Saturday, November 17. 2007
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Interestingly enough while claiming that the accusations are "unfounded" +Nikolai says nothing about the veracity of the statements and comments made by so many. In his address +Nikolai did not actually deny any of the testimony of the priests and others regarding his abusive conduct and unethical actions. While stating: "Maybe some of you even chose to accept what you read as the truth." he did not follow up to categorically deny them or say that they were false or claim that the priests and laymen lied or libeled him.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 doesn’t mention anything about diabetes or Parkinson’s.
#2 Karina on 2007-11-17 11:19
Is anyone keeping a tally of how many of our pastors are saying that those who express concern over mismangement, corruption, theft and sexual perversion are followers of the devil? Did even the Latins stoop to this during their scandals? The most callow televangelist caught in sin? Are the pastors who are making these statements then prepared to explain how such a large percentage of their flock suddenly turned to the Dark Side whie under their care?
This is beyond bizzarre. "Creepy" indeed.
#3 Timothy Capps, Esq. on 2007-11-17 11:30
I just visited the Alaskan Diocese website to read all of His Imperial Greatness' address to the peasants, er, faithful. My, what lovely vestments! And nobody can deny that the man can sling Orthodox boilerplate with the best of them. Personally, I was inspired. Inspired to be more faithful in prayer for our suffering brothers and sisters in Alaska who must bear the cross of being abused by this sorry little man in the lovely, lovely vestments. If anybody out there has "The Caine Mutiny" in their video collection, put it on and revisit Bogart as Captain Queeg; he, Queeg, wore a great uniform, too. Heretical question here: if the Holy Synod refuses to restrain this narcissistic jerk posing as a bishop, what, exactly, are they good for? Anybody? God save us from our bishops! The smoke of Satan has indeed entered the sanctuary.
Were it not for a local parish that is the Kingdom on Earth, and priests I know and love who are true priests and servants, I would have bailed long ago. Christ is indeed in our midst, but He suffers again when the shepherds abandon the flock.
But, gosh, the vestments are pretty.
#4 Scott Walker on 2007-11-17 12:07
Megalomania, and all its attendant attributes,--pride, arrogance, unfeeling and even inhuman treatment of others, paranoia, etc.--has a new definition and personification, i.e. Bishop Nikolai!
How can any of our "esteemed" leaders but cringe in the face of such perverse and self-serving lies, coming from a man called to be a shepherd and suffering servant, who instead brings to mind the very worst examples of clerical betrayal of the Gospel's basic precepts. I am proud to be one of the many voices (in his Grace's convoluted world inspired by Satan no less) that have called this man what he is-- by word and deed-- a traitor to our Lord.
Good Lord deliver us from this evil one.
#5 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-11-17 14:25
This is the very thinking of the bishops of the OCA, for the most part. They equate themselves with the Church. Anyone who questions them is an enemy of the Church.
This ecclesiology is simply heretical.
#6 Name withheld on 2007-11-17 14:37
Whom the gods would destroy, they first make insane.
#7 Felix Culpa on 2007-11-17 15:20
The OCA seems to be only correcting itself very slowly. Perhaps this is the greatest reality check as we move forward, particularly now that we appear to have a competent treasurer, who has a great amount of work cut out for him!
It seems to me that any large, bureacuratic organization may only be able to correct itself very slowly. This apparently can be said of the OCA.
I admire all those who want the necessary changea in the OCA and have advocated for changes that would be in the best interest of moving the OCA forward in a more timely way.
The type of assertive change that would probably occur in an organization in the secular world would most likely be taking place more quickly where following civil, state, and federal laws seems all the more prominent. In a secular organization, there is no "hiding" behind the religiosity and hypocrisy that Jesus found so distasteful and commented upon several times within the Gospel, "Woe to you Pharisess, hypocrites..."
Jesus knew, and commented upon, quite veraciously, about the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his time. I think this web site speaks of this same keen awareness, and comments upon the hypocrisy of our own leaders at this time of sorrow and disappointment within our leaders, at several levels within the OCA.
Where are our Seminary professors in all of this? They may give speeches on the truth, may sign anonymously on a petition, but somehow, I don't see Fr. Alexander Schmemann responding like this. I think he would have been very bold and brave!
Jesus' speaking out against the Jewish leaders of his time did not win him friends. Rather, it stirred up their further indignation and animosity in trying to get him arrested and "gone" for good! Would not several of our disgruntled OCA leaders like to see this website gone for good? Much of what Jesus went though appears to be the same in our own times of crises within our OCA.
Throughout all of his criticism of hypocritical Jewish leaders, Jesus kept following his life of integrity. He prayed, he did good works and deeds, he loved, he served, he modeled, he traveled, and was not afraid. It led to his suffering and crucifixion. The only thing is, Jesus' "trail of tears," (to borrow a term from the suffering misplaced Chrokee nation that was re-located to Oklahoma), lasted three years. We are enduring a longer "trail of tears," that reaches to our beloved Alaska in these trying times for the OCA.
But, perhaps the greatest hope is several of us are not afraid to stand up with integrity with what needs to be fixed within the OCA. I think suffering, at any time in history, for any one person, is the hardest reality to endure on earth. But its mark on integrity and the truth can be enduring, lasting and effective. Our risen Lord is testament to this.
#8 Patty Schellbach on 2007-11-17 17:13
The only thing is, Jesus' "trail of tears," (to borrow a term from the suffering misplaced Chrokee nation that was re-located to Oklahoma), lasted three years. We are enduring a longer "trail of tears," that reaches to our beloved Alaska in these trying times for the OCA.
