Fr Peter Transfers From British to Coptic Church



  • Remnkemi,
    There are no boundaries between the dioceses in Britain, as HE Metropolitan Seraphim presides over a diocese that encompasses Britain, and the coptic bishops on the same island have jurisdiction on different parts of the same geographical area, all of them overlapping in a way or another.
    In theory, as you said, this is not sound from an ecclesiastical point of view, but it is a reality that Fr Peter did not invent and has to work within the newly established and widely accepted rules. In this reality, the canon that forbids clergy from crossing over to other dioceses becomes meaningless, because you have no dioceses to begin with. There is a geographical area that is administered jointly by more than one bishop, all of them presided over by HH the Pope. So in essence, there is but one big diocese.
    If you want to get really technical about it, you would have to cancel the appointment of the bishop of youth. It would be, under your definition of the canon, a clear overlap between his responsibilities to shepherd the Coptic youth all over the globe, a responsibility HG shares with all bishops in their respective dioceses. A bishop cares for all his sheep, youth among them.
    But in reality, the youth bishophery has great contribution to the service of youth and canceling this great service for the sake of literal observation of a canon is in contradiction of the spirit of the canon.
    As for canons in general, some are relevant and others are not. For example, the canons forbid the ordination of men born to a second marriage. I guess there was a certain stigma attached to second wives and her children at the time of formulating this canon.
    If this canon was applied, one of the greatest Popes in the history of the Church, HH Pope Shenouda, would have been disqualified. His father married three times, and he is the son of the second wife. Because of the irrelevance of this canon, it is not anymore incorporated in the bylaws for the selection of the Pope.
    The bylaws also do not make a prohibition against clergy moving across dioceses. I think three out of the last Popes, all holy men of God, were bishops before they were ordained Popes. Is this a violation of a canon and they should be excommunicated, or is the canon irrelevant and the Church moved on beyong its narrow application to fulfill a greater purpose? We do not really have to guess. The reality is that the Church, in her supreme wisdom, moved on.
  • edited July 2015
    Well, canceling the youth bishopric is detrimental only because it seems many dioceses depend on the youth bishopric.  But in reality, nowadays, the youth bishopric is really not needed.  HG Bishop Moussa, God bless him and strengthen him, is growing weak, and not working to the extent he used to.  Before him, every bishop had to have someone, probably a deacon, who would be in charge of the youth.  Today, we can revive this, and have deacons take the mantle away from an ecclesiological aberration into a realistic intra-diocesan work.

    From 1929 to 1957 I think, there were three Popes who were diocesan Metropolitans.  This was called the dark age of the Coptic Church in the 20th Century, which was resolved by HH Pope St. Kyrillos VI, who was a monk that became Pope.  HG Bishop Serapion and HG Bishop Youssef spoke about the ramifications of this period and why it lead us to believe we should not have diocesan bishops become a bishop of another diocese.  They may have been holy men, but their good intentions lead to a terrible three decades of the Coptic Church.  The only true spiritual leader of that time that lead to some of our Popes today was St. Habib Girgis.  He was the Pope that never became but should have become Pope in my opinion.

    Some canons have relevance for the culture they are part of (like the issue of second or third marriages).  Some other canons have a spiritual significance that is tied with ecclesiastical theology that should not be tampered with.  I firmly believe some of these latter types of canons include the ordination of bishops solely for a geographical area and the non-overlapping of this geographical area as well, so that the area may be turned into a purely Catholic Church.  But if anything goes and we can change our ecclesiology because this is not central to our faith, then you will have people questioning why we are separated from the Roman Catholics or some high church Protestants.

    All canons need to be studied for their spiritual significance.  Some of those spiritual teachings find themselves unchangeable in its literal form and others can change.
  • Kahan,
    I am of the belief that practice should always follow theology, not the other way around. We don't do something and justify it later, especially when it comes to our faith. Our faith is a revelation of God's plan, God's image. Every time a custom or act is done (with all good intentions) justified by oikonomia, we are drifting farther away from the original image. It would make much more sense to try to understand the theology of an action to see if it conforms to the God's image. If not, we don't have to bother trying to justify it after the fact. 

