Thursday, July 13, 2017

More on the EP's rejection of the candidate list for Chicago

(Pappas Post) - The synod of bishops at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, meeting currently at the Phanar in Istanbul, Turkey, has rejected the list of three candidates for the position of Metropolitan of Chicago.

An official statement has not yet been made as information received by The Pappas Post came from within the meeting quarters, which is still in session.

The seat was vacated following the death of Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, who held the seat for more than 40 years.

The synod of American Metropolitans, comprising the hierarchs from the Metropolises of Boston, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Atlanta, Detroit, Denver and San Francisco and presided over by Archbishop Demetrios of America, met in New York City on July 6 to deliberate and create what the Church calls a “triprosopon,” or list of three names.

These three names are then submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople for review by thy Synod and ultimate election of the new Metropolitan.

Traditionally, the Patriarchate’s synod selects the first name on the list, which in this case was Bishop Sebastian of Zela, who held the position of Secretary of the Holy Synod and Spiritual Advisor to the National Philoptochos Society at the Archdiocese in New York City.

In addition to Bishop Sebastian, the other two individuals on the list were Archimandrites Gerasimos Makris from Brooklyn, NY and George Nikas from Salt Lake City, UT.

But the Ecumenical Patriarchate has the right, according to church rules, to reject the three-person list and return it, without cause, explanation or reason.

A source at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of his position told The Pappas Post that there were “serious reservations” about the selection of Bishop Sebastian to the number one position on the list and ultimately as the new Metropolitan of Chicago.

“Chicago is the crown jewel of the American Church. What many people don’t understand is that the position of Metropolitan isn’t only ceremonial. There is so much more involved. You’re dealing with dozens of parishes, extensive travel, administrative and human resources challenges, not to mention tremendous pressure from various circles and camps both within and outside the church,” said the anonymous administrator at the Archdiocese in a confidential email.

He went on to say that many people throughout the country and in and around Chicago “had serious reservations about Bishop Sebastian’s stamina, capabilities and experience to handle such a prodigious and complex position like head of the Chicago Metropolis, given his limited administrative experience and his limited English language skills.”

There has been no official response from Archdiocesan headquarters in New York City but this will certainly create a rift between New York City and Istanbul, as it was widely regarded that Bishop Sebastian was the Archbishop’s personal choice and he lobbied heavily for his position on top of the list.


  1. This is why we need an autocephalous church. Even if the Phanar synod had good reasons, the idea that it, comprising bishops of minuscule communities, should determine the Metropolitan of Chicago, offends reason, tradition, and order.

    1. That is not correct. Six of the 12 Metropolitan of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are from areas outside of Constantinople and Turkey, including from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. They are not people who live in the dark nor in the dark ages. They are of the highest spirituality.

  2. There is already an autocephalous Church in the USA; The Orthodox Church in America. (I know, Istanbul doesn't recognize the autocephally of the OCA.) The LAST THING we need n the USA is another Church claiming autocepahlly.

    1. With all due respect, the OCA needs to figure out a dignified way to un-ring that bell. Even the MP doesn't regard the OCA as autocephalous, hence ROCOR. The American jurisdictions are just cash cows to be milked since, after all, America is not an actual nation-state. This is why there will never be an autocephalous Church in the USA: there is no Nation to which the Church can be wed.

    2. 1 There is very little desire in the OCA to be under Russia again (we haven't been since 1924!)
      2 I suspect Moscow itself can find reasons for retaining the status quo.
      3 Read the actual Tomos. It did not even attempt to give all jurisdiction in North America to the OCA, nor has the OCA ever claimed all jurisdiction.
      4 The Autocephaly given is spelled out in Article 2, all of which the OCA still has, keeps, and does, and is understood to do so even by those who do not formally acknowledge the TOMOS. You seem to think the possible violation of article 10 in a situation not quite foreseen in 1970 nullifies the whole thing. It does not.

      More importantly, the troublesome and incorrect notions of the relation of Church and nation.
      1 your notion of "an actual nation-state" is no where in our Scriptural, canonical, or dogmatic tradition, much less some requirement for it to be "wed" to the Church.
      2 Some, but **not all** of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, past and present, could be described as being "wed" to a nation.
      3 That is a historical and cultural phenomenon (perhaps even sometimes positive) but not a dogmatic or canonical phenomenon.
      4 Since it has never been the case that all autocephalous churches are so wed to a nation, it can not be said to have grown into the living tradition.
      5 To make of it an absolute requirement is to place transient secular forms over the Church, which is so clearly wrong that it can not mutate into a requirement in the present or future.

