Thursday, April 3. 2008
Your comments are welcome. Now is the time to speak out, people.
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Here we go again?
Good that they'll meet. Good that +Job took a stand.
But one does get the impression that +MH is simply twisting in the wind, going with whatever pressure happens to dominate from one moment to the next. The inconsistencies begin to rise to the level of outright lies. Not exactly inspiring leadership.
#1 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-04-03 20:53
The pattern from Metropolitan Herman is to give the leaders every benefit of the doubt. He has admitted as much, why would we expect anything different?
I find most of the postings here to be overly dramatic and lacking objectivity lately. On the objective, the Metropolitan probably doesn't have a big enough case to depose Nikola.
Given the churches black and white position on allowing or deposing a Bishop and the lack of any middle ground, what do we really expect?
At the extraordinary meeting of the Synod, it would be great if the Bishops established and agreed upon a procedurally clear process that could be written into the Statutes to deal with bad Bishops and bad Archpriests, rather than only dealing with Nikolai on a case basis. The case basis method leads to too much politics on places like ocanews.org and much is lost. Nikolai thinks everyone is out to get him.
Deposing Nikolai for violating a Canon and tonsuring a convicted sex offender is as weak as firing someone who works for you and makes one big mistake.
So a bishop is a jerk and made a mistake, big deal.
What constitutes him being a big enough jerk that he would lose his flock? What if he expected people to go to church weekly and people thought he was a jerk for that? Its a gray issue what consitutes a jerk.
When someone is a jerk in the corporate world, their chances typically go warning, action plan, termination. Why can't the Bishops be held to a similar standard? A leave of absence is probably equivalent to a warning. While on leave, decisions made in their absentia would hold, etc. Another procedurally unclear area.
If Nikolai felt persecuted, comparing himself to Christ doesn't seem that bizarre to me, by the way. I read the article and I don't like some of Nikolai's decisions, but I gotta say, I understood the comment, and it did make me ponder Christ on the cross.
Objectivity should rule the day. The Synod should give Nikolai a warning and an action plan. If he fails to follow it, he should be removed. If the only way to get him to adjust his behavior is to remove him by deposing him, our system is garbage, worse than his bad behavior.
I only blame leadership for one thing. I blame leadership for managing crisis instead of establishing good crisis management procedures. And I've seen crisis thrown at managers and they don't always have a lot of time to go the distance on procedures, but they must.
The Metropolitan Council should be the avenue the people and clergy use for ethics complaints against the clergy and hierarchy/admin. The Synod should decide what to do with that information and those decisions should be made net of the perpetrator.
In the case of the wrongful termination of Dn. Wheeler. Metropolitan Herman would have gotten a warning and a leave. While Herman was gone, Wheeler would have been reinstated. After reinstatement, Wheeler could have taken his complaints to the Met Council and the entire Synod would have had to hear it net of Herman and Kondratick. If the Synod fails to give a warning, the Met Council could appeal it as they have now done appealing Nikolai's return.
Rules and procedures must be the norm here people.
#1.1 Daniel E Fall on 2008-04-04 10:14
In the Church Daniel, rules and procedures are of little use without wisdom and love. The Church is a family of the faithful, not a secular organization. The faithful will gather around those shepherds who love them as surely as they will turn away from those who don't.
#1.1.1 Marc Trolinger on 2008-04-05 07:21
Much of what you say sounds reasonable regarding +BN to a non-informed listener or reader.
Regarding the sex offender tonsured as a reader, the bishop was informed of the multiple felony convictions from what I read and refused to take action. +MH suspended the reader and THEN +BN stated that he had suspended (is suspended the right word?) the reader. He was kind of late on that one.
The Orthodox of Alaska seem to have big problems with +BN, so much so that they go far beyond 'simple, innocent' little mistakes or excessive zeal/harshness on +BNs part. If he is not removed, I would venture to say that there will be little need of a bishop in Alaska other than to close down the empty churches. The believers will depart and the priests will resign.
Sure, there will always be a few who will follow anyone in power and they will keep the major churches open with very few people attending the Divine Liturgy.
#1.1.2 Yanni on 2008-04-05 18:14
Excuse me Miam. The believers should will not depart. It is the nonbelievers that will depart. What did Christ to, to not be Unbelieving, but Believing? Will you take those words as someones words, or will you take it as Christ's words. Embarrassing to say that believers will depart and priests will resign. So those priests that resign don't believe they were ordained through the Holy Spirit. Please forgive me. I forgive you. with Love. unworthy servant
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2008-04-07 23:08
Daniel E. Fall......... I was wondering where you are from. You can learn alot from Nikolai.... you can take him home with you. We had enough of his arrogance. You two can get along fine.
#1.1.3 sara on 2008-04-06 16:04
Daniel, you don't get it. We understand you’re trying to go the high road here, but we still don’t think you get it.
How is comparing one's self to Christ hanging on the cross not bizarre? It's sacrilegious, its blasphemous! It does qualify as bizarre in the minds of the vast majority of people who exercise common sense. It definitely is bizarre to any who take the Crucifixion seriously! There are two levels to this that you need to understand. The first is that one person died on the Cross for OUR sins, voluntarily. The other person is being held to account for his own sins and behavior. One person never made people prostrate down before him in submission even though he had the power to. The other regularly does it and does not have the standing for it. One person exhibited compassion and forgiveness and sought to reach out and bring in people who did not believe or agree with him. The other person will do what he has to do destroy those that do not believe or agree with him. One is God, one thinks he’s God. You get the differences? That’s not bizarre? You have to at least admit, that coming from a bishop, its in pretty bad taste. What would register as “bizarre” on your scale?
The second level in which this is relevant, is it’s a play in the media so that people will think that he’s being unfairly persecuted by a bunch of ingrates from the lower 48. “Look, I’ve done no wrong. We have people from the lower 48 who do not understand the culture and the church up here and are persecuting me due to that misunderstanding. You, people, in Alaska, are, by extension, being mocked and disrespected by these people as well. Join me in turning them back! By the way, look at the beautiful Iconography I’ve brought in! Like my designer cassocks?” He’s a politician trying to spin a situation to his gain. He’s trying to play the poor, tormented soul at the hands of, well, evildoers. You look at how he makes his answers to serious questions and you’d think you’re listening to Hillary Clinton on the stump. I’m surprised that he hasn’t said that he’s had to run through sniper fire to enter the church in Anchorage! But he’s got a better one, he’s going to sacrilege the crucifixion for his own benefit – surely the thought of nails in his hands is enough to evoke pity from everyone.
I also don’t understand your feeling, which has been said by others, that the Church needs to be reduced to a book of hard and fast laws and everything done strictly by the book. That’s a fallacy here because the Church is based on a God that’s merciful. Christ came down and said take up your bed on the Sabbath. He scandalized the leaders of the Synagogue. How can you dare do that on the Sabbath? Did Christ care – he pointed out there hypocrisy? He came to show that the rules are not an end in themselves and that God’s mercy and commandments transcends them! Where can mercy come into play when you have rigid laws defining the bounds of everything you can do!?
You talk about corporations. I don’t know who you work for, but if you work for any Fortune 500 company, and many others, and start ranting about some protected diversity group, you’re not going to get a warning, you’re going to get fired! No questions asked. Due process? Due process your butt! The corporation doesn’t want someone that’s going to make them look bad, someone that can get them in a lot of financial liability because of their words or actions. I know, I’ve heard of it from friends of mine. One Friday, a guy goes home, comes in on Monday dressed like a female. The LEGAL COUNSEL, NOT THE MANAGEMENT, took his colleagues into a room and read them the riot act. If anyone did not acknowledge that Nicholas (Not his name) was now Nicole (not her name) they would be terminated. Due process consisted of filling out the termination forms. First offense? Well, it’s your last too!
What we have here, with Nikolai, is a repeated pattern of behavior by a guy who has a perception of what being a bishop is that is diametrically opposed to what a good bishop is. In a corporate setting, he’s failing to meet his objectives – a bad performer. He’s not a team player, doesn’t play well with others, doesn’t reach out, doesn’t promote the growth of his underlings. He would be put on probation. Keeps it up, next year, he’ll be gone. And he might not have even committed a grievous offense, just wasn’t doing his job well and wasn’t being nice. But, because this isn’t a corporation, we can’t get rid of our lowest 10% each year – maybe we need to redo the statutes to institute that. It would be nice if we could!
All of your talk about going to the MC after the wrongful termination of Wheeler is all fine and dandy, but you have to have an MC that you can trust and that is accountable and that takes their responsibilities seriously. People that can be removed for performance reasons. At that time we had an MC that was signing off on bogus auditor reports! You, SERIOUSLY, think he would have had a chance? Daniel, I got a bridge in Brooklyn I’m carrying the deed to, can I sell it to ya?
The problem here is that you’re falling into the trap set by Nikolai, originally set by Kondratick. They think, because they have no other defense, that if they can question and manipulate the process that people are either going to get fatigued or will bog down in the process of the process or find a fatal contradiction in the process that they will eventually get off. The facts, screw the facts, we gotta go after the process because the facts will bury us alive! Live by technicality, die by the facts. Only the civil government is so anal about process and that’s a good deal because of a lot of moulding them through out our history and the history of civilization as a whole and because, of course, they can put you away for a long long time. Don’t think that the rigidity of the civil process has to hamstring the process of a private, religious organization. We have our norms, we have our standards, we have the flexibility, as well, to handle problems. Are we being inherently unfair because we don’t have Miranda rights, or fingerprinting, or a preliminary hearing, or other standards of civil law? No. Our mission is not civil governance. We are protectors of something bigger.
Look, this is not just about tonsuring a sex offender. That was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. This wasn’t even started with the “festivities” by Isidore during the last Ascension. That was just what brought this to the fore. It started with Lydia Black’s eviction and then he denied it, but everyone knew what the facts were. Why couldn’t he own up to an act if he felt it was right? What about the deposition of Fr. Poulson and the way that was carried out? Was bringing Kondratick and Brum up to Alaska to “talk sense” into Poulson at a trial right and when he stood his ground performed an ecclesiastical hit? What do the statutes say about the trial of a priest? Its done with diocesan priests, his peers, no? Why is NO ONE complaining about THAT breach of the process? We have him assaulting priests and subdeacons in the altar during services. We have repeated humiliation of human beings by having to bow down and apologize at his feet for something he didn’t like. We have a living situation that’s a little more than questionable. His housemate, his chancellor, his mitred archimandrite, the rector of his seminary, and the dean of his largest church TAKES PILLS and he’s SO concerned that he says to tell him to sleep it off. What if Isidore took some real bad stuff. Daniel, Nikolai would have let him die. Do you get the gravity of this? Nikolai probably let him sleep it off because it’s a cry for help he had probably seen many times before and did nothing about. Then how does he react when it sees the light of day? Amazingly people who witnessed acts on the Ascension all of a sudden had a change of heart and didn’t see the 800 lb gorilla in the room. If there was a kid that exhibited this kind of behavior in the sandbox, you wouldn’t put your kid in the same sandbox, but you’re saying that the clergy in Alaska, who you do not even know, have to play in that sandbox! That’s cruel.
