Friday, January 11. 2008
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I am sickened by Abp Job's letter, not by what it says of him, but what it says of our other bishops. That they would have the temerity to consider his deposition on such trumped up charges begars belief when one considers the years of theft and deception in which they have been complicit. If we had a righteous Metropolitan, he would have spoken out against these charges, but that would imply a sense of decency which has long been absent in Syosett. I had hoped for more from other bishops, but their silence is the poison so gravely injuring our Church.
#1 david paynter on 2008-01-11 20:49
Trumped up charges directed to Archbisop JOB for sure.
No report from Alaska. And no report from the priest assigned as investigator to the Synod of Bishops to determine the sexual abuse allegations concerning N. Soraich who holds a position of being a bishop of the Orthodox Church in Alaska (OCA).
All meetings at the Chancery office going ahead like nothing ever happened. The pain of this protection of the abuser giving heart ache and more to every survivor of clergy abuse reopening old wounds and throwing salt in them. The repetition of the moves common in the Kondratick Era of dealing with allegations of sexual abuse.
Acuse the victim!
Turn the tables!
To treat the victim and those in support of the victim as the ones causing the problem.
The meeting in Syosset, December 13, 2007, when hearing about Robert Kondratick, the deposed Chancellor and author of the report, "I see nothing wrong..." on the Miami monks brought into Orthodoxy while a member of their group, Mikhaylo Kofel, was on trial for murder of the female treasurer of the group. The New York, Syosset meeting, the seeming place to deal with these allegations.
Because there is no excuse for sexual abuse.
The common way out for the abusers are to turn the finger
and cast something of a "red herring" on the innocent.
This is a very clear, clear indication of what has happened to
There is no defense for sexual predators.
Coupled with the recent tonsuring and blessing of a reader in violation of Alaskan law and the parole terms of his felony conviction, a convicted sexual predator in Alaska, reinforces the message that the OCA, Orthodox Church in America, in its majority rule of men calling themselves bishops, is here for the main purpose of supporting, growing, defending, at all costs a network of sexual exploitation.
The men holding the title of Bishops of the OCA, are clearing stating they want the OCA to be a cover and a protection for predators. It is those very predators they are calling into the church and making them authorities to support their own predatory actions.
The men calling themselves bishops are treating Vladyka JOB like a prisoner of war in interrogation. Vladyka JOB does not have the military training of those who would take him on the day marking St. Herman's repose New Style and pressure him and strong arm him, and who knows what else in this matter.
Vladyka JOB has a prayerful presence in the Alaskan Diocese and the Diocese of the South. He has not violated Canon law.
Vladyka JOB is a God loving artist/ikonographer and church musician. Preceding his ordination to the priesthood, Vladyka JOB, when he had the blessing of a Reader, wrote ikons.
One ikon was specially written for the canonization of
St. Herman in the apostolic role holding a scroll reading,
"From This Day Forth, from this moment from this hour, ...Let us love God above all". This ikon was there for the canonizing of St. Herman as America's first recognized Orthodox Saint.
Vladyka JOB sent to the Alaskan Island of Kodiak this ikon to be at St. Herman's relics. This prayer made by Vladyka JOB was made way before N. Soraich was in the OCA. In fact, I had Vladyka JOB's permission to use copies of this St. Herman canonization ikon when Vladyka JOB worked with me in the formation of "Walk for Alaska" (2) at St. Tikhon's Monastery and Seminary in the early 1970's as we gathered support for a Pastoral School on Kodiak for the training of native clergy.
The other ikon, written by Vladyka JOB when he was yet a reader, I helped him in getting the commission. It was to replace the ikons pulled down and burned without the proper permissions for the St. Nicholas Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This was when Vladyka JOB when earning a Reader's salary for pastoral care of an abandoned parish near Indiana University was about $50 a month. This was before R. Royster
now abusing his authority as Archbishop in the South, was given any support from Syosset to implode himself to leave New England and bring trouble to the newly forming Diocese of the South in the mid to latter 1970's.
Saint Luke 19:40, "And He said in answer, I say to you, if these men keep quiet, the very stones will be crying out". It is quite understandable people have called on Vladyka JOB for
his intervention for the sake of the victims in Alaska, and the
continuing effects this victimization has for the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and Orthodoxy in America.
I hope this the letter Vladyka JOB wrote will not only bring us understanding but will call us to action. I hope also my note will
show that the prayers and work of Vladyka JOB were pre-exisiting conditions in Alaska and Florida. Vladyka JOB's ikon work calling out the Holy Spirit to mobilize the ones who can help in this disaster. It is a natural course for those in trouble to turn to the creator of the written prayer, Vladyka JOB.
Matushka Carol Klipa Bacha
P.O. Box 381
Christmas, Florida 32709
When I consider the letter that Archbishop Job wrote to our diocese today, I personally see in it an amazing Christian witness. The spirit in which it is written and the intent which it describes, come, from the heart of a Christian man, at least as I understand Christianity. I see in the letter, in the Archbishop’s intentions and actions peace, patience, kindness, humility, love, a desire to serve his diocese, faithfulness, integrity and courage. He bows before his antagonist, like Christ the servant who on his knees washed the feet of his disciples – including Judas who betrays Him and Peter who denies Him.
By contrast I have a much more difficult time seeing Christ or Christian behavior in the recent decisions and actions of the bishop of Alaska. “But who are you to judge?”, someone may ask. I do not have to judge, but I do have to discern. We are taught through the New Testament to imitate the apostles and their successors (Hebrews 13:7). To imitate we do need to watch what others are doing, and understand their actions and intentions so that we can imitate them. And we must be able to discern in order to know what to imitate: “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good” (3 John 1:11). Imitation is necessary but not sufficient, for we have to know what to imitate, and to recognize there are some behaviors we need to avoid.
Perhaps the whole scandal is going to be a significant lesson for all of us about Christian witness and leadership, discerning between good and evil behavior in order to know what to imitate and how we are to be Christ-like, and also to learn how not to behave. We are being taught that we must be discerning, must know the difference between good and evil, and must recognize both Christ and Christian behavior in the lives of our leaders. What a lesson that will be if we learn it! And unfortunately maybe we need a good witness and a bad example to help us learn this lesson.
The Church is the Body of Christ. The bishops are not the head of the Body, that position belongs exclusively to Christ. All of us Orthodox are to be Christian, Christ-like, including our bishops. We each are to be examples one to another of Christian love, humility, service, repentance and courage, so that we can see Christ.
To be able to imitate Christ, we need to see Him, and we need to see Him in the lives of our fellow Christians and our bishops. To be honest, I don’t ever need to see a bishop dressed as a Byzantine despotic prelate. But I do need to see Christ. And in Archbishop Job’s letter, I at least do see a bishop imitating Christ, revealing Christ to me, and demonstrating to me what it means to be a Christian, not only in the world, but in the Church. And when bishops forget that they are to be examples to their flock, they forget how to be a bishop. “Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).
To my bishop, a man whom I have at times disagreed with, and even have disparaged, I say thank you for your witness, the “martyria” to which you have been called.
To the bishop of Alaska, if he were a man I ever spoke to, I would say, please consider these two passages from scripture:
“And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause" (Job 2:3)
“Now therefore … go to my servant Job, and … and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has" (Job 42:8).
