Friday, December 21. 2007
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My first thoughts about all this was this is just horrible to hear what poor +Job had do endure at the HS meeting and then in tonsuring a national registered sex offender, and then hearing the faitfhful are being denied Holy Communion in Kodiak.
What? Hello? Is anybody home? (Ecccchooooo).
Short of downright depression and considering leaving to another jurisdiction, I believe St. Mark's may have the best idea going. Start lighting up those transparent votive candles from coast to coast in all of our OCA churches.
I absolutely believe in the power of prayer. I really feel St. Mark's has a very productive idea here. It can't hurt!
Please keep us posted, St. Mark's and any other churches who start lighting the transparent votive candles!
Holy St. John Chrysostom, Holy Father Herman and all of our newly canonized Saints of American, pray unto God for us!
#1 Patty Schellbach on 2007-12-21 18:21
I am weeping. How can we be in communion with such... as Nikolai??? How can we be under our own bishop whose hands are tied about doing or saying anything about another bishop's wrongdoings (witness +Job having to apologize to Nikolai or else he'd be deposed)? How can we trust in the whole organization of the OCA itself when there is so much wrongness about it and about the past 20 odd years??? How can we belong to a church that has a 'closed door' policy on righting wrongs? This is complete MADNESS, wrong, and ought to be stopped the way Christ overthrew the moneychangers in the temple!
You can't 'love the sinner' when they become the sin, denying Christ and everything about Him. And at that point you HAVE to stop enabling the sinner, or else you're part of the sin too!
I refuse to be part of this--and yet I don't know how to refuse to be part of this. That my little corner of the OCA is, I think, basically on the right path, is one thing. That children in Alaska are being put at risk by a known and convicted sexual offender who has been elevated by a bishop into the 'lesser' ranks of the clergy is another.
'The rot begins at the head of the fish'---YES, but we are charged to cut off the gangrenous flesh to HALT the spread of the rot. We prune plants, bushes and trees to make them healthy.
Help! Speak up, you silent ones! Expose the rot that you KNOW you know about--and that I only know secondhand, with much anguish in my knowing. If your speaking out exposes you too, then be cleansed in the knowledge that you are doing this for Christ and for His Church. Be as Mary of Egypt and all the great saint-repenters of the Church.
Speak up, you enablers! If you chauffered, purchased, conveyed, overheard, and kept your mouth shut because, well, that's just what you did, then DON'T anymore. SPEAK, and refuse to be mired in the pit in which you have been stuck. Sounds terrifying, I know. Keeping silent until subpoened is the way of the world. We are NOT of this world, but of Christ! Choose SPEAKING THE TRUTH VOLUNTARILY over lies and coverups. Choose this because if you don't, then you diminish Christ in this world, and allow the devil to triumph.
It was with great anguish and wailing that Eustace ( C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) was stripped of his dragonskin which epitomized his pride, greed, narcissism, gluttony, and lust--and he couldn't do it himself although he did try to do it many times. He was only able to be restored to his original created, unblemished form by Aslan (Christ). THEN came his 'baptismal' immersion in the pool of water, and then came his formal repentance face-to-face with his family and friends.
Please! Relieve the suffering and persecution of the many victims of the past 20 years. You are called to, by Christ, and you must do it actively and publicly, not passively.
#2 Larissa on 2007-12-21 18:26
A congenital liar;
An egomaniacal, misogynist tyrant with delusions of godhood who surrounds himself with sexual perverts;
A group of moral do-nothings;
One man who tries to serve Christ;
And who’s the guy whose position is challenged in all of this???
What the ______?!?
And PLEASE! Spare me the malarkey that " My guy isn’t really bad— he's handling this is his own pastoral way.”
Phooey on them all!! (Except for the decent one -- and I stress one among them.)
Lord, save us!!! (And quickly, please)
#3 Nameless this one time on 2007-12-21 19:07
I think what needs to happen is other jurisdictions need to go to Alaska and start setting up parishes to save these poor people. I fo rone would go in a second. Perhaps I will write to my bishop and ask permission. These people need proper pastoral care not someone who uses The Holy Sacraments a weapons. The people need to rise up!
#4 A Priest on 2007-12-21 19:38
It is not only the people that have to rise up, it is the priests. If the priests get organized and call for the deposition of their so called bishop, many voices in the wilderness cannot be ignored. Rise up you priests and demand that this tyrant be replaced. He is not doing the will of God, nor is he abiding by his sacramental vows that he had taken as a priest or a bishop. He has not adhered to the cammandments that Our God had placed as examples for all to follow. And if he called for the deposition of Bishop Job, for no good reason, then maybe it is time for the Synod of Bishops to take action aginst this man. He is not doing the will of God nor is he properly administering to the charge that has been placed to provide the proper sheparding.
Lord have mercy on us all.
#4.1 Harol Pukita on 2007-12-22 11:13
Father, bless! Thank you, Father, for your pastoral heart. And thank God for the hundreds of honest and Christ-honoring priests.
#4.2 Scott Walker on 2007-12-22 12:01
I agree that St. Mark's has a good idea. United prayer and some form of collegial action at the parish level by those of us who care is the way to beat the devil. This has always been so historically in the Church and is still so now.
To think that communism had to be in power for 70+ years before its fall is a very sobering thought indeed. Must we endure the hideous betrayal of our faith that long? What shall we tell our children and grandchildren? What did I do about it?
To the Midwest Diocese: is now the time to light our "transparent votives?" Could we please have a direction for corporate prayer besides the petition in our handbook for the Diocesan Assembly?
To all the bishops who endure and enable sin: shame on you. God sees; He will judge you - and even more harshly you than me, for you dare to be my leaders!
To all the bishops who have turned your back on +Job: shame on you. You have embraced lies and obfuscation for the sake of what? A position of power? What kind of power? For how long? A few short years and then what? Do you really think you'll slip under God's radar?
To all the bishops who hold power as more desirable than Truth and purity: shame on you. Have you quit reading the Lives of the Saints? Why did you quit emulating them? Do you forget that the greatest of the holy ones fled into the wilderness and the monasteries in order to avoid the office of bishop or heirarch? I know of only one of you who struggled NOT to be consecrated a Bishop. And now you attack him.
#5 Cynthia, a priest's wife in the Midwest on 2007-12-21 19:53
It's official then. In the OCA each bishop is an absolutely autonomous, completely independent, accountable to no one, totalitarian leader of his fiefdom, I mean diocese. Nothing he does, short of a criminal act, can be questioned or challenged. Any courageous, ethical, and loving bishops who dares question or confront a near heretical and demented bishop who abuses priests, threatens seminarians, fires seminary teachers, tonsures registered sex offenders, etc., is himself subject to deposition.