However, all through out this, what has happened? Something better than due process! Not even acknowledging there’s a problem. The Synod practices a corollary to if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around does it make a noise? Their version is if something bad happens and no one says anything, has it really happened? The Synod and others have turned the other way mainly because Bobby would make a few calls and people would be told to take it or else – now he’s gone. Now when this stuff gets out and people get to know the real Nikolai he wants to make it look like he’s an innocent sheep being mauled by the wolves and you, Daniel, are more than game to play along. He’s been lucky because he’s playing off the anti Herman sentiment as a way to argue that he’s being persecuted. Because we have a compromised Metropolitan and Synod we are to see that whatever they do to rectify the Alaskan situation that its just done to save their owns tushes!
He wants people to believe that Syosset is going after him because of the money. It’s a great argument and one that always stirs up emotions. But there’s a problem with it. In fact, there’s a few problems. You would then have to have that example of steadfastness in his responsibility, Isidore, get drunk and try to serve and cause him to make inappropriate adavances on Sidebottom. You would have to push Dushkin into Nikolai’s arms and give him an offer he couldn’t refuse so that the Nikolai would tonsure him. You would have to have Lydia Black provoke him into evicting her in the dead of night. Ladies and gentlemen, do you really believe that the inept powers at Syosset could have ever come up with a conspiracy on this level?
Look at how Nikolai behaves. Nikolai didn’t like what Kucynda said once at a joint MC/Synod meeting, so what was his response? Spiritual court! And what would Nikolai’s canonical case against Kucynda have been? “Uh… he made a motion that, well… you know… I as a bishop didn’t like! And I’m a bishop, so, well… you know… I’m RIGHT! Now, get down and prostrate an apology to me!” He was given a chance, last month, yet again, to go back, repent (as he asked), be good (as he said he would), and what happens? He starts on his reign of terror again (as we expected). Why? Because he saw that the governing body of the Church won’t touch him. If he went back up and started to be a new and improved Nikolai, people MAY take a second look, but he went back to his BAU attitude.
So, in the end, can they remove him for being a bad bishop? For doing bad things that aren’t clearly delineated in the canons or statutes? Yes, they can, and they should. We need to maintain a level of decent behavior and now is as good a time as any to start. Should we worry that this will set a bad precedent in the future? Well, not with this Synod. After all, they’re being dragged kicking and screaming into this disciplinary action like they were with Kondratick. With a future Synod? Nah, because hopefully we’ll have men of God in the future!
#1.1.4 Stonewall on 2008-04-07 09:31
Inconsistencies throughout the last three years, or more.
Look on the bright side for the Bishops ... at least the spotight on the missing millions has been shifted away. It's pretty sad to see that as a positive. To be twisting in the wind at least infers that you are attached to some fixed point that you are twisting around. Where is the fixed point for the OCA? Sad to say it's not Christ by the look of things.
Inconsistant messages -- confusion and indecision is the message, meetings without resolution is a message. Years of this has not brought the OCA to a standstill - it has gone off course, which is even worse. By continuing down the wrong path you are farther, and more confused than the moment you first lose your way. In terms of hunting, deep woods hiking, or desert conditions you must do a "stop and think".
Earlier today I was stopped at a light next to a local church.
As is common they will have a 'thought for today' - sort of a Hallmark Greeting Card snippet of a Christian message. Could the Synod even begin to formulate a similar, brief, positive message for us? No. At this point they could hardly agree on ordering a box of doughnuts.
#1.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 10:44
You certainly pose a very valid question. My impression is that it is not that simple. My impression is that for what ever reason Metropolitan Herman felt that he HAD to give Bishop Nikolai "the benefit of the doubt." Bishop Nikolai, of course, royally (hey, he seems to think he should be treated like a king, right?), and Archbishop Job was able to point to concrete problems that have arisen SINCE Bishop Nikolai was reinstated. Now Metropolitan Herman is happy to have an excuse to act.
Some will no doubt say that I am giving His Beatitude WAY too much credit. That could well be proven to be the case. However, it seems to me that this interpretation fits with the tone of the letters after the Lesser Synod, the sending of Fr Alexander, the annullment of Bishop Nikolai's appointment during his leave of absence, and the speed with which the Metropolitan acted upon receiving Vladyka Job's letter. Most of all, however, it answers a big question in my mind - something that struck me very odd in the face of the lifting of the leave of absence: when the Metropolitan Council voted unanimously to beg the Synod to reconsider, why did it appear on the OCA website? Things that the Metropolitan didn't want to get out, even the reason for Fr Michael Oleksa not being seated in the same session of the Council, have not be published on the OCA website, yet this was. It would seem that the Metropolitan at least didn't object, and I can't help but wonder if maybe even he wasn't quite happy to have an excuse to act. Maybe he didn't like being threatened or otherwise put between a rock and a hardplace. He certainly seemed to take serious exception to Bishop Nikolai cc Patriarchs Bartholomew and Aleksei.
I certainly hope I am not going to just have my hopes dashed again, but for the moment, I am trying to be cautiously optimistic.
#1.3 Mark Harrison on 2008-04-04 16:58
You are right about his Beatitude. It is a shame, really. With many of the people involved (with the probable exception of His Grace the Right Reverend Nikolai, Bishop of Sitka, Anchorage and Alaska), one gets the feeling somehow that in the right situation they could have been simply mere Christians, living a decent life and whose acquisition of the spirit of peace would have been good for others all around.
But then, I'm just the eternal optimist, aren't I?
#1.4 Edmund Unneland on 2008-04-04 19:28
Finally, someone that is making some sense on this website.
Thanks for trying to find a POSITIVE solution to this problem.
It's problem solvers like you that make this a better place to live in.
#1.5 ethelrod on 2008-04-06 11:59
This gets more involved than most soap operas! What's next, the SOB's denying supporting + Nicolai? + Herman has no choice, but to act quickly. He will go down in American Church History as the one who destroyed the OCA!
#2 Anonymous on 2008-04-03 21:50
Mark and all my brothers and sisters in Christ,
Although I am happy to hear that Archbishop Job petitioned His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman to convene another HSOB meeting sooner rather than later, I must question why the grandiose plea after the fact?
Surely the Archbishop of the midwest felt the same way during the most recent synod meeting. I do not intend to single him out, but, why did he not insist that he and his brother bishops not leave their meeting in Syosset until this Alaskan issue was resolved?
I realize that the funeral service of Archpriest Eugene Vansuch was scheduled for that Thursday evening. However, surely an alternate plan of action could have been placed in force to deal with this pressing issue.
I just have a problem with a statement being made now when surely, the Archbishop could have insisted (and rightfully so), that the issue be dealt with now while they were all present.
Why can't ANY of our bishops show this same courage while gathered amongst themselves? Why does it continually occur after the fact? Why didn't they take +Nikolai to task in person and review his letter line by line and ask him to explain to us (the bishops) what he means by his statements of defense for his actions? He is a bully and bullies need to be dealt with. This issue has absolutely nothing to do with Canon Laws, but rather a person in a position of leadership who has no regard or respect for human beings within his diocese.
The bottom line is, +Nikolai wasn't dealt with when they had the power and chance to make a bold statement by not tolerating his dispicable behavior and refusing to lift the ban on his leave of absence. +Nikolai can give interviews, say whatever he wants and there are never any repercussions for what he says. His disobedience is incredible and yet it's tolerated. Archbishop Job, the Metropolitan and all the other bishops are to blame for this idiotic decision.
On another note, how could Archimandrite Zaccheus be permitted to leave the USA and return to Moscow without having been questioned in-person by the Special Investigative Committee? I find this ludicrous.
I know many of you will continue to solely blame the Metropolitan. He does indeed deserve blame, but his fellow bishops are just as guilty of this blame. They all have mouths to speak and ears to hear. Why don't they use these when they're together?
(Editor's note: Great question, Mike. And one for which there is no good answer.)
#2.1 Michael Geeza on 2008-04-04 07:41
He makes the big bucks to make the big decisions, if he can't take the heat he needs to get out of the kitchen.
Herman has been proven to be a liar. He says exactly what he needs to say to get out of the situation. This has been publically documented.
Herman is to blame. I'm with Paul Meyendorff. They should all resign and then be re-elected. If they are worthy, they will be re-elected. I also think it's time to do a recalculation of the real membership. MAYBE we do not need as many bishops as we once did. MAYBE the ethnic dioceses need to pay the assessments, like all of the other dioceses. Maybe it's time for the OCA to do some real brainstorming in the name of Christ and love rather than destroying people and their spiritual lives. It's time for a change - right from the top.
#2.1.1 MP on 2008-04-04 14:22
MAYBE the OCA should finally admit it is nothing more than one of 3 Russian Orthodox dioceses in North America.
Honestly, there are some R.O.C.O.R. churches that are more "American" than some OCA churches. What's the difference other than self-righteous attitudes in the OCA what want to claim the trademark on the term "American Church"?
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2008-04-06 13:53
It's a great question! At this point, I don't think anyone solely blames Metropolitan Herman except possibly the die hard Kondratick element.
I will point out that subsequent behavior (or lack thereof) by Bishop Nikolai has been cited by several bishops as a reason for acting now. But that is a very poor excuse for doing what should have been done earlier.
#2.1.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-04-04 14:24
My good Mr. Michael Geeza,
I appreciate your posts, don't always agree, but always appreciate.
Now, you said, "I just have a problem with a statement being made now when surely, the Archbishop could have insisted (and rightfully so), that the issue be dealt with now while they were all present."
Ah, but Archbishop JOB did try to deal with the issue. He tried four times to bring the Holy Synod to deal with it and each time either +NICOLAI or another hierarch spoke up and deliberately derailed his eminence's effort.
You lay the blame at the wrong man's feet.
--Fly On The Wall
#2.1.3 Fly On The Wall on 2008-04-04 16:34
"I must question why the grandiose plea after the fact."
