Tuesday, March 1. 2011
Your comments are welcome. Please, no invective. I will edit you.
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Obviously, they left out that this more than simple concern for his physical health.
He was very paranoid at the Pastoral Conference in the Diocese of the South.
#1 anonymous on 2011-03-01 22:40
I call them like I see them and unless the sermon given by Metropolitan Jonah is fully accurate, I think we can write the ending on this one.
The OCA needs honesty, openness, and integrity and it needs to stop accepting resignations of people that meet those criteria.
Did anyone on the internet really suggest he was already deposed?
#2 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-03-01 23:21
Not yet, but.......
#2.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-03 09:52
Mark, do you really think Metropolitan Jonah wasn't allowed to go to New York and did so in disobedience to the Synod? He might have been able to get away with meeting the Czech metropolitan like that, but Crestwood?!
In all seriousness, Metropolitan Jonah taking a trip to St. Vladimir's, in a climate where he was not permitted to do so, would be like Osama bin Laden taking a pleasure trip to Washington D.C., getting a V.I.P. tour of the White House, and posing for friendly snapshots with the President and his family.
As anybody who's visited SVS in recent years knows, they love taking pictures, and they love posting about everything they do on their website, in the photo gallery, on Twitter and Facebook: everything but a billboard in Times Square. As Rowan Williams learned a while back, it's not the place to go if you're looking for a quiet weekend.
The bottom line is, Metropolitan Jonah almost certainly had the Synod's approval, and if it wasn't part of their original plan from last week, it was likely let through later on in order to help dispel the false rumors of his resignation or deposition.
Oh yeah, and it seems a lot of my comments are getting caught in your spam filter. I hope this one will not meet the same fate. I work hard on these witticisms, dammit.
(Editor's note: It was clever, it was just too vulgar for a Christian website. Well, a Christian website from the pits of hell according to some. That being said, I stand by my reporting and sources. I don't see why you find it strange he would disobey the Synod by going to Crestwood, because he would be photographed, when the man posted his sermon on Facebook and YouTube saying that he was not on a leave of absence and still in charge of the OCA, when he was, and is not. All I will give him is that it was a breathtaking display of disobedience. And if you still doubt, ask Archbishop Nathaniel for a copy of his letter to Jonah from Tuesday last....)
#3 Cordelia on 2011-03-01 23:26
Vulgar? It's hard to keep up with things I've written when there's a gap between writing and posting, but I tend to keep a copy of all the comments I submit to your website, and know I did no such thing. I am flattered to be in the company of people you've dissed this week, though.
I don't need to ask Archbishop Nathaniel for a copy of his letter. I'm sure that if you can interpret it to serve your purposes, you will publish it in due time.
(Editor's note: Friend, the whole situation +Jonah, Fr. Fester and you have created is vulgar - not just one posting. As for the delay in posting comments I do apologize, but as I explained my internet access this weak is spotty, and I am posting things in what I perceive to the order of importance: the news, reflections, and then comments. Feel free to disagree. I hope to be caught up fully by this morning.)
#3.1 Cordelia on 2011-03-03 00:26
Mark, I would not begrudge you a life outside your website. I just wanted to point out that the way you manage your comments (something I'm not arguing with, I understand why it's done this way) creates some issues for your commenters. It's hard to keep comments relevant to current events like that. It's just the nature of the beast.
I also want to state very clearly that I do not support or condone Fr. Joseph Fester, his actions, or his statements, in response to your website. Any position on which he and I may find agreement (like the Nicene Creed) is purely coincidental. Frankly, I feel his support is far more harmful to the Metropolitan than anything and everything you've ever written. And I have previously registered my disgust at the attempt to rehabilitate Kondratick and his cronies, including Fester, so I did not mean to include him.
My failure to find anything worth deposing Metropolitan Jonah over, does not equate with unqualified acceptance of everything he does.
Also, just in case you were wondering, I have no involvement whatsoever with the OCATruth website, emphatically do not support everything they have published, and my name will not be found on their rolls.
As for my responsibility for the "vulgar" mess in the OCA, you should know that I do not, nor have I ever, worked in or for (or against, for that matter!) the OCA administration on the national or diocesan level. The most I've done in that vein is fail to call for Metropolitan Jonah's head. I am not going to call for that based on your word alone. The office of Metropolitan is not a congressional seat, where you can recycle the occupant every two or six years if you don't like him. People decry "OCATruth" for being anonymous, but while OCANews uses your real name, there are an awful lot of anonymous sources behind your information. You have sources, who you refuse to discuss. While that's understandable, you have to know that if they turn out to be wrong, they won't rush to your side to take the heat with you.
I really don't care about your personal life, or most other people's. But I do think your own actions and writings on this website have crossed a line in this latest crisis.
I'll say, for the sake of argument, that every word you've posted on this is entirely true, and the perceptions you've put forward are ones any mentally-balanced person would have when experiencing the very same events.
In that case, you've been publicizing information about the Metropolitan that should have remained private, between the Metropolitan and the Synod.
Instead of letting the Synod act in due course to help their brother, you single-handedly published that information, presumably in order to turn public sentiment against the Metropolitan. You used his illness to stigmatize and humiliate him. Sickness, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, is not a personal fault. Instead of covering his nakedness with a cloak, you've essentially taken pictures of it and posted them online.
Instead of relying on the canonical process for declaring the Metropolitan See vacant on account of the Metropolitan's incapacitation, should things come to that (Article IV, Section 3 of the OCA Statute), you've chosen to wage a war, using this personal information as your weapon, with the apparent aim of doing the same thing all by yourself. Metropolitan Jonah's alleged searching of Fr. Garklavs' email has been mocked as paranoid behavior, but as they say on "The X-Files", it's not paranoia if they really are all out to get you. How is this poor man going to be talked into going out and getting help, if the moment he walks out the door someone may change the locks? (Don't laugh, it has happened.)
For all those reasons, I feel that Bishop Benjamin's letter on "recent events" was aimed largely at you. This is not how a child treats his father. This is how an angry constituent treats his expendable politician.