Any Orthodox whom the bishop dislikes can be excommunicated for any subjective reason without explanation, justification, or due process. Such decisions are not subject to review by anyone, including the SOB or the Metropolitan. Got it now!
Madness, sheer madness! With each passing month the level of lunacy and darkness increases in the OCA. And STILL our theologians and too many priests and elders continue to remain silent.
God help us all!
As usual, you reduce everything to your legal juridical mindset. However you do expose your ignorance of Orthodox church structure and the role and responsibilities of a diocesan bishop. Whether you knew it or not, it is true that no bishop can inject himself in the affairs of another diocese. What is madness is that you seem to have no apparent knowledge of Church history. You speak as if you some sort of ill informed latecomer to Orthodoxy.
If you don't like the OCA go to another Orthodox Church. You will find them heavy-handed from the top and congregational on the bottom (not making any judgment as to the top being better than the bottom) which I am sure you would be so quick to hang your next post on.
Job was wrong to stick his nose into Alaska. He was wrong not only that he did it but how he did it, behind the back of another brother bishop. Herman was wrong for taking the bait and not informing Nikolai of the communication he had with Job and Job had with Sidebottom before letting Nikolai know. As soon as Job was made aware of the charges he should have informed Nikolai. All of this was done with the intent of first going public after they had lined up Sidebottom and Herman and Job to go against Nikolai.
Don't get me wrong, Nikolai may not be without sin in all of this, but there is an order to taking care of Church issues. That order was good enough for some to get Kondratick, but when it is further abused to go after a fellow bishop, well, the line has to be stood up for somewhere.
Chris, you are simply wrong and your outrage does not make it right. Job screwed up big time and he got caught and he did what he had to do, beg for forgiveness. He did that, to his credit. And that is the end of the story and should be the end of your misplaced outrage.
#6.1 Anonymous on 2007-12-22 10:52
If the bishops had been taking care of Church issues using proper order we would not be in this mess to begin with.
There is an unfortunate understanding that unless a cleric proclaims a heretical teaching he can get away with pretty much anything and nothing should be done about him. In the words of Nicholas Berdiaev “the sole authentic heresy is the heresy of life”. In this case I’d rather take Archbishop Job’s choice of compassion over the rules than Nikolai’s usage of the law for his sorry ends.
People’s anger shows that they care about integrity above law. You are wrong, sir, they did not seek “to get Kondratick”, they desired the truth, the acknowledgement and correction of wrongdoings, which we do not have to this day.
I wonder what would have happened had Archbishop Job refused to apologize. Maybe an attempt at a deposition would have put the people of the edge and caused them to stand up to the gang currently comprising the Synod.
#6.1.1 Karina Ross on 2007-12-23 14:14
So... let me get you straight, Anonymous (why is it that so many people choose not to sign their names to the postings that contain personal attacks?):
- Bishop N. is running his diocese as a personal fiefdom (thanks for the image, Chris). It sounds like he is running it as a medieval baron literally, including verbal and physical abuse, and questionable judgment (I'll stop at that lest I be accused of libel) in matters of sexual misconduct. He has the advantage of lording over the diocese which is the most susceptible to abuse - people in Alaska are considerably more constrained in the boundaries of their land than we are in the "lower 48", for reasons both economical and social/tribal. And to anyone who dares question some of his most outrageous actions he responds "Get lost, I run my diocese as I well please, it is mine alone before God."
- Abp. J., who is, in case you haven't yet noticed, a true hero to this Church and one of our few and far between beacons of hope for getting through this nightmare as a whole body, receives certain information which is clearly actionable. He passes the information on to the Metropolitan who, under the Statute, is THE one bishop who can (and MUST should the occasion demand it) interfere in the affairs of any diocese. That the Metropolitan lacks any trait of character required for righteous action is beside my point at the moment. What I am saying is that I don't quite see that the said Archbishop had another recourse given the nature of the allegations. It took a lot of guts to do what he did, which is much in keeping with everything else he is doing - standing up before the forces of evil as the bishop SHOULD. It's in their job description, you know - although it is apparent that most of them, sadly, lack whatever it takes to perform the job...
And in this situation you have the audacity to use cavalier and disrespectful language and mock Archbishop Job?! By the way, being extremely privileged to know said Archbishop personally, I am quite sure that "begging for forgiveness" cannot be an accurate description of what had transpired.
Shame on you, whoever you are. This so-called "financial scandal" is nothing less but another form of the eternal battle between good and evil. If you call yourself Orthodox Christian but are too myopic to distinguish between who represents which side in this battle, I pity you...
#6.1.2 Inga Leonova on 2007-12-23 19:12
Ok Everyone seems upset by the tonsuring of a sex offender by Bishop Nikolai. I agree this is outrageous.
But what about Bishop Dmitri (Robert Roscoe Royster), DOS, covering for a convicted pedophile, Father Andrew Rayburn AKA Peter, Sterling, Issac or Melton (or any combination of the above)
When Pokrov discovered that he had been convicted for drugging and sexually abusing several boys as young as age 3, Father Andrew was leading youth retreats with the blessing of Bishop Dmitri and the clergy in the area. Now he owns and runs a DOS monastery which includes a retreat center.
Father Andrew was working for Bishop Dmitri at the time of his arrest, so there is not a chance that Dmitri didn't know all about this sexual predator.
Please check it out.
For your information, and do make a note, Fr. Andrew Rayburn does not "own" the monastery, neither is he Superior or in a leadership role. That monastery does not operate a "retreat center," please get your "facts" straight. What you are calling a "retreat center" in reality is a simple guest house. Fr. Andrew Rayburn was granted retirement by the Archbishop at Fr. Andrew's request and is living in solitude with the brothers on the grounds. Hieromonk John has assumed all responsibilities at that monastery, having been appointed Superior (President of the board) of the monastery by Archbishop Dmitri. The corporation entity is the sole "owner" of the monastery.
#6.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-12 13:34
A glooming peace this morning with it brings,
The sun for sorrow shall not show his head.
Go hence, and have no more talk of these sad things,
some shall be pardoned and some punishèd
For never was a story of more woe…
#7 Anonymous on 2007-12-21 20:28
Just when you thought the bishops of the OCA could not possibly sink any lower, we get this latest report on their antics. It can only be characterized as revolting and disgusting......
Did no one defend Archbishop Job? Are our bishops so bereft of decency and courage that the one unambiguously good man amongst them was "crucified," while Barabbas was set free?
