Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Antiochian Archdiocese: It's getting ugly

I am not under the Antiochian jurisdiction. As such I am profoundly reluctant to throw stones in what some might argue is not my fight. However I AM an Orthodox Christian who cares deeply about the Church as a whole. And I recognize that more than any other jurisdiction excepting perhaps the OCA; the Antiochian Archdiocese has been and is going to continue to be an integral part of what will eventually be a unified local North American Orthodox Church. Thus while the scandal now gripping it affects all Orthodox everywhere, it is felt most keenly here in the United States.

When a close personal friend and honorary Trustee of the Archdiocese sends vulgar and menacing emails on your behalf to Orthodox laymen, clergy and even bishops, that's not what I would call a good character reference. When said Trustee is also a gentleman with well documented connections to large scale narcotics and weapons trafficking then it is time for serious questions to be asked. And this time executive privilege will not fly. I don't care that Met. +Phillip is a Metropolitan. I frankly would not care if he were the Patriarch. Extremely serious allegations have been made and silence, under whatever pretext, is not an acceptable response.

The details of the most recent chapter in the ongoing scandal in the Antiochian Archdiocese (AOANA) are up over at and also the Ochlophobist has more on Metropolitan +Phillip's latest champion, Walid Khalife. The situation is starting to sound like an episode of the Sopranos with critics of the Metropolitan receiving very threatening communications from a man with simultaneously close ties to +Phillip and organized crime. I am not going to rehash the details of what has been posted at the two linked sites. But I do strongly recommend reading both posts.

So where are we? We have a Metropolitan who has refused an independent audit of the Archdiocese's funds since forever, who has been living a lavish lifestyle, who has been implicated in the forging of Patriarchal documents, whose supporters have used wholly deceptive means in an attempt to subvert the canons of the Church and reduce in dignity lawfully elected and installed diocesan bishops, whose supporters have further been implicated in the forging of Synodal and Patriarchal documents already alluded to, and who now has mobbed up "Trustees" trying to muscle his critics.


Metropolitan +Phillip has been accused of things that in another day and age would have seen a bishop run out of town one step ahead of the angry crowd with pitchforks and torches. The Metropolitan must summon an emergency and open meeting of the Archdiocesan Synod and answer these (among many other) allegations for as long as it takes to satisfy everyone that he is and has been on the up and up. A forensic audit of the AOANA’s finances must be conducted. The ranks of its Trustees, honorary or otherwise, must be purged of gangsters and persons of similarly questionable backgrounds.

If he can not do this then he has forfeited any claim to obedience that might enjoin the other bishops and clergy in the AOANA. If he defies the faithful of the Antiochian Archdiocese and refuses to answer these very serious charges the bishops and clergy of the AOANA should cease to commemorate him and demand that he be deposed. The offense of forging Patriarchal and Synodal documents alone warrants excommunication.


Anonymous said...

Barely on topic - John, have you had to disallow any comments? Bill aka The Godfather

Anonymous said...

All this over the wording of imprecise documents vaguely expressing a (new) policy regarding the internal workings of the American Antiochian College of Bishops. Wow!

Do we have some concrete, rubber-meets-road dispute underlying all these machinations? Or is all this, at present, at the level of abstract policy? I mean, at least the recent unpleasantness in the OCA was actually about real money, etc.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Not on this post. I very rarely delete comments unless they egregiously violate my commenting policy. I have deleted a handful over the years. Most were spam. Only a few were really over the top posts that I could not let stand.


John (Ad Orientem) said...

Death Bredon,
The evidence that bad things are going on at the top of the AOANA has been piling up for a while. I would encourage you to read some of the back posts over at and also the Ochlophobist's recent post "ANAXIOS" which is a fairly detailed indictment.

That said I don't believe in convicting without giving the accused the opportunity to defend themselves.

The evidence suggests a prolonged period of abuse of power and corruption at the top of the AOANA. But I really hope that Met +Phillip will open up and refute these accusations. The problem is that with each new round of revelations or evidence against him, he seems to dig his heels in deeper.


The Anti-Gnostic said...

Death Bredon,

Allegedly, this was all precipitated when a convert bishop, +Mark, attempted to end some longstanding and questionable practices in his heavily old country diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. I will leave the details to those who know them.

The allegation, which I have never seen refuted, is that +Philip wants to re-assign or perhaps even depose +Mark, so his colleagues in Toledo/Midwest can continue their current practices. This is, to my reading, the only scenario that explains current events. For his part, +Philip insists that this "clarification" of hierarchical structure of metropolitan and auxiliaries is necessary to prevent schism in the North American Archdiocese and regularlize liturgical practice. Nobody seems to know what this schism or divide is. Furthermore, +Philip's current position is a complete reversal of his prior arguments for self-rule and a diocesan structure.

To my observation, this is not a cradle/convert issue. Many good Arab sons and daughters of the Church are furious at the purported demotion of their enthroned bishops.

DNY said...

I am under Antioch, and I agree with everything you have written, with a small caveat: presenting fraudulent documents as representing a decision of the Holy Synod warrants deposition if a cleric, excommunication if a layman.

Let's not imitate Met. Philip's cavalier and self-serving approach to the canons--no double punishments of deposition and excommunication.