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Posts Tagged 'Patriarch of Antioch'



New Jersey: “It was necessary to normalize the status of all bishops across the See of Antioch”

This gets less and less clear the more Met. PHILIP attempts to explain.

From Antiochian.org, in response to a letter sent by the Council of Presbyters of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:

Beloved in Christ,

Greetings and Blessings to you during this holy season of The Great Fast!

We have received and reviewed your letter dated March 17th, 2009 in which you pose fifteen questions related to the February 24th, 2009 decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch regarding the status of all bishops across the Holy See of Antioch. We will try our best to answer these questions as follows:

1. Are there any other diocesan bishops, outside our Archdiocese, that are affected by the Holy Synod’s decision?

Answer: Yes. In the Patriarchate there are three bishops, the Bishop of Saydnaya, the Bishop of Qatana, and the Patriarchal Vicar. In addition, the Archdiocese of Akkar had the Bishop of Tartous and the Bishop of Marmarita & Al Hosn. The Bishop of Marmarita & Al Hosn was elected as Metropolitan for the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe. The Bishop of Tartous was elected to succeed Metropolitan Paul Bendali in the Archdiocese of Akkar. He refused to have either diocesan or auxiliary bishops in his Archdiocese at this time.

2. There seems to be differences in tone and meaning between the Arabic original and the English translations of Articles 77 and 78. Can these be clarified?

Answer: The English translation was my best effort. If someone can produce a more accurate translation, this would be most welcome.

3. What were the intentions of the Holy Synod in formulating these amendments?

Answer: The intention was to have good order and consistency throughout the Holy See of Antioch by normalizing the status of all bishops.

4. Is the Pittsburgh Constitution binding, since it was duly approved and implemented by the legally binding decision made at special Archdiocesan Convention of July 2004?

Answer: The constitution is binding to the extent that it is consistent with the decisions of the Holy Synod of Antioch, which is the highest authority in the Church of Antioch. The Holy Synod has the prerogative to modify any decision that it had previously approved.

5. Since official Archdiocesan documents state that the provisions for self-rule, including those pertaining to the local synod of the Archdiocese, are irrevocable, as witnessed both by the Pittsburgh Constitution and the Patriarchal version of October 15, 2004, how can they be overturned by amendment of the Patriarchal by-laws?

Answer: We can find no language in any Constitution, or the original decision of the Holy Synod dated October 10, 2003 which indicates that the provisions of any constitution or by-laws are irrevocable.

6. Given that the granting of self-rule required that the Patriarchal Constitution be amended to reflect the self-ruled status of the North American Archdiocese, and that this constitution governs its by-laws, not vice versa, how could the Constitution be overturned by amendments of by-laws?

Answer: The Patriarchal Constitution was never amended to reflect self-rule status, so the February 24th decision is consistent with the current in-force Patriarchal Constitution.

7. What was the need, and why the urgency, for a special meeting of the Holy Synod of Antioch? Were constitutional procedures followed for the calling of that meeting?

Answer: At the October 7th, 2008 meeting of the Holy Synod in Damascus, His Beatitude appointed a special committee which included the Archbishops of Aleppo, Hama, Homs, and Akkar to study the question of the status of bishops across the See of Antioch, and to make a recommendation which would normalize that status. The meeting of February 24th, 2009 was convened to hear this recommendation and to act on it. The Patriarch may convene a meeting of the Holy Synod at any time that he sees fit.

8. Given the fact that the mechanism of resolution for possible problems or disagreements is specified in our Constitution as belonging to the Local Synod of Bishops, with right of appeal to the Patriarch and the Holy Synod, why were these amendments necessary?

Answer: The February 24th decision was not a result of any wrongdoing by any bishop. It was necessary to normalize the status of all bishops across the See of Antioch.

9. We are not aware of any study, investigation, or report containing information regarding concerns of disunity or other issues of disagreement within our Archdiocese. What was done by our bishops that precipitated the Holy Synod’s decision? Did the Patriarch discuss these issues with our bishops when he visited in the fall of 2008?

Answer: Once again, our bishops did not do anything that precipitated this decision. It should not be viewed as a matter of discipline, since this was not the intention. To my knowledge, the Patriarch did not discuss this with our bishops during his visit in the Fall of 2008.

