Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Met. Jonah to Constantinople: Back Off

In what was certainly a response to the incendiary (and IMO insulting) comments by Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis who recently opined that the time has come for all Orthodox Americans to "submit" to the authority of the "First Throne," Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America addressed the issue of Orthodox unity. In his sermon at a Pan-Orthodox service in Dallas he picked up the glove thrown down by the Ecumenical Patriarch's representative and delivered a frank reply that is likely going to provoke much discussion and debate.

"To the bishops of the old world, there is an American Orthodox Church. Leave it alone."

For what it's worth, I wholeheartedly concur. I think its time to say some things which have been needing to be said for a while. There are several primary reasons behind the scandalously uncanonical jurisdictionalism here in North America. And none of them are good.

1. Money: North America is a cash cow for financially strapped churches in the old country.

2. Phyletism and extreme ethnocentrism: We can have Orthodox unity without sacrificing legitimate pride in our respective ethnic backgrounds, which will undoubtedly be reflected at the parish level. But we can’t have unity when ethnicity precedes, or is confused with, Orthodoxy. And there is still way too much of that out there.

3. Church politics: I for one am tired of seeing North American Orthodox Christians used like pieces on a chess board by the various old world churches, most of which are either joined at the hip with a national government or under the thumb of a hostile one. And the politics are not confined to the old world either. One need only look at some of the problems in recent years which have plagued all three of the major Orthodox jurisdictions in America (the Greek Archdiocese, the OCA and most recently the Antiochians) to see this. It’s time for a few bishops to get over themselves, and get on with the business of Christ’s Church in America.

Given the history of Orthodoxy in North America (which precedes the establishment of the Greek Archdiocese by roughly 130 years) the claims of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are risible. I am not naïve enough to expect that all of the bishops in the sister churches here in North America are just going to run off and join the OCA. Whatever form the American Orthodox Church eventually takes it will undoubtedly be a bit different than the OCA. But it is time, indeed well past time, to get this ball rolling.

And with due respect to His All Holiness; it is also time to stop trying to play Pope. As His Beatitude noted, if we wanted a Pope we would be under the real one. And the way Bart has been cozying up to the Vatican of late, if we do wind up under the EP that may just be a short prelude to winding up under the real Pope anyways.

Hat Tip: Father David


Chris Jones said...


This was an interesting note that had not occurred to me: the way Bart has been cozying up to the Vatican of late, if we do wind up under the EP that may just be a short prelude to winding up under the real Pope anyways.

If one is going to be a Roman Catholic, it's more straightforward to just show up at your local RC parish, than to take the long way around through Constantinople.

orrologion said...

While it is true that there were ethnic Greeks (presumably Orthodox) that arrived in the New World prior to St. Herman and the mission from Valaam, I don't believe they brought a priest with them - as neither did the Russians (presumably Orthodox) in Alaska prior to the Valaam mission. There was a Greek Orthodox religious community in New Orleans at an early date, but the terms used to describe it don't make it clear whether they had a priest, whether anyone back home knew about it, whether they were under a bishop of a Synod of bishops, etc.

It is clear that the Russians had bishops here prior to anyone else, and a great number of parishes, not all Russian or Slavic. That seems rather convincing for a continent-wide authority. (Mexico and Latin America, generally, do not seem to be a part of this).

An especially gall inducing position comes from the Metropolitan of Boston, Methodios, who has broken communion with the OCA in New England. He did so because the OCA had the gall to appoint a bishop in a city where there was already a canonical bishop. I would love to see a history of bishops and the extent of their jurisdiction (parishes, episcopal visits, sees) from Valaam through WWII to see who had the temerity to establish bishoprics where there were already bishops. I think Met. Methodios may be surprised at the history of his own see in Boston.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the patriarch of "Constantinople" have jurisdiction over Atlantis?

rightwingprof said...

As he is the spiritual head of my church, I have been patiently reserving judgment of Metropolitan Jonah. I can now say, however, that I am officially the President of the International Metropolitan Jonah Fan Club.

Anonymous said...

anaxios. met. jonah's words were immature, uniformed and insulting. he isn't going to get anywhere.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

Just an observation, John. You sometimes comment on Rorate Caeli anyway :-)

Once there are more US Orthodox cathedrals with daily (and complete) services and more monasteries that follow the complete Typikon, perhaps the "old world" Churches will listen.

One thing that strikes me as a Trad Catholic observer is the way that everyone keeps talking about canonical and administrative unity for Orthodoxy in America, but there seems to be little interest in intensifying the liturgical life in Orthodox cathedrals and parishes, most of which are open only on weekends. And from all indications, theological and liturgical modernism is beginning to creep into OCA and GOA.

