Week after week, Eastern Orthodox hierarchs guide their flocks through the incense-shrouded rites that define their ancient faith.
Bishops also become experts at another intricate ritual -- banquets.
So Metropolitan Philip, the Antiochian Orthodox archbishop of North America, was not surprised to be asked to make a few remarks at the 2004 Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Church in New York City. He was surprised when Greek Archbishop Demetrios indicated that this was more than a polite request.
"I reminded him that when I speak, I tell it like it is," said Philip.
What happened next caused shock waves that reached all the way to Istanbul, even if the archbishop's words would have seemed mild to outsiders who could not break the Byzantine code.
Philip addressed the delegates as Americans -- not Greeks.Terry Mattingly (www.tmatt.net) teaches at Palm Beach Atlantic University and is senior fellow for journalism at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. He writes this weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service.
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