Sunday, October 3. 2010
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If I am not mistaken, this all transpires from one particular accusation many years ago. The incident was investigated and dismissed as a bogus charge. Well, here it is again. I guess it will be good that an "in depth" investigation is done and the issue finally put to rest.
In the words of one falsely accused person proved innocent after many years, "Where do I go to get my reputation back?"
(editor's note: On the contrary, you are mistaken. These allegations, while concerning events some 30 years ago, are not "old", but "new"; and have never been investigated.)
#1 Anonymous on 2010-10-03 20:47
As Mark noted, this matter was never fully investigated. It is tragic what happened to the individuals affected by what happened to the alleged victim over the past 30 years. This is also what makes this so incredibly sickening. The alleged perpetrator buried this and humbly walks away free (at least for now). Certain individuals, including clergy, who were informed of this years ago buried this and went on with their lives. The recent investigators dismissed the allegations because they didn't want to open old wounds. But I ask, "what about the victims?" What about their lives? They lived with this and it destroyed their lives. When is the OCA going to start taking sexual abuse seriously? Has the OCA not learned anything from the Roman Catholic Church?
(Editor's note: Apparently not.)
#1.1 Anon. on 2010-10-06 06:05
#2 Stephen on 2010-10-04 01:59
These allegations resurfaced two years ago. Great that Met Jonah is finally taking action but the fact is he should not have waited for police involvement. This, and other unresolved issues, should have been his priorities as soon as he took office. He and many others knew about this, he should have suspended Seraphim, and they should have conducted their own inquiry. But no, Met Jonah took Bishop Seraphim to Russia instead, which included a visit to a boys orphanage. Leaving people, especially innocent children, at risk is unconscionable. I am starting to believe that the OCA has some sort of collective brain damage because their lack of judgment over and over again defies explanation.
#3 Flannery Day on 2010-10-04 02:05
The statement may be disingenuous, but perhaps under the circumstances that's understandable -- solitude and silence sounds like a reasonable and Christian response to having 30 year old misdeeds come to the fore. At least it beats denial and active smearing of the victim in the press, as has been the approach of other clerics in similar circumstances.
In any case, should this leave turn into retirement, and when the current vacancies are filled, it is quite remarkable how different the face of the Synod will be compared with four years ago. It still remains to be seen whether new will be different -- but perhaps there's some hope?
#4 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-10-04 07:54
Good grief! Tried and judged and sentenced -- all by you, here and now! You guys are incredible.
(Editor's note: You are incorrect. The trial, if ever, is to come; as are judgement and, if necessary, sentencing. What has been reported here are the allegations, which need to be investigated to determine if there is guilt. No more, no less.)
#4.1 Rdr. John on 2010-10-05 09:43
Well, I was not responding to you, the Editor. I was responding to the commentators. I think that's obvious. And I may have misplaced this comment since it doesn't fit Rebecca's comments. While I made that mistake, I still find that many of the commentators respond like dogs to red meat.
(Editor's note: God made us carnivores. )
#4.1.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-06 16:54
You are a graduate of an Orthodox seminary and are in a better position than I to know the official teaching of the Church on the Creation order and meat eating. My reading of the Genesis accounts (and my recollection of what we were taught as young evangelicals) is that meat eating was not part of the created order, and only came in after the Fall.
(Editor's note: I believe the matter is debated by the Fathers. Personally, I would find it hard to call the place "Paradise" if steak were not on the menu. And again, if all one could eat was roots and berries, that apple would be mighty tempting, knowledge of good and evil aside....)
#126.96.36.199 Fr. George Washburn on 2010-10-07 08:20
All one has to do is look at the way human teeth have evolved (by God's design) to see that humanity was always meant to eat meat. Since no other animal than humanity was made over in the Image of God, death is not the same for them as for us. (And no - that's not a license to exploit creation.)
Besides, in the sixth Matins Gospel we read that Christ - in His resurrected and glorified body! - ate a piece of fish. What's fine for the resurrected Christ is fine for me!
In YHWH Made Flesh who ate flesh, Christ our God,
(editor's note: LOL.)
erm...perhaps you meant, the Fall has made us carnivores?
I personally am not a vegetarian....
On another note, Mark, is there any chance of you opening a separate page for the recurring discussions about married bishops? It seems to turn up all the time, and the main subject under discussion can get lost among the volume of comments, even though it is a related topic....
#188.8.131.52 Donna Farley on 2010-10-07 09:42
Disingenuous or not, it comes as a great disappointment to the Canadian flock to have this letter imply the leave is merely a medical one, only to find out from OCA.org that in fact there is a police investigation. What we need to hear is a total denial of the allegations, and this we have not had as yet...perhaps due to legal advice received by Arch. Seraphim.
A clarification, please, Mark-- in your report you said "....the OCA did not elaborate on the charges that have been leveled against the 66-year old hierarch...."
Is 'charges' perhaps not the correct word here? I understood that at this point there are only allegations meriting an investigation, but that as of yet no actual criminal charges have been laid? Without speculating on the facts either way yet, it is an important distinction. If there is enough evidence found by the investigation so that charges are in fact laid, either the accused will confess or he will go to trial, where he will either be acquitted or convicted. Even if convicted, there is the possibility of an appeal.
If there is not enough evidence for the police to lay actual charges...it will perhaps place an even greater burden on the OCA to do its own investigation and do the right thing-- either unequivocally clear Arch. Seraphim, or discipline him and deal with the victims appropriately.
#4.2 AnonCanadian on 2010-10-05 12:27
"Charges" is not just a legal term, and is entirely appropriate in this context. Note that the OCA statement did NOT say "charges have been filed", which would have implied a legal proceeding or "criminal charges have been filed" which would have been explicitly. "Allegations" and "charges" without the qualifier "criminal" are essentially synonymous.
#4.2.1 John Congdon on 2010-10-07 06:40
Regardless of what the dictionary or popular usage permits, in this context it is confusing and inappropriate to use the term 'charges' interchangeably with 'allegations'. All synonyms may be lawful, but not all are profitable, to paraphrase St. Paul.
If two parties were having an argument in a social context, describing one as 'charging' the other with some offence might be appropriate.
But when the police are involved in investigating allegations of criminal wrongdoing in a specific case, it is easy for the casual reader to assume 'charges' means criminal charges which are going to be dealt with in court. 'Allegations' only mean that someone has told the police something happened to them. In response, in the current case, the police have opened an investigation.
The mainstream media (in Canada at least) are careful NOT to use the word 'charges' as a synonym for 'allegations' in such a context, and in covering this particular story they have actually been further clarifying the facts by adding the information that "Storheim has not
been charge with any offence."
There will be plenty of time to use the word 'charges' when the police conclude their investigation. Then we will no doubt hear from them that either 'no charges' are to be laid, or that the subject of their investigation is 'charged with' a specific criminal offence.
Meanwhile, all sides are better served in the present discussion by clarity of language.
#184.108.40.206 Donna Farley on 2010-10-07 09:20
All very well put; thank you, and I agree entirely.
#220.127.116.11.1 John Congdon on 2010-10-07 13:12
What a sad situation. I just hope that the investigation process turns out fair and correct for everyone involved, and that the Orthodox Church is not dragged through the mud in the media.
#5 Anonymous on 2010-10-04 08:08
Archbishop Seraphim is an incredibly kind-hearted individual but that doesn't mean that he couldn't have done something inappropriate 30 years ago.
These allegations were brought forth at the All-American Council and that is exactly why Archbishop Seraphim withdrew his name. There were requests to investigate the matter at that time which got blown off by the chancellor and others. The answers given as to why no investigation was done was that no one was willing to come forward and testify. So it would seem that either the Canadian police now have someone willing to testify on the record or that there really was enough information two years ago that simply wasn't investigated.
If this goes forward, and if it turns out that something did occur which was inappropriate and the information was readily available simply for the asking two years ago, I hope and pray that those who were supposed to do an investigation two years ago and didn't are defrocked as well.
It saddens me to even write this, but it doesn't appear that Syosset has learned a whole heck of a lot from the past. Koumentakos investigation - botched job that obviously was not resolved completely. Archbishop Seraphim investigation -never completed and has now reared its ugly head again. Any more little ugly secrets that the OCA is now going to have spend legal fees on? And what about the souls of the individuals affected by not dealing swiftly and effectively the FIRST time an allegation is raised? It's just sickening.
#6 Anon. Historian on 2010-10-04 13:03
I have two questions- When you say that "these allegations were brought forth at the All American Council and that is exactly why Bishop Seraphim withdrew his name". Do you mean the last All American Council in which Jonah was chosen as our new Metropolitan?
Also in your statement "There were requests to investigate that matter at that time which got blown off by the chancellor and others". Are you speaking of the Canadian or American Chancellor?
Just trying to wrap my head around what you are saying.
(Editor's note: The allegations against the Archbishop, according to sources familiar with the story, re-emerged some months before the 2008 AAC at which Metropolitan Jonah was elected. As for what the OCA and Canadian Archdiocesean Chancellors knew, and when they knew it, that is a question best answered by them.)
#6.1 A Principled Canadian on 2010-10-04 22:18
Based on an email made public by Pokrov, prior to recent events "we [the OCA] only have the claim of one individual who asserts that he knows about such allegations, but not the facts which would put into motion the necessary investigation."
(Just for the record, my citing something they published does not
mean I think Pokrov to be a reliable source.)
There is no proof whatsoever that the OCA had any more information than the claim of this one person to be aware of allegations made by others, whose identities were not made available to the OCA. The OCA asked for more information, and did not receive it. They didn't investigate because they had nothing to investigate. Where does one go from there? Hire a private investigator who has a time machine to go follow the archbishop during the times the crimes were said to be committed?
(Editor's note: Rubbish. It was rubbish when first asserted two years ago, and the garbage smells no better for having festered for two years. There was no desire to open a can of worms, which this certainly is. And so every possible excuse, including the above has been made. The Church is in the repentence and forgiveness business, not the excuse business. Because if that is all one can expect from the Church, excuses, I can hear all of those, and better ones, from a 12 year old anyday. One can only hope the OCA investigation makes a complete accounting of what went wrong in this instance, and corrects it by policy revisions, quickly.)
#6.1.1 Cordelia on 2010-10-06 22:48
What reason is there to think Fr. Alexander, et al., were lying about having no more information? Is it possible that, for once, there isn't a grand conspiracy in the OCA?
Although I don't discount the possibility that he could be a very sick and unrepentant child-molesting person underneath it all, I would ask others not to discount the possibility that this is a huge misunderstanding or that the archbishop could be innocent altogether.
(Editor's note: It is not a misunderstanding. The police will conclude their investigation, we hope, and then either charges will be filed, or the case dropped. If charges are filed, the Archbishop will be found guilty or not guilty. If charges are not filed, the alleged victims have the option of filing civil lawsuits, where a lower standard is required than in criminal cases. No matter what happens, we are in for a long ride....)
#18.104.22.168 Cordelia on 2010-10-14 12:16
Okay- so I'll dive in. Thank you for replying to my question Mark, but I was actually asking the person who posted the comment. He/She seems to possess some knowledge of which Chancellor (Canadian or American) was there when he/she wrote "There were requests to investigate that matter at that time which got blown off by the chancellor and others".
I would like to speak about the role of the Chancellor. I was surprised and disappointed when, after the SIC report surfaced and all the recommendations were made on how to improve things in the OCA so incidents like the financial scandal would not be able to happen again- there was absolutely no review of the role of the Chancellor.
