Wednesday, October 1. 2008
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All 'The Establishment' of the Embezzlement Era has to accomplish is to get through the weekend. Can anyone think that a group so expert at footdragging and cover-up for twenty years will allow such sweeping change when all that is needed (from their end) is to run out the clock for a few hectic sessions?
The Establishment is the whole group of office holders, spouses, inlaws, and fellow travellers who by action or inaction had a good ride thanks to OCA money.
Even the most judicious and insightful motion from the floor must be read, considered, discussed ... that takes time.(( I predict an overloaded, nonworking Xerox machine at a critical time - old trick)) The comparison to the Red Army retreating, retreating, fighting all the way to the suburbs of Moscow comes to mind.
If The Holy Spirt has allowed (yes?) these 'hide the ball' tactics for so long; now, suddenly, that the game plan will revert to a hurry-up offense. Can Orthodox do a "Hail Mary Pass" as time slips away?
#1 j Murray on 2008-10-01 09:56
While the Statute revisions are reasonable proposals, I would not vote to elect the Metropolitan by lot, though I applaud taking this decision out of the hands of the Synod.
The first three proposed resolutions are an insult to the intelligence and experience of the long suffering members of the OCA. How appropriate that they come from the land of Mordor! They should be loudly shouted down, so that more relevant and important business can be attended to by the delegates.
Under current circumstances, I would vote for the forth resolution. But I do hope additional creative proposals will be forthcoming from the floor.
#2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-01 10:23
Because of the dire circumstances that the OCA finds itself in shouldn't any major financial plans by any church have a moritorium put on them.
Is this a resolution worth the council
s consideration? For example the plan for the OCA Cathedral in NYC to build an 8 story cond of 34 units over it. The reason money problems. Yet the Cathedral has been spending money hand over fist for the last decade, at least. New Iconostasis, baldichino, AC, Roof , Windows , Elaboritly carved doors everywhere,new classrooms, kitchen etc. etc. above and beyond normal operating expenses. Where was this money coming from? If things were so bad perhaps it is due to mismanagment ... Desecrating the church is no answer. But answers are needed. This is definatly a red flag issue! Will we ever learn?
#3 Anonymous on 2008-10-01 10:24
Because of the dire circumstances that the OCA finds itself in shouldn't any major financial plans by any church have a moratorium put on them. Is this a resolution worth the council's consideration? For example; the plan for the OCA Cathedral in NYC to build an 8 story condominium of 34 units over it -the reason money problems. Yet the Cathedral has been spending money hand over fist for the last decade, at least. New Iconostasis, Baldichino, AC, Roof , Windows, Elaborately carved doors everywhere, new classrooms, kitchen etc. etc. above and beyond normal operating expenses. Where was this money coming from? If things are so bad perhaps it is due to mismanagement ... Desecrating the church is no answer. But answers are needed. This is defiantly a red flag issue! Will we ever learn?
Are you intimating that the expenses for the church and other property upgrades were misappropriated? Do you have evidence to support that? Just because a parish wishes to spend money to keep the Lord's house in good shape is a bad thing? The blogs here sometimes go a bit too far in their accusations for my taste. I've spent a lifetime putting the Church first, teaching that to my children into their adulthood, and trying to live by that myself. Don't any of us try to live St. Ephraim's prayer much less listen to it? Pass along good relevant information here, keep the idle gossip out. Please.
(editor's note: The writer was asking a legitimate question - not gossiping. This is the same old smear tactic used to keep people silent and passive and obedient in the near past - anybody who raises a question is "gossiping". Rubbish. One could legitmately ask whether this is anybody's business beyond those in the parish - but since the question has been asked, how about an answer, rather than attacking the questioner? )
#3.2 Angry on 2008-10-02 12:45
Does anyone see the irony here. The OCA Cathedral in NYC, one of the most historic churches in the history of Orthodxy in America, The Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection on 59East 2nd St beloved by the thousands who have passed through her doors will be topped by big bucks condos whose enterance will be in the front of the Cathedral along side that of the faithful. The scandal wracked OCA couldn't ask for a more fitting symbol of what has gone totally wrong with the OCA.
#3.2.1 Anon on 2008-10-03 17:25
I just want to be counted as one of those very disturbed by this plan. It appears that the decision lies solely in the hands of the members of the parish, although it is the diocesan cathedral and one of the Metropolitan's seats. I hope that those members have learned the lessons of the past several years and demand that the details be discussed openly and respectfully. I have serious doubts, based report from current members there and direct correspondence from the priest, that that has been the case.
#220.127.116.11 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-10-04 09:44
An antidote to the practice of putting only one name on a three-name ballot: all such ballots are discarded.
#4 AnonPriest on 2008-10-01 11:32
Written in a different, but similarly stormy time, and addressing some of the same issues, especially the skewed defenition by some of 'conciliar,' these articles should be required reading for everyone:
"The Church is Hierarchical" by Schmemann
"The Parish and the Church" by Schmemann
(editor's note: While I commend these wonderful articles to everyone, it is not the case that the issues they seek to address with are the same we are dealing with now. Hardly. Our current turmoil is not the result of anti-clerical or congregationalist attitudes no matter how much you would like to believe that. On the contrary, as the writings of so many here attest, the struggle is against hyper-clericalism that reduces the laity to that of an ATM. Fr. Alexander had much to say about reductionism in all its forms - and opposed it, whether it was overweening laity trying to reduce the legitimate authority of a Bishop or priest; or overweening clerics seeking to ignore the legitimate concerns of their flocks. )
#5 Anonymous on 2008-10-01 11:33
Yes, "The Church is Hierarchical," but without checks and balances, these MEN too can fall into sin. There MUST be a balance between hierarchy and the laos. When the hierarchs or "A" hierarch thinks he or they can do whatever without accountability, we have a problem. Sobornost between laos & hierarchy is imperative.