10. How can enthroned diocesan bishops be dethroned other than on specific canonical grounds?

Answer: To dethrone a bishop is to remove him from his episcopal throne. This has not been done. The status of the bishops  has changed from diocesan bishop to auxiliary bishop.

11. If there is no local synod within our Archdiocese, in what way do we retain our status of Self-Rule?

Answer: Our Archdiocesan Synod remains in place. The February 24th decision made no mention whatsoever of self-rule, or a change in status of the Archdiocesan Synod.

12. If Bishop BASIL, for example, is no longer Bishop of Wichita, what is his current title?

Answer: Our bishops will carry the title Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of (name of Diocese). As an example, Bishop BASIL carries the title Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America.

13. How are we to understand the status of bishops who were not only enthroned but also consecrated for specific dioceses, if they are no longer bishops of those dioceses?

Answer: They are Auxiliary Bishops who are overseeing a Diocese on behalf of The Metropolitan.

14. Are the dioceses which were created at the time of our becoming self-ruled now reduced to regions?

Answer: No. The dioceses remain intact and they retain their current names.

15. We understand that the decree was sent for approval to all the members of the Holy Synod. Did they all respond? What were their responses?

Answer: We are not privy to the individual responses from each member of the Holy Synod. Suffice it to say that the decision was approved by a majority of the Holy Synod.

It is our prayer that the remainder of your Lenten journey will be greatly blessed.

Your father in Christ,

Metropolitan PHILIP

Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America

Cc: His Beatitude, IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Bishop ANTOUN, Bishop JOSEPH, Bishop BASIL, Bishop THOMAS, Bishop MARK, Bishop ALEXANDER

There are, it seems to me, a number of key points here, but I’m curious about what everybody else sees before I offer my own half-baked analysis.

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To a particular anonymous “clergyman in this region”

From the comments section on OCANews:

I am so sick and tired of hearing all this non-sense and garbage. The bottom line is that many of these Bishops, namely Bishop Mark, have over-stepped their bounds and began doing practices that threatened the unity of this Archdiocese. I know this for fact as I have personally witnessed this behavior as a clergyman in this region. I happen to agree with the detroit clergy and applaud them for saying what many of us are were already thinking. May God grant Met Philip Many Years!!!

These are strong words indeed. In the interest of taking such accusations seriously, since clearly Bp. MARK’s practices, according to the perspective of this clergyman, threatened the unity of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest, to say nothing of the entire Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, I invite the cleric to explain to me, a convert of Danish and English extraction with not a drop of Syrian, Lebanese, or Palestinian blood anywhere in his veins, just what those practices were and why they were divisive or overstepping his bounds.

I will acknowledge my own sin of judgment and pride in saying that my first thought upon reading this is, “Which practices were these? Not allowing bingo? Asking that his churches be the instruments of charity and not the recipients? Insisting that parishes pay their priest according to guideline? Telling parish councils that they were to treat the priest as the person placed in charge by the bishop and not as an employee? Not allowing non-Orthodox — to say nothing of non-Christians — to be communed? Standing firm on priest assignments when the priest hadn’t done anything wrong? Insisting that services be scheduled according to Archdiocesan norms?” I freely admit that as my judgmental, uncompassionate bias, and I ask the forgiveness of all who read this.

So, please, Father, whoever you may be, explain it to me. I have had many wonderful firsthand experiences of Bp. MARK, and when I read words like yours, I just don’t get it. Help me get it, please. Help me understand just what it was that threatened your well-being and our unity that required this treatment of Bp. MARK and his brother bishops.

Seriously — this is an open invitation. E-mail me something I can post, leave a comment, whatever you want to do. Tell your side of the story. It is Lent; let us promote what goodwill and understanding we can during this season.

The door is open.

New Jersey: “Most of the auxiliary bishops will remain where they are”

An update of sorts. From the Antiochian website:

March 4, 2009

Beloved Hierarchs and Clergy, Members of the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese, Parish Councils and Faithful of this God-Protected Archdiocese:

Greetings and blessings during this Holy Lenten Season!

There have been some questions raised regarding the February 24th decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which addressed the status of bishops across the entire See of Antioch. The purpose of this letter is to try to answer these questions so that confusion may be avoided.

