Friday, June 6. 2008
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Bravo Father Michael, Bravo.
Thank you for sharing such a wonderful reflection.
#1 Michael Geeza on 2008-06-06 07:58
Yes, good, but.......
....... it seems +Herman and +Co will be with us even to the end of time.
How do we make the infection spread from Alaska eastward?
#2 no name on 2008-06-06 08:56
"The problem was not about procedures, but people, people loving people. And when the Law of Love is violated, no “canonical procedures” can justify the continued violation of that Law. The “Alaskan Crisis” was about love. The canonical principle that arose from it had been obvious but never before articulated in the life of the Church: A bishop should love his people and the people should love their bishop."
This is so incredibly true. Unfortunately it has not and is not applied across the board. The Met Council meeting has already been watered down to a meaningless event. Other crises within the OCA continue. There is also still the matter of rebuilding in Alaska so that crisis is not totally over. I am fast losing faith and confidence in the OCA's ability to continue to exist with any real meaning.
#3 anon on 2008-06-06 09:13
There was much in Fr. Oleksa's reflection to inspire, much that should be said more often about our calling in America. But his remarks on the canons are wrong in important ways. Father mentions “'canonical precedents' set in fifth century Byzantium or seventeenth century Russia,” and contrasts these with “the needs of our own Church, here and now.” Absolutely — when existing canons do not address the present needs of the Church, our hierarchs must break new ground. The problem in this case was that the canons were perfectly adequate to the issue at hand: the removal of an abusive and corrupt bishop.
Indeed, Alaska could have been rid of Nikolai in a flash: not one week would have been needed to depose him according to our canonical tradition. Instead, the Holy Synod acted like a group of incompetents — to the point where one began to wonder if they were doing so deliberately — and the saga dragged on for months.
In the end, +Nikolai wasn't even deposed! He's been retired (presumably with the normal promise of a pension), retaining the dignity and moral authority of the archpriesthood that he abused and disgraced. That's a travesty — but not because he wasn't punished enough to satisfy my or anyone's bloodlust. It's a travesty because it scandalizes the faithful, denies justice to the abused, is a disastrous example for other bishops, and leaves the wounds of the man's soul absurdly untreated. How does any of that demonstrate love?
Fr. Michael's observation that “a bishop should love his people and the people should love their bishop” isn't a new canonical principle that the Holy Synod has finally “articulated” for the world through its actions. First of all, love is the basis for everything that we do and are in the Church. Its application to the episcopacy is already well-articulated in scripture and the writings of the Church fathers. Second, what the Holy Synod did was to usher +Nikolai out through the back door instead of confronting what he did. Why? Because in their love, wisdom, and Christian freedom, boldly exercising the rights of autocephaly, they saw that the canons with which we used to address episcopal misbehavior didn’t meet 21st century needs?
Or is it because some in the Synod didn't want anyone confronting them like that?
#3.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-06-07 14:37
A Fellow Orthodox Christian,
Thank you for pointing out the fundamental problem with how the Holy Synod chose to deal with Bishop Nikolai: their incompetence or their desire to avoid facing similar scrutiny. In either case, the OCA needs to each and every one of the hierarchs as soon as possible ... preferably yesterday. Each and every one needs to be removed from his current position, but also needs to be permanently removed from the ranks of the episcopate, to prevent him from further injuring the Body of Christ.
#3.1.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-06-08 16:48
Henry V could only speak of 'we happy few', but as we face the next challenge in the OCA Fr. Michael speaks of a happy many, a happy whole body together. How can we not rise up inspired by this reflection, knowing in our bones how true it is? The road ahead may not be easy, but truly everyone who helped resolve the Alaskan crisis has blazed the trail. Glory to God!
