Wednesday, April 2. 2008
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This is really a double standard. Nikolai is asked to go on leave of absence or retire because there is turmoil and pain in Alaska. Herman has caused pain to the entire church, caused intentional pain to individuals and caused pain within the synod of bishops - nothing happens. The OCA is not for me. If you talk the talk, you should walk the walk.
Herman, PLEASE RESIGN!
#1 MP on 2008-04-02 18:18
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA IN CRISIS
I know that articles on this website are widely read in North America. I know that such articles are read by members of all jurisdictions there. That is why I try to be careful in what I write, using information about different jurisdictions coming only
from members of that particular jurisdiction. Inevitably, sometimes, I may get the balance wrong and I am sorry for that, as also if I do not express my real charity for those who suffer there and give another impression. Having said that, the vast
majority of my correspondents do say that I generally hit the nail on the head. I have been asked to say something about the present crisis in the OCA (‘The Orthodox Church in America’). There are the dark umours/slanders of grave financial and moral misdealings that have yet to be resolved. Then there is the dreadful episcopal and pastoral crisis in Alaska with apparent Synodal hesitation and further accusations, almost criminal in scope. Then there is the much respected Archbishop Job, who is now, amazingly, publicly calling for Metropolitan Herman to resign.
My first reaction is that it is nothing to do with me and that I should be silent. And yet, again and again, members of the OCA, especially clergy, ask me to comment charitably and positively. They know that I knew and have met many of the senior
OCA figures in the past, including the late Fr Alexander Schmemann and most of the members of his family, scattered and divided as they were and are in the Paris Jurisdiction and ROCOR and I am related to Fr John Breck. Some people at least,
despite some untrue stories, know that I have huge respect for hierarchs like Bishops Seraphim, Bishop Tikhon and Archbishop Job, as well as many other OCA clergy and people, who are models of Orthodox Christian life. They say that therefore I should
break my silence. Let me say that I know that the OCA is extremely varied. Let me say that I know that there are some remarkable clergy and people in the OCA and priests who work very
hard for their flocks – just as there are in all jurisdictions.
Let me say that none of the present crisis in the OCA is new. ROCOR has had its own appalling crises and scandals. We all know about them. There is no sense of triumphalism or superiority or lack of charity, and there never has been, in what I say of the OCA. If there has been this impression, then I ask forgiveness for not being able to express my views sufficiently clearly. I know from my own life how painful it is to suffer in the Church, because of people who supposedly represent the Church and are instead our greatest enemies and ruin unique human lives. But we have to
accept such suffering as what we deserve for our own sins, of which we have many.
So all suffering, however apparently undeserved can be made positive, good for our humility. I have been Orthodox for thirty-three years and each one of those years has been a crucifixion.
There is no jurisdiction without sin, and grave error. In ROCOR we have been there too and we too have had, and not so long ago, to haul ourselves up, repent and ask for forgiveness. Sectarianism and nationalism have been scourges of ROCOR. But so too
has the Moscow Patriarchate had to haul itself up, repent and ask forgiveness. There is none without sin – we should know it, we sing it all the time.
Let us be frank. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989. I have a piece of it on my bookshelves in front of me, which I show to my German students, who were born after its fall. We in Western Europe lived through all the dramatic events then and the repercussions
are still resounding nearly twenty years later. Amazingly, the current crisis in the OCA has been brought about by the fall of the Berlin Wall all those years ago, or more specifically, by the two parts of the Russian Church, the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR, coming together, as a result of the end of the Cold War. Little wonder that one senior figure in the OCA went to Moscow in January 2007 and tried to torpedo the reconciliation. He knew that our reconciliation would be the end of the OCA as a structure.
The fact is that all the fragments of the Russian Church Outside Russia (not just those actually inside ROCOR) must yet come together. Historically, and it is now history, this meant first of all the Sourozh Diocese in Great Britain, which reconciled itself with its own Patriachate in 2006 – though, sadly, only by the departure of the small modernistic group that had taken control of it in the early 80 and persecuted everyone else, forcing them to leave. Then, in 2007, ROCOR reconciled itself to the Moscow Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate reconciled itself to ROCOR. However, it is true that there have been departures of political and sectarian elements that infiltrated ROCOR from the late 60s on, who often made the lives of ordinary ROCOR clergy and people a misery, leaving for sects of their choice.
There now comes the reconciliation of the OCA with the new reality, perhaps at its Council in 2008, perhaps in 2009. Certain individuals who belong to it will also have to leave Cold War compromises behind it, together with old-fashioned 60s modernism and prejudices, which makes the extreme parts of the OCA into a laughing-stock.
Later, when a generation there has died out, the Paris Jurisdiction will also have to reconcile itself with the Russian Church, instead of behaving as a rude and rebellious teenager, as at present. On the distant horizon, there may yet come Belarussian, Carpatho-Russian and Ukrainian Jurisdiction reconciliations with the multinational and multilingual Russian Church, though that will depend in events in Eastern Europe, which are still to come. After that, who knows?
Let us be honest. The effect of the Russian Revolution was the splintering and fragmentation of the whole Russian Diaspora – indeed of the whole Orthodox Diaspora - into a plethora of jurisdictions. These will eventually either unite - or else
they will die. Because of Russian disunity, individuals since 1917, like one well known Orthodox bishop in England, either joined the Constantinople Patriarchate or else the Antiochian Patriarchate, thus further dividing Orthodox unity. Are those individuals to blame for creating division? No. It was Russian disunity that was to
blame. But unity can only come if there is first reconciliation and unity between jurisdictions in the Diaspora and their Churches in the home countries. This is the great lesson that has to be learned. It is called maturity, a balanced attitude towards
our parents. In some respects (but by no means all), it has been easier for ROCOR to do this, inasmuch as ROCOR always remained faithful to the services, calendar and customs, that is, to the Tradition, of the home country. Those who have moved further
away from the Tradition at their roots have further to walk back.
For example, unity will be arrived at between ROCOR and the OCA, when you can walk into one or other of their churches and not know which ‘jurisdiction’ you are in.
I realise that this is already the case for a minority of churches and there are parts of North America where churches of ROCOR and the OCA (and the Moscow Patriarchate) are indistinguishable. But, sadly, in many parts of the United States, this is not the case. It is all about everyone returning to our roots, our spiritual roots and
giving up fantasies that came in over recent decades. In the case of the OCA, this means the return to St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, once Bishop of San Francisco. The solution is, literally, radical.
What can we do? I would suggest that we simply obtain a list of all the bishops of the OCA and perhaps other senior OCA figures, regardless of our opinions of them, and pray for them, that God’s Will may be done through them and not despite them. After
all, are we not called on to pray for all, for those who love us and for those who hate us? Otherwise, we are simply not Christians. If we do not pray for our enemies, either former enemies or present enemies, how will they come to know us?
Some may want some more complicated solutions. But I assure you that praying for all concerned is the solution. We are all in for a period of long-awaited generational change. We need to pray.
Holy Hierarch Father Tikhon, pray to God for us and all thy North American flock!
Priest Andrew Phillips,
18/31 St Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem
Edward the Martyr, King of England
ROCOR has nothing to do with this. The MP has nothing to do with this and certainly not the Berlin Wall, Communism nor 1917. The OCA is an autocephalous church with "BAD" management - THAT'S ALL! Get rid of the bad management and put new management which truly SERVES THE CHURCH. Easy, simple and that's all this is. Any corporation would have done this in the first week of such public troubles!
