I deleted my offensive post from several pages ago. I was an ass and offensive, and I apologize without any reservations. Please forgive me, any whom I offended.
Now, on to this comment:
The best solution would be to get rid of parish councils and allow the Bishops to more directly manage the affairs and money of the parishes under his omophorion, but until we can solve the greater problem of parish councils there are temporary solutions to the problem of underpaid clergy in every Jurisdiction.
I am unfamiliar with how Orthodox parish councils work, their actual authority, etc.
However, I would be cautious about granting too much power to the bishops over the parishes by destroying the ability of parishes to govern a themselves. It is not a complete solution, and it can lead to very real other problems.
Allow me to illustrate with my own experience. I am Roman Catholic, and bishops in my Church have ultimate power over the parishes within their jurisdiction. Now, there is a shortage of priests in the U.S. in the Catholic Church. Thus, there are too many parishes for the existing and projected number of priests. What to do?
Some bishops have required priests to serve more than one parish. This can work reasonably well if the parishes are small, if they are geographically close to each other, and if the priest has to cover no more than two or three parishes. However, priests in some diocese (in Ohio and Iowa, for example) are responsible for up to six parishes ! Unsurprisingly, this leads to priests becoming fatigued or exhausted, and the people are not being effectively pastored.
Other bishops have imported priests from other countries to supplement their domestic priests. This can work. It can also lead to problems when the priests have cultural attitudes (particularly about the roles of women) that are not consistent with American attitudes about the equality of women with men. Moreover, this policy is at best a stop-gap measure because it fails to solve the root issue: Catholic men in America are generally refusing to become priests.
Other bishops have closed parishes so that the number of parishes is equal to the existing and projected number of priests. On the one hand, this solution can be effective. It avoids the exhaustion of priests from constant traveling to other parishes and repeating the same services. On the other hand, it has two serious negative consequences. One is that the resulting parishes are large and often impersonal. Second, viable Christian communities (small parishes) are often the first targets of closure. Yes, some of them are small because they are the elderly remnants of a once Catholic population that has since moved away; yes, others are small because they are rural and they were founded when people could not drive but instead had to walk or use an animal to get to church. In other words, many of the smaller parishes that are closed are deemed "superfluous" due to shifting demographics and the widespread use of cars in America. Nevertheless, some of these parishes are / were not dying: they had families and plenty of money and so on. They are / were closed because there are not enough priests. Having been a member of such a small, viable but "superfluous" parish that was closed, I can tell you from personal experience that it is very painful for a living community to be closed simply at the order of the bishop --and not being to a thing about it.
Finally, other bishops have allowed parishes to remain open even if there are not enough priests. This solution allows viable communities ((parishes) to remain alive. However, there are still not enough priests. Hence, priests can only come to the parish occasionally. Thus, communion services are substituted for Mass / Divine Liturgy. That produces two problems. First, a communion service is not the same as Mass / Divine Liturgy. Second, however, is that the communion services are usually performed by married laity / deacons or by nuns. This naturally gets people to wondering: Why don't we (the Catholic Church) just allow married priests and women priests? Both ideas are anathema under the governance of the last and the present bishops of Rome. Hence, some bishops do not want to purse this option for fear of stimulating their people to ask prohibited questions.
In my opinion, there is no perfect solution -- except to inspire more Catholic men to love Jesus Christ enough to give up everything which the world offers in order to serve Him. Married priests (outside of the Eastern / Uniate rites) is not a realistic option under the current pope, and women priests are simply not an option in the Catholic Church. Instead, a combination of the four solutions mentioned above appears to be needed till more Catholic men can be inspired to join the Catholic priesthood.
Yet, there are three valuable lesson here for this discussion.
In the Catholic Church, it is the bishops who have the ultimate authority to decide the matters of whether a parish will exist and whether a parish will have a priest. For all the lovely talk about the laity in Vatican II, it amounts to nothing in terms of practical power. However, based upon what I have read here, it seems that the laity in the Orthodox Church have at least some real power, to balance the power of their bishops, which they can use to preserve the existence of their parishes and have a say in who will be their priest. Is this accurate? If so, it would seem to me that the power of Orthodox laity is significant and valuable.
Also, I have read several comments on this thread that parish councils have too much power over their priests which they express by being cheap in their compensation of their priests. I have a related question. Do Orthodox parish councils try to influence their parish priests --especially in the content of their preaching and ministry-- by the threat (implied or otherwise) of reducing compensation or firing their priests? I have heard of this happening occasionally with Protestant churches, but I am honestly ignorant about Orthodox parishes.
Finally, I am curious: is there a shortage of priests in the jurisdictions (Greek, OCA, etc.) of the Orthodox churches in America? It appears, from this discussion, that there is not a shortage because it appears that Orthodox men are willing to become priests even if they must work second jobs to support themselves and their families. If there is not a shortage of Orthodox priests: why (in your opinion) are your men willing to become priests but Catholic men are refusing to become priests?
Thank you for any responses.