Tuesday, August 14. 2007
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We must pray for all of them, the Synod, Bp. Nikolai, Archim. Isidore, Paul, the Diocese of Alaska, and everyone afflicted by this mess. Lord have mercy!
#1 James Morgan on 2007-08-14 14:59
I am deeply relieved to see that the Synod of the OCA has finally begun an investigation as is proper in a case such as this one.
This is good news, maybe now all of this can be put to rest - one way or another!
My spirit being has never been so affected by anything like this ever before... not even close.
I hurt inside, feel empty and numbed, like something has vacuumed the life force right out of me...
At Monks Lagoon I prayed for God's Help and Wisdom for all of us - that we could seek to understand this mystery that abounds us - that we all: laity, clergy, Hierarchs; would humbly seek His Will for us and His Church
#2 Ted P on 2007-08-14 16:07
I hope this investigation leads to the truth, and to the ultimate healing and salvation of all involved persons.
I am curious, though. Are the allegations against Bp. Nikolai, then repudiated by Fr. Isadore, dismissed entirely? It may be out of line, but I'd think Bp. Nikolai would insist on an independent investigation to clear up the issue, particularly since other reports of abuse by him have now been alleged.
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#3 Marty Watt on 2007-08-14 16:17
They forgot to add after this paragraph:
"The investigation will be conducted in accordance with the Statute
of the Orthodox Church in America; the Policies, Standards, and
Procedures of the Orthodox Church in America on Sexual Misconduct;
and the Conflict of Interest portion of Best Practices."
For "the Good of the church" any information and documentation obtained from said investigation will be shared only with +Herman, +Nikolai, Fr. Kucynda, select members of the Holy Synod, and legal counsel deemed sufficiently worthy and loyal. No detailed or summary report(s) of said investigation will ever be released to the OCA at large or posted on any websites. All OCA faithful and clergy are to fully trust the OCA leadership and bishops to do "the right thing" without questioning their decisions or demanding the truth. This is simply a personal matter and you should all mind your own business.
Furthermore, all priests and lay people are discouraged from discussing said investigation either with any priests, bishops, or among themselves while in church or at coffee hour, via email, phone, letters, or posts on renegate Orthodox forums like Yahoo's Orthodox-Forum group and www.ocanews.org. We encourage only silence and prayer on this matter. Please worry about your own sins and stop pointing out the little hiccups in the character and conduct of OCA leaders and the miniscule bumps in the road we're experiencing as we continue building towards a glorious and prosperous OCA.
Sounds like you're applying for the job!
ON a more serious note, I agree with you totally, I must see something real and honest coming out of this to believe that anything has been done to an honest and complete conclusion.
#4.1 Ted P on 2007-08-14 21:35
The brief, well crafted, satire by Chris is welcome comic relief. It covers all the bases, 'please worry about your own sins...' strikes just the right patronizing tone.
Ted's comment about the 'wrong website' prompted me to check the OCA.org. FIVE of the six current postings (Aug 15th) are directly related to the issues at hand. Verdict announced, Special session, Reorganization task force, $90K of 9/11 distributed, and Office of Primate's investigation. (The non-scandal was the Memoriam for Matuska Mahaffey, a talented and beloved person.)
The tide is turning, evidenced by OCA's official website. They have never had such a lineup of scandal related topics; Five hits in six at bats is a good average...the predominace of 'issues' has tipped the balance away from routine announcements.
#4.1.1 J.Murray on 2007-08-15 09:28
AMEN. Best words I've read in a LONG while.
#4.2 Anonymous on 2007-08-15 00:52
What happened to all of the transperancy?
Maybe it's time for all to see that all of this is just a big circle.
These little hiccups are just that. The real issue is a lack of leadership, vision and hope. OCA synod is bankrupt of any real integrity. One does not have to look in the very distant past to realize that. Abp. Job threatens not to pay, things happen. What kind of leadership is that? Why do people continue to support this? Because of these lawless men, many have left the church. There is a lack of confidence in those who are in leadership roles in the OCA. Your financial support allows them to continue saying whatever needs to be said at the time and doing exactly whatever they want to do. Remember what they stated under oath to get their loan?
