Thursday, January 10. 2008
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This quote from the story gives pause:
If anything, Dushkin is under greater supervision as a reader than as a regular member of the church, Isidore said. "It keeps him at the altar.
Funny. I've been a Reader for 13 years and I have NEVER been "at the altar". It's not my job, as a Reader.
As far as "great supervision", I consult with my priest about readings, etc. That's it.
Greater supervision? Keeping in the altar?
This is pure and unredeemed foolishness, and NOT the kind that glorifies God.
#1 Rdr. Kevin Nikolai Payne on 2008-01-10 13:27
Totally scandalous and blatantly irresponsible! Where is the outrage? Where is the accountability and oversight within our church? Where is the Synod of Bishops? Where is our metropolitan? It seems to me just another example of the spiritual poverty and gross incompetence of our bishops and leaders. Of course people are redeemable but that certainly doesn't mean that they are ready for holy orders especially with such a short track record! He wants to be a reader? Maybe, but let him be faithful for a number of years first. How reckless and unwise!
#2 Andrew A. Lukashonak on 2008-01-10 13:39
And the Clergy and Laity in Alaska say nothing, do nothing...kind of like at the Diocesan Assembly in Anchorage; complicity here in Alaska had become the status quo. I have actually been told by our priest, on multiple occasions, at the bank and grocery store here that I am sinning by "willfully staying away from the assembly", if that makes me a sinner, then what does it make the clergy who are complicit by their silence?
#3 Moses on 2008-01-10 14:02
In the diocese of alaska, the majority of the Priests live in villages that have no jobs. They serve the church faithfully and minister to the faithful as best they can with very little. theirs may be one of the only steady jobs available (though the pay is often embarassing) and the house their families live in belongs to the church. They have families to support though and cannot speak up for fear of being suspended or deposed. Many suspensions have been handed out for seemingly minor offenses. Many have very low opinions of +Nikolai and his domestic partner the chancelor but have as little contact with him as they can manage. Without a synod or a metropolitan to back them up, they can do nothing against this despot. To whom can they voice their complaint? those who have done anything are crushed. +Nikolai's protodeacon quit soon after the sex offender tonsure and now is suspended and waiting for a court date to be deposed. Other clergy out there who would like to say something will watch and most likely again choose to stay silent when the deacon is destroyed for standing up. There is nowhere for these men to go. No other juristictions have a presence in Alaska except for the Anchorage and Homer areas. Where those juristictions do have a presence, the OCA churches are emptying pretty fast. The church in Alaska will be destroyed or at the very least badly injured by the reign of the current bishop. The humble orthodox people of Alaska suffer quietly but do not be decieved by the silence, their suffering is real and if there was an outlet for it, their cries for help would be felt.
#3.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-16 14:55
As the son of a confirmed narcissist and alcoholic, and as one who's confession has been heard by the former priest Nikolai, I am quite certain that:
1) Bishop NIKOLAI has narcissistic personality disorder
2) Archimandrite Isidore is his mirror
These people .... have no idea how deceived they have been and continue to be. Their former "father" Bishop TIKHON (Fitzgerald) cultivated these ....men under his own cold-hearted wickedness.
Those who suffer in Alaska... will have their crowns for their suffering. Let them continue to acquire the Spirit of Peace as the father of lies vainly tortures them.
As these people are supposed to be MONKS, I wish them a good repentance. As God mercifully continues to give them breath and rain on them (as He rains on both the good and the evil), by His grace may they wake up from their "heavy sleep of indolence" before it is too late.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.
The deacon who spoke up might be "destroyed" in a worldly sense, but his soul will be saved. That is what counts.
Anonymous - only to save a certain good man from further grief.
#3.1.1 Anonymous in the Midwest on 2008-01-17 20:00
No surprises here! Did we expect any different? The unaccountable and sacramentally derelict +Nikolai of Alaska continues to act in violation of cannon laws and Scriptures and do as he pleases in his "fiefdom." He is proving, once again, that OCA bishops can say and do anything they please without any accountability to anyone. After all, Terenty Dushkin, the convicted ADULT sexual predator was only found guilty of THREE (3) sexual FELONIES with respect to minors in 2003 and 2004, just 3 years ago:
(1) One Class B felony - 6/24/2004
AS11.41.436(A)(1) Description: Sexual Abuse of Minor 2
(2) One Class C felony - 9/22/2003
AS11.41.438(A)(1) Description: Sex Abuse Minor 3-contact 13-15,3 yr dif
(3) One Class B felony - 12/26/2003
AS11.41.455(A)(3) Description: Exploit Minor-make porn, adlt touch chld
SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!
What message is +Nikolai sending to Dushkin, to his victims, their families, the parish, the entire community, the Diocese of Alaska, the entire OCA, all of the United States and the entire world (courtesy of the Internet)? What does it say about the kind of judgment this hierarch is making in honoring a Convicted and Registered Sex Offender by elevating him to the rank of Reader?
And in the face of this travesty and outrageous decision we have complete public silence from the +Herman, the entire Holy Synod, and the MCA.
Does anyone honestly believe that +Nikolai of Alaska will ever be called to task for the abuses, corruption, and spiritual destruction he is spreading in his dioceses? Has anyone seen or heard anyone in the OCA leadership or in the Holy Synod publicly dare to challenge the unchristian, egomaniacal, and power-mad conduct of +Nikolai and rise to the defense and protection of the innocent priests, seminarians, and lay men and women terrorized and abused by him?
How much longer will the Church in Alaska be allowed to languish and implode under the unaccountable, abusive, and unethical tyranny of a man who betrayed his calling and besmirched his office multiple times? This hierarch is squandering the legacy and heritage of St. Herman and St. Innocent and scattering and abusing the sheep he has sworn to protect and defend with his life. The Orthodox saints in America must be weeping!
Without real due process, real accountability and oversight of their duties and actions why should our derelict and dysfunctional "first" hierarch and his administration, and the power mad and tyrannical +Nikolai of Alaska, change their ways? The spiritual cancer in the OCA continues to spread and destroy the Church and scatter Christ's sheep.
The OCA continues to give band-aids to a patient who needs a heart transplant.
This is yet another example of Nikolai giving the Synod and the rest of the Church the middle finger ...or should I say "hierarchal, exalted, blessed and glorified all-holy middle finger which if you don't kiss it you will burn in hell for all eternity"!
- When Herman wanted to award the mitre to RK a few years ago, the synod said no.... Later Nikolai gives his shadow Isidore a mitre.
- When Nikolai was brought under investigation for Alaska "irregularities", he had the audacity to bring deposition charges against Archbishop Job.
- When Nikolai himself is at the center of sexual abuse charges, he goes out and tonsures a convicted sex offender.
The canons are clear, bishops who ordain convicted criminals must be deposed . NIKOLAI MUST BE DEPOSED IMMEDIATELY before his flagrant and un-Orthodox actions destroy even more souls in Alaska and what's left of the OCA. Who will stand up and defend our Church?
