+Tikhon's Letter to +Herman
April 18, 2006
Great, Good, and Holy Tuesday
His Beatitude, Most Blessed Metropolitan Herman
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Your Beatitude! Most blessed Vladyka and
Anticipating the joy of Holy Pascha and not wishing in any way to dim that joy for any of us during that coming radiant Paschal-tide, I dare to reply to Your Beatitude’s letter (sent to me during the 5th Week of the Tessaracost, the Station of Saint Andrew of Crete, on the day of our Father among the Saints, Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of North America, the Confessor, and on the eve of the Lauds
of the All-Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary) now, during this week of our Savior’s Passion, as we together are enduring our Savior’s betrayal by Judas, His insults, sufferings, crucifixion death upon the Cross, and burial, a betrayal, insults, sufferings, a crucifixion, death and burial, beside which with which it is difficult if not impossible to feel that anything in our own life is comparable or noteworthy. Glory to Jesus Christ!
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. I wrote: “This sad letter, Your Beatitude, is caused by my own personal and ethical concerns with which we must all deal according to Grace and the Holy Gospel.”
It seems that Your Beatitude chose, as is Your Beatitude’s right and privilege, to ignore this forthright expression of my reason for writing to Your Beatitude and persisting in making inquiries into vital matters. However, while acknowledging Your Beatitude’s right to disagree with me, Your Beatitude, I feel there is no warrant whatsoever to impute to me any egregious motives in the writing of that letter, and I feel it is not at all inappropriate to point that out. (I want to emphasize, relying on Your Beatitude’s noble character, these words “any egregious motives.”)
Your Beatitude! I feel it might be easy to confuse a feeling of fear or sense that the future is threatening and a wish to strike out at anyone or anything which appeared to support such feelings of fear or sense with my offer of advice! When I expressed, Your Beatitude, my own fears FOR Your Beatitude – namely, that Your Beatitude’s future is threatened by failing to take one or two of a myriad of possible and sensible actions, that was not ANY threat, Your Beatitude! Surely, Your Beatitude knows the hackneyed cliche: “Don’t shoot the messenger!” Nowhere in my letter is there the slightest indication of MY proceeding with ANY actions whatsoever! Please, Your Beatitude, clear such an illusion from Your Beatitude’s perceptions.
I hope Your Beatitude will not sense any insolence if I point out the obvious: the use of the word ‘threat’ and ‘threaten’ by Monsieur Stokoe and those with him in their Internet headlines is much like the use of headlines we see in the tabloids at supermarket checkout counters. Here’s an example from, as I recall, ‘The Star’: “Mermaid Found in Sardine Can!” That’s what such headlines as “Bishop” or “+Tikhon” threatens Metropolitan or, worse, “+Herman” resemble and what, perhaps, their composers long to attain.
That Your Beatitude would fail to see any forthrightness in what I wrote, but even go on to perceive conspiracy is, frankly, beyond my comprehension, entirely beyond my comprehension. Whence any data or report that could support such a, to me, wild and baseless allegation? That Your Beatitude would ask me (or anyone else born of woman) to produce a canon authorizing me to write Your Beatitude any advice in general or in particular seems to lend an aura of fantasy, or unreality to Your Beatitude’s letter, as if it had sprung from the imagination of a latter-day Lewis Carroll. What canon gave me the right to ask Your Beatitude questions in writing? What canon gives me the right to ask Your Beatitude why Your Beatitude had not replied to grave questions concerning matters I consider urgent and within Your Beatitude’s sphere of responsibility, of stewardship for “the whole Church”, questions previously submitted in the presence of other members of the Holy Synod, questions submitted in writing to Your Beatitude and questions asked of others with full information of Your Beatitude?
I deny that any of my questions submitted to Your Beatitude were in any way “salacious”, as Your Beatitude seems to have judged. Rather, it was the outrageous indulgence of Protodeacon Wheeler’s appeal to the salacious curiosity of a multitude, or of a mob, in his insinuating references to the concept of life style and blackmail, which deserved Your Beatitude’s opprobrium and rebuke! Your Beatitude, of course, as showing the canonical probity of the Holy Synod in choosing one to be first among the members of it, is quite free to act according to Your Beatitude’s will. However, we did not, in the act of electing Your Beatitude, mean to imply that we were electing someone to exercise a forceful “pastoral intervention” if any of us should differ in questions where there is no consensus at all.
I deny that pointing out the experience of Protodeacon Danilchick as an accountant for a world-renowned American economic giant, Exxon or Enron (thereby contrasting his experience and qualifications with the experience of anyone on the staff of the Chancery now and in marked contrast to the experience or background of the Protodeacon Eros Wheeler which was once exaggerated on the internet website run by a Faithful member of another diocese, as “has an accounting background”) is libelous in any respect.
I deny anything egregious or inappropriate, or libelous or insulting in any remark I wrote characterizing the unsolicited and inappropriate advice of Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko. As Your Beatitude generously stooped to remark to me, “Vladyka, in your letter you do bring up various issues worthy of further consideration and for this I thank you,” I, too, dare to remark on what Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko wrote and of his advice for the Holy Synod in general, that there very well may be something worthy of consideration by intelligent and calm heads, but I also regret that he did not show greater consideration for those to whom he addressed those letters by editing them, thinking them over, organizing them in some kind of logical order. I certainly finding nothing shameful, egregious, or requiring retraction in expressing my willingness to prefer the advice of Priest’s wives, i.e., women, in my Diocese to that of any academician of any stature whatsoever outside my Diocese.
