion. I read a book by one Coptic priest that thanked God that in the past decades the Coptic Church has gone from being a national Church to a Catholic Church!

This is of course because of the unique situation of large immigration meaning that the Churches here are full of Egyptians, and few Americans/Canadians. Much different than a few Copts being sent to serve the Ethiopians. However, this is problematic, because it is inward looking, and does not meet the idea of engaging the surrounding community and preaching the Gospel. It is even more problematic since the children of Egyptians here eventually become Canadians, and not Egyptians! They marry Canadians, and since there is no Canadian Orthodox Church, many of them end up leaving the Coptic Orthodox Church, which is too foreign for their spouses.

Now, there are many other Oriental Orthodox Churches here as well. Instead of integrating into the existing hierarchy of the Canadian Orthodox Church, which was never established, they set up their own shops, independently of the existing Coptic Orthodox presence. Different Oriental Churches in the same towns that don't even realize they're in communion with each other for the most part. Yes, an Ethiopian bishop is received in a Coptic Church as their own bishop. But the Churches are governed as independent, separate Churches. Instead of one local synod, made up of bishops from all the different ethnic groups, working together to serve the needs of Canadian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian, etc., parishes, we have separate groups, duplicating resources, and acting as if we were separate Churches or denominations, each ruled by the synod of their home country. I don't think there is any precedent for this in Church history.

I think there are agreements or understandings that the Coptic Church should consult her sister Churches when establishing diocese in North America. But so far they have just been established without cooperation or resistance.
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« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2012, 12:19:06 AM »

Jonathan,

You just described the situation of the EO in North America to a tee.  The excuse we EO's have always used for the confusion here is that the Russians were here first, and had the right to oversee the development of the Church in North America, but the revolution messed things up.  As I had mentioned before, that is not the case with the OO Churches.

Imagine if, instead of the Copts establishing the Ethiopian Church, there were over a dozen OO jurisdictions in Ethiopia? (I know that there are not a dozen independent OO Churches) What a mess that would be.  I realize that Ethiopia did not have large-scale migration from Armenia, Syria, Egypt, etc., but to the average Ethiopian citizen, how would it look?  In Addis Ababa several Armenian, Syriac, Malankara, Coptic, and Eritrean parishes, and no national Church?  Each Ethiopian would just pick the one they felt comfortable attending.

It would look like North America.  

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« Reply #27 on: January 29, 2012, 12:25:21 AM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

.  

The thing is, Habte, the EO see it as refugees or emigres from one Orthodox area to another as needing to be served by the bishop of wherever they went to.  In the case of America, when there was a mass amount of immigration from a number of countries with large Orthodox populations, they brought priests along with them or requested them from the old country because otherwise they would be without priests.  Then came bishops to oversee the priests.  Now, this doesn't preclude things like how the Church of Russia has - with the consent of the Patriarch of Alexandria - sent priests to places in Africa with large Russian communities (or the same in the Holy Land, with the approval of the Patriarch of Jerusalem), but those priests are always (if i'm not mistaken) under the authority of the bishop of that area.


So how does the EO deal with then mutual Russian and Greek parishes in the Los Angeles area? Under which Bishop's authority are these? In the Oriental, the Ethiopian parishes are under the local Ethiopian Bishop (in my parish's case, the Bishopric of the Southwest located in Las Vegas) and the Copts are under their own Alexandrian Bishops, as are the Syrians etc etc..

Let us also remember the unspoken word here is $$$  Lips Sealed

stay blessed,
habte selassie

Well, I suppose I really shouldn't have picked LA County as an example, because I wasn't referring to present practice, but rather in an ideal world (I just picked the first location that popped into my mind).  In a perfect world, there would be Bishop (or Metropolitan, Archbishop, Patriarch, whatever) Jacob of Los Angeles and all of the Greeks, Russians, Serbs, etc. in LA County would be under his omophorion.  But, in today's world, there are many, many bishops who claim jurisdiction in LA.
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« Reply #28 on: January 29, 2012, 12:27:26 AM »

I don't think it's exactly the same... because rather than having any squabbling over who should be in charge, we haven't even come to realize that there should be the Orthodox Church in North America, rather than the Orthodox Church in Egypt in North America beside the Orthodox Church in Ethiopia in North America... I really think we just followed the model the EO had set without discernment, without questioning whether it was right. Rather than fighting for which jurisdiction will become the dominant one, we just ignore each other and do our own thing, thinking that that is how it should be. I think that this, and ordaining bishops without sees (physical cities, rather than vague things like Education, as if bishops were ministers in a government cabinet) are two areas where errors (not heresies, errors in organization that do not properly reflect and shine forth the spiritual reality of the Church) were made in the middle of last century in the Coptic Church.
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« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2012, 08:50:33 AM »

The problem with EO's in my opinion also is that at a certain point, it was considered a "heresy."  I wouldn't jump the gun to call it a heresy, but I would say an "ecclesiological problem," especially if this is leads to a form of some sort of racism or cultural divide over issues that have nothing to do with dogma, and a "potential problem" if the racism doesn't exist yet.  St. Paul chastised St. Peter over his refusal to sit with Gentiles in the presence of Jews, and that's a problem.  But mere ecclesiological divides in the same territory without the baggage of racism or cultural criticisms should not be considered "heresy" (St. Paul after all was dubbed the Apostle to the Gentiles, so it shouldn't be "heresy"), and OOs are very welcoming to new dioceses overlapping with their own dioceses especially on this regard.

II canon of Constantinople I.
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« Reply #30 on: January 29, 2012, 02:03:02 PM »

I do think the Armenian and Syriac parishes in Egypt are a problem, because some Copts join them in order to get divorced. That's just absurd. And if Armenians Syriacs recognize Pope Shenouda as the legitimate Patriarch of Alexandria, why dont they just become Armanian and Syriac rite parishes under his jurisdiction?
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« Reply #31 on: January 29, 2012, 02:13:19 PM »

Because that's not how it works? "Syriac Rite parishes"? The COC is not the RCC.

Why exactly should they have to do that, anyway? I believe that Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas is the legitimate Patriarch of Antioch. Do I then need to become Syriac Orthodox if I'm going to live in Damascus? Huh
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« Reply #32 on: January 29, 2012, 02:43:09 PM »

Because that's not how it works? "Syriac Rite parishes"? The COC is not the RCC.

Why exactly should they have to do that, anyway? I believe that Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas is the legitimate Patriarch of Antioch. Do I then need to become Syriac Orthodox if I'm going to live in Damascus? Huh

On the first point, it really would not at all be similar to the situation in the Roman Catholic Church because there would - presumably anyways - not be new dioceses and a new hierarchical structure created for the purpose of overseeing different rites.  In fact, as it stands now, the situation in the OO world would seem to be pretty close to the RCC situation, in that you in fact do have church hierarchies structured around ethnicity and liturgical practice, and they are permitted to found parishes in an area that is traditionally under the jurisdiction of another bishop (say, the Armenians founding parishes and even perhaps a diocese, in Cairo). 

On the second, as Michal pointed out, the second canon of Constantinople I does certainly seem to suggest that you should become Syrian Orthodox if you move to Damascus (though nothing would prevent the Patriarch of Antioch from permitting Coptic-rite parishes to exist under his patrimony).
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« Reply #33 on: January 29, 2012, 03:12:00 PM »

The problem with EO's in my opinion also is that at a certain point, it was considered a "heresy."  I wouldn't jump the gun to call it a heresy, but I would say an "ecclesiological problem," especially if this is leads to a form of some sort of racism or cultural divide over issues that have nothing to do with dogma, and a "potential problem" if the racism doesn't exist yet.  St. Paul chastised St. Peter over his refusal to sit with Gentiles in the presence of Jews, and that's a problem.  But mere ecclesiological divides in the same territory without the baggage of racism or cultural criticisms should not be considered "heresy" (St. Paul after all was dubbed the Apostle to the Gentiles, so it shouldn't be "heresy"), and OOs are very welcoming to new dioceses overlapping with their own dioceses especially on this regard.

I'd agree that the 19th century ruling on 'phyletism is heresy' was problematic in large part because it's confused the discussion ever since. Constantinople's actual objection to the Bulgarian's establishing parishes in Constantinople was that it violated the very ancient principle (it can be seen in St. Ignatius' letters and is embodied in the canons of the Ecumenical council), that all the Christians in a given area (city for Ignatius, diocese in later terminology) formed one church with the local bishop as the supreme ecclesiastical authority--and that no one, either internally or coming in from outside, should be doing anything within that local church without the bishop.

The Bulgarians tried to justify their violation of this principle on the basis that they were just 'taking care of their own', and it was this justification which led Constantinople to its condemnation of 'phyletism'--a condemnation which in it's broad outline I don't think anyone actually objects to (i.e., if a Copt showed up at an Armenian parish and was told 'no, you can't receive the sacraments here because you are not Armenian' or, vice-versa, if the Copt refused to go to Ethiopian parish simply because he didn't want to receive the sacraments from a 'black person', I presume everyone would consider that wrong). But it was overkill in that they could have just focused on the violation of (EO) canonical norms. Labeling it heresy has muddled the conversation ever since.
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« Reply #34 on: January 29, 2012, 03:21:53 PM »

The problem with EO's in my opinion also is that at a certain point, it was considered a "heresy."  I wouldn't jump the gun to call it a heresy, but I would say an "ecclesiological problem," especially if this is leads to a form of some sort of racism or cultural divide over issues that have nothing to do with dogma, and a "potential problem" if the racism doesn't exist yet.  St. Paul chastised St. Peter over his refusal to sit with Gentiles in the presence of Jews, and that's a problem.  But mere ecclesiological divides in the same territory without the baggage of racism or cultural criticisms should not be considered "heresy" (St. Paul after all was dubbed the Apostle to the Gentiles, so it shouldn't be "heresy"), and OOs are very welcoming to new dioceses overlapping with their own dioceses especially on this regard.

II canon of Constantinople I.

Yes, we all know about the canon Michal.  But the third century did not have anything called the United States of America, where it accepts immigrants into their lands.  Today, the Orthodox Church in the US is primarily an immigrant Church, not the evangelical missionary it was in the third century.  Read Jonathan's post earlier.  There was no such think as the Jewish Orthodox Church of Egypt for instance.  St. Mark established the Church of Egypt.  Today, the immigrants came establishing Greek Churches, Russian Churches, Coptic Churches of America, which is a very new situation and requires a new 21st Century canon to deal with it.  The old canon in Constantinople is obsolete and only deals with already established churches.