We all know how Bishops come to be...but what about the Chancellor? This seems to be a role that bears some importance and if the past is any indication, is a role rife with corruption, or at least the opportunity to be corrupt. It seems to me that everything that goes to the Bishop "needs" to go through the Chancellor first. Why?
Why has the role of the Chancellor never been reviewed? This floors me. All the money stolen, cheques written, indiscreet meetings arranged...so out goes the man, but no review for the position. Why? Maybe the Bishop should not be allowed to appoint who he wants. Why can't the Chancellor be elected instead of appointed? Why can't the Chancellor have a term,1 or 2 years at the most? We often rotate members of parish council to get fresh ideas, new blood-why doesn't the role of Chancellor have this stipulation as well?
In Canada, I agree with a fellow "postee" that says the Chancellor here is more feared than loved and many do not want him to become a Bishop. So true! How did Chancellor's get to have such control, such power? Why is this allowed? Why is it assumed that a Chancellor would make a good Bishop? That is like saying a legal assistant would make a good lawyer.
One of my favorite stories is about our Chancellor here in Canada going to visit a small country parish. When someone addressed him as simply "Father" and not Chancellor he corrected him. The old farmer replied simply.. "yeah well I'm Chancellor of my farm too!". Priceless.
Are Chancellors here to SERVE God? Are you here to HELP the Bishop? Or are you just preparing to be the "Big Cheese" one day and practicing by playing "Little Bishop". This is absurd. Get rid of the role of Chancellor. Give the Bishop and Administrative Assistant- Pay her/him a decent salary and offer her respect for keeping a busy leader organized. I, for one, am one person who is very tired of the lack of integrity and humbleness shown by many of our leaders- Bishops AND Chancellors included!
#6.1.2 A Principled Canadian on 2010-10-07 18:13
I have to agree with APC, above, for his/her comments about the role of the Chancellor and specifically about our Canadian Chancellor.
The Canadian Chancellor AND the Protodeacon/Episcopal Secretary are not only the first two filters to Bishop Irinee during +Seraphim's leave, but in a very "interesting" turn of events they are also the two Canadian members of the Metropolitan Council (Protodeacons are LAY members) as of the last Canadian Archdiocesan Council Meeting (Sept 30/Oct 1). This does not sit well. Their focus, in +Seraphim's absence, should only be the Canadian Archdiocese*. To have them on the MC as well is not healthy.
The Cathedral in Ottawa has returned to medieval times since the arrivals of the Chancellor and Protodeacon (i.e. 'priest' prayers are no longer said aloud; weird liturgical practices pop up on a regular basis; people are not prayed for by name during the Augmented Litany), and the whole atmosphere is one of liturgical hierarchy, rather than humble spirituality. I am not the only one who is worried about where this is all going to lead, if the Chancellor is elected Bishop at some point in the (near?) future.
Another Principled Canadian
*and I wish it wasn't left in their hands at all. While it appears to be the logical way of doing things, their personal agendas will filter what they say to Bishop Irinee (who so far appears to a humble and prayerful bishop).
#22.214.171.124 Another Principled Canadian on 2010-10-08 10:38
I completely agree with your perspective. It was my understanding that the position of Chancellor was put in place when the Orthodox Bishop did not speak English, perhaps this is incorrect. But if it is correct, then why is a Chancellor necessary. It seems as though another layer of administration or a "barrier" to the Bishop was put in place.
#126.96.36.199 anonymous on 2010-10-08 10:49
I have a very, very hard time believing Fr. Alexander would say that. Have you even met him?
#188.8.131.52 anonymous on 2010-11-02 12:38
In posting number 69, on October 7, "A Principled Canadian" tells a story and reports opinions about the Chancellor of our diocese which (forgive me) I simply do not believe. Anonymous postings of unpleasant accusations is not "principled." Please think again.
I base my statement on my experiences of seeing the Chancellor at work at Assemblies and Council meetings over the past ten years, and working with him as a volunteer in the Annunciation Cathedral office for the past year.
(Editor's note: I totally agree in principle - except in cases where the reason cited for anonymity is fear and retribution. How are concerns to be heard then? Therefore I think the best and most effective counter is exactly what you have done - people willing to sign their names offering an alternative perspective.)
#6.1.3 Jane Szepesi on 2010-10-08 06:14
Jane, thank you for your reply. As the Editor states, I must remain anonymous out of fear and retribution (so sad, but true).
I too base my statements on direct experiences with the Chancellor over a number of years. My opinion, of him, although unpleasant to you, is honest to me. The one "story" of the Chancellor and the farmer is, to me, rather amusing and telling. I did not think of it as unpleasant as even now, when I recall it, I still get a chuckle.
As for unpleasant stories about our Chancellor, sadly, I have many but I will not relay them here. My opinion of him, like yours, is formed over many years of experiences. I have no respect for him and frankly, if he were to become our Bishop I, and I suspect many others, would be hard pressed to remain in the OCA.
If you reread my post, as I just did, I am really speaking about the role of the Chancellor in our Diocese and in the OCA in general. As I stated earlier, I am floored that the role of the Chancellor was never reviewed when the SIC report recommendations came out. This is long overdue. And as the past has proved, the Chancellor has wielded power seemingly without consequence to nothing but the detriment of the Church.
#184.108.40.206 A Principled Canadian on 2010-10-08 17:02
Yes, many more "ugly little secrets." And they'll be brought out at the Last Judgment. Mine and yours. Lord, have mercy on us all.
#6.2 Rdr. John on 2010-10-05 09:47
Let's assume for the sake of argument that the charges of sexual misconduct are true. Yet another member of our so-called celibate clergy, in the episcopate no less, will stand exposed as a hypocrite and deceiver of the Faithful. What is going on? How can those guilty of such duplicity live with themselves and rationalize their behavior?
Many will say that it is simply a statement on human nature and our fallen state, which, no doubt, is to some extent true. But there is something especially galling about those who piously exhort others to a stringent, and sometimes outdated, sexual morality practicing the very opposite of what they preach. Using celibacy as a magic cloak of invisibility to hide a desire and predilection for the forbidden fruits of sexuality, they operate on a different moral plane from the rest of us mere mortals. It has a Gnostic ring to it doesn't it? Or maybe it is just the inevitable consequence of unbridled and unadulterated clericalism?
#7 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-10-04 13:08
The Orthodox monastic ideal has not been tested within the OCA and found wanting. It has been found too difficult and left untested.
(To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton)
#7.1 Yianni on 2010-10-04 14:57
Kenneth, would you mind giving an example or two of what exactly this "...stringent, and sometimes outdated, sexual morality..." is which you have in mind?
#7.2 Subdeacon Steven Owens on 2010-10-05 17:34
First and foremost is the notion, still widely held in many circles, that sexual activity is only moral in a procreative context. Once one jettisons this silly stricture, a whole range of different approaches to sexual morality becomes possible, including the permissibility of contraception and family planning, which most of us take for granted despite the ravings of the lunatic fringe. A more humane and tolerant view of homosexuality also begins to make sense.
It might also be possible to view "celibacy" as a positive lifestyle choice for some rather than some superior moral state for the elect. Rather than focusing on all the negative aspects of sexuality, which the Church to its shame has done for control and manipulative purposes for generations, a more positive and affirming role for sex in human relations could become the norm, and not the exception.
One can only hope.
#7.2.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-10-07 16:42
I wish this page were set up with the same sort of "Like" button that Facebook has... I'd push it for your post. I wish more Orthodox could see that the unitive function of sexual relations is equally as important as the procreative, and that an Orthodox marriage is good and fulfilling when the former is lived even when the latter is not, whether by necessity or by choice.
Aside from also praying with you that "a more positive and affirming role for sex in human relations could become the norm, and not the exception", I have to wonder to just what extent the Church's - not God's! - negative view of sexuality influences the way clerical abusers often act out their power-control psychoses.
In YHWH Made Flesh sanctifying flesh, Christ our God,
The KRT protests too much, methinks.
#220.127.116.11 Yianni on 2010-10-10 11:48
The duplicity is not exclusive to the dreaded class of Celibates (who, as we know, eat babies and drink the blood of male virgins). The all-honorable and perfect Married Clergy have been known to engage in the very same behaviour when cheating on their wives or sexually abusing those in their charge.
(Editor's note: They eat babies? Really? But I know you are kidding about the blood of male virgins. There are no male virgins. )
#7.3 ejv on 2010-10-06 17:23
Kenneth, let's assume for a moment, the charges are false ... (you should always give yourself a chance to see the other side of the coin)
For the life of me, all I can think is, that this is sad, so very sad, on so many levels. I don't know if the allegations are true or not, but it's just sad.
#8 Sean O'Clare on 2010-10-04 14:42
How's about Metropolitan Jonah stepping up to the plate and publicly addressing the issues? What safeguards are in place in the OCA to keep my children away pedophile priests, deacons, bishops and metropolitans? What did he do two years ago when the allegations were first brought up? Why did he choose not to call an investigation? Two years ago, the administration was completely new. They have only themselves to blame if it turns out that any of the Canadian investigation against +Seraphim turns out to be true.
#9 Anon. on 2010-10-04 16:22
I have to say, I have a really hard time with a posting that begins, "Let's assume the charges are true." That's exactly how people get smeared in the first place. Perhaps we could not assume anything. Or, if we have to assume, perhaps we could follow both Canadian and US legal principles and assume he's innocent until etc.
No, Metropolitan Jonah should not speak publicly at all about any ongoing legal investigation. It would risk prejudicing any subsequent legal case.
+Seraphim has given many, many years of service to the church. Whatever the outcome of all this, could we please try to act according to our beliefs? It is much too premature to start using the language of betrayal. Unless I missed some of the salient details?
(Editor's note: The major Canadian newspapers have added many of those details, which may explain why many are angry at the event unfolds.)
#9.1 Morton on 2010-10-05 12:18
It is my professional understanding that everyone in Canada who works with members of the 'vulnerable sector' (eg children, the elderly, disabled or shut-ins), either as staff or as a volunteer, is expected to participate in a "Vulnerable Sector Screening Program – Police Reference Checks” and to receive annual training (or refresher training) in Safe Ministy Practices. In most non-Orthodox churches that I know of, this is mandatory, no longer optional. As leader of a flock which contains many vulnerable people, I wonder if Archbishop Seraphim set the example for his parishioners by participating himself in such a training program and by mandating it in all OCA parishes under his jurisdiction. Would there be any reason why a bishop, or any cleric for that matter should be exempt from this practice? Safe Ministry Practices provide no guarantee that nothing inappropriate will happen to an innocent person or that unfair accusations will not be made against a staff or volunteer, They are designed to protect both sides - and at the moment, they are the Best Ministry Practice option that we have, if our children, our disabled and our isolated Seniors are to be kept as safe as possible. Surely showing leadership in this area would be best practice for all of our Sheperds.
#9.2 Anonymous on 2010-10-06 15:10
First I've heard about annual training or refresher training. The requirements may differ from province to province. The record checks are certainly standard for our Orthodox camps.
#9.2.1 Donna Farley on 2010-10-07 09:37
I am absolutely heart-broken by this matter. I feel deeply saddened, almost to the point of depression. I have known only love and joy from His Eminence since I assisted at a wedding when he was a priest a long time ago. It all seems too, too much.
#10 Archpriest John T. Bacon on 2010-10-04 17:59
As a Christian and as a Canadian this is heartbreaking. Let's hope the truth will come out now after all these years. It is upsetting to know this was apparently known about a few years ago, but nothing happened.
Bishop Seraphim's letter named three people to be left in charge during his Leave of absense, the Chancellor being one of them. I noticed that in the announcement from the OCA the next day, they only named the Auxiliary Bishop to be in charge of the affairs of the diocese...I hope this was thoughtfully done based on some knowledge that things are not good in Canada on that front either, but that may be hoping for too much.
