Wednesday, August 20. 2008
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Now why can't we have bishops like Fr. Berzonsky? In fact, we can and should. Thank you, Father, what enlightening words needed at this time. May God grant you many more years of health to serve!
#1 Anonymous on 2008-08-20 06:53
Thank you, Father. My own father who was alcoholic, when he became sober, asked forgiveness for his neglect in person, and had the patience to listen to my grivances. Memory eternal. Alice
#2 Alice Carter on 2008-08-20 07:45
A prayer of thanksgiving for Fr Vladimir's wonderful reflection! He has accurately described the warped ecclesiology permeating our Church today. This mutated perspective is like a two-sided coin, each side of which is an aberration of the true ecclesiology of the Church.
One side of this coin is what has come to be known as "anti-clericalism". This perspective says that anyone with a collar on (deacon, priest, bishop) is only out there to get everything for themselves, to grab church properties, to browbeat parishes into putting gold-plated chandeliers in the rectory, etc. What is very sad concerning this in the current crisis is that those who have been guilty of these behaviors (who have absconded with the charities monies) have only helped to put lighter fluid on the fire of this skewed perspective.
The other side of the same mutated coin, however, is what has come to be known as "clericalism". This idea says that, unless you do have a collar on (deacon, priest, bishop), you are a nobody. Fr Berzonsky wonderfully proved the prevalence of this attitude on the part of our hierarchy in his Reflection. I, too, am personally aware of this warped ecclesiology. I just left a parish after being there for fifteen years, ten of them as a choir director. This past year, from October 2007 to May 2008, we had a priest assigned to our parish who was a senior at the seminary, fulfilling his parish assignment duties towards getting his degree. By the way, this young man is a fine priest and will make a great pastor in a parish. When he left us in May, after being there seven months, the priest (who is also the dean of our deanery) arranged an extended coffee hour (a meal provided by the parishioners), a money purse, and some gifts. When I left the parish at the end of June, after serving there for so many years, I did not get so much as a card wishing me well in my new parish. The message was abundantly clear: the student priest, because he wears a collar, is a viable, credible human being, worthy of being recognized as a servant of God in th Church; I, because I do not wear a collar (even though I have two degrees from the seminary), am dog meat!!! This clericalism manifests itself in other ways, also. At the various Mission Vespers celebrated on the Sunday evenings of Great Lent, after the dismissal, the priest of the hosting parish will thank this-and-that priest and this-and-that deacon for being there, without a word being said to thank all of the faithful who have attended. At the end of one such service, a gentleman standing next to me in the choir, after hearing all the thank-you's and kudos to the clergy, turned to me and said, "And what are the rest of us? Cattle?" Again, this warped side of the ecclesiological coin is just as mutated as the other, anti-clerical side.
Both of these perspectives and attitudes have no place in the Church. I count about half a dozen priests and a couple of deacons in my own deanery as friends. In his famous speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr Martin Luther King Jr stated he hoped that his children would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. It is my prayer that we come to a point in our Church where the true ecclesiology from God is manifested, where a person is considered by the content of their character, rather than if they are wearing a collar or not!!
#3 David Barrett on 2008-08-20 08:23
Thanks for the great discription of how ugly both sides of the "clericalism" coin. On the one side you have clergy who see the world as basically divided into to parts: the clergy and the people. They love the praise of men and to flatter. The other side, the anti-clerical side, doesn't so much object to the praise and flattery as it covets it. It wants to be praised and recognized and valued. In all my hears as an orthodox christian I have never read in our hymnography nor in the lives and teachings of the saints that we should desire to be "valued", "recognized", much less praised for our good work.
Let not your left hand now what your right hand does.
Thanks again for the very clear example of what attitude we should NOT have. Both sides of the coin are evil. Its better to be anonymous, a nobody, and to work humbly and ardently in loving others than to clang noisy symbols reminding everyone of your presence and how much good your doing for the good of the church.
#3.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-26 19:54
Ephesian 6:4 states: ...Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath...
Have we been provoked to wrath by a noblesse oblige wrongly understood, used in a haughty. despotic manner that hypocritically serves self-interest? Maybe so. And just where does such a sick attitude in the OCA originate? It seems strange for a democratic country like America.
We are all equally kings with our nobility through Christ in the Church; just so we are all equally servants through Christ the Suffering Servant. May it be so realized as it is written in Holy Scripture. Then we will have a new foundation to build upon, that of Christ our High King and lowliest Servant of All.
