Friday, April 11. 2008
Your comments on Fr. Reeves' reflection, Mr. Barret's reflection, and the situation in our Church are welcome.
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Excellent Fr. John - although there will be no one left.
They are all human and unfortunately frail.
#1 MP on 2008-04-11 14:34
Reeves has aced it!
#2 no name on 2008-04-11 14:57
I don't believe we need to go as far as Fr. John suggests. I do understand the need to start anew. However, many of the bishops if placed in a different church and different time would of been fine mediocre bishops. Archbishop Job's letters suggest that the other members of the synod are doing something. For example, Archbishop Seraphim is mentioned as writing to Nikoli. I do agree that removing the entire synod would expediate change. We should not let pain blind us into doing something we may regret at a later date.
The former synod members and the "old ways" can help us not go too far. For example, someone needs to interview and confess the bishop candidates to make sure they are qualified to lead. Who would do it without some of the synod overseeing the transition ... a committee which meets in meeting? (there are some definite abuses and issues that could arise from that).
I also would encourage David to write with less loaded tone, ("courageous Deacon Eric", "lone brave hierarch in our midst" ) It can discourage people from getting anything from your reflection as they are put into defensive mode. No doubt these individuals deserve are affirmation, but calling them lone heroic figures discredits the figures that have been working behind the scenes not taking public credit.
I'm sorry for taking this position, I feel the need for changes as well. Lets just not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
#3 Reader Michael on 2008-04-11 17:27
Archbishop Seraphim wrote to +Nikoli as secretary of the HS and not on his own personal nature. As for the "other bishops" doing something, if you have evidence of them doing so, so let it be made known. The only evidence shown is their covering their own inactions.
#3.1 Hal Pukita on 2008-04-12 18:25
You may be right, but he does appear to admonish Nikoli.
"Your brothers allowed you to return to Alaska, although we were very reluctant. You returned, and the situation of the whole Church deteriorates. Please think seriously about this."
Maybe not the great action we hope for, but it shows that the Bishops aren't living in a dream world. I am just trying to point out that public relations silence from some bishops does not necessarily mean complete inaction.
#3.1.1 Reader Michael on 2008-04-15 21:44
I don't think the cliche really applies to this situation. There is so very little of merit in the conduct of the bishops to allow any number of them to continue without significan intervention. Beside, if they have their own individual merit, then the door can be left ajar, with adjudication of their own laity, to return.
The phrase you have used is often used by people who waffle on an issue and too often exemplifies co-dependent behavior. We have certainly seen that from the language and behavior of +Nikolai her in Alaska.
#3.2 Joe Beckford on 2008-04-13 22:27
I'm sorry, I do agree with Paul Meyendorfs idea, I was opposing the idea to not allow the Bishops to return, period. I feel the bishops should be allowed to return if given a vote of confidence from their diocese.
If we do throw out are bishops let us also discuss what implications that has? what can we change in the system next time? Where have we gone theologically wrong? I hope at the AAC there is 50 proposed amendments to our rules. Let us dwell on how to stop a bad bishop from coming again.
(it would be a nice discussion on this forum)
I may be waffling the issue, but I love my bishop. How many of us look at these proposed changes and go .. "But not MY Bishop". Some of our bishops would be considered mediocre (at worst) in a more peaceful time. I hope these Bishops lead the way and resign as an example( to the other bishops) but following Meyendorf's suggestion.
#3.2.1 Reader Michael on 2008-04-15 21:59
It could not be stated better than this, Fr. John. I think that you have articulated what the majority of frustrated faithful wish that they could dare to hope for. Your prescription for the healing of the OCA is the only one which can cure the patient--now if only the patient would seek a cure and take the prescribed medication, there could be a healthy OCA. No evidence exists that the patient knows itself to be sick, but by God's grace perhaps that yet may happen.
#4 Anonymous on 2008-04-11 18:27
Mr. Barrett has written an interesting, personal comment on matters that contains at least one idea which I would like to question. He states that by backtracking on Bishop Nikolai's enforced leave the Synod "threw rational thought totally out the window."
I think the evidence can, for now, support a different interpretation and the blanket Barrett indictment is too pessimistic. It may well be that they are just slow and cautious - which is what bishops usually are. And which they should be when dealing with an energetic and able subject like Bp. Nikolai. And which they should be in dealing with a novel and highly charged set of circumstances like this. We will see soon whether or not they take this in the right direction. I have hope that they will, albeit probably not as quickly or decisively as some would want.