A very interesting parallel, one that I had thought of, but figured no one else would understand.
Fr. Daniel Swires, part Cherokee, member of Cherokee Nation.
#9 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2007-11-17 19:58
One of the things an alcoholic must do in a 12 step program I believe is ask the forgiveness of their victims.
In their scandalous ways, the Bishop of Alaska and the Chancellor have failed to recognize their victims. And although the Bishop doesn't have an alcohol problem, he has victims he now shares.
We folks who post here and speak have nothing but contempt for those who call us evil when all we have done is point out the victims. We are not the victims. I posted little, near none on this Alaska matter, but for commenting the OCA needs to recognize and treat victims of these problems correctly lest it suffer the financial consequence later, which is about as pragmatic a comment as any could make. I also voiced concerns for the recovery of the chancellor, and disappointment in Nikolai's stand against Best Practices.
For neither of these men to apologize and right their victims is the only evil folks. Calling someone else evil for calling it like it is?
Res ipsa loquitor
This bishop is an idealogue, no doubt, with little pragmatic character, St Peter will likely point it out in time, unless the Bishop recognizes us not as evil but as true Christians who care for his soul.
Pray for Nikolai and Isadore, that they will recognize we care for them and their victims. No Christian could possibly do less.
#10 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-11-18 00:03
From my reading about "spiritual abuse", it is the trademark of a controlling person to claim that any critic is evil.
From "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse," by Johnson and Van Vonderen (1991):
"In a place where authority is grasped and legislated, persecution sensitivity builds a case for keeping everything within the system. Why? Because of the evil, dangerous, or unspiritual people outside of the system who are trying to weaken or destroy 'us'. This mentality builds a strong wall or bunker around the abusive system, isolates the abusers from scrutiny and accountability, and makes it more difficult to leave - because they will then be outsiders, too."
See also "Soul Mending," by J. Chryssavgis
Some interesting links...
Finally, three quotes from "On the Priesthood," by St. John Chrysostom:
"As then the love of vainglory, when he takes upon him the government of numbers, supplies additional fuel to the fire, so he who by himself, or in the company of a few, is unable to control his anger, but readily carried away by it, should he be entrusted with the direction of a whole multitude, like some wild beast goaded on all sides by countless tormentors, would never be able to live in tranquility himself, and would cause incalculable mischief to those who have been committed to his charge. For nothing clouds the purity of the reason, and the perspicuity of the mental vision so much as undisciplined wrath, rushing along with violent impetuosity. For the eye of the soul being darkened as in some nocturnal battle is not able to distinguish friends from foes, nor the honorable from the unworthy, but handles them all in turn in the same way; even if some harm must be suffered, readily enduring everything, in order to satisfy the pleasure of the soul."
"For what says he (St. Paul)? 'If any man desireth the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.'" Now I have not said that it is a terrible thing to desire the work, but only the authority and power. And this desire I think one ought to expel from the soul with all possible earnestness, not permitting it at the outset to be possessed by such a feeling, so that one may be able to do everything with freedom. For he who does not desire to be exhibited in possession of this authority, does not fear to be deposed from it, and not fearing this will be able to do everything with the freedom which becomes Christian men: whereas they who fear and tremble lest they should be deposed undergo a bitter servitude, filled with all kinds of evils, and are often compelled to offend against both God and man."
"For the Church of Christ, according to St. Paul, is Christ's Body, and he who is entrusted with its care ought to train it up to a state of healthiness, and beauty unspeakable, and to look everywhere, lest any spot or wrinkle, or other blemish should mar its vigor and comeliness."
#11 A member of the Body of Christ on 2007-11-18 01:55
"Abandon their flocks?" The situation in OCA is more like PREYING UPON their flocks. I had quit visiting ocanews.org soon after I left the OCA, almost sixteen months ago. I was hopeful that things would eventually either (1) work themselves out, or (2) blow up...and be worked out. I'm truly saddened for my OCA friends and former "churchmates" to learn that not only have the issues not been resolved, but things have actually gotten worse in OCA.
At this point, I'm genuinely concerned that this isn't going to be resolved until someone goes to jail and/or gets smacked with a class-action lawsuit for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. Man...I thought that the CATHOLIC Church leadership was dysfunctional at the time I left it, but the current OCA leadership takes the cake. Please know of my continued prayers as you endure your "Babylonian Captivity."
#12 Gregory Grant on 2007-11-18 03:35
One cannot but wonder how and why such a person was elevated to the rank of bishop? A more worthy individual who sincerely approaches his faith with a pure heart and honest intentions must be out there. We do not need those who are simply enthralled with the fringe benefits, i.e. beautiful vestments and gold crosses. Our religion should go well beyond the trappings.
Where is true love for all mankind (even the peasants)? The word "love" is used so frequently in these writings that it's definition has been obscured. Everybody claims to love, but many would not hesitate to trample that love to their end.
May God's light shine upon us.
#13 Anon on 2007-11-18 05:58
This is the last time I will ever visit this website.
Your form of sensational journalism is a form of spiritual murder. You along with MH, Kucynda, Eric Wheeler and
many others are guilty of emptying the pews, the hearts and the souls of many innocents. You are angels of Satan.
