His Beatitude +Ignatius IV (Hazim)
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and the Holy Synod
P.O. Box 9
Glory to Jesus Christ
This is a letter of complaint and a request to resolve this problem immediately. This has been ongoing for many years.
We are a small canonically established Orthodox Church and we pray you will intercede on our behalf to prevent continued violations of the canons by one or more clergy under Metropolitan Philip in the United States. We request equal justice. The reason we are attacked is similar to the fact that an Antiochian priest was allowed to violate a canon, to remarry, and to remain a priest; with approval of his metropolitan and patriarch according to published reports.
Also, a priest, Andrew Stephen Damick is believed to be an author and administrator on the website orthodoxwiki.org. Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese was sent a letter of complaint asking this assault and insult be ended by his priest. It has been allowed to continue.
Most of the claims that we believe violate the Canons are published today on the site called orthodoxwiki.org on the pages that refer to our Church, first Archbishop and the Society of Clerks Secular of St Basil and are being published for all to see. This is the evidence of their defamation, insulting long dead bishops AND OUR SYNOD TODAY. Since wiki is supposed to be an encyclopedia it is not entitled to literary license and exaggeration.
Following are some of the Canon's that are being violated by orthodox clergy;
c 34 of the 85c - A priest shall do nothing without the knowledge and consent of his bishop
[We start with this canon since Metropolitan Philip and others were notified of our complaint about Orthodoxwiki's claims and public publication of inaccurate and incorrect information that insults, defames and attacks us but since we received no response and the site remains active and we believe this is done with the knowledge and blessing of the bishops.]
c 55 of the 85c - He who Insults a bishop shall be deposed
To defame a deceased bishop is an insult, to say a church does not exist insults our synod
c 32 of the 92c - Thou shalt not exact vengeance twice for the same offense.
Repeated false claims and attacks continue to occur that exact vengeance repeatedly
c 6 of the 7c - A person shall not fabricate charges against an Orthodox bishop
Since no tribunal occurred no official charges were ever made but these individuals (not bishops) constantly publish their claimed charges
c 18 of the 30c - You shall not conspire or plot against a bishop
These people "plot" and "conspire" by writing these web sites and thesis', with undocumented and unproved claims (just more materials by others using the same point of view), publishing materials against this church and Abp. Ofiesh of blessed memory
The canons state that "You shall not exact vengeance twice for the same offense" and claims continue to be made that Abp. Ofiesh committed offenses but he was never officially charged.
The canons also state a bishop shall not be removed from office without a trial but these "clergy" continue to claim he was ousted from office without a tribunal or trial". They fabricate their claimed charges today, claims that were never made in his lifetime which violates the canons. They are thieves since they steal his good name and that of his Church. THEY VIOLATE THE CANONS but have gone unpunished. The purpose of this complaint is to show that others violate canons and these acts go unpunished and ignored. These so called orthodox clergy continue the attempt to destroy this sister Church, so today we call these acts to your attention.
Orthodoxwiki and its writers and publishers make undocumented claims that contradict themselves to claim Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh was removed from office when he was not. They are attempting to do now, years after his death in 1966, what was never formally done by the proper authorities in 1933 and none are bishops and none have the authority to do this.
By their acts they insult the bishop; they steal his good name and that of Bp. Sophronius and our Synod today. These Antiochian priests under Metropolitan Philip are guilty of fabricating charges they had no formal authority to lay against a canonical Archbishop when he was alive or now that he is deceased. Their continued publishing of these claims on various web pages are an attempt to exact vengeance twice for the same offense. These are all violations of the canons. Should we not all be held equally responsible for canonical violations? Do you support one standard for your Church clergy and another for this Church?
As for Metropolitan Philip: We sent by mail (post) a letter of complaint notifying him of what his clergy are doing and writing. He failed to act. We also sent other mail and a number of emails to him and received only 1 response to verify that our postal mail was received. They ignore us!
Also based on the published book "Widowed Priest" Metropolitan Philip also appears to have violated the canons in allowing a widowed Antiochian Priest to remarry contrary to the existing canons. In canon 6 of the 102 canons a deacon is not allowed to remarry, and a bishop who allows a deacon to remarry shall be deposed. Since a priest is also not allowed to remarry what punishment should there be for allowing a priest to remarry? No one to date has taken any action against Philip nor have others attempted to destroy his Church... as has been done by the "ethnic" jurisdictions, mainly the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, in North America to our Church. Since it appears to be this Church and Metr. Philip behind the attacks published on orthodoxwiki, and other places, against this Church we feel all the so called violations of the canons must be shared equally. If you allow them to take our good name and continue to defame Abp. Ofiesh of blessed memory over 40 years after he died than should we published that Philip deposed himself or maybe force his retirement because of his appearance of violating the canons?
The following excerpt names the Patriarch as allowing the remarriage of this priest.
