[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] Patriarch John X Receives Retirement Letter from Metropolitan Joseph - Orthodox Christian Laity

Patriarch John X Receives Retirement Letter from Metropolitan Joseph


Source: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

​Statement in English البيان باللغة العربية

No: 90/2022

To our Beloved in the Lord, The Hierarchs, Priests, Deacons, Members of the Board of Trustees, and Spiritual Children of our Holy Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America,

I greet you in Christ, lifting up my prayers for your protection.

Further to my previous letters to you at this critical period in the life of the Archdiocese, I would like through the present letter to inform you of the following:
First, we have received from His Eminence, the Most Reverend JOSEPH Zehlaoui, Metropolitan of New York and Archbishop of all North America, his Retirement Letter from his position as Metropolitan of the Archdiocese.
Second, we will duly forward the letter of His Eminence to the Holy Synod to take the necessary actions accordingly.
Third, the immediate effect of the resignation of His Eminence the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese and the circumstances related to it necessitate from us, as patriarch, to take appropriate measures in order to ensure the proper care and administration of the Archdiocese, in preparation for the next phase. We will inform you of these measures in due course.
Fourth, we ask the Lord to give Metropolitan JOSEPH many years of good health, that he “may complete the remaining time of his life in peace and repentance,” in a manner well-pleasing to the Lord, and in His Grace.
Fifth, last but not least, I call upon you again to remain united in prayer, and we are with you in this before the Lord, asking for the wellbeing of the Archdiocese and of each and every one member in it, both clergy and laity. We put our hope in the Lord, and He always does not disappoint those who rely on Him with faith.
With our Apostolic blessings.
Damascus, 17 September 2022.
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East

Related Articles
An Update from Patriarch John X regarding accusations against Metropolitan JOSEPH – Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

A Message from Patriarch JOHN X of Antioch regarding accusations against Metropolitan JOSEPH – Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America



  1. Now that Metropolitan Joseph has submitted his resignation as the head of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, the time has come to turn and face the future not only of that “ethnic jurisdiction” but what this portends for the future of Orthodoxy in America.

    Who will lead this important part of the Church on these shores going forward?

    How will he be chosen? What input will the faithful in North America have in his selection? Is its claimed “autonomy” real? Or, is it an illusory autonomy that offers only lip service to the clergy and laity it is supposed to serve?

    Will he favor the unification of the Church in America as +Metropolitan Philip, of blessed memory did? What voice will the converts who came into Orthodoxy under +Philip have in the direction of the Church?

    What position will the the new Metropolitan take with respect to the Declaration for Orthodox Christian Unity in America, as a leader of his flock and as a member of the Assembly of Bishops?

    Will he be able to convince Patriarch John that the ancient, struggling Patriarchate of Antioch has nothing to fear, but much to gain from a united, strong, growing autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America?

    It is time to look past the past and pray that both Antioch and Constantinople live up to the opportunities that the future could provide if they are willing to trust in it.

  2. The Antiochians have no REAL leadership. Met. Philip was a leader. Of course, he toed the line according to what the Synod overseas wanted – unfortunately. Everyone has to realize that NOTHING will change regarding unity of the Orthodox churches in America unless ALL the bishops here join in their own AUTOCEPHALOUS SYNOD rejecting their foreign overseers. The Canons are clear that foreign bishops have no authority outside their own territory. America is no longer a missionary activity and no churches can be a diocese of any foreign bishop.

  3. “ALL the bishops here” have to finally understand that only by coming together as an autocephalous synod can they finally be empowered to be real bishops.

    As long as they are subject to the synods in the Old World that appointed them (and can remove them for any, or no, reason) they are not able to function as real bishops. Autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in America does not mean abandoning the Mother Churches. It means joining them as a sister church that will grow and offer more support, financial, spiritual and political, than is now possible.

  4. Peter Ray Millman on

    The Antiochian Orthodox Church is headquartered in Damascus, Syria. The last time I checked ( a couple of minutes ago ) Syria is in the third world. Why on earth would a third world country have any influence or input in the preeminent first world country in the world – the US? Perhaps, I’m slow on the uptake, but it just doesn’t seem to make sense to me!! By the way, this is not an admission that I’m slow on the uptake. Thank you!!

    • Your comment about Syria sounds familiar. In the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verses 45-47, Nathaniel says, referring to Jesus, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” At that time, Nazareth was considered one of the lowliest places on earth.

