Monday, November 17, 2008

Episcopacy, Primacy, and the Mother Churches: A Monastic Perspective

A Paper delivered at the Conference of the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius,
St Vladimir’s Seminary, June 4–8, 2008

Abbot Jonah

A prominent orthodox theologian has remarked that he thinks bishops have become useless. And he is only echoing a widespread and long-standing sentiment in our tradition. This is clear evidence of a crisis of episcopal leadership and primacy in the Church, a crisis that cuts to the heart of the apostolic and catholic identity of the Church.

While most of the problems I will address in this paper are specific to the extraordinary situation of Orthodoxy in America, they have broader application because they reveal the crisis of primacy on the ecumenical level. (And I use “ecumenical” to refer to the oikumene – the whole Orthodox Catholic Church). They also reveal the challenge to the Church’s organization and ecclesiology posed by the new political and cultural realities of the third millennium.

A fascinating essay from our new Metropolitan. I still can't believe he used to be an Episcopalian! Would anyone care to compare this with any of the writings of Ms. Schori (the Presiding Bishopess of the Episcopal Church)?

The ecclesiological issues addressed here are weighty, and this essay written by one now elevated to the First See of the Orthodox Church in America should be read by any concerned with the jurisdictional chaos in the modern Orthodox Church.

Read the entire essay.

Hat tip to Bill (aka the Godfather).


Steve Hayes said...

The Episcopalians are no longer episcopal but managing directorial.

The Orthodox Church may have bad bishops, but it still has episcopacy. Bad bishops will pass.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I think the bad bishops are already passing.


Anonymous said...

You can also listen to him reading the paper here:

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Thank you for that link.


Anonymous said...

I have never had the pleasure and honor of meeting ++Jonah in person. But, I have several friends --Orthodox, Protestant, all stripes -- who have. And they uniformly report that he has the gift (chrism) of discernment.

Which is why he probably WAS an Episcopalian but is no more!

Axios, Many Years!

Anonymous said...

Somewhat tangential to this discussion, but for those who are interesting in learning more about the new metropolitan, I believe ++Jonah has a 5 part interview on Ancient Faith Radio's 'Our life in Christ' available for podcast download here:

check April 2007.

Why the broadside against Episcopalians? How many Orthodox converts have come from the UCC or the Unitarian-Universalists, for example? I think the number of prominent ex-Anglican converts to one of the Orthodox churches is fairly significant. One could view this in a positive light, in that the anglican tradition is a good preparation for those ready for the fullness of the faith.

Xronias polla, ++Jonah!

- Steve