    It is clearly evident from Church history and from the writings of early fathers like Iraneus, Justin Martyr, Ignatius, that the ecclesiological model that God's image of an ecclesiological hierarchy was one bishop, priests and deacons for the Church in one area. They formulated a theology for this model so that it would be One Church in different geographical areas "where He Himself (Christ) was about to go". The main focal point of this ecclesiological model that finally evolved through the first 4 centuries, finalized and followed the 4th century, was there can only be one bishop, just like there is only One God the Father (one essence, one hypostasis and one source of the godhead). This model is not based on culture, not based on duties, not based on type of lay congregation, not based on gender...even though it seems that culture, duty, plurality, laity and gender have a role in the ecclesiological model. No. It is all based on reflecting the Image of the Trinity that God has revealed through scripture, patristics, and tradition. Having multiple bishops clearly violates the theology that was set up. Thus, having one bishop controlling the whole globe violates the image revealed to the Church from Christ Himself. It is an aberration, not the image. Not even the Roman Catholic Church's catechesis teaches that the RC Pope is the bishop of the whole world (or "one big diocese" as you put it). (Petrine primacy is a different concept than one monarchial bishop for the whole world.) 

    Thus, one bishop for the whole world is wrong and multiple bishops in one geographical location is wrong. It is necessary to do this but it should never be considered normal. 

    Now let's speak about canon application. If we take a liberal route as you are suggesting, namely, that some canons must be set aside because they are no longer relevant, then you will be faced an exponentially growing number of inconsistencies. For example, if the application of the canon which says the patriarch cannot be born of a second marriage is irrelevant (and the proof of this is Pope Shenouda), then there is nothing stopping anyone from setting aside the canon that says a bishop must be male. (The proof of this is in the fact that the bishop/patriarch is the successor of the apostles and St Paul called Junia notable among the Apostle.) Therefore, what logical reason should one obey the canon that bishops must be women if we are so easily open to remove the canon that the patriarch must not be from a second marriage? Sure someone will come up with some (very credible and logical) argument that one canon should be follow and another not. But this leads to more inconsistencies. The only way out of this endless circle to base and examine our practices on theology before the practice begins, rather than justifying our practices on inconsistent interpretation afterward.

    Another good example, which you brought up, is the bylaws for the selection of the patriarch. The 1957 bylaws were very narrowed and clearly based on local, cultural practices. The new 2013 bylaws are not any less narrowed based on local (more accurately contemporary Egyptian), cultural practices. The new bylaws states the patriarch must be a monk. If this bylaw occurred since the beginning of Christianity in Egypt, then no patriarch would have been elected until the 7th century. There would be no Pope Demetrius, Pope Athanasius, Pope Cyril, Pope Agathon since these popes were laymen or deacons, never monks. In fact, the first patriarch who we know was a monk is Pope Benjamin I in the 7th century. We know most of the patriarchs before him were priests but not monks. So are canons "irrelevant and the Church has moved on beyong (sic) its narrow purpose to fulfill a greater purpose"? It seems no since the new bylaws are just as narrow and no "greater purpose" is clearly evident.

  • First of all, a small correction: there were other Coptic popes were bishops before the 1929. 

    More importantly, I have to disagree with one point you made. 
    "HG Bishop Serapion and HG Bishop Youssef spoke about the ramifications of this period and why it lead us to believe we should not have diocesan bishops become a bishop of another diocese.  They may have been holy men, but their good intentions lead to a terrible three decades of the Coptic Church." 
    This makes very little logical sense. Some of the worst decades of the Coptic Church occurred with holiest and most influential popes. Case in point: St Athanasius. He never spent more than 10 years out of his 46 year reign outside of exile. Thus, for nearly ¾ of is reign he was a fugitive and a criminal and our Coptic Church was without a father. Some have even argued that St Athanasius did this to himself by engaging in criminal activities. (I won't get into any details because it is not relevant.) 

    Thus, if one can claim and justify three decades of misfortune of the Coptic Church was due to the abuse of patriarchs leaving their diocese for another diocese, then one must justify more than three decades of misfortune of the Coptic Church was due to the abuse of St Athanasius criminal activities. (In fact, the Arians made this same exact claim). But this is setting up a straw man's argument. Uncanonical abuse is not the unequivocal cause of disruption in the Church. It is likely a component of the effect, but not the determining cause. Thus one can't say if you break the canons, the Church will suffer. The Church suffered far worse without any canonical infraction. 