Today, we need a canon that can also condemn the idea of turfism, and reestablish a sense of making a new mission-centered Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #35 on: January 29, 2012, 03:25:53 PM »

The problem with EO's in my opinion also is that at a certain point, it was considered a "heresy."  I wouldn't jump the gun to call it a heresy, but I would say an "ecclesiological problem," especially if this is leads to a form of some sort of racism or cultural divide over issues that have nothing to do with dogma, and a "potential problem" if the racism doesn't exist yet.  St. Paul chastised St. Peter over his refusal to sit with Gentiles in the presence of Jews, and that's a problem.  But mere ecclesiological divides in the same territory without the baggage of racism or cultural criticisms should not be considered "heresy" (St. Paul after all was dubbed the Apostle to the Gentiles, so it shouldn't be "heresy"), and OOs are very welcoming to new dioceses overlapping with their own dioceses especially on this regard.

I'd agree that the 19th century ruling on 'phyletism is heresy' was problematic in large part because it's confused the discussion ever since. Constantinople's actual objection to the Bulgarian's establishing parishes in Constantinople was that it violated the very ancient principle (it can be seen in St. Ignatius' letters and is embodied in the canons of the Ecumenical council), that all the Christians in a given area (city for Ignatius, diocese in later terminology) formed one church with the local bishop as the supreme ecclesiastical authority--and that no one, either internally or coming in from outside, should be doing anything within that local church without the bishop.

The Bulgarians tried to justify their violation of this principle on the basis that they were just 'taking care of their own', and it was this justification which led Constantinople to its condemnation of 'phyletism'--a condemnation which in it's broad outline I don't think anyone actually objects to (i.e., if a Copt showed up at an Armenian parish and was told 'no, you can't receive the sacraments here because you are not Armenian' or, vice-versa, if the Copt refused to go to Ethiopian parish simply because he didn't want to receive the sacraments from a 'black person', I presume everyone would consider that wrong). But it was overkill in that they could have just focused on the violation of (EO) canonical norms. Labeling it heresy has muddled the conversation ever since.


I think the reason it was declared heresy, though, is that the Bulgarians actions were - if I'm not mistaken - based in the idea that the Church of Bulgaria was really the Bulgarian Church.  That may not seem like a difference, but I think that the first form shows a belief that the hierarchy in Bulgaria is the Church, within Bulgaria.  The second form shows a belief that the hierarchy in Bulgaria is the Church of Bulgarians, and naturally this would lead to a belief that the Church of Greece is really for Greeks and that of Russia is really for Russians, which lead the Bulgarians to establish parishes within the boundaries of another synod.  The action itself was a violation of canonical norms, and the Church could have dealt just with the action.  However, the reason for the action was heretical, and so the Church chose to deal with that, in the hopes of preventing the actions from recurring elsewhere.
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« Reply #36 on: January 29, 2012, 03:27:33 PM »

Because that's not how it works? "Syriac Rite parishes"? The COC is not the RCC.

Why exactly should they have to do that, anyway? I believe that Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas is the legitimate Patriarch of Antioch. Do I then need to become Syriac Orthodox if I'm going to live in Damascus? Huh

In my humble opinion, yes.  Why not learn about the Syriac Orthodox church and her traditions?  Bask in the ambiance of her glory and liturgies, rather than seek your own desires.  Assimilate with the country your are moving in, but maintain your Orthodoxy.  We need to be reminded, it's more important to be Orthodox than to be Coptic or Syriac.  If you have this in mind, then you should also go with the desire and the need not to create a separate church of the same faith, but join the Church that you are already part of and learn from her.  There's no need to have another church.
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« Reply #37 on: January 29, 2012, 03:29:09 PM »

Yes, we all know about the canon Michal.  But the third century did not have anything called the United States of America, where it accepts immigrants into their lands.  

But they have Rome, Alexandria or Antioch which gathered hundreds of thousands of people from different areas. The common Pascha date was set because Christians of different ethnicities celebrated it on different dates at the same place.
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« Reply #38 on: January 29, 2012, 03:31:21 PM »

Because that's not how it works? "Syriac Rite parishes"? The COC is not the RCC.

Why exactly should they have to do that, anyway? I believe that Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas is the legitimate Patriarch of Antioch. Do I then need to become Syriac Orthodox if I'm going to live in Damascus? Huh

In my humble opinion, yes.  Why not learn about the Syriac Orthodox church and her traditions?  Bask in the ambiance of her glory and liturgies, rather than seek your own desires.  Assimilate with the country your are moving in, but maintain your Orthodoxy.  We need to be reminded, it's more important to be Orthodox than to be Coptic or Syriac.  If you have this in mind, then you should also go with the desire and the need not to create a separate church of the same faith, but join the Church that you are already part of and learn from her.  There's no need to have another church.

Well said Mina.  I wish others felt that way here in the States.
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« Reply #39 on: January 29, 2012, 03:31:51 PM »

I do think the Armenian and Syriac parishes in Egypt are a problem, because some Copts join them in order to get divorced. That's just absurd. And if Armenians Syriacs recognize Pope Shenouda as the legitimate Patriarch of Alexandria, why dont they just become Armanian and Syriac rite parishes under his jurisdiction?

I think that is a problem that needs to be addressed.  People have unfortunately taken advantage of STATE law that the Syriac and Armenian Orthodox churches are registered under Egyptian law as different religions, and therefore if divorce is allowed there, indeed many Copts (who are absolutely not religious) have joined these other churches just to get divorces.  I agree with you completely this needs to be addressed, as people are side-stepping the laws of their own Church to fulfill their own carnal desires.  I can go even further to say that this can be grounds for excommunication for anyone who does this, and for any clergy who encourages it.
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« Reply #40 on: January 29, 2012, 03:38:19 PM »

Because that's not how it works? "Syriac Rite parishes"? The COC is not the RCC.

Why exactly should they have to do that, anyway? I believe that Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas is the legitimate Patriarch of Antioch. Do I then need to become Syriac Orthodox if I'm going to live in Damascus? Huh

Yes, normally, historically, when one was travelling to another region, they would commune with the Orthodox Church there, not set up their home country's Orthodox Church, as if it were a different Church, in the destination country. If a substantial group of people go to another country, then they might set up their own rite their for that community, as the Armenians did in Rome in the early centuries... But they would be under the local bishop's authority, not the authority of their bishop back home. One bishop cannot function in another bishop's diocese except by invitation.
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« Reply #41 on: January 29, 2012, 03:40:17 PM »

For converts such as myself, there can be the similar situation to "jump jurisdictions" here in the States if the one you are in has rules that one might find uncomfortable.  I can see a situation where an EO in say the Greek Archdiocese might switch to the Antiochian if it were easier to get an ecclesiastical divorce.  I don't know if that is actually the case with those Churches, just making the point that with all these jurisdictions the temptation exists to "shop around" for the one that the individual feels best meets his "needs".

I have a friend who has considered going to ROCOR because he likes the stricter communion requirements and he actually wants epitimias applied when he goes to confession.  He doesn't think the Serbian Church is "strict" enough.
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« Reply #42 on: January 29, 2012, 03:40:49 PM »

Yes, we all know about the canon Michal.  But the third century did not have anything called the United States of America, where it accepts immigrants into their lands.  

But they have Rome, Alexandria or Antioch which gathered hundreds of thousands of people from different areas. The common Pascha date was set because Christians of different ethnicities celebrated it on different dates at the same place.

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.
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« Reply #43 on: January 29, 2012, 03:41:53 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?
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« Reply #44 on: January 29, 2012, 03:54:33 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.
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« Reply #45 on: January 29, 2012, 03:59:15 PM »

Do you mean the OOs aren't capable of adapting to the canons without the whip of the state?

Kinda sad.
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« Reply #46 on: January 29, 2012, 04:03:35 PM »

Because that's not how it works? "Syriac Rite parishes"? The COC is not the RCC.

Why exactly should they have to do that, anyway? I believe that Mar Ignatius Zakka Iwas is the legitimate Patriarch of Antioch. Do I then need to become Syriac Orthodox if I'm going to live in Damascus? Huh

Let me caveat the rest of my answer by saying that the OO have every right to answer this question and arrange their structure however they want to. In other posts, I've pointed out that the EO 'ideal' (which we regularly fail to live up to these days) is quite ancient, going back through all the Ecumenical Councils to St. Ignatius, but it's always been a structural not a doctrinal issue. If a proper synod of bishops thinks another structure better serves their current needs (and doesn't cause conflict with any other synod), then it's certainly within their episcopal authority to actively enact or passively allow that. So I'm only answering in the sense of clarifying how the EO think about the above situation, not criticizing or commenting on the OO actuality.

Anyway, I would say it's not about 'becoming Syriac Orthodox'. The EO understanding would be that by moving to Damascus you have put yourself under the authority of the legitimate bishop of Damascus (which in the OO case would currently be Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas). Therefore, if you are going to participate in the Church, you need to do so through a parish that is under the authority of Patriarch Ignatius. If Patriarch Ignatius wants to mandate that all parishes under his omophorion use the Syriac rite, then that's what you'll have to attend. Or if he decides that it would be good to set up a parish that follows the Coptic rite, you would be free to go there. But it wouldn't be right for you to write back to your Egyptian bishop and have him send out a priest who set up a parish without permission, and not under the authority of Patriarch Ignatius.
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« Reply #47 on: January 29, 2012, 04:04:40 PM »

Do you mean the OOs aren't capable of adapting to the canons without the whip of the state?

Kinda sad.

Really?  Is that what you think of EO's also here the US who also don't hold to those same canons?

Canons are not dogmas.  Canons are laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere.  We hold our Orthodox dogmas tightly without fear from the state.  But the bishop has to accomodate in a pastoral manner to his flock in order to maintain the Church dogmas and morals.

It's actually quite sad there are some people like yourself who hold to an idolatrous form of keeping canons.
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« Reply #48 on: January 29, 2012, 04:23:03 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?
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« Reply #49 on: January 29, 2012, 04:29:07 PM »

Do you mean the OOs aren't capable of adapting to the canons without the whip of the state?

Kinda sad.

Really?  Is that what you think of EO's also here the US who also don't hold to those same canons?

Actually, many EO's do think our failure to maintain our canonical structure in North America is 'quite sad' or even a full-blown scandal. We're not (generally) excommunicating each other over it, but while there is disagreement about pace and process, there is little disagreement at highest levels that the eventual goal is to get back to the 'standard' model of one diocese, one bishop joined in a unified geographical administration.

Quote
Canons are not dogmas.  Canons are laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere.  We hold our Orthodox dogmas tightly without fear from the state.  But the bishop has to accomodate in a pastoral manner to his flock in order to maintain the Church dogmas and morals.

