The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

Interview with Bishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America


AFR podcaster Fr. Josiah Trenham serves as a member of the Secretariat of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. He was commissioned by that body to conduct interviews with each of the Hierarchs in the Assembly of Bishops over the course of the next year.

Ancient faith, radio and patristicneckyor publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theologicalreflections with pother Jesiatrenum Father Jessiah is the pastor of SaintAndrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside California. He is also thefounder of Patristic Nectrpublications, a nonprofit organization committed tonourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers.As a member of the Secretaryat of the assembly of Canonical Orthodox bishopsof North and Central America, Father Desiah has been tasked to conductinterviews with each of the Orthodox hierarchs of America over the course ofthe coming year. These interviews provide a form foreach Orthodox bishop in America to share his understanding of and visionfor, the exciting work of the assembly of Orthodoxbicions. These interviews ofthe more than fifty Orthodox Bishops will be available here at the arena onancient faith. Radio, as well as directly at the website of the assemblyof Canonical Orthodox bishops at www dot, assembly of bishops, Dodward,that's www, that assembly of bishops Dodord and now be interviewed. It is a special honor to be able tointerview today His grace Bishop dmetrials of Malkuissouce. BishopDemetrius is a native of Chicago. He was raised in the historic assumption:Greek Orthodox community. There he's a graduate of Hellenic College and HolyCross Seminary. He was tauntered a monk and ordained to the diakani one thusand,nine hundred an eighty nine and to the holy priestod on thsand nine hunded, ad ninety two and was elevated to the rank of our COMMANDR, one thousand ninehunred N. ninety five. He is well known throughout the country for his manylabors in especially in the acametical interfaith settings, including servingas the president of the Council of the religious leaders of Metropolit inChicago. He was consecrated to the sacredepiscobacy on December, ninth, two thousand six by His Eminence ArchbishopDemetrius of America, and he serves, amongst other things, as the chancellorof the metropolis of Chicago. Your grace. Thank you for accepting thisinterview. Thank you, fouther, it's good to de with you would you describe for our listeners,your perception of the ethos of the assembly of Bishops. What were yourimpressions of the meetings I really enjoyed coming together in rotherhoodand fellowship with fellow hierarchs and various turisdictions under onesetting one table sort of reminiscent or almost an ik icon of what we should bedoing around the Eucharist as one body in Christ? Jesus was a beautiful first and secondgathering, I'm anticipating a beautiful third gathering oftentimes we could gather, at least inChicago we've, always had a good panosac cooperation with Hahierarchphere. There were nine at one time. I think when I was to be fallingasleep a metrapolitan Christopher. We only have one terbianno,but that's fine. It is a beautiful coming together and we'reobviouslyjoined together in the UCARUS and now t's to try to understand and work ourway through and navigate our way through this complex labyrinth thatwe've created here in this country, its going to be an interesting undertaking,but the Tus, I think, is one of respect. Brotherhood love in Christ, Jesus andhonesty. Your grace did you have opportunity, inthe previous assembly meetings, to be able to interface with bishops that youhad never met before R, never known? Yes, absolutely that was a greatblessing, some that you've only heard...