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this insanity and evil must end. It is truly in our power to make it so, if we can break out of the denial that still holds sway with so many of us.
#8 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-12-21 20:33
..... When are the clergy in Alaska going to develop a backbone? Time to boycott the OCA in Alaska, ALL OF IT...stop the complicity of silence! To my Alaska Native brothers and sisters, have we forgotten who we are?!?! Rise! Rise! Rise! Are we to be treated like slaves and fools on our own sacred homeland by a tyrant from the outside?!? Our ancestors never would have stood for this abuse!
#9 Moses on 2007-12-21 20:39
And again...it begs asking; it is a well established fact that the majority of the faithful in Alaska are Indigenous Peoples...So, why does the OCA continue to send demons to the north? IS it because there is an opinion out there that the "darkies" don't/won't complain? hmmmmm...this darkie has had enough. I am boycotting.
#9.1 Moses on 2007-12-22 16:55
SHAME ON ALL OF YOU for allowing such a travesty! It does not go unnoticed! You turn your back on the ONE who defends the people and the Church, don't be surprised when the people turn their backs on you!
Bishops...do you even know what the word laity means? Laity...from Laos..."the people of God"! It does NOT mean "the degenerate and unworthy servants of the most high Lord bishops"!
This unholy synod operates solely by taking advantage of Christ's teachings. Temperance, understanding, forgiveness, moral goodness....none of it applies to them, but to us . When criticisms arise, they lecture us on what it means to be Christian.....
Reading the earlier post from Larissa, I find that I feel much of the same, just as I know many of my friends at church feel too. To be a member of the OCA is to know what it means to be ashamed of your Church.
In response to Larissa, Chris, and others - many of our priests are stuck in a very difficult situation.....
Please Fr Bob, help us! We can forgive you if you expose the truth. Save this dying Church from those who pretend to lead it! You had to do their dirty-work for years, now stop serving many masters and perform an act to serve the One True Master by saving His Church from these beasts!
#10 Anonymous on 2007-12-21 22:05
NOTICE TO ALL BAD BOYS MASQUERADING AS CLERGY:
GET OUT. YOUR JIG IS UP.
(This includes bad boys in Syosset, St. Tikhon's and Alaska.)
#11 Anon. on 2007-12-22 08:55
Fellow OCA Members:
Okay, I have finally had enough of this dysfunctional organization. The proceedings reported here from the last HS meeting with respect to +Job, the comments of +Benjamin which speak contempt of the laity (not to mention the clergy), and the continuing antics of +Nikolai, who operates as a complete unfettered tyrant in Alaska, with no one in authority exercising the least bit of restraint upon him.
I want all of your Emminences and Graces to understand something very clearly; frankly I doubt that you care one whit about it however. I joined the OCA as a convert some three years ago, after a nearly 20-year search as a "seeker," and a defector from the fundamentalist Protestant community of Christianity. I found the clarity of the Orthodox Christian message completely startling and refreshing; here this truth "found" by me after so many years of fruitless search for God, covering the Anglican communion, Mormonism, and so forth, resident here in the Ancient Orthodox Church. For purely accidental reasons, I joined the OCA, which made sense given the total lack of response I experienced from the Greek church, and the piddling ethnicity of some of the other jurisdictions on this continent. And for several months, I was so delighted, and have/had a wonderful parish, which +Herman himself described as a vibrant "happy" parish. Well, then reality set in, and the results of the most recent Holy Synod meeting reported here by Mark Stokoe illustrates the complete and utter inability of you, the leadership of the OCA, to deal with civility, reality, and modernity. In my humble opinion, I am forced to now admit to myself that you, my leadership, have a singular inability to understand your flock, and there is no way, absolutely no way, that you can be the shepherds of God's Truth. You seem, rather, to be a dysfunctional group of narrow-minded men, enamoured of your own positions and "authority," intent upon ignoring the cry of your flock, and further intent upon covering-up all manner of abuse, theft, lies, and deceit within the Central Church Administration and apparently in Alaska as well.
Therefore, I have no choice but to now do that which I do not want to do, and have resisted doing for some months now, and that is to take steps to identify and begin to explore what the Antiochian Archdiocese has to offer in my geographic vicinity. With God's help, I hope to be free from the OCA, and established in a new Antiochian parish before the summer of 2008; if not, I will once again try to beat the door down at the huge Greek cathedral not too far from my home, and where I will continue to worship our God in the Orthodox fashion, albeit as a non-ethnic-Greek "outsider" in my own church.
With all due respect to the many and fine people I have met in the OCA, and within my parish, and throughout the country, I can no longer support by association this dysfunctional group of incompetent old men who find themselves at the head of this organization known as the OCA. Not wanting to be too hasty, perhaps now I will only explore, and postpone my ultimate decision to depart this fellowship until after the AAC in Pittsburgh - an event which I expect to be marked by a combination of inaction and cover-up, excuse-making, and a continuation in office of all of Their Emminences and Graces of the current group who will, no doubt, continue to lead the OCA into oblivion. Will I get involved in the AAC? No; as a convert, I am already a second-class citizen within the OCA, and with a non-Orthodox wife, it has been made clear to me that I am indeed a third-class citizen, unworthy of serving the Church due to marrying a women years before I ever set foot in an Orthodox Church, much less heard the Word preached, read the Tradition, and accepted the Truth. Quite frankly, at this point, I wonder why a flogging was not administered during my Chrismation service, in recognition of such sins! Given my third-class status, why not go all the way into the more ethnic Antiochian or Greek jurisdictions, where at least they don't pay so much "lip service" about being "American" as the OCA does, only to have a bishop decry "democracy" at a meeting of the Holy Synod.
I've seen a lot in my lifetime, and with all due respect to the many fine people in my parish, and to my long-suffering parish priest, I can honestly say that I have never found myself to be a part of such a hypocritical organization, and I don't intend to continue it. I'm going to lay the groundwork for a smooth departure into another jurisdiction, and if +Herman and +Nikolai continue in their various positions following the AAC in 2008, then the choice will be made to exit. That is a form of democracy that the OCA bishops cannot prevent - voting with our feet.
I will not abandon Orthodoxy, which God has given me the grace to find, rather late in life. But leave the OCA? That is another matter entirely. That is a very viable option.
#12 C.C. on 2007-12-22 09:42
I totally agree with every word your post. More from me on this subject to follow in due course.
PS: I just "celebrated" the 20th anniversary of my conversion and chrismation and feel every bit of your pain.