I agree that canons are not dogmas--but I think it oversimplifies to simple shove them all under the category of 'laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere'. The canons, particularly those promulgated by the Ecumenical councils form a kind of standard, a picture sketched by the Holy Fathers of how the Church should operate. As part of their Apostolic authority to administer the Church, bishops certainly have the authority to bend, break or change various canons in a pastoral manner and as a response to 'the facts on the ground'. Just as 'no Father is infallible' doesn't mean that we shouldn't give respect and weight to a Father's opinion, 'canons are not dogmas' doesn't mean we should just dismiss them as soon as the context changes.

As I've stated before, I'm not trying to apply the EO understanding to OO's on this because your context is and has been different (in some ways very different) than ours. But for us, the failure to implement the traditional, canonical structure has led to a general weakening of canonical discipline. Priest disobeys his bishop? No problem, he can find another jurisdiction that's willing to take him, no questions asked (this is improving of late, but has still not totally gone away). Laity 'jurisdiction shop' on a regular basis--sometimes for good reasons (this parish uses a language I know, which will make it easier for me to grow spiritually) and sometimes for bad reasons. We know that we can solve these problems, by simply getting back to the canonical standard, and the only reason not to is politics and pride--no one wants to be the first to 'give in'.
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« Reply #50 on: January 29, 2012, 04:31:38 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

That is what I would like to see.  In the same way that the OCA and the GOA have ethnic dioceses/vicariates, e.g Carpatho-Russian and Ukrainian, Albanian, etc., there is no reason why an American Church couldn't do the same.  We could have Serb, Russian, Greek, etc. Dioceses/vicariates within the Church, but still have a unified leadership at the synodal level.

My parish would then be part of the Serbian Archdiocese (for example) of the American Orthodox Church.  I don't see why that wouldn't solve the problem.
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« Reply #51 on: January 29, 2012, 04:34:11 PM »

Do you mean the OOs aren't capable of adapting to the canons without the whip of the state?

Kinda sad.

Really?  Is that what you think of EO's also here the US who also don't hold to those same canons?

Actually, many EO's do think our failure to maintain our canonical structure in North America is 'quite sad' or even a full-blown scandal. We're not (generally) excommunicating each other over it, but while there is disagreement about pace and process, there is little disagreement at highest levels that the eventual goal is to get back to the 'standard' model of one diocese, one bishop joined in a unified geographical administration.

Quote
Canons are not dogmas.  Canons are laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere.  We hold our Orthodox dogmas tightly without fear from the state.  But the bishop has to accomodate in a pastoral manner to his flock in order to maintain the Church dogmas and morals.

I agree that canons are not dogmas--but I think it oversimplifies to simple shove them all under the category of 'laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere'. The canons, particularly those promulgated by the Ecumenical councils form a kind of standard, a picture sketched by the Holy Fathers of how the Church should operate. As part of their Apostolic authority to administer the Church, bishops certainly have the authority to bend, break or change various canons in a pastoral manner and as a response to 'the facts on the ground'. Just as 'no Father is infallible' doesn't mean that we shouldn't give respect and weight to a Father's opinion, 'canons are not dogmas' doesn't mean we should just dismiss them as soon as the context changes.

As I've stated before, I'm not trying to apply the EO understanding to OO's on this because your context is and has been different (in some ways very different) than ours. But for us, the failure to implement the traditional, canonical structure has led to a general weakening of canonical discipline. Priest disobeys his bishop? No problem, he can find another jurisdiction that's willing to take him, no questions asked (this is improving of late, but has still not totally gone away). Laity 'jurisdiction shop' on a regular basis--sometimes for good reasons (this parish uses a language I know, which will make it easier for me to grow spiritually) and sometimes for bad reasons. We know that we can solve these problems, by simply getting back to the canonical standard, and the only reason not to is politics and pride--no one wants to be the first to 'give in'.

Witega,

You have a very common-sense approach to these issues.  Thank you.
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« Reply #52 on: January 29, 2012, 04:36:29 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

It is without a doubt my biggest desire that there be an American Orthodox Church, a Canadian Orthodox Church, etc.  I wish I can live long enough to see that day and call myself an American Orthodox Christian.  But that day is hard to come by specifically because of the present situation.  So at least we have to deal with the present situation until we can clean house.  One way of doing this is to perhaps pass a canon that will disallow a new bishop being appointed to a certain diocese once that bishop dies while the other bishop of a sister church is still alive.  But of course, when will a canon like that be passed if bishops are always about keeping their turf?
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« Reply #53 on: January 29, 2012, 04:41:15 PM »

Do you mean the OOs aren't capable of adapting to the canons without the whip of the state?

Kinda sad.

Really?  Is that what you think of EO's also here the US who also don't hold to those same canons?

Actually, many EO's do think our failure to maintain our canonical structure in North America is 'quite sad' or even a full-blown scandal. We're not (generally) excommunicating each other over it, but while there is disagreement about pace and process, there is little disagreement at highest levels that the eventual goal is to get back to the 'standard' model of one diocese, one bishop joined in a unified geographical administration.

Quote
Canons are not dogmas.  Canons are laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere.  We hold our Orthodox dogmas tightly without fear from the state.  But the bishop has to accomodate in a pastoral manner to his flock in order to maintain the Church dogmas and morals.

I agree that canons are not dogmas--but I think it oversimplifies to simple shove them all under the category of 'laws for a specific cultural and political atmosphere'. The canons, particularly those promulgated by the Ecumenical councils form a kind of standard, a picture sketched by the Holy Fathers of how the Church should operate. As part of their Apostolic authority to administer the Church, bishops certainly have the authority to bend, break or change various canons in a pastoral manner and as a response to 'the facts on the ground'. Just as 'no Father is infallible' doesn't mean that we shouldn't give respect and weight to a Father's opinion, 'canons are not dogmas' doesn't mean we should just dismiss them as soon as the context changes.

As I've stated before, I'm not trying to apply the EO understanding to OO's on this because your context is and has been different (in some ways very different) than ours. But for us, the failure to implement the traditional, canonical structure has led to a general weakening of canonical discipline. Priest disobeys his bishop? No problem, he can find another jurisdiction that's willing to take him, no questions asked (this is improving of late, but has still not totally gone away). Laity 'jurisdiction shop' on a regular basis--sometimes for good reasons (this parish uses a language I know, which will make it easier for me to grow spiritually) and sometimes for bad reasons. We know that we can solve these problems, by simply getting back to the canonical standard, and the only reason not to is politics and pride--no one wants to be the first to 'give in'.

I don't disagree with you on what you present here.  In fact, I've given my desire already.  But I didn't like Michal's tone, which seemed to me indicating an OO laxity of canons, as if EOs don't have this same problem.

But at the same time, I do advocate new canons for the lands of immigration because this is in fact new territory.  You wonder how did the Apostles deal with overlapping situations as well, especially along Gentile and Jewish divides.  Probably by later successors letting the other successor in the same geographical area take over, without any need of fighting for turf, as soon as the congregants understand the concept of Orthodox unity.

Second of all, Michal's statement also seemed to address a Calendar feasts issue and imply OOs also have a problem with that, as if the problem is non-existent with EOs.  It's interesting to see that even on that point, Michal calls the Calendar issue "sad."  It would be nice to have a unity over the world based on feast days, but that's not possible if people are not able to celebrate them in the land of a non-Orthodox state.
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« Reply #54 on: January 29, 2012, 04:46:13 PM »

I don't disagree with you on what you present here.  In fact, I've given my desire already.  But I didn't like Michal's tone, which seemed to me indicating an OO laxity of canons, as if EOs don't have this same problem.

We do have the same problem but we don't say it's OK because we can't solve it.[/quote]

Quote
But at the same time, I do advocate new canons for the lands of immigration because this is in fact new territory.  You wonder how did the Apostles deal with overlapping situations as well, especially along Gentile and Jewish divides.  Probably by later successors letting the other successor in the same geographical area take over, without any need of fighting for turf, as soon as the congregants understand the concept of Orthodox unity.

There is no wondering. The II Ecumenical Council clearly states how it was solved.

Quote
Second of all, Michal's statement also seemed to address a Calendar feasts issue and imply OOs also have a problem with that, as if the problem is non-existent with EOs.  It's interesting to see that even on that point, Michal calls the Calendar issue "sad."  It would be nice to have a unity over the world based on feast days, but that's not possible if people are not able to celebrate them in the land of a non-Orthodox state.

I didn't write anything like that. It wa a counterargument for your statement that multi-ethnic communities is the recent immigration and Church did not deal with it in the past (what is completely false).
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« Reply #55 on: January 29, 2012, 04:50:09 PM »

Because that's not how it works? "Syriac Rite parishes"? The COC is not the RCC.

Why exactly should they have to do that, anyway? I believe that Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas is the legitimate Patriarch of Antioch. Do I then need to become Syriac Orthodox if I'm going to live in Damascus? Huh

In my humble opinion, yes.  Why not learn about the Syriac Orthodox church and her traditions?  Bask in the ambiance of her glory and liturgies, rather than seek your own desires.  Assimilate with the country your are moving in, but maintain your Orthodoxy.  We need to be reminded, it's more important to be Orthodox than to be Coptic or Syriac.  If you have this in mind, then you should also go with the desire and the need not to create a separate church of the same faith, but join the Church that you are already part of and learn from her.  There's no need to have another church.

Very well stated.
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« Reply #56 on: January 29, 2012, 04:58:54 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

That is what I would like to see.  In the same way that the OCA and the GOA have ethnic dioceses/vicariates, e.g Carpatho-Russian and Ukrainian, Albanian, etc., there is no reason why an American Church couldn't do the same.  We could have Serb, Russian, Greek, etc. Dioceses/vicariates within the Church, but still have a unified leadership at the synodal level.

My parish would then be part of the Serbian Archdiocese (for example) of the American Orthodox Church.  I don't see why that wouldn't solve the problem.

Because it would be the same situation we already have, more or less.  I think a better thing to do would be for bishops of geographic areas (who aren't in charge of parishes in other geographic areas, merely because those parishes associate with a particular ethnicity) to allow some leniency with certain small-t traditions, such that those unique things Serbians do, that are not necessarily practiced by Greeks or Romanians, are able to be practiced still.  I don't really see a need for a bishop in New England, for instance, to oversee all parishes, that adhere to Greek small-t traditions, in San Francisco.
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« Reply #57 on: January 29, 2012, 05:00:46 PM »

But at the same time, I do advocate new canons for the lands of immigration because this is in fact new territory.  You wonder how did the Apostles deal with overlapping situations as well, especially along Gentile and Jewish divides.  Probably by later successors letting the other successor in the same geographical area take over, without any need of fighting for turf, as soon as the congregants understand the concept of Orthodox unity.

Not to be facetious, but a major component of how the Apostles dealt with it was by being saints. If there were any way to guarantee that all bishops were saints, I'm fairly certain a large number of the current problems would suddenly clear up fairly quickly.

