Wednesday, May 6. 2009
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Oh great, super! Thanks a-lot! Another in a mitre without a seminary education! When does this veil of mediocrity lift!!!???
Do we think so little of the gospel and the Church? Shocking!!
#1 no name on 2009-05-06 20:38
It is wise to note that neither Christ,the Holy Apostles or most of the Saints and Fathers/Mothers of the Church had any seminary education but still managed to pass on the Faith. A seminary education is not neccessarily a requirement for the Episcopacy - more important is a deep spiritual life and an ability to deal with people in love as well as being able to preach the Gospel. My ordaining Bishop, Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, was a much beloved preacher and teacher of the Gospel in UK and in Russia but he never studied at a seminary! He did teach in one though!
(editor's note: While not a "requirement"
(what is is "required" besides no wife and all your anatomy?) the Synod itself has set standards including not a seminary education, not being a recent convert (15 years Orthodox at least) , etc. Moreover, there are considerations of the Statute: the diocesan bishop should be nominated by the Diocesean Assemblies, and " Candidates for the dignity of auxiliary bishop are nominated by the bishop of the diocese in which they are to serve, with the agreement of the Diocesan Council, and are canonically elected by the Holy Synod." So the question is open - Should they be nominated by locum tenens, since there is no Bishop of Alaska? More importantly, is the diocesean Council of Alaska in agreement - or if he is going to be a vicar of the Metropolitan, is the diocesean Council of Washington-New York in agreement? Will they pay for him, or will the OCA? In the latter case, shouldn't the Metropolitan Council be asked instead of the Washington-NY Diocesan Council? In short, the practice of vicars is really being abused, as it is one thing to have an assistant to help an elderly bishop - quite another to turn the episcopacy in to a training ground ala the Roman Catholics, or as a means to circumvent conciliarity to ensure only your friends get elected....)
#1.1 Archpriest Ian on 2009-05-07 09:46
Dear Fr. Ian:
Having been a seasonal visitor to your parish in Florida, I am familier with your good works, and your legacy with Metropolitan Anthony, so this is said with respect.
No need to remark on Christ, for he is God and man perfect. The Apostles had Christ, and they themselves recognized the need for qualified bishops in the early Church As for Metropolitan Anthony - I knew Metropolitan Anthony Fr. Ian, and Fr. Gerasim is no Metropolitan Anthony.
#1.1.1 no name on 2009-05-07 18:40
One of the things that drew me into Orthodoxy was the difference between "knowing" and "knowing about." Western Christianity is supremely good at knowing about. Aside from the still-thriving Catholic monastic tradition, Western Christians are largely shaped by an intellectual approach to their faith, exemplified by Thomas Aquinas for the Catholics, and Jean Calvin for the Protestants, and inculcated in the clergy of the various communions by the all-hallowed seminary education. I immediately fell in love with Orthodoxy once I realized that the East is far more concerned with knowing than with knowing about. intellectual knowledge, head knowledge, has its uses and is not to be despised. It seem obvious to me, though, that heart knowledge, knowing instead of knowing about, is far more important to a shepherd of the the faithful. A man who has served faithfully for years as the abbot of a monastic community and whom has borne great fruit for Christ in that ministry would seem to me to be abundantly qualified to serve as a bishop. They swim in a pretty deep pool at Platina, and do not need to back down to anybody when it comes to intellectual rigor, but their surpassing virtues are humility and love for God and His people. What else do we need from a bishop? Ultimately, though, it's not what you or I think that matters, no name. If the faithful of Alaska find him suitable, it's really none of our business, and I would bet that the faithful in Alaska are more than ready for a humble and loving shepherd, even though he might lack a seminary education. So did St Peter and St John, and they did all right.
(editor's note: It would appear that the faithful in Alaska have nothing to say about who their next bishop is going to be, educated or not. They had not vote in being given the late +Innocent (Gula) and no vote in being given +Nikolai (Soraich) as their last two vicars. And that didn't turn out so badly, did it? I guess the Synod thinks third time is the charm...)
#1.2 Scott Walker on 2009-05-07 11:19
This reply is not so much in response to Mr. Walker as it is to the editor's comment. I am one Alaskan who is willing to express my support here for Father Gerasim, for what it is worth. I am beginning to think that you Mark are taking every bit of news with a grain of salt and maybe you should consider that not every action should be suspected as being done with some secret motive. I know you will say that it is important to have openness, but your quickly penned comments have started to give the impression that you are suspicious of everything going on in the Orthodox Church today. Nothing done by the hierarchy is accepted outright anymore. I am surprised that you don't know Father Gerasim or at least know of him. Your "innocent comment" will have a lot of influence on readers here as you usually speak intelligently and have an open mind. It is unlikely that this blessed abbot will consider accepting a call to Alaska, but I know he loves our state and our church and is extremely dedicated in his veneration of our first Saint, Venerable Herman of Alaska. If the faithful of Alaska are to do the research and make recommendations for a choice of a new bishop please explain to all of us how this is to be done. Do you have any ideas? And if you do is there any reason we should be suspicious of your reasons. Please forgive me for giving the impression that I am angry or somehow feel animosity toward you. I am not and I do not. I have learned a great deal more about our church and its faith since beginning to read on this site. I have thanked you for your work and your dedication before but I didn’t use my name then. Keep up the good work and I pray that at some point you will trust someone.
(editor's note: Thanks, I appreciate your kind words. I have expressed no doubts one way or the other about Fr. Gerasim, who I do not know from Adam. I have simply tried to give people facts, none of which I thought were particularly negative, and all true. What I have questioned is the process by which the nomination seems to be moving forward - that process I do not trust because it is not open, not transparent and not accountable. Have we learned nothing in the last four years? Empirically speaking, the process of vicarage has led to two recent disasters in Alaska. Should one not be a little hesistant the third time out? This is even more clear, when you consider that there is a way to choose bishops that is open, transparent and accountable. Western PA just did it. Why can't Alaska be allowed to do this as well? If not, why not? That is the source of my "mistrust" as you label it. I hope this clarifies things.)
#1.2.1 George Erickson on 2009-05-07 20:54
As is usually the case, Mark has it just right. It is the process that is in question--not necessarily the individual put forward by Metropolitan Jonah, although even in this case there are alarm bells going off that need to be answered.
After years of terrible, and failed, hierarchical leadership has anyone thought to consult the victims of these previous outrages? Of course not, at least so far as we know. I hope the faithful of Alaska will speak out in a loud and clear voice that they want to participate in the selection of their next bishop, and, in fact, will not support another bishop imposed on them by the Synod and Syosset.
Certainly Metropolitan Jonah has the right to suggest episcopal candidates he thinks are worthy of consideration. But it is a huge misstep, especially in this case, not to have the diocese participate in the selection process. It is a mockery of conciliarity and an affront to lay and clerical leadership in Alaska.
Let us hope the Metropolitan, and his advisers, have the wisdom and humility to reconsider this disastrous process.
#126.96.36.199 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-05-08 11:44
Yeah Right. Please Don't budge in like you know it all. If this is not on man this I know will not be the truth, Sorry.
#1.2.2 Anonymous on 2009-05-07 23:44
I have no idea whether or not Fr Gerasim has a seminary education.
But I can say for sure that not every bishop and priest of my acquaintance who has been to seminary is an outstanding success in ministry.
Neither can I say that all the priests and bishops of my acquaintance who were ordained without seminary training are complete failures in ministry.
On balance, were we to look at all the bishops and priests whom we now recognize as saints, we'd find that a very high percentage of them were not MDivs, not graduates of any seminary or theological school, or even 'formally" (as we like to say) educated for the priesthood.
I don't want to appear unappreciative of what our seminaries are theoretically supposed to do, but I've been consistently disappointed by the performance of our seminaries and their graduates when it comes to the fundamentals of orthodox theology. Most of these guys couldn't punch their way out of a paper bag's worth of heterodox objections to orthodoxy; they're robots!
