The scandal caused by the recent article of Metr Kallistos Ware on homosexuality has been well answered by a US convert in a typically Biblical way (1). Like the previous scandal on Metr Kalllistos’ views concerning the possible ordination of priestesses, it reveals the inherent Anglicanism of His Grace, which is why one of his Phanariot fellow-bishops calls him ‘o anglikanos’. This ingrained Anglicanism was already clearly visible in the very first edition of his book ‘The Orthodox Church’, which expressed the views of a young and idealistic Anglican scholastic looking in on the Church from the outside. Written for those outside the Church in an almost British public school civil service report style, the book was largely ignored by Orthodox on the inside.
It is doubtful if the ivory tower views expressed above really affect anyone in the Church outside the convert fringes and the academic ghetto. I do not think that any of my 600 parishioners have even heard of Metr Kallistos. Everything is simple for Orthodox who live outside the academic world, with its often refined and indeed rather effeminate ways: there is inside the Tradition and there is outside the Tradition. We are inside; what goes on outside is really not our concern. May God guide such people away from bookish secularism and flawed compromises towards the Church and Her inner and mystical understanding and age-old wisdom. This is sent down to the repentant by the Holy Spirit, is so lovingly cherished inside the monasteries and the parishes and is utterly different from mere academic understanding.
However, this issue does raise the problem of the Orthodox episcopate in the Western world and its frequent isolation from the parishes and the monasteries. This isolation, together with the frequent political captivity of the episcopate, are responsible for the lack of leadership it has often displayed over recent decades. True, a few Orthodox bishops come from widowed priests and even from priests whose wives have entered convents. However, the vast majority of bishops have always come and always will come from the monasteries. This is fine, providing that we understand that although bishops should be monks, only a few monks are suitable to become bishops.
The problem, especially in the Diaspora in Western Europe, the Americas and Australia, is that for decades most of the bishops have never been monks, but have simply been unmarried. This is not at all the same thing, for, inevitably, some of these bishops have been homosexuals and in some places and in some jurisdictions this, notoriously, has been and is the prevalent practice. I could draw up a list of several dozen such bishops, whom I have met over the last 45 years. The result has been that these bishops have in turn ordained homosexuals and some married clergy have endured persecution from their bishops and their ordinees, with their homosexual backbiting and narcissism. Thus, the episcopate of one group in North America used to be known as ‘a gay mafia’. And this is not just a problem among new calendarists and others on the liberal fringes. Notorious too are the episcopates of some uncanonical old calendarist groups.
Here we must be honest. If the episcopate has often been tainted, it is surely the fault of all of us. Monks, and therefore monasteries, and therefore bishops, do not grow on trees. They come from devout families and from parishes. The extraordinary decadence of Church life, especially over the last 100 years, is responsible for the weak episcopate. What we do not want is married bishops (the error of the schismatic renovationists in Soviet Russia), what we want is the restoration of monastic life, which is virtually non-existent in some Local Churches, resulting in all these scandals, which are, sadly, so well-known. What we need is genuine monastic bishops, continent heterosexuals, real men with vigour and energy, who are close to the parishes and our spades are spades language, who can understand ordinary Orthodox, without academic theorizing and head in the clouds language. However, the Church is not a welfare State where such bishops magically appear from above. They are created by us: we get the episcopate that we deserve.
Metropolitan Kallistos and The Wheel Fr. Lawrence Farley Metropolitan Kallistos and The Wheel Fr. Lawrence Farley If a respected author writes for a publication whose known purpose is the promotion of a particular agenda, then by that very act he lends credence and credibility to that agenda.