Editorial: Is it “Open Season” on the American and West European Metropolias?

ROCOR-A: Sergianism Formally Anathematized
March 26, 2013
Second Joint Statement between GOC-Kallinikos and the Synod in Resistance
April 3, 2013

Editorial: Is it “Open Season” on the American and West European Metropolias?

In a surprise move, the lately suspended Fr Michael (Wood) of the ROCOR-MP announced today that he had been accepted by the TOC of Metropolitan Raphael of Moscow. Fr Michael subsequently announced that Metropolitan Daniel of Volokomansk had been authorized to establish Western rite missions in the United Kingdom– where there are already Western rite communities under Metropolitan John of the American Metropolia. A further complication is Fr Michael’s wholesale endorsement– while under the ROCOR-MP– of Anglican liturgy under the guise of an “Orthodox Western Rite”.michaelwood

The move follows the acceptance in January of a suspended Bishop of the Metropolia of Italy and Western Europe by the TOC-PC of Metropolitan Anghelos of Avlonos. In both this case and the previous one, neither Metropolitan– whether in Italy or the United States– were notified.

In the ROCOR-MP, until his suspension, Fr Michael (Wood) established about a dozen missions in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

Prior to January of this year, the understanding had been that Greece and Russia had their respective spheres from which to begin missionary work, with Latin America having remained in dispute since 2010. There, a number of Bishops exist from both Synods, and Metropolitan John was elected as Metropolitan of “North and South America and the British Isles”. However, in correspondence, both the Greek and Russian Synods referred to the Metropolitan without “South America” in their official correspondence.

Meanwhile, both Synods have broken communion with the Metropolia in Italy, while Metropolitan Onufrie stated that he remained in communion with the American Metropolia.  Relations between the two Metropolias have been strained since, as Metropolitan John has done his best to keep together what was rapidly falling apart.

It is with this background in mind that initial plans were in the works for the annual meeting in Greece between the heads of the three Churches. That was, of course, before the reception of a priest who had actually convinced clerics of the former Milan Synod Archdioceses just a few years ago to secretly commemorate the Moscow Patriarchate, eventually leading to small schisms from what would become the American Metropolia. Already clerics have expressed suspicion that Fr Michael’s move was carefully orchestrated to attack the Metropolia “from inside”.

Sources within NFTU have heard Metropolitan John’s immediate concern is that the Russians may inadvertently allow the use of Anglican services into the communion and has asked, on the basis of his experience and jurisdiction, to review Fr Michael’s plans.

Considering the treatment of Metropolitan Onufrie in January, and considering the TOC-R has just moved into the British Isles not with the intent of establishing a metochion but a British mission, we are forced to ask if perhaps he should have a different primary concern.

Full Disclosure: the author is a member of the American Metropolia.

  • VP

    Why are you so surprised Dcn. Joseph? Why would Fr. Michael (Wood) ever consider joining the Orthodox Metropolia of the Americas when you and others have “bashed” him repeatedly over the past decade on the Internet. Do you remember your “open letter” against him? (Not very welcoming, are you?) Who in their right mind would join a synod that has been repeatedly bashing them for over a decade?

    Also, the American Metropolia only has one established mission in the UK according to your synod’s website, and that mission is in Northern Ireland, not in England proper. Met. Raphael’s synod is geographically closer to England than the American synod, so it is not that strange what has just taken place. If Met. John has jurisdiction over the British Isles, then he should have more than one mission there in order to claim jurisdiction. I doubt he has a lot of active missionaries there either, if any. If Met. John cannot supply the resources for his own jurisdiction, then let Met. Raphael do it with the newly received Fr. Michael (Wood). Met. John doesn’t have a monopoly on the Western-rite, nor does he have any way of remedying the negative treatment Fr. Michael received from the American Metropolia.

    Not everything is a conspiracy Dcn. Joseph.