#1.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 07:07
Please excuse me, but you haven't a clue. Your perceptions "across the pond" are just inaccurate. The problems within the OCA are directly related to "HAVING THE WRONG PEOPLE RUN THE CHURCH." We have had people who weaselled and arranged themselves into positions they never belonged in. We remove the cancer and save the patient. Oh and by the way, there is NO DIASPORA. A diaspora supposes that we in America belong elsewhere or to someone else and are just visitors waiting to return. We don't know about you folks in Europe, but we belong to no one. This is why we are: the Orthodox Church in America.
#1.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 07:54
Dear Father Andrew,
You said above "In the case of the OCA, this means the return to St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, once Bishop of San Francisco."
At http://www.pravoslavie.ru/enarticles/060506174246, you were quoted as saying:
"The Russian Church is multinational and multilingual. As the largest Local Church, in my view, She has a great responsibility – to keep the purity of Holy Orthodoxy and support it everywhere. After all only Rus is called Holy. The Russian Church is our Mother Church..."
"All parts of the pre-Revolutionary Russian Orthodox Church must return to the father’s house, in other words, to the fullness of Holy Orthodoxy..."
"The main thing is Holy Orthodoxy, as it has been kept in Russia, as ROCOR has kept it. The other groups must return to the sources of Holy Orthodoxy, we have to get away from the murk of the contemporary Western-oriented world. I can speak about this to Western people because the first victim of contemporary Western secularism was the West itself. Only by fully returning to its spiritual roots will the Russian Exarchate and the Orthodox Church in America be able to show faithfulness to the ideals of Holy Russia in all languages and in all cultures..."
"As regards other Local Churches, let us hope that the example of the Russian Church will be able to influence the new-calendar Churches, they must reconcile themselves with their old calendarists...Perhaps the faithfulness to the old calendar of both parts of the Russian Church will serve as an example for the return of the new calendarists to the old calendar."
I apologize for quoting so extensively from your interview. I did that to illustrate where you are coming from. You are obviously a very sincere Russophile, one that started his road to Russia and Russian Orthodoxy at a very young age. I salute you for your choice; the Russian Church has over the centuries has been the beacon for all Orthodoxy--particularly in the Balkans during the Ottoman Era.
However, I must take issue with your overall approach: OCA has not really been a 100% Russian church and OCA is only a small part of the Orthodoxy in the New World. Before people jump to conclusions, I must say that neither are the other jurisdictions 100% Greek or Arab or Romanian or Bulgarian, etc. How can it be otherwise when we don't live in Russia, Greece, Bulgaria...And I personally thank the Lord that we do live in North America.
I also think that there is a profound disconnect between your estimation of Saint Tikhon and some of the things that Saint Tikhon has done and stood for. Just two examples would illustrate this chasm.
First, Saint Tikhon was a reformer as is well documented. Your recommendation for everyone to go back to the old calendar is reactionary, unnecessary and frankly illogical. Perhaps, it shows an uncritical approach to all things related to "Holy Rus."
Second, Saint Tikhon saw that traditions other than Byzantine/Russian could also be considered fully Orthodox; he edited and officially blessed the Western Rite liturgy that is now used in former Episcopal parishes in the United States. You seem to think that the Russian Church is the paragon for all others to join or emulate.
Father, please accept my apologies for being so bold. I cannot fathom why you recommend that we turn to Saint Tikhon at the same time that you counsel approaches that the Saint would probably have rejected. I think that your prescriptions will set Orthodoxy in the New World back, perhaps irrevocably.
#1.1.3 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 09:40
First, thank you for your prayers and your sincere concern for the faithful of North America. It may be that I don't understand what you are trying to say to us. If so, please forgive me. But it sounds like you are saying that real maturity would be evidenced by the OCA going back under the MP. It seems to me that this would be evidence of lack of maturity--running to the parent when things get tough, instead of relying on your own abilities and working out a solution for yourself. Also, when you say that "ROCOR always remained faithful to the services, calendar and customs, that is, to the Tradition, of the home country", I guess you are referring to Russia. We here in North America tend to think of the home country as Canada, Mexico or the U.S. My home country is not Russia. You are right that all the jurisdictions in North America need to unite. I never thought that the OCA would be the "end-stage" for a final American Orthodox Church, i.e., I never expected the other jurisdictions to come under the OCA. Instead, I hoped that we would all find a way eventually to join together as one "American Orthodox Church". My hope has always been that the OCA would be the vehicle which would facilitate this eventual outcome. Now it seems our leadership (and yes, the faithful like me who were not paying attention) has all but squandered this opportunity.
However, I am hopeful that things have not progressed too far and that we the faithful can still right this ship. Many thanks to the MC for standing up for the Alaskan Diocese, which we are all praying for. The MC needs to make more of these courageous resolutions. Their tabled resolution about the Metropolitan needs to be revisited. It would be good for them to address the financial and leadership crisis before the AAC, but if need be, it will be addressed by the AAC, believe it. Many thanks also to St. Vlad's faculty for adding their voice. It is encouraging to see the silent majority now beginning to speak up.
Please don't think me disrespectful of the MP, ROCOR or any other jurisdiction, I don't feel that way in my heart. But the OCA has the Tomos and we have a great responsibility which up until now, we have royally shirked. Perhaps these crises are what we needed to call us back to our mission of evangelizing North America, and not planning for a return to "Mother Russia".
Hope to see you all at the AAC.
With love in Christ,
St. Andrew's Orthodox Church
#1.1.4 sue stratton on 2008-04-03 09:50
In the United States, one Orthodox jurisdiction regardless of "Orthodox Motherland" should be the goal. The OCA reuniting in one jurisdiction with the Moscow (and former Rocor) and being the Russian Orthodox Church is a bit late. That should have happened before 1970. The problem is the OCA bishops haven't respected its own Metropolitan Council nor her priests and laity. When our bishops stop acting like individual "popes" and start acting like loving fathers over their flocks, then we will see real changes. It is time for all Orthodox Chrisitians to be united with one Patriarch for North America. That should be the goal and focus for the entire Orthodox Church in the United States. I don't see the OCA "as a failed experiment". Autocephaly wasn't granted as a trial run basis for "30 days" (30 some years).
#1.1.5 cshinn on 2008-04-03 10:01
This opus has been widely circulated on the Orthodox forums for the last few days, together with another article by a ROCOR writer calling OCA a failed experiment and Fr. Schmemann a fraud. Fr. Andrew dismisses all the work toward the establishment of the autocephalous American Orthodox Church as "fantasy". Yet his is just like any other ecclesiastical argument in the last 2000 years flaring up as soon as the geographical spread of Orthodoxy led to an establishment of another local Church. In fact, it could almost pass for a modernized translation of 15th & 16th century letters in which the Patriarchate of Constantinople vehemently resisted the creation of an autocephalous Moscow Patriarchate. The frills of "sanctification" of the calendar and ethnic customs just serve to emphasize how alien these arguments are to the Gospel vision of the Church.
To whoever posted this article: these "mother hen" cacklings are not helping in any constructive way to resolve our crisis. Should someone come up with a realistic "workplan" of how running back into a fold of a "mother church" would resolve our issues, this would at least be worth a discussion. So far, no one has. All we hear is that the OCA, together with the Exharchate Churches in Europe. are immature, spoiled teenagers. I wonder why St. Paul never talked this way to the churches of Corinth and Rome?...
