Tuesday, December 4. 2007
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#1 Stonewall on 2007-12-04 12:08
Again, brilliant, just brilliant! Fr. Berzonsky is truly one of the treasures of the OCA like Fr. Hopko and several others. He voices what is well-known; this Metropolitan must go and the bishop in Alaska must go. These are obvious observations yet, both will try and hang on to their "power" continuing to hurt and destroy the Church. In the early Western church there were the "assassinini" who dealt with these issues. Although we cannot resort to their tactics, both of these bishops must be removed. The OCA needs to move on. Each day that passes with such flawed leadership only helps to destroy the Church.
#2 Anonomouso on 2007-12-04 12:19
Great moral clarity and deeply insightful and wise words from Fr. Berzonsky. The only thing I can say is AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! May God grant him many years for the courage and love he has shown for the Holy Orthodox Church and for all of us who continue to suffer and languish under the shadow of lies, deception, corruption, and coverups.
True to his previous form, Fr. Berzonsky's letter and appeal is eloquent, forceful and spot on in identifying the immediate and critical needs of the OCA.
One can only hope and pray that Archbishop Job will take it to heart and *ACT*. The hour grows late, the time is *NOW*.
#4 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-12-04 13:45
i'm sorry, but why does it seem alot of the dissent is produced by one particular hierarch? it just appears that way, and i'm getting the impression theres alot more i dont know about-thats compelling this effort.
#5 brad on 2007-12-04 14:07
It isn't that Archbishop JOB is producing the dissent: it's just that he appears to be the only heirarch actually listening to the cries of the faithful for truth and justice. Unfortunately the others all seem to be asleep at the wheel.
#5.1 Leaella Shirley on 2007-12-04 16:01
yeah- i get what yr saying.... but, they were saints. how can we compare whats happening now-to the spiritual advancement of the saints you mentioned? money is not spirituality. surely we cant condemn the rest of the hierarchs for their caution.
#5.1.1 brad on 2007-12-05 02:45
To my knowledge, not a single hierarch has made a public case for "caution" or how management of the crisis is an exercise of prudent "caution."
You claim that money is not spirituality. True enough, but the Fathers of the Church have plenty to say about money. St. Jerome taught that stealing against the Church is not merely a private sin to be addressed in confession, but a very serious crime against God's Holy Church. Do our hierarchs see it that way? St. Gregory taught that the proper remedy if someone steals from the church is to seek restitution in the civil courts. Do our hierarchs see it that way? St. Basil taught that when a bishop believes he has been wrongly accused, the proper response is for the bishop to submit to a full hearing, and for the matter to be judged by those most competent to judge (bishops for doctrinal matters, and other competent persons for other matters). Do our hierarchs respond that way?
Are these fair questions to ask? St. Athanasius and St. Gregory say that a bishop is normally entitled to a lot of deference, but a line needs to be drawn when the bishop's actions harm the Church. At that point people do the right thing to speak out. Do you agree with them?
#18.104.22.168 Robert Wachter on 2007-12-05 09:32
Thank you for your diligence in seeking the mind of the fathers in these matters. It is a breath of fresh air and an important "word" to those of us concerned regarding this sad scandal. I would very much appreciate it if you would always provide usable citations when giving examples. It's not that I'm questioning your reliability; rather I (and I am sure others) would like to be able to build on what you have done rather than have to repeat it.
Secondly: fragmented as discussions can get in this venue, perhaps you could start a thread at a moderated forum elsewhere, such as Monachos.net. I don't mean a thread to address the OCA scandal (which is being done elsewhere), but generally to investigate and discuss the patristic attitude toward matters of financial accountability and episcopal malfeasance (that is, in the absence of doctrinal error).
I think these are matters that deserve a dedicated and dispassionate discussion so that we can apply what we have learned to the present crisis in a sober and dispassionate way.
Thank you again.
#22.214.171.124.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2007-12-06 09:28
I think this is a good idea. I would suggest that Mark add a section for Patristic writings, but I know he already has his hands full.
Today I registered at monachos.net, but I do not have posting privileges yet. I have composed the first message in MS Word, but it is a bit long -- 5 pages single spaced, with passages from St. Ignatius, Clement, St. Jerome, St. Gregory Diologus, the Apostolical Canons, Canons from the Synod of Antioch, Canons from the Synod of Grangra, Canons of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, and Canons of the Seventh Ecumenical Council.
It is all very rough, but I think it will be helpful to start collecting in one place relevant excerpts from the Fathers. I will post a link here after I get my posting privileges at monachos.
#126.96.36.199.1.1 Robert Wachter on 2007-12-07 04:24
Please feel free to also email it to me at: email@example.com and I can post it on www.OrthodoxNet.com and have available for everyone to access. It would be helpful to organize them by general topics so they can be easily located and referenced. I would be more than happy to help.
Define "dissent", please.
Was St. Maximus a dissenter?
St. John of Damascus?
I suppose the answer would be "yes", in context. However, in case you haven't noticed, they are the saints of the Church.
Was Christ a dissenter?
Standing up for the truth is Christian behavior. Dissent from the "party line" when the party line is cowardice and lies is Christian behavior. That we have "one particular hierarch" who is taking a consistent public stand is both tragic and wonderful. Tragic that there is only one; wonderful that there IS one.
