Wednesday, March 30. 2011
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So according to the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the West resolutions, what the OCA really needs now is three more committees and two new amendments to its governing documents? And of course the best time to recalibrate the balance of powers that are already in place is in the midst of a raging controversy?
Whether wittingly or not, the Diocesan Council has now exonerated Metropolitan JONAH of all the vague charges that are being hurled at him, by essentially admitting that the only rules he may have violated are rules that they just proposed.
(Editor's note: To paraphrase Charlie Sheen: Confused! No one suggested any amendments. And as I read it no one is seeking to "recalibrate" the balance of powers; merely to use the existing ones so as to bring one of those power back to his conciliar senses. I agree that many of the complaints against the Metropolitan seem "vague" to those who have not worked with him. That is for several reasons, I suspect. One, the Synod was unwilling to list them - and so referred to "mental/spritual" issues in their redacted Minutes. They have the SMPAC report, we don't. I doubt the Metropolitan would like it all spelled out either in a public forum. Secondly, the rule he has broken is obedience to the Synod, which he promised at his consecration. Finally, although the issues surrounding the Metropolitan are "vague" to some; it should give one a clue, and pause, that the entire Synod, the MC, and the Staff - a most highly disparate body from all parts of the OCA - are in agreement that +Jonah is the problem. Not the Statutue, not Syosset, not the other Bishops, not the scandal, not culture wars, not God-knows-what ever else could be raised and troubles the OCA. +Jonah. And it is there the issue will be resolved. )
#1 Cal Oren on 2011-03-30 08:06
Mark, this issue of obedience to the Synod at the Consecration has been brought up on a few occasions.. that is completely balanced by each bishop pledging to be obedient to his Metropolitan at the same service of ordination. Ultimately, all of us are supposed to be obedient to each other in the Church in an obedience of love.
I am not trying to take a side here; but the point is that the divine services ARE balanced and evangelical -- even if we are not.
#1.1 Doesn't Matter on 2011-03-30 13:17
By way of response to a number of points included as "Editor's Notes" in the body of my previous post:
Editor's Note: No one suggested any amendments.
Adding three new oversight committees and two clarifications or additional regulations about the oversight the chancery, its officers and staff, and the departments and offices of the OCA must surely require amending something.
(New Editor's note: To best continue this conversation, it is perhaps best I answer you directly after your comments. Creating new Synodal committees requires no amendments to anything. They already have such authority. Clarifying the existing structures, i.e. the hiring and firing of officers, etc. requires no amendments either. These are already in the competency of the Synod and MC.)
Editor's Note: .... no one is seeking to "recalibrate" the balance of powers; merely to use the existing ones so as to bring one of those power back to his conciliar senses.
See above. When you add three new oversight committees, all reporting to the same body, and all charged with oversight of the Metropolitan, how can you claim this is not an alteration to the balance of powers? I'm not speaking for or against it necessarily, but it surely is an attempt to reign in the power and authority of the Metropolitan.
(New Editor's note: Yes, on that we agree. You see it as an alteration, I see it as regaining balance lost. )
Editor's Note: ... the Synod was unwilling to list them (the charges against the Metropolitan) .....I doubt the Metropolitan would like it all spelled out either in a public forum.
The Synod can certainly speak for itself, which they did with the release of their minutes, in which they granted Metropolitan Jonah the leave he requested. Insinuating that the Metropolitan would be embarrassed, humiliated or discredited by the Synod making specific charges against him is character assassination.
(Editor's note: Such was not my goal. The Synod can speak for itself, but didn't, alas. Instead, in the published Minutes it listed only the following reason for its actions: the Metropolitan must undergo a "medical/spiritual" evaluation. By putting things in that context one can almost guarantee little will ever be discussed publicly, since while one can debate someone's actions or public decisions, I personally would find it inappropriate for anyone to discuss publicly something so personal as a "medical/spiritual" evaluation. I would find that embarrassing, etc. That was my point. If I failed to make that clear, I do apologize.)
Editor's Note: ... the rule he has broken is obedience to the Synod, which he promised at his consecration.
Are we supposed to accept this based on your statement alone? What are the acts of disobedience to which you refer? Is this the Synod's allegation, or yours? Has there been any statement of charges, presentation of evidence, calling of witnesses, etc.?
(New Editor's note: No, you can take the word of the Synod in the only document we have: the Minutes. It specifically states: "The Holy Synod discussed matters affecting the primatial service of His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH. Holy Synod members affirmed their love and obedience to the Metropolitan and reminded him that love and obedience are also reciprocal between the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod. There must be mutual obedience." It then went on to state: His Beatitude, Metropolitan JONAH will fulfill the final recommendation of the investigative report concerning an on-going issue." Pretty clear the Synod has obedience issues with +Jonah.
And having said that what happened? Again the Minutes: "Metropolitan JONAH thanked the brothers for their concern and acknowledged that a leave of absence would be beneficial and noted that he had not had much time off since his election as Primate.
Bishop TIKHON asked His Beatitude if he needed any time to reflect upon these matters.
Metropolitan JONAH declined and confirmed that he would abide by the counsel of his brothers."
Only he didn't.
The Synod had agreed upon a press release: "C. The Holy Synod will issue a press release, to be dated Friday, February 25, 2011:",- only he changed it.
And so on, and so forth. I do not expect the Synod will create a list of canonical charges against +Jonah, because that was never their intention or goal. I do not think they wanted this discussion all in the public; it was +Jonah who made it so. )
Editor's Note: ...it should give one a clue, and pause, that the entire Synod, the MC, and the Staff - a most highly disparate body from all parts of the OCA - are in agreement that +Jonah is the problem.
That is a broad and sweeping conclusion of breathtaking proportions, for which you offer NO EVIDENCE. These three bodies are all composed of very articulate individuals, all of them quite capable individually and corporately of speaking for themselves. You are asking us to believe that they are suddenly all voiceless, and / or they all asked you to speak for them.
(New Editor's note: Well, I have never claimed to speak for either the Synod, or MC, or Staff; nor can I. I do report on things people tell me however, and whenever possible, I state the source. But so far, as you point out, these highly articulate people have yet to contradict me on anything I have reported.
I am sure there is a great deal of varied opinions as to what to do, and how to do it, and what should and can be done: but I think I am safe in asserting the one thing I have been asserting since the beginning of this turmoil. Everyone agrees +Jonah's actions and inactions are at the root of our current turmoil, however you want to define them, and however you think they should be resolved.)
Metropolitan JONAH's accusers owe it to him, and even more so to the entire American Orthodox community to articulate the charges - if there are any - so that they can be adjudicated in a canonical manner, and cease from the innuendo and disparaging insinuations in the meantime.
(New Editor's note: The Synod has not insinuated anything. They have come out and contradicted his assertions: for example, he claimed he was not on Leave, but only at "rest". The Minutes show that was false. I am not sure what you mean by "canonical manner" since there has never, neither in the Minutes or the MC, or in the meeting with +Hilarion, any talk of anyone wanting to move against +Jonah canonically. As the Minutes state: "The members of the Holy Synod emphasized that it was their desire for His Beatitude to sincerely take this time to address issues of his well-being so that he could most effectively fulfill his responsibilities as Primate of the Church." Not, as you suggest, or as Fr. Fester decries, so they could remove him from that office. As to the Synod's views now, I suspect we will only hear them in May, since according to their common decision, the Metropolitan is off for sixty days.)
#1.2 Cal Oren on 2011-03-30 16:43
Good for the Diocese of the West!
Finally - a level headed approach to the problems facing the OCA and a proposed course of action. Up until now, we have had nothing but silence from our leaders.
AND - get this:
members of the Diocese of the West were informed of the action taken by the Diocesan Council within hours on the Diocesan website.
Now , that's accountability and transparency.
Bainbridge Island, WA
(Editor's note: I agree with your comments regarding accountability and transparency wholeheartedly!)
#2 Eugenie Osmun on 2011-03-30 08:21
Notice one of those elected clergy members is the Archpriest David Brum.
So much for that pro-Kondratick conspiracy to keep Met. Jonah in power!
(Editor's note: Yet another? You seem obsessed with seeing conspiracies, friend.)
#3 Cordelia on 2011-03-30 08:43
to the editor: I think you misread Cordelia's comment. She is saying this is evidence that there is NOT a conspiracy since Archpriest Brum was on the committee as well.
(Editor's note: I understand. My point is that only she thought there might have been a conspiracy in the first place....)
#3.1 Fiona on 2011-03-30 10:55
You seem obsessed with creating them, homeskillet!
(Editor's note: Now, now, let's show the people we can play nicely, like adults.)
#3.2 Cordelia on 2011-03-30 12:25
Hey, all it does is show that this is not you fighting Team Kondratick again. Apparently, Fr. Brum himself no longer believes in the "Brum Doctrine".
It also vindicates Fr. Joseph Fester's recent actions to a degree: it's no longer so easy for me to imagine that Fester's involvement is from Kondratick pulling the strings to keep Metropolitan Jonah in power.
(Editor's note: It shows no such thing. But I am glad you feel vindicated so easily, and despite the evidence.)
#3.2.1 Cordelia on 2011-04-01 07:46
Okay, I give up. What do you, Mr. Stokoe, think it means for a "Kondratick inner circle" member, and architect of the "Brum Doctrine", to vote in favor of a resolution that presumes to ask the Holy Synod to treat the Metropolitan like a naughty child who can be denied his allowance?
(Editor's note: I think you said it quite well: that the Council of the Diocese of the West, among them Fr. Brum, recognized the Metropolitan was acting inappropriately, and should be disciplined accordingly. Unfortunately, we are not dealing with a child here though, but the adminsitration of a Church. )
#220.127.116.11 Cordelia on 2011-04-01 17:55
Is that so, Mr. Stokoe?
After Fr. Brum's credibility was so effectively destroyed by you when he was being considered as a bishop candidate for the Diocese of New York and New Jersey, where Brum conveniently neglected to mention his work in Syosset during 1998-2000?
After Bishop Benjamin cleverly ducked the question of Brum's involvement in the Kondratick scandal by saying the SIC had never found Brum misappropriating funds, but neglected to mention that whole firing-the-whistleblower thingy, or the passage from his own report that did say Brum was in Kondratick's "Inner Circle"?
The only difference is that Bp. Benjamin defined said inner circle as those misappropriating funds, when the report defined it as people who were close to Kondratick and knew something of his financial dealings. Bp. Benjamin's answer was true in a strictly literal sense, but a lie of omission is still a lie.
Gee, I might think Fr. Brum's record "hardly demonstrates worthiness of serious consideration". And for that matter, Bishop Benjamin's, since he apparently has a mind that conveniently forgets what the committee he chaired put in a report when advocating candidates for the episcopacy. Or is that kind of language only used for people when they are not supporting yours and Fr. Hopko's views?
(Editor's note: I have no dog in this fight, friend, I just reported what the DOW adopted. I didn't even mention Fr. Brum in my report. If you want an explanation of his views, I suggest you ask Fr. Brum. However, your reply does reveal one thing: anybody who crosses +Jonah, or his supporters, had better watch their back, even old friends like +B and Fr. Brum. Who's next? +Tikhon? +Melchizedek? +Michael? Or the entire OCA, sans your coterie? Oh, I forgot - we are already the Orthodox Circus in America. Keep going, friend, keep going, for your vehemence and vindictiveness are showing the world more than anybody wanted to see.)