#1.1.6 Inga Leonova on 2008-04-03 11:29
Thank you Inga!
I was really hoping to stay out of this, but my blood pressure needs to vent.
First let me be positive about the valuable contributions of the Russian Church Outside Russia as I see them. Above all else, it provided a needed refuge for those displaced by the Revolution and served as a righteous critic of those colluding in Lenin's and Stalin's Inferno with the rape and pillage of the Orthodox Church. For that--God bless them.
I even support their desire to canonize the saints of the Revolution, including the Russian Royal Family. Their reconciliation with Moscow, now achieved, is appropriate and welcome--so mission accomplished! Time to go home.
For those remaining outside Russia, it is time to join a local Orthodox church. To claim hegemony over all Orthodox of Slavonic decent scattered throughout the world is obnoxious and even heretical. It is especially heretical if the rational is based on the necessity to be "Russian Orthodox" in order to "really" Orthodox.
Fr Andrew's comments are bizarre, inappropriate, and offensive. Everyone has been far too gentle with him.
#126.96.36.199 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-04-04 06:42
Dear Father and Readers:
Many others will respond, but this is such an important "issue" that it needs this well-reasoned discussion. The responses so far have been gratifyingly sober, respectful and to-the-point. I'll be also, I hope.
If this letter were read to my parish community, it with her priest would be perplexed. This is because it assumes a situation that is not, in fact, the reality "on the ground," at least locally.
The OCA is not "Russian." Our parish is 110 years old as an Orthodox community, and was founded by Arabs, Greeks, together with Slavs, some of whom were Russian. We are blessed to have large icons given to us by St. Tikhon. When the ethnic break-up of the community took place in the early part of the 20th C., then it took up a more slavic-Russo identity.
Our parish is not now, however, "Russian." It is, and has always been, a home for Serbs, Ukrainians, Native Alaskans, Romanians, Estonians, Bulgarians, Macedonians, and, later, Eretreans, Copts, and, by far the largest majority in the last two decades -- Heinz 57 American.
This is the poly-glot that is the OCA. We think of the MP as the "Mother Church" spiritually, and are very proud of that heritage. We do not think of ourselves as having abandoned or left the Mother, but as having, through the unfortunate circumstances of history and politics been abanonded to grow up on our own. Our business as a local parish of the OCA is serious and meaningful to us: to incarnate the Orthodox Faith in our (very secular) local culture, together with our brother and sister Greeks, Antiochians, etc.
To think of the Mother's calendar and liturgical customs a norm to which we must return to be legitimate (not Fr.'s words, but my understanding of his meaning) would strike us as dishonest.
To see in the current crisis an issue of our time being passed (again, my take on his meaning) would strike us as a cruel joke of Providence, since we see in our very existence true facts of history (polyglot ancestry) and an identity organically grown from our local culture -- the results of the ministry of noble and esteemed ancestors in the Faith who planted here a Church that, in several parishes, could, given organic unity, be a thriving diocese in its own right.
Are there places in North America where this is not the case?
Do I think that we are completely mature? "Arrived"? Absolutely not. I'm quite sure that much in our community, our diocese, our OCA needs correction, and perhaps correction through the rebuke of those still aligned with their Mother Churches and even the Mother herself.
But we are a child on our own, and I'm quite sure that our parish feels responsible to grow in Grace and Ministry in and through this present crisis, even as we have, as a parish, done the same at more than one juncture in our 110-year history.
We would opt to walk that path with our brothers and sisters in the OCA -- warts and all -- and praying that that path will lead us into a real unity with all the Orthodox in due time.
In Christian hope,
#1.1.7 Rdr. John (Tracey) Edson on 2008-04-03 14:29
The multi-ethnicity of the Orthodox Church is one of the things which brought me, a "Heinz 57" (I like that) American, into Orthodoxy.
Growing up Evangelical I soon figured out the Christianity they presented to me was little more than a closed American sub-culture which I was expected to show fealty to in order to be "saved". I was taught to listen to and love "the church" by dressing a certain way, listening to a certain kind of music, and not saying certain words. For all the rhetoric of "Jesus as personal Savior" this was a secondary concern of "going to church" in order to learn how to become a better part of the sub-culture.
In Orthodoxy I found a Christian faith that is, truly, Christ-centered. When I "go to church" now I publicly swear my fealty to Christ, and I declare my faith to him in receiving Communion.
Then after, in coffee hour, I sit and sip my Irish tea (black, extra strong, with milk and sugar) while a Serbian family pulls out their instruments and begins playing folk tunes, a sweet Greek lady tries to ply me to try her baklava which looks like it will rot my teeth in a nanosecond, a newly illumined from Texas tries to put on my plate some beans ("the chili peppers are perfect to cut the sweetness of that baklava"), and I watch my priest who is part Native-American, with a tribal belt tied around his waist over his cassock, welcoming the new catechumens. This isn't just Orthodoxy, this is the Christian Faith. It is a little slice of heaven plopped down in the middle of profane American suburbia, and it is so beautiful it makes me want to cry.
Fr. Andrew, why do you want us to give this up? Why do you think this is wrong? When I read your message, I'm sorry, but all I get from it is terrible flashbacks to my Protestant childhood, "forget Christ, the church comes first, act and look and live the way the church says to". Yes, unity is important, but we find our unity under Christ, who alone deserves our perfect fealty and worship, not a man, even if he be the Patriarch of Moscow. We sacrifice the same Christ, and partake of him the same way. This is a beautiful gift which I cherish, and I am honored to have it. Yes, rubrics are important, they are the way to worship God after all and for the salvation of our souls, but they are not magical. Do you think God refuses to be present at our celebration of the Nativity if we do it on the "wrong" day? Why limit God in such a way? Sure, we here in America might do things differently, but we do them only out of the concern for the salvation of as many souls as possible. I believe that God is much more concerned for the salvation of souls than whether we celebrate Nativity of the "wrong" day, don't you? So I find your characterization of our motives as "modernist" and "rebellious" rather rude and hurtful. We are not perfect, but we are trying to follow Christ. Please, teach us to do better, but please do not dare to try to push us away from that.
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 06:15
Given the multi-ethnic character of today's OCA, why can't it truly become the Orthodox Church in America by including 1 bishop from each of the "foreign" churches as well as the salvageable bishops from the current Synod? I do realize that this suggestion could also be a disaster, but what if we dream a little . . . All of the Orthodox Churches working together here in the U.S. could be a model for those times when they need to band together outside of the U.S. The "ethnic" parishes will know that one of their own is in the mix keeping their viewpoint alive while our own good "American" bishops will be there to voice "American" concerns.
#184.108.40.206.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 15:54
You warmed my heart as you spoke, in your own words, the prophecy of Starets Anatole the Younger of Optina who in 1917 said:
“There will be a storm. And the Russian ship will be smashed to pieces. But people can be saved even on splinters and fragments. And not everyone will perish. One must pray, everyone must repent and pray fervently. And what happens after a storm? ...There will be a calm.’ At this everyone said: ‘But there is no more ship, it is shattered to pieces; it has perished, everything has perished.’ ‘It is not so,’ said Batiushka. ‘A great miracle of God will be manifested. And all the splinters and fragments, by the will of God and His power, will come together and be united, and the ship will be rebuilt in its beauty and will go on its own way as foreordained by God. And this will be a miracle evident to everyone.”