#2 Fr. Ted Bobosh on 2008-01-11 21:11
Thank you Fr. Ted for saying so faithfully what I feel in my heart. And thank you Vladyka +Job for your witness and courage to stand for what is Christian, correct and just. The Lord repay you. Rev. 22:11-15
#2.1 Andrew A. Lukashonak on 2008-01-12 09:43
Thank you, Father Ted, for summarizing the thoughts and gratitude of so many of us in this diocese, as usual. Your fearless yet humble and well-reasoned voice in this crisis has been a guide to me and many others.
Fr Mark Hodges
How much crazier can this get? Financial scandals, sex scandals, crazy bishops, episcopal in-fighting, etc. You can't make this stuff up and writers can't imagine this stuff. As Fr. Schmemann would say, "The Holy Spirit keeps the Church together in spite of it's bishops."
#3 Dennis on 2008-01-11 21:24
The church the Spirit is keeping together isn't growing, because who in their right mind would want to pay to study then, be ordained, then subordinate themselves for the rest of their lives to folk who conduct themselves in such a way as this synod and archpastor? In this age when fifth graders cannot avoid knowing details about homosexuality and high school student's passtime is to guess who is gay and who has 'come out' this month. How many wives would deem it wise to support their husbands on such a career course?
We Orthodox like to say 'we haven't changed anything important'. We often compare ourselves as if we are the crew working on a ships on voyages. Well, our ship has left the ocean and headed up a river. The captains, who very much like the view of those below them, are pleased to point out it is still the same ship, has a grand history and lineage, just look out the back of the ship and see 'nothing has changed'. But... in just a little while as the river gets smaller and smaller the ship just going to stop, get stuck, get moldy and then be one of those tacky roadside visitors centers with gift shoppe. Still the same 'Unchanged' ship -- but only from a point of view so narrow and selective it is a pitiful and small thing, much changed indeed from the Gospel's broad visions for the betterment of humanity reaching toward divinity.
It's not the ship that has the problem, it's where the leadership is taking it. Archpastors like Job appear to have done what they could and now count the time to retirement down to the day.
The main difference is that over the 1900's as our little ship headed up 'the river' and left 'the ocean' nearly all the priests wives stopped dying before the priest's retirement age, so our leadership is now composed only of ordained young and never married men.
So, WE in fact have changed, we are not as our Orthodox ancestors were, WE don't have the benefit of the decision making aspect provided by senior clergy who know what it is to be married and be parents -- at the very least to have a larger pool from whom our leaders may come.
Who we are has changed, anyone can see that. How many 'White Bishops' have we now? None? One? So only our rules have not changed, as the old rules give results that don't conserve our church as it was, they only serve a minority community who seek to be ordained young and not married -- who appear to crave their own security in office and prize the size and appearance of their earthly pension more than they crave the one the preaching emphasizes -- nevermind retaining our kids in the faith.
I suppose I could have written this better, but I think you get the idea. Best I could manage on a Saturday before it's time to pack off a daughter to college, another kid to a piano lesson and another kid's basketball league game.
#3.1 Harry Coin on 2008-01-12 09:12
#3.1.1 Subdeacon Robert Aaron on 2008-01-17 22:44
Dear editor, attorneys, and others in-the-know,
Could you confirm for me one point from +Job's sad epistle?
>Of course, there were other items on the agenda,
>including the “investigation” of the widely-publicized
>alleged problems in Alaska. There was no report.
My reading of these words is that the Synod did not receive a report from Alexey Karlgut, the chief investigator for sexual abuse cases for the Orthodox Church in America, who had been tasked to investigate a very troubling incident involving Alaska's +Nicholai and his young chancellor/domestic-partner Isidore. On 12/21/07, OCANews reported that "at the Synod meeting it was also decided that the investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by Archimandrite Isidore (Brittain) has concluded. No action is to be taken."
If my reading is correct, then this "investigation" (+Job's own scare quotes) into a live sexual harassment case was so lacking that it did not even produce a report, but the Synod nevertheless decided to conclude without further investigation or action. If so, this appears to be sheer negligence, failure of due diligence, and violation of the OCA's own public policies. If this were a corporate board of directors, I believe it would expose the directors personally to shareholder lawsuits and other legal jeopardy. I wonder whether negligent Synod members are likewise legally exposed.
Again, thanks to any knowledgeable parties who can shed light on the above matters.
#4 Stephen Schumacher on 2008-01-12 00:17
Christ is in our midst!!
Due to Paul Sidebottom's failure to submit the report that was asked of him in presence of two attorneys (as of today) and due to eyewitnesses contradicting Reader Sidebottom's allegations and many other pertinenent aspects of allegations against Archimandrite Isidore that showed themselves to be unsubstantiated, Holy Synod was not presented a Report of Investigations (they were too busy with other important issues), though the report as well as medical, psychological, and addiction evaluations and psycho-sexual tests and assesments were conducted and evaluations submited at the request of the OCA by medical professionals of Mayo Medical Clinic (not in any way associated with the OCA) were made, and while not presented, they were completed. As to integrity of investigations, the First person that was asked and aproved to be a part of investigative team was Mr. Gregory Nescott (who is not a fan of +MH), who for the viriety of reasons declined to be a part of this investigation.
#4.1 Alexey Karlgut on 2008-01-12 21:05
The next tactic in trying to get out of sexual abuse charges is to
come up with some type of reports to show there has been some change since the original report.
Paul Sidebottom is said to not have complied with attorneys, hence "No report". Interesting how we are given this information, NOW, from Karglut, about why there is 'no report'.
"Whose attorneys were they and who was paying them
when Sidebottom was questioned?
If Sidebottom had his own attorney present, which I am guessing he did not, his attorney would have probably spoken for him in some way. If Sidebottom had an attorney maybe they asked him not to speak??
Just because Sidebottom doesn't want to speak with attorneys brought in by Karlgut doesn't mean he doesn't want to speak to confirm his report in the case. Sidebottom sent letters etc.
These things need not be repeated.
I can vaguely remember being confronted with 3 attorneys,
none representing me, at a large table in a room I didn't know
which later I would read in reports was the start of the table turning from me as the victim of abuse to it being said I didn't want to press charges. It wasn't true, but when you are outnumbered in attorneys in a closed room, or closed anything, you may not have control over what the outcome is reported to be.
I learned a lot about legal things in these court cases, of
going into a session things being said and a different report written by the attorney opposing you and signed by the judge becomes the way it is.
Karglut and the Bishops need to control.
This is another tactic to show everyone that any opinion other than theirs and the way they are in control as predators does not matter.
This is the cause of suffering for Vladyka JOB because this tactic is not new in how the other bishops behave.
I hope there are lawyers out there that can help in getting us free in this situation.
Some help with wording for the parishes to fax file and get to their local courts that temporarily suspends their relationship
with the OCA.
Like Emergency Motion for ------------------(church name)
to remove itself, or Temporarily suspend all required transactions with the OCA.
Matushka Carol Klipa Bacha
Dear Matushka Carol,
Sorry I was not clear. Two attorneys were Reader Paul Sidebottom's and were there repesenting and assisting him, at his request.
#126.96.36.199 Alexey Karlgut on 2008-01-13 19:33
Dear Mr. Karglut,
I don't know your background or experience in handling abuse cases. If Mr. Sidebottom has had to spend money for 2 attorneys,
he has the added victim expense. If these attorneys advised him not to sign something perhaps God is helping Mr. Sidebottom.
I was forced to sign papers without an attorney.
It changed the course of my history and life.
On both occasions the signing came when I was heavily medicated.
I was also mislead in a forgiveness ceremony conducted by
Bishop Dmitri, which among other things he did protected the abuser(s) and compounded the harm I suffered as a victim.