Worse than that, they can't even address their parishioners' questions of why? and how? on very practical issues.
Unthinking piety is a liability to The Church, and that's mostly but not always what I get from 'seminary educated' priests.
They've usually been so beaten down in school that they can't think anymore except to parrot simplistic versions of the 'party line' with no possibility of involving themselves in their people's pain.
They say 'Give it to Christ', be faithful, don't judge people, accept, suffer, be joyful in pain.
I think this is just so much pious piffle.
At the same time, there are 'seminary educated' priests of my acquaintance who are not so limited in their thinking or devoid of divine inspiration in pastoral care, and 'non seminary educated' priests of my acquaintance who are just as good -- or bad.
Remembering that pastoral/theological schools for the clergy are a relatively recent development in our life as The Church, and -- especially -- considering our great disappointments with 'seminary educated' priests and bishops, I think that we might want to relax a bit and not insist on that particularly defined sort of education in the resumes of our prospective bishops.
There are other, deeper, more important, qualifications we ought to consider. And they DO NOT include the notion that candidates for the episcopate must be monks.
Are these men intelligent,altogether educated, literate in theology, loving, good teachers and living exponents of the Faith?
If they are, then let's consider them for the episcopate, seminary or not.
But if they are not, no amount of seminary training will qualify them to be bishops.
(editor's note: The advantages of a seminary education, like a classical education, is that one is more equipped to recognize "pious piffle" when exposed to it.)
#1.3 Monk James on 2009-05-07 16:37
I believe it takes more than "piety" to be a spiritual leader, whether of a parish or of a diocese. The posts on this page have made allusions to those with seminary educations who proved to be less than stellar. There are some instances where this is true. The opposite, though, is even more glaring. Both +Tikhon (Fitzgerald) and +Nikolai (Soraich) didn't have seminary educations!! I believe it would be beyond a stretch to even imply that these two were pious, pastoral, or humble!!! Again, I would not entrust my physical health to a "quack" who lacked an education at a properly accredited medical school. Isn't it even more critical, then, to ensure that our spiritual health is in the hands of qualified, knowledgable leaders??? Think about it!!
Christ is Risen!!! Indeed, He is Risen!!
(editor's note: In fact, Bp Nikolai did graduate from Christ the Saviour Seminary in Johnstown. However, it is not accredited, and makes no pretentions about being on the same level as the three accredited Orthodox seminaries in America.)
#1.3.1 David Barrett on 2009-05-07 18:47
What does the church care about the world's accreditation? Because of the rules governing who is assigned to accreditation committees, if an Orthodox seminary is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (http://www.ats.edu) then it is necessarily accredited by heterodox Christians, Unitarians, outright heretics, Jews, and pagans. Why would we want that?
(Editor's note: Because a) we don't live in the world all by ourselves - but with heterodox, Unitarians, heretics, Jews and pagans; b) it always helps to have an outside eye - witness our recently confirmed need for auditors; c) with accreditation comes the ability to transfer credits to enable study at other institutitions that may be run by heterdox, Unitarians, heretics, Jews or pagans, and d) matching grants and scholarships.)
#188.8.131.52 Matt Karnes on 2009-05-07 20:54
Stuff and nonsense! I must speak. Our great theologians were not "fly by night" scholars. They had (oh, how I hate this word!) "secular" educations in the philosophy and science of the day (St. Paul, St. John, the Cappadocians...). They could hold their ground in the world of ideas, rhetoric, poetics, science, mythology. Because of this, they could speak with "outsiders" as well as, within their time and place, have a broader vision of the world at large. They respected their opponents (unlike so many "orthodox" in America who aren't so much "orthodox" as they are partisan) and met them on common ground. They could do so since they (1) understood the thought of the day and (2) saw Christ as "all in all," being "all things to all men."
Sure, there are a few here and there who don't posess great learning or intellect but who, in the Spirit, have just as broad a vision and understanding. But the average priest is not so gifted; he must go through the paces and take his lumps. We don't need saints for priests.
Also, in this day and age, a certain amount of objective view by the clergy of the realm of "religion" and "religious practice" is necessary if they are toa void the spectre of religious abuse -- a horrid thing not lacking in our churches.
I fear this anti-intellectual bent I'm reading in these postings.
#184.108.40.206.1 Rdr. Tracey on 2009-05-09 14:36
I do not know any of the personalities involved, so I ask pardon for my ignorance. But I would not necessarily assume a hieromonk has no theological training simply because he has never attended seminary.
I am not discounting the advantages of a seminary education; I am simply saying a person who has been a monastic for 25 years may have some very valuable experiences and insights regarding living a life in Christ. And that same person may have received ample theological training as part of his priestly formation. Monasteries have been teaching theology for, oh, about 1,700 years or so.
The process of naming a bishop to the Alaska diocese appears to leave something to be desired. But I recall quite a bit of animus earlier this year over the "news" that the diocese of Western PA was to be folded in to the diocese of Eastern PA. In the end, nothing of the sort happened, and the canonical norms were followed in electing Archimandrite Melchizedek. So when Metropolitan Jonah says he has a candidate for Alaska, it may be premature to assume we know exactly what that means.
(Editor's note: The "news" that was reported was that the Diocese was concerned about being folded, and that discussions about it had taken place. Bishop Tikhon himself confirmed that to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. That the "anschluss" did not take place did not mean the concern, or discussions, were not real; only that the decision went one way and not the other - which we also reported.)
#1.3.2 Morton on 2009-05-11 09:11
After Fr. Herman Podmoshensky was defrocked by ROCOR, Fr. Gerasim Eliel remained with him and joined the Archdiocese of Vasiloupolis. However, it can't truly be said that Fr. Gerasim came to Orthodoxy through HOOM. What is true is that many former members of HOOM/CSB filled out the decimated ranks of the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood after Fr. Herman was defrocked. The vast majority of those monks and nuns who belonged to the brotherhood when it was affiliated with ROCOR did not follow Fr. Herman into Vasiloupolis. Fr. Gerasim and Fr. Damascene Christensen are two notable exceptions.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
(editor's note: Thanks for the clarification, and we have corrected the story.)
It should also be noted that many of those that converted to Orthodoxy through the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery and related groups had little knowledge that they were in an abnormal situation. Their experience of Orthodoxy was the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood and the guidance of then Fr. Herman Podmoshensky.
So, Metropolitan Jonah picks out a "candidate" for bishop of Alaska? Another "mail order bride" for the diocese of Alaska after two horrifically bad "marriages". And if that wasn't bad enough, he goes outside the OCA, into a monastery with a highly questionable past, and picks a man already rejected for bishop in the OCA.
When +Nikolai was finally removed, the Alaskan priests said "NEVER AGAIN!" Let them remember what they said and this time, premptively protect their flock at all costs.
+Jonah's judgment becomes more and more questionable.
#2.2 Deer One on 2009-05-07 14:14
is this why Archbishop Dmitri was so hastily retired? After he said he was not retiring? To remove a NO vote from the SOB's re: Gerasim???
#2.2.1 no name on 2009-05-07 19:12
You have got to be kidding, right?? Hastily retired?? Do you have a clue what you are talking about? To watch +Dimitri serve now is to have your heart broken. His health is fading very fast. At Pasca, he could not process around the church with us and has to have a chair available during liturgy. It was his decision to retire and the last straw was the meeting in March. His health was such that he could not fly up there.
(editor's note: This is sad news indeed. One of the reasons the Bishops are flying to Dallas next week is to honor the Archbishop with a private dinner for his 40 years of service, since he is no longer able to fly. The Synod meeting is just to use the time even more wisely.)
#220.127.116.11 Steve on 2009-05-08 06:12
Metropolitan Jonah -- God grant you many years!
#3 Anonymous on 2009-05-06 21:27
Watch out! Open mouth, insert foot. A bit of temperance with the tongue never hurt anyone.