#18.104.22.168.1 Cordelia on 2011-04-04 07:13
I suppose I should mention that I don't have anything to do with OCATruth. I don't like their low standards for publishing rumor and innuendo. You should cut them a break, though, because their sloppiness has done nearly as much damage to the Metropolitan's reputation as you have.
As for my "coterie", like I said, now who's seeing conspiracies? This may have escaped your attention, but not everyone working "against you" is on the same "side". I couldn't care less about the "culture wars" aspect of things. What I care about is you using your blog as leverage to influence the OCA administration, and manipulating public opinion with your selective coverage.
You said, "However, your reply does reveal one thing: anybody who crosses +Jonah, or his supporters, had better watch their back, even old friends like +B and Fr. Brum."
Actually, what my reply revealed was that Bp. Benjamin and Fr. Brum turned their backs on the Metropolitan, not the other way around. As I recall, Met. Jonah was trying to make Fr. Brum the new chancellor fairly recently. I see no evidence of the Metropolitan doing anything to Fr. Brum, unless you have some unpublished information to this effect. The only reason I brought up Fr. Brum is because it's awfully weird for you to trust this document when its own credibility partially rests on Fr. Brum's. As you yourself pointed out, he is less than fully credible, and close enough to Bp. Benjamin that the good bishop would go to bat for him in front of the Diocese of NY/NJ search committee.
As for the other council members, an earlier comment pointed out that the diocese didn't even bother holding an election, just an "acclamation". Sounds like a very credible bunch of people to me. Maybe Fr. Brum hasn't given up on his doctrine after all, only adapted it for use in the context of a diocese with a bishop and a council.
The only thing I can see as possible retaliation against either of them is perhaps Met. Jonah's attempt to investigate allegations against Bp. Benjamin in February. If it helps, those letters from Bp. Nikolai were leaked onto a certain gender-confused blogger's site in early February. Perhaps Met. Jonah had never seen them before. (I can see him throwing away letters from Bp. Nikolai unopened!)
Or, maybe Met. Jonah figured it was not too late to do the right thing, much like the rest of the Holy Synod supposedly deciding that after 25 years of sticking their fingers in their ears and determinedly singing "LA LA LA LA LA," it was time to do something about Archbishop Seraphim.
(Editor's note: I have never said Fr. Brum was not credible - nor does his signing a document with others make it less credible. I have not attended a Diocesan Council meeting in the west in more than thirty years, so I have no idea if things are by acclamation. But adopting something unanimously does not necessarily mean it is suspect - unless of course this is Khazakstan. My objection was to his being put forth as a candidate for Bishop without having fully disclosed his role and participation in the events of the 1990's. That being said, there are lots of credible men who I do not think should be a bishop! Credibility is a start, but not the whole package. As for +Jonah, the Synod and +Seraphim, they only stopped singing LALALALA, as you point out, only when the Canadian police were about to act. The question is when did they know what. Hardly a cause for reassurance, however.
And if the Metropolitan is in the habit, as you speculate, of throwing away letters from former Bishops who most recently had threatened the OCA with lawsuits, we are in a pretty pickle. I sincerely doubt he did that. )
#22.214.171.124.1.1 Cordelia on 2011-04-04 09:27
Cordelia wrote, "If it helps, those letters from Bp. Nikolai were leaked onto a certain gender-confused blogger's site in early February. Perhaps Met. Jonah had never seen them before. (I can see him throwing away letters from Bp. Nikolai unopened!)"
I obviously can't say that Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen opened the letters which were purported to be from Bishop Nikolai Soraich. However, I can say with 100% certainty that I mailed him, the rest of the synod, Bishop Nikolai, and the entire metropolitan council copies of those letters on July 14, 2009, shortly after Cappy Larson and I received them. I can also say that on another occasion we received a response from the metropolitan.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Thanks, Ms. Sakoda.
#126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Cordelia on 2011-04-04 19:27
My point is that they weren't elected by the diocese, so their resolution reflects nothing more than the wishes of those who put them in the position to be "acclaimed" onto the council. They have no mandate from the masses, as it were. Not even a farcical aquatic ceremony!
The fact that one of those "acclaimed" happens to be someone named in the SIC report in the same fashion as Fr. Joseph Fester tells me quite a bit. I am under the impression that you do not think that it is important to question the DOW's process of selecting council members. If it turns out they actually vote by acclamation, too, that is even worse. Would you find those processes more important if the council, with Bp. Benjamin's support, had passed a resolution to heap autocratic power on the Metropolitan?
I am also questioning is the abuse heaped on Fr. Fester for speaking out, compared to the total lack of outrage over Fr. Brum and Bp. Benjamin. Why, someone down below made a transparent reference to Fr. Fester as one of the "discredited and characterless individuals from the former regime".
Hmm, methinks there are four bishops still on the Synod who were among those "discredited and characterless individuals", too. Metropolitan Jonah begged us to forgive them for their moral failure in prolonging the Kondratick scandal by their inaction. Perhaps Met. Jonah's critics are right, and they were undeserving of that forgiveness.
Fr. Brum's judgment is not being questioned by you, even though you once asserted that you had eleven pages of documents in your possession that indicated that Fr. Brum was no innocent or ignorant bystander in Syosset while Kondratick did his business. Bp. Benjamin's judgment is not being questioned by you, even though he recommended the above individual as a candidate for the episcopacy. If Fr. Fester crawled out of the mud pit that was the former administration, those two are covered in the same mud. So yes, I find it exceedingly strange that they are not being condemned in the same terms.
I was joking somewhat about Met. Jonah chucking letters from Bishop Nikolai. Of course Met. Jonah would read them, he's not an idiot. But I would not blame him for not taking them seriously at first, especially if his friend's response was, "What, are you going to believe the bitter rantings of a known lunatic, now?"
(Editor's note: If you think the former Bishop of Sitka is a "known lunatic" you are not only incorrect, but a fool to boot. The former Bishop may be many things, including bitter, but I know no one who thinks him a "lunatic". Hardly. As for Bishop Benjamin's attitudes towards the former "inner circle" of RSK, I suggest you ask him, for I have no authority to speak for him on the topic, nor would I venture a guess as we have never spoken on the topic during MC meetings. My position remains the same as it always has been, following the SIC report: neither man should be considered for future high office in the OCA. That includes being Bishop or Chancellor, or staff member. And I never said I had "11 pages" of anything. You have me confused with Joe McCarthy. Finally, I do not know how the Diocesan Council members of the West are chosen. We elect ours in the Midwest, so I assumed, perhaps falsely, they were in the West. Is that no so? The Statute doesn't say: it simply says the Assembly decides how the Council shall be composed. Certainly, if the members of the Council are simply appointed by the Bishop that is a worrisome and troubling procedure - not because he can't pick good people - but because, as history has taught us, one tends to gravitate towards those who agree, rather than disagree with one. This can lead to disaster over time. Does anybody out there know how Council members are chosen in the West?)
#184.108.40.206.1.1.2 Cordelia on 2011-04-05 07:37
I did read the letters myself and, forgive me, but I would say on that basis that Bp. Nikolai's got a couple of bats in that belfry somewhere. I would never say he wasn't intelligent and conversant on top of that, though.
As for the eleven pages bit, all I can say is here you go, Senator: "OCANews.org has obtained eleven pages of memos and documents written by Brum..." http://ocanews.org/news/SearchCommitteeQuestioned8.24.09.html
Not only did you say you had eleven pages of documents, you even went on to say you had even more evidence than the SIC. You tell 'em!
As for the process of election to the diocesan council in the DOW, here's a link to the earlier comment:
The commenter claims that with respect to the Diocesan Council of the DOW, "EVERY decision is 'unanimous'" and that "there was not even a real election for Diocesan Council this past year. We just accepted the slate of the anointed leadership by 'acclamation.'"
Also, take this passage from the minutes of the 2010 DOW Diocesan Assembly (http://www.dowoca.org/files/assemblies/2010/2010_Diocesan_Assembly_Minutes_DRAFT.pdf):
"On behalf of the Nominations Committee, Archpriest Matthew [Tate] presented the nominations of Priests Christopher Swanson (Poulsbo, Washington) and John Strickland (Kirkland, Washington) as DC clergy representatives, and Dorothy Nowik (Seattle, Washington) and Mary Caetta (Port Townsend, Washington) as DC lay representatives. There were no nominations from the floor. Archpriest Matthew then presented the nominations of Archpriest David Lowell as MC clergy representative, and Dr. Dimitri Solodow for a second term as MC lay representative. Since there were again no nominations from the floor, and no need to print ballots, Archpriest John Dresko moved to accept the nominees by acclamation. Archpriest John Pierce seconded. The nominees were elected unanimously."
It may not sound too devious considering that they did open the floor for nominations, but it shows that this council has essentially become a self-chosen, self-elected entity, with the delegates allowing two district deans and an existing council member to run the entire election process. Later in the council you can see that same council member introducing a motion (which was passed) to make diocesan deans voting members of the DC. Cue some scary music.
Perhaps this is more of an issue with the delegates treating the process with insufficient seriousness from their failure to nominate a single competing candidate, but the Diocesan Council of the DOW remains what it is, a "slate of anointed leadership". I therefore decline to accept their resolution as evidence of a popular uprising.
(Editor's note: Thanks for the clarifications, which I will address one by one.
• I don't think anyone besides you stated there was "popular uprising" in the West - certainly I never did.
• It would appear from your research that the Diocesan Council of the West is elected fairly. There is nothing wrong with no one nominating from the floor, if the Assembly members do not take advantage of the opportunities afforded them. Moreover, while I do not usually support a single slate of candidates, if no representatives object, the issue is not the process, but the lack of candidates. Why is that the case, one could ask? But there is no evidence to disparage those elected, even if they were all done so uanimously because no one ran against them. Alas, we have the same in more than one congressional district, don't we? I don't like it - but I have no reason to think those elected are not validly chosen, or do not represent their districts.
• I am happy to see you have clarified "lunatic" to only a few "bats in the belfry".
• Finally as for the 11 pages, I thought you were claiming I had other "secret" documents somewhere; in fact the 11 pages you referenced were the texts I published concerning Fr. Brum's participation in providing the justifications for firing Eric Wheeler during the course of the NY-NJ episcopal selection process. No secrets there, and everybody can read them for themselves and make their own judgements. Which, I assume, everyone did.
• I would never say I had "more evidence" than the SIC committee, because that would mean I was privy to all the evidence the SIC reviewed - which I wasn't. I have no idea all the evidence they had, or have, or saw - nor does anyone who was not on the SIC panel. I know what they published, and I know what I told them - so think you have misinterpreted what I said. )
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Cordelia on 2011-04-05 10:36
Thanks for your thorough reply, Mark.
I wasn't saying you called it a "popular uprising", but it did seem to be an implication from the headline. Your headline was "Diocese of the West", not "Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the West". I would guess the council is meant to represent the DOW, but to me that's still a somewhat inappropriate conflation when I consider how that council came to be and to vote on that issue. It gives an impression of mass support in DOW that I do not think is warranted.
Also, you say, "there is no evidence to disparage those elected". Well, not the ones elected at that council, I suppose, but from the earlier comment posted here, it's clear that not all DOW members are comfortable with what happened there. It sounds like that person was possibly a delegate. Maybe he or she should speak up.