I pray to God and St. Herman, that Paul Sidebottom will not have the tortures I was given and forced into before there were "official" investigators as yourself for abuse in the OCA.
I cannot understand why T. Dushkin, in Alaska, has been granted the blessing of Reader given his legal record of rape convictions, etc.. This makes me question any work you do in Alaska
Matushka Carol Klipa Bacha, survivor
I have no first hand knowledge of the Alaskan situation that has added confusion regarding the integrity of the hierarchy. I do have first hand knowledge of another case that you were called to investigate. In the situation that I am privy to, you spent much of your time lobbying for a waiver to be signed absolving the OCA. You commented you had never had a complaintant refuse to sign one in the past and "its just part of the routine". In the case that I am aware of the complaintant did in fact refuse to sign a waiver. This faithul lifelong Orthodox Christian reasoned, it is self-evident that the hierarchy has a responsibility to examine and investigate any complaint that could threaten the confidence between the faithful and it's clergy in addition to investigating any hint or allegation of priestly misconduct. Wouldn't we all agree that this is an obvious and reasonable expectation of the laity? However, in the case to which I am privy, when the complaintant would not sign the waiver you simply packed up your tent (or rather had your driver bring the Cadillac around) and called it a day. You did not speak to or contact a single witness who had been supplied to you, even those who were eyewitness to the priestly misconduct and were ready to speak about the what had occurred. You went on to dismiss the complaint by saying "no one had come forward to corroborate the allegations." Curious declaration when the witnesses themselves supplied written testimony to you and reached out to you when they had not heard from you begging to be heard. Yet, you did nothing. Well that is not completely true. In my opinion your inaction sanctioned the previous misconduct and invited this "priest" to act out with greater audacity since it appears that Christian conduct, common decency and the canons of the church are not applicable to him since no consequences came after having been caught red-handed behaving improperly. For years I watched as the Catholic church suffered because of a culture of cover-up and not taking accusations of misconduct seriously. How many left the Catholic church out of disgust over how the supervising church shattered the trust of the faithful. Now, a few years later it appears that the OCA can not intuitively do the right thing, follow OCA's own rules, nor learn from others mistakes. My prayer is that those who are leaving the OCA due to this cloud of mismanagement and deceit are leaving to the Antiochian church or the the Greek church or at the very least are not blaming God for the conduct of men. A couple of questions: why does the OCA use investigators whose investigations and methods are questioned? Did Paul Sidebottom also refuse to sign a waiver? How shall I respond to my Protestant friends who ask what is going on in your church?
#4.1.2 Name withheld by request on 2008-01-13 17:11
Pokrov has been collecting information on how the OCA handles sexual misconduct cases for many years. Please contact us and share your story in complete confidence.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
You know, you could be telling the unvarnished truth. You could have a choir of angels doing the backing vocals, and I still would not be inclined to believe a word you just said. Do you know why? It's because over the past two years, the Syosset crowd has maintained blissful innocence until backed into a corner, and the Official Truth of the day became unsustainable. Liars and scoundrels do not suddenly stop being liars and scoundrels. (Of course, if they are broken in repentance and humility, liars and scoundrels do suddenly stop being liars and scoundrels. Any evidence that this has happened would be most welcome.) If Mr. Nescott is reading this, I would like to hear from him, because i'm betting that the fix is in, and that you, sir, are in on it. Following Occam's Razor, my hypothesis seems to account for the evidence without needlessly complicating things. It is more reasonable to believe Paul Sidebottom and the other refugees from the Fiefdom of Alaska than to buy a cover story from a bishop engaged in CYA, abetted by priests and others who depend on that bishop for their very living.
Nixon had nothing on you guys.
#4.1.3 Scott Walker on 2008-01-13 23:45
Forgive me if I snort when I read your post, Fr. Alexey. In the past year you were called on to "investigate" another nightmare in the OCA. I was one of MANY who provided you with a written statement which corroborated the complainant's facts. Yet you never contacted me or ANY of the other witnesses who supported the victim.
How odd. I was so puzzled by a priest failing to execute his job as investigator, even cursorily, that I RE-SENT my statement and asked you to verify receipt. Although you did not respond, I had done an email verification so I know, in fact, that you received both. And it was the email address you still use. AND the vicitm provided you with my (and all others') contact information--home phones, mobile phones, emails.
How shocking and disappointing for all of us witnesses and the complainant to realize that your 'investigation' was a sham. Truth was not the goal.
Frankly, when I read that you would be investigating the Alaska vicitm I almost posted that day and said "I can tell you exactly what will happen; what 'investigator' Alexey will find..." You should be ashamed. You are not an investigator.
The OCA continues to do itself irreparable harm with these kinds of tactics.
#4.1.4 Wishing I wasn't Anonymous to Those who should hear the Truth on 2008-01-16 04:09
Pokrov has been collecting information on how the OCA handles sexual misconduct cases for many years. Please contact us and share your story in complete confidence.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
These bishops all have problems and the internet has been able to show their issues. With technology religion has taken a back seat to greed. We can't blame "one" all of these hierarchs have partaken.
I don't know where we go from here , playing it day by day I guess. Is there anyone to trust ? It has got MUCH worse since herman took over. Blaming anyone but the bishops would be a sin.
These courts and groups Herman has made up has shown what little confidence he has. A real leader stands by his word. The hierarchs should be ashamed.
#5 Anonymous on 2008-01-12 05:08
Believe me, they are ashamed of Herman. They can't stand him. But they are all stuck, if not him who?
#5.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-12 12:56
#5.1.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-01-12 19:49
I think I understand why you wrote "Archibishop JOB!" that in response to "if not him who?" Did you mean to suggest that Archbishop JOB should be the next Metropolitan? If that is the case, then I have the following to say:
First of all, His Eminence Archbishop JOB wants to retire. He does not want to be Metropolitan. That is a good sign anyway, that he is not seeking to be exalted.
Secondly, as we have no pope, what kind of support would Archbishop JOB hope to receive from the rest of the Holy Synod if he were to be Metropolitan? He has already told us he has strained relationships with some of them.
I hope Archbishop JOB might reconsider the length of his tenure as Archbishop of Chicago and the Midwest. However, that is between him and his Master Jesus. I'm already praying for whomever might replace His Eminence when he does retire.
....and if I was wrong about why you replied "Archbishop JOB!", please forgive me.
God help us!
#188.8.131.52 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2008-01-14 15:16
I have to admit that I had already read Archbishop Job's letter before I wrote that, so I knew that he wants to retire soon. Setting aside his wishes and maybe even best interest for a moment, I guess that just makes him a more appealing candidate- the 'reluctant ruler', etc . Was it St Nicholas who kept hiding before his election? I am not the only one who feels that Archbishop Job has been pretty much the sole image of episcopal leadership in this crisis. I guess if it really did come down to choosing a new metropolitan I would rejoice seeing him nominated, even elected, and trust that he would know whether or not he should accept.
Your second point is serious too though. I guess I am still hoping that some of the bishops aren't being willfully blind. Maybe whatever seismic shift it would take to get us to the point of electing a new metropolitan would at the same time open some of their eyes. If we really were at that point, and +Job were really chosen, I guess I would feel that the OCA really had turned a page. Why, as I write that, do I suddenly feel how unlikely it is?
#184.108.40.206.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-01-15 13:20
For a very long time I've been outraged by everything that's gone on in the last two years, perhaps more outraged by the handling/non-handling of the past misdeeds than by the previous 10+ years of bad behavior. But now all I have is sadness and a profound unease.