(edit: meant to add here, that part of the reason we have canons is because of the recognition that the Church needed to be organized in such a way that it could run without assuming that every or even the majority of bishops would be saints who could be relied on to do the right thing without any kind of external guide).

There's also the issue that the Apostles were never appointed to a specific flock. Yes, St. Paul did seem to have special calling as 'Apostle to the Gentiles' but he obviously never considered that meant he would be able to take the Gospel to all the Gentiles--and he certainly didn't disdain to show up in a synagogue and start his preaching there. But in general, the Apostles had a standing mandate to spread the Gospel *period*. So once they had done that in a particular place, they would appoint someone to take care of the flock in that specific place (thus St. Ignatius in Antioch, St. Polycarp in Ephesus, etc) and move on. Those they appointed, in thinking in terms of, "I'm responsible for all the Christians in this specific place" were only following the mandate they had been given by the Apostles.
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« Reply #58 on: January 29, 2012, 05:00:56 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

It is without a doubt my biggest desire that there be an American Orthodox Church, a Canadian Orthodox Church, etc.  I wish I can live long enough to see that day and call myself an American Orthodox Christian.  But that day is hard to come by specifically because of the present situation.  So at least we have to deal with the present situation until we can clean house.  One way of doing this is to perhaps pass a canon that will disallow a new bishop being appointed to a certain diocese once that bishop dies while the other bishop of a sister church is still alive.  But of course, when will a canon like that be passed if bishops are always about keeping their turf?

I think before a canon like that could be passed, it might be necessary to have all of the jurisdictions change their diocesan borders so that, for instance, an Armenian Diocese of Topeka would have the exact same diocesan borders as the Coptic Diocese of Wichita.  Otherwise, I think things would quickly become extremely confusing.
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« Reply #59 on: January 29, 2012, 05:13:30 PM »

I don't disagree with you on what you present here.  In fact, I've given my desire already.  But I didn't like Michal's tone, which seemed to me indicating an OO laxity of canons, as if EOs don't have this same problem.

We do have the same problem but we don't say it's OK because we can't solve it.
[/quote]

Where did I say it's okay we can't solve it?  I said that we have to deal with the situation of different political and cultural contexts, not that we can't solve it.  Sometimes the canons are unable to reflect the particular atmosphere we live in today, so we have to find a new way of dealing with things.

Quote
Quote
But at the same time, I do advocate new canons for the lands of immigration because this is in fact new territory.  You wonder how did the Apostles deal with overlapping situations as well, especially along Gentile and Jewish divides.  Probably by later successors letting the other successor in the same geographical area take over, without any need of fighting for turf, as soon as the congregants understand the concept of Orthodox unity.

There is no wondering. The II Ecumenical Council clearly states how it was solved.

Yes, it solved it because most Christians at that time were Roman, including the Pentarchy, which occurred some three hundred years after the Apostles.  That's quite a long time.  Therefore, if it took three hundred years and a state-support of Orthodoxy at the time, then the situation shows that it's different today, where we lack state-supported Orthodoxy.

Quote
Quote
Second of all, Michal's statement also seemed to address a Calendar feasts issue and imply OOs also have a problem with that, as if the problem is non-existent with EOs.  It's interesting to see that even on that point, Michal calls the Calendar issue "sad."  It would be nice to have a unity over the world based on feast days, but that's not possible if people are not able to celebrate them in the land of a non-Orthodox state.

I didn't write anything like that. It wa a counterargument for your statement that multi-ethnic communities is the recent immigration and Church did not deal with it in the past (what is completely false).

And yet the date of Pascha was not officially dealt with until Nicea, which again indicates the Roman Christian state at the time, different from today.
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« Reply #60 on: January 29, 2012, 05:14:19 PM »

It is without a doubt my biggest desire that there be an American Orthodox Church, a Canadian Orthodox Church, etc.  I wish I can live long enough to see that day and call myself an American Orthodox Christian.  But that day is hard to come by specifically because of the present situation.  So at least we have to deal with the present situation until we can clean house.  One way of doing this is to perhaps pass a canon that will disallow a new bishop being appointed to a certain diocese once that bishop dies while the other bishop of a sister church is still alive.  But of course, when will a canon like that be passed if bishops are always about keeping their turf?

I think the problem is that for such a canon to be passed, all the churches to which it would have to apply would have to be able to meet in council and agree to it. And if they are able to work together well enough to meet and pass such a canon, then they are probably already in position to move ahead with the process of creating a single American Orthodox Church (however it's decided to internally structure it to deal with the historical ethnicity issue).
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« Reply #61 on: January 29, 2012, 05:17:10 PM »

Well then, until they can get together and work on it, there should be other goals that we can work on.  We can continue to lament on the situation, but we can also start an evangelical mission in these particular areas so as not to lose focus of the goals of the Church.
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« Reply #62 on: January 29, 2012, 05:19:00 PM »

The issue and notion of "phyletism" doesn't apply to OO's.  It's a 19th century EO innovation.  Your postulation about "jurisdictional rights" over North America is also a rather EO phenomenon.  The OO are a collection of national churches who have, since their infancy, catered to dispersed communities throughout the globe.  We don't give it a second thought that there's another OO church in town.  We tend to build for our own when the need arises.

The Armenian Church is for Armenians.  We have a specific ministry and tradition, we cater to a diverse group within the "big tent" of Armenian identity, but that's part of the challenge.  You have non-Armenians who marry into the church.  Russian-speaking Armenians from former Soviet countries.  Turkish-born Armenians.  Armenians from the Arab world.  Armenians from the Republic of Armenia.  Armenians from Europe.  American-born Armenians.  The list goes on and on and on.  Just finding a common language is a problem.  We have a hard enough time striking a balance there without having to worry about the EO fixation on "pan-ethnic" parishes and "phyletism" and all of that.

Yes, we have issues of youth retention, just like any other religious institution these days.  Yet we also have summer camps full of kids, seminary summer programs bursting at the seams, Armenian schools throughout the country, dance troupes, Armenian scouting and other youth groups along those lines, political youth groups, the Armenian Church Youth Organization, kids who will drive across the country to go to an Armenian dance on the weekends...  So I think we're doing OK.

I think the attitude that you are condemning is the same as what you are endorsing. If an Arab or an Italian or a Chinese went to Armenia and wanted to become Orthodox, from what I gather from the bold above, that wouldn't be allowed because they're not Armenian? Is being Orthodox not as important as being Armenian?  Huh Please correct me if I misunderstood.

In Christ,
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« Reply #63 on: January 29, 2012, 05:22:27 PM »

Gorazd, Mina, Johnathan, et al.: My apologies to all of you. I do not actually have a problem with the post I was replying to. I see now upon re-reading the original post I was replying to that I totally misread it to mean something akin to the RCC situation wherein different churches are established within a jurisdiction without regard to territorial boundaries (because, of course, they have a worldwide "supreme bishop" in their Pope), which, as someone else already mentioned in reply, exacerbates this problem. Again, my apologies. It is a confusion stemming from my RC days, no doubt, wherein the different sui juris churches were often referred to as "____ Rite" (Maronite, Syriac Catholic, Chaldean, etc.), so I suppose the use of that word in this context raises some unnecessary alarm bells. I'm sorry.

Witega and Mina: I wrote "become Syriac Orthodox" because that's literally what I was wondering. As in, be baptized into that church. I ask it in that way because there are Ethiopians here who come to the Coptic Church because it's the only game in town for OO (like I do, I guess). I am under the impression that such a thing is not only unnecessary, but also impossible, there being only one baptism. Of course they, like all of us, are under the authority of the local bishop here (HG Bishop Yousef; we had him visiting us just yesterday in fact -- what a man!). So they practice as Copts but remain Tewahedo. So please forgive me for being a bit confused, but Mina, you are simply advocating that one would practice as the Syriacs practice when in Syriac lands, correct? Because that's what I'm already seeing (if we can call New Mexico "Coptic land"; eh, why not...it's in the desert). Of course it's right, but I do wonder then how that's supposed to work in other places. Was it inadvisable, for instance, for the Copts to establish a church in Lebanon when the Armenians had of course already been there for much longer, and have established churches there of a much older vintage than the recent Coptic church? And if so, what should become of the Coptic community that is already there? (I've only seen one YT video on the Copts in Lebanon, but as I remember it they appear to have a priest lives there and serves them, and a nice building and all that.)
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« Reply #64 on: January 29, 2012, 05:31:25 PM »

Witega and Mina: I wrote "become Syriac Orthodox" because that's literally what I was wondering. As in, be baptized into that church. I ask it in that way because there are Ethiopians here who come to the Coptic Church because it's the only game in town for OO (like I do, I guess). I am under the impression that such a thing is not only unnecessary, but also impossible, there being only one baptism.

You are correct. There is One baptism and One Church. I'm pretty sure no one was suggesting 'becoming Syrian Orthodox' in the sense of 'getting (re)-baptized' because that would imply that the Coptic and Syrian local Churches are not actually part of the same Church. We were only talking about it in the context of what you describe for the Ethiopians attending your Coptic Church.
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« Reply #65 on: January 29, 2012, 05:33:19 PM »

Well then, until they can get together and work on it, there should be other goals that we can work on.  We can continue to lament on the situation, but we can also start an evangelical mission in these particular areas so as not to lose focus of the goals of the Church.

Absolutely agreed. On the EO side, cooperation through things like SCOBA and the OCMC while not being actual fixes for the problem, have been an important step in bringing the various jurisdictions (hierarchs, clergy and laity) together to begin laying the groundwork for something more complete further down the line.
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« Reply #66 on: January 29, 2012, 05:44:14 PM »

Witega and Mina: I wrote "become Syriac Orthodox" because that's literally what I was wondering. As in, be baptized into that church. I ask it in that way because there are Ethiopians here who come to the Coptic Church because it's the only game in town for OO (like I do, I guess). I am under the impression that such a thing is not only unnecessary, but also impossible, there being only one baptism.

You are correct. There is One baptism and One Church. I'm pretty sure no one was suggesting 'becoming Syrian Orthodox' in the sense of 'getting (re)-baptized' because that would imply that the Coptic and Syrian local Churches are not actually part of the same Church. We were only talking about it in the context of what you describe for the Ethiopians attending your Coptic Church.

Okay, thanks for explaining. I don't know what I was thinking before. Well, apparently not much of anything. Heh. Embarrassed
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« Reply #67 on: January 29, 2012, 06:26:27 PM »

The issue and notion of "phyletism" doesn't apply to OO's.  It's a 19th century EO innovation.  Your postulation about "jurisdictional rights" over North America is also a rather EO phenomenon.  The OO are a collection of national churches who have, since their infancy, catered to dispersed communities throughout the globe.  We don't give it a second thought that there's another OO church in town.  We tend to build for our own when the need arises.

