Metropolitan Philip Saliba – May His Memory be Eternal


Monomakhos just heard a little over an hour ago that His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Primate of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America has fallen asleep in the Lord.

I will ask indulgence of you Dear Reader as I am in the process of writing something commensurate with the man. No doubt I will fail in the task but bear with me anyway as we try to sift through the meaning of his life and legacy. More will be written later on as time and events warrant.

Metropolitan Philip was the Dean of American Orthodoxy, of this, there can be no doubt. He came into this role because of the unfortunate and ill-advised expulsion of Archbishop Iakovos Coucouzis of the GOA, who viewed him as an equal and a visionary. Even under such an inauspicious start, there was no doubt that he rose to the task and became the preeminent figure in North American Orthodoxy. Some may scoff and say that that bar is an exceedingly low one. Even if true, there is no doubt that his accomplishments would still place him in the top tier of hiearchs even if men of greater stature populated the ranks of the American episcopate.

It is not too much to say that it was he more than anybody else who changed the face of Orthodoxy in America. Some may look askance at the audacity of such an assertion –didn’t Iakovos put Orthodoxy on the map when he marched with Dr Martin Luther King? Indeed he did. But Iakovos was not allowed to finish his ministry in a justifiable way; thus his legacy will be forever diminished.

Of course he had his critics. Yours Truly on occasion took him to task for one or two things. No doubt, he made mistakes. He valued loyalty and as long as one was loyal, he had your back. I don’t fault him for that, there are few worse things than ingratitude. He took big chances and he led his archdiocese into uncharted territory. He could do this because he was a man of tremendous faith, and though he thought deeply about his actions –measuring twice, cutting once as they say–in the end he was able to go ahead regardless of the consequences. He was not one for half-measures. In retrospect, his faith in the Gospel stands in sharp contrast to the Byzantine intrigues that the Phanar played when they used bait-and-switch tactics with the Evangelicals.

And then of course, there was Ligonier, quite possibly the high point of American Orthodoxy. It couldn’t have happened without his strong hand at the helm.

A master strategist, he always kept his eye on the big picture. He picked his battles carefully and as a result he won every one. He wasn’t always up to snuff on rubrics and what many of the more rigorous among us would consider correct protocols but that didn’t matter. Early on he saw that the Episcopal Assembly was a sham and would ultimately implode because of its internal contradictions. Regardless, he was a team player and went along for the ride for appearance’s sake. Luckily, events have proven him correct.

More can be said. He had an unerring sense for choosing talent. The explosion in growth for his archdiocese is a testament to that. He also could spot troublemakers and was adept at getting rid of them. Bad ideas didn’t stand a chance in his presence. As Fr Patrick Reardon has commented on my blog, when a gay activist spoke up at a public setting about homosexuality, Philip cut him off at the knees, saying “we don’t discuss abominations.” He certainly wasn’t a hostage to political correctness.

Likewise, he pulled the Antiochian archdiocese out of the National Council of Churches. He saw that it had degenerated into an odious organization more concerned with fads-of-the-moment rather than the Gospel. He didn’t suffer fools, or foolish ideas gladly.

Sleep beckons. I will close by saying that his death is one of those monumental events in American Orthodoxy. To my mind his repose is more epochal than that of any other American (or American-based) hierarch. It will be felt more keenly than the deaths of the other Primates, of this I am confident. Perhaps among his signal accomplishments will be his ability to leave behind an intact and vibrant archdiocese, one forged in his image. If the Antiochian archdiocese continues his legacy then it will continue to be the main source of creativity and growth in North America.

May his memory be eternal.


  1. Steve Knowlton says

    The real test will be how much of his… edifice… will remain within a few years. I suspect very little. Sure, he had a big impact, but a lot of the archdiocese was held together by force of his fiery and mercenary will. Or duct tape. I could never tell.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I would ask at this point that all commentary be respectful. Only constructive criticism will be published.

      (Fr John Morris, I accidentally deleted your comment; would you be so kind as to republish it? Thanks Geo.)

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        Words fail me when I try to find a way to express my deep sense of personal loss. If one looks at what he has accomplished for the Antiochian Arcdiocese, it is amazing. He will go down in history as one of the greatest leaders in the history of American Orthodoxy. Whenever, I had the privilege to speak to him one on one, he always made me feel as I were the most important person in the world to him. When I made mistakes, he was always fair to me. He will be missed.
        When I think what the Antiochian Archdiocese was 34 years ago when I was ordained and how it is today, it is apparent that God blessed us by giving us Metropolitan Philip. The number of parishes and missions has tripled, We have not just one camp, but a camp in every diocese for our children. When all other Orthodox leaders lost their courage, Metropolitan Philip had the foresight to take in the Evangelical Orthodox. We were one Bishop and a guest Bishop, now we have 8. We had an incomplete liturgical cycle. Now we have a complete observance of all the services instead of “greatest hits from Orthros” followed by the Liturgy, with feast days moved to Sunday. Now we observe the feast day on the feast day, and have a series of beautifully done and complete service books.
        He had his critics, and I am sure that he made mistakes, but all visionaries have critics and sometimes make mistakes. However, the great things that he did for Orthodoxy and the Antiochian Archdiocese cannot be numbered.
        I think that his most important contribution was that he had a vision of an American Church, that respected the ethnic heritage of the foreign born, but was open and welcoming to converts. He had the courage to break out of the ethnic ghetto that so many Orthodox keep us in and to realize that we are not here to duplicate 19th century Russia or Greece, but to make America Orthodox in the 21 century. He had the wisdom to understand the important difference between Holy Tradition and customs. He once told me, “I am dogmatic about the dogma of the Church.”

        May his memory be eternal.

        Archpriest John W. Morris

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Thanks, George. I agree. You can’t be too careful here or too optimistic about what some may write.
        I’m still recovering from an almost obscene declaration by our Peter A. Papoutsis that went like this:

        “So like I said getting at the truth in any dispute is NOT THE AIM! The aim is coming to a resolution.”

        I request that you establish some ground rules that establish that we are, indeed, seeking the truth, rather than any resolution of anything. Coming to a resolution does not glorify God: worshipping Him in Spirit and in
        Truth DOES.
        I think Metropolitan Philip of blessed memory might agree with that.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Oh my! Well, at least my statement was ALMOST obscene. Dodged a bullet on that one.


    • Michael Bauman says

      Steve, so incredibly insightful, graceful and kind of you. May the journey of Lent lead you the foot of the Cross.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Michael, please don’t chastise Steve. Few of us have the “insightful, grace” necessary for Lent. We all fall short of being “kind,” even when it comes to off-handed quips. It is so much more powerful to demonstrate, than to criticize.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      a lot of the archdiocese was held together by force of his fiery and mercenary will. Or duct tape. I could never tell.

      Whatever problems we have in the Archdiocese, cohesion is not one of them..

    • The Big Difference says

      Beyond the uncharitable opinion about the Antiochian Archdiocese and the recently departed Met. Philip, I wonder how Steve will judge just what held the Archdiocese together? Is he assuming it will fall apart?

      I do not think it will fall apart, not in the least. And the reason is simple: they had an excellent leader as an example, and anyone who understands leadership knows that good leaders engender other good leaders. He was brought up in a culture where strong leaders are valued. He most certainly did anger some people – every good leader does, and only “leaders” who try to please everyone are “loved by all” but accomplish little.

      We could look at the rise of the Antiochian Archdiocese in the past 40 years and the dramatic decline of the OCA in the past 40 as a study in contrasts. In the end, it was indeed about the leaders and the value of leadership.

      On the one hand, the Antiochian Archdiocese trusted (and loved) their very capable, strong leader. Having significant experience in that archdiocese, I can tell you, Met. Philip’s legacy was, and will be, legendary. He lead the acquisition of the property in Ligonier, and built Antiochian Village, then populated it with an incredible camping program which makes an indelible impression on the youth of the Antiochian Archdiocese. He took in the Evangelical Orthodox, and expanded the number of clergy and parishes. He skillfully embraced both ethnic and convert Orthodox and kept the relative peace between them. He encouraged the St Stephen’s program, the Antiochian House of Studies, and the DMin program to ensure theological education. There’s a legacy there that will endure for many years to come, not only because of his work, but because the people believed in his work and supported him spiritually and financially. They will not allow these essential programs in the Archdiocese to die, nor will they lack leaders to lead them, because Met. Philip inspired new leaders.