(Editor's note: No one on the Synod has spoken publicly, or even privately, to me about deposing +Jonah. From their Minutes it appears their goal was to make him take a Leave, for medicial/ spiritual reasons. I never reported that he had medical/spiritual issues: the Synod has. I reported on dissatisfaction with his decisions, and gave examples of that. Of course his defense is none of these are "Canonical" reasons. Well, say, for reasons of discussion, take covering up sexual misconduct . That is not a canonical reason; but I can give you 2.3 billion reasons the Catholic Church might not agree that it is a deadly serious problem. So how do we deal with this kind of issue? One could multiple such examples, hypothetically, for reasons of discussion. The Bishops, in asking +Jonah to take a Leave may have been sounding a tocsin for the Church. Is anybody listening? This is not a matter for the Russian, Greek, or other European Churches who live in Dictatorships, or non-litigious societies where such issues are routinely swept under the rug and covered up. Well, not here. We can be wiped out. So can they over here, if not over there as well.)
#3.1.1 Cordelia on 2011-03-09 13:44
If it turns out the Winnipeg incident was really covered up by the OCA for all these years, who do you think is worse? The Metropolitan who allegedly covered it up for two years, or the members of the Synod that allegedly covered it up for TWENTY-FIVE? How any of them could sit in judgment of Metropolitan Jonah, when most of them would be covered in much more of the same dirt, is beyond me!
The last All-American Council was not the first place those rumors about Archbishop Seraphim were ever spoken about. Archbishop Nathaniel is the only active bishop left who was bishop at the time of the alleged incident, but at that point or afterward there was Archbishop Dmitri, Bishop Mark (Forsberg), Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald), Metropolitans Theodosius and Herman, and many more who are deceased, and four who remain on the Synod: Nikon, Tikhon (Mollard), Benjamin, and Nathaniel. Not one of them lifted a finger to point at Archbishop Seraphim for all those years.
And even if the rumors about Archbishop Seraphim were not enough to act upon, there's always the little matter of the events surrounding Kondratick. Who was on the Synod during that long era of interestingness? The Metropolitans Theodosius and Herman, Archbishop Dmitri, Bishops Nikon, two Tikhons, Benjamin, and Nikolai. All of them were sitting around for years with their fingers up their noses, while a bunch of money disappeared. Metropolitan Jonah threw those bishops a cloak for their nakedness during The Speech, when he said it was little wonder they did nothing with the previous leadership being as terrible as it was. Archbishop Dmitri, Bishop Nikolai, and a Tikhon are all gone. And who's still around? Bishops Nikon, Tikhon, Benjamin, and Nathaniel.
Bishops Nikon, Tikhon (Mollard), Benjamin, and Nathaniel have all been neck-deep in Syosset sewage for many more years than Metropolitan Jonah. Are those really the men whose judgment I'm supposed to trust with respect to Metropolitan Jonah's failures and health problems? Am I supposed to believe that they are now, after twenty-five years, turning on the latecomer Metropolitan Jonah because they are so very concerned about the spiritual and financial liability of ignoring child sexual abuse? Are they REALLY sounding the tocsin, Mark? No, it sounds to me like perhaps the lunatics have taken over the asylum, and, for the warden's being in the minority, are calling him the crazy one.
No wonder Metropolitan Jonah is stressed out. Yeesh.
That brings me to my other point. I'm not sure if Metropolitan Jonah really is having some kind of personal crisis or not, but the point I was trying to get at before is that your recent articles about his temperament in addition to his alleged bad decisions struck me as being in extremely bad taste at the very least. Even assuming the description of events is factually accurate, there's not even a pretense of regret or sadness in what you write. Nothing about him seems to move your pity in the least. A less triumphalistic, self-assured temperament on your part would have seemed to have been in order. Instead, it all reads like "another day, another incompetent congressman-metropolitan to dispose of". Even after the minutes were published revealing the Synod's concerns over his health, you claimed the Metropolitan has gone "rogue," with no apparent regard for the possibility that his behavior might be attributed to the health problems. Never mind that his "rogue" behavior basically amounted to visiting two primates of other autocephalous churches (which is kind of understandable considering he's still the primate of the OCA, and nowhere in the minutes does the Synod actually forbid him from doing anything), and visiting his parents.
Finally, the final insult, he also delayed some meetings that had been scheduled during his break. After being "forced" on leave, he had two options: let the meetings take place without him, or delay them until after the leave. You may have hoped he'd do the former, but under the circumstances, I can't blame him for doing the latter. Depending on whether the Metropolitan is really sick or merely diplomatically "sick", the delay is either nobody's fault, as illness cannot be helped, or it's the Synod's for timing the confrontation the way they did. Did they really expect the Metropolitan to say, "I guess you can have the big meetings without me, la la la"?
News flash: bishops are not elected to do the will of the populace. They are elected to be our fathers in Christ. The Church is not a democracy, it's supposed to be a "Holy Spirit-ocracy", with checks and balances built in to ensure no one climbs on a milk crate and declares himself infallible.
And as much ink as I've given to the hypothesis of your factual accuracy, I'm not going to accept what you've written as fact based on your much-touted credibility. Your credibility is based on three factors:
-Your site's longevity,
-The fact that many people confuse OCA News for a journalistic news source, rather than a blog of your own opinions and opinions which agree with yours, along with a free-for-most discussion section where opposition is allowed, amidst your fawning fanbase, and the ever-present non-sequitur cries for restoring married episcopacy,
-The fact that, whether you're right or wrong, very few people in the OCA would have enough inside knowledge and access in the OCA administration to really know one way or the other.
I am not a cultist who hero-worships the Metropolitan - God knows I've levied enough critical remarks at him over things he's said and done. I am, and will only ever be, someone who would like to know the truth, and not only one version of it. I put my soul in Metropolitan Jonah's hands, not by the mere fact of his election, but by choice. So I hope you will forgive me for not letting my trust be broken as easily as you would like.
(Editor's note: As you point out, there is enough dirt to cover everyone, and always has been, and always will be, if history is a guide. The only difference is those who elect to sit in it, ignoring it even today, and those who are seeking to climb out of it, no matter how long they have been there in the past. )
#18.104.22.168 Cordelia on 2011-03-14 01:45
Didnt Father Fester say His Beatitude wasn't on leave in an e-mail? Cannot these people get their stories straight?
(Editor's note: I think it would be more appropriate to ask Fr. Fester is he knew his Sir Walter Scott, as in :
"Aye, what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive..."
