November 4, 2010

Has Metropolitan Philip Become Another Peter the Great?

According to an story released yesterday, it appears Metropolitan Philip would rather his Antiochian priests look like heterodox priests rather than traditional Orthodox priests. His dictatorial actions in the story below sort of remind me of the infamous Beard Tax imposed by Peter the Great in the 17th century. Here is the story:

On the day the Archdiocesan website officially published the Metropolitan Philip's October 22nd "Implementation" Order (read those 18 directives here or here), the Metropolitan dismissed Fr. David Moretti of Terre Haute IN from his parish, and the Archdiocese, ostensibly for disobedience, that is, wearing a traditional cassock rather than a clergy suit while in public. The letter announcing the Metropolitan's decision was short and direct:

"To the Priest David Moretti:

It is with sadness of heart that I write to you today. Because of your disobedience in following the directives I have set forth for liturgical dress and practice as well as public comments you have made disparaging me personally, I am releasing you from your duties as pastor of St. George Church and as a priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese effective December 1, 2010. Please plan to be out of the parish by that date.

In Christ,
+Metropolitan PHILIP"

Fr. Moretti received a previous warning that his practice of wearing a cassock in public, apart from liturgical duties, was not acceptable. According to parishoners, Fr. Moretti then stopped wearing his cassock in public, and adopted the required attire more than a month ago.

As for the second reason given by the Metropolitan, the making of public disparaging remarks concerning the Metropolitan, Fr. Moretti has denied the accusation. He certainly made none yesterday. In a parish bulletin to his community announcing the Metropolitan's decision, published yesterday, Fr. Moretti wrote:

"Dear to Christ, the community under the protection of our beloved Saint George,

The news of my release seems to be "out" and making the rounds. Rather than there be multiple stories with little truth to them, I wanted everyone to be able to read the words, verbatim, that Metropolitan PHILIP sent to me. Your continued prayers for our hierarchs, especially Metropolitan PHILIP are NECESSARY now more than ever. Any and all responses must be done in love. We cannot be true witnesses to Christ and not weigh our motives against what would be pleasing to our Lord! Please know that we trusted our lives to God coming here to Terre Haute and we know full-well that He has not abandoned us, nor will He. Do your best to be stalwart in your prayer and make whatever response you may have to this a BLESSING and not divisive or vindictive."

A second priest, Fr. Paul Alberts, was transferred from his parish of 20+ years in Sylvania, Ohio, near Toledo, without warning yesterday, to replace Fr. Moretti. Not conincidentally perhaps, both priests were associated with Bishop Mark of Toledo, who was dismissed from his See by the Metropolitan earlier this week. According to locals Bishop Mark frequently attended daily Matins at Sylvania, while Fr. Moretti had posted photos and comments concerning Bishop Mark's visit to his parish during Great Lent 2010 where he washed the feet of parishoners on Great and Holy Thursday.

-Mark Stokoe


Related article: Priest Dismissed for Wearing a Cassock!