News From Around the OCA
• Los Angeles, California
The Special Investigative Committee (SIC) held its final series of scheduled interviews this week. Among those appearing were Archimandrite Zaccheaus, Rector of the OCA's representation Church in Moscow. Fr. Zacchaeus appeared together with his lawyer, Mr. Vladimir Berezansky Jr., Esq. You can read Mr. Berezansky's recent letter to the SIC here.
• Syosset, New York
Fr. Eric Tosi has begun his service as the new Secretary of the OCA. A former parish priest in Las Vegas, Fr. Tosi has served as the Chairman of the OCA Missions Department for the past seven years. You can read more about Fr. Tosi here.
Syosset also announced this week a revised schedule for the OCA's Town Halls (read it here) and published notes from the last two (read those here). The next Town Hall will be held tomorrow (July 12) at St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York, with another in Cleveland on July 17th, and a third a week from this Saturday in Bethlehem PA.
• Ottawa, Ontario
Archbishop Seraphim has written an Archpastoral message in the latest edition of the Canadian Archdiocesan magazine, The Canadian Messenger.
In it the Archbishop discusses "our relatively small crisis" in the OCA by writing:
"Our current crisis has had mainly to do with administrative difficulties. Our structure, as an Autocephalous Church, does not yet properly support the way we should be living our ecclesiastical life.
As a result, there is vagueness of responsibility, which allowed for big mistakes to be made, and at the same time, made it difficult for them to be seen until it was far too late. True, the Holy Synod of Bishops is always in the end responsible for everything ' for good, or for bad'.
At the same time, both the Holy Synod of Bishops, and the Metropolitan Council (both of whose specific responsibilities need refinement in the Statute) depend upon the clear presentation of facts, for them to make proper decisions. Both bodies not only had unclear information presented (although it appeared to be clear), but they also lost the needed personal connection with each other. And when questions latterly began to be asked, or even accusations made,
it was difficult for some time to comprehend what needed to be done. One must understand that, at the regular meetings of both the Holy Synod of Bishops, and of the Metropolitan Council, there has been a flood of information being presented through all kinds of reports. When such reports are seen for the first time when they are presented, and with very little time before the next report, few persons have the gift of spiritual, mental, and intellectual acuity to catch things that can be developing problems. Bishops are human beings too, and they often have their limitations. In the end, we have not been able to account for the movement, and destination, of a rather large amount of money. For some of it, recent investigation seems to reveal a bit more."
The Archbishop continued:
"The results of all these very painful events have been both good, and bad. They have been bad in that there developed a rupturing of trust, and of communication, between old friends, relatives, and co-workers ; there have been many fantastic accusations made by one person or another, and against others in authority, based on shadows of fact; and there has been spread the poison of bitterness. As an extension, some began to express doubt that our Orthodox Church in America could survive. They have been positive in that it became clear, at least to an extent, what had happened; that there has been a deep internal examination of our structure, and an extensive repair undertaken in our administration; that there has been put into action repentance - a turning about, a righting of wrongs, a correction of direction. Some of our older, and experienced parishioners have said something to the effect that it is only money, after all, and we never did have much anyway."
The Archbishop concluded his remarks on the scandal with:
"Still, there seems to be remaining forgotten, to some extent. the basic need to turn to Christ first in everything. We have taken many concrete and necessary. steps towards the reform and renewal of our administration. Yet seldom does one see. or hear reported from various meetings, evidence that we are very well remembering the Lord - that it is His Church, that He is in charge. that we are exercising our responsibility in harmony with, and in consultation with Him. It looks as if we are determined to repair things ourselves. Sometimes I hear that references to the Lord, and to the Gospel, and to the Way are not well accepted by participants in some meetings. We are in a phase of blaming someone else, perhaps anyone else. And the worst of it, from my perspective, has been shown in some dark, verbal attacks against our Metropolitan. This is completely against both the Gospel and our Tradition. It can be seen as a kind of spiritual patricide. As a result, we are still in a very dangerous stage of our recovery. Without direct, constant reference to the Lord, and without our deliberately and specifically referring to Him, we are lost. The work of the adversary, the divider, the father-of-lies, is evident amongst us, and it is crucial that we turn away from this, and allow the Lord to heal us."
• Bucharest, Romania
The Romanian Patriarchate corrected its earlier statements by making the following announcement this week:
"The Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate Rejoices in the Progress toward Union of the Two Romanian Orthodox Eparchies in North America
The Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate has received the official decision of the Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas, clarifying the earlier reports on the votes taken by the two Romanian Orthodox Eparchial Congresses. Held from 4-5 July 2008, at the same time as the Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate, the Archdiocesan Congress unanimously approved the work of the Joint Dialogue Commission and authorized it to continue its work, as quickly as possible, to realize the unity of the Romanian Orthodox in North America. According to the same communique, the Archdiocese received official notice from His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel and the Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America that they had similarly approved the work of the Commission and urged it to move forward.
The Romanian Orthodox faithful of North America have been divided for over sixty years, and the Romanian Orthodox Church, as Mother Church, has been constantly concerned and vigilant in assisting a healing of this division. His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel has urged both His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate and His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese to work toward healing the division as quickly as possible. His Beatitude has assured both the total support and cooperation of the Patriarchate in this effort. He has assured them that the Patriarchate's only concern is that the Romanian Orthodox faithful have the spiritual protection and canonical support of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel expressed his joy at this first step toward resolving a decades-long division. He said that the member Hierarchs of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church wished only what was best for the Romanian Orthodox faithful in North America. His Beatitude also expressed the desire of the Romanian Orthodox Church that there be a strong and healthy presence of Orthodoxy in North America, looking forward to that day that all Orthodox Christians in North America would be united in such a way that the witness of Orthodox Christianity would be a vital and transformative presence there."
At the same time the Synod of the Romanian Church announced in its Minutes:
"The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church met from 8-9 July 2008 in working session at the Patriarchal Residence in Bucharest under the Presidency of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel. Among the decisions taken were:
- The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church took joyful note of the decision of the congresses of the two Romanian Orthodox Eparchies in the United States of America and Canada to approve the proposal of the Joint Dialogue Commission, and to authorize this Commission to continue its work toward the realization of the unification of the two eparchies in a single Romanian Orthodox Metropolitanate of North America, in direct canonical and spiritual communion with the Romanian Patriarchate.
- The Holy Synod congratulates the clergy and other delegates of the Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas, headed by His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae, and also, the clergy and other delegates of the Congress of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, headed by His Eminence Archbishop Nathaniel, for this historic decision, and it also expresses its hope that the effort toward legal and administrative unity will be crowned with success."