Just a little advice.
#4 Anon. on 2009-05-06 23:12
I'm pretty sure Fr. Gerasim came into the Church and to the monastery where he now is abbot some years before the Order of Mans converted.
Priest Yousuf Rassam
(editor's note: Please see my reply to Melanie Sakoda's earlier note. Thanks.)
#5 Anonymous on 2009-05-06 23:30
Oh no, we are in the "news" again...
to Abbot Gerasim;
I pray for your continued monastic humility and meekness, may you strive to be what so many of us are unable to see or keep.
Do not overlook those who brought the church to modern days, we, the cradle orthodox are its backbone - to the chagrin of them who prance about the graves of the saints in bright expensive vestments and $13,000 panagias....
We will always be here... just maybe not in their pirouette...
#6 Ted Panamarioff on 2009-05-07 01:03
I respectfully disagree with you Ted. It is not the cradel Orthodox who are the backbone of the Church and it never has been. It is the Orthodox Faithful who share in and live the Life of the Church. The Church exist and will continue to exist regardless of our labels as "Cradel" or "Convert". What we need to do is get on board with the Life of the Church which is Christ and live. When we seek to strengthen, change, reform or be the backbone of the Church then all we have done is put the lIght of Christ under the bushel of our pride. Over the years I have seen and heard of many cradel Orthodox scorn converts just because they are converts and vice-versa. I have seen both the "cradel" and the "converts" committ serious sins, weather it be sexual sins, drunkeness, lieing, drug abuse, theft, gossip, and vanity to name a few. The Church is for our salvation not us for its salvation. The Scriptures tells us that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church which suggest to me that our backbones will never be enough to support the Church.
May we continue in our struggle to be remade in the Image of Christ instead of remaking Christ in our Image.
#6.1 No Name on 2009-05-07 10:36
A good interview over all. The translation may not have been absolutely correct. Regarding the recognition of the OCA as an autocephalous Orthodox Church sheds light on the controlling interest of the Phanar. The OCA is in communion with ALL the canonical Orthodox Churches around the world. De facto, the OCA is recognized and accepted. When the Russian Orthodox Church declared it's autocephaly after the Council of Florence when Constantinople and all the ancient patriarchates fell into heresty, only the Russian/Kievan Orthodox remained faithful to the Truth. It took 141 years and much money before Constantinople would "formally" recognize the ROC as autocephalous, yet Constantinople fell into heresy, not Kiev.
What is wrong with this picture? The Phanar will not formally accept the OCA's autocephaly since in doing so, it would be recognizing that the OCA has primacy of authority in North America. In doing so, all the Orthodox, including the Greeks would be under the OCA's authority. The Phanar has made itself clear that it wants unity in North America, but ONLY under itself. Orthodox Canon Law is clear, foreign bishops (even Patriarchs) have no authority over local churches.
Now, if the Phanar wishes to have a united council of autocephalous Orthodox Churches in June, ignoring the OCA is NOT an acceptable act. To make decisions impacting North America, where canonically the EP has no real authority, presents a myriad of issues!
(editor's note: If you are going to state that the translation is not correct, please have the courtesy to point out where and how it is lacking or in error, so that readers may see your evidence. Thanks.)
#7 Anonymous on 2009-05-07 06:07
It really is time to move to married bishops. Constantly looking under every rock for a celibate with a jaded past is not the way to find leaders of the church. This obsession in thinking that married clerics are somehow not as worthy is anti-Orthodox in it's thinking. Monastics were chosen as bishops for expediency, nothing more.
The OCA will again end up with a Synod of questionable characters with little real education scattering the faithful. When will those in charge wake up?
#8 Anonymous on 2009-05-07 06:15
You all are evil, every thing that anyone does you think you know better. Good luck trying to destroy Christ's church.
#9 You all are evil on 2009-05-07 06:21
Well, that was incoherent. Not to mention logically inconsistent. Take the beginning of this thread. "No name" advanced a position. Archpriest Ian and I disagreed with that position. Our editor then disagreed with both Archpriest Ian and myself. Are you saying that everybody in that dialogue was evil? Based upon what? It can't be the positions taken, because there were opposing positions taken. All I can assume is that, in your narrow world, ANY discussion of these matters is out of line, and those who participate in those discussions are evil. Pity about that totalitarian mind of yours.
#9.1 Scott Walker on 2009-05-07 19:33
Very nice. Met. Jonah and Bp. Benjamin have a bishop for Alaska all picked out. God forbid if we were to ever practice the idea that "priests should elect their bishop"(1) - or even worse, that the laity should have some say in the process. Whatever happened to the Statutory process the Diocese of WPA just completed? When it comes to the episcopacy, there's just too much double-speak for me.
1. (A quote from Met. Jonah's "Episcopacy Primacy and the Mother Churches" )
As for Met. Jonah's determination to be "direct" with the Phanar - if the Dallas speech is an example of Met. Jonah's diplomatic style, perhaps we ought to send him back to school, or get a new representative. His speech was not a "breath of fresh air" as some in the OCA have called it. It has not opened any dialogues. Rather, it has entrenched all parties further into their previously held convictions, and resulted in a rescinded invitation to Istanbul.
Next time he treads into this topic, Met. Jonah should try speaking with some humility, elegance, and substance - not just triumphalist rally cries. Otherwise, we can expect to postpone American unity for another 40 years.
#10 Silenced on 2009-05-07 07:08
While not denigrating Fr. Gerasim in the least, I think it would be wise to recall the posts in this forum from the faithful in Alaska, and what they want for a bishop, i.e. a native Alaskan.
#11 Michael Strelka on 2009-05-07 08:17
ALL of the orthodox Priests and faithful do not want a native bishop. They want a Godly bishop.
#11.1 annon. on 2009-05-07 18:22
Funny, I've never heard anyone up here crying for a native Alaskan (or, what you seem to be saying is, Alaska Native) bishop...they want a decent, God-loving, God-fearing, kind, intelligent, knowledgeable (and yes, Moses, normal!) Orthodox man regardless of where he is currently living or his ethnicity.
Most Alaskan priests, by far, seem to prefer the married life, leaving basically no one up here eligible under the current regs.
#11.2 Deer One on 2009-05-07 19:38
"Funny, I've never heard anyone up here crying for a native Alaskan (or, what you seem to be saying is, Alaska Native) bishop...they want a decent, God-loving, God-fearing, kind, intelligent, knowledgeable (and yes, Moses, normal!) Orthodox man regardless of where he is currently living or his ethnicity."
No argument here, except I do remember posts asking for a Native bishop. But the important point, one which Mark has repeatedly made, is that the people in Alaska currently are being given no voice in deciding on a candidate. And that, my friend, is a big mistake.
#11.2.1 Michael Strelka on 2009-05-08 08:24
The thing that interests me most in this article is the bit at the end about the Mayan's who are seeking to convert. This is really wonderful, glorious news to hear. May God grant our beloved Metropolitan +Jonah and any other Orthodox involved great wisdom in bringing this potentiality to fruition.
#12 Reader Seraphim on 2009-05-07 09:14
Ja'. Jeb'ël ütz! Yes, it is wonderful!
I share the same interest and happiness with you, Reader Seraphim!
lt should be headline news among the Orthodox that there are Mayans who want to into the Church. I wish this were getting more attention, but sadly it is this good news of salvation being overshadowed by more politics.
When His Beatitude visited St. Mary's Orthodox Cathedral last week with the celebration of St. Alexis of Minneapolis (and Wilkes-Barre), I confirmed with him personally that there is such an effort and Guatemala and surrounding areas and that more will be known soon.
I am very happy about this news, and hope to be a part of the work directly. Glory to God! The Mayans have held fast to their sacred Popol Vuj, and their calendar, and by God's grace they will know the One to whom these have pointed, the true "Heart of Heaven".