#4 Stephen on 2011-03-02 03:58
The very next item on the agenda for the Holy Synod should be to put Fr. Fester "out of business" at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC.
#4.1 michael geeza on 2011-03-03 09:20
There is something Denmark in Rotton!, No, wait, that's Syosset, no wait, that's DC!
#5 The Whale on 2011-03-02 04:31
Obviously +Jonah remembered things to his advantage, not having the public minutes in hand over the weekend. All our minds work that way. Big deal.
What the minutes actually show is that this was a Caine Mutiny that failed. Garklavs and company wanted to put the Metropolitan on trial and prepared a secret brief against him, then sprang it on him when he was least able to deal with it. Their thinking was, according to your report, Mark, "Let's put him under full frontal assault and see if he responds with humility." Right. Like anybody would. +Jonah was quite humanly outraged and counterattacked, and in the end the mutiny's ringleader got the boot, as well he should have, because no charge has yet been made against +Jonah warranting deposition. The Synod just asked +Jonah to take a break to calm down and reconsider his management style, and +Jonah humbly accepted it.
The spin last Friday was that +Jonah had been relieved of duties and Garklavs's fate was "uncertain," making it sound as if the mutiny had carried. Now we know it failed.
(Editor's note: My head is spinning. First it was he is not on leave, then he is, but only because he forgot what was decided a day earlier? No, it is because "garklavs & company", let's see, that would be a committee +Jonah appointed, plotted to remove him by springing a report on him, a report which the other Bishops had given Jonah two weeks earlier? And when asked about, the man who preaches humility in every single sermon, reacted naturally, that is, without it? And so in the end, Garklavs is out, +Jonah is in, and the "plot failed". Except Garklavs is stilll working in Syosset, and +Jonah is not. I am sorry I just can't keep all your stories straight. Reality has a way of interrupting while you are speaking. Sorry, I'll do better to in the future to ignore it, if that is what it takes to understand your perspective. BUt keep going, please. This is fun. I am stuck in the same old story because it is true. You clearly get to create many and different ones each day, which sounds ever so much more fun, if less real...)
#6 Caveat Lector on 2011-03-02 05:56
Wow, talk about a spin machine. No wonder Mark's head was spinning, you spun quite a tale there Caveat Lector
#6.1 Anon111 on 2011-03-03 06:34
Mark, I know you won’t say it but I would like to ask all your detractors and critics of the OCA Synod: With all due respect to this being Cheesefare week, how would you like your crow? It’s amazing how those who do not just question but attack your integrity for being the messenger. Metropolitan Jonah and his apologists should realize that had it not been for blessed +Job’s perseverance and your dedication and tenacity the OCA would still be subject to +Herman, Bobby and company. Not just short memories I would say, but it looks like an acute case of ingratitude by the man in the white hat and his court.
Really, it is becoming widespread knowledge that +Jonah has serious psychological problems. My first reaction is to ask, why does the OCA not legislate mandatory professional psychological screening for every candidate for ordination/consecration? The GOARCH, because of extensive financial damages, has made such screening compulsory for nearly the past 10 years. Sadly, even his classmates going back to St. Vladimir’s Seminary openly talk about James (+Jonah’s) erratic behavior and intransigence he displayed as a student. We are not dealing with corruption as was the case with his two predecessors, but it’s clear as day this man needs help. But, as the late +Fulton Sheen observed, “It takes a brave man to look into the mirror of his own soul to see written there the disfigurements caused by his own misbehavior.” Unfortunately, as is known dealing with behavior disorders, few individuals recognize the reality and depth of their problem thus it is makes treatment most challenging. However, in this instance, if and that’s a big IF, the Holy Synod acts firmly and resolutely, they can make +Jonah’s alternatives to treatment very unpalatable; tough love indeed, but there seems to be no other productive option. To allow him to continue in the way he has gone will not just insure his demise but cripple the credibility and well being of the OCA.
Another issue the synod needs to take on would be removing or isolating +Jonah’s inner circle who are obviously preying (no pun) on his weak mental constitution to maneuver into positions of influence and control. The synod knows who these men are and they need to act or else the metropolitan will never have a chance to get well. It’s really time for the Fathers of the OCA to “man up” and not worry about outside perceptions and critics (ex. Russian, Greek, eastern European hierarchy). The patient is failing and his family is going to fail with him. Only his siblings can do something about it. Accordingly, Holy Fathers: “Be strong and of good courage” (Deuteronomy 31:23).
#7 One who has been around & seen a lot on 2011-03-02 06:35
Am I the only one who is disturbed by medical dignoses being made at third hand? Even if those offering their expertise had the credentials to diagnose live people (and no one so far is showing that they do), making a determination about someone's mental state based on hearsay evidence seems like very risky medicine, not to mention very questionable ethics.
I would say a person with a worldview different from the mainstream is exactly what we should want in the head of our church. none of the great figures of our church, starting with Christ Himself, can be said to have been "normal" by the standards of their time.
I do not doubt issues exist between HB and his staff (which he largely inherited), and I don't doubt he'd be better served sometimes by more temperate or considered remarks. Sometimes it seems as if he simply cannot choose whether or not to share his thoughts, with startling results, to say the least. Some of this may simply be a person who is not used to being under such close and constant scrutiny. Everything he says in the company of others is examined for its implications for the church. I would think that total loss of privacy would be the heaviest burden of the job.
I personally hate the idea that we might have to go through another change of leaders. I hope and pray that HB can see where the fault have been his and correct them, as well as forgiving where the faults have been elsewhere.
#7.1 Morton on 2011-03-03 13:47
Let me get this straight:
A group of monks who are bishops takes a pre-Lenten retreat at a luxury spa.
While at the luxury spa, they put +Jonah on Leave of Absence & fire the chancellor.
While at the spa, they draft a letter to the faithful saying they "accepted the resignation" of the chancellor and "accepted the request" of +Jonah for a "retreat", which while perhaps technically accurate if you spin it enough, is clearly just this side of an outright lie.
After the visit to the luxury spa, +Jonah stands vested on the Ambo, and declares he is not on leave.
The Synod is then forced to release minutes declaring that they did indeed put him on leave, thus contradicting both +Jonah as well as the Synod's own original statement.