  • edited July 2015
    Forgive me for the oversimplistic explanation of this dark period.  Yes, there were other dark periods, and the one in the 20th century is not solely to be seen because of three uncanonical Popes, but I wanted to allude that three times in a row, the Popes were unable to lead the Church effectively overall, and it left a black mark in our history, and during those three decades, many great leaders in the Church have blamed their uncanonical status, including people like Habib el Masry (and his daughter), Fr. Bishoy Kamel, HH Pope St. Kyrillos VI (when he was Fr. Mina) and HH Pope Shenouda (when he was Nazeer Gayed).

    Other factors play into this dark period of the Church, yes, including a power play with Maglis el Milli and the political maneuvering of the Church through some Coptic dignitaries.

    I do want to mention that yes, they were not the first bishops to be Popes, but they were the first diocesan bishops to be Popes in the Coptic Church.  Previous persons who were ordained bishops were ordained to become Popes, but were prevented due to some issues of their choice by Church leaders, and so their ordination was incomplete because their enthronement consecration was delayed.  And yes, there were other dark periods of the Church that have little to do with canonical problems, but in most instances, there is some association with canonical situations.
  • edited July 2015
    We are now falling into the same loophole mess I explained in the previous post to Kahan. When we build a theology first, our practices are consistent. When we find practices without sound theology, we inconsistently justify these practices any way we can. It doesn't matter who does the justifying, whether the people you mentioned (Fr Bishoy Kamel, HH Pope Kyrillos VI, HH Pope Shenouda III, etc), or modern revisional history. As evidence of this inconsistency, consider both Pope Kyrillos VI's and Pope Shenouda III's stand about patriarchal status. Before they were popes, they condemned the practice of diocesan bishop to the papacy and after they were ordained popes, they allowed general bishops to become popes. This seems to me as clear evidence of inconsistency that modern revisional history wants us to accept unquestionably.

    If we say that it is uncanonical for a bishop to become pope, then it applies to all bishops. Once we start finding canonical loopholes, like a bishop ordained to become pope is ok to "move" to Alexandria, but a diocesan bishop becoming pope would be violating the canon, we are showing that we don't have a sound theological ecclesiology. With this logic, there is nothing wrong for a general bishop to become pope. And if that is the case, then there is nothing uncanonical about the general bishopric. Where does this slippery slope lead to? Once we start picking one deviation considering it permissible but another as evidence of darkness or "a dark age", we fall prey to a perpetual circle of illogical and unreasonable inconsistency. This inconsistency is a revelation of darkness. It is this inconsistent adjudication of canons that makes a period "dark" because it doesn't reflect the light and image of Christ. Either the canons apply universally because they reflect the image revealed divinely or we consider all deviations of canon as equal examples of oikonomia. 

    This doesn't mean we easily justify violations of canons either. Sin is sin. Wrong is wrong. But we can't claim violations of canon is the source or a significant component of our problems in the Church. 
  • Well, I am not sure what loophole I am making though.  I never claimed to say HH Pope St. Kyrillos or HH Pope Shenouda were right about all things they did.  I was just mentioning how they, along with other notable figures, saw the history of the situation of those three decades they lived through.  Surely though, I agree with you (I think) that the ordaining of a general bishop was an uncanonical move, and that has implications on how we judge HH Pope St. Kyrillos' ordinations.  However, I do not think we can make the statement that he "allowed" for general bishops to be Popes, as that situation was not up for debate until after he passed away.  Some conspiracy theories claim he ordained the three men general bishops because he did not want them to be Pope, but others more academically claim at the very least he saw a particular need for certain services to have an episcopal stamp.  The idea for ordaining general bishops according to Guirguis and Doom-Harder actually came from HG Bishop Gregorious (then Dr. Waheeb Atalla), and being that HH Pope St. Kyrillos valued his theological opinion, he decided for it.

