Monday, April 21, 2008

Authority: Addendum

The voice of the people, the wrath of God.

That is a Greek proverb. (The verb "is" is understood: The voice of the people is the wrath of God). The Orthodox people know how to get rid of an unacceptable priest, bishop, or patriarch. There is no set method, as this is not a normal or usual occurrence. There is no protocol for it, but we find ways.

Fifteen or twenty years or so ago, in Athens, there was a bishop rumored to be a homosexual. Crowds gathered in front of his episcopal residence and simply chanted, "Unworthy, unworthy!" day and night until he departed. In 1996, a new Greek archbishop was enthroned in North America who was unable to command the following of the people. My own impression was that he was a good bishop; but rightly or wrongly, he was pushed out and replaced by the current Greek Archbishop, Demetrios, who is most likely a saint.

There are many ways to exert pressure. We use them only in extreme cases. We tolerate much.

One thing we do not tolerate in our clergy at all, however, is causing scandal among the faithful. If a priest or hierarch does this (for example, by preaching heresy or by sexual misconduct), he's out of office almost as fast as you can blink. The mere fact of his causing scandal, regardless of his actual deeds, is enough to make him unsuitable. We do not judge his heart; we continue to love and forgive him; but that does not mean allowing him to continue in office. There are very high standards for Christ's priesthood and it is not for us to dilute them. It is not as though anybody had a right to be a priest. Christ, through His Church, calls whom He pleases.



Anonymous said...

Just found your blog, searching for icons of the Bridegroom. I enjoyed this post. Very accurate observation.

Fr. Milovan