#12.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-12-23 11:29
For the first time in my life I wish that I had money to finance a lawsuit... A lawsuit that people in Alaska should bring against their bishop for endangering the welfare of their minors by putting a convicted sex offender in a position which makes people potentially vulnerable, and a lawsuit that Paul Sidebottom should bring against the same bishop. If our Synod and especially Metropolitan are unable to intervene, then the civil course of action must be taken.
And under these circumstances Archbishop Job is forced to apologize to Bishop Nikolai lest "formal charges be brought"?! What madness are we living in?! The OCA, by the hands of its hierarchs, and the tacit support of all its complacent members, is continuing its descent "into the dark abyss of sin"... Lord deliver us!
#13 Inga Leonova on 2007-12-22 10:51
I'm sure that I'm not the only one who spent some tearful time in the bright corner. I'm not a lawyer, and don't remember the Latin phrase, but there is a saying in law that translates into the English, "The thing speaks for itself." So the thing we see, which walks and talks for itself, is one bishop out of many who has consistently acted and spoken as a shepherd of Christ's people, and he is the one his fellows want to depose. A few days ago, I posted a defense of my bishop, Benjamin. I thought that he was a decent and honorable man. Now I don't know what to think. I remember in Catechism (yes, I'm one of those converts, maybe even infected with "democratic" ideas) when Fr. Matthew told us of times in the past when the faithful met outside of the church, rather than be inside under heretical bishops. I remember thinking, "Wow, that is so cool! People with such love for the truth of Christ that they would stand outside in the rain and snow rather than have their ears tickled by a liar in vestments." You know, folks, the Church does not belong to the bishops. Maybe the time is coming when the best we can do is find an honest priest and go stand outside. Yes, I know that technically our bishops are not heretics. I also know that they have shown themselves to be not quite what St. Ignatius had in mind when he wrote about the place of the bishops in the Church of Christ. The thing speaks for itself. The icon of Christ our bishops show us by their actions is that of a cruel, cold and pharisaical god, more concerned with appearance than with love. Oh, we'll make sure to uphold the canons! (Selectively.) We'll not trespass in the affairs of another diocese! (As the people for whom Christ died are denied His Body and Blood at the whim of a loon, and while said loon tonsures an afficianado of kiddie porn into the lower ranks of the clergy.) Did you get that last one, Your Graces? That poor sinner in Kodiak is loved and forgiven in Christ, but do we really think it wise to tonsure him a reader? Are you out of your collective mind? Sadly, the thing speaks for itself. And kindly spare me, all of you anonymous bravehearts who natter on about how we are a hierarchical Church. I know that. I agree with that. I came here because of that. The apostate Church of the eschaton will be hierarchical, too, with valid bishops in the Apostolic succession, and gorgeous vestments and heart-breakingly beautiful Liturgies. Only problem is, Antichrist is enthroned there. Does anybody recall in St. John's Gospel where Christ tells us, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another." Look at the actions of the bishops, and remember the words of our King and God.
The thing speaks for itself. Lord, have mercy. Most holy Theotokos, save us. St. Herman of Alaska, pray to God for us. Save, O Lord, thy people, and bless thine inheritance, granting victory to Orthodox Christians over their enemies, and by the power of Thy Cross, preserving Thy community. And save, Lord, and have mercy on the Holy Synod, who know not what they do.
#14 Scott Walker on 2007-12-22 11:58
One way we can give show our support and love of what Job is going through is that all monies that you were thinking of sending to Alaska or any of seminaries, send to the Cathedral in Chicago for restoration work or to any missions in the Midwest or suggest that the Midwest set up a missionary fund and support that. Are there any parishes in the Midwest which need financial help? We need to support, wholeheartedly, the work of the midwest which appears to be the only diocese in this God forsaken Church that is doing anything in line with the mission that Christ set us on.
Alaska can just sell so much land before it loses all identity as Church having already lost the moral identity of a Church. We can also support the other jurisdictions which are up there, such as the Church in Eagle River. One thing with multi jurisdictions is that while you may lose the physical edifice you always attended, you can don't have to leave your Church (capital C). There are alternatives and, especially in Alaska, none are under a cloud as the decrepit one ruled under the unGodly Nikolai (what's that trunk story again?).
People, this isn’t about interference in another diocese – that’s a red herring to give some valid cover to the underlying thinking. After all, the Synod is supposed to look after the good of the entire Church and when a bishop runs amok in a diocese it’s the Synod’s responsibility to correct that situation. Job was involved because, honestly, people don’t trust anyone else in this Church to do what’s right when a serious moral incident happens in the Church, especially when it involves a bishop. Where does someone look to for help if not outside of his diocese when the bishop is implicated in something so serious as is alleged? His argument is as invalid as anything else he has said, but now that he has successfully intimidated all those structures in the church into closing an investigation in his actions, he now goes after those that revealed it. But Nikolai was parroting a defense that’s what these men want so they may carry on with their carnage unchecked and immune from any action to correct their abuses. Bunk. But, this is about defeat in another way: psychological defeat.
Nikolai might think he's won this one (small men savor contrived victories) and, like he has with numerous others, has made someone cower and apologize to his highness in an attempt to give an air that his way was correct, but what he can never get back is the facade he lived under. This time was especially heart warming to him because it was an Archbishop – one who has done an incredible amount of soul searching and has undergone unimaginable pain to root out the evil that exists in this Church and return it to being a Church that follows God’s laws. A bishop bringing an Archbishop pretty much literally to his knees. For the power hungry this is vindication and a dose of antidote to one’s insecurities until the next time. An archbishop who warms the hearts of those he’s around and serves as an example to people, an example of virtue, he’s basically honestly loved by those all he has touched. A real servant of God. Everything that Nikolai so much savors but can never attain. No one should be held up other than Nikolai… in Nikolai’s world. What Nikolai wants to do is bring down Job, using the official machinery of the Church, to take away that love and respect that Job has earned. It will never work. Too many times we’re taken for fools in this Church and in this they severely misunderstand the landscape. They misunderstood that and now they have no money, but they cling to this ineffective thinking because it makes them feel good. This was a real power play to make one’s insecurities rest for a night or at least the flight back to Anchorage. It was a shot across the bow of anyone else who dare bring light to the darkness. It’s the only way he gets respect, he threatens unGodly actions until people cower and subject themselves to him. Remember, Christ did that constantly to make people love Him!