  5. Look guys, the Canons are clear. Every territory (country) will have its own bishop(s), churches, monasteries, etc. to be overseen by its own autocephalous church. A foreign bishop CANNOT have a diocese OUTSIDE his own territory. Missionary activities are temporary; creating a diocese is permanent. The irregular Canonical situation was meant to be resolved in 1970 with the formulation of the only autocephalous church in America where ALL Orthodox churches in America would join and all bishops sit on its Synod. This was agreed to by SCOBA, but the Antiochians & Greeks reneged. Byzantine double-talk!

  6. George D. Karcazes on


    When are you going to stop dwelling on 1970 and join the rest of us in 2022?

    Complaining about what you claim SCOBA “agreed” to and what the Antiochians and Greeks did or did not do in 1970 is beyond tiresome.

    We now have an Assembly of Bishops (AOB) charged with bringing the Church in America into canonical order.

    What are you doing to convince the bishops in the AOB to unite and ask their foreign synods to agree that the Church in America should be united and autocephalous?

  7. George:
    Only by understanding the recent history of the Orthodox Churches in America can one understand where we are or where we are going. After + Iakovos, Istanbul installed a lackey who didn’t last long. He refused to join SCOBA and insisted a NEW organization be created, The Episcopal Assembly. The problem with this new organization was that it was formulated according to the DIPTYCHS; that is,

    Pat. Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome
    His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
    His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
    His Beatitude Theophilus III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine
    His Beatitude Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

    What this NEW format did was place all the FOREIGN bishops in control of what was SCOBA and completely independent of them. This format helped destroy any UNITY of the Orthodox Churches in America and completely ignored the OCA as the only autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. The Assembly is a sham.

    The ONLY hope for unity as I’ve mentioned previously, is for ALL the bishops in the Assembly to declare en masse that are declaring themselves AUTOCEPHALOUS and either joining the OCA Synod (as required by Canon Law) or creating a new autocephalous church where ALL the American bishops are members.

  8. George D. Karcazes on


    I agree that understanding the recent history of the Orthodox Churches in America is both interesting and important, but looking ahead at what we can do about it is where our attention should be directed.

    Whatever SCOBA was is irrelevant to our situation today. Except for the OCA, all of the bishops in SCOBA were also subject to the foreign synods that had appointed them. Otherwise, they would not have withdrawn their signatures from the documents they all signed at Ligonier.

    The Assembly of Bishops in America [and elsewhere] was created by agreement of ALL of the Primates of the autocephalous churches at a meeting in Chambessy. I do not believe that any bishops from Alexandria or Jerusalem are included. Likewise, Moscow is not participating since they withdrew because of their schism with Constantinople. Probably a good thing under the present circumstances.

    Characterizing the AOB as a sham does not advance the cause of unity and autocephaly. It ignores a lot of the good work they have actually done over the years. It also ignores the fact that the AOB has the legitimacy that SCOBA lacked, because it has, at least, the pro forma buy-in of all of the Mother Churches.

    I am in complete agreement with your last paragraph. That is exactly what the Declaration calls for. That is why you should sign it and encourage everyone you know to add their names as well.

  9. We need Orthodox Unity by uniting the American people living and working and praying in America for the multiple generations we have been here in the United States. It was the hoped-for event of 1970 and our generation here as Orthodox Christians in America. That is what we need to stand for and to do and proclaim. In doing so, foreign bishops and bishops sent by foreign powers should have NO administrative powers in America, PERIOD! The recent matter of the Antiochian Diocese needing to look to a foreign Patriarch shows the necessity for the Orthodox Christian Laity to be the ones in charge of parish safety and personnel and employment monitoring issues. Let’s be legal and safe in our communities in America as Americans. In doing so, the wedge that was placed for disunity that led to war will be resolved because there will be no power struggle of world domination because our focus is on our children, the church in the home, and work prayer, and witness in our local areas by caring for ourselves in a God-pleasing manner.

    • Peter Ray Millman on

      Dear Mother Elizabeth,
      Your words almost sound like they are from our Lord and Savior- Jesus Christ. Every word is full of wisdom and grace. In all humility, I have to rate you up there with Mr. Karcazes in terms of wisdom, and eloquence.

  10. Mother Elizabeth:

    I respectfully do not understand your post on this issue. Please explain your following statement regarding “disunity that led to war”:

    “Let’s be legal and safe in our communities in America as Americans. In doing so, the wedge that was placed for disunity that led to war will be resolved because there will be no power struggle of world domination because our focus is on our children, the church in the home, and work prayer, and witness in our local areas by caring for ourselves in a God-pleasing manner.”

    Personally, the Orthodox Church in America doesn’t need autocephaly as much as it needs a radical reformation.

    • Peter Ray Millman on

      Hello Peter,
      …will you kindly explain to us what you mean when you say the Orthodox Church in America needs a radical reformation?