      On the other hand, the OCA not only had very little love and respect for their Metropolitans (throwing the majority of them out), they have a governance structure which assumes mistrust of their episcopal leaders. By handing over any real governing authority to a so-called “Metropolitan Council,” and by populating a “Holy Synod” full of timid and compromised men, they ensure that a strong leader will never be accepted and never be successful. Even more, they ensured the OCA’s current decline and eventual demise, having almost nothing to show in the way of structures or programs of substance that build up the Church. While some in the OCA might point to St Vladimir’s Seminary, the truth of the matter is, other than its humble beginning, which was singularly of the Metropolia, it soon became a pan-Orthodox institution because of vision and necessity. The two truly OCA seminaries are St. Tikhon’s and St. Herman’s and these institutions are more indicative of the OCA’s legacy. Today the OCA has a very severe lack of leadership, lack of vision (beyond keeping the autocephaly alive), lack of resources, and lack of substantive programs which build up the church, beyond a heralding of strategic plans which indicate nothing but reactionary fear and utter chaos.

      May God grant Metropolitan Philip rest from all his work with all the saints, and may he be rewarded with the Kingdom of Heaven for the good things he accomplished for the building up of the Church.

  2. Isa Almisry says

    Memory Eternal!

    Truly the end of an era. If only a tenth of his legacy remains, it will remain quite an edifice.

  3. Pat Teague says

    Ours is an orphaned Archdiocese for a time. We will grieve the loss of Metropolitan Philip Saliba, a great leader. One thing is certain – our Antiochian Archdiocese is very strong. We have a very strong belief in Christ Jesus and His place as Head of our life and the Life of His Church. Yes, we will grieve the death of our Metropolitan Philip, and we look forward to the new leadership the our All Holy Spirit will choose for us, from a group of wonderful Bishops; who Metropolitan Philip and the Synod of Antioch, by the same Holy Spirit has given us.

    May His Memory Be Eternal!

  4. Christopher says

    “We often remain in the eyes of our fellow Americans some kind of oriental cult or museum for ancient relics. We have a tremendous opportunity to preach Orthodoxy in this land. America is thirsty for our spirituality and theological stability, but how can America understand us if we continue talking to her in languages which she does not understand? I am not against ethnic cultures; I simply believe that we can achieve Orthodox unity despite our cultural diversity … we have always championed Orthodox unity in this land, and we shall in no way abandon this struggle” – Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Repose.

    Christ is risen! Memory eternal, Father, Missionary, and Metropolitan Philip!

  5. Memory Eternal says

    Christ is Risen! Memory eternal of Metropolitan Philip!

    The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, with great sadness, announces the passing unto life eternal of His Eminence the Most Reverend Metropolitan Philip (Saliba), Archbishop of New York and
    Metropolitan of All North America. May his memory be eternal!

  6. Fr. George Washburn says

    Very gracious and measured, George. To the extent that history and its major players need to be evaluated from a bit of distance, and that is what the wisest historians have always taught, we should say as little as possible for a while lest our comments be dominated by shallow and self-serving praise, reactions, or some intermediate cacophony consisting of our own barely masked predispositions In a place of brightness, a place of verdure ……

  7. So sad — Memory Eternal Sayedna Philip!

    Met. Philip has had such a significant impact on American Orthodoxy over the years.

    May God guide the Patriarchate of Antioch over the forthcoming weeks as she appoints a new Metropolitan/Archbishop for her North American Archdiocese.

  8. Sam Haddad says

    Metropolitan Philip was truly a great bishop. He will be remembered and praised for many wonderful things. Many people don’t know that he and Fr. Alexander Schmemann (his teacher) were very good friends. In the 70’s, Met. Philip had Fr. Alexander attend and/or speak at most of the Antiochian Conventions (SOBORs). Fr. Alexander spoke on Orthodox unity under the OCA and Met. Philip was very receptive seeing this as the future of the American Church and the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese in America (AOCA). Two events happened that slowed this down. 1) Fr. Alexander became sick due to cancer and died in 1983. 2) The Joe Allen fiasco. Today, we still are very far away from Orthodox Unity in North America and now with Met. Philip’s repose, the Antiochian Archdiocese will revert to more ethnocentrism.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      I strongly disagree that our Archdiocese will revert to etnocentrism. There are far too many converts for that to happen not to mention the 3rd and 4th generation Lebanese and Syrian Americans who do not speak Arabic. There are parishes that are majority converts. Our Patriarch was in Paris and knows about converts, because he oversaw the convert parishes in England. Our American Bishops all have a vision of the Church that has no place for ethnocentrism.

      • Archbishop Joseph of Los Angeles, the Locum Tenens, is a good and wise man, and deeply committed to Orthodox unity. I don’t know who the successor will be, but if it’s +Joseph or +Basil I doubt there will be a reversion to ethnocentrism.

      • Sam Haddad says

        Fr. Morris,
        Please note who the temp. bishops appointed from OVERSEAS are to lead the Antiochian Arch. are. Note the thousands of new immigrants that are coming from the Syrian war. Converts are 2nd class citizens. Get it?

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          You are dead wrong. I have been an Antiochian Orthodox Priest for 34 years and do not feel like a second class member of the Church.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Met. Silouan from Argentina is the Patriarchal Vicar. AB Joseph is the Locum Tenens .

          Pat. John is coming for the funeral. All very standard is it not?

          Change there will be there is simply no reason to engage in morose and catastrophic thinking on the nature of the change. There is a greater possibility that a great flood of blessings and spiritual energy will be released.

          In any case: rejoice in the Lord always.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Sam Haddad conjectures,

      “Today, we still are very far away from Orthodox Unity in North America and now with Met. Philip’s repose, the Antiochian Archdiocese will revert to more ethnocentrism.”

      He is correct, I suspect, on the first point.

      He could not be more wrong on the second.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Maybe Mr. Hadad is engaging in a little of his own wishful thinking.

        • Sam Haddad says

          You converts just don’t get it. The Antiochian Archdiocese is as “self-governing” as Crimea. 1/3 of Syria will now be moving to the U.S. Arabic speakers rule; Byzantine music rules; old country associations dictate; etc. There will now be (2) Antiochian Dioceses in the U.S. and Damascus will be calling ALL the shots!

          • Sam Haddad says

            Think about it folks. Why is there any need to bring someone from South America to the U.S. to intermediate? Why is + Joseph slotted in as locum tenens? Because the fix is in from overseas; + Joseph will be the next Met and the guy from S. Am. will go to CA. What happened to our American born boys of Arabic background like + Basil Essey who should be the next Met? Why is he being marginalized? Where is this “self-ruled” Antiochian Archdiocese we’ve been led to believe exists? Why are the converts just ignored? Surprise!

            • Peter Cox says

              Abp. Joseph is the locum tenens because, by rank, he is the senior bishop of the local Holy Synod. If he was not an archbishop, the task would fall to Bp. Antoun.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Sam, you remind me of when I was a little kid playing at the beach. My parents had a bright red umbrella. I would make sure I played directly in front of that umbrella because it represented safety to me. Funny thing happened, though. The tide carried me down the beach without me even realizing it. I’d look up and the umbrella would be gone. This is what I suspect has happened to you. You don’t realize how “far down the beach” we’ve traveled. The influx of converts has acted like the tide, subtly changing the landscape of the Church in this country. If Damascus wants to continue to be our umbrella, they’re going to have to align themselves with us, because there is no going back.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Amen. Besides, I’m selfish. I want to keep Bp Basil as my diocesan bishop.

              What some call a fix is merely good planning. The Holy Spirit can always surprise.

              When then Fr. Basil’s name was submitted for the episcopate, he was just a space filler. The fix was in for Archdeacon Hans.

              Funny how things work out.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              Gail, I think you went a little too far here. The Patriarchate of Antioch IS the umbrella for the Antiochian Archdiocese, and for all the dioceses and archdioceses subject to the Holy Synod of that Patriarchate. Neither they nor you nor I HAVE TO ALIGN OURSELVES with anything but Jesus Christ, and the Antiochian Archdiocese is not Jesus Christ for ‘Damascus.’ American Orthodoxy still bears the quality of an episode in Church history, and shows no signs of becoming more than that. Mr. Haddad, however, like Stan or Barbara Drezhlo, is deluded if he imagines that converts are any more or less deluded than those born into and raised in Orthodox families. There are samples of both classes that are ridiculously deluded. Visit Voices from Russia and see whether or not ‘born’ Orthodox are less deluded than converts (or “envelopes” as Drezhlo calls them).

