The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

Interview with Metropolitan Isaiah of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 as the arena Sunday homilies and theologicalreflections would bother JE siatrenum father Jessiah is the pastor of SaintAndrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside California. He is also thefounder of Patristic Nectra Publications, a nonprofit organizationcommitted to nourishing the spiritually thirstay with the sweet teachings ofthe fully fathers. As a member of the Secretaryat of the assembly ofCanonical Orthodox bishops of North and Central America, Father Desiah has beentasked to conduct interviews with each of the Orthodox hierarchs of Americaover the course of the coming year. These interviews provide a form foreach Orthodox bishop in America to share his understanding, Hem 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, gotward,that's www, that assembly of bishops Godord and now be interviewed. It is a special delight to be able tointerview today His Eminence Metropolitanisaa of the Greekmetropolis of Denver. His Eminence came to this country, orrather his parents emigrated to the United States from Olympia. Greece andmetropolitaniser himself, was born in Portsmouth New Hampshire. He was raisedthere and after high school served our nation as a marine during the KoreanWar. He attended Holy Cross seminary...

...from which he graduated in nineteensixty and later would do graduate studies at the seminary of theecamenical patriarcate on the island of Halkey, as well as at the University ofFeseleniki and Thesliniki Greece, where he obtained a masters in theology. His Eminence was taunted a monk in onethousand nine hundred and sixty two and later a deacon and a priest. He wasordained Ta Priest at Saint Sopia canthedral here in Los Angeles, heserved in many pastral assignments, including in Salt Lake City andYoungston, Ohio in on thousand nine hundred and sixty nine. He was elevatedto the rake of Arcamandrit and served as the dean of Student Life at HolyCrofs seminary. He also served as a chancellor for the diocese of Chicagoand on Housand, nine hundred and eighty six was consecrated to the sacredepiscobacy Inin Tsand ninet hundred ninety two. Hewas appointed to be the bishop of the dicese of Denver and was elected tobecome metropolitan in nineteen ninety seven, and in the year two thousand andtwo, the diocese of Denver, was elevated by the ecamenical patriarch tobe a metropolis, and His Eminence became the metropolitan of themetropolis of Denver. Your Eminence, thank you very much for being a willingto do this interview. I thank you for considering me your eminence what you describe for ourlisteners, your perception of the ephos of the assembly of Bishops. What wereyour impressions of the initial meetings? Well, we have had two meetings in the last two years and the way I perceived each one of themeetings, the first of New York and the second in Chicago, was as if we werewaiting for a train to come by to pick us up. People are just looking at each other,not too much conversation and perceive that the few that did speak...

...were the only ones that were beingheard, and probably the majority Wer just waiting to see what they wouldhear in order to reflect upon themselves on within themselves.Exactly where we were going with this new entity called the episcopalassembly. So do you feel it was really a reactionto the newness of it kind of quandary, exactly it was the newness ofit because, as all of us know, athodoxy initiallycame to America as a missionary church by the Russian and Orthodoxpatriarchade in the seventeen hundreds, but most of the Orthodox Christiansafter that came as imbigrams and related to their own motherchurches in Eursean, the Middle East. Your Eminence, you have a sense thatthat initial discomfort is falling out, that the bishops are becoming morecomfortable with the the idea of the assembly from the correspondence I havebeen receiving and our next meeting is next month. In a few weeks in Chicagoagain from the corespondence I have been receiving. I believe that we aregoing on a definite path. In regard to working with one another, and I'm verygrateful personally speaking to Bishop Basil of the Antiochian Artadises,because he's been doing a a lot of work in the organizational part of this new entity, and so I remain veryoptimistic that things will be going very well, especially in Chicago nextmonth. Your Eminence. What is the mandate fromthe Mother Churches About the assembly? Can you help myself and are on ourlisteners to understand what the assembly is intended to be by therequest of the other churches and how it might be different from what Scobowas...

...the? I have limited informationregarding this. I only know that the ECIMENICAL Patriarchate, under which Iam a member, has blessed this endeavor in order to to bring the various jerisdictionstogether, not initially administratively, but but to work. Cooperatively, especially in areas where we have common concerns, and so the the the only thing I can say with mylimited information is that the fact that it's been blessed by the thePatriarchade of Constantinopo? I perceive that that the Patriat is reflects what othermother churches reflect in that we have been working separately, that thevarious jurisdictions have been working separately here in the United States,and we don't indicate that we are one church in regard to Scoba. Scobar wasinitially very good in bringing worthodoxs leaders together, but again it it had deficiencies which I would like to address briefly, as thechairman of the military chapelain see: Aha, Aha, okay! Well, if you don't mind,May I ask you just a few other questions and then we'll get to e thesubject of the military chapence that are right if we perceen co, youreminence, we know, through the website of the assembly of Bishops, throughsome of the Public Communiques that have come out from the assembly of ourbishops that that the assembly is engaged in a wide swath of of ministryand discussion, and many committees are working. What, in your opinion, is themost important work of the assembly,...