We are seeing and experiencing this miracle even as I am typing this! I agree with you some parts of the OCA will return to the Russian Orthodox Church, but I also acknowledge the reality that perhaps a larger part of the OCA will remain on their own, doing their own thing, because as many have voiced so loudly, they were never part of this Russian Ark. Sure, the Metropolia was once part of the Russian Orthodox Church and the OCA grew out of the Metropolia, but during the 20th and 21st Centuries, most of the OCA grew up and out of Russian Orthodoxy.
The same kind of thing happened in the time of the Apostles. The Holy Apostle John in his First Epistle 2:19:
"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
Yes, the miracle of Russian Ark of Salvation coming back together will continue, but only the pieces that were (are) a true part of her.
#1.1.8 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 16:57
Father, with respect, the first of my line to enter the New World was one Isham Walker, who arrived in Georgia at His Majesty's expense sometime before 1760. Where, exactly, am I supposed to be in diaspora from? It certainly isn't Russia. Aren't you getting a bit close to the heresy of phyletism? If being Orthodox means that I have to become an imitation Russian, I believe I'll pass. The Antiochian parish in town does not expect me to become an Arab, after all.
#1.1.9 Scott Walker on 2008-04-03 17:52
Father Andrew's vision is several steps backward, and demonstrates a lack of knowledge of American History. The MP in the U.S.A. is tiny, smaller even than the OCA. Even if it erases all jurisdictional boundaries with ROCOR (which most certainly has NOT been accomplished), the new Russian entity will only survive for so long without a large, fresh infusion of immigrants.
So far, the pattern in this country's history is for immigrant families to retain the language of the motherland into the second generation -- and no further. ROCOR/MP has already lost English-speaking members. Individual parishes will either use English or they will die -- eventually. A vibrant, American Orthodox Church that respects all ethnic traditions is the key to preserving Orthodoxy in America. This is why I joined the OCA. Staying isolated in ethnic ghettoes is not a good model for the health of the Orthodox Church.
#1.1.10 Greg Denysenko on 2008-04-08 13:27
Well done, Metropolitan Council. You have lifted the spirits of many by your recent actions!
And a belated thanks to the faculty of SVS and to the Ansonia parish. Surely in the OCA "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep..."
#1.2 Cathryn Tatusko on 2008-04-03 05:13
Re: "Surely in the OCA "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep..."
What an odd and disturbing sentiment!
Is God ever dead and doth He sleep somewhere, anywhere, outside of the OCA?
Do we serve God or does God serve the OCA?!
No, it is not any imaginary insensibility of God that we should worry about, but our own.
In the words of St. John Climacus (On Insensibility):
"He who has lost sensibility is a witless philosopher, a self-condemned commentator, a self-contradictory windbag, a blind man who teaches others to see. He talks about healing a wound, and does not stop irritating it. He complains of sickness, and does not stop eating what is harmful. He prays against it, and immediately goes and does it. And when he has done it, he is angry with himself; and the wretched man is not ashamed of his own words. "I am doing wrong," he cries, and eagerly continues to do so. His mouth prays against his passion, and his body struggles for it. He philosophizes about death, but he behaves as if he were immortal. He groans over the separation of soul and body, but drowses along as if he were eternal. He talks of temperance and self-control, but he lives for gluttony. He reads about the judgment and begins to smile. He reads about vainglory, and is vainglorious while actually reading. He repeats what he has learnt about vigil, and drops asleep on the spot. He praises prayer, but runs from it as from the plague. He blesses obedience, but he is the first to disobey. He praises detachment, but he is not ashamed to be spiteful and to fight for a rag. When angered he becomes bitter, and he is angered again at his bitterness; and he does not feel that, after one defeat, he is suffering another. Having overeaten he repents, and a little later again gives way. He blesses silence, and praises it with a spate of words. He teaches meekness, and during the actual teaching frequently gets angry. Having woken from passion he sighs, and shaking his head, he again yields to passion. He condemns laughter, and lectures on mourning with a smile on his face. Before others he blames himself for being vainglorious, and in blaming himself is only angling for glory for himself. He looks people in the face with passion, and talks about chastity. While frequenting the world, he praises those who live in stillness without realizing that he shames himself. He extols almsgivers, and reviles beggars. All the time he is his own accuser, and he does not want to come to his senses -- I will say cannot."
#1.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 17:17
Oh please lighten up--this is a line from a traditional Christmas carol. I'm sure most of the readers got that, even if you didn't. It is followed by the line "The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men."
Thank you for making me aware of the need for clarification.
#220.127.116.11 Cathryn Tatusko on 2008-04-04 06:25
Re: " a traditional Christmas carol"
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 18:52
Oh, for God's sake, anonymous! It's a Christmas carol with a lyric by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet of the 19th Century. I guess that makes it worthless to you, right? We're Americans. We have some traditions of our own. Believe it or not, there are Christians, real Christians who love Christ, who are not Orthodox. And the more I see of Orthodox triumphalism, the more I sympathize with them.
#22.214.171.124.1.1 Scott Walker on 2008-04-06 13:28
What in the world are you talking about, anonymous? And what does any of it have to do with Cathy's post? St John's pointed words about insensibility would be better pointed at the Holy Synod than at Cathy, don't you think? Insensibility and cluelessness are, after all, synonomous.
#126.96.36.199 Scott Walker on 2008-04-04 08:48
Your "first reaction" that you should "remain silent" might be a good one.
As a long time resident of East Anglia and a parishioner of the Cathedral in London, now back in America, your very brief analysis of what transpired in the Diocese of Sourozh lacks accuracy and reality and has little relevance to OCA.
#1.3 John Bennett on 2008-04-03 11:59
If Herman Goes...the next step will be disolving back into the Church in Russia...back under Alexei.....
And all those priests that write on here will be defrocked because the Russian Patriarchade doesn't has no tolerance for trouble makers....
(Editor's note: Apres moi, l'deluge? Hardly. It was not France that failed, but the monarchy. So too, in the OCA. If +Herman retires, the OCA will not fall. The last facade of the Potemkin Village will. You confuse the latter with the former. )
#1.4 Good bye OCA on 2008-04-03 17:47
Was it only Metropolitan Herman who built the "Potemkin Village" that is the OCA? No Metropolitan could have built such and elaborate, yet phony spiritual domicile all by himself. Surely he had plenty of help over the years by the Holy Synod, the Clergy and laity? Hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.
(Editor's Note: You are absolutely correct. To be fair, though, I never said the Metropolitan alone built the Potemkin Village. Clearly he, +Theodosius and RSK were chief architects, among others: but we all lent hands in the construction and upkeep. That facade is now crumbling, of its own weight of lies. Yes, much needs to be cleaned up. We can do it . That is the wonderful thing about being Orthodox in North America - with God's help we can do it.)
#1.4.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 20:58
To the editors comment.
"the last facade of the Potemkin village will"
I find the continued use and this use of the Potemkin language off and the hugest superlative (ha!) and would enjoy clarification.
In the typical usage, Potemkin implies facade. So, by Herman resigning, the last facade of the last facade fails? I thought the Potemkin village was just Kondratick covering up his misuse of funds by grandious things that looked like the church was using its money in such a fashion.