#4 Valentine on 2008-06-06 10:41
Yes, this must spread eastward right to South Cannon and Syosset and Ansonia for instance. I hope Bishop Nikon reads Fr. Oleksa's reflection and takes it to heart. If the first priests to cry out in Alaska were not supported by fellow clergy and laity across the country, I do not think we would see the same positive results. I would like to see a similar outcry of support to any parish that suffers disciplinary action from their bishop for escrowing assessments such as Three Saints in Ansonia is now experiencing. We should not allow any parish to be punished like Nikon is punishing Three Saints by banning their clergy from Diocesan meetings, the AAC, requiring all their Council meetings to be supervised, withholding his blessing on the newly elected council, preventing mention of Three Saints in the diocesan newsletter, etc.
If you agree show your support and let Bishop Nikon and the Synod know. And encourage your parish to take action so that Herman and the Synod will hear the cries for truth and justice coming from sea to shining sea! "Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity".
#5 anon on 2008-06-06 12:34
Its good to hear this aired here, please, as nikon extacts his retribution on Ansonia, make sure the word gets out.
Remember, Nikon, is the bishop on the PCC who went along with the townhalls while at the same time oppressing Ansonia? Hypocrisy someone says?
If he tries to opppress Ansonia, what does he REALLY want to do with these townhalls? Just have them as outlets so that when the time of the AAC comes around, people will have already aired everything and the powers that be will know how to respond because they will have gotten the outrage upfront and the people that have aired out will consider it useless and the AAC will go off without a hitch and give the image that all is well and good in the jolly ole OCA...
You know them by their deeds and we're getting to know nikon very well now... He's just one of the bunch, remember, another auxiliary that was placed there by the administration, trained up before he was even voted as an auxiliary and then made the ruling bishop. Again, if the people of New England had the opportunity to chose their own bishop, would they have voted in Nicholas Liolin?
#5.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-07 07:25
Anonymous in Ansonia,
Did Fr. Nicholas Liolin actively campaign to become a bishop or was he drafted for the because he was a widower? His Grace Boris, Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest, of blessed memory, was drafted to become the Bishop of the Midwest.
From a distance -- I am under His Beatitude Herman -- I am disappointed in his performance as a member of the Holy Synod; until he took "disciplinary measures" against the Three Saints parish, I had no reason to criticise his performance as the Bishop of New England. While I understand that the diocese has responsibility to pay the Central Church assessment, I would expect a hierarch to (a) understand that there may be both clergy and laity in his diocese that do not agree with the actions and inactions of the Holy Synod regarding the various scandals, and (b) honor their actions supporting or opposing the actions or inaction of the Holy Synod.
How should the clergy, laity, and parishes outside of the Diocese of New England show their support for the Three Saints parish and its members?
#5.1.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-06-08 17:29
Dear "Anon" and "Anonymous"
I have only ever replied once to a comment on this website before, but this comment and the reply that followed it, provoked me to add my voice once again. I feel that these posts were over dramatic. Your parish (Three Saints in Ansonia) chose of its own will to defy the diocese. The Diocese of New England, assembled in council by the Holy Spirit, decided collectively not to withhold assessments to the National Church. Our conciliar governance system only works when we obey the will of the assembled body. Also, the Statue of the OCA makes its clear that a parish must be up to date in ALL assessments if it expects to participate in a diocesan assembly (Article VII section 6) or an All-American Council (Article III section 4). Your parish chose to withhold assessments, now you are confronted with the consequences of your actions. In my opinion, His Grace is not being oppresive, or vindictive, or seeking retribution, but rather taking an appropriate response the to the course of action that Three Saints has taken. This is not about obedience to your bishop, or even to his office, but to the will of the gathered body of the diocese. As an aside, I find it appalling that these comments were made anonymously. Many people in the Diocese of Alaska spoke out using their own names and voices in the face of actual suffering, oppression, and vindictiveness. In New England apparently we can't have that kind of courage when we are just whining about not being included in the Diocesan newsletter.
I encourage you two to contact His Grace directly if you are feeling slighted or oppressed. His email address and phone number are listed on the Diocesan website. He is an incredibly approachable and down-to-earth man, who has always made time to listen to my concerns and complaints, however small they may be.
#5.2 Andrew A. Boyd on 2008-06-08 15:43
I agree, it is definitely not vindicative. Is it the right response I don't know? I think Bshp Nikon may be getting a little to much, criticism if people are comparing him to an certain Alaskan Bshp.