(editor's note: Well, Anonymous, glad to see we are on the same page: balance, sobornost, accountability, cooperation between laity and hierarchy as each performs their respective ministries in the Church ... Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could make Pittsburgh an example of that?)
#5.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-01 13:24
Balance? Balance in what, Mark? Power? That's not the way it works. Read the articles again. Schmemann unapologetically rejects any type of understanding that would muddle the hierarchical structure of the Church. Yes, everyone should participate, and everyone should cooperate, and everyone should be accountable, from the bishops to the laity - that's the truly Christian way. Everyone should be heard. But at the end of the day, it's the bishops who are charged with leading, and they make the final decisions. That's also the Christian way. But to even intimate that this is not an issue with folks is completely disingenuous. To say that somehow today's situation is not similiar to what he faced is simply to intentionally mislead people. Many of the comments on this blog are a testament to this attitude, where bishops are reduced to nothing but liturgical functionaries, and even that is in question. Throw the New Testament out, throw the Tradition out, "we're Americans, by God!" Schmemann makes it clear, the Church is not a democracy, but we've heard again and again on this forum that the OCA has to be different, unique, because it lives within a democracy. Schmemann blows that argument out of the water.
This has been a problem in the parishes for a long time - parish councils who refuse to acknowledge that the priest is the head of the parish in all aspects of parish life, not just the so-called "spiritual". Now we have the same problem at the national level. Many of those who are pushing for these types of sea changes in the statutes know full-well that they can let many things slide by this weakened Synod, and they're gearing up to take advantage of that. Some of the "accepted" recommendations of the SIC are a case in point.
Don't let the current silence fool anyone. As the OCA ship continues to goes down (and it is), the AAC in Pittsburgh will be a crucial point. If the statutory changes made effect the very structure of the Church, to change it to some kind of wierd, hybrid bicameral system, where the Synod and the MC are equal in authority, it will not be "the end of the beginning", it will be "the continuance of the end". Many people left religions and families behind to become Orthodox, and they're not going to accept a substitute.
Yes, let there be accountability. But let also each one accept and understand and fulfill his or her role with thankgiving and humility.
(Editor's note: No one has proposed any "weird bicameral" system in Pittsburgh? Where do you come up with that stuff? The only two Statute proposals are that the auditors should not be under the control of the people they are auditing which is not a question of "power" -but common sense. The second proposal would have an election replaced by a selection by lot. Proponents see this as having God, rather than the Bishops, choose the next Metropolitan. If that's the way people want to run things, critics argue, why not just put "Yes" and "No" in a cup, have a child draw one out and let God tell us whether to do it or not as well... But "bicameral"? Hardly.
Once again, you are fighting foes that no longer exist, in battles long over, except one wonders, in your parish.)
#5.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-03 06:10
Dear Anonymoys 5.1.1 (why people are so "courageous" in their posts, but so cowardly when it comes to accepting accountability for those same posts by acknowledging their names, is beyond me!!),
Yes, the Church is hierarchical! Yes, Fr Schmemann wrote and preached that! And, YES, he was the first and the loudest to criticize the bishops, especially when they turned out to be bozo bishops!! And, the ones Fr Alexander criticized, and for what he criticized them, seemed insignificant to what THESE bishops NOW have done!!!!! The ones Fr Schmemann was tough with (and, believe me, he WAS tough with them!! I had all of my Liturgical Theology courses with Fr Alexander during the last eighteen months of his life!), as narrow-minded as they were, did NOT engage in absconding of funds, totalitarian intimidation for speaking the truth, gag orders, threats of punishment, defrocking, or removal from parishes, and so forth. They also did NOT give clergy awards to priests who were accused of violating the confidence of the confessional!! They did NOT physically strike people in the sanctuary during the Divine Liturgy, cover up severe alcoholism on the part of their priests, or tonsure convicted sex offenders!! If Fr Schememann was tough with the bishops we had twenty-five years ago, I can just imagine how he would react to the things going on *now*!!
Concerning parish councils and priests: yes, the priest is the spiritual leader of the community, and the spirituality should apply to all aspects of parish life, including the material. However, parish priests, as well as parish council members, should not embrace a perspective where they look upon the other as a natural enemy. I've seen people on both sides of the table begin to dig their heels into the ground before there is even a problem to begin with. The various posts on this website calling for a spirit of conciliarity on the part of all of us in the Church is a good place for us to begin. As Mark Stokoe said, this is not "gossip", but speaking the truth, which our Lord called us all to do!!
#18.104.22.168 David Barrett on 2008-10-05 14:35
No, David. The priest is not simply the "spiritual" leader of the community. He's the head of the community, in all aspects, both spiritual and material. The Parish Council assists him in the administration of the parish.
#22.214.171.124.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-05 17:32
Obviously, you don't read or listen too well at all! I said in my post, "Concerning parish councils and priests: yes, the priest is the spiritual leader of the community, and the spirituality should apply to all aspects of parish life, *including the material*." If you find yourself at a loss to answer a question, please don't use the deflecting tactic of misquoting someone or attributing a quote to them that says the opposite of what they actually stated!! Thank you!