I think with good reason that you aren't a fan of the Metropolitan, but I don't understand how by his leaving all will be right. You'd still have a central administration with no avenue for any person to bring a complaint against a Bishop. This has nothing to do with any Potemkin, nor any Bishop, but is in fact a very real issue for the church.
You'd still have Nikolai in place as a Bishop.
So Mark, even though +Herman has made plenty of blunders, how does the last facade fail?
(Editor's Note: Potemkin's villages were facades of houses and buildings overlooking the Volga, complete with dancing, happy peasants. So, too, Kondratick's OCA - a collection of facades, complete with postings and pictures and reports of happy parishoners. The reality, as with Catherine's Russia was quite different. So, more than one facade must fall in order for the unreality of the village to be fully manifest. As for +Herman being the "last facade", with the Meropolitan retiring or resigning he, himself, will begin to restore truth, authenticity accountability and responsibility to the system.
#1.4.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-05 06:17
I think there are plenty of positive things we can appreciate about the Metropolitan amidst the bad.
And I think he owes us a resignation.
But I still find the language you used off.
While I'm greatful for your zeal in correcting the mismanagement.
Under what circumstances would you take down the website?
I expect you can't until the next AAC is more than the 2005 song and dance show put on by RSK.
But truly, like our leaders regarding the war in Iraq, you have not determined when you can leave because winning is not definable.
Is winning defined as the resignation of Herman?
Is winning defined as a successful 2008 AAC?
Is winning the release of a comprehensive report of the 2nd and politically inferior SIC?
It would be good to know the intent.
The goal of informing could go on forever.
(Editor's note: Dan, its not about winning. It has never been about winning. Who wins when the heart and the head go at it? It is about beginning to heal. And yes, the healing begins when +Herman sees his duty to retire - not in disgrace, but as the leader we expect him to be. Yes, the healing begins with a successful AAC, however you want to define "success", from not killing each other, to actually coming to agreement on the best way to move forward. Yes, the healing begins where the SIC gives a full, complete, and thorough report. Begins, not ends. When will this all end? Not for a long time - it has been going on for 18 years. But it can end, and the healing take place, with these beginnings you mentioned. )
#188.8.131.52 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-07 16:00
As this mess unfolds before us and all the world to see, I am continually embarrassed to be an actual member of the OCA. This website does a fine job and Mark, I love what you have done, along with POKROV, a website dedicated to sex abuse information in the Orthodox Community. These sites though have nothing but stories day after day about us. This experiment in American Orthodoxy is not looking too good. It is not even looking like a Christian group. We look like fools on a fools mission. Let us reverse this and begin anew to work towards salvation. Hierarchs, thank you for your time, please retire and may God lead you to salvation in His own way. If you stay, I believe you will all condemn yoursleves. If is too humbling for you to think about, remember the humility of our Savior's crucifiction and then the joy of the resurrection. Take Bp. Job's lead and retire. (Only sooner, if you please) Let us save the OCA without you. Do not fear the retribution for your sins from men, fear God and repent.
Not that long ago, any one of the things Bishop Nikolai or Fr. Isadore had been accused of would have been enough to send any God fearing man into exile to repent and spend his life trying to save his soul. But instead, these guys fight and they lie and they steal from those they are supposed to be shepherding. To them I say...look at yourselves! Look at what you have become. Is there a scrap of meekness in you like our Lord taught you? Is there even a shadow of humility like He instructed you to practice? Rather than turning the other cheek when you are slapped, you pick up a stick or even use your hands and try to beat down those who struck you. Bishop Nikolai, even the non orthodox we know are becoming sorry for you in you foolish pursuit of glory. Is this the Orthodox Christianity you want to empart to your flock? If you are wrongly accused, let God be the judge and reward you with His heavenly Kingdom. If what we say is true, and you kill us for saying it, your reward may well be equally just.
To Bishop Nikolai particularly, I have to say, what do you think you will gain if you win by beating your accusers? What will you tell our Lord and Savior when he calls you to account for all the souls you are destroying? Do you actually think everyone else is so wrong and only you and your five or six supporters are right. Are you sure enough to tell the Judge of the living and the dead that the ones you left behind were not really that important? They were only drunken dissenters, who thoguht it was about the money? It is not a few dissenters your grace, it is hundreds of us and we are right.
Fr. Isadore all this is not because the Priests in the bush have alcohol difficulties. You father are the one who shamed your office, the alaska diocese and all of Orthodoxy with your repeated drunkedness. We all know it is not only one instance. Then you return and stand there with the gall to say the problem is someone else's. We father are not all so stupid as you think. Others are suspended for unimaginably small infractions, and you have meltdown in Kodiak, spend six months in rehab, help fire your accuser and never lose a day to suspension. Have you no shame? Go to a monastery and pray for your soul.
I could go on and on but let me say that I honestly believe the Holy Synod has this one last chance. They need to reverse their decision, make a VERY PUBLIC appology to Fr. Alexander for the embarassing mistreatment of him. Remove these ungodly men from our midst and let us from Alaska seek out a holy man from a monastery to fill the job.
The alternative is a dead diocese.
#2 annon on 2008-04-02 21:00
Unfortunately, your correct and proper post makes an assumption that I used to make as well - that the players in this mess all believe in God...I am starting to have my doubts and it is a devastating thought to me...but if they don't - nothing we can say or do will ever convince them to resign...
#2.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 15:02
I don't know who you are but I hope you will be ready to face Christ too. Not only will Bishop's face Christ, but priests, deacons, and laymen. So no short cut for putting your message and my message. Not easy way into the Kingdom of Heaven. So please forgive me. This is nothing but embarrassment to all who reply to all. Including myself. Please forgive me. Just like you I am annon.
Love, Hope, and Forgiveness.
#2.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-06 00:37
Would Fr. Michael Oleksa be willing to distribute funds for the Alaskan clergy if a special collection were taken in our parishes this coming Sunday in order for them to get to the meetings with the bishops?
(Editor's note: Generous and kind idea, but too late. The meetings will be this week, with the Bishops travelling to Kodiak on the weekend. The MC did authorize $3,000 left over in the Alaska fund to help pay for some trips, but it is probably not enough. As significant a problem as lack of money, is lack of confidence. Many priests are expressing unwillingness to speak out any more, and several more have expressed their concern that whereas before they met the Bishops as a group, they are now being requested to meet them one by one, alone in a hotel room, one priest - two bishops. Such a interview process, if it remains so, would be interpreted by many as rather intimidating....)
#3 Larissa on 2008-04-03 05:20
Every clergy member who meets with these bishops should have a tape recorder and make a record of the meeting, what was said, and by whom.
You KNOW that when they get back and report to the Synod there's going be another version of reality presented that's not going to reconcile with the story told by the priests.
Look, we have no reason to think they (the bishops) are going to be honest or truthful. Its gotten to the point where everything they say can't be trusted.
#3.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 07:21
Given that the priests are rumored to be resigning/looking for other jurisdictions already, why are they unwilling to repeat themselves? Why do they continue to hold onto a fear which will be irrelevant if they no longer are OCA clergy? Please, fathers, speak up - it's the last chance!
#3.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 08:54
Are you kidding? They fear for their vocations, their lives and the roof over most of their heads. Herman will discard anyone who gets in his way. I'm afraid clergy will NOT speak out!
