Thursday, March 7, 2019

Jad Ganem: On the Future of the Diaspora

Arabic original here.

On the Future of the Diaspora
Metropolitan Emmanuel, metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's archdiocese in France and a figure who is very close to His Holiness the current Ecumenical Patriarch, pointed out in an explanation of the reasons why the Phanar suppressed the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe that the Ecumenical Patriarchate's decision was "a necessary and essential step in order to meet the challenges we are facing today in the organization of the Orthodox diaspora to meet the pastoral needs of our time. With new walls being built today in Orthodoxy and real risks of division, the Patriarch and the Holy Synod wished to make the organization of our communities in the diaspora more in keeping with Orthodox ecclesiology. So that, as the Statement says, 'there would not be two ecclesiastical authorities of the same jurisdiction in the same territory,'" adding also that, "in the jurisdictional disorder prevailing today in the diaspora, the Ecumenical Patriarchate must set an example" and warning that "that the jurisdictional wandering of some ecclesial entities has always been painful. Painful both for themselves and for the Church as a whole."
The metropolitan's words portend that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has resolved to reorganize its dioceses in the diaspora such that there will be only one diocese belonging to it in a given country. Perhaps this is what had previously led Metropolitan Emmanuel to suggest the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe be transformed into a Russian-speaking vicariate within the Greek Archdiocese in France. 
Will what has occurred in Western Europe soon affect the dioceses in North America where four dioceses depend officially on the Ecumenical Patriarchate? They are:
*The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which has eight metropolitans
*The American Carpatho-Russian Archdiocese of North America
*The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
*The Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America
*Additionally, there are  the Vicariate for Palestinian-Jordanian Communities in the USA and the parishes which belonged to the schismatic Patriarchate of Kiev which, according to the tomos of autocephaly granted to the newly-created church in Ukraine, now belong to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
If the Ecumenical Patriarchate's vision as expressed by Metropolitan Emmanuel is applied in North America and elsewhere in the countries of the diaspora belonging to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, does this mean that all the non-Greek dioceses will be suppressed and turned into vicariates depending on their respective Greek archdiocese? If this happens, would it not be considered a curtailing of the rights of these dioceses that existed and conducted their life with relative independence? In such a case, would it not be better to change the names of the archdioceses of the Ecumenical Patriarchate so that they don't have any indication of a particular ethnicity as is currently the case? Will non-Greek bishops be welcome as members of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate?

The vision expressed by Metropolitan Emmanuel could constitute a way forward for solving the issue of the diaspora if the Ecumenical Patriarchate could get past Greek ethnic concerns and treated all elements of its dioceses on equal footing. But this approach may add to the dispersion and fragmentation in the diaspora and jurisdictional wandering if ethnic considerations are given priority in the management of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's promised single archdioceses.
Will the Ecumenical Patriarchate acquire a renewed ecumenical character, starting with the diaspora, or will it choose to preserve its ethnic character there? Will this step in Europe be a one-off instance imposed by political circumstances? We'll have to wait and see.


The Anti-Gnostic said...

He's not wrong.

The diaspora issue has festered while hierarchs pontificated and cynically collected remittances and ruled over ethnic fiefdoms.

Whenever that sort of stasis and complacency sets in, there's an opening for someone to make a move. Well, the EP just made one.

Elias Nasser said...

Anti-Gnostic, I think you have hit the nail on the head "...ruling over ethnic fiefdoms.."

However, human nature as it is, will mean that the move of the EP in Western Europe is not likely to see a rallying around the EP's efforts but alas more dissent and turmoil.

This turmoil will be all the more magnified were the EP's decisions to take effect in North America.

I do not see a clear way forward beyond this insoluble impasse