News From Around the OCA
• Syosset, New York
Quoting “informed sources” posters on the Orthodox Forum have reported that Bishop Nikolai Soraich’s lawsuit against the OCA does not just ask for $11 million as previously reported by Court News. (Read that story here.) The controversial former Bishop of Alaska is, in fact, seeking $11 million - as well as an additional $10 million each on three more counts, for a total of $41 million in damages. Among the Bishop’s claims is that he is entitled to a “lifetime salary” from both the OCA and his former Diocese in Alaska.
Although the OCA has still not publicly announced any information on the lawsuit, the matter has already been under discussion by the Synod. The Bishops met most recently at a gathering for the installation of Bishop Alejo as the ruling hierarch of the new Diocese, former Exarchate, of Mexico, on January 18th. A recent posting by the Diocese of the South (www.DOSOCA.org) stated that “All members of the Holy Synod” were “in attendance in Mexico City except for Archbishop Job and Bishop Nikon”. The website went on to explain that: “The Holy Synod will continue their discussions on the OCA strategic plan and other church matters while in Mexico.” In his “Bishop’s Blog” on the Diocese of the West’s website, (www.DOWOCA.org) Bishop Benjamin seemed to confirm that “other church matters” included the lawsuit. “While not all the members of the Holy Synod were present (in Mexico),” the Bishop wrote, “we met daily to discuss important matters ranging from strategic planning to some rather sad developments in Australia.” Bishop Nikolai currently resides in Australia.
The Metropolitan Council, which is charged by Statute to deal with all legal matters regarding the OCA, is scheduled to meet February 18-20 in Syosset.
• Moscow, Russia
In other OCA news, Bishop Benjamin has revealed neither Metropolitan Jonah, nor Archbishop Seraphim, the Secretary of the Synod, will be attending the enthronement of the new Russian Patriarch, Kirill, on February 1, in Moscow. Rather, the Bishop of the West writes: “His Beatitude has asked me and Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia to represent the Orthodox Church in America at the enthronement ...” A Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church selected the new Patriarch today from the three candidates nominated by the Bishop’s Council that met this past weekend. The leading candidate, the church’s interim leader, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, received 97 votes from members of the Bishop’s Council. The two lesser-known candidates chosen were Metropolitan Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk, with 32 votes, and Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk, with 16. Metropolitan Kirill then received more than 500 of the 700 votes of the Local Council.
In what may be seen as a sign of tension ahead of the vote, secular authorities closed access to the religious website www.credo.ru, its deputy editor Vladimir Oivin told the Echo of Moscow radio station on Monday, January 26th. The website is often accused of “muck-racking” for posting stories discussing the Russian Church’s profitable national and international business dealings, including those of then Metropolitan, now Patriarch-elect, Kirill.
• Venice, Florida
The following was recently posted on the website of the Holy Spirit OCA parish in Venice, Florida. Despite Archbishop Dmitri’s repeated assertions that former Chancellor and deposed priest Robert Kondratick is no longer an “employee of the OCA”, the photo clearly shows the paid "Parish Outreach Coordinator”, Kondratick, in cassock, addressing the parish on the Feast of the Synaxis of the Seventy Apostles (January 4, 2009).