Lesson: Monks should not take pre-Lenten retreats at luxury spas. The steam must make it hard to tell the truth.
Priest Christopher Wojcik
#8 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2011-03-02 06:46
Some have questioned the choice of a "luxury spa and retreat" for a meeting of the OCA bishops. My attention is MORE to the "chose" of the U.S. state chosen for the event. Knowing the issues they needed to deal and act on from the reports in advance were issues of SEXUAL ABUSE, the choose of one of the least attentive states in the U.S. to the needs of Victims of Sexual Abuse and one of the weakest historical Sexual Offender programs in the nation. see www.abqjournal.com/news/state/99429m10-19-03.htm
makes New Mexico a priority state of choice for a more disinterested Media and Legal system for the Sexual Abuse issues and whatever else that is on hand.
#8.1 ANON in USA on 2011-03-03 19:03
HAHAHA!!! Very well put, Father!
Really isn't funny though as it is so very painfully true. God help our Church!
#8.2 Anonymous on 2011-03-05 11:59
#8.3 P. Corb on 2011-03-07 22:29
While trying to digest all that has popped up recently, I did seize upon one very minor "issue" that I could at least verify by myself. There have been a couple of postings raising the concern that the Synod meeting was held at the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, the implication being that it was an over-the-top venue for the Synod. It takes a couple of minutes to get on the hotel website to check room rates for the middle of next week: they range from $104-$119 per night (and that is for me off the street - maybe there is a clergy discount?). As a point of reference, the local Holiday Inn's rate is $91 per night. I did not check to see what Motel 6's rates were.
#9 Michael Gregory on 2011-03-02 07:11
Why is the synod holding a pre-Lenten retreat in a luxury hotel in a town with the nearest OCA presence 35 miles away (Los Alamos) and the next nearest over 60 miles away (Albuquerque) and 90 minutes via Interstate highway from the nearest major airport?
ONThe publicly advertised rates for rooms and suites in The Terrace at La Fonda are $529-$799 (per night, I assume).
For than half a century, the La Fonda Hotel has had a reputation as the luxury hotel in Santa Fe, if not the state, catering to the "jet set" and most well-heeled visitors to the Santa Fe Opera, the horse races, and skiing.
Are not our hierarchs supposed to show us how lives of humility are lived by their examples? What is humble about the choice of the La Fonda Hotel as the venue for a pre-Lenten retreat? Why not hold the retreat at the Monastery of the Holy Archangel Michael in Canones, if the retreat has to be in or near the mountains of New Mexico? no one would criticize the hierarchs for staying in "luxurious" accommodations.
#9.1 Mark C. Phinney on 2011-03-03 06:58
I think it slightly "unfair" to point to the link to the concierge-level, luxury suite section of the hotel rather than to the more normal room range available at the hotel:
which where I got my price information. Unless, of course (!), you have evidence that the hierarchy treated themselves to the concierge-level accommodations.
I don't dispute the fundamental point: it would be far more exemplary of servant leadership for the hierarchs to meet in modest surroundings (even better, in a monastic setting). But a tin ear seems to be part of the job description (in all the Orthodox jurisdictions).
Again, if you do have proof that the bishops occupied suites in "The Terrace" portion of the hotel, then that might rise to the level of scandal - but there are so many more significant dimensions to the current crisis. An ordinary queen/double room at La Fonda - nah. Been through there on professional trips to Los Alamos.
#9.1.1 Michael Gregory on 2011-03-08 11:10
Which "monastic settings" would you suggest? What monastery would be large enough? Perhaps MJ's own turf in Manton? St Tikhon's isn't large enough -- the seminary is in session so the dorms are occupied. Where?
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2011-03-14 10:00
Dear Mr. Gregory,
I just checked, and the starting rates were $170, best I could find for a Monday - Wednesday stay in mid March. Up from there.
You can confirm at http://www.lafondasantafe.com/.
#9.2 niente on 2011-03-03 20:33
This hotel pricing thread is starting to get a bit tedious. The Synod meeting was Feb 22 onwards - in the lowest season - those were the rates I quoted (I also got those rates directly off the hotel website). Starting in March, the rates start escalating significantly, so mid-March is much higher than mid-February. As juicy a target as this may seem, there have GOT to be more significant issues to focus on.
#9.2.1 Michael Gregory on 2011-03-08 15:11
Check again. The economy rooms start at $189/night, single occupancy, going up to $329 for the suites. Reasonable, especially for the style of accommodation. But don't bishops usually spend retreats in monasteries, rather than hotels?
#9.3 Morton on 2011-03-05 08:55
Wow, I guess Mark really did know "the rest of the story".
I pray for all involved that a proper resolution to this situation can be reached.
#10 Anon111 on 2011-03-02 07:46
Thanks again for trying to put out the whole story and allow people to draw their own conclusions. I have to say once again, though, that the bishops in the OCA really don't seem to know how to conduct the affairs of the church as evidenced by the press release drafted by Bishop Tikhon and the handling of the Fr. Garklavs matter.
Bishop Tikhon is a wonderful man who is very intelligent and soft-spoken. I'm sure that he didn't intend to draft a press release that essentially white-washed the entire "resignation" of Fr. Garklavs but that is exactly what he did.
And the Holy Synod, in its attempt to make things more transparent, published these minutes, which frankly don't say a whole lot of anything, except to emphasize that +Jonah was, indeed, asked/forced to take a leave of absence.
I have sat on many boards in my life, and personnel and legal matters have always been held in Executive Session in order to protect all concerned. The Fr. Garklavs matter should have been conducted in Executive Session and something that at least partially explained his abrupt departure should have been made public. Even if it was something bland as, "The Holy Synod has decided to seek a new Chancellor, and we thank Fr. Garklavs for his tremendous contribution to the OCA." At least then they would have actually acknowledged who made the actual decision.
Several posters have commented about whether or not the OCA is better off now than say five years ago. Frankly, if it is better off, it's not readily apparent. The problem, in fact, seems to be the same problem of the episcopacy trying to run the church.
What dooms this model of governance is the very fact that the bishops don't necessarily want to govern and entire church, they only care about their own piece of the pie. Second, there seems to always be this thought in the back of their minds, "hey, that could be me that's getting skewered, let me just keep my mouth shut." And third, because of the hierarchical nature of the church, most of the bishops are simply unwilling to take stands and upset their brother bishops.