#11 Saddened and Concerned on 2010-10-04 21:04
There are a number of people who are glad that Syosset named only Bishop Irenee. The chancellor is more feared than loved and many do not want him to become a bishop.
#11.1 Also Saddened on 2010-10-05 10:58
Rather than "some knowledge that things are not good in Canada on that front either", this might just as easily be a slip of the keyboard on the part of whoever wrote the OCA.org news release-- perhaps Bishop Irenee is the 'Episcopal Administrator', who presumably will temporarily fill HE Seraphim's spot on the Holy Synod at this time and do any other episcopal functions, while the mail is answered by the secretary Protodeacon and the Chancellor continues with his already not inconsiderable administrative duties.
Or perhaps it's just unreflective hierarchicalism, forgetting about anyone who is not a bishop. Hopefully not.
#11.2 AnonCanadian on 2010-10-05 12:39
My first reaction reading this story was a frown, followed by a sigh, and a final feeling of utter disappointment. I hate to convict the guy, but resignation has implications. Innocent people don't just stop their work for accusations.
One of my greatest disappointments with our faith is that we are not taught tolerance of homosexuality. Not accepting it for a way of life for ourselves and utter intolerance are easy to be seen as inclusive, but are not.
I am hoping Metropolitan Jonah will do something in his time in the OCA to reconcile some of these things. Whether it be the thing that bugs me, or just simply making clergy know that they must be forthcoming about errors in their past that may haunt them.
Our faith must work for more than 'signing the waiver'.
Integrity from clerics is really important or everything they say becomes bs. I feel I've already witnessed a lack of integrity by the Metropolitan re the 10th AAC. I think KRT says it well, although I don't agree with his post entirely.
Clerics must not be deceivers, or Christ is a sham.
#12 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-10-04 21:14
"Clerics must not be deceivers, or Christ is a sham."
Please...it does not come down to that at all!! Clerics are just people...Jesus Christ is God, Lord, Savior of all who believe in Him and do His will!! Jesus warned us about the Pharisees and Sadducees...religious leaders. He said... "Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do." (Matt 23:1-5)
#12.1 Helen O'Sullivan on 2010-10-05 14:42
The wolves have been in charge of the henhouse for so long it takes time for these disclosures to gain a voice.
#13 anon on 2010-10-04 22:36
Here once again life makes it full circle.
I have many, many vivid memories of Archbishop Seraphim, none of them particularly favorable and I would like to share some of them with you all now.
I was present in Ottawa almost thirty years ago, perhaps more, when then the then Monk Seraphim was introduced to members of a now-closed parish by the late John Scratch and the still-living John Tkachuk as the "replacement" for Archbishop Sylvester. Archbishop Sylvester sat in one corner of this meeting, doing his knitting, yes, doing his knitting. His entire ordination and archbishop status was in the hands of that crowd....
Years later, I had returned to China at that point, I was deeply saddened by his horrific involvement in the events surrounding the late and very beloved Archbishop Job. He should have been investigated for those actions and defrocked. IMHO, like it or not, many view as one of those who precipitated the demise of the beloved Archbishop.
Recently, the Patriarch and the Metropolitan had talks in Moscow, some of which had to do with the mess at the Pokrov Parish in Ottawa and some of which had to do with the Archbishop Seraphim. During the course of the summer, a delegation arrived from Moscow to ostensibly arrange a settlement to the Pokrov mess yet strangely enough they had a three-hour "chat" with Seraphim behind closed doors. The nail was in the coffin at that point.
Sow as ye reap so to pick....
So when I read all of these elogious comments made by persons who were not witness to the march of history nor to the character of the man, I can only wonder.
Finally, the outstanding impression of Seraphim is his clammoring for a place of honour at some banquet during the midst of the Herman crisis -instead of delving into it.
One more OCA bishop gone, for better or worse -- Fitzgerald, and then Dmitri and now this one. It's a housekeeping for sure, long overdue.
May God forgive him. As for me, and as for him and his assistant, I will be personally hard pressed to do so.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Orthodox in N. Am. need to go back to our TRADITION of Married Bishops with smaller dioceses. This "IS" part of our Orthodox Tradition. Looking under every rock for a celibate or monastic with issues to "LEAD" is just stupid! There are many well-educated Archpriests who can easily take care of smaller dioceses. Canada could easily be divided into 5-7 dioceses. Although married bishops doesn't mean all issues would be solved, I'm sure it would eliminate 90% of the issues in the episcopacy.
(Editor's note: LOL. While I appreciate the discussion, let's not overstate the case. While it may eliminate 90% of the current problems, it would create a whole new set of problems. Such is the way of the world....)
#15 Anonymous on 2010-10-05 05:49
You said, " Such is the way of the world....)." You should know from your studies at SVS that monastics & celibates were chosen for "expediency," not that monastics were somehow "holier." Two main reasons for monastics were that they were "educated" - the monasteries had the libraries. And second, the laws regarding progeny taking church property were eliminated. NOT BECAUSE MONKS ARE NECESSARILY HOLIER!!!! If you think the devil isn't working on Mt. Athos or in any monastery, you are mistaken. Marriage does not negate a worthy man from the episcopacy!
(editor's note: I have never suggested, anywhere, and anytime that monks were necessarily holier that anybody else. Some are; some are not. Marriage does not negate a worthy man from the episcopacy - but the fact is the Church does. That is unlikely to change. Period.)
#15.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-05 10:03
Editor: Yes, way too many folks on this site seeming to look for a utopia. NO defense of sexual abuse by clergy or any of us. More stringent judgment for those holding the trust of the Church. Of course. However, this side of the fullness of the Kingdom there is no solution. Sin is here, and must be dealt with but it will not be avoided. THere is no safety while we are in this realm. The kingdoms of this world have not yet become the Kingdom Christ. Discipline, prayer, penitence, sorrow, anger, forgiveness, strife -- this is our lot for now.
#15.2 Rdr. John on 2010-10-05 10:07
Have you ever asked a priest's WIFE if she wants her husband to become a bishop?
It may be the older tradition, but the Church decided 1,300 years ago that it was better, as a disciplinary rule, to choose bishops from among the celibate.
The idea that introducing married bishops would solve the leadership problems seems to me to be absurdly naive. Celibate people don't have the corner market on sexual indiscretion. It's pure ignorance to assume married people are any less likely to have problems with sexual continence.
The problem here is that those with the gift of celibacy are not being appropriately nurtured for the episcopal rank. An episcopal candidate should, ideally, be not only celibate (and thus able to devote himself wholeheartedly to his diocese), but also a person of sound moral character and with strong leadership skills. However, it's hard to identify such candidates because the gift of celibacy is not nurtured in America. There are too few healthy men's monasteries. This forces the church to pick candidates whose celibacy is their only real qualification... particularly when that candidate's celibacy is only by outward appearance.
Orthodoxy in America is suffering from a severe and ongoing crisis in leadership, and no jurisdiction or level is above reproach in this regard. This lack of leadership, however, has nothing to do with candidates' sexual practices or lack thereof.
#15.3 Cordelia on 2010-10-05 13:29
The only true celibacy is marriage, or so I've been taught.
If celibacy is a prerequisite to be a leader, doesn't that create an immediate reduction in the pool?
And doesn't my original position make all the candidates immediate hypocrites?
I'm not advocating for a change, but I don't see how you are making much sense, sorry.
A guy like Moriak, nominated for the DoM, who was married, is a darn good choice in the even narrower selection process outlined here.
But you can't have a short stack of celibate monks and expect exceptional leadership... Good mind you, exceptional is tough.
The math is simple. For a VP or CEO job, do you really think you choose from a pool of 3 candidates? More like 100-300. (Note: I don't know the original pool size for the DoM)
(Editor's note: Fr. Moriak is a celibate: he became a monk years ago. The Diocese did not choose from a pool of 3; it was a pool of some 30 candidates. We whittled it down to 3 finalists based on the criteria published for all to see.)
#15.3.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-10-06 21:04
Thanks for the clarifications. I still think a pool of 30 is relatively small. I didn't mean to imply Moriak wasn't celibate. I did mean to imply widowers who meet the balance of requirements (of course) are a good choice.
And I stand by my statement that clerics need to hold themselves to the highest standards of integrity. Human, yes, sinners, yes, but they must be the first to recognize whether their failings will impact the faith. I do appreciate the words of Helen arguing my point to a degree, she is right, but so am I.
Back to the original issue, please don't close the thread.
#18.104.22.168 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-10-10 13:01
"Orthodoxy in America is suffering from a severe and ongoing crisis in leadership, and no jurisdiction or level is above reproach in this regard. This lack of leadership, however, has nothing to do with candidates' sexual practices or lack thereof."
As Orthodox, we need to look for the "BEST" candidates to lead, married or celibate. Not any maladjusted celibate and then expect them to lead without baggage or issues. HELLOOOOOOO! The answer isn't more monasteries where maladjusted celibates can hide. The answer is: selecting the highest quality people to lead, married or celibate!
#15.3.2 Anonymous on 2010-10-07 06:02
I agree with both of you. I agree with Anonymous because going back to a mix of married, widowed, and never-married bishops is the right thing to do on so many fundamental levels. I agree with Mark because such a move will not solve all of our problems.
What it will do is to give us a greater number of bishops, a larger number of smaller dioceses, and, as I indicated before, greater fidelity to the Holy Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition and Canons.
The circumstances that existed leading up to and after Trullo no longer exist. Our priests are at least as educated as our bishops. Our priests do not own Church property or sinecures that they can pass on to their sons. Our matushkas are as educated as any in the past; they are an important reason why Saint Paul advised that our bishops be the husbands of one wife. If one things about it, the job qualifications in 1 Timothy are as applicable today as they were during the New Testament Church.
In any case, many a priest today is doing work beyond his parish and his town. And, when the kids have left and gotten married, there will not be as many family concerns to keep such a priest from sticking close to home all of the time. Finally, our priests are in effect deputy bishops and their whole ministry is growth in this aspect of their calling. The growth from parish priest, educator, local missionary, dean, regional involvement, and to finally a bishopric is logical (and even salutary).
#15.4 Carl Kraeff on 2010-10-05 14:22
I noticed in this morning's paper a small article about a Catholic University choosing a layman as their president for the first time. They are realizing that there just isn't enough quality among celebates to serve the needs of their church. The same is true for the Orthodox. In the early church bishops were chosen from among the monks because they were the most highly educated, trained, and often the most spiritual. Now we're stuck with one rule, and one rule only, for our leaders, they must be celebate. That's it. It doesn't matter if they are well educated, trained or especially spiritual, they just have to be celebate. And I agree with Mark. Married bishops could open the doors to all kinds of further scandals and problems. We as Orthodox haven't dealt with the issue of clergy divorce very well, can you imagine what would happen if a bishop got divorced or either he or his wife had an affair (which will certainly happen, at some point). We need to take a good long look at this, fix what is the problem without creating new problems.
#15.5 Sean O'Clare on 2010-10-05 14:46
Thr obvious problem in the OCA is its lack of true monks as candidates for bishop. There is a naïve and legalistic notion within the OCA that monasticism equals celibacy,therefore all one needs to find is a "qualified" celibate priest who can be tonsured into a monk for the sole purpose of candidacy. Monks are the sinews and foundation of the Church. Weak sinews, infirm body. Weak foundation (think of shifting sand vs. solid rock), this house will come crashing down. Find the true strugglers, the experienced warriors, the real monastics to be your candidates not the "90 day wonders" or the disgraced cast-offs. But the question remains as to whether true monastics can be found within the OCA. If not, who will come in from outside?
