Analysis: Chicago’s New Open Communion Policy Applies to ALL Metropolises of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Our Metropolitans need to speak up! How much longer can Chicago suffer under Nathanael’s leadership?
Yesterday’s article about Nathanael’s personal instructions to the Chicago priests to stop instructing the faithful and guests about the guidelines or parameters to approaching the chalice for Holy Communion reached over 25,000 views in two hours. This is a new record for one of our publications. The news out of Chicago spread like wildfire and even the analytics indicate that Russian viewers took a great deal of interest in this story.
Obviously, this “new” policy has wider implications beyond the jurisdiction of the Metropolis of Chicago. The latest drama our Metropolis is now enduring is once again linked to the incompetence of our Ecumenical Patriarch. Nathanael justified his decision by discussing the practices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Since the Ecumenical Patriarch does not offer any written or verbal instructions about the parameters of those who may approach the chalice to receive Holy Communion (except for “With the fear of God, faith, and love, draw near”), then the priests in Chicago should not clarify to our guests and visitors about what is acceptable according to our Orthodox traditions.
If this is the justification being offered by one Metropolitan of the Ecumenical Throne, then it can easily be applied to all the Metropolises of the Ecumenical Throne. After all, why should there be multiple practices functioning concurrently throughout the Eparchies of the Ecumenical Patriarchate? Unless of course, the new policy being offered in Chicago is flawed.
That is open to interpretation. The Ecumenical Patriarch has an opportunity this upcoming week during the Holy & Sacred Patriarchal Synod meetings to discuss this matter further. Of course, their English is not very good so they probably have no idea that one of their Metropolitans has gone rogue (again). And with the Ecumenical Patriarch allegedly firing Deacon Niphon Tsimalas, the former director of the English Office of the EP, there is no reason to believe that our Ecumenical Patriarch is paying attention to concerns from the faithful English speaking Orthodox Christians.
If this new policy is in full force in Chicago, why is it not in full force in the other Metropolises of the Archdiocese of America and throughout the other Eparchies? If this new practice of not offering any instruction is truly the correct and appropriate course of action, shouldn’t all our blessed hierarchs want to impose this practice in their respective Metropolises? Our Archdiocese is once again lacking in uniformity. The consequence to Nathanael’s decision is that all our rules and guidelines are subject to interpretation. This is not peace. This is chaos. THIS IS WHY NATHANAEL NEEDS TO BE STOPPED!
In the 21st century, one poor decision from one hierarch has ramifications outside their jurisdiction and affects the entire Orthodox Church. Just look no further than Nathanael’s response to the Cypriot hierarch who indicated that the cause of homosexuality originates from parents engaging in anal sex. Nathanael was the only English speaking hierarch to offer a response to the “crazy” bishop in Cyprus. The words spoken (or written) by both bishops had ramifications throughout the entire Orthodox Church. And now the other hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne have been put into a very uncomfortable position. Many of them will rightly dismiss what Nathanael is doing as just those actions of a naïve and inexperience clergyman. But, the priests in Chicago have every right to be concerned about what is going through Nathanael’s head.
They are the ones who are forced to be obedient to an inexperienced and incompetent spiritual leader. They have to choose between being obedient to this young spiritual leader making weird decisions or ultimately fearing God who will hold them accountable on the Day of Judgment. The ordination service of a deacon entering the ranks of the Holy Priesthood states that the ordaining hierarch puts the Body of Christ into the new priest’s hands and says, “Receive this Divine Trust, and guard it until the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, at which time He will demand it from you.” How can our priests continue to guard the body of Christ with Chicago’s new open Communion policy?
Our priests have deliberately been put into this difficult situation and the new Chancellor of the Metropolis stays silent. The senior priests of the Metropolis (anyone ordained prior to Nathanael’s ordination in 2003) apparently are unwilling to be vocal like they were under the leadership of Metropolitan Iakovos of blessed memory. Why is the Very Rev. Archimandrite Timothy Bakakos unwilling to defend the concerns of his brother priests? Did anyone bother to raise these concerns with Nathanael before he made this change?
We are now starting to witness the true character of Father Timothy. He idly sits back and watches as Nathanael implements bizarre actions. Bakakos blindly accepted replacing Father Nicholas Jonas as the Administrator of the now-closed Holy Trinity Church in Chicago and did not stop Nathanael from punishing Father Nicholas Jonas for trying to save a Church from closing. It takes a “great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal of more bravery to stand up to your friends.” In the case of Father Timothy, he seems not to stand up for anything. If the Chancellor is not going to defend the position of the priests in the Metropolis, and be successful at making a convincing argument of stopping Nathanael from doing something hastily, then he should retire from active ministry.
The greater consequence of this new policy in Chicago was passionately mentioned in one of the comments by a reader who said, “Do whatever you want.”
If the priests are unable to guard the Body of Christ as instructed by their ordaining hierarch, does that mean Confession is no longer necessary? If anyone (including non-Orthodox) can approach the Chalice, why do we need Confession? Can we throw that sacrament out of the window? Can we do memorial services for everyone? Are there any boundaries that actually exist in the Orthodox Church? Not in Chicago!
It is common knowledge that our parishes are seeing a sharp decrease in stewards, but are we expected to compromise our beliefs and traditions to allow non-Orthodox Christians to fully participate as members of the Church in order to raise our stewardship numbers? We know the Archdiocese is desperate for millions of dollars, but there has to be another way than just letting our Catholic and Protestant friends freely receive the Eucharist.
If this latest action, in a series of questionable decisions, by Nathanael is not a betrayal of the faith of the Apostles and the Fathers, then we have our answer of how corrupt the Ecumenical Patriarchate really has become. Corruption begets corruption.
The other Metropolitans of the Holy Eparchial Synod need to find their backbone and speak up as Christ called you to do. Unless they are no longer serving Christ but rather their own interests, they have an obligation to Christ to defrock Nathanael immediately. Posted by Protecting the Orthodox Church