One of our readers recently attended the Clergy-Laity Congress for the GOA Metropolis of Boston this last weekend. He sent me this report which we chose to publish in its entirety. I will comment below.
There was a poll on this site as to whether the Assembly of Bishops would ever speak out against the movement in this country to redefine marriage to include homosexual unions. As the country slips into a morass of immorality, it seemed that the Bishops fiddled while Rome burned, so to speak. Then, at the most recent Assembly meeting, they issued a statement in which they reaffirmed the timeless teaching of the Church on this topic. Some will say they didn’t speak forcefully enough. Some will say that they spoke too late. But let us rejoice for even those who come at the eleventh hour.
This is a way of setting the stage for this past weekend. I had a chance to be in Brookline for the Metropolis of Boston Clergy-Laity Congress under the presidency of His Eminence, Metropolitan Methodios. I somewhat expected to sleep through his keynote and so was not prepared to take notes. What I will convey, however, are those things that still stick out in my mind because they woke me up.
1. He spoke about our need to evangelize. He made reference to the end of the Gospel of Matthew and the need to re-evangelize or evangelize for the first time those around us. He identified not doing this as one of our failings.
2. He spoke out about the persecution of our Orthodox fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters in other parts of the world, with a focus on the Middle East. He criticized the US government for its failure to extend protections to Christians who are undergoing, in his words, “a genocide.” Given all that has been going on, this wasn’t surprising. What was surprising is what he said next. He did not limit the persecution of Christians to the Middle East, where our coreligionists are paying for their faith with our lives. He mentioned the persecution of Christians in America. He identified the onslaught on Christianity from popular culture, the government, and the universities. No longer do we sit back and pretend that all is fine in our backyard. There is the recognition that even though we may not yet pay with our lives, Christianity is persecuted in our country.
3. In speaking of the persecution of Christians, he spoke out singularly and forcefully against homosexuality. In what can be surprising for a bishop of any stripe, he spoke out against a Greek politician in New England who had campaigned for and voted for an “unholy redefinition of marriage.” In referring to this politician, he used the words “a purported member of our Archdiocese.”
Should we worship our bishops? No. They are human. We should expect them to behave as bishops. We should expect them to shepherd the flocks that they have been entrusted with. We should expect them to preach. When they fail to do these things, the office of bishop should not keep them above criticism. Our criticism though should be grounded in respect and in Truth. This means we must also commend them and praise them when they do the right thing.
Despite being a member of the Greek Archdiocese, I have never shied away from criticizing our bishops for failure to speak out. I have sometimes considered our metropolitan in Boston to be chief among those who don’t speak out. This weekend though, he made me proud to call him my metropolitan. He made me proud to be part of this community. Perhaps this is the sign of a change that is taking place in Orthodoxy in our country. Perhaps this is a sign that the Holy Spirit is working through the Assembly of Bishops to have our bishops beginning to speak out on the Faith, even if it is at the eleventh hour. Perhaps that is the beginning of true unity in our Holy Church in America.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? Now that the OCA has pretty much lost its evangelical voice, some bishops in the See of Constantinople are finding theirs. First Patriarch Bartholomew gave an erudite sermon in Estonia about the theological inanity involved in redefining marriage, and now Metropolitan Methodius of Boston gave a superb presentation along the same lines. Methodius actually went further: he acknowledged the Greek Orthodox Church’s failure to evangelize and even took a local Greek-American politician to task for ignoring his Church’s teaching on so-called gay marriage.
This is huge. Usually the case is that GOA bishops run after any celebrity or politician no matter how notorious or sinful their beliefs. Is it possible that Orthodoxy in America has reached a watershed and that the GOA –whether by hook or crook–is going to lead the way in a prophetic manner?
Some may ask why? Is there a hidden agenda? Is Methodius laying down markers against potential rivals? I choose to take His Eminence at his word. Whenever a Christian pastor speaks the truth and is willing to be introspective enough to acknowledge his (or his Church’s) own short-comings, you know that he is coming from a position of moral authority. Nor should we forget that the truth does not exist merely in a platonic realm with no consequences. We would be wise to remember that Boston was the epicenter of the pederast scandal which brought the Catholic Church to its knees. This grievous scandal was brought about in no small part because some people chose not to believe in the truth.
Let us not engage in gamesmanship and wonder at dark motives. Let us instead rejoice that since the fall of Jonah, one American bishop has taken up the gauntlet. Given the fury that the Kulturkampf can unleash on those who question the status quo, this is no small thing. AXIOS!!!