Here's my take.....Clearly, at the Synod meeting, Bishop Nikolai made a plea something to the effect that he never had a chance to reconcile because he only recently heard that there were concerns and that no one approached him privately, etc. The Holy Synod's statement on oca.org said: "(The Holy Synod of Bishops) recognizes the expressed desire of (Bishop Nikolai) to address these concerns, and to take whatever action is necessary to restore peace."
However between March 27 and April 2, Bishop Nikolai took several actions that were far from peace-loving (cf. Bishop Job's letter), so Bishop Job's "after the fact" plea doesn't seem out of place to me.
#2.1.4 Jodie Captein - Oregon on 2008-04-04 16:36
You are exactly right on the point when you asked where was Archbishop Job when the decision to lift the suspension was made. For that matter where were all of the other bishops.
I believe that Metropolitan Herman has done a lot of things that he needs to step down for but this latest decision was not his fault. I understand that he told the Metropolitan Council that he opposed lifting the suspension. Okay, who were the bishops that voted for lifting it?
As I said, Metropolitan Herman has made a number of mistakes but this wasn't one of them. I just wish the other bishops had the guts to tell the whole world that they made the decision and stop hiding behind a frail old man. What a bunch of cowards. They are throwing a beaten man under the bus because they don't want to deal with a bully in Alaska.
#2.1.5 Anon. on 2008-04-04 19:35
What puzzles me is why in the world did Vladyka Dmitri and Vladyka Nathaniel so strongly support Nikolai? What in the world could be their motivation? (From what I know Dmitri is easily misguided by people around him, and Nathaniel is notorious for doing something only if it benefits him.) I suspect that the reasons go deeper than anything we may even know, considering both those bishops were around for a long time and knew of many, many of the synod's mis-doings over the years.
And then to top it off, Nathaniel gets sent to investigate! This mess would have been settled if it wasn't for him and Dmitri. I too am actually starting to feel kind of sorry for Herman having to deal with such a disfunctional bunch.
God help us!
#2.1.6 Anonymous on 2008-04-07 17:31
Thanks be to God
#3 Ted Panamarioff - Kodiak Alaska on 2008-04-03 22:33
We in Alaska, may have God answer our prayers after all.
I thank the Metropolitan Council from the bottom of my heart, as well as others who have supported the cries of the Diocese of Alaska. What wonderful news this is, that the Holy Synod is meeting again. Let us continue to pray for a better outcome from this meeting. We all may have a joyous Pascha after all, I write this as I shed tears out of JOY
WHO IS SO GREAT A GOD AS OUR GOD,THOU ART OUR GOD WHO DOEST WONDERS I just had to write this in because of my joy at this time. I pray that we will not be failed once again. Also my heratfelt thanks goes out to Archbishop Job for his support and LOVE for our GOD on behalf of the clergy and laity in Alska.Let us also, not forget to continue praying for the whole church OCA and other churches of GOD. No matter how hurt we have been we did not forget to stop praying and asking for help. Again thank you, in Christ I remain.
#4 Pauk on 2008-04-03 23:27
I hate to remind you of this, my brother, but sometimes the answer from God is not what we want to hear.
Sometimes it is a forthright and unequivocal "No."
Sometimes it is a reminder to pray, fast, suffer, persevere, and not give up (as St. Silouan said, "Remember hell, and do not despair."
I hope and pray that His answer in these cases will be that which strengthens and revitalizes us all--but in any case, as Our Lord and Savior prayed, "Thy will be done."
#4.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-08 10:53
Holy people of God write your bishops immediately and express your concerns regarding the suffering faithful of our Church in Alaska. Ask them to move swiftly and firmly to restore peace and order before it is too late!
Most of their E-mail addresses can be found by clicking the name of their diocese here:
http://www.oca.org/CAdioceses.asp?SID=8. Let us pray fervently that our all Holy, Good and Life Creating Spirit would move on their hearts to LEAD us out of this crisis before Holy Pascha.
#5 Subdeacon Robert Aaron on 2008-04-04 00:31
Let's just hope that the synod doesn't decide to reverse thier reversals reversal and gets Bishop Nikolai out of Alaska sooner rather then later.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 03:11
This time I highly doubt it , as of yesterday, I know that at least 20 priests and even more parishes had already made concrete plans to leave the OCA. The SOB has to know this by now. If they do not remove him there will be no OCA here by Pascha.
#6.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 10:33
Mark, why do you let people like this post?
"Twenty parishes...concrete plans to leave the OCA..." What complete and utter bunk and melodrama. Pray tell, what jurisdiction was going to accept them? Just the people and the priest leaving? What about the priest's pension? What about the property? And pray tell what bishop and Orthodox church will enter this frey and pick at our bones?
You simply are either spread and bold-face lie or you know nothing about Orthodoxy. Or maybe they are just going to start there own independent Orthodox Church. Now that really makes sense.
Another goofy hoax.
(Editor's note: Sadly, it is not, and I have spoken to several involved with the discussions. I did not report it, but I do not censure postings of things I personally know to be the truth, however much they may upset me personally. Feel free to live in denial, anonymous friend. Don't expect me to assist you in it, though. )
#6.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-05 06:54
My Dear Mark,
Bull. Hogwash. Unless you wish to say who, when, where, and how, you are just bluffing. As you have said so many times in the past about Kondratick supporters coming clean with what they know, it is time for you to come clean with what Orthodox Church will accept Alaskan or OCA priests without a canonical release? Laity is one thing. They can go where they wish. But not clergy and not parish property.
So, again, answer the questions. Otherwise, you are bluffing to create an outcome you desire.
(Editor's note: Nice try, but it is not the outcome I desire. Othewise I would not have spent the last 2.5 years trying to get the OCA to change. I would have simply kicked the dust from my shoes and left. I do not know where the Alaskans might end up; as many clerical postings on this site have made clear, they really don't care. As for the others, they refer to the Antiochians. Do I know the Antiochians would take them? No, I have never asked. But what makes you think they would not be released, with their parishes? What would be the point of keeping so many unhappy people and parishes in a diocese? Punishment? )
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-04-06 13:46
Quite frankly, I hope it's a double dip.
Let's hope the light bulb finally went on and Herman is asked to resign, retire, flee the country or whatever. It's time for him to be moving on!
#6.2 MP on 2008-04-04 13:27
I live here in Alaska, I am so sorry these things are going on during great and holy lent. These issues are very hard on us Alaskans. It saddens most of us here in Alaska.
Our church is tearing at the seams.
People are very hurt. The faithful are leaving the church. Some are seeking our lord in other churches. The doors are wide in other places of worship. The sheep are seeking greener pasture. I know numbers of people that have just given up. People want to be where they feel welcome. We are at a crossroads. The temptation is much greater to just give up. Most of the people say Jesus is everywhere! There is no longer a need for that old religion.
Most younger Alaskans are told by elders.
Respect where you come from.
Respect what others have given up for what you have.
Respect The lands we walk on.
keep your language. Pass on what you have learned!
Keep your faith near and dear to your heart.
Give what you can to others.
Pass on what you have learned.
Make sure your children know, what your people went through.
The people of our land has seen many tribulations.
The people of Alaska have survived many hardships.
What is going to happen now? We are in the dark. The only information is here on the internet. So many of us here in Alaska dont know what is going on. I see that there were meetings around Alaska.? Where? Who is attending these Meetings? So can anyone else attend?
The meetings, are just for clergy.?
The local news has more information?
The news paper has some?
Most of the negative stuff no one wants to hear.
I am a unworthy person. I ask the lord for Forgiveness everyday I wake. I ask anyone reading this, Prey for us!
Prey for the ones that have lost their way.
Please prey for our church. Help us Find our way again!
For All our Fathers Please find your flock. They are lost, they can come home again. Who is going to listen? You have been blesses with a great gift. Tell the people, You are welcome in. Tell the ones inside, welcome in the timid. A small gesture of faith, goes a long way.
People go to church to be a part of something larger.
Make the outsiders welcome.
The Boat of salvation is for everyone, isnt it?
Not just for the ones who are in allready?
A small Voice, A speck of a person, Am I.
Lord have mercy on me. A low man.
Please forgive me.
#7 Dasher on 2008-04-04 05:26
Even though you have done nothing against me, I will honor your plea for forgiveness and forgive you myself.
With a heavy heart I greet you and ask you to please hold on to the faith you have embraced. Please be an extension of God's love to your people like St. Herman was in his days. He was not a priest but he cared for many people showing the love of God by his example and many words of instruction. Thank you very much for your concerns for your fellow members of the same flock of Christ.
I can tell you this much, when bishops come in and have meetings, when there are problems in a diocese or smaller places, everyone is welcome to express their concerns. Your statements, appeals, and concerns will be heard just as loud as the shouts or demands. Please contact your priest, or your neighboring priest for information when Archbishop Nathaniel and Bishop Tikhon will be in your area. These two bishops are very gentle and are willing to listen to you until you are done talking. The priests have the information with them and are supposed to have that information available to you and everyone else where you could make arrangements to meet with the bishops with anyone you choose to meet them with. Ask for the email address, provided, that way, it will not be a constant ring and no answer situation and provide your contact information. If you are told you are not allowed to see the bishops, the fathers will have given you wrong information or hold information from you. You could do small groups where less interruptions will occur compared to one larger that will constantly distract you as you try to speak.
As a lowly priest always making mistakes, I hold on to those sayings you wrote about and one that I will add is:
Yuliuqsaunaci eglertelarci. 'As you struggle with life, Don't play around with people and judge them who are in authority over you, equal to you, or those who may be under you.'
As a parish priest, I am constantly reminded of this even from my relatives who don't even go to our church.
In every battle field, there are numerous victims who are wounded and cut short. This battle should really be directed towards fighting against the evil one who is destroying our lives, this alcohol, this dope, this neglect, this pride of self-rightness, this laziness which is destroying our lives. I am saddened to realize we are putting up our weapons against the people who are entrusted with our souls and our salvation. Strive for the salvation of your soul. Seek the Kingdom of God and those around you will follow you, too, even the priests will have to minister to you. This is when you will indeed break free and be free. FREE FROM SIN
I hope I can catch a ride with you on the same boat of salvation and join you and enjoy this supper with you in eternity rather than be placed in the same room in the mansion of our Lord with someone who hasn't forgiven anyone.
Your Brother in Christ,
bush alaskan priest
Round 1 to the Lesser Synod.
Round 2 to Nikolai.
