Monday, January 31. 2011
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.... Your Beatitude, haven't you done enough to ruin the OCA? Divide the DOS? Move Syosset? What are you on dude? We love our OCA, we want an American Church, we believe in the Autocephaly, but not you.
#1 The Whale on 2011-01-31 15:40
Dear The Whale,
If you knew anything about the Diocese of the South, you would know that talk about dividing the DOS in two is not new. It has long been envisioned as a normal and natural necessity as the diocese grows, which it is in number of communities. This is not Jonah's idea. So you can check that one off your "Reason's I Hate Jonah List."
Moving Syosset is also not new. Talk of selling Syosset has been around about as long as we have had the property. Ireney hated living there. Theodosius stayed there as little as he could and finally moved out two years before he retired. Moving to Washington was a topic when Kondratick was Chancellor. Locations were looked at in DC. Herman hated Syosset and would have gladly had the chancery moved to DC. His Beatitude believes that DC is the consistent location for the Church to administer from given it is the Primatial See, the capital of the USA and a See that is not a duplication and overlap with other Orthodox bishops. A reasonable person would take this off his "Why I Hate Jonah List" too.
There is no more American Church than the OCA. It is as diverse a group as you will find. Our parishes don't fit any particular mold. We are as different as native communities in Alaska to storefront missions in the South. From old stodgy parishes to new vibrant and somewhat quirky ones. We use a score of languages, serve on two calendars have clergy that like look like they have stepped off the pages of GQ and those who look like they have just "stepped off the boat. But it is wrong to say that because one wears a sport shirt to the grocery store and not a cassock that he is more American - or a priest should not have long hair or should only have short hair. Clergy can dress anyway they like in the OCA. That is unless you want to impose a dress code like another Metropolitan is trying to do in his Archdiocese? Strike this one from your “Why I Hate Jonah” list.
All this talk about Jonah wanting to give up our Autocephaly is nonsense. He does not. He is rather speaking in concert with Metropolitan's and members of the Holy Synod past and present. Metropolitan Theodosius at the All American Council in 1999 when he stated that we would "step aside from our Autocephaly for the greater goal of Orthodox unity and one Orthodox Church in America" was saying the same thing. His comment brought a standing ovation from the assembled delegates.
In the most recent issue of the TOC online, there is a quote from Bishop Dmitri in an address to Patriarch Pimen on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Patriarchate / Moscow, in 1978. In that address he stated, “The Orthodox Church in America is autocephalous not in order to be self-sufficient and isolated, but in order to be in living communion and close contact with all Orthodox Churches… The Orthodox Church in America received autocephaly not in order to be master of Orthodox unity in America but in order to be a servant of this unity.”
It is in this same spirit of being a “servant of this unity” that His Beatitude is pressing forward towards the goal of a unified Orthodox Church in America. And if, as Metropolitan Theodosius stated in 1999 if the greater goal of one Orthodox Church in this land can be realized, we would step aside so that all Orthodox can be united as a local Autocephalous Church. That is a far cry from “giving up our autocephaly. So, you need to strike this one too from your Why I Hate Jonah” list.
In fact, Mr Whale, why don’t you take your time and write something of substance based on fact and spare us your juvenile bar talk and rude comments about the First Hierarch of The Orthodox Church in America.
#1.1 The Harpoon on 2011-02-01 10:30
Wish this would settle all this silly talk, but afraid it won't.
At present, the nay-sayers rule the waves, as it were.
We need to learn the difference between healthy scepticism and mean-spirited cynicism. One is "a-pathetic" and careful not to get carried away on wings of propaganda and fadism; the other is mean, close-minded mistrust riding on a sea of faux populism.
ANY leader's descisions and priorities can be criticized. That doesn't make the criticism valid, and it doesn't make the leader wicked.
Bishops are not in office to do our will.
A shepherd's staff has a crook in it for good reason.
#1.1.1 Rdr. John on 2011-02-01 16:55
in lieu of ocanews installing a "like" button......I "like".....
#1.1.2 antionymous on 2011-02-02 07:03
The clergy "dress code" that you airily disparage comes from the Church. It can be ignored, and generally is ignored; however, it remains the standard against which clergy (visually) are recognized (or not) as clergy. I'll borrow your words to note that this is "substance based on fact."
Other than that ongoing foolishness (which one reads in multiple posts from readers), you submitted a generally sound post. Thanks!
#1.1.3 Antonia on 2011-02-02 08:14
"The Toothpick" would be a more appropriate moniker for your hymn to authority. While "The Whale" might be a bit clumsy in making some of its points, the fact remains that its critique is right on point. This Metropolitan is a disaster for a whole variety of reasons, not the least of which is his willingness to embrace an even more clerical minded church, which I imagine is very much in your interests.
If not, identify yourself!
#1.1.4 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-02-04 08:36
And who is Kenneth R. Tobin?
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2011-02-07 21:20
If the host of this site posts offerings from those who wish not to reveal their identity, then what difference does it make to you? One could ask, "Who is Kenneth R. Tobin?" Just because you sign your name does not truly identify who you are.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2011-02-09 10:58
First, to answer the two idiotic questions posed above (probably from the same person, but we'll never know because they're anonymous), "Kenneth R. Tobin" is the voice of Truth, Justice and the appropriately Orthodox Way. (irony intended for the incurably obtuse). And for anyone following this site over the years, you undoubtedly know more about me than you care to know. Nevertheless, curriculum vitae supplied upon request.
For the record, I am not in favor of censoring anonymous posts, although that remains the prerogative of our editor. I do feel, and have said repeatedly, that anonymity devalues a post at best, and in many cases devalues it to zero. Yes, I can see instances were anonymity is justified, but hardly from the defenders of the status quo who have absolutely nothing to lose other than embarrassing themselves for toadying up to the powers that be.
It never ceases to amaze me that while extolling the heroic and sacrificial witness of so many Christians in the past, today's Orthodox, in many instances, feel they need to take refuge in anonymity.
#22.214.171.124.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-02-09 17:39
Go figure. Tell us about yourself. Where did you come from? Are you born Orthodox? A Convert? (Not that there is anything wrong with that). What parish do you belong to?
Who is Kenneth R. Tobin?
(Editor's note: No one is "born Orthodox". Everyone has to be baptized into the Church. Some of use have been in it longer than others, but then, that means little or nothing.)
#126.96.36.199.1.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-10 15:37
I hate whales, but this one is right! .... Too many people don't agree with where + Jonah is taking the OCA. We aren't moving forward, but backward! It's time for another change!
#1.1.5 Capt. Ahab on 2011-02-07 19:39
The Holy Synod of Bishops recently put to rest concerns about the O.C.A's autocephaly. In short, they said that Autocephaly is final. Mo maximum Autonomy under Russia or anyone else is possible.
Stop worrying about this. H.B Metropolitan Jonah Can't overrule the Holy Synod on this issue. And, I Suspect that H.H Patriarch Kyrill isn't considering repealing Autocephaly.
So once again, Stop worring about this point. The decision has been made. It's final. Move on!
As for moving Syosset, at "some Point," this Must happen. The Chancery should be in the Primate's Home Diocese, and NOT in the Diocese of another seated Bishop.
One day it WILL happen. But, like Autocephaly, the Holy Synod must make a final decision. When the time is right, the decision WILL be made. Until then, H.B. Met. Jonah doesn't have the authority to make this change either.
As for creating a separate Diocese, (perhaps of Eastern America), to better minister to the needs of the Faithful in North and South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, and Georgia, (and possibly Maryland as well), Why are you against it?
What I would suggest is to create the Diocese of Baltimore and the Eastern United States, containing the above mentioned states, and elect elect a Bishop to minister to it.
If the Holy Synod creates the new diocese, and it's seat is in Washington D.C., why would that be a problem?
I believe the O.C.A. Statutes states that the Metropolitan is the Bishop of a Diocese.
Once more, the Holy Synod, and not H.B Met. Jonah will make the final decision.
And I firmly believe that when the choice is made, the faithful within those states will celebrate it, as it will also reduce the area of the Diocese of the South considerably.
Remember that since his election, H.B. Met. Jonah has said that he is for having more bishops and smaller diocese.
Besides, at some point, the diocese WILL be divided anyway. Why wait until it contains 100+ parishes and missions.
His Grace Bishop Mark is presently ministering to the Diocese of the South as Auxiliary to the Metropolitan.
From what I've read on O.C.A.news.org, (in His defense), as many loved him in his "Former" diocese as those who hated him. And hopefully, more supported him than those who wanted him out.
Even if and when he becomes Bishop of Dallas and the South, wouldn't it be a gift to him tho give him a smaller diocese that will grow over time, rather than a huge diocese, in which he may have to make bi or tri-annual Arch Pastoral visits, because the diocese covers 17 States?
Consider these points, before asking what H.B. Met. Jonah is on because he wants to do this.
This actually suggests that He's taking some kind of drugs, and therefore not thinking clearly in this matter.