    At the same time, I did clarify that it was a factor, not a significant component.  By the third Pope of that era, it lead people to start to reevaluate the canons and bring that to the forefront of debate and controversy.  For better or worse, if it was not for that dark period, we might have nonchalantly allowed for this particular uncanonical practice to continue.  It has also lead today's generation to research and question some of the uncanonical practices we do today, such as the general bishopric.  The ecumenical dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church has forced even EO bishops like Metropolitan John Zizioulas to question his own titular status on the basis of his research on ecclesiastical theology.  In this particular dark period of the Coptic Church, it somewhat forced us to consider doing more research and evaluation of what that theology should be.  That is why in a sense, some people considered it a factor in this particular historical period.  You even have one of the Popes reportedly lament accepting the Papacy.
  • Mina, we mostly agree with each other. I am simply adding a nuance: Either the canons for episcopal authority is applied universally or all so-called "violations" must be considered oikonomia. Thus, I think at a philosophical level, the creation of the general bishop was uncanonical, the ordination of monks as bishops who will become patriarchs was uncanonical, the transfer of bishops at all levels is uncanonical, etc. (And this applies to priests and deacons too). But since Nicaea and subsequent councils saw a need to have bishops, priests and deacons transfer to other diocese at the request of other bishops, then such transfers must be practically viewed as oikonomia. The same must be viewed of the general bishopric, etc. 

    In addition, at a philosophical and theoretical level, all instances of oikonomia should be temporary and the practice should return to a theologically supported permanent practice. But practically, there is still a need for bishops, priests and deacons to transfer; there is still a need for a general bishop to take care of a diocese or a special service; there is still a need for the patriarch to be a monk, etc. This doesn't change and the oikonomia must persists until such needs are no longer present. In essence, the temporary oikonomia becomes permanent (but it is never considered theologically normal). 

    The problem I have is when one such "violation" of a canon is seen as a true violation that needs immediate remediation and another "violation" is seen as permissible (and not even considered a violation). 
  • edited July 2015
    There is only one slight problem. If all the bishops and priests think in the way you do, I would be at ease. But we shouldn't assume they think this is "ekonomia". In fact, I would bet the bishops are starting to think this is the "new normal". HG Bishop Raphael once gave an interview and mentioned how much in the same way there was a time when the Church did not have deacons, but established it later, so there was a time when the Church did not have general bishops, and we established it. HH Pope Tawadros once mentioned in another interview he wishes to expand the general bishopric to other services, like one for pre-teen youth.

    The pattern of behavior here is not "ekonomia", but "the new normal". The slippery slope is not in my strict adherence for canonical ecclesiology, but for the nonchalant lack of awareness of this in our hierarchy.

    I have no problem with some "uncanonical" practices for ekonomia. What is not clear is whether HH Pope St. Kyrillos started it as "ekonomia" or "a new normal". It seems the church today is interpreting this as the new normal, and this should warrant a very loud response.

    At least Fr. Peter Farrington is aware of the problems of our present day ecclesiastical situation. So his transfer can be seen as ekonomia by him. But I cannot say the same for everything HH Pope Tawadros as "ekonomia", but I see a pattern of abuse of ecclesiology.
  • edited July 2015

    HG Bishop Raphael once gave an interview and mentioned how much in the same way there was a time when the Church did not have deacons, but established it later, so there was a time when the Church did not have general bishops, and we established it.

    qawe said:

    HG Bishop Raphael defending the concept of General Bishops: 

    Watch from 14:47

    I'd like to point out the amazing thing about Metropolitan John Zizioulas.  He is actually a titular Metropolitan who is undermining his very own rank.  So, it is possible to find a "general bishop" opposing "general episcopacy" once he is convinced of this.

    I think the problem is asking a general bishop in the Coptic Church if his rank is wrong.  I think that is a question reserved for others since they are too shy to see this in themselves.  Instead, they try to find a reason the Church allowed this rather than admit that this is a mistake.