    • Peter Ray Millman on

      Hi Peter,
      I find your comments to Mother Elizabeth to be very alarming. As Mr. Karcazes has so eloquently stated on these very pages, the most important issue facing the Orthodox Church in America is autocephaly. Everyone of us should have signed the Declaration by now. First, autocephaly, and spiritual renewal shall follow…the most important issue concerning the Orthodox Church in America is autocephaly. Instead of listening to those who seek to destroy the Orthodox Church, listen instead to Mr. Karcazes. That’s what intelligent people do because he is full of maturity, and intelligence, and wishes the best for the Orthodox Church.

    • There would not have been the power struggle between the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Russian Patriarch if there would have been recognition by the Greek Orthodox in America of the Autocephaly GIFTED to America in 1970 by the Russian Orthodox Church of Russia. Instead, there remained competing forces when cooperation was needed. I could write a documentary book on how those competing forces have impacted my missionary life and my service to the Orthodox Church from 1967 to the present day. I am not writing from ‘abstract’ thinking, Yet, just as St. Paul was turned away from the established places of worship by many of the religious leaders of his time when he sought to share the crucified and resurrected Christ and a way of love for all people, we to must turn the tide of power struggles, to bless those who curse us, to forgive and bond with all seekers of eternal life and form a union of Orthodox Christians in America that is ‘diaconal’ in nature. One of service and love and that both inspires and regulates in a legal way how servant leadership for both men and women should operate within the legal structures of their communities. The bishops and priests must be free of certain tasks just as it is in Holy Scriptures that deacons were needed and added. The training and the recognition for leadership male and female so parishes are open EVERY DAY is a goal we should consider. I believe if we really attend to the needs at hand and do these things, God will recognize our repentance and turn back the struggles of the current war in Ukraine and Russia. Then there will be no way any payment of monies, bribes, and the use of simony, and those issues that in turn support human trafficking, can find a foothold, because we will be brothers and sisters working legally and peacefully and humbly to overcome these very human struggles and refocus us on the path or as St. Innocent, Apostle of America and later Metropolitan of Moscow would say, “The Indication to the Kingdom of Heaven”, so that each of hearts’ desire would be for the attainment of the Holy Spirit and every action and work will be guided by that direction, as we were instructed by the blessed Saint Seraphim of Sarov who guided so many of the initial founders and emigres to America more than 150 years ago. . . Orthodoxy in Alaska touched my teenage heart in 1970, and I prepared to travel to Alaska until I was rerouted to Florida. My faithful friends, many departed this life as Archbishop Gregory and the several Father Kretas, some in this video. I hope you will watch this posting and pray and find it touching your heart too as we pray for Christ-like love to abound and ask the prayers of our Holy Father, the layman and unordained and simple monk, St. Herman, to guide us at the opening of the OCL conference in Atlanta this week. Mother Elizabeth Klipa-Bacha, New Tikhvin Skete of the Holy Mother of God, ROCOR in Palm Coast, Florida. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcLREBBc6cI&ab_channel=KUACFairbanks

      • Thank you, Mother. That film is beautiful. And so a good analysis of the situation with the “big hats” Like that joke we have as a government, nobody wants to give up power, nobody…I’m sorry, but as I told my wife of 52 years, it is all there in the Bible. Seems we are being led by Pharisees.

  11. Jurisdictional struggle is a result of not following the directive of our Lord: “he who would be great among you must be servant of all.” This was Jesus’ response to the power issue.

  12. The struggle between Istanbul & the Rus began after the Council of Florence 1431 and 1449. This is where the Greek bishops signed a union with Rome. All, but Mark of Ephesus. When Isidore, Greek bishop of the Rus returned, he was thrown out as bishop. The Kievan/Rus declared THEMSELVES autocephalous and appointed their own bishop. This was the beginning of declaring themselves as “The Third Rome” since Constantinople fell into heresy. Constantinople didn’t recognize the Rus autocephaly for over 200 years. The tension continued to build between the Greeks & the Rus. After the fall of the Soviet Union and church revival in Russia, Russia became the country with the most Orthodox in the world. Istanbul with its hubris, continues to insist that it’s “First Among Equals” claim gives it authority over ALL Orthodox over the entire world. WRONG! So, what is the “First among equals?” All this meant was that this bishop, RAN THE MEETINGS when the other Patriarchs met. Also, mediated disputes among the patriarchs. NOTHING MORE! Now, the MP has also claimed OVER REACH in its authority worldwide. Both entities are wrong. How to solve? Go back to Canon Law and FOLLOW THE CANONS!

  13. Cato the Elder on


    Which canons?

    If two canons are in conflict, who decides which canon should be followed?