We have reached a point where it is very, very hard to see how things can be resolved.
There are good men serving as bishops in our church, and there are some who seem to be acting in ways that are not good. But we have reached a point of institutional paralysis where even many of the good are acting to protect the status quo and seem unaware of the damage that will result.
It is a very difficult problem.
I can see how some of the rhetoric favoring reform can force the moderate, reachable bishops into a corner where they feel they must support episcopal authority, even when it becomes absurd. There's too much anti-clericalism and bomb-throwing and they begin to feel that fundamental Orthodox principals will be compromised if they go along with the push for change and reform.
But they are mistaken.
Fundamental principals of our faith are being compromised every day by the maintenance of the status quo and we've become blind and indifferent. -- oh, yeah, I know about such-and-such situation and of course it's awful, but it's [choose one: none of my business; works for them so why should I interfere; out of my hands]. The good bishops and the good priests turn away from the bad things and concentrate on their own patch of turf.
There's a book out about the murder of a nun at a Byzantine Catholic monastery in Florida in 2001 "Murder at Holy Cross" --BUY IT! READ IT! First it's instructive about how absurdly easy it is for bizarre little monastic communities to spring up under leaders with absolutely no training. Second, some of the personality dynamics involved in the drama will be familiar and that familiarity should raise questions for us. But third and most important, we, the OCA, accepted this group!!! Read this book and think what it means about us, about who we are, about what this organization is, that we accepted these people and that they are still among the favored of the hierarchy!!!
I simply don't know what to do anymore.
The OCA is a very small world and a bunch of you reading this know me personally, let me indulge in a purely personal comment -- I'm very happy with my parish, we have a good priest, we're in the process of making a beautiful little church, but ... I'm raising kids. I don't feel that I can send them to any of our camps because I have zero trust in our institutions to prevent abusive situations. We have no diocese -- our bishop doesn't live in the diocese and shows even less interest in acting as a diocesan administrator and leader than he does in acting as the leader of the OCA as a whole. I have to treat anything that comes from the OCA with caution -- be on the look out that it isn't teaching some kind of mindless obedience or other absurdity that I need to edit out for my kids. If I have to protect my kids from the church, why am I even in the church?
We have truth in our faith, and we have beauty in our services -- but if we aren't living out that truth and beauty in a meaningful way in our actions, maybe that truth and beauty is just leading to oblivion and destruction. Maybe we'd all be better off a the local Episcopal or Catholic church just trying to do our best in some real way in the world.
#6 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-01-12 09:12
As someone who knows you and sure hopes you are not going anywhere, I'll share that since the news of Job needing to defend himself against Nikolai, the huge stumbling block for me suddenly has become our bishops. I really don't mean this as 'bishop bashing'- I get no pleasure from it- it is actually very distressing and confusing. But as someone who really doesn't want to go anywhere else, I am being shaken with really doubts not just about the OCA but about the Church. I keep hearing the references to canons and bishop's "right's" and wondering when those canons started to come between us and shockingly direct examples of Jesus Christ. Henry Coin's image above of the beautiful boat turned into a tchochke stand seems pretty apt to me right now. It's a bad moment.
#6.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-01-13 09:38
Rachel (and Rebecca): There have been plenty of bad bishops, priests and lay people for the past 2000 years, just as there will continue to be for the next 2000 years, and beyond. The Church will survive. Just because we are going through a bad stretch does not mean that we jump ship and give up our focus on the one thing that really matters. Our salvation.
#6.1.1 Michael Strelka on 2008-01-14 08:45
The church will survive, but will we survive the church?
And the Church that will survive may or may not be the particular institution within the overall Church known as the OCA.
Realistically, I'm not going anywhere -- if something were to happen to my parish, that would change and I would look to another Orthodox jursidiction first [hey there are five in my neighborhood alone and I'm technically a member of one of the non-OCA ones already].
I've gone through the process of deciding to leave a parish for a reason other than moving to a new location -- it took me ten years from when I began to think about it to actually doing it, and even then I did it with major hesitations and a lot of self-doubt. But what tipped the balance for me in that situation was keeping the focus on what was spiritually beneficial for me personally -- I wasn't making a judgment that the parish or the priest was at fault, just making a decision that I needed to be elsewhere, recognizing that that need in itself was probably at least in part a reflection of my own sins.
I don't think it's impossible or inconceivable that eventually many people will decide that the OCA is not a spiritually beneficial and constructive place for them to be if these issues are not addressed and corrected -- that's not abandoning the church, and it's not a matter of the church not surviving, it's a matter of individuals seeking places where their needs will be met.
#220.127.116.11 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-01-15 08:47
The entire OCA except +Job is getting more convoluted everyday. I am convinced this moral crisis will NEVER end! Instead of progress, the decline continues. And I am really bothered that some of you folks won't reveal your name on this forum. Signing your name "Anonymous" is a example of being gutless. Signing as Anonymous does nothing except to continue to empower these so called Bishops to continue their destruction of the OCA. What are they going to do? Fire every priest who speaks out in public? Are they going to excommunicate or refuse Holy Communion to those who speak out? While I respect the Office of a Bishop, I have no respect for those in the office.There is no priest or bishop or man on the face of this earth who will deny me the glory of God.
I am tired of hearing about the so called canons, protocol, special commissions, investigations,etc. The actions or should I say inaction by the SOB, regarding the allegations by the moron in Alaska against +Job is sad. The tonsuring of a sex offender is heart breaking. Where are the lawyers among us. Can there be a class action lawsuit so we can be rid of these evil men.
#7 Dave on 2008-01-12 09:29
While I respect +JOB courage to put his heart out there, it seems that he is incredibly conflicted and torn, as anyone would be; the problem with this, though, is that his conflictedness (is that a word?) is not going solve ANYTHING, and the status quo will continue on, and on, and on, and on. "Bishop Bashing" is also a interesting choice of words, because it implies that people like -N and -H are being unfairly picked on or something, which is the "hitting an elephant with a pea-shooter" metaphor again. If the Synod is just going to continue to close ranks again and again (good ol' boys club), and then refer to this as "brotherhood", then nothing is going to change, get used to the status quo, folks. Change takes bold action and breaking ranks, that is a historical fact, without that, you got nothing...nothing.
#8 Moses on 2008-01-12 11:02
What is very troubling about +Job's account of the meeting of the Synod is that NONE of the other bishops rose up and defended +Job when +Nikolai unjustifiably attacked him and tried to unlawfully have +Job deposed. Not one of the other bishops had the character, integrity, or courage to speak up in the face of such travesty? What cowardice and complicity!
A bishop who took his calling seriously and witnessed the vicious and uncalled for attack on +Job by the derelict bishop of Alaska would have quickly stepped up and told +Nikolai to stop and ask for forgiveness from +Job. Based on the malicious and out-of-control conduct of +Nikolai (both in Dec. and previously in Synod meetings) a righteous, courageous, and wise hierarch would have immediately started proceeding to suspend +Nikolai and demanded a Full and Thorough Investigation of the Alaska Dioceses based on the overwhelming evidence and testimony given by so many priests and elders, and the written record of the extreme and non-canonical conduct by +Nikolai:
(a) promoting a poorly-qualified and substance abusing priest to position of authority,
(b) exhibiting hatred and physical violence inside the altar,
(c) firing and attacking priests who asked for help and accountability,
(d) unjustifiably removing reputable and supporting elders from the Board of Trustees,
(e) tonsuring convicted and repeat Statutory Rapists,
(f) denying communion to the faithful for arbitrary and purely subjective reasons,
(g) attempting to depose a fellow bishop for trumped up charges,
(h) demanding absolute obedience to the office of bishop regardless of the truth and cannons of the Orthodox Church, etc..