Round 3? Stay tuned.
But all kidding aside, the two bishops now in Alaska will be able to report to the entire Synod by the now April meeting and the brethren can come to a conclusion as to what is best for Alaska.
Here is my two cents......
Nikolai voluntarily steps down and Herman is asked by the Synod to also retire.
How much more can we endure from a Metropolitan who with each passing day proves to everyone that his leadership is void of grace and truth.
Let the healing begin.
#8 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 06:00
I second your motion!
#8.1 MP on 2008-04-05 04:14
Regarding this solution, who will pay their retirement? And if so, how much is it going to be? As a parishioner, that is especially curious regarding money that is donated now and wanting to know exactly how money in the OCA is appropriated.
We in Alaska were never aware of this idea of church as a business. Since we are all called to be good stewards of our money now we have the added responsibility of making sure that all funds are accounted for.
#8.2 Tatiana Berestoff on 2008-04-06 00:57
Their retirement willl come from the pension fund that every Bishop priest and lay person that works for the church pays into. The amount you get is based on your five highest years of pay. This pension fund is separate from all other funds
#8.2.1 retired and collecting a pension on 2008-04-07 08:42
Many Years, Vladyka Job
#9 annon on 2008-04-04 06:22
I can only say: praise God!
#10 Benjamin on 2008-04-04 06:42
In the face of absolutely no leadership and in the face of Nikolai's absolute arrogance, this has really become a very, very simple matter. The OCA is dead! End of story. Let the faithful find other affiliations so they can truly celebrate the Resurrection and their salvation. Christ reigns in our hearts, not in some stupid old men who like to call themselves icons and stand on eagle rugs all day. Where in that does one find a true image of Christ!?! Where in that does one find an example of Christ to follow and imitate?!?
#11 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 06:59
The OCA is NOT dead and you can take your glibness and hit the road. If you want to leave the OCA, if you were ever in it, then please don't let the door hit you in the hiney.
I am so sick of people like you. I have been in the OCA my entire life and I am not going to let its mission here in North America be hijacked. The OCA, even in hits current bruised and battered state, can and will recover and if you, my friend don't believe, then get out of the way of those who don't share your fatalistic view.
#11.1 A Son of the OCA and Proud of It on 2008-04-04 21:05
And what are you planning on doing to save the defunct OCA? Are you planning on taking on Herman, Nikolai and the rest of the tired old men who are certainly no icons of the Risen Christ? I'm sorry, but God's church is supposed to be led by men who truly imitate Christ and inspire us to follow by example. There's nothing about the OCA leadership I'd want to imitate! And I'm pretty sure there's nothing in their examples that would even bring me to salvation! But Happy Pascha to you!
#11.1.1 anon on 2008-04-06 07:59
How many of these "tired old men" do you know personally? How many of them have you spent any time with? How many of them have you personally worked with, prayed with, suffered with, rejoiced with?
I know them all and yes, they are old, some more tired then others, but your simplistic arm-chair assessment of life in the OCA is shallow.
Indeed Herman is not up to the job, and Nikolai has simply offended his way out of office in more ways then one.
So would you like to develop your conviction of the rest with some substance and not your opinion?
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2008-04-06 13:40
No need for me to defend my opinion. After all, your statement is nothing more than an opinion also. There is no substance in your statement either. Stating you personally know all of the bishops does not make it so without proof or evidence to back it up. I still maintain the OCA is NOT the Church founded by God. It is an organization that has failed the faithful miserably. Substance? Well, there is the matter of large sums of money stolen from the faithful and nothing was done. There is the matter that there appears to be a continued cover up and nothing was done. There appears to be the matter of Alaska not providing its financial statements to the auditors and nothing was done. There is the Isadore matter and apparent cover up attempt and nothing was done. There is the ongoing scandal in Alaska and nothing was done. You want substance? Which of these tired old men do you think are best imitating Christ since they're supposed to be such icons? And which want do you want to follow?
#18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-07 05:14
Re: No Hope - A little premature, I think. Archbishop Nathaniel and Bishop Tikhon listened graciously and were kind. Does that mean their report will recommend Bishop Nikolai's removal? I have no idea, but I will not pre-judge their opinion until they issue it.
#11.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-06 12:49
Like Charlie Brown kicking the football, I am allowing my soul a little hope that maybe, just maybe, this time, will be THE time. Maybe the Synod of Bishops (the leaders of the Church) will actually make contact with reality.
The Synod of Bishops throughout this three year fiasco, have waited helplessly and hopelessly, for the leadership they themselves should have offered. They have hoped for a Fr. Bob type even a imperial authority, but settled for a Herman. They even in their disregard for the office that God had given them abdicated leadership in their last meeting to Nikolai himself. He, at the last meeting had an agenda, controlled the agenda, and won the day, because he exercised leadership. Satan loves a vacuum of leadership in the Holy Church.
Maybe at this meeting, the next meeting, our latest hope, they will against their natures, but because of their offices, finally act as leaders. The only one the the Bishops who has had any vision of this situation for three years is Job and he has again and again at the hands of his brothers suffered for it. We have really had it with the Bishop of Alaska - This time? But when and if he is gone will the leadership problem be better or the same? Will they finally listen to Job or will they again heal to the will of Herman? Has your ability to discern Holy Synod been fixed?? We will see.
Met. Herman the head leader of those given by God to lead, came to the last meeting of the Synod with no agenda, made no opening statement, and offered no defense. All of the Bishops went into the meeting as they have all other meetings for the last fifteen years (maybe longer). They all assumed and believed that someone else would lead. They would like always listen and kindly nod their heads at what ever was told them. They would acknowledge the paper in their hand or the statements offered. They would receive the explanation given very politely but with no real effort or inquiry as to the truth or veracity of what was offered. They were the most passive of leaders and always being lead.
As light has shined on those they trusted be it Theodosius, Bob, or Herman they have and again and again been burnt by those they allowed to lead them and now, this time, the sheep of Alaska were being devoured and the American Orthodox witness was being completely undermined.
Is this the time they make contact with that ball? Why has it taken them so long to recognize what is manifest? Why has it taken so long to open their eyes and see that this Metropolitan has repeatedly not Led and when he has it is in the wrong direction? Just like when Bob and Theodosius were in their leadership roles.
Remember the Metropolitan telling us and them that their was nothing to Dn Wheelers accusations. That was a lie and was/is not leadership.
Remember Herman telling us that as treasurer he had no idea of the checks being written and taking no responsibility for the position he had and the money being diverted. That again is not leadership.
Do you remember how the Met. condemned two Dioceses for speaking the truth out loud. That is not leadership.
Do you see how he pulled the rug out from under Fr Garklavs who he sent to Alaska? Didn't he do the same thing to the first investigative committee.? is that leadership?
He has allowed a wolf to go back amongst sheep in Alaska and that is not leadership at least in how Jesus defined it.
Can we now agree on the obvious that Metropolitan Herman is not a leader and should not bear a leadership title? Can we agree that he is in fact a man unworthy to be a Metropolitan, or Bishop or priest or Deacon or anything other than whatever Nikolai is to become. Herman is a reflection of Nikolai. If they look at each other they will see them-self. A lier, a manipulator, a person lacking love, judgmental, a slanderer, a man lacking discernment, one who gives false testimony, a self lover etc. Not a leader!!
I hope that the synod will follow Job's efforts to lead. I hope that they will not pull the football out from under Fr. Garklavs again.
I hope the blindness of the Synod is really healed this time but I am just as prepared to have that football pulled away - Again. I'm tired of ending up on my ecclesiastical backside and hope the Bishops feel the same. After a while Charlie Brown just looks stupid!!
#12 Anon on 2008-04-04 07:26
Again, the Canons and the Statutes of the church are procedurally vague.
Let's not fully blame Metropolitan Herman for confusion, nor perhaps should we blame Nikolai, although he has instigated most of this by his actions.
If a leave of absence is invalid or supposed to be invalid, then the decisions made during such a leave would be considered invalid. And it is not so difficult to understand why the Metropolitan thought these things. The Nescott report changes nothing. It just goes to show the Metropolitan was trying to manage procedural gray areas and probably did so incorrectly. big deal (sarcastically)
The problem here is there is no clear structure in place for dealing with a Bishop behaving badly. When Metropolitan Herman told Wheeler to "take it like a man", again, something needed to be in place to deal with this bad behavior.
The Metropolitan Council needs to establish a means for people to complain and when the roster or list of complaints grows, or the complaint is as substantive as whistleblower termination, they need to listen and address the issues with the Synod in a timely and immediate fashion. A single clergyman or Bishop ain't the place.
If we walk forward trusting that this is just a bad couple of Bishops, we hand nothing substantive to future generations and they will certainly fall into similar traps.
Let's not be fools.
Let's not be idiots and think the problem goes away with the leaders.
Set it up so these problems land on ears that hear.
#13 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-04 07:35
What are you talking about? The rules are all out there! Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not covet, etc. Don't blame Herman? Of course I blame Herman for all the times he has misled us all. When will he tell the truth and do the right things? Not in this lifetime!
You say "let us not be fools!" TOO LATE! Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me! Shame on us all for taking all this for so long! Save your money until Herman and Nicholai both resign!!! Then maybe we'll have a chance!
#13.1 Disgusted on 2008-04-04 20:21
I must ask you, what has the Metropolitan done right?
He changes the rules to suit his needs.
He is just out of control and no one can do anything about it.
#13.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-08 17:20
Thank you +JOB,
You have stepped up to the plate once more! Thank you!
Metropolitan +Herman is listening to your requests!
I am so glad that another meeting will take place the last week of Lent and that information will be shared this time!
I am sure it must have been very annoying to have all these reports and information out there without it being shared!
Also +Nikolai just sounds like a very loose canon, even on a cautious decision of the HS for him to go back, to go after Garclavs or Oleksa. That Garclavs resign??? This is just a plain horrible testimony to what power and control can do anyone unchecked. +Nikolai's actions just bespeak of a louder cry for a leave of absence for him 9if not more).
It is also very diappointing that Fr. Oleksa was in NY and didn't get to talk to the MC. I am glad the MC asked about him speaking. It sounds as if +Herman didn't let him. The person who has lived there and worked among the native Alaskans doesn't get to speak. This secrecy stuff is all very unproductive and abusive. This is all so lame.
The recent resignation of Fr. Alexander Rentel should say a lot abou the climate within our OCA hierarchs. His resignation intrigues me. I am sure he must, as well as SVS, be using great care and restraint in speaking their minds. The new SVS petition, however, allows us to see that even SVS can only take so much. They try to remain dignified in their quest for justice and righteousness.'