#4.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-10 15:12
The entire situation is so Twilight Zone:
The Mitered Archimandrite, Chancellor of the Diocese, giving the interview while he himself has been at the center of very serious sexual misconduct allegations. No scandal? Hey, that line worked for him and his boss this summer.
The overkill of Fr. Isidore's acting offended that people are offended.
The blatant disregard not only for the canons and the OCA Statutes, but for the respectability of the Orthodox Church and the welfare and safekeeping of it's members.
The consulting with an attorney before tonsuring Dushkin. When you have to check with a lawyer first, that's a big clue that what you're planning is probably the wrong thing to do.
The inability of the central church to even comment on the appropriatness of a bishop tonsuring a convicted sex
The bizarre comment by Fr. Isidore that they basically didn't care that the Roman Catholics had the pants sued off them for keeping sex offenders in their ranks. Heck, the Orthodox do better than that, we recruit them!
And lastly, the oh so condescending remark about how the church doesn't operate based on public opinion (translation: Bishop Nikolai does not care what the "little people" say.)
#4.1.1 Deer One on 2008-01-10 22:29
Apparently, the only bishops the Synod is interesting in deposing are the honest variety -- and there appears to be only one of those.
#4.1.2 Greg Denysenko on 2008-01-14 12:15
Does anyone need to hear more or see more why Bishop Nicolai should be deposed immediately? His own priests avoid him; the faithful hate him; St. Herman's has been destroyed because of him and now this nonsense. What more needs to happen? Oh, there's no OCA statute for removing him you say? + Herman has no backing? Well, how does the OCA handle this now?
#5 Diogenese on 2008-01-10 14:05
Another black mark on the OCA. IN NJ, this man would have to be register under our state's Megan laws. This is done to protect children from these molesters. I agree that these criminals can be forgiven for their sins but they are never really cured of their disease. May God protect the children in the Alaska Diocese.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-01-10 16:10
To an unchurched person (which is to say, a hungry person) coming into the Church, this sadness will be seen as yet another instance of the irrelevance of organized religion, in fact as further proof that all religion exists merely to hoodwink the credulous and the fearful. And if I were to attempt to explain it away as an example of the ingrained misbehavior of a few old-guard types who will eventually die off, this is just another chance for the would-be convert to decide that Orthodoxy is just a strange little ethnic club with its own benighted ideas about authority and obedience, and go to the more “relevant”, “inclusive” church down the street. Why throw a block such as this in the way of someone in need? Why make people go hungry?
#7 Stop hurting my Church on 2008-01-10 16:32
Brothers, and sisters in Christ. This story bothers me, but the response I see here are painful. Let me ask, is this about the Bishop, or a reader? The young man is abused and treated with violent words, but, is your hatred for him? Or is it for a Bishop? Perhaps, it is true that because of the crises of recent months and years, anything your Bishop did would be attacked. However, I would dare to ask what this young Reader has done to you to deserve murder?
A friend of mine, when discussing an issue of divorce, suggested that the "Jesus definition" of adultery could be phrased like this.
"to look upon any person other than your spouse with desire"
the same friend then challenged the elders of his Church as to whether they could confess to being utterly innocent of such a sin.
Yes, this new Reader sinned, and he got caught, and he was punished publically. He has 'served his time'.
NONE of us is privy to the confessional, none of us can truly know the condition of another man's heart, nor his standing before his Saviour.
How DARE we stand in judgement?
As I recall, the purpose of this website is to "inform members of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) of the origins, nature and scope of allegations concerning financial misconduct at the highest levels of the central church administration of the OCA by providing news and supporting documentation about the scandal;"
I do not think that we serve any of the above purposes, nor do we enhance our own image as Discipes of Jesus, by speaking so harshly about another believer.
Please, let us indeed pray for this young man, let us pray with sincerity and love, that this will prove to be for his salvation, and not for a stumbling block.
Please, sit back and think, yes, there is a scandal, yes, the men at all levels of authority of the Church have made mistakes, yes, many of them continue to be denying these mistakes. Yes, we as a community have a duty to search for the truth in these matters.
but, we are not an inquisition, and since none of us are yet perfect or without sin, perhaps we should be a bit slower to look for large stones to throw.
#8 Rdr Timothy on 2008-01-10 16:44
re your comments "However, I would dare to ask what this young Reader has done to you to deserve murder?... How DARE we stand in judgement?"
Speaking the truth and making reference to the Public Record of a Registered Sexual Offenders is equivalent to "murder"?What? Just posting the truth of the actual MULTIPLE Statutory Rapes of this ADULT male is "judging him"? Are you kidding me?
So now another reader (I assume Orthodox) becomes a public APOLOGIST and DEFENDER of an ADULT Convicted Statutory Rapists who had sex with young girls as yojng as 13 and 14! You sir are yet another example of the types of specimens that continue to infect the Church and perpetuate the massive spiritual crisis and evil we're all struggling to fight against.
Chris & All, this type of argument is designed to pillory all who disagree with you. Well, I disagree with you, and I'm no defender of the bishop, and do not come to the defense of the convicted offender.
But you frame your argument as though your response is the only legitimate one. I should like to say that such "outrage" and "indigination" as you express are often covers for self-righteousness, which is all Rdr. Timothy was trying to point up.
I know: I often succumb to the same thing. Outraged indignation doesn't suffice as a replacement for "Judge not..." This is not your bishop, this is not your diocese, this is not your Reader, the girls are not your children. I'm not yet convinced that this is our business, although I know that in saying that aloud I will be denounced as guilty of being soft on sin and sex and abuse, which is ridiculous.
I'm greatly troubled by this for the same reasons as you. But Rdr. T. deserved none of your excoriations as he came to the defense of no sin, but merely of another's treatment, which in Christianity is of importance.
In fact, as you all know, this issue is fraught with great disagreements politically within society vis a vis how offenders are to be handled after jailtime. Don't pretend like there are not disagreements amongst people of good will as to these issues. Another said, as a fact, offenders are never cured. Must be nice to know so much.
The young reader is in need of forgiveness and healing as well as his punishment, and to say so does not mean that one defends his actions, or that the victims are not worthy of proper and just reperations and protection. But this is an issue for the Alaskan authorities and the bishop -- who is still the bishop regardless of your views -- and not for this forum.
That this forum so often sinks into such a teeming swirl of outrage and anger and vehemence indicates that ill-motivations have seeped in. Too many here would like to manage the bishops, and if they don't do what they want, they are most evil and vile. Hogwash. But that's what happens when leadership squanders trust and authority, which some most certainly have.
I look forward to reading remarks that don't sound like my hometown newspaper.
Rdr. T. John Edson
#8.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-11 16:31
Rdr. T. John:
I agree with you completely that compassion needs to be shown to the reader in question. In situations like that it is a psychological sickness and should be dealt with in a Christian way. While it is inappropriate to have any leadership position in the Church, he should be encouraged in every way possible to live a good Orthodox Christian life. Let's be honest here - his reader was used by Nikolai as an "in your face" gesture to the synod. He is yet another victim of "papa".