The first question deals with whether or not I am supportive of the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which was taken on February 24, 2009. I am supportive of this decision, for a simple reason. I am convinced that the institutional structure of our Archdiocese here requires it at this time. One of the greatest assets that we have been blessed with in this Archdiocese is our strong unity. We cannot take any chance that disunity would occur in the Antiochian Archdiocese. I believe that this decision supports maximum unity and guards against any fracture in the future. I approved the decision of the Holy Synod based on my background and personal experience. I came to this country in 1956 from a divided nation. I found in North America a divided Antiochian family: first between “Russy” and “Antaki”, and second between New York and Toledo. I worked very hard to unite this family at the cost of blood and tears. I will guard this unity with my life and I will leave to our future generations a strong and unified Antiochian family in North America. If we do not learn from the mistakes of history, we will be condemned to repeat the same mistakes. In my judgement, the models of other Orthodox jurisdictions simply do not work, and the examples are numerous. Most importantly, I do not see the action of the Holy Synod of Antioch as making that much practical change in the way we operate. Most of the auxiliary bishops will remain where they are. The auxiliary bishops will administer the dioceses on behalf of the Metropolitan. It is now clear that in the few instances in which the Metropolitan disagrees with the action of a bishop, that the Metropolitan has the authority to reverse that decision. While we have vacancies in some of the dioceses, it is important that the Metropolitan have the flexibility of moving a bishop to a place where the best interests of the Archdiocese can be served.

The second question deals with the exact status of our bishops. The decision makes it very clear that our bishops within this Archdiocese will now be considered Auxiliary Bishops. But we need to focus on the practical application of that change, and not just a title. in due time we will begin the work of editing the “Manual of Hierarchical Duties and Responsibilities” so that these changes will be clear. The Archpastoral Directive of March 3, 2009 made it clear that the Metropolitan is to be commemorated in all divine services. The auxiliary bishop will be commemorated only in the case that he is present at the divine service.

The third question deals with the impact of this decision on the provisions of our Self-Rule as well as certain articles of our Pittsburgh Constitution.

Our Self-Rule status remains in effect with regard to the relationship of this Archdiocese to the Holy Synod of Antioch. The decision of the Holy Synod is a narrow administrative decision, addressing only the standing of bishops across the See of Antioch. As we know from church history, administrative structures come and go as the needs of the church change over time. As you are all aware, there are still some differences that exist between the Archdiocese Constitution that was approved in Pittsburgh, and the constitution that was proposed by the Holy Synod of Antioch as an alternative. These differences will be addressed with the Patriarch, myself, and the Holy Synod in due time.

I pray that you will all have a blessed Journey to the Empty Tomb.

Yours in Christ,

Metropolitan PHILIP

Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America

These, I think, are the key lines:

“We cannot take any chance that disunity would occur in the Antiochian Archdiocese. I believe that this decision supports maximum unity and guards against any fracture in the future.”

“In my judgement, the models of other Orthodox jurisdictions simply do not work[.]”

“Most of the auxiliary bishops will remain where they are.”

“It is now clear that in the few instances in which the Metropolitan disagrees with the action of a bishop, that the Metropolitan has the authority to reverse that decision.”

“[I]t is important that the Metropolitan have the flexibility of moving a bishop to a place where the best interests of the Archdiocese can be served.”

I think this makes it reasonably clear what this is about. As I have said elsewhere — welcome to Lent. That’s no accident. Pray for your soul, your brothers and sisters, your priest, and your bishop and Metropolitan.

The golden rule, reality and other musings: or, happy first day of Great Lent

You know, there’s a particular reality that’s a bit hard to face when it comes to organizations. Not just churches (but churches are definitely included) — really, any organization. What I’m talking about is, of course, the Golden Rule.

“Of course,” you’re thinking. “Do unto others as…”

Nope, sorry, that’s not what I mean. What I mean is this: He who has the gold makes the rules.

This is more or less true everywhere. Government, non-profits, business, so on and so forth. There’s a very simple reason for it: unless the people able to write big checks have an interest in staying in the game, they won’t. Probably most of us would like to think that if we had lots of money, we’d behave differently, but the fact of the matter is that the more you have to protect, the more you will act to protect it — that is, the more you will act in what you see as your own best interests, and you will define what your best interests are in terms of what you have to lose.