#126.96.36.199.1.1 David Barrett on 2008-10-07 18:03
Dear Anonymous #5,
Father Schmemann also said "...peace and concord in the Church are inseparable from the Truth...No one person embodies the Truth in its fullness, but each one is required to aspire to it, to call upon his spiritual intellect, his will and his heart to come to "the knowledge of the Truth." "Put everything to the test; hold fast what is good," says Paul the Apostle. And if in humility we attempt always to obey the Truth, if we try unceasingly to overcome all which is sinful and narrow for the sake of the Truth, then our controversies born of human weakness may lead to the glory of the Church, "for the strength of Christ is made perfect in weakness." (What is important and what is not, The Word of the Church, Paris, December, 1949.
Translated from Russian by Robert Parent and first published in English in the Holy Trinity Cathedral LIFE, Vol.1. No. 6, February 1994."
#5.2 Carl on 2008-10-01 19:33
Whoever steps into the Metropolitan role probably won't be a long-time Metropolitan. He will be extremely limited in cash, influence, and ability to do much. The Metropolitan will have to be a stabilizer and someone who can re-establish confidence. So, to be overly concerned who steps into this role now as a long-term person may not be warranted. It would be nice to be able to look at one candidate who could solve all the problems of the OCA now, but that person isn't on board yet - maybe in 3-4 years. We are looking at a process which will take 5-10 years. So, the AAC in Pitt. will be the first part of a 10 year process. As long as a well-educated, spiritual leader is chosen who will "serve" and not look to "be served," recovery can begin!
#6 Anonymous on 2008-10-01 11:44
Desparate times calls for extraordinary measures. Could we call on a Bishop outside the OCA to serve as our Metropolitan? Someone like Bishop Basil of Wichita from the Antiochians? If someone like this could not serve in this capacity permanently, maybe they could help us get our house in order for a couple of years
(editor's note: I repeat my earlier comment: No one from the outside can save us. Our Saviour has already come. We just need to listen to Him.)
#6.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-02 06:30
Mark, this one's for you:
I don't think anyone's talking about the OCA being "saved" by anyone outside the present structure of the OCA, save Our Lord Himself. This particular "anonymous" only asks the future Met. to "serve" for help in getting the house in order, which, I think, we all believe needs to be done.
A part of that might be to take a step in the direction of proper canonical order on the continent. His Grace Basil might be away of moving quickly towards the long sought-after unity (notice I said "unity", not one "coming under" the other) between the OCA and the Antiochian Archdiocese.
At any rate, should things move to that second ballot, I think I know where my second vote will go (as it did last time). The name on the first ballot, and the top name on the second has already been touted here enough.
#6.1.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-10-04 09:23
I'm sorry but I had to laugh when I read the order for electing and installing the new metro. My first thought was so where's the white smoke! For people who don't like to be equated with papism the described procedure smacks of Rome from beginning to end - just add the white smoke to your locked conclave. What kills me is that everyone wants to make sure "God" made the choice so we can blame "God" when it didn't work the way we wanted it to. During the Second Vatican Council Rome did give the laity more voice in selecting a bishop but when they realized they had given a sense of real power to the laity they were quick to take it all back.
#7 anon on 2008-10-01 14:18
While I can see why you'd make the connection to Rome, I have a strong hunch that in fact Fr. Thomas Hopko had in mind the election of St. Tikhon of Moscow. I have heard Fr. Tom refer to that election on a number of occasions, and how one hierarch whose name was in the chalice was the strictest (Antony?), and another the most learned, but God chose Tikhon, the "most good" (not "the best").
While an election by lot has disadvantages, I would personally support the proposed amendment. It does give the body of the Church, represented in the Council a voice: it is from the candidates they choose that names will be placed in that chalice. Furthermore, the system has apostolic precedent.
Any system can be manipulated. However, this is not the election of the President of the United States, and I think we can all agree that there is plenty of room for improvement in that system too, owing to developments since the end of the eighteenth century. No, we are the Church, and while we must live in the real world, we must do so in the confidence of our Orthodox Faith. The result of letting go of a bit of control (the use of lots) was the election of St. Tikhon, whose personal sanctity, as well as his endurance under persecution and his leadership in that crisis will remain for all time a powerful example.
There have been two primatial elections in the OCA since the autocephaly was granted, and both primates have come under a cloud. It seems to be that it is time to pray as did the apostles, and the All-Russian Council of 1917, and ultimately "let go, and let God."
#7.1 Mark Harrison on 2008-10-01 20:23
Is this really the way the Holy Spirit operates? Las Vegas might be impressed, but most observers, I fear, will consider it superstitious nonsense or random chance at best. Are we not putting God to the test to relieve us of our own responsibility (hopefully inspired, but not dictated to, by the Holy Spirit) to exercise our God given judgment and conscience to chose our leaders wisely?
If the lottery was being used to select from three well qualified and similarly appropriate individuals to eliminate "campaigning" and the appearance (or reality) of a contest, then it might be justified. But this system assures no such result. The only good thing it does, as I have said before, is curtail the Synod's ability to manipulate the outcome. And it is the Synod, of course, that is primarily responsible for our last two failed Metropolitans.
#7.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-02 13:06
Casting lots is a long-standing Orthodox
practice inherited, as it were, "from
both sides of the family", the Jewish and
the Greek. The use of sortition by the
ancient Hebrews is easily verified by
looking up "lot" in any Old Testament
concordance, and it continued into the
First Century, when the Zealots selected
a new High Priest by lot (Josephus, De Bell.
Jud. IV iii 7-8; Josephus, a believer in
inherited authority, did not approve).
Sortition was also a Greek practice.
Casting lots, not holding elections,
was the normal way of selecting high
officials (with the exception of
army generals) in Athens from the 5th
Century BC on; to guarantee that the
process was unbiased, engineers built
"cleroteria" or automatic random-choice
machines. According to Aristotle, this
was the purest form of democracy (Polit.