...about or seen the pictures and findalgyGit to meet them and speak with them into face with them. It's sometimeschallenging because you gravitate towards people, you know that's humannature, but forcing oneself to to speak and to work and to interact withhierarchs that we never knew before was indeed a wonderful opportunity for usto see each other as brothers in Christ to see and to share Ur our pains andour joys and to understand that we all sometimes face the same challenges evenin different ethnic settings and indifferent administrative realities.Hm Your grace, what you speak to ourlisteners a bit about exactly what the Assembly is and an what's, the mandatefrom the mother churches for the Assembly A and how is it different fromwhat we've known as SCOBA ASCOBA was a representative body, in other words,one hierargue fom, the juris each of the various surisdictions representedall the other hierarchs. Here all hieracts are of equal vote and equalvoice and come together around the table. It's a little. It's a lotdifferent in its approach to fulfil the mandate. The mandate is to come up withitems for the agenda for the great and Holy Council, which will lead toadministrative normalty and how we, how that needs to be understood in thecontext of of the ASPERA or O pouralistic societies. I think it'sgoing to take us a little want longer than we anticipated and I think it'sCoan take a little longer than most people anticipate. It took us this longto get into this configuration. I don't want to say this.This cause picuration. So it's going to take us, hopefully not as long tounravl it, but it's upto thoe other churches on how to unravel it. So whatwe need to do is come up with questions genda items items that weneed to flesh out for the other churches and present to them in arespectful manner, so that the mother churches can understand the reality ofthe situation in the ASPERA and then I'm sure they understand full wellwhich understand it as we live it and then to come up with some way ofaddressing this complex issue. I'm hopeful and I'm grateful to themother churches for allowing us to take place and for not only allowing it butpromoting it to take place and Shu to encourage us to me. TAND encourage usto come up with items for that agenda. I'm really grateful and hopeful.Actually, your great would it be correct to saythat the mother churches not only allowed this and promotiive, but thatthey're the real cause of the assembly. Could we say that t that it's theirinteraction and their communication that has caused this? I wouldabsolutely say so: it's their mandate, it's their encouragement. It's theirget their blessings to go forward. It's not revolution! I think it's evolution andI think that both both sides of the equation of themother churches and the the churches here in the diaspera working togetherin a beautiful synergistic process, is going to produce something that isgoing to we're going to be proud of, and so that we will celebrateabsolutely believe that the mother churches are the ones that have beenthe catalyst to bring this forward with the guises of the Holy Spirit and theinspiration of the Holy Spirit. I believe now is the right time. Your Grace, I have interacted a bitwith some who, who are cynical. They there's somewhat skeptical aboutwhether or not this could really take place, whether this collaboration couldreally be authentic and they pointed out that there isn't any time frame.That's been, you know, dictated by the mother churches for the Council andtherefore this might go on for a...

...hundred years and nothing really beaccomplished. How would you respond to someone who was cynical about its itssuccess? There is always going to be people whoare cynical nd. I think that they keep us honest in some respects. In otherrespects, I wouldn't put too much weight intowhat they say, because we're already doing the work- and I think, we've evenbeen doing the work and working together prior to the Mantig m of thechurches. Again my reality in my lyved experience of Chicago, we had ninehierachs living here. We used to meet frequently and bring bread together,discuss our problems together. I think we have one of the greatest PanwordTock celebrations, this entire country. We have nine to eleven hyrarchspresident. We have seventy five clergy and twenty five deacons and a hundredfifty IIRS, it's a glorious, glorious celebration, but not only that in theMetror Qort I o Trapolis, O Chicago. I have we have fifty nine parishes andabout seventy four priefts oftentimes when vacations roll around it's hard tofill the parishes with other clergy, from my own jurisdiction easily andgladly and without any hesitation, I will call the OCA Bishop Antiocan priests and we are able to use eachother's clergy freely and it's been a blessing and a certainly been a welcomeresource. So we've been doing the work already and if anybody doesn't believewe have Ben, they just need to look and see that the work his been a c Whit'sbeen accomplished. Already, we've feed a long way from the EVON. The S we'vecome a long way, an beyond not just speaking to each other, we're speakingto each other. We're bracing one another we're celebrating with oneanother, we're bowewing clergy from one another. So it's begun, and people whoare cynical need to wake up from their dogmatic slumber, toborrow phrase from another famous Alon anrealiis that the church is alive, theHoly Spirit lives, Christ, lives and therefore, if it takes us one five, tentwenty five years, I don't know how long it's going to take. I certainlywouldn't want to put a time limit on that Bei and to rush and to producesomething. That's inferior or not even considered by the mother. Churches issomething significant in something serious: KSUR therethe, other churches,Hav Been Aroundie for centuries, and and we need to respect that time in orthodoxy is a different kindof reality. I mean we, we have a CETOFF. We have a put on us right, so I thinknow is the Gat Os. Now is the right time to sanctifyd time to enter intothis work in a serious, systematic manner, but I don't want to put a limitof Kuronus on it. I don't want to say how long it's going to take. I don'tknow, but to be cynical and say it's never going to happen. I wouldn't I would never say that, but you're suggesting that we take thetime so that what we actually produce will become respected by the motherchurches and be of substance. Of course, absolutely we have to anything that wedo needs to be done seriously methodically to be done with purpose,intention, respect, understanding and great eal ofempathy, a lot of all our traditions on a very basic level, not on Tim, a holytradition or Orthodoxim. Talking about a esthnic expression, a lived reality,how the local perish and whatever jurisdiction we have functions and whatis their reality needs to be respected and needs to be celebrated, and wecan't just take a nore, those twenty thirty forty fifty sixty years hundredyears of history might not seem a lot like a lot to the other churches, butcertainly in this country is a lot. We...