The Armenian Church is for Armenians.  We have a specific ministry and tradition, we cater to a diverse group within the "big tent" of Armenian identity, but that's part of the challenge.  You have non-Armenians who marry into the church.  Russian-speaking Armenians from former Soviet countries.  Turkish-born Armenians.  Armenians from the Arab world.  Armenians from the Republic of Armenia.  Armenians from Europe.  American-born Armenians.  The list goes on and on and on.  Just finding a common language is a problem.  We have a hard enough time striking a balance there without having to worry about the EO fixation on "pan-ethnic" parishes and "phyletism" and all of that.

Yes, we have issues of youth retention, just like any other religious institution these days.  Yet we also have summer camps full of kids, seminary summer programs bursting at the seams, Armenian schools throughout the country, dance troupes, Armenian scouting and other youth groups along those lines, political youth groups, the Armenian Church Youth Organization, kids who will drive across the country to go to an Armenian dance on the weekends...  So I think we're doing OK.

I think the attitude that you are condemning is the same as what you are endorsing. If an Arab or an Italian or a Chinese went to Armenia and wanted to become Orthodox, from what I gather from the bold above, that wouldn't be allowed because they're not Armenian? Is being Orthodox not as important as being Armenian?  Huh Please correct me if I misunderstood.

In Christ,
Andrew

We do have converts to the Armenian Church.  One, in fact, posts here at OCnet.  I think what Aram was saying is that we are not here to proselytize.

The mission of the Armenian Church here and elsewhere in the diaspora is to serve the needs of those Armenians who have had to leave their homeland.  Since the Genocide, there have been barely enough clergy to do that.  It would be ridiculous to use our Church's scarce resources and few priests to go after the sheep of other Churches, when our own sheep were barely having their spiritual needs met.  Similarly, in Armenia, the Church is struggling to re-evangelize its people and rebuild its priesthood after seven decades of forced atheism.  It would be irresponsible to start a mission to convert Non-Armenian Protestants and Catholics to the Armenian Church when so many Armenians are ignorant of the Christian faith. 
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« Reply #68 on: January 29, 2012, 07:32:37 PM »

The issue and notion of "phyletism" doesn't apply to OO's.  It's a 19th century EO innovation.  Your postulation about "jurisdictional rights" over North America is also a rather EO phenomenon.  The OO are a collection of national churches who have, since their infancy, catered to dispersed communities throughout the globe.  We don't give it a second thought that there's another OO church in town.  We tend to build for our own when the need arises.

The Armenian Church is for Armenians.  We have a specific ministry and tradition, we cater to a diverse group within the "big tent" of Armenian identity, but that's part of the challenge.  You have non-Armenians who marry into the church.  Russian-speaking Armenians from former Soviet countries.  Turkish-born Armenians.  Armenians from the Arab world.  Armenians from the Republic of Armenia.  Armenians from Europe.  American-born Armenians.  The list goes on and on and on.  Just finding a common language is a problem.  We have a hard enough time striking a balance there without having to worry about the EO fixation on "pan-ethnic" parishes and "phyletism" and all of that.

Yes, we have issues of youth retention, just like any other religious institution these days.  Yet we also have summer camps full of kids, seminary summer programs bursting at the seams, Armenian schools throughout the country, dance troupes, Armenian scouting and other youth groups along those lines, political youth groups, the Armenian Church Youth Organization, kids who will drive across the country to go to an Armenian dance on the weekends...  So I think we're doing OK.

I think the attitude that you are condemning is the same as what you are endorsing. If an Arab or an Italian or a Chinese went to Armenia and wanted to become Orthodox, from what I gather from the bold above, that wouldn't be allowed because they're not Armenian? Is being Orthodox not as important as being Armenian?  Huh Please correct me if I misunderstood.

In Christ,
Andrew

We do have converts to the Armenian Church.  One, in fact, posts here at OCnet.  I think what Aram was saying is that we are not here to proselytize.

The mission of the Armenian Church here and elsewhere in the diaspora is to serve the needs of those Armenians who have had to leave their homeland.  Since the Genocide, there have been barely enough clergy to do that.  It would be ridiculous to use our Church's scarce resources and few priests to go after the sheep of other Churches, when our own sheep were barely having their spiritual needs met.  Similarly, in Armenia, the Church is struggling to re-evangelize its people and rebuild its priesthood after seven decades of forced atheism.  It would be irresponsible to start a mission to convert Non-Armenian Protestants and Catholics to the Armenian Church when so many Armenians are ignorant of the Christian faith. 

Why is this viewed as an either or thing?  This isn't a snarky question, I am genuinely interested.
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« Reply #69 on: January 29, 2012, 09:20:50 PM »

The issue and notion of "phyletism" doesn't apply to OO's.  It's a 19th century EO innovation.  Your postulation about "jurisdictional rights" over North America is also a rather EO phenomenon.  The OO are a collection of national churches who have, since their infancy, catered to dispersed communities throughout the globe.  We don't give it a second thought that there's another OO church in town.  We tend to build for our own when the need arises.

The Armenian Church is for Armenians.  We have a specific ministry and tradition, we cater to a diverse group within the "big tent" of Armenian identity, but that's part of the challenge.  You have non-Armenians who marry into the church.  Russian-speaking Armenians from former Soviet countries.  Turkish-born Armenians.  Armenians from the Arab world.  Armenians from the Republic of Armenia.  Armenians from Europe.  American-born Armenians.  The list goes on and on and on.  Just finding a common language is a problem.  We have a hard enough time striking a balance there without having to worry about the EO fixation on "pan-ethnic" parishes and "phyletism" and all of that.

Yes, we have issues of youth retention, just like any other religious institution these days.  Yet we also have summer camps full of kids, seminary summer programs bursting at the seams, Armenian schools throughout the country, dance troupes, Armenian scouting and other youth groups along those lines, political youth groups, the Armenian Church Youth Organization, kids who will drive across the country to go to an Armenian dance on the weekends...  So I think we're doing OK.

I think the attitude that you are condemning is the same as what you are endorsing. If an Arab or an Italian or a Chinese went to Armenia and wanted to become Orthodox, from what I gather from the bold above, that wouldn't be allowed because they're not Armenian? Is being Orthodox not as important as being Armenian?  Huh Please correct me if I misunderstood.

In Christ,
Andrew

We do have converts to the Armenian Church.  One, in fact, posts here at OCnet.  I think what Aram was saying is that we are not here to proselytize.

The mission of the Armenian Church here and elsewhere in the diaspora is to serve the needs of those Armenians who have had to leave their homeland.  Since the Genocide, there have been barely enough clergy to do that.  It would be ridiculous to use our Church's scarce resources and few priests to go after the sheep of other Churches, when our own sheep were barely having their spiritual needs met.  Similarly, in Armenia, the Church is struggling to re-evangelize its people and rebuild its priesthood after seven decades of forced atheism.  It would be irresponsible to start a mission to convert Non-Armenian Protestants and Catholics to the Armenian Church when so many Armenians are ignorant of the Christian faith. 

Why is this viewed as an either or thing?  This isn't a snarky question, I am genuinely interested.

I suppose this is based on the assumption that they're worn out thin, that they don't have enough to do both?
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« Reply #70 on: January 29, 2012, 09:33:03 PM »

Given the circumstances of the Armenian Church in the 20th century, how could they do both?

During the Genocide, well over ninety percent of all existing Armenian clergy were killed.  The Turks took particular care to make sure none survived.  In my grandfather's village the priests were doused with kerosene and burned alive.

So after the Genocide, the Armenians who survived were scattered all over the globe, forced to start their lives over again in whatever foreign environment they found themselves in, and they had nothing with which to do it.  Coming out of the Genocide, there were virtually no priests to serve them.  In the next couple of generations, some young men in the diaspora did join the clergy, but very few.  There are different theories as to why this was, but becoming a priest was something most Armenian families at that time did not want for their sons.

When I was a kid, I think there were literally less than a couple of dozen Armenian priests here in the US, to serve hundreds of thousands of Armenians.  This was a perfect time for Protestant "missionaries" to sheep steal.  Your average Armenian had very little religious instruction, and the Armenian Protestants made much of the opportunity (and they still do) to misinform whomever they could and get them to change Churches.  Most Armenian priests were overworked, overwhelmed, and were mostly able to just do sacraments and try to do whatever damage control they could where the Protestants had been raiding their flocks.

In Soviet Armenia, of course, things were even worse, due to Communism.  In addition to the shortage of priests, any priests who did their jobs too aggressively were sent to prison.  They were barely able to address the needs of their flocks, much less go out an do missions work.

Now that Communism has fallen, young men are joining the priesthood in greater numbers, and Etchmiadzin is publishing religious educational material.  However, there is a lot of re-evangelizing to do, both in Armenia and the Diaspora.

So given these circumstance, how do you propose that the Armenians do missions work to bring Non-Armenians to the Armenian Church?  Also, why would the Armenian Church even want to do that, given the Church's ecumenical outlook?  We don't consider our Church to be the only way to heaven.  We don't believe we are the only True Christians.  So given the tremendous, daunting work to be done to repair the damage of the Genocide and Communism, not only how could we start evangelizing the Non-Armenians, but why should we, when we believe that they are not necessarily lost just because they don't belong to our Church?
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« Reply #71 on: January 29, 2012, 09:46:46 PM »

So given these circumstance, how do you propose that the Armenians do missions work to bring Non-Armenians to the Armenian Church?  Also, why would the Armenian Church even want to do that, given the Church's ecumenical outlook?  We don't consider our Church to be the only way to heaven.  We don't believe we are the only True Christians.  So given the tremendous, daunting work to be done to repair the damage of the Genocide and Communism, not only how could we start evangelizing the Non-Armenians, but why should we, when we believe that they are not necessarily lost just because they don't belong to our Church?

That's interesting Salpy.  I would have thought there be a similar Orthodox fervor with the Armenian Church concerning Orthodox faith.  Do all Armenians feel that Catholics and Protestants are part of the Church, or do many feel that they should be evangelized to?  For instance on subjects of disagreement of the faith, wouldn't the Armenians consider the heretical implications of those disagreements and the need to address them to people of other faiths?

Also, is there at least a certain interest in making English-translated liturgies of the Armenian rite here in America to at least attract the youth?   That's always a start, at least it was a starting point for Coptic Churches and Syriac and Indian churches as far as I know.  A famous quote by HH Pope Shenouda, "A youth without the Church is a youth without future.  A Church without youth is a Church without future."
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« Reply #72 on: January 29, 2012, 10:02:46 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

It is without a doubt my biggest desire that there be an American Orthodox Church, a Canadian Orthodox Church, etc.  I wish I can live long enough to see that day and call myself an American Orthodox Christian.  But that day is hard to come by specifically because of the present situation.  So at least we have to deal with the present situation until we can clean house.  One way of doing this is to perhaps pass a canon that will disallow a new bishop being appointed to a certain diocese once that bishop dies while the other bishop of a sister church is still alive.  But of course, when will a canon like that be passed if bishops are always about keeping their turf?