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Yes, Damascus is the umbrella and yes we are to align ourselves with Jesus Christ. But when it comes dealing with one another, it would be crazy to pretend that nothing has changed from the old world. It has. They are going to have to make some accommodations. I honestly think His Eminence Archbishop Joseph will be chosen. He can operate in both worlds.

            • Sam Haddad says

              I’m an Arab. You don’t understand. All the Evengelicals who came to the Antiochian Arch. en masse were a convenient feather in Met. Philip’s cap. More parishes, more money and a true witness to bring American converts to Orthodoxy. NOW, with Met. Philip gone, the landscape will change dramatically. This “self-ruled” stuff is baloney. Damascus rules and the converts in the Antiochian church in America aren’t important. Immigration of more Arabs is important and ethnic identity. Deal with it. Wait another 6 months and see if what I’m telling you isn’t true. Poor + Basil; he should be the next Met and they will marginalize him. Stupid. This is what you get when you let overseas bishops rule!

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Well, we’re important if they want money, right, Sam? – I agree the “self-rule” stuff was baloney. It was always about “his” rule.” The way the constitution is written, Damascus doesn’t have a lot of authority unless it comes to theology. A new metropolitan could change our bishops back into diocesan bishops and self-rule might indeed be possible. – Do you think they would marginalized His Eminence Archbishop Joseph? – We see. Let’s make a date, you and I, for 6 months from now. I will be interested in what you have to say after all is said and done.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            “You converts?” We’ll Sam that sounds…condescending. Sam please don’t do to the AOA what you OCL foreign bishop hating types did to the GOA. Although something tells me your America first agenda will not allow you to. Take it from me the Sam Haddads…of the world have a very specific agenda that will treat parishes apart. The GOA went threw this and came to the very brink of schism. In fact, we are a divided church that has barely recovered since the removal of Archbishop Spyridon.

            To all my Antiochean friends out there learn from our struggles and mistakes. Live according to the Gospel, not the OCL agenda, and keep your Archdiocese together.


    • Gail Sheppard says

      RE: “Metropolitan Philip was truly a great bishop. . . and now with Met. Philip’s repose, the Antiochian Archdiocese will revert to more ethnocentrism.”

      How can you praise Metropolitan Philip’s legacy and in the same breath anticipate its demise? Metropolitan Philip’s decision to embrace converts was truly his crowning glory. I’m quite certain His Eminence Archbishop Joseph would agree with me on this.

    • Ryan Nassib says

      It’s fr. Joseph Allen, not Joe Allen.

  9. Will Metropolitan Philip’s funeral be planned by Englewood or by Damascus? Really hope that we do not have to wait so long for Damascus to name a new Metropolitan.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Look at for the arrangements which were likely made some time ago in preparation

  10. Abbouna Michel says

    For all of his faults, some culturally and some personality-induced, Saydna Philip will go down in history as one of the great figures of contemporary American Orthodoxy. Certainly, his ability to find the necessary resources to foster the Church’s mission was legendary. I myself witnessed him dedicate a new parish hall and, at the dinner that followed, raise most of the money to amortize the remaining debt!

    Most outstanding among his qualities, however, was an expansive vision of the Church and what it could–and ought to–be. Some of his efforts “came a cropper,” but always there was a sense of imagination and daring. His willingness to incorporate the “Evangelical Orthodox,” providing the Archdiocese not only with many new members, but with the beginnings of a cultural shift in the direction of a new-found emphasis on evangelization, is only one among many examples.

    This expansive vision made him almost unique among American Orthodox leaders in his successful effort, early in his career, to heal the schism with Archbishop Antony Bashir that had plagued the Antiochian Church. Always, the emphasis was on building rather than simply maintaining the past.

    Equally striking was his willingness to make common cause with like-minded religious leaders. Relations with the Melkites and Maronites were continuous, and characterized by genuine warmth and mutual respect. Copts, Assyrians, and many others were welcomed at his offices–and, frequently enough, at his table as well. Indeed, his cordial relationship with many American Muslim leaders made him unique among the Orthodox in this country. Doubtless, some of the contributors to this blog would decry all of this as “ecumenism,” and consign him to the exterior darkness. For many of us, however, this was one of his most engaging traits.

    More than many leaders of American Orthodoxy, he understood and admired diverse aspects of American life and culture, and sought in appropriate ways to make the Antiochian Archdiocese a genuinely American Orthodox church, rooted in this nation’s life and culture. For him, the canons existed for the Church, rather than the Church for the canons, and he never forgot that, at the end of the day, the only reason for doing any of this is to build the Kingdom of God in our midst.

    Saydna Philip was a long way from perfect, but American Orthodox is far, far the better for his having exercised episcopal leadership.

    Allah yerhamo!

    • Abbouna Michel says

      One correction. When I referred to Abp Antony Bashir of blessed memory in the context of the schism, the person to whom I actually was referring was Abp Michael Shaheen. The historical sector of my mental hard drive wasn’t functioning well that afternoon!

  11. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    George, if it is not inappropriate, permit me to paste here the message I sent to our parish this morning:

    Beloved at All Saints in Chicago

    As most of you know, our beloved father-in-God, Metropolitan PHILIP went to the Lord last evening at about 8:30 eastern time.

    That was 7:30 central time, about 30 minutes into our service of the Presanctified Liturgy of St. Gregory the Dialoguist.

    Just minutes after that service, our Subdeacon Walid found a text message on his phone that the Archbishop had passed away. Most of the parishioners were in the parish hall breaking their Communion fast. I went down and announced the loss, and immediately everyone came back into the church for the Trisagion service. Ours had to be one of the first such services offered by a parish for the repose of his soul.

    Tomorrow evening, following the Marian Akathist, we will have the Trisagion again, and yet again on Sunday after the Divine Liturgy.

    Right now we are all waiting on word from the Archdiocese with respect to the funeral arrangements. I presume our holy father, Patriarch John X of Antioch, will come to this country for the obsequies.

    I ask all of you, please, to remember the soul of Metropolitan PHILIP and to pray, as well, for this God-protected Archdiocese.

    When I first joined this Archdiocese about a quarter-century ago, one of my first impressions was of the devotion and seriousness with which Metropolitan PHILIP served it. Few churchmen, in my experience, had a better sense of their authority in the Apostolic Order. Metropolitan PHILIP seemed always aware that he was sent to this country by exactly the same authority that dispatched Barnabas and Saul to Cyprus, Asia Minor, and Europe—namely, the elders of Antioch (Acts 13:1-3). To me he seemed always conscious of bearing the authority implied in that mission. Our Archbishop knew what he believed and what he was charged to teach; we never had to guess where he stood. In my opinion, this was a source of immense reassurance in the Archdiocese. His was a spiritual presence on which I felt I could invariably rely.

    Let us pray, then, that the gracious Lord provides us with another Archbishop like him.

    In our Lord,

    Fr Pat

  12. Michael Bauman says

    In my estimation, he was a great Christian man. May he hear: “Well done though good and faithful servant, enter into the peace of your Lord.”

    Examine the bishops who must now take up the task and decide if there is a better group anywhere in North American Orthodoxy:

    Archbishop Joseph
    Bishop Basil
    Bishop Thomas
    Bishop Alexander
    Bishop Anthony
    Bishop John
    Bishop Nicholas
    Bishop Antoun

    They will present a list of three names to the Holy Synod of Antioch as our next Metropolitan. If these men are ‘duct tape’ I’ll take it! Besides, duct tape is practical, flexible, strong, enduring. Not particularly beautiful, certainly not flashy but it gets the job done.

    Besides that there are numerous faithful and good priests with strong congregations and lay leadership that, at its best, is extraordinary.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      As I recall, the constitution in Damascus differed from our constitution in the U.S. Was this resolved?

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      A special convention of the Archdiocese will nominate three candidates to follow Metropolitan Philip. The Holy Synod of Antioch will elect one of them. The ballot will contain the names of all clergy who meet the requirements. Obviously they must celibate, they also must be over 33, have an earned degree from an Orthodox seminary, speak fluent English, and have served as a clergyman in the North American Archdiocese.

