In Defense

not of Metropolitan Philp’s recent actions, which I fail to understand, and note that I have my own issues with +Philip. However, amid all the rage and frustration, several things in his defense need to be said.

While you may disagree with his methods (and I might agree with you), +Philip has been for forty years a courageous proponent of American Orthodoxy, often when no other bishop had the courage to speak up. He has also been an outspoken defender of a unified American church, and without proposing his own archdiocese as the umbrella for unification. No other bishop can touch him here, although +Jonah may become his successor.

+Philip truly understands America. He has been willing to take a great deal of heat from Orthodox hierarchy, clergy, and laity (much of it from outside his jurisdiction, often as an excuse to play “I’m more Orthodox than you are!”) to build an Orthodox presence and future in the United States. His lasting contribution: SOYO, and Antiochian Village. Of all the Orthodox bishops in the US, only +Philip saw that we had to build a strong, Christian youth, and not just satisfy the aging laity in the parishes.

That’s why none of this recent scandal makes sense. The very idea that +Philip would be coddling the ultra-ethnic crowd in Toledo contradicts over forty years of his fighting ethnicism within the Archdiocese. Or why would a man in poor health want to take on the micromanagement of a huge archdiocese, instead of delegating it to enthroned bishops? Or why would +Philip suddenly abandon American autocephaly for subservience to Damascus?

So forgive me if I don’t jump on the Metropolitan-bashing bandwagon. I have my own issues with +Philip, some of them fairly big ones, and I’m far from his biggest fan, but he is the Metropolitan, and essentially, the Primate of his jurisdiction, and he deserves the respect of his position, which I’m sorry to say in many cases, he is not getting. You’re not going to see me trashing him.

That doesn’t mean I don’t find the recent demotion of all of the Antiochian bishops disturbing. I do, not only because such an action could affect every Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States and Canada, but also because my first home parish was Antiochian, and the AOCA will always hold a special place in my heart for giving me a home. But there is far too much speculation. Did this originate with +Philip, or with +Ignatius IV, or with the Holy Synod in Damascus? And shifting from +Philip to +Ignatius IV, the Patriarch does not have a history of shifty political plays, and has largely left the AOCA alone. Why would he do this? Indeed, why would anyone do this?

That, anyway, is my assessment now. Sayedna Philip and the Patriarch both have my benefit if the doubt until facts prove otherwise.

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