I guess I just find it frustrating because it seems like we should be able to accomplish this so much easier than the EO since we have been here far last time, have fewer parishes, are less established, and have fewer jurisdictions. I know it will never happen, but it just seem so easy.

There are only 5 Coptic bishops in North America (one of whom is ethnically Eritrian and serves their flock). not two many years ago it was only 2 or three. How many bishops do the other OO groups have?

It seems to me (as an outsider since I'm a convert and have no ethnic stake in this, but probably a wrong impression since I don't have good knowledge of the other OO groups), that the OO Church in North America should be a daughter Church of the Coptic Church, just like the Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches were until recently. Not to exclude the other groups, but since the Coptic Church was, to my knowledge, the first OO group to become widely established here. Rather than the bishops here being part of the Coptic Synod, they should simply be reassigned to be a North American Synod, and the bishops of the other OO groups should be folded into that synod. The diocean boarders would have to be redrawn to properly divide up the continent between the existing bishops. The Church is not mature enough to be independent, but the Metropolitan bishop should be appointed by the Coptic Church, like the Ethiopian Aboune was until recently. The rite of the land should be Coptic, just like the rite in Ethiopia was Coptic for centuries until it was adapted to the Ethiopian culture and became its own rite. The language should be English, the language of the land. At the same time, parishes serving Arabic, Armenian, Ethopian, even Spanish needs could be established (and maintained since they exist now), using the rite familiar to the people at the congregation. Such parishes would be under the jurisdiction of the local bishop, regardless of their ethnicity, but that bishop would of course request support for that parish from a fellow bishop of that ethnicity.

It's not such a huge change. Most of the parishes remain unchanged, who they report to just changes. A few bishops get moved around, but we're talking about a handful of bishops that need to work things out, not huge councils. The new English/Canadian/American parishes that are emerging could be properly guided at the episcopal level into a harmonious emerging tradition, rather than each doing their own thing. We could start acting like one Church, and have the resources to accomplish things, rather than having a Coptic school that gets closed down without enough people, ignoring the rest of the Church.

This is almost what is happening in England. Abba Seraphim, the Metropolitan of the British Church, is the senior bishop of the Coptic bishops there, and has the authority to establish a British synod. The only problems are that the Copts still generally ignore them and hold conventions in H.E.'s diocese without even sending an invitation; that the British Church is considered a diocese that overlaps the Coptic diocese, and that there is no integration with other OO groups. A far cry from proper, but a lot closer than the situation we have in NA.

I know we're just going to continue as we are, because most Copts really believe that the Coptic Orthodox Church is their Church, and don't realize that it isn't even a Church, that the Orthodox Church is the Church, and that the Patriarch of Alexandria has no canonical place outside of Africa. I know we'll continue to ignore each other, act like we're separate denominations, contradict each other, duplicate resources, and probably all establish a variety of English mission experiments, many of which will drift outside of Orthodoxy (as already seems to be happening, with many Protestant-content youth publications arising from them).

But it just seems to frustratingly easy to accomplish if we would just realize who we are, that we hold something called the Orthodox faith, not this Coptic faith I keep hearing about.
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« Reply #73 on: January 29, 2012, 10:07:29 PM »

So given these circumstance, how do you propose that the Armenians do missions work to bring Non-Armenians to the Armenian Church?  Also, why would the Armenian Church even want to do that, given the Church's ecumenical outlook?  We don't consider our Church to be the only way to heaven.  We don't believe we are the only True Christians.  So given the tremendous, daunting work to be done to repair the damage of the Genocide and Communism, not only how could we start evangelizing the Non-Armenians, but why should we, when we believe that they are not necessarily lost just because they don't belong to our Church?

That's interesting Salpy.  I would have thought there be a similar Orthodox fervor with the Armenian Church concerning Orthodox faith.  Do all Armenians feel that Catholics and Protestants are part of the Church, or do many feel that they should be evangelized to?  For instance on subjects of disagreement of the faith, wouldn't the Armenians consider the heretical implications of those disagreements and the need to address them to people of other faiths?

I don't think the Armenian Church considers Protestants and Catholics to be "part of the Church;"  However, I don't think the Armenians consider them to be totally without God either.  I'm surprised that this would surprise you.  Haven't you noticed how ready the Armenians are to engage in ecumenical prayer services?  I've never heard a member of the Armenian clergy point to the Protestants or Catholics and say that they are not Christians, or that they are totally without salvation.

Let me put it this way:  The Armenians don't consider these others to be part of the Church, but the Armenians don't consider them to be so lost that the Armenian Church should abandon its own Armenian flock to fall over a cliff, so they can spend their few resources "saving" the Non-Armenian Protestants and Catholics.


Quote
Also, is there at least a certain interest in making English-translated liturgies of the Armenian rite here in America to at least attract the youth?   That's always a start, at least it was a starting point for Coptic Churches and Syriac and Indian churches as far as I know.  A famous quote by HH Pope Shenouda, "A youth without the Church is a youth without future.  A Church without youth is a Church without future."

There are those here in the US who want English liturgies.  It's a controversial issue.  A few years back there was an "English liturgy" movement, but the Catholicos came out with a pronouncement banning liturgies in anything but Classical Armenian, and that put an end to the movement.

I personally would like to see English liturgies, but when the "English liturgy" movement was at its height a few years back, I opposed it.  That was because everyone I knew who was in it wanted to do more to the liturgy than just translate it.  They wanted to make a whole bunch of other "reforms," like shorten it way down to 45 minutes, arrange the altar so the priest is facing the congregation, etc.  That might actually be the reason why the Catholicos put a stop to it.
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« Reply #74 on: January 29, 2012, 10:33:43 PM »

So given these circumstance, how do you propose that the Armenians do missions work to bring Non-Armenians to the Armenian Church?  Also, why would the Armenian Church even want to do that, given the Church's ecumenical outlook?  We don't consider our Church to be the only way to heaven.  We don't believe we are the only True Christians.  So given the tremendous, daunting work to be done to repair the damage of the Genocide and Communism, not only how could we start evangelizing the Non-Armenians, but why should we, when we believe that they are not necessarily lost just because they don't belong to our Church?

That's interesting Salpy.  I would have thought there be a similar Orthodox fervor with the Armenian Church concerning Orthodox faith.  Do all Armenians feel that Catholics and Protestants are part of the Church, or do many feel that they should be evangelized to?  For instance on subjects of disagreement of the faith, wouldn't the Armenians consider the heretical implications of those disagreements and the need to address them to people of other faiths?

I don't think the Armenian Church considers Protestants and Catholics to be "part of the Church;"  However, I don't think the Armenians consider them to be totally without God either.  I'm surprised that this would surprise you.  Haven't you noticed how ready the Armenians are to engage in ecumenical prayer services?  I've never heard a member of the Armenian clergy point to the Protestants or Catholics and say that they are not Christians, or that they are totally without salvation.

Let me put it this way:  The Armenians don't consider these others to be part of the Church, but the Armenians don't consider them to be so lost that the Armenian Church should abandon its own Armenian flock to fall over a cliff, so they can spend their few resources "saving" the Non-Armenian Protestants and Catholics.

Well, you won't see Coptic people praying with them (I'm not surprised about the ecumenical prayer meetings, but I am surprised that there's still no sense of at least having that goal of evangelical fervor that other churches have), but certainly they won't say they're not Christian either.  HG Bishop Moussa in our church made an interesting comment in a sermon saying that the Orthodox Church is the straight way, while other Christians have a zig-zag way.  I suppose you can compare that to HE Metropolitan Kallistos' "We know where the Church is, we don't know where it isn't."

Actually if anything, I was at least talking about the Armenian Protestants and Catholics, not the non-Armenians.  If Protestants partake of sheep-stealing, it's a very good indicator of fighting back by exposing their own heresies.

Quote
Quote
Also, is there at least a certain interest in making English-translated liturgies of the Armenian rite here in America to at least attract the youth?   That's always a start, at least it was a starting point for Coptic Churches and Syriac and Indian churches as far as I know.  A famous quote by HH Pope Shenouda, "A youth without the Church is a youth without future.  A Church without youth is a Church without future."

There are those here in the US who want English liturgies.  It's a controversial issue.  A few years back there was an "English liturgy" movement, but the Catholicos came out with a pronouncement banning liturgies in anything but Classical Armenian, and that put an end to the movement.

I personally would like to see English liturgies, but when the "English liturgy" movement was at its height a few years back, I opposed it.  That was because everyone I knew who was in it wanted to do more to the liturgy than just translate it.  They wanted to make a whole bunch of other "reforms," like shorten it way down to 45 minutes, arrange the altar so the priest is facing the congregation, etc.  That might actually be the reason why the Catholicos put a stop to it.

Interesting.  Well, perhaps the issue needs to be brought up again in the future without the reforms of course.  Hopefully, the strict keeping of classical Armenian isn't affecting the youth too much.
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« Reply #75 on: January 29, 2012, 10:57:22 PM »

You can't compare Rome, Alexandria, or Antioch to Washington DC, New York, or Los Angeles.  The United States of America is not the Roman Empire.  Notice how these canons came about forcefully under the new Christian Roman Empire.  We do not have that situation now.  We're not under one world empire to be able to make that sort of organization.  Therefore, you have to look at how the canons were presented in the cultural and political context of that time.  There has to be a pastoral approach to the people that work here in the US, because they won't be able to get the same privileges as they do let's say in Russia or Ukraine or Georgia.

What is the difference?

Well, the Roman Empire for one thing encompassed Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and was governed in harmony with Orthodox Church canons and traditions.

The United States, Canada, Europe, are all different nations with different laws, different cultures, governed differently, and may lead others to not be able to follow the Orthodox Church's canons and feast days.

But wouldn't it make more sense to have an American Orthodox Church, and a Canadian Orthodox Church, each serving the various ethnicities with their needs in terms of language and rites, but uniformly, as one synod, deciding how to apply canons to issues like divorce, dates of feasts, etc., rather than having separate churches each coming to sometimes conflicting decisions, often decided by synods overseas in a different culture?

It is without a doubt my biggest desire that there be an American Orthodox Church, a Canadian Orthodox Church, etc.  I wish I can live long enough to see that day and call myself an American Orthodox Christian.  But that day is hard to come by specifically because of the present situation.  So at least we have to deal with the present situation until we can clean house.  One way of doing this is to perhaps pass a canon that will disallow a new bishop being appointed to a certain diocese once that bishop dies while the other bishop of a sister church is still alive.  But of course, when will a canon like that be passed if bishops are always about keeping their turf?