#5 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-04-11 18:53
While I understand and agree with you in principle, due to my background having been raised in Alaska, knowing many people there, and somewhat understanding the peoples and cultures there, I need to point out the urgency of the situation. The parishes in the villages are very rapidly being destroyed by Bp. Nikolai, and by the very action of the Holy Synod. Many people are being destroyed, their eternal life is being ravaged. Some are fleeing to Protestant churches, many are simply walking away.
Being cautious is, in this case, causing even more harm and destruction of the Orthodox people of Alaska. The only hope, if anything is to be salvaged, is for the Holy Synod to deal swiftly and decisively.
#5.1 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2008-04-12 08:30
As best I can tell from where I sit in CA sunshine, Fr. Daniel Swires is MOST correct in his assessment of what will continue to happen in the small towns of Alaska if the people do not get a clear signal from the Synod in the very near future.
#5.1.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-04-12 21:17
The only hope is prayer. Not swift prayer. Not prayer demaning what I want. Not prayer demanding what I think others need, but prayer for my soul and prayer for those suffering in Alaska.
Thy will be done. And I am in no position, nor should any of us presume we know best just because we THINK we know what is best for Alaska.
We may not think that our Holy Synod is doing what WE think they should be doing, but such presumption is a sure sign that we have NOT prayed even one tiny bit for God's will to be done.
Our bishops will change when we as a Church produce men who men of prayer and fasting. Men formed not my meeting the minimum requirements for being a bishop, but men who desire with all their heart NOT to be a bishop, but rather men of prayer not men who seek a "career in the Church."
To all those who have opined so sincerely about the plight of the Church in Alaska, here is a challenge. Leave all you have behind. Leave your health plans and your salaries your houses that you have bought or the comfortable rectory you live in. Uproot your family and go to Alaska and serve. Serve under whoever is the bishop there. The real test of your love for the people of Alaska would be to go to Alaska and serve under Bishop Nikolai. Minister to the people who you think are being abused. Be willing to be abused your self for the sake of Christ and the love of your flock.
Fr Reeves, go to Alaska. Mr Barnett, go to Alaska. Dr Meyendorff, go to Alaska. Mr Stokoe, go to Alaska. Dn. Wheeler, go to Alaska. Fr Swires, go to Alaska and every lay person who has called for change, GO TO ALASKA and be the agents of change. Don't pass the buck and leave it up to someone else and don't just say that our bishops need to DO SOMETHING. If you really believe, I am sure you do, that time is running out, that Alaska must be helped, then do the right thing and sacrifice yourself for the Church in Alaska.
Talk is cheap. Posting here is cheap. Sell all and go to our Mother Church here and be in her service no matter who the bishop is. Lock arms with the suffering clergy and people.
And pray without ceasing.
(Editor's note: My, what a difference two weeks make. Weren't you telling us just a two weeks ago to wait, and do nothing " that Is it possible, just possible, that we can wait to see how Nikolai reacts upon his return to his diocese.
Is it possible, just possible, that we can suspend our judgment and see if it is possible for Nikolai and his clergy to be reconciled?"
And weren't you accusing me, Meyendorff, et al of being among those:
"To all those who wish to put a knife in the heart of the OCA, I say to all of you, shame, shame shame."
And now you criticize us all for not packing up to Alaska?
Just two weeks ago you were writing:
"My God, can any of us possibly think that maybe we are wrong in all of this and that our Bishops have a better view of things then we do?"
Your presciption then was to wait, now it is to pray, while criticizing those have taken a public stand, safe from your anonymity. I have no problem taking criticism, but in this case, all those posters who decry anonymity are correct. You are a coward to continue to make such statements. What is needed now are brave men and women who will stand up and be counted for the OCA, not those who hide while criticizing others, now using injunctions to pray as yet the latest facade for really asking us all to wait, wait, wait, for problems to "resolve" themselves. Real prayer is helpful - but such magical thinking isn't.)
#5.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-04-13 06:21
Nothing magical about it. And my comments then and now are not in any conflict, although you would like style them as such....your conclusion is wrong.
When did I ever say there was no suffering going on in Alaska? But your timetable for the solution in NOT the timetable for the Church. That is up to the Holy Synod NOT up to you.
So let us not be magical in our thinking that we can run this church from the relative sidelines of cyberspace. The influence of this website is duly noted but not, in the end, the final or even decisive word. The bishops are the final word whether you like it or not. And if you don't like it, then move on. Please.
(Editor's note: The Synod is not the final word, friend. God is. And to quote my UCC friends wonderful public info campaign, "He still is speaking." Moreover, I expect He will have much to say in the coming months. )
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2008-04-15 09:21
I would like to know Fr Daniel, What part do you play in? I know you have very nice homilies, but are you following what you are saying? If we don't follow what we say of Christ, then we are Hypocrites. I am sorry, but please forgive me, becasause we can't continue on like this. There has to be an end. We are too spoiled not adays like our children. What do we do that is the same as our spoiled children? We follow our parishioners on what they want. Don't you recognize that that they are trying to get what they want. Enough said on my case. May the Lord Bless you.