#5.2 Inga Leonova on 2007-12-04 17:31
Because there is one bishop in the OCA who truly believes in Truth, in honesty, in confession, in repentance, in openness, in accountability. +Job not only believes in these virtues, he actually attempts to live by them, and to lead his flock to do the same.
Do any other bishops come to mind?
#5.3 Name withheld on 2007-12-04 17:52
If by "dissent", you mean a refusal to follow the party line as dictated by His Imperial Majesty, sorry, His Beatitude, Herman, I suppose you could attribute it to the fact that Archbishop Job is graced with (a) a conscience and (b) courage. Several of his colleagues on the Holy Synod appear to be not so encumbered. It makes them superior organization clones and lousy shepherds, lovers of conformity and fearful of boat-rockers. St. John the Forerunner would never make it among this lot, but Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor would find himself at home.
#5.4 Scott Walker on 2007-12-04 17:58
Brad ... read the Scriptures. Who is it who stands alone---those who do good, or those who do evil? Then pick: do you stand with the lone voice crying in the wilderness, or do you trod the path well worn? The end result of the two choices is radically different. Choose, Brad.
#5.5 Anonymous on 2007-12-04 23:34
Well, thank GOD someone in authority dissented in the face of all the rubbish that has been going on. In your eyes the only good people are the ones who lie, cheat, *steal*, and cannot be a moral authority in anything resembling a church?
And it only comes from one bishop because the rest cower in the face of the Metropolitan and his vengefulness. Spineless witnesses to Christ they be. They also cower in the face of blantant Godlessness in Alaska.
#5.6 Anonymous on 2007-12-05 07:31
Fr. Vladimir describes the late Bishop Innocent (Gula) of Alaska as "a recent convert from the Byzantine Catholic Church" at the time of his episcopal election.
If by "recent" Fr. Berzonsky means not baptized at 40 days old, then I suppose that description could be apt. Yes, George Gula--the future Bishop Innocent--was raised in a Byzantine Catholic household, but at some point in the early 1970s (I believe) he became Orthodox, and later went to St. Tikhon's Seminary. Subsequently, he joined the Carpatho-Russian Diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, was ordained to the priesthood by the late Bishop John (Martin), and served in that jurisdiction for many years. He was never a cleric of the Byzantine Catholic Church.
I assume that this slip was just an unintentional mistake made without checking the facts.
#6 David M. Mastroberte on 2007-12-04 14:19
Why did a parishoner in Sitka pronounce "unaxios" at Gula's enthronement? What was his record prior to his assignment as auxillury to Metropolitan Theodosius for Alaska?
#6.1 B.W. Trakas on 2007-12-04 17:45
I was there at the Liturgy for Bp. Innocent's installation. I honestly do not recall anyone exclaiming "anaxaios". If they did, I didn't hear it on my side of the Cathedral.
Bp. Innocent was given an extremely difficult job to do - even more difficult because Syosset did not give him the authority he needed to accomplish things. There were rumored charges before his installation, but none of them was ever proven. Even if those accusations were true, "stealing" the recipe for incense is a much less serious issue than that of sexual misconduct. I found the man to be open to other's ideas, and willing to do what was necessary for the good of the church of Alaska. He had a lot of long ignored "messes" to clean up - which did not make him popular amongst the people who were participants in these "messes".
I wish, especially in this case, that people would base their assertions on FACT, not rumor and innuendo.
#6.1.1 Wendy C. on 2007-12-05 08:56
My goodness-and a big thank you Fr. Vladimir.
What part of Fr. Vladimir's letter do these OCA bishops not get?
How much longer will we drag our mothers and fathers memories through the vile muck that drips from these hierarch's.
#7 Anonymous on 2007-12-04 14:56
Amen, Fr. Vladimir. Regime change is the operative phrase. I add my prayers to yours for suffering Orthodoxy in Alaska and America.
#8 Stephen Schumacher on 2007-12-04 15:55
No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results
No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.
Out with the OLD!!!
#9 Disgusted on 2007-12-04 16:54
Thank you so much, Fr. Vladimir.
Your sincerity truly represents the voice of us Orthodox faithful and clergy who continue to be so very rightfully frustrated at an OCA that seems mired in mess after mess.
I hope +JOB can take courage, wisdom, and strength from your message in his future dealings with +HERMAN, the HS, the MC, and the new Special Investigative Committee (SIC). Let us hope and pray +JOB, if not all of our hierarchs, will be newly encouraged by all that you have said.