In Hellenistic times, the officers of
guilds and middle-class corporations
were usually chosen by lot from a list
of qualified candidates. It has even been
recently suggested that the emphasis in
Acts on the use of lots is a deliberate
rhetorical device aimed at middle-class
readers: "Ah, this group isn't so strange
after all, it follows normal business
procedures to fill leadership vacancies."
Fr. Hopko's excellent proposal is thus a
return to an ancient tradition both secular
and religious, and reflects a commendable
faith in Divine guidance of the Church. Nor
is it fatalistic: the initial poll gives
humans the privilege of acting as God's
colleagues. "The lot is cast into the lap;
but the whole disposing thereof is of the
Lord." -Proverbs 16:34
Norman Hugh Redington
St. Pachomius Library
[Sigh] Reading the entrails of animals is also an ancient Greek practice. Submitting the accused to a trail by ordeal to divine the will of God as to guilt or innocence was a common Medieval judicial procedure. We really need to be more discriminating as to what traditions we are going to continue and embrace.
Your best argument is the Apostolic one--but even here I have to believe the Apostles were choosing from two equally good choices.
#188.8.131.52.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-04 07:54
There have however, been other Orthodox (St. John Maximovitch of San Francisco & Shanghi for example) who thought that out of reverence for Our Lord's passion...lots should NOT be used by us! Just a thought.
"...and for My vesture, they cast lots..."
In His great mercy,
#184.108.40.206.2 Fr. Pius on 2008-10-04 11:40
"And for my vesture, they cast lots."
The apostles not only chose a
replacement for Judas by lot,
but also (according to tradition)
the countries in which they
conducted their evangelical
missions. The lot for Iveria
(now Georgia) fell to the Theotokos,
who did not go there in her earthly
life, but who in a dream comissioned
St. Nina two centuries later to
enlighten the country. Under a
cedar in the royal garden at Mtskheta,
St. Nina found the unrent garment
of Christ, which Elioz the Jew had
purchased from a Roman soldier after
the Passion. "And for my vesture, they
The alternative to selection
by lot (from a list of qualified
candidates) is a political campaign.
We see such campaigns (in this
case launched by private individuals
and not by the candidates) already
The Church of Cyprus has elected
her archbishops semi-democratically for
several centuries. Unfortunately,
the results do not suggest to me
that this system has any tremendous
advantages over sortition. The scandals
of Cyprus (and indeed those of most
Old World churches) certainly equal
anything in the OCA.
Norman Hugh Redington
St. Pachomius Library
#220.127.116.11.2.1 Norman Hugh Redington on 2008-10-05 20:33
I still would suggest that one way to put a stop to ALL this abuse of power and to, at the same time change the entire face of the OCA (including ALL special interests groups)---would be to elect Metropolitan Hilarion of the Church Abroad. I will not bend in this belief...it is a deeply held conviction held by me and many other "little people" in the American Church. But this would take HUMILITY and FAITH...and my thought is that neither of these are in great abundance in the OCA at this point in time (although they were for many years of its history!) which is exactly why we find ourselves in this mess!
In His Holy Name,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#18.104.22.168.2.1.1 Fr. Pius on 2008-10-06 07:39
Last thing we need is a non American. This is an American Church and we need someone who knows America who's been here. We say a lot more when we select from this land rather than having internal fantasiesthat we'll get a Russian bishop so that we can further entrench ourselves in that Russian mentality. The one thing we do not need is to further remove ourselves from the mission we have and that doesn't mean bringing in a Russian bishop from Russia to lead us. Its an admission of defeat, not a move forward.
On a practical level, it ain't going to happen so there's not much reason to contemplate this any further.
It boggles my mind when you have people of quality like Fr. Dahulich that some look outside the American Church for qualified people. Maybe the problem is that people, like those who thirst for an outside bishop, are boxing themselves into the mentality that we must elect a current bishop. Unless we're willing to think outside of the box we're going to be greatly disappointed with whatever current bishop we elect.
#22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2008-10-07 10:50
Dear Fr.Pius,As a ROCOR man of many years,I'd strongly advise against Metropolitan Hilarion.He is North American born,his English therefore is excellent,he is a nice man,BUT he lacks discernment.He doesn't want to hear anything bad about anybody.This is an excellent monastic trait and His Eminence is to be commended for having it,but as a Bishop,one sometimes has to make hard decisions.His Eminence has a reputation of being willing to ordain just about anybody.I'm afraid Kondratick would have been able to manipulate him had he been OCA Metropolitan, just as he did Metropolitans Herman and Theodosius.As it is,I fear ROCOR has its own Kondratick types with their own agendas.That's why I'm steering clear of them at this time.
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-10-09 15:28
To clarify the above statement,what I meant is that Metropolitan Hilarion ,because of his easy-going character,could be manipulated by a Kondratick type.I did not mean to infer that Vladyka Hilarion is guilty of the particular passion that SOME RETIRED OCA hierarchs were accused of.I never saw any evidence of that sort of thing nor even heard of any.
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-09 20:01
I applaud the action of forwarding the SIC report (as recommended) to the NaSsau County District Attourney.
#8 Patty Schellbach on 2008-10-01 16:41
Its a good day in the world that this is finally in the hands of the proper authorities. The only judge they fear is the one in Nassau County.
The sun shines bright today knowing that those ... notably, Rodion S. Kondratick are in the hands of the criminal and justice system now.
