Jerusalem, February 14, 2022
The so-called “Palestinian Orthodox Church” and its leader Ramzi Musallam have nothing to do with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem or any other legally recognized church in the Holy Land or anywhere in the world.
Further, any cleric of the Jerusalem Patriarchate who concelebrates with Musallam or his clerics will face canonical sanctions, the Patriarchate says in a recent statement.
The man who is currently calling himself “Archbishop Metropolitan Melchisdeck,” is trying to implant himself as a supposed bishop in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Birzeit, the Patriarchate warns.
Musallam, who has long been based in Pennsylvania, is known precisely for managing to implant himself within a wide variety of Catholic and Orthodox groups, both canonical and non-canonical, and in countries around the world. He was defrocked after a brief stint in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia six years ago.
Any parishioner who has participated in any services or sacraments of the “Palestinian Orthodox Church” should consult with his Orthodox priest to amend this situation as soon as possible, and any priest who participates in such services will face ecclesiastical court and defrocking, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem warns.
OrthoChristian reported on Musallam in July 2017, when Holy Resurrection Church in Alden Station, PA, formerly of the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, joined his “Palestinian Orthodox Church.”
Musallam seems to have begun his ecclesiastical career in the Polish National Catholic Church, and in 2009 was consecrated Archbishop of the Catholic Church of the East, also known as the Arabic Catholic Church, by a bishop of the so-called Mexican National Catholic Church.
Later that same year he was consecrated again by a bishop of the so-called Society of Pope Leo XIII, David Bell. However, Bell later learned of his previous consecration and pronounced the one he performed ineffective.
In 2010, Musallam applied for admission to the Assyrian Church of the East (Nestorian), but was rejected, though he then claimed to be in communion with them.
After he began to attract funds and purchase several churches in Pennsylvania, both the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Latin Catholic Patriarchate of Jerusalem issued statements that Musallam has nothing to do with the Catholic Church.
Using social media, Musallam was able to grow his group internationally, receiving or establishing communities in the Philippines, Nigeria, Israel, Pakistan, and Colombia.
In 2014, posing as a legitimate Catholic archbishop, he appealed for reception into the Georgian Orthodox Church as an archbishop but was rejected. He then turned his gaze to various Orthodox jurisdictions in America.
In February 2016, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, the First Hierarch of ROCOR, announced that Musallam and his entire jurisdiction of more than 60 priests had been received into ROCOR. The Catholic “archbishop” was received as a layman and ordained to the diaconate and priesthood, taking the name Elias in monasticism.
However, ROCOR later learned that most of Musallam’s communities only existed on paper, and that he himself suffered from moral defects unworthy of an Orthodox clergyman.
In the summer of 2016, Musallam appeared in Greece, where he was consecrated as a “bishop” by the Old Calendarist schismatic “Metropolitan” Angelos (Anastasiou). He was soon awarded the title of “archbishop,” head of the “Palestinian Orthodox Church,” representing Anastasiou’s jurisdiction in America. However, Musallam soon broke ties with Anastasiou and tried to join the schismatic ROCOR under Agafangel of Odessa.
Presently, Musallam’s website of the “Palestinian Orthodox Church of America: Archdiocese of North America and Canada” claims that his jurisdiction received autocephaly on July 24, 2020, from the “Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece.”
Interestingly, Musallam is also the CEO/Director of the ecumenical Flight 93 Memorial Chapel in Friedens, PA.