    The problem HG Bishop Raphael is not realizing is that his interpretation that "Jesus did not tell the disciples to create deacons" and "a saint in the Church created general bishops" seems to put a certain infallibility on the establishment of ranks (once they're established, you can't remove them).  The idea of the ranks of hegumens and metropolitans "cannot be removed" is a strange argument as well.  First of all, they are only titles of honors, and not in the actual way as it was really used in the past.  Second of all, they were used not as an elevation of rank, but an elevation of arbitration among equals.  Third of all, if the Church can "add titles" within an ecclesiological rank, it can surely "remove them".  

    However, it certainly sounds like a "bishop or priest" is not necessary then, since Christ did not create "bishops or priests", but "disciples and apostles."  What prevents us from having female priests or a Protestantizing "clerical" system (or a Cardinal system of the Roman Catholics) if they do not take seriously the dogmatic nature of ecclesiology, or if they don't see ecclesiology as dogma?  Why assume that because a saint did it that it is okay?

    If one reads Metropolitan John Zizioulas (as I am doing right now), one will start to be convinced from him, a bishop of an EO Church that takes metropolitans to be patriarchs that that practice also should not be done.  It is quite an amazing thing that an EO bishop is starting to tell his fellow EOs we should go back to taking non-bishops to become patriarchs.  Being the only Orthodox Church that keeps this strictly does not mean it should be allowed.  It only means we have the freedom to change ecclesiology the way we feel is right to "adapt for changing times".  I find that a troubling position.  Jesus also did not tell people what type of music to use for liturgy, and even that we are strict on.  How then can we be lenient on ecclesiological practices?
  • If you watch Bishop Rafail's video above around the 20:00 minute mark, he reinforces the idea that disruption in the Coptic Church has nothing to do with the elevation of diocesean bishops to the papacy. He used the example of St Mark's tumultuous times to counter-argue that claim. I used St Athanasius' papacy. He also spends a bit of time talking about the right and wrong way for a diocesan bishop to become pope (the same concept applies to priest transferring to other dioceses or geographical locations). It's like de ja vu all over again. :)
  • Can anyone state in what capacity Abouna Peter will be serving? Which area churches will he serve in primarily or will he float around? What sort of services will he take on, etc?
  • I'm not sure anyone can state that yet.
  • After being part of the church for 7 years, I cannot understand why anyone would want to be Coptic Orthodox. Its an Egyptian church for Egyptians.
  • Ioannes, 
    you've converted to a church that's relatively young in North America, hence the older Arabic speaking generation making up most of the populace because most recently immigrated from Egypt. They were never taught about other cultures and adaptation. In less than a decade, though, this will be different in that your generation (the born and raised in the west) will be the majority..
  • My dear friends,

    I am grateful for the unfailing prayers and support of so many people around the world. These prayers are entirely necessary to my service, and if I have ever written, or said, or recorded anything of any small value it is because of the grace of God which your prayers have asked for me.

    As I have posted about a month ago, I have transferred from the jurisdiction of the British Orthodox diocese of the Coptic Orthodox Church, to the direct jurisdiction of His Holiness Pope Tawadros. This has been due to no personal preference, and even a few months ago I expected to continue as I had done for 21 years since I became Orthodox. But it has been due to a strong sense of the will of God made clear through various circumstances that could not be ignored.

    My fervent hope and expectation is that I will be able to continue to engage in missionary work in the UK but in union with, and as a priest of, the Coptic Orthodox Church using the Coptic Orthodox rite in English.

    At the moment I am waiting patiently to see what will be determined for me by the Church. Please pray that the will of God will be made known and that I can serve again as Our Lord wishes. There are others also, those I have been caring for, and some I have led into our Orthodox Faith over the last months and years, who are also waiting patiently with me for the will of God to be revealed. 

    I'm without financial support at the moment, except from a few dear friends. My household bills have not, unfortunately, gone away. Indeed they are mounting up and cannot be paid at present. So I am waiting, trusting in the Lord for his provision by your prayers. Please continue to pray for me and with me. I always need your prayers in every situation.

    If you are able, and moved, to provide some support at this rather testing time, then your financial support is most gratefully received as if from God himself.

  • edited August 2015
    Ioannes said:

    After being part of the church for 7 years, I cannot understand why anyone would want to be Coptic Orthodox. Its an Egyptian church for Egyptians.