      • Of course, we should remember that the rules for selecting a patriarch were very slightly bent so that John X could be elected. At least a couple recent elections of metropolitans in the See of Antioch have also seen the right man selected seemingly out of nowhere.

        • Christopher Jones says

          Metropolitan Silouan meets all of the stated requirements, especially after having served as the Vicar for several months. Hard to say that doesn’t count as serving “at some time, as a clergyman in the Archdiocese,” as the charter puts it.

          And he’s been invited to visit pretty consistently in the last few years. As his biography says, “His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip of thrice-memory, invited Metropolitan Silouan to attend the 50th Archdiocesan Convention in Chicago in 2011, the 17th Clergy Symposium in 2012 held at the Antiochian Village, and the 51st Archdiocesan Convention in Houston in 2013. The Word Magazine published his addresses to the assembly on these occasions.”

          • Questioner says

            May someone confirm this administrative move for me?

            His Eminence, Archbishop Joseph administers with NA until His Grace, Met. Silouan arrives?

            Also, forgive me. Is there truth to the notion that Met. Silouan is Patriarch John’s nephew?

  13. GOAPriest says

    George…I don’t know how to send you a private message, so I am using this comment. Just delete it.

    I think you should allow some debate about the reposed Metropolitan. Not everyone sees things in the same way, and there are many things to discuss.

    Perhaps you could create another topic…


    p.s. I am not a woman as the “good” Bishop supposes. But as you can imagine, it is not really “safe” for a priest in the GOA to speak out publicly in many issues of concern!

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      If we will only speak the truth when we are safe….but maybe the anonymous or pseudonymous are not all that sure themselves that what they want to say is true.. In such a case, we must recognize that the writer is himself or herself not all that sure about the validity of his or her assertions here.
      “De mortuis nihil nisi bonum” is always wise, so let’s NOT engage in debate about the ever-memorable Metropolitan Philip, please!! Thanks again, George, for your request to us. By the way, I agree with Father Anthony Scott who posted on Facebook that it is hard to think of Englewood without His Eminence as it was once difficult for Chaucer to think of Constantinople without a Christian Emperor. I feel SO old. But it seems to me just yesterday when Philip Saliba was to be found at the Arab Student Center at Wayne State University in the 1950s!

      • Tanya Dook says

        There is NO Fr. Anthony Scott. He was divorced and remarried. He lives in CA and is laicized. Mr. Lou Scott.

        • Michael Bauman says

          And that is sad. He did much good work in my parish before I got here.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Mr. Tanya Dook, there is just as much a Father Anthony Scott as there is a GOAPriest, a Heracleides Pompikos), a Samn!, a Reggie Mortis, and so forth…
          and, of course, Hal Scott is entitled to use “Father Anthony Scott” as his pen name—there’s no canon against it, right? And it’s all the rage to use such pen names and so on here, so what’s the problem?

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      I have a good idea GOA Priest, whoever he is, should confine himself to his own Archdiocese and have the decency to leave us alone in our grief. I do not write negative things about non-Antiochian Bishops and think that non-Antiochians should not write negative things about our Antiochian Bishops.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Fr John, I respectfully disagree. I will allow reasoned and temperate debate about His Eminence and his role in American Orthodoxy. Since he was such an epochal figure I believe he deserves that. (Of course I will not allow scabrous and/or derisive comments.)

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        What about those that follow Apollos?

    • Dean Calvert says

      Dear GOA priest,

      I’d welcome such a debate…anytime, any place.

      While Met. Philip was far from perfect, and disappointed many of us during these past few years – there’s a difference between having shortcomings, and ACTIVELY rowing in the wrong direction – which is the case in the GOA.

      By any objective standard, Met. Philip will come out head and shoulders above any GOA leader since Abp Iakovos….the present patriarch included.

      • Dean,

        You seem to imagine that I am interested in “comparing” Met. Philip with GOA Metropolitans – did I say that? I am interested in comparing him, as well as all other hierarchs, against the standard of the faith, the teachings of the Holy Fathers and the boundaries which they laid down.

        Just because I am in the GOA, does not mean I am a parochial sycophant. Nor should you be…

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          GOAPriest! No one who could write the following should be considered a parochial sycophant:
          ” it is not really “safe” for a priest in the GOA to speak out publicly in many issues of concern!”

          By the way, what’s the difference between “safe” and safe?

  14. Other Matthew says

    Saiedna Philip was…complicated. He did some great things and some not great things. I think, and hope, that he will be remembered mostly for the great things. May his memory be eternal.

  15. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Memory eternal to the most concretely charitable of all Orthodox hierarchs of our time!!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      This voting system “sucks” as my neighbor’s kid would say. (He’s 12.) How can ANYONE vote “thumbs down” to the comment that Metropolitan Philip was concretely charitable??? Oh my goodness! He initiated more charitable appeals than I can count. He gave away millions and millions of dollars. God willing, a good portion of it made its way into the right hands. Whatever Metropolitan Philip’s failings were, giving was not one of them. Proper oversight (or lack thereof) was problematic, but the giving he had down pat. To those who are unclear on this point, just peruse the Internet.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Well, Gail there are those who simply cannot impute any good to Met. Philip and no evidence to the contrary will be welcome or considered. While I certainly understand some of the irritation and animosity to the man– they have passed to a dark and embittered place.

        So we add them to our prayers, I guess.

        Pray for the soul of Met. Philip, the life of the Archdiocese, the people of the Archdiocese and those who refuse to forgive.

        Maybe they got stuck in an episode of Hee Haw: “Gloom despair and agony on me, deep dark depression, excessive misery….”

        Lord have mercy on us all, forgive our sins and open our hearts to your joy. Forgive the sins of Met. Philip and remember his deeds of courage and generosity. O Lord raise up a righteous and good leader to take up his burden.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          RE: “Lord have mercy on us all, forgive our sins and open our hearts to your joy. Forgive the sins of Met. Philip and remember his deeds of courage and generosity. O Lord raise up a righteous and good leader to take up his burden.”

          Very appropriate and lovely, Michael.

  16. Gail Sheppard says

    Prayers are of more value than praise. Please pray for Metropolitan Philip. May his memory be eternal.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Good one, Gail. I agree, even if that causes you to get some thumbs-downs from the Colosseum types!

  17. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    We could tell, Peter, by your remarks mostly about yourself and your feelings. That’s good ole Protestant “Testifyin’ “. I bet those Assembly of God types did a lot of it!

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      A lot of those AG’ers are now Orthodox and mostly in OCA churches down in Florida. Now that’s good ole “Testifyin” for ya.


  18. Memory Eternal – Peaceful Repose

  19. Michael Bauman says

    Let us not forget that there is genuine grief for the loss of a human being who many loved, not as an abstraction or a duty but loved deeply and personally. Telling stories of the deeds of loved ones is an important and necessary part of grieving and a part of our prayers for him.

    Even I, an insignificant member of one parish –a person who only met him once and was not drawn to him–feel a sense of loss.

    His work that was of God, as much was, will endure. May our merciful Lord forgive his sins and may we do the same.

  20. Dean Calvert says

    My favorite Metropolitan Philip story:

    His Eminence was here in Detroit for the celebration of his 40 anniversary of his ordination (I think – about 10 years ago).

    I had a chance to meet privately with him before the dinner. I asked him about Ligonier, and what really happened.

    “Poor man, he lost his nerve, and he paid the price,” said His Eminence, recalling Archbishop Iakovos.

    Since our meeting occurred just a few days before His Eminence was scheduled to travel to Damascus, I asked him, “Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a patriarch?”

    “No. What?” asked His Eminence.

    “You can negotiate with a terrorist,” I said.

    “HAHAHAHAHA”…said His Eminence, in that heavily accented, but always hearty laugh.

    A few minutes later, Bishop Antoun walked thru the suite.

    “Hey Antoun…you know the difference between a patriarch….I can’t remember it…tell him your joke,” His Eminence directed me.

    “Do you know the difference between a terrorist and a patriarch…” i begin to tell Bishop Antoun.

    The funniest part of the story: That evening, in front of 500 people at the dinner…Metropolitan Philip told the joke!

    Eternal be his memory!!

