Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Orthodox Christian Laity asks: Where are all the Antiochians?

(OCL) - Where is ANTIOCHIAN participation in the Assembly of Bishops in the USA and in Europe?

Where is the participation of the Laity of the Antiochian Archdiocese on the matter of Unity?

Why have the many years of leadership – promoting Unity, the legacy Metropolitan Philip, been reversed by Metropolitan Joseph?

Why do the problems of the Patriarchates in Europe and other regions have ripple effects on the work of the Assembly of Bishops in charge of the spiritual lives of the faithful in the United States?

Controversy between Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem caused a directive to come from the Patriarch of Antioch in October 2013 calling for all Antiochian bishops to withdraw from the Assemblies around the world. Metropolitan Philip directed clergy, laity and bishops to withdraw from the US Assembly in January 2014. Their participation was reinstated in May 2014.

Will the latest severing of relations between the two Patriarchate on June 26-27, 2015, result in the withdrawal of participation in the Assembly of Bishops around the world and the withdrawal of participation of Antioch from the Great and Holy Council of 2016?

Why has Metropolitan Joseph made a choice not to participate in the work of the Assembly of Bishops? Why has he been absent from the work of the Executive Committee in which he is a member and leader? What was the hold up in issuing the report completed by his committee in November 2014? It was not issued until June, 2015. Why did he not attend the Meeting of the Assembly of Bishops’ Executive Committee at the Phanar on June 16, 2015?

Why was Bishop Basil, the Secretary of the Assembly, not present at this meeting?

Will the laity of the Antiochian Archdiocese bring up the issue of Unity and the participation of their hierarchy at the National Assembly of their Church which will take place in Boston, July 20-26, 2015? Where is the laity on these matters? Are they reasoned sheep or are they asleep?

The dilemma within the Antiochian Patriarchate and the Antiochian Archdiocese is a case study for why the Assembly needs to be a Synod, and the Church in the U.S. needs to be self-governing and autocephalous with its own Patriarch elected by its own Synod. The present state of affairs is uncanonical. Our mission and outreach is compromised. We are in a no-growth situation and cannot retain the faithful.

George Matsoukas, Executive Director
Orthodox Christian Laity


  1. As a member of the Antiochian Archdiocese and strong supporter of both Metropolitan Philip and Metropolitan Joseph, this letter captures my concerns exactly. My suspicion is that these choices are made on the basis of the overall conflicts between Greeks and Arabs (e.g., the outlawing of ethnically Arab bishops in the Jerusalem patriarchate). Arab solidarity then extends this division around the world.

    I don’t agree that these problems can be ignored by Americans. One way or another, we are all one Church and we ought to resolve these crises globally, not because of some dusty canon that says so, but because we love and care about our brothers and sisters on the other side of the Atlantic. However, I agree with this article in the sense that the solution is not just for the Antiochians in America to give Greeks and others over here “the silent treatment.” It just appears spiteful and is a bad witness to all us Americans.

    What needs to happen on the part of Antioch is to throw themselves wholeheartedly into the American Orthodox unity movement RIGHT NOW while it is gaining such momentum. And on the part of Jerusalem, they need to let go. They have been simply intractable and would not even respond to our Patriarch’s requests.

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and other Patriarchs with moral authority and collegiality to the Jerusalem Patriarch should take a firmer hand with them.

    1. I think there is a lot of collegiality and communication but I don't see any momentum building for unity across the jurisdictions. Pluralist, modernist, and militantly secular societies like the US just really do not fit with institutions like the Orthodox Church.

      The problem on the one hand is American anti-culture, and on the other Orthodox ecclesiology still premised on the idea that there's this dormant Greek empire out there and people can't just pick up and leave when the wars start or the jobs run out.

  2. I hate to sound skeptical....but I do not believe the "Great Council" will accomplish much. In fact, I suspect that it might not happen. Furthermore, I agree with the Antiochians to remove themselves from the process. Jerusalem will not even acknowledge the situation and the EP does nothing about it. I think the Russians may eventually leave also. The EP has increasingly aligned himself with the pope of Rome on various issues....including the recent encyclical on global warming. This does not sit well with many Orthodox (myself included). And last but not least......I take anything that comes from the OCL with a grain of salt.

    1. This "Great Council" sure comes across as one of those bureaucratic solutions-in-search-of-a-problem. The only doctrinal issue out there is the "diaspora" Churches and that can is going to be kicked down the road for the next hundred years. Otherwise, I assume we all agree that abortion is murder, traditional family is important and pollution violates our duty of stewardship.

  3. Good for the Antiochians! NA unity of administration (or any other sort of unity) at the expense of the Truth is to be avoided. The OCL overstates the advantages of NA administrative unity, and wants to sweep some very important things under the rug in the quest for that unity (such as Istanbul's self serving interpretation of cannon 28, and it's desperate self serving political manipulations).

    Now, a council and/or unity of the Church's that does NOT include Istanbul (Moscow, Arabs, Eastern Europe, NA not under EP, etc.), that would be interesting and something with real promise, a "Great and Holy Council" worthy of the name...

  4. I do not know why OCL accuses the Antiochian Archdiocese as being uncommitted to the work of the Bishop's Assembly. However, this is simply not true. Metropolitan Joseph presided over a very productive meeting of the Committee on Pastoral Affairs at the Antiochian Village in May. The committee has produced a very detailed set of proposals to be presented at the September meeting of the Bishop's Assembly to bring more conformity among the various jurisdictions on a wide number of issues.

    Archpriest John W. Morris

    1. The OCL seems to be good at making accusations and twisting the truth.

    2. They tend to speak from emotions. It is true.