Nothing has really changed and won't until the PEOPLE speak with their wallets and with their feet.
#4.3 Maria P on 2007-08-15 06:02
"the little hiccups in the character and conduct of OCA leaders and the miniscule bumps in the road we're experiencing as we continue building towards a glorious and prosperous OCA."
You're joking, right? PULEEZE, tell us you are not serious...
On another note. I agree with the poster who said the Alaskan "affair" is the most spiritually disturbing thing I have ever experienced. I am in dispair. If the bishops do not act, and act as true followers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I do not know what I will do....probably start learning Arabic. This is the straw, the last straw.....
May God have mercy on us.
Linda Weir, nobody
#4.4 Linda Weir on 2007-08-15 08:23
Linda, the comments posted were meant to be satire!
The whole situation is tragic and sad. Just know that the OCA is not alone. An honest reading of Church history tells us that we have always confronted issues of this moral magnitude. I had the luxury (and work) of editing a book that provides insight into the politics of the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, and the exchanges made between emperors, Pope Leo, and the patriarchs of Constantinople (Anatolius) among others. Sad as much of it was to behold, it confirmed the nastiness and sin that frequently pervades the Church. Maybe this is why we cry in the liturgy, "*one* is holy, one is the Lord Jesus Christ..."
Or just read how our sister Orthodox Churches endure disgusting and unchristian behavior in places like Ukraine... (Risu is a good source). We are not alone in the struggle...
#4.4.2 Dn. N. Denysenko on 2007-08-15 13:07
I too had to take a hard look at Chris's post! I thought, "this can't be happening!" But then I decided to look back for other posts by him to realize he wrote a satire. He did write the post so well and realistically, and it seems to reflect how some (not all) of the bishops regard how the laity should behave and obey, that I was caught off guard. Your "PULEEZE" was exactly my initial reaction!
Laughing Out Loud....
#4.4.3 LOL on 2007-08-16 10:13
The recent development of a formal investigation as requsted by +Herman into this matter is good news. Let us hope and pray it will be an investigation carried out in a proper and ethical manner upheld by a strong foundation of integrity.
#5 Patty Schellbach on 2007-08-14 19:20
Are Bishop Nikolai and Fr. Isidore to be outside the Diocese of Alaska while the investigation takes place? If not, this investigation is a whitewash.
+Nikolai's intimidation tactics are infamous, his revenge, legendary.
#6 anonymous on 2007-08-14 19:44
Mark - first thanks for the good work and this web sight. I have been fuming about this situation for over a year and still see no end in sight - so I'm venting a bit. Please allow me to indulge myself in a short rant.
I am fed up!!! A widely shared sentiment, I'm sure.
Maybe that's their goal - to chill our faith and drive us from our church. Then they can wallow around in peace. My frustration is with Fr Isidore and Bp Nikolai, the whole Syosset gang and the cast of hundreds turning a blind eye.
I am bewildered as to how such a bunch of inept, unqualified yahoos could ascend to such lofty and responsible positions in our church?
If there is any sanity in the leadership of this church I pray they possess the drive and conviction to stomp out this rampant disfunction and corruption.
Sadily, from my vantage point it looks like half of our Bishops prefer the status quo which is ecclesiastical sucide.
Since there isn't any future for a corrupt, secretive and autocratic organization in our open society, the OCA is rapidly dying on the vine. A good pruning may revive it but there isn't a crew willing to work the vineyard.
The handwriting has been on the wall for a long while and only a few have paid attention.
Perhaps the OCA is another in the long line of blessed opportunities squandered by us mortals.
Lord have mercy! Lord have mercy! Lord have mercy!
Hoping against hope...