    • HmkEnoch

      VP,

      “Met. John doesn’t have a monopoly on the Western-rite, nor does he have
      any way of remedying the negative treatment Fr. Michael received from
      the American Metropolia.”

      Let me explain. Fr.Michael was actively engaged in causing a few of our clergy to leave to the Moscow Patriarchate, which he now denounces. So, when you say,”Negative” treatment, that coming from the partisans of Fr. Michael sounds a little hollow. Fr. Michael was the one who worked in tandum with his former bishop, Met. Hilarion (Kapral) to convince priests to secretly commemorate Hilarion (Kapral), while publicly lying to Met. John’s face and saying that they were commemorating him. After that little episode, and the emotional turmoil that Fr. Michael caused in the lives of different clergy and bishops, it is a little hard to take the line that Fr. Michael is the poor old victim. Has Fr. Michael ever once apologized publicly, or even privately (by email, letter, etc), to Met. John for all his past negative activity against us? Has he denounced the fact that he was involved in priests leaving to join the MP, which he now believes is apostate from Orthodoxy?

      “Do you remember your “open letter” against him?”

      You mean the open letter that criticizes the introduction of material of Anglican Protestant innovation into Orthodoxy? The letter that states ROCOR has abandoned its resistance to heresy? The letter where Fr. Michael is castigated for speaking ill and negatively of us, publicly and privately? The letter that criticizes the Sergianist Moscow Patriarchate, which Fr. Michael now denounces?

      It frankly seems that Fr. Michael doesn’t want to acknowledge in any form the great wrongs he has perpetuated on us and others in the past, way before we even said anything against him. So, it was Fr. Michael who ‘started this’, and it will ultimately have to be Fr. Michael who will have to ‘end it’.

      “(Not very welcoming, are you?)”

      Well, how welcoming was it when he was claiming we were schismatic, not Orthodox, bad, evil, and trying everything he could do to attack and steal clergy by having them lie to their bishop?

      “Who in their right mind would join a synod that has been repeatedly bashing them for over a decade?”

      Let’s reverse this a bit. What priest in their right mind would join a synod that he has repeatedly bashed, lied about, attack, and engaged in every effort of espionage and sabotage? And that without even an apology for years of past horrible wrongs!

      “Also, the American Metropolia only has one established mission in the UK
      according to your synod’s website, and that mission is in Northern
      Ireland, not in England proper. Met. Raphael’s synod is geographically
      closer to England than the American synod, so it is not that strange
      what has just taken place. If Met. John has jurisdiction over the
      British Isles, then he should have more than one mission there in order
      to claim jurisdiction.”

      This is all irrelevant since the agreements reached between Met. John, Met. Raphael, and Met. Angelos was that of respecting each others territory, with the obvious exceptions of grandfather claused in clergy. I’ve written about this:

      http://westernorthodoxchristian.blogspot.com/2013/04/recent-ecclesiastical-actions-of-sister.html

      So, from your perspective, we can, without even notifying or having permission, start opening up missions in Russia and Moscow, right beside Met. Raphael’s churches?

      ” I doubt he has a lot of active missionaries there either, if any. If
      Met. John cannot supply the resources for his own jurisdiction, then let
      Met. Raphael do it with the newly received Fr. Michael (Wood).”

      Again, this is more non-sequitur. Where have Sister Churches, that have agreed that the territory of each is to be respective, stated that because they thought the other one was as active in missionary activities, that, therefore, those territories could be invaded at will, without a single notification? Again, if this is so, why not open up missions in Avlona and Moscow? We’ve had priests ask this, but, we’ve always turned them down. In fact, when we took in a Greek bishop living in America, we were so concerned that it would affect our Greek Synod, we made sure we did everything with their notification, and even told them, that this bishops parishes, missions and sketes would go directly under Met. Angelos; nothing should ever be done in the diocesan territory of another ruling bishop, let alone a Metropolitan, without at least notifying and asking their permission.