“Go out into the world making disciples of all nations to yourself using fear, intimidation, and any actions you feel necessary in my name.” Can’t find that version of the well known verse in the Orthodox Study Bible. And we call this a Church? Who are we fooling? All this because he doesn't warrant any respect for any of his actions and is no fountain of virtue and love. Only condemnation. Job warms hearts around him, Nikolai turns them to ice. Job has people hold him up as an example of the suffering we need to do for Christ and is loved and respected for that. Nikolai has to make others suffer to, contrivably, respect him. No wonder Nikolai went after Job. Envy of a man who is loved and respected because of his humility and love of the Lord. Anger because he doesn’t want to subject himself to what’s necessary to have what Job didn’t have as his goal, but a result of his integrity and character. For Job, it’s a sign that all your suffering, all your pain, all your love has taken over all the darkness, and the darkness is angered, the darkness is in pain, the darkness is thrashing about, because the darkness cannot bear to see the light. Be strong, you’re fighting the good fight and showing us how to put God first. Nikolai wants us to believe that God sent him to show how the faith should be lived! But, the truth is, God sent Job to us as an example of how the faith should be lived. Is it no wonder why Nikolai went after Job. Did he make Job get on his knees before him to apologize or was that not a requirement this time? If no, then Job got off easy with some dignity not required to be stomped upon by the darkness.
People know about Nikolai and while he might take joy in the little victories, the truth is known about this unGodly man. He did a good job, along with the former Tikhon of the west, to train Benjamin in the unGodly behavior that is their trademark. Another man for whom hiding and rewarding the worst in human behavior is at the core of his heart. A good man brainwashed. Isn’t there a canon somewhere about choosing your successor? Let’s all keep our eyes on the Diocese of the South, they are probably priming a succession plan as well to keep that ground solidly in the hands of the Godless. Nikolai only follows canons when it suits his needs then he turns a blind eye or unilaterally invalidates those that don’t. Isidore was his succession plan for when he came to succeed Herman. Isidore is a constant reminder, physically, of those plans gone awry. Why else elevate someone, who he can manipulate, to a level so close to his own? Did he want to share the limelight (not likely) or was it to make Isidore the no brainer choice to follow in which case he still maintains a strong arm on the resources bestowed upon the Alaska diocese? Is it no wonder Isidore takes the brunt of the anger! Is it no wonder Isidore drinks to escape the reality he lives in, all the while those that are in power or purport to care idly stand aside and watch it unfold. At least the powers that be are not hypocritical as to say they care what happens up there. Is that because they don’t care or is it because they don’t want to be subjected to the torment and humiliation that their brother, Job, has endured?
Nikolai will never realize his ambition of wearing that white hat and he's going to harm as many people as he can every time he realizes that, whether that be a woman explaining a sermon to her hard of hearing brother or a mitred archimandrite in his house. Luckily for us he self destructed before an opportunity came up for that white hat. Maybe Herman lingering on for this long was a silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud. If Herman had resigned early last year, who knows how selecting his successor would have turned out. Remember that letter that Nikolai sent to the lower 48 in mass numbers with a Long Island postmark? Was this the equivalent of a campaign letter? Talk about interfering in other dioceses! Remember he threatened to bring up a priest, in another diocese, to a spiritual court? Wasn’t Fr. Whitehurst tried with members of a jury from outside the diocese, but when Job was made the accuser in the Kondratick trial there was outrage because he was from outside of the Metropolitan’s diocese? Fr. Poulson as well? How fast one forgets canons when one wants to.
In the end, all of this is based on envy and ambition. One unattainable, the other scuttled. It eats away at him that he’s got to be a bishop in Alaska until the end of his days and he lashes out when he thinks about it. The best laid plans… If he has to suffer, the world has to suffer. This is the sign of a great and Holy man, don’t you all know? Word got out about him and he's left to live out his years in Alaska and he's going to make everyone he can suffer those consequences. It’s so easy to see that it doesn’t take a Ph.D in psychology. Has no one noticed the exponential increase of these incidents in Alaska since late 2005? Another one of those great time bombs that the Kondratick regime left with us. In this case one you were so proud of your handiwork you paraded him up and down the eastern seaboard for what? As the anointed next Metropolitan? Mr. Kondratick, you not only robbed us of our material resources, you put in the seeds of the moral and organizational destruction of this Church and fostered their growth. Nikolai’s actions are your responsibility and another blemish on your record and legacy.
#15 Stonewall on 2007-12-22 12:53
Stonewall, as always, a passionate and focused discussion of reality. Your characterization of +Nikolai iseems very much on the mark.
I think, though, that it would be a mistake to assume that what happened at the Synod meeting regarding +Job's treatment by +Nikolai, and by +Benjamin, was merely a manifestation of +Nikolai's evil character. +Nikolai blew into town on an ill wind, ahead of the rest of the Synod, prior to the meeting. I rather doubt it was to pray in the chapel in preparation for the meeting. Instead, I believe his early arrival was part of a preconceived scheme to bully +Job into a) releasing the Midwest's escrowed donations, and b) leaving the Synod altogether. Logically, the persons with whom +Nikolai would have conferred on this plan were persons who were already in or relatively near Oyster Bay Cove. I can only leave it to the readers' imagination, as I do to mine, the identity of those persons. Cate
#15.1 cate on 2007-12-23 10:39
The problem lies within the OCA statutes. They must be revised so that diocese bishops can't act as a sole-authority accountable to no one. The Holy Synod is supposed to keep all of it's members in check, but if the Holy Synod is afraid to act, then you have misfits like + Nicolai and + Tikhon (retired) doing as they want via intimidation. A Head Council of the OCA must be formed to which all bishops and priests are accountable. This council should be comprised of lay people, bishops and priests. Someone like + Nicolai would be reviewed, punished and/or removed. Leaving this totally up to other impotent bishops is ridiculous. I'm glad + Job took the high road. It really is time for someone to take + Nicolai for a long tour of Northern Alaska.
#16 Omni-Boos on 2007-12-22 15:48
It’s not the statutes, it’s the character of the Synod! Remember, the Synod is where disciplinary action takes place against a member. They should be so eager to keep the sanctity of the Church that we don’t need statutes to tell us how bishops should act and what to do when one runs amok. These guys had no problem disciplining Nikolai’s predecessor, Innocent! There’s precedent that shows this is a function of the Synod. Now they’re like deer caught in the headlights demonstrating that there’s really nothing they can do and the one person who tries gets threatened with a trip to the ecclesiastical guillotine! Which is it boys? The problem is that, save Job, you have a Synod that’s missing a very vital anatomical part or a severe lack of faith in God because they seem to always submit to the disruptive and soul destroying elements in this Church, namely Herman and Nikolai. Look at this. We have a do nothing, useless bishop in Eastern PA who’s concerned about an ecclesiology of the internet when we have this kind of garbage going on in Alaska or even one of his own priests using the sacraments as a weapon for people to act according to his whims. In case you’re reading this, Tikhon, take a look at what’s going on in Bethlehem in between your studies of how to make it anti canonical to sound out on the internet! You will be measured how you handle those situations and not the length of your beard. That’s merely symbolic, but your actions are very real and your actions condemn you to be totally unworthy of your position. Period!