Tim Q -
#7 tim q on 2007-08-14 21:03
Your words and those of Linda above, tug at the heart,but I think the latest developments are just symptoms of the illness.The church in this country been bowing down to the pressures to modernise.We've shortened the services, added benches,kowtowed to Masonic and other wordly influences.Changing the calender wasn't enough,we still transfer feasts, even Great Feasts of the Lord, to the nearest Sunday, plus Vesperal Liturgies,mimicing the changes of Vatican II in the RC church.If we've opened to door of the church to the world, should we be surprised by the scandals?It's not just the OCA,either.Old Calnder churches like ROCOR and the Serbs are also part of this.We lament our bishops,but remember, a little more than 40 years ago,St.John of San Francisco lived and walked among us, and not even his own flock listened to him or honored him.All of us have sinned, but's let's remember that the Church has survived scandals since Juda's betreyal. indeed, we only find one disciple at the foot of the Cross.Our Lord assures us that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church, though there is no knowing how many faithful will be found here on earth in the last days.
#7.1 an old Ukrainian on 2007-08-20 18:23
And the wolf shall investigate the cayote who abused the fox who was in the chicken house creating havoc.
And this will be done in an
Orthodox, Legal, manner,
according to Best Practices
and guide lines because the wolf said so???
Of such are fables made.
#8 gerasim on 2007-08-14 21:46
...And WHO is going to investigate the allegations against the Bishop?!?!
#9 MOTHAETHIO on 2007-08-15 08:07
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
#9.1 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2007-08-15 12:02
The question on my mind is- if this is a legal issue in the State of Alaska, why is this allegation not being reported to the authorities? Let the State of Alaska investigate the accusations? Alaska has specific laws regarding sexual harassment. Three months have passed and now we are going to have another investigation by Syosset? Hmmmmmm?
Will Mr. Sidebottom need funds to retain counsel and is there anyway to send funds for this need? Thank you Mark for keeping the news updated. This just has to stop!
#10 Carpathia on 2007-08-15 10:18
Thanks for bringing up this issue Carpathia!
I would be honored to be able to contribute what I could to assist Paul should he need it.
I met him when he first came to Kodiak and found him to be an honest man, one who put others first - after the Church... something I for one cannot say...
Please - someone start a fund for Paul's protection, he's up against some pretty tough characters
#10.1 Ted P on 2007-08-15 16:03
I know personally both Fr. Isadore and Paul Sidebottom. And, although I feel terrible about what has become of Fr. Isidore, I do want to offer my support of Mr. Sidebottom. I want all to know that he is truly, as others have testified, an upstanding person. I pray that someone will offer to him their help and legal council.
Also, one has to wonder why a bishop would make Fr. Isidore a mitred archimandrite, dean of seminary, and chancellor, when he is barely 32 yrs old. I am sure it was more pressure spiritually and mentally than he deserved. Were there not more experienced clergy in the diocese of Alaska?
#10.2 fledgling priest on 2007-08-16 07:56
For anyone who is interested, take another look at the Journals of Father Schmemann; I could be wrong, but it seems that he saw alot of this type of nonsense coming on the horizon, based on his observations of students at the OCA seminaries, fellow clergy, and the overall state of American Orthodoxy. He seemed disheartened and quite frustrated by the type of Orthodoxy that was gaining momemtum at the time (70's and 80's). I don't think his vision of the OCA included all of the corruption, arrogant clericalism, and reduction of the laity to a serf-like state that we see today. Again, I could be reading too much into his words, but they seem crystal clear to me on the dangers he saw for the future...
#11 MOTHAETHIO on 2007-08-15 15:38
Are you insane? What serf-like status for the laity are you talking about? Hell, the Church is being run by bureaucrats and lay functionaries rather than the bishops and priests given us by God.
90% of the people posting out here are anti-clerical bigots, most likely converts and ex-papists, who think they have some "right" to run the Church. I say go back to your heretical ways and allow the truth to come forth.
I see the same things happening to Bishop Nikolai as THEY did to St. Nectarios. THEY means all you anti-clerical heretics under the influence of the evil one. Just go back and continue to destroy the Antiochians and leave us true believers alone.