It looks as if +JOB presented needed mentorship to +Herman. Wisely he took it. What mentorship is +Nikolai responding to? Not much. He may have to in the near special session of the HS.
#14 Patty Schellbach on 2008-04-04 08:19
It is really good to see that we have a number of prominent woman in the OCA speaking up against the decisions of the SOB's. Throughout the history of the Orthodox Church, it has been the WOMEN within the Church who have saved her. In Russia during Communism was the most recent episode, however, there are examples throughout history. From the time of the Myrrh Bearing Women until now, they have become the ones to carry the Truth forward.
#15 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 08:22
Yes, and let's just hope that we don't allow another
good ol' boys club to get in control with their secrets, their lording it over others with their authority, and with their
human failing not subject to any checks and balances.
This could happen you know! If the disease is not discerned, exposed and conquered, then making victims of some and installing others in their place will only be grounds for the disease to start its evil growth once again! BEWARE of those who are moving into positions to take over and rule without the whole truth coming out, without true repentance and forgiveness coming into play publicly, for it is now a public arena that has been allowed by those who have refused simple repentance (i.e., turning from sin to righteousness) and forgiveness to have their rightful place in a timely manner.
#15.1 Karen Jermyn on 2008-04-05 07:42
Regarding the seating of Father Oleksa at the Metropolitan Council, not knowing the operating rules / by-laws, it would still seem to hold true that any person representing their diocese would have to do so WITH an episcopal blessing.
Regardless of whether it was Bishop Nikolai (as diocesan) or metroppolitan Herman (as administrator) it does not look favorable in either case, nor does it matter what the Metropolitan Council thinks is "good will". The hierarch has the last word - this is Orthodoxy, not a Protesant Episcopal Church Council. The Metropolitan Council can't have it both ways. This should be understood.
There have been a lot of mistakes made everywhere. You can't validate another "just because"....
#16 ANONYMUS on 2008-04-04 08:56
True, but it was Bishop Nikolai's prerogative to give his blessing as well.
#16.1 Jodie Captein - Oregon on 2008-04-04 16:49
Ah, yes, but consider this nameless friend... The action or nonaction by the Metropolitan Council, or taking a position or no position by the MC speaks volumes. NO public position says we don't care. And public dissention by an MC member speaks volumes as well.
Had the MC held +Herman to task back when Wheeler got canned, held Theodo.. and Kondratick, maybe things wouldn't have gotten as bad and a million bucks might have been saved.
The MC needs to stand up and speak when the hierarchs are being bad, intentionally or otherwise.
While a Bishop might be needed for the Oleska appointment, how is it that a Bishop can allow a resignation and leave the post open?
If everyone on the MC resigned, would all the Bishops then have full control?
If a Bishop can take away the seat without consequence, again, this is a poor governance structure.
By nearly every account, including the wishywashiness of both +Herman and +Job, our governance is garbage.
And for those tooting +Job's proverbial horn, I'm with Mike Geeza above, who thinks they are all pretty wishy washy.
Wishy washy happens when governance structures aren't clear. They ain't sure what to do because deposing Nikolai is a bit much, but he probably deserves a demotion.
A ruling Bishop with dominion over his flock accountable only to God is clearly not a concept that is proving workable.
Didn't Constantine understand this back in about 1053?
#16.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-04 16:55
Dear Number 16 Anonymous,
The OCA Statutes are binding on all, including bishops. I am assuming that all of the current bishops feel that the Statutes are in conformance with Holy Tradition as they have the final word and the Statutes still stand.
In this instance, it was +Nikolai who broke the rules. Father Oleksa's election was perfectly within the norms of the OCA statutes. +Nikolai does have the right to withhold his blessing but it should be for just cause, not just because he has the authority. The Church is not like a business in a "fire at will" state nor is it a dictatorship. Believe it or not, a bishop's conduct is prescribed and regulated by the Holy Church, of which Christ is the head.
The last word is always the Lord's. In this case, the penultimate word may belong to the Holy Synod. In case you did not notice, the Metropolitan Council did nothing but recommend that the Holy Synod reconsider its action. Perfectly proper and perfectly Orthodox.
#16.3 Carl on 2008-04-04 17:37
No, the hierarch does not have the last word - this is not the Imperial Magisterium - this is a conciliar and hierarchal church. When our leaders have failed miserably in the basic functions as shepherds and allowed their flocks to be mauled by the enemy or worst, committed financial and/or moral crimes, then it is the responsibility of the Body - the Royal Priesthood to take action. Fr. Michael should have been seated at the MC meeting. Period!
#16.4 Rich on 2008-04-04 20:27
Re the removal of +Nikolai as diocesan bishop of Alaska, there is too much emphasis on the canons and the letter of canon law. When a bishop is consecrated, he indeed receives great authority, but some of that is automatically ceded to the entire episcopacy as well, i.e. to the national synod. Bishops have been removed for reasons that don’t fit into canon law, to wit, the removal of the Rasputin appointed bishops in Russia by the Holy Synod and more recently, the removal of the book-burning bishop of Yekaterinburg. If the Synod determines a bishop isn’t cutting the mustard, it can remove him with or without benefit of canon law. A loose-cannon bishop is not all-powerful before the Synod.
#16.5 Terry C. Peet on 2008-04-05 14:11
The 'removal' of hierarchs to which Terry Peet refers was effected by recourse to the Holy Canons, and the procedures followed were in accordance with the Holy Canons. ....
+Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald)
#16.5.1 email@example.com on 2008-04-08 08:08
Thank you +Job, Fr. Michael Oleksa, St. Vlads, MC, 41 priests in AK, and each and everyone that has a heart of gold, helping us here in Alaska. Thank you so much! Just when we really need that "next wind", God is so Merciful! Let us continue to march forward singing praises to our Lord.
And I hope BN is out of here before his supporters decide to see him walking on water. Scary enough that they see him as Christ suffering, and ressurecting.... BEFORE PASCHA? It is really getting scary here in Alaska.
#17 Anna on 2008-04-04 09:05
Thank God for the day +Job was consecrated a bishop of the OCA.
I feel like writing a troparion in memory of the occasion.
#18 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 09:20
Perhaps " in honor of" is what you meant rather than " in memory of " ........?
#18.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-05 10:44
Thank God for Vladyka Job's willingness to take a leadership role in this fiasco. Mark, if other members of the Holy Synod supported his stand, why didn't they cosign the letter?
Meanwhile, I came across this passage written by St. Paisuis Velichkofsky on enduring reproaches and insults:
"... Thus, you also, my soul, should strengthen yourself, endure every insult and dishonor, and every reproach you should receive with joy, and not only without exalting yourself in self-justification, but you should even ask forgiveness, since every offense, insult, reproach, evil speaking, and every kind of wrong accusation directed against you gives you humility and grace. If you do not endure all this but become embittered, exalted, and angry against the offenders, you cannot attain perfection and be saved. Such behavior is characteristic of beginners, of passionate men, of the faint-hearted and those feeble of mind."
-- Field Flowers, Little Russian Philokalia Vol. IV.
If only certain members of our Holy Synod would read, and heed, these words of wisdom, perhaps humility and grace would rule the day.
Glen Rock, NJ
#19 David Maliniak on 2008-04-04 10:18
I am going to go out on a limb and predict that +BN will NOT attend this next meeting.
#20 prediction on 2008-04-04 10:23
If Nikolai had any common sense, which we know he sorely lacks, he'd being calling the movers right now to make arrangements for right after the Synod meets.
I very much doubt that he is going to make the trip this time as everybody knows what has to be done and what will be done. There's no pleading his case this time, there's a discussion of what measures will be taken, not if measures will be taken. No more chances given to him for a facing saving solution in which they gave him chances to handle this is in a way that allowed him some dignity. Now is the time for the hammer to come down. A lack of action this time with the TREMENDOUS outcry from people who have not spoken about the scandals at all, from insititutions, from everyone, and OCA will die. Remarkably, some of the bishops realize this.
Nikolai has just under two weeks. What's he going to do? Is he going to set fire to everything? Is he going to do what he railed against: going to the press? Are his cronies, like Dresdow, going to re-evaluate their positions? Is Nikolai going to go down in a blaze of glory and take as many as he can with him, thereby proving everyone right in why this No Man of God has to go?
The one thing we KNOW he isn't going to do is sincerely look at the situation and recognize that he can't keep his post and do the right thing and leave on his own with some degree of dignity. He is going to make this severely bloody and painful for all involved. Even if he spills the beans about people, there are so many people who have spoken and demand action, priests resigning, etc., that spilling the beans would just be a vindictive act, but not beneath him. It is in times of crisis that the true nature of men is revealed. I doubt that what we will see is a man who takes the high road, but rather proves all his assertions to the press wrong. He will, through his actions, vindicate all those that call for his ouster.
The most disturbing of his actions since he returned to Alaska was liking himself to Christ on the Cross. As Job said, that was "atrocious", if not downright blasphemous. He also then proceeded to acts of retribution such as demanding Garklavs resignation, etc. How little Nikolai truly knows of what happened on the Cross. Nikolai would do well to remember that hanging nailed to the Cross, Christ forgave those that put Him there. He didn't act against them. Words that Nikolai chose to forget in his analogy. Words that never crossed his mind. Words he doesn’t know…
#21 Anonymous on 2008-04-04 11:22
Mr. Geeza asks why Archbishop Job did not do or say more at the time of the last Synod meeting. Having appeared many times in professional practice before boards and commissions which operate by group dynamics comparable to a synod, I would have to say that sometimes the personalities and the process only let you do a certain amount at an early stage and you just gotta let matters take their course for a while. I tend to think that the Archbishop used good judgment as to what to do, when, and how given factors we can only guess at.
Mr. Fall expresses the opinion that the OCA could use greater clarity in its disciplinary regulations (probably true) and that Bishop Nikolai is guilty of only a single huge faux pas (Dushkin) and a single minor character flaw (he calls it being a jerk) (in my opinion both false) to suggest that he cannot, and perhaps should not, properly be removed. There is abundant evidence to the contrary.
Before I make my comments I must apologize for presuming to take a position based only on internet evidence and without hearing effectively from the accused. It is possible that in the details some of the charges would be softened or even withdrawn (or contrariwise proven more decisively than they appear here), but found so entirely untrue as to warrant no removal? I cannot even imagine it, but still feel I should write with this small caveat.
