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There is No Diaspora

Author: Metropolitan Philip
May 22, 2010
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There is No Diaspora, Metropolitan Philip Says,
Questions the Purpose of the Bishops Assembly

from: aoiusa.org/blog and originally from The National Herald:
A Theodore Kalmoukos interview with Metropolitan Philip Saliba

ART. 11
BEFORE THE EPISCOPAL ASSEMBLY– UNITY OF ORTHODOX IN NA
26-28 MAY 2010 NEW YORK
INAINTE DE ADUNAREA EPISCOPALA – UNIREA ORTODOCSILOR DIN NA

BOSTON - Metropolitan Philip, Primate of the Autonomous Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America with 265 parishes, six Bishops and 350 priests, is the Vice-Chairman of the Standing Conference of Canonical Bishops of America, known as SCOBA, and also Vice-Chairman of the upcoming Panorthodox Bishops Assembly. In an exclusive interview with The National Herald, the prominent Prelate said that, “I really do not know what the purpose of this Assembly is all about.” He proposed an idea as a solution to the issue of what would happen to the Diaspora in the United States. He said, “At one time I proposed that the Ecumenical Patriarch leave Constantinople and come to Washington D.C. or to New York and keep his title as ecumenical Patriarch.”   In the interview, he touched on other critical areas for the church, including division and dissent.

TNH: What are you thoughts about the upcoming Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in New York?

PHILIP: I do not see much difference between the coming Assembly and SCOBA. SCOBA is not dissolved, it is 50 years old, it has a constitution, it has not been dissolved. We had Bishop’s Assemblies with SCOBA in 1994 at the Antiochian Village in Ligonier, under Archbishop Iakovos, then we had another one in Washington D.C., and we hade another one in Chicago, so this Bishops Assemblies are not new to us at all, we had them before.

TNH: What is going to be the purpose of this Assembly?

PHILIP: I really do not know and what puzzles me is that we put Central America with North America. Our Bishop Andonios in Central America in Mexico went to Brazil and met with Tarasios and the other Bishops in South America, he refused to come and meet with us because he represents a different culture all together.

TNH: Are you going to this Assembly without knowing why you are there?

PHILIP: Exactly.

TNH: But you are the Vice-Chairman.

PHILIP: Yes I am. (laughter). There is no preparation. The Archbishop should have called the executive committee of SCOBA first and tell us what he wants to tell us. What is happening? How did these people in Geneva issue all these communiques and rules without our knowledge and input as if we do not exist in North America?

TNH: Representatives of all the Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches were present in Geneva.

PHILIP: They do not know anything about America, all those representatives, nothing.

TNH: I underhand the issue of Diaspora will be discussed.

PHILIP:There is no Diaspora here. We decided in 1994 with the late Archbishop Iakovos. We rejected the term Diaspora for North America; Diaspora is in Jerusalem today, we have two thousand Orthodox left in Jerusalem and we have in Constantinople two thousand left. In Iraq thousands of Christians have been slaughtered and many fled to Syria and other countries.

TNH: So the term Diaspora doesn’t exist for you?

PHILIP: No, we are in a country where we can express ourselves, we can read, we can teach, we can write books, we have institutions, we live in a free country.

TNH: What are going to propose in this Assembly?

PHILIP: I am going to propose the rejection of this term Diaspora

TNH: Are you going to propose the establishment of an indigenous autocephalous American Orthodox Church?

PHILIP: If the Archbishop puts it on the agenda we will be very happy to discuss it.

TNH: If he doesn’t would you raise the issue?

PHILIP: I do not think without any preparations we should jamb into that. I think we should have the executive committee discuss it first and reach some conclusions and then bring these conclusions to the General Assembly of Bishops.

TNH: Do you think, Your Eminence, it is practically feasible for the creation of an American Autocephalous Orthodox Church with all the Orthodox Jurisdictions United?

PHILIP: No, but we could have a Synod of Bishops. We have a new situation here in North America and we need some creative thinking. We need some innovation to have a Synod of canonical Bishops.

TNH: Is that what SCOBA was?

PHILIP: SCOBA was not too much. I do not want to diminish SCOBA, we established the Orthodox Christian Commission, the IOCC, and the OCMC.

TNH: Why did you say it is not feasible the creation of an Autocephalous American Orthodox Church?

PHILIP: Who is going to recognize us? The so-called Mother Churches opposes that. Patriarch Bartholomew opposes that. He cannot stand the word Orthodox Unity, for example.

TNH: What about your Patriarch Ignatius?