Take charitable foundations. Do you think those exist for any other reason than it is in the best economic interests of the people funding them to do so? These entities exist because what it costs to fund them is less expensive than paying taxes on the same money. Show me somebody who gives away lots and lots of money without setting up a foundation or a charitable trust, meaning that they don’t care what the tax implications are, and I’ll show you somebody who is being truly selfless with their money. That’s not to belittle those who set up these organs of charity with truly the best of intentions, not in the slightest; this interaction of tax laws, wealth, and charity functions as intended, and in our society there’s probably no other way it could work. I’m just saying that it is probably naive, at best, to think that there isn’t anything in it for the person writing the checks.

As I said at the start of this rambling monstrosity, of course this applies to churches. At Overlake Christian Church, which is where I spent the plurality of my childhood churchgoing, the folks who wrote the biggest checks were the ones who got facetime with Pastor Bob Moorehead. That was evident even to an eight year old. And, really, why would it be any different in a church of 6,000 people (huge by 1985 standards) which had a mammoth building to maintain and which had designs on building an even larger structure?

At the church where my wife and I were married, it played out a little differently, but it was still the same story. The service schedule was structured around giving pride of place to the “Contemporary Praise Music” Eucharist — why? Because that was the service that had the greatest attendance of young, wealthy families. The choir and organ Eucharist had several older wealthy people, but the Microsoft families were able to outbid them (this was the late ’90s and early Aughts, after all).

You have to keep the people paying the bills in the game. They have to get value for their money, and there has to be an additional benefit proportional to the additional giving. How can it be any other way?

In the same way, I tend to see the perceived discomfort between so-called “ethnic” or “cradle” Orthodox and converts, if it actually exists at all, as being primarily an economic issue. Pews? Organs? Byzantine chant? Liturgical language? Even, yes, how episcopal authority gets defined and exercised? These are all issues subject to how the bills get paid. This isn’t something many of us who came to Orthodox Christianity for convictions of faith want to hear, but I think it’s probably the case.

Let’s take a hypothetical Orthodox priest from a country we’ll call Dolaria. He’s got a parish of three-quarters ethnic Dolarians, the richest five of whom give approximately 95% of the parish’s annual budget. The other quarter is mostly converts and maybe people from other ethnic backgrounds for whom a parish from “their own” church is too far away; maybe this group gives more consistently and regularly than the previous group, and maybe not. One way or the other, all told, this quarter of the parish makeup gives about 15% of the annual budget. On a given Sunday, the church might be three-quarters full and attendance might be split 50-50 between converts and ethnic Dolarians. Despite a fulltime priest, the parish only serves Orthos and Divine Liturgy on Sunday during a normal week. The metropolitan area in which this predominantly Dolarian community finds itself has a number of other parishes which tend to be heavier on converts, but the Dolarian parish’s annual budget is bigger than all of the rest of them combined.

Perhaps this hypothetical priest doesn’t participate much in pan-Orthodox events when they occur. Maybe a convert priest presses him about this, and also rags on him a bit for building a brand new church, an exemplar of traditional Dolarian Orthodox church architecture — except that it has pews and an organ. We can hypothesize that the Dolarian priest replies, “You know, you converts can play happy-clappy pan-Orthodox unity all you want, but the reality is that I’ve got a big church of Dolarians that takes up all my time, and the people who pay me to do that are Dolarians. When you converts actually match or outnumber us in giving and in attendance, then we’ll talk. A convert who comes to every service but gives $1,000 a year doesn’t help keep the doors open and the lights on in the way that a Dolarian who comes maybe once a month but gives $500,000 a year does. If ten people are writing me checks for $1 million apiece towards a $15 million church, and they want pews and an organ, they’re going to get it. If a hundred people are writing me $100 checks towards that church, and they want an open floor with no organ, I’m sorry, but they’re in the wrong demographic across the board for me to be willing to die on that hill.”