#4 Ever and anon on 2008-08-20 09:30
What constitutes the true nobility?
Not wealth, nor name, nor outward pomp, nor power;
Fools have them all; and vicious men may be
The idols and the pageants of an hour.
But 'tis to have a good and honest heart,
Above all meanness and above all crime,
And act the right and honorable part
In every circumstance of place and time.
He, who is thus, from God his patent takes,
His maker form'd him the true nobleman;
Whate'er is low and vicious he forsakes,
And acts on rectitude's unchanging plan.
Things change around him; changes touch not him;
The star, that guides his path, fails not, nor waxes dim.
#4.1 Ever and anon on 2008-08-26 14:18
Father Bersonsky has, once again, scathingly put in context just what we are dealing with in the OCA. It goes beyond "run of the mill" clericalism. It even surpasses hypocritical Pharisaical behavior and takes us back to the time of our Lord.
Our bishops, by and large, have become Sadducees! Lest we forget, the Sadducees, the elite priestly class in Judaism that governed the Temple and controlled religious life in Israel, were the principal enemies of our Lord. It was they who demanded of Pilate His execution for challenging their authority. They lived and acted as Lords, a parasitical scourge on the Chosen People.
Sound familiar? The Pharisees were righteous by comparison, counting amongst their members eventual followers of Christ.
The Sadducees held themselves apart from others, considering their fellow Jews corrupt and unclean, except when ritually dispensed by their good offices--for a small fee of course.
Have we indeed come full circle? We, and especially our bishops, should shudder to think so.
#5 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-08-20 11:16
Fr. Berzonsky's reflections are truly great. My only comment is AMEN!
#6 William Kosar on 2008-08-20 11:18
AMEN and Thank You!
Your article and public witness is a sober commentary on the awful reality we're in. Your reflections and insights into the spiritual crisis facing us are a much needed reminder of the severe dysfunction that persists and the lack of true progress due to what I believe to be "Functional Atheism" (mentioned now several times by a few priests) at the highest levels of the OCA. It explains why the Church has not healed and cannot heal as long as hierarchs and clergy forsake Christ, fail to walk the talk, and do not take their calling as shepherds seriously.
Keep up the good fight and continue speaking the truth for the benefit of all the rational sheep who need this spiritual light, need to hear the voices and wisdom of the true shepherds, and thirst for truth, for Christ, and for genuine Christianity in all its aspects. Our prayers go out to you, to Mark Stokoe, Archbishop Job, Fr. Ted Bobosh, Greg Nescott, Dcn. Eric Wheeler, Fr. Christopher Wojcik, Fr. John Reeves, Fr. Andrew Moore, Fr. Thomas Hopko, and all the other priests and laymen and women (so many I cannot list them all here, please forgive me for leaving you out) who have stood up and defended the truth and the faith with such selflessness, passion, and courage.
According to C.S. Lewis many of our hierarchs do not really believe in Christianity and do not operate and conduct themselves as if they believe in a Universal Moral Law of God. If they did, we would not be witnessing the un-repentant, cold-hearted and self-centered attitudes of most of hierarchy and their complete failure to deal with the evil and abuses that ran rampant for so many years. Many are clearly incapable of acting in accordance with the Moral Traditions and tenents of the Orthodox Christian faith.
C.S. Lewis on Christianity, Repentance, Forgiveness
"Christianity simply does not make sense until you have faced the sort of facts I have been describing. Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness. It therefore has nothing (as far as I know) to say to people who do not know they have done anything to repent of and who do not feel that they need any forgiveness. It is after you have realised that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power--it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk."
Dear Batiushka Berzonsky Bless!
Just only half tongue-in-cheek: was your father the small boy who unselfconsciously proclaimed (amidst the welter of policitally-correct flummery) the true state of the Emperor's clothing?
It appears from your observation that the chickens from Constantine's appointment of Sylvester as bishop of Rome have well and truly come home to roost!
Until then, Bishops (and above) could be removed by their Synods (Synods with real teeth!) for gross unsuitability for the office of Bishop. True, there were problems with the Roman Synod ever since Pope Stephen II, but the constitutional theory of removal still existed in Rome until Sylvester.
What Constantine did was to effectively remove the right of recall from the Synod and arrogate it to himself, and thus through inheritance, to the Office of Emperor. Thus rendering Synods effectively useless talking-shops - useful only for Potemkin parades of bonhommie.