Isn't this an extreme question/accusation to be asking/making against the Primate of the Church?
Consider your words carefully in the future. As a certain Famous Talk Radio Host frequently reminds us, "Words mean things".
Misusing them can cause tremendous problems. Please DON'T be guilty of that!
#1.2 Mark Sudia on 2011-02-01 12:41
Perhaps Whale's details were a bit askew but his overall message, I believe, is correct. Metropolitan Jonah is not the right person to lead the OCA.
Yes, the Holy Synod did affirm the autocephaly of the OCA. However, it was +Jonah who who caused them to have to affirm it by his comments about giving it up.
Yes, the diocese of the South probably would be better served by two bishops rather than one. But the latest bishop, Bishop Mark, hasn't even had time to get one Pascha under his belt. Why not worry about solving the problems at the cathedral in Washington or the unrest with his administration in Syosset rather than tackling such a broader issue as the Diocese of the South.
Yes, the cathedral of the metropolitan's is the cathedral in Washington, DC. But the OCA is New York corporation, not a Washington, DC corporation. Why is this so hard for everyone? Why didn't they just make the metropolitan of the OCA, the archbishop of New York and ended it at that? No, the egos are so great that the metropolitan has to be the metropolitan of the nation's capital. Give me a break. How about a little bit of common sense. As to former hierarchs not wanting to live there, Metropolitan Leonty (who, God-willing will be canonized a saint in the OCA some day) managed to live there. If a man as blessed as Metropolitan Leonty could live in Syosset, why can't +Jonah? The only reason is pride.
#1.2.1 Anon. on 2011-02-02 09:04
Pride? That is quite a statement. Do you know the heart of His Beatitude? Did you ever meet Met. Leonty? By the time he resided in Syosset, he was a very elderly man, in failing health and Syosset was a peaceful place. It was not the headquarters of the OCA then. It was a big old mansion. Quite. Peaceful. The OCA headquarters were on Second Street and stayed there until after 1970, long after Leonty's repoe. So, yes, it was a residence then. It is NOT a residence now. It is an office with an apartment created for the Metropolitan. Working and living in the same space is not anything that a series of Metropolitans preferred.
Ego? Really. Again, you don’t know Met. Jonah. He may be accused of many things but ego? Hardly. Again, look at the history. Metropolitan Jonah is no different than Ireney, Theodosius and Herman in their dislike for living and working in the same place, in Syosset. It drove Theodosius to distraction and finally he moved out. He should have moved out long before for his spiritual health.
To equate Leonty living there, who I too pray will be revealed as a Saint, as somehow a reason for every Metropolitan to live there is a stretch. Leonty will be canonized in spite of living there!
His Beatitude’s comments on Autocephaly, again, are in concert with previous Metropolitans and Bishops of the OCA. I believe that His Beatitude’s comments laid a very important foundation going forward as confirmed by Pat. Kirill in both public and private meetings with His Beatitude when they met in Moscow. Suffice it to say, we are on very firm ground with our Autocephaly and the correct understanding of it both inside and outside the OCA.
As for why the Metropolitan is Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada? That was by action of the Holy Synod of Bishops who felt that the Metropolitan should have a smaller diocese so that his abundant duties as Primate could be balanced between his diocesan duties. Besides, the recombining of DC/NY/NJ under Herman didn’t work and the Diocese of NY/NJ wanted to be its own diocese again. The Metropolitan is the Archbishop of Washington and that won’t change.
As for the OCA being incorporated in NY, so what? The OCA can re-incorporate in DC very easily. In fact it would be better that it is incorporated properly and not by a “Special Act by the New York State Legislature” which it is now. The OCA can simply move out of NY and reincorporate in DC. This is no reason to be stuck in NY.
Pride? Ego? Nonsense, and just plain wrong.
#188.8.131.52 The Harpoon on 2011-02-04 10:02
Sorry, but your little rant did little to convince me. Like my old dog, you let out a little gas without a whole lot of substance.
Let's take just one of your statements, namely just move the OCA to Washington, DC. Are you going to dissolve the New York corporation? Are you going to establish the new corporation in DC and apply to the IRS so that every church that is currently under the OCA's tax id number be allowed to come under a new one? Are you going to review every single legal document that names the OCA? The Orthdox Church in America would have to change its name and every dollar that was given to the OCA would not automatically transfer over to the new entity. Even the proceeds that might some day come from selling the property in Syosset wouldn't necessarily transfer to the new OCA. Do you even know if the OCA has the right to sell Syosset? And even if this were possible, who, exactly is supposed to pay the accountants and lawyers to get all of this done? What's the OCA's per person assessment now, about $20 per person? Let's see +Jonah go to the well and increase assessments so he can go to a breakfast once a year with President Obama.
The ignorance of statements like "just move to Washington, DC" is truly astounding. They're just empty, ridiculous words with absolutely no intelligence behind them, or to quote a little Don Quixote:
"I sometimes think that all you tell me of knighthood, kingdoms, empires and islands is all windy blather and lies" (Book 1, Part 15).
#184.108.40.206.1 Anon. on 2011-02-07 17:03
Are you kidding me? Is the big bad boogy man IRS going to stop the OCA from moving its headquarters to another state? NO. Did the IRS stop the Presbyterian Church from moving to Ohio about 10 years ago. NO.
One number covers all OCA parishes with the IRS. A letter grandfathering that same number to the new domicle is a matter of paperwork, and yes, lawyers. It happens all the time. And, if not, then a new EIN number is established.
There is nothing sacred about the OCA being in New York. And as for the way the OCA was incorporated, again, this is not some sort of sacred trust with the state of New York forever yoking it to the Empire State.
Gads people, this is not rocket science. Churches can move their headquarters. This is America after all.
(Editor's note: Of course they can. The Lutherans moved to Chicago, the Presbyterians to Kentucky (not Ohio), while the UCC voted to stay in downtown Cleveland and work for redevelopment. The OCA could move as well - but from the second highest price county in the country to the highest is probably not a wise fiscal move; not to mention the legal, real estate, and moving costs involved in such a transfer at this time. The real issue is that this decision for the Synod and MC, not a metropolitan's personal decision. And that ain't gonna change. Nor, I suspect, are the administration hdq's in the near future when everyone has their say.)
#220.127.116.11.1.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-09 20:58
Thank you for your comments, and for your love of the late Met. Leonty (whom I believe to be a saint).
As for the Metropolitan being Archbishop of Washington, the rationale is simpler than just having a smaller diocese to tend. By traditional usage, the primate of an autocephalous Church is ruling hierarch of what is (or was, when the local Church became autocephalous)) the country's capital city (e.g., Constantinople, Moscow, Pec and Belgrad, Antioch, Alexandria, Athens, Sofia, etc.). The capital of the U.S. is Washington, D.C. Ergo...
As for the OCA being incorporated in New York State, reincorporating elsewhere is not a legal impossibility. So the problem is what, exactly (other than the usual piles of paperwork)? I find it weird that some are so intransigent about a relatively simple changing of our legal incorporation from one place to another. Can someone enlighten me as to why?
(Editor's note: It is not a relatively simple matter, given that the OCA is not incorporated as are most charities. Rather, we are incorporated by the legislature of the State of New York, and require legislative action to alter that. Why was this done? Among the reasons suggested, back in the Cold War, was that this would make it ever so much more difficult for the Russian Orthodox Church and its Soviet overlords, to seize the OCA or lay claims on it, as had been the constant case with the former Metropolia. Today, of course, Soviet overlords are gone - but as the recent Synodal rulings of the Russian Church make quite clear, not to mention the recent Synodal rulings of the AOCNA, "autonomy" and "self-rule" are terms of flexible meaning. So, why monkey, it is asked, with a solid legal foundation? As for titles, please. The Patriarch of Antioch lives in Damascus. Alexandria lives in Cairo. Finland lives and is the Archbishop of Kuopio, not Helsinki, and Cyprus is the Archbishop not of Nicosia, but of Nea Justiniana, which is not even in Cyprus ( apart from the fact it no longer exists...) etc. (Conversely, how many bishops are there in Paris, or London, or Berlin, or Vienna or Brussels? Ouch. Titles in the Orthodox Church are of historical as much as actual importance. Hence the Romanian Patriarch is the "locum tenens" of the throne of Caesarea Cappadociae - a place that hasn't existed for what, a 1,000 years now? Well, one could go on, but I think the point is made. There is a wealth of traditions in the Orthodox Church when it comes to Sees, and where one lives as the Bishop of those Sees...)
#18.104.22.168.2 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2011-02-08 06:14
Thank you for shedding light upon the complexities regarding the incorporation of the OCA in the State of New York. This additional information changes the discussion of the proposed move of the Central Church Administration from Syosset to Washington, DC. Perhaps the easiest way to deal with the situation is to do what the OCA apparently does most often: focus on the language of the law, not its spirit.