However, it is completely wrong for you to lecture anyone for criticizing a bishop, especially when his action is in fact a wrong one. I know there are some Orthodox faithful, many of whom tend to be from Protestant backgrounds, who take the "authority" of the bishop to be much more, very un-Orthodox, from what it truly is (in fact, some bishops regrettably promote this ideology to build-up their own "power"). The bishops are called from among the laity to lead the Church through example, service, humility, respect and love. A true bishop strives to fulfill that which he swears at his consecration to the hierarchy: to preach the Gospel and to uphold the Holy Canons of the Church at all times, etc. A true Orthodox bishop is never a despot, never a "ruler" in the master/servant sense, never a supreme authority. Christ is the supreme authority. The bishop ought be one who leads by example, as a servant of Christ.
I assume by now your response is to repeat your pre-stated arguement that critics on this forum are just self-righteous, un-Christian, and hateful people. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but the simple fact is that Nikolai broke the rules, and according to the rules it is the responsibility of the synod of bishops to hold him accountable. It is not just "an issue for the Alaskan authorities and the bishop." The synod of bishops must discipline a hierarch who, simply stated, breaks the rules. In many instances, the Canons even go so far as to say that disciplinary actions should be take if there is even the "appearance" of impropriety so as not to subject the Church to humiliation and criticism. And we are yet to see the OCA synod do ANYTHING about this bishop in Alaska who repeatedly openly breaks the rules. (He had a controversial history long before coming to the OCA, and how he is even a bishop today is still a mystery in itself, but it does explain some of the scandals up there.)
We, the clergy and laity, have a responsibility to support our bishops in administering the Church. To say that any bishop's actions in adminstering the Church are none of our business is theologically wrong. Bishops are not gods on earth, nor are they without human characteristics such as jealousy, revenge, selfishness and the like. We don't judge them for it, but we cannot simply accept that flagrant behavior either, especially when it stands to insult, humiliate and rape the Church of its holiness.
I don't know you, but I assume you mean well. Believe me, I know that nobody would accuse me of being the perfect Orthodox Christian. But I try my best to do what I can, and I in the very least expect my bishops to do the same too. And when they choose to do the wrong thing for the wrong reasons, it hurts all of us.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2008-01-11 21:49
I am amazed that up til now nobody has posed the question of how evident psychopaths become bishops. A number of years ago this subject appeared on the Indiana List concerning the (Ethnic) bishop of Panama, his connections with (ethnic) shipping interests, drug cover-ups, and what have you. Among other things discussed was the price he had to pay to his superiors at the moment of consecration: I think the figure was $25,000. I happen to know a young deacon here whose ordination to priesthood is blocked because he cannot offer the (ethnic)bishop $10,000. My written shock at simony in the first instance on the Indiana List was stifled by the oca Bishop of the West pooping on me from a great height, declaring that such gifts were part of the tradition. How do psychopaths become bishops?--they BUY their way in. And where do they get the money? Aha! That's for them to know and us to find out.
#22.214.171.124.1 hierodeacon Amvrosi on 2008-01-12 18:57
"This is not your bishop, this is not your diocese, this is not your reader, the girls are not your daughter." Interesting quote, reader. Try this interesting quote: "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." St. Paul 1st Corinthians 12:26. You claim to be a reader. Do you actually comprehend what you read? The man wounded by thieves was none of the Good Samaritan's business. But I note that the religious authorities were happy to leave the poor sod bleeding in the ditch. None of their business. Maybe there was a reader along with the priest and the Levite, and it wasn't his business, either.
I grow weary of apologies, excuses and justifications for the evil act of a wicked bishop, and of attacks instead upon those who are properly appalled by the evil act of a wicked bishop. Is that judging? Here's another quote from St. Paul. "But rather I wrote to you not to associate with anybody who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is a reviler, drunkard or robber-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Drive out the wicked person from among you."" St. Paul !st Corinthians 5:11-13. (If you don't like it, argue with St. Paul, not with me.) Now, the wicked one in this sorry case is not the young man who committed the crimes. He may indeed have repented and we should assume that he has, until we know otherwise. Rather, the wicked person here is the crazed excuse for a bishop who put this poor man in a very dangerous place, and is likely setting him up for a grievous fall. But that's okay, because it's not my diocese, right? Look reader, it's the Body of Christ. It's everybody's business. What about all of us being members of one Body do you not understand? Now, although I think you are desperately wrong in this, I respect you for posting an opinion here that you had to know would be unpopular, and I respect you even more for having the courage to put your name on it. I hate the place that this sorry mess has taken us, where people of good faith slug it out. These are sad times for us all.
#126.96.36.199 Scott Walker on 2008-01-12 22:31
While you look at the "Jesus definition" of adultery, please also see what Our Lord says about anyone who "offends these little ones".
Repentance is necessary for forgiveness. Repentance is not merely saying one feels sorry, in private or in public.
Repentance is turning the opposite direction. How right you are that we do not know anything about Terenty Dushkin's repentance. If we are to accept him as a reader in the Church, God's people do need to know about it, if there is any. But all we know about instead is the Chancellor's dismissing of these heinous crimes as 'youthful indiscretions."
When perverted evil crimes against innocent victims are committed and become publicly known, the correct response is not for Church spokesmen to dismiss them as "youthful indiscretions" while promoting the perpetrator to an honoured position in God's Holy Church. It is not to arrogantly proclaim that the Church is not interested in 'public opinion' while taking no consideration of the opinion of the victims and their families and of all the faithful people standing by with fears for their own children.
Rather, a wise confessor of a truly penitent sinner would direct that person to the example of St. Mary of Egypt. She who admitted her favorite sin was to corrupt the youthful was barred from even entering the church temple by the Theotokos herself. In true penitence Mother Mary confessed her sinfulness and embarked upon a lifelong "recovery program" in a desert place where she would not be tempted again to harm others.
When we cry out to our hierarchy to save us from such wolves, they preach at us of 'forgiveness'. The Theotokos did not speak to Mary when she came to the Church but took action to protect the sanctity of the church and to convert the sinner. Most Holy Theotokos and Holy Mary of Egypt save us!
#8.2 Valentine on 2008-01-10 19:41
Reader Timothy, let's say you're the CEO of a bank, and you need to hire a new manager for the local branch. If one of the applicants had previously served time for embezzlement from his previous employer, would you hire him? I think you'd be derelict in your duties if you did. To say that you should not place someone who was convicted of embezzlement in charge of a whole lot of money is not judging him, it's not commenting on his salvation, it's not committing violence against him. It's simply being prudent.
Likewise, if you were operating a winery, you probably wouldn't want to put a recovering alcholic in charge of the tasting room. That's not judging the condition of their heart, or the quality of their repentance. Again, it's just being prudent.
And it is not prudent to elevate a convicted sex offender to a position of public authority and responsibility. It just isn't.