Sadly it appears that all of the current bishops, except +Job, lack the courage and conviction to stand for truth and defend innocence and righteousness. They have forsaken many of their sacramental duties and are contributing to the disaster and worsening crisis we're seeing. They appear incapable to lead and defend the Church, stand for truth, integrity, and righteousness, and defend those who speak the truth and stand up to the abuses, corruption, and evil in our midst. They lack the moral conviction and faith in Truth and Christ to do the Right Thing! They have failed and continue to forsake their responsibilities as true ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN shepherds, fathers, clergy, and mirrors of Christ. These are mice, not men! These are cowards not Lions for Christ they are supposed to be!
If these hierarchs cannot stand up to a maniac and abusive hierarch like +Nikolai who behaves in such an outrageous, abusive, evil, and megalomaniacal manner (and failed to stand up to the lunatic and vicious +Tikhon, retired of the West), then they are incapable of discerning the truth and acting as leaders of anything or anyone, let alone deserving of the holy and sacred title of "Episcopos".
This is precisely what I meant in many of my past posts by saying that the Synod was controlled by 2 (now 1 bully). + Tikhon of the west now being retired.
It appears safe to say that the rest of the group is not willing to confront these bullies, and rather back away and down from them so as to avoid any confrontation.
How sad is that?
My point being, perhaps Metropolitan Herman's hands were always tied with the rest of his brother bishops because no one else was willing to back him up or put the clamps on the 2 bullies???
Knowing now how some of these bishops operate(d), would anyone had believed Metropolitan Herman if he even tried to expose all of this nonsense by getting rid of Kondratick long ago? Don't forget, + Tikhon of the West and + Nikolai were staunch supporters of Kondratick and they were totally against his dismissal. That being the case, how could any of us expect the Synod as a group to show any type of leadership?
Just one man's opinion.
I kind of doubt it.
#9.1 Michael Geeza on 2008-01-15 11:26
I believe that your view of the synod is correct in that we cannot rely on this current group to come up with any effective leadership. I would, however, point out that it is not an issue of just 2 bullies and RK who went unquestioned - the entire synod who was there at the time (mid-to-late 1990's) knew what was going on and sat on their hands doing nothing. Some may not have liked it, but they remained silent and allowed business to continue as usual. On top of it all, they praised RK for being such a wonderful chancellor. Finally, Archbishop Job broke ranks and posed his now landmark (and yet to be officially answered) questions - and we see the wonderful support hius "brother" bishops have given him in seeking the truth. Cover-up is still the norm in Syosset/OBC.
#9.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-15 15:12
I certainly empathize with +JOB's recent letter.
I and my priest husband know what it is, what it feels like, what the experience brings, to be "weary in well-doing." If you have not gone through it, it may not be easy to fully appreciate, understand, or empathize with. But the above comments share much compassion.
The OCA proves to be a continual mess. We have only been able to attract more and more fruit flies by several comments such as, "you know them by their fruits." I am wondering if we are not starting to attract the magots. Perhaps we already have.
But I guess there is a two-edged sword to magots. They help clean the wound, too! In the OCA they apparently run deep!
But perhaps that is ok, too! Bring the magots on! Perhaps there will finally bring cleansing! Bring the truth on! Perhaps then we may finally bring healing!
But should I be talking about magots?
#10 Patty Schellbach on 2008-01-12 12:09
Having just read +Job's letter, I am under conviction to beg your forgiveness, your Eminence, for my part in making your life more difficult. Your 5th point made it very clear that my earlier post declaring "shame on you" to the bishops on the Holy Synod for various shortcomings and perceived sinfulness has caused you pain and difficulty in interaction with your brother bishops. In retrospect, how easy it is to self-righteously type out a letter and hit the send button! How impossible it is to take it back!
How dare I presume to declare "shame on you" while my father, +Job, kneels in humility before his brother/adversary!
To the bishops of the Holy Synod - forgive me, I who am the worst of sinners, dared to stand in judgement of you!
Forgive me, forgive me, please pray for me. And I who am a sinful woman, will continue to pray. . .
#11 Cynthia, wife of a priest in the Midwest on 2008-01-12 12:19
we're only permitted to watch the carousel go round and round, hierarchs frozen like wooden horses..........
#11.1 Guileless on 2008-01-12 22:38
If not for our vocal judgement of this Synod, where would they be today?
They would have borrowed 1.7M dollars, they would still have someone stealing in their midst, they would still have a well intentioned but underqualified Treasurer, they would not have repealed the bylaw that didn't allow audits. They would have kept the laity and clergy out of the details and would have continued to allow stealing from orphans.
Any shame they feel has merit. The thanks they owe is largely to Stokoe, even Met. Herman owes him a thank you.
But Cynthia, at some point we must turn the corner and forgive them for their failures. This is our great challenge, that is, to determine whether they have made enough changes and reported the problems well enough to deserve it.
Perhaps when they become graceful enough to thank the clergy and laity and vocal voices, we will have turned that corner.
(editor's note: Thanks for the kind words, Dan, and while I agree with much of what you say, I must really disagree with your last line. The criterion of turning the corner is not an apology. We can all live without an apology, or thanks. What we cannot live without is the truth, and a committment to transparency in the present and future. So far, we have not been told the truth, nor even much of it; and while financial matters have become much more accountable (a welcome change!) the terrible litany of stories on this website in the past year, or even six months, is evidence that transparency is still a goal, not an achievement. Until that happens we are still, as the writer above you remarked, on the merry-go round, mistaking movement for progress. )
#11.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-01-12 22:45
Glory to IC XC!
I, likewise, want to offer my apologies and ask forgiveness for anything and everything that I said out of my sins, failings, or weakness, that caused hardship or pain.
O God, You know my foolishness and my failings are not hidden from You. Let not those who wait for You be ashamed because of me, O Lord of Hosts; Let not those who seek You be put to shame because of me, O God of Israel.
Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik
St. Nicholas Mission Church
#11.3 Rev. Bartholomew Wojcik on 2008-01-13 06:29
If you've said anything like that here, then I sure didn't see it. Your words are from wisdom, and your intent of good faith, Fr. Bartholomew. Would that there were an entire OCA, or at least a Synod, filled with folks after your own heart.
But then, I may be biased.
#11.3.1 Gino Rosa on 2008-01-13 17:04
You need to begin to see yourself as the real person that God has created you to be instead of the shoe-shining wife. Have some personhood!!!
#11.4 Anonymous on 2008-01-20 14:37
What does the OCA have to do with a 1950's UFO cult?
You may have heard the story: many people were convinced by a visionary housewife that planet Earth was slated for destruction. Fortunately, a flying saucer would arrive to rescue the faithful. People sold houses, quit jobs, left spouses and assembled for the big event.
In case you hadn't heard, Earth was not destroyed. No flying saucer arrived.
You would expect that would be the end of the cult. You would be wrong. The group became more fervent than ever, claiming that they had averted the catastrophe by their actions.
Leon Festinger found this so interesting he invented a term you have no doubt heard: "cognitive dissonance." He developed this theory in his 1956 book about the cult, "When Prophecy Fails."