#3.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 12:49
I was talking about the ones who are rumored to be resigning or jurisdiction-shopping already . . . What do they really have to lose at this point? They apparently already feel that they've lost if they're leaving.
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 15:57
You have to remember, these are, for the most part, priests of a very different culture. They think differently, have different values and priorities than do people in your culture. This has been explained to some degree in prior threads on this site.
Please love and respect these people. They are pious Orthodox Christians who happen to be in a very different culture than yours.
#3.2.2 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-04-03 19:58
Could we make a collection to repay the Alaskan priests for the first trip? I feel strongly we need to continue showing real support for them in this struggle. St. Vlad's and the Metropolitan Council have made decisive moves. This would let the laity do something as well.
#3.3 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 10:25
Thank you, Larissa for this great idea to help the Alaska clergy. Even though it may be late for paying up front, it may be possible to reimburse some funds to the clergy for their costs to meet with the bishops. Perhaps if there was a way to get a message to them through Fr. Michael O, some would be able to pay back borrowed funds or credit card expenses based on a commitment of reimbursement. A list of clergy and their addresses would make it possible for churches to pay directly to the clergy and not pay through any other other entity.
Another possible option would be Outreach Alaska. This is a home based missionary project that sends funds directly to the clergy of Alaska for special projects. The website is outreachalaska.org. An email address is on the webpage for direct contact. There are no administrative costs and all donations are 100% given to the donors specific designation. Fr. Micael O is familiar with this program and would be able to referrence it if people are hesitant to give. Since lack of trust is understandable, Outreach Alaska may be able to provide contact information with Alaska clergy so that funds could be directly sent to the clergy in need. Utilizing Outreach Alaska's information, this may be another option to connect the clergy to the donor without giving funds to Outreach Alaska directly.
I know Fr. Trefon and his family. It saddens me that he has left the priesthood. What a loss for the Alaska Vineyard. There is a great need there for the goodness of Fr. Trefon. I pray there will be a way for him to come back - for the good of the Church. I fear this will only be the first - and I know so many of these good men who have served Alaska for so many years. May God be with them and with the bishops as they travel once again in an effort to heal the many wounds that now exist in this bed of Holy Orthodoxy.
anonymous in MI
#3.4 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 11:08
This is a very fine statement by the MC, but it will result in nothing. What the MC should do is resign en masse. With everybody resigning, maybe, just maybe someone on the SOB's will get the idea they aren't serving the Church and certainly not the people. The SOB's reminds me of Bush; no one wants his war, but he just doesn't care!
#4 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 05:23
I disagree - I think the statement is good AND effective and isanother step in upping the ante in the OCA. The snowball is rolling and picking up pace. The question is: where will it stop and who will be left remaining?
#4.1 anonymous on 2008-04-03 09:00
+Herman is President of the MC.
Did he sign the letter?
#4.1.1 Eugenie Osmun on 2008-04-03 12:17
MH there isn't anyone left to blame or scapegoat , it's just you and us. The I's have it , LEAVE !!!!!.
#5 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 05:25
One priest, two bishops in a hotel room? Tape recorder?
#6 anon on 2008-04-03 07:16
What happens in Anchorage stays in Anchorage?
#6.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 11:56
Nice one... Clearly, what is happening in Anchorage will be heard loud and clear. Enough of the Nicholai farce!
#6.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 22:20
Bravo, Metropolitan Council,
Your statement to have the HS have +Nikolai take a leave of absence has been well said. I think the resignation of Alexander Rentel as the canonical advisor to Syosset says a lot. It is in the spirit of canons, not the letter of the law.
When these two bishops report to May's HS meeting, Fr. Alexander Garclav's report should then be heard as well. He is supporting evidence, just as the SIC is gathering supporting evidence.
I feel bad that we have to present an idea of retirement of the HS; but where is the repentance or servant leadership? Both seem to be quite the difficult thing for them to do. It is just very sorrowful that we have little servant leadership within the HS.
+Nikolai demonstrated little graciousness at the HS's initial request to take a leave of absence. He is really just digging his hole deeper, and so is the Metropolitan.
If the OCA loses the Alaskan natives to another jurisdiction or they just quit enmasse, I believe this will finally lose two bad bishops, +Nikolai and +Herman.
#7 Patty Schellbach on 2008-04-03 09:51
There is word on another forum that the great Christian, Nikolai, has hired a high profile lawyer to go after Fr. Michael Oleksa.
Does anyone know anything about this? And for what?
Guess he couldn't find a canon to go after Fr. Michael so the civil law will have to do. Fr. Michael must be destroyed!
Nikolai, walking in the footsteps of Christ!
#8 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 09:56
"Nikolai walking in the foot steps of Christ!"
Snap out of it!!! .... Boo hoo hoo!!! He has been hurting for weeks,,,, that does not make him Christ.
And of course, he will go after people like Fr. Michael and anyone that has helped us, no surprise. We all know whats next.....
#8.1 snapping sara on 2008-04-03 13:24
I was being sarcastic. Nikolai isn't worthy to fasten the sandals of Christ.
#8.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 07:14
I certainly hope this is true. We will put up the money for Fr. Michael as a counter-suit agaist Soraich. (and probably class-action for all those he's abused) We use the best lawyers in North America. He will lose his mansion in Las Vegas, his pension and just about everything. The bad part about this is that the OCA will also be sued for putting this maniac in the position they did.
#8.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 13:52
Well, Father Michael has weathered many storms, for sure. This is yet another. I am simply astonished Bishop Nicholai chose not to use Fr. M's gifts from the get go. When one of the nation's most brilliant priests is in your back yard you may want to utilize his gifts. Instead, he is "terminated" from the seminary, later"terminated" from the MC, by the metropolitan. What arrogance!
What next for Fr. M? This is merely another bump on the path, and Nicholai will pass, God willing!
#8.3 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 14:15
So much for the 2 Bishops meeting these rural Alaskan clergy half way to cut down on expenses to the city..How can they afford the expenses involved?
Also, the one on one interviews is a joke...Each bishop could have set up 2 seperate areas to make traveling "A LITTLE" bit easier for these rural clergy..
Nothing will be resolved till Bishop N. gets his feet out of Alaska...If he doesn't leave start watching many parishes taking actions to look elsewhere for spiritual help & renewal...
#9 Anoymous on 2008-04-03 11:16
“Christ was crucified on the cross. They thought that was the end of him. It wasn’t. I felt very much like Christ, going to the cross and being abandoned and pushed aside and no one there for him.”
This comment by Bishop Nikolai is repugnant. Where is your humility, Bishop? Comparing yourself to Christ? May God have mercy on you.
#10 herman on 2008-04-03 11:54
Some of us have gone through the interviews with these two bishops. There is no hope!!!!
#11 no name on 2008-04-03 13:14
Anyone notice the posts here from ROCOR people? Stating that the only hope the OCA has is re-uniting with ROCOR and the MP. It reminds me of vultures flying around just waiting for the person or animal to keel over.
St. Innocent spoke and wrote very clearly about an "American Church." Not a church under the MP, ROCOR, Istanbul or anyone else. We HAVE an American Church, but we also have BAD bishops. We change the bishops and move forward, but for ANYONE to think for one minute that the future of Orthodoxy in America is under the thumb of foreign bishops is just plain wrong. My parents, grandparents and great-grandparents didn't fight for an independent Orthodox church in this country just so a few bad bishops could throw it all away. It's time for some serious resignations.