#8.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-02 06:20
How are you so sure that the oca didn't put there foot in there mouth ? I believe this will be a long war and RSK isn't going in without ammo. He hasn't had to speak because he owes nothing to the oca , lawyers will do the rest of speaking. I hope the oca has got plenty of money.
#8.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-03 02:09
As I see it, all who had fiduciary responsibility will be held accountable and in the long haul, only the lawyers will get rich. It will be interesting to see both MT and MH interviewed. The big question is will they tell the truth. Kucynda did not! This will be a long, long road with many turns. Stay tuned!
#22.214.171.124 MP on 2008-10-04 06:25
It don't matter. For a good many of us we want to see Rodion S. Kondratick incarcerated. He can go kicking and screaming, we don't care, what we care about is that we get the justice that no one within the Church cares to give. His last insult with the cassock and being behind the altar are truly acts from a man who owes nothing to the church, nothing but his vindictiveness at getting caught. Tsk tsk.
If he is going to take a path of a scorched earth policy it reveals more about his real character which so many of us have seen peeks at.
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2008-10-05 14:22
Patty, Mr. Nescott,
I second your applause that the Sic report has been turned into the proper authorities.
I'm only Sorry that it had to come to this point, but I believe in my heart that 3 years of the exposure of this scandal and many many insightful postings and references to Gods people spoken through the reflections didn't move them towards repentence, nothing more could of been done.
As stated many times before its not the money that's the root of the problem, its the truth being hidden and satins constant behavior ,denial, cover ups, ect. I will add though that I am mad, mad that my family sacraficed a quite significant amount of money, and hard work towards making sure that our charity appeals were being met, and that everytime the Sysosset letter came to my home along with many others we paid special attention to the giving amounts and always gave significant .
No one told us, not one of you that it didn't go into feeding the Beslan children, the widows and the orphans, let along 911~ Katrina.... the list goes on and on...
I do hope that the proper authorities will contact my home for I will speak to them.
God will prevail, and will continue.
Interesting that this report came out on the Holy day of The Protection of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary October 1st. May God protect us all. In Peace. Mrs. Jeanine M. Kozak
#8.2 Anonymous on 2008-10-02 11:07
Some Scattered Thoughts:
First...I guess I'm hopefilled. Granted it took FOREVER for all this to come "into the light"---but once it did, it moved swiftly and that is reason for hope. This HUGE mess will/should assure us that such things will be MUCH harder to repeat in the future and that safeguards will most surely be put in place to help us all to be more vigilant in the future---another cause for hope! Also...reminding myself that GOD in the person of His Holy Spirit is in charge here...and that it is HIS Church (from which the gates of hell shall NOT prevail) is the greatest reason for HOPE.
Second: A short-termed Metropolitan or quickly chosen one??? Well...doesn't matter---again, He is in charge here and His Spirit will prevail (if this isn't true we all need to look for another place to secure our salvation!). And...also it is important to remember that even a short term Metropolitan ministry CAN BE a great grace and blessing to the Church. Some of the great Saints who were primates and presiding bishops had VERY short ministries in the Church---but used their time well and changed the course of history in only a few short years! (Another reason for hope!)
It's all good (as the younger generation says)---and we have before us an incredible number of reasons to be hope-ful (hopefilled) and to be positive! My thanks to Mark and everyone who has had enough FAITH to place their 'lives on the line' and make a REAL difference...and help the Holy Spirit to bring about His will in the midst of the Church.
In His great mercy,
#9 Fr. Pius on 2008-10-02 07:27
The Nassau prosecutors will now teach us whether the state will enforce obligations upon church leadership to spend donated money as advertised when raising it, and otherwise to act according to official agreements.
As the civilized state doesn't let church members put failed leadership on a boat up the Crimea as was done in the old days, its time to see whether our agreed upon procedures are real or defacto donor-bait.
If the courts are going to use church rules to block parishes from leaving, they'd better enforce rules to recover bamboozled money as well.
Re: leadership selection. One brilliant feature of the 'one of three' proposal is as nobody can count on finagling and shenanigans to 'get the top job in a few years', doing more and better locally will become more important. That usually works out for the best anyway, everybody will be happier seeing local results from donated money.
#10 Harry Coin on 2008-10-02 11:18
While I applaud Mr. Nescott's efforts to refer this matter to the civil authorities, I am not holding my breath with respect to any affirmative action by the state. Nor do I think Mr. Nescott is holding his breath. What no one seems to be saying is that we are being "hoisted on our own petard" with our flawed ideology of an unaccountable and an all powerful hierarchy. In our society with its separation of church and state, there will be a great reluctance, and rightly so, by secular authorities to intervene in a situation where the bishops claim absolute authority.
While it may well be that some legal line has been crossed that will bring down the wrath of the state, the odds are against it. We are most likely to be left to stew in our own juice.
#10.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-03 05:05
I agree with you mostly that perhaps Nassau County may not do anything.
But it was still the right thing to do.
The OCA wasn't in this place a few years ago to be able to do such a thing, and it shows the moral courage to hand this over, because apparently it didn't need to be handed over with no "current" criminal activity.
Bravo for just handing it over to Nassau County.!!!The next time anything like this happens again, I am sure all the moral, ethical, and legal precedents that have been set and tested by this recent scandal will be dealt with more swiftly, with greater moral courage and integrity; where we needed to be all along.
#10.1.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-10-04 08:15
And I agree with you--completely.
#10.1.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-04 13:49
Hierarchy and Conciliarity should become inseparable descriptors of ecclesiology. Both are part of the Trinitarian relationships among Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These either/or discussions are unhelpful and reflect lingering medieval notions of power and authority. This should become a both/and discussion. Let's find a better vocabularly to express this Truth and move on from medieval notions of personal relationships.