#10 Patty Schellbach on 2007-12-04 17:41
THANK YOU Fr. Vladimir for your refreshing honesty. There are so many things that need to be said, things that need to be said for the good of our OCA, and yet so many are hesitant to do so for whatever reason. I should correct myself – I look around me and see these things ARE spoken among clergy and parishioners – but bringing them to the public light is the necessary next step. I must question one of your points however. I do not know if the Romanian Archdiocese is strong or not, but if one were to ask the question it is most probable that the majority of the Archdiocese would not care to stay in the OCA, nor even trouble themselves with caring who or what the OCA is. I am told the only reason they stay is because of Archbp. NATHANIEL, and why does he stay? He too runs his Archdiocese like +H does the OCA. Money, money, money – large amounts spent with no approval. Taking money earmarked for Religious Education, church school materials and other things like that, and using it to pay ever-increasing chancery salaries because he spends the rest of the money on other things like legal cases and building bathrooms – yes, bathrooms: $100,000 bathrooms. And if you dare to speak of forbidden topics – money and certain “morality” issues – you are threatened with being kicked out of the church. The veil of secrecy and cover-ups is there too. These problems extend far beyond New York and Alaska. So I ask you this – if the current OCA/Syosset/Oyster Bay mentality fails what will it mean for the other bishops who operate the same way? Thay must see +H succeed or they too will “fall victim” to good order, morality and honesty – then what will they do? All I can say is GOD BLESS ARCHBISHOP JOB and all those who are trying to save our OCA! Our founders and past hierarchs and clergy would be ashamed – no they ARE ashamed – of what our so called “leadership” has done and is doing to our church. Until we are rid of those who see themselves as American Monarchs we must pray to God to help us.
#11 M. G. on 2007-12-04 18:35
It would be easy for me to drift from the dwindling 27,000 without these tough words from Fr. B, and the tough words from Fr. Ted and Fr. Hopko and Frs. Wojcik.
If the hiearchy is without sin, perhaps they need to join Western Catholicism. A lot of fog for twinkle toes, don't you think?
Practice what you preach, or don't preach.
Thanks to you good priests.
Another question that should be investigated is what has happened to the numbers of members of the OCA over the last 20 years. This should be a question at the next AAC. Establishing this baseline is important as the scandal has people in the fray leaving.
#12 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-12-04 19:29
I just read the Akathist of Thanksgiving that was written by the martyred priest Gregory Petroff, who perished in the Gulag in 1942. The Akathuist was written while Father Gregory was in prison, yet it contains most beautiful and hopeful prayers.
Kontakion 5 may be particularly relevant:
"The storms of life are not frightening to one in whose heart shines the light of Your Fire. All around the weather is bad; there is darkness, horror, and the howling wind. But in the soul of such a one there is peace and light. Christ is there! And the heart sings: Alleluia!"
Take heart, Archbishop Job and all of you who struggle to save the soul of the Church, for Christ is indeed there and with Him all things are possible.
#13 Carl on 2007-12-04 19:35
Sorry, I forgot to include the Internet link to the Akathist of Thanksgiving by Father Gregory Petrov:
#14 Carl on 2007-12-04 19:45
I am so proud of you and your brave voice for the truth behind the horrific scandal and crisis in which we all are engulfed. Your letter of support and encouragement to Archbishop Job, and the prophetic power it carries, has touched me deeply. The attempt to deny and hide the truth at all costs wounds and sickens us, and it is worse than any secular or political dictatorship from which, also, many have suffered even with their lives. Not only is what transpired over the past decade or so, and the culture it produced, Godless and heartbreaking, but the silence or rather complicity of our bishops to date all the more scandalous. I am also saddened by our impotence as brother priests and deacons, and even more by those who support the status-quo coverups and silence. I have spoken from the heart openly and publicly with the clergy of my new Diocese and Deanery and with our Bishop Nikon. Yet I am guilty of personally not doing more. Your brave words, dear Father Vladimir, inspire me, and I hope many others, to join our voices with yours openly and with resolve that together we can be heard in our call for truth and honesty. Thank you.
Archpriest Michael G. Roshak
Three Saints Church, Ansonia CT
#15 Archpriest Michael G. Roshak on 2007-12-04 20:07
This day you have pierced with joy the hearts of many Alaskan Orthodox people through your courageous affirmation of loving Christ and His people by imploring immediate ACTION to save our Church in America before it is too late. You have clearly identified the depth of spiritual pain so many of us in Alaska have dealt with to the best of each of our abilities from the exhaustion of 13 years of dysfunction and tyranny by Bishops Innocent (Gula) and Nikolai. Yes, we pray to God He will send us a Worthy Bishop possessing the love, devotion, wisdom and stamina of a TRUE Shepherd whom we will joyously embrace and follow. Thank you, Father Vladimir, we send our love to you and to all who remember the Alaskan Orthodox people in their prayers, along with their hopes and prayers for critical and sufficient change in our Church as a whole. Your letter of appeal to Vladyo Job is profoundly timely and justified. God keep us all through these hard times. Glory be to Him.
#16 Alaskan Orthodox on 2007-12-05 03:21
Out here in the middle of the Pacific, it sometimes takes a while before we know what is happening. I have been following this whole mess for a few months now.
But I think I must be missing something. I hear in the comments of so many people not anger, not self-righteousness, but nearly unbearable pain. Where is the Christ-like concern and compassion of our hierarchs for those who are hurting because of what they (the hierarchs) have done/have not done?
Our autocephaly gave us the chance and the hope that we might become truly the Orthodox Church in America. It looks to me like we have blown it all over the landscape. I could be wrong, I hope I am.
It is a time for difficult decisions for all of us. May Our Lord lead us. Perhaps this suffering will yet be our "martyria," our witness, the blood that nourishes our Church and our Faith.
Fr Berzonsky's moving and eloquent words give me hope that it may be so.
#17 John C. Belt on 2007-12-05 03:31
Wow! So, at least one member of the clergy in the OCA truly understands what is going on, and what must be done.
