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Author Topic: Patriarchate Denies US Church Autonomy  (Read 2846 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 10, 2003, 10:05:36 AM »

New charter granted to Greek Orthodox Archdiocese  of America formalisesbreakup into metropolitanates under Phanar

By George Gilson

IGNORING calls from Greek Orthodox laity in the United  States, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has refused to grant greater autonomy to the  Archdiocese of America in a new charter that it granted to its largest and  wealthiest eparchy this month.

The new charter completes and formalises a breakup  that began in 1996 of the once enormous Archdiocese of North and South America,  whose dioceses have now been elevated to metropolitanates under the direct  jurisdiction of the patriarchal headquarters at the Phanar.


In the charter - which was fashioned after extensive  meetings with a committee of US bishops, lower clergy and laymen - the  patriarchate rejected proposals passed by the biennial Clergy-Laity Congress  last July and the Archdiocesan Council (comprised of laity and clergy from all  over the US) demanding that the patriarchate be required to elect the archbishop  of the US from a shortlist of three candidates provided by the synod of the  American Church.

The US delegates also wanted the local synod in  America to independently elect its own bishops from a list of candidates  approved by the patriarchate. Both requests were flatly denied, as was the  demand that any candidate for the office of archbishop be absolutely required to  have served for at least five years in the American archdiocese.

Demands

The demand for greater autonomy in the American Church  gained even greater support after a revolt of laity and some clergy forced the  patriarchate in 1999 to replace former archbishop Spyridon, who had previously  served as Metropolitan of Italy.

But the Ecumenical Patriarchate is determined to  retain all its canonical privileges over the crucial archdiocese of America. A  perceived push towards autonomy by then Greek Orthodox Archbishop Iakovos and  the leaders of other Orthodox churches was lambasted by the Phanar after a  conference in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, in the mid-90s.

"The election of the archbishop is the exclusive  privilege and the canonical right of the Holy Synod [of the Ecumenical  Patriarchate]. The Eparchial [American] Synod, as well as the Archdiocesan  Council, have an advisory opinion regarding the person of the archbishop to be  elected," reads Article 13 of the new charter.

Rejecting the demand of the US Church that the  archbishop must have served in America, the charter states it is enough for a  candidate to "have proven, direct substantive and broad knowledge of the life  and status of the church in America". In effect, the patriarchate is able to  elect any patriarchal hierarch to become archbishop of America.

Complaints

The Orthodox laity also complain that their demand for  a larger role in the administration of the archdiocese was ignored.

While the American metropolitan bishops satisfied  their longstanding demand to have their dioceses elevated to the more  prestigious rank of metropolitanate, they appeared to have little problem with  the fact that the administrative autonomy of the archdiocese was rejected out of  hand. The American delegation, led by bishops, registered no objections to a  draft of the charter similar to the one granted by the Phanar this month.

But the Archdiocesan Council, the key representative  organ of laypeople in the archdiocese, expressed reservations about the agreed  charter in November 2001 and again in May 2002. Proposed changes to the deal  reached between the Phanar and the American committee on the charter were voted  on at the July Clergy-Laity Conference in a special plenary session where  Archbishop Demetrios allowed extensive debate. That drew strong criticism from  the Phanar on the grounds that clergy-laity conferences are not authorised to  discuss dogmatic issues. But the most organised group of lay dissenters lobbying  for greater autonomy, an organisation called Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL),  thanked Demetrios "for his wisdom and courage in observing the true spirit of  the Congress".

"The clergy and laity were concerned that the  conciliar relationship that had existed for 80 years between hierarchy, clergy  and laity had been ruptured when the hierarchy decided to proceed on their own  in this important matter without regard to the existing charter [since 1977],  which requires all changes to the charter to emanate from the Congress," OCL  member Andrew Kartalis charged.

Demetrios - who had called all of the over 500  parishes to comment on the charter in spring 2002 - presented the reservations  of the American laity to the patriarchate in a memorandum supporting certain  modifications to the charter that had been agreed to by the US and patriarchal  committees. The points of contention involved the election of the archbishop,  the elevation of bishoprics to metropolitanates, the election of bishops and the  role of the laity.

Aiming for unity

To ensure the unity of the archdiocese, it was  proposed that the bishoprics retain that status and that the bishops themselves  be granted the honorific title of Metropolitan, which would allay fears that the  patriarchate was conducting a breakup of the archdiocese in a divide-and-rule  scheme. That proposal was rejected.

In an effort to preserve the unity of the archdiocese  to a degree, the new charter does stipulate that the archbishop "oversee and  coordinate" the work in the metropolitanates. But it is clear that in most  respects, the authority the metropolitans wield under the new charter within  their dioceses is equal to that exercised by the archbishop within the "direct  archdiocesan district" in the New York area.

In essence, ecclesiologically, it is clear that the  American metropolitans will serve as metropolitans of the Ecumenical Throne, and  not of the Archdiocese of America.