Let's be perfectly honest, there isn't really a healthy dialogue going on at the Holy Synod meetings. I won't give away my age, but I have been around a long time and known many bishops. Invariably they come back from their meetings having accomplished little. It's all about their diocese and nothing else. Until this model of governance changes, the OCA isn't going to change. And if you think that my words aren't correct, just read the minutes from Chambesy II that just took place. The main topic was who was included in the dyptichs and what is the official order. There was no consensus whatsoever. This is the ideal model for church governance?
I look forward to hearing part II of the minutes.
#11 Anon. on 2011-03-02 07:48
Although the parishioners were kind, I experienced Saint Seraphim Cathedral as being cold as well. It bore a reputation as being such for many years, among the Orthodox of Dallas. I don't believe that this was the fault of Archbishop Dmitri; in all honesty, there seemed almost to be a spiritual darkness hovering about the place. If Fr. Fester and +Jonah (neither of whom I ever have met) were able to nuture warmth at the Cathedral, this could only have occured through the grace and blessing of God. I pray that this positive change remains and grows ... spreading throughout the entire OCA.
#11.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-07 17:21
I can see why the council wanted His Beatitude to request the time off. If it had looked like they were requesting he take time off someone might blow this whole thing out of proportion.
The minutes seem to confirm that he has worked very hard and very long and his health has suffered because of it.
I've lived here in Texas for two and a 1/2 years and been at St. Seraphim's Cathedral the whole time. What I've seen over the last two years though has been amazing. This Church has changed so much. I've seen the leadership of Fr. Joseph Fester with the guidance and direction of His Beatitude transform what when I first got here seemed like a kind of cold parish into a warm loving family.
Administratively I've never seen a church with such transparency. All the Church's finances are laid out for everyone to see every month. Nothing feels hidden here, there is no circle of power. Granted, my experience with both His Beatitude and Fr. Joe are pastoral in nature. This whole "gotcha" attitude seems unhelpful at best, and damaging to the Church at worst.
(Editor's note: Friend, why are you commenting on a pornography site that is ungodly - at least according to your pastors? Seriously, don't such comments, at such odds with reality, coupled with their actions of the past days, raise some question in your mind? I mean, kudos on transparency, blessings on a parish you experience as a warm family, etc. , but how do you reconcile the two. I just don't want you to be hurt if heros, even church ones, are revealed to have clay feet. We all do. The key is to remember that, and squint a bit when someone acts like they don't...)
#12 Elijah on 2011-03-02 07:52
I am replying to the Editor of this website, rather than to Elijah. Mark Stokoe counseled the latter, "I just don't want you to be hurt if heros, even church ones, are revealed to have clay feet."
Many of the Orthodox faithful trust you and regard you as a hero, Mr. Stokoe. Are you certain that your performance as a "reporter," as well as your own pattern of Christian life, will in no wise hurt or disappoint them?
(Editor's note: You missed the point of the statement. We are all sinners, and we all have clay feet. Veracity is not based on the individual reporting, but on the facts. )
#12.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-11 21:12
There seems to be more said reading between the lines than if it were printed verbatim. Very interesting indeed. I believe this entire episode shows what can happen when people rush to consecrate and elevate personages to authority. This is why young bishops ALWAYS need to be mentored for years. Now, where is the OCA's vast pool of bishop candidates to choose from? Isn't it about time to go BACK to married bishops?
#13 Anonymous on 2011-03-02 08:42
Let's try and outline all of this everyone.
For years, + Theodosius & RSK ruled the OCA. Finally, when their years of abuse & corruption of monies was revealed, many were tainted by their tentacles. + Herman was put in as the next head. His corrupt policies at STOTS turned out to be just as bad as the previous admin. So, at the last OCA "Big Bash," everyone thought, "If we elect an unknown with no history, maybe the OCA can recover." The +Jonah Era was ushered in and a sigh of relief was heard all over the OCA. Then the unthinkable began. A young hierarch with his OWN agenda began to emerge. The reinstating of RSK cronies to places of honor; the talk of giving up the OCA's autocephaly; the insistant idea of moving the OCA hdqrts to Wash., D.C. with "young monks" to run the OCA; many trips to Russia in secret meetings; etc.
So, here we are today! Rightly, + Jonah has taken a "leave of absence" while the MC & Synod decides what to do next. The tragedy, the EXCELLENT Archpriest, Alexander Garklavs has been relieved of his duties, WITHOUT GOOD CAUSE! Where do we go now? Who can lead who doesn't have hidden agendas, believes in the OCA and isn't a tyrant? Pray everyone, PRAY!
#14 Anonymous on 2011-03-02 09:07
Is invective synonymous with pornography?
I just love the rants of our esteemed (not) and retired (thank God), Bishop Tikhon. Entertaining and illuminating, though not in the way he might wish. But they do give one a sense of the behind the scenes machinations that are transpiring in an effort to rescue the OCA from its biggest mistake--Metropolitan Jonah.
Will the Synod rise to the occasion? That is the $64,000 question. Based on its past track record--I doubt it. But hope springs eternal.
#15 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-03-02 09:29
From the video:
"However, due to inaccurate reporting on the Internet stating...that I am on a leave of absence, rumors that have spread worldwide and have caused great concern among many. I owe you the faithful of this diocese clarification of the facts.... The reports are not true. I am merely taking a retreat, a time for reflection."
From the minutes:
"After further discussion, the Holy Synod determined that a sixty day Leave of Absence for His Beatitude would be beneficial. Metropolitan Jonah accepted to do so. The Synod asked him to request to do so, as it would be better seen that he acknowledged the need for this. Metropolitan JONAH then requested a Leave Of Absence for not less than 60 days... This could include a time of retreat at a monastery."
What we have here is a failure to communicate. The synod said "Leave of Absence," but the metropolitan heard "retreat." In itself, this is a non-issue.
More bothersome is that the synod effectively made the metropolitan say "pretty please" when he had already accepted their decision.
Still more bothersome is that the metropolitan sought to frame his leave of absence as explicitly not a leave of absence, entirely his idea and nothing out of the ordinary. He was apparently oblivious to the likelihood that the minutes would be published.
