There is no better example of how the OCA has changed than by reading this latest news. The OCA has come a long way from the days of sending just Fr. Karlgut to Investigate matters.
My all of the other jurisdictions in America finally take note on how to do it the right way.
(Editor's note: I know it is heresy, practically, to suggest that there may be more than one way of doing things right (:)), so I will not comment about others. The important thing is that the OCA itself is trying to do things right again. That's means professionally, timely, and with integrity. Notice that many of the members of the Commission are not members of the OCA.
If the truth is the goal, not being a member of the OCA is no longer a problem. This speaks volumes for the member's generous willingness to help; and for the OCA Synod's wisdom in recognizing they may be bishops, but they are not trained, experienced or even competant in all things. Asking professional lay and clergy to assist investigating a bishop helps insure the integrity and thoroughness of the investigation, and rebuilds sorely needed confidence.)
I am encouraged, as well, that the OCA is being so very pro-active in this, and is making a concerted effort to do things correctly. I worry, however, that our society and our Orthodox culture has gotten to a point that we not only demand perfection, we demand the appearance of perfection. In all too many cases we are too quick to condemn clergy and too slow to find out the real story, forgive, move on, or just do whatever is appropriately called for. As in the days of Salem in 1692, it could well be said of 2010 "There is no accusation so difficult to escape than that of sexual abuse" (a paraphrase of 'accusations of witchcraft') We will condemn anyone accused of it, and too many people care too little if the accused is guilty or innocent. Let us always pray for innocence, truth and forgiveness.
(Editor's note: No one is condemning anyone of anything yet. An allegation does not mean anyone is guilty - or innocent of the allegation. That's the purpose of the investigation. But more importantly, to compare allegations of sexual misconduct to witchcraft is really unhelpful, because to begin with, sexual misconduct does exist, while witchcraft is nonsense. One must take allegations of sexual misconduct seriously; one is not required to take any allegations of witchcraft seriously. To do less, even as you pray for innocence, is to deny the road to truth, and betray the possibility of repentence by the guilty. Not to mention the possibility of helping the healing of the victim, which you did not mention....)
Though I myself do not come down on Seraphim's side, I do hope and pray that the OCA has abandoned its; guilty guilty dump them, blame and deflect pathology. I will hope that the Archbishop get a fair hearing and that all involved will find healing.
So what? This commission wasn't empanelled until the Winnipeg magistrate opened a criminal case investigation. This means nothing. The only investigation that counts is going on in Canada,
This is worthless window-dressing. Seraphim will have his day in court...
(Editor's note: Wrong. Just because a magistrate has opened a case, does not mean that Church should not conduct its own investigation. Nor is it worthless to do so. For example, one of the questions that could be asked of value to the Church, but of no value to a magistrate is "What did the Church know, and when did it know it? Was the response of the Church timely?" These will help the Church do better in the future, if needs be...)
I very much appreciated your comments to the xxx poster. I hope that you as a metropolitan council member will press to see that those questions are, indeed, answered. The questions were raised several months ago, but I believe they should be repeated, "What happened with investigating this matter when it was brought up prior to the last AAC? Why on earth did the Holy Synod not do anything up until this time?
It may just be that the Metropolitan and the administration need to just say, "Sorry, we screwed up. We did a half-hearted attempt at doing an investigation and now we're trying to fix it." It's not very eloquent but it would be nice to hear the truth.
(Editor's note: Repentence is always as welcome as the truth. I will do my best to make sure that these questions are answered - publicly.)
And another question, "What exactly is to be known" is the most important question. If it is true that the "alleged victims" have never come forward and if it is true that they want nothing to do with this investigation by the Winnipeg poilce, then what will be discovered? Is there ANYTHING to discover? Only time will tell.
And what is so wrong with the police taking the lead in an investigation? The OCA responded to the fact that there is an investigation, they followed the rules as set forth by their own Guidelines and now they will do what they are called to do. However it appears that "third parties" can be forth charges enough for an OCA investigation to take place. Could it be that previous rumors with no one stepping forward to make formal charges could answer the question, "when did the Church know?" which might mean they knew not enough to accuse someone without sufficient evidence.
If it is true that all of this is coming from "third parties" Pokrov and an "unnamed Orthodox priest" and not from alleged victims, then what exactly are we dealing with? Again, time will tell.
More hypothetical questions to add to the mix and I pray that the real truth will be uncovered, once and for all.
(Editor's note: Where do you ever get the idea that the alleged victims have not come forward? They have, hence the police investigation. What sort of nonsense are you spouting?)
Where do you ever get the idea that the alleged victims have not come forward?
It has been claimed that the alleged victims had previously refused to come forward to either the OCA or the police thus tying the hands of the Church administration and the police. However, this line of reasoning states this refusal to come forward changed recently and the alleged victims made a formal complaint against Abp. Seraphim. These first-person allegations commenced a police investigation that then allowed/required the OCA to begin its investigation. That is, the OCA's sexual misconduct policies (and perhaps even Candadian or provincial law?) require an allegation by an alleged victim him/herself or a pertient party (e.g., a guardian, teacher, etc.), not a third party's report of an allegation which could be simply gossip or hearsay. I would be surprised if an advocacy group such as Pokrov would be seen, legally, as an organization with 'standing' or first hand knowledge to make such an allegation.
Anyway, this is one line of thought that is out there. Answering the question "What did the Church know, and when did it know it?" is important in understanding whether "the response of the Church [was] timely" - and appropriate, and according to both the spirit and letter of the law and its own policies.
(Editor's note: This one line of thought is in error. Moreover, even if a "third party" ( like a school teacher, or a priest, or doctor) brought forward an allegation, don't you think it beholden on the Church, let alone a school, hospital) to then investigate the allegation, whether than waiting because the " victim" themselves did not contact the principal, hospital administrator or in this case, a chancery directly? Anyway, this is what the the OCA investigation is for...)
I meant to make clear that certain 'third parties', e.g., teachers, doctors, priest, do have a duty to come forward and their direct knowledge or suspicion of sexual misconduct should be grounds for investigation. However, an advocacy group may not be considered objective enough, unless they are speaking on behalf of a victim or one with direct knowledge (e.g., teacher, etc.) That is, if an organization such as Pokrov had only second-hand knowledge of sexual abuse (i.e., hearsay), that information alone might not necessarily be enough to trip either a legal, canonical or administrative investigation.
Again, this is the line of thinking. I have no way of knowing, personally, what Pokrov (or any other person or organization) knew, what its source was, what it communicated to the OCA or to the police, etc.
Personally, I think the Church should not require allegations or proof that rise to a legal standard before action is taken. That is, the police shouldn't act first unless the police were informed first. The Church should act to investigate even a whiff of sexual misconduct, especially when it involves children, even if it took place decades ago - though our canons require investigation of sexual misconduct between consenting adults, too, i.e., adultery and fornication are grounds for discipline and defrocking. Knee-jerk investigations of sexual misconduct rumors should be seen as being done out of an abundance of caution, not as a witch hunt, and done in such a way so as to protect the innocent accused as well as the innocent abused.
(Editor's note: I don't think anyone in this instance thinks the reaction was "knee-jerk". Unhappily, the question seems to be whether these knees have arthritis, preventing any movement....)
The Church should respond in a knee jerk fashion to allegations of sexual misconduct. There's no shame in an excess of care when protecting children - not to mention our own canons regarding sexual fidelity and chastity in the clergy (and the people).