Saturday, August 30. 2008
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"A summary of that Report and its conclusions were shared with key figures in the administration." Why was this done, in advance of the Synod/MC meeting? Weren't we told that the SIC report was to be presented to both bodies at once? This seems to give the impression of infair intervention on the part of "key figures in the administration."
The SIC report's findings are "still being “tweaked” by OCA legal consultants and the Committee itself. " Who are these legal consultants, and how are they changing the findings of the SIC report?
Why has Fr. Matthew Searfoorce been fired by Bishop NIKON?
It all smells bad to me.
At the Bethlehem Town Hall, the administration told us that the release of the SIC report to HS and MC would be "simultaneous" - meaning that neither body would see it earlier than the other. When asked whether the original report would be released as written, the answer was: "Absolutely!"
One down, one to go.
fr. jason kappanadze
elmira heights, ny
#1.1 fr. jason kappanadze on 2008-08-30 16:17
The same thing was said at both the St. Vladimir's and South River, NJ meetings... that the report would be seen by the Bishops and the Metropolitan Council at the same time, and that it would also be released publicly, in full, at that time as well.
#1.1.1 David Maliniak on 2008-08-30 19:23
I believe the Holy Synod’s letter explains to my satisfaction what happened and I humby pray that they also except our forgiveness for sometimes being to impatient. Now let me say a few words about Chris Banescu’s protestant opinion on forgiveness and repentance. Chris speaks about the question that Peter asks of Christ on how many times should he forgive the offender. Our Lord replies, if he repents forgive him 70 x 7. The key word that Chris defines for us and wants us to accept as such is merely a human definition of repentance. I bet he never once checked to see how the Church or how the Fathers of the Church defined repentance. St. Cyril of Alexander says, “Faith in Christ is the highest form of repentance”, like wise Chrysostom; “To prepare the way of the Lord is equivalent to producing fruits worthy of repentance”, also Origen; “John’s call to repentance is for everyone”. Now lets relook at the question raised; "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying,"I repent," you shall forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4). “To Forgive Seven Times.” Cyrill of Alexandria says, “If he who sins against you repents and acknowledges his fault, you shall forgive him not only once, but very many times.” “We…must rather imitate those whose business it is to heal our bodily diseases and who do not care for a sick person once only or twice, but just as often as he happens to become ill. Let us remember that we also are liable to infirmities and overpowered by our passions. This being the case, we pray that those who have the duty to rebuke us and who have the authority to punish us may show themselves forgiving and kind to us. It is our duty, having a common feeling for our mutual infirmities, to bear one another’s burden, so we will fulfill the law of Christ. The Lord then tells the apostles, “Although he sins seven times in the day,” that is, frequently, and will acknowledge his fault, you shall forgive him.” Truly in a most informative way the Holy Synod acknowledged their fault and I for one forgive.
Also it is hard for me to understand how erroneously and with a sense of authority you have misinterpreted:
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34) “This passage is often quoted and mentioned by many as proof that we must forgive anyone for everything at all times, without any preconditions, change of heart, or contrition on the part of the offenders. But notice that Christ prayed to His Father to forgive those that did not know what they were doing. Indeed, many of the soldiers and underlings that physically restrained, beat, insulted, whipped, spat upon, crucified, speared, and ultimately killed Jesus did not know what they were doing. They were under orders from their rules and superiors to carry out the unjust sentence and horrific punishment on a innocent man. Their culpability and responsibility was small because none of them understood or knew that they were torturing and killing a sinless Messiah, the only begotten Son of God, Light of Light, True God of True God. Also anyone in the crowds at Golgotha who had never heard of Christ, had not listened to His sermons and parables, or witnessed His miracles would indeed not know what they were doing when they taunted Jesus and cheered on the crucifixion.”
I would only like to bring to your attention the behavior and action of Judas and Peter along with all the other Apostles except John. In fact Peter swore that he had not known Jesus. The sinning women wiped Jesus feet with her hair and when questioned, our Lord gave the answer. Another example was the prostitute who was judged by her accusers who were ready to stone her. I need not remind you how Jesus responded to her accusers. There are so many examples where Jesus does not Judge the repentance of others and only one in which he does and that is the Publican and Pharisee. My friend Chris, you sound to me like the Pharisee. It is time for you to take off your judgment hat and put your forgiveness hat on.
Go read the Fathers of the Church. In the mean time I do forgive you for this error. Whether our Lord will, I do not know, I pray he will if you repent (change your direction, a change of heart). I think you ought to reread what St. Stephen the first martyr said as the people knowingly murdered him and Apostle Paul was one of the witnesses and most assuredly heard Stephen say, “Lord do not charge them with this sin.” Acts 7:60. He is our example to follow.
