In Memoriam

In memory of the late Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Primate of the Antiochian Orthdoox Archdiocese of North America, Monomakhos will not publish any comments today.

Instead, I ask that you take this day to pray for his soul, his legacy, and God’s Holy Church here in North America. If you want, his funeral will be live-streamed today, courtesy of Ancient Faith Radio. Thus, you will be able to participate in a virtual manner.

Memory Eternal!

About GShep


  1. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    Thank you for showing respect for our beloved Primate, of thrice blessed memory Metropolitan Philip. I cannot find the words to express my sense of personal loss at his departure from this world. He was my spiritual father for 35 years.

  2. Sam Haddad says

    Fr. Morris,
    I too loved Met. Philip dearly. However, his political affiliations left a lot to be desired. Are you aware he admired Quadafi? He admired Saddam? And he admired and supported the mass murderer Assad! Yes, I realize that he had to balance his political affiliations in the Mideast, but as an American of Arab background, this “self-ruled Antiochian Archdiocese” is a joke. Notice how the Syrian Amb. was a prime speaker at the funeral sending Assad’s condolences? Ridiculous.

    • GOAPriest says

      My goodness…thrice blessed?

      Sam…thank you for pointing out this tragic fact…

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        Cannot your vultures show some respect for those of us who are mourning the tragic loss of a great Orthodox leader?

        • GOAPriest says


          1. Whatever good qualities he had, and perhaps there were many, the former Metropolitan was not a saint by any standard that I know. Thrice blessed is a little over the top.

          2. You morose attitude towards his death is unbecoming of an Orthodox clergyman. You keep bemoaning his death in tragic terms, which is out place for a man of faith, which I no doubt believe that you are. A little perspective is in order.

          3. I pray, and am hopeful that his falling asleep will lead to a new and better chapter for your Archdiocese – and so should you. Or would you rather it be frozen in “former Metropolitan worship”?

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            I do not think that thrice blessed adequately expresses the deep love and admiration that I have for Metropolitan Philip. More than any other Eastern Orthodox hierarch, Metropolitan Philip rose above ethnicism to spread the truth of Orthodoxy to America. He was a man of vision, who was intelligent enough to realize the essential difference between Holy Tradition and customs that can and have changed as we express the unchanging Holy Tradition in a different country and culture. Yet, when one talked with him one on one he was a humble man who listened to others. No, thrice blessed is inadequate to express the love that I have for Metropolitan Philip. He always encouraged my scholarly endeavors and put me on several important commissions. You did not know him as I knew him. How dare you criticize him. Take care of your own Archdiocese and leave us Antiochians alone.

            • GOAPriest says

              I am sorry Father, but you are wrong. The Antiochian Archdiocese is not an island – the things that Philip did have had an effect on the entire Church, especially in this country. Perhaps some of it was good, but there were quite a few things he did that were wrong, mistaken and not canonical.

              And no, he did not understand the difference between Holy Tradition and custom – he merely knew the difference between what he wanted and did not want. And traditional Orthodoxy was no where in sight.

              Of course he is not alone in having made such errors – and no one has said that, but to portray him as a saint is completely ridiculous.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Father John bless: let not your heart be troubled. Pray for and rely on the mercy of our Lord for the soul of Met. Philip. Weep and mourn for his loss–deeply personal to you, but also do not forget that our Lord has trampled down death by death and rejoice in that as well.

          It matters not what others say. Met. Philip is in the mercy of our Lord. Don’t let them steal your peace or (even less) give it to them.

    • He supported Assad, just like most of the Christians in Syria and all of the Syrians at my particular Antiochian parish. Call me crazy, most people would say it’s a good thing when you have a middle eastern head of state who is a Muslim yet manages to protect Christians from Islamists, but I guess not everyone. Assad is far more progressive than anything that has come out of the American-supported Arab Spring rubbish.

      Metropolitan Philip was in line with our Patriarchs and bishops in Syria who understand that in the real world, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Don’t fall prey to the mindless idealism that has put Christians in danger all throughout the region. Better a stable dictator who protects Christians than an Islamist mob that kills them.

      • GOAPriest says


        Actually it is better to die a martyr’s death than to support an evil regime. Being complicit leads to eternal damnation, suffering for truth leads to eternal blessedness.

        • Michael Bauman says

          GOA Priest……and many have, but that is easy for folks on this side of the pond to say. We are under no immediate threat. On top of that, we don’t live in an even remotely traditional manner with deep roots in the land which have been watered and nourished since Apostolic times by both simple endurance and the blood of many martyrs.

          Frankly, I, in my climate controlled home, office, car and parish with no guns pointed at me and consuming far more food, drink and entertainment than is good for me even in the midst of the Great Fast, can say nothing about the decisions made by my suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.

          I can offer my unworthy prayers for them, but I cannot flippantly spit out bumper sticker phrases about martyrdom being the better choice.

          Not to mention the unwarranted ideological bias that we in our mindless material oblivion have toward ‘democracy’. What a joke.

          God forgive me for my indulgences.

          • Tom Kanelos says

            Michael, you are indeed correct with much of your post. I only wish that folks would give the same benefit of the doubt to some of the concessions the EP must make in order to survive.

            It seems folks are willing to understand the political alliances the late Met Philip of blessed memory maintained yet not so for the Ecumenical Patriarch.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Tom, I’ve been torn about how to answer your’s and Michael Baumann’s critique. The perspective which Michael Baumann especially paints of bishops in some areas of the Old World is a sober one. It deserves every due consideration.

              Luckily, I don’t have to. Please read GOAPriest’s response. It is in my estimation the final, best word. With his blessing, I intend to crib it in its entirety and expand upon it.

              Here’s my take: In Matt 26, Jesus didn’t say “I think when the time is right, when the proper taxis exists, when you all decide on the correct seating arrangements, it’d be a good idea for you to go to the ends of the world.”

              • Michael Bauman says

                George, it is not the bishops alone, but the people. I am constantly humbled by the fact that families in my parish who came to this country from the Diocese of Houran (mostly) have been Orthodox since Apostolic times. The Diocese of Houran is one of the most ancient in Christendom.

                That is not a small thing. I value the incarnational continuity in many ways. It is an ineffable grace for my community and the larger Church as well here in the U.S.

                For the last 1200 years or so, the Christians of that land have lived side by side with Islam and Muslims. Mostly in peace but every so often the demonic erupts into the kind of destruction which we see in Syria today.

                May our Lord strengthen our brothers and sisters in love and faith and grant a healing and restoration of that land once again.

              • Tom Kanelos says


                I don’t understand the last paragraph in your post relates to my comment, in fact, I’m sure it does not. relate.

                That being said, my comment is only about the double standard of those who wish to give Met. Philip the benefit of the doubt based upon the realities which exist and yet very quick to criticize the EP for doing he same.

                I am not debating the merits of what they choose to/must do, rather the double standard.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Tom, personally, I do give consideration for what the EP is faced with. Reading the stories of martyrs and those who did not accept martyrdom I am faced with the question: Is it desirable for people, even bishops to try and ‘protect’ the Church?

              Solzhenitsyn comments in the Gulag books that if they come for you and take you, you have to know and firmly believe that all the people you love, indeed, all that you love are dead or they will break you. The Soviets broke many who believed that they needed to protect someone else or even the Church.

              I must admit I have this fantasy: I am near an Islamic suicide bomber who shouts Allahu Akbar and just before he presses the button, I have the presence of mind and heart to shout out in reply: Al’Masiah qam

              Ah well, I’m a bit twisted. God forgive me.

          • GOAPriest says


            You are correct, in the US, we experience little threat of physical violence for living as Orthodox Christians, but that has no bearing on the matter. We are called to martyrdom in different, perhaps more subtle, but no less important, ways. And we will also be judged for our lack of self-offering. It is not either / or, but both / and.

            Being called to true life in Christ is not a bumper sticker phrase, it is real life, and everyone who has been called out of the world to adopted son ship in Christ, must decide to either live it or not.

            I apply the same critique to my own Patriarch, who stands before a vast mission field, but seems more interested in worshipping the golden calf of the reopening of Halki, blessing “polluted rivers,” – playing the Orthodox Al Gore, than preaching the Gospel openly and with conviction to those nearly 70 million souls held within the grip of a demonic religion. One way could very likely lead towards martyrdom – but also significant fruit-bearing, the other way leads towards spiritual death. It’s true I don’t have to make the decision, but it is not my decision to make – it is his. That is not a matter of fairness, but God’s providence. Imagine if the Holy Apostles had approached things as our spiritual leaders of today.

            • Michael Bauman says

              GOA priest, this post is much better. Martyrdom is not a choice, it is a gift of God that, like all of His gifts we either accept or reject.