(Editor's Note: After 15 months and 45 posts under more than 10 pseudonyms (including Suzanne Wilson, Suzanne, Sue, Margo from WB, Martha, Cindy, Cathy, Peggy from WB, etc. ) we shall miss your constant criticisms of absolutely everybody - excepting, of course, Bishop Nikolai and Robert Kondratick. These two you never spoke ill about. Go with God.)
#14 Suzanne Wilson on 2007-11-18 07:32
You are exactly right. + Nicolai is a huge mistake. The OCA made a series of these mistakes, + Tikhon of the West; + Gula, this guy, but there have been others. What is needed is for the OCA statutes to be amended to deal with bishops who are nutz. They should be able to be removed and/or disciplined easier; not just retired with full pensions. I'm all for married bishops who tend to be psychologically better adjusted. You know, no one looked into the episode of this guy harassing a female co-worker when he worked in Las Vegas. The episode was so bad, the husband confronted him, threatened him and locked him in the trunk of his own car. Police had to get him out. Yet, no one looked into this before his consecration. Too bad!
#15 Anonymouso on 2007-11-18 11:17
I don't see Fr. Alexander Schmemann responding like this. I think he would have been very bold and brave!
Father Alexander must have known some of the moral scandal that surrounded MT even before his tenure as Metropolitan.
#16 Guy Kogut on 2007-11-18 15:31
All this is stupefying. But I have some stupid questions. From what I read, it seems that all investigation re: Arch. Isadore and Bp. Nikolai is over. A. I. is still chancellor? He's "all better"? Paul Sidebottom has been dismissed and discredited as a liar? And it would seem that any investigation or action by the Synod of Bishops is non-existent (despite my being assured months ago that things were happening 'behind the scenes.') Can this be true? So this 'dark chapter' in the life of the Alaskan Diocese is over? Everything's all back to normal?
What did I miss? This is all a joke, right? An April Fool's prank.
But then again, why should I be so stupified, so amazed at the outcome of the Alaskan scandal? With our completely ineffectual Synod of Bishops (witness +Nikon's handling of his Diocesan Assembly for example, and +Tikon's inane comments on 'internet education'), how could I have expected them to "handle" this pathetic, disgusting, scandalous situation in Alaska? ...
I guess you can get away with just about anything in the Orthodox Church of America ....
#17 AnonPriest(AofC) on 2007-11-18 17:52
comments like these, and those from the recent addresses in Alaska, are chilling. Does no-one remember that to attribute God's work to the enemy is to commit sin against the Holy Spirit, which cannot be forgiven? Everyone on any side of the issues before us should in humility and caution refrain from such language, lest they find themselves to be mistaken....
#18 horrified on 2007-11-18 18:53
You indict Dn Wheeler of doing satan's work?? Forgive the bluntness of this, but are you on medication?? If were only one person in all of this whose hands are 100% clean, it is Dn Wheeler. I hope you are medicated, as it would clear you of a singularly worse alternative. Moreover, you fail to use Dn Wheeler's title, yet you capitalize the name of the adversary. Suzanne, forgive me, but you are very very wrong.
#19 Anonymous on 2007-11-18 19:31
Annuntio vobis dolorum magnum! Habemus Papam!
If you canvass these bishops, every one of them to a man would decry Papal Infallibility, but too many of them seem to believe in Episcopal Infallibility for themselves.
#20 Wayne Matthew Syvinski on 2007-11-18 19:34
There is truly a double standard at work here. Members of the laity commiting an unnear [sic] equivalent wrong do not get equal treatment.
How is it that a priest being investigated for impropriety is allowed to speak while a member of the laity speaks and is removed from his position? Reminds me of going to war and leaving the criminals at large.
Tis good a clergyman points it out first, lest only sharp minded laity simply scoff. Bless you good priest.
#21 Daniel E Fall on 2007-11-18 20:34
In psychology it is called a neurosis; this one being when a person cannot separate his behavior and people's reaction to it from his person. In this neurosis, any criticism of the behavior is an attack on the person. Let us dispense with this kind of behavior from our leaders. These people must go. They are a blight on the high calling to which we must strive. Right now we are wallowing in a mud hole.
#22 Anon. on 2007-11-18 21:40
Please read on to understand my question...
Why is it that a monastic is celibate?
Is that a requirement?
What is this based on?
If a monastic has straight or homosexual sexual relations is this wrong? If so how or why?
Can then anyone have sex with the monastic? why or why not?
I ask this only because if the allegations against Fr Isidore are in any part true - does this make him guilty of something?
If so... at what cost - what is the penalty or price?
Aren’t sexual feelings a part of human life - created in the image and therefore the supposed likeness of God?
Sure it may be used for procreation - but is anything else a major sin?
What about those who have more money than is needed to keep for food shelter, bills etc...
Is this a sin? Why or why not?
The question then becomes....
If any of the above issues is a sin... why then can monastics that covet and misuse or steal monies (entrusted to them) pay no penalty or reprimand for it? How grave are these actions when committed by Bishops performing these deeds in the name of Goodliness and Godliness?
If an ordained man stands [drunk] or incapacitated at the Altar does this constitute a crime in the eyes of the Canons of the Church?
Why or why not? What sin or crimes are acceptable and by whom?
I have witnessed persons told to "get out" for much less.
If a drunk man can stand at the Altar of God... why then can’t I? or why can’t a women being no less "sinless"
To tell the truth... haven’t we all had "hands" laid upon us at our Chrismation? Why is the hand of my baptismal priest (who never committed any sins or indiscretions like those by our synod) any less "clean" [read holy] when and where does Apostolic succession begin?