You say, "the 11 pages you referenced were the texts I published concerning Fr. Brum's participation in providing the justifications for firing Eric Wheeler during the course of the NY-NJ episcopal selection process." Your article explicitly called it "new evidence", meaning, I assume, that it was new to you, not necessarily new to the SIC. Regardless, it led you to conclusions that the SIC did not come to in 2008.
Also, I'm sorry, but I cannot find those eleven pages of documents and memoranda anywhere on your site. I have tried searching for titles like "Comments on the letter placing Protodeacon Eric Wheeler on a six-month leave of absence" and “Why was the review of the chancery operations done?”, and the only result anywhere on the web is from your article. So, I haven't been able to review those documents myself. Granted, at the time this broke, I was busy watching the Antiochian production of "Dances with Seminarians", so I can't recall paying much attention to the Diocese of NY/NJ bishop selection issue at the time. However, if those files are still available, I'd be much obliged if you would give a link.
(Editor's note: Kudos on "Dances with Seminarians": very funny, the the whole situation hadn't been so tragic. As for the 11 pages of memos you refer to, they were given to Metropolitan Jonah, who was the locum tenens and oversaw the election process. As Fr. Deacon Wheeler wrote on 9 August 09 "And again, for the record, the documents prepared by Father Brum which I provided Mark Stokoe, and delivered by hand on Monday night to Metropolitan JONAH, shed no new light on the detailed report produced by the SIC. The intent of the release was only meant to counter the neglected fact in Father Brums’ resume (and address the chatter on the internet) that he was a key member of the Kondratick administration during the years 1999-2000." As historical records they may be of some importance to future historians of this time, but there would be little point or purpose for the Metropolitan to publish them now.)
#22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.1 Cordelia on 2011-04-05 15:44
The eleven pages of documents I meant were what you referred to as the "texts [you] published concerning Fr. Brum's participation in providing the justifications for firing Eric Wheeler, " those documents that "everybody can read them for themselves and make their own judgements." Those are the ones I cannot find anywhere on your site or on the internet, which is what I believed you meant in saying that you published them and everybody can read them. If they are indeed available, I would be much obliged if you or somebody pointed out where they are. I can give you an email address if that would help.
Also, please don't construe the "Dances with Seminarians" phrase as a failure to take that situation seriously. Sometimes, it's easier to laugh at something than cry about it, like your using "Troy Story" for the situation in Troy, Michigan.
(Editor's note: No offense or disrespect intended. Just a little humour, which I noted and appreciated in your case. These were/are difficult times in both jurisdictions, and laughing is often welcome. As for Fr. Brum's documents: in looking back I see I did not publish them in full 2 years ago. If I said they were published, that was my error. There was, as you point out, rather a great deal going on in the AOCNA at that time. Rather, looking back, I see I quoted them, and then the Deacon gave them to the Metropolitan; and they did not subsequently appear in full on the Forum or other venues as was the usual case for things like that. I suggest you contact Protodeacon Wheeler, the Metropolitan , or Fr. Brum if you would like copies. )
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.1.1 Cordelia on 2011-04-06 08:42
Understood. Thank you for explaining, and appreciating my humor.
(Editor's note: I just wish everyone would lighten up a bit. Why? Because it is a gift given to us here that we should enjoy. I read something profound the other day about humour by Mark Twain - who while not a theologian, nor even a Christian, had a insight into heaven that would have done a Church Father's speculation proud. Twain said that all humour was really based on suffering - and therefore, there was no humour in heaven. Interesting, no?)
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.1.1.1 Cordelia on 2011-04-08 09:39
On that we fully agree, my good man. Handshake?
(Editor's note: Always.)
#22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Cordelia on 2011-04-08 15:54
"... that the entire Synod, the MC, and the Staff - a most highly disparate body from all parts of the OCA - are in agreement that +Jonah is the problem."
Perhaps the MC has met clandestinely and arrived at this consensus?
In point of fact (unless I've missed another putsch), you do not speak for the MC - only your faction of the MC (i.e. those on your select MC email list). Please correct me if I am in error.
Additionally, your comment in your article (one of the least hysterical in recent memory) contains one glaring bit of spin, to whit:
"...an especially unfortunate position as +Jonah precipitated the crisis on the final day of the meeting of Orthodox Churches in Chambesy, Switzerland."
This is almost laughable - like the Synod, you & a few of your pals on the MC, and some of the Syosset crowd had no part in precipitating this crisis? Get real - you folks engineered this mess from day one.
(Editor's note: I do not speak for the whole MC, but I have participated in two meetings with the whole MC and the Metropolitan where these issues have been discussed. And such was the case. Secondly, I am repeating the assertion of Fr. Lowell - so it is his " spin" which you are criticizing, not mine. As he was there, and you were not, it seems odd for you to criticize what he claims to have heard. Finally, as for having engineered this whole "mess" - sorry, I did not. I didn't agree to go on Leave, and then change my mind, and then alter a press release, and then propose something different. I didn't even break the story; but waited so as to correct the more sensational ( and incorrect) early accounts. Most pointedly, I didn't have any role in the decision of the Bishops to ask +Jonah for a Leave. So, far from having "engineered" this mess, I am simply a "distraction" you hope to target to draw attention from where it needs be: the actions of the Metropolitan. Well, it hasn't worked.)
#4 Heracleides on 2011-03-30 08:50
I didn't have any role in the decision of the Bishops to ask +Jonah for a Leave. So, far from having "engineered" this mess, I am simply a "distraction" ....
Awww comon Mark, you were seen in SantaFe, at baggage claim, hiding inside a Samsonite. The question is, what was I doing there?! Wait! brb, I'm being followed!!!!
(Editor's note: LOL. Really, I couldn't have been in Santa Fe, because I was seen at the Antiochian Convention at the time....)
#4.1 Fr. Rodion Serling on 2011-03-30 10:55
While I think it rather petty for a Diocesan Council to add yet another chef to the kitchen (the Synod and the MC and the Chancery staff are already enough), it seems as if a way forward can be found hiding behind all of the particulars.
It seems as if there is a feeling that the office of "head of state" should be divorced from the office of the "chief executive". In the US, the President holds both offices; in the UK, these offices are separated with the Prime Minister acting as the chief executive and the Queen acting as head of state.
This does seem to get at the root disagreement. Met. Jonah would seem to see his role as primarily that of a diocesan hierarch able to act as he would within his canonical boundaries whereas others see his role as primarily that of the OCA's head of state whose every action speaks on behalf of the OCA as a whole. As there is no single way in which primacy is understood or exercised withing the local Orthodox Churches*, it makes sense that a young church like the OCA is still developing its own internal traditions regarding this primacy and its interrelationship with the Synod as well as far less well attested organs like the MC (overlapping jurisdictions, Chambesy and its Episcopal Assembly).
It sounds as if a change in the Statute is in the works after all. That may not be uncalled for as the OCA moves from a centralized, "Muscovite" primacy to a more decentralized primacy ("Serbian"?) with the Synod and the MC taking on greater executive responsibilities than they have in the past.
* Mixed in with his unavowedly Eastern Catholic views on Catholic-Orthodox relations, Dr. Adam DeVille has done research on the differing ways primacy is exercised within the local Orthodox churches in his recently published "Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity" (University of Notre Dame Press, 2011)
#5 melxiopp on 2011-03-30 08:55
Perhaps a Metropolitan that is more of a spiritual figurehead would be appropriate for the realities of Orthodox church life in America. Perhaps a monastic Metropolitan with a diocese the size of that monastery and its vicinity (e.g., St. Tikhon's, Kodiak, Syosset as a monastery) or at one of the seminaries. The administrative, fiscal, legal, strategic aspect of the primacy seems to be the primary issue many have with Met. Jonah. A separation of spiritual and liturgical leadership from administrative and fiscal leadership might be helpful.
#5.1 melxiopp on 2011-03-30 16:18
I think the idea of a diocese the size of a monastery and its surroundings was the original raison d'etre of the Diocese of Washington.
#5.1.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2011-03-31 07:28
I refer you to Fr. Nicholas Ferencz's excellent book, American Orthodoxy and Parish Congregationalism (my review here), in which he argues that at least at the parish level, that's pretty much what we have. While he says that there's nothing really in the Tradition that allows for such a model, he argues that it is nonetheless the compromise that has emerged from the strange historical circumstances that brought Orthodox Christians here and has allowed the crazy-quilt hodgepodge Orthodoxy that we have in this country to function at all, within both an American legal and cultural framework. It's a good and thought-provoking read, and he suggests some ways forward that definitely are not going to be easy within the circumstances we have. It's a Gorgias Press book, which means it's expensive, but Amazon actually has it right now for under $60.
It's probably worth reflecting for a moment that the primary issues seems to be interpersonal, not canonical and not legal.
Lack of obedience is too broad a canonical catch-all for what can just as easily be framed as a struggle over the rights and prerogatives of a diocesan hierarch who is also primate, especially following what can easily be seen as an attempt to remove the Met. from office by talking him into a 'leave of absence' he did not realize was code for the Bp Boris treatment.
The issue regarding the release of nuns is surely far more murky than we have been led to believe. It's not hard to imagine a verbal agreement reneged on after the nuns were already here, or that Chancery officials muddied the waters with the Greek bishop by saying no approval had yet been given by the Synod (which sets up yet another question regarding whether a diocesan hierarch can do anything without approval from the Synod, cf. the Antiochian Archdiocese).
The Sexual Misconduct Report hasn't been released, but it seems as if the primary issue is one of process, execution of duties, communications and potential legal responsibility. These are not unimportant. However, they are also not canonical issues as much as they are proof that an MDiv and the laying on of hands doesn't magically give one executive or managerial powers. This is a call for a reodering of executive responsibilities for the OCA, not for a new person to wear the same hat.
The irony of bishops complaining about not being listened to should also be acknowledged. One can't expect treatment not usually given. While we are a hierarchical church, we are small, we are poor, we are divided. Bishops are not princes of the church for they have not the means of princes. They are the first among their fellow-workers (their priests), but many a priest can laugh at the miffed sensibilities of bishops being ignored by their own 'first'. "Physician, heal thyself!"
(Editor's note: While all those issues are dealt with in the SMPAC report, that is not the main issue of the Report. To reduce it to just those is to misrepresent it. You do raise an interesting theoretical point: is it possible to successfully run a 21st century church in a constitutional pluralist democracy predicated on the rule of law on the basis of 12th century canons that presuppose an sovereign emperor over an ecumene that recognized slavery, but not sexual misconduct? Or litigation? What happens when situations arise that are not foreseen by the 12th, 13th or even 19th centuries? Like the internet, or globalization, where Bishops, foreign and domestic can jet wherever in the world in less time than it took for a rural bishop to ride into the capital in 875 AD. Or monasteries owning hundreds of millions in assets? What do we do then? Are we just a museum piece dedicated to the fulfilling of ancient legislation, or a living tradition that can canonically adapt, even if it means ignoring, changing, or (God forbid!) initiating responses? I have no answers here; just questions. But I think them important ones.)
#6 melxiopp on 2011-03-30 09:12
I agree with u Mark.
I suppose that until the bishops convene the Great Council, we will just have to .....hope for the best.
Or wait! Maybe God gave us a local Church and a brain, to make local solutions, until such time? No, probably not! After all, while Constantinople fiddles, the New World burns......
#6.1 the whale on 2011-03-30 11:09
Be fair, now. The burning in the OCA is entirely of your own creation; Constantinople had nothing to do with it.