...have parishes in Fondelak, Wisconsincelebrated a hundred adniversary for us, that's a long time sure for the Churchof Consens anople. It's not Y. U know it's all relative, but that has to berespected, and that has to be celebrated and we have to make sure wedo it cintentionally. Yes, indeed, your grace, the assemblies is active inmany areas. It has thirteen committees and overseeing many ministries andorganizations. What is the most important work of the assembly in YourJudgment Wol. My Committee, of course well said well said: I'm the chair ofthe acumenical committee. That's a special interest O my a loveof mine and I maybe I'm a little talkang cheap with it, but I do believethat projecting a unified orthodoxy to aFloristic Society Indto, the Western world is very important, especially nowas we're living in a heightened sense of interfaith interaction. With oursisters and brothers of the various fate traditions. I am specificallythinking of the rise of his love and the rise of other minority religions. I'd say butreligions that have been around for quite a while and in this spirit of diversity, whichI embrace. We need to present a unified orthodoxvoice and witness to the world, and the only way we can do that is byrespecting the other not being fearful of the other orsomething that's different and not condemning the other and to respect anto meet the other where the other is, and to witness wort the truth ofOrthodoxy in a unified, systematic fashion. I think that is important work.I don't know if it's an explicit work it the of the assembly, but I know it'smy part of my committee's work. We met recently at Tenicollege Holy Cross. Maythat's so recent in main, and we realized that all the jurisdictions aredoing some kind of ecumenical interfaith work and we need to somehowbring that together and make it more unified to that the OCA or of theAntiocans of the Serbs of the Greeks, ine doing aren't interacting with thevarious Christian and Nonchristian phadicians on different ways or levels,but we do it in a more unified. For that way. We project ourselves to theworld project the truth of Orthodoxy, an thetruth of our faith to the world, and also we can make progress in livingtogether in peace and harmony and moving beyond tolerance, which is, Ithink, a very important concept in this day and age. Your grace, would you speak to us alittle bit more about your role as the chairman for the committee onEcamenical relations for the assembly. What exactly is your responsibility asthe chair and what are some of the plans that that committee has well, wemet Lias, I mentioned in Ma. Our first phase of our journey is to gather theinformation on what other all the jurifictions are doing, ecimenicallyand in the interfate world. I wanted at one point to address the name of thecommittee, which seems rather fundamental, but it's importantwhen we speak to a cumenical work. We speak of work among various Christiantraditions. Whene speak of inteur faith work. We speak of word betweenChristians and Nonchristians, so I like to call it to many acamenicalinterfaith, which is fine. If some people just understand as I ke menical,that's that's their understanding. We have to gather the information whichto know who's doing one and we all we have to do it on a number of levels.One of them is the bilateral consultations, in other words, between Orthodox and Romacathic, ORT, Ecin, feor tack and etc. The other is the Multilatero, which is something likethe National House, an churches,... churchs together, the variousecumenical bodies that exist and how we are we going to relate to them. For example, the National COUSOLCHURCHES IS A body that embraces thirty fourdifferent Christian communions among those thirty four are an a number ofOrthodox fraditions. The Greek archdices of America, Eserbun Ortodox, Church of the ORTSEXchurch in America, so therr various jurisictions are representedindividually. The question we need to answer for ourselves as a behoove us torelate to that organization as the Assemby dishops. What is it better torelate to that body? A multiple jurisdictional levels, the question wehave to struggle with and the question we have to eventuallyanswer. So the part of the work is to is to see whatver. One is doing,however, relates t, the various ecumenical bodies, ind your faithbodies and then come to some understanding and how we're going tomove forward. The second phase would be to actually engage in a dialogue in a I,an man and and staff, the dialogues and the commissions. So it's it's not goingto be a quick process. Also we're in the were right now in e bit, beginningIl put ever vising the handbook in a Ke menical work on what is what's allowed. WHIT's not allowedwhichs required if, for the pastors and the parishes and the priests and how tointouch, relate to interface, tha, chemincal bodies, especiallywhen, itcomes to inte, church marriages, axhilarious Ittoposa, living in the dayage. We do we're thereare more than half about sixty percent of ourmarriages, maybe more o our injudrich marriages. It's important Toe, maintainthat integrity in that that autenticity. So this this committee has specialrelevance for the West and for plearless societies, and do you feellike that? You have the support that you have the resources that you need toaccomplish something like this: The significant for the Assembly? No, Ithink yes, absolutely and the greatest resource is forther Marcarian, thearchinises of America N, a comenical office there, as well as ecumenicaloffices of Deveris urisdictions right now. Our Committee consists of threehierarchs Bishop Alexander of the antiocanarcises dishop Malkiza deck ofthe LCA myself and the consultants we have quite a few from Variussurinstictions in theire. All scholars and people have been doing the work inthe acimonical intour fate worm for many many years, and I think that'sbeen a rea blessing. I absolutely have those resources and, if any of thebrother Bishops Ond the assembly is a whole feel uncomfortable withacumential work, they don't have to, of course be on the committee, buteveryone is has different gifts and talents and different interests, andthat's what I think is part of the beauty of this, this diversity of giftsthat we bring to the table all for one purpose and were able to to grow that interest and nurture thatinterest so that we can bring about the desired effect, may be. May It be God, give you whatyou need? Your grace sing ill, give you what you need. You are articulated forus, a beautiful hope for a common witness, especially in our interactionwith other Christians in America and other faiths and and suggested that's the mostimportant work that the assembly can accomplish now your grace. What then,is the greatest obstacle to the success of the assembly ind? That area, I think, ironically enough. I think it's. Thecynicism you spoke about earlier Isiis is that you can never accomplish thisthecynicism that it's not going to happen in our lifetime and we need tomake it happen. Our lifetime. That kind of negativity is an obstacle.I don't think among the brother bishops.

