Wednesday, November 21. 2007
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Message to +Herman, Archbishop of Washington & New York: The continued grousing over diocesan withholding notwithstanding, I continue to personally withhold funds from the OCA, its institutions, and my parish, except for specifically designated items for my parish, and will continue to do so while you hold office as Metropolitan and Archbishop of W&NY. The diocese can be brought to heel by the influence of yourself and your minions, but you're not getting any of my money any more, sir. And that goes for +Nikolai and the Diocese of Alaska, to which I was formerly a contributor, as well. It's a shame what you two gentlemen think you are getting away with; but, you're not getting away with it, not really. Just prolonging the agony of your defeat. And it gives me no pleasure to say it. But, I am holding fast to this pledge. Many other worthy Christian and Orthodox charities are happy to disclose their finances, and to receive my formerly-designated-for-the-OCA funds, too.
#1 C.C. on 2007-11-21 16:15
Can you offer a listing of Orthodox Charities that disclose their finances?
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#1.1 Marty Watt on 2007-11-22 15:24
St Vladimir's Seminary has had annual independent external audits for the past twenty years or so. Please see the following links on the SVS website - the second of which contains the last five years' audits.
In Christ, Deacon Peter
#1.1.1 Protodeacon Peter Danilchick on 2007-11-23 15:34
Thank you, Father Deacon - I believe it is critical that other Orthodox organizations follow St. Vladimir's lead and voluntarily disclose their finances.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#126.96.36.199 Marty Watt on 2007-11-26 15:08
The IOCC files a Form 990 with the IRS which is open to public inspection. Unfortunately the OCMC (which is an agency of SCCOBA) does not have any information about finances on its web site.
#1.1.2 Michael Strelka on 2007-11-25 07:21
Per conversation with Kenny Kidd at OCMC, that agency's financials will be posted on its rebuilt website, effective very early 2008; in the meantime, he is forwarding me the OCMC Annual Report.
Funny thing--he seemed to understand what I was talking about when I told him I was in the OCA, Diocese of the Midwest...Said that transperancy is a goal of OCMC's ministry.
#188.8.131.52 Sdn Henry Shirley--St Herman of Alaska Chapel, West Bend, WI on 2007-11-27 08:23
the Orthodox Christian Women of Michigan's Food Bank ministry is audited every year and the results are made public. 100% of the money that is collected goes for food for the needy
#1.1.3 Anonymous on 2007-11-25 17:56
Count me also as one of those withholding donations to OCA, diocese, and my parish. It's the only tool we have to bring our heirarchs to their senses.
#1.2 Anon on 2007-11-22 20:03
I have been withholding for much longer than this in a totally personal protest. Welcome aboard! Perhaps the time is now right for the message to be shouted loudly: no more incompetence, false piety, haughtiness and criminality in the name of God.
#1.2.1 Anon. on 2007-11-23 21:31
I continue to personally withhold funds from the OCA, its institutions, and my parish, except for specifically designated items for my parish
Count me also as one of those withholding donations to OCA, diocese, and my parish.
Withholding from your own parish only diminishes the work of the Gospel within your own community. It limits the kinds of outreach that can be done, makes it that much harder to service any parish debt (mortgages in particular), and impoverishes your priest and his family. Is this what you really want to accomplish?
I'm a parish priest at a young mission. I had nothing to do with this scandal. No one in the parish had anything to do with the scandal. Why punish them, and, worse, the people around you (who are now going to hear less about Christ than before), for the sake of punishing Syosset? Christ advocated allowing the tares to grow for the sake of the wheat (Matthew 13). Take this to heart.
If you want to advocate withholding of assessments, then raise that issue at the parish council meeting. Otherwise, others' giving will be used to compensate for personal withholding, as the assessments are paid regardless.
There's a right way and a wrong way to deal with this sin. Hurting your local parish certainly isn't the right way.
#1.2.2 Fr Basil Biberdorf on 2007-11-24 06:30
You condemn the withholding of monies used to pay the Central Church Administration (CCA) assessment. Does not each of us have to face Divine Judgment regarding the use of what God has given each of us? Is God going to declare me to be a "good and faithful servant" and ask me to "[e]nter into the joy of your lord" if I continue to knowingly give monies from my limited financial resources for use by those who have (a) proven themselves time and again untrustworthy, and (b) not yet proven that they have truly reformed and are now worthy of trust? (See Matt. 25:14-30.)