#8.3 Josephine on 2008-01-10 20:34
Your argument is getting so tired. "We are all sinners, don't be judgmental." It's been repeated over and over again that while we may condemn no one, we are responsibile for pointing out and trying to correct wrong-doing. I see no hate in the above comments. I do see outrage for the way the faithful of Alaska are being treated, and an outcry for something to be done. I think it quallifies as righteous indignation. I't getting to the point that something needs to be done. I love the suggestion that priests of the OCA camp out in front of the chancery, fasting, praying and pleading with Met. H. to resign. It's an idea I've had myself -- my variation of the idea is a Gandian fast to the death--a vow to break the fast only when Met. Herman agreed to retire/resign. However, I'm a afraid I would be lying on the steps dead and the Met would still be in place. So I haven't done it. But it's really getting to the point that all of us clergy must take a stand, renounce our anonimity and beg our bishops PUBLICLY to do something--ie. act like bishops and start proceedings to depose the bishop of Alaska and to somehow force Met. Herman from the scene.
#8.4 AnonPriest on 2008-01-10 21:44
This guy is from a poltically connected Alaska Native family with "purse strings"; another example of the ANCSA (ALaska Native Land CLaims Settlment Act) new Native Oligarchy that have arisen in our communities since 1971. I believe in second chances and forgiveness too, but man o' man, this dude does not represent the majority of our people, he is part of a small political elite that acts with impunity in the political, economic, cultural, and now religous spheres of our lives and communities. Over on the forum someone made this very good point:
"The reader in the village will baptize ... the parents wait for the
priest to chrismate on his circuit to town, or they will have him
chrismated when they fly to Anchorage for other purposes.
Nativity, Pascha, all the services, Vespers, Orthros, etc., are by the
Skip the litanies replaced with LHM 12 or 40 times ... Obednitsa is
what they have all the time.
Its like an Old Believer priestless village -- the elder, this reader,
is the community leader.
Counselor. Catechist. Leader of prayers.
The role of the reader may be minimal in the Lower 48 where he does
nearly nothing without the priest, and in fact in the GOA readers
services were forbidden (though things unwritten change frequently),
but we have to see this in the context -- socially, culturally,
historically ... the reader is a big deal in Alaska. It was
missionized by lay people before any priest came to Alaska."
#8.5 Moses on 2008-01-10 21:51
Moses makes an excellent point. In Alaska, the role of "reader" has become much more involved than that we experience in the lower 48.
Another thought that came to mind - I am imagining those divorced faithful among us who seek the priesthood flocking to Alaska. After all, the bishop is willing to overlook the faults of people, and forgive them.......if we can overlook the fact that this young man has broken the law by having sex with younger women, why is it so different for us to overlook a bad marriage, where most likely no law has been broken?
Alaska has had enough instances of molestation and condoned abuse of all sorts through the years. Those who have tried to "set things right" have been villified. Isn't it time for someone to finally be strong enough to end it?
#8.5.1 Michelle C. on 2008-01-11 08:51
I wholeheartedly agree that the young man should not be ridiculed or in any way further humiliated. I can only assume he came to be a reader with the best personal intentions. However, the larger problem is the hierarchal decision here.
The Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils of the Church passed canons to be ignored? The OCA synod passed Sexual Abuse Regulations (with much public notice of such) to be ignored? What we have here is a sickness that many feel is growing among our hierarchs that THEY MAKE the rules. THEY ARE the ultimate authority. THEY ARE THE CHURCH! That is NOT hierarchal leadership. Any convert from Roman Catholicism will easily recognize that as papal rule.
And then when a responsible bishop (there's a contradiction of terms these days) such as Archbishop Job dares to encourage discussion of hierarchal abuses in the synod he is the one to be threatened and mistreated by his so-called "brother" bishops.
If this is the state of our church today, what gives us any reason to believe we can be an American Patriarchate?! This synod can't even handle one out of control bishop in Alaska. And it is sad that those of us parishioners who try our best to be good Orthodox suffer this humiliation too.
#8.6 Anonymous on 2008-01-10 21:51
Put not your trust in princes, in son of man, in whom there is no help. When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day his plans perish. (Ps 146:3-4)
Perhaps our Lord has warned us about those we treat as princes, our bishops. He tells us that they are no help and He knows. Anonymous, you say “a responsible bishop (there's a contradiction of terms these days) such as Archbishop Job” but I say even he has betrayed those under his authority. Has he held a diocesan meeting or written anything to describe why he felt all the conditions set forth have been fulfilled? Whatever happened to that “investigative” committee? Is this a confirmation that it was a scam? Is he now going to surrender to evil forces and feed one of the monsters that has corrupted his beloved church?
I feel hopeless and betrayed by my church. First my hopelessness in hearing that the midwest is releasing the funds without word as to whether the conditions were satisfied and, second, betrayed when my local paper today described in detail the travesty that occurred in Alaska. I am saddened and appalled! We are avid church attendees and my neighbors know of my church and are reading the same paper. I am ashamed.
I visited Alaska not too long ago and loved all those old churches that dot the countryside since we visited as many as we could. Do not put your trust in princes!! How is it possible that a group of men can let the work of St. Herman and other saints of North America deteriorate into the scum and horror it has become. Gal 6:7 tells us: Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
How is it a group of men can continue to control an entire church with no regard to their flock. How is it that a group of men who are incompetent in saving souls can be in charge of them. “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (Matt 25:30) Not much for us to look forward to but at least there I’ll know that these bishops got exactly what they, as worthless servants, deserved by the way they took care of the church and it’s flock.
(Editor's Note: The Archbishop has just posted a letter in which he answers some of these questions.)
#8.6.1 Also a worthless servant but not pretending to be anything else! on 2008-01-11 14:02
I wrote the above and then I just read the Archbishop’s letter. I was overcome by his words. How can he exist among wolves in sheep’s clothing? I applaud him and his efforts and can only marvel at how fortunate you are in the midwest.
I am sickened by the other bishops who did not defend Archbishop Job when confronted by Nicholai. What nerve Nicholai had to attack Archbishop Job when his own diocese is shamed in newspapers throughout the country. What disgraceful behavior. How can any of these bishops (excluding Archbishop Job) show their face in public knowing that their complacency is allowing this to continue? How will any of our flock see these men and not remember the torment they have put us through? Is this how they lead by example? They should ALL bow down in front of the Altar (not to each other) and ask God for forgiveness in allowing all the sex and money scandals to continue in His church. ........
May God grant you Archbishop Job many years to continue “the good fight.” There are many of us out here praying for you.
#188.8.131.52 Still A Worthless Servant on 2008-01-11 20:04
I GET what your saying, and I agree. I also knew that you would then be accused of "defending sex abuse."
God bless you my friend.
#8.7 fdr on 2008-01-11 07:06
I think you are all missing the point:
Those who do speak out, those who object, those who even avoid +Nikolai, are penalised. They exist, and they carry on in spite of those penalties, but their pleas for help from the Church at large - like that of Paul Sidebottom - are dismissed, either off hand or after a pathetic semblance of an investigation. Now, one of the very men involved is the one who is dismissing as insignificant the problems seen by others in the tonsure of Terenty Dushkin? Him, sounds like the cat who ate the canary is purring away contentedly, not even ashamed.