(editor's note: You are incorrect in assuming there are no "true monks" in the OCA. There are several, many of whom were nominated to become the bishop of Midwest. Some chose not to participate. Others did not possess the pastoral parish experience the diocese sought. Not every "true monk" is a good fit for any diocese. These are people, not widgets. And no, monasticism is not the solution to every problem in the Church. It is one of the solutions, but not the only, and oftentimes not the best. That's why God invented Bishops, priests, deacons, laymen and women, readers, singers, prophets, teachers, etc.... Monasticism, whether widespread or a rarity, does not excuse of absolve us of our responsiblities in the Church, nor can we devolve them on a Bishop, who we think can magically make everything well, "true monk" or not. )
#15.6 Yianni on 2010-10-05 15:14
Every time I read a panegyric advocating a married episcopate I find myself wondering is we don't have an underground cadre of married priests who secretly believe they should be bishops! I can't imagine anyone else who would be so passionately in favor of something that seems, at least to me, like such a bad idea. Bad for the bishop and bad for his family. I don't believe any particular extra virtue attaches to a hieromonk on account of his celibacy. I just believe the current demands of the job of bishop in the OCA would destroy almost any family. If we ever return to the model of the early church, where many dioceses were small and many bishops were essentially the head pastors for a town or city, then it might actually work. But when one bishop, with no auxilliary, is responsible for an area the size of France ... I can't see it, unless the kids were grown and the bishop and his wife lived "as brother and sister." Or maybe if the whole family piled into a Winnebago and went with.
If the crop of elligible monks is really so poor, the solution seems to be: grow better monks. If that is out of reach, given the limited number of monastic institutions, build more monasteries and recruit more novices. And if monks were more visible and more widely integrated into the church (serving in parishes, or with monasteries doubling as parish churches), men could see monasticism as a viable--and, hopefully, attractive--path of service.
#15.7 Morton on 2010-10-06 09:14
An article in the Toronto Sun states that Archbishop Seraphim wrote a letter of apology to the 2 victims.
What does that signify: that he admits his guilt?
"In a letter to the OCA in 2009, SNAP also noted Storheim sent a letter of apology to the two alleged victims."
(Editor's note: Unless you have a copy of the letter, it is vain to speculate.)
#15.8 Riel on 2010-10-06 09:54
What the story in the Sun actually says is that SNAP claims he sent a letter of apology. Not sure if SNAP has said whether they have seen the letter or if it still exists or what.
So yes, vain to speculate until we hear if the police have anything to say about that claim.
#15.8.1 Donna Farley on 2010-10-07 09:32
Just my two cents:
I don't think any of the religious denominations have dealt with sexual immorality among its clergy very well either (such as the Catholic scandal of recent years).
+Seraphim is being (what seems to me, rather cruely, because it took so long for the Church to address it any organized formal rules and regulations) thrust into a broken system that should have been fixed a LONG time ago. But we see it has taken nearly 30 years just to have discussion and rules and regulations about it all.
What this seems to mean to me, is that there are a LOT of folks to be held accountable at the Last Judgement for having attitudes that swept this kind of stuffl under the rug for far too long.
This is not an Orthodox problem; it is a fallen human nature problem, now just only getting corrected, it seems to me, in other denominations besides the Orthodox.
I rather would really look at HOW any of the religious denominations have "protected their own" and not addressed the rights of the victims for FAR too long.
I only hope for God's mercy and grace at this late stage of exposing anyone after so long a time. May God's forgiveness and mercy be bestowed upon each of us.
#16 Patty Schellbach on 2010-10-05 17:20
Some commenting here might do well to review the Scripture reading for the day today:
"Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven... For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. ... And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
"For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."
Nor do we need to look even as high as the words of our Lord for advice that might make us think twice about condemning a man before the due process of the law has run its course. Is not a fundamental principle of our legal system, "Innocent until proven guilty?"
If even secular journalists are careful to remember to refer to allegations as just that, allegations, until they are proved, how much more should we, as Christians, be careful to give the accused at least "the benefit of the doubt"?
#17 Fr. Justin Hewlett on 2010-10-05 21:16
I hope and pray that these accusations are untrue.
Archbishop Seraphim announced on his blog that he had surgery last month. Perhaps his resignation is medically necessary, and we shouldn't jump to conclusions.
(editor's note: He has not resigned, he requested a three month leave of absence. Whether or not his leave is medically necessary, is irrelevant to the fact that given the allegations, and police investigation, he would have been placed on leave had he not requested it. That is not jumping to a conclusion, but the sexual misconduct policy of the OCA. )
#18 Magdalena on 2010-10-06 08:09
I believe you have confused Archbishop Seraphim Storheim of Canada, who is the person being discussed here, with the retired Bishop Seraphim Sigrist.
Archbishop Seraphim Storheim of Canada does not have a blog, and has not had recent surgery.
#18.1 Donna Farley on 2010-10-07 09:25
I know our editor disagrees with me, but this is part of the reason why I believe the hope for an independent american orthodox church is premature.
The problem is NOT that some bishop somewhere did (or may have done) bad things. Rather, the issue is that there are so few orthodox in this continent. We lack the necessary density (in the geographic and population sense) to create and sustain an orthodox culture. And without that culture, we lack the necessary self-checks that can create and support an independent church. If the recent survey is even half true, there are incredibly few church-going orthodox. The american church needs guidance; we can debate the best sort of guidance, but I firmly believe it is necessary.
The Church of Finland is not a model.
(Editor's note: Oh, I think we are all dense enough. . In your mind, what is the proper population density? How many Greeks are there in Israel? It that Church dense enough? Or in Egypt, or heck, all of Africa? Or in the city of Constantinople, oops, Istanbul? Are those Churches dense enough? Or the Czech Republic? Should I go on? What is fascinating is you have made up your mind, and grasp at any pretext it seems to avoid the obvious and intuitive. There are a million Orthodox in this country, 60 bishops, 20 monasteries, 4 seminaries, 1500 self-supporting parishes, missions, charities, etc., and a legacy of numerous saints who have shown forth on this land. Tell me, what is your threshold? And what is magic about that number? We will never be the culturally dominant church in this land, not unless you can get 60 million catholics to convert, and even more Protestants. So what you are really saying is "never". Why not just be honest about it?)
#19 Cabbage on 2010-10-06 09:12
Fair enough criticism. To be perfectly frank, I'm mostly uncomfortable with the idea because it emanates from most the same places in american orthodoxy as a lot of other liturgical and canonical anomalies. That is unfairly biased of me, but so it goes. What I call an anomaly wouldn't be called that by its practitioners, and I'm not about to go all HOCNA and banishes everyone else to the pits of hell. The Church has existed for 2000 years, will exist until the Second Coming, and doesn't really need to be hasty about anything.
(editor's note: Speaking as one who has been banished to the pits of hell rather a great deal in the last 5 years, and none of it canonical or liturgical anomalies, thanks for the broadmindness. Well said.)
#19.1 Cabbage on 2010-10-07 12:53
Let's see - Married Bishops = Normal!
Celibates (from past history in the OCA and other Orthodox = FAILURE!
So, who do we need to lead? Failures or normal men?
(Editor's note: To assume that married bishops = normality ( whatever that term means) is to overlook the historical experience of the Church which moved, for reasons, from a married episcopate to a monastic episcopate. One only has to look at our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Protestant world to see that a married episcopate is not a cure-all. I am not disagreeing, only pointing out that if you are going to discuss solutions to problems, don't be Polly-Anna about the potential fixes. And what does "normal" mean, please? Because if that is code for "married means not gay", I suggest you watch Oprah, or better yet Tyra, or Maury or Jerry Springer because that is one very wrong assumption according to the TV and tabloids.)
#20 Anonymous on 2010-10-06 17:26
For anyone who has formed an opinion as to the guilt of the Bishop, what truths are you basing it on? What if the Bishop is completely innocent of wrongdoing? Can you imagine the pain you would experience if you were falsely accused of sexual misconduct and you were completely innocent? The Innocence Project has been able to exonerate hundreds of innocent people using new technologies such as DNA testing, etc. Some of these people have spent decades of their life in prison for a crime they did not commit. Yes, there is a frightful amount of real sexual abuse. I experienced it myself when I was young so I am sensitive to a victim's pain. But I am also very sensitive to falsely accusing someone. What a cross that is to carry, to have your reputation and your life ruined when you are completely innocent of wrongdoing. Many of our Saints had to experience false accusations and we honor them for having stayed faithful to Christ even during those most difficult times. As far as the OCA being able to properly investigate this case and find the truth, I hold out no hope. I don't think the truth is what the OCA looked for in the cases it has recently investigated.
#21 Anonymous on 2010-10-06 17:46
Well said, Cordelia,
#22 Patty Schellbach on 2010-10-06 17:50
Married Bishops in the Orthodox Church: An Analysis
If a man desire the office of a Bishop, he desires a good work. A Bishop
then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, ...ruling well his own
house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.
[1 Timothy 3:1-4]
For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things
that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city as I had appointed you; If
any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not
accused of riot, or unruly.
Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother lying
sick with a fever.
But Simon's wife's mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her
Now He arose from the Synagogue and entered Simon's house. But Simon's
wife's mother was sick with a high fever, and they made request of Him
First, we must establish the Biblical and thus traditional position of the
Orthodox Church regarding the issue of married clergy. Secondly, we must be
against the allegations made by (some) Orthodox that the consecration of
married men to the office of bishop is supposedly "uncanonical", somehow
"unorthodox", or even worse, "heretical".
St Peter the Apostle
Undoubtedly, St. Peter and virtually all Apostles were married. Their
marriage clearly did not nullify being chosen as Apostles by Christ. There
is no reference to any children of the marriage, before or after the call as
an Apostle. There is a clear Orthodox tradition that St Peter dedicated
himself completely (lived celibate from that time on) to Christ from the
time of his call. This can be seen in the following words of St Clement of
Alexandria:They say, accordingly, that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife
led to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home, and
called very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name,
'Remember the Lord'. Such was the marriage of the blessed, and their perfect
disposition towards those dearest to them. Thus also the Apostle says, 'That
he who marries should be as though he married not', and deem his marriage
free of inordinate affection, and inseparable from love to the Lord; to
which the true husband exhorted his wife to cling on her departure out of
this life to the Lord. [p.541, Book 7, The Stromata, Clement of Alexandria,
Ante Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2]
Evidence of Married Bishops in the early Church
The father of the Cappodacian Saints was a Married Bishop. The elder Gregory
was converted by the influence of his wife, Nonna; and soon after his
conversion was consecrated to the bishopric of Nazianzus [p.187,
Prolegomena, Sect. 1, Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7] (Note: This is
Gregory the elder, not his son St Gregory Nazianzus). Note that, There are
two lines in his poem of St Gregory Nazienzan on his own life which seem to
indicate clearly that his birth took place after his father's elevation to
the Episcopate... [p.188, Prolegomena, Sect. 1, Vol 7].
Basil left before him and returned to Cappadocia; and as soon as he could
follow he went to Constantinople, where he met his brother, who had just
come there to practice and return with his brother to Nazianzus. They found
their parents still living and their father occupying the Episcopal Throne.
From this time onward Gregory divided his time between his parents and his
friend; living partly at Arianzus, and partly with Basil in Pontus, in
monastic seclusion. [p.191, Prolegomena, Sect. 1, Vol. 7].
Gregory,...felt very strongly drawn to the monastic life; but as retirement
from the world did not seem to him to be his vocation, he resolved to
continue to live in the world, and to be a help and support to his now aged
parents, and especially to his father in the duties of his Episcopate, but
at the same time to live under the strictest ascetic rule. [ibid.]