And you know what? While I wouldn’t like it or agree with it, I wouldn’t necessarily be unsympathetic to that point of view. Freedom of religion in a pluralistic, capitalist society where there is officially a separation between church and state effectively means that you get the religion for which you’re able to pay. To put it another way, if you want a church to be a particular way, you have to put your money where your faith is. We speak as Christians about “sacrificial giving,” but the reality is that the vast majority of people, particularly the wealthy, even Christians, and yes, even Orthodox Christians, are not going to give anything they can’t afford to lose. Ten middle-class converts who have bookshelves of the entire Popular Patristics line from St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press are neither going to be able to match ten ethnic millionaire entrepeneurs who have no idea what the Council of Nicea decided and prefer to hear the Liturgy in <fill in name of language> because it makes them feel more <fill in name of ethnicity> even though that means they don’t even know what we actually sing in the Paschal troparion, nor are the middle-class converts going to bring in enough additional middle-class converts to outmatch the same.

We converts can say all we want that we just want to submit to the Tradition, that we should follow the Typikon, we want traditional music (but sung in English!), traditional architecture, have a fuller liturgical schedule, take out the pews and chairs, only have a tuning fork for instruments, have icons handwritten in Byzantine style with egg tempera and mineral pigments, and burn nothing but olive oil and beeswax with not an electric light to be found. I myself am firmly in that camp, believe me.

Economic realities interfere pretty fast with that picture, however. First of all, a priest costs money, or at least he does if you actually want him to be able to survive. Not paying a priest carries its own cost — if he works a secular job, that means he will have less time for his parish. Plus, if you really want a fuller liturgical schedule, and you have a priest with a family, you almost need two priests. That costs money, too.

Traditional music? It takes having people who know what they’re doing musically. Guess what? That will in all likelihood cost money.

Traditional architecture? Hoo boy, does that cost money.

Take out the pews and chairs? Since that will likely cause a chunk of your congregation to leave, that has a cost.

Longer services? You’ll probably lose people over this, too. Check.

Handwritten icons? Wait till you see the bill. Yes, that costs money. A lot of it.

Olive oil and beeswax? Inherently higher maintenance, which means it costs money.

To apply this to current events, if there is a perception among people who write checks with lots of zeros (at least, zeros to the left of the decimal point) that an organization is in the process of giving away the farm to people who write checks with far fewer zeroes, behave in a way which makes them uncomfortable, and frankly, whom they might perceive as having less of a vested interest in that organization than they do (because, let’s be honest, this is a group of people who already left something else to be part of this organization, so how do we know they won’t do it again?), they are going to pressure the leadership of that organization to start making different choices. And, eventually, the power of the pocketbook will be the deciding factor. The outcome will go to the highest bidder. He who has the gold makes the rules. Issues of canonicity, conciliarity, communion, doctrine, tradition, etc. simply do not have the force in our current system, the so-called “marketplace of ideas,” that being willing to write a check does. When the emperor was able to outbid everybody, that was one thing, but that’s not how we do things here and now.

Let me make something clear: this is in no way an indictment of the people who write the checks and expect, implicitly or explicitly, things to go their way — neither is it an indictment of the people to whom those checks are given and who then act accordingly. That is, for better or for worse, the way our culture works. Adjunct to that is the idea of choice — if you don’t like it, go someplace else or start your own. That Orthodox ecclesiology doesn’t exactly allow for that is an internal technical matter, not truly the concern of the culture at large.

Rather, I’m really talking to fellow converts. We need a reality check, folks. I include myself in that — I’m low-level support staff at a university and a part-time grad student, married to a full-time grad student. I can only do so much, and even that’s hard to do. The people whom I have brought to church with me are people in similar situations — students and working class folks who read a lot. It would take around sixty pledging units like us to be able to pay the priest’s compensation (which is already less than what he’s worth), and two hundred pledging units like us to be able to completely replace our parish’s budget. As it is, our parish has around eighty pledging units total. Yes, I’m there for virtually every service, but so what? That means I’m taking up more space and resources than that for which I am able to pay, more than likely. I’m a net loss for my parish, in other words, particularly since as the choir director and cantor I’m also one of the only paid staff. My potential as a net loss is further amplified by music having a status as a potential flashpoint of controversy. The most mild, reasonable, and practical of musical decisions made by a cantor/choir director — say, picking a setting of the Liturgy that the choir is actually able to sing — has the potential to be a reason for somebody to leave, and take their pledge with them. Trust me on this point.