The metropolitan comes out looking disingenuous, caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The synod come out looking like taunting, brace-faced older siblings.
Can we please have some grown-ups take charge? The children aren't ready to stay home by themselves.
(Anonymous because I don't tell anyone anymore that I'm Orthodox.)
#16 Anonymous on 2011-03-02 09:40
Rather than the LOA being forced on His Beatitude, it appears that the Synod recommended an LOA and His Beatitude agreed to take it. Mark, I think you are either parsing words too finely, or the Holy Synod's minutes do not accurately reflect what really happened.
Why is this so important? Because the implication that's being made all across this site and the Orthodox internet is that His Beatitude was forced into this decision and/or it was thrust upon him. Maybe that's what really happened, but the minutes don't really say that.
This is what the minutes say:
After further discussion, the Holy Synod*determined that a sixty day Leave of Absence for His Beatitude would be beneficial.*
Metropolitan Jonah accepted to do so. [ie, he accepted the Synod's recommendation, not a directive.]
The Synod asked him to request to do so, as it would be better seen that he acknowledged the need for this.
Metropolitan JONAH then requested a Leave Of Absence for not less than 60 days during which time he would see a physician and devote himself to his own spiritual and physical health without concern for the burdens of the primatial office.
(Editor's note: If you think he voluntarily took a leave of absence, why did he spend the next three days so vociferously denying he did so? If that was just a "time of rest", why would locum tenens be appointed, I mean come on, not much happens in the South and Midwest, since both already have Administrators. And if he agreed to obey the Synod voluntarily, why did then not do so by laying aside all his primatial duties - like going to SVS , or hanging out with +Krystof?
Sorry, your moderating the decision is almost as disingenous as +Jonah's was, and about as transparent. You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all the people some of the time, but your even close to the latter, which is really what you need to do.)
#17 Anonymous on 2011-03-02 09:55
Just a thought: if Fr. Garklavs did not commit fraud, murder, sexual harrassment, etc. and simply said some things that were offensive, why wasn't he accorded the same oppoprtunity to take a leave of absence for "spiritual renewal?" Are we saying that there are two distinct standards, one for bishops and one for non-bishops? And if that, unfortunately is true, isn't this discrimination? Why is it okay to prop up the metropolitan but not the administration? If we are a church and not Morgan Stanley or Lehman Brothers, shouldn't someone such as Fr. Garklavs have been given a chance to fix the situation or at least a cooling off period?
Second, reading through theTikhi-leaks, it appears that a number of the bishops concur that +Jonah is not really doing a great job. If this is the case, why did they fire the messenger Garklavs? Wasn't he saying the exact same thing most of them were thinking (the only difference, of course, is that he had the courage to put it in writing). If it turns out that +Jonah is not the metropolitan in the next few months, it says volumes about the fact that, what do you know, Fr. Garklavs was actually right.
Third, it still astounds me that the metropolitan council was not consulted. I thought the OCA was conciliar, no? Isn't conciliar supposed to include the folks that aren't bishops as well? This whole event shows exactly what the episcopacy in the OCA truly believe: they are the decision makers and everything else is just window dressing. Isn't this precisely what Patriarch Kirill was saying to +Jonah? And isn't it just common sense to ask a lawyer or two these days when you have situations like this arise? The metropolitan council has a couple of lawyers, were they even consulted? And to add insult to injury, I see that the Metropolitan Council meeting that was scheduled for Feb/March has been cancelled. The bishops could get together by themselves at a fancy resort but somehow they are too busy to meet with the metropolitan council.
I never thought I'd say this but Professor Paul Meyendorff's suggestion a couple of years ago of having all of the bishops resign now makes perfect sense. This current model of governance is a disaster and it has been a disaster for many years now. A few posters back remarked on the problems in the OCA being the result of the metropolitan council or others meddling in the affairs of the church. Really? I have to say from my vantage point most of the problems are a direct result of the bishops. Here are just a few examples:
Koumentakos and other investigations - Who placed Fr. Karlgut in the position of special investigator? Answer - the bishops of the OCA.
Bishop Nikolai - Who placed him in Alaska? Who allowed him to go unchecked? Who did not follow proper protocols when trying to get him removed? Answer - the bishops of the OCA
Investigation (or lack thereof) of Archbishop Seraphim - who did not do an investigation right after the charges were brought forward at the time of the last AAC? Answer - the bishops of the OCA.
Metropolitan Herman and the mortgaging of property at St. Tikhon's seminary - Who allowed him to go unchecked for years and allowed a man with absolutely no formal training in business, namely Klimitchev, to run the bookstore and various other businesses? Answer - the bishops of the OCA.
The current model is not working. The only thing that seems to have ever gotten the attention of the Holy Synod was the withholding of funds, and it sure seems like it's time to do it again. I for one am tired of giving funds to a corrupt group of individuals who seem more concerned about the hotels they are staying in than growing and caring for Christ's Holy Church.
#18 Anonymous on 2011-03-02 10:42
"This whole event shows exactly what the episcopacy in the OCA truly believe: they are the decision makers and everything else is just window dressing."
Could not agree more - Bp. Benjamin uttered those exact words late last summer at dinner following a visit to our parish when questioned about the selection process underway for a bishop of Alaska. Say what one may about Bp. Benjamin, but his loose lips do tend to reflect the true thinking amongst the Synod if actions are any indicator.
#18.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-03 08:14
For the record, the seminary is not mortgaged. The Monastery bookstore and museum is mortgaged.
#18.2 Dn. Marty Watt on 2011-03-03 08:51
Dear Aknonymous #18:
I think you have it all nailed down here.
but how can we change all that?
How can we go forward, knowing all that?
I think that is the question.
Do you have any answers?
I sure don't, except that maybe sometime, somewhere, in a galaxy far away, bishops might just listen to the humble laity who buy their crowns, and maybe pay attention to what they say.
#18.3 jim of Olym on 2011-03-03 18:08
When will people learn that OCANews is working for the good of the church?
This latest episode shows that Mark was revealing the truth before OCA.org was willing to. All those who called Mark a liar owe him an apology - the only liar is our own Metropolitan. Seems to be a recurring problem.