Since Mr. Fall chose a business analogy to express his views, how about summarizing the contrary evidence like this?
1. He has violated written corporate (indeed industry-wide) policy and safety standards (Dushkin ordination)
2. He has alienated the great majority of his fellow workers. (the clergy of Alaska, board members, etc.)
3. He has decimated what is probably the most important institution under his stewardship (the seminary) by alienating donors, teachers, board members, students and volunteers in truly staggering proportions given the limited numbers of each that St. Herman's had in the first place.
4. He has, as most recently, but by no means exclusively, demonstrated in the late, great and egregious comparison of his own involuntary, well-deserved, and seemingly destructive sufferings to the entirely voluntary, undeserved and redemptive sufferings of Christ, shown how **completely** incapable he is of making his ministry about the one thing a bishop's ministry MUST be: "Christ in you the hope of glory," and how helplessly he is doomed to making it about exactly what it has always been but must NOT be: himself and his personality, perks, power, (and even prelest?). It is like any other example of bureaucratic pettifoggery we have seen in the arts or our own direct experience: power + tragic flaw = the wreckage of lives and institutions. How many examples do we see of this daily in government or business offices, where the stated objective of doing well by serving the customer and supporting one's fellow workers is first compromised, then crippled, and ultimately swallowed up, by the unstated agenda of flattering the boss and keeping one's tail out of the hungry maw of his wringer?
5. He is driving the customers away in droves, and if he remains it will not just be the customers of the stores in his territory who leave.
It seems to me that the bishops are very reluctant to face these facts and deal with them decisively, and have lacked the kind of galvanizing leadership that enables such widely scattered people of basically kind, non-confrontational temperament to BITE THE BULLET. After all, we are all flawed despite our best intentions, and the Bishop of Alaska is a very able man in some important ways. It is hard to speak even a word of blame - I too would be hesitant in the Synod's shoes.
But now events have presented them with a stark choice: by doing less than remove him they can sign up for a) a mass exodus of the clergy and faithful, and to some degree not possible to predict now, not just confined to Alaska, b) endless turmoil in Alaska as clergy and faithful depart and either leave their buildings behind for Bishop Nikolai to let deteriorate, or fight for them, c) endless rounds of imbroglio with Bishop Nikolai at the center of each Synod meeting in which every session, every issue is dominated by his will, his personality, his agenda, just as surely as Alaska has been.
In fact isn't it clear that if he remains he will essentially "own" the Synod, not just Alaska, perhaps for a very long time to come?
love, and apologies for the boldness,
#21.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-04-05 08:43
Truly one of your more focused and insightful posts to this website Father George. If making observations that reflect the weight of the evidence is bold, then your boldness is appreciated. Let us hope and pray that those in a position to correct this terrible situation will also show some boldness.
#21.1.1 Marc Trolinger on 2008-04-06 14:03
People seem to see this as waffling on the part of the Holy Synod, and the Metropolitan in particular. It doesn't seem that way to me.
Bishop Nikolai objected to the way in which they were pursuing the investigation, and so it seemed reasonable that they would accomodate him to the degree of changing tactics--putting the investigation into the hands of his brother bishops, since that was what he was demanding.
The initial plan--to put off hearing the report until the next regular meeting--had the possible merits of perhaps allowing Pascha to be celebrated without distraction, as well as avoiding the time, expense and inconvenience of an extra meeting.
Since Bishop Nikolai didn't take advantage of the mercy shown him by becoming more agreeable, it is now apparent that things won't settle down to allow for a peaceful Pascha. The bishops aren't compromising or waffling--they simply acted reasonably in response to ongoing developments; they agreed to call the meeting sooner now that it is apparent that it is needed.
Though it may be unpopular to express support for the bishops in this venue, I think they are doing their best to deal with an incredibly ugly situation.
God willing, it would be wonderful if they could have it resolved before Pascha.
#22 barbara on 2008-04-04 14:35
Spoken in anticipation.
#23 Charlie Brown on 2008-04-04 20:00
RE: 1.1 by Daniel Fall: The position of the Bishop is not a 'job'. The Bishop is not employed by the Church. If the Bishop is acting in acord with his chrism and his calling, he is, with his flock gathered at the altar, the Church.
If men are given the laying on of hands without a genuine calling, that is a problem. If we look at our Bishops or they look at themselves as CEO's, that is a problem. If they look at themselves as rulers in a worldly sense, that is a problem. If we accept the view that they are rulers, that is a problem.
Passivity, ambition, greed, cowardice, a worldly mind all are part of this drama and it is not just the Bishops my brothers and sisters who are infected.
One more thing, if you can't sign your name to it, don't post it.
#24 Michael P Bauman on 2008-04-05 07:34
Thank you. A great post.
#24.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-06 18:40
You know, I am no where near as happy/optimistic as the rest of these comments. Job should have opened his mouth at the SOB meeting, now it looks to me like more meely mouth grandstanding. As for Herman, well in the old days he would have shut this down with on flick of his tongue and a sharp word or two. The old boy is through and he knows it.
What I want to see are bishops that act with righteous determination, prayerful acceptance of God's will and nothing but the interest of their folk's in mind. What I'm getting is a school for clowns.
I pray (you all above) are right and I am wrong. But I fear all is lost.
#25 no name on 2008-04-05 07:50
Abp. Job DID "open his mouth". He stated as much in his letter. The problem is that he was overridden by other bishops. But with the continued idiotic moves of Nikolai after the Synod meeting, even the other bishops now are willing to revisit their decision.
Let's pray they do the right thing for the people of Alaska, this time.
#25.1 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-04-06 11:39
Doesn't wash with me Fr. Daniel, doesn't wash, not everyone drinks of the +Job Koolaide.
These bishops are failures, and nothing but resignation will begin to make up for the crap they have put us through, nothing. Never mind the colossal and historic damage they have inflicted on the Orthodox landscape in this country, known and unknown, hidden and seen!
I wish the Archbishop and all of them well, truly. Let them all go off to St Cosmos and Damian and play shuffleboard on the Father Warnecke Memorial Shuffleboard Courts.
What is the thinking here? That these guys can somehow put it all back together? Make it all go away? Make things right?
No how, no way. Ain't gonna happen in this lifetime.
This isn't about Syosset anymore. It is about bishops that can't find their way out of a mitre box.
#25.1.1 no name on 2008-04-07 04:30
Here is an interesting read.
Wright, R.J. ed., On Being a Bishop; Papers on Episcopacy from the Moscow Consultation 1992., CHC, NY, 1993.
#26 no name on 2008-04-05 08:23
What I want to know is: "Where does anyone go now to find goodness, uprightness, Godly people and those doing the right thing?" It use to be the church, but not according to what's gone on here that last 10+ years! WHERE IS MY CHURCH? WHO STOLE IT?
I thought we entrusted priests and bishops to be Christ-like and uphold His teachings in the Church - WHAT HAPPENED? Where is that haven of sanity and sanctity I need for my life?
I guess St. John Chrysostom was right: "The road in hell is paved with the skulls of priests and the door posts are the skulls of bishops."
#27 Anonymous on 2008-04-05 08:43
I'm leaving my name out because I don't need to draw attention to myself. Attention needs to remain on the injustices and pain that have been with us here in Alaska for years now. You say he made a mistake, a big mistake. Well you are in denial big time. Trenty Dushkin for the most part is a decent enough fellow. He is a product of our society that stresses the importance of sex everywhere we turn. I am not condoning his actions but what Nicholai did for him was an act of mercy. One of the good things he has done since he got here. Albeit in a twisted sort of way. Try to understand what I am saying. A slap on the wrist won't help. Making him promise to be good won't help. He has made a thousand big mistakes and if he remains as bishop of Alaska he will make thousands more. We cannot live with things this way. He is smart enough to know exactly where to stop so he doesn't violate a canon. There have been many times that I have felt sorry for him. He really has no where to go. He has no backup plan. But as bad as I feel I keep remembering that he brought it on himself. There are no two ways about it. He is the wrong man for this calling. He is in the wrong place. And it is wrong to think there is another option for relief for this diocese. This is a letter from a lay person with no agenda of my own but only an interest to protect my fellow Orthodox Christians any way I can. Forgive me for my boldness.
#28 Alaskan, looking for humility on 2008-04-05 14:15
Maybe they can make him Bishop of Venice, FL. The old gang can get together and think about the good days past. Kick off their shoes and watch the sun set with a glass of Merlot. It wouldn't be that much of a stretch, after all we've all seen that Dmitri likes to be a sanctuary for those that have besmirched the Church and need a place to lie their heads and call home.
The question at this point has to be what are you going to do with him? This is the thorny part. He can't stay in Alaska and to be honest, no one else wants him either. Even though he's not going to leave bar some legal action to make life very uncomfortable for him up there, they need an official decision on where to put him unless he's suspended wherein his end in any Orthodox Church begins - which would be a blessing to any jurisdiction. I would imagine that at this time there are a lot of behind the scenes calls to see if any other jurisdiction will take him. The response being the old “don’t call us, we’ll call you back”. Its tough to think that any jurisdiction would want to even acknowledge he's a bishop let alone seriously think about taking him. What do they have to look forward to? Getting dragged through the mud in the press when you call him on his actions? Putting your organization at legal risk taking in convicted sex offenders? A man who likens himself to Christ on the Cross? Maybe he's trying to stay in Alaska and take some properties with him to another jurisdiction and use that as a payoff to whoever takes him. We know that they're not sitting on their hands for a week and a half, there's a lot in motion. How much is this going to cost us to get rid of him? Are we going to have to fly him around the east or west coasts again in an attempt to sell the damaged goods to some other jurisdiction? Beware those in Western PA - you know that he's got to be considering that a compromise for him to leave Alaska.
Syosset needs a lawyer in Anchorage to be ready with a filing for a restraining order and to get all assets signed over from him the MOMENT the Synod votes for some disciplinary action. In an act reminiscent of Lydia Black, he should be evicted and the locks changed with little warning. How many hours did he give to the elderly lady to vacate? Considering his age we'll cut that in half! They should be watching carefully over everything at this point in time. Nikolai has probably been doing as much as he can to keep his hands on stuff legally since January knowing that it would eventually come down to this. He probably figures that he can tie stuff up in the courts so long that the expense and effort expended by Syosset would deter them from fighting it. I would imagine raising funds to fight this legal battle would not be hard to raise.
