ALASKAN, OTHER CRISES
• Alaskan Television Reports +Nikolai
On Way to New York
• Alaskan clergy meet: Fr. Oleksa,
Mother Capitolina elected to MC
• Synod Meeting To Be Short
• Monk Silver Claims To Have “Moscow” Tape;
In an interview with KTUU-TV in Anchorage yesterday, Bishop Nikolai confirmed he was travelling to Syosset today. And in a cryptic comment, the Bishop stated that if the “problem” was not solved, it could be taken “to an international level”. The Bishop has already copied previous correspondence with the OCA Synod to both the Patriarch of Moscow and the Ecumenical Patriarch, but it is unclear what role either foreign Church leader could - or would - play in a decision by the OCA to discipline its own Bishop. (Read the TV Report here)
Clergy Meeting in Anchorage
As the Bishop was speaking to the cameras, almost the entire corps of priests and deacons of the Alaskan diocese (41 of 45) were meeting in Anchorage to discuss the situation with OCA Chancellor, Fr. Alexander Garklavs. Reports from the meeting describe it as open and cordial, with Fr. Garklavs taking “a lot of notes”. The Bishop was not present, although his secretary, Ms. Mina Jacobs, spent the first portion of the meeting trying to convince the gathering to invite him. She failed. The only others reported to have spoken in favor of the Bishop’s position - that the events of the last days were “uncanonical”- were the Bishop’s deacon, Panteleimon (Ericson) and his father, Deacon Paul Ericson of Juneau. Fr. Innocent Dresdow of Kodiak who has defended the Bishop in word and deed in the past week, was one of the few clergymen who did not attend the meeting.
(In a similar vein, the Bishop posted on his website earlier this week a letter highly critical of Fr. Garklavs’ mission, written by Mr. Victor Downing of the Kodiak parish. (Read that letter here) Mr. Downing is a member of the Kodiak parish council and was recently appointed to the Board of St. Herman’s Seminary by Bishop Nikolai. This has since been annulled by Metropolitan Herman as the Bishop is on a mandatory “Leave of Absence.”)
Fr. Oleksa's Letter
In addition to speaking with Fr. Garklavs, the clergy elected Fr. Michael Oleksa (Anchorage) and Mother Capitolina ( Protecting Veil of the Theotokos Community - Anchorage) to represent the Diocese at the Metropolitan Council meeting next week. Fr. Oleksa, in acknowleding his election, wrote today:
“I am honored by the unanimous vote of the 41 clergy who attended the gathering called by our national Chancellor, Archpriest Alexander Garklavs, since it represents an expression of support, respect, and acceptance by all the priestly leaders of the Alaskan Orthodox diocese.
I have loved and sought to serve you for nearly 40 years. My writing and teaching pursuits have had as their aim and focus the restoration of the high dignity which the Church, especially through her educational efforts begun by Hieromonk Gideon at Kodiak, St. Innocent at Unalaska, and St. Jacob at Atka and Ikogmiut, enhanced and sustained for over 100 years. So little is known about the multicultural, multi-lingual approach our missionaries developed, which produced literate, well-educated Native leadership for Alaska that lasted well into the later 20th century. My next book, Conflicting Landscapes, tells that heroic story, the story of Alaska Native peoples, through education that embraced their cultures and languages reclaimed control of their lives and their country, producing remarkable political, social and religious leaders. Father Andrew Kashevarov, born at Kodiak, spoke, read and wrote in Alutiiq, Russian, English and Tlingit. He founded the territorial historical museum and library, and was elected to the territorial legislature. But who has learned about him in their Alaskan History classes today?
You see we have work to do to recover and publish our own history. That history then challenges us to begin anew, to envision how we might, in the future, reclaim that legacy and revitalize it. So I ask your pardon, your forgiveness, if my academic efforts have seemed, at any time self-promoting. I have not written the books or offered the courses to become “famous” myself. I am afraid during these last few weeks being well-known has just made it easier for the media to focus on me, as if what is happening in Alaska was somehow my idea, my plot, my design. But you all know the truth: no human being created this groundswell, this phenomenon of the whole church, clergy, laity and hieararchy, speaking with one mind, one heart, one voice. Only the Holy Spirit could have inspired what we have witnessed.
