Met. PHILIP Responds to the Jerusalem Patriarchate Transfer

If I live to be 100 years old I will never understand our wonderful pastoral Hierarchs in the Orthodox Church here in the United States. So we have excommunicated another bunch of our own. Wonderful!

A few observations: What is the deal with all of this Self-Ruled none sense? Can some one explain why it is necessary to call themselves Self-ruled?

And what about titles? Metropolitan Philip refers to himself as Metropolitan of All North America. The Most Blessed Herman of the OCA styles himself Metropolitan of All America and Canada. I am confused who is the head of America?

And we wonder why the Orthodox Church is less than 1% of the people in the US!

Comments in red are mine.

August 7th, 2008

To: The Esteemed Hierarchs, Members of The Archdiocese Board of Trustees, Clergy and Faithftil of the Self-Ruled (I always thought God ruled the Church) Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:

On August 5, 2008, The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America issued a press release which established a vicariate with the name ‘Vicariate for Palestinian/Jordanian Communities in the USA’. The membership of this vicariate will consist of those communities in the USA which were originally part of the Patriarchate of Antioch, but most recently (since1993) were uncanonically claimed by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. (So all will be well if the churches are returned to your self rule?) From an historical perspective, it has been clear since the disintegration of Orthodox unity which existed in North America until 1917, that the Arabic-speaking Orthodox people in North America have been exclusively under the pastoral care of the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Similarly, the Greek-speaking Orthodox people (e.g. Cypriot, Greek, Egyptian, Turkish, etc.) have always been under the pastoral care of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. What reaction would occur if the Antiochian Archdiocese were to establish a vicariate for Greek communities which separate themselves from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese?! (no need for the exclamation point here by the way)

These former “Jerusalem Patriarchate” communities separated themselves from the Antiochian Archdiocese without canonical releases, and in some cases are served by priests who are under canonical suspension. It is important to point out that since this separation occurred in 1993 we have taken extraordinary measures to reconcile these communities with The Antiochian Archdiocese and have appealed to both the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Antioch as well as others
for their assistance. Unfortunately, none of our numerous appeals for intervention were answered.

As such, our directive of May 2, 2003 remains in force. To emphasize the main point or that directive, the clergy of The Antiochian Archdiocese (Where is the Self-Ruled or is this another Archdiocese) are still forbidden from communing and/or concelebrating with any clergy who are a part of this newly-formed “Vicariate far Palestinian/Jordanian Communities in the USA” of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, whether in our parishes, their parishes, or as a part of pan-Orthodox gatherings. (That will restore unity for sure)

We lament this action by the Ecumenical Patriarchate which further complicates the already uncanonical jurisdictional situation (Like two or more bishops claiming the same territory and the same title?) here and continues to undermine the efforts of all Orthodox hierarchs of SCOBA to achieve administrative unity and canonical normalcy in North America.

Praying that this urgent situation will be resolved in a spirit of peace, harmony and love, we remain

Yours In Christ,
Metropolitan PHILIP
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America

His Beadtude IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East
His Holiness ALEXY, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
His All-Holiness BARTHOLOMEW, Patriarch or Constantinople
His Beatitude THEOPHILOS, patriarch of Jerusalem
All Hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox
Bishopsin America (SCOBA)

Hat Tip Western Orthodoxy


  1. “Self-ruled” is a technical term referring to the canonical status of the Archdiocese. Its use is essentially the same as various other churches calling themselves “autonomous” (“self-ruled”) or “autocephalous” (“self-headed”) (though of course there are different meanings to all these terms). None of it is in any sense a denial of God’s authority. It’s just an administrative label.

    It was tacked on to the name of the Archdiocese when the new status was received a few years ago, just to indicate the change to a greater level of independence from Damascus.

  2. Fr. Andrew,

    I still don’t get the use of Self-ruled. So after the unification of the two Romanian Diocese we should be referred to as: The Semi-Independent Metropolia of Romanians (and no one else by the way) in America? Does that make any sense?

    Why can’t we just be know as the Romanian Orthodox Diocese or something similar? Who cares if we are self-ruled or not? Do the people in the Pew care?

    My people always ask me why the bishops cannot get together and make one Orthodox Jurisdiction in this country. I have no answer for them.

  3. *shrug* Not my decision, really, nor mine to speculate as to the motivations for the name change.

    I do pray that someday soon we may be able to unite into one body.

  4. im glad you made sense of this article, i consider myself to be smart but have no idea what this article is talking about. God help us . anne

  5. ntilFather, Bless!
    Yes, most confusiong. i know of several persons who when confronted with this jurisdictionalism opted for Rome as either Byzantine or Latin Rite.
    Of course, now Patriarch Bartholomew claims all churches outside of their nations’ of origin as the “Diaspora” which He now claims authority over! This means YOU!
    Like someone said, it will all be resolved on the third day after CHRIST’s Second Coming.
    LORD have Mercy!!!