BAD OLE PUTTY TAT!
Sadly, the only functional remedy for the faithful of AK is to leave the OCA. But then, those who have gone to the Bulgarians in Kodiak have been penalised for that too.
#9 Anonymous on 2008-01-10 16:53
#10 Anonymous on 2008-01-10 18:21
DIES IRAE, DIES ILLA, CALAMITATIS ET MISERIAE
JESUS WEPT (John 11:35)
Adjectives and adverbs fail to adequately describe the debauched state of the OCA in Alaska under the "leadership" of its current bishop. Even worse, if possible, is the utter failure of the OCA Synod to do anything about it. This situation, if allowed to continue, will become a judgment upon the OCA leadership that could even lead to a departure of the Holy Spirit from this withered branch of Christ's Church!
Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna in die illa tremenda!
#11 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-01-10 22:03
What on earth is with the Latin? I know what it means, but why not just write in English so "all are edified?" Mama mia!
Rdr. T. John
#11.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-11 16:39
Great. It looks like Bishop NIKOLAI, along with Metropolitan HERMAN, is saying with Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost: "Evil, be thou my good."
In addition, I think I missed a story - the conversion of Bishop NIKOLAI to Roman Catholicism!
How do I come to this conclusion? Why, by using the "duck test".
If he moves like a Roman Catholic bishop, and talks like a Roman Catholic bishop, and acts like a Roman Catholic bishop....he must BE a Roman Catholic bishop!
Now, for you satire impaired...my point is that one would think that the Orthodox bishops have seen what has happened with the sexual abuse scandals and learned NOT to do the same thing. I guess some hierarchs never learn. Either Bishop NIKOLAI has been living under a rock, or is more dense than a neutron star - or he has no moral compass.
Admitting a convicted sex offender to minor orders? I thought it more likely that Rush Limbaugh would start a legal defense fund for gay welfare cheats. Maybe Bishop NIKOLAI will take up that project next....
#12 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2008-01-11 01:08
Archimandrite Isidore's comments and Bishop NIKOLAI's actions are an example of how dangerous half-truths can be.
While "The church believes everyone is redeemable" is indeed the case for all except those who have committed the unforgivable sin, to imply that it is therefore acceptable to ignore canonical impediments is a horror! Living out one's earthly days in repentance is a good thing, but overlooking psychological danger signs and laying the first pavestone towards ordination for someone still so young and unproven as a "recovered" sex addict shows a great lack of wisdom on part of the bishop. May the words "Wisdom! Let us be attentive!" ring in his ears.
That statement by Archimandrite Isidore could also be mistaken for self-justification, in my opinion.
Let the young man repent, grow and mature, and God-willing someday prove himself to be "the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior...", confirm that redemption is actually happening.
In a church were even that first part "the husband of one wife" is now removed as a qualifier, I suppose we must admit that we've lowered the standards for bishops. I assume those who authored the canon requiring bishops to be celibate never imagined things like what is happening in Alaska these days.
#13 Anonymous on 2008-01-11 07:03
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Christ be between us!
There is a difference between forgiving someone and tonsuring them.
There are many things in the canon law which preclude ordination, including any sexual relationship outside of a lawful, first marriage.
Before I was ordained, I was required to read a long list of sins which preclude ordination, and certify to a priest in confession that I had never committed any of them. Had I been unable to do so, I would not have been ordained. There was no implication that these sins could not or would not be forgiven, only that a person who had committed them was no longer eligible for ordination, regardless of his repentance or lack thereof.
I have never met Mr. Duskin, and for that reason and because of the heavy burden of my own sins, I can only wish him good things of this world and the world beyond, including a true and sincere repentance for whatever sins he may have committed.
But I think, perhaps, it would be good for us not to confuse forgiveness with eligibility for ordination. They are not the same thing.
#14 Fr Andrew Moulton on 2008-01-11 07:49
Thank you, Fr Andrew, for the sanity. Here is a dialogue of what a god bishop would say to Mr. Duskin privately:
BISHOP: So, you wish to be a reader?
MR. DUSKIN: Yes.
BISHOP (who has investigated the matter thoroughly): There are many paths of service in Christ's Church... this one is not for you. May I suggest...
The bishop would not castigate Mr. Duskin publicly, nor would he refuse to forgive a penitent. He would be prudent, and place Mr. Duskin in a position that would not involve public contact (that is, if Mr. Duskin had talents useful to the Church). The bishop would protect both the Church and the person involved.
I fear that Rdr. Timothy's comments are off-base, as one can forgive, and also one can exercise prudence at the same time.
#14.1 anonymous on 2008-01-11 11:36
Rant and rave all you want, Bishop Nikolai does not care one bit what any of us folks in the lower 48 think about him. Our opinions of him mean nothing. The OCA will not be turned into a debating society where lawyers like Chris Banascu rail about due process and legal rights and dysfunctional bishops.
Whether you like it or not, Nikolai, albeit a politically incorrect move and a public relations disaster, is within his rights, he has them Chris, to tonsure this man as a reader. If repentance counts for nothing now, then we really have lost our way.
If we are so concerned about the press picking up stories and thus that becomes what we react to, then our Church has lost its way.
If you don't like what Nikolai is doing in his diocese, then don't support him, don't give his diocese money. Even stop praying for him, that would be a really Christian thing to do.
And finally, if you don't like what he is doing, why don't you direct your outrage to him DIRECTLY and not here.
I have. Write him. Call him. Discuss it with him directly instead of reposting UPI articles as if the press speaks for me or you and that will scare him. It may scare you and I but it does not scare him one bit.
#15 Anonymous on 2008-01-11 08:39
Yeah, that's rich; do you not understand the vindictive, retaliatory nature of this guy? He will attack, a pitbull in Byzantine robes, get it?!? I live in Alaska by the way...our church here is built on land my clan donated to the church, and we have no real rights within said church: Lame, lame, and lame. Ignorance does reign supreme it seems...
#15.1 Moses on 2008-01-11 10:29
One can only pause and read, shake ones head sadly and pass on. Yes, I'm quite certain that Nikolai, like the Unjust Judge in the parable, fears neither God nor man, and the distress of the faithful matters to him not one whit. My, that's what Christ is looking for in a bishop, isn't it? Regarding praying for him, whenever I go to church these days, I pray at the icon of St. Herman for the suffering people and clergy of Alaska and for repentance and a better mind for their bishop. I have no desire to join a lynch mob, and, truly, that's not what I see here on this thread. I just happen to think that tonsuring a young fellow who enjoys videotaping three-ways with minor girls is a bit more than a public relations disaster. (Sorry if anybody is offended, but that's what we're talking about here; it's right there in the newspaper stories.) I would have thought that was the ultimate no-brainer. But the bishop has his rights. Yes, and so did the Roman Catholic bishops who scandalized the faithful and ended up costing their church billions of dollars. All it takes, anonymous, is for one tonsured sex offender to stumble, and then the lawsuits begin. It would be entertaining to hear the defense plead that it's quite all right to disregard the Church's policy on sexual abuse, as the bishop has exercised his rights. That'll fly.