I thank you most sincerely for the gesture of acceptance, respect and confidence you have offered me in this election, and I want to assure you that I will do my best to present, before the National Church, together with our Diocesan Administrator, Fr. Alexander, the issues, concerns and also the contributions and unique gifts of the Alaskan Orthodox Diocese.”
Synod to Meet
The Synod meeting to discuss the Alaskan crisis will be held tomorrow beginning early, at 9 AM, in Syosset. Given that the Metropolitan announced today that he will serve at the 7 PM funeral services for the late Fr. Eugene Vansuch in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, some three hours from Syosset, the meeting must end mid-afternoon.
The "Moscow" Tape
Finally, the monk James Silver, made a claim today that he possessed a copy of the infamous Moscow tape which reportedly shows the former Chancellor of the OCA, Robert Kondratick, demanding charity monies collected for the orphans of Beslan be turned over to him for other uses. Silver’s claim brought an immediate response from former Special Commission member, and current Metropolitan Council member from Western Pennsylvania, Gregg Nescott. In a posting on the Orthodox Forum entitled “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” Nescott challenged Silver:
“We have all suffered through many months of your fervent --- some might say rabid --- writings defending the former chancellor of the OCA. You have been all-knowing, claiming access to all sorts of privileged information to make your case, and loyal to a fault. You have also been consistently devious and disingenuous, seemingly incapable of accepting facts and then telling the truth. You resemble nothing so much as a weather vane, buffeted and spinning in a tropical storm, desperately trying to make your version of the truth fit the facts as they tumble out.
To this point, I have not commented on your posts in the past year, which frankly have become comical in their blind defense of your friend and patron.
My silence ends now.
Monk James, you wrote this today on the Forum, in regard to the former chancellor and Fr. Zacchaeus:
'Especially since I’m privileged to have a copy of the infamous FrRK tape, I’m in a somewhat better informed position to comment on all this, so it might be a good idea for people to pay attention to my contributions to the conversation.'
Well, I’ve seen the infamous RSK tape, too, as did the whole Special Commission, and, while I am not yet free to disclose exactly what was said on that tape, you and I both know that that tape buries RSK. You and I both know that if you show that tape to 1000 people in an auditorium, and show them the piece of paper on which the former chancellor was writing in that tape, 1000 people would agree that RSK was seriously, fatally implicated by that tape. (Which again raises the interesting question of why the members of the Holy Synod who have admitted they saw that tape in 2005 took absolutely no action then against either of the clergy recorded on that tape.* But I digress.)
It is unseemly for any Christian, yet alone a monk, to carry on in this manner, claiming special knowledge you say you have to blunt the arguments of others, while attempting to cloak yourself in the truth, when you are dissembling, plain and simple.
Enough, already. I do not have a copy of the tape.
I never have, and under the continuing confidentiality obligations of the members of the former Special Commission, I couldn’t release it even if I had it.
You, on the other hand, admit that you have it, without saying how it happened to fall into your hands. You brazenly tell us today that it might be a good idea for people to pay attention to your contributions to the conversation simply because you have the tape.
So let’s settle this very easily, Monk James. It’s time to put up, or shut up. You are under no obligations of confidentiality. Send the tape to the moderators of this forum, and let them post it. Or send it to OCANews. Then everyone can watch it and see. Then everyone will know whether or not we should pay any attention to what you have to say. Then the truth can be revealed.
It’s time --- actually, the time has long since passed --- for the lies to end."
Amen. Mr. Nescott. Amen.
- Mark Stokoe
(• Editor’s note: The two clergymen on the tape are Robert Kondratick and Fr. Zacchaeus (Wood). Fr. Zacchaeus is scheduled to speak to the new Special Investigative Committee on Friday.)