In 374, Gregory the elder died, and his wife also, and thus our saint was
set free from the charge of the diocese.[p.195, ibid.]
Early Tradition on the marriage of St Gregory of Nyssa
Here it is usual to place the marriage of Gregory with Theosebeia, said to
have been a sister of Gregory Nazianzus. Certainly the tradition of
Gregory's (Nyssa) marriage received such credit as to be made in after times
a proof of the non-celibacy of the Bishops of his age. [p.3, A Sketch of the
Life of St Gregory of Nyssa, Second Series, Vol. 5]
St John Chrysostom on married Hierarchs
'A Bishop then,' he says, 'must be blameless the husband of one wife.' This
he does not lay down as a rule, as if he must not be without one, but as
prohibiting his having more than one. [p.438, First Series, Vol. 13, St John
Chrysostom, Homily X, Homilies on Timothy]
If then 'he who is married cares for the things of the world' (1 Cor. 7:33),
and a bishop ought not to care for the things of the world, why does he say
'the husband of one wife'? Some indeed think that he says this with
reference to one who remains free from a wife. But if otherwise, he that has
a wife may be as though he had none (1 Cor. 7:29). For that liberty was then
properly granted, as suited to the nature of the circumstances then
existing. And it is very possible, if a man will, to regulate his conduct.
[p. 438, ibid.]
'Having his children in subjection with all gravity.' This is necessary,
that an example might be exhibited in his own house. [p.439. ibid.]
Verse 6: 'If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful
children, not accused of riot, or unruly.' Why does he bring forward such a
one? To stop the mouths of those heretics who condemned marriage, showing
that it is not an unholy thing in itself, but so far honorable, that a
married man might ascend the holy throne; and at the same reproving the
wanton, and not permitting their admission into this high office who
contracted a second marriage. For he who retains no kind regard for her who
is departed, how shall he be a good presider? [p.524, Works of St John
Chrysostomos, Homily on Titus, Homily 2, First Series, Vol. 13].
'Having faithful children, not accused of riot, or unruly.' We should
observe what care he bestows upon children. For he who cannot be the
instructor of his own children, how should he be the Teacher of
others?...But, if occupied in the pursuit of wealth, he has made his
children a secondary concern, and not bestowed much care upon them, even so
he is unworthy. For if when nature prompted, he was so void of affection or
so senseless, that he thought more of his wealth than of his children, how
should he be raised to the episcopal throne, and so great a rule? [pp.
St Athanasius the Apostolic:But I have also thought it necessary to inform
you of the fact, that Bishops have succeeded those who have fallen asleep.
In Tanis, in the stead of Elias, is Theodorus. In Arsenoitis, Silvanus
instead of Nonnus. In Bucolia is Heraclius. In Tentyra, Andronicus is
instead of Saprion, his father. In Thebes, Philon instead of Philon, etc.
[pp.538/9, Letter 12, Sect. 2, Letters of St Athanasius, Second Series, Vol.
For we know both bishops who fast, and monks who eat. We know bishops that
drink no wine, as well as monks who do. We know bishops who work wonders, as
well as monks who do not. Many also of the bishops have not even married,
while monks have been fathers of children; just as conversely we know
bishops who are fathers of children and monks 'of the completest kind'.
[p.560, Letter 49, Sect. 9, ibid.]
St Ambrose of Milan
And so the Apostle have given a pattern, saying that a bishop 'must be
blameless', and in another place: 'A bishop must be without offence, as a
steward of God, not proud, not soon angry, not given to wine, not a striker,
not greedy of filthy lucre.' For how can the compassion of a dispenser of
alms and the avarice of a covetous man agree together? I have set down these
things which I have been told are to be avoided, but the apostle is the
master of virtues, and he teaches that gainsayers are to be convicted with
patience, who lays down that one should be the husband of a single wife, not
in order to exclude him from the right of marriage (for this is beyond the
force of the precept), but that by conjugal chastity he may preserve the
grace of his baptismal washing; nor again that he may be induced by the
Apostle's authority to beget children in the priesthood; for he speaks of
having children, not of begetting them, or marrying again. [p.465, Chapters
61 & 62, Letter 63, St Ambrose, Second Series,Vol. 10]
The Marriage of Church Dignitaries: But, while dealing with the passage, I
would say that we will be able perhaps now to understand and clearly set
forth a question which is hard to grasp and see into, with regard to the
legislation of the Apostle concerning ecclesiastical matters; for Paul
wishes no one of those of the church, who has attained to any eminence
beyond the many, as is attained in the administration of the sacraments, to
make trial of a second marriage. For laying down the law in regard to
bishops in the first Epistle to Timothy, he says, 'If a man seeketh the
office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. The bishop, therefore, must be
without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded,' etc.;
and, in regard to deacons, 'Let the deacons,' he says, 'be the husbands of
one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well,' etc. ... And, in
the Epistle to Titus, 'For this cause,' he says, 'I left thee in Crete that
thou shouldest set in order the things that were wanting, and appoint elders
in every city as I gave thee charge. If any one is blameless, the husband of
one wife, having children, that believe'. Now, when we saw that some who
have been married twice may be much better than those who have been married
once, we were perplexed why Paul does not at all permit those who have been
twice married to be appointed to ecclesiastical dignities; for also it
seemed to me that such a thing was worthy of examination, as it was possible
that a man, who had been unfortunate in two marriages, and had lost his
second wife while he was yet young, might have lived for the rest of his
years up to old age in the greatest self-control and chastity. Who, then,
would not naturally be perplexed why at all, when a ruler of the church is
being sought for, we do not appoint such a man, though he has been twice
married, because of the expressions about marriage, but lay hold of the man
who has been once married as our ruler, even if he chance to have lived to
old age with his wife, and sometimes may not have been disciplined in
chastity and temperance? But, from what is said in the law about the bill of
divorcement, I reflect whether, seeing that the bishop and the presbyter and
the deacon are a symbol of things that truly exist in accordance with these
names, he wished to appoint those who were figuratively once married.
[pp.509/10, Book XIV, Origen's Commentary on Matthew, Vol. X, Ante Nicene
Councils of the Church
Canon V of the Canons of the Twelve Apostles (Apostolic Canons):Let not a
bishop, presbyter, or deacon, put away his wife under pretence of religion;
but if he put her away, let him be excommunicated; and if he persists, let
him be deposed.
Canon LI of the Apostolic Canons:If any bishop, presbyter, or deacon, or any
one of the sacerdotal list, abstains from marriage, or flesh, or wine, not
by way of religious restraint, but as abhorring them, forgetting that God
made all things very good, and that he made man male and female, and
blaspheming the work of creation, let him be corrected, or else be deposed,
and cast out of the Church. In like manner a layman.
In conclusion, the Apostolic Canons represent the very early Canon Law of
the Church, that the Canons which make up the collection are of various
dates, but that most of them are earlier than the year 300, and that while
it is not possible to say exactly when the collection, as we now have it,
was made, there is good reason for assigning it a date not later than the
middle of the fourth century.... There can be no question that in the East
the Apostolic Canons were very generally looked upon as a genuine work
prepared by the Holy Apostles. [p. 592, Vol.XIV, The Seven Ecumenical
Councils of the Undivided Church
Quinisext Council (Fifth-Sixth)
[sometimes called the "Trullon Synod"]
Canon XII:Moreover, this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and
Libya, and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do
not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving
scandal and offence to the people. Since, therefore, it is our particular
care that all things tend to the good of the flock placed in our hands and
committed to us - it has seemed good that henceforth nothing of the kind
shall in any way occur. And we say this, not to abolish and overthrow what
things were established of old by Apostolic authority, but as caring for the
health of the people and their advance to better things, and lest the
ecclesiastical state should suffer any reproach...But if any shall have been
observed to do such a thing, let him be deposed.
Commentary by Aristenus:The fifth Apostolic canon allows neither bishop,
presbyter, nor deacons to cast forth his wife under pretext of piety; and
assigns penalties for any that shall do so, and if he will not amend he is
to be deposed. But this canon on the other hand does not permit a bishop
even to live with his wife after his consecration. But by this change no
contempt is meant to be poured out upon what had been established by
Apostolic authority, but it was made through care for the people's health
and for leading on to better things, and for fear that the sacerdotal estate
might suffer some wrong.
Van Espen:In the time of this Canon (of the Apostles) not only presbyters
and deacons, but bishops also, it is clear, were allowed by Eastern custom
to have their wives; and Zonaras and Balsamon note that even until the Sixth
Council, commonly called in Trullo, bishops were allowed to have their
Canon XLVII:The wife of him who is advanced to hierarchical dignity, shall
be seperated from her husband by their mutual consent, and after his
ordination and consecration to the episcopate she shall enter a monastery
situated at a distance from the abode of the bishop, and there let her enjoy
the bishop's provision. And if she is deemed worthy she may be advanced to
the dignity of a deaconess.
On the Marriage of the Clergy
The doctrine and practice of the ancient Church in the East can be fittingly
quoted in the words of the Rev. John Fulton in the introduction to the Third
Edition of his Index Canonum [p.29, NY, 1892]. He says, Marriage was no
impediment to ordination even as a Bishop; and bishops, Priests and Deacons,
equally with other men, were forbidden to put away their wives under pretext
of religion. The case was different when a man was unmarried at the time of
his ordination. Then he was held to have given himself wholly to God in the
office of the Holy Ministry, and he was forbidden to take back from his
offering that measure of his cares and his affections which must necessarily
be given to the maintenance and nurture of his family. [p.365, Vol. XIV, The
Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church.
St. Demetrius the Vine Dresser (Egyptian Patriarch)
The Coptic Orthodox Synaxarian records one of the early Patriarchs of the
Church of Alexandria as being a married man. The record states he had lived
a celibate life since the beginning of marriage and it is not known whether
this is a later redaction to cover the obvious conflict that would ensue
otherwise. In any case, the fact of his enthronement again confirms that the
tradition of the Church at that time did not consider marriage to be a bar
to even hold the highest office of the Orthodox Church.
The Byzantine Church
In 1990, an article from The Orthodox Observer, a Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
of North and South America publication, states, At the 1992 meeting of the
clergy-laity conference of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South
America (Archbishop Iacovos), held in New Orleans, a formal resolution was
sent to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople 'to consider returning
to the practice of ordaining married priests as bishops as was done in the
early church.' ... Earlier in December 1991, the Greek Archdiocese stated
that it was the original practice of the Church for a married Episcopate.
Please also note that Archbishop Iakovos promoted the return of married
bishops to worldwide Orthodoxy and agreed that individual jurisdictions
could retain the Apostolic tradition of the Early Church.
Various Practices Regarding the Episcopacy
 Celibate/Monastics Only: The majority position amongst the Eastern
Orthodox which has a large well of monastics to draw from. Also the position
amongst the Oriental Orthodox, who, like their Eastern brethren, have a
vibrant monastic community. Many of these Churches, having had married
bishops in the early Church, did however draw from their monastics for over
one thousnad years (Armenians seemingly being the exception). However, it is
noted that even amongst the Eastern Orthodox it is not unusual to elect a
Priest to the Episcopacy whose wife has reposed first. Evidence is
overwhelming that in the Orthodox Tradition marriage is not a bar to
consecration. Economia and the will of the Orthodox Christians in the
traditional homelands do not lend themselves to changing this current
practice, which has served their churches very well for centuries.
