Source: Orthodox History
Originally published on March 12, 2018
Metropolitan Antony Bashir was the head of the Antiochian Archdiocese of New York from 1936 until his death in 1966. He said the following in an interview published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 4, 1939:
The Eastern Orthodox Church has many national branches, each conducting its services, as a rule, in the native language of the country. The Syrian Orthodox is narrow in its dogma and doctrine, clinging to the Apostolic Nicene creed and the seven ecumenical councils of the church. We cannot change that. We acknowledge Christ as our only head.
But we are living in America and in the twentieth century and must make our Church conform so far as we can to the American way of living and meet the demands of the rising American generation, which clings to the old religion but is no longer interested in retaining the old Arabic of their fathers. For the old people and our older priests we still use the Arabic, but a Church that would cling to the old exclusively would die with the generation that demanded it….
Met. Antony was a wonderful, wise man. He had vision for the American Church and knew staying within an ethnic ghetto mentality would destroy Orthodoxy in America. Using English, open to converts and pan-Orthodoxy was his goal. He was a wise businessman and was a wonderful pastor. He brought Met. Philip to the U.S. and insisted he attend St. Vladimir’s Seminary and learn from Fr. Alexander Schmemann. Met. Philip was a priest in Cleveland, O and was elected to lead the Antiochian Archdiocese after Met. Antony’s death. Met. Philip was originally very progressive and followed Met. Antony’s vision, but after the OCA autocephaly in 1970, Met. Philip retreated more & more into ethnocentrism rather than join the OCA. Tragic!
I don’t believe that things are that simple and that Met. Philip retreated simply to ethnocentrism. I think he discovered that things are not easy and that things can go in a very bad and different way. I would rather stay like that than we all become one Big Church where it’s easy to be controlled by the Devil.
As for using 100% English, I say: yes, this is how it should be, BUT let’s not pick and choose. If we are to be only English, we need to go Fully Byzantine monophonic notation. Otherwise, I am sticking with Arabic. Polyphonic is not recognized in the Orthodox Church.
Orthodox Christian Laity’s push for unity and for English as the standard is not something new. As far back as St. Raphael in 1916 and Met. Bashir in 1939, there was a realization that we need an American Orthodox Church.
OK folks, here we are at the end of 2020 and let’s look at how the Church in America has progressed. IT HASN’T! The Greeks are backward as ever; losing their theological school in Brookline and praising their boondogle in lower Manhattan as a “Great Hellene” victory ( After millions were stolen). The Serbs are isolated; the Antiochians have retreated into more ethnocentrism; the OCA is attracting more converts, but attrition is destroying them. Folks, WE ARE NOWHERE! And WHY? Because in 1970 when ALL the different jurisdictions should have united (as Canon Law dictated), everyone went their own way. Canon Law is clear, “Foreign bishops cannot have dioceses outside their own territory.” What began as a MISSIONARY activity, turned into permanent dioceses. (Non-Canonical). When a CANONICAL, AUTOCEPHALOUS CHURCH “DEVELOPS” in a territory, ALL Orthodox Churches are called to join it; to remain canonical. The stubbornness of ethnic churches to remain under foreign bishops has hurt and even help DESTROY Orthodoxy in America. What has the OCL done? NOTHING. The OCL is in reality just an extension of the GOA promoting HELLENISM. Sad, how very sad! I have the answers, but will the hierarchs listen??? 2021, let’s continue to watch Orthodoxy disappear in America!