Should diocesan bishops be in?

15-05-2012 10:04 PM

Victor Salama- Nader Shukry


The diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii issued a statement where it insisted that choosing the patriarch from among the diocesan bishops is a non-canonical action

The diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii issued a statement where it insisted that choosing the patriarch from among the diocesan bishops is a non-canonical action. The statement which was signed by Anba Serapion, bishop of Los Angeles, Southern California, and Hawaii, as well as the members of the US clergy was also sent to the locum tenens, Anba Pachomeus in Cairo. It read:
“Under the auspices of His Grace Bishop Serapion, the bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California, and Hawaii, we, the clergy, have researched and studied the canons pertaining to the selection of the Patriarch from among the diocesan bishops or metropolitans. After fervent prayers, research, and discussions, we came to the following resolutions:
First – The Patriarch is the Archbishop of Alexandria.
By definition, the Patriarch is the bishop of Alexandria. Thus, all of the church canons pertaining to the moving of a diocesan bishop to another are applicable to his enthronement.
Second – The Tradition and Canons of the Holy Church Forbid the Selection of the Patriarch from among the Metropolitans and Diocesan Bishops.
Foremost among these Canons are, Canon XV of the Œcumenical Council of Nicaea  (c. 325 A.D.)—which said “neither bishop, elder, nor deacon shall pass from city to city”; Canon XXI of the local council of Antioch (c. 341 A.D.)—which said “a bishop may not be translated from one parish to another, either intruding himself of his own suggestion, or under compulsion by the people, or by constraint of the bishops”; the Greek version of Canon I of the local council of Sardica (c. 343 A.D.)—which said “let no bishop be allowed to remove from a small city to a different one”.
The clergy concluded that all the canons and traditions of the Church forbid the transfer of a metropolitan or a diocesan bishop from his diocese to another. Consequently, the statement insisted, it is a violation of the canons to choose the patriarch from among the metropolitan or diocesan bishops. The statement reminded that throughout history the Coptic Orthodox Church testified to her steadfast commitment to these canons. Furthermore, “Her Holy Synod excommunicated the seekers of this position from the diocesan bishops or anyone who may assist them in this endeavour, in 1865. “We recite the supporting wording here: ‘Everyone who requests this rank, from the ordained bishops or metropolitans of the Sees, tried to seek it, or has accepted it, or if anyone helped him to obtain it, priest, an archpriest, or a lay person, let him be excommunicated,’” the statement read.
It is expected that the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which is scheduled to convene tomorrow morning, should issue some comment regarding the statement.
Watani International
15 May 2012
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