Author Topic: Orthodoxy structure at the bottom level?  (Read 2847 times)

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Offline winsome

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Orthodoxy structure at the bottom level?
« on: Fri May 21, 2010 - 14:04:17 »
Hi,

Sort of following on from my question about choosing Patriarchs and Bishops, how is orthodoxy structured at the bottom level, that is at individual church level?

Is it similar to the Catholic parish system?

Who has authority?

Are lay people involved in governance?

Just curious

winsome

Offline CDHealy

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Re: Orthodoxy structure at the bottom level?
« Reply #1 on: Sat May 22, 2010 - 17:42:14 »
The structure of the Orthodox Church is centered in the Bishop: this is the Local Church, the diocese.  Apart from the office of bishop there is no higher ecclesial authority.  There are other administrative titles associated with bishops (Metropolitans, Patriarchs), but they're all charismatically speaking "just" bishops.

Within the structure of the diocese the basic unit is the ecclesiola, the Church of the home, with the father in the role of spiritual head.  Here is where the basic asketical outworking of grace takes place in the day to day activities and prayers and worship of the home.  The family gathers for household prayers, the parents catechize the children, and all live the life of grace.

The ecclesiolae, then are what make up, administratively speaking, the local parish, which is served by a priest on behalf of the bishop and deacons, subdeacons, readers and acolytes, as well as all the laypersons.  The parish is the locus of where the Mysteries (Sacraments) are administered and through the Eucharistic Mystery the Local Church (diocese) is constituted via the life of the parish.

I hope that helps.

Offline winsome

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Re: Orthodoxy structure at the bottom level?
« Reply #2 on: Sun May 23, 2010 - 02:59:05 »
The structure of the Orthodox Church is centered in the Bishop: this is the Local Church, the diocese.  Apart from the office of bishop there is no higher ecclesial authority.  There are other administrative titles associated with bishops (Metropolitans, Patriarchs), but they're all charismatically speaking "just" bishops.

Within the structure of the diocese the basic unit is the ecclesiola, the Church of the home, with the father in the role of spiritual head.  Here is where the basic asketical outworking of grace takes place in the day to day activities and prayers and worship of the home.  The family gathers for household prayers, the parents catechize the children, and all live the life of grace.

The ecclesiolae, then are what make up, administratively speaking, the local parish, which is served by a priest on behalf of the bishop and deacons, subdeacons, readers and acolytes, as well as all the laypersons.  The parish is the locus of where the Mysteries (Sacraments) are administered and through the Eucharistic Mystery the Local Church (diocese) is constituted via the life of the parish.

I hope that helps.

It does, and thank you for responding.

I have further questions, but before that, the reason I ask is that in my personal opinion all is not well with the structures in Catholicism and I'm just wondering how Orthodoxy functions as we have so much in common in regard to apostolic roots. I don't see any point in looking at Protestant structures.

So follow on questions:

How is the priest for a parish appointed/removed? Do lay people have any say?

Also you didn't cover my question about whether lay people are involved in governance - I mean by right, not just if the priest allows them to help.

Thanks

Offline CDHealy

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Re: Orthodoxy structure at the bottom level?
« Reply #3 on: Sun May 23, 2010 - 06:29:41 »
Each parish has a leadership group, a parish council, sort of an advisory group to the priest.  Bishops appoint priests, and priests serve a parish for life, but may be removed if the bishop sees fit.  Parishes can certainly offer the bishop their input, but to my knowledge they don't vote on a priest or otherwise control the appointment.  Priests have a lot of decision-making authority, and parishes are not run democratically, but that said, our priest takes counsel of his flock and involves them in key decision making.

This is a general description.  Some jurisdictions, such as the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, have historically had parish lay leadership exercising a lot more authority.

That said, however, there is the legal aspect in which the parish council members function as trustees of the parish and have legal authority to write checks, sign contracts, and so forth.

Offline winsome

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Re: Orthodoxy structure at the bottom level?
« Reply #4 on: Sun May 23, 2010 - 06:39:23 »
Thanks for your replies

winsome

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Re: Orthodoxy structure at the bottom level?
« Reply #4 on: Sun May 23, 2010 - 06:39:23 »



Offline AvrilNYC

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Re: Orthodoxy structure at the bottom level?
« Reply #5 on: Sun May 23, 2010 - 10:45:02 »
When it comes to the various Orthodox Churches (remember each Church is autocephalous - completely independent administratively) there's theory and then there's what happens in practice


For example, in theory, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of North-America is appointed by the Patriarch of Constantinople (Bartholomew) and the lay people have no power to veto the appointment (or vote on it).

 But I remember (I live in NYC) how the Greek Orthodox laity in 1999 got their newly appointed Archbishop (Spyridon) recalled because they didn't like him!! The guy was not heretic or a sinner, just politically clumsy and "too conservative". They accused him of being "dogmatic"  How did the lay Greeks got him fired? The wealthy Greeks stopped donating $$$ to the Church. Bartholomew saw that the whole thing is costing $$$ and got him replaced. (Google it, if you don't believe me).

At the local parish level, (in all cases but one - the Cathedral) the lay council hires the priest. The local Orthodox Churches (in NYC) are self-financed and pay a tax to the Archdiocese.

So in North America $$$ talks, and laity has the $$$.
« Last Edit: Sun May 23, 2010 - 11:00:16 by AvrilNYC »

Offline trifecta

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Re: Orthodoxy structure at the bottom level?
« Reply #6 on: Sun May 23, 2010 - 13:59:16 »
Avril,

In history, the laity has always had an important role, even with the appointment of bishops.   Some have even been defrocked, because of demands of the laity.

I was in a RCC parish where the laity did exactly as you claimed the Greeks did above.  Regardless, there is a procedure and the laity are allowed to be heard.

An interesting difference between the RCC and EO is the view of the laity.   Firstly, in the Orthodox church, people are received into the church as priests were in the Old Testaments.
So, in a sense, we are all priests.  Secondly, a Eucharist cannot be served without the laity.  While the priest alone affects transubstantion in the RCC, the laity must be in attendance for there to be a Eucharist in the EO.  It doesn't make a practical difference in the vast majority of cases, but it is at least a theoretical difference.

Offline CDHealy

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Re: Orthodoxy structure at the bottom level?
« Reply #7 on: Sun May 23, 2010 - 14:04:21 »
Avril:

Well, there's truth on both ends of the spectrum.  I would simply say that if money was such a determiner of things in the GOA then Ligonier 94 would have gone forward and we'd have one administratively united hierarchy in America.  But the Phanar clearly wanted something different.

So, yes, influence is influence, but it is never absolute.

Offline winsome

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Re: Orthodoxy structure at the bottom level?
« Reply #8 on: Sun May 23, 2010 - 14:10:33 »

An interesting difference between the RCC and EO is the view of the laity.   Firstly, in the Orthodox church, people are received into the church as priests were in the Old Testaments.
So, in a sense, we are all priests. 

Catholics believe we are baptised into the comon priesthood of all believers.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church
1268 The baptized have become "living stones" to be "built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood." By Baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light." Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.