#12.1 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2009-05-11 20:02
Another correction: I believe it is Guatemala and El Salvador, rather than Nicaragua and El Salvador, where there are those interested in entering the Orthodox Church.
In addition, I believe with Abbot Gerasim's experience and his existant connection with the church in Alaska, as well as his many years of monasticism and connections with Orthodox monasteries, clergy and laity throughout the world, he would be a most excellent Bishop for Alaska. What he may have lacked in 'formal' seminary training is by far made up for through his many faithful years of learning through experience and his patient pastoral care for many here in the USA and in other parts of the world. Axios, on my part!
Unbelieveable; is +Jonah really going to send one of these Platina types to Alaska?!?! Can't we just get a normal person for Bishop for once? We don't need any more cult leaders here thank you very much...We/I will be watching this nonsense very, very closely...Hey Alaska, Get ready for Toll-House-Palooza, coming to a church near you!
Moses the Tlingit
#14 Moses on 2009-05-07 12:52
Anti-semitism in the churches is absurd! Do not these ignorant people know that Our Lord and Savior Jesus of Nazareth, His Holy Mother Mary together with all the Holy Apostles were Jewish!! There is absolutely no place within Christ's Church for anti-semitism or any other form of discrimination! Christ's admonition to 'love thy neighbor as thyself' over-rules all.
#14.1 Archpriest Ian on 2009-05-07 19:18
November 11, 1995
OBITUARY: Metropolitan Ioann
By FELIX CORLEY
Metropolitan Ioann of St Petersburg and Ladoga was the Orthodox bishop Russia's liberals loved to hate. Reactionary and xenophobic, he became almost a caricature of an elderly, crotchety cleric, fulminating against Catholics, Caucasians, Jews, Protestants, Freemasons, foreigners, the Mafia, pedlars of pornography and anyone else he could find to blame for the ills now afflicting the Russian Church and society. But his simple and blunt views struck a chord with many in Russia.
Ioann was born Ivan Snychev in 1927 into a peasant family in the village of Novo-Mayachka, near Kherson in southern Russia. His parents were not particularly religious, although - before the persecution of the Church - they went to church on feast days. Growing up without God, Ivan suffered at the thought that life had no purpose. In spring 1943, in the midst of the Second World War, some devout old women began gathering regularly in a hut in his village. The young Ivan went along to these meetings, which had a deep influence on him, and later claimed to have come to a realisation of faith in August 1943, on the feast day of St Serafim of Sarov.
He was called up by the Soviet army in November 1944, but after a few months was released on grounds of health, and having decided to enter the Church, became sacristan of a church in Buzuluk, near Orenburg. He became a lay brother under the guidance of Bishop Manuil Lemeshevsky of Orenburg, who ordained him deacon in 1946 and priest in 1948.
In September 1948, as Manuil was sent into a second period of internal exile, Ioann entered the Saratov seminary, from which he graduated First Class. From 1951 to 1955 he studied at the Leningrad Theological Academy. In October 1956 - by now a teacher of homiletics at the Minsk seminary - he took up the monastic profession, later becoming an archimandrite (an abbot). In 1957 Bishop Manuil, freed from exile and appointed to the Cheboksary diocese, summoned Ioann to join him and the two of them worked together on gathering material on the history of the Church's dioceses and hierarchs. In 1959 Ioann returned briefly to teach in the Saratov seminary, before returning to parish work when it was closed in Nikita Khrushchev's anti- religious crusade of 1959-64.
Encouraged by Manuil, Ioann finally completed his thesis at the Zagorsk Theological Academy in 1966, on the politically delicate subject of the schisms in the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1920s and 1930s. The thesis, which was made available to foreign scholars by the Moscow Patriarchate in the 1960s, shed light on the intricate disputes within the Church at that time, especially over Patriarch Sergei's controversial 1927 declaration of loyalty to the Soviet regime.
In 1965 Ioann was consecrated bishop of Syzran and assistant bishop of Kuibyshev, in 1969 was appointed bishop, and was upgraded to archbishop in 1976. From 1972 he also headed the Cheboksary diocese. Ioann did all he could as a bishop to resist the restrictions placed on the Church by the Soviet authorities. In one incident he enraged local officials of the Council for Religious Affairs, the government body that controlled religious groups, by adding a cupola to a church without permission. "He demanded it be taken down or demolished," Ioann later recalled, "I told him it was too sturdy for that. His reply was, 'Well, we'll send a tank to shoot it down.' In the end we were allowed to keep it there."
When the present Patriarch Alexy, then Metropolitan of Leningrad, was elected to head the Orthodox Church in June 1990 in the wake of Patriarch Pimen's death, Ioann was appointed to Russia's second most important diocese in his place. Ioann's reputation as a bishop who had resisted state demands helped his appointment. However, Alexy was soon to regret this promotion of Ioann to such a prominent position, as the Metropolitan increasingly voiced his conservative political and religious views in the press and on television and sponsored a range of extreme nationalist publications.
In February 1993 he wrote an article in Sovetskaya Rossiya, a leading conservative paper, warning of a "dirty war" against Russia. He used extensive quotes from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Tsarist-era anti-Semitic fabrication, which alleged that there was a Jewish plot to take over the world. Ioann complained that "alien peoples and creeds were determined to put to death our moral and religious way of life". No sooner had the Russians shaken off a Jewish-Masonic plot in the shape of Marxism-Leninism, Ioann believed, than they were subjected to a new tyranny of criminals, corrupt officials and democrats. In another interview he put forward the argument that the last Tsar, Nicholas II, should be canonised, because he had died as a "ritual victim" of the Jews. He petitioned the mayor of St Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak, to ban foreign missionaries from the city. From his residence on Kamenny Island in St Petersburg, Ioann defended the parliamentary opponents of President Yeltsin in 1993, declaring that they were trying to "save Russia", although he had opposed the 1991 Moscow coup attempt.
While many church figures were privately embarrassed by Ioann's crude views, few stepped forward to criticise him, perhaps mindful that there were many in the country who shared the Metropolitan's disillusion at the poverty, corruption and lawlessness of the new Russia. In January 1993 Patriarch Alexy had quietly issued a directive banning Ioann from publishing his views in the Moscow patriarchate's publications, but feared that if he took further action, Ioann might defect to the Free Orthodox Church, which was closely allied to hard-line nationalists. Others were not so reticent. The rabbi of Moscow, Adolf Shayevich, condemned Ioann's "blatant anti-Semitism", as did the Orthodox priest and parliamentary deputy Gleb Yakunin, who spoke of Ioann's "Fascist ideology".
The post-Soviet era has been difficult for the Russian Orthodox Church, which feels its place at the heart of the Russian nation has been ignored and, at the same time, threatened by well-financed missionaries. But the disagreements between Metropolitan Ioann, an opponent of Communism, later a conservative and anti-Semite, and Patriarch Alexy, who worked closely with the Soviet authorities and the KGB and who is now a liberal, have done little to raise the Church's prestige. Few have savoured the irony.
Ivan Matveyevich Snychev, priest: born Novo-Mayachka, Russia 9 October 1927; ordained deacon with the religious name Ioann 1946, priest 1948; Bishop of Syzran 1965-69; Bishop of Kuibyshev 1969-76, Archbishop 1976- 90; Archbishop of Leningrad / St Petersburg 1990-95; died St Petersburg 2 November 1995.
(I've got a Jewish grandfather, but I've never thought of taking over the world, I guess I missed that meeting of the Elders of Zion!)
Moses the Tlingit with a Jewish Grandfather
#15 Moses on 2009-05-07 13:52
Now, can there be an investigation on or before he comes here to Alaska? Otherwise he might be booted out like our two previous hierarchs. It would be a shame if the priest don't like him, I mean not him but how he will manage the Diocese?
Pray and move forward that we be given a Daddy.
#16 Anaanomoose on 2009-05-07 15:09
Question: If the Serb's don't recognize the OCA's autocephaly, how can they release Gerasim, one of their clerics to the OCA to be a bishop?
