From the 16th AAC in Seattle
+Jonah To Enter “Evaluation” Program November 14th
Metropolitan Jonah began his Opening Address to the 16th All American Council with an apology and announcement. He stated:
“....These last three years have been the three most difficult years of my life. I have been under a relentless barrage of criticism for most of this time for every forum I am meant to oversee: the chancery officers and staff, the Metropolitan Council and most troubling to me, the Holy Synod of Bishops.
I admit that I have very little experience of administration and it was a risk for the 2008 Council to elect me, the newest and most inexperienced of bishops. I have worked very hard to fulfill your expectations. But this is not an excuse.
These three years have been an administrative disaster. And I need to accept full responsibility for that and for my part in it. I did not understand the depths of the breakdown with the bishops. I thought we had a good working relationship but obviously there is something very broken. I need to regain the confidence of my brother bishops and of many others in leadership positions in our Church. I tell you all here and now that I am deeply sorry for that and I ask your forgiveness.
How to get to the root of this breakdown in trust and repair it, if possible, is the real challenge for me and I am
willing to do whatever is necessary, working in close collaboration with the Holy Synod. As a first step I have agreed to begin a process of discernment that will include a complete evaluation in a program that specializes in assisting clergy, starting the week of November 14th. I have chosen to do this out love for you, the people of the Church, and for my brother bishops
I ask you all for your forgiveness, understanding, patience, prayers and support...”
( You can listen to the full 35 minute speech here. )
The Metropolitan’s address was followed by a brief Response by the Synod, which featured remarks by Bishops Tikhon, Benjamin, Matthias, Melchisedek, and Michael. All the hieararchs thanked +Jonah for his agreement to participate in an evaluation. (The Synod has previously asked and had agreement for an evaluation in February in Santa Fe. Upon leaving Santa Fe, however, the Metropolitan refused.) In the course of answering questions from the floor the bishops later revealed that this time two members of the Synod would participate with the Metropolitan in the evaulation program, without specifying what that would actually mean.
St. Luke’s Institute
While neither the Metropolitan nor Synod members publicly stated where the “evaluation” would take place, sources have indicated that it will take place at the Saint Luke Institute, outside Washington DC, in Silver Spring Maryland. St. Luke’s describes itself as
“... an internationally renowned treatment and education center dedicated to bringing the healing ministry of Christ to Catholic clergy and men and women religious in need.
As a Catholic organization, we understand, respect and value the vocations of those we serve. Our dedicated staff recognizes the unique challenges facing men and women in ministry, and the importance of healthy human formation. We seek healing, recovery and, whenever possible, a return to healthy ministry for those who come to us.
Our professional staff takes an integrated approach to healing that includes psychotherapy, spirituality and physical wellness. Our treatment approach is tailored to the individual and is designed to assist him or her in healing from anxiety, addictions, depression, substance abuse, interpersonal problems, sexual issues or other challenges.”
According to St. Luke’s the evaluation process takes one week.
In other news, the Diocese of the South passed a resolution at their Diocesan Assembly held yesterday advocating the adoption of the $50 assessment for the next Triennium. At the Diocese of the Midwest Assembly, also held yesterday morning, Bishop Matthias spoke out against the reduction, and advocated retention of the current assessment.
The Diocese of the South also advocated withdrawal from the National Council of Churches because "The NCC is a prime leader in the movements du-jour such as interfaith ministry (including preaching and prayer not only with non-Orthodox Christians but also with non-Christian faiths), feminism, and a liberal social agenda." The resolution suggests that the funds currently used to support the NCC be used to support Orthodox groups such as IOCC, instead.
The 16th All American Council continues until Friday.
- Mark Stokoe
(Editor's update: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported the Diocese of the West also passed a resolution advocating the reduced assessment. While the matter was discussed, and a clear preference for a tithing system expressed, no formal resolution was adopted. We regret the error.)