#5.1.3 Anonymous on 2008-04-13 23:01
I'd like to hear constructive ideas on what comes after all these bishops are ousted from active duty. It is claer to me that none of them are qualified to lead. They barely have a good grasp on putting the right shoe on the right foot. They are all tainted, so tell me wise commentors, what do we do next after we get rid of these guys?
I'm out of fresh ideas.
#6 no name on 2008-04-11 19:09
When will this ever end?
#7 anonymous on 2008-04-11 19:36
It will never end if this continues. Like a cancer it will spread and more people will be tempted and the only time each of us will sin is when we take part in it. And even when we think of it too. Let's move forward and hope and Pray that this ends soon. One person startedt this and look where it is. Like cancer it spread and the Church is struggling. We are the Church. We are struggling. Please continue to pray.
#7.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-15 13:20
Let's look at ourselves first before shaking fists and blame on our Bishops. Who among us did not -- thanks to the internet -- hear of dubious behaviour of the now accused and those close to them as long ago as ten years past. And what did we do? Absolutely NOTHING! I may be many leagues distant from the center of this furor, but I did nothing -- not even utter a prayer in silence. I stand at the front of the line of the guilty for my failure to ask questions and my failure to fall down on my knees and pray.
Far but still responsible.
#8 anonymous on 2008-04-11 22:29
Here is my feedback on the two letters.
First of all, the Barrett letter was a very accurate reflection of what has happened from my perspective. I think comparing the Alaskan faithful to Egyptian slaves was over the top and something was lost. Perhaps I misread it.. Overall a great letter, so hopefully we can gloss over minutia for the overall content.
The main point he drives home is that many of us are affluent and educated beyond the hierarchy and that is new for them. In recognizing this, I think Fr. Reeves has missed this fact. That is our hierarchs may not be so well educated.
In fact, I think Meyendorf misses this as well.
And after contemplating things further, I don't agree with the notion that our hierarchs need a full changing. Here's why.
I believe we are destined for other hierarchs that aren't great men. I know of a passed on hierarch that was actually quite harsh, but he never would have been deposed and he certainly wouldn't have retired. It is how we approach the subject that really matters.
I do think that Metropolitan Herman owes us a resignation for his mistakes in handling and listening to Deacon Wheeler back in the late 90s. If he had been able to convert his behavior and not have a failed first SIC, I might have been able to overlook his mishandling of that matter, but now not so. I think he is trying to make some things right before he goes, though, and so I wait on his honor.
And comments to the folks on other ideas:
The way this ends is by changing the way the church governs itself, especially the role of the Metropolitan Council, but also the role of the laity. I have a few ideas, but they are certainly not submitted as a final concept, so I'd rather not have people shoot holes in what I purport below unless I've misinterpreted severely the current rules of the church (of which I'm far from an expert).
Graft occurs when people are asleep. I've seen it in the corporate world. It is amazingly easy to pull off and nearly bullet proof even in audits when it is done on a small enough scale. Point is, the RSK graft happened cuz the Synod and MC and the rest of us were snoozin'; at best, MH snoozed the worst.
Mark Stokoe woke us all up, but he won't be around in a hundred years (sorry Mark) to wake up the next bunch.
What must happen is the role of the MC must be made clear and their power must be established as real or influential. There must be a way that people can bring concerns about the behavior of hierarchs and clergy to the MC. The Metropolitan Council must be recallable by the laity, not just a Bishop, which means no MC members not be accountable to a respective diocese would be allowed.
A first test of this system would be for the laity to demand compilation reports and distribution lists from 2001 through 2007 from their respective MC members. If the members do not produce those documents, they should be recalled. Now a recall does no good if the Bishop can just reinstate someone else. What would happen if the laity recalled the MC members at a Diocesan Assembly is automatic withholding and no reappointment would begin until the matter was resolved and this fair action would not keep them from being seated at Council.
By getting the 2001-2007 compilation reports and understanding to whom this information was dispensed, the laity can determine who had a fiduciary responsibility and didn't pay any attention to it, or didn't understand it.
Those folks would be held accountable for the RSK graft snoozin. In a corporate governance system, the shareholders can oust a bad board by putting forward another group as an option, but in our system, I don't believe we can oust a bad Bishop. Why not is completely absurd to me. A Diocesan Assembly should be able to remove a Bishop and that Bishop could only be reinstated to another Diocese by the Synod, for an example.