Even when there were no Imperial appointments to the episcopate, the "College of Bishops" acted as if they were in locus imperator - and thus became effectively a self-perpetuating oligarchy, very much like the Sadducees in another posting.
True, there were from time to time, truly worthy candidates that bucked the system and by some strange quirk of accident did indeed become Bishop, but this was notable more as the exception, rather than the rule.
If the OCA Synod does not have that power of recall, a power that can over-ride any veto by any or all of the Bishops, then it is all-over red rover as far as the OCA is concerned: game, set and match to the College of Bishops. With the hoi polloi (including priests, deacons, readers etc) having to find pastoral shelter elsewhere.
In addition, where are the (non-clergy) holy prophets in Orthodoxy with the real Godly authority to act as did the Prophet Samuel who even as a sub-teen youngster announced to the unworthy High Priest Eli, the unwelcome news that the "succession" of the High Priesthood would no longer be recorded as being through him, but through his younger brother! [His sons died in battle, childless.]
What Samuel was doing then was announcing to Eli the fact that the "charism" of High Priesthood (or for than matter, any form of priesthood) no longer rested upon him, and that as far as God was concerned, he personally was "Ichabod" territory!
Thus, from Biblical authority, we discover that "charism" of Clergy (Deacon and above) does not, as Papal Rome has often said, leave an "indelible stain" upon its recipient. This pernicious idea is a direct outgrowth of the Silvestrine precedent established by Constantine.
Thus, one can validly and Biblically say from the Eli precedent, that while +Herman may well enjoy the outward trappings (and Canon Law status) of Bishop, the Holy Spirit "charism" of Episcopacy (or for that matter, any form of priesthood) has well and truly departed from him.
Perhaps +Job is the only Bishop in the OCA holding the fort with this charism? (Vladyka, please reconsider!)
In all of this, I only hope and pray that God's will be done.
From your unworthy servant John.
#8 John Battye on 2008-08-20 15:46
Thank you Fr. Vladimir,
That was absolutely a super commentary. You cut to the chase and cut through so much of the "BS" like a knife! I hope your words will have been greatly pondered on by this current Holy Synod and those who have been caring all along that the OCA can move to a higher level of ethics and integrity. That they move to a higher level of love for their faithful, as you summarize, may also help them move to a higher level of ethics and integrity, too, and it sounds as if it is a big missing ingredient.
#9 Patty Schellbach on 2008-08-20 17:18
Wow... and I echo Amen!
While I thought your much earlier suggestion of a prayerful meeting was a bit naive, your current observations put into words my own feelings.
Similarly, I feel that this crisis has not "bottomed out" and that the structure of the OCA is in moral and physical shambles. The Church will survive with yet another blow from within, but the OCA may not.
The prospect of an American Orthodox institution that could evangelize within a spiritually active nation will again be left to ethnic jurisdictions with far less understanding of American culture.
I am convinced that the church that I attend will weather this storm, perhaps along with my diocese (Midwest). I am also convinced that the temple in Syosett must fall!
May God bless us all.
#10 Alex Kreicbergs on 2008-08-21 07:04
I was infuriated when a Bishop used patricide to describe the sentiments of anyone speaking out against the Synod and I'm glad to see another priest equally upset.
There are a couple of thoughts I had reading Fr. B's reflection. Another time of silence from the hierarchs of Christ's church happened with the sex scandals in the Catholic Church. For those clergy and laity that think if the story is told by us that a story of molested and sodomized children can be worse, think again. Catholicism hasn't folded up for its honesty. The Pope is still working that apology.
And Metropolitan Herman's line, "I have done nothing wrong." is the same line as "I am not a crook". We all know the outcome of that phrase. Metropolitan Herman and the rest of the Synod can make it easier when they say these words next time as the words are equally the same when they say, "I have done nothing."
No exchange in dialogue is probably more of the legal advice we paid the quarter million for....but its more of the same. I have done nothing. I have said nothing. There is a tradeoff, though, currently unrecognized... I am nothing before my flock.
Fr. Berzonsky misses the only thing that will stop the Bishops from sitting on promontory. That is real power for the clergy and laity within the structures of the church. Instead of the Bishops sitting on a head table, the Preconciliar Commission should well recognize that the Bishops need to be seated amongst us as well.