Still, the American Church's proposals that the new  charter recognise both the supervisory authority of the archbishop over the  metropolitans and the requirement that the latter submit an annual report to the  archdiocese were accepted. In yet another sign of the archbishop's authority  over the metropolitans, they will be required to gain the archdiocese's  permission to take their annual vacation outside their diocese.


The patriarchate  also honoured the key request submitted by the American laity and Demetrios that  the name of the archbishop be commemorated after that of the patriarch by the  metropolitans. The practice of praying for the archbishop - in addition to the  patriarch - during all church services was considered an important symbolic  confirmation of the unity of the archdiocese.

Published by Athens News
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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2003, 11:38:27 AM »

I see this as the EP trying to hold onto whatever power he has left.  Let's face it, Constantinople is irrelevant in today's Orthodoxy.  I think it comes to down money.  The GOA has a lot of cash, and without America, the EP loses his power.  Bartholomew is doing more to disgrace Orthodoxy than upholding it.
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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2003, 11:59:20 AM »

Quote
I see this as the EP trying to hold onto whatever power he has left.  Let's face it, Constantinople is irrelevant in today's Orthodoxy.  I think it comes down to money.  The GOA has a lot of cash, and without America, the EP loses his power.  Bartholomew is doing more to disgrace Orthodoxy than upholding it.

I second most of that, but other than bad ecclesiology from the Orthodox POV (setting up shop where another Orthodox church, in America's case the Russian, was first), I'm not sure about the last bit.
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2003, 02:12:32 PM »

[I think it comes to down money.  The GOA has a lot of cash, and without America, the EP loses his power.  Bartholomew is doing more to disgrace Orthodoxy than upholding it.]

You hit the nail right on the head!  There are only about 2,000 elderly Orthodox left in all of Turkey.  According to Turkish law a new Patriarch will have to be chosen from them since by Turkish law the Patriarch must be a national born Turkish citizen.  As long as the EP remains in Istanbul the Ecumenical Patriarchate will die within the next fifty years or sooner.  Instead of moving, the current EP's ego will not let him do so.  Instead, he would rather comprise the Orthodox Catholic faith or try have the outside world believe he is something he is not - which is the Spiritual LEADER of world Orthodoxy.  He's also looking for the EU to back him.  Ain't going to happen.  Nor is he ever going to gain control over the entire Orthodox Catholic Church here in America.  His Patriarchate would have already died monetarily if it wasn't for the GOA of America.
He seems to be too dense to realize that a united Orthodox Catholic Church here in America would have much more power and politcal clout and be to his benefit.

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« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2003, 02:39:02 PM »

Serge, what I meant was that Bartholomew likes to go around and pretend he is the Eastern 'Pope' when is not.
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« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2003, 03:16:22 PM »

Are there any fans of the EP here? We are all quite a diverse group of people here, from Heterodox to Ecumenical Orthodox to Extremists/Zealots and everything in between, and I don't think I've seen anyone claim to be a fan of the EP. I thought it'd be interesting to ask to see if that is so.
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« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2003, 04:26:29 PM »

Are there any fans of the EP here? We are all quite a diverse group of people here, from Heterodox to Ecumenical Orthodox to Extremists/Zealots and everything in between, and I don't think I've seen anyone claim to be a fan of the EP. I thought it'd be interesting to ask to see if that is so.


I am not a fan of the EP.  He needs to go back and learn about humility, the beginning of all virtues.
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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2003, 05:22:08 PM »

I think that is not only a problem of US but this happens also with Australia, Asia and Africa.
In fact our beloved Lord must be very dissapointed of what we, His students, have made to His church.
The real problem started about 300 years AD, where politicians crown the power of Christianism and decided to make it the official religion.
This, in the beggining, was very good, because paused the pogrom of Christians, and they accepted it with enthusiasm.
But it was also a BIG chapter "Relationship between State and Church".
In most Churches and most Christian countriew this problem still exists and is always open.
Also another problem born from this one. The church and the clergy started to flirt with cosmic power and glory.
Our beloved Orthodox church is still paying this flirt.
Nowadays from official clergy, we mostly hear about the power, the force and the sphere of influence of each church than words like contriteness, mortification, pray, sanctification.
Since 323 until now, many things change to the world history, but the organisation of the church still remain according to the vested interests of some churches and mostly for the EP.
We need an Ecumenical Synod, as the problems of 1204 and 1453 have already passed (we are one country now with the conquistadors of Constantinople) and in Constantinople is impossible to raise again Orthodoxy (I have vissited twice last year and I have figure a very good point in this) and also since then America have discovered and Australia also, and the industrial revolution, and marxism, and communism, and high tech revolution, and cloning and much more, and the churches are leeping and when they are talking they are talking only about who is first among other Patriarchs and if this area belongs to the one diocess or the other and other rediculous problems, which are problems only for the clergy and not for the real Church.
The real Church is the body of Jesus. And the body of Jesus are all of us, anyone we meet everyday and don't meet everyday, from any nationality or from any diocess. I am sorry, but I deny to be a part of rediculous churches (only nominal churches) and I prefer to be a part of Jesus body.
I consider Skopians, and Albans, and and Boulgars and anyone else like my brothers. I don't care if they are Orthodox Russians of diaspora or Egyptian Kopts or Armenians or Orthodox Skopians or Orthodox Africans or Ukranians or Georgians or Americans. We are all brothers, we are all worth the same value for our Lord and our Master.
We have to find a way to return to the great concept of Jesus and to return to Him as he is the road and the path and He will help us to this.