It’s not the statutes, it’s the Bishops. Time and time again we come back to the same problem. It’s not the laity, its not Eric, its not Mark, its not Job, its not Sidebottom. The problem rests squarely with an episcopate that every day becomes more of a mockery of what the Orthodox episcopate is about that is bordering, if not already crossed over, being a sacrilege. Until these guys either meet Jesus or have their feet held to the fire by the good in the Church so that it overpowers the tremendous forces of darkness and evil (read Herman and Nikolai) nothing is going to happen. You can only imagine what some of these weak guys think, shaking in their klobuks whenever Nikolai opens his mouth. Who knows who is going to be the next target of his manaical wrath. The Church, and the people in Alaska can attest to this, is being held hostage by this guy. Did Job have to bow down to Nikolai because the rest of the Synod wouldn’t support him in his trying to clean this up? That is a thought that disturbs me tremendously and is a serious indictment on how this Church is being led. Almost makes me wish that Job refused and suffered whatever they unwarrantly threw at him. If they dared to depose him they would have put the final nail in the coffin of the OCA let own cementing their own condemnation.
How on earth can we, in total honesty, talk to non Orthodox about this being the true and right faith when we have this garbage going on? We can’t! If this is truth, people are going to think if the Truth is what they want to seek! These guys are an impediment not only to growth and spreading our faith, but they are even being soul destroying forces to those that are in the Church already. Under these guys they have become more powerful as the Church consistently decreases in size. But that doesn’t matter as long as the bishop is treated like an earthly prince and they use the history and tradition of the Church to beat us over the head that this is how they should be treated. It’s disgusting.
Bottom line is that the entire Synod is Godless save Job and they are making him pay the price for living up to the professions of faith he took at his consecration. You can probably ask any of the others what is even contained in that profession and you’d get a stare back so blank you’d think you were asking them about String Theory! I wonder how they can look at themselves in the mirror knowing that they are mocking the positions they hold, let alone dishonoring their namesake. Do they understand what their namesakes did to be come saints?! Never will we have to convene the canonization committee for this bunch! They are people who are more concerned about their own well being and that you do what you can to make them comfortable than being fighters for the Lord and the forces of good. They live by the pact that one bishop doesn’t interfere with another and that will be reciprocated not because of any canonical grounds. That’s the way they are able to continue the carnage in their own fiefdom which is the destruction of this church! In fact, there’s a very good argument that they don’t even know what they are supposed to do as bishops other than wear ornate vestments, have a beard to their belly, walk with a stick in their hand, and have people bow down and kiss their hands. That stick in their hands is merely to remind us that if we do not fall in line with their Godless actions we’re going to get beaten over the head with it. We are left thinking they are more interested in the vanity of the job rather than the substance of the job. That is the problem and until we get a bunch of God fearing men in there that have an inkling of what the Church is about and have a personal relationship with the Lord that things are not going to get better. How much kicking and screaming did we witness just to get them to investigate the financial malfeasance in this Church? You’d think we were actually sending them to the lions! Rather than finding what went on we get treated to spin like “innocence and neglect” that is insulting our very sensibilities.
It disgusts me to no end that two days before we celebrate the birth of our Lord that we are discussing the complete lack of fidelity to Him by our bishops. In two days these men are going to go through the motions and talk all celebratory over the birth of our Lord and Savior and then go back to disregarding any of his commandments in the governance of His Church! As we approach the incarnation of the Lord, it should be disgusting to all around that the laity have to fight tooth and nail to keep Him the center of this Church and fight the actions of a Godless group of men who were, sadly to say, what we allowed to be chosen to be the protectors of this Church. I ask, what exactly are they protecting because it bears no resemblance to what they should be?
Nevertheless, a very merry Christmas to all!
#16.1 Stonewall on 2007-12-23 11:38
Stonewall, I believe +Job chose to bow down, not that he had to bow down, to +Nikolai. Most of us would not choose to do what +Job did, but I believe +Job may have deliberately foiled the plan of his tormenters to goad him into resisting, and their intention to then remove him and follow through in securing his diocese for other persons and purposes. Perhaps it was more important to +Job to protect the clergy and faithful of his diocese than to follow his normal impulse, which probably would have been to tell +Nikolai to take a long walk off a short pier.
You are very rough on +Tikhon of EPA, and to be honest, although he is a good man, I think he deserves what you said about him. The fact is that Bp. Tikhon has been approached on numerous occasions, by many different members of the Bethlehem parish, to do something constructive about a whole string of incidents which have never been publicized the way the power play with the Eucharist was publicized. In one case that I know of, Bp. Tikhon was present and was asked to make a decision, and was unable to utter a single word. I do not like saying this, because I do like Bp. Tikhon very much, and believe he is intelligent as well as a decent man, but my observations tell me too that he has been a dismal failure at taking care of his flock.
#16.1.1 cate on 2007-12-23 21:11
Would the good people of EPA have picked Tikhon as their ruling bishop if he wasn't foisted upon them being the auxillary under Herman? While he may be a great guy, he's just an auxilary lacky for Herman, just as Benjamin was for Tikhon, and how the plan was to make Isidore the lacky for Nikolai, as Nikolai was for MT in Alaska, as Nikon was for MT in New England. None of these men were the choice of their diocese, they were put there to keep the club and its corruption intact and when presented to the people were they going to go against them? No. It's rigged just as this garbage about the interference in another diocese is garbage. The fact is that this Church has no semblence of a Church when you rise up above the parish level. The faith in God above decreases greatly the higher up the ranks you go.
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2007-12-24 08:32
Bishop Nikon is much loved by many in the Diocese of New England. Whatever nonsense you may be insinuating, DNE was without a ruling bishop for 15 years, and that canonically unhealthy situation suited quite a number of people, especially those with close ties to the ruling clique in Syosset, just fine. Hence the numerous difficulties that he is facing in the DNE. If you are aware of any "preserved corruption" in our diocese, please present your facts. Otherwise, don't speak off the cuff, especially when you don't have the guts to sign your name.