1. Rent a convenient post office box in the Crestwood/Yonkers area.
2. Change the OCA letterhead to show the P.O. box as the formal address of the OCA.
3. Pay a seminarian or spouse of a seminarian to forward the mail on a daily basis to the Metropolitan's residence in Washington, DC.
4. Sell the chancery property in Syosset, using part of the proceeds to fund that portion of the remodeling/rehabilitation of the Metropolitan's residence in DC equal to the amount of time the Metropolitan will spend functioning as the primate as opposed to functioning as the diocesan hierarch. The rest of the proceeds from the sale of Syosset could be used to establish a "Rainy Day" fund for CCA expenditures.
The end result: the formal address of the OCA remains within the boundaries of the State of New York; the Metropolitan can spend more time within the boundaries of the Diocese of Washington, fulfilling his duties as both primate of the OCA and diocesan hierarch; and the OCA reduces its Chancery operations and maintenance (O&M) expenditures, since the O&M bill would be divided between the OCA and the Diocese of Washington.
(Editor's note: Well, its an idea. I am not sure that the Diocese of Washington, with 7 parishes, is fully capable of "dividing" any "O& M") expenses with the OCA. Have you asked them?)
#22.214.171.124.2.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2011-02-10 06:17
> Fire and replace all existing chancery staff or ask them to move.
#126.96.36.199.2.1.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-02-12 08:11
Your ignorance is showing. It isnt about personal opinion of the Metropolitan. This issue is stated clearly in the canons that the leader of a local autocephalous church reside's in the regions capital. Leave church things to the professionals.
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2011-02-16 22:57
Yes, leave it to the anonymous professionals.
(like Ken Tobin I don't have an issue with anonymity per se. I'm just persistently intrigued by the need for anonymity felt by those seeming to defend the party line/status quo of clericalism. Do you fear that the Metropolitan will rebuke you for defending his views? Or do you think the rest of us will question your motives if you reveal yourself?)
#184.108.40.206.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2011-02-24 14:48
Re: smaller dioceses
I grew up in the GOA...big churches, big bucks, big dioceses...etc.
Having switched over to the OCA a few years ago, I find myself wondering if OCA appreciates what it has - i.e. with it's diocesan structure (real bishops, like em or not).
In the GOA, the bishops are treated like rock stars at best, and feared at worst. And to be honest, "paid off" when you needed something at your parish.
But when i joined the OCA, I was introduced to an entirely new culture. Rather than rock stars, I witnessed people who actually respected the bishops, and bishops who, in turn, were worthy of that respect. I heard stories from good friends about consulting their bishop, to get his blessing, about things like changing a job, moving etc. This was unheard of in the GOA.
I began to understand that, unlike the GOA, the OCA was a smaller organization, where the bishops really acted like bishops in the best sense of the word. They were pastoral, spiritual teachers...who also had the responsibility of administering dioceses.
To be honest, and from personal experience - I have to tell you...this is the way to go. Smaller dioceses mean bishops who are closer to the people. It means people who are closer to their bishops. It means the priests have someone to consult, a spiritual father, when they run into problems.
Anything we can do to reduce the sizes of dioceses, getting more qualified candidates into the Episcopacy, is a good thing. Aside from many practical benefits...long term, we will see a healthier, growing church.
If we are going to criticize Met. Jonah, let's not make it on this issue...because if he believes in smaller dioceses...he is looking out for the welfare of the Church.
Just my opinion.
#1.2.2 Dean Calvert on 2011-02-02 15:49
Thanks for your post Dean. Having been baptized into our Faith in the OCA, and never having been part of the GOA, I respect your perspective. However, some years ago when I had some questions that my parish priest could not answer, I sent letters to 43 bishops in North America, and only Met. Isaiah of Denver had the pastoral inclination to answer my letter. I later had the blessing of visiting with Met. Isaiah on the phone. I do not know about the other bishops in the GOA, but I have a great deal of respect for my Father in the Faith Isaiah.
#220.127.116.11 Marc Trolinger on 2011-02-04 15:19
I don't think anyone can say the bishops in the OCA are better or worse than those in the GOAA, nor can we say the opposite is true. The most positive experience in the OCA would be to have resided in the Midwest Diocese under Archbishop Job of blessed memory, while Dean's experience in the GOAA cannot have been in the Holy Metropolis of Pittsburgh under Metropolitan Maximos, a hierarch of exceptional spirituality.
#18.104.22.168.1 Bruce W. Trakas on 2011-02-14 23:17
My last comment that I personally submitted, was not
published- I hope this one is. In the spirit of
acting like Christians, allow us to NOT be so quick to
judge any accusations and determine
guilt or innocence regarding any stories coming out of
New England. Allow us to ACT Christ like & let this
'play out as it should' In every story, we
usually have 1) story one 2) story two and
3) the truth..
Christ is the only one who can judge here-
#2 Douglas G. Hamatie on 2011-01-31 17:53
I know Fr. Michael, from years back. A good man, a solid pastor. We love you Fr. Michael, and hope and pray you are well and that the truth wins out.
#2.1 Kibbeeman on 2011-02-01 07:46
I pray that Almighty God will extend his comforting hand to Fr. Michael, Kh. Selma and their family. They are loved by many and need our prayers more now than ever. That is what we can do, what we should do and what we will do.
#2.1.1 Chris Farha on 2011-02-02 10:25
I also know Fr. Michael pretty well, and I don't believe he's capable, let alone, guilty of such violence. I know him to be a strong believer in God, one who knows how to comfort others in difficult times, how to offer support to others and how to make people laugh when times get pretty gruesome.
Does this sound like the description they have given? I hope someone is not trying to frame him. I read a month ago that he was on a leave of absence - I think it was in the WORD Magazine.
Let us pray for Fr. Michael to be found innocent and free of all this nonsense, so that he can get back into his ministry of serving others in God's Church.
How about we stop telling God to come through with our preferred outcome and pray instead that justice be done and the truth comes out.
"Lord, have mercy," seems to cover it all, doesn't it?
#22.214.171.124 Scott Walker on 2011-02-04 08:02
I think the editor's of this site should consider the sentativity of the individual and their families that could be hurt, anyone could make a charge a false charge can hurt someone more than the truth.
The ultimate Judge is christ.
LEt all pray for Fr. Michael and hois Family that these false charges will be withdrawn!
(Editor's note: The Worcester Telegram reported charges: no one has stated they were true or false. That will be for a jury to determine - not you or me. Until then, please remember that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but that does not make the charges "false", nor should they be withdrawn if they are indeed "true". Rather, let us pray for justice, repentence where needed, and healing for all. )
#2.2 Anonymous on 2011-02-01 09:01
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has made the decision to prosecute Father Michael Abdelahad. The Worcester police investigated and determined that crimes were committed. The district attorney examined the evidence gathered by the police and filed charges. The next step in the process is the trial, but it should be acknowledged that the allegations have already passed the scrutiny of two sets of law enforcement professionals.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
I think it is important here to use correct terminology and define those terms. In criminal cases, the police and prosecutors (district attorney, State or Commonwealth attorney, whatever the proper title) are charged with investigating allegations by gathering and reviewing evidence. It is the prosecutor who has the duty and obligation to file and pursue criminal charges when it is appropriate, in his or her discretion. The legal and constitutional standard for a prosecutor to file charges and seek an arrest warrant is "probable cause" which can be defined as whether a reasonable and prudent person would believe that a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit, a crime. It is a far lower standard than that which is required legally and constitutionally at trial, which is "beyond a reasonable doubt". The legal definition sometimes creates more questions than it answers, but is generally defined as proof of such a convincing character that a juror must be willing to rely on it and act on it in the most important of affairs. It does not mean absolute certainty, as there are very few things that are known with absolute certainty. Remember also, that for a conviction in a criminal trial, the verdict of 12 (6 for certain lesser crimes) jurors must be unanimous.
Our system is not perfect, but in my opinion, it is the best system devised by man to try to ascertain the truth in these matters. Those of us that do not have knowledge of all the facts owe it to all of those involved in this case to allow the criminal justice process to work. A fair trial is essential to everyone, not just the accused. I believe our duty as Orthodox Christians, as our Editor so succinctly put it, is to "pray for justice, repentence where needed, and healing for all."
#126.96.36.199 David Najjar on 2011-02-04 09:20
You truly remind me of Madame Defarge. You love this stuff when priests and bishops are accused of horrendous acts; true or untrue. Do you knit?
In the case of Fr. Michael Abdelahad - he is completely innocent as the trial will show. The only thing remaining will be:
"Where does one go to get their reputation back?"
(Editor's note: Once could ask the same of any victim, whose veracity is questioned by people who were not present at the alleged incident and decry their allegations. Where do they go, friend?)
#188.8.131.52 Any Moose on 2011-02-09 15:43
I happen to know that Melanie most certainly does NOT love this stuff. She wishes she no longer felt the need to play the crucial role she plays in exposing clergy abuse and cover up.
Imagine if your children had been sexually abused by clergy. Sexually abused as in a clergy person putting their hands on your child for their own sick sexual fulfillment. Do you have any idea the impact of that on a child and his or her family?
