Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another forthcoming election

Bishop Hilarion (Alfeeyev) of Vienna

The OCA must soon begin the process of electing a replacement for Metropolitan Herman who recently retired under a cloud. As it has become clear that there are not many members of the Holy Synod who have not been in one way or another touched by the recent scandals in the central administration there has been more than a passing discussion of looking outside the OCA for our next primate. Among the names being prominantly mentioned are Met. Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese and Bishop Basil, also of the AA.

But the name that I think is currently causing the most buzz is Bishop Hilarion (Alfeeyev) of the Russian Orthodox Church. The bishop is well known and highly respected both in the Orthodox world and among other Christian confessions. He is considered by some to be a bit of a heavy weight and has been endorsed by a number of OCA clergy including notably Fr. Thomas Hopko (Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir's Seminary). However, I am wondering at practical issues like getting the consent both of Bishop Hilarion and also the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church whch I believe would have to release him. Alas I am not sufficiently up-to-date on church politics to be able to handicap this election. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can comment on where things stand.


Anonymous said...

If it were possible for His Grace Bishop Hilarion to come over to the OCA, and he accepted the post of Metropolitan, would the OCA Americanize him or would His Grace Russify the OCA?

Ad Orientem said...

I think that is the 65,000 ruble question. Of course it's worth remembering that the OCA has its roots in the Russian Church and where there are those slight differences between the Russian and Greek customs we normally follow the Slavic forms.

One notable exception of course is the calendar. Except for the diocese of Alaska, the OCA is on the new calendar while the Russian Church follows the traditional church calendar.

Visibilium said...

Pardon my philistinism, but I'd like to see a Slavic jurisdiction headed by someone who can manage money successfully. My cursory view is that Bp. Hilarion's strength is theology, and I'm not aware that the OCA is a theological outlier in need of another theologian. On the other hand, the OCA is a financial basket case and would be better served by a Greek or Antiochian or someone else with a proven history of financial success.

Ad Orientem said...

I think you are describing the Chancellor's job.


Visibilium said...

John, my overly-brief manner of expression is at fault. I'm referring to the setting of the tone and vision, not the day-to-day execution of that vision. Someone who has a keen practical appreciation of multiplied talents would be a welcome change.

Visibilium said...


Well, if we get away from my personal preferences, which are totally irrelevant anyway, Bp. Hilarion as OCA Met. would be a brilliant maneuver for Moscow. It would lead to the eventual absorption of the ROCOR into the OCA and would solidify the Russian presence in an affluent America.

Bp. Hilarion is a charismatic figure, and he'd be both vocal and popular amongst Christians in America. Plus, he has cred with the Vatican owing to his leadership in Moscow's ecumenical efforts.

Moscow has always been interested foremost in leading world Orthodoxy and has long chafed at playing second fiddle to a theologically questionable prisoner in Turkey. To accomplish this aim, Moscow has used the ROC as a transmission channel for Russian culture in the diaspora. Solidifying the Russian presence in America would suit its aim quite nicely.