Your Beatitude! I pray that this intercourse would be conducted in a spirit of forthrightness and an assumption of good will! I ascribe no ill will or evil intention to any of Your Beatitude’s actions. Your Beatitude! We are contemporaries. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius is another. If Your Beatitude finds it felicitous and showing fraternal concern to encourage me to resign, as it were, “yesterday or sooner, if possible,” as they say, then who am I to say Your Beatitude has anything but concern for a fellow human being in doing so? But I fail to see why such motivation is ruled out when considering my own convictions and concerns for Your Beatitude.
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!
Your Beatitude referred obscurely to dealing ‘more fully’ with many of my alleged ‘baseless charges and insults.’ Now that, Your Beatitude, looks to me like language conforming much more felicitously to a definition of ‘threatening.’
‘Many’ of my baseless charges, Your Beatitude? Does Your Beatitude not consider that it might be just and fair to ask how many of such baseless charges there are and in what way they must be considered to be baseless, that is to specify them? In such police work as is being suggested, there must be a specific charge, that is, one must have, one, a charge related to a specific offense and, two, a specification showing in just what particular way the person charged has behaved which merits the charge.
May I dare to provide a small contradiction to this charge of ‘baselessness?’ I’m sure that Your Beatitude knows of the egregious, unfair, mean, evil and persistent charges that Metropolitan Nikodim of blessed memory and the present Patriarch of Moscow were or are “Generals in the KGB.” The fact that one was the Metropolitan of Leningrad and the other the Patriarch of Moscow could in no way exculpate them in anyone’s eyes from those charges. Only evidence that they were not at the same time fulfilling two functions could make the charges ‘baseless’ in their cases.
What is relatively easy to demonstrate, Your Beatitude, is that it has taken some years to begin to demonstrate what His Eminence, Archbishop Job, and others, advocate so firmly – that is, transparency and accountability. Your Beatitude, the way my mother and father raised me included instilling in me a marked preference for forthrightness to this ‘transparency,, and responsibility to ‘accountability’.
Your Beatitude, since Your Beatitude has indicated Your Beatitude’s opinion that the distribution list on my letter indicates some kind of indiscretion on my part or uncanonical behaviour on my part, it’s my duty to state that I do not agree. Further, I fail to see where, after I have clearly stated the rational basis for every statement of concern expressed in my letter, full of concerns, including the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America, Your Beatitude could communicate to me in a letter marked, ‘personal (sic) and confidential’, distributed to the ill-defined ‘Holy Synod’, that my statements are false and not accepted as anything but canonically criminal acts, requiring retraction and mandating some unnamed future repercussion.
Since the Holy Synod’s spring session is barely a month away, I dare to offer with this letter a suggestion or two for the agenda of that session. The Orthodox Church in America in general, and its “Supreme Canonical Authority”, the Holy Synod, has not, to my knowledge, stated what the Synod AS supreme canonical authority designates as the authoritative collection and edition of the Holy Canons in The Orthodox Church in America. I personally consult the collection, edition, and commentaries of the Serbian Bishop Milasch as published in a final 1912 Russian language Saint Petersburg edition. I know that among, particularly, the unlettered and neophytes in the United States, the collection put forward in English by Apostolos Makrakis under the title ‘Pedalion’ is the most sacred of texts. Others who get along knowing only the language of ethnic Americans, English, may prefer, however, the collection published in the Eerdman’s series: “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers”.
At any rate, in view of what appears to me, Your Beatitude, to be Your Beatitude’s perhaps hurried consulting of some instances with no personal experience of the stewardship of the episcopate and Holy Synod at all, but only the knowledge of the academician, often divorced from ‘real life”, that this matter is rather urgent. His Eminence, Archbishop Peter often expressed his opinion that all the substantial problems facing The Orthodox Church in America today were caused by not being able to act on the basis of informed expertise in the field of canonical economy. I agree. I consider that the lack of our Church’s own English language official edition/collection of the Holy Canons is as serious as the lack of its own English language official edition/collection of the Holy Ordo, or Typicon. I deplore the reluctance of some to consider this a problem or some who would go I hope that I have explained to Your Beatitude’s understanding and satisfaction, which I desire most sincerely and deeply, the real purpose and character of my letter of March 24th. I pray that Your Beatitude will find advisors whom Your Beatitude may trust to put Your Beatitude’s interests and those of the Holy Gospel at the top of their priorities, and not seek first of all to please Your Beatitude in order to achieve ends profitable to themselves or their own ambition.
I ask for Your Beatitude’s holy prayers, especially a prayer that our Lord would deign to bestow His blessings on me and those He has given me. I remain Your Beatitude’s unworthy, but loving, intercessor:
The only ‘call to resign’ was that printed on the Internet in the continuing effort of Mr. Mark Stokoe to put the most detrimental possible ‘spin’ on anything contradicting certain filthy allegations reported by him on his web site. It is a journalistic example of False Witness, from which may God protect us all!
Salacious (from the ‘New Oxford Dictionary of American English’. Oxford University Press. 2001. New York Oxford.): treating sexual matters in an indecent way and typically conveying undue interest in or enjoyment of the subject.
For example, the Protopresbyter lamented the lack of communications between bishops and priests and laity. Surely, my demonstration of trust in the Bishops, the Seminary Deans, and my own elected Diocesan Council is exactly one of the things which responds to that lament?
I believe Your Beatitude’s letter is NOT personal, but, rather official in form, content, and unlimited address list.