#11 Name withheld on 2008-10-02 18:53
"move on from medieval notions of personal relationships"?? How "personal" is it when you post your comments, and then sign them, "Name withheld"???
#11.1 David Barrett on 2008-10-03 11:19
What possible difference does it make to know my identity. So you can take a shot at the messenger? This is what the scandalmongers have been doing this for twenty years. The fact is Orthodoxy is rife with old, stale medieval notions of human relationships. We need to start thinking with the brains God gave us, not simply reading about what God did in lives from the past. Let's acknowledge that and start working on these issues.
#11.1.1 Name withheld on 2008-10-04 09:52
OK, I am just trying to inform myself. I'm going to be the lay delegate for my church at the council. which, apparently means I'll have some small say in the election. I've never been one to feel comfortable voting "blind". But whereas in a political election I have the benefit of some names to research, here it's an open field to me. I realize that those "in the know" have some knowledge on which to base their decision, but I don't. I've tried to look up whatever info I can on every bishop around, but that's harder than it should be.
my question then... is there some way to find out the "short list" of folks who have some reasonable expectation of having their names come out on top. whether I use the old system (putting down one name) or the new proposed system (writing down three names), I don't want to "throw away" my vote by not being informed. There are too many people who meet the criteria.. after all, it doesn't have to be a current bishop, or even a priest, it seems. no way I could research them all, and even if I did, and picked someone I liked, no way to know if I'm the only person writing down that name. I don't mind listing someone I genuinely believe in even if I'm the only one.. but it seems a bit of a waste. anf if we have the "three name" system, I could in good concience do both anyway.
#12 Anna on 2008-10-04 07:49
By all means Google "Hilarion Alfeyev" and read about him and read what he has written. I agree with everything he says, and it all comes from a real intellectual. Some of my favorite quotes--relevant to us here today thou not, perhaps, exactly speaking to the main topic of ocanews.org, may be found here: http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/12/1.aspx
Bishop Hilarion, on Silent Prayers
"The active participation of lay people in the Liturgy presupposes the possibility of their responding to the exclamations of the priest and hearing the so-called 'silent' prayers. In contemporary church practice these prayers, as a rule, are read by the priest silently, which creates an additional barrier between the priest and his flock. More importantly, this habit deprives the faithful since the main point of the Liturgy passes them by. I have heard many arguments in favour of the practice of silent prayers, but none has seemed convincing to me. The so-called 'silent' prayers were originally read aloud by the celebrating clergy. I think that in our time the faithful should have the opportunity to hear these prayers in their entirety, not only their concluding subordinate clauses (these signify that the prayers have been read but do not give the least notion of their content: 'That being always guarded by Thy might', 'Singing the triumphant hymn, crying…', 'Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto Thee…'). At least the prayer of the anaphora, which summarizes the essence of the Liturgy, should be read aloud."
Bishop Hilarion, on the Royal Doors
"According to the current practice of the Russian Church, the 'royal doors' remain open only during episcopal services or at other special occasions. When services are conducted by a priest, they are opened only from time to time. In Greek church practice the royal doors remain open during the entire Liturgy, and some churches in Greece do not have them at all, but only a curtain that is drawn shut after services. In this case the Greek practice corresponds better to the tradition of the early Church and the original meaning of the Liturgy. Just as with the reading of the 'silent' prayers, the hiding of the clergy behind massive royal doors does not at all encourage a better understanding of the Liturgy by the faithful. On the contrary, it creates for them a sense of a lack of participation in what is happening in the sanctuary. The impression is that the Liturgy is viewed as something that takes place between the priest and God, in which the congregation plays no active role."
#13 Anonymous on 2008-10-05 10:50
Bishop Ilarion Alfeyev cannot serve us because in England he was the Church of Russia's instrument in suppressing the aspirations of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom's Exarchate to be the Local Orthodox Church in the UK, which is what the OCA is striving to be here.
Clearly Alfeyev does not value the concept of an exarchate becoming a Local Church.
#14 Nina Dimas on 2008-10-05 15:00
Despite my having already declared for +Job, I very much agree with the essay that Fr. Andrew Moore wrote in general about who our next primate should be. When I came to his proposed candidate, I hit a stumbling block because I did not know of Bishop Hilarion. The qualifications that Fr. Andrew listed are certainly impressive. I made a few inquiries and now pose the following questions:
1. When +Hilarion was auxiliary in the Diocese of Sourozh, how well did he do whilst there?
2. Why was he there such a short time?
3. What are +Hilarion’s views on conciliarity?
Maybe some Orthodox from the U.K. can enlighten us.
(editor's note: Wikipedia, under the heading "Russian Orthodox Diocese of Sourozh" has a brief, but rather balanced summary of the events regarding +Hilarion's service in Great Britain in the context of those times. Footnotes and sources are provided.)
#15 Terry C. Peet on 2008-10-05 16:41
Whilst Bishop Hilarion is undoubtedly academically very able and apparently a workaholic, you need to ask relevant questions:
(1) What is the extent of his pastoral experience? Has he ever been a parish priest? What did he do in UK as an assistant bishop that led in a very short time to his diocesan bishop requesting his removal?
(2) What is the extent of his administrative experience? As far as I can make out his current diocese consists of two cathedrals and a handful of small communities, served by ten or so clergy.
(3) What is his attitude to inter-Orthodox relations? His perfomance at the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue meeting in Ravenna indicates that he follows the Moscow line.