 Married but dedicated Celibacy: The traditional position regarding the
Apostles (St Peter, for example) and many of the married men that have been
elevated in times past (St Demetrius the Vinedresser amongst the Coptic
Orthodox, for instance) is supported by the Canonical authority of the
Fifth-Sixth Council (Canons 12 and 47-see above). However, if the dedicated
celibacy was due to the heretical view that marital relations were not
honorable (sinful) then a clear rejection of the fifth and fifty-first
canons of the Apostolic Canons would apply placing the rejector under
anathema. This is an acceptable position when the Church is in a missionary
situation as it was in the days of the Apostles and early centuries (and
currently amongst the Western hemispherre), but is not as needed when a
large pool of spiritual monastics is granted to the Church by God. The
practice is that the married couple live celibate from the time of
dedication or consecration, usually with the wife also entering into
monastic lifestyle or a community and frequently being received as a
 Married but not dedicated Celibacy: Perhaps the least controversial
position due to the fact that the Bishop has not lived or promised to live a
celibate life from consecration. Those who reject this position outright
often bring the following verse to bear: "He who is married is concerned for
his wife and the affairs of the world", alongside St Paul's words that it is
'better' to remain as he was, i.e. celibate. There are also references (see
above) of married bishopes that bore children in lawful Christian marriage
after their consecration (although far less frequently and often alongside
later attempts by writers to re-write the facts of the matter). The Biblical
references relating to the bishop being married and having in submission his
children does not imply that the children came after the elevation to the
Episcopate. However, the lawful Christian state of marriage itself
determines that the married but not celibate Episcopate has not committed
any sin that would prevent him from consecration. Of course not all things
that are 'lawful are also expedient' and thus, this third position causes
much confusion and consternation amongst some Orthodox. The Canons of the
Fifth-Sixth Council direct all married bishopes to seperate from their wives
and live a dedicated life and these are often quoted by those who deny the
correctness of this position. However, the earlier Apostolic Canons direct
the exact opposite that one was not allowed to put away ones wife. Obviously
this matter falls well within the oiconomia of the bishops in a particular
Synod to determine the married epicopate for their jurisdiction.
Various Objections Raised Regarding a Married Episcopacy
The Church decided in later centuries to change to monastic bishops only.
At a number of question forums where the laity have a chance to ask various
Bishops for their response to why the Church no longer has married Bishops
(as Holy Scriptures allow and the Church Fathers attest to) we found that
the common answer is often:The whole church decided to change the practice
in the third century. The response from the blessed bishops is somewhat
ill-informed and assumed to be the case, rather than defacto is the case:
[a] The Universal Church made no such declaration in the 3rd century nor the
centuries immediately following that time.
[b] The exact opposite actually occurred. At the 1st Ecumenical Council of
Nicea in 325 AD, the Western (Roman) legates attempted force Canons
requiring celibacy of all clergy. These attempted amendments however failed,
and a large part of their failure were the words of St Paphnutius of the
Church of Alexandria, a Saint and miracle worker who was famed and respected
across the empire, even receiving admiration from the Emperor himself. What
made St Paphnutius' words even more immpressive is that he himself had been
a celibate monastic since entering the life as a teenager. Here a strictly
ascetic monastic argued against the enforced celibacy of any rank of the
Church's offices (cf. Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers, Volume 14, The Seven
Ecumenical Councils:"Proposed Action on Celibacy"):
that too heavy a yoke ought not to be laid upon the clergy; that marriage
and married intercourse are of themselves honorable and undefiled; that the
Church ought not to be injured by an extreme severity, for all could not
live in absolute continency. In this way (by not prohibiting marrital
relations) the virtue of the wife would be much more certainly preserved
(viz. the wife of a clergyman, because she might find injury elsewhere, if
her husband withdrew from the marriage). The intercourse of a man with his
lawful wife may also be a chaste intercourse. It would therefore be
sufficient, according to the ancient tradition of the Church, if those who
had taken holy orders without being married were prohibited from marrying
afterwards; but those clergymen who had been married only once as laymen,
were not to be separated from their wives.
This discourse of St. Paphnutius made so much more of an impression, since
he had never lived in matrimony himself, and had had no conjugal
intercourse. St. Paphnutius had been brought up in a monastery, and his
great purity of manners had rendered him especially celebrated. Therefore
the Council took the serious words of the Egyptian bishop into
consideration, stopped all discussion upon the law, and left to each cleric
the responsibility of deciding the point as he would. We must conclude that
a law was proposed at the Council of Nicaea in the same way as the one which
had been carried twenty years previously at Elvira, Spain. This coincidence
would lead us to believe that it was the Spaniard Hosius who proposed the
law respecting celibacy at Nicaea. The discourse ascribed to St. Paphnutius,
and the consequent decision of the Synod, agree very well with the text of
the Apostolic Constitutions, and with the whole practice of the Greek Church
in respect to celibacy. Both, the Greek Church as well as the Latin one
accepted this principle, that whoever had taken holy orders before marriage,
ought not to be married afterwards. In the Latin Church, bishops, priests,
deacons. and even subdeacons, were considered to be subject to this law,
because the latter were at a very early period reckoned among the higher
servants of the Church, which was not the case in the Greek Church. The
Greek Church went so far as to allow deacons to marry after their
ordination, if they had obtained permission from their bishop to do so. The
Council of Ancyra affirms this (Canon 10). We see that the Greek Church
wishes to leave the bishop free to decide the matter; but, in reference to
priests, it also prohibited them from marrying after their ordination. While
the Latin Church exacted of those presenting themselves for ordination, even
as subdeacons, that they should not continue to live with their wives (if
they were married), the Greek Church gave no such prohibition; but if the
wife of an ordained clergyman died, the Greek Church allowed no second
marriage. The Apostolic Constitutions decided this point in the same way. To
leave their wives from a pretext of piety was also forbidden to Greek
priests; and the Synod of Gangra (Canon 4) took up the defence of married
priests against the Eustathians. Eustathius, however, was not alone among
the Greeks opposing the marriage of all clerics, and in desiring to
introduce into the Greek Church the Latin discipline regarding this matter.
St. Epiphanius also inclined towards this side. The Greek Church did not,
however, adopt this rigour in reference to priests, deacons, and subdeacons,
but by degrees it came to be required of bishops and of the higher order of
clergy in general, that they should live in celibacy. Yet this was not until
after the compilation of the Apostolic Canons (Canon 5) and of the
Constitutions; for in those documents mention is made of bishops living in
wedlock, and Church history shows that there were married bishops (for
instance, Bishop Synesius in the fifth century). But it is fair to remark,
even as to Synesius, that he made it an express condition of his election to
the episcopate, that he might continue to live the married life. Thomassin
believes that Synesius did not seriously require this condition, and only
spoke thus for the sake of escaping the episcopal office; which would seem
to imply that in his time Greek bishops had already begun to live in
celibacy. At the Trullan Synod (Canon 13) the Greek Church finally settled
the question of the marriage of priests (First Ecumenical Council of Nicea,
Proposed Action on Clerical Celibacy, Second Series, Vol. XIV, pp. 51/2)
 The Church enforced celibate Bishops to stop Nepotism: This explanation
perhaps gives us the clearest reason why the Church moved away from married
bishops. Nepotism is where the ecclesiastical dignity is passed down from
father to son and becomes a sort of family empire, something that the Church
can never be. This phenomen can be seen today, for instance in the Billy
Graham and Pat Robertson enterprises and other ministries where the sons are
effectively taking over as the inheritors to their fathers. While this may
not always be a bad thing or necessarily against the will of God, it does
lead to the confusion of the laity who would begin to see an element of
family empire building in the making. In order to end the passing of
ecclesiastical properties as inheritance to sons, the Church began to choose
men who were never married, and thus no claims for inheritance could be
levelled. This perhaps was valid during the days when the bishops held all
property and legal deeds, and incorpartions did not exist. Nowadays, at an
age of public disclosure of banking and financial accounts, with lay
treasurers and financial committees etc, there is little to no chance of
such to occur.
 The need of an Ecumenical Council to change back: This is seemingly a
valid statement made by those who reject the married Episcopate. They assert
that since an Ecumenical council declared the matter closed, then it
requires another Ecumenical Council to change that. This argument is flawed
in a number of points: First, an ecumenical council did NOT declare the
matter closed. On the contrary, The Council of Nicea refused to implement
this discipline. Secondly, the Fifth-sixth Council did NOT ban married
bishops, but implemented a set discipline upon them. Thirdly, there has not
been an Ecumenical Council since the schism of the Church and there is not
likely to be one in any foreseeable future. We no longer have Christian
Emperors who can call an Ecumenical Council, let alone the fact that the
whole Roman Church would obviously fail to attend any Council called by the
East. Amusingly, the answer (of needing another Ecumenical Council to settle
the matter) really does not deal with the issue but 'passes the buck' to
some indefinite, improbable future event. Such would not be acceptable from
a theological or cannonically viewpoint, since oiconomia has always allowed
the bishops to determine how to enforce or interpret the Canons in their
particular circumstances. Recently allowances in matters of ecclesiastical
discipline have been observed in a number of jurisdictions, including
priest's being able to remarry, bishops being transferred to other dioceses,
"Coadjutor" type bishops in dioceses that are not under their authority,
monks leaving their vows being allowed to marry, more than one bishop in one
city, etc. - Yet none of these recent matters were left to a futuristic
We believe the above information and the facts of history stand for
themselves and do not need a defence. It is rather the other side in need of
defence, from a Scriptural, Patristic and canonical point of view.
Additionally, the western hemisphere is not like the homelands of Eastern or
Oriental Orthodoxy which had two thousand years of resources to draw from
suitable monastics availble for consecration. Though the earlier Canons are
believed by Orthodox tradition to come directly via Apostolic authority, the
later ones by an assumed one-size-fits-all decision by the Fifth-sixth
Council. Canonical commentators have not been able to resolve the obvious
differences other than simply to note them. Oiconomia is the only way this
issue should be resolved in the Orthodox faith, as it always has. For one
jurisdiction to use one set of Canons against another jurisdiction's
interpretation or oikonomia is neither appropriate nor Orthodox!
#23 Anonymous on 2010-10-07 06:35
Wow! This is a very long defense in an argument nobody seems to be having. I don't think anyone disputes that married bishops were common at one time. Those bishops ruled at most a city or small area. The famous Bishop of Lyon, for example, was the "hierarch" for a community numbering fewer than a thousand believers. On that basis, a married episcopate might work fine. When the bishop has charge of a territory covering the entire Western US or all of Canada (3 million-plus sq. mi.), it is a different matter. These men are on the road pretty much all the time. Can you imagine family life with such a person as the father? Even with the best of intentions, a parent needs to be physically present. I can't understand why this is constantly put forward as the best solution. Is this some conspiracy among Orthodox psychiatrists to drum up future business???
And Mark said it well in his note above, when he cautioned against supposing ANY solution will solve all these issues. Sexual abuse is an incredibly complex and thorny issue, both in its pathology and in its treatment. The idea that a married bishop who spends 95% of his time traveling is going to have fewer sexual issues than someone who is celibate makes no sense; they are functionally the same, unless someone here has been advocating some sort of alternative lifestyle while I wasn't looking.
(Editor's note: Groan. Please don't use the phrase " alternative lifestyle" in any context. It's like shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre in contemporary America! )
#23.1 Morton on 2010-10-07 10:01
The idea is to have more bishops and smaller dioceses. Canada can be split into 5-7 dioceses. California can be split into 3-5 dioceses. Etc. The main point: the best qualified men should be chosen for the episcopacy, married or celibate.
#23.1.1 Anonymous on 2010-10-07 11:44
Duly noted. In my defense, I only used it knowing NOBODY would want such a solution.