    PS “Without a vision…the people perish” as HIs Eminence was always so fond of saying.

  21. Does anyone know what a reasonable time frame is for the Patriarchate to wait to make a permanent selection? Hope it does not take as long as the OCA has taken

    • Other Matthew says

      It depends on when then the Archdiocese sends the list of candidates and when the Synod meets. Give it a few months. But to answer your concern, no, it won’t take nearly as long as the OCA because we have more than 2 good candidates for Episcopal positions.

  22. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    Not really, you should hear Bishop Antoun speak on homosexuality. That is one very good thing about our Antiochian Bishops, they do not tolerate or hide immorality among the clergy.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Indeed, when Bishop Antoun addresses the abomination, his rhetoric tends to be both animated and colorful.

  23. Christopher William McAvoy says

    His Grace Metropolitan Philip Saliba was strengthened by a childhood and heritage where multiple faiths were present. This is the blessing for those from throughout Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. The Christians from this region have a multicultural perspective that goes far beyond the straightforward nationalism present in other more homogenous nations. This unique history and experience brings a unique perspective in their faith, this complements exactly what is needed in the USA, itself a multicultural, multiconfessional nation which never takes for granted the priviledge of a single state church , which it has never known.

    Having lived in the very land where the faith was born and spoken of in the new testament, gives one an awareness that they are walking in the footsteps of giants. They are from the land of the Fathers of the Church. They have seen a wider variety of religions and faiths than most of their Orthodox neighbors. This helps instill in one a sense of evangelization to the entire world. This is something westerners respect, they trust that a man from where the church originated might to lead them to understand the truth of the early church. In an era and nation where “non-denonimational” is the new “denominational”, his grace met. Philip helped this nation embrace that which is “pre-denominational”.

    I pray that the Antiochian Archdiocese is blest with a leader with these same admirable virtues.
    For without Philip, these very prayers I say may not even exist at all in the Orthodox Church. These prayers are direct translations of latin which are used in the western rite vicariate which he so carefully nurtured and encouraged.

    For the faithful departed Metropolitan Philip Saliba we pray:

    We commend to Thee, O Lord, the soul of Thy servant Philip., and we beseech Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, that as in mercy to him Thou becamest man, so now Thou would be pleased to admit him to the bosom of Thy Patriarchs. Remember, O Lord, Thy creature, not made by strange gods, but by Thee, the only living and true God; for there is none other but Thee, and none can equal Thy work. Let his soul rejoice in Thy presence, and remember not his former iniquities and excesses, which he has fallen into, through the violence of passion and the corruption of his nature. For although he has sinned, yet he has always firmly believed in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; he has had a zeal for Thy honour, and faithfully adored Thee as his God, and Creator of all things…. (abbreviated for sake of time..)

    Through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen.

    V. The just shall be had in everlasting remembrance:
    R. They will not be afraid of any evil tidings.

    V. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
    R. And let light perpetual shine upon him.

    V. Of him may his very soul rest in peace.
    R. Amen.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mr McAvoy, that’s an interesting point. It might explain why His Eminence was able to thread the needle so to speak when it came to certain issues regarding rubrics, liturgics, canonical norms, etc.

      In my estimation, when you live in a multi-confessional world like the Middle East, a religious leader doesn’t have the luxury of rigidity in intra-religious matters that someone who lives in a homogeneous society that is predominantly Orthodox.

      I’m just throwing that out there.

      • Abbouna Michel says


        Here, you’re “spot on,” but I would put it in different terms. In my experience, the contemporary Middle East views religion as coming in three “flavors.” The first is Judaism. Once one gets beyond the hyperbolic cant, and in earnest conversations over the third or fourth glass of arak, most Arab Christians of my acquaintance will admit that, while they find the Israelis vexing, they usually can work things out with them.

        The second is Christianity. Here, again in my experience, the relations are at worst polite and at best, warm. Antiochian Orthodox, the Apostolic Church of the East, Maronite, Melkite and Chaldean Catholics, and even newer arrivals like Anglicans and Lutherans interact on a daily basis, for the most part, positively. The only exceptions are the “mujadid,” recently arrived Evangelicals who have the reputation of being arrogant and “stealing sheep,” and some of the Greeks, who are resented for imposing a largely Greek hierarchy on an overwhelmingly Arab local Church.

        The third group is, to a great extent, the one responsible for Christians making common cause with each other. These are the Muslims. Back in the old day of the millet system of the Ottoman Empire, Christians developed the habit of trying to work together, recognizing that this was the only way that they had of developing any bargaining power at all. In recent times, the rise of ultra-conservative Islam has only deepened Christian convictions that they need to “hang together or hang separately” in the face of hard core Islamic militancy. A recent example of this is the banding together of a variety of Christian leaders in the region to protest the kidnapping of the Antiochian and Syriac bishops in Syria, and the willingness of Orthodox leaders to solicit the assistance of the Holy See, Archbishop of Canterbury, and any others who might help. In the words of the late community organizer Saul Alinsky, there’s nothing like a common threat to bring people together, and militant Islam serves that role for Christians in the Middle East, in spades.

        One final comment. Cultural forces, in my estimate, are highly significant. The Middle East is, in many respects, a far more relaxed place than the Slavic lands. Some of it, I’m sure, has to do with the benevolent Mediterranean climate. In a society in which two of the most common expressions are “ma’alesh” (roughly, “don’t sweat it”) and “inch’Allah” (“God willing”), there’s a built-in bias in favor of what you would call “threading the needle,” the belief that the deal that can’t be made hasn’t yet been conceived.

        This was the world view in which Saydna Philip was raised. I think I could argue that it equipped him to survive and flourish in the pluralistic American environment far more than would be true of the (theoretically) more homogeneous environment of the Slavic lands.

      • Christopher William McAvoy says

        Yes, I think thats possible and I ought to have added, that the pressure to convert to Islam also exists in the Levant region. That competition between different faiths encourages those who say they are christians, to believe it with all their heart and soul. Under pressure, the lukewarm believers leave.. The recent martyrs in Syria certainly proved this. (Even if some do temporarily deny the faith in face of martyrdom, they typically come back to it after the threat is gone.)

        “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church” – Tertullian, 2nd c.

  24. Dean Calvert says

    Some further thoughts about the metropolitan.

    Despite the problems of the past few years, for many of us, the AOCA has been a beacon of hope on this continent for many years.

    We pray that a new leader, or equal wisdom and vision, is selected.

    All of you in the AOCA should guard against what happened to the GOA in the years following Abp Iakovos’ removal…an Old World takeover of the American church, the division of the archdiocese into competing metropolitanates…all designed to prevent the rise of another strong, national leader.

    Metropolitan Philip himself warned against this in 2007:

    “Even if the angels come and tell you ‘division is good for you’ do not believe them. Christ is the source of unity and the prince of peace. Only satan is the master of deceit and dissension and we must never surrender to him.”

    “I want these words of St. Paul to be engraved, to be etched on your hearts and mind: “I appeal to you brethren by the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that all of you agree there be no disunity among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

    “I appeal to you my beloved children and friends not to let any group of people, or any group of bishops, or any synod, local or foreign, to divide you and to destroy what we have built together for the past 41 years.”

    May God keep you all in the shadow of His wings.


    • Dean,

      What old world takeover are you speaking about…? Do you mean restoring canonical regularity to parishes where everything and anything often goes? Or do you mean tellings priests to dress as priests rather than Roman Catholic pedophiles? Or were you speaking of encouraging the restoration of Byzantine Chant after the western captivity of “choral” music and the hideous sound of organs in the so many parishes?

      Doesn’t sound old world – it sounds Orthodox.

      • Abbouna Michel says

        Another precinct heard from! May Saydna Philip intercede with God for us that he may save ALL our souls!

      • Michael Bauman says

        What balderdash. There are many fine men who wear the slave collar rather than the remnant of the Turkish Yoke. You obviously have an inhuman and inhumane approach to living in the embrace of God that is the Orthodox Church. May God save me from ever entering the doors of any parish you serve.