PHILIP:Patriarch Ignatius dances to the music of Patriarch Bartholomew. In the future it is inevitable to happen because we will be dealing with second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth generations of Orthodox born in this country. I hope it will be brought up in this Assembly, but I do not control the agenda. I do not know what is going to come out of this. We have given some rules. I told them even at SCOBA at least consult with us. We are here in America and we have rules imposed on us from oversees. We have been in this country for two hundred years. The future of Orthodoxy is here in America. At one time I proposed that the Ecumenical Patriarch leave Constantinople and come to Washington D.C. or to New York and keep his title as Ecumenical Patriarch.

TNH: Would you submit to him?

PHILIP: Of course I will submit to him, we are going to have a United Orthodox Church in America with a Patriarch here and especially with an Ecumenical Patriarch.

TNH: What is the story with OCA?

PHILIP: Since 1970 they have autocephaly and they are not recognized any anyone except Moscow. The OCA situation is unfortunate; they have been trying very hard to get recognition but Constantinople is against recognizing them and Antioch is likewise nobody recognizes them but they do exist de facto.

TNH: Is your Archdiocese in Eucharistic Communion with OCA?

PHILIP: Of course we are.

TNH: You mean that you co-celebrate the Liturgy

PHILIP: Absolutely.

TNH: Then how come the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Antioch do not recognize them? Is this some type of hypocrisy?

PHILIP: It is.

TNH: Do you miss Archbishop Iakovos?

PHILIP: I miss him a lot, we worked together for so many years, he was a great leader.

TNH: How is your relationship with Archbishop Demetrios?

PHILIP: It is good.

TNH: When did you talk to him last time?

Philip: He called the headquarters, I was in the hospital for a small procedure, and when I go home the first phone call that I am going to make will be to Archbishop Demetrios, to see what he wants. Probably he wants to have a meeting to discuss SCOBA first before we go to this Assembly with all kinds of confusion.

TNH: What is the administrative status of your Archdiocese? Are you autonomous? Was your autonomy recalled?

PHILIP:We are a self rule Archdiocese.

TNH: You mean autonomous

PHILIP: Yes, but our Patriarch is allergic to the word autonomous. I asked him would you accept self-ruled?’

TNH: It is the same thing, is it not?

PHILIP: It is, but when I said self-ruled he said, no that is the word.

TNH: Where do you stand on the issue of married Bishops? Should we go back to the old tradition?

PHILIP: If this is the wish of the Church I am for it.

TNH: How do you feel about pederasty and homosexuality in the Church?

PHILIP: It is the most disgusting, it is a horrible thing, and there is no reason in the Orthodox Church for it and I absolutely have zero tolerance for it.

20 Comments to “There is No Diaspora”


  1. Administrator Says:

    Metropolitan Philip, the first vice-chairman of the Episcopal Assembly to be held in New York, May 26-28, 2010 doesn’t know if there is any purpose in holding such a meeting of all North American Bishops, because it was prepared in Europe by foreign clerics ‘who do not know anything about America’! ‘There is no Diaspora here’ says the Metropolitan, and ‘I am going to propose the rejection of this term Diaspora.’ The Metropolitan continues saying that the creation of an American Autocephalous Church with all jurisdictions united will be difficult to achieve, as long as the Mother Churches and the Ecumenical Patriarchate oppose it. For example, Patriarch Bartholomew “cannot stand the word Orthodox Unity”.


  2. Administrator Says:

    Mitropolitul Philip, primul vice presedinte al Adunarii Episcopale din New York, 26-28 mai, 2010, nu stie daca are rost aceasta Adunare a tuturor Episcopilor din America de Nord, fiindca a fost pregatita in Europa de catre clerici straini ‘care nu cunosc nimic despre America’! ‘Aici, nu exista o Diaspora’ spune Mitropolitul, ‘si am sa cer respingerea acestui cuvant. Mitropolitul continua spunand ca creerea unei Biserici Autocefale aici, cu toate jurisdictiile unite, va fi greu de realizat, atata timp cat Bisericile Mame si Patriarhia Ecumenica se opun. Chiar “termenul Unitate Ortodoxa nu-i convine Patriarhului Bartolomeu.”


  3. Chris Banescu Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    Great indeed! Wow, what a breath of fresh air!


  4. John Panos Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    Possibly prophetic words. What a difference between this kind of straight talk, (admired by Americans incidentally) and the double speak and duplicitous garble coming from the GOA.
    Is there really any doubt which vision ignites hope, faith and boldness in American Orthodox Christians?

    I call this a shot across the bow of the Episcopal Assembly. Looks like Jonah is not just the wild card – Met. Jonah actually holds all the cards.