#17 no name on 2009-05-07 16:11
You must understand, there is a difference between a "formal" recognition and "recognition." An example of this was the US' attitude in the 1960's - 1970's regarding China. "Formally," the US didn't recognize it's status, but China was recognized.
Remember, the OCA is in communion with all the canonical Orthodox Churches worldwide. De facto, it is recognized by all. The EP's insistence on "formal" recognition is a ridiculous, Byzantine political scheme for control. The EP thinks it's an "Eastern Vatican."
#17.1 Anonymous on 2009-05-08 06:53
They could do so because there is a significant difference between canonicity and autocephaly. The Serbian Church recognises the OCA as canonical, i.e., a legitimate Orthodox jurisdiction, neither heretical nor schismatic, (probably under the same terms as does the Ecumenical Patriarchate, viz., as a subset of the Russian Church). Hence there is no problem issuing a canonical transfer of clergy from one jurisdiction to another.
#17.2 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-05-08 08:30
Metropolitan Jonah: "I think it is time to be direct. We can be politically correct, but we will be buried. Can we afford to play Byzantine political games, in which they simply do not take us into account?"
Interesting to note that on May 5, 2009, Archbishop Demetrios and his delegation paid a visit to Metropolitan Hilarion of the ROCOR in NYC.
Metropolitan Hilarion greeted Archbishop Demetrios with these words:
“We welcome the Chief Orthodox Archpastor of America and the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
It makes me wonder whether the OCA has already been, in Metropolitan Jonah's words, "buried." As far as being able to "afford to play Byzantine political games," this is a true statement. The OCA doesn't even the ante to get into the game.
Is it possible that the MP and the EP have already sealed the deal before the Pan-Orthodox Councils?
See for yourself:
#18 Anonymous on 2009-05-07 16:23
There is no doubt that the MP & EP have had secret talks in how to carve up all the Orthodox worldwide, including North America. In June, they hope to formulate something to this effect. However, ignoring and marginalizing the OCA would be a huge mistake. The EP & MP have a problem called Orthodox Canon Law. Through out it, the theme for ecclesiastical rule is: "Local bishops have direct authority over local churches." The EP & MP's influence in North America is non-canonical as it is according to canon law. So what will they do at the June meeting? Re-write canon law making the EP the Eastern Pope and the MP his attache? The Byzantine politics abounds creating serious concerns about "Papism" within the Phanar!
#18.1 Anonymous on 2009-05-08 05:36
"Local bishops have direct authority over local churches."
This is the rub. The OCA and a few other churches recognize that the OCA is the local church in North America, but not all. Local church does also not necessarily mean that one does not have a ruling bishop living at some distance from your territory and perhaps beyond the boundaries of the country you reside in. For instance, Moscow was the local church over Alaska - even after its sale to the US and half a world away. Antioch was the head of the local church across Persia and into India (and perhaps beyond); Alexandria was over the Church of the Sudan and Ethiopia (and perhaps beyond back when, and today is again into sub-Saharan Africa).
What the canons require (generally; Fr. John Behr points out significant exceptions to this rule) is 'one city, one bishop' and that the bishops all know who is 'first' among them, i.e., the Metropolitan, and beyond him the head of the local Church. If all North America were united under Moscow, the EP, Georgia or Jerusalem, we would still have "local bishops have direct authority over local churches" within that particular local church (i.e., Moscow, the EP, etc.) It is possible that autocephaly or autonomy is an option, too, but Moscow's actions have not yet been fully accepted - and a case has been made (rightly or wrongly, strong or weak) that it was done under Soviet duress rather than as a Spirit-led decision of a Mother Church for the sake of Orthodoxy.
(Editor's note: Excluding, of course, the possibility that it was a spirit led decision for the sake of Orthodoxy done while under Soviet duress? That aside, what is the evidence, other than the fact of Soviet power, that the Moscow Patriarchate did this under duress? Are you implying that all decisions made by the Patriarchate between 1918-1989 are therefore less than legitimate? Big claim.)
You have provided the traditional retort to the position I described. I've got no axe to grind one way or the other, at the end of the day - though I have my preferences.
I think one could point to examples under Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Tsarist rule of the Church making otherwise 'canonical' decisions and 'canonical' actions that were later deemed to have been done for other than Spirit-led reasons and not accepted by the Church, after the fact. There are those that would place the OCA's autocephaly - and not necessarily all aspects of a vision for an Orthodox Church in North America and what that could mean and look like - in a similar category.
Please note that the words "Chief Orthodox Archpastor of America" appear in GOARCH's press release but not in ROCOR's. Did +Hilarion really say what the Greeks say he said? Maybe, but maybe not.
#18.2 Caveat Lector on 2009-05-08 10:40
And let's not forget his ordination by Russia's one-time top Ortho-Nazi Ioann! Pray tell, this Tlingit would love to know exactly what "connection" this person has to the Church in Alaska?!?
Moses the Tlingit
(editor's note: If everyone who was ordained by a nazi, communist, baathist, or some other kind of disreputable ideological sympathizer was called into question,we might be running short of priests overseas one day! We are not Donatists; but concern is real. Should not the apparently unusual circumstances of his ordination be addressed openly and honestly, before he is nominated - and not after?
#19 Moses on 2009-05-07 21:07
Sure, but why this PARTICULAR Russian Metropolitan for ordination? What was it about this Jew-hater that was attrative to Gerasim and some of the other Platina boys? I have heard the "Jew Masons killed the Holy Tsar" nonsense coming out of the mouths (and pens) of many indivuduals....for years, but I get the nagging feeling that alot of people agree with this dribble in private anyway...but oh well...Lions and Tigers, Pedophiles and Nazis, oh my! The Toll-Houses will take care of it all in the end, so don't worry!
p.s. Would someone please tell me when the next meeting of the Elders of Zion is happening? The semester just ended, the long Alaskan days have begun, and I need to get up to speed on taking over the world....
Moses the Tlingit-Zhid
#19.1 Moses on 2009-05-08 13:45
It is interested to know that the visit to his Mothre Church (Moscow Patriarchate) was not without importance to the OCA delegation.
It is with a special interest to note that the Moscow Patriarch is playing an importantant role in trying to save whatever it can be saved from the OCA Metropolitan's Jonah wrongdoings.
Very simple to answer.
It was Patriarch Kirill to have Jonah meeting him in Russia to make a deal for the future, regarding the OCA status among the WORLD ORTHODOXY.
There were coments pro and con, following the immaturity speech if Jonah in Dallas, TX., as posted on the internet without any doubt. Then Jonah's apology during the Holy Week.
In Russia, Kirill and Jonah made some plans on HOW TO TOUCH those Religious Orthodox Leaders offended by Jonah's speech.
The following day of Jonah's wrapped visit to Russia, the Moscow Patriarch Kirill sent to Romania his emisaries: Metropolitan Hilarion (his succesor at the Russian Patriarchate for External Relations), Rev Fr Nicolai Balashos, and Prof. Vladislav Patin, to meet and talk with Romanian Patriarch Daniel Ciobotea.
The meeting took place on Tuesday May 5, 2009, and the Romanian Patriarch was accompanied by: Metropolitan Irineu of Oltenia, Bishop Ciprian, Canon Law Prof. Nicolae V Dura & Alexander Stan, and Fr Michael Tita, Patriarchal Councellor.
There were some important issues on the agenda ... such as apology from Jonah and a possible visit of Jonah in Romania this year, ROEA and OCA Agreement dated 1970 making ROEA part of the OCA, as outdated, current dialog of ROEA and ROAA regarding the unity of both Romanian Dioceses outside of the OCA ... as a Romanian Metropolia.
A crucial subject of discussion was special influence from the sister churches leaders in favor of the OCA, following Jonah's immature speech, and lobby for clarification of the OCA status versus the World Orthodoxy. From Jonah's interview given while in Russia everyone can see how many Orthodox Churches world wide recognize the OCA as Canonical Church. This is very painful for OCA, Metropolitan Jonah, Patriarch Kirill, etc.