  6. Fr Peter,

    I don’t get why you are so upset about “self-ruled.” It is just a translation of the Greek (or Arabic) word meaning “autonomous.” I will agree with you that they should simply say “autonomous” if that is what they mean — perhaps “self-ruled” sounds more grand and important to them, though to me it just sounds silly. But at the end of the day it still just means “autonomous,” which is what they are. No big whoop.

    My people always ask me why the bishops cannot get together and make one Orthodox Jurisdiction in this country. I have no answer for them.

    The answer to this one is easy: the bishops don’t make one jurisdiction because they don’t want to. And they don’t want to because, in their heart of hearts they do not see Orthodoxy as the Apostolic Church in this country (even though they confess it to be such in the Creed at every liturgy). Instead they see it as an outpost of immigrant culture in the New World, which happens (entirely secondarily) to have a religious component.

    That is the reality, and if you don’t want to give that answer to your people, all I can say is that I don’t blame you.

  7. Myself Orthodox, I wonder ‘so much for Christian ‘brotherly’ Orthodox love!

    I thought fr Peter asked about ‘self-rule’ in a rhetorical manner? he did not seek a factual explanation, or did he?

    And it might be us MERELY as term for some thing ADMINISTRATIVE, but let any other Jurisdiction touch on that ‘self-rule’ then it quickly turns out those who sue that terms see it as a Holly Canon or Commandment directly from God. More human beings who create rules and titles in the name of God, laying down the law for God’s rule – how it should be interpreted.
    Where is humility in all this? And us as servants of GOD, not our own egos and jurisdictions – wake up people stop acting like the worst moments of the different factions in the new Testament and Israel during certain moments in the Old Testament – with this nonsense you re-crucify the LOVE of God allover again. WAKE UP and repent!!

  8. Chris – “self-ruled.” It is just a translation of the Greek (or Arabic) word meaning “autonomous.”

    But there are shades here. The status of the AOCANA is neither Autonomous nor Autocephalous in they way other dioceses have been granted those statuses. Yet, to be 100% certain: they have a status granted to them by the Patriarch of Antioch. They are that most dreaded of Orthodox Creatures that can never exist: a New Thing™.

    I do find the constant use of "self-ruled" to be humorous. When it first started to show up was right around the time of "Passion of the Christ" movie. The letter that Mtr P sent out endorsing the movie said "Self ruled" about 6 times and every time it was all in caps. "The SELF RULED Antiochian Arch-diocese" etc. We had a good giggle when the letter was read at Liturgy.

  9. When the Antiochian Archdiocese’s relationship with its mother church changed, “autonomous” was the term used in the first press releases. The Church of Antioch’s synod of bishops objected and insisted on it being translated into English as “self-ruled.” It’s beyond my powers to parse the difference, but there you have it.

  10. Rather than constantly argue the technicalities and semantics of language concerning self-rule or autonomous nature of my diocese, we should be focusing on the true question is the motives or the power of the ecumenical patriarch in a global perspective of orthodox unity.
    The Ben Loman situation that arouse in the Antiochian archdiocese of North America was resolved in the defrocking and excommunication of two priests by the authority of his Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS and Metropolitan PHILLIP. Although Antioch has made multiple attempts at reconciliation with these parishes, these bulls have not been lifted and by the canonal law of the church are still to be enforced. What has happened is his Beatitude the Ecumenical Patriarch has over looked this ruling and accepted these priest and churches into communion with him. This puts Constantinople in direct conflict with Antioch and creates a situation of synodal supremacy that not the even the articles of the council of Chadeon empower them. Under canonical law, not only does he have no right to overturn the status of the bulls by any other patriachade, he is supposes to acknowledge it. The inter-communion of the different orthodox seas depends on the acknowledgement each other’s communicates or non-communicates.
    The creation of the Vicariate for Palestinian/Jordanian Communities in the USA, along with the current Ukrainian situation, are both vast overstepping measures of his Beatitude the Ecumenical Patriarch and the power of his sea in the relation to his neighboring Patriachades. The letter by Metropolitan PHILLIP is a reminder to his priest of this, but the true response to watch for will be that of Beatitude Patriarch ALEXY and Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS on the issues.
    It is by the authority and love of JESUS CHRIST that we have any church at all. These actions, as trivial as they seem, threaten the fabric and tradition of the Orthodox Church. I only pray that whatever fight is going on be resolved soon for the unity of the Orthodox Church here in America and that these problems do not escalate any farther

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