    Assuming a meeting of all of the heads of the autocephalous churches is actually held, how are decisions made? Majority vote.. 50% +1? Super-majority.. 2/3rds or 3/4ths? Unanimous.. one holdout means stalemate?

    If Moscow and Constantinople can’t agree on an issue, can the other heads of churches come together and make a decision as to that issue?

    Can the Holy Spirit be relied upon to decide the issue by a coinflip?

    • Absolutely you are correct! Repentance IS needed. But I ask, repentance from what? I say repentance on the parts of those who have violated the canons (i.e. ALL Patriarchates)!

  14. Cato the Elder on

    Oh, and…

    By the way, when was the last canon written?

    Who wrote it?

    Have any of them ever been modified, amended, overturned?

    What, if any, is the amendment procedure?

    Usually when someone tells you “It’s canonical” or “Follow the canons” they usually mean: “This is above your pay-grade! Just do as I say and don’t ask questions.” Mostly that is what you might hear from Hierarchs.

    Nikolai, are you a Hierarch?

  15. Cato: The main Canons here are those concerning Church Organization. CLEARLY, they state that no bishop can have diocese outside their own territory. Neither the MP nor the EP or any other. Therefore, in America, NO FOREIGN BISHOP HAS ANY CLAIM TO A DIOCESE. The MP with “Russian Mir” is ridiculous. The EP with usurping authority it doesn’t have. It’s silly!

    • Nikolai,

      I’m no canonist but I seem to recall that the problem with looking at canons from centuries ago is how they apply in situations that were inconceivable when they were enacted.

      As a general rule, I like your reductionist rule that bishops can’t have dioceses outside of their own territories. That would make sense when everyone knew the territory each bishop was in charge of.

      When these canons were enacted, the western hemisphere hadn’t even been “discovered”. It was unknown to the canon writers.

      Is there a canon that gives jurisdiction over a territory that has no bishops to the bishop that first sends missionaries to that territory?

      Is there another canon that gives the bishop who presides over the synod of all of the bishops at the time the canon is written (the first among equals) the right to claim jurisdiction over “barbarian lands” (i.e., lands that are nearby and known, but have no bishops yet)?

      Oh, by the way, were these canons adopted before July 16, 1054?

      Pick a canon, and then pick a canonist who will interpret the canon the way you prefer, and then convene a Holy and Great Council to agree on which interpretation to follow, and then adopt a rule that decisions must be made unanimously and then have some churches boycott the Council.

      Is this the Ortho-praxis way of doing things?

      Meanwhile, can we agree that a church that isn’t growing is dying?

      If the Assembly of Bishops doesn’t declare itself to be a synod and announce that the Church in the United States is autocephalous, they should all resign and move to the territories “controlled” by the Synods that appointed them.

      Once they’ve all gone home, the clergy and laity in this territory should elect new bishops as provided by the canons.

      • Cato: You don’t get it. The Canons for Church Organization were specifically set up to assure autocephalous churches in a territory. Once missionary activity is complete (like the Apostles) then bishops were consecrated to RUN THEIR OWN, INDEPENDENT CHURCHES. In the case of the U.S., missionary activity took place, but the overseas bishops never let go. They turned these missions into dioceses. This is NOT CANONICAL. For this reason, SCOBA tried to normalize this by supporting the creation of the ONLY autocephalous Orthodox church in 1970, The Orthodox Church in America. The Greeks & Antiochians reneged on joining the OCA.

        • George D. Karcazes on


          You just don’t seem to be able to let go of SCOBA, 1970 and “the Greeks and Antiochians reneging on joining the OCA” 52 years ago!

          Do you have anything to say about OCL’s Declaration which is about today and today’s Assembly of Bishops?

          Most OCA Hierarchs, clergy and laity support the Declaration. Do you? Have you encouraged all your friends, relatives and compatriots to add their names?

          If not the Declaration, what?

          If not OCL, who?

          Do you have a plan going forward?

          I have to assume that you agree that there can only be one Orthodox Church in the United States, that it should be united under a single synod and that it should be autocephalous.

          1. How do you propose to make that happen?

          2. What have you done to promote your proposal?

  16. Back to the scriptures should be the clarion call of the Church. Second to that should be the Fathers. Most of the writings of the Father’s come from the scriptures and their interpretation of the scriptures. One cannot begin to understand the Fathers without knowledge of the scriptures.

  17. Peter Ray Millman on

    Dear Nikolai,
    I have a great amount of respect for you, but (and I mean this with nothing but kindness), are you going to keep cursing the darkness or are you going to light a candle with Mr. Karcazes, and the rest of us by getting on board with the declaration. Thank you.

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