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+Herman to +Tikhon: Retire Now
+Tikhon to +Herman: Ditto

In a pointed exchange of letters over the past three weeks Metropolitan Herman and Bishop Tikhon have both called on the other to consider immediate retirement.

On April 7, Metropolitan Herman responded to +Tikhon’s letter of March 24th in which the Bishop of the West severely criticized the Metropolitan’s actions in dismissing the Chancellor and launching the Proskauer Rose investigation. (Read +Tikhon’s letter here) The Metropolitan writes: “With profound sadness I received and read your letter dated March 26, 2006, at the conclusion of which you call upon me to resign and/or seek professional help and state that if I do not do either, then I risk being judged by an illegally composed synod of bishops. This letter troubles me deeply, not only personally because of your libelous comments about leading clergy in the Orthodox Church in America, which I will deal with at another opportunity, but more importantly, the nature, the tone, and the essence of your letter.”

Retire Now

The Metropolitan’s letter concludes: “....On many occasions as we have gathered as a Holy Synod of Bishops, you have been asked to refrain from dialoguing on clergy lists and the like. Unfortunately, you have chosen to ignore the sentiments of most of the bishops in this regard.

As the chief shepherd of the Church in America that stretches from New York to California, from Mexico to Canada, and from Texas to Alaska, your father in monasticism, I insist that you retract your letter and offer a request for forgiveness for writing it and uncanonically disseminating it. Your comments about the Church and about me as the primate have been widely circulated. Whether you realize it or not, though your comments have brought much unnecessary pain and public embarrassment to the bishops, clergy and faithful of the Church, your comments have brought an unusual amount of attention to your own acts of disobedience. During the past few weeks, many have suggested to me that for the good of the Church, you be granted retirement. Since you have indicated to me on a number of occasions that you wanted to retire from your responsibilities as a Ruling Bishop, I urge you to consider doing so now.”

+Tikhon Replies

In a reply dated Holy Tuesday, April 18th, Bishop Tikhon denied all of +Herman’s charges. (Read +Tikhon’s reply here) +Tikhon writes: “I deny the truth in Your Beatitude’s reproach that I called upon Your Beatitude to resign, and/or seek professional help and threatened Your Beatitude with ‘being judged by an illegally composed (sic) synod of bishops.’ Your Beatitude! We all, including Your Beatitude, human beings and Orthodox Christians, are daily faced with innumerable choices. Of the innumerable choices which are available to Your Beatitude, one may plainly read that I selected three of them to offer Your Beatitude.”

+Tikhon then reaffirms his earlier suggestion, while refusing to retract his earlier letter: “I recommend, again, that Your Beatitude retire, but I do not feel, nor do I want to express, joy in or anticipation for such retirement---on the contrary. But I feel it would be a betrayal of Your Beatitude and all who love Your Beatitude to withdraw my letter, especially my recommendations!”

+Tikhon’s April 18th reply was disseminated by the Bishop of the West himself in a wide mailing and email posting on Bright Tuesday, April 25th, with copies going to the Holy Synod, past and present; the members of the Diocesan Council of the West; as well as the Deans of the three OCA seminaries. In his cover letter Tikhon explained his “public” reply to the Metropolitan’s “private” letter in following manner:

“(Your) letter had the words ‘personal and confidential’ engraved on its first page. I’ve assumed that the word ‘personal’ indicates that it was a discussion of me personally, and I have no desire to keep anything secret about myself, while the word ‘confidential’, having no formal or even confidential implications in a Church at all, only means to indicate the desirability of discretion on the part of anyone reading it.“

The Bishop justified his broad response by stating: “If, of course, His Beatitude’s letter were personal, in the sense of not being ‘official’, it would have probably been sent to me on personal stationery, maybe even handwritten, and sent to no one else at all, let alone a problematically defined Synod, and I would not have written my reply this way, but also on personal stationery, perhaps in handwriting. This explains, for those who do not have that much actual experience with business and, say, military correspondence and might therefore overestimate the weight of such weighted or fraught words, ‘personal and confidential’, as imposing some kind of negative prohibition on its distribution. Anything labelled ‘personal’ AS such a prohibition or limit could not have, with propriety, been communicated to ANY but two correspondents: the sender and the receiver.”

At the conclusion of the April 25th cover letter, Tikhon writes: “I’ve also included an addendum which in small part duplicates, but in large part supplements the letter (to Metropolitan Herman) in a point-by-point way. I pray that both pieces of the correspondence will be of good use and of benefit to you all, fellow travellers on Christ’s Way and members of one another and of Christ.” (Read the addendum here)

+Tikhon Denies Depression

In a related development, on Holy Saturday, April 22, Tikhon clarified an earlier email posting on Holy Friday April 21st, which was widely misinterpreted. The Bishop wrote: “I am not suffering from clinical depression, because it’s controlled by medicine. I wouldn’t mind anyone at all pointing out to Monsieur Green that he is making it up when he says I’ve ever had suicidal tendencies. I’ve never had such, nor have I claimed to have such. I merely praised Bishop Nikolai for caring enough to check up on me to assure himself that I did not have such tendencies, even though another person may have jumped to that conclusion and, apparently, as it were, left me to die, in order to gossip about me.”

- Mark Stokoe









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