Now, if only it would be done!
I continue to believe, however, that these to men, both of whom seem to be arrogant beyond understanding, +H and +N, will continue to "hold on" as long as possible, and that the only way to enforce the necessary action of resignation, retirement, or deposition, is to withhold all monies from their hands. So, to the Holy Synod, to SVS, to SHS, the Diocese of Alaska, and anyone else who cares to hear: NO MORE MONEY. NO MORE FUEL TO THE FIRES THESE UNETHICAL MEN HAVE STARTED. As long as either of these individuals is in charge, on the Board, overseers, etc, I will provide no further funding to them, or to any organization associated with them. No more.
And, AAC delegates: How about term limits for the Bishops and Hierarchs from now on? Seven years? Five years? Lifetime appointments breeds arrogance and corruption. A little humility would be in order.
#18 C.C. on 2007-12-05 05:59
Another wonderful post on this website. Another small voice in the wilderness offers some great advice. My only question is: when MH is removed, who will replace him?
#19 Greg Cipkins on 2007-12-05 06:40
Here is some "food" for thought. How about replacing Metropolitan Herman with Metropolitan Philip and combining the two jurisdictions.
That's one way to move forward and save our independence while enhancing it.
#19.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-12-05 13:18
I am all for unity (see my earlier posts). But re-read Fr Berzonsky's letter, Kenneth. Our autocephaly is a very, very precious commodity, and I wouldn't be in favor of relinquishing it, even for the sake of unity.
#19.1.1 Michael Strelka on 2007-12-07 06:49
I am certainly not advocating relinquishing the OCA's autocephaly under any circumstances!
We just "elect" Metropolitan Philip as our Metropolitan and begin the process of integrating the two jurisdictions in a manner that ultimately leads to full union. This would be a huge step towards creating a "true" independent and autocephalous North American Church that is inclusive, rather than primarily ethnic, reflecting the "melting pot" which is America, and the catholic (i.e. universal) nature of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
I have no idea if Metropolitan Philip would be receptive to this proposal, but he is now the foremost spokesman for North American Orthodox unity and a bishop worthy of his office. Perhaps I have misunderstood Fr. Bersonsky, but I see this as entirely consistent with his vision and reference to the Romanian element in our jurisdiction.
Surely pride should not stand in the way of any solution that addresses and resolves our problems.
#188.8.131.52 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-12-07 13:19
"Surely pride would not stand in the way..."
Let's hope and pray that it wouldn't stand in the way!
The Bible says that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that in due time you [North American Orthodoxy] may be exalted, casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you... 1Peter 5:6,7
#184.108.40.206.1 Karen Jermyn on 2007-12-07 14:57
A novel idea indeed. The only problem is that +MP is in poor health and we have no idea who will be the AOC's next Metropolitan and what he will be like.
#220.127.116.11.2 Michael Strelka on 2007-12-07 16:03
Everyone reading here throughout the past months must come to the same conclusion; there is something wrong with how the OCA works. Yes, people are being replaced in many positions, but THE HIERARCHY, this is where the problems are. The OCA statutes have no provisions for removing hierarchs or disciplining them. It is regarded that they will discipline each other. And the only way to finally remove them is via their retirement with full pensions when they themselves agree. Only now all the damage is coming to light of what was done in the diocese of the West for years. We have people revamping the OCA headquarters demanding ACCOUNTABILITY and reviews of those there on a yearly basis. What about each hierarch being reviewed? Where is the independent panel of priests, lay people and bishops to review them? To review the Metropolitan? Really, it's time to amend the OCA statutes whether the hierarchs agree or not.
#20 Anonymouso on 2007-12-05 08:13
This is for all the Anonymous, name withheld, digusted etc...........
Until Orthodox Christians are willing to say what they believe openly and honestly, nothing will change. I personally don't read anything from people who do not sign their names.
I believe as Christians, we are called to be more and do more.
Is it worth holding on to our position and our status in the community if we can't even speak the truth and sign our own name?
You of all people should be more understanding re. anonymity. There are many reasons for it. You cannot possibly grasp (or judge) them all. I have always applauded your boldness and the work of Pokrov. In fact, if the truth be told, you probably owe me more thanks than you will ever know. So I urge you to suspend judgment. You don't walk in other's shoes.
#20.1.1 Anon. on 2007-12-07 18:06
The lack of accountability structures in the OCA that you rightly highlight were identified... and quashed, at the Administrative Summit and Task Force in the early '90's. However, there were too many funds yet to be absconded to be concerned about trust and accountability, then and still now, it seems. If the laity do not rise up and DEMAND accountability, then nothing will happen and the deck chairs will simply be rearranged on the Titanic. Without funds, the current misfits will perish.
#20.2 Anon. on 2007-12-05 21:50
DEARLY beloved Orthodox Christians! Father Berzonsky letter to Bishop Job reminds me of someone building a mountain out of a mole hill! Its a shame all of you are concern about "Money" and dont forget to stone that person to death who took it! Father Berzonsky along with bishop job want power! You wont hear them talk about prayer anymore! its now all about scandals, embezzlement! shame! Shame! What has destroyed the spirit of the church? THE GOSSIP ON THIS WEBSITE THAT fR Berzonsky and Bishop Job endorse! a good example of this is when someone called the Met the "DEVIL" do I hear anyone of these people speaking out! God borbid if they did that! one can only assume that they support this type of behavior! This website has done more harm than good! and that is a fact!!! Lets pray that these two people, along with many others see the light! and the light isnt money its "PRAYER" your brother in Christ!
