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A Theory about Chambesy

Author: Dean Calvert
May 12, 2010
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This article is sourced from www.

Orthodoxdetroit.comHi, many of you know that I’ve been asking the question about Chambesy for a while, “Why Now?”

ART. 5
BEFORE THE EPISCOPAL ASSEMBLY– UNITY OF ORTHODOX IN NA
26-28 MAY 2010 NEW YORK
INAINTE DE ADUNAREA EPISCOPALA – UNIREA ORTODOCSILOR DIN NA

Let’s face it, this Pan Orthodox commission had been in deep freeze since the mid 1990’s…suddenly a year and a half ago…there’s a Synaxis of patriarchs in Istanbul, followed by strangely recent “concern” for the Diaspora. Presto, the parties meet in Chambesy, and there are suddenly Pan Orthodox Episcopal Assemblies scheduled for the entire Orthodox world, presumably to be followed by the convening of a Great and Holy Council. Call me a cynic, but I’m not convinced that this is being driven by a sudden interest in the spiritual well being of the Diaspora.Coincidentally, a little too coincidentally if you ask me, the new Russian patriarch is “making the rounds”, visiting the Old World patriarchates in order of precedence. At the same time, Russia is resurgent - it’s economy fueled by skyrocketing natural resource prices (Russia is a huge producer of oil, gas, and precious metals including gold among other things). Trade is exploding with Turkey and Russia is now Turkey’s second largest trading partner (after Germany). Just today, a new pipeline accord was signed between Russia and Turkey which could make Turkey the real energy hub of Europe.

And … the Russian President was in Syria yesterday, visiting the Partiarch of Antioch among other things. BTW - Antioch is the next stop for the Russian patriarch, having just concluded a visit to Alexandria a few weeks ago. By the way, during that visit to Alexandria, an accord was signed which setup some sort of working arrangement between Moscow and Alexandria, which would allow Moscow to minister to Russians living in Africa.

OK - so here’s my theory - cynical as it may be. Constantinople has surveyed the situation, and has come to the conclusion that Turkish relations with Russia are suddenly much more important than those with the US. The usefulness of the EP as an “abrasive” to Russia (from the point of view of the US) is at an end.

The EP sees a resurgent Russia, who will soon be setting up dioceses in Turkey itself (Pat. Kyrill announced he was asking the Turkish PM for parishes during the last visit), as a threat to it’s existence, let alone it’s eastern papal aspirations. So, you are the EP - you are being increasingly “boxed in” by a combination of an antagonistic Turkish state, and now the Moscow patriarchate’s hegemonistic aspirations… what do you do? If it’s me, perhaps I try to cause the MP trouble by removing places from it’s authority…Estonia, Ukraine etc. That seemed to be first. Then, if those don’t work, I reach out to the one source of authority which is unquestionably the realm of the ecumenical patriarchate - Pan Orthodox relations - and “gin up” some serious activity there.

Longshot? Perhaps. But who knows, maybe I generate enough goodwill in the Diaspora to have them help me; maybe people get tired of Russian hegemony; or maybe this is just a prelude to a transfer of the ecumenical patriarchate itself.

Crazy? If I had told you two years ago we’d be having Episcopal Assemblies led by the EP - you would have locked me in a rubber room. Just curious what y’all think.

5 Comments to “A Theory about Chambesy”


  1. Administrator Says:

    The author questions the wish of the Patriarchates to resolve the problems of Orthodox “Diasporas” and believes that political motives are behind the recent interest in this matter.


  2. Administrator Says:

    Autorul pune la indoiala dorinta patriarhilor de a rezolva problemele “Diasporei” ortodoxe si crede ca motivele politice sunt la baza interesului recent in aceasta priviinta.


  3. Al Says:

    as posted on orthodoxdetroit.com regarding: ‘Here’s a Theory about Chambesy’

    [Dean] … it’s really difficult to figure out what the hierarchs are thinking about the “diaspora”. For all intents and purposes, it hasn’t really been managed according to canon nor tradition no matter what “historical view” one takes. If one accepts MP “primacy” in North America, the fact is that the MP really, for whatever reasons, abandoned NA following the Revolution. We can argue about “why”, but the fact is they did, whether voluntary or not. Thus, we have North American “pluralism”, and the attendant problems.

    But this pluralism also exists in Western Europe and South America, so there is more to the problem than America, even if we Americans like to think that we are totally unique. Mexico is a good case study. There has been an OCA diocese there for nearly 40 years, and it has been withering in the vine. Why did the recent RC group elect not to join the Mexican Exarchate of the OCA? Is there some kind of a “wart” on the late Bishop Jose and his group that left the Roman Church 4 decades ago? Just speculating. In Western Europe, we have ROCOR, MP and “The Exarchate of Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe (EP)” all catering to people of Russian heritage. Why? ROCOR tends to see the MP as too liberal, the MP tends to see a danger of Russians “going native”, and the EP group does not want to be cookie cutter Russians.

    So, in short, since there is now a de facto standard of ethnic conclaves outside the actual ethnic homelands, how does one generate a sense of order? You can’t, as shown in the US, impose autocephaly on parishes that aren’t already under your jurisdiction. I will take a hit on that one, because back in 1970, I subscribed to the “Schmemannian” logic that by establishing one autocephalous Church in the US, all the others would, in a frantic bout of canonical wisdom and clarity, rush to make everything correct and come on board. And if not rush, then slowly “wake up and smell the coffee” and do so in a reasonable time. In the absolute clarity of hindsight and tempered by old age, I now realize that true geo-political autocephaly is granted to a geo-political and unified Church. In short, autocephaly requires unity, it is not a means towards unity.