Monasticism is strongest in ROCOR, which will probably split again from the MP rather than recognize the autocephaly of the OCA (which is a different issue from concelebration). It is next strongest in GOA, and do you really think they'll go under Syosset?

Chris Jones said...

It is not a question of going "under Syosset," and no one (certainly not Metr Jonah) is suggesting that. Metr Jonah is proposing that the bishops of all jurisdictions meet as a Synod. If that Synod were to "declare autocephaly" and elect a Primate, there is certainly no guarantee that Metr Jonah would be the one chosen. And the result would not be going "under Syosset", but an entirely new administrative entity, which would ultimately replace the OCA (and GOA, and AOA, and ROCOR, etc).

Of course Metr Jonah, as outspoken as he is in this sermon, does not say right out loud that he wants such a Synod to "declare autocephaly." But that is the clear implication of his words. And it is the way that autocephaly has happened in Orthodoxy historically (at least in the last thousand years or so). Autocephaly is not granted, it is taken; and then grudgingly acknowledged by the mother Church.

rightwingprof said...

Monasticism stronger under the GOA? Liturgical modernism in the OCA? Where do you get this information?

orrologion said...

Elder Ephrem's monasteries are definitely where the growth and strength in North American monasticism is at the moment; very dynamic and growing quickly. There are more monasteries in other jurisdictions, but they are usually quite small and growing slowly, if at all; not as dynamic. Of course, dynamism is not itself the primary criteria, so...

Liturgical modernism in the OCA? New Skete. St. Vlad's also regularly serves 'differently' depending on whether bishops are present or not - or so I have been told by many a seminarian over the years.

It also depends on what is meant by modernism. Some 'modernism' is simply adopting Greek practices or continuing older Carpatho-Rusyn or old immigrant/frontier practices that developed due to lack of everything (priests, buildings, materials, time, money, books, the proper texts, etc.) Other reforms have been suggested by academics and put in practice in different ways around the OCA - some are based on faulty history since proven wrong, some simply think their own thoughts regarding what the 'real', ancient practice should be and resurrect it in their parishes. Of course, the New Calendar is also seen to be 'modernism' by many, and not just schismatic Old Calendarists.

Would communing of Copts, Ethiopians, Eritreans and Armenians be liturgical modernism or something else?

rightwingprof said...

New Skete is New Skete, with no influence whatsoever, and is, I submit, what happens when you allow hippie Roman Catholics into the Church without closer examination. Your statements about St Vlad's are erroneous. Since nearly all Orthodoxy now uses the Revised Julian Calendar, that's a pretty lame attempt, and given that the only things I have seen I would call modernism (organs, pews), not to mention abuse (Hellenistic groups named after pagan deities in GOA parishes) have been in primarily Greek parishes, certainly not OCA parishes, try again.

I have never heard of OCA priests communing non-Chalcedonian Orthodox. I can perhaps see Antiochians doing it. OCA? Probably not. Then, there's been a lot of slander lately, some of the most hateful and stupid being the charge that Antiochian priests commune Muslims. Ridiculous. No Muslim would commune in the first place, and certainly, no Antiochian priest I know would commune a Muslim.

Or a Roman Catholic.

Though I'm curious. Why is a Roman Catholic even vaguely interested, and what, exactly, do you get out of tearing down the OCA?

orrologion said...

I'm not Roman Catholic, I'm Orthodox in the OCA and GOA. I am also not making a case as much as noting what people may consider modernism - I also noted 'modernism' is in the eye of the beholder and should be defined. The majority of Orthodox Christians are on the Julian Calendar; the majority of local churches is on the New Calendar - this is still seen as 'modernism' by most Orthodox worldwide. Some of the things you say were patently wrong I have experienced personally (Copts communed in the OCA), and have been told by many with personal experience (SVOTS). Take it all for what you will.

rightwingprof said...

I take it for crap, as I do all slanderous tales that cannot be backed. And please, do give us more information about these stealth modernisms that are being slipped into the liturgy, so we can be on guard against them!

I'll worry about modernism in the OCA when the Greeks purge all of their pagan Hellenism. Of the two, the latter is far worse.

orrologion said...

While agreeing with you regarding nationalism in the GOA, I don't believe that gives the OCA a free pass. I have personally witnessed Copts being communed in an OCA parish and was told by the priest that Met. Herman approved it. I have reliable second hand accounts of the same going on elsewhere in the OCA (specifically, in Canada). The argument goes that they are, in fact, Orthodox based on recent studies, but the official details haven't been worked out. Above my pay grade. The truth is it happens. The same also happens regularly in the GOA and AOCA, I have been told - not across the board, but it happens more than rarely.

I'm not warning you about anything, merely fleshing out what many/some others see as modernism. Things may be quite different in Central PA, so take what I'm saying as no more than rumblings waiting for confirmation one way or the other in the future.