        You need to go away awhile and take your vitriolic bile with you.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        You do not know what you are writing about. Under Metropolitan Philip, parishes were required to follow the correct liturgical practices and clergy to teach the Orthodox Faith without compromise. With his blessing the Antiochian Archdioces has published the most complete Liturgikon available in the English language, as well as a complete Holy Week Book. You show how ignorant you are by your comment about chant and organs. Under Metropolitan Philip, there has been a major revival of true Byzantine chant in Antiochian parishes. One reason for this is that our youth have been taught Byzantine Chant through our extensive summer camp program. Organs have been discouraged for a very long time and have all but disappeared in Antiochian parishes. As far as what we wear outside of the Church. I am not going to get into that argument with you or anyone else. What I wear when I go to the grocery store or mall has no doctrinal significance. I wear all the proper vestments when I am serving.

        Fr. John W. Morris

        • GOAPriest says

          You do not know what you are writing about Father. I was speaking of the GOA parishes and the former Archbishop Spyridon. If you would set aside your prejudice for a moment, perhaps you might be able to think a little more clearly.

          • Fr. George Washburn says

            Next time you mean to speak of GOA parishes in a thread about the death of the Antiochian Primate of N. America, I recommend that you actually say very clearly you are doing so rather than leave us to guess, assume, or read your mind, friend GOAPriest. If Fr. John ‘didn’t know what he was writing about’ it was because he made the entirely excusable assumption that on a thread about Antioch – you meant to refer to Antiochians. I know for a fact that they didn’t offer mind reading when my respected friend Fr. John was in seminary, and that if they had, he probably wouldn’t have passed!

            And yes, let us also mourn the servant of God Archpriest Alexander Atty.

            • Wow…simply wow. Do either if you know how to follow a thread? I did not bring up the GOA…Dean did, who said,

              All of you in the AOCA should guard against what happened to the GOA in the years following Abp Iakovos’ removal…an Old World takeover of the American church, the division of the archdiocese into competing metropolitanates…all designed to prevent the rise of another strong, national leader.

              So sycophantic its sad.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Fr, it may be unfortunate what Dean said but the expulsion of Iakovos was a calamity for American Orthodoxy. It’s been twenty years almost to the day now since Ligonier and what do we have to show for it? Other than the AOCNA, very little.

                • GOAPriest says


                  If your measure of Orthodoxy in America is administrative unity, perhaps you are right. However, I do not agree that such administrative unity ought to be the measure…

                  This is not to detract anything from the former Archbishop, but he had his limitations that in many ways was responsible for the lack of spiritual maturity we find in many GOA parishes. He forbid the establishment of monasteries, he encouraged assimilation at the expense of authentic traditions, and allowed a certain level of democratization that has created some of the disarray we see today. Some of the clergy, myself included, while recognizing his many weaknesses, feel that Archbishop Spyridon brought a new and needed perspective to certain issues.

                  I do not think we should worship the golden calf of administrative unity – the more important unity, that bestowed through the Holy Chalic is indelible and is never under threat from administrative irregularities or hijinx.

                  Of course, people of good will may disagree on these things.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Excellent points, Fr. Iakovos certainly had his faults but I think his grand vision was essentially correct. Much like Philip for that matter.

                    As for your points about Arb Spyridon, I am in the process of reassessing his abortive legacy as well. I personally think that he was more in the traditionalist mode and the enthusiasm that received him was because his stated purpose was to end the “ethnic ghettos” that characterized American Orthodoxy. Had he stuck to that vision (let’s call it the Ligonier Vision), then he might have been successful as well.

                    That’s all hypothetical speculation at this point.

                    A quibble: I believe that Elder Ephraim established his first monasteries here during the waning days of Iakovos’ tenure.

                    • George,

                      You are correct about Elder Ephraim’s first monasteries, but they were not established with synodal permission and certainly not encouragement. Archbishop Iakovos was known to have sworn that no monastery would be established in the GOA while he was able to prevent it. In the end, he could not prevent, and thank God for that.

                      Archbishop Spyridon was in an untenable situation when he arrived, for many reasons, which I am sure you already know. He was certainly a traditionalist, and very much interested in re-establishing much that had been lost due to the overt protestantization of the GOA (I won’t comment of the what was going on among the Antiochians…), but in the end, he was prevented – partly by his own weaknesses, but primarily by certain well-known personalities and powers at work behind the scenes, not the least of which was the EP himself, whose primary interest is to keep the money rolling in from GOA and not in any way challenging the situation or bringing anyone to account for what has been deformed and lost through those years of protestantization. Of course the EP has his reasons and I am not insensitive to his impossible position, but the fact remains that he, and his predecessors, have allowed us to end up where we are today.

                      I appreciate the former Archbishop because he simply acted according to his conscience, and not with any reference to polls, voting blocks or other influences. And of course, that is why, in the end of the day, he lost the struggle, much before the battle had even begun.

                      And all this came up because he was accused (higher up in the thread) as representing an “old world” take-over, which is nonsense and could only be spoken by someone who does not know the fact nor understand the traditions of our faith.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Very good points Fr. I’m glad that you brought up three distinct points:

                      1. The “protestantization” of the GOA under Iakovos,

                      2. The traditionalism of Spyridon,

                      3. The disloyalty to Spyridon by the Phanar in order to keep the money rolling.

                      These are all true. We should not forget that while continued Protestantization did take place under Iakovos, it actually began almost at the start of the GOA. It wasn’t Iakovos who first put in pews and organs in every GOA parish. And while it is true to blame HH Bartholomew for throwing Spyridon under the bus when things got too hot to handle, the looking past the Protestant follies of the GOA goes all the way back to Athenagoras if not earlier.

                      Ultimately, that was my greatest beef with Lambrianides’ critique given four years ago at Holy Cross. A lot of what he said about the GOA was true but my response could be distilled down to this: and where was the Phanar during the last fifty years? How dare you come here, receive our hospitality, never give any direction because you basically didn’t care as long as the money kept rolling in, etc?

                    • GOAPriest says


                      Of course the protestantization did not begin with Iakovos, but he cemented it, and ultimately encouraged it. His predecessors of course bear much of the guilt, including Athenogoras who allowed organs, which led to the deformation of the tradition of chant to what it is in many placed today – a cacophonous nonsense. But Iakovos was the “breath” of the GOA for longer than any of those predecessors and eventually must bear the brunt of the blame.

                      Elpidophoros’ critique is not without merit, especially the first part, which is quite good. The last part is problematic.

                      When speaking about the Greek Archdiocese in America, it should be underlined that one encounters parishes where Greek is the liturgical language primarily used and others where there is an equal emphasis on Greek and English, while still others that adopt either mostly or only English. In other words, therefore, while one may have an initial impression of the heavy Greek influence in the Church, the truth is that this is simply not the case.

                      This is a case where the reality on the ground is often quite different than what is imagined in or has been idealized to be the case. Certainly there are parishes where English predominates today – I serve such a parish, however one must ask what is encouraged and desired by the hierarchy since 1926. On the whole, the use of Greek has not only been desired, but encouraged to the detriment of the faithful who, because of lack of understanding, have not been convicted by the Gospel message, nor the content of the liturgical witness.

                      That has been and continues to be changing, even if not encouraged wholesale. Of course we must be careful not to become worshippers or anything but the living God. We can just as easily make language, whether it be Greek or English or whatever, another golden calf.

                      The recently reposed and memorable Meletios of Preveza spoke truly when he said that the people “were not being fed,” on the ancient language. He instituted the use of modern Greek in sacraments, scriptural readings, etc. And though his program was based on the real people whom he served, he was attacked and slandered by his own brother hierarchs, and as soon as he reposed, every thing he did was immediately reversed.

                      If the people there, in the motherland, have little understanding of what is being said during the services, as Meletios observed, what hope can we have here, far removed from that native context, of a different result.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Fr, you’ve given us much to reflect upon.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      I believe that Elder Ephraim was invited by my ever-memorable friend, Bishop Anthony of San Francisco (Greek), to come to his diocese FROM Canada, to establish a monastery here, in the West. Bishop Anthony also established a strong women’s monastery in northern California.

                      It’s my conviction that if I had written GOAPriest’s message above, he would have proclaimed it to be evidence of my racist hatred of Greeks!

                • Tom Kanelos says

                  Archbishop Iakovos was not expelled. He told me himself that he offered his resignation willingly. He did have second thoughts before it became effective and asked if it could be rescinded and was told no. However, as I said, he told me himself, he was not forced to resign.

                  What people did to Abp. Spyridon was a shame. Fortunately Abp. Dimitrios is not given the same difficulties.