    To make a long story short, perhaps the hierarchs simply have become willing to admit that the “diaspora” is out of control and some semblance of order needs to be instituted. Rather than begin by imposing such order, perhaps they are trying to take a cooperative approach. Lord knows, what they have done independently to date hasn’t worked. They may very well still be trying to come up with a solution, or even more fundamentally, clearly define the problem. I have decided to simply take a “wait and see”. I find it hard to imagine them coming up with something worse than the status quo. And, of course, we Orthodox do hold that the Holy Spirit is most likely to speak through us when we are assembled in sobornost.


  4. Dean Calvert Says:

    as posted on orthodoxdetroit.com regarding: ‘Here’s a Theory about Chambesy’

    Al, thanks for that very sober assessment. The thing that really jumped out at me was this comment: “In short, autocephaly requires unity, it is not a means towards unity.” It’s also interesting to hear what the original logic (Schmemmanian) was behind it. Interesting take on things. If, as you say, “true geo-political autocephaly is granted to a geo-political and unified Church”..then that would seem to eliminate the possibility of any of the churches outside the traditional Orthodox world from joining the ranks of the local churches. It also makes me wonder about places like the Czech lands and Albania. So I guess the logic would be, following your comments, that the church could be a minority church, and be allowed autocephaly (a la Albania), as long as there are no divisions within that church? Interesting criteria….certainly different than we are used to.

    The definition also does not lay out an obvious path to “how” that unity would be achieved. Also, the “path” seems to ignore the historical reality, which is that autocephaly is generally “taken”, not granted. So, while the idea that some “shepherding” of the various jurisdictions into a united church may sound like a nice idea, it’s just not the way things have worked in the past, or are likely to work in the future. Of course, that is certainly open to debate…and one would rightly pose the question, “you have any better ideas?” In the end, I’d like to believe your last line, “I find it hard to imagine them coming up with something worse than the status quo” - but I’ve seen them come up with some doosies. “Don’t underestimate them” is my gut reaction…cynical as that may be.

    I also worry, very seriously worry, about the fact that it is “Dead Sees” leading this parade….and not because of my (admitted) disdain for the EP. It’s something else - I honestly think we are going to continue to see cleavage in the Orthodox World between the “live” churches, i.e. Russia, Romania, all of Eastern Europe, Greece and Cyprus, and the “dead” bishoprics….which, in my opinion, unfortunately include all four of the ancient patriarchates. That “cleavage” is a function of a situation which has not existed since before WW1 - pre communism. And I don’t mean for that to be as obnoxious as it might at first appear. The thought behind it is that “live” churches are just naturally going to be concerned with different things, will have vastly different priorities than the Sees that I call “dead”. For example, the Russian Church, with all its warts is probably worrying more about how to handle an influx of Muslim converts than any of the “dead” Sees. Why? because their church is rising out of the ashes, and they have huge Muslim minorities which will be likely targets of evangelism. Similarly, look at the interest in the Romanian church for prison ministry and alchoholism…ministries reflecting real, live “on the ground” issues in Romania. How are hierarchs in the “dead” Sees going to relate to those? they can’t.

    I think this “cleavage” is going to manifest itself, more and more, to a degree we have never witnessed…not because of Russian aspirations at hegemony (which I’m sure also exist), but because their focus is properly on resurrecting a church which was put in “deep freeze” for the past 70 years. Anyway..long winded way of saying that I think your bring up some fascinating points. It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks.


  5. Al Says:

    Dean, the definition also does not lay out an obvious path to “how” that unity would be achieved. Also, the “path” seems to ignore the historical reality, which is that autocephaly is generally “taken”, not granted.

    When has an autocephalous Church had the fractous situation currently on the ground in the West? Whether “taken” or “granted” can you cite a historical example where autocephaly was recognized for 1/4 of the Orthodox in a given geo-political area (or “national Church”) but not the other 3/4ths who did not try to “take” or ask to be “granted” such status?

    I wish the case in Russia was “because their focus is properly on resurrecting a church which was put in “deep freeze” for the past 70 years.”. Unfortunately, +Hilarion paints a different picture where the emphasis has been on structure, not souls. Is the concern that the Muslims will outnumber the rest of the population or is it people’s immortal souls? The government is definitely concerned with the former, and the Church has not made a significant dent in the latter. Yes, the definition I offered does not lay out a path to “how” unity might be achieved. Again, where is the historical precedents? What other country was catechised by competing jurisdictions, or had significant differing ethnic Orthodox populations such as the West?

    Much time was lost because the Communist Block “Live” Churches, as you call them were not in a position to deal with the “diaspora”. Those who left the “motherland” typically did so in refugee status and were considered “traitors” by the government. Needless to say, the Churches in those lands were severely hampered in trying to “minister” to those abroad. And many of those abroad were suspicious of the nature of the Church under Communist rule. Only the EP and Antioch were relatively free to take the “diaspora” under their omiphore for several decades. Now, all of a sudden, almost everyone is staking out direct claims in the West.

    The hierarchs in the “dead” sees do not need to relate to what’s going on in Russia and Romania. Russia and Romania each have a single hierarchy to deal with their local problems. What is of concern in the West is if some kind of a single sheet of music can be developed that minimizes the current problems while rational and canonical solutions can be put in place that will be accepted by all. And accepted is the operational term. If, for example, the hierarchs were to try to impose the OCA upon the US as the sole jurisdiction, how do you think ROCOR would react? Ever read what they still write about the OCA in general, no less the GOA and AOA? Keep in mind that ROCOR considered the MP without grace for many, many years, and in all reality, still sees many warts there in spite of the “reconciliation”. There is a lot of work left to be done.


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