#23.1.2 Morton on 2010-10-07 12:46
I'm sure you had the best of intentions, but like it was already noted, nobody's arguing about the fact that there used to be married bishops. And presenting historical fact does not constitute an argument for reinstituting the practice, only supporting its legitimacy.
Furthermore, Mark's comment section is not really the best place to post hugely long articles like that, especially when they are not formatted for the page. These comments pages aren't really designed to be a thread-based forum, and posting long articles makes it a pain to scroll through all the comments and look for ones that are unread. When you want to post something that long, you should get a webpage or a blog and just link to it. Otherwise, it's really annoying!
#23.2 Cordelia on 2010-10-07 21:44
Also, if you're just looking for new comments, you can hit "linear" instead of the default "threaded" at the top of the page and then go to the bottom and read all the new stuff together.
Not the most substantive contribution to this discussion, but I'm feeling there isn't really much that one can say about the underlying topic other than to pray for all involved and for an open, honest assessment what happened.
#23.2.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-10-08 13:55
For some context on the topic of sexual misconduct by clergy, including in religious organizations with married leaders/'bishops', see the 'Faith Matters' portion of NPR's "Tell Me More". Last Friday, October 1 (ironically, the feast of the Protection for Orthodox on the New Calendar, like the OCA and its Canadian Archdiocese...), "Tell Me More" host Michel Martin spoke with Baylor University Prof. Diana Garland, co-author of the study "How Sexual Misconduct Happens" (http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/96038.pdf), and Mgnr. Stephen Rossetti, clinical associate professor of Pastoral Studies at Catholic University.
A transcript is available here:
A few relevant portions:
MARTIN: ...among people whom you interviewed, [Professor Garland,] there were people from a very wide array of religious organizations and faith groups, of Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist, Disciples of Christ, Mormon, Apostolic, Calvary Chapel, Christian Science, Church of Christ, Episcopal Friends, Mennonite, evangelical, non-denomination and Reformed Judaism. [Sex abuse by clergy] did not seem to be the particular bane of any particular group.
Prof. GARLAND: I didn't see any pattern it cuts across, and that's just in the interviews I did. In the national study we did, we found again a high prevalence, that one out of 33 women or men in congregations have experienced themselves misconduct by a religious leader....
I would say this, though. I think it's important to say that we - the abuse of minors, of course, is especially abhorrent and awful, but there are more cases of sexual exploitation of adults in all the churches, and that gets less air time, if you will.
And one of the things that we're trying to do is to bring some education, to first just tell people that this is not consensual. There is a gross imbalance of power, and it is unethical, some states illegal, and certainly immoral.
And so when people say, well, it was consensual, you know, we're both adults, and so what's wrong with this. But we say, well, it's not consensual. There's a massive imbalance of power, and it's not okay.
MARTIN: And to that point, Professor Garland, you know, the monsignor is pointing out there actually is a large degree of inappropriate sexual involvement with adults, and that's one of the things that gets the headlines....
In your experience, what's the distribution from a gender perspective? Is it more women who are, in fact, the targets, or is it more men? Is there any pattern there?
Prof. GARLAND: Well, the interviews I did, I mean, I think we can certainly speak to the fact that most men are heterosexual, and most religious leaders in this country are men. So you're going to see more prevalence of heterosexual relationships between men and women congregants.
However, I did do interviews with survivors who are men, who were in a same-sex relationship with a religious leader, and I interviewed women who were in same-sex relationship with clergy women.
So it's really not about the sex. It's about the abuse of the power and the use of another for gratification rather than recognizing that this other is entrusted to your care....
Monsignor ROSSETTI: I don't think it's that intentional, frankly. I think if you look at the percentage, which is hard to gather data, but still, I don't think that clergy of any denomination are more likely to abuse, if you will. But they have their percentage.
And the problem, I think, is not only do we have our share, if you will, sadly, but it carries a particular valence and trauma to it, because a person is not only a leader, the person's a religious leader.
And so there's a real trauma there because, I mean if I could say (unintelligible), God abused me, you know. My first parish, I had a wonderful pastor, and he was a terrific guy - old, stately monsignor.
And he drives in the driveway one Sunday afternoon, and the little child looks out the window and says: Mom, she says, I don't know that God knew how to drive.
So there is this way in which we imbue our religious leaders with this divine mantle, which unfortunately is not true, they're human beings. But they have the same human problems everybody else does.
Prof. GARLAND: ...one of the most troubling findings in our study was that clergy sexual misconduct is three times more likely to take place in the life of an African-American woman than a white woman.
...we've [wrongly] defined this as a sexual falling. That makes it a private matter. It makes it - we talk about the pastor having an affair, and that's something we don't talk about. Abuse of power, that's about the community. And as we change our language and recognize that this is not just the pastor committing a moral sin with another, but in fact, the abuse of the power to the whole congregation is given. That helps us wrap our minds around how we need to be responding to this, to prevent it from happening for the sake of leaders, as well as for the congregation.
MARTIN: ...give us some thoughts about what steps you think congregations and individuals should be taking to prevent this kind of thing from continuing.
Prof. GARLAND: Well, one of the first things is what we've just been doing, which is changing our language and talking about the abuse of power, recognizing it and taking responsibility for our leaders, educating about the role of sexuality and power in relationships that we really have not understood, and then I think very clear expectations for our leaders of what they should be doing and what they shouldn't be doing. And we've actually said that religious leaders in a congregation should not be providing counseling. That's a different relationship that needs to be - need to take place in a protected, therapeutic environment.
#24 orrologion on 2010-10-07 07:34
Not particularly relevant to this particular topic, but since people keep bringing up married vs monastic bishops, I'll throw this historical note into the mix.
One factor historically affecting the pool of available celibate clergy has been the availability of women's healthcare. Until quite recently, women were much more likely to die in childbirth, resulting in much higher numbers of widowers. Unlike widowers among the laity, widowed priests were unable to remarry and were frequently encouraged to take monastic vows. (St Innocent is a notable example, as he only became eligible for monastic tonsure and episcopal consecration after the death of his wife Catherine.) With improvements in women's healthcare in the last century or so, we see fewer deaths in childbirth, and consequently fewer widowed priests.
#25 John Congdon on 2010-10-07 07:59
This thread has careened way off the tracks, so to speak.
It is NOT about the relevance of married bishops.
It is NOT about the relevance of the 7 Ecumenical Councils.
It is NOT about the relevance of a Professor Garland and her analysis.
It IS about the presumed GUILT or INNOCENCE of the Orthodox (OCA) Archbishop of Canada in relation to an act not worthy of a high-ranking cleric.
It is NOT about the falling into sin and entrance into perdition of a single man.
It IS about an alleged egregious series of conduct by a person to whom moral authority has been entrusted.
Lest the North Americans on this Board forget why the Church in Russia was so, so persecuted by Lenin and his thugs after the Revolution was that in the eyes of many, the Church had fallen into the abyss morally in terms of the conduct of is country priests and several of its more highly placed leaders. One should remember that one of the FIRST acts of the Soviets was to dispatch the Metropolitan of St. Petersburg, a cohort of Rasputin's, to a psychiatric institution, as such existed then, as this Metropolitan Seraphim, by coincidence the same name as the Archbishop, was known wide and far to all in St. Petersburg as a victimizer of young boys.
Additionally, even under the control of Soviets, in 1992, why was not the now self-proclaimed Patriarch Denisenko of Kiev, the ex-Metropolitan of Kiev, not elected to be Patriarch of Russia? Because his moral conduct was so egregious and so widely-noised even in Soviet Russia that the KGB could not hide the stench and even the clergy under full control of the Party refused to vote for him.
Yes, It IS about moral righteousness and moral conduct for those to whom a higher level of moral authority has been given.
Frankly, it is long, long overdue.
I'm not sure that you can say what this discussion is about.
A discussion careens.
Debates are focused.
So, there are debates here, and there is discussion.
This is why I return to this site; it's interesting and rather messy.
But various issues that folks feel are relevant get discussed.
That's what a discussion forum is and does.
#26.1 Rdr. John on 2010-10-07 12:24
Regarding married clergy and sexual misconduct:
"Overall, 3.1% of women who attend religious services at least monthly reported that at some time during their adult life, they had been the object of a sexual advance by a cler-gyperson or religious leader in their own congregation; more than half of those (2.2% of the whole sample) report sexual advances by a religious leader who was at the time married to someone else. Thus, one in 33 women in congregations has been the object of a sexual advance by a religious leader; or, more narrowly, one in 40 women who attend a congregation has been the object of an illicit sexual advance by her own married religious leader."
Regarding gender and sexual orientation in cases of clergy sexual misconduct:
"The sample compares roughly to the national study in which 96% of the offended were female and all offenders were male (Chaves & Garland, forthcoming). This nonrandom sample is slightly more male and includes women offended by female reli-gious leaders. Of the 46 offended in this sample, 4 (8.7%) are male, and all four of their offenders are male—three Catholic and one Mormon. Of the 42 women we interviewed, 40 (95%) of those who offended them are male, and two are female (a Catholic religious order superior and a Protestant pastor). ...our findings document that both men and women offend, and that the offense can be either heterosexual or homosexual in nature."
Both quotations are from "How Clergy Sexual Misconduct
Happens: A Qualitative Study of First-Hand Accounts" by Diana R. Garland & Christen Argueta, retrieved from:
#27 orrologion on 2010-10-07 09:26
It never ceases to amaze me, how when people are hurt in the Orthodox Church by predatory clergy, all of the freaking Ortho-Nerds start posting long-winded academic essays on Orthodox History and Theology. These are real PEOPLE who have been hurt, not academic exercises for some ex-Protestant turned "Orthodox Scholar"...how utterly disgusting and shameful.
#28 Moses on 2010-10-07 09:50
Not to mention the "we are all sinners" blather. All of this stuff is just more cover from the enablers. The 'new' Metropolitan hid a Greek molester at his monastery without making it knowledge to the public who brought their children there. He has known for a year (or more?) about the latest event and waited for the Canadian police before doing anything. Was he protecting the children exposed to this man? The prim and proper may not like the Pokrov approach but at least they are trying to protect the children from an organization that has repeatedly shown that it will not seriously investigate or take action against child molesters in their own ranks. It doesn't matter if the Bishop/Metropolitan is married or not; the real question is does he have a brain, integrity and courage. Obviously not so the predators continue to abuse and the OCA continues its descent into the abyss.
(editor's note: While I will not disagree with you as regards the inappropriateness of the Metropolitan's actions, to use the most neutral term, there is no evidence that the "predators" you mention continue to abuse anyone, and it is certainly not the case that the OCA is continuing its descent into the abyss. Rather, by exposing this, and the problem, the OCA is beginning to deal with it, suggesting we are crawling out of the abyss. Baby steps, but movement nonetheless. I agree much more needs to be done, which is why, for example the recent Midwest Assembly spent two hours in a seminar on preventing sexual abuse at which both clergy and lay delegates listened....)
#28.1 Ex Cult Member on 2010-10-08 04:52
Look, everyone has to admit, the days are over when a bishop is elected for a diocese and "dies in his boots." The OCA has retired so many bishops, that they need their own retirement community. Now, is it just the OCA? NO - the OCA is just bellying up to the "TRUTH." I'm quite sure that among the Orthodox bishops in N. Am. and around the world, there are many skeletons in closets. Many times, these skeletons come out only after their deaths. Years ago, everything was kept quiet and few knew, but with the Internet, it's hard to hide anything. These type of issues only shake our faith, but the reality is, when we look at "the Bishop," we see Christ, not the man. All men are sinners, but only Christ is perfect. So, let's look at the office men represent and understand that it is only through God's Grace that we all are saved from our sins!
