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#1 Anna Stickles

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Posted 16 September 2016 - 01:13 PM

This article  was posted yesterday.


He notes that the concerns of the Hiearchs in regards the diaspora are pastoral, which is a good starting place.

He comments

"The aim of the pre-conciliar preparations and participants in the council was to look closely at the current reality and determine the best way over time to supply the faithful with what is missing when individuals and parishes do not have the experience

being part of the Orthodox Church as a whole.

“There is not just the need to work together but to also walk together, and they tend not to do that. They tend to do more on their own and that I think is wrong. We only remember we are one on Sunday of Orthodoxy, or in certain regions in America where some priests, bishops or individual parishes are more sensitive and will meet on a monthly basis.”"


Ultimately isolationism is not going to be solved through changes in administrative structure but through spiritual growth and pastoral instruction. He actually mentions this to some extent.


But on the issue of administrative unity - Is this really needed? Unity is not a matter of meeting on a monthly basis, but of organic relationships, and really this already exists and is growing naturally,  precisely amidst the administrative variety that exists here in America and elsewhere in the Diaspora. It is in these areas that people from various jurisdictions, not just various ethnic backgrounds can worship together more regularly - this actually happens on a grass roots level quite alot. At the local Greek monastery I have met a woman who goes to an OCA parish, and visits the monastery regularly where she goes to confession with her spiritual father who is there. At the same monastery I have met visiting Russians, and those from other Jurisdicitions as well.  Another I know has a spriitual Father who is from ROCOR, goes to an  OCA parish, and visits the Greek monastery on pilgrimage regularly for the spiritual atmosphere there. This is to say nothing of the diverse ethnic background among the congregations of many parishes and monasteries.


It is under these conditions of both ethnic and jurisdictional "unity in diversity" that exist in the Diaspora that the experience of walking together and worshiping together as one body in many members really comes alive as part of an everyday reality, not merely the abstract ideal as it must be for those Orthodox living in Orthodox countries who don't have the opportunity to experience such a thing.


"they can be informed that the aim is not to get rid of your ethnic background and traditions but to rise above them– in the context of Church life, and he noted – “the importance of a unified Orthodox church in America which I believe can be much more credible and influential.””

When we look at the reality of multi-ethnic parishes and monasteries that exist here we see that it is not a matter of rising above them, as if diverse ethnicity is something we need to leave behind, but rather of seeing how all this diversity, in Christ becomes a beautiful harmony rather than a source of contention.  This is what the witness of the Church is all about. If when we move above the grassroots level, and into the higher administrative levels there is contention between jurisdictions, is this not more a matter of overcoming sin rather than of trying to artificially present a unity that is only political and not one of the heart, and one of true harmony?  At least having our faults on display leads towards humility - a welcomed thing to those who are really striving for spiritual truth.


Which really gets us to the crux of the conflict that exists over the council and it's leanings. The problem is not being afraid of dialogue, nor of isolationism - but rather we see how trying to be "credible and influential" is not part of the example of Jesus, the lives of the saints, nor the Orthodox ethic. This passion only leads those who are struggling with it into accepting the values that those outside the Church consider credible and important in order to be a welcome and appreciated contributor. (for example)


He agreed that it is a voice that other religious groups and participants in the great social and ethical debates of our time, in areas like bio-ethics, the environment, and social justice – welcome


If we look at the history of Christianity in the west and the growth of secularism we see a common theme - the Scholastic theologians adopted a method of theology wherein they were trying to prove rationally the doctrines of Christianity based on philosophical assumptions that were accepted at that time. This meant that instead of tradition having authority that gradually became more and more evident to those who struggled to purify themselves, now we had a theological method wherein the particular philosophical principles were taken as authoritative and Christian doctrine had to prove itself under these conditions.


During the Enlightenment and afterword we see how the academic theologians were constantly re-writing Christian dogmas in order to make them intellectually credible to those who had adopted the philosophical presuppositions of the era. Whether this meant getting rid of and re-explaining all supernatural phenomena in the Bible to those who had adopted a rationalistic Enlightenment philosophy, or re-writing traditional dogmas in order to follow some "spiritual intuition" among those who followed the Romantic and existentialist trends.


What has happened intellectually over the past couple of centuries is now happening morally in our time.

Edited by Anna Stickles, 16 September 2016 - 01:18 PM.

#2 Phoebe K.

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Posted 17 September 2016 - 12:33 PM

The diaspora is pastoral but it is mostly a canonical issues, where I live in the UK we have three bishops living in one City, and six or seven jurisdictions overlapping to cover the whole country.  As a result of this we end up with the situation of one city having three parishes while two neighboring ones have limited services once a month or once every other month, and several more have no services at all, even though their are Orthodox living there.  There is also limited communication between the parishes on a local level, leaving those who are Orthodox but not of the ethnicity represented locally feeling disenfranchised and an inconvenience at times.


When the Church condemns “ethnophyletism,” extreme nationalism is the issue, not ethnic pride or patriotism. As Fr. Chryssavgis noted “There is also an unhealthy form of patriotism that can almost be dysfunctional in the Church.”

This is possibly more noticeable within the diaspora in Europe being closer to the traditional Orthodox Countries, and can be a big hindrance to mission as most non-orthodox see it and are presented it as a cultural thing not a way of life which is beyond national and reganal ties.


I know this is an issue which needs to be tackled at many levels, by teaching and cooperation between the bishops, in parishes by the use of the vernacular alongside the ethnic language as a start and teaching to help the people understand that the church is not about recreating the home country but about eternity which know no ethnicity.  But alone side this the actions of individuals visiting parishes other than their own and building friendships based on a shared faith rather than a shared ethnicity.

#3 Kosta


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Posted 18 September 2016 - 02:36 AM

The truth is the council of 1872 which condemned phyletism as heresy along with the Congress of 1922 and finally this Cretan meeting should all be rejected as false councils in one broad stroke. Ethnophyletism is NOT a heresy it's just a sin. If it was a heresy that makes all in the diaspora heretics and pseudo-Orthodox!At the very least the Bulgarians reject this 1872 decision.

#4 Anna Stickles

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 04:19 PM

thanks for sharing, these are some very good reflections and I found them helpful.

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