(For information I am in UK, but not in the diocese in which Bishop Hilarion served. Watching from the sidelines was a very sad experience.)
Archimandrite Kyril Jenner
#15.1 Archimandrite Kyril Jenner on 2008-10-06 01:27
Having recently moved to the U.S.A. from the U.K. I would like to take up Terry Peet’s offer to give a British perspective. This becomes more urgent having just read some of the distorted and disingenuous comments made regarding the suitability of Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) to be the next Metropolitan of the OCA.
It was a great loss to Orthodoxy in the U.K. to have had the benefit of Bishop Hilarion’s episcopacy for such a short period of time. I have worked for more than twenty years to advance English language Orthodox mission in the U.K. and was looking forward to working with Bishop Hilarion in the formation of new English language Orthodox missions. “Introducing Orthodoxy” days were being planned which abruptly came to a halt with his untimely ejection. Bishop Hilarion was equally concerned to found new parishes for recent Slavic immigrants and English language communities. It is true that his manner could occasionally be abrupt and that he perhaps tried to press for change too quickly. But all this has to be seen against the backdrop of the then “Diocese of Sourozh” which often understood itself to somehow be a unique experience in world Orthodoxy. As Russia once again became free after seventy years of Communist captivity it was inevitable that the Sourozh Diocese could not remain isolated from the currents of wider Church life. To suggest that Bishop Hilarion, by virtue either of his actions or personality, fostered schism in the Diocese, is completely misconceived. It should also be understood that the Diocese was more akin in size to a small parish church in Russia (Approximately six hundred adults in the mid 90’s) and bears no comparison to the contemporary OCA.
As regards Bishop Hilarion’s supposed lack of pastoral and administrative experience a cursory reading of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilarion_Alfeyev#Church_activity should set the record straight. Turning to his views on “inter- Orthodox relations” it should hardly be surprising that he “follows the Moscow line” as that is surely what you should do if sent to a meeting as the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate! He in fact has a very broad and deep experience of inter Orthodox, inter Christian and inter religious dialogue, but understands that unity must be founded on Truth, whilst favouring working together wherever possible.
Is Bishop Hilarion the right Metropolitan for the OCA? God alone knows and will decide. But for all of you who will cast a ballot in this matter please do not be swayed against him on the basis of any controversy he was caught up in the U.K. in 2002 as this started many years before he arrived and is only know perhaps coming to an end.
#15.2 Nicholas Chapman on 2008-10-08 12:47
My last word should be "relevance."
#15.2.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-09 07:35
My concern with electing Bishop Hilarion is that he could only serve after the Holy Synod of Russia releases him from his Episcopal See, no?
I'm sure Moscow values him for his work in expanding the influence of the MP into Western Europe (which I personally see as a bad thing) and thus, I am skeptical that they will release him for any reason.
I especially doubt that Moscow will release him to run the OCA, a church they have sought to undermine, specifically by increasing the presence of MP parishes here in the US. Where would His Grace's loyalties lie?
I am excited by his youth and intellect (I wish there were more youthful, energetic, and thoughtful bishops like him!) but I am concerned about the above issues. Could someone offer an explanation of the logistics? As it stands now, I think Archbishop Job, given his innate understanding of the history of the OCA, would be a better candidate.
St. Andrew's Church, Dix Hills, NY
Student at Syracuse University
#16 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-10-05 18:23
Fr. Andrew Moore made a very valid point when he wrote that the OCA should not have to choose the next Primate based on who caused the least damage to the Church. I hope that before electing the next Metropolitan the AAC delegates will carefully consider the candidates’ character and past records.
As recently as 2002 Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) was involved in an unfortunate conflict in the Great Britain’s diocese of Sourozh, which escalated into the split of that eparchy between two jurisdictions, Moscow and Constantinople. The statements on that matter made by the late Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) can be found here: http://orthodoxnews.evenworks.net/doodad.fcgi?tcode=10&story=hierarchs6122002125334.shtml and here: http://www.metropolit-anthony.orc.ru/letter.htm (I am not sure if the Open Letter of Metropolitan Anthony ever appeared in English but it seems to be worth translating if Bishop Hilarion’s candidacy is to be seriously considered.)
I do not presume to pass any judgment on the character of anyone involved in the Sourozh drama but, in light of Metropolitan Anthony’s account of the events, I hope that Bishop Hilarion is not interested in a bishopric in the OCA. From that account it appears that +Hilarion was not only unable to mediate the cultural clash in the British parishes but exacerbated the divide. To my knowledge, he has never lived in the U.S. and is hardly familiar with the particular challenges for Orthodoxy in this country.
My worry is that we are looking for a cool Metropolitan with impressive credentials to boost the OCA’s prestige rather than a prayerful man of a genuine monastic formation, kind, humble, and controversy free. We need a real shepherd, not a college department chair. Not that achievements like those of Bishop Hilarion are valueless, but they should be of a much lesser significance than a leader’s spiritual worth. In fact, history often shows us that the former are not necessarily an indication of the latter.
#17 Karina Ross on 2008-10-05 19:16
Thanks to all the posters for the questions and insightful information regarding Bishop Hilarion. While I agree with Father Moore's reflection in most respects, and think Bishop Hilarion may have promise for future service, now is not the time.
From a practical standpoint, Archbishop Job remains the only possible candidate untainted, in most respects, by the scandal. His selection, especially on the first ballot, would send a message to the Synod that the past (practice of the Synod) is indeed dead and the OCA is now demanding a more conciliar and spiritual approach to church leadership.
He may not be the perfect choice, but he is the best choice in our current circumstances with the options we realistically face. The delegates should not waste time and their votes on peripheral and unvetted candidates, as this just plays into the hands of the "powers that be."