Rather than condemn the laity that are trying to follow the New Testament teachings on responsible stewardship, call the hierarchy to task for not following the very clear New Testament teachings regarding their responsibilities. (See John 10:10-14 and 1 Peter 5:1-4.)
Help your flock to find ways to see that you and your family do not bear any additional burden due to the necessary withholding of monies to pay the CCA assessment. Work with the members of your mission parish to find ways to proclaim the "Good News" in The Woodlands and Conroe.
Mark C. Phinney
#184.108.40.206 Mark C. Phinney on 2007-11-25 20:44
You condemn the withholding of monies used to pay the Central Church Administration (CCA) assessment.
I'm not addressing the withholding of monies used to pay the central church assessment. The notes I excerpted communicate that the withholding in question is that of all funds. (Note that, as part of my emphasis on tithing, I rarely speak of the OCA assessment. If people are tithing, the church can send its "tithe" upstream to the diocese and OCA central church administration. Thus, the idea that one person withholds their assessment ends up being a simple reduction in overall giving.)
You ask whether God will declare you to be a "good and faithful servant" if you give when you know that the money is being used inappropriately. The annual $105 per adult member assessment is minuscule compared to what a typical American should be giving to their parish. Fearing the misuse of $105 (which is quite justified), you are suggesting that thousands of dollars of giving should be withheld from your local parish. Undertaken at a large scale, this behavior leads to the inability of the parish to meet its financial obligations quite apart from these assessments, which only makes our current scandal worse.
No, I do not think that such withholding is commensurate with being a "good and faithful servant." That's just a case of the cure being worse than the disease. The withholding of assessments is a matter to be explored collectively, at the parish or diocesan level.
I support those trying to bring an Godly end to this affair. My remarks must not be construed as being in support of the wrongdoing that has taken place in Syosset. We must guard ourselves, though, against using sin as a pretext for still more sin in the name of righteousness.
#220.127.116.11.1 Fr Basil Biberdorf on 2007-11-26 14:29
I am glad to see someone in the Diocese of the South speaking out on the OCA scandal even though I do not agree with your basic premise regarding the assessment. I support two missions in the Carolinas and will continue to give to a capital campaign but no longer to an operating budget that sends money to Syosset.
I certainly understand the problem facing mission churches regarding withheld assessments, but that could be resolved if Abp Dmitri followed the lead of Abp Job. I have been told that Dmitri always thought too much money went to Syosset and too little stayed within the Diocese. If that is true, why not act upon it.
Those who financially support the Church are making a decision to withhold not to punish the Church but to compel change. Who in God's name would continue to give to an organization whose leadership has shown itself so bereft of princple and so lacking in fidelity to the Gospel.
My best to you and your work, which is the lifeblood of our Church.
#18.104.22.168.1.1 Anonymous on 2007-11-28 16:57
*hos·tage*: 1 a: a person held by one party in a conflict as a pledge pending the fulfillment of an agreement b: a person taken by force to secure the taker's demands (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh ed.)
(editor's note: Sorry, Father but I am confused. Who is the hostage to which you are referring? Priests whose positions are held hostage to their payment of the assessment? Parishoners whose membership is held hostage for the same? Or do you mean Syosset by the Midwest? Or, is all the above true, and we have all become hostages, one to another? )
#22.214.171.124.1.1.1 Fr Basil Biberdorf on 2007-11-28 20:58
Why not respect the act of conscience that the parishioner is making and explain to the diocese why that person's assessment won't be available for the time being? Is the parish the conduit or the enforcer? And if an offering isn't freely given, what is it really?
#126.96.36.199 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-11-26 14:41
Our mission parish (and a great many non-mission parishes) has a limited number of volunteers, including the people who maintain the books. Even were I to admit the legitimacy of withholding all giving to the parish for the sake of denying Syosset their assessment (which is what the original thread suggests), it is a bookkeeping headache of the first order to keep track of who is withholding, who isn't, their "balance", etc. Plus, what if some are satisfied and want to stop withholding, while others have some other standard? Withholding at the individual level punishes a lot of people who have nothing to do with this scandal. It's hard enough to find good leaders and volunteers without piling stuff like this on them.