I really don't. I think everyone at thetable and everyone in the room is committed to this work and they take it.The take it seriously very seriously and you can tell because of theirpresence, not only physical presence, but also their attentiveness to thedetails of what's happening. Meetings are never exciting. They never. Youknow people don't want to look to get another meeting, but this is somethingdifferent. This is sacred. We gather in our ilot of robes and hats and veils and Engobia toshow that this is a serious undertaking, and anybody that says it isn't, I think,is an obstacle towards our work and I'd. Rather, they turn that cynicism into hope and giveus at least their prayers if they're not going to contribute to the work insome meaningful way, be it on a committee as a consultant. Actually,the committees are staffed by more lay people than clergy. We have a greatynergy of hierarchy, clergy and lanity in the Assembl doing the work of theassembly. Of course, the MEMBEROF, the assembly of the Hierachs, but thecommittees were all the work. It's really done is composed of a fewhierarchs, some clergy, some Laity, and we have more non hierarths and hieractson the committees and they're informing the process. So it's it's really a beautiful synergyand it's really encouraging to see this work. Theobstacle of cynicism needs to be removed and we need to if, if they're,not really part of the process and part of the solution and would ask them toplease remain silent and prayerful, and that would probably be the best thingthat could happen for us so that we can remove that obstacle. UHHUH Maye E canenlighe them to I mean if they see the work that we're doing. If you compare what's happening todayto what was going on thirty years ago in Orthodoxy and the disparity thatexisted then, and now the unity hat exist in so many levels. I think onewould be very hopeful and not be cynical. Did it take a while? Yes, isthat? Okay, of course it's okay and would you would you agree also eventhe growing momentum of the work of the of the bishops in a common assemblythat this in time, perhaps some of the less enthusiastic vicies will begin tosee the positives that come out of it and grow in their own support? Cowwoald,definitely agree. I have to tell you the truth and the Anvitions IAVEencountered I've not seen any negativity now if wil sae, if theyharbor that somehow they feel that I don't know but from what appears from what it appears to be. It appearsto be that they are enthusiastic about this work. I think the cynicism anabsle comes from outside the assembly. I don't thank if im from within, Ireally don't after the first assembly, I forgot whosomeone wrote something that was rather negative. My first thought was youweren't, even in the room, so h, ow do you know, and that was always hat my first question:why are they saying these things when they weren't even there? I guess it didn't con. What wasreported out, didn't conform to their understanding and what they wanted tosee done. But it's in God's time and it's going to happen. Your grace you've mentioned alreadythis beautiful, authentic teaconea of the clergy and the late serving withthe great men of the Church and following the bishops in the support ofthis project. What are you telling your priests and deacons and your laty inthe metropolis of Chicago that they can do to support the assembly? The first and foremost is to pray ofthis success, the assembly to to speak well of the hierarchs and thevarius jurisdictions, not to rejoice when one of the brothers has achallenge or difficulty and whatever...