And Bishop Job, who silenced Stokoe years ago and has apologized needs to recognize that the only way to turn the ship around is to make it so in the future, the nuts from places like Dayton, Ohio get to speak and can't be silenced.
This is real power and well within the Statute. Never should a Bishop be allowed to silence someone within the church. Never.
When Bishops can just say, "You are out of order." to anything they don't want to discuss, now that is a problem.
The Bishops are nothing if they can't find a substantive way to deliver real power to the laity that would allow tough dialogue to happen in the future.
#11 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-08-21 09:38
Even when power is placed in the hands of the faithful they are able to be bought off and convinced not to do anything. The MC has the legal authority to call the Syosset Police Department and report a theft and have Kondratick arrested and extradited to New York to stand trial for his crimes against the Church. While the bishops are the MAIN stumbling block to any real resolution and solution to our problems, don't let the MC fall out of our sights. They have been enablers to this very day not putting any real teeth into showing the Synod that there is a limit.
If the MC wanted to show that it is more than another group, this time of laity, that enjoys their special treatment as "trustees" of the Church, being big people back in their respective dioceses and parishes, they need to act to the fullest within their realm of responsibilities. The first act would be to admit that an act of theft was committed and bring the person to justice legally. You donít plead with the Metropolitan to resign. Heís done unsavory things and is personally responsible for the decline of this church to levels unimaginable. You do what you need to do to have him removed. You donít plead and then when he refuses, understandably, you go home all disappointed and feeling powerless. One stole and one, at least, knew what was going on so heís implicated. Call the cops and move on Ė you donít need the Synod to make the call to the precinct. Call the Synodís bluff and call the cops. Take a page from the Catholic play book when it comes to criminal behavior. The only two organizations that openly protect criminal behavior are the Congress and various legislative bodies and the OCA. The Congress probably has a better approval rating that the Synod and MC of the OCA to boot!
The MC to this point has lost a great degree of credibility and with the current crop of members cannot ever gain that back. Remember just last year all of us would wait on the edge of our seat in anticipation of their meetings, during their meetings, and the reports afterwards. These days people donít even care to know when they are meeting. Why? Because they have been shown to be as useless in terms of crisis management as the Synod being enablers allowing those on the Synod to further their acts of defiance. Remember, also, that this crew KNEW, having received the email from Ray Velencia, for a full six months before the suit was filed of what he had done. And NOTHING. This is very remarkable and people donít mention it enough, but its one of the most significant things to happen over these three years Ė more than a year after they said things had turned around and were getting better. Six months, forty people, covered up and shut up over an act of such significance to us in terms of moral and financial impacts. At the very least just for SENDING that mail the MC should have insisted upon the suspension of Velencia and questioned what this was all about. But nothing, nothing at all. Then what happens? They get slapped with a $6,000,000 lawsuit. People, in good years the OCA was pulling in about $3,500,000 annually in assessments and 95% of that went to administration. How much of our future if weíre left with one does the MC plan to mortgage to pay off that judgement! You all talk of growth and evangelization. What do you think youíre going to be able to do when you have to pay off millions in judgements and loans to cover thefts? What were the MC THINKING to allow this to happen, shut up, and then where do they think weíre going to pay for this. Sheís got a good case and if I was on the jury Iíd think sheís entitled to a good deal more just to show that a priest breaking a confidence like that is serious business, at least to the secular world! And THEN what happens? Three weeks after it surfaces what happens? Velencia receives an award from Herman. Did you hear a wimper from the MC? That was one of the more openly disgraceful and despicable acts that has occurred. You couldnít find one cause they all had their heads still stuck in the sand! This was one of the most disturbing acts because, yes, we expect to be disappointed by the Synod, yes, we expect their deceptions, their cover-ups, etc. But we expect better from our MC members and we have been shown they are in bed with the Synod when it comes to malfeasance. Why? Because they enjoy their being at the head tables, and being introduced as MC members, and the paid trips to NY to act important in rented meeting rooms.
Why was that one member concerned when the bishops took the china and silverware? Not because they thought the bishops should have the plastic, but because they felt they were entitled to it as well! Fr. Vladimir, you hit the nail on the head, but didnít go far enough. Yes, the bishops think theyíre royalty, but those that have special lay positions in the church, and the clergy in those positions as well, are borderline on the same mentality. The reason that Kondratick and gang got away with all they did was because they understood that giving laity special roles gave them an air of importance they donít normally have and they savored it! Kondratick is probably kicking himself that he did so much because even with him gone, the mentality hasnít abated. He could have gotten them on his side at a discount to what he paid.