#188.8.131.52.1 Fr Basil Biberdorf on 2007-11-26 22:13
Bless me, Father.
A little over a year ago my wife and I stopped being members of our parish so we wouldn't be counted for Fair Share. But we continued to support our parish. But we have been careful to designate our offerings for things such as vestments or the electricity bill. I think there is a way to cut off off funds to people who are not being good stewards of money without hurting a parish's finances.
But what I noticed is that even this little pullback in support had a negative effect on my soul. Either I am in the Church or I am not. I don't think I can go the way of half measures anymore. I was very encouraged by the recent issue of my diocesan newspaper, especially Bishop Benjamin's words. Today, I talked with the cathedral Dean and my wife and we are going to become members again.
Do I wish all the clergy who directed or participated in all of these wicked deeds would come forward, take off their collars, and live a simple life of repentance? Yes. Are they going to? Not a chance. And God will judge them, or not. I don't know. What I do know is that I am going to do everything I can to get into Heaven. And that means sticking with my bishop, who as far as I can tell, is wrong about how to handle the problems in the OCA Chancery, but who is wrong for the right reasons.
Your post is very sad and depressing.
You and your wife did the right thing a year ago, in contrast to your bishop who has chosen , of his own free will, to become part of the problem. You acknowledge that he is wrong, but are determined to follow him. How does one respond to that kind of logic?
You can not buy your way into heaven or guarantee entry by blindly following any mere man--even, or perhaps, in this day and age, especially, a bishop. The "Fuhrer Principle" is a road map to Hell--not Heaven.
#184.108.40.206.1.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-11-29 09:04
Wow, that was an impactful meeting they had!
Or not. No timetables, no benchmarks.
When MH refuses to spend on audits of the seminaries, will they be withholding or just disgusted?
Again, motions without backbone destined for failure.
You can quote me on this one in another year Mark.
Rather than demanding audits of them, it would have been good to 'clean one room at a time' and to start withholding until a report is released.
Any report fully crediting Fr. Kondratick will not be valid based on the simple heresay presented by retired Bishop Tikhon on this website.
I returned the FOS donation card I received in the mail the other day. Fr. Tassos will have his work cut out for him if they want to regain any trust from me.
I'd like nothing more than a cards out on the table full disclosure so I can remove my name from the petitions and once again respect the hierarchy.
Fr. Garklavs is dead wrong, too. The Catholic church thought it best to not deal with child molesters.
Apparently what has happened in the OCA is far worse.
The only thing I can think of that is worse is murder.
#2 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-11-21 19:35
It seems to me that Fr. Dan's motions were so detailed in their "whereas"es, and so finely crafted, that their intent was to shine light into the darkness. In fact, Fr. Dan reminded me of that proverbial lighthouse, as he stood there clearly enunciating, robustly emphasizing certain words, remaining focused and imperturbable. The popular Gospel song called "The Lighthouse" uses the lighthouse as a metaphor, both for the light of truth and for the Christ who brought it to us. Part of the chorus goes: "I thank God for the Lighthouse who gave my life to me." I think Fr. Dan stood there as a true representative of The Lighthouse, and whether one or another of his resolutions passed or was defeated, was secondary in the long run, as the truth is still the truth, whether or not there are some powers which would keep it covered up. Cate
#2.1 Cate on 2007-11-24 10:23
Father Alexander is certainly right when he says that it is "just not in the nature of the church to discuss every sordid detail in public." But isn't there a higher standard when it comes to the actions of clergy and hierarchs, particularly when their actions (or failure to take action) affect the entire Church, and particularly when they have failed for years to address the issues discreetly, and particularly when they have wrongfully terminated people who tried to do the right thing?
What do the Church Fathers say? Is it ever proper that the misconduct of clergy or hierarchs be exposed? When evil is exposed, what is the proper response?
St. Gregory Diologus (Gregory the Great) says: "The conduct of a prelate ought so far to be superior to the conduct of the people as the life of a shepherd is accustomed to exalt him above the flock. For one whose position is such that the people are called his flock ought anxiously to consider how great a necessity is laid upon him to maintain uprightness."