Everyone is expecting a press release following the Russian Patriarchate delegation visit in Romania.
Time is critical for the OCA Metropolitan. Without Kirill's protection, the OCA will acomplish nothing on the upcoming orthodox gatherings, prior to the Orthodox Council.
Diplomacy and good theological knowledge of Dogmas, Canons, and Church traditions count a lot.
Let's hope that everyone will learn something from now on, if not up to this time. The Russian patriarch made known his intention to have all three Russian entities (OCA, ROCOR, and Patriarchal parishes) united as soon as possible.
How about the Albanians, Bulgarians, etc part of the OCA ... which do not have any connection to Moscow Patriarchate ... can they say ... Moscow Patriarchate is my / our Mother Church, if they are not Russians?
The game is becoming interested and dangerous. Let's see the cards and how they are going to be played ...
May God bless the Orthodoxy world wide.
A devoted Orthodox Christian ...
Anonimous ... May 8, 2009.
#20 Anonymous on 2009-05-08 00:56
A former ROCOR monk, Gerasim (aka Gordon) Eliel, who served under the GOA-deposed schismatic pedophile “Metropolitan” Pangratios has been ordained by a controversial Russian former Metropolitan who had no authority to do some from any canonical Orthodox bishop is now candidate for Bishop for Alaska. This is the same kind of shell game that was used by HOOM to justify how Pangratios had been ordained after being deposed from the Greek Church for child molestation.
The former HOOM priests in the Sebian diocese also had no formal theological education and they also
have kept up the cone of silence regarding their connection to Vasiloupolis and pedophile Pangratios. In a recent video one of them is less than honest about how he came to be Orthodox; no mention is made of 'metropolitan' Pangratios, Father Herman, 'bishop' Benedict, the diocese of Vasiloupolis or CSB.
Is this same Father Gerasim who assisted Father Herman and 'bishop' Benedict at the Blanco monastery when the HOOM priests went there for their theological education (New Sarov I think they called it) after joining the Vasiloupolis diocese?
There was plenty of information available in the late 1980’s that Pangratios was a deposed child molester. There were many of us who challenged the HOOM leadership about Pangratios and we were attacked for it. We had letters from SCOBA, newspaper articles and other evidence but it did not matter. This was a conscious decision to join a deposed schismatic pedophile and the Platina monastery was part of it at the time.
Metropolitan Jonah as a layman worked for the Vasiloupolis diocese based Platina monastery in publishing “Russky Palomnik” and later as an OCA cleric wrote an article in Again magazine about the HOOM/CSB transition to Orthodoxy. The article had no mention of 'metropolitan' Pangratios, the deposed Father Herman, 'bishop' Benedict or the diocese of Vasiloupolis that was their education and introduction to Orthodoxy.
Monk Gerasim may be an OCA monastic but he is not a suitable candidate for Bishop of Alaska. Thank God Abp. Dmitri declined to endorse his candidacy for the DOS; it is bad enough that Fr. Fester is now DOS Chancellor. The new Metropolitan's leadership choices demonstrate an appalling lack of
May God have mercy on the OCA.
#21 anonymous to prevent retaliation on 2009-05-08 04:45
While the issue of Seminary education is important, it pales in comparison to the issue of the diocese having a true voice in the selection of it chief shepherd.
The practice of sending "vicar" or "auxiliary" bishops to fill in gaps until the cement sets must stop.
Priest Christopher Wojcik
#22 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2009-05-08 07:44
" I would like to mention the desirability that our clerics participate in the church-wide postgraduate education program, which the Patriarch Kyrill assigned to Vladyka Hilarion, Archbishop of Volokalamsk, to establish."
One word, Your Beatitude, GERASIM
#23 no name on 2009-05-08 08:57
It's astonishing to me how many are quick to judge Fr. Gerasim considering that many of the events referenced above took place years (even decades) ago. Fr. Gerasim, if I'm not mistaken, led the Platina Monastery back into the communion of our Orthodox Catholic Church and has guided it with wisdom and humility since. He has always impressed me and my friends and acquaintances (Antiochian, Russian, and American Orthodox) as an extremely wise, humble monk and a capable shepherd of souls. The Alaskan Orthodox Church (or any other for that matter) would be truly blessed to have him as their archpastor!
We forget in all of this that our Holy Synod has not disclosed anything of their discussions about Fr. Gerasim's potential candidacy for the episcopacy. It may be that he will be an auxiliary to our First Hierarch, Vladyka Jonah, or that the Diocese of Alaska will be encouraged to conduct its own search.
The hostility and suspicion to anything coming from our hierarchs, good and godly men consecrated to God's service, continues to astound me.
(Editor's note: I will repeat what I said earlier: the issue is not with Fr. Gerasim per se - too few of us know anything about him, good or bad. The issue is how he is to be selected. We have a system laid out in the Statute for nominating bishops from dioceses - this apparently will not be followed. Bad precedent. The Statute also lays out how a vicar bishop is to be nominated. If, as you speculate, Fr. Gerasim is to be a vicar for the Metropolitan it means he is to be a vicar for the diocese of NY-Washington. Has their Diocesan Council approved him, as the Statute requires? If not, bad precedent. If so, are they going to pay for him? Of will he then be immediately moved to cover Alaska? And again, bad precedent. So once again, it is not who is being nominated - it is how. )
#24 Mark Teusink on 2009-05-08 16:32
Christ is Risen!My brothers and sisters in Christ.As an "older"priest it saddens my heart to read the things that people write about Father Gerasim.If we spent this time in preaching and living the Gospel then the Holy Spirit would do His work,and give us the man for the Bishop of Alaska that we deserve and not the man "we want".There is a process that is in place for that election,let us follow it!Indeed He is Risen!the unworthy priest Dragan Filipovic.
#24.1 Father dragan filipovic on 2009-05-08 20:52
Leave Fr gerasim in his monastery, that's where he belongs, and let the voice of the Orthodox in Alaska be heard regarding who should be their new bishop. Anything less than this is outrageous and unacceptable. Fr Gerasim, like Fr Damascene were both ordained by the metropolitan of Petersburg in a deal done by Fr herman. Typical of the Platina cult in those days. it was shrouded in mystery much like the ordination of Ivlenkov in Australia by the pedophile Pangratios...and all done at herman's direction...and NONE of this has been repented of. When the truth about Pangratios and Herman came out the other players hit the deck and went running to the canoical churches they had so bad mouthed and despised and taught their disciples to spurn...these self appointed "true" Orthodox are a poison to the church and whilst I have nothing against Fr gerasim personally, it is best if he is left alone to quietly continue his monastic life.......leave the poor ALaskans alone....and by the way did I miss something or is not fr Herman still living at one of their monasteries? That man is toitally unrepentant and needs to come clean for the sake of the many souls he led astray, his failure to do so and the failure of the monks and priests who ran from Pangratios when the truth was known also need to come clean with the rest of us.....they are moral cowards and should in no way exercise influence in the church......
#25 Mike on 2009-05-08 16:39
Mike, there is no question that the CSB was arrogant and easily misled by that arrogance and damaged many people, but to call them a poison in the Church is simply untrue. The repentance is there. The feeling that Herman betrayed them is there. What should be done with Herman, execute him, put him out on the streets? He lives in the monastery in the hopes that he will come to repentence.
Many HOOM/CSB folk came to the Church and were accepted by cannonical bishops in the OCA, the Partriarchal Bulgarian Archdiocese, and Serbia. That acceptance included extensive confession. I would have perfered that they not be accepted as priests, but they were. The ones I know personally were quite humbled by what they went through and are working hard to overcome their errors which includes ongoing repentance and instruction from their bishops. Certainly any of the the 'super-Orthodoxy' which they used to teach needs to be rejected and largely has.