#11.1 Caron on 2007-08-16 10:18
Attacking all messengers who dare ask for truth and accountability is indeed part of the spiritual cancer destroying the OCA. As evidenced by this post, rather than discuss the issues and focus in on the alleged malfeasance and serious deriliction of sacramental duties of the actors, some folks instead splash mud and hurl insults at anyone who dares to question the authority of those who are accused. With enablers and blind passionate defenders like these it's evident why so many dysfunctional and unethical individuals in the OCA prospered for so long and rose to positions of power and authority.
Caron, if you recall, it was 'the priests and bishops given us by God" that did their considerable best to defame and destroy St. Nectarios, as well as St. John Maximovich. As for the "serf-like mentality", I fear you exemplify it. Remember what St. John Chrysostom said about the paving in Hell. (H'mm...it was priests and bishops given us by God that exiled him. Do you begin to see a pattern here?)
#11.1.2 Scott Walker on 2007-08-16 14:41
I think the first response to your post is evidence of your suspicion.
I think it's worth noting that people like Caron sought to take down 'trouble-makers' like Schmemann, whom many of us now revere for their insight and vision.
#11.2 Rdr. Nilus on 2007-08-16 14:20
Thank you +JOB, on behalf of your diocese, for writing Fr. Paul Kucynda:
"The August 2007, assessment payment of the Central
Church will be remitted after the release to all Church
members of all reports of the special lnvestigation
commission and when the commission renews its unhindered investigation as directed by the Metropolitan
As a faithful donor over the years to the OCA, I want to know what is in these reports and what happened to my donations! I am a "Church member" and would like to have the Metropolitan Council be able to finish its investigation "unhindered."
#12 Patty Schellbach on 2007-08-15 18:34
Amen, amen, amen, Patty! You took the words right out of my mouth.
Thank you, Vladyka JOB--you continue to give us hope.
Most Holy Theotokos, save us!
Holy Job of Pochaev, intercede for your namesake and for us, his flock in the Midwest.
#12.1 Sdn Henry Shirley--St Herman of Alaska Chapel, West Bend, WI on 2007-08-16 09:35
Mothaethio: Are Fr. Alexander's journals available online? If so, can you point us to them? Thanks!
#13 anon on 2007-08-16 09:40
Father Schmemanns journals are not availiable online, but you can purchase them online or from a bookstore:
The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann: 1973-83
Translated by Juliana Schmemann
Saint Vladimir's Seminary Press, $19.95,
And I see there is now a professional Heretic Hunter in our midst; I hope you are wearing a bib to catch the foam, I am sure there is plenty of it...
#14 MOTHAETHIO on 2007-08-16 11:00
Don't we see? The Synod does nothing about Alaska at its meeting -- dismissed as "rumors circulating." A few days later its suddenly all done by letter and phone? The answer is in +Herman's letter to +Nikolai:
"Dear Vladyka, it cannot be overstated that the allegations against Archimandrite Isidore (Britain) and yourself are extraordinarily serious, and now public ."
AH HA! It's now public! Has +Hermie ever done anything right until it was made public? NO!
Has the Synod ever done anything right until it was made public? NO!
Thanks Mark! Our bishops (all of them) want a church of lies, but your site is changing the OCA to a Church of truth.
(Editor's note: I disagree that "our Bishops (all of them)" want a Church of lies. There is no doubt that many, in the past, would have preferred silence to the truth.... But let us give credit where credit is due. An investigation was begun - as it should be - and if not timely, well, it sure didn't take 9 months to get started like the last one did! One can only hope that this one proceeds without the turmoil of the last as well...)