                  I have served on the GOA Archdiocese council under al three of them and they are/were all fine men who wanted what was best for the Church in the US.

                  I just wish people would stop perpetuating the lie that Abp. Iakovos was expelled.

                  Further, if you want to know the real source behind the many of the protestant innovations you must look to Metropolitan/Archbishop/Ecumenical Patriarch/Patriarch of Alexandria Meletios Metaxakis.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    HE was being gracious. He was “asked” to resign (in reality pushed out) but because he was a gentleman, chose to tell people that he “resigned.”

                    As for Meletios Metaxakis, I have consistently spoken his name in sorrow. My question to you as an Archon is why do you all keep perpetuating that man’s sorrowful legacy?

                    • Tom Kanelos says

                      George, did Abp Iakovos tell you that himself? I had a close and personal relationship with him. He spoke openly and honestly with me about many things. You are wrong. I know the OCL and others have been pushing that mantra that he was forced to resign, but it happened as he told me. As far as Meletios Metaxakis I can only speak for myself. He was a controversial figure and people judge him based upon whether one agrees with his actions or not. Not unlike the late Met. Philip of blessed memory, and even our own late Abp Iakovos of blessed memory, they are views by people through the lenses of their own experience. Once they die, it is courteous to not criticize.

                    • GOAPriest says


                      Great question…It remains an enigma…Metaxakis was a shady character to say the least…

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      George, I would tend to agree with Mr. Kanelos. I did not know Archbishop Iakovos as well as either of you may have done, but it’s my conviction that there were never any pressures in existence that could force him to resign—no appeal to virtue or the Gospel or even to the pocketbook. I’m not saying he wasn’t p.o. ed or bitter, just that the decision was one he arrived at without being pressured to arrive at it. I admit he might have said quietly as he signed the resignation, ‘Take that, you bunglers,’ but bowing down before superior force? No Way!
                      There can be no comparison with Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation. Metropolitan Jonah was at sea, although articulate, and did not have the leadership skills to out-maneuver or out-talk his own staff. He recognized it and took the route of least resistance, hoping to hang on to his standard of living.

                    • Tom Kanelos says

                      George, did you know Abp. Iakovos?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Yes I did. Not as well as you. On my mother’s side I’m Imvrioti and because of that, we enjoyed a cordial, if long-distance, relationship. The first time I met him was in 1959 when I was an infant and my grandparents hosted a lunch for him in their modest home in Tulsa. He took a a post-prandial nap in the guest bedroom and (I was told) he blessed me. (We’ll see how that works out, so far the indications are iffy.) It seems that ever since that time, about once every six or seven years or so we’d find each other in each others’ company.

                      Now, I by no means want to indicate that we had some interior knowledge that was divergent from the official story. Let me be clear: we do not. All I know personally is that three exarchs from Istanbul came over, “suggested” that maybe it was time for him to go, he probably “agreed” or at least saw that the handwriting was on the wall, looked at his declining health (he was taking daily naps in his office by then), saw that the Old World patriarchates (not just Istanbul) were not gonna let Ligonier happen, knew that SCOBA was a lifeless body, etc., and decided that he might as well exit while he was on top of his game.

                      All things considered, it was probably the most reasonable assumption he could make under those circumstances.

                      We do know as well that he regretted making that decision or at least “reconsidered” tendering his resignation. My guess is that once something momentous is done, the decider tends to reorder his memories in order to lessen the bitterness of the situation. I know that I’ve reassessed events in light of fate, I think we all have. It makes life easier and it’s a blessing in many ways in that it can keep a man from becoming bitter.

                    • Tom Kanelos says

                      George, sometimes responses do not have a link for “Reply”. Why is that?

                      For instance in your post below in which you mentioned the Exarhia (the three hierarchs which came to the US representing the EP to look into the facts on the ground prior to the EP electing a new Archbishop), I wanted to mention that this Exarhia came over AFTER His Eminence offered his resignation. So It is not accurate to say that the told him politely that it would be a good idea to retire. They were Archbishop Stylianos of Australia, Metropolitan Demetrios of Sevastia and (then) Metropolitan Demetrios of Vresthena (currently Archbishop Demetrios of America). Archbishop Iakovos offered his letter of resignation in June or July 1995 and the Exarchia came in October of 1995. I was National Coordinator of the YAL (Young Adult League) at the time and was part of a committee which met several times with the Exarchia.

                      This is posted just to maintain the proper historical perspective and chain of events. But make no mistake about it, I wish that Abp. Iakovos had remained as archbishop.

                  • Isa Almisry says

                    “What people did to Abp. Spyridon was a shame. Fortunately Abp. Dimitrios is not given the same difficulties.”
                    Abp. Demetrios (Many Years!) didn’t create the same difficulties.

                    Btw, it’s Pope of Alexandria.

                    • Tom Kanelos says

                      Technically, it is Pope AND Patriarch. And on the website for the patriarchate of Alexandria whenever it refers to His Beatitude, it uses the word “Patriarch”. You do know the words mean pretty much the same thing, don’t you?

                      Yes, Abp Spyridon indeed made some mistakes, but who has not? Even the late Met. Philip, of blessed memory, wis disliked by many. But for those who are involved in leadership in the GOA and can be impartial in this situation, know that the fault did not lie solely with Abp. Spyridon. In any case, the way he was treated, especially by the clergy and some of the hierarchy, was indeed a terrible thing.

                    • GOAPriest says

                      Archbishop Demetrios cuts ribbons, attends dinners, and tries mightily to offend no one by the Gospel message. He has not tried to grapple with any of the significant challenges facing our Archdiocese. That is why he hasn’t faced any difficulties – he has done little.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      I agree with Tom Kanelos, Peter A. Papoutsis, and GOA Priest; however, I suspect that when Peter Papoutsis refers to the “EP” having done a ‘job” on Archbishop Spyridon, some might feel that “the EP” was against Archbishop Spyridon’s ministry here in America. I believe that “the EP” and Metropolitan Meliton strove mightily to maintain Archbishop Spyridon’s service to God’s Church here, but they had to back down before the power of the Almighty Dollar and the determination of those who controlled the GOA pocketbook, who had an idolatrous belief in the GOA’s by-laws, statutes, etc., as well as the All-Holy and Good and Life-giving Clergy-Lay Congresses and thought Archbishop Spyridon was being irreverent to such.
                      I apologize for commenting on anything in the life of the GOA, as I’ve been a member of the OCA/Metropolia solely, since 1960. Nev ertheless what happened to Archbishop Spyridon, like what happened to some leaders in the OCA, had causes much earlier thant he events themselves. Those who are distressed by the mainlining in, for example, the OCA today should remember (or learn) that Ever-memorable Metropolitan Theophilus (Pashkovsky) (1930s, 40s, 50s) was wont to proclaim that the Orthodox Church is ‘the ORIGINAL Democracy,” and, therefore, ideally suited to the U.S.A.!!!!

              • Fr. George Washburn says

                As to GOA Priest, we know how to follow threads in “print” all right. It is when they detour through an individual brain and don’t reemerge in unambiguous words that we tend to lose the trail. For example in your last post you may appear to be signing off as both sycophantic and sad, but I doubt you really meant that.

                • Not really Father…but if you’d like to say so…be my guest.

                  • Fr. George Washburn says

                    My only point is that your train of thought is sometimes not as clear to the readers as it is to you. Your comments in today’s post, by contrast, were clear, interesting, and valid as far as I saw.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      I read Father George W.’s last two posts in this thread and deduce from the number of thumbs-down that he got that this is an arena unfriendly to anything not blatantly partisan, for there’s nothing to disapprove in those very neutral (but kind and straightforward) messages of his!

  25. Dn. Timothy says

    If it wasn’t for this great man, I would never have even heard of the Orthodox Church.

  26. Christopher says
    USA: His Beatitude Patriarch John X through official letters have appointed Metropolitan Silouan of Buenos Aires and all Argentina as the Patriarchal Vicar until such time as a new Metropolitan is elected by the Holy Synod of Antioch. The Patriarchal Vicar is responsible for the administration of the Archdiocese until a new Metropolitan is elected. Archbishop Joseph will serve as the Locum Tenens of the Archdiocese. Archbishop Joseph will arrive in New Jersey on Friday March 21, and Metropolitan Silouan will arrive on Monday March

  27. Someone wrote: “Ours is an orphaned Archdiocese for a time.”

    Some may feel this way but it is not how our Lord made the Church. Antiochians in America still have their diocesan bishops fully intact in each diocesan region.