#21 Anonymous on 2007-12-05 10:19
Anonymous, you sound a great deal like the anonymous on another thread, strangly obsessed with the idea that those brave souls like Archbishop Job and Fr. Vladimir are concerned about power rather than the good of Christ's Church. Are you familiar with the psychological idea of projection, where one takes one's own flaws and attributes them to others? By doing so, one spares one's ego the pain of facing one's own faults, and gets to bask in the joy of accusing others. Your angry and emotional outbursts reek of projection. Consider another rhetorical tack, as what you are doing doesn't work.
#21.1 Scott Walker on 2007-12-05 19:57
Please don't make up something, especially about a priest, in an effort to disagree with points he is making. Although I'm not within the OCA, being within the GOA Metropolis of Pittsburgh, I have known Fr. Vladimir for over -35- years. All Orthodox Christians in Greater Cleveland know him as a dediated leader of our pan-Orthdox community. He's had a very successful long term tenure with the parish to which he is assigned. He exhibits Christian humility, preaches and teaches the message of Christ, is exceptionally intelligent and knowledgable about our Faith and many more disciplines. Most of all, he's an icon of Christ, through his Bishop. He certainly is a man of prayer. If you look at his report to the Midwest Diocese assembly, you'll see that he proposed a traditional service of repentence and prayer before the commencement of the AAC. May God continue to bless him and his service to our Holy Church.
#21.2 B.W. Trakas on 2007-12-05 21:33
I fear you misread personal courage and willingness to step forward and confront corruption in high places as grasping for power...Neither Abp Job nor Fr Vladimir is power-driven; the genuine article when searching for someone clutching at every shred of available power may be found residing/squatting in South Canaan, PA.
I take issue with your characterization of this website as a gossip-mill. While Mark posts emotional, and, at times, overwrought messages, such as yours, he has shown himself quite willing to check facts, admit errors, and make both corrections and apologies when called for--actions and attitudes apparently foreign to the mindset of our reigning Primate and those with whom he surrounds himself.
You are correct--it's not about the money; it's about the culture of deceit and cover-up which has enabled MILLIONS to go missing and no accounting to the faithful, long-suffering People of God regarding the fate of their widow's mites given in good faith.
Yes, PRAY! Prayer prompts action.
PS: I sign my name; what about you?
#21.3 Sdn Henry Shirley--St Herman of Alaska Chapel, West Bend, WI on 2007-12-06 09:18
So this website has done more harm than good, and that is the "FACT". Why don't we look at the facts. First and foremost, and I know it's only money, but there are millions of dollars missing from the OCA (And we are now in debt for almost 2 million) FACT!!!!!!!!!!. Second, there is total chaos in Syosset starting with the firing of the chancellor and continuing on to the release of many others. FACT!!!!!!!! Third, we have many, many, senior clergy speaking out (including Fr. B and +Job) against the regime in Syosset and very, very, few senior clergy defending them. FACT!!!!!!!!!!. Those 3 facts alone tell me to never stop fighting for the truth. There are individuals responsible for this mess and if we do not find out the truth and the identities of these criminals, the same problems will persist.
And, by the way, these two people have seen the light, and
in this case, the light includes the truth. My prayer is for you Mr. Anonymous, who refuses to hear the FACTS.
#21.4 Bob Kovalak on 2007-12-06 13:50
"You wont hear them talk about prayer anymore! "
Sorry anonymous, you're wrong again! You're tired rambling lacks credibility (among other things).
It's ironic that I had the pleasure of meeting Archbishop Job a few weeks ago in Chicago. I had never met him in person before, and I'm not sure my operating on a couple of hours of sleep was wise, but I really seem to remember him saying something about prayer.
I asked the Archbishop, what we could do for him and the Diocese of the Midwest. His answer, "Prayer! Prayer for the Diocese and prayer for the OCA". I said yes, my family continues to pray that Our Lord will have mercy on us and lead us out of this crisis, but I asked again, that I beleive there are many outside the DOM who would like to help. His answer, "We need everyone to pray fervently!".
I had to again clearly re-phrase and re-state my intended question to ask how we could monetarily assist the DOM before the Archbishop considered the financial aspect. I think he was actually surprised and gave a somewhat generic response. I left our 5-10 minute chance meeting somewhat disappointed. However, now reflecting, it was clear that Archbishop Job was not focused on money as you state. No, the focus of the Archbishop of the Midwest is on the health of his Diocese and the health of the OCA.
Thank you for reminding me of this meeting and allowing me to reflect on what is truly important.
#21.5 Ken Kozak on 2007-12-06 21:24
In looking at the desperate situation in the OCA I was reminded by this quote from Mere Christianity written by C.S. Lewis:
"In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth -- only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair."
If only +Herman and the Holy Synod would see and understand this simply truth and the dire consequences and implications of hiding the truth and forsaking full accountability and repentance.