Given this revelation of Synodal disobedience and deception of his own flock, it's beyond me how Met. Jonah can continue as Metropolitan.
#19 Nilus on 2011-03-02 15:27
Boy this is good theatre!
I have to say that I'm really looking forward to the next chapter in this soap opera. What will happen next?
Will the MC resign in a mass show of support for Fr. Garklavs?
Will there be a call to withhold funds again like 2007?
When the Holy Synod breaks the bank by supporting Metro Jo and paying enormous travel and legal bills, who will write the letter to each parish requesting more money?
Given the fact that the MC was excluded from any of the recent decisions the OCA, can we assume that this is the new model of church governance that the church has been talking about for the past two years? It's the new and improved "conciliar approach."
So many questions and so many possibilities ....
We can't be certain about a lot of things, but one thing I'm pretty certain of, this show isn't over yet. We haven't even hit the half-way part of the show. Somehow though, I don't think Christ our Lord is laughing at all of this.
#20 Anonymous2011 on 2011-03-02 16:16
The only scandal here is that the Synod held a pre-Lenten retreat at a luxury spa. At a time when parishes are facing aging populations and threats of foreclosure,and my own diocese (DOEPA) has adopted a strategic "plan" which calls for demotion or dissolution of parishes whih cannot support their clergy andpat their assessments, a retreat of this type is unconscionable. St. Tikhon's is lovely any time of the year, and there is always Antiochian Village.
#21 Anonymous on 2011-03-02 18:58
You may want to look at post #9. I'd hardly call those rates a luxury spa rate. Of course the fact that you think this is the only scandal going on speaks volumes.
#21.1 Anon111 on 2011-03-03 06:58
Please refer to comment #9 above. And have you compared the room rates to Antiochian Village? Or the airfares to Pittsburgh or Scranton?
#21.2 Michael Strelka on 2011-03-03 08:01
May God have mercy on your soul for publishing such lies from the pit.
#22 Anonymous on 2011-03-02 20:30
Oh good grief! Here we have yet another one who feels the need to weigh in from the "Land of De Nial." Anyone can see that although this site's intrepid Editor cannot be said to be a disinterested and objective reporter in this situation as a member of the MC, that he is not just baldly spinning lies. The events and the primary source documents speak for themselves (for them who have ears to hear and eyes to see).
#22.1 Karen on 2011-03-03 11:45
Oh give it a break. The minutes of the Holy Synod posted on the OCA website prove what Mark said was correct. Have you forgotten the fact that if it wasn't for Mark creating this website back in the day, the Kondratick scandal, among other things, would never have come to light? I may not agree with Mark sensationalizing his writing, but if you read the facts through the extra adjectives you can plainly see what he says has been, and still is, true. May take a bit for everything he has said here to be proven true, but as has always happened in the past, it always does prove true over time.
Besides Met Jonah's blatant disregard for the Synods decision for him to take immediate leave as the OCA website itself has even shown, I also find it funny how you seem to care less that Met Jonah has so closely aligned himself with Fr Fester and other members of Kondratick's close inner circle. smacks head If Met Jonah aligning himself with Kondraticks cohorts alone doesn't show there are definitely problems, I don't know what does.
#22.2 Anonymous on 2011-03-05 12:10
I thank our Holy Synod for publishing the minutes from their recent retreat, especially as they clarify the issue of our Metropolitan's current status. Thanks also to Mark.
May the Holy Spirit guide our hierarchs and all of the faithful of the OCA in this difficult time.
the metropolitan was asked to take a leave of absence because it was seen to be beneficial, ok. he was not put on suspension, right. was there anything in the minutes that said this was some sort of suspension or punitive action?
after reading everything it seems perhaps the metropolitan got defensive after he heard things on the internet saying he was actuallly being punished. or so it seems to me.
(Editor's note: Except for the fact the Synod had already come to agreement it was a Leave, that he had actually "changed his mind", and was altering the press release, even before anything appeared on the internet. The only people who said he was being "punished" was +Jonah and his minion, Fester.)
#24 david on 2011-03-03 09:07
"And if you still doubt, ask Archbishop Nathaniel for a copy of his letter to Jonah from Tuesday last....)"
Why don't you post it, Mark? You seem to have the inside scoop on everything else relating to OCA.
(Editor's note: I only post those things related to transparency and accountability and conciliarity. I don't post everything I receive - nor do I post the letters of one bishop chewing out the other. I suggested the commentator ask Archbishop Nathaniel himself because, as I remember, he is a member of the Romanian Episcopate and that would be his bishop.)
#25 Anonymous on 2011-03-03 09:39
Here are some big, unanswered questions.
1. What are the "health issues", characterized by a commenter above as psychological issues, that MJ has? Some have said they've been known "for years". This is the first I've heard of them.
2. Why was Fr. Garklavs fired/asked to resign/forced to resign?
3. Why is Tikhon of the West suddenly popping up again? I sort of suspect it's not just to inform us about the most recent trends in rubrics.
4. What are the unspecified problems/allegations involving Bishop Benjamin which would have disqualified him from serving as locum tenens?
5. How long before Moscow calls and wants autocephaly back?
Editor's note: 1) That, I am sure, is why the Synod wanted him to go in for a medical/spiritual evaluation, as they encouraged him to do. After that, there can be an official diagnosis if such is applicable. Don't hold your breath.
2) That is what we are all waiting to hear from +Jonah.
3) He never left. He has just been ignored by most. Now he published, and retracted, his own story, even while denying he was a fault for anything.
4) Bishop Benjamin is accused by the retired +Nikolai of being an alcoholic, with DUI's, who viewed porn on a church computer. +Benjamin has never denied being an alcoholic, nor denied his DUI's, which led him into AA, which he now refers to as his "other spiritual discipline". He has been sober for years. As for viewing porn, the Bishop has been reticient to deal with that issue because during the time Nikolai alleges this to have happened, he was raising a teenage nephew as his sister was unable to. He can admit he did it, or embarass his nephew who also used the church computer. He chooses to remain silent on the issue. But in the end, these allegations come from a man who really does have more than one ax to grind with +Benjamin, and who, strangely, supposedly would have known all this, and nevertheless, then agreed to his elevation to the episcopacy? His mixture of truth and allegation is not credible, but his desire for revenge is palatable.)