...jurisdiction it might be to support financially the work of theassembly of they're able to. I don't know the details of that kind ofsupport. I'm sure others can direct it and to to really get behind that hopefulness of the work of the assembly,with their prayers, with their words and with their financial treasures, ispossible. Your grace. Do you have any finalreflections that you'd like to offer to us before? We conclude, I really look forward to the great andHoly Council. I look forward to that day when those men of faith come together andunraveld this. This quandary that we're in, but I also wanteveryone to know that we do have a unity and we are united in Christ.Jesus and we have. We share one shallise. We are onechurch. I really have difficulties when people talk about the disunity, theOrthodox Church, the ORTHEC which is not disunited is united is unified. It's aunified whole, and maybe we have different jurisdictional expressionsright now and some day that will be corrected with the God's help andblessings and the bessings of the ofthe churches. But until then, I would hopein praying that the people of God, that the clergy, the hymarchs all proclaimthe unity of our orthodox tradition and the truth of our Orthodox faith and tounderstand and to preach one, Lord Ind One Chalice and that'sreality who we are and to witness orthodoxy in its fullness as a unified expression and a unified church and aunified truth. Oh Man, I thank you very sincerely yourgrace bishop demetriuls for making time to talk with us about the work of theassembly, W very inspiring, and I didn thank you. You've been listening to the arena. Sunday homilies andtheological reflections with fother, Jo Sientrenum Pather Jesiah is the pastorof Saint Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside California. He isalso the founder of Patristic Metroproblocations, a nonprofitorganization committed to nourishing the spiritual retersy with the sweetteachings of the holy foters. As a member of the Secretaryot of theassembly of Canonical Orthodox bishops of North and Central America, FatherDessiah has been tasked to conduct interviews with each of the Orthedonhyerarchs of America over the coirse of the coming year. These interniews provide a form foreach Orthodox bishop in America to share his understanding of and visionfor, the exciting work of the assembly of Orthodox bishops. These interviewsof the more than fifty fourthodox Bishos will be available here at thearena on ancient faith. Radio, as well as directly at the website of theassembly of Canonical Orthodox bishops at www dot, assembly of bishops Dodorg.That's www, that assembly of bishops DODORD UNTIL NEXT TIME.

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