The Patriarchate of Antioch posted the following message from Patriarch John to its Facebook page around 8:00 p.m. Syrian time today, August 29. For context see the Metropolitan Joseph: The Scandal section in our Archives 2020-22 linked at the top of this page. Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s sources note astutely that the Patriarch bypasses Metropolitan Joseph in communicating directly with the people. He voices neither support for the Metropolitan, nor an exhortation to withhold judgment in the matter, nor a rebuke to the global outrage ignited by our reporting on the scandal. Together with the Arabic version, the Patriarch’s message is the pinned post on the Patriarchate’s Facebook page. [ADDENDUM 8/31/22: The post has been unpinned. Scroll down to 8/29 to find it.] Our insider sources at Englewood tell us that Metropolitan Joseph refused to obey the Patriarch’s instructions to post the message to the Archdiocesan website until Orthodoxy in Dialogue published it. Englewood assumed no one would see it on the Patriarchate’s Facebook page.
We encourage our readers around the world to be patient with the Patriarchate over the coming few days. Decisive action seems inevitable and imminent. At the same time, we encourage the Patriarchate to suspend Metropolitan Joseph and appoint a locum tenens without further delay. We are already receiving complaints that the Patriarch’s message lacks substance.
To our beloved in the Lord,
The hierarchs, priests, deacons, and spiritual children of our Holy Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America,
“Peace be to all!”
I begin this letter with this greeting of peace, a greeting that we proclaim in every Divine Service. My desire is to express to you that we, in your Mother Church, where “the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26), are united with you always and in all circumstances, in the peace of Christ. This peace crosses all distances to reach you whenever we pray, and I hear in my heart your answer comes back to us: “And with thy spirit.”
The purpose of this is to remember together that this greeting that the servant of the altar addresses to you, together with your reply to him, proclaim the peace that unites the clergy and the laity at every Divine Liturgy. Our peace is Christ Himself. Christ embraces us in His Spirit as a pure, glorious, and holy Church to the glory of God the Father.
Saying this, I wish to inform you that the news of the turmoil in your God-protected Archdiocese, caused by the accusations against the Metropolitan, has reached us. I wish to assure you that we are closely following up on this issue with the people in-charge, with both clergy and laity in the Archdiocese. Also, we are following up on the measures that have been taken so far, and we will initiate the right and appropriate actions that must be taken at all levels. We will certainly inform you of these in a transparent manner as soon as they are taken.
We confirm this, not just because of our Patriarchal pastoral position, but also because we share your concern, as believers, for the high dignity of the holy episcopacy and for your living Church, which is a cause of constant joy for us, the Mother Church of Antioch.
I conclude this letter by asking you, clergy and laity, to keep this peace in your hearts and among you. I entreat you to pray that the Almighty Lord may preserve all our souls and our beloved Archdiocese of North America from all vain wickedness of the evil one, so that She may remain now and always in the peace of Christ, carrying the bright witness and glory that the Lord desires for Her.
Balamand, 28 August 2022.
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
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