Cognitive dissonance is the unease felt when two contradictory beliefs are held at the same time. The UFO cultists dealt with theirs by inventing a new narrative that resolved the apparent contradiction.
Now that the OCA scandal has been symbolically resolved by the release of the sequestered midwest funds --
-- I suppose I should interrupt myself to say that, yes, the scandal is over. New software, new report on the way, Kondratick appeal denied, Metropolitan firmly in control, and all that. But especially the release of the funds held in escrow. That was the essence of the pressure for reform, in my opinion, because it had a real effect. "Syosset won" might be putting it crassly, but is more accurate than not, don't you think?
Anyway, cognitive dissonance is what I am feeling when I recall all that we have learned over the last couple of years. Because that gives rise to one idea: that there has been a catastrophic, institutional and apparently irreversible failure of integrity in leadership. Not just competence, but integrity. The other idea, the one in contradiction to this, is that the OCA is, well, the Orthodox Church in my country.
So now that we are moving into the Post-Scandal phase, we are each of us going to have to find ways to relieve the cognitive dissonance we may feel.
The easiest way is to follow the example of the UFO cultists and take credit for fixing the problem. We gathered here, were noticed by the higher-ups, and the looming disaster was averted. Hey, things are better. In fact, better than ever! News releases and other statements on the OCA website are an easily available and authoritative source for this new narrrative.
The alternative is to either give up on the OCA as the Enron of American churches (albeit less successful) or wait for someone with the ecclesiastical know-how and moral authority to get us out of this mess. And I'm thinking that we would have seen that person by now, if he existed.
There's an evangelical church in my town that just started a few years ago. Now they have 600 people for a service. They are helping the poor, studying scripture, profess the same creed we do, and have planted new churches in other states. There are apparently no theives running things, no sex offenders taking a role in services, and somehow they manage all this without the benefit of Orthodox canons.
The question the OCA really needs to answer is why, with all the advantages we are supposed to have over the heretics, are we such embarrassing failures at running a church? Maybe the meetings of their leadership are as farcical as ours evidently are, but when I look at pictures of the bright-eyed young married couples who have accomplished all this I somehow doubt it.
I suggest a new motto for us. "The OCA: Exclusive Possession of the Truth for 2000 Years Because We Have No Idea How to Share It."
#12 Timothy Capps on 2008-01-12 22:57
See the most recent pod cast on Ancient Faith Radio by Dr. Brad Nassif. The pod cast entitled 'Are converts quietly leaving the Orthodox Church through a revolving door?' It ties directly back to a previous controversial article he wrote to the Orthodox entitled, 'Reclaiming the Gospel'.
Both his pod cast and article will answer your question why the Protestants can do this without the Orthodox Cannons, Traditions and Hierarchal Church. You can have the Cannons, but if you don't have the Gospel as Nasiff talks about nothing on any serious level is going to happen in evangelism in the Orthodox church. This goes to the need for the Orthodox to evangelize their own with the Gospel to restore life back into their church like you are seeing in this Protestant church that you make reference too. What do they have that your parish does not have? Nassif, I believe, answers the question.
At the same time he gives the solution to the Orthodox problems with the Gospel and evangelism. The Orthodox can disagree with Dr. Nassif, but the reality of what he is telling the Orthodox is staring them right in the face. Religous denial is the most dangerous form of denial because of the eternal consequences involved.
What works itself out in the practical reality of the real Christian world in regards to the Gospel in a parish or jurisdiction can indicate if a parish or jurisdiction does or does not have the Gospel or if the Gospel has been replaced with another gospel.
One of the symptoms of a dead or dying church is its loss of the Gospel. Are there other symptoms that can be listed? YES.
#12.1 Ashley Nevins on 2008-01-15 13:16
I'm not one to engage in these dialogues on the web, but a friend sent your comments to me. Congratulations on some very important insights. In my view, the most urgent need in world Orthodoxy at this time is the need for an agressive internal mission of evangelism of our clergy and laity. If we ever get that in our hearts, and actually do it, our church will indeed be a beacon of light for Christ! Keep your focus.
#12.2 Brad Nassif on 2008-01-16 09:28
Archbishop JOB is truly a master of fiction, as seen in his recent letter to the Diocese of the Mid West. He continues to falsly abase himself while directing barbs at his brother Hierarchs.
What a pity that he continues to put forth so much energy keeping as it is called the "Scandal" alive for over two years and always finding someone to blame, yet, being a Bishop for over twenty-five years and having been one of the most ineffectual Bishops while in New England, that he should suddenly become such a staunch advocate for his diocese.
I think it is truly wrong and has been for the Diocese of the Mid West to hold the National Church hostage by withholding its funds.
So much for Orthodox Unity!
#13 Fr. Vasily Gilbert on 2008-01-13 15:02
God Bless +Job.
#13.1 Did you really say that? on 2008-01-13 20:40
It is obvious that you have not followed this scandal from the beginning, or else you would fully understand the position and letter of Abp. Job.
I would suggest that you spend a few hours reading all the archives on this site before you make such uninformed comments.
#13.2 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-01-13 20:57
The national church stole from victims of crime, widows, orphans, priests, laity, and a whole host of others for its operations and excesses while understanding, yet telling noone. It authorized taking a 500 grand creditline, while doing zero base budgeting (HMM?).
Its a good thing at least one Bishop stood up and asked if it was truly the case. The rest of them were like ostriches or hid behind bushes. Rhetorically weak, perhaps Job has been, but honest and forthright and weak we'll take everyday over hiding silently while the town burns. Is it better to ask someone "Is the town burning?" or better to pretend the town isn't burning when it is?
It is the least we should have expected from them they asked. Metropolitan Herman has made it clear that he didn't think the failings of the church were our business, but I believe even he is realizing it is entirely our business.
I have not been so kind to Abp. Job. I have asked why he has been so weak. If you think his words are barbs, I guess I'd have to consider his questions noodles and his efforts to change terrible behavior a blade of grass.
Frankly, he could not have been gentler. The shame is that he had to be gentle.
Posts like yours infuriate me.
The division was caused by theft and a now defrocked chancellor who the church says stole a million dollars, yet you credit Job's rhetorical and weak questions. Bizarre really Father.
Job set an easily attainable bar for the OCA to meet. He lived up to an equivalent standard. He called for the repeal of a resolution that caused audits to fail. The administration failed to meet his simple request and he imposed a temporary consequence. If it were not for this effort, I unequivocally promise you the OCA would have lost more parishoners than they did, and they did. I can give you specifics on request in private.
Before you discern what is divisive, understand fully that which Job has averted my friend. And thank him for keeping me in his flock.
#13.3 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-01-13 21:49
I am sorry, Father, but this post is nothing but a series of unsubstantiated cheap shots.
A suggestion that there is no "scandal"?--can you really be serious?
An unsupported and unexplained claim that Archbishop JOB was "ineffectual" in his former position?--what is that supposed to mean, and what is the relevance to the current situation?
A suggestion that Archbishop JOB is "always finding someone to blame"?--who exactly has he blamed, and for what?
You call Archbishop JOB a "master of fiction"?--what is fictional about his account, and how do you know?
You accuse the Diocese of the Midwest of holding the central church "hostage" -- but isn't this the same central church that cannot account for how funds were spent or misappropriated? The same central church that for years opposed the Midwest's attempt to find out where the money was going? The same central church that fired the former treasurer and head of the audit committee when they tried to blow the whistle? Is that really the model of good church government and "unity" that you care to defend? Is that the future of Orthodoxy in North America?