With love of Christ's Holy Orthodox Church,
(Editor's note: Touche. It is our problem, and as an autocephalous Church, we can and will solve it. Just as Jerusalem is solving their primatial mess; and Cyprus solved theirs. Let us only hope it doesn't take as long.)
And if it takes "foreign" involvement to solve it...? What would that say about the maturity of the Church in America and its readiness (or un-readiness) for independence?
With love of Christ's Holy Orthodox Church,
(Editor's note: Since it hasn't, and won't, the issue is moot. And I, for one, will be mature enough not to take the bait.)
Well, it hasn't *yet*... although I did note that the MP gave the OCA a very stern warning to make sure everything was done "canonically and in good order." As to whether it *will*... we'll see. I don't see things getting any better.
All this is one reason I take with a very large rock of salt the oft-floated assertion that we poor benighted souls in the Greek Archdiocese are so bad off because we are under "foreign" bishops, and how much better the OCA is because it isn't.
I look at the latest round of the OCA events and say: Oh, really?
Happy in the GOA under my local Metropolitan of Atlanta,
(Editor's note: Reminding someone to act "canonically" in the Orthodox Church is hardly a warning, nor stern: it is like saying Vespers is in the evening and Matins in the morning. It's just the way things are done. ( Except during Holy Week, when they are not, of course.) And I wish you all the best in the GOA. I look forward to the day when all the initials and acronyms that divide us now are dropped into the dustbin of history, freely and joyfully.)
People in the GOAA aren't bad off at all! I just found out via the Greek Orthodox parish I recently started attending that Greek Independence Day (Annunciation in other jurisdictions) is a cheese day! I love cheese, so my disappointment that the OCA couldn't publicize that better when I was attending an OCA parish knows no bounds .
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Mariko Hishamunda on 2011-03-31 17:22
It's Annunciation in the GOA, too... we had Liturgy that morning for the Feast in our GOA parish... same for the other GOA parishes around Atlanta & the Metropolis.
Nobody told me about the cheese, though... gotta love Swiss!
With love of Christ's Holy Orthodox Church,
Mark, let's get real. "Conciliar" and "vague" are an oxymoron. If there is a "problem" that necessitates treating a metropolitan like a kid with an allowance, we need to know about it. Where's the transparency? Using Metropolitan Jonah's potential embarrassment as a reason for keeping us in the dark is particularly disturbing because whatever is going on couldn't be half as bad as we're being led to imagine. You keep saying Jonah is the issue. Well, that hasn't been demonstrated (to us) and a lot of what we're reading isn't adding up. If this group of people is going to malign a metropolitan and undercut his authority, they'd better be prepared to explain why. The clandestine, behind the scenes, "we're doing this for the good of the Archdiocese" stuff doesn't fly with me. It wouldn't fly with you either if you weren't one of them.
(Editor's note: As for vague and conciliar being oxymorons, that is simply untrue and inaccurate. Conciliar decisions can be vague; witness Nicea onwards, where the Church kept having to clarify what it meant on the basis of new questions and concerns. So too here.
The Synod attempted to put +Jonah on a Leave for 60 days, and he balked and that opened the floodgates of "why". It was not a question the Synod wanted discussed, hoping, thereby, the problem could be addressed by actions he was to take on his Leave. Hence the vague " medical/spiritual" reference in the Minutes. That was not to be the case, however. No one has "maligned" the Metropolitan, except his partisans who claimed he was the "victim" of a conspiracy. The Metropolitan then in public statements, videos, and interviews, etc., has only muddied the waters even more, and most likely prevented resolution without full disclosure of all the issues. That this is now necessary is evidenced by your question - and the questions of many others. Is that wise, though? Is that prudent? Is that necessary? I don't know - but I imagine it will all be discussed in May. As for a resolution - who knows?)
#7 Gail Sheppard on 2011-03-30 09:29
"Conciliar," to me, means "participatory," but how can one participate, even peripherally, if things are so "vague" that no one knows what's really going on? Not sure this is what we signed up for when we got on the "transparency" bandwagon. - I am horrified by the cavalier attitude reflected in the emails that have surfaced. Surely this situation, whatever it is, can be handled with some sense of decorum.
#7.1 Gail Sheppard on 2011-03-30 14:27
I am not sure this is the correct thread to ask this on. I hope it is possible to move this if incorrect.
My question is could you clarify if what OCAtruth said is correct or incorrect when they said +Jonah was told to check into an addiction rehab center.
(Editor's note: There is no evidence in the Synod Minutes that this was the case. As I was not present at the meeting, I have no idea what was or was not said privately. But to open such a thread of speculation, in the absence of evidence, would be wrong. Let's not.)
#8 Fiona on 2011-03-30 11:02
I like Bishop Benjamin and respect his work and ministry. That said this makes no sense. Committees and subcommittees are not counciliar nor canonical. Neither is weighing as a single diocese when no council has been convened, and he should weigh in as a Bishop, nobody should give 2 dead wombats what some extra-canonical body or group says. There are thousands of letters written by bishops down through the agers and that thing resembles none of them near as closely as it does a stern memo from a small town PTA.
Credibility, for the love of Elvis Presley, get it right guys!
(Editor's note: Diocesan Councils are "extra-canonical"? Wow. And Committees are "not Conciliar"? Wow again. And "Two dead wombats"? Where are you from? Seriously, I think if you are in the OCA, even in Australia, you might reconsider your jurisidictional affiliation because this is a conciliar Church, that has committees and departments, even if the canons don't mention their existence. Wow.)
#9 otsukafan on 2011-03-30 11:03
For the record: there are no OCA parishes in Australia. (One went to the local Antiochian Archdiocese, one to the local ROCOR diocese and the last one went recently to the local Serbian diocese...thus accomplishing exactly what the OCAs stated objective was (i.e. to care for the parishes until things in Australia could be normalised).
#9.1 Skippy on 2011-03-30 23:03
Anyone who attends assemblies or councils of the West might appreciate that EVERY decision is "unanimous"-in at least potential violation of the Diocesan Bylaws, there was not even a real election for Diocesan Council this past year. We just accepted the slate of the anointed leadership by "acclamation."
Nothing particularly sinister about that-but it makes such a "unanimous" set motions less impressively transparent and accountable.
(Editor's note": Then don't. Nothing will change if you, and the others, continue to accept such a situation by "acclaiming". Unanimity is one thing; coercion, either overt or covert, is quite another.)
#10 West Coaster on 2011-03-30 13:23
I know we don't run our meetings by Robert's Rules of Order, but those rules stipulate that it only takes one person objecting to a vote of acclamation to force a counted voted.
#10.1 Anonymous on 2011-04-04 08:42
For the sake of some balance, might I suggest that anyone willing to keep their mind at least partially open take a look at (eek! gasp! aaargh!) www.OCAtruth.com? As might be expected, they have a somewhat different view of things concerning Met. Jonah. Always nice to get both sides of an argument .
Just a suggestion.
(Editor's note: And do I not advertise their existence in every story about +Jonah since they began?)
#11 Jeff on 2011-03-30 13:39
Mark--Just a reminder for those who might not notice !
#11.1 Jeff on 2011-03-30 17:12
That smiley face is offensive to me.
This whole situation is highly distressing NOT because I might find out that the Metropolitan is human and has some inner demons (as all of us do). No, I'm distressed because ocatruth.com is not a place to go for smiley-faced, open-minded, balanced opinions. I'm stunned at the level of vindictiveness, self-righteousness, sarcasm, and un-Christlike thinking I have read there.
If the commentators on ocatruth.com truly feel that Metropolitan Jonah has been maligned, where's the logic or just plain Christian charity in maligning others to get their point across? Here's the rub: I personally know and trust people that have been vilified on ocatruth.com, so the website's claims to know the "real" truth have already been discredited in my eyes.
This comment I direct not to Jeff #11.1 but to those who have been giving Mark Stokoe the third-degree: stop. You appear as a mob of bullies because it is a one-sided fight. You have asked Mark question after question which he has answered thoroughly and forthrightly. And yet, no one can ask you or the bloggers at ocatruth.com any questions?
Here are my questions: did you really just get upset on Feb. 25 (or whenever it was) when most of us found out that there was a serious problem? Or have you been getting upset more and more over the last two years? When did you hear that there was a plot to get rid of Metropolitan Jonah? Can you think back and remember which friend or blog or email or Facebook acquaintance or sermon (God forbid!) first introduced these thoughts and concerns you have? How did it come to be that so many from the Diocese of the South would, in a blink of an eye, distrust the entire Holy Synod of Bishops or have the insight that Mark Stokoe had become irreparably power hungry and it was their God-given duty to bring him down for Christ's sake? Or have you been distrustful for awhile? Have you ever been told to distrust the motives and intentions of fellow Orthodox Christians in the OCA? For how long? Have you ever been told that some of your fellow Orthodox Christians are being controlled by Satan or have evil, malicious intent? Has someone you love and trust encouraged you to stand up against evildoers, even giving you the sense that you must take your Church back (as a matter of conscience and sincere Christian conviction) from the corrupt, dark forces that have infiltrated the OCA at all levels? When did it happen that you decided that the Metropolitan was being persecuted for his values? Have you just become convinced of this? Or have there been other moments in the last 2 years where someone has suggested that criticism of Metropolitan Jonah was unfounded and an example nefarious machinations? Have you spoken with Metropolitan Jonah? Have you ever met any of the other Bishops? Who or what are your sources of information? For the life of me, I'm trying to figure out why I perceive things so very different from you. These are my toughest words to date, please forgive my bluntness, brothers and sisters. I want to understand what's going on.
#11.1.1 Jodie Captein on 2011-03-30 22:35
Wow! Guess I touched a nerve.
There seems to be a plethora of accusations, hurt feelings, outright hostility and negativity surrounding this whole issue coming from every direction. And all this during Great Lent! Wow!
Ain't politics grand?
I stand by what I've said, but please forgive me if I have offended you.
#220.127.116.11 Jeff on 2011-03-31 07:10
Excellent post! BTW, sometimes blunt is good.
#18.104.22.168 Carl Kraeff on 2011-03-31 07:10
I am constantly amazed by the way people are so blindly loyal to their OCA leaders that as soon as anyone has the audacity to question the actions of a leader and expect any sort of accountability, the "OMG! persecution! possession by Satan! plans for destruction the Church and the bishops and the parish and the priests!", etc begins....come on, people. No one is trying to destroy Metropolitan Jonah or the OCA or the Church. Get a grip over yourselves and wake up to the real issues and problems that are right in your face.
#22.214.171.124 Kristi Koumentakos on 2011-03-31 09:39
Not sure who you're referring to here. I'm not in the habit of giving blind loyalty to anyone but Jesus Christ. And, to my shame, I even have trouble with that more often than I care to think about.
Besides, even though I was chrismated in an OCA church, for the last 5 years I've been worshiping with those naughty Antiochians. Does that make +Jonah my leader? Or is that other "reprobate", +Philip, my leader? Or....is Christ my leader? I hope it's the latter.
I'm also not usually given over to conspiracy theories, but it seems pretty clear to me that there are certain people who would dearly love to see +Jonah ousted, and would actively work to that end. Lord have mercy!
#126.96.36.199.1 Jeff on 2011-03-31 12:23
Balance? BALANCE!!!??? Have you flipped? Are you brain dead? Every time I read that site I hit myself with a baseball bat 'cause it feels better!