I am lost...totally lost here... no one... not one of our leaders have come clean... what is this ecclesiastical court about.... can or is it supposed to make interpretations on canon law? If it can’t police its own ranks why should anyone else pay heed to its directives?
I don’t know that Isidore is wrong here... He is still the Chancellor of Alaska... what then can I make of this? Is there any mention of what or why this is allowed to be; for goodness sake?
Those of us who witnessed the very intoxicated behavior of the man - know what I mean.... some of us are professionals who can make legal decisions on matters such as these... under the laws of our state and country!
Many a lesser ranking man has paid dearly for much much less... shouldn’t he be called to a standard in line with his rank and responsibility?
I dare anyone who reads this post and website to lay bets on the future of Fr John Dunlop… I have known this man personally for a great many years....
I too have witnessed his so called bishop call him Fr Nobody... and make some sort of comments that maybe someday he might be somebody...
In our legal system this a chargeable offense of verbal and psychological abuse... emotional strangulation too...
Imagine a man who is multi-generational cradle orthodox.... called to serve the Lord and Church from an early age... being tortured by word and deed while being held fast by the bindings of "obedience"
What breaks first.... and for those of us who are not only human but devout Christians... where will our well placed allegiance put us?
Is this the same allegiance we should all view our actions by and through? What if our trust and allegiance is placed in the hands of a less than honorable place - maybe even upon the sweat of Satan's evil deeds themselves? What then? Is this wrong?
Where do I go from here? I see and hear a lot of smoke and mirrors...
Drawing cartoons alleging forgiveness and piety for humility...
Is this all really only about forgiveness... yet in the same speech call the medium (internet) evil or a tool of the same?
Who gave this creature power of judgement and due process... and what sort of monastic humility leads one to proclaim himself chosen..
#23 anonymous in Kodiak on 2007-11-18 23:33
You have got to just be in awe of the parallels here... From 'The Caine Mutiny' writeup.
Queeg, a 1936 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and formerly an officer on a destroyer, is assigned as captain of the U.S.S. Caine, a minesweeper stationed in the Pacific during World War II. It is his first command. He is initially welcomed by the crew as a tough, no-nonsense veteran, who will shape up the ship after his slovenly predecessor's departure.
After a honeymoon period, it becomes apparent that Queeg is prone to eccentric behavior. Queeg displays a micro-managing command style and (sometimes unprovoked) angry outbursts. As time passes, he begins to make mistakes that endanger his crew. He neglects to order the ship to stop turning while reprimanding a crew member for having his shirttail out, and so the ship steams over its own towline, parting it. When called on the carpet by a superior after this incident, he refuses to acknowledge it happened, or to admit blame in any way. His superiors are not satisfied, but allow him to retain command.
The Caine is sent to San Francisco for an overhaul. Queeg uses the opportunity to take home, against the letter of Naval Regulations, a case of alcohol. He orders the Caine across the Bay to Oakland to drop off the crate before going to San Francisco. Queeg's contradictory orders to the boat crew which he orders to take the crate ashore cause the loss of the crate. When a subordinate requests leave, Queeg brings up the boat incident and implies (falsely) that the officer was responsible. The officer can take a hint, and reimburses Queeg for the lost liquor.
Another episode which highlights Queeg's behaviors occurs when a quart of strawberries vanish from the wardroom icebox. Remembering how he helped solve a mystery involving a similar theft when he was an ensign earlier in his career, Queeg attempts to recreate his former accomplishment by insisting the strawberries were pilfered by a crewmember with a duplicate key. Queeg orders every key on the ship collected, and a thorough search made. During the search, the captain is confronted with evidence that the messboys ate the strawberries. Queeg loses all enthusiasm for the search, though he orders it to continue, and it is continued in a desultory way amid public mocking of the captain.
You can almost map the characters there one for one.
#24 Anonymous on 2007-11-19 01:15
What moral scandal?
We keep hearing rumours and innuendo, but no-one seems prepared to spell it out. What am I missing here?
Should we not either put up or shut up?
#25 Anthony on 2007-11-19 04:27
Thank you for that comment, Fr. Daniel,
The entire story of the native Americans and how they were treated at the hands of the American government is tragic and chilling. I would like to visit the Cherokee Indian Reservation in northern western North Carolina (not sure of the exact location) as well as their extended home in Oklahoma some day. We learned about the Cherokee's plight in one of our graduate classes.
God be with you!
#26 Patty Schellbach on 2007-11-19 11:27
Oh dear. We angels of Satan must try not to sink under the weight of Suzanne's disapproval, but must soldier on bravely. Stay strong, everybody!
#27 Scott Walker on 2007-11-19 11:58
Come on, this a popular rhetoric in the Orthodox Church, not just the OCA, and dates back to the times of the Holy Fathers...
Just recently, Met. Herman accused two whole dioceses (W. Pa and Midwest) and an Archbishop of Midwest of doing the work of the devil (http://www.ocanews.org/news/MIngpJunction10.14.07.html)
I would really like to understand how the members of the Synod are conversing in the same room and issuing joint statements after that kind of language is being used by the presiding bishop... I admit I've asked this question before, but I still haven't heard a satisfying answer: a huge part of the "job description" of these people is "rightly to divide the word of your truth". How can they be so stupendously careless with words?!