We need to assume that we, as converts, will get the respect we can afford. Metropolitan PHILIP likes to point out the growth in the number of Antiochian parishes since he was became primate; what would be a better metric of growth, I think, would be an aggregate total of the annual budgets of all parishes, adjusted for inflation. I’m going to guess that that number would not suggest as optimistic a present reality as the number of parishes does.

I suspect that current events are, in one way or another, related to people in charge having to follow the money. I’m not sure it’s any one person; I think both New Jersey and Damascus have vested financial interests which need to be tended, which, again, canonicity or no canonicity, is the way things work in the here and now. The rent has to be paid, whether or not a bishop has been canonically enthroned as a diocesan bishop and not as an auxiliary. We proclaim ourselves to be the true Church; it does not follow that we are the perfect Church or a Church which, under current circumstances, can operate independently of financial concerns.

Does that change what anything looks like, for good or ill? No. However, does it change anything about the faith or how we are supposed to live it? No. Does it change Christ? It would be blasphemy to suggest that it did. What it does mean is that we must necessarily scale our expectations about what parish life is like to appropriate levels, and not to expect that people who are human are going to be anything other than human. Our deacons, priests and bishops (and cantors — especially cantors) are all working out their salvation with fear and trembling, too. It also means it is incumbent upon us to pray, to confess, to act and give according to our convictions, as much as we possibly can, and to understand that the way the world works, to say nothing of all the broken people in it, things are going to move slowly even if we do that.

I’m not thrilled about what I’m hearing about this decision from Antioch or the potential consequences; I love my bishop dearly and do not like seeing him demoted, not in the least. It’s actually rather shaken me to the core, simply because it seems to be a very large and significant action which is about nothing so much as power and money and which has nothing to do with the faith. But that’s exactly it — it has nothing to do with the faith. It does not impact who Christ is, or my need for communion with Him, one whit. As well, given that this is the very beginning of Lent, to rush to judgment and start separating the various figures into the “good guys” and the “bad guys” is very clearly a temptation which requires resistance. Avoiding Big Macs and nachos over the next few weeks isn’t all we have to do; we also have to avoid judging our brothers… and our priests, and our bishops… and especially our cantors who have to sing so many ginormously long services over this week alone to say nothing of Holy Week… and instead put in the effort to love them.

Patriarchate of Antioch: “All bishops within the Antiochian See are auxiliary bishops”

Posted to the website of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:

THE DECISION REGARDING THE AMENDING OF ARTICLES CONCERNING BISHOPS ACCORDING TO THE BY-LAWS OF HE PATRIARCHATE

CHAPTER VI, THE BISHOPS

Article 75: The Patriarch is the reference point of all bishops in Damascus, Patriarchal Monasteries and Vicariates; and they are under his authority[.]

Article 76: The Metropolitan is the point of reference of all bishops in his Archdiocese and they are under his authority.

Article 77: All bishops within the Antiochian See are auxiliary bishops and are directly under their spiritual authority.

Article 78: The Metropolitan defines the responsibilities of the bishops and the place where they should serve. The bishop does not do anything contrary to the will of the Metropolitan.

Article 79: The aforementioned articles 75, 76, 77 and 78 are applicable in all Antiochian Archdioceses and whatever contradicts these articles is null and void.

Issued by the Holy Synod of Antioch, Damascus, February 24, 2009

Signed by:

His Beatitude, IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch

His Eminence, ILYAS, Tripoli

His Eminence, ELIA, Hama

His Eminence, ELIAS, Tyre and Sidon

His Eminence, GEORGE, Homs

His Eminence, PAUL, Australia

His Eminence, DAMASKINOS, Brazil

His Eminence, ESPER, Houran

His Eminence, BASILIOS, Akkar

So, there is a great deal I could say about what this looks like to me, and there are a number of things which stick out like a sore thumb on which I could comment. Not just this text, but the language used in posting it:

Since this was a special Synod meeting with only one item on the agenda concerning the bishops, the proposed text of this decision was sent to the members of the Holy Synod, who were not present, for their approval. (emphasis in original)

However, before I shoot my mouth off, is there anybody familiar with the situation who would care to comment?

For potentially useful background reading, I suggest the interview with His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV in the December 2008 issue of The Word, pp. 5-8. I might also suggest His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP’s discussion of primacy at the American Conference of the Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius last June.

I will be very curious to hear what people have to say.


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