              I have a friend who years ago, before the fall of the Iron Curtain, visited Bulgaria. As part of his visit he arranged to meet with some underground Orthodox believers. The crux of the conversation as he wrote about it later was this: he said he doubted he would be able to live a Christian life as they did. They laughed and told him if they lived in the US they would succumb instantly to all of the temptations he had to live in. They marveled at him.

              Jesus told Peter not to worry about what He had in mind for John, just pay attention to what Jesus had in mind for Peter.

              We learn and are strengthened by martyrs only if we, as you rightly say, strive to witness to the life of our Lord in our own circumstances no matter what the consequences.

              Martyrdom is not only a gift, it is a unique, intimate and special gift because it is personal between me and my Lord and it may even be hidden from all but the Lord. As such, martyrdom is not always what we think it is (being killed because of one’s testimony and loving those who kill you). It may also living in the midst of others being killed to do what on can to help bring order, succor and peace to others.

              The point is, we don’t and can’t know except in the abstract. Martyrdom is not an abstraction.

              The critical mind is anathema to martyrdom. (there is a fascinating parable on the critical mind in Stanislavsky’s book Building a Character )

              From St. Theophan the Recluse:

              Question: “We had a good priest; but he was transferred to another parish. In his place came another, who is a grief to the soul. In his serving the services, he is careless and hurried; when conversations occur, he talks only about trivial things; if he starts to talk about the things of God, then it is all with a kind of limitation and truncation of the strict truth. How is one to escape from such a temptation?”

              Answer: You yourselves are at fault. You made poor use of the good priest, and the Lord took him away. Tell me, did you become better from your previous good priest? Here you falter to say, “Yes.” But I from a distance shall say that you did not become better, judging by the fact that you are judging the new priest, not knowing how to control your feelings in relation to him as you should. Indeed, you had a good priest even before this good priest who has now departed from you, and the one before him was good too. You see how many good priests the Lord has sent you; but you all have not become any better for it. And here He has decided: why waste good priests on these people? I’ll send them one not so good. And He did. Seeing this, you should have at once paid attention to yourself, to repent and improve, but you just judge and keep judging over and over again. Improve yourselves, and then the priest will at once be changed. He will think: “With these people I cannot carry out my holy work carelessly; I must serve reverently and conduct edifying conversations.” And he will mend his ways. If priests are negligent and hurried in serving the services and are trivial in conversations, then most of the time it comes from conforming to the parishioners

              He goes on to say that the priest is not excused but that communities get the leaders the community needs to grow. We either respond to Christ or we do not.

              I suffer and fall daily and betray my Lord constantly. I am sure you do better than I but still neither of us knows the particular situations of others lives unless you are a staretz.

              All of this relates, interestingly enough to many of the other conversations that are conducted here and on other blogs about the troubles in the Orthodox Church, but that is another post altogether and this one is already a bit of a ramble.

              Forgive me.

        • Fr. George Washburn says

          Hi friends:

          Yesterday GOAP informed us most categorically that

          1) ” it is better to die a martyr’s death than to support an evil regime,” and
          2) “being complicit leads to eternal damnation.”

          It is not really possible to dialogue with an anonymous person who makes categorical pronouncements on such complex and nuanced questions, but since it was posted under yesterday’s date, and not today’s,
          I am assuming it wasn’t an outright prank.

          First, what is an “evil regime” in a region like the Middle East? One that is worse than the one it overthrew in order to gain power? One that is worse than the one you hope will come next? One that kills more Christians, or citizens in general, than seems strictly necessary to prevent wholesale Sunni/Shia chaos or tribal war? Or one that subsidizes the killing of unborn children as a matter of state policy? One that wastes a hugely disproportionate share of earth’s resources on frivolities like overpackaging? One that has the highest percentage of imprisoned citizenry on the planet? If it is any of the latter it prompts us to wonder about GOAP’s own martyrdom.

          Which of the contending proxy-war parties that are now engaged in ravaging Syria by seeming to support or oppose Mr. Assad’s secular Islamic regime is the team God favors and bishops should be (literally) dying to foster , the Saudi/Sunni/Al Qaeda team or the Iran/Hezbollah/Shia team? If you ask me He is not sponsoring either team, and one would be very hard-pressed to show through reason or persuasive Christian authority that the martyrdom of believers and their leaders so that one or the other lot can hold sway is a God-ordained path.

          Second, what does it mean to “support” such a regime? Does it mean to pay taxes? Vote? Go to dinner with the ambassador? Ask the leaders to be sure that the tiny Christian minority gets treated fairly when the tides of Islam are running at their fiercest? Keep the channels of communication open to the authorities in case one’s flock might need help someday? Encourage the present regime to be strong lest people with worse agendas take their place?

          I would like to invite him or anyone else to write a moderately annotated piece, with citations to the Bible, the Fathers, the canons, etc. where it says that a) bishops have a duty to oppose and undermine “evil regimes” while they are letting Christians lead relatively peaceful lives of faith, b) bishops would be better off dying as martyrs than living as compliant citizens of such a country, c) the bishop’s flock would be better off were their hierarch to die a martyr and thereby give an example to his people of what their political actions should be, and d) how bishops are supposed to know how civil powers that have been ordained and raised up and maintained by God for the punishment of evildoers and the restraint of those who are worse (these are the ones NT Christians were exhorted by St. Paul to obey) are to be distinguished from the ones the bishop and his people are supposed to die wholesale in opposing?

          And then after that maybe we could try unpacking the next pronouncement: “Being complicit leads to eternal damnation.” What he means by “complicit” is as undefined (and therefore useless) in the latter part of GOAP’s message as “support” was in the first part. And where does scripture or Tradition tell people that they are at risk of Eternal Fire over so ill-defined a term as “complicit” with a bad government?

          Of course there have been a tiny minority of historical situations where the occasional monk or Christian movement (St. Cosmas Aitolos comes to mind) may have been led to use force and resist evil rulers.

          In the absence of intelligent definition of the facts on the ground in the Middle East, the real questions and Orthodox Tradition sources to support his assertions, I’m afraid GOAP is wasting his time and ours by tossing off unsupported, categorical remarks.


          Fr. George

          • Steve Knowlton says

            Fr. George, you’re comparing the evils of Assad’s murderous legacy with our “wasting resources on overpackaging?” Seriously? I don’t ever remember +Philip complaining about said overpackaging.

            In the earlier, pre EOC days, Metropolitan Philip’s support of the Syrian regime was outspoken (anyone remember his long article on the catastrophe of losing the 67 war?), predictable, outrageous, embarassing, as is anyone who would now defend this dimension of his ministry. In mid 90s, it became more subtle. For example, the Word Magazine stopped referring to Israel as “the Zionist Entity.” That was always a nice touch. Prior to that, receiving the Word Magazine in the mail was always a special treat, because somewhere on its pages we could find a nugget deriding the perfidious jews, or the awarding of a jeweled pectoral cross to Yassir Arafat. The last gasp was the ill-begotten campaign to arabize the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the “Jerusalem Task Force,” and the like. It was packaged as an effort to help palestinian christians, but in reality it was a straightforward attempt to get the JP to stop selling off arab land to the Jews.

            Years ago, + Philip made a visit to Syria and the Word magazine published an account of his visit that referred to a poem dedicated to the Intifada that Philip had published in the local Syrian papers. I’m sure it’s a masterpiece of arabic verse, so it’s probably hard to render into the King’s English. However, I’d be willing to change my opinion on this matter if you could produce for me a translation of said poem. Or better: publish it in the Word Magazine.

            • Fr. George Washburn says

              Read my post again carefully, Steve. My point is not that wasteful packaging is the moral equivalent of unnecessary government-sponsored killing (whether by warfare or abortion), but rather that the issue of defining an “evil” government and choosing the policies bishops (or anonymous priests) should follow towards them (and their own graves) is not as simplistic as GOAP implied. If I know you at all, you’re in agreement with me on *that* point even if you still think Sayidna Philip didn’t forge the optimum path through that thorny thicket.

              I will be very interested to read any evidence-based explanation anyone is able to muster as to why it is rational to believe that the violent overthrow of the Assad government (and all the misery, tragedy, waste and death being visited on decent folks of all faiths, the wreckage that will take decades to “undo” ) will lead to a) better lives for Christians, b) greater opportunity for the advancement of the Gospel, c) more stability in the region of the world most likely to engulf us in a wider world war, or d) achievement of any worthy foreign policy aim. Everywhere you look in that portion of the world the society is ill-prepared for anything that resembles a stable, participatory democracy and MOST prepared for the various forms of strongly Islamic government, especially fundamentalism, and dynastic profiteering that have been the norm for so many centuries.

              Facts and reason, please, not prejudice pr sloganeering.