What are we going to do with his housemate? Is leaving Isidore up there going to make him feel relieved or vindictive to everyone for the loss of “papa” and his protector? Can the mitred archimandrite be effective as chancellor of the diocese, rector of St. Herman’s, and dean of St. Innocent’s without the hammer Nikolai behind him? Nikolai leaves him alone in Kodiak for a feast and look what happens?
There’s a lot to be considered once you get beyond the question of if something needs to be done. We’ve answered that, now how do we clean this mess up?
Maybe Benjamin would take him with a smile and then they can discuss congregationalism more often!
Fr. Washburn, you guys looking for a new bishop!? Late model luxury Bishop, like new, good running condition, low mileage, exemplary educational credentials. VLDYKA on license plate. Best offer.
Well, really, ANY offer will be taken…
#29 Anonymous on 2008-04-05 14:17
Daniel Fall and others have pointed out that the OCA just does not have the mechanisms in place to deal with bad behavior. I doubt bad behavior will stop if soiund mechanisms are in place, but I am sure they would greatly assist in solving the problmes. It sounds as if we need a major revision of our OCA bi-laws. With so much many undproductive events happening within the OCA in the last decade or so, how does this get accomplished without the revision of the bi-laws turning into a three-ring circus, too?
#30 Patty Schellbach on 2008-04-05 18:17
Well, I guess that the Gospels and all that Christ preached, the fathers etc., just aren't enough at this point to deal with bad behavior. Listen, if a person does not live up to what is expected of him, he should leave or be removed, period.
What gets me is that we're so absorbed with coming up with legalese for handling this, we're looking at canons (abusing them in fact), etc., but we do not look at why this organization exists in the first place.
Nikolai has done some very, very bad things and he needs to be held account. He accepted his nomination as bishop by mouthing words that he would accept the decisions of the Synod and be of one mind with them. If he cannot handle that he's not in good standing and should leave or else be removed as he will be.th
#30.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-06 08:39
In the comments for 'The Metropolitan Council Issues a Statement', the following post is found:
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 (Reply)
Looks to me like this opinion reflects the actions of the two bishops who must have been sent to Alaska to whitewash +Nicholai and his actions. If this is what is happening, the other jurisdictions and the Protestants will have new members. And Alaska will have few priests and laity.
#31 Former OCA member on 2008-04-05 18:31
That comment was written right after the group of priests went to the two bishops, but before they read the archb. Job's letter and metropolitan's response to it. I know the author, now he does have hope. We all have hope.
#31.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-06 09:22
Thank you for the update because that comment left me feeling pretty, well, hopeless.
#31.1.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-04-07 13:05
Perhaps it is a valid concern concerning the "two bishops", I don't know. But, the good news is that the report of Fr. Garclavs DID get distributed to the bishops. They now know what the people and clergy told Fr. Garclavs, regardless of what the "two bishops" may report.
Let's pray they make their decisions based upon all the evidence that has been presented.
#31.2 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-04-06 11:58
For those that have been "interviewed":
What have these interviews consisted of? We have one person who says there's no hope. Others are skeptical, but we've heard nothing of what was discussed. Are you under confidentiality? What was the tone? Did they try to persuade you that Nikolai was good? Did you hold your ground?
Did Tikhon query you for your thoughts on the Internet as an ecclestical tool?
#32 Anonymous on 2008-04-06 12:12
Bishop Job's straight talk is a first for an OCA bishop! He is the first bishop, to my knowlege, who has actually used the venerable American cultural trait for plain speaking that has deep roots in Holy Scripture, but seems to have been lost within Orthodoxy: "Let your yes be yes, and your no be no." (Matthew 5:37). Perhaps the boat is finally arriving on these beautiful shores.
#33 Anon. on 2008-04-06 14:31
Sending Bishop's Tikhon and Nathaniel to Alaska is analogous to the pot calling the kettle black!
Our "leaders" are not only coming across publicly as "incompetent" but also "scared".
Forcing Bishop N. out of Alaska will unveil new truths about money mismanagement and sexual impropriety that continues to be covered.
Archbishop Job - If you truly have Christ in your heart and you truly read this website, please consider the following - At the upcoming meeting - offer for yourself and your colleagues to work for FREE. Agree to take NO salaries until the financial misappropriations are unveiled and resolved. Then, when the true report linking clergy to sexual misappropriation is revealed, resign with your fellow Bishops and truly save your souls and the Church!
We are in the season of Great and Holy Lent - preparing to celebrate Christ's Holy Resurrection, upon which our Faith is founded. We are called to fast from meat and dairy, and pray and meditate more readily. Still, at Metropolitan Council meetings, fish and dairy are served. True reports are not revealed by our Bishops. And, our Metropolitan receives an annual salary of over six figures, plus more when he makes visitations, even to his only Cathedral! Six Figures! And, millions are missing! We are told to fast and forgive, yet abstinence and adherence to Church Canon is disregarded.
It's no wonder Dante but the Pope and his Bishops of old in the great abyss of the inferno! Our bishops indeed must be scared!
Save yourselves please - along with our church! Vote to withhold your salaries and meet incessantly until the financial crisis and Alaska issues are resolved! How else can you possibly offer Christ's liturgy in peace?
Mark - I welcome your comments, as well as that of our Bishops. How they can continue to take a salary + receive visitation compensation amidst all of this - even in Great Lent - is beyond me as one with corporate experience and higher education! It's so sad!
#34 Anonymous on 2008-04-06 16:28
Hmmmmm. Attacking the Synod, inferring threats against them, attacking Archbp. Job, a self-righteous lecture on fasting, attacking Herman, trying to bait Mark into a rediculous discussion...and all with an amazingly reminiscent sense of sarcasm. Doesn't sound too much like John Q. Churchmember to me. Perhaps someone close to a certain desperate soon-to-be-ex-Bishop of Alaska?
As our friend "all CAPS anonymous guy" would say: IT'S ALL ABOUT MONEY TO YOU EVIL PEOPLE! WHY DON'T YOU GO START YOUR OWN CHURCH! STOP THIS GARBAGE TALKING!
#34.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-06 21:55
I have written in more detail about this on another Nikolai related topic, some time ago. The OCA has plenty of administrative talent that does not seem to be helping frame the issues for the Synod's consideration. It is obvious, with all due respect, the bishops in this synod have no administrative talent. Labor lawyers, corporate executives and managers (for profit and not-for-profit), qualified clergy and anyone else with administrative and management talent, must brief their hierarchs to prepare them for the obvious Nikolai defenses. Perhaps such a briefing should be transmitted to the OCA Chancellor for dissemination. The prosecution must also be summarized for them, in advance. Without proper preparation, there's no telling how this Synod could error, again, in their disposition of this matter. My guess is, as appropriate as much of the commentary on this forum may be, the members of the Synod, do not see it.
St. Tikhon, Apostle & Enlightener to North America - April 7th
Commemorated on April 7
St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Apostle to America was born as Vasily
Ivanovich Belavin on January 19, 1865 into the family of Ioann Belavin, a
rural priest of the Toropetz district of the Pskov diocese. His childhood
and adolescence were spent in the village in direct contact with peasants
and their labor. From his early years he displayed a particular religious
disposition, love for the Church as well as rare meekness and humility.
When Vasily was still a boy, his father had a revelation about each of his
children. One night, when he and his three sons slept in the hayloft, he
suddenly woke up and roused them. He had seen his dead mother in a dream,
who foretold to him his imminent death, and the fate of his three sons. She
said that one would be unfortunate throughout his entire life, another would
die young, while the third, Vasily, would be a great man. The prophecy of
the dead woman proved to be entirely accurate in regard to all three
From 1878 to 1883, Vasily studied at the Pskov Theological Seminary. The
modest seminarian was tender and affectionate by nature. He was fair-haired
and tall of stature. His fellow students liked and respected him for his
piety, brilliant progress in studies, and constant readiness to help
comrades, who often turned to him for explanations of lessons, especially
for help in drawing up and correcting numerous compositions. Vasily was
called "bishop" and "patriarch" by his classmates.
In 1888, at the age of 23, Vasily Belavin graduated from the St Petersburg
Theological Academy as a layman, and returned to the Pskov Seminary as an
instructor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology. The whole seminary and the town
of Pskov became very fond of him. He led an austere and chaste life, and in
1891, when he turned 26, he took monastic vows. Nearly the whole town
gathered for the ceremony. He embarked on this new way of life consciously
and deliberately, desiring to dedicate himself entirely to the service of
the Church. The meek and humble young man was given the name Tikhon in honor
of St Tikhon of Zadonsk.
He was transferred from the Pskov Seminary to the Kholm Theological Seminary
in 1892, and was raised to the rank of archimandrite. Archimandrite Tikhon
was consecrated Bishop of Lublin on October 19, 1897, and returned to Kholm
for a year as Vicar Bishop of the Kholm Diocese. Bishop Tikhon zealously
devoted his energy to the establishment of the new vicariate. His attractive
moral make-up won the general affection, of not only the Russian population,
but also of the Lithuanians and Poles. On September 14, 1898, Bishop Tikhon
was made Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska. As head of the Orthodox Church
in America, Bishop Tikhon was a zealous laborer in the Lord's vineyard.
He did much to promote the spread of Orthodoxy, and to improve his vast
diocese. He reorganized the diocesan structure, and changed its name from
"Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska" to "Diocese of the Aleutians and North
America" in 1900. Both clergy and laity loved their archpastor, and held him
in such esteem that the Americans made Archbishop Tikhon an honorary citizen
of the United States.
On May 22, 1901, he blessed the cornerstone for St Nicholas Cathedral in New
York, and was also involved in establishing other churches. On November 9,
1902, he consecrated the church of St Nicholas in Brooklyn for the Syrian
Orthodox immigrants. Two weeks later, he consecrated St Nicholas Cathedral
In 1905, the American Mission was made an Archdiocese, and St Tikhon was
elevated to the rank of Archbishop. He had two vicar bishops: Bishop
Innocent (Pustynsky) in Alaska, and St Raphael (Hawaweeny) in Brooklyn to
assist him in administering his large, ethnically diverse diocese. In June
of 1905, St Tikhon gave his blessing for the establishment of St Tikhon's
In 1907, he returned to Russia, and was appointed to Yaroslavl, where he
quickly won the affection of his flock. They came to love him as a friendly,
communicative, and wise archpastor. He spoke simply to his subordinates,
never resorting to a peremptory or overbearing tone. When he had to
reprimand someone, he did so in a good-natured, sometimes joking manner,
which encouraged the person to correct his mistakes.