I am in awe of Melanie and Cappy and their efforts to try to protect others from going through the hell they have been through and to try to bring accountability and change.
Has anyone in the Church ever asked them how they are or how their children are? No.
#184.108.40.206.1 Kristi Koumentakos on 2011-02-10 09:08
Please remember that this victim is not prosecuting Father Michael (you can say the same in the case of Archbishop Seraphim). It was the victim’s responsibility to report the crime. It is the state that has conducted the investigation and collected evidence and has decided to go ahead with this case. If these were simply false allegations with no evidence, the state would have dropped the case long ago. Also it is not the victim's responsibility to prove the case; it falls on the State of Massachusetts to prove the charges.
I’m sure Father Michael was a great priest to a lot of people. That is not the issue here. The issue is whether he raped and assaulted someone, a crime in the state of Massachusetts.
For all you people showing unconditional support for the accused. Please know that the burden of proof to get a DA to even bring a rape case to trial is pretty high in Massachusetts. There must be some compelling evidence.
Secondly, please remember whenever you say things like that without firsthand knowledge, you are running the risk of calling a victim a liar. Do you have any idea how hard it is to go to trial after being raped and beaten? Do you know how hard it is to have trust ripped away from you like that?
If you are going to consider the families involved, please remember that there is more than one family involved in this kind of situation. The accused and the victim's.
You just wouldn't write stuff like that if you'd ever been victimized or close to a victim.
Unfortunately for most victims, Christ is the only judge who ever gets to even hear their case.
Not everyone is who they seem to be. Christ is on the side of the downtrodden. Make sure you're not doing any extra stomping, even if it feels like supporting.
#2.2.3 Anonymous on 2011-02-02 11:41
I agree, Douglas, that we need to wait and see where some of these events and accusations lead. An accusation is definitely not the same as reality (please remember the RC cardinal of Chicago who was accused, for years, of molesting a young man, only to have the young man recant and say it never happened).
I disagree, however, in that all judgement resides in Christ (even while the ultimate judgement does). We have a system of law and order and under this system a person is judged based on the evidence. But I would suggest that we wait and see what ALL of the evidence points to, not just some pieces or accusations here and there.
Finally, there is also a judgement of history. While we cannot see the final judgement of God in our life time, we can see a bit of what history reveals to us.
I just feel a great sadness in all of this. It is just a shame that we and Christ's Holy Church have to be burdened with these issues. I wish it were not so.
#2.3 Sean O'Clare on 2011-02-01 10:41
Sean O'Clare wrote, "An accusation is definitely not the same as reality (please remember the RC cardinal of Chicago who was accused, for years, of molesting a young man, only to have the young man recant and say it never happened)."
However, Cardinal Joseph Bernadin was not being prosecuted by the state of Illinois, he was being sued by the young man, Steven Cook.
Moreover, the overwhelming majority of abuse disclosures prove to be true.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
So maybe jumping on the "he's guilty" bandwagon is not a move Melanie and others should make because right now, these are allegations. By Melanie's own reckoning, odds do sometimes play to the accused as actually being innocent. That can mean that Fr Michael has been wrongly accused (something some of us are quite sure of), but in a misguided desire for justice, too many people are taking media stories as fact. And given the bias against any clergyman accused of anything, some innocent men are getting trashed. Like Fr Michael.
Lord, have mercy.
#220.127.116.11 Another anon on 2011-02-04 14:53
Pokrov has taken guilty until proven innocent to a new level.
#18.104.22.168.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-02-07 21:58
On the other hand, for those of you so eager to defend, had the meetings been held in plain view of others, the conversation here would be mute.
There are few rewards in this life for stupidity.
My father was an on call social worker for a county on Wisconsin. On those occasions when juvenile females were in his care, my mother was always along.
I still don't believe it is right for pokrov to host an accused page. Unless of course they'd like to accuse large corporations when they behave improperly...it'd be tough to fund compared to picking on old priests; I digress.
#22.214.171.124.1.1 Daniel e fall on 2011-02-09 17:16
Do you want your most personal conversations with your priest held in open spaces? How about the priest trying to protect the privacy of someone who has real problems? Noble efforts are tragically manipulated and end up with manufactured allegations. Sad that good and honest priests (however they might over-estimate their abilities to help ill people) can end realizing they did need cameras and video to defend themselves!
#126.96.36.199.1.1.1 Another anon on 2011-02-11 07:33
At this point, this case is beyond the scope of the families, parish community or even the archdiocese.
The jury will decide.
Thank God we live in a land with a Constitution and laws.
#2.4 Iskandra Tannous on 2011-02-01 15:21
Splitting up the larger dioceses seems like a very good idea to me. The Dioceses of the South, the West, Canada, and Alaska all seem way too big for one person to cover, especially without auxiliaries. I can also see some advantages to a larger synod of bishops.
#3 Morton on 2011-02-01 11:13
I would think the Midwest could be included here, too. Cincinnati to north of Minneapolis to Minot to St. Louis is a lot of ground to cover!
#3.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2011-02-02 08:42
Leadership and dictatorship are not one and the same thing. It is astonishing that some hierarchs think of themselves and emperors or kings. Perhaps abolishing these goofy mitres, modeled after the Byzantine Emperors' crown, would help bring some of our hierarchs a little closer to having their feet on the ground. We are so concered with our ecclesiastical jewelry and exquisite brocades that perhaps they make us flat a bit to high in our fantasies about ourselves. While we are at it, the Greeks and others might want to get rid of the imperial thrones they look down on the people from. Let them go the way of the long dead empire that we are still in bondage to.
Well said Father Lazar. We have an opportunity to rediscover and reconstitute the conciliar and "Apostolic" model in Church leadership in the New World. As an Apostolic Church we will be far more able to share the beauty of the true Gospel with those who seek the way to truth and life, if we move away from the imperial traditions that are neither holy, nor apostolic. Our true leaders in the Faith are our humble Father Bishops, Father Presbyters, and Father Deacons; not some imperial officers.
#4.1 Marc Trolinger on 2011-02-01 15:02
You are entitled to your opinion but the clothes don't make the man. A true shepherd could be dressed in a shopping bag and be able to lead his flock and just because a bishop is dressed in Imperial garb, does not make him more of a shepherd.
So let's stop dressing them in fine vestments, or vestments at all? Let's stop kissing their hand, calling them Master? Shake hands and not ask for a blessing? We can call you Pastor Laz! How's that?
The last time I checked, one of the important reasons people come to the ORthodox Church is because of the sense of awe and the sense of the sacred in Orthodox worship. This includes the sacramental priesthood of Christ in the person of the bishop. He is our High Priest and King and this is sacramentally incarnated in the Priesthood.
Orthodoxy is not a long dead empire.
Exactly where is this latent anger of yours coming from? What is your real point? What would you like Orthodoxy to look like? Stripped of its worship beauty? Utilitarian in its approach? Cut to the bone because some bishops act like pompous asses? Some do, other don't. Picture the late Patriarch Aleksy II and Patriarch Pavle.
#4.2 Anonymous on 2011-02-01 15:35
You are indeed right that cloths do not make a man. It is also true that some folks are drawn to Orthodoxy because of the beauty of our services and churches, to include the rich vestments that our clergy wear while serving. On the other hand, it is equally true that we did not always have the same modality. The early Church, for example, did not have imperial robe and crowns--even though we did have distinctive vestments for the clergy. The early Church, ulike the present one, grew at a much faster pace, not that I am drawing more than a correlation here. So, I suspect not much will be lost if we were to make the crowns and vestments less "imperial." Indeed, I have seen vestments in some overseas churches that are not gold-brocade but simply cotton/linen ones with some embroidery. As for using "imperial" honorifics for our bishops, I am aware of the etiquette but I will not use them if I can get away with it because I will have no part in continuing such practice, particularly when boundaries are crossed (such as the "All Holy" appellatin that is used for one particular Patriarch).
#4.2.1 Carl Kraeff on 2011-02-04 12:46
Okay. Perhaps the retired Archbishop Lazar would like to start things off by publicly forsaking and then burning (so as to dispose of these churchly items properly, of course) his own beautiful mitres and sakkoi?
#4.3 ejv on 2011-02-01 17:15
This response and 4.2 to Archbishop Lazar's post are both gross over reactions. The clear point made was to differentiate between imperial traditions and true Holy Apostolic Traditions regarding our leadership and worship. Our beatiful Divine Liturgy with Holy Apostolic vestments and worship forms would not suffer if the mitre, throne, and eagle rugs were not included when our bishops are present. Our sense of Church family would likely be enhanced if our bishops were to be addressed as father, instead of grace, eminence, beatitude, etc. These changes could help seekers of the ancient Christian Faith to feel more at home in the Church.
#4.3.1 Marc Trolinger on 2011-02-04 11:55
Thank you, Archbishop Puhalo. Many years.
How about we lose the fez first?