I believe the Holy Synod asked for our forgiveness for those things they erred in. Now just because you think they did more and you yourself and others are accusing them of more, you want the Holy Synod to lie and say that they are guilty of more in order to justify your own feelings. My words to you are the same and with the same love that our Lord said to Peter.
Yours in Christ, Sam Pelican
#1.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-09-01 05:36
Seriously think about things.
Within the same time period of issuing a letter crediting the Metropolitan Council in part for the financial failures, a MC member priest is removed from the Council for tough talk.
This is beyond unacceptable.
The Papacy continues in force and they are the only ones fully responsible.
Their responsibility and root cause of the churches problems are clear.
There is an endemic problem in the church where the Bishops accept no input from the clergy or laity that they don't wish to hear.
This is our crisis and the repentent letter leaves this matter unresolved.
#22.214.171.124 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-09-02 06:52
In reading the above reply to Mr. Banescu one finds great attention to fine disctinctions but little attention to enormously significant points. Is there not some space between the expectations one has for the prostitutes and jailers on the one hand, and the expectations and standards set forth for continuing in office in each higher church rank on the other?
There is no debate about the inappropriateness of one judging the another's eternal reward, nor whether one ought to stand beside any other person in the chuch.
The point here is whether high church leaders who have neglected one of their most significant duties and brought harm to the community as a group and not because of one failing here or there ought properly to continue in such assignments. Not whether we ought to extend kindness and forgiveness to them in the future.
These bishops fire clergy from parishes and remove them from the priesthood, while forgiving their sins and encouraging them to find other occupations for the good of the church. We've seen that here in these pages and in the official publications all the time. Sometimes handled with care and others brusquely. Early retirements, 'releases to nowhere', leave of absences without returns, transfers to the other side of the country, etc.
The church requirements for retaining positions as high leaders and inspirers of the people for parish priests are less than those required for those who have authority themselves over clergy. We are taught the higher the leadership posting the higher and better example of how to live the life. 'I'm sorry, now we are in charge of this new fundraiser can we count on you?' Well, you know, good luck with that.
#126.96.36.199 Harry Coin on 2008-09-02 10:02
Somebody is lying. Millions of dollars are missing and those in charge of keeping things 'honest' are asking forgiveness for not keeping things 'honest'. No one is admitting and asking forgiveness for the CRIME of stealing the money. If I go to my priest having committed sins A and B and only repent and receive forgiveness through the sacraments of repentance, confession, and forgiveness on only one component of my sinfulness and knowingly omitting confession for the other sin, then my confession is useless and I have committed another sin. If only the former Fr. Bob committed the crimes and got all of the missing money, then he is very good at doing such an act. He should get a job as CEO of one of the oil companies or get into politics.
#188.8.131.52 Former OCA member on 2008-09-02 13:46
We appear to be on the horns of a dilemma--are we "Protestants" or apostate Christians purporting to follow our Lord. I'll accept being called a "Protestant" (which, by the way, I was once upon a time) by the likes of Mr. Pelican as long as I can do so within the confines of an Orthodox Faith that embraces the tenants of the Gospels and the teachings of our Lord. Let Mr. Pelican bow down to the idols he has created of bishops that are reviled by much of their flock. Inapplicable references to the Fathers will hardly substitute for knowing right from wrong.
#184.108.40.206 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-09-02 15:12
Dear Mr. Pelican,
You say "Now let me say a few words about Chris Banescu’s protestant opinion on forgiveness and repentance. " Yet, you did not show how Mr. Benescu's opinion is "protestant." Would you please elucidate and tell us why you think so.
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2008-09-02 17:48
I really have no idea why the faithful are putting so much emphasis on this report. Under Herman's direction, the OCA has hired PR for $400,000+ to do a report, purchased a Blackbaud Accounting System for $125,000 and ditched it because no one knew how to use it, spent ???? $$$ to get Homeland Security off their backs because of the Bodnar incident, spending ???$$$ on the Sidebottom case in Alaska, and God only knows how much for other pending legal issues.
Can anyone have confidence on this metropolitan and his administration?????????????
#1.2 MP on 2008-08-31 05:51
My three children by the time they were 10 years old had learned not to come to me with reasons why they did wrong, or the excuses that everybody else was doing it or involved also.
Repentance is not about implicating another in our confession of sins. Nor, is repentance about self justification. This letter has both. Sadly, the Bishops cannot do what my ten year old can. Alas, bad formation.