#11.2 Metropolitan Moi on 2011-03-31 07:33
I guess you could just stop reading it. Now, there's a thought! After all, not everyone is interested in balance.
I suppose I could be brain dead. Hmm.....I'll have to think about that for a while. Maybe if I go into a dark room and lie down for a while............the thought of you mercilessly hitting yourself in the head with a baseball bat has given me a headache.
#11.2.1 Jeff on 2011-03-31 12:04
Any ideas why Rod Dreher would want to be associated with OCATruth?
(Editor's note: Ask him. He is an articulate, intelligent and sincere man. )
#11.3 Ted Logan on 2011-04-01 20:15
I mean "associated with" as in "write under the pseudonym Muzhik for".
#11.3.1 Ted Logan on 2011-04-03 20:20
Is he "Muzhik"? Or is it just your guess? If he is, he should take responsibility for his writings and be honest. The anonymity at ocatruth.com is unsettling; it feels deceitful to me.
#188.8.131.52 Jodie Captein on 2011-04-07 19:16
Ever notice how stand up men like Fr. Hopko have to apologize for hurting the feelings of the members of the previous adminstration but members of the previous administration do not have to apologize for hurting anyone's feelings or for being too blind to see corruption.
Honestly, can anyone show me a public statement seeking forgiveness from those in the previous administration?
Does forgiveness have anythng to do with feelings? Is forgiveness just a tool that is used to manipulate people?
Fr. Tom did the right thing. If doing the right things hurts some poor persons ego then so be it. Orthodoxy is not the Oprah show people.
#12 Ashamed Orthodox on 2011-03-30 18:09
Fr. Tom apologizing kinda reminds me of a certain archbishop, now asleep in the Lord, who prostrated before bishop Nikolai asking for his forgiveness, when in fact every angel in heaven knew it should be the other way around.
#12.1 Archpriest Christopher Wojcik on 2011-03-31 06:37
Yeah, imagine....a priest apologizing in public for possibly hurting the feelings of wrong-doers in the process of calling them out. The OCA would be a completely different entity if there were more people like him leading the ship.
#12.1.1 Kristi Koumentakos on 2011-03-31 09:41
Or a Metropolitan prostrating in front of a wrongly terminated Chancellor who didn't want to move to DC and criticized the handling of a sexual misconduct matter and asking him to come back?
I can't fathom how anyone, especially any clergy, can support Metropolitan Jonah.
I can't fathom how Fr. Hopko was able to dig up the apology. I don't think the Synod, nor especially the Metropolitan deserve any such thing.
I think they deserve a long retirement for lying to people about an unfair firing.
One minute an appeal for your job, the next minute you resign. Are you all sure that incense isn't being used for something else? I can see right through that smoke. Here in Mn and Wi, Fr. Wojcik you and I both call it lying.
#184.108.40.206 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-04-04 20:23
Fr. Thomas is a true and loving shepherd. As Fr. Christopher observed, Fr. Tom's act shows a great deal of integrity and Christian charity.
What we are seeing happen in the OCA now are the predictable consequences of not holding accountable quite a few unethical, abusive, power-hungry, and unscrupulous men. Since this cancer was not completely removed, is has returned twice as malignant with a ferocity made evident by a militancy and hatred being directed at our entire Holy Synod, MC, and anyone who dares challenge the delusional conspiracy theories being spread by anonymous sources and discredited and characterless individuals from the former regime.
This is why the "forgive and forget" attitude taken by Met. Jonah in his inauguration speech towards key malfeasors in the previous OCA crisis troubled me so much then and since. When organizations do not effectively and decisively deal with scoundrels, liars, and abusers to insure they never have any influence or power in the institution, those troublemakers will have ZERO reason or motivation to stop acting as they have in the past in order to re-consolidate their power and advanced their personal agendas motivated by hatred, greed, and desire for revenge.
In the historical context of the Orthodox Church conciliar is one bishop one vote. The authority is not with committees, departments, or bureaucracies anymore than it is with a single man. Whatever we believe it is important at this time to understand the simplicity of the authority of the bishops as a group. It seems we are coming down to needing a clear understanding of the roles of the bishops in the synod as well as the role of the Metropolitan. Bishop Benjamin's voice carries more distinction than some faceless committee. No need to confuse the issue when clarity is so desperately needed. Just my opinion.
(Editor's note: And your opinion is welcome. Historically speaking though , in the OCA, since the time of the 1st AA Sobor in 1907 under St. Tikhon, the Church has not been just Synodal ( one bishop, one vote) but Conciliar in practice and theory. The Russian Church moved towards this in 1917, but the attempt was aborted by the Revolution. We were luckier. Thus the OCA is lead by a Synod, but gathers in hierarchical unity with its clergy and people, to determine its administration. Thus committees and departments are totally appropriate - even those that include clergy and laity and not just bishops -in our conciliar vision of Orthodoxy as expressed in our All American Councils. )
#13 otsukafan on 2011-03-30 18:34
Why not ask the other Orthodox Churches how their primates interact with their Synods instead of trying to recreate the wheel!
(Editor's note: Because, in many ways, each Synod's relationship with its primate is different, based on the unique political, social, historical and canonical history of that area/region/state. Clearly the Russian situation with 180 bishops is different from the Finnish, with 4. Moreover, we are not a state Church, not is there a State Church here, nor are we in a situation of oppression, nor is there an emperor de facto or de jure, etc, all of which determine how a primate relates. So, we do have to invent the wheel here, in many ways. )
#14 Anonymous on 2011-03-30 19:27
That doesn't mean we shouldn't get feedback from the mother churches. And how do we know that the relationships to their primates would look differently without their particular circumstances. Surely when Constantinople handed autocephaly to Russia, they sought feedback from Greece despite the circumstances that Greece may have been in at the time. Our actions in all this seems to indicate that we are so afraid of reaching out that we will do anything to keep ourselves isolated and ingrown. Even if it means ripping the church apart? We can not go this alone and to think we can, based on the apparent lack of spine in our hierarchs, would foolish and arrogant.
(Editor's note: Actually it was Greece that looked to Russia (for money) at the time of the autocephaly of that Church. But the whole mother-daughter analogy is a bit strained after 1500 years; at some point in the real world mom dies and daughter is left on her own with her own children and grandchildren. In the Church's case we have Patriarchates more akin to the undead, like those claiming parental rights centuries after all meaning to any claims have passed away forever... )
#14.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-31 08:16
You really don't like Orthodoxy and what is has been or what it has represented in the past. You are obviously angry though it comes through at times subtly. I have been reading your sight and your comments for some time. Your lack of engagement in my claim for reaching out brings in the kitchen sink but never really entertains the question for a moment. In other words you are not willing to entertain the idea for your own reasons. You cleverly don't respond to any of my points, except to retort about Greece reaching out to Greece for money, etc.
You miss the point, perhaps Russia did reach out to Greece, you mention patriarchs, mothers dying, etc. All your analogies aside, (forget my using the traditional and alive mother church/daughter church analogy) we simply have to ask and reach out for help in this. Patriarchs being like the undead is a matter of opinion. Paternal rights? Again, what are you talking about? What I am talking about is our reaching out. Its really very simple.
You clearly are of the opinion that the Orthodox churches in the world are not an option (have lost their "paternal rights") (as if that is what I am talking about,) that the patriarchs are undead, and thus don't want the OCA to reach out for help. Thus you disagree. Why not just say that instead of deflecting from the issue. The Orthodox Church is the problem and the OCA is an island of opportunity for change to classical Orthodoxy. Political situations are not enough reason to prevent us from asking for help. If we reached out we would have to endure their traditionalism, their lack of progress, perhaps, but their political situation?
I believe the current situation with the Synod is in fact the old system that we have been fighting so hard to change. By ousting Met Jonah alone without calling the Synod to question we will remain in that old system and thus find ourselves in a situation worse than the first. The way forward is to reach out to the wider Orthodox Church for help, not the method of the old guard which would have us create something disconnected from the wider Body of Christ. We are afterall a spiritual body, the Body of Christ, that is throughout the world, of which we are one small member.
#14.1.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-31 16:20
We could use Antioch as the model....
#14.2 Anonymous on 2011-03-31 21:58
It was mentioned in the email leaked by Bishop Tikhon that Jonah ordered an investigation of Jonah. Why has there not been one? It seems like all this other drama is at least keeping Benjamin from being investigated. For what? All the Hierarachs need to have investigations done.
#15 Anony on 2011-03-30 19:29
I hereby plead the Holy Synod to bring Jonah to an ecclesiastical trial. It is clear they (most of them) despise Jonah. At the same time they claim mercy and pity and withholding the full power of the canons. "Let's do it quietly." What a sham. If Jonah is found guilty they will be exonerated and praised as heros of the OCA. Bring Jonah to trial and get to the bottom of this instead of keeping the general public on edge, persevering with assumption and presumption, no one really knowing the full facts. The way to end this and satisfy all parties is an ecclesiastical trial! What are both sides afraid of?
(Editor's note: I appreciate the concern. But there is no need, or reason, for a trial. Besides, such a thing requires 12 bishops. You have some on hand? Moreover, ecclesiastical trials are rarely public, so that is no method for "knowing the full facts". There are a myriad other ways for a solution to this problem to be resolved in an serious, Christian, Orthodox and adult manner, short of an unwanted, unnecessary, impossible to hold, trial. Let's encourage the Metropolitan and Bishops and MC and Staff and everyone else to explore those first. )
#16 Anonymous Priest on 2011-03-30 19:33
Unbelievable! I have never read or seen anywhere that you need 12 bishops to have a trial. Surely, that is a fallacy. The church has existed with it clearly stated in the canons that trials are to be held. Surely, we are not the first Church to have less than 12 bishops in our Synod. There are surely churches that have adhered to the canons and had trials without having 12 bishops, besides the canons are pastoral and the bishops decide to what degree to apply certain canons. Clearly, the need for a trial is there and also the need to request help and to bring unbiased bishops to form a "juridical synod." Based on all the things that have been motivating this situation that have come out it is clear that most of the hierarchs are questionable. None of them can be trusted to judge the situation without bias. Therefore we need to ask other churches to help. I know you will disagree. But you are wrong.
This situation must be resolved and not by satisfying the desire of either party. In other words, clearly, Metropolitan Jonah retiring or his ousting is not the solution, because there are far to many questions that have arisen out of all this that possibly implicate all sides, Met. J, the members of Synod, both websites, the MC. Who ever decided to implicate Jonah, and also, if His Beatitude did wrong, opened Pandora's Box, because now everyone needs to be cleared before we can move forward. To deny it would indicate classic "denial."
Does no one realize that all involved in this are to be judged? Are we so sure of ourselves that we have no sin in this? We are bring sin into the lives of the average layman through this and we will be held accountable for every soul that is jeopardized in this. We really are facing the fires of hell.
(Editor's note: Get a grip, friend. This is a controversy between the Synod ( 8 bishops) and 1 Metropolitan. It is sad, unfortunate, but hardly " the fires of hell."
Or to put it in another way: It is unpleasant for children to see mommy and daddy fight, but it happens in every family, at some point. This is a pretty major fight, though. Maybe mommy and daddy can work it out: maybe they need to separate; maybe they need a divorce. But the point is, it is for mommy and daddy to work it all out, hopefully in the conviction that all sides remember to do what is best for the children over the long term.