We can bitch and moan and say the laity needs to be more powerful, but look what happens with power that they do have. Do they use it wisely? Do they use it at all? They lay down in the face of malfeasance but revel in their standing in the church and want to be seen as the people who are bringing about change and improving the accountability and transparency. What do they really show us? That for all the change they say is occurring the more things stay the same, the more entrenched that corrupt attitude becomes. After three years you canít come to any other conclusion.
#12 Anonymous on 2008-08-21 11:21
Dear Anonymous #12:
You are closer to the head of the nail than Fr. Berzonsky or anyone else has ever been! We need nothing new except some new blood. Administratively, by the existing Statute, there were all sorts of safeguards in place to prevent this scandal, but they were sidestepped in full view of indifferent stewards, and the stepping hasn't stopped even today.
But consider this. All of these effusive and increasingly threatening words, but where's the action? If Fr. B's observations are true (and they really are!), why do Fathers Berzonsky and Reeves and other clergy writers, and laymen in the know like Mr. Nescott, continue to financially support what was rightly named "practical aetheism" at the top of the Church?
They and we all know that MW withholding starting things moving. We all know the mercenary nature of our leadership. And please, no one say it's been tried and it failed. It was not tried by enough people for enough time. Had it been, we would be looking at a very different, cleaner and providentially impoverished OCA today, ready to start over with a better sense of duty.
Keep writing, but stop those checks!
#12.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-21 20:50
In my parish, several of us wanted to withhold a long time ago. The way it was presented to us at the parish council meeting was that we could if we wanted to, but our parish would still pay for us to the diocese because the diocese had not voted to withhold to the central church. It was made to sound like we would just be hurting our own parish and we don't want to do that.
#12.1.1 Jane on 2008-08-23 20:05
What is hurting your parish, and every parish, is the continuation of the cover-up of unrepentant, bad behavior in high places. The longer it is covered, the more we will get used to it, and the more acceptable it will become. In one way or another, this unrepentant behavior has been ignored, covered, laughed at or admired to the extent that its perpetrators and many in the Church consider it to be an entitlement of high office and a form of ecclesiastical entertainment.
As you have seen, the relatively few who object to it are reviled, threatened and ignored because they just haven't agreed to accept the notion that boys must have their toys for the Church to function properly. As some have pointed out, the real tragedy is the spiritual death that our leaders are heading for. All attempts to get their attention through millions of words, threats, pleadings and prayers fell flat, until the Diocese of the Midwest began to withhold assessments. That alone snapped a few heads around and things began to move. Unfortunately, that living, active, encouraging witness was prematurely aborted (so quietly) and we returned to the status quo.
So most of us now continue to finance the infection that has spread broad and deep from Syosset, seeking to become a "normal" way of Church life. Thinking that they are fulfilling an obligation, they are rather accomplices in a major assault against God's people, against and within God's Body on earth.
What is hurtful in your neck of the woods is not that your parish has thought of withholding, but that your diocese hasn't. So what is more grievous and damaging: that your parish refuses to be complicit in chronic fraud and bad behavior in high places, or that your diocese face the consequences of its own dereliction of duty by covering your payments for a while?
Please think about this on the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist this Friday. His stand for righteousness caused the loss of his head and his physical life, but in a flash, he gained eternal life in great glory through prophetic courage. Today, we act as if there had never really been a John the Baptist, or that his witness had nothing at all to do with us.
Accepting and financing chronic bad behavior is not our duty. It is our destruction!
Unlike John the Baptist, and to my eternal shame, I sign,
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2008-08-24 20:02
It isn't an unusual circumstance that people are not prosecuted in embezzlement cases. Not saying it is right or wrong to not prosecute, but the cops won't always just step in like you think. The FBI, according to Mark himself, has done interviews, but we hear nothing.
As far as the Velencia deal, what real power does the MC have in the matter? Can they make a statement? Big deal.
I struggle with your post and agree at the same time. Three years is far too long for the MC to have taken no action, but what actions are within their locus of control? Back in 1999 when audits weren't done, what was their competancy?
Did they have authority to stop the money flowing? Did they have an imprest account they could have stopped distributing to the administration? Could they have written a letter to parishes telling people appeals money was getting diverted?