This is not repentance, This is not a new beginning. This sadly is not Christianity. I cannot reason why they are not embarrassed to have their names on this document. Another careful letter written by lawyers rather than the law of God written on their hearts.
#2 fr Andrew on 2008-08-30 17:36
One thing sticks out foremost in my mind in the description of the MC agenda. The dismissal of Fr. Searforce by, surprise, surprise, Bishop Nikon. I talked yesterday about Bishop Nikon and today there’s yet more dismissal and disappointing actions out of him to talk about again. When I think about all he has done and remembering this above action, one can only come to one thought about what life in the New England Diocese is like: spiritual terrorism. The likes of which have no other diocesan parallel now that Nikolai is gone.
Let’s remember, however, the steps that the former Nicholas Liolin took to become bishop of New England and you might understand how he is so lockstep in the path of the administration, and in particular Herman. Nicholas Liolin was elected Bishop of Baltimore, auxiliary to Met. Theodosius on April 3, 2002. What people do not know is that Fr. Liolin took up residence at Syosset for two months prior to his election in order for his training as bishop. They only mention he took up studies at St. Tikhon’s prior to his consecration. Only now, more than six years later, do we know what a fine pupil he was in learning the ways of Syosset, learned so well, that he has taken it to it heart and must warm the hearts of his teacher Met. Theodosius and those under him. What we must take to heart is that this was a wholly two months before his election, meaning that the election, the consideration by the Synod was just not that. He was a chosen one, chosen by the powers to be, and they sent him along the path so well used to protect the administration and the Synod, they made him an auxiliary in the DC Diocese, where there would be no question about intentions until he was consecrated. But he wasn’t going to take up shop in Baltimore, he was sent to New England. Just like they did with Nikolai, Bishop of Baltimore running the show in Alaska. And Bishop Tikhon, another auxiliary, the Trojan horse method of episcopal selection that has done so much harm to the Church that it will take years to fully grasp its magnitude. And then, when the fullness of time had come, in 2003, he was elected Bishop of the Albanian Diocese, like who else would they pick? And then in 2005, get this, he was elected bishop of New England, like, who else would they pick? We asked earlier this summer and we ask again, if the good people of the Diocese of New England were put in a room back in 2002 and tasked with choosing a leader of their good and faithful diocese, would Fr. Liolin have walked out with their nomination?
Since being in control in New England, which we kind of question the timing of his election as Bishop of New England, having come just around the time of the Wheeler letters, Nikon has been a textbook representative of the special interests not of the laity, not of his clergy, not of Christ, but of Herman and the miscreants that then, and now, rule in Syosset, that are so painfully obstructionists to the truth. Yesterday I spoke to a good degree of Bishop Nikon, but let’s look at something he wrote in the Diocesan Newsletter in the summer of 2007:
“Yet, the pressing question is this, are we witnessing concretely to the love of God? When people visit our parishes, do they encounter vibrant communities, animated by the love of God, the truth of Jesus Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit? Do our parishes stand out in the local community as sources of mercy, charity and witness? When we attend the divine services, do we come with joy and excitement, to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and to come closer to our brothers and sisters in bonds of divine grace? If we answer “no” to any of these questions, indeed we are facing a real crisis, because the Church is supposed to be all of these things, and when it is not, there is a crisis.”
Remarkable. Truly remarkable. Its remarkable because the author of that statement has done his very best to terrorize and punish those that stand out in the local community as sources of witness. Clergy who are “animated by the love of God, the TRUTH of Jesus Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit” are taken away from the situation in which that animated feeling is most needed right now. We ask, does the Bishop truly believe what he writes? Is he hypocritical and just in it to keep the gentlemen’s club steady and safe. Does he just say what he says above because he has to in his job. Does he really believe? Would anyone consider his actions the result of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit? Has he witnessed concretely to the love of God considering his actions against his own diocese? The Faith is not mere nice words for the laity to consume but a guide to our actions, for we do not act for our own benefit, but for the benefit of who’s Church this really IS! A guide for ALL! The most powerful words are those that are followed by actions, these words, we’re sorry to say are as hollow as the letter of the Synod last night.
In the end, my friends, we refer back to that statement of the treasurer of the Diocese of DC/NY, Larry Tosi, when he stated that we can’t handle the truth for if the truth came out it would be the end of the Church. He might have said that with more truth than we have credited him with because we are being shown, time and again, and very prominently this past day that the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America cannot handle the truth and that if the truth came to light it would be the end of that Synod. To the rest of us, the truth is what we thirst after and follow the Lord for.