              Fr. George

              • Steve Knowlton says

                Dear Fr. George,

                No one here is defending abortion or warfare, except of course +Philip who lamented in his famous essay the lamentable destruction of the arab armies at the hands of the perfidious “zionist entity,” language borrowed from the worst of the Arab nationalists’ political inheritance, if you know what I mean (i.e. language adopted in 1939). Most of the rest of us are against: warfare, abortion, and even wasteful packaging. I even stand with you, united, resolutely opposed to unnecessary imprisonment. I’ll even raise your bid to say that some of us are opposed to anti-semitism, which you for some reason omit from palette of available colors.

                No one I know in this domain is interested in doing much of anything in Syria, particularly not a violent overthrow, or even a peaceful overthrow. No one asked +Philip to become a political revolutionary or a dreamer. He by the way was not as timid as you in proposing a vast reform to ME society.

                But it’s really much simpler than all that. It was you that asked us what an “evil regime” in the Middle East looks like and what does it mean to support it.

                And my answer to you is that the Soviet-backed baathist regimes of Syria, Iraq and Palestine are/were murderous and they were supported by +Philip, wholeheartedly, unerringly, repeatedly. Syria’s enemies were condemned for their crimes again and again, whereas Syria’s crimes were never mentioned, ever. Not one single time.

          • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

            Father George, your request for “a moderately annotated piece” is already fulfilled: see the revised second edition of my book titled, The Price of Prophecy: Orthodox Churches on Peace, Freedom, and Security, published in 1995 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI) and the Ethics and Public Policy Center (Washington, DC). If you cannot locate that out-of-print volume, you might try the earlier 1993 edition on, which, for some reason, is more readily available.

            The book is a full-length monograph that focuses on issues of war and peace, freedom, and human rights, particularly in the recent Soviet era of Russia / Ukraine and Romania, and proposes a six-part typology to attempt to explain why Orthodox Churches and prominent Orthodox individuals collaborate with political regimes hostile to Orthodoxy. The fourth chapter focuses on five Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States, including the Antiochian Archdiocese. In a sea of disappointing, often outrageous, obsequious deference to or even advocacy of extreme political ideologies, ethno-centrism, and narrow parochial interests, the islands of authentic witness to the fullness of Orthodox moral tradition may provide hope in the current millennium.

            • Fr. George Washburn says

              I thought I recalled that, Fr. Alexander. Thank you.

              Since I don’t and you do have that book at hand, to say nothing of great familiarity with its source material, and are also participating in this thread, I’d love it if you would toss into the mixer whatever easily posted, authoritative pieces of Tradition you may have to corroborate or undermine GOAP’s simple assertions that a) it is better to die a martyr than than to “support” an evil regime, and b) one will be damned for being “complicit” in an evil regime. I suspect you’ll suggest defining terms as essential to even beginning a discussion.

              • Michael Bauman says

                There are no regimes that don’t do evil.

              • Steve Knowlton says

                Note that “GOAPriest” didn’t offer you a choice between “living in” a country ruled by an evil regime vs. “dying as a martyr.”

                It is enough merely to *not enthusiastically support* said evil regime. No one is asking bishops in Syria to be heroes or martyrs.

                You shouldn’t need nuggets from the Tradition to figure that out.

                • That’s a crarkecjack answer to an interesting question

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    In the last five years or so, I had a couple of ocassions where I used the word “crackerjack” to describe something as very fine or outstanding.

                    The folks under about 50 didn’t have the slightest idea what it meant. It led to no little confusion!

                    I’m 66. I fear the expression is now up there with “the bee’s knees”!

          • GOAPriest says

            Father George,

            You seem to be dialoging well with this “anonymous person.” Good for you.

            I am at a bit of a loss and puzzled at your response to what is manifestly obvious from the Holy Gospel, the lives of the blessed Saints and Strugglers in the faith – in fact the entire history of revelation.

            How can you compare, straight-faced, a murderous dictator with inefficient packaging or the incarceration of criminals who have been processed through a system of justice (not perfect, but full of numerous protections and rights) with a regime that makes people disappear into the darkness never to be heard from again? The foolishness of such statements boggles the mind.

            How can you compare “paying taxes” and “voting” within a legitimate government that holds open and free elections, to giving tacit support to a murderous authoritarian “government” by not decrying the evil deeds that it does? You cannot, because there is no comparison.

            Your response is full of nonsense. I never suggested that a bishop should “undermine” an in-place government (loosely stated here). I suggested that we are all called to martyrdom, after the example of our Savior, and that a bishop first of all, stands in front as an icon of the Master and Teacher, our Lord. He goes ahead and leads us in righteousness. Therefore, when faced with injustice, he speaks loudly against it with the loving message of the Holy Gospel. He ought not sit in their palaces, eat their food, or derive comfort from their bribery to be silent.

            And yes, it is better to die a martyr’s death – unequivocally modeled for us in the lives of the Saints. Here are some worthy examples:

            a. After the Holy 40 Martyrs had been murderously tortured and fallen asleep and received their heavenly crowns, a single young soldier named Meliton was still alive. As he was dying, St. Basil tells us that his holy mother encouraged him in the contest to persevere until the end. “Taking her dying son upon her shoulders, the mother followed the cart on which the bodies of the soldiers were being taken to be burned. When her son at last gave up his soul, she placed him on the cart with his fellow athletes of Christ.”

            b. What about the incredible example of Ss. Natalia and her husband Adrianos – she encouraging him to persevere until the end, “fearing that her husband would hesitate on seeing the sufferings of the other martyrs, asked the executioner to begin with him, and permit her to put his hands and legs on the anvil herself.”

            c. If you want an example of a hierarch, you only need to consider St. Ignatios who stood before Trajan and fearlessly confessed the faith, and after being bound and ordered sent to Rome to be eaten alive, said “I thank you, O Lord, that You have vouchsafed to honor me with a perfect love towards You, and have made me to be bound with iron chains, like Your Apostle Paul.”

            d. What about St. Theodore the Studite, the fearless abbot and spiritual father who encouraged his brothers in the defense of the Holy Icons and to account their exile as a most worthy offering to Christ. “That to be persecuted again is to be crowned again; and that where sufferings are multiplied, there too the consolations of the Holy Spirit are multiplied…So then, brethren, let us not fall, let us not lose heart, but let us all stand together, as good soldiers of Christ, bearing our arms, not physical ones, but ones empowered by God, for the destruction of strongholds, that is to say: prudence, courage, temperance and justice…” There are countless other examples.

            The writings of the Holy Father abound with examples of encouragement in suffering and defending the truth against the powerful.

            In the Apostolic Constitutions, we find the following: “Let us therefore renounce our parents, and kinsmen, and friends, and wife, and children, and possessions, and all the enjoyments of life, when any of these things become an impediment to piety. For we ought to pray that we may not enter into temptation; but if we be called to martyrdom, with constancy to confess His precious name, and if on this account we be punished, let us rejoice, as hastening to immortality. When we are persecuted, let us not think it strange; let us not love the present world, nor the praises which come from men, nor the glory and honour of rulers, according as some of the Jews wondered at the mighty works of our Lord, yet did not believe on Him, for fear of the high priests and the rest of the rulers…”

            Is it really necessary to also quote scripture on the topic? The entire life of our suffering Lord shows that denial of the self, the carrying of one’s Cross, and faith and hope in our Lord’s second and fearful coming are the foundation of our willingness to suffer joyfully – for we are only sojourners on this earth, citizens of another country. Where in Holy Scripture does it recommend to sit and sip tea with a murderer?

            “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God?” (1 Cor. 6:9)

            “But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; The future of the wicked shall be cut off.” Ps. 37:38

            “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.’” Job 28:28

            “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.” Prov. 3:7

            • Fr. George Washburn says

              Hello friends:

              GOAP imagines that I am dialoguing with him, but it is really just a critique.

              Let’s look back for a moment at where we started. On a thread about the late Sayidna Philip, GOAP chided Fr. John Morris for his choice of words in mourning the man who he had followed with love for decades. GOAP also chided our correspondent “John” for pointing out that all ME Christians find themselves having to deal with political leaders who are dealing with societies plagued by a heritage of millenia-long, see-saw murderous tribalism (and who therefore fall far short of the idealized standards of US democracy that does not deal with a society of entrenched tribal violence).

              Then GOAP let out a brief belch of bumper-sticker bumptiousness on the morning of March 31 in which he made those two pronouncements – and if they were not meant as a critique of Sayidna Philip then he ought to tell us who he was actually pontificating about – that were so shallow and wrong: 1) better to die a martyr’s death than support an evil regime and 2) being complicit leads to eternal damnation. If in the context of Met. Philip’s recent repose, which is the overall subject of this thread, GOAP was not backhandedly speculating about Sayidna’s eternal destiny, he gets an “F” for failure to communicate clearly.

