Voices from Russia

Monday, 31 May 2010

“One of These Things is NOT Like the Other…”

This high-res image is from the GOA site… neither of the sites below had one. Note that the centre figure is Archbishop Demetrios and Archbishop Yustinian is sitting next to him. Note the relatively minor position of JP… he’s being snubbed by both the EP and MP… he’s not in the front row (in fact, there’s no OCA bishop in the front row). Let’s put it plainly… this photo shows that Yustinian “outranks” JP… and the MP and EP wish this known publicly. It’s a “Lenin’s Tomb moment”, no?

These two posts are seemingly identical… bring both of them up in separate windows and have them at “small” size (the middle of the three icons in the upper-right corner) so you can have them up simultaneously and move between them easily:

http://www.oca.org/news/2168

http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/1170644.html

Those without facility in Russian should run a machine translation on the latter post.

Look especially at the clergy listing. The OCA listing wishes to give you the impression that everyone signed as equals and as individuals. The MP listing makes it clear that the participants signed as (and were listed as) members of specific Churches and that there were officers of the Assembly (the OCA listing was deliberately unclear about the officers, it did not set them apart as distinctly as the MP list did). The OCA submission omitted the fact that the bishops signed as members of their respective archdioceses (note well that the “Ukrainians” were part of a generic EP delegation, they were not labelled as such). I submit that this is a deliberate distortion on the part of the OCA, for no OCA bishop was chosen as an officer of the Assembly. Note well the Vice Chairmen… one understands Philip Saliba being one, for this is the kind of political gabfest that he excels at. The other is a surprise, for it was Bishop Yustinian Ovchinnikov, the head of the MP diocese in the USA. That isn’t logical… it should have been Jonas Paffhausen. This signals that the EP still does not accept the OCA as a recognised Local Church. It also means that Yustinian was Kirill’s commissar to this undertaking. To compound matters, it means that Moscow is not arguing with the EP openly on this matter… no good news for the autocephalist fanatics such as Stokoe.

There is one item of notice in this boilerplate reportage of a bootless conference. The “North American” conference is being split into Canadian and American sections, and the Latin Americans are going to be joined to the South American group. This is an implicit condemnation of the OCA structure, for it claims to be the Local Church in these areas.

In short, this is not welcome news for the OCA. I wondered why there was a dearth of reportage of this on oca.org after all the publicity, and the bishops’ list on the Russian site gives the answer. The OCA was shoved to the sidelines; its opinions don’t amount to bubkes in the eyes of the EP and the MP. The OCA’s days may be numbered. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.

Here’s a little note on the coverage… on both sites, only a low resolution image was posted. That doesn’t surprise me as far as the MP site is concerned, North America is a rather minor and inconsequential outpost of the Church with no major influence on its larger life. However, the OCA doing the same was odd… after all, they’d been pumping this up unmercifully. I believe it’s because they got lower billing than they expected… bully for the other bishops! They did right.

Nevertheless, keep in mind that this “Episcopal Assembly” is Bart’s notional will o’ the wisp with no powers or authority. Nothing has changed… save for an “interesting message” on the future of the OCA (pictures DO speak louder than words, Virginia… that’s why it’s a cliché).

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Monday 31 May 2010

Albany NY

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