What tangible powers do they hold? Calling the Syosset PD in a matter where supposedly the FBI is involved already seems somewhat silly, don't you think?
I can tell you that in a small church in Wisconsin, years and years of embezzlement would have never made it. The Parish Council would have discovered it, term limits would have limited it, etc.
Power for the laity could be term limits on officers in the administration, it could be term limits on Bishops or Metropolitans, it could be drawing lots on the choice of Metropolitan. Power could be in limiting a Bishops authority to silence discussion, in the matter of Job and Mark, for example. There are many tangible means not currently available that are effective, but don't really hurt anyone that cares about the welfare of the OCA.
The MC, in my opinion, is nearly a worthless body of the church, for the very reasons you state. Removing the MC in the last 15 years seems to provide nearly no difference in the results. The Bishops would have still crashed the boat.
#12.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-08-22 02:35
No, its not silly in the least to call the Syosset PD. The FBI is not looking at embezzlement. If the organization being embezzled doesn't press charges I doubt there will be prosecution, that's why Kondratick and gang think they can just bide time and either people will tire or the statute of limitations will run out when it comes to the embezzlement. The FBI and the IRS look for crimes against the government. Illegal movement of money to Russia, structuring, mail fraud, tax evasion, illegal importation of goods from Russia then sold here at a profit and the income not reported - this is just what I can think of off the top of my head. These are SERIOUS crimes against the government, let alone the theft committed against God and His Church! This is what the government is looking at - breaking of federal law. They don't have an interest in prosecuting embezzlement if the underlying organization doesn't care to press charges. Also, last I remember, theft is a local crime, not a federal crime unless, of course, the theft was against a federal agency.
So, no, its not silly, Daniel, its just one prong of an attack against the malfeasance and an act to bring some integrity to the MC that they will not stand for what has been going on. Period!
The MC has fiduciary responsibility, that means they can turn off the lights in Syosset and leave Herman in the dark. He'll probably come back with excommunications, but those won't hold and he'll literally be out in the cold and couldn't do a thing about it - at that point seeing what's been done very few people will be arguing his side anymore Ė and that side of intransigence will come crumbling down. Unless something of that nature or the calling of the local authorities to show there is seriousness about finally resolving this is done, we will all meet here in another year and discuss the same topics with the same lines drawn and the same people on the same sides Ė another year of Markís life chronicling the comedy and hypocrisy that has become the OCA. Personally, I'd rather be thinking, in a year's time, how far we came since this point in time and how the future's looking bright, not that we are looking at starting a fifth year in this war of attrition.
#12.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-22 13:15
Its a dwindling old church run by a bunch of bearded old men that won't listen to anything said by anyone in the laity.
They can set any rule without consequence. (see 1998/9)
They can spend any money without consequence. (see the last 15 years or so)
They call all the shots and the clergy and the people love it and don't need to be involved in decision making.
When one of their high priests steals, he is rewarded with a job not as a priest.
They cannot be asked to resign over all these misdeeds, asking them to resign is heretical.
They cannot be removed except through this process called deposition that requires they have raped or murdered. Pillaging appears to be okay.
The laity need not speak, because their words ring hollow.
If the people get disgusted and leave, it is because of the people's failed spirituality. The national church and its ecclesiology do not affect this 'church life aspect'.
Bishops must be like kings and have all final authority as they are the direct decendants of Christ.
Only they can distribute the sacramental body and blood of Jesus.
If you speak against them, they will say you are trying to kill them.
If you try to take their power, they will call you the devil.
They aren't imfallible, but they are nearly perfect.
Blame the toothless MC all you want.
#12.3 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-08-22 06:32
While there is a great deal of truth in what you say, some of your points need modification and qualification:
1. Not all members of the MC are the same, i.e. Mr. Nescott etc. Like Archbishop Job, they have previously been isolated and marginalized. We already know from this website that there are many members of the laity and clergy who think the bishops are entitled to do whatever they wish subject only to God's judgment.
2. The mentality of undue deference to authority has been revealed as a serious weakness that leads to immorality and even criminality. Will we (collectively) ever learn?!
3. Just because someone sues doesn't mean they will get a dime and certainly doesn't mean they will get the amount they are suing for no matter how worthy the suit.
4. Power and authority need to be subject to checks and balances--the genius of the American political system. Even this doesn't guarantee good governance, but it's the best we can do in this world. Had the rather inadequate checks and balances in the OCA governance system been utilized, rather than subverted and ignored, we would not be in the mess we currently are with, as you rightly say, no end in sight.