#15.2 Scott Walker on 2008-01-11 10:53
To #15 Anonymous. Apparently, something scares YOU enough to refrain from using your name.
Don't tell me that this Internet criticism doesn't scare Metropolitan Herman and Bishop Nikolai. It's impossible that they can serve anywhere now without knowing that a large segment of those in attendance think of them as being unworthy of their episcopal offices. They can ignore and they can keep quiet but they cannot NOT realize that fact, i.e. that many of those in attendance---and many not in attendance--have completely lacked confidence in them.
#15.3 nicholas skovran on 2008-01-11 13:05
sorry, it don't. but that won't stop you from thinking so.
#15.3.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-11 18:47
I'm very much afraid that they don't realize it. It requires a very peculiar mixture of arrogance and clueless-ness not to realize it, but I think they don't. And if they do realize, they certainly don't care.
#15.3.2 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-01-12 09:23
Rather than lecture Chris about nobody caring what he has to say about something, why don't you spend some time focusing on the facts.
Fact - Nikolai tonsured a convicted criminal as a reader.
Fact - The Holy Canons of the Church forbid this, saying that any bishop who does so must be deposed from the office of bishop. (He did not have the right to do this, even though he will tell you he does have the right.)
Fact - Nikolai must face a deposition hearing in the synod and, unless he can prove he didn't know about the conviction prior to the tonsuring, he must be deposed.
Fact - Unfortunately, most of the bishops on the OCA synod, especially the more "senior" ones, don't seem to be man enough to speak out for good order in the Church.
So what now? Talking to Nikolai is a waste of time. I can tell you for a fact that anything he will tell you will be political posturing and lies. The only ones who can do something about it is the synod. Let's start to hold them accountable for their actions (or inactions as the case may be), and maybe we'll start to have a respectable OCA again.
#15.4 Anonymous on 2008-01-11 15:08
""(W)hat may have been a youthful indiscretion on Mr. Dushkin's part has long since been repented," Isidore said in a written statement.
In an interview, Isidore claimed Dushkin's crimes weren't predatory in nature. "From my understanding, it was a situation that could be termed statutory rape -- which albeit is wrong, but very much different than molesting a child, for example."
Youthful indiscretion??? For goodness sake, the guy was 22 when he committed these offences! And the girls were 13. What else is a thirteen year old, but a child?
Rdr Timothy, our criticism is leveled at Isadore and Nikolai. It woudl appear that neither has ever read St Paul's definition of the character traits for the clergy ("let them be tested first" 1Timothy).
Anonymous #15: We can't write him; he's not our bishop. So our only recourse is to make others aware of what he is doing.
#16 Michael Strelka on 2008-01-11 11:11
The conditions in the OCA have moved beyond broad and deep dysfunction to Gogolian madness, and there seems to be no real will or mechanism to get out of it. .... Isn't it time to abandon the whole idea of this paricular OCA, which has proven to be such a disaster and so resistant to righting, and move on to a new paradigm? If you can't get rid of Herman and friends, then leave them to do as they please, and move (whole dioceses???) to the Antiocheans or even the Greeks (Not the Russians!!), both of whom seem to know how to run things, or, at least, to run things better. What has been a scandal now becomes a farce. ....
#17 Anonymous on 2008-01-11 11:16
Why do you hate Russians so? We had a shining example of Christian reconciliation in the reunion of Moscow and Jordanville last May. The Greeks and Antiochians have the same problems as the OCA... why should we jump from the frying pan into the fire?
#17.1 anonymous on 2008-01-12 14:28
READER TIM and THE ENDORSING "FDR":
You judge others for what you interpret as judging. By this measure you will, too, be judged.
While you are indeed improperly judging us, the rest of us are not improperly judging the bishop and this reader, but are standing up and saying that this is -- on an objective basis -- just flat *wrong*. It was a wrong act for this young man to have been tonsured: his acceptance of it was wrong, and the tonsuring clergy were wrong. Its just wrong. Saying as much has nothing to do with improper judgment. A wrong act is a wrong act. And standing up and crying foul is, on an objective basis, a moral good.
You two need to read to Bible more thoroughly (esp you, reader Tim) and not just the parts that make you feel good about yourselves. (Note: that's not a judgment; if you think it is, refer back to and follow the the substance of the advice in the immediately preceding sentence.)
You call black white, and white black, graying a spiritually clear issue with the foggy stench of moral cowardice.
#18 Anonymous on 2008-01-11 12:15
Gotta keep those pennies rolling in, so here is your $.02 worth of miscellaneous replies.
1. Canons against ordaining ALL convicted criminals, O anonymous thinker and proof-texter? Which canons? Cite them exactly, please? Do they distinguish between 1st degree murder and a conviction for driving 1 mph over the posted limit?
2. I am not a fan of Bp. N. To the extent it is my business and I can be permitted to comment despite a lack of knowledge of the post-conviction development of this newly ordained young man, I can say that it seems from here that an imperious leader has done something liable to cause the young man himself much grief - to say nothing of those who may be stumbled by it.
Yes, the bishop has "power" to make unilateral moves like this that leave all in sight - or at least the vast majority aghast. But is it good for the young man, for the people of God who stumble, for potential victims should his passions smite him again?
St. Paul advised Timothy, I think, not to lay hands "suddenly" on anyone (KJV). Why? Because such a person is liable to self-destruct, as Arch. Isidore who rose so rapidly through the clergy ranks at the hands of Bp. N almost did. Thank God hs is doing so much better now. Is this what the bishop has done in the case of Mr. Dushkin?
Jesus Himself warned us against causing others to stumble, indeed said "woe" to the person who causes such. Of course the society around us is completely confused about crime and punishment and rehabilitation, and therefore "stumbles" unnecessarily over things they needn't stumble over. But on the other hand that is the difficulty of higher church office- judging which stumblers should be protected from themselves and that which scandalizes them and which should not.
3. Let's remember St. Moses the Ethiopian, who was once a true and hardened criminal, but used by God after repentance.
4. Every time I read about the seemingly imperial episcopate of Bp. N I am reminded of the great Bishop's advice to lesser ones in 1 Peter 5:3: "...not lording it over the flock..." I am willing to allow for some distortion of the facts by bad reporting or the malfeasance of his enemies, but with even a generous allowance for such, it sure seems like this man is lording it over somebody.
5. One of our many (I sure hope it isn't just one) anonymouses (anonymice?) opined "Repentance is necessary for forgiveness." Assuming that this poster is not attempting to tell God how or on what conditions to forgive, I conclude that s/he is purporting to state principles people should follow. And with that assumption, anonymous, I ask you to cite the basis for your opinion. I suspect your position rests on popular thinking, but I do not see it as founded in the Bible or Christian principles. I think that prayer does not state "...as we forgive those who have repented before us..." (That said it is wise no doubt for institutions to require it of those who apply for privileges.) Did Bp. N have appropriate evidence of such, or was it just a hasty and imperious move? Experience and a partially-functioning conscience tells me that the bishop deserves the benefit of the doubt, but boy do I feel like I and the rest of us are "getting took" as I say it.