#5.2.1 Reader Michael on 2008-06-08 22:51
The criticism is compared to a bishop who understands the sorrows of conscience of his flock and works to fix why they are in such pain. Such a bishop would not carry actions in favor of a miscreant in another diocese calling the shots.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2008-06-09 16:41
To the brothers and sisters of the Three Saints Church in Ansonia;
First let me congratulate you again on your firm stand in connection with the crisis of the OCA central administration.
It is not surprising that Bishop Nikon, who is also the bishop of the Albanian diocese, retaliates and punishes the parish. If so I, a member of the NE diocese, can assure you that you are not alone. Our clergy are under strict orders to “pay, pray, and obey” or else!!! Our church council letters to him asking for the truth are totally ignored. Our diocese meeting exhibited nothing but confusion and fear. Bishop Nikon demonstrates poor leadership and that is to be expected since he feels obligated to do what Metropolitan Herman orders him to do, after all Bishop Nikon was assigned as Bishop of NE by Metropolitan Herman. Therefore what do you expect from a bishop who is following a failing leader. Many of you know that he was hand picked by Metropolitan Herman to organize the AAC meeting, and that raises the question of how successful will be the Pittsburgh meeting or the town hall meetings. We are already seeing some actions that suggest the failure of these meetings. Is this what +M Herman and Bishop Nikon like to see? i.e. business as usual.
Mark, before we reach any conclusions, can you report on the facts of what happened at Ansonia after Bishop Nikon’s last meeting with the parish members. It is time to hold him accountable as well. Lucky the laity of NE diocese will not be threatened by our clergy. We are the united body of Christ bound by our love for the gift of autocephalous OCA. I know I am not alone praying that God will ease the pain and suffering of the church in Ansonia.
A lay person from NE diocese
#5.3 Michel Michail on 2008-06-08 20:27
ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! Fr. Oleksa is truly a jewel in Alaska and for the Orthodox Church - AXIOS, AXIOS, AXIOS!
Now THIS is bishop material. There is no reason why he shouldn't be considered as the new bishop in Alaska. Orthodoxy first landed in Alaska paving a "new way" for North Americans. It is now time to move forward as an autocephalous church and re-instate married bishops. Axios Fr. Michael, Axios!
#6 Anonymous on 2008-06-06 12:45
THANK YOU, Father Michael, for once again the much needed reminder of how very valuable and precious a gift our autocephaly is. Your points are from the Holy Spirit. Let's listen to them!
The talk of abandoning this priceless gift from God of autocephaly is shortsighted, and displays a surprising ignorance of who we are as The Orthodox Church in America. Autocephaly is not just for administrative convenience, or so we can make our own decisions. It is the essential first step to correct our heretical jurisdictionalism and division in America. To abandon this --especially for reasons other than heresy-- is to abandon the vision for ANY Orthodox Church in America, any witness to North America, and it is to abandon the foundational groundwork of the American Saints.
I understand the anger (I'm angry too!), but not only is the grass NOT greener elsewhere, WE have the divine responsibility --not just the hierarchs-- to fight for The Orthodox Church in America. "Where the battle rages, loyalty is proved." (If Balaam is any example, God can use anyone --even us-- to accomplish His purposes for America.)
Again, Father Michael, thank you for your encouraging words and your sacrificial leadership in the Alaskan crisis. I only pray this upcoming AAC paves the way for such renewed vision and systemic change, beginning at the "top."
May God grant His Beatitude the wisdom and humility to step down with what dignity he still retains, and with so many positive actions over the decades as his legacy!
Your Beatitude: we want to remember you with honor for your dedicated service to Christ's holy Church your entire life! Please, allow us to preserve your legacy by submitting your resignation.
Father Mark Hodges
St Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Mission
Fr. Michael and Parishoners of Ansonia......stick to your guns. Most would consider it a blessing to be banned from diocesan meetings not to mention newsletters! Ansonia.....you have a priest who is an alumnus of St. Vlad's. Many are praying for all of you. Stand tall...print your own newsletter. Lots of parishes have councils that should have NEVER been approved to serve. Many have suffered much worse. Hang in there. We are standing with you.