And yes, you do need 12 bishops for a canonical trial. Churches borrow them if they don't have them. Of course, a canonical trial for a bishop is exceedingly rare, even when the case is a slam dunk because Bishops are loathe to discuss the misdeeds of another Bishop. To avoid that in the past the Emperor just imprisoned them; or the Sultan had them drowned in the Bosporus; or the Revolution exiled them. We don't have those options today, so Bishops usually are forced to resign "for reasons of health" these days. It is not the best system, but it is the one that has emerged.)
#16.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-31 08:29
I see by your response, a shift from your adamant dislike for the Metropolitan and his rebellion against the Synod, to now actually downplaying the seriousness of all this. Not even two weeks ago you were sceaming about the seriousness of His Beatitude's choices. "Get a grip?" Really, "mommy and daddy?" My choice to view this situation as grave is mine, thus my comment to you was in all seriousness and I wonder at your, as a "journalist," lack of gravity not to mention simple respect for others. Perhaps you chose to use a disrespectful tone because I mentioned "both websites." You have a right to take your faith seriously or not, to poopoo or not. But all will be revealed at the judgements seat of Christ whether we believe or like it or not. God have mercy on us all.
(Editor's note; I have not changed my attitudes at all: the issue has always been about the Metropolitan and his disobedience to his Brothers. I was simply trying to have some fun in my analogy - not be disrespectful. Apparently, the attempt backfired, and I apologize if the analogy offended you. )
#16.1.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-31 15:49
Thanks Fr. Hopko for your example of what a Christian and in particular a Christian leader should do when he/she makes a mistake ! A friend once told me when I was faced with whether I should speak to another friend about what I considered his need to correct his behavior, "Always ask yourself, Is it the Truth ? Does it need to be said? and can you say it with Love? If so, then do it."
#17 Reader Rick Wagner on 2011-03-30 22:05
No, that is NOT what conciliar means Mr. Stokoe. It might be better to not redefine the word "conciliar" (decisions by council) and just use the word "democratic" (decisions by the people), as that is what your description means. Conciliar has always meant (for the last 2000 years anyway) decisions made by the council of bishops. Laity participation is something distinctly different and may be more accurately described as democratic in nature. History is what it is, I cannot dispute what has happened, but redefining words masks intent. This may seem a trivial point, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking that conciliar and democratic are the same, they are not. Call it what it really is. Let's not make Mr. Orwell proud.
(Editor's note: Well, your defination of "conciliar" overlooks one small peice of historical reality for 1900 of those 2000 years you claim to represent: at least one layman/laywoman participated in their "councils" - the layma/laywoman who actually called them, ratified them, and enforced them - the Emperor or Empress. As Fr. Oleksa so brilliantly pointed out in a recent essay, today the clergy and laity, through their representatives on Church Councils fulfill that role, albeit in different ways. I am not trying to redefine "conciliarity" in more democratic ways - since no one is arguing, or has ever argued for clergy or laity to participate in the Synod of Bishops; or in any way to infringe on their responsibilities as Bishops to oversee the things they do. But, at the same time, to reduce and narrow "conciliar" to being just about Bishops, is to misrepresent both the past and present.)
#18 Conciliar? on 2011-03-31 06:13
I represent only my own opinion, I may be older now but not 2000 years. The reality was that the Bishops, past and present, made the decisions. Neither the Emperor nor the Empress decided whether something was or was not a heresy. They called, convened, and financed the councils but did not participate. Facilitate a decision, yes. Enforce a decision, yes. Try to arm twist the outcome, yes. But the ultimate decisions remain with the Episcopacy. Using the term "conciliar" as we do does muddy things up a bit. An earlier reply here mentioned an understanding of "participation" as being conciliar. Participation by Bishops, yes. Participation by laity, no. The latter is a misrepresentation of the meaning of conciliar. Increasing and widening "conciliar" changes its meaning. It's an important point. Advocating a change in the meaning of conciliar, or that it has evolved into something else, implies a reforming of how we do business as a church. That's what the Ecumenical Patriarch and his peers need to decide, hopefully soon. I would hope that that result would be a Church, in good order. Conciliar, whether we like it or not, really is about the Bishops.
Are "we" the replacements of the Emperors? I read Fr. Oleksa's essay, too. But are we worthy of that responsibility? We probably have no choice but to step up to it. Can and should we participate? Sure. And we did. We elected our Primate. We bear some responsibility for what is happening. We also should have put in place the proper structures to support and aid in the work of our Episcopacy as much as they bear the responsibility of knowing that "the buck stops here." That they have the awesome responsibility as decision makers and their action or inaction has HUGE consequences on our physical and spiritual lives. The souls we lose, and I really believe that people will walk because of what we do, will reflect on ALL of us.
My understanding from your last reply is that we each appear to be willing to accept that our Church is conciliar AND participatory. Common ground, but I post this to try to make my view/opinion as clear as I can. Using both terms alleviates in my mind the idea that the laity is trying to kick the door down into the Church. I know that that isn't true, that clergy and laity all love the Church and want to preserve and protect this Great Church that Christ gave us.
(Editor's note: Glad to see we are discussing points of emphasis, not the overall vision - for just as you believe that the clergy and laity all love the Church and want to presernve and protect this Great Church that Christ gave us, I believe the same of Bishops. Ain't unity wonderful?)
#18.1 Conciliar? Again. on 2011-03-31 11:39
Re: ". . . dismissing the idea that the Primate is " a sovereign authority who acts independently and without reference to his peers, the diocesan bishops."
Since this is the expectation, I'm guessing this means that, traditionally, consensus was reached on the activities of all previous metropolitans, which means the diocesan bishops who sat on the Holy Synod during Metropolitan Herman's tenure should be forced to resign/retire since they came to a a consensus allowing him to mismanage funds and do the other various and sundry things that forced him into retirement. - Or am I mistaken? Perhaps reaching a consensus on the activities of a metropolitan is something new. If so, it's convenient.
(Editor's note: Or, perhaps, given the past 20 years of scandal, people have learned from their mistakes, and are determined not to repeat them? Is that not an option?)
#19 Gail Sheppard on 2011-03-31 09:50
When people become "determined" not to repeat their mistakes, they often swing the pendulum too far the other way. I hope this is not what we're seeing. If a metropolitan does not lie, cheat or steal, I don't see why he should be micromanaged, but then I don't really know what's going on so it's hard to have an opinion.
#19.1 Gail Sheppard on 2011-03-31 19:27
Mark I wished I had your guts because reading all the comments, particularly the ones against you upset MY stomach. I don't know how you do it. I don't know why people keep arguing with you anyway.
I've never read OCAtruth or even looked for it. Don't plan to.
The above tongue-in-cheek suggestion that we follow the Antiochian model gave me a good laugh.
The Church of Istanbul/GOA reminding the OCA to act Canonically was also a good laugh. This from the "Green Patriarch" and greco-triumphalism of rewarding vehemently pro-abortion politicians just because they're greek. Black Bart meet the kettle. Pun intended!
(Editor's note: These comments are nothing. You should read the ones I can't print. But I appreciate hearing what people think, even if it is the same few critics. We often learn a great deal from our exchanges - at least I do.)
#20 VSO on 2011-04-01 12:17
I have a fairly strong stomach for sifting different sources of information and trying to look past the distortions and innuendo and bias to pick up whatever little bits of information are hiding underneath, or, if no information is hiding, at least to understand the motivations and strategy of those offering the distortions, innuendo, and bias.
But when it comes to OCATruth, it's very hard to see how anyone can take them seriously. This from their latest: "Benjamin and Melchizidek might be too far gone in vanity to turn back."
They have either no clue or no shame.
#20.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2011-04-02 05:51
No clue. They are idiots. Did you see the hysterical story they did earlier today, shrieking that the OCA had removed the link to a "fan page" on Facebook ? I laughed until I cried. Have not had such a good laugh in don't know how long. And that was before I read this evening's mea culpa -- the dastardly vilification of Metropolitan Jonah, the very thought that those meanies wouild remove a link on the OCA official site to some Facebook fan page -- they had to admit that the horrid abuse of Metropolitan Jonah had never happened. OCA Truth is a wonderful site, if one wants to be entertained by people who do not even know how funny they can be.
#20.1.1 cate on 2011-04-03 20:00
I've read a bunch of stuff here, at OCA Truth, on my diocesan website, talked to my priest (he is on the diocesan council) written to my bishop and my firends on the diocesan and metropolitan council and still have no idea what the Metropolitan is supposed to have done. Is he engaged in public immorality? Is he preaching heresy? Is he abusing the lords flock? I have no idea. I know the people on my diocesan council and it is hard for me to belive they voted the way they did without cause. But I still have no idea what evil thing the Metropolitan is doing. I wish someone would state it explicitly. Until then, I feel like I have to support him.
(Editor's note: Let's not make this personal, Matt, and choose sides. Only one side says there are sides to choose., anyway. Let's say, rather, we support the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.)
#21 Matt Karnes of St. Nicholas in Saratoga on 2011-04-01 14:13
I as read the "news" and comments on this site, the comments on OCAtruth.com, and the material on the Orthodox list at listserv.indiana.edu, and try to step back a bit from it all, it is becoming clearer and clearer and clearer to me that what is going on here is nothing short of petty and demonic. Maybe not so petty, actually. The devil loves to foment disunity and to use his minions to do so. All the more so in such a holy season as Great Lent. And if anyone thinks that the devil is not at work in all of this I think they are gravely deluded.
As I've said before on this site, it's pretty clear that there is a movement to oust Met. Jonah, shouts of denial notwithstanding. However, no one has yet, that I have seen, come forth with any canonical reason to do so. Perhaps I have missed or overlooked them, but if there are such canonical reasons or charges would whoever knows of them please indulge me and post them here? This is an honest, sincere request, by the way.
Someone calling himself "Parishioner" elsewhere wrote, referring to +Jonah and the supposed "scandal", "... He is accountable to us, but as a bishop. Accountability does not mean he has to make decisions we agree with; it means he’s responsible for the ramifications of his followed decisions. He is responsible for us, and we’re responsible to follow, disagree or not." So, unless someone brings forth canonical charges against +Jonah, and can prove them, let us not try to depose him by other, devious and deceitful means.
This is a free country and we are all entitled to our opinions. And whether we agree or not, all opinions, as opinions are valid. But can we not try to regain some composure, to remember that we are, ostensibly, Christians, and put into practice that which Our Lord asks, no, requires of us: love of neighbor, love of our "enemy", repentance, and forgiveness? Or, in getting so wrapped up in the petty politics and our own self-importance, have we lost sight of who and what we are as Christians?
#22 Jeff on 2011-04-02 10:55
This thread may be dead, but Jeff if I'm demonic explain something to me.
How is it a Chancellor flies to Sante Fe from New York to appeal for his job and then resigns according to the Synod, when in fact he was terminated?
How is it his termination is just?
How does the Synod justify lying? It ain't for the Chancellor's dignity friend, that was lost after he lost the appeal for his job.
Is it possibly because he was critical of critical decision making? Is that just?
Is it possibly because he didn't agree with moving the headquarters to Washington to fight cultural battles?
If I'm demonic, what do you call an unjust termination? Sounds like whoever would endeavor to do such a thing must be the devil himself by your standard.
In Minnesota, we have at will employment. I'd hope the OCA could do better, or they really wouldn't meet a Christian standard on how to treat people.
