“Doug” commented on my earlier post about leaving the Antiochian church with some valid concerns. I can’t and won’t go into any kind of detail in all this but I will try to in a specifically vague way, address some of those concerns.
Were the actions of the bishop justified? No. There were no allegations of misbehavior. There were no concerns about his priestly function or abilities. And the issue is not that the bishop moved the priest. That is certainly within his rights and even responsibility as a bishop. The issue is that he moved the priest above the strenuous and unanimous objections of the parish council without any explanation OR comment. Had he said something like “Father’s talents would be better put to use somewhere else” we would have been fine with that. He ignored and disrepected those who are charged with the governance of that parish body, for no reason, for no cause. The assignment given was, to say the very least, absurd. There was no physical way for our priest to financially support himself or his family, and while there were other parishes available to transfer him to, he was effectively banished.
The canons say that if a bishop fails to meet the physical needs of the priests within his care he is to be excommunicated, and if it continues he is to be removed. We could not get those higher than the bishop to hear us, so…
The reasons behind the decisions to move this priest are good, ol’ fashioned Simony. Acts 8:18-23.
Would a single Orthodox jurisdiction have made what we did/are doing impossible? Yes, but it would have also made it unnecessary. Had there been more parishes, more bishops, more archbishops, and one patriarch all available to weigh in, I do not hesitate to think this would not have happened. If all the links to the “old country” are meaningless, if the influences of “old country” money and loyalties are balanced out and voided, then there are greater chances of other voices being heard. And before this comes up, we are not solely a group of converts. We are an equal mix of converts and “cradles”, of all ethnic varieties.
Please don’t refer to us as Protestants, though I know that is tempting. We are not reinventing the faith. We are not nailing our thesis to the doors and demanding the church change to our interpretations of Scripture and Tradition. We are defending someone who is defenseless. We are trying to protect the faith, and our churches, from the threat of the highest bidder.