#18 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-06 05:52
I agree with Mr. Tobin: nominations of peripheral candidates will pull from the necessary two-thirds vote from the people of the Church, allowing the bishops to place anyone else in that position! Given the lack of logic with all of their decisions in recent years, our Church cannot afford to let that happen!!
#18.1 David Barrett on 2008-10-06 07:35
Is it not in the OCA statues that when there is a vacancy of the Met. is it not the first order of business to elect a new Met.? I believe it is and that is the way is must be done in Pittsburg in November. Before any other business is discussed we must first do this! There is no other way around it! We all know what the SIC report says what more is there to discuss...nothing move on people and we must elect a new Met first. ...
(editor's note: You are incorrect as to your facts. Article IV, Section 4 of the Statute, which deals with the election of a Metropolitan, does not specify when during an AAC the election must take place, or at what specific session. It only says that the first ballot be held "without previous discussion of names" - presumably meaning at that AAC alone, since any other interpretation would be ridiculous and unenforceable. Since the AAC will not have any official discussion of names of potential candidates on its agenda before the election, all conditions are fulfilled.
Secondly, many people have not read, heard or discussed the SIC Report yet. The Pre-Conciliar Commission felt this time was well-spent; I will not gainsay them on their judgement. That's what we pay ( well, don't pay) them for. Feel free to skip this session if you think remaining ignorant of the additional facts Bishop Benjamin may discuss during the question period, and what your fellow OCA'ers think, will help you cast a better vote. Myself, I have been doing this for three years, and still have lots of questions I would like answered. I welcome the opportunity.
#18.1.1 OCA Redneck on 2008-10-08 10:58
So why did he leave? Or should I ask, why the "untimely ejection?"
While this bishop has very impressive credentials, temperament and a conciliar attitude are of paramount importance. Your comments do not adequately address these concerns in my opinion.
As for the trials and tribulations of the Russian Church, please explain to me the need to extend its hegemony beyond the boundaries of Russia. It is bad enough that it aligns itself with the Putin dictatorship and seeks to repress all other religious practice in Russia not in line with its agenda. We don't need that kind of witness exported to the rest of the Orthodox World!
Either Orthodox bishops in Eastern Europe, and elsewhere, abandon the outmoded practices (primarily fighting with each other for rank and privilege) of the past and seek to engage the modern world with the witness and energy of the early Apostolic Era, or the churches will be as full as they are now in the rest of Western Europe in another generation. In other words, virtually empty, with Christianity having less and less cultural reliance.
#19 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-10-09 07:33
I think the "untimely ejection" as I previously put it ,was precisely because Bishop Hilarion wanted to bring change to an already existing Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate (not the result of some new kind of Moscovite expansionism as you seem to think) by having it reach out beyond its then existing small confines to unchurched peoples in the U.K. of both British and Slavic origin. In doing that Bishop Hilarion demonstrated considerable cultural awareness and sensitivity. It is often the case that change brings resistance as we would rather muddle along in our comfortable small ghettos then make the sacrifices that are required to conform our culture to Christ and authentic Church life. Bishop Hilarion actively sought to work with others in the U.K. which is ample demonstration of a conciliar attitude.
I am also frankly puzzled by your view of Orthodox Bishops overseas. In the past 25 years I have worshiped in Orthodox Churches in 23 different countries on three continents. I have personally met more than one hundred of these Bishops. Unlike me, some of them are saints, but in the nature of things they do not attract attention to themselves. They live humby and simply serving the needs of the flocks entrusted by God to them. The apostle Paul was reminded "not to speak evil of a ruler of his people (Acts 23v5) and perhaps we need to remember this, particularly at a time when there is clearly much anger and a sense of betrayal in the light of what has become known. After all, "there but for the grace of God go I."
#19.1 Nicholas Chapman on 2008-10-09 15:31
Bishop Hilarion is a star of the first magnitude, equal to Metropolitan Antony, Bishop Kallistos, Fr John Meyendorff and other great orthodox personalities of our age. To have him as a new metropolitan of our church would be of great benefit to everybody. His scholarly credentials are exceptional, and his pastoral experience of more than 20 years is noteworthy. He was a parish priest in Lithuania, a theology professor in Moscow, a doctoral student in Oxford, he has been a church diplomate in Brussels, a diocesan bishop in Vienna and Budapest. He is widely known and highly respected both in Orthodox and ecumenical circles. What else does one need?
Yes, his experience in England was unfortunate. But who at the end split the diocese that had been created by Metropolitan Anthony? Was it Bishop Hilarion or Bishop Basil Osborne? Was it not the latter who pushed the jurisdictional change even during Metropolitan Anthony's lifetime but was able to achieve it only after his death?
I am also sceptical about the election of Archbishop Job. He is close to retirement age. Do we need another elderly leader after +Herman and +Theodosius?
We need a change, a real change. Bishop Hilarion's nomination would open a new page in the life of our church. Whether he will be released by Moscow is another issue, but probably this can be checked beforehand...
(Editor's note: Bishop Job is hardly elderly - he is 62.)
#20 Nancy on 2008-10-10 15:45
I posit the foolowing:
If a Corporation files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection from its' creditors and the and the court approves the plan of reorganization; do the stockholders then retain the management that put them into bankruptcy or do they look for new leadership?
There is a distinct analogy between the above and the OCA. This being the case, it is imperative that the OCA looks to outside leadership, which suggests that we pursue someone such as Bishop Hilarion as our next leader
#21 Anthony Kasmer on 2008-10-13 12:40
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