#3 Anonymous on 2008-08-30 17:43
Indeed. On all points concerning the SIC report.
As for Fr Matthew, what happened?
#4 Fr Basil Biberdorf on 2008-08-30 17:51
I would like to let Paul Sidebottom know that we keep him in our prayers, and what BN did to him here in Ak was was not fair. I pray that it will be over soon and he will come back to Alaska. Quyana!
#5 wiinga in ak on 2008-08-30 22:33
There has been more and more mention of the Sidebottom case.
What has been the outcome of that with the EEOC?
#5.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-31 09:15
Bishop Nikon must immediately explain his reasons for removing Fr. Searforce from the Metropolitan Council. Otherwise, and with complete justification, the worst inferences will be drawn from this amazingly stupid and untimely action.
#6 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-08-31 07:20
People should wake up from any dreams people have of Herman resigning at the meetings or the AAC. The removal of a priest who was going to reintroduce the resolution for his resignation, not even his removal, is a sign that it is not going to happen. It is yet another shot across the bow of the laity (I leave out a complicit MC) that they are going to have to do a lot more than hope and plead with him to leave. He's got TOO much to lose.
And, Ken, he's a bishop, no action of his has to be explained. He was put into a role of no accountability and they're going to do all they can to make sure it stays that way. But, when he comes over, to visit I'm sure if you don't hand him his tribute envelope, he'll say something about THAT! He, and the rest of them on the Synod, are nothing but mercenaries.
God, save us from our bishops!
#6.1 Anonymous on 2008-08-31 09:14
I don't understand all this dumping on Nikon. View him in the context of who he is. This was a good priest, married and faithful. Never ruined peoples lives, never tossed people out with the trash.
Suddenly he is available as a candidate for Episcopal office, and it makes sense. The obstreperous Albanians need a bishop, and whom better than one of their own. Oddly NE needs a bishop, and finally they are able to match him to both....
Now comes Bishop Nikon, not only dealing with his own crowd, but NE too. Siddenly, the OCA blows up, and all the crap that was below the surface comes up. ...
I think that it is almost expecting too much to think that Nikon will come riding out of "Holy" Illyria on a white horse and save the Metropolia. Lay off the guy, he is still finding his way and will be ok in time. Just let the guy alone. He didn't make this mess.
#6.2 no name on 2008-09-01 19:47
Save the day? We're just asking him for truth, justice, and the Orthodox way!
We ask that of all the bishops. And all of them except for one has been singing the party song of obstruction and cover up and even dance to the song committing actions against their very own. We had hope for Nikon thinking that newer blood would be able to guide us through the muck and do what's right. What we, instead, are treated to is a man who keeps the status quo and does what he can do to maintain it.
We express our disappointment in Nikon, we hope that he will live up to his obligations and responsibilities as bishop, that's all. To practice what he preaches and to set an example of how to follow Christ. Unfortunately, he's only been a bad example to this point. We'd even accept if he came out and said that what has happened was wrong. Doesn't take much training to say those words, does it - just a belief in the commandments. If he was to return to being a good priest, maybe the level where he is best suited for his abilities, we'd have lower expectations, but when someone assumes the role of bishop, one must do more than be the center of attention at the services he presides at, he has to be a leader, he has to be a person who truly follows in the footsteps of Christ and not just use that as a explanation for why he should not be held accountable.
Let us say, to start, that we have no personal problems with Nikon. He’s probably a great guy, great with the kids, tells a joke here and there, and outwardly does not show any signs of any malicious intent. However, as bishop he leaves a lot to be desired and that’s where we have our problem. And therein lies the problem because of the serious responsibilities he holds not only administratively, but also for our spiritual well being. When a bishop fails, its not just himself that fails, its his flock. The very fact that you mention that “he is still finding his way and will be ok in time” shows us a man, that after 6.5 years after being consecrated bishop still doesn’t know what to do in that role. In a normal organization if a person doesn’t show competence in his job in a year he’s most likely ranked low and let go if significant improvement hasn’t been shown. In the OCA we make excuses for them and others use them for their own advantage.
