6856Re: [orthodox-synod] Re: Praying with heretics so what?
- Nov 1, 2002This matter is so simple that it boggles the mind that someone can not
The Orthodox Church is **hierarchical**.
This means that the lower clergy are under obedience and subject to the
discipline of their hierarchical superiors.
If your superiors summon you to a meeting, be it in another city or no--you go.
If I were working as a manager at IBM in Los Angeles, and received a
directive from the Chairman of IBM to appear at a meeting in Seattle in two
days--I would have to be there.
If I were an officer in the US Army, and received an order from the
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff to appear the next day in Washington
for a meeting--I have no option to decline.
As a priest of the Russian Church Abroad, if I receive a directive from my
Ruling Bishop, or from the Synod of Bishops, to appear in such and such a
place at such and such a time--I would be there,come what may.
Again, this is so simple, it hardly needs to be explained.
In the military, failure to obey orders of superior officers is one of the
most serious of crimes, for obvious reasons--especially for junior
officers, since they are required to set a good example for their troops.
Mutiny is a capital offense in virtually every military organization, since
it goes against the entire concept of a hierarchical structure--the chain
of command, which requires obedience to orders and strict discipline.
The Church is no different.
Priests are like officers in a military organization. Although our battle
is not against flesh and blood, but against the demonic powers, we are
still all "warriors" in the army of God, as are the heavenly powers, who
have a very clear hierarchical structure, with Archangel Michael--the
Archistratig--Archstrategos--Taxiarch--Commander in Chief of the Heavenly
So, the willful disobedience of the European clergy to respond to a summons
of the Holy Synod of the Church Abroad, to which they had given an oath of
obedience and loyalty, is a gross violation of ecclesiastical discipline
for which they must suffer the consequences.
Serge calls the suspensions a "sentence," and complains about the injustice
of these clergy being sentenced in absentia, without being heard or
This is absolutely incorrect.
A bishop, upon hearing of misbehavior by a clergyman, has the authority,
and, in fact, the responsibility to suspend that clergyman--without a
hearing or ecclesiastical trial.
This is normal in most other fields.
A policeman suspected of acting improperly can and would be suspended by
his superiors--prior to a hearing.
A teacher suspected of acting improperly can and would be suspended by his
superiors--prior to a hearing.
In the Church--it is the same.
The clergyman (like the policeman or the teacher) has the right to demand a
formal hearing on the matter, or one can be scheduled by his superiors.
However, during the time of the suspension, prior to a hearing (or a
trial)--the person in question is **suspended**--and forbidden to perform
his normal duties. A policeman under suspension must turn in his badge and
gun, for example, and is forbidden to perform police work.
A clergyman under suspension must hang up his epitrachelion and may not
perform any services as a clergyman--not even give a blessing.
Those are the rules.
And the rules also state that if a clergyman while under suspension dares
to perform any services as a clergyman--then he is subject to immediate
deposition from clerical orders--without any hearing or trial.
All he has to do is perform a service or simply give a blessing--even
once--and he is out.
So, the question is--did the European clergy who were disobedient to their
hierarchical authorities and spurned a summons to a meeting with the Deputy
First Hierarch and Secretary of the Synod, ignore the suspension placed on
them, not just by their Ruling Bishop--who has the authority on his own to
suspend any priest in his diocese--but by the entire Hierarchical Synod,
and did they continue to serve?
If the answer is yes, then they were rightfully and canonically deposed,
even without a hearing or ecclesiastical trial.
With love in Christ,
Prot. Alexander Lebedeff
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