Great and Holy Internecine Incivility

Orthodoxy says she is the Church: her institutional boundaries are the visible boundaries of the Church. There maybe invisible boundaries – but that’s in God’s hands. If you want to see the Church, see Orthodoxy. That’s all there is.

Recently all the heads of the Autocephalous Churches (except the Orthodox Church in America, which autocephaly is in dispute) got together to hash things out in preparation for a Great and Holy Council… which won’t include the OCA officially because her status is in dispute.  But it might.  But then Russia, who granted the Autocephaly seems to have partially recanted when it recently reunited with the ROCOR, who seems to have recanted her own issues with the Moscow Patriarchate all at once and forgotten that Alexi II was a bit of a com-symp and all that… but I digress.

Anyway, there was a meeting.

And many Orthodox Converts in this country – including me – got excited about it. And I may be just a little bit cynical, for which forgive me, but when Jerusalem and Antioch started feuding and the latter refused any further part in the reindeer games and the former went on as if nothing had happened (or did I get that backwards? Maybe?) and then ROCOR announced prior to the meeting that she wasn’t having any real part in the deal because she was only going to serve Russians and she wasn’t convinved of the canonical arguments that she was being uncanonical about that and didn’t want to talk about it if it was on the table and then Russia showed up at the meeting anyway and didn’t say anything about it.  I thought “Business as usual” and “we don’t have organised religion, we have bishops.”

Then someone on the outside seems to have noticed the same things:  Gabriel Sanchez wrote about it at Crisis.

Now, I don’t get the Roman Catholic politics as well as I do the Orthodox ones.  And I think that there may be some “pro-Roman” and “anti-ecumenist” agendas all over the place that I don’t understand.  But, hearing from the outside what I see from the inside only makes it seem worse: our witness isn’t just broken in our eyes, it’s broken in the eyes of others as well.

And that’s pretty embarrassing.

While Gabriel was discussing the American Canonical Assembly, he forgot to note that the Canonical Assembly replaced and disbanded (by surprise) an assembly that had been there before and – to make matters worse – that assembly was already a house divided against itself long before the new one became such.

What’s missing in Orthodoxy is the Big Brother that Rome always was: and Rome may be a bit of a bully at times but having a final authority to resolve issues is very useful.

With no primus it’s just pissing inter pares.

If Orthodoxy is the Church (as she claims and as I believe) what we see is a horribly dysfunctional family that manages to be human more often than not.  I’m ok with her foibles because we’re all human.  But we’re dysfunctional in that we cannot admit we’re broken: this visible Church is sometimes very unable to be the Kingdom because of some very human failures.  It’s not up to us to deny that but to seek forgiveness and healing.

Our first confession is to admit that we can’t admit the problem.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

%d bloggers like this: