What can one say about a group of people, who, while clearly in the minority (a fact proved over and over again) have simply decided to behave like vicious squatters who claim what belongs to ALL of US solely for themselves?
The facts are still coming in regarding yesterday's debacle at Prophet Elias. We have refrained from commentary thus far in order to give those involved time to give statements to the authorities and to the Archdiocese.
What is clear is that Father Michael, in refusing for far too many months now to deal with, a) the properly elected lay authorities of this community, and b) in using the Nave as his forum, is continually creating what is evolving into an incendiary and now dangerous situation.
We have asked several people if any can ever recall a priest using the Divine Liturgy and the Antidoron to express his contempt for a community's lay leadership. Despite several historical instances of tensions, no one ever remembers such.
For several weeks now, the minority and former anointed appointed have made it their business to harass any Parish Council member, or anyone who has been vocally against the split, who dares show his or her face AT THEIR OWN CHURCH!
Father Michael's comments to the assembled congregation during the Antidoron have, in effect, incited some of his more ardent supporters, first to ugly and unseemly outbursts during services, and afterward, to violence.
Of course, in the manner of all bullies, the most "ardent" of what is becoming the cult of Fr. Michael, chose to threaten, then assault - physically - a gentleman in his late 80s.
This gentleman has served this community long before most of us were born. He was part of that great generation of immigrants who clung to the church and community as a harbor. He is part of what should be our collective memory as he has, for several decades, chanted during liturgies, holidays, memorial services. Agree with him, or not, NO ONE has the right to tell him not to come to his own church, let alone to threaten or to assault him, or other members of the Parish Council, or anyone else for that matter.
To the Metropolitan, to the Archbishop, and to the Patriarch:
If you cannot understand that your one-sided, top-heavy Uniform Parish Regulations have led to this sorry pass, then woe unto you all!
We have BEGGED you to understand that the clergy you now have here do not lead with a shepherd's love. Instead, they now sow bitterness, hatred, divisiveness. They are directly responsible for pitting us against each other, for dividing families and friends, and for leading with examples of pettiness, greed and arrogance.
Are you all willing to continue with the ugly construct you have created and condoned until your dithering leads to someone being seriously injured or worse?