To wrap it up here, our churches governance system is broken. Its laws and rules are out of date and have been proven ineffective and flat out wrong.
The only way to fix them is to first accept they are badly broken, then put measures in place that correct them, and then, the truest test of those measures would be to bring the scandal up against the test and determine what would have or what should happen.
Here's what I think would happen. I think the Metropolitan Council members seated before 2005 would all be recalled. I think the Diocesan Assemblies would remove some of their Bishops and I think you'd have a governance system that was equipped to handle bad Bishops and would be much more bullet proof against bad archpriests and hierarchs in the future.
And you'd have a church that was able to manage itself without OCANEWS.ORG (no lack of gratitude to Stokoe).
If Metropolitan Herman really wanted to get back some honor, he would want a change to how we govern the church.
#9 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-04-12 06:49
Father John Reeves is, without doubt, one of the shining lights of the OCA. It is a measure of our (the OCA's) fallen state and pessimism that many will find, what he (and I) term minimum standards, as impossible and unrealistic to achieve with respect to finding bishops for the Church. If this is the case, and nothing can be done to remedy it, then perhaps we should just fold our tents and move on to something else and stop our pretense at being part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
In addition to all that Fr. Reeves has said, and with which I completely concur, let me suggest another critical qualification for the episcopate--a conciliar mindset. Enough of prideful and self-destructive autocracy! The record is replete with the damage this has done, not only to our small branch of the Church, but Orthodoxy in general throughout the ages and continuing into the present day. While the theoretical "buck" may stop with the hierarchy, a conciliar approach with the entire Church is essential, Apostolic, and Christ-like.
Finally, I must say, my only quibble with Fr. Reeves is his conclusion that change may only come over a very extended period of time. I don't believe we have that luxury.
#10 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-04-12 06:53
Thank you Father John for your very thoughtful and wise reflection. For those of us who take the eschatological teachings of our Orthodox Christian Faith seriously, Father John’s use of the eschatological warnings of St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy to begin his reflection should help us to see our current tribulations in a much larger perspective.
When we opine about how to correct the serious problems currently facing us in the Church, we must first consider that perhaps our Lord will resolve all of these problems by initiating the Day of the Lord. Our first priority should be to draw close to our Lord using all the means provided to us by our Mother, the Church. This is particularly true during this Lenten period when we prepare for Holy Week, and all the eschatological realities associated with it.
For now perhaps we would all be wise to focus on the first priority, and refocus ourselves on our worldly problems after Holy Week. It will be far better to be counted among the wise virgins at the wedding banquet in the New Jerusalem, than to remain here among the foolish virgins who will have to sort out far more serious problems than we now have.
#11 Marc Trolinger on 2008-04-12 08:11
Peace be with you!
I am an Old Catholic Priest in Lakeland, FL. I attended the St. Andrew House Orthodox Colloquium for Anglicans and Episcopalians in Detroit, MI.
Recently I attended a scholarship gala at Southeastern University where the former Governor Jeb Bush was the keynote speaker. In part of his talk, he shared how the multitude of hurricanes hitting Florida affected him personally and professionally.
But he also told of some amazing accomplishments across the state of people with determination and purpose, working together interdependently with one another to restore bridges and provide Food Stamps to uprooted people. He said it was amazing what people could do to rise and overcome the challenges when determined and working together. Then he said that he believed it could be done ALL of the time!
"Our own determination and intention
together with the help of God
come into play in every spiritual act of ours, visible or not,
and the latter is unlikely to operate without the former."
St. John Climacus
The "Church" continually prays for a healing of the divisions, but it is not in good faith, for the actions speak louder than their words.
I love the Church. But I'm not leaving 'one jurisdictional mess' to enter another one - especially one that lacks the humility and boldness to obey Christ, the Apostles and the Fathers.
If you are really, really, really, want to see results - then make it happen! People are wanting the authentic expression of the faith of Christ!
Peace to you!
Given that none of the apostles themselves were blameless, all sinful, all in need of a Savior, all of them working out their salvation until they day they died, what the heck is Fr Reeves talking about.
Pray tell who in our midst, who in the midst of the Church at anytime was blameless except for the Lord Himself and His Blessed Mother. If we waited for the perfection that Reeves expects, there would be no bishops or priests. No monastics, no one in any clerical ranks.
The new start, as everyone opined about starts with each one of us. Not THEM. Not the OTHER, but with ME and YOU.
Fr Reeves did not mind when the OCA funded his Office of Church Growth. He did not mind when the Church gave him a chance to serve but when his work was found lacking, ended his service.
A bit of sour grapes on your part Fr John?
Just another whining ex-Syosset worker settling his score.
How about you resigning?