If you dig down this far, I'd enjoy a response, or maybe a self correction.
I'm demonic for asking fair questions and calling a spade that?
#22.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-04-04 20:05
Oh dear Daniel......
Did I ever refer to you or any other individual as "demonic"? No. What I wrote was, "The devil loves to foment disunity and to use his minions to do so." I have seen this any number of times in my life as a Christian. Can you tell me that it is untrue? Can you tell me that the demons would not be rejoicing to see what is going on, irregardless of whatever side you or I happen to take on it, in the OCA, indeed in the whole Orthodox church in America?
You know, as I wrote that posting I had a niggly little thought that someone would find a way to take offense at it. That should have been the red flag that kept me from posting at all. Please forgive me that it wasn't. And please forgive me if I have offended you, as none was ever meant. And, as before, I stand by what I wrote.
Oh yeah, I'm still waiting for someone to show me real, substantial, legitimate canonical charges against +Jonah. And if they truly exist, perhaps he *should*, if they can be proved, be deposed.
(Editor's note: No one has ever discussed deposition anywhere to my knowledge. There are many options to deal with the issues raised, ranging from a brief leave to resignation. No one has suggested Metropolitan Jonah should be deposed, however, including me.)
#22.1.1 Jeff on 2011-04-05 12:00
That's worth clarifying. There is a difference between being removed from Holy Orders (being defrocked or deposed), being suspended (unable to perform the duties of Holy Orders) and being removed from office.
What are the requirements for each level when it comes to a bishop or a primate? Is the Holy Synod able to remove any of its members without a trial of some sort, for any reason? Bishops have often been moved about at will; were such moves simply accepted by bishops who voluntarily 'resigned' and then accepted their new see? Is there a much higher bar required to remove a bishop or primate from office beyond a majority or consensus of the Synod?
(Editor's note: It is extremely difficult to depose a bishop for any cause: and such requires a trial, after which the Bishop may appeal to Istanbul. That is why it is most rare - in the old days there were other ways to accomplish the same result: hence bodies floated in the Bosporus, or disappeared in Tsarist prisons ( or monasteries) or people were forced, or fled, into exile (sometimes to America....). It is more common for a Bishop to simply retire, or resign a diocesan ministry due to age, infirmity, failure, scandal, royal will, personal choice, the call of God to do something else. There are an infinite number of reasons such could happen: some good, some neutral, some less so. This course is always voluntary - but voluntary can range from of their own free will, to being obedient to the decision of their Synod ( to which they pledged obedience) to being forced to do so, so as to avoid deposition. or prison, or exile, as n olden days. If the episcopate is likened to a marriage, well, not all marriages work out, and Our Lord Himself recognized that. The Church is even more lenient than he was. But it is not something done lightly, obviously. The advantage of resigning voluntarily, or retiring, is that the prospect of further sacerdotal ministry, outside the diocesan one, is possible. Hope this helps.)
#220.127.116.11 melxiopp on 2011-04-05 14:55
Re: your editor's note---Okay, I stand corrected. I've used the wrong term. There are people who want +Jonah *OUT*. It seems that how they accomplish this is immaterial as long as it happens. So, whether it's by deposition, retirement, or whatever, the goal is the same. And I thought I was a nit-picker !
(Editor's note: No, the goal is not the same. There is a huge difference between deposition and resignation from a certain position, Jeff. It's the difference between being fired from your job, and being moved to a different one. To the person who is employed, that is not "nit-picking".)
#18.104.22.168 Jeff on 2011-04-06 08:17
re: editor's note---If someone is deposed he is forced out. If someone resigns, he leaves "voluntarily", even if he was forced to resign. You know, "Either you resign, or you're fired--take your pick". The net result is the same--they are out. Can you honestly tell me that there are not people, even quite powerful ones, who would just love to have +Jonah out, and are actively working to that end, whether it's by his deposition, his "resignation", or a "leave of absence" ("leave" being the operative word, in this case in the form of a verb)? Are you, Mark, perhaps one of those who would like +Jonah gone?
(Editor's note: You see, that is the problem. There are real differences to potential meanings to the word "Gone" If by gone you mean defrocked? Absolutely not. If by gone you mean deposed as a bishop? No, again. If by gone you mean no longer the Primate of the OCA? I think he and we would all be better he would step aside from that position. And given my postings in January and February, both voluntary and involuntary, I don't think that opinion is a secret, either, nor the reasons for holding it. Feel free to disagree.
More importantly, though, it has never been about what I think. It is about what 9 bishops in the OCA think. They make the decisions in this regard. And for that decision, we are all going to have to wait. )
#22.214.171.124.1 Jeff on 2011-04-06 08:57
More defrocking is removing one from Holy Orders, a Sacrament of the Church whereas dismissal or resignation is merely reassigning (or unassigning) a cleric to another role - even when that role is permanently retired with no hope of pay from the Church a la the late Bp Boris of SF.
#126.96.36.199.2 melxiopp on 2011-04-06 13:39
Don't you find oh dear Daniel to be a bit patronizing? How about a lot?
My turn to be patronizing now.
How about responding to my questions instead of going after my word choices? Or are they too hard for you to understand when the words are linked to ideas? I agree I picked on your use of the word demonic, but you could have at least responded to meat of the comment.
The Chancellor was wrongly fired and the Synod, with its first among equals Metropolitan Jonah telling us he resigned. These are lies, sanctioned by bishops, blessed by them in fact as I believe these meetings end with a blessing.
Metropolitan Jonah doesn't deserve to be deposed. He doesn't understand the things he is delivering and the things the church needed are not in concert. It ain't rocket science friends.
The church needed honesty and openness and truth. I gave you a clear example of a terrible failure that just happened that didn't meet such a simple need.
The church needed people to work together more; not mystery trips to foreign episcopates in the context of dialogue regarding a new concept of maximal autocephaly, not Manhattan Declarations, and not going after the Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal. Gays shmays, we don't care! Now, any thinking person ought to be concerned about the strategic direction of the OCA. The 10th AAC stated people should have healthcare regardless of financial wherewithall, but not a word from Jonah on that; nope gay stuff is a higher priority?
As Gail said, who is backing the Metropolitan so steadfastly I think she too has forgotten wrongful termination and lies, perhaps the people have gone too far the other direction with the desire for openness. What's so bad about that concept?
A wiser Metropolitan might see such a thing, don't you think?
If Metropolitan Jonah had done nothing besides visit churches for his first 2 years as Metropolitan and understand what the clergy, bishops, and people want and need; I guarantee you one thing. People would love him. He had an easy job and instead he started with agendas. If he resigned tomorrow, I'd think it good for the church. I don't think he is a wise person based on his statements and actions.
Just tell me why you think it is okay for wrongful termination to be called resignation by our leaders and we can have a civil discussion. And don't tell me it is so Garklavs can have some dignity. He wasn't fired for performance. Garklavs didn't want to have a relationship like the last Metropolitan and Chancellor did; apparently Jonah isn't wise enough to recognize that either.
I believe the Chancellor needs to be reinstated.
#188.8.131.52.3 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-04-06 21:51
My comment wasn't meant to be patronizing. I'm sorry you took it that way.
As for answering your questions, etc., I can choose to do so or not, as I wish. If I thought it pertinent or relevant to do so, I probably would have. But I didn't. My choice.
+Jonah may be a bad administrator. He may or may not be many things. He may be unfair in certain instances. Life is unfair quite often, as I'm sure you know. He may also be ruffling feathers and stepping on toes that are totally unused to having that done, and people are reacting. Because he is acting. You know, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". I do not judge here whether he is acting for good or ill, well or badly. That's not my place.
I have attempted, perhaps not very well, to see a "bigger picture" here, and not get involved in the day to day "politics" of administration in the OCA, rightly or wrongly. What I see, perhaps incorrectly, is what I have said a couple of times-- that there are people who want +Jonah (and I'd better be extremely careful here with my choice of words :-)--some people pick nits with even greater precision and dexterity than I ) to no longer be Metropolitan of the OCA. Some of them, because they are not bishops and have no "vote" in the matter, seem to be attempting to muddy the waters around HB with things that have nothing to do with whether he has violated canons, acted unlawfully, etc. The appearance is that some are trying to drive him out because as yet there is no canonical reason to unseat him, if that's an appropriate term. This I find extremely unfortunate. It is my opinion that this kind of behavior is divisive, especially as it concerns clerics and the Church. Hence my comments about the devil and demons. I have seen this kind of thing before, both from a distance, and up close and personal, and though I don't, fortunately, "see" demons, I can occasionally recognize demonic or demonically inspired behavior. At the very least, this is people behaving, well...as fallen people (I do it all the time, unfortunately ), and the demons are just standing by, letting them do their work for them. It really should not surprise me that this kind of thing is happening in the Church, as it's happened for centuries. It does, however, sadden me greatly.
I won't apologize for not answering your questions, Dan, for to do so would be disingenuous of me. Perhaps there are others who would care to jump into that particular pool. I prefer not to.
#184.108.40.206.3.1 Jeff on 2011-04-08 10:10
I think it's a little rich that the bishops want to oust the Metropolitan because he's difficult to work with and an inconsistent manager, administrator and leader. If that were the bar for a successful episcopate, I'm surprised we have bishops at all. I think most priests would agree. (For that matter, if that's the bar for priests, I'm surprised we have any priests.)
The fish rots from the head (or not), in every diocese, in every parish. That may be the case in the Holy Synod, too, but we should not pretend the ironic isn't front and center in this almost entirely new call for such in the OCA.
(Editor's note: True. But "Everyone does it" is hardly an excuse. At least, my priest never lets me get away with it.)
#23 melxiopp on 2011-04-04 13:33
It's not so much "Everyone does it" as it's hypocritical. They seem to be flexing their only recently discovered corporate muscles with a kind of overwrought relish using the the current Metropolitan's relative youth and newness to the episcopacy as an excuse to swing the pendulum of power from complete deference to the Metropolitan to no deference at all to the Metropolitan since he's "just another bishop, and the newest and youngest of us all (so he should only ever do what we say)".
It should be remembered that while the Metropolitan and his bother bishops are monastics they've never been under true monastic obedience, and many of them haven't led corporations/insitutions the size and scope of the OCA (regardless of numbers, the OCA is still a continent-wide organization with a major place in American Orthodoxy and its institutions.)
As a priest of the OCA wrote:
"We have a Higher Church Administration that suffers from
inter-personal conflict. In principle such conflict could and should be managed in a fruitful way according to recognised interventions and processes, that is, by legitimate authority acting according to recognised principles, like a referee. But who is the referee? Who has the competence to assume that role and demand compliance? Our statute does not provide for this, and in the absence of positive direction and precedent, it is all a muddle. Roles and responsibilities,
competencies, limitations, appropriate processes are not clearly defined. And where there is no clear definition there is scope for much mischief. Church administration is not meant to be a team sport, but our has become just such a thing - but assuming good will it could still work if all parties agreed to a referee. Good will is an elusive commodity."
All this being said, the Metropolitan has become known as one who yes-es everyone and then seems to change his mind - whether this is his own change of mind or a change of mind due to advice (e.g., Chancellor, Synod, others) has been unclear.