I guess I just find it frustrating because it seems like we should be able to accomplish this so much easier than the EO since we have been here far last time, have fewer parishes, are less established, and have fewer jurisdictions. I know it will never happen, but it just seem so easy.

There are only 5 Coptic bishops in North America (one of whom is ethnically Eritrian and serves their flock). not two many years ago it was only 2 or three. How many bishops do the other OO groups have?

It seems to me (as an outsider since I'm a convert and have no ethnic stake in this, but probably a wrong impression since I don't have good knowledge of the other OO groups), that the OO Church in North America should be a daughter Church of the Coptic Church, just like the Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches were until recently. Not to exclude the other groups, but since the Coptic Church was, to my knowledge, the first OO group to become widely established here. Rather than the bishops here being part of the Coptic Synod, they should simply be reassigned to be a North American Synod, and the bishops of the other OO groups should be folded into that synod. The diocean boarders would have to be redrawn to properly divide up the continent between the existing bishops. The Church is not mature enough to be independent, but the Metropolitan bishop should be appointed by the Coptic Church, like the Ethiopian Aboune was until recently. The rite of the land should be Coptic, just like the rite in Ethiopia was Coptic for centuries until it was adapted to the Ethiopian culture and became its own rite. The language should be English, the language of the land. At the same time, parishes serving Arabic, Armenian, Ethopian, even Spanish needs could be established (and maintained since they exist now), using the rite familiar to the people at the congregation. Such parishes would be under the jurisdiction of the local bishop, regardless of their ethnicity, but that bishop would of course request support for that parish from a fellow bishop of that ethnicity.

It's not such a huge change. Most of the parishes remain unchanged, who they report to just changes. A few bishops get moved around, but we're talking about a handful of bishops that need to work things out, not huge councils. The new English/Canadian/American parishes that are emerging could be properly guided at the episcopal level into a harmonious emerging tradition, rather than each doing their own thing. We could start acting like one Church, and have the resources to accomplish things, rather than having a Coptic school that gets closed down without enough people, ignoring the rest of the Church.

This is almost what is happening in England. Abba Seraphim, the Metropolitan of the British Church, is the senior bishop of the Coptic bishops there, and has the authority to establish a British synod. The only problems are that the Copts still generally ignore them and hold conventions in H.E.'s diocese without even sending an invitation; that the British Church is considered a diocese that overlaps the Coptic diocese, and that there is no integration with other OO groups. A far cry from proper, but a lot closer than the situation we have in NA.

I know we're just going to continue as we are, because most Copts really believe that the Coptic Orthodox Church is their Church, and don't realize that it isn't even a Church, that the Orthodox Church is the Church, and that the Patriarch of Alexandria has no canonical place outside of Africa. I know we'll continue to ignore each other, act like we're separate denominations, contradict each other, duplicate resources, and probably all establish a variety of English mission experiments, many of which will drift outside of Orthodoxy (as already seems to be happening, with many Protestant-content youth publications arising from them).

But it just seems to frustratingly easy to accomplish if we would just realize who we are, that we hold something called the Orthodox faith, not this Coptic faith I keep hearing about.

I hear you brother.  I don't know how this can be accomplished properly.  Recently, our Church started something called "Orthodox Pulse," as a way of uniting our Coptic parishes and try to establish relationships with our sister churches.  Well, that's great and all, but why are only Copts invited to the first event, I wondered?  The reason:  "We need to clean house first before we can establish our unity with others."  I think that's a cop-out, at least on our side.  I hope we're not forever trapped with this excuse of "cleaning house."

But let's see how a grass-roots level works out.  Hopefully this forces a certain position among bishops, if no problems occur....hopefully. Lips Sealed
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« Reply #76 on: January 29, 2012, 11:44:26 PM »

Because that's not how it works? "Syriac Rite parishes"? The COC is not the RCC.

Why exactly should they have to do that, anyway? I believe that Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas is the legitimate Patriarch of Antioch. Do I then need to become Syriac Orthodox if I'm going to live in Damascus? Huh

Ordinarily, I worship in a Greek-speaking parish which commemorates His Eminence Styllianos of Australia. I suppose you could call me "Greek Orthodox", though I personally can't abide that phrase.

I was recently in Japan and attended liturgy celebrated by His Beatitude Daniel of Tokyo and all Japan according to the Russian custom. In what sense was I "Greek Orthodox" while doing so?

Orthodoxy is orthodoxy. We celebrate liturgy according to the fashion of the community in which we find ourselves and we commemorate the local bishop. Or so it should be.
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« Reply #77 on: January 30, 2012, 12:10:55 AM »

I understand. I suppose I am doing nothing different (in so far as I worship at a Coptic Orthodox Church despite not being Coptic myself). As you may have seen in my previous post, I greatly misunderstood what Gorazd was calling for in his original post. Sad
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« Reply #78 on: January 30, 2012, 04:23:12 AM »

In the UK we have the advantage that we are geographically small, but we do have the COOC - Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches - which at least brings together a lot of the bishops and clergy. Unfortunately two of the Coptic dioceses are not represented, but all the other communities are, even those in dispute with each other.

This is not the same as a combined Synod, but it does allow us to be in fellowship together (which is a good start), and to be aware of what each other is doing, and to have a common approach to those issues which are most pressing on us all. But I don't find a lot of folk thinking ahead and saying, if we should have a united Synod in 100 years, or 200 years, what do we need to be doing now to bring that about.

There is certainly warm fellowship, and a eucharistic concelebration is held each year as a sign of our unity. As a start, I guess, at least the clergy in the UK understand and express a unity. But we have the advantage of being the size of a single US state so we can much more easily get to know each other.
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« Reply #79 on: January 30, 2012, 12:34:16 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

But at the same time, I do advocate new canons for the lands of immigration because this is in fact new territory.  You wonder how did the Apostles deal with overlapping situations as well, especially along Gentile and Jewish divides.  Probably by later successors letting the other successor in the same geographical area take over, without any need of fighting for turf, as soon as the congregants understand the concept of Orthodox unity.

Not to be facetious, but a major component of how the Apostles dealt with it was by being saints. If there were any way to guarantee that all bishops were saints, I'm fairly certain a large number of the current problems would suddenly clear up fairly quickly.

(edit: meant to add here, that part of the reason we have canons is because of the recognition that the Church needed to be organized in such a way that it could run without assuming that every or even the majority of bishops would be saints who could be relied on to do the right thing without any kind of external guide).

There's also the issue that the Apostles were never appointed to a specific flock. Yes, St. Paul did seem to have special calling as 'Apostle to the Gentiles' but he obviously never considered that meant he would be able to take the Gospel to all the Gentiles--and he certainly didn't disdain to show up in a synagogue and start his preaching there. But in general, the Apostles had a standing mandate to spread the Gospel *period*. So once they had done that in a particular place, they would appoint someone to take care of the flock in that specific place (thus St. Ignatius in Antioch, St. Polycarp in Ephesus, etc) and move on. Those they appointed, in thinking in terms of, "I'm responsible for all the Christians in this specific place" were only following the mandate they had been given by the Apostles.

What about where Paul mentions not building upon another brother's foundation or when he was sent to Antioch?

stay blessed,
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« Reply #80 on: January 30, 2012, 03:26:53 PM »

interesting discussions.
i was surprised to see salpy's post about the lack of spiritual education among the armenian orthodox. but then i have only been to an armenian church once (due to large distance travelling). i have been twice, if you include the time i popped in after visiting a neighbouring coptic church. the church was already locked after the liturgy, but i enjoyed the best stuffed vine leaves in the world (don't tell the copts!) and chatted a little with the people there having food.
maybe the armenians need to integrate more with the other churches, not less, so that we can help them with this problem. especially as a lot of the uncles will be able to chat together in arabic (i was surprised to see how many armenians were born in arabic speaking countries) and make friends.

i think the way forward (at our level anyway) is to visit each other's churches and form friendships and work well together. those of you who are priests and bishops can also raise the issue in meetings and hang out together for Bible study and friendship.
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« Reply #81 on: January 30, 2012, 04:06:48 PM »

I don't know if I necessarily agree with Salpy's assessment, if it's meant as a blanket statement, that the average Armenian has had very little religious instruction.

If we're talking Armenians from Armenia, predominantly those who came of age before the mid-90s, I think that's an accurate statement.  Yet, for American-born Armenians who have been active in the Armenian Church, the vast majority of us went through Sunday School for most, if not all of our childhood.  For Armenians born overseas from elsewhere in the mideast, I've found many of them are quite well versed, both biblically and liturgically.  A lot of them grew up going to church more than just Sunday morning. 

Sure, we could do better (with religious instruction, I think you always can, and should strive to), but I don't think I agree that a lack of religious instruction is a major problem across the board, comparatively speaking, for the Armenian Church in the United States. 
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« Reply #82 on: January 30, 2012, 04:38:27 PM »

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« Reply #83 on: January 30, 2012, 09:09:38 PM »

I don't know if I necessarily agree with Salpy's assessment, if it's meant as a blanket statement, that the average Armenian has had very little religious instruction.

If we're talking Armenians from Armenia, predominantly those who came of age before the mid-90s, I think that's an accurate statement.  Yet, for American-born Armenians who have been active in the Armenian Church, the vast majority of us went through Sunday School for most, if not all of our childhood.  For Armenians born overseas from elsewhere in the mideast, I've found many of them are quite well versed, both biblically and liturgically.  A lot of them grew up going to church more than just Sunday morning. 

Sure, we could do better (with religious instruction, I think you always can, and should strive to), but I don't think I agree that a lack of religious instruction is a major problem across the board, comparatively speaking, for the Armenian Church in the United States. 

It could be the difference between our perspectives has to do with where we are.  It could be the Eastern Diocese, where you are, is not as bad as the Western Diocese.  The Eastern Diocese for decades has had a Christian Education Department, St. Vartan Bookstore, and an organized Sunday School program.  The Western Diocese is only starting now to emulate that.

Over here, it is not uncommon to find devout Armenians who know little of the basic teachings of the Christian faith, and I am not just talking about the newcomers from Armenia.    Those who do know quite a bit about the Christian religion have mostly learned it from reading Catholic or Protestant literature, or attending Protestant Bible studies, and thus they are indoctrinated with a version of Christianity that is not ours.  This underscores another problem, which is that in addition to not knowing much about Christianity, people also do not know the difference between our Church and others, and both of those problems make them easy targets for the proselytizing of sheep-stealing wolves.