  5. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    John, once the full implications of the Arey interview sank in with me, I realized that with his prideful words he gave each of the primates a huge club to beat the GOA over the head with. In order to maintain their continued support so in order to maintain their continued membership, every primate (+Joseph of the Bulgarians included) has to be on board. If this EA withers like SCOBA, then the money men are going to tire paying for it. Therefore the individual primates can ask for more concessions.

    Before Arey’s interview, every primate held at least two wild cards on their own: (1) their independence and (2) their potential joining together with other non-GOA jurisdictions like AOCNA or OCA. Now they’ve each got at least three. +Jonah always had the big one (in addition to these three): the OCA’s autocephaly. That’s four for the OCA. But you’re right, +Philip has others as well, since the AOCNA is autonomous and growing.

    My hope here is that the OCA and AOCNA make an immediate and formal announcement of a merger and accomplish this by year’s end. Just thought of this: +Bartholomew is going to Moscow tomorrow. +Kirill’s hand just got immensely stronger. The EP will look remarkably weak.


  6. Isa Almisry Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    Somehow I think that the visit coinciding with the EA here is not coincidence.

    It would be interesting if Met. Philip proposed that the Ligonier statement be adopted as the EA’s own. A number of objecting bishops will have an interesting time explaining their signatures.


  7. Dean Calvert Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    Isa, I love it…wouldn’t that be poetic justice…some of the same bishops sitting in the Assembly had already recanted their signatures once… God really does have a sense of humor, doesn’t He?


  8. Benedict- Seraphim Healy Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    After last year’s “unpleasantness” I’m leery of what Met Philip has in mind. I want administrative unity, to be sure. But I’m very cautious when it comes to our Metropolitan.


  9. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    Benedict, this is +Philip’s opportunity to redeem what happened last year (and it was bad). IMHO, +Philip put the brakes on the whole EA thing, in fact questioned its legitimacy (i.e. there were no “diaspora” bishops at Chambesy). What he really did was throw stink-bombs in the Phanar and prevented a hostile takeover of the North American church. For that alone, he should be thanked.


  10. Scott Pennington Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    I’m curious, what leads any of you to believe that what Met. Phillip said above brings anyone one inch closer to an autocephalous church? Re-read his comments assuming the following is true:
    - the Phanar is absolutely against an autocephalous church
    - Arch. Demetrios or some other more zealous representative of the Phanar will be told to propose uniting the various jurisdictions here in America under the Patriarchate of Constantinople
    - Other patriarchates, including Antioch, will not sign on for this because of the money issue, the ethnicity issue, etc.
    - Antioch is not going along with the Phanar and does not want a united autocephalous church here either

    Met. Phillip can speak rather frankly, what does he have to lose? That being said, he was a bit more frank in his assessment of his patriarch and synod than I would have imagined. Chalk him up as being in favor of the status quo.

    He said Constantinople and Antioch were hypocrites for not recognizing the OCA. However, he does not think an autocephalous American Church is feasible. And he would submit to the Patriarch of Constantinople if he moved his defacto see to New York or D.C. What in the world does all that mean?

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure it will all come to naught. When Met. Jonah gets tired of the Greeks referring to the “so-called OCA” and refers to the “so-called Ecumenical Patriarchate” it will all unravel quickly.


  11. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    Scott, I see your point, but let’s step back for a minute. Do we really want a united, autocephalous church? Yes. But we know that the EA is not the way to do it because it’s been coopted as a method to confound unity. Is SCOBA better? Of course not. But it’s canonical. It seems to me that if the old world is not serious about American independence, then we shouldn’t play along with them. I think that’s the crux of +Philip’s argument. And I agree.


  12. Michael Bauman Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    It would be nice if any of our ‘leaders’ being quoted said anything about praying together to receive the Holy Spirit and see what God has in mind wouldn’t it?

    Met. Philip knows how to stir the pot as a way of control that is all. Just because he says something that seems to be in line with what the outcome ’should be’ doesn’t mean he has any intention of doing anything other than protecting his own power. It is the wrong thing for the wrong reason.


  13. Andrew Says:

    Here is what I don’t quite get. The EP is in Moscow next week which is the same week as the EA. Now, I do have my suspicions that some Phanariot shenanigans are afoot. But consider this. When the EP goes on a high visibility trip, he usually takes a large entourage from America including Archbishop Demetrios. America does the heavy lifting for the Phanar after all.

    Reading past speeches and watching words my gut tells me the vast majority of EP documents and speeches are written in America or by Americans. But next week is the EA so a good number of those folks who would be in Moscow with the EP will be in New York at the EA. The EP it would appear is going to Moscow with a diminished staff. Who is the “best” of the entourage? Lambrinadis? Metropolitan Emmanuel? Zizoulas? If that is the case the EP is going to discussions with Moscow with a severly weakened position. He will have a staff with neither the political skill nor brainpower to counter anything Patriarch Kiril and his staff puts forward.
    Forgive my crude analogy but it seems in some ways that the EP is bringing a knife to a gun fight.