#13 Sick of All This Pandering on 2008-04-12 08:33
My word, Sick of, nobody expects perfection. Good straw man, though. My compliments. No, perfection is not on the agenda. How about honesty? How about kindness? Any chance of compassion? Maybe some humility? Sorry that you see pandering. I must ask what the weather is like on your planet, because here on Earth the last thing of which one could accuse the hierarchs of the OCA would be pandering...except perhaps to His lamentable Grace, Nikolai...
#13.1 Scott Walker on 2008-04-13 16:00
"Sick" would have sufficed!
How dare you mutter your venomous calumnies against Fr. Reeves behind a veil of anonymity. Who are you, what have you done for the OCA compared to the many services Fr. Reeves has performed, and continues to perform, for the Church?
"Just another whining ex-Syosset worker settling his score," says it all. Any criticism of the dismal record, of the poisined fruit, being produced all these many years by the Syosset leadership constitutes "pandering."
That is an interesting and ironic use of the word!
#13.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-04-14 07:13
I'm feeling that all of this has gone on for years and no hard evidence has ever been presented. There needs to be some radical movement to have some real hard facts up front which can substantiate all of this which has brought the OCA to almost imploding. So I ask all who are really concerned to step forward and give us the information in black and white - because so many people have lied through all of this - OR follow Dr. Meyendorff's advice.
#13.3 MP on 2008-04-16 12:47
Fr. Reeves did not want to take on the argument that we SHOULD re-instate the married episcopate. It is quite apparent that this SOB's does not work. It has been rumored that much of the money siphoned off went for blackmail of inappropriate sexual activities of certain bishops. We have many married priests who are very talented and who can offer the church great leadership. Why not re-instate married, sexually-healthy bishops? So many in the Orthodox world will gasp for two seconds at such action; then they will do the same. What sense is it to look for ANY celibate with a tainted background and put them in a position to lead? Would corporations look for bottom-feeders to lead their organizations? Being married is NOT an impediment to episcopal election. Celibates (monks) were chosen for expediency and the reasons to follow suit in America just aren't expedient!
#14 Anonymous on 2008-04-12 09:45
Fr John Reeves asks that the dioceses take more care and responsibility in electing their bishops. Here in Canada at our last but one Diocesan Assembly we chose one name out of 4 who had been chosen with much prayer and consultation. The Lord confirmed this when Bishop Seraphim served a Moleben and then pulled that name from the Chalice. However the Synod of Bishops chose to reject the candidate and our bishop was left still with no auxiliary bishop despite the fact that as Acting Chair of the External Affairs department he was constantly being sent to meetings and celebrations in other countries, let alone the travel involved in pastoring the diocese which reaches from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic.
A few years earlier the All American Council elected Bishop Seraphim to be Metropolitan but the Synod of Bishops rejected that choice too and chose Bishop Herman instead (for which we in Canada are heartily grateful).
I do recognize that the bishops have the last word but sometimes they need to listen to the words that are coming from the faithful of their flocks.
And I agree we all need to look at ourselves and confess our share in what has happened, even if so apparently small a thing as not praying for our pastors.
#15 Jane Szepesi on 2008-04-12 10:10
All this discussion points to the fact that the solution to OCA's survival will take us down a long road over a long period of time. Many of us who were raised in the church, married, and brought our children up in the church are runing out of time. Our faith and church held us together and comforted us through difficult times. Our church was there for us in joyous times. It was our life. Now that we are growing old and in need of comfort, we cannot look to the church. It's gone. Who can we trust, who can we believe? We have been shattered by the weaknesses of our heirarchy and their inability or lack of desire to set the record straight and move on.
Sadly, time is running out for many Orthodox christians who were staunch supporters of the OCA.
#16 Anon on 2008-04-12 10:18
There was a story on my local news last night about a woman who's mother was stabbed, raped and stomped to death 20 years ago in a local park. She has written a letter to the four men who so savagely killed her mother and requested an opportunity to meet with them in person so that she can personally forgive them and to ask their forgiveness for hating them all of these years. Her faith in Jesus Christ has moved her. Her family thinks she is crazy but she knows it is the right thing to do for everyone's sake.