6. And Mr. Banescu, instant indignation is really not intended to be a dietary staple. I realize all you have to do is open the package and add water, but not for breakfast, lunch and dinner, please.
#19 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-01-12 01:01
Father, bless! You're fun to read, Father. You alternate between hacking me off, making me think and making me laugh. (That's a compliment, BTW.) One thing you said in this post stands out to me, who has managed, by God's grace, to avoid that first drink for about twelve years now: "Thank God he (Arch. Isidore) is so much better now." Yes, it's astonishing what a brief stint in rehab can accomplish, followed by a swift return to a toxic environment. One wonders why ones fellow drunks don't follow the same course, and quit messing around with those tiresome twelve steps. (And before the anonymous bravehearts fire off the "How dare you judge!!??" posts, I'm not judging. I'm describing. I know what recovery and sobriety look like, from the inside. It's pretty easy for those of us who have been through the mill to see recovery and sobriety in others. I have read the archimandrite's speech to the Diocese of Alaska. 'nuff said.)
#19.1 Anonymous, for the second time only on 2008-01-12 09:45
Fr George, I hope you're just playing devil's advocate here (no pun intended) because comparing sexual abuse of minors with a 1 mph speeding ticket is beyond inappropriate.
#19.2 Anonymous on 2008-01-12 12:25
My last post was ignored. Would someone please tell me why people are so upset about Dushkin when another convicted sex offender has been functioning in the OCA for years?
His name is Father Andrew Rayburn AKA Peter, Sterling, Issac or Melton (or any combination of the above)
When Pokrov discovered that he had been convicted of drugging and sexually abusing several little boys as young as age 3, Father Andrew was leading youth retreats with the blessing of Bishop Dmitri (Robert Roscoe Royster) and the full knowledge of the clergy in the area. Now he owns and runs a DOS monastery which includes a retreat center, St. Michael's Skete in Canones NM.
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.
You can see that even though he is not priest, he wears a
pectoral cross and goes by the title "Father". Although it may be customary for monks to be called "Father" in the Orthodox Church....it puts this pedophile in a position of authority over those he comes in contact with.
Why do we allow this?
To repeat a previous post: Fr. Andrew Rayburn does not "own" the monastery, neither is he Superior or in any leadership role. Further, the monastery does not "operate" a "retreat center." What you are calling a "retreat center" in reality is a simple guest house. Please get your facts straight.
Fr. Andrew was granted retirement by the Archbishop at his own request and is living in solitude with the brothers on the grounds. Hieromonk John has assumed all responsibilities at the monastery, having been appointed Superior (and President of the Board) of the monastery by Archbishop Dmitri. The corporation entity is the sole owner of the monastery.
#20.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-15 13:35
In July 2007, the report to the diocesan assembly from St. Michael's Skete said:
"St. Michael's Skete now has two professed monks, the Hieromonk John (Anderson ) and Stavrophore monk Andrew, acting superior."
Later in the same report it said:
"Fr. Andrew functions as superior, and does most of the
cooking, edits DOXA, handles the correspondence, and is the choir."
The report was signed:
"The Monk Andrew
Information on the monastery corporation (as of today) indicates the Fr. Andrew is still the president of the St. Michael Skete corporation. Fr. John is a member of the board of directors, but he is not an officer of the corporation.
According to the Great Lent, 1993 (Spring Issue) of DOXA, Fr. Andrew purchased the Canones property with cash from his mother's estate. A search for real estate in New Mexico owned by "St. Michael's Skete" returned no results today, nor has it in the past.
In December 2003, an OCA youth retreat was scheduled to take place at St. Michael's Skete. When Pokrov asked if this was an appropriate venue for such a meeting, given Fr. Andrew's history, the event was relocated to another site. But it is true that the monastery calls their facility a "guest house."
Pokrov strives for accuracy. If "Anonymous" has documentation on the situations at St. Michael's that he addressed in his comment, he is welcome to submit it to us. He can find contact information on our website,
Melanie Jula Sakoda
PS Anonymous might also want to note that the website "Orthodox Monasteries of North America" says of St. Michae's Skete:
"A retreat center for both men and women has recently been completed just across Cañones Creek on the property, about 5 minutes walk from the chapel. Retreat guests are expected to worship with the monks, but otherwise to care for themselves in the retreat house."
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Thank you for giving actual references. My apologies. Evidently the papers have not been processed yet by the state. Of course I can't prove something that's going to happen, but those interested can keep an eye out.
This is all a part of Fr. Andrew's having been granted retirement from his leadership role at the monastery, which happened toward the end of last year. I'm not sure how to prove that except to say that I expect the monastery will be putting it in a forthcoming newsletter. I suppose you could also call the diocese.
He doesn't own the property; it's been that way for years now. I don't know why you haven't been able to find proof that the corporation does; anyhow, I gather this same search does not show "Sterling Rayburn" to be a property owner. Did you call the county clerk's office?
I will contact the monastery and ask for proof.
As to the guest house -- names aside, the point is that it is not some big operation, or in fact any kind of "operation" at all. It's a simple, literal guest house. It consists of three single-person rooms -- actually, one could serve as a double for a married couple -- and one sitting room with a kitchen area. There are some pictures of it on the monastery website. It could of course be used for an individual's personal "retreat." But I do not see how it could possibly host a "retreat" in the sense the word is usually used: a group event with a speaker, etc. There simply are not beds for more than a few people to stay there at once.
You seem to be connecting the guest house with the aborted youth-retreat you've referred to. As should be clear by now, whatever housing was planned for that would have to have consisted mainly of camper vehicles or tents or something else temporary. There isn't now and never was any "retreat center" capable of hosting such a thing there.
Lastly, on the topic of the youth retreat: your colleague keeps referring to "youth retreats," in the plural, as though the monastery had a habit of allowing or even inviting such things there, which sounds rather sinister. I'm not up on every happening at the monastery, but as I recall there was only one such event planned, which was as you said relocated by the organizers in the end. I hope you will, in the future, document the existence of any others you wish to claim took place there -- in this case the burden of proof would seem to be on you.
Your care, again, is appreciated, as is your polite reply to my anonymous posting.
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-01-17 13:47
I alerted the monastery to the erroneous entries on the pages you cited. The corporation information(1) and the Orthodox Monasteries in North America entry(2) are now accurate and up-to-date. The monastery webpage(3) also now has details on the change in leadership there.
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2008-01-17 17:34
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-18 00:25
In today's local paper in this corner of Georgia and South Carolina, on page 9, with a large headline that takes up a good bit of space above the fold: "Sex offender takes step toward priesthood". So this is the face of American Orthodoxy? Shameful. WHERE are our heirarchs? Where ARE our heirarchs? Where are our HEIRARCHS? At some point, silence becomes acquiescence, and inaction becomes enablement. It seems clear that on this moral issue, as in a host of others, our hierarchy are far, far beyond that point.