In a letter to his brother bishop Januarius, St. Gregory wrote: “The preacher of Almighty God, Paul the Apostle, says ‘Rebuke not an elder.’ But this rule of his is to be observed in cases where the fault of an elder does not draw through his example the hearts of the younger into ruin. But when the elder sets an example to the young for their ruin, he is to be smitten with severe rebuke.”
In another letter to the same bishop Januarius, St. Gregory outlined the proper response to accusation of financial mismanagement and embezzlement in the Church: “We have learned also that a certain widow left her substance to the monastery of St. Julian, and that this substance has been plundered by one of your clerks who used to direct the actions of the deceased woman while she lived, and that he now evades making restitution. We therefore exhort thee that, if what is said should prove to be true, you cause him to be constrained by strict proceedings, to the end that he may make haste to restore without diminution the property left to the monastery, and be compelled to give up, even with the loss of his reputation, that which, preserving the purity of his honour, he ought not to have dared to take . . . . We have also been informed that, you having committed the care of your patrimony to certain laymen, they, after having been detected in depredations on your peasants and flight in consequence, both refuse to restore the property which, as not being subject to your control, they indecently retain as though it were in their own power, and also scorn to render you an account of their doings. If this be so, it is fitting that the matter be strictly investigated by you, and the case between them and the peasants of your Church be thoroughly examined. And whatever fraud may be discovered in them let them be compelled to make restitution for with the penalty appointed by the laws.”
When St. Basil the Great believed he has been slandered with false accusation, how did he react? Did he stonewall? Did he accuse his accusers of being agents of Satan? Did he categorically refuse to submit to any inquiry on the matter? On the contrary, he wrote to the Neocaesareans: “But there are bishops; let appeal be made to them. There is a clergy in each of God’s dioceses; let the most eminent be assembled. Let whoso will, speak freely, that I may have to deal with a charge, not a slander. Let my secret wickedness be brought into full view; let me no longer be hated, but admonished as a brother. It is more just that we sinners should be pitied by the blessed and the sinless, than that we should be treated angrily . . . . If, therefore, my gifts are spiritual, he who wishes to judge them must show proof of his own possession of the gift of ‘discerning of spirits.’ If, on the contrary, as he calumniously contends, my gifts are of the wisdom of this world, let him show that he is an adept in this world’s wisdom, and I will submit myself to his verdict. And let no one suppose that I am making excuses to evade the charge. I put it into your hands, dearest brethren, to investigate for yourselves the points alleged against me.”
Several OCA bishops have suggested that the laity needs some special education on the proper use of the internet. I am curious to know how they would ground any such teaching in the writings of the Fathers. Do we really need any new internet-specific teachings? Isn't it sufficient to return to the Fathers and study the teachings we already have?
#3 Robert Wachter on 2007-11-21 21:21
Thank you for those very pertinent historical references!
With respect to your last paragraph on the internet, we need hardly bother to further examine and dissect what clearly is nothing, but yet another attempt, to install more authoritarian control over thought and its expression in the OCA.
It too, can be swept into the ash bin of history.
#3.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-11-23 12:54
The day our bishops think we need teachings on use of the internet is the day they are missing the mark. If they were effect in the teaching of Orthodoxy concerning "The Good News" of Jesus Christ, his Father and the Holy Spirit, then they wouldn't have to be babbling about the internet. The tower of Babel is over. The tree is known by it's fruit.
#3.2 Anonymous on 2007-11-25 07:50
Of course, even if the resolutions are actually not "forgotten" and are read at the Metropolitan Council, they will most likely be simply ignored.
It is a simple fact that fluffy resolutions that have no consequences built into them actually accomplish very little, if anything. We in the OCA are masters of crafting fluffy resolutions.
#4 Name withheld on 2007-11-22 07:49
Where did (+) Theodosius live prior to retirement?
Did the OCA own the property?
If we did, do we still own it?
Is anyone living there now?
#5 Ande on 2007-11-22 17:32
Since today is my name day, I was praying the tropar and kondak for St. Alexander Nevsky and it suddenly struck me (again) how completely appropriate these prayers are in the current climate of the OCA:
Tropar: Tome 4
Christ revealed you, O Blessed Alexander
As a new and glorious worker of wonders;
A man and a prince well pleasing to God
And a divine treasure of the Russian Land.
Today we assemble in faith and love
To glorify the Lord by joyously remembering you.