              My comment on GOAP (and reply to Steve Knowlton) wasn’t a direct comparison of US and Syrian governments, but rather an attempt to show that the comparative evils of various governments is a far more nuanced and difficult question than the two simplistic pronouncements in that March Madness morning missive. That missive in its trumpeting brevity was a clear suggestion that the late Metropolitan should have arranged through bold confrontation to die much sooner at the hands of Assad pere or fils, rather than heart disease when his time came.

              I invited people to post from scripture or Tradition any justification they could find for the belief that an Orthodox Bishop’s Christian duty is to directly confront evil governments in a way that leads to martyrdom and avoids “eternal damnation” and trumps his duty to stay alive and take care of the flock. I hoped that our local expert Fr. Alexander Webster would have some specifics. So far we only have GOAP’s failed attempt to talk around (and justify) his own flawed pronouncements.

              His citations from the lives of saints are inapposite because they arise in the context of spiritual controversy with rulers who were either advocating heresy or persecuting Christians for their faith and killing the ones who stuck with it. Whatever wrongs the Assad regime has done, and I think we all have a general and accurate idea of what they were and are (I traveled there briefly once and felt very uncomfortable to be scrutinized by the secret police) I have never heard of them conducting official persecution of Christians or promotions of heresy, The saints and fathers didn’t go around confronting governments in general about their human rights records or the comparative wonders of the future American democracy. They lived honorable Christian lives as long as they could, and when called to die for it did so with as much faith and courage as they could muster. But they did not go around tilting at evil leader and spouting “give me liberty or give me death.”

              This is exactly what GOAP’s quote from the Apostolic Constitutions is saying: Christians must be ready to renounce all “if we be called to martyrdom to confess His precious name,” not the sake of a political idealism that is only tangentially, if at all, the business of ME Christians and their bishops.

              GOAP misunderstands my comments about the complexity of sorting out relative shades of grey (or black) of governments in their social context. Of course killing people is worse that misspending natural resources on fancy packaging. (But I wonder what the actual totals would be if someone were to compare realistic estimates of the state-sponsored and funded killing of the unborn in this country with the killing of citizens in Syria.)

              Let’s look also at the weak proof-texting that ends GOAP’s post. Once again nothing in that scattering of scripture that coherently supports the proposition that Met. Philip ought to have died a martyr’s death and avoided eternal damnation by denouncing that government instead of cooperating with it.

              Let’s look instead at a passage of scripture that DOES deal coherently with this issue, I Peter 2:13-17.
              It begins with the admonition “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution…” (NASV) It ends with the admonition “Honor the king.”

              What kind of kings would St. Peter have been thinking about? Probably those within his direct experience, i.e. the kind who persecuted, tortured and executed Incarnate Deity unjustly, and/or imprisoned Apostles before having them crucified upside down. How would those kings’ methods have compared with modern regimes? The lack of technical sophistication is the only point of divergence that comes readily to my mind.

              This isn’t the only example from scripture of how Apostles dealt with evil governments, but the failure to deal with the one I cite or ANY of the others exposes GOAP’s use of scripture as shallow grasping at straws to justify his overstatements in the March (31) Madness post. And that is strike three – his use of the lives of the saints, Apostolic Constitutions, and scripture all fail to support his contention that bishops ought to die as martyrs by giving priority to the denunciation of evil governments.

              And let’s pause just for a moment to notice how ridiculous it is for someone hiding behind a pseudonym to so shallowly snipe a scarcely-buried hierarch for supposed lack of courage!!!

              We could also shed light on the dilemma faced by all Christian leaders in the Islamic world by calling attention to the multi-millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives American leaders spent fighting alongside the armies defending the Church and Christ-hating regime of Stalin. Why? Because he was fighting Hitler, and we knew that one of the two had to lose, not that either one was a nice guy or good leader. I am not calling the current contenders in Syria Hitler or Stalin, but rather pointing out that only flawed, brutal choices present themselves in an area of the world which cannot so far seem to be managed by anything but brute force.

              I think there is also in some of the doubts or criticisms here of the way in which Met. Philip spoke of ME leaders and politics more than a hint of naive cultural misunderstanding. To my limited observation Middle Easterners seem to use words and praise differently in public discourse than Americans do.

              And no, I am not stumping for Met. Philip here either. He made his mistakes and had his blind spots. He said things about ME politics that I was uncomfortable with and would have preferred he hadn’t. The answer to that is not shallow, hasty, reactive critiques and pronouncements, however, but rather time, reflection, and study.


              Fr. George

      • Sam Haddad says

        See, here’s the thing. The canons of the church forbade clerics to engage in political activities. Now, realistically, Met. Philip was fully engaged with Mideast Arab politics and he knew all the players. Yet, it is clear as it was with Hitler and Stalin, that Quadafi, Saddam & Assad are/were mass murderers of Christians & Muslims. I am not going to judge Met. Philip, but his actions can be compared to those Christian hierarchs who hob-knobed with Hitler & Stalin. Let God judge. Mass murderers can’t be ignored or given a free pass for any reason. Assad should have been shot long ago.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Sam, please see Michael Baumann’s answer below. As for myself, I would only interject at this point that if our churchmen should abstain from shaking the hands of mass murderers, what are they doing attending fundraisers for pro-abortion politicians and/or giving out awards to them?

          • Christopher says

            Christ is in our midst!

            I was never able to meet our Father and Metropolitan, Philip of blessed memory. However, I’ve read much about him, and I see first hand the fruits of his vision and labor almost every day in the Archdiocese that I serve. Not having had the opportunity to meet him in person, I truly feel a loss that I will never be able to absorb some of his knowledge and faith.

            Back and forth about a man’s substance and beliefs can be healthy for all involved if we keep our own downfalls in the forefront. I know this is difficult for me.

            My biggest concern is that we will be slothful in doing our part in keeping His Eminences’ (and all of our reposed Bishops) memory eternal by not praying, forgetting his vision, and not continuing what he put in place. Indeed, this is my biggest concern.

            I recently re-listened to the Ancient Faith Radio interview with Met. Philip of blessed memory. As someone who grew up in this Church, I can honestly say I have never heard anyone speak so robustly, courageously, with such love and vision for the Church as His Eminence. May his memory be eternal – and may we pick up the banners of missionary zeal that he left, and continue his vision.

            It’s our move ..

            Fr. Dcn. Christopher.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Sam Haddad claims that the Holy Canons forbid clerics to engage in political activities. He castigates Ever-Memorable Metropolitan Philip for engaging in them. Every First Hierarch of every Local Church engages in political activities on the territory of his Church. In America, all our main hierarchs are encouraged to support publicly the campaigns of pro-life politicians. St. John Chrysostom engaged mightily in the politics of the East Roman Empire, even naming *****in Church****** the empress as Jezebel! Further, among others, Ever-Memorable Metropolitan Eulogios (Evlogy), then a diocesan bishop in Imperial Russia, was elected by popular vote to be a Deputy (like “congressman”) to the State Duma.
          it is the members of the ancient Christian communities of SYRIA, including, but not limited to the Faithful of the Antiochian Patriarchate, that are among the most vociferous defenders of the government of President Assad. It is the allies of Israel, on the other hand, who are among the most virulent opponents of the same President Assad, like the militant Jihadist and Islamists that likewise agree with Sam Haddad on that subject! The very largest and most protected of the Christian and Jewish communities in western Asia have been and are those of Iran and Syria. That is the “tie” between Syria and Iran that most infuriates Netanyahu. When israel attempted to inveigle all the remaining (and flourishing) Jewish communities in iran to leave Iran and move to Israel, Israel offered a reward of 25,000 dollars (American) per capita. This angered the Jews of Tehran and elsewhere in Iran who then offered 50,000 dollars (American) per capita to any Israel Jews that wished to emigrate to Iran! I ask SAm Haddad: Are the interests of American and Israeli power in the region more important than the fate of its ancient Christians? Metropolitan Philip, Sam, was on the side of the Holy Angels in this.

    • Tom Kanelos says

      Sadly, it became clear that the self-rule status didn’t really exist when the diocesan bishops were returned to the status of auxiliaries.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Tom, on the contrary, that reduction confirmed the self-rule status of the Archdiocese. It was Metropolitan Philip and his administration in Englewood that supported and support the status of diocesan bishops as it now exists! Or do you have concrete evidence that this was directed from the Patriarchate?

        • Steve Knowlton says

          We will never know what the Patriarchate “directed.” As you recall, in 2010, the Antiochians went through a controversy where it was claimed that the original documents related the “self-rule” (not autonomy!) were either mistranslated, or misunderstood, copies weren’t made. We may suspect, but we’ll never know what on earth required days of meetings and controversy to determine whether the Holy Synod of Antioch intended “auxiliary” back in 2003.