Dear ocanews.org readers,
I'm finding that I have a different feeling about the future than most. I may change my mind here after a bit , but, from the perspective of an outside observer, I'm feeling optimistic. For those of you that have tried for years to get the truth revealed, I sympathize with your intense frustration. You have not labored in vain though; people are waking up.
Folks are starting to discuss the AAC, but I think the next crucial moment is the December 13th meeting of the Holy Synod. December 13th should be the next day of prayer and fasting. It's the Feast Day of St. Herman!! What concerns me is the tendency to lump all the hierarchs together, save + Job. I don't perceive that the Holy Synod as a whole is “corrupt”. Half of the Bishops have been consecrated only in the last 5 years. I have read recent statements from +Job, +Benjamin, +Nikon, +Seraphim, +Dimitri, and +Tikhon that show grace-filled hearts and Christ-like concern. Even if a bishop is not going the way of withholding – it doesn't mean that they are not seeking accountability. I'm guessing that they would appreciate our support. It is not an easy task to stand up to the status quo if you're new on the team, particularly if your heart is big. It makes sense that Archbishop Job would take the lead because he has been a bishop for 25 years, and can say unequivocally, “enough is enough.”
The hot-headed on both sides shout for deposition; whatever happened to the concept of sabbatical or retreat? If a leader has troubles, why not (lovingly but adamantly) send him to a monastery to live for an extended period of time in obedience to an abbot. It might do a world of good. All the world needs now is humility, sweet humility? We're up against not a difference in leadership style but rather a difference in mentality – not an easy fix that a couple of seminars will take care of. If you trust your bishop, support him with prayers and letters, so that he will have the wherewithal to figure out the right thing to do at the upcoming meeting. Already it seems clear, based on the minutes of the HS's October meeting, that meeting time on December 13th will be spent formulating a statement regarding proper Internet use, determining the consequences for dioceses that withhold, considering +Nikolai's request for a revision of the Best Practices document, and making a decision regarding the Kondratick appeal. My hope is that more bishops will have the courage with our support to ask before the meeting is adjourned: “what is really going on here?!” The problem is not Internet misuse, withholding assessments, or a band of self-righteous and rebellious malcontents that are trying to commandeer rightful hierarchical authority. It's a cop-out or worse...a ruse... to place blame on those things. Can there be an observer at the meeting that can assess the dynamics at play? Do some of the bishops try to intimidate the others? I don't know.
Furthermore, the MC needs our support and the new SIC, as well. Every roadblock that has been encountered has opened up a new doorway. Looking in from the outside, it's clear that the work of the original SIC was not wasted. The resignations of + Job and the others served to heighten awareness of the issues to yet more dioceses and parishes. Remember, + Benjamin stated that he would also resign if the investigation was hindered in any way. I believe him and care about him -- he's my bishop.
Although I understand the feelings of helplessness and trust betrayed, am inspired by the faith and devotion expressed on this website, and think the “Internet” has been a catalyst for communication and unity, let's now rally behind those, as Fr. Vladimir has done, that have the authority to make the crucial decisions. My heart says that all impropriety will be unearthed and that the OCA (and the Holy Synod) will have new life breathed into it. Holy Spirit, please come!
Jodie (Joanna) Captein
Church of the Annunciation
#23 Jodie Captein on 2007-12-05 13:36
I received a long and anonymous spammish e-mail yesterday complaining that the OCA website hasn't posted jpgs of Archbishop Peter's funeral. Apparently, there are pics of his internment at St. Tikhon's on the seminary website in what was described in the e-mail as "Pharaoh Herman's Pyramid" I don't care about the pics or the late regretted Archbishop, as far as I'm concerned these bishops are all the same in the OCA. As amusing as all this is though, I have a question, maybe someone can answer it.
Is there anything at all, anything that is important to the current administration other than CYA?
#24 Anonymous on 2007-12-05 18:36
There's nothing amusing about this. At all.
#24.1 Anonymous on 2007-12-06 05:53
It is totally amusing. You know why, because 19k people (and that is an optimistic estimate of the actual number of oca membership) are being held hostage .... Look, out of those that feel strongly less than 2k have signed the MD petition. Only Stokoe has really put his xxx on the line, the rest of us are just shouting from the sidelines. We are the gutless downtrodden majority.
#24.1.1 mike on 2007-12-06 10:36
The you be amused w/ the heinous humor of hell. The rest of us will cry, pray and/or fight, as we are moved in accordance with our abilities.
#18.104.22.168 Not laughing. on 2007-12-06 15:35
Yes. (1) Their own power, backed by (2) a continuing flow of money from the around the country.
And yet, you get people posting onto this site that it's the Website that is somehow "evil" and malicious! Sure. Just keep sending those checks to +H; he'll find a good use for the money; just don't ask what it is.
#24.2 C.C. on 2007-12-06 08:32
A Fan Letter for +Job
I am a twenty four year old Orthodox Christian. While some might call me young, the people of my generation have lived through a considerate amount of tribulation: sexual scandals plaguing other churches, financial scandals plaguing corporate America… scandals in government... scandals in schools. And now, scandal in MY church? For many years as I watched the news with my jaw on the floor, I said to myself ‘I am glad this isn’t my church.’ Perhaps it was naïve at the time to think that the sin of man could not infiltrate our holy community, but even now, after more than a year of reading about the issues in the OCA, I can’t help but to feel like a 15 year old again, reading in disbelief with my jaw on the floor.