#28 Inga Leonova on 2007-11-19 12:11
Well, you can thank the great Robert Kondratick. Nikolai's elevation was definitely one of RSK's most proudest moments in a chancellorship of innumerable astounding moments and now we all get to live with the results.
Remember, this guy was paraded up and down the Eastern seaboard after his "consecration" by the venerable RSK....
If there is any one reason why Kondratick should remain deposed, his buddy in Anchorage is it!
#29 Anonymous on 2007-11-19 12:22
The First Rule of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary Fight Club is that there is no St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary Fight Club. May Nikolai would like to join Fight Club.
#30 Anonymoose on 2007-11-19 15:03
TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!
A vast majority of those in REAL power are either clergy or relatives of clergy.
"any motion to withhold would have to have a 60% majority to pass"
Canons, By-laws, hierarchical, statutes, Corinthians, ………… etc.
I must be an idiot if I think it will ever be "REALLY" fixed.
Every day that goes by, another NAIL is hammered into the OCA coffin.
There is not equipment large or strong enough to remove them all.
I am positive that I will never be as strong an Orthodox as I once was.
TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!
STOP THE MONEY
#31 Ande on 2007-11-19 15:17
Ben Ardinger (from St Hermans Seminary Board) is a very great man. He is also a very wealthy man and as such, I'm sure Ben has contributed as much financially to the seminary (and probably a great deal more+) than any other individual or entity ever has. This, of course, is in addition to all the time he has spent with the seminary since it's inception (he's lived in Kodiak since 1963).
Bishop Nikolai+??? dismissed Ben, the greatest single benefactor that St. Herman's Seminary has ever had. Why was he dismissed? Because he simply questioned the wisdom regarding the dismissal of another great man, Paul Sidebottom. Paul was dismissed for telling the truth regarding a particular incident that was of great embarrassment to the Bishop.....?
An evil tree cannot and will not bear good fruit! Let us ALASKANS rid ourselves of this poison, for this man could not be from God. Let us QUICKLY cut this tree down and cast it into the fire!
#32 The Orthodox in Alaska on 2007-11-19 23:22
there definitely is no “closure” on all of this.
There definitely is no closure.
If Fr. Isidore and +Nikolai were so innocent, why did they have to have a sham investigation? Is the Synod of Bishops going to ever give the results of the sham investigation? Or are they just going to let the Church continue to hemorrhage souls? It’s clear they only care if it’s financial.
#33 Anonymous on 2007-11-20 11:50
Hmmm....so you left the OCA? What will you tell Christ when HE asks you what you did to defend HIS church in America?
And just out of curosity......where have you gone that the devil is not there?
#34 Juliana on 2007-11-20 18:55
I agree, Anthony. i have no idea what people are referring to, coupling the name of +Theodosius with moral scandal. What's he supposed to have done? To those who keep making these implications I'd say; either come out with it, or keep the inuendo to yourselves.
#35 AnonPriest(A.ofC.) on 2007-11-20 22:16
+Nikolai is but the latest example of severe dysfunction in the OCA. As a former supporter of St Herman's Seminary and the Diocese of Alaska, I just want the Bishop to know, as I have tried to communicate to +Herman: NO MORE MONEY. I -- and everyone else who knows anything about the situations you two gentlemen have created -- know that you don't care about the faithful, the Church, the Life of the World to Come, the Kingdom, or Christ, but I do suspect that you care about money; this is what fuels your totally broken world(s) of illusion. And I just want the two of you to know that having made significant financial contributions in the past, this is one member of the laity who doesn't need the likes of either of you to point-out Satan to me, because it's quite clear where Satan dwells. And you'll be getting NO MORE MONEY out of me. And, the next time I'm in Alaska, I'll be visiting the Antiochian church up in Eagle River, not the OCA church anywhere, not while +Nikolai is in charge there.
+Nikolai: NO MORE MONEY! +Herman: NO MORE MONEY!!
At first, I thought it was just incompetence. After what has gone on, and the way it has gone on, now I can see: It is malicious behavior on the part of both of you. Malicious, cruel, deceitful behavior, as you surround yourselves with your cronies and minions, and seek to drive-out those who see you for what you are. I just hope that your Archimandrites and fellow-Bishop supporters are really, really wealthy, because pretty soon, they'll be the only ones left for you to fleece! As for the Caine Mutiny, well, at least Queeg was mentally ill; these two pseudo-bishops are just plain mean and deceitful. The 2008 AAC had better retire these two, or there won't be a Church afterwards.
#36 C.C. on 2007-11-21 04:05
You are right on target!
The former Chancellor is guilty of many things, but the most egregious and damaging is the promotion of Bishop Nikolai, and others like him, to positions of leadership in the OCA. It will take years to pluck from the tree the poisoned fruits of this flawed eschatology, which by the way is shared by the Metropolitan and most of the other bishops. They had their hand in this as well. We shall soon see if it leads our bishops to reverse their recent deposition of Mr. Kondradick.
The "imperial" and "autocratic" episcopate is at the heart of all the problems facing the OCA, and worldwide Orthodoxy as well. This "tradition" has evolved over time to the point that it has become a perversion of what we see and hear in the Gospels. As a conservative, I am loath to abandon or modify tradition (although I don't concede that this warped eschatology is a "true" tradition) unless it is clearly at odds with what reason and experience dictate.
We are now clearly at that point.