#21 Michael Gregory on 2008-01-12 11:22
"Repentance is necessary for forgiveness."
Dear Fr. G, you are correct that this statement in itself is incomplete. God offers forgiveness, and for our own healing we humans need to forgive whether or not the other party repents. That is sometimes a difficult process that needs time and the support and assistance of the rest of the body. Berating the wounded for not forgiving quickly enough while seeming to minimize the offence (see Fr. Isidore's public remarks about 'youthful indiscretions') does not help the forgiveness process, and may in fact push the victim away from forgiveness.
The parable of the Prodigal Son however does show us that the son needed to return to his father in humility before it was possible for him to -receive- the forgiveness so willingly held out by the father.
Does this then cast the critics of Nikolai et. al. as the elder brother?
Perhaps, and we do need to beware of placing ourselves in that role. Still, under present circumstances, as you note, it is rather difficult for the faithful to see +Nikolai as imaging the role of the welcoming father in the parable, as by all accounts he has not merely neglected to give a fatted calf to the other brothers and sisters but has in fact denied the Holy Food to some of them, among other forms of ill-treatment.
Meanwhile, however, we all also need to keep in mind the words of our Lord about splinters and logs. It is a little hard to swallow when people who cry out against the log-like crimes and mistreatment perpetrated by our leadership are then castigated by that self-same hierarchy for any small mis-steps they may make, as in sometimes expressing themselves immoderately (see Fr. John Hopko's heartfelt reflection of his own experience and humble confession of his imperfect response) as they attempt to do the right thing. No wonder so many remain anonymous. In all the cries of 'we are all sinners', we need to not forget the sense of proportion shown to us by the example of the log and the splinter.
I will repeat my remark about Mary of Egypt being the great example for those who repent of their sexual sins against others. First she was kept from entering the church; then she repented and received absolution; then she removed herself from the community both for that community's protection and for her own salvation. Assuming that a convicted sex offender has indeed begun his path of repentance, it would be wise for his salvation and for 'the good of the Church' (overused and abused phrase that it is) for his confessor to encourage him to follow Mary of Egypt's example. If a literal desert sojourn is impossible or too hard for a modern person, surely there is some analog that would be better than placing him in the midst of the assembly with robes of authority-- as I said, for the sake of his own salvation as well as others' protection.
#22 Valentine on 2008-01-12 12:22
Dear Fr. G, one more thing. Certainly repeated instant indignation is not good, if that is what is going on in Mr. Banescu's posts, (I am not able to track everything on this site) but please-- I appreciate your wit, but sarcasm (that is how this remark comes across) will not build a bridge between you and Mr. Banescu or help him to correct what you evidently perceive as a shortcoming on his part. Indeed a reply like this is likely to cause him to stumble further, which you mentioned your own concern about earlier in your post. People in this discussion are doing the best they can to struggle through this crisis by sharing together. I understand you are not with the OCA, yes? You have some valuable insights for us from that vantage point, but please remember you are an outsider to this family and if indeed such corrections are needed perhaps they might be left to someone in the family. I mean no disrespect to your priesthood, and I realize that like all of us here you sometimes phrase things in less than the ideal manner.
to sum up-- I hope we can all do our best to cut each other a little slack as we work these things through.
#23 Valentine on 2008-01-12 12:45
That is good advice and I accept it. I want to show respect to those who are suffering through this in person, rather than at a semi-safe distance, like me. I would also like to avoid annoying (or worse) Chris Banescu, Esq. It seemed like there was a little too much air in his tires at the time, or rather several times, but perhaps it was the overinflated observer (me) seeing his own reflection and/or giving himself leave to let some of it out.
As far as the possibility that I am acting as a sort of devil's advocate when I suggest that there ought to be some bounds to the criticisms of Bp. N, some deference, I think it only seems that way to some who are so partisan as to be incapable of seeing anything good or right in the office or its current occupant. If we can recall that he is a member of the Body and that when he hurts, we do too, we perhaps restrain ourselves mmore.
And as to the anonymous 12 stepper's comments about the very real possibility that Fr. Isidore's recovery was pronounced too quickly, it sounds like the commentator has paid the dues that entitle him to speak and be respected. It could be too quick. I hope not, but it could be. I am in no position to know, but should definitely be in a position to pray. Which it is time for me to do now.
#24 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-01-12 22:47
If it makes fox news or cnn, it will be either the end of the OCA or the end of the Bishop of Alaska.
I sent an email to fox news and said they are already looking into it.
The Holy Synod needs to meet immediately and depose the Bishop of Alaska.
#25 Mark Giesh on 2008-01-14 12:46
Thank you, Mark! Did you give them the Web address for this site and for the Orthodox Forum site (where the history and documents are all laid out for any news organization)?
Again, many thanks!
As an aside, I add to Josephine's list of possible actions to consider taking:
Could we within the OCA somehow offer early retirement to our current bishops--with their full pensions intact, whatever it takes to budge them from office--so that we would be free to replace them with godly (not perfect), good men as soon as possible? Is there a way in which we within the OCA could make such an offer but give it a limited time-frame to be accepted, after which their forced removal (legally or otherwise) would mean no pensions?
Perhaps that would be a win-win. We would be freed from their oppressive presence/rule without resorting to vindictiveness or vengeance, and they would have the financial means to retire and spend their final years in repentance and some sort of restitution (if they seek and are granted the grace to repent). Just a thought--I would certainly be happy to pay such a price to be freed from their corrupting presence in the OCA.
#25.1 Cathryn Tatusko on 2008-01-15 07:04
Cathryn, I really like that idea! Sort of like a buy-out! But I am so totally sad that we can not have a married episcopate at this point yet in the Orthodox Church. We need to broaden the pool of qualified candidates. And while married clergy may not be perfect, I believe they have much to offer in terms of what Orthodoxy has to offer. I gladly support a married episcopate, with what has transpired, over several decades, with what we have witnessed in our OCA episcopate!
#25.1.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-01-15 18:10
It's quite amazing that a Bishop who is so insistent on THE CANONICAL AUTHORITY OF A BISHOP did something so absolutely and completely UNCANONICAL. The canons clearly state that fornication prohibits the ordination of a person to the clergy:
If any accusation be brought against a believer of fornication or adultery, or any forbidden action, and he be convicted, let him not be promoted to the clergy.
I strongly believe that "forbidden actions" covers having unlawful sex with preteens.
He also violates a number of other Apostolic Canons. Just read the link, you'll see.
In July of 2004, when Reader Terenty Duskin was arrested for sexual crimes against minors, Bishop Nikolai (Soraich) attempted to distance himself from the young man.
Of course, we all know that the bishop had a change of heart at some point in time, since he tonsured Mr. Dushkin a reader in December. However, today while checking to see which papers have carried the news of the tonsure, I ran across an article from January 9, 2007, which appeared on page B1 of the Anchorage Daily News. Mr. Dushkin had clearly been forgiven as early as Nativity of last year. The article can now be found on Pokrov.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
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