If you want to criticize Archbishop JOB's actions, that's fine. If you believe he has misrepresented the truth, please tell us how. If you believe that whatever Archbishop JOB did or did not do as Bishop of New England has any relevance to the current cituation, please explain why. But let's dispense with the unsubstantiated character assassination.
#13.4 Robert Wachter on 2008-01-13 22:19
You worship an idol, priest. It's called the OCA, or, alternatively, "Orthodox Unity". And like all idol worshippers, you have become like your idol. Archbishop Job is a "master of fiction?" Prove it. Refute him, point by point. I'll be astonished if you even make an attempt at it, but please, do your best. Maybe you haven't yet noticed, but not many people are going to buy what you're selling just because you're a priest. We have seen too many liars in vestments. So put up or shut up. If you can prove that Archbishop Job is lying, have at it. Names and dates and, if possible, links. Prove that you're not just another tool blowing smoke. Well?
#13.5 Scott Walker on 2008-01-13 22:35
Still waiting for that point by point refutation, Father. Gosh, maybe you are just another tool, blowing smoke.
#13.5.1 Scott Walker on 2008-01-15 18:06
It's been six days now. So much for the weighty words of Fr. Vasily, mighty blower of smoke.
#18.104.22.168 Scott Walker on 2008-01-19 10:09
Oh man, where's a copy of the Prayer of St. Ephraim when you need it?
#13.6 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2008-01-14 15:28
These words were not spoken at your elevation to the episcopacy, and yet you live them (emphases mine):
"I exhort you to serve God’s people with love and generosity. Minister with fatherly concern to Christ’s priests. *Care for all who come to you in any kind of need*. *Love them as Christ Himself loves them*. Then, having perfected the souls entrusted to you in this present life, may you one day stand before the Throne of God and receive the great reward which He has prepared for those who have fought with valor for the preaching of the Gospel. Ascend now the episcopal ‘cathedra’ to give the apostolic blessing to the four corners of the earth, to all those who have taken part in your consecration, and to all God’s people -for now, in a very real and tangible way, you belong to them; for now you have become their servant."
Thank you for having the courage to do what needs to be done, with faith and in love and witness of Christ. You are in my prayers daily.
May the rest of the members of the Holy Synod awake from their silence and follow your example!
p.s. The quotation is from another episcopal elevation in 2001: http://www.oca.org/news.asp?ID=89&SID=19
#14 Larissa on 2008-01-13 16:25
Regarding the sketchy, cryptic "reporting" that several priests, including Fr. John Mack are no longer on the rolls of clergy in the OCA ; anyone with info. as to WHY this has happened? Maybe I'm just dense and couldn't see the 'transparancy' of the report submitted by the Synod.
(Editor's Note: Fr. Mack, a well-known author, recently confirmed that he and his family have joined the Byzantine Catholic Church. )
#15 anon on 2008-01-14 04:45
Regarding +Job's dislike of "bishop bashing," I can see how criticism of the Holy Synod members would make life difficult for him, particularly when such criticism often names him as the lone exception.
With all due respect, I say "welcome to the real world, Vladika. You may be carrying a cross that you perhaps never thought you would carry--that of defending your fellow bishops. But, when the problem was/is caused by bishops, when the problem is being swept under the rug by bishops, and when the problem is not being addressed by bishops, who else is there to criticize or bash?"
With all due respect, I would say "Dear Vladika, please don't try to defend the indefensible. Carry on fighting the good fight even when you are the only one in your select but small group. Don't let the other bishops judge you and push you around. You are the salt and the leaven of this Holy Synod. You may be one of the few reasons left for this Church to continue to exist."
With all due respect, I would say "Dear Vladika Job, with your prostration you illustrated the great difference between a true bishop and one who is just called one. On the other hand, with the release of the DOM funds, you showed an all too human trait; the desire to be liked, to belong, to obtain some relief from badgering. Sir, I truly believe that you are called to greatness. Unfortunately, this greatness may come after much more suffering, particularly at the hands of your brother bishops. I think most folks would understand if you were to give up under the stress of this duress. We cannot call you to suffer; only the Lord can. And, no one is capable of judging you badly if and when you were to turn down that call."
With great respect and love,
#16 Carl on 2008-01-14 12:31
I’ve been struggling, over the past few weeks, with the situation in the OCA. My first marriage was abusive. The dynamics in the Church remind me an awful lot of that marriage – so much so that I find myself not wanting to go to Church. I know the sins of the bishops don’t affect the validity of the Sacraments. But they affect me. And the fact that my bishop, and my priest, don’t talk about it is part of the problem. In an abusive relationship, enforced silence is part of the way the abuser retains power over the abused. Keeping up public appearances, not letting on to anyone outside what goes on inside, denying it, downplaying it. And that’s what it feels like at church now.
I think I’ve reached the point where I have to either do something, or leave. But I haven’t the faintest idea what to do. I read this site, I’ve signed the petition. Now what?
I don’t feel like I know enough to do anything. I really don’t understand how the law applies to what’s happened in our Church, or exactly how things are supposed to work.
It sure looks like laws were broken. So why hasn’t anyone been charged with anything, or arrested? Would someone have to file charges? Who?
Would our insurers (surely the OCA has insurance) care about the sex offenders serving in the Church? Can they be informed? Who could do that?
Would the banks from which we obtained loans care about the misrepresentations in the loan applications? Could they be informed? By whom?
We don’t have an emperor to appeal to. But we’ve got to be able to do something. I do not accept that we’re helpless. I do not accept that in order to be faithful, you have to be willing to accept abuse. If the bishops are wrong, we should do something. But what?
If we wanted to organize a response to what’s happened, what would we do? How would we go about it? If our bishops won’t call a day of prayer and fasting, is there anything to prevent us from doing it? Could we encourage people to keep a strict fast every Tuesday until this is all settled? (Tuesday being the day commemorating John the Baptist and his message of repentance, it seems fitting.) Over 1,000 people signed the petition. What if 1,000 of us fasted and prayed every Tuesday? Would the Lord hear us?
Would it be possible to get a legal opinion on whether a lawsuit by parishioners against the Church is possible, and what the likely outcome would be? How much would that cost? It seems as though an initial consultation couldn’t be too expensive. What if 1,000 of us each contributed a dollar or two – less than you’d spend on a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Could that get us a lawyer to advise us on what we could do, and how, and how much it would cost?
What about more visible protests? I’m not talking about disrupting divine services (God forbid!), but I think there are likely to be many things we could do to bring attention to bring attention to the plight of our church. What about identifying the religion reporters at some of the major newspapers and magazines around the country, and putting together a brief history of the situation, with supporting documentation, and sending the information to those reporters? What about publicizing the bishops' itineraries, and encouraging people to stay away from any service or event that +Herman or +Nikolai will be at, and giving an alternative place to worship, if such is available.
I don't know if any of these have value, but there has to be *something*. I'm not willing to accept that we're in a no-win scenario.
#17 Josephine on 2008-01-14 22:49
In response to your pleas as to where to go and what to do, I refer you to Carl's excellent exhortation to +Job just above. Athanasius of Alexandria described the essence of a Christian as one who falls down, then gets up, falls down, and gets up again, and so on. Perserverance and steadfastness are key. Write, protest and withhold if you must, but don't stay away from the altar, where the only true Reality exists.
#17.1 Terry C. Peet on 2008-01-15 09:52
Mega Dittos from Charleroi Pa.I could not agree with you more!