#37 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-11-21 07:43
Sexual Immorality in the Church
I am normally not motivated to respond to other’s posts but a number of them concerning sexual immorality have prompted me. There seems to be many misunderstandings of the expectations required for a Church hierarch. The traditional Orthodox belief, as I understand it, is that faith in Jesus Christ, when properly expressed through the sacraments and traditions of the Orthodox Church, is transformational. This means we actually have the ability to become like Christ - we have the ability to stop sinning. Perhaps many have forgotten this, or no longer believe that in this modern world (particularly in America) that this is even possible. The monks on Mount Athos keep this practice, sometimes called the “threefold way” (well described in Markides’s “Mountain of Silence”) of repentance > purification > illumination alive. One starts to become a Christian by repenting, and through constant repentance and struggle, one is purified, and after one is purified one can be illumined and become a vessel of the Holy Spirit. The important caveat here is that one cannot become a vessel of the Holy Spirit until after one has gone through the purification phase. In other words, the gifts of the Spirit can come only to those with holiness.
Why is this important? In the West, the understanding of this process is fundamentally different. The practice started in Catholicism whereby the Holy Spirit was understood to reside with the primacy of the Pope; that is, with a function of office, independent of whether the actual pope was purified or holy. This is the very important distinction. Over the centuries this in turn led to the Protestant belief that individual faith alone can bring forth the acquisition of the Holy Spirit – we can all become “popes”. This is essentially the fundamental problem with all western Christian denominations, and the main difference between them and Orthodoxy. If the acquisition is a function of ecclesiastical office – or mere human will through “faith” – then the threefold way of attaining holiness through prayer, struggle and fasting can be bypassed entirely. Could it be that this western influence has affected the Orthodox Church in this country, both in how the laity views the hierarchy and how members of the hierarchy view themselves?
Many on these postings have wondered why the bishops were traditionally pulled from the monastic ranks, and the reason is that only they would have attained a level of purification and illumination – holiness – through their monastic life such that they could be trusted by the community to be a worthy Bishop. In our Western world, we have a tendency to place an emphasis on knowledge and studies, and while this is important, it is almost completely unrelated to Holiness. One can know everything about the Orthodox Church – and “Best Practices” - and be a complete wretch inside. Accountability and best practices cannot serve as a replacement for holiness. Critically, if any of our hierarchs, bishops or priests is engaged in willful, repeated sexual immorality, be it homosexual or heterosexual in nature, it is a clear sign that they, as people, may not have not repented or even started with the “threefold way”.
As a result, it is certain that any Orthodox Bishop, Priest or Layman who is engaged in such behavior has no business holding any ecclesiastical office. This is not an issue of repentance and forgiveness. This is because such a person, who has not reached a level of spirituality or holiness, would simply not be able to properly lead the Church, still being full of unrepented sin and pride. In earlier times it was clear that being holy and being purified was a prerequisite to holding such an office or even daring to interpret the Holy Scriptures - this is why many monks would spend years in the wilderness before being called to lead.
Today, perhaps we are so bombarded with the sexual immorality of our days that we don’t even realize how serious an issue it is, and we brush it off as just “normal”, just like we tolerate our teenage and college age children having sex these days because it has also become “normal”. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The standards of sin have not changed with the times – only the times have. Today, we have very few Americans suggesting to their children to become priests, monks or nuns. Instead we have a steady stream of converts seeking for the truth. Inadvertently, they may bring their preconceptions of the Church from other denominations with them. Because so few cradle Orthodox are remaining truly Orthodox – from personal encounters with holiness handed down from the previous generations – this experience of and emphasis on holiness could be slowly replaced with the Western emphasis on knowledge.
Our Orthodox Church needs to produce more saints. The burden is on us all to apply the traditions of our church and actually practice them in our daily lives, with serious prayer, fasting and abstinence, believing that the “threefold way” can work for us and that we can become transformed. Sexual immorality is a sign of spiritual immaturity; of spiritual darkness – a sign that we severely lacking true Orthodox Christian leaders.
#38 Gene Bohensky on 2007-11-21 09:41
This has always been a part of this scandal. The original letter from Fr. Dcn. Wheeler contained the allegation that much of the money that was misappropriated went to pay blackmail to coverup homosexual misdeeds by Theodosius and others, although this was removed from the version that was subsequently made public. Since then, others have shared other information, although admittedly not so direct.
I believe that these serious moral failings have led directly to the rest of the more visible misdeeds.
#39 Another anon priest on 2007-11-21 14:51
Does anyone know:
The status of the property at 33 Hewitt Ave, Bronxville, NY?
Is it being used?
Any plans for it?
Its market value? Etc?
#40 Ande on 2007-11-21 17:09
Juliana, please. The OCA is not synonymous with The Church. If the OCA implodes next week, The Church will abide.
#41 Scott Walker on 2007-11-21 18:11
Thanks for a thoughtful post. Two questions. If married bishops were good enough for St. Paul, (1st Timothy 3:2) why are they not good enough for us? Are you asserting that only monastics are capable of attaining to holiness? Regarding the first question, it seems to me that if Scripture conflicts with Canon, perhaps we might reconsider the Canon. Reagrding the second, I confess to being disturbed by the idea floating around some Orthodox circles that there are two grades of Christians: monastics and second-best. (I do not attribute this view to you, BTW) Any reading of history shows that monastics are fully as capable of sin and folly as anybody else. Those two quibbles aside, I think you're spot on.
#42 Scott Walker on 2007-11-21 18:31
I very much enjoyed your comments. Well said.
