“Unity in our time”… JP, what are you smokin’, who’s your connection, what’s the price, and where can I get some?
I have recently seen with my own eyes that OCA priests have not vested and served in GOA liturgies, though all others do. The canonical status of the OCA is, of course, peculiar, with the autocephaly recognised only by a Moscow Patriarchate of nearly 40 years ago, under vastly different circumstances.
What I’ve noticed is that the Greek hierarchs here have gone silent about Jonah Paffhausen just after his intemperate, inconsiderate, and foolish comments during Lent. A number of bishops issued statements in response at that time, politely ripping him a new one, but, since then: zilch. That means something is undoubtedly up. But, what that may be is unclear as yet. Like all well-mannered people, our bishops are keeping their cards close.
From what I’ve seen, the OCL is dealt with like a crazy, ranting cousin: politely listened to because they’re family, but, their recommendations are completely ignored. It has no canonical or ecclesiastical status, and thus has no standing. It’s that simple. Greeks love to argue, of course, even when they’re wrong (as the OCL is!). The converts that get into the OCL are usually former Episcopalians or radical Latins that want to take over the Church and remake it in their own image. Everyone I know holds the OCL in scorn, and thinks people are simply wrong for participating in it. There have certainly been various scandals and problems, but, the OCL is by no means a solution, although it was ostensibly those scandals that led to its creation by disgruntled parishioners.
But, yes, I’ve seen that same division you mention: the OCA and AOCANA (we call them “the Arabs”) on one side, and everyone else on the other. Saliba has too much power, and is grasping for more. You know all his pet evangelicals? They first applied to be accepted en masse into the Greek Archdiocese, but, they were told, “No, you’re not ready. You need more instruction”. Among other things, they had “problems” with the role of the Virgin Mary in the Church! So, they got pissed, turned around, and went to the Arabs, who hoovered them right up, though at least demoting their bishops to priests (which the Greeks were not willing to do at all: they wanted everyone to convert individually, without retaining their corporate structure or ordinations). So, just a few years later, the Ben Lomond schism happened, and a bunch of them solicited the Jerusalem Patriarch (talk about canonically odd!) to bring them under his omophorion. The rest stuck with Saliba and his treacherous gang. It’s a total mess.
A Good Ol’ Workin’ Chap
I asked a friend of mine in the Greek Church for their take on the noises about unity coming from JP and Co as of late. The above was their answer to me. Before you do anything else, do read the following on oca.org:
Read it? Good! You just looked at something that we should nominate for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction! It doesn’t show the real world as it is… JP is stoking up the bong and inhaling deeply, friends and neighbours.
First, Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) is not an official organisation of the GOAA… indeed, one could say that it is a group of malcontents at odds with the GOA hierarchy. Most Greek circles hold it is in very low repute. That is to say, JP addressed a faction that is anti-clerical and in rebellion against its bishops. He did not speak to a group that is in good odour with the GOA. Then, we must add to this mutinous soupçon the fact that it took place at Antiochian Village, an official facility of the AOCANA. For Saliba to give the use of one of his facilities to a set that often attacks the GOA leadership is, essentially, an attack against the GOAA. Note well that oca.org is pumping this meeting up as an important event. If we take this and add to it his attack on the GOAA earlier this year, JP is in trouble. He is in the deep kimchi and all the King’s horses and all the King’s men will not be able to pull him out of it.
Apparently, there are already places were OCA clergy cannot concelebrate at a GOAA liturgy. I should add that when Iggy had our church dedication liturgy on Saturday 30 May, only one GOAA priest showed up (he was a classmate of the Iggster at a special programme at SVS… so he doesn’t count). The rector of the largest GOAA parish (St Sophia in Albany NY) wasn’t there… neither were any clergy from Jordanville (we are a 90-minute drive (some 110 kilometres) from the monastery… so it was practical for clergy from there to have been present). Doesn’t sound too united to me! JP drew only 80 people to this event… I counted them. I was there. I saw the autos in the car-park and noticed that their licence-plates were from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York State. It took people from three different states to come up with less than 100 in attendance. That is meagre, derisory in the extreme, I say. It calls all the puffery on oca.org into question.
The above destroys the oca.org article. There is no need to go into a long discussion on the Chambésy gabfest. It was NOT a meeting of First Hierarchs, nothing of note happened, for they agreed to nothing binding. It was nothing but a pointless and windy talkathon… a bunch of irrelevant theologians made the usual lot of useless resolutions and said the usual empty phrases about unity. It would impress me if, let’s say, Fr Vsevolod Chaplin or Bishop Mark Golovkov were to have said something about this (they are trustworthy sources). Instead, we have the usual windy talk from Hilarion Alfeyev… don’t forget that KMG took major portions of the DECR away from him and that HA is only a titular bishop (Volokolamsk is in Moscow Oblast, some 125 kilometres from Moscow City, thus, it is directly under the Patriarch (in reality, under his vicar, Metropolitan Yuvenaly)).
Therefore, unity is not around the corner… indeed, by flippantly speaking to the disobedient and unruly buccaneers at OCL, JP put a serious and grievous roadblock on the way to real unity! I agree with my Greek friend. Something is in the works and JP is not going to like it when Demetrios Trakatellis gives him a good dose of Granny’s castor oil (with the open and hearty aid of KMG, you can bank on that). Reading oca.org is like reading Pravda of old… there is little there that corresponds to reality, but, there is gold for those who are willing to dig for it. I’ll say this; it’s never boring covering the OCA beat… things keep getting curiouser and curiouser. Let’s see what’s next… JP as His All-Holiness Infallible Pope and Patriarch of all America, Canada, Mexico, and the Outer Islands? (Shaking my head in wonderment and bemusement) It DOES take all kinds, doesn’t it?
Thursday 5 November 2009