#220.127.116.11.1 Inga Leonova on 2007-12-25 21:13
"Perhaps it was more important to +Job to protect the clergy and faithful of his diocese than to follow his normal impulse, which probably would have been to tell +Nikolai to take a long walk off a short pier."
and here you have also put your finger on the answer to the question, why are so many priests silent? There are more things going on in diocesan and local situations than even the readers of this site know, and the clergy must sometimes pick their battles or consider strategic timing.
#18.104.22.168 a priest's wife on 2007-12-24 09:17
Please dont everyone condemn our Alaskan clergy... not all of them are nicholai's plants...
You must know there is another side to this tragic story...
Think for a minute... that these brave and tortured men are doing what they can to save their people from the evil one.
By staying near their flocks they're protecting them from anyone who would be worse for them.
Keeping them safe from nicholai and his minions is the greatest of duties they can perform and still be there to communicate their parishioners... the faithful who truly belive and do God's Will.
Please... Please... people of Orthodoxy in America stand up for us... we dont have the alternatives and options that alll of you have at your disposal... we cant just go to another church or community... we are stuck with what we have.. there all only three alternatives in the entire state of Alaska.. and two of those are only available in Anchorae itself.
We cant walk or drive...even if we wanted to.. or could afford too... the distances are far to great (it would be like a cross continental trip for you all!) there are no roads, there are no rivers.. only planes... that cost many hundreds if not thousands of dollars one way! yes... one way!
Our Alaskan clergy.. the native priests are protecting us.. they minister to us.. they know that fear that some of post about.. many of them silently pray that we'll be delivered - soon.
To stand up to their bishop would be to deliver their flocks over to the Evil one who wears the mark of an orthodox bishop.
Please tell us how to rid ourselves of our bishop... this man who mistreats us.. who hurts us to the core of our souls.
We need your help and guidance as to how we can take steps to cleanse our church of vile and vulgar evil that permeates it from the Altar steps to word that divides the truth.
Help us now... if you have ever dared to wonder what you can do to help those suffering from persecution as Christians... help us now - Please.
I was there when my dear friend Tatiana was denied the Body and Blood of Christ... not because of anthing sinful.. but rather the sin of one mans ego.
Following that Liturgy I asked ... maybe demanded that I and others be told on what grounds this action could be taken.
Following a nearly three hour conversation by Priest innocent dresdow... he relented and came close to confessing his misdeeds and wrongdoings... he said that this an isssue that should be taken up with bishop who directed him to do so..
the priest did everything but apologize for his actions.. he was (in my eyes) cogniscent of misdeeds and feared for his priesthood at the hands of his bishop. I too believe that he fears for his salvation due to his evil deed.
How is that someone in the personification of nicholai can even attempt to challenge anyone.. especially another canonically consecrated Bishop such as JOB?
EVen worse... how can the Synod let it happen...
This is the mark of Evil One... a sign from God that we should not miss...
Again, I beseech each and everyone of you - all of you.. please help us.. tell me what I can do to petion for depostion or removal of the man named nicholai from the seat of ruling bishop of Alaska.
I ask that Mark Stokoe release my email address to anyone who wishes to offer advice to me/us on how to petition for deposition of our bishop.
#17 Ted Panamarioff on 2007-12-22 17:26
no advice here Ted...only assurance that many of us are praying for the embattled faithful and clergy of Alaska.
#17.1 Valentine on 2007-12-23 16:54
Please post the address of the Academy and Father Paisius in Alaska. I would like to start sending my Alaska money donations over to the Academy and shift it away from the tyrant Nickolai.
A sex offender now tonsured as a reader turns me off.
The Alaskan diocese and the Orthodox people are suffering. As I venerate your holy relics...I pray, " O Holy Father Herman, North Star of Christ's Holy Church, intercede for your Alaskan church and the Alaskan Orthodox faithful!" Lord help us!
#18 unworthy deacon on 2007-12-22 19:54
I am curious to know what Archbishop Job said or did that was distinctively "presbyterian, congregationalist and democratic". Is his perspective really that different from the sixteen centuries of God-fearing bishops who lived before the invention of democracy, congregationalism and presbyterianism? If so, how?
The bishops we recognize as saints admonished and corrected their fellow bishops when it was appropriate. The relationship with the clergy they served with was a relationship of love. They acted as servants rather than lords.
What would St. Basil, St. John, St. Gregory, St. Nicholas, St. Athanasius, St. Jerome or St. Ambrose say if they could speak to the Holy Synod? What do they say in their writings? You do not need to read very far to realize that they would certainly have something to say, and the person they would be rebuking would not be Archbishop Job.
#19 Robert Wachter on 2007-12-23 03:00
There exists within Orthodox theologians a profound wasteland of understanding with regard to Church governance. They use words like "presbyterian" and "democratic" and "congregational" as bludgeons, not tools for better understanding. This pathologically "hierarchical" crowd has no understanding of conciliarity. They consider conciliarity a subservient concept. Their view of Orthodoxy is profoundly medieval and, in fact, un-Orthodox.
#19.1 Anon. on 2007-12-25 09:05
I have a friend who is somewhat inquiring into Orthodoxy. Given time and prayer, the friend may convert.
However, my friend lives in Alaska. How can I with an assured heart tell my friend to become Orthodox?
#20 friend of alaska on 2007-12-23 13:10
Glory to IC XC!
I don’t presume to be able to give you a complete or fully satisfactory answer here. But, I offer what little I may as encouragement.
It might be helpful to keep in mind that sin and scandal are nothing new to the Church. This is the same Church that endured Diotrophes (3rd John v. 9) and -- perhaps somewhat parallel to what we’ve been hearing about -- that endured Alexander the coppersmith whose attack on St. Paul left the Apostle forsaken by his would-be defenders (2 Tim. 4:13-18). And remember that St. Paul warned the Ephesian clergy that some of those clergy themselves would come to speak perverse things and that “savage wolves” would come in among them and ravage the flock (Acts 20:28-38).
With these examples in mind, I guess that -- in a glib manner of speaking -- you could say that our current situation is “Biblical.”
But, more directly to your question, remember that you are not inviting your friend to become a disciple of anyone but Christ Himself. Speak the truth in love. We have faith in the Lord and in the Church as His body. We do not put our faith in our clergy, neither the “good” ones nor the “bad” ones, but in our Savior Jesus.
And if you feel that you need a little encouragement because it seems that the scandal only gets worse and will not end, just remember that the Lord always wins in the End. “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Cor. 3:17).