He granted you the grace of healing,
Therefore entreat Him to strengthen your suffering spiritual children,
And to save all Orthodox Christians.
Kondak: Tone 8
We honor you as a most radiant, spiritual star,
Rising up from the east; going down in the west!
As you enriched the Russian people with good works and miracles,
So now enlighten us who remember you in faith, O Blessed Alexander.
Today as we celebrate your falling asleep, we ask you to beseech the Lord
That He may strengthen his suffering servants and save all Orthodox Christians!
Thanks for letting me share.
A Blessed nameday to all my brothers and sister who carry this name.
#6 Alexander Ivsky on 2007-11-23 07:29
I wonder if the resolution includes the one monastery listed separately as "under the omophorion of the metropolitan?"
Melanie Jula Sakoda
I was present at the EPA assembly, for all sessions. Mark's article is a pretty good representation of some of what went on there. One could nit-pick over a few points, but without adding much to the discussion. Of course, much of the work of the diocese that was discussed was not covered by the article, as would be expected of routine accomplishments. It was clear that the rooms were filled with good men, who work hard and try to serve God and their church. Which makes it all the sadder to see the obstacles they face.
Fr. Alexander Garklavs made much of the fact that he was an invited guest. One might wonder what the real meaning of "invited" is, but it was good to hear Fr. Alexander speak in person. He speaks well, and he says very little. I am sorry to have to report my own opinion, which is that Fr. Alexander speaks out of both sides of his mouth, and he is not bad at switching the subject, either. It is my impression Fr. Alexander would never put a single penny that did not belong to him, into his pocket. And yet when it comes to spoken truth, I think we are still down on the old plantation.
While it was entirely appropriate for Fr. Alexander to answer questions following his talk, I personally believe he was way out of line in jumping in at Saturday's session when new business was being introduced in the form of three resolutions. In my experience as an adult who has both been a guest, and entertained guests, a guest discreetly butts out when family business may come up in his presence.
#8 Cate on 2007-11-24 10:46
could you shed a little light of your own on the exchange between Fr. Dan and the Bishop? It seems like there was a subtext but I am not getting it. Was it your impression that Fr Alexander's comment about the diocese making more of an impact by withdrawing the resolution refelected the Bishop's feelings or was that comment sort of coming out of left field?
#8.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-11-26 14:59
Rachel, I really felt inspired to come home and clean up my room after that two-day meeting, but since there are still papers lying everywhere on the floor in little piles, I am able to dig out what I wrote as this exchange was taking place. To be fair, I wrote down what interested me, and while I was writing, the speaker may have said something else I did not write down, so there is a built-in lack of comprehensiveness in my notes. I will try to respond to what you are asking, although Mark's presentation is a pretty fair summary of what I believe took place.
Was there a subtext? Let's work it out as we go along here...
There is a context, expressed by Fr. Dan this way: He prefaced his third resolution by saying: "I realize this one is not deemed necessary, and I'll preface that based on our discussion with the Chancellor..." (at an earlier time, either during or previous to Friday's session? Fr. Dan rose to ask questions Friday night that none of us was at all able to hear.) Then he went on to say that in his opinion, and perhaps he was speaking for others, maybe for some fellow clergy, "For the sake of those we serve, I think it is necessary for us to say something...So I offer that in this regard: Whereas, etc......"
Immediately, when the resolution had been read, Peter Bohlender talked about the barn door and the cow, and Fr. Dan replied that "People are asking these questions...",
Bishop Tikhon followed, asking "Do you feel like I said this, myself?" There was a certain amount of alertness, energy, whatever, in his question. Fr. Dan sensibly pointed out that, yes, the bishop had already said some of these things, but he had also previously said pretty much what had been covered in the two previous resolutions, both of which had been adopted without there arising any objection on the grounds that the bishop had already said similar things.
Bishop Tikhon went on to say "I agree with your motion, but I also believe it was not necessary...I will take your motion as a recommendation. I'll ask you to withdraw it...(silence)...but you don't have to." Strong, direct gazes were being exchanged during this by Bishop Tikhon and Fr. Dan.