#12 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 14:01
In response to the gentleman from England.
The biggest flaw of the OCA is the renaiisance festival mentality of the bishops and may of the members. The belief that we all pretend that this pre revolutionary Russia and we all would do well to close our eyes and pretend that we are in "that holy space and time as well". I have witnessed this with the many priests and it seems that this is the prevailing mindset of the bishopric. I am geographically unfortunate in that the OCA is the only Church for miles, I cannot conscienably donate or serve this pathetic group of people that are calling themselves bishops. Please do all a favor and hand over the Church to the Antiochian diocese. The daily sight of seeing this organization dying its slow death is nauseating and forces me to contemplate even attending our local church. To the holy synod ---Stand Down you are a blashephemy.
#13 anonymous on 2008-04-03 14:32
"The biggest flaw of the OCA is the renaiisance (sic) festival mentality of the bishops and may (sic) of the members."
Bishops which were ELECTED?? by whom?
Now you (members of the OCA) are reaping what you have sown.
Perhaps the TOMOS was granted too early, and the current situation is the result of a premature delivery.
#13.1 Peter D. Vranich on 2008-04-03 20:14
NONE of the present bishops of the synod of the OCA were elected according to the statute of the OCA--that is first by a diocesan assembly then affirmed by the synod EXCEPT the retired bishop of SF and the DOW +Tikon.
Perhaps a bit of reading in church history is necessary. Bishops used to be selected from a community by all the members of that same community, for the service and leadership of that community and not by just the bishops alone.
See Nicolas Afanasiev, The Church of the Holy Spirit, trans. Vitaly Permiakov, ed. Michael Plekon, UND Press, 2007.
#13.1.1 Fr Michael Plekon on 2008-04-04 09:30
Hardly the case. EVERY church has had bad leadership in their bishops. The Greeks with their previous Metropolitan; ROCOR with their previous leader; the MP with many; etc.
The mentality has been to look for 1) anyone celibate 2) hope they don't have too shaded of a past 3) ordain, consecrate them and let them lead. And we wonder why we have problems - DUH!
For LEADERSHIP in the Orthodox Church in North America, it's time to look for the best qualified to lead, whether celibate or married. The Orthodox world will have to get use to going back to our own tradition of married bishops. They are more sane, more well-adjusted, REALLY understand families, etc., etc., etc.
#13.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 09:33
We did not, actually, elect +Herman. And the people of Alaska did not actually elect +Nikolai either.
#13.1.3 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 19:56
The crisis which has been within the Church for too long and which the Synod has recently exacerbated by it actions points out the need for substantive reform and reorganization with in OCA.
The clergy has shown compellingly that it is incapable of admininstering the Church. The same situation exists within the Roman Catholic Church where scandal and ineffective administration has put many diocese into legal bankruptcy.
Therefore, reform within the OCA will require a redefining of roles. The Laity must assume, by force or legal undertaking, the administration of the Church, and the clerical heirarchy's role re-defined to dogmatical and litrugical issues. This is the structure of successful and thriving churches today.
Initially, you may flinch at such a notion; it requires a change in thinking. But, given time and thought your hearts will tell you this is right and true.
Laity, it is time for you to act and act assertively against an unjust, unethical and very un-Christian heirarchy, whether that be at the local or national level. The heirarchy will not relinquish its power any faster than any other dicatator. And, that is how the Synod and the bishops are acting, a religious dictatorship.
They certainly cannot acting according to God's will for His Church on Earth!
#14 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 17:41
"Liturgical and dogmatic"? You have forgotten moral and pastoral: shepherding the flock, consoling the despairing, and inspiring people to repentance. If clergy are too immoral or incompetent to administer the Church -- or to delegate this work as the canons require -- then they will be failures in these other areas as well. And those are the reason for the Church's existence.
Incidentally, the model you propose has already been tried in countless Orthodox parishes, especially in the Greek Archdiocese. The results have been disastrous. The parishes are financially healthy -- no doubt about that! But the amount of attrition is incredible, and (most tellingly) these smoothly-oiled parishes are not producing candidates for the priesthood.
These "successful and thriving churches today" that you mention have their own traditions; evidently the ideas you've expressed are compatible with them. But we have been given the gift of apostolic tradition, which is the work of the Spirit. Our unworthiness does not make the gift less valuable. Never, from New Testament times onward, has the Church of Christ operated as you propose — the laity "assum[ing], by force or legal undertaking, the administration of the Church." (Perhaps Peter the Great is the closest example!)
We trust God, and therefore do things along the lines that He has indicated to His Church from the beginning -- or we trust ourselves. People can accomplish a lot, trusting in themselves. But in doing so, we do not merely neglect, but actually alienate ourselves, from the one thing needful.
#14.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-04-04 05:41
In selecting liturgy and dogma, these constitute authority and not duties such a moral and pastoral. One problem, I believe we are witnessing, is a very shallow pool when it comes to capable monastics to serve as effective bishops...... If we really want to follow tradition, as it was in the early Church, then I believe married priests should be allowed to serve as bishops. That may be a saving grace for the Orthodox Church. There is no evidence that all of Christ's disciples were unmarried and lived celibate lives; quite the opposite.
If the OCA chooses to follow the same course, it will steadily lose membership and influence to become a mariginal religious entity to rot in its own corruption. It will then be in range to argue with the Jehovah's Witnesses which of the 144,000 get into Heaven with the assurance that all of its members will.
If that is the track you choose, then my best wishes to you, but in clear conscience I cannot and will not choose that path.
No matter the immediate outcomes, these men, as a group, have scattered the flock. I think God is going to look very dimly upon that! So, however radical my thoughts may seem to you, they pale in comparison to the actions of the Synod.
p.s. where did all that money go that was collected to serve victims and families of 9/11? Who's talking about it now and what are the answers? I think things have gone too badly for too long to ever return to the status quo.
(Editor' Note: The report from the recent MC meeting address this issue.)
#14.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-05 02:10
I'd rather the statement address the apparent poor procedural guidelines in the OCA statutes.
Clear rules are needed for clear governance.
Bad leaders will be here again.
#15 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-03 17:53
Absolutely! The current Statutes are neither fish or fowl: Not fully conciliar and not fully monarchical. I do believe that, while the bishop is in charge of his Diocese, he should organize it conciliarly. While there will always be exceptions, there should be no expectation that any priest or bishop is a master of all trades. Let there be deacons (in the New Testament sense) or lay persons to run finances, legal affairs, administration, publishing, etc., and help run the priest/bishop's teaching and evangelization ministries. Let the Holy Synod be the supreme authority in all things related to theology or ecclesiology. Conversely, quit treating the MC as the red headed step-child of the Holy Synod and make it a true administrative authority. Finally, establish a way to nip clergy problems in the bud. I am all for the priests and bishops policing themselves but structurally there must be a bit of check and balance to make the self-policing approach work. For example, how about putting a term limit of 8 to 10 years and rotating the function of the Metropolitan?
#15.1 Carl on 2008-04-04 11:50
To backup my statement with some examples..
Bad behaviors by a Bishop need a means for reporting other than OCANEWS.ORG. And that means should be independent of the perpetrator(s) and the Metropolitan and their chain of command.