Let’s add to that encouragement, some precedent: if God can take the murder of an innocent Man who was betrayed by His own “hierarchs” and turn it into the life-giving Resurrection; and if He can turn the great enemy of the Church into His “Apostle to the Gentiles,” certainly He can redeem our sordid affairs and turn around this situation.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
I hope that this helps.
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
St. Nicholas Orthodox Mission Church
#20.1 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2007-12-23 20:36
Thank you so much for these words of encouragement. They've been very helpful to me also, a long-time convert heartbroken over this latest sordid bit of this seemingly endless mess. I'll try to keep the feast trusting in the power of God to fix what seems hopelessly broken, the God who is a "light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn and the daystar arise in your hearts."
Christ is Born!
#20.1.1 Ann McLarnan on 2007-12-24 09:56
I have to believe that His Grace, Bp. Benjamin, has been misinformed about His Eminence, Abp. Job's ideas.
What is called "presbyterian, congregationalist, and democratic" is what the Orthodox throughout history have called "conciliar."
Abp. Job has neither abandoned nor delegated is authority within his diocese. Rather he has consulted his learned and experienced clergy, determined the will of his flock, and then made the decision (which is his to make) about the direction to be taken. The people then rallied around that decision, even though a good portion of the people disagreed with it.
Personally I call that "wise and Godly leadership".
Where do we find the canonical authority of the Metropolitan Primate? What is the canonical role of a "central church administration"?
We need to look back in history and understand these concepts. We need to look to the other autocephalous churches throughout the world and look at their governance. This is not presbyterianism, nor congregationalism, nor democracy. It is called wisdom.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#21 Marty Watt on 2007-12-23 15:39
Why just the partial report from the Holy Synod meeting? Who gave us the information? As disturbing as it sounds, I am sure there is more to the story regarding Bishop Benjamin's quote. I don't doubt that a call for Bishop Job's deposition was made because these threats have been made before, and seem laughable to me at this point... in a disturbing way, of course. Will the minutes of the HS meeting be published on oca.org soon? Was there any chastisement of Bishop Nikolai? What else was talked about? Decided? I don't really think we can discern the truth until we have more information. Let's all take the "high road" (dispassion and humility). Not only is it good for our souls, but then our passionate reactions can't be used against us - adding fuel to the fire and shifting the focus. Love in Christ to all. Best wishes to Ted P.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
#22 Jodie Captein on 2007-12-23 19:43
We the body of the Church... it's lay people need to stand-up against this "crap"!!!!! I am sick of hearing "how the clergy need to take a stand against these bishops." Honestly, I believe all members of the OCA (both clergy and laity) need to stand up against this insanity. Enough is enough!!!
Why are we waiting till the fall of 2008 to come together? We keep complaining about how the bishops are manipulating, controlling, and abusing our OCA and yet we are letting them continue by setting the time and place (and the agenda) of when we should meet and discuss the issues.
Let's set a time and place where we the body of the church can come together (hopefully, way before the fall) and save our Church! It's time to remove the abusers of our church.
No one would allow their children to be left alone with a sex offender as their babysitter... and yet, we let these same fools baby sit our church.
My question to all of you... If the fate of the Orthodox Church in America rested on your shoulders alone... would Orthodoxy survive? If no, then blame only yourself for it's demise!
#23 Just a P.K. on 2007-12-27 20:34
What is called "presbyterian, congregationalist, and democratic" is what the Orthodox throughout history have called "conciliar."
Yes, and when the bishops meet (like at Syosset) they are such a council.
Though accusing +Job of being "presbyterian, congregationalist, and democratic" is pretty stupid and ridiculous. These are, as it is understood in models in church polity, three seperate, and not overlapping, adjectives. One can not be "presbyterian" and "congregationalist" at the same time. Nor can one be "presbyterian"and "democratic" at the same time. In other words, +Job was accused to holding to three seperate church polities, all at the same time!!! Totally absurd....
#24 Anon on 2007-12-29 05:08
I was also taken aback at the appellations used by +Benjamin. Then I check into it a bit more and found out the following: Thee are three church governance models: presbyterian, congregational, and episcopal. The first two seem to be the product of the Reformation, wherein clergy and laity alike rebelled against the excesses of the Roman Church, which was and is using an extreme form of the episcopal model.
It is a historical fact that Martin Luther and other Protestant leaders based their anti-Rome arguments on the Holy Scriptures. This fact has two meanings for us today. First, it is dangerous to interpret outside the Holy Tradition because God knows that the Protestants "threw out the baby with bath water" in many instances. Second, it is also very dangerous to elevate tradition with a small "t" to the level of real, Scriptural based, capital "T" tradition because you may be keeping the bathwater but not the Baby.
It seem to me that the argument against the episcopal form of church governance is based on Scripture, particularly on Saints Peter and Paul's teachings regarding the standing of Christians, whether they may be bishops, priests, deacons or laity. They used phrases and images, like "members of His body" and "the royal priesthood," that the Protestants ran away with. They made the point, with which most of would agree with, that there are not two separate kinds of Christians, the clergy and the laity, that the Roman Church was teaching at that time. It should safe for an Orthodox Christian to say that the Protestants had a point there, that the distinction is not of "substance" but of "function." In other words, "the royal priesthood" of all believers does not mean that each believer is a priest. Rather, it means that we are all equal before the Cup and before Him and we are set apart from the world to be part of His body, His Church. Like Saint Paul said, aside from the fact that our Lord is the Head of this body, each part is equally important to the composition and completeness of the body.
Indeed, OCA's own Statute has made an attempt to move away from the Roman type of church governance, to move closer to what the Holy Tradition (with a capital "T) calls for. However, judging from the way the Statute went only part of the way to a truly Orthodox form of episcopal modality; despotic actions by bishops like +Herman and +Nikolai; and comments from bishops like +Benjamin, it is clear that we have a long way to go. Making the problem worse is the fact that most of the Orthodox Churches are following an episcopal model closer to Rome's than the one that is hinted at in the OCA statute.
Folks, in times of crises of authority, it is always much easier for people in positions of authority to circle the wagons and fight off the challenges. I commend +Job for daring to be a true pastor to his flock and not joining his fellow bishops in this matter. On the other hand, it is difficult to criticize bishops like +Benjamin, +Nikon, and +Seraphim, who may be guilty of nothing more than caution and perhaps fear of being badly thought of by fellow bishops. Yes, we have "company men" in every profession, and our episcopate is no different. That does not make them the same as the rotten apples.
On the other hand, our confessional prayer lumps together acts of omission with those of commission.
#24.1 Carl on 2008-01-04 13:24
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