    3. Revealed preferences: look at what people do, not what they say.

      The Orthodox autocephalous Churches are all seated in traditional nation-states--you can look it up on Orthodox Wiki. Their daughter Churches in the Americas and Europe are all organized along nationalistic lines with their own distinctive Liturgies. The converts are permitted a place at the table, but all the dioceses answer to their respective ethnic homelands. The terra nova lands of Africa and Asia are being carved up solely on the basis of who can fund the most missions. The Greeks are starting something called the "Mayan Orthodox." Our host posts regular updates on the latest bishop of the Armenian Orthodox in Canada, or the Serbian Archbishop of the US Atlantic Seaboard, or the Carpatho-Russian-Something-Something of Western Pennsylvania, and on and on.

      I listened to a respected Orthodox priest speak admiringly of the Jews, able to preserve their ethnic nationhood in the US.

      Every single Orthodox bishop and priest outside their Mother Church's homeland is in violation of the 1872 Declaration. I have not heard of any of them refusing to administer the Sacraments until this situation is resolved.

      So either the whole Church is in complete error and we suspend Liturgies until we get this sorted out, or there is a truth we have not fully discerned. I will swear my devotion to whatever the hierarchy determines, but they don't seem to be in any particular hurry to resolve this.

    4. The modern nation state is a creation of the Reformation. Therefore it has nothing to do with the Church.

      Symphonia actually is a product of an Empire with an Emperor. It assumes a hierarchical politity and not democracy or participatory system.

      Participatory systems are primarily secular as are nation states. Last I checked, the Church is not secular.

    5. You have better odds resurrecting the Iroquois Federation than Byzantium or Holy Rome, both of which will end their days surrounded by Muslims and supported by foreign remittances.

      World Orthodoxy is not going to be ruled from a few Greek islands and +Francis can pack the College with as many European prelates as he wants. Ain't gonna happen.

      And who is going to be your Emperor? There are three countries that matter: the US, China, and Russia. US is Protestant Christian if not outright atheist, China is Confucian, and Orthodox Russia is barely hanging on. Inevitably, these three great powers will shrink due to fiscal overreach. Is that when Rome and Istanbul plan on making their move?

  3. Did all the faithful of Zela rise up as one and demand not to be orphaned by losing their dear bishop?

    1. I'm open to being proved wrong, but "of Zela" is probably an honorific reference to his birthplace, not an actual jurisdiction. He had a cloistered staff position in New York City, where his limited English would not be a handicap.

      I'm not sure for how much longer the Greek-American heirarchy think their congregants are going to be "Greek." Perhaps they assume, given the EU's trajectory, that there will be new Greek immigrants to replace the children who outmarry.

    2. Of course there are no Zela-ites. He is "bishop" of nowhere and nobody. And the apostolic geniuses have to be told (!) that someone without a grasp of English isn't a good candidate. Wow, we're in good hands. Quick, bring up the topic of ecology so the Green Patriarch won't look like such a greenhorn in his pastoral duties.

    3. Bob, you are being a bit unfair and antagonistic. If the source is to be believed, it was the EP that pointed out his English proficiency as an impediment. Most Orthodox Churches (Slavic & Greek) have titular bishops for special functions. (Even if this is historically and canonically wonky)

    4. bob is being smart and witty, which are good tools against pretension. And clearly directing his barbs against the obtuse American bishops.

      This is a problem. How do the hierarchs intend to solve it? Absent arranged marriages to make sure Greek-Americans stay Greek-American and willing to learn Attic Greek, children will grow up and drift away. Either the Greek bishops are counting on a new and abundant stream of Greek-speaking faithful, or they are seriously out of touch.

    5. / Dear Anti-Gnostic, His Grace Bishop Sebastian speaks English very well. Please listen to this eight minute link and think again about what you have written.

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  5. (1) Wait a few years, and we will be reading that all the candidates for the EP have been rejected by Ankara. Since the EP is effectively a Turkish civil servant, and not free to exercise his role, perhaps his see should be considered canonically vacant.

    (2) The Greeks treat their church in much the same way that they treat their government--as an opportunity to dole out political patronage, and as we have seen, engage in a bewildering variety of criminal activity. (Not that Moscow is any better.)

  6. Perhaps there were good reasons for the EP to reject Bp Sebastian. But there were three names on the list. Were both archimantrites also deficient in their English language skills?