    And where is Met. Hilarion of Volokhmansk next week? New York or Moscow? I would hope the most skilled Metropolitan will be in New York at the EA.


  14. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    Andrew, a small correction if I may: while you are right that much of the intellectual heavy lifting in done for the EP here in America, I seriously doubt that it is Americans who are doing it. At best, it is resident aliens, naturalized Americans, or East Coast Greek-Americans who have little American identity who are the brain trust (so to speak). By way of anaology, think of the functionaries in the Obama Administration who embody the “post-American presidency.” People like that joker Michael Posner who apologized to the most murderous regime on earth for the recently passed Arizoa statute (which merely echoed national law). The whole “Green Patriarch” schtick is merely of a piece with this new globalism.


  15. Isa Almisry Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    I think that the Phanar had intended for the EA to have a domino effect: the one here is the last one to be held I believe. The idea would be that the bishops would be arranged in their ethnic enclaves with the EP’s colonial administrator in charge, one after another, until the North American one had the full force and the OCA was forced into submission to Moscow, so it could be dealt like an ethnarchy like the rest. I think the debacle in the Latin America over the Polish bishops deflected the joggernaut, and Met. Philip, if he says half of what he says here at the EA, will derail the rest.

    The problem is, this was the EP’s baby. His spokesmen talked it up. And now when it fails, now what? As much as Fr. Arey wants to portray it as a limited mission, there is really nothing that is going to stop it from becoming more, once the Phanar’s impotence is exposed. IIRC, Pat. Kyril invited the EP over at this time: was it to put him on the spot when the powder keg blew?


  16. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    Isa, Andrew, there is no doubt that the EP is going to be in a weakened position because of +Philip’s interview when he meets with the MP this week. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

    As much as I’ve criticized SCOBA over the years, I never questioned its canonicity. What +Philip did was not only derail the coup attempt by the Phanar by perpetrating what in military terms is a “spoiling action,” but served the North American bishops notice that he was preserving his options. Consider especially the indelicate (one could say grotesque) way that the interview ended, in which he mentioned “homosexuality and pederasty.” He was serving the GOA notice that he would not merge with them while some questions remain. The only way to read this was that it was a not-so-subtle shot across the bow of the present hierarchy of the GOA (+Demetrios excluded). (BTW, this principled anti-homosexual stance is de rigeur in ROCOR as well.)

    Let us develop this further. Last week I commented on the downward pressure on GOA clerical salaries that unification would cause. Now let’s look at it from the other side: why would any of the other jurisdictions want to assume the GOA’s multi-million dollar liabilities as manifested by the recent pedophilia scandals? Especially now that the OCA has solved all of the recent Kondratick unpleasantness (including the Koumentakos case, the removal of the two previous metropolitans, etc.) One could say that the OCA has a clean bill of health. As a member of the OCA, I for one would speak heavily against merger unless and until all the books of the GOA have been opened and subjected to an independent audit. Anyway, there’s more that can be said on this no doubt will be.


  17. Michael Bauman Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    George, I’m assuming you would have the same position with regard to a merger with the Antiochians?


  18. George Michalopulos Says:

    as posted on aoiusa.org/ blog regarding: ‘There is No Diaspora’

    No, from what I see, the AOCNA has pretty much a clean bill of health except for a retrograde ethnocentric faction of four parishes in the Toledo diocese (the IRS may take care of that problem). Michael, the operative word is “pretty much” a clean bill of health. The rot in the GOA goes far deeper, there is a significant homosexual subculture that is not in the process of being eradicated. This extends into the hierarchical level.


  19. Anonymous Says:

    Mr Michaelopulos, the homosexual problem is in no way limited to the GOA. Look at the OCA, and just ask Fr Vasile Susan about his findings on this issue (excellent source of information on the case of Fr Susan vs. Archbishop Nathaniel and OCA available at pokrov.org.

    For that matter, why have we not seen articles on Fr Susan’s case here on ROEANews? It is a very important situation in the ROEA, and I would hope ROEANews can help keep us all informed.


  20. Administrator Says:

    Anonymous, as you should know by reading the articles and comments on this website, uniting our ROEA Vatra Episcopate with the BOR Archdiocese under the Romanian Patriarchate, or leaving it in the OCA, either alone or with the ROAA, is the discussion theme here. There are plenty of other websites and blogs to debate other issues.


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