We have much more serious things to worry about than any 'poison' from the former HOOM/CSB folks.
#25.1 Michael Bauman on 2009-05-09 17:04
I have seen none of "the repentance is there" that you describe from any of the HOOM/CSB leadership for any of the numerous people who left the HOOM/CSB community when that leadership continued to defend Pangratios. I have received no apologies for the abusive treatment that my family endured when we spoke against Pangratios. Neither have any of the others who left under the same circumstances. Not a word of contrition to the family whose child was molested at the Blanco seminary after the community was encoraged to send our children there. I have seen none of these people take ownership for what they did or express any apology public or private. Instead I have seen a concerted coverup of their past and the cultic mentality continued in their parishes. Certainly there were a lot of good people in the HOOM/CSB communities but a lot of them were silent due in part to the cultic mentality and the HOOM group think. This enabled Pangratios/Benedict in their continuing serial child molestation and the abuses of the HOOM/CSB leadership against any who spoke against the party line. There are several former HOOM members who are now priests in various jurisdictions (including 2 of the individuals who left the HOOM Atlanta community over the Pangratios issue) who have embraced a repudiation of these past events. Unfortunately there are many more (including some of the ringleaders) who continue to hide this past and are not repentant.
#25.1.1 anonymous to prevent retaliation on 2009-05-11 07:42
With all due respect to +Kyrill, and + Bartholomew, their opinions and actions regarding the OCA are irrelevant. Let them say and do as they please, it does not change the fact that we were granted autocephaly. Frankly, so what if Constantinople or anyone else disagrees with the actions the MP took 20-30 years ago - it wasn't their call to make, and now that we have autocephaly, Moscow cannot take it back. The OCA is not going anywhere (unless we mange to destroy ourselves, which God help us, seems to be a distinct possibility if we are not vigilant), let others spout off as they wish, it doesn't change who we are.
#26 A perplexed Canadian on 2009-05-08 17:42
As bad as it is in Antioch right now, the OCA kind of scares me. .....
Then when I hear some of these attitudes about monasticism and the sarcastic and ignorant comments about Toll-Houses and Platina....I have no desire to merge with the OCA. St. Vladimir's Seminary (under the OCA) almost destroyed my faith with their "scholarship" coming from all kinds of non-Orthodox sources and their attitude that "we know better than the Holy Fathers."
Of course, this same stuff exists in the Antiochian Archdiocese, so it is more systemic of a certain non-Patristic spiritual formation which plagues much of Orthodoxy in America. All of this is said while agreeing that the EP thinks it is an Eastern Pope. Where to turn? How about actual formation in the spiritual life -- almost impossible to get these days except in good Orthodox monasteries.
The best thing for many American Orthodox would be an extended trip to Mount Athos to discover real Orthodox spiritual life and faith. In lieu of a trip to Greece, a few weeks at Platina would suffice very well as there is both more truth and love than could ever come from some posting here.
And, as a side note, Saint Ignatius Brianchoninov said that some may not believe in the Toll Houses but they will still have to go through them when they depart this life.
Forgive me for the venting.
#27 Antiochian Priest on 2009-05-09 00:03
Non-Patristic reading material is what scares you? Pedophilia and Anti-Semitism doesn't? This enitre discussion about "it's the process not the person" really astounds me...I often wonder what I am still doing being involved in any of this at any level...Saint Vladimirs isn't the problem, that's for sure...I'll pass on that trip to Mt. Athos or Platina, the way you guys venerate these places is creepy, Orthodox Monasticism has as many problems, inconsistencies, sin, and outright evil HUMANS as anyone amongst the laity, they are just better at hiding it under the guise of piety.
See you all later, and please stay out of Alaska, we don't need any more formerly Protestant settlers telling us what's best for us.
In the Spirit of Father Alexander Men,
#27.1 Moses on 2009-05-09 10:55
Moses — really! Not sure if you will see this, but: which native Alaskans do you propose as your candidates for bishop? Or is it only converts from protestantism that you can’t stomach, because certain protestants abused your people in the past?
To be blunt, this part of your comment seems like simple bigotry to me.
As to your frustration with the discussion — no need to give up here yet. Mark seems to be saying that one does not even need to know about the person to oppose what is happening now. He’s keeping his eye on a single ball, basically. If Fr. Gerasim is indeed to be the only option for Alaska, I imagine that will change.
If you know of any reason why Fr. Gerasim — who led the Platina brotherhood out of their entanglement with the abuser Pangratios — should be considered tainted with perversion, I hope you will share it. Brotherhood members were conditioned to believe that what was said of their "bishop" was an example of the slander sometimes visited on true Orthodox. (Consider St. Nektarios of Pentopolis. He was so persistently accused of violating his nuns that Church authorities forced medical examinations on them.)
At last, the Platina monks investigated and forced themselves to see the light, and they repented. Fr. Gerasim was elected to replace Fr. Herman precisely in order to inaugurate a new day.
It was under the former regime that Fr. Gerasim’s ordination was arranged. Despite Fr. Herman’s personal charisma, there were not too many real bishops who were willing to cooperate with a schismatic. Certainly, if you are going to attribute to every priest outrageous things said by their ordaining bishops, you will have to condemn quite a lot of them, especially in the Diocese of the West.
Fr. Gerasim should give an account of all these things; and, if that is not already planned, I think it will happen if Alaska insists on it. I hope you will be willing to give him such a chance.
Monasticism: You know, all these people that irritate you also go on and on about Christ, but obviously that doesn’t put you off Him. Before you make such broad claims about monasticism, don’t you think it would be right for you to have a corresponding degree of exposure to it?
I’ve been to Athos myself, and there are plenty of sinners there. But the thing is there have also been a lot of miracle-working saints in monasteries — and I mean in the last twenty or so years, so you can confirm what’s said about them by talking with modern people from all walks of life. People tend to notice wonder-workers, and this just doesn’t happen as much outside monasteries. It does happen, but the practical fact is that monks and nuns have more time to focus on God while they do their day-to-day work, if only because they don’t have spouses (as St. Paul pointed out would be the case for the celibate). Some of them (of course) abuse this opportunity, for which they will answer to God.
But why should I defend the institution of monasticism as something valuable? The holy fathers do that for us with striking unanimity. Isn’t it from them that we — “Old World" cradle, formerly protestant, and native Alaskan alike — receive the faith?
#27.1.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-05-10 03:31
Uh...I prefer the Holy Spirit to the spirit of Fr. Alexander Men, thank you.
My brother, you obviously misunderstand the "spiritual formation" I referred. It is a whole life, ethos, experience, not just Patristic "reading material." It's a Patristic way of life which has not been passed down in books but in discipleship. its the difference between Barlaam's scholasticism and St. Gregory Palamas. (And if you didn't get the memo, the Church chose St. Gregory). It also includes authentic and practical repentance with accountability through a spiritual father who has been formed himself in real Orthodox praxis. That tends to minimize the possibility of Pedophilia and other sins -- which everyone should be very concerned about.
Thanks for the heads up about the fact that there are sinful monks. Wow, what a revelation. I think you saved me from my unthinking "veneration" of all monastics and monasteries.
If you want to see Orthodox life without monasticism just check out the Antiochian Archdiocese and you can see the fruits of that. The spiritual life is about an inch deep and the corruption, secularism, and sin under the surface would make your head spin. This is precisely why we don't have monasteries...because monks might object to covering up the sexual misconduct of priests, disregard of fasting or liturgical life, and idolotry in the form of the worship of money, prestige, and power. We don't even have to follow the canons. It's really cool! I think you'd like it. But the Hierarchs who have perpetrated and enabled such sin went to St. Valdimir's and are very "progressive" and "enlightened." They probably even read Patristic reading material. (Sorry, I do follow the teaching of the Holy Fathers who were illumined and deified instead of Protestant German scholars who decided Moses didn't exist, etc.).
