Reflections On The Scandal
from Bishop Nikon
My dear brothers and sisters, my sons and daughters. My family of the Diocese of New England.
Reflecting on the recently concluded forty-fourth Assembly of the Diocese of New England, I
am profoundly aware that the Christian life is filled with moments of intense joy and moments of
great tribulation. When Peter, James and John ascended the mountain with our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ, and He was transfigured before them, St. Peter said, ÒLord, it is well that we are
here.Ó St. Peter spoke from his heart, filled with joy, as he beheld Christ in radiant glory
speaking with Moses and Elijah. Like St. Peter, I speak from my heart when I say my heart was
filled with incredible joy as we celebrated the Divine Liturgy together on Saturday morning. It
was one of the most prayerful Liturgies I have experienced as hierarch. Rarely have I felt the
transfiguring love of Christ as powerfully as I did while standing around the Holy Table with
my, sons, my brother clergy, united in prayer with everyone who was present, united in love,
united in the Eucharist, united with one another, united in Christ, so real, so touching, that my
eyes filled with tears, tears of great joy.
However, St. Peter's joy was quickly changed on that Holy Mountain. Similarly, following the
Liturgy, as we continued our heartfelt and intense discussion regarding the proposed resolution
to withhold funds, the mood darkened; and where there had been great joy, there was suddenly
confusion, pain and fear. There was fear on several levels: fear of taking inappropriate action;
fear of taking no action; and fear of grave division as we heard long-respected pastors speak of
withholding from the diocese if the resolution passed. I truly believe that everyone present at the
assembly desired to do God's will; everyone was earnestly looking for a way to help bring
healing to the Church; everyone was searching for a path of light through a dark time. In the
end, our deliberations ended with an almost perfect split of opinion regarding the resolution to
withhold funds. Shortly after the vote, we dismissed, and many people left with heavy hearts.
Hindsight is twenty/twenty, and I believe that even at the late hour, it would have been profitable
for us to continue our discussion, not to re-hash the divisive matter of withholding funds, but to
move the discussion forward, so that we could have come to consensus regarding our shared
desire to build up the Body of Christ, and serve the faithful of the Diocese. While I did not
forbid discussion following the vote, neither did I initiate it, nor did I encourage it, and for this I
ask your forgiveness. It was not good for our Assembly to conclude on such a sad note. The
service of forgiveness was suggested. Why did I not insist on celebrating it? Were we all in a
hurry to get back to our parishes or to run from the pain? Run from the discord? Again I ask for
The Church is family. The clergy and faithful of the diocese of New England are my family.
When the members of my family are hurting, I am hurting.
When on the mountain with Christ, Peter, James and John were overshadowed by a bright cloud
and they heard the voice of God saying, "This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased,
listen to Him." If there is a final message for me and for all of us following our Assembly, it is
this: that we listen to Jesus Christ. Whatever our experience was last weekend, Christ is alive
and active within our Diocese, within our parishes, and within the hearts of each one of us.
There is still much that must be done to restore the precious trust that has been so seriously
damaged in recent months, but while the important work of resolving the scandal takes place, we
are also called to continue our work of ministering to our brothers and sisters. I am not saying
that the scandal should be ignored, for that would be an even greater scandal. The efforts that
have haltingly taken place over the past months must go forward. The resolution of the Diocese
from the 2006 Assembly is still in effect. I have already related the sentiments of our Diocese to
His Beatitude and I shall most certainly convey the same strong sentiments to the Holy Synod
when we meet again. As one of the desert fathers once said, if you sin, the devil rejoices once,
but if you allow the sin to lead you to despair, then the devil rejoices twice. Brothers and sisters,
sons and daughters, the devil has rejoiced once because of the scandal, but he need not rejoice
High on that mountain, Peter, James and John fell on their faces with fear having heard the voice
of God, and having been overwhelmed. Leaving the Assembly on Saturday, I may not have
fallen on my face literally, but I left with a heavy heart, and I know that many of you felt the
same way as well. Christ gives us a word. The same word that he gave to his disciples on that
mountain two thousand years ago, is the word that he gives to his disciples in the Diocese of
New England today: "Rise and have no fear."
Brothers and sisters, in Christ we can rise and
have no fear. In Christ we can rise from the dust of despair and look towards the Author of our
salvation who calls us to follow Him. Where is Christ calling us? Our Assembly clearly
identified the importance of evangelization and parish renewal, along with the need for serious
reflection on the rapidly changing issues of medical bioethics. These are extremely important
matters, and they deserve all of our attention. Furthermore, there is the day-to-day work that we
all do to maintain the ongoing life of the Church. Christ is calling us to follow him, and lead
others to salvation in Him. That work is always before us, and is always essential! It is good
work that we do, and Christ continues to work through us.While there is much that may cause us fear, Christ says to us, "Rise and have no fear."
Be assured that our Metropolitan Council representatives and I will do everything in our power
to uncover the truth about the financial scandal, because only with truth can we find authentic
healing. Be assured that I shall continue to support you in your ministry in any way that I can.
Be assured that I remember you all in my prayers.
It is my prayer that this dark day in our diocese may be transfigured into a bright day in our
diocesan history. Transfigured through our true Christian love for each other.
Brothers and sisters rise and have no fear!
Asking for your forgiveness, and for your prayers,