...its Depresson time, because I'm very very winicky a particular about translations? I am very much concerned that we use thesame trans elations when we translate whatever it is from the from our mother languages, to the Englishlanguage and allow me to give you one example: The creed which all of us, ofcourse, annow the twelve articles of the creed. What we believe in I know the the Roman Catholic Church does it intheir creed and I believe the translation that some of ourjurisdictions have come from the Anglican church, but itbothers me. I laugh about it, but it bothers mewhen we talk about inthe creed. We cite that ourlord died and then you have thetranslation and he rose again, and my question is how many times did he diebecause he rose from the dead Yo see? The word again is: Is We dundant? Itdoesn't belong thed, it's tisleaving. You know in regard to the death and theresurrection of Criso, that is one small and yet important. Example, inregard to our getting together the Jur, the ver juriddictions and Verd Duydictions, and to have the same translation in the English Languag inthe in the theological areas of our fame. Your Eminence is this something thatthat you understand is being discussed perhaps by the committee on litergy oris it in process. I let me say I hope it is in process,because I'm not part of that committee, I don't believe Ahuh...

...well, may come to pass your wish. Your Eminence I, what is the greatestobstacle to the success of the assembly in this area and in these other areasthat the bishops are trying to to accomplish things. I don't know if I speak from off l thejurisdictions, but having grown up in the Greek qatodoaginises. One of theobstacles is that there is a confusion between faith and and ethnicity. I always looked upon helenism as culturable and not ethnic,but you have the concept that people have a concept from a Greekbackground there to the ethnic part of their cultural heritage is equal to thefaith, and sometimes I do say I make an an analogy, and I say t the faith isthe message and the culture is the vehicle and people can confuse theculture, the faith and the vehicle they make thefaith, the vehicle and the culture. The message, that's that's what I see thatas a confusion among many people and allow me to say that maybe maybe theautoman empire is Gill is responsible for this, because under the automonempire our bishops were called recognizes. ETHNAC WAT is an ETHNORC.An etnak is the head of a Ithnot, a nation, but which which demeans theChristian pase, bringing it down to the level of ethonicity. You See, andpossibly this is why, even today, the Republic of Turkey does not recognizethe ECAMENICAL Patriarchade as a truly...

...spiritual leader. Above all,ethnicities is this kind of a supposition. I have, in my mind, hm your eminence this suck this questionof ethnicism in its extreme form. Even the herecy of Phelatism has beendiscussed or for many many years in the Orthodox context, especially in theWest. Do you have a sense? Your Eminence that were making progress inthis area? Are we are we becoming more normative and Orthodox in ourunderstanding or less? So I I don't see a change, because here in the UnitedStates Christian faith, he United States, an Nota is not hasnever been a Protestant nation, but in the United States, Christianty has beenintellectual lives D and I do not want to see Orthodoxy being aconfined to the intellectual part of our existence, because it's a livingfaith and allow me to say that a few years ago Iread a couple f articles from the Salt Lake City, tribune of the heart ofMormonism, in Utah and and the articles both articles saidthat the greatest failure rate of Mormons in the world was in Griefebecause they could not differentiate between the faith and the culture. Soin this regard, culture has a positive influence on the faith, because it's the concept of Arthodoxxisteantis tolive the faith not to just think it, and here in America they just thinkprotestantism. You know I exceptee is Chrise and I'm saved. Well, it's notthat it's not that easy. You know that we all know that, and so, if there's a tranition, I hope itdoesn't confine itself to just the...

...intellectual part of Orthodox of theothodogs faith, but it it's a. It becomes a an experience in livingorthodoxy and indicating especially now when, when America is going more andmore atheistic to indicate that we are different from people who are not members of of our faith different in abetter way of course. Yes, yes, indeed, your eminence, it's obvious to theOrthodox lay at the end, to the and to the priests who are watching the workof our of our the great men of our church, of the bishops of the Church inthis process that that there seems to be quite a few bishops engaged inparticular pastoral issues and committees. You yourself are quite known for your work with theMilitaryan with the military chaptencey and you chair the Assemblies Committeefor Military Chaplins See. Would you tell our listeners what's that allabout what's happening in that committee? Well, allow me first to say,as a preface that that I was always wondering why this particularly this year, that amongthe military of the American military, there has been one suicide a day fromthe beginning of this year to the present day suicides a Rampaner inamong the military, and I think I got a partial answer from my chance of hefather Luke Yu, who was an officer in the navy in is younger years, he'sstill young, but then he's on Goo year for any white, and he told me that a very large number of the military ontheir dog tags do not designate a religious affiliation. It indicate thatprobably they have not been brought up in any religious body, and no I say that as a preface,because...

