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The official OCA press release, posted shortly after 10 PM this evening, was brief, but its message clear: “ Upon instruction of the Holy Synod of Bishops, minutes from the pre-lenten retreat in which they participated February 22-25, 2011 in Santa Fe, NM are now available in PDF format HERE.”

What the 6 pages of Minutes make clear is that Metropolitan Jonah was indeed placed on an official “Leave of Absence” by the Synod last week in Santa Fe, that the Metropolitan agreed to the Leave, and further, the Metropolitan agreed he would abide by this decision of the Bishops.

The Minutes state: “The Holy Synod expressed concern for the Metropolitan’s health. Once again they affirmed their love and concern for him and their earnest desire to see him succeed. After further discussion, the Holy Synod determined that a sixty day Leave of Absence for His Beatitude would be beneficial. Metropolitan Jonah accepted to do so. The Synod asked him to request to do so, as it would be better seen that he acknowledged the need for this. Metropolitan JONAH then requested a Leave Of Absence for not less than 60 days during which time he would see a physician and devote himself to his own spiritual and physical health without concern for the burdens of the primatial office. This could include a time of retreat at a monastery. His Grace Bishop Benjamin asked if he was ready to make this decision or if he needed additional time and the Metropolitan said he did not need more time to make the decision.”

The Minutes continue:

“Bishop TIKHON asked His Beatitude if he needed any time to reflect upon these matters.

Metropolitan JONAH declined and confirmed that he would abide by the counsel of his brothers.”

The Minutes conclude:

"The Holy Synod recommended that it would be best for His Beatitude to begin his leave of absence immediately and allow the Administrator, the Interim Chancellor and the members of the Holy Synod to assume the responsibility for those events.

Metropolitan JONAH agreed to this recommendation.”

That was not to be the case, however, for long. +Jonah's agreement with the Synod's decision lasted as long as it took for him to get to New York.....

- Mark Stokoe


Tomorrow, in Part II of this unfolding story, will report how Metropolitan Jonah sought to undo the Synod's decision both in public, and in private.




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