#17 Michael P Bauman on 2008-04-12 12:47
fr. john reeves message is well meaning as are most posted here.but if we strictly and literally adhered to these demands we would have no bishops.no priests,very few people in church.yes,CHRIST told us BE YE PERFECT AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT.HE told us this that we never cease struggling to attain that perfection.in the memorial prayer we pray THOU ONLY ART WITHOUT SIN,we are sinners,we fall and then we must get up again.the scriptural criteria for a bishop are the ideal that every bishop should strife for and every priest and christian as well but we sin.the spiritual problem arises when we don't repent.i have met and lived under many bishops in several jurisdictions.some bishops are truly great writers and theologians,but then they are usually bad administrators.others are excellent administrators,they inspire people to donate and then build churches and schools etc. but they might not be theologians.people have different talents.rarely does one person have all talents.even great saints have flaws and faults.ST.NIKOLAJ VELIMIROVIC the great serbian bishop,writer and theologian,now canonized saint might not have passed fr.john's inspection or approval,because he smoked and drank.ST.JOHN MAXIMOVITCH a great ascetic and true WONDERWORKER who healed many suffering from incurable illness, was a poor administrator.he even was accused of financial wrongdoing and taken to court by evil "brother"bishop.he was innocent like a lamb.in fact many ascetical theologian bishops are poor administrators because they lack the wisdom of this world.some bishops seem to be harsh and mean yet they truly love their flock and priests , i think of archbishop KIPRIAN.he did not have people skills but he was good and meant well.many converts, especially former wasps,never fully rid themselves of their puritan protestant attitude.i want to make clear that i am not defending the poor job performance of most of our bishops.instead of the eagle rug(orlec)they should be standing on a rug with a turkey or a lame duck,but i would not want any of them to retire with the exception of +NIKOLAJ,by most accounts simply too mean to be a ruling diocesan bishop.BLESSED JOURNEY TO PASCHA!
#18 Anonymous on 2008-04-12 14:34
You are missing something - the bishops you mentioned had one essential quality that is missing among the current SOB - INTEGRITY. Fr. John was merely quoting St. Paul's job description for a bishop. Why should we dumb down the Church because you think the qualifications are too difficult to acheive? The Church should accept nothing less thant he best.
#18.1 Rich on 2008-04-12 19:50
Wasn't it in Coolhand Luke, the famous line of the prison warden to actor Paul Newman: "What we have here is a failure to communicate."
When Fr. Paul and I went through the ordeals we went through, I believe we went through great systemic failure, and not that of just the bishops.
This was the spirit of my letter to the MC that August or so of 2004, to start looking at systemic problems.
I believe Daniel Fall and others have looked at the lack of mechanisms in place to have a well-functioning church that does not fall apart so at the crises it faces.
This lack of safety mechanisms may be our biggest crises in our OCA right now. I don't think the bishops will become perfect, but, as Fr. John points out, I think we can all demand a greater amount of accountability.
The OCA by-laws, and all that goes with this, the functioning of the HS and MC, all need to be brought out to create those checks and balances that the faithful deserve.
If a bishop is asked to take a leave of absence, then that should be done immediately without argument.
Perhaps what we must get out of denial about is that we need solid, sound by-laws that will protect the faithful from the wolves in their midst. The Catholic Church was not spared their ordeal because the bishops did not do the right thing; it took juridical litigation.
Do we have all the necessary protections in place to ward off all that the OCA has been through these past few decades?
If the answer is no, do we not now have a way to help fix this with the AAC pre-conciliar commission, town halls, and other venues of meeting and decision-making?
#19 Patty Schellbach on 2008-04-12 20:47
interesting developments at OCA since the Andreas money-spigot got turned off and the ADM money-well went dry.......trips to Chicago and Moscow that availed peanuts.....and a million and a half dollar debt to be repaid..... with what? remember that first question a visitor to Alaska asked? like, "how much land have you got?"......just trying to bring you back into focus, if you know what I mean......
#20 Guileless on 2008-04-13 14:31
I think Fr. Reeves' and Dr. Meyendorf's proposals give away with one hand what they take with the other. That is, they want to give the people more of a voice in who runs the Church and how its run, but are they willing to let the people decide how they want to handle the situation? What if, Dr. Meyendorf' and Fr. Reeves, the overwhelming majority of the faithful don't agree with your solution? Would you, if you had the power so to do, circumvent the will of the people and unilaterally remove these bishops, thus imposing your own idea of what's best for the Church? If it is the overwhelming will of the people that their bishops be removed, so be it. This forum, while I am not the biggest fan, has given the people a forum where they can air their grievences. The faithful can do as our Alaskan brethren have done and come together and with one voice send a loud message to their bishop.
But, I doubt the faithful here in the lower 48have been so abused by their bishops that they will feel the need to do that. I will venture to say that many, if not most, people love their bishop and pray for him. They may be grieved, perplexed and even angry at what is going on. But, again, my opinion, I doubt that there is a majority in any diocese that want their bishop to step down.
Those who would like their bishop to step down, it seems to me, are in the minority. Should those few decide the fate of their diocese or their bishop? Should they insist on imposing their will on the diocese?