At this point, a delegate from Delaware rose to support the bishop, and immediately Fr. Alexander Garklavs, the new OCA chancellor, interjected : " What we are trying to do is support our bishop, because he has told us these things in his letter" (of September 14, see it on the EPA website), "but also, we run into situations...for instance, both the Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council have passed motions to release the report ...but we can't. Bishop Benjamin, even, in the last issue of The Orthodox Church, said 'we promised this, and we didn't deliver'..." In other words, our hands are tied.
Fr. Alexander then went on to praise our bishop, pointing out Bishop Tikhon's traits of "openness, humility, forthrightness..." (all mostly true) and this is where he told us that the diocese's concerns "would have more impact if we withdraw the resolution." "Let Bishop Tikhon's previous words be the words that represent Eastern Pennsylvania."
To me there seems to be a glaring lack of logic there, and it was at that point that my prior observations, leading to a conclusion that Fr. Alexander was there to keep the lid on, were pretty much confirmed. Is that a subtext? If so, it does not apply only to the third of Fr. Dan's resolutions offered under New Business.
As is obvous, both Fr. Alexander and Bishop Tikhon were on the same page in wanting to make very sure that this resolution did not pass into the record. Perhaps another subtext for the whole discussion lies in the look on both their faces, that pretty much expressed what may have been on Peter Bohlender's mind as well: "Holy cow, are we ever in trouble if this thing passes."
#8.1.1 Cate on 2007-11-27 10:55
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question- somehow jiggling the picture a little bit does help me (I think) to see it better. Interesting that Bishop Tikhon was willing to let his words pass into the record but not the resolution? Have we seen resolutions carry much weught recently?
#220.127.116.11 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-11-27 20:22
For those, like me, who may have trouble finding Bishop +TIKHON's pastoral letter of September 14, 2007, of the diocesan web site, the hyperlink to the letter is
#18.104.22.168 Mark C. Phinney on 2007-11-28 04:56
Have it ever occurred to you are just stupid. Not evil but stupid.
(Editor's note: Yes.)
#9 Vas on 2007-11-24 12:52
After some checking around in history books, I have come to a conclusion.
The present scandal of the OCA is nothing unusual for bishops. In fact, it is so very rare to find a good bishop that if a good bishop exists, he almost always is made a saint after his death. It is so very normal for bishops to be greedy, power grabbing, small-minded people that St John Chrystosom said the road to Hell is paved with the miters of bishops.
So, here's the deal; expect the bishops to be pretty much worthless, that is the 1500 year track record of bishops. If by some quirk of fate you get a good bishop, be thankful and appreciate him but never make the mistake of thinking that is normal.
The history of the Church seems to say that we will never see an end to the scandal, because as we speak some bishop is cooking up another scheme to take something for himself that he should not have. It will take 10 years for his misdeeds to come to light and then there's your next scandal. And so it has gone, and so it will go.
#9.1 George Kruse on 2007-11-26 06:26
When I read that several of the bishops believe that the laity need some special instruction on how to properly use the internet, I knew that it was time to go back to the Church Fathers. George, you are right – scandals like this were not uncommon in the history of the Church. Anyone tempted to despair over the OCA crisis might find comfort by reading how the Fathers addressed these issues in the past.
I am searching for answers to the following types of questions: When a scandal affects the entire church and goes all the way to the top, is it right for the laity to speak out? Is stealing church funds an issue that affects the entire church and should be addressed publicly? Or is it a matter of private confession? When do bishops have the exclusive authority to resolve a church dispute, and when is it proper to submit a dispute to civil authorities? When does a bishop abuse his authority by demanding obedience from his clergy? When is it proper to oppose a bishop, and when is it proper to submit to him?
Although I have not found specific answers to all of these questions, what I have found has been both comforting and eye-opening. I already posted a few excerpts from St. Basil and St. Gregory Dialogus. Here are a few more from St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose and St. Jerome.