          What is unassailably true, documented to this day in the enthronement speeches of all the newly minted “diocesan” bishops in 2003, was that the creation of “Bishops” was inherently part of the “self-rule” status of the Archdiocese. In each speech, the newly enthroned bishop went to great pains to explain that not only the bishop was being elevated to ruling status, but the former “region” was becoming a genuine “diocese.” The creation of a Local Synod of actual voting bishops was part of the deal. When this happened, the concept of “auxiliary” or “assistant” was NEVER mentioned, not one time. It was only later, in 2010, that Philip reinterpreted “Self Rule” to mean that he had never intended there to be anything other than auxiliary bishops.

          You tell me: can a synod consist of one ruling bishop and 7 auxiliary bishops? It doesn’t sound “self-ruling” unless the “self” is +Philip.

          Sure, the “self-rule” was confirmed, but Truth in Advertising requires us to recognize that there was a major re-interpretation of what it meant. +Philip performed a complete 180 on the status of the bishops; it’s not hard to find the letter Bishop Basil wrote when he learned he was an auxiliary again.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            Self-rule has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STATUS OR PRIVILEGES OR AUTHORITY OF DIOCESAN BISHOPS WITHIN ANY SELF-RULING ENTITY. If an Archdiocese is self-ruling that means no one outside the Archdiocese rules it. Period. If all the bishops except Archbishop Philip had died suddenly, the Archdiocese would still be self-ruled.
            You asked this: “You tell me: can a synod consist of one ruling bishop and 7 auxiliary bishops? It doesn’t sound “self-ruling” unless the “self” is +Philip.”

            Answer is; YES.
            The Autocephalous Church of Sinai has only one bishop. It’s self-ruled.
            I think that the confusion arises because at the same time as self-rule was achieved/announced there was an unrelated development; the announcement that the auxiliary bishops would now rule dioceses within the Archdiocese; that is, there would be autonomous dioceses within the Archdiocese. But a selfruling Archdiocese needs to have only ONE central authority to do the ruling,whether it is a bishop or a council of bishops.

            • Tom Kanelos says

              Your Grace, let’s look at it this way, if the primate must be elected by a different synod than the “self ruling” synod, is it then not truly “self ruling”?

            • Steve Knowlton says

              Sadly, Bishop Tikhon, you are simply incorrect. The “confusion” did not exist until August of 2010.

              Consider only the Antiochians own words, circa 2006, on their own (Western Diocese) website:

              “In 2001, His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP and the General Assembly of the Antiochian Archdiocese petitioned the Patriarchate of Antioch for “Self-Rule” status. When this degree was awarded, the seven geographic regions became dioceses, each being provided with a ruling diocesan bishop.”

              That was the story we were told back in 2004 or so. I was Antiochian at the time, and the faithful emptied their pockets to go to banquets, enthronement ceremonies, and the like. This was a big deal that brought tears to the eyes. The Antiochian archdiocese would have all the dignity of the OCA’s autocephaly and the structure would be virtually parallel: a ruling metropolitan of WA DC, with ruling bishops in the various dioceses. It was a prelude to something big, even to the non-credulous.

              The careful reader will observe that today’s version of the same “History” has been rather crudely edited to omit the offending phrase. It now reads:

              “The growth of the Diocese is indeed characteristic of the Archdiocese. In 2001, His Eminence, Metropolitan PHILIP and the General Assembly of the Antiochian Archdiocese petitioned the Patriarchate of Antioch for “Self-Rule” status. When this degree was awarded in 2003, the seven geographic regions became dioceses.”

              That pesky “ruling bishop” phrase was deleted from the published history, as we all suspected it would be. The true understanding was retained through the October 17, 2010 version of the website, but on November 21, 2010, someone must have alerted the webmaster to the presence of the history, because, like Kamenev and Bukharin, the offending phrase was airbrushed away.

              The Word Magazine, in publishing news of the “self-rule” in 2004, stated that this was a historic change, the first and foremost was the “recognition of auxiliary bishops as diocesan bishops.” So again, the overall change to the Archdiocese, in the minds of everyone, was an upgrade of the auxiliaries and “regions” to “Diocesan Bishops” and “Dioceses.” Perhaps your Grace could edumacate us: in the antiochian church is there a Diocesan bishop that is a “Recognized Diocesan”, but not “Genuinely Diocesan.” Is “Diocesan” some sort of Ottoman honorific? Or is it perhaps just the normal way we refer to a ruling, voting, bishop?

              I’m surprised your Grace’s memory has failed you on this one. Luckily, the modern age is such that cached versions of websites are preserved so that any of you can confirm the falsification for yourselves.

              It will be very interesting to see if, now that +Philip is not around to defend his version of the “Self Rule,” if the new bishops will slowly regularize their status back to what it actually was when they were enthroned. Consider only the words of Bishop Basil at the time:

              “What, Sayyidna, did my brothers and I do that resulted in our being so humiliated as to be summarily reduced from enthroned diocesan bishops to mere auxiliaries? And because I – like you and all members of the Holy Synod – publicly pledged on the day of episcopal consecration to ‘confess, accept and defend’ the sacred canons, I ask which of those sacred canons permit such an action to be taken without formal charges being brought?”

              • Michael Bauman says

                ….and the rest of the story: Bishop Basil went to Damascus and met with the Holy Synod and came back reconciled to what had occurred while continuing to serve his diocese as before. Functionally, there was no change. But his Grace Bishop Basil is a humble and obedient man who has not uttered one public word since returning from Damascus that questions the change. He just continued to do the work that God put before him, teaching all of us by example to love God and each other before anything else. The parishes of his Diocese continue to grow in numbers and in faith. +Basil’s joy has never faltered.

                When I thanked him recently for his leadership, he simply said, “The people of this diocese make it easy.”

                My brother Steve, it makes no difference what happened then or why. God can and will be victorious no matter what. Let not your heart continue to be troubled by it (and believe me I was as angry as you at the time, God forgive me). It was Bishop Basil himself in the midst of all of that who put me on the right track by telling me to hold on to my peace.

                Give glory to God for all things and never cease offering thanks.

                “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118 KJV

                I have found that Psalm to be a wonderful Lenten mediation BTW.

                • Steve Knowlton says

                  I quoted Bishop Basil’s letter not because I have any particular sympathy for him, or admiration for his forbearance either. It was merely evidence that the bishops themselves *thought* they were ruling bishops.

              • Sam Haddad says

                With Met. Philip gone, all will change. The “Self-Ruled” stuff will mean very little. The next Met will be an old country Arab lackey. The American-born Arab bishops will be marginalized along with any and all converts. Immigration of of the Syrians will be massive in the next 5 years and the Antiochian Archdiocese will move backward. Too bad. Both Met. Philip and Arbp. Iakavos had their chance to unite the American Church in the 1970’s, but chose ethnocentrism instead. Here we are, stagnated, fragmented and the Epis. Ass’ provide nothing.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Steve Knowlton, you wrote this: ” When this degree was awarded, the seven geographic regions became dioceses, each being provided with a ruling diocesan bishop.””
                Please read that carefully, Steve. “When” means “at the same time or right after it. It does not mean, ‘the decree included the provision that….’
                I didn’t forget all the press releases and published spin put on the granting of autonomous status to the North American Archdiocese. All that published material was partly wishful thinking and partly deception. However, I hadn’t realized the immensity of the Antiochian Archdiocese’s ENVY of the OCA until I read that stuff!
                Self-ruled denotes only a quality of independent rule, it has NOTHING to do with the organization or definition of dioceses.d So many gullible people!
                Self rule, Steve, allowed the ruler, Metropolitan Philip, to reorganize the archdiocese as he saw fit. It authorized him to approve the inner administration of his self-ruled Archdiocese as HE saw fit, but there was nothing in the granting of self-rule by Antioch that directed or determined that districts with his vicars in charge had to be turned into dioceses with ruling bishops.
                SO much wishful thinking, Steve!

                • So when the website heading proclaims “Self Ruled”, it refers not to the assembly of the bishops of the archdiocese headed by the Metropolitan, but rather “His Own Damn Self” in an American phrase. They dress like the emperor but aren’t as imperial as the imperious Philip was. What exactly are these “bishops” now that their is no “Self” to rule them all? Are there other times in history when this was understood the way Philip had it? I don’t know, so maybe it’s typical.

                • Steve Knowlton says

                  Well, as the “milleninals” would say… “Dude, wait… what?”

                  In short, as Reagan used to say, you believe in so much that “just isn’t so.”

                  Fact: the most august Synod of Antioch passed a resolution, translated and published in the November 2003 Word magazine, clearly dictating that the current auxiliary bishops would be recognized as diocesan.

                  Fact: everyone understood that the bishops would become Diocesan as directed by Resolution. No one thought that +Philip had substantial prerogatives to reduce diocesan bishops to auxiliaries.