Don't shoot the messenger. I pray I am wrong, too.

rightwingprof said...

You'll have to excuse me. I'm quitting smoking after 50 years.

I'm not even a little concerned about *nationalism.* It's the blatant *paganism* that sends cold chills up my spine. And sure, ACROD is still purging Latinisms, thanks in large part to the OCA, who took in many Rusyns, and who has been a good friend locally to ACROD over the years (this is the center of Rusyn America). The fact that there are still a few modernisms in ACROD isn't a sign that modernism is slipping in, since ACROD has been purging themselves of them over the years. Actually, you could say the same about the Byzantine Catholics, the Rusyns who didn't become Orthodox but tenaciously clung to their liturgies and traditions. They have been purging Latinisms, many of them the same, as have ACROD.

The EO-OO split isn't nearly as simple as most make it. The Patriarch of Antioch is officially in communion with one of the two non-Chalcedonian Antiochian churches (forget which, and no, I have no idea why there are two), and that muddies the waters for us here (though not so much the OCA), since it implies intercommunion between all EO and OO churches. At any rate, I'm far less worried about that -- the OO churches are about as Orthodox as it gets -- than I am other things. And again, when I see "inclusive" language or liturgical dancing in my parish, I'll get up in arms about creeping modernism. Until then, not so much.

AMM said...

And sure, ACROD is still purging Latinisms, thanks in large part to the OCA, who took in many Rusyns, and who has been a good friend locally to ACROD over the years

I can say as a member of ACROD, I have no idea what you're talking about.

I can also say as a member of ACROD that a good deal of what Metropolitan Jonah was saying (from the pulpit no less) was exaggerated and untrue let alone outright insulting.

Very, very sad.

James the Thickheaded said...

I don't want to join the argument... really. But let me just note that the tone here is all the converts policing who is and who is not Orthodox enough. Is that conforming to type or what?

FWIW, I think we are likely to be what we are... and that "maturity" takes time. Will it ever be enough for Istanbul? Probably not. I have heard Greek priests I love and respect DIS that Russian church... not based on recent rebirth...but PERIOD... as simply a bunch of newbies. Americans need to not ape what others say.. that's gossip. We need to go on the basis of what we observe for ourselves.
I think the whole is chicken AND the egg rather than OR the egg... but that's another matter.

I like the reference to the EP as Bart-not-Simpson. Maybe Met. Jonah just wants to throttle him like Homer... I'm sure the Turks would help. But I am a Jonah Fan, too.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Hmmmm. It appears I need to plan my down days better. I think this is a good time to point all concerned to the guidelines for posting comments which can be found linked in the sidebar on the main page of the blog.

That said the OCA has had its share of problems, as have the Greeks and the Ants. No one's hands are clean. I think the OCA has done some work on cleaning up the problems that really were quite serious at St. Vlads. The subject of inter communion with non-Chalcedonians is a touchy one. I have heard of it being informally sanctioned among the Ants. Within the GOA and the OCA I think such incidents wold be called aberrations.

The person whose post provoked this discussion (Carlos Palad) is Roman Catholic and one of the moderators of the RC Traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli. He is well informed on matters pertaining to Orthodoxy and although not a member of the club has always been very even handed in his treatment of Catholic-Orthodox issues.

I think some of his concerns are issues that have plagued the Orthodox Church in the past and are slowly being remedied. I see modernism as diminishing here and not rising. But of course there are still problem areas. When has the Church ever been without them?

If we are expected to wait until all our bishops are saints and ever parish does the full cycle of services before establishing independence we will still be waiting at the 2nd Coming. Still I find more encouraging in recent years than discouraging.

Under the mercy,

rightwingprof said...

"I can also say as a member of ACROD that a good deal of what Metropolitan Jonah was saying (from the pulpit no less) was exaggerated and untrue let alone outright insulting."

No doubt it was insulting for a lickspittle.

"Very, very sad."

Yes, you are. Truly sad. Then, all lickspittles are.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Rightwingprof (& all),
Please read the guidelines for posting linked in the sidebar of the main page. Ad Hominum attacks are a no no on this blog. Please restrict your comments to the issues and subject of the post. Debate vigorously but not personally.

Under the mercy,

AMM said...

Insults aside, I'm curious how what the Metropolitan said lines up with the experience of the Slavic churches under the Omophorion of Constantinople in this country.

Vir Speluncae Orthodoxae said...

I see I got to this dance too late.

Rightwingprof: Fr. George Shaloub and the rest of the old guard in Detroit who also teach the Stephen's course (which I'm told from those who have taken that it's a mess) have openly told seminarians that muslim women who marry an Orthodox man can commune without being baptzed, and muslims frequently do in Detroit. I don't think those former seminarians now priests would lie about that.

But I too am a Met. Jonah fan club member.