The Book "Widowed Priest: A Crisis in Ministry" by Fr Joseph Allen. In the book catalog it reads: The story of Fr Joseph Allen, a widowed priest in the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, who chose to be remarried. The Patriarch of Antioch decided to permit the local bishop (as I read the book it also mentioned Metr. Philip) to use his pastoral discretion and allow this remarried priest to continue serving the Church. The historical facts and precedents uncovered are presented within this very readable human interest story.
So is it now claimed that it is alright for the Antiochian Metropolitan and the Patriarch to violate the existing canons - canon 6 of the 102 canons? Or do you claim the authority to waive that canon?
Now I should also mention a couple other matters of irregular acts by the Antiochian Church prior to Metropolitan Philip.
RE: (Paul) Alexander Tyler Turner who was supposed to have been consecrated by Ignatius (Wm. A.) Nichols who was a former Auxiliary bishop of this American Church (Sept 1932 - June 1933). Ignatius had left this Church without letters according to Orthodoxwiki to marry. By 1934 he was ordaining as an independent non-canonical (old catholic) Archbishop of the group calling itself "The Holy Orthodox Church in America ". This group was not an Orthodox entity. He had left Orthodoxy when he left the American Church and thus left all authority. It is claimed that Ignatius had re-established the Society of Clerks Secular of this Church (not our group but a new independent group) that he supposedly headed and then later is said to have turned the group over to Alexander Tyler Turner. The dates vary based on which independent group you listen to.
1. Ignatius left all Orthodoxy by 1943 and became pastor of a protestant Church in Vermont. He was a protestant pastor when he died in 1947.
2. Turner was in very doubtful lines of Apostolic Succession and they were not our orthodox lines.
3. Turner was a married bishop of an independent jurisdiction not associated with this (American) Church.
4. Turner was incardinated into the Antiochian Archdiocese (NY) as a priest. It appears no letter of incardination was requested from any source and Archbishop Ofiesh was alive and could have issued such a letter if he recognized Turner and his lines.
Our question is if Turner was not in any orthodox lines of Apostolic succession did the Antiochian Church re-ordain him?
Note that we do not make this up. Most is published on orthodoxwiki by Antiochian clergy. They publish a number of pages attacking this Church and our clergy of blessed memory as well as us today. Much of our complaint is based on this published material.
The Orthodox took our clergy without the required letters, even our suspended clergy. Seems our clergy, property and members (our assets) were Orthodox by we were not considered worthy!
Also Note that the Russian Synod had drafted the Constitution for this Church, again also according to the published report on orthodoxwiki.
We were canonically established and we continue as the same church today.
This matter could be easily resolved. If you, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, as head of that Church, had the authority to allow Metropolitan Philip to permit a priest to remarry and remain an active priest without violating the canons that prohibit this then we contend Archbishop Aftimios, as head of the American Church by the authority granted to him as the first appointed leader of this Church, the highest ranking bishop of the American Jurisdiction, had the same authority to waive the same or similar canon's without violating any canon. This would be supported by the logical view that had such a violation occurred in 1933 that a tribunal would have been called by the supreme authority of the Orthodox communion. If one of the above named clergy violated the canons then all above violated the canons; this is called equal justice for all.
You cannot violate the canons in like manner and then allow your clergy to attack us for what our bishop did in 1933. He married. He remained a bishop. Orthodoxwiki has published that he retired, that he deposed himself, etc and then they go on to publish that his wife said he intended to remain an active bishop and not retire. What they publish is hearsay and guess work.
They (wiki) publish that our bishops Ignatius and Joseph stated the Canon on married bishops is a European and Asiatic canon that has no bearing on the American Church. Also, Fr Stanley Hakaras, a Greek priest and author in the United States has written that the canon on married bishops was not adopted by all Churches so it would appear our church did not adopt that canon. He goes on to say as an Administrative canon it can be changed at any time. Our Church did not adopt that canon.
The bishop violated only the canon on clergy marriage after ordination and many years later it appears you and Metropolitan Philip have waived that canon as our bishop did, for himself, in 1933. Since clergy of both our churches appear to have "waived" this canon then our bishop only acted years earlier and your church has followed suit. Then why do the Antiochian clergy still act in such an unchristian manner and attack the memory of a canonical bishop who did little different than you and Metropolitan allowed?
You must stop the attacks on Abp. Aftimios Ofiesh of blessed memory immediately and the removal of all false claims about him and our church. Either both of our bishops violated the canons or neither did - its unfair to follow a double standard and then throw mud on a canonical bishop. Those who continue to attack him and violate the canons do need to be punished! We seek justice. We are entitled to justice and to Christian Charity and none has been shown by any Antiochian clergy.
In the event the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch or the Synod fail to respond or deny ever getting this letter we can provide documentation it was mailed by U.S. Mail on December 16, 2009 by the receipt of mailing as well as by the copy of the sent email.