When St Tikhon was transferred to Lithuania on December 22, 1913, the people
of Yaroslavl voted him an honorary citizen of their town. After his transfer
to Vilna, he did much in terms of material support for various charitable
institutions. There too, his generous soul and love of people clearly
manifested themselves. World War I broke out when His Eminence was in Vilna.
He spared no effort to help the poor residents of the Vilna region who were
left without a roof over their heads or means of subsistence as a result of
the war with the Germans, and who flocked to their archpastor in droves.
After the February Revolution and formation of a new Synod, St Tikhon became
one of its members. On June 21, 1917, the Moscow Diocesan Congress of clergy
and laity elected him as their ruling bishop. He was a zealous and educated
archpastor, widely known even outside his country.
On August 15, 1917, a local council was opened in Moscow, and Archbishop
Tikhon was raised to the dignity of Metropolitan, and then elected as
chairman of the council. The council had as its aim to restore the life of
Russian Orthodox Church on strictly canonical principles, and its primary
concern was the restoration of the Patriarchate. All council members would
select three candidates, and then a lot would reveal the will of God. The
council members chose three candidates: Archbishop Anthony of Kharkov, the
wisest, Archbishop Arseny of Novgorod, the strictest, and Metropolitan
Tikhon of Moscow, the kindest of the Russian hierarchs.
On November 5, following the Divine Liturgy and a Molieben in the Cathedral
of Christ the Savior, a monk removed one of the three ballots from the
ballot box, which stood before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.
Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev announced Metropolitan Tikhon as the newly
elected Patriarch. St Tikhon did not change after becoming the primate of
the Russian Orthodox Church. In accepting the will of the council, Patriarch
Tikhon referred to the scroll that the Prophet Ezekiel had to eat, on which
was written, "Lamentations, mourning, and woe." He foresaw that his ministry
would be filled with affliction and tears, but through all his suffering, he
remained the same accessible, unassuming, and kindly person.
All who met St Tikhon were surprised by his accessibility, simplicity and
modesty. His gentle disposition did not prevent him from showing firmness in
Church matters, however, particularly when he had to defend the Church from
her enemies. He bore a very heavy cross. He had to administer and direct the
Church amidst wholesale church disorganization, without auxiliary
administrative bodies, in conditions of internal schisms and upheavals by
various adherents of the Living Church, renovationists, and autocephalists.
The situation was complicated by external circumstances: the change of the
political system, by the accession to power of the godless regime, by
hunger, and civil war. This was a time when Church property was being
confiscated, when clergy were subjected to court trials and persecutions,
and Christ's Church endured repression. News of this came to the Patriarch
from all ends of Russia. His exceptionally high moral and religious
authority helped him to unite the scattered and enfeebled flock. At a
crucial time for the church, his unblemished name was a bright beacon
pointing the way to the truth of Orthodoxy. In his messages, he called on
people to fulfill the commandments of Christ, and to attain spiritual
rebirth through repentance. His irreproachable life was an example to all.
In order to save thousands of lives and to improve the general position of
the church, the Patriarch took measures to prevent clergy from making purely
political statements. On September 25, 1919, when the civil war was at its
height, he issued a message to the clergy urging them to stay away from
The summer of 1921 brought a severe famine to the Volga region. In August,
Patriarch Tikhon issued a message to the Russian people and to the people of
the world, calling them to help famine victims. He gave his blessing for
voluntary donations of church valuables, which were not directly used in
liturgical services. However, on February 23, 1922, the All-Russian Central
Executive Committee published a decree making all valuables subject to
According to the 73rd Apostolic Canon, such actions were regarded as
sacrilege, and the Patriarch could not approve such total confiscation,
especially since many doubted that the valuables would be used to combat
famine. This forcible confiscation aroused popular indignation everywhere.
Nearly two thousand trials were staged all over Russia, and more than ten
thousand believers were shot. The Patriarch's message was viewed as
sabotage, for which he was imprisoned from April 1922 until June 1923.
His Holiness, Patriarch Tikhon did much on behalf of the Russian Orthodox
Church during the crucial time of the so-called Renovationist schism. He
showed himself to be a faithful servant and custodian of the undistorted
precepts of the true Orthodox Church. He was the living embodiment of
Orthodoxy, which was unconsciously recognized even by enemies of the church,
who called its members "Tikhonites."
When Renovationist priests and hierarchs repented and returned to the
church, they were met with tenderness and love by St Tikhon. This, however,
did not represent any deviation from his strictly Orthodox policy. "I ask
you to believe me that I will not come to agreement or make concessions
which could lead to the loss of the purity and strength of Orthodoxy," the
Patriarch said in 1924.
Being a good pastor, who devoted himself entirely to the church's cause, he
called upon the clergy to do the same: "Devote all your energy to preaching
the word of God and the truth of Christ, especially today, when unbelief and
atheism are audaciously attacking the Church of Christ. May the God of peace
and love be with all of you!"
It was extremely painful and hard for the Patriarch's loving, responsive
heart to endure all the Church's misfortunes. Upheavals in and outside the
church, the Renovationist schism, his primatial labors, his concern for the
organization and tranquility of Church life, sleepless nights and heavy
thoughts, his confinement that lasted more than a year, the spiteful and
wicked baiting of his enemies, and the unrelenting criticism sometimes even
from the Orthodox, combined to undermine his strength and health.
In 1924, Patriarch Tikhon began to feel unwell. He checked into a hospital,
but would leave it on Sundays and Feast Days in order to conduct services.
On Sunday, April 5, 1925, he served his last Liturgy, and died two days
later. On March 25/April 7, 1925 the Patriarch received Metropolitan Peter
and had a long talk with him. In the evening, the Patriarch slept a little,
then he woke up and asked what time it was. When he was told it was 11:45
P.M., he made the Sign of the Cross twice and said, "Glory to Thee, O Lord,
glory to Thee." He did not have time to cross himself a third time.
Almost a million people came to say farewell to the Patriarch. The large
cathedral of the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow could not contain the crowd,
which overflowed the monastery property into the square and adjacent
streets. St Tikhon, the eleventh Patriarch of Moscow, was primate of the
Russian Church for seven and a half years.
On September 26/October 9, 1989, the Council of Bishops of the Russian
Orthodox Church glorified Patriarch Tikhon and numbered him among the
saints. For nearly seventy years, St Tikhon's relics were believed lost, but
in February 1992, they were discovered in a concealed place in the Donskoy
It would be difficult to imagine the Russian Orthodox Church without
Patriarch Tikhon during those years. He did so much for the Church and for
the strengthening of the Faith itself during those difficult years of trial.
Perhaps the saint's own words can best sum up his life: "May God teach every
one of us to strive for His truth, and for the good of the Holy Church,
rather than something for our own sake."
#36 Anonymous on 2008-04-07 05:43
I know that people are skeptical of Archbishop Nathaniel's, and Bishop Tikhon's purpose in Alaska, but I think it is more than a little premature to dismiss their mission and condemn their motives. Let us wait and see what their trip accomplishes before we lose all hope. I am as outraged about this ongoing scandal as the next person, but let's still try to conduct ourselves with some dignity and Christian love. Personal attacks and condemnations of Bishops we have never met (I have never hard anyone say a negative word about Bishop Tikhon) are definitely not helpful and only serve to incite the passions even more. Whatever happens here, let us speak the truth, and stand up for righteousness, but always in love.
#37 Jon Whalen on 2008-04-07 06:36
Mark, don't forget about the promised Metropolitan Council report! I know the Synod's decision to meet again was big, but we all want to know what happened at the MC meeting!
(editor's note: Promise!)
#38 Zach Borichevsky on 2008-04-07 10:38
I spent some time reviewing the Alaksa website, and the photo gallery. BN has some beautiful vestments, and in the photo gallery it's difficult to see him wearing the same vestments twice. Must be nice! My question, should BN leave Alaska,what will happen to his vesture? I would hope they remain in the diocese.
#39 Anonymous on 2008-04-07 17:43
Mark - I'm sure that you'll touch on this in another post, but the Council has now endorsed Fr. Tosi as secretary. Four positions of authority. Four priests. Not one layperson to challenge the unethical practices that have been taking place. While all may truly be honorable priests and men, they can disconnect from their individual and collective ranks as servants of the Metropolitan. And, what should we think of the Metropolitan Council for not insisting that someone / anyone other than a priest fills at least one position. Who is speaking for the everyday parishioner ......? And, again, where is the leadership of our hierarchs. THEY should insist as well that there be checks and balances. Withholding funds is all Syosset understands. If ever there was a time - now is it! All priests in positions of the administration? Come on!
#40 Anonymous on 2008-04-07 18:55
In the midst of this terrible OCA and Alaska scandal I wanted more information on Saint Patriarch Tikhon - a man known for his gentle piety. I was doing a web search on Donskoy Monastery and came upon a web site called "Voices of Russia". I have to tell you it's very "pro Russian" but, as I scanned through the pages, I came upon several articles regarding the OCA, Alaska, Nikolai and Isadore. I must tell you I was shocked and surprised to see that articles made it to this site and more importantly the terrible things being reported, much of which apparently comes from Alaskan priests and residents. If any of their comments are true, this scandal is much worse, much deeper and much more terrible than those of us who are not close to it can imagine. Mark has done an outstanding job of keeping us informed of it but I learned so much more from this second source. I am just stunned that here, in the USA, in the 21st century, this thing was allowed to get so big and so out of hand. May the Holy Patriarch Tikhon be with the Orthodox faithful in the USA!
#41 anonymous on 2008-04-08 09:39
Oh, God! You are all-knowing; You are the only One who knows each of us better than we know ourselves. You alone know the suffering of the wrongfully treated; You alone know the culpability and the righteousness of each of us, whether hierarch or catechumen. In Your righteousness and perfection, judge whom You will judge; forgive whom You will forgive; exalt whom You will exalt and bring down whom You will bring down. Let Your Will be done! Let us not be found wanting in virtue, but abounding in Your Grace . . . above all, Lord, guide our prayers.
#42 Cynthia Bodnar, aka "MamaPete" on 2008-04-08 13:23
I'm sorry I have to make a correction. The web site is not "Voices of Russia". It is "Voices From Russia".
#43 anonymous on 2008-04-09 09:07
The Antiochian Church has a very well written life story on ST Tikhon... Antiochian.org It is very long, & one of the most complete life stories I have read on this Holy Saint... I encourage everyone to check it out..
Holy ST Tikhon pray for the leadership of our church!
#44 Anoymous on 2008-04-09 11:10
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