    There needs to indeed be English based cultural churches which are orthodox wherever there are English people
    because you need the sacraments
    Not saying they need to play Hillsong though I do not believe we need to attack people who do want to sing Hillsong songs but we need to admonish them according to what is proper for our church and even prevent them from playing it in church
    Though they can maybe play it in private if they already heard it but we can give apologetics to explain which songs are theologically wrong because there are supposed to be people with such talents just like pope Shenouda wrote books on the priesthood and Jehovah's witness we can trust the church can teach us which songs are theologically right to sing in our church
    Indeed we don't need more than the church to do the will of God and be saved but we must make sure we understand the saints teachings correctly by comparing it to what jesus taught

    What do you guys think of protestants who have never heard or understood baptism and those who are actually baptised but not received laying of hands by those with authority for no one receives this honor to himself but those who are called just as Aaron was

    We must teach orthodoxy as the way for we know where Christ is but we do not know where He is not people have to choose what they honestly believe is most right and I mean that seriously and you should never be settled somewhere you don't really think is right only God has the right to judge right now He did not come to judge the world but to save it
    He has not given us special knowledge of others souls
    Better not to judge any even non christians and leave it to others more qualified to instruct
    but there may be no one willing to instruct so it is better you listen to jesus himself or otherwise not despise an imperfect preacher however the preacher is in danger himself if he acts foolish but I say this with attention and concern for the hearer himself

    But it is unchristian not to love protestants and want them to be saved even if they have to be baptised again jesus said by this men will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another

    Paul said whether in pretense or in truth I rejoice that the gospel is preached
    It may be unchristian to hurt others feelings and take the place of God and say we know someone is not saved

    What about people who have been born of water but not of the Spirit if to be born of the Spirit means believing in Jesus and not the holy oil (myron) I suppose God accepts whatever Faith the child has in Him but some do not have faith so it is important to teach them

    God intends for people to teach the orthodox and not abandon them as some have a spirit to do which is probably why He made the priesthood I say this because jesus said to nicodemus are you the teacher of Israel and do not know these things and He would never send someone to preach who has no authority or signs if he was to claim to attack the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set but Gods prophets were from among his own brethren

  • edited August 2015

    it may be unchristian to hurt people's feelings and take the place of God to say we know someone is not saved

    I take that back because we should speak the truth in love only if we are asked it is true we don't know the fate of any soul but we must consider that someone who has openly shown no desire to submit to God and those who commit sin leading to death was probably not saved for the sake of yourself and those still alive but only God knows if they repented and possibly God's fair judgement is different than can be known but that is just a theory we can't live as though we believe those who appeared to commit sin leading to death were saved

    we have to love God more than any other and be willing to choose Him even if someone related to us may not have we have to reserve the right for God to judge anyone if He finds it necessary
  • edited August 2015
    You must accept that Perhaps all or most suicides and unrepentant sinners are not going to heaven they have chosen their path and we must love God first of all and more than all and we must trust Him being a righteous judge
    I guess we do know some peoples fate
    We need to preach the truth if someone is welcoming to listen to you
    As far as I experienced it God does not give you more than you can bear an antipsychotic made me suicidal but I stopped it there is always a way out
    A suicide might be forgiven if he was insane but im not sure we can know if he is insane but there is a chance if he had a severe mental illness if people forced me to continue to take antipsychotics when it was hurting me for life and I commited suicide perhaps God would forgive me if I was pushed beyond what I can endure
    I'm not sure anyone is insane and can not control his actions I think the church just said that out of pity but there may be some who are really insane

    Woe to me if I work to make all men speak well of me for so did their fathers to the false prophets
  • actually I think it is true we don't know the fate of any soul in the case of suicide someone may have been insane and done so much good in life before he may be saved so if you live bad due to hopelessness of seeing that person again or commit sucide you will not see that person in heaven but my dad said before no one if he knew a loved one went to hell would also choose to go to hell unless he is evil
  • @MikeforJesus how did you hijack this thread and turn it into your personal diary lol
  • edited August 2015
    I am very lucky for now :) I said I won't start any new threads so I thought I should say what I want here since all other replies were related to my original reply I had to make replies as I thought satan will take advantage of my weakness even if I am banned which I hope not to do so again but feel free to ban anytime
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