Fr. Reeves and Dr. Meyendorf, and all those who what all the bishops to resign: Let the people decide that. We know you mean well and you are wanting the church to move forward, but please, don't try to impose your will on the church. If the faithful in a diocese feel they have been neglected,abused, abandoned by their bishop, let them rise up against that bishop. If, however, the faithful love their bishop, and he loves his flock and cares for and provides for it, then let us keep our bishop.
#21 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-04-13 19:45
My gosh, what sanity we have in this suggestion. In the West, we have absorbed alot of late. The liturgy of the OCA has been replaced by the one done by that admirable Shakespearian enthusiast, Archbishop Dimitri of Dallas. Utterly useless, but the favorite of the bishop, so it has been imposed. One thing no bishop seems to ever have heard of is the adage "If it ain't broke don't fix it". New liturgy by fiat, maybe new bishop? Great idea. It might make them do something they have never, and I mean never, thought of: What effect will this action/inaction have on the people? This doesn't seem to be taught in seminary. Especially St. Tikhon's, where all good door-shut-and-silent liturgies originate. Who runs St. Tikhon's? Oh, maybe that has something to do with it....
#22 anon -- diocese of the west on 2008-04-13 21:22
Utterly useless....try explaining that to the faithful that are nourished day in and day out on this "utterly useless" liturgy. Try explaining that to the many dozens of people who are recieved into the Church every year in Vladyko's diocese. That it has been imposed upon you is lamentable, but that is hardly Vladkyo Dimitri's fault.
If your words were meant to some how edify the body of Christ, then I must inform you, you have not accomplished your purpose. Instead you have taken something that is sacred, beautiful and so central to our lives and told us it is basically rubbish. Is that really the message that you wanted to communicate? Is that the kind of charity you wish to dispense this Lent? Is that the way you wish to "embrace" us in the bonds of Christian love?
Thanks alot. I'm glad to hear there is still love amongst Christians.
#22.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-04-14 09:29
Wow, I think you managed to completely miss the point this person was trying to make.
Really quite impressively, in fact.
#22.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-14 17:17
I will gladly recant my words and admit my misunderstanding if the original poster will clarify his meaning, particularly of these words:
"Utterly useless, but the favorite of the bishop, so it has been imposed."
If I have misunderstood you, original poster, please forgive me, if however, you did mean to disparage the "liturgy", by which I take you to mean the "King James English" the Archbishop of the South prefers, forgive me nonetheless. I just felt deeply hurt that one Christian, especially an Orthodox Christian would call the particular form of worship of a particular region "utterly useless".
Again, if I have misunderstood you, I am in the wrong and must beg your forgiveness.
#188.8.131.52 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-04-15 06:15
Fr, John's proposal is right on the mark. Needless to say there will be Bishop much beloved who will be missed and who will bear an unjust burden of guilt by association; that is unfortunate. That said I have to say that as a non-entity in the OCA I was privy to alligations, rumors , gossip and observations and of wrong doing and total unaccountability and even boastful admissions so shocking that it is hard to believe any Bishop was totally unaware. Indeed if there are such Bishops perhaps they just need to go due to incompetance.
#23 anonymous on 2008-04-14 05:25
I hope I'm not changing the subject, but since we are talking about various letters, did anyone else happen to read Tikhon's letter to Nikolai now posted on the Alaskan site? Is this guy stable? It's a whole lot of words about nothing. It doesn't say anything. Well it does do one thing. We've already seen Nikolai attempt to discredit Job. And of course he did make that obscure referrence in his reply to Herman. Now, with the help of Tikhon, he is trying to discredit Nikon. This thing just keeps getting better and better. Payton Place OCA style! The Battle of the Bishops! The Match of the Miters! The Hassle of the Hierarchs! The Icons - well, the icons being anything but Christ-like...so sad! I wonder if they trade barbs while standing on eagle rugs? I mean doesn't that just make it all more official? Doesn't that just make it all better? Doesn't that just make it all right? Doesn't that just make it all canonical? Doesn't that just make it all traditional? Doesn't that just make it all Orthodox? I just can't wait till the gloves come off and Nikolai and Tikhon go for the throats and start "revealing" all the little dirty secrets they're supposed to have on the rest! Do I sound too bitter? I'm not. I'm more nauseated than anything else. I'm just so sick of this whole thing! What's a simple faithful who just wants to be able to go to church, attend service, receive communion, offer prayers to God to do when this saga goes on and on and on everyday!...with no end in sight!