For example, when Lydia Black was booted from her place by Nikolai without notice, she should have reported it to the Metropolitan Council, who could filter the information and determine whether the Synod needed to do something then. Nonaction by a lackluster Synod could get the kind of statement the MC made.
Or, when Wheeler got fired, the MC could have filtered it and determined who on the Synod should be involved in the management of the affar. i.e. not Kondratick, nor Theodosius, nor Herman.
Or, when Sidebottom got fired, the MC could have done the same thing.
And when the Synod responds, it, too, has some procedural standards that are fair to all parties and mitigate the need for OCANEWS.ORG.
No offense Mark, but clear governance is necessary and it would prevent bad leaders from inflicting too much pain on the Oleskas, Blacks, Sidebottoms, and Wheelers of the world, to name a few.
All the demands for resignations aren't worth a thing if we don't put mechanisms in for the future.
#15.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-04 13:26
IT APPEARS MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO WRITE ON THIS "GOSSIP WEBSITE" HAVE AN "AGENDA! THAT AGENDA IS THEY WANT 'POWER"! BECAUSE OF MONEY AND GREED THIS WEBSITE ALONG WITH THE MET COUNCIL WANT TO BE IN CONTROLL OF THE OCA? AM I RIGHT? SHOULD WE DO AWAY WITH ALL BISHOPS? DO AWAY WITH ALL PRIEST? ISNT THAT THE AGENDA? DO AWAY WITH EVERYTHING! THIS WEBSIT SHOULD RUN THE CHURCH! RIGHT? GOD FORBID! "GREEDY PEOPLE WHO WANT POWER AND MONEY WILL TRY TO DESTROY THE CHURCH! HOWEVER REMEMBER ONE THING! ALL THROUGH HISTORY THE CHURCH HAS ALWAYS SURVIVED! SORRY TO DISAPPOINT THOSES WHO ARE TRYING TO DESTROY THE CHURCH! (LIKE THIS GOSSIP WEBSITE!)
(Editor's note: Amid the humor (largely unintentional, I fear) of these remarks, lies a kernel of truth. It is fascinating that the writer sees the issues here as power, money and greed. I would agree. It is not OCANews.org though, which is making money, so greed is not our issue. Nor is power, since there is none to be had. Rather, time and time again, we have seen those who have resisted transparency and accountability seeking desperately to hold on to their power using our money.Thanks, all caps guy, for projecting so accurately the concerns of those in power.)
#16 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 08:49
I just wish for once the all caps guy would just expose who he really is, and those with him. But again, bullies don't have the guts! they only use and destroy others in their paths... Or try too at least... ones that are fooled...
People these are the mets right and left hand family members trying to pull you down... they are really funny and comical at it...You know Jeff Foxworthy has the right idea, he writes about his red neck family... I could write about the mets...and friends. Hey that would make a lot of money...See Yays at St. Tikons....the Pilgrimage...
#16.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 15:49
Ya know, All Caps Anonymous Guy, I mentioned this months ago in response to another of your rants, but it bears repeating: you are always shouting about power, but there is never, ever, ever word one in any of your tirades about love. Never. You never mention mercy, either. Going by what you share on this website, your view of Christian life is entirely about power. Doesn't that make for a sorry and impoverished way of life? Another word you never mention is "Christ". Isn't that odd? Based on what you bring to this site, you don't think about love, and you don't think about mercy, and you don't think about Christ, but you do think about power: who has it, and who doesn't have it.
Hell is a very status-conscious place.
Just where are you really coming from, All Caps Anonymous Guy?
#16.2 Scott Walker on 2008-04-04 15:56
I really feel the need to respond to "all caps guy". I am amazed at a number of your comments. It is very clear to see that you are "way out in left field", or let me make that even more clear for you. You seem to be content with the church operating and functioning in its present, un-Christlike manner.
It seems to me that the author feels that critical thinking by the laity should not be a part of Orthodoxy. It amazes me that in this day and age there are still those who expect the laity to carry on like a bunch of mindless serfs.
Yes, there is an agenda here, but you are wrong to assume that people on here want to take over the church. I see the comments by many who are truly concerned with the life of our beloved church. They are concerned with how the church is being administered, and how the bishops and metropolitan are conducting themselves. If you truly believe that they are indeed the "icons" of Christ, and that they are acting as though Christ would act, then perhaps I belong to the wrong religion. I can't imagine Christ acting at all like Bishop Nikolai, or even making such foolish decisions as the Holy Synod. Wake up my dear brother, the bishops and metropolitan are only men. I don't care what type of fancy hat they wear, or what richly ornate robes they throw upon each others shoulders, in the end they are just men. In fact, at this point due to their conduct, I know many more laymen who are probably closer to God than our hierarchy, at least they conduct themselves with more honor and humility than do our modern day pharisees.
No my brother, people writing to this site are not trying to gain the power of the church because of money and greed. They are writing because they love the church, but cannot stand with blinded eyes and deafened ears while the hierarchy continues to oppress the people, make poor decisions, and conceal facts from the laity. These people who are truly concerned want to see the church preserved, but in a good and right way.
I do have to agree with one thing that you said. You stated' "Greedy people who want power and money will try to destroy the church". However, I think that you need not be worried that it is going to be the reform seeking laity who will do these terrible acts. Nay, the evildoers have already infiltrated the upper ranks of the church. Bishop Nikolai is a perfect example. The church in Alaska is being ripped asunder, while the Metropolitan and Holy Synod allow him this privilege. How much do any of these leaders love the church? As far as I can see it seems as though Bishop Job is the only one who sees this, and is truly concerned with the plight of the church in Alaska. One day I voiced my concern to my "former" local priest about all of this non-christlike behavior of our bishop in Alaska. I was scolded like a child and told that it was none of my affair. I was reminded that this is a hierarchial church, not a democratic church. God forgive me for using the brain and intelligence that you bestowed upon me. But I can't help but wonder......what happens when the leaders of the church have strayed? Do we, the laity, continue to follow such blasphemers?
Would Christ be happy with us if we follow blindly? You can count me out. There must be other christian sects with leaders who show more love, compassion, and caring than our church currently exhibits. If none exist than I would have to say that all of Christendom has abandoned our dear God. Lord have mercy on all of us.
#16.3 An Alaskan on 2008-04-04 16:14
Ha Ha Ha!!! Sounds like a rebellious adolescent!! The only greedy person amidst all this mess is the bishop of Alaska, greedy for power and control... this website is only publicizing all the scandal and corruption going on in our Church, which we would otherwise be unaware of. And yes the Church has survived because of good people getting rid of the bad apples. Hopefully, because of this website, we will get rid of the rotten apple in Alaska. Thanks Mark for this website.
P.S. Nobody in Alaska wants to do away with any of our priests...
#16.4 anon from Alaska on 2008-04-04 16:38
"SHOULD WE DO AWAY WITH ALL BISHOPS? DO AWAY WITH ALL PRIEST? ISNT THAT THE AGENDA? DO AWAY WITH EVERYTHING! "
I my gosh, you are so right. What we really want to do is go and nail all of our iconostasis's straight onto the back wall...and become Old Believers???
Look, the reason why we are here is because we are concerned by the fact that we see our bishops hurting people and hurting the Church. It is very sad to see it happen, but it would be even sadder to be complicit in allowing it to continue. But no, I do not want to get rid of priests and bishops. Of course not, I'm Orthodox.
#16.5 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 20:04
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