I do have to say that things are better now than they were twenty years ago.  We are getting more priests now, and Archbishop Hovnan is starting to address some of the problems.  Bible studies are not uncommon in Armenian Churches now, whereas twenty years ago they were non-existent.  Overall, things are starting to look up, but it seems the Eastern Diocese continues to outpace us.   Smiley
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« Reply #84 on: January 30, 2012, 10:29:34 PM »

This problem exists in many EO parishes as well.  I have gotten to know a number of lifelong members (cradles) since converting, and many of them know almost nothing about the distinctive features of the faith.  Words like Theosis elicit a blank stare, while an understanding of the differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism is almost non-existent.  And these are not only people from the Old Country, but people born and raised in the Church here.

A lot of converts like myself converted to Orthodoxy after years of study, reading numerous books on Orthodox history and theology which convinced us of the truth of the Orthodox faith.  It comes as a bit of a shock after joining a parish to discover that people born into the Church, and being active in a parish for decades, have little knowledge of terms like prelest, Orthopraxy, the Christological controversies of the early Church, the Orthodox view of the Atonement, and all the other subjects we discuss here on the forum.

Of course I am not questioning their commitment or personal piety, but it is still quite surprising to experience. 
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« Reply #85 on: January 30, 2012, 10:33:13 PM »

This problem exists in many EO parishes as well.  I have gotten to know a number of lifelong members (cradles) since converting, and many of them know almost nothing about the distinctive features of the faith.  Words like Theosis elicit a blank stare, while an understanding of the differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism is almost non-existent.  And these are not only people from the Old Country, but people born and raised in the Church here.

A lot of converts like myself converted to Orthodoxy after years of study, reading numerous books on Orthodox history and theology which convinced us of the truth of the Orthodox faith.  It comes as a bit of a shock after joining a parish to discover that people born into the Church, and being active in a parish for decades, have little knowledge of terms like prelest, Orthopraxy, the Christological controversies of the early Church, the Orthodox view of the Atonement, and all the other subjects we discuss here on the forum.

Of course I am not questioning their commitment or personal piety, but it is still quite surprising to experience. 

I know it was a bit jarring for me, the first time I attended coffee hour, to find that - in fact - not everyone present (indeed, almost no one) was talking about the usual subjects posted about on OC.net.
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« Reply #86 on: January 30, 2012, 10:35:44 PM »

Yes.  As I became friends with some people after my conversion I felt it was natural to bring up subjects that I had been reading about or discussing with others on the web and almost universally they had no clue as to what I was talking about.   Smiley
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« Reply #87 on: January 30, 2012, 11:54:53 PM »

I'm talking about much greater ignorance than what you described above.

Like I said, though, things are better now than when I was younger.  I think that is partly due to there being more priests now.  We still have a long way to go, though.

The Copts, on the other hand, have a pretty well educated laity, religiously speaking.  At least that is my experience.  Most Copts I've met have a better knowledge of Christian doctrine, as well as the differences between their Church and other Christian Churches.  I've always been very impressed with them and I can see how they can be in a position to start looking outward and to think about evangelizing Non-Copts.  
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« Reply #88 on: January 31, 2012, 12:06:17 AM »

Dear Salpy,

I want to take this opportunity to ask you a question about the Armenian Liturgy that is not related to the thread.  In all the EO and OO Churches with the exception of the Armenian, leavened bread is used and that portion not consecrated is distributed as antidoron at the conclusion of the service.  My understanding is that the Armenians use wafers similar to those used by the RC's.  Are blessed, but unconsecrated wafers, distributed to the faithful at the end of the service?  Thank you.
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« Reply #89 on: January 31, 2012, 12:09:34 AM »

A very thin, unleavened bread call "mas" is distributed to the faithful after the liturgy.  It's a little different from the bread used for the Eucharist, but it's unleavened.
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« Reply #90 on: January 31, 2012, 12:11:54 AM »

Thank you.  I assumed that would be the case since all Orthodox Churches seem to practice it.  Smiley

I hope to attend an Armenian Liturgy one day.  We have St. John Garabed Church here in San Diego.
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« Reply #91 on: January 31, 2012, 12:12:43 AM »

Also, the "wafers" we use are different from what the Catholics use.  They are bigger and a little thicker, and the priest tears them into small pieces before giving them to the faithful.  In other words, it's not one "wafer" per person.  
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« Reply #92 on: January 31, 2012, 12:14:39 AM »

Thank you for the information.  I hope to witness an Armenian Liturgy in person this year sometime.
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« Reply #93 on: January 31, 2012, 12:39:25 AM »

This problem exists in many EO parishes as well.  I have gotten to know a number of lifelong members (cradles) since converting, and many of them know almost nothing about the distinctive features of the faith.  Words like Theosis elicit a blank stare, while an understanding of the differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism is almost non-existent.  And these are not only people from the Old Country, but people born and raised in the Church here.
I'd be giving you a blank stare right now if you were standing in front of me talking about Theosis. 

Quote
A lot of converts like myself converted to Orthodoxy after years of study, reading numerous books on Orthodox history and theology which convinced us of the truth of the Orthodox faith.  It comes as a bit of a shock after joining a parish to discover that people born into the Church, and being active in a parish for decades, have little knowledge of terms like prelest, Orthopraxy, the Christological controversies of the early Church, the Orthodox view of the Atonement, and all the other subjects we discuss here on the forum.

Of course I am not questioning their commitment or personal piety, but it is still quite surprising to experience. 
The Church isn't a reading list.  It's a lived faith.    I realize your study was the reason you converted, but for a lot of cradles, that just isn't in the cards.  The Church is who we are and have always been, not what we've become.  The way we've learned our faith is different, and sometimes I think converts tend to come from your kind of experience, look at us, and assume we're somehow ignorant, or that we don't care.  Not to say that's what you're doing, but I've seen it.  I've been on the other end of it.  And it isn't fun. Even after being born into the Church, a lifetime of Christian education, learning to serve the Church, being trained as an academic who studies Orthodoxy (EO and OO), these things aren't always on my radar.  I love my Church and believe in it in the way in which I was raised to experience it.  Always have, always will.  I may not be able to tell you the theological technicalities separating the Armenian tradition from the Catholic understanding of things, but that doesn't particularly matter much to me. 
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« Reply #94 on: January 31, 2012, 12:56:19 AM »

Aram,

I have seen that as well (converts that take an arrogant attitude towards cradles), and I agree it is wrong.  Ideally the Church should always be bringing in people (converts) since that is a big part of Christianity, and hopefully the newcomers and the established members can each benefit from the other's experiences.

Even when I was a protestant, I remember converts that entered our church "on fire for the Lord" and hyper-motivated.  They seemed a bit extreme to me at the time since we were comfortable with things as they stood.  Usually they would calm down after awhile, and the pastor would channel there exuberance into appropriate channels.

I know one Orthodox convert who wanted to remove the pews in our parish and even literally close the doors during the dismissal of the catechumens.  Not to mention, he wished the priest would enforce a dress code.
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« Reply #95 on: January 31, 2012, 01:56:40 AM »

Oh, yes, I didn't mean to come off as being overly critical.  I think your approach is perfectly fine, and it seems like you've been able to put it in perspective.  That's a good thing.  It's the ones that don't, who end up converting then alienating others because of their sheer befuddlement that things aren't exactly like what they read about, down to the letter, who seem to be the problem.  The ones who try to shake you down for a copy of The Rudder for a bit of light reading and spiritual edification.  (Yes, had that happen once.) 

It's all about perspective.
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« Reply #96 on: January 31, 2012, 02:18:38 AM »

Oh, yes, I didn't mean to come off as being overly critical.  I think your approach is perfectly fine, and it seems like you've been able to put it in perspective.  That's a good thing.  It's the ones that don't, who end up converting then alienating others because of their sheer befuddlement that things aren't exactly like what they read about, down to the letter, who seem to be the problem.  The ones who try to shake you down for a copy of The Rudder for a bit of light reading and spiritual edification.  (Yes, had that happen once.) 

It's all about perspective.

I think those types generally, before long, wind up in HOCNA.
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« Reply #97 on: January 31, 2012, 06:41:16 PM »

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« Reply #98 on: January 31, 2012, 07:12:29 PM »

You know, having educated priests was also a tough point for the Coptic Church at some time.  There was a very sad level of ignorance for both priests and monks before HH Pope Kyrillos VI's papacy.  You find some of the remnants of that ignorance during his papacy as well.  But ever since the establishment of the revolutionary Sunday School Program by the late great Archdeacon Habib Guirguis (who should be canonized a saint in our Church), and ever since HH Pope Kyrillos VI appointed very well educated bishops and abbots, it trickled down from there the massive education the Coptic Church passed down to their priests and laity (HH Pope Shenouda continued this with more fervor, who was also one of the pioneers of the Sunday School Movement).  Now, we have the resources to do social work better than before as well as evangelization, despite perhaps and arguably some ecclesiastical disorganizations.

Also, perhaps one of the more helpful things that accelerated the education of the Coptic Church was the preservation and subsequent understanding and study of our Coptic Liturgical and Hymnographical Traditions by the late great Dr. Ragheb Moftah and the good knowledge and memorization of Chantor Mikhail el-Batanouny.  This combined with Archdeacon Habib's insistence on education of proper Orthodox dogmas and preservation of the teachings of the Church fathers had a massive impact on the education level of Copts today.

I see an optimistic future for the Armenian Church.  So long as the education increases, so will the future look good, and the propensity to begin evangelical work.
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« Reply #99 on: January 31, 2012, 07:34:43 PM »

I remember looking at this Coptic school before.  They offer an external Diploma in Theology (but you have to have a Coptic priest proctor the exams):

"You must have a Coptic Church in your city and a Coptic priest who is willing to sign your recommendation form to supervise your exams, and to mail the answer papers to us. The role of the priest will be only to receive the question paper, supervise your exam, and return personally the answer paper to the college."

Looks like a great program:

http://www.coptictheology.com/about/the_dean.php
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« Reply #100 on: January 31, 2012, 07:41:50 PM »

I remember looking at this Coptic school before.  They offer an external Diploma in Theology (but you have to have a Coptic priest proctor the exams):

"You must have a Coptic Church in your city and a Coptic priest who is willing to sign your recommendation form to supervise your exams, and to mail the answer papers to us. The role of the priest will be only to receive the question paper, supervise your exam, and return personally the answer paper to the college."

Looks like a great program:

http://www.coptictheology.com/about/the_dean.php

Oh no, I'm talking about something different, but yes, this school can be said to be a direct inheritance of the great work Archdeacon Habib did in the early 20th Century.

Some reading on the subject I'd recommend is Otto Meinardus' book "Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity."

A bit about the Archdeacon:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habib_Girgis

A more detailed account:

http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/articles/2010/06/the-renaissance-of-coptic-orthodox-church-after-long-years-of-darkness/
« Last Edit: January 31, 2012, 07:46:36 PM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #101 on: January 31, 2012, 10:46:41 PM »

Thank you for the links!
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