...if we HAV more chaplins of alldenominations and our church in the military, maybe we could stam thistragedy that is taking place. Among our military, we don't have that manymilitary chavels, but our main problem is this: now Father Luke in theendorsing and tendorsing agent for the military of our arjedises, and, Ibelieve, also the the Capatho Russian and the Ukrainian, but there are otherendorsing agents. I believe representative, I should say in the Lca-and I think the MTO Kan might be wrong nowthat tells the Department of Defense that we are not the one holy Catholicand Apostolic Church. We are much like the Protestants denomination, so wehave to eliminate this ind. One of my major, my intentions as the chairman ofthe military comchaplains committee with members of of this companty, is to convinnce and I think were close tothat decision. The feelings are common and unanimous that the OrthodoxChurchis in America should have one endorcing agent to indicate to theDepartment of Defense that we are a church, much like the wo Catholic andthe Jewish and the Jewish religion. You See. So this is my first and may I say my only intention is to getthis clear up and to have all ourjurisdictions agree that they should be one endorsing agent among the rotzoxchurches and he should not be a bishop.

He should be a priest because, if he'sa bishop, it might create problems and under whose jurisdiction the Chaplinthis you see- sureyeah. Well, wonderful, wonderful goodness! Your Eminence, I let me say one morething. I forgot to mention that they are. There are chaplins in the militarytoday who call themselves Alto dock and they're, not a. We will eliminate the Hav you seensurethat yeah, the Laete, your eminente are watching,and many of them, I believe, are are desirous of supporting the bishops intheir work and especially in helping create a common witness for theOrthodox Christian faith in our nation and the priests want to help too. Iknow in the deacons your eman is what what would you say tothem? How could they help and support the work of the assembly? Whatpractically can they do? First and fourmots? They should bevisible when we have Pan Orthodox gathering, so here in in this part ofthe country, I was very blessed to concelebrate the divine litergy withour beloved friend Dorge Bishop Denicri, who fellasleep in the Lord. In the recent past and Bishop Basil, wehad we celebrated the divine litergy in Dallas in Kansas City here in Denverand the people from all from our different jurididictions came together.That would be the first and a most wonderful witness, because afterwards,during the coffee hour, people meet one another and they realize that, nomatter what their background is. We are members of the body of Christ, the onethe one Orthodox Church. I believe this istaking place also in the California area, from the news releases that Ihave...

I've, beenseeing and reading. I think this. This would be the firstpragmatic expression, and I mentioned the coffee are because herewhen we do our Sundar of authodoxy services, I have to say more. People of the otherjurisdictions are present rather than people who are members of the Cathedral,which is a very large causedolin membership. Maybe eight hundred families, maybemore, and so I see that that there is a desire on the part of Orthodoxquestions to come together and as far as anything further, I amlimited right now in my in my thinking as to how how active our laty should be, but maybe some Arthodox wan't ogree with mewhen I say this, but we should be very cautious and not expressing ourselves as otodoxsChristians when the issue is publicized and it has become po political, forexample. The best example is tha abortions in our country, aborsonsArlegal, when that's a moral issue as far as the church is concerned, butwhen the cycular powers make abortion apolitical issue because of money, then I don't see what abouts Christiansparticipating in public demonstrations, because we are supporting the concept Ithink misleadingly, but we e sporting. Theconcept that abortion, the the the isual o abortion is a is a political arceculation. It isn't itsmoral and that's where we of clusore...

...should come in and speak against thatfrom the pulpit, but not to go out actively and show that we are part ofany political expressions now that might be confusing to some people tohear this, but we have to be very careful when something is politicized not to not to take asides publicly and now. We have,of course, the serious problem of same sex. Marriage Ordio, do no Autho dogsbreezed, whatever do a service, an marriage between twopeople of the same gender, because it would go contrary to the teacins of thechurch. If the law says you have to do it, then that's when we have to cometogether much er stronger than ever antil the state don't interfere inreligious affairs. I don't know if that's going to come to that kind of acritical situation, the future time will tell hm the reminants. If I could ask you to tothink about the future, and maybe ten years twenty years, whatever Godknows into the future, what would you imagine the assembly looking like? Whatdo you perceive to be? The final goal of the assembly where's this all going. I believe that the intengons are verypositive, very good, that we all are recognize one another as cells in thebody of Christ. We are one church and, in regard to to the future, I think the most pragmatic thing thatshould happen initially would be much like the United States. There are fiftystates under a federal government. I believe that the Authodox churcher should gettogether as...