It has only been in the last few years that I have felt personally connected to my faith. Growing up, I went to church to see cute boys, and got excited about holidays because of the fun, once-a-year Russian food. Not exactly what I would now describe as deep spiritual understanding, but it was all those years that have led me to where I am now. My great grandparents left Russia and came to America; they were hard working immigrants, who felt deeply and passionately about their freedom to worship as they wanted. I have never experienced this kind of persecution for my faith, but it has been through this scandal that I have been angered, upset and feel that it is ESPECIALLY on their behalf I need my voice to be heard.
I will be the first to admit that I have not read all of the details of the scandal plaguing the Orthodox Church in America right now. I don’t spend hours a day perusing the comments (although well written) to see what people around the country are thinking and feeling. BUT… I have read enough to know that it has not been what events transpired during/after the scandal that has shaken me… but the blatant refusal of the leadership in Syosett to be transparent and open with its church community NOW. God teaches us to be forgiving, and I dare say that many of the church community would be, if these matters were dealt with in a timely manner. It seems as though ‘timely manner’ has now lapsed.
Syosett, you best take note that the older members of the church are not the only ones keeping track of the events. I read…. My sister, age 21, reads…. My brother, age 17, reads…. The young generation of the church is acutely aware of what is happening, and we are disgusted with the fact that +MH seems willing to sacrifice a generation of young people, and essentially the future of the church, to cover up past mistakes. What church will be left if the young people leave? We so desperately desire a place and community to feel connected to those who believe what we do… who worship like we do… and we want and need leadership that inspires us to keep doing so, even in the ruts of daily life. The leadership of this church in Syosett is doing nothing to foster my personal growth in the church as a young Orthodox Christian, or restore my faith in them! Night after night, I lay awake after my prayers, pleading with God to hold me close to Him, as I know it is not HIS fault I feel so disconnected and discontented with my church.
Bishop Job, while I remain in continued prayer for the restoration of our holy church, I feel the need to write you this ‘fan letter’. Your dedication and persistence, as well as openness and compassion with the people is inspiring and is keeping me strong in my faith, as you are a reminder of what good still lies in the Orthodox Church. You make me proud to be Orthodox, and you make me proud to be from Chicago, under your superior spiritual leadership. If all of the church leaders were as honest and good as you, the situation would be markedly different, and my feelings certainly would be as well.
The health of our church is not good, and it is frustrating to feel so helpless in this time of trouble. I remain vigilant in my prayers and conversations with God. I recognize the nature of man is sinful, but is it wrong to expect the highest from church leadership?
I don’t want to live my life with a heart hardened to my church, and I don’t think the young Orthodox Christians of my generation do either. I am quickly losing faith in the integrity of my church… and if I can’t find integrity in my church… where can I?
#25 Larissa M in Chicago on 2007-12-05 19:26
Thank you for this eloquent, and obviously heartfelt, post.
For those of us who are 50+ years of age, what has happened to our Church is disgusting and depressing, but in light of our life experiences not all that surprising. We soldier on ever hopeful that God will put all to right in the fullness of time.
But you are the future and continuance of the Church, and your disillusionment is entirely understandable. The hypocritical disconnect with the Gospel's message is too terrible to bear and may even raise questions of faith.
This is the price we are collectively paying, and are going to continue to pay, if this nonsense and immorality is not adequately addressed--namely the loss of the younger generation. Who would want this on their conscience?
#25.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-12-06 11:21
It appears that MH does not care who he is lost.
Many people of all age groups have left.
The "Great White Father" does not care about anything or anyone except his Mecca in South Canaan.
Until we have a full time leader, many will go by the wayside.
I personally do not know why, he receives a full time salary!
#25.1.1 MP on 2007-12-06 14:02
I rejoice at the spiritual discerment and the moral clarity you are showing in the face the crisis facing our poor Church. I also weep for the cross you and your generation must bear for the lack of ethics, character, courage, and true sacramental love, guidance, care, teaching, and leadership from many of our hierarchs and other Orthodox theologians, priests, teachers, and elders in positions of authority.
This is the sad legacy and spiritual devastation that's being enabled and tolerated by our current leadership and all of the Holy Synod (except Archbishop Job).
It's bad enough for us adults to be traveling through this spiritual desert and witness the squandering of our Orthodox heritage and treasure. But I cannot imagine the struggles and problems facing the younger generations who are rendered defenseless against the evil and corruption of our culture and the world by a church who, in the words of Fr. Alexander Schmemann is "better and better equipped to fight heresies defeated some fifteen centuries ago, but unable not only to fight but even to detect and to name the real and truly destructive heresies permeating our modern secularistic culture" and I would add "and the very core of our Orthodox hierarchy and church leadership." And yet so many remain silent.
The prophetic words of Fr. Alexander Schmemann from 41 years ago are still relevant today (although for different reasons and relating to different issues) and stand as a testament against the spiritual and pastoral crisis unfolding at the highest levels of the Orthodox Church:
"Only the blind would deny the existence of the crisis, yet not too many seem to realize its depth and scope, least of all (let us face it) the bishops who continue in their routine work as "if nothing happened." At no time in the past has there existed such an abyss between the hierarchy and the "real" Church, never before has the power-structure so little corresponded to the crying spiritual needs of the faithful."