It looks like a Shriners convention when the bishop comes to town.
I'm not clear why Christ requires His priests to wear a token of authority from the Ottoman Empire.
#4.4 Scott Walker on 2011-02-04 08:08
Both the OCA and the ROCOR need smaller dioceses! I'm not a fan of how the AOANA is run under Metropolitan Philip, but its dioceses are very appropriately sized - 30 to 40 communities is a manageable size. Numerically huge dioceses like the OCA's Midwestern and South[east]ern Dioceses or the ROCOR's Eastern American Diocese just aren't healthy - how can one bishop adequately care for such large flocks?
(Editor's note: Health is not determined by size, and while I will not speak to ROCOR or the South, I can speak about the Midwest diocese, and to say its "just not healthy" is simply wrong. It is problems, failings, opportunities for growth - but that is quite different from being "unhealthy". Nor did anyone feel inadquately cared for by our former Archbishop. On the contrary. The problem with smaller dioceses - which I too have always advocated - is that they are not financially viable. It takes 50-60 parishes to support a hierarch. )
Another good reason for a unified Orthodox Church in North America. But until them, a diocese could have many fewer parishes to be financially viable, in the 50 range, if they were tithing parishes and tithing to their diocese.
Financially dioceses like the Midwest are not healthy. Declining financially supporting members using a head tax is a recipe for decline. Let's face it, the midwest had to cut the position of secretary to the archbishop because there was not enough money. The budget in the midwest goes down annually.
Of course, the health of a diocese is more than its finances but until as dioceses and OCA we finally face the issue of tithing we will not take advantage of great talents we have in the parish, diocese and Church. We will continue to miss opportunities.
Again, IMHO, lets deal with the real question why we have overlapping dioceses in parallel jurisdictions that expose bad stewardship and unnecessary waste.
#5.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-01 15:46
"but its [AOANA] dioceses are very appropriately sized"
There is only one diocese in the AOANA which encompasses the continent. I would say that is a bit large.
#5.2 Anonymous on 2011-02-01 16:50
Touche! But having a cadre of auxiliary bishops helps. Never mind that it is not Orthodox Christian.
#5.2.1 Marc Trolinger on 2011-02-04 14:18
The problem with smaller diocese is that there are not enough qualified celebate clergy. If we returned to the model of the early church and allowed married bishops (after all, the Bible speaks of bishops who have been married once ... not priests, by-the-way) then some of the issues will be resolved (yes, I know, not all of the issues)
#5.3 Sean O'Clare on 2011-02-01 17:09
I don't think the marriage issue will be changed anytime soon and that is only being broached because of another problem.
So there are two reasons why dioceses are large: not enough celebates to qualify and not enough parishes to support. But both of these are directly related to jurisdictional confusion. Of course there aren't enough parishes in a small region -- if you only count one diocese. Of course there aren't enough celebates -- if you only cull them from one diocese.
We're going to have these large dioceses as long as we have the present system.
#5.3.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-04 11:32
The Editor is absolutely correct as to how many parishes, at minimum, it takes to support a Bishop (or, in other ecclesiastical polities, a regional overseer of whatever sort). Roman Catholics and Anglicans have much smaller regional dioceses, yes, but these tend to have 60-100 parishes. Unfortunately, there currently aren't enough Orthodox parishes in North America to make a strictly regional cluster of them viable as an independent diocese (that is, outside perhaps of major cities and former immigration destinations) -- and this is not even taking into consideration the jurisdictional divides that separate parishes otherwise within a mile of each other. Perhaps some day, if we do our job right!
#5.4 ejv on 2011-02-01 17:29
The DOS is huge only in terms of geography. The most recent census I remember still shows the DOS with somewhere around 2300 adult members. (You can find individual Roman Catholic parishes with more adults than that.)
It is no coincidence that Fr Fester is being sent to DC, with the "richest" (financially) part of the DOS, particularly the Carolinas Deanery, being allocated to that proposed diocese. I'm sure the talk about reinstating Kondratick will begin very soon.
Yes, there's a certain logic in dividing the DOS to make the distances more manageable, and perhaps there's some logic in moving OCA HQ to DC (although the cost, likely to reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, of doing so, plus the little technicality that our NY State charter requires us to be in New York City -- which we "bend" already, certainly puts a lot of hurdles in the way, for benefits that are marginal at best, seems inappropriate). What we need is leadership, without more cover ups, without more PR games, and without the gold paint on the turd. Get to work to fix our current mess, and maybe we can talk about this in 20 years.
(Editor's note: 2300? The Catholic parish in my township has 8.000 members - bigger than any diocese in the OCA.)
#5.5 John on 2011-02-01 20:47
The adult membership of the DOS is 2300+. That figure is dictated by the OCA defintion of membership. In the DOS the actual size of the total membership is closer to 4000, that is adults, children, people we minister to within at least three concentric circles from OCA definition of membership, children, and affiliated membership (those who attend on a semi-regular basis, contribute to a parish, and in some cases enough to be counted as OCA members because they give enough to the parish to be counted, who in other dioceses are not counted.)
As for Fr Fester going to DC, your speculation is off base. There is no connection whatsoever between him going there and the expansion of the DC diocese into the South. This is not a move that has support in the DOS and Fr Fester has spoken against it. So, you can speculate all you want, but you are incorrect in your conclusion.
#5.5.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-04 10:15
I have attended and visited vibrant parishes in the Midwest, but overall I don't feel that it's in a great place (signs of hope aside). Those are just my impressions though! Archbishop Job was an exceptional man - a lesser one would have left the diocese in a much worse place I fear.
Perhaps 45ish-community dioceses would be a good goal for the OCA's territorial dioceses?
#5.6 Anonymous on 2011-02-02 00:02
It takes 50-60 parishes to support a hierarch.
Really? The Diocese of the South could probably support 3 or 4 hierarchs (well) with its current system of parish tithing ... and there aren't but about 60 parishes in the diocese as it is.
As it is, the surplus cash goes to mission endeavors, building projects, savings etc.
#5.7 Anonymous on 2011-02-02 20:23
Before imagining that the DOS financially could support 3-4 bishops, please do your homework. Determine how many of the DOS priests MUST hold an outside job, and how many DOS matushki MUST work outside of the home in order for their families to be decently clad, well-nourished, safely housed, and possessed of appropriate medical/dental insurance. I pray that the situation is not so bad as it was when my family first entered the DOS/OCA in 1985; however, I still know of unacceptable economic situations for some clergy families.
#5.7.1 Antonia on 2011-02-07 07:40
No, I think you've sized it up pretty well. And it hasn't changed.
#188.8.131.52 Matushka on 2011-02-08 11:57
Mark: While I agree you have to weigh the financial viability of small geographical dioceses, it is a fact that the enormous travel burdens were terribly hard on +Job.
(Editor's note: This was made more difficult by his aversion to flying, and insisting on driving everywhere.)
#5.8 Michael Strelka on 2011-02-03 07:12
I have read and reread the Worcester Telegram and continue to be in disbelief. It's much harder to see it than it is to hear it. I have read all comments on the Telegram as well as Boston news stations and they appear to be from the same person. All the judgement not only of this woman but of others needs to stop, we will never, ever heel from this if we continue to argue, finger point and accuse each other of wrong doings that we know nothing about. We have had a very tumultuous year in our church and we need to understand that this issue has nothing to do with any of the previous issues in the church. Fr. Milad has graciously accepted the position as head Pastor of St. George Worcester, let's wrap our heads around that, welcome he and Kh. Nichole with open arms, no judgement but plenty of love that we all have but have not shown, lets be the family that we were taught to be. We were taught to love, respect and care for one another by Fr. Ephraim, Fr. Michael, Dn. Seraphim, Dn. Antony, the choir, the chanters and everyone in between.
There are 3 truths here, his, hers and the truth, we may never know the truth but we do know they both have families, children, spouse, parents, friends, let's all try to be kinder more Christian to each other, it works.
#6 Very Sad on 2011-02-01 14:42
Anyone watching the Weather Channel? +Nathaniel wouldn't be able to get to DC for a "meeting" even if he wanted to be there.
Sante Fe for a meeting? How about the Days Inn at an airport?
#7 Anonymous on 2011-02-01 15:44
Interesting account of Met. Jonah 'insisting' on a meeting. Abp. Nathaniel seems to want nothing to do with it.
While the Metropolitan seems to want single-handed control over the location and staffing of the chancery, the Statute is quite clear that these kinds of decisions belong to the Holy Synod, with the Metropolitan Council also participating. See Article 2, section 7, article m, which enumerates the following as a competency of the Synod:
"Appointment, upon recommendation by the Metropolitan Council, of the Chancellor, Secretary, Treasurer, and other officials whose competence or service extend beyond the boundaries of a single diocese;"
Also interesting that this "insisting" happened right after the Metropolitan returned from the farewell to Fr. Fester in Dallas. Makes one wonder who is doing the "insisting."
