Source: Orthodox Christian Laity
Can it be that the First-Vice Chair of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, Metropolitan Joseph, may not attend the 6th Meeting that will take place in Chicago from September 15-17? As of September 10, he has not responded to the invitation to attend. He has received special calls to obtain his response. He is also chairman of an important committee on Pastoral Practices. Why is he not going? He did not attend the meeting in mid-June at the Phanar in Istanbul with the other heads of committees who met with Patriarch Bartholomew.
It should be noted that in efforts to obtain information about the participation of the Metropolitan, I was told that the Antiochian Archdiocese considers the Assembly to be uncanonical. That is interesting, because the 14 Autocephalous Patriarchs, including Antioch, who set up the Assembly in 2008 at a meeting of all of them, stated that the Orthodox Church structures outside of the boundaries of the Roman Empire were uncanonical. Parallel Orthodox Churches in geographic areas are not the way the Orthodox Church is organized. Now, some members of the Antiochian Archdiocese profess that a meeting of the Bishops in an Assembly chaired by an Exarch of the Patriarch of Constantinople is problematic. They claim that he has no standing to chair the meeting, and it makes no difference if Metropolitan Joseph attends. What did the 14 Patriarchs set up in 2008? Is this a charade? Where are all these canons? Who keeps them? Is this expression thrown about to bully the faithful?
Why has this issue not been brought to the attention of the Assembly before this 6th Meeting? Is it really an excuse not to participate in a dialogue and discussion with the other brother bishops? Does the Antiochian Archdiocese not care about the Orthodox Christians living in the geographic area of the USA? Is it trying to sabotage the meeting? This is a reversal of its historic role in the era of Metropolitan Philip. I was told by insiders of the Antiochian Archdiocese that Metropolitan Philip accomplished nothing.
Please note the agenda that is printed as part of this announcement. According to an assembly announcement, “This year’s meeting will include two sessions devoted to canonical regional planning. In the first of these sessions, the Assembly’s 12 jurisdictional first hierarchs will have an opportunity to offer their comments on a proposal that has been prepared by the Committee for Canonical Regional Planning for submission to the Great and Holy Council in 2016. In the second session, the Assembly’s hierarchs will engage in a facilitated discussion about the proposal. This year’s meeting also includes a working session on pastoral practices of marriage and divorce.”
It is the position of Orthodox Christian Laity that Canonical Order in the USA will be accomplished when the Assembly of Bishops becomes a Synod of Bishops, elects its own head, and therefore is autocephalous and self-governing. Hierarchy, clergy and laity working in synergy with the Holy Spirit and each other is canonical order. Let us pray that the Assembly of Bishops develops and implements this blueprint; and those who do not like it, can remain uncanonical.
OCL Executive Director
The Canonical Status of the Patriarch of Constantinople in the Orthodox Church – Holy Trinity Cathedral