Most Americans in my experience have little experience with and knowledge of Orthodox Christianity. This is even more true when it comes to our brother and sister Orthodox church members in the USA. They comprise only about 1% of our population. This translates, however, to over 1,000,000 members. Unless one lives in a metropolitan area and knows someone who is Orthodox, chances are you have only the foggiest idea about them. This blog from Fr. Ted will help you to begin to understand Orthodoxy.
Fr. Ted gives us a penetrating look into an Orthodox world of 2010 A. D. in the USA. He speaks of a meeting of various Orthodox jurisdictions trying to bring new order into their Orthodox world. In some ways, church relations between the various Orthodox bodies has a distinctly Western flavor in so far as power struggles and efforts at control. It will be interesting to see what comes from this. It sort of reminds me of some Episcopal and Church of England histories. As with many USA denominations, much of their efforts revolve around money. Most Orthodox bodies in the USA (less so the OCA, Fr. Ted’s Church body) send great amounts of dollars back to their Mother Churches. As is so often true, “Follow the dollars”.
From Fr. Ted’s Blog (with permission)
Fr. Ted Bobosh is a priest in the Orthodox Church in America. He has degrees from the Ohio State University, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and Fordham University. He is the parishpriest of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Dayton, OH. He has authored several books, and was for 12 years an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton, Religious Studies Department. The blogs which are posted here are his meditations and observations as well as offering some materials from others which have influenced his thinking. He welcomes you to engage in reflecting on these topics by offering your thoughts as a fellow sojourner in this God’s beloved world.
I listened to Ancient Faith Radio’sUnraveling Chambesy – Administrative Unity In Our Time (Part 2) which included an interview with Fr. Mark Arey who was said to be the Secretary of SCOBA [Standing Committee of Orthodox Bishops in America] but who was speaking as an official representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch. I found that interesting. He wasn’t speaking as a representative of SCOBA. In fact SCOBA is probably now irrelevant since it was created by the initiative of local bishops in America to deal with common issues among the various Orthodox jurisdictions. It is now supplanted by an organization created by the so called “mother churches of Orthodoxy” and more controlled by, aligned with and beholden to the Patriarch of Constantinople. It also is to me interesting that the official Chambesy Documents are not listed on the SCOBA webpage but rather are on the webpage of the Greek Archdiocese. This too would be indicative of the position Constantinople is claiming in dealing with Orthodoxy in the world beyond the borders of ancient Byzantium.
The Episcopal Assemblies created by the Chambesy agreement orient the bishops toward the mother churches rather than toward each other. SCOBA has no place at the Episcopal Assembly table since it would be seen as a para-church organization. The local hierarchs have been re-divided along “ethnic” (patriarchal) lines. If SCOBA had created any sense of commonality among the “competing” jurisdictional bishops, the deck is being reshuffled and relationships reconsidered.
This is completely redefining the efforts toward inter-Orthodox co-operation in America. What remains to be seen is whether the OCA has any place at the Episcopal Assembly table. In any case the OCA (and the issue of its autocephaly) will now be subsumed in the Episcopal Assembly format chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarch. This is all being done with the agreement of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Additionally all of the recent hubbub in the Antiochian Archdiocese about autonomy and the role of the Metropolitan also will eventually be recast by the Episcopal Assembly to be dealt with canonically by worldwide Orthodoxy under the leadership of Constantinople, not locally by Englewood or even by Antioch.
Could Chambesy thus be seen as creating a “supra-patriarchal” structure in the Episcopal Assemblies to deal with the current non-canonical situation of the Church in the so-called Diaspora? The documents do say immediately each bishop will continue to function within and answer to his own current canonical structure – but the goal is to regularize the situation within the canons. It will be interesting to see how these multiple Patriarchal claims and interests will be dealt with. Does the Patriarch of Constantinople without an Emperor to back him have the influence or power to claim universal/ecumenical primacy (or even supremacy) over all other Orthodox patriarchates and bishops?
The venue for dealing with Orthodox unity in America has been shifted away from a discussion in and about the autocephaly of the OCA to a much bigger frame of reference: that of worldwide (and specifically old world) Orthodoxy. The issue of unity in America is not being treated as a local problem to be solved by the Orthodox in America but rather is being put into the canonical framework of Orthodoxy to be dealt with by the mother churches not by the local church.