                  Curiously, the “Resolution” does not grant the Metropolitan any powers or dignities. Also, the Resolution specified that all the language surrounding nomination and election of DIOCESAN bishops shall be incorporated into the Constitution of the Archdiocese.

                  So, yes, the “degree” is more than just “when.”

                  Fact: Phillip was free to organize the Archdiocese BEFORE the Self-Rule, so, again, if you are correct, if “self-rule” basically hands total discretion to reorganize the Archdiocese, then what was the big deal? Why negotiate for two-three years to obtain what he already had?

                  To be honest, now that +Philip has passed away, it is the Holy Synod of Antioch that may have just achieved “Self-Rule.” Seriously, I suspect this is a huge relief; now they can get someone in there that isn’t so difficult to manage.

                  At the end of the day, regardless of what the churchmen in Damascus thought, what is unconscionable is the idea that the bishops didn’t realize they weren’t diocesan bishops for several years. That would be like a local priest thinking he was the rector when he’s not, or a new bride realizing she’s just a concubine. Or a CEO realizing he’s just a secretary. And so on. And again, I don’t really feel sorry for the bishops, all of this is merely to support Tom Kanelos’ point that the self-rule was completely unwound in 2010, mostly to deliver ethnic clergy from their torments under an American(ized) bishop. This is why I pointed out in another post that the archdiocese was to some degree held together by his volcanic will; even if it meant throwing his peers under the bus.

                  “Deceptive”… nice word for it.

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    The decree did not DIRECT that districts become dioceses and that bishops stopped being merely titular, It INFORMED what was happening concurrently with the status of “self-rule.’

                    Whoever came up with the idea of using a term like “self-ruled’ officially should be hanged, drawn, quartered and buried in unconsecrated ground.
                    Perhaps some foreign person thought the abominable term was more “American” than “autonomous”, which applies historically to Local CHURCHES, not archdioceses or dioceses.
                    SOMEONE wanted to insinuate that the Archdiocese had, in fact, become an independent
                    Church—“same as that snotty OCA.” .

                    • Steve Knowlton says

                      No, you’re just not syncing with the written documents. It was resolved that all those things would happen. It was all one package.

                      +Philip wanted true autonomy and couldn’t get it. So he or someone trying to please him came up with self rule. As of the January 2003 Word magazine they were still interchangeably using “autonomy.” This was perhaps just before people realized that there was a big difference.

                      Here is the quote below the signatures of the Metropolitans approving the Resolution which DIRECTED the recognition of auxiliaries as Diocesan bishops:

                      “We give thanks to God, that He has worked through Patriarch IGNATIUS and the Holy Synod of Antioch to answer the prayers of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America for autonomy. This autonomy is all that we had prayed and hoped for. May God grant our holy leadership many years and bless the autonomous Antiochian Orthodox Church in North America.”

                    • I’m looking through the Service Book translated by Isabel Hapgood, republished with the endorsement of Met Philip in 1983. Pages 327-28 in the service for consecrating a bishop doesn’t make any reference I can find to making a man anything other than a garden variety bishop. No italicized passage mentions “If it be an auxiliary or titular bishop consecrated..” to change the service or anything. Is it right to conclude that a bishop is a bishop? What canons allowed Met Philip to make a “real” one a “titular” one with a pen? What would allow a patriarch to do that? Are there formal ways a diocese stops being one? I recall someone many years ago saying to the Met that some thing or another was not in keeping with the typicon. He was supposed to have said “I am the typicon”. Well, OK, but the book he blessed to be used in his churches doesn’t seem to make the distinctions he made between the men elevated to bishop. And they were made in Damascus. Presumably with the same service.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Hey Bob! You may wish to go through Metropolitan isaiah’s diocesan newletter, whatever it’s called. a while back he said very authoritatively that a diocese “does not have to have anyone in it.”
                      That’s because, Bob, the Sacred Synod of Constantinople did not allow until very recently ANY of its members except the Patriarch to belong who had a real, rather than a titular diocese. And until late in my own life, the GOA bishops were ALL titular bishops of historical cities which not only had no Orthodox Christians in them, but no people at all. They were like German Lutheran bishops; area superintendants, but not ruling bishops. I think ever-memorable Bishop Anthony, administering the San Francisco DISTRICT, was Bishop of the Dodecanese or Twelve Islands. Archbishop Iakovos ruled ‘the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans! Even today a Bishop in an Old CalendarIST outfit (His Grace, Bishop Sergius (Black) (who has posted here) has been ‘Bishop of Loch Lomond,” which surely warms the hearts of those who love the poetry of Bobby Burns!

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I think that reasonable men can agree that having titular bishops of extinct cities is an absurdity? The Phanar must think so because why did they “elevate” the GOA bishops to “metropolitans of Chicago/etc.”

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      George, I think you are in error when you write something like this; “I think that reasonable men can agree that having titular bishops of extinct cities is an absurdity? The Phanar must think so…”
                      Are you saying that the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Holy Synod of Constantinople or the “Phanar” are NOT reasonable men? Why, then, I ask, are the majority of the members of the Sacred Synod titular hierarchs with no dioceses to rule?

        • Tom Kanelos says

          Your Grace, I respectfully disagree. But keep in mind it could be that the desire for diocesan bishops to be returned to the status of auxiliary was the desire of both +Philip and The Patriarch of Antioch. It certainly was a step away from a more ecclesiologically correct practice of a bishop being sovereign in his diocese.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            Tom Kanelos, you respectfully disagreed with my message of August 3rd, 12:27 pm, but you did not indicate what it was with which you disagreed. I’d like to know.

            The Church of Japan and the Church of Ukraine are “self-ruled” , i.e., autonomous. One might say they are a law unto themselves, but they are not automatically autocephalous. Autonomous Churches are always subordinate to another (i.e., autocephalous) Church in the naming of their First Hierarch, or ‘head’ or ‘primate.’ . The heads of the Ukrainian and Japanese Churches must be confirmed by the Russian Church. Nevertheless, they are self-ruling, self-administering. With the grant of autonomy, a Church receives the blessing to organize itself as it sees fit. If the decree granting self-rule included a provision telling how the self-ruled church must be organized, that is the opposite of self-rule. it is the Self-Ruled Church that must decide on its own organization.

            The Antiochian Archdiocese exceeds all other Orthodox entities in America in the energy, power, and quality of its PR work. This is most certainly true.

            • Tom Kanelos says

              Your Grace, I agree with you that “autonomous” and “autocephalous” are not the same thing. But by your own statement an autonomous Church can organize itself how it wishes. Why then did the Holy Synod of Antioch interfere in the “organization” of true diocese?

              By your commenting on the Ukrainian Church and the Japanese Church, we can say the same for the GOA and each of the Metropolises in the GOA. You mentioned in another post that it was only quite recently that the GOA actually had something other than titular bishops. It was in fact in 1979 that the “diocesan Districts” became actual “Diocese” with, for example, (then) Bishop Iakovos being Bishop of Chicago. When the archdiocese was again reorganized, it was reorganized along the lines of the Self governing Church of Crete with an Archbishop and ruling Metropolitans.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Tom, I did NOT say the Self-governing or autonomous North American Antiochian Archdiocese was a self-governing CHURCH. it is not, and has never been designated as such, although many may have wanted to allow others to think that the words “self-governing’ indicated that Archdiocese WAS A Church. In blessing the use of the term “self-governing”, I can’t imagine that the Patriarch or His Synod imagined they were giving up any prerogatives to Englewood, but were condescending to something the equivalent of a Miter for a parish priest or a authorizing the wear of two pectoral crosses, and that their graciousness was subject to reversal at any time.
                I see my mistake, though. 1979 is still, to me, “recent’, believe it or not.My bad. That was one year after I had to leave the Diaconate behind….

                • Steve Knowlton says

                  You can’t imagine it? Whoa. Sure you realize that some things can exist beyond your knowledge or imagination. I’m just sayin’.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                An autonomous of Self-Ruling Church administers its own internal affairs, but is not completely independent. Instead an autonomous Church is still part of an autocephalous Church and subject its the Holy Synod and Primate. An autocephalous Church is completely independent. Like other autonomous Orthodox Churches, The Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America elects its own local Bishops, but not its Primate. The Primate of an autonomous Church must be approved by the Holy Synod of its mother Church. In the case of the Antiochian Archdiocese, the General Assembly of our national convention nominates three candidates for the episcopacy. If the new Bishop is to be a local Bishop, the Local Synod of Bishops of our Archdiocese elects one of the three to the Episcopate. If the new Bishop is to be the Metropolitan Primate of the Archdiocese, the Holy Synod of Antioch will elect one of the three nominees. The names of all clergy who meet the eligibility requirements are placed on the ballot. We could nominate one of our local Bishops to be Primate, but we could also nominate a Priest. In addition to the canonical requirements for election to the episcopacy, a candidate for a Bishop or Metropolitan of the Antiochian Archdiocese must have served in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

  3. Sam Haddad says
  4. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    Years ago, while doing research in the archives of the Antiochian Archdiocese, I learned that Metropolitan Philip frequently acted as a channel for unofficial communications between the Middle Eastern leaders including the Syrian government and the U.S. government. Until Clinton, every time that his Eminence went to the Middle East, he met either with the President or an official of the US State Department who gave him messages to take to various Middle Eastern leaders. When he returned he made a report on his visit and the response to the messages. So you should be careful before you criticize his contacts with Middle Eastern leaders, because he used them to benefit the United States.