Anonymous for now
#8 anonymous for now on 2008-06-06 16:30
I must have missed the news. Could you please tell us in more detail what is happening in Ansonia?
#8.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-06-06 21:57
"I understand the anger (I'm angry too!), but not only is the grass NOT greener elsewhere, WE have the divine responsibility --not just the hierarchs-- to fight for The Orthodox Church in America. "Where the battle rages, loyalty is proved." (If Balaam is any example, God can use anyone --even us-- to accomplish His purposes for America.)"
This is worth pondering. You are right. The grass probably is not greener elsewhere.
Let me just say first it was Fr. Bobosh with his excellent reflection. Now Fr. Hodges. I am happy to say I live in Ohio. We have some pretty great priests here!
#9 anon on 2008-06-06 16:42
Father Oleksa's SVS Commencement address is also wonderful. You may read it at http://www.svots.edu/Annual/Commencement_Category/2008-0517-commencementaddress/
#10 Carl on 2008-06-06 17:32
How solid and uplifting it was to read Fr. Oleksa's thoughts! What better place for Orthodoxy in America to be REBORN then the Diocese of Alaska?!---where the faith first arrived?! May it be so! Glory be to God for all things!
In His great mercy,
#11 Fr Pius on 2008-06-07 07:58
Agreed Fr. Pius! What better place for Orthodoxy in America to be REBORN than the RUSSIAN ORTHODOX Diocese of Alaska?!---where the faith first arrived?!
#11.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-07 11:38
Fr Michael Oleksa said, and Fr Pius supported, the following:
"Let Pittsburgh be the place where we rediscover and reaffirm who we are, why we are here and where we are going. We are not a colony of a foreign church, seeking to duplicate here what the Mother Church elsewhere can do much better at home. We are not an ethnic club, seeking to preserve Old World customs, languages or cuisines. We are not in exile from somewhere else, a Diaspora that needs direction from a distant homeland.
We are Orthodox Christians in America, convinced that America needs Orthodoxy as the fullness of her Christian vocation, that without Orthodoxy, American Christianity and America herself will remain unfulfilled, and the world, the whole planet will suffer from America’s spiritual deficiencies and “incompleteness.” Do you what to be “whole,” the Lord asked the paralytic. We must address this same question to our country, and offer them the completeness, the wholeness of the Orthodox Faith, not to preserve any ethnic heritage, not to replicate an ancient but alien cultural tradition, but to save this country from its own blindness, to raise it up from its own weakness and paralysis, to make America “all that it can be,” sanctified by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit in His Holy Church."
Neither of them, Fr Michael or Fr Pius emphasized "Russian" anything, regardless of what their own personal piety might reflect.
Let the Church in Russia be Russian and let the Church in America be American. Let them be loving sisters in the Family of God, rejoicing in their common roots and drawing strength from each others peculiarities.
I suggest a rereading of Fr Michael's reflection.
Fr Michael S.
#11.1.1 Fr Michael Spainhoward on 2008-06-09 16:58
Fr. Oleska opined: "We are few. We are poor. We are divided. But so were the Twelve Apostles."
I know that misery loves company, but it is really a stretch to tar the Holy Apostles (!) with the same ....brush that paints the OCA.
#12 Anonymous on 2008-06-07 11:35
Please pray for Fr. Isidore; he has returned to Guest House treatment center.
#13 somewhere over the rainbow on 2008-06-13 07:21
Dear "Somewhere over the rainbow",
Anyone familiar with the ravages of alcoholism, is fully aware that relapse is a part of recovery, so this is not surprising. The fact that he went back into the same environment didn't help much either. The "stinkin thinkin" that follows close behind is the theory that someone is "cured". It is a very sad situation but as I say....not surprising. It is a very long road and alcohol is only part of the problem.
He needs our prayers for sure.
#13.1 Anonymous on 2008-06-13 19:18
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