#43 Patty Schellbach on 2007-11-21 18:44
The practice started in Catholicism whereby the Holy Spirit was understood to reside with the primacy of the Pope;
Please, if you are going to make comments like this, first educate yourself enough on the issue at hand so that you have some idea what you are talking about.
You might want to start with the sections in the Catechism dealing with the Holy Spirit.
A Catholic Observer
#44 Anonymous on 2007-11-21 22:28
In response to your query, as you know, there are a number of Orthodox Churches, fully in communion, here in the United States. Undoubtedly there is sin in any Orthodox Church. The difference is that where I've gone, I'm not being asked to subsidize a systematic pattern of fraud, embezzlement, and breach of fiduciary duty, as well as an ongoing cover-up of the same. Thanks much for your concern, though.
#45 Gregory Grant on 2007-11-21 22:34
Gene wrote: "The important caveat here is that one cannot become a vessel of the Holy Spirit until after one has gone through the purification phase. In other words, the gifts of the Spirit can come only to those with holiness."
I echo Scott Walker's compliment that Gene's email is indeed a thoughtful post.
However, I wonder if Gene has thought through the implications of his demanding version of Orthodox theology. Just consider the baptism of infants; under Gene's formulation, the baptized baby could not be a vessel for the Holy Spirit (no purification phase yet). So, the sponsor, rather than the baby, should be chrismated? Indeed, why even bother to baptize the baby?
On the other hand, Gene is correct to stress the need for our leaders to have personal "holiness." I have said this in another, perhaps cruder way: a church leader (deacon, priest, bishop, patriarch, starosta, etc...) ceases being a leader when he loses his personal authority and has to rely on his formal authority. By personal authority I mean those personal qualities (character, piety, holiness, job expertise, etc...) that have made him a true leader--that is somebody who is followed because of who he is and does rather than what he is.
#46 Carl on 2007-11-22 13:29
Hewitt Ave. might be the property of the old NY/NJ diocese........as such would fall under the locum tenens of the Metropolitan.......classy neighborhood, located at the end of a cul-de-sac. with a brook & bridge in the back......recent interior renovations
#47 Guileless on 2007-11-22 17:55
Looks like the economical future of the 'leaders' of the OCA is assured. They will all be able to live well in their 'declining' years with the funds realized as empty churches and OCA properties are gradually sold off.
#48 Yanni on 2007-11-23 16:35
You are quite right.
"The Spirit blows where it wills...but you do not know whence it comes from or wither it goes" John3:8. I think the referenced comment was really addressing the "teaching authority" of the bishops v. the Pope, but, in any event, the Holy Spirit chooses its own venues as the Gospel says. Note to clerics--that includes the laity.
On the whole, I found Mr. Bohensky's post well argued, although I was somewhat put off by its "triumphalist" tone. Claims to being the one true Church often ignore the fact that those outside the visible structure of the institutional Church may, and often are, to be numbered among the saints. Even worse is the mentality, of which the Bishop of the God Blessed Diocese of Alaska is Exhibit A, that leads to ignoring wrongs and sins perpetrated by "God's elect."
Humility and charity seem to be in short supply these days.
#49 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-11-24 07:33
I got a gramota from Bp. Nikolai in exchange for my 'generous contribution' to the seminary. I am sending it back. No more money (small as my contribution was) until things are cleaned up, hopefully by another bishop.
#50 James Morgan on 2007-11-24 17:12
Who are you to attack any Bishop?
What has the world come to, mocking his vestments? that he is Canonicly prescribed to wear. What do you want him to wear.? How does all this ring true. Here in Alaska, ask the Priests that serve Bishop Nikoai! What has he done? He has served our Diocese to the best of his capability. What have you done for Alaska? I ask only that you pray and seek the whole truth. The devil works in half truths, you know that. Any attack on Alaska, is an attack against the 5 great Alaskan Saints, and what they have planted here. Who would dare do such a thing knowingly? Therefore this must be impulsive behavior, not the result of spiritual knosis. In love, I ask you to reconscider your words.
#51 father david ogan on 2007-11-24 18:11
Brilliant Strategy Your comment hit's it right on the head:
"Looks like the economical future of the 'leaders' of the OCA is assured. They will all be able to live well in their 'declining' years with the funds realized as empty churches and OCA properties are gradually sold off."
I must be slow, I often wondered about the new expensive churches being built in New England and South Carolina, etc.
It's easier to get donations from parishioners, thinking it is for their "CHURCH"; when it is really donations to clergy assets! Many older churches are in the peoples names, although the clergy try to brainwash parishioners otherwise. By building new churches and other new buildings, the deeds will be in the name of the OCA. Especially in Mission Parishes.
#52 Ande on 2007-11-25 14:24
It's not an attack on Alaska, Father. The bishop is not the Church, especially when he reigns as a petty tyrant. The point about the vestments hearkens back to Christ's comment about the scribes and pharisees, who looked really, really good, too. I'm sorry, but the bishop of Alaska is a cruel and angry man who disgraces the high office he holds. Judging from his address, he's also at least a little narcissistic; what else is it when he reduces the current scandal roiling Christ's faithful in the OCA to being all about HIM? Who am I to attack a bishop? Nobody much. I have a powerful aversion to spiritual abuse, and those who practice it. I like to think I'm telling the truth, as best I understand it. I do not wish to offend the suffering clergy and people of Alaska, but if pointed comments from the gallery offend His Grace, so it goes.
