Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Jerusalem Patriarchate Bows Out of North America

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has announced that the Jerusalem Patriarchate has relinquished its parishes in North America to Abp. DEMETRIOS.
Henceforth, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem no longer asserts any jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere.
After an April 1 meeting between H.A-H. BARTHOLOMEW I and Patriarch THEOPHILUS III of Jerusalem:
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America was directed to proceed with the implementation of the agreements by the creation of a Vicariate for the inclusion of the clergy and communities within the Archdiocese of America. The official name of the Vicariate is: “Vicariate for Palestinian/Jordanian Communities in the USA.”

The clergy and communities of the Vicariate will be directly under the Archbishop of America and will report to the Archdiocese through the Vicar. Through the Archdiocese, all of these clergy and communities will be able to participate in the programs and agencies of SCOBA.
I don't understand the church politics of this enough to know its significance; I just thought the news more than merited mention.

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Blogger Unknown said...

I'm not really sure that there is any "significance" per se. Jerusalem only has a handful of parishes here and I think one monastery. It is likely that these parishes, with no local bishop, were not getting the pastoral oversight they needed. While there may be some political motivations involved, the clearly canonical answer is to release those parishes to the "primus inter pares." Thus, I'm not really sure it can be considered anything other than housekeeping.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Chris Jones said...


You said I don't understand the church politics of this enough to know its significance. I can't claim to understand the politics in depth, either; but I thought the most significant part of the press release from the Greek Archdiocese was this:

... the canonically established jurisdiction in the United States which is the Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne in America, that is, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

To describe the Greek Archdiocese as "the canonically established jurisdiction in the United States" is, implicitly, a claim by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of exclusive jurisdiction over North America (and by implication a denial that any other jurisdiction is canonical). This is in line with the EP's interpretation of canon 28 of Chalcedon, but I have never seen it so baldly stated before.

On the one hand, anything which reduces the number of separate Orthodox jurisdictions in America is probably a good thing (and in any case I always thought the Jerusalem Patriarchate's establishment of parishes here was bizarre and ridiculous). On the other hand, the EP's jurisdiction in this country already consists of several groups distinguished by ethnicity (Greeks, Albanians, Carpatho-Russians, Belarussians ...), so adding these Palestinians simply makes the Greek Archdiocese even more phyletist than it already is.

It looks like the Ecumenical Patriarch's vision for American Orthodoxy is a single jurisdiction (his own, naturally) internally divided along ethnic lines. Maybe the Western Rite can find its place in this internally-phyletist jurisdiction as the "Vicariate for Anglo-Saxon Communities in the USA."

8:37 AM  
Blogger Eric John said...

Wow. This is big news. I wonder if this decision was discussed on the ground here, or if it was only made at the Sublime Porte.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Abu Daoud said...

Yes, the big news is that it went to the Greeks, and NOT to the OCA or Antiochian Orthodox.

2:04 AM  
Blogger Jon Marc said...

This is significant for the reasons Chris names. It is also significant because the Palestinian Orthodox and converts under the Jerusalem Patriarchate in the USA wanted a home that was traditionally Orthodox and yet canonical, not modernist like the Antiochian Orthodox (who are already Arab and convert-oriented) or schismatic like the various Old Calendrist synods present on our continent.

It's to be wondered how many of the monasteries (there are two) and parishes will actually join the Archdiocese - they would have better bishops and a better home in a group like the ROCOR or one of the Greek Old Calendrist churches.

11:23 AM  
Blogger VSO said...

Megadittoes to Chris Jones!

2:59 PM  
Blogger Chris Jones said...

traditionally Orthodox and yet canonical

It is remarkable (but true) that "traditional" and "canonical" have become contrasting terms.

modernist like the Antiochian Orthodox

I have never understood the charge that the Antiochian Archdiocese is "modernist." It is true that the few Antiochian parishes I have visited all have pews, follow the Revised Julian calendar, and do not have men and women stand on separate sides of the temple; but is there anything else about them that is "modernist"?

In particular (and all snarkiness aside), is there anything "modernist" in the Antiochian Archdiocese that is not also present in the Greek Archdiocese? The big difference, to me, between the Greeks and the Antiochians is the convert-friendliness of the Antiochians (of which the existence of the Western Rite is a signal example). I should hate to think that a willingness to have "outsiders" embrace the Orthodox faith is considered "modernism."

On reflection, though, if the shoe fits ...

6:27 AM  
Blogger Fr. Andrew said...

It's been interesting to note the reading of the phrase "the canonically established jurisdiction in the United States which is the Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne in America, that is, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America."

I didn't read it as Mr. Jones above, i.e., that the EP is saying that only the GOA is "the canonically established jurisdiction." Rather, I read it as "the canonically established Eparchy of the EP," which makes more sense to me in the overall grammar of the sentence.

Anyway, I really have no idea what the EP meant by it. I do know that they haven't broken communion with the other Orthodox in America.

7:59 AM  
Blogger David said...

Well it would have been difficult for them to be absorbed into the Antiochians given that in Sacramento the JP parish broke away from the Antiochians because they did not like the priest brought in. They found a priest of their own and started their own church, very protestant in my opinion. I know both priest and the people involved. Then you have the JP parish in Felton, CA that broke from the Antiochians in the Ben Lomond debacle.

I imagine if the Greeks don't give into the people they will go start their own church.

I want a Western Rite parish in Sacramento, home prices have dropped considerably, I invite everyone to move here and start a mission.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Joseph Hanna said...

I'm a member of St. James Orthodox Church in San Jose, Ca. We are still under the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, pending any official document which comes out of Jerusalem (not Constantinople or the Greek Orthodox Church of America) per the cannons of the church. The Jerusalem Patriarchate has been established in the United States for more than 100 years now, making us one of the first Orthodox Churches to establish representation in North America. Just like all of the immigrants who came to the states, us Palestinians would also like to belong to our mother church. This whole issue is a result of political motivations not religious or spiritual motives between Patriarch Theopholis and Patriarch Bartholomew with some influence from the Greeks and Antiochian here in the U.S. As we are only a few parishes, our identity and traditions stand strong within our church and by depriving us of our Mother church, this only creates confusion and anger. In any case, this is my say and opinion.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Hi Joseph,

Wow, you're commenting on an old post. At this point (March 2009), it seems pretty clear the JP is no more, whether a word ever comes from Jerusalem or not. Something similar happened to the former U.S. parishes of the Alexandrian Patriarchate, although those churches were not left in anyone else's care but merely considered no longer "recognized" and abandoned.

3:04 PM  

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