Your Beatitude, I believe you to be an honest, well-meaning, prayerful man. Please consider that you may not be listening to the best advice.
#8 Rebecca Matovic on 2011-02-01 17:41
Let's finally face it, Abd Nathaniel is a member of the OCA in name only. He would rather end his days with the Romanian Patriarchate... Let those parishes in the Episcopate stay who want to and let the rest who would rather be Romanian first, follow Popp.
#8.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-07 21:18
What? Change the boundaries of an Orthodox diocese? Why, the GOA teaches the number of Metropolitans and diocese is fixed in God-given marble and cannot be changed! Nevermind the bishop's diocese is so large the great spiritual father of 'his' clergy couldn't pick who the priest's family is out of a crowd in most cases.
It's a dangerous precedent, this ability to assess and change. Museums never change. What are you thinking?? Going to make it very hard for the rest of us again... First autocephaly, then retiring dubious leadership, now changing diocese sizes. Probably going to start encouraging new parishes next. O the times, the morals!
#9 Harry Coin on 2011-02-01 20:16
While I agree with Mark that we should ultimately wait and see what transpires in a court of law, let me take this opportunity to say something about my classmate from seminary, Fr Michael (Charles) Abelahad! The man I knew in those years (and since) is totally incapable of committing the atrocities ascribed to him! I would unhesitatingly vouch for his impeccable character even now, under these circumstances! Take it for what it's worth, but I know the man very well, and he is not the type who would act in this manner! My prayers are with him, his wife, Selma, and their children, as well as the person who perpetrated these charges against him!
(Editor's note: Obviously you did not agree with what I said. Protestations of guilt or innocence are equally inappropriate in a public sphere; if you want to offer support, as a friend, it is best done privately.)
#10 David Barrett on 2011-02-01 21:12
I have to respectfully disagree with you on this point. While what I wrote may constitute, as you said, "support, as a friend," I also believe it constituted what might be called a "character reference," which, I believe, is appropriate to state publicly. Just saying!
#10.1 David Barrett on 2011-02-05 10:21
Fr. Abdelahad is completely innocent. This was a counseling session gone wrong with a very unstable person. Attention those who counsel - use security cameras and witnesses!
#11 Anonymous on 2011-02-02 09:35
An anonymous source declares, "Fr. Abdelahad is completely innocent."
Without prejudging this case, I do confess my strong suspicion---all along---that Father Abdelahad is innocent of these accusations.
Over my nearly half-century in the pastoral ministry, I have been obliged to take special care on those occasions when it seemed that I was dealing with a neurotic or otherwise unstable person. I am confident that a good number of priests, reading these lines, know exactly what I mean.
Security cameras in the pastor's study strike me as a bit over the top, but a creative imagination may suggest other precautions available to a pastor who is concerned about these matters.
#11.1 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2011-02-04 09:47
An interesting point has been raised regard video-taping Counseling Sessions. Last Summer I was in a Starbucks in Paris, I gave the clerk 10 Euro for a Espresso, he claim gave him 5 Euros; once they review the video I was proved correct got my correct change and they comp my Espresso!
.... There is a larger issue here which would be prudent for discussion or comments from our editor, Clergy, Lawyers or any one else.
Should Clergy Video tape everything meeting from confession, to Counseling session and if so does that violate my right of confidentially; especially with a Video record of it? Have merchant to preve3nt con’s and thief is one thing, but to protect clergy from False Charges may seem prudent but that violate the individual right for confidentiality?
A few years ago I was Parish Council Chair of our Parish, my Priest called me one day to ask me to come to the office while he have a counseling session: I sat in the next office; I think Clergy need to take steps to protect themselves, while keep intact the confidentially of the session s well: this may eb a fine-line and worth discussion!
#11.1.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-08 10:21
Jon Marc, I must disagree about the size that you say are needed to maintain a hierarch. If these men are really monks, they can survive on about $50K per year. If the diocese provides a chancery and housing, then $50K will go a long way. Throw in travel stiipends (whch would be less for a bishop who covers one state) and you'd see more evangelism and archpastoral care.
#12 George Michalopulos on 2011-02-02 10:35
I've survived on less than $20,000 a year for a couple of years now (one of the blessings of graduating with a history degree in our economy), so I couldn't agree more . Please note the comment was Mark Stokoe's, not mine. I haven't had the chance to review diocesan finances, but depending on how those work out I still think somewhere around 30 or 40 parishes/monastic communities would be a healthy size for a diocese.
History is fully of people who were thought to have been incapable of committing certain crimes. We must wait for the verdict and support and pray for the Abdelahad family.
I do ask myself though, why did this take so long to come out. Were there people who had suspicions in the Church and looked the other way. Surely if things were happening in the Cathedral, someone would have heard, noticed something since 2007.
#13 Anonymous on 2011-02-04 10:24
Fr. Michael Abdelahad's court date was today, just an arraignment. The troubling part was there were other orthodox priests as his supporters there in court with him. I find that in very bad taste. I thought these priests were supposed to be there for us, all of us, without judgement. It seems to me that the priests in the North American Antiochian Self Ruled churches are only out for themselves and not the parishioners. This woman is a parishioner, those priests should not have gone to court to support him. Very very sad.
Did Fr. Michael have cameras and witnessess while he was counseling this woman, it sounds like you know something that you should share wth the group.
#14 Very sad on 2011-02-04 11:40
I respectfully Disagree!
Fr. Michael is a well respected PRiest within the AOCA and within the PAn-ORthodox World, in fact He is on the Board of Holy trinity Nursing Home (Pan ORthodox Nursing Home in worcester, AM), and St. Vladimir Seminary. For his brother PRiest to eb there to show their moral support is nothing wrong. In fact several parishioners did the same.
Regarding Video Camera in Priest Office, as a lay-person I have some mix opinions:a Priest need to protect himself, however if I am speakign with my Priest on a private matter I would not want any recording of it as well.
#14.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-07 17:03
"Very sad" writes:
"Fr. Michael Abdelahad's court date was today, just an arraignment. The troubling part was there were other orthodox priests as his supporters there in court with him. I find that in very bad taste."
It is a common thing for priests to sit in court with accused people. Over the past half-century I have done it several times. It is a normal part of the pastoral office.
#14.2 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2011-02-07 18:21
So a priest, in this case Fr. Abdelahad, is not entitled to have anyone in his corner in his time of need (guilty or not?)
(Editor's note: Of course he is "entitled" to the support and ministry of his friends, guilty or not. The issue in question is how to balance, so as not to give the appearance of prejudgement, the role of the Church in allegations between alleged victim and alleged abuser, especially when the latter is a clergyman. To have 5, 10, other clergy publicly siding with the alleged clerical abuser even before a trial, would give anyone pause about the Church's prejudgement in this case, and legitimately raise questions as to whether the ministries of the Church were offered to all equally, or could even be trusted to deal with such allegations. The issue is not what ministry one does in private, but what ministry one does in public; and which is best done in which manner. )
#14.3 antionymous on 2011-02-08 04:35
Mark Stokoe writes:
"The issue in question is how to balance, so as not to give the appearance of prejudgement, the role of the Church in allegations between alleged victim and alleged abuser"
Actually, this is very good consideration.
The last time I sat in court with the family of an accused parishioner, I made a special point to cross over to the family of the victim (of vehicular manslaughter) to express my condolences and to offer whatever help I could give.
I am sorry to say that my parishioner, who was guilty as hell, got only one year in the city jail. During that time, I visited him regularly. When he was released after a year, we never saw him again in church.
After the trial, however, the widow of the victim wrote me a letter, expressing her gratitude for the extension of my pastoral ministry to her family.
#14.3.1 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2011-02-09 14:15
---+ Jonah keeps pushing for this. Why doesn't he just resign?---
Study initiated to discern pros and cons of moving the OCA Chancery to Washington, DC
BETHESDA, MD [OCA] -- At a meeting held at Saint Mark Church here on Wednesday evening, February 3, 2011, a variety of issues associated with a possible move of the Orthodox Church in America's Chancery to Washington, DC were reviewed.
On behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops, His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, chaired the meeting. Also in attendance were Archpriests Alexander Garklavs and Eric G. Tosi, OCA Chancellor and Secretary respectively; Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer; and representatives of the Metropolitan Council, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, and the Diocese of Washington.
"The subject is one that has been proposed and discussed for many, many years," said Bishop Benjamin. "The meeting was of an exploratory nature, aimed at discerning objectively the pros and cons of such a move."
The committee will undertake a full study of a move, taking into consideration the costs involved in retaining the Chancery offices in their current location in Syosset, NY vs. operating in Washington; potential legal ramifications; and the role of the Diocese of Washington in supporting the Metropolitan in his position as diocesan bishop; the practical aspects of operating the Church as well as historical considerations for the OCA; etc.
"A report will be prepared after a complete and thorough study," Bishop Benjamin added. "The report will be presented to the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council for review and guidance."
No deadline has been established for issuing the report.