That same OCA priest wrote:
"We have a wonderful Metropolitan who has never been a husband and father, a parish priest, or a bishop, which means - I think - that he has not had a long and well-exercised education in consensus building. He has had no relevant mentors - previous Metropolitans being discredited - and there is no church manual on how to be a
Metropolitan, nor a book like Metropolitan For Dummies. There was no course called Church Primate 101. He has many fresh and out-of-the-box ideas; he values traditional forms of piety and has a more incisive (and to my mind refreshing) sense of the centrality of the ascetic in Orthodox thinking and culture than we have ever had in our leadership (although this is somewhat ironic). An ideas man, he
has one idea today and another tomorrow, and moves on from one idea to another too easily without putting the first to rest, perhaps leaving those listening to him behind. It may be hard to rank with what seriousness he holds which interesting ideas. His ideas of primacy may be modelled more on the Russian Church than on say, the more modest
Czech and Slovak model.
We have some pretty good church officers and experienced 'old guys' who view our Metropolitan as a bull in a china shop, as eccentric, erratic, controversial and a serious threat to a church life and a canonical status they see as quite vulnerable these days, fragile - and yet hard won to the degree that there is any status by them. It is possible that
the Metropolitan may be a loose cannon or puts a certain understanding of autocephaly at risk; it is possible our church life is just this fragile. Certainly acting as if he was this sort of threat, and acting 'for the good of the Church' is the rhetoric justifying taking steps to marginalise him."
(Editor's note: It is not "possible" that the Metropolitan is a loose cannon - that has been evidenced beyond doubt. Nor "does he put a certain understanding of autocephaly at risk". He admits he wants to "redefine" autocephaly as "autonomy", which is just another way of abandoning it. These are not just "rhetorical" matters, nor are these even the most serious matters in the tensions between the Synod and Metropolitan. They are only the ones the Metropolitan and his supporters want to speak about. This is not about "redefining" power in the Synod, for it was the Metropolitan himself who advocated the Synod has to hold the Primate accountable, remember? No, this is about a rogue bishop being called to account for his actions. We all know who has to do it - the Synod. The only question is how, and when. Well, the answer to the latter question is "now". The only question remaining is the former: how?)
#23.1 melxiopp on 2011-04-05 09:08
Redefining autocephaly in such a manner is widely discussed in the OCA, so it is not an outrageous and unheard of position. It's normally just whispered due to the powers that be.
"Loose cannon" is in the eye of the beholder, as is "rogue". Given that so many on the Synod were passive to negligent to complicit in the financial (and moral) scandals of the OCA, I think most in the OCA wanted and expected the Metropolitan to break some glass in Syosset. However, it seems entrenched powers (e.g., Chancery staff, the head of External Affairs, those with certain pet views within the OCA, etc.) are reacting strongly to these attempts - from what little has been revealed.
Being held to account or even limiting the powers of the office of Metropolitan are one thing, being removed from office is another. It should also be noted that the Metropolitan is not (yet) simply a figurehead bishop acting only ever in the name of the Synod and the MC. He is a bishop unto himself, as well, and can act as such, say what he will, etc.
It should also be noticed that a good deal of what seems to be going on is one monarchical bishop in waiting is attempting to out monarch the sitting monarch. ....
In short, this all really looks like Lent has made a mountain out of a mole hill. Not agreeing and standing firm is not the same as being rogue or disobedient. Nothing revealed so far rises to the level of removal from office....
#23.1.1 melxiopp on 2011-04-05 11:12
It should be remembered that while the Metropolitan and his bother bishops are monastics they've never been under true monastic obedience,
This is not true of the entire Holy Synod. Both Bishop Tikhon of Eastern Pennsylvania and Bishop Melchisedek of Western Pennsylvania have spent time in "true monastic obedience," the latter for a good 12 years in Greece and including tonsure to the Great Schema. The basics for both are available at the OCA website: http://www.oca.org/HSbiotikhonmollard.asp?SID=7 and http://www.oca.org/HSbiomelchisedek.asp?SID=7 .
#23.1.2 Priest Basil Biberdorf on 2011-04-06 09:57
That's an important clarification, Fr. Thanks!
#220.127.116.11 melxiopp on 2011-04-08 07:42
I once asked a seasoned marriage counselor if he could predict which couples would stay together and which would go their separate ways. He told me about a woman who was married to a man named Frank. Poor Frank could do nothing right. He forgot to take out the garbage, he ignored their anniversary, he spent too much time at the office, etc., but the woman said something that told the therapist that this marriage was going to last, in spite of all Frank’s failings. She said, “. . . but that’s my Frank.”
If I could, I would challenge the priests, the elected lay members, +Benjamin, the Holy Synod and the MC to say, ". . . but that's our Jonah." It would be great if we all thought alike and did things the same way, but that’s never going to happen. With the help of the Holy Spirit, however, we CAN choose to love one another. Love is a decision, not a feeling. If these people decide to love their metropolitan, AS IS, I suspect things will improve.
(Editor's note: The issue is not love, Gail, nor lack of it. Even people in love make bad, and sometimes fatal, decisions. If it were simple we would not all be in this much turmoil.)
#24 Gail Sheppard on 2011-04-05 22:28
It's never simple, Mark. There are always problems. It's the way we handled them that makes the difference.
#24.1 Gail Sheppard on 2011-04-06 08:45
...but that's our Jonah?
making the Chancellor fly to Sante Fe to get fired? Firing the Chancellor for disagreeing with him (he was put on the spot in his role, don't you think?) and calling it a resignation?
Arguing against DADT repeal, and conveniently forgetting the 10th AAC because his conservative buddies would hurl if he suggested the poor should get healthcare and Obama was a bit right?
Multiple trips to Russia to discuss ?maximal autonomy? with the mothership? (why all the question marks?)
...class act that guy
He had such an easy gig, too. Don't you think the prior years of unrest were enough? All we needed was a guy that liked perohi and cabbage rolls and keeping kids interested in the church. It would have been so cool.
He can't be that guy; it is pretty clear. Too many agendas. He should resign, but people with agendas don't usually do that.
He can by yours, but he won't be mine unless he gets a huge dose of wisdom and throws away some of his agenda madness. Abe Lincoln did it by putting his foes on his cabinet. Jonah got rid of someone already that didn't agree with him.
What exactly will become of the pronouncements of the 10th AAC by the way if we have a MJ for the next 30 years?
Reinstate Garklavs. Send MJ on a 2 year traveling campaign to meet the people of the OCA and find out what they see for the church.
#24.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-04-06 22:08
"making the Chancellor fly to Sante Fe to get fired? Firing the Chancellor for disagreeing with him (he was put on the spot in his role, don't you think?) and calling it a resignation?"
Unless Metropolitan Jonah was holding a gun to their heads, he did neither such thing. Fr. Garklavs came to Santa Fe by the Synod's invitation. The entire Synod accepted Fr. Garklavs's resignation.
"Arguing against DADT repeal, and conveniently forgetting the 10th AAC because his conservative buddies would hurl if he suggested the poor should get healthcare and Obama was a bit right?"
Orthodox teaching needs to be re-articulated for new audiences at times; otherwise, we would not need any theological teachers or seminaries. We can't just refer people to the statement from the 10th AAC any more than we can just publish the decrees of the ecumenical councils over and over.
There is nothing in Met. Jonah's DADT letter that contradicts Orthodox teaching on sexual morality. According to the Statute, the Metropolitan is the OCA bishop in direct authority over OCA military chaplains, and it is his responsibility to ensure the chaplains are able to preach and teach the Orthodox faith in that environment. There is one part of the letter I'd definitely have rewritten if I were in charge of vetting his public statements, but on the whole I cannot see what's giving them the vapors.
"Multiple trips to Russia to discuss ?maximal autonomy? with the mothership? (why all the question marks?)"
Who says he did that? Where did the "maximal autonomy" thing ever coincide with one of his trips to Russia? I have seen no proof that the trips to Russia were undertaken with the intent to unilaterally give back the Tomos. Moscow has explicitly said it does not want the Tomos back. Yes, the Metropolitan should explain himself. But there is not enough evidence to establish that he actually went there to try to give up the autocephaly.
"He had such an easy gig, too. Don't you think the prior years of unrest were enough? All we needed was a guy that liked perohi and cabbage rolls and keeping kids interested in the church. It would have been so cool."
Let's elect you Metropolitan, Daniel, and see how easy you find it. I've seen poor Metropolitan Jonah spend several hours in a single day presiding at services, after having flown a few thousand miles in the middle of the night, followed by having to jet off to someplace else the next day. I've even seen him nod off to sleep by accident just because he sat down for a minute. Even his most intractable opponents would agree that he does not have "an easy gig".
"Jonah got rid of someone already that didn't agree with him."
You could say Met. Jonah fired Fr. Garklavs for "not agreeing" with him regardless of the nature of the disagreement. The fact that the Synod let Fr. Garklavs go tells me that Fr. Garklavs was presenting a problem of some kind, that it wasn't all in Met. Jonah's head. We need to know what the Synod's problem was with Fr. Garklavs before judging the firing as frivolous or retaliatory. For the time being, the information available is lacking in sufficient scope and detail to make either case.
"Reinstate Garklavs. Send MJ on a 2 year traveling campaign to meet the people of the OCA and find out what they see for the church."
You'll have to consult the Synod about reinstating Fr. Garklavs. As for sending Met. Jonah on a 2 year traveling campaign, I think he'd say, "Where do you think I have been?!"
#24.2.1 Cordelia on 2011-04-08 12:08
Sorry Cordelia, you can't repaint the Garklavs mess; he was fired.
I won't entertain any of the other stuff with anyone that drank the Koolaid.
#18.104.22.168 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-04-08 21:36
You know Gail, I would agree with you to a point. But what if “Frank” not only didn’t take out the garbage, but was hoarding it in the basement, unbeknownst to wife, and not only did he ignore their anniversary, he ignored the taxes and bills, too, and their house and credit were about to be re-possessed, and the reason he spent so much time at the office was because he was a little too enthralled with the cutie in the next cubicle and THAT relationship was doing untold damage to the one he had with wife. At some point, someone would ask why wife had so little regard for the relationship, and herself, that she allowed this to go on. Sure, the “civil union” could last til death do they part, but anyone involved or observing would hardly call it a marriage (let alone a Christian one).
If +Jonah’s foibles are a penchant for travel and an inability to stay out of the limelight of a cause, we could just increase the Metropolitan’s travel budget and hire someone expert in spin and damage control to contact the press when necessary, cause he’s our Jonah….!
What is he giving in return for that much consideration? Just being a nice guy isn’t enough; he’s supposed to be the leader. The faithful look to him for examples of how to think, pray and conduct their own lives. If he can blow off the counsel of his brother bishops, why should any of the faithful listen to their priest when it doesn’t suit them?
Do we really think there is a “plot” that has no substance? Is it possible the “anti-Jonah camp” has some real issues that, if our Jonah really loved them back, he would show a bit more humility and concern for his brother’s concerns? What is he doing to show he’s invested in the relationship, not just his own ideas and priorities? Even if “our Frank” didn’t always get it right, it would be very difficult to accept if he NEVER got it right, and didn’t appear to care, either….
In all the discussion of marriage due to the ‘mandec”, what have we learned about marriage in light of this example? Is this one of those “traditional” marriages the Taliban could endorse, where he’s the boss and the little woman should just stuff it?
Guys just love to quote the “wives obey your husbands” part of Ephesians. How about the rest: ”Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy,”. Maybe it’s not too much to expect him to die a little to himself for the sake of his church?
#24.3 margaret on 2011-04-08 11:14
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