The stones cry out! How much longer oh Lord, how much longer!
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
I had a pleasure of going to services at both Holy Trinity and Our Savior Cathedrals in Chicago a few weeks ago when I was in town for a conference. I was extremely happy to experience firsthand that the liturgical spirit in those churches of the Diocese of Midwest is high, and that the church feels "alive", unlike in many, many other OCA parishes I visit in the course of my rather extensive travels. I can now witness from my own experience that the unity and strength coming out of the Diocese of Midwest are a result of a deep bond between the faithful of the diocese and their bishop, and of the true liturgical life that they live. And to those who would rush to condemn it as a schism, go to the Midwest, come to services, talk to people, see for yourself! This is not a schismatic group of malcontents - this is the beautiful example of the Orthodox Church that is nurtured by its liturgical life.
And now, reading your post, I am even happier that such eloquent and heartfelt words are coming from such a young member of the Diocese. I think the rest of us in the OCA should take heart that we have quite a large group in our Church that shows us that we are not all "wandering in the fog", that there is hope. Thank you for coming forward, and may the resolve of Archbishop Job be strengthened by the support he has from his flock...
Holy Trinity Cathedral
#25.3 Inga Leonova on 2007-12-06 16:20
Another parishoner in Kodiak was denied communion at -N direct orders this past weekend because she was married at St. Innocents (Bulgarian) Academy in Kodiak instead at the OCA cathedral. The priest said it was becuase she didn't get His Imperial Majesty's blessing and because it is no secret that he doesn't like what he sees as competition from the folks at the Bulgarian outpost. My understanding is that she and her husband asked that the priests from both jurisdictions concelebrate as her husband's spiritual father is the priest at St. Innocents, but -N wasn't having it. The Mysteries are being used as a weapon here, and the terrified clergy says nothing...
#26 Moses on 2007-12-06 11:11
This practice of using the Holy Eucharist as a instrument of subjective punishment by a priest or bishop is radically wrong according to the Orthodox Church. Some clerics from schools where Latin theology crept in were notorious for these tactics. Obviously, + Nicolai should be deposed. If no one will step up, then maybe some men of the area should take him for a nice ride. Outer Mongolia is due West.
#26.1 Anonymouso on 2007-12-06 13:16
It is hard to believe! Using the Eucharist as a weapon to punish people? Saint Paul has very strong words to say about what happens to those who disrespect God's Body and Blood (some were even killed for this). Lord have mercy! This rogue bishop is trying to destroy souls and must be stopped.
#26.1.1 David M. Capparuccini on 2007-12-07 05:31
Something for your night reading, Nikolai: "Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by who the temptation comes!...See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father who is in heaven." What astonishing gall you have, miserable man, to despise the very word of God. May God in His great mercy break your stony heart and bring you to repentance. And may He have great mercy on His suffering people in Alaska. Forgive me, brothers and sisters in Alaska, for my failure to pray for you as I ought. All of Christ's people suffer with you.
#26.2 Scott Walker on 2007-12-06 20:01
When the Eucharist becomes a weapon of policy; the morality of that body is by nature, horribly wrong. The OCA's history is littered with other such incidents across the Unites States. In the past the laity sat in lethargic silence as Eucharistic clubs were wielded. Unless the laity say NO to this practice, it will not end. The clergy are hopelessly compromised on the this issue. Even the "good guys" have turned a blind eye historically. This isn't Christ, this is some club with an exotic ritual. LAITY, RISE UP FROM YOUR SLUMBER.
#27 Anon. on 2007-12-06 20:38
Dude! Get it right, pull down this site. The scandal is over, all is well ALL IS WELL!
Proof positive is here! Can't wait to get mine! Maybe if I'm a good, His Beatitude will autograph my copy-
Article posted: 12/4/2007 8:43 PM
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Cover of 2008 Desk CalendarSYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- The official 2008 Desk Calendar of the Orthodox Church in America has gone to press. It will be distributed to OCA parishes by mid-December. Because of financial constraints a smaller number of calendars will be available this year.
For more information about the 2008 Desk Calendar, please contact OCA Director of Ministries and Communications, Archpriest Andrew Jarmus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the OCA burns, Nero fiddles-
#28 Anonymous on 2007-12-07 06:05
Sir: If your point is that it's a waste of money due to financial constraints, then I agree (it was available as a pdf for 2007, and you could print it yourself at home). It would have been more profitable, however, had you just made that point, instead of making caustic, anonymous remarks. It helps neither the cause, nor your soul.
#28.1 Michael Strelka on 2007-12-07 16:19
This year does it contain all the dates of significant incidents of theft? What about dates of withdrawals of $9500? These are proud dates in the history of the OCA that these corrupt men were so proud to display when no one knew the basis of their actions. It surely contains the dates of each of the bishop's consecrations. Days which live in infamy.
Yes, it is telling there were no pictures of Archbishop Peter's funeral. .... Maybe people just don't want to honor a bishop who went to the Carribean for Christmas rather than spend it at his Cathedral of in a diocesan parish.
#28.2 Anonymous on 2007-12-08 12:29
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