#15 Anonymous on 2011-02-05 08:41
Re: Syosset move to Wash, DC
+ Jonah wants to unite the OCA with ROCOR & the Patriarchal churches under an acceptable leader. What do you think all the hoop-de-la regarding + Hilarion is all about? Along with moving the hdqrts for this united Russian-American Church to Wash, DC where it will be run by monks.
#16 Anonymous on 2011-02-05 09:20
The only motive I can see is to be closer to the Russian embassy for the sake of convenience. Met. Jonah, like another of his colleagues in seeking rapprochement and union with a neo-communist church & regime which would be a tragedy for American Orthodox believers. During the Cold War, many members of the patriarchal Romanian-Orthodox clergy were quite cozy with their "colleagues" at the Romanian Embassy in Washington. Do American Orthodox churchmen really need to emulate Old World national churches and their dictatorial leaders controlled by neo-communist governments?
(Mr.) Carmen D. Valentino
Descent of the Holy Spirit Romanian Orthodox Church (OCA)
Elkins Park (Phila.),PA
Ethnic Heritage Commissioner,State of Pennsylvania,1990-94
#16.1 Carmen D. Valentino on 2011-02-07 18:47
Which monastery will provide the monks? Will ROCOR or the Moscow Patriarchate provide the monastics? There is no monastic community in the DC area.
(Editor's note: But there are monastics. There are nuns attached to the Cathedral, no? And at least one male monastic has been about there as well... )
#16.2 Mark C. Phinney on 2011-02-09 04:43
Thank you for reminding me that there are nuns now associated with St. Nicholas Cathedral. Are they to replace Fr. Alexander and Fr. Eric as Chancellor and Secretary of the OCA as Anonymous 16 implies?
Please excuse my denseness, to which monk do you in your editorial comment? I know of one unmarried priest attached to the cathedral, but I have never heard him referred to as a priestmonk.
(Editor's note: The monk is question was named Fr. Symeon, who was not, I believe, officially attached to the cathedral, but resident in one of the homes belonging to the cathedral. As for re-staffing the church administration, you would have to ask Anonymous #16 about that. I think the analogy was being made to the situation in the Czech church where Russian monks and nuns have been brought in for staffing of church administration offices in Prague. )
#16.2.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2011-02-10 05:52
Mark, Fr. Michael Abdelahad was arraigned yesterday and I have some questions of the faithful here.
1. Should counsel members be at the arraignment on the side of the defendant? Or should they not attend because they are here for EVERYONE including the accuser.
2. Should any clergy be in the courtroom on the side of the defendant? or should they not attend because they are here for ALL of us as well.
I am very confused, I thought the counsel and the priests are here for all of us, not just the clergy? If this is the way this is going to go, I don't want to be a part of this archdiocese any longer.
(Editor's note: Clergy, like everyone else, have the right to attend court, and indeed, the right to show support for their friend in that venue. Don't we value loyalty? At the same time, is it pastorally prudent or wise in this context, given the conflation of friendship and rank? I think people could disagree, but you raise a valid point that should be considered.)
#17 -Sinner on 2011-02-05 17:18
Attention clergy:VIDEO RECORD YOUR COUNSELING SESSIONS! Always have someone near by. It will also be interesting to see what transpires in the + Seraphim case. The RC's opened a can of worms with their activities and now all clergy must pay the brunt!
(Editor's note: Clergy sexual abuse happened before and after the RC scandals of the last twenty years. They did not "open a can of worms", but simply made it increasingly difficult to hide or cover up, which is a good thing, friend. )
#18 Anonymous on 2011-02-07 18:51
video recording would be a good idea for the priest's protection,but cannot be done, because most people would not want their meetings recorded. whenever someone whom i don't know really well wants to talk with me, i talk to them in an open place, the church or the hall, never in my office or home, NEVER BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.
#18.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-09 15:01
just to comment on the "should priests offices have video cameras" point;
The easiest way to solve ALL of these problems, to protect parishoners AND priests is simply for a priest to never be in the building alone with another person. If the there is always someone else present when the priest is at his office (say a Church secretary) then no one could credibly claim something false. I'm not saying this event is false, I suspect it probably really did take place, but if there is another person present in another part of the Church, well that kind mitigates most false accusations. This is sort of what the Catholic Church has done with their priests and being alone with children. it's sad we must resort to such things, but it is what it is, and in the end it would protect the innocent, whether laity or clergy in most circumstances.
#19 Chuck Shingledecker on 2011-02-08 09:39
Along those same lines, what about priests who violate the confidentiality of confession and then claim, after all other claims of defense have failed, that the parishioner never received confession from him? Pathetic, isn't it?
Parishioners should (sadly) keep a log of confession appointments and keep it along with tax filings and other important documents!
And btw, having another person present in the building has not stopped abuse from happening.
#19.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-10 09:02
You're right abuse takes place even when other people are in the same building, but it would go a LONG way in preventing problems problems like outright assault. There are of course more subtle forms of abuse as well, but if we can prevent even just SOME abuse it's a worthy thing to try and put into place I think.
#19.1.1 Chuck Shingledecker on 2011-02-10 15:25
I'd like to go on record as having profound reservations about the civil and criminal charges against Fr. Michael Abdelahad. I barely know him, and haven't spoken to him in the better part of 10 years to the best of my recollection.
But I do have some idea, after 31 years membership in the CA Bar, of just how civil cases like this arise. Many come out of at least some level of true wrongdoing by the accused. Others out of naivete or misjudgment, with little or no actual wrong deeds or intent, by the accused. And a minority (so far as I know) come out of what can charitably called confused or mixed - if not warped - motivations, conscious or unconscious, on the part of accuser or her counsel. When there is such a spectrum of possibilities we do well to show love and restraint and to exercise patience while the mills of the ...gods?... grind away on the wreckage of lives and relationships.
And I have some insight as to how criminal cases too arise and proceed from the same wreckage. Prosecutors are presumably well-intentioned, but sometimes feel pressured to bring charges, or have reasons other than the sheer furtherance of justice, to charge or "overcharge" such a case. We do well to wait and see as to the criminal charge too, and to do so from the time-honored best traditions of our society: we don't know, probably for the most part don't need to know, and usually never will know with any certainty just what the full "truth" was.
I guess that's how God manages to hang onto His job in the face of the incessant speculations of internet commentators ... arising from just about everything but detailed knowledge of the law, the people involved at every level of the case in question, and the actual facts. He knows and will judge with perfect, unbiased justice; they don't and can't.
Our legal system works slowly and deliberately for many good reasons that have proved to be wise over many centuries. The internet does not work slowly or deliberately for (in the case of heavy accusations) mostly bad reasons which have NOT proved to be wise, let alone gracious or Christian, over a couple of decades.
And for those who blanche at the thought of clergy being there at Fr. Michael's arraignment, I don't mind stating my personal practice. I will only go to court with the kind of people God loves.
Through years of careful reflection I have been able to narrow that down to a) people I believe innocent, b) people I believe are not innocent, and c) people as to whom I am unable to form a belief on innocence. It is on these categories (of accused and accusers both) ... and these alone ... that divine grace might possibly be conferred. That said, I would not go to court publicly and sit on one "side" or the other if the accuser and accuser both were parishioners, but I don't think that was the case for any of the clergy here.
May both accused and accuser find grace here through the ministry of God's spirit while, and after, the truth emerges as best it can.
#20 Fr. George Washburn on 2011-02-08 11:58
Smaller diocese would be an excellent idea. However, that would also mean more diocesan centers and more bishops. There are many parishes out there who are struggling financially, whether they are mission stations, mission parishes, parishes large or small;, etc. Health Insurance premiums, and other required compensation put a heavy burden. Many people, retired, unemployed, underemployed, and employed are struggling financially also. There are alot of wasted resources (at the top) thus, having a diocesan center in an area of the diocese where the financial costs are not huge (and where donated mansions or property that must be returned to the donor if not used--example Syosset and the Diocese of Chicago) would be appropriate for new dioceses that are created. Unity of the different jurisdictions could help to solve the issue of enough bishops, and create a large enough "body of employees" for better health insurance and pension insurance options and perhaps lower financial costs and improved coverage. The bishops in the US have to truly want to united into a Synod of Bishops who could actually talk to each other, and work towards an more effective administrative functioning church.
There is nothing wrong with the Russian Patriarchial parishes and the ROCOR parishes joinging the OCA as an autocephalous Church. Actually it makes sense for the Russian Patriarch to release these parishes and bishops to the OCA. That would not be giving up the OCA status as an autocephalous church. Many of the OCA parishes follow Russian Rubrics and our music is Russian Chant (exception would be the separate Albanian diocese, Romanian diocese, etc). We have parishes that are old calendar, and new calendar. Some use all English, some use Church Slavonic and English.
