We pray for the success of Fr Peter’s new ministry within the Coptic Church, and that he may continue to be a strong voice in the defence of Orthodox worship and spiritual practice, even as we are called upon to “inculturate” the faith in our Orthodox mission work.
For some time Father Peter has been conducting an energetic missionary ministry to support those seeking to learn more about Orthodoxy, especially centred on missions in Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon and Windsor. He has also served in Egypt and the Diocese of Milan. Having expressed the conviction that his future ministry should now be within the wider Coptic Church, he has requested to be released into the direct jurisdiction and care of His Holiness Pope Tawadros and to be obedient to His Holiness in regard to his future service. Accordingly Abba Seraphim signed a canonical release dated 3 July and commended Father Peter to the oversight of H.H. The Pope.
I thought the same thing when I read the news. Ironically, qawe's position that "sometimes there is a need to create further anomalies in order to fix existing one" is very reminiscent of my position on Canon 15 of Nicaea and the controversy we had in 2012 when Pope Tawadrous (and other diocesean bishops) were nominated for the patriarchate. My position went even farther in claiming that the election of the Pope from among diocesean bishops was not even an anomaly to begin with but a different interpretation of Canon 15. I also posited that Canon 15 was ratified to both limit and allow the transfer of bishops (including diocesean bishops), PRIESTS, and deacons to other jurisdictions where needed. Those who opposed the transfer of diocesean bishops saw Canon 15 exclusively as a law to limit the transfer of clerics. It seems now that same alternative interpretation of Canon 15 is being used in defense to move Fr Peter.
Isn't it obvious though? The British Church is tiny, and is (unfortunately) largely ignored by Copts. Fr Peter's talents are grossly under-utilised there - because they have smaller numbers and very few resources, and because they don't have the problems with Orthodox praxis and "mission" that we have in the Coptic Churches.
No bishop should be permitted to abandon his own community (παροικίαν) to take possession of another even if he is constrained by many people, unless he has a serious reason which forces him to do so, for example, if he can be more useful in this other community for the interest of religion (λόγω εύσεβείας). In this case, he cannot make the decision himself; he can only agree with the judgment and the fervent imploring of many bishops." (’Huiller, Peter, Abp. “Section 2: The Canons of the Council, Canon 15 (The Council of Nicea).” The Church of the Ancient Councils: The Disciplinary Work of the First Four Ecumenical Councils. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996. 70-4.)
Matthew Blastares was not a German anything. He was a 14th century Byzantine canonist. Together with Theodore Balsamon and John Zonaras, he represents the traditional interpretation tradition of Byzantine Canon Law. Which brings me to the next point, just food for thought:
This commentary above is one of thousands in which Byzantine post-Chalcedonian scholars comment and interpret the application of canons of ecumenical councils which we uphold (Nicaea, Constantinople and Ephesus). These later interpretations are considered very weighty if not authoritative in the Byzantine churches. They are certainly instructive for us, in the very least giving us an idea of how these canons were interpreted or understood in a later epoch. However, can we go as far as to accept these late Byzantine interpretations without further thought? Is this necessarily how the Oriental churches or even the Coptic Church understood and applied these canons? Just a thought...
There is some confusion in my mind about the whole situation of how dioceses are divided between Orthodox churches. In many areas in Europe and North America, a geographical area is overseen by the Coptic, British, Ethiopian, Armenian, Greek, Russian etc along ethnic lines. I think this is not a sound model.
The Church should fix this first before we go into details of priest transfers.
In addition, did any of you consider the issue of resources that are needed to support priests? Please think about the situation in practical terms rather than appealing to ancient irrelevant theories.
By the way, I meant to say "in no way contradicts his transfer". Forgot the "way".