  5. Sean Richardson says

    As one humble convert, I mourn the loss of Met. Philip. Several times I had the opportunity to speak with him and he always stuck me as a man who lived in the world, but was not of the world. He had a vision of God’s Kingdom and he was willing to include others in the task of conversion and of peace. It is not easy being a leader of any large body of people, because often the reality of leadership far out-weighs the idealism that exists outside of leadership. How many times have we seen leaders take steps that we don’t understand. Obama promised that he would close Gitmo, but once in office he found that it couldn’t be done, and it is still open. Many ROCOR bishops supported Hitler because he was anti-Communist (“my enemy’s enemy is my friend”); several PM tried to make peace with the Communists; many EP have tried to make peace with the Muslim leadership of Turkey; over and over again we see that leadership is a heavy burden. Rather than criticizing leaders, of which I am definitely not one, I would rather pray for them, as is done each week in the Divine Liturgy, in every church. We do not see what leaders see, nor hear what they hear or even deal with what they have to deal with. I pray for Met. Philip and for the Antiochian Archdiocese. The choice of the next leader is a very difficult one, and we can only pray that God’s will be done, that His Holy Spirit fills the election process and an inspired metropolitan is found, who can be in the world, but not of it.

  6. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    The real problem is that Americans do not realize that Jeffersonian Democracy cannot be imposed from above on a people who are unprepared for it. We can go back to Wilson whose efforts to remake Germany according to his idea of what Germany should and made the promises to the German democratic leaders that he could not keep because of the desire of the French and British for revenge. Wilson’s ill conceived policies only led to the chaos that made Hitler and World War II Possible. Perhaps had the U.S. not pressured Kerensky to keep Russia in World War I, Lenin might not have come to power. Then there is the useless slaughter of over 58,000 young Americans in Vietnam for nothing because Johnson and his team of advisers not only lied to the American people about the Gulf of Tonkin, they had no understanding of the history of the region.
    Now we are doing the same thing in the Middle East. It takes a strong and ruthless leader to keep the radical Muslims under control. You cannot have democracy if the majority does not respect the rights of the minority. Muslims do no respect the rights of anyone else but Muslims, because they consider a barbaric 7th century law code divinely inspired. We would be barbarians too if we still followed the laws of King Alfred the Great, but Western civilization has advanced. Islamic civilization has not.
    For some reason our American foreign policy establishment has a contempt for our Orthodox religion. Remember Kosovo where the US supported the Muslim Albanians against the Serbian Christians. Before that, remember Cyprus where the US supported Muslim Turkey against the Orthodox Greeks. Look at what has happened to the Christians of Iraq since the U.S. invaded. The rebels in Syria supported by our government have paved the way for the radical Islamization of Syria. Already, the rebels are imposing Sharia law on Christians in areas under their control, including the requirement that Christians pay tribute (jizya) to their Muslim superiors. They have desecrated our Churches, kidnapped nuns, and attacked the ancient monasteres of Sadnaya and Mloula. We still do not know what has happened to Metropolitan Paul and Bishop John of Alepo. Obama’s policy may very well lead to the destruction of Christianity in Syria. Ask the Copts about what his policies did to them.
    From a purely human rights point of view Zionism is one of the last gasps of European Imperialism. Had the French and British given the former subjects of the Ottoman Empire the same right of national self-determination that they gave to the former subjects of the Habsburg Empire, the history of that part of the world would have been radically different. Instead, we give unconditional support to Israel, which daily violates the basic human rights of the Palestinian people.
    As far as democracy is concerned, do we really have a well functioning democracy here in America? We have a President who rules by decree like a fascist dictator, ignores both the constitution and the will of Congress, and tells one lie after another for his own political benefit. “If you like your health plan you can keep it.” He and his administration has no respect for the religious freedom of Christians who do not want to pay for abortion causing drugs, including Catholic nuns. Our press and educational institutions are dominated by political correctness and demonize anyone who dares to challenge the dogma of political correctness, especially when it comes to abortion, the definition of marriage and traditional Christian morality. Therefore before we criticize others, we should get our own house in order.

  7. Michael Bauman wrote: “I, in my climate controlled home, office, car and parish with no guns pointed at me and consuming far more food, drink and entertainment than is good for me even in the midst of the Great Fast, can say nothing about the decisions made by my suffering brothers and sisters in Christ…”

    Be patient. Hope & Change have yet to run their full course in America. If God is kind to us, perhaps we also may one day soon have the moral footing to properly measure the experiences of our Orthodox brothers & sisters in other parts of the world. On the other hand, just because we have not gone through the same experiences as others who may have suffered (& died) for their beliefs, it does not follow that we necessarily lack the means of evaluating their decisions.

    Horrific things have happened to Christians in Syria. In fact, if the accounts are true, Christians have recently been treated in such a way as to be a fulfillment of Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones. Not only have they simply been killed and tortured. But by the scores, many have been hacked limb-from-limb, bodies left to decompose on the ground under the Syrian sun. I’ve read this is official practice among some of the Islamic terrorist groups at work in that part of the world.

    Where are our ecclesiastical politicians in the face of such a nightmare? Being discreet I imagine. If indeed, Bp. Joseph (sincerely) wishes to only go to a monastery, he may be wanting the right thing. Time will tell.

    • Longue Carabine says

      Yes, “if the accounts are true”. Tell us, are the accounts true?

      I am willing to believe they are true, if they are true.

  8. Someone wrote: *Yes, “if the accounts are true”. Tell us, are the accounts true? I am willing to believe they are true, if they are true.*

    One would need to determine for oneself if the various accounts are true. Simply using basic human logic for instance. If one were to see a video account of a group from one Muslim sect executing 15-20 fellow-Muslims from a different Muslim sect in cold blood (courtesy Al-Jazera)… well, decide for yourself.

    I’ve read accounts of Syrian Christians being slaughtered, then butchered like cattle, heads, legs, arms hacked off, left in a field so nearly no identification is possible. We read about the tortures & death of Early Christians. But 2000 years have sanitized the reality of what they went through. This is now. It’s different.

    The Syrian Church doesn’t need another high-powered, earthy, metroplitan politician. They need a saint.

  9. Sam Haddad says

    40th Day Trisagion Prayers for Metropolitan Philip

    As per the instructions from His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina, Patriarchal Vicar for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:

    Since the fortieth day of the repose of Metropolitan Philip of thrice-blessed memory coincides with Thomas Sunday (a day on which memorials may not be served), Fortieth Day Trisagion Prayers of Mercy for Metropolitan Philip are to be prayed (with kollyva) in all cathedrals, parish church temples, and monasteries of our Archdiocese on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women, May 4, 2014.

    ***This is exactly why a hierarch like Met. Silouan cannot be in charge. His theology is flawed. St. Thomas Sunday is exactly the proper time for memorials for Met. Philip. It is on St. Thomas Sunday all the Slavic churches go to grave yards to remember their dead IN LIGHT OF THE RESURRECTION. This is the proper time to remember Met. Philip and celebrate his entrance into the Kingdom of God.

    • Monk James says

      Sam Haddad (April 5, 2014 at 10:25 am) says:

      ‘….Fortieth Day Trisagion Prayers of Mercy for Metropolitan Philip are to be prayed (with kollyva) in all cathedrals, parish church temples, and monasteries of our Archdiocese on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women, May 4, 2014.’

      ***This is exactly why a hierarch like Met. Silouan cannot be in charge. His theology is flawed. St. Thomas Sunday is exactly the proper time for memorials for Met. Philip. It is on St. Thomas Sunday all the Slavic churches go to grave yards to remember their dead IN LIGHT OF THE RESURRECTION. This is the proper time to remember Met. Philip and celebrate his entrance into the Kingdom of God.

      Actually, russian (at least) practice is to hold memorial services and visit graves on the Tuesday after St Thomas Sunday. This day is named Radonitsa, or ‘Day of Rejoicing’ (in the resurrection of Christ, which prefigures our own resurrection).

      Orthodox tradition prohibits funerals and memorials on Sunday altogether except in unusual or urgent circumstances. A funeral or memorial may ordinarily be sung in church on Saturdays anytime before the Evening Service, and on Sundays after the Evening Service, which is by then liturgical Monday.