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« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2003, 07:44:46 PM »

I believe that the Ecumenical Patriarch did right when it defended the integrity of the Church. If he had given "authonomy" to the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States, it would have been a tragedy to see that even those who were part of the Constantinople Patriarchate want to get rid of it, specially now when the other Patriarchates have no respect for the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

This decission by the Ecumenical Patriarchate is also good to stop liberals who want to create an "American Patriarchate". Supporters of the "American Patriarchate" now say that the decission of the EP against the authonomy of the G.O. Archdiocese was "against the unity of the Orthodox people in America" and that the EP doesn't want "Orthodox people to be together", etc. but it was in fact to preserve unity in the Orthodox Church (or some unity). Just remember that after the retirement of Metropolitan Theodosius, some groups wanted to name the Greek Metropolitan as primate of the OCA so that he could act as a Patriarch of all the Continent. If he had accepted that, it would have been an act of schism (ironic, an act of schism to bring unity, wow!). And an American Patriarchate would contribute to the americanization of the Church and the Church would loose tides with the Mother Church of Constantinople (which would be nothing but a symbol of the past) and the other Churches in Europe.
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« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2003, 03:34:43 PM »

{I believe that the Ecumenical Patriarch did right when it defended the integrity of the Church. If he had given "authonomy" to the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States, it would have been a tragedy to see that even those who were part of the Constantinople Patriarchate want to get rid of it, specially now when the other Patriarchates have no respect for the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.}

Remie:  From your posts both here and elsewhere, you seem to have a wrong concept of just how the Ecumenical Patriarch fits in world wide Orthodox Catholicity.  You kind of envision him as somehow the Orthodox version of the Pope.  He is nothing of the kind. Never was and never can be.  He is 'First AMONGST EQUALS'  which is a primacy of honor with LIMITED AUTHORITY. This tite gives him the authority to call the Orthodox Hierachy together in council and preside over that council in a presidential capacity.  However, within that council HE HAS ONLY ONE VOTE  the same as any other  Orthodox Catholic bishop present.  He cannot override any majority vote decisions made during that council.

Contrary to western press releases HE IS NOT THE SPIRITUAL LEADER OF WORLD ORTHODOXY. Because, other than calling a council and presiding over said council, he has no other authority which gives him the right to interfere in the affairs of other autocephalous churches.  He must abide by the same canons  that restrict one Bishop interfering in the administrative decisions of a brother bishop regarding his flock.  Read the The Apostolical Canons.

 Are you aware of the following facts regarding the present situation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate?

Fact 1:  The Ecumenical Patriarch must, according to Turkish law be a natural born Turkish citizen.  Currently there are only about 2000 Orthodox left in all of  Turkey.  The vast majority of who are of middle age or older.  Add to the equasion the fact that the next Patriarch will also have to be a celibate monk, its hard to believe there are many qualified monastics left to  fit the requirements to preside over the Church when the present one is no longer with us.  And the statistics will only get worse and smaller in each year. If the statistics are such now, what do you think they will be ten years fro now?

Fact2:  Once chosen, the Ecumeical Patriarch must be approved by the Muslim Turkish government before he can be consecrated.  Which means that the leader of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is, in essence, chosen by a fanatical Muslim government.  The present Ecumenical Patriarch was not the first choice by the synod of bishops at the last election.  He was, therfore, chosen by the Turkish government since the original choice was rejected.

As long as the EP remains in Turkey those restrictions will remain.  Apparently the EP would rather compromise Orthodoxy rather than leave.  I for one, do not want the church in America to be under control of a hostile non Christian foreign power.  And, especially by a dying Patriarchate.

if he was smart he would realize that a united Orthodox Church here in the US would be able to offer better financal and political support.



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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2003, 06:55:43 PM »

Yea the situation of the Ecvumenical Patriarchate now is very unfortunate and sad. I had the opportunity to meet a Turkish-Orthodox person, who informed me about the disastrous state of the Church in Turkey. However, the Turkish government is not a fanatical muslim government but a fanatical secular fascist "democracy" supported by the western nations, the IMF, the WTO, and so on. It is sad that World Orthodoxy has remained silent about the oppression against Orthodox in Turkey, but given the support given by the USA and other the Western governments to the Turkish regime, it is understandable. And this is quite unfortunate, because there are also a lot of non-hellenic Turks who would be happy to meet Christ by through the Orthodox Church, which uses Turkish as well as Greek in the liturgy.
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