    “Where the bishop is there is the Church.” +St. Ignatius of Antioch

    There are no orphans… yet. Soviet Russia had orphans.


  28. Patriarchal Vicar and Locum Tenens appointed for the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America

    by OCP on March 21, 2014

  29. Ryan Nassib says

    The ‘controversy’ surrounding fr. Joseph Allen is hardly a blemish. I believe it is among the highlights of his illustrious spiritual career. It’s only too bad that this was an isolated case. It showed the metropolitan’s compassion and courage and wise use of economia to keep a good clergyman from being lost. If you haven’t read fr. Joseph Allen’s book, ‘Widowed Priest’, I highly recommend you do so.

    • Abbouna Michel says

      Hear, hear. Canons existing for the pastoral care of real people, within the context of Church order, and to build God’s Kingdom in our midst–what a novel concept for American Orthodoxy! Would that some of this blog’s contributors were as eager spiritually and intellectually to embrace the venerable concept of “Economia” as they are to cite legal codes.

  30. Sam Haddad says

    Think about it folks. Why is there any need to bring someone from South America to the U.S. to intermediate? Why is + Joseph slotted in as locum tenens? Because the fix is in from overseas; + Joseph will be the next Met and the guy from S. Am. will go to CA. What happened to our American born boys of Arabic background like + Basil Essey who should be the next Met? Why is he being marginalized? Where is this “self-ruled” Antiochian Archdiocese we’ve been led to believe exists? Why are the converts just ignored? Surprise!

    • They’re not going to put a metropolitan (i.e., a full member of the Holy Synod with his own Archdiocese) in a bishopric– that would be a demotion, and Met. Siluan is one of the most prominent young bishops in the patriarchate. He was, for example, His Beatitude’s representative at the recent Synaxis in Istanbul.

      • Christopher Jones says

        If any “fix” is in, it is for Metropolitan Silouan to be the next *primate* of North America, not an auxiliary in California.

        Archbishop Joseph is only serving as locum tenens for a few days. Once the Patriarchal Vicar arrives, he is in charge of the Archdiocese.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          Antioch does not have a history of transferring Metropolitans. Therefore, I strongly doubt that Metropolitan Silouan’s name will be on the ballot. It was wise to send him here because he will not be one of the candidates for Metropolitan. I have faith that God will provide us with the leadership that we need.

    • Clawdia Chauchat says

      I would think this is about finances for Syria and the Antiochian Patriarchate. Who is going to ensure money makes its way to the Patriarchate — which no doubt is in desperate need of resources.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Lest we forget: the Orthodox Church is not a democracy. Our opinions are caca. No one can block the Holy Spirit forever. My salvation is not dependent on who the Patriarch is. Neither I nor anyone else here has any direct say.

      Pray that our Lord raise up a good and righteous bishop and let Him do it.

      I will rejoice in God no matter what happens.

      Oh, if you really think we are doomed — we really don’t need you.
      Nay-sayers want failure to occur so they can feel important.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      I think that it makes good sense to appoint someone who will not be a candidate for Metropolitan to act as Patriarchal Vicar. Antioch does not have a history of transferring Metropolitans. Archbishop Joseph is the senior Bishop of our Archdiocese because he is the only Bishop who has been elevated to the rank of Archbishop. That is why he was named Locum Tenes.
      There is no fix in. Bishop Basil’s name will be on the ballot along with the names of all clergy who meet the qualifications for election. We will have a free election and forward the names of the top three candidates to the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate. All according to our Archdioesan constitution.

  31. Sean Richardson says

    I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Met. Philip. He was a great leader of Orthodoxy in America, and I recognize that to be a great leader one must have vision, power and control, and longevity (and yes, there would be policies that some disagreed with). Met. Philip had all of these. I think that it can be safely said that we will not see the likes of him again, for a very long time. May his memory be eternal and may his soul rest peacefully in God’s Holy Kingdom.

    Having said that, there are two areas that I would like to respectfully disagree with him and his policies, from my experience in being a member of a couple Antiochian parishes in the past: First, Fr. John Morris (I met him years ago and I have nothing but respect for him) is mistaken or perhaps erring on the side of caution when he suggests that Met. Philip did not treat “old country” priests differently than convert priests. From the clergy that I know, most of whom are converts, they are fairly open in their belief that “old country” priests are given a great deal more leeway and forgiveness than convert clergy. Secondly, and this is the one thing that I would find fault to the highest degree, Met. Philip was not willing to vest the retirement fund. I know of an archpriest who left the Archdiocese in good standing, with an exemplary record, who is now suffering because the retirement he earned through his service is being denied him (it might also be pointed out that an “old country” archpriest who retired in very problematic circumstances – sexual misconduct – is receiving his full retirement – and yes, George, I can provide names if you so desire, but I don’t just want to splash them out in an open forum such as this).

    My prayers are with Met. Philip and my prayers are with the entire Archdiocese, that they will find capable leadership in the years to come.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      Your information on the retirement fund is out of date. It has been changed. The old retirement fund was not vested for tax reasons. It was considered an housing allowance because clergy do not pay taxes on their housing allowances. Because of changes in the law, there is now a vested clergy retirement fund made up of contributions from the clergy, the parish and the archdiocese.

      • Sean Richardson says

        Does this apply to those clergy who had funds set aside in their names in the past, or just for those who are still actively serving the Archdiocese when the rules were changed?

        It seems to me this is just a shell game. If I am not mistaken, and I very well could be, in decades past clergy sent money to the Archdiocese for a life insurance policy, and if they did this, then they were promised that they would receive X amount per month for every year they served/contributed to the life insurance policy. However, someplace along the line (between 1990 – 1995) suddenly the rules were changed and the archpriest I am familiar with was told that he would not be allowed to receive anything, even though he left the Archdiocese is good standing, and even though he served the Archdiocese for many years.

        I’d love clarification on this, because I am sure there are those who do not know.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          The money was sent to the Archdiocese for a life insurance policy, not a retirement fund. For tax purposes the old retirement fund was funded entirely by the Archdiocese and is treated as a housing allowance. It has now been replaced by a different vested system. The priest, parish and Archdiocese contribute a certain percentage. I am not sure how much since I am under the old system because I am too old to take advantage of the new program.

          Fr. John W. Morris

          • Sean Richardson says

            So, in other words, at the whim of the head of the Archdiocese you could end up with no retirement at all. I certainly hope this doesn’t happen to a good priest such as yourself, but alas, it has happened to other good priests. This is where I feel the Archdiocese has failed in its responsibility to those who have served the Church and Christ’s mission here on earth.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              The funds in the new retirement program belongs to the beneficiary. It is not like the old retirement program, which lost a lot of its value with the fall of the stock market. The Metropolitan and his advisers realized that the old program was not working well. They brought in experts in retirement programs from New York to design a completely new vested program.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      Since my name was mentioned, I will respond. I have served under the omophorion of Metropolitan Philip for almost 35 years counting the time I served as a Deacon. I have spoken with him many times in public and in private. I never felt that he considered me a second class priest because I am not Arabic. Obviously I know him better than most Priests because the Archdiocese was much smaller when I became a Priest and it was possible to get to know him in a way that has not been possible for years because of the growth of the Archdiocese under his enlightened leadership. I also do not feel treated as an inferior by our other Antiochian Bishops or my brother Priests. Naturally, I know some Priests better than others because I went to seminary with them or know them because I have served in the same diocese as them, but I really do not feel treated as second class because I am not an Arab.

  32. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    One thing strikes me after reading all the discussion concerning the election of a new Metropolitan for the Antiochian Archdiocese. No one has mentioned the role of the Holy Spirit in this process. People are treating this like a secular election. This is not a secular election. The Holy Spirit will guide the nominating convention, and the Holy Synod of Antioch during he process of selecting a new Metropolitan for the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America. I have faith in God that they will choose the right man to be our new leader.
    I do not care where he was born. I only want a good and pious man who will build on what Metropolitan Philip has left to lead our Archdiocese to even greater accomplishments to further the growth of Orthodoxy in North America.

  33. Michael Bauman says

    Thank you for sharing this, Peter.