#24 anonymous on 2008-04-14 05:33
+ Tikhon (retired) is definitely unstable. His problems go way back. In fact, his screaming rampage at SVS for the several months he was there, caused Fr. Schmemann to take a very dim view of him. Yet, + Dimitri pushed him into the slot of Bishop of the West. Is it any surprise that + Nicolai is his protege? Both are unstable characters and the OCA could have done without either. Both have alluded to have "secret information" against their fellow bishops.
#24.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-14 08:15
Well it appears that + Nicolai will not be allowed to attend the meeting this week acording to Bishop T.'s latest letter posted on the Alaskan website.. His letter was a JOKE! Reminds me of the same crap he loved to post on the Indiana Boards when he was a (ruling) bishop...
For one that rarely visited his parishes he always had time to post his crap on the boards... I as well thought it was insane how he now is on the attack mode against Bishop Nikon..
Now that +Nikolai won't be at the meeting the Bishops no doubt will do what needs to be done "the removal of NICOLAI FROM ALASKAN SOIL! .....
Alaska will then have one of many BRIGHT WEEKS to look forward to...
#25 Anoymous on 2008-04-14 11:50
I am grateful for Fr John Reeves’ strong and unequivocal words, but I would wish to qualify at least one of his main points. While I agree on zero tolerance for sexual, financial, and alcohol or drug-related scandal, I don’t believe that addictions or compulsions as such should automatically disqualify candidates for church leadership roles.
People who honestly confront their addictions, compulsions, and sexuality, people who work on it every day (“one day at a time”) through confession and spiritual direction, through working a 12-step program, through every means available – are some of the strongest people we can have in the Church. They are strong because they are not in denial about their weakness but carry it, confront it, struggle with it, and by God’s grace, stay sober. That’s the best case scenario, of course, but it very definitely exists in reality, and ought to be encouraged.
Think of St Paul’s “thorn in the flesh,” whatever it may have been, and how his strength was made perfect through weakness. Think too of the argument from Hebrews 2:18, “For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.” That refers, of course, to Christ himself who never fell into sin. But in a sense, can’t it also apply to the pastor or archpastor who struggles with serious compulsions? I would far prefer such a leader than one who is either in denial about his addictions to alcohol, sex, power, or unchecked anger; or justifies them to himself. The result of denial or justification is a person who leads a double life: holy in the Church’s public life, and acting out in real or supposed privacy. We know what that looks like.
As to sexual orientation I think the key is not so much whether a celibate is same-sex or opposite-sex oriented, but what a person does. And here too, the battle for sexual purity can be fierce for anyone of any stripe, and the question is whether one actually confronts it head on and maintains sexual sobriety, or leads a fractured and scandalous double life.
I fear that raising the bar to the point where no-one who has a compulsion or addiction or the wrong orientation can be considered for positions of leadership would only increase the number of the double-life type. Especially if we consider that religious circles tend to attract a high number of people who suffer from addictive tendencies, children of alcoholics, etc.
The end result needs to be the same as suggested by Fr John: be above reproach. But in this world, the way of purity can be fiery indeed.
#26 Peter Bouteneff on 2008-04-14 12:06
"Many are called, but few are chosen."
Yes, many people have addictions, whatever they may be. That doesn't mean they have to be clerics. Not all men can or should be clerics, but those who are called to a higher calling. Asking any person to lead who has serious "issues" is only asking for trouble! Let them be door keepers.
#26.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-14 16:33
I believe the point being made was for people with former addictions that have been worked through. Some of the greatest men, and most helpful in my walk with Christ where former drug users who in high school, had an encounter with Christ that changed them forever.
I would also add that the addictions have to be ones that will not allow the abuse of authority if the come back (ie former sexual predators should never be put in the position of authority as a priest, putting them into temptation like that). I would also add that they should only be ordained after deep counseling with their bishop and be well monitored for a portion of there ministry(second priest etc). Many of our saints had great struggles, (whether they became priests I would have to research).
Hopefully people trying to hide there addiction would come out when the bishop discerns in confession. If they are to be true priests they will tell, otherwise they would of hidden it even if the standard was of zero tolerance.
Let us leave room to let the spirit lead at points. (rules are meant to have exceptions, not be broken).
#26.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-04-15 21:38
Mr. Bouteneff, I agree with you. I know of a priest who confronted his alcoholism and admitted it to the parish he served at end of a Liturgy one Sunday. He also asked for the help of the parish. At the time, the parish was divided internally fully of arguments and rancor. I fully believe that the response of the parish to the priests request for help led to the healing of the entire parish which is now quite strong. Christ's strength is revealed in our weaknesses. It is the denial of weakness, the assumption of unwarranted authority, the hiding of sin that leads to problems. The key is whether or not the person with the weakness is acutally working to confront the sin or not.
#27 Michael P Bauman on 2008-04-14 15:35
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