#26 Anonymous on 2011-03-03 10:30
It seems to me there is a bit of ambiguity: the way it was left at the synod was that His Beatitude was granted a leave for not less than sixty days. Who determines the end date?
It seems to me a bit like the 25th Amendment: the president can declare himself disabled, which transfers the powers and duties to the vice president as acting president; at some future point, the president can say he is no longer disabled and reassume the presidency. At that point, the vice president and a majority of the cabinet can interpose their disagreement as to the president's reassumption of power, and then congress would have to determine the matter.
We are seeing here that the synod is suggesting that the Metropolitan needs to take a leave of absence and appointing new locum tenentes for the Midwest and the South (but, interestingly, no administrator for DC). The Metropolitan is now seemingly resisting this. Perhaps his beatitude is thinking he did not realize the implication of disability carried by the synodical action, and is working to create a different understanding of the synod's determination. The synod, it seems, is not having it.
#27 Ed Unneland on 2011-03-03 13:31
My experience is that when disagreements occur, draft minutes of a meeting often reflect the position of the person who takes them. This is why these minutes have to be later reviewed and approved by the same body that met. The "public minutes" posted do not reflect this due process. They clearly contain some inaccuracy in another matter: they say that Fr. Alexander's resignation was accepted but do not say that he presented his resignation. One can fire someone but accepting a resignation means that the person in question asked to be allowed to resign.
I can easily imagine the following situation:
Person A: "Would you like to take a leave of absence?"
Person B: "I would welcome some time off for prayer and reflection."
Person A: "So be it."
After such an exchange, Person A would believe that Person B agreed to a leave of absence, whereas Person B would feel that he did not request a leave of absence but agreed to something different. This is why a due process for approving minutes is important.
At this point, I do not feel that the "public minutes" hastily published on the OCA web site present sufficient evidence. I choose to believe His Beatitude.
(Editor's note: Except these are not draft minutes. These are the Public Minutes, approved for distribution by the Synod. And while you have every right to believe things happened as you state, it is even more reasonable to believe the other eight people in the room, and the Minutes they all attested to...
#28 Vadim on 2011-03-03 16:07
I am really disappointed by the reaction of Metropolitan Jonah, I think it will be very hard for him to assume pastoracy of his brother Bishops anytime soon. I hope that this situation can be healed.
Have a wonderful Lent! Please forgive me a sinner.
#29 Mike on 2011-03-05 13:19
I am really disappointed by the alleged reaction of Metropolitan Jonah if the report is correct, I think it will be very hard for him to assume pastoracy of his brother Bishops anytime soon.
There, fixed it for ya.
#29.1 Steve on 2011-03-14 10:02
Nearly a century ago the theologian Fr Sergei Bulgakov questioned using imperial splendor and fawning adulation of our bishops at hierarchical liturgies and how it is bound to go to their heads to the detriment of true sobornost.
#30 Anonymous on 2011-03-05 21:56
"Nearly a century ago the theologian Fr Sergei Bulgakov questioned using imperial splendor and fawning adulation of our bishops at hierarchical liturgies and how it is bound to go to their heads to the detriment of true sobornost.
Bulgakov didn't like answering to bishops about his "novel" theological views, like Universalism. The students of his academy end up running SVS, after disposing of Fr. Georges Florovsky. A generation passes, SVS welcomes the notorious "Archbishop of Canterbury" in open defiance of their own Metropolitian's support of the Orthodox Church's position on homosexuality. Now, the brilliant theologians have mounted a coup from a luxury spa against the evil monarch Met. Jonah and a likely defender of said coup references Bulgakov as some kind of respected Orthodox source? Well, that is my understanding of history and current events anyway.
(Editor's note: Both of which are woefully deficient and inaccurate. Fr Florovsky had nothing but admiration for Fr. Bulgakov, even if he disagreed with him theologically on some issues. Fr. Florovsky was the one who invited Frs. Schememann and Meyendorff to SVS - and no, neither followed Sophiology. It was the Metropolitan, as President of SVS, who welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury to the school. And their respective positions on homosexuality were irrelevant to the invitation or meaning of the event. There was no coup against +Jonah, except in his mind, which is not say many have not questioned his leadership... You are, friend, entitled to your opinions. You are not entitled to your own facts.)
#31 Lord Have Mercy On Me A Sinner on 2011-03-11 12:18
Mark Stokoe-"Both of which are woefully deficient and inaccurate. Fr Florovsky had nothing but admiration for Fr. Bulgakov, even if he disagreed with him theologically on some issues. Fr. Florovsky was the one who invited Frs. Schememann and Meyendorff to SVS - and no, neither followed Sophiology."
You'll notice I explicitly mentioned Bulgakov's Univeralsim, not his Sophiology. I'm trying hard to hope you didn't try to raise that as attempt to distract from the tradition of tolerance of Universalism by succession of theological greatness at SVS. (Do we see Hopko condemning Ware for flirting with Universalism in The Inner Kingdom? No, we don't.)
THat Florovsky invited and welcomed Schememann and Meyendorff to SVS doesn't mean he should have, or change how he paved way for his own firing. As far inventing my own facts, I simply provide the following sources, the existence of which are facts, which I leave to the you and any other readers to come to your own conclusions on.
The Orthodox Word, Vol. 16, No. 5 (94), pp. 237-242.
(Editor's note: On the contrary, I was giving you the benefit of your questioning. Sophiology is highly controversial: universalism, however, has been advocated by no less than St. Gregory the Theologian. It is a theologumena, not a doctrine of the Church, and as long as it is presented as such, no harm, no foul. Hence Hopko's silence.
As for Fr. Florovsky's firing from SVS, and his replacement by Fr. Alexander, which was done for both policy and personal reasons, it did lead to bitter feelings among many for decades. True. However, Fr. Georges, Alexander and Jean reconciled publicly and privately, a fact visible for all to see even today in the photos of Fr. Georges gracious participation in the 40th anniversary celebrations for SVS in the late 70's. So let's celebrate personal and professional reconciliations when they occur - even if their theological interests, concerns and opinions remained differing, as is natural for people from different generations, and experiences. )
#32 Lord Have Mercy On Me A Sinner on 2011-03-12 10:17
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