      “Met. John doesn’t have a monopoly on the Western-rite, nor does he have
      any way of remedying the negative treatment Fr. Michael received from
      the American Metropolia.”

      No one actually said that. However, the question has been one of canonical territory, and agreeements; it was agree that the British Isles were the diocesan territory of Met. John. Why else would all the official concordants and agreements between the three Metropolitans say that Met.John is has the British Isles? Again, if the logic is that anyone can start doing anything anywhere as long as they feel another bishop or metropolitan isn’t doing, in someones opinion a good job, then, let all just stop opening missions, parish, and going into other ruling bishops, and sister Synods diocesan territory at will. When one ruling Bishop has to in any sense go into the diocesan territory of another bishop, they have to get permission and be invited.

      Once again, you mean the negative treatment that was a reaction to all the lies, wrongs, and evils committed by Fr. Michael against us, before we had said or done anything? The months were everything was tolerated because we thought it would just go away? The actions of Fr. Michael telling clergy to secretly commemorate Met. Hilarion, but, tell their bishops they were commemorated them? And, on top of this, Fr. Michael has said he no longer believes in the ROCOR and believes that they are too much into Sergianism and the ecumenical heresy?

      And lets not forget, that the three main points of battle, both in the open letter by Fr. Joseph written years ago, and on other venues, has always been the issue of the heresies of ecumensim/sergianism, the issue of Fr. Michael promoting importation of Anglican Protestant material from the BCP (such as the beginning of the Anglican Eucharistic Prayer “All glory be to Thee”, the Memorial Prayers from Protestant sources, etc, etc).

      Now, it seems that Fr. Michael has left the ROCOR-MP and denounced it for Sergianism and Ecumenism. This I and many others applaud. In fact, I and many others, sent him congratulatory emails, and offering to bury the hatchet and in any way help. There was only no reply, and cold indifference.

      Of course, Fr. Michael still does not admit publicy he did this great evil of facilitating clergy to leave our Church (which he is in communion with now), for the false Moscow Patriarchate. I wasn’t even going to push this, but, Fr. Michael seems to be the one still carrying the hatchet and with no intention to resolve matters with the people he has spent years engaged in attack upon.

      And, of course, we pleaded with Fr. Michael not to use anything from the Anglican sources. Some indications seem to say he isn’t, but, there is suspicion he may be allowing it (see his St. Coleman’s Prayer Book). He say he is using either the Sarum or the Celtic Use (Liturgy of St. John). If we knew for certain these matters, this would be the end of this debate on this liturgical matter. But, nothing; zilch; zip, nadda. Not a word, in any way. And his website still has the offending English LIturgy up.

      And now, it seems, a 4th problem has been added, after only 1 (the abandonment by Fr. Michael of Sergianism/Ecumenism), thus, we still have 3 (since we don’t have an answer in any definite form to the liturgy question). That next problem is that fact that, apparently, Bishops of other synods can do whatever they want in the diocesan territory of others. Maybe these issues will be resolved when Met.John goes to Greece after Pascha and can speak to Met. Daniel; or when he goes to Russia for Sts. Peter and Paul (and of course, being a Bishop, he must, like rules specify be invited, which he has).

      Forgive me, VP. I’d like nothing better to do than fix all this, but, it is ultimately up to Fr. Michael and his behavior, and the problems he has instigated, and continues to agitate in the different churches he joins.

      In Christ,

      Fr. Enoch

      • HmkEnoch
      • VP

        Bless Father,

        Thank you for a thorough and respectful answer. I really do appreciate it. I do have a suggestion for our synod (of which I’m a member) regarding posting information about other people, news, etc. A huge problem I am having with trying to discern issues regarding things taking place within the synod (e.g. Fr. Michael (Wood)) is the fact that in order to collect information I would have to go through more than a few websites in order to find bits and pieces. In the case of Fr. Michael I was on at least three different websites that members of our synod posted about him. Basically, there is no central authoritative website regarding synodal matters such as these; only bits and pieces from what can seem at times to be dozens of websites, blogs, etc.