#53 Scott Walker on 2007-11-25 22:21
If that is the case, then surely the proper thing to do on the part of those who have access to this information is present it to the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities so that an investigation can be made, the truth or otherwise of the accusations determined,
and any appropriate action taken.
It is an offence against natural justice for these accusations to be circulated by any other means, whether electronic or word of mouth. Further to the matter of the pursuit of justice, there are also of course spiritual dimensions to this, both for the subject(s) of any auch accusations and the accusers.
(Editor's note: That assumes of course that once the "authorities" are informed an investigation would be conducted. That has not always been the case. What then?
#54 Anthony on 2007-11-26 17:02
Then, Mark, it is upon their heads.
But in the meantime, everyone must act in a way which honors God and does justice to their fellow Christian.
#55 Anthony on 2007-11-28 06:15
Your ramblings are pure gobbletygook of the variety peddled as theology in Alaska these days by those clergy who put their self-interest first.
#56 anonymous on 2007-11-29 00:50
How is it determined who owns the churches in Alaska?
Other than maybe Anchorage and a couple of other newly built churches all were built by members in their respective communities - never with any financial assistance from Russia or the OCA.
What can be done to make this determination?
#57 Ted Panamarioff on 2007-11-29 11:34
I would like to thank everyone who has responded and elaborate further on a few points. I am certainly no theologian, but even after my only limited reading of the writings of the Church fathers and the Lives of Saints, I am again compelled to respond.
"The Spirit blows where it wills...but you do not know whence it comes from or wither it goes" John3:8.
The Orthodox Church has a very good understanding of how the Holy Spirit works within the confines of our Church. This understanding and experience has been passed down to us through our Church fathers in our Sacred Tradition. They are the ones that have been given the gifts of the spirit, including miraculous healing, prophecy and clairvoyance. Many Christian groups and many Orthodox believe that the age of miracles is over; yet our Lives of Saints prove otherwise.
With respect to the Catholic Observer, the Orthodox understanding of the action of the Holy Spirit is indeed fundamentally different. My short characterization if the practical effects of the filioque, the teachings of Thomas Aquinas and of course the doctrinal infallibility of the Pope is probably poor. I am no expert by any means; but by the same token the differences and deviations are real as are their practical repercussions. Admitting them hardly means that “humility and charity” is in short supply. Our Orthodox fathers have provided for us very good guidelines, and many of them have been paid for by the blood of Martyrs. Some of them are posted here in a very good overview, for those who are interested.
In my humble opinion, it is the experience of the spiritual life that seems to be in short supply these days, which might be the real reason why humility and charity has gone with it. Personally, I view myself coming back to the Orthodox Church as a prodigal son. After getting married and being blessed with three children, I realized I needed to make fundamental changes in order to be a good father. I have experienced our Orthodox life to a therapeutic one, provided for us for our transformation and salvation. In my short experience I can attest that these changes are real, and that I may be on the path to stop sinning so much.
In early September 1944 in Gatchina, Russia my mother’s family was told they had to board up their house and get on a train. They were taken by the Germans to work in the labor camps. They had no way of getting their belongings to the train station – all they owned was a sled. My great grandmother went to Church and prayed for snow, and a time when it normally does not snow, so that they could pull what they had to the train station. A miracle occurred, and it snowed for them. My family has always attributed this to a miracle of God and the power of prayer. My great grandmother had a simple, yet iron strong faith. She attained holiness and served as an example the next generations. She attained gifts of the spirit.
I sincerely believe that if we, as a group of Orthodox Christians, attain a higher level of spirituality and holiness, it will be easier to tell which leaders are the true ones, and which ones just know a lot and are sharp with their tongues. With true holiness we are at first humble, and yet not afraid to speak the truth. We won’t be confused. Our Saints are with us, praying for us. They have seen this before. We have been through this before. Let us not be afraid.
#58 Gene Bohensky on 2007-11-29 14:29
That's a good question; the church here in Aak'w Aanì (Aak’w Kwáan Tlingit Territory, now Juneau) was built on land given to the church by my clan, the Auk Kwaan Tlingit L'eeneidí Yaxte Hít (Raven-Dog Salmon Clan-Big Dipper House). Our clan leaders and the other house leaders also donated money, labor, and supplies, many of which were acquired, no doubt, through Potlatching and wage labor. This was 1893, long before the OCA even existed...
#59 Moses on 2007-11-29 15:08
I never said the OCA is synonymous with The Church...nonetheless, the OCA IS part of the extended Orthodox church family....I guess I just never believed in running away from "family" problems....no matter how bad things get....and the prospect of the OCA or any other jurisdiction imploding....doubt it will happen....but then again, I tend to be optimist.
#60 Juliana on 2007-11-29 15:27
I count my blessings to be part of a beautiful church here in the OCA. With the many miracles and beautiful services that have taken place in our amazing little church, I could never desert her...especially over people who have made disappointing choices. Fortunately, they are not the church.
I hope you have truly found what I could never give up.
#61 Juliana on 2007-11-29 15:41
thanks for your response;
I would like to hear more about what legal options there are.
I understand several parishes in the lower 48 got their churches back...
It would seem that this might be the only plausible way to accomplish a positve end.
#62 Ted Panamarioff on 2007-11-30 23:28
Gifts of the Spirit can not be "attained"; they are just that, gifts -i.e., gratis...free!
#63 Anthony on 2007-12-03 15:34
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