...atonomist, not a autosephilis butautonomous and recognizing the the mother Church'sLevacy, from the spiritual perspective, as has that that cover over over all of us much like the Patriarchade ofConsentonople, the Patriot of Concen Robl, is not the administrate ove headof Orthodoxy and the Pope is the administrative head of Roman Catholics.He is the spiritual head so in recognizing the four ancient patriar case and theother, the other Artosevelis and autonomous churches as our umbrella.Under that we can, we can sturtily be autonomous without saying thatAurocethaly will solve our problem, because that goes into legallis. Am Ithink, and Arthodox is not legalistic as pastoral, and we have to keep thatin mind your eminence May. May I share athought, since you mentioned that word pastoral, you bring something to mymind. I want to ask your opinion on it. You it seems, it seems to me wher. Ilive here in southern California, I'm surrounded by Orthodox churches ofdifferent jurisdictions and we to greater or lesser degrees attempt towork together. But it seems to me that one of the greatest sorrows of ourjurisdictional divisions is just in this pastoral area and no give you anexample, and you can tell me if you think that this is legitimate to say, there's a church not far from us here.Many of my parishioners know those the prishioners at this parish and we'vedone many things together, but because we're separated jurisdictionally, wehave limited formal means of communication. You know the CLERG Ydon't get together regularly for instruction like they would if theywere in the same diocesn and a number...

...of very esteemed perisioners passedaway this year at this church, even though this churchis very close to mine, and yet we did not know because we weren't, you know,we didn't share the same email list Etca. We were not able to pray for therepose of the souls of these beloved porisioners for two weeks until weheard off the Grat bine. That seems to me to be a very practical pastoralexpression of the sorrow of jurisdictional divisions. Does thatsound right to you? It is a sad reality because I can alsosay I did not know until afterward that my dear friend Argbishop Seve, aLod of the Ukrainian church, fell aasleep in the Lord, as well as Metroposan, Christopher of the SyrbianChurch. I know that they, you know, theyre bad. They were back east and I'mout here, but we, unfortunately we don't have we don't work quickly enough in our communications, age were so advanced in all the expressions of communication. We don'tmove quickly enough in regard to disseminating information in sharingwhat should be shared in regard you know, I I see that within our our Greekauthodox tradition and allow me to Lauwr it to a lower level. Let us say they have a festival. The Paris has afestival the next year comes around and they don't remember what the Committeeof last year did regarding how the festival was organized. We don't keep atrack record of things, and so we, I think, the worst in in keepingrecords and having communications. What...

I'm doing here, just to give you anexample in the metropolis building, I am gathering funds and I am putting upeight nerovs, a large murals in the metropolis enter indicating orthodoximmigration in this part of the country, because we don't keep reckas we do, and that is that is one of our veryvery strong weaknesses and bringing it up to the to the present day level. We shouldcommunicate much more quickly, especially when leaders of our of our faith pass away from this life, and we don'tknow it until one or two weeks later, it's bad. It's really sad yeah, youreminence, do you think of the assembly of Bishops and the the network that itsbuilding could facilitate. This could accomplish this in the future.Absolutely absolutely I'm very hopeful that we're going inthat direction in our own argidiatis. We started thatin regard to putting more people in the office of communications so that we candisseminate information much more quickly than we do. So, I'm veryoptimistic that this is going to work out it'll, be all right. Thank God!Well, your eminence, I thank you very much for the time that you've made toconduct this interview. I wonder if you have any last reflections that you'dlike to offer to our listeners. The last reflection I have is why I amstill active in the clergy, and that is because I adamantly believe that theHoly Spirit is presiding over the church, as our Lord promised and nomatter what we do or do not do. The church will remain maybe in lessernumbers, but the Church will remain as our Lord promised, even to the day whenhe returns in glory- and that's am that's what'Satto wards keeps me goingthat the fore spirit is...

I say to some people in jest. I said.Sometimes it doesn't look like teallhes poers around, but he is. He is becausehe'she's hoping that using our intelduct and free will, wewill go in the right direction, an in the harmony with what his divine willise. Yes, indeed, thank you for that. Your Eminence and thank you for thetime. I ask your prayers. Thank you very much and me, God bless all of usand anlighten us and inspire us o that wecan do his will, whether weare lay people or or clergy or Monastics, orwhatever working todeserve. The message of thecoming Kingdom for got people you've been listening to the arena. Sunday homilies andtheological reflections with fother Gesiatrenum father dessiah is the pastor of SaintAndrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside California. He is also thefounder of Patristic Metropublications, a nonprofit organization committed tonourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers.As a member of the Secretaryot of the assembly of Canonical Orthodox bishopsof North and Central America, Father Dessiah has been tasked to conductinterviews with each of the Orthodox hielarchs 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 Orthodox bishops. These interviewsof the more than fifty Orthodox Bishops will be available here at Viorena onancient faith, radio, as well as directly at the website of the assemblyof Canonical Orthodox bishops at www...

...doch assembly of bishops, Dodorg,that's www, that assembly of bishops DODORD UNTIL NEXT TIME.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (545)