      • Sam Haddad says

        M. James,
        The Typikon may say one thing, however, in most Russian parishes, you will find parish priests going to the cemeteries on the afternoon of St. Thomas Sunday when entire families are in attendance. According to the Typikon, we should never have memorials or pray for the dead on the The Day of Resurrection, Sunday. The celebration of anyone’s death during the Resurrectional period is not filled with music and hymns of a dirge, but of Resurrection. In fact, the Orthodox Church should re-write the entire funeral service for all times as a celebration of the Resurrection; white robes not black; the Resurrection Canon; etc. And although + Silouan’s dictate may serve the Letter of the Law, for the former Archpastor of the Antiochian Archdiocese, St. Thomas Sunday would have been most appropriate.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Sam and Monk James: The faithful departed are commemorated at every single
          Divine Liturgy ever served in the Orthodox Church since St. Basil and St. John compiled the ordo for them. Every Priest doing the proskomede on the day of the Resurrection, whether it be an ordinary Sunday or the very Day of Pascha, commemorates by name the Faithful departed (See pp 250-251 of the Antiochian Archdiocese’s “Liturgikon.). Further ( although this is a part of the Divine Liturgy piously and surgically excised from the Divine Liturgy by the inspired authorities in many non-Russian parishes according to an apparently more “enlightened” Typikon) in the Litany of Fervent Supplication found on pp 268 and 269 of the same “Liturgicon”, we pray, “Again we pray for the blessed and ever-memorable founders of this holy church (and for the servants of God,NN….”
          Mr. Sam Haddad apparently was unaware of how according to the Typikon we ALWAYS pray for the dead on The Day of Resurrection, Sunday!
          I wouldn’t care to analyze the decrees of an hierarch of whom I know nothing, but I think any charitable person should not imagine that Metropolitan Silouan is just “full of himself’, but that the Patriarchate of Antioch has its own ancient and traditional typikon through which they may ignore the texts of the Liturgies of Saint Basil the Great and Saint John Chrysostom which require praying for the dead at every service of them. A charitable person (I’m definitely not one of them) might say the Metropolitan suffered from ‘jet lag.’
          I’m sure, at any rate, that Metropolitan Silouan would not direct the clergy of the Antiochian Archdiocese not to commemorate Metropolitan Philip in the Divine Liturgy, even every day (or every day except the 40th).

          • Monk James says

            Bp Tikhon is missing the point.

            Of COURSE there are these (semi-) private remembrances even on Sundays, but there are NOT funerals and memorial services sung on Sundays except in the most unusual circumstances.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              “Mk. James”, the Litany after the Gospel is not private, nor is it semi-private. Now you actually ignored what I clearly wrote relative to commemoration of the departed on the Lord’s Day into something only about funerals and memorial services. The basic rule that was cited in order to forbid a funeral was that COMMEMORATION OF THE DEPARTED IS NOT APPROPRIATE ON SUNDAY. That, Mk. James is the point that I made and that you cannot refute. YOU missed that point.
              Next someone is going to indicate they didn’t know that St. John got his Revelation on Pascha, when he was KNEELING. He was not kneeling in self-abnegation and penitence which the Canon forbids, but kneeling in adoration and worship.
              If it is wrong to have funerals and memorial services served on Sundays, why? Please don’t say the Liturgy is wrong…I believe St. John’s revelation included seeing the inhabitants of heaven where it is ALWAYS Pascha, falling down in worship (but not repentance).

              I’ve learned that those who most loudly pooh-pooh and disparage those who are inflexible about some rubrics and aspects of the Typikon are themselves almost MILITANTLY and VOCIFEROUSLY and INFLEXIBLY ready at every time and every hour to inveigh with indignation against what they imagine are the most important rubrics ever created; No Kneeling On Sunday, and No Remembrance of the Departed in CHURCH on Sunday!
              There was once even a hierarch (not OCA) who told the women in one of his parishes that they were wrong to cover their heads with cloths and scarves while claiming they are following the example of the Theotokos. He told them that only when they attained to the Holiness of the Theotokos should they so cover their heads. That official, no doubt, would agree with the recent enlightened (!) decree relative to commemorating Metropolitan Philip on the 40th day after his repose because that 40th day falls on Thomas Sunday.
              And some wonder why so many have left our Church. They’ve been led to believe they are considered ignorant and old-world and lack discernment.

            • GOAPriest says

              Yes, Father, it seems he has forgotten about the struggle of the venerable Kollyvades Fathers. Unfortunately we seem to have lost the battle, at least in the GOA.

              But innovations are lauded all over the place, even on this blog by priests of the Orthodox Church.

              Truly sad.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                The Kollyvades were right on some things, but wrong on others. They were right to emphasize frequent Confession and Communion, but wrong on the reception of converts and wrong to make such a big thing over Memorial Services on Sundays. I know of no Orthodox jurisdiction that forbids Memorial Services on Sundays. I do not know what text of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom you use, but the text in the Antiochian Liturgikon and on the web site of the Greek Archdiocese has has a place for the commemoration of the departed in the Anaphora. All Orthodox also put pieces on the diskos in memory of the departed. Antiochians also commemorate the departed during the Great Entrance.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          I just looked at the English translation of the Typikon which is used in the Patriarchate of Antioch which is a translation of the Typikon of Constantinople and found no rule against Memorial Services on Sundays.

    • GOAPriest says

      I actually found this news refreshing and hopeful.

    • Isa Almisry says

      “This is exactly why a hierarch like Met. Silouan cannot be in charge. His theology is flawed. St. Thomas Sunday is exactly the proper time for memorials for Met. Philip. It is on St. Thomas Sunday all the Slavic churches…”
      why would we care what the Slavic Churches do? Arabs aren’t Slavs (not that there is anything wrong with being a Slav. Heaven forbid! I prefer their rubrics).

  10. Michael Bauman says

    For those who want to know more than what exists in the confines of their own imaginings on the election of a new Metropolitan for the Antiochian Archdiocese:

    Met. Silouan came up from Argentina to St. George in Wichita, Ks right after Pascha to celebrate the Feast of St. George with us and bless the monastery of St. Silouan that is beginning here and, of course to meet with Bishop Basil, but also with the rest of us. He is warm, delightful man who at a very young age (late 40’s) has accumulated a great deal of life experience as well as pastoral wisdom. (He came into the parish hall after Paschal Vespers to bless the meal hand-in-hand with the two year old daughter of one of the priests smiling and speaking to her as a for instance).

    On his job:

    1. To make certain that the archdiocese is functioning in proper order. To do that he met with all of the heads of the various departments and the Board of Trustees. He said that he is satisfied that all is in order. Anything more will have to be taken up after the new Metropolitan is installed. It is not Met. Silouan’s job to change anything as long as it is in good order.

    2. To make certain that the Constitution of the Archdiocese is followed in the election of our next Patriarch. Steps:
    A. The Board of Trustees and the Local Synod will meet in mid May to develop a list of possible candidates and their qualifications. He ruled out, doctors, lawyers and himself and anybody outside of Antioch.
    B. A special Archdiocesan convention will be held in Chicago at the beginning of June (approx. 1500 delegates laity and clergy) to vote on the list of candidates and pare it down to three.
    C. Those three names will be submitted to the Holy Synod to elect one of the three (the one who gets the most votes is the new Metropolitan).

    He expects that to happen sometime by mid-July.

    3. He called us all to faith, hope and trust in God. If we didn’t trust him that was OK, but we could and should trust God. He also called us all not to speculate as part of that trust.

    He also commented on the situation in Syria, especially Aleppo where he served for many years before going to Argentina. He is still in touch with the people there. Aleppo is under siege with little food, water or other resources. Yet, the managed to celebrate Pascha and realize the hope and joy of the Paschal event–in new ways perhaps, but the hope is still amongst them. Further he said that Christians suffer like this to give hope to others.

    Met. Silouan wants to get his job done and get back to his people in Argentina. He wants us to have an arch-pastor as quickly as we can following our own constitution. He is touring all of the Diocese with multiple stops in some to bring us the message of what is being done (as far as he can) and how we can support it.

    BTW there were 18 priests, 4 deacons, 2 lay monks, 4 chanters, 1 sub-deacon and 2 bishops at the Paschal Vespers. Of those 31 well over half are converts about 70% of the priests. Of the life-long Orthodox, two are Greek. Several of those of Arabic descent don’t speak Arabic–one of those has a wife who is Aleut.

    Just don’t see the validity of all the doom and gloom.

  11. Michael Bauman says

    I’m just thinking of the pastoral responsibility that Met. Silouan has taken on: His flock in Argentina, his former flock in Aleppo and now us, even if for a short time. He obviously cares for all of us and prays for all of us. He is a bishop.

    May the Holy Spirit lead us and grace us with a Metropolitan to continue the work Met. Philip began and take it further.