St. Jerome on misappropriating church funds: “To wrest a thing from a friend is theft but to cheat the Church is sacrilege. When you have received money to be doled out to the poor, to be cautious or to hesitate while crowds are starving is to be worse than a robber; and to subtract a portion for yourself is to commit a crime of the deepest dye.” (Letter to Nepotian)
St. Jerome on the relationship between the bishop and his clergy: “In your case the bishop combines in himself many titles to your respect. He is at once a monk, a prelate, and an uncle who has before now instructed you in all holy things. This also I say that the bishops should know themselves to be priests not lords. Let them render to the clergy the honour which is their due that the clergy may offer to them the respect which belongs to bishops. There is a witty saying of the orator Domitius which is here to the point: ‘Why am I to recognize you as leader of the Senate when you will not recognize my rights as a private member?’” (Letter to Nepotian)
St. Athanasius on when to oppose a bishop and when to submit to him: “But whereas you have also told me of the monks at Cćsarea, and I have learned from our beloved Dianius that they are vexed, and are opposing our beloved bishop Basil, I am glad you have informed me, and I have pointed out to them what is fitting, namely that as children they should obey their father, and not oppose what he approves. For if he were suspected as touching the truth, they would do well to combat him. But if they are confident, as we all are, that he is a glory to the Church, contending rather on behalf of the truth and teaching those who require it, it is not right to combat such an one, but rather to accept with thanks his good conscience.” (Letter to the Presbyter Palladius)
St. Ambrose on the exclusive right of bishops to resolve doctrinal matters, and the right of civil authorities to resolve disputes: “When have you heard, most gracious Emperor, that laymen gave judgment concerning a bishop in a matter of faith? Are we so prostrate through the flattery of some as to be unmindful of the rights of the priesthood, and do I think that I can entrust to others what God has given me? If a bishop is to be taught by a layman, what will follow? Let the layman argue, and the bishop listen, let the bishop learn of the layman. But undoubtedly, whether we go through the series of the holy Scriptures, or the times of old, who is there who can deny that, in a matter of faith,—in a matter I say of faith,—bishops are wont to judge of Christian emperors, not emperors of bishops.” (Letter to the Emperor Valentinian II)
#9.1.1 Robert Wachter on 2007-11-26 19:21
Just to keep our self-righteousness in check, lets remember that the same could be said about the laity. For the most part we're all rotten apples. Every once in a while you'll find a genuine Christian laymen. In our own time, all of them have been non-Orthodox: Martin Luther King Jr. Cesar Chavez, Gandhi, etc. Its one thing to point out the errors of the heirarchs, its another thing to think we moraly superior to them. It was the publican who left the synagogue justified, don't forget.
#9.1.2 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-11-27 15:45
Bautista, right on!
Your point leads here: ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. and, Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
What we are seeing in all of the news given us on this website is, nobody can do anything to change the OCA. It is what it is for better or worse and that is that. To dwell on it all only hurts yourself because you can believe the bishops do not care one hoot what is said here or what we think. So what to do?
The few people who can do anything at all, will do what they can.
The people who cannot do anything should get back to working on their own salvation. This would include, in my little opinion, praying for the situation. Do we believe prayer is of value, or are we looking for the government to bail us out? "Brother goes to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers" says St. Paul.
Orthodoxy is before all things a religion of truth with a clear view on human nature: it stinks. We need to take care for ourselves that we do not get carried away with the antics of the bishops and find ourselves partakers of other men's sins.
I for one would imagine that everything at Syosset today is squeaky clean, sort of like a junkie who knows the cops are going to raid his apartment and just got finished flushing all his drugs down the toilet. He is not going to bring more contriband into the house while he is expecting the police to show up. The same is probably happening at OCA headquarters. That's good.
The feds may well show up, and all that will happen is the deadwood will be taken out. That is also good.
So we are embarassed by the crap the bishops pull. So what? Isn't it considered OK to be accounted a fool for Christ?
Folks, the majority of us cannot change this so let's not get rabid about it and end up hurting our own souls over it. I'm not saying we should turn a blind eye but just be careful where it leads you. There is a LOT of room for the worst parts of human nature to come out in all of this, know what I mean?
#22.214.171.124 George Kruse on 2007-11-28 04:56
George Kruse said... for one would imagine that everything at Syosset today is squeaky clean, sort of like a junkie who knows the cops are going to raid his apartment and just got finished flushing all his drugs down the toilet.
This is a terrible conclusion. The main actors in this tragedy became aware of the problems in the OCA at least as early as 1999 and certainly knew that they were being watched. Nevertheless, they then proceeded to dig even deeper into the OCA till to wreck even greater havoc on the OCA after 1999 and the obfuscation etc. continues to this day.
#126.96.36.199.1 nicholas skovran on 2007-11-28 10:00
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