5. The MC has one last chance next month to prove it is not just a eunuch or a court jester to the Synod. To Hades with its supposed limited powers--do something dramatic and effective to show that the Synod must capitulate to the forces of reform and disclosure. How many admonitions and insults must be hurled against the MC before it finds the gumption to ACT?
6. The MC, at a minimum next month, must effect the removal of Metropolitan Herman or cease to have the slightest relevance to the OCA, except as yet one more embarrassing appendage of the Synod.
#12.4 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-08-22 06:47
You mention that the MC gets paid trips to New York for its meetings. Is this true? If so, this is ridiculous.
I do not know for sure, but I would imagine that most, if not all, of the MC members could afford to pay their own way for MC meetings in New York or DC or wherever they are. All of us sacrifice our time and money to build up our local parish -- preparing or buying food coffee hour, using our own equipment to care for the parish buildings/grounds, donating our time and God-given skills and talents on the parish council or in the choir, etc.
If MC members were required to pay their own way for their meetings, then maybe they would take their jobs more seriously. Indeed, maybe their impotence is due in part to Syosset giving them free trips and such -- i.e., not wanting to bite the hand that feeds them?
They can take up a collection among fellow MC members or do whatever they want to defray costs for those traveling from Alaska, California, etc. Maybe those who live in NY, NJ, or PA can contribute for plane fare or gas money for those who live farther. Many of the lay members of the MC are successful in their careers, and I'd imagine they could pay their own way without problems.
Since our church should be (at heart) a missionary church to North America, virtually all of our expenditures should be going toward that effort.
Have MC members pay their own way -- maybe this will force them to act less like the entitled popular kids at high school and more like servants of the God and the Church.
-Troubled in Texas
(Editor's note: Like every nation-wide volunteer organization in America, the Metropolitan Council members are reimbursed for their travel and lodging for their two meetings a year. That is neither excessive nor out of order for the amount of work they do, nor the responsibilities they possess. That they have not always met those responsibilities is another question. The solution to that is not to punish them by asking future members to sacrifice financially, but to elect more responsible members, and not turn the MC election at the AAC into a high school popularity contest, as you describe it. )
#12.5 Troubled in Texas on 2008-08-23 12:09
It is because people don't know the truth and where all the money is spent that there's not more outrage than there is. Look at the financials and don't just question the amounts in relation to other amounts that are there, but demand questions on exactly what those amounts are made up of.
#12.5.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-24 14:33
I can't go with you, Troubled, in suggesting that MC members travel on their own dime. I know what our parish priest is paid, and I also know that expecting him to fly twice a year or so to Syosset at his own expense is expecting too much. I do wonder, though, about whether the MC has considered videoconferencing. Photons through glass is a lot cheaper than jet fuel through a turbine.
#12.5.2 Scott Walker on 2008-08-24 14:43
Here we touch the very essence of the Orthodox doctrine of the Church. All the power of Orthodox ecclesiology is concentrated on this point. Without understanding this question is impossible to understand Orthodoxy ... The soul of Orthodoxy is sobornost ... What then is sobernost? The word is derived from the verb 'sobirat,' to reunite, to assemble. From this comes the word 'sobor', which by a remarkable coincidence, means both 'council' and 'church.' Sobornost is the state of being together ... It may also be translated a 'harmony,' 'unanimity' ... a synthesis of authority ... the liberty in love which unites believers ... as 'catholicity' each member of the Church, equally with the assembly of the members, lives in union with the entire Chruch, with the Church invisible ... in the truth, both the anchorite and those who live in the midst of the world ... The Church knows itself directly. This self-knowledge is the Church's infallibility. The Catholic attempt to find an external ... authority for infallibility in the Pope has been unsuccessful ... The Church is its own self-evidence, the foundation of all definitions ... [Sobornost] is the individual spirit merged into the unity of 'many in one'; it is the 'I' grounded in the 'we.' In this plural unity of the Church-the body of Christ- lives the Spirit of God.
Fr. Sergius Bulgakov. The Orthodox Church, Ch. IIIb, B#35, pp.74-83 from "The Bible and the Holy Fathers for Orthodox"
posted by Deacon Gregory Uhrin
#13 Deacon Gregory Uhrin on 2008-08-26 05:03
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