#17.2 Anonymous on 2008-01-15 20:32
It really is beyond me how so many people can read the same thing and come away with such different views. First of all, the scandal is not over. RSK, + Theodosius and + Herman have not told us everything. When will RSK and + Theodosius really tell about where the money went and why? + Herman knew about everything and did nothing so why is he still Metropolitan? Money hasn't been recovered and this diversion with Alaska is ridiculous. + Nicolai should be deposed. So where are we? No where. We've changed the chairs and faces at Syosset or Oyster Bay(stupid) and the same people are in control. We need + Herman to step down immediately; put in a locum tenens (+ Seraphim) and plan for the AAC in Nov. to really go forward. A re-write of the OCA statutes is necessary to check and balance the powers of bishops, the central church and the discipline of rogue bishops. This synod of bishops cannot regulate itself. A council of bishops, priests and lay people is necessary for good church order without secret back door discussions.
#18 Beyond Me on 2008-01-15 07:04
Comment on format. After awhile I figured out the scheme of the Comment postings, i.e., where a particular letter started and ended. Each letter closes with your assigned number so that is where it ends. But many don't have salutatiopns. I, and possibly others, would appreciate a line across the page after that to indicate the break and beginning of something new. Just a suggestion to aid in scrolling through the comments. If you don't agree, that's OK too.
(Editor's note: I never envisioned there would be two years of comments, more than 10,000 at last count. The system is what it is, and alas, does not allow the changes you envision. Sorry.)
#19 Nicholas Senio on 2008-01-15 07:55
As many who read this site already know, I am a priest in the Antiochian archdiocese who made his living for more than 25 years in California real estate law, with some side excursions into freedom of speech and religious corporation matters.
Your reaction to this problem - that there ought to be a solution in the civil law - is one that our secular, westernized society has conditioned us to have. If politicians didn't promise us that the law would save us, whether through new laws they would pass (legislature), their future diligence in enforcement (executive) or the officials they would appoint to intepret the law (judicial) we would not vote for them.
Those of us with an Orthodox Christian predisposition need to resist the politician-fostered hope for a secular and legal solution to what bedevils mankind, or in this case, the Church itself. While granting that well-conceived, interpreted and enforced laws can at least restrain evil or blunt its inevitable effects, we hopefully realize that in problems of good and evil, nothing really works unless it addresses the heart.
For the most part our secular legal system shrinks violently from getting involved in religious matters. They do not consider themselves competent to interpret religious doctrines or to discern if an office-holder is doing his job right.
There are some exceptions which the appellate cases generally discuss under a couple of genereal conceptual headings. One is that they will sometimes intervene where "neutral principles of law" can be used to decide the matter without reference to the truth or falsity of any religious tenet. The other is where the "highest adjudicative body" of a religious institution has decided a matter and a purported adherent refuses to comply; the courts will force the individual to comply.
In the Orthodox Church, where there are well-established canons which give the bishop essentially unlimited power over a) church property and money and b) the clergy and sacraments, there is little for the secular courts to do about those who abuse the office by "lording it over" those in their charge or otherwise abusing their office, a very old problem in the Church (I Peter5:3). The OCA governing documents, with which I am admittedly and voluntarily most unfamiliar, may well have some modenr, democratic language or concepts mixed in, but I tend to doubt it rises to the level that it would motivate a judge to think that it would overcome a) the historic canons or b) the courts' general revulsion at religious disputes and give rise to a remedy.
And think about it for a moment. Would you really want a Jew or a Protestant or a ? to be deciding whether or not Orthodox bishops are running the Church properly?
For the most part the courts prefer to let the top officials of any voluntary institution run their own affairs with a minimum of interference on the theory that if they blow it, the only people suffering harm are those who chose those leaders or continue to maintain their affiliation with the organization. And in the case of Mr. K, who is believed by many to have taken church money improperly, if the bishops decline to pursue recovery I tend to think the courts would be very hesitant to entertain a legal attempt at recovery initiated by lower officials or members.
#20 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-01-15 10:19
Thank you, Father George. Your response was most helpful in addressing the civil aspects of the current situation.
Would the same apply to criminal actions? If people are stealing from the Church, and it's okay with the bishops, will the criminal courts likewise figure it's our problem and not theirs? If people are diverting charitable funds for their own private use, will the IRS figure it's our problem and not theirs?
If that's likely to be the case, I can live with it. But it helps me to know one way or the other.
#20.1 Josephine on 2008-01-15 11:14
It is a little different with criminal offenses because it is the interest of the government that is protected, rather than disputes between individuals, as in civil suits. That's why it is "People of the State of Illinois," or "United States of America" vs. Joe Felony.
My sense is this would not be an attractive case for prosecutors. The inner workings of the OCA have been convoluted enough to make for a complicated case where the defense would have lots of running room.
Also, the OCA membership is widely scattered across the country, and -- except for us -- they don't seem to care. Finally, the last thing in the world the OCA leadership wants is a criminal prosecution. Ever play that game when you were a kid called "Barrel of Monkeys?" You pull one monkey out and see how many come with him. When a good defense lawyer got to work with compulsory process it would be like that game -- not so much fun for the monkeys, though.
So, I agree with the comments above from my learned friend that discourage civil litigation. It would be a long, expensive and frustrating project with a dubious outcome, assuming it ever even got off the ground, which is even more doubtful. Neither would I hold my breath for the feds to step in criminally.
I think anyone who is hoping for a resolution in the courts -- either civil or criminal -- is going to be disappointed. I think we're on our own, which is probably just as well.
#20.1.1 Timothy Capps on 2008-01-15 22:06
Truth, ethics, and integrity are universal concepts that apply equally to everyone, whether one is Orthodox, Jewish, or hold no particular faith in anything. For you to warn us that "Would you really want a Jew or a Protestant? or to be deciding whether or not Orthodox bishops are running the Church properly?" shows a remarkable bias and blindness to the universal truth that Jesus Christ proclaimed and the Orthodox believe in. It does not really matter, as long as truth, objectivity, and justice are served. As a matter of fact is it rather astounding to observe that the level of ethics and accountability in many secular, non-Christian, and even governmental organizations vastly surpass the dysfunctional and corrupt environment of the OCA leadership. Doesn't that say something about the enormous spiritual crisis we are dealing with?
Finally, I am here to bear witness that I have Mormon, Jewish and Muslim friends whose level of ethics, decency, and integrity vastly surpasses the "standard" we have tolerated for so long in the OCA leadership and hierarchs in the Synod. I would trust any one of them to deal more ethically and justly with the lies, corruption, unethical conduct, and abuses in OCA than our entire Synod (+Job excepted). These non-Orthodox and non-Christian men and women would have the character and integrity necessary to face the truth and do the right thing in the face of so much chaos and dysfunction. I guarantee you that any one of them would have honestly, forcefully and justly dealt with this crisis in a much more pro-active, constructive, and meaningful manner; they would not have let this nightmare continue for so many years and sat there silently while the plundering of Church funds and the destruction of the Church continued. Their conscience, common sense, and decency would not have allowed such travesty to continue, even if their theology is not Orthodox.
I hope you continue to post as I think you speak for many. I find F. George's recent postings most disturbing. I don't understand these things coming from someone who is a priest. But I guess this is an open forum, so here we are. F. George seems to enjoy people responding to his outrageous comments. I don't know him personally, so maybe I would have an entirely different opinion of him if I did know him and a better understanding of why a priest, or anyone for that matter, would write such things. Keep up the postings Chris!
#21.1 Oh Brother! on 2008-01-15 15:26
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