        This searching of many websites is obviously very confusing and frustrating. For example, it was so hard to find one all-encompassing informative piece on Fr. Michael that I ended up having to Google his name and sift through the results. Specifically because In the above editorial Dcn. Joseph assumes the reader is well-informed on the history of Fr. Michael. Any writer should never assume their audience knows what he/she is talking about. This has been a major source of frustration for me. So much that is on the variety of websites that synodal members post on typically is written with the assumption that the reader is well aware of the topic, persons, history, etc.

        Regarding the alleged jurisdictional infringement of Met. Raphael onto Met. John’s territory, this matter concerns me gravely. I worry that our synod may be brazen enough to use its jurisdictional autonomy in order to break communion with Mets. Raphael and Angelos because of the UK situation and the absorption of the Italian bishops into Met. Angelos’ synod.

        As someone who just joined your synod in large part because of your communion with Mets. Raphael and Angelos, I fear that if communion is broken, our synod will truly lose its credibility. I say this because our synod does have a historical tendency to break communion with other synods for various reasons (whether good or bad). I humbly pray that Met. John will humbly submit himself and his synod to the wills of Mets. Angelos and Raphael, even to the point of disregarding Met. John’s autonomy. This is my unworthy opinion. Thank you again for your reply.

        In Christ,

        VP

        • HmkEnoch

          Well, VP, can you tell us who your priest is, who baptized you, chrismated you? You claim to be part of the same jurisdiction, so, perhaps you will be as open with this information as I and others are about mine. I have serious doubts that you are who you say you are; either you are an upset individual of our Synod who is pretending to be someone they are not, or you are something else. Perhaps you could provide us this information if you are who say you are? So, who baptized and/or chrismated you, or received you into our Church?

          Before I go further, it would be nice to have this information, that way I know you are who you say you are.

          In Christ,

          Fr. Enoch

        • HmkEnoch

          “As someone who just joined your synod in large part because of your communion with Mets. Raphael and Angelos”

          Perhaps you can tell us who received you? I can tell you who received me; I was baptized, chrismated, and communed by Met.John several years ago, and was ordained to Holy Orders by him, as well as tonsured by him. I live in New Jersey. I know all our clergy. Apparently, you have joined in the last 2 years or so, so, who received you?