#29 Anonymous on 2010-10-07 14:03
I think many are missing the point. This is not about celibacy or homosexuality or monasticism or any of that. Pedophilia is a sickness and depravity that is beyond comprehension - I am saying this as a person who's 4 young children were around Bishop Seraphim around the time of these allegations...think about that for a moment....
then have your debate about married priests.
#30 Sick at Heart on 2010-10-07 21:25
What I'm not seeing in this case are other, newer allegations coming forth about +Seraphim. Sexual predators do not commit one or two acts, they develop a pattern of predation and leave dozens if not hundreds of victims.
I too am a victim of a sexual predator at age 11. Sick at Heart: Were your sons victimized? It would be important for them to come forward.
I'm just not seeing any other allegations being made by other boys and men (or girls and women), or other investigations being opened.
I know +Seraphim and owe my conversion to Orthodoxy to his prayers and encouragement. These allegations have been a huge blow to my spirit. But we must give the investigative process time to work; God is in control. If these young men were truly victimized by +Seraphim, my heart goes out to them. If they weren't, my heart also goes out to them because they are obviously very troubled people.
A Voice from the States
If you want to assume that Vladika Seraphim is a bad man, please yourselves, but on your heads be the judgement. I'm not sure I've always approved of his judgement as a theologian or his choice of whom he ordained, but I've always thought he came across as a kind and gentle man. That of course, doesn't change things one way or another.
A police investigation of allegations is just that. The allegations are serious, it is appropriate that they be investigated. The task is not to prove or to disprove, it is to investigate. Thereafter, we will all have to think about what has taken place, including our own viciousness in face of what is in either case a very sad and destructive event. It seems to me that it does indeed highlight the illnesses within the OCA, but not necessarily or exclusively that of the episcopate.
May God forgive all of us.
#31 liz on 2010-10-09 12:28
The point about having senior 'empty nester' clergy to be bishops as well as actual monastics isn't intended as a magic fix that will protect one and all from clergy abuse. It is, however, more than likely to reduce the number of victims to those prior to the first credible report within the church. There would be no 'letters of apology to the kids you had sex with' and then keep your job as a big-hat. There would be letters of apology and a departure from authority and decision making over others.
People really need to understand that when anesthesia and antibiotics and antiseptics and the Cesearean operation came into the world the category of 'widower priest in his working years' went from commonplace in every town to nearly extinct.
People live in retirement now longer than most people lived altogether on average during the time of all the ecumenical councils. A women who lived into her 20's most likely was raising her dead sister's children. Women as likley as not died before 21, men 25-26. Adult men outnumbered women therefore 2 to 3 to 1. Now does 'no remarriage' make more sense? A man who is old enough to be a father would more likley than not never live to see the children of a second marraige reach puberty much less adulthood.
And, of course, the ordained young never married we see now can't believe their luck-- look what improvment in women's health as done for their job prospects!
In the days before 1900 or so many, many bishops were actual fathers and knew the names of their priests families and there were also real monastics. Not two person 'monasteries' for years and years that now give scandalous appearances as common law 'gay marraiges'.
Anyhow, lots of science in the form of cemetery excavations and whatnot to explain how people lived-- there were no 'retired clergy' because people died. You cut yourself shaving it got infected you died (clergy beards making more sense now?). A tooth got an abcess as often as not you died. Bleeding during childbirth you died.
So, you know, many reading here lived three to four times as long as most lived altogether 100-120 plus years ago. Therefore, nothing has changed since the Ecumenical Councils rule about presently-not-married bishops and neither should we. Things are fine in high places. Right. Our churches are growing and it's all good except for the fewer people thing.
#32 Harry Coin on 2010-10-09 21:24
Christ was celebate and that seemed to turn out well....but that might just be my opinion.
#33 Krista on 2010-10-11 15:43
Does any one know the names of the accusers. I find it odd that there is no mention of them anywhere. The names of those accusing, obviously ready to come forward, have remained anonymous; seems strange. Something very wrong here. You don't run and hide after you make an accusation, especially one as serious as this.
Accussations have ruined many good people. Unless there is evidence that will hold up in a court of law, defaming anyone should be agains the law and I hope that the Orthodox Church takes steps to change this type of accusational abuse by lobbying for a change in the law for protection from scandle until charged.
Even a hug can be taken as abuse and we all need protection from this type of craziness. The ones that make false accusations as a joke should be charged and rehibilitated; at any age. This kind of behavior in youth especially can only esculate.
The process needs mending to protect both parties. I feel that the truth has a better chance of surfacing with proper protection for both parties.
Have Mercy on Us O' Lord, According to Thy great Mercy.
(Editor's note: You are wrong. There is nothing strange about this at all. The names are known to both the police and Church authorities, as well as the Archbishop. Other than that, it is not the policy of most media to report the names of alleged victims of abuse until such time as they appear in court to testify, for obvious reasons. No one has "run away". Nor is this a "joke", nor does it involve "a hug". To demean, even out of ignorance, or pastoral concern for the alleged abuser, an alleged victim's allegations, is to re-victimize them. I am sure that was not your intent - but consider you words carefully.
That being said, there are significant pastoral and legal grounds for handling accusations of abuse in this way, even if you don't like it, or you think it unfair. There is much literature on this topic, which I encourage you to read to learn why things are routinely done this way so that both sides are "protected". )
#34 Stella on 2010-10-14 22:04
I'm trying to figure out who "our Canadian Chancellor" the feared one, is. The only chancellor I find in the OCA website is Chancellor Garklavs. And, I'm extremely vexed that this American Chancellor dared issue a public statement about the allegations in advance of any investigation of the case.
>>Other newspaper reports cite Chancellor Fr. Alex Garklavs, inferring that the Church knew of the allegations well before October 2010. “ Reached by The Globe and Mail Tuesday evening, the church’s Chancellor, Father Alexander Garklavs....declined to say exactly when the church became aware of the allegations, but suggested it had known about them before police became involved. “There were some reports,” he said. “But I can’t say much more than that.”
Fr. Alexander, formerly Fr. Dennis (Pihach).
#35.1 James on 2010-10-19 13:01
Where do you find this information that the names are indeed known to the police, church authorities and the Archbishop? Please direct us to where you found out this fact. Thanks so much.
(Editor's note: OCANews.org does not discuss its sources. But common sense tells you that since the police have interviewed witnesses in both Canada and the USA, the names of the alleged victims must be known to them, otherwise how would they know what witnesses to interview? Similar chains of common sense logic can be produced for the Church and the Archbishop. If your concern is anonymity, rest assured, the allegations were not made anonymously. If you are concerned the Archbishop and the Church know the names, they do. What is really at issue is not their names, but when, and what, did the Church know. If you are trying to find out how I know the Church and Archbishop know the names, nice try.)
#36 Anonymous on 2010-10-19 14:32
Actually I WAS trying to find out how you know the church and Archbishop know the names. What's the big secret about?What about everything being in the light? It seems like various other things are being made so public, why not facts like these? Why pick and choose what is made public? Thank you for acknowledging my questions....They are real questions that I and many others have.
#37 Anonymous on 2010-10-19 16:12
Nondisclosure of the identity of sexual abuse victims is standard practice in many, if not most, jurisdictions, with a few caveats. For instance, the following is from the 'Journalistic Standards and Practices' of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)/Radio-Canada:
3.2.5 IDENTITY OF CRIME VICTIMS
Broadcasting the identity of a crime victim most often only adds to the person's grief, anguish and trauma.
As a general rule, CBC/Radio-Canada does not broadcast the identity of a living crime victim, particularly in the case of a crime against the person such as sexual assault, except in one of the following circumstances:
- the victim consents to the disclosure (in writing or on tape);
- the victim volunteers his or her story for broadcast;
- the public interest is an overriding consideration.
When, without due legal process, an alleged victim accuses someone of a crime against his or her person, CBC/Radio-Canada does not grant the privilege of anonymity to the alleged victim. Furthermore, broadcasting of the accusations is dependent on a thorough review, by program management and the Law Department, of the credibility of the person and of the evidence he or she brings forward. In some instances, revealing the identity of a victim is prohibited by a publication ban.
In other instances, revealing the identity of a young victim is prohibited by law. Generally, other than in circumstances where the young victim is dead, CBC/Radio-Canada does not broadcast the identity of a minor who is a crime victim.
The Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics states the following:
— Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
— Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
There are also Canadian legal principles at play (many of which are mirrored in US legal precedent). See "Victim Privacy and the Open Court Principle" published on the website of Department of Justice in Canada here:
In short, the fact that the police, the OCA and OCANews.org are not revealing the names of the alleged victims is not out of the ordinary.
#37.1 melxiopp on 2010-10-20 07:06
I'll never forget after my life confession in preparation for my baptism into Orthodoxy, Archbishop Seraphim flipped part of his vestment over me and clopped me on the head four times in the shape of the cross while uttering the absolution. I was startled, to say the least.
Far be it from me to demean a victim's allegations, after all, I was a victim of a predator decades ago.
"Anonymous" wrote, "Actually I WAS trying to find out how you know the church and Archbishop know the names. What's the big secret about?What about everything being in the light? It seems like various other things are being made so public, why not facts like these? Why pick and choose what is made public?"
In the US the names of victims of alleged sexual assault are not publicized in the media unless the victim make the decision to go public.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
PS Why are you asking this question anonymously??
The poster was not asking for the names of the victims. The poster was asking for sources for what Mark has stated. Otherwise, we just have to take Mark's word for it. And I trust Mark's telling the truth, but asking for a source sounds fair to me as a general principle.
PS I can't speak for the other poster but I could care less if posters here know my name. The problem is that I don't like my name and postings publicly connected on the Internet.
(Editor's note: Ah, how do I name a source, without giving the name of the source? Suffice it to say " someone close to the investigation"? )
#39.1 james on 2010-10-21 08:00
James wrote, "The poster was not asking for the names of the victims. The poster was asking for sources for what Mark has stated. Otherwise, we just have to take Mark's word for it. And I trust Mark's telling the truth, but asking for a source sounds fair to me as a general principle."
The right of a reporter to protect his confidential sources, even from the authorities, is recognized by the US and many other countries. Without a guarantee of anonymity, many people would be deterred from coming forward and information beneficial to the public interest would not see the light of day.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Right. (There is currently a high-profile case in Canada where the provincial court originally ruled that the reports must reveal his sources.) My "point" is that when using anonymous sources, it "proves" nothing, and what any reader makes of that is based on our trust of his reporting (and common sense). And, for me, Mark has earned that trust. (for others...?)
#40.1 james on 2010-10-22 07:42
Isn't the primary "source" the acknowledgment by the police and the OCA that an investigation is ongoing involving Abp Seraphim over allegations of sexual misconduct? Mark may know more, but the public attestations seem more than enough to affirm that there are at least allegations credible enough to require investigation (which is different than credible evidence justifying arrest, indictment or conviction).
#40.1.1 melxiopp on 2010-10-22 08:38
Although I was curious about the sources...I also was truly wondering if there was an article out there or something that stated to the public and for public access, that I had missed, that stated the church & Archbishop knew the accusers. More just wondering about this and I know it's not the most important thing at this time. Thanks again.
(Editor's note: No, there is no article out there stating what you asked. Yet, one can reasonably infer that both must know their names, as the Church could not even begin an investigation if it did not know to whom to speak, right? Likewise, it is reasonable to assume that if the Church knows, someone told the Archbishop, at the very least. )
#41 Anonymous on 2010-10-22 08:42
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