You clearly speak about things you do not understand and have not experienced. Have you been to Holy Dormition Monastery in Michigan where the "confessor" Fr. Roman Braga lives? This man is down to earth, exuding humility and full of joy. He actually suffered for the Faith and is well known to be sanctified. Likewise, Fr. Garasim is extremely down-to-earth, "normal," with a great sense of humor...an authentic, well-rounded person. In all my extended visits to Platina I've never experience ONE strange or dysfunctional encounter, no cult-like coersion or guilt.
Maybe, just maybe, if we get rid of those nasty monastics we can recreate the Church in our image. Maybe that's what we really want. Real Orthodoxy is a bit too inconvenient (not that I live real Orthodoxy, but at least I still hold it as the standard).
And finally, I am a CRADLE Orthodox Christian who graduated with honors from seminary -- the most dysfunctional experience of my life.
God bless you!
#27.1.2 Antiochian Priest on 2009-05-10 17:00
You wrote "He lives in the monastery in the hopes that he will come to repentence. " referring to Herman; this is an extraordinary statement...a monk living in a monasteryt who is not repentant! Mind you not just a simple monk but a leader of souls who led them astray, who led them into the hands of a pedophile, who constantly criticised and taught his disciples also to do the same.........I saw first hand the mind control and psychological cruelty he heaped on his monks.......from the little time I spent with Fr gerasim I found him to be fairly sober man, a good man....yet as we know if good men do nothing them tyrants flourish! Witness the appaling spectacle of Fr Damascene's rewrite of Not of this world.....not a word about why the rewrite was necessary...on page 1057 he writes of new research...and removal of unedifying church politics....the simple truth was herman was no longer Damascene's guru, so he changed the text to suit his new masters, who by the way were the very jurisdiction he treated with thinly veiled contempt on his journeys......the Platina group has been a major source of division and self centred pharisaism actively teaching that only they know "True Orthodoxy" whilst all the while they were answerable to nobody.....many, many souls were led astray I am not aware of ANY public repentance by these fanatics for all the times they led souls astray.....as for Herman he should go and live alone away from any monastery until he comes to his senses, squashes his pride and REPENTS and his former disciples should now in PUBLIC call on him to repent. Herman is of the same type as Nikolai Soraich; egotist and self centred lover of power.....they have NO place in the Church with those poisonous attitudes. I for one could support Fr Gerasim but I would want to see sustained clear and unequivocal criticism from him of the errors of the past and the very high price that he and others extracted from unwary souls....anything less is hypocritical self serving....
#28 Mike on 2009-05-10 01:44
I believe the former Fr. Herman lives on property owned by the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery but is not a member of the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery. I was told that he lives in a former Hermitage/Skete on the property and has no monastic or sacramental relationship to the Monastery or the Serbian Diocese that Monastery is a part of.
I believe it an act of good will all around that former Fr. Herman relinquished control of the property he likely owned and/controlled so that his spiritual children could cease their schism from the Church, and to the Brotherhood and their canonical Serbian bishop to not throw an old man out onto the streets in the hope he would repent and out of gratitude for the good he did alongside the bad.
I have long held out the hope that Fr. Herman has in fact repented and been reconciled to the Church already, secretly, out of repentance over his sins and in humility - something we should all pray for. What a saint's story that would be to read in the future! I have no proof this is the case, but I do hope so, for his sake.
I am curious to know what this “we” that you say you are a part of that is sought out by the parents of novices at Platina. Further, I would be quite surprised to discover that Fr. Gerasim has accepted a fifteen-year-old novice; and actually I would say this is an accusation that you need to substantiate. At the least, you need to say in what year this took place — and you really ought to be able to give some specific details about these other novices you know who were told that they would “go to hell” if they left Platina. (Also, I don’t know if you are using “convent” in the obscure sense of “male monastery,“ but if you are referring to a female monastery in Platina, I would like to know its name.)
I have met people who had extended stays there while investigating monastic life, as well as a few of the monks, and this seems incredible to me.
I also do not understand how your claimed expertise on Gnosticism qualifies you to identify cults. For that matter, I would like to know what formal training or peer-reviewed scholarship qualifies you as “an expert on the Gnostic heresy.” If you are such an expert, I am sure you are familiar with the vexed problem of usefully defining Gnosticism — including, as the term historically has, such a multitude of belief systems. Your ostensible colleagues await your solution.
As for me, I'm no expert, but I've seen the case for a connection here and, quite apart from one thinks of the tollhouses as such, I don't see anything that holds water.
Fr. Hopko was generous and brotherly enough to speak at St. Herman’s Monastery on the 20th anniversary of Fr. Seraphim’s repose. He made clear that he disagreed with Fr. Seraphim on important points — I have no doubt that his position on the tollhouses was one of these. Fr. Hopko also spoke frankly, but with pain, about the absence from the event of the (former) Fr. Herman, who remains secluded and in schism.
Surely one need not favor Fr. Gerasim’s election in order to share this open-mindedness and open-heartedness.
#29 Anonymous on 2009-05-10 03:22
My apologies. Evidently I neglected to "sign" my recent comment (#29 in threaded view, beginning "I am curious").
I may as well add, so it'll be a little less confusing, that this comment was written in response to a post that has now been removed (as I am happy to see).
#29.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-05-10 16:29
I've heard things directly from Fr. Gerasim that really trouble me. He once told a groups of us that long and beards are useless and crusty outward signs of "piety" are also useless. What is he talking about? Everybody knows that "except ye have long hair and beards ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven". Oh yeah, and he has probably been reading to much of Mark's post because he had these crazy notions that more transparent and accurate controls should be in place in the OCA to improve accountability and trust. Everyone knows thisrubbish is a guise for .....something....I don't quite know, but I read the bible and the canons and I don't find the words "accountability" and "transparency" anywhere. Fr. Gerasim is a bad choice for Alaska.
(Editor's note: I don't know whether you are being sarcastic of note, but if you haven't found accountability and transparency in the Bible you aren't looking very hard, or reading it very much. Scripture, as the saying goes, is not in the words, but in the understanding.)
#30 Anonymous on 2009-05-11 06:35
being sarcastic, Mark. Fr. Gerasim is a great man. Several of us who met him when he came to the south were very excited at the prospect of him possibly being our bishop. But, alas. I just hope we don't end up with Fr. David Brum, whom I hear is doing a great job in AZ. He's just got way too much baggage, especially his "Brum Doctrine".
#30.1 Anonymous on 2009-05-12 06:23
What do you personally think of the problem of anti-Semitism?
I think this is a question of social psychology. There has to be a category of people who are held responsible for the sins of society. They are the personification of society's own sins.
Instead of admitting that we destroyed our own sacred things, people say that it was Kaganovich who gave the order to destroy the church of Christ the Saviour. If the people hadn't wanted to desecrate it, it wouldn't have mattered who had given the order. They would have killed Kaganovich and saved the church. But the people went and blew up thousands of churches. That means people are to blame. But it's a very difficult thing to admit and so you have to find someone to blame. It's easy to swear at the Jews. A coward will always pick on someone defenceless.
Is it true that, in conservative circles, communists are being identified as Jews?
Yes, but this is artificial because sixty years ago there were many Jews among the Bolsheviks, but my generation does not remember this. I remember the communist authorities being comprised of people of Russian, Ukrainian and Caucasian descent. Kaganovich was the only Jew.
Then the real problem is that the people don't want to admit their responsibility for what took place in this country?
Make a comparative analysis of de-nazification in Germany and de-stalinization here and you'll understand.
-From the last interview with Father Alexander Men just before his murder, 1990.
#31 Moses on 2009-05-15 11:06
if we can't have Father Yakov, our own native monastic, for bishop of alaska for a few years while he prepares himself, can't we at least have gerasim to love us and teach us a little something we lack by example....softening our hearts in Christ Jesus our God.
#32 mary on 2009-05-24 22:53
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