#15 Eddie Kayeti on 2007-08-16 12:09
I am very impressed with the analysis and recommendations of this Orthodox priest who is advocating for integrity and holiness within the Alaska investigation of (apparently both) +NIKOLAI and Fr. Isidore:
"While the report is unsigned, sources confirm to OCANews.org that the author is an active Orthodox priest, who while disclaiming to be either 'a lawyer or psychologist' is, in fact, an accredited counselor, holding multiple degrees in the field, and one who has done extensive pastoral work in domestic violence and substance abuse. And while the author writes the document is not a legally reviewed brief', it was reviewed for the accuracy of the legal claims made in it by two attorneys."
It is this type of immediacy and integrity in problem solving that we need within the entire workings of the OCA to get it right (It appears, however, that his advice was not fully taken. However, an investigation IS underway, which is good).
#16 Patty Schellbach on 2007-08-16 14:04
The OCA seems to specialize in appointing people to important posts who couldn't possibly be taken seriously in ANY other line of work. Fr. Isidore couldn't be a cashier at the corner drugstore with his background. His issues with substance abuse would disqualify him from setting foot inside the pharmacy itself, yet girls in high school often hold that job. Bishop Nikolai wouldn't last five minutes in any other occupation than the one he has. This just points out how useless the very idea of celibate clergy is. It has outlived it's usefulness. If it were gone tomorrow, only the celibates would miss it. They would simply have to get a normal job. By acting normal. Like everyone else.
Someone has pointed out that in the past a fair number of the bishops were *widowers*. It seemed to make for more NORMALCY. Something in very short supply. The continued system of having professional celibates run the Church is like an engineering school with a special course on how to build bridges badly. Designed to fall down. They fall down quite reliably in this organization. Alas, our seminaries have produced the crop we have. This has nothing to do with theology. It has everything to do with stupidity.
A new requirement for admission to seminary should be marriage intentions. Have them, be married (with a few years preferred in the institution) or find another interesting way to serve God. If celibacy is it, fine. We have places called "monasteries" for you to live in. People who live in them do not belong outside of them. Several candidates come to mind.
#17 grumpy layman on 2007-08-16 23:17
it has nothing to do with marriage and celibacy.married people sin too.most mafiosi are married,dedicated family men,yet they lie,cheat,steal and kill.in fact, a married man who also has to support his family needs more money and might be even more tempted.there also have been incidents of sexual misconduct amongst married clergy.but,you also are right when you say that monks should be in the monastery,especially young priestmonks should not be out in a parish.only older and very experienced monastic clergy should be sent to a parish,if needed.sometimes an old celibate priest or monkpriest is the best solution for a poor parish that can't pay a good salary.you cannot generalize in these matters.seminaries should be a lot stricter,with a full cycle of services,so that these boys learn the rubrics(ustav)and to properly serve.basically you are right,but you are wrong if you advocate a married episcopate,because as i stated above,married men can be bad too.someone else made the comment that a married episcopate would isolate the oca from world orthoxy,it would not only isolate but excommunicate the oca.i would never except a married bishop myself.I FIND THIS WEBSITE VERY USEFUL AND INTERESTING,because all these comments give an inside of what some people think.many don't have an orthodox world view.things alot worse have happened in the church over the millenia,yet the church has survived,because the LORD SAID SO,the gates of hell shall not prevail....
#17.1 Anonymous on 2007-08-17 13:49
Anon, I disagree on the topic of married bishops. The point isn't that you can guarantee fewer problems with married men, just that the pool of candidates is vastly larger. The celibate is a hothouse plant, very unusual and hard to maintain. It's rare in the best of cases, and the best of cases is even more scarce. The ones who have the ability and talent for the job are just not around. Or if they are, they like being in a monastery. Where they should be.
There are lots of talented married priests, but as it stands now we eill never be able to use their talnets as bishops unless they are widowed or their wives take the veil. That's even less likely than talented celibates. St. Gregory of Naziansus was the son of a married bishop, St. Paul assumes the Apostles should be allowed to be married tho he was not. The experiment has had centuries to run, the results are in. This is a bad idea, it needs to be changed. Like a spoon for communion is an innovation, the dropping of the Peace in the liturgy, some ideas are new and good.
#18 grumpy layman on 2007-08-20 10:45
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