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Letter from Metropolitan PHILIP Regarding Decision of the Holy Synod

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://antiochian.org/assets/writer/LetterfromMetropolitanPHILIPRegardingDec_A20F/Met_Ph_Signature.jpg Letter from Metropolitan PHILIP Regarding Decision of
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 4, 2009
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      Letter from Metropolitan PHILIP Regarding Decision of the Holy Synod

      Metropolitan PHILIP writes:

      March 4, 2009

      Beloved Hierarchs and Clergy, Members of the Board of Trustees of the
      Archdiocese, Parish Councils and Faithful of this God-Protected Archdiocese:

      Greetings and blessings during this Holy Lenten Season!

      There have been some questions raised regarding the February 24th
      decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which addressed the status of
      bishops across the entire See of Antioch. The purpose of this letter
      is to try to answer these questions so that confusion may be avoided.

      The first question deals with whether or not I am supportive of the
      decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch which was taken on February 24,
      2009. I am supportive of this decision, for a simple reason. I am
      convinced that the institutional structure of our Archdiocese here
      requires it at this time. One of the greatest assets that we have
      been blessed with in this Archdiocese is our strong unity. We cannot
      take any chance that disunity would occur in the Antiochian
      Archdiocese. I believe that this decision supports maximum unity and
      guards against any fracture in the future. I approved the decision of
      the Holy Synod based on my background and personal experience. I came
      to this country in 1956 from a divided nation. I found in North
      America a divided Antiochian family: first between "Russy" and
      "Antaki", and second between New York and Toledo. I worked very hard
      to unite this family at the cost of blood and tears. I will guard
      this unity with my life and I will leave to our future generations a
      strong and unified Antiochian family in North America. If we do not
      learn from the mistakes of history, we will be condemned to repeat
      the same mistakes. In my judgement, the models of other Orthodox
      jurisdictions simply do not work, and the examples are numerous. Most
      importantly, I do not see the action of the Holy Synod of Antioch as
      making that much practical change in the way we operate. Most of the
      auxiliary bishops will remain where they are. The auxiliary bishops
      will administer the dioceses on behalf of the Metropolitan. It is now
      clear that in the few instances in which the Metropolitan disagrees
      with the action of a bishop, that the Metropolitan has the authority
      to reverse that decision. While we have vacancies in some of the
      dioceses, it is important that the Metropolitan have the flexibility
      of moving a bishop to a place where the best interests of the
      Archdiocese can be served.

      The second question deals with the exact status of our bishops. The
      decision makes it very clear that our bishops within this Archdiocese
      will now be considered Auxiliary Bishops. But we need to focus on the
      practical application of that change, and not just a title. in due
      time we will begin the work of editing the "Manual of Hierarchical
      Duties and Responsibilities" so that these changes will be clear. The
      Archpastoral Directive of March 3, 2009 made it clear that the
      Metropolitan is to be commemorated in all divine services. The
      auxiliary bishop will be commemorated only in the case that he is
      present at the divine service.

      The third question deals with the impact of this decision on the
      provisions of our Self-Rule as well as certain articles of our
      Pittsburgh Constitution.

      Our Self-Rule status remains in effect with regard to the
      relationship of this Archdiocese to the Holy Synod of Antioch. The
      decision of the Holy Synod is a narrow administrative decision,
      addressing only the standing of bishops across the See of Antioch. As
      we know from church history, administrative structures come and go as
      the needs of the church change over time. As you are all aware, there
      are still some differences that exist between the Archdiocese
      Constitution that was approved in Pittsburgh, and the constitution
      that was proposed by the Holy Synod of Antioch as an alternative.
      These differences will be addressed with the Patriarch, myself, and
      the Holy Synod in due time.

      I pray that you will all have a blessed Journey to the Empty Tomb.

      Yours in Christ,

      Metropolitan PHILIP
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