          In Christ,

          Fr. Enoch

        • NFTU

          I realize I wasn’t invited to this conversation, but as I am the general editor of this site and a clergyman of good standing in my Synod, I figured I’d chime in with a few notes.
          VP: “….A huge problem I am having with trying to discern issues regarding things taking place within the synod (e.g. Fr. Michael (Wood)) is the fact that in order to collect information I would have to go through more than a few websites in order to find bits and pieces. In the case of Fr. Michael I was on at least three different websites that members of our synod posted about him. Basically, there is no central authoritative website regarding synodal matters such as these; only bits and pieces from what can seem at times to be dozens of websites, blogs, etc.”
          In the case of the Orthodox Metropolia, the official sites are the Metropolia site and Diocesan sites that exist, parish websites, et cetera. Once again, NFTU is not an official website of any jurisdiction. I’ve said that so many times I am going to turn blue in the face eventually just from typing it. The reason there is nothing on Fr Michael Wood on the Metropolia site is because officially, the reception of a priest in a sister Church (an almost bi-weekly occurrence some months) is not something that we officially have an opinion on.
          Unofficially, as long as I don’t say anything sick or heretical, I am free to do the news, and free to have an opinion.
          VP: “This searching of many websites is obviously very confusing and frustrating. For example, it was so hard to find one all-encompassing informative piece on Fr. Michael that I ended up having to Google his name and sift through the results. Specifically because In the above editorial Dcn. Joseph assumes the reader is well-informed on the history of Fr. Michael.”
          If you haven’t noticed, the essay is on a site called “Western Orthodox Christian”, which deals specifically with issues related to the Western Rite. In that context, that the reader may well know something about Fr Michael is a safe assumption. Insofar as he was mentioned on NFTU…. that is a jurisdictional issue, with which most English-speaking True Orthodox readers are in fact familiar.
          ” Any writer should never assume their audience knows what he/she is talking about. This has been a major source of frustration for me. So much that is on the variety of websites that synodal members post on typically is written with the assumption that the reader is well aware of the topic, persons, history, etc.”
          That’s a little unfair. Most people don’t go to a financial news website expecting a full explanation of the terminology. However, to that end, we provide assistance by providing links to True Orthodox jurisdictions which will take the time to explain these matters in more detail.
          VP: “Regarding the alleged jurisdictional infringement of Met. Raphael onto Met. John’s territory, this matter concerns me gravely. I worry that our synod may be brazen enough to use its jurisdictional autonomy in order to break communion with Mets. Raphael and Angelos because of the UK situation and the absorption of the Italian bishops into Met. Angelos’ synod.”
          Italian *bishop*, not *bishops*. And that is a prerogative of jurisdictional autonomy, as Church history has demonstrated repeatedly over centuries. On the flip side, there are other Greek and Russian Synods with whom we are always open to discussing the issues that separate us. Metropolitan Anghelos’ Synod is a “diocesan” Synod, meaning that technically it is part of another Synod, which it has not determined yet, as canonically and traditionally the head of the Church of Greece is the Archbishopric of Athens. And many Russian Synods have mixed to negative feelings about Metr Raphael’s Synod, so I have never been of the school that we should be demandingly exclusive to the point of rejecting True Orthodox not in communion with us.
          In the end I wouldn’t worry. I would bet we would simply follow suit and simply start accepting more requests from the various Greek and Russian clergy and people who petition us, instead of handing them over, as the canons require, and our Greek and Russian Metropolitans apparently pay no heed to.
          VP: “As someone who just joined your synod in large part because of your communion with Mets. Raphael and Angelos, I fear that if communion is broken, our synod will truly lose its credibility.”
          As someone who joined my Synod before Metropolitan Anghelos had a semi-functional Synod to begin with (WE gave it to him) I believe that is a largely unfounded fear.
          VP: “I say this because our synod does have a historical tendency to break communion with other synods for various reasons (whether good or bad).”
          That is a very odd thing to say. I don’t understand what you mean, and I wrote a history of our Synod (not a good one, but I am pretty sure I have the facts straight). Our Synod proper was canonically erected three years ago by the Milan Synod. The Milan Synod then split apart and in an awe-inspiring and horrific act, three bishops including Metropolitan Evloghios “removed themselves” (whatever that means) from the Episcopate! We worked dilligently to bring together those who were not against the Synod’s dissolution, and worked to rebuild it in spite of the attempts of our Greeks to illegally take over the whole region. If anything, we did not break any communion. Communion was dissolved by the other party.
          VP: “I humbly pray that Met. John will humbly submit himself and his synod to the wills of Mets. Angelos and Raphael, even to the point of disregarding Met. John’s autonomy. This is my unworthy opinion. Thank you again for your reply.”
          To a diocesan Synod and Metr Raphael? Submit? On what grounds? This can’t be serious. Anyone who knows the recent events of two years well in our Synod would probably agree with most other True Orthodox I’ve spoken to that have actually advised us to break communion altogether. By contrast the Metropolitan believes that these people will be answerable to God who will act on his behalf. I think that position isn’t altogether pragmatic, but since I’ve been in our Synod I’ve learned to eat crow numerous times, because he ends up right in the long run. I chalk it up to years of experience. And maybe I need more faith.
          In Christ,
          Dcn Joseph

    • nicholasi

      Re: “the American Metropolia only has one established mission in the UK…in Northern Ireland, not in England proper.”

      So where is “England improper”?

      This is like saying “the is only one mission in the USA…and that mission is in Alaska, not in New York proper.”