(Editor's note: The OCA has always encouraged the MP parishes to join. With few exceptions, they have not. The current brouhaha is not in the suggestion that the MP parishes join an autocephalous OCA, but that the autocephalous OCA re-join the Russian Church and the MP parishes as an "autonomous" Metropolia again - in effect, erasing the last 90 years. )
#21 anonymous on 2011-02-08 13:01
Why all the heartburn over the proposal/plan to move the Central Church Administration (CCA) from Syosset to Washington, DC? What is the attachment to a building that requires a substantial annual expenditure to maintain such a small space in such an inconvenient location?
DC is the see of the primate of the OCA. That is where the CCA should be located. The CCA should have been moved from Syosset when the Diocese of Washington, DC, was originally created. Not moving the CCA to Washington, DC, at that time is another example of the OCA's propensity for foolishly "cutting corners," like using Fr. Karlgut as the investigator for claims of clerical sexual abuse. If the OCA could not afford to move the CCA to the primate's diocese when it was created, the Synod and Metropolitan Council should not have created the diocese.
If the idea that Metropolitan Jonah can reside in Syosset because it is a stavropegial institution is correct, then all who have criticized Metropolitan Herman for continuing to reside at St. Tikhon's Monastery need to apologize ... since St. Tikhon's Monastery is a stavropegial institution.
(Editor's note: The criticism of +Herman stemmed from the fact that he was still living not in the monastery, nor in Syosset, but in a house built by the Diocese of WPA, built to be their diocesan center and residence, forcing their diocesan bishop to live in a trailer on the monastery grounds. Not quite apples to apples. )
#22 Mark C. Phinney on 2011-02-09 05:11
"DC is the see of the primate of the OCA. That is where the CCA should be located. The CCA should have been moved from Syosset when the Diocese of Washington, DC, was originally created. Not moving the CCA to Washington, DC, at that time is another example of the OCA's propensity for foolishly "cutting corners," like using Fr. Karlgut as the investigator for claims of clerical sexual abuse. If the OCA could not afford to move the CCA to the primate's diocese when it was created, the Synod and Metropolitan Council should not have created the diocese."
Several points to ponder here:
1) The charter of the OCA specifies that its principal corporate office be in New York.
2) DC was the See of the Primate twice, from 1981-2005 and again from 2009-present.
3) The Metropolitan Council has no delegated authority about where the See of any bishop may be. (Such resides with the Holy Synod.)
4) The current situation means that the Metropolitan resides in his (newly restablished) See of Washington, DC while the central administration remains in New York as required by law. (There is a qualitative difference between the Metropolitan's See and corporate headquarters.)
Any decision to divest the OCA of its principal (and well- mortgaged) real asset in Oyster Bay Cove has to be taken only after a thorough cost/benefit analysis. This process is only in its infancy. Only after all factors involved are weighed appropriately will the Metropolitan Council be able to exercise its statutory, fiduciary role to approve or disapprove of such an action. It can not and will not be by synodal or primatial fiat.
Fr John Reeves
Metropolitan Council Member
#22.1 Fr John Reeves on 2011-02-09 22:34
Well said, Fr Reeves,
And please remember that no decision of the Metropolitan Council becomes enacted unless approved by the Metropolitan.
"The decisions of the Metropolitan Council shall become effective upon approval of the Metropolitan or Holy Synod, depending on the nature of the decision."
The "depending on the nature of the decision" does not give first position to the Metropolitan Council rather it clarifies that all approval finally is in the hands of the Metropoiltan OR Holy Synod.
(Editor's note: That is true, in the same way the President has to sign a bill to make it law. There is a division of authority and responsibilities regarding finances and legal matters in the OCA, that recognizes the hierarchical nature of the church, as well as its essential conciliarity. It all works best when we work together. When one or the other tries to "assert its perogatives" we have already lost half the battle.)
#22.1.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-10 15:44
There just isn't any good reason to move the central hdqrts of the OCA from a NYC suburb to Wash, D.C. The head of the OCA needs to be where the other heads of the Orthodox Church are (mostly) and that is the NYC area. Furthermore, Wash, D.C. may be the "physical" capitol of the U.S., but NYC is the "Capitol of the World." People should ask, "What's behind this push by some to move?" As far as splitting the DOS to East & West, create the DOSE and consecrate another bishop for it. And really, get beyond this foolishness of ONLY looking for celibates...
#23 Anonymous on 2011-02-10 06:15
A "capitol" is a building. A "capital" is the capital city of a country. Just semantics, but significant all the same.
It's been ages since the Church in her wisdom established a celibate (and, ideally, monastic) episcopacy and I highly doubt that that will change any time soon, whether in the OCA or elsewhere. And if it does I and many others will leave and join an Orthodox Church whose episcopate remains faithful to the canons of the Catholic Church.
Is it one person who constantly harps on this on here? Seriously, go join the Anglican Communion if you want married bishops! I've run across Byzantine Rite Anglicanism, so I'm sure you could find your heart's home there.
(Editor's note: Byzantine rite Anglicanism? C'mon. Seriously? Naw, you're pulling my cassock....)
It's too new to have been addressed by the main article, but oca.org has a new list of pastoral changes up (at http://www.oca.org/news/2409 ).
In that list, there's one reinstatement (for "(STOIAN), Hierodeacon Iustin") and two depositions (for "(IUHOS), Archimandrite Nicholas" and "McMEEKIN, Priest Robert"). Any ideas why the Holy Synod never gives a general idea of "why"? Something as basic as "by request of the former priest," "moral turpitude," "conduct unbecoming," or the like, and, in the case of restorations, something to indicate how the original deposition was wrong would be very helpful.
Of course, Archimandrite Isidore was suspended, but he's off serving somewhere in Oregon, so perhaps these categories are all meaningless anyway.
(Editor's note: Assuming your last sentence is not true, I imagine the reasons are not given for legal reasons? I do agree, however, it would be helpful if some reason as to why they left were posted as well, especially for those who knew these men .... I mean, it is one thing if a priest decided to remarry ( mazel tov), left for another jurisdiction (best of luck) or was convicted of a civil crime , for example. It's sad the Church relies on Facebook to tell the story....)
#24 Steve P. on 2011-02-10 16:02
Seems that what most people complaining on this website really want is not the Orthodox Church, its traditions, customs, theology, canons, et cetera. What people complaining are trying to find in the OCA and what they are upset about not finding, is readily available in Protestant churches, or other "christian" groups in America. Leave. Stop the underhanded coersions by gossiping on this website. If your beef really is that the OCA is wicked and merely needs the right mindset to be satisfactory then you are in delusion. You will never be happy until either you are the Metropolitan or until he is your puppet.
Also it seems there is a desire for a church created in these peoples own image NOT the Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Jonah with any weakness wants to preserve what the Orthodox has always preserved. On this site there is dialogue that implies that the traditions, customs, practices of the Orthodox Church are up for grabs- or that because the leadership is always unsatisfactory, that the rules are negotiable, as though there is room for negotiation. In any case, they are not. Apart from all the rehtoric persisting on this site, for reforming the Orthodox Church (especially in the OCA) which simply an attempt to manipulate, there is to a large degree a terrorizing of the readership but also the leadership, by gossip about real abuses, slander of people by exaggeration of half truths or outright presumption, to mention a few methods. All this in a real attempt to cow the leadership of the OCA, by using this media outlet really is terrorism. It is trying to change a group (OCA) with all kinds of underhanded tactics in the name of justice and righteousness. It is trying to force a group that is steadfast in its orthodoxy by coersion and manipulation which is exacty an abuse that has been complained about towards the OCA. This is abusive and is bullying a group of people. To try and force change in this way has been condemned even in our own secular culture and yet those touting Orthodoxy do it repeatedly here! Step off! God have mercy on your souls.
The Orthodox Church does not change for the sake of what popular culture may mandate, let alone negotiate with terrorists. This is the Orthodox Church accept it or get off the boat. Stop trying to manipulate. The leadership at this point is doing the best it can and we need to encourage that and stop promoting our own agendas for the Orthodox Church in America. We chose our current Metropolitan along with the Synod and believed it to be providence and the will of God at the time. The Church believes and trusts that the hierarchs are guided by God to God's will for the church. When the current metropolitan was installed we all believed that this was what was happening before us. Now that the same Metropolitan is acting in a way contrary to a certain groups own vision the Metropolitan is no longer God inspired. What if this other side is wrong and perhaps it is God's will? All the methods used in all the bickering on this site miss the point. The black and white thinking, the truisms, the rhetoric, the diphymisms, the innuendo, the sarcasm, all of it indicates the disfunction and unhealth of those who complain not the alleged "concern" for Christ's Holy Church. Perhaps looking at ourselves and trusting that God is still working and acting in our midst rather than demonizing and the rest.
#25 Anonymous on 2011-02-16 21:32
You are just wrong! It is + Jonah who is causing the problems, not the people posting here. Thank God this forum is here to enlighten all of what he is doing. He's not the leader we wanted. He has his own agenda and it points to Russia. Well, he can go there and the OCA can chose a leader who really believes in the OCA!
#25.1 Anonymous on 2011-02-24 18:39
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