Nikon, along with most of the Synod, especially Herman, are TRUE examples of the Peter Principle, that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." While an employee works competently at a level he is promoted until he reaches the level of incompetence. In the case of the OCA this goes along with the idea that the cream sinks to the bottom. Fr. Liolin was probably a great priest with no enemies and no real tests of his faith, he was competent at being a good priest, but then he was plucked out of there and like a fish out of water put into a role that he wasn’t suited for to begin with and easily manipulated by his colleagues for their benefit and protection. The problem in our little organization here is that a bishop is forever and that we can’t rank them lowly and then dismiss them. It’s a pain in the neck to remove a bishop, just look at all the problems with Nikolai. That’s why its important that due diligence is done in selecting a bishop and that it is not a popularity contest and not done behind closed doors in incense filled rooms by those with hidden agendas. The ones with hidden agendas practice what is called Negative Selection. Here is an explanation of that from wikipedia:
“Negative selection, in politics, is a process that occurs in rigid hierarchies, most notably dictatorships.
The person on the top of the hierarchy, wishing to remain in power forever, chooses his associates with the prime criterion of incompetence - they must not be competent enough to remove him from power. The associates do the same with those below them in the hierarchy, and the hierarchy is progressively filled with more and more incompetent people.
If the dictator sees that he is threatened nonetheless, he will remove those that threaten him from their positions - "purge" the hierarchy. Emptied positions in the hierarchy are normally filled with people from below - those who were less competent than their previous masters. So, over the course of time, the hierarchy becomes less and less effective. As this happens relatively often, once the dictator dies, or is removed by some external influence, what remains is a grossly ineffective hierarchy.”
This is what happens in our church and why people who are ill suited for the hierarchy are promoted within the current and immediate past regimes. Its why its important that a process that includes the greatest scrutiny of candidates exist and why the Trojan Horse selection of bishops, which brough us Nikon, Tikhon, Nikolai, and Benjamin, needs to be stopped.
We do not need excuses for the actions of these bishops, we need the bishops to act in a manner that requires no excuses, a manner in which we would, ourselves, strive to emulate.
#6.2.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-02 11:16
Gimmie a break! All this outrage directed at any target that you can aim at is just stupid.
"We" know the culprits, we know the sin. Aim at that.
Just because +Nikon can't or won't pull the trigger for you....... get off the soap box. Many are dealing with rage, hurt and anger, perhaps some you don't suspect and maybe on levels you can't imagine. Perhaps, I have misjudged your pain and anger, maybe I have no right to judge you? ....
Sure these guys are not qualified, we know that. I'd be happy to shred most or all of them, but do you really think that is going to happen? What are we? How many years down the road are we in this filth? You watch, if we can dump +Herman, the SOB'S will try to stop it there. The AAC is a sham and so is any SIC report. If it wasn't it wouldn't be released.
You know who is really at fault here? You. Me. and the rest of us "SOB'S" that haven't organized our laity on a grass roots level to shred and fire every one of them.
The point that while +Nikon may not be the solution, he isn't one of the culprits.
Here endith the lesson. Go in peace.
#18.104.22.168 no name on 2008-09-02 15:58
Oh to the contrary opinion.
Any Bishop that willfully terminates or ends or suppresses the speech of one of his priests in a governance role is not following the Orthodox faith.
I consider it heresy. That's right, the firing of Fr. Searforce from the council is heresy. Bishop Nikon is prescribing to Papacy or Western Catholic belief which was reinforced by Pope Julius in 1512. Everything I understand about the canons of Orthodoxy suggest it is something different. So far I'm absent a correction from anyone.
Its high time our theologians and clergy started using their education. The outcry is missing because of the continued intimidation tactics. The only available venting board is by posting and signing anon on OCANEWS.ORG?
#22.214.171.124.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-02 18:48
When is it enough ? NO MORE LAWYERS !!!! This report now means nothing , I'm sure RSK will take all the heat and we'll still be running in mud.
#7 Anonymous on 2008-09-01 03:22
We've got to scratch our heads over one line in Mr. Stokoe's report of what will happen at this week's meeting and ask ourselves if it is levity, pessimism, reality, some inadvertent slip, or more than one of the above I refer to the statement "Following a Divine Liturgy, the meeting begins with the most anticipated item on the agenda." He then records an agenda that shows breakfast at 9:00 a.m. to be what comes directly after the divine service!
I am personally voting for inadvertent slip, but it was close.
(editor's note: Ouch! I apologize for th slip, but then, breakfast at Syosset was always good....!)
#7.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-09-01 19:59
Well, breakfast certainly has been scaled back in recent years!
#7.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-09-02 10:33
The OCA may just have its own terms after tomorrow: "9-03"
The events, statements, actions, and motions that come after the release of the SIC report will prove to be of great historical interest, analysis, and commentary.
I really don't want to say more until I know what is in that SIC Report.
#8 Patty Schellbach on 2008-09-02 18:40
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