Met. Nathanael Does Not Trust His Priests, Indirectly Issues a Counter-Strike Against the Archbishop and Ecumenical Patriarch
The annual celebration of the nativity of our Lord and Savior is traditionally a season for pious Orthodox Christians to reflect upon the joy and divine love that our God gave to his creation through the incarnation of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Like most Metropolitans of the Ecumenical Throne, the Chief Shepherd of the Metropolis of Chicago chose to issue his own encyclical for the Christmas feast. The authors of this website would like to offer a few commentary remarks about how there are a few notes of concern with this latest publication from the Metropolis of Chicago.
We begin by first sharing with our audience the instructions sent to the Chicago Metropolis clergy via email by the Chancellor. In the email (see below), Bishop Timothy of Hexamilion tells the clergy that the clergy are “only to read our Metropolitan’s Encyclical at the conclusion” of Divine Services for Christmas. What does this mean? The Chicago priests are prohibited from reading from the pulpit the Christmas Encyclicals from both Archbishop Elpidophoros and the Ecumenical Patriarch. The timing of this directive is certainly intriguing considering it has been confirmed that Archbishop Elpidophoros is moving away from continuing to have a “Federation of Metropolises” operating within the Archdiocese of America.
Is this a counter-strike by Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago and Bishop Timothy of Hexamilion to show their dominance and unquestionable ecclesiastical superiority within the Metropolis of Chicago? What punishment will Metropolitan Nathanael impose on a priest that chooses to read the Ecumenical Patriarch’s Encyclical from the pulpit following Divine Services?
On the surface this appears to be another petty directive that once again is attempting to make His Eminence feel more important than he actually is in reality. This becomes evident to anyone who actually took the time to read the alarming message from Metropolitan Nathanael’s Christmas Encyclical.
The first page of the Metropolitan Nathanael’s Christmas Encyclical is what anyone would generally expect from a hierarch. It offers a generic message, albeit long, that provides a reason to celebrate this glorious feast of our Lord. It is when the reader enters the second page that the red flags start to appear in larger numbers than at a Chinese Communist parade.
The action of Metropolitan Nathanael’s message is for all of us to “spread hope and healing to the world around us.” This great message has been preached by thousands of clergymen throughout the entire history of the Christian Church. What makes this message unique is that the Chief Shepherd of Chicago connects this action by instructing his flock to not only attend the Sacrament of Confession, but to confess directly with him!
Wait! What? Why?
It seems that Metropolitan Nathanael is deliberating communicating in his 2020 Christmas Encyclical that he does not trust the priests under his omophorion to issue the most appropriate spiritual correction or penance for their spiritual children. But what does Metropolitan Nathanael know about issuing penances?
His Eminence primarily served as a Sunday-only priest prior to his election as a Metropolitan. It is well known that the faithful at the Annunciation parish in Manhattan, New York were so upset with Nathanael’s approach to parish ministry that Archbishop Demetrios had no choice but to reassign Nathanael out of active parish ministry. In fact, Archbishop Demetrios had to issue his own “spiritual correction” and limit Nathanael’s interactions with parishioners and faithful by having him serve in active parish ministry as a part-time/Sunday-only parish priest. A junior priest has more experience serving in full-time parish ministry than Metropolitan Nathanael.
What is truly fascinating is how a Metropolitan of the Ecumenical Throne can be disengaged with the fact that His Eminence is inviting the faithful to contact him personally so he can “discern what is best for your salvation,” despite His Eminence personally doing serious and substantial spiritual damage to many faithful Orthodox Christians during his short tenure as a hierarch. His Eminence speaks a lot about metanoia and the need for his flock to repent while simultaneously refusing to repent for the spiritual lives he has destroyed.
The faithful of Chicago should be very hesitant when trusting ANY clergyman who is actively desiring to hear your confidential confessions, especially if that clergyman is a hierarch.
Read the email reference below.
Sent: December 21, 2020 at 10:07 AM
Subject: [CHI_CL] Metropolitan Nathanael’s Christmas Encyclical
Dear Rev. Fathers
I trust this email finds you and your families well as we prepare for the birth of our Lord in just a few days. Attached you will find His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael’s Christmas Encyclical with instructions below as to how you should disseminate it:
- Read it after the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Liturgies. If you have multiple liturgies, they are to read it at each liturgy.
- Share on your parish’s social media channels.
- Share with your parishioners via the parish email service.
In addition, we will send all clergy the Patriarch’s and the Archbishop’s encyclicals on Tuesday as they have still not been released. When you receive those encyclicals, you may make those available to the parishioners through your social media outlets as well. Please keep in mind that you are only to read our Metropolitan’s Encyclical at the conclusion of your Divine Liturgy Services while the others may be shared and made available to your parishioners through your various outlets.
On behalf of His Eminence, it is our prayer that you and your families share in the joy of the Feast of New Born King. Wishing you well always, I remain,
Bishop Timothy of Hexamilion
Holy Metropolis of Chicago