Jad Ganem: When Silence is Golden

Arabic original here.

I read an interview with a bishop whom the Ecumenical Patriarchate had imposed on a diocese in Western Europe from outside the list of candidates presented to it by the diocese’s nominating conference. At the time, many likened the behavior accompanying his selection– the deletion of the names of candidates and the addition of his name, followed by his election– to the behavior of the Ottomans against the Ecumenical Patriarchate during the days of persecution.

Perhaps Constantinople took this step out of faith in this person’s capabilities and talents. But after some time, it went back and realized it had made the wrong choice, after the aforementioned bishop became an adversary of most elements of his diocese and after his being its head started to threaten the departure of its faithful and the closure of its longstanding institutions, especially given that they had been established and developed in the most dire circumstances and, with the passing of time, were able to make their glory.  The Patriarchate of Constantinople’s response to the complaints of the faithful and its taking the decision to transfer him to an administrative job where he would have no direct contact with clergy or ordinary believers came as a tacit admission of his inability to function as a pastor.

Today, in the context of the crisis facing the Orthodox Church, the aforementioned bishop has become a spokesman for the Phanar and has given a television interview in which he expresses severe and irresponsible positions, positions based on legalistic approaches to relationships within the Church that run contrary to her nature, deepen the estrangement between members of the one body, and lack any pastoral sensitivity. I do not know if they express the position of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but I do know that it is not possible to trust someone who failed in administering a small diocese and led it to the brink of breaking apart with issues that have serious repercussions for the unity of the universal Orthodox Church.

In these circumstances, we need the pastoral guidance of experienced men who know that their fundamental role is to preserve the unity of the Church and who work to dress her wounds with the boldness of physicians, the wisdom of saints and the determination of apostles. These difficult times do not call for lawyers who justify schism and glorify unilateral action or juveniles who think that altering reality takes place at the stroke of a pen or through imperious decisions. The faith of millions is in the balance, so enough with irresponsible talk! Enough with scandalizing the faithful! At a time when unity is in danger, “Silence is golden, since there’s no danger in it.”

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